Category Archives: Ticket to Ride
TTR before her departure from Xiamen.
So let’s state the obvious first: cars are mass produced and before the first one appears on a showroom floor hundreds of prototypes have been well and truly tested. Then a bajillion cars are made and 99% of the time, any problem you take to your local dealer will have been addressed in another car before you arrive.
Boat builds are significantly fewer in number. The number of units of a “mass” production boat model built is still in the 100s after a couple of years.
Ticket to Ride is one of only four HH55s produced to date, and each boat is customized to the specifications of the buyer. Due to this customization, some of the issues we face on TTR are probably different from issues the other three HH55 catamarans have experienced.
In addition to the uniqueness of each boat, our catamaran is a little city unto itself that must safely carry us from one port to the next and provide all of our electrical, refrigeration, water, power and navigational needs.
Given these facts, it is unrealistic to think that every system on TTR, or any other new boat, would be functioning perfectly at the time of delivery.
La Paz under a full moon taken from where we are anchored.
Knowing we would have issues that needed to be addressed, we decided long before Ticket to Ride was delivered that we would spend a season living on board to figure out what is working and what needs fixing. That is the purpose of our trip to the Sea of Cortez.
First let us reiterate that we are very pleased with our boat. The quality and precision of the interior spaces; cabinetry, tech spaces, painted or veneered surfaces, etc are excellent and we are very impressed.
Ticket to Ride sails like a dream and is more capable than we are. I’m not saying we aren’t decent sailors, but this boat has excellent performance rigging, sails and equipment and she is set up to goooo.
But TTR does have some issues and in the spirit of sometimes removing our rose colored glasses, we will share a few of our current concerns and what is driving us to return to the U.S. for warranty work. To date we have had very good service and response from Hudson Yacht Group with our questions and concerns.
The nav desk on TTR.
Perhaps the most complicated and potentially problematic system on Ticket to Ride is CZone; the electronic control and monitoring system that is the brain of everything with an electron flow on TTR. CZone essentially is the replacement for the AC and DC switching panels seen on most boats plus a whole lot more. With this computer brain and the touch of a screen, through CZone we can program our electrical system to fit our current situation. For example, TTR’s CZone system has 6 programmable modes such as “day cruise” or “anchored home” that allow one to turn off and on all the systems used in those situations with the touch of only a single button. So when we press “day cruise,” VHFs, navigation screens, winches, etc all turn on when we touch that one button. CZONE is a beautiful thing and yes, there is the potential for problems. After many, many hours reading manuals and technical support phone time with CZone Tech Support of New Zealand, the CZone, Frank and Mary Grace are living in harmony.
The company responsible for our electronics package is Pochon out of France. At the time of writing our purchasing contract, we tried to convince HH to use a U.S. company for this pivotal installation. We knew the chances of having everything right from the start were slim because the system interactions and programming are complicated. We lost that battle and now we are facing a few disadvantages because our resource for fixing the electronics is a French speaking group in France. Between the inconvenience of differing time zones and language barriers, even issues discovered during the delivery phase are still not fixed.
Explaining the details of the electrical / electronic / navigational issues is complicated and more details than we think most of our readers would like to wade through. The summary is that we are having compatibility issues between CZone, B&G, Mastervolt and the Victron electronic components. We would really like an expert to come on board to resolve the problems. We also need that expert to communicate clearly so we can become more efficient at modifying the system to meet our particular needs.
Half of the solar panels on TTR.
The solar installation on TTR is excellent and our 1900 watts delivers so much power that we only run our generator once in a while to make sure it still works! The HH team did a first-rate job of adding the individual solar controllers Frank requested and as a result, our solar farm is producing about 80 percent of the energy we require! (The remainder is topped up by the engines when we motor.)
The wiring, neatness, detail and labeling of our boat electronics done at the HH Factory are amazing. Sailors who come on board and peek at our tech room are suitably impressed, as are we. However, there are a few glitches in the wiring that need to be addressed.
That is a pretty tech space!
There seems to be a multi-pronged issue with the wiring to our air conditioning units. Anytime we try to run the port ACs (the side of the master berth), a relay fails, the inverter/generator reads overload and the ACs quit completely. Frank has spent a lot of time trying to trace the issue and with the consultation of Jessica, HH engineer extraordinaire, he has replaced the same relay switch twice. Both of the new relays failed immediately. Our Northern Lights 9kw generator is powerful enough to run our ACs but the inverter isn’t recognizing the power coming from our generator and consistently shows “overload” and shuts down.
