Frequently Asked Questions


Frequently Asked Questions (revised 9-30-09)

We will use this format to address the most frequently asked questions that we receive from our blog readers and also to share our thoughts on subjects related to our voyage.
1. What kind of boat do you have?

Captain Don: The boat is a Westsail 32. Her name is Mary Rose V. She is a US Coast Guard documented vessel. You may visit the Westsail owner’s association web site to learn more about the Westsail 32. www.westsail.org Check out this reprint of a Nautical Quarterly Magazine, 1978 for some great history on the Westsail. http://www.westsail.org/member/_library/nautical_quarterly_westsail_32_article.pdf

2. Why did you decide to purchase a Westsail 32?

Captain Don: When I got serious and started to search for a boat to facilitate my pursuit there was a list of parameters that the boat must meet, should meet and would love to have. The must meet list centered around a full keel, 10.5 beam or greater, 32-35 feet long, sea kindly, good reputation for world cruising, heavy displacement, met my budget, active owners association and availability. Research narrowed the field to just a handful of boats that met this criteria. The Westsail 32 met them all hands down and the two items that tipped the scale in favor of the Westsail were the active owners association and Bud Taplin’s World cruiser Yacht Corporation. Bud Taplin, the founder and proprietor of World cruiser Yacht Company, was the first general manager of Westsail Corporation, and developed the manufacturing methods and put into production the original Westsail 32 in 1972. Replacement parts are available for all sizes of Westsail boats, as well as technical assistance and advice.

Admiral Nelson: I had read a book, 266 Days Adrift at Sea. This book covers a true story of a couple that were long distance cruising. They were followed by a pod of pilot whales for a few weeks. The whales became more aggressive and began ramming the boat. The end result was a hole in the side of the boat and the couple living in a life raft for 266 days. After reading this book I realized that I did not want to long distance cruise in a boat that could have a hole easily smashed in the side of it by angry whales. Another requirement was it had to have a comfort level that allowed it to feel homey as well as roomy. After spending a great amount of time searching for the “right” boat we came across the Westsail. We are very pleased with our decision.

3. Where did you find your boat?

Captain Don: Mary Rose was one of five boats that met the final selection criteria for configuration, location and condition. She was previously owned by Captain Larry Sherwood, USMC, Ret. She was home ported in Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island in Florida. Larry, his wife and son lived aboard Mary Rose for several years as well as cruising the East Coast, Bahamas and Caribbean.

Admiral Nelson: We decided to limit our search to the Florida area since we decided to make Florida our home base. We then searched for Westsails for sale throughout Florida. Flew in for the week-end, rented a car and covered many, many miles of area looking at the 5 boats we decided to focus on. Mary was the first boat we looked at on Amelia Island. There was something about Mary that the rest of the boats could not compare to.

4. What is your voyaging itinerary?

Captain Don: The current plan is to sail throughout the Caribbean, maybe Bahamas, Central America, cross the Panama Canal, Cross the South Pacific, island hop in Polynesia, sail to Hawaii and then back to the USA.

Admiral Nelson: Where the sea takes us!

5. How long will this take?

Captain Don: There is no exact time table for this adventure. I expect it to last in the range of 2 – 5 years. These are macro plans and details will develop as the voyage begins. Weather patters and storm seasons will have a huge impact on voyaging plans.

Admiral Nelson: This is not our time schedule so who knows what is planned for us.

6. Why are you doing this?

Captain Don: Well, as some of you know I am a bit of an adventure seeker. I became a Private pilot at the age of twenty-two and later a Master SCUBA Instructor. I have always had a love for water, adventure travel and experiencing new cultures. This is a way to enjoy my water, travel and cultural interests.

Admiral Nelson: Since I was young I have had a dream of living on the ocean. I felt misplaced being born in the middle of the U.S. I have always had a pull to the ocean as well as mission work later in life. Unfortunately my upbringing as well as many ill thought out decisions on my behalf resulted in a different path. I have no regrets because here I am; I just took the long way! I am also an adventure seeker and cherish a good challenge. I love to travel but I don’t appreciate tourist traps so this will give me the chance to visit areas that are not tourist oriented. I will have the opportunity to see cultures as they live day to day. I look forward to studying a culture where the small things in life mean the world.

