Saturday, February 28, 2009

Feeling Blue...

I'm kind of depressed today. The situation is becoming 'more Real'.

Although we have been following our budget, and I actually had money left over LAST week, the most recent paycheck was a short one. Micah called the other night and needs more money to pay to play baseball, and needs a calculator for class and college.

Al got his severance check, and word that his bonus is larger than expected. We should be feeling pretty good, right?

But I'm just feeling blue.....


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Today is THAT day...

One of what will become a few notable days as we move through this journey.

But today is THAT day, the one that followed THAT call...

Heading in to get my last paycheck, turn things in, etc. etc. . . . .


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Yes Virginia, I am a POWER boat (part 2)

Left this off with my rant that not all power boats are the same, just most of them. And my attempt to justify why Viking Star is different, and hence more suitable for this cruising thing. But still, Cruising? Come on, you got to have Sails - Everyone knows that.


Blue water sailing, no question. Sail is the way to go. If we were looking to cross the Pacific and round the world in a couple of years? Sail--hands down. Why? Well,
  • Fuel. Wind is mostly free, right?
  • Comfort. Sails and a Sail boats underway provide a level of stability that a Power boat is hard pressed to replicate. In fact, without some type of stabilization, either active fins or passive 'flopper stopper', a power boat will just beat the heck out of the crew. On a Sail boat you might be a bit tilted, but it is often at a more consistent tilt :-)
  • Storm safety. Laying a hull, knock downs, turning turtle. Because of their fundamental design, mono hull sail boats are much more likely to survive harsh conditions. (Not going to get into the Mono vs. Cat discussion here). It has, to be honest, as much to do with to intrinsic constraints imposed on a design by the nature of carrying sails: Ballast, need for low decks, etc. Power boats? People will focus on the glass of a typical power boat, fact is: Glass is the least of the worries: Few power boats could survive a knock down or roll over due to the construction of the deck house. Sorry, it is what it is.
  • Lower cost. Go to one of the bail-out points in the world--you know the places, where folks with dreams figure out it is not for them (ala Trinidad), and you can pick up a very capable already fitted out Blue Water Cruiser for $50,000 any day of the week. They are a dime a dozen. The few Power Boats who are designed as a World Cruiser? You would be hard pressed to get one for under $300,000. . .

So, if we were heading for Hawaii and beyond: Sail - no question here.

But we are not looking go round the world in a couple of years. We are looking to adopt a cruising lifestyle. I remember reading a book that surveyed cruisers and their lifestyle. It was folks on the ICW, but still interesting. One key take away: most folks stayed in one place, moving every 6 days, and when they DID move they were underway for 4 hours. Even if we look at the Blogs of cruisers not in the ICW, we see that they spend a LOT of time in one place. Hey, this is supposed to be relaxing, right?

So? Well, a Power Boat often has better accommodations then a sail boat. No 'Down in the Tube' feel, wider cabins, better visibility. Cats are an interesting trend, and many folks who are into them will also point to benefits like this as well. If I am at anchor for days in a row, I will guarantee I will be more comfortable in my Power Boat than a typical sail boat.

But what about all that Fuel burned? Well, go the prior post: Viking Star is rather fuel efficient. This shocks most boaters I meet (Power or Sail). So yes, Fuel is a cost, but it is manageable even at multi$ per gal. And ok: Lets talk about Sail Boats 'Dirty Little Secret': they actually spend a LOT of time under power.... a lot. Either the wind is the wrong direction, or the wrong strength, or folks just get impatient. Fact is, cruising sail boats break out the Iron Jib more than is talked about in polite company. And woe be the Sail Boater who dares to air the dirty laundry...

A Power Boat? Sure, why not. Well, at least why not one like Viking Star. She offers:

  • Great accommodations at anchor
  • Modest fuel usage
  • Safety during operation, docking, and anchoring.
  • Safety and comfort at sea (I do need to add Flopper Stoppers...)
  • Low cost (I paid a LOT less then $40,000 for her, and in fact a lot less than the asking price..)
  • Blue Water capability. (What? Well, yes! Get a copy of Robert Bebees 'Voyaging Under Power'. The original version, not the one rewritten as an advertisement for Nordhavns. See page 135/136, that is Viking Star's design.)

See, she can do all we want. She is a good choice for this usage, and will serve us well as we move into this new lifestyle.

Now to be honest, had a Wet-Sail popped up for a killer price during that one search, well, maybe THIS blog entry would have had a slightly different slant ;-) Mankind does tend to rationalize their choices, right?

