Last full moon of 2011

December 10, 2011. It was the last full moon of the calendar year. I love the sky, y’all. I pay homage to the sun every chance I get. I have a wall in my foyer dedicated to the sun. I have a Solstice tree in my living room right now to celebrate the return of the sun after it’s long journey. However, I am one to seek balance, too, and therefore, also love the moon. I watch the skies at night and pick out constellations. I watch the moon as it goes through its phases each month, and take note* of how the we are affected by it.

*Remember I am an interpreter. My job has me interacting with the public on a daily basis – or better yet, they are interacting with each other through me. I believe I have one of the most complex and voyeuristic jobs on the planet. A strict professional code of ethics is paramount, but man-oh-man! the stories I could tell! Especially around the full moon. If you are one of those naysayers that don’t believe in all this moon phase affecting people hocus pocus, well ok. I won’t waste my time trying to convince you. But I will say this: IT’S TRUE.

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Last night, Evan and I went out to dinner with some boating friends. We went to a Japanese Hibachi Grill. It was my first time being to such an establishment, and I really liked it! I even did the part where the chef cooks up some egg and makes you open your mouth, so he can flip it off the grill into your mouth while yelling “Scooby-Doo!!!” (Ok, maybe not all of them yell Scooby-Doo when they do this, but this guy did. He was funny!) We drank plum wine – again a first for me. Wow, was it sweet, but incredibly it paired really well with the food. We had a great time!

On the way home we were listening to DMB and I was looking out the window at the full moon. It’s so pretty. Words fail me when I try to explain how much I love to watch it. And Orion, at that moment, appeared just below and to the right, so that was another moment for me to smile. Then Evan suddenly spoke to me and pulled me out of my trance.

Evan: Are you singing to the moon?

me: No, *giggle* I was just looking at it. It’s full tonight, you know. And I haven’t spotted Orion in a while, and it’s right next it it.

Evan: You really are going to have a wonderful time on our night passages, aren’t you?

me: *grinning* Yeah… yeah, I really will.

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This morning, very early for a Sunday  – 7:30am. Evan gently tapped and nudged me awake. I was very sleepy and confused, but he quickly started explaining in a whisper.

Evan: I’m sorry to wake you, but I really think you’ll want to see this. Come over here where I am and look out the window… right there. He pointed west and up, so I can’t imagine this is a deer he wants me to see. What would be in the air at 7:30 in the morning that would be worth waking me up to see?? I slither my way over to him and lay my head on his chest.

Me: *deep sigh*

Evan: I thought so.

It was the moon. The full moon hanging low and beautifully while the sunrise in the east lit the trees and sky all around it. The sky was ever so faintly glowing its layers in shades of pinks and blues. I just laid there for a few minutes. Then I moved back over to my side and tried to convince myself that I had seen something beautiful. I had not missed it. I could go back to sleep now.

:blink, blink:

I sat up.

Evan: I’m sorry I woke you up. You can’t go back to sleep now, can you?

me: No, no… I just can’t stop thinking that I should go try to take pictures.

So, I did. I threw on my blue and orange baseball pajama bottoms, a light pink breast cancer awareness sweatshirt, black and white slippers, trotted down the stairs, pulled on my black winter coat, grabbed our Pentax K100D and whooshed out the back door onto the deck. And now I will share with you the last full moon of 2011!

 

Search for the perfect first boat – Catalina 25

Sailing classes are finished. Boating season in the midwest is done. It’s December. But that’s not stopping us! Oh, no! We are on a mission to find our first sailboat. It has been a very interesting ride so far. We have done extensive searches onYacht World and Sailing Texas and Craigslist – even Ebay! Not to mention all the blogs and forums and manufacturer websites and the invaluable advice and experience of sailing friends.

We had narrowed it down to 3 kinds of boats – the Catalina 25, the Watkins 25 and the C&C 26 or 27. Now given our price range the pickings are a little slim for the Watkins and the C&C, but the Catalina has a larger yield currently. We are also not blind to the fact that it’s the end of the season, so prices now will likely go up toward the beginning of spring as those desperate to get out on the water will start sucking up and taking the plunge. We are TRYING to be smart about this. *snort*

Well we found a Catalina 25 fixed keel; with inboard diesel and a wheel to boot! It photographed well. The owner was moving on to a larger boat, but this one had served him well. He and his buddies had taken it from Connecticut to Massachussets when he bought it, and she had sailed like a dream! We asked a million questions about her. He even went so far as to go out and take more pictures specifically for us and email them. Drawbacks? We were warned that the windows were a little leaky at times, but certainly nothing that couldn’t be fixed. There were a blisters, but very small and few and had been cut and drained. Now all that was needed was bottom paint. Well, painting was ok with us. We could choose our colors from the beginning to customize her to our tastes, right? Oh, and it was in Maryland. And there was no trailer. Ok, replacing port windows. Fine. And Maryland from Indianapolis isn’t THAT far. We were accomstomed to drving 6 hours round trip twice every other weekend when we lived in Texas, so this wouldn’t be that big a deal. The hilly route might be a bit of a concern, but we weren’t going to give up hope.

