Change to change

On March 18, 2020, early afternoon, I was riding my bike home from work.  Schools were out because the Coronavirus had just hit our area.  As I crested the final hill home, I saw that there had been an accident at the next major intersection.  As I got closer, it kind of looked like our car was involved, but I couldn’t quite tell.  So, I decided I would ride closer to see, if wasn’t our car, I’d keep going around the block.  No biggie.  There reached a point where I could see my Spartan Race sticker on the back of the car that had been hit.  I dropped my bike into the yard of the nearest house and ran to the intersection to see if my wife was ok.  She was shaken, hit by the airbag, but otherwise uninjured.

As a result of that accident, we ended up needing to buy a new car.  Like most people, we financed a car.  It was one we could afford and it was a pretty nice car.  We took it into the mountains, drove it across the state more than once, it was a great car. 

Fast forward to our decision to sell everything and buy a boat.  We want a certain level of savings before we hit the high seas and we’ve been working to get there.  We diligently send money off to save every month, but it’s not as much as we’d like.  So, we started looking at expenses and where can we cut to be able to save more.  Cars kept coming up.  They probably have been our biggest expense lately.  So…what to do?  As we talked about what to do, the one thing that kept coming up is that if nothing changes, nothing will change.  If we didn’t do something different to increase our savings, we weren’t going to hit that goal of savings so we can set sail.

So, we changed something.  We sold that car, made enough on it that we could buy something pretty reliable outright and payoff one of the other cars.  It wasn’t an easy decision.  In fact, it was downright hard.  The car was comfortable.  It could take us most anywhere.  There was room in it for all of us…dogs and kids and us.  But it was also expensive.  Not really in gas, but insurance, car payments.  It ate up a lot of money, money that could be going to a boat. 

So, pretty quick here, what we send to savings will increase.  We’ll be back on the path that we want to be on.  Like I said, it wasn’t an easy decision.  It was pretty tough, but again, if we didn’t do something different, four years from now, we’d still be saving. 

As I write this and think about it, that’s true for a lot of things.  Physical health, relationships, life in general.  If you want things to change, you need to do something different.  We want to make a change in how we live life, and we have an amount that we think we can use to take care of us as we sail.  We needed to do things differently to get to that number.  For the time being that means that we needed to sacrifice some creature comforts to get where we want to go.

This also ties into some of what I believe about goal setting.  You have an end goal, but you also have lots and lots of little goals along the way.  And you have to take steps to reach each individual little goal.  Until pretty soon, the big goal is achieved.

So, the big goal is a sailboat.  Part of that is having enough in savings to take care of emergencies, repairs, etc.  What’s a step to get there, scale back on the lifestyle.  Find other ways to do what you want to do, so that you can still reach your goal.  Ultimately it means changing things.  Because if we don’t change things…then nothing is going to change.

Food Changes…

Making changes involves a lot flashy big exciting things, but it also involves a lot of little mundane run of the mill stuff.  I’ve struggled to come up with topics lately to write about, but as I was out on a short hike, I was thinking about some of the changes that we have been making lately, that are…well…a little basic…but still changes in our lives.

Years ago, we started buying a side a beef twice a year.  We ended up getting a second stand up freezer for this and kept things pretty well stocked.  The beef is incredible.  No doubt about it.  I love it.  The steaks are well marbled, they have great flavor.  We’ve really enjoyed it.  I think at the end of the day, it probably cost as much as going to the grocery store, I don’t know that we really saved anything, but it’s good meat.

As we are paring down our possessions, one of the things we sold was one of the freezers.  Additionally, we’ve decided not to order that side of beef.  Right about now would be the time to do it.  We’re getting low on ground beef, the steaks are mostly gone, all of the roasts are gone.  We’ve started to shift to less beef in our daily meals, to more meatless meals, chicken, or fish-based meals.  It’s forced me to get creative in cooking…trying to find new recipes, new ways of cooking.

Once we get to the boat, how we get food is going to change a bit.  We won’t have two standup freezers and an extra fridge freezer.  We might, depending on the boat, be able to get a small chest freezer (Sailing Nahoa has one on their boat) to keep some extra stuff to freeze, but we aren’t going to all that space.  Grocery shopping will change in that we will probably be buying more items that will store for longer periods of time.  Obviously, once we go to cross the Pacific or the Atlantic, we’ll need weeks of food (it’s about three weeks to a month to cross the Pacific), but fresh fruits and veggies don’t last weeks, so we’ll need to eat those fresh fruits and vegetables that go have a shorter shelf life first and then move on to root vegetables, which of course last longer.

