Saturday, July 30, 2011

To Do

I still have a lot to blog about but I'm simmering with my thoughts about the whole trip and I'm not prepared today to write about Catalina and the ride home. We learned so much along the way and for me, personally, I feel like I've somehow conquered, or at least begun to conquer, my biggest fear... the Ocean. For now, I thought I'd share a new "To Do" list. These are things we realized would make cruising easier. So here goes:

1. Line for our sea anchor
2. New line for our traveler
3. New blocks for our traveler
4. Autopilot (we purchased one before our trip to Dana Point but Ben wasn't able to customize it to our boat so we're back to square one on this. We have an old autopilot that we may be able to repair but either way, we need a working autopilot that fits our boat).
5. Windlass (for you non-boaties, this pulls up the anchor with little to no manpower)
6. A little coffee carafe. We can make coffee while underway but I came to realize it's not very safe to be handling boiling water while moving, so I'd prefer to have some already made that we can just warm up while underway. Simple things, ya know?
7. Wire the compass so it lights up at night.
8. A shock-absorbing mat to stand on or one of those golf-club-handle-looking things that people attach to their tiller in order to steer from a seated position. I learned that I need one or the other in order to be able to fulfill my duties on watch.
9. A chip for our GPS so we can see exactly where the buoys and other important things are while sailing.
10. A working jib

I think that's about it for now. But it goes to show, it is possible to sail or cruise without all the luxuries. However, it would be nice to have some things to make life a little simpler!


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Dana Point

Mo-C on the hook in Dana Point
 When we arrived in Dana Point yesterday, Adam had used up his 5 days for this month in the protected anchorage so he had to anchor outside the breakwater. We anchored out there with him and tried to catch some Zzzz's. I got up pretty early (I was feeling refreshed from the 4 hours of carbon monoxide-induced sleep I'd gotten while underway the night before) and got caught up on some work. When Ben got up, we dinghied to land and ate some giant hamburgers (sailing does funny things to you) and then returned to the boat. The ocean anchorage is like, well, let's just say it is kind of difficult to work from a laptop and a monitor while having to hold on to your seat. It's like working on a rollercoaster, I guess you could say. Since Ben and I have never been to the protected anchorage, we decided to pick up and move inside the breakwater where I could work in peace. It's amazing what a difference a breakwater makes!
Rita on the hook at Dana Point

We learned a few things along the way from Mission Bay to Dana Point. Ben found out the engine wasn't charging the batteries as it should have been, so he adjusted that today. There was absolutely no sun when we came up here, so our batteries really needed that extra boost from the engine while we were underway. Before we left, we got a Simrad TP22 Tiller Pilot to make the trip a little easier, but naturally, it needed some adjusting so we (okay, Ben) had to hand-steer the entire way. I helped out whenever he needed but I was mostly fixated on not getting ill or losing my mind, as I said before. He's currently working on adjusting the tiller pilot to fit the boat, but none of the trips we'll be making now will be as long as the one from Mission Bay to Dana Point, so if it's not working, we can suck it up and steer. There's a big learning curve out here. Not just from the ocean and the wind, but just understanding the ins and outs of being underway. Luckily we have Adam to give us tips, not only on navigating but also simpler things like what to keep in our ditch bag. It really helps to have a an experienced cruiser guiding us along the way!

We are leaving for Newport tonight or tomorrow morning. I'll post again when we arrive.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Buddy Boating

Adam's boat Rita off our starboard bow
 Yesterday afternoon, we left Mission Bay and headed north to Dana Point. Our first big trip in Mother Culture. We buddy-boated with our friend Adam and made it to Dana Point early this morning, around 6:00am. Overall, we went 59.6 nautical miles in 17 hours and 22 minutes, at an average of 3.4 knots. We sailed about 6 or 7 hours and motored the rest of the way. When we first started sailing three years ago, we always swore we'd never use the motor. That's what sailing is all about, right? But when you're out there moving 0.0 knots, it can be treacherous, so we motored. For me, the trip was an exercise in mind over matter. This was my first long-distance trip so I was mainly focused on not going insane. Luckily, Ben and the voices in my head kept me company along the way. ;) We're not much for planning so we'll be here in Dana for a day or two so I can catch up on some work and then we'll see where the wind takes us.
Rita under Sail

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Sound of Music

While at anchor in Mission Bay, Ben installed two new waterproof speakers on the stern of the boat. Now we can listen to tunes while we sail, or while we're just hanging out in the cockpit. Everything seems to be coming together nicely of late.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

On The Up and Up

Before we left for Mission Bay yesterday, Ben did some quick upgrades and repairs. Here are some pics: 

The inside of our grill was disintegrating...

So he replaced the innards with new shiny parts.

A few days ago, we took down the old, rusty light fixtures in the salon and over the navigation station.
Ben replaced them with these full moon-looking fixtures.

They light up white...

And red... 
The red is helpful for maintaining night vision while on night watch.

The base of our tiller cracked the last time we sailed over to La Playa. Luckily, we have a backup tiller on board. Rather than spending the money on a brand-new tiller to replace the main tiller, Ben decided to dry out and epoxy the cracked tiller. It is now as strong as ever and served us perfectly on our trip to Mission Bay.

Ben also installed an outboard engine mount to the railing on the stern of the boat. Now we can bring his outboard with us when we anchor out so we don't have to row to land. This isn't necessary in San Diego, but it will be when we're ready to travel to places more obscure.

