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!

You can click
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.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Home Coming: The Triton Crew Returns


There is probably no more welcome view a sailor can hope to see than the entrance of their home port after a long journey. In our case, it was the Golden Gate Bridge, spanning the passage into the San Francisco Bay. Today, we finally got to see just that as we crossed between Marin and San Francisco on our way home to Emeryville, California.

After four years of investigation, too much analysis, planning, and preparation (and spending most of my life's savings), after more than a year of bashing into waves, running with the wind, avoiding slavers, pirates, privateers and other government officials, overcoming the hardships of the sea, fixing just about everything at least once, managing crew mates and logistics that would have tried the patience of Drake himself, and worst of all, having to return back to our day jobs, we finally sailed Triton to her new home port.  Well, motored a lot, actually.   This is a picture of her just a few months afterwards, nestled at dock in Emery Cove Yacht Harbor.  What you don't see is a picture of the exhausted crew, or the depleted bank accounts.

We left Half Moon Bay on March 8th, 2008. Everyone who had been crew on Triton were meeting us in our parking lot in Emery Cove Yacht Harbor before 10am. We had rented two large vans from Enterprise Car Rentals in Berkeley, to ferry everyone down to Half Moon Bay. Par for the course, and in keeping with numerous other vendor experiences over the last two years, when we arrived to pick up the vehicles they weren't ready yet.
So, we waited while they dicked around. What pissed me off, though, was the attitude of the manager of the facility, which was indignant and annoyed that we were complaining because they'd made promises they couldn't keep, instead of apologizing and offering us coffee while we waited. We walked across the street and bought our own. It will be a long time before I use them again, but it was still better to be ignored, mistreated and abused in English by American incompetents then anywhere else in the world. Home Sweet Home. It isn't half as bad when it's the home team letting you down.

Eventually we were given our rental vans, and picked up the crowd milling about our parking lot. They were a motley crew if ever there was one. None the less it was great having everyone all in one place, and the ride down was replete with stories of our adventures and laughs about our trials and tribulations. We arrived at Triton in Half Moon Bay, loaded everyone on, waited for a few stragglers, and headed up the coast. On board were almost everyone who had ever sailed with us, but some folks just couldn't make it, and they were greatly missed.

It was a cold, windy day and a bit foggy and overcast as we motored almost directly into the wind. We had hoped to do a little sailing, but as usual the Weather Gods were determined to make us pay for every inch of progress we made. A few folks made offerings to the sea (mostly to the sea, some of it we had to wash off the coamings), but this didn't seem to appease the Gods and the wind and waves picked up as we approached the headlands of San Francisco.

The waves were about four feet, short and square, which meant we bashed a bit more than was fun, and the motion was a bit uncomfortable for everyone. Well, at least that is what others have told me. I was so absorbed in making sure everything was functioning properly on the boat, checking that we didn't lose anyone overboard and looking out for the dreaded Coast Guard, that I never actually noticed how green so many folks were getting. At one point, someone was heard to say "Please move, you are blocking my horizon."

It is funny though, because you really do get used to the motion of a boat over time. I've no doubt that the same journey two years ago would have had me green. This time it barely registered that we were moving. In fact, I felt worse once back on land. None the less, the conditions were not great, and the cold and wind didn't help anyone's mood. We motored along, and fought our way north until we could see the entrance to San Francisco Bay.

Along the way I couldn't help remembering all the great times and crazy antics I'd watched. Mota hanging off the bow in a rainbow colored muumuu, misplacing Thorny in Panama city, Robert having sex with turtles, just to name a few, but there were stories galore for each of them, and I could not have made the trip without them all. I am so grateful for their help, their encouragement and their support. I've no doubt I made numerous mistakes along the way, but it was a special part of my life that I will always look back on with great fondness. I'm glad to know these strange and weird people, foolish enough though they are to jump on a boat and sail out over the edge of the world with a madman for a captain, but most of all I am proud to call them my friends! They did it for the adventure, without pay, usually without clothes, and they were all wonderful to be with.Take a good look at these folks. It is cold, windy, wet and miserable out, most of them feel seasick at this moment, yet they are all smiling and happy to be alive. These are the kind of folks you want to take with you on your college road trip, or hiking across the Himilayas, or into outer space. They are fabulous, fun, special and they won't let you down when the going gets rough. They are the kind of people that move the world. There are a few missing from the photo [Jeff, Holly, Thorny, Rain, Robert] who couldn't make it this day, but they were all there in spirit. They will all always have a standing welcome on Triton, and I hope they will crew with us again once we embark on our next journey into parts foreign and unknown.

