The Final Push

We’re on the road in Western Montana. Headed east. To the boat. Pulling a U-Haul trailer.

My view in the passenger mirror

It was not easy, the sorting, packing, selling, discarding and donating all our stuff.

For the previous months, since retirement, we had with increasing velocity gone through everything we owned to make a decision as to whether it would go to storage, the dump, donation, or the boat.

Fortunately, a connection of ours needed a place to rent semi-furnished for a spell while they get settled into the area and look around for where they want to buy. This meant we didn’t have to deal with some of the furniture right now.

But the process was still hard. We breathed a sigh of relief when we finally drove off after our new tenant, the new pastor of the church Lance retired from, prayed over our trip.

The irises bloomed in time to say “goodbye”

We had hoped to get everything into our Toyota Highlander. We did a trial run loading things a couple days before we left. But, once the two outboard motors, three large fenders, and a guitar were loaded, we could see that there was not going to be room for the black tubs containing our stuff.

Off to U-Haul we went to get a trailer hitch installed and to reserve the smallest trailer they have.

Loading in process.

We didn’t come close to filling the U-Haul, but I have a feeling we are still bringing too much to comfortably fit on the boat.

Fortunately we have two things going for us. One, we’ll still have our car to offload what won’t fit in the boat…and Two, there are still donation, sell and discard opportunities where the boat is!

I want to mention that Facebook Marketplace and the local buy-sell groups were a big help in selling and giving away things. We were not trying for top dollar, so we walked away from every transaction feeling like it was a win-win.

We were able to trade this way-too-big outboard that came with our boat for one that fits our dinghy

Spring Rendezvous 2023…Finally!

There are mermaids all over Norfolk.

We just returned from the AGLCA Spring Rendezvous in Norfolk, VA. What a good time! Here’s the group picture. In case you can’t pick us out, our friend has made it easier for you.

Lots of Loopers. And it was quite cooooold…notice the jackets

We had been trying to get there since 2020, when the pandemic caused it to be cancelled. You can read some of our old posts about what we did instead and about the really outstanding virtual rendezvous that AGLCA produced. (What is plural of rendezvous?)

To get an idea of how much we were looking forward to this, take a look at the award we won: First Registrant! We didn’t even know such a thing existed, but apparently they give an award for the first person to register. Registration opened at 12 noon and our registration posted at 12:04:02. We certainly had it on our calendar, and it was 9am Pacific. Part of the urgency is that we already had our plane tickets and didn’t want to miss out because of it selling out too soon!

One of Brenda’s favorite parts of the week was getting to actually meet people she has seen on the forums or YouTube…some for years. We came home with a handful of boat cards from people we met.

Malcolm and Rachel, YouTubers from Canada
Herb Seaton in plaid and Captain Chris in yellow.

The route briefings covered from Norfolk, through Canada, the Great Lakes, and down to where the fall rendezvous will be held on the inland rivers.

While we were in the area and had a rental car, we did some road tripping. We flew into Raleigh, NC and on the way to Norfolk we stopped by Elizabeth City and the Dismal Swamp. We met a Looper there who had purchased his boat about the same time and place we bought ours. By same place, I mean, he bought the boat on Lake Superior in Washburn, the same place our boat is now. He even had a map of Chequamegon Bay on the table in his flybridge. In Elizabeth City we stopped by Lamb’s Marina and met Linda on Faith.

On the way back to Raleigh, we swung down to New Bern, NC to check out opportunities for moorage there next winter.

On the way to New Bern, we stopped by Coinjock to see the dock there and had a nice lunch out on the patio. I felt I needed to see the marina that is used as a verb when describing docking; “We Coinjock you in on the wall”…meaning they walk the boats close together on the wall so there is no wasted room.

Coinjock Marina and Restaurant

We did a little loop from New Bern down to take a ferry across the Neuse River and stopped by Oriental. We saw the free dock and talked to a man who looped a few years ago. On the way back to Raleigh, still near New Bern, we followed a small sign for “Fairfield Harbour”. Turns out it is just a resort/subdivision, but includes a marina, Northwest Creek Marina. We were very excited about what we saw there and have penciled in our names at that marina for the winter.

Ferry across the Neuse River, North Carolina
Oasis Marinas at Northwest Creek, New Bern, NC
We hope to stay here this winter

Last Round-trip Road Trip

We took an end of March/early April road-trip to the boat for boat tasks while it was still on the hard. Next road trip will be one-way!

We went with a long to-do list. Some things HAD to be done while the boat was out of the water, so those came first:

  • Anodes on the prop shafts, trim tabs, and transom. Also the engine anodes were replaced, although that can be done in the water or out.
  • Careful measurements of props to ground, of keel to ground, of water-line to ground, of bow pulpit to ground. This lets us calculate how far under the water the prop actually is. The prop is the lowest point on the boat, so we want to know how deep the water needs to be.
Found a spot for this gorgeous painting by a friend of ours.

