Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Passage Journal: San Diego to Turtle Bay

Feliz Navidad ... almost!
Some tough times since San Diego, intermixed with wonderful experiences keeps us on our toes!!

Turtle Bay ,, A nice calm anchorage

Cruising is a tease.  One moment it offers you some of the most unique, cool, and exciting experiences of your life.  You're flying along having a great time wondering how anyone could live any other way.  And then it throws you a curve -- an "ugh" (for I can think of no other way to describe the feeling).  And just at the moment when you are on the edge, on the brink of wondering why in the world you are putting up with this, it offers up yet another cool thing, and you are again flying high.

San Diego to Turtle Bay

One week has passed since leaving San Diego, but it feels like a month, perhaps more.  The last seven days have really been  quite the roller coaster ride, such that I'm not sure where to even begin ... I suppose ---- [enter very long pause while I wait for the tremendous swell to stop rocking the boat such that I can set down my drink and continue typing ... ah that's better, for the second anyway] --- as I was saying, I suppose I should just start at the beginning ... it's a long one, so I hope you've had your cup 'o jo already!

We left San Diego around noon on the 23rd.  We fueled up next to a power yacht, Evviva.  This boat was amazing, probably 250 feet (at least) ... helicopter pad on the upper dock and all (and we've got pictures to prove it).  After a few words with the Captain (owner?) and some of the crew, we learned that it holds 30,000 gallons of fuel and burns 180 gallons per hour!  Figure and average of $2.00 a gallon ... well, you do the math!!!  Just to give you something to compare it to, Billabong carries about 80 gallons (TOTAL ... which includes the 20 gallons in jerry jugs up on deck).  In an hour they burn more than twice our total capacity.  Amazing.  In one hour their fuel expensive is greater than a third of our entire monthly budget!

It was dreary and raining as we left - we have really come to appreciate our well protected cockpit - although some of that sideways rain still gets you.  It looked like we might have to motor, but on exiting the channel we felt a light breeze and decided to raise sail.  As I headed us up and Chris raised the main, the wind decided to have some fun with us (it seems that with Billabong it is all wind or no wind).  We had two or three reefs in and used the smaller Staysail rather then the Genoa.  It was cold ... very cold, and of course since we had been tied up at the transient dock, rather than anchored out, my seasickness began to kick in.  I hung out in the cockpit with Chris until about 11:30pm and then decided that I was going down below.  Chris could get me when he was ready to switch.  I was at the bottom of the roller coaster -- wet, cold, tired, and sick.

Dolphins at Night

2:30am, I'm somewhat awake, hearing a very high pitched whining noise ... eeeewww, eeeewww, eeeewww.  I'm thinking it's the engine (we had gone from too much wind to no wind, of course with no in-between), but I can hear Chris and know that when it comes to the engine he's got extremely sensitive hearing, so nothing must be wrong.  Then I hear Chris come down below and into our cabin ... "Do you hear that whining?".  "Yes ...".  "It's dolphins ... tons of them ... and it's phosphorescent -- you've got to come see it ...".  I have to admit I did not jump anxiously out of bed ... I'm thinking, yah yah I've seen dolphins, and it's cold out there ... but something in Chris's voice (excitement maybe) got my legs going, and the rest of me just followed.  As I make it up to the bow, I'm not all that impressed and am secretly thinking "I got out of bed for this?" -- at the time I could maybe see one dolphin ... barely glowing in the phosphorescent.  And then, out of nowhere, there they were.  Twenty to thirty dolphins, lighting up the boat with the green glow of phosphorescence.  At this point, no matter what I type, how many fifty-cent words I use, or how elegant they are, I will not be able to convey just how extraordinary it was.  We sat on the bow for at least twenty minutes just watching. You could see the dolphins coming from about fifty yards away ... they looked like fast moving green torpedoes ... two or three at a time, straight at the boat with amazing speed, and then SWOOSH they'd turn at the last minute now jumping, turning, rolling, dodging through the wake at the bow.  They glowed green and came from every direction.  Some played off in the distance, others so close I'm not sure how they didn't hit the boat.  I said to Chris, "I've just had my first real cruising experience".  I am now at the top of the roller coaster, flying high, wishing I could transmit this image to my family and friends to share, but knowing that no matter how I described it, it would never sound as cool as it was.

Point Colnette

Point Colnette Anchorage

Originally we thought we would head for San Martin or Cabo San Quintin, but we made contact with a couple of cruisers (who we met in Ventura), and they were stopping at Point Colnette.  We were ahead of them (they had left from Ensenada a few hours back), so we thought we'd swing by Point Colnette and check it out.  There were some large swells, but low in frequency and the wind seemed calm enough that we decided to stay.  Sea Pilgrim and Koinonian arrived a few hours later.  We had Bryan and Teri (from Sea Pilgrim) over for Christmas Eve dinner [Sausage and Pepper Stew w/ rice] and retired pretty early.  The next morning we awoke to find that Santa visits boats too!  After coffee and present opening we lifted anchor for San Martin.  On the way we got to talk to our families via satellite phone.  For what seems like the first time, we actually had GOOD wind ... not too strong and not too light, ahhhh this is sailing :)  The sun was out, the breeze blowing, and oh my is that a whale just fifty yards port of us???  My first whale sighting EVER ... outside of Sea World.   He stayed with us for a bit surfacing three or four times.  We never got to see much of him, but on his final appearance he showed us his tail -- so cool! (The pictures I took were with my non-digital 35 mm so it might be awhile before we can post them on the website).

San Martin

The two other vessels had departed around 7:00am ... us two hours behind.  But it didn't  take long for us to catch up (while I'm sure Chris, with his excellent sailing skills, would like to take credit, I think it had more to do with waterline).  There was a lot of haggling on the radio, especially to those in "last place" ... who were accused of doing their laundry (dragging clothes behind the boat ... causing them to slow down).  It really was a great day!  We arrived at San Martin at dusk ... a bit of rain had started up again and there was some fog cover, but it was calm (we had actually been motoring the last two miles).   I whipped up our Christmas dinner (Honey Glazed Turkey, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Three-Cheese Biscuits, Zucchini with Onions, and Apple Crisp for dessert), and we enjoyed a calm, relaxing dinner under the glow of our Christmas lights.  I was still at the high of the coaster ... but coasters drop fast.

San Martin Northern (exposed) Anchorage
Before I go on, a visual of our anchorage is in order.  San Martin is a small C shaped anchorage, open to the North-Northwest.  Great protection, unless a Northwesterly came in ... a NW would put you in a lee-shore condition (this is where the wind and waves are pushing you towards shore -- typically a bad thing).  When we entered the anchorage we circled near the western edge of the anchorage - discovering very shallow water (10 feet) and tons of kelp (not good for engine propellers).  The entire Eastern side of the shore [anchorage] was rocks.

