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Beautiful anchorages of Alaska, the drone’s view

The crew on TTR put the anchor down in 42 different anchorages in Alaska alone. As the drone pilot and photographer, I realize that I missed some and maybe some of the very best. All of us know how hard or maybe impossible it is to capture the full beauty of a landscape or nature in general; however, I hope you will enjoy this collection of TTR’s anchorages that I did manage to capture with our Mavic Mini.

Yes Bay on a clear day. Amazing reflection of the sky on the water.
Yes Bay, the solitude invites exploration and smooth water paddling.
Walker Cove in Misty Fjords National Monument. The views over a morning coffee are indescribable.
Walker Cove in Misty Fjords NM. We were joined on our paddleboard trip up this river by 1000’s of salmon.
Takatz Bay. The sounds of waterfalls entered both ears
Takatz Bay, looking from above the waterfall.
Iconic Punchbowl Cove in Misty Fjords National Monument. Yosemite on the water.
Punchbowl Cove. A National Forest Service Trail followed this stream to Punchbowl Lake, a highlight of our trip.
Max Cove looking towards the entrance.
Max Cove at high tide. Max Cove was the site of one of our best bear encounters. The water surface in the foreground was completely dry at low tide.
Lamplaugh Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park. For perspective of size, 4 of the day’s crew are standing by the edge of the water in the black circle. Please, scroll in.
Glacier Bay near Lamplaugh Glacier. The land in the foreground forms the beautiful pool in front of the glacier seen in the previous photo.
Dundas Bay at high tide. Anything below the water seen in this photo will be dry at low tide.
Stunning backdrop in Gut Bay, Baranoff Island. Incredible collection of textures, colors and surfaces.
Gut Bay, TTR was alone in 9 out of 10 anchorages.
Winter Cove, anchored in 80 feet of water. One of TTR’s few anchorages suitable for only one boat.
DeGroff Bay, the 75 foot wide entrance channel opened to this beautiful anchorage. TTR’s beam is 27 feet.
Judd Bay with Mary Grace on a paddleboard. Paddleboarding was a regular part of our day.
Magoun Bay, our first anchorage in Alaska. Somehow we knew we were in for a stunning 8 weeks.

On TTR we log our daily travels in an Excel File. We are happy to share our Alaska log file with any reader who wants a more complete list and description of TTR’s Alaska anchorages. Maybe you are planning your own adventure to Alaska.

As always, thank you for stopping by to read our blog. If you think one of these anchorages is your favorite, we would like to know which one! Or perhaps you have been to some of these anchorages? Let us know in the comments. If you would like to hear from us more often, please see us on Instagram or Facebook.

Alaskan Journal July 4 – 11. An Epic, Hectic Week

This blog is photo intensive because we saw so many amazing things during this week. Perhaps the most amazing week of our Alaskan tour! Also, if you remember Amelia’s blog about Alaska’s Timeless Waterways, these pictures may give you insight into where she found her inspiration.

Just two days after Tommy flew out from Sitka, our eldest son, Hunter, flew in for a visit. Once again we wanted to cover a lot of territory so Hunter could see a bit of Alaska quickly. We had an incredible time and were able to discover a variety of Alaskan landscapes. Rather than bore you with details of our time, I will attempt to share many pictures and try to give you small descriptions of our days.

Enjoying the sunshine and catching up makes for great father/son time.

We left Sitka early to conquer a long 78 nm passage to Killinoo Harbor, but the day was filled with pretty scenery and plenty of time to catch up with Hunter as we motored. We had two surprises as we covered ground. The first was an opportunity to actually SAIL for a bit as we crossed the Chatham Strait. Although we only raised our head sail, it felt great to see TTR under wind power again for a little bit. 

We saw plenty of this while in Hawaii

The second bit of luck was seeing whales feeding!! While in Hawaii, the whales do not eat so we never saw those epic scenes of whales surfacing with their mouths wide open. But the very first day Hunter was with us, the whales decided to show us how it was done. SO COOL:

We never saw whales feeding while we were in Hawaii.
It was very interesting to see and hear this whale feeding.
Close the hatch, then disappear beneath the surface!

We went to Killinoo Harbor to meet some people Erik knew from Hawaii. This family spends time in Hawaii and in Alaska and they were kind enough to show us the very functional and comfortable cabin they built on a remote part of a remote Alaskan island.

One little section of the trail to the cabin – I KNOW there are fairies hiding somewhere!

Following a magical tramp through the woods to reach their cabin, we took dinghies to a spit nearby and had a beach BBQ dinner of fresh halibut, salmon and crab! Welcome to Alaska, Hunter, where the sea provides an amazing bounty!

Just a small tidbit of information about Dungeness crabs; in Alaska we can only harvest male crabs that are 6.5” or larger. I had no idea how to tell the difference and maybe you don’t either, so below are photos of the underside of a male and female crab. Once you know what to look for, it is very easy to tell the difference between them.

The next day was pretty much a sunrise start with plenty on the agenda beginning with seeking out waterfalls along our path. Here is a picture of the most casual waterfall I have ever encountered. 🙂

I tried to imitate the very casual attitude of this waterfall.

Our first stop of the day was Warm Bath Springs. Natural warm springs creating pools of clear hot water in a climate much colder than we are accustomed to are not to be missed! Hunter, Amelia, Erik, Frank and I spent hours soaking in the hot springs. There was a raging river cascading just outside of the hot pools, so we would alternate between soaking in the hot water until our skin tingled with quick, breathtaking dips into the icy river pools formed in the rocky sides.

After turning into hot springs prunes, we hiked to a nearby lake and waded into the perfectly clear water…. guess Polar Plunges are sneaking into our daytime adventures too!

