Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Should be Easier

"Should be easier," our friend Smoke emailed me the other day.  "Need boat, find boat, buy boat."

He hit it perfectly.

I remind myself that we are searching for a yacht, after all, and that there are much harder fates out there.  But, really, talk to people who have particular ideas about what they want and a limited budget, and again and again you will hear stories of long, hard boat searches.

We're still very excited about Taiko, the steel boat in Sausalito.  But a talk with a surveyor has identified a couple of issues that might be real problems.

First, the engine really does seem to be too small for such a big boat.  I had resigned myself to the idea of getting along with 50 HP, but the surveyor pointed out that this particular engine will only deliver 35 HP or so at cruising RPM, which really might not do the trick at all.

And then there's the issue of insulation.  Both the surveyor and the aforementioned Smoke, who knows a few things about steel boats, get very serious when they talk about the suitability of a metal boat with uninsulated frames for the sort of high-latitude work that we have in mind.

Stay tuned!

Kodiakers in Tas

We just had a great visit with our Kodiak friends Pete and Margaret and their mob - Clayton, Laurel and Jack.  They all came down to Tas and we met up in Cradle Mt. National Park.  Here's the crew setting out on a hike, experiencing very stereotypical early summer Tassie weather.

Jack in the buttongrass.

We stayed in a great cabin in the park.  Elias was very excited to sleep in the top bunk.

I busted out one afternoon for a walk by myself in the hills, where I got the views above.  Cradle Mt. is a very pretty place, and we're keen to go back.  Maybe it was the presence of our Kodiak friends, but as I was walking around in the hills I did what I never do when travelling and compared the place to home.  "Jeez," I thought.  "You could set these hills down in Kodiak and no one would notice them."  But that was just my relict Alaskan bias talking and of course comparisons of this sort are odious....

After a day in Hobart we all trekked out to the Bicheno for Christmas.  Actually, what we were aiming to produce for our Alaskan friends was an Australian "chrissie" instead of a northern hemisphere Christmas.  The northern Christmas is a midwinter festival, but the Australian version is very much a "summertime and the livin' is easy" sort of holiday.  Thus our choice of Bicheno, where there is a very nice beach where Elias and I braved the cold water for a swim.  On Boxing Day the surf was up and I finally got my longboard wet in Tassie.

We rented a great beach house and set up a little Christmas tree complete with lights.  Here's Elias with a plate of cookies for Santa and a plate of carrots for Santa's eight 'roos.  (Turns out he doesn't use reindeer down here.)

We had Christmas dinner complete with the Australian touch of party hats and crackers and noisemakers.  Good fun.

Pete and Margaret and their troupe caught the ferry back to the North Island on Boxing Day, leaving behind a very warm impression of their family dynamic.  We're looking forward to seeing these good people again...maybe our boat search will find us close to Alaska sooner than we know...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hull Knocking

One of the things that Alisa and I love to do in anchorages is to row over to a nearby boat, knock on the hull and chat the owners up.  It's always a crap shoot when we do this - sometimes we get baffled reactions from the people we approach, sometimes we meet people whose outlook doesn't match well with our own, and often we meet casual acquaintances whom we know for a week or a month while we're travelling the same path.  And occasionally we knock on a hull and end up making good friends out of the bargain.

We just had a couple of the latter sort of people visiting - Diana and Alex from Kukka, whom Alisa and Elias met on a whim at an anchorage at Magnetic Island in Queensland last year.  They just came down to Hobart and we had a good time catching up on everything that has happened since we last saw them, over New Year's 2010 in Sydney.

Really, cruising is just an elaborate way to expand your circle of friends.  The boat stuff is all secondary.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's your job

-It's your job to be excited, I said.  It's my job to be nervous.

-Good, said Alisa.  I am excited.

-Well, perfect, I said.  I'm nervous.