Related to this problem is that the generator and inverter/charger aren’t talking well even for basic charging of the batteries. If we try to charge the lithium batteries using the generator, the charger always shows “float” and never reads “bulk charge” even when the batteries are low enough to accept bulk charge. Frank has spent a lot of time talking to Victron and MasterVolt (inverter/charger and batteries respectively) and neither is willing to work through the problem with us ie, there is some finger pointing going on. Somewhere there is a wiring issue or a setting issue or a communication error in these units. This needs to be fixed as we won’t always be in sunny Mexico where solar power is an everyday full charge event.
We really like our B&G navigation/charting system but there are a few issues with it too. Our AIS and VHF systems are not working consistently and when they do work, they only broadcast or receive information for a maximum of 2- 2.5 miles. Considering our air draft is 88 feet, we should easily transmit and receive for at least 8 miles.
(AIS is an automatic identification system used on vessels to identify traffic. Notices of ships nearby show on the electronic chart and information about that vessel’s size, speed and closest point of approach can be seen. This is a big help when sailing at night and very important because we want large container ships to know we are out on the ocean with them.)
Our B&G autopilot, aka Jude, is mostly excellent. Jude can hold to a wind setting or a heading very well. She can follow a navigation route too. But sometimes Jude decides to change herself from navigating a route to just holding a heading… that would be like skipping a turn(s) when following directions.
Speaking of autopilots, we intentionally outfitted TTR with a completely separate back up autopilot system. Our primary one is on the port side and is working. Our redundant system is supposed to be installed on the starboard side but we have absolutely no reading from it and do not think it has been completely installed.
Also, we have recalibrated our electronic compasses several times and there still seems to be some discrepancies between the true compass readings and the electronic readings. We had our traditional compasses professionally swung before we left L.A. and we are confident that the error is in our electronic compasses. This has a bit of a domino effect and can cause calculated electronic information to be wrong. Frank is confident this issue involves magnetic interference and relocation is the answer. The problem is finding a 6 meter NMEA 2000 cable in Mexico.
Small things still need to be addressed on TTR as well. Some of these include:
~ a light switch mix up where two unrelated lights turn on/off by the same switch.
~ the enclosure around our helm station was made sooo tight that we cannot get it zipped all around, even when we had three people working together.
~ the oven on the stove sometimes goes out without any apparent reason.
~ there is a leak from a vent box in the engine room that allows seawater into the area when we have following seas. (HH is fabricating and sending us a replacement to fix this problem.)
This is not an exhaustive list of things that need to be corrected on Ticket to Ride, but it does give you an idea of the types of issues we need to resolve when we get back to the U.S.
We must make a very special mention of Thomas and Riccardo of the HH Team. These two men have done an amazing job of e-mailing with us, trying to troubleshoot our issues from the other side of the world. They have been extremely prompt and thorough in their responses and we are truly grateful. It is their responsiveness that keeps us positive that these issues will get resolved.
We are currently achored in La Paz, Mexico, preparing to move south to Cabo San Lucas where we will wait for a good weather window to sail back north toward Ensenada, Mexico and eventually California.
Frank is trying to get a few things resolved on our Spectra water maker before we leave here. Yes, there are a few bugs relating to the water maker, but so much progress has been made with it that I am not even listing it as a problem anymore. However, kudos to Spectra WaterMaker support and Riccardo of HH. They have been extremely responsive to Frank’s e-mails and phone calls and so far we have been able to make water all along even with the problems!! (Everyone knock on wood, please!)
Phew, so there you have another “report” from TTR. I promise, the next post will be full of pretty sights from the Sea of Cortez.
Sunset from our anchorage in Isla Coronados.
Thank you for reading our blog. Our posts are pretty sporadic right now because our connectivity is hit or miss here in Mexico. I try to post to the FB page to at least share some of the beauty of this area but I am limited by access. Thank you for stopping by.
This post is long on sailing information and short on photos, but those who want to know about the HH55 Catamaran might find it interesting.
Ticket To Ride was offloaded from the container ship on January 14th and life has been busy since then…in a good way.
The first two months were all about commissioning our HH55 and having people visit the boat. TTR is one of only 4 HH55s on the water, and the first one on the West Coast of the U.S., therefore several people came to see the boat and sail on her. We were happy to meet new people and help Hudson Yacht Group and Morrelli & Melvin show off their 55’ design.
On March 16th we left LA with the Newport Beach Yacht Club Race to Cabo and we arrived in Cabo San Lucas on March 22nd.
After our last guests departed on March 30th, it was time to settle into life on board Ticket To Ride and figure out just how we feel about her.
Hands down the answer is that we are pretty much in love with our new home. We enjoyed sailing our Fountaine Pajot Helia 44, Let It Be, but we wanted to find a catamaran that was faster, sailed upwind and had a tad more space.
