Harvey

I really don’t know what to say. Harvey was quite an adventure. There is still so much work to be done for so many people affected by the storm. I feel a bit guilty talking about how it affected us. We still don’t actually know the outcome yet.

We started watching Harvey early last week. At that time it was just a named tropical depression, but it was headed right for us on the Texas coast. I’ve really learned a lot about tropical storms and hurricanes since then. First, was what does it all mean? Tropical depression, tropical storm, hurricane, storm surge, dirty side, landfall, steering flows. All of this was fairly unknown to me a week ago. Now I feel a bit overwhelmed with all the information.

Living half a mile from the coast that was well in the range that Harvey could hit was not ideal to say the least. How much wind can a stabilized 22ft RV take? Should be bail north now? Should we ride it out? We didn’t have any of those answers so we sought out the best advice we could. The owner of out RV park apparently had lived there on the peninsula for 40 or so years, I assume he should have some good info. He was pretty confident, “it’s just another tropical storm, we get them all the time” and “we see 40-50mph winds off the coast frequently, you should be fine.” He also said “we built our house and the structure for the RV park to withstand 150mph winds.” I assume after Ike pretty much leveled the whole of Bolivar Peninsula in 2008 pretty much everything was rebuilt to take a beating.

After that conversation I felt quite a bit better, and was planing on sticking it out. It could be a lot of fun! I planned on filling out water tank for 400lbs of ballast and some good drinking water just in case the water went bad. Gather some food, charge everything up, and enjoy. Or, at least that’s what I thought. By mid afternoon Thursday, several other “permanent” RV residence started packing up. I went around and chatted with them. “We have sat out a few of these, but I think we’re leaving on this one” one said. “Yea, I lent my generator to a friend, and I don’t want to go without power for a few days, so were headed out. Our neighbors are arriving in a few hours to take their rig too” said another. It didn’t take much more convincing than that for me to reconsider. A quick chat with Shannon and it was clear we should probably go to. An hour and a half later we were all packed and ready to roll.

We had not made much of a plan, but about an hour north of us was Beaumont, TX. It looked far enough from the coast, and far enough north that it should be at least safer for us and the camper. We found an RV park and reserved our weekend to ride out the storm.

That respite didn’t last long. We were up pretty much all night glued to the TV watching Harvey make landfall. Many of the heavily affected areas were places we had recently been. Port Aransas, Rockport, Corpus Christi, Galveston. It was fairly surreal. As we watched, the predictions of the storm path started moving north.  With rain totals predicted to be 20″+ in many areas now including Beaumont, we started to worry again. I looked up flood plans in the area, and it was all bad, but according to the insurance ratings, were in in as good a spot as we could. Not that we were really able to move again anyway, the wind and rain had already begin, and I didn’t want to risk pulling the trailer in that weather. We spent the next day “battening down the hatches.” All the prep that I had planned in order to stay in Bolivar, I was doing now. Fill the water tank, charge everything, prep the food stores, etc. We filled the truck we gas and settled in for the long haul. We played several games of Lords of Waterdeep, and watched the Weather Channel until we couldn’t stay awake anymore.

Waking up to Tornado warnings is something I hadn’t planned on. We had finally had a few hours of restless sleep and both our phones started blaring “Tornado warning, find shelter immediately.” We trudged through the six inches or so of standing water that had already accumulated and joined many other residents of the RV park in the laundry room for shelter. Two more Flash Flood and Tornado warnings later, we decided to bail again. This time we left the trailer. Not that we could have taken it anyway with the weather, but as it is a good two feet off the ground, I figured a bit of flooding in the area and it should be ok.

We have some friends that live a few hours north near Little Rock Arkansas, so we headed there to spend the week working. For the first 3 hours of the drive it didn’t stop pouring rain. Many streets were already beginning to flood. All we could do was hope for the best. Somewhere on the road we got a message from one of the boat owners we had been talking too in Corpus Christi. At first thought, we both immediately assumed that the boat did not make it though the storm. Turns out it was the opposite. He told us he couldn’t sell the boat anymore, becasue he has to move aboard. Apparently his house in Port Aransas did not fair as well as the boat did.

We’ve been working and watching Harvey continue to drop record amounts of rain on Texas from safety here in Arkansas for the week now. We contacted the RV park Tuesday morning to check on things, but it sounded a bit hectic. Beaumont was almost completely flooded, as was the RV park. they had spent the last day moving trailers away from the lake and were not sure what more could be done. At the time, our trailer was safe, bit the rain was still falling. As of now we still don’t know if it survived the flood.

