Basic Keelboat Lessons

IMG_20150510_085442I have been hardcore slacking with my blog but I have good news to report! I have already taken 2 of the 4 days of my Basic Keelboat Class at the Halifax Sailing Association! Is there anything they can’t do? My instructor (Captain Morgan….I can’t make this stuff up) is awesome and so knowledgeable about sailing. He’s also unbelievably calm, which is exactly what I need when I’m freaking out. He’s like the human equivalent of Xanex and helps me realize that no one is dying, I haven’t sunk the boat and life is good. So far, I have motored in and out of the slip, motored to the dock, sailed to the dock, completed a million man overboard maneuvers and sailed for hours like it’s my job. I mention the motoring and docking stuff first because that is something I had never done before. As a proud ‘fraidy cat, I always turned down Ryan’s offers to let me try. I had built them up in my head to be the hardest, most complicated actions imaginable and now that I’ve done it…I’m all…”Oh, I just sailed to the dock….NBD”

Things that still suck:

-I’m a 90 lb weakling and have trouble with things like lowering the motor and pulling in the jib sheet or raising the main sail. Luckily, all of the liveaboard boats we are considering have inboard engines. As for being able to pull the lines? I guess I’ll just have to practice until my biceps are bulging.

-Now that I’m taking the necessary steps to become a monster sailor, Ryan and I have been trying to figure out our sail plan. When I started this blog, it seemed like we’d be taking off in the next 3-5 years but now we are considering taking longer to save enough to live off dividends. I see the practicality behind this option but it doesn’t make it any easier to imagine putting this off any longer! I’ve got a bit of a Veruca Salt devil on my shoulder saying “I want it now!!!!” Sigh. It doesn’t help that Ryan’s job has him in golden handcuffs and dangles things like “retirement” and “pension” in front of him.

I guess until we can take off for real, I’ll have to be content with sailing around here and planning relatively short travel adventures.


I need help!

After several years of denial, I have reached the conclusion that I need formal sailing lessons. We finally made it back to the Halifax Sailing Association for a lil after work sailing session and I realized the following: I rely on Ryan too much when sailing and then get frustrated when I don’t know how to help. I want to take sailing lessons, but I don’t want to start from scratch because I have taken beginner lessons before and it was soooo boring. Also, I have decided that I do not like sailing small boats….I don’t want to be drenched unless it’s raining or we’re trapped in an angry sea (hopefully not that often). I reached out to a sailing school not far from here, but they have yet to respond to my email. I dislike talking to people on the phone more than anything, but I really don’t enjoy the feeling that I’m doing to die at any moment on a sailboat, so I guess I’ll have to call them.

Anyone else have this experience? Anyone?? I feel like I’m a sailing failure!


20150331_120520Ya see that? That is the image that haunts my brain when I’m at work in my cube with no windows. Today, I couldn’t take it anymore and so for lunch, I made the quick trip over to the Halifax Sailing Association  just to stare at the sailboats and breathe in the fresh air. If I had planned ahead, I probably could have gotten in some Sunfish practice but, for today, it was just enough to be there for a little while. Our weekends are always so jam packed, it is hard to make the 30-45 minute drive to Daytona Beach to sail in between doing yard/house work, entertaining house guests, visiting with friends/family or volunteering for Surfrider. I’m going to start fitting in mini-trips to HSA when I can…lunch is a good start and I think Ryan and I can go after work a few times a week too. It’s time to make sailing a priority and become more experienced sailors!! Dammit! (Threw that last part in for good measure. Sometimes I need a stern talking to).

We have sailed before, I promise

This past weekend, Ryan and I went to the Halifax Sailing Association to get checked out on a Sunfish  so that we can take out the sailboats on our own eventually. For good reason, you have to demonstrate competency on the boats before they’ll let you take them out. We learned on Sunfish sailboats when we first took sailing lessons waaaay back in 2009 (2010?) so we thought this would be a piece of cake! We went out together at first so we could get some practice and quickly realized that we had forgotten everything we had ever learned about these tiny boats. We couldn’t remember how to rig it, there was barely any wind and we felt super embarrassed as we sort of meandered around the water. Eventually our sailing instincts kicked in and we were doing fine but those first few (or 20) minutes felt disastrous. It’s like being back in middle school, confident everyone is always watching you….and laughing…hard. Luckily, nobody really cared and we made it back safely before rinsing the boat and sail and returning everything to its proper place. After all that, we didn’t have time to get checked out and we were ready to just tuck our tails between our legs and skulk away but everyone was super friendly so I think we’ll be back soon to give it another shot!

Captain Liz and Swell Voyage

I think I have found a new Internet best friend. Never mind that it’s a completely one sided relationship that began yesterday. I haven’t been able to navigate away from Swell Voyage and I keep emailing Ryan different posts from her blog with the subject “Must Read!”.  Talk about an amazing role model! She embodies the type of sailor I want us to be. Environmentally conscious, using the ocean without exploiting it, being a good ambassador for our species and befriending animals. I’d be embarrassed to so shamelessly gush over this woman if I didn’t think that every person on the planet who has read her blog wouldn’t agree with me 100%. I just ordered some Body Brew deodorant because it was on her Resources page….well that and because I have had zero luck finding a good deodorant (“good” meaning: natural, no aluminum, not tested on animals, doesn’t leave me smelling like a BO monster…I’ll let ya know if it qualifies. UPDATE: Best deodorant I have ever used and I have tried Secret Clinical Strength with no success). If was 13 again, I might tear down my N*Sync posters and plaster my walls with her Instagram photos. They’d certainly inspire a lot more goal setting and less teenage angsty sighing.