We found exactly what we were looking for in the HH55. The fit and finish of TTR is great and we are very comfortable. However, some boats are built to be very comfortable but they sail like dogs. Happily, this boat can really sail!
True wind angle: 134 degrees, true wind speed: 10.6k, SOG: 9.3k, boat speed: 9.6k
We have now had several experiences sailing Ticket To Ride at various wind angles and we love her performance. TTR’s sharp reverse bows allow her to cut through the water cleanly and the dagger boards help maintain her course without much slippage at all.
One afternoon we left Ensenada Grande to sail to Isla San Francisco (Sea of Cortez) which is about a 19 nm trip. The sea was choppy and the waves confused. The wind was fluctuating around 15 knots. Our destination required us to sail with a true wind angle of 50-53 degrees which translated into 30 degrees apparent wind.
We were flying the main and genoa and averaged well over 9 knots! AND we sailed directly to our destination – without slipping. We are definitely fans of the daggerboards.
Oh and not to show off, but we made lunch and sat in the salon to eat it while we sailed!!
Another day in the Sea of Cortez, we were sailing from San Evaristo to Los Gatos and we were tucked in fairly closely to the land, which turned out to be a good thing. Here are the notes I made after that sail:
The early sail was quite mild with 8 knots of wind and we had the reacher and full main up. Not long into the trip, the wind kicked in and we furled the reacher, put one reef in the main and unfurled the jib.
The wind continued to climb and soon we were seeing 25 knots of wind.
On Let It Be we used to be able to “reef” the jib by rolling in some canvas but that didn’t work at all on TTR. When we rolled in a bit of the jib, it wobbled wildly and we quickly unfurled it again. The winds were very strong so we spilled the main a bit to reduce pressure in the main sail. We had to keep a close eye on the main and jib sheets and be prepared to release them as we didn’t want to fly a hull!
Our true wind angle varied between 100 and 65 because we altered our heading when we had lighter winds (20K) so we could make our course. It was a very sporty day and we saw Ticket To Ride move along at 15+ knots for much of this trip!
Frank was LOVING the sail! I was a little nervous at first but I enjoyed the speed once we were prepared to release the main or jib if we had too much power.
I am amazed at how quickly 20 knots of wind seemed mild after bursts of 30!
We reached Los Gatos quickly and had our choice of spots to anchor.
The beautiful anchorage in Los Gatos.
Later in the day as boats we had passed while sailing set their anchors, several called us on the VHF and asked just how fast TTR was sailing. (Did I tell you we passed several boats as we sailed?)
Anyway, our AIS and VHF are only working intermittently (at the moment) and apparently the other boats were unable to contact us or see our speed through AIS. They were very interested to hear how fast we were sailing because they “felt like they were standing still” in comparison to TTR.
Yep, this boat can move!
FYI, in hindsight, although we had a reef in the main we should have hoisted the staysail and furled the jib. But the winds were not in the forecasts and we had no idea they were coming along.
Here in the Sea of Cortez, we have found that the winds vary often and suddenly. The boats that contacted us on VHF were in the center of the channel and saw winds up to 35 knots. They were also caught off guard by these unexpected winds.
The fastest we have sailed TTR is 24.7 knots when we had professionals on board and pretty perfect conditions in Long Beach, CA behind the breakwater. We have not replicated this speed on our own and I’m not sure we will try to anytime soon.
In light air with true wind angles of 85-125 degrees, Ticket To Ride often sails very close to wind speed. It is exciting to be able to put the sails up in 8 knots of wind and sail at 8 knots!
True wind angle: 96 degrees, true wind speed: 8.3k, SOG: 8.3k, boat speed: 8.7k
TTR feels like a race horse that wants to take the bit and ruuuunnnnn! She gallops through the water and is capable of more than I am willing to do. Probably Frank should go out with some guys and put her through her paces just because he wants to and I don’t.
As I mentioned earlier, TTR easily moves through the water. I believe we have less motion on this boat than we did on our Helia and the cleaner motion makes the ride more enjoyable to me.
Ticket To Ride is very comfortable to sail deep downwind, but she isn’t as fast as she could be because we do not have a spinnaker. We decided that handling such a large sail with just the two of us would be extremely taxing so instead we bought a Doyle Sails Cable-less Reacher which is cut deeper and is on a continuous line furler. It is this sail that we use when sailing downwind and so far it has worked well. A spinnaker would sail faster, but the reacher is manageable for us.
L-R: Boat speed: 10.6k, true wind angle: 149 degrees, true wind speed: 18.9k.
