Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Haul Out

We hauled out yesterday in the evening, had a nice dinner, and had our first sleep on the hard. When we awoke this morning it was pouring down rain- not ideal for bottom painting. We went to a local deli to get some breakfast and the clouds parted. It was amazing. The rain stopped and the sun came out. We went back to the boat and got to work. After seeing the boat out of the water we decided not to take the hull down to wood. We decided we will haul out in about 6 months and wood it down then. We will need to do some frame repair at that time so it just makes sense to take the old paint off at that point. So the tasks we got completed today are as follows:

-knocked off all loose paint in preparation for paint
-painted 1 coat of cheap anti-fouling bottom paint on the bottom
-sanded transom
-inspected planks for shifting and/or rot- everything looks good!

It was a pretty successful day in my opinion. We will be bleaching and varnishing the transom tomorrow. AND since we didn't have to grind off the bottom I still get to go out tonight and celebrate with friends!

Rain, rain, go away! 
 Transom before
 Bow before
 Side view before
 Close up
 Bow after painting with tape on
 Side view after paint with tape
 Taking tape off
 After paint!
 After paint side view

 Transom mid way through sanding
 Still sanding
After sanding

Friday, October 29, 2010

Deep Dark Secret

No one wants to talk about the things that are wrong with their boat. A wooden boat is an unusual beast. There are so many factors that just aren't there on a fiberglass boat. Our deep dark secret is that we have cracked frames. Now, at first this is a very alarming fact. However, after a brief consultation with a wooden boat expert, my worries have been calmed, if only a bit. He seemed to think they looked normal for the age and construction of the boat. I mean, they aren't going to fix themselves, but our boat probably won't sink tomorrow. (Knock on wood) Don't get me wrong, this isn't something new. They have probably been broken since 6 months after the boat was splashed in 1964, but it is still very unsettling. The truth of the matter is that steam bent frames break. It isn't a matter of if, it's when.

So we are hauling the boat out today to get a better look at her. She hasn't been out the water for about 5 years (long overdue). We have never seen her out of the water so it will be good to get to know her underneath the water. I would like to spend this weekend drinking too much and making bad decisions but the reality is that we will never be ready to leave if we don't get some work done.

List of things to do this weekend:
-burn off all of the old bottom paint
-sand down to wood
-inspect planks and seams
-2 coats of epoxy barrier (we are using Interlux 2000)
-2 coats of anti-fouling paint (using Interlux Ultra)
-inspect and replace all thru hulls and sea cocks
-sand and varnish transom

Should be a fun way to spend Halloween! What do you think?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dumpster diving, free swag!

Matt and I went to the local farmers market yesterday on our 1966 Honda S90 scooter. It was the first nice day in a week or so. We drove around a bit then parked by the launch ramp. The launch ramp in San Diego is amazing. People have no idea what to do when they get there and they panic. There are people crashing boats into their cars or forgetting the fact that cars do not drive underwater. I recommend driving down there on a Saturday afternoon and just watch. It's the best 20 minutes of free entertainment that you can find around here.

Anyway, after we were finished laughing at people's stupidity we went back to the dinghy dock and locked up the bike completely forgetting about the sausages in the saddlebag. Well, some hours later, we had to leave our nice warm dry boat, get in the dinghy, walk up the dock, across the yard to the bike. Then,  all of a sudden it was like we found the pot of gold at the bottom of the rainbow. Except instead of a pot of gold it was a dumpster...and there was no rainbow.

Now go with me here, some people may not be too keen on sifting through other people's waste but given the right dumpster in the right location it can be a gold mine! Given as this dumpster was in a boatyard where there were a boat load (pun intended) of people leaving the next day for the Baja haha- it was the right dumpster. Winnings listed as follows:

-full size Weems & Plath trawling oil lamp, used once, maybe
-2 quarts of lamp oil, unopened
-sail bag for swag
-camping lantern with working batteries
-perfectly varnished teak swim ladder with foot grippys
-super awesome extra large pirate flag, folded in package, never opened
-spare 40lb anchor

Ahaaa, sweet sweet sausages!

(Sorry for the poor photo quality. Took this with my phone.)

Saturday, October 23, 2010


It is unofficial officially- our goal is to leave in exactly 1 year. Next October will be our kick off date. Not sure which date but I can promise you it won't be a Friday; any other day is fine. Now I just have to find a million bucks and we'll be ready to leave. Fingers crossed.
(Ellen Louise sailing with the Cimarron in SD bay) 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

American's Love Lists and I'm American Damnit!

