Read from the Beginning Page 1

October 13, 2013
Offer accepted and contract signed!

After much debate and discussion and weighing all the pros and cons, we accepted the contract on a boat post survey. Our 10% down is officially not ours any longer.  The boat: a 1995 Fountaine Pajot Venezia located in Key West, Florida......

We made the trip down to inspect last week and spent a few days getting estimates on rigging, bottom job (including repairing bottom-side delamination), and engine repair. All estimates came in a little better than expected but the trick seems to be getting the boat insured due to condition and our inexperience in operating a boat this large – who knew you actually had to know how to sail a boat before someone would insure the boat?!?!

The condition of the boat was actually much nicer than expected especially since it has been reported that it has been completely neglected and left to its own devises for the past two years. The inside was cluttered but not nasty and even the musky smell was noticeable, but not overbearing. – we looked at boats in St. Maarten that were far worse. We actually inspected a Venezia while we were in St. Maarten and I didn’t remember the cabins being so large; maybe I just hadn’t considered them at that time and had tunnel vision. But now after seeing this Venezia online on the first day of it’s listing, I’ve become very attracted to this boat – maybe it was the price, I don’t know.

But the repair list (if studied too hard) can be overwhelming. I’m under the impression and have done enough reading to know that even a boat that is “ready” to sail have extensive lists in preparation of sailing – much less a complete refit. So we have our hands full with this one. And we’ve been getting differing opinions depending on who we ask. Some say to just let this one go, and others say it’s a great deal, that you can’t find Venezia’s or any catamaran this size for our agreed upon price. So we made our own decision and followed our gut and decided to accept it as-is, where-is.

The trip was interesting and informing. We flew into Fort Lauderdale about 10:30pm local time, rented a car and drove down to Homestead to get a few hours of sleep instead of enduring the full 3 1/2 hour drive to Key West. The next day, we got an early start and got into Stock Island around lunch and checked into the Looe Key Dive Resort and Hotel. The reviews we read were accurate: the doors didn’t seal great, it was a basic hotel, and the tiki bar on site was a pretty good time. It has great “specials” everyday for lunch, dinner, and late night snacks. The live entertainment was decent and the atmosphere was friendly.

We decided to get an early peak at the boat (we couldn’t help ourselves) even though the survey wasn’t scheduled until tomorrow, and drove the 35 min to the boat yard to have a look-see. It was as expected and looked just like I thought it would based on the numerous pictures I saw online. We were satisfied with what we saw and headed back to Stock Island but made a quick stop by the local Winn Dixie to get some drinks, cereal, and an ice chest in preparation for the full-day survey.

We arrived about an hour after the surveyor and by the time we got there, he had pretty much decided to quit for the day based on the delamination that was discovered on the underside bridge-deck and the front inside of each hull. We felt that as long as everybody was there, we might as well finish a complete out-of-the-water survey, so he continued to inspect the rest of the boat. Although he was hinting that this boat was probably more trouble than it was worth based on his experience (and he may be right) our gut was just telling us that it was worth a further look. Besides, I have been browsing sailboat listings daily for about 3 years, and have rarely seen a catamaran this size in its price range regardless of condition, and to be honest, it was in far better shape than we were expecting. As far as the rest of the survey, nothing else for the day really surprised us other than the port engine and the gen-set actually started and sounded good. The starboard engine turned over, but they were unable to get it running and were unsure of the cause. The port engine was only ran for a minute due to the saildrive not picking up the water supply – but it was encouraging to hear it run, if not for just a bit.

The next few days were spent revisiting the boat often – during the day, at night, whenever, just to get a feel of what living on the hard in a shipyard would actually be like. And as mentioned previously, got some estimates on some of the major repairs while our sons had a good time on their jet-ski tour. We also discovered Duvall Street and the clothing optional bar called The Garden of Eden, which is located on the rooftop of the Bull and Whistle Bar. And while my wife was the only one who got an eyeful of “shlong” from a guy sitting at the end of the bar, me and Justin might just have to frequent more often to see any girls-going-wild…. (keeping our fingers crossed). We also spent a lot of time at Irish Kevin’s. It always had a nice crowd and I enjoyed the live music. I even found myself singing along when instructed – that’s never happened before!?

