Sailing The World's Oceans

Dream ~ Discover ~ Explore

Saturday May 7, 2011 - 07:31 La Paz, BCS, Mexico

We're off on our way to the Marquesas
and I will post an entry on the internet
when I have time. But that may not be
for 30 days or so. I will try to make my
Spot connection work as long as
possible but it may lose connection
ability after a couple of hundred miles
offshore. You can check Hokule'a's
'Where Is Hokulea'a' page to find
me if I lose Spot connection.

Much Aloha Always,

Bill s/v Solstice

Friday May 6, 2011 - La Paz, BCS, Mexico

Over the years I’ve spent little time in Mexico.  I’ve been to Tijuana,
Ensenada, Rosireitta, Cabo San Lucas, Guymus, San Carlos, and
now La Paz.  Most visits were for long weekends and couple were for
a 2 weeks to a month.  Soon after arriving in La Paz, there was a
mountain of laundry to do.  The machines in the Laundromat at the
marina took U.S. quarters.  Which I thought was sort of strange
being in Mexico but it was a marina that catered to Americans sailing
in the Sea of Cortez.  How convenient I thought.  I have a drawer
on the boat that has a lot of change in it and I always pilfered it
when I went to do laundry back home.  I was at the marina office
when I learned about the American quarter taking machines so I
asked them there where do you get quarters as I saw no change
m achines in the Laundromat.   “The man at the store, he has
quarters”, the manager at the store informed me.  When I asked him
to make change he said that he sold quarters in packs of 6 for $2 U.S. 
“What?” I asked thinking I misunderstood.  “Amigo, the machines take
6 quarters to run a load of wash and 6 quarters to dry the load.  So I
sell them to you in packs of 6 for $2” There is no exchange of currency
going on.  Basically I’m giving him $2 and he’s giving me back $1.50 in
quarters.  Here in lies what I dislike about Mexico.  Basically, the guy is taking your money from you because he has you in a situation to do so.  I feel it’s dishonest and a way to take advantage of people.  Don’t get me wrong.  There are many, many things I adore about Mexico.  This type of thing, however, is what turns me away.

With that said, we ran into some wonderfully, happy, and helpful people.  Sergio, who did the welding for Jake and me, was fantastic.  His workmanship was beautiful and more impressive when he got both  of our welding projects done in  less than a day.  In the end, I never really did get to spend quality time in La Paz as all our time was spent working on the boats.  So I cannot give La Paz a fair shake.  I will add though, I’d like to come back here some day and spend some quality time in La Paz and especially among the surrounding islands.  They are gorgeous.

Thursday Cinco de Mayo, 2011 - 09:33 La Paz, BCS, Mexico

Apparently Cinco de Mayo is really an American celebration of Mexican pride and freedom but here in Mexico it is about beating the French in a battle years ago that nobody
really cares about anymore.  There are no “big” celebrations in honor of
that here in La Paz.   Things are always different in countries when you
go visit than they are perceived to be when you are from afar.  

The two weeks here in La Paz, have been exhausting.  The sense of
urgency that we left with in Redondo Beach still looms.  What’s pushing
this urgency is “Hurricane Season”.  Not in the South Pacific but here
in the northern hemisphere.  It’s time to get south but we’ve had to
fix boat things first.

Here’s what I’ve done so far.  Pulled into Marina Palmeira so we could
have dockside access to work needed to be done on the boat. 
Ran around like crazy for a day and half trying to clear in through
immigration and the Port Authority.  It was a dark comedy of
Jake, John, Tim and I literally running at full speed in 100 degree
plus weather in flip flops between port authorities, the bank, and
immigration.   We already exhausted from the passage so it took all
the energy each of us had.  We had to clear in so that Tim could
catch his flight to clear out in the very next morning.  As we ran
down the street a loud pattering of SLAP, SLAP, SLAP echoed off
the run down buildings of La Paz as locals grinned at the three
gringos running through the streets.  In the end, the immigration
gave Tim preference and pushed his paperwork through as he was
leaving tomorrow.  Jake, John and I had to return the next day.

