Category Archives: Ticket to Ride
One of the mantras of a cruiser is to write your schedule in sand because the weather dictates departure dates. Not so for racing sailors.
The class before us jockeying around the start line.
We were scheduled to depart Newport Beach on Sunday, March 17th and regardless of the weather, the race would begin. However, at the last minute our race start was moved up to Saturday and the only other boat in our class bowed out of the race. We believe the forecasted lack of wind was the reason for their withdrawal.
We had “six souls” on board TTR for the race and we divided into two groups of three for watches. Although most race boats seem to keep a four hours watch schedule, we asked our crew to take one 6 hour watch each night and two three hour watches during the day.
I don’t know if everyone liked that rotation, but it has worked for Frank and me when we are passaging without others on board because we get one longer period of sleep which helps us feel rested.
Gino looks on as Rogan goes up the mast.
Early in the race, Rogan went up the mast of TTR to make certain all the lines and sails looked good and that the hardware was nicely tightened.
Gino, James and I took the first night watch from 7 pm to 1 am and Frank, Rogan and Kristen took the 1am to 7 am shift.
Moonrise was beautiful at the start of my evening watches.
I’m not sure who had the bad mojo on our watch, but on several nights the wind dropped from reasonable to almost nothing. Our instruments actually read “0.0” for several minutes at a time before jumping all the way to 1knot. You know the wind is light when you are excited to see 3 knots of true wind speed.
Though I would have enjoyed better winds during our watch, I learned a lot from Gino and James as they discussed tactics to optimize the conditions.
Gino used a flash light to check sail trim at night and I was able to watch the path of his light and try to learn by observing the areas he checked and the changes he made based on his observations.
Wide open sunset at sea.
From my perspective it seemed like each night about 15 minutes before our watch ended, the wind would improve, we would set the sail trim, then Frank’s shift would take over the helm.
Once Frank’s group took over the watch, very few adjustments were made to the sails for the next few hours! That makes for an easy watch, if a little uninteresting.
Looking at the speeds and miles covered you would think Frank, Rogan and Kristen were the heroes on board, but my watch was really helpful for four reasons: 1. I had a lot of sail raising and trimming practice, 2. The watch went quickly because we were constantly changing sails and trim 3. I learned a lot by listening and observing Gino and 4. It was easier to sleep during our off watch time because Frank’s group hardly had to adjust the sails while we were sleeping!
Gino toasting sunset with a touch of merlot.
We managed to be very comfortable on TTR during the race and we all sat down to dinner each night. I am pretty certain this is the first time Gino had a glass of wine while ‘racing’ and I know that was true for Rogan.
Thanks for this pic of Frank, Gino!
Most race boats don’t grill hamburgers during the race! But comfort and speed blend well on Ticket To Ride.
Happy birthday, Gino!
We had the added pleasure of celebrating Gino’s birthday during the race. Laura Morrelli snuck a tiramisu on board before we left and we all enjoyed the treat.
For those who are interested in the numbers here are a few and I am including our log so you can see just how light the wind was and our notes during the race.
Nautical Miles: About 900 (sorry forgot to note that) Official Duration: 5 days 17 hours 47 minutes Average speed: 6.5k Max speed: 24.3k Sea Conditions: very mild.
By far our most common sail configuration was the mainsail and reacher.
Reacher, jib and mainsail at one time.
One night Gino, James and I added the staysail to try and maximize the tiny puffs of wind. That configuration lasted several hours.
We also had one day when the wind and waves piped up so we dropped the reacher and flew the jib; we had a great time at the helm as we practiced surfing TTR down the waves.
A bright moon reflecting off the water and boom.
We were really fortunate that the moon was waxing and the skies were clear so night time was well illuminated.
As we sailed south, the water temperature increased slightly and we knew it was getting warmer when we began seeing flying fish.
One afternoon Kristen spotted something floating in the water and thought it might be a log.
In the pic, the seal’s flipper is down again.
It turned out to be a seal floating on its’ back with a flipper pointed up acting a bit like a sail. The seal was totally chilled floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I really wished I could pass him an umbrella drink to rest on his tummy as he drifted along!
This pod of dolphins jumped a lot!
We also so dolphins several times jumping in the distance. Only once or twice did a dolphin play near our bow. It seems like the Caribbean dolphins were more likely to swim with our boat, but we have seen a greater number of dolphins on the west coast.
We saw the blow of a whale once or twice and James saw one breach, but I didn’t see it.
All in all the Race to Cabo was a great time. Everyone on board contributed so the work loads were shared. Best of all, everyone meshed well, there was good input for decisions, the personalities complimented one another and no one on board dominated the discussions or decisions.
The whole race thing is a different mind set than Frank and I are accustomed to and I am not certain how I feel about it. I like that races force you to be committed to sailing and making use of the environment and wind. BUT I found it really frustrating to be at a complete standstill when we have two perfectly good engines ready to move us forward.
