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Friday, February 19, 2010

A note from our Skipper...

I guess I'd better let him have a say...


Well hello all, it’s Stuart here for my first post on this blog.
I have been meaning to do this since we arrived however we have had so many things to do that all my free time has been taken up with boat stuff.

Our boat is called Pelon. It is a Catalina 42 cruising yacht which was built in California. The C42 has been in constant production since 1988 and over a thousand have been produced, most are in the US however many have sailed on extended voyages including the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Australia and around the World. Catalina’s are known for being well built basic cruising yachts that are safe and comfortable, I guess that you could say that they are the Holden Commodore of yachts. Unfortunately our budget did not stretch to a Swan or Hallberg Rassy which would be the Rolls Royce of the sea.
The path that we are travelling is a well travelled path from Dana Point, which is 100km South of LA. We will sail to Catalina Island, 34 nautical miles off the coast, then from Catalina we will sail nonstop to Hawaii - 2250nm away. This should take about 14 to 20 days. We will sail in pairs and work shifts of 3 hours on and 3 hours off. We are not going to push the boat so a slightly slower trip will suit us; our goal is to arrive well rested, fed, happy and eager to explore. Our next port will be Fanning Island about a thousand nm South of Hawaii. Fanning Island will be our last Northern hemisphere port before we cross the equator bound for Samoa and on to Fiji. Then New Caledonia and finally the Australian coast at either Cairns or Brisbane before we cruise down the Australian East coast, passing Sydney and across Bass Straight to Tasmania and our home port of Hobart. Kym and I are both due back at work at the beginning of August so our trip has a definite deadline.

Our number one priority is safety and while offshore sailing can be dangerous we have taken every precaution to be self sufficient and self reliant. Our food stocks are at least triple the amount that we should need and our water, which will only be used for drinking, amounts to over 650 litres. This is broken into 4 tanks, 10 x 10 litre containers and 2 x 20 litre jerry cans. All washing will be done in salt water. If we need help we have three 406 EPIRBS, 2 of which are GPS enhanced which can narrow our position to a few meters via satellite and will instantly tell the authorities who and where we are. If we need to abandon Pelon we have an automatic inflating life raft that can carry 6 people. Tthis raft also contains emergency rations, water and survival gear (I hope that we never see the inside of it).

As well as this blog we also have our SPOT Tracker. This is a battery operated aid that can tell others of our location, however it is not designed to be a used as a marine beacon as there are some definite black spots where it will not work i.e. mid Pacific. The Spot tracker will update our progress and help friends and family to know where we are. It also has the ability to send an SOS and a help message to pre organised recipients. If we activate the SOS or HELP function the recipients of the message have been instructed as to the course of action that we would like them to follow. As I have already stated the Spot tracker is not part of our emergency plan however it may be useful in some situations. In short please follow our progress using the Spot website but if it fails to show our position DO NOT BE ALARMED as it may be a black spot or the lithium batteries may be flat.

Part of the purchase procedure carried out in December was a Survey carried out by a qualified surveyor (Gerry Wetzzler). This included a sea trial and out of water inspection. Pelon was found to be in very good condition with only a few minor points noted that have since been rectified. When we arrived in early February we had a qualified Rigger inspect and adjust the rig and a diesel mechanic service and supply a package of spare parts for the engine. We have also installed a new GPS chart plotter as well as the 3 other hand held GPS’s on board. Pelon has been lightly used and shows only 800 hours on the engine. She is solid and sound.

I have always wanted to do a trip of this type and while it is further than I have ever sailed before I really feel confident with the boat and the crew. We have done our preparation and are ready for the adventure! Hope to post soon however with no internet at sea my next post may be from Hawaii.

Cheers, Stu.

Thursday 18th Feb 2010

We had hoped to leave for Catalina Island today, however at midday – when we were meant to leave our berth - we were still waiting for our sail to show up and so we’re here for another night. Which isn’t a bad thing because we love it here, however we’ve done our big stock up and we’re ready to get started!

