It’s the Journey Together

Someone told me that our blog is easy to follow because I post a new message every three years. What an exaggeration! Well Bubs, challenge accepted. Game on.

Since I last posted we haven’t been idle although the 2014 sailing season was a mixed bag. On the one hand it was sad because we never put Halcyon in the water. On the other hand it was exciting because we began making plans for Next Boat. On the other other hand, John and I met some very interesting people and had a few fun adventures.

Beginning in March of this year John worked out of town so often and anticipated having to work out of town in the foreseeable future so we decided to delay our normal April-ish splash date. April came and went. June came and went. All the while John spent more time out of town than he spent at home. In July he spent a few weeks in Italy. When August rolled around with more out of town jobs scheduled we decided to bag the season. We usually pull the boat out of the water at the end of October anyway so we just couldn’t justify the cost of putting it in the water just to turn around and pay to have it hauled in three months for the few times we would actually sail. So instead of gathering barnacles in the water, she sat in the yard.

John’s schedule this year did cause me to seriously consider single handing. Until now I never really thought about taking the boat out by myself beyond being prepared to handle it if there was an emergency. But darned if I want to have another season like this one completely reliant upon other sailors taking pity on me! Although I greatly appreciated the times I did get to sail on other people’s boats, it just wasn’t the same as being on Halcyon.

So that brings me to Next Boat. Our friends have been hearing about Next Boat for over a year now but posting about it here makes it seem more solid. Like a commitment.

We love Halcyon. It’s the perfect boat for the sailing we do right now and the perfect boat for where we sail right now. We don’t regret our choice. I am a firm believer in buying the boat you will use now, not ten years from now. However (and I’m going to blame John for allowing my dream to hatch and begin to grow into a goal), we started to seriously think about the world beyond the Chesapeake Bay. A world where Halcyon would not be the best choice of boats.

The seed rattled around my head while on Melissa’s boat, settled down a bit after experiencing the strong cruising community in St. Augustine, but became firmly planted when last fall we attended the Seven Seas Cruising Association Annapolis Gam. Before then I sort of felt like I was being indulged while waiting for the notion to blow over. Beth Leonard and her husband Evans Starzinger are cruisers. Their custom-built expedition boat Hawk (currently for sale) has taken them to some extremely remote locations. Beth Leonard provided a great presentation and talked about their boat and the many places they sailed. She spoke about building Hawk to suit their high latitude cruising needs. At one point when yet another slide flashed showing a South American anchorage in which Hawk was the sole boat, I heard John mutter “I’d like to do that.” Then I won a signed copy of her book in the raffle. It was a sign.

For the most part I make our plans and John just wants to know the date, time, and what he should wear. Rarely does he initiate an outing. I believe the last time was about six years ago when he wanted to go to a national park in Virginia. When he casually says that he would like us to do something that’s the same as another person putting it on a billboard and declaring their plans to the cars that pass by.

I jumped on those mumbled words and was off to the races doing more research. I made a list of places to which we could sail and I read books and blogs of cruisers who were sailing to those places. I read history books with more on the piles. I asked questions. I made more lists: Boat lists, training lists, equipment lists, lists of questions still to be answered, lists of lists. I added to my project plan.

For the most part I researched Next Boat alone. We first considered a production boat. Since we’re familiar with Catalina, the company, the great owner support, I thought we’d buy a larger Catalina and refit it for our needs. Then my brain came on line. Why not take the money we would spend to refit a boat that is not designed to go where we might want to go and instead buy a boat designed for our needs? Simple right? Trust me to find our “perfect” boat…and there are only two for sale on the U.S. east coast that I can locate. And I’ve looked. AND, since I found those two, one sold about a month later.

I kept this boat under wraps from John for a long time before I finally decided he needed to know. Especially since it will cost considerably more than Halcyon. I am sure this will be our last boat. I spent a month preparing a list of pros and cons. I listed the things that frustrate him about Halcyon and how those things are addressed on Next Boat in a way he’ll love. I studied line drawings and wrote down how the systems are well laid out and well planned. Then I came up with the genius idea of turning the information into a slide presentation. One day while he was already sitting preparing to watch the baseball game I connected my iPad to the TV before I lost my nerve. I made ready a YouTube video presented by Yachting World. Thinking that I should get the cost of the boat over with immediately, that was my first slide. After showing the first slide, butterflies in my stomach, I told him that the rest of the presentation was in support of my decision and his response:

“Why don’t we just buy a new one?”

…absolutely floored me. I knew how much a new, semi-custom factory built boat would cost. Even I wasn’t prepared for that expense. After working myself up over this for the past month, I made him sit there and look at my presentation.

Our journey officially began when John and I both had a chance to crawl around one of the boats for sale that happened to be about three hours away. I enlisted a sailing friend while John was in Italy and we went to see it together. Ken and his wife Kathy have since become friends and Ken is following in our wake as potential crew. The two of us opened every storage compartment, looked at the engine and all that was connected to it, figured out how to connect the emergency tiller (which is an odd one), poked and prodded. The quality of the woodwork was extraordinary. It was solid wood. After we finished inside and on deck we climbed down and I stood staring at the blue bottom paint like a besotted fool. I went home and made notes to report back to John, who, when he finally got on the boat fell in love, too. OK. Maybe not love, yet, but he agreed with my assessment. I’m sure love will happen very, very soon.

We’re still discussing that particular boat while weighing our options in Europe. Just in case, we are preparing for the possibility that we end up buying and sailing Next Boat home from any number of European countries where used ones are for sale.  The one in Turkey falls off the bottom of the list periodically depending on how Turkey is acting on any particular day. “It will be an adventure” John says. Because each one is semi-custom from the factory no two are exactly alike. Not major differences, but enough to make us carefully consider those differences. We still haven’t decided on the length. In case something happens to one of us, the other must be comfortable sailing it alone. That’s not negotiable. Too large and not only does the initial cost go up but so does the maintenance and storage costs.

In the meantime we still have Halcyon to sail, to learn on, to push our envelopes in protected waters, and most importantly to make more memories.

Shrimp Boats

4 Responses to “It’s the Journey Together”

  1. Britt Says:

    Nice Donna and John have fun!

  2. Joe Rutolo Says:

    Great story. I can just picture some of those conversations. Best wishes for your Next Adventure.

  3. Bubs Says:

    I do tend to exaggerate a bit, but thanks for the update 😉

  4. bljones Says:

    I can’t wait for you to pull the trigger.

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