The Big Blow

I don't think I am exaggerating when I say that the wind picked up in a matter of minutes.  It was still calm when I climbed into bed and began reading -- and it wasn't more than one or two pages later that it had jumped at LEAST 15 knots.  Chris went up to check things out, I stayed thinking it was just a "little wind".  That "little wind" continued to grow.  Chris set me to watching wind speed and keeping him updated while he scoped out our anchor to confirm all was holding and well.  During this task, I heard Sea Pilgrim call Koinonian.  They (Sea Pilgrim) were dragging, and therefore decided to lift anchor and move around the point to the backside of the anchorage (where they would be protected from the NW wind which was now hitting us at above 20 knots).  Koinonian was holding anchor and decided to stay.  Chris asked me what he thought we should do.  Here's where it gets tough -- by now the increasing winds (hitting 30 knots) are creating some rather large and forceful waves/swell.  If we lift anchor we have to be able to pull in 150 plus feet of chain and a tangled snubber, while keeping Billabong from being blown back (onto shore).  In addition it's raining, which means cloud cover, which means pitch black -- translation -- will I run Billabong into the Island, or Kelp?  And if we do successfully pull anchor we have to get around the point, and re-anchor (in the dark).  On the other hand, if we stay, conditions could worsen and we could be forced to leave ... in worse conditions.  I was no help,  I couldn't decide ... I just didn't know.  Chris thinks were going to move ... so I put on every layer of clothing I can find and join him in the cockpit.  It's ugly out here.  The wind is screaming through the anchorage ... you know that monstrous sound really hard wind can make.  Billabong is rocking and rolling hard.  Land looks awfully close.  We made our plans for exit, and perhaps it was something on my face, but Chris asked me if I "felt good" about this.  I couldn't lie, I wasn't going to pretend, No, Hell No, pulling anchor had me worried.  On the other hand I trust Chris - if he thought we should lift anchor, then we should, no questions.  But I didn't think that Chris was fully sure either ... and perhaps you never are in these situations, but he was to and from the bow, back-and-forth, back-and-forth, wanting (remember this is all from my prospective) so badly to make the right decision -- the safest decision.  Finally, feeling like I was no help in this difficult dilemma, I suggested he take a moment, sit, breath, and go with his gut.  We had a minute to spare - use it to clear your mind.  I'm not sure if Chris liked the idea or was just appeasing me, but he did it -- and came out with the decision that we would stay, but we were going on anchor watch.

It wasn't long after this decision, that Chris pulled out the search light.  On radar Koinonian looked awfully close to shore, actually that's an understatement, they looked like one.  And they were.  When flashed, you could see Koinonian slightly lying on her port side.  I couldn't believe it.  We still had our engine running, and decided to keep it that way, if our anchor started to drag we didn't want to have to worry about the engine not starting or the time it took to start it.  Chris went back to anchor watch on the bow, while I stood by at the wheel/engine, ready to go.  I hailed Koinonian.  No answer. Hailed again.  No answer.  Hailed again ... Sea Pilgrim answered and I told them what was up - they would stand by why I continued to try and contact Koinonian.  I couldn't see any movement with the search light.  It's at this point that my overly active imagination got going.  I'm not going to go into everything that I visualized - like the phosphorescent dolphins I could never accurately convey these thoughts - let's just say I need to read a little less Stephen King.  Finally Linda (from Koinonian) answered.  She sounded frantic to me, like someone very close to panic ... I hoped I was just reading into things, and perhaps she was just out of breath.  I got some information ... their anchor dragged and before they had time to do anything they had hit a rock and were now stuck.  Von had tried to use another anchor to pull them off, but wasn't able to row or motor (on their dinghy) the anchor out due to the waves and wind.

They were now getting in the life raft, Von was waiting for her, she had to go. And that was it.  I almost panicked ... everything, absolutely EVERYTHING I've read says not to leave your boat unless it is ABSOLUTELY the last option ... the saying goes you should have to step UP into the life raft.  But she was gone, and honestly I didn't really know -- after all it's just something I read.  I couldn't see them with the search light, and without radio contact had no idea how they were fairing.  I stared at the wind speed, willing it with every ounce of my being to go down, concentrating so hard, as if I could command those stupid digital numbers to go down and make everything alright.  Of course I couldn't.  A bit later Sea Pilgrim came on -- they had heard from Von and Linda (not sure why we weren't picking them up), they were OK.  We were still confused as to if they were in their dinghy (also serving as their life raft) with a hand held radio, or if they had gone back aboard.  It finally came out that they opted to stay with the boat.  They were both okay, the boat had not cracked (they were not taking on water), but they were out of options.  The couldn't put out another anchor to pull them off the rocks, and it was too rough to try and put some type of cushion between the hull and the rocks.  She was holding, but every wave that came in pounded against her -- how much longer could she stay intact?

At one point a huge fishing boat was passing by and appeared to be looking for something (we found out later Sea Pilgrim had seen them and contacted them to see if they could assist).  We shone our search light on Koinonian (thinking that is who they were looking for), and they launched a Ponga to investigate.  The only problem was that they came to us first.  We didn't speak Spanish ... they didn't speak English, and with the wind and waves, the only way the could get close to us was to run into us, which is exactly what they did -- as if we didn't have enough concerns!  Somehow we got them pointed towards Koinonian, they went, shone some lights, and then headed back to Billabong.  WHY?  We tried every hand signal and Spanish sayings for "No" that we knew, but they came, and again, bounced against our boat.  We are just lucky they missed (by inches) our port window and Gomez (the wind-vane).  They said some stuff, made some hand motions that seemed to say Koinonian is being banged (duh), and then returned to the larger fishing boat.  And that was it - they left.  We have no idea if it was just a communication problem, or if they deemed Koinonian impossible to save in these conditions.

And so we waited.  It was around 9:30pm that the had wind picked up.  Around midnight that we discovered Koinonian ashore.  And around 4a.m. that the Coast Guard helicopter appeared.  Up until that point (from probably 11pm - 4am) Chris lay huddled in the chain locker monitoring the anchor (at this point the bow was actually dipping under water with some of the larger swells) ... I can't imagine how cold Chris must've been huddled up there with one dinky little fleece blanket.  I sat at the helm monitoring the wind and radio (making occasional contact with Koinonian or Sea Pilgrim), and doing occasional search light checks of Koinonian.  Chris had rigged the snubber lines in the best manner he could think of to alleviate stress from the swell, he had a second anchor and set of snubbers waiting and ready, we had the engine running - ready bolt, and we waited.  I kept staring at the wind speed gauge convinced that any minute it would go down.  At 4a.m. it did ... not to calm, but to calm enough ... below 20 knots.  We actually turned off the engine.  I laid down in the cockpit, while Chris went back to his "cozy" anchor locker.  What seemed like one minute later (although it was really closer to 20 minutes), Chris comes back saying something -- sounded like "oh ust ard ine ight urry".  I was in such a haze, I was standing before I was even awake, but then realized what he was saying, there was a "Coast Guard helicopter, shine the light, hurry".  We directed the helicopter (via spot light) to Koinonian.  Sea Pilgrim had also seen the helicopter and contacted Koinonian via radio.

