Monday, September 28, 2015

Day 27-28 of the 2nd Voyage: In which the engine room is made whole again and we rethink our “leave no man behind” policy.

A couple days ago, the Captain and I were making our way down to one of the beaches when we stumbled upon a rusty, old diesel engine that had been abandoned amongst the weeds. Apparently the universe is not without a sense of humor. The Captain remarked, “I bet it runs better than ours.” Because the Captain is not without a sense of irony.

But thanks to Richard, our mechanic from Santa Rosa, we can tell the universe to go take a hike. As promised, he returned with our transmission—new rings, new seals, new caps, new collars—and he and the Captain got it reinstalled. A few hours later and the gears were working, the shaft was spinning, and nothing was overheating. We might just make it out of here yet.

As we were saying our goodbyes and making small talk, Richard asked where we were headed next and we replied, “Santa Cruz. Want to come with us?” (After all, a mechanic might be a handy crew member when your 33-year old engine keeps falling apart.) For whatever reason, he declined. But he did offer to drive down to Santa Cruz should something go horribly wrong. He was joking, of course. But I’m hoping he didn’t give the universe any ideas.
With some confidence that the engine was ready to resume the journey (notice I didn’t say “total”—after this many times to the rodeo, you start having a lot more respect for the bull), we prepared for a 9:00 am Sunday departure. The forecast called for a high of 74, waves at 3-5 feet, and winds at 6 knots. Aside from some patchy morning fog, great conditions for a 7-hour journey. While the Deck Boss and I did the last of the stowing, the Captain turned over the engine, checked the transmission, and tested the gears. We then unplugged from shore power and prepared for departure. I went down below to gather life jackets and as I was coming back up, something seemed…off. Head count. Captain? Check. Deck Boss? Check. Otter? Check. Edgrrr? Edgrrr? Edgrrr? The damn cat had gone MIA.

Now it’s no secret that Edgrrr is not a big fan of the engine. It’s loud, it rumbles, and as of late it is a harbinger of the bumpy ride to come. When the engine is turned on, he immediately heads for one of his seven hidey-holes on the boat. Only today, his seven hidey-holes were empty. We checked everywhere. We looked in lockers, cabinets, closets, drawers, and berths; checked under pillows and behind books. We even checked the engine room because yes, he might resort to reverse psychology. When a search of the topsides came up empty, I knew there was only one place he could be…Brother Buzz, the floating petri dish next door. 

In the past week, we had found him a couple of times on the B-Buzz. In those instances, we called and he came right on out. Today, he was playing possum. Hoping I still had potency left on my last tetanus shot, I ventured aboard and poked around. It was layers upon layers of junk holding up junk—buckets, nets, tools, rope, small appliances, planks, beer bottles, hunks of metal—all corroded together in rot. There were holes in the deck, soft spots on the planking, and windows broken out—all convenient openings for a cat (or any other critter for that matter) to get down below. Wherever he was hiding, he was not coming out and there was no going in after him. As we are unfamiliar with Monterey Bay, we had set a departure window of between 9:00 and 10:00 so that we could reach Santa Cruz while there was still plenty of daylight. At 9:50 we conceded defeat, shut off the engine, and prepared for one more day at dock. The little bastard crept out from under a rotten deck plank at 10:05.

I went up to the harbor office to pay for another night and ran into Bo, the Harbor Patrol Agent who helped push us in to “H” dock the first night we arrived. We got to talking—about transmissions, boats, life plans, and finding yourself stuck in places that you're kind of glad you did. She asked when we were leaving, and I mentioned that we had hoped to leave that morning but that the cat had other plans. She laughed, “A cat?! You also have a cat? Three people, a dog, and a cat?! You’re like a circus!” Bo, you have no idea.
Pictured: A**hole

Pictured: Where Edgrrr may find himself the next time he sabotages a departure


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Day 25-26 of the 2nd Voyage: In which we patiently wait for our transmission by turning into complete beach geeks.

This may come as a shock, but Washington State is severely lacking in warm, sandy beaches. Factoring in the outer coastline, the offshore islands, the sounds and bays, and the tidal portion of the big rivers, Washington has over 3,000 miles of shoreline—but very few beaches where you could comfortably dig your toes in the sand and not get frostbite.

Now before my fellow Washingtonians rise up and revoke my “Mildew or Die” membership card (on second thought, go ahead and revoke it), I want to clarify that Washington beaches are beautiful, nay breathtaking, and many are well worth an inclusion on anyone’s bucket list. But the fact of the matter is that they are more conducive to beachcombing (an activity in which you search the beach for something to do that doesn’t involve swimming, wading or sitting in the sand), metal detecting (a hobby in which you search for treasure on beaches where you can’t swim, wade or sit so you can afford a vacation to a beach where you can) and clamming (an activity in which you take out your frustrations at not being to swim, wade or sit by digging holes all over the beach) than to basking in the sun and playing in the surf.

Most of the beaches in Washington are what tourism brochures refer to as “wet, wild, and rugged.” In other words, instead of sun you’ll have drizzle (pack your waterproof hoodie!); instead of sand you’ll find slick rocks, slimy mud and broken shells conjoined to make Hell’s own Slip-n-Slide (what your orthopedic surgeon will call “vacation home in Maui”); and whereas you will definitely have surf, it will be full of trees that are trying to kill you. No, seriously. Many beaches post signs that implore you not to turn your back on the water as large tree trunks are known to blast up on shore with the waves. Don’t believe me? Next time you’re on a Washington beach, look around at all the trunks strewn about. That’s right. Your beach comes with a body count.

Not to say that we don’t have beaches where you could theoretically dig your toes into the sand and not worry about lethal trees. We have Alki Beach in West Seattle, for instance. It’s still too cold for swimming, but at least the sand is somewhat warm…during the summer…in the middle of a heatwave. Now it’s been years since I’ve been there so let me pull some recent soundbites from Yelp: “good for beachcombing”; “…it had real sand!”; “the water was full of seaweed” (this guy was from Denmark and probably the only person to actually go IN the water); and my personal favorite…“You won’t have much to do if you don’t like being so close to the water” (which is either way existential or just plain stupid—there’s a fine line.) Frommer’s didn’t even mention the sand…or the seaweed for that matter. They went with “there are lots of cheap restaurants and places to buy sunglasses across the street.” Okay, I can sort of see the restaurant angle. If you’re going to spend $10 a day on coffee, you have to cut corners on your fish and chips. But sunglasses? I don’t know anyone from around here who doesn’t have five pairs: your “good ones”; the ones you actually wear; the ones that you won’t get too upset over if the dog eats them; the ones with the scratched lenses you keep in the car in case you find yourself at Alki Beach without a pair; and the welder’s helmet for that first day the sun comes out after six months of dreary drizzle. Not having sunglasses must be a tourist thing.

