Wednesday, December 29, 2010

TransPac Update

Due to career timing, and to allow more time for preparation, it looks like I'll be doing the 2013 TransPac instead of this year's. In the meantime practice, gear maintenance and upgrades, crew selection, and voyage planning are all underway.

Friday, October 29, 2010

What the f*ck is that smell?

I woke up this morning to one of the most atrocious stenches I have ever smelled. I can't even describe it without being offensive, but it's a little like dead rat only way worse. So far I haven't been able to locate the source so I can remove it. I really can't believe a smell this bad could just appear so suddenly...

It doesn't seem to be coming from the typical spots. It's not the heads, the sinks, the drains, the bilge, the garbage, and even the holding tanks don't seem to be any worse than normal. I sniff one end of the boat and it smells like its coming from the other end, then vice versa. Sometimes it even smells like it's coming from outside.

Ugh. How am I supposed to bring ladies aboard when my boat smells like this?
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Update: After a few days of trying to find the source the smell just disappeared by itself. Weird.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


It's finally here! After about two months without sailing, my new sail has arrived! I'd show it to you, but in my excitment to get in installed I totally forgot to take any photos. Whatever. I'll take some as soon I go sailing. Probably today, but this weekend at the latest! Let's go!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Night of the Iguana

My poolside drinking buddy

I just got back from a sweet little vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to sail there and back so we had fly like normal people. We stayed at an all-inclusive resort that my buddy's time share covered.

The place was pretty awesome: Peacocks and iguanas roaming around the place, great restaurants, huge pools with a swim-up bar, and 24-hour unlimited room service. One interesting note: while iguanas usually only eat fruit, they will try to grab anything you leave by the side of the pool if you aren't paying attention. My buddies and I were quite content to float around in the pool, soaking in the sun while sipping on pina coladas and having tacos delivered whenever we pleased...

Everything was perfect. Except that for some reason we decided to bring chicks with us. Talk about a fucking nuisance. Actually, aside from the nagging, wanting to go shopping/clubbing, and inappropriate emotional outbursts they were fine. Next time, though, we'll make do with the girls that are already in Mexico.

I don't remember where this was, but I think it's funny that he's blowing on her nipples

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ready, Set, Go!

I saw this flier yesterday and I think I am going to enter the Transpac 2011 race from Long Beach, California to Honolulu, Hawaii. I am planning to sail back home to Hawaii anyway, and the timing of the race falls pretty close to when I would be moving. It's in July 2011, which would be a reasonable amount of time to get ready, I think. Let's do it!

More info on the race here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Now in HD!

Well, we will be as soon as I start shooting...

I just received this GoPro HD Hero digital camcorder. This thing captures full 1080p digital video--that's better than real life! It's waterproof to 180 feet and has several mounts for various applications. I picked up a mount for attaching it to the rails and a super stylish head strap for POV shots. Should be pretty awesome.

Now I can show off my my killer sailing skills and I'll even strap this thing on next time I'm working on something interesting so you can see how I do it. I'll be launching a YouTube channel alongside this blog soon, so stay tuned.
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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Harshing my morning mellow...

Awoke up this morning to new neighbors. This wouldn't be a problem, but for two things: this has got to be one of the ugliest boats I've ever seen, and the people and kids on it are loud and annoying. Ugh. At least they don't seem to live aboard, so they hopefully won't be around much.

Update: I should take a better photo. This one doesn't do the ugliness justice.
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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Found it!

the culprit

Not the holy grail, or a pot of gold, or anything like that, but my fresh water leak! It's great because now I can fix it, but annoying because it's a connection I had already checked. Another positive is that it's in a spot that's pretty easy to get to.

One of the threaded parts was the cause of the leak, so I went down to West Marine to pick up a replacement. They didn't have the same part, but they had something called a quick connect fitting that does the same thing, only simpler. Great!--except that my old French boat has things in metric sizes, and West Marine didn't... Oh well.

