Sunday, October 29, 2006


Adios! Bye! See Ya Later!

The crew has arrived! Here's Tony getting picked up at the airport on Saturday. He wore his "nice" clothes on the airplane - last time we'll see those for a couple of weeks! It's shorts and teeshirts from now on. Our sons, Ryan and Brett arrived later in the day, so our crew is now complete.

We've had 2 full days of last minute errands; sold the van, and did the last batch of laundry. I washed all the produce in a weak bleach solution to avoid mold/mildew which prolongs the storage life. We will be at sea for 12 days with no opportunity to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables. The first place we will stop is only a small, very isolated fishing village, and the second place is not populated.

I went to a great class sponsored by Downwind Marine on how to use a pressure cooker while cruising on your sailboat. The pressure cooker uses a lot less fuel (propane) because it cooks foods in about 75% LESS time than a regular stove top pan. This also keeps the galley (kitchen) cooler, and because the lid is locked, disasterous spills are prevented while your boat rocks and rolls over the sea swells. I've got our dinner & breakfast menu planned - lunch is a "grab a sandwich or leftovers" affair every day.

Dinners: Green Chili Chicken breasts, Spaghetti, Jambalaya, Pollo Asada (grilled marinated chicken), Grilled Fish (we'd better catch some!!!), Baby Back Ribs w/baked beans, Fish Tacos, Beef Pot Roast, Shredded Beef Tacos, London Broil Steak, more fish if we can catch it.
Breakfasts: Biscuits & gravy, pancakes, french toast, eggs, breakfast burritos & sandwiches, assorted fruits.

I'll need to bake bread for the last part of the trip - no biggie - but may be tricky while we are under way. My sons love to cook, so I'll have plenty of help in the galley.

I came across these pictures of the coolest industrial surplus store I've ever been in. It was just so dang...dirty, overstocked, dark, rusty...really fun! Jones takes me to the nicest places! I was dazzled by the giant nuts and bolts, massive quantities of grinding wheels, and stuff that I don't even know what it was. There's a handprinted sign on the wall says "Don't climb up the bins". Oh, yeah, like I was going to do that.

Well, it's time to say goodbye. I'll post again as soon as I can get a wireless internet signal.

Friday, October 27, 2006


Got Fuel?

Got up early and motored over to the fuel dock to fill up for the big adventure. It's a long ride up (1 hour 15 minutes) the San Diego bay, but it was a sunny morning with no wind and was more like a sight-seeing tour than a chore. We passed many US Navy warships and because we had an ex-navy guy, Bruce, with us we got many stories and details about what we were looking at.

This was our first time at the fuel dock as the good ship Niki Wiki holds massive quantities of diesel. How much? Well, the specs say 185 gallons, but as we've discovered with so many other things on this boat this number was suspect. We knew we had exactly 50 gallons in the tank after the fuel-polishing process, so how much should we put in? The fuel hoses don't have automatic shutoffs like the ones for cars. Clever boys at the fuel dock instead put this little catch tank onto the vent hole. When diesel starts to burp up the vent hole that means the tank is full.

End result? We added 123.8 gallons - total cost? $375 bucks!! That should last us a good, long time as we are a SAILBOAT and will be using the free wind for most of our journey.

The diesel in our tanks was very old - had sat in the boat for years which is not a good thing with diesel. Over time, black carbon particles form, which clog up the fuel filters and make the engine stop. No fun. The solution is to have the fuel "polished" - filtered.

Okay - good idea. But, the fuel tank on our boat did not have access to allow the tanks to be manually scrubbed which is the only way to really get rid of all the crud. So, we had the marine polishing guy cut a hole in the top of the tank, put in a new fuel inspection plate and new fuel "pickups". He removed all of the diesel, filtered it, measured it, (exactly 50 gallons), scrubbed the tank, and put it back in. Now we really know what we have, and it is good.

We motored back to the marina, munched on Cheetos (the breakfast of champions) , drank coffee, and I knit. But when we were just a few hundred yards from the marina entrance, the dreaded Santa Ana Winds suddenly started up at about 30 miles per hour!!! We knew they were forcasted, but they came in way too early. Yikes!!! It's tough enough to get into our tiny slip with this big boat in the dead still - with a wind coming from our side (beam) it would be nearly impossible.

