You looking for a sailboat? A man in a NASA t-shirt said as he finished his Coors. “Um, yea” we responded with a bit of confusion. “We’ve been looking at boats all day”, “Well, I may have one for ya.”
Shannon and I had just finished looking at several boats in Kemah, and were debriefing over a beer at the Voodoo bar. He must have overheard us, becasue he quickly began telling us of his friend who is currently sailing to Panama on a 55ft Nicholson. After a few minutes of pictures and stories, he remembered that he was trying to sell us some other boat.
At this point Shannon and I are rather skeptical as this guys seems a bit, um, spacey. He starts to tell us about this Valiant 40 that his buddy that is currently sailing to Panama has here just across the street. “Its one of them blister boats” he said. Apparently in the late 70s, Valiant started making boats with a new epoxy/fiberglass mix that caused some severe blistering. This issue eventually put the company out of business. The core of the boat though, is still a fantastic big blue-water boat designed by Robert Perry.
As we walked to the marina NASA guys started telling his stories of his years at NASA as an engineer, and all the work he does on all these boats here now with that expertise. As he seems to get more comfortable with his stories, his salty sailor side starts to show. Stories of getting kicked out of marinas skinny dipping with “many ladies”, and missing hurricanes by days with his skilled weather plotting. I think I’m starting to like this guy
The boat itself is great, its old, but well equipped and solidly built. Its quite large, and well proven with multiple trips to South America under its belt. It unfortunately suffers from, what is know in the sailing community, as the plague. The blisters that are forming in its hull are essentially incurable. Many have tried, pumping tens of thousands of dollars into repairs, only to have them reappear. From what I read though, they are generally cosmetic, and there are no reported case of any catastrophic hull failure.
Salty sailor though says that we can have this 40ft boat for $20k. That’s one hell of a deal. and one worth serious thought. It just goes to show that good things happen while drinking at the bar.
It’s now been a month in Texas, we’re on the Bolivar->Galveston ferry again to head to Kemah to look at some more sailboats. It feels like we ride this ferry a lot these days. There’s really nothing on Bolivar Peninsula. There’s only one decent store at all, and it’s a combo grocery and hardware store, aptly named “The Big Store.” Anything we can’t find there we have to head into Galveston, or 30 miles north to a small town called Winnie. There’s no Laundromat, so we have to either hand wash in the sink, or hop the ferry again. We’ve eaten all all local restaurants, all 5 of them, they’re nothing to write home about. So if we have a craving for decent food, well, you can probably guess. One of them, the Tiki Beach Bar, does have one interesting little quirk, it has its own private grass airstrip where apparently pilots from all over come in a have themselves some lunch.
There are some great bonuses to living here as well. For one it’s really quiet, traffic is non existent, except on the beach. The weather is really not too bad, it’s hot, and humid, but a quick walk to the beach and it feels quite nice again. Oh, and the beach, I love the beach. Its half a mile from the house, and ten miles in either direction of sandy goodness. I’ve never been much for just wasting time, I usually want to be doing something (and playing video games or watching TV, does count as that) but I can just sit on the beach and drink a beer and be perfectly content.
It’s not all beer on the beach though, we’ve had some issues with our A/C, and power outages. We had a storm roll by a few days ago that knocked out the power for nearly 10 hours. No power is generally OK for the trailer as we have backup batteries, but no power means no A/C. 10 minutes without A/C it’s a sauna inside the trailer. We were having other issues with the A/C as well. Due to a lovely design feature of the trailer, the thermostat is mounted on a wall that, due to the refrigerator, has some direct outdoor airflow. That airflow with all its moisture flows directly into the thermostat. It hits the cold dry air inside the trailer and immediately condenses. This kills the thermostat. It we woke up one night at around 3am and it was nearly 90 inside. Looking at the thermostat, it thought it was 40, good thing the heat didn’t turn on. I opened it up and found it dripping with water. So I dried it out and hoped for the best. Over the next few days the screen started shorting out, and it started melting, and freezing us in the middle of the night depending on its mood, so we replaced it. (Yet another ferry trip to Galveston.) I also made an attempt to put some insulation in that hole as well, so hopefully we won’t repeat that issue.
We are also still actively searching for our new sailboat. Last Friday after work we, um, took the ferry, to Kemah to look at several boats up there. After our last adventure to Corpus Christi, we were pretty much sold on the Islander 38 we saw, but it’s not really for sale, so we can’t really do anything about that right now. The broker in Kemah has 2 Islander 36’s and a few other boats in our price range so we had to have a look. Turns out the Islander 36 is mostly the same boat as the 38, just without a bowsprit, a pilothouse (really great view from the salon), or the really cool swim ladder on the stern. It has a more standard interior layout with a v-berth main cabin, and smaller quarter berths. Overall the boat was quite nice, and actually really well equipped. Unfortunately, I was still so set on the 38, that I just wasn’t looking at it with the right eye. So today, a week later and no movement on the 38, we are on our way back to Kemah to have another look.
This search for a boat feels like it taking a long time, but we’ve only been at it for a month and we already have some good options. We have one more month paid for here in Bolivar, so we have a bit more time, but we are starting to think of the next place. Do we head across the bay to Galveston? Down south to Corpus Christi? Or across the bay to Kemah? Who knows, but that’s the best part. It doesn’t matter, just go.
