Blog Archives

Casual Time On Ticket To Ride

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.

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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!

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“Let’s just see where the shower pump is located.”

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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.

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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:

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This cactus photo bombed my picture of Avalon Harbor.

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Do you think those will all bloom?

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Just a pretty shot with vibrant colors.

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Hmmm, is the car dumping rocks downhill?

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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!

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

Up Goes The Mast ~ Finally

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:

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Chris attaching the crane to the mast.

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Lift off from the cradle.

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Swinging the mast over to land so lines and electronics can be sorted out.

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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.

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Raising the mast again to move it back onto TTR.

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Frank, Gio and Lauren have guidelines attached to spreaders to help orient the mast.

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The taller crane allowed the mast to be completely upright while moving.

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Francois is in the hatch to guide electronics wires downward.

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Scott and Chris preparing the jack and shims for the mast.

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Scott attaching the second shroud.

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Chris attaching the forestay and third point of balance for the mast.

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Checking the pressure and shims before the mast is finally lowered into place.

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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.

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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.

 

 

Our Ship Finally Came In!

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.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0597.JPGChris 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.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0602.JPGMidway 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.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0608.JPG 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.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0614.JPGSeeing “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.

frame-29-01-2019-07-43-54Shrink 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.

img_7152Gino 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.

i5cbtnrxqykudb1u9v97xa_thumb_d991Finally 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.

img_5644 2Chris 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.

frame-29-01-2019-08-02-29Waves breaking over the breakwater.

If you look beyond the TowBoat, you can see the spray of the waves pounding against the breakwater.  The swells were pretty big where there were breaks in the sea walls but even with the slippery shipping rudders, Chris handled TTR without any difficulty.

Needless to say all of us exhaled a sigh of relief after Ticket to Ride was off the ship, back in the water and safely at the dock.

Next up would be swapping out the shipping rudders for our spade rudders, stepping the mast and tuning the rigging. BUT California had another surprise in store for us…. the shipyard won’t operate the cranes in the rain so we actually had to wait four days before we could begin that process.  Which I will share in the next blog.

After waiting what felt like a very long time for the delivery of TTR, Frank and I are excited to feel like this dream is really coming to fruition. We couldn’t wait to move on board, so we spent that very first night on Ticket to Ride and have been here every night since.

We are thrilled to be back on a floating home and hear the sounds of water at night as we drift off to sleep.

Once more we must express our sincere gratitude to the many people who have and are helping us with TTR.  Hats off to HH Catamarans for building our very special home with excellent quality and high standards. AND for understanding the need for and providing the help of the commissioning team.  A huge thank  you to Morrelli and Melvin for designing such a great catamaran and incorporating the modifications we wanted so TTR would suit our needs very well. Innumerable thanks to Chris Ballet and Lauren Battaile as they spearhead the commissioning and  teach us to make this cat purr – or roar!   

Thanks so much for stopping by to read our blog. We welcome your comments. For more regular information, please visit our FB page.

 

 

 

Stiiiil Waiiiiting!

I would love this post to be about the arrival of HH55 Ticket to Ride, but it is about delay instead.

ttr   I wish that was the California coast in the background, but…

Unfortunately this photo is not TTR with Los Angeles in the background. This is from our time sailing in Xiamen, China.

We have been tracking the container ship carrying TTR as it crossed the China Sea and the Pacific Ocean.  We were excited to see it getting close to LA and knew the ship was arriving around January 7th.

But close is all we are at the moment.

ship 2So close and yet so far….

This is a screen shot showing the location of the container ship carrying TTR.  The ship arrived on January 7th, but the port is backed up and the vessel is anchored just outside of the unloading docks.

Yesterday we were told “our” container ship would dock on Friday and the contents would be unloaded on Monday, January 14th. About a week later than expected, but we had an expected date.

This morning we received notice that although the contents of the ship had been released, Customs has pulled back on that decision and wants to inspect the ship. I have no idea why this decision has been made. I only know that it means TTR will not be unloaded Monday.

Our agent has assured us that all the paperwork is in order and has been turned into the authorities.  We have done all we can to make the delivery go smoothly.

We no longer have an off load date.

So now we just wait. And we wait. And wait.

Thanks for reading our blog. We hope to have better news soon. Please look to our Facebook page for more up to date information.

 

 

Ticket To Ride Is Arriving! Yippee!

Version 2Sailing TTR in China

Needless to say we have been impatiently awaiting the delivery of our new HH55 Catamaran.  We signed a contract in early September 2017 and waiting for Ticket to Ride to arrive has been a challenge.

ttr -2Let It Be floating in the Bahamian water.

