We found a boat!


Author: Pete

Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida


Short story:



Long story:



Coherent story:

Sorry. Still pretty excited. Okay, here goes…

After our 1 AM arrival to Naples, we still intended to make the boat scouting appointments that we had planned with our broker and some private listings the following day. All of the appointments were two hours away in Fort Lauderdale, so we were up at six o’clock and on the road again. Man we were getting sick of driving!

Made it to our appointment on time and met Steve Moore from the Catamaran Company who we had met on our previous mission to Florida. He introduced us to Kenan and his wife Julie, two young Brits who were selling their Lagoon 380 after a year sabbatical in the Bahamas. The boat was in beautiful shape for its age, and was very well equipped. Kenan is a professional captain on massive private yachts (220 feet massive), as well as a pilot. He knew the boat extremely well and kept good care of her. After a run through of the boat and some discussion of possible timeline we walked away with a distinct like of the boat and a good feeling about the owners.




Our second, third, and fourth boats of the day went by in a blur. I don’t think we even got a picture of any of them! Our heads were still in the clouds about the Lagoon and nothing held a candle to it. We didn’t even discuss it much between us. We just drove back to the Catamaran Company, located in a floating office in a marina, and asked Steve to help us make an offer.



It started pouring rain. The boat was listed outside of our comfortable price range. We decided to make an offer that we could afford, and make an itinerary for the hand over of the boat that would be attractive to the sellers. They were trying to fly back to the U.K. in mid-October, and were really hoping to move the boat before then. We crossed our fingers that giving them the option of a quick turn-around could make up for our lower offer.

With Steve’s help we filled in and sent a formal offer on the boat outlining purchase price, conditions, and dates for survey/sea trial, acceptance of vessel, and closing. We hurried a transfer to Cat. Co’s escrow account through some help with Miranda’s friends at her Wisconsin bank, and then sent the offer over to Kenan’s selling broker. Then we waited.

And we waited.

And it felt like forever.

In fact, it was only fifteen minutes, but I felt like the gun was going to go off for the cross country state meet, or I was going to sit a six hour quantum physic exam. This rates right up there in the stress. If I was prone to heart disease, I’d likely be dead.

And then Steve waltzes up the steps, sits and says casually, “Well, they accepted your offer.” I thought we’d fall out of our chairs but it was so nonchalant that I just stared at him. We signed some papers and made a few phone calls to set up sea trials and survey for the very next day.



It was late in the day and we were to be back at the boat at 8:30 the following morning. Instead of driving two hours back to Naples, then retracing our steps the following day in the wee hours of the morning we opted to get a hotel in Fort Lauderdale. After a good night’s sleep we were back on the boat early and really, really excited.



Kenan took us to the haul out, all the while making chit-chat in that British accent that will always make American ladies swoon. We navigated the busy waterways of Fort Lauderdale, avoiding towed yachts, ducking bridges, and jockeying in the respectable current. It was all very exciting.





At the shipyard we docked carefully and waited for the lift, a massive motorized contraption that looked like it had been built out of Legos by some industrious ten-year-old. The workers guided thick straps under the hulls and positioned them carefully to not sit on the keels, rudders, or sail drives.




With the grumble of a motor the boat was lifted slowly from the water, her undersides gleaming. The motorized lift rolled forward, for a second leaving the boat behind before it swung slightly and equalized in its motion.




Once over firm ground the boat was lowered slightly and we gathered around it. Usually things look bigger underwater, like fish or skinny dippers, but this definitely looked much bigger out of the water.  I wondered what I was doing.






The rain began to fall, fat and slow, and we all took shelter under the catamaran’s bridge deck. I wondered what people with monohulls did in this situation. Our surveyer Jon, who specialized in catamarans and knew the Lagoon 380 especially well, filled us in on his assessment of the boat so far. We were happy to hear positive news all around.



The boat was put back in the water. I think I heard her audibly sigh. It’s unnatural for a vessel to be hanging from her hulls. We motored out into the Atlantic and put up sails. The wind was slight so we didn’t sail long, but enough to get the feel of the boat, work the sails, and give the surveyor a chance to check them.




