Sunday, December 29, 2013

Far from the ocean

Happy Holidays!

This photo was taken from Loveland Pass on a sunny day with my husband (sitting on fence) and a good friend. This image is far from the ocean, but just as beautiful (thanks, Google, for the fake snow). As of late, I'm still being challenged with the unknown future that sailing holds for me. As I look around at other sailing blogs, I always get inspired to just let go of fear, take the LOF and just GO! What makes this decision so hard to make when the images of beaches, meeting new people, learning new things, and going places seems magical and a "one-in-a-lifetime" opportunity? After a conversation related to the Shawshank Redemption it's been metaphorically determined I've been institutionalized for the last 33 years and leaving my safe walls, my family, is the scariest part of my parole. The reason I have a very close relationship with my family makes this chapter of my life hard - birthday parties, holidays, the last minute bbqs - that is what I'll miss. I know travel is easier than ever, people will visit, we'll visit our homes, but I've never been away from my family for extended periods of time. This is my struggle. My husband is trying to make this right for us both, to gain so much worldly experiences. Do woman have a harder time detaching themselves then men? I do know that I am scared, but I also know I cannot go through life being afraid of taking risks, and that it's the challenges that allow us to grow and celebrate. As this point, we're discussing the move down to Florida in summertime to live temporarily and shop for a sailboat.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Fearing the Unknown

As I sit here writing from my safe, cozy home while the outdoor thermometer reads 7 degrees (F) some days I feel being a woman can be a deterrent from trying something new, unusual, unsafe, and unknown to me. I typically jump to the conclusion that I'll be uncomfortable and feeling unaware of the consequences, it's "not for me". I quickly say "No", run into the arms of something safe and try to live the life I've known for 32 (soon to be 33) years. We've done this before, living on a sailboat, and the experience was priceless. But this time, we'd be responsible for everything boat-related: routes, anchoring, maintenance, and the feelings overwhelm my senses. 

My husband on the other hand has always had the courage and desire to throw off the bowlines and sail away from the safe harbor. I'm pretty sure that's why I fell in love with him. As a planner and part-time coward, I am envious of his tenacity and love for this vast world. I've also learned lately that my husband comes from a lineage of sailors. Now I know where his passions lay.

It's funny how the world works. We like to call it the "Ski Boot Theory" The premise is to tell a friend you're in the market for a new pair of ski boots (or bike or heck, even a sailboat!), provide your boot size and preferences and it turns out - people will actually look for you and find you a shiny, new pair of Apple red boots for $32.00! We've recently had this experience with sailboats.

Lately, I've given myself permission to be scared and vulnerable about trying something new and unsafe, like living on a sailboat. I've also expressed the Ski Boot Theory to friends and family which has given me more courage to speak up about my fear of the unknown; of deep, stormy waters, my inexperience of navigation skills, and living on a 200 sq. ft floating home. The simplicity and visions of beauty are desirable, but the unknown consequences keeps me up at night.  But Mark Twain said it best (even if he didn't ;): Twenty years from now you'll be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Good for you

Go to the seaside, catch some bracing air for your health.

See, someone agrees with me.

Take Courage

Let's do this.

As Windtraveler quotes on their front page, The world needs dreamers, and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.

It seems that in the past 10-20 years with the explosion of the internet, the dreamers who do are Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Steve Jobs, Reid Hoffman, those type of people. You can dream something up, do it, and come out a billionaire, as pretty much all of them have proven.

We need to get back to that. We need more of that attitude. We need less insurance, more failure. We need to try something new, just because we haven't done it. Not avoid it because we haven't done it. America used to be where you wanted to be to make a change. America used to be for risk-takers, now it seems to be for fat-cats. American businesses are unbelievably wealthy, but they're scared. Businesses should take some of their record cash stacks and try something new. Hire some folks, maybe some kids fresh out of college, and see what happens. Take a risk.

Humans are still quite primitive, in our decision-making, in general. Our thought processes change at an evolutionary rate, but our capabilities change at an exponential rate. So we are scared of sharks and spiders and big people, and not scared of driving cars, obesity, or running out of fish to eat. It seems to me that there is some correlation between our (collective) terrible risk-assessment, and our terrible ability to comprehend big or small numbers.