It has been interesting as we’ve slowly changed eating.  I’ve found some vegetarian meals that I really enjoy (check out these roasted tomatillo black bean tacos).  I don’t know that I ever thought I’d enjoy a straight vegetable meal, but I’m pushing myself and us to think about other foods.  That’s going to be an absolute necessity as we go to new countries too…beets might not be available ☹.  But there’s going to be something new that we’ve never been exposed to and will love even more than what we are used to eating here at home. 

As I’ve watched several of our “friends” on YouTube, I’ve also noticed that people to varying degrees try to live off the ocean too.  The Wayward Life has taken this to an amazing level.  They pickle kelp, pick wild onions off the coast of British Columbia, catch salmon.  Of course they go to grocery stores too, but they try to minimize that as well.  The Wynns don’t do it quite as much, but I noticed the other day they will harvest things like sea lettuce to make their salads, I don’t know how much else they do, but they do try it seems like.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love a good grilled ribeye, but I no longer try to plan that into the menu even monthly.  In fact, rather than spending a good chunk of change on a side of beef, I was ecstatic when I found grouper at a local grocery store and was able to make fish tacos out of grouper…sure it was caught, frozen, and shipped, but still I don’t remember the last time I had grouper!  I know some folks have gone from hardcore meat and potatoes to vegetarian overnight and I say, good for you.  Changing food in our family is a slow process but it’s happening.  I’ll share some recipes coming up.  Most will likely be reblogged, but I’ll still share some.  There aren’t a lot of recipes that I have created myself.  Will some of them that I share be with us on the boat?  I don’t know, but knowing that changes are happening gives me some feelings of hope from moving forward.

Traditions

Let me start by apologizing for not having anything new lately.  Two things here.  One, between Thanksgiving and Christmas is always a busy time, as most of you can imagine.  So there hasn’t been a lot of time to write.  Two, there hasn’t really been a lot going on in terms of getting ready.   We’ve been living the day-to-day life, going to work, doing some Christmas shopping, trying to figure out what we ‘need’ for Christmas.  No exciting sailing lessons, scuba won’t happen until the Spring.  I’ll share with you where we are going to go for that after Christmas, it’s a little bit of a surprise for our son.  We’ve been looking at boats, watching our favorite YouTubers.  Watching our ASA 101 lessons again so that this spring we can go take that test and get our 101 and 103 certifications.  I’ve been playing with the camera we got this summer, trying to build my photography skills.

               Christmas is right around the corner and we’ve being doing our own style of Advent.  It’s morphed over the years, but the last several years we’ve saved shoe boxes and filled them with candy, gift cards, announcements of big things that we will do over the remainder of the break.  We rotate who gets to open the boxes.  This year we added a bit of funny stuff too, like boxes of Jiffy Cornbread along with some candy.  In some of the boxes that were gift cards, we added bags of rocks, just to give them some heft.  The first “box of rocks” that was opened generated a bit of surprise…and maybe a little disappointment until the giftcard was discovered in the tissue paper.

               Advent over the years has morphed.  When our oldest struggled with the anticipation of Christmas, my wife had the brilliant idea of hanging snowflakes around the house.  Each snowflake had a family activity for the evening, something for him to look forward too.  It made the Christmas season a bit easier, not a lot, but just a bit.  Enough that we were all able to enjoy it, for the most part.  From there it turned into small gifts, and eventually into what I just described.  I think one year we bought an Advent calendar from Starbucks and put the activities in each of the little tins that made up the calendar.

               As I write this, we are four days from Christmas.  There are four boxes left under the tree and every day, there’s a bit of excitement around the house as we all joke that it’s our day to open the advent box.  It’s a bit of fun and it’s a tradition that we have held onto over the years.  It might have changed, but even when we are celebrating Christmas on boat, whether it be in the Caribbean or Norway, I’m sure we’ll have something along these lines that we do to celebrate the season.  The surface of the tradition will change, but the tradition of having something to mark the days to Christmas won’t change.