We made a long sail from San Juanico to Bahia Conception, about 58 nm, and the wind was deeper than forecast. As a result, we were sailing with a true wind angle of 155-165 in 8-11 knots of wind. In these conditions, we averaged between 6 and 7 knots of boat speed.
At 150-160, our reacher stayed well filled and the ride of the boat was extremely comfortable. Frank and I spent the day cleaning the decks, doing laundry, reorganizing a closet or two, etc.
The bottom line is that our HH55 Catamaran is an excellent sailing boat and sail handling is easy with just the two of us on board. We have high speed winches that allow us to quickly raise sails and make the large sails easy to change or adjust. TTR moves so well in light air that we find ourselves sailing most of the time, even when other boats are motoring. In fact, often we sail much faster than we can motor.
We sincerely appreciate the excellent design Morrelli and Melvin created and the few modifications they made at our request to make TTR an excellent sailing and cruising sailboat for our needs. The design by M&M and the fabulous build quality by HH Catamarans has resulted in a boat home we can sail easily and live in comfortably.
Please understand that Frank and I still have a LOT to learn about our HH55. We have not made an overnight passage by ourselves on TTR and we have not faced adverse conditions. Clearly these observations and comments are based on our current level of experience with our new catamaran. We do not expect our opinion to change much, but we still consider ourselves inexperienced on this boat.
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As Frank and I were leaving Isla Coronados on Thursday, we saw waves in the distance we thought might indicate a reef or shallow area.
We double and triple checked the charts, which are completely incorrect here. But we saw nothing.
Binoculars revealed the disturbance was a huge pod of dolphins! We estimated about 500 dolphin in this pod.
Needless to say it was a blast watching these guys swim around.
We idled in the area of the dolphins for about 30 minutes just watching them jumping and cavorting.
We could hear them chattering to each other as they swam. We were surprised how much noise they created.
Wow! I only wish I could share with you how fun it was to see these guys.
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Dolphins in the La Paz anchorage.
After Kristen and James flew out of La Paz, Frank and I took a couple of days to simply relax and relish being back in cruising mode. La Paz, Mexico was a great place for us to enjoy being on the hook again and get to know a few people.
There is a very active cruisers group in La Paz and we were fortunate enough to get involved immediately through their daily VHF Net which is sort of like morning announcements when you were in school; but more interesting.
For those unfamiliar with a Net, they differ a bit by location but each usually has a set format that goes something like this:
The host of the net starts announcing around 8 am on the same VHF channel each day and the order of business usually includes:
~emergencies among the cruisers
~boats arriving or leaving
~activities in and around the area
~items people have for sale or things people are in need of
~questions about where to buy something or have boat work done
The host acknowledges boats who have information to contribute on each topic, then moves to the next item.
Cruisers nets are very beneficial to boaters and it allows local businesses to let cruisers know if they have special events planned.
Anyway, the La Paz Cruisers net is very well organized and informative. It was a great way to jump start our return to cruising.
Sunset in La Paz
One of the reasons Frank and I wanted to be in La Paz in early April was that the Annual Mahalo/Women Who Sail Rendezvous began on April 6th.
In 2015, Frank and I participated in the very first WWS Rendezvous as a BYOB (Bring Your Own Boat) on Let It Be in the BVIs. We thought the coincidence that our first long trip on LIB coincided with the first WWS Rendezvous and our first long trip on Ticket To Ride matched the 5th WWS Rendezvous was too obvious to ignore.
So we contacted Captain Holly Scott and signed up as a BYOB. Holly put us in touch with Sherri and Steve aboard s/v Pablo who were already in La Paz.
I had a great time tagging along with Sherri as she used donations from the WWS/Mahalo group to buy more than 20 pairs of tennis shoes for kids living in a nearby fishing village.
Panoramic view from the restaurant in San Evaristo.
The Mahalo/WWS Rendezvous ladies contribute to one needy community each year and this year the fishing village in San Evaristo was the recipient. In addition to shoes, the Mahalo Rendezvous contributed the supplies needed to plumb fresh water from the roadside to the school.
The school in San Evaristo.
The information I received from Sherri on s/v Pablo is that the Mexican Government recently ran plumbing from a fresh water well to the roadside of homes and businesses in San Evaristo and it is up to the individual to get the water from the street to their building.
Mahalo/WWS provided the supplies to pipe the water from the street to the school in San Evaristo.
By the way, the well water only flows twice a week and each family must store necessary water between days. (There is no electricity in San Evaristo. Residents use solar panels to charge batteries and that is their power source.)
An early morning drone shot in Caleta Partida.
I won’t give you the blow by blow of our time with the WWS group, but I will share some pictures of the places we visited.
