Sunday, September 2, 2018

We Have A Plan!

I love the line in the song, " If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plan." At the risk of being laughed at by the almighty, in this entry I will relate to you the plan that Kim and I have recently agreed to.

It has once again been over a month since my last entry. The last month has been filled with family activity and news. We have had the rig parked at the ranch in Missouri for the entire month of August. It started out very dry, but the last half of the month has turned very wet. We have accumulated more than 10 inches of rain in the past two weeks. We have also enjoyed some cooler weather. That has been nice at the ranch and at the lake.

Sailing Update: We have continued to sail as much as we can. We have now accumulated over 150 hours of sailing time. We are very comfortable in strong winds and feel ready to take this to the next level. What the next level is will be explained in the plan below. I shot some very bad video during our last sail on August 27. The winds were reported to be 20 knots gusting to 35. It was very exciting and fun. We felt very comfortable and enjoyed the day. At one point we were bashing into 3 foot waves while sailing up wind on the far north end of the lake by the dam. While sailing down wind we hit our all time record speed of 6.5 knots. Not bad for a boat that is speed rated at 5.9 knots.

Check out this video if you would like:

We recently went sailing with some good friends. John and Sherri got to experience everything from strong wind to no wind. We had a nice lunch on the boat and had a fun day.

While we were sailing we saw two A-10 Warthogs flying along the shore of the lake. One of the two, broke off and flew directly over our boat and then waged his wings at us. John got one shot of the airplane, but it was much closer in person.

John also got this cool shot of the sun behind the jib.

We also took Bob and Linda out for a sail. One thing we really like about sailing is the social aspect of the activity.

The other major family event this past month was the Baptism of our granddaughter Eve. They did the ceremony at the river, which made it very fun and special. Michael and Audrey and their boys made it up from Arkansas for the river and party and Brian and Shannon's house afterwards. Here are a few of the many pictures I took.

Michael and Audrey
Will, Connor, Cameron and Amelia playing in he water. 
Eve going under.
Shannon and Brian's Family missing Jake
Michael's family with wet boys.
The other big news in the family is that our youngest son Mark has accepted a job in Boston. He will be working at Children's hospital. He will be implementing the same Cerner system that he has been supporting for the past 18 months while living in Kansas City. The one crazy thing he told us is that he is renting a 500 square foot flat for $1700 per month. It is right by Copley plaza in downtown Boston and withing walking distance of the hospital, but that is crazy.

Ok, now for the plan. We will be leaving Missouri right after Thanksgiving in late November. We will head to Gulfport, Mississippi. We have arranged to charter a 40 foot sailboat for a day of sailing with a charter captain. We want to see if we like open water sailing. We will then head to Orlando for Christmas. Shannon, Brian and Amelia will come down and we will go to Disneyland for a day. We will then head south and visit Everglades NP. I expect that we will be looking at both Marinas and boats along the way. We expect to arrive back in Missouri in April. We will only stay about a month and then head north. North all the way to Alaska. We are expecting to get to Alaska by around June. We plan to stay in Alaska most of the summer of 2019. We expect to return to Missouri by October.
Then we are planning to put our land in Ozark up for sale. When it sells, we will then start the search for our new home on the water. We will just have to see how all of that works out.

This plan is going to take some good luck, so stay tuned to the blog to see how it all goes.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

A Life Worth Writing About

It has been a month since I last wrote in my blog. Our rig has been sitting at the ranch in Missouri during that time. As I have written before, I become uninspired to write when we are sitting still. I had a thought the other day. I don't like it when my life is so "normal" that I do not think that I should write about it. So, my goal going forward is to live a life that inspires me to write about it. That statement means different things to different people, but to me that means new experiences and new places. We have a plan to get back to travel, but right now we are taking some time to learn how to sail so that we can explore even more new places in the future.

When I look back at the pictures I have taken in the past month, I do see that a few notable things have happened.