7. What about leaving your family and friends?

Captain Don: This has been one of the most difficult issues to deal with. I have four wonderful children and eight grand children. My extended family consists of very dear Aunts and Uncles and a plethora of cousins. There are several very close friends in my life. I discussed my plans with my children and we will miss one another but they are solidly supporting my plans. I plan to stay in touch with extended family and friends with mail, email and through the blog. My dearest friends have been exceptionally supportive and have extended themselves to assist me in this endeavor. I expect there to be life events that will cause me to put plans on temporary hold and attend to other responsibilities. I hope that family and friends will take the opportunity to join the adventure in a foreign port and enjoy some great sailing in an exotic location. Perhaps this journey will inspire my grand children to do great and wonderful things with their own lives.

Admiral Nelson: It is one of the hardest choices I have ever made. I miss my friends and family, sometimes desperately. But on the other hand some of my friends and family are living through me and my journeys and dreams by following the blog. I was surprised to see the number of e-mails we have received when we have been too busy and have forgotten to update the blog. I hope that my children and grand children will look up to me and respect my decision to follow my dreams as well as my calling at last. I plan to bring my children and grand children to certain areas that we travel to share with them the cultures and beauty that we will be experiencing. Hopefully I will be an inspiration to someone and encourage others to follow their calling and their dreams.

8. What do you intend to do with all the time you will have on your hands?

Captain Don: It is a sailboat in a salt water environment. There is always work to do on a sailboat in a salt water environment. Aside from the maintenance which will consume a good portion of time on a regular basis there is a bigger plan in place than just sailing to exotic ports. Yes there is a purpose! There will also be time for SCUBA, swimming and snorkeling. I also will be working on my guitar skills.

Admiral Nelson: I am planning on fishing, catching up on some reading, I have always wanted to learn to play the flute and I used to be able to sketch very well so I will probably spend some time working on my sketching abilities. Of course Capt Don will have chores for me to do since we want to keep Mary in great condition physically as well as cosmetically.

9. What is the “bigger plan?”

Captain Don: Mary Rose is a roomy vessel with lots of hidden storage and a huge v-berth that will not be occupied on long voyages. So we plan to fill her up with items that will be very useful to extremely needy people in the places we will visit. The bigger plan is to deliver children’s shoes (this mission is named - Soles For Little Souls), school supplies and medical supplies to the most needy in third world island nations. I have personally delivered 1000’s of shoes and several hundred pounds of medical supplies to Honduras in the past while on SCUBA diving trips. The items were personally handed to the children in small remote villages in order to bypass the generally corrupt distribution systems in place. The medical supplies were delivered to the remote charitable clinics that provide free or very low cost services to the local residents. The school supplies will be delivered to remote schools that are in the most need. We expect to be able to deliver most of the items without additional taxes because they are gifts. I am sure there will be some instances where we will be required to pay some sort of tax in one form or another. We expect that most of the medical supplies will be donated through personal and professional connections. We should have room for 800-1000 pairs of shoes. We will allow about 300 pounds for school supplies. We will be able to allow about 300 pounds for medical supplies. These items will consist of Physician Desk References, sterile gloves, sterile dressings, antibiotics, surgical supplies. We plan to get the medical supplies items donated.

Admiral Nelson: I want to be able to visit other cultures and learn from them. I also want to help them in whatever ways I can. I want to be a part of a culture that expects nothing but are very appreciative of the small things that I can offer to them. A pair of shoes, a Frisbee, gloves for a clinic, various medical supplies. In the US you walk into a medical clinic and you expect to see basic items, whereas these clinics are thankful to have basics such as a Band-aid that we in America take for granted. I have often wondered why I am a nurse. I didn’t grow up wanting to be a nurse, but I think I understand now. I am going to volunteer in some of these smaller communities/villages in the medical clinics. One thing I am beginning to learn is that no matter how hard you fight against your calling or try to set your own time schedule in the end your calling will prevail at the right place and time.

