It is so hard to believe that Ticket to Ride was unloaded from the container ship on January 14, 2019. Three years have already passed aboard this floating home of ours, and these years have held some significant surprises!
Thankfully, the surprises have come externally and not from within the performance or quality of this HH55 catamaran. Can you say Worldwide Pandemic?
We continue to be thrilled with the design and construction of TTR and are extremely happy we were able to customize her to fit our needs. We could not have achieved these changes without the design help of marine architects Morrelli and Melvin or the willingness of HH to implement the adjustments. It has also been gratifying to see some of those changes carried forward on the HH cats that have launched since ours.
After three years on the water, Ticket to Ride has 20,000+ nautical miles under her keels. Our travels have not taken us where we expected, but we have been blessed with incredible experiences regardless of the changes in plans.
When we decided to move to a performance cat, we knew we would have to “step up” our sailing game and we wanted to push ourselves to a higher level rather than remain with the usual production boat standards. Learning to sail TTR was not difficult, thought it did take me a bit of time to become comfortable with the increased power she generates.
Most people want to know how fast TTR sails, which is a difficult question to answer since the conditions clearly dictate the answer. We can say that Ticket to Ride has recorded speeds in the upper 20 knot range when we had professional help on board and we were putting the boat through her paces. On our own, we have recorded speeds of a little over 23k when surfing down waves, and we often sail in the mid-teens; so clearly this boat can go even without the pros on board.
Owning this performance catamaran is similar to owning a performance car in the city; we don’t push TTR to her abilities, but it’s nice to be able to “step on it” when necessary.
Frank loves passages making, but I prefer sailing in the daylight, so one thing I really like about TTR is that passages which would have been overnights or anchor up in the dark on our first sailboat are often day sails for Ticket to Ride.
When making plans for a passage on TTR, we anticipate average speeds of 8.5k or about 200 nm days, but we often arrive more quickly than we anticipate. In fact, early days in Mexico, we had a couple of trips where we arrived during the night because we had sailed much faster than expected. We have had to learn to adjust our thinking and anticipate a faster than predicted arrival to insure we arrive in anchorages during daylight.
I asked Frank to name three things he really likes about TTR and they are:
- Performance/confidence: this is an obvious one. Simply put, Ticket to Ride is very solidly built and the components/gear are excellent. This leads to greater confidence in the boat which is a huge benefit.
- Upwind sailing performance: in reasonable wind, TTR is capable of sailing at about a 40 degree true wind angle which equates to about 27 degrees apparent. The dagger boards allow us to point well and we do not side slip. This means sailing upwind is both possible and usually pretty quick.
- Interior Lighting: this surprised me, but one thing Frank really likes is the lighting in our boat. HH was very generous with canned lighting and rope lighting inside the boat. Plus the lights can be dimmed/brightened depending on what look we want to achieve. Essential? No. But the lighting is a nice perk.
If we have to think of things we miss about our Helia 44, Let It Be, Frank came up with two things:
- Indestructibility of mini-keels: although we would absolutely not trade our dagger boards for mini-keels, knowing we could easily allow Let It Be to come to rest on a sandy bottom to allow us to clean the hulls without damaging the mini-keels was a big convenience. And mimi-keels allowed us to anchor in very shallow water. That was a nice convenience, though not worth the sailing performance trade off.
- Ease of sail changes with one person: it is certainly possible to make sail changes with only one person on TTR, but it was easier to do so on Let It Be. While one person can make sail changes on Ticket to Ride, it is faster and easier to have two people involved on TTR, especially if the wind is piping up. Sailing TTR requires more attention than was required on our Fountaine Pajot.
This is an abbreviated list of things we like about Ticket to Ride. There is a longer comparison post here.
So where has TTR traveled these last three years? We have sailed from California to Mexico three times with only one return trip from Mexico to California. Our second departure from Mexico, we sailed to the Hawaiian Islands because Covid-19 shut down our transit to French Polynesia. For 15 months we sailed in Hawaii and had the opportunity to explore the coast of nearly every island. We spent only about 3 months in marinas while we were in Hawaii, the rest of the time we moved from island to island or anchorage to anchorage. Because of the coronavirus, Hawaii was in lockdown for most of our time there and as a result, we saw Hawaii with fewer people than it has had in decades. We were able to explore trails and tie to mooring balls in places we would not have seen in times open to tourism.
After waiting over a year to see if French Polynesian boarders would open, we acknowledged that we needed to make other plans. Thus we pointed our bows northeast and sailed to Alaska.
Ticket to Ride nosed into Sitka, Alaska on June 26th and we explored our way around the Inside Passage for more than two months before entering Canadian waters.
Fortunately Canada opened her boarders and we were able to make a few stops as we moved south toward Washington State. We only had a little over three weeks in Canada and we agree that returning to explore Canada and Alaska further would be a delightful addition to our itinerary someday.
While in Washington, we were a little pressed by weather to move south, away from the northerly weather systems, but we did manage to meet with a few cruising friends; Lynda Jo and Greg who we met on Union Island, St. Vincent/ Grenadines and Pam and Howard, whom we met in the Sea of Cortez.
While in Washington, we had only a few days to visit the San Juan Islands, which is a shame because they are a fun cruising area. But again, that leaves us with more places we could enjoy visiting again.
From Washington State, we skipped straight down to San Francisco, then Long Beach and San Diego.
Our itinerary has been incredibly fortunate considering that the whole world has been dramatically altered since Covid-19 raised its ugly head. We were lucky to have an outdoor home that allowed us to explore when openings occurred but also kept us relatively untouched by the virus.
As for Ticket to Ride, covid or no covid, she has been great. When we first discussed replacing our Fountaine Pajot, Let It Be, we were looking for a larger, faster and more comfortable catamaran. We thought we would have to choose either speed or comfort, but this M&M designed HH catamaran has provided us with both.
