The Cruising Chronicles: Part 1 (Maiden Voyage)

Walking down the dock in the dark, I noticed something moving in the water—a school of fish swimming together in a perfectly round circle.

Marty and I watched, transfixed, as what appeared to be a shrimp descended on the group and seized on two of the tiny fish, which lit up like lightbulbs as they were caught.

“It’s like our own private nature show,” Marty said incredulously.

Earlier in the day, Marty was headed back to our boat and spotted an otter perched on the dock, eating a crab. Seeing the human interloper approaching, the otter seized its salty treasure and slid off the dock, disappearing into the water.

Those near-magic moments, those scenes that transform an ordinary day into the extraordinary, were exactly what we’ve been missing this past year while not having a boat. Heading out on the water again Saturday for Three Sheets’ maiden voyage in the Northwest reaffirmed everything that makes boating worthwhile, makes it worth all the cost, the frustration, the work, the sacrifices.

Given the weather forecast, calling for sunny skies and unseasonably warm temperatures over the weekend, we’d been excited all week about finally taking the boat out. We got up before the sun on Saturday and headed down to the boatyard, planning to clean the boat and make one needed adjustment to the shaft seal before we headed out.

Three Sheets moored in Northwest waters, at last.

I should’ve known it wouldn’t be quite that straightforward. After scrubbing the decks, I went to see how Marty was doing with the shaft seal. Descending down the companionway, I heard a string of profanities coming from the aft cabin that even surprised foul-mouthed me. The air was blue. I backed away quietly.

Long story short, Marty ended up calling a worker from the yard, who came down (on his day off) and saved the day. We owe him many beers, our firstborn child or pretty much whatever else he wants, since he made possible one of the most perfect weekends we’ve had in a very long time.

We headed over to Eagle Harbor Saturday afternoon, arriving at Winslow Wharf Marina around 4:00. After putting the boat away, it was time to celebrate. We popped a bottle of champagne and sat in the cockpit, giddy about finally being on a boat—our boat—again.

Our last weekend outing on a boat was a trip to Bremerton last February. Soon after that we sold our boat, Camelot, and inadvertently found ourselves boatless and miserable. The experience confirmed that in fact yes, we do need a boat to be truly happy and that no, road trips or weekend hikes or any other recreational activity don’t even come close as a replacement.

Besides, it’s downright ridiculous to run a boating website and not have a boat. That’s like, say, publishing a wine magazine and being a teetotaler. So after months of anticipation, we were pretty stoked about taking Three Sheets out.

Birds, fish, bugs! Lily likes being on a boat better than anywhere else.

Lily Winston Churchill was equally excited. She explored the boat, finding new hideyholes and perches. She tore around on the deck, her tail twitching with each new noise and smell. She rubbed up against our legs, expressing her pleasure. At night she curled up on my pillow, purring. She was clearly in boat kitty heaven. For a cat as inquisitive and outgoing as Lily, a boat is a playground of endless curiosities.

(Oh—in case you were wondering about her odd haircut, we had her shaved because she has insane amounts of ultra-fine fur that she won’t let us comb and it had matted terribly, so tightly it was like felted wool. At first I couldn’t look at her without laughing and thinking of a bobblehead doll, but her new ‘do has grown on me.)

We don’t have a heater onboard yet, but two space heaters kept us toasty through the night. So it was a surprise to get up Sunday morning and see frost on the decks and docks. The sun quickly melted it, and we sat in the cockpit over a breakfast of oatmeal with brown sugar and dried fruit, enjoying the still-cool air and the heat of the sun on our faces.

After a walk around the town of Winslow, it was time to go. Our reluctance to head out was tempered by excitement about arriving at Elliott Bay Marina, Three Sheets’ new homeport. We kept Camelot there and love the place. Rounding the breakwater and seeing the familiar buildings and boats, it felt like being home again.

To our surprise, we awoke to frosty decks.

We’ve noticed that there’s usually one breathtakingly perfect weekend in the Northwest each February, when the sun comes out and the mercury creeps up and it’s impossible to believe there are still months of rain ahead. I’m so glad we were able to spend this year’s on the water.

