March 2010

One thing about having a teak interrior to your boat is that it’s beautiful. Beautifully annoying that is. Although it’s nice to look at and adds character to the boat it takes rediculous amounts of time to maintain. Unfortunatley it’s not a wash-and-go surface. And it’s not that it’s a difficult project, in fact it’s amazingly easy. Wash with bleach water, clear off with clean water, rub down with teak oil, and wipe off the excess. I don’t know how it could get any more simple. This is a project I could ask my six year old cousin to do, but I won’t. The real pain of it all is that it’s so excruciatingly tedious. Work on one section, move a foot to your right. Work on that section, move a foot to your right. Repeat, repeat, repeat. And it’s not just the walls that are teak. Oh how I wish it were just the walls. It’s also the boards under the sette, the cupboards, the trim, and basically everything from eye level down on the boat. This required a lot of bending, twisting, and general acrobatics to reach spots, especially in the aft cabin. I’m pretty sure the people from Cirque du Soliel will me calling me soon to offer me a position. Luckily the whole bleach and rinse process only needs to be done every 1-2 years, so now I can forget about it for a looong time. The oiling will need to be done every few months, but since it’s only 1/3 of the process it won’t be so bad.

On a side note, let me publicly state that, yes Matt, you were right about the importance of wearing rubber gloves while working with bleach water. I had decided to take mine off after ten minutes working because they kept sliding down my hands and the walls were being washed with paper towel that was being blocked by nubs of rubber glove. But then it only tooke me fifteen minutes with the gloves off before my fingers started to crack and bleed. I was warned, but stupid (unexperienced?) enough not to listen. The gloves went back on. Matt, I promise I will listen to you more. Maybe.

With Matt still doing most of the work on the boat on Fridays with me not there, I can’t account for much else that has gone on this month. I tried to get him to dictate to me all the fun he had while I was gone, but that wasn’t going to happen. There is, however, a list of all the projects he has completed und the Projects tab if you’re curious.

So that’s it for now. After Easter has passed, Eldean’s will be open on Sundays, so we’ll be out here together a lot more and getting her ready to go in the water hopefully mid-May. Oh, and in my previous passage I had stated that I would never have any fun out here until Serendipity was in the water, but on a sunny and pleasant Saturday when Matt and I were out here he deemed me usless for a few hours (there really was zero for me to do), and I was able to enjoy a nice stroll out to the Holland light house. I really hope I’ll be able to prove myself wrong again.

February 2010

Now that we’ve had the boat for a little over a month, Matt has been at it every chance he gets. Since Eldean’s is only open Monday-Saturday on the off season we don’t get to go on Sundays, but Matt has been there every Friday on his day off work. The nine days we spent in Arizona visiting my parents at the end of January almost killed him because it was two Fridays on the boat he had to give up. I was always astonished when he would come home from a full day of working on the boat and complain that he’d got nothing done, even though he’d spent a whole eight hours on it each time. With me working Monday-Friday and not knowing enough of what to do by myself on a Saturday, I had only been to the boat with Matt once when I had taken a Friday off.

I thought I was going to be on easy street that day, sleeping in a little, and just admiring my boat while maybe moving around a few things and wiping down a surface here and there. There are a few things I underestimated this day. One is how cushy my job actually is. I thought I’d be leaving a rough day of work behind when in actuality all I do is show up at 10 am, sort the mail, answer a few phone calls, and just generally lounge around for the rest of my five hours (No one at work is reading this, right? I didn’t just make myself completely dispensable?). The other thing I underestimated is that a day of work on the boat (especially in February) would be either easy or enjoyable. Or that I would get to sleep in any more than normal.