The last night at Key West we went down to see the street performers by the water and watch the sunset right after we made a quick stop by the southern most point in the continental United States. Had a great time watching the boats pass close by on the many sunset boat tours being had. Justin and me made one last stop and Irish Kevin’s bar while Tami and Brandon walked around a bit.

The next day we packed up our stuff and made the long trip back to Ft. Lauderdale. We gave ourselves plenty of time and it turned out to be a good thing – I thought the highway/road construction was bad in DFW – but maybe its just because I’m use to it in Fort Worth. Of course it would probably help if I had updated my 4 year old GPS before the trip – but hey, that’s why Tami drives. Worth noting: at the airport’s Steak-n-Shake, we did see Wes Kain and Frank Morales from the Vanilla Ice Project on DIY network. They sat down a few tables over from us and it did seem like we weren’t the only ones that recognized them, but nobody bothered them. Maybe there are a few more home-improvement geeks out there other than ourselves. I overheard that they were going to Gate F8 so I went to the Arrival/Departure screens just to be nosy (they were flying Spirit Airlines and going to Atlantic City).

As of today, we wait to see if everything clears on the title search and to make sure there are no liens on the boat – we are set to close on October 18th. But in the meantime, we’re downloading as many PDF’s that we can of the all equipment on board so we have some kind of reference to operate and troubleshoot. Next update I write will be after we close on the boat, which I understand is one of the two best days of your life.

October 15, 2013
From Dream to Reality: how we plan to afford it.

As I write this post, we are nervously anticipating the signing that is scheduled for this Friday on our 1995 Fountaine Pajot Venezia. Although this is a brand new blog that I started this year, this is actually a 7 year old plan that has required a huge amount of dedication, discipline, and work.

We were in Honduras when we first came up with the idea. After our shark dive (we are all PADI certified scuba divers) the boat was taking us back to shore when we passed a 40 foot mono-hull; it was just sitting there quietly at anchor. My wife and I looked at each other and we both kind of said, "Hmm...I'd probably do that." From that moment, the dream of living a sailing lifestyle continued to grow from a simple idea to a full-blown life changing plan that was formulated over the next year or so. Although how to afford it has changed a little over the years and the plan itself has even been put in jeopardy by my own doubt, as it stands today, we are in agreement over the decision to move aboard. The owners of that boat probably have no idea how they changed the course of our lives that day.

Justin making his way through the black-tip reef sharks on our 2006 Honduras vacation

So what do you do when all you have is an idea?……you plan, and you read, and you research. The first thing I did is started browsing the internet to see what had to be done or if it was even possible. Do I have to be a captain before they would let me skipper my own boat? How much money does a boat even cost? How many other people have actually done this? And the list goes on.

But to give credit where credit is due, the first story that I came across during my search was Patrick Schulte’s. If you aren’t familiar with his story, then you owe it to yourself to read his four year journey around the world at ( that he and his wife achieved with little to no experience in his 35’ Wildcat catamaran. It has been my inspiration from very early on since we ourselves also have no sailing experience, but do share a similar dream that they once had. A trip around the world? Maybe not. But sailing from Florida to the Caribbean for a few years? That's what the plan is.

But I was an aviation mechanic with no license, and not much money in my savings account or in my 401k - this is going to take a long time. I have to switch careers in my late 30’s to one that will allow me to be much more flexible. One that will allow me to work awhile.....quit.....and come back to after 6 to 8 months. The only logical thing to do was to go to nursing school after a friend recommended it to me (although that was much easier said than done). It would allow me to do exactly what I needed (I think)...I could even do travel-nursing for a few months at a time. To ensure that our lifestyle never changed while I attended school, I used all my vacation and personal time (and then some) and was able to escape nursing school with my original career still intact just in case the nursing thing didn't work out.

