We’re Going Green!

Friday June 11, 2010

Although there were A LOT of things we completed while the boat was in heated storage, work on a boat never ends and we are continuing to do work and make improvements.   One of the things we’re adding are solar panels.  Not only would it be nice to have one just for sitting at the mooring to have enough power to keep the fridge running, have enough juice for the autopilot and then a little leftover for the stereo and instruments….we will need a power source on our trip to keep these things running every day.  By the time we leave we’ll probably have three panels total, but for now we’ve only purchased two and one is going on the boat today.  This is a project that Matt couldn’t handle by himself (could you imagine a piece of equipment  like that accidentally falling into the water during installation?) so I joined him once I got out of work.

After unloading it from the car and gingerly placing it in the dinghy Matt took us to the boat and dropped me off.  He found out that morning while I was gone that he could get the dinghy on plane with only one person in it and wanted to show me.  With him and the solar panel left in the dink he cruised around at full throttle showing me how quickly he could zoom around.  Finally coming back to the boat he was showing off too much and didn’t slow down when he should have.  The side of the dink bumped into the boat, not a big deal because we were using the inflatable, but the corner of the solar panel was protruding off the side and caused a nice little scratch on the side of my beautiful Serendipity.  That will be a fun one to fix.  And Matt thinks I’m the accident prone one of the relationship.  Boys………..

Being extra careful we managed to get the panel from the dinghy into the cockpit.  This panel was going on top of the davits we installed earlier this year on the stern of the boat.  Working on my acrobatics again I had to position myself so that I was basically hanging off the transom but still keeping myself steady enough to support the solar panel while it was being raised.  Luckily we managed to hoist it on the davits without much trouble and from that point my job was more to keep it from moving than to keep it supported.  Matt had the panel quickly attached and was running wire to the charge controller which then brings the power to our batteries.  Maybe the gods felt bad that we’d already done damage to the boat that day and didn’t want to make life harder for us, but everything worked on the first try!  We were taking in power, and from just the one panel it was more than we needed for just weekends out.  Maybe we’d hold off on adding the second one until we get closer to leaving.  I have to say, it’s not too bad of a set-up.  With the wind giving us our movement and the solar panel giving us energy we’re on our way to a very green way of living.  Now I just have to count down the days until we’re out of our house, cars are sold, and we’ve joined the cruising lifestyle.

On an Island in the Sun

Saturday June 5, 2010

This will be me in a few years

Although Matt and I started this blog so fans of sailing and friends of ours could enjoy stories from weekends on the lake (and you’d still read it if were only that, right?), there is a much bigger reason for us to share our story with everyone.  Next summer on August 1st we will be leaving our land life behind and becoming cruisers.  Remember how I mentioned before that once Matt gets a hobby he’ll become obsessed with it?  Well apparently somewhere in the 10 hours a day he spends online reading about sailing and cruising he started reading about cruising sailors and what it takes to live that kind of lifestyle.  We’d always talked about doing traveling and wanting to see the world.  Back in 2007 we spent a week visiting my parents who were living in Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam at the time, and were completely enamored with experiencing other cultures.  There was even a month when we got back that we were searching the costs of moving to Vietnam because we thought a life change like that would be good for us.  There’s too much world out there to stay in one place.

So sitting at my desk on a Tuesday afternoon I get an email from Matt that said something along the lines of “I was just looking into this, and did you know that people are cruising and living on budgets of only $20,000 a year?”  Obviously with the life we’re living on land we’re spending much more than that and I had to think to myself, ‘Wow, that actually sounds doable with a couple years of planning and saving’.  We didn’t make plans that day to leave our lives behind and head out into the the wild blue yonder, but the more we researched it the more it sounded like a possibility.  I would spend days at work daydreaming about sailing around to lush sandy beaches with year round sun and warmth.  Plus time away from the daily grind?  Sign me up!

After a few more months of talking it over we came up with a plan to spend two years sailing between the east coast of the states and the Bahamas.  Matt’s original idea was for us to sail around the world in about 3 years.  I was not too keen on this plan as I could not see myself going three weeks at a time without seeing land and did not want to cross two whole oceans.  In the end we agreed on the States/Bahama plan so that I would feel comfortable staying close to land, and this would allow us to bring Mazzii on the trip as well.  It’s too bad we won’t be able to go any further south than the Bahamas with saildog aboard because she would have to be quarantined, but I don’t think I can complain seeing as I get to spend two years cruising.

