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Saturday, November 29, 2008

One Adventure Ends, Another Begins

Last I wrote, I didn't know what the future would hold. We had decided that the cruising life was not a long-term life style for us. I mused about it, possibly we might purchase an RV and cruise the land or maybe just hang out on Aurora for a while longer or even get jobs and return to land life. Since writing that update, life has changed for Ken and me.

I just completed my first week of work! But I'm getting to the end of the story before you know what happened. So here's how it came to be that Ken and I moved back to the San Francisco Bay Area and I started working again.

After the Annapolis Boat Show, I flew out to California to visit family and friends. Ken stayed in Annapolis with the boat. It was a good place to leave him on his own with Aurora, easy to get around, lots of boating facilities and a comfortable anchorage. Plus he had a long list of boat chores to keep him busy for the ten days I was to be gone as we had decided to sell Aurora. So on October 15th I hopped on the local bus, headed to Baltimore/Washington International and caught my flight to SFO. Little did I know that I would not be using my return ticket.

Our Aurora updates go out to a variety of friends and family, including friends I worked with at The Learning Company. So it was not surprising that Craig, a previous colleague who now works at PlayFirst, suggested we get together for lunch with some of the old TLC gang when I was in the Bay Area. Turns out that several former colleagues work at PlayFirst, a casual gaming company headquartered in San Francisco. I was delighted to hear from Craig and, of course, said yes to the lunch invite with the TLC gang.

Craig asked if I was serious about returning to work in his e-mail. However, my mind was so far away from the work world at the time, I didn't give it much thought. It crossed my mind that it would be fun to work with Craig, Kenny, Solveig and Nick again, but my focus was on varnishing the slats, stripping the cockpit table and finishing up the boat work on Aurora. Also, I was looking forward to seeing my mother, brothers and daughter again. Ken and I had talked about returning to work, but it wasn't my focus when flying out to California.

So when I arrived at PlayFirst for lunch and Craig gave me a tour of the offices and introduced me to a few folks, I was surprised at how extremely familiar and very comfortable the work environment was. I felt like I was at home, that no time had passed since I'd been in the work world. It was like two-and-a-half years were a two week vacation. It was an odd, but good feeling. Over lunch both Craig and Kenny asked me if I was interested in coming back to work. It felt so natural that without hesitation I said yes.

As they say, the rest is history. Interviews were scheduled, an offer was tendered and I accepted. This all happened in just over one week. Ken and I discussed it all over the phone. We decided I would stay out in California and get moving on the relocation; he'd stay in Annapolis a bit longer and put Aurora to bed. It was Friday, October 31st. I would start work Nov. 17th.

With the reality of a time-intensive job looming, we knew that we had to move quickly to get settled in or we'd be living out of boxes forever! Ken packed up Aurora (how did we have 50 boxes of stuff on a 46-foot boat?), secured a person to manage her while she's up for sale and took care of all the loose ends in Annapolis. Before Ken arrived on Wednesday, Nov. 5th, I rented an apartment in Burlingame, began clothes shopping (I had no work clothes!) and started a car search on Craig's List.

Ken arrived at SFO Wednesday morning at 9:30 and we went out furniture shopping from the airport! I can't remember the order of things but over the course of a week we purchased two pre-owned cars (Honda Civic and Toyota Highlander), furnishings for the apartment (much of it assemble yourself from IKEA), clothes for work and many of those small necessities of life one does not have on a boat, like trash baskets for each room. And remember the large screen TVs Ken was drooling over at Costco on the East Coast? Well we now own one. Our dining room table is a utility table from Target and we eat sitting on two $9.99 folding chairs, but we do have a 50" large screen TV in the living room! Per Ken, "Priorities, Maryann, priorities."

We quickly established ourselves in an apartment with basic necessities. However once we are settled, we hope to purchase a place of our own, probably on the peninsula and probably a townhouse or condo.

So I came out to California for a visit and never returned! I'm the Developer Relations Manager at PlayFirst (, a casual game company which sells downloadable games online for play on the computer as well as on a variety of other digital platforms--mobile phones, game consoles, interactive TV.

The past two plus years have been an amazing time for Ken and I, meeting new friends, living on a boat, visiting new countries, testing our limits. I'll miss the vagabond life where schedules are non-existent and roots are not planted. But it is time to move on and life has opened new doors for us. I'm looking forward to helping PlayFirst transition from a start-up into a young and thriving company in an exciting new industry. When I left, casual gaming was in its infancy; it is now reaching its formative years.

