Newport, RI

While Connecticut was sweltering through another heat wave, we were in the coolest spot in the area – Block Island.  After enjoying a few days of lovely temperatures and nice breezes, we decided to head to Newport on Thursday, September 6th.  We would have loved to stay another day, but we wanted to take advantage of the favorable winds given that Friday they would be on the nose.

We cast the line off the Shenny mooring ball and pointed Pegu Club towards Newport with 15-18 knot winds from behind.  Downwind is the slowest point of sail and we don’t have much experience with it, so we struggled a bit at first trying to find the sweet spot between getting some speed and aiming somewhat towards Newport.  After rigging up our preventer we finally settled in and jibed our way across Block Island Sound, pulling into Newport around 1:00 p.m.

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Troubleshooting our solar panels.

Perhaps the biggest “must do” task on our list before we left was making our bimini and installing solar panels.  While our 50 watt solar panel has kept up well over the past few years, we knew we would be demanding more from our electrical system when we cut the docklines.  We have minimal power requirements and weight is always a concern given Pegu Club’s size, so we decided to go with flexible solar panels.  While they aren’t as efficient or durable as hard panels, the weight savings alone (8 pounds for two that could be mounted directly on the bimini vs. 33 pounds plus a stainless frame for two hard panels) made it worth it to us.

We had ordered a bimini kit from Sailrite several months ago, and now it was time to get to work.  The kit came with the stainless steel tubes already bent, so all we needed to do was figure out what size we wanted the bimini to be, then cut them to the proper length.  Don’t let the simple description fool you into thinking that this was a quick process.  It most definitely wasn’t.  However, by the time we were finished cutting we had a bimini frame that Jeff could stand underneath, which made for a happy Jeff. 

Continue reading “Troubleshooting our solar panels.”

And we’re off!

After a solid month of working on the boat Every.  Single.  Day.  We finally cut the dock lines!

It’s a good thing I stopped working at the beginning of August, because if I hadn’t we likely would have been at Shenny until mid-October.  The to-do list on a boat is never finished, but there is a difference between “nice to do” and “must do.”  In our case, our “must do” list which was scribbled on a piece of paper had over thirty items on it, including finishing sewing the mainsail cover, making the bimini, and installing our battery monitor and solar panels (all future blog posts).  It felt like we would never get there, but finally – on Labor Day – we were ready to go! 

Continue reading “And we’re off!”

Installing our Monitor Windvane.

When Jeff and I went to the Annapolis boat show last fall, one of the major items we wanted to purchase was a windvane.  As long as there is wind, windvanes can steer a sailboat 24/7 without using any electricity.  Consistent with our “keep it simple” philosophy, we knew that it was the way to go for us.  All we needed to do was make a choice amongst the different types that are manufactured.  

By the time we flew down to the show we had done our research and decided to purchase a Hydrovane.  We went to their booth, checked it out, and spent some time talking to the rep.  However, before we pulled the trigger we thought we should do our due diligence and also look at the Monitor windvanes.  After looking at it and speaking to Mike Scheck (the President of Scanmar), we walked away with Jeff saying, “Well, I think the Hydrovane is the way to go.”  I looked at him and said, “I prefer the Monitor.”  Uh-oh.

Jeff and I have been married since 1999 and we have always agreed on big purchases.  At $5,000 this certainly qualified as a big purchase, but for the first time in our marriage we didn’t agree.  This was going to be interesting.

Continue reading “Installing our Monitor Windvane.”

Wow! It works! Installing the electric windlass (part 2 of 2).

Installing the windlass itself was only half of the job.  Now we needed to wire it.  It looked to be a daunting task based on the wiring schematic and our electrical skills, but fortunately we had friends at Shenny we could bounce things off of when we were stuck.

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Very basic for anyone with decent experience.  For us?  Not so much.

Some people install a separate battery in the bow of the boat to use exclusively for the windlass, but we didn’t want to add even more weight up there.   We figured the 38 gallon water tank, a 33 pound Rocna, and 125’ of 5/16” G4 chain plus 175’ of 8 plait rode was already enough.  That left us with running the wires back to our battery bank in the quarter berth.  Before we could do that, however, we needed to find homes for the up/down control switch, the reversing solenoid, a manually resettable breaker, and a breaker/isolator switch.

