S/V Hello World's Travel Log

life aboard so far

We've been living on board Hello World for about 3 weeks now. Here's an update of what we've learned whilst living aboard to date.

  • The smell of cat poop inside a 40' sailboat is eye watering.

  • Popping your head out of the companionway every morning and looking out over the water and neighboring boats just does not get old. Moves me every time.

  • The cat does not like sailing.

  • Pressure cooker = the awesome.

  • Every object on a boat exists in two states: broken and almost broken.

  • Christy and I do just fine in small spaces. The space was never a problem in our 450 sq. ft. houseboat and it's not a problem on the sailboat.

  • Electric oil radiant heaters are essential to life aboard in the Pacific Northwest. Waking up on a drizzly fall morning to a boat interior that is dry and 70 degrees is heaven.

  • The manufacturer of all of our winches went out of business and replacement parts aren't available.

  • Our starboard cabin top winch needs a new stripper ring.

  • Sea lions never tire of barking. And that's just fine with us.

  • One positive thing about laundromats: 1 load of laundry or 6 loads of laundry - it still only takes about an hour and a half.

  • One negative thing about laundromats: taking off your pants and throwing them in the wash is frowned upon. Whatever, man.

  • Trying to walk up the companionway steps with the hatch closed will result in an excruciating head wound. Ask me how I know.

  • The excruciating head wound is apparently not painful enough to prevent me from doing it again. I now wear a helmet when I step on board.

  • Laying down below listening to the wind whistle through the rigging and feeling the boat fetch up on the docklines is pretty exhilarating.

  • We love life aboard.

the gallant fox - shakedown cruises

Continued from here. In response to our blog post on our Blake Island trip:

Gallant Fox:
For more short shake-down cruises, if you can maybe next spring/summer (best weather, but any season is OK) take a 4-day trip or longer down thru the Tacoma Narrows into the South Sound. Lots of state marine parks there that get almost no use. Alternatively, Filucy Bay is good for a 2-days-there-&-2-days-back kind of trip if you can't get any more time together. And you'll have a total blast getting down there if you time the currents right, going down Colvos Channel & into the Narrows....But don't forget some of the overnight/3-day trips closer to Shilshole: Manzanita Bay just a couple miles to the left after you go under the Agate Pass bridge; turn right to go to Liberty Bay & Poulsbo, or turn left, go south past Brownsville, & grab a mooring buoy at Illahee State Park. You can do those short trips all year round - great way to test the boat's heater capacity in February....We went to all 3 of those places a whole bunch because they were close, yet remote enough to feel like you'd actually gotten away from the city. Illahee's good because you can reach it either by going past Madison Bay, under Agate Pass & then turning south; or go thru the S-curves as if you were heading toward Bremerton (good practice dodging ferries & following buoys) & then turning north up the channel.

the gallant fox - energy neutral

Continued from here.

Do you guys use refrigeration on board? Do you have to run the engine to charge up the batts? We really want to be energy neutral with solar power and possibly a (quiet) wind generator if we can. Pipe dream?

Gallant Fox:
Doable. We have refrigeration on board & as the water warms up & the sun gets brighter, it runs 24/7 & frosts up a lot. So, you defrost more & shade the outside of the hull (by hanging one of those reflective auto dashboard sun shades over the side of your hull where the fridge is).

In warm climates, our fridge & our watermaker are the greatest energy draws. GB's explaining to me that our fridge uses salt water to cool the condenser via a cooling ring that attaches to the thru-hull (Isotherm) as opposed to the type that uses salt water in a pump configuration like Glacier Bay uses; or an air fan to cool it. Whatever your design, insulate the box by filling the voids all around it with that spray-expand-o insulation stuff. That's the best work you can do to keep the fridge running its most efficiently. Whatever your fridge draws now in energy, GB sez expect it to increase at least 50% when you get down to the tropics.

We have a KISS wind generator that's as quiet as they come, and works great when the wind blows; & 2 solar panels giving us 180 watts - but we actually need 300 if we depended exclusively on solar. The solar actually works better on more days than the wind generator does, though we've found both are useful for keeping the batteries topped off. But if there's no wind, our 2 solar panels allow us to stay at anchor without running the engine for 3 or 4 days. So, if we could find space for 2 more solar panels, we'd put 'em up - other boats our size with 4 solar panels can spend more time at anchor than we can, especially if the wind's calm. Although, we've only needed to run the engine a few times to recharge our batteries, over the course of 3 months cruising the Sea of Cortez. I think I saw you have a stern arch, so you might want to fill it with solar if you haven't already. Solar panels are rare and expensive down here, so make sure you have all the panels & replacement parts you need before you head down here. We don't have a generator on board & don't especially need one for the type of cruising we do here in Mexico for now - but if we ever change our minds, or start spending weeks at a time in one anchorage, a generator is something that's more available down here (though about 40% more expensive than in the US).

