Saturday, December 31, 2011

Flashback to Mazatlan....

Current Location: La Cruz, Mexico

Here we sit aboard our boat enjoying the delights of the season…and 80 degree weather! It took me a while to get into the Christmas spirit without the routine of our usual traditions and cool weather. However, as we pulled into La Cruz (also known as Huanacaxtle - 20 miles north of Puerto Vallarta), we were able to put up our little Christmas tree and lights, which helped kick off our holiday celebrations.

As usual I am not current on my entries so here comes another time travel blog…taking you back a couple weeks to time spent in Mazatlan. Now imagine hearing the flashback song from Wayne’s World…dooooo-doooooo-doooooo-dooooo……

December 16-18:
Last I mentioned we were pulling into Mazatlan after crossing the Sea of Cortez. Our plan was to pull in for the night, shower, fill up with diesel and water, and then be on our merry way. Difficulties arose as we made our way into the Mazatlan harbor. Our transmission which had been previously giving us some trouble, decided to throw another little snit. Getting it into and out of gear became challenging and if it did finally slip into gear, there was a lack of thrust from the prop (are you impressed with my technical talk…Ben thinks it’s hot!). Simply put, it was a crap shoot to see if the boat would go where we wanted it to while under motor. Not a problem while on the open water, but definitely an issue when trying to maneuver into the tight entry of Mazatlan harbor. As usual, Ben was unflappable and went to his standard line of, “worst comes to worst, we’ll sail it in!”

We decided to stay at Marina El Cid, calling ahead so we could go directly to our slip. As we maneuvered past the breakwater and into the narrow entry of the harbor, we willed our transmission to cooperate. Ben did a drive by of our slip and as we slowly turned around to make our way back, we had no thrust from the prop…aka…we lost the ability to maneuver. Unfortunately, just as this occurred, we observed a large charter power boat barreling down the channel directly at us.

In Mexico I don’t think there is a 5 mph wake rule and if there is the locals interpret it as a 20 mph. I quickly hopped up on the stern and started signaling by waving my hands, trying to communicate that we were unable to turn. I’m not sure if I can fully express the helpless feeling this conjured up! Floating in the channel of the marina, with vessels entering, docks/boats on one side and rocky terrain on the other. I was ready to pounce and fend off wherever the collision would occur. Fortunately, just as I was strategizing how to do this, the prop engaged and we were able to avoid any incident.

As we maneuvered into our slip (where I actually jumped onto the boat next to us to fend off), we were greeted by Tom from Camelot. He helped us with our dock lines and gave us a quick rundown of Mazatlan, the most important tidbit was that happy hour had begun at the pool. After patting ourselves on the back for once again making it safely into port, we did what every responsible sailor would do……we ventured off to have a cheap beer and forget about our boat problems for a while.

After enjoying some libations.....the head scratching began.

This is where Ben pulls apart things and sits in the cockpit for hours on end, wondering where the problem lies. This is not a metaphorical thing, he literally scratches his head during this process (and other things I’m sure, but that’s life on a Floating Frat House). I won’t bore you with the mechanical details…guys, look for Ben’s post on the technical update later…but we planned to stay one night and head out for Puerto Vallarta. As with any sailing adventure, plans change (we are currently on Plan W) and we stayed for four days. One of the many lessons I have learned during this odyssey is to be flexible and when plans change it’s not the end of the world. It's usually quite the opposite, great things tend to happen!

Turns out Marina El Cid was the equivalent of Disneyland for our crew members, J.P. and Mickey. With pools complete with waterfalls, caves and swim up bars (well, the latter was for me), they were in hog heaven! Throw in the miniature golf course, shuffleboard, ping pong and the exotic iguanas by the pool, they had reached Nirvana! As Mickey so aptly put it, “I’m glad our engine is broken, we can stay here for a while!”

As for myself, I spent time in the spa getting a much needed pedicure and haircut. I think I actually heard the woman audibly gasp as I took out my ponytail holder! Ben passed the time tackling the puzzle of diesel engines and folding props. It was truly a place where there was a bit of heaven for all of us!!!

During our stay we spent several hours soaking in the enormous hot tub, meeting new people. J.P. recently informed us that he found it annoying when we stopped to talk to adults and spent a long time in conversations…it was boring. Ben suggested that he was always welcome to participate and it was a great opportunity to learn new things since we were meeting people from all walks of life.

J.P. accepted this new challenge during one of our marathon hot tub soaks. We happened to meet a vacationing older couple from Iowa whose children were grown. They asked us all about our sailing trip and we learned about life on their farm in the Midwest. J.P. was listening intently and inquired about what they grew. Their reply tickled him, “Soy.”

He excitedly turned to me and said, “That’s a good thing to grow since I am allergic to dairy!!”

Another five minutes passed and when the conversation didn’t turn to Star Wars or farting, he swam away to practice his snorkeling skills at the other end of the hot tub. But alas, Ben and I were happy to see that our seven year old was taking an interest in other people’s experiences and learning something new about life.

Next up: The decision to pull out of Mazatlan with a cranky transmission and our sail to La Cruz, Mexico (Puerto Vallarta).

Happy New Year!


Boys trip into town....somehow Ben convinced the concierge of the hotel to let them see the newly constructed penthouse suite. To quote J.P. "this is definitely a bachelor pad!"

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!!

Star Wars books from Santa!

J.P. knitted a scarf for his teddy bear's, John's Christmas present. Auntie Colleen taught him how to knit while she visited!

Mickey's letter to Santa:

"Dear Mr. C,
If you want more milk, it's in the frige. Sorry abot the carits."

Cookies and milk for Santa in the cockpit.

Christmas carolers came to visit us!

Christmas carolers were treated to a visit from Santa in our V-berth hatch.

Sunset Christmas snow in sight! I'm dreamin' of an Orane Christmas.

My sister, Colleen came to visit for Christmas!! Yeah!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sea of Cortez - Part 2

Present time: In La Cruz, Mexico (20 miles north of Puerto Vallarta). Settling in and getting ready for Christmas in warm weather. My sister, Colleen will join us here to celebrate so we are all excited to have family here for the holidays, although we will miss the large family gathering at home. Now a flashback to last week…

Sail across Sea of Cortez – Part 2 (December 16 - 18)

I digress in mentioning that we were itching to get out of La Paz, although I really enjoyed it there. The weather had turned colder and I am happy to report that I was looking forward to getting out on the water again…..hmmmm I must be catching the sailing bug! The comfort of a marina is nice, but as a friend commented about her desire to get moving, “it’s kind of like living in an apartment”. In contrast, being out on the water is like living on a huge parcel of land, the amount of human interaction is decided by you and the vast, wide open space is refreshing and relaxing.

I also forgot to mention on the way out of La Paz, we stopped to search for the whale sharks that inhabit the bay there. They are docile, huge creatures and people swim with them with no incident. Their enormous mouths and imposing size are fascinating and intimidating at the same time. My pictures don’t do them justice and we were ecstatic as they bobbed in the water alongside our boat. Just another perk of having an RV on the sea and living on the ocean!

