Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Aerial View

I went past the lake this morning...at about 500 mph and 4 miles in the sky. The Gateway Four departure out of the St. Louis area runs just about over the north end of Lake Carlyle. I could pick out the Marina but was a bit too high to see individual boats on the parking lot, though I assume little Nomad is resting fine in her metal cradle. It has been nearly a month since I sat in her cockpit, travel and illness keeping me away from the lake. And I can't say that I like it much.

For those of you wondering...no, our little "near jet" doesn't normally climb while doing better than 500 MPH over the ground. But a tailwind of nearly 130 MPH sure helps. Level at 37,0000 feet, a TAS of 465 MPH and a tailwind of 160 MPH, had us hauling the mail eastbound just at 625 MPH. We made St. Louis to New Bedford, MA in less than 2 hours. Sadly we are due out of here in an hour or so, heading to the Baltimore area for the night. Otherwise I would be visiting Daughters, Sons-in-Law, and grand kids today!

Flying over the coast into the New Bedford airport was a blast. We passed over two aircraft carriers sitting at a dock a few miles east of here. The multiple islands fanning out into the open ocean, the marinas, the towns nestled right up to the shores, this is a place I am looking forward to seeing from the deck of a sailboat someday soon.

Here's what it looks like from around 30,000 feet! Kind of hard to pick out the details.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Depth of Field

I spend a good bit of my week at work doing graphics for marketing materials for the aviation parts company that I work for. I was working on some pictures this past week of a group of long hoses that our hose shop sells and my manager chose the picture he wanted for a brochure but made the comment that he wanted a longer depth of field on the hoses. "You need to get these fully in focus, Deb." he said.

It's funny how very small, simple statements like that can have a profound impact. Later that evening I began reading the copy of The Voyager's Hanbdook by Beth Leonard that had just arrived courtesy of Amazon. She spends a good deal of time in the early chapters talking about the cost of cruising and encourages her readers to honestly evaluate their financial readiness to embark on the path to the fulfillment of their dreams. After completing the chapter I opened a new Excel file and began to jot some figures down.

Somewhere between "Current Savings" and "Annual Income - Post Retirement" a remarkable shift began to take place. Until this point, my dream of retiring to a sailboat has been something akin to sailing along in New England fog...a vague image of a boat and shores unknown, with no clear picture of the details. In fact, the "dream boat" has been some odd conglomerate of catamaran and monohull, the journey somewhere between Cape Cod and the "Islands", and the time frame somewhere between now and "I've fallen and I can't get up...the companionway". Thanks to Beth Leonard's countless hours of research and personal cruising experience, and the volunteered information from so many of her cruising friends, out of the fog sailed a mid to late 80's 36-40 foot, cutter-rigged monohull firmly in the middle of my figures. Depth of field is still a little shallow, the boat isn't fully in focus yet, but my dream has gone from maybe...possibly...want it to be...to a budget in my spreadsheet. A budget that I can make work. A budget that can buy a real blue-water crusing boat. But what boat, you say? Hmmmmmmm I'm focusing...stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Downsizing. It is a constant theme among those who are working on moving off the land. Deb and I did a little downsizing this past week. I drove the truck nearly 2600 miles last week, from St. Louis to Pittsburgh to Cape Code and back to St. Louis. Once home I cleaned it up, ran it through the car wash, drove it over to a dealer and traded it in on a Nissan 350Z. We hope this is the last car we ever buy and that it will be the one that we drive to the boat. I'm pretty sure this doesn't fit most people's idea of "downsizing" since the car cost about the same per month as the truck, the insurance is a little more, and we used up some savings to make the deal happen. But the Z will fit in the garage and, when we do head for the boat, it will get us there faster!

The main purpose of the truck trip was to deliver the last of Kristin and Brian's belongings to their new home in Cape Cod. Scheduling pressures kept my time there to barely 36 hours but it was an excellent visit. Saying good-by to Amber, Kristin, Mike, Brian, Catherine, May-may and Christopher, so much of my heart living in one place, was pretty hard. The idea of having a boat anchored not far off their shore for summers, of having various "crew visits" in warm waters during winters, is quickly becoming less of an idea and goal and more of an...obsession maybe?

Our plans for a summer "open water" excursion in the Gulf, using a 38 foot mono-hull, is looming as a kind of turning point. We have very little experience in salt water, virtually no experience in open water, have never done an overnight sail, never been on a sailboat that was out of sight of land, and haven't spent more than a few days in a row living in a mono-hull. In fact, when I list it that way, it seems like we might have a long way to go and that there is much waiting to be discovered in our little jaunt around the Gulf. Still, if the $$ was there I think we would leave tomorrow and figure out a way to make it work. Which, I'm pretty sure, meets the definition of "obsession."