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We left Kernville and made a long drive to Santa Cruz, CA. The KOA there was really nice with reasonable sized spaces and many activities for families to enjoy. They were pretty strict on the rules, but we are finding that to be true everywhere! Once again the golf cart patrol was quick to tell us if we had an extra car in the space or if the dog had gotten out of the RV without her leash on.
This was the fanciest KOA we have seen. They had activities scheduled for most days, including one yoga class which I enjoyed. There was a small, semi-outdoor bar/restaurant and a nice playground. The vibe was positive and it was great to see so many families enjoying the activities available on the beautiful, shaded grounds.
Happily, Hunter’s place of employment was close enough to our RV spot that he chose to commute to work from Temporary Digs. We missed Clayton, but were glad to have the extra time with Hunter.
The days were filled with activity; biking, surfing, kite boarding and exploring Santa Cruz in between walking the dog and hanging “at home.” Unfortunately I didn’t take many pictures, but I’ll share some I did take.
This double track leads uuuupp to the start of some trails in Santa Cruz.
I mentioned that Hunter had finally been bitten by the mountain biking bug as is evidenced by this picture of him with his new “toy.” A big shout out to Scotts Valley Cycle Sports where Hunter made his purchase. This is an excellent bike shop with nice stock and excellent customer service. We highly recommend them!
Love this retro van which is as old as I am!
Speaking of toys, take a look at this vintage van we saw in Santa Cruz. This is the first time I have seen a Chevrolet Greenbriar which was built between 1961-65. Pretty cool looking. We spotted it outside of the Santa Cruz Bicycle Factory.
We took a tour of the Santa Cruz Bicycle factory, which was interesting, but the guide would benefit from a script to include more facts and information. 🙂 (No pictures were allowed.)
The town of Santa Cruz was surprisingly interesting to us. It has a population of around 65,000 and there are many outdoor activities to enjoy. Because of its size, there are plenty of restaurants, bike shops, surf shops, grocery stores, etc, so we didn’t lack for anything. We were even able to have routine maintenance on our truck while in Santa Cruz.
A blustery morning in Santa Cruz.
The morning we had our truck worked on, we brought out bikes and toured the town while the truck was otherwise occupied. It was fun just to tool about and take in Santa Cruz. We had the unusual experience of needing a jacket! What a delightful change from the temperatures we always had during summer in Texas.
As if great biking, surfing and kiting possibilities weren’t enough to make us enjoy Santa Cruz, there is a marina as well!
Perhaps one day we will come back in our sailboat?!
Our RV site was about a 45 minute drive from Santa Cruz, but we found ourselves returning to SC almost every day. If possible, the next time we visit this area, I would find an RV site closer to Santa Cruz even though the Costanoa KOA was a very nice place.
The Fourth of July Holiday fell during our time in Santa Cruz and Clayton was able to join us for the day. We celebrated by, wait for it…… riding bikes!! SURPRISE!
Pics from our rides in Santa Cruz:
Frank is a tree-hugger!
Maybe not everything is bigger in Texas.
We did branch out (haha) a little from Santa Cruz when we visited Google in Mountain View, CA. Working “conditions” are certainly different from when I worked in downtown Dallas. My employer did not provide any of the perks that are standard at Google…. onsite places to eat (for free), bicycles to commute between buildings, entertainment on site, green space to “refresh” your energy, etc.
Google was empty due to the July 4th holiday.
We also drove to San Francisco to see the city with Hunter as our tour guide. Rather than contend with parking, we took our bikes on the subway into the SF and spent the whole day puttering around.
Lunch spot, Mission Delores Park – we were the only ones with this idea!
Hunter found us a spot in the family friendly section of the park which is pictured here. This section was full of interesting sights, like the camping tent with a big “30” on top for a birthday celebration, the guy carrying a h-u-g-e python around his neck (which apparently is a chic magnet?!), a little girl walking a cat, a few games I was unfamiliar with and a wide variety of dress styles. The other side of the park was a little more revealing in terms of skin and lifestyle choices. All in all, very interesting. It was very fun to see so many people out enjoying the fresh air. (Side note, Frank and I were slightly above the average age in the park!)
Hunter and I enjoying a view of the bay…. or maybe I was resting at the top of a hill?
What trip to SF is complete without seeing this icon?
This picture was taken from Crissy Field, a spot where many people hang out and is fairly popular with kiteboarders as well. Unfortunately kiters here often need to be rescued because several factors are less than favorable: gusty winds, currents, ship traffic, etc. We were only at Crissy Field for about 15 minutes but we saw one kiter returned to shore by the SF Marine Police.
Hunter and Frank considering the kiting possibilities?
Although we didn’t hit all the highlights of SF, since it was only a one day visit, we did see quite a bit of the city, including Fisherman’s Wharf. The Wharf itself was overrun with people!! Even on bikes it was hard to move through the streets and weave between the tourists. I was glad to see the area but was happy it wasn’t a major part of our agenda.
Gratuitous photo of the bike trails because they are pretty.
We spent a lot of time on these pine needle strewn paths, listening to the sounds of the woods and getting a little exercise during our time in Santa Cruz. With so little time in Santa Cruz, we were only able to scratch the surface of available trails for mountain biking or hiking, but the trails we did ride were very fun and had enough variety to satisfy me as a cautious rider and the guys who are much more adventurous.
I don’t know what wintertime is like near Santa Cruz, but I wouldn’t mind spending more time here if the weather is mild. I’m not sure our Caribbean spoiled bones would survive snow and I know we don’t have the clothing for freezing temperatures but perhaps we will consider returning here before the new boat is delivered.
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