After anchoring in Los Muertos for a night, we set out across the Sea of Cortez for an overnight sail (36 hours). Captain Ben pulled out at 3:00 a.m. so we could reach Mazatlan during daylight hours. The remaining crew slept down below until about 8:00 a.m., when I relieved him of his duties so he could get some sleep. After doing several days/nights at sea, an overnight sail has become much easier for me and not such a big deal. There are times when I even enjoy it….like when there’s a full moon and spy a huge pod of dolphins headed my way!

The sail was uneventful barring a couple of technical difficulties. Our first few hours were calm with waters smooth enough to water ski on. Not the best conditions for a boat powered by wind, but we enjoyed a peaceful morning of motoring. Around this time, we caught our first fish of the trip using our new hand fishing line. Ben dragged in the Dorado carefully and called for me to grab some alcohol so he could subdue the fish before bringing him on board. I quickly offered up his bottle of Glenlivett which he declined and asked for something more along the lines of “rot-gut” booze. I hurriedly surveyed our liquor stash….Patron-no!....Port-no!....beloved and hard to find red wine in Mexico…no!

I’m proud to report I couldn’t find any rot-gut booze aboard (storage space is valuable…can’t waste it on that junk) so I handed him a bottle of Sky vodka (high end rot-gut?). The three foot tuna was subdued enough to pull him on board where Ben quickly went about gutting the fish. This was met with mixed reviews by the crew members. “Vegetarian”, J.P., went down below, proclaiming it “sad” that the fish died. “Scientist” Mickey observed with a curious eye as the Dorado’s bright green and blue hue started to turn black as he gasped his last breath. “Always Hungry” Molly just daydreamed about the sushi and barbecued Ahi as Captain Ben carved up tuna steaks for lunch. In the spirit of the Native American studies we are covering in home schooling, we also offered up thanks and respect for the fish for providing us with food (although I have to admit, I was a little sad for the guy).

We happened to be “buddy boating” with two other friends over to Mazatlan. This is not unlike caravanning on a road trip in cars. We all left the Los Muertos anchorage at the same time (3:00 a.m.), so we sailed across the Sea of Cortez together. As is the tradition, we radioed them on our VHF to inform them of our catch and promptly offered to share our bounty. About an hour later as the wind kicked up, we approached our single handing friend, Rob on ‘Wings of the Dawn’ and tossed over some fresh tuna. Swab Mickey was sent up to the bow of our boat to throw over the bag, and as we approached Rob put out his boat hook. With the increasing winds and building seas, Ben produced some quality maneuvering and we were able to poke the bag onto the hook. Rob later reported via radio, that the tuna was an excellent dinner and fueled him for the long sail ahead.

Soon the waters became choppy with the wind coming out of the east and we were beating into it. The swell patterns were coming from east, north and south (perhaps we angered the fish gods who are allies with the ocean gods). When swells are coming out of different directions like this, it makes for an uncomfortable and bouncy ride for our little boat. The boys are troopers during these long sails and have learned how to pass the time and entertain themselves quite well. One game that we play together while underway has been “how well do you know your family?” (We have modified it from a book I have onboard, ‘How Well Do You Know Your Husband?’).
Questions like:

*Has he ever shot a bow and arrow?
* If you gave him money to buy something at the store, would he give you the change?
* What would is his idea of a fun evening?

Much like the silly tradition of reading Chinese fortune cookies and finishing it with “between the sheets”, I’m concerned to report that our answers for Ben ended with…..”while drinking beer”. Not so bad when you consider the last two questions, but quite disconcerting while answering the “bow and arrow” inquiry.

As we passed the time with conversation, games, and Nintendo DS, a few hours later the wind died again. However, the swells continued, so we began to motor sail. Ben was feeling tired from getting up at 3:00 a.m., so I took the first watch around 8:00pm. As I puttered along checking our course and gauges, the engine suddenly revved down in RPMs (perhaps the fish gods also are friends with the diesel engine gods). It didn’t take long for Ben to quickly hop out of bed to inquire, “Did you do that?” Honestly, this guy never moved that fast when we had newborns screaming for a midnight feeding.

Unfortunately, the answer was “no” so Ben started checking the fuel filters and other engine functions for any sign of trouble. Everything seemed on the up and up so he returned to his bunk to get some shut eye, proclaiming it to be an anomaly. A half an hour later, the same problem occurred. So here we were, smack dab in the middle of the Sea of Cortez, a hundred miles offshore confronted with engine trouble.

During these stressful times, I often look for information as a coping mechanism, so Ben obliged me and sat in the cockpit giving me a quick rundown on what the problem could be. Air bubble in the fuel line, sediment in the diesel, filters clogged…they were all options and not good ones from my perspective. Ben’s philosophy was quite different. We have a sailboat and it’s meant to sail, not motor, so that’s what we would do. It may take us longer to get there, but we had a good weather window and all was well in his book. I have been with him many times as he sailed a boat into the slip “just for fun”, so I knew he was capable of maneuvering us anywhere without an engine.

Ben blew out the fuel line just in case there was gunk clogging it (this is the extent of my engine vocabulary), but he was disappointed when it didn’t produce a dislodged clog. I guess it was meant to be, because just then the wind picked up so we hoisted the sails and off we went. Going seven knots without the annoying thumping in the engine was wonderful. Ben went down below to catch up on sleep and I remained on deck for the next few hours, which were uneventful except for the beautiful moon and the neighborhood dolphins again stopping for a visit.

At 11:00 p.m., Ben took over and I went down below for a snooze. Being the gracious Captain he is, I was afforded a whole five hours of sleep while he stood watch. If you’ve ever had a newborn baby as a roommate and awoke every two to three hours to feed it, you know how much of a treat it is to sleep for an extended amount of time. Most of my life, I have been a restless sleeper, usually awakening every couple of hours, lying awake…worrying about something….and then after solving the world’s problems, falling back to sleep. I’m amazed at how living on a boat has changed and improved my sleep patterns. When my head hits the pillow, I am out. In addition I can sleep through a heeled over or rocking boat, and a diesel engine banging away in my ear.

As it is with sailing overnight distances, the memories of engine trouble dissipated as we neared our destination. An hour outside of Mazatlan, we spotted whales spouting off our starboard side and went to investigate. We were able to watch as a mama whale and her baby cruised through the waters, spouting and diving deep. As we turned back towards Mazatlan, we were treated with flying Manta Rays so far out of the water, I first mistook them for birds. Next up was a gi-normous sea turtle floating on the surface. I was amazed at how close he allowed us to get, when we noticed his was foot was caught and tangled on a plastic bag. Our attempts to free him were thwarted, when he dove deep and never resurfaced again (those hundred old beings can be so stubborn sometimes!).

After acknowledging our wildlife-sighting karma, we headed into Mazatlan (maybe the fish gods don’t communicate with the ray, whale and turtle gods!). Mickey was given the task of reviewing the charts and leading us past the breakwater to our destination. He did an outstanding job, using binoculars, charts and intuition to get us to our marina slip safely around 3:00 p.m. Crew and Captain were rewarded with a lovely resort with two pools, restaurants and Happy Hour!!! But more on that later…..