The trailer was a different story. We searched and searched for a trailer. Any that we felt were within a swallowable price range were hell and gone from us and from the boat. The rest were brand new or custom built and would easily cost 50% more or double the asking price of the boat. More frustrating was the fact that we could find plenty of other listings that would include a trailer, well within our price range, but way too far away (ie: San Diego, Ca or Seattle, Wa). We even looked into renting a trailer, and then finally decided to just go take a look at her in person. We figured if she turned out to be THE one, then we would just deal with finding a trailer later and make the double trip. It’s worth it for the right boat, right?

We both drive serious gas guzzlers, so we decided to rent a car. Got up early on a Friday morning, picked up the car, grabbed some Einstein Bros bagels and coffee and took off. We stayed at the new hotel on Andrews AFB (really, really nice) and then met the boat owner at 9am Saturday morning.

Moment of digression: Let me tell you that the views are amazing around the Chesapeake. It seems like you can’t possibly be near the water even though the GPS is telling you that you are less than 1/4 mile from that marina because of the lush forest through which you’re drving and then suddenly, POOF! You pop out of the trees, and there’s the water and millions of boats! It was amazing. Ok, now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

So, we found the marina, and located the boat. The owner was there getting her ready for us to take a look. She was on the hard, so he had a step ladder under the swim ladder to climb up. When we reached the cockpit we saw he had dropped a bunch of towels down in the cockpit and cabin because of all the condensation this time of year. ::blink, blink:: Condensation? Dude. It was the mustiest, dampest, mildewiest thing I’ve ever set foot in. The windows did more than just leak. The towels were pretty much soaked. We found soft spots inside and outside.The cushions hadn’t been removed either, so they were soaking up just as much of the “condensation” as the towels.

The head room inside the cabin was supposed to be sufficient. It was not sufficient. I am 5’6″ and Evan is 5″9″ (Everyone says he seems much taller – must be the military officer presence.) We were getting cricks in our necks. The pop top version of these boats – which this was not – are supposed to be able to increase the head room to 6’4. Even if that is not an embellishment, the area raised would be very, very small. The V-berth was more like a V-coffin. Overall, very claustraphobic… and then I started coughing. Mildew, y’all. My lungs don’t handle it well. So now I was coughing and cold (it was maybe 40 degrees in and outside of the boat), and I had taken all the pics I was going to take of the boat.

I climbed back down the ladders, and went to the car to get my overcoat and pocket hand warmers. Standing at the car coughing, I could see the rest of the marina and the docks and the boats and… THE SUN. I left the car and wandered down to the docks. I walked in the sunshine, attempting to soak up every ray of warmth I could and gazed out. The sun hitting the water, all the boats, the smell of it all. I could have stayed there for hours. I took more pics of my views between coughs. I strolled down each of the docks I could and looked at all the different boats. Trawlers, sailboats, a few I recognized from our Yacht World searches and that made me smile.

 

 

Sunrise sparkling on the water
So many masts and trees – beautiful!
After about 30 minutes or so, I saw Evan and the boat owner coming out from the among the stilted boats, and could see from their body language that things were winding down. It was time for our 11 hour ride back to Indiana. We talked about it on the ride home, and came to the conclusion that not only was this boat not THE boat, but Catalina 25s were not longer a part of our search. I finally stopped coughing somewhere around Dayton, Ohio. (No, I didn’t have my inhaler with me. Yes, I did a breathing treatment with my nebulizer when we arrived home.) We had seen a few Watkins 25s and it was time to start digging deeper into those.
I debated a while about whether or not I should post about this trip. Looking back it seems almost foolish, but this is how we learn, right? And we got to see a part of the country we had not really paid much attention to before, and the road trip itself offered some really spectacular views as well. Lessons were learned, and that is always a great thing with which to walk away from any adventure!

