Monthly Archives: January 2022

You’ll Never Guess What Our Biggest Surprise Was While Motoring in Canada

Perhaps one of the most surprising things we saw while traveling in Canada was when we were motoring along the Cordero Islands. Frank was busy in the cockpit and I was sitting inside at the helm station, on watch, scanning the water for logs and other debris as we travelled.

Suddenly I saw something moving in the water pretty far ahead of TTR. It was some type of animal swimming in the water, but I couldn’t tell what it was. I grabbed the stabilizing binoculars for a closer look and I could not believe what I was seeing.

I quickly grabbed Frank and made him look too….. I didn’t even know this animal would swim, much less that it was such a fast swimmer! Too fast for me to get a picture.

BUT, I did some research and found a photo online:

This photo from Discover Vancouver Island Magazine looks exactly like the cougar we saw swimming across the channel.

According to the magazine article, cougars are territorial and their favorite food is blacktail deer. A cougar’s territory usually comprises an area of 30 to 100 square miles, but they will swim to smaller islands to hunt if they cannot find enough food in their own quarter. The cougar then returns to his usual grounds.

The Vancouver Island Magazine article said that sightings of cougars are very rare and that during their lifetime, many VI residents will never see a cougar.

Cougars have incredibly strong hind legs and can jump 20 to 40 feet horizontally and up to 18 feet vertically! They can run between 35-45 mph but are more suited to sprints than long distances. Cougars are solitary and only mothers and cubs are seen together. A female cougar reproduces once every two or three years. Her gestation is 90 days after which she births 2 or 3 cubs weighing between 1/2 and 1 pound each. The cubs stay with the mother for up to two years.

Image by Matthew Blake (link not working, sorry Mr. Blake)

Cougars will eat almost anything: elk, deer, bighorn sheep, domestic animals such as dogs, horses and sheep. But they will also eat small insects and rodents. Humans are the cougars only predator, though it isn’t considered an apex predator because it competes with other large animals like bears or wolves for food.

How lucky were we to see one and to see one swimming?!

Thank you for dropping by to read our blog. Hope you enjoyed this quick story about Cougars. We were really lucky to see one! If you would like to hear from us more often, please find us on Facebook or Instagram. All the best from us to you.

January 14th – Three Years Since Our Ticket to Ride Arrived!

It is so hard to believe that Ticket to Ride was unloaded from the container ship on January 14, 2019. Three years have already passed aboard this floating home of ours, and these years have held some significant surprises!

TTR lowered into the water in Long Beach, CA.

Thankfully, the surprises have come externally and not from within the performance or quality of this HH55 catamaran. Can you say Worldwide Pandemic?  

We continue to be thrilled with the design and construction of TTR and are extremely happy we were able to customize her to fit our needs. We could not have achieved these changes without the design help of marine architects Morrelli and Melvin or the willingness of HH to implement the adjustments.  It has also been gratifying to see some of those changes carried forward on the HH cats that have launched since ours. 

After three years on the water, Ticket to Ride has 20,000+ nautical miles under her keels. Our travels have not taken us where we expected, but we have been blessed with incredible experiences regardless of the changes in plans.

When we decided to move to a performance cat, we knew we would have to “step up” our sailing game and we wanted to push ourselves to a higher level rather than remain with the usual production boat standards. Learning to sail TTR was not difficult, thought it did take me a bit of time to become comfortable with the increased power she generates.

Most people want to know how fast TTR sails, which is a difficult question to answer since the conditions clearly dictate the answer. We can say that Ticket to Ride has recorded speeds in the upper 20 knot range when we had professional help on board and we were putting the boat through her paces. On our own, we have recorded speeds of a little over 23k when surfing down waves, and we often sail in the mid-teens; so clearly this boat can go even without the pros on board.  

Owning this performance catamaran is similar to owning a performance car in the city; we don’t push TTR to her abilities, but it’s nice to be able to “step on it” when necessary.