In the end, the best solution looks to be to seal the leaking threads with a fast-curing permanent adhesive. Problem is, it takes 24 hours to cure, so no running water until tomorrow night!

Update: It worked great! No more leak.
with this healthy dose of sealant, there's no way it could leak now...
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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Installed a Froli system

After hearing rave reviews about them, I decided to install a Froli system in my cabin. It's an adjustable plastic spring system that goes under your current foam mattress or cushion. In addition to the spring support, it also raises the mattress a little and allows air flow underneath. This keeps it a bit cooler, and prevents moisture from building up.Well, I've slept on it for a couple of weeks, and while it certainly isn't an amazing improvement, it is better. I might have to try different adjustments to see how the feeling changes but for now it's a little more comfortable and definitely cooler. Also, it has proven to be sturdy enough to hold up to the extra activities in the bedroom...
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No sailing for a month...

Limping home with just the headsail

One the casualties that occurred over the weekend in Catalina was a torn mainsail. We got underway Saturday afternoon ready for a great sail. There was a good breeze, the sun was out, and the photo boat was out ready to get some great shots of my gorgeous yacht and of us just looking awesome.

We raise the main and kill the engine, and we already start booking. 7 knots and climbing on just the main. Totally pumped and convinced we are going to be the fastest boat out there, we gybe to a better course to unfurl the genoa. As the boom switches sides and the main refills, we hear a loud tearing sound and look up to see the main has ripped itself in half. F*ck!

Anyway, I run forward and brought down the main and stowed the pieces so we could motor back in. Words can't describe how bummed we were to miss out on such a great day for sailing...

Long story short, back in San Diego I go about having a new mainsail built. I knew the old main was going to give out at some point, since it was as old as the boat is, but it was still a bit of a shock to find out how much new sails cost. $3700 for just the main! F*ck my ass, I ought to be in the sail making business.

It's going to be about month before the sail is done, so I have month of not sailing to look forward to. I could go out on just the genoa alone, but we'll see. With this time available, I've decided to look at what jobs I could get jobbed using the time that I would otherwise spend sailing (or drinking):

- find and repair the mysterious fresh water leak
- deep clean the bilge and sump
- install the new sump pump and necessary new plumbing configuration
- fix the separated A/C ducting
- haul out and have the transom repainted and gelcoat repaired
- replace the propeller while the boat is hauled out ($$$$)
- take the clock into a clock maker for troubleshooting (this a pretty low priority, I don't mind that it's always ten after one the clock still looks cool)

Let's see how many I actually get done.
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Monday, August 9, 2010

the Catalina F*CKIN Wine-Mixer!

Approaching the island

I have to preface this with the unfortunate fact that the primary camera used to document this trip was stolen or possibly just lost during the adventure, so these are the only remaining images. For certain events here this is probably a good thing, however.

The 2010 Southern California Beneteau Rendezvous was in Two Harbors, Catalina and being a Beneteau owner now of course I was going to go. The plan was to depart at around 5:35 am on Thursday morning, meet the rest of the San Diego boats just outside of Point Loma, and all sail up as a group. As I mentioned, the was the plan...

Also part of the plan, I had a short list of pre-underway tasks to complete Wednesday afternoon/evening. These included loading up on provisions (rum, limes, etc), moving some clothes and other non-essential items and tools that were cluttering the main salon, filling the water tanks, and getting a healthy night of sleep.

What happened instead follows:

Wednesday afternoon
In my excitement to leave work and get started with the trip, I forgot about the limes and left the two dozen I had purchased during lunch in my office fridge. This would not be discovered until Thursday afternoon midway between San Diego and Catalina.

I did have to go to an office function after work. It was a two-hour no-host cocktail social that was conveniently located within a couple of miles of my marina. No problem. I'll hang out for little while, have a couple of drinks, say hello to everyone, and then get home during daylight hours and knock out those pre-underway tasks. This is not what happened.

