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!