And we are off…

The beginning- leaving Tacoma

As it happens to the best, it can happen to anyone. For two years we have maintained a checklist of preparations to take the boat off the dock. Since it has become routine and committed to memory- the list is really a guideline. Every time the boat came off the dock- the same things happened in the same order. Predictable. Perfunctory.

This is the day. The day we talked about, share with others, saved for. We went through the motions. Beautiful and clear blue skies after the weeks of wildfire haze and no rain seemed like the perfect send off. SV Bella Nave backed into the fairway, turned and gave a farewell ring of the brass bell announcing our entrance into the waterway.  Next stop would be the fuel dock and to pick up our friend Ivan in time to ride the current out of Puget Sound.

Fuel dock went well, met Sam who is working actively towards his dream of taking off on his sailboat adventure. At Rock The Dock, Ivan and Leslee waited. We scooped him up, more hugs well, because somebody started hugging and there everybody was hugging, not sure why. We took off again.

Back at the fuel dock, Deb noticed the boat seemed to have more exhaust than usual and remarked to John. Noted. However shortly after we were underway with Ivan, Deb didn’t see the set crab pot ahead…

Whoops! That could have been bad to get caught up in the propeller! Crabbing hasn’t been that great in the bay over the pst couple years per the regulars. Not many pots were out now. But there was one now! One lonely one in all that water! Nailed it! Thankfully Capt’n John caught sure and threw the engine in neutral… and that’s when he noticed then engine temp. Before you could say “Oh sh**!”, he had the engine off, covers off, headlamp on and in his knees.

“What does a Diesel engine need Capt’n Ron”? Fuel, air and……water.  The sea cock hadn’t been turned on. One of our best safety measures- the engine key kept near the sea cock as a reminder to open. For unknown reasons he had grabbed the spare key thus leaving the engine dry of its much needed cooling process. Ugh. Okay- these things seem to come in 3’s. Now to be vigilant. As always, Ivan can find the humor in any situation to brighten the mood. We just had to wait for the opportunity to present the humor to the captain! The only victim was the impeller.

Is this for decoration?

As the winds were light for this boat- 15kn winds are ideal- we motored merrily along as Ivan taunted Capt’n John about various topics, including one what it was like to sail on SV Bella Nave.  Our arrival into Port Townsend came about 7:30pm. We would meet Leslee again and she would leave with Ivan after breaking bread one last time.  Port Townsend has a mesmeric charm and it has never been lost to us as we visited. Neither did this time, our last time. Leaving friends is always hard.  One last hug. Or two. Or three. Time for bed so we could be up early to begin the travel to Neah Bay.

“Okay, that’s great – but then where do you go?”

Okay, okay.   Now you know what the worst thing a sailor can have on a boat is, right?  Yes, a schedule.  But you are pressing me so one of our bucket list places is Easter Island.  Hmmm…..sounds familiar you say?  Yeah, you know, the place with the really big stone heads that no one knows how they got there.  Well, we are not sure we will find out why when we are there but it sounds like a great sail to get there.  Now time for some math.  Lets convert to nautical miles for the next conversation. 3100nm. From Zihuatanejo to Easter Island. 3100nm. With our hull speed of 7nm/hour or 100 miles per dayin best conditions.  That would give us 31 days of travel with optimal conditions.  Traveling night and day.  Trading shifts or “watches” of 3-4 hours each.   Crazy, right?  Just to see some stone heads?  Just wait for that post and photos!

“Hey, since you are headed that way, what about the Galapagos?!”  Yeah, I know.  Trust me, it was on my list.  I mean, I really wanted to go there.  As we started to read more, listening to others experiences, we decided it wasn’t really that high on our list.  For anyone who goes there -fantastic!  Enjoy it!  We just didn’t want to deal with the permits, the bureaucracy and the end cost.

One of the many positive aspects in our boat purchase on the west coast is the course we will be sailing.   Cook Islands, French Polynesia, Papua New Guinea.  So many wonderful islands that are rich in reefs and perfect for SCUBA.  To help tie this in, remember Captain John is a certified (SSI, SDI/TDI) SCUBA instructor.  Likewise, I am a certified (SSI, SDI/TDI, PADI), assistant SCUBA instructor.  Together we have done a ton of diving, teaching and making lifelong friends.  We are really looking forward to spending quality time under water with brightly colored fish and soft corals. We will want to spend as much time as possible there before sneaking out of the Southern Hemisphere before the storm season hits. This will likely find us in Hawaii for the winter.

I know, I know.  I am not really feeling that you are sympathetic to my cause…..

And so it begins…….

….with the resignation from our respective positions.  Again.  You would think that it gets easier but it doesn’t. At least not in my case.  I have typically been one of “those” people that settles into a position, nesting, and staying awhile. The reality of this voyage has not quite sunk in – wait, poor choice of words…..I haven’t completely wrapped my mind around it yet. Captain John however, has been ready for 15 years.  SV Bella Nave has been ready for a year.  Hmm….maybe I am more of an anchor than I thought!  It was always a goal and the time as come to untie the lines.

I am not sure if my colleagues, friends, family think I am adventurous or out of my mind. Sometimes it seems there is a very thin line between both.  There is so many great YouTube videos of young couples, older couples, families- all living aboard and abroad. I would encourage anyone who wonders who would, why would they and how do they do this to watch S/V Delos, Sailing Zatara, Sailing Catalpa, MJ Sailing, Sailing LaVagabonde to name a few. We plan to do some as well and hope to have a following, if for no other reason than to have a respite from the daily grind.

So bookmark this site and keep checking back often!


Debbie and Captain John

“Where are you going?”

That’s a fairly loaded question.  How much time do you have for me to answer?  Short answer?  Look at the map below.  Long answer follows.  Our travel plan was actually made for us when we chose to purchase our sailboat.  Originally, we were looking on the East Coast with a plan to sail through the Bahamas, Caribbean and the places we have loved to SCUBA.   Since those sailboats did not exist at the time or were sail worthy that we found there we continued our search throughout the US.  SV Bella Nave was waiting for us in Poulsbo, WA.  We changed our plan  and direction of travel.

Our intended direction will be to leave from Washington, or more specifically Neah Bay, WA. Watching wind, weather, and tides we will head offshore in a similar fashion to the famous CoHo HoHo who will be following up on our stern. This time of year is best for traveling down the beautiful West Coast.

We may have an opportunity to meet up with John’s sister, Becky, in Oregon if we pull in for various reasons such as sleep deprived, need to fix something (“it’s a boat”).  As I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting her or her husband, this would be very cool.  I have no idea when the next time would be!  She has already informed us of the craziness about to ensue due to the Solar Eclipse of 2017.  Thank you, no, but we should ahead of that happening. Not that I wouldn’t want to see it, just not with hundred thousand of my not so dearest friends.

The next stop would likely be San Francisco! San Francisco Bay!   The Golden Gate Bridge! We understand this is a sailor’s bucket list item and of course we want to experience it. We will keep you posted if it is, indeed, as amazing as it is reported to be.

Our plan is to drop in on a dear friend, also refitting a sailboat, as we seemed to be a similar paths again after 15 years!  So we may spend a week or so with Tony.  If you are ever in California, specifically the Riverside area and plan on diving, look up Anthony Wiley’s SCUBA Locker.

Then it happens…… (Cue the Mariachi’s, bring out the tequila……)  we will check in to Mexico! Ensenada, La Paz are on the itinerary as we prepare to check in and settle in for the next few months.