Buying Seamore Pacific

 

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I don’t need to know how the story will end. But more importantly, how does it begin?

It’s this simple approach to selecting a book that also guides me through life’s choices. Do I accept the job? Do I sign up for a spring marathon? Shall we buy this boat? I credit Miss Edmonson, my grade school librarian, for demonstrating this approach to me.   I refer to her as “my school librarian” but obviously she didn’t belong to me. She was however, in charge of every book, every check-out card, and the Dewy Decimal system at the elementary I attended. Her polyester reputation had preceded her so it was with great intrigue, even intimidation, to be allowed into her library. Deeply imbedded is the memory of her demonstrating how to select a book based on its cover or title, mark its place on the shelf with a wooden stick, and then peruse the first few paragraphs for any spark of interest. The finale to her demonstration began with a long pause, where she looked intently into each of our second grade eyes, then asserted this final but serious warning: “Never, ever skip to the last chapter as a means of selecting a library book.”

Instructed in the Edmonson way of making choices, it was easy for me to imagine foggy afternoons and cozy evenings aboard Bobby McGee, a 36 foot Freedom sailboat with two unstayed masts, tied to a dock on Shelter Island. Interested and excited, Captain Chameleon and I followed our broker out to the slip as he recited a list of Bobby McGee’s specifications. She was smaller than we desired and she didn’t offer the list of equipment amenities we had on our list, but Bobby McGee’s charm proposed freedom, possibilities, and connection to a nautical yearning that I carried from deep within. As Captain Chameleon and the broker chatted topside, examining fiberglass and stainless, I chose to get to know her from below, surrounded by her teak and holly sole. Sitting quietly on the portside settee, I sensed a bit of her essence; she was a long way from the Rhode Island boatyard and yachting heritage in which she was founded. Her name, Bobby McGee hinted at the life she had found on the West coast. Despite faded cushions, tattered carpet, and mismatched dishes in the galley, it was unmistakable – I really, really liked her. With the sound and smell of fog rolling in off the Pacific to swallow up another San Diego afternoon, the Captain and I agreed we had just met the boat that would sail us to Mexico…Seamore Pacific.  005cropped-dsc06201.jpg

Purchasing Seamore Pacific was a lesson of letting go in order to let things happen. For years, we had dreamed of buying a catamaran and sailing to Mexico in both luxury and comfort. Subscribing to Sail and Cruising World the shiny advertisements yanked us closer and closer to actually looking for a boat. But even a used catamaran was going to cost more than our house. Instead of backing away, we put blinders on, found a beautiful catamaran, and devised a plan to pay for it. Kept at the San Diego Yacht Club Marina, the cat was showroom perfect. Postponing early retirement, in order to pay for her, seemed incidental if it meant having a boat like her. Working another five years would afford me a galley with a 180 degree view, stainless steel appliances, plush décor, and loads of space for entertaining. The finished product was the homemade spaghetti dinner that I imagined preparing and serving to our guests…by candlelight…on the aft 40 acre deck. It was SO perfect. From start to finish, it was almost everything we wanted. And then, the bottom fell out.

Layer by painful layer, the blinders came off. The haul-out portion of the professional survey revealed aspects about the hull that were unacceptable. I hung on hard, trying to deny the facts but ultimately we had to walk away from completing the purchase. For months I lamented on the spaghetti dinners that wouldn’t be enjoyed, the 180 degree view that wouldn’t be shared, and the perfect sailing that had slipped through our fingers. The Captain, he responded to the disappointment much like a clam does. The disappointment over dreams never coming true and that we were never going to have another  boat….blah, blah, blah…lasted for too many months. But then an article in Latitude 38 about sailing on a shoestring budget disproved my wallowing pity party. We had our health, we had our dreams, and we had the down payment we were going to put towards the Queen Mary.

DSC06370It was through that experience that we decided not to go into debt for a dream.  Once we stopped trying to write the final chapter of our sailing story, the real adventure could begin. Captain Chameleon and I now strive to keep our story simple: we forego material and immaterial things that stand in the way of separating us from the ocean. It was Seamore Pacific that taught us that. She wasn’t the boat we were looking for but she was exactly the boat we needed.

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The Captain and I are forever humbled and grateful for Seamore Pacific. So it is with immense emotion that we announce that as of this afternoon, she will be helping another sailor write their story. Last year, on a perfect crossing from the Baja to mainland Mexico, the Captain and I outlined a new chapter…eventually sell Seamore Pacific and buy a trawler that we can live more fulltime on and explore the Great Loop with.

Letting something go that I love is difficult and yet I know that to move onto the next chapter, means turning the page.

