Well it never rains in Southern California…

Well it never rains in Southern California……  Ahhhh, the Angel’s Gate Light.  While this nifty historic lighthouse suggests entry into the City of Angels (Los Angeles), it is far from the high rises and actually resides in San Pedro.  Now you know!  It is at the Port of Entry for Los Angeles.  This will be our next stay.  We have been excited to meet up with our long time friend Tony, who we have now known for almost fifteen years.  We first met when John and I travelled to Roatan, Honduras for a SCUBA dive trip.  There was another couple staying there that did not want to socialize with others, a group of technical divers who didn’t associate with mere scuba divers, and there was a loud raucous bunch of guys who took great fun in laughing at everything and everybody, and then turned their attention on us.  It ended up being an even better vacation because of them and we forged long friendships.  We watched them map Spooky Channel, learned of “fin-jacking”, stuffed more adults in a car than ever should be told to our kids, and SCUBA’d in the best spots Roatan has to offer.  This was also the same group that after I had returned from the trip,  had my film developed (yes, that long ago!) and was showing my kids…I had to immediately stop (they were young and impressionable) as photos started presenting with  a lineup of eight or so “moons”!  Silly me, I had left my land camera in their safe keeping while John and I went diving… We continued to dive with Tony and his group over the years, exploring the Bahamas and even leading dives as a Colorado affiliate.  Time moved on and our friendship continued. Then the phone call came.  “Are you sitting down?” came the sweet gravelly voice.  “Tony! What’s up?!” I asked excitedly. I have often marveled how his store’s motto was “Let the adventure begin….” when really it should be ‘Adventure finds Tony, stay close!’.  His dream is to sail to Fiji (to a specific island with great needs), a country that he loves the diving but the people had endeared themselves into his heart.  Now, he had acquired an older sailboat as a gift to complete his dream.  Only Tony! People love his jolly and unassuming manner.  The advent of his sailboat brought a new dynamic into our relationship.  Now, although many miles apart, we are both planning world travels in a similar fashion.  We are now sharing the same trials and tribulations that come with owning sailboats.  Part of our plan was to stop in L.A. and help out with his boat ideas, maintenance, or anything that Tony might need.  Everyone is familiar with John’s love of boats, mechanical expertise, and the fact that he just can’t sit still.  I don’t think Tony really had a clue as to what was about to happen over the next two weeks when he offered to meet us at the Ports O’Call restaurant where we docked, so he could bring us into the marina and the slip close to his……

John and Tony at the restaurant Ports O’Call.

Tony met us at a restaurant Ports O’Call on Monday evening.  He had arranged for a slip for SV Bella Nave at his marina and close to his boat.  He texted that he would meet us at a restaurant with a harbor dock so we could tie up the boat and he would lead us through the maze of marinas to the his marina.  He was able to take off work early to meet us and would spend his two days off with us.  A nice meal to eat after our long two days journey from Morro Bay, mixed with highlights (dolphins) and brightlights (lightening storm) and fatigue, was welcomed.  It was a great time to reconnect in the same physical space.  Only this time, there are no SCUBA tanks to schlep around, no dive destination.

The USS Iowa as we traveled back towards Yacht Haven Marina.

The Port of L.A. is home to the USS Iowa, a massive battleship that now houses a museum of naval and maritime history.

HC star on the tip of the bowsprit.
Welcome aboard SV Magic!


Here she is!  Welcome aboard! SV Magic is a Hans Christian 38 MKII (79).  When I first starting researching blue water cruisers, HC’s were on top of my list. I have been in a few and I loved each of them.  Heavy displacement, solidly built, and the intense teak woodwork that the Taiwanese builders are known for.  This is the sailboat in everyone’s childhood books. As with all older boats, technology, materials, and manufacturing changed have changed over time creating a different sailboat being built today. These older boats retained their charm and are still cruising the world today, even if  some are in need of revitalizing.  Any boat of that era would need the love and time (and money) to update to our comfort levels.  SV Magic is no different.  With two previous owners that we are aware of, she has made the trip to Australia at least twice from her history.  Now, I am ready to loan Captain John out to spend time on a classic HC!  That sounds weird, doesn’t it?  Let me explain.  One- I love Hans Christian sailboats.  So to play in and around one makes me almost feel like it is mine.  Two- John cannot sit still at all. Period.  We do have a few things that we need to do on our boat such as fore and aft guys and new batteries.  Odds and ends.  Certainly not enough to keep him busy and keep him from being grumpy.  Once we were docked, we planned to meet the next morning and begin a plan.  John is always about “the plan”.

Tony has enlisted the help of his daughter Alyssa so he can keep things running smoothly.
Some real, some props, one never knows what they will find in here. Guaranteed – Tony WILL have a real story that follows each and will leave the listener enamored.
And of course, most important is Goliath! Ever faithful guardian of Tony and the shop.

