The Year of Spending Dangerously

Apparently this is the year we will be spending gobs of money getting this boat ready to take off.  When we bought this boat, we knew what we had. A fixer-upper. That means improving and replacing systems and all the other projects that come with a refit for an extended voyage. We knew we would be spending some heavy cash to make that happen. But we did think we were leaving in 2017. Spread out over what was another 3 1/2 years at the time we purchased Galapagos, we figured we would just do a little at a time.

Seems like it’s worth it to get more of this in exotic locations.

Now that we’ve moved the date of departure up by a year, and we are getting a little excited about that for sure, the squeeze is on to pay for things faster. Good thing Mike has always been a good money manager.  And also good thing, thanks be to God and Grandmas, we have some help with college tuition. Almost done with this one!  I keep my day job for now. These next 17 months are going to fly by.  This will definitely be the year of spending dangerously.

January in Seattle is the month people begin to get excited about boat season being ‘just around the corner’. (Which means only 5 more months. We love our boating in the Pacific Northwest.) In celebratory anticipation, we get this huge boat show at the end of the month. We get to see boats afloat on Lake Union, and then we get the free shuttle bus to the really over-stimulating, loud and exhausting part in Century Link Field. Mike and I were in extremely high spirits getting to spend the day together looking at boaty stuff and spending hard earned cash.

This from a 1982 Shannon pilothouse we looked at on Lake Union at the floating part of the show. Nice boat. But we like ours better.

On our list this year were many of the things we still need to install on Galapagos to make this plan viable for us. Your mileage may vary on your own boat, but we want refrigeration, a self-steering mechanism for those long ocean passages, radar for the fog and night time, and an SSB radio so we can email friends and family at home and get weather reports. We need a different dinghy and we also need to decide if we will bother carrying a life raft.

You know, it’s more than a little amusing to notice how immune one gets to the high prices on these kinds of things. A few thousand for this, a few thousand for that. Then we see the sticker on the lifeboat and say, ‘Oh, it’s only 2000$ for the 4 person life raft. That’s not bad at all.’ My how our perspectives change. We’ll see where we stand on the life raft issues after the first round of spending.

That’s already quite a list but there is one more thing.  Deep in the dark recesses of my fearful little heart I have harbored a strong desire for a bow thruster; a desire that boarders on lust. No pun intended. As we walked by the booth showcasing these things, I sent my desire-vibes wafting over in Mike’s direction in such a way that I won’t be surprised if Santa brings me one early, sometime before we leave. The model we’re looking at, called Yacht Thruster,  is installed on the outside of the hull so does not require a large hole that then has to be fiber-glassed in. I saw them at the show last year many is the fine moment I have spent fantasizing about having one for Galapagos. These moments of fantasy happen each and every time we pull into and out of the slip. With Moonrise, our Cal 34, Mike would just give the bow a little shove and we’d be pointed in the right direction for backing. To do that to Galapagos is like trying to flick a flea off a horse. She never even notices the effort. She will not be nudged. Nope. She is 23 tons of stubborn that way. (By the way, word is that these do not bother your sailing performance.)

Here you go.

Here you go. A grainy phone photo.

What joy could be mine with one of these babies busily fending all 23 tons of Galapagos off the neighboring boat as we pull out of the slip! What rapture I would feel as we make way straight as an arrow, perpendicular to strong current that is trying to push our girl into the stern of the boat to starboard! ! Of course, this is a ‘Want’, not a ‘Need’, but I’m practicing saying ‘Yes’ to my whole-hearted ‘wants’ lately. If you have one like this, let us know how you like it before we pull the trigger on it, okay? We cannot afford to install the other kind where you make huge tunnels in the bow of your boat and then re-fiberglass the whole thing. Shudder.  With all the crazy spending we have to do this year,  it’s this kind or nothing. And these are made with the do-it-yourself type in mind. That’s us!

Although we didn’t find all the great deals we were hoping would be at the show, we did walk away having put a deposit on a new Hydrovane as our chosen self-steering device for long passages when we don’t want to run the auto pilot. Mike is completely jazzed about this and I’m glad to have the decision made, and to be working with a company that apparently has great customer service. This kind of vane was the logical choice for our boat because we have a glorious steel swim step that would require expensive modification to support installing one of the servo-pendulum type units. We also have hydraulic steering, so units like the Monitor do not work as well for us. These have a great reputation, are dead simple, and we avoid the double line to the cockpit of the servo-pendulum types.

And as an added message from the Universe telling us we are making the right choice, the owner of this company knows our boat! That’s right! We are amazed at how many people we run into that know our boat already. I guess, considering that she has been in the Pacific Northwest almost her entire life, that shouldn’t be a surprise. But it continues to astound us. The owner of the company bought another boat from the previous owner of our boat and is familiar with Galapagos already! So his knowledge is not only broad in terms of his product and sailing, but also in terms of our specific boat. Outstanding! Sold!

