Goodbye 2017

Shannon and I had our last sail of 2017 on Friday. The weather has been essentially terrible over the last few weeks. So finally, when the rain cleared up, we untied Nymeria from the dock and set off for a cold, winter day sail in the Galveston Bay.

After getting out of the channel and into the bay, we hoisted the sails and shut off the engine. This is one of the most beautiful moments in sailing. All the noise of the engine is gone and all you can hear is the water and wind around you. You can feel all the power flowing through the boat moving you forward.

It really struck us then just how far we had come in 2017. We had hatched this plan many years ago, but this year it all came together. It all happened so much faster than I had imagined. It was only July that we left our house in Durango and really began this journey.

What a journey it has been too. Thousands of miles pulling our RV with the little Tacoma. Random nights at random RV parks in random locations. Cross country trips for weddings. Emergency evacuations for hurricanes. 24 hour road trips to marinas all up and down the huge state of Texas. Mad dashes from one bank to another to get money together to purchase the boat by the closing date. Day after day of boat projects (and for the foreseeable future). All to get to here, quietly cruising at 5 knots in Galveston Bay.

We would not have made it so far without all the love and support from our friends and family. From the day, we started talking about this crazy idea, everyone has been incredibly supportive. Shout outs to our friends who suffered through many boat conversations over an alcoholic beverage or three. A special thank you to the folks whose couches we crashed during hurricane evacuations. Also many thanks to all that are following along with us on this adventure.

Now that we have the boat, and are getting fairly settled in, whats next?  We don’t really know. Our first goal would be to get at least 500 miles sailed under our keel. That should really help us get to know Nymeria and her capabilities, as well as grow ours to match. This time will also allow us to make any changes and upgrades that we feel we need in order help us take her anywhere.

With destinations only limited by our imagination and confidence, we’re excited to see what our next adventures bring!

Reduction Recipe

From the moment that Justin and I decided to make the move onto a sailboat, I started looking around our 1200 square foot house and became immediately overwhelmed. Though our house wasn’t wall to wall furniture or filled with knick-knacks, we were quite full and we also had a garage lined with boxes. We had plenty of new and old gear, electronics and household items, like any 21st century consumer. The thought was that even if something didn’t have an immediate use, it could potentially be used – some day. It was nice to know that we were prepared with a backup in case something broke or if a friend came to visit or needed anything.

As I started thinking of the items that we could sell or donate, it became quite clear how much I would be getting rid of. There were so many things that filled our home that did not serve a purpose or it was just kept around to deal with later. Ultimately, if it didn’t fit into our 22′ camper, it didn’t get to stick around. After it was all said and done, we had 4 boxes that went into storage in the eaves of a friend’s barn, 1 box of taxes that went to my mom’s house and the rest was either sold, donated or given away. It took a massive mind flip to be able to let it all go since we had worked so hard for it all. It was hard to take the emotions away and think of it as just stuff, stuff that was filling each and every corner of our house and our minds. Clutter.

One big thing in the garage that had to go was my car. Since I always commuted back and forth to work, I practically lived in that thing. I just couldn’t think of being a “one car” family. I used to be in awe of our friends Jarrod and Tracy for only having one vehicle and often wondered how they did it. Now that I no longer have a long commute, it just works. We have to plan our outings a bit more but it helps in reducing the small multiple trips into a larger one with more purpose.

The hardest part for me was my wardrobe. I like clothes, shoes and jackets, since I am always cold. In the camper, I had a closet of only 21 inches to fill. I also limited myself to 1 smallish box of shoes. I was watching the documentary The Minimalists on Netflix and became inspired, especially by the Project 333. The concept is simply to form a ‘capsule’ wardrobe every 3 months around 33 total items. Though I am still far from 33 items, the idea remains: I have way too many things than I could ever use. I have since reduced my wardrobe even further upon moving onto the boat and will continue to do so. When items need replacing, I’m trying to be more conscious of how the clothing is made, by whom and where. My mantra is quality over quantity.

In our current community, there is little to no option to recycle used items. This just means that Justin and I are trying to be bit more diligent in how we are shopping. This means less plastic bags, reduced plastic or wrapping on items, and biodegradable materials, if possible. We are also trying to buy local and support the small businesses in our new community. The goal moving forward it to replace worn out or broken items with recycled or Eco conscious options if available.

Like I mentioned before, minimalizing my world has taken a huge amount of effort and a complete change in my thinking and how I plan what goes on in my world. It is not just about cleaning out the space around me but also freeing my mind of what is not serving a distinct and positive purpose. I don’t have it all figured out and I still have so much to do and learn but I am open to see where the path leads.

