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Posted on Feb 27, 2014 | 0 comments

Review: Mahina Expeditions Seminar

Sunrise on Lake Michigan

We got to the seminar a little earlier than we planned…

 

For the last couple of years, Dan and I had been planning to attend a Mahina Expeditions Offshore Cruising Seminar at Strictly Sail Chicago. We believed that the information we would obtain would be exceptionally helpful to us in preparing for our time cruising, however we wanted to wait until the year that we intended to start so that the information would stay as fresh in our minds as possible. This year we finally decided to pony up our $300, arrange for a babysitter, and spend the whole day in the company of John and Amanda Neal.

So, was it worth the price? I’d say “yes” with a few caveats. First of all, the seminar was extremely well done. The Neals have had more experience on the water than most couples in the world and the do an excellent job of imparting their knowledge to others. On the flip side, one day is not enough…period. We knew that it would be a lot of information in a short amount of time, but by the end of the day I literally left with a headache, feeling partially brain dead. For anyone who might be slightly (or more than slightly) on the A.D.D. side, this may not be the best way to process the information for you.

Luckily, they’ve written the companion manual (included in the course) to have all of the information and much more so we have been able to reference it and process everything slowly over the last few weeks. They sell the Offshore Cruising Companion on their website www.mahina.com*. I can unequivocally recommend this book, even at the $50 price point. An unbelievable amount of useful information is contained in the book, everything from recommended equipment lists (with specific brands and prices) to how to clear into a country properly to dealing with fears and uncertainty about cruising. I believe that it is one of the best resources available in sheer volume of topics covered, and they’re covered well.

An unexpected benefit of the seminar was the number of field experts we were able to meet and talk with during the breaks throughout the day. John and Amanda were readily available to answer individual questions and their colleague Pete McGonagle was very informative about the current boat market as a broker and fellow cruiser. George Day of Blue Water Sailing, Nigel Calder (highly respected mechanical and diesel engine author), and Paul and Sheryl Shard of the Distant Shores TV show also stopped by to add their expertise.

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We won a West Marine gift card for being the nearest to leaving on our cruise…or maybe just because we were the surprise “youngsters” in the room!

If I were to say one thing about this course, it would be that I wish we wouldn’t have waited so long to take it. Because we have already spent so many hours researching a good portion of the topics ourselves, a lot of the information was no longer new to us. Especially because the manual so thoroughly covers the topics, we could have taken the seminar a year or two ago and then used the manual as review once we actually got closer to “go time”. We recommend the same for others who want to get the highest value from the course.

 *We are not currently affiliated with Mahina Expeditions in any way. We just think their book is worth sharing!

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Posted on Jan 31, 2014 | 0 comments

Strictly Sail Chicago 2014

Frozen Lake Michigan at Sunrise

Welcome to Chicago! Looks like those boats will have to be trucked in!

As part of a much needed vacation from house hunting and work, Dan and I spent last weekend at Strictly Sail Chicago. Our 3rd year attending, we were really looking forward to the show as we had saved the more “in-depth” seminars until we would be close to leaving. We figured that we would want the very practical information still fresh in our minds when the time came to actually start cruising. I’m glad we did because the classes we attended this year felt like they were tailor made for us!

View of the main exhibition hall

It took us 2 days to get through all of the booths

Everyone has a different view about cruising, especially those who have been doing it for many years. The more seminars we attend and individuals we talk to, the more we realize there is no “right” way to cruise. While much of the speakers’ experiences were similar, many times they gave contradictory advice! We have quickly learned that we find the best value in listening to people that we respect and adapting their lessons to our own budget, knowledge, and comfort level.  No matter how well a particular tactic has performed for another person, it may be completely useless to us.

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Learning to splice

An unexpected benefit of this year’s show was the networking with other bloggers and editor’s from sailing magazines. In fact, a big thank you to Kevin over at SailFarLiveFree.com for a set of free tickets to the show!  Everyone was extremely friendly and welcoming and we are hoping to be able to work with many of them in the future. Lin Pardey herself introduced us to Herb McCormick, the editor of Cruising World, saying “These guys will certainly make some good pictures, don’t you think?” I couldn’t agree more, Lin!

Carter and Dan sanding a toy boat

Now if we could just get him to stop making this face when we tell him to smile!

Now that the show is over, I can tell that both Dan and I are really starting to feel the excitement build. We’ve been sitting on the tarmac for a long time, but we are finally taxiing towards take-off. And let me tell you, it feels pretty good.