On the way back in the sky opened up again on us. I took the helm by request and let the others take shelter in the saloon. Without rain gear my shirt was quickly soaked. We waited twenty minutes for a bridge in the rain, working the twin diesels to keep us close enough to the bridge to shelter from lightning, but far enough to avoid collision.






When we got back to dock I was soaked and chilly, but very much excited. We sat in the saloon and got the rundown from the surveyor. All in good, working shape, a few things that need to be addressed, but nothing major. Green light. We signed the Acceptance of Vessel.



We stayed for an hour or so talking to Julie and Kenan about the boat and each others’ lives. They are a really interesting couple, extremely personable and open and we’re so happy to be accepting the boat from them and carrying on her adventure. Miranda and I drove back to Naples with our heads spinning.  We now are left with the task of getting all the paperwork settled and wire transfers lined up.  If all goes well, we close in early October and move aboard then. Oh, and one more thing- No name set in stone so far…  hmmm…




Driving South to Florida


Author: Pete

Location: En route from Green Bay, WI, to Naples, FL


After our ‘victory lap’ of Lake Michigan to say goodbye to all of our families, we made ready to head south. Miranda and I loaded up the red 1993 Plymouth Voyager minivan with shovels and rakes and implements of destruction all of our worldly belongings and drove towards Florida.




The Wisconsins rolling hills gave way to (boring) flat corn fields of Indiana, then to the curves of the Smokies. Miranda and I listened to audio books and hoped the Voyager didn’t fall apart. The old girl didn’t put up too much fuss on the long, arduous journey and neither did the van, bwa-hahaha!)




Clunked twelve hours to Nashville where we stayed with Miranda’s college buddies, Lilly and Brandon. We arrived there a little later than intended due to Trusty Rusty’s approximate top speed of 42 mph. Still got to go out to eat at a fantastic spicy fried chicken place. Finger-lickin’ fan-frickin-tastic!  Took a little tour around the music-rich city. Really great history and a constant supply of great live tunes to be had!



The next morning we hit the road a little later than anticipated. Some strange time changes put us an hour behind for the second half of the journey. So again on the road we found ourselves!



Cruised steady throughout the day first passing Atlanta, then finally into the Orange Tree License Plate State: FLORIDA!




Florida is a funny state. I forget that it’s extremely long! We went over the border at seven and didn’t get into Naples until 1AM! Could’ve been due to heavy rain, navigating in the dark, and a pretty old van. She got us there though! Three cheers for Trusty Rusty!

Hip hip! HUZZAH!

Hip hip! HUZZAH!

Hip hip! HUZZAH!

The Infamous Burning Man


Author:  Pete
Location:  Black Rock Desert, Nevada


Drove from Charlevoix down to Detroit to fly out to Nevada for the epic festival Burning Man.  Went downstate a few days early to see my buddy Mike and Jessie.  Mikey is in the planning stages of opening a brewery, so we went sampling at a local taproom with fifty beers on tap.

2 Vertical Stitch

We ordered food and ran flights of beers to test out the competition.  Only made it through twenty-four of them, much to our everlasting dismay.

Spent some time at Mikey’s.  We harvested hops from his garden for a few hours, and then Miranda harvested hair from both sides of my head.  We were on our way to Burning Man (the big BM…. ha!) and needed to put on a little more flair than normal, so we decided that a mohawk would be in order.

Hops Haircut Stitch


In the wee hours of the morning we drove to the Detroit airport and caught our plane to Reno.  Stopped in Dallas and at our gate, we could immediately see which travelers were bound not just for Reno, but for The Burn.  Made us pretty excited to get there, which was good.  After a full summer, our tails were a little draggy.  We were really ready to just get started on our sailing adventure, and hadn’t had time to get fully stoked about the BM trip, so it was nice to get fired up.

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Flew parallel to the rolling foothills.  Looked a lot like Chile!