We were impressed, by our calculations Koinonian had set off their EPIRB (emergency position information radio beacon) around midnight ... the Coast Guard had arrived within four to five hours (fyi, we do have an EPIRB).  About the same time the Coast Guard showed up, the wind picked up again.  We re-started our engine and resumed our previous positions, while also monitoring the radio to hear discussions between Koinonian and the Coast Guard.  Just prior to the wind re-starting I really though Koinonian had a chance - she was still holding together and the wind was dying.  Light would be here soon, and then we could help her off the rocks.  But that's not the way it went.  The wind (and therefore waves) picked up, which meant more pounding for Koinonian.  It was awful to hear Von on the radio with the Coast Guard -- the sound of the crashing waves in the background, of the boat being ripped apart, ugh.  Koinonian couldn't take the second round of pounding ... I'm not sure what time it was - the sun wasn't visible on the horizon yet, but dawn was near, when Koinonian cracked.  Under the light of the Coast Guard's helicopter they abandoned ship (at this point they were pushed so close to shore they could've probably walked).  The Coast Guard lowered a man down to them (which was quite a site to watch) to ensure they were okay and figure out the next steps.  In the end Linda and Von decided to stay and catch a ride to the next port with Sea Pilgrim (they could've flown back with the Coast Guard).  Talking with Bryan and Teri later, it was that perhaps Von still hoped in his heart that Koinonian could be saved.

It was around 8:00a.m., as the bow dipped under water yet again, and the wind showed no signs of letting up, and the swells only grew, that we decided to ditch our anchor and motor out.  We hadn't dragged, which was calming, but we couldn't just sit in the anchorage waiting and hoping, and we couldn't safely pick up the anchor.  Without too much trouble we made it to the other side.  The conditions were still bad, but with no lee-shore things seemed a hundred times better.  Our problem now was that our primary anchor and chain were gone, and the water where we were now anchoring was deep (60 feet deep).  Plus the swells were huge (we were rolling from port window to port window) and it was still quite windy (even with some of the protection of the island).  We threw out a Bruce anchor (which are supposed to only require 4 to 1 scope) and 5 to 1 scope.  Neither of us felt great about this ... 5 to 1 in these conditions, even on a Bruce wasn't comforting ... especially when we had out all line (no chain), and our line had a splice in the middle of it (which weakens the line).

Moved into the lee of the island to try to rescue Koinonian

I can't imagine having done it in the dark, or how Sea Pilgrim made it without tangling themselves in the kelp.  There were huge kelp beds surrounding the entire outer edge of the island.  Sea Pilgrim later told us that they came within a dinghy's length of the rocks the night before (when their anchor dragged).

Chris and I were exhausted.  We monitored Bryan as he rowed ashore to pick up Von and Linda and begin salvaging some of the boat.  With the conditions, our "weak" anchor, exhaustion, and an irritable outboard engine, we didn't feel like taking our dinghy ashore (rather, didn't feel it was safe).  The three of them made it back to Sea Pilgrim safely -- and we all called it a day.  The rolling wouldn't stop though, making it a long night.  Chris and I both slept on the settee (couch) to give us a better roll angle (head to foot instead of side to side).

It was a bit calmer the next day, so we launched the dinghy and went around to the other side -- where we had ditched anchor.  Our anchor buoy was still there and everything appeared to be in order.  It was still too windy and rough to attempt retrieval.  We joined Bryan and Teri ashore, and met Julio the Fisherman.  According to Julio this was one of the windiest months of the year (oh great!).  Julio was great.  Apparently he lives in Ensenada, but two months out of the year he watches the island, or rather the shacks and boats of the lobster fisherman.  I can't imagine how lonely it must get.  While ashore one of the small fishing boats broke free of it's mooring and ended up on the beach.  The four of us assisted Julio in the rescue and helped him secure the boat, in return -- without being asked -- Julio gave us five lobsters!  (Chris and I gave our share to Sea Pilgrim as they had the extra guests and we figured Von and Linda could use a good meal).  Finally, that night the wind seemed to be calming.  The boat wasn't rocking near as much and a good night's sleep was just around the corner.

And just as I was drifting off into bliss, Chris informs me that we are in the kelp!  While the wind was calm, it had also shifted - swinging us around right into the dead center of a very large kelp bed.  Will it never end???  So we're up again, in the night, messing with our anchor.  First we had to pull Billabong clear of the kelp (with the dinghy), then we set out a second bow anchor, but it didn't set first take, so we had to pull it and then set again.  By now we've been motoring all over the place and who knows where our anchors really are ... but we call it a night anyway.  It stayed calm, and we stayed out of the kelp, but sleep was minimal.  Chris woke early and took the dinghy to check conditions in the anchorage.  Things looked good -- it was time for anchor retrieval!

Surprisingly this went pretty well.  However, Julio's assistance was invaluable.  While we were attempting to pick up the end of the chain, Julio (again w/out being asked or signaled) rolled out to us and just started helping.  He seemed a bit disappointed when he found out that Sea Pilgrim had left, and that we were leaving that day as well.  After successfully retrieving our anchor (hooray) we went ashore for one last look at Koinonian.  Chris helped Julio pull off a few more things, and tried to show him parts of the boat that Julio could get a lot of money for (things Julio might not have guessed).  I just wanted to leave.  Chris talked about perhaps hiking to the top of the mountain or taking some pictures of the sea lions, but, in my mind this island felt bad ... bad chi so-to-speak, we couldn't leave soon enough.  So we headed 10 [nautical] miles South to San Quintin (it is the 28th).  On our way a large dolphin pod stopped briefly to play at our bow.  Chris said it's as if they were saying "see there's good stuff to cruising too!".  Sea Pilgrim was also at San Quintin, and had dropped off Von and Linda, who caught a bus to begin their trip home to Oregon.  We were all still in shock that their boat was gone.  They had only just purchased the boat in Ventura.  Had saved for who knows how long, and had sold or donated so many of their possessions.  Luckily they still had retirement and a home ... plus an amazing attitude.  We have no doubt that in a few months they'll be off on some other crazy adventure, and wish them the very best.