Instead I had several [read: more than several] drinks, stayed the rest of the evening, got hammered, harassed all the waitresses, got lost, tried to fight a taxi driver, and eventually made it back to boat by around 3:00 am. No problem.

Thursday morning
At 5:15 am I am awakened by Ryan and am informed that it is time to go. Tired, probably still drunk, and not hungover yet (too soon), I hastily make preparations for getting underway. This means I gathered up all the "clutter" mentioned previously, threw them in my dock locker, and threw over all the lines. Let's go.

At least I remembered the rum

Already running late, we speed out of the harbor and try to catch up with our flotilla, raising our enormous ten foot Beneteau pennant (twice, since it was upside down the first time). We never catch them, and motor sail by ourselves as we watch them get smaller on the horizon. Of course, Ryan says he had a late night and asks if I can take the first watch while he takes a nap... No problem.

Now, I don't get sea sick, but occasionally get viciously hungover when not allowed time to sleep it off. The first few hours of this trip were pretty miserable. Struggling to stay awake, head pounding, and unable to keep any food or water in my stomach. I eventually turn the watch over to Ryan and try to take a nap. Unable to actually fall asleep, but feeling a little better, I come back up on deck to see how everything is going and notice the engine temp gauge is pegged over. I quickly secure the engine and unfurl the genoa so we can sail for a bit while I investigate.

I open the engine compartment and the steam is billowing out. Looks lie the coolant cap popped off and all the coolant boiled away. Awesome. After it cools a bit I go to refill the coolant and remember that the coolant jug was one of the "clutter" items I removed. No problem, I'll just fill it with water for now. Oh yeah, I was supposed to fill the water tanks before we left. Oops. Luckily, we brought along a case of Dasani bottled water for drinking, and this is now cooling my engine. Right on.

Land Ho!

About 14 hours after we left, partly due to our engine casualty and the fact that whenever the sun broke out we would kill the engine and sail, we arrive in Two Harbors and moor in our assigned spot. Time for a drink!

The view from our mooring

I head below to fix a couple of cocktails before we head ashore, and Ryan sets about inflating the dinghy for that very purpose. Halfway into a pair of pina coladas, I hear a loud thump followed by a louder thud. Poking my head out of the companionway I observe the dinghy is in the cockpit halfway inflated, and Ryan is nowhere to be seen... Turns out the dinghy unfolded violently during inflation and knocked Ryan into the lazarette. Maybe we should have closed it after we took the dinghy out. Oh well, stop messing around down there and get the dinghy inflated before the bar closes!

While you're down there, see if you can figure out why the autopilot isn't working

This post has turned out to be a lot longer than I intended, and that was just the voyage up. I guess I'll have to add a part two to this later.

California coastline in the distance

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Friday, July 30, 2010

just like assholes

I've been a little slow updating this blog so far, and it seems like it's more fixing and working and less sailing and drinking...
The sailing and drinking is actually just as frequent, though. I just don't get around to updating computer/blog stuff since I'm either out sailing or drunk! (Note: I'm never both at the same time--this boat was too expensive to wreck it)

I'll be updating some posts in the blog backlog soon. Especially when I get my hands on some new photos. I never carry a camera, so all I end with are photos of myself on the wheel...Which look awesome, of course, but I already have some of those on here.

Oh, and speaking of excuses, if there any typos on this blog it's because my keyboard is rubbish.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Nude Beach this way -->

I wasn't actually at a nude beach--well, not recently--but I did have to run to the hardware store to get a larger wood-boring drill bit. On my way out I saw that they had these signs and for some reason decided that I needed one on the boat. Now I have one, and I think it adds a nice touch of character to my already very classy forward head...
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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Look at this f*ckin thing!

Almost 5 feet long!

I just saw this guy cruising slowly by as I was walking up to the boat. Good thing he wasn't around when Ryan was under the boat plugging a through-hull with his finger as I changed out that broken seacock valve... Don't tell him.

