Dreaming of Cruising
Back in 2002 while living on the south shore of Long Island, I read something somewhere that got me hooked on the idea of retiring and living aboard a boat. What it was, I can longer recall, but I soon had books such as "Voyaging Under Power" and "The Troller Yacht Book", and was consumed by the idea of living and cruising on a power vessel when I retired. I did not consider sailing at that time as it seemed too difficult for a single person and I felt that my retirement budget would allow me to absorb the costs of fuel. I went out that summer and bought my first boat. Man, I loved that boat. It did not love me back. It could NOT have been a worse boat for a newbie. A 1976 Silverton 26' Flybridge Cruiser. It was a single inboard with a minuscule rudder. I could not get it on or off the dock without assistance, and after one or two memorable attempts, I stopped trying. It became a dockside condo for me. Not that there is anything wrong with that, I got a lot of enjoyment out of sitting in my cockpit feeding the swans and ducks with a glass of wine in my hand, a steak on the grill and enjoying the sunset. But I bought the boat to learn TO boat, and it was not the right boat for that.
Then in 2003 I got a little sidetracked, as the whole
boating thing was not going as planned. I decided to work on a retirement
"Plan B". I started researching oceanfront property. It took
about 15 seconds or so to discern that I couldn't afford any in the US so
I started looking at other countries such as Mexico (not comfortable with
those laws), Bay Islands of Honduras (difficult to get to), Costa Rica (too
expensive), and the Bahamas. I went to Long Island Bahamas in July
2003 and looked at some properties, and finally settled on a small unimproved
lot on the western shore. I started the purchase process, little did
I know it would take almost a year to complete.
In the fall of 2003 I was thinking maybe I should buy
a power catamaran, as I loved the Bahamas and the draft of most trawlers
was going to present a problem. I was searching on Ebay for catamarans
when I stumbled across an auction for a crewed charter in the Bahamas on
a 42' Fountaine Pajot sailing cat. I bid and won, for a ridiculous
price. So in Feb. 2004, a friend of mine and I set out on a first for
both of us. We had a blast. It was wonderful. I was hooked.
As a side benefit, we sailed to Long Island and I got to visit my lot
from the water, which was awesome. I had just gotten word that the
sale, which had been stalled for a long time, was moving again and they were
in the final stages. I was definitely hooked on catamarans and thinking
maybe I should learn to sail as well.
I also went to Barbados in 2004, I ended up taking a side trip to the Grenadines and enjoying a wonderful sail in Barbados as well.
West Indies 2004
When I got back I signed up for a women-only intro to
sailing class up in Oyster Bay. It was fun, but it was very basic
and pretty short. I wanted to take a real class but I could never get
the time off that summer. In the fall of 2004 I found out that I would
be transferring to the Washington DC area the following spring. The
next two years saw my dream put on hold, as 2005 was taken up by moving,
training, then moving again, and 2006 kinda slipped by in a blur as I realized
I wasn't where I wanted to be in life. I know I made the right choice
in leaving New York, but coming to Dulles was a mistake. (I'm currently
in the process of tranferring from Dulles to Leesburg, I hope the change
in jobs does me good!)
In late 2006 I joined the Carefree Boat Club in DC right before they closed for the season. It seemed like a perfect opportunity. Lots of boats for use, no maintenance hassles, and reciprocal clubs all over the country. The only problem is, I still lack confidence and am afraid/unwilling to go out alone. I did a few times in 2007, but not as often as I wanted to. The club did have some really enjoyable social events at events such as the 4th of July fireworks in DC and Aquapalooza at Fairview Beach. My friend Kristi and I spent the night on a SeaRay 215 Weekender at the marina on the 4th and had a blast. The club also sent a few boats to Aquapalooza. That was a fantastic day. The only downside to the club is you cannot anchor out overnight. This really limits you and is disappointing as that is one of my favorite things to do. Anyway, this year I want to try to get out more and not let my lack of confidence get in my way. I've seen some of these folks docking, and if they aren't embarrassed I don't know why I am. Of course I already chickened out on my first attempt of the year so not off to a good start.
Anyway....to start off 2008 I decided that I am going to try to get serious. I've had this dream for a while now and am going nowhere fast. So I looked at the schedule and got a week of leave in April. I booked a class through Fair Wind Sailing School on a 45' Leopard catamaran in the Virgin Islands. What a great trip. I learned a lot, and got hooked on sailing. I came back with ASA 101, 103, 104 and 114 certifications, but still lack confidence and experience. I came back very determined not to forget what I learned. I put an ad on craigslist and got a few offers to go sailing. My first trip was with an FDA doctor and some of his friends and that was a great trip. We rafted up and anchored out which is something I can't do on my club boats but thoroughly enjoyed. I also fell in love with the Chesapeake Bay. I just wish it wasn't such a long haul out there. Soooo....being the idiot that I am, I decided that I should.......buy another boat! :-) I figured I could keep a boat out there and either find people to sail with me, or sail with other folks and have somewhere to sleep and make a weekend of it. Plus it would be fun to be able to go out to the bars and restaurants after a day on the water and not have to worry about driving.
So now I'm boat shopping.
Virgin Islands Sailing Class
First Sail on the Chesapeake
I headed out to the Annapolis Spring Sails Event on May 3rd to go boat shopping. The first boat I looked at was 27 years old, tiny, and cheap. And it looked like it would be fun. If the guy ever gets the engine running I'll probably make an offer on it. Then I headed off to the boat show proper to check out the "big iron". The first boat I went on was a Catalina 309. I was quite impressed. The rest of the boats there were too large for me. I was not impressed with how difficult it is sometimes as a female boat shopper to get people to pay attention to you. A few of the dealers just acted like I was invisible. I have encountered that numerous times over the years, even in places like West Marine! It gets aggravating sometimes, other times I'm just as happy to not be harassed when I'm shopping. :-) I wandered around for a while then headed across Spa Creek to the Eastport dealers, where the cats were supposed to be. Priority one was to look at Siyaya, an Island Spirit 401 from Bay Yacht Agency. I had heard good things about these boats but had never seen one. I wasn't to see one this time either. I found Siyaya in the water, but couldn't find anyone to show her to me. Oh well. It worked out for the best.
I wandered around the dock back towards the Lagoon I had seen earlier...I wanted to get a few shots for Rudy. I've never been that drawn to the Lagoons as their looks didn't appeal to me and they were a little too pricey. Well, I am now a believer! Sign me up for the Lagoon fan club. I walked up and took a photo or two, and the folks on board invited to climb aboard and look around. The boat was brand new and beautiful, and for sale by the Annapolis Catamaran Center. All I could say was "Wow." Untill I asked, "How much?" Then I really said "Wow!" To his credit, he still invited me along for a demo sail. What an awesome ride. I got a good demonstration of the maneuverability of the boat, along with it's ability to be single-handed, and its nice handling under sail. I had the helm when the winds approached 25 kts with full main and jib, and the boat felt rock steady. Very, very nice. I plan to try to go look at a 380 as that may be the ideal retirement boat for me. I can't thank Tommy Smith from the Annapolis Catamaran Center enough for inviting me along that day. Everyone else on the boat felt the same way. He did a great job of demonstrating the maneuverability of the boat.
Boat Shopping and Lagoon Demo Sail, 5/3/08
So now I feel like I am getting on track towards achieving my goal of retiring and setting off on June 1st. 2014. It's a good feeling.
Stay tuned for more................