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Preparations for the Next Phase
Doug Mayle
30-Jul-2006, Whortonsville, NC

It is evident to me that the readership of this blog is expanding, much to my delight. Initially, it was designed as an outlet for me to reflect upon this great discovery of 'Cruising' and allowed a great means for me to let my mom know what was going on in our lives (since I will be the first to admit that I am not the best at picking up the phone and giving my mother a call as often as she deserves). Now, though, friends at the dock, long-time landlubber friends, extended family, co-workers, and others have commented to us about the adventures and misadventures of Ashiya and Crew.

Along with this expanded audience comes the conundrum of selecting the appropriate writing style, purpose and content. For those who have read through the bulk of the log entries, you may notice that I shift between providing a detailed narrative of events, to attempts at painting a colorful picture of our surroundings and reactions to them, and to even weaker attempts at the occasional interjection of humor. I would like to apologize for my somewhat inconsistent nature in content and style, especially because it is likely to continue as I struggle to find and define my writing voice. Hopefully, as time progresses and the nature of our experiences become more and more noteworthy, your patience, Dear Reader, will be rewarded.

For the present, let me tell you that the preparatory efforts for the next phase (To be officially titled: 'A Bigger Boat') are currently under way. We spent the last weekend at the apartment performing internet boat shopping research, which included a hard target search of boats meeting our criteria in the greater Oriental area. For those interested, our criteria were:

- Less than $60k asking price
- 32 to 38 feet LOA
- max 5 ft draft

This weekend we began stepping aboard some boats, with boat brokers in tow, in order to begin separating the wheat from the chaff. Although there are still more local boats to look at, we were pleased with what we saw and have developed some confidence that we will be able to find a suitable boat which meets the criteria stated above.

Sheryl has done a fantastic job of organizing all of the data collected during our online and live research efforts, and we plan on placing potential boat candidates on a big board on the home office wall (opposite the big map of the Caribbean, hung on the other wall). Two boats from this weekend's search will make the big board:

- One Love a 33' Murray, steel hull boat
- Slo Pok a 35' Pearson, centerboard keel

Following a successful day of boat shopping, we had an opportunity to meet a couple who have provided ongoing inspiration for us to pursue the 'cruising' lifestyle. Tom and Amy (pictured above), have been writing an online log for the last 5 years. We discovered their site, The Sailing Adventures of Dream Catcher , about a year and a half ago, when we were preparing for our first true cruising experience aboard our friend's boat Artemesia. Through Tom and Amy's log, we read about their years of preparation for this lifestyle on through to the ultimate fruition of those efforts. They have spent the last two winters in the Bahamas aboard their 36' catamaran, while we have sat at our computer workstations anxiously awaiting each new log entry. Since they have returned to wait out another hurricane season right around the corner from where we keep Ashiya, we decided that it was time that we actually met these people.

I cannot relate how gracious it was for these virtual strangers to meet with us (a couple of internet stalkers); however, it is endemic of the cruising community to be so open and kind. We met at Paradise Cove for a drink on Saturday night, and found ourselves enjoying the conversation so much that we stayed up way past our normal bedtimes. Tom and Amy were kind enough to invite us over on Sunday, and we had an opportunity to see their boat, meet their ferrets, and talk more about cruising in the Bahamas. We hope to be fortunate enough to be able to see them again before they head back south in October.

As for us, we had to leave Ashiya in a relatively hurricane-ready state, because it will be a few weeks before we are going to be able to make it back to the coast. Visits from friends and family and a trip to Switzerland will likely keep us busy until Labor Day weekend. Until then, Dear Reader, have a very pleasant summer.

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