Monday, November 22, 2010

out of the gate again and family visits

We had a beautiful day of sailing last Sunday with my mom. Great weather, great wind and great sun set. Couldn't ask for anything more :)
Here's my mom having so much fun on the boat!

In mid- October we made a second attempt to make it around the Farllones with similar results to the first. What began as a fun time hit a bump when sea sickness descended on Rick and made us decide it would be better to turn back for home.

Here I am in my foul weather gear, jack line, harness and life jacket. Anyone worried yet?

The highlight of the trip came after we turned around and headed back in the dark. The low over head clouds kept the stars and moon from giving us any light to work with, but as I scanned the horizon behind us, I caught a spectacular sight. In our wake was a stream of glowing jelly fish. The bioluminescence! After hearing about it for years I finally got to experience it for myself. I sat on watch in awe- giggling with delight. Which was a good thing because with an out going tide creating a 3 knot current, fighting our way back into the bay took all night.

Wish I had more time to write- there's so much more to say. We're leaving in 40 days!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Living on the boat

Well, we're here! It's been a difficult last few weeks for me. Trying to rid myself of the junk I hold onto is hard, but that was not the hardest part. Moving out of the apartment I shared with my sister was surreal. I kept feeling like I was abandoning her. I felt that the trip was looming too close now. Like walking down the aisle on your wedding day- it's exciting but I can't help wondering if it's really happening and how it came to be. And I can't seem to process it all right now. I still have a few odds and ends to take care of at the old place, but we've been living on the boat for a few days now.

It's amazing how much stuff fits in the cracks. I still have too many clothes- I separated them into what I need for now, and what I'll need for the trip. The fridge is bottomless- yet always looks full. The quarter berth is a mess. It's like a garage- just a place for miscellaneous stuff to rest while you figure out what to do with it... or forget that it's there.

I realized this morning that I've done this before... well not exactly this, but it does strongly remind me of a time in high school that I lived in a quonset hut with my dad. Just two rooms and a closet bathroom. But it's different this time. There's the promise of adventure just around the corner.

I've been loving the alone time- the quiet energy of the boat, the magic ambiance of the marina, the sunlight dancing off the water and reflecting off the bimini. I've been imagining what this next part of my life will be like- there's no way that my thoughts can match the reality of this trip- even though I try... and I think about it all the time.

So far things are going well for us here. The plan that living on the boat will help us find hidden problems is coming to fruition. Last night the marina handyman pointed out that the dockside electrical box red light was on- meaning that there was an electrical charge leaking back through the ground wire. My genius husband found the problem right away- the battery charger was wired backwards. So glad that we have great marina staff, so glad that we have all the tools needed to fix it, so glad that we have Krister!


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Moving Out

My mom has likened the last year of our lives to a rocket, blasting off in stages and jettisoning cargo at each stage. It's an apt metaphor, I think.

This weekend we're moving out of the apartment and we'll be living on the boat full time, representing the last major stage before we enter orbit. It's an experience that's at the same time stressful and exciting - nerve wracking and cathartic. It's an incredible feeling to get rid of almost everything you own (with the exception of a few items of clothing, surf boards, two guitars and a LOT of boat parts). When I was in college, I had a huge box, and at the end of every school year, I threw everything in it and that was all I owned. I had that box for all four years, and anything that didn't fit had to go. I don't feel like I've spent a whole time acquiring stuff between then and now but that's demonstrably false. When we moved out of the house into the small apartment we're in now, I felt as though we'd gotten rid of EVERYTHING, but there's still a surprisingly large pile.

The time between now and when we leave should prove to be illuminating - even though we won't be sailing, we'll still have to adapt to life in a very small living space (the can of varnish I used to refinish the floor boasted a coverage of 100sq/ft - two coats later, I had extra). Other stuff like how long we can go between refilling the fresh water tanks, pumping out our holding tank and figuring out where we'll put our clothes and should be interesting too.

This is a step I've been thinking about and anticipating for a long time, and it's a bit strange to actually have the time come - it's a not so gentle reminder that the day when we sail out of the Golden Gate and don't come back is coming, and coming... well... pretty damn soon. Exciting and a little scary. I keep reminding myself that I've never really done anything worth doing that wasn't scary before hand (climbing trips, surfing on big days, marriage...).

Anyhow, this is about all that's left in our room:

It's crazy to think that this room will qualify as large in comparison to the boat.

