This post is long on sailing information and short on photos, but those who want to know about the HH55 Catamaran might find it interesting.
Ticket To Ride was offloaded from the container ship on January 14th and life has been busy since then…in a good way.
The first two months were all about commissioning our HH55 and having people visit the boat. TTR is one of only 4 HH55s on the water, and the first one on the West Coast of the U.S., therefore several people came to see the boat and sail on her. We were happy to meet new people and help Hudson Yacht Group and Morrelli & Melvin show off their 55’ design.
On March 16th we left LA with the Newport Beach Yacht Club Race to Cabo and we arrived in Cabo San Lucas on March 22nd.
After our last guests departed on March 30th, it was time to settle into life on board Ticket To Ride and figure out just how we feel about her.
Hands down the answer is that we are pretty much in love with our new home. We enjoyed sailing our Fountaine Pajot Helia 44, Let It Be, but we wanted to find a catamaran that was faster, sailed upwind and had a tad more space.
We found exactly what we were looking for in the HH55. The fit and finish of TTR is great and we are very comfortable. However, some boats are built to be very comfortable but they sail like dogs. Happily, this boat can really sail!
True wind angle: 134 degrees, true wind speed: 10.6k, SOG: 9.3k, boat speed: 9.6k
We have now had several experiences sailing Ticket To Ride at various wind angles and we love her performance. TTR’s sharp reverse bows allow her to cut through the water cleanly and the dagger boards help maintain her course without much slippage at all.
One afternoon we left Ensenada Grande to sail to Isla San Francisco (Sea of Cortez) which is about a 19 nm trip. The sea was choppy and the waves confused. The wind was fluctuating around 15 knots. Our destination required us to sail with a true wind angle of 50-53 degrees which translated into 30 degrees apparent wind.
We were flying the main and genoa and averaged well over 9 knots! AND we sailed directly to our destination – without slipping. We are definitely fans of the daggerboards.
Oh and not to show off, but we made lunch and sat in the salon to eat it while we sailed!!
Another day in the Sea of Cortez, we were sailing from San Evaristo to Los Gatos and we were tucked in fairly closely to the land, which turned out to be a good thing. Here are the notes I made after that sail:
The early sail was quite mild with 8 knots of wind and we had the reacher and full main up. Not long into the trip, the wind kicked in and we furled the reacher, put one reef in the main and unfurled the jib.
The wind continued to climb and soon we were seeing 25 knots of wind.
On Let It Be we used to be able to “reef” the jib by rolling in some canvas but that didn’t work at all on TTR. When we rolled in a bit of the jib, it wobbled wildly and we quickly unfurled it again. The winds were very strong so we spilled the main a bit to reduce pressure in the main sail. We had to keep a close eye on the main and jib sheets and be prepared to release them as we didn’t want to fly a hull!
Our true wind angle varied between 100 and 65 because we altered our heading when we had lighter winds (20K) so we could make our course. It was a very sporty day and we saw Ticket To Ride move along at 15+ knots for much of this trip!
Frank was LOVING the sail! I was a little nervous at first but I enjoyed the speed once we were prepared to release the main or jib if we had too much power.
I am amazed at how quickly 20 knots of wind seemed mild after bursts of 30!
We reached Los Gatos quickly and had our choice of spots to anchor.
The beautiful anchorage in Los Gatos.
Later in the day as boats we had passed while sailing set their anchors, several called us on the VHF and asked just how fast TTR was sailing. (Did I tell you we passed several boats as we sailed?)
Anyway, our AIS and VHF are only working intermittently (at the moment) and apparently the other boats were unable to contact us or see our speed through AIS. They were very interested to hear how fast we were sailing because they “felt like they were standing still” in comparison to TTR.
Yep, this boat can move!
FYI, in hindsight, although we had a reef in the main we should have hoisted the staysail and furled the jib. But the winds were not in the forecasts and we had no idea they were coming along.
Here in the Sea of Cortez, we have found that the winds vary often and suddenly. The boats that contacted us on VHF were in the center of the channel and saw winds up to 35 knots. They were also caught off guard by these unexpected winds.
The fastest we have sailed TTR is 24.7 knots when we had professionals on board and pretty perfect conditions in Long Beach, CA behind the breakwater. We have not replicated this speed on our own and I’m not sure we will try to anytime soon.