Sailing update: We have gone sailing over 20 days since we splashed the boat on May 22. We have logged over 100 hours of sailing time. We have sailed in very strong winds and we have sailed in almost no wind. We bought and installed our new mainsail. We paid $389 for a brand new surplus sail. It performs very well and looks awesome. We were invited to go sailing with a dock mate. Jerry and Diana have a Catalina 32. Jerry is a very experienced sailor and it was great to learn from him. We had the strongest winds I have seen. We had a sustained 25 knots. Their boat handled it with ease and we had an awesome day on the water. Jerry let me drive the boat for the first half of the day, I learned a lot.

Kim and I have been discussing our future sailing plans. I will write about that in coming entries. We have big hopes and dreams and I hope we can make them happen.

I have been working on my golf game a bit since I have been back at the ranch. I have a 150 yard practice area that allows me to hit as many balls as I would like and then I get to take a walk to go find them. I went to one of the courses in Springfield and actually played pretty well. I hit one shot from about 150 yards to within about 2 feet. And yes, I did make the birdie.

Our grandson, Will finished up his baseball season. His team won the regular season, but three of the 4 coaches and many of their best players could not make the playoffs, so they lost in the semifinal. Still a very good year.

Kim and Amelia watching Will's baseball game.
Our daughter, Shannon was born on July 4. We celebrated her birthday by going to a Springfield Cardinals baseball game. They allowed the fans to sit on the outfield grass and enjoy a concert afterwords. Fireworks then followed. It was a great time with the Shoemaker clan.

The big event of the past month was a quick trip to Colorado. I am one of 5 boys. (4 of which are still living) My brother Brian, who lives in Dallas, called me on Fathers day to wish me Happy Father day. He told me that we all needed to get to Colorado at the same time. I agreed, but had no plan to make that happen. My brother Alan let me know that he was stopping by the ranch in Missouri for a visit on his way home from a wedding in St. Louis. Kim wanted to go see her parents in Texas and she came up with the idea of her jumping in the car with Alan's wife Denise and going to Texas with her and Alan and I going to Colorado to be with my Dad on his 87th birthday on July 11. We got Brian to fly out from Texas and Bob lives is Denver, so we all made it. We spent two great days looking at old pictures and telling old stories. It was an awesome time and I will cherish the memories for the rest of my life.

L to R, Bob, Brian, Mom, Dad, Me, Alan
Here is a shot of Bob's family:

We really enjoyed looking at old pictures. I found an old album that I have never seen of my Dad's time in Korea during the war. I had to take a pic of this photo.

Dad with a 50 Cal
I could not let a trip to Colorado happen without a trip up into the mountains. We drove up to see my brother Bob's in-laws cabins. We climbed 2000 feet and the temperature dropped 20 degrees.

Alan looking out over the South Platte river.

The rest of the trip went as planned and I spent a day in Bedford with Kim's parents and then Kim and I drove back to Missouri.

We went sailing on July 19 to 21. I checked the radar before going out on Thursday afternoon and there were storms around, but they looked like they were going to miss us. I was wrong. Just as we got the sails up, I looked up and saw a big black cloud. We dropped the sails and fired up the motor and headed to the dock. We just made it before we had strong winds and heavy rain, but not bad. We were standing on the dock when this massive wall cloud appeared on the horizon.

It was moving faster than any cloud I have ever seen. When it slammed into the marina, the boats with empty poles healed over dropping their rails in the water. Many of the docks broke loose and the dock behind ours hit ours causing damage to Jerry's boat. Our dock broke loose and almost hit the dock behind us. It was amazing the power that storm hit with. They spent the rest of that day and the next putting all of the docks back in position.

Another marina on the lake did not fair as well. Here is a shot I took when we were out sailing yesterday with our son Mark. You can see the wrecked dock in the background.

This is the same storm that caused the Duck boat tragedy in Branson. Very sad.

The last thing I wanted to write about was this past Sunday. We had a local dealer bring out an all electric dirt bike to the ranch. I was given the opportunity to ride it. It was very controllable, but very fast. The only problem they have with it is that it only runs for about an hour and a half. That is not long enough for most races. It will be very interesting to see how that technology improves over the next few years.

