Blog Archives

Newport, RI ~ Home Of The Giant Boats

This last two weeks has been one for the travel books, which sounds weird since we live a traveling lifestyle.  However,  we flew from California to Texas, Texas to Annapolis and Annapolis to Rhode Island. And tomorrow we fly back to California via Chicago.

Texas was all about doctor visits and was so quick we hardly saw anyone! 😦

Annapolis was all about the sailboat show and visiting with sailing friends new and long term. (Notice I do not say “old” about friends anymore!)  We had a great time reconnecting with some of our 2016 Sail to the Sun Rally Group. If you are interested in our experience with this rally, see our posts from October through December 2016.  Spoiler Alert:  We had a blast and are still in touch with many of the Ralliers!

We traveled to Bristol, RI to complete the hands on portion of the Safety at Sea Course, which was excellent! We highly recommend this course and I will write a blog specifically about the class very soon.

The reason for this quick blog is to share photos from our stop at the Newport Harbor today.  We went to visit Chris Bailet (captain extraordinaire) who was the commissioning skipper for Ticket To Ride.  Our visit with Chris was great and fun and informative, as always.

But walking through the boatyard was like walking through a museum of beautiful boats! You know you are surrounded by some amazing boats when 66 foot catamarans look small.

I took a few quick shots with my phone because the boats were just so pretty and impressive.

First lets start with the boats with which I am familiar:

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HH66 Nala ~ a stunner.

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Turn 45 degrees and oh, look, it’s Phaedo, a beautiful Gunboat.

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Speaking of Gunboat ~ here is the new 68′ “Condor”

But enough of the catamarans, how about a little variety?

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This 140′ monohull is in fabulous condition!

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Check out the wrap on this racer! And those dagger boards!

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Notice the keel?

This boat might not catch your eye immediately, well except for its sheer size. But hey, you want to go shallow? Can you see the rather unusual keel? Check out the close up below.

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This keel folds up in shallow water!

But perhaps you are more of a motor sailor…. how about a cute little tug boat that has been refitted?

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Isn’t that great? And I am sure you can carry all the toys you desire!

But perhaps you prefer to travel in a slightly more luxurious style.  This motor yacht might strike your fancy.

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Gitana is giganta!

Notice that Gitana is still attached to the travel lift which we saw move her back into the water.  I was nervous when TTR was lifted, so imagine how it feels to have this boat hauled!

Oh, by the way, that is a 500 metric ton travel lift!!!

Hmmm, I thought they did things BIG in Texas…. wonder if there are Texas yards to rival this one?

Which one of these boats is your favorite?

Enough ogling of giant boats for me.  I am truly content with TTR and I can hardly wait to fly home tomorrow.

But I hope you enjoyed seeing the pictures of these very impressive boats.

Thanks for stopping to read our blog.  Feel free to comment below. And if you want to hear from us more often, please check out our Facebook page: HH55 Ticket To Ride.

A Tiny But Beautiful Glimpse Into Santa Cruz Island

So last week, Frank and I had the opportunity to do a little sailing and explore a bit more of California.  We left Long Beach and headed directly to Santa Cruz Island, which was about 70 miles.

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Sunrise over Long Beach.

We started the day early and motored until the wind filled in about half way to our destination. Once the sails were out, our speed increased and we managed to arrive at Santa Cruz around 3 pm.

Santa Cruz is 22 miles long and varies between 2 and 6 miles across making it the largest of the eight Channel Islands.  We were able to spend 5 nights on Santa Cruz and we anchored in three different anchorages.

Our first stop was Potato Cove because it was a very calm day which is needed to stop there. We were the only boat and we dropped the bow anchor and a stern anchor, prepared to stay the night in the beautiful isolation of this tiny bay.  But between the noise and smell of the birds and sea lions, plus the pestering of insects, we decided a different location would be better.

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A decent view while lounging on TTR in Little Scorpion.