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Dan and Carter on inflatable slide

Mom and Dad weren’t the only ones having fun!

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Posted on Jan 23, 2014 | 0 comments

So Close and Yet So Far: Morgan Out Island 372 Review

Morgan Out Island 372

Not exactly her best side.

With the sale of our house pending and the realization that our current savings was adequate for a boat purchase, I decided to start digging through Craigslist and Sailboatlistings.com to explore the for sale by owner boat market. And by digging, I mean a solid 4 hours endlessly scrolling through terrible listings trying to discern which ones were even close to what we were looking for. I mean, come on people, a few pictures of the interior and an actual description would be nice. In the course of this mind-numbing search, I came across what seemed impossible…a Morgan Out Island 372 for sale in Peoria, Illinois. Not only that, but the pictures looked okay and it was listed in our purchase price range at $26,000. I instantly sent the listing to Dan to take a look at and contact the seller.

I’m not going to lie, I was so excited I could hardly sit still. I mean, how perfect could it get? A boat that we would like, in our price range, literally 5 minutes from home? I was starting seeing a Great Lakes route to the Atlantic, a going away party with friends and family that ends with the casting off of lines, the luxury of working on the boat ourselves while still being able to work full time…I have an active imagination. I just knew this had to be the boat for us. We heard back quickly from the seller who provided us with a fairly recent survey that looked decent, another bonus. It was time to see her in person.

Aaand we were severely disappointed. To be fair, it seemed that the bones of the boat were in good shape, no major structural issues and all that. In fact, we really liked the layout and overall set-up of the boat. However, this boat had so many terrible modifications that just made us go “why did you do that!” over and over again. The water heater had been removed and sold, along with the gimbaled stove which had been replaced by a portable cooler. The icebox refrigeration had been sliced and diced to make way for a dorm sized front loader that had to be held shut with a bungy cord. The cabin sole was badly damaged and covered by ugly carpet. One of the settees had been modified into a pull-out bed with a spring support system… effectively eliminating any potential for storage space below. Trust me, I could go on. Not only were there so many cosmetic issues to be dealt with, but there were many safety issues evident as well such as the gooseneck on the mast being replaced with a “custom-designed” piece by a welder friend because it was too difficult to find the actual part. Um yea, not going to go there, thanks though. I guess the search continues.

Want more pictures? Check out the Morgan Out Island 372 photo set on flickr. While you’re there, check out our flickr photostream to see what we’re up to!

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Lovely anchor and rotted bowsprite

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I almost forgot to mention the dogder and bimini with ripping seams and fogged windows.

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If you look closely, you can see the awesome caulk job on the portholes.

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The seller told us “Not to worry, all British engines leak oil!”

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Most of the original teak cabin liners were rotted and covered over by similarly bad choices of wall coverings.

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You can see here the huge icebox…destroyed for a dorm fridge.

 

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Posted on Aug 7, 2013 | 0 comments

Look It Up

Don't know what kind of moth this is? We didn't either so we looked it up!

Don’t know what kind of moth this is? We didn’t either until we looked it up!

Dan and I like to be thoroughly well prepared for big changes and new possibilities in life. When we have a problem, we search Google and figure out how to fix it. When I was pregnant with Carter, I spent hours researching online exactly what to expect and prepare for multiple different outcomes to the point that my doctors were always surprised that I knew exactly what they were talking about and had almost no questions at any of my appointments. Dan visited countless websites and forums along with talking to other landlords before we were confident that we could make well informed decisions about buying rental properties. What can I say? We like to be educated.

Recently, we realized that we had been somewhat slacking in the cruising education division. Sure, we read a lot of other people’s blogs and had spent a lot of time reading cruisersforum and other boating sites when we were first making up our plans, but we hadn’t done a lot of in depth training because we were so focused on the financials of making sure we could get going. That mindset has been able to shift over the last few weeks… We have now reached the point where our rental reserves (six months of expenses per house) and the initial cruising kitty (10k to start, but it will be replenished each month from our various income sources while cruising… think of it as working cash) are established. Now we move into the boat savings stage. It is exhilarating to know that every dollar saved will be building towards a new home. That might not seem like a big deal, but for us it has been a major eye opener. Now we need to make sure that we are ready when the money is!

