Live Free 2 Sail Fast

Boats, Guns and Dogs

First, I’ll preface.  I’m not an expert at anything in this blog, so please don’t think I comment from a position of any real knowledge, as all views on this blog are my own and not backed by much of anything except my opinion and occasional thoughts that escape when I have bad gas.  I knew I wanted to write something on this subject so I’ve done a bit of research online on some of the other articles I could find, most were not written by someone who knew something about all three subjects or had good experiences with any of them.

I lived on a cruising sailboat in the last 70’s that had both a dog and guns on board,,,and kids.  We cruised throughout Central America for 5 years straight with no problems at all and the gun never came out of hiding, rusting into scrap, I think.   As for the dog, she was a large Great Dane who loved living on a cruising sailboat and lived until she was 13, finally passing away when I was just about 14 or 15, but still visible to corroborate my story in many of my photographs of those years.  We were called the boat with the “small dog and quiet kids”.

Fast forward to me in adulthood and I’ve spent most of my adult life around high powered firearms, developing a unique comfort level with them that only can be found from someone who uses weapons on a regular basis,,,,the man or women who will tell you they feel a bit naked when they are without their favorite firearm or knives.  This isn’t a glorification of firearms, just a factual statement from this author who rarely brags about much of anything and never intend this blog to sound like bragging!  We as a family are also attempting to raise our 3rd Great Dane puppy (she’s one and a terror) and we also adopted a large pitbull/mastiff last year, but he’s 8 and simply wants to sleep in peace anywhere the puppy’s not!

As for guns on boats when cruising outside of the United States,,,that’s up to you.  But, I would be very, very skeptical of the person who brings a gun onboard a boat with just a few weekends or afternoons of target practice at the local range to get familiar with that weapon.  A gun is a tool, but employment of that weapon AFTER getting it loaded, cocked and ready for action is very, very difficult if you have never done it,in the dark, after waking up to some creaky noise on your boat, perhaps in a rolling sea?  As I read in another blog, you also may have to contend with foreign laws after you shoot someone, as they are much different than ours.   You also need to think of what you’ll do after you pull the trigger.  It’s not like in the movies,,,as guns leave holes that bleed all over and you might not kill the person you shot at, then you’ll have to render medical aid or explain to the authorities why you’re calling a MAYDAY for a drunk fisherman who you shot?   Or, what happens if you do kill that person on your boat? What are you prepared to do then,,,,roll the body into the ocean and go your merry way or report this act of heroic self-defense and take your chances with local authorities,,,,admitting in the process that you have brought a gun into their country illegally, then used it on one of their citizens with deadly results?  Again, all of this is up to you?

Another solution is a dog on board.  Most any dog will do, since most dogs bark.  Except one of mine.  See, I think it’s a Mastiff thing, but he likes to charge at full speed across our large yard, basically attacking whatever offending bird, coyote or rabbit is across the fence line, completely silently, until he comes to where he can’t run anymore and then he barks, a bit, very loudly.  But unlike the puppy Great Dane, the Mastiff doesn’t bark just to bark,,,,he patrols the yard silently and sleeps in the hallway facing our outside doors, dreaming of the day when he can meet that stranger who dares to enter his domain at night.  I think he’s probably able to do some damage,,,he’s 130 pounds.   But I digress.  Dogs on boats bark, letting you know something is amiss, perhaps an offending pelican, perhaps a drunk fisherman or someone who’s attempting to borrow your dinghy engine because it’s better than the one he has and he wants to sell yours.  I think a larger dog on a boat is perfect,,,,like a Great Dane on a boat makes for a very, very secure boat, I think.  In this situation, I might not feel I need a gun on the boat if I were to have a dog who lived on deck, feel the boat was home and was somehow trained not to bark it’s head off all the time.   My dog will never meet all these criteria, but I can write about the perfect dog in this blog,,,,always hoping mine will come around.

I’ve also read these articles about cruisers who build metal cages for their entry ways/gangplanks to basically lock themselves into their boats at night or lock up the boats when their gone.  Captain Pat Rains comments on this in her book, something I found really humorous.  Please spend a few nights swinging on a hook (anchor) somewhere in the middle of nowhere or a busy harbor and tell me how safe you might think it is to be locked inside your boat.   Hmmm, ever drag an anchor and need to get up on deck quickly during a freak little windstorm to take care of thing,,,,except your steel cage to keep intruders out has locked you in??  I’m giggling just sitting here writing about it.  I think a dog negates the need for this kind of overprotection, if your a dog person and you can handle training Rover to do his thing wherever you’re comfortable.

Next blog,,,,might be about ATTACK PARROTS!

Sailboat Survey Redux

First,,,,yeah, the little blog that could has TWO followers, THANK YOU, I have no idea how to get people to read this or if people even would read this, but I don’t care cause I’m writing anyways.  If you can suggest this to more folks who may want to follow my little blog, I’ll give you a lollypop.

