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

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

TTR lowered into the water in Long Beach, CA.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TTR sailing in Kaneohe Bay, Oahu.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Los Gatos in the Sea of Cortez

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

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

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

TTR looking tiny in Dundas Bay, AK

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

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

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

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

TTR in Max Cove, Prince of Wales Island

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

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

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

Out of Order: Skipping Ahead In Time

Arrival at the Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise.

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

TTR approaching the Golden Gate Bridge

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

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

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

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

Blue Angels practically on our mast- so cool!

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

Amazing flight demonstrations overhead as many boats moved about below.

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

Frank, Steve, Mary Grace, Matt and Barbara.

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

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

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

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

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

49.8 k was the highest gust we recorded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We enjoyed an excellent weekend with Frank’s family!

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

Jeff with his granddaughter, Coco.

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

Mary Grace cleaning mainsail cars.

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

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

Clayton using seizing wire to truss the turkey.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2019 Baja HaHa Rally ~ Part 1

Hola from Mexico! It has been forever since I have found time (and WiFi) to sit down and actually write about our travels.

Frank and I were quite busy the last few weeks before the start of the Baja HaHa. We spent our last weeks in Long Beach, CA preparing to leave the country for an extended period of time which means we tried to buy some things we will need/want for the next year or two.  That means we have ordered a LOT of spare parts for TTR and stocked up on some routine things that we like to have and may not be able to find in another country (think favorite spices, shampoos, lotions or potions).

For anyone who owns Amazon stock, don’t be surprised when their monthly earnings drop after our departure! 😉

Our departure date was a firm one of November 4th with the 2019 Baja HaHa. The HaHa is a casual rally of boats that departs from San Diego and makes two or three stops on the way to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  We joined the HaHa to meet other cruisers and enjoy the camaraderie of fellow sailors.

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This is where we are going!

We left Long Beach and headed south to San Diego where our dear friends, Ron and Mindy of s/v Follow Me flew in to join us for the 2019 Baja HaHa Rally.  Mindy and Ron left their boat in the Rio Dulce, Guatemala and joined us on TTR for the Rally.

The first official HaHa event for the four of us was the BBQ and Costume Party.  The parameters for our costume were: 1. it must be easy  2. it must be comfy  3. it must not take much time to assemble.

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Our costumes aren’t great, but they are met our criteria!

The result was our “Three sheets to the wind” attire. Happily, everyone knew what we were and assembly took less than 15 minutes.

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Perhaps our favorite costume was s/v Kalawa’s.  Kevin and Katie were Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un.  I believe they were the funniest costume of the event.

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Another favorite was the buoy and anchor chain!

Big kudos to Richard Spindler, the HaHa Grand Poobah, who put on quite the start for the 2019 Baja HaHa Rally.

HaHa stert

We trailed the HaHa pack and had a great view at the start.

As the 153 HaHa boats left San Diego, we had a Coast Guard escort, a mariachi band playing from a boat and a fire boat to celebrate the HaHa kick off; thus establishing a festive atmosphere for the Rally.

Baja HaHa start-2

Love this fire boat!

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Serenaded as we motor sailed out of San Diego, CA.

The first leg of the Rally was the longest.  We had great conditions for sailing and immediately threw up the Doyle cable-less reacher and main sail.  The wind speed and direction were perfect for a spinnaker but we do not have one on TTR.  The spinnaker would be too large for Frank and me to handle along, so instead we use the Doyle cable-less reacher which we had cut deeper than usual. We can pull the reacher tack toward the windward bow and increase the wind angle range for this sail. 

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Pretty decent speeds for a cruiser boat and less than 11 knots of wind.

Also, Frank had a small stay sail made by Ulman Sails just before we left Long Beach. This sail helps funnel the wind between the main sail and the reacher.  It worked very well and added about a knot to our deeper angled sailing.

HaHa sailing-1

Pretty soon we were toward the head of the fleet and had a beautiful view of the kites.

HaHa leg 1

Neck and neck spinnakers.

Fishing on this first leg to Turtle Bay was excellent and the VHF was full of reports from HaHa fleet boats who were catching tuna, dorado, skip jack and more.

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Frank and Ron managed to land two tuna.

HaHa sunset to Turtle Bay

Sunset our first night out.

Mindy and I took the first watch and enjoyed seeing this colorful sunset. Ron and Frank took over at 1 a.m. so Mindy and I could sleep until 7 or so.

Our first HaHa stop at Turtle Bay was two nights. The first night we invited the four gentlemen from s/v Day Dream to join us for sundowners. Since they had no dinghy or ice, they eagerly accepted our offer for a ride and chilled drinks.

The next day we strolled around town admiring the unique flare the locals have for appointing their homes.

HaHa in Turtle Bay-1An interesting combination of beads and curios at this home.

After “walking up” and appetite, we found a local taco spot and indulged in lunch and cervezas. Frank was truly happy to reacquaint himself with food from the Baja!

HaHa in Turtle Bay-2

Cell towers trump pavement.

HaHa in Turtle Bay

Ambling toward the baseball field.

We also participated in the annual Baja HaHa Cruisers Against the Locals baseball game.  The baseball game was silly and fun without many rules.  I was amazed how often the cruiser first baseman “missed” a catch!  The game allowed the local kids to show off their prowess on the diamond and some of these kids were very talented!

HaHa baseball

Preparing to play ball!

Once the game was finished, the cruisers donated their baseball equipment and each of the kids was allowed to choose a piece of equipment to keep. I wonder if they agree to play just to get the new equipment? Not really though.  The kids were engaging and enthusiastic.  I think they had as much fun as the HaHa folks.

HaHa Turtle bay sunset

Sunset at Turtle Bay.

This was the extent of our brief first stop of the 2019 Baja HaHa.  I’ll share the remainder of the HaHa in our next blog.