The second aft cabin is our ‘pantry’:

We won’t have refrigeration apart from a massive esky which we have lined with block ice, which we’ve stocked with frozen meat (including bison mince!! ) and veggies, we’ve got our fruit in a hammock strung from the roof, and we’ve got loads of nibbly, snacky things which will keep us motivated on night watch. Plus masses of pantry staples, like rice, pasta, flour, eggs, spices, etc. Let’s just say we won’t be going hungry! We’ve also stocked up on lots and lots of tinned food as our emergency back-up, in case for some reason the trip takes longer than 3 weeks. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen – if only because I don’t think Claire and I would cope with Bruce and Stu living on refried beans and canned chilli...

The sail has arrived now, though, which means that – all going well – this is our last night in Dana Point. Which is a bit sad because we’ve loved being here and have met some wonderful people, but it’s also very exciting because it means we’re on to the next part of our adventure!

To celebrate, we bought cake!!

Catalina Island is only about 34 nautical miles from Dana Point, so will only be a day trip away and judging by what we’ve heard we’ll have to motor the whole way because there won’t be any wind, but at least we’re getting out there! We’ll probably stay there for 1 or 2 nights before starting the big Hawaii leg.

We’ll put the tracker on when we leave for Catalina Island – don’t forget to take a look!

Wednesday 17th Feb 2010

The fog rolled in fast this evening!!

But then disappeared just as quickly. It was all a bit weird actually!!

Fat Tuesday

Well, it wasn’t a night of pure gluttony like we were expecting, although we did get there a bit late so only got the end of the food. We made up for it with the wine though.

The menu consisted of foods we’d heard about but hadn’t tried – crawfish, gumbo (in the little bowl) and jumbalya (the yellow stuff), all of which were quite tasty.

The crawfish in particular were really good, although a lot of work to get the little bit of meat. They are basically little crayfish, as Claire will kindly show:

As with crays you only eat the tail meat so while some of these critters looked big and juicy, by the time you’d found the bit you could eat you were left with about 3cms of meat. But they were very, very tasty!

Bruce certainly ate his fill:

Once again we enjoyed a great night with Viggo, and also met a great new group of people. Apparently Fat Tuesday usually goes off, but it was rather quiet this year so by about 10pm there were only a couple of tables left so we all joined up and kept going. I think we were the cool table ;)

Somehow we ended up with feather boas:

The infamous Viggo!

And we discovered that Californian chardonnay is quite good.

As always, it was so good to meet some locals and we had such a fun time. They’re all interested in our trip, and are all praying for us! (We’re not sure yet whether it’s because they all think we’re crazy and need as much help as we can get, but we suspect as much... ! Even the diver who scrubbed our hull wrote that on our bill! Nice of them to be thinking about us though)

We have moved to a new marina berth, so the yacht club was only a 1 minute dinghy trip away which was
great. (I think Bruce enjoyed paddling us across...)

Surprisingly, heads weren’t too foggy the next day! Must have been the quality chardy.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sunday 14th Feb 2010

Thought we’d head to Universal Studios today, and then back to Venice Beach for more exploring.

Didn’t quite work out how we expected though.

We got to Universal Studios and the line to buy tickets was, quite literally, at least 1km long! At least! Crazy stuff. We thought we’d have lunch while we decided how much we really wanted to go in. The girl at the bar told us that she had not seen crowds like that in the 12 months that she’d been working there. Obviously we picked our day well... Silver lining was that we had a fantastic lunch and because they were so busy and we were so patient they threw in dessert for free! Although we actually thought the service was quite fast, but we weren’t going to argue.

Didn’t end up going in to Universal Studios – the lines were still so long after lunch, and we figured they would be long at all of the rides and attractions too. We did manage to kill an hour or 2 looking in the various shops outside the gate though, although Stu wouldn’t let me buy a new friend to share the trip with:


Decided to drive to Venice Beach and have a proper look, however because everyday feels like a weekend at the moment we hadn’t factored in that it was a Sunday, and beautifully sunny and warm, and Venice Beach is apparently one of ‘the’ places to be. We had no problems on a cooler Friday afternoon so thought today would be the same. No such luck. Traffic was a nightmare and parking was non-existent unless we wanted to pay $25. We drove around for a little while but in the end decided to take the hint and just come home. All a bit disappointing, but we did enjoy ourselves despite not doing any of the things we had planned so not a totally wasted day!

On the way home we took our Chevy to the levy but the levy was dry.

Although our Chevy is only a Chevy Aveo (buzzbox Kia equivalent) and the levy was a service station which had been closed down due to soil contamination and is now a parking lot.

(Thankyou Stu...)

