Living on a Sailboat
Three Months on the Cool Change
Day 1 - Feeling Great and looking forward...
Buying and moving into a Benteau 411
Back in April 2018 and less than a week after I turned 56, I bought my first sailboat. A beautiful 1999 Beneteau 411 docked at Puerto del Rey Marina in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. It took me about four months to find my floating home after I decided to buy a sailboat to call home. Being a pilot and in love with airplanes, it came as a surprise the fact that I bought a sailboat before an airplane, but then again, this wasn’t just a boat, it was home for me. Just short of two days of finishing my American Sailing Association courses, I was already sleeping over water.
Live Aboard the Cool Change
A cool change is actually what I was looking for. I found it on a well-maintained Beneteau, with 3 staterooms, 2 heads, A/C, Galley, comfortable saloon and good sails. In addition, close to home and in the best and biggest Marina in the Caribbean, not to mention a perfect boat slip with no boats behind me for an easy in and out of the dock.
I felt right at home since the beginning. The transition from living on firm land to sleeping on a rocking bed was easy. Fitting my stuff into the boat was even easier. I downsized to bare minimums, but more on that later. I love to cook and just adopted a vegan diet about a year ago, so it was harder to leave behind some of my pots and pans, big pantry, and specially my recent acquisitions, an Air Fryer and an Instant Pot. I’m sure they will make their way back to the sailboat once I’m sure I need them. Don’t want to overcrowd my space now that I’ve downsized. A simpler lifestyle is what I’m looking for.
Working on the boat
I’ve been busy since day one. First of all, getting to know my boat. I started opening doors and lifting floors only to find an array of hoses, pumps, cables, tanks and everything in between. Being my first sailboat, or boat for that matter, it was all new to me. I’ve always loved technology, databases and organizing data, so I started doing what came natural to me. I created a database on Airtable** and catalogued every item by function such as Air Conditioner, Engine, Plumbing, Electrical, Hatches and Ports, etc., and went space by space taking pictures of everything and filling every field on the database I created. That really helped getting to know the boat at first and helped me getting familiarized with every nook and crack. Needless to say, there are still countless hoses that I don’t know where they go or what they do.
Using Airtable to keep track of Maintenance and Repairs
On my database, I listed all the things that needed fixing, repairing and all the parts I needed to buy in order to fix them. The list grew fast. I tried prioritizing. Needless to say, even though the boat has been maintained in pristine condition by the previous owners who had her for fifteen years, it needed routine maintenance and repairs. I’ve been busy, non-stop! I decided to take it upon myself to fix whatever I could and learn on the go, like I’ve always done with everything in my life. I guess that in order to really understand what I mean, you should take a look at my About Page and find out more, in a nutshell, about me. I will be developing more about each phase of my life on this blog as we go along. (You can also follow me on my Channel on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat - See links below).
Every morning is a new learning experience and I have more tools, spare parts, pieces of hoses, wiring, pumps, canvas, screws than ever in my life. I started out by sewing five sail slats that were broken. I had no idea how to do it, but I found the slats, someone lend me some needle, thread and a strange-looking piece of apparatus called a Sailmaker's Sewing Palm, (a huge thimble) needed to do the work. I took out the broken ones, looked at the ones already attached to the mainsail luff and proceeded to saw them best as I could. It turned out pretty well, I may add. This was just the beginning of a long list of items to work on. It followed, on and off, by installing a new holding tank on the aft head.
Even though I have been busy fixing and updating the Cool Change, I’ve had plenty of time to enjoy my time aboard the boat, living at the Marina and going out to nearby destinations with family and friends.
Marina Puerto del Rey at Fajardo, Puerto Rico
Fajardo is located on the east coast of Puerto Rico, about an hour drive from San Juan. It enjoys easterly winds all year round with some occasional southerly and northerly winds, perfect to enjoy the nearby islands and keys. Since I’m new to sailing, I’ve kept my outings within an hour’s sail to destinations such as Cayo Icacos, Palomino and Medio Mundo. I’m learning as I go, but I’ve taken both sails out, the Main and Genoa, every time. Every outing has been beautiful and the time sailing, anchoring and enjoying the ocean has been out of this world. All these islands and keys are part of the sailing playground called the Virgin Islands. Right off the east coast of Puerto Rico, the Archipelago extends all the way down to Trinidad and Tobago on the Leeward and Windward Islands. Puerto Rico has two Island Municipalities, Vieques Island and Culebra Island. Just before getting there, you’ll find Cayo Icacos, Palomino and Isla Piñero where all the locals enjoy their weekends and special holidays. Further down, you will find the US Virgin Islands, St. Thomas and St. John followed by the British Virgin Islands. A sailing paradise indeed that I will be discovering soon. I’ve had my chance to witness the beauty from above while flying, now it’s time to savor the ocean and bask in the sun while sailing the Cool Change through those pristine, transparent, blue and turquoise waters. For more about flying, please visit my Flying Gallery.
Looking forward to the experience. It will be a cool change indeed!
** If you need help setting up a database and using Airtable drop me a note in the Comment area below. I will be posting some tutorials on YouTube and I can send you an invitation to join.