Preparation

You all know I am an author, I wrote a book and I am currently writing another one.  Writing a book takes a long time for me because I have a lot of other interests in my life.  I love telling you all a story, but I also love to be an adventurer as well.   So now I’ll tell you a story about preparing for an adventure.

I have written a few blog posts about my sailing adventures.  I am a sailor, my husband and I have restored 3 sailboats together.  Well, honestly, 2 and a half, we sold the second boat when we wanted to buy the third one because that one was more of what we were looking for at the time.

We go on sailing vacations just about every year on our boat, and we’ve sailed our third boat, and Island Trader ketch named Sabine all over Rhode Island, up the Hudson River into Lake Champlain and almost all the way to Canada.  We’ve sailed to Martha’s Vineyard, we’ve sailed to Cuttyhunk, through the Cape Cod Canal, to Salem Massachusetts.  We love to be on the water.  But the thing about Sabine is that she was a restoration boat, which means that we’ve put countless hours into stopping her from sinking, literally, and making her more comfortable to be aboard while we are adventuring.  We worked very hard over the 16 years we had Sabine, and gallons of our sweat were expelled while restoring that boat.

Then we started looking at what I like to call boat porn… ads for boats that are listed for sale.  We got onto the idea of buying a catamaran because we love the idea of being able to get somewhere faster than Sabine will get us there.  (Sabine is heavy and slower than weight loss.  Aboard Sabine it’s all about the journey.)  We are also drawn to the additional living space that a catamaran affords.

We shopped, we looked at catamarans at the Newport Boat Show.  We drooled over the ads, we saved our money, we crunched the numbers, and we found THE boat in Fort Lauderdale.

We flew down in January to get a look.  Whenever we looked at apartments, houses or boats in the past I’ve been known to show too much excitement and tip our hand too soon.  I poker faced the hell out of that visit, but inside I was swooning over it.  It truly was the perfect boat for us. 

Todd whispered to me “Don’t you like it? You haven’t cracked a smile once.” 

“Are you kidding?  I am swooning inside?  But I am trying to keep it inside because we’re with the boat broker, I don’t want to spoil the deal!”

“He’s our broker.  He represents us, you can be honest.”

Then I started jumping up and down rolling on the beds, squealing, running my hands over everything and swooning over this boat.

Todd had seen this boat on YouTube.  We follow a few catamaran sailors on YouTube as they cruise all over the world.  This particular boat is named Freedom, and 2 owners ago it went to Portugal and back.  We learned that the current seller is a family with 3 children.  They planned to go cruising and school their kids aboard.  They bought the boat, and moved aboard at a small marina in Fort Lauderdale.  They didn’t have much experience sailing so they lived at the dock until they’d worked up the courage.  While they were at the dock for 6 months they needed an excuse to be at this particular marina, so they hired the marina to install a number of upgrades.  Finally, the marina owner suggested they get on with their trip.

They sailed to the Bahamas, which from Fort Lauderdale is about 60 something miles, and then they left the boat there.  Packed up their clothes, called the broker and said “Bring it back to Lauderdale and sell it.”

The day we looked at it we fell in love.  We made an offer.  Then my mind spiraled into the usual stress of making a large life changing purchase—will they take our offer seriously?  Should we do this?  But we love it, yes we should do it.

We left the broker and he called us to tell us that another buyer had put an offer in just before we did that morning.  We had been researching catamarans, one like this one that has all the bells and whistles we want are hard to come by. 

“Well, back to searching,” Todd sighed.  “I guess if this one came up on the market there will be another one.”

“That deal is going to fall through,” I replied.  “Mark my words, this is our boat.”

“I don’t know about that,” he said.  “Once you get a signed agreement it’s pretty much a done deal.”

“No, I don’t think so.  This is our boat,” I said.  I am often unrealistically stubborn.

A week or two went by.  Todd had called the broker and said “If something happens to that deal, tell the seller we will pay the asking price.”  We’d initially offered lower than that so that we could try to negotiate a lower price.