Friday, February 20, 2009

From Chicken to Pig...

One of the take-aways from my Ex Mother-in-law is how a Chicken and a Pig relate when it comes to breakfast. One is involved, the other is committed.

This weekend Kristi gave away our Bed to one of the kids. We are 'downsizing' to a smaller bed. "Getting ready for the size of the bed on the boat".

When your Wife gives away your bed, well, I guess we are moving from the Chicken to the Pig....

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Yes Virginia, I am a POWER boat..

Caution: The following is long, has opinions and I even brought out the Soap Box. . . . .

So what is with this Power Boat thing? I thought people who cruised did it in Sail boats, or if they wanted to really be hip maybe a Cat... How can you be thinking of doing something like this in a Power Boat?

Well. First off. I love sail boats. More correctly, I love sailing. Before Viking Star I had a sail boat, and would get Sails Up 2-3 times a week during the summer. (err, Dating at the time might have had something to do with that :-) And I can tell ya, there is TRULY little better then burying the rail while close hauled. God I miss sailing...

So, how did I end up with a POWER boat? Well, it was one night while surfing, where I would often search for any single engine diesel boat under $40,000, sorted by size. (Have I mentioned that I am rather frugal? Some would say borderline cheap. Others, well, maybe others might not use the word borderline...) Anyway, I had been doing this for many years; just dreaming. And I ran across Viking Star. What attracted me to her? The designer. Ed Monk Sr. has passed on now, but his influence is still felt. You see, not ALL power boats are the same. (Getting out my Soap Box now) - It is true that MOST power boats have been shaped largely by marketing. Not that this is totally a bad thing (I am a Marketeer by trade, what else could I say), but it does tend to move design points away from less than pure goals. In the case of Power Boats, we have gotten: Beamy, stacked, high initial stability semi-planing hulls with an excess of power. Why? Well, these boats offer:
  • Lots of interior volume. We see side decks getting smaller and smaller, even disappearing on one or both sides.
  • No rolling! Wives are more often than not dragged aboard. Lets face it. And aside from being typically rather reluctant in the first place, once a boat starts to "Tip Over", well, forget it.
  • Speed. Semi Displacement hulls offer the ability to break Hull Speed - providing you pour enough power (and fuel) into them. Over the years you have seen singles go to twins, and twins go to 400 - 500 - 600HP.
Now again, this is not all bad. Room is often a good thing. A stable platform does make folks more comfortable in calm seas. And given the fast pace of our current society, the ability to travel a good distance for the weekend offers benefits. Market driven boats serve a purpose, if they did not they would not exist.

But, the above is rather counter intuitive for a cruiser.
  • Lots of interior volume: Small or no side decks, pitty the deck hand, but more so think of safety.
  • Lots of interior volume: Stacked decks. Great for room, not so great for sea kindness.
  • No Rolling! Yup, hulls with high initial stability are great when at dock, or out for a day cruise. But getting into even 4' chop will bring new meaning to Hating Life.
  • Speed. Well, pick one: Speed or economy. No secret here--heck, just driving 65 instead of 75 tells us that.
Putting away the soap box, what does this have to do with you trying to do this in a POWER BOAT! Doesn't this just prove the fallacy of it? Well, maybe. See, remember I said Viking Star was a bit different. She does not have a design point driven by marketing, but instead one driven by sea ability and efficiency.
  • Modest interior volume: Viking Star has wide side decks, with bullworks and stout rails all around. We feel (and largely are) safe onboard underway and during docking / anchoring maneuvers.
  • Modest interior volume: Viking Star is not double stacked. Her Center of Gravity is rather low. 4000 lbs or so of concrete and lead ballast helps this as well.
  • No Rolling. Well, here you all got me. We roll more then Santa Claus's belly during a jolly laugh. See, Viking Star has a near full displacement hull, and no hard chines. Makes for what is called a tender hull. Rolls a whole bunch, but once you remember to put things away, is very forgiving in seas. And much less fatiguing to the crew then the snappy motion of a semi-planing hull in heavy water..
  • Speed. Again, you got me. The rule of Viking Star is you had better enjoy where you are, cause we ain't getting away from here fast.
It is largely about the hull. Viking Star is based on a displacement hull, with lots of ballast. She needs modest power to move through the water, and can take seas well. She came out of a design oriented more towards commercial fishing craft than market-driven goals. And she is rather rare in that case compared to most power boats. In fact, with the exception of some notable boat designs who also follow these design goals (Willard, Krogen, Nordhavn to name a few), Viking Star is very very rare.

