S/V Passage - Refitting a Classic (& Building Our Skills) Before Cutting the Docklines

We are working toward our dream, one step at a time, and are prepared to make mistakes and learn from them so we become better cruisers every day.

Vessel Name: Passage
Vessel Make/Model: 1980 Pearson 365 Ketch #324
Hailing Port: Chicago, IL
Crew: David Cole & Brodi Cole
About:
We started sailing in 2004 when David's dad bought his first sailboat, a 30' Hunter on Lake Michigan. David spent many hours on Lake Michigan and when his dad upgraded to a 42' Hunter, even made several multi-day crossings between Florida and the Bahamas. [...]
Extra:
In early 2010, we made a 5-year plan to pay off our debt, save money, buy a sailboat and take off for the adventure of a lifetime. One year into that plan, Brodi discovered an amazing deal that resulted in us acquiring "Passage"-a 1980 Pearson 365 Ketch-three years ahead of "schedule." We hope this [...]
Home Page: http://www.sailblogs.com/member/svpassage
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Recent Blog Posts
30 July 2011 | Chicago, IL

Guest Post by Tyler

My recount of sailing one Saturday:

27 July 2011 | Chicago, IL

Magazines and Blogging and Forums, Oh My!

When it comes to sailing...cruising, racing, or anything in between...there are so many "resources" one can use that it's actually frustrating to find the stuff that's actually useful. The focus photo of this blog is actually all the sailing magazines I've been collecting on my bedstand since the 2010 [...]

26 July 2011

Passage is on Facebook!!!!

We really love where our lives are taking us, and that others-some we haven't even met-seem to enjoy reading about this process in the blog. So, to add some extra spice to our blog we've created a page just for Passage! On it, we'll be able to post extra pictures, videos, and other fun extras as we think [...]

24 July 2011 | Chicago, IL

Wind is to us what money is to life on shore

Wind: one of nature's little blessings by David Cole.

23 July 2011 | Chicago, IL

Learning From An Expert

So, this is David again (I thought I would pick up the blog while Brodi is traveling for work). This has been another interesting weekend on Passage. Since I was off on Friday I decided to take Holly up on her offer of her recently returned friend Ryan's sailing expertise. I called him up about [...]

21 July 2011 | Chicago, IL

Why's All The Rum Gone?!?!?! A Tale of a Threesome and a Hot Mess

Because we drank it!

20 July 2011 | Chicago, IL

“Trust your crazy ideas” ~Dan Zadra

It's so hot here, I don't even want to go out on the boat because I dread the HOT air that will waft out from Passage's cabin when I open up the companionway. I know, what am I going to do when I'm in the tropics with no AC? After all, in some parts of the world 99" with a heat index of 114" might be [...]

18 July 2011 | Monroe Harbor & Lake Michigan

When the Sailboat Beats You Up, Sometimes you Beat it Back.

Wow, what a weekend we had! These past few days have been crazy. In the end everyone was saying how wonderful it was, but kept noticing bruises on themselves. I guess after reading this post you will probably notice that the boat was probably beating on us in retribution for our learning mistakes.

17 July 2011 | Monroe Harbor

Easing Back to the Upgrades After Vacation

We didn't spend a lot of time doing "Passage projects" towards the beginning of the week, but David was off on Thursday and Friday so I met him after work each day to get some things done. I started a new job on Monday, and now I can walk to the harbor from my new office...a nice, new perk! I really [...]

10 July 2011 | Chicago, IL

Welcome Home!

We are finally back from our big road trip! As we pulled into our parking space, we officially clocked 1,999.8 miles in 10 days. One of our stops along the way was the Atlanta suburbs, where David's dad is downsizing his storage unit and decided to give us some great stuff from his old sailboat rather [...]

Guest Post by Tyler

30 July 2011 | Chicago, IL
Tyler / Sizzlin'
My recount of sailing one Saturday:

As I recount "the sea was angry that day my friends, like an old man trying to return soup at a deli." Well in honesty the sun was angry--and I was burning. Grilling really...and the water was much cooler than the blistery sun. So much so that I jumped in the lake quite a few times.

The wind became more steady as the day went on, which was of some relief because as we went through quite a few beers that day. We found that we had nowhere near the amount of ice we needed for a full day of sailing with 90 degree temps.

Overall Passage didn't fail us and we weren't boarded that day for our mischief's (including No Child Left Behind... which almost occurred) [editor's note: one of the other day-crew jumped off the cockpit to cool off but did it when Passage was sailing too fast for him to keep up] and that was day one.

Magazines and Blogging and Forums, Oh My!