The general plan is that we’ll leave out of Muskegon in August of next year.  Sailing through the Great Lakes and Erie Canal we’ll be dumped in New York Harbor and begin our journey south.  Stopping among little town on the way we’ll get to the Bahamas sometime in December and stay there until March when we’ll go north again.  Hitting the towns we missed the first time we’ll keep working our way up and hopefully spend a few months in Maine before beginning our decent south for one more winter.  Then begins our trip home where we’ll resume our lives.  Not exactly the way they were left though.  The house will be sold and our jobs will have been quit, we’ll be starting all over again.  But tomorrow gives no promises and I’d hate to put off something like this until retirement and not have it happen because we don’t have the means then, or have health problems.  There’s nothing stopping us now, no kids, no commitments, nothing we can’t pick up again when we get home.

So follow us in our preparations to leave and once the journey starts.  It should be one hell of a ride!!

360 Degrees of Serendipity

Monday May 30, 2010

Yesterday returned to the cold, overcast and slightly deary kind of May day I’ve grown accustomed to in Michigan.  We stayed home and watched The History Channel from morning until night.  It was our typical winter weather Sunday and I was happy when the sunshine came out again and all things boating were a go.  Last year I ruined a perfectly beautiful Memorial Day after drinking too many Sambuca shots at a friend’s birthday the night before and there was no moving my ass from the living room floor.  Once we got out this year I assumed Matt would want to get the sails up as soon as possible.  I was all set to start pulling and winching lines when he suggested we just rest for awhile and get the sails up later.  Although I had gotten myself geared up for a sail I had no problem switching to lounge mode, pulling out a sport-a-seat and a magazine.  The dodger and bimini provided a perfect amount of shade, and all I was missing was a tall handsome servant named Geoffrey serving me chilled wine while I relaxed.

As the day wore on Matt was no closer to getting the sails up and I had relaxed in the cockpit, the cabin, and had even taken a nice nap in the v-berth.  I had gotten to the point where I had been doing nothing for too long and now I didn’t want to do anything productive.  Matt must have been on the same page as me when I asked if he wanted to go out (just cause I’m a good wife) and he asked if I wouldn’t mind sitting at the mooring for the rest of the day.  No problem here.  For a few more hours we lounged around snacking, relaxing, and enjoying our home away from home.  The only productive thing we did do is when leaving Matt had me pull out the camera while we circled the boat for a 360 degree view.  Enjoy!!





Maiden Voyage

Saturday May 29, 2010

With the sun rising and slightly warming up the cabin we were able to get a couple hours of sleep where we weren’t shaking and shivering.  Temperatures quickly warmed up and we realized as nice as it would be, we couldn’t stay in bed forever.  Our friends Becky and Tyler were supposed to arrive around noon and we wanted to be underway by 1:00.  After unmaking the bed (a much easier process), running to the bathrooms to wash my face and brush my teeth again, and then taking the dog the bathroom where she actually went right away this time after holding it in all night, I was ready for, yes, more chores.  We busted out our spiffy new hoses and filled all 3 of our water tanks.  With fresh water now available I went to work washing the new dishes and silverware I just purchased along with any other dishes and silverware that came with the boat.  Mazzii just sat on the settee watching me wash everything piece by piece trying to conserve as much water as possible.  We wouldn’t have access to fresh water for awhile since we’d be at a mooring from that night on and wanted it to last as long as possible.




About 30 minutes before noon I got a call from Becky letting me know they were running late and would be to the boat by 12:30 or 1:00.  Matt and I were behind on a few things anyway and didn’t mind the delay.  Although once 1:00 came and they were nowhere to be seen we started to get a little antsy.  Matt is a stickler for time, one of those “If you’re on time you’re late” kind of people.  A quick call to Becky confirmed she just dropped her kids off at her mom’s, left a vehicle at Torresen’s so we’d all have something to ride in when we arrived, and were only 20 miles from Eldean’s.  We decided to stop at the BBQ being thrown by the marina on this picturesque Michigan day.  We also figured the entrance to the marina would be the perfect spot to spot our friends when the arrived, before they could get lost amongst the mass of boats.  After our meals had been finished and we were still waiting I made another call to see if maybe they had gotten lost along the way.  Nope, turns out they were catching every single red light between Muskegon and Holland.  They had only made it about half way so far.  With another 20-30 minutes to waste we decided to walk the docks and check out the other boats.  Matt heard a rumor there was a 38ft Sabre in one of these slips and he was determined to find it.  We walked up and down docks A-D without luck, skirted around a wedding that was being set up at the restaurant next door, and checked out the Z dock Serendipity used to call home.  It was a quiet dock all the way at the end facing the beautiful houses set on the hillside of the lake.  This is where we would be if we decided to stay at Eldean’s.

