New Year’s resolution #3: start blogging. Mission accomplished?

I don’t know if opening a Word document and typing this sentence qualifies as starting a blog, but I guess it’s better than opening a Word document and typing “the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” (does that rhyme? no? ok, sorry for the interruption…keep reading.)  So why did I want to start a blog?  Is it because I think my life is so entertaining you would be over the moon with my amazing stories?  Is it because I convey those stories in such a way that my witty style puts you in a reverent state of joy that lasts for hours and keeps you coming back for more?  The answer to both those questions is unequivocally “no.”  I wanted to start a blog because…I know I had a reason around here somewhere…maybe it’s fallen down between the couch cushions with all my pocket lint and microwave popcorn crumbs.  I mean, does the reason really matter?  Why does anyone start a blog?  It’s because they think they’re better than everyone else and they want to show off their own witty writing style, right?  Well, I said to myself, “me too, me too!”  So jumped I did with both feet onto the proverbial bandwagon, and here I am with blog post #1.

So what’s so interesting about my life that warrants it’s very own blog, you ask?  Umm, well, hehe…the beautiful thing about a blog is that I don’t have to answer you if I don’t feel like it – insert picture of me sticking out my tongue (note to self:  learn to insert pictures).  Of course if I want you to keep reading I should convey how important you are, dear reader, by promising to read and answer all your super-duper comments and questions (I learned that when I Googled “How to start a blog”).  Because everyone knows, if a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one around to hear it, it doesn’t make a sound…right?  Maybe that’s not right.  I don’t know, I’m a geologist, not a physicist or a…faith healer.  Anyway, if you know me, which you probably do because if you’re reading this that means I begged you to check out my blog and to tell all your interweb friends to check it out as well, then you know how bad I am at keeping in touch.  Hey!  I think I just discovered my reason for starting this danged blog!  If I write about what I’m doing, then I don’t have to call, email, or text anyone.  And if you call me to chat I can snidely say in my “I’m so much better than you” voice “check out my blog.”  Conversation over.  No wait, that sounds like a bad idea.  You can still call me to chat.  We can chat about my blog!

So now to the real reason…

I wanted to start this journal of life known as a blog (that sentence got my gag reflexes going).  Go back in time (figuratively, of course) to 2006.  Imagine me in my flannel jammies paying bills (imagine a very librarian look with hair in a messy bun with a pencil sticking out, glasses, fuzzy slippers, and adding machine.  No not really, I’m joking about the adding machine) and starting to think about our next vacation.  I guess the flannel jammies aren’t necessary, but imagery is everything (learned that on Google too).  We recently returned from a Philippines SCUBA dive vacation.  It was our second trip there in 12 months and some of the best diving we’ve ever done.  I’m searching the internet (a.k.a Googling) for tropical locations (actual search was for “cheap dive vacations”, I think) and come across the blog (a.k.a journal of life (I just gagged again!  I need to stop writing things that make me gag)) of a young couple sailing around the world.

After about an hour reading their blog I’m hooked.  A plan is born (insert happy chuckle not sinister chuckle muahahaha (side note:  Sinister Chuckle would be a cool band name)).  We will travel around the world on our very own sailboat!  My Type-A personality kicked into high gear.  First step:  make a list of steps.

  1. Learn to sail
  2. Find out if cats and dogs (we have both!) can sail (I mean ride in a sailboat of course.  Not actually sail the boat.)
  3. Find out if we can sell the brand new house we bought less than a year ago (answer:  we can…for a loss.  Doh!)
  4. Find out if Rich wants to do this (consider moving this to item #1)
  5. Find out if money figures into this equation (answer:  it does)

Let’s fast forward (or as my sister and I used to say fstfwd) this story a few years or we’ll be here all night.

It’s now September 2010 and we’re taking our first steps to making this plan a reality (actually the first step was item #4).  We’re going to finally learn how to sail.  We head to San Diego and take a week-long class at the San Diego Sailing Academy.  It’s a pretty sweet set up.  We live on the boat (a Catalina 30) all week (just the two of us) and take the classes during the day.  After five days we have our basic sailing, cruising, coastal navigation and bareboat charter classes knocked out.  Days six and seven are a bareboat charter (for those of us in the know (said with my “I’m so much smarter than you” voice), a bareboat charter means you rent the boat.  Kind of like renting a car, nothing is included.  We had to provide all our food, fuel, etc.)