Monday, July 26, 2010

No conservation here

I think I have a fresh water leak somewhere. I've been getting about an inch of water in the bilge every day, and my fresh water pump kicks on every hour or so. I don't know for sure these are related, but the freshwater system is obviously losing pressure somewhere so it makes sense.
Only thing is, all the most obvious spots are dry. I've check all my faucets (especially the shower I just installed), the water heater, and the pump itself and they aren't leaking. This means it's somewhere hidden and I'm going to have to dig around to find it. Fun.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sounds and 13's

Before. Maybe I can sell this to a museum?

One of my favorite things back when I used to live on land (a month ago) was the sound and home theater systems. I can do without the home theater, but I need to do something about this stereo on the boat.
I have onboard 26-year-old original equipment AM/FM cassette deck, two old, broken bookshelf speakers in the salon, and two old, broken marine speakers in the cockpit. Only two of the speakers work, they sound terrible anyway, and the FM reception (of course I don't own any cassettes) is less than spectacular. This isn't going to do. Everyone that comes on the boat asks if there is any music... Plus, how am I am supposed to have a bunch of hot chicks dancing around my boat without a decent stereo?

Let's fix this...

Unfortunately, that isn't the cocaine I spilled over the side this morning...

This part was kind of a pain in the ass. The new, much better [and louder] speakers were a couple of inches larger than the old ones. Oh, and oval shaped instead of round. Yes, I could have gotten smaller round shaped ones, but think about the dancing hot chicks.

After masking the surrounding are to prevent scratches, I used a reciprocating saw to cut the larger holes where the old ones were. I taped a garbage bag over the back side of the hole to catch the mess and used a handheld vacuum cleaner to take care of the front. Did I mention that my enormous (that's right, ladies) steering wheel was in the way of everything? Well, I took it off.
What's this round thing for?

Once the holes were cut, it didn't take long to grind them into perfect fits, clean the area, apply the sealant/adhesive, and screw the new speakers in. 125 watts each, b*tch.
Cockpit done

Next was the main cabin. Easy. Step one, throw away old speakers. Step two, rip out old, sh*tty speaker wire. Step three, run new Monster Cable large gauge insulated, shielded wire (i used this for the cockpit, as well). Place new 80 watt speakers.
Salon done

Complete. Now where are those girls at?

After, and you can't even see the terrible job I did of cutting the wood...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Grow your own

I love mojitos, especially when I make them. No lie, mine are probably the best mojitos in the state, at least. but a good mojito requires good, fresh mint. I used to have to buy it pretty often just so I would have fresh mint on hand when the fancy struck me...or my guests.
I shop at the grocery near my office now, since I have to buy groceries more frequently with my small boat fridge. the mint they sell there comes alive and still in a clump of dirt so you know it's fresh. Well, instead of following the printed directions and refrigerating these, I left them out and kept the dirt wet and now they last for weeks. Brilliant.
I'm taking this a step farther, and will be purchasing or building some sort of hanging planter that I can keep outside on the stern rail. Stay tuned.
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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Gettin' my head straight

My aft head, which is manually pumped, has had a problem for a while. It will flush away water/waste/etc but it won't refill itself with seawater. I did a little research, since I didn't know anything about marine toilets, and I found that it most likely is a bad flapper valve (or top valve gasket, as Jabsco calls it). I bought one for around ten bucks and pulled the toilet pump apart.

I also grabbed some of this stuff. I don't know if it will help, but it certainly can't hurt...

The flapper valve did look pretty bad, so I replaced it and reassembled the pump. The good news is, these toilets are incredibly simple. The bad news is I still wasn't getting any flushing water. I checked the inlet hoses and they're all clear, so it looks like this guy is the culprit. I'm not positive that the through-hull isn't clogged, but with a flashlight I can see that the valve isn't opening when I turn the handle, so apparently I've got a faulty seacock...
Everything else still works fine, ladies

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Shower Overhaul - part one

The existing nasty looking shower

I purchased a new faucet/shower combo last week with the intention of installing it before the weekend and any guest came aboard. I ended up going out drinking and then having guests aboard anyway instead. If they wanted to take a decent shower, they were going to have to use the marina showers. Whatever.

