We have been watching the weather for the last several days looking for our weather window to cross Lake Michigan.  We are crossing from Manitowoc, Wisconsin to Pentwater, Michigan. We have been consulting PredictWind and NOAA offshore forecasts on a daily basis.  We have had a north wind for several days, which some may think is a good wind for crossing with the wind on our beam, however a north wind brings cold air and waves that build across a large portion of the lake.  Monday the winds shifted out of the east, which would not be good, as we would be heading right into the wind.  Starting Tuesday June 16th the winds shift out of the south with high pressure, think sunshine and warmth – relatively speaking.  So, Tuesday is our day.  Winds are predicted to be 10 to 15 out of the south.  Should be a good passage!

The day before we leave, we spent our time readying ourselves and the boat.  Filled the diesel tank, water tank, gas for the dinghy, filled propane for the galley/grill and pumped out the head.  Got some last minute groceries, cleaned up the boat, stowed items so things aren’t flying around.  That doesn’t sound like a lot but it took all day.  We went to bed early since we are planning to get up at 4:30 am.  Our plan is to leave the dock at 5 am.  The passage from Manitowoc to Pentwater is about 55 nautical miles and should take us around 10 – 12 hours or so.  Keep in mind that we go about 5 nautical miles per hour. 

Good Morning!!  We are up bright and early.  The sunrise is beautiful. 

Mark is getting us all unplugged from the dock so we can be off.

The marina is still and quiet this morning.  The mood of the marina matches our mood.  We aren’t really nervous or excited, just quietly preparing to leave the dock. Perhaps we aren’t awake yet.  It seems like just another day leaving the dock and we do this all the time.  I guess we have avoided thinking too much about leaving so that we don’t let our nerves take over. 

The morning is still and beautiful as we slip out of the marina while others sleep, it’s 5:10 am. 

I should say that the one thing that I was worried about during the passage is the weather, not the wind mind you, but the temperatures.  I don’t like to be cold.  The temperature when we left was 50 degrees.  I am wearing tank top, long underwear top and bottoms, fleece on top and fleece lined pants on bottom, my heavy off shore jacket, neck gaiter, hat, gloves, wool socks and my sailing boots.  Mark is bundled up as well, so if he is cold, I am frozen.  The forecasted high today will be 65. 

6:10 am – We motored for the first hour to get a bit away from land and hoping the wind will pick up as we get further from shore.  We put the sails up about an hour into our journey with the winds filling in from the southeast up to 8.2 knots.  Quickly as we left the marina, the flies descended on the boat.  These are small flies that really don’t fly away when they land, so now they are littered all over the boat. 

Even though the sails are up and we have some wind, we are still motoring as well so that we can maintain 5 knots of speed.  If we don’t maintain 5 knots, it will take forever to get to Pentwater. 

About 7 miles from the shore of Wisconsin, we found the fishing fleet.  There was about 8 large fishing boats out well spaced across the horizon.  We know from talking to some of the fishermen at Manitowoc they are fishing for Coho Salmon.  This required a little bit of our attention to decide which boats we were going to make our way through to get to the other side of the line they have created. 

7:15 am – settled in enough with the sails and traffic that I went below to make coffee.  Here we are settled in and enjoying coffee. 

We played our sending song.  What’s a sending song you ask?  Well, I learned of this through another cruisers blog somewhere.  A sending song is a song that you play as you are departing on a journey that signals you leaving.  Now choosing this song should be carefully considered and be meaningful in some way to the vessel and/or it’s sailors.  So, what’s our sending song?  Cool Change by Little River Band.  Look it up and give it a listen.  The lyrics speak to us and we saw Little River Band at Treasure Island Casino with some great sailing friends so good memories. 

8:02 am – We have turned the motor off!  The winds are up to 12.8 knots and we are moving along under sail alone at 5.8 knots.  We are about 10 miles off shore and still have great cell service. 