List of things to do:

Miscellaneous awesome stuff we can't afford yet:
Wind vane
New sails

Things we can probably get soon...maybe:
Install manual foot pumps for sinks
New glass for hatches
Canvas for dodger/sail cover/cushions

Haulout (whenever my boss at the boatyard feels like giving them away): 
Sister cracked frames
Inspect thru hulls
Bottom paint
Replace cutlass
Replace transducer 

Deck recaulk
Varnish cabin sides, hand rails, dorade boxes, mast, boom, toe rail, ect. 
More solar
Wind generator (this should be in the can't afford section)

Repaint everything that looks like crap 
Possibly get a fridge but we are discussing the pros and cons of living without one
Get extra comfy foam for sleeping berths!

Items that will make life more enjoyable:
Fold down tv/dvd player for v-berth
Better camera
Upgrade of GPS and Autopilot 
Books/Movies/Music (even though we have too much already including a record player)

I'm sure I will think of more later but this is a good start.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Who we are

I grew up in the Chesapeake bay region of Maryland. I was around boats and sailing all along. My parents took me sailing as a baby but the first time I really fell in love with the water was at age 10 or 11. That summer my dad took me along on a friend's boat for an afternoon sail. I can't remember the make or length, all I remember was the boat was heeled over, the rail was in the water, and I loved it. The next fall I joined my school's sailing team. I was allowed to join the practice team but didn't start racing until 9th grade (age 13). I knew nothing would ever be the same after that first season. I traveled all up and down the East Coast of the USA competing in Junior sailing events. Late in high school (age 17) I started racing in larger boats, J22s and J24s mostly. It wasn't until I moved to California that I started sailing on real yachts

When I got to California I didn't know anyone who had a boat. I didn't even know anyone who knew anyone with a boat. In fact, didn't really know anyone. I started searching crew lists to find someone willing to take me out for a PHRF race. (For those non-sailors, PHRF stands for Performance Handicap Racing Fleet. It is basically a rating system that allows dissimilar boats to compete against each other fairly.) I found a boat on the internet that seemed friendly enough and needed crew. I jumped at the chance. I raced with them for about a year until I met Matt.

Matt grew up in rural Ohio. Although he was not raised around boats he had the thirst to be near the water very early. He bought his first boat at age 16. It was nothing special; your garden variety great lakes trailer sailor, but he sailed it every chance he got. After moving to Tennessee for a bit he decided it was time for something new. He signed up for a sailing school in Gibraltar and moved shortly there after. He quickly moved up the ranks and soon earned himself a Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Yacht Master 200 ton sail endorsement. After he got his Yachtmaster certification the school asked him to become an instructor. Almost every week for the following 3 years he taught everything from Day Skipper to Yachtmaster instructor, also finding time to teach classroom classes about celestial navigation, charts, and VHF radios.

During the time Matt was teaching in Gibraltar and living in Spain he was always thinking about buying another sailboat. Eventually he found his perfect sailboat in California. He was sold. He put in his notice at the sailing school and packed everything up. He moved to California and bought the boat immediately. She needed a bit of work but it was nothing insurmountable. He worked on the boat nonstop staying focused on his goal of a solo-circumnavigation... until he met me.

How we met:
It was the first race in the Hot Rum series hosted by the San Diego Yacht club. I was set to race with the same boat I always raced with but there was a kink. We were beginning to rig the sails up when someone noticed the goose neck (where the boom connects to the mast) was completely separated and had somehow completely come apart. We decided it wasn't worth risking doing any further damage so the boat didn't go racing that day. However, since this was an unusually breezey day for Southern California the boat across the dock was short handed and asked if a couple of us would come along on their boat. I said yes.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the neighborhood there was another boat that was also short handed. The crew from the other boat stopped by the local coffee shop to stock up on caffeine  and bagels. Matt was quietly sitting on his lap top in the corner waiting for his clothes to dry in the Laundromat around the corner. One of the crew recognized Matt from around the neighborhood and asked if he wanted to come sailing. He said yes.

It was the most amazing day out on the water. It was sunny, big swell, nice steady wind, one problem, the wind keep blowing the marks out of place and the race committee canceled the race half way through. Everyone was bummed but looking forward to drinking some Hot Rum at the yacht club race party. All the boats turned around and went back to their resting places. I went to the after race party with my new crew and Matt with his. People from his boat knew people from my boat and after a few Rums we finally met. 

That was it, I knew I was hooked and we have never looked back.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I can't find my other shoe!?

Living aboard is a dream many people share but they have no idea how good it can really be. Moving onboard enabled me to do all the things that I had previously wanted to but didn’t think I could. It allowed me to quit my cubicle job because I didn’t have my expensive beach community rent. I sold my nice car and now I ride a scooter. Without any real financial obligations I was finally able to focus on enjoying my life.  

Sailing off into the sunset is just a dream for some people but we make it a lifestyle. Since 2008 we have been combining a simple and natural life with a quest for adventure. I have a million dollar view that I don’t have to sell if I don’t like my neighbors. Other liveaboards are however one of the best things about life aboard. The diverse community includes all types of people from every background who are all brought together by their common thirst for adventure and love of the water. My experience has been mainly living in a mooring community but my experiences transcend locations. Someone once said, ‘home is where your heart is’ and my heart is in sailing. 