San Quntin Anchorage

Finally we got a good night's sleep (ahh)!  The next morning the sun was out, the water was calm, and cruising once again seemed wonderful.  I baked some fresh bread, and then we (along with Bryan and Teri) headed into town (on the dinghy).  None of us had really bothered to scope out just how far the town was ... I am quite surprised we didn't run out of gas!  When we did finally make it back we took a look and discovered it was at least 16 n.m. (roundtrip)!  The town was beyond small ... not even a market or small grocery store.  It was a fishing town, so there were a lot of "Gringos" around and most everybody spoke at least a little English.  We walked around for a bit, and then stopped for some fish tacos.  I think we may have stirred some trouble between husband and wife, because when we asked the husband if they were open he said, "sure sure".  However his wife (aka the cook) did not seemed pleased.  From what little we could decipher (with our limited Spanish) she thought it was too early in the "morning" -- it was 2:00 in the afternoon!!!  She seemed to cheer up though when our presence seemed to attract more customers (I suppose if you're going to cook, might as well cook for more and make a little money).  When we asked the husband what the fish was, his reply was,  "I'm sorry we ONLY have yellowtail"!  ONLY yellowtail -- we all had HUGE grins ... the tacos were absolutely FABULOUS!

There were a few times on the way back that we weren't quite sure we'd make it ... our outboard seemed to be groaning and our fuel going fast ... but we did.  And enjoyed another peaceful night. The swell had started to pick up and weather forecast was predicting higher winds, so we moved out a bit (re-anchored).  The next day was even worse so we put out a stern hook as well in order to get us pointed into the swell (rather than beam to beam rolling) ... but once we set, the wind shifted (as did the swell), so it was all for naught.  We didn't do much those two days -- weather was too crappy.

As I was typing this, Chris was throwing out cheesy titles, like "life on the roll" and "sometimes you've just got to roll with it".  It seems we have not had much luck with the anchorages on the outside.  We were so tired and the swells so bad that we weren't even able to stay up for the East Coast's New Year (i.e. we were both in bed before 9pm).  We were definitely getting to the end our ropes - the swell was driving us crazy.

But, as I started out saying, this cruising thing is a tease ... or roller coaster ... just has we were getting sick and tired of things (and Chris keeps joking that I may not return after my upcoming trip home in the end of Jan), it throws you a bone.  Today (the 1st of Jan), we are sailing on broad reach, in the sunshine, at a leisurely 5 knots.  We are both smiling, enjoying the sail and sun from the comfort of our bean bags -- and oh I think Chris may have just caught a fish!  Take that back, he lost him, ah well we'll keep trying.

We haven't decided yet where we'll stop (either Cedros, Turtle Bay, or Santa Maria) -- we'll let the swell and wind determine that ... all I hope is that we can stay on the upside of the coaster for awhile!!!

Turtle Bay and our first calm anchorage

1/4/2003 - Quick Update.  We passed on the San Benitos Islands (near Cedros) -- too much kelp and wind.  Instead we sailed another night to Turtle Bay (Bahia San Bartolome).  Things here are great so far -- we both slept like rocks last night.  Wind has picked up today, but the anchorage is rather protected, keeping things somewhat smooth.  It's a small town, where the largest and nicest property is the church.  They have fresh fish, which Chris and I tried to buy (yellowtail), however we would've had to purchase the ENTIRE fish -- which is just too much for the two of us.  We plan on hanging here for a few days and then on to Bahia Santa Maria (just outside of Bahia Magdalena).

Continue reading "Passage Journal: San Diego to Turtle Bay"...

Sunday, December 21, 2003

San Diego - And they're off!

San Diego

The big news -- we've left!  We're actually doing it!  But more on that later, a little catching up first ...

So much has happened since September (last journal entry) that I'm not even sure where to begin.  Somewhere between Sept. and Oct. Chris and I both stopped working.  No, that's not true, it was then that the real work began!  We were both so busy and things were so crazy that there would be days we wouldn't say more than two words to each other!!!  But it's a different kind of work, and [I think] a better goal.  I won't bother with the details of the final preparations ... mostly because I can't possible recall all the work that Chris did, nor accurately describe all the errands and provisioning that I did.

Ventura To San Diego

We did get another "practice" sail in (to Smuggler's Cove and Prisoner's).  It was a great trip because we were able to test a variety of sail combinations - including our goofy spinnaker ...

Not having any clue when we would truly leave, we randomly picked a day for a Bon Voyage Party. What a great time!  It began with an "open boat", followed by an outdoor gathering at our friend's house (Thanks again John, Salli, Annabelle, Jack, and Simon).  As the crowd thinned, we broke open some champagne and a round of toasting commenced.  We are so lucky to have such great friends & family.  We were too busy gabbing to take too many digital photos, but here are a few:

In mid-November we pulled the the boat out [of the water] for three days of The Karate Kid reenactment;  sand off - paint on, wash off - polish on ... I've never done so much manual labor in my life!  We also had our first medical "emergency" when I hit my head on the prop zinc, which resulted in my look a-like contest to Carry (from Stephen King's book, Carry) -- for those who haven't read it, just think lots of blood.  Luckily it wasn't a real emergency and within the hour I was back to sanding.

Probably our biggest nightmare in preparations involved our engine.  It took a over five months, two diesel mechanics, and a certified letter to finally get our oil leak fixed.  Of course the fun didn't end there, we were confronted with a number of engine hassles over the final months. Knock on wood, persistence seems to have paid off ... on our journey to San Diego we clocked 26 engine hours with no major problems!

Which gets us to our departure.  The first time we actually picked a day to leave was one week before Saturday Dec 6th (where the 6th was our planned departure date).  And, as expected, we didn't make the date ... reconfirming why we had never bothered to pick a day to begin with.  Foul weather was partly to blame ... rain delayed a few epoxy-involved boat projects, but in general our delay can be summarized by the saying, "it's the last 10% that takes 90% of your time".  We re-adjusted our schedule, targeting a mid-week departure.  That was a no-go as well.  We couldn't leave on a Friday (some sailor superstition), and so we decided Sat or Sun (13th-14th).  As we were frantically rushing around we decided that this wasn't how we wanted to be ... what was a day or two?  And so we re-set our expectations and hoped for a Monday departure.  It was truly blowing like stink on Monday, and we weren't sure about backing out of our slip (we did not want to start our voyage being blown into another boat).  The wind died around 4pm - at which time we could've left.  But we were tired, and an overnight sail when I was already ready for bed didn't sound fun.  We were ready though ... for the first time everything was stowed, all major projects were finished, our cars were sold, our storage spaces had been condensed to a single 10 X 5 unit, she was filled to the brim with water, the spare diesel was strapped on deck, and there wasn't an inch of water line to spare.  We decided 8:30 am Tuesday morning would be our departure time.

