Where it all started

The beginning of our sailboat chronicles!

10/11/20222 min read

36 hours later, we packed all of our backpacking gear onto the Sneaky Bender and set off to Catalina Island for our first sail on the new (old) boat. Within a few hours, we realized that the forecasted NW wind that would have set us on a lovely beam reach was not coming anytime soon. We shrugged it off and motor sailed with a few knots of wind, pulling into the Emerald Bay mooring ball field around sunset and promptly falling asleep after a long day.

In the morning, we popped over to the Two Harbors fuel dock to replenish the gas we burned through motoring the day before. We snagged some snacks on the island and prepared for a long, hot day of downwind sailing. The Sneaky Bender was holding up great, though we continued to lengthen our list of projects. Quickly occupying a top spot on our list was removing the stadium-style seats that a previous owner had installed in the cockpit––the backrests are great, but the obstruction of the winches and exclusion of a traveler are not.

We made it back from Catalina with a newfound skepticism of wind forecasts and an exciting list of projects to work on. Next step: get the boat to Marina del Rey!

We met Free Range on a Thursday night––her name was Sneaky Bender and she was still docked in a crowded Long Beach marina.

Jack and I both braved the 405 traffic after work and cruised into Long Beach as the sun was setting, forgoing dinner (and sanity) all for the prospect of a Craigslist boat. This wasn't just any boat, however––it was a 1984 J29. Fast, durable, and spartan, J29s are known for being a solid choice for racers and seasoned seafarers alike.

Jack and I are neither of those things.

We are amateur sailors, but more importantly, we are lifelong learners always on the hunt for new skills and projects. While visiting the Oregon Coast in early September, we were halted by a For Sale sign on a beautiful Cal 227 and jokingly floated the prospect of buying an old sailboat to work on. By mid-September, we had racked up countless hours researching models, vintages, equipment, history, slips, marinas, insurance, registration, and all of the reasons not to buy a boat. Aboard the Sneaky Bender, we left no floorboard unturned as we noted all of the pending projects a 38 year old boat is apt to have: old thru-hulls, electric bilge maintenance, crumbly caulking, and a host of after-market modifications by a long line of previous owners. The list of projects was anything but a deterrent; we leapt at the idea to learn how to restore the old boat.