Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Catching Up!

Gosh, time flies! We vacationed in the Dominican Republic the last week in February. We stayed in Punta Cana on the northwest coast at an all-inclusive.  We have been to many Caribbean islands and honestly this isn't one we would go back to. Others love it, it wasn't our favorite.

However, we did spend some time on the water and their water is definitely Caribbean blue! We snorkeled, played on a sand bar and swam with reef sharks and sting rays. The boat excursions took us to the northern coast of the island.

Along the northern coast of the island, a HUGE reef runs along the coast. Because of this, all boats travel between shore (very shallow waters) and the reef. I would hate to run into it in the middle of the night. I actually had just finished "Black Wave" on this trip and the reef freaked me out!

The sandbar was fun, but very crowded and sadly the reef sharks and sting rays are caged up for tourists. Not a fan of that at all.


But the waters were stunning and gorgeous!

As you can see, I had plenty of reading materials by the pool!  My carry on bag must have weighed over 10 pounds with all of the magazines!

We did some other land excursions on this trip and the cave tours were probably the coolest thing. They have many many caves that will take you all under the island and out to the sea. Super cool!

So we got back from vacation and finally met with our boat broker. We have begun the process of looking for a boat. Yes, after six years it is finally happening!  Remember, we are no longer looking for a live-aboard, but rather a smaller older boat we can get comfortable with and get our sea legs (well, get my sea legs back).  We are looking at both sedans (motor yacht style) and sport cruisers (better for outdoor activities).  Most likely, we will go with a sport cruiser, as a newer model will be more affordable. Some of the most popular sport cruisers around here are Sea Ray, Bayliner, Four Winns and Larson. 

One thing about the PNW, is we are the Bayliner capital. While they have a bad rap on the East Coast, they are everywhere here. In fact, I used to own a Bayliner Ciera years ago and it was a great boat. We know that the boat we buy, will not be long term for us - either we will hate it and get rid of it, or we will love it and want to upgrade to a larger boat. So we are not spending too much energy or resources on this boat. We want to make sure any boat we buy has a great engine and is structurally sound. Luckily I have a captain in my family to help us!

So stay tuned for the next update! Cheers, Scott and Ally

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

What I'm Reading in the Caribbean this Week!

We leave for Punta Cana, Dominican Republic tomorrow. We have never been before and we're excited to visit the third largest Caribbean Island.  This will be one of our longest vacations we have had in a very long time - 9 nights and 10 days.  We are staying at a new resort to us, Bahia Principe Ambar Blue on the northeast coast of the island.

We have booked four excursions, including a couple sailing trips, swimming with the sharks & stingrays, rum factory, caves and a trip into Santa Domingo. Stay tuned for all of the great photos to come!

With this long of a trip, I have to take a stack of magazines and books to read on the beach and by the pool. Of course magazine favorites will be Cruising World, Passage Maker, Sea...to name a few. But I'm excited about the new books I got this Christmas!

First up, is "Box Wine Sailors" by Amy McCullough

This is yet another true story of a young couple from Portland, OR with zero sailing experience, decide to go sail the Pacific Coast for a year. Their journey is comical and also very educational. Especially since it involves the Pacific Northwest. We have some of the most treacherous bodies of water between Seattle and San Francisco. With their annual budget of only $12,000, they set off in a 27' sail boat from Portland down to Mexico. I just started this book, so I  can't wait to finish it while laying by the pool!

One of my favorite sailing books I've read is "Tightwads on the Loose: a 7 year Pacific Odyssey" by Wendy Hinman. Wendy and her husband Garth, live right here in the Puget Sound. Years ago, they too, traveled on a 27' sailing boat around the world!  I have run into Wendy each year at the Seattle Boat Show. This year I was thrilled that she has a new book out "Sea Trials". Sea Trials tells the gripping story of a family in a tireless quest to sail around the world despite daunting challenges including a shipwreck, rebuilding a boat on a remote island, and threats from wild weather, pirates, gun boats, mines and thieves, a broken rig, scurvy and starvation. Sea Trials is a timeless story of struggle in the pursuit of a dream, filled with incredible challenges, glimpses of the fascinating cultures they encounter and enough levity to keep readers of all ages hooked to a suspenseful, satisfying ending. 

It's a big book, so we'll see if I finish it while on vacation!

So stay tuned for our return and report on Dominican Republic!  Scott & Ally

Sunday, January 29, 2017

It's a New Year with a Plan.....Finally!