8:30 a.m. came ... as did my Dad and Archie, our friend John Zilles, and our friends from a few slips down.  The wind was still outrageous.  Chris decided to shower with the thought "if I come out and the wind has died we'll just leave, if the wind has picked up we'll wait" ... the wind picked up.  Everyone said their good-byes (after all they couldn't stand around waiting), and Chris and I borrowed our friend's car and went to a movie.  As we left the movie we both turned to each other with the same thought ... the wind had died.  "Let's see how it is at the harbor" ... same -- it was calm.  As I told Chris, "Maybe we should just leave!?!?", my stomach jumped and my nerves switched into high gear.  Within the next 30 minutes, the engine was going, our dock keys were turned in, and we were backing out of the slip.  As we untied the dock lines my emotions got the best of me ... and just as I was trying to get it in control Salli called to say, "I think I'm actually sad" (yes that's a direct quote) -- well, I knew I was sad, so I practical hung up on her because I couldn't take it.  Chris asked if I needed a minute, but no, if I had a minute I'd need an hour, and if I had an hour I'd want a day -- you get the idea.

We pulled out gracefully (in other words without hitting anything) and did one last tour of the Ventura Harbor (we were stalling as our friend was coming to take photos of our departure).  It was great to see the Zilles family waving to us from the breakwater ... but sad too.  I remember thinking "What the hell am I doing?" -- a huge part of me wanted to turn back ... surely I wasn't ready for this, how could I leave all my friends and family???  At that moment I couldn't visualize the future -- I couldn't see the remote islands, the new cultures and friends, the adventure of a lifetime -- I could only see what I was leaving -- Vegas with the Girls, Monday night football at the Zilles', nieces & nephews, instant access to family, sushi with friends, and the list went on and on.  It was tough.  I'm not sure if I've ever experienced such a wide range of mixed emotions in that short of a period.

It was a beautiful departure.  The sun was near setting and just outside the breakwater a dolphin performed a few jumps just port of our bow.  Thanks again John for the pictures!  [Larger pictures coming soon]

We left Ventura around 4pm (Dec 16th).  At 8pm we dropped anchor in Smuggler's Cove (Santa Cruz).  We decided to stop as I wasn't feeling quite well (always seasick the first day out).  But the anchorage was terrible ... rolly-polly.  So at midnight, we pulled anchor and headed for Cat Harbor, Catalina.  The wind had picked up, and swells were hitting us directly at our beam.  We had in 3 reefs in our Mainsail and our hosted our smaller Staysail instead of the Genoa.  Wind was blowing 20/25 knots with gusts to 35.  For the first time I was truly seasick (i.e. nausea turned to regurgitation).  I went down below to try and sleep it off while Chris took watch.  Luckily by morning the seas & wind had calmed a bit.  We arrived in Cat Harbor around 2pm on Wednesday (17th) .  After lunch and a nap we decided to continue to San Diego.  With no wind we motored the entire way.  We arrived in San Diego around 8a.m. Thurs morning.  A huge navy ship was departing the channel, and as we came in a submarine emerged behind us!

Look close to see the sub behind Chris!

We decided to dock at the transient dock rather then anchoring out ... which makes visiting our San Diego friends easier.  We've been relaxing, visiting with friends, walking, and doing a bit of work (on the boat).  [Dr.] Flipper drove down from L.A. and spent a few hours showing us how to suture.  We practiced on Bob the Chicken:

We've seen some amazing sunsets, moonrises, and sunrises.  We've passed dolphins, sea lions, and tons of seagulls.  And we've crossed paths with some gigantic & interesting boats.  See more pictures here!

We'll probably head out for Islas San Benito (Mexico) on Monday or Tuesday.  Hoping to arrive by Christmas.  It's a small fishing island and we have some used dive suits which we hope to trade for lobsters and abalone!

It still hasn't sunk in for either of us -- and we're not sure when it will, in the meantime we're just enjoying time off from "working on the boat"!!!
Continue reading "San Diego - And they're off!"...

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

And We're Off

We left Ventura around 4pm (Dec 16th). At 8pm we dropped anchor in Smuggler's Cove (Santa Cruz). We decided to stop as I wasn't feeling quite well (always seasick the first day out). But the anchorage was terrible ... rolly-polly. So at midnight, we pulled anchor and headed for Cat Harbor, Catalina.

Continue reading on our Website (this is pre-blogging).

First Year Photos w/Location
Continue reading "And We're Off"...

Friday, September 05, 2003

What's in a name?

As promised in the 9/18 journal, a sidebar on how Chris & KT came to be Captain & Chef.  Plus a quick summary of the latest happenings with our preparations.

The following journal entry is a bit random and pointless, however it has been a few weeks since the last entry, and other then "we are still working on the boat" there is not much new to report.  If you continue reading, you are responsible for your own boredom and I will not be held responsible!

In my last journal, I referred to Chris as captain and myself as chef, and mentioned that there would be a sidebar on this later ... and so here it is, how we came to be Captain Myles & Chef Roddick!

I think that perhaps Captain is a bit obvious.  After all, Chris owns the boat, has the majority of the sailing experience, is responsible for the vessel & crew (or chef as it may be), and ... well, is just pretty much in charge!  But, for the less nautically inclined (like myself!) you might be wondering, why not Helmsman or Skipper?  Actually, even I knew that helmsman wouldn't work ... anyone can be a helmsman, as it is just the current individual at the wheel or Tiller.  In other words Chris and I will swap helmsman's duties throughout our journey.  Plus, it just doesn't sound right.

But why not skipper?  I was kind of liking the idea of Skipper, especially when it occurred to me I could call him Skippy for short (I'm sure he would've loved that)!  However, I have recently learned (something even the Captain himself didn't know) that Captain and Skipper are not the same thing!  A Skipper is responsible for the care and safety of the vessel, ship, yacht, boat, whatever you want to call it!  This is true of the Captain as well, but in addition, the Captain is also responsible for the care and safety of the crew (or chef) ... and since my dad has threatened that Chris had better not return w/out me, it just seems obvious that he must be the Captain.

There were a few options open for me; Co-Captain, Crew, and First-Mate.

Honestly I like Co-Captain, the problem is that I don't feel that I'm quite there yet.  See, "Co" to me implies that you are equals ... and my sailing skills just aren't quite up-to-snuff with Chris (not yet anyway).  Who knows, maybe someday I'll take it on, but it just doesn't quite fit right now (not to mention it seems to imply quite a bit of work).  Bare with me while I go off on a quick tangent -- when I told my family (Chris included) about this Co-Captain business, I was informed that you could not have a Captain and Co-Captain, both people would have to be "Co" in order to fulfill the "Co" requirements.  This doesn't work though, because as you can imagine, it is quite important that a single individual be in charge and have "final say", especially during critical decision making moments.  Therefore it is necessary that Chris remains Captain (we can't have us fighting in the middle of a hurricane about what to do and whose in charge, now can we?).  But I am insistent that a Captain / Co-Captain combo is completely legitimate (after all you can have a Pilot / Co-Pilot), and since I'm quit stubborn I have chosen to ignore the heckling from my family on this point ... should I someday decide I am up to being Co-Captain, Billabong will have a Captain / Co-Captain team!  Plus, these rules & codes are meant to be more of a guideline really (go see Pirates of the Caribbean).

