Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sailing Does Work Better With Wind

I know it is a great mystery of sailing, but it is true...sailing does work much better with wind.

We booked an afternoon lesson instead of a morning in the hopes of finding some wind.  Well, it worked.  On Sunday, in addition to our 5th consecutive day of record breaking temperatures, we had wind.  It wasn't always consistent, but it was there and it wasn't hurricane force.

So, we practiced all the usual maneuvers.  Sailing the various points of sail, tacking, jibing.  Then we practiced something I think will be a very important maneuver to us, heaving to.

Heaving to is, in essence, a means of "parking" a boat.  It is a maneuver that comes close to stopping the boat while leaving it in control.  In the middle of the ocean, if you just drop the sails to stop, the boat is at the mercy of the waves and currents.  Heaving to leaves sails up and keeps the boat pointed in generally the same direction relative to the wind. : Heaving-To
It is useful if you just want to take a break, if you need to stop the boat quickly in the middle of the water where an anchor cannot be deployed, or to ride out a storm.  As the picture above indicates, it doesn't completely stop the causes the boat to very slowly slip sideways...turning slightly into and then away from the wind as it goes.  I assume with a crew of two, this will be very handy.

Even in the heat of the day, out on the reservoir with some wind made for a very enjoyable time.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Other Money Question

After the "how much will it cost?" question, the next money question people usually ask is "how will you finance this?".  Well, the truth of the matter is that we aren't quite sure.

While I like to call this my retirement plan, the truth is that neither of us will be able to completely retire.  So, the real goal here is to not spend 50 weeks of our lives each year sitting in a box just for a 2 week vacation.  So, assuming we will fall under the "moderate" category in the Beth and Evans Cost of Cruising example, the question is how we will be able to generate $20,000 a year while living on a boat.

One thought we had was to purchase some property that we could then rent.  With the sale of most everything we own plus some savings that we have, we might be able to purchase some property in addition to the boat.  If we can find the right market, either long term or vacation rental may provide some income.  Of course, the question is where...

Another option we have considered is doing what the couple that sparked this crazy idea in us was doing...chartering.  We could make some money taking people on dinner cruises or maybe even overnight excursions.  This option, of course would require licensing...and since we don't have much sailing experience yet, this is probably more of a longer term option than one we could do starting on day one.

My wife and I both have skills that could translate into contract work.  So if we need to, I think we could probably pick up some short term contract work that would be sufficient to pay the bills.  The key here would be to not make it a full time job, even for a short term.  I will not go back to sitting behind a computer 40+ hours a week.

The last obvious option is finding local part-time work.  I'm reasonably good with electronics and electrical systems, maybe helping out a boatyard with upgrade and refit work would be an idea.  Or I'm sure there are other odd jobs around a boatyard.  If not, I'm sure we can find part-time work elsewhere in various ports, even if it is simple retail.

In the end, we are talking $10,000 each per year.  That's just not all that much so I have confidence that we will be able to do it.  If you have any ideas, feel free to leave a comment

I can do better than this...maybe they'll need part-time help.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Hello? Did the boat sink?

Sorry.  I'd like to apologize to the very few folks that are currently following along for the lack of posts.  My wife had I have had some other obligations we've needed to deal with over the past couple of weeks.

Today I expected to be writing about our next-to-last sailing lesson for our current course.  Unfortunately the school seemed to miss the fact that it's Fathers Day and we got a call yesterday afternoon that our class would be cancelled.  So, nothing new to report other than we are still trying to make progress and we have to reschedule a lesson.

While working out these other obligations, we did have a chance to stop by another semi-local reservoir and we inquired about options for renting sailboats.  The rumors I've heard on the requirements for chartering boats in the Caribbean seems to similar to what we found for renting a boat at this reservoir.  The most important credential seems to be a valid credit card.  They did say they had a quick and easy verbal quiz...and the example question was pretty basic.  So, the good news is we should at least have the ability to practice our newly acquired skills this summer.

I've also been working on a little more research...but nothing worthy of a post yet.  We haven't given up and more will follow...I promise.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Competing Sailing Associations

In a couple posts I mentioned that we needed to take tests to complete our sailing courses.  This isn't really true, we only need to take these tests to prove to others  that we've taken the classes (for things such as daily rentals or bareboat charters).  You can go buy a boat and set sail yourself without any training or licenses (regardless of how foolish it may be to take this approach).  Did I mention it costs money (not included in the class fees) to take the tests? we have a dilemma that makes me wonder if we should take the tests.

There are actually two different sailing associations in the United States.  One is the American Sailing Association (ASA) and the other is US Sailing.  Our current school follows the ASA curriculum. Up until now I hadn't been worried about this since they are the only school in town.  But now that I've been looking into options for continuing our education with a school capable of an oceanic classroom, the tests may or may not be useful.


Both organizations seem to have a similar curriculum.  US Sailing, born from the North American Yacht Racing Union, may have a bit of a racing bias where ASA may be more cruising/recreation oriented...but everything I've seen thus far seems to indicate that they are very, very similar.

Naturally, they do not accept each other's credentials.  Of course, being businesses, each one will allow you to pay their fees to take their tests to "challenge" the need to take their particular version of a course.

I kind of doubt one is technically better than the other but I'm sure elsewhere there is likely a "religious war" raging between the two that is just as heated as the whole Macintosh vs. Windows computer one.  My only concern is that we get a good education and my bet is that there are both good and bad instructors under each organizations flag.

So, my goal now is to find the best school that meets our needs without having to retake classes we have already completed.  If it is a US Sailing school such as Colgate's Offshore Sailing School, then taking the ASA tests just wastes money on a test we will likely need to retake.  So, we may postpone the testing depending on which school we end up going with.