Category Archives: Uncategorized

Hoodoos, Hikes and Petrified Wood

After leaving China, we arrived in Salt Lake City and settled back into RV life pretty easily. It was really nice to be able to cook our own meals after being away for a month.  However, the weather was cold, especially after being in Xiamen where the temperatures were in the 70s.

IMG_4976Snow – an added incentive to leave Salt Lake City.

We spent several days trying to resolve the question of what really happened to our dog, Captain, but we were unsuccessful.  After visiting the vet, animal control and the pet sitter, we had to accept that we will never know the truth.  We shed many tears as we left Salt Lake City without our sweet Cappy.   We were very happy to leave SLC as it is the place we will always remember with sadness, anger and regret.

Parks-16This photo gives you a glimpse into the size of Bryce Canyon.

 Our destination was Bryce Canyon and it was beautiful! We still felt the chill of late fall, but there wasn’t any snow and the cold weather brought beautiful clear skies.

Parks-13Layers of color are revealed as the mudstone and sandstone erode.

Bryce is known for its’ “Hoodoos” which are formed through a weathering process primarily of  freezing and melting of water within the walls plus the erosion of rain.  Bryce experiences around 200 freezing and melting cycles each year and these cycles create cracks that rainwater seeps into and begins to erode.

Parks-15Off season and cool weather meant very few hikers.

Walking the trails in Bryce and driving around the Canyon, we found the colors and light-play beautiful. Initially we thought the cold temperatures would deter us from hiking, but actually down in the canyon we were protected from the wind and were quite comfortable.

Parks-7That’s I walking down to the gateway in a hoodoo.

One benefit of the cooler weather was a lack of crowds.  Being delayed in arriving at Bryce allowed us to see it with fewer people around.  We enjoyed the quiet we could find without crowds and often had minutes at a time without running into other hikers.

Parks-17The canyon floor felt more lush.

Parks-19This bright orange area seemed to have formed in a spiral.

Parks-14The switchbacks coming out of the canyon were the most crowded area we saw.

Parks-6Sunset was coming as we were driving the rim road.

Bryce Canyon was absolutely beautiful and interesting.  Visiting on such a quiet day with a slight bite in the air and a crisp clear sky as well as having the opportunity to hike through the canyon for a couple of hours made this a truly delightful day.

The next focal point on our tour was the Petrified Forest. I wasn’t sure what I would think of this but Frank was charged to see these old fossils.  Turns out he was right – the Petrified Forest was amazing!

ParksDon’t be fooled…. that log is a rock.

 

We stopped in the town of Tropic, UT at the town center to see the museum. Although the museum was only one room, it had a good amount of information and seeing the samples of petrified trees alone was worth the stop.

Parks-5Reflections on the polished surface aside, this is pretty amazing.

 

Three rings of petrified trees are on display and each has been polished to a high gloss so the colors are bright and clear. I had no idea these fossils were so colorful and pretty.

From the museum, we headed to the actual Petrified Forest for a two mile hike that would thread us through the remains.  The Forest has over 5.2 million tons of exposed   tree-rocks that are strewn about the Petrified Forest.  We were in awe of these trees-cum-stones.

Parks-1Fourteen pieces of “wood” lining this path are stones.

 

Looking at many of the stones, you could imagine they were really pieces of a tree that a child had left crayons on and the crayons had melted leaving a rainbow of colors.

Parks-4Love this array of color!

 

However, once you touched the tree, you realized it was indeed stone and a much more dense and solid one than the rocks around it. Petrified wood measures 7.8 on the Mohs hardness scale…. diamonds are a 10 on the same scale. One cubic foot of  lava rock weighs about 50 pounds.  One cubic foot of petrified wood weighs between 160-200 pounds. Yep, that is solid!

Parks-2Frank agrees; these fossils are solid!

Also, these trees are over 200 million years old! That is dinosaur time frame…. so chances are, these stone-trees were once living trees munched upon by brontosauri! That’s pretty crazy to think about.

 

Parks-3   It looks like bark but it feels like stone.

 

Once again, the Petrified Forest was empty. We saw only three people on our hike and they were in a big hurry. Pretty quickly we were the only people walking the paths and we explored a very long time.  I wasn’t sure I would get Frank away before sunset!

Parks-27The sun was setting as we descended the last hill to the parking lot.

Our final park visit was Zion National Park. Zion is as pretty as Bryce Canyon is but in a different way. Capturing Zion’s beauty was more difficult because it is difficult to portray the sheer magnitude of the walls.

Parks-18Silly observation ~ I love the color coordinated red of the pavement.

Plus lighting is bright and shadowed in the same frame. Our eyes can adjust for this, but I don’t have sophisticated photo software that will adjust separate areas of a photograph.  My pictures are minimally adjusted, so the photos of Zion do not do it justice.

Parks-4This ravine is deeper and taller than it seems in this photo.

