Category Archives: Sailing

In 2010, Stephanie and I moved aboard a 37 foot sailboat (the s/v Megatron) and lived aboard for two years. It was an amazing experience, we learned a lot, and maybe we’ll do it again some day!

We made it!

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We were without internet access for the first couple of days after launch, so I did my best to document our progress on twitter and flickr. I’ll give you the executive summary now: it is awesome. So awesome I can hardly believe it. It’s even better than I anticipated, and I anticipated a lot of awesome.

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After purchasing a CO detector, we spent our first night aboard on Friday. My dad and stepmom visited, and they brought us champagne, and we toasted to an exciting new chapter. Awesome! The furnace kept us toasty warm inside the boat while the outside temperature dipped as low as eighteen degrees with a 25 knot wind.

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Yesterday we did lots more shopping; spare parts, hoses, ropes, clips, wrenches, shackles, clamps, and some normal things, like shampoo, soap, food. We’ve tried EVERY DAY to buy a dinghy, so far without luck. We will find one, I’m sure of it. And it will be great. Spacious, lightweight, big capacity, fast, fun, folds up to fit in a pocket, the whole deal. It will be our main method of exploring new harbors, so it needs to be great. Yesterday night my mom, stepdad, and three of our dear friends visited for dinner. That means we had SEVEN people eating dinner comfortably (well, *I* thought it was comfortable) in our living room. Rad.

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Last night it was hardly cold at all, only 25 or so, with hardly any wind. We were toasty warm, and woke up to another idyllic morning. My sister visited for breakfast and a nap after an overnight flight, and Steph made scones in our little propane oven. They were indescribably good, even moreso done in our floating kitchen (I mean, “galley”. It’s called a galley now.)

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Then Steph and I bent on the sails (that’s a nautical term. It means “attached the sails to the boat”). After two hours wrestling one onto the boom, we realized it was the genoa and had to start from scratch. Even we know that the genoa goes on the front; once we realized which sail was which (they’re devilishly hard to recognize in their little bags, especially when the bags’ labels are reversed) it took only an hour to attach both. Protip: the genoa is heavy! It was no match for our combined strength and cunning, though, and after a brief but exciting time with the sail up and drawing, we furled it in textbook style.

So in short, everything that could possibly be going well is going well. We finished today’s big projects:

  • Figure out how to attach the sails to the boat
  • Set up the internet (for reference, it’s a Verizon 3g data card hooked up to a Cradlepoint MBR-1000 with a DC adapter cord. The router draws 1.5 amps, and to ease the pain of a 5GB monthly cap, we will probably piggyback a Pepwave Surf Mini onto the Cradlepoint so that we can use WiFi where it is available, only falling back to the 3g where there is no WiFi available.)

And most importantly, we’re having a BLAST. Even Euonym likes it!

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Splash

2,022 miles after we left Boulder, we arrived at Marina bay yesterday morning three minutes before Megatron went in the water (NB. still no resolution on “the Megatron” vs. “Megatron”). I have a video of the blissfully anticlimactic launch, with the travelift whirring away.

Steph and I jumped aboard for the ride over to “B Dock”, which will be our home for the next few days.  Soon the surveyor and the previous owner arrived, and we were able to complete the survey begun last month by running the engine in the water, checking the water pumps, and noting that there were no visible leaks.  Awesome!

After they left, we set about unpacking the car.  Steph and I were shocked to realize that everything that was in the car fit inside the boat pretty comfortably.  We may yet realize that there is nowhere to store all of it, but so far we have at least been able to cram all of our boxes belowdecks.  We also tested our new heater, and found it to work well although it emits a foul odor (“Ah, that new heater smell,” noted Peter, the surveyor).

The smell of the heater and nervousness about carbon monoxide poisoning combined to send us back to my mom and stepdad’s house in Lexington for the night.  There, instead of worrying about dying in our sleep, we instead worried about our unattended boat sinking at the dock.  I twittered our biggest current dilemma (“How on earth can we christen this boat?  If we smash a bottle of champagne over the bow, we will get broken glass everywhere and probably break a host of environmental regulations.  If we pour a glass of champagne over the bow, we will feel like hopeless sissies.”) in the hope of new input, and we fell asleep.

On The Road

Erie, PA is 1450 miles from where we began our journey two mornings ago, but still 548 miles from where we hope to join the Megatron (Note To Self: is “the megatron” correct usage, or simply “megatron”? Must find this out before talking to yachties) in Quincy, MA.

We left Boulder early Monday morning after a nice but emotionally difficult weekend in Boulder where we had to say goodbye to our friends and family. We expect to be back for a long visit soon after Thanksgiving, so it is not as though we are parting with any kind of finality, but the mere fact that we plan to base our lives from another side of the country makes us feel as though we are leaving the community, even though we will certainly return.