Ready to save lives

In the meantime, we also needed monthly income that would regenerate and continuously bring in a monthly income when neither of us would be working. Now we didn't do this specifically for when we owned a boat, it was something we did because we have always enjoyed the outcome – we started collecting rent houses and even flipped one for a modest payday (we've been flippin' houses and "Renovating to Rent" long before it was on every show on DIY and HGTV). We have four of them now or five if you count the one we are currently in. We buy at a low price and in less than perfect condition, renovate the entire house, and then rent it. That way, the properties will continue to give us a monthly income forever. Fast-forward to 7 years later (7 long years later) – I have now been a nurse for 2 years, and will have 5 rent houses working for me when we move aboard. My kids are all out of school and are just waiting for the time we pull the trigger on a purchase. We have a nice nest-egg of money in the bank so we can pay cash for the boat, and another one in my 401k - if I decide to pull it out for emergencies (I think I can make that money work better for me anyway.) But the big question is will we enjoy it? We have no idea, but the way I look at it is this: I would rather do it and regret it, than regret not doing it. We can always sell the boat and come back and renovate houses, but we may never have the opportunity again to fulfill a dream.

October 17, 2013
The new name for the boat is "Catchin' Rays"

So Tiki II will now be known as Catchin' Rays, and I hear that unless you do this complete "name change" ceremony that your boat will be cursed with bad luck. Ah, .....nobody told me this when I decided to change the name during our registration process. Are you exempt by way of stupidity?

All of the reading I've done over the past 7 years and not one time have I read that changing the name of a boat is bad luck - you would have thought somebody would have said something - but maybe that's something you don't talk about if you're a boat owner that has changed the name of your boat.

But it's too late now...the name is changed and that's that. We are in the process of having our local decal maker here in Boyd, Texas make up the new name. We are supplying fonts and design ideas and sizes to them and they will be printing the decals soon. But I have a weird feeling that maybe we are doing things out of order - we don't have a boat that can be put in the water yet, and here we are wasting valuable time designing a name and logo. But its not like we can do anything with the boat right now....moneys are in escrow, and papers are emailed and Fed-ex'd, so we wait.

Justin continues to research everything anybody ever wanted to know about inverters and a/c units - he's reassured me that "I've got this."

Insurance is now bound, and shipyard spot is leased, all that's left now is the cryin'.

Oh, I almost forgot, we were watching "Shipwreck Men" on Destination TV (DESTHD...I guess that's what is stands for) some program that we came across during my channel surfing and I actually spotted our new boat sitting in the boatyard. I froze it, rewound it, frame by frame....I told my family "that's Tiki II!" Although it is in a different location in the boatyard now than it was during the filming, it was confirmed today that Tiki II was indeed once stored where we saw it on the show. Bam! Our boat's been on TV.

Update: After doing some research on "Shipwreck Men" I learned that it was actually just a 4 episode series that originally aired on the Discovery Channel back in January. So looking back, if we had been watching that series when it aired, we would have seen our future boat and not even known it.

I know that I also said in the last post that I wouldn't update my blog until after the purchase but I guess I'm getting carried away with this new blog stuff.

There it is...a little difficult to see, but definitely OUR boat!

October 25, 2013
I now have a family of ASA 101, 103, and 104 Certified Sailors

Although I didn't go on this latest adventure to Seabrook, Texas, my family just got back from a 6 day trip to become ASA certified sailors and learned a lot in the process. Both Justin and Brandon were reported to have done well, Tami on the other hand claims that she has too many brain issues to be able to apply what she's studied to the actual sailing process. And based on these difficulties, she's come up with a solution for our new running rigging on Catchin' Rays. We are going to install all different colored lines so when somebody calls out a command from the helm, they could just yell, "Grab the green line!" That way there won't be any confusion as to which rope we're suppose to grab (do we sound like idiots? - our original name for the boat was going to be Catamorons which would make much more sense at this point as I describe our remedy to not knowing the terminology better.) I can just hear us now, "Grab the red line that is attached to the thinga-ma-giggy and let it out a bit."

But the reports from the family about Seabrook, Tx was pretty good - reminded them of a Jersey Shore type place - although everything closed at 9pm and it becomes a ghost town - so during the week, not much of a night life at least in the near vicinity around the marina.

But I thought I would post some pictures of their trip and may add to this as I consult with them further.