We only had one day in Zion, but we used our time well. We hiked the Overlook Trail for the grand scheme of the park and here are some of the sights from that trail. 

Parks-21Desert Bighorn Sheep.  Pretty cute!

Parks-5The swirls were very interesting.

Parks-22Yep, soon I heard, “Oh it bit me!”  Hope she is ok.

Parks-3Frank enjoying the summit.

ParksOur view at the top of the Overlook.

 

 

Parks-8This looks like Frank might be having an amazing moment!

Next we walked the River Walk, which although touted as “easy” (so something we would usually skip) was well worth the walk since the scenery is different from other parts of the park. 

Parks-25This is prettier in person where your eyes adjust for the shadows and light.

Parks-1You can certainly understand this artist’s inspiration.

Parks-23This heron was slowly stalking something in the water.

Parks-2How is that for camouflage?

ParksDid you see them before the zoom in?

Finally we walked as much of Angel’s Landing as we could, but the sun was setting and we weren’t about to get caught in the dark! 

Parks-26This walk was a bit strenuous but the sights were great.

Parks-24The squiggly walk….look how plants grow everywhere.

We only made it as far as The Wiggles, but it was good exercise and there were more great views.

I am sure we will catch flack for this, but we have decided to wait and visit the Grand Canyon on another trip.  We want to make some family visits before TTR is delivered to California and we don’t want to rush through the Grand Canyon.  Our thought is that another year we will make reservations to stay in the Park and spend several days there.  We think optimal visiting time at the Grand Canyon would be late September when the crowds have thinned a bit and the temps have cooled but are not cold.

Additionally, there is only so much sightseeing we can do in a limited amount of time before it feels like we are just checking off boxes instead of really enjoying the destinations.  I would rather delay seeing the Grand Canyon to a time when I will not feel rushed and we will have time to appreciate its splendor.

 

~HH55 Catamaran Update~

IMG_0872Ticket to Ride at the HH facility in Xiamen

We impatiently await the delivery of TTR to Long Beach, California. She should arrive early in January.  Once Ticket to Ride is unloaded from the cargo ship, the mast will be re-stepped, rigging will be tensioned and TTR will be put through her paces to make sure all is well.  To say we an excited about our new home is an understatement.  

!!!!!!Five or six weeks until delivery!!!!!!

 

 

Our Final Visit to HH in Xiamen, China

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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A belt driven engine of some kind.

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A young woman was pedaling these wooden crates.

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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!

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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.

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Xiamen University is huge and brand new.

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All of the red roofs in the background are part of Xiamen University.

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Interesting architecture on newer buildings.

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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?

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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!

Captain ~ Much Too Soon To Say Goodbye

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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:

  1. Go to shore every day for a walk, to stroll the beach or just to be on shore.
  2. Jump and bark and wag your tail when you see your relatives.
  3. Look up in addition to down – there are things in the trees and sky.
  4. Stretch when you stand up in the morning and after a nap.
  5. When you are happy, bark for joy.
  6. Smell the roses, literally.
  7. You can’t truly enjoy life without getting dirty once in a while.
  8. Ask for hugs when you want them.
  9. Try new things.
  10. Persistence pays off.
  11. Let the people you love know you are happy to see them.
  12. Don’t stay sad or mad; live in the present!

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Hey, it’s pretty outside.  Wanna play?

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See how good I am…. chillin’ at a beach bar.

Resting during a hike. Hitching a ride back from shore.

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Protecting mom and dad from wild goats on Antigua.

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Please let’s go for another dinghy ride!

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Roll in the sand, then dig to the cool sand in the shade of the dinghy.

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Getting into the spirit of Christmas.

Reading or helming, Cappy was a big help.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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We love you pretty girl. And we always will.

Thanks for reading our blog. To those who loved our Cappy-girl ~ thank you!

Quick Bits About Ticket To Ride

We had an excellent visit to HYM in China to see the progress of our HH55, Ticket To Ride. As usual, we were treated very well by everyone at HH.  Hudson Wang kindly took us to dinner a few nights and we enjoyed his generosity, the company of others and the delicious food.

We spent a lot of time looking through Ticket To Ride and taking pictures of areas that will be covered soon so we will know where everything is in the event that we (Frank) needs to repair or access a system.  Think of things such as the solar controllers that are mounted in the ceiling. During this visit, the ceiling panels were not yet installed so we could take photos.

Repeat for pretty much every inch of the boat!

HH sent us a progress report about a week ago that shows much more has been accomplished since our visit. Here are just a couple of pictures from the report:

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The dagger board fabrication is complete and painting is in process.

There is a learning curve involved in sailing with dagger boards, but we look forward to having less slip and better pointing ability by having them.

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We switched from a teak shower floor to Kerlite and the look is great!

The teak shower floor looked good on the other HH sailboats, but we decided to have a porcelain tile product (Kerlite) installed instead because we think it will be lower maintenance. Plus we like the look of it. What do you think?

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Our very own washer/dryer. That is exciting.