Though I have no experience, I think day races would be more interesting since the strategy of each boat is apparent much more quickly, thus the reward or penalty is more immediate.
We were on our way to Cabo with or without the race and I am glad we participated in it. Since we were racing what is actually our home, our team motto was “Party Not Podium.”
Ironically, we earned the podium but arrived too late for the party!
With only ourselves in the class we managed to take the award for first place!
Celebrating our finish of the NHYC Race to Cabo!
Frank and I are very impressed with how well TTR sails in light wind. The ability to sail in light air is one of the features that sold us on the HH55.
Yes, TTR can sail fast, but it is also exceedingly pleasant to sail well in lower wind speeds and calmer seas.
Several people had asked for details about our Race to Cabo experience. I hope this answers your questions. If not, ask and I’ll try to answer what I missed.
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Over the last few weeks we have had time to sail with a lot of different people on TTR. Many come aboard with an HH representative or a Morrelli & Melvin rep to decide if this is the type of boat they want. Others are friends/future HH owners. And happily, sometimes our kids and their friends visit.
I know some photos while under sail would be a nice addition, but we are still pretty focused on improving our sailing of this boat so I don’t usually stop for pictures. But I did get this quick clip of a friend enjoying a comfortable sail on TTR:
A perfect place for a spot of coffee.
We have had the opportunity to sail to Catalina Island one weekend by ourselves and one weekend with friends.
Avalon Harbor at sunset.
When the friends on board are future HH owners, Frank and I get a kick out of watching how often the measuring tape comes out so comparisons to the boat plan and our physical boat can be made. And anytime a hatch is opened, every man on board gets in the mix whether they want an HH or not!
“Let’s just see where the shower pump is located.”
Jeff and Harry deciding where the wiring will run on their HH cats.
Tyffanee and Melissa also took advantage of being on board this HH cat and learned a bit about the electronic equipment on TTR.
Becoming familiar with the C-zone
The weather cleared so we strolled about the shops in Avalon and hiked one side of the harbor. The up side to all the rain we have seen in California is that the whole island of Catalina is lush and flowering! Here are some things that caught my eye:
This cactus photo bombed my picture of Avalon Harbor.
Do you think those will all bloom?
Just a pretty shot with vibrant colors.
Hmmm, is the car dumping rocks downhill?
Pausing high in the hills of Catalina.
The pretty weather allowed me to stroll out on the breakwater at Avalon and get a decent picture of Ticket to Ride chilling on the mooring ball. It is still hard to believe that this pretty boat is ours!
It was fun to see TTR moored!
One thing that delights us about TTR is that she is extremely comfortable under sail. Even when we are clipping along at 15 knots, the boat slices through the water and the ride is easy. Also, I do not hear any noise in the rigging on Ticket to Ride. On our last boat, Frank worked hard to reduce the creaking and squeaking of the mast, boom and shives. His efforts helped, but even at her best, LIB was noisy compared to TTR.
TTR’s tall black mast seems to be a beacon for sailors, especially racing sailors. We have had many folks follow the mast and stroll down the dock or stop by in their dinghy just to see Ticket to Ride. It has been interesting to meet so many people. What I have learned is that I know nothing about the racing side of sailing! But TTR draws the racers and they are willing to put up with my lack of knowledge just because they like the looks of TTR and can imagine how well she performs.
These days we are pushing hard to get Ticket to Ride settled as best we can before we shove off for Cabo San Lucas. We have joined the NHYC to Cabo Race but our motto is “Party not podium!” The meaning of our slogan is that we are joining the race so we can meet a lot of nice people and enjoy the festivities. We do not have any illusions or plans to win.
In addition to ourselves, Gino, Rogan, Kristen and James will be on board TTR. This “race” to Cabo should be a great chance to get some miles under our keel and learn a bit about sailing from experienced folks.
Our start date for the race is St. Patrick’s Day so I have advised crew members to bring green! Until then, our days will be filled with details like meeting the race safety requirements, getting our paperwork in order for Mexico, making sure our communications systems are all working properly, preparing food before the passage, etc.
It will be very difficult for me to leave California as I have loved having the opportunity to spend time with our sons. But I’m fairly confident that the wind and waves (kite boarding and surfing) will entice them to come see us in Mexico. (At least that is what I keep telling myself to prevent sadness from setting in.)
We are also looking forward to exploring Mexico, being back on the hook and getting in some snorkeling and diving.
Thanks for stopping by to read our blog. I hope things will slow down a bit and I can write more often, but we shall see. If you want to hear from us more often, please check out our FB page.
So, the pace has not slowed one bit since TTR was put in the water!