               There are a few other traditions that we will keep too.  Christmas breakfast no doubt.  I tried once to do something different, it didn’t go well for me.  It didn’t feel like Christmas when I had a different breakfast.  For as long as I can remember, we had a sausage, egg, and cheese casserole for breakfast on Christmas.  Always with cheddar cheese.  One year I made it with pepper jack…it wasn’t the same.  So, we went back to the way it was the next year.  It became such a tradition for the boys that the first time I made it when it wasn’t Christmas, they both looked at me and said, “Why are we having this?  It’s not Christmas.” 

               As I think back over the years, we’ve created a lot of fun experiences with our traditions.  One that was always a lot of fun was to marathon the Lord of the Rings Trilogy over the course of a day and a half.  Usually, I would get up and do some baking in the middle of it, with some help from the boys.  But they loved to sit there watch the adventure of Frodo and Sam.   

               Traditions help us mark time and days of importance.  The surface of the tradition might change, but the meaning and the underlying substance will remain the same.  Change happens it’s a function of life.  Traditions help us cope with change, even when the change is self imposed.

Fear

I’ve been thinking a lot about what to write this week.  It’s been busy, and I’ve been struggling a little bit to develop a topic.  Really, with sailing season in the Rockies over till the spring, work is limiting travel, etc. about all we are left with is selling things in terms of getting ready.  I’ve already written a lot about selling stuff, so no need to expand on how that’s going.  However, having said that, we did sell a couch and love seat.  Honestly, it was time for it to go anyway.  It was worn out and time for a new home.  So we moved the other couch set we have to replace that one.  When we did that, it left a big open space in the basement…which our youngest promptly claimed as his bedroom!  Why not let him have it?

So that leaves an empty room…it also prompted the need for a dresser, so my chest of drawers was emptied and moved downstairs.  That leaves a giant open spot in our bedroom.  Just an empty wall.  Those empty spaces have made things a little more real about where we are headed.  It has prompted some fear too about what we are planning.  I mean seriously…living on a boat!  What the hell?!  Who does that!  Who quits their job and travels the world with half of the income that you’ve been accustomed to bringing in? 

After all, we have a good life, we really do.  A nice house, good job.  Kids are happy.  By most standards of any culture created by the agricultural revolution we are in a good spot.  We have a lot of incentive not to change what we are doing.

Fear can be a good thing.  Fear helps to keep us safe.  In his book, The Gift of Fear (this link will take you to Amazon), Gavin De Becker talks about how fear can be used to keep us safe from dangerous situations.  When you have that feeling in your gut as you approach your car, or something just doesn’t feel right when you are talking to someone, your gut or sense of fear is trying to tell you something in order to keep you safe.  Much of his work is about safety from violence, but at the same time, there are some aspects of it that can be extended beyond just violence.

 Fear can keep us safe from a variety of things.  Climbing too high on a rock without any safety gear, driving too fast on the highway, walking up to a strange dog in the neighborhood.  But at the same time, those signals of fear can also keep us from moving out of our comfort zone too.  I remember when I signed up for my first Spartan Race, the waiver basically says you are doing this knowing full well that you could get injured or even killed in the race.  I had heard stories about Tough Mudders, and people drowning in the mud pit.  There was some genuine fear as I headed into the race for the first time.  Even when I was in the race, there was an obstacle that was cargo netting draped over two container boxes stacked on top of each other.  I was afraid when I looked at the climb and across to the next set of container boxes. 

But I pushed through that fear to accomplish finishing the race.  Was it in record time?  No.  But I finished and I did something outside of my comfort zone.  What I learned from that is that I could let fear keep me comfortable and safe.  Or I could push myself, face the fear, knowing that I was reasonably ready for the race and that while I had heard horror stories, there were things that I could do to prevent those from happening to me.

I try to remember this when I look at those empty spaces in the house.  We are taking steps to keep safe when we move aboard.  We are taking sailing lessons.  We are learning how to operate a sailboat, and what safe conditions are.  When we move aboard, we will likely hire a sailing coach for a period of time to help us learn the ins and outs of life on the ocean.  Much of the fear that I am experiencing is really about the unknown.  There’s a lot of unknown.  I know the path that the traditional life holds.  You can pretty well predict what’s going to happen.  Sure, there are some unknowns, but overall, there are some safe bets.  The house gets paid off.   We retire. The kids get jobs.  Maybe there are grandkids, maybe not.  There are some pretty safe bets.  Some of those will happen regardless of what we do, living on a boat or living in a house.

