Saturday, October 31, 2009

Dolphins on our Bow

It is now the morning of day 2 (Saturday -- Happy Halloween) (by the way don't expect updates every day)! :)
We finally stopped motor sailing yesterday morning after running engines for about 15 hours. Its good to know they work. We've been sailing ever since and this morning I have the generator running to charge the batteries and to run the water maker. Once I have the water tanks refilled it will be nice to take a shower!
Yesterday we had a few firsts -- we caught our first fish (a bonito) and made fish tacos! and -- we had a school (or is it a pod) of dolphins sailing beside our boat and under the trampoline. If we tried we probably could have reached down and touched them they were that close!
Last night was our second night at sea and things went smoothly. As it is now Saturday morning and we have left over challah I now have to begin making my traditional French toast.
Location wise, we are 240 miles south of San Diego and hope to make it to Turtle Bay tonight. Turtle Bay is just over a third of the way down the Baja. If you are interested in seeing where we are, pull out a map and look for 29 degrees 14 minutes N by 115 degrees 30.8 minutes west.
We all look forward to getting your comments through this blog. Since we don't have any internet connections, commenting on the blog is much better and easier than trying Facebook updates. Facebook and linked in though probably have apps for providing updates by email but I am not aware of them.
More later.....

Friday, October 30, 2009

Barb's First Post

This is my first of what I hope to be many blog posts. Why have I waited so long? First because we have been so incredibly busy preparing for the trip in only 7 weeks. Now I can fully appreciate why most people spend 2-5 years getting ready. In addition, I don't even know where to begin. There is so much to say. And so I'll start right now.

We just completed our first overnight sail after departing San Diego yesterday mid afternoon. Actually, I can't say we sailed overnight since there was no wind and had to motor the entire evening and night. My watches from 9-11 p.m. and then 3-5 a.m. were uneventful and quite enjoyable. Caren and I were on watch together so the time went quickly. I must say that now that we have left the dock, I am finally more relaxed. The best part of the departure was when we passed a dock and someone shouted: "WhatCha Gonna Do: Safe voyage. See you in Mexico". It gave me the chills.

Many have asked exactly why is it that it takes so long to prepare. Michael and I have an excellent division of labor. He has taken over the role of 'tech guy', ensuring the various systems aboard are working and are getting properly repaired or serviced. I started out home schooling the kids although at this point we've missed so many days (one of the sources of my anxiety). Aside from finalizing our affairs on land (paying bills, etc.) my duties included the First Aid, both training and assembling a mega kit for our boat and our 'ditch bag' (what you take with you when you must abandon ship). Another major task has been to provision the boat. It included galley (kitchen) supplies, toiletries, cleaning supplies, storage solutions and organization, and of course food. For anyone who has camped with our family knows that we will be eating well. I prepared stew, bolognese sauce, soups and chili ahead of time, and have a fully stocked pantry for this two week leg to Cabo San Lucas. Challenges for food have included a very limited chest fridge/freezer space as well as limited storage space. We have placed extras under the floor boards. Needless to say, our boat is sitting very low in the water. You can be sure I will insist that the crew eats lots and often.

Another anxiety is how to say goodbye for the year and extend my gratitude for my friends in a meaningful way. I want to thank everyone for coming out to Mitchell Park to say goodbye and everyone who has emailed or wished us well. I still would like to plan to respond to everyone individually as I apparently will have a lot more free time - it's feeling hard to believe. Email will be my lifeline.

As I am writing this, Harrison just caught his first fish on this trip - a bonitta in the tuna family. Mark helped him and then did the filleting. Fish tacos for lunch!!

Will continue more later.

Our First Day Out

So, we finally left San Diego on Thursday at 3 pm. It has been an unbelievable amount of work and running around to get things done. West Marine and the San Diego Marine Exchange are the boat owners Home Depot. If I had not been into one or the other at least once a day it must have been an unproductive day. But, now we are on our way to our first stop, Cabo San Lucas.