8:13 am – We have spotted our first freighter on AIS.  AIS is a device that transmits a ships location and details about the ship.  We can see these ships on our chartplotter and we can set warning alarms to tell us when ships are a set distance from us.  We set our alarms to tell us when a ship is within 3 miles from us.  The freighter we “spotted” is the BBC Leda.  She is 472 feet long!  She is 35 miles off our port.  We don’t visually see her at that distance, we will keep an eye on her to see if we get closer to her as we go. 

8:40 am – We are about 19 miles offshore.  We can no longer see land.  We are out here!  Still barely have 1 bar of cell service.  The water color has changed to the deep translucent aquamarine blue and it is both mesmerizing to watch and beautiful! 

9:10 am – The wind has died back a bit to about 9 knots, so we turn the engine back on so we can maintain 5 knots of speed.  We have officially lost cell coverage.  The waves are more noticeable now that we are further out.  Waves are about 1 – 2 feet in quick sets of 3.  Not uncomfortable at all.  Like if a large powerboat went by about every couple of minutes or so. 

9:24 am – We are about 25 miles offshore.  We are talking with Dwight, Kay and George on the VHF.  Dwight and Kay left Manitowoc and are headed up to Door County.  They are about 25 miles from us and we can still have a conversation loud and clear.  We also spotted the Badger Car Ferry on AIS.  She is about 6.9 miles from us, forward on the starboard side.  We tried as hard as we could with the naked eye and the binoculars to visually spot the Badger however we did not see her.  The Badger has a fascinating history, learn more about it here:  SS Badger History

10:57 am – We are now 31 miles offshore with only 25 miles to Pentwater.  More than halfway, we are literally in the middle of nowhere.  The depth of the lake under our boat at the moment is 504 feet.  We have turned the motor off again and sailing along at 5.6 knots.  Lunch comes early when you get up at 4:30 am, so I heated up some soup to help keep us warm.  A little challenging to cook on the stove when the boat is heeled over. 

I don’t know if this bird smelled lunch, however we have a hitchhiker aboard.  It’s an Oriole.  Where did this bird come from in the middle of the lake.  He doesn’t want to leave us and wanted a nice place to ride for awhile.  I spent the next hour or so trying to get a photo of this bird, which proved very difficult. Sorry, no photo.

1:26 pm – Land Ho!  We can see the Michigan coast line.  The weather is getting warmer and the sun feels so good.  Spent the next couple hours up on the fore deck sunning myself, while Mark fiddles with the electronics.  I even took off my long underwear, it’s getting so nice!  We are about 17 miles from our destination and we are now getting limited cell coverage. 

Time now doesn’t have any point of reference, we stopped recording the time and events and we have been lulled into the rhythm of the passage, listening to music, reading books and watching the waves go by in the sun.  Once we got steady cell service, we updated Facebook, caught up on the electronic world, called the marina we are headed to, etc.  It seems to take forever from the time we spotted land to actually getting to said land.  It’s kind of like Las Vegas, it just right over there.  We arrived at Snug Harbor Marina in Pentwater at 4:20 pm.  More about Pentwater in another post. 

5 things that worked well on the passage:

  1. Upgrade to electronics – Well I guess I left out this part.  Since we haven’t used our chartplotter and electronics since last fall, there were 3 software updates that needed to be completed on our electronics.  Mark spent the better part of the day prior to departure trying to get our chartplotter to perform these updates.  The process seemed simple enough (nothing on a boat is simple, right?).  We just had to go to their website and download the update to an SD card and then insert the SD card into the chartplotter and it would update. This took hours with no success.  It just wasn’t doing what we expected it to do.  Finally after several hours Mark had the notion that the SD card seemed to be the issue.  He was using a 64 GB SD card, should have plenty of space for the upgrade, right?  Just to try something different he switch to another SD card and used a 32GB card instead.  For reasons unknown to us, the chartplotter does not recognize a 64 GB card but it would recognize a 32 GB card, go figure.  Nowhere in the manual or directions do they tell you this.  On a positive note, we have struggled with our VHF and switching channels.  If we scrolled up through the channels from 16, it would skip right past 67, 68, 69, 70, 71 and 72.  The exact channels you want to talk to other boats and marinas.  It appears this software upgrade has fixed the issue with the VHF!
  2. Xtratuf Boots – I bought these before we left and left me tell you they are great!  Keep my feet nice and warm!  They are light enough on my feet too that I don’t feel like I clunking around deck in heavy boots.