That wraps up the major events of the past month. We will continue to log hours on the sailboat to gain experience and knowledge. We do have a week long sailing trip planned on Bull Shoals. That is a 35 mile long lake. I will write about the preparations for that trip in my coming entries.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Our First Month of Sailing

I am writing this from the ranch on June 24. It has been almost exactly a month since we launched the sailboat in Stockton Lake. It is amazing to think that on April 16th we bought the boat and brought it back to the ranch for a month of cleaning and refitting. I took my first lesson on May14, and now a month and a week later, we have accomplished so much.

Notice that we are still calling it just," the sailboat". We can not agree on a name, so for now it will have to be, "the sailboat".

Sailing has many aspects. If the winds are constant and light, it is easy and relaxing. The problem is that you don't go very fast and therefore can't go very far. We want to explore new places, so some good wind is needed.

We have done many light wind days and they have been great for learning. Another problem with light wind days is that it is hot in the boat. The lack of breeze can be a problem for passengers and crew. It does not take long before you are looking at that cool water and looking for a cove to drop anchor and swim.

Kim has jumped out of the boat a couple of times when it appeared that we were barely moving. She found out quickly that it is tough to keep up with a sailboat that is going even 1 knot. She has learned to throw out a line to hold on to and drag behind the boat. It is really very relaxing up to about 2 knots. Above 2 knots it is not possible to hang on for long. That is when I get to practice the "man overboard" drill that I have learned.

I do have to be honest, one thing I have been working on is how to be a good captain. We have had a couple of incidents that required quick thinking and a cool head. My thinking was not quick enough and my head did not stay cool. I am aware of my weaknesses and with confidence I think I am getting better. You will have to ask Kim to see if she agrees.

I have been keeping a log and we have been sailing 15 days out of the last month. We were staying at the COE park about a mile from the dock from May 31 to June 14. It was so easy to just drive over to the dock and cast off the lines and head out. I can see why many people have their boats in a slip at the lake. The sites at the COE park are huge and we loved our time there.

That is the lake through the trees. The campground is on a peninsula. 

We had a number of visitors while we were in the park. First up was our two grandsons that live in Arkansas. Connor and Cameron are 7 and 4. Connor loves to fish, so we did a bunch of that.

We had the boys for two days while our son Michael and DIL Audrey had a couples weekend in Branson. Michael and Audrey came up on Sunday and we all went sailing. The wind was stronger than I had seen and it was a bit hectic. Winds were 15 to 22 knots. The bad news is that we ended up putting a big tear in the mainsail. It was one of those experiences that was good and bad. I learned a bunch of what NOT to do. I would do much better the next time we went out in strong wind. They make something called "sail tape". We were able to fix the main fairly easily, but we now knew a new mainsail was in our near future. I wondered how much that was going to cost...

We had the pleasure of our good friends Dick and Cathy joining us in the park for a few days. They are on their way to Alaska. We had a blast catching up on our travels over the past year and we went out in the boat two evenings for a swim. The winds were very light, so sailing was not going to happen.

Dick in the cockpit with me

Cathy enjoying the ride on the bow.
Next up was a visit from our grandson Will. Will is 8 and he took to sailing like an old pro. We sailed 2 days with Will in all kinds of wind and he did great. He took the tiller for long stretches and when he was not driving the boat he was running a jib sheet. It was awesome to have him on the boat. 

Will on the tiller.
I love this shot of Will looking out over the water as the sun goes down.
Just a random sailboat shot in the marina after a long day on the water.

Kim and I were in the park by ourselves on Sunday, June 9. We had very strong winds and I went out to the point at the end of the campground to look over the lake. The wind looked pretty scary. I also noticed that no other sailboats were on the water. We decided to wait to see if the wind would subside as predicted.  We headed out at about 3 pm. We have two head sails and I chose the smaller one. (A 100% jib) I also took a reef in the main. That means we reduced the sail area by about a third. This reduces the power of the sails and should make the boat easy to sail in stronger winds. As we headed out, we waved hello to Jerry, who has a Catalina 34 docked right across from us. He was just coming in after a brisk sail. He has been great and provided some excellent advice. He told me later he was happy to see my conservative sail plan and knew I would be fine. We had an excellent sail for the first 2 hours. We kept a pretty constant 5 knots and were able to move quickly up the lake into the wind. The winds were a challenge, but the boat felt balanced and we handled her with ease. After that, the wind died and we shook out the reef and cruised home at about 2 knots. It was an excellent day because we felt comfortable and learned to be conservative first. We did find three more small tears in the main when we were putting the sails away. I guess it is time to spend some money.