27 July 2011 | Chicago, IL
Brodi
When it comes to sailing...cruising, racing, or anything in between...there are so many "resources" one can use that it's actually frustrating to find the stuff that's actually useful. The focus photo of this blog is actually all the sailing magazines I've been collecting on my bedstand since the 2010 Annapolis Sailboat Show. In classic cruiser style, we love a great deal!

"Free" fender floating in Lake Michigan? We'll go pick it up during our sailing lesson as a "man overboard drill" and convince our instructor to let us keep it.

Free reusable shopping bag or 4 free back issues at the boat show? We'll get a subscription!

Free gear bag and 3 free issues for autorenewal? Here's my card!

It's like an addiction. In any case, we (I) have now managed to subscribe to Cruising World, Blue Water Sailing, Sail, Ocean Voyager...with a handful of random Good Old Boat, Latts & Atts, and Sailing World thrown in for good measure. Oh, and don't forget Latitude 38! I can read the entire thing online for free!

And then there's the blogs...if you quit your job (or have one that travels with you), then I probably do or want to read about it. Heck, I started one even though Passage isn't going anywhere for at least a year! (Yeah, the five year plan has been "scrapped." We're leaving as soon as Passage feels ready, or before December 15, 2015, whichever happens first.)

David has also really gotten into the forums...sailboatowners.com, pearsonowners.com, cruisersforum.com...they all have nuggets of wisdom to share with the not-yet-salted [not counting the crossing(s) between Jacksonville and the Abacos 4-5 years ago]. I even joined an email forum, Low Cost Voyaging, for a while...

Overall, no matter how much "help" we get-solicited or not-it's important to remember that everyone does things differently. We don't have to have varnish to love our exterior wood trim; grey teak can be classic! Maybe we don’t need a watermaker…our boat does have a whopping 150 gallons worth of freshwater tanks. I am an information-aholic and feel like a sponge because I want to take in as much as I can. Even if it's bad advice I keep hoping it'll help us make an educated decision.

What I’ve found, though, is the advice is never bad…it’s good for the situation it’s intended. Cruising World, for example, helps the liveaboard travellers but at heart seems geared toward bareboat tourists. I struggled for a while to find information geared toward our cheaper, DIY-style but have found quality reading in the under-40 bloggers as well as a “new” friend of ours who has actually circumnavigated with his brother. It’s been a rough ride finding interesting, relevant reading material. Hopefully this blog fills that niche for others in a similar situation sometime.

To that end, if there’s anything you want to know about our experiences, plans, hopes, dreams, etc…let us know! And while you’re at it, check out our Facebook page…more photos and some videos, too!

Passage is on Facebook!!!!

26 July 2011
Brodi
We really love where our lives are taking us, and that others-some we haven't even met-seem to enjoy reading about this process in the blog. So, to add some extra spice to our blog we've created a page just for Passage! On it, we'll be able to post extra pictures, videos, and other fun extras as we think of them. Feel free to leave us a note if there's anything you'd like us to write about in our blog, as things develop!

Click Here to "Like" our Facebook Page!

Wind is to us what money is to life on shore

24 July 2011 | Chicago, IL
David Cole / Amazing
Wind: one of nature's little blessings by David Cole.
Why I respect the wind...
It freely provides propulsion to our sail.
It shows itself to us through the little ripples and waves that it creates on the water without fail.
It's there when the sun beats us down.
It flows and blows, cooling us all around.
It never asks anything of us choosing instead to only give.
It moves the air around providing a constant supply of oxygen so that all might live.
It may occasionally whip up a vicious storm in its fury...but it also will push it by in a hurry.
Without it the world would surely come to her end. And that my friend is why I respect the wind.