Finally, a new Video. Day sailing in Galveston bay

We Offer These Libations…

After living on our Valiant 32 for roughly 120 hours, we were happy to take her out on our first shake-down cruise. Our agenda was simple:  Make it through the channels into Galveston Bay, complete the renaming ceremony, and then go sailing!

Since we had been planning on taking her out all week, our excitement and anxiety had been building. When the time came, we were thrilled to get the boat out of her slip and into open waters. To get into the bay, we had to follow a series of channels. Luckily there was a power boat in front of us to show the way and it helped that the channels were well marked. We made our way into some neighborhoods, past the Kemah Boardwalk and through some areas which we want to later explore by land as well.

Once in Galveston Bay, we had to go through the process of renaming our sailboat.  According to legend, each and every vessel is recorded by name in the Ledger of the Deep and is known personally to Poseidon, or Neptune, the god of the sea.  In order to change a vessel’s name,  we must 1st purge its name from the Ledger and from Poseidon’s memory. The name changing ceremony is a lengthy and wordy process which requires 3 stages and 3 bottles of champagne.

The first ceremony was to wipe the previous name from the Ledger of the Deep. It requires 1 bottle of champagne (minus a bit for the captain and 1st mate) and a metal tag with the old name written on it to be thrown into the ocean to be wiped clean. 

“Oh mighty and great ruler of the seas and oceans, to whom all ships and we who venture upon your vast domain are required to pay homage, implore you in your graciousness to expunge for all time from your records and recollection the name, redacted,  which has ceased to be an entity in your kingdom. As proof thereof, we submit this ingot bearing her name to be corrupted through your powers and forever be purged from the sea. “

Immediately following, was the renaming ceremony which adds the new name to the Ledger and requires 1 more bottle of champagne (minus a bit more for the captain and 1st mate). 

“Oh mighty and great ruler of the seas and oceans, to whom all ships and we who venture upon your vast domain are required to pay homage, implore you in your graciousness to take unto your records and recollection this worthy vessel hereafter and for all time known as Nymeria, guarding her with your mighty arm and trident and ensuring her of safe and rapid passage throughout her journeys within your realm.”

The final step in the renaming ceremony was to appease the gods of the winds to assure fair winds and smooth seas. We were required to pour a generous libation of champagne to Great Boreas of the North Wind, Great Zephyrus of the West Wind, Great Eurus of the East Wind and the Great Notus of the South Wind.

“Oh mighty rulers of the winds, through whose power our frail vessels traverse the wild and faceless deep, we implore you to grant this worthy vessel Nymeria the benefits and pleasures of your bounty, ensuring us of your gentle ministration according to our needs.”

After a few sips of the remaining champagne, it was time to put out the sails and have some fun. The conditions on the water were quite perfect for our first solo cruise in Nymeria. The bay was calm with 10-15 knots of consistent wind. We hoisted the main and then the head sail. We were able to get close to 7 knots of speed sailing close to the wind or close hauled. Nymeria was steady and strong as we pushed our limits with letting her heel over. We were much more comfortable when having the wind from the side, at a beam reach, or from the back of the boat, on a broad reach, since she didn’t heel over so much.

Justin and I both took our turns sailing and navigating. We were having so much fun getting to know Nymeria that we almost didn’t realize that a front was fast approaching with bigger winds and waves. As we headed back through the channels and into the safety of our marina, we looked forward to a 4th bottle of champagne. This libation was just for us, to celebrate our first successful sail with Nymeria.

We have had so much fun sharing our stories with you. Please stay tuned for our next adventure!

Oh, and go check out the video!

The move is on!

Well, it begins, again. After four months here on the beautiful Bolivar Peninsula, we are on the move. This time across the bay to move aboard Nymeria. The boat spent the last week at the shipyard getting a new bottom job and some plumbing repairs required by our insurance. Tomorrow morning we get to relaunch her as our new home.

We will miss the quick beach access, the very quiet neighborhood, and we had just learned the name of all the bartenders on the peninsula. Its time to move on though.

Yet another session of downsizing has to happen, and everything that we have not used in the last four months needs to be stored or sold. We already downsized a ton when we left Durango to fit and live in the camper, but not enough. The boat isn’t necessarily any smaller than the camper, in-fact, living space is a bit better, but the storage space is spread through a lot of smaller and awkwardly shaped spaces.

