Uncharted Territory

Steve and I are no longer employees.

In our 29 year history, he’s always had a job and I’ve sometimes had a job in addition to “mom”. We just finished our last two week commitment to Seaborne Airlines and soon he will join me on Always to begin the next chapter of our adventures.

Seaborne Twin Otter, Christainsted Harbor

It will be a unique experience. We have friends dropping aboard; after that, we have no time constraints other than those imposed by tide and weather. The boat is self-sufficient for water and power. Other than a diesel, LP and grocery top off, we can avoid marinas and crowds for quite awhile.

I’m looking forward to sleeping until I’m not tired, swimming in the clear ocean when I’m hot, hopefully fresh fish on occasion, time to read and write, and listening to Steve play guitar. And I’m excited to see what Steve does when he doesn’t have to do anything!

I’d be lying if I said “I’ll miss Seaborne”. I WILL miss the pilots and flying the Twin Otter, a great platform and perfect for the task. I met some very special people on both islands and look forward to coming back on Always for the promised sails. I will not miss the lack of management and support that allows the seaplane bases to deteriorate. I hope the promised improvements come soon for all that remain.

Going away party at Castaways-eventually I’ll miss the Pickle Backs!
Castaways’ #5 wings-can’t miss something I never had but don’t think these guys will either!

I’m glad we postponed our other plans for a year to experience St Croix and fly the Twin Otter. I appreciate being so welcomed and hope our paths cross again many times!

Safe travels,


The move onboard is complete!

Remember in last post how I laid out this 6 step plan to efficiently prep and move onboard? The actual process went differently…

Clean-I actually was able to do a lot of cleaning before gear came on board so checklist item #1-complete!

Salon cupboard (water pump and accumulator plus lots of empty space)

And step #2 was to evaluate the spaces so I’m counting that complete also; however, the existing mountain of bins were mostly for the 1160 and the 1260 is just a little bit bigger. I made adjustments but I might be making them for awhile…

The great galley bin shuffle!

In order, next steps were: boat gear, galley, beds and clothes…

In the end, clothes came first. We are living aboard now so we grabbed our bags from the camper and stuffed them in our bedroom. The guitars are still looking for their “spot” but they float from the small bedroom to our bed when guests are onboard. So last step became first here.

Next, we finished installing the air conditioning covers in both forward staterooms; so after I cleaned up, I made the beds. We needed a place to sleep and our daughter was coming and I wanted her room ready.

Well, we are living onboard so food would be nice…we empty the camper, buy fresh stores and I sort and store all the galley gear.

Spices and coffee
Staples, tea, instant caffeine
Inside the freezer

The remaining cupboards have dishes, pots, pans, baggies, cooking stuff and deep storage pantry refill stuff.

Last came the boat stuff. With a new boat, this “category” was woefully small. The good news is that space is available as we slowly accumulate all the spare parts, special tools and offshore gear that came with a used boat.

The “library”, systems manuals, part bins

All the boat stuff is stored amidship in the port hull. There are also lower cabinets outboard for larger bins which contain saws, drills, bolt cutters and other tools that aren’t needed often. Since the cabinet in the head has the water maker, the lower cabinet closest to the head has extra toiletries and the first aid kit.

So that’s it! In the end, it all came aboard, just not as I planned. What was duplicated or didn’t fit went back to storage.

Next, we are outfitting for crossing the Gulf Stream, headed to The Bahamas!

Safe travels,


Moving onto a boat

We will be moving onto our boat in the next few weeks. Tomorrow some final commissioning work begins but I’m already mentally lining up the tasks required to get aboard efficiently.

After 17 years planted on our ranch, we have moved into, and out of, 10 living arrangements in the past 3 years. Our lives have been in flux for all this time in order to take advantage of opportunities that were presented. Some pack ups were more involved than others but each one is now contributing to the move onto our boat. I am always trying to anticipate what I’ll need next so there has been a lot of storage, discarding and repurposing of our possessions.

All these moves have led to a “Marie Kondo” mountain of items that need to now fit onto a 41′ catamaran.

Not shown are 3 large duffles with clothes and pots/pans and 2 more yellow lidded bins

The good news is that not all of this stuff will end up on board!