And that is why I purchased her.

See, we have good interior volume, she is very capable/safe, and has a hull that is rather efficient and thrifty. She burns 1.5 GPH making almost 7 Kts (6.8-6.9 to be more accurate). This compares to about 4GPH for a very popular power boat which shares a lot of the above the water line looks with Viking Star, as well as length and displacement, but not the hull. However, Viking Star can break into double-digit speed ONLY running down river with a good spring run-off. Depending on the motors in the more popular boat, they can easily make 15-18 kts, and some can even break into the mid 20's.

OK, so she is special, but she is still a POWER BOAT. Cruisers need Sails, are Sail boats! Everyone knows that.

Well, maybe. I'll pick this up in a future Blog, I am starting to get the Eye from Kristi on how long this one is getting. . .

Monday, February 16, 2009

What about looking for a job?

So, what about looking for a job? And what's with the Selling the House thing?

OK. Our 'plan' had been to do this in two years. (Pull the plug that is). That means we have been working towards this goal for a long time now, and already have much in place. Mostly - we do not really have a lot of stuff. I drive a '81 F150 (345,000 miles thank you!), my wife a 2000 Toyota. We have not accumulated a lot of stuff over the past 5-6 years (no Plasma TV) and have, in short, been working towards a simpler life (No HighDef Plasma TV....).

But it is a fact that we are not ready.

  • Boat is not ready.
  • Family / us are not ready (Kids, etc.)
  • Bank account is not ready. (Thank you again October, though it is not all your fault).

Bottom line: Though we will be ok for now, the Bank Account is not there to fully retire on. Do have a couple of Financial Hail Marys lobbed up and maybe one will stick. (hey, it is a new year, 2009. Anyone watch the Super Bowl :-) But failing that, yes I AM looking for a job. However, one thing to know-- this is not the 1st job change I have had to do. Comes as part of High Tech. History has told me it takes 6-9 months to find a comparable position. And that is in better times. Times now are not better. Does that mean I am not looking? No. Does it mean that I have given up? Mostly no. But it does mean being realistic we can count on 12, even 18 months to find a position.

Looking for a new job involves: Networking, Emails, telephone calls, and eventually face to face. Traditionally I would do Networking, Emails, Telephone calls, and flying off to meet someone from our house. And we could keep the house and make it work. Good severance package would make it possible, unemployment would help, so would savings. (And we may end up having to do this if the house does not sell.) But in the end, even though it is a nice house, we have outlived it; it is not where we are looking to retire to long term. (Too big). And technology, esp communication technology, has made the world small. I can just as easily Network, Email and make Telephone calls from almost anywhere in North America or even the world. And last time I checked, many places had airports. I am maintaining my industry's professional ties by continuing weekly involvement in a Green oriented initiative. In the end: I can do my job search functions from home OR from the boat with the same effectiveness.

Given the house is not in our long terms plans, the Boat makes more sense. It is lower cost. And for those who are so inclined (we all know this is not for everyone), certainly more fun. You see, it is really the right decision to move to the boat, being driven mostly by reducing cash flow. It is the logical, responsible thing to do.

Yea, that's it. This is perhaps the ONLY prudent thing to do.

Plus, well, we get to live on the boat.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Al is my sweetheart.

He puts up with alot from me. Being a Virgo, I am borderline Obssesive/Compulsive. I like things to be done a certain way, and if they aren't done that way....well...I get a little grumpy.

But here is a man who has sent a couple of quotes to my cell phone over the last two days. The first: 'The wrinkles only go where the smiles have been" (Jimmy Buffet). There may be a couple of reasons he chose THIS quote for me.

I have been expressing a concern over what will happen to my appearance when we are cruising. I LOVE my skin care products! I use Arbonne and even one day without the eye cream and I can tell the difference. (HE says he wouldn't notice, but I do.) But he has agreed that my using this rather expensive regime is worthwhile to us both. It is to be considered necessary maintenance.

So the 'wrinkle' issue had been resolved, I thought. What else could be the meaning behind this quote for me? Perhaps Al is telling me to smile more. I need to quit sweating the small stuff and enjoy life more. Sounds like a good plan; I will endeavor to follow it.

Al is my sweetheart.