Jones motored slowly towards our slip...he adjusted for the winds and aimed the boat towards the slip. But as we turned, the nasty winds pushed against the tall sides of the Niki Wiki and suddenly we were sailing sideways - moving quickly into other boats and the far end of the floating docks!!! Folks came running from all over the marina - many helpful hands. I think I yelled something like "We're in deep do-do!". We came to a stop, resting against the dock - sideways. The wind howled. Just a few minutes (literally!) earlier and we would have been fine.

Anyway, with the help of many hands pushing, pulling dock lines, and the engine revving, we swung her around, pivoting on a piling, into the slip. Thats the LAST TIME we will have to get into this slip as Monday we are leaving!!!! I feel like I want to wear a paper bag over my head when I walk around the dock - so embarrassed. But, I've talked to some of the really seasoned cruisers here and they say that they've all done had lousy dockings - and expect to have more in the future. It's just plain tough to do.

Well- gotta go pack up the pantry with all of the shelf-stable food that I've bought for the trip.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Final Week Frantics - Day 1

Check out this sailing ship hull that was sitting in the back of the boat yard. We think it is an America's Cup racing sailboat Stars & Stripes from a few years ago. The whole hull is painted with whales, dolphins, fish, and turtles and signed by that fantastic marine artist, Wyland.

Pretty cool huh? I wonder what THAT cost? Hey, I've got a son who is an artist, yeah, maybe he'll do something for our boat....
Anyway, busy day today!!! Only 7 more shopping/chore days until we sail off for the grand adventure.

So what did we do today?

Break out the beer and vodka screwdrivers. Tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Harry Wearing his new vest

Here's Harry wearing his new "Harry's Golf Vest" in his usual pose of giving his dog, K2, a doggie cookie.

He wore it all day around the house, and then out to dinner at the Elephant Bar restaurant. Isn't it great having such a cooperative live model to strut your knitting around town?

The golf season starts in a few weeks down in the southern California desert area (Palm Desert, Palm Springs, etc.) Hope this vest keeps you warm on your winter golf outings Harry!!

Notes: Knit Picks "Main Line" Pima cotton & merino wool with abalone shell buttons.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Finished the Vest!

Okay - it's done, and with hours to spare. I just finished darning in the yarn ends and sewing on the buttons for this vest that I designed and knit for my dad. I'm driving up to Palm Desert tomorrow to deliver it - gab - and pick up my sock yarn that he bought for me in Germany.

Jones said today that he was glad that we had so much yarn on the boat (I turned and stared at him with wonder...), "because we can use it to soak up any oil spills."

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Latvian Mittens Galore

check out this link to see the first half of the 4,500 mittens being knit this summer/fall for the NATO Summit in Riga, Latvia this coming November

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Life in a boatyard - Up Close & Personal

We were "launched" this afternoon and have safely arrived back at the marina! It's been a long two weeks living aboard the boat during repairs in the boatyard - something most people will never experience. So, what was it like? Let's see...

Waiting There's a lot of waiting. First, there was the wait to get an appointment for repairs as the facility was so busy. Then, we waited a couple of days after arriving at their dock to actually get hauled out. Here's some pictures of us waiting to get hauled - first tied to one floating dock, then we moved to another dock to allow mega-yachts to get launched after their repairs.

The repair of our rudder was long and complicated. It required many different processes, some of which required curing or drying time before the next process could occur. Each process was performed by a skilled craftsman - skilled in that particular process. We needed to wait as they scheduled the craftsmen.

Trains Yes, trains. What? You didn't expect freight trains to run through the yard every night? Well, they run through Knight & Carver here in National City near San Diego. The facility next to the boatyard is where they unload automobiles that arrive on huge freighters. The cars are loaded onto train cars and shipped out to the dealers. The trains not only ran through the yard, but also they went forward and backward banging into the train cars to hook up a long train. Each time they changed directions every train car smashed into the next car - BANG! BANG! BANG! Coupling up the cars is known in the train world as "humping".
This is a picture taken from our boat (that's our boat in the lower left corner) of a locomotive. This was also one of the few times that they were out in the daytime. These trains were usually nocturnal. We came to dread the sound of a distant train whistle.

