One of the things we set out to do on this journey was re-boot our notions of Time.

I've spent the last few years gobbling up time at a stunning rate and yet I still end up feeling like I never get enough done. I always joke that I need three more hours in a day-somewhere between lunch and dinner-and then I MIGHT be able to get everything done I need to do on that day.  I started to wonder about this. All this busy-ness...Business...I get up to. It's what everyone does though, right?  It's what we're supposed to do. Work, worry about work, talk about work, earn money, not earn enough money, contemplate ways to earn more money, establish a major to-do list, worry about not getting enough done on that list, hustle the kids through school, routines, sports, homework and squish all of this in between parenting and navigating your marriage, while trying to find time to relax and stay healthy and then maybe, as an after-thought, throw in some spiritual improvement if you can find the TIME.
So, this is all fine, really. It's totally one way of living but I can't help noticing how frantic everyone seems all the Time. Most of all me. I'm practically panting most days. I'm usually happy when I feel like I've accomplished something.  I am not calm very often or content to just be. Even when I meditate, I have, like, an internal timer, that tells me, "Okay, that's enough! Time to get on with your day!".
What if I stop this? Just for these few months. Of course, I still have a million things to do in a day. Cruising is an active and sometimes intense way to go through life and one has to be aware of all kinds of factors to ensure one's safety and survival- much magnified when you are new to it and have young children! But what if I use this way of living, which provides me with LONG stretches of free Time to re-boot my notion of what to do with it.  At sea, at anchor, waiting for the wind to shift... what if I reverse the order of the things I usually fill my Time with? Whenever i'm not actively engaged in survival,  I'll spend Time pondering my spiritual center, Time relaxing and being healthy, Time relishing being in love and Time playing with and teaching my children. If I have some EXTRA Time, maybe I'll get something done on my to-do-list and If I'm actually at a loss for something to do... I'll ponder how I might make some money.
(I plan to need much, much, less of it, anyway)
I wonder where this will lead me in a few months...
Will I become a salt-encrusted, shaggy hippie with no sense of purpose?
Or will Time fade a little in importance, will I worry less and simply watch more sunsets with my children?
I guess we'll just have to see.

Uno on watch
Nothin' to do but smile, smile. smile

Now, If I can just stop thinking of how much I need to clean that area behind the stove!


We promised the kids a trip to the Zoo while we were here, so we put aside the repairs and paperwork we have to do here in S.D. and played hooky for the day. It was Hunter's first trip to the Zoo so we packed a big lunch and headed out early to get there for opening. She was REALLY excited!

Kai  really does know everything there is to know about every animal, so he helped dad navigate and told us a million extra facts about what we were looking at.

There were just too many amazing experiences to tell and I missed a lot of great shots because I was laughing so hard so much of the time...but sometimes you just have to be there.

Jon and the kids make contact.

To San Diego

We dropped our mooring in Avalon in the pitch dark and headed South for San Diego. The kids were still sleeping so I made coffee and Jon and I stared at the radar until the sun rose. It was cloudy and cold and although the pre-dawn wind teased us into thinking we would get our sails up before the kids woke, this was not to be. Old Perkie was called to duty yet again. We kept a keen eye on the belts and cooed over her gauges all morning and she did just fine.The kids got up and since there was nothing but flat grey sea and sky to look at, I made scrambled eggs and bacon and we had a lazy breakfast. Jon took the watch and  Hunter and I swabbed the decks with seawater, while Kai made short work of yet another Rick Riordin book- I really ought to write that man a fan letter, because he has completely inspired Kai to be a major reader!                                                        
A clean boat is a happy boat

Around lunch the wind came up and we hoisted our new asymmetrical spinnaker. We were curious to see how Pura Vida would sail with her- the sail is a loaner and not quite the dimensions for our boat- but it worked great! We only had about 8 knots of wind and were doing 4.5... We aren't trying to win any races, just get there!


Away we go...
Still in familiar territory but moving on.
Bye Two Harbors!
barbies at sea

The weather looks good for the next two days then it seems a bit of heavy stuff is coming in from the North so we opt for setting out for San diego. We decide to spend one night in Avalon to break up the trip ( and take the kids mini-golfing). We set out at about 8am to clear skies and wind on the nose (again!). As we head out the harbor we are happy to hear friends on VHF channel 9, wishing us well on our journeys.