The good and the bad:

  • The good new is we didn’t die.
  • The other good news is that we like sailing.
  • The bad news is Rich sails like he drives…not good!
  • The other bad new is if we aren’t careful we will kill each other.

With all that in mind we decided to press on.

Fstfwd to Fall 2011.  We’ve been scrimping and saving every penny we can since we hatched this the plan and we’ve finally paid off all our debt (minus the house) and finally have enough cash to start looking for a sailboat.

So of course I had a list of things (thank you Type-A) I thought were essential in a sailboat

  1. Catamaran – Why?  Because I have been known to occasionally get motion barfs and catamarans are more stable than monohulls
  2. A newer boat – Less than 15 years old (that’s new in sailboat talk)
  3. Two toilets (that’s heads in sailboat talk) – Why?  Because sharing a bathroom with a boy isn’t any fun.
  4. Bluewater cruiser – It’s a list of characteristics that make a boat more seaworthy, stable, and safe.  It involves things like hull shape, keel type, cockpit size, and a bunch of other stuff I learned but quickly forgot.  It’s also a technical term used by forum junkies in their diatribes about the merits of fin keels, boomkins, and bobstays (Oh my!) and why the boat you bought is a pile of junk in which you will surely meet your watery death.

So we started searching on Yacht World (it’s sorta like CarMax) for boats that fulfilled my very specific criteria.  To say we had sticker shock would be putting it mildly.  We realized if we wanted to go sailing in this lifetime, we would have to tweak our list a bit.

New sailboat essentials list:

  1. A structure that resembles a sailboat
  2. Floats
  3. Propelled primarily by wind using sails (because wind if free!)

Since we live 90 miles from the ocean we thought that would be a good place to start looking for an ocean-going boat.  We looked at any boat in the SF Bay Area we thought could remotely work.  Here are some of the ones we didn’t like:

  • Tayana 37 (felt like a coffin, really dark inside)
  • Hans Christian 38 (felt like a tomb and hated the cockpit)
  • Pearson 424 (liked the 422 layout better, but couldn’t find any for sale)
  • Beneteau 411 (loved the layout, but it was too plasticy and light weight)
  • Cal 39 (felt really small and had an aft quarter berth/nav station combo)

Some that we did like but were too expensive:  46 foot Morgan, all Island Packets, all Pacific Seacrafts

We’ve been narrowing the list down and now have a decent understanding of what we like/want and what we’re willing to compromise.  Some of the features we really like are a separate shower stall and/or two heads, an aft cabin as opposed to an aft quarter berth/nav station combo, U-shaped galley or walk-though galley on a center cockpit, a decent sized chain locker, and other stuff I can’t remember.

Some we did like and what we liked about them:

  • Endeavour 40, 42 and 43 – all are center cockpit which means there is a large cabin in the back (trust me, it’s a nice feature), lots of storage, the 42’s have a separate shower stall (also a very nice feature)
  • Gulfstar 43 Center Cockpit – aft cabin, two heads, roomy
  • Bayfield 40 – the head is at the bow of the boat and has a separate shower stall, high quality craftsmanship
  • C&C Landfall 39 – center cockpit and all the good stuff

Loosely, our plan is to buy the boat this year or early next year.

Whatever we get it’ll be a fixer so we’ll start “fixing” right away.  Once Guinness, our dog who is 15 years old, passes, we will ditch the land-based life and move aboard with Suki, our 14-year-old cat (don’t tell her yet, it’s a surprise).  We will probably have to live aboard in the Delta (think Dukes of Hazard meets Deliverance) since Sacramento does not have a marina that allows liveaboards (they don’t call it the River City for nothing…really, it’s near a river named after it, that’s the only reason it’s the River City).  West Sacramento might be another option, but it tends to be super ghetto (not necessarily a bad thing?)

The down side is the commute to work.  My job is about 15 miles and Rich’s job is about 25 miles east Sacramento.  The Delta is about an hour’s commute one way.  The timeline is up in the air.  We’re willing to liveaboard with Suki (we might want to find out how she feels about this), but we don’t want to go cruising with her.  Ultimately, I think we will liveaboard for about 2-3 years before we take off.  That should be enough time to fix whatever needs to be fixed, buy the toys we want to take with us, save enough money to be comfortable when we’re out there, and save enough so when we get back we will have a buffer to decide what we’re going to do next.  Piece of cake, right?