The sound of the rushing water added to the beauty of the hot springs.

Red Bluff Bay, our anchorage that night after the hot springs, was the only place we stayed for two nights during Hunter’s visit. Initially we shared this popular spot with four boats but when we left there were 10 power boats sharing the anchorage. That is the most boats we have seen in any anchorages in Alaska.

The crowd must not disturb the crab population because we caught four Dungeness crabs in Red Bluff. Since we had already eaten a good bit of crab, we decided to give them to a neighboring boat. I think we might have been their favorite boat after that.

Wild, hand picked blueberries make for a delicious homemade pie when Erik is on TTR.

Gambier Bay was riddled with crab pots, so Erik and Frank thought they would score at least one crab, but we were skunked. Not a single crab to show for their efforts. We did find plenty of wild blueberries which Erik transformed into a delicious pie. 

An pretty standard Alaska Forest Service cabin.

FUN ALASKAN FACTS: Throughout the Tongass National Forest, the Forest Service has built cabins available for use on a first come, first serve basis. The cabins are sturdy and basic, but provide excellent refuge for travelers. There are more than 160 Forest Service Cabins in the Tongass National Forest! That is a great use of our national parks dollars!

However, for perspective, the Tongass National Forest is the largest national forest in the US. Originally named the Alexander Archipelago Forest Reserve, this public land was created in 1902 under Theodore Roosevelt. In 1907, by presidential proclamation, Roosevelt renamed the area the Tongass National Forest and in 1908 two forests were combined to enlarge the Tongass.  Finally in 1925 under Calvin Coolidge, the Tongass was expanded again to create the Tongass National Forest we have today.  All together the Tongass National Forest encompasses 17 million acres!

Amelia put her writing talent to work and wrote a story for our cabin sign in book entry…. you have to visit to read it!

In Gamier Bay we walked to one of the forest service cabins in the early evening. We built a campfire (why do most men love to build fires?), enjoyed toddies and ate s’mores as we exchanged stories and sang old songs. Frank and I won the oldest songs awards when we pulled out, “Little Rabbit FooFoo.” Who remembers that camp song?? 

TTR anchored in the misty weather in Gambier Bay.

Perhaps the most epic day of Hunter’s visit was our trip up Tracy Arm to the South Sawyer Glacier. Navigating up the passage, dodging floating ice while distracted by the amazing sights was a challenge. And well worth the effort!

The early portion of Tracy Arm was beautiful and there weren’t too many ice fragments.

We set up a schedule where we alternated helmsmen and bow watchers every 10 minutes because it was very cold and pretty demanding. The weather alternated between fog, mist, rain and clear skies, which only added to the drama of the scenery.

Of all the places we have visited so far, this area stands out as the most unique in its beauty and grandeur. 

One of many waterfalls as we motored through Tracy Arm.

We were so enamored of our first glacier that after motoring back to Entrance Cove and anchoring TTR, we went out in the dinghy and lassoed one floating chunk of iceberg and tried to take it back to Ticket to Ride with us. However, sanity returned and we dropped “our iceberg” for fear it would float around the anchorage and damage a boat or two.

Doesn’t everyone secretly wish for his own little iceberg?

We did corral a few reasonable sized pieces of glacier which became our beverage cubes of choice.

That evening we anchored in Entrance Cove and met the folks on m/v Koda and m/v Sudden Inspiration. A guest on Sudden Inspiration shared several drone photos and this video he took of TTR while we were near the glacier. How awesome is that?!

Thank you to MV Sudden Inspiration for this great video of TTR at Tracy Arm Glacier.

We took over a bottle of wine and a few other items as thanks for the awesome video of Ticket to Ride. We also invited all on board Koda and Sudden Inspiration to join us in our daily Polar Plunge. Most thought we were nuts, but Barb and Liz changed into swim suits and joined us for a very chilly, but laughter filled PP. 

Early the next morning we were up again and headed to Taku Harbor which is the site of an old cannery. We spent another excellent day exploring on shore and chatting with the folks who bought the old cannery workers housing lodge. The history of the lodge was interesting and the new owners were super nice.

This old cannery seemed to call for a black and white photo.

Parts of Taku Harbor were easy to walk but at other times we were bushwhacking through undergrowth to find a trail. Taku was a fun mix of old ruins, old forest and new friends.

After Taku Harbor we dashed to Auke Bay in Juneau because Hunter had a flight out the next day. WOW, it was an amazing week with stellar sights and so many laughs. We had so many silly adventures, including assembling a Crystal Garden…. which is one of those stories that probably is only funny to the people involved. But I will show you two pictures:

Looking back at the pictures from the seven days Hunter was on board TTR, there are so many amazing photos I could share with you, but alas, this is already so long, I will refrain. I hope you have a tiny glimpse of just how remarkably pretty this part of Alaska is!

Polar Plunge Report: the daily plunge tradition continues!

Killinoo Harbor 54°F

Red Bluff 51°

Red BLuff 54°

Gambier 51°

Tracy Arm 54°

Thank you so much for stopping by to read our blog. This was a really long post because we packed a lot into one week. We hope to have more routine WIFI as we work our way back into the U.S. and hopefully we can share posts more routinely. If you want to hear from us more often, please follow us on Instagram or Facebook.

Alaskan Photo Journal ~ June 26- July 2

After tying up to the dock in Sitka we grabbed the Prosecco for a celebratory cork popping that was a bit anti-climatic as you can see in the video.

A funny, fizzled cork popping!

Although the Prosecco was less than effervescent, we were all in high spirits and immediately took a stroll through Sitka. We were anxious to stretch our legs, see the town, and find a spot to eat, drink and celebrate. French fries seemed to be tops on the list for several of us.