Some people would choose a dishwasher rather than a washer/dryer, but since usually it is only Frank and I eating and we don’t generate many dishes, I prefer having the ability to wash our clothing on board. (Whoohoo, no more washing in a bucket!)

So that is it, a very quick bit of information about our boat. We head back to China for sea trials in just a couple of weeks and we can hardly wait!

Thanks to HH for fabricating this boat for us with such care.  And thank you to M&M for everything you have and are doing for us, beginning with designing a great sailboat/home for us.

 

Traveling with Little WiFi

We have been so busy riding bikes and exploring Italy that we have not had time to write a blog.

But even if we had made time to write, we don’t have much internet.

So I’m just posting these three quick photos to give you a glimpse into the beautiful areas we are biking and to prove we are still alive and well.

Dolomites in the background.

More to come once we are back in the States…. and can upload more easily.

BTW, thank you T-Mobile for giving us at least some service anywhere we travel!

Putting Our Stamp on TTR ~ Part II

Our previous post concerning customizations for TTR seemed to be well received; so we will go forward with “Our Stamp, Part II”. Please remember that the decisions and changes we have made are not necessarily right, wrong, or suitable for everyone; they simply reflect our preferences. These aren’t necessarily the most exciting topics, but they are important when planning to live on a sailboat.

Dinghy davits – As much as we loved Let It Be, one of the Helia’s weakest features is inadequate dinghy davits. Frank and I removed the dinghy engine for any overnight passage and the dinghy remained a matter of concern on passages.

Improving on the dinghy davits seen on previous HH Catamarans was well spelled out in our contract for TTR. The redesigned davits in addition to carrying a sufficient load with a big safety margin would have to meet the following criteria 1. With the engine down, the bottom of the shaft had to be 38 inches off the water 2. Both davits had to touch the port and starboard inflatable tubes of the RIB for stability 3. The dinghy had to sit level from side to side when fully lifted into the davits 4. The stern of the dinghy had to be lower than the bow to allow water drainage.

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Initial renderings of the modified davits.

Combining the design skills of Gino Morelli and James Hakes with HYM’s fabrication capabilities,  dinghy davits have been created that are both esthetic and functional. The design and fabrication of the first set of davits was finished in time for installation on Utopia, HH55-04, which arrived in Newport, RI last week. The reports so far are very good. Many thanks to those involved, we look forward to a happy and stable dinghy.

Solar MPPT controllers – HH offers several solar package options and all HH solar installations include Solbian SP flex panels fabricated in Italy using ultra-efficient monocrystalline Sunpower cells and installed on the coachroof of the boat. HH’s standard install involves  wiring 2 of these super expensive 12v panels in series to one 24v MPPT controller to charge the 24v house bank. All this makes sense except when confronting the shading issue which is inevitable in all boat applications. When only 2 of the total 72 cells (36 cells each panel) on these 2 series wired panels becomes hard shaded, the charging output drops by 60% or more. Genasun boost controllers to the rescue! TTR will have 1 Genasun MPPT boost controller for each panel boosting the charging voltage from 12 to 24v. Therefore, if 2 cells on any panel become hard shaded the loss will be only the output from that one panel not two panels. I know this all seems like a lot of mathematical gooble-dee-goop but that’s what my man does well! We are hoping that our solar charging will reduce generator run time to only 4 hours every third day at anchor. Thank you to Jessica Li, the HH electrical install team, and the onsite supervision squad for helping us to make this happen.

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Installation of the solar controllers in the salon ceiling of TTR.

Folding propellers – HH offers a Gori 3 blade folding propeller as it’s standard; it’s shiny and beautiful. Nevertheless when researching folding props for Let It Be; we were overwhelmingly led to the Flexofold 3 blade folding prop and specified the same for Ticket to Ride. Yachting World Magazine performed the most objective testing of folding and feathering props and published the results in their March 2015 issue. These tests showed the Flexofold prop was the top performer in all categories including forward and reverse thrust, top speed, low side force, and low drag when folded. The Flexofold prop has an inexpensive off the shelf hub anode in comparison to Gori’s expensive proprietary anode. The Flexofold is simple and maintenance free without the gimmicky overdrive feature touted by Gori. And last but not least we were incredibly happy with the service provided by our Flexofold props on Let It Be. We could see no reason to change from what was working.

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3-blade saildrive folding propeller by Flexofold

Antifouling Paint – During our 5 years owning Let It Be, we had antifouling paint applied 5 times. Three different paint brands, 3 different boatyards, 3 different islands and all the bottom paint work (sanding, preparation, application) for better or worse was performed by the boatyard. The paints ranged from Sherwin Williams (least expensive) to Sea Hawk Islands 44 (most expensive). Regardless, none of the bottom jobs looked satisfactory at 10 months much less 12; very disappointing. While living on LIB a bottom job cost $5000-7000, required planning, involves some risk for the boat, and moved us off for at least a week. Our cost involved haul, launch, blocking, paint, labor, yard days, lodging for us off the boat, kennel time for Captain, and eating out. We figured there has to be a better way. TTR will have CopperCoat brand epoxy paint applied to her clean hull undersides under the supervision of the Chinese Coppercoat rep and we hope to get 5 years out of CopperCoat. CopperCoat will add about 100 pounds, cost maybe 25% more, and only comes in a brownish/tan color that will patina into a blackish/green color; however, it could save us mucho dinero, is much more environmentally friendly, and could remove the hassle of annual bottom jobs.