Promptly at 9:00 (30 minutes before I normally leave for work) we were on the road for the 45 minute journey to Holland. When we arrived I had been under the impression that I was going to be an extra set of hands that day, meaning I’d basically follow around Matt, hand him a screwdriver if he needed it, and mostly just watch and learn while he worked. I quickly found out this was not true as he started ordering me (nicely) to get to work on something, anything, to make myself useful. I looked around, not really knowing what to do, as Matt went to work on electrics. I think my little scheme of ‘pretending to do something’ only lasted about 10 minutes before Matt realized I was clueless and sat me down with a real project of my own. We worked like this, separately, for a few hours before I remembered another thing about Matt. The boy will not break for anything. He can work a solid six hours without stopping and not give it a second thought. This, along with the fact that he can also go an entire day without eating and was working in just a t-shirt and jeans in the ridiculously chilly storage unit, only contributes to my belief that he is not actually human but an alien brought here by some far away galaxy and left to study the wonders of our world. He always tells me no, but I think that’s part of the plot.

After four hours of me being cold, hungry, and already exhausted I begged Matt for us to take a lunch break. I was so excited to have a meal on the new boat, even if the meal wasn’t actually being cooked on it. I had envisioned us setting up the table in the salon, lounging on large comfortable seats in an environment that slightly resembled a weekend cottage. Basically everything I couldn’t do in the Hunter. (I think I over romanticize my luxe life on this boat sometimes) But oh no. Work driven alien-Matt gave us 10 minutes to eat our pb&j’s while chugging our cans of Coke up on deck before it was time to get busy again. For the second time that day, my dreams had been smushed. Not that Matt was being unreasonable in his demands for me to work long and hard, but man oh man was it tough for me to go straight from the laid back days I was used to right into a long day of laboring work. I had to hand it to him, though, for all the days he was out there himself doing this.

Getting in a few more hours of work in after lunch was a bit easier for me. I was fed and slightly rested (I never thought such a big boat could still have so many small places to crawl and bend into), but I was still freezing my butt off. It didn’t matter if I was working on deck or in the cabin, I was still shivering in my jeans, sweater, and winter coat. Matt said it was supposedly 60 degrees in there but I swear it must have been 40. What was even worse is we had to work with our shoes off as not to scuff up the surfaces, and my cheap grunge socks were not doing enough to keep my feet warm against the cold uninsulated surfaces of the boat. 5:00 could not come fast enough.

Somehow I managed to make it through the rest of the day without dying of exhaustion or exposure, and completely ready for a beer when I got home. Although I did learn one very important lesson that day, and it is this: until Serendipity is put in the water, any visit to her before that point, however rewarding in the end, will in no means or in any sense, be fun. It is going to be a LOT of hard work and hardship. I just have to remind myself that in four months I’ll be able to enjoy all of our hard work, and I think I can do that.

January 2010

We did it!! As of yesterday afternoon we are the proud owners of a 1989 Sabre 34 Targa named Serendipity. The boat is gorgeous and I’m so excited to have it. What a step up from the Hunter! There’s enough headroom in the cabin for me to stand up, and a fully enclosed head so there won’t be any more accidents of falling off the porta-potty and through the ‘barely hiding you’ curtains in rough water (sorry, dad). This also means that there will actually be space to move around below deck without getting in the way of another person, or the one bag that was brought on board with that day’s lunch and other necessities. There is a full galley so now I can do more than just heat up canned soup, and there are even 3 sinks that actually spit out water. There are multiple places to sleep, and places where you can just sit and enjoy yourself without feeling like your in a rocking cave (my thoughts, not Matt’s).

I don’t want this to sound like a bashing of the Hunter, it was a great starter boat and we had some really good times on it. But moving up to the Sabre was like going from a tent in a rustic campground with water pumps and outhouses to a fully loaded RV at a lush RV resort. Ok, maybe not that big of a step, but it feels like it to me. This is a whole other world where I will want to spend time in the cabin as opposed to just the cockpit, and Matt won’t have to beg me to spend entire weekends on it without going home in the evening for a decent nights sleep. There are visions of taking her out for one or even two week excursions on Lake Michigan because now we can actually do that! (Although it would have been possible to do that in the Hunter, and people have crossed much larger bodies of water in much smaller boats, there was no way I was going to leave myself in that little thing in the middle of Lake Michigan should a storm come up) Matt and I had been talking about going to Milwaukee on a boat for quite some time, and even made plans with friends to do so in Serendipity before she was even purchased. Yes, the possibilities now seem endless.

