Reflections of a One-year Sailboat Owner

Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of this blog. Just over one year ago, August 23, 2012, Cindy and I signed the dotted line making Beatitude ours. September 21, 2012, we brought her into her slip at Regatta Pointe. December 28, 2012, we closed on our home, having sold most of what we possessed and began to live full-time on a sailboat. We purchased Beatitude with dreams of sailing off into the sunset and exploring the world (Perhaps, Cindy’s plans were not quite as large, but they have grown larger). How do we feel about our decision now? The other day, after spending most of the day working on the starboard heads (toilets), gagging and vomiting, not really solving any problems while creating a few more, Jim (my trusty boat repair person) asked, “So, how do you like living on a boat now?”

The mix of hoses draining from the toilets into the holding tank and the vent line.

The mix of hoses draining from the toilets into the holding tank and the vent line.

A look at one portion of our starboard bilge.  A little intimidating to the uninitiated.

A look at one portion of our starboard bilge. A little intimidating to the uninitiated.

And the answer is… I’m as excited as ever. While knowing that living and cruising on a sailboat provides so much beauty and relaxation, I never suffered under any delusions that it would not present its own challenges and its share of hard work. I’ve spent a few hours over the last couple of days pouring over Jimmy Cornell’s World Cruising Routes and World Cruising Destinations planning and dreaming of all the wonderful places to visit. I was thinking how we might take three years or so to explore the Pacific, crossing the Panama Canal, making our way to the Galapagos Islands, the many Islands of the South Pacific, New Zealand, Australia, perhaps Japan, the islands of the North Pacific, Hawaii, and finally making our way to Alaska from which we will work our way south along the U.S. west coast. Then, perhaps, we’ll take three or more years to cruise the Atlantic. We may make our way up the east coast of the U.S., head to Bermuda, the Azores, the Mediterranean countries rich with history (Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Egypt), perhaps even the North Atlantic before making our way back through the Canary islands and on to the Caribbean. Visits to South Africa and South America are also possibilities.

Discounting some unforeseen circumstance, God willing, this dream awaits us. Waiting is a difficult thing. On one hand, the past year has flown by, on the other we still have sixteen plus months left before Beatitude becomes a ship without a home port. In the meantime, we live on a sailboat in a marina. I drive an hour to and from work four days a week, which is not ideal, but certainly not all that uncommon. And, I am quite happy with this lifestyle. I love living on the water surrounded with beautiful scenery, serenaded by beautiful sunsets almost daily. I love being able to welcome family and friends on board and take them on brief sailing adventures. I love spending time with my wife. In our former home, in order to speak with each other, the easiest thing was to call on the cell phone, because we couldn’t find each other or couldn’t hear each other in our house. While some couples may not fare well being confined to smaller spaces with their spouse, I find it quite enjoyable. I still feel “supremely blessed.”

Among the pleasures of sailboat living.

Among the pleasures of sailboat living.

I’ve also become quite a bit more comfortable with the nuts and bolts of living on, maintaining, and sailing Beatitude. Despite reading all I could prior to buying Beatitude, I was quite overwhelmed with it all at first. I still have an awful long way to go, but my knowledge base has increased considerably over the past year. We have a number of repairs and upgrades we need to carry out over the next sixteen months. Some we have already accomplished, such as the acquisition and installation of new trampolines. As time moves on, an increasing sense of urgency compels us to plan more earnestly and work more deliberately.

One year into this adventure, I am happy with our boat choice. Cindy and I both love the space and openness of the catamaran. It would have been nice to have bought a new one, but, given our budget, we both think it was the right thing to do to buy a 42′ 2007 model instead of a brand new 38′-39′ model. We’ve discovered a few things that needed repaired that we didn’t know about when we bought the boat, but I think that would be the case with the purchase of any used boat. Most importantly, Beatitude feels like home. I miss her and am not comfortable when I sleep elsewhere.

I also feel good about our choice to live out the two years before cruising at Regatta Pointe. We had looked at several in the Tampa Bay area. For cost, location, amenities, and convenience, we felt Regatta Pointe to be a wise choice. We still feel that way. We’ve made a number of friends, some of which have already left on cruising adventures of their own, some soon to do so, others dreaming of doing so. Perhaps, we’ll meet up with all of them someday in some exotic place.

Ships are the nearest things to dreams that hands have ever made.” – Robert N. Rose

New Trampolines

When we bought Beatitude, almost one year ago, the surveyor observed that our trampolines would most likely need to be replaced with the next year. How right he was! You may recall that the day we returned from our six-day adventure, I fell through our port-side trampoline. The elements, especially the UV exposure from the sun, over 6 or 7 years have taken their toll on both trampolines. Ripping a big hole in one of the two was the impetus for ordering new ones.