That isn’t to say we have not enjoyed ourselves while TTR was under construction! We absolutely loved our last sailboat, Let It Be, and the exploring we did on her.

watson falls, or-1Watson Falls, Oregon

Having a chance to drive around the U.S. and see so much of this country has been really eye opening and we have seen amazingly beautiful places.

ttr -1Crater Lake, Oregon. And yes, that blue is the actual color of the water in certain light!

However, we do miss living on the water and we are super excited to move on board TTR.

Based on what we heard today, the container ship carrying Ticket to Ride will arrive in Los Angeles on January 8th!

davTTR wrapped and ready to be loaded on the container ship.

Once the ship arrives in Los Angeles, TTR will be unloaded onto a dock where we will dispense with the shrink wrap currently protecting her.  After the shrink wrap is removed, TTR will be lowered into the water and we will motor away to our temporary marina in Long Beach.

The mast will remain on the coach roof while we motor to the marina.  Stepping the mast requires a crane which we were able to schedule for Friday.

HYM employs the services of a young captain, Chris, who will help us commission TTR and make her ready for sailing and life aboard.  Chris has been involved with the commissioning of all of the HH55 cats and has experience commissioning and racing the HH66.  So in addition to making sure everything is functioning properly on TTR, we are counting on Chris to teach us a few tricks and secrets about handling the HH55.

nalaRacing the HH66 Nala. (Photo from HH Catamarans)

Although the HH55 is built to fly a hull like in the picture above, that is not of interest to me, and I will not be asking Chris for advice on this maneuver! (Yet.)

In addition to Chris’s proficiency, experts from Rigging Projects and Pochon Electronics will be on hand to set the rigging properly and get all the systems up and running.

Fortunately for us, Morrelli and Melvin office in Newport Beach which is only a stones throw away from Long Beach. That means we will have additional support and knowledge from M&M, who designed the HH catamarans.

We will certainly offer greater detail about what is happening on TTR as things progress and I have time to write about the experience of taking delivery of our HH55.  But for now, getting TTR ready will keep us busy for the next little while!

What a fun way to begin 2019!

Check out our FB page if you would like to see more frequent posts about TTR.

Thanks for reading our blog. And thank you for hanging out on land with us while we were between boats. We look forward to getting our sea legs back and sharing our cruising lifestyle once again!

 

 

Merry Christmas!

“It isn’t the size of the tree that matters, it’s the love in your heart that counts!”

Quotes made up by me. 🙂

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Our Christmas tree this year is 20″ tall!

We hope you have a Merry Christmas this year and we especially hope it is a blessed one. 

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Surprise! We will be mountain biking in Santa Cruz!

Our Christmas be spent in the RV in Santa Cruz, CA and will include our kids this year. Since we consider them, and our families, our greatest blessing, we know Christmas will be wonderful.

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Just one of the amazing things we saw traveling the U.S. (Arizona)

Needless to say, 2018 has been a year of change for us, but thankfully they have been good changes and changes of choice.  We have thoroughly enjoyed our time exploring the U.S. since selling Let It Be back in May.

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Photo taken on a bike ride in the Dolomites, Italy

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Another pretty view from our VBT bike tour.

 In addition to traveling the U.S., we had the opportunity to go to Italy for an excellent bike trip through Vermont Bike Tours. A special thank you to Terrie and Brad for inviting us to join them and their friends. The people were really fun and the places we visited were great.

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Frank at the helm of TTR.

We also traveled to China to oversee the progress of TTR and to sail our boat.   We expended a LOT of energy in the building process of Ticket to Ride throughout 2018 and we can hardly wait for her delivery to the West Coast which is expected just days into the new year!

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TTR being hoisted to the shipping dock.

TTR is the culmination of the vision of Morrelli and Melvin being brought to life by HH Catamarans, with slight changes to accommodate our specific preferences. There are far too many individuals who contributed to this project to name them all, but we are very grateful to every single person who has helped us along the way.

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Ticket to Ride wrapped and ready to load on a container ship.

As we conclude 2018, we are thankful for our many blessings and for the opportunities we have to see so much and meet people from all over the world. We are thankful for prayers answered, especially those for friends who have battled illnesses or who have lost homes to natural disasters. We are conscious of our losses this year, especially of our sweet dog, Captain.

As we transition into 2019, we do so with thanks and great excitement. We can hardly wait to move onto Ticket to Ride! For us, there is something magical about living on the water and we look forward to doing so again.

Thank you to those who have traveled with us through our blog this year, especially since our focus was temporarily directed away from cruising which is the basis for our journaling. We look forward to learning about our new boat and resuming the cruising lifestyle and we hope you enjoy our musings as we move forward.