Ended up having tea at a local place (Dana Point) which we wished we’d discover earlier – great food and atmosphere. I was excited to find ‘steamed vegetables’ on the menu but settled on a veggie omlette, and Stu had a massive bowl of beef and veg soup. Simple food done really, really well. We’ll go there again before we leave, I’m sure.

Bruce and Claire come back tomorrow – can’t wait to hear their San Francisco stories!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The tracker is up and running!!

This link should take you to our tracker, so you can follow our progress :)
We're still at the marina in Dana Point - unfortunately we're still waiting on a few things that are on order so it looks like we'll be leaving on Friday rather than tomorrow afternoon as as originally hoped.

This tracker will mark our position - I believe it updates very regularly (like every 30 minutes or so??), but please be aware that there ARE some dead spots where it won't register, so don't panic if we 'disappear'!! Also, we have to remember to press the button every 24 hours, and we won't do that while we're sitting here in the marina. We'll make every effort to keep it current when we're sailing though.

Day trip to LA

Bruce and Claire headed to San Francisco this morning, deciding to fly rather than drive as it was only an hour away and flights were quite reasonable! Stu and I, due to time and budgetary constraints, decided to give it a miss. We would have loved to go but we’ve got 6 months of adventuring to do and this early in the game we can’t be too gung-ho. That said, we’ve also decided that we’ll definitely come back to the US and we’ll do San Francisco then, so if we hadn’t made that decision we probably would have gone with Bruce and Claire.

We decided to do a day trip to LA today, taking the coast road for a nice scenic drive. It is so beautiful here! We stumbled across a farmer’s market on the way and bought some strawberries for the drive


These were absolute heaven! So sweet and juicy and would you believe they actually tasted like strawberry??!! I know that is a strange thing to say, but I have never eaten a strawberry that has really, truly tasted like a strawberry should taste!! I will never be able to eat Tassie strawberries again. Seriously – what we have at home is a bland, hard, tasteless, poor excuse for a strawberry. These were insane. We’re going back to get more, and I think I’m going to live on them and not share.

First stop – Venice Beach. So much atmosphere here, with lots of interesting people getting around. We could imagine that it would absolutely go off in Summer!

Definitely need to dedicate more time to exploring the area later, but for today a walk and lunch was enough and we set off to see Beverley Hills. Drove along Santa Monica Boulevard to Sunset Boulevard, and up in to the realms of the mega, mega wealthy. Wow. These people live in a different reality. Our little house in Claremont would be the garden shed in a place like this:

We (well, Stu, and I just agree...) have often commented on the cars around here – so many BMW’s, Mercs, Porsches, you name it we’ve been passed by it! There have been a few times we’ve been driving along surrounded by a million dollars worth of cars (which could be just 3 or 4 cars, in Australian values) which blows us away, however in Beverley Hills it was different. In Beverley Hills we were driving along next to ONE car worth over a million dollars (in Australia). ONE car!! $1,000,000!!! Wow. (As a side story, due to wrong-side-of-the-road stuff I almost got run over by a Porsche Carrera GT worth about $1.5 million. Hmmm... Perhaps I should have tried harder to get hit...??!!).

Need I say more?
Stu wouldn’t let me out – we just did a drive by.
Would have liked to have breakfast here – diamonds for breakfast!

But I would have settled for Jimmy Choo;
Or Dolce and Gabbana
Or Ralph Lauren
Or Louis Vuitton
Or Cartier...

Getting dark, time to head home. Bad timing and we had our first (and hopefully only) official Los Angeles traffic jam. Took us a good hour to drive about 5 miles (8kms) at most.

The light at the end of the tunnel was Joe’s Crab Shack in Long Beach, where we were headed for tea.

How can you not go to a place called ‘Joe’s Crab Shack’?? We were not disappointed. Started with the sampler plate, which had (JK /Rach/Bron don’t read this!!) delicious fried crab croquettes, fried calamari and some kind of evil cheesy crabby corn chip dipping sauce. Awesome.

This was followed by king crab legs in Joe’s special BBQ sauce.

Wow. Soooo good!
(apologies for over-exposure but you get the idea!)

Joe’s Crab Shack definitely, DEFINTELY gets two greasy, crabby, thumbs up.

