Friday, 7 November 2014

Full-time skippering

I’m often asked what I do for a living.  No one is willing to let me be retired at 45 so I have to come up with another job description.  Usually I tell them I’m the skipper of our sailboat. Since we only sail for 6 months of the year, that only buys me 6 months of time in their eyes.  What do I do the rest of the time?


My next 6 months look like this:

1.  Selling our old boat:  Managing adds on the web; responding to inquiries, showing the boat to prospective buyers, etc.

2.  Offloading the boat for winter:  sails, cushions, lines, blocks and tackles, boom break, cleaning products, spare parts, tarps, kitchen equipment, small electronics, foul weather gear, etc.

3.  Winterinzing the boat: pulling Spray out of the water, cleaning the bottom and preparing the motor for a long winter’s nap. (Note: our boat is 40 minutes from home, so trips back and forth also take up a lot of time…)

4.  Washing and drying sails, lines, and foul weather gear and storing everything in the basement, the attic, and any available floor space in the corners of rooms.

5.  Contacting the boat dealer and sailmakers to calculate the size and price of a Code D headsail for Mareda, and getting price estimates for a 3rd reef point in the mainsail (which also involves studying how to rig the boom for a 3rd reef.)

6.  Looking for a good used dinghy and outboard motor for Mareda.

7.  Reviewing new insurance policies and guarantees.

8.  Studying the specs of the new electronics on Mareda:  what electronic charts are delivered with the B&G Zeus Multifunction GPS?  Can we use the same charts on a PC with a chartplotter program?

9.  Do we really need the wifi module that will allow us to control the GPS from inside the boat?  If so, what tablet would be best  – Apple or Android? 

10.  Mareda’s sound system is entirely radio or MP3 based.  Need to convert favourite CDs to MP3 format.

11.  Buy new folding bikes!  But which ones are best for storage, exposure to salt water, comfortable for long outings, etc.?

12.  Buy new galley equipment: plates, glasses, utensils, bowls, etc.

13. Planning next year’s adventures !  This one takes months but is the most fun. Since we will have a 2 year all-inclusive guarantee, we want to stay near France at least for the first year and shakedown everything that is susceptible to wear and tear.  Since we have never skippered a swing keel boat, we will take advantage of the exceptional sailing zone for swing or lifting keel boats presented by Brittany, the Scilly Islands, the south coast of England, and the Channel Islands.  Planning involves, inter alia, deciding exactly where to go, when to go, what to see and do once there, routing taking into account nautical or meteorological conditions (e.g., is it best to sail East to West or West to East ?), studying mooring and beaching techniques with a swing keel, listing special equipment needs (aft anchor for beaching?), making sure we have all the electronic and paper charts we need, buying new nautical guides for areas where we have not sailed before.

14.  Vacation time !  Yes, scoff if you will, even retirees need a vacation from time to time.  For us, this involves visiting family (Florida, Paris) and heading someplace warm and sunny for several weeks.  It also means doing all those home repairs that have been building up in a home that is abandoned for 6 months of the year.  Hey … that’s another thing to add to our to-do list:  investigate pros and cons of renting out the house for the summer.

Now I don’t expect any “poor you” messages to come flowing in.  I simply hope I’ve convinced you that I’m far from bored when we’re not on the boat, and that our cruising life requires near full-time engagement.  We take it slowly when we can, doing a few jobs each day, and mix it all in with some of our other favourite pastimes (running, biking, reading) and hanging out with friends…where, admittedly, we almost always talk about boats !  It’s a beautiful life, 12 months per year.

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