When Becky and Tyler finally pulled in the parking lot we were a mix of excited to show them the boat and excited to get on our way.  We brought them to the end of E dock and helped a nervous Becky make the 2ft jump from the dock to the boat.  I didn’t know if she got seasick on the water so I offered her one of my patches to use on the ride.  All she heard me say was the word ‘patch’ and goes, “Oh my god, the boat needs a patch?! Are you sure it’s safe to sail?  We’re not going to sink, are we?”.  I laughed and assured her that, no, the patch would be for her to keep her from getting seasick over the side of the boat, or even worse in the cockpit.  We gave our friends the same grand tour of the boat and they were as equally impressed as Chris and Jack.  Then while giving a run through of what we were doing that afternoon Tyler asked if the marina had beer for sale. He mentioned they were going to stop along the way but since they were running late they skipped it hoping the marina had a general store.  The marina unfortunately did not sell beer, the closest place I knew of was Meijer and that was at least a 10-15 minute drive each way.  Since it would be impossible to make the 26 mile trip to Muskegon without alcohol (we only had about 8 Bud Lights left), Becky and I decided to make the run to the store while the boys got everything ready to go.  We picked up a 24 pk of Bud Light for the guys which she guaranteed me would be gone by the end of the night.  For ourselves we settled on two 6 packs of flavored Mike’s Hard Lemonade.  I know, how girly of us.  On the ride back I asked her if she’d seen Dick DeVos’ (of Amway) new summer cottage on her way in the first time.  She looked at me a little strangely and I told her it was the new 30,000 sq ft house on the lake with a 10,000 sq ft guest house.  Her eyes bulged and she replied, “That was a house?!  I thought it was a hotel!!”.  Ahhh, you gotta love how much money is in this area.

When we arrived back at the marina we bundled all of our goods in our arms and got some strange looks from passer-bys who probably thought we were stocking up for a weekend rager instead of an eight hour sail.  By the time we got to the boat the guys were more than ready to leave.  We handed the drinks and snacks over and practically had to jump aboard before they left us behind.  Within five minutes all the dock lines had been pulled off and we threw the boat in reverse to get on our way.  With never having been in a slip before I’m sure we looked like student drivers with multiple times of backing up and pulling forward until we were sure we wouldn’t come in contact with any solid objects.  There were a few “Oh my god, look out, look out!!” moments, but soon we were clear off the docks and on the way to the channel.  I laughed a little at Matt who was used to steering with a tiller, and now that the directions were backwards (or correct I should say) he kept turning left when he meant to turn right or right when he meant to turn left.  That was until I took a hold of the wheel and did exactly the same thing.  Once out in Lake Michigan we raised the mainsail and set the autopilot.  Which by the way, is one of the best inventions ever for a boat.  I had spent two summers being the helmsman at the tiller because Matt can’t hold a course to save his life.  Five minutes of him at the helm and the sails start luffing because he had fallen so far off the wind.  I soon discovered it was easier for me to stay at the helm than to constantly adjust the sails.  Plus that was something I had never been too great at, so we both just stayed where our strengths were.  Not that this is a good idea, everyone should be competent on working everything on a boat.  But still, the first time I clicked on the autopilot and stepped back to let the boat steer itself was utterly amazing.  I was free to move around the boat.  I could turn my gaze from straight ahead (I always stared straight at my course, one of the reasons I was so good at keeping it) and enjoy the scenery of the shore and the dunes.  I seized my new independence and ran below to get everyone drinks.




We sat around the cockpit and enjoyed the silence that wind-powered movement brings.  That movement however, was little on the slow side.  I warned Matt that if we kept this pace we would arrive in Muskegon well after the sun went down.  It wasn’t an issue of sailing in the dark, we had radar, it was the fact that none of our ropes had been attached to our mooring ball and trying to slide our boathook into the lone ring on the ball was not going to be an easy task, light or dark.  He assured me that our pace was fine and we carried on drinking and talking.  We also spent multiple times bringing Mazzii above and below deck since she couldn’t decide where she wanted to be.  Three hours into the trip we should have been about halfway, just passing Grand Haven.  I stared into the distance and did not see Grand Haven although I could still see a speck the Holland lighthouse be.  I pointed this fact and we grudgingly turned on the engine.  Soon enough Grand Haven came and passed as the sun started to slip below the horizon.  Even though I was a little disappointed we wouldn’t make it to the mooring in the light, I sat back and enjoyed the sunset.  Becky was also disappointed we wouldn’t make it back in the light, but mostly because she was afraid of sailing in the dark.  She kept having visions of us hitting a log sticking out of the water and throwing us out of the boat.  I don’t know where the vision of logs came from, and  it might have just been the Mike’s Hard Lemonade in her talking, but we made sure to give her a good mocking for it anyway (sorry Becky, I love you).

