And They're Off!

And They're Off!

The journey—a lifetime in the making—has finally begun.

It wasn’t always clear it was going to happen. 48 hours before departure, we were still on our hands and knees, scrubbing when I thought our dream was dead.

We’d been living on an air mattress in the living room for a week. We’d sold every stick of furniture, trimmed every hedge, and pulled every weed. Every book and plate and knickknack had been given away or donated. We’d driven the car to Colin’s son Aidan in Astoria, set up a property management company to take over as soon as we were out, installed a new water line, built railings for the stairs, and painted every room and door and piece of trim, taken every old paint can to the hazardous waste facility and every spare sail bag to the consignment store.

It was weeks past our self-imposed deadline to leave.

Our bodies were sore in places we didn’t even know we had bodies, and our minds were roughly as sharp as Jell-O. Truthfully, getting out of the house was our Cape Horn.

On our very last day, I was cleaning out the fridge when I opened the bottom compartment. 

“Colin? Why is the freezer vomiting ice crystals?”

It looked like a winter wonderland scene in there, with a thick blanket of snow atop the ice trays. Inches of ice crystals coated the walls. Stick in some twinkle lights and a plastic reindeer and it could have been a Christmas window diorama.

The charm escaped me. What I saw was a new fridge, a massive drain on the bank account, missing our time window to make it to a wedding and getting stuck in port for something close to forever.

I hoped to hear Colin reply with something soothing like, “We’ll solve it.” Instead, he yelled from the bathroom. “Cheyenne! What’s going on? I just cleaned the bathtub and now it looks like I’ve murdered someone in there!”

He’d stripped down to his skivvies to keep the Comet off his clothes and spent an hour cleaning the tub, then added a final touch of pure Clorox to make sure it was sparkly new. Nice touch, except that the previous owners had sandblasted the slippery enamel on the old iron tub.

The area that minutes ago had been sparkling white had turned a deep, muddy shade of red. I saw visions of panic-induced bathtub shopping. I saw that if we pulled out the tub, the plumbing would surely need to be replaced. The tiles would get broken. The fixtures would be too old to work.

I saw the death of a dream before it had begun.

I’ve stepped up to emergencies from house fires to the Heimlich maneuver in the past. But this? This may not have been my finest moment of calmly working the problem. 

I used my lifeline. 

Luckily, my mom and stepdad answered. Brian suggested lint on the air intake may be the simple cause of Santa’s workshop in the freezer, and lo-and-behold, the issue was solved with a couple wipes of a paper towel. 

And the internet (thank you, internet!), helped us discover that the rusty chemical reaction we’d set off between the bleach and the cast iron tub could be reversed with a few simple squirts of hydrogen peroxide. Who knew? 

I wish I could say that was the last of the problems we had to troubleshoot at the last minute. T-Mobile unexpectedly sucked up an entire vital day, as did our insurance company. But we did finally get out of the house and onto the boat, where we got Pristine’s fresh water topped off and the waste pumped out (luckily, managing not to confuse the two in our foggy brain states).

Colin took another trip up the mast to attach the man overboard pole, stowed the surfboards, moved the jib cars and roller-fuller leads, and organized the lazarette. I emptied the dock box, returned the rental car, checked the weather, and stocked up on coffee.

Then, with the clock ticking to make it to Colin’s cousin’s wedding—and the endlessly changeable May weather throwing a line up of low pressure curveballs toward the West Coast—Mother Nature opened a window for us to boogie on down to Half-Moon Bay.

We jumped on it. 

It was a beautiful day to be on the water, with light winds, big swells coming out the gate, and some traffic avoidance practice with tugs and tows. The wind was unseasonably on the nose and we ran the engine more than we would have liked, but we were finally out there.

Just to prove the point that sailing is fixing your boat in exotic locations, our change to the roller fuller to avoid chafe apparently built an override creator and needs to be ‘re-fixed.’ And why our gorgeously purring Yanmar no longer wants to read us it's RPMs is a mystery yet to be solved.

But the natural world seems to have welcomed us with open arms. We saw whale spouts near Treasure Island as we left, so obviously they were saying goodbye. Down the coast, while we were playing Crab Pot Minefield, we were surrounded by thousands of tiny drifting jellyfish.

And as we passed Point Montara, we handed the binoculars back and forth, trying to make sense of something floating in the water. A wreck? Piece of pier? Whale carcass? It turned out to be a pod of sleeping seals, who greeted us with a sound I took to mean “Hello, but don’t come any closer to our babies.”

We’re now safely anchored in Half-Moon Bay, making up for the lost sleep of the last four months. Maybe we’ll fix something today. Maybe not. We may just take the rest we need while we wait in the pretty and well-sheltered harbor for a gale to pass, and see what Mother Nature has in store for us next.

Goodbye SF

Pristine crosses under the Golden Gate

Time for Pristine to get her sea legs

Sea lions on a buoy

With help from the marine mammal book, we think these are male stellar sea lions hogging the Montara Point buoy from the smaller females. But what is that weird floaty thing in the background?

Snoozing sea lionsMore snoozing sea lions who woke up and took notice as we approached

Moon jellies

Thousands of these little moon jellies drifted by on the current like a thick jellyfish stew.

Pillar Point

The radar domes of Pillar Point to the left and the rocks of Mavericks to the right. We gave those a wide berth and tucked into the outer harbor around the point.

Overworked Colin

Think an overworked and under-slept Colin was happy to finish the to-do list and tuck into our first anchorage?


A little well-earned R&R

Where to next?

Where to next?

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