But I digress a little. Bodega Bay was nice and there must have been some beaches around there somewhere because there were surf shops, but given the cold ocean temperatures I figured that much like the Washington surf shops they sold blubber suits, earmuffs, heated boards, and maps to a secret beach where you could surf without fear of being poached. Editor’s Note: We did in fact pass by the entrance to a beach but they wanted $7 to enter. What if the beach was “wet, wild, and rugged”? We couldn’t take that chance. But Half Moon Bay is different. It had beaches all over the place! Editor’s Note: Free beaches! Small ones, long ones, some for surfing, some for fishing, some with dark sand, some golden and soft. We went to Mavericks Beach where in the winter they have waves that get up to 60 feet high and crazy people that actually surf them. We spent some time on Surfers Beach where the waves were not so high (and the people not so crazy). And we walked on one long beach that turned out to be five different beaches because apparently there’s a “no beach left behind” policy so room must be made for all of them. And when we’d exhausted the local beaches, we hopped on the bus that travels a stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway to gawk at all the beaches along there.

I guess if I had to come up with a reason for the sudden fascination with beaches, it’s probably because this is the first place that truly looks, feels, and even smells different from home. Familiarity is waning, giving way to anticipation, and that makes everything more exciting…even stretches of sand.

We weren’t able to comfortably go into the water—this is the end of September after all and we’re still somewhat in the northern climes—but for right now, we’re just thrilled to be able to walk along the surf’s edge and not freeze, sit on the sand and not have a damp butt, and gaze out at the Pacific without fear of a tree harpoon. I can only imagine what awaits us further south.
Pictured: Otter playing in the surf with a piece of wood.
Not Pictured: The tree it came off of. That's terrorizing a campsite in La Push, WA.


Saturday, September 26, 2015

Day 23-24 of the 2nd Voyage: In which once again a hunk of metal has us immobilized, but at least we’re in a better neighborhood.

First some thoughts on the events of day 22: I guess the good thing about the transmission crapping out again was that it happened right as we cleared the last breakwater in the harbor—so not too far out to sea. We’re becoming seasoned sailors (I use the term loosely; technically we’re becoming immune to misfortune), so the “oh sh*t” portion of the ordeal only lasted about 10 seconds before we all went into action. The Captain brought us about and prepared the anchor, the Deck Boss kept the Swab from getting underfoot, and I, having a classic Yogi Berra “it’s déjà vu all over again” moment, got on the VHF to inform our new BFFs in the Harbor Patrol that we had lost all gear functions—again—and that we had dropped the anchor—again—and now we needed a tow (slightly different—last time we only needed a push). “Where would you like to be towed?” they asked. “Any place with a mechanic.” I responded. “No mechanics here. I’ll give you the number for vessel assist and they can tow you to the nearest city.” they offered. (Nearest city? San Francisco? That’s half a day away…and going in the wrong direction.) “Guess we’ll go with the marina, then.” I answered. “We’re on our way.” they said with an audible sigh.

And so about an hour after leaving “H” dock, we were pushed into our new berth on “C” dock and found ourselves trudging up to the port office with our tails between our legs. The question was inevitable and the only answer we could muster was, “Yes – this is the same problem we had last night when you had to rescue our sorry butts, but if it’s any consolation we’re sure the problem is much, much worse today!” But being the lovely people that they are, they didn’t give us any grief and actually put us in contact with the only mechanic in the area—the one that works on their official boats. As it turns out, that wasn’t necessary. The Captain put in a call to Richard, our mechanic in Santa Rosa, and being the up-standing guy that he is, he offered to come out the next day and make good on what had gone so bad.

Now this is where I could get all technical and stuff, but I’m going to throw this out in laymen’s terms because it’s the only way I half understand it myself. When Richard first had our transmission, he admitted that there were a couple of things that seemed odd (yet they worked) but the only thing that was actually broken was the seal; so the seal was replaced and the transmission reinstalled. So one would assume that if the exact same transmission is going in—the one that had been working perfectly fine until the seal blew--then everything should be peachy. But apparently the broken seal was merely a cry for help and now that the transmission had our attention, it was going into full melt-down mode. Richard and the Captain hauled it out, did some surface inspections, examined the components that fed into the transmission, consulted the service manual, perused some recently discovered communications between Raven’s previous owner and the transmission’s manufacturer, and sacrificed a chicken (not really—just wanted to see if you were paying attention). To keep the narrative going (and because I sense you are zoning out), here are some key words and phrases that were bandied about: overheating, bad suction, MacGyvered, external filter, undersized ring, wrong model number, Frankensteined, pump. Editor’s Note: two of those words are not exactly what you want to hear when describing a vital component of the engine. Hint: one of them had a bad haircut, and so did the other one. The verdict is still out on what precisely the problem is, but this is what’s known: the transmission is going on another trip to Santa Rosa where it will be pulled apart completely, put back together correctly, and brought back to the boat for reinstall four days later at which time all the peripheral systems will be checked to make sure they play nice with the guy just back from rehab.

In the meantime, we are settling into our new home at the end of “C” dock. Unlike our previous spot at the end of “H”, many of the boats on this side of the marina are in good shape or are in the process of being restored plus there are quite a few live-aboards—all factors that create a more sociable (and safer) environment. Now did you notice how I said “most” of the boats? Unfortunately, much like our old spot on “H”, the boat directly across the finger dock from us is… well, words escape me. But imagine you had a boat—a fishing boat (I think)—along with a tackle shop, a lumber yard, four bucket seats from an old car, and the random contents from the garage the car came out of. Take all that and put it in the direct path of a tornado, then add a matching dinghy. Celebrate your masterpiece with four empty six-packs of beer, neatly stack them on a shelf next to the dock box (because why not?), and add one to two years of cobwebs since that was most likely the last time you set foot on the “Brother Buzz”. (Or six months with a good lawyer.) But I must say that there is a positive aspect to being next to the B-Buzz…the sea lions avoid it like the plague.
Pictured: The Brother Buzz...Boat of the Year? No. Patriotic? Hell, yeah.
Pictured: Side view. Because you just can't turn away.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Day 22 of the 2nd Voyage: In which we’d like to thank the men and women of the Pillar Point Harbor Patrol for towing us back into the marina…again.

‘Nuff said.

Pictured: Getting towed back in to Pillar Point Harbor Marina (Half Moon Bay) a mere 15 minutes after leaving.
Not Pictured: The collective thousand-yard stare of the crew when asked if "they were having fun yet".

Monday, September 21, 2015

Day 21 of the 2nd Voyage: In which everything goes perfectly until it doesn’t.

Bodega Bay to Half Moon Bay: The day couldn’t have started out better: cool but not cold, dewy but not foggy, shifting but not just in one direction. Now able to go both forward and backward, we eased out of the slip and headed toward the channel—a 9-hour journey ahead of us to Half Moon Bay. The initial passage out was rough but once we got out about five miles and turned south, the sea calmed down, the sun shone bright, and the temperature shot up. The next eight hours were spent kicking back on deck, tweaking the autopilot every now and then, taking the occasional cat nap, and scanning the horizon for obstacles. Editor’s Note: A typical obstacle is a crab pot. Whereas we had a few of those, our other obstacle was MSC Line’s 1000-foot Arianne. It’s rare that a large container ship is the “obstacle” but when they’re only going 3 knots and you’re going 8, it turns into an interesting game of “chicken”. Technically we could have safely crossed their bow with plenty of room, but didn’t want to inadvertently end up the bug on their windshield. We could tell they were concerned; they just had the hull waxed.

We reached Half Moon Bay a little before 5:00 pm and as I’m preparing lines and fenders, I hear “whale!” and sure enough, about 200 yards away is a humpback whale swimming back and forth between the buoys. He’s sending up sprays and lolling along the surface and finally gives us “the tail” as he dives deep. It was pretty freaking cool! But I had work to do. There was a docking to be done and I was not going to mess it up. We made our way into the Pillar Point Harbor Marina—past the long breakwaters bright white with bird poop from the hundreds, nay thousands, of pelicans, seagulls, and assorted waterfowl that make these rocks their home—and found our berth, a side tie at the end of “H” dock. The Captain made his approach, turned us around for a starboard side tie and…no gears. No forward. No reverse. He immediately released and set the anchor in an effort to keep us from drifting toward the breakwater while I called for assistance on the VHF. We waited. And waited. The stern was starting to drift dangerously close to the poopy-white rocks. I got on the VHF again and implored them to come right away. I told them, “We’ve set an anchor, but the wind is driving the stern toward the rocks. If you could please come right away that would be … lovely.” Lovely? Granted, I was under stress. I was trying to convey the urgency of the situation while watching the rocks get closer and closer. I panicked. I froze. But lovely? Even I wanted to slap me. But help did arrive in the guise of Chris and Bo of the Pillar Point Harbor Patrol and they were able to push us toward and alongside the dock so we could get tied off. They were friendly, professional, and didn’t make us feel awkward for the situation we were in. They were lovely.

Once we got tied off, the Captain went below to the engine room and came back with a prognosis. The immediate problem was a nut that had come off that was allowing the reverse gear to disengage. This had triggered a larger problem with the gear settings in general. The Captain was able to fix the reverse gear and adjust the settings so that once again we had full functionality. We would be able to continue our journey the next morning.

Which leads me to the neighbors. The only spot the marina had available that was large enough for us was in the commercial/derelict section. We never mind the commercial docks and rather like the rattle and hum of the working boats, but derelict is something different. About a quarter of the boats on “H” dock are derelict—some sailboats, some power, some commercial. They are green with mildew, caked in bird poop, and look like they’d sink to the bottom as soon as you untied them. It always makes me sad to see boats in this condition. You know they were bought with the best intentions, but when life gets in the way, the boat is usually the first to be neglected.

But these are not the neighbors that I speak of—they don’t bitch, complain, argue, or jostle for space. There’s a “fine” boat in the slip next to us (and by “fine” I mean condemned) and on the other side of it is a finger dock that has been commandeered by the local sea lion community. At any given time there are at least eight of the beasts lumped one on top of the other vying for the best part of the dock (which I’m assuming is the part not sinking into the harbor under the weight of eight grumpy sea lions or perhaps it is and they want to be the first to desert the sinking dock when it finally gives way.)  They bark and ark and orf and oof and belch and growl pretty much non-stop. As soon it starts to quiet down over there, a new sea lion swims up and tries to hop on and the symphony of bitching starts all over again. And they stink. Did I mention they stink? At first we thought it was the guano from the hundreds, nay thousands, of birds perched on their poopy white rock walls, but they got nothing on the sea lions. They put out a stink that’ll curl your hair if it doesn’t fall out first. I looked it up and a group of sea lions is called a “raft”. Guess that’s appropriate if a raft is four feet high, smells like a cesspool, and sinks like a brick.

So we ended the evening on the back deck—drinking beer, swatting at flies, holding our noses, and trying to talk over the cacophony one slip over—and hoped that the next day would bring a better outcome.
Pictured: 8 sea lions vying for the prime "perch at the end of the pier"
Not Pictured:  The Pig Pen cloud of pollution wafting around the group
Pictured: The "fine" boat next to us at Pillar Point Harbor Marina
Not Pictured: The "fine" raft of sea lions lamenting that "there goes the neighborhood" 
Pictured: Pillar Point Harbor Patrol leaving after getting us situated on "H" dock
Not Pictured: Envy of a boat that actually works


Saturday, September 19, 2015

Day 18-20 of the 2nd Voyage: In which we bid a fond farewell to Bodega Bay and hope we haven’t jinxed it by saying so.

To my faithful followers (both of you!), I don’t want to leave you in suspense any longer…yes, the Captain and I managed to get the transmission back into the engine room. It wasn’t easy manhandling 200 awkward pounds of cast iron up onto the boat, around the deck, through the pilothouse, down into the galley and back into the engine room, but we did it. We may never walk fully erect again, but we did it. Getting the transmission bolted to the diesel engine was another story. Imagine having to line up two objects perfectly so that they create a seal, only one part is suspended in mid-air and weighs 200 lbs. Oh, and the whole thing is down in a bilge that narrows and slopes down into the keel. And you can’t stand up. And it’s 180 degrees in there. Celsius. We had some difficulty. But luckily, Richard aka The Best Mechanic in Santa Rosa made the drive out and brought his special “moving heavy-ass things into awkward places” gadget. Within 45 minutes the transmission was bolted into place. Another hour later and everything was hooked up. Fifteen minutes of putting the engine through its paces, and we were all systems go! The only thing now standing between us and our next destination is a good weather window. A small craft advisory warning through Saturday morning set the day—Sunday. With a forecast of 10 mph winds, 3-5 foot seas and lots of sun, we’re slathering on the sunscreen and making a break for it.

But we are going to miss Bodega Bay. It’s a great place to break down (IF you have a good mechanic!) and had we not, we would have missed out meeting some awesome people. From Sean on the Melissa Jo, Shannon at The Dog House, and Reese at Spud Point Marina to Abalone Tony docked right next to us (still trying to figure out what he’s going to do with that bathtub) and our fellow bus rider from Sebastopol who asked if we would watch his groceries while he went to smoke a joint and would we like some frozen yogurt—to all of you and many others.. . it’s been fun. And if we don’t see you again, please don’t take it personally.
Pictured: Spud Point Marina in Bodega Bay, Sunset
Not Pictured: Good photography

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Day 10-17 of the 2nd Voyage: In which we don’t care if it’s a sequel, prequel or gritty reboot, we will NOT be having another Campbell River.

Bodega Bay was supposed to be our respite between the 30-hour ordeal from Brookings and the upcoming 30-hour slog to Morro Bay—roughly 12 hours to have a hot meal (on real plates and everything!), stretch our legs (on ground that doesn’t fall out from under you!), tend to our bumps and bruises (Aleve with a beer chaser!), and get some sleep in a non-bouncing bed (zzzzz!). The Captain and DC Richard changed out fuel filters to placate the engine, and I took Otter ashore to placate his bladder.
We set out early the next morning and headed over to the fuel dock where we topped off the tanks and pumped out the heads (a fortuitous action for which we’re now grateful). We then cast off from the dock, headed towards the channel…and could not get the forward gears to engage. (In lubber language, we couldn’t put the car in “drive”.) But we still had reverse so we backed back into the marina and onto a side tie pier. I swear that for a brief moment, we all considered just finishing the voyage backwards, but when the reverse gear gave out as well that idea was quickly scrapped. (In lubber language, we contemplated driving to San Diego in reverse till someone lobbed a socket wrench at our heads.) Time spent in the engine room and on the phone with our mechanic back in Everett pointed to a problem with the transmission. Not good. Now I could bore you with a lot of talk about torque and ratios and slip but it would sound like I know what I’m talking about (which is a stretch), so suffice it to say that without the transmission the propeller wouldn’t have a clue as to what to do and would likely be bullied into doing something it would regret by the engine.

Now if anything good came out of our 30-day exile in Campbell River, it’s that we’ve become a little wiser when it comes to “the process”. We vowed not to make the same mistakes—to come out of this sooner, saner, and sans bankruptcy. Here are a few lessons we learned:
Lesson 1: Find your first diesel mechanic and immediately fire him for being incompetent. We say this from experience. In an unfamiliar port, the first mechanic you find will probably come from a business card tacked up in the laundry room. You like him right away because he’s the only mechanic who answered his phone. He will be enthusiastic, seemingly knowledgeable, and inevitably way in over his head—to which he will never admit. Everything will take 2-4 weeks, including and especially returning your phone calls after the first consult. Be proactive and hire/fire this guy immediately so you can get on with your life.

Lesson 2: Find a competent diesel mechanic! How? By walking the docks. Talk to enough marina tenants and you’ll hear the same names mentioned over and over. Better yet, talk to the commercial guys. The fishermen here in Bodega Bay don’t have time to wait 2-4 weeks for parts and/or someone to show up. DC Richard got the name of a mechanic in Santa Rosa—top diesel man in the area. We took him the transmission on Sunday morning, got it back on Wednesday…as promised.

Lesson 3: If something foreign and/or proprietary is going to malfunction, make sure your mechanic owns a junkyard. We had to go through a manufacturer in England to replace the manifold—and we all know how that turned out. When we took the transmission to the mechanic in Santa Rosa, he informed us that should ours be beyond help, he had at least two “in the yard” that he could pull off of old engines. As he gestured toward countless heaps and mounds of engines and parts, the Captain and I exchanged glances. We were each thinking the same thing, “He probably has at least three Nauticat manifolds just lying around. Had we only known. Great. Now I can’t get the theme song to Sanford and Son out of my head. Elizabeth!”

Lesson 4: Save on labor costs by doing the heavy lifting yourself. In our case, the problem was inside the transmission itself—specifically a seal that had gone bad. The Captain and DC Richard unbolted and removed the transmission—all 180 lbs. of it—and through a system of pulleys and planks maneuvered it out of the engine room, through the galley and pilothouse, out on deck, attached it to a halyard and swung it out and over into a waiting dock cart. From there it was loaded into the trunk of a Toyota Corolla that would never comfortably go over a speed bump again. We figured we saved $800 in labor alone. (Of course, I will be helping the Captain get the damn thing back IN the engine room and reinstalled. Given the going rate of divorce attorneys, we may be losing money on this one.)

Lesson 5: Rent a car. This was the second thing we did (after hiring/firing the first diesel mechanic—which took all of two conversations in as many hours so well done, us). It necessitated a 40-minute bus ride to the nearest major town to reach the rental agency, but the freedom it has afforded us is priceless. Since procuring the car we have shuttled three to four adults, one large dog, and a sick transmission all over Sonoma County. We make at least one trip inland each day. That’s saying something, because Bodega Bay is far removed from civilization. The nearest town is Bodega (not to be confused with Bodega Bay), but there's not much to it—a country store, a church, a few old buildings. In other words, it’s a downshift from 55 mph to 25 mph for about three blocks (long enough to say, "my car doesn't even go that slow.") and then back up to highway speed. The next town is Sebastopol. Technically, Sebastopol is only 12 miles from Bodega Bay, but it takes a good 40 minutes to get there because the highway winds and curves and rounds and switches and goes around in circles and posts a different speed limit every couple of miles. One stretch will be 55 mph, then abruptly switch to 35, then back up to 55, then down to 25, then up to 50 (still haven’t figured that one out). And every turn of the road has its own “suggested” speed with some being more “suggestive” than others with flashing, blinking, “you’re gonna die you take this turn at 55” lights. We’ve been relying heavily on our phone GPS with the voice navigation. With the exception of a trip to Home Depot, it has worked pretty well but it does have one annoying feature…it displays the speed limit along with your current speed, and as soon as you go even one mile over the speed limit, “ding ding ding.” So on the stretch from Sebastopol to Bodega Bay where you’re literally changing your speed every 100 yards, the “ding ding dinging” can really get on your nerves. After being “ding ding dinged” for the umpteenth time, the Captain vowed to “punch that guy in the mouth” if he did it again so I quickly switched the navigator voice from male to female because he wouldn’t hit a woman.

Lesson 6: If you’re going to get stuck, choose someplace nice. Bodega Bay is a little town of about 1,000 people scattered along the edge of the harbor and up onto the hill above. It’s mostly a commercial fishing port, but there is a beach nearby that’s popular with surfers and several inns for “getting away” along with the requisite taffy stores, kite shops, and seafood restaurants of a seaside village. Its chief claim to fame is that it (along with Bodega, the aforementioned town not to be confused with Bodega Bay) was the setting for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. So quite a few of the shops and restaurants sport variations of the “birds” theme. The town was also the setting for the horror films, The Fog and Puppet Master 1, 2, 3, and 5 but they’re not as prevalent as The Birds. I’m not sure why. I heard the town got its nose out of joint when it wasn’t featured in Puppet Master 4; they made up in time for 5 but things got ugly when they got passed over for 6, 7, and 8. (I wouldn’t even mention 9.)

At any rate, this is where we currently are and I think we’re keeping a (fairly) positive outlook this time around. Tomorrow, we will be reinstalling the transmission and (hopefully) preparing to leave in the next few days. Bodega Bay is nice, but San Diego awaits and there’s still a long journey ahead.

Editor’s Note: We had to say goodbye to Delivery Captain Richard. With Raven temporarily out of commission, there was nothing more to “deliver”. It was quite a journey to get here and we’re thankful he was with us. He got us through the tough stuff—the scary stuff—and we learned enough to get the rest of the way on our own. We would welcome him back to the crew at any time!
Pictured: Looking out toward the channel markers; a typical evening in Bodega Bay. They filmed the movie, The Fog, here. Not sure why.
Pictured: The roof of Home Depot as seen from a dead-end street right before the GPS told us to "put the Corolla in four-wheel drive, smash through the fence A-Team style, and careen down the hillside till you hit the lumber section...literally. Then your destination will be on the right...and the left."

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Day 8-9 of the 2nd Voyage: In which we learn that yes, there is one born every minute. In this case there were four.

Brookings to Bodega Bay: The plan was to make the ten-hour journey to Eureka, stay the night, tackle the tricky passage around Cape Mendocino the next morning, and do an overnight passage to Bodego Bay. Shoulda. Woulda. Coulda.

The “strong breeze” that drove us into Brookings the night before had indeed settled down and we headed back out into the Pacific hopeful (but not holding our breath) that the conditions would hold. And they did…for about two hours. Then came the waves. And the cross waves. And the chop. And the wind. And the gusts. And once again we found ourselves stuck in that sickening refrain of 10 degrees to starboard, 10 degrees to port, 10 degrees to starboard, 10 degrees to port, BIG WAVE and 40 degrees to starboard, 25 degrees to port, over and over and over. None of us were seasick (thank you, Canada, for over-the-counter seasick patches) but there was nothing to be done about the extreme movements of the boat. It was hard enough to stand at the helm, but at least you could see the big waves coming and brace yourself for the inevitable tilt. Down below? DC Richard described it best when he said it was like being in a rock tumbler. We were jostled, thrown, and bounced. Every movement required a strong grip on the handholds and knees bent to absorb whichever way the boat was going to go. Easy tasks—like getting water out of the refrigerator—took planning, perseverance, and good timing. Difficult tasks—like pretty much everything else—were abandoned. At one point, the Deck Boss seriously contemplated putting on her survival suit, jumping overboard, and taking her chances out in the open sea but when a big wave lurched the boat forward and threw her into her bunk, she just opted to stay there for the duration.

About an hour outside of Eureka, we had to make a decision. DC Richard and the Captain had been pulling the weather maps, reading the forecasts and listening to the NOAA broadcasts, and all indicators pointed to better conditions straight ahead. In other words, our best weather option for rounding Cape Mendocino was right now. If we ducked into Eureka, we risked getting ourselves into the same or worse weather tomorrow. So we opted to keep going…another 20 hours to Bodego Bay. Doable IF the weather did indeed calm down upon rounding the cape. Which it did not. NOAA is officially on my shit list.

Suckered in or not by a bad forecast, it was too late to turn around so onward we slogged through the rough seas. It took a toll on the animals—they weren’t sick, but they were frightened and I started to question my judgement in putting them through this ordeal. Edgrrr was allowed into the Deck Boss’ cabin and he spent the hours hiding behind her pillows. Otter—for the first time ever—was allowed into the “people” bed and he and I got a couple hours of restless sleep as I waited for my turn at watch. At 3:00 am, I went up on deck to relieve the Captain and was informed that the autopilot was not keeping on course and that I’d be doing a lot of manual adjusting. Luckily, by 4:00 am the seas had finally—FINALLY—calmed and the night sky opened up to thousands of stars. A little while later I could make out the lighthouse off Port Arena and fixed on its revolving light for the next hour. I remember thinking that I’d probably have a good view of it when we passed and I should’ve brought my camera. And then it wasn’t there. I looked ahead, to the back, to the right, to the left. Nothing. We were suddenly and completely engulfed in fog. And for a brief moment, I was wishing for that gale again because at least I could see what was coming to kill me.

For the next two hours, DC Richard watched the radar and periodically got on the VHF to let other boats in the vicinity know we were there while the Captain kept us on course. I went down below and either passed out, blacked out, or died (take your pick, it’s all the same) sandwiched between a dog and a cat that were most likely planning their getaway should we ever make it back to shore.

And then as bad as it was, it suddenly became 180 degrees better. The seas were calm, the fog had lifted, and the sun came out along with the shorts, flip flops, and sunscreen. For the past 27 hours we were wondering what the hell we had gotten ourselves into; but the last three reminded us why we were willing to endure it.

And then in that last hour—just nearing Bodega Bay—the diesel engine revved down and back up, revved down and back up, revved down and quit. The Captain did get it started again, and we navigated the narrow channel to the harbor and into a berth at Spud Point Marina. In time, we would come to know Bodega Bay intimately.

Editor’s Note: DC Richard confessed to the Captain that the nasty conditions we experienced between Cape Flattery and Bodega Bay were about the worst he’s ever encountered in the ten years he’s been delivering boats along this route. So there…we may be suckers but we’re not total wimps.
We were too busy hanging on to the boat to take photos. Please enjoy this picture of a kitten instead.


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Day 7 of the 2nd Voyage: In which chaos turns to calm, bypasses cool and collected altogether, and goes right back to chaos again.

Coos Bay to Brookings: On their website, the Oregon Coast Visitors Association waxes poetic about Coos Bay with its “beautiful dunes and lovely beaches”. Apparently, someone forgot to tell the residents that there was a “lovely beach” nearby because half the town had dragged their lawn chairs, crab pots and boom boxes down to the marina and out on the docks. Editors’ Note: marinas aren’t exactly the cleanest bodies of water. In addition to the inevitable diesel and oil spillage, some people don’t exactly obey the “no pumping” rules (yes, it is what you think), making marinas veritable petri dishes of fonk. Crab may be bottom feeders, but it’s best to avoid the “bottom” feeders. At any rate, when we arrived in Charleston Boat Basin Marina the day before, we found ourselves having to dodge people, dogs, beach blankets, buckets of bait, coolers, and all manner of crab traps and fishing gear just to get Raven alongside the dock and tied off. We narrowly missed side swiping a small child with a fishing pole because he was spending too much time pointing at us and saying “big boat!” and not enough time listening to his mother scream at him to “move!”

Now either the crab weren’t there (it was Labor Day weekend—maybe they were at a “lovely beach”) or they just weren’t falling for the old “Friskies canned cat food inside a metal cage” ruse anymore, but when the pots came up empty, people looked around for a diversion—and we found ourselves the unlikely center of attention. So the rest of the afternoon saw a steady stream of people looking at the boat, asking questions, and gawking through the portholes. Thank goodness for dusk and no dock lights—by early evening, the last of the diehard crabbers had folded up their lawn chairs and left.

The following morning was peaceful. Apparently nobody crabs on Mondays—even if it’s a holiday. So in the early morning quiet we cast off—bound for Eureka. At least that was the plan. About five hours into the journey, we hit our first gale. Editor’s Note: According to the Beaufort Wind Scale, we actually ran into a “Strong Breeze” which is characterized by sustained winds of 22-27 knots (25-31 mph), 8-13 foot waves, and gusts strong enough to bounce the boat completely off course. They went with “Strong Breeze” to placate the novice sailor because “Poop Your Pants” would’ve instigated a mutiny.

We tried putting up the genoa (a sail up front, not the convention) to smooth out the ride but we may as well have hung out our laundry for all the good it did, and after an errant gust of wind caused it to jibe (slam to the other side with extreme force and foul language) one more time, it was brought down. After three hours of being jostled about in the wind and waves, we decided to forgo our plans to reach Eureka and tuck into Brookings instead. It would give us a chance to gather our wits about us, put the boat back together, and get a good night’s sleep. We would head out to Eureka in the morning when the weather forecast called for somewhat gentler conditions. Famous last words.
Pictured: Eight-foot wave directly in front of us aka "Strong Breeze"
Not Pictured: Pooping Pants

Friday, September 11, 2015

Days 5-6 of the 2nd Voyage: In which the sea gives us a respite and we are able to proclaim “Look! A whale!” and “Fish on!” but not necessarily in that order.

Westport to Coos Bay: We left Westport at 7:00 in the morning with a 30-hour journey ahead of us to Charleston Marina just outside of Coos Bay. It started out rough, but luckily the seasick patches had kicked in and we had done a better job of stowing, so unlike the previous days there was no fear of an errant coffee mug flinging itself towards you poltergeist-style while you’re holding a hand over your mouth contemplating which is closer…the head or the rail. In short, the overall mood was apprehensive but hopeful, and as conditions became more favorable we started feeling a lot more confident in this offshore thing.  A few hours in and about 40 miles offshore, the Captain brought out the rod and reel, set the lure, and placed the rod in position for trolling behind the stern. Twenty minutes later it was “Fish on!” and the Captain found himself going mano y mano with a monster albacore tuna—46 pounds at least! The big fish put up an heroic fight—at least five minutes—but when the Captain finally landed him on deck, it was obvious that the tuna had been doing a high-cardio workout because he had shrunk to a size 10 (or he may have been dry clean only—we couldn’t read the tag.) About 15 minutes later, DC Richard brought in another svelte 10 pounder. This one coughed up his lunch on the back deck…herring and kelp. No wonder they can’t keep the weight on—not enough carbs.

The rest of the day and night was fairly mellow, and the watches went like clockwork: The Captain had the 7s to 11s, I had the 11s to 3s, and DC Richard had the 3s to 7s. The day shifts are fairly easy, and I don’t mind the 11 pm to 3 am watch as I’m nocturnal in nature, but when cloud cover shrouds the moon and stars and all you see is black water with a few lights from fishing boats way off in the distance, it gets a little dull. Okay, it gets a lot dull. I wiled away the time watching the little triangle that was our boat ply the electronic waters of the GPS system, correcting the autopilot as needed to keep us on course, and trying to get the theme to Ghostbusters out of my head. Soon I was having philosophical discussions with nobody in particular. The topic? Utilizing the Socratic Method, explain how one cannot be “afraid of no ghosts” and how it influences “who you gonna call?”

When my watch was over at 3:00 in the morning, I crawled into bed and was awoken a few hours later to “Whale!” I scrambled up on deck and the Captain is pointing off into the distance, “There! 11:00 o’clock!” I see nothing. “You’re looking at 1:00 o’clock. 11:00 o’clock!” I still see nothing. I go back to bed. Twenty minutes later, “Whale!” Bolt up top. Scan the horizon furiously. See nothing. Back to bed. “Whale! Right by the boat!” I’m on deck within a minute and there I see it…a smooth disturbance on top of the water where a whale had come up, checked out the boat, and then promptly left. The Captain had just had a once in a lifetime encounter with a humpback whale. I got to see the boil of water where the whale was.  

But at last—after three months of cruising—I did finally see a humpback whale. Far out on the horizon, I saw a spray of water, an arching back, a dive back down, then the fluted tail rising up and out of the sea—that famous tail whose likeness as a charm would go on to class up pookah-shell necklaces all over the world. I must confess though, it was a little anticlimactic...probably due to the distance. I think the boil of water was more interesting—because sometimes the imagination creates a better whale.
They say a picture is worth a thousand are two. Cliff's Notes are available.
Pictured: Washington

Pictured: Oregon

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Days 3-4 of the 2nd Voyage: In which we find ourselves on Hell’s superhighway desperately looking for an off ramp.

Port Angeles to Westport: The day started out great! DC Richard was behind the wheel to take us out of the slip so the Captain helped me with the lines, then (even though it’s my job) he stowed the fenders and lines on the starboard side while I buttoned down the port side. When we were finished, I went around to starboard and noticed something.

FM: Hey! You forgot to bring up and stow the step!
Captain: I did?
FM: Yes, you did. But I’ll let it slide this time—we’ll chalk it up to a rookie mistake. (Best. Feeling. Ever.)

The journey from Port Angeles to Neah Bay was smooth as silk—gliding through the water at 8-9 knots, sun warming our faces, a brief glimpse in the distance of a spray of water and the back of a large animal breaking the surface (I’m not counting it as an official whale sighting. Until I see a photo ID, I’m not discounting the fact that it could have been the mother of all sea lions…or Big Foot)—then we turned the corner. Literally. Right past Neah Bay is Cape Flattery. If you look at a map of Washington, Cape Flattery is that piece of crumpled landmass in the upper left-hand corner of the state. It is the western-most tip of the continental United States—once you pass it, you’re officially in the Pacific Ocean. It’s as rough as one would expect when a powerful body of water (the Strait of Juan de Fuca) meets another (the Pacific Ocean), and it’s a given that the boat would bounce around a bit in the resulting commotion. It was exhilarating…for about ten minutes. Then not so much. We were hoping that the farther we got offshore, the more likely that the sea would settle down. But the sea was not settling down. If anything, it seemed to get bigger—and we soon found ourselves pounding through ten-foot waves. The horizon would disappear and in its place, a wall of water. And we’d ride up and over the wave and fall into a trough where the wave would circle back around and hit us hard to port slamming us down 30-40 degrees and then bounce us right back and over to starboard. The violent jolts sent unsecured items flying through the boat as stowed items clashed and clanged within their compartments. It was an unsettling racket punctuated by cursing and cries of pain as we’d be thrown against the pitching walls down below. It was, as they call it in the boating community, “uncomfortable”. And it would be “uncomfortable” for close to 26 hours.

The Deck Boss was the first to succumb. Even though we had all applied seasickness patches that morning before we left, the rough stuff had come on too soon for them to take effect. The Deck Boss went below to her cabin and did not emerge for 12 hours. DC Richard checked on her often (as a man of the sea for over 40 years, these were gentle conditions for him.) At one point when I asked how she was doing he simply said, “She’s in bed with the covers pulled up over her ears. She’s either coping or she’s dead.”

As for myself, I was pleased at how well I seemed to be handling the rough conditions. I was unsettled, but not sick. The same could be said for the Captain. And then the engine decelerated, necessitating a check of the engine room. I went with the Captain to help move things out of the way when it hit me…a strong whiff of hot diesel fumes…and it was all over. I went back up on deck with my head in a fog, walked calmly to the side rail, and retched violently and repeatedly into the dark rolling sea. The retching only happened the one time, but the nausea and lethargy lasted over twelve hours. For twelve hours I couldn’t move except by sheer force of will. I would stand up and immediately fall back down, and it would take ten minutes before I had the energy to try again. The only thing that kept the nausea at bay was cold air so I spent several hours on deck, bundled up against the chill, hanging on as the boat rocked forcefully from side-to-side, and drifting in and out of troubled sleep. Obviously I was not able to do my four-hour watches. DC Richard recommended I go below and lie down on the settee with my head next to the companionway so I could still feel the air but be out of the cold. The Captain didn’t fare much better, but at least he was able to do a couple of short watches. My only contribution was to stay out of the way. In the middle of the night, the decision was made to change course and head into Westport for a respite—a mere six hours away with three of those being at a low idle so as to reach the bar at the right tide change. The low idle was worse in a way. For instead of violently swinging, now we were violently bobbing (it was like going from the rollercoaster directly into the bouncy house after having consumed two bowls of chili and a fried Twinkie with a milkshake chaser).

But at long last, Westport was in sight and a spot in the marina was waiting for us—a commercial marina, filled with boats that had just come in from fishing, offloading all their fishy-smelling fish, gutting and filleting their fishy-smelling fish right on the dock by our boat, and all the people smelling like bait and smoking like chimneys. It was too overwhelming. I crawled into my bed and slept for 10 hours.
Pictured: Waiting out the "uncomfortableness"
Not Pictured: Fishy-smelling dreams

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Days 1-2 of the 2nd Voyage: In which Mother Nature sends us off with a bitch slap, then tries to take it back (sort of).

First off, we’d like to welcome Delivery Captain Richard Bard to S/V Raven! As this is my and the Deck Boss’ first foray into the “big water” (i.e. well off the coast), we decided that it would be prudent to have someone on board besides the Captain who knew what they were doing as well as someone with thorough knowledge of the coastal route between Everett and San Diego as there are tricky waters to navigate. After a full career in commercial fishing as an owner/operator, Delivery Captain (DC) Richard then spent the last 15 years delivering boats—both sail and power—all over the world. If anyone can get us to San Diego, he can (although after he sees what skills the Deck Boss and I don’t possess, he may opt to just put us on a bus and meet us down there with the boat).

Everett to Port Ludlow: We had delayed the trip by two days on account of Hurricane Ignacio. Even though it was heading towards Hawaii, it was whipping up a weather frenzy all along the west coast culminating in incredibly high winds in the Pacific Northwest. Forecasters had said the winds would abate by August 31st, so first thing Monday morning we eased out of our slip one last time and headed over to the fuel dock—where DC Richard would get his first glimpse into what he had just gotten himself into. Now when we dock, my job is to hang off of a step about half way down the hull mid-boat and let the Captain know where we are in relation to the dock, then jump down on the dock with two lines, secure the spring line, run like a rabbit to the stern and tie that off, then sprint like a springer spaniel to the bow to catch a line from the Deck Boss and get that tied off. So basically my job is to stop the boat before it either a) hits something, b) floats too far off the dock, or c) both. The Captain came at the fuel dock in a perfect trajectory but somehow it went down like this…

FM: Okay, you’re three feet to dock at mid-beam. You’re two feet. You’re one foot. I’m on the dock. I’m…OH SHIT!

Captain: Did we hit?

FM: Hmm? What?

Captain: Did we hit?

FM: Hit? Nah. Glancing blow at most. Just “kissed” the dock really, from here to here. Okay, so we smeared some lipstick. It’ll buff out. (I say as I’m furiously buffing.)

Captain: Is the stern secure?

FM: It’s secure. (I say as I run back and furiously secure it.) Unless you’re not done coming to a stop in which case it will probably need to be secured again.

Deck Boss: Hey! Do you want this bow line or not?

FM: I didn’t tie that off already? Ha! Guess I need the line to tie it off, huh? Yeah, why don’t you go ahead and toss that line.

Captain (in his head): Good Lord, she’s a one woman three stooges.

Finally the tanks were filled and off we went! And immediately realized that NOAA used a poor choice of words when they said that “winds will be diminishing” because we actually thought the winds would be (let me get my thesaurus) “lessoning”, “weakening”, or “waning”. The more accurate phrase should have been, “Hey, boaters! Remember when the winds were gusting to 50 day before yesterday and we advised you not to go out? They’ll only be gusting to 45 today so get out there and have fun!”

Thankfully, it was a short trip to Port Ludlow so we only had to endure four hours of 30-35 knot winds, gusts up to 45, waves knocking the boat all around, and water coming up over the bow and straight into the face. I felt like a human salt lick. Oh, and it rained. Did I mention the rain? Even after we made it to Port Ludlow, the winds didn’t diminish (see what I did there, NOAA?) till early the next day so all night we got to listen to the not-so-soothing “Slap! Slap! Slap!” of the waves hitting the underside of the stern (i.e. right under our bed) and the “Drip! Drip! Drip!” of water from hatches that suddenly decided they needed new seals. In short, we got no sleep and had to make constant trips to the head.

Port Ludlow to Port Angeles: If Mother Nature was telling us to “not let the door hit our butts on the way out” the day before, then today she was saying, “Admit it. You’re going to miss this place just a little bit after you’re gone.” And she’d be a little right. Calm seas, light winds, and enough sun peeking through the clouds to keep the day on the warm side of chilly made for a gorgeous September day. Had there been any wind to actually sail, it would have bordered on almost perfect. But the fact of the matter is that after 25 years of living in the Pacific Northwest, it was time to move on to sunnier, more consistent climes—to places where “intermittent drizzle for the next ten months” is rarely part of the forecast and where flip-flops can be worn year-round. In other words, it was time to retire the perpetually damp hoodie.

So go sell crazy elsewhere, Mother Nature. Much like geese and the elusive orca, we’re heading south for the winter—only we’re not planning on coming back. Not to be so easily dismissed, Mother Nature was about to punch us full in the face.

Pictured: Two Gumbies, Dammit!
(Deck Boss and First Mate practice getting into their survival suits in case Mother Nature punches the boat out from under them.)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Eve of the 2nd Voyage: In which we finally make the “big left turn”.

In the sailing world, making the “big left turn” signifies that you are consciously leaving your old life behind, are heading far out to sea to ascertain just how big the world really is, and aren’t planning on coming back for a really long time. In the non-sailing world, it’s known variously as “midlife crisis”, “the ultimate 180”, or just “the big stupid.”

Those that know us can go back to doing whatever it is they were doing because they’ve already heard this story a million times before, but our dream of the “big left turn” started in March of 2013. The Captain and I were on the deck of a cruise ship staring down at the boats at anchor in the harbor outside Charlotte Amalie in St Thomas. These weren’t fat cats in their megayachts. These were everyday people living on the hook, grilling on the back deck, hanging out their laundry to dry in the sea breeze. Had it been March of 2003 when we were in full-on workaholic mode—building our business, renovating an historic house, and accumulating copious amounts of stuff—our observation would have been along the lines of, “Look at them. Lazy sons of bitches. What are they contributing to society?” But after 10 years of relentless grind, the sentiment became, “Look at them. Lazy sons of bitches. They’ve got it dialed in.” And that’s when it dawned on us. We could be lazy sons of bitches, too. As the Captain put it, “We’ve spent the past 25 years chasing our tails—the last 15 working our asses off to start/grow/sustain a business—and for what?” A rhetorical question really, but the answer is a big house filled with lots of stuff…and stress. Lots of stress. The kind that keeps you up at night worrying about how you’re going to be able to finance your new business line, renovate your bathroom, and accumulate more stuff before your next nervous breakdown. And then one night, as you’re lying awake waiting for the Ambien to kick in, you think to yourself, “Why am I killing myself for a house of stuff? What has this stuff ever done for me? Did Otter turn off the refrigerator light before he let the houseplant out? Do turtles wear pants?” Editor’s Note: Ambien should not to be taken with alcohol.

Within a week of returning from that cruise, the Captain and I decided that a change was in order. We would do whatever we could—whatever was required—to ensure that the second halves of our lives would be a bit more interesting than the first. We would pare our lives down to the essentials; we would leave everything else behind; and we would have adventures. And we would take a dog, a cat, and an old lady along for the ride. Because why be stupid on your own when you can drag family into it?

We found and purchased Raven in May of 2013. And so it is that the last two years and three months have been spent preparing for this day. Two years to bring Raven back to life; to sell businesses, houses, and cars; and to dispense of 25+ years of stuff. (Goodwill loved us. They just parked the semi in front of our house and stationed a full-time attendant. His name was Brian and he took his coffee with sugar.) In June and July of 2015, we went on our “shakedown cruise” (the highs and lows of which may be relived in blog posts of the first voyage). During the month of August, we completed our repairs in Everett. On August 26th I was apparently the only person drinking the white wine at a five-person get-together—one whole bottle and a gin chaser later and I spent the entire night and following morning retching into the toilet and feeling generally sh*tty, thus completing my tutorial on “here’s a taste of what it will probably be like when you’re seasick but still need to crawl out of bed and do stuff”. On August 28th the Captain celebrated a birthday, so we got a lesson in “it doesn’t matter how big the cake is it must all be eaten tonight because we need room in the refrigerator”. On August 29th (the day we were originally planning to leave) extremely high winds kept us tied to the dock, but sustained winds in the 25-30 mph range with gusts of up to 50 moved the boat so much that we got to practice “cooking on a stove that’s moving like a bucking bronco while simultaneously running around catching stuff that needed to be better tied down”. On August 30th we spent our last day in the marina contemplating the next day’s journey, sizing up the impact of so great a life change, and doing what so many have done before us when faced with a journey into the unknown…we did laundry. After all, if something was to happen to us out there, we wouldn’t want to wash up on shore wearing dirty underwear.

The crew of S/V Raven would like to send a big "thank you" to Phil and Chris at Everett Yacht Service and Tom and Jeff of Tom’s Electric. Without them, we’d still be in Everett. So if this journey goes horribly wrong, it’s all their fault.