Category Archives: Getting ready to go

The boat is sinking!

Catawba Island Ohio
Posted by Bill

We have been working non-stop (and I mean it!) for almost a month now. Frantic pace to get the house sold, frantic pace to move, and frantic pace to get the boat ready and leave. Trust me…that’s a lot of frantic pace. For the last week we have been dis-positioning stuff at the house and hauling it to the boat, and stuffing it away in what ever hidey-hole we can find on the boat. Every day I look at the waterline (how low in the water the boat sits a dock) and it keeps getting lower and lower. We haven’t even loaded the really heavy stuff yet, which is fresh water and fuel. Our Island Packet holds 170 gallons of water and 90 gallons of fuel. Right now we have 1/4 tank of water and 2/3 tank of fuel. When we load it up it will probably sink another inch, which is a lot for a 42′ boat!

That is really not a big deal except that the water line is demarcated by the top of the antifouling paint on the hull. You need anti-fouling paint so that the marine growth doesn’t stick to the hull, build up and slow you down. In the tropics it looks like a beard around your boat and it needs to be scraped off on a regular basis. We use Petitt Trinidad SR bottom paint and it is pretty good a keeping the growth at bay for at least 2 years. But, if the water line rises above the anti-foul you are going to have more of a mess to attend to than you want.

So….we are loading and watching the weather. Right now is showing gusts up to 30 knots out of the north from 10 AM to 2 PM. That will mean 5 foot waves of significant steepness and a very uncomfortable ride to Vermilion. Due to our conservative nature, we will wait another day for better weather. The boat can handle much more severe weather than that but the crew doesn’t want to endure more than they have to…lol (see Dan and Mary Jane, you don’t have to worry!). Right now it is blowing 15 knots in the harbor (which is always less than on the lake). Deadlines and cruising don’t mix, and usually makes sailors make bad decisions to meet a date versus using prudent judgement. We will make the final call tomorrow and will err on the side of safe passage.

Lesson of the day: If you have been drinking and can carry a 40 lb bin out from the back seat of a Jeep Wrangler, down a 50′ dock, onto a boat, under the bimini cover, and not drop anything in the water…including yourself…you can have another martini!

First dose of storage management

9/10/14 – Catawba Island, OH
Posted by Bill

In the last post I was expounding on the virtues of inventorying everything on the boat so you can find it. There are more than 70 storage locations on our Island Packet 40. We have been inventorying and stuffing things away and noting the location of where it is stuffed. Today I was doing a boat project installing 12V cigarette lighter receptacles in the navigation station (nav station). We have a pretty elaborate electrical system on board which allows us to use AC power at the dock or through an inverter when not connected to shore power. The inverter converts DC power to AC power and works very well but uses battery power at a feverish pace, all depending on the power draw. Charging phones, iPods, iPads, laptops, etc… is very inefficient compared to just plugging in to a 12 volt receptacle like you would your car, so this is a good project. I look up the location of the electrical supplies storage and it reads “Starboard – salon – forward – settee – under” which means it is under the bench seat on the right side of the boat in the “living room” at the forward most seat. I know this is wrong because there is an air conditioning unit in that storage location….crap! I begin to search around that area and after 20 minutes of pulling out storage bins and tearing the inside of the boat apart I find what I need. At this point I realized 2 things: 1) Don’t drink vodka while you are putting stuff in storage, and 2) it’s a good thing we are inventorying all of this stuff or the process I just went through would be a standard routine every time I need to find something.

I got my project half done and then we went to have dinner with friends we consider family. They grew up in the Port Clinton/Catawba Island area, lived in Columbus for a time (where we met), and then moved back up to Catawba. While in Columbus we had a dual wedding where we all got married together and had a huge party. Great fun! We have a special bond with them and it was great to spend time together again. We will miss them!

We continue to press forward, hoping to be able to leave Saturday as planned, and we just might make it!

Let’s get going…..

9/8/14 – Catawba Island, Ohio
Posted by Bill

It took a day and a half to recover from the move. Man am I sore! We have stuff piled all over the place in the house. I couldn’t sleep so got up and started route planning. The general plan is to sail for Vermilion on Saturday the 13th. We have dinner plans with friends that share the same birthday as Tricia and are celebrating at one of our favorite restaurants, Chez Francois. Sunday we plan to leave Vermilion and sail 30 hours overnight to Buffalo, NY. I figure we leave at dawn and will be there around mid day on Monday. After an overnight stay we take the mast down and enter the Erie canal on Tuesday. It will take probably 6 days to get through the canal if the weather is permitting. The canal terminates at the Hudson River, which will take 2 – 3 days to transit ending in NY City/Sandy Hook, NJ. There we will wait for good passage weather for an overnight sail in the Atlantic Ocean around New Jersey to Cape May, NJ. After an overnight stay we will move up the Delaware Bay to the C&D canal which will take us into the Chesapeake Bay. We would like to be in Baltimore by October 6. Assuming the weather follows the current forecast (uh huh), we can make it. If the weather goes bad we will sit it out and be late.

