Showers? Not so fast…

If its not raining its pouring, and on a boat that means something that shouldn’t be getting wet is.  Finally able to enjoy a hot shower, and we have a pretty spacious one for a boat,


I noticed a bit of water trickling into the bilge from the shower floorpan.  Upon inspection it turns out some of the caulk is giving way.  Ok, no big deal I think.  But it seems the PO (“previous owner” or putz originale in this case) had seen the issue and used silicone to try to stop up the leaks.  Silicone on a boat is a general no-no.  Once you put it on something it makes that thing so slick that nothing else will stick to it, even more silicone caulk when the leak comes back.  The only way to remove the old silicone is to scrub, scrub, scrub, and scrub it again with nasty chemicals that help lift it up.  Even when you can’t see it, these chemicals pull more of it out of the surface somehow.  So after pulling strings of all the old stuff out and scrubbing like mad, I caulked it up anew with better boat goo and closed it all back up.  Who would have thought it would have been a whole Manhattan Project to get to the point of being able to shower in this boat?


Now, hopefully, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Hot Showers, Yay!

This is a fairly technical post, so if you only want to read about lifestyle stuff, skip on ahead.  This boat came to us wired for European electricity.  That means 220V, but more problematic, 50hz systems.  The boat works by having a bank of huge batteries that most stuff runs off of.  The batteries are charged by (i) plugging into shore power (big electric outlets at a dock), (ii) running the engines or generator or (iii) solar.  A 220V cannot plug into US (or Mexican) shore power.  So while the boat was in Mexico, we relied on the solar panels to keep the batteries topped up.  It worked because we weren’t there and there was almost nothing using power.  Once we got it back to the US, we would have to do something about it.  That’s where mad electrical scientist Mark Yerex comes in.


Neko’s patron saint


Mark flew down to SF from Seattle and over the course of a weekend, he and I wired the boat to handle 120V power of the type found in the US and many other places.  This involved a new shore power inlet.  IMG_5808

120V wiring up to a new charger/inverter (this is a device that charges batteries and converts DC battery power to AC power to run appliances) and wiring out to new 120V AC outlets (just like in your house) throughout the boat to go with the European outlets already there (the ones with two round prongs).


Sounds a lot simpler than it was, but now we could plug into a dock like a normal American boat and keep the batteries charged up and run the various appliances on the boat (lights, refrigerators, stereo, outlets for computers, etc.).  Things were getting closer to normal.  However, two issues remained:  1) the laundry could only run on the old 220V system.  That is not a big deal so we left it as is. We’ll just run the generator whenever we want to do laundry.   2) We couldn’t make hot water with our newly introduced shore power.  (I am finally getting around to what this post was supposed to be about).  This was a problem since showering involved walking up the dock to the communal showers – not to mention not having hot water to wash dishes, etc.

Our water heaters (we have one in each hull) made hot water when the engines (we have one of those in each hull too) were running or when 220V electricity was available (from a European dock or the generator).  They were not wired to accept 120V electricity even after the aforementioned total rewire.  Don’t ask why, its just the way it was.  Sooooo, re-enter Master Yerex advising by telephone.  With his tutelage, I created a new switch box with two 3-way rotary switches.  I led a new 120V wire from the inverted to a breaker and then to this new box and installed the box in spare space in a cabinet.  The rotary switches have positions for 120V, 220V and off.  There is one for each water heater.  Then with a few tweaks to the water heaters and double checking and testing all the wiring, we were ready to go.   Fire it up and give it several hours for the tanks to heat up, and voila!


Trust me, it is HOT!



Day 1

Holy cow, what a couple of weeks!  Right on schedule, the Economous

Park City ski gang


and the Prince clan along with old standby Chad Markle showed up in Park City for our annual ski weekend.  Even though snow was scarce in Park City, we had a fabulous time.  The kids are such good skiers and boarders now that the old folks are relegated to just trying to keep up.  The very same day everyone left, Mary and I packed up the house and animals and embarked on the 2-day trip back to SF.  We had sold our house while in Park City, so we had one week to get back to SF, get rid of a lot of stuff and pack the rest for storage or transport to the boat.  Once we got back home a frenzy of giving stuff away, selling a few things and packing the rest began.  We filled a 24 foot truck with stuff and jammed it into a small storage unit in Sacramento, where it will live for the foreseeable future.

Edward and Anne graciously agreed to store my motorcycle until I could pick it up.  Mary and I packed the car and truck to the gills with stuff we would have to find a way to store on the boat.  (LA is so car-centric that even a boat slip comes with two parking spots).  She drove the car and took Mr. Kitty and I drove the truck and took Lucy.  After a grueling drive, we unpacked into the night.  Our remaining earthly belongings were scattered about outside on the deck of our boat.  We couldn’t go any farther and crashed for the night.  Lots left to do, but we had made the transition.  Let the new life begin!