Batteries: our boat came with 2 wet-cell batteries (360 amp hours in the house bank) which was inadequate for 4-season cruising. GB replaced them with 3 4D gels, which gave us 520 amp hours (fast acceptance & discharge rate, but still minimum for our usage). But our batteries have held up nicely because they're in balance with our charging system, an Ample Power high-output alternator that's externally regulated. GB's telling me that what you want to aim for is a house bank that covers your energy draw (fridge, lights, watermaker, whatever), taking into consideration how long you might want to spend at any one spot. Also, GB sez your alternator's output should be about 20-25% of the total in your house bank (we have 520 amp hours, & our alternator puts out 80 to 90 amps, which is close enough). Aim for an externally-regulated alternator that goes through a 3-stage charge (bulk, absorption & float). Go to Ample Power & pick their brains - they're cool guys. Finally make sure the output wire going from your alternator to the battery bank is large enough to handle the flow without burning itself (and ultimately, the boat) up.

Bottom line: your energy/battery recharging plan may need some tweaking as you go, but with the right number & kind of batteries, the proper size alternator & output wire, & the right number of solar panels & possibly a wind generator, you can bring your energy system into balance. Balancing will take a long while.

That's it for batteries - hope some of it makes sense...

westsail 28 under sail

We were out sailing this weekend in beautiful weather, 10 to 15 knots out of the north and buckets of sunshine. We sailed on White Cloud and caught up with Ben a couple times on his Westsail 28. At one point, we grabbed this footage as we caught up to him just east of Port Madison:

Beautiful boat, yes? The rest of the pics are up here.

View Larger Map

update: now with google map goodness

47°43'11.63"N 122°30'34.19"W

the gallant fox - inside passage

Continued from here.

What are the can't miss spots in the Inside Passage?

Gallant Fox:
Here are the spots I liked the best that are in the Gulf Islands, going north. Look 'em up in the Douglass guide or Northwest Boat Travel - I personally would avoid the Dreamspeaker guides as we found they're full of errors & very expensive books.

Gulf Islands: Bedewll Harbour, Montague Harbour, Ganges (best provisioning, shops, restaurants, events)

Nanaimo has a great chandlery - Harbour Chandler - close to the municipal dock. It's an OK stop if you need it, & once there it's fun to roam around town & finding a great meal is easy - but it's gotten pretty crowded out in the anchorage with permanent residents & abandoned boats - almost no room for transients any more.

Desolation Sound: Squirrel Cove (store & restaurant are a dinghy ride away from the anchorage), Prideaux Haven, Gorge Harbour (fuel, dock, store, onshore hike to Whaletown).

Quadra Island: Rebecca Spit = one of my all-time favorite places (excellent anchorage, tidepooling, & hiking on the spit - good place to spend a few days), fuel dock, restaurants & supermarket in Heriot Bay, the town across from the spit)

Octopus Islands - also a good place to spend a few days - we really enjoyed our time here, too

Port Neville, along Johnstone Strait - good place to get off the Strait if the weather kicks up - go ashore at the public dock & say hi to Lorna if you end up there - she ay still be there & show you around her family's old homestead.

Kwatsi Bay - great for practice with deep water, steep-to anchoring (unless you find a spot on the dock at the resort in there) but gorgeous waterfalls everywhere

Windsong Resort in Echo Bay - check out the pictographs, pay for some time in the bathtub/shower, hike over the 2500-year-old shell midden past the school. If you have to pay for tying up to a dock with no shore power or water, this one's worth it for all there is to see on shore.

Mamalilaculla - an abandoned Native village fast disappearing into the forest, but worth anchoring in the little cove northwest of the ruins.

Turnbull Cove - excellent all-weather anchorage; lots of fishing & dinghy trips including a set of awesome tidal rapids nearby; hiking; on your way thru the narrows heading toward Turnbull you even pass a pictograph set halfway up the cliff face on your port side. Hella cool. Turnbull was one of my all-time favorite spots in the Broughtons.

Lady's Boot Cove - need the Douglass guide to find this one - I can't recall which island it's on. : \

Port McNeill - you'll be ready to tie up at the dock here - the water's the best for miles around, the fuel's good, plus there's lots of restaurants, laundromats, stores, galleries & supermarkets on shore. Everybody stops here & it's all very enoyable.

Think you'd go farther than Port McNeill? Port Hardy is the next provisioning/fuel stop -- & after that, we turned left & rounded Cape Scott instead of pushing further north. But ask around - there's bound to be other folks at Shilshole who've continued north...

the gallant fox - tidal rapids

Continued from here.

Rapids, right. That's a great question. [ed: talking about tidal rapids throughout the Inside Passage] I've never navigated rapids either. At least, not in a 40' sailboat. Love to hear what advice you have on that.

Gallant Fox:
Fear not. Here's what I learned:

Go thru all rapids as close to slack as you can. Doesn't matter what phase of the moon you're in - just aim for slack. The WA & BC tide tables are both excellent for determining slack - just pick whichever set is easiest for you to understand - making sure it covers all the areas you plan to go. Also, read the introductory parts to make sure you allow for Daylight Saving Time if necessary - so you don't shoot the rapids early or late.