So with this inaugural trip, it was time to wrap up the Sailboat Search Chronicles, our blog series about the search for and purchase of our new boat. It was quite an odyssey, filled with unanticipated frustrations, new experiences, incredible kindnesses and a host of memorable people we met along the way. Sure, it would have been easier to buy a boat from a local broker, but it wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting or provided as much story fodder.

That said, we’re happy to embark on this new chapter of cruising around the Northwest. We already came across two good stories this weekend and know that having a boat again will bring countless more. And of course, we’ll be sharing them with you.

14 Responses to The Cruising Chronicles: Part 1 (Maiden Voyage)

  1. Jim B June 10, 2010 at 9:43 am #

    A friend from the C-Dory owners group gave me your link; he knew we’d enjoy it since we’ve been traveling with a cat for years. And, he was right. If you’d like to see more of our travels with a boat cat, here’s the link from our cruising thread on that site…

    Enjoy your time aboard!

    Best wishes,
    Jim B.

    • Deborah Bach June 11, 2010 at 3:27 pm #

      Hi Jim,

      Thanks for writing, and for the link to your cruising thread. It looks like you and your family are having a great time! How long are you cruising for?


  2. Theresa Mead April 1, 2010 at 5:24 pm #

    Deborah & Marty –

    So glad to see that you have your boat in the water and enjoyed your first trip. I’ve enjoyed reading the series, especially since we got to meet you and know you in Mexico. Hope to read more stories about your sailing trips in the future.


  3. Jason March 15, 2010 at 8:53 pm #

    Thank you for posting this.

  4. Carolyn March 7, 2010 at 4:26 pm #

    It is wonderful and exciting to hear all about the new boat !
    Congratulations, we cannot wait for a sailing invitation.I love miss Lily’s new look!

  5. Blog voyage March 5, 2010 at 8:20 am #

    Bravo pour ce message qui se révèle très bien utile dans mes recherches sur internet. Bonne continuation.

  6. Ron February 25, 2010 at 3:57 pm #

    Sure is good to hear that you are back sailing again. Your boat looks beautiful and I know you will have many happy hours and days exploring local wa ters. Congratulations!

  7. Deborah Bach February 23, 2010 at 11:32 am #

    Thanks, guys! We were SO happy to finally be out on the water again! Tim, sorry you couldn’t join, but it sounds like you had a great weekend anyway.

  8. Rob Wright February 22, 2010 at 8:01 pm #

    Hey Marty. Rob Wright here, of WongDoody. I think I saw you two Saturday afternoon– I believe you heading west from Shilshole. We were heading southwest, back towards Elliott Bay. You might recall our boat– it’s a bit different. A dark blue hulled Gemini 105. Amelia, Zach (our 6 month old) and I were all out enjoying the day, just like you guys.

    Anyway, great job with the site. We’ve really enjoyed the articles and I’ve of late found myself visiting at least every other day in anticipation of new content.


    Rob Wright
    tel: 206.604.6665

    • Marty McOmber February 24, 2010 at 8:31 am #

      Hi Rob. I do recall the boat. Sorry I didn’t know who was aboard. But I am glad to hear you were out enjoying that incredible weekend. It really is amazing how much we’ve missed not having a boat at our disposal the past year. Love to get an upclose look at your boat soon. Perhaps we can rendezvous somewhere this year.

      • Rob Wright February 26, 2010 at 7:20 pm #

        Are you keeping Three Sheets at Elliott Bay? If so, we’re towards the end of E-Dock. We’ll probably be out there Sunday, as it’s looking like a halfway decent day.

        Drop us a line if you’ll be out in the area… would love to give you the tour and get a firsthand look at Three Sheets.


        • Marty McOmber February 28, 2010 at 10:16 am #

          Hi Rob,

          Yes we are keeping Three Sheets at Elliott Bay. We plan to be down there today chaning oil and taking care of a few other basic maintenance chores. We are on J15 if you’d like to swing by. We’d love to meet you.


  9. Tim Flanagan February 22, 2010 at 4:12 pm #

    Congratulations! This is great. Sorry we couldn’t join you. We ended up gardening and bike riding Sunday, and that was nice.

  10. Scott Wilson February 22, 2010 at 3:20 pm #

    Awesome, so glad you got out on the water during the sunshine… it’s a beautiful time to be boating again. Congratulations!

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