Jul 16, 2016

Anchored out by Arch Rock for swimming

One night we ended up taking a walk. Wayne wanted to walk to Arch Rock. I thought the idea was crazy because it was late and within about 3 minutes of walking the boys were complaining of being tired and LeeAnn and I had snapped at each other.

Despite the hardships, we continued on! I'm glad we did. Once we reached the top of an incredibly steep hill, the terrain leveled out and we entered the shade of the woods. It was a beautiful path, and no bugs!

When we got to the arch, we saw a boat anchored out with people swimming and we thought "well that looks fun, let's do it tomorrow!" And so we did:

Arch Rock

Jul 13, 2016

Mackinaw Island

Trip is going good! The distance was about 200 nautical miles and took around 36 hours, pretty good time. Good weather the whole way. We had a few thunderstorms in the distance, and got a little rain, but nothing major. We really lucked out with the weather. Storms all around but everyone passed just ahead or just behind us.  
Sunset our first night.
Wayne thinks it's "that way" to Mackinaw Island.

Mapping out our adventure with the boys.


Arrgh! Pirates!

Cool dude


I've never crossed under the bridge at night before. It was exciting and terrifying at the same time. We all sat on the cabin top and stared up. It was pure dark everywhere except the bridge and we were flying with the autopilot steering the boat. I remember thinking "I hope we don't crash into anything while we stare up at the bridge!"
Crossing under the bridge!

After the bridge, it got really really wavey and windy. Our starboard engine refused to start, so that dialed up the tension. I think the starter battery is failing. Or I had just drained it by leaving the start battery circuit open while the inverter was running. I started up our generator for 5 or 10 minutes to charge it, and then the engine fired up.
We arrived at the harbor, 1:30 am Tuesday morning. It was super dark. No moon or anything. I knew boats anchored out in the harbor so I was watching for them while trying to remember how to get into the marina. I had called ahead earlier in the day and thought I knew where our slip was from the last time we stayed here. I very slowly pulled us into the marina, not wanting to end up in a tight spot where I would have to turn the boat around in the dark.
We found the slip and docked with out a problem. We were super pumped up with adrenaline and excitement for having made it to the island. It was me and my friend Wayne. LeeAnn and the boys were sleeping. We tied off the boat and went for a walk on the main street. It was the fewest people I ever saw on the main street. The only people out were drunk people on bikes and third shifters who were hosing down and scrubbing the streets. I had to laugh about that. I imagined a conversation:

"what do you do?"
"I clean horse poop at night on Mackinaw Island."

Who are these people? How does someone get that job? We headed back to the boat and struggled to fall asleep.
The next day I woke up pretty early. Checked my work email and sent a few "good morning" messages to co-workers. By the time everyone else was up and ready to go, I was too. We started walking with out a destination. We came to the end of town and kept going. Not much further down the road we found "Mackinaw Island Public school" which had an awesome playground. We let the kids play there for a while. It was good for them to run and stretch their legs after being cramped up on the boat for 36 hours. We had a great view of Lake Huron and Mackinaw Bridge. We wondered what it must be like to be a kid on this island, to go to this school and have this view during recess.

View from the boat.

We left the playground and walked back to the boat for food. Later LeeAnn and Charlie went for a walk on their own. Wayne and I took the boats out in the harbor on the dinghy to go swimming. Then Wayne and his son Nash went for a walk on the island. I set Hobie up with a show. I checked in with work, and then just sat down and relaxed. Had a beer and enjoyed the view of the Island. People riding by on bikes, horse drawn carriages, and above it the fort.
Everyone returned. We had hamburgers for dinner. By the time we were done eating the tourist were taking the last of the ferries back to the mainland. The streets were clearing out. We took a walk up to arch rock. Everyone was tired, and I thought Wayne and LeeAnn were crazy for wanting to even attempt it.
We got to the top of steep ass hill, things flattened out. The path went past the fort and ran through sprinklers to cool off. Then the path went into the shade of the woods. It was perfect. No people, shady, and no bugs. It was a nice walk to Arch rock, and when we got there, it was worth it. The Arch was amazing and so was the view. We walked back to the town and got ice cream and fudge. Then back to the boat.