 But there are some things, I can about guarantee that will never happen if we live in a house.  Swimming with blue whales probably won’t happen.  Sure, we could plan a trip to Tonga and do that, but the expense of getting there makes it a pretty safe bet that we wouldn’t get there.  Rounding Cape Horn will never happen if we are living in house.  Will it happen if we are in a sailboat? I actually don’t know, but there’s a better chance that it will.  Scenery changing routinely probably isn’t going happen either.  You know what else won’t happen living on a boat?  The comfortable routines of going to work, coming home and watching the evening news, then reading a book or playing a game on my phone.  Those kinds of things are comfortable, there is comfort in the routines of our day to day lives.  I think a lot of making this change to is about facing the fear of doing something that isn’t typical, that doesn’t contain the every day routines. 

Fear can be good.  It can keep us safe. But it can also be limiting.  Fear can keep us from having experiences that broaden our horizons and perspectives.  I want to see new things and I want my kids to have some different perspectives on the world.  Facing fear is the only way to make that happen.

It’s all about perspective…

Sailing season in Colorado is over.  The weather has been beautiful, but boats need repair and you just never know when snow is going to fly, so November is the end of sailing. We have one lesson left in the 101/103 series, but we’ll get to finish up in the spring.  In the meantime, we will review for the written tests that we will be able to take in March.

Last week, we headed out to a local state park to walk around and take some pictures.  While we were there, I took a picture of the reservoir, which had a fair amount of small waves being whipped up by the wind.  In Wyoming wind is almost a constant, okay, not really, but the wind does blow a lot here.  As we were walking around the wind had a bit of a chill in it.  After a little bit, we decided we wanted to get out of the wind and headed out of the park. 

Is it the ocean, a reservoir, a pond? It all depends on your perspective I guess!

The experience got me to thinking a bit about perspective.  On a Friday afternoon, we wanted out of the wind.  It was getting unpleasant, not terrible but unpleasant.  Then I thought about the days that we went sailing and the topic of discussion was invariably how much wind would there be.  Are we looking at 5 knots, 10 knots, 15?  How much is there going to be, and I hope we get some good wind. 

Now you know from my previous posts that many of those days we learned a lot, even if there was minimal wind.  We did have some good wind a couple of times, but more would’ve been nice.  Our perspective on those days was that wind was good, because of our activity.  Friday night, wind wasn’t so great walking by the water.  We would’ve liked a little less.

Your perspective can be driven by your circumstances.  You can look at things one way because of your circumstances, it’s pretty easy to do.  But you can also make choices about perspectives, of course there are some limitations there, but in reality, if you want to put a positive spin on something, there’s a way to find it.  You can have a positive outlook on less than desirable circumstances and still try to make changes.  You can be in the middle of squall in the ocean, work to get out of the squall, and still appreciate that you are on the ocean.  You can have a rough time at work, look for a new job, and still appreciate that you are employed.  Remaining positive about current circumstances is not mutually exclusive from changing those circumstances.

We appreciated wind when we were sailing…we also appreciated the learning when we didn’t have wind and still hoped for a change in the wind.  Just like Friday night, we appreciated being in each other’s company and still wanted to get out of the wind.  It is funny though, in the not-too-distant future, we’ll be wishing for wind…just not too much!

Remington, Part II

Losing a family member is never easy.  I really couldn’t bring myself to write about Remington which is why I shared some of my favorite pictures.  This week, I thought I’d share some of my favorite memories.  Remington was 12.  He had a good run.  All week, I’ve been hearing other dogs in the neighborhood barking and I think its him.  I was coming home from work and I’ll have to remind myself that he’s not going to greet me at the door, though as of late, he was greeting me less and less.  I walk in and he would lift his head.   Mostly because I think that will help me some. 