After clearing in, I got busy working on Solstice.   Nothing here runs very efficient so things take a lot longer than you think, and even back home they take longer than you think.  Triple that here.  Perhaps it’s the laissez-faire (I don’t know how to say that in Spanish) attitude of the Mexican people, perhaps it’s the heat, or perhaps it’s my inability to adjust to a slower way of doing things.  Regardless, it’s

frustrating.  So I went ahead working as efficiently as I could.  In a nutshell, I pulled out and threw away the old water heater.  Good riddance.  Re-plumbed the cooling circuit for the engine so to bypass the now non-existent hot water heater.  Besides it’s about 102 degrees here so I don’t miss it.  Fixed boom vang weld break.  Took down jib and sent it to a sail repair shop.  That’s supposed to be ready this afternoon.  Pulled deck fill for water that was leaking and fixed.  Well I think it’s fixed.  You find that out once you get offshore.  Looked into the transmission leak issue.  No extreme fluid loss from it at all.  So after banging heads with Jake, the thought was that the bleeder valve worked, unlike in the water heater, and the fluid was from that.  I hope that’s right.  Regardless, it seems fine.  We provisioned for the crossing.  That was another full day of renting a car, getting lost, and dealing with the language barrier.  I then pulled all interior stuff out of the boat, opened all the floorboards and cabinets and bombed the boat for bugs.  This was done after Jackie and I had a discussion re: getting roaches on the boat in Mexico.  12 years ago when Jake, John and I were here we discovered halfway to the Marquesas that we had roaches.  So we decided that it was a good idea of preventative maintenance to make sure that does not happen.  So we did that.  All in all, everything just needs to be cleaned up and stowed and we’ll be off.  Taylor and Tony are due to arrive this evening.  I just learned the my sail is ready so I’m off to get it…  More later.

Thursday April 28, 2011 08:44 La Paz, BCS, Mexico

Well it’s been a few days since I’ve been able to do an update but we are safely in La Paz.  In a nutshell the last few days getting here were tense at times as our boat issues provided a stress that made us want to be in port sooner than later.  Jake was able to trouble shoot his electrical problem as he found a terminal block in the system that couldn’t handle the load and it had shorted out.  Fortunately he had a better spare onboard that he used which fixed that problem.  The steering issue is still yet to be resolved, however, the auto-pilot was able to handle the brunt of the work and Jake and Jackie felt comfortable enough to not stop in Cabo and to head straight to La Paz.  So we slowed our progress so as not to put too much stress on his auto-pilot and motored towards La Paz which is where we are now.

As for Sosltice, we have some issues that still need to be taken care of.  The last 36 hours we saw little wind and we motored a lot to get here.  While on watch the last night, I noticed the fresh water pump for the water system going off frequently.  On a boat you have a water pump that pressurizes all the water from the water tanks so when you open a faucet you get water.  When you open a faucet for water the pump makes brrrrr sound as it pumps.  When you turn the faucet off the pressure builds up in the lines and the pump shuts off automatically when it senses that pressure build up and turns on again when you open the faucet.  If nobody is using water in the boat, the pump should stay idle until needed.  If nobody is using water and you keep hearing a brrrrr sound that then shuts off.  It usually means that the line is losing pressure because there is a leak somewhere in the system.

I was on my 0300 to 0600 watch waiting for sunrise.  We had motored up to a pass in the sea of Cortez that can be sketchy if not well navigated.  The wind had picked up and so we opted to wait for sunrise to go through this area and we shut off the engine and sailed ever so slowly under only a mainsail.  The water in the sea of Cortez is not like the ocean.  It’s flat and calm.  This particular morning a mill pond wouldn’t have been much calmer.  While floating around doing 1.5 knots waiting for sunrise I heard, BBRRRR.  “Hmmm.  Is somebody up?”  I peaked down below… John and Tim, exhausted, were both sound asleep.  I went back to looking at the stars as twilight began to break on the horizon.  BBBRRRR!  Then a small red light in the cockpit lit up that indicates when the bilge pump goes on.  After a couple of seconds it went out as it shut off.  “Okay, Solstice I’m listening.  We’ve got a freshwater leak somewhere in the system.  Just what we need now.”  BBBRRRRR.  Was the reply from the water pump.