One interesting thing about being on passage is the lack of news. Sailing along in Ticket to Ride, we have virtually no news, unless a friend or family member contacts us. Of course we receive and study the weather, but that is the only real time information we seek. As a result, when we arrived in Sitka, we had had no news for almost two weeks.

This was newsworthy as Hawaii was still under mask mandates when we left.

As is usually the case, there were few news bites that had changed and we had missed very little without hearing the 24 hour news cycles. As we strolled the streets of Sitka, we did encounter one sign that we never saw in Hawaii.

Downtown Sitka is charming.

The main street of Sitka was clean and inviting with plenty of windows to browse and bars or restaurants to try. We saw some rather unique apparel including this gem in the window of a fur company!

The latest fury swimwear?

We were surprised by the warm weather and clear skies that welcomed us to Alaska. Exploring the town we shed our jackets and adopted a leisurely pace as we took in the influence of early Russians who settled Sitka during the heyday of fur trading. Sitka was the capital of Alaska until 1906.

The lushness of this country was unexpected and magical. Everywhere we saw flowers both wild and in hanging baskets or window boxes. Especially after days on end of blue water, the foliage was vibrant and captivating.

Lillypads and vivid greenery line this stream fed pond at the edge of town.

Erik, Tommy, Amelia, Frank and I enjoyed a protracted dinner overlooking the local library and a marina. We relished sitting still and having someone else do the cooking and the dishes. Even on a great passage, one is always looking and listening for changes in wind or sounds and this was the first time in many days we could simply sit and not be monitoring the elements around us, except in an appreciative way.

The following day, our first full one in Alaska, Erik chose to hang out with Katie and Kevin of s/v Kālewa to further explore Sitka and determine which establishments were the most fun and had the best beverages. Tommy decided he needed to catch up with family and friends after being without cell and internet during the passage. Frank, Amelia and I were in search of a hike to see the fauna up close.

We chose the hike to Beaver Lake

The hike we chose was seven miles from town so we stuck out our thumbs and hitch-hiked our way. Within one minute we were picked up by a park ranger who gave us information about the hike we had chosen which turned out to be one of the most amazing hikes I have ever experienced!

A relatively open area of the Herring Cove Trail.

The Herring Cove Trail is so well made it is almost beyond belief. Sometimes the surface is one stepping stone to another, or it meanders through moss covered greenery, or across bridges made from one huge tree trunk with planks on top.

A sampling of the walking surfaces!
Mary Grace and Amelia on a giant log bridge.

It’s impossible to describe the muffled silence of the ground covered in hundreds of years of layered decomposition, broken only by birdsong, water cascading over rocks and our comments of delight and reverence.

We didn’t see any leprechauns but I bet they were playing with sprites!

The Herring Cove hike would not be complete without a visit to Beaver Lake and our efforts to get there were well rewarded. Walking the edge of the lake was like being in one of those ad campaigns that show the pristine waters for Coors beer or the mountain streams and lakes used for perfect drinking water.

Picture perfect Beaver Lake was the official start of the TTR Polar Plunge!.

On this, our first full day in Alaska, Frank, Amelia and I decided we had to jump into the icy lake and really commit ourselves to all Alaska has to offer. Three jumps and several shrieks later, we had all completed our first Polar Plunge! Afterwards, we sat like seals soaking up the heat from the sun warmed rocks and decided that a new TTR tradition had been born: The TTR Polar Plunge.

Amelia and Frank in Roy’s van – as thanks for the ride, we bought dinner.

We only stayed in Sitka for two nights as we wanted Tommy to see a bit of Alaska before he left for his next adventure. With only a few nights to explore, we decided to stay one night in each anchorage to maximize the area Tommy was able to see.

Large tide ranges restricted how far in we traveled.

Our first stop was Magoun Bay, a quick 28nm from Sitka. As soon as we were anchored, Erik, Tommy and Amelia made quick work of lowering the dinghy and finding a perfect spot to place the crab trap we had purchased in Sitka. We heard that catching crab is pretty easy in Alaska and we wanted to get our first taste of Dungeness crab! Sadly, no crabs climbed into our trap this time.

With Amelia and Erik giving directions, whose advice would Tommy follow?

Our next stop was Deep Bay, a long glacier formed bay off of the Peril Strait. We anchored way in the back of the bay and spotted our first brown bear! Once again the crab trap was placed and our hopes were high.

Crabs! Now to make sure they were male and met size requirements.

We were up early the next morning for a 44 nm jump to Krestof Sound, but first the crab trap was picked up and we were rewarded with our first keepable Dungeness crab! Deep Bay gave us our first bear sighting and our first crab.

Mr. Crab would soon become dinner.

Krestof Sound can only accommodate one anchored boat and we were happy to capture that one spot. At Krestof, we walked through the moss covered forest and sat upon smooth boulders along the water edge enjoying the warmth captured from the sun despite the overcast skies.

Even under cloud cover the rocks were warm and comfortable.

We explored the shore and found clams numerous and large enough to eat, but thankfully Frank remembered that the clams have paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) and were unsuitable for consumption! Dinner was a (small) feast of boiled crab with garlic butter for dipping. We felt like “real” Alaskans eating the dinner we had plucked from the sea!

Amelia during our hike on Krestof

Our final stop before returning to Sitka was DeGroff Bay. Although the weather this day was the most overcast we had experienced, DeGroff itself was very pretty. The Bay had tall wooded sides that showed several areas where landslides had occurred as shown in the drone photo.

TTR’s bows point toward a small landslide.