Friday 12 Feb 2010

At the gate of the marina last night we were asked by a guy whether we were the people preparing to sail to Australia. It seems our trip is being talked about, which is kind of cool. We got talking to this guy - Viggo - and he invited us to be his guests at the yacht club for tea, which we accepted. Viggo seems to know his stuff! He has sailed in some of the big races, like Transpac and Fastnet, Trans Pac being of particular interest to us because it is a race from California to Hawaii. Stu was in absolute heaven being able to have enthusiastic boat discussions with another die-hard sailor over tea, and I found that listening to him describe his experiences (from what the sea will be like, to what it feels like to be surrounded by sea with thousands of feet of water under the boat and thousands of feet of sky above it, the amount of stars at night, the sunrises and sunsets on the ocean, being able to smell land before you get to it, and the mixed feelings of excitement and disappointment at stepping on land after days of sailing) made me even more excited about the upcoming trip and as much as I’m loving being here in Dana Point (which is such a nice place – beautiful, and so relaxed, and the people are wonderful!) I really can’t wait to get going!! On that note, we’re planning to leave late next week - after Fat Tuesday.
Which brings me to my next story – Fat Tuesday!

Walking in to the yacht club we saw a big sign for ‘Mardi Gras’, and other signs advertising ‘Fat Tuesday’. Claire and I got talking to the couple at the door and asked what Fat Tuesday was. They asked us if we knew what Mardi Gras was and we said yes, however got a shocked response when we said the Mardi Gras in Sydney was when the gay and lesbian community had a massive parade and party! Apparantly that’s NOT what Mardi Gras is here... It is a massive party, but it’s a party basically intended to eat and drink as much as possible (hence “Fat Tuesday”) before we give things up for Lent. Oops...!! Anyway, we obviously didn’t offend because we have been invited – put on a special guest list, even – to the Fat Tuesday celebrations at the yacht club on Tuesday! And, as we are intending to leave Dana Point later in the week, we are counting it as our last hurrah before we depart. I guess we can say that we’re giving up land for Lent... along with regular showers, easy access to fresh food, and a little bit of sanity perhaps...

Friday, February 12, 2010


The other squirrel!

These guys are everywhere in the rocks at the end of the marina, and they come right up to you! At times you have to wonder if they are going to scurry up your leg... But they are very cute :)


Took Pelon on a maiden voyage of sorts today - not a true maiden voyage (for us anyway) because we only motored over to the pumping station and to get diesel, but at least we can say we have actually taken her out of her berth.

Pumping staion. Meaning pumping the poo out of the holding tanks because they were FULL! Gross. Particularly gross because it wasn't us who filled them (300 litres in 10 days? I don't think so!!), so we were pumping other people's poo!! Erk...
Here's Stu being very brave (even when there was a minor over flow!!):

In another poo-related incident, I learnt that when jumping on to a jetty in bare feet, NEVER assume the bird-poo is dry...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I have GOT to try this!!!

So many people get around the marina this way and they don’t even wear wetsuits or bathers, because they just don’t fall off! I think you can hire the boards – I really want to give this a go!

Wednesday 10th February 2010

Went for a run today – was so nice to get out in the sun and get moving, particularly after yesterday which was another day of cold and pouring rain (nah, never rains in Dana Point...). Apparently the weather is quite unseasonal, though, and there is evidence that it doesn’t rain like that very much as gutters are overflowing and people are sand-bagging their houses. We found out today that it was a close-to-record low last night (I think someone said 30 degrees F). That’s not what California is supposed to be like!!!
It was a little brisk when I set out for my run this morning (this was before I had heard that it was so cold last night) but I braved it in shorts and my much-loved boot camp t-shirt (very inspirational as when I wear it I remember that I have to go back and be around these fit people!!) and warmed up quickly, however I got a lot of strange looks from the locals who were all wearing warm clothes on their early morning walks – including scarves, beanies and jackets. I think it was obvious that I’m not a local...
The nice weather meant that it was a great day for getting jobs done. Claire and I left the boys on the boat and went shopping for a few things (Claire being very brave and driving! I’m not even going to attempt it – it’s weird enough being a passenger on what is usually the driver’s seat, and I’m constantly flicking my eyes up to the rear-view mirror and getting a shock when I can’t see anything because the mirror is facing the wrong way!). The boys fixed a few things, and tracked down the source of the weird smell that has been lingering since we first opened the boat door... let’s hope that ‘tracked down’ also means ‘fixed’...!
Weather is supposed to be nice for the next few days, so we’re hoping to get the boat out for a trial run sometime soon now that we’ve had the engine and rigging checked and given the all clear.

