Preparations for our Cruising
Preparations for our cruising life have been several years in the making. Choices was purchased new in Chattanooga TN in 1994. At the time of purchase, I really had not thought of living aboard or extended cruising. I spent 9 years in the Chattanooga area and was on the boat most every weekend, summer and winter. There were other boaters who also spent a lot of time on the river with us. Most notably, were Gloria and Tom Cannon. We would raft up together virtually every weekend.
The beautiful area around Chattanooga and the Tennessee River gradually grew on me and I became more and more attuned to the boating life. A job move to Houston Texas, required that I move the boat to Houston in 1997. On arriving I began living on the boat as a temporary measure until we found a suitable house. However, after about 3 months I decided that I didn't need a house as I was perfectly happy living on the boat. I have been living on it ever since and would have nothing else.
I also began subscribing to all the boating magazines and cruising the web to learn as much as I could about boating and living aboard.
I eventually joined the TMCA. This is a group of power boaters and sailors who have group cruises several times a year. I found the club a great way to meet fellow cruisers and learn more about the cruising life.
I joined the Great Loop Cruising Association. Ron and Eva Stob also have a book called "Honey Let's Get a Boat". That convinced me that I wanted to do the Great Loop Cruise.
I am a member of the Power Squadron and have taken several of their boating courses. Something that I highly recommend as it is an excellent way to learn about boat handling, rules of the road and navigation. Kathy has also taken the course and become a member of the Power Squadron.
I am currently working in Little Rock AR. and it was here that I met Kathy McArthur. We discovered early on that we share a love of the water and she is particularly interested in lighthouses and she has traveled extensively around the East and West coasts photographing lighthouses. We recently took a trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and "chased" lighthouses. Kathy is particularly interested in now getting photos of the lighthouses from the water. She has a friend who does water color paintings of the lighthouses she photographs and we will eventually have those for sale on this website.
Kathy has also become a member of the Power Squadron. She impressed me and others, scoring 100% on the boating exam. She is going to take Sea Sense 5 day boating course. I am sure when she gets back she will know more than I do about running boats. I hope she will do a write up about the course and post it here.
As of this posting (Dec. 2000) we are not quite sure when we will begin our cruises, but it will be next year for sure. We are hoping that we will get to begin in May 2001, and if we do, we will travel to Little Rock first, then spend until late October on the Tennessee River and return to Houston late October or early November and begin the Great Loop in early December. We plan to take a year to do the loop. There are only two main rules to follow as far as doing this type of trip is concerned and that is DO NOT TRAVEL TO A SCHEDULE and GET OFF THE GREAT LAKES BY MID SEPTEMBER. Over and over, it has become apparent to me that if you violate those rules you will run into serious weather problems. Therefore, our only "schedule" will be to start in early December and be in Georgian Bay in early July and in the inland rivers in late September.
Our boat preparations are continuing, but we have finished most of the planned modifications.
The boat itself, is well suited to living aboard and cruising as there is separate heads and plenty of space.
The electronics that we have added are: differential GPS, radar, autopilot, VHF, fuel flow meters and a laptop with Maptech and Capn charting software. You can see the setup on the bridge photo. The laptop, radar, GPS and autopilot are all connected with NMEA connections.
Things to add are: SSB radio, MSD, fuel polishing, oil bypass filters and at some time, a water maker.
We also have a MarineSat dish antenna for TV and we are still trying to decide how we will set up for Internet and E-mail connections.
Well that is about it for now. It will be a couple of months before we do an update and let you know how we are doing in the final stages.
Richard and Kathy