Instead of staying in Potato Cove, we motored over to Little Scorpion and dropped the anchor.  We spent two nights anchored at Scorpion and relished being back on the hook and feeling like cruisers again.  The anchorage was very pretty and the light during the day and at night was crisp and clear.

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Full moon rising over Santa Cruz while anchored in Little Scorpion.

We took a couple of great walks that offered fabulous views as you can see from the pictures below.

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That anchorage is Little Scorpion but TTR is tucked in near shore and out of sight.

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Looking west from up high on Santa Cruz.

There is evidence that Santa Cruz Island has had human occupation dating back 10,000 years! During the mid to late 1800s, ranching and farming were introduced to Santa Cruz Island.  Pigs and sheep were raised on the island and both olive trees and grapes were planted.  

I’m not certain, but I believe the combination of difficult terrain and the challenges of transporting goods needed and for sale soon caused a collapse of the farming on Santa Cruz. 

The sheep and pigs that were abandoned on the island became feral, they multiplied and caused great damage to the vegetation on Santa Cruz. In addition, the chemical DDT caused the shells of native bald eagles to become too fragile to incubate which decimated the bald eagle population on the island. With the demise of the bald eagles, Golden Eagles began hunting on the island to feast off of the piglets and foxes.

Basically the natural balance of Santa Cruz was destroyed by the introduction of the new non-indigenous animals and plants.

Several decades ago, efforts were begun to restore Santa Cruz to its’ natural state by removing the feral pigs and sheep, relocating the golden eagles, restoring native plants and reintroducing the bald eagles back onto Santa Cruz. (Restoration information gathered from The Nature Conservancy.)

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We found areas of  Santa Cruz had more lush vegetation than on Santa Barbara.

The Santa Cruz Island Fox, the smallest fox in the world, was near extinction, but efforts to breed these foxes in captivity and release them on Santa Cruz has been successful. Between the breeding program and the removal of the Golden Eagles, the Santa Cruz fox is beginning to thrive once more.  (The Nature Conservancy)

Our next stop on Santa Cruz was Prisoners Harbor.  We met the folks from our two neighboring boats and enjoyed sharing sundowners with them. Ironically it turns out the people on s/v Fellowship had met Clayton’s friend Connor while Connor was sailing in the Sea of Cortez on his first boat, s/v Sea Casa.  What a small world!!

Although I am admittedly a warm water girl, the water in Prisoners Harbor was calling me so I took the opportunity to swim and snorkel while Frank headed out on the SUP to explore the nearby landing area.

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Anacapa Island shrouded in clouds.

The wind and water were exceedingly calm which was great because, unlike the Caribbean Islands, there is often very little protection in the harbors on the islands. If the wind had changed, Prisoners Harbor could have become very uncomfortable.

One of the reasons we went to Santa Cruz is that we had heard the worlds largest sea cave is on Santa Cruz and Frank and I really wanted to see it.  We upped anchor in Prisoners Harbor and headed to Cueva Valdez anchorage so we would be close enough to dinghy to the Painted Cave.

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How lucky are we to have this view?

Cueva Valdez is a tiny little bay that was just stunning! We spent the first afternoon appreciating it from the boat but the next day we explored the bits of beach.

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Cave dinghy parking for one, please.

How cute is this little spot where we stowed Day Tripper while we climbed around on the rocks on shore? We never did see the Santa Cruz Island fox, but I’m pretty sure I saw fox prints inside the cave!

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A little birdie came to nap on TTR.

The big appeal for me to head to Santa Cruz, in addition to some quiet, undeveloped anchorages, was the Painted Cave and I was not disappointed! We did make a wrong guess about which cave was the cave at first but our wrong turn exposed us a bunch of sea lions.  It was early morning and the sea lions had a lot of energy.

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Hey who are you guys?

The sea lions looked like a bunch of swimming gophers with their necks extended trying to figure our who we were! But when we came back the second time, they must have already had their morning playtime and feeding as they were much more chilled.

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Supposedly sea lions lie around with flippers up to regulate their body temperature.