After waiting several days for the port of LA to have room to unload the ship carrying Ticket to Ride, we had to wait four more days to have the mast raised on our boat. The crane operators at the yard next to the marina do not work in the rain, so we waited and waited for the rain to stop.
We were not idle as Chris (of HH), Scott (of Rigging Projects) and Francois (of Pochon) worked on various items around the boat preparing for the mast stepping, setting up electronics, instructing us about the boat, etc.
The mast on the HH55 is different from many sailboats in that the shrouds and stays are prefabricated from carbon fiber strands and are a fixed length. The mast is actually on a hydraulic lift and its’ height is adjusted to make the tension of the rigging correct.
Here are a few photos from the day we stepped the mast on TTR:
Chris attaching the crane to the mast.
Lift off from the cradle.
Swinging the mast over to land so lines and electronics can be sorted out.
Lauren and Scott guiding the mast onto the stands.
Once the mast was on the stands, Scott and Chris worked on the lines and attachments while Francois worked on the electronics on the mast (radar, antennae, etc). Lauren and I waxed the mast since this is the most accessible it will be for quite a while. I know, kinda strange to wax a brand new mast, but one last coat might help protect it and keep it shining.
After all of the electrical conduit, halyards, etc were run, reviewed and settled, it was time to lift the mast and actually put it up on TTR.
The first crane was adequate for moving the mast to shore, but it was not tall enough to easily lift this 80 foot mast into proper position so a bigger crane was brought to the yard.
Raising the mast again to move it back onto TTR.
Frank, Gio and Lauren have guidelines attached to spreaders to help orient the mast.
The taller crane allowed the mast to be completely upright while moving.
Francois is in the hatch to guide electronics wires downward.
Scott and Chris preparing the jack and shims for the mast.
Scott attaching the second shroud.
Chris attaching the forestay and third point of balance for the mast.
Checking the pressure and shims before the mast is finally lowered into place.
Still in the yard, Scott goes up the mast to check out the rigging.
In this picture you can see that the boom has not yet been attached. That was done the following morning while I was away so I don’t have pictures. But I can tell you that a bridle was made using the topping lift. The bridle was attached to the center of the boom and used to lift the boom so it could be attached to the gooseneck.
The boom is on, mainsail attached and Scott is checking things out again.
After running a few errands, it was very exciting to come back to the dock and see Ticket to Ride dressed with a mast, boom and mainsail!
We were very fortunate because although there was some rain, the next couple of days the winds cooperated well and allowed us to progressively test TTR and the rigging. Our first day out was fairly mild and was used to make sure all the lines were running properly, the rigging was well tuned, the reefs and all the sails were working well.
Of course we let the professionals take the lead and Chris, Scott, Gino, Erik, Mark, Gio, Lauren et al took the reins. Every sail configuration was tried a few times. This crew was accustomed to working together and the sails were raised and dropped, adjusted and reefed, tweaked and tested more quickly than seemed possible.
By the third day of sea trials, the wind had filled in and we had TTR stretching out like a race horse in the home stretch. We saw a top speed of 24.7 knots speed over ground!
Kind of long, but skipping the hull on TTR.
The boat feels surprisingly stable even at high speeds! When we were skipping the hull and on the verge of flying it, Ticket to Ride felt secure and solid. But I was very glad the pros had the reins and knew how to immediately de-power if necessary.
With sea trials over, it’s time for Frank and me to learn how to sail TTR without extra hands on board. HH understands that this type of performance sailboat takes some learning and they allow Chris and Lauren to stick around to take care of issues that arise and to teach us about our sailboat.
Having Lauren and Chris with us for a little while has been invaluable! In addition to being good company, they are patient and excellent teachers. We are truly fortunate that HH provides this service and that Chris and Lauren are so talented!
Thanks for reading our blog. It has really been busy on TTR and I have not had time to write, so if you are interested, please look at our FB page for more regular postings.
If you haven’t been checking our HH55 Ticket to Ride Facebook page, you might not know that after seeing the container ship holding TTR anchored in the harbor for 7 days, our sailboat was finally unloaded! The process of unloading a sailboat and setting it up again has been very interesting! Well, I have found it interesting, but it is my home, so that could add to the appeal.
First, I must tell you that the week Ticket to Ride was delivered, L.A. was experiencing more rain than usual. In fact they received almost as much rain that week as they usually receive in a whole year!!!
This was not perfect weather, but we were so happy that TTR was arriving, it didn’t bother us a bit during the off loading process.
Chris Bailet, Gino Morrelli, Frank, Mary Grace, Mark Womble, Scott Gray
Chris Bailet, HH commissioning skipper, Gino Morrelli and Mark Womble of M&M and Scott Gray of Rigging Projects and Frank and I arrived at the port bright and early wearing our foul weather gear. We were escorted to the container ship immediately. TTR was in the hold of the APL Sentosa which was in the process of being unloaded by cranes.
(Video of a crane unloading a container.)
