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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.

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

Quick Bits About Ticket To Ride

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

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

Repeat for pretty much every inch of the boat!

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

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

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

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

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

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Our very own washer/dryer. That is exciting.

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

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

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

 

Siesta (Lounger) Time

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.

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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.

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Comfy, quiet time in Bonaire.

Even Captain enjoys the Siesta Loungers.  Sometimes she sits in one and we pull her along while we snorkel.

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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.

Putting Our Stamp on TTR ~ Part I

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

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

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

 

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

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

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A brand new Northern Lights Generator for TTR.

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

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

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Longeron installed on TTR.

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

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Cableless reacher production drawing from Doyle Sails.

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

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Another view of the reacher drawing.

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

Stainless-Spade

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Our Final Passage on LIB ~ Belize to Galveston

Caye Calker

The view of Caye Caulker from LIB at anchor.

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

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

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

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

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The yellow line shows our approximate exit from Caye Caulker.

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

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

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

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

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Look how close to the bow the dolphins swim!

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

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

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

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Such colorful little visitors!

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

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

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Barn swallows at sunset.

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

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

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Can you say Mahi?!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A perfectly clear sky and a full moon!

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

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

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

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LIB is circled in red…. 

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

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Our fuel gage arriving to Galveston Harbor!

TowBoat US to the (potential) rescue!

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

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These friendly and professional men were a very welcome sight!

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

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

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

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Yahoooooo, it’s Wahoooo!

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Yes, these colors at sunrise are true!

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

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Barn swallow at sunset.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thomas inspecting the paint job on HH55-03.

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

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Working hard and taking good care of the boat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Comparing Life on Land to Life Afloat ~ Seven Weeks into Our Temporary Land Life.

So I thought others might be interested in our comparison of RV Life to Sailing Life.  BUT I must first acknowledge that we are only a few weeks into this RV adventure and we are FAR from experts. I hope we will improve as time passes and our experience increases.

CROWDS:  Perhaps the most glaring difference between RV Life and Sailboat Life for us is the sheer number of people “doing it.” We are amazed that there are so. many. people. on the road! And consequently in the camp sites!!

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Our very first RV “Park” was a rude awakening!

RESERVATIONS/SPACE:  Having lived on our sailboat for three years, we are accustomed to choosing a place to visit, checking the available anchorages on a chart and heading in that direction. Once we arrive, there may be other boats in the anchorage but we always found plenty of room to drop an anchor.

WHEN RVing ~ DO NOT ARRIVE WITHOUT A RESERVATION. Period!!!

We have learned, these last few weeks, that RV sites are in great demand and you must have a reservation or take your chances of not finding a spot to stop. So far we have not had to resort to a Walmart parking lot, but that might still happen.

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We will never experience this much space when our RV is parked.

RULES:  I am not certain if my travels outside the U.S. have caused me to become aware of how many rules there are in the U.S. OR if there are just a TON of rules in every RV Park.

Regardless of which is true, we are amazed at just how strict the rules are in RV campgrounds and how zealously they are enforced.

~Keep you dog on a leash at all times (Yes, even if she is well trained and lying at your feet by the picnic table.)

~Only one vehicle per campsite. (Yes, even if  you are just unloading a bike that your son brought with him and will be stored on the RV.)

~Changing your reservation means a default of your downpayment. (Yes, even if you cancel weeks in advance).

Eccetera, eccetera, eccetera!!!

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There were at least five more rule signs along this short driveway.

WEATHER:   RVing takes less awareness of weather and conditions than sailing requires.  While sailing, we were always aware of the sea state, incoming storms, what the wind and weather forecast were at our destination and along the way to our destination.

When we pack up our RV and prepare to drive, we just point and drive and allow the weather conditions to bring what they may.  So far we have been very fortunate that the weather as we drive has been mostly dry with little rain.  But still, we aren’t nearly as aware of upcoming weather as we were while living on a sailboat.

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One of the few days we experienced rain as we drove.

CONVERSE CONCERNS:   RV and Cruising have opposite concerns.  For many sailors, top priority is having enough fresh water, food and energy on the sailboat and management of waste is relatively easy.  While RVing we have ample access to water, electricity and food but limited ability to evacuate waste and gray water!