Cheers and Merry Christmas to all!!

P.S. If you would like an on-line Christmas card w/ photos from our trip, forward your e-mail and we’ll send you one!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

On the Move Again!

As I write this, we are 25 miles offshore in the Sea of Cortez, nearing the end of a 190 mile trip from Baja to the mainland of Mexico. Hopefully the weather is a bit warmer since La Paz had turned chilly (70 degrees). I love the old saying, “We have cheated death once again!!”, which is often heard amongst the fleet after a long overnight or several day/week passage.

First, we left La Paz and sailed 50 miles south to an anchorage called Los Muertos (The Dead)….yes, this concerned me a bit too, but I was comforted by reading in one of our chart books:

“the word ‘muertos’ refers to buried anchors used in the early 1900’s by barges that loaded ore from the stone wharf in the east end of the bay.”


I have taken on the role of “researcher” as we pull into different anchorages, in addition to “navigator” which requires charting our course (“What the heck does Ben do?” you may ask….let it be noted that he is currently snoring and drooling down below). I’ve always had a love of maps and travel books so I enjoy these roles and they suit me well. This is despite the fact many of my family and friends are gasping with concern as they read this, due to my talent of getting lost and my sense of direction handicap. I inherited this from my mother with whom I spent hours wandering the streets of unfamiliar places in our old station wagon. The familiar exchange of, “Hey, mom are we lost again?” and her reply of, “Yep, but we’ll get there eventually!” still makes me smile. Not only was her attitude towards her directional ineptness comforting, but it usually let to some unplanned adventure or new sight to see.

Take heart in the fact that we use our GPS units as main sources of navigation, but I plot our course on charts as a back up in case of technology failure. We also have a sextant on board (an old tool used to navigate by the stars), but Captain and crew don’t know how to use it, therefore, it has been relegated to the Lego pile and is currently used as a Star Wars fighter ship.

We have fallen into the routine of me reading aloud the anchorage description from our chart books, as we approach our destination. It usually reads something like this (from Charlie’s Charts):

“a number of scattered rocks lie off the point of land forming the eastern boundary of the cove. They should be given a wide berth when entering or leaving the bay…..Anchorage is at the head of the bay, away from the wharf and store, in 4 to 6 fathoms.”

At the helm, Captain Ben pretends to listen intently, occasionally nodding in ascent at the wealth of information I spew, then pulls in and does whatever the hell he wants. Fortunately, this contrast in approaches suits us well. Ben driven by instinct and experience while I compensate for my “greenhorn” status by absorbing any information I can. In the beginning we would banter back and forth while dropping the anchor and it would go something like this:

Molly: “But the chart book says over there is the best and more well protected anchorage.”

Ben: “Uh-huh, but the wind is coming out of the north. Not a normal pattern and this location with the current swell pattern….blah-blah-blah….wah-wah-wah…”

About this time, my eyes glaze over as I start to hear Charlie Brown’s teacher’s voice, and as a result I reluctantly concede my position. It pains me to write this, but Ben is usually (ok…so far….always) right.

As we pulled into Los Muertos our routine played out once again and we dropped anchor. This entails Ben on the bow, manning the anchor with me at the back of the boat driving. We have improved upon this process by placing a younger crew member in the middle to relay communication between the two of us. With the wind howling at the bow and the engine booming in the rear, it’s often difficult to hear each other. Just as we finished, another boat pulled in with a middle aged couple on board and they began their own anchoring process. I need to mention that Ben and I have historically taken guilty pleasure in watching other couples do this. The disintegration of calm communication to wildly screaming at each other, tickles us to no end, mostly because we’ve been there, done that (hence the added communication crew member to our anchoring team).

With our voyeuristic needs satisfied, we lowered the dinghy in the water and made our way to shore. The village consisted solely of a restaurant and a small store, however, a friend told us that Warren Buffet had built an exclusive hotel here, which was located at the other end of the beach. In true Doolittle Hillbilly form, we landed our dinghy on the hotel’s private beach and proceeded on land to find the restaurant/bar. Following the sounds of “Football Americano”, we soon found a lovely wide open building overlooking a pool and the beach. Because Mickey tends to get homesick, we like to find a place on Sundays where he can watch a Forty-Niner or Patriots game. This was no Applebees!

An enormous operating train set was located upstairs where the kids could crawl through caves underneath. An infinity pool with water slide, play ground and an opportunity to play free old school video games like PacMan and Defender, the boys were in heaven! We spent the afternoon eating and frolicking with the rich and famous (not really, the place was empty), then returned to our little RV on the sea.

The next morning at 3:00 a.m. we set out for the 190 sail to Mazatlan…..I will post details soon in Part 2 of this blog entry….

Los Muertos anchorage. Full moon rising.

Anchored out at Los Muertos, watching the sunset, drinking a cerveza.

Mickey passing the time while underway. Absolutely no wind here and water smooth as glass.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Poem of My Own...

Busy, busy here in La Paz and awaiting the northerly winds to die down so we can sail over to Mazatlan. With homeschooling and boat duties, I can't seem to find time to catch up on detailed blog entries of our adventures. So here's a quickie entry I found in my journal today, a silly little free form poem I jotted down after my first overnight passage (see previous entries).

Nervous dreading
Lumpy swells
Not one lick of sleep
Seasickness vomiting cheeseburger
Moon rising on water
Sea is abandoned, no one in sight
Porpoises frolicking, I wish I could say the same
Sunrise here and all is well

May you find beauty even during those crappy days!


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Catching Up On Blogs...The Beginning of Baja Ha Ha!

So, here we are happily installed in Marina de La Paz, enjoying a couple weeks of down time before making our way down the Mexican coast. I thought I would take this opportunity to catch up on blogs covering where we have been and previous observations. First up, San Diego and the beginning of the Baja Ha Ha cruiser's rally. The rally is a race sponsered by Latitude 38 magazine and is basically a bunch of boats who sail down to Cabo San Lucas together from Ocotber 23rd - November 4th. It's a good time and not a hard core competitive race...although I was reminded by my male counterparts over and over again, that it is ALWAYS a race! There are beach parties, baseball games, potlucks and many other social events along the way.

I guess I should mention that I was offered a database training job at Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City (that could be a whole other blog!) the week before we left. So with the intention of increasing our sailing kitty, I hopped on a plane at LAX and left the Floating Frat House unsupervised for a week. Captain Ben and his deckhands made their way down to San Diego in my absence. I am convinced there were no vegetables consumed and no underwear worn....but sometimes you just gotta let guys be guys! They had a blast!

I also enjoyed my time working with the nurses and medical staff at the prison, but mostly appreciated the post work solitary confinement in a Crescent City motel. Living on a boat makes me appreciate the little luxuries found on land. The toilet that flushes - not pumped, a large bed with crisp white sheets, the fresh water flowing endlessly out of the sink and shower - without the concern of how much is left in the tanks....and last, but not least, a television with cable!!! Every night after work, I stopped by the local Safeway and picked up a bottle of wine (ok...yeah, and some chocolate). Needless to say I was a happy camper!

