Jan 28

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.

7 Responses to “Final Preparations”

  1. Jason ECkman says:

    Safe Travels Amigos/as! We will be looking forward to spying on you throughout your journey.

  2. Livia says:

    I came across your and Karen’s site this week and have binge-read this entire blog. It was riveting to read the past few years in a few hours up to your actual take off.

    We are cutting the docklines in June but we are heading North for a year before we head South to Mexico. I look forward to keeping track of your adventure.

    We looked at Valiants before buying because of the kick arse reputation you mentioned. What a terrible thing to find out about the knees!

  3. Roger Wood says:

    Hey Matt, some advice….Wait for the next Cold Front (no matter how strong) and ride it south with your Jib…….You’ll thank me for that advice…whether you listen to it or not……Roger Wood (your parents friend)…………..

  4. Carol Anne says:

    Cosmic coincidences … my husband’s and my first boat was named Syzygy, because of the way things lined up (both literally and figuratively) when we bought it. Now, we’re going to be watching you, because our retirement plan is to sell the house in Albuquerque and use the proceeds to buy a boat upon which we can go cruising.

    Meanwhile, I note that you spent at least a brief spell in Los Alamos, where I grew up. Interesting.

  5. mattholmes says:

    thanks for all the comments! Roger I will consider that advice carefully–I was already hoping to catch at least the tail of a low so we would have some wind. If we head straight out into a low, though, not only will we be facing big wind and swell, but the wind will be on the nose. . . we’ll see!

  6. mattholmes says:

    oh, and anyone interested in buying a boat, just wait around for two years or so and then you can buy this one . . .

  7. Tony Moussis says:

    Good morning mate , without taking time out for sea trails, i wouldn’t even think about departing.Top that off with 2 inexperienced sailors ,your wife in particulate during winter season is asking for trouble. Yes you might get lucky and every thing is honky dory ,nice weather ,all systems work great etc etc, never happens that way.Even brand new boats systems fail and with out sea trails you do not know what you have. Yes tired to the dock every thing may work great. Once the dock-lines are cast off she is whole new animal .Finish repairs and prep as planned ,then take the time off to relax and REFLECT and wait out the weather until there is no possibility of brewing caught in a big blow.Your wife will thank you.The extra week at dock will save you months of frustration, once you leave repairs become a whole new ball game.How many over-nighters have you done on Synergy..if the answer is none,then you could be setting yourself and wife up for disaster. One week minimal 2 to 3 weeks preferred. Be wise buddy you are responsible for the boat and her life besides your own.I an not trying to scare or dissuade just be a wise man.man over board ,have you actually practiced with her?. Again the hard work is all but done ,now its time for wisdom. good luck to you.

    Tonmy Moussis. Hoiston Texas.

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