I was amazed at how huge and fast and organized the process of offloading the containers actually occurs. But when you consider that the APL Sentosa can carry 13,892 containers, they better load and unload quickly.
Midway up the stacked containers – the photo doesn’t really capture it.
We climbed ladders and gangways in the Sentosa until we were about midway up the height of the stacked containers where the ships’ bosun met us and unlocked the doors where TTR was secured.
TTR was snuggly wrapped and strapped down inside a locker all to herself.
Our first step was to unwrap the lower half of the shrink wrap protecting Ticket to Ride so the U.S. Customs officers could board and inspect her. We were not allowed to board TTR until Customs gave us the all clear.
Seeing “Ticket to Ride” written on the stern for the first time.
Once TTR was inspected, the crane operator removed the three sections of roof covering Ticket to Ride. Chris Bailet, commissioning captain for HH Catamarans, had wisely directed us to leave the top of the shrink wrap on the boat until the container tops were lifted. The noise of that process was deafening and dirt and rust rained down on the boat. I was super happy Chris had told us to wait to unwrap the boat!
After the roof was gone, we unwrapped the remainder of the protective plastic and unstrapped TTR from the Sentosa. The crane hooked into the HH shipping cradle and began rising to tighten the straps while Chris verified that TTR was properly balanced before actually lifting her out of the ship.
Shrink wrap off and ready to lift.
Chris had just signaled the ‘go ahead’ to lift TTR when suddenly the electricity to the whole port of L.A. went out!
How could that even happen?
Mort, the foreman from the port, told me that almost anytime it rains they experiences ‘brown outs.’ Seriously?!
We were surprised and disappointed the electricity had gone out but we were really, really glad the outage happened before TTR was lifted!!! Can you imagine the stress of having your boat suspended 100 feet above ground and having the electricity go out?!
About 30 minutes later the electricity was restored, the crane was recalibrated and the lifting process began again. While we waited for the electricity to be restored, the wind and rain settled down which made hoisting Ticket to Ride a good bit safer.
TTR was gently lifted out of the confines of the ship and hoisted over the side of the Sentosa above the concrete loading area of the port.
(Video of TTR being moved sideways above the port loading road.)
The crane move sideways, parallel to the Sentosa until it was aft of the container ship and across from an area of the dock open to the water.
Gino Morrelli, Mary Grace and Frank.
Since TTR was still strapped to the shipping cradle, she had to be lowed to the peer and unstrapped so she could float free when the platform was in the water. Chris removed straps and once more verified the balance of the boat on the cradle while Frank and I took pictures and celebrated that TTR was finally here in the States and almost in the water.
Finally entering the water!
We watched as Ticket to Ride was lifted one last time and moved toward the water, then we scrambled over to the Towboat USA boat which ferried us the few meters over to TTR while she was still slightly suspended in the water on the cradle.
Chris made short work of starting the engines and making sure all was well aboard before asking the crane operator to release TTR to the water.
Chris piloting TTR away from the port of L.A.
Amazingly, after TTR’s 7,035 mile trip on the Sentosa, she was in perfect condition and the engines started up without a hitch.
The rain had included a good bit of wind and kicked up the sea state, even behind the breakwater it was quite rough as we motored to the Alamitos Bay Marina. But HH did an excellent job of securing the mast and boom and they didn’t budge a bit even with the steep waves.
Waves breaking over the breakwater.
If you look beyond the TowBoat, you can see the spray of the waves pounding against the breakwater. The swells were pretty big where there were breaks in the sea walls but even with the slippery shipping rudders, Chris handled TTR without any difficulty.
Needless to say all of us exhaled a sigh of relief after Ticket to Ride was off the ship, back in the water and safely at the dock.
Next up would be swapping out the shipping rudders for our spade rudders, stepping the mast and tuning the rigging. BUT California had another surprise in store for us…. the shipyard won’t operate the cranes in the rain so we actually had to wait four days before we could begin that process. Which I will share in the next blog.
After waiting what felt like a very long time for the delivery of TTR, Frank and I are excited to feel like this dream is really coming to fruition. We couldn’t wait to move on board, so we spent that very first night on Ticket to Ride and have been here every night since.
We are thrilled to be back on a floating home and hear the sounds of water at night as we drift off to sleep.
Once more we must express our sincere gratitude to the many people who have and are helping us with TTR. Hats off to HH Catamarans for building our very special home with excellent quality and high standards. AND for understanding the need for and providing the help of the commissioning team. A huge thank you to Morrelli and Melvin for designing such a great catamaran and incorporating the modifications we wanted so TTR would suit our needs very well. Innumerable thanks to Chris Ballet and Lauren Battaile as they spearhead the commissioning and teach us to make this cat purr – or roar!
Thanks so much for stopping by to read our blog. We welcome your comments. For more regular information, please visit our FB page.