Bon Voyage. And, thank you to our sweet Seamore Pacific.

Yours Truly,

Seamore Nautical Spirits

 

Growing up in the rural community of Marshfield, Missouri besides reading, I listened intently to the lyrics, chords, and melodies of these songs. It was my window to the sea..

 

What I take with me from Seamore Pacific:

  1. When the auto pilot failed in strong following seas…and I overcame my fear and was able to help the Captain by steering through high swells.
  2. Our night crossings.  Our tradition became that we both stayed in the cockpit instead of one going below.  One would sleep wrapped in the brown comforter while the other kept watch.
  3. Getting hit in the head by a squid as we were trying to find the inlet into Bahia Santa Maria on a blowing dark night…. my patience had already run very, very thin.
  4. A whale swimming along side and rolling over to “wink” at us…off Los Coronado’s Islands.
  5. Cleaning out the lockers, oiling the teak, sewing slip covers, picking out new galley ware, and making her proud!
  6. Making spaghetti, homemade pizza, and margaritas for friends.  Sharing time with friends in our comfortable (little) space.
  7. Meeting new friends.
  8. Rolling and pitching all through the night, at anchor…swearing I was going to sell her the first moment we came to a marina.  Only to get over it and tell her how much I loved her.
  9. Jumping over board into turquoise waters off Bahia Conception.
  10. Falling asleep to lapping waves, clanking lines, and the bark of seals.
  11. Exploring new places. Dreaming of future places. Tossing a message in a bottle over board….wondering when it will be found.

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A foggy morning at the marina.

A foggy morning at the marina.

Ha Ha Burgee

Ha Ha Burgee

 

 

La Paz

La Paz

Ruby waiting for Greg

Sun is rising as we leave Bahia Los Frailes

Sun is rising as we leave Bahia Los Frailes

Feliz NavidadDSC00970Leaving Puerto Escondido

Hidden Harbor

Hidden Harbor

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Living The Dream: A Cheap Motel Tradition

1516After two wonderful weeks of visiting my family in Missouri, it was time to say our goodbyes, squeeze our stuff and Francis into our Honda Civic then quickly slam shut the doors, else have everything spring forth onto the garage floor.  Captain Chameleon and I travel relatively light.  Francis on the other hand, could use a U Haul.  His carrier, travel size litter box,  scratching post, window perch;  overnight bag; basket that holds stuffed animals Momma Kitty, Rosebud, Reindeer, Aardvark, Ghost, and Badger;  three fleece blankets;  and a  cosmetic bag containing hair twisties and trinkets for him to plunder through qualifies him as high maintenance.  Adopted at 2 days old without a mother cat and siblings, he has written his own rules and created his own traditions.  But that is another story.  1510

Approximately 1200 miles from Springfield, Missouri to Phoenix, Arizona we make it a two day trip, staying a night in Tucumcari, New Mexico.  That tradition started 11 years ago when we ran out of energy on our move from Florida to Arizona, by way of Springfield, Missouri.  The memory is as vivid as if it happened yesterday.  In a U- Haul without AC or acceptable acceleration up the hills, Captain Chameleon reached his dehydration limit at Tucumcari.  Hot enough to cause the coke cans to explode; he looked pitiful climbing out of the cab of the truck.  Following in my VW Beetle, I and the girls (two Siamese cats) arrived at Tucumcari in far better shape.  That is how we came about the tradition of staying in Tucumcari.  Over the years, the vigilance for bed bugs, changes in management and cost of overnight accommodations have kept us open to finding the cleanest hotel for the least amount of money.  Our list of needs is short: no bedbugs, clean sheets and bathroom, ice machine, and cable TV.  Not ever having cable at home, an evening with cable  is crazy entertainment.  Simple and enduring, the other half of the tradition is a Rum and Coke that Captain Chameleon mixes up in a tiny flimsy plastic hotel cup.  Paired with a party napkin brought from home, it’s what we call, “Living the Dream.”  Traveling on a slim budget need not be a downer in spirit.  Limiting what we spend on lodging makes some hotel stays an adventure.  Looking back in time, it is the reason we felt like locals, staying at the Rain Tree Inn instead of the Hilton, on St. Johns, USVI, and why we passed up a $100/night hotel along the Pacific Coast Highway, just south of San Francisco, only to stumble onto a Hostel in a Lighthouse (Point Montara http://www.norcalhostels.org/montara/photos ) overlooking the Pacific-$36/night.   Our cheap digs on Cape Cod…another fun story. Silly and simple, our traditions connect us to ‘living the dream’, every single day.  Francis’ traditions?  Well, he seems to think he needs to stay at a Hilton.