3. Yeti coffee mugs – Keeps our coffee nice and hot for hours!

4. The color of the water of Lake Michigan – simply beautiful!!
5. In the middle of the lake you can crank the music and sing at the top of your lungs and no one cares.  Not that we would do that or anything!

5 things we learned on the passage

  1. When moving the boat we need to put the rugs in the head and the galley away.  Not to worry, no accidents happened here.  Just a realization as your trying to sit on the toilet with the boat heeled over…well you can just use your imagination for the rest.
  2. Our VHF has a range of over 20 miles!
  3. Our camera battery does not last the length of a passage.  Need to buy another camera battery
  4. Birds are very difficult to photograph
  5. When you see land, don’t get too excited, you still have several hours of sailing before you get there.

Plan B

Well, I think I should update you all on our plans for the 2020 sailing season.  As you know, the original plan was to leave Manitowoc in mid-June and head through the Great Lakes, down the east coast to the Caribbean.  Check out “The Plan” area of the blog.  Well, clearly that was the plan since we are blogging about Plan B.  Covid has thrown a wrench in many plans.  We have committed to a seasonal slip in Manitowoc marina for the entire summer season for 2020.  Multiple factors have played into our decision.  Mostly, one of our non-negotiable items is that do not want to leave the Great Lakes without spending time in the North Channel in the most northern part of Lake Huron.  This area is across the Canadian border and at present the Canadian border is closed to tourists.  The North Channel is one of the top 50 places to sail in the world according to the book “50 places to sail before you die”.  Even if the Canadian border were to open at some point this summer, we are uncertain what that will look like and may in fact require a 14 day quarantine period.  Another factor in our decision is how we really want to experience this trip.  We want to be able to go to restaurants, bars, meet people, feel comfortable having guests aboard our boat, etc.  And in the current environment, it just seems that we might not have the experience we are looking for.  This means the boat will spend another winter at Manitowoc marina and we will splash in the spring of 2021 and head to the Caribbean in mid-June of 2021. 

So, Plan B.  What does Plan B entail?  We are still leaving mid-June and crossing Lake Michigan to head over to the Michigan side and harbor hopping up the coast of Michigan to hit all the cute small towns along the way.  Still making our way to Mackinac Island for July 4th, minus any fireworks celebrations since those are cancelled.  Then we will head around the upper peninsula of Michigian and down the Wisconsin coast along Door county and Green Bay.  Essentially we will complete a circle tour of the upper part of Lake Michigan over 3 – 4 weeks., returning back to Manitowoc marina at the end. 

We will see and experience what we can.  Lake Michigan has a lot to offer and we are just as excited to spend our summer here.  And hey, we are retired so we have all day.  Follow along as we tell you about each of the stops along the way.      

Splash Day

Today is Wednesday May 13th and it’s splash day! The first day Painkiller will see the waters of Lake Michigan for the 2020 season. Moving a 30,000 pound boat is always an anxiety producing event, however we have trust in the marina staff to do a good job. We are excited to move from project mode to sailing mode. From dusty, dirty building to clean, cold water.

We are waaaaayyyy back in the back of the building with boats surrounding us and it’s splash day and we need to get out. First they move the boat in front of us out of the way. Our boat sits on a cradle that is a steel structure that is shaped like a rectangle that has 4 sets of poles on each side of the boat with pads on the end that go against the hull and support the hull and the boat from tipping over. Most of the weight of our boat sits right on it’s keel on the cradle with the padded poles on the sides to provide stability from the sides. Ordinarily a boat would be lifted by a travel lift with slings that go under the boat and lift it in the air. However, the travel lift cannot fit into the building and so they take boats out of the building with a huge trailer. The next video clip is the trailer coming in under the boat.

