Friday, May 20, 2016

Our Life In A Month!

Celebrating Mother's Day with crawfish ... known as "mudbugs" around here!

It seems that I've let another month pass by since my last post.  Time flies when we're having fun ... and even faster when we're working a lot!

 The last week of April was busy finishing up last-minute repairs for our new tenants.  Yes, after two months we finally found new tenants for one of our two vacant rentals!  The young couple had met all of our criteria and moved in the 1st of May.  We're hoping that they're as good as they seem .. and stay a long time! Just as we were down to one vacant rental that we're currently getting ready (and just started advertising yesterday) ... another tenant moved out on May 12th.  We only have four rentals, but I swear it seems like 40!  Luckily, he gave us proper notice and left the place in good shape.  We started advertising right away and have shown the place a few times, but again .. we're being cautious. One rental down, two to go!  Hope I don't jinx us ... that 4th rental has a lease that expires the end of July.  Hopefully we're laying the ground work for good tenants while we're cruising.

The following weekend was Mother's Day, and a crawfish boil ... thank you my daughter & son-in-law!  A day at the kid's house with gorgeous weather, my own mother, our daughter, her new family, and crawfish boiled by our son-in-law ... I needed this relaxing day!  Ken had recently shared his "secret" recipe with our son-in-law and it was time to see how much he had learned.  Ken's recipe has earned him first place at an annual "Crawfish Cook-Off" that he's participated in for several years, and now the recipe will live on.  Our son-in-law nailed it ... the crawfish were great!

Last weekend we finally got to start another project on Nirvana ... painting the cream-colored non-skid on the top deck and on the cockpit floor. We started on Friday the 13th (pretty good day for us) and we were pulling off the tape on Sunday afternoon. I'll have all the details in a future post once we actually finish this project, but we're really happy with the results.  This was much easier than our earlier project of spraying the glossy areas of the deck (which didn't turn out so glossy)! 

 The weather's looking good again this weekend, so we plan on applying white non-skid on the cockpit's seating area.  Hopefully we'll also get to the last part of this project ... cream non-skid on the sides of the deck.  Then, it's time to start installing all of that deck hardware that we removed so long ago.  There was a ton of hardware on this boat ... hope we can remember where it all goes!  New stanchion backing plates are on their way, and Saturday morning we're making a quick trip to New Orleans to pick up some new wood for the sides of our companionway hatch ... teak rots!  Have you ever heard of Epay?!  Check it out ... we're gonna give it a try.

Here's a sneak peek at what Nirvana's looking like lately ... 

We also have an Outland Hatch Cover on the way ... we won one thanks to them and a contest given by The Boat Galley!  We're looking forward to trying the cover on the hatch near our mast.  It should keep the salon a lot cooler ... I see two more hatches in our future!  We gave our hatches a face-lift a while back, and they already could use some protection.  Thanks guys!

I almost forgot something else we're excited about ... we signed up for a 10 week (2 hrs per week) navigation course!  The class starts the end of this month, and it's given by the Lake Pontchartrain Sail & Power Squadron.  This isn't an online class ... we'll actually be in a classroom!  We're really looking forward to learning how to read a paper chart and plot a course.  We'll also learn how to use our chart plotter ... we really need this course. This will be big progress for us.  We've got places to sail and no knowledge on how to get there ... yet!

Hasta luego ... until then.  Mid-Life Cruising!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Sailor In Progress!

If you've been following our blog for a while, you know that we've been prepping for cruising for ... um, a really long time!  This blog turned 6 years old last month, and I've had to change our " The Plan" page several times since then.  I look back and wonder what we were thinking when we thought we'd be cruising in 2012!

If you're interested enough to read this blog, you're probably interested in the dream of "sailing away".  How many times have you come across dreamers that never actually do anything but talk about it?  There's nothing wrong with hanging on to a dream, but we don't wanna be one of those folks that looks back and realizes we've waited too long.

I posted the picture above on our Facebook page just three days ago, and it's already the most popular picture we've ever posted!  I think a lot of folks can relate to this for more reasons than one.  Not only are there those that dream, but there are lots of folks just like us that are working long and hard towards making their dream a reality.  It's much easier to never leave the dock!