Chicago Waterfront
Unexpectedly our plans fell by the wayside on Saturday and thus we found ourselves free to head to the harbor for a little stroll on the lake. On the way I put the last minute feelers out to see if anyone wanted to join us and as I suspected everyone already had plans. As a bit of a surprise though, Holly and Ryan who were on their way to a Cubs game decided to skip it and head to the dock to meet us.
Brodi and I rushed to prepare. Stopping at the store for some last minute provisions and quickly tossing off the mooring lines to make it to the pump-out dock in the allotted time. Oops, in our rush we forgot to prep the dingy and it still hung from our davits (a little too low - dragging in our wake). I managed to raise it while underway with one of the winches, so that it still hung from the davits, but wasn't touching the water. Stressed from the rush, Brodi and I were both a bit on edge and thus weren't completely on the same page with how we going to do the docking procedure. Instead of figuring out a plan together and enacting it, I made the mistake of decreeing what should happen and how. Brodi did exactly as I asked and made a beeline for the dock, coming at it in a perfectly perpendicular fashion. I noticed that we were coming in too fast and yelled it back to her to throw it in reverse, but instead of waiting or having her pull off for a second attempt, I jumped off onto the dock with the midship dockline in hand. I lashed the boat down quick and tight as I watched in shock as the bow suddenly started rushing toward the dock pivoting on the axis that I just created. I froze not knowing what to do except to yell to Brodi to straighten it out and keep it in reverse (I had to look like a mad man). Thankfully, three other sailors jumped from their boat on the other side of the dock and rushed to the rescue. As the bow careened toward the dock they seemingly flew into action. I only saw them doing their best to push her away from the dock and one leapt aboard the bow grabbed the bow dockline and lashed it down. I ran to the stern and had Brodi toss me the dockline there and although she wasn't happy with me she never let it interfere with the full docking procedure (such a professional).
After I was comfortable that Passage was safe and secure, I wandered over to the other sailors to express my gratitude and explained to them that this was only our third ever docking procedure (and first time solo). They were totally understanding and explained that everyone has learning pains, but I couldn't help but feel that I was just making excuses.
Back on board Passage, Brodi and I had work to do before our guests arrived. The dingy needed to be drained from all the rainfall from the night prior's record breaking storm and our dragging her through the harbor. Then we headed below deck for a heart to heart and to eat before our guests arrived. After I finished a single hot-wing I heard familiar voices and Lucky started barking to our guests asking for permission to board. As I explained my botched docking experience to Ryan, I couldn't help but think of something that Brodi always likes to say..."schedules sink ships". If we hadn't been in a rush to be meet a timeline we might have thought things through before and headed over slowly (not distracted by the dingy dragging in the water) and done things correctly. But alas this is how knowledge is obtained - through trial and error.
Ryan assisted me with brute strength in finishing the raising up & flipping of the dingy over to drain. He then commented to me that we would be better off towing it behind us if it is coming with us on the sail today because it was swaying quite a bit on the davits. So, we decided to lower it into a towing position as soon as we cleared the harbor. Holly chose this moment to go grab us some ice from the harbor master's office so I scarfed down the other four wings I had and prepped for our departure.
I really wanted to leave the dock fast and get on with the day's adventure as I felt that would enable me to put the incident behind me and start over fresh. No sooner than Holly arrived than the three of us hopped onto the dock to walk the ship back a bit in order for Brodi to have room enough to maneuver. Brodi stated that she wanted me (at the stern) to be the last to board and make sure that she was pushed off of the dock. So, I tossed her the dock line and had to free the dingy from under the dock where it was catching and before I knew it the boat was getting pretty far off the dock. I leapt and one foot cleared the lifeline while the other landed on top of it (thankfully nobody had secured it from when I lowered it for Holly to board) and it gave way and didn't trip me up.
Looking back, I was soo excited about finally being able to get out on the water again & have Ryan's experience to learn from that I wasn't thinking 100% clearly up to this point. Now that we were getting out on the water my mind was clearing and reality was setting in. Holly quickly hoisted the mizzen and then she and I guided the Main while Ryan hoisted it up the mast. A little while after Ryan and I lowered and secured the dingy in our wake, Brodi suggested raising the Genoa. But prior to that we saw something floating in the distance and Brodi wanted to see if it might be a lost fender we could pick up. As it turned out it was a tree trunk (or a big part of one) bobbing in and out of the water vertically (looking like a bumper from a distance). We quickly veered away and rose the headsail.
The whole time I was focused on what Ryan was saying & showing. From how to lash the lines to how to trim the sail, he was full of information that I was lapping up. Some of it was different from how I had learned, while other tidbits reminded me of what I picked up on the fly with my dad. Ryan was so open and kept reminding me that he didn't want to take over, but that he was just giving suggestions. I let him know that I wanted to be a sponge and that I don't have that captain Ahab ego yet, so he should feel free and keep teaching if he so desired.
I left him up on the foredeck with Holly (he was teaching her to tie a bowline knot) and returned to Brodi at the helm. She wanted to join us and asked me to take over, but instead I decided to test out the autopilot again. I went below deck pulled it out and brought it up, connected it, and wouldn't you know it - the thing worked like a charm this time! Sails trim and full, autopilot on course, Brodi and I both were able to head to the foredeck to spend time with our guests. Brodi joined Holly in learning knots from Ryan while I went below to get my guitar. I sat on the bow with my back to the roller-fuller and tried to play a few chords (apologizing to everyone when I hit a note out of key). For awhile we all just relaxed.
The whole day we kept seeing the occasional tree, branch, and other foreign obstacle to avoid. At one point after coming about we watched a rouge ripple come at us from the coast. It was the strangest thing to see a wave (about 2 or 3 feet when it reached us) all alone, going the wrong direction. We figured it must have been caused by the rocks that the city was dumping to make a wall on the shoreline. Brodi adjusted us so that when it hit we barely noticed it, riding its trough and not breaching it. At this point we noticed a severe drop in the wind and we were bobbing along at 0.8 knots. Ryan showed us how to see the wind on the water (the term actually has meaning) and we turned on the motor (cheating, I know) and headed out to where there was wind. We soon cut the engine again and were clicking along at a steady pace.
Ryan and Holly informed us that they needed to go to a birthday bash and so we started our journey back to the harbor. When we got close we again saw trees floating sporadically in the water so everyone stood watch so that Brodi could steer us away from them. It was amazing and nerve racking to see so big of obstacles floating where we are so use to just sailing along, but it helped us to realize why you need human eyes on the water when sailing and not just radar or other instruments that might/would miss this type of hazard. When we got to the harbor mouth Ryan had Brodi get into a holding pattern of sorts while we pulled down and layered the sails. We then motored into the harbor. Ryan and Holly did the honors of catching the mooring for us. Then the three of us (while Brodi cleaned up the boat) jumped in for a cool down swim. Holly and I swung in using the spinnaker Halyard as a rope swing and then Ryan joined us a bit later. Reluctantly we stopped swimming, changed, helped Brodi with the cleaning and called the tender for a pickup.
Another wonderful day of sailing over we had to go home to do some chores and let Brodi get some rest for her flight the next day. All I can think though is that soon, we won't ever have to leave Passage, and that our only concerns will be regarding her and each other. That my friends will be the day we are ready to depart for our new lives at sea.

