I'm sitting here in front of a nice warm fire New Year's morning, in Marble Falls TX. All our friends have just left after our annual New Year's party and some homemade breakfast tacos. Now, it's time to kick back relax a bit and absorbe the fact that it's freaking 2016.
When Kara and I first seriously discussed the idea of extended cruising, it was always a kind of ethereal 'plan'. You know the type...that sounds like fun, we should really figure out a way to make that happen. Then it settled in that this really was something we could do, but only if we did something to actively make it happen. So we got serious about actually learning to sail our little Catalina 22 around the lake, saving as much $ as possible and started shopping for a middle boat. Something bigger (mid 30s) to learn on for a few years before we actually bought a much bigger (we probably need at least 50ft...or so we thought at the time). We could do all that and aim to actually leave in 2020 (typical 5-6 year plan). The more we looked and read the more we kept thinking about that old tired advice of go small, go cheap, go now...
The thing is, I think it feels like old tired advice because you see and read it everywhere, once you get serious about really investigating the cruising lifestyle, it's literally everywhere. Everyone says, we should have gone sooner. So we really thought about that and made the decision to give that advice a shot. The great thing about life and boats is that everyone's ideas and perceptions are different. Guaranteed that we all picture something different when we think small and cheap. For us it meant finding a much smaller boat than we originally pictured for ourselves but that we believed we could be comfortable on. This originally brought us to Vela (then Baboo). We figured, this is plenty of boat for us. I mean sure we'd love a sugar scoop stern, and a pilot house, and the newer bigger boats for 2-3x the $ are super nice....but we can be happy (we think) with much less. So we opted to spend less on the boat and start getting her ready for an earlier departure date.
Some of the best advice we got, came from our virtual friends over at Totem. We've never actually met but reached out to Jamie for some advice on new sails and while we ended up going with a local loft to get that local connection, we really appreciated Jamie's willingness to share what they've learned on their voyage. His advice was to pick a date, not a year and a month but an actual day on the calendar. Something you can point to and say, we're going then. Otherwise it's just to easy to drag your feet and think we'll get to that...we still have years. Once there's a date and you compare that date against the todo list, shit gets real. But it also gets exciting.
So this year, we really get rolling. The new sails should be ready in the next couple weeks and we just removed out staysail boom to get ready for them and clean up the deck a bit.. We have a new dodger and bimini in the planning stages and have started planning the arch that will be built and installed in the March/April timeframe. We're hunting down the largest solar panels we can realistically fit, currently thinking 3 large panels in the 300-350W (each) range for the top of the arch. Followed by a wind gen and davits. That project will also include a full electronics upgrade, swim platform and windvane...so by far our biggest ticket item.
At the same time, we're planning to put our pretty little lake house (where we currently live) on the market (April/May) and move into our condo (currently rented out but the lease ends in May). This start our downsizing process and by getting us back to Austin means we'll be an hour closer to the Vela, two hours closer on the round trip which will make it easier to get down and be productive on those work weekends.
So for us, 2016 is going to be a big year and that's really sinking in for me as I sit in front of this fire and think about the year ahead. I'm pumped and while I know it will be an expensive and likely stressful process, it's that date that has my attention.
April 26 2017, is right around the corner...lucky us!