As we got closer to our destination the wind we had been missing all day decided to pick up.  Matt was sitting comfortably in his Columbia jacket with jeans and boat shoes, the rest of us were sitting in the cockpit with jeans, light jackets and no socks or shoes.  We were all freezing and I was trying to pull out anything I had from the cabin to keep us warm.  Lesson learned.  Even though the day highs might be in the 80’s, prepare for it to drop into the 50’s at night.  We even had to put a towel on the dog because her life jacket wasn’t enough to keep her warm.




Finally around 10:30 we came up on the Muskegon lighthouse and started our way through the channel.  Vision wasn’t great through the panels of the dodger since it was original to the boat and a little ‘aged’ we’ll call it, so I stood on the side deck shouting directions to Matt.  We made it safely through and then came the task of catching the 3″ ring on the mooring ball.  Luckily there were two boat hooks on board so Tyler and I each took spots at the front the deck with hooks and flashlights in hand.  The plan was to have me go for it first and if I missed he was right behind me to make an attempt.  I was not very confident in myself, I lack a bit (a lot) of hand-eye coordination.  I was poised and ready as we made our slow pass up to the ball.  I placed my hook down and angled my flashlight.  I expected us to have to make 3-4 passes before one of us finally hooked on and was caught by surprise when I got it on the first attempt.  I probably would have done a happy dance if I didn’t have to keep a firm grip on the hook.  Matt took over and I went on flashlight duty as he dangled over the side attaching the pendant.  Becky who stayed in the cockpit, thankful we didn’t hit any random floating logs began to clean up our mess from the day.  After putting the boat back in some kind of order we all piled in the dinghy to begin our trip home.  Another hour long trip down 31 to retrieve our cars at Eldean’s (what is with all those red lights?!) and another 45 minute drive home we collapsed into bed shortly after midnight.  It had been a long day, but after spending some real time on Serendipity on the water I could not wait to get out and spend the rest of my summer enjoying what I had been waiting all winter and spring for.

Friday May 28, 2010

‘Slumber Party’

Today was an exciting day for Matt and I as it was going to be our first overnight on the boat.  This was something I did not enjoy on the Hunter, and my heart would sink a little every time Matt suggested a ‘weekend on the boat’ as I always felt cramped and claustrophobic in the cabin.  The Sabre however is a completely different story.  I could not wait to plant my butt on her for a long weekend.  I had the day off of work and Matt was going to be home at 1:00, so it was my job to have everything packed up by the time he got home.  This included 4 days worth of food, clothes, bedding, pillows, cleaning supplies, life jackets, the dog, dog food, dog bedding….and the list goes on.  I had also run to Meijer and Bed Bath & Beyond looking for a specific style of Corelle dishes Matt wanted on the boat.  Needless to say, when he pulled in the driveway I was still stuffing things in bags and throwing them by the door.

Luckily we had everything loaded into both cars within 30 minutes, although we were still left without dishes.  Matt was able to find the set he wanted at Walmart and we decided to stop along the way to pick them up.  Or I should say that he sat in the car while I ran in since he can’t deal with the chaos that is Walmart, and I usually try to avoid it at most costs myself.  With new dishes, and stainless steel silverware!!, in tow we made it to the boat with plenty daylight left to get projects done.  Matt’s mom and step-dad were going to stop by around 6:00 to see the boat for the first time, and we wanted it to look as pristine as possible.  Lots of scrubbing, wiping, and polishing later she was looking in pretty good shape.  When Crystal and Jack arrived there Serendipity was ready for the grand 60 second tour: ‘Ok, come down the stairs, here we have the galley, salon, and navigation station.  If you look behind this door we have the head complete with a sink and toilet paper dispenser.  Behind this door is the aft cabin with a queen size bed and hanging lockers.  And if you follow us to the front here you’ll see the luxurious v-berth master suite fitted with it’s own vanity.’  Just joking though, she’s more than enough space for us and we’re completely in love with her.  Plus we got lots of oooooohs and ahhhhhhs from Chris and Jack, plus ‘Wow, it’s a lot bigger than it looks on the outside’.

So she passed parental approval, and left to ourselves again we got back to yet more chores.  The sails had not been put on yet and we figured they were a pretty important part of sailing us to Muskegon the next day.  From what had been glass on the water was now turning choppy and we wanted to get them attached before the wind became any worse.  The mainsail went on without a problem, but by the time we got to the headsail  winds were picking up to 12-15 knots.  Matt was handling the luff tape while it was my job to hold the part of the sail that hadn’t been attached yet from blowing away.  It wasn’t too hard when most of the sail was on the deck, but the further it was hoisted up the more it wanted to blow in the wind.  And since the only thing keeping it from blowing away was me I was practically laying on the foot of the sail trying not to get slingshotted overboard with it.  In the end Matt was able to tie the lines to the clew before I could go for a swim  and we had it furled and ready to use for the next day.