Monday 8th February 2010

Picked Bruce and Claire up from LAX at 7am. They looked bleary-eyed and tired, much the same as we felt when we arrived. We took them out for breakfast, wandered around a few shops, headed out for lunch - we’ve all heard about big American meals, well check this out:

We were basically trying to keep them awake until evening so they would sleep properly and hopefully get over their jet-lag. I think they lasted until about 7:30pm – a mammoth effort really!!

Nice to have some more company, and hoping that extra people will make Stu a bit more relaxed because he can hand out a few jobs. Or at least just act more relaxed because he doesn’t want them to see him crack it (which will also be a nice break for I’m sure those who know Stu will agree!!)

Sunday 7th February 2010

Superbowl Sunday!!

We heard from a helpful chap at Costco (when we commented on how insanely busy it was) that it was Superbowl weekend, so we thought we’d better make the most of the US version of AFL Grand Final day and find a bar to watch the game!

Ended up at a place in the Marina but didn’t get to watch much of the game as we ended up sitting near some really nice people – Barb and Al from Oregon, and Barry and Sherry who are locals. We had a great afternoon chatting to them and having a few drinks. For the record, the Wind & Sea makes awesome mai-tai’s.
Saw enough of the game to know that the Indiannapolis Colts were playing the New Orleans Saints. I was hoping the Colts would win, based on their blue uniform, but alas the same kiss of death I gave to every AFL team I went for in the finals kicked in and New Orleans came back to win convincingly. I think their gold trousers made them run faster or something.
I was also lucky enough to score some freebies:
- 4 Jim Beam shot glasses
- Jim Beam t-shirt
- 4 ‘Coors Light’ bottle openers, and
- 4 ‘Coors Light’ stubbie holders
(from the Jim Beam and Coors Light girls in skimpy outfits)

(also for the record, Coors Light is rather tasty too)

I played the ‘I’m an Australian and this is my first Superbowl experience’ card and also got given the helium balloons from behind the bar, which are now decorating the yacht.

Saturday 6th February 2010

Today was another wet, grey day. Started off ok, and we could still wear t-shirts until late afternoon, but the rain was heavy and it makes setting things up on the boat a lot harder. We have pretty much finished buying things – thanks goodness!! Can you believe that I’m sick of shopping??!! We have hit so many shops, among them Costco (amazing bargains!! And lots of freebies to taste – we had ‘lunch’ here one day with all the samples, finishing with a taste of the ‘All American Chocolate Cake’ which was about 40cms wide and 20cms high and oh so rich and decadant!!), Sears, and Wal-Mart (open until 11pm!! Look for us in the next instalment of those ‘people of Wal-Mart’ emails!!)
Bruce and Claire arrive early Monday morning, and we’ve set up their cabin and are pretty much organised for our first visitors!
Bought a TV today. Still working on the reception, but at least it means we can watch dvd’s with better sound and picture than what we had on the laptop.
Currently sitting in the saloon sipping Chandon (made by Moet & Chandon) – purchased from CSV Pharmacy for $18.99 (retails in Australia for around $50). Got my eye on a bottle of ‘proper’ Moet for $40. Oh – and we saw Jansz today – roughly the same price as we’d pay in Tassie ($25)!!! I guess we’ll stick to the Chandon and Moet while we can...


(plus a little health rant, which some may choose to skim over...!!)

Food addiction - it was always going to happen... however I‘m pleasantly surprised that it’s not twinkies, pop tarts, frosted mini-wheats or Reese’s peanut butter cups (or bars or biscuits or cereal... seriously – cereal!! Why would you buy a cereal that I can only guess is made to taste like a chocolate bar??!!). There are so many sugary options here. I know that snacks and breakfast cereals are a sugary, fatty, calorie-laden minefield anywhere, but it is really, really hard to find anything that doesn’t have sugar (or “dehydrated cane juice”...!!) as the first or second main ingredient, particularly in breakfast cereals that are supposed to kick-start bodies and brains first thing in the morning!! We’re still getting our gas stove organised on the boat (aka – no gas and a seized bottle) so we’ve been eating out eating out for breakfast, and I’m constantly on the lookout for something that’s going to fuel me properly. We have found a nice little cafe for breakfast in the marina, and I have discovered their ‘power pancakes’! I had read about them months and months ago, but they aren’t available in Australia, so I was rather excited to see them on the menu. And wow – they are divine!