In light air with true wind angles of 85-125 degrees, Ticket To Ride often sails very close to wind speed. It is exciting to be able to put the sails up in 8 knots of wind and sail at 8 knots!
True wind angle: 96 degrees, true wind speed: 8.3k, SOG: 8.3k, boat speed: 8.7k
TTR feels like a race horse that wants to take the bit and ruuuunnnnn! She gallops through the water and is capable of more than I am willing to do. Probably Frank should go out with some guys and put her through her paces just because he wants to and I don’t.
As I mentioned earlier, TTR easily moves through the water. I believe we have less motion on this boat than we did on our Helia and the cleaner motion makes the ride more enjoyable to me.
Ticket To Ride is very comfortable to sail deep downwind, but she isn’t as fast as she could be because we do not have a spinnaker. We decided that handling such a large sail with just the two of us would be extremely taxing so instead we bought a Doyle Sails Cable-less Reacher which is cut deeper and is on a continuous line furler. It is this sail that we use when sailing downwind and so far it has worked well. A spinnaker would sail faster, but the reacher is manageable for us.
L-R: Boat speed: 10.6k, true wind angle: 149 degrees, true wind speed: 18.9k.
We made a long sail from San Juanico to Bahia Conception, about 58 nm, and the wind was deeper than forecast. As a result, we were sailing with a true wind angle of 155-165 in 8-11 knots of wind. In these conditions, we averaged between 6 and 7 knots of boat speed.
At 150-160, our reacher stayed well filled and the ride of the boat was extremely comfortable. Frank and I spent the day cleaning the decks, doing laundry, reorganizing a closet or two, etc.
The bottom line is that our HH55 Catamaran is an excellent sailing boat and sail handling is easy with just the two of us on board. We have high speed winches that allow us to quickly raise sails and make the large sails easy to change or adjust. TTR moves so well in light air that we find ourselves sailing most of the time, even when other boats are motoring. In fact, often we sail much faster than we can motor.
We sincerely appreciate the excellent design Morrelli and Melvin created and the few modifications they made at our request to make TTR an excellent sailing and cruising sailboat for our needs. The design by M&M and the fabulous build quality by HH Catamarans has resulted in a boat home we can sail easily and live in comfortably.
Please understand that Frank and I still have a LOT to learn about our HH55. We have not made an overnight passage by ourselves on TTR and we have not faced adverse conditions. Clearly these observations and comments are based on our current level of experience with our new catamaran. We do not expect our opinion to change much, but we still consider ourselves inexperienced on this boat.
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As Frank and I were leaving Isla Coronados on Thursday, we saw waves in the distance we thought might indicate a reef or shallow area.
We double and triple checked the charts, which are completely incorrect here. But we saw nothing.
Binoculars revealed the disturbance was a huge pod of dolphins! We estimated about 500 dolphin in this pod.
Needless to say it was a blast watching these guys swim around.
We idled in the area of the dolphins for about 30 minutes just watching them jumping and cavorting.
We could hear them chattering to each other as they swam. We were surprised how much noise they created.
Wow! I only wish I could share with you how fun it was to see these guys.
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Dolphins in the La Paz anchorage.
After Kristen and James flew out of La Paz, Frank and I took a couple of days to simply relax and relish being back in cruising mode. La Paz, Mexico was a great place for us to enjoy being on the hook again and get to know a few people.
There is a very active cruisers group in La Paz and we were fortunate enough to get involved immediately through their daily VHF Net which is sort of like morning announcements when you were in school; but more interesting.
For those unfamiliar with a Net, they differ a bit by location but each usually has a set format that goes something like this:
The host of the net starts announcing around 8 am on the same VHF channel each day and the order of business usually includes:
~emergencies among the cruisers
~boats arriving or leaving
~activities in and around the area
~items people have for sale or things people are in need of
~questions about where to buy something or have boat work done
The host acknowledges boats who have information to contribute on each topic, then moves to the next item.
Cruisers nets are very beneficial to boaters and it allows local businesses to let cruisers know if they have special events planned.
Anyway, the La Paz Cruisers net is very well organized and informative. It was a great way to jump start our return to cruising.
Sunset in La Paz
One of the reasons Frank and I wanted to be in La Paz in early April was that the Annual Mahalo/Women Who Sail Rendezvous began on April 6th.