At the end of the week, I flew back to San Diego to reunite with my crew. Imagine my surprise as I descended the escalator and spotted my family waiting there to welcome me home. It still makes me smile thinking about it! We hopped a shuttle back to the marina and I moved back aboard our little home, rejuvenated and excited about our adventure ahead.

Now, have you ever had a picture in your mind of what future events will look like, especially a dream you may have? The people, the conversations, the smells, the setting...all vivid and alive as you dream of it? Then the moment comes of the reality manifesting. I returned to San Diego full of enthusiasm and wonder about our future sail down to Cabo San Lucas. This would involve my longest ocean passage, three nights and four days at sea. The reality had some familiarity of my dream, yet other parts were quite different, leaving me feeling a bit uncertain.

Needless to say, I was a bit apprehensive and scared of what this would entail. However, I tend to deal with these emotions with humor and the overwhelming desire to spill my guts. As our dear friend, Chris Lowry (a seasoned Kiwi sailor who has sailed around the world on his self built boat) said to Ben after meeting me while we were dating, "Well, mate! She's about as open as a garage door!". So I was a bit perplexed when I encountered people in our marina, the laundromat, market, and other places that were simply uptight, rude and not at all interested in an extended conversation. I remember thinking, "uh-oh, these are the people I will meet during our trip?".

After a tenuous and strained encounter in the marina laundry room, I was talking to Ben how I was really bummed about the people I was meeting. They all seemed so uptight, anal and generally unhappy. He laughed and shared some insight, "you know, a lot of these people have waited years to do this, spent their life savings and it's their first time to venture out like this. They are as scared and freaked out as you! It’s just that other people don’t want to talk about it like you!”.

Ben wasn't a cruising virgin like me, so I hadn't understood the range of emotions I would experience and how we would approach this from different perspectives (male vs. female, virgin vs. slut, mom vs. dad). He was steadfast and relaxed (although sometimes cranky) about our impending journey and I was....well....freaked out! And not only was it just me, I dragged along two unsuspecting children that I loved dearly.

I slowly realized that I wasn't the only one feeling this way and reminded myself that everybody deals with stress and life changing events differently. I tend to mask my fear with humor and eventually become a blubbering idiot, revealing my precarious emotional state. Funny how Ben's insight changed my perspective and allowed me to be more neutral to other people’s state of being and coping skills.

From then on, I used a little bit of humor and then got right down to it....."dang, this is freakin' me out! I've never done a three night passage. I'm nervous as all get out right now!.

I was amazed at the response. I could see relief in some people's faces (mostly my fellow less experienced female sailors) as I revealed my worries and in turn they were able to say, "Oh, crap! I feel the same way!" or words of encouragement from more experienced sailors. There is something freeing about putting yourself out there and not really giving a damn what other people think. They either look at you like you’re crazy (this is a more common reaction to me) or you discover something in common and begin a friendship.

As we made our way down the coast of Baja my stressed fellow sailors, became gregarious, enthused and relaxed. It was a huge explosion and release of tension, similar to waiting in line for a roller coaster. There is the anticipation, wringing of hands and then finally strapping yourself in to experience the exhilaration of the dips, twists and turns. You get off the ride feeling happy, content and relieved. (there is another metaphor involving sex that I could use, but perhaps not appropriate to put in writing here…..see there I go again, talking about things I shouldn’t!!).

Check back soon for the scoop on our first stop, Turtle Bay and the three night passage. Until then here are some pics. I apologize for the formatting, Blogspot is a pain to upload pics on!


Leaving San Diego Bay with all of the other Baja Ha-Ha boats (approximately 160).

Jedi Knight J.P. contemplating our departure. Several of the other boats wore their costumes from the previous day's Kick-off Party.

Kind of crowded heading out to sea!

3 night, 4 day ocean passage requires LOTS of board games!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


It's been a month since my last post and my verbose wife seems to be dominating the scene here.

I just haven't had the energy to post anything and finally thought I would look at the calendar for answers. You see, it has been 10 weeks since that fateful day at the end of August when I hitched a ride to San Diego and closed the deal on the boat.

I then spent 2 fairly grueling weeks bashing up the coast.
Once home we spent 2 more weeks moving the house into a storage unit and the remainder of our stuff onto the boat.
We then spent two weeks delivering the boat down the coast, not as brutal as going "uphill", but we were on a schedule and didn't really stop and rest much....and we had our share of overnight passages.
We then headed off on the BaJa-HaHa...2 weeks of fairly long passages down the coast of Baja California, where there are few places to stop and rest.
Once in Cabo, we spent a few days in a rolly anchorage before I finally broke (yes, it was me that cried "uncle" first) and we got our first slip in 15 days. Then we headed out for the trip up to LaPaz.

I am by no means complaining...not only has this crazy schedule been 100% self-inflicted, it has been a blast. But I have been actively sailing the boat or moving houses for 9 of the last 10 weeks, and I am cooked!!!

My body feels old right now. At one point I think I fell asleep w/ my eyes open on a night watch, standing at the wheel with my knees locked. My joints and back are sore like I have never felt before.

We have now been in a slip for a few days and I am beginning to feel young again. I have knocked out a few boat projects, caught up on work, and even started running a bit.
Most notably, I have had a few moments to finally sit back, relax, and enjoy what I have accomplished.
This is a dream I concocted sitting on the dock in Annapolis in 1998. Everything I had hoped for then has manifested. It has taken until now to really start to sink in.
I am feeling very fortunate, a bit tired and weary, but mostly very blessed.

Oh, and Carbon Offset, the boat I built, is off to a new home and winning races!!!
Life is good.


Belated Photos....Halloween in San Diego and Bahia Santa Maria

Finally! An opportunity to load some pictures on the blog! We have purchased a WiFi booster and are having succes. Here are some snapshots of Halloween onboard a sailboat. Hopefully more pics to follow of other locales/events.

Trick or treating in Bahia Santa Maria; an isolated anchorage where all of the Baja Ha Ha boats hung out for a couple days in between passages. The boys went trick or treating in the dinghy, going from boat to boat and got some great booty! Thanks to all of our fellow sailors, that were so generous in distributing tasty treats!

On Halloween I drew the long straw and got to go to the "adult" party on the 55' steel sailboat, Go For Broke. Quickly put on my blue Marge Simpson wig, grabbed my bottle of wine and happily took a dinghy ride over and enjoyed my reprieve from my Floating Frat House. There, I met numerous new friends, told my first exagerrated "sailing stories" and met a fellow uke player. A friend from a nearby boat swam over with a fake pirate sword in her mouth, clamored up the swim ladder and boarded the boat, ready to party! Gotta love sailing women!!!

Baja Ha Ha Halloween Kick-off Party in San Diego. Alas, we did not win for best "Group" costume, but we had a great time! Mick and J.P. were Jedi Knights and I went as Princess Lea. Ben wanted to rent a Chewbacca costume and wear a Hawaiin shirt, but had to settle for a blue wig and pawn himself off as "ChewBecca"....Chewbacca's sister. We are consistenly identified as the "Jedi Knight" boat since the boys are often up on the bow having light saber duels.