So I say let's do it. Try to make something better, just because everybody says it can't be done. The worst that could happen is you go back to life as it was.

I propose putting people like Moxie in the same category as the internet billionaires above. Cause why not? Those kids spent more time on the beach in the Bahamas than any of those CEOs.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

We actually saw water! Salty water!

We took a trip to Washington DC to visit my grandparents. It was great to spend some time with them. While there we took a day to look at boats in Annapolis. We scheduled to see 5, and ended up on board 8. The one I was most excited about before the trip ended up being only in the middle of the pack of favorites by the end of the day. Of that trip, a Cal 35 was our favorite.

We also got to talk with my mom's cousin, who has been sailing for many decades. He approved of the Cal as a tolerable boat. He also suggested that several of the boats we looked at would not be good, safe, sturdy boats capable of withstanding some nasty weather. He didn't know much about the Allmand, therefore didn't have an opinion. That particular boat didn't inspire me, so it is probably out of the running.

I still want to sail away for $1,000/LOD. I think that is easily achievable in a sturdy boat roughly 35 feet long, without too many luxuries. We shall see what more internet research turns up.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

An Affair with the Sea

An Affair with the Sea
written March 2007

Animated, open, blue, inviting,
champagne bubbles floating gracefully,
without effort, she glides seductively
teasing the waves with her curves.

Mesmerized by her shape and beauty,
the sea opens up to embrace her.
in unison, like a familiar touch,
embodied by pleasure.

The sea swells, surrounding her.
Taking hold, pressing into the sea.
The sea shivers, she comes undone
As nature intended, unconditional love.

At each peak, she enjoys the movement
over and again, the sea knows her pleasure.
together, there is excitement within,
each knowing how the other moves.

As the sea calms, her body breathes,
slowly resting, but never stopping.
The spirit in the breeze, the motion of the sea
united with great energy and passion for one another.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Steps have been taken!

We sold our house! Now we’re moving in with my mother-in-law for an undetermined length of time. She’s wonderful, unlike the stereotypical mother in law. Jenn will have a harder time of it than I, but it won’t be hard for either of us. We lived with her before, actually right after we finished our last sailing trip. It was great.

I’m expecting this stay with Sheree to be for the winter. Perhaps, if I’m really lucky, I’ll get a sailboat for my birthday…

Now that the house is sold I will take a week or three to calm down a little, and really start thinking about the future. Planning, even!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Boredom and Excitement

I found a neat boat! Since I live in Denver right now, looking at a boat requires a flight, which adds an epic amount of pain-in-the-ass to the process. Obviously I’d like to think this is the one, but I’m not quite that na├»ve (probably pretty close though!). If I’m going to fly somewhere to look at boats, I’ll set up several boats to investigate. I need all the help and experience I can get. Hopefully I always say that.

Oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy!

During the weekdays, I sit in a cubicle. I am a sustainability manager for buildings, which is awesome and I love the skills and the effects, but my new job doesn’t involve much of that work. I feel a little bit deceived, and I’m not very dedicated to the job at the moment. I also think I didn’t set my salary high enough when starting the job, which is completely my fault. I’m just not sure how to fix it after the fact. Also, the guy who hired me quit 3 weeks after I started. Really. He put in his 2 week notice 5 days after my start date. So I’ve floundered for a bit. Especially so because I’m not using any of my skills. I think I could have done this job right out of high school.

So I have a job I’m not well suited for, that I feel underpaid for, and just found a boat in my price range that, while not everything I want, is pretty close. I’m having a hard time concentrating on my job, you might imagine.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


I have a problem. Ok, only one I’m going to get into right now.

I want (Need? Want? Need.) to buy a cruising sailboat to live on with my wife. I’ve been thinking this for a while. Years, even. Not quite since we got back from our earlier 8 months in the Caribbean in 2007, but close. I’ve been on a few boats with a purchasing eye. In San Francisco we even sailed on a boat that could be a good candidate, an S2 11A. I’ve recently fell in love with an Allmand 35. From some interneting, I’m getting the impression that they are somewhat like a sturdier Catalina, which sounds perfect to me.

