Saturday, April 7, 2018

St. Louis for the second time

I'm currently in St. Louis, Missouri, halfway through a two-week trip for work. The last time I passed through St. Louis was during our cross-country road trip honeymoon, six and a half years ago. We stopped for a pretzel snack near the Arch but otherwise didn't see anything of the city. I remember it feeling kinda silly but also fun, to have pretzels of all things, in St. Louis. I also remember us being impressed with just how wide the Mississippi really is. It's one of those things where "knowing" it's a big river is really different from seeing it.

I wish Drew was here with me this weekend. Nostalgia feels more bittersweet when it can't be shared.

I'm going up to the top of the Arch later today; I don't usually do the typical "tourist" activities when I travel… but I don't want to let some stupid hipster notion or simple laziness keep me from doing something unique and iconic, either. Especially since the Arch feels kindred with the Space Needle. I'm hoping that I've explored enough of the area in the past week to appreciate the view, at least somewhat. 'Cause it feels like a waste to me, when I go to a scenic viewpoint but can't recognize anything that I'm looking at.

The "history-ness" of St. Louis feels more palpable to me here than in many places on the West Coast that I'm familiar with. The buildings here are old enough that I can't help but imagine past lives, past centuries superimposed on the landscape. According to a plaque on Fourth Street downtown, the Revolutionary War came as far west as here (presumably for control of the Mississippi River). Being in visibly-old cities gives me a sense of place in the larger country, world, history. It's like the sense of awe and connection to the universe I get when stargazing, except on a more human scale. Maybe I've just grown too familiar with Seattle to feel that way there, but I feel it here.


Saturday, March 31, 2018

We have a sailboat!!

Happily, there were no real surprises with the boat survey! The surveyor agreed that the sails were on their last legs but still serviceable — until they blow out and we have to replace them. So we'll budget for that eventuality and stay in the Sound for now.

The surveyor also pointed out the small amount of water damage around the chainplates where they attach to the bulkheads, which we had previously noticed and worried about, but in his opinion it isn't that big of a deal, just fix it. He said that the repair procedure Drew had researched sounded exactly right.

Of course, the boat gods couldn't let the purchase go 100% smoothly... So there was some minor drama involving a late-breaking second buyer offering cash at the seller's full asking price. We ended up agreeing to buy the boat at the slightly reduced price we'd previously agreed to, but finished the transaction a couple days faster than we'd wanted to, based on the surveyor's verbal comments rather than his detailed written report.

In any case, we now own the boat!

My friend Lee happens to be visiting the area this week, so we're going to motor around the Tacoma area and have a picnic lunch aboard our shiny new-to-us boat. :) I'm sheepishly excited to get to show the boat off to an enthusiastic friend, even if we won't be sailing with guests until I get a little more practice as crew.

Sadly, I'll probably miss the "delivery" sail from Tacoma to Ballard due to an unfortunately-timed work trip. But I absolutely am looking forward to all the other sailing adventures in our future!

The waitlist for day sails with us starts now! ;)


Monday, March 26, 2018

Sailing Anticipation

No change in the scheduled boat survey this wednesday, so there's really nothing "new" to report. That said, were both super excited (also nervous!) about the boat that will hopefully soon ours.

Like I mentioned before, it being only a 25' boat means it's less than many used cars. But it's still a couple thousand dollars, which ain't nothing. We both feel simultaneously excited but also worries about a large purchase (especially while we're still in the middle of remodeling the house!). To be fair, we'd be foolish not to think about that, so the very fact that we're also anxious paradoxically reassures me. And it's coming from a bucket of money that is explicitly not for "usual" expenses, so there's that.

Another Yamaha 25 popped up on Craigslist this weekend. The asking price is a couple thousand less than the one we've put an offer on... but it definitely sounds like a "project boat," not one that's ready to go. We're okay with having to update the sails and maybe even the standing rigging of a boat… but this other boat needs more work than that. So it was actually a good comparison against the boat we are looking at.