Climbing With the boat up on blocks, we had to climb up a rickety 14ft ladder to get on and off the boat. Because the ladder wasn't tall enough, they put a couple of wood blocks on top for additional steps. The folks that worked in the boatyard were very pleasant and really tried their best to make us comfortable. It's just that a boatyard isn't a resort hotel. Period. You gotta deal with that. They were really going out of their way to even allow us to stay on board - many yards forbid it.
And here's a photo of the ladder that we climbed from the floating docks to the yard while we were tied up waiting to be hauled into the boatyard. The dock moved constantly, the ladder rode up and down in the bracket, and we never fell off! Dang, we're good!

Personal Cleanliness We couldn't run any water because it would simply drain under the boat - and other folks don't want to work in our gray water. So, we had to shower in the boatyard's restroom. The only shower was in the women's restroom and showers were permitted during non-working hours. Plus, we had to wash any dishes we dirtied in this restroom. Mostly we ate out and brought back leftovers - the local mexican food restaurants are very generous in their portions! Anyway, the shower was plenty big enough for two people so Jones and I figured out that we could be efficient and shower and do dishes at the same time! Naked dishwashing! Whoooo hoooo! Sorry, no photos.

The Neighborhood Meet some of our neighbors. First, we have the Serengeti. This is Johnny Carson's yacht, which is now being refurbished by his widow for eventual sale. Look closely...those are adult men in the white overalls on the ground. This is truly a "mega-yacht"(137ft). Just think of all the interesting people who have been aboard this boat!!! Next we have the Xilonen which was in for some upgrades($2 million worth of upgrades!). That little toy boat parked behind it is our Niki Wiki, kinda humbling...

And then, we have me sitting on the deck, reading my newest Patternworks catalog and Jones out on a stroll along the train tracks leaving the yard.

That's all for now - I'll post more details and photos about the repair itself later.

Now for Ha-Ha News: We have a full crew! Both of our sons, Ryan & Brett have made the commitment, and Tony M. - a friend of Jones' will round out our crew of 5. They all will be flying in to San Diego on October 28th to get ready to sail with 170 other boats on Monday, October 30th. Tony and Ryan will be leaving us a couple of days after we arrive in Cabo San Lucas around November 10th or so. Brett, will stay aboard for the crossing to Matzatlan which is great because we could use a 3rd crewman for this long sea trip (oh, and we love him too).

I've bought Mexican fishing licenses for all of us plus the boat and dinghy (a requirement or they could confiscate the boat). To do this I had to go to the Mexican fishing office here in San Diego, fill out some forms, and buy a money order for the total amount. Not really much of a hassle. Also, we have received our ship's radio and operator licenses for the boat radios.

We have chipped away on our long list of things to do and buy for the big trip. I'm planning the menu for the HaHa days and stocking up on non-perishables. Mexico has really changed in the last few years and most foods are readily available in the major cities so there's no need to buy in massive quantities for times past the HaHa. Heck - there's a WalMart in Puerta Vallarta and a Costco in Cabo San Lucas.

Knitting Of course, I've been knitting away these past 2 weeks. Mostly working on Harry's Golf Vest - it's about 80% done now, just have the upper back to work and then the cardigan banding. I've been working on beaded stitch markers again for my exchange partners and also as gifts for the gals who knit pink scarves to raise funds for breast cancer / Komen foundation.

Knit on...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


9 Days and counting...

Here we are in all our glorious dryness. The rudder repair has involved not only mechanics, but engineers, painters, fiberglass folks, and everyone must be an artist. There is not an off-the-shelf solution, it is all one-of-a-kind research and development effort.

We will be on the hard for a few more days. This latest adventure has been exciting, fun, noisy, dirty, noisy, dirty, dirty, noisy. Of course I'm knitting an off-white vest, so I'm constantly having to wash my hands. Oh, did I mention that we can't run water?

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