One month in

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.

The search has begun!

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.

An Endeavor 37:

A Nicholson 35:

And an Ericson 32.5:

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.

Pete: Traveling Adventure Dog Extraordinaire

 

Since Pete was adopted in 2005, he has had to make quite a few adjustments in his life. He was adopted in Birmingham, Alabama and has since lived in Arkansas, New Mexico, Colorado and now Texas. He has been able to camp and hike in the Ozarks of Arkansas, Wasatch Range of Utah and the Weminuche Wilderness of Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. He has jumped from rock to rock in the deserts of Southern Utah and forged his own path through freshly fallen snow in the mountains around Durango. He has canoed in Lake Vallecito north of Durango and he is currently learning how to navigate the crashing waves of the Texas Gulf. Through it all, he has been my trusty and steadfast sidekick.

Like most dogs, Pete has learned to roll with the punches and accept his current circumstances for what they are. He has learned to carry a pack with his food/water and swim across rivers when backpacking, jump from rock to rock when in the desert and to be the follower when he gets tired when snowshoeing. He learned that it is hard to say goodbye to his friends, Sumo, Alpe and Lopa. But he has also learned that, even though he doesn’t like car rides, he is going somewhere fun as long as his bed is in the back seat of the truck.

I am not saying that Pete isn’t concerned when there is a change in his routine. From the time that he was adopted, he has shown anxiety in one form or another. As a puppy, he tore up furniture and my favorite shoes when left alone. He eventually graduated from being disruptive to not eating when he was anxious. He has always been a grazer when he eats but would normally always finish off his daily rations by the end of the day. With his anxiety and health issues, his eating habits are more unpredictable these days and make it difficult to know when he needs to go to the bathroom. Eating and bathroom habits are the topics of a lot of conversations regarding Pete lately as well as breathing rates and overheating. Once his routine is settled for a few days, we all seem to relax and become regular again, pun intended.

In October of last year, 2016, we bought the camper trailer and Pete had to get used to our future home. We started selling/donating everything in the house in order to move into the camper and he started showing concern for what was happening around him. It helped when we moved his ‘camping’ bed into the trailer so that he could start making it his home too. It was also around that time that he was diagnosed with Idiopathic Vestibular Disease which caused him to lose his balance and his eyes rapidly moved from side to side. Luckily he started eating solid foods again after a week but was left with head tilt and wobbly back legs. Throughout this health scare it was also determined that his heart was significantly enlarged and that his previously diagnosed heart murmur was more pronounced. He was put on an Ace-Inhibitor and a Diuretic in order to make him more comfortable if everything started to go sour. All of this made us consider his health and quality of life as we moved forward with our travel plans. Ultimately, we decided that if Pete is healthy and able, he will continue adventuring with us.

On July 1st, we threw Pete’s big comfy bed in the truck, attached to our camper trailer, waived goodbye to Durango and began meandering our way to the coast. He really liked stopping at Mom and Jack’s Square Dot Ranch for a few days. He got to play with the cows and inspect a new calf while relaxing in the garden and flower beds. While Justin and I flew off to his brother’s wedding, Pete got to spend a long weekend with my sister, her two man children, and their two dogs. While there he got to see some long lost friends and go for long walks. Once Justin and I were back at the Ranch, we threw Pete’s bed in the truck once again and headed south. Final stop: Crystal Beach, Bolivar Peninsula, Texas.

Now that we have been at Crystal Beach for 2 weeks, Pete seems to be adjusting well. We just had a Vet appointment saying that he hasn’t progressed beyond where things were prior to the move and that his medications are doing more good than harm. We are all learning how to keep him cool when it is supper hot and humid outside. He is getting more and more used to playing in the water as it rushes up on the beach but is still not a big fan of the waves when they crash onto his face. Since he gets a bit overheated on walks in the sun and heat, he will soon be decked out in a life vest so that he can stay cool when exercising in the rolling waves.

Moving forward, I know that I can’t imagine this adventure without Pete. I also know that Pete would do anything to go on adventures with us, even if his old body is tired and worn out. But as long as the fates allow, I will have a nice comfortable bed ready for him.

Buying a Travel Trailer, AKA Sailboat Practice

Hey, we’ve had a few mimosas this morning, lets offer half what they are asking. Whats the worst that could happen? That’s how we bought our RV.