Floating around at that hour, it’s hard to stay awake so I figured I’d keep moving and see if I could find the issue.  We had just taken showers on the aft deck for the first time earlier that day.  Maybe there’s a leak in the line there where it leaves the engine room.  Maybe it’s just a loose hose clamp.  That would be great and an easy fix.  Happily I grabbed my flashlight and opened the aft door of the engine room proud of myself for thinking that this is where the problem was.  To my horror, underneath the transmission on my used to be clean oil pad was soaked with red transmission fluid.  NNNOOOOO!!!!  I had just pulled the transmission out several months ago and had a complete overhaul.  How could this be?   There wasn’t a lot of fluid, but enough.  I ran my hand underneath and came up with a glistening palm of tranny fluid.  What am I gonna do.  You have to lift the engine to get the transmission out.  A huge ordeal which involves removing the steering pedestal.  BBBRRRR.  The freshwater pump reminded me of what I was searching for originally.  Terrific.  I’ll deal with the transmission later and looked at the hose connection that I wanted to look at.  It was dry.  No leak anywhere.  So much for the easy fix.  Maybe it’s leaking where it comes out the deck.  I closed the engine room door and looked in the aft cabin in the cabinet where that line goes through the deck.  Dry too.  Hmmm… 

I moved to the main salon.  John and Tim looked blissful in their slumber.  How I wish I was in bed too dreaming of something wonderful and being a million miles away here.  At least we weren’t rocking.  BBBRRRR.  “OKAY SOLSTICE, OKAY!!!  I HEAR YOU! I HEAR YOU!”  I shut the water pump off to stop the nagging.  And more importantly to save our water.  The water pump was going off way too frequently.  Where could it be?  All facets were closed.  Nothing obvious.  Time to pull up the floor board and look at the pump directly.  Maybe it blew a gasket.  I opened the floorboard and a cascade of water was running down into the bilge.  It made that lovely soothing sound that water makes as it goes somewhere.  It reminded me of one of those water things you see in a dental office waiting room where a thin layer of water runs down a wide rocklike surface designed to sooth patients nerves before they go in for their root canal.  I turned on the flashlight and the culprit revealed itself.  The water heater had swelled and burst.  Water was pouring out from its seams.  This was another system I have pulled and rebuilt but this one I’ve done twice.  By further inspection it was obvious that with all the motoring we did, the pressure relief valve had failed and the water tank swelled and burst.

Fast forward to La Paz, now.  We’re here and instead of diving with whale sharks or snorkeling in the pristine lagoons and walking along the gorgeous beaches on the nearby islands, Jake, Jackie and I are trying again to get the boats back ship shape for our next big crossing to French Polynesia.  That’s supposed to happen at the end of next week.

I will add briefly with all this, the most harrowing part of the last couple of days came during my midnight to 3am watch a few days ago.  Hokule’a was about a mile ahead and both of us on a port tack.  Moving nicely, making our way.  I noticed a bright light off to starboard some distance.  I turned on the radar, which I haven’t been using too much just to be mindful of batteries etc.  A couple miles away was this object.  I watched it closely for a few moments.  It didn’t appear to move much.  And was ahead of us a bit and to the south.   Hmmm…?  I got the binoculars out to get a closer look.  Bright white lights lit up everything and there was a rim of bright blue lights that looked like they lit underwater.  Strange… “Must be an oil rig or something,” I thought.  It looked kind of pretty.  I turned off the radar went back to checking my course, speed etc.  Still sailing along nicely.  Checked the sails and trimmed the jib and main.  I glanced back towards the oil rig and the lights were now much brighter and gave off the appearance of a giant inverted chandelier twinkling bright.  Hmmm…?  Weird.  I went below and got on the radio.  “Hokule’a, Hokule’a, Hokule’a this is Solstice do you copy?”  “Go ahead Solstice.”  “Hey Jake, do you see that light thing off to starboard?, Over.”  “Yeah, it’s a big cargo ship. We’re firing up the engine to get out of its way.”  WHAT?  A CARGO SHIP?  WITH BLUE LIGHTS?  I thought.  How can that be?  “Oh.  It’s moving? Over”  “Yeah, we’re getting out of its way. Gotta go”  “Okay.  Me too.”  I just dropped the radio and ran up to the cockpit and grabbed the binoculars.  I looked long and hard and that bright array of lights that reminded me of the space ship in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  It didn’t look like no cargo ship to me but Jake was right about one thing, whatever it was it was moving.  And it was moving fast.  And there, barely visible within the surrounding ever sparkling Vegas-style super bright lights, was the light configuration that made my heart sink.  One green light and one red light.  It was the bow of something large and it was headed straight at us.  All sails were up.  The engine was off.  And we were about to get run down.  I fired up the engine.  I rolled up the head sail.  Now was the crucial choice.  Stay my course or turn around.  The radar was off.  The last I saw whatever it was it appeared on radar that it was a head of me.  How could I have crossed its bow in such a short time.  Do I stay this course and not get out of the way in time.  Whatever choice was to be made had to be made now.  I turned Solstice 180 degrees and throttled up as fast as Solstice would go.  About 8.5 knots is hull speed.  The ship was now off my port side.  Red and Green bow lights getting brighter.  My heart was pounding hard.  “JOHN!!!  JOHN!!!”  Sound asleep.  I needed the radar on but I couldn’t leave the helm.  Desperation and adrenaline.  I yelled as loud as I could above the drone of the engine.  “JOHN! JOHN! JOHNN!  GET THE HELL UP HERE NOW.” 