Continue reading “Wow! It works! Installing the electric windlass (part 2 of 2).”

Moving onto a 30 foot boat.

Imagine that you’ve decided to move onto a boat.  You don’t want to rent a storage unit, but you can leave a few boxes of priceless (to you) items with a relative to store in an attic.  Everything else has to go unless it’s coming on the boat.  Look around where you live.  Look at all of the furniture, the television, the desktop computer, the pictures on the wall.  It all has to go.  Now look again.  Notice all of the things that you didn’t even see the first time you looked around.  The floor lamps.  The end tables.  The shoe rack.  The umbrella stand.  The drying rack.  Yep.  That has to go too.  How in the world are you going to pull this off?

This is what we repeatedly asked ourselves in the weeks leading up to our move.  In fact, until a few days before we actually left, I wasn’t so sure that we COULD get rid of it all.  When we sold the house in February of last year, we rented a dumpster and got rid of a ton of stuff.  Somehow we still managed to have what felt like a half-ton of stuff.  I can’t imagine what this would have been like if we hadn’t already downsized once.

We sold things on CraigsList and Facebook.  I offered items to people at work.  The Goodwill employees practically knew our names.  We repeatedly filled the trash barrels.  Each day we put items on the curb.  And slowly but surely, we managed to get rid of it.  I knew we were making real progress when the rooms in the apartment began to have that distinctive empty room echo when we talked.

I lean towards minimalism so overall I really enjoyed getting rid of 99% of our stuff.  I know that some people have found similar processes difficult, but I thought it was incredibly freeing.  There is something to be said about being intentional about every single item you own.  We touched everything and made a decision whether to bring it with us or not.  Now, Pegu Club doesn’t have a thing on her that is superfluous or that doesn’t have a purpose – even if the purpose is simply to bring us joy.  Honestly, it’s the only way to make it work on a 30′ boat, but someday when we swallow the anchor we’ll definitely continue living like this.  It reminds me of when I packed everything I owned into my car and drove across the country.  It felt great then.  It feels even better now.

All Systems Go!

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Our plans to head off on the boat were put on hold when Jeff was diagnosed with congestive heart failure back in December.  His cardiologists had said that the next 1-2 years would be very important, and we thought the best we could do was to leave in the fall of 2019.  However, much to our delight when we were at the CHF clinic last Monday we received the go-ahead to cut the docklines next month!

Jeff had a cardiac ablation procedure four months ago which so far, knock on wood, has restored his heart back into rhythm (it’s not uncommon for atrial fibrillation to reoccur, even with an ablation).  Once he recovered from the procedure he immediately noticed an improvement in his energy.  Since then his ejection fraction (the amount of blood his heart pumps out of the ventricles with each contraction) has improved to 50-55% which puts him on the low edge of normal (it was 15-20% when he went into the hospital), so for now he doesn’t need an implanted defibrillator.   Continue reading “All Systems Go!”

An electric windlass on a Bristol 29.9? Why not?!

When Jeff was diagnosed with congestive heart failure we knew we would have to stray from our “keep it simple” principles when it came to our anchor setup.  Pre-CHF we planned to have a manual windlass (i.e. not powered by electricity) or perhaps go without one altogether.  After all, it wouldn’t be that difficult to raise a 22 pound Rocna anchor plus some chain by hand.  

With his diagnosis came lifting restrictions, so going without a windlass wasn’t going to cut it anymore.  I suppose if I had started seriously working on my pushups I could have raised the anchor by hand, but at 49 years old and aging every day, we decided that might not be the way to go.  The manual windlass also wasn’t ideal in case I was incapacitated and Jeff needed to use it by himself.  An electric windlass was clearly going to need to be installed.  But how to do it?  

Searching the internet, we couldn’t find any examples of Bristol 29.9’s with electric windlasses.  This may be because boats this size don’t typically need one, or it could have been that the relatively shallow anchor locker for the 29.9 wasn’t optimally designed for one.  No time like the present to give it a shot!