There is also a todo list about a mile ling once we are on-board. Days worth of cleaning, light fixtures, fans, engine work, tests, more cleaning. Then, maybe a bit of sailing. First on the list is get the main water tank clean. It looks like it has been sitting with 80L of water for years. There is a layer growth all around, and a bunch of sediment at the bottom. Nothing a bit of bleach and some scrubbing cant take care of. Then its onto the engine for me. It may not need any maintenance right away, but I want to do an immediate oil change, water pump, and other general maintenance just so I can be sure, and get some experience doing it before too long.

We have our own satellite internet set to be installed on Monday, its expensive, and has many drawbacks, but we need internet, and this is our only choice as the free marina WiFi just wont cut it for our jobs.

Wish us luck!

24 hours with Nymeria

Its official, we are boat owners. Shannon and I took delivery of Nymeria on Friday and got to spend the day really getting to know her. It wasn’t an easy road to get here. It started back in July when we arrived here in Texas. After a few weeks the boat search really got going. Finally in October, after many boats toured, we found the right one. After making an offer, and taking her out for a survey and sea trial, the real test began.

It seems the hardest part of all this was actually moving the money from one account to another. Seems like such a simple task, but it we actually had to travel back in time before the internet in order to make it happen. Several phone calls, 8 hours of driving between post offices and banks, one  lost transfer check direct from the bank, and an overnight mail of “temporary” checks, I was finally able to get everything deposited in one place.  Only to have Wells Fargo question the final wire transfer, then finally agree after some persuading only because I have been an account holder since 1985. “That would be one hell of a long con” they said.

After the most stressful week I think I’ve ever had, we finally hopped aboard and moved her to our new slip at Waterford Harbor Marina. It had been over a year since our sailing courses in Thailand, and I had never actually docked anything larger than our friend Jeffs’ 22ft day sailor, so, trial by fire I guess. One lesson I remember clearly was “if your bowman isn’t bored, you are docking too fast” I took that to heart and several slow minuted later we tied up to slip 9-21.

Even before we pulled in completely, the friendliness of the sailing community started to show. The livaboard couple in the slip next to us came out to greet us and help with dock-lines. They happily listen to our story of getting there and offer congratulations and whatever advice we are in need of.

We needed to replace one of the old stern lines of the boat as it was rather old and frayed (even tied and held together by some tape) so we took off to our first official trip to West Marine (or my new toy store). They say its nearly impossible to get out of there without spending $200 on stuff. I can totally see why. “Yea, we need one of those”, “oh sure, that would be nice”, “that one light really needs replacing, so lets buy 7 and replace them all.” With an unbelievable amount of personal restraint, we walked out with a new line, one new light, and a fan. $197.95, we had done it!

Now the fun begins. The next several hours were spent folding ourselves in strange ways cleaning and testing everything we could. What pipes go where?How does this light turn on? WTF is this thing, and what does it do? Where are we going to put all our stuff? By the time the sun went down we were nasty and exhausted.

As we were finally getting ready to clean up and order a seemingly traditional first night in a new home pizza, that wonderful sailing community showed its worth again. As we walked down the dock, a couple came out and invited us to the Friday Marina Happy Hour. They meet every Friday at the pavilion and share stories and snacks. We had intended to just have our celebratory champagne and eat pizza on the boat alone, but why not be social? We ended up having way too much fun and had a few too many drinks and no real food while meeting the other owners. We finally ordered that pizza far too late and after stuffing our faces we took to our first night sleeping on the boat.

After a better night of sleep than I expected, we got up and prepared to take the boat to the shipyard for a haul-out and full bottom job. As we were getting ready, Shannon remarked “this should feel weirder.” I think I agree. For some reason things just felt OK, like we were supposed to be there.  Even our last few months in the RV never seemed too normal, just part of a vacation or something. Ill take it as a good sign.

One more week of RV living while we have the Nymeria worked on, then the adventure really begins!

We almost sank it!

“The vessel was found mechanically and structurally sound, …maintained and equipped in above average condition for a boat this age.”

That was the overall conclusion of the survey and sea trial. Other than a few minor, very fixable issues the boat is in excellent condition.

The day started with yet another 6am ferry ride. We needed to get to Kemah to meet the surveyor by 8am, and the ferry only runs once an hour that early. We also didn’t really know what the traffic between Galveston and Houston would be near morning rush hour so we made sure we had extra time.

We met Nick, our surveyor, right on time at the boat and got right to work. It’s enlightening to watch him work as he meticulously tapped every square inch of the deck with his little hammer. He was looking and listening for any signs of delamination or water intrusion. He then checked every fitting, attachment, screw, and line from the bow to the stern. Our confidence continually grows as he frequently mentions how nice and maintained everything is, and is surprised at how few hull issues he is finding. “I can usually find at least one spot of delamination or water intrusion, but I’m not finding any” he said.