This morning another quote showed up in my Inbox. 'To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.' (Heather Cortez) How appropriate for Valentine's Day. We are on the verge of setting off on the voyage of the rest of our lives, where we will be each other's sole companion for much of the time. Our daily lives will be not be taken up with the world of kids, grandkids, work, traffic, mortgages, TV, schedules, etc, but we will be each other's world.

Al is my sweetheart. Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Getting Ready

We've been getting ready for this for a long time.

You could even say it goes back to that first 'date' where Al invited me for coffee to tell me he wasn't ready to date. And we ended up talking for three hours. About our dreams. His was to have a boat and live on it. Mine was to travel. What a perfect combination!

A year and a half later, he brought Viking Star home.

And the dream became more real. We've been getting ready for a long time, but it is still years in the future.

A chartered sailing trip to the San Juan Islands was a bit of a test. Could we stand each other, in small places, for eight days? Would we get sea sick? Actually, we discovered together that there is such a thing as LAND sickness--that sensation that walls and floor we knew to be stationary were rolling around us.

When we married in 2002 the plan was to depart in 6-8 years. Friends, family and aquaintences run the gamut of reactions: envy, dismay, curiousity. One even stammered 'But where will you have Thanksgiving?! My reply: 'Tahiti?'

So, seven years later. The kids are all out of the house. The youngest is a senior in high school and lives with his father. The fifth grandchild is expected in June. Our financial goal has still not been met, but departure was still two years away. We figured to make the bon voyage party a joint 50th birthday celebration (Viking Star was built the same year Al and I were both born.)

We have been getting ready for a long time now.

For some time, all purchases have been considered. Will we get 2-3 years use out of this? Can we use this on the boat? The kids have spoken for household items.

And, suddenly it seems, IT happens. We've been getting ready for a long time now. But I'm NOT ready! My babies are having babies. The house is a mess! We still don't have enough money.

So, first I cry. All the way to work. And I downsize my Starbucks order. And begin a frenzy of cleaning, sorting, hauling, organizing. We've been delivering many of those spoken-for items.

Al reminds me that I have been a lucky Grammie to have had my grandchildren so close until now. And that we hope their parents and they join us for portions of our adventure. Technology has shrunken the world. In the middle of the ocean, we can still communicate. We look forward to SHARING our adventure.

We've been getting ready for a long time now.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Well, It happened

Yup, it happened. I got That Call... Been worried about it from last Fall, and spent a lots of nights not sleeping well. But over the course of one weekend Kristi and I talked about 'What If'. What if 'it' happened, what would we do?

Well, 'It' did happen. A short meeting was put on my calendar by my Boss titled "Personnel Discussion" and I was laid off. Not that I am alone in this, it is hard times. And not that the company is not rather generous with the severance package, it is fair. But still.

Given these times, the possibility of a like job is very very slim. Very slim. Our internal Job Bank had 4, yes FOUR postings for jobs in my pay scale. This is for one of the largest companies around. FOUR. Only one of the jobs I might qualify for, but I am not sure I want to move to the East Coast. Plus I would be one of hundreds applying, I am sure.

So, what is our plan? Well, to be short: Go Cruising. See, we have been working for the past 8 years towards to goal of 'pulling the plug'. The timeline was 2 years from now, and also we had hoped to be in much better $$ standpoint. But the world seems to have a way with plans of Mice and Men, and we did not make the time, nor the $$ in our account. (Thank you October). But, when we look at it all: We just might make it. Might have to work some time down the road; maybe the economy will be better in two years or so. Might just find something else to do to fill in the gaps. But we just might be able to make a go of it. (Rice and Beans / Beans and Rice, or well, maybe just Rice OR Beans at times...)

So, in the end here we are. We are pulling the plug sooner. I AM looking for work, just not hopeful. Might pick up some consulting that I can do remotely; that would be good. But the main plan is to accelerate the 'Pull the Plug' plan. We are:

  • Dumping the house: Priced very aggressively, and told the real estate agent we would not write a check for someone to take the house, but anything above that is OK.
  • Accelerating the completion of the boat.
  • Putting other things into order. ( Kids, Stuff, $, etc.)

As we moved through this in the last two weeks, several folks have said Keep In Touch, and Let Us Know What You Are Doing. So, this Blog. Here we will document what is up, where we are, and who knows what else. Likely this will follow the pattern of most 'cruising Blogs' - LOTS of activity in the beginning, eventually tapering off to little or no posts. But will see, likely depend on how much Kristi posts in the future :-)

So, this is a start. More to come . . . .