I had them this morning with yoghurt and fresh fruit. Awesome. And I didn’t need lunch! (that said, breakfast was only at about 11:45am...!!)
We have tried a few American chocolates, some of which are good (Junior Mints and Reese’s peanut malt balls) and some which are not so good (chocolate covered cookie dough balls and anything cinnamon flavoured – what were we thinking??!!) but nothing that I would sell my first-born for, and now that I’ve tried them I can live without them. Have also had some divine Mexican food – being so close to the Mexican border there’s a strong influence and of course the restaurants are more authentic than ‘Tacos’ in Hobart... Washed down with a Corona of course (available pretty much anywhere - $10 for a dozen long-necks!)
Ezekiel bread
Believe it or not, I had read about this too! It’s called ‘Ezekiel bread’ because – according to the packet - it’s inspired by Ezekiel 4:9 in the Bible – “take wheat and barley and beans and lentils and millet and spelt and put them in one vessel and make bread of it...” And – for those who care (time to glaze over for the rest of you!!) – the combination of these sprouted grains and legumes apparently creates a complete protein that closely parallels to the protein found in eggs and milk (84.3% as efficient as the highest recognised source of protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids). Yes, yes – yawn, yawn, I can hear some of you from here. Sorry – I get carried away...
But whatever - it’s really, really yummy!!
I have found a couple of great shops which I’ve become addicted to shopping in, or at the very least browsing in. Paradise shops for me, stocking all kinds of healthy, natural and organic foods. Of course they are more expensive, but great for a treat! And I’ve got Stu hooked on their Ezekial bread and ‘jam’, which is basically just pureed fruit.
Also can’t get over how cheap food is compared to home, in particular things like fresh blueberries (350gms for $4 – much better than 125gms for $5 at home) and 4 avocados for $2. With that and the cheap grog, we’re in heaven!! Pity I’m not earning any money at the moment to make the absolute most of it....

(Meanwhile, still missing boot camp... and already noticeable with all this food...but loving life!! Looking forward to a run now that I’ve got new sneakers, and a long bike ride now that we’ve got helmets and a pump. But JK – sign me up for your PT sessions from August 2!!!)

Friday 5th February 2010

I suppose it IS winter here...

A certain someone told me that it never rains in Dana Point, and the weather is always sunny. This certain someone is currently wearing trackies and a windcheater purchased from Sears, and is putting tea towels under the couple of leaks we have found in this drenching rain...

Thursday 4th February 2010

One thing that has really stood out for us here is how polite and helpful everyone is! From the broker who sold us the boat (David has been so wonderful and has helped us so much, as have the others at Mariner’s Yacht & Ship Brokerage) to the employee at the door of Wal-Mart, everyone is friendly, says hello, asks if we need help before we have to go chasing them up to ask a question, goes out of their way to help – customer service is fantastic! Also, people love to have a chat. Hopefully we don’t come across as rude, as the standard ‘nod and smile’ at a stranger that is more the norm in Australia doesn’t seem enough here, with everyone who walks past us cheerfully saying ‘good morning’ or ‘how are you today’ or stopping to talk briefly. Our neighbour, Gene, has also been really friendly and helpful. He and his wife and their gorgeous dog Coconut live on their boat here too.

A friendly local

God Bless America

Now we know why they say this!!

Nope, not from the duty free shop, but everyday prices from the local supermarket!

1.75L of Tanqueray gin for $30. 1.75L of scotch for $18. Complete with handle on bottle to assist with pouring.

Needless to say we’ll be back soon to stock up on various things!

Tuesday 2nd Feb 2010

D-day! Nic dropped us off at the airport at about 8am, for our 11:45am flight. We thought that would be plenty of time, but by the time we checked in, went through immigration and got through customs to claim back our GST we had about 20 minutes before boarding. Which is probably a good thing considering Stu hates flying, and a longer wait means longer to think about how those big metal machines get up in the air and (hopefully) stay there!
The flight was long, of course, but not as horrific and unpleasant as it could have been. We’d definitely fly international with Virgin again – decent legroom, great entertainment, better than average food and good service. I found a documentary on the South Pacific – perfect ‘research’, I thought! A few snippets of information I picked up:
- You could fit all the continents in the Pacific Ocean, with room for another Africa
- The Pacific Ocean is 16000kms wide, and less than 1% is land
- Hawaii is 3000kms from the nearest continent

Ok, not so reassuring. I turned it off once it started talking about storms....