Scratching a raggedy top of bed head, John emerged from the darkness below and popped his head up out of the companionway.

“What’s up, Dude?  I’m sleeping”

“Dude turn on the radar.  There’s some big ass thing headed right there and I don’t know if I’m going the right fucking way or not to get out its way.”

John looked at what I was talking about and his eyes went wide and he was now awake. 

“Shit.”  John turned on the radar.  The next moment sucked.  It takes 70 seconds for the radar to warm up.  I increased throttle.  And looked back at the ship.  On the port side of a vessel at night is a red light to indicate you’re seeing the port side.  The starboard side has a green light.  If you see both red and green you’re looking straight down the bow.  I kept looking to see if the green light would disappear.  If it would that would mean I’ve cleared or am clearing his bow.  All I continued to see was red and green.  Did I turn the wrong way?  Are we gonna get mowed down by a ship?  These things happen.  My heart was completely in my throat.  I couldn’t turn the boat around now.  I had made my choice.  I was stuck with that choice and had to keep moving in the same direction and pray the choice to turn around was the right one.  The radar went into standby mode ready to transmit.

“It’s ready, John.  Turn it on.”

John hadn’t used the radar much and wasn’t sure which buttons did what.  I’m still learning the damn thing as it’s another thing you need a course in to learn everything. 

“Okay”  John looked at the radar trying to figure it out.

“Dude, take the helm.  I’ll fire up the radar.”

John grabbed the helm.

“Keep on this course as fast as she’ll go.”

I got to the radar and got it to transmit.  The thing was about a ¼ mile away closing fast.  I looked again and I started to see what I had hoped for.  The green light began to fade.  Then the unmistakable angle of the stern started to reveal itself from behind the bow.

“We’re clearing its path.  We’re fucking clearing its path.”  I usually don’t swear much but there’s times when it’s completely appropriate and this was one of those fucking times.  
John started to laugh.  I stared to laugh too.

“Oh my God!  We’re getting out of the way.” 

As we moved further away from the bow, it became very clear that what was hell bent doing what seemed easily well into the 30 knot range was a giant cruise ship lit up at all corners. 

“Dude, we almost got run over by Mickey Mouse’s cruise ship right there.”

John started laughing.  “That’s right, they’re headed back to San Pedro.  Goofy’s probably at the helm,” he said.

We laughed some more.  How ironic, I thought.  I had worked at Disney studios on and off over the years working on movies and films for the theme parks.  How nuts would it be that here I’ve been dreaming of this trip for years only to get run down by Mickey Mouse only a few days out of the harbor.  I could see in my head that drawing of Mickey giving the finger that you see on T-shirts in Venice Beach.  Only my thought is that there was a giant drawing of it on the stern of the ship and it would be what I’d see is I lay in the water amidst the wreckage of my vessel clinging for life.