We had an excellent month of sailing. It has not been without challenges, but all in all it has been great. We are learning to love this activity and I can't wait to go sailing again. Our confidence is gaining very quickly and we now are excited about strong winds and some white caps on the water.

In the following weeks we have had a number of more "Firsts". I can't wait to write all about it.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Our First Week of Sailing

I am writing this entry from Lake Stockton, Missouri on June 8. We have been staying very close to where we have the sailboat in a slip that we have rented. We are doing a monthly rental for $175 per month including 30 amp electricity.

We splashed the boat on May 23. I did not write much about that day in my previous entry, so I thought I would write a bit more. We arrived at the boat launch/marina at about 10AM. The sun was out with almost no wind. Unfortunately, it got hot quickly in that parking lot. Our 2 year old granddaughter Amelia was with us and that complicated the day a bit. We got the boat ready to lift the mast by removing all of the ties that we had done for the transport. We had some ideas about "stepping" or raising the mast. We had done it once at the ranch, but I had the help of one of my very strong sons. This time proved much more difficult. We partially lifted it once, only to find out that our idea would not work. We started over and I basically did a "clean and jerk" weightlifting move and got it to a full standing position. Kim installed all of the stays (cables that support the mast) while I held it up. There are a total of 6 stays (Headstay, backstay, and inside and outside shrouds on both sides).  With the lack of wind this part was not bad. By this time, we were pretty hot. We went to the marina store to make arrangements for the slip and some much needed ice cream. I went for Gatorade. We then lifted the motor and installed it on the mount and then the rudder. This entire process took about 4 hours. We were now ready to take it to the ramp.

The ramp is an interesting process. We back the boat down to the edge of the water and then block the wheels and raise the coupler off of the ball. Then we drive the truck forward about 10 feet and install the extended tongue on the trailer. The tongue extension increases the overall trailer length by about 10 feet, which allows us to push the boat further into the water. I wish I had a picture of that, but it worked perfectly. We were able to float the boat off of the trailer in about 5 feet of water and just the rear tires of the truck were in the water. The draft of the boat is about 3.5 feet with it's fixed keel.

By the time Kim drove the truck up to the parking lot, we were ready to go for a swim. We started the motor and went about 300 yards to a cove and dropped the anchor. We swam for about two hours and got our body core temps back down to normal. Amelia enjoyed that part of the day. Prior to the swimming, she was hot and whinny.

We then went and found our boat slip and after playing with dock lines for way too long, we put her to bed for the first night. It felt strange walking down the dock leaving her there for the night.

The next day we went out on our first sail. The winds were fairly light(maybe about 5 knots), but it was a perfect day for us. We sailed around for about 5 hours and we loved it. Kim was now ready for some stronger wind.

The next few days were the Memorial Day weekend. We knew the lake would be a bit crazy, so we decided to relax at Bob's. On Monday, we decided that much of the craziness would be done and headed out for our second sail. We started out with light winds. We stopped in a cove and dropped anchor. We cooked an early dinner on the boat and then the wind picked up. We raised the sails and Wow! We were sailing! I installed a GPS/depth finder on the boat and was surprised when we got the boat up to about 5 Knots in a wind of about 10 Knots. We sailed all the way to the dam into the wind and then sailed back to the marina down wind. We had a blast! Kim now had more confidence in my ability to handle stronger wind. I felt that I had complete control of the boat. Another great day.

The next day our son Mark joined us on the boat. Mark has an interest in learning to sail, so the day became his first lesson. We had excellent wind for the first half of the day and Mark was at the helm for much of it. The wind shifted and dropped a bit, so we pulled into a cove and had lunch and did some swimming in the over 80 degree water. We have been having record highs almost every day. Well over 90 degrees this time of year is too hot, but the nice thing is the water warms quickly. We sailed back to the marina in light winds. Another almost perfect day.