Many people opt for Crew ... technically I suppose that it is appropriate (and in our home page I'm even referred to as Crew), but every time I hear crew, I get this visual of a couple of straggly looking dudes standing on the dock; unshowered, unshaven, and with their thumbs out [i.e. hitching a ride to the next port].  I imagine some of the older pirate movies, where the crew was vulgar, drunk, and cleaning the deck all the time.  True, this type of crew probably only exists in the movies, but none-the-less it's the image that runs through my mind!  And while I like a good drink like any good pirate, I just can't get used to washing the decks all the time.

I also believe that a lot of partners go for First-Mate ... as a matter of fact, way back in November Chris even purchased a t-shirt for me that said "First-Mate".  I was quite fine with this until I read a book, written by a women who defined the First-Mate as the furry critter you brought on board for company (i.e. a pet dog or cat).  Ok, yes, she is probably some feminist or something, but after reading that, well my ol' imagination got going again, and as with crew, I just couldn't go there!

I suppose the other thing is that if I wasn't going to be Captain, then I wanted something all-together different or unrelated (I'm a bit competitive by nature).  A huge chunk of my prep work for this journey has been, in one form or another, involved with the galley and provisioning.  In addition, since we moved onto Billabong I've done the majority of meal preparation for Chris & I (which in no way reflects talent, because Chris is a wonderful cook).  I suppose the final hook for me was reading Care and Feeding of an Offshore Crew.  In the book, the author points out the importance of proper provisions, good (tasty) meals, and nutrition, and how it can effects the ability and mood of the Captain and Crew, especially on longer passages. That, along with Art (Chris's dad) informing me of all the problems we could have from malnutrition, convinced me that Chef was a title worth having, and hence Chef Roddick!  [As you may have noticed Chef in no way implies that I actually have to be a GOOD cook!]

And while we're going on about names, I might as well introduce you to some of Billabong's "Crew".  Gomez (our Wind-Vane), Pedro Jr. (our Auto-Pilot), and Ricardo, Ricky for short, (our Sourdough Starter).  You might think us odd for giving names to inanimate objects, however if you think about how important the Wind-Vane and the Auto-Pilot are, and how much freedom they provide to the Captain & Chef during passages, you realize that they truly should have names.  OH, and what about the starter you ask?  After feeding something, twice-a-day for two weeks, plus knowing that when it comes time to use it, you must once again feed it regularly for a few days prior, you too would name it!

Well, if you've read this far, you deserve at least a bit of an update of what's happening around the boat.

Chris's last day of work was Monday Sept 15th, so he is now officially working on the boat full time (my last day is Oct 9th).  He is doing so much, that's it is hard for me to keep up ... he's installed the water maker, attached the wind-vane (we were missing one bolt, which was just received yesterday, so Gomez should be ready to go in no time), hooked up the fresh & sea water foot pump to the galley sink, and investigated the procedures to getting our French Visas (I'm sure there is more, but this is all that comes to mind at this time ... Chris keeps promising to write an entry, so someday you'll get the real scoop).

We finished all our vaccination shots [Hepatitis A & B, MMR (measles, mumps, & rubella), Polio, Tetanus, Yellow Fever, & Typhoid].  About two weeks prior to entering certain parts of Mexico we'll begin taking Malaria medication.

We've been doing massive amounts of accounting and legal paperwork; wills, power of attorney's, health care directives, crew lists, and so on.

We've also tried our first canned meal.  Ok, so I wasn't very daring on the first try, I made salmon patties (from canned salmon).  They were great!  Next meal will consist of canned pork loin and canned hamburger!  YUM!

Our new sail cover came in (cadet gray), it looks great!  Our cockpit cover was delayed a month (so hopefully it will come in around the beginning of Oct).  We finally ordered a huge roll of sunbrella, so we will be sewing up a storm soon (grill covers, awning, compass cover, ditty bags, etc).  We are also deciding on the material for our wind curtains, we've been delayed by our debate over 80% or 90% coverage (oh such tough decisions!).

In my quest to make Co-captain, I've been taking some sailing classes to touch up my skills and hopefully learn a few new things.  I've already completed the first (beginning) course, and take the intermediate and advanced courses at the end of October.

I'm sure I've missed a dozen things, but that at least gives you a glimpse ... approximately 50 days left!
Continue reading "What's in a name?"...

Monday, August 18, 2003

Blowing like stink!

August 18, 2003 Originally posted on Sailbillabong

Santa Cruz Island, California

We've done it!  Our first overnight trip.  Wait, let me back up for a moment.  I should be clear that I use the term "first" rather vaguely.  What I really mean is "first on Billabong".  I just thought I should settle that before causing any undo anguish to our families!  Now back to the trip ...

Under Sail to Smuggler's Cove

On Saturday (the 16th) Captain Chris and Chef Roddick (side bar on our "titles" later), headed out to Smugglers Cove on Santa Cruz Island.  The man on the radio was announcing a lovely 10-15 knot northerly wind.  Two friends of ours, on Panacea, were sailing out with us.  We easily motored out of the harbor, raised our main sail, and cleared the break water.  It didn't take long before Chris decided to reef the main (the seas were swelling and we were beating into the wind, which was blowing at more then the 15 knots advertised).  The first reef was rather painless, although I could see Chris mentally adding to his to-do list with every task he performed.

Unfortunately our friends on Panacea were without their main sail battens and had to turn back.  We sailed around each other for a bit, while Panacea's captain took some snap shots of Billabong (as soon as we get the prints we'll post a few for you).  I'm hoping that one of the pictures will be worthy of the business card we are trying to make for Billabong (good for exchanging with those we meet during our travels).

As we neared "windy lane"  Chris was reading off the true wind speed ... 16 knots ... 19 knots .. 20 knots .. 25 knots!!!  As we looked around Chris asked, "Our we the only boat out here?".  We were.  Now with two reefs in, beating to weather at 25+ knots, and trying to "ride" the waves as to avoid slamming the hull with each one, Chris posed the question, "Should we keep going or turn back?".  We kept going.

The 'fly on the wall' would've gotten a few good laughs.  First, apparently one of the galley latches was not fully latched in (or perhaps I really did forget it all together and I'm just in denial), so as Billabong heeled onto her port side an extremely loud BAM-BANG-CRASH came from below.  The sliding galley drawers (contained within the supposedly latched cupboard) went shooting across the boat.  Plates, bowls, knives, forks, etc were spewed across the floor.  Unfortunately this resulted in a few scratches to our lovely teak floors.

