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Big changes.  I'm sitting in a little cafe a six-minute walk from the harbor I'm living in.  My laundry is tumbling next door in the local laundromat.  My location is Juneau, Alaska.  How did I end up here?

So, I've been thinking about a change in jobs for a while and applied for a medevac job close to home but was informed I was 250 hours short on their required time.  There was no good way for me to get that time in short order so I started looking elsewhere.  I got a wild hair and decided to apply for a job or two up in Alaska.  I was hoping I could find a job I could commute for ie. two weeks on, two weeks off.  That would allow me to go back to Utah on my days off, catch up with friends and keep my marriage healthy.  Well, the job I got called for was not a commuting job.  I wasn't so sure about it but after some talking with pilot friends and Kelli, I decided to head up for an interview.  The interview went well, I flew the airplane, talked to the chief pilot, rode on some flights, and got offered a job. While I was in Juneau, I went down to Petersburg, AK to look at for housing.  By housing, I mean a sailboat.  I wasn't sure what I would do if I got the job but didn't get a boat so I was really hoping both of these things would work out together.

As many of you may know, Kelli and I have been on a quest to get good at sailing with the intention of doing some serious traveling by boat at some point.  Well, the boat I went to look at was in worse condition than I thought.  I told the owner it was more work than I was interested in and shorty after, he texted me that he had a friend with a "newer" boat for sale if that is what I was interested in.  Newer wasn't really a concern of mine, I was just looking for better.  I decided to give boat owner number two a call the following day and before I knew it, he was driving me to go look at his boat.  I only had 80 minutes before my flight left Petersburg back to Juneau so I told him to make haste.  We zipped down to the boatyard to see his boat, it was "on the hard" (in a boat yard out of the water) and covered in plastic.  It had been parked under some pine trees and the trees were dropping their tree stuff on the boat so he got it wrapped.  I climbed the ladder, made it through the plastic doorway, and was greeted with a very wet, slightly living deck.  I understood this was Southeast Alaska so I kept on, trying to ignore the layer of green life on everything and the patches of what looked like lichen growing on the wood.  Also, the anti-slip paint on the deck had started to flake leaving a yellow glue color underneath.  It wasn't pretty.  I looked at the rigging, poked around the lines and sails for a moment, then stepped down the companionway into the cabin. 

This was a pilothouse sailboat.  That means it has a little cockpit that's completely enclosed where you stay out of the weather and still sail.  There's also a wheel on deck so you can sail from the outside too.  There was an extensive set of navionics all protected with sun covers.  I was informed it had a chart plotter and autopilot.  Autopilot... that's a really handy tool when you're sailing alone.  What I wanted to see was the structure.  There was a little dripping here and there in the cabin but it seemed to be from condensation, not real leaks.  I looked down in the bilge, checked out all the chainplates (the place the cables holding the mast in position connects to the boat's hull), looked at the places anything poked through the hull and came inside the cabin, checked the seacocks where things are dumped overboard or seawater is drawn in for various tasks.  We looked at the engine and transmission.  Then it was time to go.  My impression, the boat was solid.  It wasn't terribly pretty at the moment but it seemed to be mostly superficial.  I could deal with some minor cosmetics.  I wasn't in love with the boat, but I had a realistic sense of what it was and how it would work for Kelli and I.  The two main problems were 1: I didn't want a pilothouse sailboat.  This is entirely due to a book I listened to and isn't founded upon my own experience.  2: It wasn't in the water and I needed somewhere to live quicly.

Both of my concerns were mostly unfounded.  Firstly, this probably isn't a boat I would cross an ocean in anyway so having a pilot house isn't as big of an issue.  It probably isn't robust enough to take on a crashing wave and what I listened to in the book, they are kind of top heavy, which you don't want in heavy weather anyway.  So, laying aside my naive biases, I came to understand how nice a pilothouse boat is in SE Alaska.  It is wet and cold a lot.  It is a lot nicer to steer from inside the boat than outside.  Secondly, I communicated my tight timeframe with the owner and he wasn't too sure about the timeframe but... he came through.  I made an offer on the boat, he accepted, and I said, GET IT IN THE WATER!

So, I flew back to Juneau, got two more flights before my flight back the following day.  When I got back to Utah, I had a final conversation with Kelli and I called my new employer and accepted the job.  I told Redtail I'm gone in seven working days.  That was quicker than either of us wanted but I needed to get to Petersburg, help put the boat in the water, sail it north 120 miles, finish some online courses for my aircraft mechanic license renewal, and get to work on April 1st.  So, with seven years at Redtail, my final day consisted of breakfast burritos at work for everyone and a cake from Amanda.  Thanks Amanda.  Farewell, I guess. 

Kelli and I drove up to Salt Lake City Friday afternoon March 22nd, stayed the night, and she dropped me off at the airport the following morning for my 6am flight to Seattle.

I'm stopping here.  The next chunk is more detailed and this post doesn't need to be a novel.  Stay tuned!  Pictures in following post!



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