One of Tony’s slip neighbors, Craig who is working on his 1978 Formosa 37 sailboat, brought us from Wilmington where the marina is, to Tony’s shop.  A big shout out to Craig as he also gave us some Yellow Fin Tuna that he had caught! We had it twice during our stay and that was some of the tastiest and easiest grilled fish ever!

Tony was a Navy hard hat diver and has more dives imaginable.  In a world of internet sales, he still runs an iconic SCUBA shop that focuses on in store customer service from purchase to service as well as SCUBA instruction and organized dive travel.  When we first met Tony’s group, they were mapping an area of Roatan known as Spooky Channel. One of the things we noted was the dive instructors and most of their students have a great sense of buoyancy control underwater.  This is not only important for their own safety but care of the reef ecosystem as well.  It was great to catch up with Roy Widney, Instructor at “the shop”.  He made the trip (at least an hour each way) to see us.  We are quickly learning about California driving.  You don’t measure by miles to estimate time.  You have this crazy algorithm that uses miles, time of day, accident calculator x amount of people on road, and then add an hour.  Something like that.  It is insane and honestly, I don’t know how they deal with it.  We thought the I-5 was bad in Washington….

John, Debbie, Sharon (Doc) and Roy Widney, Instructor.

We have a few more people that we would like to see while we are here.  One of them is none other than Sharon who is affectionately known as “Doc or Dory” and is my dive buddy.

A quick Mexican dinner to eat before Dory Land!

Sharon and I have enjoyed many dives together.  Her easygoing disposition and slightly better sense (not much better but better!) of navigation helps us to return to the dive boat.  Okay, not always our dive boat!  We find ourselves to be hugely entertaining, if to no one else, then at least to us.  Peels of laughter resonate through our regulators from feigned attacks by octopus to being run over by a loggerhead turtle. She watches over me including the time that I was blissfully unaware of the shark that swam by me as I focused on coral. I am sure she would have fended it off after taking a notable photo! Yes, we are our biggest fans too!  I now have another reason to put her on a pedestal.  A lovely weekend at “Chateau Sharon” or “Dori Land”. Her spacious sprawling home nestled in a private grove of avocado, orange, lemon and other fruit trees.  Her oasis continues with a beautiful swimming pool overlooking her private forest. If sitting in this idyllic locations wasn’t enough, our bedroom with a king size bed and beautifully tiled shower in our own bathroom made for a wonderful getaway away from the boat.  Why, they even loaned us a vehicle!  This was our boat vacation!  It would also be the only time we were out of the marina for any extended length of time.  In appreciation for their hospitality, John busted out his “hammer time”.  Bob gave John a chainsaw and Sharon gave him a license.  Then we gave him time.  Nothing like some cutting down trees for testosterone therapy.  This came after he dove the pool and did some filter work and repair that the pool company did not do.  John’s extraordinary work ethic, ability to understand and perform mechanical applications continues to amaze everyone.

18 September

Back to the marina. Yacht Haven Marina. This is not your “pleasure” marina. This is a working marina. They have their share of liveaboards, also regulated by percentage allowed. There is a small but well known breakfast and lunch cafe to serve the marinas.  There are at least 3 different marinas clustered next to each other.  There are showers that are clean enough, functional at best.  Much to John’s satisfaction and my chagrin, there is no available Starbucks. In fact, other than that small cafe that is only open for breakfast and lunch, there isn’t anything else out here.  “Ahhh Tony! You really know how to take a girl to the best places!”

Tony working on feeding wire from the top.
John receiving wire from below.
Aft panel work. Back to original plan but now much improved with room to add as Tony needs. Everything simplified and logical- and works!

Monday and Tuesday we have Tony available to guide us through SV Magic’s systems and the work that he and his friends have accomplished thus far. With Tony’s wish list in mind and their work shorts on, the guys began putting the puzzle back together.

On Wednesday, John was able to finish up the things we needed to do on SV Bella Nave.  We needed to replace the batteries.  He had these shipped and delivered to the marina.  True grunt labor as each of four batteries weighs approximately 68 pounds and one weighed 78 pounds.  Carried up a ladder on a somewhat moving platform, down a hatch and nestled into a hole is no easy feat.  Before the batteries could go in, however, the large main battery had to come out.  It weighed almost 150 pounds!  And there is only room for one person….  He installed a new and far more efficient solar panel controller called a Blue Sky Energy 3000i MPPT Solar Controller.  It increased our efficiency by 30% and thereby eliminating the need for what we anticipated to be a third solar panel. The SCUBA compressor carburetor needed attention after non use over the past year, so he cleaned both water, air, filter, cylinders and installed new filters on the compressor. He also made the fore and aft guys so that we could sail wing on wing. Now Bella Nave’s work was done.  On to SV Magic!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our plan was to be here for two weeks. During that two weeks, John would do everything he could that would help Tony the most.  He posed the question to Tony “What keeps you up at night with regard to the boat’s needs?”  The wiring had to be finished and the leaking stuffing box were two major items.  This question would be repeated a couple more times before the two weeks were up.  John went and sat on SV Magic and listened to her, absorbing her thoughts, and crafting his plan and list.  John works like a freight train at full speed.  Once started, don’t get in his way and it may not always be pretty.  There will be spreadsheets involved, and a few unrepeatable words (okay, more than a few!) mixed with massive amounts of elbow grease and sweetened with gallons of sweat.