The past six years have had a lot of great milestones that we wouldn't have missed and we've got a lot done on Nirvana.  There's still a lot to do, and we are finally starting to see more time in the near future to make Nirvana our primary focus.

We're still running back and forth to our two vacant rentals ... getting them in shape and interviewing prospective tenants.  Will we ever find good tenants?! We've had a couple of folks cop an attitude when they were turned down, but what they don't understand is that these homes are a result of years of hard work, frugality and discipline. They're our life savings and future retirement ... something that's a pretty big deal to us.  We've already had more than our fair share of "bad" tenants.  Anyway, we're hopeful that we'll find good tenants soon.  Summer is almost here, school will be out, and the market tends to pick up.

We haven't "retired" yet (never really will as long as we have rentals), so it's been tough to find time to keep up with this blog.  I hate it when I can't write!  When not working at our businesses or rentals, we've been working on setting up our long-term future.  We've been working on a project the past several months, and hopefully it will put us where we want to be in twenty years .. when we're 70 years young.

Leaving the dock is hard work when you don't want to be broke in your golden years and you're not wealthy.  We're not quite as care-free as some folks that will "just figure it out".  We're also probably not as young and don't wanna be looking for a full-time income when we're 60-70 years of age. There are no guarantees for our future, but we think we're on the right path for cruising and traveling.  We're "sailors in progress" and we've learned the past few years that making the transition is much more time-consuming and difficult than we thought it would be.  

We love Nirvana, but when we bought her we knew nothing about sailboats .. and had no clue how much work we'd need to put into her.  The good thing is that we've learned a lot over the past few years about our Catalina 30, and we're hopeful that we won't have any major expenses with her once we start cruising ... at least for a little while.

Speaking of "sailor in progress" ... my sailing class has been dampened by the weather.  Our instructor is amazing, but us newbies need ideal weather conditions to sail on the small Flying Scot.  Every time a sailing lesson is scheduled, it's raining or too windy.  To be honest, I'm anxious to start focusing on our own boat anyway!

Ken and I are excited about dedicating much more of our time to Nirvana this Summer, and finally becoming sailors that leave the dock!

Hasta luego ... until then  Mid-Life Cruising!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Nirvana's New Home!

I can't believe it's been almost a month since my last post, especially since I've been having some exiting news for about 3 weeks.  On March 10th, we FINALLY put Nirvana in a lift and got her back in the water!  After being in the boatyard since December, 2014 ... this day couldn't come soon enough, and it was a day full of excitement and a bit of anxiety.  Would we find any leaks from the thru-hulls or the last minute strut repair that kept us in the boatyard another two months?  Would the engine start after sitting for over a year?  Would Ken be able to easily align our new prop shaft once back in the water, or would that be another typical boat project that turns into a nightmare?  Did Ken install our new shaft packing properly?  Would we run aground when moving Nirvana to her new slip and look like total idiots?  If we ran aground would we bend our brand new prop shaft?  All of these questions would be answered once in the water ... and "out there" in the lake.  Ya know what Capt'n Ron says!

Seeing our prized possession slowly lift off the stands and into the air always makes us a little nervous.  But, the straps were in the right position and Nirvana was slowly carried near the water without incident.  Nirvana sat in her slings for a bit while Ken painted the areas of the bottom that the stands had prevented from being painted while on the hard.  After drying, Nirvana was lowered into the water then guided to the dock for aligning the new prop shaft and checking everything one more time.  

Everything looked good, and nothing leaked.  Whew, now on to aligning the shaft.  While this didn't turn into the nightmare we feared, it did take a lot of time.  As the afternoon slipped away, we decided to finish up in the morning and enjoy the next day motoring to Nirvana's new home.

We arrived early the next morning, Ken finished aligning the shaft, and we were finally ready to start the engine and get into Lake Pontchartrain.  The engine took a minute to start, but it sounded great ... music to our ears!  We untied the lines and headed out of the canal and into the lake.  We were anxious to see how the new shaft packing was working, so we weren't ready to celebrate and relax just yet.  As we entered the lake, Ken checked the packing and made a few small adjustments.  I kept watch and steered the boat while he was down below.  Ken came up just as we'd floated into the center of the lake ... perfect timing.