Captain Ben "ChewBecca" and Captain Tucker from embrace their costumes at the party.
Jedi Knights from JACE, making new friends, Ruby and Miles"Birds Flying South" from Convivia.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Ocean As My New Roommate

We’ve been off the grid for a while now and things to blog are piling up! A most significant topic is adjustment to life on the ocean. For me it’s like getting a new roommate you don’t know very well. She’s a wild card, not sure how much crazy she’s got in her…..Will she eat all your food? Hog the bathroom? Steal your boyfriend? The question looms, will you be able to coexist peacefully or even become friends?

The road has been a bit rocky at times. The first few weeks, I viewed my new roomie, Oceana, as a loose cannon. I wasn’t ever sure when she would “go off” on me. As proven in my first overnight stint (see previous blogs) she can be a real crazy bitch. But now I’ve seen her softer side, she can be tranquil even comforting at times…..and she’s got really cool friends that know how to party!

On several occasions she brought over a pod of dolphins so huge in number, I transformed into an 8 year old kid, squealing with delight. They frolicked and played around the boat as we all lay on the bow watching them swim along with us. I was literally yelling, “hi-hi-hi-hi!!!”. J.P.and Mickey laughed hysterically, tickled with my obvious enthusiasm. As I write this, she just introduced me to a huge Marlin who is jumping several feet out of the water, 50 feet from our boat.
Sometimes her friends are even allowed to sleep over.

A little green Finch decided to fly into our hatch and hunker down in the head (bathroom) for an extended nap. We eventually had to ask him leave due to his refusal to use the toilet and making a mess on the floor. Ben gently escorted him out to our cockpit where the little guy hung out all night. It’s gotta be exhausting, being a little bird on the open ocean.

However, some of her friends are not so welcome, like the crabs Ben and I stepped on or the flying fish that boldy jump into our cockpit at night.

Oceana also proves to be stubborn in sharing her bounty of food, teasing us occasionally with an opportunity to reel in a bite off our fishing pole. We are still awaiting our first big score of fresh Yellow Tail and Mahi-Mahi as our sharp knife, soy sauce, Wasabi and seaweed wait to be utilized by the onboard sushi chef (this role has not been determined and there have been no volunteers).

I’ve also learned quite a bit from my new roomie as she has educated and reminded me of several important things. A school of approximately 100 small fish swam around our boat while we were anchored out in isolated Bahia Santa Maria. It was so cool to see them swim gracefully together as a group, synchronized perfectly. It was peaceful to watch…….until a group of bigger fish rang the dinner bell and started jumping out of the water, snagging the little buggers one by one. It went on for at least a half hour. I swear I heard the song from the Lion King movie, “The Circle of Life” playing in my head as I witnessed the carnage. J.P. finally turned to me and said, “this kinda makes me sad!” A great opportunity to talk about life and death, the food chain, and a gentle reminder that even though our youngest son is a pistol and quite stubborn, he is truly a sensitive soul.

She even gives us presents to keep; like the enormous sand dollars we found while walking a pristine and isolated beach. Captain Ben promptly made them into necklaces for all the crew using random end cuts of sailing line.

So I’m finding my roommate to not be all bad like I once thought. I think we’re even becoming good friends and like all quality relationships there is a healthy respect and affinity for each other. I have no doubt we will be friends for a very long time.

We have a hard time downloading pics to the blog, so when we have better internet connection we will post some photos.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cabo San Lucas Now!

November 6, 2011

When I wrote this, we were currently in the Baja Ha Ha cruisers rally (now completed and in Cabo San Lucas) and sailing along with about 140 other boats. Please note, these dates are estimates….I have realized I lose perspective on time and dates while at sea. Our stops and rough schedule:

October 24 – October 27 - Sailing from San Diego to Turtle Bay

Ocotber 27 – October 29 - Resting in Turtle Bay (provisioning, socializing with other cruisers, etc).

October 29 – October 31 - Sailing from Turtle Bay to Bahia Santa Maria

October 31 – November 2 - Resting in Bahia Santa Maria (boat trick or treating, Halloween parties aboard other boats, swapping of exaggerated sailing stories, etc.)

November 2 – November 3 – Sail to and arrive in Cabo San Lucas……cheating death once again on the open sea!

Here is a glimpse of time spent on a 3 day passage from San Diego to Turtle Bay (Bahia de Tortuga).

Midnight – 3:00 Ben comes off night watch, Molly goes on (observations regarding night watch duty later).

3:00 – 6:00 Molly or Ben on watch. Eat breakfast, watch sunrise, drink coffee….lovely. There’s something about cheating death once again during a night watch that makes you appreciate the dawn of a new day! (to be honest, Ben has been very generous in night watch duties, he will often take a 4 hour watch and let me sleep and take a 2 hour watch).

6:00 – 8:00 Boys wake up; eat breakfast. They tend to sit quietly for a long time waking up. It seems the ocean has lulled them into some meditative state as the start their day. Ben on watch or vice versa. (whoever isn’t, goes down below to sleep some more).

8:00 Everyone awake. Sit in cockpit and talk. Watch dolphins, etc.

9:00 Boat schooling. Read, read, read. Math, Science, etc. (more on that in a later blog).

10:00 Recess (this includes climbing out bow hatch and sword fighting, trying to reel in a fish, etc.).

10:30 More boat schooling

12:00 School out for the day (although the learning continues unbeknownst to the younger crew members).

12:00 Lunch; crew member Mickey likes to take on this task. Usually sandwiches with chips and salsa. More talking, saying hi to our new animal neighbors, etc.

1:00 Cleaning up of boat, stowing away things that are out from the day before, Ben or Molly nap to prepare for another night at sea. Boys do a variety of things to pass time (Mad Libs, reading, Battleship, writing in journal, eating and spitting contest of sunflower seeds…this could take at least an hour of time, make sand dollar necklaces, play Nintendo DS, etc.).
4:00 Fire up the BBQ to grill up some fish we caught….NOT! Not yet anyway. BBQ burgers or other supplies we have. Eat dinner, watch sunset, wash dishes, etc.
6:00 Boys go down below for movie time (usually Star Wars). Ben or Molly nap.
8:00 Boys to bed, another night shift of night watch begins.
Time seems to slow down while doing a long passage like this. Life is slow and at times very boring, but I find it quite nice and a reprieve from the hectic schedule we used to live. However, after three days, I’m usually ready to jump ship, put my feet on solid ground again and find Internet access.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Could Be Love, Could Be Like, Could Be Breaking Up….

We completed our first overnight sail on our family voyage and what an event it was. It was a bit like Ben and my first date; unconventional, a bit of a train wreck and at critical moments I found myself thinking, “what the hell am I doing here?”. And yet I knew I wanted to do it again.

Let me explain (for those of you who know this story, skip to the end). Ben and I met the old fashioned way…..drinking cocktails in a bar. Over the years we answered the question, “how did you two meet?” with the simple reply of, “at the Bustop.”, leaving people to draw their own conclusions of whether it was the San Francisco bar or we met on public transportation. While playing “wingman” to our friends, we fell into easy conversation where I learned this adorable, easy going, tall man had just returned from traveling on his sailboat. To fabricate a line from the movie Jerry McGuire, “You had me at ‘traveling on my sailboat’”. I think it was his standard pick up line, but I didn’t care, I was intrigued. He jotted down my phone number on a cocktail napkin and we agreed to get together sometime.