So after looking at the weather and route, we decided to bust ass this week and get the boat loaded. Sunday we dis-positioned all of the stuff we brought in the move and started to inventory everything that goes on the boat. Island Packet boats are known for their ample storage but it is still a 42 foot boat, so you can imagine the challenge of trying to find a way to load all of our land based stuff, in addition to all of the things you need to manage and maintain a sailboat. Once loaded, it can be a significant task finding something you want, so everything gets put into an inventory spreadsheet with storage locations noted. We inventoried around 70% of what we have, went and bought engine and rigging spares, and took our first load to the boat.

The process repeats starting with the most important “must take” stuff, followed by less important stuff until the boat is full. Also this week we need to get rid of 2 cars, make a trip down and back to Columbus, and I need to install some 12V cigarette lighter adapters in the boat to power our Engel freezer, laptops and phones. It is going to be another crazy week with lots of activity, but it appears do-able (yeah – sure it does).

If we don’t make it for some reason…no big deal…we have plan B!

The first move is complete


So our house in Powell has sold and we moved to our house at Lake Erie. We lived in that house for 18 years and we really liked the neighbors, the community, the Columbus area and the house. We are relieved to have made it through the process because it really sucked – mostly because we totally underestimated the effort involved in moving, and also underestimated the amount of stuff that we had stored in the house. The last 2 weeks just about killed us, especially yesterday when we actually moved. We started the day around 8 AM and worked non-stop until we left the house at 10:20 PM, then drove 2 hours to the lake. The 12:30 AM martinis tasted really good!

Now our lake house is crammed with stuff from the other house in addition to all of the boat stuff that has been waiting for the right moment to move aboard.

We will be glad to only have 1 house to maintain, but the whole event was very sad for us. Good-byes to our neighbors, Columbus friends, and especially our kids and grandkids, were very difficult emotionally. There is definitely some second guessing going on…”Is this really the right thing to do?” Our Wednesday night drinking club (WWHWC – Wednesday Watering Hole Wanderers Club) is ending it’s 7th year of meeting every Wednesday. Tricia and I are founding members and the core group of founding members are regular attenders. Some days we have only core members show up and other days we have 20 or so. We will miss them like family. We were sad that they are going to meet only monthly because of us leaving. We will be visiting back in town on a somewhat regular basis, but it is still sad. The neighbors threw a fun party for us a week ago which had me wishing we had done that more often.

Now the focus is towards the boat and the first leg of our journey. I sit and stare at the chaos inside the lake house and wonder how the hell we are going to disposition all of it, load it on the boat, and prep the house for winter before it is too late to depart through the Erie Canal. Good thing we have a plan B.

Frequently asked questions – Part 1

So more people are starting to check out our blog site. As mentioned before…we won’t be regularly updating it until we get underway, but in the mean time……

When people hear that we are going to live aboard and cruise around for an extended period we get 1 of 2 reactions that are about 50/50 split: 1 – you guys are nuts, 2 – wow, that sounds exciting, wish I could go too

There is usually a lot of questions, most are the same from person to person, so I thought we could start a FAQ page (which I will do when I post part 2 in the future). This is the beginning of the FAQ process.

Q: Why are you doing this crazy thing?
A: We want to simplify and get back to nature, travel and see the world via H2O. We will spend some time checking out places on the water that we have targeted as potential places to live. While very rewarding, the lifestyle of living on a boat is physically demanding and we need to do it now, if ever, before we become physically unable. If you have never experienced it, moving on the water under the power of the wind or floating at a beautiful anchorage experiencing the natural world around is absolutely incredible. If you have experienced it, you are probably one of the 50% that wants to go with us!

Q: Where are you going?
A: We don’t believe you can survive this lifestyle if you need to have a hard and fast plan with any specificity. Our preference is to take the boat through the Erie Canal to the Hudson River, down the Hudson to New York City, out on the Atlantic Ocean around New Jersey to the Delaware Bay and into the Chesapeake Bay. We have friends and family that we would love to spend time with in the Chesapeake and the Bay area offers so many places to explore via boat. From there we want to get to the Bahamas for the winter and to get there we will do ocean passages between major harbors on the east coast if the weather is good, or use the intracoastal waterway if the weather is bad. In spring, head back to the Chesapeake and also cruise New England, then back to the Bahamas for winter. We do want to head down the island chain in the eastern Caribbean, down to Grenada, but we will figure that out after we get the first year under our belt!