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LIB’s hull full of barnacles only 7 months after an expensive bottom paint job!

Yes, HYM really has worked with us to deliver a boat that meets our needs, plans, and expectations. I have saved the major interior customizations for a later blog when I will have pictures from TTR.  I think the interior changes are as exciting and important as the outside changes that have now been discussed.

Please stay tuned and let us know if you have a question or comment. Check out our FB page for more frequent posts.

 

 

Putting Our Stamp on TTR ~ Part I

One of the benefits for us of buying an HH55 catamaran is the opportunity to customize the boat to our liking.  No doubt that Morrelli and Melvin designed an incredible boat and HH is doing a fabulous job of fabricating that boat.  But we still have been able to add our own little stamp to the boat we will receive in a few months.

Beginning on the outside and forward at the bow, here are just a few items we have changed from “the norm” on previous HH55s.

Trampoline – The standard trampoline supplied by HYM is a 1 1/4 inch knotless dyneema material that is attached with individual lashings to the many, many attachment points on the hull. The 1 1/4 inch reference relates to the size of the hole between the strands of dyneema line. This dyneema trampoline is an excellent, lightweight choice for offshore and racing, the getting there part of sailing; however, for both the getting there and the being there part of sailing we chose an alternative. We wanted a trampoline comfortable for bare feet, dog paws, knees during yoga and relaxing at anchor.  Simply put, we wanted  to make the trampoline serve as both a useful and comfortable outdoor space.  Sunrise Yacht Products to the rescue! Richard worked beyond his duty to properly size and manufacture an offshore trampoline that would have all the benefits of dyneema with a host of other advantages. We settled on the Sunrise Offshore Polyester Open Net with 3/8″ net openings and attachment grommets to match each of the hull attachment points. We are super excited to play and work on this trampoline. By moving to this trampoline we did add 22 pounds to the overall weight of TTR.

 

Left represents the weave we chose for TTR. Right is a 1″ dyneema open weave.

Generator – Hudson Yacht has been installing a 12KW Fisher-Panda generator on the previous HH55’s and this was simply a deal breaker for Frank, my favorite mechanic. We have had different gensets on previous boats; however, the Northern Lights 9KW genset on Let It Be far surpassed any generator we have owned. The NL was quiet, easy to service, incredibly dependable, and NEVER failed to start. When we sold Let It Be, the genset had over 8,000 hours, ran beautifully, and the only part we had replaced was one alternator. Frank feels that the key to the NL genset success is that it has No, None, zero green circuit boards, only relays, and it runs at 1800 RPMs not the 3200-3600 RPMs seen with the Fisher-Panda. The NL genset is about 40 pounds heavier than the FP which makes zero difference to us. Our boat, for better or worse, will be electrically demanding and we accept the need for a generator; however, we absolutely wanted a machine on which we can depend.

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A brand new Northern Lights Generator for TTR.

Bow Thruster – HH offers a bow thruster located in the starboard forepeak with a dropdown lower unit when the thruster is in use. All 3 of the previous HH55s have opted for the thruster; however, we chose to delete the thruster from TTR. Having the experience of Let It Be with no bow thruster and the fact that we expect to spend very little time coming to and from marina docks; we feel very comfortable with no bow thruster. The financial savings was big and eliminating the thruster saved us over 440 pounds!! However, we did build a monolithic patch in the forward hull allowing for easy installation of a bow thruster if desired in the future.

450 mm Extended longeron (bowsprit) – Since our sailing plans and reason for buying Ticket To Ride include a tropical circumnavigation, we realize that much of our sailing time will be spent with the wind aft of the beam. On Let It Be some of our favorite sailing days had the wind TWA at 130-170; however, we also found that to be a challenging wind direction for sail configuration. Alas, with Gino Morelli’s advice and working with our sailmaker, Matt Bridges, from Doyle NZ, we decided to extend the longeron / bowsprit by 450 mm and fly a large furled reacher from the very end of the bowsprit. This bring the headsail further forward into cleaner wind, less blanketed by the mainsail.

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Longeron installed on TTR.