But that didn’t happen.  The collision was avoided.  And thank Mother Ocean, King Neptune and The Great Spirit in the sky for giving us the right choice and getting out of the way.

All the other boat issues seemed insignificant after that. 

That’s the latest update for now.  I’m going to attack the water heater here this afternoon and get that out of the boat.  I will update again when I can.  Right now we’re shooting for heading to the Marquesas in a little over a week.

Much Aloha Always,

Bill s/v Solstice


Friday April 22, 2011 - 15:12 PDT

The last 36 hours have been interesting to say the least.  Winds have been blowing about 25 knots with frequent gusts near 30.  Life aboard in these conditions makes everything challenging.  Opening cabinets to retrieve food or plates or anything is like a whack-a-mole game only instead you’re the gopher being smacked as items are launched from within the cabinet at your head.  It’s a constant game of trying to open the cabinet, grab what you need and close it before something launches out, the boat pitches and slams you backwards or worse forward into the open cabinet while your hand is in there and basically your body smashes the door closed on your hand.

Getting dressed is another feat in itself.  Putting on pants is like a twister game only the entire floor pitches 180 degrees in any direction randomly.  Left foot, in right leg hole, pitch right, pitch forward and back.  Body careens across cabinet and head hits the floor.  BAM!  An onslaught of verbal profanity fills the cabin.  The worst is when you get two legs in quickly only instead of being able to pull your pants up you’re like a cow being roped in a rodeo and your ankles are pinned together.  The boat rolls over hard to starboard and so do you.  BAM!  You shoulder goes flying into the side of the cabin.  More profanity.

This has been the existence for John, Tim and me the last 36 hours.  On top of all this, the fatigue factor of regular watches of 3 hours on and 6 hours on is in full swing.  Then to top it off, we got a radio call from Hokule’a at about 2am.  They have lost their steering.  Well actually only the hand steering at the helm.  The auto-pilot is still able to steer but Jake is concerned about a failure there, too, and what that might mean.  Jake has reduced sail to go slower to make things easier for the auto-pilot.  We followed his lead as we want to stick close to them.  We are planning at this point to head straight for Cabo and get into the anchorage there where Jake will be able to take a proper look at what could be the problem.

That’s it for this evening.  The wind has picked back up after a lull this morning.  Once again we’re being tossed around by Mother Ocean.  I can’t imagine why I didn’t wait until I was 65 to come out here and do this.


Wednesday April 20, 2011 - 18:56 PDT

When you open the manual for the Spectra Ventura 150 Deluxe Watermaker, there’s a warning about how the unit should be tested before heading out on a passage.  We tested ours yesterday.  The pressure gauge isn’t functioning properly, the fresh water flush side of the pump will not prime itself and it leaked so much at one time that I felt like I was Laurel and Hardy fixing the plumbing in a house where all the pipes are bursting.  I’d turn the pump on and water would spray from a dozen different connections making a beautiful water show display across the inside of the main salon.  Not only did the watermaker cost a small fortune (a fortune for me at least), but it took over two weeks of constant work to install it.  I had planned to test it right after installation but on the morning my test was scheduled millions of sardines swam into King Harbor and croaked.  The water in the harbor remained rancid for the next month and I couldn’t bring myself to test the watermaker in a harbor where millions of fish had just gone belly up.

Also my computer will not read my weather fax signal from the SSB so I have not been able to download any weather faxes.  As Captain Ron says “If it’s going to happen it’s going to happen out there.”  Well… it is happening out here.

My days have been bruised, sleepless and frustrating with glimpses of awe as Solstice sails south.  I love this boat more and more when I’m sailing though I bitch at her too much when things don’t work.  Ahh, the life of a sailor.

John and Tim have been awesome crewmembers and we’re staying light hearted through the fatigue.   Laughter is the best medicine out here.  Without that, any trip on a boat pitching from rail to rail would be miserable.