The water itself was extremely calm and perfect for paddleboarding, which we now do sporting rubber boots! We are truly fashionistas! 

Perfect SUPing water

The next morning we left DeGroff to return to Sitka but we found that DeGroff had gifted us two additional crabs in our trap. Since Tommy was scheduled to fly out of Sitka that afternoon, we cooked the crab and ate our fill for lunch as soon as we anchored in Sitka.

Tommy and Frank enjoying freshly cooked crab.

Tommy’s flight time quickly arrived and it was time to say Aloha. We created a ton of great memories with Tommy while in Hawaii, on the passage and in Alaska. We are sure we will see him again in the not too distant future. For now, Tommy is off to enjoy an east coast summer until he begins school in the fall. Best of luck, Tommy. We know you will excel in your schooling!

POLAR PLUNGE REPORT:

Magoun Bay: 57° F

Deep Bay: 49.1° F

DeGroff: 56° F

Thanks for stopping in to read our blog. It is impossible to capture the beauty of Alaska, but hopefully you can get a flavor of how pretty it is here. If you would like to hear from us more often, please see us on Instagram or Facebook.

Passaging The North Pacific Seascapes

Written by Amelia Marjory

Amelia came into our lives last summer in Hanalei Bay. Her delight and joy in the world around her are contagious and we consider ourselves very fortunate to call Amelia our friend and to have had her on board TTR for our passage from Hawaii to Alaska. Amelia’s talents abound and she willingly shared her knowledge of the plants and creatures we encountered in Hawaii and Alaska. Amelia is a poetic writer whose imagery requires no photographs to support it, though I have added one short video to share Amelia’s zest for creating fun even in the middle of the ocean. Thank you for sharing your written vision from our passage, Amelia.

Amelia and Mary Grace on the bow of TTR.

After a sporty night of downwind surfing, Frank and Erik decided to furl in the reacher and fly the genoa around 0400. Suffering some tearing in the leech, the reacher needed relief. As did the crew. For, even from the cozy confines of our cabins, our senses had been on high alert— listening as the bows sliced through icy seas and silently stalled at top of each mounting wave before screaming down its vertical face. 

Even after fractioning our sail area, the relentless winds soared straight into our sole-flying genoa with verve. And while dawn disarmed the threat of darkness, the seas were still unsettled. Cross-hatched swells slapped the starboard hull and barreled beneath the bridge-deck, causing our floating carbon fiber earth to quake from the core.

I entered the salon just before 0500 to take my watch. As usual, Erik had gotten the rowdiest weather of the night, with roaring gusts that propelled us into surfs at 21+ knots. And, as usual, the seas, swells, and breeze began to noticeably calm as I took the helm. I can’t claim to know why, but there seems to be an unwritten night watch law that appoints one particular crew to “exciting” conditions, while another crew member is assigned to more relaxed circumstances. 

While Erik retreated to the cabin, I sat down at the navigation station to orient myself to our new angles, speeds, and weather conditions. My eyes jogged back and forth between the B&G screen and surrounding seas. In my foreground, digital numbers dropped and stabilized, while the seascape beyond expanded with each gentle heave of the respiring ocean. 

After a three day spell of being socked in and sailing through sea-level clouds, the fog was finally dissipating. Relieved, I watched glistening grey waves roll into an effervescent horizon… 

… Though the veil was lifting, a brisk air of mystery still loomed. Thousands of miles of open ocean surrounded us. Leagues of deep sea swirled below us. And we were still riding the edge of a precarious North Pacific weather system…  

***

Between the navigation screen and the evasive horizon, there are infinite points of focus. Each sense is riddled with stimuli of the purest kind— that of unadulterated, elemental information. And, as easy as it is for daydreams to dance in the romance, it’s the ability to engage with this profound reality that is the most fulfilling. For, the sheer vulnerability of traversing some of the world’s most formidable seas is deserving of unceasing awareness— if not for the sake of safety, than at least for the acknowledgement of gracing the raw edge of existence. 

With s/v Ticket To Ride as the chariot that carries us forth, the vessel that harnesses the elements, we ebb and flow with her calculated reactions. I’ve learned to read her mannerisms like a language. She’s a translator, an instrument for the influencing forces of nature. Rarely does she lurch or halt or reel without a subtle forewarning. The stern of the boat always bucks before sliding down a mounting wave. And the bows almost always rear up before the rudders slide out. Based on the shape of her sail or the sound of her rigging or frequency of her quake, she indicates the reality of the wind, the swell, the overall sea state. 

Therein, she (Ticket to Ride) offers an invitation to engage, to adjust course or sheet the headsail or travel the main— take your pick, play, optimize the elemental interaction. Or, just enjoy the ride. 

***

The rest of my shift consisted of watching the barometer rise, the solar batteries fill, and the tea kettle boil. Squinting into the lemony expanse, I scanned for freights or logs or treasures, but the only signs of action were bubbles in our wake. No adjustments needed. We’d earned a champagne sunrise sail. While the crew caught up on some much needed sleep, I saturated in the moment of serene, smooth, North Pacific sailing. 

Secret in a bottle! Amelia spearheaded our 1/2 way ceremonial wine bottle toss.

Santa Barbara And Point Dume ~ In The Blink Of An Eye.

Santa Barbara-8

Nighttime Santa Barbara from TTR’s cockpit

After Santa Cruz, we headed to the lights of the mainland at Santa Barbara for a quick visit.  We only had one full day to explore Santa Barbara, so out came the e-scooters for a tour around town.

Santa Barbara-7

Exploring by e-scooter

Santa Barbara was very clean and pretty.  It’s impossible to see it in one day on an e-scooter, but one place we stumbled upon in the midst of the city captured our regard.