Once again, Merry Christmas to all who celebrate the birth of Christ and blessings to those who celebrate differently. We hope 2019 is filled with joy and contentment for you.

As always, thank you for visiting our blog. If you would like to hear from us more often, please check our FB page: HH55 Ticket to Ride. We look forward to returning to the water in 2019!

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Sea Trials On HH55 Ticket To Ride

After a 15 hour flight we arrived in Xiamen, China at 6 am. Between a long flight and flying into a whole new day, we could have been tired, but our excitement to see Ticket to Ride in the water and ready to sail precluded any fatigue.

HH has been extremely generous on all of our visits and provides us with transportation so we never have to try to communicate our destination to a driver.  A car arrives at our hotel, we say hello (almost the extent of our Mandarin) and we are whisked away to our destination.

This trip was no different and a driver picked us up at the airport. As soon as we dropped our luggage at the hotel and picked up Gino Morrelli, who had arrived the previous day, we headed out to see TTR.

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China blends ancient and modern everywhere you look.

It was quite a thrill to see our boat floating in the harbor waiting for us to climb aboard! The culmination of more than a year of planning and monitoring the construction of our future home was incredibly exciting for us.

We have spent hours with Gino and Mark, of Morrelli and Melvin, refining the boat for our cruising needs and for sailing TTR with just Frank and me on board.  Frank spent countless hours reviewing drawings HH created as the boat was being constructed. Thomas, Ricardo, Emma, James, Taka, Jessica and so many, many others at HH poured untold numbers of hours into actually fabricating this vessel and we were finally going to sail her!

The weather was a bit overcast, but the winds were perfect for our purposes. The first day we had light breezes, the second day were a little stronger and the third day the winds gusted as high as 23 knots.  The progressive increase in the wind was perfect for testing the rigging on Ticket to Ride.  Matt, from Rigging Projects, was on board with us the first three days examining and tweaking the rigging to make sure everything was stable and strong.

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TTR flying the full main and solent.

Mark, with Doyle Sails, joined us for a bit to review the fit of our new canvas. With the exception of a few minor changes needed on our mainsail, we are extremely pleased with the fit of our new Doyle sails.

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Frank, Mark and Matt messing with sails.

After Matt was comfortable with the rigging, and we had spent two days progressively testing the boat, Gino, Thomas, Matt and James took advantage of the winds and pushed TTR a bit to see what she could do.

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TTR felt solid and stable even at 19.5 knots!!!

And sail her we did!! As you can see from the screen shot above, we managed to get TTR moving along nicely.  This shot was taken while we were sailing the full mainsail and the solent…. imagine if we had had the reacher up?!

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David and Frank discussing boats as Gino helms.

The final day of sea trials, Frank and I had a chance to “take the reins” on Ticket to Ride. Thomas walked us through raising the main and furling the solent and reacher. We certainly weren’t race boat crew fast, but we did manage to accomplish the tasks.  Fortunately we didn’t have any issues, but I can tell you that TTR is ready to run! She can load up quickly and we will have to be very aware of changing wind conditions as TTR will ramp up much faster than Let It Be did.

HH is very conscientious about caring for our boat. The interior and exterior cushions are still wrapped in plastic, the floors are protected with cardboard, the cabinetry tops are protected, etc. As a result, I don’t have interior shots to share, but we are very pleased with the quality of the workmanship…. and with the colors we have chosen.

One of the challenges HH is facing right now is that the marina they used for sea trials is closed due to some financial issues. The result is that TTR is moored in the harbor and two people from HH stay on board at all times.  Another example of the level of care taken to protect the HH boats.

Ricardo didn’t want to risk having the mooring ball damage or scratch TTR, so he wrapped the whole mooring ball in padding.  I captured this shot of him refining his work.

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Ricardo wraps the mooring ball to protect the boat.

The closure of the marina also makes access to the boat more challenging.  Almost every time we went to TTR, we met the dinghy at a different spot on land. Frank and I actually find these changes funny and interesting, though I guess some people might be annoyed by it.  Still, each time we catch the dinghy at a different location we are driven through a new and interesting part of Xiamen, so we kind of enjoy the adventure of not knowing what to expect each day.

Here is a picture of the steps we had to climb down to get into the bow of the dinghy our first day in Xiamen. Isn’t this a kick?!

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 That is our driver watching from above to make sure we are safely aboard.

While there are still a few bugs to iron out and finishing touches to complete, we are extremely happy with our HH55.  We can hardly wait to actually move on board and resume our life as live aboard sailors.

Thanks so much for reading our page. If you want to hear from us more often, please visit our FB page: HH55 Ticket to Ride.

 

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.

 

 

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