Thursday found John sleeping in late (8am), enjoying coffee before he ambled over to SV Magic.  He was in his happy place as he sat and absorbed the projects ahead of him on SV Magic.  Here is where the mental list becomes paper (and yes on our table were paper as well as computer lists) lists of what was needed in the way of materials, where to get them, ordering some and sending lists to Tony to bring back next week as well as where to start. This is what John does best.  This is what he has been doing for a career over the last many years.  Sure there was some frustration, occasionally peppered with some less than complimentary questioning of methods. Minutes turned into hours. Hours into days.  My role is to be the gopher.  I ‘gopher this and gopher that’.  On occasion, if he can’t see the obvious answer, I magically provide it without even knowing it myself.  Female intuition?  No, more like a blind squirrel finds a nut occasionally theory.  Sometimes I provide an appendage that may possibly be sacrificed for the sake of a tighter knot, or placement of solder during a wiring project, and general surveyor of other projects to add to his list of to-dos.  I have learned to (like the game show Jeopardy)  ask about a new or different project in the form of a question.  This almost always elicits a snarky response related to more projects I am asking him to accomplish.  Then “the look”.  The look usually consists of a wrinkled nose with piercing eyes over the rims of reader glasses.  I just ignore it and go on my merry way.  I usually find “the question” becomes another item on the project list. Mostly I sat and enjoyed being on and pretending that I was the owner of a Hans Christian sailboat!  Now, some might infer that I like one boat over the other boat better.  Not true.  I really do like seeing and being on different sailboats.  Sailboats seem to have a “personality” about them.  Older sailboats seem to have more so, perhaps it is because of their history.  Each sailboat was built to be a beautiful boat in the beginning.  Not all sailboats have had the luxury of a caretaker that takes pride in his/her boat.  Some get replaced by newer, faster, shinier boats and the old boat sits and waits, hoping someone will come along and see their beauty again.  Marinas are often considered fields of lost dreams as boats bob wistfully but never to leave the dock again.  Mold envelopes them in to obscurity.

Each day looked like the other.   This is not  necessarily a bad thing.  Our plan for being here was not one of sightseeing but of helping a friend.  I am not going to list out each day, rather a few photos and maybe a general list. The daily routine was up early to catch up on news and emails, researching where to find very specific boat parts or an equivalent to order, and really strong coffee.  Then a work t-shirt for the day and he was off.  It is funny to note that most of the t-shirts John has, are from past trips with Wiley’s SCUBA Locker!  The sun didn’t set until closer to 8pm, so that would mean the work didn’t stop until then.  A shower at the marina, a bite to eat and a few YouTube videos and soon it was off to bed. This pattern repeated every day.

Monday evening Tony appeared at our door and Tuesday would find them both working together again.  Hard to believe it was only a week but during that week some amazing things happened.  Trepidation on Tony’s part began to morph into amazement of the completion of projects on ‘The List’. Much to my content when Tony was there, we would take off for some new and interesting place to eat.  YAY!  The cook’s night off!  More items were added to the list as more items were crossed off. Monday and Tuesday evenings had become our time to visit with Tony about life in general, be entertained with stories and magic tricks (for this is how SV Magic’s renaming came to be) and review the list of tasks and as always, the question of “What about the boat keeps you up at night now?”.  Bags of unneeded wire or dead wire began collecting on in the cockpit.  Panels were labeled. Instruments and lights were working. Soon another week would pass and then our time at the marina was up.  Where had two weeks gone?

Going over all the now working instruments.
One of the last sunsets over Yachthaven Marina in Wilmington, CA.

It was Monday evening when Tony joined us for the third and last time.  We had a chance to visit Mimi’s Chandlery.  WOW!  If you know what you need, this is the place to go for used and some new boat supplies, parts, and just about anything you can think of!  John continued to work through his list nearing the end of what time would allow.  On Wednesday, Tony and I began our search and drive (an adventure of itself in L.A.) to multiple electrical and marine warehouses and businesses in search of some last minute items such as line for a bridle.  We would have until Thursday morning, our day to leave Tony and SV Magic and bid fair winds and see you out there.