I consider the hull to be the most important part of this survey as it is the real soul of the boat. It’s a huge relief at this point to see that it is solid and in near perfect condition. That being said, there’s still a lot more to look at, including the below water parts of the hull when we haul it out later in the day. As we start getting into the details of all the electronics and other accessories on the boat, the issues start to arise.

We fired up the auxiliary generator, a huge bonus to have in my mind, but find that the cooling water is not flowing and the intake hoses are rotten. Not too big of a deal, but that means no generator until it is fixed. We move onto the inverter, which I’m also excited to have on-board because we have a lot of toys that need to be charged, but no go. It doesn’t turn on. Strike two.

There were several other little electrical quirks, the running light didn’t work, some of the interior lighting was bad, but all of that is fairly easy to replace, and probably something I want to upgrade anyway.

A few hours had passed and it was now time for the main event. The haul out and sea trial. Let’s see how this old girl performs, and look at her not so visible parts.

It’s a bit concerning watching a boat get pulled out of the water. It is clearly not its natural state. Even though this boat was not ours, we were both quite tense as we watched the lift pull her up. Once she was on the hard, Nick got right to the tapping again. Every inch of the hull below water needs to be checked for any issues. Once again, she came out with a surprisingly clean bill of health for a 32 year old boat. The bottom paint needs to be redone, and some standard maintenance items, but all of that is to be expected as bottom paint should be redone every few years anyway.

The quick haul out complete, it was now time to put her back in the water and go for a sail. The weather was not all that great though. It was sunny and warm, but the wind was blowing a lot harder than we wanted. Steady wind at 10-15 miles an hour, with regular gusts above 25. For any real sailor, these are not really issues, but for us, on a boat we don’t know, it was quite scary. Even with the wind, the boat performed amazingly well. “shes a tank” says Nick calmly as we get hit by yet another gust with full sails up. My knuckles are white as I’m steering the boat and have to make some small, but easily made adjustments to keep course, but the boat just heels over and takes the gust in stride. I keep watching Nick for some sort of reaction, but this is nothing to him. He is running up and down the deck checking out the rigging and sails as I nervously sail along.

Once back at the dock and coming down off the excitement of the sail, we start digging into the inner bowels of the ship. We have to check every cable, every hose, and every inch of the interior. If you’ve read this far, this is the part where the title of this post comes in.

Nick had been checking out all the plumbing of the head (nautical speak for bathroom) and noticed that there were some shortcuts taken. In particular, the raw water line to the toilet was not running through an “anti-siphon” loop. He explained to me that in the right conditions, without this loop, water can just start flowing into the boat, and we should always make sure this valve is closed any time we are sailing until it gets properly fixed.

Sure enough, about fifteen minutes later we are looking at some pipes down in the bilge and start seeing water flowing in. We check all the obvious things before turning back to the head. Turns out that exactly what he was explaining could have gone wrong, had, and the toilet was full and overflowing with sea water and it was freely running into the boat. We quickly shut off the valve and stop it before much happens, but if we had not been aboard, this could have easily sunk the boat in a few hours. Usually the bilge pump would just pump the water back out, but due to another issue we found, the the bilge pump was wired through and unprotected switch and we had turned it off earlier to test it.

Another hour or two of meticulously checking and testing everything on the boat, the survey was complete. We learned a ton about this boat and what it means to take ownership and maintain her. We have picked a good one it seems. Other than some minor and totally fixable issues, this boat is in fantastic condition and is very well equipped for what we want to do with it. A little bit of negotiating with the current owner over the final price with these issues and we may be buying a boat!

It is so very exciting at this stage, no matter how much planning Shannon and I did to get here. I’m continually blown away at where we are.

Let see where this goes!

Survey and Sea Trial

A few weeks ago, we made an offer on a 1985 Valiant 32. After a a bit of back and forth negotiation, our offer was finally accepted. Our next step is a full Marine Survey and a sea trial to determine is we actually accept the boat.

A sea trail seems pretty straight forward. Hop on the boat and take it for a sail. This is a good opportunity to feel how the boat performs, to really see the rig working, and test if all the electoics and such actually work.

The marine survey is much more in-depth. A professional surveyor that we hire ourselves (not associated with the seller or broker) will look at every inch of the boat. They will check every nut and bolt, every line, every connection, seriously everything. During this survey the boat is pulled out of the water so that the bottom of the hill cam be thoroughly inspected for the protective paint, any possible weak sections, if there are any holes, and many other things I wouldn’t even know to check.

