It’s Getting Real…

It’s starting to get real.

I’m flying to Baltimore Tuesday, April 5, 2022 to get Selkie.

I finished my ski instruction job last Monday to give myself some time off before I head to Selkie.

Part of that time has been spent attending the Winterwondergrass Festival at Palisades Tahoe (the resort formerly known as Squaw Valley).  Winterwondergrass is a Bluegrass and Beer festival that has been held each year, but has been cancelled the past 2 years due to COVID.  It’s back on this year, and I highly recommend it for next year for anyone wanting an all-day music festival for 3 days. 

I can’t tell you how gratifying it is to finally listen to a live band in person.  And all these bands really are tight with their musical jams.  Nothing gets my blood pumping better than a great fiddler, and they are everywhere at Winterwondergrass. It’s been cathartic to attend, and certainly has gotten Libbie, me (and a few thousand of our closest friends) in the mood to move on to the next season.

But now it’s time to move Selkie from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor where she has spent the winter to the yard in Solomons, Maryland and get her Survey punchlist addressed.  I’ve mentioned the work that needs to be done in a prior post, but there is enough that requires her to be hauled out of the water.

The thing is, Murphy’s Law is transitioning from my brain’s Temporal Lobe to front and center in my Frontal Lobe.   You remember Murphy’s Law, right?  It’s the one that says, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”  It’s the doctrine I use for operating and maintaining a boat.  It’s also the thing that keeps me up at night, thinking about what could go wrong, and then adding to my commissioning punchlist for Selkie at 2 in the morning.

So far, I think I’ve got things well covered. 

I’ve got all my tools packed from While I Can, our sailboat of 20 years in San Francisco.  This probably includes the tools that will get me in trouble if I try to repair something on my own, something that happened more than once on While I Can.

I’ve checked in with the folks in Baltimore who have been supporting me on Selkie.  They came recommended, and they’ve been great to work with. 

The shrink wrap is scheduled for removal Saturday.  The shrink wrap was scheduled to be removed earlier this week, but it’s been blowing like snot there and after having owned a sailboat I understand what it means to wrestle big pieces of material in 30 knot winds.  However, a call this morning to Ships Ahoy confirmed the shrink wrap is coming off today.

The mechanic, Phil, from Phil’s Boat Repair will be on Selkie to recommission her Monday.  He must do it Monday because the harbor’s water has not been turned on, and he has to wait for a “Winter Watering Day” where the harbor runs the water down each dock via a hose to happen.  That’s Monday.  Murphy, stay away!

So… I hope (and am somewhat but not totally confident) I will arrive to a fully commissioned, unwrapped boat Tuesday evening.  If I do, I’ll sleep much better Tuesday night with the HVAC system functioning.  If not, there’s extra blankets on Selkie, and I’ll have extra work to do when beginning Wednesday morning.

I’ll have from Wednesday to Saturday to further prepare Selkie for her “Maiden-to-Me” voyage.  I’ve a lot to do with her to get things ready:

  • Running and learning the maintenance of her main engine
  • Running, learning the maintenance, testing and possibly repairing her generator (there is a possible issue with it)
  • Making sure her hydraulic controls and her steering work properly
  • Understanding how her electronics integrate with each other, including the autopilot functions
  • Understanding her electrical systems, and what works well on battery power vs dock power
  • Getting her propane tanks filled for operating the galley
  • Ensuring her water systems are functional, including the drinking water filtration system (we don’t want to be buying bottled water for our extended time on Selkie)
  • Updating her safety systems
  • Stocking the fridge for a few days’ worth of food
  • Getting her liquor locker stocked (a very important function for participating in après sailing activities)
  • Laundering all the items that spent the winter on Selkie
  • And there are other items I’m sure that will be apparent once I’m there.

Next Sunday will be the big day

My brother-in-law and nephew are coming in Saturday to help me move Selkie to Solomons.  They are quite the pair, and fun to spend a lot of time with… when I am with them.  Unfortunately, our schedules have not had a lot of time to be together, so I’m looking forward to spending time with them for a few days doing something we all love to do.

However, there’s a special reason I’ve asked them to join me.  Remember my friend, Murphy?

You see, both are very experienced watermen.  Both spent a total of 30 years serving our country in the Coast Guard. 

My brother-in-law was number 1 in his class piloting the 44 footers in the Coast Guard’s Columbia River Mouth Surf School and was stationed on the Pacific Coast of the state of Washington doing search and rescue in some of the nastiest waters the planet earth has.  He has some stories…

My nephew has just retired after 2 decades as a Chief Petty Officer as an Engineer.  His last assignment was commissioning one of the newest Coast Guard cutter’s engine rooms, and is now working as a Marine Diesel Mechanic on the Carolina coast.  He’s also has some stories…

I’m very proud of both.

So, between the three of us, I think I’ve covered most everything my friend Murphy can toss at us. 


Note that I said “most everything” as I don’t like taunting Murphy.  I would never say, for example, “Ok Murphy, do your worst!”  Whenever I’ve done that, his law gets me in some way I never imagined.  At least I haven’t lost any body parts…  just parts of body parts.

So, let’s just say, the punch list I’ve written down at 2am most recent mornings, and the people I have coming with me will help me resolve anything we do run into. 

Wish us luck this coming week and next week.

By Tad Sheldon

I'm a retired Silicon Valley Technologist and Director. I teach skiing as a 4th (5th? 6th?) career for fun, and am passionate about Boating. I'm even more passionate about my family and friends. I volunteer occasionally for non-profit Boards, and currently serve as the Secretary of the Board for Western Division of the Professional Ski Instructors of America / American Association of Snowboard Instructors.

6 replies on “It’s Getting Real…”

Does Murphy include what Mother Nature can throw at you, or is that under its own category? Good luck Tad, and try not to ruin the fun with too much worry about what might happen, it usually does somewhere along the line.


Murphy includes EVERYTHING! Luckily (if that’s a thing), we’ve become very experienced at what to do with weather issues. We’ve stories…


Best of luck. As a fellow boater I fully understand. Not sure I will ever be ready to venture far enough away from land to be surrounded by water.


glad to hear it is all coming together… certainly have an awesome crew to start with, lots of years of experience….know you guys will do well. Looking forward to meeting Silkie in person this summer! And hearing about your adventures getting into the Gt Lakes!


We will be living vicariously through your blog Tad. But only the good parts!
Enjoy the prep work and move with your mates. See you soon.


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