Pretty sail. The original mainsail on this boat from 1983.

We were ready for a couple of days off at this point. The sun was taking a toll. Bob was also getting home from Ireland and it was time to move the trailer from his beautiful home to the park we are in now. While we were at his house, we had some pretty intense storms come through. We also had some amazing sunrises and sunsets.

A storm coming in


Sunset is a special time at Bob's

Awesome Sunrise

The first week of sailing could not have gone better. The second week did not go as well. We sailed in much stronger wind and we had our first damage to the boat from the strong winds. I will write all about that in my next entry.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A Test of our Patience and it is Great to Have Awesome Friends

As I mentioned in my last entry, we had a plan. On May 13, we would first take the trailer up to my friend, Bob's house to moochdock in his driveway, while he and his wife were out of the country. The plan was to then go to the lake the next day to start a 2 day sailing class. After the class was completed I planned to go back to the ranch to get the boat and bring it up to Lake Stockton and put it in the water for the first time. That is of course if during the class I determined that I hated sailing and would then go back and sell the boat and move on to other endeavors.

In the previous two weeks I had spent about $1500 on the truck doing the 200K mile service and replacing the rear brakes for the 4th time. The truck seemed to be running perfectly for the 2 hour tow up to Bob's. Just as I was pulling into his driveway the truck just died. It would crank, but it would not start. My truck was in the driveway, but the trailer was now blocking both lanes of traffic. It is not a very busy road, but I still felt the need to get it out of the way as quickly as possible. Kim ran up the hill to Bob's house to see if Bob could pull me off the road. I (being a Ford guy), had to suffer the indignity of being pulled by Bob's Chevy into his drive and up the hill to a place where we were somewhat level. We then used his truck to help me unhitch and leave the truck in a place where a tow truck could get to it.

The problem was that I had my first sailing class the next morning at 9AM. Bob is a great friend and offered to let me use his truck to get back and forth to the school. THANKS Bob!!!

I was up early on May 14. I called the Ford dealer in Bolivar, Missouri and arranged to have the truck looked at. I also arranged a tow truck to come out and get the truck. Kim would stay with the truck and trailer and hand off the keys. I would head off to my school. Everything went as planned until they called later in the day and told us they did not have anyone to look at it that day, they had two techs out.

The school went very well. It was two ladies and myself and Mark the instructor. We did some boat prep and then went out on the water. I actually sailed for the first time in my life and guess what? I LOVED IT! No need to sell the boat. We had good wind, Mark said it was over 10 knots. All I know, is there were whitecaps and we were moving along quickly. Each student took a turn at the helm. I learned a couple of very valuable lessons which will stay with me as long as I am sailing. I also gained confidence in the strong winds.

The next day there was almost no wind. I was not sure what we were going to do when I got to the dock. Mark said, "Go Sailing". I was amazed that we could move around very well in almost no wind. We did not go very fast, but we could still move. The combination of the two days and the very different wind conditions was an excellent combination for me. During the second day sail, I took the on-water test and did OK. Then, when we were off the water, I took the written test. I am happy to say, I made a 96. Before the class I was given a book that was about 120 pages packed with basic sailing information. I read it three times and all of that studying payed off. I think it also helped a great deal to do all of the work on the boat to help with the terminology.

When I got done with the test, I got the bad news from the Ford dealership. The truck had major problems. I called the next morning and tried to talk to the service advisor. He was not making sense and his pricing was unbelievably high. I checked with some other shops and then talked to another good friend, Dan (who owns an auto shop) and he told me that he could come up to Bolivar from Republic, Missouri and get the truck and fix it for me. I met him at the dealership and got a very cryptic diagnosis that I paid for and helped Dan load the truck on his car trailer.

I took this quick shot of the truck on the trailer heading away from the Ford dealer.
I got a call from Dan a day later with more bad news, the problem with the truck was not the Fuel Injection Control Module, as the Ford Dealer said it was, it was actually the High Pressure Oil Pump. The HPOP is about $1600. It was a lot of work, but he would try to get it back to me the first of the next week.