I think 35’ is my optimal length boat. I’d like a boat with a wide stern, at least some part open, so water can drain out of the cockpit in a hurry. I’d like a pretty big fin keel, with a skeg for the rudder. Some sort of V in the hull to make waves a little gentler on the boat. I’d like some kind of aft cabin, for myself and the missus. Sleeping in the V berth sucks any time the water isn’t flat. Maybe we (I) would get used to it? A wide quarter-berth would probably suffice. On my first Caribbean trip we squeezed 2 of us in a normal quarter-berth, for a few days. I like the interior design of a Sabre 386. A center cockpit could be a way to get these things, I’m not sure. It’s kinda hard to fit a center cockpit on a boat under 40 feet, I think. Some boats have done it (S2 11C, Irwin, and others). I’d like a sealed anchor locker. I’d like a cockpit just long enough for a 6-foot guy to sleep in. I’d like a cutter rig. I’d like a tiller, for simplicity, but I could be persuaded by the right boat to overlook that.

I’d like new electronics, because the pace of change is so rapid. Actually, I’d probably like to run my own electronics. Fish finder (for depth), chartplotter, knot-meter, wind-speed. Screens 5 years old would probably irritate me for being outdated. The computer game generation and all. Of course a decent galley, nice gimbaled stove, counter space. I’m not sure about the fridge. If it’s there already, obviously I’ll take it. If there is just an icebox, perhaps I’d just add some more insulation and keep it as an icebox. Perhaps get an Engel freezer for meat and ice. I plan to eat like the locals. I’d like a composting toilet, not a marine head. I’d like no water heater, no pressure water. A foot pump for fresh and salt water at each sink. Definitely no AC. Definitely no generator. I’d like a big battery bank, charged by PV, wind turbine, engine, and shore power. Honestly, I’d be ok with a 20-30 horse outboard and eliminate the inboard engine. I could use the storage space. I don’t know how I’d make the outboard system work, but I could probably figure something out. Maybe I could ask Volkscruiser, Atom Voyages, or any of a ton of other knowledgeable folks. All LED lighting.

Most existing boats have more things and systems than I want (microwave, water maker, water heater, water pressure, AC, holding tank, macerator, the list goes on). I don’t want to pay for crap I’m not going to use. This leads me towards looking at boats that are in pretty rough shape.

I like Volkscruiser’s theory that a boat should be ready to go to sea (albeit without many modern conveniences (crutches?)) for roughly $1,000/foot LOA. Of course I’d like to find a boat that is already fitted out just the way I want, with good quality workmanship, for the price I want to pay. But, since I’d rather have stout rigging, stiff hull, and dependable components than designer cushions and space in my cockpit for a party or a race crew, I haven’t been able to find a boat like that yet. I think an Allmand 35 comes pretty close, if it’s well taken care of. Any boat, if it’s well taken care of, is probably better than any boat that’s been neglected.

Monday, October 21, 2013


I grew up in a small town in New England, not near the coast. My parents owned 100 acres of woods (still do) and still are the smallest landowner on every boundary. We were “off the grid,” no connection to a power line. The only indoor plumbing was a hand pump for water, and drains from the bathtub and kitchen sink. Obviously no TV. After my parents divorced and my mom replaced the gasoline generator with solar panels (1990), that was our only source of power. Sometimes during the winter when it was cloudy for a week straight I did my homework by candlelight.

I always had a vague sense that modern American life didn’t suit me.

I read a lot of books as a kid, and played in the woods instead of watching tv. I remember my babysitter having to teach me how to use a toilet, because I’d never used an in-house bathroom before. Putting on pants and jacket to go to the outhouse in January isn’t any fun, so I learned to go to the bathroom before bed, and after I woke up. No hardship.

I went to a high school of 1,200 students that was bigger than the town I lived in. I moved to Colorado for college, where Boulder, at roughly 100,000 people, was a big city. I’d never spent more than a few days in a place over 15,000 people.

