Underway at Last
Underway at Last.

T he three years of preparation flew by, deadline after deadline passed and money flowed out of the kitty like a waterfall. They say sailboat racing is like standing in the shower tearing up $1000 dollar Jen and Steve in the Galleybills; well sailboat cruising is no different. That is if you want all the luxuries like engines, refrigeration, radar, HF radios, computers, email, autopilots, watermakers and all the other gizmos and gadgets that us technophiles find irresistible. We've read all the "cruising on a budget" books, such as those by Lynn and Larry Pardey and other books by the purists who say keep it simple. They have some great tips, but we just couldn't get used to the idea of a bucket instead of a proper "head", and no email to keep in touch with friends, no watermaker and, God forbid, - no ice for the vodka, so we kept it complicated instead.

Originally we were supposed to leave in October of 1998, but that deadline melted away as Steve went through the sale of his computer business, and the period of training the new staff. The next December deadline evaporated as Christmas and the new rigging project engulfed us. The first of January was leaked out as the final, final, final deadline, in an effort to convince ourselves we would actually leave. So our great friends on C-Dock in Oceanside threw us a fabulous bon-voyage party hoping we would go soon. Everyone was so generous, the boat went down several inches on it's lines with all the gifts of wine and other essential items. By mid February we were still answering the question "when are you leaving????" Only now, we were giving a generic answer, "when the boats ready!"

So it was on the 25th of Feb. that we cast of the dock lines and headed out of Oceanside harbor. We had cried wolf so many times that only a few friends were there - the real die hards who still believed we would set sail.

Sojourner and us leaving Oceanside

The start of the trip went well, and has been a mixture of the highest highs and lowest lows. We actually went north first to the Channel Islands to test everything out. As expected there was a boat load of modifications that needed to be done, as well as repairs. For example, in mid channel the engine controls broke as we were practicing man- overboard drills. Upside down in a lazarette in rolly seas was enough to bring on the queezies. Then in Catalina it was time to re-torque the cylinder head bolts after the 20 hours since engine re-build. Steve managed to shear off an oil feed pipe when replacing the cam shaft, only to spend the whole day making a new one from bits on the boat.

Then on the way from Pyramid Cove in San Clemente to San Diego we had 9 hours of fog so thick we could hardly see the bow from the cockpit. We were dodging ships most of the night. The most nerve racking part was when an aircraft carrier (we confirmed this later in San Diego) came within 1.6 miles on the radar, and we could watch aircraft taking off and landing on the screen. Somehow we don't think they could hear our $6 air horn from West Marine!

After ten days at the South Western Yacht Club and World-famous San Diego Yacht Club, making repairs & modifications, it really was time to put the USA behind us and head for tacos and cerveza.

We'll continue the story from Ensenada, Mexico.

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