Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Sticking to a Good Plan

I was on a night watch as we jumped from Charleston to Jacksonville; avoiding the shallow Georgia ICW. The full moon hung over the horizon like an old silver coin. The moonlight shattered against the Atlantic and glistened across the waves like a trail of mirror shards. It was holy and sublime. I was smitten.

It had been building inside me for the whole trip. I had been impressed with the boat’s construction as I helped Alex with the final preparations and launch of Eleanor. We were sailing her from Stony Point, NY on the Hudson River down the East Coast to Fort Pierce, Florida. This was actually my second night watch offshore guiding Eleanor, a Westsail 42, as she sailed with confidence and comfort. As she gently made her way across the sea, all I really had to do was mind the autopilot. I decided I never wanted another boat. I had to find a Westsail of my own.

With a little more patience, financial and otherwise, I could be sailing already. Yet instead of already hanging out in the Bahamas, or wandering the Chesapeake, I have a couple years of boatwork ahead of me … again. All because of that life-changing trip aboard Eleanor. So like any other heartsick fool, I've made some rash decisions to get what I want. If my life with this boat is a poker game, I'm all in. This is, however, the way to get it done. I am living the exact life that I want to live. Everything, absolutely everything, is contingent on getting Emma to sea. There is no longer any room for things I don't need or want. Beside that as philosophy, my new home is a floating ellipse, just 32 by 11 feet.

After some searching, I found a Westsail 32 that I could afford. That meant that I found one that needed a lot of work. The owner then had supposedly bought the boat from a young vagabond. The boat, a work in progress, had been swinging from one of the better mooring locations at the Coconut Grove Sailing Club. The club is kind of swanky. He called it a “drinking club with a sailing problem.” However, my impression
was that the club considered the boat an eyesore and wanted the Westsail out of their mooring field. I met the owner just at the right moment when he was fed up with the Westsail project, had found another boat, and just wanted to get rid of her.

I told the story before but someone put a link to the Miami Craigslist on the Westsail Facebook page. The short version is that I got a Westsail 32 for $6000 floating on a mooring in Miami. W32's, polished and painted, have been selling for over $20,000; some for much more depending on how they are equipped.  Essentially, I bought the hull; anything else that works is gravy. Well … and she has no engine.

I could have waited a little longer, saved more money, and bought a boat that seemed more ready. The truth of the matter is that I will never be able to buy a new boat or even a recent one. Therefore, no matter what older used boat I bought, I would inherit a certain number of problems and things that needed fixed. I have a lot of work to do on my Westsail, but I am starting with a  rock solid hull of a proven design; no compromise. When I am finished with the Emma's refit, I will know her intimately and will have personally fixed or replaced everything necessary for safe voyaging. The Westsail 32, like the WS28 and WS42, is a proven ocean capable ship that has been sailed all over and indeed around the world.

So, I could have done it differently, but I am doing it the best way I know. I have the boat and the plan and I'm living the dream. All it takes is sticking to a good plan; see the next post. Thanks.


  1. "So, I could have done it differently, but I am doing it the best way I know." << Isn't that the story of everyone's life?

    1. While I don't think its the story of everone's life, I do think it is for most. However, with all the unhappiness in the world, I don't think many people actually realize it. It was a happy discovery for me and I think there would be more contentment in the world if more people were able to realize this simple truth.

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