Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Counting down

Recently some of our sailing friends posted on their blog that their countdown had finally gone below 100 days, reaching double digits, and they were feeling somewhere between elation and panic.  As you can see by the screen shot, today our timer hit single digits, and strangely I share the elation, but am thankfully missing the panic.

Two years ago when we returned from a four month "shakedown cruise" to Alaska I knew I wanted to see more of the area, and to do more traveling by boat.  Twelve years before that, on my first attempt to sail to Alaska, both the area and the mode of travel left me wanting more.  My desire to explore has been with me as long as I can remember, and the idea of traveling by sailboat has stuck in my head since reading books about the sailing lifestyles of the Smeetons, Hiscocks and other early pioneer "cruising sailors".  That trip twelve years ago taught me a lot; sailing skills, boat maintenance, navigation challenges, interpersonal relationship issues, financial responsibility, the list is long and varied.  Some may argue that quitting jobs and leaving on an open-ended vacation with minimal savings shows I haven't learned much in the financial responsibility category, but I feel like my sailing, navigation, and maintenance and repair skills are certainly much better than they were.  As for interpersonal relationships, the tensions and challenges of preparing for  a life change like this can be a struggle, but I feel like Nicole is not only up to the challenge, but together we compliment each others strengths and weaknesses to make a good team.
Guess I better quit wasting time in front of the computer and get back to the "to do before we leave" list, time seems to be running out.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Provisioning-Round One

For me there is nothing that makes trip preparation more real than that first big food purchase.  Yesterday Nicole took the day off of work, and we proceeded to visit two of the local Costco stores.  We found from provisioning for our trip two years ago that each Costco carries a different variety of food, some very different from others, so it's best to visit several locations for variety.  People say you should never shop for food on an empty stomach, but when your shopping trip cover half a day and spans several meal times I don't think it matters.  Little surprises really make a difference in keeping spirits high for these trips, so when we realized that the case of beer we deliberated over was never scanned at the checkout, we both left the parking lot a little happier.  Of all the free food you can sample walking the aisles of Costco, I'm pretty sure the free cases of beer will always be my favorite.
We have a somewhat unorthodox method of shopping, we wander up and down every aisle and whatever looks appetizing, we buy.  Having provisioned for a similar trip on a 29 foot boat, I appreciate the carrying capacity of our heavy boat and never worry about the extra weight, but trying to find space for 21 cases of canned goods and another dock cart full of other food items is taxing our creativity on where to put everything.  We stow our canned goods in top loading lockers low in the boat to keep the heavy things as close to the bottom of the boat as possible for better balance.  Once the cans are loaded in the lockers there is no way to see their labels, so we mark the tops of each can with a marker.  Hours of unwrapping and marking tend to make me a bit punchy and I get creative with my marker descriptions, so luckily there are just two of us to later decipher what "T MTR SP" means.   Half a day of shopping, and hours of removing packaging, marking cans, and stowing things in various lockers, and by midnight we were back to being able to move through the boat, and more importantly, get to our bed for a well-deserved rest.