Sailing Lessons

Currently, we are stuck in Suburgatory (Have any of you seen that show? Pretty cheesy, but has enough of it’s moments to make it worth watching), but we know where we are going and fully committed to the journey that will get us to a live-aboard life. In preparation for that day we have looked into several boating/cruising schools. I told y’all in my last post that we decided to give sailing a try. I don’t know how he does it, but my husband – the researcher – finds some interesting things and some great deals on the internet. During his quest to compare and contrast sail power vs motor power he came across this school:

Dauntless Sailing School

He had sent me the link while I was at work. (You should know that I have limited time at work to “research.” I am a sign language interpreter, and I primarily work as a video relay interpreter. I am basically on the phone and staring at TV for 85-90% of my time at work. I can give things a quick look on my 10 min breaks or during the few seconds I have in between calls, but I generally don’t get to go very in depth.) So I gave his email a quick glance and clicked through to the Dauntless Sailing School site and did a gave it a once-over. I could see that it was a sailing school and the overall feel of the site was professional and friendly – it was also late in the season for sailing and the classes were being offered at a discount.

I emailed back to my husband and said something to the effect of: “Looks great.” And then added in my special sarcastic font:”So where is it… Chicago? Ft. Lauderdale? or what?”

His almost instant reply was: “Oh, it’s about 5 minutes from our house.”

WHAT?? Turns out that our particular brand of Suburgatory houses a very popular location for SAILING. Geist Reservior – Who knew!?! We obviously didn’t. So on the way home from work I gave them call, and spoke to the owner of the school, Todd Bracken. It turned out that he was indeed discounting his sailing lessons for a limited time, but all of his classes were full. He would be willing to create a new class for us on Saturdays if we could rustle up at least 2 more folks. In the meantime, he would keep us on his waiting list for the spring.

We talked to a few folks, but though interested, Saturdays during football season weren’t a good fit. So we chalked it up to slim chances and prepared ourselves for the 6 month wait until spring. Then a couple of weeks later I get a call from Todd!

Todd: “Hey, Debra! Todd Bracken here from Dauntless Sailing School. I was wondering if you and your spouse were still interested in sailing lessons.”

Me: “We are, in fact, but since we weren’t able to rustle up anymore folks….”

Todd: “Well, I have another interested party. I typically only create a new class with a minimum of four people, but I’ve decided to make an exception in this case and will do it with three. We’ll be meeting on Saturdays at 1pm.”

Me: “Fantastic! We will be there!”

Now let me introduce s/v Dauntless!!

 

 

She is a C&C 27, and we had a TON of fun sailing her! In addition to fishing and teaching, Todd also likes to race her, and he has done a few extended cruising trips.

He’s got some stories, and he’s a pretty funny dude. If you have the chance to meet him you should. Better yet, do one of his Evenings of Sail – a nice, romantic, relaxing evening (read:booze cruise) here on Geist Reservoir! We took my parents out one evening after a sailing lesson when they just happened to be in town visiting and had a great time!

We brought chicken, cheese & crackers, fruit, a couple of bottles of wine and of course my dad had his staple – Lone Star Beer – carried with him all the way from Texas because you can’t buy it here in Indiana.

So now we’ve sailed. And we liked it. But we still have a few years before we can cut the lines, and there’s not much room here for a large catamaran. What ever will we do?? We are searching to buy a smaller sailing vessel, that’s what! We’ve decided that for the next few years we will fart around here on Geist and improve upon the skills Captain Todd bestowed and have a new activity for us and the kids, too!

Sail vs. Power

When we first made our decision to start our eventual transition to the cruising world, we were sure that some kind of engine powered boat would be the way to go. A trawler – this would be the ticket. Some kind of pilothouse perhaps? Yes! Large cockpit up with the helm perfect for dining and hanging out together. Down and inside the other helm would be great for staying warm and dry if the weather we not to cooperate. And even underneath we might be be fortunate enough to have standing engine rooms – very convenient when the need for maintenance rears it’s head. Oh but wait, the draft, and the fuel consumption. Hmmm…

Then we saw how much more economical catamarans by design would be, and the newer designs of the interiors on a lot of them show the cabins and berths to be a lot less tomb or coffin-like than before. Maybe we won’t have a bath tub, but many designs are really quite cozy looking and with a dodger or even better, and enclosable cockpit, this would be great! Oh, but yeah, the fuel costs. It still takes a lot to fill those tanks. Hmmm…

No. Sailing would not be an option. Who wants to be out in the rain and wind should we happen upon a squall messing with a tangle of ropes, huge swinging sheets? Yeah, I didn’t know anything about sailing, but by god it looked complicated – too much work I tell you!

