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.

Aug 28, 2014

Buffalo and Crossing Lake Erie

Apparently NY State just wasn’t ready to let us go. When we made it to Buffalo at the end of the Erie Canal, we were hit with a thunderstorm, followed by several days of strong winds out of the West.

Aug 20, 2014

Chocolate Chip Rum Cookies

We've spent several yucky, windy, rainy days in Buffalo, NY. During these times I end up baking cookies. I like fluffy cookies, and I have a pretty awesome Chocolate Chip Rum Cookie Recipe here: