Follow the Horizon http://www.followthehorizon.com Follow your Dreams. Thu, 17 Apr 2014 20:03:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Moving to Florida http://www.followthehorizon.com/moving-to-florida/ http://www.followthehorizon.com/moving-to-florida/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 20:03:02 +0000 http://www.followthehorizon.com/?p=1745 As of today, Dan has officially accepted an offer as an […]

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Sailboat under a Blue Sky

This doesn’t seem so far fetched anymore.

As of today, Dan has officially accepted an offer as an IT Director in Southwest Florida. We are extremely excited and more than a little stressed, because his start date is only 3 1/2 weeks from now! In the next 2 weeks, we will be attempting to pack (again) all of the contents in our small house and drive the 18 hours to get to Indiantown Marina, where Horizon (our Irwin 37) currently sits. We officially closed on her yesterday and it’s not a minute too soon, since we plan on moving directly onto her when we get to Florida.

In the meantime, our heads are spinning from the amount of work to do here in such a short time. First on the list is putting in our 2 weeks notice and finally telling our coworkers about our plans. Welcome to any of you reading this! It’s hard to keep a secret this big for so long and I know some people knew about the general plan, but Dan and I decided at the beginning that we would try to avoid talking about our plans at work. Frankly, we weren’t sure how long it would take to get to this point and we wanted to have the potential for raises and promotions if we chose to stay longer or the dream never became a reality.

Our second major task is getting all of our houses rented and hiring a property management company. Luckily, we had already started the footwork on finding a good company, but we have yet to meet with them in person and go over specifics of how our relationship will work. When we first started in the World of Rent, we had no idea how much work goes into placing new tenants. We’re hoping to make a choice by the end of this weekend and get leases signed quickly so we have time to do all of our packing.

Oh the packing… in my opinion this is the most daunting task of all. In just two weeks, I’m hoping to sort through everything in our house to determine what is staying and what is going. Let’s just say, most of it is staying. Since we are planning to move directly onto our boat, we will be trying to sell as much of our furniture and other large items as possible. If its not sold by the end of next weekend, come pick it up! We aren’t intending to rent a large moving truck, only a 5×8 U-haul trailer to hitch onto our Jeep, so there isn’t a lot of room for junk.

I have a feeling that we’ll be in shock for the next month or two as we fly around in a whirlwind, but hopefully we’ll find ourselves in the right place in the end. Check out our new What’s Next page for our basic plans until cast-off.

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Introducing Horizon: Our Irwin 37 http://www.followthehorizon.com/introducing-horizon-irwin-37/ http://www.followthehorizon.com/introducing-horizon-irwin-37/#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 14:17:49 +0000 http://www.followthehorizon.com/?p=1695 Let me start by saying that I never expected our 100th […]

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Horizon under sailLet me start by saying that I never expected our 100th post to include the introduction of our boat. When we first started almost three years ago, we didn’t really know where to begin. We Learned to Sail the Hard Way and then decided it would be better to just take some lessons. Dan got certified as a Dive Master then Instructor, and we also learned that it’s better to just pretend to be a Rescue Victim. The Search was on for a boat this year but some days it felt like we might never get to this point, especially when we received the call from our broker that the Cabot 36 had sold. With a little luck and a lot of prayer, we’ve made it to the next stage of our journey.

We spent nearly 8 hours in the boatyard this last Saturday looking at boat after boat, but none of them felt like home. That is until we looked at the last one on our list: the Irwin 37 center cockpit. To be completely honest, we had all but written off this boat during our search. Generally, they are known for being a mid-range quality production boat from the 70s and 80s and frankly didn’t have the best online reputation. When our broker mentioned that he had one he would like us to look at, Dan and I basically just did a bit of an eye-roll and shrug “might as well look at it”. Little did we know.

Let me stop here to say that we had a fantastic experience with the broker we used but by request have not listed his name, since he would like to go cruising eventually as well and would prefer not to be known as the “broker guy”. He was extremely professional, very easy to get a hold of, and has a true passion to help people get into boats that they are going to love. His listings are some of the most thorough that we have seen throughout the country. If you are looking for a boat or thinking of selling yours in South Florida,  just shoot us an email through the Contact Us page and we would be happy to recommend him.

