In Search of Wind!

In case you didn’t know, it is hard to find a sailboat in the landlocked state of Colorado!

When Justin and I had this crazy idea a few years back about heading to the coast and finding a Sailboat, we didn’t quite know what we were getting into. If anyone knows me, you know that I love doing research and have been happily consumed with it ever since. And where did I start, the only place I could, online! Justin and I dove into YouTube and began to follow some amazing video bloggers about their adventures on the sea. Some of our favorites include: Sailing La Vagabonde, White Spot Pirates, Sailing Uma, Sailing SV DelosFollow The Boat, Wicked Salty, Cruising Lealea, and Sailing Nervous . Along with all the inspirational videos about the beauty of sailing, the wonder of traveling to vacant islands and meeting new cultures from around the world, we absorbed all the technical details that Sailing Nervous gave in their boat search and the amount of control and precision can go into a boat refit like Sailing Uma and Cruising Lealea have done and/or still doing. (Refit: repairing, restoring, renovating)

Before we got too far into the boat searching and future planning, our good friend, Jeff Leith, suggested that we spend some time sailing in order to determine if it was something at we really wanted to do. Justin had the most previous sailing experience playing around on his friend Nate’s boat in Portland and in helping Nate take his sailboat from Portland to Squamish, British Columbia. I had only toured Nate’s boat once, meaning that I had zero sailing experience. Heeding Jeff’s advice, we piggybacked onto a trip to see my nephew, Quade, graduate high school in Seoul, South Korea with a trip to Phuket, Thailand to spend a week in sailing school with Yachtpro. (See previous blog posts: Sailing Thailand Pt 1 and Sailing in Thailand Pt 2.) While there, we were able to get our American Sailing Association certifications for 101 Basic Keelboat Sailing, 103 Basic Coastal Cruising, and 104 Bareboat Cruising. (See also previous blog link) While there, we only strengthened our resolve to make this sailing thing happen!

After gaining video and actual sailing inspiration, in came the google searching! What type of sailboat do we want: ketch, cutter, sloop…? Do we want a monohull, catamaran or a trimaran? Do we want a fin, wing, bilge, centerboard, or full keel? Do we want wood, steel, fiberglass? Do we want a wheel vs tiller? And what do all of these terms mean? Of course there are more factors that we have to consider and the list is long and tedious.

As I dug deeper I learned that there was also math involved! Displacement/Length Ratio, Ballast Ratio, Sail Area/Displacement Ratio! The Displacement/Length ratio gives a sense of a boat’s speed potential – the lower the number, the faster the boat. The Ballast Ratio is the percentage of the boat’s weight that is the ballast. This number refers to the ‘stiffness’ or the resistance to the heeling or the leaning of the boat when under sail.  The Sail Area/Displacement Ratio is a measure of the power of the sails when compared to the weight of the boat. The higher the number, the higher the performance, but the boat will be harder to handle.

All of this makes my head hurt but it all means that we will have to do some calculations in order to make sure that we have a comfortable ride.

A person could easily get bogged down with all the formulas and specs but in trying to simplify things for my own sanity, it all comes down to safely.

After digging through mountains of online information, we feel that a ‘blue water’ monohull sailboat would be the best fit for us. These boats are more slow and heavy but tend to be more stable in the water. Using bluewaterboats.org and Mahina Boat Consultation websites as a guide, online searches found that boats mostly fitting my criteria were in the 32-42 foot range and ran anywhere from $15000-$45,000. Pricing depends on the age, condition and location of the boat. Of course I would prefer a larger boat for more comfort and stability but that also means more money for the purchase, maintenance and docking fees. Upon arriving in Galveston last week, I started contacting brokers in the area to start the process of actually going on board some of these beautiful sailboats. We are set to go to Corpus Christi this Friday to look at an Ericson 325 and a Nicholson 35 along with a few others. We also hope to get on board a Downeaster 32 soon. We will let you know how it goes.

‘They’ say that the moment you walk onto the right boat you will know immediately if she is ‘the one.’

Week One

Its hot, like really hot. All the time. Also humid. I didn’t know hygrometers ever said anything other than 20% humidity (that’s the lowest any of them I’ve ever had registered, and it never gets above that where I’m from.) So far, I have not seen anything below 80 degrees or 80% humidity since we arrived. I’ve never really appreciated A/C until now.

That being said, things are going rather well for us. Our little RV park is full, but there are only 6 spots, and everyone seems to go home all week. Friday afternoon, through Sunday afternoon, its a bit busy and noisy, but all week long we have the whole place to ourselves. The whole of the Bolivar Peninsula seems to be just a really laid back version of my stereotypes of Texas. There are very few people here, but they all seem to be friendly, but most everyone seems to just keep to themselves. The busiest place is the beach, and that’s clearly the “main drag” of the area where big trucks and confederate flags fly proud.