The kids set up in for the day (barbies and game cards) and we were off to the races. We set our course and motored towards Avalon...
Photo by Kai
Until that familiar but still unidentifiable whine came from the engine room again. Curses!  We fall off the wind and unfurl our genoa to get some sea-room and just as Jon went below to check things out, the belts started to fray. We think maybe over-tightening was the culprit - J. replaced belts and we went on our way- but we haven't ruled out a faulty alternator bearing. Our sail to san Diego tomorrow will be more telling. The wind is promising to be in our favor so hopefully we won't rely too much on Old Perkie but we will give this new issue some more thought in San Diego, for sure.

We arrive in Avalon with no more trouble and there is mini-golf ashore and dinner aboard and then we all tuck in  for a good sleep as we have an early departure for San Diego - the first new port of our trip!

Chillin' in Avalon

edible science, sharks, buffalo and water-makers

A few days of sunshine and rest, broken up by rebuilding water-makers, boat-schooling and nature walks.

Jon undertook an intimidating reassembly of all the seals on the water-maker. The booklet of step-by-step instructions was so long it actually included an order half way through (#17)  insisting the reader take a break and drink a Teacate beer. We just happened to have some on ice, so J. was able to follow the guide to the letter. We now are successfully drinking water de-salinated from the pristine ocean waters of Two harbors ( and it tests cleaner than the drinking water of Los Angels!). All of it is completely powered by our solar panels. Our dreams of living off the grid are getting closer by the day.

As we all learn to boat school the kids, we thought we would test out an edible science project. While studying seeds and germination, we grew alfalfa sprouts in a big mason jar and then ate them.

Now we are ready for long days at anchor in the sea of Cortez when fresh greens will be harder to find!

We had a huge hike up the steepest ridge on this side of the island. From the top we had a great view of the backside of Catalina, the Isthmus and Two harbors.

Kai still has a nasty cold and Hunter had on her converse so the walk down was very relaxing compared to our trek up!

 We counted five leopard sharks ( the dark shadow in the picture) in the mudflats of Cat harbor - 
luckily they didn't seem at all interested in the fisherman taking his dog for a "walk" nearby. 

We also saw five buffalo on this trek. Three of them were hanging outside the yacht club. 
Now we know why the bar here serves such awesome Buffalo burgers!

A picnic bench makes an excellent platform for a boat-yogi.


We sailed out of Marina Del Rey and it was sloppy with wind on the nose but we were ridiculously excited anyway...

The new belts made some whining noises Jon didn't like- He used a crowbar to tighten the alternator belt last time-so he spent most of the crossing canoodling with Old Perkie ( we've christened our old diesel with a name, hoping that personifying her will endear us to her and our adventure!). She must have liked the attention because she had him to herself for most of the trip but in the end caused us no problems what-so-ever. 
We had cheese and pickle sandwiches on the way over just in case anyone's tummy was weird on the first day out but the kids are salts now and spent the whole time reading and asking for more snacks.
Pura Vida's new solar panel...charges the fridge!
Landlubbers ask me about sea-sickness all the time...I stick to a few rules I learned growing up and while I know everybody succumbs to the woozie-wearies at some point, we have been good so far. My rules are simple, we break them all:

          Don't drink too much the night before.
          Don't eat greasy food the night before.
          Eat light snacks often.
          And if you do feel icky-don't stress.

It's normal. Your inner ear is adjusting, so just keep over-riding the messages your brain is sending you that something is terribly wrong. Repeat this mantra, "it's okay...This is how the ocean feels". Honestly, I spend a lot of time below, in the galley, sloshing around and if I feel odd, I reassure my body that it's "okay" that the world is surging from side to side, or up and down. I tell my anxious brain that we can function just fine in this environment. I  always seem to feel better instantly and am not bothered again. Now that I've actually said this, on our next voyage. I will of course,  become violently ill for the for the first time ever, 
I promise, full disclosure if this happens.

So, we arrive at Catalina as the sun is setting. We get our mooring, there are a few boats on the long weekend, so we know it must be festive at the bar and this being a celebration of our new adventure, we head in for a toast and an order (or two) of the world most delicious calamari.
At the bar, we see many of the locals we have come to know over the past two years of coming here. Everyone is excited for us. It feels great. We haven't gone anywhere yet but we feel we have accomplished something just by setting off.