Back to it.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Back In the Water

It's official - Britt-nay is back in the water after getting her bottom painted (is it just me or does that sound a little dirty?).

One of the projects we did while she was out was replacing the seacocks. For you land lubbers, seacocks are basically valves that seal off the holes in the bottom of our boat. Yup - there are holes in the hull... a little scary sounding, but the galley sink has to drain somewhere. The seacocks add a measure of safety in the event that something happens and you need to quickly seal off one of the holes in a hurry.

Anyhow, two of our seacocks were stuck in the open position and needed replacing which is (obviously) much easier to do when the boat's not floating in the water.

I got the new valves installed, but before the boat goes back in the water, you never really know if you did a good job (got everything screwed back together tight enough not to leak).

So, she's floating, and I'm happy to report that she's not leaking either. It turns out that against all odds, I managed to do a reasonably good job and in addition to being pretty and polished, Britiannia is just a little more seaworthy as well.

Her prop's nice and pretty too, isn't it?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Haul-out and improvements

I can't believe it's haul out time! We've been waiting all year- always saying we'd haul out just before we leave. So I guess this means that the time is approaching. We'll be moving aboard at the end of this month, then just a few more projects and we'll be set to depart.
I love my dirty boat and dirty boy!
It was amazing to see Britannia out of the water! She seems so much bigger- and it's fun to see her bottom sides.
Over the weekend Krister and I worked hard to take advantage of being on dry land. Krister replaced two broken thru-haul valves and banged himself up pretty well. While tinkering around with the plumbing he found a few other items that needed to be replaced- he said it was like a game of whack-a-mole. I think he went to the store five or six times but it's all back together and working great now! Special thanks to Tradewinds for all the helpful advice and tools.
Meanwhile I was working on the deck. We bought some really strong acid (On & Off) that whitened the deck like magic! I think it was the same stuff that villains use in super hero comics.
After the deck was finished I went over the topsides, removing old dock rash with acetone, whitening the haul with the acid, and then finishing up by buffing and waxing. With Krister's help she was shiny and clean late Sunday night- too bad it was too dark to appreciate. They started sanding and prepping the bottom for paint this morning. She should be ready to launch some time mid-week.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Information and Itinerary

I just returned from a visit with family and friends in the Midwest. It's the only trip I had planed for the year and it went by quickly and with much success. I had the chance to catch up with family members that I hadn't seen in years. And of course there was an unending list of questions that I said I would try to answer here in our blog... wish me luck :)

Our itinerary is still quiet loose, but to give you some idea of where we will be and when, here goes... We will be departing the Bay Area in the beginning of January 2011. We don't have a set date because it all depends on the weather. From here we'll head south along the coast. Even if the weather isn't terrible, it will still be cold so we plan on heading straight for San Diego. Once we arrive we hope to meet up with family and friends and spend about a week visiting.

Then we'll sail onward into Mexico- clear through immigration and customs in Ensenada and cruise the Baja Peninsula. Krister plans on hitting all the best surf spots while we continue south. We don't have definite stopping points yet, but we do plan to make the most of our travel guides and to meet up with whomever flies down to meet and visit with us.

We'll continue south until the land turns east- around Acapulco and Zihuatanejo, at which point we'll provision the boat and head west. Hurricane season dictates our departure. The South Pacific storm season usually last from late November through mid March. So we'll try to avoid storms and stay in Mexico through April.

After leaving Mexico in April 2011, we'll be on the longest open water passage of our trip; out of sight of land and on our own for four to five weeks crossing the Pacific. Our first landfall will be the Marquesas in French Polynesia. After checking in we'll have a 90 day Visa to visit the islands. We'll island hop through much of the South Pacific, snorkeling, surfing and hiking until the storm season comes around again.

In September of 2011 we'll sail south to New Zealand for the winter and stay for the season. The four month down time may be spent making repairs and improvements on the boat, traveling inland, or trying to earn a bit of cash.

After so many months we'll begin to make our way home in April of 2012. From New Zealand we'll sail north, back through the islands and onward to Hawaii. We're hoping that during the trip we'll have time to consider what we really want, where we really want to live and such, so that we have a plan in place when we return. As for now, we think we'll be back somewhere on the west coast of the U.S sometime in the Fall of 2012.

It just occurred to me that this is the first blog entry with no pictures. So sorry. But I promise there will be some next time. Krister and I are having the boat hauled out for a bottom job tomorrow. We'll have her cleaned, painted and back in the water by next week.