People choose to live this type of lifestyle for lots of reasons but for us it was because we love sailing and it is the logical next step. Liveaboards are passionate about their vessel and take pride in their lifestyle. For me, passion led me to my life on board. It is simple and fun. For anyone who ever wanted to live in a tree house when they were a kid or went camping and didn’t want to go back to real life, living aboard is for you.  

When I was a kid I knew that if I got caught doing something bad by a neighbor that it would get back to my mother before I was home. In today’s society it seems that the modern suburban neighborhood has lost that community feel. I missed that feeling of security knowing that my next-door neighbor would look out for my house when no one was home. I have been searching for that community feeling ever since my family moved out of my childhood home. I finally found that community once again when I moved aboard.  

For me the lifestyle doesn't just end at living on a boat though. The endless travel possibilities to take our home anywhere in the world keeps me excited all the time. Cruising the world is the next goal for us. Whether anchoring out locally for the night or circumnavigating the globe, I have the comfort of my own bed no matter what edge of the earth I end up on. There is simplicity in this chosen lifestyle that gives me peace. We are not tied to our material possessions (other than our boat of course) and I think we get to experience a lot more of life because of that. 

For some people it is hard to get rid of furniture and assorted unused attic treasures. Lots of liveaboards keep a storage unit on land for years because they think they will miss or need their things. I am not one of those people. My entire sleeping berth is smaller than my old closet. Land dwellers ask me, ‘doesn’t it get crowded with so little space?’ I tell them, 'yes, sometimes it does'. Even though our boat has less interior living space than the smallest studio apartment that you can find, it has perks that usually only an elite few can claim. It has a waterfront view, teak floors, skylights, and a large waterfront patio with a barbecue grill. Everything has it’s own place and most things have more than one function.

However, there are issues almost every time Matt and I go out somewhere. Most frequently I can only find one shoe. Matt says I don't need all my shoes but I am not ready to let go of all of my indulgences quite yet. 

About the Boat: Ellen Louise

When you think about boats you might think of a million dollar yacht with crew cabins and all the luxuries that come with it. Or you might think of a pirate ship. Who knows. Our boat is neither. It is a teak hulled 1964 Cheoy Lee Robb 35'. It was designed and built in Hong Kong as a blue water cruiser. It has spruce spars (mast/ boom) and enough varnish to employee a small army full-time.

Picture taken during Yesteryear race in SD bay. My friend Robin on the left, Me on the right.

Some people might be asking, "Why bother with an old wooden boat?" Well, it's not for everyone but it is totally worth it; the feel while she is sailing, the smells when we get home, the look- it all makes wood our only option.

Sailing San Diego Bay

Original markings from the boat yard in Hong Kong

Hull Type: Long KeelRig Type: Masthead Sloop
LOA: 35.50LWL: 24.00Beam: 10.00
Draft (max.) 6Draft (min.)Listed SA: 587
Displacement: 14880Ballast: 4700
Designer: Arthur Robb
Builder: Cheoy Lee Shipyard Ltd.(HK)
Hull: WoodBal. type: Iron
First Built: 1961Last Built:Number Built:

I: 41.00J: 14.00P: 37.00
E: 16.00PY:EY:
SA(Fore.): 287.00SA(Main): 296.00Total(calc.)SA: 583.00
SA/Disp: 15.48Est. Forestay Len.: 43.32

BUILDERS (past & present)
More about & boats built by:  Cheoy Lee Shipyard

More about & boats designed by:  Arthur Robb

Before and after teak cleaning.

Sailing back from Catalina. Cody and Larry trimming, me driving.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Secret Ambition

Remember how in high school they made you answer all those stupid questions for the yearbook that you are supposed to cherish forever? Well, my yearbook is buried in a basement somewhere 2500 miles away and I couldn't tell you one thing anyone wrote in their Senior photo section. However, I can remember the questions. There was the usual favorite quotes and what do you want to be when you grow up. I probably wrote something perfectly cliche for my quote then said I want to become something totally unrelated to anything I am actually interested in doing. But everyone's favorite question was, "What is your secret ambition?" This question is the favorite because it opens the door to so many possibilities. Most people put funny answers like, 'To become Britney Spears' best friend' or something lame like that, but not me. My secret ambition was, 'To sail away into the sunset and never return.'

Fast forward a number of years and I have decided that becoming that thing that I was never interested in to begin with sucks. I have decided to go with plan B: Sail away into the sunset and never return (figuratively, at least not return to any sort of conventional lifestyle). So there it is, my new plan for the next few ten's of years. The countdown has begun. Together with my boyfriend Matt, we will start planning for our circumnavigation around the world.

The way I figure it, all we have to do is go south, hang a right at some point and never look back. Something tells me it is going to be a bit more complicated....