Anchorage: Mission Bay

 We sailed over to Mission Bay yesterday. We left around 1:45pm and arrived around 7:00pm. It was a beautiful day but the wind died about halfway there so we ended up motoring for the last leg of the trip. Adam should be sailing over today to anchor with us. At some point, we plan to dinghy across the channel to check out Markitos's new (used) boat, a Calkins 50'. It's always exciting to see friends fulfill their dreams. :)

In this picture of Mo-C at anchor, you might notice the big blue rectangle suspended from a halyard over the cockpit. Ben dug this sun shade out of our lazarette a few weeks ago and it's been getting good use ever since. To think, it's been stowed for at least two years and we never even realized we owned it 'til this summer. Better late than never!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Training Wheels

We spent almost four years living in a box, eight months living in a rolling box and three years living in a floating box. Believe it or not, there is a method to our madness. Some people tell us we need to be sailing. We need to just get out there and "do it." And we intend to. When we're ready.

As far as sailing goes, Ben and I are both humble. Neither of us would call ourselves sailors. We understand that we have a lot to learn. And on the ever-changing blue highway, there are many things we will have to learn as things happen. But some things we can be prepared for. And we feel pretty good about our preparation to date.

Over the past few years, we've been practicing. Not always on the boat. Sometimes in a car, a plane, a bus, a motorhome. The skills we've acquired are no less useful because we acquired them on land.

Before moving aboard a sailboat, we spent 8 months in a motorhome getting accustomed to living in a tight space. Ben designed our solar electricity system so that I could continue working from home. We learned how to provision water and propane - both of which are even more difficult to come by on the water. We learned how to live with [what I used to think was] the world's smallest refrigerator. 

In the past two summers, we've driven over 10,000 miles in a car back and forth across the USA. Some of you might wonder what a road trip could possibly have to do with sailing. For us, it's simple. Road-tripping is like sailing with training wheels. It's learning how to keep watch in a controlled environment. Four hour shifts behind the wheel of a car, (or better yet, asleep in the passenger seat completely at the mercy of the helmsman), teaches trust. Together, we've practiced navigation on land with plenty of room for error. We learned how well we work together as a team, even in bad situations (maybe even more so in bad situations!). Ben learned that he can trust my judgment and I learned that I can trust his, for real. These are not things either one of us wants to leave to chance in the middle of the ocean.

Last summer, Ben and I traveled to Costa Rica. Aside from Mexico, this was our first taste of foreign travel together. We are firm believers in "doing as the Romans do." It seems like a good way to avoid trouble. In Costa Rica, we learned that we can be Romans, or, in this case, Ticos. We learned how to navigate a foreign country with ease. These are important skills for sailors, because... let's face it... neither one of us has much desire to sail around America for the rest of our lives.

As far as sailing experience goes, as much as we *don't* sail, we seem to sail as much or more than anyone else around here. We only began learning how to sail three years ago, and since then we've had our share of bay sails, local trips to Mission Bay and the Coronados, anchorages, etc. Ben has accumulated a good number ocean hours sailing with our friend Adam to Newport and Catalina Island. I graduated from the US Sailing Keelboat Certification course. This is not to say we don't still have a lot to learn, but we each feel pretty good about what we've learned in the past three years.

And someday, we'll go. But not because someone told us we should. We'll go when we're ready to go... And we'll most likely slip out in the middle of the night when no one is watching. So don't bother planning a farewell party! ;)

Sunday, July 17, 2011


 The Chilean tall ship Esmeralda is docked in San Diego Harbor this week. She is the second-tallest and second-longest tall ship in the world. Apparently some people are appalled by her tainted past (read NPR's article here) but I prefer to live in the present. She's a beautiful, BIG ship and we got a couple shots of her the other day as the sun was setting over the bay. I only wish they had side-tied her to our new cruise ship terminal. It would have provided a more attractive backdrop for such a snazzy boat.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


One of the projects Ben accomplished this summer while I was slaving away on the computer was refinishing the woodwork in the cockpit. He sanded the door panels and trim around the cockpit. Then he stained everything with Minwax Colonial Maple Wood Finish and applied Yacht Shine Teak Preserver to protect it. Since this is our first attempt at wood finishing in a marine environment, only time will tell how it holds up, but it looks bright and beautiful. He also did some work on the tiller which cracked on our last trip to La Playa. I'll post more on that later.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Dive Bar

A while back, we purchased a dive ladder at Minney's. Ben installed it recently so now he can easily climb out of the water after cleaning the boat. It also came in handy for Kristie when she fell out of her kayak on the 4th. ;)


It's been a while since my last post. I'm officially done with school tomorrow, so hopefully I'll make time to blog more in the next couple of months.

Ben has been working on some boat projects while I've been focusing on school and work. We even took a little Bay Sail one day a week or two ago. I'll post pics in the near future but for now I'll start with the 4th of July.

We enjoyed a pretty laid-back holiday weekend on the mooring field. I finally took Bad Seed for a spin (photo, left). I'm happy to report I haven't fallen into the water... yet!

Matt and Dianne stopped by for some sangria and sunshine before heading to OB for the fireworks show.

Mark came over and gave Bad Seed a try while Kristie yakked around. 

Kristie took a spill (or two) but that didn't stop her travels around the bay.

Always the eccentric, Charlie was spotted cruising around the 
bay in his self-designed handicapped lawnchair dinghy.

Andrea and I went on a sunset row while Ben went for a sunset sail. On our journey, we met a new friend, Pete, who was stationed at the end of the mooring field... The three of us rowed back out to Pete's boat later for an unobstructed view of the six synchronized fireworks shows around the Bay.

 On Tuesday, we were graced by a rainbow over the city. No rain, though. Only beautiful, sunny, 70+ degree weather all weekend long. This summer is definitely redemption for last year.

Even Lola got to go for a ride in Bad Seed!