The Three P’s

Projects, Provisioning and Planning!!!  Small words that describe some very BIG To-Do lists!!

As we approach the final weeks of getting ready to leave the dock, it’s mind boggling how many more items keep getting added to the checklist!  There really isn’t any way we’ll ever be completely ready to leave, but it’s nearly time!!!

So – the projects….

We bought Happy Dance in July 2012, and enjoyed some short trips last summer in between a very busy work and travel schedule.  We had planned on doing the major projects gradually until we sold the business, which we expected would take at least a year.  Surprise surprise!  In a couple of months we had an offer on the B&B and we needed to be out by November!  Time to turn up the heat on the project schedule!

The view from the back porch, from our home at "Chez MSC"

The view from the back porch, from our home at “Chez MSC”

In order to be able to live on board while work was going on, we needed to get the “inside” projects done first.  We moved the boat up to Anacortes in October, and handed the keys over to the crew at Marine Service Center.  These guys are awesome.  They have helped us and guided us through every step of the process.  Our goal was to add things to the boat that would allow us to be as self sufficient, safe, and comfortable as possible..sounds simple right???  Check out the list..ha!

Water Maker.  We installed a Spectra water maker to help keep the water tanks full.  This was at the top of my “want to have” items.  Think showers and lots of fresh drinking water….ahhh!

Water Tank to Fuel Tank.  Now that we have the ability to make fresh water at sea rather than being dependent on coming to a marina, we were able to take the main water tank and turn that into a fuel tank, which doubled our fuel capacity from 53 gallons to a total of 104 gallons, and we still have 100 gallons of water storage.

Composting Heads.  We have two heads, one was a manual flush, one an electric flush, both with separate holding tanks.  We wanted to eliminate the need to find pump out stations, and also avoid the rather nasty process (though done more often than I ever imagined) of pumping overboard!  We removed the holding tanks and heads, and replaced them both with Air Heads, which are compact composting toilets. They provide an added benefit too, of extra storage where the holding tanks were!  Storage is GOOD!  🙂

SSB / WIFI Booster / Sat Phone.  We needed to improve our communications ability so we added the single side band (SSB) radio, in addition to our existing VHF.  We also purchased a Satellite Phone for important calls, and added a 7-mile WIFI booster for internet access when we’re anchored near towns.  We have yet to put the SSB and Sat Phone to the test away from the dock, but we hope that the combination of systems will be sufficient when we’re out cruising.  We’ll be able to get email, weather and emergency calls, so we think we’re pretty set.  We want to keep in touch with all you landlubbers!!

Solar Panels.  We have a great arch on the back of the boat, so we added two 85 Watt Solar Panels to the top of the arch.  They are out of the way, and won’t be affected by shadows from the boom.  They’ll help us keep the batteries charged while we’re sailing, so that we won’t need to run the engine or generator as often to keep the batteries fully charged.  When you’re offshore, it’s a delicate balance between using power and storing it (charging the batteries).  One thing you don’t want to have happen is to lose your batteries…think no refrigerator, no water, no nuttin!

Rigging and Sails.  When we bought the boat it was equipped with two sails – a 135 Genoa and an in-mast furling mainsail.

The Genoa in light air

The Genoa in light air

The Genoa is the forward most sail and because of it’s shape and weight, it doesn’t work very well when we are running downwind or if the wind is very light.  We wanted to have more options for light and heavy air, so we’re adding an asymmetrical Gennaker (the colorful big one on the front of the boat..!).  For heavier air we’re adding another fixed wire stay inside of the existing headstay so that we can put up a heavy weather sail on a furler (so the sail is wound up on the wire).  This type of rig provides us with more flexibility and will allow us to sail in very light to very heavy air.  Lots more lines too…to keep Marty busy!

Extra support for the arch/dinghy davits, and a stern tie reel.  We have added a couple of stainless steel supports to the arch so that the dinghy can be raised up above the stern step, and we also had a reel mount built so that we can put our stern tie line on the aft step.  We’ll need the stern tie line in some anchorages so that we can put the anchor down from the bow, then back into the shore and tie the stern off to the shoreline.  You should have seen our first attempt at this in Desolation Sound…very entertaining for the boats next to us!!

So that’s about it for projects – PHEW!  We’re almost finished with everything and so the main effort these days is to store everything in a locker where we will hopefully find it again one day..ha!  We have lists upon lists – inventory, spares, food, etc!  Everything goes onto the list so that hopefully we don’t have to search for an item when we need it.

Now we are into the Provisioning portion of our perpetual planning!!!  We just returned from three days at the Seattle Boat Show where we were able to cross off quite a few of our high dollar items on the “must get” list.  We were able to buy a Life Raft and EPIRB (emergency beacon), along with a few smaller items. We had priced these items online, and we were very pleased to have saved big by buying them at the Boat Show.

Next is the spares list, and the galley provisioning.  Marty is working up the list of spares that we’ll need for all our systems, so we’ll soon be making another trip to Seattle to pick them up.  I’m working on the galley provisioning and trying to figure out where the heck I’m going to store everything!  I see a trip to Costco in my future!

And then comes the most fun….PLANNING!!!  Though it’s funny how we are both just looking a short way down the path, and feel as though that’s the joy of this new lifestyle – we don’t need no stinkin’ plans!!  🙂

We do have a couple of dates that we are working toward.  In March we will start working our way slowly up the Inside Passage.  We are going to let the wind take us where it will, with some stops in a few harbors that we loved on our previous trips.  In late June the Sail Alaska group will leave Bedwell Harbour BC to work their way north as well.  They’ll catch up with us at the north end of Vancouver Island, so that we can all cross Dixon Entrance together to spend the next month or so in Alaska.

We’re so excited about spending the summer in Alaska and have been reading lots of books on the subject.  There is just so much there to see, it’s going to be tough to decide on where and when to drop the hook!  We’re also excited at the prospect of traveling with a flotilla, as that’s something we haven’t done before.  Check out Sail Alaska on facebook and you can see some of the videos from past years.

At some point we’ll need to start heading South again, and the plan is to sail down the outside of Vancouver Island and down the coast to San Francisco.  We’ll spend a month or so visiting friends and family in Southern California before sailing to San Diego to prepare for the Baja HaHa rally.  It’s a cruiser’s rally that starts in San Diego on October 27th, and sails to Cabo San Lucas.  There are anywhere from 170 to 200 boats in the rally, and there are two stops along the way in a couple of gorgeous bays.  As lots of people have told us, it’s a great way to set a date to GO!  So many people end up stuck in San Diego afraid to make that final leap, so it will be a bit reassuring to sail with lots of boats who have made the trip before.

After we arrive in Cabo, the plans become very loose.  We’ll head up into the Sea of Cortez for a few months, then start working our way down the coast toward Panama.  All will depend on wind and weather and what we want to do!

So, there you have it folks…the three P’s of our permanent picnic at this point in the process…!  I’ll close with one of our new favorite truths…..

I’m retired…go around!  🙂

The arch

The arch

2 thoughts on “The Three P’s

  1. Great jpb you guys, will be thinking of you on your journey and be not just alittle jealous. Really makes me feel good to see how enjoyable retirement can be. Especially with the one you love. Congratulations and safe travels. Will be following along in thought and words. Dan&Pam


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