Learning From An Expert

23 July 2011 | Chicago, IL
David Cole / Hot Enough
So, this is David again (I thought I would pick up the blog while Brodi is traveling for work). This has been another interesting weekend on Passage. Since I was off on Friday I decided to take Holly up on her offer of her recently returned friend Ryan's sailing expertise. I called him up about noon and picked him up to head to the boat.
He conveyed some amazing stories to me on our way to the boat. To make a long story short, Ryan just returned from a job moving a sailboat from Grenada to Tahiti via the Panama Canal (I believe it was 30 days and 4,000 mile ocean passage). When he was younger, he and his brother circumnavigated together and he has crewed on many boats over the years. I really had no idea what he would show me when Holly suggested him to me. We hadn't seen each other since a New Year's party 2 years ago and had never talked sailing. He was shocked that I had been a sailor prior to our meeting the first time and the subject never had come up (even when we all hung out in Honolulu, Hawaii when Brodi, Dave and Holly ran the Aids Marathon in 2008).
Okay, so we get out to the mooring and immediately I take him below deck to look at the bilge and the engine. He explained that his brother is the diesel guy, but he could point out a few things to me. I was overwhelmed by his knowledge, but did pick up a few important things:
• Clean out the engine room whenever possible.
• Keep zip ties and paper/plastic to a minimum in there because it can clog the bilge pump.
• Where to add oil.
• Where to add radiator fluid (since it was water cooled - I didn't know it had radiator fluid).
• That our gauges are not functioning.
• That the alternator belt needs to be replaced (shavings from the belt are visibly noticeable).
• That the battery bank is in a bad spot making accessing the alternator next to impossible.
• That the diesel class and manual that Brodi found for me are a must.
Where having Ryan on board really shined was in his rigging knowledge. While we were sitting in the cockpit chatting about the alternator he was fiddling with the PVC covers for the stanchion bases. He noticed the old crumbling silicone and how many needed to be taken off and reattached. He showed me what to look for when examining my rigging and we found one backstay on the mizzen (jigger) mast that will need to be replaced along with a lifeline that was missing a safety ring and was close to losing it's clevis pin.
AloftAfter a crash course in the rigging that we could see from the deck, he offered to get into my boatswain's chair and let me hoist him the 46 feet to the top of the main mast. Even with a two speed winch this was a heck of a task (and he only weighs a buck 60). I can't imagine doing this task in heavier seas or under sail (thus I think he convinced me to get more mast steps installed before going offshore). While aloft he was an excellent teacher (calling down to me and explaining this and that about what he saw and taking photos to cover with me later). He then had me lower him so he could check out the spreaders (the part of the mast that make it look like a giant cross). Again he was tremendously informative about what he noticed and even took a photo or two of me and Lucky from his vantage point. When I got him down he switched spots with me and hauled me up to the spreaders so that I could see first hand what he noticed about working wear on one of the stanchions. Wow, the view was amazing from up there, but I get why he said that a fall from 20 feet or 40 on a boat is not something you will likely walk away from and have a strong respect for my equipment when aloft now.
At this point almost 4 hours had gone by (and it only felt like 1 to me), but Ryan and I jumped in the lake for a cool down swim. Having an idea, I climbed back up to grab masks and tossed one down to Ryan before I joined him in the water again. I then asked him if he would give me a run-through about what I am seeing under and on the surface of the hull. He and I swam all around and under the boat looking at the prop, shaft, and various through holes. He did his best to explain them all to me ending with the dept gauge plate and speed gauge sensor. Then we were both very tired from swimming and came up to relax and have a beer while we talked and waited for Brodi to show up.
Then after a bit of social time Ryan had to go, but he left me with so much to think about that my mind was swimming - so much so that instead of going out sailing with Brodi as planned that all I wanted to do was talk to her about all that I had learned. Before leaving, Brodi and I decided to empty the dingy of water from all the crazy rain Chicago has been having and try to fix the tarp again. Since we didn't know when we would return to the boat again with the busy weekend we were looking at having, we propped the dingy up at a 45 degree angle on the davits (tarp securely in place).
All-in-all I had a short, but though engaging day on board with Ryan and the only thing that could have made it better would have been to take Passage out with him and see what else I could/would learn under way. But that would have to wait for another time/day.

