Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Are you Ready?

Are you Ready? Is your boat Ready?
What's "On the "A" List, and what's on the "B", "C", "Manana" and "Underway" lists?


I see that my beautiful, and dutiful, wife is outblogging me 24 entries to 2 and, sadly, they are insightful, eloquent entries and have pretty pictures. But FEAR NOT my faithful reading audience (Hi Mom), I will warm up to this blogging thing,  and charm you with my tall tales of oil changes, mysterious electric charges and other boat health snippets!  I'll even sprinkle in some high quality imagery to grab your attention!



Not so clean diesel fuel

Its an incredible adventure we are heading on, and its been a Herculean task getting ready- a constant reminder that the hardest part is actually leaving your homeport dock- if we even had one!  Our boat is a nomad with no permanent dock as we scramble in the final few weeks and move around the Bay Area to get work done, and get ourselves ready.

I've had 15+ years to think about this process - but really grabbing a hold of how to tackle the mountain of issues was quite daunting at first.  Usually, most cruisers will buy their cruising boat several years ahead of their trip and take at least a year to get it ready, work the kinks out, and get used to it.  For a number of reasons, we haven't had that luxury, but I am still confident we will get there.  Fortunately, we found and bought a boat that has been actively cruised for the last two years by competent and caring owners.  This makes a huge difference in keeping systems active, working and being used- as lack of use combined with the marine environment is a terrible combination. Maybe more importantly, the choice we made had a lot to do with the owners whom we have really gotten to know and like - and whose post-sale advice, explanations and help have been completely invaluable - its a great advantage that I am very, very thankful for.

I've gotten to know Family Circus quite well over the last 10 weeks- spending almost every day working through a punch list of items to fix, buy, replace, think about, or learn more about.  Every night I re-write the "list" and get it ready for the next day- hopefully crossing off a few items along the way.  Inevitably, some items linger, as we try and find suppliers, expertise, or we fail in getting it done right the first time.

I've been looking forward to this ten week sprint for the last 6 months- its important to me to really get to know our boat inside and out, at least as much as I can.  Family Circus is certainly more complicated that what we've owned before, but its starting to make more sense and I talk to "her" as I work away.  There is a ton I don't know yet, but I feel much better that I did a few months ago when I stared incredulously at the electrical panel and its rows and rows of switches- all neatly labeled in French.  I've also learned where the "secret" switches are- like which ones turn on the propane/stove, and where the Internet/Wifi Extender is.  (the latter I haven't divulged to the kids yet, nor will I in such a public forum!)
Good diagrams ... in French
We built our priority list based on a variety of sources- Beth Leonard's Voyager Handbook ( a 4 lb. encyclopedia of a book that I have carried on numerous business flights!), John and Amanda Neal's Cruising Seminar, Jimmy Cornell's Seminar, about 15 more books and our own experience from our past two boats.  I've kept an Evernote Notebook going for over two years, and have gathered many notes and ideas, and then I keep an Excel sheet, called "The List" with a tab for each group of priorities.

The "A" priorities are all the fundamentals - boat soundness and condition (haulout), rig, sails, engines , safety items, and all the major systems - charging, refrigeration, watermaking, communications, electronics, etc...  This is the main list I try and work off- and sprinkle anything and everything around these items.  I have gathered some expertise in some of these areas, but I am reliant on marine experts for many- especially to get a "health check".

As much as I can, I sit next to these folks as they do the work and try to learn as much as I can, often getting a chance to turn wrenches, get dirty, or lay upside down under a bunk cleaning something.  I know that the family will be heavily reliant on me to keep the systems up and running so that our adventure can continue, and while I genuinely enjoy learning new things, and how things work, I certainly feel some of the pressure to develop more of a clue that I had previously on many of these items. I am very grateful for some of the wonderful technicians I have gotten to meet and learn from- I also always try and get a cell phone number or email address for future questions!

The "B" and "C" priorities and other "To Do's" are all added to the daily list and we get done as much as we can-  Its actually astounding to see what we can accomplish in today's era vs cruisers who have left before us.  The power of the Internet is in full force as we learn from others, find answers to questions and communicate with suppliers globally.  Add to that the mobile component of our smart phones, and laptop modems, and we get an inordinate amount done in a day, wherever we are.
Yes..that is the center of an electric marine toilet - "Yay me- this is so glamorous and exotic!"

So....where do we stand today? at this very moment?  It's the question I get most these days- some version of "Are you ready?" "Is your boat ready?"

I'd answer it in two ways:  First, we've talked to enough cruisers to know that you never ever finish your punch list, it just doesn't happen.  You just have to go.  Second - I think we're getting close.  We have a few final big hurdles to get through over the next week (did I just say that? a week?) - a few final health checks that need to come back positive- but I think we're getting close enough.  I remember a switch in my mentality in the middle of last week, when I made peace with the fact I wasn't going to get it all done, and that I just needed to make sure the right things were done and everything else would take care of itself.

I also keep reminding myself of why we are doing this and to keep forging forward- I can catch up on sleep later..under some palm tree on a deserted beach, or in my bunk, as the Pacific Ocean slides by, lapping the hull.
Why? For moments like this, ... with her  (and the kids)


In some ways, maybe its ME that hasn't been ready yet- Family Circus looks at me so patiently every morning as I come down the dock to start the day's list.  I'm starting to wonder if she's thinking: "Dude, I was built in France, sailed in England, across the Atlantic to the US, through the Caribbean, Panama Canal and Central America and up to San Francisco....exactly WHAT are we waiting for?"
Family Circus- ready to break some dock lines


Not much, ..I'M almost ready- I can feel it.



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