Preparations

The sluggard does not plow in the autumn;
he will seek at harvest and have nothing.

 Proverbs 20:4

    One of the big things I learned from one of my first mentors was “Proper preparation prevents poor performance.” God, in his grace, brought us back to the States before we experienced much poor performance. Doing the hard work up front enables us to perform at a higher level later. Two-a-days in the heat of Summer pays off in wins for the football team in the Fall. Hundreds of miles of training runs equals a successful marathon and probably a PR. Hours spent studying vocabulary means a smoother trip overseas. A pattern of obedience in small things helps us choose the right thing in the face of difficulty or temptation.

    As I have said before, what we are doing now does not feel like it is fulfilling our missionary calling. After all, we are “suffering for Jesus” in Coronado, CA.
But, we are building a foundation from which we can more effectively serve in the coming years. When we left last year, we weren’t nearly as ready as we needed to be. Work obligations kept us from doing all that needed to be done in order for us to leave the country for 3-5 years. We really have benefitted from this unplanned return. Of course, God knew what it would take to convince us to bring the boat all the way back here for six months.
    The primary purpose of our return was my VA disability claim. My pre-discharge claim was cancelled (rather than the VA being delinquent on their 90-day requirement). So, I re-initiated everything in May. This month I had appointments for my sleep apnea, hearing loss and tinnitus, had some pre-cancerous spots taken care of and began physical therapy for my hips, neck and back. Just this week, I received my disability rating of 80%. I had no idea how broken I was. It is a little encouraging in that I don’t have to feel so guilty when I just can’t make myself play with the kids because I don’t feel well. At the same time, 80% disability sounds like I am 80% disabled! That is humbling. The VA concurs that my bad knees, hips, ankle, neck, migraines, TBI, hearing loss, etc. are the result of more than two decades of military service. In any case, that’s a big check in the box. Technically, I am now officially a disabled veteran. :-/
    Speaking of medical issues, another reason for us to return was the probability of Brandy needing a hysterectomy. After consultation with her doctor, we opted for a hysteroscopy, a procedure that would take a closer look and help determine if a hysterectomy was really indicated. She had the procedure in the beginning of the month. The doctor found an area of interest and biopsied it. Results came back and Brandy was given the green light. No hysterectomy needed, follow up with a regular exam in a year. Praise the Lord!
    After medical issues, we have been focused on developing our support network. Even though we are not “in the field,”our financial needs are probably greatest right now. Once we leave, most of our expenses will be things like insurance, fuel, rental cars to get to missionaries, the occasional marina and saving for repairs. A common conservative estimate is that you should plan for 10-20% of the boat’s value for annual maintenance. For us, that is about $15,000-$30,000 a year. Right now, we are knocking out some pretty major (expensive) projects that will allow us to leave behind the conveniences of half a dozen West Marine‘s within 25 miles and more real chandleries and highly skilled marine craftsmen that we can shake a stick at. We know that we have a $10,000 standing rigging job waiting for us in New Zealand, so we need to plan for that. We are currently about 25% funded of our $3000 monthly goal. Right now we have $430.41 in our ministry account with $1715.35 of ministry expenses sitting on a credit card. (If you would like to help, you can give online here: – select “Dennis Kelly Ankyrios Mission” from the dropdown. Also, we have an Amazon wish list if you wanted to purchase something for us.)
    Many issues surfaced while we were in Mexico. First and foremost, our battery bank is severely deficient. We had a consultation by an electrician this week. As nice as it would be, LiFePO4 batteries are not in our future (unless a generous donor wanted to help out with a $15,000 donation). So, for about a third of the price, we will be installing 765 Ah of AGM batteries as well as larger alternators and a regulator to ensure that we don’t kill the new batteries. He also looked at our solar array and will be coming back to help us investigate why we are only getting about 50% out of our panels.