I love this folding sink, found on the Shannon pilothouse. It reminds me of one on S/V Odyssey. It’s salty as heck.

We came just this close to putting money down on a new dinghy and we probably should have just done it.  Our little Walker Bay dinghy, as much as I like it for around here, isn’t going to cut the mustard for us on the long voyage. At the show we saw an Achilles HB 300 FX rigid inflatable with a fold-down transom. It’s Hyperlon, and with the transom that folds down, it fits into a storage bag so it will take up less room on deck. I thought it was perfect. Mike wasn’t sure. We did the ‘Google’ and found that the price, which was right at 3000$ if we drove to Portland to get it, was about what we would pay other places. If you have a dinghy you particularly love, shout it out before we buy this one. We don’t know how much time these things take to inflate, deflate, and store. We just know we would prefer to a) not have the dinghy hanging from davits while on passage so an inflatable makes sense  b) not have a big dinghy taking up all the space on the bow during passage c) we are really going to miss being able to row. And we are not crazy about the Portabotes so those are not in the running. Also 8 feet or 10? I’m thinking 10 because who knows if we will get visitors aboard? But 8 may be adequate. Thoughts, anyone?

The dinghy is one thing. But refrigeration is the next big project and we plan to do something about that when we haul out this spring. But what to do? That is the big question. So, as with all big questions, we turn to the previous owner. Did we tell you how we met him? He’s the owner who put a ton of money into this boat in the 1980’s and then sailed her to New Zealand, as I recall. We were anchored off of Portland Island last summer and he saw the boat from over by Sidney, B.C. and recognized it from that far away! It was the color of the hull. All their family boats had been that color.

I’d really love this kind of refrigerator door. I think this is on the Malo Classic that was built for Nigel Calder. It’s for sale and at the show. It’s a lovely boat, and has great refrigeration. Where do I get this kind of equipment?

So he and his wife tootled over to say hi in their big and luxurious trawler! They cozied up to us in the anchorage and we had a nice visit and made new friends. He loved this boat and we could tell it was still hard for him that he had to sell her years ago. We understand how emotional it can be to give up a beloved boat. And we are so happy that we met him and his wife, and that we have yet another friendly previous owner to contact about Galapagos. So Mike emailed him.

Apparently the refrigeration has always been an issue on Galapagos and his suggestion, which, by the way, I believe is a wise one, is to rip out the whole thing and start over. Yep. That’s probably the best course of action here.

Here’s the inside. Nice!

Also looking at these:

This is on a new Hunter. You know what? I like my boat better. Except that this is a cool fridge.

Fisheries Supply carries the line of Isotherm fridge and freezer drawers. I like the concept of a drawer, but if you will notice in the photo, this one has a full side to it, which means you get to use all the space vertically as well as on the footprint of the drawer. The ones we saw by Isotherm have short little sides, which seems like a complete waste of perfectly good space to me. The one in the photo is by Vitrifrigo and is on a new Hunter sailboat, which I did not like as well as I like my own boat. Thoughts?

So that’s the next project. And it’s going to be a doozy. The year of spending dangerously has begun.

Major teaser photo from an actual boat we actually saw and actually went on board. I am not making this up. This is one half of a boat galley. Post in the works!

I know! Right???



31 thoughts on “The Year of Spending Dangerously

  1. I know!! I can hemorrhage money on the boat and not think twice. How big is your Walker Bay? That is really what I ideally want. One for the sailing rig for my teenage son and for the rowing. I suspect we will get inflatable though. I have sailed with Holly Scott (she is on WWWS and she inflates/deflates her dinghy every trip. It works well but rows like a dog, she says.

    • Our Walker Bay is an older model and eight feet long. We love this dinghy because it is very light and rows beautifully. We looked at one of the newer models of this boat with the inflatable flotation ring and a sailing rig. It might make a pretty good dinghy for cruising but the capacity won’t ever match an inflatable.

      Since we have never owned an inflatable and we do really like to row, this decision has been a bit harder for us than it ought to be. But I know that in more remote parts of the world, having a high capacity dink with an engine that can push through the chop will be essential.

    • Hilary, our Walker Bay is an 8 foot model and it’s really too small. Balancing two people in a dinghy of that kind of always an exercise in patience. We love the boat as it is fun to row for one person. But whenever we have to both get in the dinghy to row to shore, along with our inevitable bags of stuff, or groceries coming back, we realize it’s not really the right choice for an active cruising lifestye. I would love the have the sailing set up for ours. Then it would be just a fun little sailboat around the bay. Yes, the inflatables just are not for rowing. We wish we could have our cake and eat it too, as it were. But that’s unlikely in the case of the dinghy.