Q: Aren’t you afraid of being on the ocean?
A: We have chartered boats and sailed the ocean and have experienced 30 knot winds and 12-14 foot seas, so we have some idea of how rough it gets. We will be conservative in our planning and make sure that we have adequate weather windows when making ocean passages. We have also been on the water in 50-70 mph winds in Lake Erie. Many people who have extensive experience sailing the ocean and the Great Lakes will tell you that they have had more challenging experiences on the Great Lakes, especially Lake Erie. The storms can come in fast and without warning, and the shallow water builds the waves steep and with a short wave period. All that being said, we are not naive enough to think we will not be challenged on ocean passages. Bottom line is that “afraid” is not the right word, but rather
respectful of the power of the ocean and nature overall. A deep and serious respect fosters safety and a conservative approach.

Q: Aren’t you afraid of hurricanes?
A: Yes! Because of our conservative nature and that our boat insurance requires us to be out of the “hurricane zone” (north of Georgia in the US) during hurricane season, we will be out of the hurricane zone during the season. We do understand that hurricanes still strike north of Georgia….see the answer to the previous question.

Q: Won’t you miss your family?
A: Hell no…we want to get away from those people! I had to open this answer with a joke because it is the most difficult part of doing this. We love our family dearly and will miss seeing them regularly. We will come back and visit, and there is already planning to come visit us. We also see this as an opportunity to teach the grandkids about the world, nature, and living a simple life. Most children grow up without this perspective, especially in this technology dominated era. We will also miss our friends very much. One of our favorite blogs we follow has called this the “true cost of cruising”, and I think it will be for us too.

More to come….

A dog chasing his tail


A boat is a constant maintenance project with enough pleasure interspersed to keep you motivated to maintain it. We all have that list of stuff that needs to be done, and typically when you cross one thing off as completed you get to put something else on the list. If you are lucky you get a one-for-one exchange.

Commissioning Island Bound this spring was not lucky. For everything we completed we added 3 projects to the list. Fortunately none of it is major or safety related. For example…we ordered a dinghy outboard engine lift to install on the transom of the boat. Kato Marine has records of what our previous owner had installed which he took with him when the boat was sold, so we order that exact same thing thinking that this should be the easiest boat project ever. When I install the lift in the same exact bolt holes with the same exact mounting bracket, it is not perpendicular to the cap rail. I call Kato and they are like “I don’t know how he could have installed it that way and actually used it, but you have exactly the same thing as he had installed” So repair the old screw holes and install correctly. A typical boat project, taking 3 times the effort and time that you expected.

Example number 2…we wanted to inspect the anchor chain before we launched the boat. As we start pulling the chain out of the deck pipe Tricia sees evidence of the chain chafing against the windlass motor as it moves in or out of the pipe (for our non-boating friends, a windlass is a mechanical device that grabs the anchor chain and as it rotates it pulls chain out of the pipe or puts it back, thus lowering or raising the anchor – saves a lot of manual labor). This is really not good! Using my inspection scope I can see that the paint is worn off a bit but no major damage is done. So we start racking our brains as to how we can alter the path of the chain to avoid the windlass motor and finally come up with a possible fix. Problem is, to get into the small space of the anchor locker you have to be able to detach your arms from your body, climb in, and reattach them so you can do the work while you are crammed into something the size of a trunk of a Ford Escape. Sounds like a job for Super Tricia!

Today is another prime example. Last week we tried to put the dodger and bimini canvas on and several parts of the stitching around the zippers ripped out. A couple of months ago we took the new dinghy outboard motor in for a recall and when we picked it up there was damage on the engine cover gasket from where they put another outboard next to ours and screwed up the gasket. They ordered a new part and we could pick up the outboard in the mean time. So Tricia was sewing the bimini and dodger while I went to pick up the outboard, and the truck won’t start. So I use the charger that I have (thank goodness) and get the truck started enough to go and get a new battery. Then I pick up the outboard, and magically the gasket is back to it’s original state. So good news!

Meanwhile, all day the wind is blowing 15 knots and the sun is shining and we don’t get to push off the dock until 4 PM. Such is the life of a boat-a-holic. It is very characteristic of a dog chasing its tail…you figure that one of these days you are going to catch up, but you never really get anywhere. I guess that is why happy hour was invented!

Why did we save all of this crap?


Ok, so this is the year we kick off the cruising plan. All of the serious, major activity starts, and the high level plan looks like this: Sell our primary house and move to the lake house, then sell the lake house and move to the boat, then float on down the lake to someplace warm for the winter.