It took them quite a bit of time to get the trailer positioned under the boat and all adjusted to support the boat before they could start moving. Once everything was set, Painkiller starts her journey out of the winter building!! Watch out for the pole to the left! Whew, these guys know what they are doing.

Here’s another clip of moving on out with another pole to dodge on the way out. Now we are getting somewhere. I see the light of the door to the exit! It took 2 hours to get the boat out in the sunshine.

Once we are outside the building, they attached the trailer to a larger truck. The location of the storage building is about 2 miles up the Manitowoc river from the marina. And the storage building itself is several blocks from the Manitowoc river. So, we got towed through the streets of Manitowoc through a very industrial area to the Manitowoc river where we will be placed into the water. You can see in the video that we are following the boat in our car.

Next they positioned the boat near the travel lift, that’s that big blue thing that will lift our boat off the trailer and into the water.

And then just like that Painkiller is in the water!!

Now once we got the boat in the water, we had a few things to do, like check for leaks. Thankfully, all the water was on the outside where it belongs. The marina staff came and checked over the engine since we had them do a bunch of work over the winter and now was the time to test that everything is in working order. Once we were assured that everything was as it should be, Mark and I were ready to set out down the Manitowoc river to the marina which is a couple of miles away. Lots of new firsts for us. New waters, do we know where we are going? How do we get out of here? We have to pass under 2 bridges on the way to the marina. We have never done bridges before on our boat. Do we have our handheld VHF to call the bridge? We are unfamiliar with the entrance to the marina. Where are we going?

PK: “8th street bridge, 8th street bridge, 8th street bridge, this is painkiller requesting opening, approaching from up river, over”

Bridge: “Good morning Painkiller, we see you, we will open on approach”

We continued to motor toward the bridge and watching, wondering if they would open by the time we got to the bridge. There was that moment of hesitation, should we slow down? He hasn’t stopped traffic yet. How long does it take for the bridge to open? Then we realize that the bridge tender has likely done this before (hahaha) even through we haven’t. He opened both bridges right as we got there. All was good.

PK: “Thank you 8th street bridge, this is Painkiller, over and out”

After all that bridge stress, we passed by the Manitowoc Maritime Museum. Sitting right out from is a WWII submarine, the USS Cobia. Currently the museum is closed due to COVID, however we hope it will be open at some point for us to visit.

Now many of you might think that is enough for one day, however you might have noticed from the pictures and videos that our sailboat is missing something. That’s right, our mast is not yet on the boat. When we got into the marina we pulled the boat over to their mast raising area so we could do just that. Over the winter, we had the marina install on new standing rigging. That’s those wires that hold the mast up. Now for most of you that might seems as exciting as getting a new hot water heater in your house, but for us this is like Painkiller get all new shiny jewelry. Not to mention the huge safety issue of keeping the mast up. Have I ever told you there are only 3 rules to sailing? No? Well…rule #1 keep the water on the outside (we checked that out when the boat was put in the water); rule #2 keep the people on the inside (so far so good) and rule #3 keep that big stick thing up in the air (that’s what that new rigging is for). See how shiny?

Then in goes the mast…

This was an all day affair and we were exhausted by the time we got the boat to the slip and could relax a bit. See ya next time!

I am certain you have heard or are familiar with a recent viral outbreak affecting the world right now. It seems you would have to be very disconnected to not have heard. Perhaps like the couple who were traveling on their sailboat from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean during the month of March. Due to their 25 day passage at sea they were completely unaware of the ongoing outbreak, until they attempted to arrive in the Caribbean. They discovered borders closed and were turned away from several countries before being allowed entry in St Vincent.

So, why do I share this story with you? We don’t want to be that couple. Oh, the sailing part, the 25 day passage and arriving in the Caribbean are all great, however being turned away from a port due to the virus is the part that we want to avoid.