This is my last Aurora update. Thank you all for sharing our adventure with us. And thank you for your responses. Your e-mails have been a joy to read and a lifeline when we were out there on our own.

Safe Passages!


I had Ken read my update before sending it out, and he wanted to share his thoughts with all of you as well. So here is Ken's final Aurora update:

Maryann has posted her final update on the S/V Aurora adventure, and I feel I need to get a final word in as well.

As she mentioned, life's been a whirlwind of change these past 3 weeks, though it's been fun to rebuild a land-based life so quickly. However, the excitement of the past 3 weeks shouldn't overshadow the final weeks of our cruising adventure.

After Maine we transited quickly back through New England and on to New York City where we spent a very enjoyable week, then on to Washington, D.C. where we had a great time anchored in the heart of the nation's capitol.

Maryann has written of our experiences there, but I don't know that enough of the sheer enjoyment of our cruising in August and September and the first part of October came through. We really enjoyed our time in Maine and had a ball traipsing about in NYC and Washington.

Of course, a large part of it had to do with a lack of things breaking, which was really very pleasant. The beginning of the year was so frustrating in that regard, so it's nice to be able to report things just worked as they should the past 3 months.

Still, we had an uncorrected leaky rudder post, and we had an idea somebody visiting the big October Annapolis boat show might be interested in Aurora, so back to Annapolis we went, arriving about 10 days before the opening of the boat show.

We immediately headed for one of the larger boat yards in Annapolis, one which has a number of contractors on site. We asked around and got a recommendation for Seaside Boat Works and Ted Downey. Can't say enough good things about Ted. From the first moment we talked he impressed me with his no-nonsense and rigorous approach to diagnosing our leaky rudder problem.

In short order we had the boat out of the water, and the rudder out of the boat. Removing the rudder took about 2 hours, a task that had taken the previous folks we'd used nearly 2 days. Admittedly we had the experience of having done it once, but Ted and his helper Scott wasted no time in dropping the rudder.

It took s bit of work to correct the problem, but we finally had a solution that included re-facing the inner fiberglass/gelcoat surface of the rudderstock tube with epoxy, adding a thick ring of fiberglass to the top of the tube, and machining grooves into the bronze stuffing tube so that the 3M 5200 adhesive effectively formed O-rings. When we put her back in the water this time, there was *no* leak. And the rudder post had much tighter tolerances with no slop. All in all, an excellent repair. In this case, it's much better than originally shipped from the factory.

We also took advantage of the time out of the water to touch up the bottom paint (including the paint on the bottom of the keel where I had plowed a small furrow in the Potomac on the way from Washington, D.C. back to the Chesapeake :-), buff and polish the hull and topsides, and several other boat projects. By the time the boat was back in the water we'd spent about the same as we'd spent in July, except this time the rudder leak was a thing of the past and the boat was sparkling.

We took a new set of pictures of the interior and some of the exterior and posted a for sale ad on We had a couple of parties come by and kick the tires, so to speak, but not as much interest in the boat from folks visiting the boat show as we'd expected. Odd, because the boat show was well-attended and a new boat by Hylas would take 2 years after ordering and would cost nearly $200,000 more. But by the 2nd week in October it was clear the economy was down the toilet and circling the drain.

We really don't expect much interest in the boat during the winter. I left the boat in a slip, with the expectation that the boat yard would move her onto the hard once the fall rush had settled, and sure enough last week Aurora was moved from her slip and onto the hard. She's been winterized (antifreeze has replaced any drop of water that was aboard!), and put to bed for the season. She's being looked after by the folks at Seaside Boat Works, and they're able to show her to any prospective buyers.

So that's pretty much it. It was boring sitting on the boat, waiting for Maryann's return from California. Which, as it turns out, never happened. Instead we're suddenly back living life in the SF bay area, almost as if we'd never left. But we did and we had some pretty amazing times. And some fairly depressing times. But all in all it was an adventure of a lifetime.

And who knows, if the boat doesn't sell and the economy turns even worse we can always put her back in the water and continue where we left off. We've still got enough left in the cruising kitty to last us another 3 or 4 years; that should be enough to get through the downturn, right?


And our address:

Ken and Maryann Klingman
1469 Bellevue Ave. #208
Burlingame, CA 94010

cell phones didn't change:
Ken 650-888-3916
Maryann 650-218-6653