Upon landing in beautiful, sunny Reno, an obvious fellow burner causally said, “Well that was a quick flight, too bad Burning Man is closed.”  We thought he was just being a jerk, but there really had been a heavy rainfall that turned the roads to muck.  All transport in was closed for the day.  So we found ourselves a nice casino hotel in town and set about being productive.  We got a few final gear touches and dyed Miranda’s hair to match the demeanor of the event, sassy.

Red Hair and Bus

Waited in line the next day and then boarded a bus bound for the desert with revelers already in full party swing.  Drove out and out and out.  The foothills faded to humps in the sand, then to flat, dry, ancient lakebed.  We bypassed the line with the Burner Express bus, highly recommended, and soon drove into one of the ‘plazas’ in Black Rock City.  We rang the bell, rolled in the dust, and yelled some tribal citation and we were at Burning Man.


There’s enough literature on Burning Man, but here’s the basics.  It’s an festival of art, music, and freedom of expression in the Black Rock desert.  This year 66,000 people made up the temporary city called Black Rock City, where radical self-expression is stressed, and leave no trace is practiced religiously.  There are immense sculptures erected in the desert, and molar-jarring bass pumped through the air.  It’s HOT during the day, and cold at night.  Temperature swings unlike I’ve experienced.  Some people come for the art, some to find inner peace and community, but most come just to party like banshees.  To get an idea of the seriousness of the ‘leave no trace’ policy, here’s the difference from before the party starts, and then during.  (images courtesy of google earth)

Before and After

Not sure how to describe the whole deal without showing it, so here are some shots of the desert city.  It’s set up as a partial circle around an open area centered on a ~150 foot wooden effigy of a man.  People ride bikes around visiting camps that give out pickles, snow cones, and lots and lots of booze.








By night, the place explodes into a sea of neon lights and music as DJs pound out dance music from each and every corner of the city from dusk until dawn.




Miranda and I were excited to go to experience all of the ridiculous fun Burning Man had to offer, but also to spend some time with my sisters and their husbands.  It was our first big sibling outing all together.  Chelsea and Dave are old BM salts, now the orchestrators of the Absofuckinlution camp, which brought in 14 barrels of good Seattle beer to give out.  Liza and Felix were Burning Man virgins like us, which made for a serendipitous mixture of family with lots of advice and experience at the BM and others who were just as fresh and wide-eyed to the event as we were.


On Saturday night everyone gathers at nightfall for the big burn of The Man.  There’s a safe ring so the burning structure doesn’t fall on anyone, and designated ‘tacklers’ to intercept any crazies trying to run into the pyre.  Boy are there crazies.  People whoop it up and get rowdy.  The man goes off with a bang and fireworks throughout the burn.  It’s stunning.  Eventually the skin of the man burns off and the skeleton is left burning until the structure collapses spectacularly.

Man Burns


Some years it apparently takes longer than others.  People party all night.  And all the next day.  It’s really impressive and daunting how little everyone sleeps throughout the week.  On burn night we danced all night and into the morning.



The next night is similar.  Sixty thousand people congregate in a huge ring around the temple where all week sojourners have spent time reflecting, meditating, and healing.  However, this night is different in that the sixty thousand are silent.  The temple is lit and burns into raging banners of flame and no one says a damn word.  Some weep.  Some console.  Everyone is reflecting on the week, the month, the years.  It’s pretty powerful.



We did our own post-burn reflection with our family, feeling especially lucky to be bonded to such a fabulous six-sum of sibling loveliness.


Then there are a few days of clean up for most before the exodus from Black Rock City.  Others are stationed in the desert, willfully, for a month making sure the ancient lake bed is returned to its natural state without traces of human, wild or otherwise, impact.  We helped tear down the structure that had been our shelter from the elements for a week in the desert then took off in a U-Haul with a fellow Burner who was kind enough to give us a lift to Reno.  There were only two seats in the truck, so I sat on a duffel bag jump seat in the middle. 

We all breathed a little sigh of relief that we had made it through.  The road back was pretty packed, but not nearly as terrible as it can be.  A quick overnight in Reno, three flights to Detroit, an overnight at Mikey’s, a five hour drive, and we were home.  Fairly quick and painless, huh?