Other tasks included:

  • Installation of new VHF radio.
  • Installation of AIS (Automated Identification System) that will let our boat transmit location and see location of other boats
  • Installation of NEBO – a boat log tracker/share location piece of electronics
  • Installation of Actisense gizmo that should let our old auto-pilot talk to the not-as-old chartplotter
  • Installation of Victron shunt that lets us see how many amps are coming out of the house battery and what the state of charge is
  • Put shut-off valve on the fresh water tank
  • Took out old (circa 1999) radio/casette player near side of bed and installed USB chargers
  • Installed wireless doorbell – to communicate from flybridge to the salon. One ring means “Hold on, there is a wake!” – Two rings means “Come up here, please.”
  • Installed new starboard transmission cap and filter.
  • Took a lot of miscellaneous tools and other stuff and found space for it.
  • Removed the built in vacuum cleaner to free up some storage space.
  • Measured bimini for future solar panels.

The building the boat is in remains a steady 54 degrees. But outside was a different story.

It was a cold trip, with cold winds blowing snow around and blizzard warnings for on the way home. We dipped south to cross through South Dakota because Interstate 94 in North Dakota was closed due to blizzard conditions. It was fun to see some new territory and wildlife.

We saw hundreds of pheasant, swans, sandhill cranes, antelope, deer and one lone coyote. We got an Audible subscription and listened to Corrie TenBoom’s “The Hiding Place”.

Just TWO MONTHS to go

Mid-March 2023 – Washburn Marina, Washburn, Wisconsin – No boating today!

We’ve been retired for a little over two months, and it is less than two months until we head back to Wisconsin to start our Great Loop.

People ask when we’re leaving and our response is “When the ice melts!” Last year there was still some ice in the marina on May 8, which was later than normal. Looking at this picture from the marina web cam (notice the height of the plowed snow next to the car), it looks like it probably won’t be an early spring.

But not to worry, we’ve been keeping busy. After a January road trip to California and Arizona where we visited 14 different relatives in three states, we have been working feverishly to get the house ready to rent out. More and more feverishly as the time grows closer!

In between trips to Home Depot to get painting supplies and trips to Goodwill to drop of the results of downsizing, we’ve been able to squeeze in a few boat related goodies.

Boat Show

At the Seattle Boat show, we bought an AIS transponder and ordered a new VHF radio.

AIS stands for Automated Identification System and is a technology that let’s other boats and ships see our position and let’s us see theirs. Boat information such as name, size, and direction and speed of travel is transmitted to the system.

The boat did not come with AIS and the VHF radio on the boat would sometimes work and sometimes not. The VHF is a critical piece of safety equipment and was a no-brainer to buy. The AIS is a nice-to-have piece of safety equipment and a nice upgrade to our boat.

The next step is to try to get them all installed and talking to the other equipment on the boat.

Boat Cards

Boat cards are handed out to other boaters you meet over the course of your journey.

Since on the loop, you and all the other boats doing the loop are going in the same general direction in the same general time frame, you will likely see each other a time or two along the way. With over 200 boats doing the loop, the boat cards help you keep everyone straight.

We are excited to finally have our cards. We’ve already given out a few at our boating club and a class we are taking.

Radar class

One of the first things we did 11 years ago after joining the America Great Loop Cruisers Association was to join the Tacoma chapter of the United States Power Squadron/America’s Boating Club. We joined for the education and also have made great friends. Lance has been an instructor for a couple of different classes for much of the time we’ve been members.

When the Radar class was offered this winter, we jumped on it. Our boat came with an older radar system, but we didn’t know much about it.

We know a lot more now!

Retirement is here! Now what?

Picture of our boat, Blessings Flow

As our retirement is here and we say goodbye, we’ve had a lot of questions from friends about our plans. I thought it would be good to write a post to answer some of the questions. You may have heard a bit here or there, so this blog post is to give an overall picture of what we hope to do in the next couple of years and to clear up a couple of misconceptions.

Yes. There is a boat involved.

Continue reading “Retirement is here! Now what?”

2022 Summer on the Boat

Well, our “summer” on the boat was really more like two weeks. But it was a jam-packed two weeks full of boat chores, getting to know dock neighbors – including AGLCA harbors hosts – and the big event, welcoming training captains Scott and Karen DeVoll on board for a full curriculum of line handling, boat systems, close-quarter manuevering, docking, anchoring and more.

Fitting out the new dinghy
Continue reading “2022 Summer on the Boat”

Where are they now? Sam & Rev, What Yacht to Do

When I first “discovered” Sam and Rev in September 2019, they were three months into their first Great Loop and just starting on their YouTube adventure. They had a whopping 613 subscribers hoping to reach 1000! Today? 10.9 THOUSAND subscribers. [Sam tells me they get ~8 subscribers a day, so that 10.9 will be 11 in short order.] I would say they definitely have reached “influencer” status.

Continue reading “Where are they now? Sam & Rev, What Yacht to Do”