I took a year off between high school and college, to move to California and snowboard for a season. I had already been accepted to college, and deferred for a year, no fear of me not going. My plan fell through, and the world was big and I had just turned 18, and I got scared and didn’t go. I lived with my parents for a year, worked a little, saved a little bit of money, and then went to college. I really regret not going. I REALLY regret it. But perhaps it was a good thing, because now I know that not taking a plunge into the unknown doesn’t work for me. I’ve even gone so far as to say: “I don’t regret anything I’ve done, but I regret all the things I haven’t done. Many (most?) things haven’t gone as I’d planned, but I don’t regret them.” Bold words for a guy 33.3 years old at this writing. I still have plenty of time to make an irreparable mistake.

I took a semester of in the middle of college, moved to Breckenridge, and snowboarded 70 days that year, while working a full-time job at a ski shop. Best 6 months of my life. Lots of obstacles to make it happen. I had to tell school was wasn’t going to spring semester while I still didn’t have a job or a place to live in Breck. That was scary. My father, in a move I look back on as remarkably loving and fair, said he would pay for housing and college while I was a full-time student, but not otherwise. I had to man up and take responsibility for myself, at the red and mewling age of 21. Sissy. It never occurred to me not to take that leap, because the pain of not doing it a couple years earlier was so powerful. “I don’t regret the things I’ve done, just the ones I haven’t.”

I went back to school with renewed vigor, after experiencing what life was like just barely above minimum wage. After college I had a couple of dead-end jobs, intentionally. I had a degree, but still wasn’t ready to commit to it yet. My cousin bought a sailboat in Maine (where he grew up), and planned to sail it around the world. Of course I quit my job to help him work on the boat for 3 months, and take off with 2 others. (My cousin later married one of them (female, smartypants), the other was a groomsman at my wedding, and I at his.) My mom said my cousin and I had talked about sailing around the world when we were under 10 years old. 15-20 years later, we acted on it.

A reality tv show of the prep and the sail down the east coast would have been really good tv, at least in comparison to reality tv. Hard work, setbacks, adventure, man vs. nature, interpersonal drama. I didn’t get along with her, and I lost the power struggle. In the Bahamas (we left from Maine 10/31/06 – it’s cold then!) I was asked to leave the boat. I’d poured my heart into that floating home, I thought I was the first mate. I was also, at 26, the oldest and least interested in partying. I took my things and asked a guy we’d met a week before if I could cruise with him.

I sailed for another 5 moths, through most of the islands in the eastern Caribbean, having the time of my life. My then girlfriend (now wife) was even persuaded (barely) to quit her job and spend 2 months in paradise with me. Rough life. We came back to Denver, went back to real life.

I had a new appreciation for real life, and my real life wasn’t everyone else’s real life. I remember the taste of tuna and mahi mahi, the excitement of catching it. I remember hanging upside down in the engine compartment for days troubleshooting fuel problems (finally solved by an old guy who’s payment was a bottle of cheap rum). I remember waiting for parts for 3 weeks in the Turks and Caicos, and rebuilding the same starter motor every day for a week before we figured out the problem. I remember hiking and swimming in waterfalls. Bathing in the ocean. Bathing in rainstorms. Dodging coral getting into chicken harbor, and the moron trying to follow us in not following our track. I remember pounding into headwinds and big seas the first day the girls were on the boat south of Puerto Rico. I remember being seasick, and wishing it would just stop for just a minute or two. I remember Montezuma’s Revenge in Luperon. I remember the 5-year-old girl on our boat, who taught me that kids could be cool. I remember Duncan and Elaine, and I still want their beautiful boat. I remember tons of helpful, friendly cruisers, everywhere we went. I didn’t spend enough time with the locals, but perhaps even then, in the dark ages of 2007, us rich white boat-people were a dime a dozen. I didn’t control where we went, or how long we stayed (not my boat, recall). I didn’t control whether we motored or sailed. There are many things I haven’t yet gotten to.

