The Journey

“Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ― Mark Twain

The idea was simple enough; sell that stuff that had been sitting in the basement since the last move and all of the rest that had been accumulated over the years, buy a boat, live simply, and head for the South Pacific.  And that is exactly the direction we are headed in!  After two years of Craigslist adds and community yard sales, the stuff is gone.  We don’t miss any of it.  The house has been sold, and the boat has been purchased.  The hard part of the journey, as we are finding out, is just beginning.

On July 12, 2013, immediately after we closed, we moved Sea Major to a different marina.  The marina is called Brewer Sakonnet Marina and is located in Portsmouth, RI.  As much as we would like to cut those dock lines and set sail to exotic ports, the list of boat projects has only been growing.  We have been cleaning, loading, fixing, installing, etc. for about four weeks now and are starting to understand why people take years to outfit their boats.  But the light is beginning to shine at the end of the tunnel, and we can see that the basic level of safety for coastal sailing is nearly met.

It is our immediate plan to set sail for Maine in less than a week (August 2013).  While there, we will get to spend some time with our dear old friends The Murrays.  Elizabeth and Andrew are scheduled to move there on August 12th.  After spending a few weeks with them, we hope to make our way south to Wildwood, NJ.  It is there that we will spend some time with Mitchell’s family and continue working on the boat to make her a blue water cruiser.  Once we have everything in order, we will start working our way south to the islands in the Caribbean (after a brief visit to Columbus to meet the newest member of Natalie’s sister’s family).  If we make it to the Turks and Caicos, we will then make the call to turn south-west through the Windward passage and head to Panama or to continue on the thorny path through the Caribbean (click here).  If all goes well and we are enjoying ourselves, we hope to make it through the Panama Canal and head for the South Pacific Islands.  We hope to explore the South Pacific until our money runs out!

As we set out, we want to thank our family, friends and co-workers for their love and support.  We love and will miss each one of you over the next two years!  Please call, send email updates and come visit!

March 2014 UPDATE: Changing Course

July 2014 UPDATE: Campervan Confessions

Our Sailboat

On July 12, 2013 we became the proud owners of Sea Major.

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Sea Major is a 39 foot Westerly Sealord sailboat.  She was born in England in 1984.  We plan on keeping her name the same seeing that we would be offended if someone wanted to change our names when we were 29 years old.  That and it cost a good deal of money and time to change a boat’s name.

When we purchased Sea Major, we knew that she was a very solid and safe boat.  She was built under Lloyd’s Register of Shipping which is a badge of honor in the shipbuilding world.  It assures that high standards were met when Sea Major was being built.

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Sea Major is a center cockpit sailboat.  This allows for a large aft cabin (our bedroom) with a separate head (bathroom) in the back of the boat.  Our berth (bed) is the same size as a queen bed at the top and tapers in at our feet.  Next to our bed is another berth that can sleep one person.  In addition to a closet, our cabin has a ton of storage for clothes and our camping gear.  Walking forward, you pass through a hallway (under the cockpit) that houses 2 berths (bunk beds).  At the end of the hallway and around the corner, you run into the companionway (front door/stairs). Next to the companionway, on the port (left) side, is a navigation table and seat.  This has a good deal of the electronics that will help us navigate and stay safe.  Opposite the nav table is the galley (kitchen).  It is shaped like an U and includes a double basin sink (which is a step up from our apartment), a 2 burner stove and oven, a microwave, a refrigerator/freezer and more counter space than our apartment in the Short North.  The galley also has storage for plates, bowls, cups and other goodies (in the 2 cabinets).  Past the galley lies the salon (family room).  The salon has two ‘couches’ which convert to sea berths when we are under way (sailing/motoring).  In the middle of the salon is a table that collapses and provides storage for our adult beverages!  Behind, above and below the couches are a ton of storage areas for books, food, super cool tupperware containers, blankets, etc.  Moving forward past the salon are 2 closets (Mitchell got the larger one) on the starboard (right) side.  Directly across from the closets lives the forward head (bathroom).  At the very front of the boat there is a vee berth.  This can be closed off and functions as another bedroom that sleeps two.

Located through the companionway is a very roomy cockpit in which even Mitchell can lay. Towards the back of the cockpit is the steering wheel and more navigation equipment.  The cockpit is completely covered by a dodger (like a windshield) and bimini (for shade).   The wide decks are very easy to walk around on and have lots of good handholds.  They are currently covered by ugly brown nonskid pads… but not for long.  We plan to pull them (painstakingly) up and recover them with a more attractive nonskid surface.  Around the perimeter of the deck, Sea Major has lifelines with 2 entrances (gates).  In the back, there is a built in swim ladder.

