Written Feb 2nd 2003

February 2nd, 2003

Pork tenderloin chunks thaw in a pot on the stove as my wife Diann studies in our spare bedroom. She is working on a four year degree to complement her 20 plus years as data processing manager for one of the areas “venerable” companies. The four year MIS Degree is one of her preparations for our future cruising plans.

 

For her to be able to compete with “young blood”, she will have a “fresh degree” and thereby have an edge on the inexperienced computer geeks. She will have: a fresh degree, fresh ideas, and twenty plus years of data processing and management level experience. The plan is for her to leave the corporate security for consulting work- on board as well as on land.

 

I’m the cook. When we decided to get married some seven years ago, the deal was- I cook, she cleans the kitchen. The reality now that she is back in school is that I cook and she cleans up, most of the time.

 

Even my writing this history of our preparation to cruise is a juggle. I wrote the above underlined heading four days ago- then my mom walked through the door for dinner and I placed the laptop on hold to enjoy her company and fulfill the role of son. A bourbon and coke sits on the side table as I peck at the keyboard and a rerun of “The Thomas Crown Affair” with Pierce Bronsan and Rene Russo plays on the TV.

 

I have marveled at the simplicity of the well known cruising pair who espouse that we should go small, go simple, and go now. That sounds great, but, if we do it that way, how do we: manage our investment property, pay down our non-productive mortgages, look out for aging parents, be here for our kids, enjoy grandchildren currently in the “oven”, and cruise in the style to which we have become accustomed to on land.

 

My personal travel philosophy has been to “sleep cheap and eat well”. To that end our motel accommodations for the upcoming Miami Boat Show is at a former hostel at $89 per night. Meals while traveling generally include “tasting menus” similar to Gatsby’s at MGM at Las Vegas- $75 per person or an improvised version, for two, at Everest in Chicago- $275 including wine, black Russians, coffee, and Diann’s double desert.

 

Though such meal extravagance is not an every day affair, I certainly wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity should the impulse strike. But then again, I enjoy cooking. My main cook book is the Culinary Institute of America’s entry level text book. Give me fresh seafood from a fish house, butter, a lemon, a cabbage for greenery, French fries or sourdough bread for absorption and I’m in heaven. Perhaps fresh crab, oysters, and white fish can offset the need to graze among the menus. We’ll see!

 

This journal of our progress has been begun after having spent a four day weekend in Oriental, NC to check out a potential slip to buy. What a wonderfully quiet village focused on boating. If you find yourself on the intercoastal working your way to Beaufort, NC be sure to stop by Oriental for an evening or so. M&M restaurant has been there for a while and, though not gourmet, is worth the visit. The fare is reasonably priced, cooked well and served promptly. Should you have a bicycle on board, the peddle around town is also worth the exercise.

 

You would not be reading this deep into this journal if you were not deeply into the prospect of cruising. My desire to be on the water began with the smell of green lake water, rotted plant life and fish while riding in a wooden skiff powered by an 18 hp Johnson outboard on the then freshly filled Kerr Lake of North Carolina and Virginia around 1955. The gray hull, red stripped boat belonged to my dad and his brother. I remember sitting on the sole of the boat, hanging my head over the side, and smelling that rotty-alive lake smell. I have yet to get over the special-ness of being on the water.

 

Given a choice, I would rather be on the water, enjoying a boat, than anything else. When my first wife and I split up, after over twenty years of marriage, I kept the boat- she got the service for twelve and other assets of a household nature. But then again, we had bought a 17 foot EbbTide Captiva ski boat- before we bought our first house. That’s called a boater’s priorities. One of the reasons my X and I split up was that she could not handle giving up the big house to enjoy the medium sized boat.

 

Dinner has been finished and I can hear the clink and clatter of dishes making their way into the dishwasher. I sit with a small sized black Russian in an oversized cordial glass and enjoy the telling of our tale. A household furnishings industry person, Diann has access to new patterns of fabric.

 

The fun of this plan and process has been revealed in the decor of the townhouse that Diann and I now enjoy. Our new boxed valances have been covered in a red, gold, and navy blue flag pattern. A simple jute rug covers the floor.

 

Fearful of sailboat heeling, Diann was at times loath to venture out on windy days. So much so was this fear that she felt the need to forcefully overcome it. So last year she signed up for a Blue Water Sailing School offshore course- under the correct presumption that if she could handle the offshore waves, she could handle the minor turbulence of our inland lake. “I hate lake sailing now”, she says. “There is too much tacking and I feel too confined.” “Take me to Miami” may not be her quote, but sure fits her idea of the area where ocean water is pretty and sailing begins to be exhilarating.

 

Diann loved her class and six days out (I didn’t go). She was so charged up about blue water that she chartered our family a 38’ catamaran for the week of Christmas that year. We flew to Marsh Harbor, accompanied by our three daughters, and spent a week, a wonderful week of on board party time. We ate out and cooked on board on alternating evenings. Ooops! I’m reflecting forward on cruise budget issues.

 

Dottie, our three and one-half pound Pomeranian girl-dog looks up at me from the floor as I pound away on the keyboard- and I think about her and her sister Sable. Will they enjoy being on board for extended stays? Currently we take the girls to grass at the yacht club or row them to shore while anchored out. Long term, we may have to adjust to “rope flushable” Astroturf. Sable was able to manage the fake grass carpet when a puppy on board our Hunter 26, but has not been keen to the technique since puppyhood. Dottie has never been trained for plasti-grass. That’s another one of the forthcoming “we’ll see” situations.

 

In the midst of the serious and the trivial concerns about how to merge from full time land based to simi-full time boat based, I have earned my USCG six pack license. Part of the dream is to charter for bucks if the opportunity arises. The other aspects of having the license is to add to a confidence reserve.

 

How many ways can we plan / fanaticize about means by which we can drop our normal routine and maintenance funding to evolve into a self sufficient cruising machine?

 

If you are serious about making the jump, it’s on your mind. And, unless you are totally independently wealthy, it’s on your mind in bursts of enthusiasm washed with rains of reality.

Alex RookerWritten Feb 2nd 2003