Sure enough, it happened.  The other buyers were reported as “obnoxious” in their requests.  They didn’t like the color of the brand new squeaky clean canvas that the seller had just installed as one of the upgrades.  They demanded tens of thousands of dollars off the asking price to replace the brand new canvas enclosure to a more suitable color. The seller wasn’t having it; negotiations were heading south.  (And you thought I was being unrealistically stubborn!)

Then our broker stepped in and said “Well, I have another couple who is willing to offer asking price, and they will not try any bullshit with you.”  That was us.

And so, we got the boat of our dreams. 

Here we are in June and now the boat is still in Fort Lauderdale.  But we live in Rhode Island.  We want the boat to be home with us.  One June 20th we will set out for the trip of a lifetime, we will sail the boat 1,100 miles from Fort Lauderdale to East Greenwich, Rhode Island.  A great deal of preparation went into planning this trip, let me tell you about it.

First, there’s planning the route.  Todd and I bought access to an online system called Predict Wind.  This will tell us the direction and strength of the wind and waves.  Weather and conditions on the water are crucial to making a trip great—bad conditions can be disastrous and being able to get reliable marine forecasts is key.  Todd and I are big proponents of waiting for the right weather to make a trip… when you challenge the weather you will always lose.

So, for the route we could just go balls out and do the whole thing all in one go.  But there are a few things wrong with that.  Number one, we still want to see something other than ocean all around us all the time, so we’d want to stop and be able to be a tourist for a bit.  Number two, that’s exhausting.  We want to have fun and not be completely tired all the time.  So we’re planning on doing a few days from Fort Lauderdale to Charleston, SC.  Then Charleston to Norfolk, then Norfolk to home just to break up the trip and make it a bit more humane.

Being off shore between the cities will take a few days.  That means sailing as a 24-hour operation.  We could do it the two of us and never see each other and be completely exhausted all the time.  Or we could get a few friends to go with us and have shorter shifts at watch and have more fun.  So we invited our dear friend Sean who has been our adventure buddy for about a decade now, and we have also invited my friend Deb from work who is also a sailor and has done a few offshore passages.  Sean is a teacher, so we have to wait for school to let out.  Deb’s boyfriend’s son is getting married the weekend before we go, so we have to wait for the wedding celebration to be over for her to come down as well.

Then there’s all the other stuff.  Fitting out a boat is kind of like fitting out a house.  The previous owners left behind quite a bit of stuff, like plates, pots, pans, silverware and the like.  There are 3 beds on this boat.  Buying new sheets, towels, pillows and all the creature comforts has taken some time to procure, launder and set up in the boat.  Next I need to get groceries, and probably do some pre-cooking and freezing.

What about safety?  Todd tends to think of everything when it comes to safety.  I used to call him the Eagle Scout from hell.  But I am thankful that he thinks of all the things I didn’t.  We’re going to be sailing night and day to get to our destinations.  That means safety gear.  We have Mustang life jackets that automatically inflate when we hit the water.  We have AIS devices attached to the jackets that will send a signal that all nearby boats can pick up if one of us falls in.  We have also rented GPS devices that also attach to the jackets that will send a GPS signal to the Coast Guard should one of us fall in.  Unfortunately, they don’t make one unit that does both AIS and GPS, so we bought the AIS ones and rented the GPS ones.  Todd has had jack lines custom made that run the length of the boat and we have bought tethers, so basically we are leashing ourselves to the jack lines when we are on deck so if we do fall in we will still be tethered to the boat.  We have a doctor on retainer that we can call.  We have satellite communication equipment.  We have prescriptions for things like antibiotics and a massive first aid kit.

We are ready to go on this trip, it’s a week from today and I am climbing the walls.

 

BJ Knapp is the author of Beside the Music, available for purchase here. Please sign up for the Backstage with BJ Knapp mailing list to get updates on events, signings, dog pictures and so much more.

added on 06.14.19

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