We’ve somewhat settled back into a routine. I went back to work last Monday, and Shannon has spends her time gathering resources for her work that starts in August, as well as lining up yacht brokers and boat viewings for us. Instead of our usual Durango happy hours after work of Carvers Beers, Rice Monkey sushi, or our favorite Tacos Nayarit, we’ve been just trekking the 1/2 mile to the beach and enjoying a cheap beer or three while we watch the waves. Its certainly a lot cheaper this way. We’ve tried to find a local replacement for our regulars, but nothing quite lives up to them. Oh well, I cant complain about the beach.

We’ve taken a few excursions down to Galveston Island, as that seems to be the closest place to do or get anything. We have to take a ferry to get there and it is always busy (at least a 20-30 minute wait to get a car on, sometimes an hour and a half or more), but we have taken our Durango bike lifestyle and figured out that we can skip the line and walk right on with our bikes. It may be super hot and sweaty, but that’s the new normal for us.We have a plan to head down to Corpus Christi next weekend to take a look at a few boats down there. One is an Ericson 32.5, and another is a Nicholson 35. Both look quite exciting, and it feels really good to actually be moving forward and going aboard a few boats.

Its all still really exciting and a bit overwhelming that this is really happening, but I have to say, its nowhere near as hard as we though it would be. If anyone reading this is feels that need to get out and start and adventure, just do it. All that fear and unknown in your head stopping you is far easier than you think to overcome.

 

Were Off!

Its been a busy couple of weeks for us. July 1st, we pulled out of our driveway in Durango, CO and said goodbye to our quiet little mountain town.

What began as a random drunken conversation at a bar over three years ago has now officially begun. “Someday id like to escape it all and live a simple life on a sailboat somewhere” I said. “Well, lets just go then” Shannon replied. Not one to put too much faith in the reality of it actually happening, I said “sure, lets do it.” Its been a wild ride since then, but I now find myself sitting outside our camper here in Bolivar Peninsula, TX with thirty days to decide where to go next.

With so many changes over the last few months, its hard to know where to begin, so I guess I’ll get the ugly out of the way. I had to leave my dog Lopa with my father in Park City, UT. She had been with me for ten years though all of my adventures. Long solo backpacking trips, epic desert camping, and many hundreds of miles running through the mountains.

Unfortunately, she just would not live her expected happy life in the camper. We made several attempts to acclimate her to the smaller space, but the constant motion, no back yard, and very restrictive dog rules at RV parks just wouldn’t do. The decision was made to let her go live her last few years with dad in Park City. He runs every day, has a great backyard, and will be able to provide a stable and happy place for her. I’m not really great at emotions, but I couldn’t help but cry as we pulled away without her.

Hard to leave her

With the hardest part over, it was time to begin this new adventure in earnest. Two weeks ago, Shannon and I drove away from our house in Durango, just as our new renters were moving in, and began our journey across the country. We had sold, donated, or just trashed nearly everything we owned in order to fit it all into our 22 ft trailer. Two days of pushing my twelve year old Tacoma to its limits towing it all to our first stop near Tulsa, OK. While there we were able to spend some time with Shannon’s family for a few days.

Then, we hopped a plane to Jacksonville, FL to take part in my brothers wedding before he ships off to join the Navy.

Another two days of slow and slightly nerve-wracking driving, we arrived at our RV park here in Bolivar Peninsula, TX. We have the next thirty days reserved at this quiet little spot while we get our bearings of the area and begin the massive search for a sailboat we can call home.

This may be our last…

Winter 2016-17 Thank you
Closing day at Purgatory

Last weekend, Shannon and I took a day off of house repair and travel prep to ski closing day at Purgatory. It was just about as perfect a spring skiing day can be. It was sunny and warm, and still a some good spring snow. After a few runs, we both realized that this may be our last ski day for at least a few years. This marked what may have been our first of many “lasts” that we will be having over the coming weeks. That realization made the ski day much more meaningful. Instead of just lapping the runs and thinking of when to take a beer break, we slowed down and just took in what we may have taken for granted over the last 18 years in Durango.

On Tuesday we headed to our regular Super Teds Super Trivia, hosted at the Ska Brewing world Headquarters. We had known for weeks that the Ska trivia season was over, but it finally struck us that this would be our last one as we will be gone by the time the next season starts. We again took that little bit extra to try and remember the wins, the losses, the MANY nights winning the “mediocre” award, and above all, the regular gathering of Los Jefes to drink, have fun, and sometimes answer the questions correctly.

Change is inevitable, instead of holding on the the past, and what has been comfortable, it is time to fully embrace the coming change. These last few weeks have shown me that I need to look closely at all the things that I have, that I do, and that I think, and decide weather or not that thing is helping me toward the next goal, or if it is just something that I do, or have taken for granted for so many years.

