May 29, 2017

Turn this way?

I've been going to work on the boat every day. It's been a little hard being away from LeeAnn and the boys. By the time I get home for dinner I can tell that everyone is a little on edge. Hobie craves attention and life just goes better when there are two parents around to give it to him.

So for two days we tried packing everyone up and heading to the boat together. This was not very productive, but it was a lot of fun! We packed a cooler of food, brought some games and toys for the boys. 

Charlie was only 1 last year so he probably didn't remember the boat. He isn't talking much yet, but we could clearly understand him as he walked around saying "like boat, like boat." We walked him around the boat, helping him with the three steps down into the hull where he and Hobie will sleep. 

We walked him around the outside of the boat. Despite this tour, he later took a step into the cockpit, expecting it to be a "normal"step distance, and realized mid-fall that it was a much higher step. He landed fairly softly on the giant foam alphabet letters strewn about the cockpit floor and said "Whoa!!" 

Later, Hobie rushed on deck to climb in through the hatch he opened in high room. As dove for the hatch, he bumped his leg on a low ledge. He was not as lucky as Charlie, hitting the hard corner hard with his shin. He held it crying, and refused to let anyone look. Fortunately it ended up being short-lived pain that didn't stop him from returning to his mission of climbing through his bedroom hatch. 

He lowered in his bottom half, and became too scared to let the rest of his body drop. Yelling for help, scared to make the transition from dangling to hanging. We encouraged him to "keep going!" He managed to lower himself another few inches and found that he could stand up. He has grown a lot since last summer. Now when he stands on his bed his head brushes against the cabin top. 

When LeeAnn laid down with Charlie for a nap, Hobie and I put the lifelines back up. I take the lifelines apart each winter so they aren't damaged when the boat is shrink wrapped. Hobie helped me put in the fasteners that keep the lifelines in place. I sat watching him, not worrying about a lack of time.

"Turn this way?" 
"No, the other way buddy, take you time, no rush."

The boat feels much safer with the lifelines back in place. The rules are that kids aren't allowed out of the cockpit without an adult, but kids don't always follow the rules. With the lifelines back in place, I actually let Hobie explore the decks on his own a little bit, and he did very well. Of course, what Hobie does, Charlie does. So I'm not sure how we will work that out.

I can see how much easier it would be to wait to move aboard until the kids were a little older. They would be so much more capable. That being said, the owner of the boat next to us says "go when they are young, my kids aren't interested in sailing anymore." 

His dream of cruising with his family was never realized and he encourages us with a hint of sadness in his eyes. Doug (the boat neighbor) is a super nice guy. He lives a few hours away and drive to Muskegon for the boating. He bought me a delicious barbecue sandwich the day I met him and said "you aren't anything without your strength." 

Doug owns a monster Irwin 52 Ketch that reminded me of our old Privateer 35. A beautiful boat, but in need of some cosmetic work. The inside was undergoing some saw-zaw level renovations, and I was a little jealous of his ability to just cut into his boat. Doug is super friendly, hospitable, but the handgun sitting casually on a shelf gave the impression of some sharp edges to his personality. 

Overall boat progress is going slow but good. Port head plumbing is almost all complete. Just waiting on West Marine to get in more 1.5" hose. Sanded down my sail drive for repaint. The table to bed conversion is currently at a stand still. I need to do a little more research into which table pedestal will be best. Ideally I'd like to find an air assisted pedestal to make raising and lowering the table as easy as possible. 

When I removed the plates surrounding the sail drives today, water started pouring out of the screw holes. This is alarming, however I checked with some other Lagoon 380 owners and found it's not completely unheard of. I'm going to look further into it, and most likely fill the screw hole with some 5200 sealant before the boat goes back in the water. 

May 22, 2017

Sailing to the Florida Keys

We've been getting a lot of questions from friends and family about what we are up to. So here's a summary, and answers to some common questions:

Where are we going?
We are moving aboard our boat and setting sail for the Florida Keys where we will spend the winter of 2017. We are tentatively heading for Stock Island, where the plan is to get a dock and hang out for the winter.

