Sunday, February 24, 2013

Passage Planning

Waiting is the hardest part. My mind was busy with coordinating moorage, insurance, final payments, delivery, my work schedule, and of course the trip down stateside to pick 'er  up. That would be the fun part, bringing her back.

I gave my friend Kinc the first right of refusal to come along for the adventure. He didn't refuse. So I guess he's my crew. I'm glad he's along for the ride. The plan would have us travel to Bellingham WA and take possession of the Corleto and set sail and head north. It sounds simple enough, how hard could that be? But these waters are somewhere I have not been to before, there was research and charts to be studied.

The sound of pencils, dividers, plastic parallels hitting the table got Charlene's attention.
"What are you doing?" she asked.
"I am going to do some calculations and planning as to how we will travel from Bellingham north"
She left me to it and I spread Chart #3462- Juan De Fuca Strait to Strait of Georgia. and began my passage plan.

I scratched notes and muttered to myself as I drew course lines and translated tide tables and currents. It was a task that has to be done and I took a great deal of satisfaction when I was finished. Surely the Coastal Nav course of last year was a big help. I sent the plan to First Officer Kinc for his opinion.
I had calculated that our trip to Point Roberts would be some 31 nautical miles and would involve 4 waypoints with course changes to avoid hazards on the journey.

Making my Passage Plan- photo by Charlene

He had taken the liberty of pre programming his marine GPS and wouldn't you know it, our course plots were damn near identical. This gave me confidence in my plan. All I needed now was to check the Marine forecasts and we will be off to the races.

As with so many good plans, mother nature lays them to waste. The routing was fine, but the forecasts called for Gale Force winds. This is not unusual for this time of the year, after all it's still winter. But we have had rather benign winter with little or no major storms.

I got the word from my perspective delivery skipper that the weather was suspect for the delivery window of Feb 22-25. This was the first setback since embarking on this whole adventure. It might mean I have to wait to get my hands on the tiller.
Then, what I thought was my second setback, my man Jack, who was going to deliver the boat had to back out. I now was faced with perhaps aborting the handover and postponing for a couple of weeks.
Before I could begin with making the calls cancelling Kinc, and time off, my phone rings and Dave the Boat Broker has already found me a new delivery skipper.

This was a good sign, the new skipper was a very experienced sailor in his own right as well as a marine designer and marine surveyor. What luck.
His name is Richard and his plan was to leave on a favorable tide in the wee hours of the morning and have the Corleto in Bellingham before the end of the day. He would call and update his progress as he set a course up the Rosario Strait north toward Bellingham. As it happened, he would set out on the morning of Feb. 21.
I ended up with a wicked head cold as a result of an earlier road assignment. When Richard called on route, I was hopped up on cold meds. He explained to me that a bilge pump had failed and that there was "considerable water" in the bilge. In my state I thought that the boat was about to become a submarine and that I would be the proud owner of Das Boat and my adventures would be of the underwater kind. Needless to say Thursday was an anxious day.
When Richard called from the Bellingham dock, he told me that the boat had performed "very well" and that the bilge thing was more of a piss off than a major problem. That "she was not taking on any water" and was nicely tied up at the pier. The problem with the pump was likely a fuse and that the water was likely a bad check valve. All things that can easily be repaired or at least dealt with before the journey to Point Roberts.

Rechecking the Chart- photo by Charlene

But my imagination coupled with my lack of sleep would get the best of me. The wait to get to Bellingham taxing, the weather forecasts have been less than promising. I was beginning to think that when I get there all that would be showing is the top of the mast at the slip. Fortunately its only my mind playing tricks on me. And what snapped me out of it, reviewing my passage plan, re-calculating and redoing tide predictions. It has me focused on the task at hand.

And that task begins tomorrow at 07:00.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

So Much to Do

With the offer, counter offer and acceptance I became a boat owner. Old salts say, its one of the happiest days of boat ownership. The other being the day you sell it. I am going to try to buck that adage, but we will see.
There so much to do. Where to start? Lets begin with Moorage as I needed a place to tie her up. 
I had always been told it was tough to find a slip in the Vancouver area. For one- depending on where you are located a birth will be pretty expensive and two- low vacancy. 

I had actually begun my preliminary search for potential moorage before I had even looked at the Corleto as there was no point in doing this if I could not find a place for her. I searched Marinas and Docks in greater Vancouver trying to find out what a ball park cost would be so as to add that to my boating budget. I stumbled onto a site that listed all of the Marinas on Lower Mainland and I began to check them all out in the comfort of my office chair. Most had a waiting list. A couple were just so outrageous I eliminated them right away. The marina closest to where I live had only one slip available  so I called and made arrangements to go have a look. The only problem was geography. It was several hours motoring from the good sailing in the Strait of Georgia and beyond. But it was close to where I actually live. The staff there gave me an idea what it was going to cost me and agreed to give me first right of refusal on the slip for a week without any money down. 

