Monday, December 31, 2012

Goals for 2013

A few goals I have in mind for 2013
  • Add solar panels
  • Add wind generator
  • Modify the sail setup on my dinghy to use a hanked sail- and allow me to raise or lower the sail (currently the sail is the type that you slip over the mast - not ideal when the wind kicks up hard as it can here on the coast)
  • Add a stern anchor

Some other projects that I probably won't get to in 2013 - but are on the list:

  • Evaluate wether I should replace the fuel tank [there appears to have been some galvanic corrosion over the years]
  • Plumb the deck fitting to fill the water tanks [currently I have to raise the boards in the salon to fill directly there]
  • Add a Wind Vane
  • Add a SSB Radio
  • Evaluate the sump options for setting up a shower in the head
  • Evaluate adding a hot-water heater
  • Add a water-maker 
  • Add a fresh / saltwater hose-down arrangement in the cockpit

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Book Review: Sail Like A Champion, by Dennis Conner

I'm not a racer. I probably will never enter a yacht race. Up till now, I have not had much interest in the sport of yacht racing. So, my expectations were fairly low with regards to what I might get out of reading this book.

...I misjudged.

Serendipity played a hand in how this book came into my possession: I picked up a copy at a Friends of the Library sale, where I think I paid the grand sum of $1.00

However, I will say that just one lesson learned, on even just one page of this book (see page-115), would have been worth the full purchase price:
"In heavy winds, the main's leech is loosened by easing the sheet, allowing the sail to twist or sag off, minimizing weather helm"

Think of this book as the tune-up guide to use your sled most efficiently, and how to make it go faster by leveraging every aspect of the boat, its various systems, the wind, weather, and current. :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Reasons To Live Aboard a Sailboat

This is a work-in-progress list, I expect it to grow over time.

1. The Sea
2. Nature
3. Wildlife
4. The sounds of waves crashing on shore
5. The smell of the ocean
6. Gulls
7. The night sky
8. The moon reflected on the water
9. Harbor seals
10. Whales
11. Dolphins
12. Minimalism
13. Independence
14. Freedom
15. Self-Sufficiancy
16. Nautical Traditions
17. The Seafaring Community of fellow sailors
18. A moveable home
19. Sunrise at sea
20. Sunset at sea
21. Constant learning
22. Developing seamanship skills
23. Being the captain of your own ship
24. Being responsible for the maintenance of your own ship
25. Nautical knots
26. Oceanography
27. Travel
28. Adventure
29. The broader nautical community of all those who go to sea in all manner of ships
30. Economical
31. Conservation
32. Good stewardship
33. Finding my 'center'
34. Zen'ish simplicity
35. Vitality
36. Exercise
37. Challenges
38. Fixing things = joy
39. Testing my limits
40. Exploring
41. Testing my creativity
42. Testing my resourcefulness
43. MacGyver factor ("...solve...problems with everyday materials")
44. Dock Neighbors
45. Convenience of funky shops within the marina complex
46. De-cluttering your life
47. Convenience of restaurants within the marina complex
48. Visiting nearby islands
49. Visiting far away islands (!)
50. Entertainment value for yourself
51. Entertainment value for your friends
52. As a well-spring of creativity
53. As a reminder of what is essential, by forcing you to strip away the non-essential
54. Principles of the small-house movement
55. Peter Pan
56. Jimmy Buffett
57. Treasure Island
58. No better way to see Tahiti
59. No more worrying about a place to sleep when you travel
60. Anchoring is [usually] free (or at least cheaper than a hotel)
61. Rowing your own dinghy is good exercise
62. Sailing your own dingy to shore
63. Better access to diving areas
64. Fish On!
65. The Green Flash
66. Captain Ron
67. Sailboat Races / Regattas / 'Beer Can' Races
68. Being a member of a yacht club
69. Sundowners
70. Visiting a distant yacht club
71. Collecting Sea Tales of others
72. Creating your own new Sea Tales
73. Surfing Safaris
74. The connection to ancient mariners through the traditions of the sea
75. The spirit of Odysseus [also see Tennyson's poem, Ulysses]
76. Buccaneer Days at Catalina Island's Two Harbors
77, Reading
78. Getting one of your adventures mentioned in
79. That special silence of a marina after midnight
80. The sound of raindrops on the deck as you lay safe in your bunk, tied to the dock
81. The sound of water rushing along the hull as you lay safe in your bunk on a passage
82. The sound of the wind moaning in the rigging during a winter storm [hopefully while tied to the dock]
83. Feeling the sunshine warm you bones after a cold night at the helm while on a passage
84. Coming home to a cozy cabin that has enough creature comforts for all your needs
85. Being debt free, without a mortgage, and owning a boat, free-and-clear, that you paid for in cash
86. Being able to easily relocate to a 'better' neighborhood
87. The proximity of the Harbor Patrol

