Survey & Sea Trial Complete

The survey and sea trial on the Catalina 320 are now complete. We have accepted the purchase, which means we are well on our way to officially becoming boat owners!

C and I were absolutely giddy with excitement when we arrived at the Deltaville Yachting Center this past Wednesday morning to meet with our surveyor, Peter, and our broker, Gordon Inge. We had previously only seen the boat out of the water, so what a delight to finally see her afloat. The first box checked; she didn’t sink. Phew!

Because the threat of rain loomed in the forecast, it was determined that we should begin with the sea trial portion first. I’m sure (no, I know) that C and I looked really dopey, wearing cheesy grins as Gordon slowly motored us away from the marina, through Broad Creek Inlet, and into the adjacent narrow channel that empties into the Chesapeake Bay.

Once we were out in open waters, it was time to unfurl and raise the sails. Unfortunately, we could only put up the mainsail because (as Gordon discovered from a cherry picker later at the dock), one of the bearings for unfurling the genoa was gunked up with globs of bird poop! Not unexpected, I suppose, for a boat that has spent the last nine months on the hard.

Gordon inspecting the genoa at the marina

Our little group spent an hour or so on the bay before we motored back to the marina, where Gordon demonstrated the Catalina 320’s ability to turn in narrow spaces. We watched in disbelief (horror?) as he effortlessly rotated that 32′ sailboat 180 degrees right between the two sides of the docks to tether her port-side. Um, suffice it to say, I think it’s going to be a while before we will be able to demonstrate that kind of boating prowess.

For the next few hours, we hung out with Peter while he inspected every inch of the sailboat and tested every piece of equipment. I must say, I am so pleased that we hired Peter. He was remarkably thorough, knowledgeable, and very kind.

Surveyor Peter or Wilford Brimley?

Post survey, we are thrilled to find that, all in all, the vessel is very sound for a twenty-two-year-old sailboat. We may want to address a few cosmetic issues later on (like a couple of amateur patch jobs), and there are a few things we need to take care of now (like new bottom paint), but Peter assures us that she will be a perfect starter boat for learning to sail on.

We are so excited. It’s crazy how well this process has gone and how things are coming together. Nothing ever goes this smoothly! We now just wait to receive the closing documents from Gordon and get our insurance policy finalized. And if all goes to plan, we might officially be boat people by the end of the week! Here’s hoping!

Chasing Dreams

It is the beginning of a new adventure, the launching of a dream conceived nearly eight years ago. My husband C and I just secured an offer to purchase a small liveaboard sailboat!

The idea to learn to sail and live on the water part-time came to us in 2014, after we hired a private boat charter in Edinburgh, Scotland, and spent a day sailing on the Firth of Forth. Under the guidance of our skipper, Colin, we rode the waves on his sloop rig, learning some sailing basics and taking in the beautiful scenery. It was an exhilarating experience! C was at the helm most of the day, and I don’t think I have ever seen him so happy in our more than twenty-seven years of marriage.

Sailing on the Firth of Forth in Scotland in 2014

In the years following that memorable trip, we have often revisited our dream of sailing and pursuing a liveaboard life. We could just never quite gather the nerve to do it. That changed last May when we decided to dip our toes in the water and sign up for two days of sailing school on our local lake. In hindsight, we learned a ton, but the experience was not a positive one. In fact, I was nearly ready to give up on the whole thing. But more on that another time.

A little over a month ago, while vacationing on the Florida Gulf Coast, our dream came up again. And so it was there, on the beach at Alligator Point, that we finally decided that enough was enough. It was time to stop talking about it and get on with it! We are each on the cusp of turning forty-nine and realize that although we are not yet old, we aren’t exactly young either. So if we are ever going to pursue this dream, now is the time.

Fast forward to two weeks ago, and together, we set off for a weekend in Topping, VA. We met with a broker to discuss specifics and acquaint ourselves with various boat makes and models. It would be an understatement to say that we didn’t feel completely overwhelmed by the whole thing. But we were determined to press on.

Forward once more to this past weekend, where again we found ourselves on the Virginia coast, this time to specifically see a 2000 Catalina 320. The online listing for Eclipse (new name forthcoming) seemed very promising, and though we were careful not to get too prematurely excited, we both somehow knew in our gut that she might be the one. She was.

With the purchase price now negotiated, the next step is to schedule a survey/sea trial. If that goes well, on April 5, she will be ours. Fingers, toes, arms, legs, and eyes crossed!

Sitting here now, I still cannot believe we did it. And so quickly! Just one month ago, C and I were boating novices – a couple with a dream but staggered by the process of how to get started. Today, we have a contract to purchase a liveaboard cruiser. Incredible.

I have created this blog as a way to record the story of our adventures. As we go along, I hope to offer tips and advice to others new to the world of sailing. I’ll share our ups and downs, successes and failures, and all the inevitable mistakes we will make along the way. You’ll get to ride along as we explore the Chesapeake Bay and other areas. Through our experiences, I hope you’ll get a taste of what life is like on a liveaboard boat. And finally, I hope our journey will serve as an inspiration to other mid-lifers who think they might be too old to pursue their own dreams.

Welcome. I’ll see you on the water.