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.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Late Term Waddler...


Imagine you're pregnant.   Really pregnant.  You were due to deliver about three weeks ago, but the baby refuses to come out.  You are way past the beautiful glow that pregnant women enjoy.  Your belly is so large you can no longer get out of a chair without the help of a hydraulic lift.  You feel exhausted. You look terrible.  Your feet hurt all the time.  Emotionally, you are a wreck;  you're worried things might not go well, you can't sleep, and your friends (who mean well) continually ask, "Haven't you had that baby yet?"

Better late term than never
Getting a boat ready for long-distance sailing and then actually leaving is a lot like that, only it costs more (even if you factor in college tuition), it takes way more than nine months, you don't get as many showers, and you never, ever glow.

But, like any gravid woman, your boat takes on more weight than you thought possible as every locker swells with gear you are convinced you must have to survive.  Plus, you don't sleep well, you look terrible, and your feet hurt all the time.

Like the actual birth date, it is damn near impossible to accurately predict when you will be able to set sail.  That is because it is next to impossible to know how long any specific boat project will take-- if you want it to be done correctly, safely, and maintainably, that is.  That last bit has been the catch for us.   We've encountered a number of situations where taking a short-cut would have saved us time, but meant that if we ever needed to fix it again, we'd be screwed.

Tasks that should have taken only an hour took a day, workmen tell you it will be a week, but it turns out to be a month; projects go sideways, unexpected problems arise, and you are continually left having to decide whether you should leave with something that isn't quite ready.  To extend the analogy, it's like having to consciously decide which bits of the fetus to grow, and how much effort you are willing to put towards each limb or organ.  Try to imagine someone saying "You know, you could have this baby now if you don't mind it only have seven fingers."

And to make matters even more infuriating, you will get absolutely no sympathy from your non-cruising friends about any of this.  They think that sailing off into the sunset is nothing more complicated than throwing a few things into a bag and grabbing a flight to the islands.   In fact, non-cruisers have about as much insight into "getting off the dock" as long-distance runners might have about swimming the English channel.

We've taken to responding to our land-locked friends (when they oh-so-casually comment that we haven't left yet) to please imagine what it would be like to pack everything they own into a fifteen-year-old Chrysler van, first making sure that there aren't any mechanical problems, and then driving across Europe for the next ten or twenty years.  Oh, and they will also need to bring all the tools and parts they might need should anything break down.

But we're not bitter.   Especially if folks don't seem to understand that sailing "on a schedule" is exactly the worst thing to do.  We were faced with just that problem last month, when we'd reached our "WE WILL ABSOLUTELY LEAVE BY THIS DATE" cut-off.  We had signed up for the Baha-Haha cruiser's rally (and were really looking forward to it), which meant we needed to be in San Diego by Oct 26th.  We had crew (our good friends Mike & Melissa) meeting us there (they'd already booked their flights), and would all sail down with us to Cabo San Lucas.

At the time we'd made plans, we had been told that the stainless-steel arch we hired a welder to construct would be done "in a couple of days".   That turned out to be more than four weeks, the last few days of which found me hovering over the workman, goading him on. That, in itself, wouldn't have been such a big deal, but the work was being done in Alameda, which meant that we were stuck in boat yard a half hour away from our own dock and office, which impacted all the other projects we needed to get accomplished.

So, when the arch was finally completed and we could return to our home port, we found ourselves in the unenviable position of having to strap a number of half-finished projects onto the deck, finish moving out of both our office and our storage areas, cram fifteen years worth of stuff on board, and shove off...all in about three days time.

And, for some crazy reason, we attempted to do just that.  At the end of it, we were exhausted, nothing was organized, and most importantly, we'd discovered several issues with the boat that left us thinking we just weren't ready to set sail.  At least not safely.  We realized that we were breaking the cardinal rule of sailing-- never let a deadline force your departure.

So, we postponed our departure date, begged forgiveness from Mike & Melissa (who graciously did not keel-haul us) and revised our plans.   Instead, we decided it made more sense to finish the boat projects here (where parts, equipment, and workspace are readily available) and leave when we'd completed the crucial items left on our check list (and we were well-rested and ready), regardless of how long that took.

That means we'll be here for at least a month or two.  We still expect to get down to Mexico eventually, and are working full-time on getting everything ship-shape in the meantime.  On the bright side, we expect to have a few preparatory shake-down cruises, and invite folks along.   We'll be sending out notices on the cruising list, so keep an eye out for something from the Tritons.

Cheers for now,

Robb & AnnMarie


Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Tritons Walk The Plank...


Ahoy, Ahoy,

Triton's Holiday Decorations
It has been quite a while since we've posted here, but until recently there hadn't been much in the way of cruising developments to speak of.  When we last left our heroes, they were safely ensconced in the quiet comforts of the San Francisco Bay, AnnMarie had started her own tax and business services company and Robb had gone to work for a Silicon Valley start-up.  Since then we've contented ourselves with day-sails on the bay with friends, weekend trips up the delta, crazy antics with the ten thousand maniacs in our tribe, and insanely over-decorating our boat during the holidays.