The days was gorgeous and as we motored along the lake we began to relax.  The new packing was working well, the shaft seemed to be aligned properly and was running smooth, and the engine wasn't overheating,  We were back on our boat ... on the water!  We felt like we were getting reacquainted with an old friend, and it felt great.  Our confidence began to come back, and our love for Nirvana was quickly rekindled.  What a perfect day it turned out to be!

We slowly made our way across Lake Pontchartrain and into Bayou Bonfouca.  The marsh is beautiful.

We had a few spectators as we entered the bayou ...

On such a beautiful day after a lot of rain, we saw lots of turtles sunning themselves and about five alligators doing the same thing!  We've grown up on the bayous and swamps, yet we rarely see an alligator.  It was fun to scan the marshy areas and actually see an alligator every now and then.  As we motored past beautiful homes, we knew we were getting close to Nirvana's new slip.

We had two bridges to pass through.  The first bridge was on the lake and the second was just before our slip.  As we waited for the old bridge to open, we started running our docking procedure through our heads.  After going back n forth, we decided that I'd jump on the dock and Ken would steer us into the slip bow first ... very slowly.  We placed the fenders and slid right into our slip ... much easier than we'd hoped!  

Nirvana looks great in her new slip, and the deck paint job that was such a PITA doesn't look too bad.  We do have a section that we're unhappy with, and Ken will try to fix it this Summer.  How do ya like our floating lawn?!

That following Friday night, we sat in Nirvana's cockpit and enjoyed the sunset and water views with a few beers.  Aaaah ... we've been away too long.

The guy next to us, Octo, just moved onto his sailboat, and has been working on the interior for the past 3 years.  Octo has the same plan as us ... to travel on his sailboat.  He's about to start working on the outside, while we're about to start working on our inside.  Octo is a real nice guy, and he said he'd be glad to adjust our fenders and keep an eye on Nirvana since he's living right next door.  We exchanged numbers, and it's good to know that Nirvana is being watched.  We live about 5 minutes away from Nirvana, so we're able to stop by often.  I can even stop by and board Nirvana by myself ... no more dreaded ladder!

We also have Noah's Ark across from us!

So, why have I taken so long to share this exiting news?!  Well, it seems that the past month has flown by with work and now TWO vacant rentals.  We've been working on getting these rentals back on the market in our spare time.  We've got one rental ready and advertised, and the other should be ready in the next 4-6 weeks.  We've spent quite a bit of time showing the one rental and interviewing potential tenants, but we're being picky this time so ... it's still on the market.  I can't tell ya how hard it is these days to find a decent tenant!  One showed up reeking of pot and in his pajamas, another used to live there and had trashed the place (the nerve!), and others had terrible credit and no proof of income ... ugh!

Anyway, we're getting a handle on things and we've ordered the non-skid for Nirvana's deck.  We hope to start this project real soon ... before the Louisiana heat & humidity becomes too uncomfortable.

Also, I've been escaping to New Orleans every now and then for a beginner's sailing course!  I'll have more about this later and have only sailed once so far, but it's been fun.

This past Sunday we took a break from everything and participated in a friend's annual Crawfish Boiling Competition.  Our team consisted of Ken & I, our daughter and our son-in-law.  We've won in the past, but didn't this year.  That's alright, we enjoyed the friends & crawfish and lots of folks still thought Ken's was the best.  It was another gorgeous day!

 Ken shared his family secret with our son-in-law ...

Now that Nirvana is back in a slip without incident, I can tell ya that there were many times during the past year that we felt defeated.  From the difficulties with spraying the deck, to the unexpected new shaft & coupling and strut repair, to Nirvana's new bottom job being out of the water too long, to low water levels keeping stuck at the boatyard ... it was a long road. We were starting to think that Nirvana was never getting outta the boatyard!  When we started to feel down, we'd tell ourselves that we would get through this, and we'd feel much better once we did.  A weight has been lifted and it feels so good ... we're moving forward!

Hasta luego ... until then.  Mid-Life Cruising!
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