Tuesday, March 30, 2010

In the holding pattern

It's good to feel patience at this point, in this holding pattern.  I don't mind being here and I've been known to be impatient.  Would I like an offer on my house now?  Sure!  Would I like to place, and have accepted, an offer on the boat of our dreams?  You bet!  The thing is, we are in a good place right now and we don't feel rushed.  We aren't trying to buy and moor a boat while we still own the home so we aren't over extended.  We aren't rushed in any of this process so far and it feels really really good.

The home has only been on the market for two weeks and, even though the broker has made mention of a price reduction, we aren't ready to do that.  Why?  Because only about 20 people have toured the house. It's priced fairly and it's a very nice place.  I just know that, if enough people see it, someone will walk in and love it.  It will happen. We will get a good offer and we will walk away with what we need.

Our boat broker is keeping an eye out and letting us know about possible boats.  She is understanding that we are in a holding pattern and we don't expect her to be jumping through any hoops right now.  All is good on that front.

The shedding of stuff is going well. Two scooters, a couple guitars, a car, some electronics, books, and all the bicycles have put a good chunk of cash in the bank.  It's a good start.  Still, two motorcycles and a few other items to go.  Then, when the house sells, the huge estate sale (not run or managed by us) to finish the deal.

Until then, we look at boats.  We schedule day sails at the Center for Wooden Boats.  I investigate what it takes (time or money) to recondition and recalk a teak deck, should we find a boat that suits our needs that is so equipped.  Clarity is manifesting itself on just what kind of boat we want.   More and more we are visualizing what would work for us.  We keep talking our dream and speaking with our friends about it.

There is a sail on the horizon.  It's our boat.  It just hasn't come to port yet.

Monday, March 29, 2010

And it's really coming down to ...

Space. It's coming down to spaciousness (if such a thing is possible) on a boat that actually can sail pretty well. This does mean that we are often looking at boats with full or partially full keels but, while they don't point to windward (sail close to the wind) as a modern fin keel, the better ones do tend to sail well enough.

Last weekend, we looked at three boats. The first one was a big "NO" due to general quality of the overall boat, the issues in the interior and such. It was basically a project boat (which we don't have to buy) and a mess inside.

After that we looked at a Morgan 41 (aft cabin pictured here) and a Catalina 36.

The Morgan was quite roomy, with space approaching that of the Hardin 45. The aft cabin was roomy and boat modern. Overall the boat was a good choice even though I'd have to address a couple issues. The first one is, when did someone back this boat into a dock, how extensive is the damage, how expensive would it be to repair? Also, when was the rear cabin flooded with water (about 6" deep) and why?

The Catalina 36 is what some friends are living on. It's a nice boat but, as we looked at it, I kept getting the impression that it just doesn't have enough room, or the kind of room we want.

The thing to remember is, as a boat grows in length, it also grows in volume.

This means I'm finding myself thinking of volume, of space, the ability to move about and live on a boat. I'm looking for decks that aren't sloped, that have some space, that aren't tripping hazards. Too many of the modern boats like Beneteau and Juneau really seem to have this thing for sideways sloping decks that paint pictures in my head of people slipping sideways into the rails and breaking both their legs as they go over the side.

So, I'm looking for space and I'm willing to be the last one at anchor that night as long as, when I get there, I'm comfortable.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Unless it's about which boat

First it was the Helene, a Ben Seaborn design. Constructed in 1957 (yes, that's a year before I was born), this wood constructed sloop was way ahead of her time. She had a deep *fin* keel, and looked like a time traveler from future. When we toured this boat we were amazed at her spaciousness, the quality of her workmanship, the cleanliness of her bilge. The glass decks helped. Sure there were some questions like, how do you finance and 52 year old wooden boat? Where do we moor a 52 foot boat? Can we handle her?

It was easy to go down the road of saying that, if all these questions could be answered (and I will be honest they have not entirely left my mind), that I'd take her in a New York minute.

All of that for 119K asking price.

Then we looked at a Hunter 42, the modern end of the spectrum. Sleek, roomy, more expensive at around 140K asking price, but none of the problems of an older wooden boat. Then again, she'd look like every other Hunter at the dock.

After that, a walk around a Hardin 45 had us seeing possibilities. Glass hull, wonderful inside teak bright work, immense inside layout. We were also impressed with her glass decks, the remasting in aluminum, and the spaciousness of the deck layout. We ended up rushing our process and actually put an offer on this boat but couldn't come to terms with the other broker/client. We ended up walking away. Touring that boat again at the Anachortes boat show, we confirmed some of our concerns about the boat along with the strengths. The Windfall is still on our radar.

And most recently, a Bob Perry designed Baba 40, located in Olympia, Washington. The boat was in great shape inside. The outside is the issue. The owner of this Baba has not been able to keep her up like he wanted. I'll be spending my time working on the exterior while we live inside. One big job is having to recalk the teak decks. Still the price is very good for this boat (about 45K under normal). So, if I don't go in blind and know what I'm getting, she might be a great boat. Bob Perry himself said so the other day on Sailing Anarchy. :)

This coming Saturday, we will be touring a Cascade 42, tied up in Tacoma.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It's all about the money.

Last night, before we filled out the financing approval application on our boat, we walked along the Duwaminsh Marina.

The Marina of the Dead

I have rarely seem a more extensive collection of dying, derelict, and deteriorating boats laying about in one place. I could easily buy almost every boat in that marina -- cash. If I chose the worst ones, I'd likely get two or three. However, our boat is about a place to live, not a hobby on the water.

