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Thread: Motorized Boating

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    Literary Wanderer
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    Default Motorized Boating

    Ever since I was a kid I've loved boating. I had the good fortune of living near the Saint Lawrence River bordering New York and Canada. I spent many a summer's day water skiing, fishing and attempting general idiocy in various speed boats on the riverís vast plane of water.

    Iíve been very separated from that experience for decades now and find myself longing to return. Now, Colorado isnít the best place to affect a long lost boating objective as there isnít a whole lot of open water. I really donít care anymore. Iíve got a truck and can tow a boat just about anywhere. It also seems like a funny time to buy a boat with the world as we know it falling apart around us. OrÖ maybe thatís the best time to head out to a lake and lose oneself on the water. Either way, my desire to boat again isnít going away.

    I thought Iíd open this thread so that other boating faithful might add a story or two for everyoneís reading pleasure.

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    Default Re: Motorized Boating

    Boating, of any sort, is a passion one either grows up with, or suddenly "grabs you" one day when you're not expecting it.

    I grew up in Detroit, along the Detroit River, Belle Isle, Boblo Island, Lake St. Clair and watched the huge steamers, sailing vessels and huge motor boats from a distance all through my childhood and young adult life.

    I longed to go. Always. I've always read stories of sea ships, sloops and schooners alike and had a deep down longing to go to sea. I never knew why. Many years later, in my middle years I found the answer. My family, the Donaldsons were seamen from WAY back. Fishermen and sailors, mostly from Ireland and Scotland from where my family originally hails, there are "family crests" for some of them that include sailing as part of the heritage.

    I guess it's in my blood.

    My wife too, grew up in the same area. She's a better sailor than myself because she actually had a boat in her family, although a speedboat, for skiing and water sports, but she has spent more time on the water than I have.

    Well over a year ago now, she and I were sitting one evening in the hot tub gazing in wonder as we always do at the magnificent view of Pikes Peak behind my home, and watching the sun set, glasses of wine in hand.

    The discussion turned to retirement and "What would you like to do for retirement?"

    Her response surprised me, "I'll tell you what I don't want to do. Quit."

    "Quit?" I asked, confused.

    "Life, doing things, stopping, no more moving around, traveling or learning," she replied. Up until that very moment my image of retirement was "a little house on the prairie" with a horse, some chickens, a nice dog, a couple of cows and a way to farm the land to feed myself.

    I voiced this opinion to her, and she explained yet again her dislike for animals in general and a few other things that really wouldn't fit into that picture of a little white house on a twenty acre plot. She wanted to travel, see the world, visit places we haven't been, and places we would like to see again.

    I thought about it in silence for a few moments and my mind wandered a bit. Presently, I poured us a second glass of wine and remembered a conversation that had passed quickly between us as mere children, less than a year after we were first married thirty-plus years ago. I don't remember the dialog now, but I remember the gist of the conversation.

    Essentially it had to do with "I'd like to sail a ship some day" and an agreement from the other party. Who initially started the conversation and who ended it is lost to my memory, but I remember the conversation as one of those things you examine in your dreams, your thoughts and you share with your lover.

    We then ran headlong into life... the military, raising children, traveling around the country, raising children, moving, raising children... did I mention raising children? We moved to DC, lived on the edge of the Potomac River and obviously, quite clearly had forgotten to learn to sail, or even step foot on a boat.

    The closest we came were canoes, which we did on and off during our eight years in the DC area. I saw occasional sail boats and longed, yet again, to visit one.

    At one point, I went aboard the USS Constellation in Baltimore. I was smitten... yet, again, I walked away from the feeling, the near need to be aboard a ship. I was in the Air Force, I'd joined the Air Force because I was afraid of the water when I was younger. Many years later, that fear is no longer there.

    After my memory was jogged in the hot tub that day, and we'd spent an hour, and a full bottle of wine discussing possibilities that didn't include a little house and some chickens, I said... "How about this... you like the Caribbean, I like the Caribbean. Let's buy a ship and go live there, island hopping for a few years?"

    Her response might been surprising to anyone but me, she shouted, "YES!"

    Thus our retirement plan was created over the next few months. We started looking for a "training boat", something we could get inexpensively, but not something tiny. Something we could sleep on for a weekend or several days, and keep in the water or trailer, and would sail. Three months later, in October 2008, we found a perfect little boat, a sloop. She needed some work, and I was fine with that. I bought the boat for about $3500 and sunk another $1500 into parts, tools, ropes, anchor, new rudder and tiller, lighting and paint.

    We considered names for the boat. She had never been named. We decided this boat was a stepping stone and our first boat would signal by her name our coming change in life. We considered that eventually we would have another, bigger boat and the name for that boat would be "Winds of Time". We didn't want our some-day life-aboard named "Wind's of Time II" so we considered other names. We buy lotto tickets on occasion (about once per month, perhaps) and considered if we ever win we'd buy a dream boat, and it would be called "Wind's of Fate". This boat, however was a training boat, a cute little thing that would help us on the first steps toward our dream, the-rest-of-our-lives vacation we intend to take. This she was christened "Wind's of Change".