    In a couple of weeks we are going to have to haul the boat out of the water for new bottom paint ($2200), all new through-hulls ($400 / through-hull x 9) and repairs of the port sail drive ($900). We would do the through hulls, but the yards around here won’t let you do any work below the waterline in their yards (probably some union thing). On the “cheaper” side, we were able to do much work ourselves this month. Our shift cable broke (while trying to anchor – not a great time, but at least the anchor was ready to let go and the anchorage wasn’t too crowded) and I was able to jury-rig a solution (temporary). I climbed the mast to fix a shorted out anchor light (at anchor in a busy anchorage – probably as much fun as any amusement park ride I’ve done).  
I’ve troubleshot and repaired a water leak and a water pump issue. I have been investigating a number of electrical issues (thus the electrician visit). Both vehicles were in the shop this month ($900 on the truck for suspension and A/C work!) and I ended up doing about $1200 dollars of work myself (brake booster on truck went out, brake job on the car). There is always something to fix around here.
    It isn’t all about working on the boat, we have been busy with ministry as well. Brandy is actively involved in two ladies’ Bible studies. I have gotten plugged in to the Coronado Men’s Connection. We have both been mentoring and discipling some younger brothers and sisters. I have been handyman-on-call for the church as we have been sprucing up the place and most of the men in the church have like jobs or something. The kids attended Vacation Bible School last week and this week as well as youth for the older three. Hope has gotten some one-on-one time with an older girl she looks up to. Just today she headed off for high school youth camp for a week thanks to a generous scholarship from the church.
    I have been doing quite a bit of research for my doctoral project. I had intended to spend this year writing it, but we have been a little busy. I am developing a program to help reinvigorate missionaries and pastors, or really any believer, who are on the verge of burnout and losing their passion and love for the Lord. Rather than the tired “try harder,” “fake it till you make it,” “just pray more” kind of Sunday school answers, I am looking outside the walls of the church for scientific support for spiritual disciplines. I am not saying that the Bible is insufficient, by any means, but I am saying that science supports biblical truth. People who know the Bible sometimes have a hard time hearing what it says to them. Things like neuroplasticity and neurogenesis (Romans 12:2 – renewing the mind), epigenetics and gene activation (Exodus 20:5 – generational curses), and collaborative intelligence and learning (Acts 2:42 – devoted to teaching, spiritual gifts and fellowship). I’ve been listening to tons of TedTalks and MetaLearn.net podcasts while I work on the boat (multi-tasking).
    We’ve also had some fun. We won tickets to Comic-Con and Hope and I both dressed as Captain America.
The other four got in free and they all dressed as Yu-Gi-Oh characters.  
Because we acted as a picket boat to keep other boats at least 900 feet from the fireworks barge, we had front-row seats to the Big Bay Boom.
Brandy and the kids thoroughly enjoyed cat-sitting for our friends with 2 cats and 3 little kittens.  
We had a great visit with some friends, Rodolphe and Stephanie Jourdan from 20 years ago who used to live on a boat.
We had our friends Robert and Cheryl Bradshaw out for a sail. We forget that this life isn’t routine for most people. We were just moving the boat like we always do, but the Bradshaw’s had a good time.
    Next month we will no longer have Fiddler’s Cove Marina as an option. We were just informed that there will be no vacancy for us after 01 August. We have a good lead on a place we can take the boat that should be cheap to possibly free! It should also allow us to leave the boat for extended periods, allowing for a trip East before we head south again in November. We are looking forward to some more fun and practical training. The middle two weeks of August, we will be dog-sitting, which will give us time to pull the boat out. After that, we are planning a 10-12 day trip around the Channel Islands. We have to be back by the beginning of September because I have been invited to preach the whole month of September. We are also looking into the feasibility of my taking a wilderness EMT course. The course is pretty expensive and takes a month, but it would be nice to have the training for our missionary work.
    This has been a lengthy post, but a month is a long time. If you’ve read this far, thank you for your dedication. Once again, I will try to do better about posting more frequently. God bless you all. If you don’t mind, comment on the post so we can get a sense of who’s seeing this and so we can pray for you. Blessings and peace!

