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Sailboat Family Pre-Trip 2010 Monthly Journal

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Cold, Dry Poop, Wind, and a new MSD

[JAN10]Pressing forward, we have addressed the Marine Sanitation Device challenges in the bitter cold. Even with the outside temperatures running at 18 degrees Fahrenheit, with snow and ice around, Val successfully swapped out our liquid based marine head with a dry composting one from Natures Head. The installation is absolutely beautiful. The master cabin continues its improvements as well. All the original fabric in the room (headliner and wall coverings) was taken out, and the entire room was painted a light tan. The space feels more modern and fresh. The list of "must haves" continues to shrink as our strategies evolve. For example, we know we want a wind generator, but we've gone from must installing it pre-sail to installing it sometime after we've begun the journey and our electrical needs demand it. Our progress towards our financial goals and a sufficient sailing kitty moves forward at a fine clip. If we can hold onto our pace, we will have the option of leaving for the trip in December. Having the option is everything.

Dates, Marinas, Under 300

[FEB10]It seems like each month, when we look back, we are stunned by how quickly it has gone by. February is no exception. 28 days later, and it is gone to never be resurrected. Good thing we did something each day to get ready otherwise it would have been a lost opportunity! The most profound outcome this month was realizing that with our marina lease expiring in March, we would be better off moving the boat to the ocean now instead of in October 2010. Our original plan was simply to go on a month to month lease on the lake until October and then moving it to the ocean. We never considered any other path. We are still unsure why we never considered the option of moving it out sooner. The month to month lake lease, price wise, is not much different than the year lease price at the marina we've selected on the Atlantic. We talked a lot about how much time we will spend on the boat, and what we did last summer. We spent many 3 and 4 day periods on the boat. Why not do that on the Ocean all summer? Our drive time will go from 1 hour each way to 4 hours each way. That is the only downside. We also picked our new home for Ariel. A wonderful, little, family run marina and boat yard. We did an unannounced visit and were very happy with what we found. In February, we also went under 300 days until we can set sail. That is a wonderful mental hurdle to pass. We continue to progress towards our next $100,000 goal. It looks like it will take only slightly less time than the previous push coming in at 12 months. WAHOOO! The spending behaviors of January and February 2010 didn't help as personal budgets were blown. Overall, another fantastic fast month. March is already marching. Let's see!

Hard, Boom, Sew, 100K

[MAR10]Step 1 of our 5 steps to relocating Ariel in the Atlantic ocean is done! She now rests on the hard in Aqualand Marina's boat yard drying out. The haul out event was quite exciting as it was the first time we had ever pulled any boat out via sling system. Ariel had some blisters, but nothing we didn't expect. We also took off the boom and mainsail. Val received her new sewing machine this month .... a Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1. This machine is quite a beast, and Val named her Beulah. Beulah has already repaired a number of pieces of clothing for the family. And finally, as we close out March, we have again made our $100K target!! YES!! We put the pressure on ourselves and for 9 of the 12 months we did amazing following our strategies and approaches perfectly. Alas, towards the end the wagon wheels started to fall off. We may have over pressurized the system by pushing so hard to achieve the numbers. Be that as it may, we've put away another $100,000! From now until we set sail, we will not be pushing on the system so hard. This doesn't mean we wont still apply our approaches for financial freedom, it just means that we won't be as aggressive.

Shipping, Stripping, and Stepping

[APR10]April is over? Holy Smokes!! It has blown by, along with the first third of the year. Unbelievable. This months highlight was the relocating of the boat to the Atlantic. It was a giant adventure, picking out the transporter and picking our new marina. We also stepped our mast for the first time. That sucker is heavy!! Ariel is now safely in Sail Harbor Marina in Savannah, Georgia. The process of bottom painting has also begun. Ariel has been stripped to the fiberglass, and the coats of bottom paint will soon be applied. The solar fans we bought have also been installed, one for the composting head, one for the head, and one for the salon. We've also removed all the interior cushions and we will be recovering them with a family friendlier material.

Class, Bottoms, Batteries, Lifeline Netting, Names, no Salt

[MAY10]May blew by. This is becoming a reoccurring theme! Each month is going by so fast, yet within the moments it seems like our sail date is so far away. This month started off with Val taking a week long American Sailing Association class. She, and 3 other students, lived aboard a 39 foot sailboat the entire week. Her confidence grew tremendously, her knowledge of boating grew enormously, and the value of the course easily exceeded the tuition. The bottom of our Gemini 3200 has been painted: 4 layers of barrier coat (Interlux InterProtect 2000E) and 2 layers of anti-fouling (Pettit Ultima SR-60). 2 of the 6 saloon cushions have been completely redone and installed by Val. Yeah Val! They look fantastic. We've replaced the house batteries. Out went the four 5-year-old swollen SeaVolt 215s and in went the brand new Trojan T-145s! Heavy beasts these batteries are. The Lifeline netting has been worked out and looks good. Ariel's name finally made it to both sides of the boat. We went big on this front, really big. There will be no doubt as to our boats name when we enter port. Alas, with all this work done, Ariel still hasn't been put onto the water, and her mast is yet to be stepped. While she is on the hard, we will continue to take advantage of her non-bobbing condition!