Now, I’m going to thoroughly explore this blog…because Captain Liz told me to. **Update: I like this Jean’s attitude…good work dude.

Sailors Exchange

This weekend, Ryan and I went to St. Augustine to participate in the March for Ocean Justice (link to article about the event. Great turnout!) as Chair and Vice Chair of the Executive Committee of our local Surfrider Foundation chapter. We wanted to show our support for this event and also voice our opposition to seismic testing and offshore drilling off of Florida’s coast. We are firm believers that if you want to use something, you have to take care of it. We use the ocean for surfing, sailing, fishing, swimming, etc and it’s only fair that we do our best to protect it and its inhabitants. Ok, rant over! If you want to learn more about these issues, there are plenty of resources such as Oceana and Surfrider to tell you allll about it.

After the march and press conference, we stopped by a cool place we used to visit when we lived in Jacksonville, Sailors Exchange. This place is like a candy store for boaters….they have everything and, best of all, they are willing to negotiate prices! Ryan was looking for a few things for his fishing boat which gave me time to peruse their book section. Reading about sailing around the world is my new obsessive hobby and there are certainly a lot of books on the topic! I recently finished Patrick Schulte‘s book, Just Out Looking for Pirates, and while I think we want to do a bit more prep work for our journey, I like that they didn’t spend 10 years hemming and hawing about sailing around the world and just did it. Also, I could really relate to Ali who made friends with the various animals they met on their trip and told fish it was going to be “ok” before throwing them back in the water. I have been known to guilt Ryan into releasing a crab trap full of crabs because they were giving me sad eyes and I always make friends with at least one cat or dog on our travels (I even made friends with some finches who ate out of my hand at Notre Dame).

In addition to reading books about sailing, we have also been listening to podcasts and watching videos like mad on YouTube. One that really interested us was Sailing on a Shoestring by More Hands on Deck. These guys bought a sailboat for $4k that apparently the previous owner had died on….and wasn’t found for a week. Gross. I personally do not have the patience/skill to buy a serious fixer upper and Ryan does not have the time (even though I think he’d secretly love it) but you have to respect their positive attitude and what they have already accomplished. They’re currently raising money to finish equipping their sailboat so that they can travel the world and create a documentary about the experience. I hope they reach their goal…if you have a few bucks to spare, consider chipping in!

Halifax Sailing Association

This weekend we checked out the organization that we recently became members of, The Halifax Sailing Association of Daytona Beach. What an unbelievably awesome resource! For $100/year/family, we can sail any of the boats in their fleet after being checked out by someone in the club to make sure we won’t sink, crash or generally ruin things for everyone else with our untimely death. I’m so excited but also a little nervous. It’s been a while since I’ve been on a sailboat and while I can hold my own, I don’t always remember the exact terms (are we tacking? jibing? Did I just get knocked unconscious by the boom?)

For our first time out, I think I’ll ask the other members to discreetly look away from me until I get my bearings or until they hear bloodcurdling screams because I accidentally threw Ryan overboard. Also, I need to brush up on the book we got when we took our sailing lessons at the Titusville Sailing Club a million years ago. Does anyone out there have any recommendations for other sailing books I should be reading?

Update: Found this online course from ASA (American Sailing Association) to brush up on my sailing knowledge. It’s been so long but I think I may have taken this before. Can’t hurt to do it again!

Smooth Seas Never Made a Skilled Sailor?

I just was reading through an old post I had written about the day we purchased our last sailboat, The Perfect Temperature, and while most people would read it and think “These people are insane, no wonder they sold their boat…that sounds like an awful experience!”, all I could think while I was reading it was, “Wow, I miss the ol’ girl”. I think I’ve said this before but maybe we had Stockholm’s Syndrome with our boat and sailing in general and I don’t care! I’m looking forward to getting back on the horse and learning all I can about sailing so that we can reach our goal of sailing off into the sunset (and not coming back…at least for a long time).

There are so many long, run on sentences in this post and I’m leaving ’em.

Let’s Do This!

We have been discussing leaving it all behind and traveling the world ever since we started dating but have had a few obstacles that have kept us in traditional jobs and lifestyles. Now, with light at the end of the tunnel (estimated payoff of Brandy’s student loans in September), we are taking the first steps to a mini retirement sailing adventure. We just joined a sailing club near us that allows you to take the sailboats out for a yearly fee of $100…this is going to be awesome! It will be great to get back out on the water and gain more experience. We had The Perfect Temperature for a while but never took her offshore or in any really challenging conditions. I don’t have a death wish but I do want to be exposed to rough seas so that I don’t completely lose my mind when it happens in real life.

Here’s what we know so far:

1. We want to live aboard a sailboat to travel the world. Why a sailboat? It’s like being a snail, you carry your house around with you!

2. Estimated departure is 2018 but this may change

What we don’t know yet:

1. How much to budget

2. Where exactly we want to go (Brandy wants to go to the opposite end of the earth while Ryan is content to stay in the North-South America region)

3. Which sailboat to buy (probably an older model but one that doesn’t need toooo much work)

4. What do we do with our pets? 1 dog, 2 cats that hate each other. They can most likely live on the boat but it will take some finagling.

5. How much money do we need to save to safely cover all costs (including covering any of the mortgage not paid by potential renters of our house)

6. Do we need a property management company to rent out our house? My guess is probably. How much does that cost?

Basically, we are in the baby phase of building this plan but that is the most fun part 🙂