Food is plentiful in the US grocery stores and buying more or whatever you desire is never an issue.  In our sailing travels, we could always find food, but we might not be familiar with the foods we found or how to cook the food we bought.

AUTOPILOT:   The greatest convenience that we miss from our sailing life is autopilot.  We loved setting the sails and course and allowing Jude (the name we gave our autopilot) to take the helm (wheel). With Jude on the helm, we could relax, walk around the boat, read, cook, etc and simply make periodic checks to insure that Jude was on course, the sails were still well set and there weren’t any ships or objects in our way.

Now that we are on land, the RV requires full time attention from one of us as we are driving from one destination to another.

We really miss autopilot!! (Maybe I will embrace driverless cars after all.)

DAILY EXPENSES:    The initial cost of buying a sailboat is much greater than buying an RV, especially if you buy a new boat compared to a new RV. Of course, there is a big range of initial costs available for both a sailboat and an RV depending on size, quality, etc.

However, we have found that the daily expenses of living in the U.S. and traveling from one RV campsite to the next is much higher than we experienced while sailing. On our sailboat, we refueled perhaps once every six to eight weeks if we ran our generator often. Diesel at a boat dock is more expensive than on land, but we usually spent about $250 when we refueled s/v Let It Be.

Driving our RV, we try to make our location changes a maximum of about 300 miles and we will spend about $115 on diesel each day that we travel that distance.  If we had a smaller RV and truck we could reduce this figure, but we chose this RV so we could easily carry our bikes and other toys and so our kids could comfortably visit us.

When we dropped anchor on our sailboat, we did not incur any fees.  If we picked up a mooring ball, the fees varied by location with the least expensive being $0. per day and the most expensive $35. per day. Ninety percent of our time on LIB we spent at anchor and incurred no fees for our location.

RV campsites range in price as well. We prefer to have full hookups so we have fresh water and can dispose of waste and gray water. We have found campsites run anywhere from $45 to $110 per night with full hookups.

We have joined a few ‘clubs’ to reduce our RV park fees, but many sites disallow discounts during peak season, which is now. Also, we might find campsites are less expensive during the off season.  Time will tell.

BTW, our RV is not equipped to survive ‘off the grid,’ so long stays without electrical support is unrealistic at this time. IF we decide to RV long term, we would consider fitting our RV with solar power and additional batteries to give us the opportunity to find unsupported campsites.

After only a few weeks on the road, these are our thoughts when we compare RV Life and Cruising on a sailboat. Frank and I enjoyed the space and flexibility we found while sailing. As we await the arrival of our next boat, we are going through an adjustment period as we learn to live with very close neighbors and arrange our locations far in advance as required in an RV.

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The magnitude is amazing.

However, we have truly enjoyed having the opportunity to travel the US with our own stuff in tow and stay with friends along the way.

We have enjoyed being in our “home” country and being completely at ease with the nuances that come with being in your homeland.

Easy communication because we are native speakers is a nice change too.

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Dramatic and majestic.

Finally, the beauty and breadth of the United States is truly a wonder and we are blessed and happy to have this chance to visit a small portion of our country. As we adjust our thought processes, plan our travels further forward and move into a slightly less busy RV season, I think we will enjoy RV Life more.

~ HH 55 Catamaran Update ~

The news from HH concerning the progress of our catamaran has been a little quiet lately, but I’m pretty sure that is because they are currently sea trialling HH55-04, s/v Utopia.

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s/v Utopia during sea trials in China. (Photo credit HH Catamarans)

This picture of Utopia shows some of the choices her owners made that differ from our choices.  Obviously, one difference is that Utopia has been painted white and our boat will be blue.  Utopia has been outfitted with North Sails but we have chosen to have our sails made by Doyle Sails.  Also, Utopia, has a super sleek, removable bimini over her aft helm stations.  The owners wanted light weight, minimalistic biminis that they can remove if they are racing. We have chosen to have more substantial binimis and alter the helm seat itself to make it more comfortable for long passages.

Sea trials will take place over a three week period, then s/v Utopia will be hauled, packaged and shipped to the U.S.

Seeing Utopia on the water makes us very anxious to take delivery of our new catamaran!

Thank you for visiting our blog. Feel free to comment or ask questions. We love hearing your thoughts.

 

 

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