In 2015, Frank and I participated in the very first WWS Rendezvous as a BYOB (Bring Your Own Boat) on Let It Be in the BVIs. We thought the coincidence that our first long trip on LIB coincided with the first WWS Rendezvous and our first long trip on Ticket To Ride matched the 5th WWS Rendezvous was too obvious to ignore.
So we contacted Captain Holly Scott and signed up as a BYOB. Holly put us in touch with Sherri and Steve aboard s/v Pablo who were already in La Paz.
I had a great time tagging along with Sherri as she used donations from the WWS/Mahalo group to buy more than 20 pairs of tennis shoes for kids living in a nearby fishing village.
Panoramic view from the restaurant in San Evaristo.
The Mahalo/WWS Rendezvous ladies contribute to one needy community each year and this year the fishing village in San Evaristo was the recipient. In addition to shoes, the Mahalo Rendezvous contributed the supplies needed to plumb fresh water from the roadside to the school.
The school in San Evaristo.
The information I received from Sherri on s/v Pablo is that the Mexican Government recently ran plumbing from a fresh water well to the roadside of homes and businesses in San Evaristo and it is up to the individual to get the water from the street to their building.
Mahalo/WWS provided the supplies to pipe the water from the street to the school in San Evaristo.
By the way, the well water only flows twice a week and each family must store necessary water between days. (There is no electricity in San Evaristo. Residents use solar panels to charge batteries and that is their power source.)
An early morning drone shot in Caleta Partida.
I won’t give you the blow by blow of our time with the WWS group, but I will share some pictures of the places we visited.
It was quite entertaining to listen to the 7 chartered boat captains and crew on the VHF net for the group. There was much laughter and banter and each net included jokes and other entertainment. It was very fun to be part of this lively group of women who love sailing and exploring.
Dawn in Caleta Partida.
A couple of ladies joined Frank and me on a little snorkel in Caleta Partida. The water was chilly but the sea life was plentiful and diverse. Much fun.
Swimming with sea lions.
One morning the fleet of boats went to Ensenada Grande where tour operators picked us up and took us to swim with sea lions. It was a blast! The young male pups are very curious and would swim nearby, then roll over like a dog asking for his belly to be scratched.
Fishermen an at Isla San Francisco.
One of my favorite sights during our time with the Mahalo/WWS group was in Isla San Francisco. I awakened early one morning to the sound of men speaking Spanish outside the boat.
Turns out it was fishermen casting their nets for baitfish in the early morning light. It was a beautiful sight and demonstrated the camaraderie of the men and the simple way of life here.
Throwing a casting net for bait fish.
The fisherman chased the baitfish between boats.
But do not misinterpret simple for easy. The people here are hard working and the amenities are few compared to life in the U.S. The villages are remote and most are similar to San Evaristo – no electricity and very little fresh water.
We traveled with the Mahalo/WWS Rendezvous until their most northern anchorage then waved a fond goodbye as they turned south and we pointed further into the Sea of Cortez.
I am exceeding grateful to Captain Holly Scott for organizing these Rendezvous. They offer excellent sailing opportunities for many women on chartered boats but also allow live aboard ladies to join the fun. Holly and her crew facilitate seeing beautiful places while creating new friendships and helping local residents.
This is truly a win win event!
I’m having difficulty publishing with so little connection and I have to work on my phone only, so forgive me typos and abrupt transitions. Thank you for reading our blog. Please check out the FB page for more regular information.
While in La Paz, Frank, Kristen, James and myself went on a whale shark adventure. For conservation purposes, visitors must be accompanied by a guide which is a great idea so these giant beasts aren’t bothered TOO much.
I was surprised how much swimming was involved – after spotting the shark, the panga driver would get in front of the fish and the guide would tell us to slip into the water. Soon the whale shark would be upon us and we would swim like crazy to keep up.
A large mouth for filtering food!
We would swim for about 10 minutes then return to the panga and repeat the process. We had a blast!
This swimmer gives you an idea of the size of the whale shark.
The largest confirmed whale shark recorded was 62 feet! The ones we saw were a mere 35-40 feet. The life span of whale sharks has been difficult to determine but using two methods of estimation, modeling and field study, have shown two contradictory life spans. Modeling suggests that whale sharks live about 70 years, but field studies suggest that whale sharks could live as long as 130 years! Amazing.
