24 hours with Nymeria

Its official, we are boat owners. Shannon and I took delivery of Nymeria on Friday and got to spend the day really getting to know her. It wasn’t an easy road to get here. It started back in July when we arrived here in Texas. After a few weeks the boat search really got going. Finally in October, after many boats toured, we found the right one. After making an offer, and taking her out for a survey and sea trial, the real test began.

It seems the hardest part of all this was actually moving the money from one account to another. Seems like such a simple task, but it we actually had to travel back in time before the internet in order to make it happen. Several phone calls, 8 hours of driving between post offices and banks, one  lost transfer check direct from the bank, and an overnight mail of “temporary” checks, I was finally able to get everything deposited in one place.  Only to have Wells Fargo question the final wire transfer, then finally agree after some persuading only because I have been an account holder since 1985. “That would be one hell of a long con” they said.

After the most stressful week I think I’ve ever had, we finally hopped aboard and moved her to our new slip at Waterford Harbor Marina. It had been over a year since our sailing courses in Thailand, and I had never actually docked anything larger than our friend Jeffs’ 22ft day sailor, so, trial by fire I guess. One lesson I remember clearly was “if your bowman isn’t bored, you are docking too fast” I took that to heart and several slow minuted later we tied up to slip 9-21.

Even before we pulled in completely, the friendliness of the sailing community started to show. The livaboard couple in the slip next to us came out to greet us and help with dock-lines. They happily listen to our story of getting there and offer congratulations and whatever advice we are in need of.

We needed to replace one of the old stern lines of the boat as it was rather old and frayed (even tied and held together by some tape) so we took off to our first official trip to West Marine (or my new toy store). They say its nearly impossible to get out of there without spending $200 on stuff. I can totally see why. “Yea, we need one of those”, “oh sure, that would be nice”, “that one light really needs replacing, so lets buy 7 and replace them all.” With an unbelievable amount of personal restraint, we walked out with a new line, one new light, and a fan. $197.95, we had done it!

Now the fun begins. The next several hours were spent folding ourselves in strange ways cleaning and testing everything we could. What pipes go where?How does this light turn on? WTF is this thing, and what does it do? Where are we going to put all our stuff? By the time the sun went down we were nasty and exhausted.

As we were finally getting ready to clean up and order a seemingly traditional first night in a new home pizza, that wonderful sailing community showed its worth again. As we walked down the dock, a couple came out and invited us to the Friday Marina Happy Hour. They meet every Friday at the pavilion and share stories and snacks. We had intended to just have our celebratory champagne and eat pizza on the boat alone, but why not be social? We ended up having way too much fun and had a few too many drinks and no real food while meeting the other owners. We finally ordered that pizza far too late and after stuffing our faces we took to our first night sleeping on the boat.

After a better night of sleep than I expected, we got up and prepared to take the boat to the shipyard for a haul-out and full bottom job. As we were getting ready, Shannon remarked “this should feel weirder.” I think I agree. For some reason things just felt OK, like we were supposed to be there.  Even our last few months in the RV never seemed too normal, just part of a vacation or something. Ill take it as a good sign.

One more week of RV living while we have the Nymeria worked on, then the adventure really begins!

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.

Robert Perry designs some great boats

How many boats have we looked at so far? I think I’ve lost count. If we are not running away from hurricanes, we have been on the road looking at more. Of the many we seen, one thing really stands out. Robert Perry has designed some great boats. You can almost tell, just by looking at the hull, and the sail plan, that he had his hands on it.

Every time we really like a boat and start doing more research, it always seems to be one of his. That first boat we truly loved, the Islander 38C was his design. We’re certainly not limiting our search, as there are a ton of great boats out there, but any time we see his name, the boat jumps up on our list.

Today we got to look at another great one, a Valiant 32. Only around 65 were ever made, and it has Perry designed written all over it. First thing to notice is its round canoe stern. It loses some cockpit space, but it more than makes up for it in looks. The cutter rig provides a sail plan for most every occasion, and this particular boat is well equipped with many choices of sails.

It’s not the largest boat inside, with only 10’5″ beam, it initially feels a bit cramped as you step aboard, but as you look around, its clearly designed with long passages in mind. There is storage everywhere. Every nook and cranny is utilized and feels planned. She has significant tankage, and carries 80 gallons of water, and nearly 50 gallons of fuel. Enough to take us pretty much anywhere we need to go even with no wind.

One item we’ve run into trouble with is the size of the v-berth and sleeping quarters. The last boat we really liked had a sleeping birth of only 5’11. That may be enough for Shannon, but it just a bit small for me. This boat does not have that issue, and we both fit nicely in the forward v-berth. It also has a decent rear quarter-birth and another in the salon that can make good sea berths.

There are several other perks of this boat that go beyond its design. She has a complete wind-vane autopilot, a large solar array with chargers and inverters, and even an auxiliary generator for all our power needs.

With so many things we liked about the boat it was tough to walk away. We headed down to the Kemah boardwalk to get some lunch and a beer to discuss. Two beers later we had decided.

We made an offer.

Lets see where this goes.

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.’