Update – 21 June 2017

And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”
– Luke 18:29, 30
I cannot believe that we have been back in the US for almost two months. It has been even longer since we have updated all of you. We were just talking this morning about how it could be that we have so little time even though I don’t go to work for 8 or more hours each day. Theoretically, there should be an additional 40 man hours a week available. In any case, I have a couple of hours between meetings this morning and so here we are.
Probably the first question you might have is, what have we been doing. The short answer is moving the boat. Basically, we have to move the boat every three days, to anchor from a dock or vice versa. Each evolution consumes 2-3 hours, depending on the distance between them. Being without a “home” has its challenges. When we left San Diego last October, we gave up our slip at the Navy marina (Fiddler’s Cove) we had called home for two years. At that time, we didn’t intend to return for any significant time and figured iliving at anchor would be good practice for cruising. When we decided to bring the boat back a couple of months ago, we planned to use our reciprocal agreements through the Navy Yacht Club San Diego to stay at the dozens of yacht club marinas in the bay for next to nothing. As it happens, we practically exhausted those options in the first month. Long story short, we can anchor for free in San Diego Bay for 9 nights a month and have three complimentary nights a month at the Coronado Cays Yacht Club marina. The remaining 18 nights are paid stays at various places ranging from $0.50-$2.00 per foot per night. $19 a night at Fiddler’s Cove is not terrible, but contrary to what we were told in February, we can only stay 60 days per year (instead of 120) and $570 a month is significantly more than the $300 we were quoted. We have looked at other longer-term options, but being a catamaran (wide) means we need an end-tie or a side-tie (very limited) and living aboard incurs additional fees (to the tune of $150 per person per month). So, we remain vagrants.

va·grant

ˈvāɡrənt/

noun

  1. 1.

    a person without a settled home or regular work who wanders from place to place and lives by begging.

    synonyms:

    street person, homeless person, tramp, hobo, drifter, down-and-out, derelict, beggar;