We’ve been here what seems a pretty long time now.  I don’t think we are tired of it yet, though, and I have been doing a lot of skiing even if there has not been a ton of snow.  However, its always nice to have guests.  This past weekend Mal arrived with his 4-year old daughter, Alexa, to teach her to ski.

Mal and Alexa ready to go skiing.

Mal and Alexa ready to go skiing.

We had a few great days of skiing.  Alexa was very interested in the kids’ terrain park and special runs through the trees.  Her instructor said she was a great skier who only had to work on her parallel turns.

On the Town Lift

On the Town Lift

Next weekend we get the Economous, Scholz, the Princes and Chad back together again.  Its a reprisal of our yearly Snowbird weekend, except this year we are doing it at Park City.  Lets hope its as fun as it always is.  Here’s a little video Mary cut of the 2012 trip:

Powder at PCMR

Finally got some powder on the mountain at Park City.  And I was able to try out the new Armada JJ’s that Christy was so nice to bring out from San Francisco.



After very little snow, we got a fresh 10″ or so overnight and I was out the door as soon as the lifts were running.


That pole is pushed straight down into the snow

Got a bunch of fresh tracks and finally found the courage to explore Jupiter Bowl alone.  I know, sounds wussy-ish, but as it was slick and fast I did not want to take the chance of slipping off of something without anyone with me.  Now with tons of soft powder it seemed tame.  I spent some time in the trees and jumping down the steeps.  I have to say these powder skis make all the difference in the world.  They just float on top and carve nice and easy.  It’s night and day compared to my other skis, which are not skinny by any stretch.  Any way, good day.

I have asked Mary to write a blog post, but since we’ve signed a contract to sell our house, she is busy with packing, moving, storing, selling, changing addresses and a host of other things.  She is the busy ant to my grasshopper.

Ten Days Into Our Park City Sojourn

Sundance 2013

Movie time

So we’ve been here about ten days so far, and are in the thick of the Sundance Film Festival.  I spend about 90% of my time skiing and 10% film-going.  Mary is 100% films.  PCMR got about a foot of snow a few days before we got here and so I got busy skiing as soon as possible.  However, the weather settled and a temperature inversion set in which drove temps on the mountain into the 40s.  Over the last week the snow has steadily withdrawn from the slopes.  It has gone from powder, to hardpack, to manmade and now to rocks and dirt anywhere other than the few groomed runs where they make snow.  As I write this, we have had rain today and the temps have remained above freezing.  Needless to say, the snow SUCKS right now!

IMG_3941This is a fun mountain to ski, especially during the film festival when the hotels are filled with Hollywood-types who generally don’t ski.  It doesn’t quite have the terrain of Snowbird or Alta, but is plenty challenging for me.  It has a lot of terrain that is just past the intermediate range, perfect for trying to push yourself to the next level.  There was a lot of mining activity on this mountain in the 19th and early 20th century.  The many abandoned old mining structures provide a nice visual change of pace.


A tower for an old cable bucket ore carrier used to bring ore down from the mountain via cable and bucket.

Park City Mining JunkI had hoped to improve my skiing considerably while here, but so far its been pretty much a washout due to lack of the slippery white stuff.  Snow due in the next few days, so let’s keep fingers crossed.

SF – Park City

So, the holidays are over and all our guests have departed and it was time to start our odyssey.  You may recall from a prior post (if I mentioned it) that we are first going to spend a little more than a month in Utah to ski and partake of the Sundance Film Festival.  Well, we thought it would be a good idea to drive our decrepit 22-year old Land Cruiser out there packed with a cat and a dog and enough stuff to live for a month.

Waiting for his driving shift

Waiting for his driving shift

Given the tender condition of our truck and our pets, we decided to cut the trip into two days of about 6 hours travel each.  It took a little longer because on the inclines our old truck could only do about 50mph.  Its pretty embarrassing when big rigs pass you going up a hill, but we eventually made our first stop.


I don’t know if you can see that but we woke to -19F and fog in Winnemucca Nevada.  Apologies to anyone who hails from this shangri la, but this place is a good approximation of hell – depressing gambling town with topography that looks like, and weather worse than, Mars.  We got out the next day as soon as we could get the truck started.  After another long day of driving, we pulled into Park City and unloaded into our little rental and Mary set about planning her film adventure and I broke out the Park City trail map.  Let the games begin.


That’s the word of the day for this couple who gave up their careers in their prime to travel, see the world and live a little more robustly while still relatively young.  Now, don’t get me wrong:  this is not fear or worry or doubt.  We have been working toward this for years and are confident in our plan.  But quitting your job and planning to live off earnings and savings for an indefinite period is a bit like jumping out of an airplane with an untested parachute.