Now it's Tuesday, and I decided to get cracking. I'm pretty sure I have what I need to get started, so I shut off my water pump, open all the other faucets to release the water pressure, and start pulling the old apart and out. Right away I see the first problem. The brass fittings beneath the old faucet are more than twice as long as the ones on the new faucet/shower. The water supply hoses won't reach. I'm going to need to get some more hose and attach extensions.

Also, it was time to take a break to pick up more beer and some Chinese food. But first, I take another look to see if I will need anything else before this job is done. Good thing, too, because I noticed that the new faucet isn't quite round where it passes through the countertop. I need to pick up a half round file to make the hole the right shape. Now I need to make an extra stop.

Hose, fittings, clamps, beer, and spicy orange chicken in hand I return to the boat to finish knocking this out. Now though, it's dark, and I apparently ought to add new interior lights to my list of projects because these are clearly insufficient for seeing underneath bathroom counters... Son of a bitch! Luckily I do have flashlights onboard. I get everything put together and the moment of truth comes. I turn the water back on and check for leaks, and everything seems to be working quite nicely. Too bad the Chinese sucked. I'm never going to that place again...
Shiny, new, and more modern looking at least

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sky High WiFi - part one

So I'm going to need some kind of internet access on the boat, especially since I don't plan to hook up cable for my tv. The marina that I'm in has WiFi and it works decently well, but it's hard to get a signal from inside the boat...

I've searched around and found what I hope to be a perfect solution. It's called a Bullet M2 HP, made by Ubiquiti Networks. I don't know exactly what it is, but if you give it an antenna it can pick up WiFi for miles, apparently.

So, around a hundred bucks later and a week later, I have one of those Bullets, something called a PoE injector, and a foot-long omnidirectional all-weather antenna. Let's go.

Maybe thirty minutes and a beer later, I've got the antenna attached to the Bullet, the Bullet connected via ethernet to the PoE injector, which is connected to both my laptop and a 12 volt power drop I scavenged from the old chart table lamp (it was blocked by my gps chartplotter anyway). Go internet!

Or not. I thought I would be all set. I didn't electrocute myself, everything looked right, and I had followed the [sparse] instructions that were printed on the bullet's box..


A little network troubleshooting (something to do with DHCP) and several beers later, voila! All the free internet porn I can ever watch. Now I just need to con one of my buddies into climbing the mast to mount it optimally.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

5 of July

What better way to celebrate your nation's independence than to go sailing the day after? I can't think of any, so we did. It was a gorgeous sunny day on the bay and my buddy showed up with a case of beer and a bunch of chicks. Ten minutes later, we made the ugly ones stay behind on the dock and set sail!

We're not gay, I promise

As we passed Point Loma and headed out to sea my buddy, who happens to be a rocking musician, grabbed my ukulele and within moments figured out how to play some of his best songs on it. Fucking great day. I love America!

Identities protected in case their boyfriends see the blog...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Let's have a go

It's my second day with the boat, and my buddy Ryan and I, stoked on being sailors now--and a little disappointed with our demonstrated sailing ability yesterday--are hitting the water again.

This time, I've re-read key parts of some of my sailing books and I'm pretty sure we're gonna fly this time. Let's go.

After motoring out into the middle of the bay, I point into the wind and we get started. Mainsail up (boy, that electric winch is handy!) . Check. Boom free. Check. turn 90 degrees to wind. Check. Sheet in mainsail until...shit! We're moving! The engine is off and look at that--3 knots. Woo Woo! This is easy...