As we mentioned in our last blog after our trip to Annapolis in October, our boat plans changed slightly.  We basically have always had two plans that we put together years ago:

  • Live on a catamaran and sail the Caribbean and Pacific when we retire. That plan is still on!
  • In order to save money, sell our home, our belongings and live on a boat in the PNW - that is now on hold.
We put the liveaboard idea on hold and have decided to make sure that both of us are comfortable spending lots of time on the water together. I have boating experience, but Scott does not. So we have decided to buy a weekend cabin cruiser this spring.


Okay, so now we have somewhat of a plan and off to the Seattle Boat Show we went this weekend.  Buying a boat, is very much (in a weird way) like having kids and planning for it.  For example, you need to have a spot to moor the boat, even before you buy one. It's not like buying a house. There are certain steps you have to take, but we are still not sure of the order. Let's look at the process:

  • Budget / Loan- well, we have a budget in mind, but if we decide to finance part of the boat, then it's the bank that will determine what they will lend based on the age and make of the boat. Typically, lenders don't "pre-approve" you, but instead, you find a boat and then go get the loan. (Odd.)
  • Moorage - you have to find a marina to store your boat once you buy it. We checked with 5 different marinas at the show and all but 2 of them had a wait list. Luckily, one marina said they would take care of us with no issues and to concentrate on finding the boat, rather the marina. That's a nice option. Ideally, we want to be in Everett as it is closer to our family's place on Camano Island. But they have an 8 month wait.
  • Boat - basically we are looking at two different styles, depending on what we think we will enjoy the most.  We'll look at the two styles later in this blog.

  • Training. It's been over 17 years since I owned a boat and Scott has no experience. With that said, we can't just go buy a boat and start driving it! We met with both the US Coast Guard and the US Power Squadrons yesterday.  The USCG will do a training safety seminar in one day, for about $30/pp.  But that doesn't show  you how to maneuver your boat, dock it, learn currents/wind, etc.  USPS will do a very detailed training, along with a hands on training prior to buying your boat. This will be the route we take.
  • Timing - of course we want to be on the water come June 1st.....prime boating season. This means there will be no deals on boats and mooring will be at a premium. We'd like to do it sooner, but it won't make sense based on our upcoming schedule. 
So back to the boat. For the past six years we have traveled to boat shows all over including Miami and Annapolis. We have been set on a path looking for a liveaboard, which is not a weekend cabin cruiser. Talk about changing things up!  The two styles we are looking at are:

Older Motoryacht 32'-38' (1990-1999).  Here we have a few options to consider. There are plenty of Bayliner MY out there (and yes, the Bayliner haters are going to make comments) and the fact remains that we won't be crossing any oceans in this vessel and for the money you get a lot of boat that's comfortable. Carver is another boat we are considering.  The nice thing about the motoryacht style, is the salon is cozy and perfect for our dreary weather. It is also upstairs, so you can enjoy the view versus being down below at the water level. We plan on boating even when it's not nice out. Our plan is to spend as many weekends we can on the boat, even if it's in the marina, to get a feel for liveaboard life. The boat below is a 1997 Carver 320 Voyager.

The one thing to consider with a boat like this, is there is not a lot of space to sit on the stern for entertainment. There is up on the fly bridge....but you have to haul your "stuff" up there, like your glass of wine, cheese and crackers. ;)

"Weekenders" - these boats are great for enjoying with groups of people and spending most of your time outdoors. The downstairs cabin is simply for sleeping and cooking.  These are not necessarily less expensive than a motoryacht. We looked at a 38' SeaRay and it was over $100k! Below is a 1997 Sea Ray 330 Sundancer.

Lots of outdoor seating for everyone!

As you can see, we have to make a decision as to what type of boat will work best for us. Then go out and find it over the next four months! In the meantime, we'll get our training done so we are ready!

I will be sure to share with you our step by step process in making this all work, so that other new boaters have a good resource.

Stay tuned......

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Annapolis Boat Show & What's Next?

We spent most of the summer looking at different marinas looking for those that take liveaboards. Just about all of them had 1-2 year waiting lists, with the exception of a couple. But that can change at any moment.

All of our friends and family keep asking us if we really want to live on a boat? Well, let's go back to where this all started.  It was about six years ago when we were at the Seattle Boat Show and we fell in love with the Lagoon Catamaran (since then, we have found others we love more). But we came up with the grand idea, of retiring on a catamaran in the Caribbean and sailing around the world. Why not? We don't have kids, we don't want a big mortgage and what a better way to retire?