When the sun set we began our bedtime rituals, and never having done this in a marina before it was a little….different.  Change into your jammies on the boat, then walk to the restrooms to brush your teeth and wash your face (we didn’t have water on the boat yet).  Then you take the dog to the bathroom in a designated 10×12 ft spot right next to the children’s playground where she’d get stage fright and wouldn’t go.  And then back to the boat to set up the bed.  In the Hunter we had always used sleeping bags if sleeping in the v-berth, but this time we wanted to class it up and use real sheets.  I had brought a fitted sheet and top sheet from home and began trying my best to make it work.  And although getting a square sheet on a triangle cushion doesn’t sound too hard (better than the other way around I guess), working in a little space with even littler headroom turned even making the bed into an ordeal.  But I powered through it and when I put the top sheet and pillows on I was quite proud of myself.  Until I realized that night temperatures were still in the 50’s and I had not brought any kind of blanket to go on top of the sheet.  Luckily Matt and I were so tired that with a thin sheet and a towel spread on top of us we were still able to get a decent three or four hours of sleep.

Thursday May 27, 2010

I tried to prepare myself a little better tonight as we headed out to the boat. Matt’s meal was still on the go, and the clothing of choice was still t-shirts and shorts, but plenty of extra clothes, food, and cleaning supplies were packed in the car with us. Also packed in the car was our greyhound Mazzii (aka Maserati, The Sailing Greyhound, or saildog). She had been out with us a few times on the Hunter, and we thought she’d like to get out of the house and explore the boat a little. Strapped into her West Marine PDF we stuck her in the cockpit while Matt and I pulled out supplies to give the deck a good washing. It was almost embarrassing having Serendipity out there in the filthy condition she was in next to all the larger boats (ok, not RIGHT next to), lots with hired crews to do all the dirty work on call at any time. The amount of money in this place was not what we were used to. I could even go on about how nice the bathrooms are. But back to the subject. We hadn’t had a chance to clean our boat since she went in the water, and dust and dirt were all over her. To get her shining again before the holiday weekend we pulled out the hose, deck cleaner and scrub brushes. I assume this was going to take a lot of elbow grease on my part, which I don’t have a lot of, so it was a nice surprise when a little bit of suds covered the whole bow and just a little bit of work got her gleaming. In no time at all we had a spotless deck and some extra time on our hands.

Matt decided to fiddle around with wiring and electronics to make sure everything was working properly. Since you may know by now that things relating to this are not part of my job description, I was given the manual labor task of polishing the teak with oil. Not one of my favorite projects due to it’s tedious nature, but I was happy just to be doing it in a different setting. With both both Matt and I working in the cabin Mazzii started getting a little lonely in the cockpit. She’d stand with her head in the companionway and start whining, desperate for a little attention. I’d hop up a few steps, give her a kiss on the head, and direct her back to the cockpit cushion (or the sport-a-seats we use as cockpit cushions) she was laying on. She would sit contently for about 10 minutes and the process would repeat itself again.



Since I was able to skip the unpleasant step of cleaning with bleach water first I completed my chore before Matt. Although I’m sure he could have been done any time he wanted, but he likes to tinker around with things so much that he would have been there doing it until 3 am if i let him. I decided to join Mazzii outside with an ice cold beer (I offered her one, she turned it down) and watch as the last bit of color left the sky. It was slightly strange being in such a confined space with so many other boats compared to the mooring we were used to being on. By this time of night most everyone had gone home, but earlier a few of our ‘neighbors’ were at their boats which made getting work completed a lot harder because all they wanted to do is talk to you. I love boat people. Boat people are friendly and caring and would give you the shirt off their back (I’m sure that situation actually happens quite often…..), but when you only have a limited time to complete something it can be frustrating when they won’t shut up. And the worst part is there’s nowhere to run. You politely try to end the conversation, turn your back and get back to work…but some people don’t get the hint and will keep talking. And since they’re only 10 feet away from you there isn’t much you can do except smile and nod and hope you don’t interject anything that will keep the conversation going. This is why Matt and I will always prefer a mooring over a slip. We love talking to people, but we love it even more when we have a decent amount of control over how long it will last.