Evan was not quite as deterred. He is the researcher. He continued to do his magic and after a while was able to point out the pros and cons of each method. Now granted we’ve been doing our monthly date night for a year at Barnes and Noble. Sitting in the cafe with lattes and a huge warm cookie, pouring over the latest issue of Latitudes and Attitudes and Passage Maker. Eventually we added Cruising World, and our time has been both enjoyable and educational. 

Well, we were finally – though I don’t remember the exact moment – convinced that perhaps sailing was something that should at least be investigated before ruling it out. I determined that I was telling Mom that I didn’t like broccoli because it looked gross when in truth I had never even tasted it. I was judging without a real trial. 12 Angry Men, anyone? Ok – fine. Time to do some more research. We added Blue Water Sailing to our pile.

Cruising forums, cruising mags, endless Yacht World searches had given us a wealth of information. We both have had a lot of experience on boats. “Cruising” we realize is a different animal and is still new to us, so we still don’t know what some of this information we have means – but by George, we have it! We have found ourselves discovering something “new” only to remember some ad or article or blog post about this subject and go running back to re-read and say, “AH!! So THAT’S what they were talking about!” or “Oh wow! I knew that important, but this really puts it into better perspective!”

We are also now following several blogs as well. They are all sailing blogs. Go figure.

We even took sailing lessons, y’all! And you know what? It wasn’t NEARLY as complicated as I thought it would be! More on that in another post, but for now, I’m curious as to your opinions. Toss in your two cents, we are curious!

Children’s Fables

The Man, the Boy and the Donkey

Once upon a time, there was a man, his son and their donkey. They lived far out of town and, being very poor, had only their donkey with which to carry their supplies to and from market.

One day they were on their way to market. Both the man and the boy were leading their donkey down the long road. At one point they passed a farmer who called to them, “You fools! What is a donkey for but to ride upon? Why do you waste such opportunity and make yourselves weary?” So the man hoisted the boy up on the donkey, and they continued down the road.

After a while, they passed a group of men who pointed and scoffed, “Look at that selfish boy! He rides the donkey and forces his poor father to walk along beside him, and his father allows this!” So the man, not wanting to seem weak-willed, ordered the boy off the donkey, climbed on himself, and they continued on their way to market.

Later they passed a group of women who huddled and commented in loud and disapproving tones, “Look at that poor boy! His father rides the donkey and leaves him small and trudging along beside him. How shameful!” The man, now rather embarrassed, reached down and pulled the boy up onto the donkey with him, and together they rode down the road.

Some time later, they at last approaching the market bridge when another man watched them passing. He looked at them pointedly and scoldingly and said to them, “Why do you treat you donkey so cruelly? The two of you lazily ride this poor donkey and burden him with the weight of the two of you!”

Well, the man was now perplexed. He and the boy got off the donkey, and the stood for a moment trying to figure out what they should do next. Finally, they decided they would carry the donkey between them. They found a wooden pole and tied the donkey’s feet to it, raised it to their shoulders and proceeded to carry the donkey over the bridge to the market amid the jeering and laughter of all that watched them.

The donkey, feeling scared, began to struggle against the ropes and eventually freed one of his feet. He kicked out more in his struggles and one well placed kick caused the boy to drop his end of the pole. In the following confusion and struggle the donkey fell over the side of the bridge. His other feet being bound, he was unable to swim to shore and drowned.

The boy and man stood and watched helplessly. Another man, who had been following them on his way to the market himself, passed them shaking his head sorrowfully. “That will teach you,” he said.

Moral to the story: If you try to please everyone, you will lose your ass!

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Well, it seems that no one realy knows who wrote this story. Apparently, it is often attributed incorrectly to Aesop, but who knows? Regardless, Aesop or whoever probably would not have made the point quite that blunt, but sometimes proverbial smack in the face is needed for us to really pay attention.

We have all given up on doing things in life. Most of time it seems we are talked out of it by others who do not believe in us or talked ourselves out of it for fear of being judged. If we want something we should go for it! If we do not succeed then at least we tried, and even better? We can learn from the experience and decide to try again!

I guess too often we just don’t believe in ourselves. Why do we have such low expectations? Are we not in control of our own destinies? Live your life. Do it your way. Please yourself! Take care of your responsibilities, of course, but don’t burden yourself with someone else’s choices. In the end, you need to be happy with the decisions you made and the fun you had. Grow old and have some fun and gather some stories to tell everyone! Shock and humor young ones with the tales of adventure and misbehavior of your youth! That’s my plan anyway – you go ahead and do what will make YOU happy!