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Vive Les Vagabonds!

SAIL! magazine had an 'interesting' reply to a recent article ("Fish On"), from a reader (Dr. Dennis Wright Michaud) - in which he reveals his true character for all the world to see:

Thankfully, Wally Moran's thoughtful reply echos my own sentiment on the matter:

But dear Dr. Michaud wasn't quite finished with providing more 'entertainment':

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Four Year Plan

I've been meaning to update my Next Voyage Countdown widget to the right of my blog.

Tonight as I pondered what date to select, these thoughts fluttered through my mind:

  • I've finally got myself back aboard a sailboat
  • I'm enjoying the experience of being a liveaboard again
  • I'm in a great marina - and there are plenty of places to cruise nearby on the the weekend.
  • The shuttle service to LAX picks-up here in the marina - and so I have easy access if/when I need to fly to client locations for meetings or periods of consulting work.
  • Being back on the West Coast  - and having the Pacific as my playground allows me easy no-hassle to great sailing - which is also convenient to where I've established my new office - I'm not in any great rush to take off for a long distant least for the present.
  • The allure of voyaging to Mexico again - isn't as strong as wanting to wait and have the financial resources to continue voyaging for more than a season.
  • I can continue living aboard and sailing on the weekends and holidays for now - which satisfies my hunger for being upon the sea least for now
  • I need to have a plan for re-entry - and ideally have a place to store my 1,000+ library of books while I'm voyaging [need to sort out the implementation details for my shipping container mansion ideas]
  • when I want to voyage to distant places - flying there and doing a bare-boat rental would be more convenient - since I will need to continue working for some years to prepare myself financially for the longer voyaging I seek to do in the future. 
  • Should the world/life slip sideways, there's always the option of just casting off the dock lines with just a day or two of preparation...
And so, for now, I have settled on a purely arbitrary date of my 55th birthday (some 4 years distant) to allow me the time to make the necessary preparations.

Listening to Jimmy Buffett's 'Beach House On The Moon'

Ventura Harbor Timelapse

I happened to come across this very cool timelaspe video of Ventura Harbor on Youtube:

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Vessel Trade-off Considerations

My previous boat, S/V Renaissance, a 1971 Islander 32, was a vessel that I selected after looking at many boats over a 4 month time period back in 2002.  She wasn't the perfect boat - but the initial purchase price was very reasonable and allowed me the opportunity to have some extra funds to add additional gear to the boat (like a dinghy, EPIRB, SSB receiver, GPS, VHF, Pur 06 Survivor Watermaker, etc).  She became my "training wheels" for ocean voyaging.

After a few years sailing aboard Renaissance, I drew up a list of the "must-have" features that I wanted in the next boat. Over the last few years, I've been looking at various boats - and trying to keep my eye out for a good solid vessel - at a decent price - that would include many of the features I wanted.  While my ideal boat is a Hans Christian 43 - I have settled on the 1963 Pearson Alberg 35 for now as an intermediate waypoint to the next boat.

Here's a brief discussion of my thoughts on the trade-off consideration I made in choosing the Alberg.

Full Keel
Although I appreciate the speed benefits of a fin keel on the Islander - I had several occasions aboard the Islander to experience the not-so-trivial weather-helm that could develop in a bit of a blow.  A full keel will probably eliminate this issue for the most part. Robert Perry specifically discussed the issue with the Islander 32's weather helm in his book (Yacht Design According to Perry).
Additionally, the advantage of a full keel is greatly to be desired when considering the possibility of flotsam that might be encountered - or the risk of grounding ("there are two kinds of sailors: those who have grounded, and those who haven't yet grounded"). 
For the Islander - the exposed prop shaft, with its fragile supporting strut,  always presented a greater risk of damage - and greater potential for a catastrophic breach of the hull.
The Alberg's encapsulated full keel will give me a certain amount of peace-of-mind.

