“Why weren’t the rotten stringers uncovered in your survey?” Many of you have asked this question so I thought it would be good to talk about this and pose the question to my followers as I am not sure the rot in our stringers could have been or should have been discovered in our survey, but I pose the question to you all so we can all benefit from the shared experience of fellow cruisers: What should you reasonably expect a surveyor to find? Please let me know your thoughts on this, and I hope you all find the dialogue helpful.
Wow. First Gift of Cruising Goal reached. That’s exciting. A big thanks to all who donated. I will announce the next Gift of Cruising and put it up on the website soon! You never know. The next winner could be YOU! (I’m kind of on a “Santa high” here.) Get on board!
You’re probably thinking: Finally … screw the food and wine and Miami broads , I want to get back to this whole boat-buying business. Trust me. I get it. We felt the same way. It seemed like ages passed before we saw that beautiful boat again.
Totally gratuitous shot, I know, but when you own a boat this beautiful, you have unfettered bragging rights. (And I doubt I’m ruining any surprise by telling you we do, now, own the boat. If I did, you’re a terrible blog reader. Clearly you’ve been indulging only on the spoon-fed “front page” posts, while failing to dig deeper to the other, equally-entertaining tabs, namely, the one titled “The Boat.” Go ahead, check it out. I’ll wait . . . http://havewindwilltravel.com/the-boat-2/).
So, the time finally came for the survey/sea trial. For those of you unaware (don’t worry – I was head of that department when we began this whole business), typically, when buying a boat, you put in an offer contingent on a satisfactory survey/sea trial, meaning contingent upon the boat passing inspection and proving it truly is sea-worthy. The survey is meant to uncover potential problems with the boat that you perhaps cannot see or test upon gross inspection, like issues with the hull or engine or the electronics, for example. Things you could not uncover when you first looked at the boat because you either (a) couldn’t access them, or (b) wouldn’t know how to test them even if you could. I’ll let you guess which of these two categories we fell in. Hence, the need for a trusty boat surveyor. But, I’ll get to Kip in a moment.
In order to do the survey, they had to do a “haul-out,” which is just about as technical as it sounds. They hauled the boat out of the water so we all could have a look at her.
Our boat came glistening out of the water. Fin keel and all. She was huge! And, I mean that as a compliment. Little did I know at the time how important it is to have so much counter-weight under the water. I learned that when I found us heeled over to the tune of about 80 degrees during the crossing back. But, that’s a post for another day.
She hung there on straps, her underside exposed for all the world to see. She certainly wasn’t shy and, apparently, neither was Kip. He began digging around and rattling through his things and getting to work on her.
Now, Kip was quite the character. I’m sure my efforts will only offend Chaucer, but I will attempt regardless to give you a glimpse of the man. Kip clamored up to us that morning, pot-bellied and boisterous, lugging a large, seemingly vintage, toolbox of sorts, a satchel and a rolling briefcase. He began sweating profusely the minute he exerted the slightest amount of energy opening the latch to his case and he extended a wet, meaty paw to each of us, introducing himself only as Kip. I didn’t even know he was the surveyor (and wouldn’t have taken him for one with the two silver, pirate-like loops he bore in each ear and the incredulous, over-sized gold ring that hung heavily on his left hand) until he handed me a card, adorned only with the name “Kip.” Like he was more famous than Madonna. And, he was full of lewd jokes and inappropriate humor, most of which fell only on light chuckles and awkward shuffles. W didn’t know what to make of him. Phillip and I stood in bewilderment as Kip pulled out tools and began beating the bottom of the boat with a hammer, talking about how “every gal loves a good bangin’ in the morning!”
See Kip bang. Bang Kip bang.
But, our broker assured us Kip had a reputation for being extremely thorough and brutally honest, which is just what we wanted. If there was anything wrong with the boat, we wanted Kip to find it and give us the run-down. And, find it he did. At each point Kip accosted the hull of the boat with his yellow hammer, we heard a high-pitched, ringing “whack.” It appeared this noise pleased Kip as he would continue along un-phased by each shrill note, until he reached the area where the strut is fastened to the hull. When Kip struck near this area we all heard a dull, sickening, thud, much unlike the shrill, high-pitched sounds that had preceded it. Kip immediately stopped, struck the area again. Another deep, low thud. He struck the area to the left and right of it. High-pitched shrieks. He struck the area again. Thud. He started writing feverishly on his clipboard and he circled the area with his hammer. We all came around and examined the spot, a bit disheartened.
Kip explained it seemed there had been some water intrusion in the hull and there was a small pocket of water just above the strut joint on the starboard side. Thankfully our broker got his best “bottom-job” guy on the phone and got an estimate for a potential repair. For those of you wondering, a “bottom job” is simply that – work done on the bottom of a boat – cleaning, resurfacing, repainting, etc. – about every three years. (I’ll admit, I was shamelessly a little saddened to find that a “bottom job” search on Google (even images!) renders only nice, clean, kid-friendly things relating to bottom work on boats, other than this gem – which I include for your reading pleasure:
Thankfully, the estimate for repairing the “thud” didn’t give us too much heartburn and it certainly wasn’t a deal-breaker. The seller, Jack, even came around to investigate as well and seemed equally surprised by it. He assured us he had not noticed it when the boat had been hauled out in July of the previous year, which also gave us comfort. We determined later the fact that we had hit that speed bump early on actually turned out to be a good thing because it seemed the sting of it was quickly forgotten once we got out on the water and into the wind. The rest of the day was then left open for a beautiful sail and only thumbs up and smiles from Kip. Kip even told Jack himself what great shape the boat was in given its age. Apparently flattery gets you everywhere with Jack because this warmed him so much that he grabbed the helm and took us out himself for the sea trial.