Sea Major is considered a sloop.  This means that she has a mainsail and a headsail.  Sea Major also came with a dinghy and 4 hp outboard motor.  This is what we will use to get ashore when we are anchored out.

IMG_4571 Center Cockpit

IMG_4618 Aft Cabin (our bedroom)

IMG_4594 Hallway/Two More Berths (bunk beds)

IMG_4588 The Galley

IMG_4591 Navigation Table

IMG_4595 Salon (the table opens up)

IMG_4603 The Head (toilet and shower)

IMG_4609 Vee Berth

Links

People We’ve Met Along The Way

The blog of our first sailing friends, Joe and Anne, from Rhode Island.  They are taking the next 2 or 3 years to explore the Caribbean and maybe beyond on their beautiful sailboat Little Wing.  http://abblittlewing.wordpress.com/

Our new sailing friends, Drena and JR, on s/v Journey.  Like us, they have left jobs for a couple of years to pursue their dream of traveling before returning to the workforce.  http://sailingjourney.net/

A retired couple, Jim and Angela, who we met in Beaufort, SC.  They are on a sailboat called Bel Canto (Italian for Beautiful Singing).  http://www.fotogypsiesatsea.com/

One of many boats that we went through the Dismal Swamp with and saw again further south – Benny and Lisa on s/v Rhiannon.  http://www.rhiannonvoyages.blogspot.com/

A first for us – friends who own a catamaran – s/v Summertime Rolls!  We met Brian and Rebecca in Bimini, Bahamas.  http://summertimerolls.net/

The fantastic couple who we met and hiked the cave with at Hatchet Bay, Eleuthera.  Myron and Dena on s/v Hold Fast.  http://svholdfast.blogspot.com/

Another couple who we met in Hatchet Bay at the cruiser’s happy hour on the dinghy dock.  Carol and Bunky on s/v Lunahttp://goodsloopluna.blogspot.com/

A couple close to our age, on s/v Anthyllide, who are moving back to land shortly after sailing for almost 10 years.  They have a cat that looks just like Muna (it seems to be a trend) and have visited most of the places that we are headed for!  https://sites.google.com/site/svanthyllide/

It’s a small world after all … this couple, Corky and Anna on s/v Kabria, also purchased a boat in Portsmouth, RI.  They too have taken a couple years off from work to follow their dream.  http://kabriasailing.com/

A Good Friend From Back Home

Our friend Katie Brollier’s blog about navigating the uncharted waters of parenthood: http://katiebrollier.wordpress.com/

Blogs We Have Stumbled Upon 

Inspirational couple who is traveling with their baby (the link will take you to a post they wrote about raising their baby on a sailboat):  http://www.windtraveler.net/2013/03/bringing-up-baby-on-boat.html

A couple who has the same exact boat as us and are sailing around the world on it: http://yachtcamomile.co.uk/

Another person who has a Westerly Sealord: http://morianblog.wordpress.com/about/

Couple (with no sailing experience) who sailed around the world, drove across the USA in a Porsche, took a 60,000 mile road trip in a VW bus and are now raising their children on a sailboat while cruising the coast of Mexico:  http://www.bumfuzzle.com/adventures/

Books

Natalie’s favorite sailing author: http://www.womenandcruising.com/blog/2012/12/janna-cawrse-esarey-sailing-as-a-metaphor-for-marriage/  Check out her book mentioned on the site!  It will give you a better idea of why we are setting out on this adventure.

Another fantasitic book http://www.amazon.com/Changing-Course-Womans-Choosing-Cruising/dp/0071427899/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1381462705&sr=1-2&keywords=women+and+cruising It truly puts the “why we are doing this” into words.

Improvements

You might be wondering “what the hell do the two of them do all day?”   Well wonder no longer…below you will find a list of the changes we have made to the boat.