Right around the time I was finishing my beer Matt was finished tinkering.  We weren’t too worried about having separation anxiety from the boat when we left this time because we knew we’d be back early the next afternoon.  Finishing up the rest of our projects and spending our first night on her before sailing her to our mooring in Muskegon on Saturday.  Ok…..maybe there would be a little separation anxiety.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

‘Maybe I’m Amazed’

Matt and I left for Holland today as soon as he was out of work. Without even stopping to eat I had him change into clothes I had laid out for him and shoved a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a can of Pringles in his hand as we ran out the door. The drive seemed to take painfully long this time as I was actually looking forward to heading out there on this occasion. It was a beautiful evening for May, still in the low 80’s at 6:00 in the evening, so I didn’t think anything of throwing on a strapless sundress as we headed out to the water. As soon as we got closer though, I watched the temperature drop into the high 70’s, low 70’s, and finally into the low 60’s by the time we pulled into the parking lot at Eldean’s. It had gone down 20 degrees in the span of 35 miles. Damn Michigan and it’s random weather changes! Or damn me for not checking the forecast and putting style over comfort. Either way I was too eager about the boat to give it a second thought.

Walking the docks it was slightly amusing for me trying to find the boat for the first time. We were given a dock and slip number, but once we got to the dock Serendipity was on my eyes kept jumping to every boat that slightly resembled her going “Is it that one?…..Is that one it?”. Not that we disregarded the slip number and almost walked on a boat that wasn’t ours, but I was so giddy with excitement that I wanted to find her and get on her as soon as possible. We finally came upon her 2 slips from the end of the dock. She looked beautiful in the water, and we climbed in opening hatches and the companionway to let some fresh air and real light in. It was amazing the difference it made to the cabin vs the artificial light we were used to in storage. It made it feel so open and almost 50% larger. The colors and the grain on the teak really started to show through. The sun that was setting shone through the portholes and made the cabin glow. It was at that moment I got what I had been waiting all winter for, and that was the reward that all my hard work and labor was worth it 10 times over.

Matt and I hadn’t planned much work for the boat that night. Our trip out was mostly just to see that the boat had made it safely in the water and just to see what she would look like wet and with her mast up. We decided to tackle a few small projects while we were there like putting up the dodger and bimini. There were still larger projects to be done, but we didn’t have the time or all the supplies to complete them yet. Plus as the sun started to set, temperatures plummeted even further down and all I could think about was jumping in the car and blasting the heat. We made plans to come back the next night ready to do some real work and took one last look at Serendipity sway in the water as the first few stars started to dot the sky.

Tuesday May 25, 2010

‘And She’s In!’

Today Serendipity finally went in the water!!  I had wanted to be there to see it happen but Eldean’s could not give us a definite day or time due to all the boats going in for the holiday weekend.  I wouldn’t have been doing much, probably just taking a few photos and making it obvious I was new at this.  Plus Matt told me that if I were there they may have made me put her in our slip which was not going to happen.  Neither Matt or I have ever put a boat in a slip before and there was no way I was going to be first.  It would probably be my luck that they’d kick me out that day for damaged property and I’d be sailing her Muskegon all by myself without a clue of how anything worked.

Matt and I have plans to see her tomorrow at the dock and do a deck washing to get her all cleaned up from what we couldn’t do in storage.  I’m so excited, I feel like I’ve been waiting for this moment forever!!

May 2010

If things went according to schedule like they did last year, my boat would already be in the water and I’d be enjoying Sunday sails with the sun on my face.  As it is, we’re still stuck in storage working on projects and maintenance.  We’re hoping to have Serendipity in the water by Memorial Day weekend to sail her up the coast to our mooring in Muskegon.  Having her in storage though, is getting so incredibly depressing.  As each week goes by I have to watch the weather get a little bit warmer, and watch all the boats surrounding us get moved from storage and into the water while we still sit on the hard.  Each time we arrive at the boat I listen to Matt rattle off a list of 50 things that HAVE to be done before she can hit water.  I silently curse myself for all the times I didn’t work a little bit harder or a little bit faster, and maybe that list could be about half that size right now.  Although I’ll still hold that the 15 minute secret nap I took in the v-berth a few weeks ago while Matt worked on the hull was pure heaven.

Luckily most of the projects we have left seem feasible and we should be able to check them off pretty quickly.  Of course everything always looks easier on paper. There were a few decent projects I was able to work on with Matt that just involved me holding something in place (like the davits) while he went around and secured them, so it was almost like a break for me.  Putting the new decals on the stern and watching her become our own was fun, but scraping off the MI registration decals (she’s Coast Guard registered and therefore doesn’t need them) from the bow while hanging upside-down was not so fun.  Matt took on the project of refinishing the floors in the cabin while I went back and re-sanded and re-glossed the toerails, a-gain.


