Friday, December 30, 2016

Becoming a "Two-Boat Family" (hopefully not for long!)

It’s been quite the busy two weeks since we showed up in La Paz. We’ve been slugging our way through the great learning experience of buying a new boat—together. Throughout the last couple of weeks, I’ve quizzed Clif on his original experience of purchasing Sound Discovery in Tacoma, WA, and it turns out he was so excited to get the boat and bring it to Alaska, that many of the jobs we’ve been doing as of the last several days are new to both of us.

S/V BarDan in Marina Palmira
So. Big news is—we found a boat! S/V BarDan, a 1985 Hans Christian 38 Traditional, has been sitting in Marina Palmira, here in La Paz, for a little less than two years. It was listed for the entirety of last cruising season (Spring of 2016) with La Paz Yachts at a higher price, and was reduced in September for it’s second season on the market. I saw this boat on the La Paz Yachts website in November, and jokingly told Clif that I was holding out for “the turquoise boat,” which was BarDan, with it’s very identifying green hull. I assumed that the boat would be sold and gone by the time we reached La Paz, but it seems to have waited for us!

Teak decks are beautiful but need to be replaced.
The first full day in La Paz we went to look at the outside of the boat at the Marina, noticed a couple things right off the bat that would need to be done to elevate this old beauty to an ocean-crossing vessel, but nothing that put us off. Returned the following day with the La Paz broker, and chose that night to put an initial offer on the boat—allowing us an allotted time for a survey sea trial, and several other visits from boat contractors in the area for quotes of specific jobs. It’s actually been terribly exhausting: lots of heading out to the marina early in the morning (which is a two-mile walk away from the safe place we anchor out dinghy), spending time digging through bilges and drawers, meeting workers for quotes, having mixed feelings about how much work we actually were/are willing to make this boat what we want it to be, and walking back into town, the two-miles, usually in the dark (stopping for a taco or three), motoring our dinghy back to Sound Discovery which had been out at anchor, and then going to bed. On top of all that, the weather has been very windy, which means little sleep for both Clif and I (getting up at night to check the anchor, check the dinghy, listen to the water slap against the hull… those things).

Initial look inside BarDan-- Clif examining where he can put the spear guns and fishing rods. Facet needs to be replaced, and we will probably re-plumb the three other facets around the sink for sea water and water-maker purified water. (*First question I had, "Are the hats included?"

Today was our very windy sea trial. We got our first experience of the Hans Christian in some choppy seas, brought the engine up to temp, unfurled the chocolate brown tan-bark jib (green and brown sails… kind of reminds me of a girl scout uniform—just thought of this now- hah!), and had no big surprises. We then brought the boat to one of the local haul out yards and were able to inspect the hull out of the water, and plan on continuing the hull survey tomorrow morning. Everything looked normal for an older boat—very few, small blisters that will need to be repaired and some sanding and paint work on the rudder—all things we could do at Gabriel’s yard in Guaymas.

We also did a little boat swap-a-roo today which confused the heck out of all the Marina Palmira Dock 4 residents. We hauled anchor on S/V SD and motored her into Bardan’s old slip that it has been occupying for quite some time. Now, all of the sudden the same young couple sailing away in the Hans Christian reappeared in a Cal and are scrubbing the decks vigorously…. ¿Qué pasó? Why yes, we are the very same crazy young couple. To be honest, everyone in the marina and in the cruiser community that we have met or used the assistance of, have been very positive and excited about out decision. It’s a beautiful boat, and with a little TLC (C=$$) we have the energy and the excitement to revive this boat to its former glory.

