Sailing Plans, An Oxymoron

Man, Kelsey and I are planners to a fault. We're your stereotypical Type-A couple and then some. And by then some I mean I grew up in a military household then spent 5 years in the service myself, where my branch's motto was about always being prepared and having a plan. Now being prepared and things having a place works incredibly well with living on a sailboat. Plans, however, do not. 

Our lovely sailboat we call home is not a planner. By her nature, she is always going wherever the wind takes her. Plans are not something she controls but something Mother Nature does. She's a stoic who knows what's in her sphere of influence and what isn't. 

For us, this lesson has been a hard taught one. For example, when we bought Lucidity about a year ago we planned on keeping her on the hard in Indiantown for a month to do a bottom job and install an ice box conversion. Didn't happen. Bottom job is now overdue and we own an Engel. How about our first year cruising plans? Ha! We were bound for Havana & Dry Tortugas by last Fall at the absolute latest. Poor Luci hasn't left the dock in 11 months! 

I could go on and on sharing our other best-laid plans since moving aboard but I'll spare you the monotony. We can plan all we want but at the end of the day, old man universe is going to do whatever the hell he wants. We've found what works best for us is having a few loose plans in place so that way when it comes time for one to come to fruition, it usually involves either a combination or deviation of all of them. 

Sailing the Caribbean by the end of 2017 was admittedly a very loose plan. After founding an early-stage tech company this past October, the Caribbean seemed more like a distant dream than anything reminiscent of a plan. 6 months out it's looking like our reality now. But who knows. We've learned to take after Luci and just go wherever the wind blows us.

Get the Berg to the Burg

We had just cleared through our first lock and gazed upon a welcoming open body of water, riddled with westerly winds and not another boat in sight. Our perfect opportunity to hoist the sails. Up they jostled and consequently off went the engine. I couldn't believe it, after a year full of meticulous planning and unrelenting research we were finally under sail aboard our very own 35' sailboat. Only one problem (at this time) still existed and that was getting her to our soon-to-be home port of St. Petersburg with zero sailing experience between the two of us. Sure we had read our fair share of books and watched copious amounts of YouTube videos in preparation but now we were really in it, no turning back.

An alarm pierces my moment of reminiscence and brief celebration as I'm brought back to the task at hand. Never heard that alarm before, must be something with the engine. Nope, can't be the engine considering its turned off. My significant other and co-pirate, Kelsey heads down below to investigate. Within minutes Kelsey comes back up to answer our pre-voyage question, as if the alarm had coerced her into providing us an answer to if she still gets sea sick or not. Simultaneously the wind kicks up to an untimely 25 knots as one of our sails wraps around the mast and tears our head sail. I prioritize - Take care of your crew first, taking on water alarm second then deal with a shredded sail. Kelsey and I begin to tackle each task individually as we discover the source of the incoming water and take down the torn sail to replace with a back-up. I give Kelsey the helm and she stares at the horizon solely focusing on keeping water under our 6' draw. Ah the perfect cure for seasickness - distraction, some wind on the face and the horizon. The exhilaration eventually subsides as we get everything abated and under control.

I remember being overwhelmed and overcome with brief moments of regret at numerous points throughout our 5-day shakedown sail from the Atlantic Coast of Florida to the Gulf Coast. We planned for stress and feelings of being overwhelmed as any ridiculous/absurd Type-A couple would, we just had a different term for it; leaving our comfort zone. We wanted to be challenged, to finish our voyage with a temporarily quenched thirst for adventure. And our journey did just that, along with reaffirming to us why we opted for this in the first place.

As we made our stoic approach to our new pier we'd eventually call home, I remember being overrun with feelings of accomplishment. As our bow line wrapped around the cleat on the pier, our five-day cruise of overnight passages, high-water alarms, and other stern lessons had become a thing of the past. We wanted this life because it breeds everyday challenges, each day is uncertain with what potential problems may lie ahead. Living in this type of ever-changing environment allows us the privilege to tackle life’s curve balls with a different mindset. A life of cruising and living aboard a  sailboat is a perpetual puzzle; one we are happy to be solving everyday. 

The Green Flash

Here I am: 3 a.m. on an early Wednesday morning lying in our balmy aft cabin, reliving our unrelenting first week living aboard. It's a thick 85 degrees inside the boat, my head’s throbbing, our fridge refuses to turn on and my phone will be dead all day tomorrow…that is until I get to work where I can plug my charger into an outlet without fear of it not working. You would presume, given the above, that I would be missing life on land, but somehow by some unfathomable stretch of my own imagination, I don’t. I know things can only go up from here and the fact that we survived our first week without a thought of selling the boat I say bodes well for us.

Now before we get ahead of ourselves with the boasting, I should really explain what else happened this week— other than us only losing power tonight in the middle of a Florida summer. This time last week was our first night onboard. It went without malfunction and was surprisingly very smooth. Our greatest fear, after spending our weekends working on Luci, was the heat. I've never sweat this much in my life, but it's been coupled with doing projects outside in a marina, in the St. Petersburg sun, so it comes with the territory. Somehow, we were freezing our first two nights living onboard—our standalone A/C unit was pumping out BTUs with authority. 