  1. new lifelines
  2. new cockpit cushions
  3. installed a shelf for the coffee pot
  4. installed a hanging basket below the microwave
  5. removed spice holder
  6. installed new Garmin GPS/chartplotter and radar
  7. removed wooden organizer above navigation table
  8. installed 3 new fans
  9. removed plastic “glasses” holders from near the companionway
  10. built fishing rod holders
  11. 4 pictures hung on the wall
  12. hung mirror in forward head
  13. installed magnetic knife holder next to coffee pot (not used for knives)
  14. installed fiddle across the top of plates and bowls so they don’t fall out when underway
  15. modified a 2 inch memory foam topper for our bed (we now sleep through the night)
  16. installed a water filter and faucet
  17. hung a swinging fruit basket
  18. cleaned almost every inch of the boat (inside and out)
  19. replaced velcro that holds the salon cushions to the wall
  20. fixed broken hinges on our bed (and yes they were broken before we bought the boat!)
  21. cut off the wooden fiddle that was cutting into Natalie’s back during the night
  22. sectioned off the storage area under the single berth in the aft cabin from the steering mechanism
  23. removed cracked wood from in the cockpit and replaced with teak
  24. washed all running rigging
  25. removed the old Raytheon radar
  26. installed cockpit table
  27. made hanging mason jar candle holders for the cockpit
  28. cleaned out the water tanks
  29. removed all the wire nuts
  30. secured the raw water strainer
  31. installed led lighting in the galley
  32. had the bottom painted
  33. had the zincs replaced
  34. began removing the ugly brown nonskid from the decks
  35. had the carburetor and water pump replaced on the dinghy
  36. washed the bottom of the dinghy
  37. cleaned the fenders
  38. bought and mounted an EPRIB
  39. bought and mounted a gas grill on the aft rail
  40. installed a bracket to hold the life ring given to us at our wedding
  41. installed a paper towel holder
  42. screwed the knife block into a cabinet (so they are secure)
  43. replaced battery in the stove
  44. installed extra hanger rods in each closet
  45. installed an anchor swivel
  46. had the Navman instruments repaired (depth and speed)
  47. washed and rehung the curtains
  48. new dock lines
  49. purchased a sea anchor
  50. made a hanging shelf for the computer in the aft cabin (so we can watch movies)
  51. new anchor
  52. new floating line for the life ring and life horseshoe
  53. new drogue (for use during storms)
  54. installed new autopilot
  55. purchased an offshore medical kit
  56. new 10 inch memory foam bed and reconfigured the aft cabin
  57. installed dinghy davits
  58. new anchor and navigation lights for the dinghy
  59. made a snap on pouch for the dingy
  60. washdown pump installed
  61. LED lights in most used spots
  62. new windlass
  63. 300 feet of G40 chain
  64. anchor roller rebedded
  65. four 100 watt solar panels- velcro sewn onto bimini to hold them
  66. new kitchen window (others to follow)
  67. engine maintenance
  68. water tanks cleaned out again
  69. unstuck 2 frozen seacocks
  70. NMEA network installed
  71. strong point mounted at helm (to clip into with our tethers)
  72. 2 new halyards
  73. new storm jib
  74. purchased more new dock lines, fenders and anchor rode
  75. new handheld VHF/GPS
  76. purchased all of the needed electronic charts for our chartplotter
  77. jerry cans for water, diesel and gas
  78. scraped and sanded 1/3 of the deck
  79. ordered and hung an American flag off the stern rail
  80. bought a quarentine flag and a few country flags that we will need right away
  81. high water alarms installed
  82. cleaned out and reinstalled both head vents
  83. clean mainsail strong track
  84. stained and polyurethaned 8 wood pieces on the boat
  85. (updated on 11/8/13- after leaving NJ)

Follow Us

To see where we have been thus far, visit our googlemap (click here).  If you click on the red markers, it will tell you the specifics of each stop!  [I believe you need a google/gmail account to view the map.]

If you would like to receive an email every time we publish a new post, please click on the little black “Follow” box.  [It is usually in the bottom right hand corner of the webpage.]  Or there should be a grey “Follow” tab you can click on towards the bottom of the column on the right.

About Us

We are Natalie and Mitchell.   The two of us met in August 2009 and were married in September 2012.

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Natalie was born in Steubenville, OH and then moved to Columbus, OH when she was 4 years old.  She went to grade school and high school in Columbus.  After high school, Natalie attended The Ohio State University and earned a BS and M.Ed in Elementary Education.  She immediately started teaching in Columbus for South-Western City Schools.  After 4 years of teaching 2nd grade, Natalie moved to Livermore, California for a year to teach at YMCA Camp Arroyo Outdoor School.  She then returned to Columbus to teach for the same school district for 5 more years.  Natalie has graciously been granted a leave of absence to follow her dream of sailing to the South Pacific.

Mitchell was born and raised in New Bethlehem, PA.  He attended elementary, middle and high school there.  In the summers he lived and worked in Wildwood, NJ with his family who still have businesses along the boardwalk.  After high school, Mitchell attended The University of Pittsburgh.  After earning degrees in Physics and Mechanical Engineering, Mitchell started coursework at The Ohio State University in the Physics Graduate Program.  Six years later, he graduated with his PhD in Physics.  Mitchell felt as if this was the perfect time to withdraw from society and live life as a vagabond.