After researching the Painted Cave, I have learned that it is the largest sea cave in California and the fourth longest sea cave in the world.  So, though it isn’t the biggest in the world, it’s pretty amazing!

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Yep, we took Day Tripper into that ever narrowing and darkening cave!

Although the water is only 30 feet deep, the cave entrance is 160 feet high! And it extends 1227 feet in length – more than three football fields.  And let me tell you, it is pitch black deep in that cave!

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Colorful and narrowing.

I shot video going into the cave so you can have a better feeling for what the inside of the cave looked like….

Ignore the video quality and enjoy the cave…

The first time we went in Painted Cave, we had the motor running and the sea lions in the back were barking up a storm! I was pretty nervous because I could hear (and smell) the sea lions, but I couldn’t see them unless I shined the flash light right on them!

There was a rock shelf in the darkness and the cave split into two directions. On that shelf were about a dozen sea lions and we were much closer to them than I wanted to be when we spotted them in our flashlights!

The variety of color on the walls of the cave was surprising and really pretty.

The combination of the colors inside the cave and the tall expanse followed by the complete darkness was a very interesting experience.

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Returning to the light at the entrance was very welcome!

Apparently sea caves develop along a weak area of rock which is pummeled by wave action. They can occur in a variety of rock types and often along a line between layers of rock with differing hardnesses.  Painted Cave developed along a fault line which increased its’ weakness and susceptibility to erosion by the waves. (Thank you Wikipedia!)

After exploring the Painted Cave, we returned to TTR and relaxed in our little private anchorage, relishing the quiet of nature before leaving for Santa Barbara the next morning.

Five days was not nearly enough time to see Santa Cruz. There are several other places we would have liked to explore, but at least we had a chance to see a bit of this island and get a taste for its’ unique flavor.

As always, thank you for reading our blog. We would love to hear your comments. If you would like to hear from us more often, please check out our Facebook page.

 

One Foot On Shore And One Foot Aboard

So life aboard Ticket To Ride is great but the other day Frank and I were talking about how we feel like we aren’t really cruisers at the moment but we also aren’t land dwellers.  That old ‘not fish and not fowl’ situation.

We have truly enjoyed being in Long Beach and sailing to Catalina and Santa Barbara Islands. We have taken full advantage of on-line ordering and I’m pretty certain Amazon thinks we are the greatest customers ever.  We have taken advantage of the grocery nearby and cooked new recipes with foods we can’t find in more remote places.  We have gathered with friends to share land events and sailing events.

However, we don’t completely fit into land life since we live on a dock and we don’t have a car.  If we need to go somewhere, generally we ride our e-scooters or take the dinghy, until we accumulate a few errands that are further away, then we rent a car. Also, unlike those in stationary homes and very typical of cruisers, we scramble and scratch to find decent internet and are quite limited in our ability to stream anything. We do have a cell/data plan, but we go through it surprisingly fast if we have to use it for all of our research.

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The first “internet cafe” we found in the Sea of Cortez 2 weeks after leaving La Paz.

In some ways we have the best of both the cruising and the land dwelling world; the conveniences of US good and services, but the option to leave the dock for short escapes from the city.

One super exciting event for me was that one of my brothers, Jeff, came to visit. This is the first time he has visited us since we moved aboard in 2015.  We did our very best to make sure he had a good time and will come visit us again!

As soon as Jeff arrived from the airport, we tossed off the dock lines and sailed toward Catalina Island.  Since I live on a sailboat, it is hard to believe that this was the first time my brother has ever sailed! But he took to it like a duck on water and was soon manning the helm.

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It’s a far cry from a golf course but this pro had no problem.

Jeff has as much energy as Frank does so we keep him busy with hikes, exploring by dinghy, paddle boarding, sailing, etc.  Plus the Long Point Regatta was this weekend which was fun to watch.

The invitation only Long Point Regatta is organized by the Balboa Yacht Club and the Newport Yacht Club and includes three races; the first race was from Newport Beach to White’s Cove on Catalina Island, the second race was a return course from Long Point to Ship Rock and the third race was from White’s Cove to Newport Pier.