Coffee shop this morning where I'm doing a little work and writing this blog post!

Jun 17, 2016

Woohoo! First weekend on the boat!

Great weekend! It was REALLY COOL to have Charlie on the boat now that he is so much bigger and more mobile. Charlie loves hanging out on the back deck area. It's a nice flat area that he can't escape from, so it makes for a perfectly built in play pen!

The boat was pretty dirty. It's amazing how dirty boats get during the winter. There was a bunch of dirt that had accumulated in the scuppers of the deck that Charlie was having a ball playing in. I called it his "sandbox".

Later in the weekend Hobie and I washed the back of the boat. It looked 100 times better and Charlie didn't get so dirty while crawling around.

I don't know why, but Charlie has a self-destructive urge to play on the stairs inside the cabin, so we put up some lifeline netting to block the stairways.

At first I thought I was going to have to drill some holes to permanently install these retractable baby gates we bought. Unfortunately there isn't a really good place to put the baby gates. The only flat wall space to attach the gate would have been over the stairs, so Charlie could have gotten onto the first step and slipped under the gate.

There is a piece of trim that is screwed in all around the opening to the stairs. The screws are over an inch long (thank you Lagoon for the overkill), so I screw threw the thicker edge piece of the lifeline netting to attach it around the boarder of the stairs.

It worked pretty good, aside from being permanent. So I rigged up a weird pulley system so we can fairly quickly take it up and down to get through. It's not pretty, but overall it works pretty good, and we only have to live with it this summer. Next summer Charlie will be 2 and smart enough to avoid the stairs.

Anyway. It was GREAT to get the baby gates up. We could then put Charlie down and let him roam freely from the cabin to the deck. It made being on the boat with him way more relaxing.

May 23, 2016

Want to talk sailing away? Call me (231) 224-6775

The idea of taking off, however you want to do it, is scary.

Many people won't understand it, and may even try to hold you back.

If you have questions, or just want someone to bounce a few ideas off of, feel free to give me a call at (231) 224-6775



May 12, 2016

Money on my mind

I want to go cruising again. I need money to do that.

We've paid off all our debt. That is a BIG step in the right direction.

Now I just need to figure out how to cover our day to day living expenses.

I've been primarily considering two areas of investment. The stock market, and real estate.

The Stock Market:
I've done a ton of research on the stock market. I've been investing small amounts of money since I was 18, and I've been pretty successful. However, in the long run no one beats the market. And the average market return for the last 100 years is just over 6% (annualized and inflation adjusted). That's okay. But it doesn't make me jump for joy. The other problem is that it doesn't pay out much. A whopping 3% dividend is considering "high" doesn't even come close to a live-able income. At least not with the amount of money I have to invest.

My take away is that the stock market is a great place to park money, and let it grow for a long time. Not a good way to generate cashflow. 

Real Estate:
I'm way more intrigued by rental properties. I've been reading up on it for about 6 months. My take away is that A LOT of people get burnt by real estate. So I started trying to learn from people who have been successful.  Specifically with rental properties.

The returns on single family properties are around 2,000-3,000 dollars per year. I'd need to own a lot of them. At least 20 houses to get an after tax return around 40k per year.

Multi-family units have a better rate of return (mathematically), but I haven't found anyone who successfully owns them yet.

I've heard great things about storage units. I seriously looked at one that was 230k. But after the mortgage payments and other expenses, the pre-tax profit was around $11k for the best case scenario, and that seemed like a really shitty return to me, so I walked away from that deal.

Online Business:
No matter what I invest in, I don't have nearly enough money saved up to generate enough income to live on. Not even close. So I'm also looking at starting an online business.