Smaller Cockpit
 Although I never had a problem with the Islander cockpit being swamped - if/when I do further distant voyaging - I  always want to minimize the amount of water that can be momentarily trapped aboard. 
A Westsail 32 or a Channel Cutter 22 are more along the lines of what I would like in an ocean-going vessel's cockpit.
The Alberg's cockpit isn't quite as small as I would like - but it is a stout blue-water capable vessel in almost all other respects. This is an acceptable risk.

 On three occasions I specifically regretted not having radar aboard the Islander:
  • When sailing South from LA to San Diego - on a dark moonless night - and I spent an hour trying to figure out what kind of huge vessel was sailing a "box" around me.  Turned out to be an aircraft carrier.
  • While sailing South from Bahia Santa Maria off the coast of Baja Mexico - at sunset - into a moonless cloud covered night - peering into the gathering clouds ahead - I would have loved to be able to keep an eye out for possible storm cells ahead of me
  • While sailing the almost 20 mile length of the Cerralvo Channel, inside the Sea of Cortez, on a night when the channel was completely blanketed by a heavy cover of fog
The Alberg comes equipped with a very nice radar and integrated GPS/Depth display

Mast Steps
 For the Islander, I fashioned some custom mast-climbing based on mountain climbing equipment I purchased at REI.  This allowed me to climb the mast fairly quickly, with three safety lines attached, with a Boatsun's Chair - and a "step" that allowed me to stand comfortably while working.  However, I would have very much preferred to be able to climb the mast even faster (in a pinch) - using Mast Steps.
The Alberg has Mast Steps

Cutter Rigged
Whereas the Islander was sloop-rigged - the Alberg is rigged with an optional inner forestay
Here it may be worth noting that the Islander at one time had working roller-furling  gear - but after it jammed on me several times - I decided to just use hanked-on sails.
 While the Alberg's roller-furling  gear appears to be in fine working condition - the optional inner forestay will allow me the flexibility of hanking-on a sail if needed.

SSB Transceiver
On the Islander, I carried a portable Grundig Yachtboy SSB Receiver.  It worked fine to listen in on many of the cruiser nets in Mexico - however, the reception was sometimes a bit spotty.
The Alberg has an insulated backstay and grounding plate - but does not have any other SSB equipment.  It will be on my list of planned future enhancements.

Increased Water Storage
 The Islander only came with a 16 gallon water tank - which was compromised - so not potable.  I kept about 15 gallons of water on deck in 5 gallon jerry cans.
The Alberg comes with 40 gallons of water in two separate 20 gallon tanks.  This is a nice safety feature - in that if one became contaminated - hopefully the other would still be potable [note to self: consider re-plumbing the fresh water to ensure there is a safety T-valve to avoid potential contamination - if it is not already so rigged]
With the addition of two 5 gallon jerry cans - this should be enough water for two people for ~25 days on the Alberg - and under survival conditions - could be stretched to 50-60 days.

 While in a marina in Mexico aboard the Islander - I made the mistake of taking on water from a dock faucet - there must have been some kind of contaminant in the water supply - because my toes soon became numb.  [note: I should have asked more questions when I saw all of the other cruisers taking their water via special delivery of huge water jugs]
Until I am ready to begin a longer voyage - the watermaker is more of a nice-to-have - but it is on the list as a priority item.

After a long day of sailing - and after putting the anchor down - nothing is more refreshing than a nice hot shower...
While the Islander did not have a shower aboard - while cruising for many months in Mexico - I made do with a tea kettle of hot water mixed with 50/50 cold water in a small garden sprayer. This was never inconvenient - and taking a quick shower in the cockpit was very enjoyable.
Alberg appears to have a shower sump - but will need further investigation to determine what is actually there - or what is possible.  If all else fails - I could plumb a shower in the cockpit area.  Adding a water heater is a possible  consideration.