I would love this post to be about the arrival of HH55 Ticket to Ride, but it is about delay instead.
I wish that was the California coast in the background, but…
Unfortunately this photo is not TTR with Los Angeles in the background. This is from our time sailing in Xiamen, China.
We have been tracking the container ship carrying TTR as it crossed the China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. We were excited to see it getting close to LA and knew the ship was arriving around January 7th.
But close is all we are at the moment.
So close and yet so far….
This is a screen shot showing the location of the container ship carrying TTR. The ship arrived on January 7th, but the port is backed up and the vessel is anchored just outside of the unloading docks.
Yesterday we were told “our” container ship would dock on Friday and the contents would be unloaded on Monday, January 14th. About a week later than expected, but we had an expected date.
This morning we received notice that although the contents of the ship had been released, Customs has pulled back on that decision and wants to inspect the ship. I have no idea why this decision has been made. I only know that it means TTR will not be unloaded Monday.
Our agent has assured us that all the paperwork is in order and has been turned into the authorities. We have done all we can to make the delivery go smoothly.
We no longer have an off load date.
So now we just wait. And we wait. And wait.
Thanks for reading our blog. We hope to have better news soon. Please look to our Facebook page for more up to date information.
Sailing TTR in China
Needless to say we have been impatiently awaiting the delivery of our new HH55 Catamaran. We signed a contract in early September 2017 and waiting for Ticket to Ride to arrive has been a challenge.
Let It Be floating in the Bahamian water.
That isn’t to say we have not enjoyed ourselves while TTR was under construction! We absolutely loved our last sailboat, Let It Be, and the exploring we did on her.
Watson Falls, Oregon
Having a chance to drive around the U.S. and see so much of this country has been really eye opening and we have seen amazingly beautiful places.
Crater Lake, Oregon. And yes, that blue is the actual color of the water in certain light!
However, we do miss living on the water and we are super excited to move on board TTR.
Based on what we heard today, the container ship carrying Ticket to Ride will arrive in Los Angeles on January 8th!
TTR wrapped and ready to be loaded on the container ship.
Once the ship arrives in Los Angeles, TTR will be unloaded onto a dock where we will dispense with the shrink wrap currently protecting her. After the shrink wrap is removed, TTR will be lowered into the water and we will motor away to our temporary marina in Long Beach.
The mast will remain on the coach roof while we motor to the marina. Stepping the mast requires a crane which we were able to schedule for Friday.
HYM employs the services of a young captain, Chris, who will help us commission TTR and make her ready for sailing and life aboard. Chris has been involved with the commissioning of all of the HH55 cats and has experience commissioning and racing the HH66. So in addition to making sure everything is functioning properly on TTR, we are counting on Chris to teach us a few tricks and secrets about handling the HH55.
Racing the HH66 Nala. (Photo from HH Catamarans)
Although the HH55 is built to fly a hull like in the picture above, that is not of interest to me, and I will not be asking Chris for advice on this maneuver! (Yet.)
In addition to Chris’s proficiency, experts from Rigging Projects and Pochon Electronics will be on hand to set the rigging properly and get all the systems up and running.
Fortunately for us, Morrelli and Melvin office in Newport Beach which is only a stones throw away from Long Beach. That means we will have additional support and knowledge from M&M, who designed the HH catamarans.
We will certainly offer greater detail about what is happening on TTR as things progress and I have time to write about the experience of taking delivery of our HH55. But for now, getting TTR ready will keep us busy for the next little while!
What a fun way to begin 2019!
Check out our FB page if you would like to see more frequent posts about TTR.
Thanks for reading our blog. And thank you for hanging out on land with us while we were between boats. We look forward to getting our sea legs back and sharing our cruising lifestyle once again!
“It isn’t the size of the tree that matters, it’s the love in your heart that counts!”
Quotes made up by me. 🙂
Our Christmas tree this year is 20″ tall!
We hope you have a Merry Christmas this year and we especially hope it is a blessed one.
Surprise! We will be mountain biking in Santa Cruz!
Our Christmas be spent in the RV in Santa Cruz, CA and will include our kids this year. Since we consider them, and our families, our greatest blessing, we know Christmas will be wonderful.
Just one of the amazing things we saw traveling the U.S. (Arizona)
Needless to say, 2018 has been a year of change for us, but thankfully they have been good changes and changes of choice. We have thoroughly enjoyed our time exploring the U.S. since selling Let It Be back in May.
Photo taken on a bike ride in the Dolomites, Italy
Another pretty view from our VBT bike tour.
In addition to traveling the U.S., we had the opportunity to go to Italy for an excellent bike trip through Vermont Bike Tours. A special thank you to Terrie and Brad for inviting us to join them and their friends. The people were really fun and the places we visited were great.
Frank at the helm of TTR.
