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Showing posts from 2014

Celebrate with Me!

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I've never been a very good example of anything, except perhaps being too stubborn to give up on an idea; too dumb to understand the odds stacked against me. The last week or so has been full of important anniversaries of how seven years of stubborn has actually worked out. I invite you to celebrate with me. Last December, I emailed a guy in Milwaukee about a boat he was selling. That boat turned out to be s/v Bella, now the love of my life. Bella and I are sailing south next summer.
Most of my adult life I've been dreaming of and working toward living on a boat. I actually did for a while in Sarasota. I found a boat and quit my last “career” job in April 2007 and set to work pursuing my dream in earnest. That boat was quite a project and like an old house, for every project I got started I found three more that needed done. I kept slogging along but my dream was about sailing not about perpetual boatwork.
Last August I had a long, heart-opening discussion with a friend. A…

The Non-Plan Plan

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Many people are curious about my plans. Some of my closest family and friends might be a little concerned too. I thought I would write a few ideas down to explain my non-plan. Please use the comments section below to ask any other questions you might have. I am wide open to constructive dialogue, but I will not necessarily defend or explain my particular choices ad infinitum. This is a lifestyle choice that is out of the mainstream; not only do I accept that, I revel in it. Further, I may not be able to explain my plans in words that everyone will understand. This is not my problem, it is theirs.
There are a few things that I want to do to Bella in the spring. I will be making a dodger and possibly a bimini. There are some organization and preparation details to take care of. The interior cushions could be reupholstered. I need to make some decisions about batteries, solar and wind power generation and the inboard diesel. There is a slightly better than even chance that I will pull…

Reunion Cruises

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… and suddenly it's October.
Bella is out of the water for the winter and I am back on the road. My main job now is saving boat money for next summer. Perhaps I can get caught up on my writing as well.
August was a month of reunions. My brother, Tim, and his family were visiting the States from Switzerland. Tim's and my schedules lined up so that we could go sailing. I hope to get the rest of the family out when they return next year. Part of the old family crew [see below] was back together and we had a great day of sailing. Even Bella was enjoying herself in a brisk breeze and plenty of sunshine. I think that was the day I lost a hat.
A few days later, my crew from the lake crossing came out for another sail. Dave and I had a nice sail and we took Bella out on the big lake. It was the first time that I had her on Lake Michigan since Dave and I crossed from Milwaukee, so it was a double reunion of sorts.
Bella was back in her element out on the big lake and the wind …

The Lake Crossing, Part Three

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This is third of three posts. Find the first and the second.

Last I was telling the story, I thought I saw snow. The first week of June, Dave and I were sailing across Lake Michigan bringing my boat, s/v Bella, home from Milwaukee where I had found her. It was very cold. The Mid Lake Buoy had reported 39 degree water temperature midday Tuesday. We left that afternoon and sailed all night into Wednesday morning. After dark, I had occasionally shined a flashlight at the wind vane on top of the mast. Somewhere around 3:00a, I saw little flaky things blowing across the beam of light. I didn't need to see that.

By 5:00a or so, I figured that we were well across the northbound shipping lanes. We could rest easy that freighters were unlikely for the rest of the trip. About that time, I saw another sailboat. It was five or ten miles away, motoring south and west, a white hull and bare mast like a ghost in the moonlight. Put some damn sail up, I thought to myself. It was a beautiful nigh…

The Lake Crossing, Part Two

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This is the second of three posts. Find the first and the third.

West Michigan is blessed with sunsets at the lakeshore. The population here is thick with sunset addicts. Actually people come from all over to savor the moments when the sun sizzles into the western horizon and splashes its colors across the clouds and sky. These sunset fans will all know the icy blue color the lake often gets in the fading light of the day. On our trip across the lake, as the sun flared orange and red over Lake Michigan, I was surrounded as far as I could see in every direction by that shimmering, living topaz blue.

