August 25, 2006

Almost Ready to Go!

Hi Everyone -

It's been over a month since you last heard from us as we've been totally consumed with all the work needed to resume cruising. In an effort to bring you up to date we've summarized what we've been doing and our plans. This posting is a bit long - so skip over the parts that you may find uninteresting.

Some new folks have joined our mailing list since we left the Pacific Northwest, so I just want to remind everyone that we love to hear from you all! Please however, don't forward messages to us or use attachments.

Just send us what you have typed! Also, please don't "reply" to these messages unless you delete our original message from your email. It's much better just to type and send us a new message.

CRUISING DESTINATIONS:

Our tentative cruising outline is, and will remain, cast in Jello - we're trying not to have a "schedule" to keep. However, we would like to visit with those of you who live along our route, so let us know if you are nearby any of our destinations and let's get together!

You can always see our latest position (updated at least daily - when we move) by following the "Find our Current Position on Position Reporter" link on our website at http://raptordance.com

We're planning to cast off on Thursday, Aug 31. We may spend Thursday and Friday in South Beach in San Francisco, but that's still undecided, we may just go straight to Half Moon Bay.

We will spend Labor Day Weekend in Half Moon Bay. Three Yacht Clubs (Oakland YC, Sausalito YC and Berkeley YC) are cruising down the coast for a BBQ at the Half Moon Bay Yacht Club, we have lot's of friends who belong to these clubs and it will be a great time for us to visit with everyone.

On Monday, Sept 4th, down the coast we'll go to Monterey Harbor. This is one of our favorite stops on the Central Coast. They have a great Farmers' Market on Tuesdays and we're members of the wonderful Monterey Bay Aquarium, so we'll be sure to check out any new exhibits.

Around Sept 7th or 8th, we'll continue on to Morro Bay where we'll visit with our friends, John and Kay Semon of the Beneteau 473, "Semonship".

Continuing on, We'll head to Santa Barbara for a few days. The Northern Channel Islands and either Ventura or Channel Island Marina to visit with Len and Norma Brownlow of the Olsen 40, "Hangover" and Don and Joan Anderson of the Valiant 47, "Summer Passage" - but more famously - the fantastic volunteer weather forecaster for Mexico, Central America and Pacific cruisers.

Then it's on to Marina del Rey and the Southern Channel Islands. We'll visit with our family and spend some time at the Islands.

We're planning on arriving in San Diego on October 16th, in time to finish getting ready for Mexico. If we can arrange it, we'll get our Retirement FM-3 Mexico Visas in San Diego (otherwise we'll get them in Puerto Vallarta). We'll also visit with family, visit the Zoo and enjoy San Diego.

On October 21st, we'll drive up to Upland for Bill's 40th Chaffey High School Reunion.

On October 29th, the Baja Ha-ha activities start and at 11:00 AM on the 30th, we'll cross the Ha-ha starting line, and on to Mexico. We'll stop briefly in Turtle Bay, Bahia Santa Maria and Cabo San Lucas, then on to Paradise Village, Nuevo Vallarta where we'll arrive around the 15th of November.

Once we get Raptor Dance snug and settled in to Paradise Village, we'll return to spend the holidays with our family before continuing on with our cruise.

CHORES COMPLETED (non-sailors, skip over the geeky details):

This has been a very busy (and $) time for us. Here's a partial list of what we've been up to (and why we haven't had a lot of time to visit friends, socialize, etc.).

New Roof - Our vacation house roof was worn out. Since we won't be home in the rainy season and we wanted to avoid problems, we re-roofed and added ventilation so the new roof will last longer. We used Home Depot to do the roof as we really liked their warranty and we think they'll be around to honor it. They did a great job on the roof but just need to fix the poor gutter install before we leave.

Solar Panels - We had a framework fabricated above our Bimini and added two 130 Watt Kyrocera solar panels and a Blue Sky Energy 2000E MPPT charge controller. These are working very well so far. Since they've been installed we haven't had to run our battery charger at all! We'll see how they do cruising. KKMI did the metal work and West Marine/Maritime Electronics in Point Richmond did the installation. We obtained the panels and controller from Hotwire Enterprises http://www.svhotwire.com

Rig maintenance and upgrade - We had our Leisurefurl in boom mail sail furler serviced and we added a Dutchman 750 Boom Brake to replace the Valiant Preventer System. The preventer system caused undue wear on the gooseneck bearing when the sail back winded. Consultation with the top riggers and our sailing coach led to the conclusion that we should convert over to the boom brake to minimize rig wear and potential damage in an accidental jibe. JP Boatworks in Sausalito did the Leisurefurl work and Glenn Hanson in Alameda installed the Boom Brake

Canvas Work - Mary spent many hours on the sewing machine creating fantastic new covers for our mainsail, life raft, jerry cans and hatches. She also whipped up pirate shirts to augment our costumes (for the many costume parties along the way), made some additional storage sacks and altered many of our clothes as we've lost a lot of weight.

New Inverter/Charger - Our Statpower Inverter (old unit sold on eBay) and Pro Mariner battery charger (which died coming down from the Washington in June) were replaced with a new Magnum Energy MS2812 pure sine wave inverter/charger.

Sails - Our sails were serviced by Quantum Sails. They also added chafe patches to the main, mended some minor tears and replaced the webbing at the heads of our Genoa and Staysail with new, stronger, more robust Spectra webbing (so we won't have a repeat of the failure we had at the Banderas Bay Regatta in 2004).

Deck work - we changed our life raft cradle from the Valiant model to the standard Switlik cradle (our liferaft is a Switlik SAR-6), It was too difficult to get the life raft in and out of the Valiant cradle and we didn't want to have to rely on adrenaline to get it out of the cradle if we needed to launch it. We also mounted new pad eyes on deck to tie down our 3 Jerry cans. For the last 2 years we had them tied down with webbing running from the mast to the life raft cradle and these new pad eyes make for a much more tidy installation. Putting in new deck fixtures is lots of work as we needed to remove the cabin head liner to access the underside of the deck, seal the holes and bed everything properly. We did all this ourselves.

Skills improvement - We went out with a sailing coach, Roy Haslup of J-World San Francisco, to improve some of our techniques. We practiced safety maneuvers, such as the "Quick Stop" Man Overboard procedure (which is much easier than it sounds from the written descriptions of it) and spend quite a bit of time practicing jibing the spinnaker. We previously (and will still mostly) jib by putting the spinnaker back in its sock, moving it to the other side and re-deploying it.

Misc. Tasks - We also had our Outboard and main engine serviced, the bottom cleaned, had our B&G wind instruments fixed, worked on the electronics wiring, replaced the hard drive on our laptop and restored all the software, worked on the boat detailing and did a myriad of other small tasks.

Whew! It's been a lot of work, but now we're ready to head off!

Regards,
Bill and Mary

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