It was quite entertaining to listen to the 7 chartered boat captains and crew on the VHF net for the group. There was much laughter and banter and each net included jokes and other entertainment. It was very fun to be part of this lively group of women who love sailing and exploring.
Dawn in Caleta Partida.
A couple of ladies joined Frank and me on a little snorkel in Caleta Partida. The water was chilly but the sea life was plentiful and diverse. Much fun.
Swimming with sea lions.
One morning the fleet of boats went to Ensenada Grande where tour operators picked us up and took us to swim with sea lions. It was a blast! The young male pups are very curious and would swim nearby, then roll over like a dog asking for his belly to be scratched.
Fishermen an at Isla San Francisco.
One of my favorite sights during our time with the Mahalo/WWS group was in Isla San Francisco. I awakened early one morning to the sound of men speaking Spanish outside the boat.
Turns out it was fishermen casting their nets for baitfish in the early morning light. It was a beautiful sight and demonstrated the camaraderie of the men and the simple way of life here.
Throwing a casting net for bait fish.
The fisherman chased the baitfish between boats.
But do not misinterpret simple for easy. The people here are hard working and the amenities are few compared to life in the U.S. The villages are remote and most are similar to San Evaristo – no electricity and very little fresh water.
We traveled with the Mahalo/WWS Rendezvous until their most northern anchorage then waved a fond goodbye as they turned south and we pointed further into the Sea of Cortez.
I am exceeding grateful to Captain Holly Scott for organizing these Rendezvous. They offer excellent sailing opportunities for many women on chartered boats but also allow live aboard ladies to join the fun. Holly and her crew facilitate seeing beautiful places while creating new friendships and helping local residents.
This is truly a win win event!
I’m having difficulty publishing with so little connection and I have to work on my phone only, so forgive me typos and abrupt transitions. Thank you for reading our blog. Please check out the FB page for more regular information.
While in La Paz, Frank, Kristen, James and myself went on a whale shark adventure. For conservation purposes, visitors must be accompanied by a guide which is a great idea so these giant beasts aren’t bothered TOO much.
I was surprised how much swimming was involved – after spotting the shark, the panga driver would get in front of the fish and the guide would tell us to slip into the water. Soon the whale shark would be upon us and we would swim like crazy to keep up.
A large mouth for filtering food!
We would swim for about 10 minutes then return to the panga and repeat the process. We had a blast!
This swimmer gives you an idea of the size of the whale shark.
The largest confirmed whale shark recorded was 62 feet! The ones we saw were a mere 35-40 feet. The life span of whale sharks has been difficult to determine but using two methods of estimation, modeling and field study, have shown two contradictory life spans. Modeling suggests that whale sharks live about 70 years, but field studies suggest that whale sharks could live as long as 130 years! Amazing.
As we were leaving the protected waters of the whale shark, we saw a large pod of dolphins and asked the guide if we could swim with them. The panga driver accelerated to get in front of the dolphins and we all jumped in as the dolphins approached us.
The water was only about 12 feet deep and the dolphins swam right toward us, checked us out a little, then swam quickly below us and away. We could hear them chattering as they swam and it was exhilarating! Sorry no photos. 😦
I have a great video of the whale shark, but I cannot get it uploaded on WP. I will try to upload it on Facebook….
Thank you for reading our blog. We have zilch connectivity in the Sea of Cortez, so I don’t have the opportunity to write often. This is the best I could do for now. Please check our FB page for more regular posts.
While anchored in Los Frailes we noticed the pelicans gathering in one spot and figured there must be a school of fish and it was meal time. I grabbed my camera hoping to catch the action.
Was there a school of bait fish?
Soon we saw a seal surface below the birds and I wondered what the relationship was between them. My camera revealed that the seal was very busy procuring his afternoon snack and the birds were looking for handouts.
Several birds spying for pieces from above the water.
It wasn’t long before I saw the seal break the surface and thrash about with a fish in his mouth. I’m guessing he smashes the fish against the water to kill it?
From far away it looked like play, but this seal was serious about his fish.
You can see how the fish is breaking apart in the thrashing process and the birds are ready to pounce on any scraps that fly free.
The pelicans were jockeying positions to get close to the seal.
I think the birds are hoping the seal accidentally lets go as he slings this fish!
Apparently seals consume four to six percent of their body weight each day, so these birds are pretty savvy to follow the seal feast!
I found watching the interaction between the seal and the birds pretty interesting and I hope you do too. That fish looks pretty gross though if you zoom in on the pictures. Next time you see birds gathering, maybe a seal will surface and now you know he isn’t just playing around and splashing water at the birds! There is food to be had!!
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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!
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