Captain Ron starter kit

Captain Ron starter kit - 2nd Edition

The boardwalk at Seabrook, Tx

The boat that my family stayed on and sailed during their stay

Brandon has been promoted from swab

The Dolphins swim different in Texas than they do in the Bahamas


Tami and Justin probably arguing about what color the sky is

The marina at night

November 4, 2013
And the work begins

This past week, work began on the boat. The local Fiberglass/Delamination guy that's doing the work had some good news and some bad news. The bad news: all the bubbles under the bridge-deck were indeed delamination and all of them have to be ground down and sit for at least 10 days prior to repair. The good news: the front six feet of the inside of each hull that was report to be entirely delaminated by the surveyor were in fact NOT delaminated. Spots on each side were ground out and no defects were noted at all. Maybe the ole' ball peen hammer beatin' the sh!t out of my hulls is not always a fool-proof method of finding the bad spots.

Also, the previous barrier coat and bottom paint were just applied over the old barrier coat and bottom paint without first removing it. He said its like sanding off concrete, but supposedly it is coming off.

The rigger also called today and is going to start removing the sails tomorrow in preparation for the "de-mast-ication" on Friday.

And lastly, Tami and Justin left today around 1:00pm with a loaded up SUV pulling a 5x8 purple trailer with a custom plywood hinged top to carry all our supplies, tools, and misc. crap that we think we'll need. Hopefully their trip hasn't hit any snags so far and their ETA will be sometime Wednesday if all goes right.

November 5, 2013
In her better days

Well Tami and Justin ended up driving non-stop from Dallas-Fort Worth to Key West and made it there today around 4:30pm local time - now that's some hard-core driving. They took shifts driving and slept in a small sliver of a space they created in the back among all the stuff that was crammed back there. Total driving time: 26 hours and 30 minutes.

When they pulled up, the bottom-job guys were on-site as the sanding continues - looks a little different from when we were there. Its good to see that progress is being made.

Also, in the little bit of time they've had since arriving (and trying to figure out how to get the 12 volt lights on - I had to make a quick, emergency call to Jeff from the Multihull Company and he saved the day. So that's what those little red-handled key thingys are in the engine rooms?!??!) - back to the subject - they found an older picture of our boat among some of the crap they were wallering through when trying to figure out the 12 volt system.

I had Justin take a picture of the picture and send it to me. And here she is, looking mighty-fine I must say. Hopefully sometime in the near future, we can get her back to this level of "damn, she's pretty!"

November 16, 2013
Back home after a week on the boat.

Just back from a 6 day stay on our boat and I'm sad to say that I'm not real happy to be back home. Tami and Justin arrived at the boat about 11 days ago, showed up with a car and a trailer and set up a home. All the bed covers, seat cushions, and curtains were removed and taken to the laundry-mat. Everything was wiped with clean-wipes as there was no running water. Tami even fell 6 feet off the back of the boat because the only access was from a ladder.

Tami's battle-wound from her 6' fall - sailboat livin' is tough stuff

So much has been done to the boat over the last week and half, I don't even know where to start. I could go into all the details of my trip but I'll just keep it simple and just list what's been done. But as it stands right now, and to be as less confusing as possible, I'll just say that as I took off on my 8:15 pm flight last night, Brandon's 8:40 pm flight was about to land. And as I was arriving at our home in Texas around 1:00 am this morning, the rest of my family was pulling up to our boat in Key West.

But here's whats been done as of today:

1. They've finished sanding the bottom but are still waiting on some of the delamination spots to dry up - so all but a couple of spots have the fiberglass repair in place. And by the way, after all the barrier coats and paint were sanded off, the hulls are in beautiful condition. We've heard that a lot of times after boats get sanded down to the gel-coat, you can see a lot of the repairs that's been made over the years. They will show up as repair spots similar to what are delamination repairs will look like after they get repaired. Both hulls are just in really pretty condition and the new bottom job should look awesome when we get it on.

2. Both shower sumps had to be replaced - neither was operational and its so nice to have them automatically kick in when anything is poured down the showers. Also, its what all the a/c units drain into so as we bleed that system its nice to know that when they're operational that the sumps will spit out the drainage.

