A Photo Tribute to Moonrise

I’m beginning to feel terrified. We have all these plans, and they all hinge on the releasing of attachments to land based things for awhile so we can go and see the world. You see, our children are more well-traveled than we are, and we just cannot let that stand. We want to go to Mexico, and Central America, and down the coast of South America, even to Antarctica. We want to go to the South Pacific, to New Zealand, and to the Great Barrier Reef. We want to sail in Europe and around the British Isles. And being the kind of people we are, we want to go to those places on our own terms and stay away from the touristy crowds. We’ve already established that Moonrise isn’t going to be our world traveling boat.  So now, I’m getting terrified because we’ve put her up for sale. We’re about to be boatless, and we don’t know when, or for how long. Yikes! If you are not a sailor, it’s hard to help you understand just how bad that’s going to feel.

It's hard to get shots like this if you don't have a boat.

You cannot get to this awesome sea cave without a boat.

Being boatless means I won't be able to see things like this, which make life worthwhile. I don't want to go whale watching with 40 strangers in orange jumpsuits for 1 hour. I want to spend the whole day watching them from the deck of my boat.

Part of our preparation for the cunning plan has been purging the house of extraneous stuff and this has forced us to reckon with the idea of ‘sunk costs’. You know: the costs you’ll never recover,  like the fact that we bought something for 1500$ and then sold it for $500. That 1000$ difference is just gone. Poof! When Mike began to tally up all the time and money we’ve spent on Moonrise in the four years we’ve owned her, it became crystal clear that we were going to have to find a way to accept the energy we’ve sunk into her as just par for the course. It would have been great if we had known when we bought her that we would someday want to sail the world and needed a boat designed for blue water. But life has a way of being messier than that, and we wouldn’t have been ready to buy such a boat at that time.  So what do we have to show for those sunk costs?

Plenty. When we bought Moonrise we were still pretty novice sailors. Having Moonrise allowed us to gain skills in ways we would never have done on the Saucy Sue (our Catalina 27). Different boats are made for different things. We sailed in conditions we would have shied away from on the Sue, just because Moonrise made us feel safe and secure. We learned we could sail in 30 knots of wind and 10 foot waves, at night, to cross the Strait of Juan de Fuca. You would have had to hog tie me to the mast to get me to do that on a 27 foot Catalina. Then you would have had to clean up after me. Not pretty.

Mike, fueling up for his turn at the wheel during the night crossing.

Three reefs on the main, just a tiny jib up. Everyone harnessed to the boat, no one allowed on deck. We did three hour watches, two people in the cockpit, one below napping.

Andrew at the wheel during the night crossing, checking the compass heading. Don't ask about the scrub brush behind him.

We learned how to work as a crew together.

Mike and Andrew trim the sail. I'm at the wheel.

And we learned how to use our cruising spinnaker.

On days like this, I think Moonrise is the prettiest boat on the water.

While Saucy Sue was a great racer and day sailer, I would not have traveled extensively on the Sue. She just was not a comfortable boat.  Moonrise is the perfect coastal cruiser. We took extended trips on Moonrise, with her comfortable cabin and sleeping arrangements and complete galley. She encouraged us to venture further each year. We were soon learning to anchor in places the guidebooks didn’t talk about, until we finally braved the Pacific side of Vancouver Island and Barkley Sound.

Nothing but big Pacific ahead.


The foggy west coast of Vancouver Island.

One of those anchorages that is not in the guidebooks.

Sailing experience is not all we gained for those ‘sunk costs’. We also gained experience working on boats. Moonrise has a lot more to offer her new owners than she did us. We’ve learned how to ‘remodel’ the boat interior, and how to not be too mortified at the idea of cutting into fiberglass and wood. Mike, especially, has really cut his teeth on Moonrise when it comes to working on boat systems and improving them. We know, now, how to have a boat hauled out and how to sand and paint the bottom ourselves.

Moonrise's lovely bottom.

As hard as it is to look at the tally sheet of expenditures on this boat, how much would it have cost us to have someone teach us these things? How would that even be possible? No, I feel sure that this is money well spent in the end. Sure, we are selling the boat, but we are not selling our experiences, our learning. We get to keep those. And we have the memories of being on this boat together in places we would not have seen otherwise.  And those are priceless.