Then came the next two questions. How can we afford a catamaran and what if we don't like it?  I grew up on boats and in my 30's had a nice cruiser. However, Scott has not spent any long term time on a vessel.  I then started reading lots of sailing books, including my first book "A Sail of Two Idiots", a story about a couple in Arizona that sell their home and buy a catamaran in Florida (sight unseen) with NO SAILING experience at all. 

What a great idea! We could sell our house now (instead of 10 years from now), use the money to buy an old power boat in Seattle to live on and cut our living expenses by two thirds. So began the journey of selling our business, selling our extra stuff and planning on the sale of our home. That was until this year, 2016 when we found out marinas are hard to find. Then we wondered......Do you sell your dream home for a boat and marina you don't have yet? The other issue is we don't want to give up any of our proceeds for a real estate agent, as we want to use as much of the house equity to buy a boat.

As we sat on our deck this summer enjoying the sunset and cocktails, we came up with another (crazy) idea. We knew our next door neighbor would soon be putting their house on the market, so what if we put a sign out next to it that said "For Sale By Owner"? Well, that day came and sure enough, Scott put the sign out (just two weeks ago). Now what? Sure enough, realtors started calling us every hour and we told them, bring us a buyer and we'll talk.

Just as all of this happened, we headed out the door to the US Power Boat Show in Annapolis. We had been to the US Sailing Show there two years ago, so we were looking forward to another fun visit. Our purpose was twofold.  Look for types of boats we could live on and also tour the history of Annapolis.  We lucked out with beautiful weather! This show is different than others. They have live music, bars on every corner, many floating docks and seminars.

This show ended up being a bit different than we had hoped for. It has lots of runabouts and weekenders. Then it had lots of mega yachts.....not much in between. With that said, we did fall in love with three boats (if we won the lottery!).

First up was a 49' trawler from North Pacific Yachts. Here's the funny thing.....we don't like trawlers, but we liked this one!!!

Nice large galley

 Tons of storage in the master

 The spare stateroom could be an office

Large vanity in the head

 Great visibility from the bridge

 Another great office space

Backup camera on the fly bridge

So onto the next yacht, this one was the 58' Prestige 550 Flybridge....Gorgeous!!

Sleek and modern galley

 Great counter space in head.

Work space in master stateroom

 Lots of storage and closet space.

Spacious master head.

Lastly, we fell in love with a power catamaran! The 44' Aquila (say Tequila....with an "A"). While it was only 44' it felt larger and roomier than the 60' power cat we went on from Horizon. 

The inside galley, opens up to the outside with this awesome bar.

 Great storage space in the spare stateroom

 Roomy "owners" stateroom

 Work space in the owners stateroom

 Great visibility from the fly bridge

And great outdoor entertaining!

But realistically, these boats are just a lottery dream purchase!  We did take a water taxi to some used boats that might fit our goals.  The journey was fun too!

A salesman had recommended we look at Vikings (not convertibles) for a liveaboard. We haven't seen many of them in the Seattle area, but luckily there was one at the used dock we could preview. This was was a Viking 44' 1988 for $130,000. Honestly, this is a great liveaboard - too bad it's in MD, not Seattle.

 Enclosed sun porch

 Updated and roomy salon

 Galley and dining area, nice a big.


 Tons of storage space in the master stateroom

 Big master closet

Lots of counter space in master head.

 More storage space in the spare stateroom.  

We did look at a Carver, but we didn't like the smell of it. LOL.  We were in Annapolis for four full days and only did the show for two. They had great booths and vendor tents, including wine/beer tastings. 

Then we spent the other two days, exploring this very old city. Most of the founders arrived in the late 1600's and early 1700's. Main street and the side streets still have the same cobblestone roads and homes. We toured William Paca's house, who was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. We also toured the Naval Academy and the Maryland State House. If you haven't toured Annapolis, I highly recommend it for the history lesson.

 Naval Academy Chapel

During our trip, we talked at length about where our plan is going. Are we comfortable giving up all of our belongings, our home and the comforts of a home simply to see if we like living on a boat and saving money?  What if our home appreciates more and more over the next ten years....would we be better off in the long term keeping it?  Then came another idea! What if we buy a used "weekender" boat that we can enjoy with our golden retriever Mac in the Puget Sound and see how Scott enjoys spending the weekends on it?  While it may not save us money on a monthly basis short term, it could save us a lot long term. So now begins the hunt for a smaller, used "weekender". Funny how we got here. ;)

Stay tuned for the January boat show......I'm sure there will be lots to look at then! Cheers,
Scott and Ally