3. Both hull sumps had to be inspected, removed, and flushed as they weren't picking up anything that might have spilled over to the bilge area.

4. Generator water pump was removed due to leaking but the new one will have to be installed in the next couple of days seeing as how it just arrived today as I was about to pack up and head out.

Justin removing the generator's water pump

5. Both massive water tanks were completely cleaned out by Tami as they were a little nasty - they're so clean now, that you could actually drink from them (I guess people drink water from their water tanks, don't they?) Also, the two tanks are connected at the bottom by a hose and a little "T" connection that has a smaller, clear line pointing up. It's basically a sight glass for determining water level, and needless to say it was nasty. Its amazing that it was coming from the drinking water source - so it was replaced and the whole water-tank compartment was cleaned out and looks brand new. If you hadn't seen the "before" condition of this area, you'd never appreciate how it looks now.

6. The generator compartment was stripped of all its nasty (and I mean NASTY) insulation that had been attached to the floors and walls. It was so deteriorated that the foam would turn to dust when I'd touch it. We put our masks on and disposed of it all and then scraped everything with a putty knife. We couldn't even complete item #4 (the generator water pump) until this step was complete.

7. Tami spent 2 days cleaning everything in the galley - every dish and every drawer - its like the previous owner never washed a dirty dish. A lot of it, Tami just threw away and down-sized to a more manageable size.

8. The hull bilge area was sprayed out and cleaned - its not that they were horrible, but it seems that every stray hair finds its way to the bilge - yuk!

9. The batteries were completely dry and Justin ended up putting somewhere between 4 and 6 gallons of distilled water in them. But after unplugging the main power, it seems that they'll have to be replaced sometime soon as they just aren't holding a good charge - at least that's what the initial indication is. It was expected, but we were crossing our fingers that the batteries might make it - it hurts to buy four 200 amp hour batteries...ouch!

10. The port engine is showing real promise as it was ran for awhile and starts right up. Time will tell on this one but we'll probably still remove the saildrive and replace the seals. The starboard side still won't start and the culprit seems to be the number two cylinder is not receiving fuel. After talking with the shipyard Yanmar mechanic, it is more likely that the little fuel plunger that feeds the injector is stuck and the mechanic is coming by sometime next week to see if he can "un-stick" it - so we're not sure if he'll be successful, but even if he is, we don't know the shape of that engine yet.

Justin removing the impeller on the port side engine

11. All the old electronics have been removed except for the SSB and the VHF radio and I also have a new Raymarine HD Radar on its way so it can be mounted on the mast while its on the ground.

12. And finally (and this is real insignificant) new fan blades were purchased and installed on the 12 volt fans that were in the boat. I thought they were crap, but after Tami got to looking at them and tried them out, they are the sh!t - they really work good except that the longer they ran, the blades were in such bad shape they started falling off.

The mast still hasn't come down yet because the day it was scheduled to be removed, the winds were running between 20-40 knots - so that's happening next week also.

Lastly, it's becoming more and more apparent that I really watch too much TV. This time a boat docked in the marina is one that I've seen on television. It was actually on two different channels with two different titles. On National Geographic it was called "Shark Men" and on the History Channel it was called "Shark Wranglers" and it was about this ship that tags great white sharks off Africa for research. According to the article I read while gathering information for my blog, they are still hard at it but it sounds like the shark-tagging season doesn't begin until July or August. We walked by it on our way back from the restroom and some of the crew were busy sanding some areas with an orbital sander where the paint was coming off. Anyway, its docked right behind our boat and here is a picture of it.

December 16, 2013
Progress update after another week on the boat

Just got back from another week at Key West - time for a renovation update over the past month's progress.

First, the mast finally came down - and our rigger had some trouble busting the turn-buckles loose and also had difficulty finding the correct replacement parts on the cable ends - I'm not sure how that's going to work out yet, but hopefully it all goes back up ok. A new anchor light was installed along with new wiring and a new "steaming" light. New Raymarine Color HD radar was put in place with its own new hs wiring, and a closed-circuit-color video camera was installed at the top of the mast - it matches the other two cameras that are in each engine room - even in a completely darkened engine room, the infrared cam shows a beautiful, clear, black and white video image.

