Monday, October 16, 2006

Fate, part deux

East Greenbush, NY

Our continuation of the saga of our first boat...

My wife, Kristen, finally gets in touch with a real person at the home insurance company. "We're closed today. We'll have someone contact you tomorrow". Groovy!

We decided to cool off and go to the boat show. We go through the gate, and the first exhibitor is "The Sailboat Shop". They are displaying Precision trailerable sailboats. Their largest at the show, the Precision 23, gleamed white, with a broad blue stripe down the side. High above us, set upon its trailer, I recognize a boat with a pedigree. "It was designed by Jim Taylor," said Steve from The Sailboat Shop. "That's the same guy who designs Sabre's and Americas Cup Boats."

I've been looking at Catalina and Hunter sailboats until now. Nothing against them - they are living rooms that float - just a different kind of boat. They didn't ignite any passion in me. The Precision 23, on the other hand, looked like a real sailor's boat. Did it have an enclosed head? Nope. How about lots of headroom? Nope. But it was beautiful and, as I would find out later, a great boat to sail and learn on. We swarmed all over it! The few pieces of brightwork were a nice touch. There was a huge lazarette, and I fit on the forward v-berth. It had a stove! All the comforts of home. The kids loved it. "Can we get it Dad?" they asked. "We can't afford a boat right now," I reply.

Ring! Ring! Back to reality. It's Kristen's brother. "I'm here with Dad and it's a mess! There's stuff everywhere, and it's over the base of your storage shelves, washer and dryer and lots of other stuff." Nifty. They offer to help clear out the basement and we take them up on it. In the meantime, the cleaning company has showed up and they start pumping out the water.

Some may ask why we didn't head straight home. Well, it's a 7 hour drive at best, and it was noon, so by the time we got home - well, I don't know why we didn't leave right away, but we didn't. The cleaning company and Kristen's father and brother would have to whole basement cleaned out by the time we got home, at that point, so we decided to keep looking around the show.

I keep remembering all of the stuff stored on our storage shelves. Irreplacable family pictures. Instruments. Computer equipment. Heirlooms. Kristen wants to stay at the show so we can keep our minds off the destruction, but I finally decide we have to go home. 8 hours later, we're at home - fans going in the basement, placed by the cleaning company; our belongins piled hapharzadly in our garage; glops of paper and cardboard sealed together like paper mache; boxes dripping like water through a collander. It's not a pretty site. It turns out it wasn't even due to the rain - our washing machine pipe burst.

So here's where fate comes in. Two months later, after working with our insurance company, who turns out to be one of the best home insurers out there (their coverage and interest in helping us was wonderful!) we got a settlement check for the damage. It wasn't small either. One call to The Sailboat Shop and I find out that the boat we inspected in Annapolis was still for sale. And now it's parked in our driveway. So the boat we were standing on as we learned the news about the extent of the damage in our basement turned out to be the very boat we purchased with the funds from the settlement. Funny how life works.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

It's Funny How Life Works

East Greenbush, NY

Do you believe in fate?

A year ago we're all at the Annapolis boat show. We love that place! It may be crowded, but we're from upstate NY - you never get to see so many sailboats, nor do you get to meet so many people with the same interests! Our kids love to jump from boat to boat, and we love honing in on what boat we're going to purchase for our big trip.

So we're at our hotel on Sunday morning - our second day of the show. It's a windy, rainy day, like so many boat show days tend to be. I'm watching the news and they are talking about the record breaking rain storms occuring in the northeast.

Now, we've never had a problem with the basement of our house before, but I called up one of our neighbors anyway. "Brett - could you go take a look at our house and make sure everything is OK?" He lets us know that he'll look at our house in an hour or so.

We go to the boat show. We're wandering around when Brett calls. "Dude - how did you know??" he says. "What?" I ask. "Your basement is totally flooded. You've got 10 inches of water in it and everything is floating around!"

Now I'm a pessimistic kind of guy. I immediately get upset and frustrated. "We have to go right away!" I say to my wife, Kristen. "Why don't we call the insurance company and have my parents look at the house" she replies.

I'm OK with that. We remember the name of the insurance company. It's Sunday. I try calling them about 10 times, and get hung up on by the automatic system about 11 times! At least that's the way it seemed. A myriad of buttons pushed, dozens of minutes of hold music, and I get hung up on. I swear I'll never do business with this home insurance company again!

I reach Kristen's brother (her parents are nowhere to be found). He'll head down right away. Our neighbor, who had his basement flood before, gives us the name of a place that can pump it, dry it and clean it. I call them up. "We'll be over soon" they say.

We decide to grab some food before we try the insurance company again. I was so frustrated and I needed a break. We had a wonderful brunch, and then I go try to call again. 5 more times, 30 more minutes, nothing. Kristen says "Let me try", so I do. One call, she's on the phone with the company.

I'll post more tomorrow!

Our Plans - The Big Trip

East Greenbush, NY

I just realized. I didn't tell you the long and the short of our plans, or as we call it, "The big trip"!

Our final agenda is to, in June of 2009, take our kids out of school and leave for a year long journey along the Eastern coast of the United States. We are currently planning to stage our final boat (one more to go after this Passport 40) out of the Cape Cod area. In June, we'll go north for a couple of months, and then gradually head south. If we make it to Florida, great. If we make it farther, that works too! If it takes a little longer than a year - well, I'm sure we won't be complaining.

So as I place these blog entries online, keep in mind what our final goal is, as that's the reason the tasks we're completing exist.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Start

East Greenbush, NY

I have a lot to write here. This will become the story of the Labatt-Simon's journey to accomplish a dream. I know - that sounds cheesy. I can't help it.

I asked my family for a sailboat when I was 13. I got one - it was about 10 inches long and you could inflate it in about 3 seconds (funny family). Two days ago we received word that our offer on our second sailboat - a Passport 40 - was accepted, and thus starts step two of our adventures.

Within this blog I'll go both forward and backward. I'll describe almost the exact moment approximately 2 years ago when I first suggested to my wife (Kristen) that we spend a year cruising. You'll also hear about current news and future plans, such as our trip next week to sea trial our boat, and our trip we'll be taking in a few months to bring our new boat from Annapolis to Lake Champlain.

Anyway, I hope everyone appreciates this blog. I've started it as much for me as for others who are interested in how we've arrived here today, and where we'll be in the future. Oh gawd... more cheese. I'll try to keep it to a minimum!

I'll just start today with some information about our family. I won't start with our first Coast Guard call, or our first "timber" of our mast on our Precision 23 (our first boat), or with running out of gas on the outboard during a thunderstorm! By the way - all of those things happened this season - our first season with our first boat - Anticipation. You'll get to know us pretty well!

So about our family. I'm Chris, just celebrating the 6th anniversary of my 29th birthday. My wife is Kristen, only slightly younger than me. Our son is Casey, 9 going on 10. Our daughter is Kaitlin, 5 going on 16. We live in East Greenbush, NY. I own an information security and computer networking company. My wife works at the local YMCA and takes care of our kids. Our kids? We put them in a dark closet sewing clothes and feed them moldy bread and dirty water. I'm just kidding! Sheesh! They go to Genet Elementary, and are in 5th and 1st grades respectively.

That's all for now. The picture above is of our current/old boat - our wonderful Precision 23 - Anticipation.