10. Why are you doing the bigger plan?

Captain Don: As I stated, I have delivered shoes and medical supplies to Honduras in the past. Imagine stopping along a dirt road and handing a small barefoot child a pair of shoes and her mother and grandmother drop to their knees and begin to cry and thank God for the gift. I have had that experience and there is nothing like it. The world I currently live in consists largely of expectations of basic needs. We hand out food, clothes, shelter, medical care and assistance to millions in this country and it has come to be expected rather than appreciated. Most children in these third world, small island nations do not get a pair of shoes until they are well into their teens. There is simply not enough money to buy them. Then imagine driving down a narrow dirt street lined with small homes on either side. Now I say homes and they are homes but not as you and I enjoy. These are small wooden unpainted building about the size of a large garden shed. Generally they are built on stilts to keep them dry in the rainy season. The single room serves as living room, kitchen and bedroom. Swinging hammocks are hug across the room at night to covert the living space into a bedroom. There may be one light in the center of the room if they are privileged to have electricity. A public source of running water is usually within a few hundred feet as well as some sort of primitive privy. There are the communities and villages that are in the most need of what we will bring with us on this trip. Generally there is a clinic embedded within these villages that provides basic medical care for those in need. They are generally staffed by volunteers and have very few supplies. We will deliver our donations to them so that they can care for the sick in the village. I have seen nurses and doctors weep when they open the boxes that have been delivered to them. It is a humbling experience to witness the gratitude from these individuals for a small gift of items that we take for granted.

Admiral Nelson: For many years I have had a calling to do mission work. I signed up for a trip to Belize once to help build a school but unfortunately was unable to go because of the lack of availability of funds to cover my expenses while there as well keep up my expenses at home. I was extremely disappointed and felt that I should just give up because it was never going to happen. For those who know me well, know that just the thought of giving up fires me up and I fight, I am not a quitter. I decided that there were things I could do right at home that would not cost much out of pocket expense. So my son Jerry and I began passing out Thanksgiving dinners, coats and blankets. We found so much satisfaction each Thanksgiving that we then started making soups during the winter season. We would drive around passing out soup and hot chocolate to the homeless in Kansas City. I volunteered at the shelter during my days off painting, sorting clothes and helping however I could. But all the while I still felt that calling, since my loss of Jerry I have come to understand that we all have a purpose in life. We sometimes do not understand what or why but there is a purpose for our lives. We are predestined to accomplish certain tasks, learn specific lessons but it is not on our time schedule. I am not a patient person so this is has been a bit difficult for me to grasp. I know now that there are bigger things planned for my future. The lesson of patience has been a hard one for me to learn but I am learning it.
I want to do this all in the memory of my son Jerry. I need Jerry to be remembered not for his struggles but for the tender heart that he had. The joy of giving is something that Jerry and I shared together. I now understand my calling.

11. Do you have a charitable foundation for this endeavor?

Captain Don: As of this writing there is no official charitable foundation. There is a large amount of bureaucratic regulations, restrictions and maintenance to creating and maintaining a charitable foundation. However there is the unofficial Jerr Bear Foundation that is accepting donations to assist with the procurement and delivery of the gifts. Admiral Nelson will give the details of the Jerr Bear foundation/memorial fund.

Admiral Nelson: We are in the process of trying to figure out which direction to take in this matter. To start a foundation requires quite a bit of time and money, a trust appears to be much simpler but I am also looking into other options. Whichever direction I take it will be called the Jerr Bear Foundation officially or unofficially, with the actual mission called Soles For Little Souls. Jerry was one of the most generous people I know. He needs to be remembered for that aspect of his life not his struggles. Each time I see a child smile because I gave them a pair shoes in Jerry’s name will bring me closer to Jerry. Every little bit will help. I can’t help but remember the story in the Bible of the fish, thousands of people fed with one basket of fish. I have faith that blessings will come. This journey will touch many people with one basket of fish. The blessings will multiply and Jerry will live on in the hearts of many.

12. Can I send you shoes to give away?

Captain Don: All shoes will be new and purchased at deep discounts through commercial liquidators at very low prices. We expect to average $2-3 per pair. So you can see that you would spend more shipping a pair of shoes for donation than our purchase price. And just imagine the odor from a few hundred pairs of used shoes?