On another note, I got a call on the radio from Hokule’a today.  “Solstice, Solstice, Solstice this is Hokule’a do you copy, over?”  “Go ahead Hokule’a.”  “We are experiencing a massive electrical problem.  I cannot get the engine started, or the generator and I may lose you on the radio as my batteries are dying.”  “Hokule’a what is your position, over?”  We fired up the engine, rolled up the sail and when I went to plug their position into my GPS I was shocked to learn that they were almost 15 miles away.  Only a few hours earlier we were only a couple of miles apart.  I’m not really sure what happened or how we got separated by such a big distance but we charged immediately to rendezvous with Hokule’a.  It took us a good three and half hours of hard motoring to get there.  In the meantime, Jake had gotten the generator started and discovered that the alternator for the engine wasn’t working and, somewhere in the process, a terminal block shorted out and his solar panels also quit working.  Fortunately, he was able to get the generator going.  I also have a spare alternator onboard as I replaced mine with a higher end model from Balmar soon after I bought the boat.  Hopefully Jake will be able to figure it out sooner than later.

Much Aloha,

Monday April 18, 2011- 20:27 PDT

Sunday morning found us awakening to the soft light of sunrise kissing the green hills of the island.  I’ve never seen the island this green.  From all the rain this year no doubt.  Absolutely gorgeous.   John  went to light the stove to make coffee and the propane solenoid malfunctioned.  It would light for a second and then turn off.  This happened consistently.  Perfect.  Another thing to fix but worse NO COFFEE.  AAAAHHHH!!!

Fortunately for me I’ve been in this situation before and I wasn’t able to make coffee.  So to avoid such a horrific outcome from happening again, I built myself a mechanical backup just in case.  I swapped them out and soon the sweet smell of freshly brewed coffee filled the cabin.  Ah, panic attack avoided.

We spent a leisurely morning and went to the island to grab breakfast and send out e-mails.  I guess my boating problems followed me to the island because their server was down and we couldn’t get on-line.

Our intention was to eat breakfast, take showers, send e-mails, head back to the boat, spend a couple of hours wrapping up boat projects and head out.  Well the boat projects lingered until late afternoon and we made a decision to not leave right at dark but to spend the night and head out.

I haven’t had a chance to look at the propane switch as the backup is working great.  The general store also didn’t sell hoses.  Instead I got a nozzle.  A friend who works on the island wasn’t able to give us a regular hose but he did give me one with a cut off end that I think I can make work until we hit Mexico.

We crossed into Mexican waters about two hours ago.  I have no idea when I’ll be back to the States.  Next stop LaPaz.  It’s 20:47 and I have the midnight watch for my first night watch. So I have to go to bed to get some sleep.  I like the midnight watch.  I wonder if Jeep will come visit me.  For those who are unaware, one of Jake and mine’s dear friend, Jeep Shaeffer, passed away this summer.  He was always super supportive of this endeavor of ours.  Jeep knew he was dying and wouldn’t be around to see us cast-off. Instead he told me that he was looking forward to our midnight watches.  I wonder if he’ll visit Jake and me tonight.  We both have the midnight watch.

Much Aloha,

Sunday April 17, 2011 03:59 PDT

Yesterday was an incredible day filled with an amazing array of emotions.  The overwhelming outpouring of love from friends and family to see us off was fantastic.  I’ve left the dock many times before but nothing will ever compare to yesterday.  My usual checklist of things to do for some stupid reason stayed stashed in the chart table under the perpetual mess that lives in there.  I was running around trying to take care of a million things while the finger of our dock filled up with more and more people coming to take pictures, give hugs, share a story, drop off a gift, laugh, cry, give more hugs and to say goodbye.

Thoughts ran through my mind at light speed.  “Run the jib sheets, attach the main halyard, don’t forget the shore power cord, oh there’s Gino and Pete, I love them so much.  I’m going to miss them so much.  Go give them a hug.  Wait, don’t’ forget the fenders still tied to the dock.  What time is it?  Jake said to cut the dock lines when?  Oh we need to put on crappy dock lines to cut, don’t cut the good ones.  What dock lines should I use?  Where’s my brother and his family, oh there they are.”  And the tears would erupt, followed by a hug, a joke, a hearty laugh, more tears and more hugs.