As the broker described Tortuga (current name until we can close the deal), the one word he kept using was anomaly. This boat may be nearly 40 years old, but every major system on the boat had been completely redone in the last 3-4 years. New rigging, new masts (its ketch-rigged), new staysail (make that cutter-ketch), brand new full suite of sails, top-of-the-line electronics, new beefy windlass, dodger and bimini, and the list goes on. Over $100k of upgrades and renovations really sweetens the honeypot when our total budget for boat and outfit is only $50k.

What’s the ketch you ask? Okay that was bad. Well, the person who did all of these upgrades (the owner of a major sail maker company we found out later) decided after pouring in all of the money that he actually wanted a bigger boat. So he dumped it before the interior was completely spruced up. Some of the cabinets need to be rehung, the headliner needs old holes filled and painted, the wiring needs to be organized, and some of the plumbing needs help. Luckily, everything that needs to be done are fairly easy and cheap fixes but they currently make the interior somewhat less than desirable to most buyers, especially when compared to what you expect to find after seeing the immaculate exterior. Bad news for the seller, great news for us.

Some people might be wondering right now what happened to our Blue Water Boat criteria? Well, the fact of the matter is, we’ve come to realize like so many others that every boat is a compromise. After seeing what types of boats were available in our price-range we quickly came to the conclusion that the heavily built offshore cruisers just were not going to work for our family. With our short to mid-range plans being to cruise the Bahamas and Caribbean, we believe the Irwin will be a safe and functional home for the three of us. If in the future we decide to head offshore, we will meet that challenge head-on as we always do.

We hope you will continue to Follow the Horizon with us as we continue into the next exciting stage of our journey.

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Wanted: Sailboat in South Florida http://www.followthehorizon.com/wanted-sailboat-south-florida/ http://www.followthehorizon.com/wanted-sailboat-south-florida/#comments Mon, 24 Mar 2014 19:33:05 +0000 http://www.followthehorizon.com/?p=1681 I should stay away from gambling. In our last post on T […]

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Cabot 36 from mast top

So long Cabot 36! Maybe we will find one of your sisters to be ours!

I should stay away from gambling. In our last post on Thursday, I ended by stating that we thought 2 weeks (between then and visiting the boat we intended to buy) should be a pretty safe bet. Not 6 hours later, Dan received a phone call from the broker. A buyer walked in and bought that baby right out from underneath of us, as is/where is. Needless to say, that seriously took some wind out of our sails.

So here we are, heading to Southwest Florida in a week and a half and we’d really like to find a boat while we’re there. I’ve been scouring the internet for the last 4 days trying to find anything and everything that might be worth looking at. Call me optimistic, but I figure we might as well try since we’ll already be in the right place.

While I’m trying to find every possible listing online, I’d like to ask that if you or anyone who know might have a decent lead for us (in South Florida or otherwise) in the less than $50,000 range, please send it along! We would be eternally grateful!

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The Search is On http://www.followthehorizon.com/search/ http://www.followthehorizon.com/search/#comments Thu, 20 Mar 2014 15:50:05 +0000 http://www.followthehorizon.com/?p=1674 The search for our boat and new family home has officia […]

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Oceanis 38 at Strictly Sail

This Beneteau didn’t quite make the price cut.

The search for our boat and new family home has officially begun! In fact, we started looking online in earnest in late February. It wasn’t until we closed on our final rental property this Tuesday that we felt comfortable about possibly shelling out a large portion of our savings for a boat.  Now that we are preparing the house for rental status, we have a firm grasp on our financial situation and can go into negotiations with confidence.

To start our search, I began with a list of potential blue-water boats that I had created over a year ago and discussed in my post Blue Water Boats. I essentially used the boat list provided from Mahina Expeditions and narrowed that down substantially based on our budget restrictions and preferred layout choices. I used this updated list to search every online source I could think of including Craigslist.com, Sailboatlistings.com, and Yachtworld.com primarily.

Trust me when I say that the search process takes hours, even with a limited list of boats. Try typing in “Morgan 38″ into yachtworld and you’ll see what I mean. Our next step was to narrow down these potential boats by sifting out those that looked in decent condition and had as much updated gear as possible. I created a spreadsheet of “required” vs “optional” gear including estimated costs to help us evaluate each boat objectively, and get a general idea of how much each boat would cost us overall.

Next, we started calling brokers and were honestly shocked at how unresponsive most of them were. More than one took several days to respond to our questions and a few never responded at all. You would think that a person on commission would be a little more excited about someone trying to buy their boat, but I guess maybe our price range doesn’t quite arouse their interest like a $200,000 sale. In any case, for anyone out there trying to sell a lower end boat, be choosey about your broker because you might have missed out on a sale due to their inaction.

In our first round of searching and after (finally) hearing back from brokers, we found a few good choices and 1 that is a true stand-out in our opinion. Unfortunately, that boat is halfway across the country; I guess that’s the downside to living in Illinois while trying to find a blue-water ready boat. We are convinced enough of its potential that we have officially made arrangements to see the boat and are hoping to get some good results. It’s nerve-wracking to spend $1,000 on flights and hotel to go visit a boat we’ve never seen and can’t be absolutely sure will still be available when we get there. At this point we are just praying that 2 weeks is a safe bet.

Keep your fingers crossed for us that everything goes well and I’m sure we’ll be posting more on this topic soon!

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The Cold Prevails http://www.followthehorizon.com/cold-prevails/ http://www.followthehorizon.com/cold-prevails/#comments Fri, 14 Mar 2014 17:10:10 +0000 http://www.followthehorizon.com/?p=1664 Just in case we thought Spring had finally arrived, Win […]

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Just in case we thought Spring had finally arrived, Winter decided to set us straight. Forcefully.

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Forest of Snow

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To view the rest of our flickr albums visit flickr.com/followthehorizon.

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Review: Mahina Expeditions Seminar http://www.followthehorizon.com/review-mahina-expeditions-seminar/ http://www.followthehorizon.com/review-mahina-expeditions-seminar/#comments Thu, 27 Feb 2014 15:05:37 +0000 http://www.followthehorizon.com/?p=1651   For the last couple of years, Dan and I had been […]

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Sunrise on Lake Michigan

We got to the seminar a little earlier than we planned…

 

For the last couple of years, Dan and I had been planning to attend a Mahina Expeditions Offshore Cruising Seminar at Strictly Sail Chicago. We believed that the information we would obtain would be exceptionally helpful to us in preparing for our time cruising, however we wanted to wait until the year that we intended to start so that the information would stay as fresh in our minds as possible. This year we finally decided to pony up our $300, arrange for a babysitter, and spend the whole day in the company of John and Amanda Neal.

So, was it worth the price? I’d say “yes” with a few caveats. First of all, the seminar was extremely well done. The Neals have had more experience on the water than most couples in the world and the do an excellent job of imparting their knowledge to others. On the flip side, one day is not enough…period. We knew that it would be a lot of information in a short amount of time, but by the end of the day I literally left with a headache, feeling partially brain dead. For anyone who might be slightly (or more than slightly) on the A.D.D. side, this may not be the best way to process the information for you.

Luckily, they’ve written the companion manual (included in the course) to have all of the information and much more so we have been able to reference it and process everything slowly over the last few weeks. They sell the Offshore Cruising Companion on their website www.mahina.com*. I can unequivocally recommend this book, even at the $50 price point. An unbelievable amount of useful information is contained in the book, everything from recommended equipment lists (with specific brands and prices) to how to clear into a country properly to dealing with fears and uncertainty about cruising. I believe that it is one of the best resources available in sheer volume of topics covered, and they’re covered well.

An unexpected benefit of the seminar was the number of field experts we were able to meet and talk with during the breaks throughout the day. John and Amanda were readily available to answer individual questions and their colleague Pete McGonagle was very informative about the current boat market as a broker and fellow cruiser. George Day of Blue Water Sailing, Nigel Calder (highly respected mechanical and diesel engine author), and Paul and Sheryl Shard of the Distant Shores TV show also stopped by to add their expertise.

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We won a West Marine gift card for being the nearest to leaving on our cruise…or maybe just because we were the surprise “youngsters” in the room!

If I were to say one thing about this course, it would be that I wish we wouldn’t have waited so long to take it. Because we have already spent so many hours researching a good portion of the topics ourselves, a lot of the information was no longer new to us. Especially because the manual so thoroughly covers the topics, we could have taken the seminar a year or two ago and then used the manual as review once we actually got closer to “go time”. We recommend the same for others who want to get the highest value from the course.

 *We are not currently affiliated with Mahina Expeditions in any way. We just think their book is worth sharing!

