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Old 18-02-2008, 09:21   #46
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"Friends would ask "aren't you afraid?" My answer was "I feared not leaving even more!"

On my last cruise, and the only one paid out of my pocket, I took off for 9 months and single-handed to Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. People often asked "Don't you wish you had someone to go with you?" Admittedly there were a few times it would have been nice, but I had limited funds and if I'd waited for that "someone" I wouldn't have had the money to go. So my answer is: "It's better to have gone alone than not to have gone at all."

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Old 18-02-2008, 10:04   #47
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Old 03-04-2013, 10:39   #48
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Re: Aging and Sailing - changes

Originally Posted by Eventide View Post
I am 59, birthed late in the class of '47. I have been boating literally all my life, first on sailboats (over 30 years) and now via power. I love sailboats but in this part of the world (Florida, the Keys, Bahamas) sailboats are for daysailing - you go out, find the wind and have a good time. For passagemaking hereabouts, sailboats are a pain in the tookus. I can't tell you now many times I have sailed to the Keys or the Bahamas with either no wind at all or the wind on our nose. On one long and tedious trip I realized that I was motoring far more than I was sailing and I came to understand that PASSAGEMAKING sailors do indeed motor most of the time around here.

I happened to hitch a ride one time with a friend on his trawler and, God please forgive me, I loved it. We went in a straight line, the boat stayed level, it had lots more room than my 41' sailboat, the cabins were full of light from the sunshine streaming through the large windows and there was almost no work to do while were were steaming along - no sails to tend, no trimming to ponder, no waiting for bridges to open. I felt like I was betraying my sailing heritage but I could not get past the smile on my face when I was on that trawler.

Fast forward, I went over to the dark side. I bought a single engine, 38' trawler. But I kept my sailboat for three more years, sure that I would come to hate either myself or my trawler for giving up the sailing. Eventually I had to admit that near-shore passagemaking and coasting were a lot easier on the trawler than on my ketch. So I put the sailboat on the market and she was gone from my life.

I have to admit here that I still have pangs of lust when I see a beautiful sailboat catching just the right breeze out on the Gulf of Mexico. But then I remember all those times when all I could do was motorsail when I wanted to actually go somewhere and I am happy with my decision.

As an aside, last week I spoke with a local sailor who has a 45' Columbia sloop. He had just returned from a trip which totalled about 1000 miles. After we'd had a few beers together I asked him to be honest with me and tell me how much time he spent under power while he was underway. Chagrinned, he admitted that the iron genny was lit up almost 90% of the time. But of course, he still thinks I am a traitor to sailors everywhere for owning a stinkpot.

Getting back to my story, I was cruising in the Florida Keys several years ago on my 38' trawler when I stopped and anchored at a well known harbor. This place has a great watering hole that also has a large bulletin board located between the bar and the men's bathroom (great, strategic location). As I passed by I could not help but notice a For Sale sign advertising a well known brand of 50' motor yacht for sale at a fire sale price. As I was in the loo staring at the wall I kept thinking to myself that if I was at all smart then I would never again look at that ad for the 50 footer and I would walk right past it and back to my beautiful woman who was waiting for my return at the bar. (The Keys are desperately short of women and full of desperately horny men, so you can't leave your lady alone at the bar for too long or when you return she might not be there.)

Thirty days later I owned that 50 footer and, of course, the 38' trawler.

I fell in love with the 50 footer and rationalized that for the two of us cruising together this boat would be ideal - lots more room, privacy for us both whenever we needed it, lots more speed for outrunning squalls, waterspouts and the occasional pirate-wannabe. This was to be my forever boat, I was convinced.

So I put the 38' trawler on the market and sometime later I was down to just one boat. It felt wonderful. (I know, I know - it is stupid to ever own two boats. I never said I was mensa material.)

Fast forward several more years and now the woman is long gone and the 50 footer is way too much boat for me to handle by myself. Plus, it has very large and very thirsty diesel engines. When I bought her the price of diesel was under $1.00 a gallon, now it is well north of $3.00 a gallon.

So now the plan is to make the 50 footer shine with paint and polish and TLC and to put her on the market. When she sells I will look at buying a much smaller single engine trawler that I can manage alone, probably under 36 feet in length.

I am not going back to sail, although I still love sailboats and still lust for them when I see one in full sail on the horizon. As I have aged I have had to understand that smaller is better and that motoring along in a trawler is, for me, the way to go. The most important thing is to just own a boat and to get out on the water as much as I possibly can because when I am on the water that tuning fork that I have inside me, the one we all have inside us, chimes a perfect note and I am content and one with nature.

Short of the long, that is how I plan to spend the days that I have left - on the water in a boat that I can handle, not dependent on any crew or rigging or sails or the wind being from the right direction. I'll be the one quietly moving along the Florida Gulf coast, heading for the Keys and the Bahamas. Hail me if you see me, I'll always have an extra Heiniken or two to share with you. We can sit on the deck in a peaceful anchorage and swap lies and marvel at the wonder that is boating and being on the water,

Your mileage may vary. Michael.

What an enlightened post.

I know it was some time ago, but thanks.
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Old 03-04-2013, 15:04   #49
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Re: Aging and Sailing

As long as my little boat holds the mirror,I will always be a young man sailing her.
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Old 03-04-2013, 15:53   #50
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Re: Aging and Sailing

I'm a '45 model, but do not have the legs to match the description!

I understand the feelings of the skipper with the hip replacement. Whether replacements or accidents, physical limitations can hit you when you least expect them to. In 2009 I broke my leg skiing and was doing fine when six months later the titanium plate they put in my leg broke, necessitating a second emergency surgery, which put my muscles out of action for a year. My doctors and PTs said sailing is the best medicine. Who was I to argue?

While I'm not a "cruiser" I have done a few things differently. I now do not go out for daysails. I go out and make sure to anchor out at least one night. I claim that the only work left on my boat is the damn mainsail cover, and I refuse to take it off and put it back on all on the same day!

The boat is 34 feet and we've had it since 1998. Stuff works, and I still do all the maintenance. I learned to sail and dock it singlehanded when we first got her. I just competed in my first singlehand race (did lousy, but had a great time, and had skippered crewed races and did well for many years). My son (24) loves the ocean and we go out as often as possible.

I'd considered a trawler during those first few months after the accident, but then had an epiphany: the sailboat's good exercise, I know the engine and how to fix stuff, and I already own the danged boat! (Free and clear). I don't mind motoring if that's what is offered. This year, ever since December, I've had great upwind sails, but have had to motor back home. That's what I get, I'll take it.

Years ago I learned about midships spring lines and have never "jumped down onto a dock", which I figure keeps this second titanium plate intact. I haven't figured out how to dock a trawler singlehanded, but I guess some come with nice opening hatches to allow one to do so (Nordic Tugs come to mind).

Every day on the boat I count as great exercise. And, there's ALWAYS something to do - cleaning, replacing filters and fluids, you name it. It's the mind as well as the body that gets nothing but good from our boat.

I'd spent some time figuring out what the For Sale ad would read for our boat.

Finally decided: "Let someone else worry about that, she's a keeper for me."

Thanks for the great thread.

Stu Jackson
Catalina 34 #224 (1986) C34IA Secretary
Cowichan Bay, BC, (Maple Bay Marina) SR/FK, M25, Rocna 10 (22#) (NZ model)
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