To add to the test, one of the AC's on the rig was having issues. It was in the 90's so AC was needed. I determined it was a bad fan motor. I made the drive to Springfield to get one and installed it myself with the help of a YouTube video. That went well.

Over the weekend, our oldest Granddaughter graduated from High School. Congratulations Hannah!

Our daughter Shannon had a very busy week going, so she asked if we could watch Amelia. Of course we said yes. She is just so cute, you can't say no to that girl. Here she is giving Bob's dog her daily petting.

On May 22, I got the call that the truck was ready. Dan saved me a bunch of money and got it fixed fast. The total was still a little over $3K. I drove to the ranch from his shop and the truck was running perfectly. I hitched up the boat and hauled it back to Bob's house. All went well.

The next morning, we took the boat to the Marina and raised the mast and launched it for the first time. It was hot, but with the help of Mark (my instructor and person we bought the boat from) we got it done. We motored out and went for swim. Amelia was still with us, so she got to go for the first ride in the boat. We rented a boat slip for a month for $175 with electric. So, we will settle down and go sailing for the next month. It was tough and very expensive, but we got it done. Here is the boat in her new home.

The next day, Kim and I went out for our first sail. I will write all about that in my next entry.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Repair and Refit of Sailboat

We brought the boat to the ranch on April 16. We found a few things of concern in our pre-purchase inspection, but because we were not able to put it in the water, we were not sure if the boat will even float. The first money we spent was on new tires for the trailer. The trailer appears to be very well built. We feel that it and the motor could easily be worth the $2400 we paid for the entire package. So, we are thinking we got the boat for free. 

We started the first day going over the boat and making a list of projects that are needed to be completed before we could put it in the water to see if we even like sailing. 

The first order of business was to get the boat as water tight as possible. We had a good forecast for the first week, with no rain. We focused on getting the water out of the boat and keeping it out the first time it rained. 

A strange thing happened the first evening. I had a terrible allergic reaction to something. We still do not know what it was. Kim thought it might be mold in the boat, so she spent her first 12 hour day doing a total clean of the entire cabin. When she was done the boat looked 100% better. 

I spent much of the first week working on the companionway hatch cover. I decided to make it out of some red cedar that I have had for many years. It has been strip stacked and drying for over 25 years. The hatch that was with the boat was badly weathered and made out of plywood. It was a problem, but the biggest problem was the threshold and the frame. The wood was cracked and rotten. I decided to replace the entire hatch frame. Here is the end result:

I would like to add a special THANK YOU!!! to my Dad. He has loaned me all of his woodworking tools to use. I was able to do some very intricate work with the help of many of those tools. 

We then decided to put up the mast. I have watched many videos about how to do this. We did this for two reasons. First to see how to do it and second, to get the mast out of our way. We did have one little incident when were we stepping the mast, but in the end we got it done.

You can see the stepping crutch I made out of some old wood.

The mast is 30 feet tall from the water line.

Here is our outboard motor. It is a  mid 80's 15hp Johnson
I did some testing on the outboard. It ran fine, but had a problem with the electric start. I found the problem and it now works perfectly. 

After working some very long days for about a week and a half, we went to Shannon's to watch her 6 kids while they were on a cruise. We really needed the break. I am not sure how much of a break it was. That family goes at full speed all of the time. We celebrated Isabella's 12th birthday and enjoyed our time with the grandkids. 

I stayed at Shannon's for 7 days and Kim stayed for the entire 10. We then got back to work and finished up the project. Here is a list of all of the things we have completed. 

        ○ Sand all wood on boat
○ Treat all wood
○ Install both side rail drains
○ Build companionway door
○ Install all wood
○ Install door and hatch
○ Hook up battery
○ Test interior lights
○ Install outboard
○ Secure battery 
○ Extend cables
○ Test outboard
○ Repair stancions
○ Repair mast light
○ Step mast
○ Remove and Repair Port deck rail
○ Replace halyards
○ Measure anchor line 
○ wash topside and hull
○ polish and wax hull and deck
○ repair trailer lights
○ new wiring
○ install depth finder
○ fix rudder = This turned into a 3 day project
○ seal hatch on starboard side
○ Fix front hatch
seal chain plates 
○ install new bow light
○ new light bulbs
Build leg for table
Buy battery charger 
Reinstall short wall
Install and test rigging 
Install hasp on door 
Check windex installation 

This was our list, but there were a number of other small projects that were not on the list.