As I alluded to in the last post, we took the plunge; making an accepted offer on a cruising sailboat, plunking down the big deposit and getting our broker to schedule the survey, haul-out and sea trail on the same day.  What an awesome day it was for me personally, because Michelle had obviously agreed to buy a boat and was mentally there (a HUGE step) and we were going ahead with a boat that had everything I thought I want on a cruising sailboat and didn’t have to buy it in cash, it could be had on the boat already as part of the loan package.

So, on Tuesday the 11th of November we took the long drive to San Diego for the day, getting to the boat a bit late but better than never.  For the survey, I had hired who I thought was one of the best surveyors in town as well as the recommended surveyor from the website.  BoatUS says you must use their recommended surveyor for the specific area and they have a good list on their website.  I have wanted to hire this surveyor for awhile, as I like the fact I was able to go on their website and read completed sample survey’s, giving me material to get a baseline from their completed survey examples.  I used Christian and Co. Marine Surveyors and upon meeting our surveyor the morning of Tuesday the 11th, I was impressed and relieved because he was already at work,  a no-nonsense guy who simply wanted to knock out the job. My broker, who works for Yachtfinders-Windseakers in San Diego was there too as well as the buyer and his agent.

The survey has always been spelled out in everything I’ve read as one of the most aspects of the boat buying process, I disagree.  Getting the survey done (and done well) is easy, there’s surveyors who will travel anywhere in the world to work.        I think the most important thing in the boat buying process is actually financing, but I digress.   The survey took all day,,,as he was surveying a 45 foot cruising boat that is 25 years old.  Although in one of the best marina’s in San Diego and maintained by a diver monthly, the rest of the boat wasn’t maintained as well, as a bit of the preventative maintenance had slipped.  The survey revealed lots of minor details that I could have easily fixed, but when the forward geneker on roller furling didn’t budge during sea trial,,,bad juju.  The rest of the sea trial went fine, but started us to thinking a lot about the value of the boat.  Despite a great haul out, decent sea trial and complete survey, the fact remained that the survey found the boat’s worth to be $15k below what the owner and us agreed to in the accepted offer,,,and the surveyor sent a separate note to let me know his estimate was on the high side as it was.   In the end, after a few days of thinking about it, we just couldn’t justify the difference in price and were not emotionally invested to the point we HAD to have the boat,,,thus it was time to make that big boy decision.

In one of my favorite books, “18 Endless Summers of Sailing” the authors talk about their search for the boat that would eventually become theirs and the various selling experiences they had while waiting for her to sell, so I guess my experience isn’t unique,,,,the search will continue.

How I got here-

As a kid, I grew up on a cruising sailboat, spending five years with my family cruising throughout Central America.  Upon putting both their sons in college, my parents left again determined to sail around the world,,,,which they did in 18 Endless Summers, detailed in their book, 18 Endless Summers.   I too have gotten the sailing bug as a way to relax, escape, control and do something challenging that I can involve my family in,  to spend time with them and at the same time have something uniquely ours.  Not sure if this translates, but it’s clear to me.

So, two years ago I started a relationship with Windseakers/Yachtfinders Boat Brokerage of San Diego.  Funny, I actually started working with him when he started answering my dumb boat questions and when I returned home, we finally met in early February 2013 and have been working together ever since.  I like and respect Clark, because I’m clearly not an ideal client: I have little money, I have big dreams, I have little actual sailboat experience with a large blue water cruiser and I have no clear pattern as to what kind of boats I want to look at, besides sailboats.

But, I could never get my wife to agree to an actual purchase or even to putting in a loan approval request,,,so I had to keep looking at boats and gaining that valuable experience that comes from wanting.  With over two years of looking at sailboats in the Southern California area, I’ve seen quite a few.  My experience in looking at boats runs from multi-hulls to world famous globe girdlers that I have no business even lusting for, but yet I want to see them to figure out what I like or don’t like.

In working through what I liked or didn’t like, I’ve gone on boats in Central California built by Amel, I’ve chartered a powerboat in the BVI and captained her throughout the 10 days there and I’ve taken sailing classes in Southern California for the basics of sailing.

In the last three weeks, I’ve been on board four different boats that are offered through Windseakers:  a Jeanneau Sun Odyessy 45, a Cooper 416 Pilothouse and a Newport 41.  Offered by another broker, me and my wife looked at a Vagabond 47 and have seriously considered an offer on it, but we’re not there yet.  A friend was looking at the Newport 41, I hope he considers it, as it looked like it was in decent shape.  Basically, in all my reading and talking to folks I’ve heard that it’s best to get on as many boats as possible and even if you’re not going out on them, just getting on boats that might possibly be candidates for purchase is a good thing, as you see the different styles/makes and models and probably eventually find the boat that has the least amount of compromises that you can deal with; my # 1 compromise is money as I am fairly flexible with what I can put up with on a boat.