Next, Chris realized that our main port (at the center of the boat) was still open.  We hadn't bothered fully closing or locking down the hatches because we were expecting a nice, relaxing sail.  Chris went down below to close the port, when I remembered that while we had shut the two forward ports, we hadn't locked him.  He came back from latching down the forward ports a bit more then damp (and as you can imagine, if Chris was damp, then so was the forward cabin ... i.e. our bed!).  About an hour later, I was down below (who knows why since I get seasick and being below is the worst when one is feeling ill), when I noticed that our main port, the one Chris had originally gone below to close, was open.  Luckily only a few sprays of water had gotten into the boat.  Apparently in the process of closing the two front hatches, Chris forgot about his original task.

And the fun doesn't end there!  At some point, Chris decided to check out if his navigation software was working.  So I took the helm.  In these conditions we wanted to avoid going South (otherwise we wouldn't be able to get back up North to hit Santa Cruz), however we also didn't want to head up too much, as to avoid 'stalling'.  The point being, sail trim was critical.  I'm sitting on the starboard side of the boat.  We are beating on a starboard tack.   The jib  begins to luff just a small bit.  I slightly correct the direction of the boat.  The sail is luffing more.  I correct more.  The sail luffs more.  I forcefully correct even more.  I'm thinking, "UGH!  What the hell is going on?".  At the same moment, Chris comes running up from below, "damn software says we are going ...", and then he turns wild eyed to me and that's when it hits!  I'm turning us the wrong way ... South!

At Smugglers

Let me replay the situation so that you could understand how this might happen.  Mind, "Hmm, the sail is luffing, I need to ease us up a bit more".  Eyes, "Yes, we need to go that-a-way [looking right]".  Head agrees and turns to look up (starboard/right) along with Eyes.  Left arm, which is holding the wheel, "Sounds good, I'll just push the wheel away from me a wee bit" [i.e. this would be the equivalent of turning the wheel to the left].  Mind, "Uh oh, more luff, I really need to head up more!".  Head & Eyes agreeing both turn to starboard.  Left arm, "Yep, I'll just add a bit more force this time", still pushing the wheel away.  Mind, now panicking, "Chris is going to kill me, way too much luff, I've got to fix this before he comes back up".  As usual, head and eyes agree and look to the right.  Left arm, "I'm strong, I'll just give her a real good push and put us back on course!".  Mind [at about the time Chris is running a-top to see why his software says we are going south when he specifically told me not to go that way], "Oh shit!  Why am I pushing the wheel, I'm going the wrong $!%@-ing way!".

Apparently there was some kind of disconnection between my mind and body parts.  Somehow I knew what I needed to do, but could not figure out that my actions were not following suit!  Luckily, we corrected the situation quite quickly (the whole thing probably took less then one or two minutes, even if it felt like days).  And the navigation software works after all!!!

After four hours of going to weather we entered Smugglers Cove.  We had three reefs in the main (the third reef drew blood from Chris, which was now smeared on our bean bag, two winches, one cushion, and the side of the cockpit).  LINES were scattered on the cockpit floor.  The Chef was busy trying to keep breakfast down, while the Captain was shivering from the wind and spray.  Our instruments reported the true wind speed at 35 knots!  The waves had been HUGE!!!  But we survived!  And more importantly Billabong was amazing.  She handled great!  Once in the shadow of the island, the seas calmed and the wind settled.  We ANCHORED without any problems and cracked open a well earned beer!  And it all seems worthwhile when you consider the view from our 'doorstep':

Unfortunately our friends never made it back out.  Even more unfortunate, they were providing the steaks for dinner that evening!  But this is where I passed my first offshore cruising test ... I had planned for the "unexpected".  And so Chris and I didn't starve, but rather sat down to a dinner of green salad, French Sourdough bread w/ balsamic vinegar, and Pesto Risotto w/ Shrimp.  I suppose the biggest error in dinner was that I made enough Risotto for a small army.  Wednesday night we were still eating leftovers!!!

We were very happy to have not turned back.  Not only because the evening was wonderful, but we recognize that we won't always have the option of turning around!  We had eventually planned on doing some shakedowns in rougher seas and higher winds, I think we just hadn't really expected it to be on our first sail out!  And just what does "Blowing like Stink" mean?  Well, 35 knots coming straight at your bow seems to satisfy our definition

The next morning, we headed back and it was a beautiful sail! A light ~10 knot wind coming from behind (and slightly port), and only slight swells! No blood, no spilled cupboards, no water in the bed, and as usual, a perfect parking job by the Captain!  We don't have very many pictures from this trip (we had more important things going on ... like sailing!), but those that I do have I'll be posting under "Pictures" in the near future.

PS ... 71 days and counting ...

Continue reading "Blowing like stink!"...

Monday, August 04, 2003

It's a sailboat again!

Originally posted on SailBillabong

The countdown continues, 89 days left!  I just purchased a new watch (specifically for the trip of course).  I'm under tight budget (as should anyone who plans on being without income for an extended period of time), however I read that having a good watch with a timer, alarm, back-light, and dual-time keeping was recommended, and of COURSE that meant I had to have one, right away!  It was like receiving permission.  My need was further confirmed this weekend, when my 'fancy' watch twice unclasped (nearly dropped into the water) and left lovely black marks all over my wrist after getting wet.  Plus, I'm in shopping withdrawal since I'm no longer allowed to purchase shoes (per Captain's orders on the number of shoes I'm allowed to bring aboard).  Anyway, what's the point in confessing to this purchase?  Well, it has a "Day Counter" mode, and today I set it to Nov 1, 2003 ... which is precisely 89 days from now!  I can't wait until it flashes [time's up]!

But, enough about the watch, it's not why you're reading this ... what's new with Billabong and the trip is what you're really after, right?

Raising the Mast

The biggest news of the day is that the mast is back up!  We raised it on Friday (Aug 1st).  Apparently it is customary to put a coin under the mast (so many boat superstitions, I'm not sure how we'll keep up with them all).  Chris spent the prior week searching for the proper coin.  We finally settled on a Massachusetts quarter he found heads up in the marina parking lot.  Why?  We figured MA was good because it is where we want to end up, and being found heads up (which is good luck on it's own) in the marina were we live just seemed to be "fate".  And so it sits under our mast, hopefully protecting our boat
It's a sailboat again!
To see this exciting process pictorially click here (or visit the picture index anytime).

Nothing in the boating world occurs without a hitch though.  After motoring over to the boat yard, raising the mast, and tuning the rigging, Chris powered her up to motor back to our slip.  But our engine was not spewing water. [Oh, I'm sure spewing is NOT the proper nautical term, but I believe it to be an accurate description of what occurs].  Finally, about an hour later, with the help of two engine mechanics under Chris's guidance, the problem was found -- a stripped water pump.  Luckily Chris had a SPARE!!!  (Chris has a spare for everything).  Chris replaced the pump and we were able to successfully motor back.  The engine still seems to be leaking copious amounts of oil, but that is a problem for another day.