The good news is that the real estate market is heating up, especially in our neighborhood in Powell; and the properties near us at the lake are also getting snapped up. The first of the bad news was the weather. Winter was horrible and spring was wet and cold. All of the work that needed to be done outside was delayed by several months. Then we started getting the inside of the Powell house ready to show….that is the really bad news. We have lived there for 18 years and we have a SHITLOAD of CRAP!

It wasn’t crap to us when we bought it, and most of it is high quality. It cost us a lot of money in some cases but we are finding that it is crap. We don’t need it for where we are going and the best we can do is store it, sell it for pennies on the dollar, or donate it. Being the practical and frugal people we are, we are finding this to be very difficult to deal with, and we need to get over it – pronto – to get our plan moving!

We follow several blogs of cruising couples and families and have read the entries where they go through the same realization and frustration, but we didn’t realize how much work and anguish is involved until we started doing it. Needless to say we are working our asses off trying to de-clutter and de-crap, and make the house presentable. Hopefully we will have it listed in the next couple of weeks and we can turn our focus to the lake house and boat.

Anybody want to buy some crap?

2012-2013 Recap

Since this blog is really intended to keep friends and family informed of our whereabouts when we actually do start cruising, I haven’t posted anything new in the last couple of years.  The posts up to this point were a combination of practice, giving the blog site a good workout, and also posting a few things about Lake Erie that might benefit other cruisers.

That being said, and in keeping with concepts, I thought I would post an update that highlighted the last few years.

First, I must say that we are enjoying the boat very much.  This was our 3rd year (time flies!) and we have gained much knowledge about how to maintain, sail and maneuver her.  This year we spent some live-aboard time on her while doing some extended trips about Lake Erie.  Tricia cooked some fantastic meals in spite of the Lilliputian stove and oven, and the constraints of a small galley, but I am not surprised.  We have found the boat to be very comfortable and quite livable.

The boat handles the sometimes treacherous state of Lake Erie much better than the crew, and her stability, quality and comfort has shown true in some pretty nasty conditions; even when we were hit by the 70 MPH winds and golf ball sized hail of the July 1, 2012 storm.

Last fall we had the bottom of the boat sandblasted and this spring painted with new barrier coat and antifoul paint that is rated for tropical salt water.  The previous paint was for fresh water only.  Next year we will have the engine inspected again and also the rigging, and the boat should be ready to take to sea.  We also purchased a bigger engine for the dinghy as the 2.5 HP (power boaters called it our “pocket sized motor”) was not going to cut it in the Bahamas or Caribbean Islands, so the future “car” is ready as well.

IB Launch 2013_12

Fresh bottom paint job.

We really enjoyed having our daughters, son-in-laws and grandkids visit the last couple of years.  Seems like they are on their way to becoming seasoned “old salts” and are more sea worthy each year.  Oskar even did some line handling this year!

Sarah Pete Lake 2013 _02Sarah Pete Lake 2013 _03

Sarah Pete Lake 2013 _06Sarah Pete Lake 2013_11


We hit the usual cruising spots the last 2 years, including Put in Bay, Kelleys Island, and our favorite…Vermilion, and we spent 5 days at Put in Bay for the Battle of Lake Erie bicentennial celebration.  It was cool to see the tall ships that stayed in port.  The town was an absolute ZOO during that time period – the most crowded I have ever seen the place – and it was nice having an escape on our mooring in the bay.

We followed the tall ships out to the original battle site just east of West Sister Island (along with several hundred other boats) and got to see some of the reenactment, but it was mostly just massive boat chop (think washing machine) and chaos.  It is the kind of event that brings out the asshole in every skipper.  At least we didn’t pay the fee to have a “preferred viewing spot” – those people really got ripped off.

All in all, a good couple of years.  The boat is ready to take us south when we are able.

Snowfall 2010_11



Hopefully soon…I can’t take any more northern winters!!!


6/19/2011 : Vermilion, Ohio : Coordinates N 41.425288  W 82.362378


The Vermilion River viewed from McGarvey’s Landing

Vermilion is one of our favorite places to visit on Lake Erie.  It is very picturesque, has good docking facilities, good protection from the weather, and many shopping and eating options within walking distance.

The town has maintained its charm and leveraged the waterfront along the Vermilion River and Lake Erie.  In the early 1900s it was one of the only ports along the lake that catered to pleasure craft.  Today there are 3 primary options for transient docking:    Water Works public docks, McGarvey’s Landing (both maintained and managed by the Vermilion Port Authority), and the Vermilion Yacht Club.