After years of clicking through thousands of photos of sailboats on various websites, Shannon and I were finally able to step from the virtual world into reality.
Last Friday, we rolled out of bed at 4:15, gathered Pete and some clothes, and took off to catch the 5:30 Ferry to Galveston. We had scheduled visits with two yacht brokers near Corpus Christi. There were 3 specific boats that we had found online that we wanted to see.
Online, all three looked fairly good, and seemed to be what we wanted, but there was not way of knowing until we stepped aboard. We quickly learned that pictures on the internet and reality were significantly different.
We met the first broker and toured the Endeavor 37 Ketch. First impressions were excellent as the outside of the boat looked great. Clean hull and deck, it all seemed to be well maintained and cared for. Another bonus was that it was ketch rigged. This was something that I had wanted in a boat as it means that there are a lot more options in your sail plan and can perform better in a wider range of conditions. That initial impression continued as we looked inside. The A plan layout of this boat was the main reason it was on our list, it was open and roomy as it takes the V-birth (forward cabin, usually a v shaped bad) and turns it into a large salon (dining room). This really opens up the interior and makes the living space seem much larger. It has tons of storage, and it looked well maintained and clean.
That’s where things started to fall apart a bit. There was not much more to this boat than its good bones. The electronics were ancient, and essentially non-existent. The power system was minimal, and looked jury-rigged to its limits. I expect to have to replace most of the electronics as a geek, but I was not intending to rewire and re-power and entire boat.
Overall we were happy with the Endeavor and felt it was a great start to the search. We had several more boats to look at so we hopped back in the truck and headed to meet broker number two for the main event. The Nicholson 35
The Nicholson 35, according to what we saw online, was exactly the boat we wanted, and was the main reason for the trip. It was a solid full keel ocean cruiser, and its description and pictures were quite exciting. Unfortunately, that excitement quickly evaporated once we got to the boat. It was a LOT smaller than it seemed, and a lot older. We both felt it as we looked at the aging paint on the hull, and that feeling grew as we stepped inside to see that everything onboard looked to be original 1976 vintage. While it looked nice in pictures, it was really just too small, and too much work for what we wanted, so we moved on fairly quickly.
Right across the dock was our next boat, the Ericson 32.5, it was a bit more expensive, but also quite a bit newer and better equipped than the other boats. Ericson is a capable boat in general, but its more of a coastal cruiser than a big heavy bluewater boat, which is more of what we are looking for. This particular boat was less than half the weight of the other boats we had looked at so far, and for some reason that kept us from fully embracing the idea of it. (or it might have been the bummer that we were feeling after the last boat.) It was a fine boat, and in pretty good shape, but so far it was only 2nd on our list, and just a bit more money that we wanted to spend for “mostly” right for us.
The advantage of going though a broker started paying off at this point. We had already looked at several boats and everything that we had planned, but while we talked with him he had come up with some other options. He recommended we look at this C&C 35 that had just gone up for sale and was not yet listed. It was a bit out of our price range, but it was another opportunity to see what was out there and “tune” our expectations. Turns out that it was more of a racer than a cruiser boat. Though the previous owner had made significant changes to make it more of a cruiser, it still wasn’t all that comfortable. With that and cost and general layout of the boat, we had quickly written it off.
Once we had decided that, we spent a good half an hour chatting with the broker about our goals and what we want in a boat. This gave me some hope as he really seemed to want to help us find the right one. He had hinted that there was one more, and Islander 38 C, that he thought we would like a lot, but it wasn’t even for sale yet, and was several miles away at another marina. It was getting late and with the assumption that an Islander was automatically be out of our price range, we decided not to go check it out that evening, but agreed to meet him in the morning just to have a look. What else were we going to do while we were there.
The next morning, we met him at this other Marina. As we were walking to the dock I spotted my kryptonite, a boat with a good looking curved deck and a nice bowsprit. I pointed it out to Shannon just as a “hey look at that nice boat.” As we were admiring the nice lines, not at all thinking that it was the one we were there to look at, the broker hopped aboard, and started unlocking the cabin.
We pretty much knew then that this was exactly what we wanted. As we stepped aboard, and walked into the cabin it just began to solidify for us. This one felt right. It was spacious, and beautiful inside. Large pilothouse windows all around, large cockpit, tons of storage space. While we were touring, the broker got a call and walked away for a bit. Shannon and I just kept talked to each other and it was clear we were on the same page. The more we walked around and looked at everything, the more we wanted this boat.
Unfortunatly, its just not for sale yet. We talked to the broker, and while the owner is talking about selling, it certainly hasnt been decided yet. Even if he does sell, the price may be way more that we want to spend.
While driving home and the whole next day, we discussed all the boats, pros, cons, money, what we want. In the end we just couldn’t stop thinking about that Islander. So we emailed our broker, and essentially said we were very interested and to call us first when he talks to the owner (and have him subtly hint that he should sell it to us).
Now we wait, and hope.
We cant just sit around though, there are TONS more boats to look at. In-fact, we just got back from Kemah after looking at five more boats! But we will talk about them next time.
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 Delos, Follow 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.’
We 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….
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.
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.
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!
Day 3 of sailing began with the clouds moving in. We picked up our anchor and headed right for it.
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.
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.
See, 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.
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.
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.
Our boat for the first 2 days was a 26′ S80 and our skipper was John. We spent 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.
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!