On Sunday we put the boom back up, reattached the main sail, and added in the reef lines. I also took my first trip up the mast (unlike the guy from the yard, I sat in the chair while Chris used the roller furling to raise me).  I went up twice (running the jack lines) -- my first time lacked a bit in the grace department (or as Chris stated I had "the grace of a water buffalo"), but the second time up I looked like a pro (or at least felt like one, and Chris, being the smart boyfriend he is, didn't bother to contradict me!!!).  

Finally, with the insides of the boat put back together and a promise from Chris that it would remain as such, I went to work cleaning and organizing, while Chris continued to work on the engine. Typically, it is not an extremely large task to clean such a small space, however with the possibility of actually doing some sailing in the near-term, it took quite a bit more effort and thought (I'm still adjusting to the idea of living at an angle and objects flying around with each tack).  All of our hard work this last weekend was well worth it though, she looks beautiful and (more importantly) we are hoping to get in some after-work day sailing over the next few weeks.  We have also [tentatively] planned a trip to the islands for next weekend.

Over the weekend Chris also ran wiring from the navigation station to the forward main cabin.  This will allow him to hook-up additional instruments in our cabin, such that we won't have to get out of bed in order to monitor things like wind speed (really I think he just wants to check the compass setting when I'm on watch to double check I'm not taking us to Tahiti when we are aiming for Fiji). Monday he marked and added 350 feet of chain to the boat, surprisingly our water line was barely affected.

Of course, there is still much to do!  The wind vane Chris ordered just came in, and it, along with our water-maker, needs to be installed.  We need to get down to LA at some point in order to have our life raft repacked, pick up the water maker, and visit the appropriate embassy's for visas.  Plus the other zillion projects, which honestly I can't keep track of (lucky for us Chris has a spreadsheet!).

We've recently received a quote on some canvas work and are now trying to decide what is worth the cost versus what we can do ourselves (or as Chris says, what I can do -- although I have a feeling Chris may be a better sewer than me!).  I do know I'll be attempting to make BBQ covers, line bags, and a few other things.  Chris and I (or mostly Chris) will also be making our full boat awning (we both went into shock when we read that particular quote!!!).

Other (non-boat specific) projects are moving along nicely.  We recently sent in for passport renewals, will be receiving our second round of vaccination shots on the 22nd, and have our first First-Aid and CPR class on the 7th.  We've also just received a sample case of canned meats to try out in the galley.  The pictures on the cans look a bit scary, but supposedly this brand got rave reviews!  We'll keep you posted.

Oh yes, and we've also been working on designing our official boat stamp.  Supposedly it is extremely handy when doing custom's paperwork and what not, and wins you big points with the officials (I've also heard that fresh baked muffins work wonders when checking in - I'll let you know).  Here are a couple of our test stamp designs, once we finalize one, we'll be sending off the design for a self-inking rubber stamp.

The logo is a Hei-matau fish-hook bone carving and represents prosperity, abundance and fertility.  Wearing the Hei-Matau is a sign of respect for the sea and its creatures so it is also regarded a good luck charm providing protection and safety while traveling over water.  Chris picked the logo, and I've been working to make a design suitable for a stamp.

I guess that about wraps it up.  I'm sure things will be much more exciting and interesting when we are actually sailing, but for now you can never be too prepared!  Of course if there is anything you'd like to hear about in these journal pieces, be sure to let us know.
Continue reading "It's a sailboat again!"...

Saturday, July 19, 2003

So much to do, so little time

Just what have Chris and KT been up to?  Exactly what does Chris mean when he [always] says he's been "working on the boat"?

July 19, 2003 just 3 months, 12 days, 9 hours, 50 minutes, and 42 .. 41 .. 40 .. 39 ... seconds until our projected departure day [Nov 1st]!  Where did all the time go?  Just yesterday we had months and months left, and since then has our "to do" list shrunken??? Of course not!  For every one thing we check-off, we add at least three.  But they say you never leave with everything done, so we're trying to stay calm about it all!

Billabong - Getting her ready

Granted, our bon voyage date isn't really set in stone either - ah yes the great thing about the lifestyle we are about to take on ... no strict schedules or deadlines (well, unless you count hurricane season).

So what's new around Billabong?  Well, just about everything!  We (ok, mostly Chris) have been slaving away getting the boat ready.  I'm quite impressed with just how handy Chris is ...

On the top of Billabong's new arch, Chris installed four solar panels and a wind generator.  During this process he re-wired EVERYTHING, resulting in not only a well organized system, but a very spiffy looking navigation area! And to go with all the jazzy equipment hooked up to the new navigation panel, he built a shoe-box sized computer that runs from a 12 volt power source.

Next he showed off his carpenter skills by turning our "spare" head (aka bathroom) into extra storage space (all without having to add a single bolt to the boat).  What's so cool about this space (besides the extra storage) is that it is easily collapsible should we need the toilet (like when our main head breaks).

And the list doesn't stop there.  Chris redid the hatches (re-bedding all the glass), built a swing-out table in our cockpit (it along with our two BBQ's make up our outdoor galley), installed red lights (for night vision), ordered tons and tons of gear and spare parts (after of course spending numerous research hours to ensure we got not only the best quality but the best price), retro-fitted chaps for our [new] dinghy, installed a new head (toilet), added kelver lining to our front bulk head (aka "the garage"), and so much more!

By now you might be wondering, "And what does KT do while Chris is working away?".  Besides supervising (ha ha), I am mostly making lists ... I have become a master at Excel Spreadsheets.  Making lists of required documents for the Mexico & South Pacific Ports, lists of medical supplies needed for our medical kit, lists of the vaccinations we need to get, provisioning lists, galley storage floor plans, and so on.  Every possible storage space in the galley and surrounding area has been measured.  Thirty plus air-tight containers of all shapes and sizes, fitting perfectly into pre-selected spaces, have been purchased, doctors have been contacted (for prescriptions & vaccinations), shots have been received, passports are being renewed, visas obtained, etc etc.

We suspect that this will take anywhere from one to three weeks.  After which Billabong will be fully ready to sail (locally) and Chris and I can finally begin the real trip preparations (aka practice, practice, practice)!!!

And the question of the day ... will we really be ready to leave in November??? We're betting that we will be (but go ahead and keep your fingers crossed anyway!).
Continue reading "So much to do, so little time"...

Sunday, February 02, 2003

Our First Sail on Billabong

First Sail
Our first sail on Billabong

Continue reading "Our First Sail on Billabong"...