As we were leaving the protected waters of the whale shark, we saw a large pod of dolphins and asked the guide if we could swim with them. The panga driver accelerated to get in front of the dolphins and we all jumped in as the dolphins approached us.
The water was only about 12 feet deep and the dolphins swam right toward us, checked us out a little, then swam quickly below us and away. We could hear them chattering as they swam and it was exhilarating! Sorry no photos. 😦
I have a great video of the whale shark, but I cannot get it uploaded on WP. I will try to upload it on Facebook….
Thank you for reading our blog. We have zilch connectivity in the Sea of Cortez, so I don’t have the opportunity to write often. This is the best I could do for now. Please check our FB page for more regular posts.
While anchored in Los Frailes we noticed the pelicans gathering in one spot and figured there must be a school of fish and it was meal time. I grabbed my camera hoping to catch the action.
Was there a school of bait fish?
Soon we saw a seal surface below the birds and I wondered what the relationship was between them. My camera revealed that the seal was very busy procuring his afternoon snack and the birds were looking for handouts.
Several birds spying for pieces from above the water.
It wasn’t long before I saw the seal break the surface and thrash about with a fish in his mouth. I’m guessing he smashes the fish against the water to kill it?
From far away it looked like play, but this seal was serious about his fish.
You can see how the fish is breaking apart in the thrashing process and the birds are ready to pounce on any scraps that fly free.
The pelicans were jockeying positions to get close to the seal.
I think the birds are hoping the seal accidentally lets go as he slings this fish!
Apparently seals consume four to six percent of their body weight each day, so these birds are pretty savvy to follow the seal feast!
I found watching the interaction between the seal and the birds pretty interesting and I hope you do too. That fish looks pretty gross though if you zoom in on the pictures. Next time you see birds gathering, maybe a seal will surface and now you know he isn’t just playing around and splashing water at the birds! There is food to be had!!
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If you haven’t been checking our HH55 Ticket to Ride Facebook page, you might not know that after seeing the container ship holding TTR anchored in the harbor for 7 days, our sailboat was finally unloaded! The process of unloading a sailboat and setting it up again has been very interesting! Well, I have found it interesting, but it is my home, so that could add to the appeal.
First, I must tell you that the week Ticket to Ride was delivered, L.A. was experiencing more rain than usual. In fact they received almost as much rain that week as they usually receive in a whole year!!!
This was not perfect weather, but we were so happy that TTR was arriving, it didn’t bother us a bit during the off loading process.
Chris Bailet, Gino Morrelli, Frank, Mary Grace, Mark Womble, Scott Gray
Chris Bailet, HH commissioning skipper, Gino Morrelli and Mark Womble of M&M and Scott Gray of Rigging Projects and Frank and I arrived at the port bright and early wearing our foul weather gear. We were escorted to the container ship immediately. TTR was in the hold of the APL Sentosa which was in the process of being unloaded by cranes.
(Video of a crane unloading a container.)
I was amazed at how huge and fast and organized the process of offloading the containers actually occurs. But when you consider that the APL Sentosa can carry 13,892 containers, they better load and unload quickly.
Midway up the stacked containers – the photo doesn’t really capture it.
We climbed ladders and gangways in the Sentosa until we were about midway up the height of the stacked containers where the ships’ bosun met us and unlocked the doors where TTR was secured.
TTR was snuggly wrapped and strapped down inside a locker all to herself.
Our first step was to unwrap the lower half of the shrink wrap protecting Ticket to Ride so the U.S. Customs officers could board and inspect her. We were not allowed to board TTR until Customs gave us the all clear.
Seeing “Ticket to Ride” written on the stern for the first time.
Once TTR was inspected, the crane operator removed the three sections of roof covering Ticket to Ride. Chris Bailet, commissioning captain for HH Catamarans, had wisely directed us to leave the top of the shrink wrap on the boat until the container tops were lifted. The noise of that process was deafening and dirt and rust rained down on the boat. I was super happy Chris had told us to wait to unwrap the boat!
After the roof was gone, we unwrapped the remainder of the protective plastic and unstrapped TTR from the Sentosa. The crane hooked into the HH shipping cradle and began rising to tighten the straps while Chris verified that TTR was properly balanced before actually lifting her out of the ship.
Shrink wrap off and ready to lift.
