Friday, October 31, 2003

Offshore Sailing School and the Nauticat 2003 Rally

Richard and Hildy Grossman paid us a visit in the Fall
of 2003
The skyline of Boston behind Scott Free
at our slip in East Boston
My instructor Scott from the Offshore Sailing School in
Charleston, S.C.
On the ICW at our first anchorage 
Shrimp Boats just inside the South Edisto River
Our Hunter 42 Passage - just the
two of us for six days
That's me looking pretty miserable. You can't tell from this
photo how bad the conditions were, except maybe from
my face. 
Joe Moran and Jack Webb at the 2003 Nauticat
Rally in Beaufort, N.C. We spent time with the Morans
during our first few years on the boat and still keep in
touch with the Webbs.
That's Peg Moran on the left
We became friends with Lee and Sherry on "Allesto"
and saw them many times during the next eight years.
They are on either side of Scott

We stayed in our slip in East Boston until early December and then had the boat hauled for the winter. We moved up to Tall Timbers for the season. Earlier in October we had two sailing experiences not on Scott Free.
First Heather signed up for a week long offshore sailing class in Charleston, S.C. A family of four was supposed to round out the class size, but she arrived to find herself the only student. Illness had caused them to cancel at the last minute. So she and Captain Scott (not her Scott) took off for a great week of sailing, after provisioning the boat of course.
Captain Scott was delighted that they'd be sharing the cooking. Classes started right away and there was homework every day and tests too. Written tests and tests of sailing skills, That included working on the engine! Every part had to be memorized and how they all related. For practical skills, for example, she had to captain the boat, doing all the navigation and making all the decisions for 24 hours. It was very hard. Only once did Scott give her a hint - on the ICW at a junction with the river that we knew was a problem with many boats going aground (we heard on the VHF). She steered one way until he couldn't help a reaction and she made a quick correction. That was it though.
The last day was the tough one. We had to get back to Charleston and the conditions were terrible. We had 30 + knot winds and waves from 6-8 feet. That means some of them were much higher. And the wind was on the nose so we pitched up and slammed down for 6 hours. Hunters are not strongly built. We couldn't comfortably stay below. The two of us sat in the cockpit for the whole time in full foul weather gear and tied to the boat with tethers.
Turning the boat sideways to the waves to enter the channel at Charleston was very scary. Scott had me do it so he could spot and time the waves. But once we entered the difference was immense. We had a rule about drinking while underway but Captain Scott grabbed some wine and we both drank from the bottle. He said Heather was the best student he'd ever had. Really he was a great teacher.
Scott flew down to Charleston and was on the dock to meet us. We were late and the 2003 Nauticat Rally was starting that night. We thought it wasn't far and had chosen the sailing school for that reason - the Rally was in Beaufort.
"Which Beaufort?" Captain Scott asked.
"You mean there's two!", we responded.
Oh, yes - we screwed up. A quick check of our registration information proved it was Beaufort, N.C., not Beaufort (Bewfort), S.C. Unfortunately a lot further off. We missed the welcoming cocktail party that night and pulled into our bed and breakfast about 10pm. The rest of the weekend was fantastic though. What a treat for us to meet other Nauticat owners, see other boats and talk about our new obsession.

Friday, September 19, 2003

One of the Best Days

One of the old saws of sailing is that there are two "best days" in a sailor's life; the day you buy the boat and the day you sell it. Well, finally, in this case, we bought our 1990 Nauticat 43 Sloop in Maine September 19, 2003. We say "finally" because it was two years between our first visit and signing the final papers.

We started looking at boats about four years ago. At first only at boat shows and indiscriminately, noting what we liked and didn't. Our first loves for example were Valients and Island Packets. But as our "must have" list solidified, Valients bit the dust - no center berths, a problem with traditional design boats. Three years ago we started visiting used boats. Our first was a lovely Perry designed sloop in Mattapoisett harbor which had been around the world one and a half times. It was in perfect condition and ready to go anywhere. But you had to exit the bed by grabbing a bar and pulling yourself out, feet first - no way. Another boat we loved was a Liberty Center Cockpit 43, but it sold before we were ready to buy.

We were exhausted at the end of a day at the Newport Boat Show when we started looking at a few used boats nearby. "Explorer" was among them. As soon as we came up the stern ladder and saw the captain's seat in front of the wheel, I started to fall in love. Only a few minutes later I entered the main salon, sat, looked out at the view and said to Scott; "I could live on this boat". After seeing the big queen center bed in the stern (with four opening windows AND a hatch), two more staterooms, two heads and a spacious galley, we were sold.

But there were two little problems. We couldn't buy it for at least eighteen more months and it was $29,000 above our top price limit. I was adiment that we needed to sell our home in Brookline before buying a boat - and it wasn't even on the market yet. So we told the broker the situation and asked him to keep in touch. Meanwhile we started looking at other Nauticats. It didn't take us long to realize that the 43' was the only one we were interested in and that there were very few on the market. Most were built as a ketch and "Explorer" was one of the few cutter rigs made. We preferred this arrangement.

So time went by, we put the house up for sale and in January 2003 signed a purchase and sale agreement to close in June. We went back to "Explorer" and made an offer based on waiting until our house sold before buying - six months in the future. We hemmed and hawed on the price and finally settled on $250,000 and agreement to wait until after the house sold to sign.

We had a name for our boat way before we saw her. I told Scott the deed was done and of course he reacted quite negatively, naturally. This would have to be something done together! "What did you have in mind?" "Scott Free" "Oh...perfect!" And in deed it is.
But in June a new problem occurred when they stripped the hull and found bubbles in the gel coat. It needed to dry out before the bottom was painted. Perhaps a few weeks delay on closing turned into three months delay! We'd sold our house, had already rented our home in Vermont for the summer, and were homeless. Even worse, our youngest son Sean, only 18 and just finished high school, had taken a job at the marina for the summer expecting we'd be living on the boat there. Oops! At first we both stayed with friends and then sublet a student apartment blocks from our previous home in Brookline for the three of us. The whole arrangement was complicated by Sean's racing commitment at Community Rowing for the summer nights and weekends. It was a lot of commuting for him.
A difficult time.
But happy endings came in September. Sean, settled at Dartmouth College, took the weekend off to go with us up to Maine and sail our new boat back to Boston. The seller had provided a captain to accompany us and show us the ropes. It was our first overnight sail as well. Lovely weather and a terrific start to our life aboard. Sean took the helm and brought her into our slip at the marina in East Boston. We had a number of friends come over and see us on the boat that fall.

Ted and Karen Martin join us on our new boat