Salt, Shots, Lights

[JUN10]Progressing forward, full steam ahead, we had an action packed month with the most exciting achievement being Ariel's return to the water! With our boat finally in the Atlantic, we spent 3 of 4 weekends in June on her doing tasks and enjoying the starry night only available to those on the water. We spent the 1 weekend not on Ariel doing something just as fun, we played at Disney in Orlando! Other trip preparation accomplishments included getting our yellow fever and typhoid vaccinations, getting the anchor light plus steaming light wired up, obtaining the Honda EU 2000i companion generator, and building up the dinghy engine mounting platform. Whew! What a month! With the conclusion of June, the boat is finally in "go" position. That is, if we made the decision to go right now, we could drive to Savannah, get on the boat and go. There are a few more things we want to get done first, but it is nice knowing Ariel is finally minimally outfitted to start the voyage.

Cushy Cruising

[JUL10]Ahhh, the boat is finally minimally configured and as a consequence we were able to take Ariel out! So July 4th weekend we spent 4 days on her, with sails out to Tybee Island. She felt really good. This months highlights including finishing off our ground tackle system and we now have 3 complete sets, each with a different anchor type; Val completed the last set of settee cushions and they look, and feel, great; the bimini was also put back up; and we morphed into our new mode of communication about the trip, a Facebook page. Our lives continue to transform and with each experience on Ariel, we are better able to judge when we as a family will be ready to set off on the adventure.

Close, So Close, Beulah

[AUG10]This month was so close .... we had got within 10 days of setting sail. As the month started, it felt right for us to go and we proceeded accordingly. We closed out rental agreements, sold some of our remaining household goods, and stocked the boat. However, within 5 days of us going, we had a premonition that it just wasn't time yet. Our family needs to get a bit more growth. We agreed to go back into preparation mode. Getting this close helped highlight a number of tasks that needed to be done tasks we probably wouldn't have seen without being so close. August also saw Beulah, our Sailrite sewing machine, get sick and have to make her way back to her place of origin for repairs. The piece that made her needle go up and down was broken. Sailrite was fantastic in taking responsibility and fixing her.


[SEP10]Another hot month with multiple overnight stays on the boat, including Val making one solo trip to Savannah. The big accomplishment this month was the installation of our Raymarine C70. Our radar system was cobbled together from multiple purchases off eBay and it was a big relief when we pressed the power button and the entire system lit up! Of our components, we installed the RD218 dome and the GPS system. We did not attach the DSM30 fishfinder yet.

Lazy Jacks and Sail Packs

[OCT10]Ever closer! Val knocked out 2 more big jobs this month. First up, she got the Lazy Jack system installed. When our main sail is now dropped, it folds ever so nicely into its place. No more manual flaking for us! This makes the boat easier to manage as the mainsail can be lowered into place by one person. The other job Val knocked out goes hand in hand with the Lazy Jack.... Val made (thanks to her mad sewing skills and her Sailrite sewing machine) a beautiful red sail pack. When the main sail is now dropped, and the lazy jack flakes it, the sail lands within a sail pack. The sail pack replaced the original sail cover and has a convenient top side zipper. Putting the sail cover on is now a 1 minute task (just pulling the zipper!) This is the second month in a row that Val made her own way out to the boat to get stuff done.

Corked, Bottled, and Locked

[NOV10]This month we were able to spend 6 nights aboard the boat. It was fantastic! We did face a new obstacle, our main engine stopped peeing out cooling water. We have some idea of what is wrong and we are now sourcing parts. While the engine is 12 years old, it has only 200 hours on it and we believe it is worth keeping. Val finished replacing the wall covering in the main cabin with cork. The cork not only looks better but has superb sound dampening properties. We also continued to fill the flotation chambers with plastic bottles. If these chambers ever get punctured and fill with water, the space taken up by the empty plastic bottles will help us stay afloat. Finally, Val fixed the inside door lock mechanism. Next month we will be back out to the boat for more nights aboard and working on the engine. Oh, we did have Thanksgiving on the boat and it was fantastic! Not only was it 78 degrees out with a blue sky, but the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberries, rolls, and pumpkin pie were especially good! It is amazing what Val can do with a simple 2 burner stove. The post Thanksgiving meal nap was made especially good by the slow gentle bobbing on the water.

Epirb, Spot, Shots

[DEC10]What a super month with 8 nights aboard the boat! There were a few really cold nights (like 39 degrees F), but for the most part we stayed nice and warm. We closed off the year with a night aboard the boat, and it felt good. Key moves this month included the acquisition and installation of our EPIRB, the Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon, and the final set of shots needed to complete our vaccination sequence. We also obtained a Spot satellite tracking system to help us log where we are as we go. Another year in the books, and when we read the old logs it reminds us to move forward as time never stops marching. We are so very close to being able to go. Who knows, maybe we will wake up tomorrow and head out. :)