Just a little side note: the U-Haul Captain Chameleon drove from Florida to Arizona without AC, broke down just one mile from our new house.  107 degrees, a long day of driving, and 7 pm at night, we were not amused, especially after waiting 2 hours for a tow truck to cart the U- haul, not to our home, but to the U-Haul Dealer.  U-Haul wanted us to off load the broken down truck and reload to a new truck for a 2 mile trip.  Captain Chameleon in his usual polite way, helped them see the benefit of excellent customer service.  In the end, U-Haul refunded the cost of the entire rental.

Francis and his playmates

Francis and his playmates

Old building.  Northview, Missouri

Old building. Northview, Missouri

Northview, Missouri

Northview, Missouri

Fading

Fading

Tin Cup: Once Runneth Over

Tin Cup: Once Runneth Over

Traveling down Mimosa Lane.

Traveling down Mimosa Lane.

Land Sailing

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Deep in the heart of the Ozark mountains, nautical spirits abound.  Eager to visit family, despite swearing off another winter in Missouri, we aimlessly swapped sand encrusted flip-flops and faded shorts for barely used, old boots and coats to go land sailing.  Arriving just ahead of a winter storm, our trip to Missouri is somewhat like foreign travel. Two sun rats with stocking caps pulled down over the ears, we are in vacation mode.  Soaking up warm Midwest hospitality, sleeping under an electric blanket, indulging in country food, watching birds feed, and reminiscing about days gone by.  Reminiscing and milling about my parent’s house, items with a connection to the sea are popping out, claiming my attention in a new way.

Mileposts mapping my childhood, select pictures, photos, and stories that I grew up with were familiar to the point of going unnoticed.  This week, I re-discovered them: plaster of paris busts of sailors that once hung in my grandmother’s home; watercolors by my father; and concrete pelicans my grandmother gave my mother as a souvenir from Florida.  My grandparents were so attached to their farm, that I never noticed or considered they might like the ocean.

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Lighthouse 2

Pelicans

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Aside from visiting family, I was also excited to see my kitty, Francis.  A desert kitty, he has thrived at winter camp.  Not so sure my parents can say the same thing.  He is quite the handful.  We will be taking him back home and keep our fingers crossed that time has helped him mature into a boat kitty.

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Black and White Red bird

Close up of birds

Happy Valentines Day

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Hello From Turtle Bay!

Wow.  What a ride to Turtle Bay.  Arrived yesterday to a beautiful harbor needing a shower and soft dry place to sleep.  The camaraderie with the Baja Ha Ha XX fleet has been utterly amazing.  Every morning we call in our GPS position, giving us the assurance that someone knows where we are (the open ocean is bigger than I imagined).  Most boats have arrived now to Turtle Bay and between having a beach party at noon, we are going over the boat, making water, and getting ready for leg two tomorrow morning.  Foremost, we are watching the weather and a hurricane that is forming south of us.  After sailing in 25 knots, I’m not keen on sailing in 50 knot winds!  The fleet will stay put in Turtle Bay until the threat passes over. I’m sitting at a the Veracruz, a little place on a hill to use their internet.  It’s very sketchy so this post is without many edits and no pictures.  Take my word…it’s a beautiful view looking out at the harbor with 150 sailboats, blue water, and brown mountains.

Monday:  Left San Diego in a cold drizzle.

Tuesday:  Breezy and sunny.  A whale come up to the boat!!  We watched her go from several hundred yards, right up along side Seamore Pacific and then spouted as she past the stern.  Capt. Chameleon estimated she was 50 feet off our starboard but I’d say more like 30 feet.  None the less, we were paralyzed in excited, anticipation, and disbelief.  I had the camera but couldn’t take my eyes off of the whole experience.  She was graceful, beautiful, and obviously interested in our presence.  Afterwards, Capt. Chameleon and I looked at each other and high fived.  He said he was ready to tack the sails in a heartbeat if she breeched or bumped the boat; not to imply she would mean to but we didn’t want to take chances.  Wow.

Wednesday:  To avoid sailing past rocky islands at night with winds that would require lots of tacking, we headed more offshore.  Daybreak came and for the first time, sadness and loneliness set in.  There was not another soul in sight.  The seas were rougher than I’d every experienced and winds blowing 15-20 knots with gust of 25 knots.  All I could think of was my family and how very much I love them.  It doesn’t take a rocky ride in the Pacific for me to realize that, but maybe it’s the taking it for granted in every day ordinary life where a cell phone or email is just a palm away.