Admiral Nelson: I would like to say that no we would prefer to not accept used shoes due to the smell that would come from being on a damp boat but I would like to add that if anyone finds a great sale on kids summer sandals please feel free to donate those. But we would prefer cash so we do not have to pay for storage until we leave.

13. Do you accept donations to help with your charitable cause?

Captain Don: Yes, donations are accepted and greatly appreciated. The initial budget for the items to be gifted is $20,000. We will have to purchase most if not all of the shoes and school supplies. We expect to get most if not all of the medical items donated through personal and professional relationships. Please contact us if you have an interest in helping with this project and we will send you a letter with more details.

Admiral Nelson: Blessings will multiply, every little bit will help.

14. How will I know that the money I donate will go for the intended purpose?

Captain Don: The blog will be updated with photos and letters from clinics and schools. Or if you plan to join in on a portion of the voyage, you can see for yourself.

Admiral Nelson: Via the blog, personal letters, pictures and the smile on many little faces.

15. Is the money I donate tax deductible?

Captain Don: Sorry, I do not give out tax advice. Consult your personal tax advisor for this question.

Admiral Nelson: I would guess it will depend upon how we set up the foundation, trust etc…. But as Capt Don stated please consult a tax advisor.

16. Will my donation be used to fund your sailing trip and expenses?

Captain Don: Absolutely Not!

Admiral Nelson: Definitely not! Most of this journey is mainly focused on the kids and all monies/donations will be designated that way. All monies/donations received will go directly for that in the memory of my son and nothing else! Our personal expenses for this journey will be financed directly by Capt Don and myself.

17. What will be funded with your donations?

Captain Don & Admiral Nelson:
Children’s shoes
School supplies.
Pencils, pencil sharpeners, plastic rulers, plastic protractors, plastic zip pouches.
Medical supplies that we are unable to get donated
Ground transportation to deliver the gifts to clinics and schools.
Local food purchases for children if needed.
Any taxes that may be due on items when delivered.
Storage and transportation of items to be delivered.
Clinic and school facility repairs.

18. What will not be funded with your donations?

Captain Don: Personal travel expenses not directly and solely related to a donation delivery. In the event that the donations exceed the budget then we will either make additional trips of have additional items purchased and shipped to us for distribution. All donations will go for the stated cause. Period!

19. How can I make a donation?

Update........Please contact us for donations details. We will send you a letter with all of the details. You may leave us a message on the blog or email to dlmont2@aol.com.

20. Has anyone already donated money for the charitable portion of your voyage?

Captain Don: Yes, there have been a few generous donations and they are in a bank savings account. We appreciate the individuals that have been so generous and their help is greatly appreciated.

21. When do you plan to set sail on your voyage?

Captain Don: Our revised departure target is January 15, 2010.

Admiral Nelson: We will know when the time is right. This voyage is not on our time schedule. The blessings are coming each and every day.

22. What will you be doing until you leave?

Captain Don: I will be dividing my time between working to put some freedom chips (read $$$$) away to fund the trip and preparing the boat for the voyage. I am also working on improving my sailing skills.

Admiral Nelson: Working…working…working…sailing!

23. What work needs to be done to the boat before you leave?

Captain Don: This falls into two categories, regular maintenance and voyaging preparation. Prior to the voyage we will replace the refrigeration system, install solar panels and a wind generator for energy, install a new energy management panel, and install new fuel tanks. This is the short list and is updated almost weekly.

Please send your questions to us and we will add them to the FAQ list.


More than a Face Lift

Many of you may have read in a previous blog that there are three rules aboard Mary Rose.

1. Keep the water out.

2. Keep the people in.

3. Don't hit any hard stuff around the edges of the water.

Well the "Face Lift" deals mainly with rule #1, Keeping the water out! The caprail is the very top teak board the spans the deck and hull at the top of the bullwork. If water gets under the caprail in runs down the hull and into the boat. This is a cause for rot, mildew, and if enough water gets into the boat it could be a dangerous situation in heavy seas. The existing caulk was cracked, torn and missing in some of the places. This is a routine maintenance issue and this application should last for at least 7-10 years. When the caulk is removed the exterior paint is damaged so that accounts for the new paint on the sheers. The process goes something like this.

