When we bought DreamChaser in October 2014, we had some initial plans. First off, I can’t believe it has been 3 years. When we bought her, we planned on a 1-year refit with a backup plan that if we ran into some big things we didn’t expect, it might go to 2 years.
We put our 43′ Gulfstar (LastAffair) on the market and left her with a brokerage house in Kemah Texas. Our thought was that there were a lot more cruising boats there and that while there would be more competition to sell it, there would also be more buyers.
We packed what we would need for moving onto S/V DreamChaser and brought it all out to Louisiana where she was located. We moved right on and started our normal excited new owner lists of work to be done. There was the simple and the complicated from Cleaning and varnishing to teak deck sealing and some mechanical fixes.
We had our surveyor do a very thorough job and pointed out everything that was wrong. On a 40-year-old boat, as you can imagine, the list was extensive as we expected it to be.
The systems were more complicated and each piece of work I did seemed to test my skill set and need more research. Then life changed a few things.
In 2015, Deb’s parents were both stricken somewhat ill at the same time and required some help. Deb flew to Corpus Christi Texas to help provide some care and assistance and was there for about 3 months. I made slow progress in her absence and looked forward to my project helper and partner coming back to help with those projects again.
We did some good work with us sanding most of the toe rails and exterior wood. We did a lot of painting inside of cabinets and in places most people will never see. We added sump pumps and a method to help keep moisture out of the bilge. We added Air conditioning condensation pumps, we replaced the entire fresh water system except for the tanks.
Then in December of 2015, we had another change in our lives and saw an opportunity and need to help take care of our grandchildren. The 2 and 10-year-old moved in with us at that time, so it was now 4 of us on the boat.
It required a few months of figuring out how best to use the space and where to set up bunks and storage. I removed my office and converted it to a stateroom, I added storage for clothes for school uniforms and what not.
Fast forward a year and we were enjoying spending time with the grandchildren. It took some time to shift from “grandparent” mode and act in “guardian” role or “parental figure.” This required changes for all involved.
This slowed down boat projects for sure as they were harder to do when watching out that a 3-year-old didn’t fall through an opening in the sole when work is going on in the bilge, etc. Add to that the 11-year-olds strong desire for stability and lack of changes in schools and moving and friends to be made. It turns out that there were very few times that the older grandchild had ever gone to a school more than 1 semester in a row. She was very energized by making friends and coming back to school after summer or Christmas break and still be able to go back and see those same friends.
When we talk about life happening, Deb’s parents in the last 18 months moved close to us. If we would have asked them, it was to help with things we may need with the girls, but I also think they knew that they may need help too.
Earlier this year in Spring, Deb’s mom was diagnosed with a return of cancer and it was terminal.
This was a serious mental blow and we all struggled with it, but over time her Mom was so gracious and strong and at peace with her terminal diagnosis that we all became comfortable with this reality. Deb’s dad’s health started to go downhill in the summer this year and in August he went into the hospital and had to go to a physical rehab facility to get stronger. Deb again moved in with her parents to take care of her Mom and take her to appointments, cook, shop, etc.
Joan passed away late in August and when her Dad came out of physical rehab, Deb stayed to help take care of him. To all our surprise her Dad passed in September a month and a half after Joan. I know this is not uncommon but here we are late in October and life is just getting back a bit to normal. We are starting to get motivated again to do work on the boat, heck we are even spending more time together and getting our relationship back the way it was. We are always a strong couple and unit, but this year, we have been apart a lot. More so than we have in any of the years prior of marriage, even with as much as I traveled for work.
Add to this crazy year, and our daughter (the grandchildren’s mom) has decided it is time to get her life together. We are going to help out and let her move in with us. She is staying on the Gulfstar (my office boat) and we will see how this goes. We are nervous and optimistic that things go well. It has been wonderful so far seeing the daughter of 3-4 years ago, rather than the one we started to see the last few years and that we knew needed to get on the right path.
So it is now at the 3-year mark of buying the boat, the girls have been with us just short of 2 years now. We want to continue the work on the boat and are working to gain the motivation to do so. We have met with a yard to get some specific work done that we have needed to do. One of our big regrets with LastAffair was that we didn’t have the boat painted until we decided to put it on the market. All those years of cruising and having the hull look bland or dull, we made it look great to sell to someone else. Now we are considering what to do with S/V DreamChaser. We are seriously considering moving away from the dark green Captain Ron style boat and go with a white and black hull. We are thinking of doing a black stern, white from the toe rail to the water line with a wide 16-18″ wide stripe a foot down from the toe rail over the ports and teak rub rails. We are excited about this and quite a bit of additional work we are going to do. The list is extensive but not enough to have all the work needed, complete, but rather getting us the head start we need to get back on track.
We are considering the following and will share some posts on how it is going. We are also going to speak to the yard owner and see if he is willing to spend some time discussing some of the work we are considering and providing some feedback on options and how to do it. One of the things I like about the yard and resources is that they can do any of the modern work of today’s boats. They are also skilled tradesman and can offer suggestions, pros, and cons as well as optional ways to complete the work with the information to allow us to make decisions.
- Bottom Job – Haul, Block, Clean, Sand, Prepare and paint (Black color)
- Paint Toe rail to Waterline – Including cleaning sanding, putting up scaffolding around the boat, repair scratches, prep surface, prime and paint.
- Replacing some seacocks as needed (one is not working and a few others are getting old)
- Relocate the Rear Air Conditioner – This is work we can do, but I haven’t done it yet, so looking to have this done (move about 4 feet from current location to open up a lot more storage from a locker that would be better served for other functions)
- Clean, prepare and paint the entire bilge – All the area under the sole
- Replacing rear Mizzen Mast with an Aluminum one – Our rear mast is wooden and we considered having the mast removed and it would allow us to check and repair it and raise it again in the future. The yard has a used Spar and the skills to allow us to use it in place of the wooden spar while still keeping our existing boom which is a beautiful teak boom, is also possible while strengthening the spar with aluminum for spreaders and boom attachment
- Fuel Tank Pressure testing – This was a requirement of our insurance but I don’t believe it is necessary. Ironically this has kept us on a “Port Lock” provision on our insurance policy and when I called our insurance company to get written permission to cover us while moving it to the yard for this work to be done, and they removed the requirement completely from our policy. We no longer have the provision, but I think I will still have the tanks tested.
- Installing Yacht steps that will adjust and swivel 160 degrees to allow easier boarding at this dock or others we may go to. We also will have these setup so that they can be installed on either the Port or Starboard side depending on our docking location in the future as we cruise.
Wow that is quite a list and you can imagine the cost is not cheap, but this will give us a good head start on a list of things that need to be done.
Also published on Medium.