While there are many more lasts to come over the coming weeks. It is not the end of anything, but the beginning. The beginning of our next adventure.

Sailing in Thailand Pt 2

justin marinaWe were more than happy to check out of our hotel and check onto our Beneteau 343 for 3 nights and 4 days of sailing in Phang Nga Bay. Since we had already completed our course plotting the previous day, we jumped on the boat and left the marina ASAP. And we were off….

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We started our trip heading toward the northwest part of the Phang Nga Bay and to Ko Hong. We had to motor most of the way into the Bay due to light winds but we finally convinced Gunnar to let us put up the sails. The scenery along the way was beautiful.

sails

 

scenery

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once we had anchored, we had just enough time before dark to jump into the dinghy and do some exploring. Gunnar drove us through a cave and toward interior of the island. The sheer granite walls were beautiful. We were there during low tide and were able to get out and put out toes in the sand.

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openingbats

Day 2 of sailing, we pulled up the hook and headed to Ko Roi for lunch and another chance to go inside an island. We got there just in time to have the place to ourselves.

 

 

As we passed through the cave, we were in mangrove heaven and you could hear the screeching of bats almost instantly. When the tide comes in, the dinghy is too big to get through the entrance. We stayed here as long as we dared…

 

After exploring, eating lunch and having a nice refreshing swim, we left Ko Roi and headed for our next anchorage off of Ko Yao Yai. The weather was beautiful but not all that windy. We sailed as much as we could and the boys fixed a fan for our cabin so that I could have some air during the night! I was soooo thankful!

Once we made it to Ko Yao Yai, we finally got some wind and were able to practice tacking (turning so that our bow goes through the wind) and jibing (when our stern/back of the boat goes through the wind). We had a blast. We were also excited for dinner at the ‘Blue Roof.’ I don’t know what the place is actually called but it had a blue roof and ice cold beer. Also, don’t tell anyone that we went because we it was kind of against the rules. Whatever, it was worth it!

blue rooffrom blue roof
squall

Day 3 of sailing began with the clouds moving in. We picked up our anchor and headed right for it.

happy face

 

 

We finally got up to 18 knots of wind and it felt like we were flying. Of course it also rained but it was warm and refreshing. I promise I felt happier than what I looked like in this picture.

 

reefed main

With the higher winds, we got to practice lowering the head sail and reefing the main sail. The trick is to prepare the sails before the storm actually hits so that you don’t loose your sails or mast.

 

shan happy facewed captainSee, We were actually having a blast!

Finally, the squall past and we made it to our last anchorage of the trip, Ko Rang Noi. As Justin and I were completing our ASA sailing tests, we got a brilliant sunset! Since it was our last night on board, we did our best at eating all the remaining food.

sailingsunsetboat foodtest

Day 4, our last day sailing. We headed back to the marina and outran multiple squalls. Once back safely in the harbor, we did multiple man-overboard drills and will now be capable of getting people/animals back safely on board. We learned so much during our experience on board and did our best to have all the information and sites soak into our memories.

We loved our little trip in Phang Nga Bay and look forward to having many more sailing adventures in the future.

Click to see more pictures of our Sailing Adventure: Thailand by Sea

Next up on Our Next Adventures: We go backpacking at home in Colorado

Sailing in Thailand Pt 1

Just as I promised, I now get to tell you about our adventures in sailing!

As part of my search for the perfect ending to our trip to Korea, I scoured the internet and found YachtPro, a sailing school in the cool (as in “interesting”, definitely not cool as in “weather”) location of Phuket, Thailand. The first 3 days were sailing ‘school’. This is when we would start each morning with a latte at Yacht Haven Marina, go to the boat to learn some stuff, come back to the marina for lunch and then go learn more stuff on the water. And mostly in the rain.

rainy justin

Our boat for the first 2 days was a 26′ S80 and our skipper was John. We little boat 1spent 2 wonderful days in the rain learning and getting quizzed about all the pieces, parts and functions of a sail boat. Most of these things were taught for my benefit since I had not really been on a sailboat before. We were taught how to attach, raise, lower and reef the sails as well as how to approach/leave a dock/buoy. We were also taught how to tie some essential knots, which I have yet to master. In fact, I still had to go back to the resort and study the American Sailing Association textbooks just to make sure that all of the information was making sense and sinking in. This was aided by some wonderful local food and beverages (I think I mentioned the Mai Tia’s in my previous post).

Day 3 of sailing took us to the big boat, a Beneteau 343, and our new skipper Gunnar (Goo-na). The goal for the day was to learn about our new boat and chart our course for our upcoming 3 nights in Phang Nga Bay.