Remington was always a smart dog…he was also incredibly agile.  Thankfully, he never wanted to jump our fence, but he could’ve if he did.  That’s relevant right now, because one day we had gone grocery shopping.  When we got come, as we are rounding the corner of the landing on the stairs, carrying sacks of groceries, we see Remington, his front paws on top of the fridge, back paws on the counter, and he’s nosing around for the dog treats that we kept up there.  I of course, tersely said, “Remington…what are you doing?”.  He looked at me with those big brown eyes as if to say, “Hey, great, you’re home, would you give me a hand with these.”  Of course, he then calmly jumped off the counter and wandered over to us to see if we had brought him anything.

It was also kind of neat in the summer or fall when we’d get home from work or errands, because he would have nestled into a chair and was watching the driveway for our return. 

He also loved to run, which was hard, because when he would start to run, he wouldn’t stop.  So, until he was about 7, we’d go for 4 or 5 mile runs and he loved it.  But, when we went camping, it was problematic, because you didn’t know what he would get into!  The first time we took him camping, he jumped out of the car, and took off.  Three hours later, he came back to camp (after we spent two hours hiking up and down the mountain looking for him) his tail was wagging 90 miles an hour and three porcupine quills sticking out of his nose.  Fortunately, he stood there while we figured out how to get the quills out.  

We also tried to teach him to swim while camping. I took him out into a shallow inlet on a lake, to get him used to swimming.  He hated it. He didn’t want to be in the water. But he paddled around a bit and after a few minutes I took him toward shore, and he bolted before we could a leash on his harness.  Sandy took off after him, and stopped at another campsite to inquire if anyone had seen him.  The other camper looked at her and said, “well, I don’t know what kind of dog it was because it was going so quick, but it was black and tan and headed that way!” I don’t remember if we caught up to him or he came back…but boy was he happy!

As he aged, he did get to go off leash a bit more.  He would stick closer to us…but he would catch a scent and wander off.  We were camping close to home, and he was running backing and forth to us and out a ways.  Pretty soon, we looked at each other…” where’s Remington?”.  We weren’t too sure, so we stopped, and listened.  We thought we heard something, but we weren’t sure.   So, we kept walking and then Sage (our Golden Retriever) quit walking and stood there looking at us, like “Hey, Remington isn’t here.  Listen.”  She was a good girl and led us right back to him.  He had gone exploring along a creek and couldn’t get back up to the shore.  The water was shallow, so no danger of drowning, but Sandy jumped down to him, and lifted him, while I grabbed his harness to pull him out.  That dog…he kept us on our toes.

At home, he loved to sit in chairs.  I’m sure he thought he was a person. He would frequently climb up in a chair at the dinner table and sit there wait patiently for someone to give him a little bite of dinner.  If he couldn’t get into a chair, his head was right in your lap waiting for his piece of dinner too.  After a day work, I’d sit on the couch and he would jump up next to me and rest his head on my lap.  If that spot wasn’t open, he’d wait for me to put out the recliner for my legs, and he’d climb up on the leg rest and nestle himself right in between my legs and just relax.

Dogs are great companions.  We loved having him in the family.  He’s missed.  I had to cancel his grooming appointment and I couldn’t bring myself to say that he had passed.  I just said, “He’s no longer with us.”  Which I guess could be interpreted in any number of ways, but I got choked up when I tried to say something else.  I know that the hole in my heart will never be filled, but I will quit expecting him at the door when I get home.  I will always miss him…I will always have good memories of him.  Even if we get another dog one day…it won’t replace him, but it will bring me some different joy.

Remington

Remington was 12 when he crossed the Rainbow Bridge. I’m hopeful that he is now romping in fields that stretch for miles while he chases squirrels and eats lots of dog treats. He was one of the most unique dogs that I have had in my life. While he’ll never know the life of sailing, he loved the mountains, running in fields finding porcupines, and snuggling up by the fire in the winter. There’s a lot of great stories that I will likely write about in the coming months…but for today, I’m going to share some of my favorite pictures of him.

As a puppy
Puzzling over what we are doing…
Just cleaning the grill for you!
Waiting for scraps to drop!
I really could use some of that steak!
Just chillin…bring me bone when you get a chance.
Keeping warm on a chilly morning!
Window please…

Decisions…

Thinking about selling everything and moving to the cruising life is a big step towards not playing things safe.  There’s a lot of things that aren’t playing it safe in that lifestyle and that’s part of the draw for us.  But having said that, there’s still some things that we need to feel a little comfortable in the lifestyle.  The biggest thing to consider is money.