The first day’s driving was pleasant. 675 miles is a long way, but with it we cleared the eastern plains of Colorado, all of Nebraska, and made it to Des Moines, IA in time for dinner with our good friends Karen and Ben. Karen is a college professor at Iowa State, and a nursery school classmate of mine. She and Ben live in the coolest loft apartment I have ever seen in real life, and they had us stay over with them, which was totally awesome. Des Moines is having a flood right now, so when we walked across the river bridge we could see the submerged waterfront amphitheater, submerged waterfront bike trail, submerged lightposts, and quite a lot of submerged grass. It was an awesome treat to visit with Karen and Ben, but we had to press on early yesterday morning to continue the journey.

Continuing east, we crossed into Illinois and then Ohio.

Since Euonym was taking the day’s journey fairly well, we briefly considered pressing on through the night, but a short break for dinner outside Cleveland made us realize that we were too tired to make it, anyway. We pressed on to Erie, where we collapsed into an extremely convenient roadside hotel, of which I will shortly become the foursquare mayor.

In other news, after much back and forth with the boat yard, we seem to be about 75 percent likely to meet our target launch date of tomorrow morning. Here’s hoping!

Packing the house

With just a couple of days remaining here in Boulder, it’s a frenzy of activity. The movers are coming tomorrow to move everything we own that’s bigger than a shoebox to a long term storage facility in Longmont.

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See you later, desks, beds, and coffee table!

So far it’s quite a lot like a normal move in terms of all the “should we keep this” and “how should we wrap this up so it doesn’t break?” kinds of decisions, only with the additional distinction between “should we bring this with us now” and “should we keep this for The Future House.” Practically all of our dress clothes, for instance, are going in to long term storage. Along with Euonym, if she’s not careful:

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It’s very exciting, but it’s also stressful and sad. We are doing things this week that we wanted to be sure to do “one last time before we leave.” Last night we went out to Steph’s favorite bar downtown, and tonight after the show (we’re both in the chorus of Aida) we will have a chance to watch a movie with friends from the theatre. It’s a pretty challenging time; both of us are psyched about the adventure that lies ahead, but part of having that chance means that we need to leave our friends and family. We are trying to be very clear with our invitations (“ANY TIME YOU’RE FREE, WE WOULD LOVE TO HOST YOU”) but it’s a long trip from Colorado to the ocean so we know it won’t be an everyday thing to see our friends from home. We’re very excited to see more of our friends and family who live on the east coast, and very much looking forward to reconnecting with them, and it is still hard to leave Boulder.

Anyway, one glance out the window easily shows us that it’s time to break out the bermuda shorts and floppy sun hats. Obviously, nature is trying to give us a sign. Thank goodness the heater is all installed.

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Moving Day Approaching

In a break from previous moves, I’m taking two days off from work for this one, even before we start the process of driving across the country. It seems like a good idea; in addition to the standard packing all of our stuff in to boxes, we also need to significantly pare down the amount of stuff we live with on a daily basis. Because we don’t plan to become seven-seas vagabonds for the rest of our lives, that means lots and lots of stuff in storage.

Other than the destination, though, so far it’s a lot like all of our other moves: storage, packing, goodwill, phone calls to the new destination to make sure the various legalities are lined up, etc. There are some differences:

  • Documentation. Marine documentation is handled by the coast guard. On the plus side, documenting your vessel with the Coast Guard is seen as A Good Thing by our bank, and it allows us not to have to register with the state DMV in every state we visit. On the minus side, we paid someone a bunch of money to make sure we did it right, because there is a significant fine for doing it wrong. Now that it’s done right, we have to get our boats name and hailing port (Megatron, Boulder CO) painted on the boat, and an engraved plaque with our documentation number mounted somewhere. This has to happen before we move the boat at all, or we risk a $10,000 fine. Whew!
  • Living Comfort. We take certain things for granted in an apartment, like heat, fresh water, and electricity. No more. We purchased a big device that is basically a marine furnace to keep us warm, since pleasure boats aren’t generally built with them preinstalled. Fresh water lives in a 100 gallon tank, which seems like a lot until you shower twice in one day. We’ll be able to refill at a local dock, hopefully not too often. Electricity lives in one huge battery that has to be recharged whenever its level of charge drops below 70% or so.

There are lots more things, which I hope to get to eventually. Tonight, I’m shipping fourteen eBay packages. I sold most of my triathlon equipment on eBay, and we are using the proceeds to buy a dinghy:

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I have no idea who that lady is, but I think she’s in our future dinghy.

The maiden voyage of the S/V Megatron

I kind of regret not blogging for the past year and a half, which has been one of the most exciting times in my life. Someday I will discover the perfect balance between pure experience and keeping good records. It hasn’t happened yet, though.

So what happened?
If you were following along, I *did* race in the Hawaii Ironman, and it was a kick. It was the most stressful tropical vacation I ever hope to have, and I had a solid race. I stopped on the bike to give eventual women’s winner Chrissie Wellington a CO2 cartridge to fix her flat tire, and went on to finish 35th or so on the back of a 3:01 marathon. Lots of my family and friends were there, and it was awesome.