Why's All The Rum Gone?!?!?! A Tale of a Threesome and a Hot Mess

21 July 2011 | Chicago, IL
Brodi / Freakin' Hot!!!!
Because we drank it!

I’m sure that, just like David, you’re just dying to find out what happened on Sunday…he had to work but Dave, Holly and I wanted to go out an enjoy some of what was shaping up to be an amazing day. At first, he seemed really surprised I’d feel comfortable going out without him. But until he asked if I was “okay” with doing it, I honestly hadn’t thought about it being a problem. After all, Dave and Holly spent most of Saturday “learning the ropes” and I figured that a threesome who knew a little bit should be just fine only a couple miles offshore. We left the pumpout dock without any problems, motored past where all the tourist boats do the shoreline cruises, and put up the sails. For some reason I thought it would more difficult!

The wind was perfect…we had the genoa almost all the way out, and were moving at a pretty good pace. We hit 6.2 knots a few times! As we headed north, we saw an odd blob in the water. It almost looked like a chair from a distance, but as we sailed closer it turned out to be almost a dozen red balloons! They had been covered by a party supply store bag. We decided to rescue Lake Michigan by getting the balloons out of it, so we dropped the genoa and turned on the engine to circle back around to pick them up. I originally wanted to sail past and swoop them out of the water, but the wind didn’t cooperate. When we got closer, Holly dove off the side of the boat and swam to the balloons but it was more difficult than she expected to swim back to Passage so it turned into a true practice (wo)man overboard drill since I got to throw her the yellow horseshoe buoy we have mounted on Passage’s stern. It carries really far! Unfortunately, Holly was out of reach of the nylon line so I had to reel it in and try again. Success!

We spent some more time swimming off the boat for a while because it was so hot, and realized we were pretty far out so by about 4pm we decided to head back towards the harbor. As is typical in cruising, the wind was coming from the exact same direction we needed to go so we headed almost straight toward shore hoping that we could get tack back south. Unfortunately, the wind wasn’t in our favor heading back in to shore so we didn’t have enough speed to tack through the “no go zone” and ended up floating in circles as we tried to regain wind.

We tried to start the engine, thinking we could just drop the sails and motor south but there wasn’t enough battery power to turn on the blower. We’d been listening to our iPod all day and drained the battery. (As it turns out, Lucky loves “Come Sail Away” by Styx because at a certain point in the song he starts howling along with the synthesizer. Seriously!!!) David had told me that we had to run the blower for several minutes before starting the engine, so I thought that meant we wouldn’t be able to start the engine either. It was a bit nerve wracking to think we had no power and no engine, and after some brainstorming Holly and I both phoned a friend…well, she texted a friend and I called David. Turns out, we “have” to run the blower to carbon monoxide doesn’t build up down below and asphyxiate people. Since no one was below, we could skip that step this time and fire up the engine. It takes much less power to start the engine than run our blower, so the engine started no problem. We were back in business! It was a longer sail than expected, and we didn’t end up getting back until well after 7pm.

I was kind of nervous about getting back to the can, since David and I have struggled with getting this process right…but it was one of the best ones yet! Dave and Holly did a phenomenal job grabbing the whisker poles (yes, we put out two of them each time we leave) and getting the mooring lines on the cleats while I cut the engine. We had a mini celebration on deck because we officially rocked the day! We left the pump out dock without more boat damage, got the sails up, sailed north and back, did a person overboard drill, overcame engine issues (with help), brought the sails down, and picked up the can…and the craziest thing is I was the most experienced sailor on the boat. Now THAT’S scary! I wanted to clean up the boat after two full days of revelry, then pick David up from work. But when we got back to the can, the cover somehow came off the dinghy. So, Dave and Holly wonderfully volunteered to jump in the water and put it back on while I cleaned up below decks. There were some seriously funny antics, but the bottom line is in honor of their harbor heroics (and weekend sailing success), the dinghy will be renamed “Hot Mess.”

