Category Archives: Planning

The Goodbyes are Over and We’re on Our Way


I haven’t yet determined when the next chapter actually begins; leaving California, leaving Washington or leaving North Carolina. What I do know is that today marks the first day Diana and I are out on our own in uncharted territory.

The last two weeks have been a blur of packing, preparing and most importantly farewells. Emotions have been swinging back and forth between total excitement and a fair amount of sadness. Diana and I had great send offs from work, cake, gifts and many heart felt discussions; we are truly blessed to work with such great folks and find immense comfort knowing that someday we will return. Dinners with friends have been great and happy occasions for the fact that many will be coming out to visit with us in the not so distant future.

The most difficult goodbye has been our neighbor Tom. Diana and I, well mostly me, have developed a very close relationship with our elderly neighbor that lives alone across the street. I’ve grown accustom to coming home, walking across the street and talking to Tom about work, history, family or any other topic; he frequently joins us for dinner and is just a constant presence in the neighborhood. Since Tom does not have a computer, nor does he know how to use the internet I have committed to send him hand written letters and make the occasional phone call. So let me point out the moral of my life lesson; you know that single elderly man or woman in your neighborhood?. . . reach out, you may make one of the most meaningful connections of your life.

Alright, enough of feeling sad; Diana and I drove up to Seattle on Friday, April 12th. We had the truck packed to the gills and towed my old Nissan which made the well used Budget truck work pretty darn hard , it took us 15.5 hours which normally takes close to 12.

After trying to sleep in after a 15+ hour drive we had to unpack the truck and get ready for the entire family to descend on my mother’s house. It was a great Saturday; grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all came by to wish us good luck. The bizarre thing about this gathering was that everyone got along! I’m not sure what was going on with the stars this past week, but the regular family arguments never developed. I also got to reconnect with my cousin Nathan whom I haven’t seen in probably 15 years, that was a lot of fun and I hope to rekindle that relationship.

Sunday was spent watching McKenna mop up the competition at her dirtbike race. I was hoping to see her soar off of jumps, but the race we watched went through the woods and did not have the motocross type jumps I was hoping for. After the award ceremony where she got her 1st place trophy we were able to enjoy special Washington style Mexican food with Shannon, Blake and Amber. . . Sooo good! Where else can you get enchilada sauce and cheddar cheese??

We waited out a few extra days due to crappy weather east of Seattle that allowed us to spend a bit more time with friends and family as well as deal with bank and insurance tasks.

Today’s drive was fairly uneventful. We left my mother’s house in Maple Valley at about 6:20am and got into Bozeman MT at about 6:00pm MDT. The truck ran great, we saw some amazing scenery and just powered through. I think Diana took some cool pictures that I’ll post along with some others from the past few days when I get some more time and energy.

We’re both super excited to be on our way!

Cat’s out of the bag!

Today we told our team’s at work we are going on a 2 year leave of absence.  All day leading up to it I was nervous and shaking, not because I was scared of what they were going to say but because now it’s even more real.  No turning back anymore!  But that’s okay…  I think it’s good to be scared about it because it’s going to be a challenge.  I’m excited and terrified at the same time, but that’s how I know we’re doing the right thing!  Everyone at work was happy for us and I appreciate the support they showed.  We’re leaving a great group of people and I hope they will let us return when our voyage is over in 2 years.  For the next 3 months we will be working hard to turn over assignments at work and complete our extensive list of todo items.  Then we’re off to places unknown.  I guess we’ll figure that part out when we get there…

It’s Official – We Told work!!!

We have executed a “Go/No Go” decision over the holidays with a clear vote for “Go”.  Now we need to tell our managers that we are leaving for a 2 year sailing trip in less than 90 days!

We have done a lot of thinking on making sure we don’t burn any bridges so we are both welcome to come back to our current company when our voyage is over.  It was quite a relief to the both of us that our managers were supportive of our dreams; not only did they say a 2 year sabbatical was okay, but they want to ensure we stay in contact so we can be placed in good positions upon our return.

So no, we didn’t state the words sung by the late Johnny Paycheck; my woman hasn’t left and my boss ain’t no fool.  Though no matter how great of place you work, I think we all fantasize about bursting out those words every once in a while. . .