Not only will this complete survey give us some confidence in the boat we may be buying, but also it will add many negotiation points we may be able to get off the price. Does the boat need $3000 worth of new rigging? New bottle paint? New engine, or an overhaul? These items can be renegotiated on the final selling price. We hope it finds nothing serious. But some wiggle room on the price for some new gear could be nice.

We’ve got our sea trial and survey scheduled in two days. Can’t wait to see how this boat does.

Internet Explorer

Justin and I were quite spoiled in Durango. In addition to great friends and beautiful landscapes, we had excellent internet. It was important to our lives then and it has become even more important now and I didn’t think that that was even possible.

For some time now, Justin has been working from home as a software engineer while I commuted across the state line during the school year as a speech therapist. This move to Texas meant that I also started working from home doing speech teletherapy via video conferencing. We can both suck up bandwidth with our jobs alone even without our tv and movie streaming.

Just out of dumb luck we found a RV Park on Crystal Beach, TX with the biggest internet package available on the Bolivar Peninsula. We are one of only 6 RVs in the place. We are typically the only people at the park during the week with the others RVers coming in on the weekends for a quick getaway. We have since discovered that what we have found is rare and must be appreciated. Internet is a major reason that Justin and I have stayed on the Bolivar Peninsula so long.

As we look forward to moving onto a sailboat, we have been looking into Marinas and what they have to offer. Recently, we toured marinas in search of amenities, a short walk to the restroom for Pete (and for me) and for our blessed internet. We quickly learned that what we need, does not exist out there in the real world, let alone, in a marina. It seems that marinas are like typical RV Parks, the office is the source of internet and they send it out into the world via WiFi, maybe there are signal repeaters, maybe there aren’t. While we are going to be set up with a repeater/booster and internal network, we still have to get a decent signal to the boat. The marina that would be the best fit for us offers internet but it was unpredictable when tested. Another marina that we also liked has an estimate in for a complete internet overhaul that is awaiting owner approval (it has been awaiting approval for a few years now and is not a top priority). Currently, we are still scratching our head trying to come up with a plan.

Once we purchase a boat, we will have to leave the haven of our RV Park and our available options are few and quite expensive. So far, we have determined that there are nor DSL or Cable internet options available at the marinas in the area. We have seen satellite internet plans which would be simi-affordable but not wonderful for video conferencing due to its lag in video. We have looked into Cellular Data plans which would quickly become quite costly due to our data needs. For example, I used 42 GB of data on my computer alone last month and I use it primarily for work. (This does not include Justin’s work/personal computers, both of our phones and my work iPad.)

Though we enjoy watching tv and movies, we would be willing to reduce the amount of streaming we do if that meant that we could continue to work remotely. This will probably be a good thing for us in the long run. It would mean more reading books, writing blog posts, editing video, taking long walks on the beach, playing video games which don’t require internet and perhaps more actual conversation.

 

Ultimately, we are still searching for the best solution that will allow us to continue working until we are ready to untie the lines. If there are options out there that we have yet to explore, please leave us a comment.

Whats in a Name?

How do you decide a name? Naming a boat turns out to be a bit more of a challenge than I had expected. There are so many considerations to take into account. Superstitions are a big one, they even change regionally. Bananas? Cats? Never. Lots of names today seem to be “punny”, like Knotty Lady or Passing Wind.

Once you navigate all those little things, the name still needs to mean something to you. Shannon and I have been trying to come up with a name since this adventure began over a year ago. Names like “Animas” or “Serenity” were early attempts. Nothing ever felt right.

The superstitions and rules don’t stop once you’ve come up with a name either. Neptune, the god of the sea, will take his revenge if he is not properly appeased. There is a whole ceremony that needs to be done in order to strike the old name from Neptune’s “Ledger of the Deep” and ask his permission to add a new name. Of course there are many versions of the ceremony, and several involve copious amounts of alcohol.

Now that we have actually made an offer, we really need to make a decision. It seems the best time to make the change is when the boat changes hands. There are registrations and forms that all need to have the name, and changing later is just a bit more process.

We’ve narrowed it down to some finalists.

“Valinor”

From the Lord of the Rings. Valinor is the undying lands that the elves travel too once the king finally returns. (They also invited Bilbo and Frodo to join them.)

“Nymeria”

Nymeria is the name of Aryas direwolf in Game of Thrones. Named for the the warrior queen that created Dorne.

Yes, they are both a bit geek culture related, but both Shannon and I are fairly solid geeks. Game of Thrones was even a sub-theme of our wedding.

Let us know in the comments what you think. Even tell us your own ideas!