1. Cut and pull out all of the old caulk.

2. Sand the space where the caulk will go and also the edges of the caprail and sheer where the caulk will overlap and seal.

3. Tape the caprail and sheer to define a caulk line area.

4. Clean the gap and overlap area very well with acetone.

5. Apply caulk and force it well into the gaps. I used Teak Decking Systems, SIS 440 White.

6. Smooth the caulk with finger and force it into the gap.

7. Remove caulk from finger with mineral spirits.

8. Let caulk cure for about 45 minutes and remove tape. (repeat step 7)

After 24 hours the area can be taped at the caulk line for painting. The admiral asked me why I did not caulk after painting and applying the wood finish? The SIS440 caulk will stick to almost anything but it will adhere much better to clean well sanded surfaces such as bare wood and gel coat. So in order to get the best adhesion, I decided to take the extra steps and apply the wood finish and paint after the caulking process. So you can see this is a labor intensive project with a real benefit as we prepare for our long distance voyage. I estimate that both sides will take about 2-3 weeks. It seems a bit long but you have to wait 24 hours between coats of wood finish and 16 hours between coats of paint. This adds up to a week, if you do the math for three coats of wood finish and three coats of paint. The photos show the old caulk, the prepped area and the caulking. We will post final pics after the starboard side is complete.


Mary's New Look

Hello to all!! We just wanted to post a quick note with an update. Above are a couple of pre/post pictures of Mary's new look. We have completed the port side and today we started sanding the starboard side, tomorrow we are planning on turning her so we can start removing the old caulking and finish sanding... love those hangnails!! She is transforming beautifully and becoming our boat! After long hard consideration we decided that we would prefer a different color blue so we went with emerald blue. Now Mary is feeling bigger, bolder and brighter. Please share your thoughts. Captain Don will post complete details when the project is completed! Stay tuned for more updates.


Face Lift Update!

Here are a couple of before and after photos of the caprail on Mary Rose. After we removed and replaced all of the caulk on the outer seams we sanded the caprail down to bare wood. The wood is the original teak used when the boat was built in 1975. The product we removed was Cetol and we used Armada for the new finish. Armada lets the natural wood grain show through and should be a bit less maintenance. We also restored the rubrail on the hull just below the whale stripe which will show up in a future post when the port side is complete. We also added a strip of thin teak to the rubrail as a sacrificial piece and to help preserve the original teak. The Admiral was a bit distressed over the many hangnails she received while sanding. Once I looked over and she was taking a break sitting on the dock using the 80 grit on her feet for a quick pedicure treatment. hmmmmmmmmmmm.........very creative! One side of the wood restoration is almost complete and a new color is being applied on the whale stripe. We will be able to show photos at completion later this week. Each coat of Armada must dry for 24 hours between coats and the paint must dry 16 hours between coats. We will turn Mary Rose around and dock her bow in as soon as port side is complete. It should take another 2-3 weeks to complete the starboard side. We will then begin to restore the wood on the cabin top and that should take another 2-3 weeks depending on work schedules. All in all, we are quite happy with the results of our hard labor and the work will keep the fine exotic wood in perfect condition for another 30 years with regular annual touch up. Posted by captain don..............

Brandon's Adventure To Florida!

Well Brandon made it to Florida without a hitch. We only had the week-end due to Brandon's work schedule so we made the best out of the time we had. He was lucky enough to go sailing in 25+ knots winds.. we were flying! He had a blast sitting on the bow as Mary flew through the water. I would look out at him and I could see my little Brandon smiling and laughing just like when he was a little boy...carefree again. It is amazing how quickly our children grow up .. one day they are little people looking up to you, then they become teenagers who know it all, then they become adults trying to survive in such a harsh world, they realize then that maybe their parents did know a little and slowly begin looking up to you once again. How important it is to hold close all precious memories because before you realize it, it may be all you have left one day. We enjoyed our time with Brandon, even though he did realize that living on a boat is not his cup of tea but he was a good sport about it! The trip ended with a bit of a glitch .. he was flying on a buddy pass (thanks Kenny and Peggy!) and he was bumped off the last flight of the day which required an unexpected over-nite stay in Alanta... sorry Brandon. All is well!!