A few days later we met at a Starbucks for coffee. As I walked down the hill from my apartment, I spied him waiting on the corner. Before you play romantic music and get all gooey-eyed about this moment, let me stop you. When I spotted him my first thought was, “Oh crap, he’s wearing cowboy boots…I hate cowboy boots!!” STRIKE 1.

We went inside, ordered coffee, and then he suggested we drive down to the beach for a walk. Cowboy boots + beach = walk? Uh, ok. He motioned towards his vehicle which was illegally parked with it’s hazards blinking in front of us. I don’t know if I could hide the horror on my face as I slid into the passenger seat of the windowless, 1980’s cargo van. Inside I found a seat-less backseat with walls splattered recklessly with paint.” At least I think it’s paint,” I told myself.
Ignoring the Silence of the Lambs van, I decided to make the best of it.

As we drove down to the beach, I soon discovered this was his father’s paint store delivery van which he was borrowing since he was unemployed. STRIKE 2 and 3. As we came to a stop sign, he stepped on the brake and my seat immediately flipped backwards which sent me flying into the rear of the van. STRIKE 4.

“Oops, sorry about that! Forgot to tell you that seat’s not
bolted down in the front,” he explained with not a sinister or devilish smile,
but more amused and apologetic. Darn he was cute.

Further conversation revealed that he was living in Petaluma to which I inquired, “Do you have roommates? And how did you choose Petaluma?” His amused
smile reappeared as he explained, “I live with an older married couple and I’m
from there.”.

Now, I’m no dummy. I was 30 years old and knew when I was getting the run around. So I raised my eyebrows and bluntly said, “You live with your parents, don’t you?”. STRIKE 5, 6, 7, and 8.

I should have just told him to drop me off back at the Bustop so I could drown my sorrows in another failed attempt at love. But I didn’t and can’t really explain
why. There was something about him. His self assuredness and comfort in his own skin when most of society would deem him a loser, intrigued me. More importantly, he made me laugh. Call it gut instinct, foolishness, or desperation (hey…I was 30….my eggs were rotting), but I knew I would go out with him again even though all signs pointed to a disastrous date #2.

And that is my long drawn out point…..our first overnight sail was in some definitions a “disaster” (see Ben’s entry for the gory details), but in the middle of it, I knew I was meant to do this and I would do it again. I pushed myself to do
something scary and unknown. The end result was – I felt good about myself when
it was over. Just how I felt after stomping in the sand with a boot clad, unemployed homeless gypsy man. It felt good and it felt right.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The PERFECT Storm....

Over night passages can be rough.
They can also be poetically beautiful. Warm trade winds blowing, star lit skies, ticking off the miles in peace while the boat surges ahead.

That wasn’t the case for our first over nighter.

Molly was nervous about this first overnight passage. Understandably so. It is a scary thing
We left Monterey after spending a few days resting and cleaning up ourselves and the boat. The first few hours out were not remarkable….except that it would get breezy, then die off, then get windy again, which meant I was on deck a lot and didn’t really get a chance to nap before it got dark. At one point during this period I found myself battling the headsail to get it to settle down and be quiet. We were sailing far enough off/away from the wind that it would fill w/ a bang, pull for a few seconds, then collapse and bang around against the mast…..fill again….bang….rinse repeat…..Finally Molly said sheepishly, “Would it make more sense to furl it??” (Put it away….) I figured it couldn’t hurt and rolled it up. The boat quieted down, and we didn’t lose any boat speed…….she has good instincts.

I finally got a chance to put my head down around 8, but was up at 8:30 as the wind changed again.
I forget who was on deck around 2 am……we both were half there I guess. This is when the night watch demons really get going. It is stinking dark, which is scary by itself. But you are tired which makes everything worse. Then there are the worries, the boat breaks, the kids fall overboard, I go overboard…… The wind started to come up for real and even I was getting a little nervous. We were doing 9 plus knots down wind w/ just the main sail up….that is like 120 mph in a car…..way too fast for some, just right for others….but really scary on a dark country road when you can’t see around the next turn….well….you can’t see where the next turn even is!
I was walking Molly through the steps of how I was going to reef (reduce) the main sail (basically taking our foot off the gas)….how I was going to be up on the (pitch black pitching) deck and she was going to be steering the (wildly out of control) boat when I heard her whimper something….
"WHAT!” I yelled over the noise….
”Can we just take it down?” she quietly pleaded through tears.
Now understand, taking sail down altogether when there is a fresh breeze up is like a heroine addict saying no to a little bump…..that ain’t gonna happen. But I realized immediately the position I was in: 1) reassure her that it would be fine and continue w/ the reefing process (and be an ass even if it was fine) or be a hero and simply take the sails down…….and so down they came.
Here’s the kicker: The boat immediately quieted down ( a given), the auto pilot which had been over powered previously took over control w/ ease (an unexpected bonus) and the biggest surprise…WE WERE STILL DOING 6-7 KNOTS UNDER BARE POLES!! Who needs sails!!!

Like I said, the lady has good instincts……

Why the title of this post? Because on top of the normal
fear of an overnight sail, the anxiety about being on the open ocean w/ your
kids lives in your hands, the 2-3 am exhaustion after wrestling w/ the boat all
night AND having the boat totally out of control in the pitch black…..Molly was
also PMS’ing . It was the perfect storm!

The following night we had our second all nighter and it was much more
the romantic novel version of a night time passage. My third trip around the dreaded Point
Conception and once again I had to motor for lack of wind…..a good thing. (Some call Pt Conception the “Cape Horn” of the Pacific.)

And here is the reward for gutting out a shitty night night sailing:

When asked to pick out a board game to play last night, JP picked “Battleship” (as in you sunk my Battleship!”
Anyone else see the irony in that??

Monday, October 10, 2011

Birthdays, Repairs and The Force

Lots of things to report since we last wrote. Mickey and I are both a year older, rain brings dampness to older boats, my hair is scarier, home schooling is a marathon not a sprint and I married a very patient man.

After our first day at sea, we anchored out in Half Moon Bay and put our new dinghy to the test. This is the moment the boys had been waiting for! Forget the old school oars, put an engine on anything and watch three boys display the look of joy as if they had just won the lottery. Everyone took turns taking it for a run before we set out for a lovely dinner at Mezzaluna. It was a restaurant my mother loved so it brought back fond memories and a chance to reflect on how she would have absolutely loved this idea of “cruising” (by the way that is the accepted term for people who live on their sailboat and travel…let’s be clear….it’s ‘cruising’ not ‘crazy’). Although she died over a year ago, she is never far from my thoughts and I thankfully inherited the travel bug from her. She would be tickled that her grandsons were able to have this experience.