IMG_4785 The design says it will work, but you just don’t know before you leap. Of course, if we are wrong, we just go back to work and not splat on the ground, but you get the point.  So as this odyssey gets started, we are surprisingly feeling a bit of trepidation about whether we are doing the right thing, or doing this thing right.  I think its just because we are in between ending work and starting our travels that allows the mind to play its tricks.

SF – LA Trip

We kept this boat in Mexico for a year, and would fly down when we could to use it.  But that was less than ideal for two busy San Franciscans.  So Mike Priest brought it up for us in 2011.  We used it a lot more in SF.  As the outlines of our plan began to emerge, we decided we would participate in the 2013 Baja HaHa (more on that in a subsequent post) to get to Mexico.  With me retiring at year end, we decided the first step would be to put the house on the market and relocate (us and the boat) to LA.  This would give us a new city to explore, Mary the opportunity to work a bit before we go and put us in striking distance of San Diego, where the Baja HaHa starts in October.  We had a very foggy and cold summer in San Francisco, with little of the usual beautiful Indian summer in Sep/Oct, so we decided to get the boat to LA sooner rather than later.

Perfect foggy send off from SF

Perfect foggy send off from SF


Please, nobody jump.

We left with our friends Judy and Torben,

Torben and Judy were a BIG help

Torben and Judy were a BIG help

experienced cruisers from S/V Tivoli, on September 23, planning to do day hops down the coast and arriving in LA in about a week.  However, we got to our first stop – Half Moon Bay – in cold, dripping-wet fog and decided to speed things up a bit.  We left at 4 am the next morning for a 60+ hour leg to get below the reach of the marine layer.  We were hoping to make Santa Barbara but after tacking back in about 80 miles out, we made Cojo Anchorage and settled for a rest there.  This is a small indentation in the coast loaded with kelp and sea lions.   There were two old sailboats washed up on the rocky beach.  Although it was a comfortable anchorage, I will never get used to the west coast habit of anchoring in the slightest dent in the coast.  Back east we usually opt for much better protected harbors.  But I guess there are fewer unpredicted storm systems here and conditions in an anchorage are pretty predictable.   The only other boats there were a coast guard boat on its mooring and a large sportfisher, whose crew paddled in later to surf the shore break.


Happy to have the anchor down

We left the next morning and had an easy sail to Santa Barbara where we took a slip in the compact local marina.  We partied a bit in the Santa Barbara Yacht Club where Mary was given the royal treatment for representing a yacht club 3000 miles away.  Little did they know that the Orient Yacht Club is an old potato loading shack at the end of a wharf.  Then a little 14th anniversary celebration for us (what more could a gal ask for?) and off to bed.  Definitely want to return to this picturesque little harbor.  We have visited several times via land but there is something different about visiting a place by boat.

14th Anniversary in Santa Barbara!! Yay

14th Anniversary in Santa Barbara!! Yay

After Santa Barbara, one night at the beautiful and secluded (yet so close) Santa Cruz island and our first battle with the kelp monster.


Kelp Monster


Santa Cruz Island


Same spot

And then it was on to Catalina island.  This is a fun little throw-back kind of place that we will visit again while stationed in LA.  It was fun to think that it was so rustic yet so close to the bustling metropolis of LA.


Torben and Judy cutting a rug

Hey, buddy watch those hands!

Hey, buddy watch those hands!


Cat Harbor, Catalina

The 4 Amigo's (1024x768)

The 4 Amigos

Next morning brought a lazy and easy sail up to our new home in Marina del Rey.


Sunny snoooooooooze

And we were there.  Now that the boat is in LA, we’ll have to work on getting ourselves down there.  First we’ve got to sell this house.  Then its off to Park City for Mary to do here Sundance Film Festival thing (little known fact – few movie people ski and the slopes are EMPTY during Sundance).  Then in March, we’ll relocate to the boat.

A First Post

This blog is and will remain a work-in-progress – partly because we have no idea how to do it and expect it to evolve over time as we figure it out.  So you may see posts come and go, be edited, have pictures added or deleted (if someone thinks they don’t look good), etc.  Bear with us.  It is primarily intended to provide family and friends an easy way to know what we are up to.  There may be technical or sailing-related items, but take them with a grain of salt since we don’t know what we are doing.  There are three authors on this account:  Pete, Mary and Neko – which should be considered both of us.


Escaping Alcatraz

We also hope to interact with people so please feel free to leave comments in the comments section and we’ll try to respond.  There may be a way to private message us on and if you figure it out and send us one, I am sure it will notify us.  Otherwise, for private emails, see how to email us in the About Us section.