View from the bowsprit on the sea trial!
One of my quotes from one of the local Mexican workers who came to survey our decks and give us a quote of some of the work was as follow, “She is already a beautiful boat. She just needs a little lipstick.” Imagine in broken English. J

Things that I have reflected on as of late…

-       ALL BOATS are projects boats (We’ve looked at quite a few boats). Saying “We don’t want a project boat” is like saying “I want a house I never have to clean.” Even brand spanking new boats off the factory floor have problems, and then you’re just paying more to fix the same things.
-       We are becoming what cruisers down here call a “two-boat family.” We will now have to deal with the movement and moorage of two boats, until Sound Discovery is sold. This hit me a little harder today as we pulled Sound Discovery into Bardan’s Marina Palmira slip and I began to scrub her decks.
-       It’s important to focus on the projects that get her cruising on and the water… while still remembering that if there’s any work you want done, do it now! So you can appreciate it! We are realizing that a lot of boat owners wait to improve their own boats before they sell, and they never get to enjoy the fruits of their labor! We want to put in the work early, so we can enjoy the boat to the fullest.

And finally…

The name. This is probably going to be hard for the previous owner, since I know he is actively planning on following our blog and adventures. Since the boat is currently named after the owners (Barbara and Dan—hence BarDan), we are going to change it. The boat was originally dubbed Meridian, then at some point during it’s ever green life was called Toad Hollow—which is showstopper of a boat name. We have come to settle on one we both like, and honors our adventure beginning in Alaska—as well as sailing back to Alaska: S/V Sedna. Sedna is the Inuit goddess of the sea and mother to many Arctic sea mammals. Her legend varies, but is used as an explanatory myth for the creation of sea creatures such as seals, walrus, whales… etc. Like many legends of Sea Gods and Goddesses, she is cast into the sea, and the blood from her wounded hands or her fingers (depending on the story) become the warm-blooded animals of the sea.

I actually studied several versions of this story during my Alaska Youth Literature Course for my Masters of Education in Fairbanks, and created several pieces of artwork for to accompany the legend. In seeking a mermaid/siren/sea goddess figure, we thought that Sedna would be good to attest to the strength and the mermaid like qualities of our new home.

Here is another summary from the Artist Antony Galbraith :

Sedna began as a beautiful young woman, courted by many suitors, but none pleased her father. Then a mysterious stranger appeared, claiming to be a great king in the north, and convinced her father to let them marry. Sedna went to live with her new husband only to discover that he was a cruel Skua (sometimes it is a Raven) in disguise. She called for help from her father who came to her aid and as they escaped in a small canoe, the angry Skua sent a terrible storm to topple them. Sedna fell into the water and clung to the side of the canoe to keep from drowning. Her father, fearing that they might both die, cut her fingers off so she sank down into the icy depths. As she sank, her severed fingers became seals, walruses, porpoises, dolphins, polar bears, whales, and sea otters. She became an important figure for the hunters of the north who relied on her generosity to survive. If Sedna felt slighted, she would call her sea animals to her and the people would starve.

Will I be protective and extra hypersensitive of all my fingers and digits while sailing this boat? Yes. Always. Am I already like that on Sound Discovery? Yes. And as I am not hunting any warm-blooded sea creatures, but rather swimming with them, I think Sedna would approve. Have we ever run into a boat with a cooler name?! No!

Image of Sedna by artist Antony Galbraith.

We will keep you all posted on the final part of the boat purchase process, but until then, you’ll just have to enjoy photos of Sedna as she prepares for haul out and getting some work done to spruce her up for the trip back to Guaymas

Since we are going to be in La Paz for a month, we do have a mailing address that you can send mail to, which is through the local yacht club. If you’re interested in sending any snail mail, it can be addressed as follows:

Clifton and Giselle Miller
S/V Sound Discovery
(or maybe S/V Sedna in a couple weeks!)
APDO Postal 366
La Paz, BCS, México CP23000

Also-- If you know anyone interested in a great little Cal 34 that's ready to go cruising in Mexico, send them our way. Have anyone interested email me at We're going to be setting up a page here shortly on our blog title "FOR SALE" which will have all the information.

Some Sea Trial Photos from yesterday....

"S/V Sedna" gets hauled yesterday afternoon. Surveyor and yard owner look at hull-- which is in relatively good shape for an older boat. You can see in this photo that the rudder needs a sanding/paint job as well as new zincs.

Dan (Surveryor) and Clif inspect hull.

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