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.

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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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

Gangnam 360° Style

Lots of what we did in Korea involved just wandering around and seeing where things would take us. Our afternoon wandering around Gangnam was a perfect example of that. Our mission of the morning was to go to the Samsung Building and buy this 360° camera (cant seem to get them in the US yet, and it was a LOT cheaper there). With that mission obviously successful, we had a few hours to wait for the rest of the family so we did some wondering. I really think this camera captures quite a bit of the experience. There’s always a lot going on in every direction there in Seoul.

Ko Hong 360 Video

We have made it back home, and have started to decompress from the trip.

I have completed what is to be the first of MANY 360 Videos from the trip.  Its a tour around Ko Hong, an island in Phang Nga bay Thailand. This was our first night on the sailboat, and our guide took us on a diny through a cave to the interior of the island. We had no idea what to expect and were blown away.

And this is just the beginning!