    We spent October 2008 through the end of March 2009 refitting some parts, rebuilding the wood inside and fixing up the boat to sail. Without spending too much money, I made the little boat ready to sail. We both read every book we could find on the physics of sailing, the art of sailing, learning knots and understanding how to put the boat in the water, what to do once there and how to get back to the dock.

    The following month, April 2009, we climbed aboard a 757 bound for San Diego for professional training. We went to a week-long, live-aboard course that was given by a small sailing school on Shelter Island. We showed up without preconceived notions about sailing and told the instructor "We read all the school books, plus these, but we're here to learn, teach us like we know nothing," and he basically obliged us.

    For three days we went over the boat, systems, sails, various control lines, winches, stove, engine, you name it, we looked it over and used it. We sailed the first day into the Pacific. On the second and third days we had fun and soloed I believe on the second day. We docked, un-docked, went in and out, and I practiced being a good deck hand while my wife for the most part skippered the ship.

    Our instructor Mike, wanted to turn the boat over to us completely on Thursday and send us out but we asked him to come back EARLY on Friday and go over a few more things with us. Somehow, we just weren't quite confident enough I guess. He did. We sailed around inside the sheltered little bay and finished our tests (basically I think we each missed one question on each of the tests we took) and he certified us through the American Sailing Association for the courses we took.

    Friday we took the boat out. We were to sail for a few hours, and come back, anchor out, spend a night and then Saturday we would have the boat to ourselves. Sunday, by noon was turn in day. We had reefed the main and headed out, but the winds were changing directions for some reason. The weather wasn't what it was supposed to be, and was rather chilly. And did I mention windy?

    After an hour or so, we were trying to tack our way back into the wind to get back because the wind was much higher than it was supposed to be and we were having trouble. At some point we got sideways in the main channel. In the distance a huge, massively huge cruise ship was coming towards us. We had time. In the other direction some Naval vessel I had not yet seen was coming our way. My wife noticed it, but said nothing.

    The wind suddenly changed directions several times and we were getting tired and confused. My wife and I were getting anxious about what to do and starting the engine with the sails up was not really something we felt we should do, after all, weren't we sailors?

    We were switching places, my right hand on the main sheet, my left on the wheel when another sudden, strong gust whipped the boom around to the right. The sheet was pulled free of my hand and a shackle on the traveler exploded, taking the boom, the sail, the main sheet and most of the hardware for the sail out over the starboard side of the vessel. The breaking shackle sounded like an explosion. The parts landed on the deck and we were now without control of the boat and nearly facing wind-on.

    She was starting to panic, and frankly, seeing that the cruise ship was bearing down on, I estimated less than two minutes out.

    About this moment, out of nowhere, a dolphin, a huge and beautiful dolphin leaped from the water not four or five feet off the starboard quarter and made "Flipper" noises causing us both to take a deep breath and watch the mammal dive back into the deep channel. It brought us both to reality. She calmed and said out loud in complete and utter surprise, "OH!"

    I yelled through the blow "Take the wheel, prepare to start the engine!"

    She did, checked the engine and I hiked out over the side onto the boom and grabbed the now-dangling main sheet and all of the block and tackle that had been ripped from the deck. Looking around I saw a ring, a heavy, strong ring on the still semi-function traveler track. I hoisted myself back across the boat and back down to the deck and ran the main sheet through the ring, down to the back of the boat, around a winch and started cranking. This gave us some wind in the sails and my wife turned the boat to move out of the channel. A few moments later, perhaps seconds, we were clear and the two ships, one I'd been watching and the one I didn't see passed through the spot we'd been sitting, frantically trying to figure out what to do.

    The ships missed us, we were safe, she started the engine and I lowered the sails as we drove into the wind.

    I collected the broken parts of the shackle and we discussed what to do. She wanted to go to the dock, and I refused, saying we were going to finish our mission today. The mission was to anchor out and simply "have a good time" that evening. It started to rain, a light, misty rain, nothing bad or scary. The wind didn't let up either.

    We moved to our "staging area" and I prepared the anchor rode and anchor, then directed her to an anchorage that we'd looked over earlier in the morning. We came in, she ordered the anchor down, I did and we set it carefully . We had done it. We'd finished our "official solo" and had major troubles.

    I asked my wife to go below and located a parts box, should there be one. As it turned out, there was indeed a parts box and it contained some identical shackles. I repaired the boat, checked the anchor and asked her to prepare us a snack. We poured some wine, ate some cheese and crackers and I made a phone call to the school, leaving a message. No one was around for the afternoon, since it was Good Friday.

    Later, one of the instructors called me back and wanted to know where we were, what help we needed, and if anyone was hurt, or anything else. When I told him "No, we're fine, we're enjoying a glass of wine, I've repaired the boat, we're at anchor and we'll see you in the morning." Nick, the one who called said, "There were no man overboard incidents, you didn't call a mayday or call for assistance?"

    I simply said, "Nope."