It was a beautiful day. Not a cloud in the sky and just the right amount of wind. We hoisted the sails and felt her take off.
Phillip and I were happier than Richard Simmons at a fat camp (that’s right, you heard me, I went there: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhZ2fYQj6IM) and we did a very poor job of hiding it. I don’t think smile is quite the word. Goofy, child-like grins were more like it.
After the sea trial, we pulled back into the marina and Kip packed up his bags and satchels and told us he’d write us up a “real good report.” Aside from the small issue with the hull, the boat had passed Kip’s rigorous test with flying colors. Phillip and I shook hands with Jack and Barbara and told them we’d be in touch (each of us feeling as though the day had gone well and the boat would soon be ours). For Jack and Barbara it seemed bitter-sweet. While they appeared to like us and felt the boat was going to good home with Phillip and I, they were also sad to see her go. They had sailed and cruised and enjoyed that boat for more than twenty years. That’s a long time to love a thing. And a boat is not an easy thing to let go. But Barbara and Jack hugged us warmly and waved back heartily as they left the marina to head home.
Phillip and I stood on the dock, breathing mightily, watching her go, thinking it would now, and forever, always feel like too long before we found ourselves back at that helm.
Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait long. Jack had the boat well-priced and we made a reasonable offer. After a few small moves on both sides, we quickly reached middle ground and struck a deal, contingent, of course, on the survey/sea trial, which was scheduled for April 3rd. That meant another trip down South to Punta Gorda to make sure the ole’ gal was truly sea-worthy. I figured in the meantime, I better do some things to make sure this ole’ gal was sea-worthy – like, learn how to cook … in the galley!
Cooking on a boat is not much different than cooking at home. You’ve got a stove, an oven, some pots and pans. Aside from having to strap yourself into a space the size of your pantry and keep boiling pots from sliding around and toppling over while the boat is heaving to and fro, it’s exactly the same. For a visual – imagine this sea state while you’re gingerly sprinkling a little oregano on your soup: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nf7FddPO5QM). To replicate the feeling at home, you can get yourself nice and sloshed one Friday night, spin around 10 or 12 times in your kitchen and then try to cook yourself a nice, hot meal. You’ll find on occasion, you’ve punched garlic right onto the counter and dumped an empty ramekin into the pot, or that you’ve seasoned up an empty burner to perfection while your sauce turned out a little lackluster. Cooking in a boat galley requires a lot more agility and hand-eye coordination than actual culinary skills.
The primary differences you want to keep in mind are fewer pots and less provisions. The more meals you can make in one pot, the better. With fresh water in short supply, the less dishes you have to wash, the better. So you can either up your one-pot meal repertoire or improve your spit-shine capabilities. I recommend the former. One good book we found useful for inspiration was The One Pan Galley Gourmet.
This little gem is chock full of quick and easy one-pot dishes that are perfect for the boat. I also got a little creative one night and perfected a sweet potato chili that has now become a staple at Châteaux de Phillipé. It’s a nice, filling substitute for the traditional beef and bean chili.
Pairs well with a sweet red zin or syrah (as it has a little kick).
We also tried a beef and broccoli stir-fry one night that made the cut. The trick is to roll the beef around in the corn starch mixture first to get that nice, brown crust on it before stir-frying with the broccoli.
And, another go-to, of course, is a classic vegetable soup. Now, I’m not talking about that watered-down Minestrone crap they serve at Olive Garden. This recipe allows you to throw pretty much any leftover veggies in the pot (perfect for cruisers trying to use up veggies that are about to turn, or, as my grandmother would say, “ruirnt” (that’s a technical, Alabama term for spoiled. I’m serious, although Urban Dictionary had an entirely different, yet equally entertaining, take on it: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=ruirnt. Note the usage: “Dude, he is … “).
You really don’t need a recipe for the veggie soup. Just know you’ve got to start by cooking the heartier vegetables (carrots, celery, onions, potatoes, etc. – those that take longer to soften) first – in a little oil and salt. After they soften add your spices, broth and lighter vegetables (tomatoes, mushrooms, any leafy vegetable, etc.). Bring to a boil and let it simmer for about a half hour – seasoning and tasting as you go. (I also recommend sipping wine all the while and throwing some in the pot).
Depending on your seasoning, this pairs well with a good blend, granache or hearty merlot.
If you’re not hungry after all of that, your taste buds don’t have a pulse. Or, better yet, if they do, they’re the scrawny kind that get their lunch money stolen at school.
If these seem like easy recipes, it’s because they are. Remember the whole strapped-in-a pantry, heaving-to-and-fro bit. You need easy recipes on the boat. Forgiving, lasting recipes that you can make under any conditions and that will keep you and crew going for days. You’ll learn. Until then, pour a few extra glasses at home, do the spins and shout hearty sea expletives while you cook up a storm and mimic life on the open seas. Enjoy!