Holidays in Beaufort

We decided to take a long weekend trip out to Beaufort to visit Ryana, talk with the boat yard about needed work and play tourist for the weekend. As usual our trips to the East Coast are on redeyes so we arrived a bit tired, got our rental car in New Bern and drove the hour drive to Beaufort, stopping for Mexican food along the way.

We stayed at the Beaufort Inn which is nice enough and is walking distance to town for shopping and eating. We got an early check in and managed a decent nap before exploring. We ventured out looking at all the historic homes all decorated for the holidays, that we’ll get to see more of later when we take part in the Candlelight tour.

Our first stop of interest was the Old Burying Ground that dates back to the 1730’s, you pick up a brochure and follow a self lead itinerary discussing dead people of interest. A bit strange, I wonder if all the other folks that aren’t mentioned in the brochure are a bit jealous of never getting attention. Anyway we saw the guy that was lost at sea only to return to have his wife remarried to another man, many war heros from both Revolutionary and Civil wars and the girl buried in a rum barrel. We also got to hear about all of the town’s hauntings from the guy that leads the ghost walks, he just happened to be strolling the cemetery with his wife. He had a few good stories, enough to make the hair on the back of my neck stand on end and for Diana not to want to walk the town at night. That was about it for Thursday besides an early dinner.

Friday was our day to play tourist, no agenda. After breakfast at the Beaufort Inn we wandered town in a mild drizzle where all the shops were closing out all their merchandise for the 2013 year. It seams most shops close in January and completely reset their inventory, not sure I’ve seen this before, but it’s the low season and it’s always nice to have the luxury of a reset. The thing I really did not want to miss was the Beaufort Maritime Museum. . . Blackbeard!!!! Not sure if you are familiar but it is thought that Blackbeard scuttled his flagship the “Queen Anne’s Revenge” just outside of the Beaufort channel, and the museum has some great exhibits showing the artifacts that have been recovered from the wreck site; how awesome is that? We had dinner at the Blue Moon Bistro which was great, both service and food. We stopped by the Backstreet Pub, the beer was good and it was as musty as ever.

On Saturday we were supposed to meet up with a guy from Jarrett Bay to take him out to hear the squeaks on Ryana, but he was too busy working on another job so we took her out on our own since we had nothing else on our agenda. Well it’s said that there are two kinds of sailors, those that have run aground and those that are liars, I’m not a liar . . . won’t get into the details, but the major lesson learned is to have both captain and admiral review charts prior to weighing anchor and both agree on a course. No harm no foul, we backed off with no issue. Made the bascle bridge and headed out the inlet for about 5 miles then returned. We had tickets to the Candlelight Tour which started at 5 so really wanted to get back. I was able to sweet talk the bridge operator to open 2 minutes late so we didn’t have to wait another 30 minutes for another opening. We cruised back to Jarrett Bay with time to spare for a shower before the tour was to begin.

The Candlelight Tour is essentially an open house of many of the historic homes and inns in Beaufort. All this is quite interesting to us being on the West Coast where historic is anything over 75 year old. Many of these building date back to the early 18th century. All the hosts and hostess were very friendly and were quick to answer any questions around the structures themselves, past owners and general history of the town. It was a pretty cool evening.

Sunday we finally got to meet our project manager Steven at Jarrett Bay. Seems like a really nice guy and went over the warranty items we’d like them to repair along with the modifications we want to make before heading out on our trip; raising the davits, upgrade the counter, add a new through hull for the watermaker, increase the life lines so Stanley can’t fall out and a few others. Jarrett Bay seems like a great yard, but may be a bit too expensive to have them execute the changes we want. No big deal as we can decide later to do it ourselves or have another yard do it.

Back home to California bid a farewell to Ryana and we’ll see her again in a few months.


Prepping to Head North

Friday Sept 7

Three of us arrived blurry eyed from the overnight flight from SFO, but ready to get started prepping ourselves and the boat for the journey north.  First on the agenda was to find a place to stay, initially I thought it would be easier to stay in a hotel for a few nights as the boat may be in complete disarray.  Instead we followed Jack’s lead to stay on the boat at a hotel Marina, Jack has a lot of personal knowledge of Fort Lauderdale so we let him make the decision on location and make the arrangements at the Fort Lauderdale Hilton Marina, which was an great choice, much closer to the places we needed to be driving to and from as well as close to cocktails.  We got the boat moved over from the private dock it sat at since June and secured ourselves behind some of the many mega yachts that make our proud ship look a bit small.  The afternoon began the beginning of significant credit card exercise at West Marine.