My mother’s father died on Christmas day, playing in the garage with my daughter. She was 4 or 5. They were having fun, not doing anything crazy. Life happens sometimes. My wife’s aunt died a couple years ago. She was in her early 60’s, healthy, happy. She fell down the stairs one day. The doctors put her in a coma to work on a blood clot, or the spinal column, or something like that, and she never woke up. Could have happened to any of us. Still could. I believe the annual fatality rate from car crashes, just in the US, is something like 35,000. Then the injury rate is above and beyond that. The point is, life is dangerous. Even if we don’t fall down the stairs, or have a car crash, what if we stay safe and in our cubicles all our lives? The danger of living a dull life seems more real, more potent, that the dangers of piracy, hitting a container in the night, or the perfect storm.

If we are frugal, and handy, and kind, and resourceful, we can use our savings and our wits to survive indefinitely. I have learned much from those who have gone much farther with much less than I, and done it already. I have much to learn (obviously, we all do). Voyaging on a small income, Cruising on a budget, VolksCruiser, the BlueWater Sailing Collective, there are many inspirations for this lifestyle.

The largest challenge is to convince my wife that the challenges are not that large! So what if the boat is ugly, or the plumbing doesn’t work, or the wiring, or the engine, or the stove, or whatever! The freedom to not live on command is worth so much more than that. Those problems are minor, they can be fixed with money or time. If you put time into it, you could also gain knowledge, and friendships, and confidence, and independence, and perhaps a source of income when someone else wants to pay money instead of time for a similar problem. Now you’re not working because you have to, but because you want to. See Mr. Money Mustache for more on that topic.

More people who live closer to nature, and who understand the systems they live with (natural as well as mechanical), is better. Those people are less likely to be bad people, and more likely to be good people. When you separate yourself, it’s easier to make a conflict into “us vs. them.” Then “they” can be de-humanized, and all sorts of atrocities become justifiable. See slavery, 1984, Animal Farm, etc. I wish to re-unite myself with nature, with people. I’m sick of driving through suburbia, seeing houses packed next to each other, with all the shades drawn and nobody knows how the neighbor is doing, or how they feel about X politician, or what their kid is like in school. I’m sick of emailing my coworker 40 feet down the hall. I’m tired of “grow or die.” We have separated ourselves from what matters, from what’s real. I’m going back to reality.

Hello Blogging World

Hello Blogging World!

This is my first attempt at introducing myself to blogging. I'm not sure when I'll write or what I'll write, but I hope to share thoughts when the mood strikes. If I'm at all articulate, my thoughts may just spill out onto the electronic dairy effortlessly. I'm a fairly speedy typer with about 60wps - is that fast for today's standards? I'm also curious about how "today's standards" are defined. I'm not sure. Any thoughts?
I've begun to have a warped idea of what people perceive as today's standards too since my husband has, with dedicated effort, planted a Sailing into the Sunset Seed into my Old Brain subconscious. Maybe it was my deceased father's seed that has been passed onto my husband, giving him the responsibility to plant into my New Brain. It's slowly growing, generating an unfamiliar species that has yet to be discovered.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


I've got a bit of a challenge on my hands. I want to make the world more better (and less worse), but the state of modern western society is such that I have developed a really urgent need to escape. Since I earlier spent 8 months living on a transient sailboat (and several months before that working full time on maintenance/upgrades for that boat) I have loved the lifestyle, the challenges, and the freedom.

I believe it is possible to live a Mustachian life, while still having a good time. In fact, I know it is, since the internet is lousy with stories of those who have done it already. So none of us get to be first any more, but at least there is plenty of proof that such a life is possible.

I propose to live on a sailboat, work with my hands, and answer only to nature.

Sterling Hayden says it well. Mark Twain said it well too, even if he didn't.

I see leaving 99% of my possessions and everyone I know as an opportunity, not a tribulation.

Leaving the world and sailing anywhere you wanted was at one time an escape from western society, now it seems that many in my generation (with some notable exceptions) don't have the imagination to do so. We've been infected with a worship of bling, and how the iPhone 5S is VASTLY superior to the iPhone 4S, and how can you NOT have cable tv?

I believe in the ability of money to make life better. Money (and, obviously, the things it buys) are not the point! Re-read Mustache.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

An introduction

How does one convince an unwilling partner to leave a comfortable life for one that is different? One that has a new set of opportunities and a new set of challenges.

What if this person is important to you.

What if this person has already had a taste of this new life.

What if the comfortable life became intolerable for you.