My near descent into the marina waters through the trampoline

My near descent into the marina waters through the trampoline

Decisions, decisions! There are a number of options when buying trampolines for a catamaran. There are web nets made of 1-2″ strapping material, mesh nets, and open nets. These nets come in various degrees of “openness” and in various materials and colors. Our previous nets were open nets with a rather low degree of openness (the amount of open space one sees when looking down at the nets). Cindy and I decided to go with open netting once again, but increased the openness of the nets. We also went for a “pacific blue” color, instead of the white of the former trampolines.

The trampolines came in the day after Cindy left for Ohio for 2+ weeks to visit family. I’ve spent significant chunks of my spare time since then, attempting to install them. I took pictures of the old before removing them as a guide. Unfortunately, the trampolines do not come with installation instructions, so basically one just has to wing it. And wing it, I’ve done. (I tried to call the maker of the trampolines for advice, but the only person there who knows anything about it is on vacation for a couple of weeks. Oh well!). After several trips to West Marine and Lowe’s to gather materials, I dove in.

The Original (Starboard side)

The Original (Starboard side)

Port trampoline partially removed

Port trampoline partially removed

The old and new side by side on deck

The old and new side by side on deck

The new port trampoline ready to be installed.

The new port trampoline ready to be installed.

At this time, the trampolines are mostly installed. I still need to tighten them a little bit and secure all knots. I’m a little concerned the starboard tramp seems a little smaller than the port tramp, but I’m hoping that I just need to stretch it more. We’ll see.

Installation nearly complete except for some additional tightening and securing the knots.

Installation nearly complete except for some additional tightening and securing the knots.

Both trampolines in place.

Both trampolines in place.

The Marshes – Part 2 of 2

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After spending a calm night at anchor, we awoke to have breakfast and headed over to the De Soto National Memorial. After the quick dinghy ride to shore we walked the trails of the park and explored the memorial. There is a quite good video (in a welcomed air-conditioned room) which chronicles the history of Hernando De Soto’s arrival in Florida and his 4 year, 4000 mile trek through the southeastern United States in search of gold and riches. Unfortunately for De Soto (and his crew) his expedition never found the gold for which he sought. De Soto, himself, did not survive the expedition, but died of a febrile illness.

Andrew the Conquistador

Andrew the Conquistador

Andrew did not climb this Gumbo Limbo tree (your eyes are obviously deceiving you).

Andrew did not climb this Gumbo Limbo tree (your eyes are obviously deceiving you).

The Holy Eucharist Monument honoring the Catholic priests who accompanied the explorers

The Holy Eucharist Monument honoring the Catholic priests who accompanied the explorers

Our routine was interrupted by the unexpected as we were asked to come to the aid of a fellow boater. Another sailboat in the anchorage was experiencing difficulty. Their anchor had dragged and they were extremely close to another vessel which was tied to a mooring ball in the anchorage. In an effort to pull up anchor and avoid hitting that vessel, the prop of the engine somehow became entangled in the line from the mooring ball. The line wrapped around the prop and the boat could not move.

I entered the picture because I had scuba equipment on my boat. This is already the second time that having a full set of scuba equipment has saved the day (The first being when I wrapped a dock line around the prop of my port engine… you may remember that story). I hurried to Beatitude and picked up my scuba gear and tank and took them over to the other boat. The captain of the other vessel donned the gear and made his way into the water. A little while later he emerged triumphantly from the water with his vessel cut free from the line.

To the aid of a sailor in need

Operation Sever the Mooring Line

Operation Sever the Mooring Line

It was a nice feeling being able to help a fellow sailor. I am certain that I will stand in need of assistance on multiple occasions in the future. I trust that someone will be there to come to my rescue. Sailors and cruisers are among the most helpful people you’ll meet. Most stand ready to offer whatever assistance is necessary, since they have already or will need similar assistance in the future.

After that little bit of excitement, we had lunch and made our way back to the marina. We docked Beatitude without issue (I’m sure my neighbors are missing our previous displays of incompetence at docking). Beatitude received a thorough cleansing and our two day sailing adventure was done.

Summer Showers in Florida.  Sometimes there IS a black cloud following you around.

Summer Showers in Florida. Sometimes there IS a black cloud following you around.

The Osprey in flight from our mast after shaking the shrouds