Saturday Sept 8

Our 4th crew member, Cynthia, arrived in time for our shakedown cruise which also included Jack’s friend Alan.  More eyes the better to find any issues with the boat before we head out to sea.  We spent a good portion of the day enjoying the fresh breeze and putting Ryana through her paces.  No significant issues were found except a few lose shackles that were tightened up.  We returned to the Hilton Marina said farewell to Alan and wandered back to West Marine as well as the grocery for provisioning.  We packed the Escalade to the gills which showed it just wasn’t frivolous upgrade, we needed the space, I’m a bit upset I didn’t get a picture.

The evening was met with lively conversation as we met up with Cynthia’s cousins and Jack’s brother and sister-in-law for dinner at the Raw bar (one of Jack’s old haunts).  After a number of rounds and many individual sea creatures consumed it was back to the boat to get some good rest before our watch schedule would begin.

Lots of Manuals

So here is  a picture of all of our manuals so far, we’ve both read them cover to cover J/K.  So I need to figure out a filing system to easily retrieve as needed but I’m also going to download the PDFs and store on my iPad and likely the wiki.

Work . . .

Time for chores!!! I mentioned a list of things I wanted to get done before leaving, well this list even grew as I awoke a number of times adding things I didn’t want to forget.  Today we’ll spend the day washing and waxing.  The gel coat is nice and shiny and I want it to stay that way, to do so we had to apply UV protection.   I’ve done a bit of research on what type of wax is best to use and got a number of answers so I went with what I know and it’s cheap and easy.  NuFinish . . . the once a year car polish.  It isn’t wax based so the intense heat and sun does not cause it to melt off as carnuba would, next time we’ll try something else maybe Fleetwax 885.

We got the full enclosure up which will be awesome in cooler climates.  I’d like to see if we could get a canvas store to make us some screens to use for keeping out bugs, or maybe we’ll just get a sewing machine?!

Did I mention it’s hot???  It is so hot, no one on the West Coast can ever complain how hot it gets, the sun w/ humidity create oppressive conditions that is just insane.  In these working conditions we managed to wash and wax the entire boat.  I’ll complain some more . . . Did I mention this thing is big??  It’s like waxing two 40ft boats, maybe more when counting how big the bridge deck is.  Well we didn’t buff to a mirror finish, but got enough on that it should protect it for a few months.  On our second day of waxing we only had the morning as our flight was scheduled for 7pm.  Just able to finish and scrub the decks down with a PTEF to protect it from staining.  I also wanted to try out the $1000 outboard stand on the boat, yes it was that much and no we wouldn’t have ordered it ourselves.  One of the few things that went right the first time was lifting the outboard with the spinnaker halyard and getting it on the bracket w/ no fuss.  It worked great and is now securely locked and covered taking a bit of strain off the davits when we’re gone.

On Our Own

So today we decided we need to take her out ourselves, we have sailed 50+ft monohulls before without any difficulty, but for some reason a 23+ foot beam is more intimidating.  Oh plus she is new and ours. . .

We fired up the engines, took time to talk about our dock exit and eventually released the lines.  I was able to spin her around in her own length and point her down the channel, first success!!  As we motored to the first bridge we realized we’d be quite early for the opening as they open every 30 minutes thought at varying intervals and we have 15 minutes to stand by.  It was good practice keeping the boat stationary against the wind and tide, twin engines are great!  After we cleared the first bridge we made it to the second w/ little incident, made request and it went up not long after arriving.

Well on the way to the last bridge before the inlet I got a bit lost.  Yep, with paper and electronic charts I made a wrong turn, mostly because I was following the guy in front of me who also requested clearance to the bridge we were in route to.  Not sure where he was going, but it wasn’t towards the 17th Street bridge.  I opened up those Yanmars and tried to make it for the scheduled opening, but was about 2 minutes short.  The bridge operator saw us coming and just couldn’t block traffic for that long.  More time to practice boat handling!

After waiting 30 minutes the bridge opened and we were off to sail the Atlantic.  We motored out to the last buoy and pointed her up to hoist the main.  After a few catches on the lazy jacks we had it up w/ one reef in which I didn’t think was necessary in 15-20knots of wind, but it made the wife calmer for the time being.  After bearing off we picked up a little speed and unfurled the genoa.  We didn’t make as good speed as we did on Thursday, but spent a lot of time playing with the sail trim and learning when speed fell off as we pointed higher and higher.