I continued my search and found that a marina within 5 minutes of being in the good sailing area had two slips available  and they listed their annual moorage rates on their web page. They were more expensive than what I had already saw, but the location, I just couldn't beat the location.

Beautiful Horseshoe Bay from Chopper 9

I made arrangements to go look at this one the day after returning from Kingston. As soon as I saw it I knew this was the place. 
Before I left the dock, the friendly Moorage Manager not only gave me a deal, that saved me near $800.00 but she sent me on my way with a couple of Boat Show passes for the upcoming weekend.

My slip at Sewell's Marina, Horseshoe Bay
But there was still much to do, Insurance, Marine surveys, Bottom Paint, travel and delivery of the boat, my head just hurt thinking about it. 

Walking into BC Place for the Vancouver International Boat Show was different this year. This time I actually was an owner. I had a number of things to research and I could do them all in one place. The first item on the agenda Insurance and what would be required to obtain it. The first two stops with Insurance brokers were not encouraging, perhaps my meagre vessel was just too small potatoes for them. I don't know, but with them it was all roadblocks and obstacles. Then we meet this wonderful lady who understood the excitement of new boat ownership and was all about what can be done. Needless to say we found our Marine Insurance. 

As we enjoyed browsing the various booths and vendors, getting ideas and information that would help us begin our cruising lives sailing the BC Coast. 

Now all I needed was to get the boat here. And that will happen very soon. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Show

It was a overcast and rain was in the air, the day my friend David, here after known as "Kinc", headed down to Kingston Washington to check out a little Catalina 27 named "Corleto".

 Kinc is a great friend and a mark of that friendship is how hard we laugh about almost anything. He is also someone whom I respect in the Boating world for his experience of boat ownership. When I had found the listing for this vessel on, I had immediately forwarded the ad to him for his scrutiny. 
His response - "lets go take a look".

So off we went on a grey February day, on a road trip that brought lots of laughs and loads of discussion. I was excited to go see this little gem. Kinc was happy to come along and be my "sober second thought" wingman. 
We were met at the marina by a friendly listing broker named Dave and another fellow whom I thought was the owner, but was introduced as Dave's buddy Jack. 
Jack could have easily doubled for any salty Maritime sea skipper- Weathered, grey beard and a sailors beanie this could very well be the mythical "Capt. Highliner" in the flesh. You knew by his conversation he knew his way around the sea and boats. 
Dave the broker, went to grab an access fob to enter the pier. I was fixated on the bow of what I figured on what we had journeyed to see. Dave and Jack had struck up a conversation about boating in these waters.
Dave returned and we accessed the pier and walked to the slip. And there she was, the Corleto sitting nicely awaiting inspection. Dave hopped aboard, and for a big guy he was quite nimble. He opened the companion way, all the while describing the vessel and her specs to me. Dave knew his stuff.

I hoped aboard and with the clumsiness of a land lubber proceeded to smack my skull against the dodger frame. 
"Kinc, the correct answer was 34!" I said.
"What?" he answered.
"34 seconds before I smacked my head." I explained.
Dave and Jack thought that was quite funny and I suppose that they thought the Mur and Kinc Show wouldn't be this entertaining. I'm sure they got their money's worth.

The Dodger where I whacked my head

Kinc and I quickly got to work looking for any major flaws humming and hawing about this and that. I quite expected that she would be full of water for the listing price and was damn near giddy when I found her dry. 

We both crawled into the small spaces to see the engine, the thru hulls, the plumbing, the chain plates, the wiring and the bilge. The keel bolts looked remarkable for a boat her age. We went topside to inspect the rigging and sails, and the rudder. Of course that is when it began to rain. 
Kinc made some funny comment about that fact and again much to the amusement of our hosts.

We hoisted the main, the sail went up rather easily. Eyeballed the spreaders and the spars, mast and rigging, it all looked good. 

"Shall I start the engine? " Dave asked. 
Kinc answered "Please" 
Dave turned the key on fired up the Universal Diesel. She started on the very first turn. 
We looked over the stern to make sure the pumps were working. All was in good order.