Engine: 50hp or better
The Islander had a 16hp(?) Volvo diesel engine.  Great burn rate of about 1/3 gallon per hour.  But...when I was caught in a bit of a blow in the Sea of Cortez - climbing over those 12+ ft waves...barely managing 1 knot/hour...and fighting those conditions for the better part of 18 hours...I really wanted to have a stronger engine.  50hp seems to be a common recommendation to handle the kind of conditions that might warrant this type of concern.

The Alberg only has a 27hp diesel (a Volvo too) - so this is a gap in terms of my desired features.  Since the boat has about 1100 hours on a rebuild of the original engine - I may need to eventually consider replacing it.  A cruising friend (and long-time experienced marine surveyor) - recommended that I only buy a boat with a Universal diesel engine - but that wasn't in the cards for this time around.

On a side note - I should mention my strict rule against owning a sailboat that has a gasoline engine.  Although I will/have carried jerry cans of gas on board (for an outboard) - the risk of gasoline leaking into the bilge is a very dangerous risk that I don't like to chance. 

Boat Purchase Progress...

The survey on the 1963 Pearson Alberg went well - and I've arranged for insurance and a 100 mile Vessel Assist towing package through BoatUS

I'm using the services of New England Marine Title (out of Alameda, CA) to complete the Abstract of Title and Coast Guard Documentation transfer.

Tomorrow I will mail the title documents that need to be signed - and will mail the final payment for the boat.  By Friday, I should have the bill-of-sale and a temporary Travel Letter (until the Certificate of Documentation is re-issued in my name)

The plan is to drive up this week to Sausalito, CA - spend Saturday preparing the boat - and sail to Half Moon Bay as the first stop on the harbor-hopping voyage South.

The initial leg will be a shake-down cruise - a short run to Half Moon Bay - and on the following weekend I will attempt to make great distance on subsequent legs.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

My New Home

I've signed a lease for an office space and a live-aboard slip...
slip fees are about $689/month
office lease is $750/month for 630 sq ft.

I'm scheduled to do the survey and sea-trial on June 5th for the 35 ft. Pearson Alberg.

I am wrapping up my latest client project on this Thursday (5/31) - and will pack and move during the 1st week of June.  Looking forward to being back on the Pacific Coast.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Alberg 35 - Magic #16

I came across this interesting web site tonight - about the restoration of another Alberg 35

Here are a few reviews of the Alberg 35:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

1963 35 ft. Alberg

I spent last Saturday morning looking at a 1963 35 ft. Alberg

After a few email exchanges with the owner - we have agreed to a price - and now just need to sort out a few details, such as:
  • Haul Out
  • Survey
  • Sea Trial
It looks like the 1st week of June may be the soonest I can make all of that happen - given my current work schedule and client deadlines.

...stay tuned.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Clock Ticking, World Spinning...

Clock ticking, world spinning - destiny on the horizon. Dock lines are not shackles - just bindings while tasks are completed.

64 days before my client engagement wraps up...

Deep in the desert, a captain quietly contemplates his charts...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Some recently found interesting web sites...

Many interesting stories here...and lots of great cruising advice...

The adventures of yacht Gilana

Voyage of Heartsong III

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Short Adventure in February

I have a three week break from work scheduled for February - and am looking forward to using my passport for a bit of traveling.

Where I'll be traveling is dependent on a bit of news that I'm hoping to get later today...

Finding wind, wave, and sunshine will certainly be part of the equation...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Voyage Countdown reset #2


I have the enviable position of having a client that likes my contribution very much...and with my current engagement scheduled to end on February 3rd - they have asked if I would be willing to take a 5th contract extension (till mid-to-late April).

I'm very much hoping to be able to join as crew on a boat in the ARC Europe 2012 (departing the BVI's around May 5th)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Merchant Marine Training Resources

This blog post is intended as a placeholder for interesting Merchant Marine training resources I may come across in the future:

Monday, January 9, 2012

Caribbean Destinations

I'm compiling a list of links with information about the cruising destinations in the Caribbean - with a particular interest in the this posting will be my placeholder for information that I find interesting: