Kids, Don't Try This At Home!

Hi, and welcome to the adventures of "Triton", a 45' Robertson & Caine Leopard catamaran we purchased in July of 2007, in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. We sailed her back to Emeryville, California, located in the lovely San Francisco East Bay area, worked a few more years, then set off cruising in the fall of 2014. This journal is the story of our ongoing adventure, the folks we've met along the way, and the hardships and joys of that journey. Please read along and let us know what you think!

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here to start from the very beginning of the entire adventure. You can navigate from post to post simply by clicking the NEXT or PREVIOUS phrases at the top or bottom of each page. To find out what we've been fixing, changing, upgrading, click on the Triton Boat Work link under Related Websites. If you want to subscribe to this blog (and get emails letting you know whenever we update it) just click on the icon that says "subscribe to: posts (atom)" at the bottom of each page.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

San Diego: the only thing not at war here is the weather.



Sorry if I'm yelling, but for someone who has spent the last year driving miles on dirt roads looking for a shop, store or roadside hovel with the right part in stock, this place is a boater's wet dream come true. One of the biggest problems we've had with Triton has been the leaking plumbing, which uses a 15mm "quick connect" fitting. I've looked everywhere in Central America for it, but most folks had either never seen it before or didn't carry it.

I walked up to the very first boat chandler I found and showed them the part. "You ever seen anything even remotely like this?" I asked the salesman. He smiled and said "Seen it? I've got a box of them right here!" and pointed to a wall of bins of various valves, tee connectors and other fittings, all exactly tailored for the 15mm line. I almost cried. Right next door was a Yanmar dealership; I was able to get everything I needed for the engines. A block away was one of the largest West Marines in the country. It was heaven. I've been able to get parts to fix most everything that had been broken or missing since I first bought the boat.

The next day I went to a museum exhibit then out for dinner with Holly E, a good friend who lives in these parts. We toured around town, saw a great movie called "Juno" (very, very funny and definitely worth seeing) and had a sushi dinner that I didn't have to catch first! It was pure luxury. As a token of my appreciation, I gave her a pair of fuchsia-colored furry gloves. Truth be told, I wasn't quite sure how I'd gotten them, and they just didn't go with my foulies- I'm a winter and those are definitely a spring color.

Monday afternoon I went over to the big building in town to speak with the Customs folks. The Vessel Entrance & Clearance Specialist woman I spoke with (I'm not making that up, that really was her title) assured me there wasn't any problem, so I was officially a real live American again. Now I can sail into any port in America I want without first spending a day making of fool of myself in Spanish. I still retain my constitutional rights to do so in English, which I've honed over the last year, but at least I'll know what the port officials are saying to me when they make those snarky comments.

With all the paperwork accomplished, and many of the boat projects done, I thought it would be nice to take Holly out on the bay. We went out for a day sail the next day, and it was amazing. Once you navigate around the various aircraft carriers, freighters, mid-sized warships, speed boats, three-masted schooners, tugs, restored wooden ketches, trawlers, restricted military operations areas, kayaks and canoes that jostle about the channel, sailing the bay is a cake walk. The winds were light but constant. We set the sails, aimed for a distant island, and sat back.

Now I realize why S.D. sailors are considered such light weights by the folks further north. It's so easy to sail here. The same trip out of S.F, after only an hour, would have involved three climate changes, dense fog and being run over by a Panamax freighter. If you tried this stunt out of Seattle, it would also have included a gale, icebergs and sub-zero temperatures. As it was, I think the only time I needed to do anything more strenuous than looking around was when I refilled our drinks. San Diego is definitely a boat friendly place.

After an hour or so we were quite a ways off shore, the winds were dying and we decided to turn around and head back. Just as we tacked, some military type folks pulled up in a speed boat and wanted to know if we were definitely leaving. We assured them we were, but asked why they wanted to know. "Oh, in a few minutes some folks will be jumping out of an airplane and want to land right here in the water." Long pause while we stared at each other. "Is there anything wrong with the plane?" I asked. "No, they just need the practice" was their offhand response, "they do this all the time." Yup, we are definitely in San Diego. If you'd wanted to parachute into the San Francisco bay you'd need authorization from about thirty different government agencies first, and probably be protested by Green Peace, Save The Whales, and the Bay Area Muck and Seagrass Preservation Society.

Anyway, it was a beautiful, perfect day and a great way to relax after so much mandatory motoring. I'd almost forgotten what it was like to use the sails for something as self-indulgent as just sailing. Holly seemed to enjoy herself as well, and we pulled into the harbor as the sun was setting. There were fighter jets flying in tight formation, a helicopter rescue drill going on off to starboard, and the local mine sweeping operations had just begun. What a harbor! Even the local Trader Joe's has pictures of aircraft carriers on the walls! I think if you smashed Berkeley and San Diego together, the resulting matter/anti-matter explosion might destroy the universe.

When I returned to the dock, there were two wonderful messages waiting for me on my cell phone. The first was from John, who said he'd had such a great time that he wanted to come back and do the rest of the sail with me. The second was from AnnMarie. Her dream job for the last year (the reason she hadn't been along for the entire trip) had just turned into a nightmare. She worked as the Comptroller for a patio furniture import company. About three months ago, the offshore parent company had dismissed the entire senior level management in America, a move that surprised everyone, especially AnnMarie, as the folks they let go were one of the best reasons she liked working there. At the time they had assured her they would be making her a new job offer quite soon, and in writing, but first they needed to finish the audit. She had been working seventy hour weeks on this project, for several months, and it was finally coming to an end when they gave her their offer letter.

While it had much of what she wanted, it contained some clauses she just couldn't accept. When she asked about changing it she was told it was a "take it or leave it" proposition. At that point she was receiving several calls a week asking her if she were interested in any outside contracts, and since it was made clear that amending her offer wasn't an option, so she quit. Honestly, I wish she had done this months ago. She is going to fly down and join us for the rest of the sail up. But won't be able to meet us until Long Beach, as she needed a few extra days to make sure she left the books up to date, run the various payrolls, general ledgers and all that other geek stuff that makes companies work.

John arrived a few days later. There were a few last minute items we needed, so on the way back from the airport we pulled into West Marine. As I was wondering around the store I heard "Rob! What are you doing here?". I looked up and saw Ron, my manager when I worked in the Oakland store. He had transfered down here. We chatted for a bit and then I invited him and his wife over for dinner, along with another WM employee who thought she might be interested in sailing north, a dock neighbor and some local sailors we'd met along the way. We made a big seafood & pasta dinner, chatted about work, told sea tales and even talked politics. What surprised me was that before everyone left they insisted on doing the dishes, cleaning the galley and making sure everything was ready for our departure tomorrow. It was a very lovely gesture and a great way to end my stay in San Diego.

Early the next morning we fueled up, topped off the water tanks and set sail for parts north. We pulled into Long Beach after a short day trip. It was an odd harbor, mostly very small craft, with old wooden docks, but the rents were cheap and we only needed to be there long enough for AnnMarie to arrive. There was a very large mall, Whole Foods, Safeway, and yet another West Marine, right along side the piers. We are definitely back in the states.

Well, it won't be long now before we are back in Emeryville, we need only work our way around Point Conception, and we're home free. The weather systems that gave us such great southerly winds have all passed through, so the high pressure system that normally lives off the coast has returned, bringing with it northwesterly winds, which will be on our nose for the rest of the way. But, AnnMarie will be along, which always brightens the day.

I hope this post finds your prospects as joyful and spirits as high!




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