We also traveled to China to oversee the progress of TTR and to sail our boat. We expended a LOT of energy in the building process of Ticket to Ride throughout 2018 and we can hardly wait for her delivery to the West Coast which is expected just days into the new year!
TTR being hoisted to the shipping dock.
TTR is the culmination of the vision of Morrelli and Melvin being brought to life by HH Catamarans, with slight changes to accommodate our specific preferences. There are far too many individuals who contributed to this project to name them all, but we are very grateful to every single person who has helped us along the way.
Ticket to Ride wrapped and ready to load on a container ship.
As we conclude 2018, we are thankful for our many blessings and for the opportunities we have to see so much and meet people from all over the world. We are thankful for prayers answered, especially those for friends who have battled illnesses or who have lost homes to natural disasters. We are conscious of our losses this year, especially of our sweet dog, Captain.
As we transition into 2019, we do so with thanks and great excitement. We can hardly wait to move onto Ticket to Ride! For us, there is something magical about living on the water and we look forward to doing so again.
Thank you to those who have traveled with us through our blog this year, especially since our focus was temporarily directed away from cruising which is the basis for our journaling. We look forward to learning about our new boat and resuming the cruising lifestyle and we hope you enjoy our musings as we move forward.
Once again, Merry Christmas to all who celebrate the birth of Christ and blessings to those who celebrate differently. We hope 2019 is filled with joy and contentment for you.
As always, thank you for visiting our blog. If you would like to hear from us more often, please check our FB page: HH55 Ticket to Ride. We look forward to returning to the water in 2019!
We anxiously await the delivery of our new home.
Frank and I have just returned from three weeks in China and what is probably our last visit to that country. When our oldest son decided to study in China, I was apprehensive about his being so far away in a country where I could not communicate if he had trouble and whose government is so different from ours in the U.S. But having now visited China several times, I admit I feel very safe there. I have never felt I was in danger of anything other than getting lost.
Our visits to China have been very positive. The people are nice and willing to help, though we have to play charades to ask a question, order food or generally get around. Sometimes the charades, combined with the small amount of English a local might speak will allow us to communicate. But often, our communication doesn’t really work. If you have any interest in visiting China, I strongly recommend a guide if you don’t speak Mandarin.
On the whole, I find the Chinese to be a happy population. I see a lot of laughter and I enjoy how playful and unsophisticated some of their interactions appear. I also enjoy their love of cartoon-like characters. Somehow these things make me feel that the people here are young at heart and it makes me wish I could communicate with them more.
HH has taken excellent care of us during each of our visits, making sure we have transportation and are very well fed! We sincerely appreciate the service and care HH has provided and we will miss seeing the staff who has always been welcoming and accommodating.
This trip, Frank and I spent most of our time in Xiamen at the HH factory. If we weren’t there, we did not venture very far from our hotel but instead spent our down time studying for our next level of captains licensing or working out in the gym or enjoying the scenery from high in the hotel.
I wish I could capture the flavor of China to share with you, but the variety of experiences is broad. Instead, I will share a few photos I took while walking or being driven by the HH driver. (Please excuse the less than excellent quality of the photos.)
Doors are an important feature of buildings.
Although Feng Shui is a concept I learned about only 15 years ago, it is entrenched in Chinese society and beliefs. According to this belief, direction and appearance of the front doorway is especially important because it allows energy to flow freely into the home and throughout the interior. Even on relatively modest homes or places of business, the doorways were often elaborate. I could only catch a couple as we were driving.
Landscape is lush and well maintained.
I don’t know if the soil is exceptionally good or if the Chinese have a special talent for gardening, but so much of the surroundings are beautifully tended and sculptured. The sides of highways were often tiered with a variety of plants, parks are sprinkled among high rises and flowers are often in planters outside of homes or businesses.
Although Xiamen has a ton of tall apartment buildings and buildings in general with the definite feel of a large population, there are also green spaces to relieve the density of the buildings. Admittedly, there are also many buildings with laundry drying from balconies, or tall, new buildings near shorter, older ones that look near collapse, so the city doesn’t feel pristine, but instead feels very much “lived in.”
Older buildings in foreground, newer buildings past the highway and green space mixed in.
But as I’ve said before, China is defined by both the old and new, the modern and the traditional. Daily life is a juxtaposition of repurposing old things and embracing new ones.
A belt driven engine of some kind.
A young woman was pedaling these wooden crates.
I’m not sure how this is steered.
In addition to these unique vehicles, there are plenty of new cars including some extremely expensive ones, but I would not like to navigate any of the roads myself. Lanes seems to be simply suggestions and not a hard and fast rule in China. I have never seen people drive cars SO close together, on purpose, without a bunch of horn honking. I have complete respect for the folks who drive in Xiamen!
More cranes than Dallas!
