Friday, December 31, 2010

Staying in touch over the winter...

Dec. 31, 2010 - Carolyn

As the 'gone sailing' part of our adventure doesn't kick off until late summer of 2011, most of our energy over the next few months will be directed towards preparing the good ship Shannon and ourselves. To that end, we've acquired many new toys and their installation, amalgamation, coordination and other such necessities will be occurring over the winter and spring months. Our goal is to have the boat basically ready by May so that we can spend as much time as possible on the water over the summer... practicing with all the new equipment and honing our skills. 

If you're interested in what we're doing and how we're doing it... and/or the exact equipment we're installing, please check out our other blog All About SV Shannon, accessible by clicking on the link over on the right side of this page.


Friday, December 3, 2010

2011 and beyond

Dec 3, 2010 - Carolyn

Kathy and I have firmed up our plans for some extended cruising.  She is taking early retirement at the end of March 2011 and we will be leaving around the beginning of September (2011) to sail our good ship down the coast of the US and into Mexico.  Our first leg will take us from Victoria, BC to San Francisco and the jury's still out as to which of the several options (course wise) we'll select for getting there...  We'll visit in San Francisco for a while and then mosey on down the coast, stopping at various ports of interest for several days at a time... and then, we'll hang out in San Diego for a spell, waiting for the OK (sometime after Nov. 1st) to venture into the Baja and further south.
Our plan is to turn ourselves into Snow Birders for a while... leaving Shannon in Mexico for the hot, hot summers and returning here to enjoy our spring and summer....  for a few years...  Then we'll bring Shannon home and carry on sailing here. We're not saying firmly how many years we'll do this for... we'll do it until it's time to come home.

Preparing Ourselves:
There's much to do.  We've started by losing some weight and now it's time to start some serious conditioning forthwith.  As well, we're tending to health needs like dental and vaccinations.  There's also some extra training to do... We'll be up-dating our first aid training and working on basic Spanish. We're also constantly studying...through blue-water books, attending seminars and lectures, speaking with others who have done and are doing exactly what we wish to do, and by joining the Bluewater Cruising Association Fleet of 2010/11 and studying with them.  Preparing ourselves is an ongoing and strenuous challenge... but very enjoyable as it's all leading to the realization of our dreams.
Good news !!  A good friend of ours, who is a terrific sailor and teacher and all 'round good guy, has agreed to join us for the first leg of our journey.  He will sail with us from Victoria to San Francisco and we're very happy that he's available and willing to join us.  Three is a great number for a boat our size and we're looking forward to sharing our adventure with him.

Preparing Shannon:
Now then.. this is the longer and more expensive part of the pre-adventure prep.  The good ship Shannon is indeed a little older than many other boats out there.  Thankfully she was well built in 1975 and we've got 'good bones' to work with.  We're focusing on two basic goals...  the first is safety.. and the second is comfort.

Under the comfort portfolio...
I can tell you that we're basically renovating the good ol' girl..  To that end, we have already replaced the foam in the upholstery and replaced all the heads hoses... We're in the process of installing a new cabin floor, renovating some of the storage cupboards to be more 'accomodating', re-covering the heads counter and painting the walls, replacing the cabin curtains with brighter and lighter material, making up better security for cupboard and locker doors,  cleaning and repairing the stitching of all cushions and covers (inside and out), making up lee cloths (to help us stay in our bunks when we're trying to sleep while under way), designing a bimini to help keep the sun off the helms person, putting together a system that will allow us to safely carry jugs of extra fuel and water, washing and polishing all the surfaces we can reach, doubling the number of house batteries we'll be carrying and adding another solar panel... and... we're even considering replacing a couple of the cabin portholes with the opening versions.  Can you say 'cross breeze' ??

Under the safety portfolio...
We've had the engine inspected and serviced inside and out...  several parts were completely replaced and others were rebuilt or serviced. We've just returned from having Shannon's mast pretty much rebuilt...  During the process, the base of the mast was built up and the top of the mast (the cap) was completely replaced.. with a shiny new one, including new sheaves.  This was a major happening and creates a much safer situation with respect to all the 'do-dads' that run off and through the masthead...  At the same time all this was being done, the following work was also completed:  new standing rigging (one size bigger than normal), a new VHF antenna, wind-speed instrument and anchor light were added to the mast head, a Solent Stay was installed (this is like an inner forestay upon which we will hoist a hank-on storm jib if we ever need to), and a loud-hailer (to save Kathy having to hang off the pulpet blowing the fog horn :-) and a better foredeck light were also added to the mast.  Serge Gabilondo (Mainstay-Yachttech Ltd) is our rigger and he & his team have done a fabulous job.  Still to come is the installation of the SSB antenna. Shannon's standing rigging was replaced with one size larger and her old standing rigging was still in good shape.. so, that was converted into her (now) new life-lines.  I can tell you she's looking great !  And we received (well she did) many compliments from folks at the yacht club who recognized the work that had been done while she had been away.
Our acquisition of equipment continues.  We have many new 'toys'... most which we'll probably never need... That's the catch to this kind of life... you spend most of your money and most of your time preparing for the less than 5% of time you might find yourself in stormy conditions.  The rest of the time is hopefully spent relaxing and adventuring in the sun.  We have a Galerider drogue and I'm working on finding a suitable 10-12' sea anchor.  We've already acquired most of the other off-shore equipment we will need.  

Our challenge now is to get everything installed, inspected, and serviced as required... and still have time to go out sailing and practising with it all.  Shannon goes up on the hard for the month of April (for bottom paint, through-hull maintenance and rudder insepction and repair if needed), after which we hope to spend a couple of months sailing and training.  Between now and February we will work on those things that can be done in cold weather... saving the rest for Mar-May.... 
We're very exited... this is a huge adventure and we're 'up' for it. Thanks for checking in and for following along as we work through the many challenges and learning curves in prepartion for this 'trip of a lifetime'.