Jan 28 2010

Final Preparations

Tag: navigation,preparationmattholmes @ 7:15 am

We intend to be ready to leave by February 7th, and then picking the first weather window after that would be acceptable for sallying forth into the ocean.  This is more or less the worse time of year to be sailing off the coast of California, so we intend to take a very careful look at the weather before we rush out to get bashed by unforgivingly cold wind and waves.

I have started experimenting with doing a “video journal”, uploaded to our youtube channel, which you can view by clicking on the video thumbnail in the sidebar (or by visiting the “videos” page).  I am not yet comfortable in front of the camera, and I’m still trying to remember to look directly at the camera lens while filming myself instead of at the screen (which results in me looking like my eyes are malformed in some awkward way).  But I think it is a valuable tool for me to capture some more candid and vulnerable moments that will make the trip more real for people who read this blog, and I will simply learn to deal with the constant feeling of looking like an idiot in the footage.

Today was the first day of sunshine in about three weeks, the second day it hasn’t rained.  The past week has been an exercise in tolerating the supremely unpleasant feeling of cold water dripping down my neck while stuffed upside down in the tightest spots of our cockpit lockers, blinding trying to snake wiring in the darkness for a dozen different electronic things mounted on the stern.

One of those things was our AIS transponder, which is a system that transmits our position, speed, and heading out into the void, and receives the same information from other ships that are doing the same.  When I plug the usb cable from the AIS into this very computer, all of those ships show up on my navigation software, complete with names, sizes, and sometimes even a picture (I uploaded our picture to the website).  Although the system is not dependent on the internet, various stations on shore pick up the AIS signals, and a couple of internet sites collect that information and plop it on a map.  Which means that when we happen to be close enough to a shore station, we will show up on the internet site in real-time.  You can spy on us at this very moment (if I happen to have the AIS turned on, that is.  It takes a little bit of power, so don’t count on it.)  The AIS provides a significant measure of safety against collisions with container ships–glad to have it.

My icebox somehow sprung a leak, which I discovered after spending two rainy days building elaborate storage shelves for said icebox.  It was a low moment–the icebox is my baby, my pride, I built the system from scratch, and it hurt me deep for it to be malfunctioning right before we are supposed to start our trip, broken in a way I did not comprehend, and without the proper tools aboard to fix it after we depart.  After a day of bumming about I kicked it into a higher gear, started staying up working on shit till midnight each night, contacted Kollman on his refrigeration forum for some advice, and developed a workable plan.  The icebox is back to working now (a video should be available for viewing on youtube in an hour or so), even though it probably still has a small leak, but I have obtained the tools I need so that I can fix it wherever we are, and that confidence has buoyed my spirits.  I feel somewhat ashamed to have reached a point where such a thing as a fridge could have such an impact on me, but it was just one more thing, a punch in the gut, when I didn’t need it.  A fridge is nothing in the scheme of things, but the symbolism couldn’t be ignored.  But I’m over it now.

Our good friends Pete and Ray are going to sail south with us for a month or so.  They are experienced sailors, and it brings me comfort to have them aboard for this first part of the trip.  Pete arrived yesterday, with my new chainplates in tow (his backpack was 80lbs–as weighed in at the airport), and has already finished fixing the windlass and started in on another project–which for boat work is light-speed fast.

Even though the shrouds aren’t even connected to the boat at the moment and the mast would fall over (literally) if we tried to leave the marina right now, I feel pretty optimistic that we will be ready to leave next week.  That’s saying a lot.  We’ve worked hard to be able to do it and we deserve it.  However, deserving it means nothing when you’re talking about a boat, and honestly I will be astonished if we aren’t delayed for some unforeseen reason, and that will be fine too.  But we are almost ready.

Jan 18 2010

A view that makes you lose your dinner

Tag: humorousJonathon Haradon @ 6:23 am

I’m afraid to imagine what Matt will do with other sail scraps when he runs out of underwear in the South Pacific….

Jan 16 2010

Dinner With a View

Tag: Uncategorizedmattholmes @ 2:52 am

Jan 12 2010

unromantic update

Tag: boat work,preparationmattholmes @ 9:33 am

I don’t have the energy or passion for a well-written update this time, but I know there are at least a few people out there who are curious about us.  Full disclosure: I just finished reading an idiotic book and drinking a cup of jonny walker following a full 10 hours of stupid fiberglassing so my mood is shitty.

-We moved out of our studio apartment over the holidays, while four friends visited and slept in our living room.  Our guests were perfectly fine with the furniture and bed disappearing from underneath them (no kidding).  Jon and Rishona came out to see the boat, work a bit, and meet us, because they are planning on joining us in the south pacific this summer, if all goes according to plan.  Gary and Anna came out to california because they are awesome.

-We moved onto the boat, though half of the boat is intermittently unlivable (and I mean 1/4″ fiberglass dust snow all over everything toxic air to breathe unlivable).  Our belongings get shuttled around on an hourly basis like all those tiles in that hand held game where there is a grid of jumbled number tiles that you have to move around to put them in order but there’s only one blank space to use so you have to move all of the other tiles that you don’t want out of the way to move the number you want into place and it turns out that that process is difficult enough that they invented a game around it.  Fully 10% of my waking hours are occupied by moving the same stuff back and forth and around and around.

-As reported in the previous post, the knees of the boat came unbonded from the hull, a situation which justifies me giving a big middle finger to the fucking assholes who built this supposedly indestructible boat.  The bomber reputation of the Valiant 40 is bullshit.  Glassing the knees to the hull is second in importance only to actually having a hull in the first place, and the peons that glassed my knees to my hull did a shitty ass job of it and now I’m busting my ass to fix something that should have been included in the first 2,000 dollars of the much higher price of this boat.

-We were planning on leaving January 14th, and our good friends Pete and Ray bought plane tickets to fly out and join us (the only reason for the very specific jan 14th date) and help us sail down the coast for a month.   Since it’s down to just Karen and I and a busted boat, I am incredibly grateful to have their experienced assistance to do the first (wet cold worst) month.  Well, now that the boat is sucking a big fat one, I mailed Pete one of the chainplates that needs to be replaced and he’s making a new set for me.  How’s that for a friend, right?  I screw up their plans and as an apology he gets a hunk of metal in the mail to duplicate 8 times over for me and they don’t even give me a hard time for it?  Damn good friends, that’s for sure.  (I even called him this morning and greeted him with a “so I have this windlass, and the threads on the shaft are crossed . . .”)   I owe them big.   So now Pete and Ray changed their flights and we’re planning on leaving February 7th now.  All I have to do is rebuild the boat before then, no biggie.

-Karen is being much more productively outspoken about our current situation in her booming blog, so please visit her site to get cheered up after reading this post.

I’m actually not all that bummed out as I sound, I’m just super exhausted and it just started raining and all I can think of is how many places it is undoubtedly leaking into the boat this very moment.  A-we need to catch a break and B-we need to get the hell of out of this place, prontospeed.