There is a one square block park in the heart of Santa Barbara that is a nirvana of green space ~ Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden.

The property where the park lies has traded hands several times since the inception of Santa Barbara in 1850.  In 1903, Mary Miles Herter built a grand home with beautiful grounds on this block. Upon Herter’s death, her sons transformed the home into a hotel and they built bungalows all around the main hotel.  “El Marisol” became THE place for wealthy folks to mingle and find retreat.

In 1920 the property was bought by Frederick Clift who maintained the gold standard of El Marisol until he sold it in 1940.  For the next 35 years, the property changed hands and its use varied.

In 1975, Alice Keck Park anonymously purchased the property and donated it to the city of Santa Barbara with specific instructions that it was to be used only as a public space. She also specified that her identity was not to be revealed until after her death.

Santa Barbara-2

Shade and sun dapple the park.

Alice Keck Park’s original gift of the land included enough funds to turn the then neglected land into a beautiful park and maintain the grounds going forward.

Santa Barbara-3

Birdsong was louder in the park than the sounds of nearby traffic.

Today the park is a bubble of beauty with pockets of themed gardens like the butterfly garden or the water feature overflowing with turtles and ducks.  Within the park is a sensory garden area where visually and physically impaired visitors can enjoy the variety of scents, sounds and textures.

Santa Barbara-4

This is a brugmansia arborea or Angel’s Trumpet.

Santa Barbara-6

Angel’s Trumpet close up.

A special thank you to my SIL, Emily, who told me the name of this plant.  Em also informed me that the flowers and leaves are poisonous…. I cannot believe that here in California there wasn’t a giant sign warning about this tree!!

Santa Barbara

Giant palms towered over flowering bushes.

Although we stumbled upon this park, it was so pretty and serene that we ended up spending about an hour just exploring the various areas and soaking up the peaceful atmosphere.

Santa Barbara-1

To the left was the pond with the butterfly garden beyond it.

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A map showing the 75 different types of trees within the garden. 

One final  picture to share from Santa Barbara…. we scootered past this house and it was so cute and quirky that I had to snap a photo.

Santa Barbara-5

This is so inviting but I’m sure the plants would die under my care.

We left Santa Barbara early the next morning and sailed to Point Dume.  We anchored off of a small cove where some friends live.  Point Dume was also a quick stop but it was full of fun thanks to Sydney and Michael whose hospitality was amazing!

Sydney put together a really delicious dinner on the beach and we enjoyed sharing their company while watching the sunlight disappear.

The views from TTR while anchored off Pt. Dume were gorgeous in the morning light.

Pt. Dume

Looking east from TTR

Pt. Dume-1

Love the circle of light in the clouds.

Pt. Dume-2

The little beach where we had dinner is on the left.

Frank and I took a long walk and saw some pretty homes and pretty views from the cliffs.

IMG_8515

The view looking out to the water instead of in from the ocean.

Last year when we were traveling in our RV, fires were ravaging many parts of the west where we visited.  Our plans were altered to avoid the fires and we never really saw the results of the fires.  While walking in Pt. Dume, we were stunned by the remaining evidence of the fires California suffered.  The capriciousness of the fire witnessed by the path of the destruction and how the fire destroyed one home and didn’t even touch another was shocking.

Many homeowners have yet to begin the rebuilding process.  It is truly sad to see the homes that were destroyed and imagine the lives that were lost and permanently altered.

Next up for us is a visit back to Texas, followed by the Annapolis Boat Show then a quick stop in Rhode Island for a hands on safety at sea course where we will actually use our PFDs (personal flotation device), deploy and climb into a life raft, and gain hands on experience with other safety equipment. The safety at sea class is part of our efforts to make sure we are as prepared as possible for our sailing adventures, though we certainly hope never to use any of this particular knowledge!

Thank you for pausing to read our blog. Please feel free to add your comments below.  If you are interested in hearing from us more often, please take a look at our Facebook page.

BVIs? Sea Of Cortez? Both Are Beautiful Sailing Locations. So How Do They Compare?

So recently a reader wanted to know what our average speed is on TTR.  His thought was that we have owned Ticket to Ride for more than four months now and must have an idea of what her average speed has been.

This seemingly simple question took me down a rabbit hole because it sort of assumes that the sailing conditions we have had are consistent. This caused me to think about how different it is to sail in the Sea of Cortez compared to the British Virgin Islands.

SOC vs BVI-8

Looking at Saba Rock in the beautiful BVIs

Long term readers know we had our first boat, Let It Be, in charter in the BVIs through Tortola Marine Management. (TMM has great people and they took excellent care of us and our boat.)  It was in the BVIs that I cut my sailing teeth but because I was completely inexperienced, I didn’t understand how perfect the sailing conditions are there.  Now that I have sailed thousands of miles in a variety of places, I have a better appreciation for just how nice sailing is in the BVIs.

But I digress. The point is that we don’t really have an average speed to report for Ticket To Ride because the sailing conditions these four months have been extremely varied. The first six weeks we sailed TTR we had professionals on board who were there to teach us and to push TTR to make sure she was ready to go.  During that time our fastest recorded speed was 24.7 knots!  (And yes, that is under sails alone.)  Frank and I have not come close to that speed on our own.  Our fastest speed has been 15.6 knots while pinched up at about 55 degrees and true wind speed of 22 knots or so.   I thought we were plenty powered up and wanted to stay at a tight wind angle rather than push the boat any faster.

SOC vs BVI-5

In the SOC it looks like we’re sailing in the mountains of Arizona.