And how quickly five years speeds by!  During that time we've made quite a number of improvements to Triton in preparation for casting off sometime in what we'd hoped would be the fall of 2013, heading first to Mexico, and then for parts beyond.  We blinked and suddenly the summer was ending and our time to leave upon us.  

Of course, that didn't stop us from trying to cram what would have been a year of planning and activity (for any two normal adults) into three months of insanity, including attending one last TTITD in August (during which Robb proposed to AnnMarie), and also getting married (and throwing an enormous bon voyage party) in October.

Now the marriage bit may seem a bit surprising, given that we have lived on a boat together for the last 18 years in non-monogamous and/or polyfidelous relationships of some sort, but seeing how we were headed off to places where "domestic partnership" doesn't necessarily convey the same rights, we thought it might be convenient, if not down-right prudent, to be husband and wife.

But cruisers are notoriously efficient people when it comes to maximizing their fun, so we decided to combine our wedding with our bon voyage party.  What better reason to see all our friends together at one time, especially when the weather was so nice.  The problem was that we had only three weeks to pull it all off, and we had already spent our entire cruising budget on boat parts.

So many good friends!
That was the moment we realized just how amazing, talented, and resourceful our friends are.  Over twenty folks pitched in and put together an incredible party.  Our friends organized everything from the food & drink to handling the invitations, to organizing and running the event.  Even more astonishingly, they created a truly wonderful wedding for two undeserving wharf-rats.   That is quite a feat in modern times, and we will always be indebted to everyone who helped.  We are definitely not worthy.
Just some of the amazing people
who made it all possible

The ceremony took place on Angel Island (pretty much the center of the San Francisco Bay), but with a nautical theme.  We encouraged folks to come dressed as whatever sea monster, privateer, ship-wrecked voyager, or famous sailor took their fancy, and they did!

Here Comes The Bride!
It was a gorgeous day, we had over one hundred friends show up, many of them in costume.  Picture every character from "Pirates of the Caribbean", "Gilligan's Island", "Mutiny on the Bounty", and "Creatures from the Black Lagoon" attending a family reunion and you'll start to get an idea.  I can only imagine what the unsuspecting tourists riding the Angel Island Ferry thought that day.

The wedding started with AnnMarie playing "Here Comes the Bride" on saxophone.  Her sister Judi was the Mermaid of Honor, and accompanied her on cymbals.

The ceremony itself was performed by our dear friends Erik & Qat- they sailed with us from the BVIs to Trinidad back when we'd first bought our boat.  We'd performed their wedding ceremony a few years back, so turn about is fair play.

Our vows were a bit different than most.  Rather than anger the sea gods (who get annoyed by anyone who does what they say they are going to do) we included a few that we knew we would probably break.

And just before we were pronounced "husband & wife" (or "captain & admiral"), a gang plank was produced, and in true pirate fashion, we were made to walk to the end of it, kiss each other, and jump off, symbolizing what we aren't sure, but it seemed a fitting way to end the ceremony and begin our new adventures together.

In retrospect, the event went off with only a smidgeon of delays, mostly because we thought that AnnMarie could bake all the wedding cakes herself.  As a general rule of thumb, one should not expect the bride to do pastry work on the day of her wedding.
The Blushing Bride

Besides that, it was a fabulous day.  Both of us had a great time, and as best we can tell, so did everyone else.   We sailed back to Emery Cove around sunset, jumped in our car and drove over to San Francisco where Michael (the best man) and Kathleen hosted an after-party.  There was an amazing sculpture of the sea god Triton, done entirely in chocolate, by our good friend (and extremely talented sculptor) John.

But the best part was that we got to see so many good friends.   We've learned that the true measure of any individual is the company they keep, and by that standard we count ourselves very fortunate indeed.  We have incredible friends, and it was a delight to spend such a glorious day with them.

About to walk the plank
Our honeymoon consisted of snuggling on Triton that night, and then spending the next two days not doing any boat work at all.   I'm sure a few weeks in Hawaii would have been just as nice, but we have never been happier.

But now we need to get ready for the Baja-Haha cruiser's rally.   We have only a few weeks to go, and are way behind schedule.  We're planning on meeting Mike & Melissa in San Diego, then sailing down to Cabo San Lucas, stopping only at Mac Bay and Turtle Bay along the way.

Wish us luck!

Robb & AnnMarie

PS.  The "Litany" mentioned in the wedding vows video was originally passed down to us from Cory & Leslie, who got it from another happy couple.  It is a powerful incantation that, when uttered (usually at the point in the fight when you realize that the other person may be right), magically restores marital harmony.   Reciting it allows both parties to save face, and will end almost any intractable argument immediately.  It goes like this:

  • I'm sorry
  • You were right.
  • I was wrong.
  • I should have listened to you.
  • I'll try harder next time.
  • I love you.
We firmly believe that this small amount of prose is almost single-handedly responsible for our long and happy relationship.   We would encourage everyone to memorize it, and say it often.  You don't actually need to mean it when you say it, but it helps.