343Screenshot_20160604-175637plotting

So we checked out of our hotel and onto the boat with much anticipation of what we would experience over the next few days….

Stay tuned for the final leg of our sailing adventure!

 

 

Phuket, Thailand

After saying our goodbyes to Korea, it took a whole day of traveling to get to Phuket, Thailand. I had the grand pleasure of learning to drive on the wrong side of the car/road, on a dark and rainy Wednesday night. (Sorry, but we don’t have any footage of this.) For the first 4 nights, we stayed at the Andaman Seaside Resort which was within a short walking distance to Bangtao Beach and many bars/restaurants. Bangtao Beach is on the Northwestern portion of Phuket and the beach completely disappeared when the tide come in. Fun to watch if you have an escape route!andamanandaman 2

Since we weren’t able to explore the area during the day, we were quite content with our selections of traditional Thai and Western food options (pizza, pasta, burgers) located around the resort. And the reason we couldn’t explore the area much, you ask? We were taking sailing lessons! We were traveling daily to YachtPro, on the northern tip of Phuket to play on a boat…in the rain…but more on that later.

When we were not learning to sail, we took advantage of some non-rainy time at the beach and did our best to stimulate the bar/restaurant economy. We were in Phuket during the off-season or rainy season and we pretty much had every establishment to ourselves. We even had our first ever, but not even close to the last, Mai Tai.

beachmai tai fooddrinks

After we got back to land from 3 nights in Phang Nga Bay (don’t worry, I will get to the sailing in anther blog post), we spent our last 2 nights in Phuket at the Beyond Resort. I chose Karon Beach, which is on the southwestern end of Phuket, since it was less touristy but still had plenty of shopping and restaurant options. We swim up barwere lucky to have the rain disappear but were left with very hot and very sticky temperatures. Thank goodness for the beach, swim up bar and air conditioning in the room. Karon beach had the same soft sand with cleaner water and bigger waves. What we didn’t get on camera was all the trash that was on the shore, even a hypodermic needlewaves 🙁

Justin was just like a kid playing in the water and I was like a mother taking pictures making sure that he came out alive. Big waves + strong under current are not my thing apparently.

 

Our last day in Phuket seemed to last forever…we stayed at the resort until check-time and then hit the road for some site seeing before having to big buddhareturn the rental car at 11:00 pm. So, we headed to the Big Buddha. I had forgotten that it is a holy site and showed up in a tank top and shorts. Luckily they had some more conservative attire available: a sarong to cover my legs and a scarf to cover my shoulders. Sitting high in the Nekkerd Hills, he is 25m wide and 45m tall and made of concrete and jade marble. The view from there was amazing.

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ocean

rawaiFrom there, we had a goal of making it to the southern most point of Phuket. Not sure that we made it but I’m not sure that it mattered. The views of the ocean were amazing from any of our vantage points.

 

In our wanderings, we stopped to roam a pier and have lunch at Rawai Beach. There was not much of ‘beach’ could be found but the view a cold fruit smoothie was nice.

 

Dinner was at Sala Mexicali. We had to try the Mexican restaurant that was featured on a sailing video by SV Delos. We looked it up via the interwebs and enjoyed our last moments in Thailand killing time grubbing away. Of course we don’t have any pictures of this. I think we were pictured out at this point. Sorry about that…

The long journey home was supposed to take 36 hours but ended up taking almost 45 hours due to flight delays. Phuket to Beijing, Beijing to Dallas, Dallas to Durango. The only on-time flight was our flight out of Phuket. Just another adventure in air travel. Even with all the jet lag, the trip was well worth it!

For more photos check out this link: Thailand by Land

Next up: Sailing in Thailand!

Advertisement Alert: I have failed to mention how none of this would have been possible without Google’s Project Fi. As everyone close to us knows, Justin loves everything Google. We have switched to their Fi cellular network and were able to have a good, although not always super fast, data connection while we were traveling. We were able to navigate the buses and subways in Korea and through all the winding roads in Thailand. We were able to do research on attractions and restaurants as well as communicate with friends/family with ease. I can’t imagine traveling without consistent access to Google Maps. Since we have been home and have received our phone bills for the trip, they were quite reasonable and not at all too shocking for how much we used our data.  Thanks Google for making our trip even more worry free!

The Mountain Fortress City of Namhansanseong

Shannon and I had a free day as the rest of the family was rather tired of walking everywhere and Heather *gasp* had to work. We decided to take advantage and explore something not on our normal list.

We had discovered the fortress during our research of things to do while in Korea two years ago, but we never made it. Turns out it was a TON of walking, but some of the more beautiful old buildings we had seen. We walked for hours around the South wall and city fortress buildings. It was especially nice to see the clear(ish) sky being slightly above the ever-present smog around Seoul.

Namhansansseong Fortress