Matt testing the strength of the davits



My grandparents helped to break up the monotony one night by taking us out to dinner while they were in town.  Joined with my brother, we all sat and talked about the boat along with what we were working on and what our plans were for the summer.  We mentioned that we were planning to take her to Milwaukee in July, something we were pretty excited about since we have never sailed a boat more than 10 miles from shore before.  There was a lost in translation moment when my grandpa asked again how big our boat is, and Matt thinking they asked the distance from Muskegon to Milwaukee replied, “70”.  The table went silent for a moment as my brother and I heard the correct question about length being asked, and kind of cocked our heads with puzzled looks on our face.  Then my grandma replied, “Well if you can afford a 70 foot boat, then what are we doing taking you out to dinner?”.  The table burst out laughing as Matt was now the one that was confused.  For the rest of the night he had jokes made at his expense about having loads of money that he wasn’t sharing with the family and how there would always have to be a room on our 70 foot boat for my grandparents any time they wanted it.

The last few weeks in May were spent cleaning the hull.  A project I assumed would only take half a day, but it turns out my lack of knowledge (and strength) about this project had me far off on this guess.  My assumption of a quick wipe-down with a single compound was not even close.  I had Matt write me a list of everything to be completed on the hulls just so you can get an idea of what I’m talking about.  (If detailed descriptions on boat projects bore you, I would skip to the next paragraph)  First we had to compound the hull with a Makita 9227 polisher and 3M’s fiberglass rubbing compound.  This had to be done two separate times as not to go too hard and accidentally burn the fiberglass with the buffer (something Matt accidentally did in the cockpit).  Removing the compound by hand with a microfiber cloth wasn’t too tough, but my arms would get incredibly tired if they were over my head for more than five minutes.  After the compound was removed we had to polish the hull until a mirror-like shine was produced.  We also had to polish all the deck hardware.  Finally came the waxing, which also needed two coats and had to be done by hand.

Due to my complete lack of upper body strength all of this waxing and polishing was torture on me.  I had no idea how large the hull of a boat could be until every inch of it had to be rubbed down multiple times.  My arms were sore and aching, and by the third day I had visions of burning the boat down in a blaze of glory while chanting and dancing around it.  Then with the insurance money I could buy a new boat that wouldn’t require any work.  But who am I kidding?  There aren’t any boats out there that don’t require work.  So I decided to suck it up and finish the work on mine.


rebedding the chainplates

Slowly we’re getting everything put back together and cleaned up.  The boat has been looking like a disaster area for quite some time after we disassembled just about everything and left it sitting on the cabin settees or strewn about in the cockpit.  Watching everything get put back in it’s place finally made it concrete that the end was near.  Vacuuming the deck and wiping down the interior were actually a joy because I knew they were the last things on our list before the boat is finally put in the water.

With the plan to get her in by Memorial Day weekend we’re really hoping Eldean’s will be able to get us in.  It’s supposed to be their busiest week with just about every remaining boat on the hard going into the water.  We’d like to use that Friday or Saturday to take her up to Muskegon and spend the rest of the weekend relaxing on her.  Our assumption is that the trip will take 4-6 hours, which will be our second longest trip in a boat after taking the Hunter from Muskegon to Silver Lake and back last year.  We’re planning on bringing our friends Becky and Tyler with us for the company and a reason to drink.  It should be an interesting trip since Becky has a fear of sailboats (think she had a bad experience on one before ?) and has admitted to getting seasick every time she’s been on Lake Michigan.  But she’s avoided going boating with us for 2 years and we decided it was time for her to face her fears.  I figure if worst comes to worst I’ll just drug her with chloroform and stash her in the v-berth.

April 2010

Remember how I went on the other month about how much of a long and tedious project it was for me to clean and oil the teak in the cabin? Well I think I may have found something even worse. The grabrails and toerail on deck. Small as they are they have been taking up weeks of my time.

It all started innocently enough when Matt came home from working on the boat on a Friday evening and told me that there was a project he wasn’t able to finish up and asked if I could take care of it the next day. Since I already knew going into the week that there was no way I’d be able to park my butt on the couch and watch t.v. all day come Saturday, I agreed to do it for him.

He told me this is a project that would only take me two hours max, and I’d still be home and in bed with him in time for Saturday afternoon nap (yes, I’m actually talking about a nap here, get your minds out of….). The project he didn’t complete was scraping off a wood stain removing type paint (and hopefully the stain) from the grabrails and toerail on the deck of the boat. He explained that he’d already taken care of the companionway but didn’t have time to complete the rest.