In this new and unfamiliar environment, our central question is and has become, where can we go? What is open? What will we find? Will it be safe? Right now there are more questions than answers.

Our “plan” has us leaving Manitowoc in mid-June. For our route information, check out “The Plan” on the home page of our blog. The plan has us going through parts of Canada, 4 Great Lakes, 5 states to get to the Atlantic and 2 canals.

Like the closures we have all experienced due to COVID-19, the marine industry has also been affected by closures. In mid-March we were told Manitowoc Marina was closed and we were not able to even access our boat, which is in indoor storage there. At that point, we had no idea when were we even going to be allowed entry to even see the boat or do any work on the boat. Thankfully, on April 15th, we were told that we would now be able to access boats, with some new rules due to COVID-19. The rules include, signing up for a time slot via a website to request our time to be there, a limit of no more than 5 people in the building at any given time, marina employees must escort us in, and the installation and use of hand sanitizers at all entries.

Social distancing at it’s finest! 5 people allowed in the building the size of your average Costco

As they say, a journey begins with the first step, so access to the boat is a good first step. Now, what else do we need to be able to actually leave? First and foremost, marinas along our path need to be open and boating open and unrestricted in the states we are traveling through. Even if marinas are open for business, it is an entirely another question if they will accept out-of-state transient boats.

We are carefully tracking state stay at home orders for the states we will travel through. Other key considerations are the opening of the U.S./Canadian border which is currently closed. One of the highlights of our trip will take us into the North Channel of Lake Huron in Canadian waters. We do not want to miss this portion of the trip. The other important consideration is the opening of the New York Canal System (a.k.a. the Erie Canal). The canal is currently closed and there are several locks along the canal system that require repair or maintenance for the canal to open for the 2020 season. The repair work has been halted due to COVID-19. The New York Power Authority, which governs the Erie Canal, has stated they will need at least 60 days to complete this work prior to the canal being open for the season. The New York Canal System just issued a Notice to Mariners today that stated the canal will not be opening on May 15th as previously indicated. They did not provide any guidance about a new date.

There are only 2 routes a boat can take from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic. One is the Erie Canal and the other is the St Lawrence Seaway. If the Erie Canal remains closed, the only option with be the St Lawrence Seaway. This option adds significant mileage and time to our trip. In addition to that, both the St Lawrence Seaway and the Welland Canal (connection to get from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario) are closed to pleasure traffic. The St Lawrence Seaway locks are predominantly in Canada and the Canadian border is closed.

So where does all this leave us? Well, there are options. Option #1: Leave as planned (seems less likely as time goes on). Option #2: Leave in a delayed time frame. We will continue to monitor all the closures to see what will open and when. Perhaps the openings will accommodate a delayed time frame. But we would likely need to leave sometime in July. Option #3: delay our departure for an entire year. We would enjoy sailing Lake Michigan and exploring places closer to home and start our longer journey in June 2021.

Definitely lots to consider! Mark and I think the universe is teaching us the lessons of what it’s like to be a cruiser already. Rule #1: Be flexible.

A Celebration

I should back up a bit in our timeline because I want to tell you about a wonderful group of people that we have had the privilege to get to know and spend the last 7 years with at Pepin Yacht Club. The weekend prior to us packing up and shipping our boat to Manitowoc they had a bit of a going away celebration for Mark and I which was very heart warming.

Here’s a glimpse of the fun times:

We love our Pepin family! The night ended with a beautiful sunset!

We almost dropped the cake! But made a quick recovery!

We were gifted a very nice wool blanket for the boat, which we will treasure! We love you all! Don’t forget to come visit us!

Hello Manitowoc

After loading up the boat on the truck on the morning of September 24th, 2019, Mark and I hopped in the car and drove the 5 hours from Pepin, WI to Manitowoc, WI. Where is Manitowoc, WI you say?