I snapped a few photos, Kinc and I spoke in whispered voices. Dave and Jack gave us some room. 
Kinc knew right then and there I was going to buy her. 
"Not so fast Mur." He said. "We'll discuss in the Boardroom"

Corleto at dock

The ferry ride back to the mainland served as the "Boardroom". This is where Kinc's boat buying and ownership experience really came into play. While I had been trying to keep my emotions in check, Kinc was using his powers of observation on subtile things that I had overlooked because I was fixated on the actual boat. Kinc was reading body language, gleaning information from conversations and adding his two cents. He knew that I did not have to rush, that we had been the first showing and the only showing, all by the way it had unfolded. Things that until he brought them up into context, I would have likely missed. He advised me on offer strategy and went even so far as to predict the final sale price. Which by the way he was bang on. 
We discussed what different scenarios would look like and what would have to be done to accomplish them. Things like moorage, insurance, marine surveys, bottom paint, cleaning, equipment upgrades and delivery. Customs, taxes and fuel by the time we crossed the border, my head hurt so bad I thought it would explode with the ensuing blast taking out the Peace Arch Crossing and it being blamed as an al-Qaeda head bomb.

When meetings finally adjourned (round about the time we rolled back into Kinc's driveway) I had an offer strategy and a list of things that had to be done. 


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Welcome Aboard.

For as long as I remember I have enjoyed sailing. And for as long as I can remember I have enjoyed telling stories. The story telling part of me has helped feed my family and put a roof over my head. This at the expense of the sail part of me. Call it life.

I decided to do something about this over a decade ago when I began, what I had hoped to be, a rather simple journey from land lubber to Sailboat Skipper.  Taking a class and learning how to properly handle a sailboat along the Coast of British Columbia. But nothing is ever simple and the journey never a straight course. After getting my Basic Cruising Standard, I had big plans to continue with my Nautical Education. The goal of boat ownership and exploring wherever the winds blew always on my mind.
My confidence grew with each lesson all those years ago. I was told after my Cruising test by my instructor that "You are a most confident sailor, when you are on the helm your calmness and confidence is something the rest of the crew aspires to."
I figured that Intermediate and Advanced classes would soon follow.
But they did not.

Life, you see, has a way of knocking you off course. Time, finances, the job, the family, the list is endless.
None the less, I always believed I would one day be a sailor and be on the water on a regular basis. I had been lucky, I did have friends with sailboats and had the good fortune to crew for them. It was always a treat and those times on the water only fuelled the fire to one break free and head for blue water.

I spent my time reading magazines, reading books and learning all I could about sailing and cruising the oceans of the world. I cruised the Internet for that perfect boat, browsed endless used sailboat listings on and dreamt of warm waters and fair breezes.

The dream was alive, but the execution of "the dream" seemed far off indeed.
As the years passed, friends sold boats, career and personal lives became "complicated" and sail opportunities became scarce. And the years marched on.

About a year ago and suddenly I was turning 50. I decided that I needed a "5 year" plan. The Plan,- I would treat myself to building skills and taking classes. Then the goal would be, one day within those five years, achieve my Offshore Standard and become a blue water sailor.

But how would I get there?

I figured to begin with a Coastal Navigation Course. You have to know where you're going and how to get there right? Right?

Who knew that geometry would be so important. I would have studied harder when I was in my math class back in high school. My head would hurt trying to use those brain cells that hadn't been fired up since sitting in Mr. Keenan's afternoon Math/Physics class, round about 1979. It was a good hurt. I enjoyed learning those new skills. Chart Work, Passage Planning, Lights, Buoys and Signals, some stuff I remembered, others like Tide Calculations, Running Fixes and Dividers were new and interesting. I was learning, I was "making way". It all seemed to be "On Course".

But again, Life gets in the way.
Work Schedules, illness, and travel all postpone the final exam. I'm beginning to think that this 5 year thing might be bit tougher than I first thought.

I resolved to push on.
And now here's where the dream begins to form reality.
It's late January and the weather outside is grey and gloomy. I take refuge browsing used boat ads and dreaming of sailing off in one of those beauties. But reality always has a way of slapping me in the face and reminding me just how far from being on the water I really am.
Then it hits me. Like a shaft of light from the heavens it hits me. My attitude has been all wrong. I had been looking for my "Dream Boat" not my "First Boat". My first does not have to be the 38 footer, that beautiful blue water Beneteau or Dafour. What I needed is time on the tiller, time on the helm and a starting point.
One of those ads drew me in. It was for a smaller 27 Catalina. One of my friends had owned one and I had the good fortune of sailing her on several occasions. But could I pull the resources together and pull the trigger to put myself in a position to actually own?

Seize the Day, Oh Captain, my Captain.

This blog will chronicle this journey I have embarked on. The ups and the downs, the highs and lows of being the Master of my very own little sailboat. I hope you come along. And welcome to My Nauti Mind.