When I'm not thinking about the financial commitment, I'm daydreaming about new sailing adventures! We could join the Duck Dodge in our own boat. We could sail to one of the canal restaurants, dock at their pier, and combine a day sail with dinner. We could explore the cities of Lake Washington from their waterfronts. We could visit our friends who live on the Kitsap Peninsula by water. We could take a weekend or weeklong trip up to the San Juans, which I still haven't seen but I hear are beautiful. We could join local sailing clubs' potluck raft-ups, to become part of the local community. And especially, we could just go sailing nowhere it particular, enjoying the wind and the sun, the sky and the water, and the lively boat we sail with.


Thursday, March 22, 2018

We Should Buy a Boat

If all goes well, next week we should be the proud owners of a 25-foot Yamaha sailboat!

It's amazing to me how much Twitter and Facebook have siphoned off what I otherwise would have probably consolidated into longer blog posts. But really, I miss the more "coherent" nature of a post here — especially when I can use my Neo N2 smartpen that my mom bought as a gift to replace my clunker, less reliable Livescribe. :)

Anyway! Rather than "catch up" on all that's been going on in my life since I last blogged (returned from my year in Mexico, new job at Pivotal Labs, remodel continues apace)... I'm going to jump right into the exciting thing going on right now:


We are in the final stages of buying a sailboat! The survey happens next Wednesday, and if the surveyor finds nothing egregious, we'll be exchanging money for boat! I might be excited. :)

She's a Yamaha 25II, built in 1977. So a rather small boat, really, but plenty of space for a couple to do daysailing and short trips, plus space to bring a friend or two along if they don't mind being cozy. Her lines are well-laid out, all coming back to the cockpit where you can reach everything you need to control without having to scramble all around (as you have to on some bigger boats). Other advantages of a smaller boat: the physical forces generated by the sails are less, so some things you can have a chance of manhandling when necessary, and it's less likely to hurt you quite as badly if things go wrong. (But things can still hurt you even on a small boat; you still gotta pay attention!)

Finally, a 25' boat turns out to be significantly cheaper than even ones a few feet longer. Drew* says the price can really jump even for a 31' boat. But we spent more on a then-13-year-old Toyota Tacoma pickup truck than the purchase price of the Yamaha. (Double, actually, if I do the math!) Her sails will need replacing soon-ish — the genoa is the original 1977 sail! — but they're in usable shape for daysailing right now. And the seller's asking price is substantially less than what other Yamahas have sold for... just about the cost of a new set of sails, in fact. ;) so that seems fair to us, plus we get to pick out the characteristics we want in the new sails.

I've only taken a 2-weekend sailing "class" (I found the instruction disappointing) in tiny FJ's back in 2016, and have been out as mostly a passenger (rather than crew) on the Yamaha's test sail and on a club's Catalina 24'. I'm scheduled to take a weekend ASA Keelboats 101 class at the end of April, but really I've done practically no sailing yet. So yeah, it might seem a little crazy that we're buying a boat "so soon."

But really, Drew is the one buying the boat, and sailboats are anything but new to him. He grew up on a different Yamaha 25' before his family moved into a larger Jeanneau 45'. While I was taking my little FJ classes, he was more seriously getting back into sailing. While I was in Mexico, he was joining friends for day sails and Duck Dodges. He'd made a Craigslist alert for Yamaha sailboats and been keeping an eye on how often they came up for sale, in what condition, and for how much. So when he saw this Yamaha in nearby Tacoma, we went to see it.

I've been enjoying learning how to sail. It's like a whole new language of nautical terms, so that appeals to the language nerd in me. There's a whole new welcoming community of sailors that I didn't know existed. There's lots of hands-on skills to practice, master, and geek out about. And I'm just plain excited to have new adventures to share with Drew.

Hopefully by this time next week, we'll be working out the logistics of transferring the boat to our ownership! :D

*Forrest is going by Drew now (it's one of his middle names).