Manitowoc is on the eastern shore of Wisconsin on Lake Michigan, just southeast of Green Bay. When we were considering a place to ship our boat, we had several criteria. #1 somewhere on the Great Lakes, #2 somewhere that is a reasonable drive from the Minneapolis area, where we still live #3 a marina with great boat repair services, as we have some work we would like done prior to leaving.

So, that being said, we could have gone to Lake Superior however, Lake Superior is too cold in the spring/early and it would likely add a significant number of miles to our trip. I am not a fan of wearing a turtle neck while sailing. Our other consideration was a marina in Waukegan, IL. Mark and I had been to Waukegan previously to attend a diesel mechanic class and we liked the marina and the staff, however Waukegan, IL is a much further drive from the Minneapolis area and much further south in Lake Michigan when we leave.

The boat arrived safe and sound in Manitowoc! We got there just ahead of the boat and we were waiting for her and the driver to arrive. The truck arrived about 4:30 pm and the marina closes at 5:00 pm, so there was no time left in the day to splash the boat in the water on the day we arrived.

Since there wasn’t anything to be done for the rest of the day, we scouted out a great restaurant in Manitowoc and settled on the Courthouse Pub, which is a great local pub with great food. It is so named as it is directly across from the county courthouse. Brad from Cross Country Boat Transport joined us for dinner at the pub. I just want to give a shout out to Cross Country Boat Transport, they are a fantastic company with fantastic people who do a fabulous job! This is the second time we have used their services, as they also moved “Painkiller” from Florida to Pepin when we purchased the boat. Thank you Cross Country Boat Transport!

The next morning we were up bright and early, the boat spent the night on the truck in the parking lot and Brad slept in his sleeper part of the truck and Mark and I hit the nearby hotel for the night. The marina opens at 8 am and we were there waiting to have the marina staff unload the boat and lift her into the water.

We maneuvered “Painkiller” to her slip at the end of A dock. This is where we will spend the next 3 days putting some of “Painkiller’s” accessories back together. Up first, empty the U-Haul. We rented a U-Haul to transport the dinghy and lots of other misc accessories that either were difficult to put down below on the boat or not really convenient to haul on the truck.

So over the next 3 days we completed the following: Sorry I didn’t have more pictures of these items, too much work and not enough picture taking.

Reinstall the hoyt boom – This is a boom that is for our staysail which is a small sail on the front of the boat. It has it’s own boom which is a large aluminum pole that we needed to put back into a hole in the deck and secure it from down below and put some sealant so water does not find it’s way around the pole and into the hole.

Reinstall the bimini and dodger – This is the canvas and frames for the canvas the cover the cockpit area

Reinstall 2 poles on the back of the boat – We have 2 large poles on the back of the boat. One has the wind generator at the top and the other has the radar dome and a couple of antennas at the top. We had to re-attach the poles and then re-run the wiring for wind generator and radar.

Reinstall dinghy davits – This is the framework on the back of the boat that we use to hoist the dinghy out of the water and where the dinghy resides when we are sailing.

Reinstall solar panels – We have 3 solar panels on the boat. 2 are flexible panels that sit on top of the bimini and 1 is a larger rigid panel that sitting on top of the dinghy davits.

Launch the dinghy and store on deck – We had to pull the dinghy out of the U-Haul at the boat ramp area and drag it down the boat ramp to get it in the water. Mark brought it over to the boat from the boat ramp area and between the 2 of us and one of the marina staff we managed to haul it up on the dock and then up on the fore deck of the boat where is will reside for the winter.

Speaking of winter, we only put “Painkiller” in the water for 3 days to put things back together and then she will come back out of the water and be place in indoor heated storage for the winter. Because this is indoor storage, we will not be reinstalling the mast and that will wait until spring to be reinstalled.

After a lot of work, we are finding we like our new surroundings and are excited about what spring will bring. Here is a little tour of Manitowoc Marina.

That is the SS Badger, she’s a car ferry that docks in Manitowoc and crosses Lake Michigan to bring people and cars across the Lake to the Michigan side.