Now from a quieter moment looking back, I realize how important it was for me to have dug that list out and looked at it.  It would’ve reminded me of many of the simple things I usually never forget like TOP OFF THE WATER TANKS! 

An amazing eclectic collection of vessels followed us out.  Dear friends and family piled into boats and lined the seawall to watch us head out the harbor.  The Harbor Patrol boat and The Witch (The lifeguard boat) sent up an arching spray of water from their water cannons and everyone saluted us with cheers, howls and horns as we sailed out of the harbor and into the Pacific.  It was truly a beautiful send off.   A half a mile out of the harbor I looked back to shore and took in the coastline.  L.A. may have it’s faults but more than anything, it is a beautiful city filled with so many beautiful people.  It is my home and I’m going to miss it terribly.

We rounded the R-10 buoy of the palos verdes peninsula and I turned on the auto-pilot.  It didn’t work.  WHAT? WHAT THE HELL? We were barely out of the harbor and something was already broken.  And it was THE AUTO-PILOT!  All I could think about was that the freaking auto-pilot just took a dump and I’m going to have to hand steer this boat all the way around the globe.  NOOOOO!!!

I dug out the manual, which was stowed under a mountain of provisions, opened up the circuit board, which was installed on the inside door of the engine room which makes it lovely to work on as you lay there on your stomach trying to read the fine print on the circuit board with a flashlight while the blaring sound of the engine pierces your eardrums.  A sobering moment after the send-off.  However, 30 minutes later, I found the crossed wires that were the problem and we were back in business.  RELIEF!

On a quick side note.  It has been an exhausting last month trying to get Solstice ready to go while working at the same time.  Jake and Jackie felt the same exhaustion too.  The outpouring of love from friends and family has been overwhelming and so very much appreciated.  My heart overflows with the love I feel for so many of you out there.  You are the greatest gift in my life.  But still we found so little time to sleep and it has taken its toll.  Jake realized it first and knew that we needed some real rest before sailing south for a 1,000 miles.  A day and a half before our departure Jake pulled me aside and said, “Hey we’re exhausted.  We need to get some kind of rest.  What if we head over to Catalina after we top off for fuel in Long Beach so we can get a good nights sleep?”  I gave him a hug.  “That was truly brilliant plan.”  So we’re here “sleeping”.

Of course I’m awake thinking about too many things like, I wonder what time the general store opens and if they have a nice long hose that can replace the one I left on the dock.  Oops.  Oh and I get to say goodbye to the island properly here in the morning.  That’s a wonderful thing.

BTW – The next log entries won’t be posted until we get to LaPaz.  About a week from now.

Much Aloha,

Friday April 15, 2011 04:46 PDT

I stood on the dock yesterday looking at a disaster of things removed from my dock box all strewn along the finger of our dock.  I’ve got about 36 hours and all this crap has to go somewhere.  How the hell am I going to get this all done?

That was 12 hours ago.  The dock doesn’t look that much different now as it did then.  In fact, now there is $1200 worth of provisions from Costco all strewn throughout Solstice’s cockpit and aft deck.  Where am I going to put all that stuff?  I’ve got 29 hours until we’re supposed to shove off.  If only I had the “dream crew” from the crew page here to help.  At least this process would be a much happier one.  Instead, I’ve got only John.  Tim is supposed to show up sometime this afternoon.  In the meantime, I’m just hoping for a small miracle to make it all get stowed well so we can get out of here on time, ship shape, and happy come tomorrow morning at 10:00am and we’re actually leaving the slip.

Wednesday April 13, 2011, 04:52 PDT

I’ve been awake now for 2 hours.  I haven’t had a full nights sleep in a couple of months as I’ve been running at full speed trying to get things done and to get Solstice ready to go.  Seems every night I awake in the middle of the night and my brain races with things still to do. 

I pushed our March 19th cast-off date a month as it was proving impossible to get Solstice ready to go.  Since I’m buddy boating with Hokule’a, this decision affected them as well and I didn’t take the choice lightly.  Looking back at that decision now, the extra month proved invaluable for me.  Though I am exhausted and there are still many items left unchecked from the “To Do” list, I have checked off the most important ones.  Outside of storing crap and provisioning, we’re ready to go.

Solstice Log