As we traveled under the Golden Gate Bridge, and entered San Francisco Bay proper, the wind and waves subsided, and everyone's stomaches settled down as well. AnnMarie made several trays of lasagna, and we had a Thanks Giving Dinner that couldn't be beat. We pulled up to the dock around 5:30PM, about a half hour sooner (but about five months later) than we had planned. Our journey was over, we were back home and land lubbers again.

It was a bittersweet moment. I was relieved be home, to have sailed over four thousand miles with everyone aboard safe and sound, proud that we lived up to our desires to never sail into a weather if we didn't have to, and most of all, happy to have completed something that most folks would never even try.

That may sound like a great achievement, but the effort was only possible because I had such great help. The crew that sailed from BVI to Trinidad [AnnMarie, Erik & Qat], then from Trinidad to Panama [Jeff, Mota, Jen, Mike & MaryAnn (with AnnMarie joining us in Aruba)] then the glorious time we [Jeff, Mota & I] spent in the San Blas Islands, then going through the Panama Canal [AnnMarie, Jeff, Thorny, Eric & Qat], from Panama to Costa Rica [Jeff, Thorny & Holly], from Costa Rica to Nicaragua [Ian, Robinson, Jacob & Roxanne], from Nicaragua to Mexico [Rain, Robert & Robinson] and most especially, from Mexico to San Francisco [Mike, John & AnnMarie], who took on the very toughest part of the trip, as well as the folks [Kiko, Eric, Don] who tried hard to come and through no fault of their own couldn't make it, not to mention the incredible help from all the wonderful cruisers we met along the way. We were blessed with great good fortune in the form of wonderful friends we hope to see again soon.

Most importantly, I could never have attempted this without the amazing support of my partner in crime, my better third, the admiral of the fleet, SHE WHO MUST BE OBEYED: AnnMarie. Her efforts during this journey were never adequately praised, and she got the fuzzy end of the lollipop considering the legs she sailed all turned out to be the most difficult. We beat the whole way from BVI to Trinidad, we were in a gale (with a broken auto pilot) the entire time from Aruba to Panama (so her watches meant steering by hand in lousy weather), and endured the bashing from San Diego to San Francisco. She suffered through all of that without complaint, and worked hard to do everything she could to make everyone aboard happy, comfortable and well fed. When she wasn't with us, she worked 80hours a week at home (she started and owns her own accounting agency) keeping us solvent. She is truly the hero of this adventure.

To everyone else who made this dream come true, and especially to our devoted readers, I say thank you for your dear support, your overwhelming encouragement, and we love you all.

Wishing you all fair winds and following seas...

Robb Triton


Monday, March 3, 2008

Half Moon Bay: Waiting for Godot


If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans.

We arrived in Half Moon Bay last month, ostensibly just for a few days, in order to regroup, rest up, and clean up. The day after we arrived, Sunday, was beautiful: warm and sunny. We were half tempted just to motor the rest of the way home, but we were tired and wanted to invite everyone aboard for the final run home.

Half Moon Bay is a well protected harbor in a south facing bay that lies underneath the headlands that make up the bottom of Silicon Valley. It is only a few miles from San Francisco, and a great place to sail if you are looking for a quick weekend trip from inside the bay. The area has a large sea wall the encloses the main harbor, and then a second sea wall with a marina tucked inside it. It is a working marina, with numerous fishing vessels moored here, and crabbers selling their catch along the pier. The docks are old, and a bit ragged, many of the boats are in even worse condition, but I love the area, and the folks were friendly and helpful.

Our initial plan was to wait until the following weekend, organize everyone who had ever served as crew aboard Triton (without managing to get kicked off), then sail north the last twenty miles, with all on deck as we went under the Golden Gate Bridge and into San Francisco Harbor. Our good friend and long time crewmate Jeff H. (see "eggerator" in the index for a funny story about him) had made plans to leave the country (for an entire month) the Friday before our trip, but we'd convinced him that he really needed to be with us, so he changed his plans! It looked like most everyone was going to be able to make it.