Shame on those of you with dirty minds! There were no saucy sailing stories like that happening! There were three of us, quoting Pirates of the Caribbean while new scallywags earned the right to pick a new name for the row boat. THIS WEEKEND ROCKED!!!!

And Dave now TOTALLY has the sailing bug; he’s even shopping on yachtworld…watch out Dave, that’s what I started doing last spring and look what happened!

“Trust your crazy ideas” ~Dan Zadra

20 July 2011 | Chicago, IL
Brodi / Hotter Than Mexico (seriously)!!!
It's so hot here, I don't even want to go out on the boat because I dread the HOT air that will waft out from Passage's cabin when I open up the companionway. I know, what am I going to do when I'm in the tropics with no AC? After all, in some parts of the world 99" with a heat index of 114" might be on the chilly side. I'll worry about that when I get to it...and likely spend all day floating on a foam noodle next to Passage...with a cerveza or pina colada...(cue Jimmy Buffet!)

But I digress...or should stop digressing and actually blog...

I started this blog to track our progress, adventures, misadventures, and other miscellaneous happenings as we "sail" through this phase in our lives (bad pun intended). Two months and two days ago, we became yacht owners. Since then, so much has changed; I don't just mean how we spend our weekends (doing boat stuff) or how every conversation seems to circle back to Passage (usually a cool boat toy and how to build it cheaper ourselves). I feel happier, more fulfilled...and I'm surrounded by amazing people who encourage and support my life approach.

This past weekend was truly spectacular...spending time with friends (and a friend's cool family member) who love sailing for the sake of sailing is pretty great. When David and I first started reading about people who gave up the rat race for something different, to live aboard a sailboat, they all seemed to get negative reactions that they were crazy, weird or psychotic for making such a change. We’ve been lucky enough to have the opposite experience…mostly curiosity, questions, and a surprising number of crew volunteers.

Maybe none of you three readers out there actually think we’re going to do this, and we’ll make Passage pretty and just have fun summer sailing on Lake Michigan. If that’s the case you don’t know us well enough…in college no one wanted to go to London with me, so I went alone…for a week…alone. It rocked. In the Navy, David walked across an entire island in the Middle East…alone…with nothing to drink. Crazy? Yeah. Stupid? Maybe. Fun? Hell Yes!! Two things we both share are an adventurous spirit and a bullheaded desire to prove people wrong. For the doubters, it will happen…for the supporters, you have berth dibs on visits.

No matter what a person’s dream is, it CAN happen. This isn’t because some people are luckier than others, or they’ve built up lots of karma points; rather, it’s because some people don’t believe that it’s too late for a dream. Those same people will do whatever it takes to make their dreams happen. One can either live to work or choose to work to live. Our five year plan was fundamentally a shift from the former mental paradigm to the latter. Yes, we both still work full time…David even has two jobs. The difference is WHY we do it…not for a bigger condo, or a newer car, or even a 3D TV. We do it for each other, for our shared goal, for our mutual dreams.

Everyone needs to find their passion. And not be afraid of hardship and change. Those are things that force a person out of a “rut” and sometimes into where/who/what they really want to be. Those are the things that helped us realize what’s important, and reexamine what we want from the next 5, 10, 50 years. Thank you to those of you who read this blog, who listen to our stories, who have encouraged us to follow our dreams…our parents, our family, our friends-old and new. More than anything else, this blog is a testament to making dreams come true and each post is an appreciation of the people who have been and are such great support along the way.

When the Sailboat Beats You Up, Sometimes you Beat it Back.

18 July 2011 | Monroe Harbor & Lake Michigan
David / HOT & SUNNY!
Wow, what a weekend we had! These past few days have been crazy. In the end everyone was saying how wonderful it was, but kept noticing bruises on themselves. I guess after reading this post you will probably notice that the boat was probably beating on us in retribution for our learning mistakes.
It all began when we were supposed to take another couple out on our boat on Saturday, but one of them had to cancel due to a bridal shower she was having and then in the course of some confusion her spouse to be and his dad ended up being able to come and two more of our friends. All-in-all we had Tyler, Bob, Dave, Holly, Brodi and myself (not to mention Lucky) on the boat. Our first guests got there about 11:00 AM while I was swabbing the deck. Then shortly thereafter Dave & Holly showed up with loads of beer (a 24 case of bottled Corona & a mini keg of Coors).