For a while, when we lived in Texas, we used to say the state bird was the crane because there were so many building cranes being used for construction. But I am certain there were more building cranes in use in Xiamen than I ever saw in Dallas!
Xiamen University is large complex of buildings and they are still adding facilities. I read that there are over 40,000 full time students at Xiamen University, though with such a large campus I never saw it look at all crowded although we passed it ever day on our way to the HH facility.
Xiamen University is huge and brand new.
All of the red roofs in the background are part of Xiamen University.
Interesting architecture on newer buildings.
Zoom in on the necklace, earrings and hat!
I just had to throw in this photo session we saw while visiting Piano Island. I have no idea what the purpose of the ‘shoot’ was, but I found this woman’s whole outfit intriguing. Now I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to assume that my fashion taste was anything like that of most advertisements I see, so I am not assuming that this is representative of the average Chinese consumer. But I did love the mixture of elements in this outfit! The bustier top combined with the socks and high heels, along with the power fist necklace and the giant earrings?! Pretty interesting.
To me, this speaks of the combination of sophistication yet playfulness I tried to allude to concerning the Chinese.
Please do NOT think I am being derogatory of the Chinese. That is not my intention. I am simply trying to show what I observed and interpreted as a childlike quality retained by the people that I found heartwarming and likable.
One last photo…. what do you notice is missing from our hotel?
Do you see a pattern here?
I had no idea why these floors were missing. Turns out the Chinese believe in avoiding what they consider unlucky. In this case, it is the number 4. Therefore there was not a 4th, 14th or 24th floor in our hotel. I’m not sure how they managed to eliminate three whole floors, but it was very tricky!
In conclusion, my initial concern for my son’s safety while he lived in China changed completely after I visited him there in 2013. Today, after several additional visits to China, I have become quite fond of many aspects of it, although I do not really know much about China because when language and reading are not understood, a culture cannot truly be absorbed. The only judgement I have is based on my interaction with those who could speak to me and my general impressions and intuition, both of which were favorable.
However, even if I could speak Mandarin, I would never trade the U.S. for China. Frank and I thoroughly missed our home country. We prefer the culture and manners of our native land and were happy to return.
Now that our last visit to the HH factory is completed, we are counting the days until Ticket to Ride will be delivered to the U.S. via container ship!
Thank you HH and Morrelli and Melvin for creating our awesome future home!
After a 15 hour flight we arrived in Xiamen, China at 6 am. Between a long flight and flying into a whole new day, we could have been tired, but our excitement to see Ticket to Ride in the water and ready to sail precluded any fatigue.
HH has been extremely generous on all of our visits and provides us with transportation so we never have to try to communicate our destination to a driver. A car arrives at our hotel, we say hello (almost the extent of our Mandarin) and we are whisked away to our destination.
This trip was no different and a driver picked us up at the airport. As soon as we dropped our luggage at the hotel and picked up Gino Morrelli, who had arrived the previous day, we headed out to see TTR.
China blends ancient and modern everywhere you look.
It was quite a thrill to see our boat floating in the harbor waiting for us to climb aboard! The culmination of more than a year of planning and monitoring the construction of our future home was incredibly exciting for us.
We have spent hours with Gino and Mark, of Morrelli and Melvin, refining the boat for our cruising needs and for sailing TTR with just Frank and me on board. Frank spent countless hours reviewing drawings HH created as the boat was being constructed. Thomas, Ricardo, Emma, James, Taka, Jessica and so many, many others at HH poured untold numbers of hours into actually fabricating this vessel and we were finally going to sail her!
The weather was a bit overcast, but the winds were perfect for our purposes. The first day we had light breezes, the second day were a little stronger and the third day the winds gusted as high as 23 knots. The progressive increase in the wind was perfect for testing the rigging on Ticket to Ride. Matt, from Rigging Projects, was on board with us the first three days examining and tweaking the rigging to make sure everything was stable and strong.
TTR flying the full main and solent.
Mark, with Doyle Sails, joined us for a bit to review the fit of our new canvas. With the exception of a few minor changes needed on our mainsail, we are extremely pleased with the fit of our new Doyle sails.
Frank, Mark and Matt messing with sails.
After Matt was comfortable with the rigging, and we had spent two days progressively testing the boat, Gino, Thomas, Matt and James took advantage of the winds and pushed TTR a bit to see what she could do.
TTR felt solid and stable even at 19.5 knots!!!
And sail her we did!! As you can see from the screen shot above, we managed to get TTR moving along nicely. This shot was taken while we were sailing the full mainsail and the solent…. imagine if we had had the reacher up?!
David and Frank discussing boats as Gino helms.
The final day of sea trials, Frank and I had a chance to “take the reins” on Ticket to Ride. Thomas walked us through raising the main and furling the solent and reacher. We certainly weren’t race boat crew fast, but we did manage to accomplish the tasks. Fortunately we didn’t have any issues, but I can tell you that TTR is ready to run! She can load up quickly and we will have to be very aware of changing wind conditions as TTR will ramp up much faster than Let It Be did.