A few months earlier Shannon and I were still working out our plans to move to the coast and start our boat search. where we would live in that time was a big question, and we just figured we would have to rent an apartment or something wherever we decided to go. Having to rent a place, for probably a thousand dollars a month or more and sign some sort of longer term lease was not an ideal situation. We wanted to be able to move quickly if we didn’t find any boats, or move onto the boat if we found one.

I was out for a run one day (where I do most of my good planning) and ran by the local RV dealer. Something struck me, and it stuck with me the rest of the way home. Doing the math (which is most of what I think about while running), I figured if we could buy a used trailer for five or six thousand dollars, that would be just as much as six months renting, and we would have complete flexibility as to where and when we go! The search for an RV began.

The search began as many others do, Craigslist. We quickly found that not only was it possible to get a decent RV for the price we want, but there were several to chose from. Knowing nothing, we just started calling people to try and look at some. This was nearly a complete failure. Apparently the market for used RV’s is such that they sell almost immediately. Every call or email we made, no matter how soon after the post was put up, we we already 2nd or 3rd in line.

Just so we could actually start looking at some we went to the RV dealer that I had passed to originally come up with the idea. We knew most RV’s at the dealer would be WAY over our price range, even the used ones, we just wanted to have a look at what kind of things we should be looking for. After looking at a few, we found one that just connected with is in the right way. Out of curiosity we asked the price. $14,900. Um no, we immediately went back to craigslist.

After several more failed craigslist attempts, we were starting to lose faith in the idea. So while sitting at the bar for breakfast, with our mimosas in hand we decided to just make a low-ball offer for the trailer at the dealer. We walked in with confidence, and offered $7000 in cash (less than half the listing price). To our surprise they didn’t laugh, and a bit of skillful negotiating and some signatures later, we pulled away with our new to us RV.

That very night, we tossed in some camping gear and towed it up to Lake Vallecito for our first excursion in our yet to be named trailer. We discovered many things that trip, how small it was, how not to use the toilet, how to lock ourselves out, and that we needed our own hoses to connect to the water. One advantage was that usually when you buy an RV from a dealer, they want to keep it for a day or two to do a delivery inspection. We were so eager to take it that we didn’t let them do that. but we discovered what worked and didn’t, things like certain lights, tanks sensors, the heater acted weird, and the A/C didn’t work at all. We brought it back the next day and they fixed all of it, $900 worth of work all for free claiming they would have found and fixed those things. I doubt they would have found all of those things as it took several hours of heat running to discover its issues. For more details on the camper itself, check this page, Serenity (our Travel Trailer RV)

We got it back from the the dealer in nearly perfect working order. So I geeked out and promptly began replacing, upgrading, and tearing everything apart. Power is going to be a big issue on the sailboat, and RV power systems are nearly identical to sailboat systems. The trailer has a single 12v battery to power most systems, so I want to know how long that will last. First thing I installed was a battery monitor and live usage gauge. I then spent days testing every light, every pump, every circuit, and fully charging and draining the battery over and over again to determine exactly what everything uses. I found that one of the bigger drains was simply the old incandescent lights. With every light on it was pulling almost 500 watts and about 5 amps, at that rate the lights alone would drain the battery in less than 17 hours of use. I knew replacing with LED’s would significant reduce that power, so on the first of many trips to the RV parts store I found that a pack of 2 LED’s was almost $30! There are 28 lights to replace, so that wasn’t going to work. A quick trip to my local computer found that I could buy a 30 pack of the exact same LED’s for $45, no brainier there. After I installed the lights, I tested again to find that all lit up, it uses ~20 watts total, and just over an amp. Power for lighting was no longer an issue.

Shannon and I live and work on the internet, so upgrade number two was to fully network the trailer. Most RV parks (and future Marinas) have some sort of provided Wifi. For security, I don’t want to be on the same network as everyone else, nor do I want to update all 15 Wifi devices at every stop, so I picked up a Ubiquity Access Point, and configured a separate secure and encrypted internal WiFi for all my devices.

The bonus of all of this? Most, if not all of the upgrades to network and power systems are fully transferable to the boat with we get one!

Speaking of getting a boat, stay tuned for news on that too, we spent all last weekend touring boats down in Corpus Christi.

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.’

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.

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….

Screenshot_20160604-175637

 

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.

DSCN2465DSCN2461cave openingDSCN2477

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.

pano

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!