So, the big news: we have an initial purchase agreement on the California steel boat.  That was the one that we initially ruled out after we learned the headroom, then ruled back in after Alisa measured me and found that I'm 5/8" shorter than previously advertised.  To refresh your memory, this is the beast:

We always knew that we would have to make some big compromises on whatever boat we got...  It's just taking me a bit to get used to the actual compromises that we see in this boat.  She's bigger than we want (45 feet).  She's steel, which I've not quite resigned myself to.  And she's a one-off, which I never wanted.  But there appears to be some good to go along with all that.  And at a certain point, if you want to stop dreaming and start sailing, you've got to go out an put your money down on one particular, imperfect, boat.  I fly over on January 11th to see her for myself.


This is a boat with a bit of a history:

Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

It's All Good

Well, no boat in the offing and our latest short-term housing situation will end in about three weeks, with nothing secured to take its place.  Oh, the joys!  Alisa and I have agreed that if we ever swap boats again we'll do everything we can to buy the new boat before we move off the old.  Of course, we could move back onto Pelagic, but at this point that feels like a lot of effort to take a step backwards, so we're going to try to hold out for a while before we play that card.

I'm reminded of hunting deer in the mountains of Kodiak - on those days when I spent hours tramping around in the tall wet grass, seeing nothing, I'd remind myself that it just took one second for everything to change...

I also told Alisa today that I sure never thought our boat swap would put the family through such a long spell of uncertainty.

Through all this uncertainty, though, things continue to be generally great for us in Hobart.

We celebrated Thanskgiving for the first time in Oz... the last two times we just went to the beach for a barbie.  But this time we invited over two North American friends (and an Australian significant other).  Alisa baked two chickens and two pumpkin pies and the friends brought salad and ice cream and we had a great time.

And our friends Robb and Emma invited us out for a sail on their 40-footer, Aratika.  We had a great time sailing, and Elias always has a great time with their girls.

AND, my dad dropped in for a just-under-a-day visit, part of a whirlwind visit to all the Australian family over nine days or so.  Check out how sick Elias was.

Actually we've all been sick.  Right now it's my turn, and it's been going on for almost two weeks, and I missed a very very fun barbie today as a result, and I'm just about fed up with it.  Anyway, Alisa got a great "three generations of blokes" shot with my Dad.

It's all good.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Chalk and Cheese (and a bit of a revelation)

This boat search will come to an end.... I'm sure it will.

As of three or four days ago, we were onto two candidates, neither of them metal.  They were the proverbial chalk and cheese - it would be hard for two boats to be more different.  Here are pics of each:

The underbody of the top boat is very similar to that of Pelagic.  A deep, modified fin keel, skeg hung rudder and a deep hull sections.  The bottom boat is completely different: twin rudders, a very flat bottom and a centerboard.  The only thing that unites the two is that they each appear to well kitted-out with reasonably new gear, and ready to start crossing oceans on short notice.  This has always been our top criterion in the search.

But then, predictably, after we got excited about each, they both seemed to go pear shaped.  The listing broker for the top one is in the hospital, and he works for a large brokerage that is apparently so disorganized that no one else has any info about the boat, not even the seller's contact details, so no one can tell us if the boat is even still for sale.  And while there's a lot to like about the bottom boat, it is very very light indeed - as near as I can figure, she displaces 8400 kg half loaded, on a 12.8 m waterline, for a displacement/length ratio of 112(!), which, if I'm figuring it correctly, is about half of the D/L of an OVNI 43.

Our friend John, who may have more first-hand knowledge of boats than anyone else we know, said, "Mate, she's too light.  You'll feel every pothole in the road.  You'll wake up every time you go over a ripple."

We tend to agree.

Which brought about a low point in group morale - "When will we ever find a boat?" I wailed.  So many of the boats that we are interested in don't have the required 1.95 m headroom, and that seems to be making a tough search much tougher.

So, today, on a whim, Alisa measured me.

My height is something that I've always known about myself - 6' 3 3/8".  But I have no memory of ever measuring myself - the last time must have been in high school.

Alisa made my height at 189.5 cm, or a hair under 6' 2 1/4".  So either I've been wrong all this time, or I've lost an inch.  Either way, it's a bit embarrassing to have been ruling out so many boats because of a faulty piece of information.

Hopefully this revelation will breathe a little life into our search.