HH is very conscientious about caring for our boat. The interior and exterior cushions are still wrapped in plastic, the floors are protected with cardboard, the cabinetry tops are protected, etc. As a result, I don’t have interior shots to share, but we are very pleased with the quality of the workmanship…. and with the colors we have chosen.
One of the challenges HH is facing right now is that the marina they used for sea trials is closed due to some financial issues. The result is that TTR is moored in the harbor and two people from HH stay on board at all times. Another example of the level of care taken to protect the HH boats.
Ricardo didn’t want to risk having the mooring ball damage or scratch TTR, so he wrapped the whole mooring ball in padding. I captured this shot of him refining his work.
Ricardo wraps the mooring ball to protect the boat.
The closure of the marina also makes access to the boat more challenging. Almost every time we went to TTR, we met the dinghy at a different spot on land. Frank and I actually find these changes funny and interesting, though I guess some people might be annoyed by it. Still, each time we catch the dinghy at a different location we are driven through a new and interesting part of Xiamen, so we kind of enjoy the adventure of not knowing what to expect each day.
Here is a picture of the steps we had to climb down to get into the bow of the dinghy our first day in Xiamen. Isn’t this a kick?!
That is our driver watching from above to make sure we are safely aboard.
While there are still a few bugs to iron out and finishing touches to complete, we are extremely happy with our HH55. We can hardly wait to actually move on board and resume our life as live aboard sailors.
Thanks so much for reading our page. If you want to hear from us more often, please visit our FB page: HH55 Ticket to Ride.
Nov. 1, 2009 – October 5, 2018
It is with the heaviest heart that I share the news that our sweet dog, Captain, has passed away. We received a phone call from the pet sitter late last Friday night and since then my world has been a much heavier one. The actual cause of death is still unresolved although we have had a necropsy (pet autopsy) performed. The information we received from the pet sitter and the results of the necropsy do not agree and not knowing the truth of what really happened to our girl has made her loss much more difficult for us.
However, my family and I are doing everything we can to remain positive and keep only good memories of our very special dog. Captain brought so much joy to us and to everyone she met, that we want to use her memory and love to prevent us from becoming bitter about not knowing what happened.
Please indulge me as I inundate this post with pictures of Captain and as we share some of the life lessons we learned from her…
We weren’t sure she would grow into her ears but she did!
Captain was always game to try anything we asked and as a result, we did nearly everything together. Looking back at pictures from her very short life shows the myriad of places she has been and the variety of experiences she had.
Wanna snorkel? Wanna hike? Wanna take a beach pic? YES! Anything!
Snow is fun… oh, but the tropics are great too!
Mom, I’ll help you stretch, then give you kisses.
In addition to helping us meet new people, Captain taught us some important lessons that we will remember and try to put into practice:
- Go to shore every day for a walk, to stroll the beach or just to be on shore.
- Jump and bark and wag your tail when you see your relatives.
- Look up in addition to down – there are things in the trees and sky.
- Stretch when you stand up in the morning and after a nap.
- When you are happy, bark for joy.
- Smell the roses, literally.
- You can’t truly enjoy life without getting dirty once in a while.
- Ask for hugs when you want them.
- Try new things.
- Persistence pays off.
- Let the people you love know you are happy to see them.
- Don’t stay sad or mad; live in the present!
Hey, it’s pretty outside. Wanna play?
See how good I am…. chillin’ at a beach bar.
Resting during a hike. Hitching a ride back from shore.
Protecting mom and dad from wild goats on Antigua.
Please let’s go for another dinghy ride!
Roll in the sand, then dig to the cool sand in the shade of the dinghy.
Getting into the spirit of Christmas.
Reading or helming, Cappy was a big help.
Captain’s blogs were the most popular ones.
It’s really hard to believe that Captain won’t be part of our future on s/v Ticket to Ride. Her loss has left a vacuum in our lives that will become more painful when we are in our usual routine and she isn’t with us.
Cappy smiling for a photo too.
Cap was enthusiastic about everything; and always wanted a front row seat!
We will miss meeting people because of her. We will miss having her bark from shore to alert the person on the boat that we were ready to be picked up after a walk. We will miss her alerting us to dolphins or people or flies or some interesting activity happening around us. We will miss her joy, her energy, her enthusiasm for any and everything.
I will miss those sweet eyes.
People we don’t know personally but read our blog would ask about Captain if we actually met them in person. We will miss our little ambassador who was the most popular being on the boat.
But we will focus on how lucky we were to love her and be loved by her.
We love you pretty girl. And we always will.
Thanks for reading our blog. To those who loved our Cappy-girl ~ thank you!