We’ve decided that since we aren’t fully supported yet, that we have nothing to lose by being honest about the challenges we are facing, and to some degree, that missionaries share in general. We’ve decided that one of the ways God is working in our lives right now is to give us a sense of the struggles that missionaries face, especially when they are “home.” One of the things we are learning is that being a missionary in the field is challenging, but not being in the field is in some ways harder.
Sure, it is great to be back to the conveniences of fast food, department stores, super centers and movie theaters. It is great that everyone speaks English. It is nice to be “home.” What is home? For us, home is wherever we drop the anchor. When we left in October, we had to step away from groups and organizations that we had been involved with: First Baptist Church Coronado, AWANA, TrailLife USA, American Heritage Girls, Sisterhood Bible study, Fiddler’s Cove Marina community / family and others, not to mention the Navy. These groups were part of our identity and purpose. Our new identity and purpose is pastoral care to missionaries. Now that we are back, we don’t fit anywhere. Even though everyone is happy to see us, we are on the fringe at best and feel like outsiders. We are not “working” in the sense that we are not in a foreign country, but taking care of the administrative details that need to be done so that we can be free to serve elsewhere. We know that God has a purpose in our being back, but we are having an identity crisis that is amplified every time we have to explain why we are here and not there. We have a personal sense of not being where we belong in spite of our intellectual understanding of the delays. To some degree,  most missionaries struggle with this sense of being faithful to their calling. Coming back to the States is necessary, but is not necessarily relaxing, comfortable, or refreshing. The work is there and they are not. It is an opportunity, however, to be humbled as God reminds us that the work is his, not ours. So, as much as missionaries enjoy seeing friends and family and “taking a break,” many eagerly anticipate returning to the field, returning “home.” We are keenly aware that this world is not our home and that we will never truly be at peace until we arrive at our eternal home in God’s heavenly kingdom. Until then, may we find our purpose in whatever place we find ourselves.
So, in between boat relocations, I’ve been doing maintenance. The biggest accomplishment (and most expensive so far) has been the installation of a new solar controller. After talking to tech support, we determined that our nearly 15 year old controller was done. We went with the Victron Energy MPPT 150/70 TR Solar Charge Controller and the optional bluetooth dongle that allows us to see what the solar panels are doing on our iPad. Very nice feature and super helpful.
The first few days were disappointing, but we have seen better results the last couple of days. We have been hitting 100% charge by sunset purely on solar and wind. Speaking of wind, our wind generator has not worked since we got the boat. I’ve been troubleshooting off and on for a couple of years to no avail. A couple of weeks ago, I pulled the generator’s mounting tube down, removed the blades and hub, cracked the housing open and pulled the main circuit board. I saw some significant scoring on the slip rings and suspected the brushes were the cause. I resurfaced them and we were back in business. We had to change the wind generator’s name from Macbeth (“Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”) to Mace Windu (continuing with our Star Wars naming scheme – autopilot=R2, Princess stove=Leia, VHF radio=C3PO, solar panels=hyper drive – notoriously non-functional). I replaced the spun-out prop on our outboard (his name is Sue – short for Tohatsu). Sue also got new lower gear oil (seriously considering paying someone to do that next time) and a rebuilt carburetor. Changed the oil in both diesels and in the generator. Preserved and painted anchor chain. There is still much to do, but we don’t want anyone thinking we are just playing around on the boat.
I have the last of my VA disability claim appointments tomorrow. Based on my disability rating right now, I qualify for 100% of my healthcare to be paid for by the VA, so that is tremendously helpful. Hopefully, my claim will be processed quickly and we can be cleared to depart after hurricane season. We are continuing to work through other minor family medical issues while we are here.
Brandy and I completed a US Sailing – Safety at Sea Seminar. It was $200 each but is going to cost us much more in the end. We need to purchase new life jackets for everyone that are rated for offshore use ($360 x 4 and $200 x 3), two AIS MOB (Automatic Identification System Man Overboard) beacons that sound an alarm and establish an electronic beacon that can be tracked by any vessel in the vicinity ($270 x 2, the kids have Personal Locator Beacons already). Of course, that also requires a new VHF radio with AIS, GPS and DSC ($360). Safety isn’t cheap, but human life is priceless.
Other large expenditures we are waiting on funding for are new batteries ($5000) and a new water maker (very nice to have to be able to bathe a couple of times a week – $6000). We are having an electrician look over the boat to help us troubleshoot some odd quirks and give us a consult on our battery bank replacement.
Next week we get to fulfill one of Caleb’s lifelong dreams of being right under a fireworks show. We will be assisting the City of San Diego’s annual Big Bay Boom Independence Day fireworks show by acting as a picket boat to keep other boats from getting too close to the fireworks barges. It should be pretty amazing (hopefully not a repeat of this) and a great way to celebrate the birth of our nation.

Update 29 April 2017

Since we are somewhere with something resembling connectivity, we owe you all an update.

First, thank you for all your prayers. We have been seeking the Lord’s guidance as we proceed.

We left Loreto almost a month ago. After preaching for the English-speaking church in Loreto, we began our journey from the Sea of Cortez around the tip of Baja California and North back to San Diego.

We have been trying to day-sail our way back. We stopped to visit our friends, David and Kinyon who brought us 10 gallons of gasoline for our generator and Coca-Cola for our crew. They also bought our lunch, no small gesture when feeding our locust swarm.