In the Sea of Cortez the sea state changes greatly because there is a lot of fetch,  land masses come and go, wind directions change and chop is caused by varying wind.  It is very rare for us to put sails up and not tack or change sails each time we move anchorages.  Some may think this is a down side to the SOC, but it has been an excellent way for us to practice raising and lowering sails and changing sail configurations on TTR.

SOC vs BVI

In the SOC, flat, desert land here and mountains across the way. 

As we moved into late spring and early summer, the wind patterns in the SOC have changed. Earlier in the year the wind was driven by northerlies and pressure systems from the north, but as the temperatures heat up the winds are thermally and land driven.  That is, the wind is determined by the heating up and cooling off of the land which affects the speed and direction of the breezes.

The Sea of Cortez is well known for some crazy wind conditions with interesting names like Coromuel Winds, which are unique to the SOC. Other wind phenomena in the Sea include Elefantes and Chubascos.  This link to the Club Cruceros website gives a brief overview of the weather near La Paz.

SOC vs BVI-4

BVIs have plenty of places to leave marks of your presence.

When we were sailing in the BVIs, the winds were much more predictable because of the trade winds.  Although the amount of wind changed, the direction was usually the same so we could easily plan our destination. In fact, most of the sailors in the BVIs travel from anchorage to anchorage in the same direction. As a result of the predictability of the wind, it would have been easier to say, ‘oh, TTR sails X percentage of wind speed most of the time” if we had spent these four months in the BVIs.

I can tell you that we sail much more often on TTR than we would be sailing on our former boat.  We sail more often on Ticket to Ride because she points into the wind well and she moves well in light winds.

SOC vs BVI-6

A working fishing village in the SOC.

Stark differences exist between cruising the BVIs and the Sea of Cortez.  First is that the BVIs are much more developed than the Baja Peninsula. This affects many things:

~there are fewer cruisers in the SOC

~there are fewer restaurants in the SOC

~many anchorages are completely undeveloped in the SOC

SOC vs BVI-2

Party time at White Bay, BVI is a daily occurrence.

~villages often do not have electricity or running water in the SOC

~there is less cell phone/wifi connectivity (think none for days at a stretch) in the SOC

~there are very few chartered boats in the SOC

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Los Gatos is a pretty crowded anchorage in the SOC.

~there are more monohulls than catamarans in the SOC

~SOC is less expensive than the BVIs but buying things may be less convenient

~the electronic charts in the BVIs are way more accurate than in the SOC

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Cleaning the day’s catch in San Everisto, SOC.

~less commercialism and a greater need for independence in the SOC

~we have stayed in only one anchorage with mooring balls in the SOC

~more large mammals in the SOC

~fewer coral in the SOC

~the local people in the SOC as a whole seem more welcoming

SOC vs BVI-3

Limbo time on Anegada, BVI.

~the atmosphere in the BVIs is more like a party where the SOC is more about daily life

~the terrain in the BVIs is lush and tropical but the SOC is arid and mountainous

~the temperature changes more in the SOC than in the BVIs

~the water temp in the BVIs is warmer than we have experienced in the SOC

Hopefully this gives you a small insight into the differences between the BVIs and the Sea of Cortez. One isn’t better than the other, they just appeal to different people. I can’t say that we prefer the Sea over the BVIs or vice versa.  For now, the SOC fits our needs (getting experience on TTR in a variety of situations) and we are perfectly happy being a bit more remote.

IF I had to guess the answer to our reader’s question about the average speed of TTR, I couldn’t.  What I would say is that in lighter winds and the right conditions, she is capable of sailing at wind speed. We have had times when TTR actually sailed slightly faster than the true wind speed. I would say TTR is extremely quiet under sail, no creaking of rigging or slapping of halyards.   I would also say that we are really happy with our new home.

Thank you for reading our blog. We would love to hear from you if you have questions. Feel free to look for us on FB for more regular posts, assuming we have connection while in the Sea of Cortez.

New Boats Are Not Like New Cars. Do we have issues?

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TTR before her departure from Xiamen.

So let’s state the obvious first: cars are mass produced and before the first one appears on a showroom floor hundreds of prototypes have been well and truly tested.  Then a bajillion cars are made and 99% of the time, any problem you take to your local dealer will have been addressed in another car before you arrive.

Boat builds are significantly fewer in number.  The number of units of a “mass” production boat model built is still in the 100s after a couple of years.

Ticket to Ride is one of only four HH55s produced to date, and each boat is customized to the specifications of the buyer. Due to this customization, some of the issues we face on TTR are probably different from issues the other three HH55 catamarans have experienced.

In addition to the uniqueness of each boat, our catamaran is a little city unto itself that must safely carry us from one port to the next and provide all of our electrical, refrigeration, water, power and navigational needs.

Given these facts, it is unrealistic to think that every system on TTR, or any other new boat, would be functioning perfectly at the time of delivery.

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La Paz under a full moon taken from where we are anchored.

Knowing we would have issues that needed to be addressed, we decided long before Ticket to Ride was delivered that we would spend a season living on board to figure out what is working and what needs fixing.  That is the purpose of our trip to the Sea of Cortez.

First let us reiterate that we are very pleased with our boat.  The quality and precision of the interior spaces; cabinetry, tech spaces, painted or veneered surfaces, etc are excellent and we are very impressed.

Ticket to Ride sails like a dream and is more capable than we are. I’m not saying we aren’t decent sailors, but this boat has excellent performance rigging, sails and equipment and she is set up to goooo.

But TTR does have some issues and in the spirit of sometimes removing our rose colored glasses, we will share a few of our current concerns and what is driving us to return to the U.S. for warranty work.  To date we have had very good service and response from Hudson Yacht Group with our questions and concerns. 

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The nav desk on TTR.