To start things out right we purchased the full pack of NauticEd* Captain’s courses and have both been working through them together. These courses cover a huge range of topics from diesel engine maintenance and proper sail trim to safety at sea and storm tactics. We have been very impressed with the quality of instruction and depth of information provided from these courses and both of us feel a lot more confident that we will be able to sail our boat safely when the time comes. They even have nice PDF graphs and quick reference guides to laminate and keep on your boat with you as well as practical exercises that we’ll be able to work on together once we get our real boat.

Another course that we are planning to take is the Mahina Expedition seminar that is given at Strictly Sail every year. This seminar is highly rated and addresses a lot of the logistical issues of living on a sailboat. Provisioning, safety, clearing in and out of countries, and having pets on-board are just a few of the topics covered in the all day seminar. The Blue Water Boats list that we’ve been referencing in many of our posts is also created by the Mahina team. These people have a lot of experience under their belts and we’re hoping to take some of that and put it to use on our own journey.

Two other big areas of focus for our studies will be first aid skills and Dan’s SCUBA instructor course. We feel that Dan getting his instructor certification could be a major benefit to us in the future and could potentially give us some additional income throughout the year. The first aid classes we are a little less sure about where to start. Dan is currently EFR/CPR certified as part of his rescue diver certification last year and plans to get his EFR instructor certification at the same time he finishes the PADI instructor certification, which would make it easy for me to get EFR certified as well (which we plan to do.) However as anyone who has taken EFR or the Red Cross first aid class will know, these classes are designed to stabilize a patient until an ambulance or other trained medical staff can reach the patient which usually only takes a short time in comparison to the days it could take if someone was seriously injured at sea. We are currently trying to find other options that would give us a more thorough training, but are having a hard time finding something reasonably priced that we could both be trained in. The most promising so far has been the Wilderness First Response program but that is about $800/person and requires a week of hands-on training so we aren’t sure if we want to jump into that without more … research.

Do you know of any other classes we should consider taking in the next year of preparation? We’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment or shoot us an email from the Contact Us page.

*Use our coupon code followthehorizon at NauticEd to get $15 off any classes! (Full disclosure: we get a very small credit to our NauticEd account when you use this code)

We’ve also done some major updates to our To-Do List page! Click on over to check it out.

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Posted on Jul 31, 2013 | 0 comments

Boat Review: Krogen 38 and Morgan 382

After visiting the Cape Dory and Morgan Out Island in the marina at the broker’s office (check them out here: Boat Review: Morgan Out Island and Cape Dory 33), we followed our broker about half an hour away to a small boat yard that housed the next boat of the day, the Krogen 38. We hadn’t ever heard of a Krogen before looking at the broker’s website but were pleasantly surprised to find an extremely nice boat for the listing price of only $53,000. (Someone else must have thought the same due to the fact that the boat is now sold.)

According to the Kadey-Krogen Yachts page on the boat, the Krogen 38 is one of the only sailboats designed by the architect James Krogen. Krogen usually designed luxury trawlers but he designed this boat for himself as an ideal sailing cruiser for shallow areas like Florida and the Caribbean. It certainly seemed pretty ideal to us. There was tons of storage space everywhere, had very large bedrooms (or berths to sea people), and overall had the most “home-y” feel to us. As an extra bonus, it is cutter rigged which would be nice to have the extra flexibility of more sail options at sea. If we come across another one of these this time next year, there is a good chance we would buy one though with only 85 ever produced the chances are fairly low that we’ll find one. Good luck to whoever bought this boat, she was a beauty!

Being in a working boat yard was a new experience for us and the one that we were in had a huge assortment of boats in every stage of life. There were trawlers and sailboats, a 50′ wooden boat styled like a pirate ship, boats that were beautiful and well-cared for, and a couple that looked like they had been abandoned some time ago. We even saw a 30′ sailboat (with no mast in sight) hailing from Alaska! It looked like it had sailed the whole way, though I’m not sure from which direction. I would love to hear the stories that those boats have to tell.

The final boat of the day was the Morgan 382. This boat was clearly in the best shape of the four that we had toured and certainly made a good impression. A couple of the features that we liked were the settee design, large quarter berth area for Carter, U-shaped galley, and the general feel of the boat. The only thing that concerned us was the size of the V-berth, which would serve as our master bedroom. It seemed quite small compared to the other boats we had visited, but we would need to do additional tests to see if we could sleep in it comfortably. I might love the boat but if I can’t get a good night’s rest I would not be a happy sailor! Overall though, we really liked the boat and are much more likely to find one of these in our real search due to the wider production range of Morgans.

Do you have any boat model suggestions for us? Questions or comments? Leave a comment and let us know!

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