For those of you who are still a bit uncertain of the sea worthiness of Britannia, or would just like more information on our boat, Krister found these great reviews on line.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Summer Stuff

Here's a small sampling of our summer sailing. Thanks to all our friend for sharing time with us on Britnay!

This is George and Molly enjoying a sail on Britannia.

Rafting up with Curt and Allison's Force 5 at China Camp, we all got to enjoy food, drinks and great company.

After a hot sail to Point Pinole, Dustin gave us a reason to use the swim ladder for the first time.
Mark, Amanda and Krister enjoying the sun set over the north bay.

What a great view!

Dustin and Mark at the helm for a little sail practice and instruction.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Staying busy

It's been a while since our last post and I'm not sure where to start, so here's a random list of how we've been keeping busy.

Each time we go out there's something new to learn and experience. A few weeks ago we sailed out of the Golden Gate and into some mixed up big swell. With a shortage of wind and the boat bobbing around I had my first bout with seasickness. The lack of sleep and an insufficient breakfast contributed to my feelings of illness, but all in all it wasn't too bad. I even managed to keep my lunch.

Fortunately for Krister, he a friend to help out and keep him company. With Nick at the helm, the boys sailed to Stinson beach, hove to for lunch and brought us back into the bay just as the sun was setting.

My sister Becky, my niece Ximena and their friend Eric came to visit. We had smooth water and light winds, making our sunset cruise perfect for the first timers.

We finally got our rugs! They look great and make us feel fancy. I also scrubbed the companionway steps, replaced the nonskid, and oiled the wood to make it shine-Oh so pretty.

After our trip thru the fog Krister made it a priority to install our new chart plotter- complete with AIS receiver overlays. Now we will know exactly where we are and more importantly, where those big tankers and fast moving ferries are too!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Anchoring out and sailing in the fog

We've been meaning to spend a night at anchor for a long time - Valentine's Day seemed like a nice excuse to do that, and when I got a call from my friend Nate suggesting that Amanda and I join him and his girlfriend, it seemed like a perfect weekend.

I'm starting to feel fairly familiar with our little part of the Bay, so when we headed out on Sunday afternoon with 10 knots of breeze and unseasonably warm weather, I felt like we were heading into a fun, but pretty mellow outing. And, when I got a call from Nate saying that they'd decided to pick up a mooring ball at Angel Island rather than actually setting an anchor, I was even more convinced that this'd be a breeze, so to speak.

It was late afternoon by the time Amanda and I rafted up with Nate and his girlfriend Liz on the south west side of the mooring cove. The water was calm, and rafting up next to Nate's boat wasn't hard at all - Amanda did a great job at the helm, bringing us perfectly abeam without any excitement. Our only other experience rafting up had been with Curt and Allison, and while that day was still relatively calm, I was surprised by how much more mellow the whole experience was the second time around - just the little chop we'd had that first time made all the difference, and the stillness in the Angel Island cove made dropping the lifelines and walking between boats feel incredibly relaxing compared to doing so in the middle of the Bay.

Nate and Liz made salmon and veggies - we brought appetizers, and before too many glasses of wine, I was feeling like the mellower side of sailing wasn't so bad...

We had a quiet night, and when I crawled out of bed the next morning, it felt dead calm - almost calmer than it usually is when we're in the slip. I opened the companionway, stepped out in the cockpit and saw that we were surrounded by fog in all directions. The boats moored 50 feet away were visible, but only just. The boats I'd remembered seeing the night before 100 feet away had either left early or vanished in the fog. I was pretty sure it was the latter.

Honestly, in retrospect, I think this was probably the point that I should have started worrying, at least just a little... But, we had coffee brewing, eggs on the stove, and the fog brought back memories of driving through Carmel with my mom when I was a boy. It struck me as more beautiful than hazardous.

We finished breakfast and said goodbye to Nate and Liz as we untied from Nate's boat and sorted out who's docklines and fenders were who's. I had the day off (President's Day), but Amanda had to work, and it never occurred to me that we shouldn't leave in time to get her there. I think for some reason I still hadn't really considered what it'd be like to be in the middle of the Bay with 50 feet of visibility.

I did, however, have the presence of mind to turn on the radar, and get out the handheld GPS before we headed out, and as Amanda tried her best to steer a compass course, I split time between staring at the instruments and straining my eyes to try and see much of anything beyond our bow.