When are we leaving?
The current timeline is:

May - Fix up the house and sell stuff
June - Prepare Boat for living aboard
July - Launch boat, move aboard, have a mega yard sale of remaining possessions.
August - Settle into a routine on boat.
September - CAST OFF!

What route are we taking?
In 2007 we sailed down the East Coast. This time around we're taking a series of rivers from Chicago to the Gulf of Mexico:

Illinois River - 334 miles
Upper Mississippi River - 219 miles
Ohio River - 46 miles
Cumberland River - 33 miles
Tennessee River - 215 miles
Tennessee-Tombigbee Canal to Mobile Bay - 234 miles

Total distance ≈ 1,081 miles.

The image below shows all the connected waterways as a solid black line:

How long does it take to get from Chicago to Mobile by boat?
If we travel an average of 25 miles a day, it will take us 43 "traveling days" to get to the gulf. Some days we won't travel because of bad weather or we will want to explore a town.

25 miles a day is only 5 hours a day, less when the current is going with us. So even though we won't be traveling everyday, 43 days is probably a pretty good estimate.

We're planning on it taking about 3 months to get to the Florida Keys.

What about bridges?
We will drop the mast in Chicago and have it trucked to the gulf.

Are we selling our house?
No. We are renting it. We've hired a recommended property management company who will handle everything while we are away.

What about the company/your job?
I sold LongerDays in the spring of 2016. I had a 1-year employment contract that expired in the spring of 2017.

What will we do for money?
Aside from rental income, I'm not entirely sure. Right now I'm like a leaf on the wind, hoping for a soft landing.

How long are we going to be gone for:
For as long as it's fun! Probably several years. However, expect to see us in town around Christmas and/or summertime.

Are we keeping the cats?
Between the kids and the cats, we decided to keep the kids. We found a really nice home for the cats, where they will be going to live at the end of May. Hobie loves our cats, and he wants to bring them with. We told him cats don't like water, so it isn't fair to bring them on the boat.

When we told him about a nice lady we met who was sad because her cat died, he said "maybe she could watch our cats when we live on the boat."

LeeAnn and I looked at each other like "well that was easy."

We're still really careful when talking to him about the cats. Here are the reasons we decided not to bring them:

- There isn't an out of the way place to put the kitty litter box.
- Grocery shopping when traveling on a boat means walking to the store, and then walking back carrying everything you buy, plus two kids. I'm not sure we can, or want to add kitty litter and cat food to the load.

How are you going to keep the kids safe?
We get this one a lot. It's kind of amazing how "unfamiliar" is so easily turned into "unsafe." The idea that our kids are safe at home in Muskegon is an illusion. We will keep our kids safe on the boat the same way we keep them safe at home.

At home:
- When the kids go outside to ride bikes, they where helmets.
- They're not allowed to play in the street.
- In the car we wear seat belts.
- We have child locks on cabinets
- Baby gates in front of the stairs.

On the boat:
- When the kids go on deck they wear life jackets.
- We have 24" tall lifelines with netting around the perimeter of the boat.
- The cabinets have locks on them.
- Charlie's room has a baby get to keep him from getting up and wandering around at night.
- etc.

There is danger everywhere, the best we can do is create boundaries, rules, and keep a close eye.

Are you planning to homeschool the kids?
Maybe! Hobie won't be "school age" for school for another 1.5 years, but we're already laying the homeschool foundation just in case. We feel very fortunate to be able to have both parents available to take an active role in our children's education!

Aren't you worried about socialization for the kids?
If we were sailing non-stop around the world I might be worried about socialization. But we are taking well worn paths traveled by thousands of boaters every year. "Boat kids" aren't all that uncommon, and we've found cruising family's tend to gravitate toward each other.

Plus if you think about it, school is about the only time in your life when you are with people who are the same general age, race, and socioeconomic background. Why is that so great for socializing? Why shouldn't kids learn to relate and talk to people of all ages and backgrounds?

Granted, there is something to be said for steady friendships with people your own age. So I am worried about that. We will just have to work it out as we go along.