We endured the day getting closer as a team because we were presented with one trial after another.  We reefed first the Mizzen and then needed to reef the Main.  Seamore Pacific was comfortable despite the rolling.  Whatever we had failed to properly secure within the cabin was tossed around like a Frisbee.   Because we are a two man crew, both of us stayed in the cockpit (harnessed) to back-up the watchman, and who ever wasn’t at the helm, had the fun of going up and down the companion way and into the salon to the navigation station, aboard a bucking bronco ride.  Ruby was secured in her kennel and did great.

More teamwork at hand when our Main sail reef line came apart, requiring us to drop the sail.   But, the sail wouldn’t drop completely into the lazy jack because of the winds, and after unsuccessfully getting the entire sail back into the lazy jack we left it.  Doing anything more would be to unsafe.  We chose the risk of ripping the sail to shreds versus harm to the crew.  We were grateful to find, once we got to Turtle Bay that the sail is fine and the reef line is now fixed.

Teamwork again when the auto pilot failed, requiring us to manually steer through the night. The wind was down to 15 knots but the waves were still kicked up.  We were sailing down wind fighting against uncontrolled gibing.  I was petrified steering through rough seas, but I had no choice, Captain Chameleon couldn’t do it for 36 hours.  By this time we had both going on little sleep and it came down to I had to get over my fear.  So after a little cry, I put my “big girl pants on” and Capt. Chameleon placed his hand next to my hand and we steered first together and then after a bit, I took over.

Thursday: We could see land!  We sailed into Turtle Bay and closed out the day with a hot shower, delicious dinner, and prayer of thanksgiving.  It felt so good to get the dreadlocks (I would have kept them if they didn’t look like an Osprey nest versus dreadlocks) out and sleep stretched out in a warm, dry bed.

Friday:  Listened to the morning Ha Ha net on the VHF and chucked when another boat asked for help getting dreadlocks out.

Until next time….

Surprise! It’s Not Miami Vice.

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Sailing to distant islands isn’t just about sailing.  Instead it is about reaching compromise, preparing for if the boat takes on water, and sleeping seals.  Was I ever clueless when twenty plus years ago I dreamed a fabulous notion to live on a boat and sail hither and fro.  Fortunately after the notion struck me, I met Captain Chameleon.  He successfully introduced me to the real world of sailing and living aboard.  And frankly, it isn’t always for sissies.  Or, impatient folks, such as myself.

Scaling back on our excess of material possessions, I’ve been reminded this week of a time that I should be trying to forget.  It was what I wore the first time on Capt. Chameleon’s sailboat.  Being an avid fan of Miami Vice and new to the Miami area,  the first thing I did after receiving an invitation to join him for dinner on his boat, was an emergency trip to Dadeland Mall. I was fortunate to encounter a sales lady possessing the same appreciation for Miami Vice  and who was in the ‘know’ of proper boating attire.  Capt. Chameleon’s eyes must have surely wanted to pop out of his skull when he saw me.   But, he was too kind to show it and didn’t bat an eye to my Miami Vice fashion disaster.

Long gone are the days of high fashion on the high seas.  Storage on Seamore Pacific is a premium and I now understand the importance of having tools, spare parts, thru-hull plugs, and Chanel on board.  Yes, Chanel.  I’m content to be limited on clothing, because when my olfactory sensors register the scent of Chanel, I’ll feel as though I’m dressed to the nines.

The next part comes with a Parental Advisory (Mom & Dad- just skip over this part).  With installing the water maker this week, I gained new appreciation for thru-hulls and what to do if one fails while out at sea.  It boggles my mind that a boat contains holes in the hull.  Holes (thru-hulls) allow for the depth sounder, water intake, boat speed, etc.  In the past, the thought of a thru-hull failing was a fleeting thought   Now it is about being prepared.  There is peace of mind knowing that ‘sailing’ this week included preparing for the what-ifs.  We now have a wooden plug secured to each of the five thru-hulls so that in the unfortunate event one fails, allowing sea water to come rushing in,  I would be able to calmly and nonchalantly locate the plug and shove it into the gaping hole.  Holding it for dear life.

Moving onto more pleasant thoughts, it was a bit of a novelty to step off the boat and come across a seal sleeping on the dock, two finger piers down.  The bigger novelty was talking to the lady (skipper) whose boat was in snoring distance from the seal. She described what it was like to go to sleep in her berth along side a seal, separated only by fiberglass.  “Eerie,” was how she described it.  Single and elderly, she exudes having a life enriched by adventures far and near.  I can’t be happier than when I run into her on the dock and we exchange hellos and what’s on the to-do list.  I truly hope that sometime in the next few weeks, perhaps over a cup of coffee, to learn more about her journeys at sea.

A foggy morning at the marina.

A foggy morning at the marina.

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