Cableless Reacher – The mainsail, genoa, and self tacking staysail on Ticket to Ride will be supplied by Doyle NZ (our choice) and will be very similar in size and cut to the previous HH55s.  The reacher/Code sail is where we have changed course from the previous HH55s. Again, since tropical circumnavigation is our plan we talked at length with anyone knowledgable about appropriate sail configurations for such plans. Matt Bridges from Doyle NZ is an excellent listener and his first proposal included a cableless reacher. “What is that animal?,” we asked. In brief, a cableless reacher eliminates the very thick torque rope around which a removable, furled headsail is normally wound when furled. Instead of the 3/4 inch torque rope tensioned to sometimes over 5 tons, the cableless reacher has additional spectra and carbon fibers built into the luff of the sail and is tensioned to about 1/8 of the torque rope specs. The trade off with a cableless reacher is that it will not go upwind as well as a torque rope and will never be a Code 0 or an A1. Rather the cut is more A2 or A3. WOW, that’s exactly what we want!

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Cableless reacher production drawing from Doyle Sails.

Considering all the above features of the cableless reacher, we also did not order a gennaker at this time. We feel the cableless reacher will be much easier for us to handle alone and it provides 80% of the benefit of a gennaker. Eliminating the gennaker is a huge dollar, weight and storage savings.

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Another view of the reacher drawing.

Spade Anchor and galvanized chain – Hudson Yacht’s standard spec for anchor and chain is a Stainless Lewmar Delta anchor and stainless chain manufactured in China. I don’t know about you, but, we say thank you to our anchor every morning when we wake up to find ourselves in the same spot as when we went to bed. Let It Be was delivered with a Lewmar Delta Anchor which worked fine in ideal conditions. Sailors know that ideal conditions are seldom found! After 3 weeks on Let It Be, much anchor research, and a boat show special, we chose to give Let It Be a new Spade Anchor and we never looked back. Grass, mud, sand, wind, or any combination of the above and we were always set. So why would we want to return to the past with Ticket To Ride? TTR will be sporting a beautiful stainless 1 piece Spade anchor. Concerning anchor chain, Practical Sailor says it best, “Steer Clear of Stainless-steel Mooring Chain.” Stainless chain, in addition to being inherently weaker, suffers from crevice corrosion leading to failure with no warning. We have spec’d 10 mm galvanized Acco chain for Ticket To Ride.

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Hopefully our anchor will never land in such a shallow spot!

Watermakers – We really did not vary too far from the HYM standard Spectra watermaker. What we did change is its location. Frank and I had a love/hate relationship with the huge storage capacity below the berths on Let It Be. On the love side it allowed us to carry ample spares, tools, and toys. On the hate side it seemed like every time we needed something different it was stored below a bed requiring the removal of bedsheets, mattresses, mattress support boards followed by digging.  The watermakers on HH5501 and HH5502 were installed below the master berth…. a much less than ideal location in our opinion!  Considering filter replacement, checking for leaks and the noise generated while making water, my maintenance specialist began an earnest search for a different location. After many emails, evaluation of drawings, and support questions to Spectra, the decision was made to put the Spectra 24v Newport 700 in a purpose built compartment in the port side forepeak. The HH crew is confident this will be an excellent long term home for the watermaker due to access for service, weight distribution and water spill cleanup. Only time will tell for this untested location.

It’s very fun to share the construction of a new boat with our friends and readers. The items above really only scratch the surface of the changes we have made to TTR to meet our needs. In a future blog post(s), we will share other custom changes to solar, electronics, seating, general arrangement, and so on.

In just a few days we are heading to China for the ‘soft launch’ of TTR and we look forward to seeing her in person! During soft launch, Ticket to Ride is placed in a pond so most of her systems can be tested. Soft launch allows HH to review all of the components of boat systems and it will give us our first chance to begin learning about the systems on TTR that will be new to us. (And I get to see how the interior colors I chose actually work together. Fingers crossed!)

Many, many thanks go to the HH crew, Gino Morelli and Mark Womble (Morelli and Melvin),  Matt Bridges (Doyle NZ), Paul Hakes, and at the top of the list is Let It Be. She was much more to us than a platform for learning but WOW we did learn a lot from Let It Be.

As always, thank you for stopping by our blog. We love hearing from you, so feel free to add your comments. And if you want to hear from us more often, check out our Facebook page.

 

Our Final Passage on LIB ~ Belize to Galveston

Caye Calker

The view of Caye Caulker from LIB at anchor.

Belize was such a fun place for us that we were sorry to leave. Plus we had very mixed emotions about our arrival in Galveston since that would be where we would say goodbye to our dear boat and turn her over to the new owner.

But once we found a good weather window for passaging we could not delay our departure because we had promised to deliver LIB to Galveston by mid-May.

We made sure LIB had plenty of fuel and that meals were pre-pared so that if our first few days at sea were rough we wouldn’t have to put much effort into cooking.

We estimated the trip would be about 850 nm or seven to eight days and we hoped to optimize the use of the Gulf currents rather than work against them.  We didn’t have the upgraded version of Predict Wind that shows the current, so we had to preview the currents before we left and do our best to aim for the anticipated location of the flow.  We also sent internet links to our sons and while at sea hoped they could help us adjust course to maximize the current.