But the Gods found out first. That week, a storm brewed up out of the Pacific. It was predicted to contain hurricane strength winds, seas of biblical proportions, and a rain of frogs. We watched the weather reports carefully all week, hoping the jet stream might change direction, but it continued to amplify the low pressure system headed our way. On top of that, a cold front was swinging up along the bottom of it, carrying along rain clouds, gusty wind and a thunderbolt or two. Very ominous.

In the meantime, we cleaned the boat. Very much like her crew, Triton's hygiene had been neglected for several months as we'd pushed our way north, and she needed a good bath and a wash behind her ears. In fact, there were parts of her (like Robinson's bathroom) that hadn't been properly cleaned the entire time he was aboard. It was disgusting and the smell emanating from the head could knock a buzzard off a shit wagon. We took turns attacking it with various chemicals while holding our breath. We resolved never to let a future crew member aboard unless they left a cleaning deposit in advance.

Unfortunately, the weather in Half Moon Bay that week was horrible. Foggy, damp, with a cold, drizzling rain most days. We tore the boat apart and pressure washed every inch, scouring away sea grime from surfaces that hadn't seen the light of day since Panama, and battling bacterial that, if left undeterred, would soon discover fire, invent the wheel and elect their own form of government. We spent most of our time in rain slickers, on our hands and knees, deep inside bilges, cupboards, closets and cubby holes, pushing ourselves pretty hard after such a long sea voyage, but still hadn't finished as Friday approached.

In the midst of all this toiling, our good friends Ted, Suzanne and Blair stopped by to say hi. They were in the area, and we were thrilled to see them again, and delighted for any excuse to go out to dinner somewhere warm. We dined at a local fish restaurant called"Sam's Chowder House", located just a block south of the marina on Route 1. The food was fantastic and we highly recommend it. There are several other restuarants in the area, but they pale in comparison. We especially didn't like the Half Moon Bay Brewery just down the road from the marina.

What worried us most was that weather system off the coast was still picking up steam. A low pressure system in the upper atmosphere had linked up with the surface depression, reinforcing and strengthening it. The predictions were becoming quite dire, and many folks were shocked that we were still considering moving the boat under those conditions. We talked about it for a while and decided that only reason we were sailing was to meet a self-imposed schedule, and that although our boat could easily handle the conditions, there was no compelling reason to put our friends and crew in harm's way needlessly, so we decided to postpone the trip until the following weekend, although we felt really bad for the inconvenience we'd caused everyone.

In the meantime a really ominous storm brewed up along the coast and slammed into the marina. It was odd watching thousands of seagulls nestle into the sea wall and crowd in along the waterfront. I've never seen so many birds together in one place since "The Birds". They were even a bit quiet and still, like in the movie. Scary, in a Alfred Hitchcock kind of way.

So, given that the storm was going to dump on us, and we couldn't get much else done, we packed up the car and drove home to spend some time on our houseboat "Hurrikane" in Emeryville, mostly to sit quietly in front of a space heater without having to do anything. We drove home in the rain, took off our clothes and flopped into bed. And got sick. Really sick. The kind of sick where you welcome the grave. I'm not sure what kind of bug it was, but it was virulent. Perhaps the Spanish Flu, the one that killed 18 million people last century, was trying to make a come back? Maybe it was something we came in contact with when we cleaned Robinson's head. Whatever it was, both AnnMarie and I were death-warmed-over for almost ten days. We were laid out in bed next to each other barely able to move, unconscious most of the time; coughing, sneezing and hacking up various internal organs whenever we were awake. It was not fun.

We are only now beginning to feel better, and still aren't fully recovered yet. Last night we went for a ride back down to the boat to check on her and stopped for a lovely meal at the restaurant next to the harbor. We've rescheduled with the crew for this weekend, although not everyone can make it this time. We're disappointed it didn't work out better, but, in keeping with the traditions of the sea, you pay for every inch you sail against the wind.

In the meantime, we will be moving the boat on Saturday, March 8th, and will be crossing under the Golden Gate some time around 4pm. We'll post our position on (look for KD6TAJ) as we approach the gate. If you have a spare minute, please wave as we go by. We are also planning a boat warming party on the following Sunday, March 9th, between 10am and 2pm. If you are in the area, please drop by and say hi.

Cheers for now,