12 thoughts on “A Photo Tribute to Moonrise

  1. I am so happy to read that you have come to that conclusion yourself. I too have parted with things for far less than I paid for them and have been tempted to kick myself for spending the money in the first place but then I remember how much pleasure owning the item gave me, or how much use I got out of it, or – even if I didn’t use it much – I had it there if I needed it all that time. For you to take from your boat all of the things you have learned and the fabulous experiences you have had is really priceless (like the MasterCard ad says). You can’t put a price on joy.

    And yes, I do understand how hard it is to be ‘boatless’. Although I haven’t had what you’ve had, my ex in-laws did have a nice cabin cruiser for a decade or so and when they sold it I was bereft. And I haven’t really been on a boat since. I did go on a day sail in the BVI but I certainly haven’t overnighted and oh how I miss that gentle rocking and the sound of waves slapping the hull in the V-berth right by my head as I drift off into sleep. I can’t wait to have that experience again.

  2. That’s what we’re counting on, Chere!
    Sandra, it sounds like you might like living on a boat, or at least weekending on one. I hope you live somewhere near the water! Anyone who loved the sound of waves lapping against the hull should waste no time in getting onto a boat, for sure.

  3. I don’t know if this still exists, but it’s worth checking into in case you find yourself boatless. WWU used to have a nice boating program at Lk. Whatcom. Getting use of one of their day sailers used to just require a skills check and about $2 to rent a boat for a while. Hubby and I spent a few lovely afternoons floating around the lake when he was at WWU. (He grew up in, on, and around both sail and power boats. )

  4. Andrew is a student at WWU and I can attest they do still have boats on Lake Whatcom. They are pretty cheap for students. We have encouraged him to go out on some this spring and see what he thinks.

  5. Yes..We know very well the feeling of getting less for things than we paid. It’s almost like we feel it’s losing wealth. But it’s these times that make me question what makes something have value. What is value. Is it monetary worth? Letting go of items that you attach a monetary value to, but don’t need and don’t fit with the plan you have is a good exercise in trying to get to the heart of life..to me anyways.

    To get rid of most possessions and go sailing or go voyaging to experience great happiness has alot of value. You cannot take the possessions with you (sailing or to the afterlife). Some people never were as fortunate as you or I to even accumulate those items in the first place. I like to think about how fortunate I was to have even had those things for a time, even if I lose “money” when I let them go.

    Goodluck selling your boat! I hope you find one that will take her place. Great pics by the way..I hope we get to see whales and orcas out at sea..what an awesome sight!

  6. You are very right about the ‘value’ issue and wealth. We do feel like we’ve been blessed in our lives in so many ways, and that does make it easier to let go of things. It’s wonderful for you and Tate that you’ve discovered this fairly early in your lives. For me, it’s been more of a karmic lesson.
    Much of our focus on losing the money comes from being at a place where we’d both like to retire, or at least take a sabbatical, but not being the financial position to do so, and at the same time being at an age where you really begin to feel the brevity of life on earth. It begins to feel urgent to get out there and do these things before it’s too late. If we’d not spent money on things that, ultimately, we don’t need, we’d be in a better position to do that now. Some of those things enriched our lives and were money well spent, some…not so much.
    Oh well! It will happen none the less!
    Hey, hope you and Tate get to sail to an island for your honeymoon! And you will certainly see whales once you get out on the sea. Or, sail up here and we’ll show you where they are!

  7. Yes, I can see where you are coming from. Being later in life your possessions do have more value…we have so many years to work after we get back..

    I hope you find what you are looking for and get a good deal. It’s definitely a buyer’s market for boats right now. That could be good or bad for you since you are selling one.

  8. Thanks! Yep, it’s still a buyer’s market up here, at least for awhile. I understand things are picking up, but they generally do right after the big Seattle boat show, which is at the end of the month. My mantra is ‘you don’t need to hurry, you don’t need to hurry’, and, of course, we have to sell our boat first, which, as you say, makes us on the other end of that deal. It all evens out in the end, though.

  9. For me, the money we put into the boat has been much easier to deal with when I came to the conclusion that we weren’t going to get any of it back. We might be able to get the same price on the boat but not a thing for any upgrades. It becomes difficult when people look at a boat as an investment, which it most certainly isn’t. It’s an experience, like you said, and one that’s impossible to tally up in a ledger.

    Oh, and those photos are amazing! Thanks for reminding me why we are doing this.

  10. You’re welcome! The experiences that generated those photos were amazing experiences. And I want more of them.

    So right. Boats are not investments, except when it comes to the quality of your life.

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