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The yellow line shows our approximate exit from Caye Caulker.

Leaving Caye Caulker was a bit dicey because the charts were unreliable and there were only two breaks in the Belize Barrier Reef.  I was at the helm reading the water and Frank was on the foredeck reading the water and directing me around shallow spots and coral heads.

It took us about an hour to travel the short distance around the southern side of Caye Caulker to the outside of the reef, but caution was certainly called for when the depths were sometimes only two feet under the keel!

Once we were outside the reef, we heaved a great sigh of relief and headed north. We hoped the wind would continue to blow and stay in our favor because the forecast showed a distinct possibility of little or no wind as the week progressed.

Our first two days were remarkably uneventful and the seas were very calm in light winds.  We were able to raise the main and jib and were making nice progress, aiming toward the gulf currents.

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Look how close to the bow the dolphins swim!

Dolphins came to play, wish us well and add a little sparkle to our day.

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There were more than these four dolphins but this pic showed the most.

We were about 200 miles offshore when our first barn swallow hitched a ride. Before long we had six swallows hanging out on LIB.

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Such colorful little visitors!

I enjoyed seeing the birds until they decided they preferred to be inside LIB instead of staying outside.  We had to shoo them outside and keep the sliding door closed until the birds huddled up and went to sleep for the night.

Unfortunately not all of the birds survived the trip…. when we adjusted the traveler, two of the birds didn’t move and were sucked into the block!!  We assumed they would move and weren’t watching them as we monitored the sail position and adjusted the lines to maximize trim.  Frank was pretty surprised when I yelled “stop” after noticing two of the birds had been killed and the other two weren’t moving to avoid the same demise.  That was SO sad!!

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Barn swallows at sunset.

We were moving along quite nicely, enjoying calm seas and reasonable winds, and were beginning to catch some of the benefits of the current.  We were perhaps three days into our sail and were hoping we might reach Galveston in time to meet up with Amy and David of Starry Horizons who were in the States for a visit.

Frank had just gone below for a nap when the fishing line started zinging!

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Can you say Mahi?!

Frank happily came back up to reel in this pretty fish.  No concerns about running low on food this trip!

We were sharing a late lunch when we heard a loud snap and the main sail started flapping… upon inspection, we realized the webbing that attached our clew to the mainsail had broken away! What?! Frank quickly reefed the main and tucked the loose foot into the sail bag. Once again our main was functional, if a tad bit shorter than we wanted.

I have heard that 90 percent of sailing is boredom and 10 percent is terror! Well, that wasn’t exactly terror, but it certainly increased our heart-rates!

After settling the main and finishing lunch, I went downstairs to take a nap so I would be rested for the first watch of the night.  I hadn’t been there long when an unusual sound interrupted my decent into dreamland.  Minutes later Frank came to tell me the head of the sail had just ripped out of the main!!

No way to fix that one!   Frank tucked the mainsail into the bag where she would remain for the trip.

So we were half way to Galveston and we no longer had a mainsail. The wind direction was not workable for our spinnaker so we would have to resort to motor sailing with the jib and hope we had enough wind and fuel to complete the trip.

SPECIAL NOTEWhen we arrived in Galveston and reached out to North Sails, they were top notch in responding to our problem with the sails.  Look to the end of the post if you just can’t wait to hear how North Sails made things right for us.

With the loss of our mainsail and the winds falling, we resorted to using the engines and resigned ourselves to a slightly longer trip than expected.  And we realized there was no way we would be able to get to Galveston in time to meet Amy and David.  That was a bummer since Amy and David are so far ahead of us in their circumnavigation that we will not be able to catch them at sea.

Although we didn’t have much wind, the weather was beautiful, the sea state was very calm and the moon was full ~ which is always a treat on passages.

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A perfectly clear sky and a full moon!

The only real concern we had was the fuel level since we had planned on relying primarily on our sails and we did not store any extra fuel jugs on LIB. We monitored the diesel level and tried to balance its use with our progress. Unfortunately, only hours after our main was blown, the wind died completely and our jib was no longer of help. We would have to reach Galveston under engine alone unless the wind returned.

We tried to catch each extra puff of wind and we unfurled the jib every chance we could but we found no relief for our engines.

Days before we were close to Galveston, we knew we would be extremely short on fuel and might even loose engine power.  The last thing we wanted was to enter the very busy harbor of Galveston and be adrift!

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LIB is circled in red…. 

As you can see from the screen shot of the chart on LIB, there are plenty of boats in Galveston and we did not want to be without power among all of these ships.

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Our fuel gage arriving to Galveston Harbor!

TowBoat US to the (potential) rescue!

As soon as we were within cell phone range, Frank called TowBoat US and explained that we were precariously low on fuel and asked if a tow boat could escort us just in case we did loose our engines.  TowBoat US was responsive and awesome!

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These friendly and professional men were a very welcome sight!