As you enter the river from the lake, on the left will be a series of canals lined with homes.  This area is called the Lagoons.  Prior to 1928 this area was a wide beach and marshland.  The area was dredged and lots were plotted to develop a summer home community.  Most if not all of the homes are a cape cod architecture and have water frontage with private docks.  Along the second canal is the Vermilion Yacht Club.  The yacht club has excellent facilities and it is a very quiet place to dock your boat.  The Lagoons has an excellent beach area that is arguably one of the best on Lake Erie.  Nice sand, well maintained and very broad.

It is an easy walk to town center or to the commercial area east of downtown.  There are many restaurants within walking distance, including one of our favorite restaurants – Chez Francois.  Chez is an upscale, gourmet restaurant right on the river.  You can dine inside in a formal atmosphere or eat on the patio overlooking the water in a casual atmosphere.  They also have an excellent bar called Touche which has its own menu, including many items that are also served in the restaurant.  The food and atmosphere are fantastic!  They have several docks that can be used while dining at no charge, so you can bring your boat or you can dinghy over from where you are docked.  The Water Works Port Authority docks are adjacent to the restaurant.

McGarvey’s Landing has dockage along the waterfront of Quaker Steak and Lube.  It is a fun, casual restaurant that is known for their chicken wings.  They have bands on the weekends and it gets pretty crowded.  It can be noisy on the weekends but quiets down after 11 PM.  It is fun to dock there and people watch.

If you walk to the commercial area east of downtown, within 20 minutes you can find grocery stores, pharmacies, West Marine, fast food, various restaurants and a hardware store.

From Memorial Day to Labor Day it is best to call ahead and reserve dockage as it gets very crowded.  If you dock at McGarvey’s Landing make sure you say hello to Sailor, the golden retriever of one of the dock masters.

First Overnight Voyage

6/18/2011 : Put In Bay, Ohio : Coordinates N 41.656641 W 82.820159

Anchored at Put in Bay

Anchored at Put in Bay

After several weeks of day sailing we have worked out the kinks and gotten used to sailing and docking the boat, and we made our first overnight trip starting with Put In Bay. There is an event every year that is coordinated by a Columbus Ohio FM rock station, QFM 96, called the Put In Bay Breakfast Club. QFM 96 broadcasts their morning show from The Boardwalk restaurant on the upper deck and everyone starts drinking at 6 AM. It is usually well attended and always very entertaining. Some friends of ours from Columbus were staying on South Bass Island (where Put In Bay is) and we decided to meet them for the Breakfast Club.

Put In Bay has a history of drunkenness and debauchery that dates back to the late 1800’s and it gets pretty crazy on the weekends at night. The main street downtown is lined with bars and restaurants and some small touristy shops. Beyond the main street there are quite a few residential homes, hotels, B&Bs in addition to other sight seeing things to do. It is actually very cool for Ohio. Ferry service is available from Port Clinton, Sandusky and at the tip of Catawba. There are public docks and mooring buoys for boats to tie up. It is affectionately called “the Key West of the Midwest”. Below are pictures of some of our favorite stops.

The Boardwalk:
PIB 2011 07 04_04 cmpThe Boardwalk offers great waterfront views, fully stocked bars and pretty good food. They have excellent Key West Pinks shrimp and their own recipe for lobster bisque. Outstanding!

PIB Frosty Bar cmpThe Frosty Bar serves cold Labatt Blue drafts in chilled fish bowl glasses and there is always an interesting crowd in there. Their pizza is marginal at best, but somehow it tastes fantastic at midnight after some serious drinking.

Mojito Bay:
PIB Mojito Bay_2 cmpMojito Bay has a cool décor featuring swinging bar seats and a “beach like” sand floor.

Round House:
PIB Round House Bar cmpThe Round House Bar is actually round and has a big crescent shaped bar. They usually feature pretty good bands and there is almost always a crowd. It has an interesting history which you can check out at

We attended the Breakfast Club and afterwards hosted a mid-day happy hour with our friends aboard the boat.

PIB 2011 06 17_09 cmp

The day before, on the trip from Catawba to Put in Bay, we were getting a “low batt” message when trying to engage the autopilot. So we decided to dig in to that and try to get “Otto” working again. Anyone who owns a boat can attest to the fact that being a contortionist is a mandatory prerequisite for ownership, and this became a prime example in spite of the roomy design of Island Packets. We had no luck in finding any loose wires or voltage abnormalities so I will have to call Raymarine and figure out what to do next.

Some other very close friends who live in the Catawba area met us for dinner at Put in Bay, and afterwards we called it a night. Tomorrow we head for Vermillion.