Afterwards we settled in for a great night’s sleep at anchor and headed out for Santa Cruz the next morning, a ten hour sail. At 4:00 a.m., Ben used the windlass (a motorized anchor puller-upper) to get us on our way, but it took a few tries and the boys awoke with all the ruckus. We were underway and encountered a 10 knot southwest wind, with swells 2 to 5 feet. Nassau was had by all, as we are all still getting our sea legs. Although I have experienced a wide range of boats (ferry from Brindisi to Crete, boat across the Irish Sea, sailing on the Bay….now you’re thinking, “oh stop it Molly, you’re just bragging…) getting used to ocean swells on a sailboat is a different beast altogether. I was actually shocked since I tend to have a stomach of steel. For proof ask my sister about our ride on the stormy Irish Sea, where I partied all night in the disco downing Guiness, while she lay paralyzed in her bunk with sea sickness. We have adopted a variety remedies, but the most productive seems to be spending more time on the ocean. I’m happy to report that with every new passage, we are all becoming more and more comfortable with the foundation of our new home.

A few days later we arrived at the Monterey Marina where we waited out the weather and experienced a deluge of rain and high winds. One of my favorite parts of being on a boat is the ability to cozy up in bed and listen to the storm throw it’s snotty fit outside (in a marina, at anchor it’s a different feeling). On the flip side, my least favorite things about our floating home are the surprises and constant repairs required. We discovered several areas of the boat that leak (i.e. windows) and spent a good part of our time in Monterey drying things out and repairing leaks. I have to confess I had deep, dark thoughts (Darth Vader like) about my husband, while completing a leak repair well into the night on Friday. Before turning in, I returned from the dark side to instill good will towards Ben once again. May the Force Be With Me.

Jedi Master Ben continues to exhibit his inordinate amount of patience and fortitude while completing boat projects, tending to his wife’s unstable emotional state and teaching a cranky wild haired Chewbacca how to sail. As we docked, after completing a recent passage, I asked Ben, “how’s my hair look?” To which he replied, “it just keeps getting more interesting!".

Patience is a definitely a virtue while I begin the home---uh, boat---schooling process. We have eased into it since the boy’s have undergone significant changes in their lives allowing them time to adjust. Most of their learning (and mine) has come from “field trips” like the Monterey Bay Aquarium and “teachable moments” that we experience every day. For instance, Mickey was focused on cutting up our old dining room rug to fit onto the boat’s floor. He and Ben tackled the project dockside one day and the math lesson of area and perimeter began with real life connections. The carpet now has a new home and pride of ownership by the 10 year old mathematician who created it. Another teaching moment came from a walk along the “historic path” in Monterey as I pointed out information on the Native Americans and California Missions. After listening for a while one of the boys turned to me and asked, “why would the Spanish want to make the Native Americans believe what they believe about God?” Thus, the teaching of history through multiple perspectives has begun. On the more structured front, we have begun our “book club” and our first selection is Dear Mr. Henshaw, which the boys are thoroughly enjoying.

Sorry for the rambling, but I had the time to catch up as I watch the boys play in the park. Ben, Mickey and I thank you for all of the birthday well wishes! FYI – J.P. is due for a birthday March 13th!! Who knows where we will be!!??

Next blog entry will cover all of the trials and tribulations of our first overnight passage. When I’m ready to relive it, I will post it.

Cheers, Molly
My business, Doolittle Cakes has been temporarily shut down. Here is the new "boat" version for birthday cakes aboard Knee Deep....chocolate donuts!
What's he smiling about?
JP literally passes out when we take long passages. We had to check and make sure he was breathing here as we arrived in Monterey Harbor. I wish I had known this when he was a baby!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Approaching the Golden Gate!
I think we cleared it......
On the other side...hello Pacific Ocean!
First night aboard, anchored out in Half Moon Bay.

Elvis Has Left The Building

The Deed is Done! We have thrown off the dock lines and started our journey (currently waiting out the weather in Monterey for few days). I wasn’t really certain what state of mind I would be in as we made our way out of the Golden Gate. I was somewhat surprised at the euphoric excitement I experienced.

Then I remembered back to all of the trips I’ve taken over the years, from an 8 year old little girl listening to my parents pack up the car for Disneyland or loading my backpack for a 4 month long trek through Europe. That feeling that starts in the pit of my stomach, bubbling up into a volcanic eruption of enthusiasm and exhilaration as I take the first step towards my destination. It’s something I’ve known about myself forever….I love to travel! “It’s been a long time, but this such a familiar feeling and I love it!”, I thought to myself as I danced around the cockpit of the boat giggling.

Imagine my surprise as I glanced over at Captain Ben, expecting to share this joyful moment, to see a grimace and furrowed brow plainly expressed on his face. A naturally easy-going guy, who isn’t flustered by much, was clearly quite perplexed about something.
“You o.k., Ben?” I asked.
“Yep fine,” he replied curtly.
Hmmmmmm, questions buzzed through my brain. Was it second thoughts? Was there something wrong with the boat? Were the tides not right? Is my hair really that scary big already?

“You sure?” I said.
“Yeah, I just get really stressed out when I start a trip like this. I felt the same way when I headed out of the Golden Gate last time” he replied.

If you don’t believe me, here’s proof.

I love this story for a couple of reasons. One-whatever I think my emotional reactions are going to be, most of the time they cannot be predicted. Two-it proved to me that I REALLY REALLY want to do this and the fear about the unknown was quelled by sheer enthusiasm.
Captain Ben’s three crew members had a blast taking the first step on this journey!

I messed up posting the photos of going under, so you have to go to for photos of us sailing under the Golden Gate. Thanks to my sister, Colleen who came out in the foggy damp weather to hoot and holler at us from the South Tower and her great photos documenting the event.

It should be noted that Captain Ben recovered nicely and his easy, relaxed smile returned as we made our way through the swells of the ocean enroute to Half Moon Bay (there was some sea sickness as we are still getting our sea legs…but that’s another blog entry…coming soon).

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Almost ready to go...and it ain't pretty...

No, AIN'T PRETTY....but more on that in a second...
First, the storeage unit loaded up:
Our pretty little living room...gutted on our last night in our home:
Our boat....with stuff EVERYWHERE:
And finally, the really not pretty part. Sent this picture to a friend as a long before Molly and her hair looks like THIS???
Funny, until you see THIS!
Heading out for Half Moon Bay tomorrow.......pray for us!!

Saturday, October 1, 2011


As Mark Twain once said:

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

After several delays and a later departure than anticipated, we are ready to do just that. The ship of fools is scheduled to sail under the Golden Gate at max ebb tide somewhere between 9 and 9:30. If you are interested in watching, here is the live webcam with a view of the Golden Gate.

Keep in mind, only one person can control the camera at a share nicely! We all learned this last time, when Ben passed under about a month ago. If you catch a glimpse of the Doolittes on Knee Deep underway, hit the "snap" button and you can record a photo. If you are able to record an image, we would be grateful if you save it as a PDF and e-mail it to us! Many thanks!

F.Y.I. As a typed this, sipping my glass of wine, the Kelly Clarkson song "A Moment Like This" started playing...sappy I know, but the universe speaks to me through easy rock radio stations like KOIT quite a bit.

"Some people wait a lifetime for a moment like this
I can't believe it's happening to me."

Good night and Good Luck...(to you and me)!!