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A few of the contestants preparing for race start.

The race start was especially fun to watch as all of the boats danced around the starting buoys waiting for their class to begin. The fact that we had an excellent view of the start while comfortably sitting on TTR’s bow in perfect weather added to the enjoyment of watching the second race.

Here are a few highlights from our weekend:

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We tramped through some overgrown areas to get to this peak – it’s taller than you think.

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We need some serious fishing advice – no bites, no nothin’

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Surprisingly, Emerald Bay was quiet with very few boats.

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Gotta throw some rocks.

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This great view is the reward for walking up the hills in Avalon .

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Race starts are a little crazy!

When we learned that the final race for the sailboats would begin just outside White’s Cove and end at Newport Beach, we decided to leave a little before the racers, under mainsail alone, and watch the fleet approach. I managed to get a few pics of the sailboats and hopefully we didn’t interfere with their route or wind.

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Grand Illusion was clipping right along.

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I loved watching the boats deploy their spinnakers!

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All the spinnakers made me think of hot air balloons.

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Back row seat for the races.

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Cheers to not racing!

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Sunset dinghy around Naples Island.

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Checking out the houses, boats and greenery.

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Sunrise over Long Beach.

Time on TTR is a far cry from life as a golf professional in Ft. Worth, Texas, but I’m pretty sure Jeff enjoyed the change of scenery and pace ~ for a little while.  Sea life certainly isn’t for everyone and I don’t think any of my siblings would be happy with this nomadic life, but it sure was fun to have my brother aboard. Thanks for making the effort, Jeffrey!

We hope to explore a few of the Channel Islands in mid-September but until then, we are stocking up on US life and making sure we understand TTR as well as possible before we head to Mexico with the Baja Ha-Ha in early November.

Thanks for stopping by to read our blog. We will be back to sea life soon and have more cruiser-like posts. But for now we won’t inundate you with our ‘everyday’ life. Please check out our FB page for more frequent posts.

 

 

 

 

Four Months In ~ How Does Ticket To Ride Sail?

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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

Thank you for reading our blog. Feel free to visit our FB page for more frequent posts. 

NHYC Race To Cabo San Lucas

One of the mantras of a cruiser is to write your schedule in sand because the weather dictates departure dates.  Not so for racing sailors.

The class before us jockeying around the start line.

We were scheduled to depart Newport Beach on Sunday, March 17th and regardless of the weather, the race would begin.  However, at the last minute our race start was moved up to Saturday and the only other boat in our class bowed out of the race.  We believe the forecasted lack of wind was the reason for their withdrawal.

We had “six souls” on board TTR for the race and we divided into two groups of three for watches.  Although most race boats seem to keep a four hours watch schedule, we asked our crew to take one 6 hour watch each night and two three hour watches during the day. 

I don’t know if everyone liked that rotation, but it has worked for Frank and me when we are passaging without others on board because we get one longer period of sleep which helps us feel rested.   

Gino looks on as Rogan goes up the mast.

Early in the race, Rogan went up the mast of TTR to make certain all the lines and sails looked good and that the hardware was nicely tightened.

Gino, James and I took the first night watch from 7 pm to 1 am and Frank, Rogan and Kristen took the 1am to 7 am shift.

Moonrise was beautiful at the start of my evening watches.

I’m not sure who had the bad mojo on our watch, but on several nights the wind dropped from reasonable to almost nothing. Our instruments actually read “0.0” for several minutes at a time before jumping all the way to 1knot.  You know the wind is light when you are excited to see 3 knots of true wind speed.

Though I would have enjoyed better winds during our watch, I learned a lot from Gino and James as they discussed tactics to optimize the conditions. 

Gino used a flash light to check sail trim at night and I was able to watch the path of his light and try to learn by observing the areas he checked and the changes he made based on his observations.

Wide open sunset at sea.

From my perspective it seemed like each night about 15 minutes before our watch ended, the wind would improve, we would set the sail trim, then Frank’s shift would take over the helm.