Here’s the entrance to the marina. This is where we will go when it comes time to depart!

Goodbye Pepin

It’s September 24, 2019. A special day in more ways than one. Today is our 31st wedding anniversary! It is also a hallmark day in our Caribbean adventure. No turquoise waters yet, however every journey begins with the first step.

The first step involves quite a bit of work and effort on our part to take our boat apart and prepare her for shipping on a large truck over land to her new home in Manitowac WI on Lake Michigan where we will begin our sailing journey in June 2020. Prepping the boat took 3 days leading up to September 24th, however the truck showed up the morning of the 24th and took her off to Manitowac.

Removed the boom

Removing the dinghy davits

Wrapping up the frame for the bimini

We left our slip for the last time, heading for the transient dock where the lift is

Mark at the top of the mast removing stuff

Here’s a nice view from the top of the mast, the new dodger I sewed looks great from here

Time to loosen and undo all the standing rigging, that’s the stuff that holds the mast up

The crane is here to remove the mast

Here’s a short video of the mast coming off the boat

The morning sunrise on September 24th. What a beautiful way to end our time on Pepin! It’s moving day!

Painkiller coming out of the water

All loaded up on the truck and ready to go

Bye Painkiller! See you in Manitowac!

Pepin,WI – A Special Place

We have had our boat in Pepin Marina for the last 8 seasons and have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of our time here. This special place in our hearts has fostered many great friendships that we know will continue after we leave for bluer horizons. There have been magical times had here from sailing on a beautiful day to listening to live street music, dancing and star gazing. We will miss being in Pepin next year but will always hold a special place in our hearts for the people and events that have shaped our time here. Here’s a little pictorial view of Pepin.

Well, one of the things on the list is – update blog!   As you can perhaps see we have ignored our blog for quite sometime.  We bought the boat, enjoyed sailing Lake Pepin for several years and now we are preparing for our departure to sail the Great Lakes, Erie Canal, Hudson River, East Coast and the Caribbean.  Check out “The Plan” to see our route.

As you can imagine, there is a lot of preparation and planning that goes into such journey and we have been in full blown planning mode for several months now. 

There are things to buy – top on our list was new electronics, a comfortable mattress, solar panels and wind generator, safety equipment, charts, cruising guides, spare parts and boat bits and fun things like a stand up paddle board. 

Our new electronics have arrived!

There are projects to complete – sewing projects (new dodger and bimini), installing new electronics, general boat cleaning and maintenance, configuring storage, going through volumes of stuff that needs storage, address health/vaccination issues prior to departure and all the regulatory issues such as passports, global entry, boat documentation, FCC license, boat and health insurance and the like. 

Here’s the new bimini with the flexible solar panels laid out ready to be sewn on 
Here’s the new helm with all the new electronics installed
Took a lot of digging in here and running wires to get all the new electronics installed
All this work makes for one messy boat – Is someone going to clean this up?

We have to remember in between all the planning and projects to stop and have fun!  Sail a little, socialize a little and generally relax. 

Beautiful sunset!
Enjoying time with family!

More to come as we get closer to our planned departure!


Mark’s nickname is Titch.  There is a story behind this nickname, as with any good nickname.  Often when we are sailing, Mark cannot help himself from adjusting the sails and he is never really satisfied with a given sail position and instead the satisfaction comes from the process of continually adjusting.  Nothing is more fun that messing around in boats, right?

Sometimes, Mark will employ other crew members in this process of continued sail adjustment.  “Hey, can you pull that in a titch?”  “Just let it out a titch”  You get the idea.

As this process evolves, the person employed to do the adjusting is left to wonder, how much is a titch?  Well, as it turns out, a titch is a very scientific and precise measurement.  Urban dictionary defines a titch as “a small amount”  It is often better understood when compared to other very scientific and precise forms of measurement, such as a smidge and a skosh.

When a crew member inquires, “how much is a titch?”  The answer is simple really.  It a bit more than a smidge and a little less than a skosh.