Climbing the Mountain....Where Are the Sherpas??

I've heard accounts of people climbing Mt. Everest and as they ascend the summit they experience a euphoric state. Along the way, there are Sherpas who act as guides on their quest. I found this description:

"the Sherpas are usually happy and easy going....You will need them to carry oxygen, etc. Many solo climbers actually bring Sherpas with them all the way up. Sherpas are a valuable aid to us, as the climb will be hard enough for you anyway, in not being genetically adapted to that kind of altitude by birth."

So my question is this.....where in the hell is my Sherpa??? And when will I get to the summit??

I sit here snuggled up in our home, listening to the wind blow outside, halyards rhythmically clinking against the mast, smiling to myself that we actually have pulled this off. I just went up on deck to tuck in the sail cover which keeps me awake sometimes (this would be the Sherpa's job, if I had one), stopped to look out over the marina and thought, "dang, I'm am so lucky!!". We have moved aboard and although all of our things are not quite stowed away, I am excited and relieved our adventure will finally begin. In other words, I'm at base camp and excited to start my ascent to the summit.

Now, since this blog is written in the spirit of honesty and full disclosure, let me share with you that 48 hours ago, this lovely bliss I just experienced, was quite the opposite. Sheer and utter nervous breakdown/anxiety it whatever medical term you'd like. Maybe on Everest it's "altitude sickness", but let's just say, "the girl LOST it!" I won't bore you with the details, but it involved sobbing hysterically in a van outside a storage unit. The kind of cry where you can't catch your breath...can't talk....and at one point I thought, "I think I'm having an anxiety attack!"

Now, most of you that know me would chuckle at this. I'm a Libra (as are Ben and Mickey...which goes to show that executing this trip is a true miracle....we tend to be easy going....and don't like making decisions) and I try to approach life with a "no worries" mentality. In my early 20's the Bobby McFarren song, "Don't Worry, Be Happy" hit the Top 40 charts (maybe he was talking about the sherpas?). It spoke to me, people!! And I adopted it as my creed.

Alas, this mentality was utterly forgotten as I wailed in my van watching miscellaneous items fall out of our jam packed storage unit. Ben carefully approached me, gently put his hand upon my shoulder and said, "You can't have a nervous breakdown, I need you now!" Sherpa (Ben), that I was counting on to get me up the mountain, abandoned me! Much to my chagrin, I realized he was having his own crisis and was saying so eloquently, "buck up, I'm having my own meltdown, we'll get through this" (meltdowns are very different in a male body!).

So here I sit at base camp (Emery Cove Yacht Club) amused at the range of emotions I have experienced in the last week, with many more to come. I'm not sure where and when my Sherpa is going to show up, but I'm confident he'll be here when I need him most.

Itinerary: Many of you have inquired about our plans or itinerary. We plan to sail out of the Golden Gate on Sunday (we have encountered delays since we underestimated the challenges that can occur when leaving the country). From there, these are the only solid plans we have so far:

Sunday, October 2 - October 20th - sailing down the California coast
October 23 - November 4th - Baja Ha Ha cruisers rally, San Diego to Cabo San Lucas

These are our only set plans for now, although we hope to be in La Paz, Puerto Vallarta, and many different locations in Mexico for a while. Then hopefully through the Panama Canal, Central America, Caribbean, Cuba, and the East Coast of the U.S. All of this is tentative and subject to change.

So there you have it! Thank you for all of the well wishes and continued interest in this crazy odyssey!! We will miss you tremendously. Onward and Upward!!

Quote of the Day: Ben back from his first marina shower here. "My shower was was magical! I smell good and I'm a sailor again. I'm getting happy -- I'm getting reaaaaallllll happy!"

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It's kinda like somebody died......

Very sad around here today....well, tired to the point of exhaustion will always make my mood darker. But saying goodbye to our old life is a little sad. We had a going away party on the boat which was very cathartic. Lots of family and friends all came by to say good bye. But where it gets really weird is how many of our neighbors, those right next door and those blocks away, who have watched us raise our kids here, who were witness to the boat building, and who have been a quiet but big part of our lives, have come by to tell us how much we meant to them and how much we will be missed. Roger from across the street spent almost all day helping me load the van. Linda next door is so upset she couldn't talk to us. Kathy on the other side offered me a beer when that simple gesture couldn't have meant more. It really has been exactly like when my dad died and Sam and Mom and I got to see how much he meant to the people he touched.
But in our case no one is dead...yet.....although I know Molly has moments where me being gone might seem preferrable to this!
I really just want to say thanks, very publicly for the love and support of our family and friends. Kathy, Molly's sister, has spent hours watching the kids and shuttling them around. Every one in her family has been SO great. My brother Sam and my neice Sophia and my Mom have offered to help in any way.
It really does make me reflect on how stinkin good I have it...and a little sad to be leaving.
That will all fade into crazy joy I am sure as we sail out the gate....but for the moment I am a bit melancholy.
Hey....Happy Birthday to me......the storeage unit is "locked and loaded" and we are outta here!!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Purging of Worldly Possessions - We had a garage sale on Sunday to sell approximately 1/3 of our worldly possessions. The remaining will go into storage and upon our arrival back home, we will crack open the door of the storage unit and immediately wonder why in the world we saved all this crap. It is also a bit unnerving that selling 1/3 of our worldly goods has the monetary value of $250 (which would mean ALL of our possessions have a net worth of $750). To J.P. and Mickey this was an amazing amount of money, to Ben and I, it was just plain sad.
I guess it all depends on your perspective!

And just as a side note....I have discovered my husband, who has been in sales for the last 20 years, is a really bad salesman....example:

Ben: Hey, Molly how much are we asking for the drum set?
Molly: $30
Ben: Oh, but the little boy is so sweet and he only has $10
Molly: No, $30.
20 minutes later Molly (a.k.a Gordon Gekko) comes out of the house....
Molly: Where is the drum set?
Ben: You don't want to know, but remember this moment. When we are on our trip and need something, a random person will appear and have exactly what we need. It's called good karma!

How can you argue with that?

Boat Naming: The boat name suggestions were great! Thanks for all who 'floated' ideas our way!!! A few examples:
Doo-A-Little Dreamin'
Doolittle's Dream
Why Knot
The New Rosemont
Our Boat
3 Boyz and A Lady
The Mother Ship
Whang Dang Doolittle
Happy Sails
Compass Rose
Pipe Dream II

And the official new name is "Knee Deep" because you just can't go wrong with a Jimmy Buffett song! Here is the song that inspired it.

Pictures of our new floating frat house:

House Mother's bedroom not pictured.

Ben in the main salon (living room, family room, extra bed, dining room)

Navigation Table (office, time out desk for students when they need to be separated from classmates, table that holds Pirate money - in plastic bag)

Door to V-Berth (Boy's bedroom, playroom, storage alcove for pirate swords)

V-berth (see above)

Wall in V-Berth (storage rack for pirate swords)

Head (Bathroom, shower, and place where Molly will medicate herself when the Frat Brothers have taken over)

Galley (Kitchen)

Patio Area

Backyard (neighbors nowhere in sight)