We kept TowBoat US appraised of our position and they met us on the outskirts of Galveston Harbor to escort us all the way to the fuel dock. Fortunately LIB was able to make it all the way to the fuel dock under her own power, but having TowBoat US with us reduced our stress level immensely! I don’t think we have ever been so happy to pay for fuel.

People often ask if we get bored on passages or if the scenery becomes too repetitive but we don’t find that a problem.  Or at least we haven’t so far. Perhaps if we were on a three week passage we would be tired of the sea, but we have found enough to keep us entertained.

Here are a few pictures of things that keep us enthralled with the ocean.

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Yahoooooo, it’s Wahoooo!

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Yes, these colors at sunrise are true!

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We rarely see ships, but Frank caught this cool shot!

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Barn swallow at sunset.

North Sails Report: Our very special thanks to Jay Lutz of North Sails. We contacted Jay and told him of the issues we had with our North 3Di sails and Jay responded immediately and professionally.  Although our sails were technically out of warranty and Jay wasn’t from the loft that sold us our sails, he came to our boat in Kemah, TX and inspected the sails.  After looking at the sails, Jay took both the main and jib with him and had them analyzed by North Sails.

The conclusion was that the webbing used on our sails was faulty. North completely replaced the webbing both sails!  The repair was beautifully done and the main and jib are now in excellent shape…. probably even better than originally since the faulty attachment material has been replaced.

We were very impressed to learn that North Sails keeps tabs on which lots are used for every sail they make. Rather than wait for other sails made using this same lot of webbing to have problems, North is reaching out to their customers and fixing the webbing before it becomes a problem for other sailors.

The theory is that our sails were more heavily exposed to UV deterioration since we were in the Caribbean and as a result, we suffered the problem with our webbing before other sailors had issues.  We are seriously impressed that North Sails not only identified the problem for us and repaired our sails, but they have taken proactive steps and are making their product right before an issue can arise for other customers.

We are hugely impressed with Jay Lutz and North Sail. We sincerely appreciate your high standard of care!

This post pretty much concludes our travels on LIB! We are now land locked until our new boat, s/v Ticket to Ride, is delivered in the next few months. We hope you will hang on with us as we spend the next few months traveling on land until TTR is launched.  As always, thank you for reading our blog.

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We look forward to seeing sunsets from the water and sharing them with you soon.

Do You Want to Know a Secret? (1963 Beatles Album “Please Please Me”)

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Thomas inspecting the paint job on HH55-03.

Things are really starting to Come Together on our new boat.  We couldn’t have made it Without A Little Help From My Friends (Gino Morrelli and Mark Womble of MM   and Paul Hakes just to name three).

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Working hard and taking good care of the boat.

We have driven Long and Winding Roads in our RV while HH works Eight Days A Week building the boat to our wishes and keeping up their excellent fabrication standards.

Do You Want To Know A Secret? We can’t wait to move onto our new boat and Follow The Sun. When we are out on the water, we feel good in a special way. We love to take our dinghy, Day Tripper, to shore. She never takes us half way there!

We were very happy sailing along in Let It Be and enjoyed having people spontaneously sing to us when they read the name of our boat.  So we hoped to find another Beatles song title that we liked as the name for our new boat.  Several friends suggested Yellow Submarine, but we don’t want any part of a sinking boat!

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I love the contrast between the teak steps and the hull color!

This new boat will be our Ticket to Ride the oceans and explore the seas. Yep, if We Can Work It Out, we want to circumnavigate and she will be our s/v Ticket to Ride.  

But we don’t want to be part of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, we want our friends and family to visit us on s/v TTR! The beauty of the world is much more fun when shared with others!

HH5503-rear

s/v Ticket to Ride is going back indoors for more work.

We thought a lot about what to name our boat and we hope this name is fun and fitting… and that it might inspire singing along the way!

Thank you so much for reading our blog.  We look forward to returning to the water and sharing those travels. In the mean time, thank you for keeping up with us as we explore the U.S. by land.

 

 

 

Santa Cruz with a Sprinkle of San Fran and a Dash of Google

We left Kernville and made a long drive to Santa Cruz, CA.  The KOA there was really nice with reasonable sized spaces and many activities for families to enjoy.  They were pretty strict on the rules, but we are finding that to be true everywhere! Once again the golf cart patrol was quick to tell us if we had an extra car in the space or if the dog had gotten out of the RV without her leash on.

This was the fanciest KOA we have seen. They had activities scheduled for most days, including one yoga class which I enjoyed.  There was a small, semi-outdoor bar/restaurant and a nice playground. The vibe was positive and it was great to see so many families enjoying the activities available on the beautiful, shaded grounds.

Happily, Hunter’s place of employment was close enough to our RV spot that he chose to commute to work from Temporary Digs.  We missed Clayton, but were glad to have the extra time with Hunter.

The days were filled with activity; biking, surfing, kite boarding and exploring Santa Cruz in between walking the dog and hanging “at home.” Unfortunately I didn’t take many pictures, but I’ll share some I did take.