After sailing for about 2 hours we decided to come in and try our luck at the fuel dock.  At the time of arrival the current was conflicting with the breeze and I not yet familiar enough w/ the boat to understand which has more power.  I quickly changed my mind on what side we would come to and had to move the fenders.  I got a spot at the end of the floating dock and that was pretty uneventful, but then was told I had to move to accommodate a 120ft motor yacht.  Now with the difficult conditions I had to dock against pilings???  Palms sweaty and a large audience on the deck eating lunch, damn okay.  We released the lines and moved forward, thinking we could nose in, secure the bow line and then back down to bring the stern in.  Well it sorta worked, thought the bow line was not taught so we swung back aways, came back and nudged a piling.  No damage that a magic eraser couldn’t take care of.  Next time we’ll try using a line amidships . . .

So with full tanks we wanted to try out our ground tackle.  A 44lb Delta that will likely become our secondary anchor after I choose something a bit larger.  We made our way over to Lake Sylvia and it gets quite shallow!  Bounced a few times off the bottom, but made it through the channel and found about 10 other cruising boats, mostly catamarans, anchored out.  After setting the anchor we watched a boat filming the use of a water jet pack contraption that was later cited by the cops, entertaining.

Now that it was getting late in the day, we pulled in the hook and made our way back to our dock.  With no current and little wind it was quite simple to gently put her along side of the pilings w/ fenders already placed.  After some moving for and aft we secured her and headed back to our room for the night.

Flying Brand New Sails

Finally got her out and it was awesome!!!  Our broker hired a great young captain to help bring her out for the day, so the four of us motored out of the ICW into the Atlantic.  It was my first time operating twin screws so far apart, it’ll take some time getting used to but talk about maneuverability!

Even with electric winches getting that big square main sail up take some work, also the lazy jacks are quite narrow so I’ll probably be moving them off the mast to the spreaders.  Once the sails were up we beared off and boy she moves great on a reach, but I suppose all catamarans do.  On a close reach we were averaging about 8 knots in about 18 knots of wind.  Sails are only hosted once for the first time, so it was kinda cool to know we were the first to actually sail her.  After executing a few tacks and taking turns at the helm we turned back for the inlet and motored back up the ICW.  The dock space we secured requires 3 bridge openings, once you time the first bridge you can make it to the others be averaging about 6.5 knots down the ICW.

Docking against pilings rather than floating docks makes me quite nervous.  You have to align your fenders just right or you’ll be riding against the piling.  Oh did I mention a Lagoon 400 does not have rub rail?  It looks great now, I just hope my docking skills continue to improve so it continues to look good.  I brought the boat in quite well with instruction from the captain and we spent about 15 minutes figuring how to secure her to the dock.

All in all a long great day, I think we smiled for the rest of the evening

Frustration, but No Rage Fit

The big day, she’ll be sailed for the first time, we’re both really excited.  Well that’s how the day started got to the boat and of course it was still filthy.  As soon as the tech arrived who was to walk us through all the systems I think he got the message that I was absolutely pissed about the condition of the boat.  You spend this much money and you can’t even deliver it clean?????  He got on the phone and they had someone sent out immediately to give her a scrub down.

With the guy outside scrubbing the deck we began to learn about the various systems on Ryana.  Coming from a very simple boat; both in regards to rigging and systems we have a bunch to learn.  We spent a few hours crawling around bilges, opening access panels and reviewing the electrical and plumbing systems.

It was clear how unorganized this company is as they did not even have a captain ready to take us out though it was scheduled well over a month ago so our broker decided he could take us out but wanted to show us the dock we had reserved for Ryana for the next few months.  We arrived at this beautiful Mediterranean style villa w/ horrendous music playing over the pool and an old shirtless man that made me slightly uncomfortable, but once I saw the dock I was pissed.  Two feet of water???  Our broker continued to mumble how they had much larger boats there and it won’t be a problem, sorry unacceptable our new boat will not be sitting on the bottom during low tide.  He took us  to a few others that were also too shallow and one were the pilings have been eroded to toothpicks.  Eventually we found a very secure space behind modest home on a wide canal, the owners are also very nice.

After driving around Fort Lauderdale for 3 hours looking at docks it was too late to go for a sail, try again tomorrow.