That’s not to say we can just turn her key this spring and she’ll be ready to go. Despite the fact that the previous owners (the most recent one in particular) kept the boat in wonderful condition and with a million spare parts, there is still a lot of work we will need to complete before she’s ready to go in the water. Luckily this winter, and just about every one before, she’s being kept in a heated storage facility at Eldean’s in Holland, and that means we’ll have full access to work on her all through the winter and spring. The not so nice part about it? The price tag that comes with heated storage at one of the best marina’s in West Michigan. Ouch. We only had to pay half of the $2,800 fee since we didn’t become owners until half way through the winter, but what a way to start owning a more luxurious boat. I can already tell that this is going to eat up a lot more of our time and money than the Hunter ever could. One thing is for sure though, and I could tell this from the moment I first stepped on her,….. I’ve got a breathtaking new cabin on the lake!!

*If you want to see photos of our old Hunter 240, check them out here.


Welcome to Matt & Jessica’s sailing page.  We are a couple of Michiganders who two years ago had never been aboard a sailboat, but decided to take it up as a hobby.  Although that’s putting it lightly for my husband Matt. For him, it’s an obsession.

For the past 10 years that Matt and I have been together he’ll go through phases of different hobbies/obssesion. Ranging from rally cars, watches, and real estate, sailing has become the latest and hopefully permanent one. It started in late summer of 2007 while on the shores of Lake Michigan.  Matt would look at the sailboats on the water and comment on how he’d like to try that someday.  I didn’t pay too much attention, because of course, there was another hobby at hand at the moment.  Still, every time we were at the beach he’d gaze longingly at the boats dotting the horizon.  Come winter though, there were no beaches, no boats, and the subject slowly died.   We turned out interest to Matt’s newest engrossment, buying property in northern Michigan and building a small pod home or prefabricated cabin.  The whole winter was spent searching for properties and cabin designs.  We had even narrowed it down to a few designs and certain locations when out of nowhere Matt asked, “We can either get a piece of property or spend the money to get a sailboat, which do you think would be best?”.  I hadn’t known the sailboat might even come back into the equation, so the question took me a little by surprise.  And Matt was not going to let me off the hook with saying ‘I don’t know, whatever you want to do’, so we sat down to weigh the pros and cons of both.  Eventually we decided that although the cabin would give us year-round access where we could only use the boat in the summer, that we would rather spend our summers on the water with constant activity and enjoyment than every other weekend in a 400 sq ft cabin on barren land.

Once the decision was made, Matt dove into his new obsession by scouring the internet for boats up for sale, and which ones would best fit our need.  In the end though, we did what we had done with our house and most of our cars, which is to buy the first one we actually see in person.  It was August 2008 and we had driven about 45 minutes south to Battle Creek to see a 1998 Hunter 240.  It was in pretty good condition, was a great beginner boat, and the price was right.  So after taking a sailing lesson the following day (different boat, different town) to make sure it was something we liked, we put an offer on the Hunter and it was accepted.

Within a week we had the boat up to Muskegon where we had purchased a mooring at Torresen Marine.  With the exception of bumping into about 6 other boats on our first time out of the channel (we literally had to have a guy passing by jump in our boat to save us), we had a wonderful two and a half months (thank you Indian Summer) learning and loving the sport of sailing on Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan.  Scratch that, we also hit 4-5 boats in the channel again taking our boat out of the water for the year.  We learned to put in and take out at a different location the following year.

So that is the story of how we came into sailing.  Follow our new adventures and mishaps as we just purchased a new (to us) Sabre 34 Targa over the winter.  And keep an eye out for us. We’ll probably be the only boat on the water with a greyhound aboard and blasting techno music from our speakers.