Steph the captain Steph and I got married in June of 2009, which was every bit as amazing as we had hoped. We scored the only sunny Saturday of the entire summer to share with our family and friends, got married outside by the ministers of the churches each of us grew up in, and talked the country club into letting us have a 400 square foot inflatable bouncy castle at the reception. Every part of the planning, ceremony, and reception went better than we had dared to hope, and we were overwhelmed with the awesomeness of sharing that time with our family and friends.

Then we took a sailing trip, just the two of us on a 32 foot sailboat. It was a blast. The photo on the right shows Steph with windblown hair at the helm, sailing on the Caribbean trade winds.

s/v MegatronWhen we got home, I had viral meningitis and decided to quit triathlon to give both of us a chance to do some of the other things we both wanted to try. We started boat shopping in September. A few weeks ago we closed on the boat on the left here, a 37 foot sailboat we are re-christening “Megatron”.

This is a new chapter Steph’s and my life, and a big adventure that we are excited to have together. The chance for this kind of adventure doesn’t come around every decade, so we are grabbing it and making the most of it. It’s sad to be leaving our friends and a community that we know and love, but it’s also exciting – we’re moving on board a boat! With no clear idea what to expect! I mean, what could be a bigger adventure?

Our apartment lease expires next Monday, March 22, and we’re driving to Boston to move aboard. AHOY!

A summer photo essay

When we last spoke, I was coming down off of the high from the best race of my life, and preparing for a summary ass-kicking at a pair of classic half-ironmans.  As it turned out, I wasn’t even ready for that – I pulled out of the 5430 half ironman 30 miles in to the bike ride.  After 45 minutes of sitting in the grass feeling sorry for myself, I went home and slept for the rest of the day.  So much for that quick recovery from an Ironman race!  I elected to sit out my planned race on the following weekend, since I was feeling quite sick, and spent the intervening week doing more or less no training.  That helped a little.

This first photo is actually from July – in the six weeks since it was taken, he has grown approximately two feet.

So after not racing (or, at least, not finishing) either of the two races I alluded to when we last spoke, it was off to Home Depot, Office Max, and the grocery store for a few last-minute supplies for Star Island, where Steph and I led the Senior High youth group.

For the second year in a row we did human powered waterskiing, pretty much the best activity in the history of ever.  Our youths built waterskis out of plywood (thanks, Home Depot!):

And then, with a combination of brains and brute strength, hove each other several hundred feet up to the swimming beach.  I want to reiterate that this actually worked, and I cannot recommend it highly enough, both for its entertainment value and the sense of accomplishment it brings:

We also played an amazing variant of speed scrabble (shout out to Sarah Day, if you ever read this, thank you for teaching me this game) – Steph decided we could play human speed scrabble.  Imagine fifty people running around with letters on their heads, trying to form themselves into a crossword.  We also played scandal jeopardy (“This depression-era scandal was short and stout.”), and had The Mother Of All Scavenger Hunts.  This last item deserves revisiting, another time.

Stephanie and I also got engaged during polar bear (that is, dawn) swimming on Monday morning.  Truly I never thought I would have the following conversation:

“Will you marry me?”

“Are you bullshitting me?”

But it turned out for the best, as she did, after the initial shock, say yes!  Sorry, Steph, for catching you so off guard.  Actually, I take that back, I’m not sorry at all, it was awesome.

Naturally, all of that excitement left me with a prodigious apetite, so I tried to eat her head. NOM NOM NOM.

And now it’s fall, we’re back home and working.  I am deep in to my preparations for the Hawaii Ironman now, but I will try to update a little more often!

New blog!

Well … new theme for my blog, at any rate. I did it myself … can you tell?

I learned a few things: CSS is pretty hard, I have at least an idea of what I want my blog to look like, and I do not have time to write a blog and design a blog at the same time. It still needs polish, a few spacing adjustments, and to have its margins fixed in internet explorer, but all in all I am quite pleased with myself.

Aside from that, it’s been a long winter! I had a great vacation, hernia surgery, and am now full-tilt back in to training. I am racing for a NEW TEAM this season! The Craft / Cervelo / Karhu multisport team, with support (ie. wetsuits!) from BlueSeventy. I am very excited about this, there are two other guys on the team and I am hoping that we can make a bit of noise this season.

Finally, to atone for not posting for the past six months … here is a video of my nephew munching on some french fries.

OMFG, Awesome Software Is Awesome

Nappy Widget, on Apple.com

I wrote an Apple Dashboard Widget the other day. It’s pretty neat. You get two little programs: one that you use to note whether your baby is asleep or awake, and one that you send to friends that automatically updates itself to show whether your baby is asleep or awake. The way it works is, you click a button (“Awake”, for instance) on yours, and it sends a message to theirs (“Francis is Awake”) automatically. So they don’t call and accidentally wake the baby up while he is napping.

I’m selling it for six dollars, which I think is an eminently reasonable price. Actually, I’m giving it away for free, it just costs six dollars to get a “channel code”, which is the part that lets you send the messages. The channel code is valid for six months and can be extended after that if you like.

Anyway – I uploaded it to Apple.com’s Dashboard section – and this morning it is on the front page!! So that is pretty cool.

You should check it out. It would make a great gift, hint hint :-).