Next day, we stopped for a couple of days in Puerto Los Cabos at an actual marina with real showers and shore power. We topped off fuel and water and equalized our batteries. Our battery bank has been giving us fits. After much troubleshooting, we realized that two of our 6 batteries were dead. We removed them from the bank, reducing our theoretical 720 amp-hours to 480. Now we can barely make it through the night with everything turned off except the refrigerator and freezer. The alternator on the engine wasn’t charging. Turns out we had a relay acting up. It was an original part so it had a good run. With the alternator running, we could top off batteries during the day. Oh, by the way, our solar panels and wind generator are not charging our battery bank either. I have spent easily 40 hours troubleshooting those issues in the past three weeks to no avail. We are very thankful that we purchased a lightly used portable generator before we came back, eliminating the need to run our engine just to charge batteries.

As we are “sailing” into the winds and seas, we have to motor-sail as we tack back and forth across the wind. So running the engine is not a problem. It also allows us to run the water maker. Even with full tanks (2 40 gallons tanks) leaving Puerto Los Cabos, we have made 150 gallons of water. It sounds like a lot, but we haven’t been able to do laundry and have only showered twice since Puerto Los Cabos. One of the upgrades we are currently researching is a water maker that makes more than 3.4 gallons per hour. We have spoken with a vendor who can build us a 40 gallon per hour portable system that would allow us to not only shower more frequently, but to expand our ministry by providing clean water to small villages as well as providing additional ministry funds by selling fresh water to other sailors without water makers. More on that in another post.

We headed out, hoping to round Cabo Falso and begin our northerly journey but were chased into Cabo San Lucas by wind and seas. Cabo Falso is the first of three big hurdles on the trip that is (not-so) affectionately called the Baja Bash. Prevailing Northwesterly winds and seas make sailing uncomfortable at best and impossible / hazardous at other times. I made a trip ashore to provision (Domino’s Pizza and Fanta Strawberry) and stripped the transmission on the dinghy motor. It still propels, but over a certain RPM, the motor disengages and races with no prop.

Next day, Saturday, we attempt Cabo Falso again with weather models predicting a smooth ride. Hah! 20-30 knot winds and 5-7 foot seas at 5-10 seconds makes for green children. We had two down for the count and lost one plate to the angry sea. But we made it around and were heading North in earnest. Our first available stop was an overnight sail to Bahia Santa Maria, but we were well-rested, even after the Cabo Falso roller-coaster.

We celebrated Resurrection Sunday with a worship service in the cockpit. Among our prayers was for favorable winds and seas. While I was preaching, the wind shifted forward, which would normally have required a course change since we were sailing as close to the wind as possible. However, in this case, we actually sped up without changing anything. We’ll take our miracles where we find them. Jesus is alive and we sailed at an impossible angle.

We decided that motoring as much as we had been would require more fuel before Bahia Tortuga, which meant a trip into Bahia Magdalena and about 16 hours of additional sailing. Caleb was certainly ready to go ashore and as it turns out, our excursion ashore would be the last time we set foot on terra firma for almost two weeks. We refueled our tanks (50 gallons) and had another 60 gallons of fuel in cans.

Friday morning we sailed “around the corner” (10 miles as the crow flies, but we can’t fly) for a 30 mile sail around to Bahia Santa Maria. We arrived around 6, got the anchor set and tried to get some rest for a morning departure on Saturday. No such luck. The bay made its own swell and the terrain provided little wind protection. All the more reason to move along.

Saturday morning, underway for San Juanico. Another overnight sail, but it was the first available anchorage. We decided that the winds were favorable for us to turn a little more westerly and save a day by stopping at Los Abreojos. Another worship service with the family gathered in the cockpit. I preached on Psalm 2. We arrived Sunday evening and left early Monday morning. Next stop – Bahia Tortuga and the half-way point of our voyage North!