I really should have woke my crew, Dave, to see the sunset. We had done the first six hours together and were going to split the rest of the night in three hour watches. I had let Dave take the first break. As the sun slid toward the horizon and the premature moon came out, I revelled in the fact that I was sailing my
own boat across Lake Michigan. It was glorious. In all my days and day…

The Lake Crossing - First Installment

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This is the first of three posts, find the second and the third

When we last left our hero, he was trapped by the fickle winds and roiling weather in a Milwaukee marina just wishing he could give a friend a daysail.
I was stuck at the marina because the starter on s/v Bella would not turn the engine over. Given my time constraints,  I decided to cross the lake without an engine. The one good thing about sitting on a boat with no engine wishing for better wind was that in just watching the weather, I had rehearsed many scenarios for sailing off the dock and out the pass into the lake. 
Dave, my crew for the lake crossing, was as excited as I was to do some serious sailing. When I called to explain my decision to sail without an engine, Dave was still gung-ho. If I had broken the mast off and proposed sailing across the lake with a jib strung sideways on the jagged stump, I'm not so sure that Dave wouldn't have been up for that too.
I had been tempted to try to beat Sunday…

Bella Gets Wet

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Once I decided to leave the starter issue to later, I went to work on my other priorities. The mast went up, the rigging up and the boat was launched by the guys at Pier Milwaukee; a great boatyard. I had been calling around about getting a tow down to the McKinley Municipal Marina where I had reserved a slip. There is a dearth of tow boats in Milwaukee. I have tow insurance through Boat/US but their nearest franchise was in Kenosha, a good distance away. As a non-emergency tow I would responsible for half of the charges from Kenosha to me, the tow to the marina, and their trip back to Kenosha. Chris, the owner at Pier Milwaukee, suggested I talk to the boat next door. He had heard that they were going downriver to McKinley that evening.

When Bruce showed back up with his wife, son and dog along, it turned out that he was planning to piggyback on my appointment to get under the railroad bridge. Instead of following me through, I followed him because he agreed to tow me down to the m…

Greeting Bella

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I found Bella too soon in my plan. Without the help of my friend Nancy I wouldn't have been able to do the deal. Nancy is one of my oldest and dearest friends, so I was happy when we hatched a plan for her to give me a ride over to Milwaukee. She is important to the whole project and I wanted her there for the launch and to give her a ride on Bella. More on the lack of sailing later.
Back in April I ran over to Milwaukee to spend a long morning poking around Bella and doing some measurements. Mostly, I just wanted to spend some time with her again, but I did use the measurements to order a stove and some graphics for the stern. The logistics were easy when I was driving over and then back home again. It was more complicated when I needed to get to Milwaukee but then sail back to Michigan. Getting a ride solved that problem.
The rest of the plan got a little sideways. I planned spend a couple weeks in Milwaukee prior to Bella's launch. The first two weeks of June were to …

Meeting Bella

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As explained in a previous post, I didn't mean to find a boat so soon. But when I found s/v Bella on the Milwaukee Craigslist, she sounded too good to be true, but after talking to the owner for a while on the phone, she sounded more true than too good. I had to see her.

On a random Thursday last December, I was home for a couple days from my truck driving and arranged to meet the owner in Milwaukee on his lunch hour. It was 11 degrees in Hudsonville when I woke, 3 degrees in Milwaukee. By the time I drove through Chicago and around the lake to Milwaukee, it managed to get to 11 or 12 degrees there.

It was love at first sight. I struggled to not try and buy her right then. Bottom paint is made to wear off and most older used boats have a splotchy bottom as more paint was just splashed on. The previous owner (PO) was wet sanding the Bella's bottom paint every fall! From the water line down, she looked like a brand new boat.

Then looking up toward the deck, I saw double lifeli…

Rolling along with Rocks and Punches

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Our old friend, Sisyphus keeps rolling along.

It was a weird weekend for boat money - good and bad, I guess. Friday in North Carolina one of my molars decided to fall apart. Monday morning, I had to enter a new dentist unannounced and ask for help. My old dentist is not 'in network' under the dental insurance at the new job. But the people at Hudsonville Family Dentistry were great. Three hours in the chair and I am all fixed up, just waiting for a new crown to be made and installed. I walked right in to an opening created by a cancellation. Some of you have heard me say "I'd rather be lucky than good."

Also, this weekend I converted my blogs back to Blogger. As a humble traveller I don't need to be paying for cyberspace. My blogs are NOT super stars of the interwebs and the traffic really never justified having my own URLs. My writing and rambling site is back too. My zennish reflections blog has always been here on Blogger.

And I sent in paperwork for get…

I'm back ...

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Well, I've decided to return to Blogger as host for my ramblings. As I look to departing aboard Bella in June, 2015, I am taking a close look at how I want to spend my boat money. Renting cyberspace for my anemic, untraveled, yet untrammelled blogs never made sense, I suppose. I am but a humble traveller, I will act more like it. Cheers and stay tuned.