Once Frank’s group took over the watch, very few adjustments were made to the sails for the next few hours! That makes for an easy watch, if a little uninteresting.

Looking at the speeds and miles covered you would think Frank, Rogan and Kristen were the heroes on board, but my watch was really helpful for four reasons: 1. I had a lot of sail raising and trimming practice, 2. The watch went quickly because we were constantly changing sails and trim 3. I learned a lot by listening and observing Gino and 4. It was easier to sleep during our off watch time because Frank’s group hardly had to adjust the sails while we were sleeping!

Gino toasting sunset with a touch of merlot.

We managed to be very comfortable on TTR during the race and we all sat down to dinner each night.  I am pretty certain this is the first time Gino had a glass of wine while ‘racing’  and I know that was true for Rogan.

Thanks for this pic of Frank, Gino!

Most race boats don’t grill hamburgers during the race! But comfort and speed blend well on Ticket To Ride.

Happy birthday, Gino!

We had the added pleasure of celebrating Gino’s birthday during the race. Laura Morrelli snuck a tiramisu on board before we left and we all enjoyed the treat.

For those who are interested in the numbers here are a few and I am including our log so you can see just how light the wind was and our notes during the race.

Nautical Miles: About 900 (sorry forgot to note that)  Official Duration: 5 days 17 hours 47 minutes  Average speed: 6.5k  Max speed: 24.3k  Sea Conditions: very mild.

By far our most common sail configuration was the mainsail and reacher. 

Reacher, jib and mainsail at one time.

One night Gino, James and I added the staysail to try and maximize the tiny puffs of wind. That configuration lasted several hours.

We also had one day when the wind and waves piped up so we dropped the reacher and flew the jib; we had a great time at the helm as we practiced surfing TTR down the waves.

A bright moon reflecting off the water and boom.

We were really fortunate that the moon was waxing and the skies were clear so night time was well illuminated. 

As we sailed south, the water temperature increased slightly and we knew it was getting warmer when we began seeing flying fish.

One afternoon Kristen spotted something floating in the water and thought it might be a log.

In the pic, the seal’s flipper is down again.

It turned out to be a seal floating on its’ back with a flipper pointed up acting a bit like a sail.  The seal was totally chilled floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I really wished I could pass him an umbrella drink to rest on his tummy as he drifted along!

This pod of dolphins jumped a lot!

We also so dolphins several times jumping in the distance. Only once or twice did a dolphin play near our bow.  It seems like the Caribbean dolphins were more likely to swim with our boat, but we have seen a greater number of dolphins on the west coast.

We saw the blow of a whale once or twice and James saw one breach, but I didn’t see it.

Gratuitous sunset.

All in all the Race to Cabo was a great time. Everyone on board contributed so the work loads were shared.  Best of all, everyone meshed well, there was good input for decisions, the personalities complimented one another and no one on board dominated the discussions or decisions.

The whole race thing is a different mind set than Frank and I are accustomed to and I am not certain how I feel about it.  I like that races force you to be committed to sailing and making use of the environment and wind.  BUT I found it really frustrating to be at a complete standstill when we have two perfectly good engines ready to move us forward.

Though I have no experience, I think day races would be more interesting since the strategy of each boat is apparent much more quickly, thus the reward or penalty is more immediate.

We were on our way to Cabo with or without the race and I am glad we participated in it. Since we were racing what is actually our home, our team motto was “Party Not Podium.”

Ironically, we earned the podium but arrived too late for the party!

With only ourselves in the class we managed to take the award for first place!

Celebrating our finish of the NHYC Race to Cabo!

Frank and I are very impressed with how well TTR sails in light wind. The ability to sail in light air is one of the features that sold us on the HH55.

Yes, TTR can sail fast, but it is also exceedingly pleasant to sail well in lower wind speeds and calmer seas.

Several people had asked for details about our Race to Cabo experience. I hope this answers your questions. If not, ask and I’ll try to answer what I missed.

Thank you for reading our blog. Look to our Facebook page for more posts.

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.

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

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