Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What I did on my Summer Vacation

Last week, my family took a sailing/camping trip to Tacoma, Seattle, Sequim and Port Townsend.

We visited the Pacific Science Center,

Our trip included 4 1/2 days on the boat

and 4 1/2 days of camping (here, Meira is playing an Ocarina--a flute-like instrument we found at Pike Place. Hannah is behind the camera, looking through the rungs of the picnic table at our campsite).

We had beautiful weather and lots of fun, but the most exciting part of our trip was the souvenir we purchased.

Yes, we bought a new boat. Yes, we still have Nissa. No, we don't intend to keep her. (This fact elicited many tears from one member of our family as we signed the offer on the new boat.) We have enjoyed many good times aboard, but always knew that when the time was right we would be looking for a more permanent addition to our family. And we have been looking--keeping an eye on the market as we develop our wish list for a boat to fit our family and our dreams. So when we found her, we knew.

Lilo--say "lie-lo", not "lee-lo"--has quite a bit of history. She is a 32 foot Islander built in 1964 and taken through the Panama Canal to California by her first owner. Two more owners eventually followed, the latest owner only acquiring the boat after he introduced the captain to his (available) mother. A wedding ensued.

We wished for ironclad memories as we listened to the owner on our sea trial (test-drive). His family has been involved with Lilo for 26 years and he seemed to know every inch of her systems. He and his wife were so kind and helpful as they demonstrated all the knowledge they have of this particular boat and her individual characteristics. They have customized so many things aboard; we will be blessing them for years as we use their ingenious and thoughtful additions to the living space.

Recently, they decided that it was time to set aside sailing and put Lilo on the market. Thanks to a friend with family in Sequim, we heard about her and decided to take a look while we were in the area. We had already looked at a really nice little Morgan Out Island while we were in Seattle and didn't really think that this boat would top that one. But from the moment we walked up to her slip, we were hooked.

She has a beautiful plank-look hull (the impression of wood with the ease of fiberglass), and her teak brightwork and bronze fittings with their years of patina add appeal to her classic lines. As we explored the boat with the broker, we found even more to love. All the qualities of hull and rudder design we had been looking for combined with a full suit of sails and an impeccable interior with great storage and access. There are double quarterberths, so each of the girls can have her own (albeit small) living space. And in comparison to our 21 foot Nissa, the interior feels so spacious!

So we spent the rest of the evening dreaming and planning and, on our way to the boat festival the next morning, stopped by the brokerage to place an offer. The owner is a teacher, so we didn't expect to hear back until after school got out. But only an hour or so later, as we were sitting in one of the seminars offered at the festival (ironically titled "Fun in Inverse Proportion to Length"), we got the call we had been waiting for. There must have been some wonderment over the eruption of whispered giddiness from our row.

Almost as exciting as the information that our offer was accepted was the fact that the owners were willing to make time for a sea trial before we had to leave town. We were glad to avoid another drive to the area, but also pleased to have this experience as a family. We value the girls' opinions about the boat; they need to be comfortable aboard as well as we do and they noticed things we missed (Meira was excited to be able to reach the sink. She doesn't know how excited I am to have two girls with dish-washing abilities on board!)

If we had any doubts about our decision, the sea trial put them to rest completely. As Bryan got the tour topsides, I went through the interior. The owner and his wife repeated "This comes with the boat" about everything we saw, and told of more boating treasure they had stored at the home. Custom canvas covers and nearly new cushions, bins of tools and navigation equipment, three (THREE!) spare engines with the oil and tools to maintain them. We were staggered by this generosity.

And then we went for a sail.

Oh, but Lilo sails like a dream, straight and easy through the points of sail, just the way a vessel should. She feels secure and trustworthy, graceful, a real lady.
Yes, we're in love and I'm gushing. Please forgive me. It's not every day a dream comes true. I'm sure you will hear more about the repairs and maintenance, the expected frustrations of boat ownership, but indulge me for now as I savor this new grace in our lives.