Sunday, April 8, 2012


OK. This is long overdue. We have had the blog site up for about four months, and I have yet to post. Bud (Richard) has been doing the heavy lifting. So, now it is my turn.

The Sailing Adventure Begins

According to me our sailing adventure began about four and a half years ago, when one Sunday afternoon while surfing on the web, I asked Bud what he was reading. He sheepishly mentioned that he was thinking about taking a sailing course. He needed something to deal with his growing impatience with his epiphany that we needed to go back to the sea . This sailing course would allow us to bareboat charter (something he had done many times before, but to do today needed documentation), and work towards getting his captain's license. The more we discussed, I realized that he wasn’t talking about a course for sailing our 14 foot laser, but rather a week long course for cruising on a 40 foot sailboat. My mind raced back to a walk we took when we first met on the boardwalk of Beaufort, NC. It was then that Bud revealed his dream to someday buy a sailboat and cruise. At the time, I had no idea what this meant, but it scared me to death. I thought to myself not to worry, because this would never happen….it is only a dream. Now as I think back on our life adventures leading to that fateful Sunday afternoon, it is clear that this dream would happen.

The Sailing Pre-Adventure Days

About a year into our relationship, Bud bought a boat. This was not a cruising sailboat (thank goodness, because I was not ready for that yet), but a 17 foot Montauk Boston Whaler. Living in Beaufort, NC, this boat gave us access to remote barrier islands, fishing adventures, and unforgettable memories. If I thought for a moment that Bud had a master plan to make his dream a reality, this was one brilliant move. For a native Wisconsinite with limited exposure to the ocean growing up but an avid passion for nature, this boat got me hooked. From the harbor seal that came up to the boat and tried to take a bite out of my arm when I tried to touch it (Yes, I learned that it is not a good idea to touch animals in nature….), to discovering pelican skeletons and green sea turtle bones on walks through the dunes, this boat opened up the world that the ocean has to offer. I wanted to experience everything….

On one of our weekend adventures cruising down Taylors Creek in Beaufort North Carolina, Bud turned 180 degrees and motored slowly around one of the sailboats anchored in the harbor. He said to me, “Isn’t she beautiful?” Bud recalled his days in Charleston as a boat broker, and remembered selling a Hans Christian. To him, the Hans was one of the most beautiful sailboats in the world. At that time, all sailboats looked the same to me, but I enthusiastically agreed. Before I knew it, Bud had already become friends with the owner, and we were asked aboard. I had been sailing my whole life, but this was the first time I ever stepped aboard a sailboat larger than 15 feet. She was a 48 foot Hans Christian with an aft cabin. According to Bud she was huge, but according to me she was dark and claustrophobic. Bud left the boat elated; I left the boat even more scared to death of his dream.

Reality Strikes

So, when the dream reemerged fifteen years later, I knew two things: 1. The dream was going to happen with or without me, and 2. I needed to deal with my fears if I wanted to be part of it. By the end of the afternoon, we decided that both of us would take an ASA course on cruising offered by the Blue Water Sailing School. During the week between Christmas and New Years of 2007, Bud and I joined a mother and son and the captain of Passion, a 40 foot Beneteau, for a cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Key Largo and back again. By the end of the week, after sailing through gale force winds, and surviving three grueling exams (I am not sure which was worse….the weather or the exams), I was ready to join Bud in his dream.

I am not sure if this sailing course (or rather the exams from the course) determined the next decision, but after deciding that it would be in our best interest to get the required radio licenses for communicating by SSB, I drew the short straw. “We both don’t need to be licensed right away”, he said, “just one of us.” Bud worded it so convincingly. “I think it would be good for you to get the licenses first so you have confidence in operating the radio.” Little did I know that he had already researched the requirements for the licenses, and knew that it would involve more exams. I was so gullible back then…...

HAMing it

It would be a while before I felt that the timing was right to begin the process (or rather torture). Once we sold the house in Athens, GA, and bought Layla, it was time. So, I purchased the two study books from ARRL for the Technician and General Class license exams, and began reading for the Technician license. Before taking the first exam, I found an 8 hour review class offered in Birmingham, AL, and drove up the night before. The review class turned out to be, as I put it, ‘studying for the exam on your own in very uncomfortable chairs for an excruciating 8 hours straight’.

I survived, and on 15 October, 2011, I became an official HAM licensed operator: KK4EYI.

The Technician license has limited privileges on SSB, and so to expand our capabilities for keeping in touch by email while offshore, there was one more exam to pass: General. This time I found a study class offered in the Atlanta area, with six 2-hour classes held weekly in the evening. This turned out to be a much better learning experience, and I made connections with several other newbies and oldies to HAM radio. Although in the end, I studied for the exam (which I have to agree is the key to passing), I now feel like I have a good understanding of the ins-and-outs of good, legal, and safe radio communications. On 25 February, 2012, I successfully aced the General exam.

And so, this is KK4EYI logging off.....


  1. That is a great story. Do you already have a HAM or SSB onboard or will you be outfitting one? We had an Icom on our last boat and are now ready to get a new radio for this boat. A lot has changed in the technology of radios. Can you give any advice on buying a new one?

  2. Hi Grem's,

    Yes, we have the ICOM marine 802 SSB radio with the Pactor 3 modem. While we have not done a recent search, there are few players on the market having the full capabilities of the 802 (such as Furuno and SEA). I am sure you have already come across this website, but describes the ICOM as the undisputed leader. Expensive, yes. But ICOM sets the standard, and can be modified. I am sure we will be learning more about the radio with more use, and will keep you posted on our experiences.



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