Once again, the weather gets a vote. Motoring into 25-30 knot winds at 2 knots meant that if we ever arrived in Bahia Tortuga, we would be exhausted. So, we bailed out at a small anchorage called Hipolito. We had a bit of shelter from the seas, but the low-lying shore did little to interrupt the whistling gale. We holed up here until about midnight Thursday morning when the weather forecast (quickly becoming a four-letter word because of their gross inaccuracies) said all would be well. In this case, the forecast wasn’t too far off. Once we rounded the point, we had 5-8 knots of wind and 1-2 feet of swell at 10-15 seconds. Not a bad night. There was no moon, but it was clear and as soon as we got our night vision, we could see the stars reflected on the sea. One reason we left in the middle of the night was to make it to port (Bahia Tortuga, this time for real) before the afternoon diurnal winds picked up. About 15 miles (3 hours) out, we saw a weather system blowing in and obscuring the port. We decided that a “full speed ahead” was called for. We fired up our second engine and trimmed the sails to race the weather. We actually hit 7.2 knots and shortened the sail by almost an hour! But we finally made it to Turtle Bay.

Yesterday, we schlepped 35 gallons of fuel from the Pemex station to the beach. About 4 km total. Of course, there was a service that would deliver fuel to your boat, but it was twice the price. So,we saved about $150 and got buff instead. Today we are in search of propane.

We may leave tomorrow or Monday, but that, as always, is subject to the whim of the weather. We do, after all, go Wherever the Wind Blows. We are contemplating a three-day sail straight to Ensenada if the weather continues to be favorable. We are not on a schedule per se, but we need to be back before AWANA end-of-the-year celebrations. The kids have been very diligent in their Scripture memory and we want them to be recognized.

In case you are not aware, we have a Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1162554667116095/) that we are able to update more frequently. You have to request to join, but we can do that as well.

A New Calling

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
d90-n
The last words of Jesus to his disciples are found in Matthew 28:19-20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” These final words before he ascended to his heavenly throne were marching orders for his followers. We have been commanded to reproduce spiritually. We are called to make disciples and that must include children entrusted to our care for such a short time.
As I write this, I am nearly a week into “retirement.” Last Friday was an eventful and exciting day where we celebrated the end of a twenty year naval career. When some of our friends found out about our plans to retire, they were a bit confused. They had prayed earnestly and faithfully for me to be able to stay in just four years ago and now we are deciding to get out.
Of course, the only thing that stays the same is that everything changes. In that time, I have reached retirement eligibility, I have been an O-4 for three years and we have been living aboard Ankyrios, our 2003 Lagoon 380. We had always said that twenty years was arbitrary; that we would stay in the Navy (to which God had called us) until God called us to something else. Well, God has called us to something else. He has given us a passion for a new work.
Beginning next month, the Kelly Family will be heading South of the border to begin our five year mission work as we sail Ankyrios around the world. We will finally be together as a family and will be doing ministry together. For too long, ministry has meant that “Daddy has to leave.” Now we will be able to model Christian service to our children and pass on a legacy of missionary service to them.
“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

Ministry Needs

Even though ANKYRIOS is in really good condition, there are still lots of things that need to be done before we head around the world. If you are interested in some tangible ways you can help us, here are some suggestions. I will be adding links and prices later.

Prayer
– Unity
– Peace about our decision to leave Navy and begin missionary work
– Provision / support
– Safety
– Selling vehicles
– Purging excess
– Maintenance
– Sending agency

Repairs / Upgrades
Before October 2016
Sails $3000
– Battery bank $1500-$3000
Trampoline $200 (Completed 05/16 – $1800)
– Watermaker repair – in progress ($850 paid for hoses and new membranes)
Tank sensors – $250
Port head – $500 (Completed – $350)
Taxes (Praise the Lord, no taxes due. We were looking at a $19k bill)
Wind generator repair (Completed 07/16, Brandy’s dad, an electrical engineer, helped troubleshoot)
– Name / Logo – in progress (Name – $164 paid; Greg Key working on logo)
– Lifeboat maintenance / replacement – $2000 (Recertification not possible, must be replaced – $3500)
– Hard top $6000 (In progress, $6000 paid)