Have I mentioned yet that it has not rained once since we have been here?  Sunshine every day?  It has been so much fun to be around Tony, hear his stories, his adventures and oh the laughs!  As much as we enjoyed his company, I know he appreciated our being there and for the work John did. The “things about the boat that keep you up at night” were completed and working.  The list was done.  Oh, for the sake of one more week  (or as Tony says – “three more hours!”) and I can almost imagine that Tony would be sailing with us now.

SV Magic is planned to set off for Fiji in the next year or so. She will be filled to the gunwales with needs for the Fijian villagers that have embraced Tony as we have.  If you find that you would also like be a part of his adventure, you can contact him through his shop ( phone, email, website) or follow him on Facebook.  We were happy to be of some help on  ‘Adventure Project’ (SV Magic’s page on Facebook).

During the two weeks, I did more helping than I did blogging. At least I think I did.  Reflecting on the past two weeks, while it may not have seemed like the “ideal sailing adventure”, this time was special to all involved, even if it did not include seeing Disneyland or other tourist venues.  I don’t think either of us would have changed how we used the two weeks.

Here is an almost complete summary of John’s skilled efforts on SV Magic:

  • Main breaker panel (completely working).
  • Masthead Lights wired/all working (Anchor, Tri, Strobe).
  • Grounding, ground wire properly done.
  • Head- Rewired bilge switch.
  • Rewired tank monitor system.
  • Replaced all 110 volt outlets, added GFCI as required, ground wire.
  • Inspected midship fuel tank.
  • Re-fiberglassed tank fuller fitting from previous 90% breakage.
  • Rewired aft instrument panel with numerous issues.
  • Replaced breaker panels, added ground bars, ground wire.  Garmin 2010 now working.
  • Sorted working/non-working remote instruments and rewired to working.
  • Forward looking radar wired/working.
  • Old Lorance (powered/will be replaced)
  • Radar now wired/working.
  • Wiring under steps sorted, moved breaker panel to aft instrument panel.
  • Arch light now working.
  • Fuel pump now working.
  • Removed remote fuse panel and rewire main bilge pump to working.
  • Battery switches installed on panel.
  • Shifted wires/built new mounting panel.
  • Engine- checked engine oil, raw water strainer, bottles, impeller.
  • Transmission- checked oil, added.  Adjusted shift linkage.
  • Removed house batter to gain access to stuffing box.
  • Packing gland adjusted and leak fixed.  (Major item)
  • Removal of old bilge hose.
  • Masthead- wrapstop refitted and repositions. Bolts tightened.
  • Mast light removed, bulbs to be ordered/replaced.
  • Shackle replaced on Jib halyard.
  • Additional steel shackled removed from mast head.
  • Made new anchor bridle.
  • Switched heavy anchor to heavy change.
  • Moved anchor hold downs accordingly.
  • Replaced anchor shackles with galvanized steel.
  • Replaced stainless shackles and stainless swivel.
  • Replaced main sheet.
  • Replaced tracker line.
  • Traveler sheaves noted needing replacement, took apart and ordered new traveler sheaves.

6 thoughts on “Well it never rains in Southern California…”

    1. Thanks Tim! It certainly is an adventure – and boat life has its unglamorous work side! You are a lot more mechanically minded than me and would get that part! Thanks for reading and if you think of anything I could be writing on, let me know!

  1. I would call that a very busy and productive two weeks. Although no sightseeing listed; I’m betting friend, Tony, was more than pleased with the upgrades, improvement and accomplishments done. I’m just imagining the cost he would have shelled out had he hired someone to do all that and how long would it have taken. I’m sure it is all to the very best of John’s ability and knowing John, that has to be ‘perfect’. Great that you had time with Doc and her friend and enjoyed her accommodations as well. Now onward and some additional fun stuff.
    PS I’m thinking another hernia moving those batteries. Yes, Holy moly!
    Love and happy trails or wakes as the case may be. Mom

  2. Holey moly is wright. It was fantastic to see you and John again. I was looking forward to Bella Naves visit. I thought we would be doing typical tourist circute , Disneyland, Hollywood, visit other friends. That bib not happen. Wow, John is gold medel Olympic athletic in boat stuff. Holy Moly is the perfect response when you see him focusing on a job. I will never be able to thank the two of you for all help getting Magic ready for the upcoming adventure. My planed departure date is still a year away . My hope is that we will cross wakes many times in the future.
    Thank you.

    1. And hopefully you know that it was con me gusto, all our pleasure Tony. Disneyland can’t compare to Dori-land, and YOU are the only Hollywood we need. We missed seeing a few friends but thankfully have social media and will one day cross paths with them again. The thanks will come when we meet again across the water! and ahhh….if only John had one more week there…. 😉

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