We will have a regular monthly income that in theory should exceed the average costs of living on a boat.  But we want to have a certain amount in savings.  We set a goal earlier this year and I thought we’d be close to that, but life being life has meant that we are going to be further from that goal than we thought we would.  So, we won’t have as much in savings as we’d like and that means that we need to make a few decisions.

Living on a boat, depending on your lifestyle, can cost between $1800 and $3000. This is less than what we think our income will be, so in general each month we ought to be operating in the black.  But boats though can be expensive to repair at times, so having some savings is important so that we can draw on the savings to buy a new sail if need be or replace the standing rigging. 

So, here’s some questions for us to consider…Do we postpone our departure by a year and continue on the current path (with some minor changes) and continue to save?  Do we change what we were thinking of for a boat, spend less on a boat, and use the difference to build our savings for boat repairs?  Should we move forward and one of us try to get a remote job, since we plan on staying close to the coast for a year or so anyway, which might actually let us build up more savings faster?  Do we buy a truck and trailer, get a remote job for year, and drive around North America for a year and invest the remainder for the year and hopefully be in a better spot to by a boat?

Every decision has pros and cons.  Waiting for an extra year, maybe the housing market tanks and we can’t get as much boat as we want anyway, but at the same time, we have more in savings.  If we buy a little less boat, maybe we don’t have the creature comforts we’d hoped for, but then we’re on the water and living differently…seeing the stars in ways that we have never experienced before.  Get a remote job (which is harder than it sounds) you don’t have as much time to devote to learning sailing, but you are building more savings.

There’s a lot of decisions to be made and all three of us have to be comfortable with where we are on those decisions.  Generally, in relationships, you look for compromise, but many of these decisions really are zero sum decisions.  We either sell the house next spring or we don’t.  We either buy a boat next spring or we don’t.  There might be some middle ground on what kind of boat…but really these are decisions that we all have to be able to live with.  At the same time, it’s only October.  A lot can happen in the next 30 weeks.

Spartan Trifecta

I know I have written about the challenges of Spartan Races before, but this weekend was a bit more special.  A Spartan Trifecta is running completing a Spartan Sprint, Super, and Beast in one race season.  Once you complete the three races and you are a member of the Trifecta Tribe.  Nice little marketing bit on the part of Spartan.  Makes you stand out a bit in the community, and sometimes at race venues, there are some perks to being a member of the Tribe.  Usually, it’s a tent with seating designated for tribe members, or something like that.  It is still an accomplishment to be a member of the Tribe.  It’s a lot of work.

My first two Spartan Races were the Sprint level, a roughly 5k obstacle course.  I didn’t know if I had it in me to complete the Super, let alone a Beast.  I was a bit in awe of folks I saw walking around with the green Spartan logo T Shirt that said, “Finisher”. I kind of dreamed of doing it, but questioned if I could finish it.  Until one day my wife said, “Either do it, or quit talking about it.”  I guess I’d carried on about it too long!  With a friend, we completed our first Super and Sprint in one weekend.  A couple of weeks later, it was on to the Beast.  I did it.  I was pretty stoked and excited.  I could do it.  It really gave me a bit more confidence than I had before as a person.

The Beast itself is challenging.  There are 30+ obstacles over a half marathon or longer. But then you add terrain as an ever present constant obstacle. Every one I have done has also been on ski slopes.  Some worse than others, but still, ski slopes.  It reduces the running for me, it makes obstacles more challenging and completing it is not just a physical challenge, but also a mental challenge too.  There are times when you are slogging up the side of a mountain (perhaps over 11,000 feet, like this weekend) where you question if you do have it in you to finish the course.  You’ve got to dig deep to find the stamina to finish the course. That’s especially true when you’ve gone up and up and up, then you get to the sandbag carry, where you have to carry the sandbag downhill, then turn around and go right back up.  It’s taxing…mentally and physically.