Our first sailboat was a Catalina 27 named Blue that hailed from Lorain, OH on Lake Erie.  It is on Blue that Mitchell proposed to Natalie and plans were made to sail to the South Pacific.

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Our New Anchor

Back in July 2013, we purchased Sea Major in Rhode Island.  At that time, she came equipped with a CQR anchor.  Knowing that we would need something more reliable, we upgraded to a Rocna before setting sail on our year-long adventure!!

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Now that we have sold Sea Major and moved back on land, we have once again upgraded our anchor and gear – presenting …

Miss Olivia Ann Rutkowski – Born 1-29-15 at 3:32 p.m. – 7 lbs 12 oz and 20.5 inches

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Our little Olive has been a wonderful new addition to our family.  We are quickly learning the tricks of the trade and what makes Miss Olivia happy!  The three of us are looking forward to some warm weather so we can get out and explore the hiking trails around our new home.  In the meantime … Mitchell can’t stop looking for our next sailboat online!

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Unfortunately, this will be s/v Sea Major’s last blog post. Thank you for sharing our sailing adventure with us!  We have enjoyed all your comments and appreciated all your well-wishes.  Cheers!!  -Natalie, Mitchell and Olivia

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,600 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Oh The Places We Went…

As most of you know, Mitchell and I have had yet another big change in our lives since I last wrote.  Mitchell was offered an Engineering position at IBM in Hopewell Junction, NY.  Immediately after accepting the offer, we headed to New York in hopes of finding a place to live.  As we toured apartment after apartment, the realtors commented about how they knew that the spaces were quite small.  However, we found them all to have MUCH more square footage than the boat or our last apartment in downtown Columbus!

We quickly settled on an affordable (for NY standards) two-bedroom apartment in the cute little Village of Fishkill.  The apartment is located right off of Main Street so the baby and I will be able to stroll around town during the afternoons!

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Our final days in Columbus were spent saying goodbyes to family and friends.  My mom and sister even set aside a whole evening to help me make some things for the baby.   Once finished, we had a beautiful spread of hooded bath towels, burp cloths and pacifier holders.  Soooooo much fun- thanks Mom and Megan!

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Soon afterwards, Mitchell packed up the moving truck all by himself and headed out to NY.  After stopping to pick up stuff from 4 different places in Columbus, he proceed to grab the majority of our belongings (that is- the stuff that we didn’t sell before buying the boat) at my dad’s lakehouse in Vermilion, OH.  Then, well rested after a night spent at his mom’s house in PA, Mitchell finished the 9 hour drive to NY and unloaded the truck.  Many, many thanks to him for doing the dreaded moving truck drive and heavy lifting without my help.  Words cannot express how much I appreciate his willingness to make the move prior to me joining him in NY.

While Mitchell was busy wheeling boxes in and out of our new apartment, I was showered in love and more baby gifts back in Columbus.  My mom and sister threw us a beautiful baby shower before I headed to New York.  Everything turned out so nicely and my mom’s house looked great with all the baby AND Christmas decorations!  Thank you- from the bottom of my heart- to everyone who helped with the shower, made the trip to Columbus and sent/brought a present for the baby.  Once again, I was overwhelmed by the generosity of family and friends.

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My dad graciously agreed to help me drive out to NY so I didn’t have to make the 9 hour trip alone.  On the way out of town, I made one last stop at my cousin Jan’s house.  She has been cat-sitting for our pretty little striped “daughter” for over a year now.  Muna was a little traumatized at first, but quickly adjusted to her new home and seems to remember her parents!  She is also a BIG fan of all the squirrels that come right up to the back porch to look at her through the glass door.

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After making it to Fishkill without going into labor (at 34 weeks) or getting stranded in the looming snow storm that was headed straight for us, my dad helped me with some of the unpacking (when I wasn’t pacing back and forth wondering what I’d gotten myself into).  The apartment, baby’s room and Christmas decorations quickly got put together in hopes of getting settled in before the big day.

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Our “tree” last year…

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In the midst of the move and Mitchell starting his new job, we also somehow managed to close on the boat.  A man from Florida decided to purchase Sea Major and we ‘handed her over’ on Mitchell’s birthday.  It was very bittersweet, but we feel that she is in good hands.  She took good care of us for over a year and we will never forget all the places she let us visit.  Mitchell and I will miss you Sea Major!

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And now for our next adventure …

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We are 36 weeks today and are very grateful that this little one has agreed to wait until at least this long to make his/her entrance into the world.  The suitcase is packed and the baby room is more-or-less ready to welcome Baby Rutkowski on January 21st (or sooner).

Happy Holidays to you all.  Stay tuned for one last blog post once the baby arrives!