So here is my mental list of how this will happen:

    CLEAN everywhere. On this new boat, I’ll mainly be getting all the remnants from the construction but I also did this on the used boats we’ve owned. Pull EVERYTHING out and OFF the boat. I then go top to bottom in each section of the boat and use a mini vac to suction up all the grit/hair/gunk hidden in the corners. Whatever doesn’t come up with the vacuum then gets attacked with rag and spray. Simple Green or LA Awesome cleaners both work well, don’t seem to hurt the fiberglass or leave a film and smell pleasant to me. After this step, I know that if I reach into a corner and find something gross, it’s at least OUR gunk and not some unknown past nastiness. I also know that all those bits won’t end up clogging my bilge pump.
    While cleaning, I also get a feel for each space and imagine its use and how I will store things in it. I now have a fairly extensive collection of variously sized containers, bins, shelves, etc. (from all those moves…). This step involves figuring out what best fills the space, contains the items but keeps them accessible because on a boat every cupboard is usually a different size. If nothing I currently have fits well, and it’s in the budget, I will go to Target or Wal-Mart and buy a bunch of stuff that might work. I keep what does and return the rest.
    Move the BOAT gear on first. Working with Steve, I put on all the safety gear, tools, consumables and equipment r maintenance of the boat. ALL of this finds a home first. I will keep “types” of things together so that if we are doing a boat project, all the items to do that job will be in the same area. For this boat, all the boat gear will be port amidship.
    I next bring the galley aboard. I’ll fit everything into the cupboards but at least the upper cupboards are nearly square. As best we can, we buy minimally packaged goods but just about everything is removed from packaging and put into clear containers. This is very important to avoid bringing aboard insects in the cardboard. This boat has a good sized galley amidships in the starboard hull.
    I make all the beds. I like the finished look in the unused rooms. Also, sheets and blankets can be washed; those boat covers can…but it is very difficult to get them off and back on. By covering them, I hope to keep the salt encrusting to a minimum. We only occasionally store things on the beds and usually only while sailing (the 1160 salon windows were usually laid on the aft starboard bunk but I also have a waterproof table cloth on top of the bedding). I also like the idea that the rooms are ready for guests and I don’t have a cluttered mess on my side while making room for them.
    Last is our personal clothes. I only use our stateroom. The other storage areas in the other staterooms remain empty for guests.
Some of the bin collection

Bottom line is that if it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t go. I’ve seen numerous cruising boats with LOTS of gear, knick knacks and books sitting out. I’ve been there. When we lived aboard with babies, it was at least an hour of stowing toys, books, kitchen knives, etc before we could drop lines to sail. On this boat, I intend to have very little sitting out. In a pitch pole situation, everything not secure becomes a projectile.

That’s the plan. I’ll let you know how I do!

Stepping Onboard for the First Time…

All the trappings of the Miami Boat Show were being disassembled, crated and prepped for removal. I’d arrived too late to be onboard for the demo sail so waited at Whiskey Joe’s for my broker to show me Always. As we maneuver through trucks, forklifts and people, I’m scanning the docks to find MY mast and MY boat and then, there she is, at the end of the dock.

She’s a beautiful boat….but…

She was just a boat. There were dirty rub marks on her side, little bits of construction detritus in cupboards and scattered remnants of bags and boxes left over from installation. She has all her equipment onboard and the mattresses and cushions are in place but she seemed an empty shell…

Then I realized she IS empty. She is waiting to be filled with our life and reflect our personalities, to reflect to others the values we have. She will begin to pick up our style as we bring our life onboard. She is the book binding that is waiting for our story to be written in her. I’m hoping it will be an interesting tale, one I’d like to read if I wasn’t one of the characters.

The next morning Always is being driven north to complete her commissioning. I arrived about an hour before the captain is due just so I can begin our introductions. I ensure there is oil in the engines, check belt tension and fuel levels; on the fore deck, I close and latch all the hatches, tuck the unused outboard fenders into the lazerette then begin wrapping up all the sheets, halyards and other lines correctly. When the Captain is ready, I step ashore and undo the lines. And then I see it! It’s just a quick flash of her name, but that’s when I see a glimpse of the boat she will become with us!

I think it’s going to be quite an adventure!

Lucky 13!

Yesterday our mast was rigged and our boat went on a demo sail with potential buyers onboard. Steve and I were not able to be there and our broker kindly sent a picture of the hoisted mainsail.

I was so pleasantly surprised!

The letters and numbers identify key information of the boat. SW1260 is for Seawind 1260 (12.60 meters-41 ft) and the last two numbers-13!-means we have the 13th hull in the line.

It’s no small thing that 13 was my lucky jersey number in high school. A series of events that I could not have anticipated began with playing soccer wearing lucky 13.

When soccer first came to my small MO town, girls were not allowed to play but there were coaches that encouraged little sisters to practice with their brothers’ teams. As a result, when the girls’ county league finally formed 3 years later, I was used to playing with faster, aggressive players. My family moved my senior year of high school and I was a “walk on” to the high school team, became team captain and was noticed by a university coach who was in the stands to see a player on the other team. She apparently was an unstoppable scoring right wing forward. I usually played left wing forward but due to injuries on my team had been pulled back to left wing fullback. She never got off a shot and I was recruited instead. I ended up going to that university, lettered as a freshman and with that included in my resume finally got into the Naval Academy.

…which led to sailing…which led to Steve…which led to this boat…

Lucky 13 indeed!