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.

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.


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.