After October 2016 (we are considering going to a yard in Ensenada, Mexico for some of the work)
– Running rigging – $700 (In progress – $1200 paid!!!)
Standing rigging inspection – $300 (Completed 09/16 – Full replacement – $10000 by the time we reach Australia)
– Tune mast
– Rewire (what a mess!!!)
– Cabinets (galley)
– Bottom paint $2000
Wax $1000 (Completed 09/16, paid $1100)
– Remodel STBD Aft stateroom (3 bunks)

Required Purchases
EPIRB $600 (Purchased 07/16, + 2 Personal Locator Beacons – $1080)
Mast climber $275 (Purchased 03/16, $249)
Stanchion racks $400 (Purchased one set, $190. Need another.)
Foul weather gear (Purchased 03/16, $542)

“Nice-to-have” Purchases
– Kayaks
– SUP’s
– Surfboards
Brownie electric hookah system VS335X – 3 Diver “X” Package $4,700
Sewing machine $950 (Purchased 03/16, paid $1250)
– GoPro

Training / certifications
– ASA
– Red Cross – WSI
– Lifeguard cert – Hope, Caleb
– Skipper’s license
– Guitar lessons
– Surfing lessons for kids
– Women’s ministry

Recurring
– Boat payment – $1300/mo
– Marina fees
– Transportation fees (annual / emergency flights)
– Fuel
– Satphone subscription – $150/mo
– DMin – $375/mo
Lodging @Knox Seminary
– Homeschool curriculum
– Homeschool testing
– Savings – Retirement, college, land
– Storage – $400/mo

Checking out a “Younger Girl”

Younger Girl

“So they searched throughout the land of Israel for a beautiful girl, and they found Abishag from Shunem and brought her to the king.” 1 Kings 1:3 (NLT)

Brandy, who is normally quite methodical about making decisions (sometimes looks like indecision to me, but what do I know? Uhh?), decided in that moment that we were buying a sailboat. When she called me at 4:30 am (my time zone) and told me, I immediately thought it was a wrong number. A sailboat was my fantasy, but more on that in another post, not hers. We can’t afford a boat. We can’t live on a boat. Do you know how big a boat we would have to have for our family? You don’t know anything about boats. I can be very encouraging at times. This was not one of those times.

In any case, it gave Brandy a project. She is a researcher (like I said, it looks like indecision, but she is THOROUGH). This was kind of a fun activity together – YachtWorld.com can occupy you for hours as long as you disregard the prices. I found a decent boat for $14 million. Another for $20 million. Very nice. I mean as long as we’re dreaming. . .

But she was serious. Next thing I know, she’s taking our “crew” to visit boats. There were some beautiful boats. I was thinking our budget was somewhere in the $60-80k range. It would require a little work, but no way we could afford any more than that. We didn’t even have that much in the bank, but we could probably finance the rest. It became clear that we couldn’t fit on anything less than a 50 foot boat. That’s a lot of boat to sail, to berth, to maintain, etc. Well, it was fun while it lasted.

One of our friends, who had a go at the sailing life a few years back suggested that Brandy look at catamarans – two hulls, very stable, tons more room. Now she’s got a new mission. She found one for sale on the entire West Coast – a Charter Cats Wildcat 350 in Long Beach. Well, she packed up the kids and drove the hour or two to check it out. She was somewhat disappointed – it was cramped, dark, material condition was so-so. Reality check.

Well, when God is working, little things like “it doesn’t exist” are no big deal. (For an example, see Genesis 1:1.) Brandy went back to researching. She discovered the ill-fated “<a href=”http://www.bumfuzzle.com/”>Bumfuzzle</a>,” also a Charter Cats Wildcat 350. A little more research on Charter Cats revealed that they had gone bankrupt. Dodged a bullet there. But in her research she found the “perfect” boat – a Lagoon 380, charter version. Okay, get specific why don’t you? Most 380’s were owner’s versions – three cabins. The charter version, rarer, had four cabins, two heads, galley up, blue water capable and from a strong company. Well, being the spiritual man that I am, I told her that we would pray for a Lagoon 380, charter version.