Continue reading “An electric windlass on a Bristol 29.9? Why not?!”

So did we do ANYTHING on the boat during my leave beside installing a VHF?

We were hoping to spend a lot of time sailing during my month off, but alas it was not to be.  Despite having four weeks off, between a delay in getting Pegu Club to Shenny, a trip to L.A. for my dad’s memorial service, multiple doctor appointments and cardiac rehab for Jeff, and a bad cold that I likely picked up on the flight back from L.A., we weren’t able to sail.  At. All.  

So if we weren’t sailing, what the heck did we do?  Well, we did bring Pegu Club back to Shenny on Tuesday, June 5th.  Pegu Club had been splashed the week before, but her sea trial revealed that the new propeller needed to be repitched.  Sam at Dutch Wharf did yeoman’s work getting the propeller back to us as quickly as possible, so at 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday, June 5th we were at Dutch Wharf and ready to go.  It was an ungodly hour, but we wanted to take advantage of a  favorable current, and hopefully get to Groton before the forecasted rain and thunderstorms.  It was a nice sunny morning without a speck of wind.  What better way to break in the engine??

Continue reading “So did we do ANYTHING on the boat during my leave beside installing a VHF?”

Leap and the net will appear.

About two weeks into my leave I looked at Jeff and said, “It’s interesting.  Nothing has changed.  You’re still sick, dad is still dead, but I feel So. Much. Better.”  There it was.  Incontrovertible proof.  It was the job.

I’ve worked as a municipal attorney for just over thirteen years.  The people I work with are great, but the work itself hasn’t been enjoyable for a number of years now.  It’s not that it’s a bad job.  Far from it.  I’m just bored.  I’m not passionate about it, and stepping away made it clear that I’ve been burned out for a very long time.

My dad was the Director of Communications for the Southern California Golf Association and a classic musical critic for Southern California newspaper publications.  After he died it was clear that his passion had an effect on many people.  He lived his life enjoying what he was doing, and I want to do the same thing.

What do I enjoy?  Spending time with Jeff.  Being outdoors.  Being on the water.  Being warm.  Wearing shorts and a t-shirt.  Being active.

What am I doing?  Wearing business casual clothes while sitting behind a desk in an office forty hours a week in a place that’s too cold for my taste for six months of every year.

So I quit.

Tomorrow I go back to work until Friday, August 3rd.  After that I’ll work part-time (Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday) if my boss needs me to, but only until Tuesday, September 4th.  At that point my lawyer days will be behind me.

What are we going to do?  Well, Jeff has improved enough over the past six months that his cardiologist said if he continues to do so we should leave in September as we had planned (flying or driving back for appointments every three months).  So we’re operating under the assumption that we’re cutting the docklines on September 5th.  We’re going to move out of the apartment and onto the boat at the end of July, and I’ll commute from Shenny for those last few weeks of work.  What if we can’t go in September?  We’ll find a studio apartment on the shoreline for six months and take off in the spring instead.

What am I going to do for work?  At the moment, nothing.  We’ve saved up a lot of money over the past few years as we’ve been preparing to leave.  If we have to stay for the winter I’ll probably pick up some part-time work (because why not?), but not in an office.  I’ll be perfectly content waitressing, bartending, working in a grocery store, whatever, for the winter.

I’d like to get my USCG Master Captain’s license, and if we are able to leave in the fall I’ll have enough sea time to be able to do that within the year.  That way if I do decide to go back to work in the future or we want to pick up some extra cash, I can do something within the marine industry – work as a boat captain, a launch operator, for Tow Boat, something like that.  I’ll be outside, on the water, warm, active, and wearing shorts and a t-shirt.  I’ll be doing something I’m passionate about.  And that’s all that matters.

Am I nervous about leaving a well-paying, full-time job with excellent benefits and a pension?  Hell yes!  But I know in my core that it’s the right thing to do.  I’ve taken risks in the past and I’ve always made it work out.  This time will be no different.

I read a quote from John Burroughs a few weeks ago that has stuck with me:  Leap and the net will appear.  I’ve leapt – and it feels so good.

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