  2. I suppose I don’t really get a vote but I really like the idea of the fridge drawers. Seems eminently practical for someone who wants to go brave the ocean blue. It seems like it would keep everything contained. If you took a wave a bit wrong, nothing could really fall over or out of the drawer-or if it did, it would still be contained IN the drawer. (I’m assuming there’s a latch as well?) That seems better than something that opens in the front where anything that fell over could topple out later….but then, I’m not a sailor (though I have done overnights on a cabin cruiser in Puget Sound in February…)

    • I like the idea of drawers as well, but we must find some that use the space well if we go that route. We will post more about the fridge project as things develop. Generally boat fridges are top loading, and deep, so we call getting something out of the bottom ‘dumpster diving’. This is an efficient way to keep things cold, and generally you can store a lot. But getting to things is a pain in the butt. All front loading or drawer fridges have locking drawer and doors, some of them quite stout. We have friends in the marina who have a fridge that was custom built for their boat. I envy that fridge. It opens from the front and the door is hell for stout.

  3. I cannot believe you two did not come home from that magnificent boat show with at least a dingy, Did You even get a flag,at least?

    • We got something even better: that Hydrovane! It will steer the boat for us on long passages at sea, freeing us up from being wheel slaves. At least that’s the idea.

  4. I am SO with you on all of this. The lust for an item that is a definite want not need (for me its a new galley), the knots in the stomach as you spend gobs of cash on equipment ( HOW much?), the search for a dinghy option that will work and those refrigeration drawers. Oh oh how I dream of drawers. Alas, it is not to be this year but like you, I am giving up a lot of wants in order to get the heck off the dock.
    Oh and I think you could manage just fine without a bow thruster given time, space and more time to work the kinks out but I fully support you getting one anyway. These boats take up so much time and money, if a piece of equipment will make you enjoy Galapagos more, then go ahead and do it. Isn’t that why Mother Nature blessed us with 2 kidneys and not just one? 😉

    • Indeed! We DO have an extra kidney! Perhaps that is what will be required in order to get all the things checked off this list. We know we do not have to have the perfect boat before we leave, in that we are both willing to give some stuff up to make it happen sooner.

  5. I really enjoy your writing style. The post on ” Time ” was very good! A lot of what you write applies to my wife and I. Turned 60 in July and had my very first ever health care scare. Made us reevaluate everything. We have made the decision to ” GO ” this fall or early 2016. We are getting ready to spend ” Boat Money ” on a refit so we will follow along closely to your adventure. BTW, look at ” SIDESHIFT ” bow and stern thrusters.
    I think that is what we are going with. Good luck and keep writing these great post they are certainly appreciated, JC

    • Thank you for your nice comment! Welcome aboard with the rest of the readers. I would love to know more about your boat and where you guys are and I certainly appreciate the fear of mortality that comes with both turning 60 and with having a health scare of any kind. Our original plan had us leaving just as I turn 59. I was not a fan of that one little bit. It just seemed wrong somehow, to leave that late. Fair winds to you in your planning and travels, may you spend less than you think you will, and come back to visit us here. Oh, and thanks or the tip on the thrusters. We will check them out.

  6. Melissa, get the biggest dinghy and engine you can carry on the boat 10 ft ( has bigger tubes and a lot dryer)and 15 hp 4 stroke (they usually use the same engine for 9.9 and 15 so no more weight but extra hp)will be something you give thanks for in the future. Also, it is SIDNEY, not SYDNEY. And just my two bits worth on the thruster, ask someone who has spent a year or two in Mexico or South Pacific how many times they stayed in a marina let alone wished they had a bow-thruster, maybe not so much, and who is going to fix it when it stops working. I have heard good things about Hydrovanes , good going.

    Tom of Sidney, BC

    • Arrgh! I always misspell Sidney. I’ll try to do better next time. Good advice on the dinghy and engine combo. We are very likely to go with the larger size. The jury is out on the bow thruster. In my women’s sailing group, filled with cruisers all over the world, those who have them love them and wouldn’t give them up. Those who don’t have them get along without them. We shall see. No decisions yet. Around here, it would be great to have. But you are right. We do not plan to stay in many marinas.

  7. What happens to that odd bowthruster when you hit a log, or other flotsam? Will it get caught up in a Mexican long-line? (yes). Looks very dicey to me.

    Spending lots of money before leaving: oh, we know all about that. Mostly we are happy that we will have alk these things on Pelagia (except, perhaps the Hydrovane, but at least our installation still left us a useable swim grid). One caution: a significant % of cruisers (including us) decide cruising Mexico is “enough” and either stay there or return home (with or, often without boat). Of the others, the vast majority are home permanently after 2-3 years. So, are you sure you want to spend so much.?