It was a little weird not having anyone at the dock to wave goodbye to us but as we headed out of San Diego bay we were greeted by an aircraft carrier coming into SD bay flanked by a couple of helicopters. It I think they planned that just for us. Anyhow, I think our delayed departure was a blessing in disguise as the last few days has seen a ton of wind with big seas and today we have had a very comfortable and calm sail. I am writing this during my 1 am to 3 am watch as I am now on duty for part of the graveyard shift. It is pretty cool -- full moon, clear sky and gentle seas. I can see Orion and its brightest star, Rigel, perfectly.

Earlier, before sunset, we saw two cruise ships pass us a few miles away and were approached by a Mexican coast guard boat who came by, circled to check us out, and then headed off. Wasn't sure if they were going to want to board us or not, were looking for fishing gear or were just kind of board.

Our crew, Karen (who sailed on a 53 foot catamaran with her husband and two kids for five years) and Mark (who crewed with Karen off and on for two years and single handed a trimaran to New Zealand) are working out to be great crew. They are really knowledgeable and easy to have around.

More later.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My First Dinghy Trip

Yesterday I went on our dinghy for the first time and I even got to drive it. I was very happy that I got to drive the dinghy, but I was also nervous. Our friend, Caren, was the person that taught us to drive the dinghy. We went onto San Diego Bay and went full speed. When we went back home, I jumped onto our catamaran and caught the dinghy. I had so much fun!

Catamaran: double-hulled boat
Dinghy: small blown up boat with 8 hp motor

Up The Mast

Yesterday we had all our crew (Caren, Mark and John) down to the boat to help get it ready for the Baja Ha Ha.  Its only 13 days away!  Given that one of the lights on the mast was not working, I took the opportunity to go up the mast in the bosun's chair to fix it.  You get hoisted up using one (or more halyards) and sit/climb up in the chair.  It gives you a whole new perspective on your boat.  Danielle and Harrison were very excited about going up the mast as well -- I think they have found a new activity in lieu of rock climbing -- given their weight and size its an easy hoist up.

Yesterday we also went out to do some sailing and practiced our tacks and flying the spinnaker.  The spinnaker is run through a "sock" so you hoist it in the sock and than raise the sock -- that way it is much more controlled.

Earlier in the day we saw a aircraft carrier depart San Diego Bay and while we were out sailing we also saw a few whales in the distance.

Today ... more work on the boat and anchor drills.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A New Beginning

I'm beginning to feel at home in this new space. We have two more weeks until we set sail on the Baja Ha Ha. I'm so excited! I'm sure we'll meet lots of people and see many amazing sites. I know I'll miss things in the Bay Area, but I'll also be able to see many amazing things that most kids don't get to see.

Home-schooling is bringing many opportunities. If you need a longer day then you have it. If you work quickly than you're done by noon. Since you can have a short day, you can do two days in one (if you're up for it). I'm excited to see the adventures we'll have home-schooling!

Today someone came onto our boat for a private class on first aid. We learned how to save someone when they're drowning, do CPR, and take care of fractures and breaks. I became CPR certified!

I'm excited to take on the challenges of sailing. I know it'll be a great experience!

School On A Boat, San Diego

Have you ever done 3rd grade on a boat? Well I have, on WhatCha Gonna Do, our cruising catamaran sailboat. On the first day, I was nervous because I didn't have my friends. After awhile, it got better. I get a short day and to be with my mom. My favorite subject is science. School on a boat is great so far!

Monday, October 5, 2009


Well, we have pretty much moved into (onto) Whatcha Gonna Do, our 46 foot Fountaine Pajot Bahia Catamaran. We've decided to take our kids out of school for the year and rather than look for a job (in this fun market) to spend a year sailing in Mexico and possibly Central America. The last few months have been very chaotic -- in one week alone, we went firm on buying our boat, became US citizens, signed a consulting agreement, signed a lease on our house and moved! Boy will we need time to recover, but alas, not right now. We have much planning and preperation to do before we can depart on October 26th on the Baja Ha Ha, a cruisers rally which takes about 200 boats from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas. From there we will head up into the Sea of Cortez.

Last week our boat was hauled out of the water to have the sail drives serviced and to have a ground plate put in (for a Single Sideband Radio). We lived on the boat "on the hard" and that was quite an experience.

Barb, Danielle and Harrison have all been settling well to our new home and we are all adjusting to home schooling. Friday night we had our first dinner on the boat and enjoyed excellent, home made, challah.