She found a few for sale on the East coast and the BVI. That would be quite a trip for her to take to check out a boat. Additionally, it would cost somewhere in the range of $10-$30,000 to pay someone to deliver it to the West coast. Without exaggeration, within a couple of days of beginning to pray, a Lagoon 380, charter version showed up for sale, not only on the West coast, but in San Diego! Brandy called and took the crew to visit the “<a href=”http://youngergirl.org”>Younger Girl</a>” that week. (The photo accompanying this post used to be on both sides of the boat, almost 3 feet tall.)

She was perfect. Open, bright, spacious. No ducking or stooping. It was “cruise-ready” with lots of upgrades like solar, wind, water maker, SSB radio, SailMail, even Sirus satellite radio. When I came home for R&R a couple of weeks later, Brandy picked me up at the airport and took me straight to see the boat. I was so jet-lagged that she could have shown me the “Wanderer” and I wouldn’t have known any better. (That’s a Captain Ron reference if you missed it.)

A week later, the owner was in town and we took her out for a test and professional survey. We were smitten. The owner and his new bride were a really cool couple. He had stage 4 lymphoma and was putting his affairs in order. I think they liked us too. We told them all about our plans for ministry. As much as we were checking out the boat, they were interviewing us, would we be worthy of her?
We hit our first snag – financing. Apparently banks don’t care about how many upgrades boats have. All they care about is how much they can get at auction if the loan gets defaulted on. Using a value derived from the NADA guide (National AUTOMOTIVE Dealers Association) they valued the boat at less than half of the asking price and would only finance about 50% of that. We would have had to come up with about $200k down. That was obviously not going to happen. We approached the owners and told them our dilemma. They agreed to seller finance. A little bit of back and forth brought us to a price and the deal was done! We had secured our “Younger Girl.” Now to do something about that name. Oh yeah, and I had to get on a plane back to Bahrain.

Why Not NOW?

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
– Philippians 2:4-7

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. So the old adage goes and so our journey began on a rock overlooking the Pacific Ocean in San Onofre, CA. (Technically, a better translation might be “Even the longest journey must begin where you stand,” but we need not be pedantic. Except for using the word, “pedantic.” It’s a fun word and it makes you sound, well, like a pedant, which is not as naughty as it might sound.)

About halfway through my one-year unaccompanied tour in Bahrain, Brandy was struggling. Frankly, we all were, but that is to be expected. Having taken the kids to a free day-camp for children of deployed service members, Brandy was “looking forward” to three hours of uninterrupted house-cleaning. (Trying to clean a house with kids in it is like brushing your teeth while still eating Oreos.) What she didn’t plan on was that the camp, even though it was on Camp Pendleton, where we lived, was an hour and a half drive. Since she would spend all her time driving back and forth, housework was out (and Brandy was devastated).

With three hours to kill and no plan to account for it (a rarity for Brandy’s formerly very structured outlook on life), she decided to have some “me-time.” High on a cliff at San Onofre Beach with a commanding view of the ocean, Brandy’s mind shifted into overdrive – when I returned in December, we were going to need a place to live. We were on the waitlist for housing, but the wait was 3-4 years (we’re still on the list, mostly out of curiosity). We couldn’t afford to live in Coronado otherwise, but if I was going to be working there, when would there ever be a better time to live on that cute little island? Anywhere we lived would end up being a 45-60 minute commute on a good day. And that close would require more than our housing allowance. How  much was a “short” commute worth to us? And so it went. (This is a fraction of a second in Brandy’s brain. Seriously, it’s impressive and a little scary. I would have been able to accomplish an “Uhh?” and shoulder shrug in the same amount of time.)

As the reality of our housing situation and our current geographical separation and a hundred other things bore down on her, Brandy began to cry out to God, literally. One of those times that I wished I could be there. With tears in her eyes, she looked at the sailboats on the horizon and thought about the carefree lives those sailors had (how little we knew). Someday that would be us.

Why not NOW?