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The Most Magical Place on Earth http://www.followthehorizon.com/magical-place-earth/ http://www.followthehorizon.com/magical-place-earth/#comments Fri, 14 Feb 2014 14:21:13 +0000 http://www.followthehorizon.com/?p=1600 In the midst of all of our recent planning and prepping […]

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In the midst of all of our recent planning and prepping, Dan, Carter and I had the opportunity to go to Disney World with my parents for 4 days in January. Even though we are generally not “big crowd” kind of people, we all had a ton of fun at Disney, especially the little guy. Between 3 straight days of meeting Mickey Mouse, going on safaris, roller coasters, and Carter’s excursion as a member of the Pirates’ League we got the full Disney experience!

Carter looking out of the bus window

He can’t wait to get to the park!

The first night we were in Orlando, we visited Downtown Disney just a short ferry ride from our hotel at the Old Key West Resort.

Downtown Disney at night

Carter and Michele with Lego Woody and Buzz Lightyear

Day 1: Epcot. Still the least fun for little kids, regardless of Disney marketing promising otherwise. The wildlife was certainly friendly enough though!

Epcot golf ball over the lake

Female Mallard Stare Down Very Close

This duck followed us around for a while looking for food. No fear here!

Dan and Carter in a Great White Shark

The Living Seas area was definitely the best part of the park for kids.

Day 2: Animal Kingdom. We hadn’t been to this park before, but this was the favorite day for Dan and I. Probably because of the more “natural” feel of everything.

The family in front of the Lion King Tree of Life

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Day 3: The Magic Kingdom. You can’t quite beat it for sheer magic factor.

The whole family with Mickey Mouse

We visited Mickey all three days at Disney, but the one at the Magic Kingdom was the best. He really talked and his mouth even moved naturally! Carter was literally freaked out and had to have Dan for backup before he would talk back. You can see he is still giving Mickey the eye: I’m watching you, mouse.

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We took Carter to a special experience called The Pirates League. Above is him pre-pirate, and below you see him as Roger Bloodshot the Fierce.

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Carter in face paint pretending to sleep.

That is one happy pirate.

*Don’t forget to check out our flickr page to see the rest of our Disney pictures.

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Strictly Sail Chicago 2014 http://www.followthehorizon.com/strictly-sail-chicago-2014/ http://www.followthehorizon.com/strictly-sail-chicago-2014/#comments Fri, 31 Jan 2014 14:39:56 +0000 http://www.followthehorizon.com/?p=1624 As part of a much needed vacation from house hunting an […]

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Frozen Lake Michigan at Sunrise

Welcome to Chicago! Looks like those boats will have to be trucked in!

As part of a much needed vacation from house hunting and work, Dan and I spent last weekend at Strictly Sail Chicago. Our 3rd year attending, we were really looking forward to the show as we had saved the more “in-depth” seminars until we would be close to leaving. We figured that we would want the very practical information still fresh in our minds when the time came to actually start cruising. I’m glad we did because the classes we attended this year felt like they were tailor made for us!

View of the main exhibition hall

It took us 2 days to get through all of the booths

Everyone has a different view about cruising, especially those who have been doing it for many years. The more seminars we attend and individuals we talk to, the more we realize there is no “right” way to cruise. While much of the speakers’ experiences were similar, many times they gave contradictory advice! We have quickly learned that we find the best value in listening to people that we respect and adapting their lessons to our own budget, knowledge, and comfort level.  No matter how well a particular tactic has performed for another person, it may be completely useless to us.

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Learning to splice

An unexpected benefit of this year’s show was the networking with other bloggers and editor’s from sailing magazines. In fact, a big thank you to Kevin over at SailFarLiveFree.com for a set of free tickets to the show!  Everyone was extremely friendly and welcoming and we are hoping to be able to work with many of them in the future. Lin Pardey herself introduced us to Herb McCormick, the editor of Cruising World, saying “These guys will certainly make some good pictures, don’t you think?” I couldn’t agree more, Lin!

Carter and Dan sanding a toy boat

Now if we could just get him to stop making this face when we tell him to smile!

Now that the show is over, I can tell that both Dan and I are really starting to feel the excitement build. We’ve been sitting on the tarmac for a long time, but we are finally taxiing towards take-off. And let me tell you, it feels pretty good.

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Dan and Carter on inflatable slide

Mom and Dad weren’t the only ones having fun!

