Blog posts

Are we ever getting out of here??

Our original plan was to retire in October 2017 and start our sailing adventure shortly thereafter.  Unfortunately, I had an iffy mammogram result which required monitoring and then Irma & Maria tore up the Caribbean.  We decided to postpone for a year so I could get a definite diagnosis (which fortunately turned out okay) and to give time for the anchorages to be cleared of debris.

You would think, given that we had an extra year to prep, we would have been ready.  Not so much!  We really spent that time focused more on making all the purchases we thought we would need, such as the electronics, and building up the cruising kitty than completing actual work. 

Fast forward to mid-2018 when both of us finally left our jobs and made the move onto the boat with full intention of being able to leave by the end of November.  As we jumped into boat work, it became clear that my hands were not up to the task.  I had known for quite some time that I had carpul tunnel issues but didn’t realize how bad they were and how little grip strength I had.  Crap, surgery on both hands which put me out of commission for a while.  Russell continued knocking major items off our list but there are some things that take two sets of hands. We also took a trip to visit our kids/grands in California which took us away from the boat for three weeks, but we were still trying to leave by year end.

As they say, anything on a boat takes twice as much money and time as you planned for so it’s now mid-January and we’re still here!!  We think we’re pretty much done with all the major boat projects unless something shows up during our sea trials.  Personally, I think Ddraig is readier than we are.  We’ve been so focused on boat mechanics/electricians/carpenters/etc, we now need to remember how to be sailors. I told Russell last night I was no longer telling anyone when we were leaving (but it really is going to be soon) because I think they are starting to doubt us.


Well, we did it…our house is sold, all of our belongings have either been packed up and stored, donated/given away or moved onto the boat.  Both of us have left our jobs and we are now officially liveaboards. 

For me, this has been a long journey with lots of ups and downs, excitement and regret, sadness and loss but also a feeling of freedom.  It’s really strange the things that affected me most.  While selling and moving out of the house was stressful and emotional, there were other things that really hit me hard.  Some I understood (my Harley!!) but others not so much.  Retiring from my job was also very difficult for me.  I think for some of us, or maybe it’s just me, our identities are very much wrapped up in what we do.  I had been at my job for over 20 years and while far from doing brain surgery, I felt competent and confident in my abilities there.  Now we’re jumping off into a whole new world!

Of course, once moved aboard there’s not been time to dwell on any of this.  We are fully focused on all of the items on our checklist that need to be accomplished before we cast off at the end of the year.  Many, many projects with little time so full steam ahead!!


Now what????

It’s March and we just signed a purchase agreement on a sailboat which happens to weigh 45,000 pounds, is 47 plus feet long and is currently located over 1000 miles away.

Thus begins a flurry of research, phone calls and emails.

First order of business was to schedule a survey. This involved finding not only the person to conduct the survey but getting the boat hauled out.  I would highly recommend any prospective owner be there for the survey/haul out, unfortunately, due to work schedules neither of us were able to get to Florida for it.

Once the survey was complete and final payment made, we had to figure out how to get this boat from Florida to Texas. We were very lucky that the sellers were willing to keep it docked behind their house until we could arrange the move.

There are really only a couple of options, one if by land or two if by sea.

To ship a boat that size over land involves various permits, restrictions and fees. It also would require decommissioning prior to being picked up by a crane and loaded onto a trailer.  Since it would have been difficult for us to get to Florida to oversee the process, this wasn’t a very attractive option.

That leaves option two, by sea. This would involve hiring a delivery captain and crew.  We spoke to a number of different captains and got widely varying quotes as to cost and routes.  One captain said he would follow the shipping lanes across the Gulf, one would skirt the coastline and we even had one fellow say that the Gulf was too dangerous and it would need to be brought through the ICW.  Of course he also didn’t want to stay on board but would expect us to pay for him to dock and stay in a hotel most of the twenty some odd nights he estimated the trip would take!  My guess was most of those hotels would have casinos…

After much debate and many sleepless nights, we decided to hire a captain and crew. Once more our seller came through!  He was a former delivery captain who had let his license lapse but knew a someone he trusted enough to recommend.  Many more phone calls and emails later we had our captain.  And as it turns out, our seller wanted a final sail so he signed on as one of the crew. He was also instrumental in helping us arrange for some repairs that needed to be done to prepare for an offshore voyage and with provisioning.  I’m not sure how we would have gotten everything done without his help, especially with hurricane season fast approaching and our weather window for a gulf crossing narrowing, and was glad he had the opportunity for one last sail in honor of his son.

After a false start (mechanical difficulties 70 miles out that required a return to shore) they were on the way. Our stalwart captain and crew motor sailed along the shipping lanes and arrived in Galveston Bay four and a half (very stressful for me) days later.

Ddraig is a 40 year old boat that had been sitting idle for a number of years while the previous owner was stationed away in the service. Though structurally sound, everything else (electronics, hoses and fittings, fuel systems, rigging, etc.) needed lots of attention.   We were very relieved when safely tied to our dock in Kemah!

The Boat Finds You

Our original five year plan was to build up a boat fund over three years, buy the perfect boat and spend the last two years before retirement taking it out on weekends and getting it set up for full time cruising. Looking back now, I can’t help thinking about the old saying about God and plans.

When we first saw the listing we thought Ddraig was the type of boat that could meet all of our needs. But we had decided early on this adventure would be done strictly on a cash basis and unfortunately the price was well above what we had in the boat fund.  So after explaining this to the listing agent, we basically tried to put it out of our minds.

Out of the blue, a few months later Russell gets a call from the agent who says the owner would like to make a deal with us if we were interested. Now, as anyone who has spent time looking at used boats for sale can tell you, people lie. They lie about the condition of the engine, they lie about the condition of the rigging and they post 10 year old pictures in the ads.  But it was only a thirteen hour drive and we like road trips. Besides, what could it hurt just to check it out?

Russell has always said that you don’t find a boat, it finds you. That was certainly true when we got Ddraig.

One of my main questions was why the seller would be willing to come down so drastically from the listed price. This is where his theory comes in.

It turns out the sellers were the parents of Ddraig’s owner, who had passed away unexpectedly. It was getting to be too much of an emotional burden for them to deal with. They were hoping to find someone to carry on their son’s plan of fixing her up and cruising the Caribbean.  Exactly our plan!

Within a couple of hours of our arrival, having met the parents and learning all about the previous owner and his plans, with both of us in tears, we signed a purchase agreement and left a deposit.

As we are driving away, we looked at each other and the realization hit.

Holy Crap!!!! We just bought a boat! Now what?? We have to schedule a haul out and survey. Oh and by the way – this boat is in Florida and our marina is a thousand miles away in Texas. How the heck will we make this work…..