Perhaps the most complicated and potentially problematic system on Ticket to Ride is CZone; the electronic control and monitoring system that is the brain of everything with an electron flow on TTR. CZone essentially is the replacement for the AC and DC switching panels seen on most boats plus a whole lot more. With this computer brain and the touch of a screen, through CZone we can program our electrical system to fit our current situation. For example, TTR’s CZone system has 6 programmable modes such as “day cruise” or “anchored home” that allow one to turn off and on all the systems used in those situations with the touch of only a single button.  So when we press “day cruise,” VHFs, navigation screens, winches, etc all turn on when we touch that one button. CZONE is a beautiful thing and yes, there is the potential for problems.  After many, many hours reading manuals and technical support phone time with CZone Tech Support of New Zealand, the CZone, Frank and Mary Grace are living in harmony.

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The company responsible for our electronics package is Pochon out of France.  At the time of writing our purchasing contract, we tried to convince HH to use a U.S. company for this pivotal installation. We knew the chances of having everything right from the start were slim because the system interactions and programming are complicated.  We lost that battle and now we are facing a few disadvantages because our resource for fixing the electronics is a French speaking group in France. Between the inconvenience of differing time zones and language barriers, even issues discovered during the delivery phase are still not fixed.

Explaining the details of the electrical / electronic / navigational issues is complicated and more details than we think most of our readers would like to wade through. The summary is that we are having compatibility issues between CZone, B&G, Mastervolt and the Victron electronic components.  We would really like an expert to come on board to resolve the problems. We also need that expert to communicate clearly so we can become more efficient at modifying the system to meet our particular needs.

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Half of the solar panels on TTR.

The solar installation on TTR is excellent and our 1900 watts delivers so much power that we only run our generator once in a while to make sure it still works! The HH team did a first-rate job of adding the individual solar controllers Frank requested and as a result, our solar farm is producing about 80 percent of the energy we require! (The remainder is topped up by the engines when we motor.)

The wiring, neatness, detail and labeling of our boat electronics done at the HH Factory are amazing. Sailors who come on board and peek at our tech room are suitably impressed, as are we.  However, there are a few glitches in the wiring that need to be addressed.

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That is a pretty tech space!

There seems to be a multi-pronged issue with the wiring to our air conditioning units.  Anytime we try to run the port ACs (the side of the master berth), a relay fails, the inverter/generator reads overload and the ACs quit completely. Frank has spent a lot of time trying to trace the issue and with the consultation of Jessica, HH engineer extraordinaire, he has replaced the same relay switch twice.  Both of the new relays failed immediately. Our Northern Lights 9kw generator is powerful enough to run our ACs but the inverter isn’t recognizing the power coming from our generator and consistently shows “overload” and shuts down. 

Related to this problem is that the generator and inverter/charger aren’t talking well even for basic charging of the batteries.  If we try to charge the lithium batteries using the generator, the charger always shows “float” and never reads “bulk charge”  even when the batteries are low enough to accept bulk charge. Frank has spent a lot of time talking to Victron and MasterVolt (inverter/charger and batteries respectively) and neither is willing to work through the problem with us ie, there is some finger pointing going on. Somewhere there is a wiring issue or a setting issue or a communication error in these units.  This needs to be fixed as we won’t always be in sunny Mexico where solar power is an everyday full charge event.

We really like our B&G navigation/charting system but there are a few issues with it too.  Our AIS and VHF systems are not working consistently and when they do work, they only broadcast or receive information for a maximum of 2- 2.5 miles. Considering our air draft is 88 feet, we should easily transmit and receive for at least 8 miles.

(AIS is an automatic identification system used on vessels to identify traffic. Notices of ships nearby show on the electronic chart and information about that vessel’s size, speed and closest point of approach can be seen. This is a big help when sailing at night and very important because we want large container ships to know we are out on the ocean with them.)

Our B&G autopilot, aka Jude, is mostly excellent. Jude can hold to a wind setting or a heading very well.  She can follow a navigation route too. But sometimes Jude decides to change herself from navigating a route to just holding a heading… that would be like skipping a turn(s) when following directions. 

Speaking of autopilots, we intentionally outfitted TTR with a completely separate back up autopilot system. Our primary one is on the port side and is working. Our redundant system is supposed to be installed on the starboard side but we have absolutely no reading from it and do not think it has been completely installed.

Also, we have recalibrated our electronic compasses several times and there still seems to be some discrepancies between the true compass readings and the electronic readings.  We had our traditional compasses professionally swung before we left L.A. and we are confident that the error is in our electronic compasses.  This has a bit of a domino effect and can cause calculated electronic information to be wrong. Frank is confident this issue involves magnetic interference and relocation is the answer. The problem is finding a 6 meter NMEA 2000 cable in Mexico.

Small things still need to be addressed on TTR as well. Some of these include:

~ a light switch mix up where two unrelated lights turn on/off by the same switch.

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~ the enclosure around our helm station was made sooo tight that we cannot get it zipped all around, even when we had three people working together. 

~ the oven on the stove sometimes goes out without any apparent reason.

~ there is a leak from a vent box in the engine room that allows seawater into the area when we have following seas. (HH is fabricating and sending us a replacement to fix this problem.)

This is not an exhaustive list of things that need to be corrected on Ticket to Ride, but it does give you an idea of the types of issues we need to resolve when we get back to the U.S.

We must make a very special mention of Thomas and Riccardo of the HH Team.  These two men have done an amazing job of e-mailing with us, trying to troubleshoot our issues from the other side of the world.  They have been extremely prompt and thorough in their responses and we are truly grateful.  It is their responsiveness that keeps us positive that these issues will get resolved.