Frank loves passages making, but I prefer sailing in the daylight, so one thing I really like about TTR is that passages which would have been overnights or anchor up in the dark on our first sailboat are often day sails for Ticket to Ride. 

TTR sailing in Kaneohe Bay, Oahu.

When making plans for a passage on TTR, we anticipate average speeds of 8.5k or about 200 nm days, but we often arrive more quickly than we anticipate. In fact, early days in Mexico, we had a couple of trips where we arrived during the night because we had sailed much faster than expected. We have had to learn to adjust our thinking and anticipate a faster than predicted arrival to insure we arrive in anchorages during daylight.

I asked Frank to name three things he really likes about TTR and they are:

  1. Performance/confidence: this is an obvious one. Simply put, Ticket to Ride is very solidly built and the components/gear are excellent. This leads to greater confidence in the boat which is a huge benefit.
  2. Upwind sailing performance: in reasonable wind, TTR is capable of sailing at about a 40 degree true wind angle which equates to about 27 degrees apparent. The dagger boards allow us to point well and we do not side slip. This means sailing upwind is both possible and usually pretty quick.
  3. Interior Lighting: this surprised me, but one thing Frank really likes is the lighting in our boat. HH was very generous with canned lighting and rope lighting inside the boat. Plus the lights can be dimmed/brightened depending on what look we want to achieve. Essential? No. But the lighting is a nice perk.
TTR anchored at Santa Cruz, CA.

If we have to think of things we miss about our Helia 44, Let It Be, Frank came up with two things:

  1. Indestructibility of mini-keels: although we would absolutely not trade our dagger boards for mini-keels, knowing we could easily allow Let It Be to come to rest on a sandy bottom to allow us to clean the hulls without damaging the mini-keels was a big convenience. And mimi-keels allowed us to anchor in very shallow water. That was a nice convenience, though not worth the sailing performance trade off.
  2. Ease of sail changes with one person: it is certainly possible to make sail changes with only one person on TTR, but it was easier to do so on Let It Be. While one person can make sail changes on Ticket to Ride, it is faster and easier to have two people involved on TTR, especially if the wind is piping up. Sailing TTR requires more attention than was required on our Fountaine Pajot.

This is an abbreviated list of things we like about Ticket to Ride. There is a longer comparison post here.

Los Gatos in the Sea of Cortez

So where has TTR traveled these last three years? We have sailed from California to Mexico three times with only one return trip from Mexico to California. Our second departure from Mexico, we sailed to the Hawaiian Islands because Covid-19 shut down our transit to French Polynesia. For 15 months we sailed in Hawaii and had the opportunity to explore the coast of nearly every island.  We spent only about 3 months in marinas while we were in Hawaii, the rest of the time we moved from island to island or anchorage to anchorage. Because of the coronavirus, Hawaii was in lockdown for most of our time there and as a result, we saw Hawaii with fewer people than it has had in decades. We were able to explore trails and tie to mooring balls in places we would not have seen in times open to tourism.

After waiting over a year to see if French Polynesian boarders would open, we acknowledged that we needed to make other plans. Thus we pointed our bows northeast and sailed to Alaska.

Ticket to Ride nosed into Sitka, Alaska on June 26th and we explored our way around the Inside Passage for more than two months before entering Canadian waters.

TTR looking tiny in Dundas Bay, AK

Fortunately Canada opened her boarders and we were able to make a few stops as we moved south toward Washington State. We only had a little over three weeks in Canada and we agree that returning to explore Canada and Alaska further would be a delightful addition to our itinerary someday.

While in Washington, we were a little pressed by weather to move south, away from the northerly weather systems, but we did manage to meet with a few cruising friends; Lynda Jo and Greg who we met on Union Island, St. Vincent/ Grenadines and Pam and Howard, whom we met in the Sea of Cortez. 

