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Old 15-05-2016, 19:52   #1
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Location: Tacoma, WA
Boat: 1975 Catalina 27'
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Unintentional Sailor

Hello to everyone,

My name is George and I live aboard my 27" Catalina. I do not know the first thing about sailing. I have never set foot upon a sailboat before. I never intended on living on a boat, wasn't even in the picture.

I retired from the military in December 2014. I have been going through a nasty divorce since April of 2015 and it still continues.... In July of 2015 I had three cervical vertebrae fused together. I lost my place to stay Christmas Day 2015. Let's just say 2015 wasn't the best year I've ever had..... I have been waiting on VA disability to start and thank the Lord it started in April. I was expecting quite a large back payment and had intended to use it to start raising sheep and goats. But again, the Lord stepped in and said that wasn't his plan for me. I only received a small portion of what I was expecting, the rest is being audited.... So instead of having enough to put down a payment on land, I had enough to get back to Washington from Alabama where I was staying with family, and either start renting or buy a small sailboat. I blame my sister, the boat was her idea.... I left Alabama as fast as I could because I have a 12 year old son in Washington who is my life and I NEEDED to get back to him. I found a cheap roach ridden crack hotel in Tacoma and started searching for a boat to live on. I found one in La Conner, about a three hour car drive, so I had a friend drop me off, I stayed in a hotel and the next morning my mind was made up, if I got there and the boat was floating and the engine started I was buying it. One hour later I was on my way to Tacoma in a sailboat that I had no idea how to sail, how to run anything on the inside, I didn't even know how to flush the toilet.... The guy I bought the boat from filled it up with enough fuel to make it to my next stop and sent me on my merry way. One thing I quickly learned was that no matter how much clearance you have at a bridge, holy cow, it still looks like that mast thing is gonna hit....

So I made it to my next stop, almost. I ran out of gas right outside the breakwater to the marina. I called and asked for some help. The man was kind enough, he asked was everything ok, how many people on board, where was I located (which all I knew was in a boat close to you out of gas), and then asked my problem. I told him I ran out of gas and could he bring me some. He asked what kind of boat I was in, so I had to tell him sailboat... I could almost see the smirk on his face when he said "Well just sail it on in guy and we will fill ya up...." I could hear him snicker when I explained the whole situation and he gave me a tow service phone number. So I called Bob's towing. Nope, all of their boats are on the hard getting ready for the season. Bob says, call the sheriff and tell him i said he needed to come get you. Oh good Lord, ok.... Call the sheriff and they finally showed up with gas for me and then politely made me follow them into the marina... Actually they were two of the nicest guys I've met. Stayed the night in the marina and went and bought extra fuel cans the next day, first lesson learned and I haven't even made it home yet. I must be doing good...

Day two has me leaving late because I had to walk all over town searching for fuel cans... Made good time on day two. Made it all the way to Edmonds, WA. Weather was beautiful, gorgeous day then when I come around a bend I see it. The land on the other side of the sound is covered in what I could best describe as an image from the Lord of the Rings. Cloudy, smoke rising from the hearths of homes nestled in the woods, there was a ship close to shore and I swear I saw a pirate flag raised.... I made it to Edmonds though, almost. Those clouds turned out to be a little squall with what seemed to me, in my second day on a sailboat, like 10 foot waves. I had to thread a needle between two ferries and fight the waves to make it into the marina. I was certain I was going to die. CERTAIN. But I did not. I hauled tail, well as much as you can with a 15 horse outboard, into the marina and as I made it into the marina at breakneck speed to beat the ferries and weather. Then it happened, my engine died.... No reverse to slow down, but its ok there is the fuel dock, Ill just hop out, loop a tie down and slow the boat down that way... Lesson 2 learned. It's never as cool as it seems in your head... I grabbed my ropes, hopped of the boat like superman, except I wasn't superman. My foot caught the lifelines and I did a face plant right in front of the super nice marina restaurant with everyone sitting there eating dinner.... and watching me..... meanwhile my boat heading straight for what looked a boat I could never afford. I quickly grabbed my wits and cool points and got the boat slowed down and then tied off with no injuries or accidents except to my pride. I started looking for a slip but everything was reserved. Well I think to myself I will just stay here in front of the fuel dock tonight and pay up in the morning. The I saw the sign, No moorage at fuel dock.... Well I aint moving.... Until the security guard comes and gets me. We got my boat moved to a better spot. Another fiasco but my fingers are tired....

Third day.... I finally make it to Tacoma. This was the best day yet. No 10 foot waves, plenty of gas, sunshine... Ah this is the life.... I pulled into my marina and as Im going into my slip, engine dies. Luckily lessons learned and I was going plenty slow, boat turned on a dime and I looked like a pro to the people who will be living around me.... Little do they know LOL....

Anyways, Thats just the first part of the adventure so far, I am certain there will be more to come.

George Tanner
UnintentionalSailor
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Old 15-05-2016, 20:11   #2
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Re: Unintentional Sailor

Sounds like you're a hazard to yourself and others. You really have no business leaving the dock with your current lack of knowledge.
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Old 15-05-2016, 20:25   #3
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Re: Unintentional Sailor

I agree actually. It was an adventure for sure. But you see, the funny thing is I have a son. He means the entire world to me. You have no idea what I have had to go through just to spend one day with him a week. So sometimes you have to do things.....

However, there are many kind people in the marina that I live in and every single one of them has volunteered to teach me to sail. Funny thing about people, not all see negative in everything.....
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Old 15-05-2016, 20:28   #4
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Re: Unintentional Sailor

You made it, nobody got hurt, so well done.


Once you learn how to sail, (and it's really not hard) you'll have a wonderful activity you and your son can do together.
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Old 15-05-2016, 21:10   #5
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Re: Unintentional Sailor

George, welcome aboard. Not sure what Marina you are at in Tacoma, but I am in the process of buying a boat there myself.

Glad you made it in safe, when I get back out that way we will likely cross paths.

Like you I am also a veteran, I served from 99-03, medically retired (navy)

It is funny how life can change so quickly, but it sounds like you are on the right track.
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Old 15-05-2016, 22:28   #6
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Re: Unintentional Sailor

Sounds like you are off to a great start. You have a boat, you're in one of the greatest cruising areas of the world, and the sailing season is just starting.

Welcome aboard!
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Old 15-05-2016, 22:35   #7
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Re: Unintentional Sailor

Some trips you learn nothing.

On this trip you learned a great deal very quickly.

Keep on keeping on.
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Old 15-05-2016, 23:40   #8
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Re: Unintentional Sailor

All divorces are nasty, welcome to the club. Sometimes it's not easy to make good decisions while going thru a divorce. I also was in the USN but in a different century. Read about boat handling while you're recovering. Maybe some sailing lessons. I learned as a kid. Heavy wood boat, gaff rigged, no motor. It can be done, you just have to plan well.
Make sure you have insurance. Especially now.
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Old 16-05-2016, 09:13   #9
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Re: Unintentional Sailor

Geostone, first thank you for your service. You seem to be a person who takes the bull by the horns and does what it takes. Good for you. You will learn to sail if that's what you want. That is actually the easy part of living aboard. Start asking around about preparing your boat for cold weather living.

I hope the VA comes through for you soon. We should honor the men and women who serve in the military and do everything we can for our vets to help them get re-established when they come home.


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Old 16-05-2016, 09:27   #10
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Re: Unintentional Sailor

Thank you all for the kind and encouraging words. They mean a great deal.

Since I am retired I seem to have plenty of time on my hands to learn to sail. I learn best by watching youtube it seems.... I will soon work up the nerve to motor out and raise the sails for the first time, with the help of some experienced people around me. It honestly doesn't seem that hard, just like flying on water..... My biggest problem is getting over the fear of the unknown, but once I get past that fear- lookout sound, I'm coming exploring...

And yes, I have more insurance than I need..... LOL
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Old 16-05-2016, 09:49   #11
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Re: Unintentional Sailor

George,

Welcome to the boating world. I hope your lot in life continues to improve as you settle into your boat and new life. I learned a lot of my sailing and boating skills the same way you did on your trip. Don't pay attention to the haters, they will always be there. Most boaters are very generous with their knowledge and time, and many will help you to gain skills that you don't currently have.

Get your outboard checked out so that it doesn't keep stalling on you. You know they only stall in very important situations, lol. I wish you the best of luck and I thank you for your service in protecting our freedom.

Cheers, Bill
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Old 16-05-2016, 10:36   #12
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Re: Unintentional Sailor

Thanks Bill,

Almost everyone I gave met so far has been amazingly gracious. I have yet to meet anyone in person who has not offered their help or advice.

The engine is the first thing on my list of things to do. I've never worked on an outboard but the guy that lives on the boat across from me is a marine mechanic, and yep, one of the people who has offered their help. After that comes my battery. It wont charge with the engine running.....
I took the first month just to try and get used to living in such a small space..... Now its time to start working the list and learning to sail.....

Geostone
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Old 16-05-2016, 14:13   #13
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Re: Unintentional Sailor

incredible story geostone! maybe u can get someone to go sailing with u and show u the ropes!
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Old 16-05-2016, 14:57   #14
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Re: Unintentional Sailor

Quote:
Originally Posted by Geostone View Post
Thank you all for the kind and encouraging words. They mean a great deal.

Since I am retired I seem to have plenty of time on my hands to learn to sail. I learn best by watching youtube it seems.... I will soon work up the nerve to motor out and raise the sails for the first time, with the help of some experienced people around me. It honestly doesn't seem that hard, just like flying on water..... My biggest problem is getting over the fear of the unknown, but once I get past that fear- lookout sound, I'm coming exploring...

And yes, I have more insurance than I need..... LOL
FEAR IS THE MIND KILLER!
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Old 16-05-2016, 15:01   #15
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Re: Unintentional Sailor

The good news is that every day is really "the unknown" . You are simply practiced at facing the current unknown so you are comfortable not knowing! You will get up to speed quickly. Good for you for sticking with your present situation and making the most of it. Perhaps we will see you "out there" one day.
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