Saturday, August 14, 2010

Decisions are a coming...

Sunset over Lake Champlain from Burlington, VT

As of around 10 this morning, we have to move out of our house by September 1st.  No, it didn't sell.  We rented it.

We put it up on Craigslist last weekend and on Tuesday night we showed it to a group of young guys, about our age actually, who we have ended up renting it to.  We put it up for rent on a whim, just to see if there was any interest.  There was no need for us to sign today, other than to give us incentive to get moving.  To shake off the rust brought on by the stagnation of the past few months.

So what next?

Option 1) My work has offered me a transfer to Burlington, VT.  We have an office there that has loads of potential to grow, and they see me as someone who could grow it.  This option has a lot going for it:  Burlington is a great town, there are good cruising grounds there where we could hone our skills in the next year or two, I'd have the potential to make more money.

Option 2) Move to the Caribbean.  I know, its kind of like cheating to just move there without getting a boat and cruising there, right?  But we were talking about it and thought, why the heck not?  It's easy to move to the USVI, and if we go down in October/November there are bound to be plenty of job openings in the tourist industry.  Fun stuff like being a mate on a sailboat.  Or maybe we start our own little business.

Obviously option 1 is the safe option and option 2 is the "what the f**k do you kids think you are doing?" option.  But life is short, we (probably) only get one shot, so we have to figure out what is really going to make us happy.

No one can give us permission to go with either option except ourselves.  We just have to have the courage to sign that permission slip and hand it to the principal and go...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Coastal Cruising - Part 1

"Here, you'd better put these on" said Errol, our sailing instructor from the International Sailing School in Mallets Bay, VT, as he handed our life vests up from the companionway.  We were about two hours into our three day live-aboard sailing class on Lake Champlain and the weather had turned a bit "snotty".  We were taking four to six foot waves on the beam in a steady 25 knot southerly wind as we made our way across the broadest part of Lake Champlain towards Valcour Island to find an anchorage for the first night out.  I was having the time of my life.

A few hours before we had boarded our boat for the weekend, Wildair, a 1985 Beneateau First 305 (32' LOA) on her mooring in Mallets Bay, VT.  After getting our gear stowed we had a briefing on the important boat systems, like the head and engine, before getting under way.  Mallets Bay is a nice protected bay just North of Burlington, VT, with land all around and an old railroad jetty, that is now a bike path, protecting the Western edge of the bay from the conditions on the broad lake.

Mallets Bay
After motoring out of the mooring field we quickly raised our mainsail and started towards the break in the jetty on a beam reach.  The wind continued to build as we made our way West towards the broad lake.  We hove to a mile or so before going through the break and put a reef in the main and pulled some of the genoa in.

Dark n' Stormy

As we went through the break in the jetty we put Wildair through a quick jibe to avoid some shallows, and after heading North for a bit on a broad reach we came back onto a beam reach and made for Valcour Island, a State Park on the NY side of the lake with several good anchorages, and famous for being the site of the U.S. Navy's first defeat at the hands of the British.  As Benedict Arnold managed to sneak the remaining U.S. ships past the British blockade in an early morning fog, the British gave chase and their commander ordered them to fire on the fleeing rebels.  Luckily for the Americans, the British spent the morning shelling an island they mistook for the rebel fleet.  The island is today called 'Carleton's Prize' after the British commander who gave the order.  Rust marks from the British cannonballs are still visible on the rock faces of the island:

'Carleton's Prize' from Wikipedia
As we approached the Southern end of Valcour, we fell off the wind onto a broad reach to investigate the three possible anchorages on the Eastern shore of the island.  As we approached each one we discovered that they were all full, which was not expected given that it was early on a Friday afternoon.  However given the rough conditions on the broad lake, it is understandable, we were only one of three boats that I could spot out on the water during our approach to Valcour.

I must confess that before taking this course I was a little worried about seasickness.  As we headed back out into the whitecaps on the broad lake the thought popped into my head that I was feeling fine, actually I was feeling more alive than I had in a while.  When Errol suggested we head upwind "just for fun and to get a little wet", I enthusiastically brought the boat up to a close haul and watched the water spray across the foredeck.

Our "Plan B" for an anchorage on Friday night was halfway back across the lake at the Northwestern tip of Providence Island.  After a short hop back through the rough water we approached the lee of island and put the motor on to go in and investigate the anchorage.  There was only one other boat there and we quickly found a spot to anchor.
Notice the whitecaps past the point of land?
Anchorage at Providence Island
The rest of the night was spent cooking a delicious dinner of pork loin, salad, and rice, and helping Errol to troubleshoot some of the wiring for the anchor light on Wildair.  Errol had just brought the boat up from South of Annapolis, MD, and had had to drop the mast to come up the Champlain Canal.  Honestly, one of the reasons we chose the International Sailing School was that they are one of the lowest cost (and closest) options of schools that I researched, as such, we weren't on a brand new 40+ foot boat.  But actually that is was an unexpected bonus for us, since we spent the class aboard a boat that is in our size and price range, so we got to experience the "repair your boat in exotic anchorages" part of cruising.

After a great nights sleep in Wildair's v-berth we awoke to a sunny morning and much calmer conditions.  After a breakfast of fruit and granola, some chart study, and a navigation lesson, we decided to head North up the lake past Plattsburgh, NY and onto the "inland sea" section of Lake Champlain.

Much calmer
Looking out to the cockpit
Chart work and Breakfast
More to follow...