While in Washington, we had only a few days to visit the San Juan Islands, which is a shame because they are a fun cruising area. But again, that leaves us with more places we could enjoy visiting again.

From Washington State, we skipped straight down to San Francisco, then Long Beach and San Diego.

TTR in Max Cove, Prince of Wales Island

Our itinerary has been incredibly fortunate considering that the whole world has been dramatically altered since Covid-19 raised its ugly head. We were lucky to have an outdoor home that allowed us to explore when openings occurred but also kept us relatively untouched by the virus.

As for Ticket to Ride, covid or no covid, she has been great.  When we first discussed replacing  our Fountaine Pajot, Let It Be, we were looking for a larger, faster and more comfortable catamaran. We thought we would have to choose either speed or comfort, but this M&M designed HH catamaran has provided us with both. 

Thank you for stopping by to read our blog. Please leave questions or comments you have in the comments and we will do our best to answer them. If you would like to hear from us more often, please visit our Facebook or Instagram pages.

Out of Order: Skipping Ahead In Time

Arrival at the Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise.

Like most everyone in the world, we are very happy to have had the opportunity to see family and friends after a (temporary) calming of the covid-19 virus. Having been vaccinated, we felt comfortable traveling and visiting elderly and infant family members. This post covers some of those events which began in San Francisco.

TTR approaching the Golden Gate Bridge

Our arrival in SF was pretty monumental as we sailed under the Golden Gate bridge just after sunrise! 

Next up was the arrival of Hunter who would stay on TTR while he worked in the Bay area for a couple of weeks! How awesome that he could time his SF work with our being in town. 

Mary Grace, Hunter and Frank – because you have to have a pic with the GGB in the background!

Another fun aspect to our San Francisco visit was that the Navy, Marine and Coast Guard “Fleet Week” celebrations were beginning days after our arrival.

Blue Angels practically on our mast- so cool!

Our accidental timing made for fun days sharing the water with hundreds of other boats, watching flying demonstrations in the skies above our heads!

Amazing flight demonstrations overhead as many boats moved about below.

Imagine our surprise when friends we met in Tracy Arm, Alaska drove up to TTR while she was moored to the dock in Sausalito! Steve, Barbara and Matt from m/v Koda and m/v Sudden Inspiration, arrived in their dinghy  ~ they had seen us enter Sausalito and came over to visit.  I love how wakes cross unexpectedly in the cruising life!

Frank, Steve, Mary Grace, Matt and Barbara.

As if all of this wasn’t enough, our son, Clayton, was also traveling through San Francisco during the same time frame and he arrived a couple of weeks into our SF visit.  My heart was overflowing with gratitude that all of us could be together on Ticket to Ride!

Gidget, Hunter, Clayton and Biz chillin’ during the rainy San Francisco day.

In additional to lovely surprises, mother nature offered up her own event.  While Hunter, Clayton, friend Biz, and puppy Gidget were visiting in SF, we experienced a “bomb cyclone” combined with an “atmospheric river.” This was the first time I had heard the either of these terms!

The term bomb cyclone was first used in the 1940’s by meteorologists at the Bergen School of Meteorology. They coined the term to describe storms over the sea that grew very quickly.  A bomb cyclone is defined as a storm that rapidly intensifies and includes a pressure drop of at least 24 millibars over 24 hours.

Atmospheric rivers are sort of like ribbons in the atmosphere that carry water vapor. According to NOAA, these rivers are about 250 to 375 miles wide and can be more than 1,000 miles long. Apparently atmospheric rivers are fairly common in the Western US and just a few of these events a year cause up to half the annual precipitation on the West Coast.

49.8 k was the highest gust we recorded.

We experienced the combination of the bomb cyclone and atmospheric river in October while sitting in San Francisco Marina. Rain flooded the nearby streets and we saw consistent winds of 25+ knots and recorded a gust up to nearly 50 knots.  Scripps researchers recorded waves up to 60 feet high along the coast between California and Washington during this event. We experienced these winds and rain while tied up in a very protected marina. We were extremely thankful for a good location and a dry boat!