Even though I was assured this would only be a ‘two hour job’, I decided to leave early (and for me that was around 9:45) to make sure I’d be home in time for a late lunch and some Saturday afternoon movies on TBS. After arriving and having forgotten the key to the companionway, I let myself in through a hatch and turned on the lights and radio, ready to get to work. I grabbed the paint scraper and vacuum and decided to start on the port-side toerail. At this time it was about 10:40. I sat down and made my first scrape near the bow. I expected it to come off quickly and with ease, but instead all that came off was a section about 1/8″ wide and 2″ long and blocked between the two colors of the green remover and the bare teak beneath. I knew this was a project that would require some finesse (and Matt reminded me 10 times before I went), so I figured it was me and after 5 or 10 minutes I would have it down. 20 minutes later I had cleared off a 4″ section enough that I thought it would meet Matt’s approval.



I looked down at the 10 feet of port-side toerail still to be done, and then at the starboard-side and both grabrails. There was no way I was going to be in and out within a few hours. In fact I was starting to think I may not finish by the time they kicked me out at 5:00. I started racing to clear off the soy strip (I had to ask Matt what it was called) as quickly as possible without digging too far into the teak and doing some real damage. As it was, there was still a trail of wood shavings I was leaving behind. It wasn’t until well after noon that I had finally finished the port-side toerail. It was around this time I also realized I did not bring a lunch because I didn’t think I’d be there long enough to eat one, so I made the agonizing 25 minute round trip into town to pick up some BK which I consumed on the way back as to not waste any more of my time.

Revved up and ready to go again I attacked the starboard toerail in a fury which left it completed and me exhausted in a matter of just over an hour.  At this point I was starting to hit a burnt out delirium, singing along to the radio and talking to myself a little.  Luckily no one else was in the storage shed to hear me.  I moved on to the grabrails which were much more difficult due to the curve in the shape.  My perfectionist attitude started to dwindle as time began to run out, and I just wanted to get the bulk of the soy strip off.  Matt had warned me that it was not supposed to stay on the wood for more than 24 hours and that is why it HAD to be completed the day after he started it.  When the friendly staff at Eldean’s (and that’s not sarcastic, they really are friendly) came by at quarter to five to tell me to start moving along there were only a few small strips of green soy strip remaining.

The next time either Matt or I were able to make it out to the boat was the Sunday after Easter (and we were both so happy for Eldean’s to be open Sundays now).  I was proud to show Matt the work I was able to complete, and then having access to the companionway this time, took a look at the work he had done the day before me.  I was dumbfounded when I saw it.  No wonder he was able to finish his section so quickly, it looked like crap!  I think there was as much soy strip showing as there was bare teak.  The number two thing I remembered about Matt that day.  Although he has an OCD compulsion for perfection, his ADD cancels out the patience needed to attain it.  This is where I come in.  I’m content to sit in one place working on one thing until it is completed properly and perfectly (unless it’s something technological, then I’m clueless).  I spent the rest of my day clearing off what I didn’t get the week before, and then ‘touching up’ the companionway, which actually took up a good portion of my day.

Again, I have no idea what Matt worked on while we were there, but it could have been replacing all the wires to compensate for more power.  In which case it would be a good thing I was not helping because I know nothing about that area either (although I will need to learn).  By the end of the day Matt had finished replacing the wires, if that’s what he was doing, and I had cleaned and taped around the teak to prepare it for a coat of Cetol Natural Teak come Saturday.  By the way, I’ve learned never to trust Matt when he gives me a guess on how long a project will take.  He told me that taping the areas around the teak would only take 30 minutes.  They took me 2 hours.

That Saturday, armed with a Lunchable, I went back to face the teak that was giving me so much agony.  I had gotten a quick lesson from Matt the night before on the proper way to apply it (always with the grain, and spreading it out as not to leave drips), and I was ready for what I assumed would be another long hard day of work.  I was delighted after my first few strokes to not only find out how beautiful the wood looked, but what a quick and easy project it was.  I was able to complete the two coats necessary in just a few hours and was on my way home to enjoy some TBS and Saturday afternoon nap.





Unfortunately that was the last time I had any enjoyment or fulfillment working on them.  The front toerails and grabrail needed to be sanded and clear coated about five times because somehow in our closed environment with no sanding allowed, debris kept falling on the rails while they were still wet or tacky and were almost impossible to make 100% smooth.  Then came the rail along the stern and cockpit.  This had to go through all the same stages of stripping, sanding and coating, but since it looked like a hurricane blew through our cockpit it made it an almost hopeless attempt to reach the areas I needed.  Some things could be moved (again and again), but the stern rails were there to stay.  Work on this project has gone on all month and it still isn’t finished.  I think I will cry with joy the day these repairs (including the face-lift I’m giving it) are completed and we can put her in the water.