Closed circuit color camera with new anchor light

Nice, new, and shiny Raymarine HD Color Radar

We also decided to remove the old batteries since the original ones were full liquid acid and they were under the port aft cabin - not a good thing. So they were replaced with four 6 volt 400 amp hour Mastervolt batteries at a hefty $589 each and will give us the same 800 ah battery bank that the original ones gave us after running in parallel and series. The hardest part of the replacement (other than the cost) was getting the new ones up into the boat, and the old ones down out of the the boat in addition to wiring four batteries in series and parallel with size 4 ought wire - the largest that is sold anywhere.

Four 400ah 6volt Mastervolt AGM's

The de-lam repairs also continue under the bridge deck and watching the process has confirmed that there are just some jobs that you have to pay to fix. The whole process started with grinding each "bubble" down to the foam-core. Some spots didn't have any water behind the bubble, but others immediately began to drain out salt water - even after 2 years, salt water is still trapped in the foam-core between the fiberglass layers. After they drain and dry, a layer of fiberglass mesh and epoxy cover the spot. That new layer is then ground down smooth and a layer of marine-filler is spread down on top of that. That layer is then ground down and a coat of paint/primer is sprayed and sanded at least 3 more times along with a coating of some sort of blue paste that was applied and sanded. At this point, they only have one spot on the front, inner, starboard hull that is complete as they continue to work the other spots under the bridge-deck.

The finished product of a repair spot

In process of repair where about 10 spots used to be

The sanding process continues

We also replaced all the water drain through hulls above the water-line with each one coated with a nice layer of 5200. You may not know what 5200 is before you own a boat, but afteryou own a boat, you become very familiar with what it is.

Our new Raymarine E90W chartplotter was also installed. The area of the nav-station that houses the electronics is actually an aftermarket job that was probably done by a cabinet maker, but looks more like a home project. It seems to be an area of the nav-station that I'm stuck with - its not that its horrible, but it isn't the best looking addition of woodworking I've ever seen. So I took the easy way out for now, and cut a new piece of plywood very similar to the one that housed the original radar and chartplotter, and stained it to match (albeit, unintentially). The final product doesn't look bad, and will keep the area as clean and neat as possible once complete.

Raymarine E90W touchscreen chartplotter

The biggest project that I was needing to get done during my week's stay was to pry the Yanmar mechanic Mark away from his shop and into my starboard engine room to see if we could actually get it running. Justin had already figured out that the number two cylinder wasn't receiving fuel and after talking with Mark it was determined that the problem was a stuck injector pump. The options are to send the entire injector pump to Yanmar for a $500 fix, or buy a new one for $1100. The third option was to have Mark tap the middle injector plunger from the top down. So we obviously went for option #3 and after Justin removed the fuel lines, water hoses, and other misc. parts out of the way, Mark came back to tap the injector as Justin kept bumping the engine. After about 30 bumps it was free and Mark told us to come get him after we got it back together. The engine started up right after Mark bled the air from the fuel system and although there was some white smoke visible upon start-up it cleared up quickly and the longer it ran, the better it sounded. After the 2nd day of running the engine, there are no longer any signs of white smoke and the max rpm came in just over 3800 rpms and it idled smoothly at a consistent 800 rpms. Looks like we may get out of this without buying or rebuilding either engines. The preventive stuff will include oil and fuel filters, belts, and sail drive seal replacement with new zincs.

Freshly scraped and cleaned engine room

Brandon is becoming quite the compound-buffing professional

The Soft-top that we scrounged out of the front locker

The, they've got some pretty hair.


  1. Awesome post! my wife and I are starting to consider this too but we do have out sights on doing an atlantic crossing too... if you don't mind sharing how much was the boat? im looking at Cats too..

    1. You need to dig around my previous posts a bit...I have a few posts specifically dealing with the cost of the boat and the cost to refit. I also have a few posts on 1 month of cruising and on 3 months of cruising. Just go to the home page and on the right hand column, to the previous posts and look for the "cost to refit a catamaran" and that will be a good place to start.