We took the opportunity to leave Ticket to Ride in Hunter’s capable hands and Frank and I flew to Annapolis for the Sailboat Show. We love to attend this show to see new boats and connect with friends. We had an absolute blast meeting up with fellow HH owners and seeing friends from former boat rallies or travels on the Atlantic side while living on Let It Be.  We even met up with Tommy, our Hawaii friend and crew member and Pearl, also a Hawaiian friend! We were able to see David and Amy of s/v Starry Horizons who had completed a world circumnavigations since our last meeting.

Melissa, Catherine, Mary Grace and Tyffanee enjoying some laughs at the boat show.

Once again, Kevin and Susan of s/v Radiance welcomed us into their home and allowed us to freeload with them while we were in Annapolis. I cannot think of two more welcoming or fun people!

There is always fun to be had when s/v Radiance is hosting.

Back in San Francisco, we prepared to sail to Long Beach where we returned to the dock in Alamitos Bay where TTR was first delivered in January of 2019. More reunions were had and a few future HH boat owners came to check out TTR. It was really great to see our Morrelli and Melvin friends once again! They were very complimentary of how well Ticket to Ride looks and performs after adding 20,000nm to her keels. 

Our stop in Alamitos was quick because we wanted to jump to San Diego where we would once again meet up with Clayton, Biz and Gidget. Plus we were leaving from San Diego to go to a family reunion for Frank’s family.

The family reunion was great! We shared laughter, memories, love and plenty of food! Special thanks to Emily who planned and purchased all of the food!

We enjoyed an excellent weekend with Frank’s family!

While traveling, I also had a quick (like 24 hour) visit with my brother, Jeff, and I was able to meet my grandniece for the first time!

Jeff with his granddaughter, Coco.

Back in San Diego, we spent a lot of time on projects. TTR had spent months in cold, humid climates with little TLC, so we took the opportunity to “de-Alaska” the boat. This meant specific things, like hand scrubbing all of the window blinds to remove any mold created by condensation, cleaning outdoor cushions where they could actually dry, cleaning and lubricating the mainsail track cars and routine maintenance like oil changes, cleaning/lubing winches and clutches, etc.

Mary Grace cleaning mainsail cars.

We also did some unusual things….. TTR’s boom had developed a squeak at the gooseneck and Frank and Clayton went to town removing the pin, then cleaning and greasing the connections. AND, that squeaky nuisance is gone! No more noise from the gooseneck as the boom pivots.

Thanksgiving was low key but delicious. Typical boaters, we had to improvise with the turkey – I forgot to get string to tie to turkey legs, so Clayton trussed it up with seizing wire! Between a former orthodontist and a mechanical engineer, we know wires!

Clayton using seizing wire to truss the turkey.

San Diego was a very busy time as we completed jobs, tried to purchase spares in advance of our departure to Mexico and met up with cruising friends we had met in Mexico and even one of my former tennis partners from Dallas. (Thank you, Cat, for making time to visit!) I continue to be amazed at how busy we remain even though we are retired. Definitely no time for boredom!

Family, waves, picnic and puppy make for a pretty perfect day.

Our time with Clayton, Biz and Gidget was limited by our focus on accomplishing what needed to be done, but we are truly thankful for the time we had with them.

Pictures of cute little Gidget – because you KNOW I’m going to include puppy pictures if I can!

If you have read this far, you know way more about our daily lives than you probably wish to know, but we appreciate your sticking with us.  I will revert to publishing our Alaska journals as that state truly stands out as a wonder among the many places we have traveled.

Dawn departure from San Diego on our way to Ensenada, MX

Wishing all of you a joyous, healthy and blessed 2022. We look forward to sharing our travels in Mexico and hopefully on to French Polynesia. If you would like to hear from us more often, please see us on Facebook or Instagram. All the best in 2022!

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