Back to the boat and it's FREEZING tonight - it is still the middle of winter. To warm us up fast and make a hearty dinner -we are all still starving from my "light" meals all day (yummy calamari appetizers not withstanding).
Kai and Hunter are big enough to take the dingy now!
I make baked potatoes on our propane stove- 45 minutes and Pura Vida is toasty!
We also have Italian sausages sautéed with whole cloves of garlic, cherry tomatoes and fresh rosemary and thyme...
Yummy, fast and you warm up the boat!

Grinding beans for Mummy and Daddy's coffee.


The day arrives...

Outside is gorgeous. The wind had calmed down.
The forecast for Santa Monica to Catalina is fog, 15-20 on the nose and 6 foot swell- Good enough for us!
Ready or not, we're going today.
We buzz around, say goodbye to friends around the Marina...

So many nice people helped us as we blundered our way through fixing our boat and systems...
Special thanks to engine expert Ron Tamalo and everything expert Thor Fabor and the wonderful Willie of Mare sails.
And of course, everyone at the Ship's Store!



Esprit Marina, our home base for the past two years, was great.
The facility is beautiful and clean and the staff were all amazing...especially Carmen!

We started our engine and gathered our dock lines and got hugs and well wishes from all our neighbors. Even Miss Marie (Rose) who was doing some rigging on the boat next door, found the time to make Turkshead bracelets for the kids and gave us a Namaste blessing as we pulled away from the dock.



Grandma Sara takes the kids and we have a crazy day of last minute stuff.
Down to Costa Mesa to pick up a spare fresh water intake, hoses, clamps, boots for the heat exchanger and a million other bits and bobs...1600 hours into a rebuild of a 1984 Perkins and we've shored up on whatever we can think of, find and afford-just in case. I get to the sailmaker to pick up a snuffer for our new asymmetrical spinnaker, get the bimini repaired, load up at the Thai market on curry pastes, coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves, chilies, gangala root and as much black rice as I can stow. Then a big shop for fresh stuff. Even though we're only headed to Catalina tomorrow, I'm experimenting for our longer trips;
like seeing how long fresh eggs will last when stored below the water line and turned once a week in their cartons-I hear several months, but that seems impossible!
Then it's back to the boat to put things away. Meanwhile, Jon has built a workbench under our bunk with room to access our spare parts-of which there are loads. Chris M. has stopped by with 90 bucks he got for selling an antique sword ( every bit helps!) and a charger for the solar backpack. I run off to Midas ( getting the oxygen sensor on our fuel pump replaced on our now for sale Subaru) and Jay and Pedro swing by and pick me up to take me back to the boat for final hugs and giggles and they give us a new Kodak video camera that goes underwater!
Grandma Sara shows up at 7pm with the kids and 2 GO-PRO'S and mounts form Gideon...
We are shocked and amazed by the outpouring of gifts form everyone...it's been wonderful.

Some final list checking
The last supper...Chinese take-out.

Delays and Gales

It was a hectic week.
A major to-do list of last minute repairs, Jon installing our solar panel, a new SSB pactor modem and learning how the heck that all works. Suki provisioned and stowed supplies, medical kits, schooling materials, sold the bikes, old guitars, accepted the generous donations of friends and family who threw in everything from cash to solar backpacks, even an asymetrical spinnaker came our way! Ask. Put it out there. If the universe sees you are determined, things come your way. Never mind about our car breaking down... we're selling it too. Nothing can stop us now.
We had a wonderful bon voyage and sailed away..
Valentines day came and went and here we are, still at the dock.
Last minute gear delays and a nasty gale made us rethink departure. We opted to take a breath, putter around and wait for the weather.
It's the cruising life we're after, so we might as well get used to it!

so many cans!

To the galley!

24 aboard and counting!

Our favorite souvlaki guy
Sweet Kai

Jay and the lovely Irene

Everything I need to know about life, I learned from Varnishing

You're prepared. You're focused. Relax. Begin...

When you're working with varnish, you can't stop if you mess up. You just keep going until the end of the coat. That's the wet edge.  The result is a culmination of your present state of mind and your ability to accept whatever happens and not dwell on the past or the future. That's how you get a good coat. You begin, press on, do your best, stay focused and if you mess up, live with your mistakes... until the next coat (and there is ALWAYS another coat).
Then you sand, and try again...

Just like life, right?

Pura Vida was peeling through to the wood. So, it was heat guns and scraping, sanding and taping, then weeks of kneeling in the brightwork prayer. We came to enjoy crouching in unnatural positions for hours,  maintaining a clear mind and steady hand. What initially seemed like nerve-wracking physical torture grew into a sort of varnish-induced Zen meditation.