I said this weekend was a special weekend.  It was another Spartan Beast, in Telluride Colorado.  The start line was at about 9800 feet above sea level.  It went to about 11,200 feet and then finished at 9500 feet.  Over the course of 14.5 miles.  So, most of it was above 10,000 feet.  That’s rough.  Really rough.  This weekend my youngest finished his first Trifecta.  His first Beast was largely over 10,000’ feet in elevation.  There were times when I questioned if I could complete and obstacle and then I’d watch him just knock it out of the park. He demonstrated a level of grit and perseverance that was impressive.  It was a rough course and I watched him cruise on through it.  He probably could’ve knocked an hour off his time if he didn’t stick with me, but he stuck with me and finished.

He was pretty nervous on the way down and up to the start of the race. There was excitement, but nervousness too.  He didn’t know what to expect other than a long, long day.  It was a long day.  It pushed us to our limits and even beyond those limits. 

It’s pretty amazing to see your kids do things that you know are challenging.  He rose to the occasion, both figuratively, and in the case of the rope climb, literally.  I guess calling him a kid is a bit of misnomer know, he’s more of young man and he really showed me that all of us are capable of doing more than we think we can.

Moving On!

We have finished our practical lessons on the J/22.  Our last lesson in the basic keelboat and coastal cruising line will be on a J/30.  It’s made by the same company, but is about 8’ longer.  There are also some other differences, including the sail set up as well as steering and anchoring.  I’m looking forward to being on a bigger boat, just to see what the difference is between a 22’ and 30’ boat is in terms of handling and sailing.

With a J/22, when you step on the boat, the boat tips a bit.  Ok, when I step on, it tips a lot.  I’m a big guy and when I set foot on the boat, you know it!  When we first starting lessons, one of our instructors said, “Give a warning when you are stepping on or off the boat.”  So, it became habit, especially for Matthew to say, “Coming Aboard!” when he stepped on the boat. And “Stepping Off!” when we arrived at the dock.  I sometimes forgot to say anything when I was stepping on and Matthew would, in his own kind way, remind me to give warning.

Usually it was a teenager tone….”Coming aboard dad?”

“Yeah, sorry I forgot to say something, I thought you’d notice”

“Thanks dad, just give us the warning before you tip the boat.” There was an element of truth to that, especially if he was on the same side of the boat I was when I stepping on!  I’m pretty sure we are going to design a shirt that has a sailboat and on the front it will say “Coming Aboard” on the back it will say, “Stepping Off”.  I’ll post a picture once we have the design made.

It actually got to be such a habit for Matthew, that even when he was the last person getting off the boat, he’d announce “Stepping Off!” We’ve given him a fair amount of grief for that!

So in our last lesson, we had an hour or so of good wind and were able to practice a man overboard drill at sail instead of at the motor.  It was nice because you could tell when you were at a beam reach!  There was a fair amount of practice of tacking and gybing.  We even put two reefs in the mainsail while in motion, which is important to be able to do, because you put reefs in the mainsail when things are getting rough, so if you’ve never done it…well, you could be in for a difficult time.

Then the wind died.  So, well, let’s practice anchoring, tying knots, and discussing the pros and cons of different boat types.  Generally, talk about what kind of boating we want to do in the future. 

Then our instructor drops a little bit of a bombshell.  “Your next lesson will be on the J/30.  It’s a really different boat than the J/22.  If your instructor on that boat is doing his or her job, they’ll just say here’s the boat, figure it out!”  Wait…what?  I don’t know how a furler works, is there a windlass on the anchor, it’s a steering wheel, not a tiller.  I had a whole host of panic thoughts go through my head.  Then I took moment to breath.  It’ll be ok.  We can figure these things out, and if we’re about to break something, the instructor will step in and stop us.  Not that that’s going to happen, but that’s what they are there for.

Once we finish the practical lessons, it’ll be time to take the ASA 101 and 103 written exams.  Several yacht brokers that have YouTube channels have said insurance will be easier if you even go to 104 (Bareboat Chartering) as well.  So, we will have some decisions to make. Do we go ahead and do 104, do we hire a coach to sail with us on our boat and use that to our advantage with insurance?

For now, the process of learning to sail a smaller boat and the mechanics of sailing has been enjoyable.  We’ve got a better handle on what to expect and how to do things.  Obviously, we aren’t quite ready to jump aboard and cross the Pacific, but at least now we know what a reef is and the difference between the tack on a sail, tacking, and which tack the boat is on.  And, yeah, I feel pretty confident that we can get a boat sailing and while it might heel more than we want for a few minutes, we can get it righted pretty quickly!