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So Close and Yet So Far: Morgan Out Island 372 Review http://www.followthehorizon.com/morgan-out-island-372-review/ http://www.followthehorizon.com/morgan-out-island-372-review/#comments Fri, 24 Jan 2014 03:20:36 +0000 http://www.followthehorizon.com/?p=1602 With the sale of our house pending and the realization […]

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Morgan Out Island 372

Not exactly her best side.

With the sale of our house pending and the realization that our current savings was adequate for a boat purchase, I decided to start digging through Craigslist and Sailboatlistings.com to explore the for sale by owner boat market. And by digging, I mean a solid 4 hours endlessly scrolling through terrible listings trying to discern which ones were even close to what we were looking for. I mean, come on people, a few pictures of the interior and an actual description would be nice. In the course of this mind-numbing search, I came across what seemed impossible…a Morgan Out Island 372 for sale in Peoria, Illinois. Not only that, but the pictures looked okay and it was listed in our purchase price range at $26,000. I instantly sent the listing to Dan to take a look at and contact the seller.

I’m not going to lie, I was so excited I could hardly sit still. I mean, how perfect could it get? A boat that we would like, in our price range, literally 5 minutes from home? I was starting seeing a Great Lakes route to the Atlantic, a going away party with friends and family that ends with the casting off of lines, the luxury of working on the boat ourselves while still being able to work full time…I have an active imagination. I just knew this had to be the boat for us. We heard back quickly from the seller who provided us with a fairly recent survey that looked decent, another bonus. It was time to see her in person.

Aaand we were severely disappointed. To be fair, it seemed that the bones of the boat were in good shape, no major structural issues and all that. In fact, we really liked the layout and overall set-up of the boat. However, this boat had so many terrible modifications that just made us go “why did you do that!” over and over again. The water heater had been removed and sold, along with the gimbaled stove which had been replaced by a portable cooler. The icebox refrigeration had been sliced and diced to make way for a dorm sized front loader that had to be held shut with a bungy cord. The cabin sole was badly damaged and covered by ugly carpet. One of the settees had been modified into a pull-out bed with a spring support system… effectively eliminating any potential for storage space below. Trust me, I could go on. Not only were there so many cosmetic issues to be dealt with, but there were many safety issues evident as well such as the gooseneck on the mast being replaced with a “custom-designed” piece by a welder friend because it was too difficult to find the actual part. Um yea, not going to go there, thanks though. I guess the search continues.

Want more pictures? Check out the Morgan Out Island 372 photo set on flickr. While you’re there, check out our flickr photostream to see what we’re up to!

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Lovely anchor and rotted bowsprite

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I almost forgot to mention the dogder and bimini with ripping seams and fogged windows.

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If you look closely, you can see the awesome caulk job on the portholes.

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The seller told us “Not to worry, all British engines leak oil!”

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Most of the original teak cabin liners were rotted and covered over by similarly bad choices of wall coverings.

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You can see here the huge icebox…destroyed for a dorm fridge.

 

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To All a Good Night http://www.followthehorizon.com/good-night/ http://www.followthehorizon.com/good-night/#comments Wed, 08 Jan 2014 15:00:05 +0000 http://www.followthehorizon.com/?p=1587 Christmas isn’t about the gifts, it’s about […]

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Christmas isn’t about the gifts, it’s about the people giving them. Knowing that this holiday season could be the last we spend at home with family for a while, we made a particularly strong effort this year to try to get to as many events as we could. Although we weren’t able to get everywhere, we did have a great Christmas with both sides of our family.

This is the first year Carter has had a full understanding of Christmas and man was it fun!

Opening the First Present

Excited Carter

I think he likes it!

Little Snorkel Boy

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Snorkeler at our house, Train Conductor at Grandma’s: major score with the little boy!

Cookie Decorating

 

Christmas cookies

 

This year we also had the opportunity to celebrate New Year’s with some new friends of ours, Daler and Marta. They moved to the US only a few years ago from Tajikistan, but they feel like family after only knowing them for a few months. They were able to join us for Thanksgiving and Christmas at the Penning house and then put on a fabulous party for New Year’s in Tajik style!

Dinner at Daler and Marta\'s

These were just the appetizers!

Party getting started

 

Stephanie at the table

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Marta

 

We hope you had a great holiday with family and friends. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

 

 

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