Stoked, but still a little unsatisfied, we decided to unroll (furl, whatever) the jib and have a go with that thing. I chose a winch, put a couple of [clockwise] turns on it and let Ryan crank away. The jib--genoa, apparently--isn't even all the way unfurled and we're already noticeably accelerating. Nice!

Headsail fully unfurled and sheeted in somewhat appropriately and making nearly 7 knots, we celebrate thoroughly happy with ourselves and with the fact that we are such superb sailors.

Our celebration is short-lived, though, since we quickly run out of water and need to come about before we end up on the rocks. We've never had to do this before, but no problem. I start to turn, he releases the working sheet, and starts hauling in the lazy one. Voila! Now we are sailing the other way. Damn, this sailing thing seems pretty easy.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Trust me, it'll fit!

Well, I managed to acquire a slip just in time to take delivery. It was a bit of a rush because I was stoked and wanted to bring the boat home as soon as possible. Sooner, actually.

I ended up in a marina that was not my first, second, or third choice, but it's in a good location, has decent amenities, gave me a sweet discount, and is very close to an excellent bar (very important). Oh yeah, and they had a liveaboard slip available. (Fun Fact: San Diego only allows 10% of any marina's slips to be liveaboards)

I brought a buddy along to handle lines and we drove down to pick up the boat. The previous owner was there and was understandably pretty sad to see her go as she had owned her for 25 years. The previous owner was also a little concerned with the fact that neither my buddy or I was much of a sailor, but it's my boat now, so let's go.

Getting underway was easy and uneventful, i.e., good, and soon we were out in the bay on our way to my new slip. Since we had plenty of time, we decided that we might as well put the sails up and have a go at actually sailing.

We got the sails up, then looked at each other and asked, "Now what?" We weren't going anywhere, the sails were just flapping, and we certainly weren't heeled over and dipping a rail in the water. After a bit of steering around, the sails finally tightened and we started making some headway--just under a knot. Obviously we were doing something wrong, or at least not doing something right, so we eventually brought down the sails and motored the rest of the way home.

Pulling into my new slip was a little hairy, though. It's accessible enough, being on the end, but it is downwind. I motored past it, turned around, and lined up to enter the slip slowly. Everything is going smoothly until about halfway in we notice that it's getting a little tight. The fenders are getting smashed and by the time we're in there all the way there is about two inches of room on either side of the boat, and we're wedged in tight by the fenders. I'm gonna need a bigger slip...

We'll sort that out later, though, since the boat's definitely not moving and we're still pumped about what awesome sailors we are. Time for a mojito!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Where the F*** am I going to keep this thing?

So aside from actually signing over the money, the last step is to find a slip. Good luck. So far all the marinas I've called have waiting lists well over a year--some said at least five!

The best ones I've found are built into the backs of hotels. These ones have some of the best locations on the bay, and even better, offer full access to all the amenities of the hotel (room service right to your boat?), and best of all they have bars in them. I could essentially be living at one of the nicest hotels in town, and be able to sail whenever I want. However...waiting list, waiting list, waiting list.

I forgot to mention one other thing. Those marinas are a little pricey. $20 to $30+ per foot per month. Plus, you can add $200 to $500 per month to any of these for "liveaboard fee." On the other side of the spectrum, I found a marina that is only about $5 per foot, but of course it's not nearly as nice and still has a long waiting list. But, just imagine how much extra money I'd have left over to spend on repairs and upgrades!

In the meantime, though, I just need a place to put my boat. I'll go for just about any marina with an opening for now.

Friday, June 18, 2010


Finally, after nearly two years, I've done it. I found the boat I want, found the money I needed, and pulled the trigger.

S/V Queen's B IV

Yesterday, we hauled out, surveyed, and test sailed the boat, a 1984 Beneteau First 42. The surveyor found it in great condition for it's age, and the bottom looked fantastic. It sailed great, with plenty of easy speed and power with fingertouch control all the way.

Let's go.