The level of confidence that I was putting into our radar hit me full force as we got ready to cross the shipping channel on the east side of the island. I started remembering all the sunny days that we'd had and how much fun it'd been to sail next to that channel and see just how busy it was. The memories were suddenly seeming much less pleasant when I started thinking about how BIG those boats are and how fast they can move.

Then, through the fog we heard a ship's horn.

I should add that the day was dead calm (as it almost always is when it's that foggy), and the sound travels over water incredibly well on a day like that. It felt like what I assumed was an aircraft carrier was bearing down from about 100 yards. We exchanged glances... "this is a little stressful" Amanda pointed out. It was hard to disagree.

It took me a little while to really get the hang of using the instruments. The GPS is set as north up rather than course up - a little oversight that caused me to actually head us into and parallel with the channel rather than perpendicular to it... it also took me a little while to get the hang of the way the images on the radar move when the boat moves (minor course corrections at the helm made it feel like suddenly everything was heading RIGHT FOR US). But, after about 30 minutes, I was starting to feel pretty confident. Amanda was steering us well, and the radar really seemed to work. I was pretty glad that we'd turned it on a few times before on clearer days.

About half a mile away from the Berkeley Pier, the fog lifted enough so that we could make out the boats around us that I'd been spotting on the radar. It was pretty gratifying to realize how accurately I'd been able to read it, and VERY relieving to realize that one of the ships horns we'd been listening to with a little apprehension belonged to a ship that was at least a mile away.

I felt pretty proud of the job we'd done, and pleased at our ability to stay relatively calm in what had become a pretty tense situation. I was also struck by how true it is that we learn a little something (and often a big something) almost EVERY time we head out - even when we're just expecting a mellow trip to Angel Island.

I was also starting to feel just a little bit like we were coming into our own - I now have a pretty strongly held opinion on the importance of radar (at least in the SF Bay), and it's gratifying to have come to that opinion through hands on experience rather than web based research.

Amanda even made it to work on time...

Friday, February 5, 2010

New sails!

Yay! We finally have our sails back! Sunday brought dry weather and light winds- what an opportunity for a quick trip to try out the new sails. We headed south under the Bay bridge, toward the city, passed the ball field and then turned back. I was chilly and still getting over a cough so Krister practiced single handing while I cuddled under a down sleeping bag in the cockpit.
Our new main, so crisp and white, has three reef points, lazy jacks and is made of heavier sail cloth.
Our 135 genoa was refinished with pretty blue edge to protect it from UV rays while furled.
Beautiful! We gain almost 2 knots with the new main- feeling fast and safe.
San Francisco and the Bay Bridge

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Mom and sisters visit Brittnay

We had a couple visitors in January, my mom and older sister Jessica. Our sails weren't back from Doyle yet and it was just as well because a big rain storm hit while they were in town. Not a good time for a sail- California had record rains, even thunder and lightening. It was nice to listen to while we played Boggle and Rummy, drank tea and talked. I was disappointed that they didn't get to enjoy any sunshine hanging out in the cockpit or experience Britannia out on the Bay, but it was great to show them the boat and spend time together below deck.
My big sister Jessica and baby #5 stop by for games and lunch.
All sitting around the newly refinished table enjoying soup and sandwiches.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Weekend Warriors

Krister stopped for a small snack while working on the breaker panel. The end of all the electrical re-wiring is in sight. In distant sight, that is. We have our lights and water pump back and the V-berth is all put back together, so life on the boat is getting more comfortable again.
I've been polishing a lot of brass. It takes longer than you would think, but when the piece you've been working on is all shiny, there's a real sense of satisfaction.
Krister had time this weekend for a surf session over in Half Moon Bay with his buddy Tim and now he's feeling pretty pumped for some warm water surfing. Doesn't the wet suit over the life lines look great?!
Big news on our boat this week was the completion of the canvas work. Water beads and rolls off the dodger like liquid mercury and the windows look so clear- it's like there's nothing there. We also finally had a binnacle cover so Krister's sweat shirt can be used as a shirt again. It's starting to look like a really nice boat :)

Krister and I continue to read and study for the trip. Krister's mom, Lucia, gave us a great travel guide to the South Pacific and a wonderful pressure cooker for Christmas. Both have me very excited for our big trip. As a short practice sail we are planning on cruising out to the Farallones the last weekend in January. We should have all our sails back by then and the electrical work should be finished.