W e managed a few hours of sleep, but as expected it wasn’t wonderful and we were greasy-haired and blurry-eyed when we finally landed in LA. Immigration in the US was surprisingly easy! Not that we had anything to hide, but you see the news and you watch movies, and you develop certain expectations. Plus we had epirbs and life harnesses with gas canisters, so we thought they might raise a few questions.
Hire car. Let’s just say that jet-lag + driving on the opposite side of the road = a few choice words and a bit of stress... that said, Stu did an awesome job (no real near misses!) and there’s no way I was getting behind the wheel!
We picked up a sail that Stu had organised to buy while we were still in Hobart. I hadn’t seen our boat yet, but Steve – who we picked the sail up from – had a newer 2 cabin version so that was my first encounter with a Catalina 42. Really nice (phew!!), as was Steve who was our first encounter with a ‘real American’, and who was super-friendly and a really nice guy. Funnily enough, he made a comment about originally wanting a 3-cabin (which is what ‘Pelon’ is) and Stu mentioned that he would have loved a 2-cabin. Obviously a direct swap would have been ideal!! Never mind the price difference and the fact that Steve’s boat is a few years newer...
On to Dana Point, and ‘THE’ boat. Stu had obviously seen the boat in October, but I had only seen pictures and was very excited about catching my first glimpse of our new home. It didn’t disappoint. Granted, after seeing Steve’s newer 2-cabin I was expecting something a little different, but I was pleasantly surprised with Pelon and could instantly picture us living aboard and being very comfortable.

King (Queen...) of the world!!
Before we could relax though, we had to shop. Ahhh, the hardship!! We HAD to shop!! We had no supplies for the boat – no bedding; no crockery/cutlery/utensils for the kitchen; limited toiletries because rather than packing them we figured we’d buy them over here – nothing. In an exhausted stupor (which was much like being a little drunk) we set the Navman for ‘Department Store’ and went from there. A helpful sales assistant in JC Penney’s directed us to discount stores (no doubt blocking her nose and trying to get us out of her shop, because I have no doubt we looked worse for wear and ponged like anyone would after a 14 hour flight!!).
Essentials bought, we went out for our first meal on our adventure – how could we go past the clam chowder?! Requests for scotch and dry to wash it down with were met with confused faces and lots of questions, after which we settled for what we were assured was the American equivalent – bourbon and 7-Up. Actually, surprisingly good!!
Fell in to bed, utterly exhausted after our 38 hour day.

Monday Feb 1st 2010

Hobart to Melbourne – only $100 excess baggage, a miracle! My personal baggage blew out to 9.7kgs, so I guess I could be considered personally responsible for the additional 10kgs over our limit, but clothes are a necessary evil I suppose (unless you’re crossing the Atlantic, for those who know the story...!!)

We were met in Melbourne by Dad and Anne, who treated us to a fantastic lunch at Sails on the Beach, at Elwood. Absolutely fantastic food, and very much appreciated because it’s probably the best meal we’re going to have in at least 6 months! They dropped us off at my sister Nic and her hubby Julian’s place – time to test-drive the bikes! My family bought us foldable travel bikes as an early wedding pressie, as we’d said that we were keen to buy some in the US so we could more easily explore the places we were going to visit.

These bikes are fantastic! They are only 14kgs, and fold up to a size that is easily portable and easily storable – a necessity on a boat with limited space! We had a test ride and they passed with flying colours, so my family is still invited to the wedding ;)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

We are here!

We have arrived, and everything is great! Except internet access... We are taunted with lots of free wi-fi networks that for some reason our computers won't let us connect to!! Currently in a seedy gamers cyber cafe with very limited internet time left, and very interesting people...

Hopefully we'll get the internet issue sorted soon and can give you all a proper update, but just wanted to let you all know that we have arrived safely, are busy stocking the boat and making it feel like home. And believe it or not it really does :)