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This double track leads uuuupp to the start of some trails in Santa Cruz.

I mentioned that Hunter had finally been bitten by the mountain biking bug as is evidenced by this picture of him with his new “toy.” A big shout out to Scotts Valley Cycle Sports where Hunter made his purchase.  This is an excellent bike shop with nice stock and excellent customer service.  We highly recommend them!

 

Love this retro van which is as old as I am!

Speaking of toys, take a look at this vintage van we saw in Santa Cruz. This is the first time I have seen a Chevrolet Greenbriar which was built between 1961-65.  Pretty cool looking.  We spotted it outside of the Santa Cruz Bicycle Factory.

We took a tour of the Santa Cruz Bicycle factory, which was interesting, but the guide would benefit from a script to include more facts and information. 🙂      (No pictures were allowed.)

The town of Santa Cruz was surprisingly interesting to us. It has a population of around 65,000 and there are many outdoor activities to enjoy.  Because of its size, there are plenty of restaurants, bike shops, surf shops, grocery stores, etc, so we didn’t lack for anything. We were even able to have routine maintenance on our truck while in Santa Cruz.

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A blustery morning in Santa Cruz.

The morning we had our truck worked on, we brought out bikes and toured the town while the truck was otherwise occupied.  It was fun just to tool about and take in Santa Cruz. We had the unusual experience of needing a jacket! What a delightful change from the temperatures we always had during summer in Texas.

As if great biking, surfing and kiting possibilities weren’t enough to make us enjoy Santa Cruz, there is a marina as well!

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Perhaps one day we will come back in our sailboat?!

Our RV site was about a 45 minute drive from Santa Cruz, but we found ourselves returning to SC almost every day. If possible, the next time we visit this area, I would find an RV site closer to Santa Cruz even though the Costanoa KOA was a very nice place.

The Fourth of July Holiday fell during our time in Santa Cruz and Clayton was able to join us for the day. We celebrated by, wait for it…… riding bikes!! SURPRISE!

Pics from our rides in Santa Cruz:

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Frank is a tree-hugger!

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Maybe not everything is bigger in Texas.

We did branch out (haha) a little from Santa Cruz when we visited Google in Mountain View, CA.  Working “conditions” are certainly different from when I worked in downtown Dallas.  My employer did not provide any of the perks that are standard at Google…. onsite places to eat (for free), bicycles to commute between buildings, entertainment on site, green space to “refresh” your energy, etc.

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Google was empty due to the July 4th holiday.

We also drove to San Francisco to see the city with Hunter as our tour guide. Rather than contend with parking, we took our bikes on the subway into the SF and spent the whole day puttering around.

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Lunch spot, Mission Delores Park – we were the only ones with this idea!

Hunter found us a spot in the family friendly section of the park which is pictured here. This section was full of interesting sights, like the camping tent with a big “30” on top for a birthday celebration, the guy carrying a h-u-g-e python around his neck (which apparently is a chic magnet?!), a little girl walking a cat, a few games I was unfamiliar with and a wide variety of dress styles.  The other side of the park was a little more revealing in terms of skin and lifestyle choices.  All in all, very interesting. It was very fun to see so many people out enjoying the fresh air. (Side note, Frank and I were slightly above the average age in the park!)

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Hunter and I enjoying a view of the bay…. or maybe I was resting at the top of a hill?

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What trip to SF is complete without seeing this icon?

This picture was taken from Crissy Field, a spot where many people hang out and is fairly popular with kiteboarders as well.  Unfortunately kiters here often need to be rescued because several factors are less than favorable: gusty winds, currents, ship traffic, etc. We were only at Crissy Field for about 15 minutes but we saw one kiter returned to shore by the SF Marine Police.

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Hunter and Frank considering the kiting possibilities?

Although we didn’t hit all the highlights of SF, since it was only a one day visit, we did see quite a bit of the city, including Fisherman’s Wharf.  The Wharf itself was overrun with people!! Even on bikes it was hard to move through the streets and weave between the tourists. I was glad to see the area but was happy it wasn’t a major part of our agenda.

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Gratuitous photo of the bike trails because they are pretty.

We spent a lot of time on these pine needle strewn paths, listening to the sounds of the woods and getting a little exercise during our time in Santa Cruz.  With so little time in Santa Cruz, we were only able to scratch the surface of available trails for mountain biking or hiking, but the trails we did ride were very fun and had enough variety to satisfy me as a cautious rider and the guys who are much more adventurous.

I don’t know what wintertime is like near Santa Cruz, but I wouldn’t mind spending more time here if the weather is mild.  I’m not sure our Caribbean spoiled bones would survive snow and I know we don’t have the clothing for freezing temperatures but perhaps we will consider returning here before the new boat is delivered.

Thank you for visiting our blog. Feel free to take a look at our FB page (Let It Be, Helia 44)  if  you want to “hear” from us more often.

 

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