Of course I have my job and that could possibly turn into a telecommuting position. But I'm not 100% sure about that, so I don't want to rely on it completely.

Mar 2, 2016

Young Sailors

The plan has always been to go sailing again. But I can tell it's going to be a lot harder this time around.

We own a house now, and we very quickly filled it with stuff. Very "important" stuff that I have a hard time thinking about parting with. I don't know how this happened, but it did.

That damn camping gear we never use but we might some day so I hang on to it.

We will need to do something with the house itself. We don't want to sell it, so will end up renting it.

I have my job. When I was younger, it was easy to quit whatever shitty job I had because I could always get a new shitty job. Now I have a really great job. I really like my job.

It feels reckless to throw that away, but in the end I will, because I don't want to look back on my life and say "well I'm dying, but it's okay because I had a really great job."

Taking kids sailing is more complicated than I thought it would be. I always thought it was a given that my kids would love sailing.

Well, Hobie is a really energetic kid. And sailing involves a lot of extended periods of being trapped on a boat. Like when traveling to a far away place. Or when it rains for several days in a row. Fortunately Hobie also really likes reading, and of course TV. So I think it will work out just fine.

None of these challenges are insurmountable. It's just harder than I thought it would be. If I didn't have the previous experience of living on a boat, I can see how we would be too scared to do it. I can see why people wait until they retire, and I understand a lot better now why people said we were "smart for going while you're young".

Sep 1, 2015

Summer Sailing

I don't get out on the boat enough by myself. Today the stars aligned, and I was able to enjoy some much needed alone time on the water. We spent a lot of time taking people out on the boat this summer, which is a lot of fun, but it doesn't allow much time for me to learn how this (still new to us) boat sails.

So today I practiced singled handed tacking. I almost always single hand the boat, even when we have guests, but I wanted to perfect it into a clean, dependable tack.

Unlike a monohull, it's a pretty good walk to the other side of the cat to release or haul in a line (about 20 feet). Today I found that I can put the wheel hard over, release the jib sheet, reset it on the opposite side, and make it back to the helm to steer into whatever point of sail I'm after. By the end of the day I could do this casually with time to spare, and I added unjamming the boom traveler as part of the process (it almost always gets hung up).

I was feeling pretty good as I made my way back towards the marina, then the water temp alarm went off on the port engine. I cut the engine and considered my options: docking with the one remaining engine, going to a temporary dock, anchoring in the channel. I decided to be salty by letting out a bit of the jib and sailing my way back out to more open water.

I was hoping the wind would catch the jib and help spin the boat around. Unfortunately the wind had already blown me towards the left side of the channel, and I would need to turn to port to come about, this would put me even further out of the channel. I considered a 3-point back up maneuver, turning the wheel to starboard to assist bringing the bow around, but a channel marker prevented any attempt at that. By the time I had avoided the marker, I was even further out of the channel.

With no time to check the charts for depth outside the channel, I decided to play it safe and drop the anchor. Fortunately I had flipped on the anchor windless before leaving the dock, in preparation of this exact kind of worst case scenario. 

The anchor didn't set well, but it set enough to give me time to check out the problem. It was a broken drive belt. It took about 5 minutes to fix and I was back on my way again. I've never had a marine engine with any kind of belt before, changing them before failure is obviously preferable. I was lucky it failed when it did, rather than fail in the middle of docking or in a place I couldn't have dropped the anchor (like inside the marina).

I also started to learn to balance the sails so the boat would maintain a heading without the autopilot. This worked best on a close reach or close haul.

Jan 12, 2015

Sailing Lake Huron

Sailing from Lake St. Clair to Mackinaw Island in Lake Huron. With no wind we ended up motoring to Port Sanilac, then picked up a nice breeze and sailed to Alpena. We waited out a week of bad weather in Alpena then rode a following wind overnight to Mackinaw Island.