Chris had just signaled the ‘go ahead’ to lift TTR when suddenly the electricity to the whole port of L.A. went out!
How could that even happen?
Mort, the foreman from the port, told me that almost anytime it rains they experiences ‘brown outs.’ Seriously?!
We were surprised and disappointed the electricity had gone out but we were really, really glad the outage happened before TTR was lifted!!! Can you imagine the stress of having your boat suspended 100 feet above ground and having the electricity go out?!
About 30 minutes later the electricity was restored, the crane was recalibrated and the lifting process began again. While we waited for the electricity to be restored, the wind and rain settled down which made hoisting Ticket to Ride a good bit safer.
TTR was gently lifted out of the confines of the ship and hoisted over the side of the Sentosa above the concrete loading area of the port.
(Video of TTR being moved sideways above the port loading road.)
The crane move sideways, parallel to the Sentosa until it was aft of the container ship and across from an area of the dock open to the water.
Gino Morrelli, Mary Grace and Frank.
Since TTR was still strapped to the shipping cradle, she had to be lowed to the peer and unstrapped so she could float free when the platform was in the water. Chris removed straps and once more verified the balance of the boat on the cradle while Frank and I took pictures and celebrated that TTR was finally here in the States and almost in the water.
Finally entering the water!
We watched as Ticket to Ride was lifted one last time and moved toward the water, then we scrambled over to the Towboat USA boat which ferried us the few meters over to TTR while she was still slightly suspended in the water on the cradle.
Chris made short work of starting the engines and making sure all was well aboard before asking the crane operator to release TTR to the water.
Chris piloting TTR away from the port of L.A.
Amazingly, after TTR’s 7,035 mile trip on the Sentosa, she was in perfect condition and the engines started up without a hitch.
The rain had included a good bit of wind and kicked up the sea state, even behind the breakwater it was quite rough as we motored to the Alamitos Bay Marina. But HH did an excellent job of securing the mast and boom and they didn’t budge a bit even with the steep waves.
Waves breaking over the breakwater.
If you look beyond the TowBoat, you can see the spray of the waves pounding against the breakwater. The swells were pretty big where there were breaks in the sea walls but even with the slippery shipping rudders, Chris handled TTR without any difficulty.
Needless to say all of us exhaled a sigh of relief after Ticket to Ride was off the ship, back in the water and safely at the dock.
Next up would be swapping out the shipping rudders for our spade rudders, stepping the mast and tuning the rigging. BUT California had another surprise in store for us…. the shipyard won’t operate the cranes in the rain so we actually had to wait four days before we could begin that process. Which I will share in the next blog.
After waiting what felt like a very long time for the delivery of TTR, Frank and I are excited to feel like this dream is really coming to fruition. We couldn’t wait to move on board, so we spent that very first night on Ticket to Ride and have been here every night since.
We are thrilled to be back on a floating home and hear the sounds of water at night as we drift off to sleep.
Once more we must express our sincere gratitude to the many people who have and are helping us with TTR. Hats off to HH Catamarans for building our very special home with excellent quality and high standards. AND for understanding the need for and providing the help of the commissioning team. A huge thank you to Morrelli and Melvin for designing such a great catamaran and incorporating the modifications we wanted so TTR would suit our needs very well. Innumerable thanks to Chris Ballet and Lauren Battaile as they spearhead the commissioning and teach us to make this cat purr – or roar!
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As we prepared to take off to China to check on the progress of Ticket to Ride, I was looking through some old photos and came across these of us using our Siesta Loungers.
We first used inflatable Siesta Loungers when we were boating on Lake Ouachita in Arkansas more than a dozen years ago. We thought these floating chairs would be fun to have on LIB. So we tucked them into a forepeak and used a kite board pump for easy inflation at various anchorages.
Apparently Frank was looking for shaded comfort on this particular day.
Frank’s photo was taken while in the Abacos.
I am demonstrating the Siesta lounger in a cool setting while reading a book on my kindle.
Comfy, quiet time in Bonaire.
Even Captain enjoys the Siesta Loungers. Sometimes she sits in one and we pull her along while we snorkel.
Have to admit, Cappy has a pretty nice life aboard!
Looking back at pictures makes us even more excited to move back onto a boat and search out new Siesta Lounger spots.
Thanks for stopping by. We will try to post some new picture of TTR from China! Look at our Facebook page for more regular posts.