In the mean time, thank you for stopping by. I am truly sorry for the lapse in posts, but travel plus preparations to leave California severely limited my opportunity to write. Hopefully things will settle a bit and I can catch up on some of the things I missed, like our hands-on safety at sea class in Rhode Island!

All the best from Mexico!

As always, thank you for stopping to read our blog. We would love to hear your thoughts and comments so feel free to contact us here. Or look for us on FB where we post more often.

California Here We Come ~ In Bits and Pieces ~ Kernville First.

I’ve decided to begin doing short posts because we have had surprisingly limited internet speeds and that makes blogging very time consuming. Plus, those who know Frank know we always have to stay busy and finding time to write when we aren’t driving or doing is difficult.

Once we left Grand Junction, we high tailed over to California, choosing to save exploring Utah for the fall when it might be slightly cooler than it is now.  Everyone knows California has some beautiful places and we wanted to explore a few from the RV.

Cali-1Scenes as we drove to Kernville.

Kernville is on the southern edge of the Sequoia National Forest about 50 miles east and slightly north of Bakersfield, CA. The drive to Kernville was scenic and easy with a one night stop in Hurricane, UT just to break up the drive.

When I think of California, I envision the coast, so I enjoyed seeing the arid, mountainous aspects of the state.

CaliCan you imagine trying to cross this terrane in a covered wagon?

Our RV park in Kernville was the Kern River Sequoia RV Resort.  The campsite backs up to the Kern River and our particular site had a small stream behind it. The stream was a very popular spot for neighbors to plop their chairs in the stream while the kids played in and around the water.

IMG_5293 2I forgot to take a pic of the campground but you get an idea in this picture.

Our sons joined us for the weekend so our family was together for the first time since Christmas in Bonaire. That was quite a treat!

As usual, we stayed very busy, mostly mountain biking.  Frank transferred the mountain biking bug to Clayton way back when he was in high school, but Hunter was slower to get hooked.  However, after this trip, Hunter has also succumbed to MB Fever.

KernvilleThree amigos prepping for a ride.

I dropped off the guys at the top of Cannell Trail and they spent the next several hours bombing down the mountain then riding back to the RV. Cannell is listed as an Epic Trail by IMBA (International Mountain Biking Association) and it needed to be done.  Frank reports that this isn’t the best Epic he has ridden, but they still had a great time.

Cali-2Cappy really wanted to run the whole trail!

Captain really wanted to run the trail, but it was too long for her.  She trotted along behind Frank near the drop off point until it was time for them to leave.  The trail was beyond my comfort zone and I was the designated drop driver, so once Frank, Hunter and  Clayton left, Cappy and I hiked a bit and enjoyed the scenery.

Kernville-2Clayton, assessing the mountain?

Kernville-3Hunter looks very serious about this ride.

Kernville-1Do those cute ears make you think of Yoda?

Our campsite was well shaded and the little creek behind us was great for cooling off for both us and the dog.

Cali-3Why don’t you get wet instead of taking my picture?

Floating the Kern River was pretty popular but we only had a couple of days in Kernville and biking took precedence over all else. In addition to two mountain bike rides, Frank and I enjoyed a few excellent road rides after the kids returned to work. (It is really strange to have our kids leave for work and we just continue to play!!)

Kernville-4Not a bad view as we biked along the road.

I find it very difficult to reconcile the visual effects of the mountains and the streams when I am biking. Often it looks like I’m riding downhill but feels like I am riding uphill because of the illusion the landscape creates on the incline. Generally Frank reads the grade better than I do, so I follow his lead on which direction to ride first so I’ll have a downhill ride on the way back.  But it is hard to believe him when my eyes are trying to tell me I’m going downhill!

I guess this is a gentle way of increasing my trust in Frank’s decisions because once I turned around on the rides, I was very surprised to find just how uphill the ride was on the way out. Going home was definitely downhill ~ woohoo!!!   Even when the road appears to be going downhill, if I am riding against the flow of the river, I know I am moving uphill….

Does anyone else experience difficulty determining uphill from downhill when the mountains converge near the road you are riding?

Anyway, Kernville was an excellent first stop in California. Of course it was heavily influenced by having the family together!  I’m very happy we will be in California and in closer proximity to the kids for a few weeks!

~HH55 Catamaran Update~

Although there is a looonng way to go, the most recent update from HH shows some exciting progress on our cat.  Apparently the interior painting is now complete and exterior paint will begin this week. Very exciting!  I just have to remember that even though these steps make it look like we have made a big leap toward completion, there are many less obvious and vital steps before completion.

_____201807201548012Starboard aft berth.

_____201807201548013Facing forward in the master hull; two sinks inboard, the head outboard, then the shower.

In the second photo, you can see some of the customizations HH has made on our hull.  LIB was set up as a four cabin, four head boat which was perfect for chartering and actually was very comfortable for us while we lived on board. However, on out HH55 we have chosen to reduce the number of heads and showers to just one in each hull.

In an effort to retain personal space and convenience when we revert to sharing a head, we redesigned the forward area of the owner’s hull. We changed the head from an enclosed area that included one sink, one shower and a toilet in the following way:  1. we removed the doorway into the whole area to make it feel less congested, 2. we enclosed the head for privacy but still allow access to the shower if someone is using the toilet and 3. we added a second sink so we have our own spaces.

Although we had our own heads on LIB, we think these small alterations to our HH55 will allow us to easily share one bathroom and reduce the total number of heads on board.

We very much appreciate Gino Morrelli’s help reworking the spaces in our Morrelli and Melvin designed HH55.  Gino knows every space and weight of these boats and he was instrumental in helping us figure out where to make interior changes that would make this awesome boat work for our purposes.

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