On May 12, we were ready to take it to the lake. At least that was the plan. May 13th was a day that changed everything. That is a story all unto itself. I will write all about that day and what followed in my next entry. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Time to Shift to Another Gear

As I wrote in my last entry, we are taking on a new challenge. We have been living in our trailer for 5 years and 5 months. We have been retired and traveling for 4 years and 5 months. We love our life and have had an amazing time. We love to travel and see new places. We have very little desire to see the same places we have seen before unless it involves seeing family or friends.

I have a history of change. I tend to want major changes in my life on a regular basis. About the time a particular place or job or activity gets comfortable, I am ready to do something else. We both knew this going into our vagabond lifestyle, so it did not come as a surprise to Kim or myself.

I would not say that we have become bored with the RV life. I would say that we would like to continue to travel via RV part of the time, but we would like to travel differently part of the time also. We want to expand our horizons to include many places we have not yet seen. We would like to visit some places that you can not see via RV. Like islands and  other continents. The problem is, I HATE AIRPLANES! I have spent so much time cooped up inside an airplane during my working years that when I retired, I never wanted to fly again! So, what is the solution? You guessed it, A BOAT!

We love boats. We have a powerboat and love to spend time on it. The problem is that it is pretty expensive to explore in it. It is a ski boat and does not have any sleeping quarters. We are also concerned that we only have one mode of propulsion. If the engine dies, we need to get towed. So, I have been considering sailboats. For the past year, I have been studying everything I can find about sailing and sailboats. I have been driving Kim crazy with my one minded fascination of the thought of buying a sailboat and using it to explore new places. If you know me, you know I get obsessed with new things and learn at a nauseating level. The main problem with this entire idea is, I HAVE NEVER SAILED A SAILBOAT!

When we arrived back at the ranch in Missouri on April 2, my plan was to go to a local lake and take a sailing lesson. The best sailing lake in the area around the ranch is about 2 hours away. It is called Stockton Lake. I have never been on the lake or really even seen it. We do most of our boating on Bull Shoals or Table Rock. They are very large lakes with beautiful shorelines with countless bluffs and coves to explore. We have only seen a small part of each of these lakes. Stockton is a smaller lake with fewer bluffs which provides excellent wind for sailing. Many people in the sailing community have said it is one of the better sailing lakes in the US.

On April 9, we went up to Stockton State Park Marina to talk to the people there about getting signed up for a class. They were nice, but told us they would call us to set up a time to schedule a school. We then asked for permission to walk the docks and check out the sailboats. That was interesting, but I did not really know what I was looking at.

We then drove over to Orleans Trail Marina to see what kind of boats they had there. When we got out of the car, we were immediately greeted by this fellow named Mark. We told him we were there just to educate ourselves, he stayed with us for over 3 hours showing us boats and just talking about sailing. We looked at one particular boat that was full of water. We both looked at it and said no way, let's move on. Mark told me this was a very good boat and we should consider taking it home and doing much of the work ourselves. It also came on a nice trailer. That is important to us. We want a smaller starter boat that we can take from lake to lake and learn to sail and explore new places. Well, to make a long story short.  A week later, we bought that boat. It is a 1983 Hunter 22. It was really rough, but what I read and what Mark told me, it was a good buy at $2400. It came with the nice trailer and an outboard motor. Yep, I bought a sailboat and had never sailed in my life. Here are a few pics:

That is just the beginning of the story. Come back to see if we can fix it up and get it in the water. Also, I have to study and go to school. Will I pass the test?

This is just part of a much larger dream. We want to learn to sail first. Then, we will see if we both like it and if we want to move up to a larger boat and maybe some day try some ocean sailing. It could be an interesting journey or a big train wreck. But hey, train wrecks can be entertaining.