So we are working on a pre-approval, a vetting if you will, on financing a boat. This way we know what level of boat they think we can afford (it will likely be more than I am willing to go into debt for)before we make an offer on something we want. This makes our offer stronger. We can say, "and we are serious because we are already approved."

So, as that phase is started, we are still looking about for moorage. After all, the joy of a movable home can't be realized until you have a place to move it to, and a place to move it from.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

And now, the Baba 40

The choices are endless and, as Mark Nichols wrote in his book, "The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat", boats do grow on trees. Well, this one did. I think the entire interior was made from a single teak log.

Kerry and I spent a couple hours poking around a Baba 40 last Sunday. This for sale by owner boat need a little love topside (teak decks need recalking) but the rest of the boat looks pretty good. The owner let us poke around for a while then spent some time both sitting in the sun and then down in the main salon, just sharing stories and talking about his boat.

It was worth the trip to Olympia and back and it's clearly on our mind when the house sells.

In other news, the Hardin we were interested in was in Anachortes at their little boat show. It was much dirtier than I remember and, to be honest, I wonder if the owner really wants to sell.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The list

Since the Freedom Project Started

Things we have done:

  • Hired a realtor
  • Placed our home on the market
  • Went to the Seattle Boat show
  • Looked at about a hundred boats on line
  • Walked boats with brokers in Seattle, LaConnor, Anachortes, Friday Harbor, and Bellingham.
  • Looked at Hunter, a classic custom wooden sloop, Benetau, Catalina, Tayana, Ta Shing, Waquiez, Hardin, LeFitte, and others.
  • Figured out what it takes to make a live aboard space work.
  • Scouted for Moorage
  • Decided what we have to shed -- the list is huge.
  • Emptied the storage space in prep for stuff going in there.
  • Sold off two scooters, books, a car, all the bicycles, some guitars, stereo equipment, and more and put it all in the bank. Dealt with a lot of slime ball yahoos in the process from the craigslist ads.
  • Talked to about 20 boat brokers.
  • Made a decision to engage a boat broker as our representative.
  • Placed a contingency offer on a Hardin 45, only to have the response be not what we want, then withdrawing that offer with a friendly, "thank you."
Still to do:

  • Get an offer on the house we can accept.
  • Hear that our buyers are qualified for financing.
  • Start engaging our broker about boat choices.
  • Get our closing date.
  • Put an offer on a boat.
  • Get financing for boat.
  • Survey boat.
  • Sea Trial boat.
  • Find moorage.
  • Arrange the estate sale of 90% of all our belongings. If it doesn't fit in a couple plastic tubs, it doesn't go on the boat.
  • Arrange USCG classes for each of us.
  • Estate sale successful and more cash in the bank.
  • Start the process on the boat.
  • Close the house.
  • Move to a rented room if necessary.
  • Close on the boat.
  • Move boat to moorage.
  • Move onto boat.
Begin living aboard.

There's more but that is what it is so far.

The Begining -- The Freedom Project

It needed a name. We needed something to call this crazy idea. The germination of this came from some other posts in my personal blog and, as we started taking the steps necessary to make The Freedom Project happen, Kerry asked me if I was going to blog about it.

At first I was reluctant, because if we fail at this, everyone gets to watch. Then again, if we succeed, everyone gets to watch. In either case though, everyone gets to learn. Mulling this over, it makes sense to share the process so others who wish to follow along a similar path can do so.

Here are the two posts that started it...


"George Carlin (bless his departed soul -- wait, he didn't believe in God), once said, "you need a place for your stuff. Then you get more stuff. Then you need a bigger place for your stuff. Then you get more stuff..."

To that, I ask, "what if you got rid of your stuff?"

What if you got a place so small you can't get more stuff.

Would that free you from stuff?

It just may. "

Which was followed by this one:


"It's good to have a plan, to figure things out, to plot, conspire, until you have just the right path to take to, dare I say it, rule the world?

Well, my world, at least.

I've been thinking about stuff, and lost dreams.

I've been thinking of all the plans I made (be an architect, a photographer, a writer, a pilot, a cop) that didn't come to fruition, for whatever reason. Everyone has false starts, dreams that never come true once you wake up and have to go commute an hour to the job that pays the bills that keeps your lovely wife and beautiful children in a home, with good health care, in a good school system, in a community 40 miles from where you really want to live.

And now they are gone, grown, out on their own, and you have a chance to live the life you dreamed of, you read about, you drew up plans for that never got executed because the needs of other people came first above your own. I'm a Daddy - it's my job.

But, it's not my job anymore. I am answerable to myself and my new wife.


What now?

Well, the house is for sale.

My guitars, my books, my bicycles, my motorcycles, my bar, my tools, my furniture, guns, gun safe, ballistic vest (interesting life, no?), the movies, the records, the stereo, computer, not the art -- it goes in storage, the stuff I don't need to carry anymore -- it's all for sale.

And, we are moving, after the house sells.


To a yacht, on Lake Union, the Ship Canal, or Shilshole Bay, to live simply, in a small space, that is a sailboat.

And when the muse strikes us, to slip lines, raise a bridge or two with a sixty foot mast, and take our hearts and our souls to the open water; living an adventure under sail, on the water, with the clouds as our shade, and the wind as our horses.

Wait till you see the chariot. "