This was pretty much the extent of our good luck for this week, because the next morning we were nailed by some chain-smoking GMC Yukon driver on our way to work. This driver apparently didn't see my bright red Prius in the left lane and completely side swiped us as she was trying to make a left turn from the far right lane. Needless to say, Kelsey and I were pretty banged up. Immediately after the accident, I assumed Kelsey would be in the most pain due to her side receiving the brunt of the impact. However, after my gracious tow truck driver dropped me off at work, I realized I had a pretty severe concussion. As the day went on, my co-workers noticed I was struggling to complete sentences and I was not feeling like myself at all. After the workday ended, I reluctantly went to the ER for some CAT scans. Luckily, everything came back ok and the Doc gave me a prescription for some muscle relaxers and some other drug for my head that he coupled with the abiding realization that he knew I wouldn't be taking them. I'm somewhat opinionated when it comes to modern medicine and our healthcare system, but we won't go down that dark, damp road. 

The cherry on top of it all was a named storm heading right for our new home. Tropical Storm Colin decided he needed no invitation to our housewarming party and abruptly showed up two days after our accident. All he brought was some 50 mph gusts and a whole lot of a rain. Which leads to the green flash....

It's 10 p.m., I hear Kelsey tramping across our deck to come down below after her shower and simultaneously our power goes out. I'm inside, winding down for the evening, banking on catching up on some overdue sleep. I immediately reach a guilty verdict for Kelsey as the one who caused our power outage. She was the only witness to the notorious green flash, but apparently a transformer across from our dock (owned by St. Pete's energy powerhouse, Duke Energy) blew up! This led to us having no power and our perishables inside of our fridge, perishing. All the while, my battery on my iPhone withers away and tomorrow's alarm for work with it. With the hatch open above me begging for the slightest hint of a breeze, I lie in the subjective comfort of our bed, and I have an exploding sky full of stars serenading me to a short, much-needed sleep. But all I can do is be excited that it can somehow only get better than this.


Why couldn't we have been raised to live on a boat? I mean c'mon Dad you were the one who showed me your passions for surfing, boating and everything else related to water, didn't you foresee this coming? We really could've used the foresight and background of having lived aboard previously throughout this process to know where to begin. But therein lies a victory, albeit a small one but nonetheless a victory for us, just to begin

To say we envisioned ourselves being overwhelmed and having an exploding to do list chock-full of daunting hand scribed only documents and DMV visits, would be a lie. As with most when they are infatuating over their dream, we only saw the romantic side of it all. Yes, we are overwhelmed, or at least we were, but this is exactly where we wanted to be. Only difference was we had a different, nay sexier term for it when we were planning out our adventure, being outside of our comfort zone.  

A quote from one of the greatest modern day adventurers.

A quote from one of the greatest modern day adventurers.

So here we are now as a fully insured, USCG documented, antique registered sailing vessel and an incredibly relieved pair of not-so-green anymore owners. Don't get me wrong we still don't have the slightest clue of where to begin on properly tacking, bleeding a fuel line or what amps we draw but man can we tie a mean bowline and furl the shit out of that headsail. Oh yeah by the way Lucidity is now in her home port of St. Petersburg after her maiden voyage from middle of nowhere Florida, I mean Indiantown but we'll dive more into that in the next post.

So where to start on the documentation process? I'd prefer to not relive it so how about the cliff notes version - you'll thank me later. So why USCG documentation? Well first off we liked the idea of not having to smear some random combination of Home Depot purchased letter & number decals on the front steps (port bow section of hull) of our home.

Mermaid added for flavor.

Secondly, being documented facilitates clearance with foreign governments when cruising their waters and provides certain protections while sailing under Old Glory. As for antique registration, easy answer is its crazy cheap. Cheap as in $5.25 per year. Lastly insurance, yea I saved the most exhilarating for last. We decided on going with hull insurance and 300k liability, due primarily to our lack of sailboating experience. What hull insurance does is provide pay out if you were to lose your boat to a hurricane, fire, what have you. They pay out what you have stated as an Agreed Value or Market Value, which for us sounded like a great way to be screwed out of what our vessel is truly worth due to the insurance industry's best friend, depreciation. Needless to say we decided on Agreed Value, paid for the full year and got unlimited towing as well.

That face looks familiar to me as well when dealing with insurance, Flo.

Relieved is a subtle way of describing how I feel now that it's all done. We're legal, we're still afloat and we can somewhat back our boat out of its tight slip, lookout world. We are learning something new everyday, being challenged in more ways than we could've imagined and enduring the feeling of going from almost-experts at our current jobs to complete sailing novices. This is what we signed up for, we're happily overwhelmed and stoked to have you here for the duration of staying outside our comfort zones.