    He said, "Wow, you guys are awesome, we'll see you in the morning."

    True to his word, he and the other two instructors did see us in the morning, standing on the dock with their arms crossed and stern faces.

    "Oh,oh," I thought, we're in trouble. I directed my wife into the slip, tossed ropes to the men on the dock and climbed down to steady the boat and tie her off. The "Karina Del Mar" was back at home, safe, with us. Suddenly, all three men applauded us and patted us on the back and said, "Congratulations, you're both now real sailors!"

    They explained that most people go out and never experience problems. It's the rare case of a group of inexperienced people who go out and use their personal skills to overcome what could have been a complete disaster and come back home safely, that really, truly ever "get it".

    Needless to say, we "got it".

    Today we're now a couple of hundred hours into sailing here in Colorado, complete with sudden, gale force storms on a small lake with "six foot seas" (on a small lake? That's BAD! HAHA) and several nights out on the hook, with a lot of practice docking and anchoring, sailing in shifty conditions to nearly-no-wind at all.

    We won't turn back, we won't move to that little house on the prairie now. We're on our way to live the dream, the real dream. These days, my wife has taken the position as "First Mate" and I'm now the "Skipper". Partly its because we know someone has to be responsible, and I'll take that responsibility as I always have. But we're really Co-Skipper of any ship that we sail on together.

    Soon I will skippering a ship around the Virgin Islands for eight days with my trusty, and loving First (and only) Mate, my very good friend Jim as "Engineer", my son and his friend as deck hands. The trip is mostly paid for, planned and I'm so ready to go I can taste the salt air and feel the wind in my face.

    A year after that, if all goes well I will have my bills paid off, my home prepared to sell and we will start shopping for our new home. Once we sell our home and our belongings we will be moving aboard our new boat.

    I can see her now... a beautiful, older two masted ketch, some wood inside, and perhaps she will be wood on the outside as well. Four beautiful sails will take us where we wish, when we wish and take us to places far, far removed from the Eastern Plains and Great Majestic Mountains of Colorado. Out there, my friends, I will return to my roots. Back to the place of my family's forefathers and for that matter, to the place of my wife's ancestors as well.

    From the Ocean we all came, and to the Ocean we shall again return.
    Last edited by American Patriot; January 7th, 2010 at 19:40.
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  3. #3
    Super Moderator Malsua's Avatar
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    Default Re: Motorized Boating

    At first blush, I figured this thread would be about motor boating. http://amievil.org/pics/motorboat.jpg
    "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
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    Default Re: Motorized Boating

    Me too.

    (I was wrong)

    /chuckles
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    Creepy Ass Cracka & Site Owner Ryan Ruck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Motorized Boating


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    Senior Member samizdat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Motorized Boating

    If you can travel in time, then surely you can crank up the sails or bluster the wind. When you get that down, pick me up for a cruise. I haven't been water skiing for @35 years. That's a long time fer not walkin on de water. Shalom.

    canto XXV Dante

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    Default Re: Motorized Boating

    Quote Originally Posted by samizdat View Post
    If you can travel in time, then surely you can crank up the sails or bluster the wind. When you get that down, pick me up for a cruise. I haven't been water skiing for @35 years. That's a long time fer not walkin on de water. Shalom.
    Two things, Sami... first, if (and when) I (can) travel in time, I'd have to pick you up 35 years ago... lol and second, I doubt any sailboat I'll be driving will be going fast enough to haul you on skis.

    That is not to say that there aren't some sailboats out there capable, just that *I* won't be driving them!

    I forget the name of the boat, but there is a racing trimaran I saw recently that was dragging a couple of skiers and was probably doing 30 mph or so, maybe more, on wind power alone. Of course it was literally flying over the surface and the only part of the hull touching the water was the keel which was still under water. NONE of the three hulls were touching in some cases though.
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    Default Re: Motorized Boating

    Awesome story, Rick. I really enjoyed the trouble-at-sea portion of the story. Any ideas as to when you and your wife will acquire the new boat?

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    Default Re: Motorized Boating

    Quote Originally Posted by MinutemanCO View Post
    Awesome story, Rick. I really enjoyed the trouble-at-sea portion of the story. Any ideas as to when you and your wife will acquire the new boat?
    As a matter of fact, I DO have a date in mind

    We're going to BVI to make sure we want to do this. After that, assuming things go well, we aren't overwhelmed with sea sickness or something (something I doubt very much) we will be looking at approximately this time next year to make some final decisions.

    I've got a couple of things in mind. The first is, we pay off the bills and then fix up, and sell the house. Once that is done nothing is stopping us other than finding the right boat (which we can buy).

    The alternative I'm also looking at is finding a boat NOW... two years out (let's say two years for now) and survey it, if it is right buy it, finance it and start paying down the mortgage, use it later this year or next winter, and the following year. Keeping it in storage the rest of the time, then when we are "ready" selling the house, paying off the remaining mortgage and outfitting the boat for travel and hit the high seas then.

    Either will work, it's going to depend on which happens first.
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