    Dinghy: We like a clean deck, especially when sailing at night, so we purchased an air floor Achilles (LSI 7-8 FT?) and are very happy with it. Would really like a hard rowing dinghy (actually, the Achilles rows pretty well) but no way I want that on deck for passages (each to their own) – – perhaps when we get home though.

    Ham/SSB with Pactor modem: ABSOLUTELY in our top 3 addons. Only way to get weather in many parts of Mexico. Great to be in touch with other boats 100 nm away and, of course, much further. Don’t let anyone convibce you otherwise!

    We love our Vesper Watchmate 850 standalone AIS system – – their claims are all true (including VERY low power consumption).

    I find it hard to think about cruising without our solar panels (yet we did just that for many years before getting the panels in 2013 – but that involved a lot of motoring). In Mexico’s Baja, we have only used our Honda generator twice (yes, 2x) since Nov 2013. Solar is on my top 5 best addons to Pelagia (Honda doesn’t make the top 20). You might want generator if you get a watermaker. Solar is especially useful once multi-night passages under sail are required (especially if using autopilot rather than windvane)

    If you spend time in marinas in Mexico and elsewhere in tropics, potable water is an issue (watermaker not useable in marinas abd many/most estuaries). Recommend you investigate UV system (Waterfixer majes a good 12v system). Basically , you use UV system as you fill tanks (not from your tank to your galley).

    Hope this helps.

    SV Pelagia

    • Thanks, David. You’ve provided food for thought. We have not made a decision about that bow thruster, but something I did not include in the post is that there is a guard attached so that lines do not become tangled on top of it. We talked to the dealer about that. If we were going to be cruising for long in this boat in this area, we would definitely get one. We just are not sure how much we will use it in other areas, considering we are the anchoring type, not the marina type. Seems like friends on the east coast use theirs all the time. We know two sister ships and both have them and are very glad. But they stay in the Bahamas in marinas more than we would So the jury is out on that. Believe me when I say we would like to spend as little as possible. But what to forego is the question. The bow thruster is a want, not a need, so it’s down there on the list. Mike just ordered solar panels tonight. I didn’t include that on the list because we had already decided what to buy and it was in the works. We plan to be as energy self-sufficient as possible. Now your caution about people getting ‘stuck’ in Mexico, or thinking they’ve had enough and coming home hits fertile soil. Who knows the future? We sure don’t. Naturally we want to enjoy this as much and as long as possible. But we’ve heard more than one person say that they were happy just cruising around the Salish Sea after a trip to Mexico. Oy. If only we could tell the future, perhaps it would make that decision about selling the house easier. What if we get to Mexico and just want to come home? And there is no home to come to? That can keep me up at night way more than worrying about whether I have a water maker.
      And in terms of the water maker, we haven’t even gone there. We carry 170 gallons of water on Galapagos. It’s down there on the list somewhere. Thanks for your thoughts. We do pay attention.

      • re external thruster: again, I wouldn’t want to hit a log with that on (and there are logs off WA & OR coasts). I’m sure it would just shear off….

        Re “waterfixer” : this not a watermaker, it is for water treatment. In Mexico it gets very old buying 5 gal jugs to fill up tanks (not only the cost, but also the pain). So an ultraviolet/filter system like Waterfixer to treat water as you fill tanks (via hose from marina dock) is very nice.

        • oh, and re being “stuck” in Mexico, I didn’t nmean it in a negative way. Mexico is great. But it also helped us realize home cruising (and skiing, etc) was what WE wanted.

          We sold EVERYTHING (almost) before we left. It actually made coming home (permanently) easier for us. No more rooms full of stuff; our choices open where to liven etc.

          Maybe we’ll see you this Summer in the Gulf Islands?

          SV Pelagia

          • Maybe. We will for sure be sailing this summer. We are hoping for a 5 week cruise to the west coast of Vancouver Island.

            • My comment re our Hydrovane was only to suggest we likely would not use it very much once back home in British Columbia (indeed, we really only used it on multi-day passages down south.) It was NOT a negative comment.

              I cannot fathom the idea of long passages without wind vane steering – – to rely on power hungry auto pilots that break isn’t the way I would go (at least for a sub-50 ft monohull). (However, windvanes are expensive, so if I knew for sure I was NOT going across an ocean, I might not spend the $. Trouble is, it is not always easy to know this in advance. )

              In most cases, “Finn”, our Hydrovane worked well. It was fantastic in any upwind sailing (as was our recent Mazatlan-to-Baja passage). Where we had troubles was in downwind with high winds large steep short-period seas (36 kn off northern California) or in light following winds and confused seas.

              We are still learning how best to use Finn – – balancing the boat and sails is so important.

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