Very soon after their arrival we pulled the mooring lines and motored out to see the other sailboats clumping together for the race to Mackinac. Mind you there was no wind to speak of for the first 2 miles of motoring (all the racers had their spinnakers out). I decided to slowly raise our sails starting with the Mizzen, then with some urging from Brodi, Tyler and I started to raise the Main for the first time since getting the slides attached. Oops, it got caught by the Cunningham on the way up and put a small hole in it (thankfully not in a place that will tear too easily). Now we get to learn how to patch a sail. Then we pulled out the whopping Genoa, all 130% of it. While there was still not a ton of wind Dave wanted to see the water intake facility and so I had Brodi aim us and we started to get more and more wind. Everyone was finally saying “cut the engine, cut the engine, let’s sail” so we did just that and at about three miles from our mooring can we started to sail on pure wind alone. What a feeling, what a rush, what freedom. We started noticing that we were gaining momentum and the sails were filling and looking good.

Brodi kept us on a good heading and then we cut over, jibing while I helped the Genoa across the deck, getting everyone involved whether they wanted to or not (Bob had one line of the Genoa and Dave took the other while Tyler and I freed it up for some hang-ups). Wow, such great teamwork from a crew that had little to no experience working together or on a boat for that matter. After awhile Brodi tired of standing at the wheel and we started trading off the job (Dave was next).

Dave was really getting into it after his initial frustration at how to steer and manage the wind at the same time (sailboats don’t turn like cars and don’t like to be overcorrected). Once he learned this, with some coaching from Brodi, he became a master at it. Dave was pumped up when he saw that he got the boat up to 6 knots. Then Holly wanted a try – she encountered the same initial learning curves that Dave did with steering and wind, but also figured it out pretty quick and once she learned to not look at the compass, and instead to look at the wind vane & to turn away from the wind, she took to it very well. Holly was calling out every time she hit a new speed record (to the cheers of everyone). Then someone clicked a switch on the speedometer and noticed that we were only going 5 knots and that we had actually been celebrating our distance traveled (rookie mistake). But after that we really got into it and I believe that while Tyler was at the helm next that we actually hit 6 knots.
Finally, while I was at the helm, it was late enough in the day that I figured we should start heading south back toward the can. So, I had everyone prepare to come about and again everyone seemed to be energized by the opportunity to perform a maneuver. They did swimmingly! I was sooo excited to see a group working together on my boat that I forgot that it was only our third time actually sailing the vessel. I took us on a heading toward another water treatment facility and handed off the helm to Brodi.

When we got close to the facility I noticed warning buoys floating around it and warned Brodi – she then corrected our course and was on the lookout for them. After sailing us down south of Monroe Harbor we decided to turn north again and I took over.

I brought us within 100 feet of the planetarium so that all the tourists could take pictures of my beautiful boat (too bad I’ll never see the photos). Then Tyler got a call from Liz saying that the shower was over and they wanted him and his dad to come home. So, we headed back to the harbor. At which time Brodi took the helm while Dave and I took down the sails. While motoring in Brodi decided to drop Tyler and Bob off at the harbor wall (not the stop and go & not our can). This was another first for us and although I was nervous – we did better than I had feared. On our first pass we hit the wall with a rub rail (because we had the bumpers too low) and broke part of it off, but thankfully no damage to the hull. The second pass I was waiting on shore for them and caught the boat flawlessly (with a bit of good steering on Brodi’s part). We unloaded two of our passengers and Holly took Lucky to the grass to do his business.

After a while I was getting over my horror about breaking the rub rail and against my slanted judgment we took the boat back out into the lake instead of taking it to the can so that I could look over the damage and dwell on it. But by going out, I mostly forgot about the damage as Dave and I put up the sails. But there was really no wind to speak of and we were just luffing. We tried many different things but there wasn’t much to do so we dropped the sails and motored around a bit. The day had gotten so hot that Holly decided that she wanted to see how the water was. She slipped into the water down the swim ladder and wanted Dave to speed up the boat. And so we dragged her along and she loved it. So, I decided to join her. Amidst the diesel fumes in my face and the fact that my shorts were falling off (Holly decided to help me and kept pulling them back up), Dave pulled us through the water. Dave was the next to jump in and then when I pulled myself out, Brodi climbed into the water. We traded back and forth and lost Brodi and Holly for while, but Dave and I did a good job of circling the boat back around to them (woman overboard drill – no lifesling necessary). After a few hours of diving off the boat and generally enjoying the lake we decided to head in and avoid coming in after dark. We managed to make it back to the mooring can just as the sun was setting behind Chicago. I got to show Dave how to pick up the lines and set them.

We all lay around drinking and barbecuing some more brats for a few hours until, as a group, we all decided to watch the fireworks and sleep on the boat for the night. Brodi had the opportunity to test out her mattresses on some guinea pigs. Such a gracias hostess, she prepped everyone’s bed and called it a night. We all awoke to the sun very early (6:30 ish), but nobody wanted to get up (least of all Lucky who was sleeping on Holly’s pillow and forehead). But at about 8:30, Brodi ambled out of bed and hailed a tender to take Lucky for a potty break and talk to the Harbor Master about our head inspection. When she returned we pulled off the can and headed for the dock to pump the head and clean the boat. I had to head to work so the rest of the weekend belonged to Brodi, Dave, and Holly.