We are currently achored in La Paz, Mexico, preparing to move south to Cabo San Lucas where we will wait for a good weather window to sail back north toward Ensenada, Mexico and eventually California. 

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Frank is trying to get a few things resolved on our Spectra water maker before we leave here.  Yes, there are a few bugs relating to the water maker, but so much progress has been made with it that I am not even listing it as a problem anymore.  However, kudos to Spectra WaterMaker support and Riccardo of HH.  They have been extremely responsive to Frank’s e-mails and phone calls and so far  we have been able to make water all along even with the problems!! (Everyone knock on wood, please!)

Phew, so there you have another “report” from TTR.  I promise, the next post will be full of pretty sights from the Sea of Cortez.

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Sunset from our anchorage in Isla Coronados.

Thank you for reading our blog. Our posts are pretty sporadic right now because our connectivity is hit or miss here in Mexico. I try to post to the FB page to at least share some of the beauty of this area but I am limited by access. Thank you for stopping by.

Cruising Mexico with Mahalo/Women Who Sail

Dolphins in the La Paz anchorage.

After Kristen and James flew out of La Paz, Frank and I took a couple of days to simply relax and relish being back in cruising mode. La Paz, Mexico was a great place for us to enjoy being on the hook again and get to know a few people.

There is a very active cruisers group in La Paz and we were fortunate enough to get involved immediately through their daily VHF Net which is sort of like morning announcements when you were in school; but more interesting.

For those unfamiliar with a Net, they differ a bit by location but each usually has a set format that goes something like this:

The host of the net starts announcing around 8 am on the same VHF channel each day and the order of business usually includes:

~emergencies among the cruisers

~weather information

~boats arriving or leaving

~activities in and around the area

~items people have for sale or things people are in need of

~questions about where to buy something or have boat work done

The host acknowledges boats who have information to contribute on each topic, then moves to the next item.

Cruisers nets are very beneficial to boaters and it allows local businesses to let cruisers know if they have special events planned.

Anyway, the La Paz Cruisers net is very well organized and informative. It was a great way to jump start our return to cruising.

Sunset in La Paz

One of the reasons Frank and I wanted to be in La Paz in early April was that the Annual Mahalo/Women Who Sail Rendezvous began on April 6th.

In 2015, Frank and I participated in the very first WWS Rendezvous as a BYOB (Bring Your Own Boat) on Let It Be in the BVIs. We thought the coincidence that our first long trip on LIB coincided with the first WWS Rendezvous and our first long trip on Ticket To Ride matched the 5th WWS Rendezvous was too obvious to ignore.

So we contacted Captain Holly Scott and signed up as a BYOB. Holly put us in touch with Sherri and Steve aboard s/v Pablo who were already in La Paz.

I had a great time tagging along with Sherri as she used donations from the WWS/Mahalo group to buy more than 20 pairs of tennis shoes for kids living in a nearby fishing village.

Panoramic view from the restaurant in San Evaristo.

The Mahalo/WWS Rendezvous ladies contribute to one needy community each year and this year the fishing village in San Evaristo was the recipient. In addition to shoes, the Mahalo Rendezvous contributed the supplies needed to plumb fresh water from the roadside to the school.

The school in San Evaristo.

The information I received from Sherri on s/v Pablo is that the Mexican Government recently ran plumbing from a fresh water well to the roadside of homes and businesses in San Evaristo and it is up to the individual to get the water from the street to their building.

Mahalo/WWS provided the supplies to pipe the water from the street to the school in San Evaristo.

By the way, the well water only flows twice a week and each family must store necessary water between days. (There is no electricity in San Evaristo. Residents use solar panels to charge batteries and that is their power source.)

An early morning drone shot in Caleta Partida.

I won’t give you the blow by blow of our time with the WWS group, but I will share some pictures of the places we visited.

It was quite entertaining to listen to the 7 chartered boat captains and crew on the VHF net for the group. There was much laughter and banter and each net included jokes and other entertainment. It was very fun to be part of this lively group of women who love sailing and exploring.

Dawn in Caleta Partida.

A couple of ladies joined Frank and me on a little snorkel in Caleta Partida. The water was chilly but the sea life was plentiful and diverse. Much fun.

Swimming with sea lions.

One morning the fleet of boats went to Ensenada Grande where tour operators picked us up and took us to swim with sea lions. It was a blast! The young male pups are very curious and would swim nearby, then roll over like a dog asking for his belly to be scratched.

Fishermen an at Isla San Francisco.

One of my favorite sights during our time with the Mahalo/WWS group was in Isla San Francisco. I awakened early one morning to the sound of men speaking Spanish outside the boat.

Turns out it was fishermen casting their nets for baitfish in the early morning light. It was a beautiful sight and demonstrated the camaraderie of the men and the simple way of life here.

Throwing a casting net for bait fish.

The fisherman chased the baitfish between boats.

But do not misinterpret simple for easy. The people here are hard working and the amenities are few compared to life in the U.S. The villages are remote and most are similar to San Evaristo – no electricity and very little fresh water.

We traveled with the Mahalo/WWS Rendezvous until their most northern anchorage then waved a fond goodbye as they turned south and we pointed further into the Sea of Cortez.

I am exceeding grateful to Captain Holly Scott for organizing these Rendezvous. They offer excellent sailing opportunities for many women on chartered boats but also allow live aboard ladies to join the fun. Holly and her crew facilitate seeing beautiful places while creating new friendships and helping local residents.

This is truly a win win event!

I’m having difficulty publishing with so little connection and I have to work on my phone only, so forgive me typos and abrupt transitions. Thank you for reading our blog. Please check out the FB page for more regular information.

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!

 

 

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.

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