Easing Back to the Upgrades After Vacation

17 July 2011 | Monroe Harbor
Brodi / Hot & Windy
We didn't spend a lot of time doing "Passage projects" towards the beginning of the week, but David was off on Thursday and Friday so I met him after work each day to get some things done. I started a new job on Monday, and now I can walk to the harbor from my new office...a nice, new perk! I really wanted to go out sailing for a bit, since the wind was consistent yet not too strong. On the other hand, David wanted to clean up Passage as well as put back up the brass I cleaned as well as the lifeline netting we bought a while back to help keep Lucky safe under sail. He had been really productive already that day, picking up our main from Doyle Sails (their Chicago office is less than a mile from our condo!), and re-rigged it to the mast with its fresh new mainmast slides. We started the process of putting up the netting, and once we figure out how to get one of the turnbuckles to loosen off the lifelines. If anyone has any ideas, we are totally open to suggestions!

On Friday, we were FINALLY able to take Passage back out on the lake for the first time since we brought her up to the harbor in June. It wasn't a long sail, but it sure was fun to put up the sails and turn off the engine and just enjoy the stillness away from the city. It was a bit nervewracking when we decided to head back to the can because the batteries were almost totally dead, and we had a very tough time getting the engine to start as we were ready to drop the sails. Once got it going, we did fine and we wrapped up the night at West Marine buying two new deep cycle dual purpose batteries to replace the ones that had basically completely stopped holding a charge. After 3+ years on dry dock, whod've thought they'd do that?!

We ended up at Jewel to shop for provisions for our outing with friends on Saturday afternoon. A good balance of productivity and enjoyment on a hot summer Chicago evening.

Welcome Home!

10 July 2011 | Chicago, IL
Brodi / Sunny & over 90 degrees
We are finally back from our big road trip! As we pulled into our parking space, we officially clocked 1,999.8 miles in 10 days. One of our stops along the way was the Atlanta suburbs, where David's dad is downsizing his storage unit and decided to give us some great stuff from his old sailboat rather than sell it on Craigslist with his golf clubs, board games, etc. Thanks to my father-in-law we now have:
~Garmin Marine GPS
~4 back-padded seats
~Binoculars
~Various maintenance supplies for electrical, sail repair, plumbing,etc.
~Cool power tools, including a winch winder
~Sailboat dishes
~Books, including Voyager's Handbook and World Cruising Routes
~Jolly Roger and Quarantine Flags
~Canvas Boat Bags
~2 Auto-inflating PFD suspenders
~2 waterproof, handheld VHF radios
~Snorkeling Gear
~2 Inflatable Kayaks w/paddles
~Boat Bell
~17" LCD TV w/wall mount
~Auto-inflater
~Underwater breathing system
~D/C powered fans
~BOSE stereo system
~Themed towels
~Dry bags
~Sailing gloves

Some of this stuff, we never would have bought and other items we (or I) didn't know we might need. Along with some of David's childhood stuff, that all made for a pretty packed car. If it was wasn't for my dad's loaner car top carrier it never would have fit in my tiny Aveo; as it was, David had to stand on top of the car to get everything into the carrier! We spent a lot of the night after unpacking the car, going through the maintenance and tool bags trying to determine what we'd need soon and had to take to the boat ASAP. It was actually really fun!

Yesterday on the way back from our last vacation stop...Toledo, OH for my mom's wedding(!)...we made a slight detour to Wolf's Marine in Benton Harbor, MI. Our boat broker told us about it when we bought Passage, and suggested we stop by there once we went through everything and knew what we needed. Now that we've made some solid sense of her inventory, it made sense to go and see what we could get. That place was amazing! We wandered up and down pretty much every aisle, literally like kids in a candy store and ended up with some bargain treasures, including v-berth sheets for only $30. It was fun...the best part is that they are dog friendly so we could wander at leisure and not worry about leaving Lucky in the car!

Today we spent the day out on the boat with Lucky, putting up more of the brass I cleaned several weeks ago, stowing some of our new boat items, and finally starting to put up the lifeline netting. Our first try was rather poor but the second attempt looked pretty nice! It took longer than we thought to get that done, so we didn't get a chance to go out sailing after we got the engine running. We put 5 gallons of diesel in the tank since we couldn't get the engine to start right before we left for vacation. Turns out, we ran Passage out of fuel...how embarrassing. Live and Learn, I guess. It was hot and tiring, but really rewarding to see more progress...toward the end of the day, we took a break to sit on the bow and have a 312. A great way to end the day!
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