If you plan to go thru the set of 3 rapids on your way up to Johnstone Strait (Whirlpool is one of them), look in the Douglass cruising guide or Northwest Boat Travel for the timing of each of the 3 rapids - I recollect for those, if you're moving north you hit the first set a bit earlier than slack on an outgoing tide; aim for total slack for the middle set; & pass the 3rd set after slack when the tide's outgoing (that is, going north if you're going north).

Malibu Rapids, going in to Princess Louisa, is tricky because it's a blind S-shaped curve. But, if you're up there in April, there's likely no other boat traffic around you. Go thru this one at absolute slack (you'll see the difference on the water with the currents, if you get there a bit early). It's scary but doable - and worth it. If you can, follow another boat in who's been there before.

So that's it for shooting rapids. It's easier once you do it once or twice. Just keep it at slack & you'll be fine - our boat's a 40-footer too, 6-foot keel, & we did fine. Don't be shy about revving up your engine if you feel the current grabbing your keel.

the gallant fox - route planning

I posted an entry from a fellow sailing blog last week about the overwhelming generosity and inclusiveness in the sailing community. Witness:

A couple, MS & GB, from Shilshole are this very moment cruising the Sea of Cortez aboard their sailboat, the good ship Gallant Fox. They've been in port for awhile now waiting out the remainder of the hurricane season so they've had ample time to update their blog. They've been posting some really great up-to-date information on what it's like to be cruising in Mexico. They've sprinkled in stuff on Mexican history, some side trips into mainland Mexico, cooking, sunbrella, and Mexican beauracracy with a great writing style that makes their posts a real pleasure. I posted a simple comment on one of their entries thanking them for the information. I got an email back from M offering advice, experience and sea stories for the asking. Well, ask I did! But what I got back was reams of fantastic information on all sorts of topics. It really seemed a shame to let this brain dump languish in email so I asked for M's permission to post this on the blog. There's really too much to do in one blog post so I'll stretch it out over a couple posts. Make sure you head over to their blog and read what they've posted.

Gallant Fox:
I'd recommend to anybody to take off up the Inside Passage beginning in late March/early April, weather & your boat gear permitting. Yes there was ice on the deck in April when we went to Desolation Sound, but we were the ONLY boat in Prideaux Haven. There's so much to see in the Inside Passage, we moved very slowly, rounded Cape Scott in early July, moved down the Pacific coast of WA, OR & CA, sort of semi-harbor hopping in August (zero wind & 100% fog 25 miles offshore but other folks who sailed 75 miles offshore got gales). September in So.Cal. October in Ensenada, Mexico. Rounded Cabo San Lucas the 3rd week in November. OK to flat-out nice weather the whole way.

I'm really glad to hear about your schedule! I was wondering if we were gonna be pushing it if we headed north from Seattle in April/May time frame. Our plan is to beat the Bayliner crowd up through the San Juan/Gulf Islands and on into the Inside Passage. Your route sounds very similar to what we were thinking. Late spring head north. Turn around in time to arrive back in Seattle in August and fix anything that needs fixin' before we tackle the big bad Pacific. Then hit a late August/September weather window down the coast. We'd like to spend a week or two in SF. Really, I just want to sail under the Golden Gate Bridge but we've got some friends in SF that it would be nice to see. I figured we'd hit San Diego around the end of September, early October and do whatever last minute US provisioning/outfitting. I figured we don't want to round Cabo before the first of November. What do you think of those time frames/weather windows?

Gallant Fox:
Your general time frames look good - mainly because you're giving yourselves enough time and therefore flexibility to (1) hunker down somewhere for a few days if the weather gets bad & then you have to wait even another day or 2 for the waves to lie back down; (2) give yourself time to do any unexpected repairs or provisioning; or (3) if all's going great & you're traveling faster than you expected, you have more time to spend in another place further down the road - either more time in SF; or maybe a day or 2 longer in Monterey; etc.

If you have boat insurance, check with your carrier to see if they have any rules about how early or how late they want you to be places. Example: some carriers don't want you to be north of the 50th parallel before a certain date (due to incoming Pacific gales); or south of the 27th parallel after June 1 (due to hurricane potential). That said, prohibitions are usually taken care of by either paying for a rider, or staying someplace secure (like a marina with an established hurricane plan). If you're uninsured, just stay careful & keep in mind the weather - insurance carriers play the percentages so if they don't like a certain place during a certain season, you might not like being there, either. [snip...]

Definitely, you'll be ahead of the Bayliners if you leave Seattle early April. Yes, it'll be cold & there will be more days when it's wet and/or blustery, but there's a bazillion places to dive into all along the way, all with good bottoms assuming your anchor & chain combo are sturdy enough. Example: every time we left Seattle, if we left after work we'd just scoot over to Kingston & then leave the next morning for either Port Ludlow or if the wind & tides were favorable we'd go all the way up to Aleck Bay on the bottom of Lopez Island in the San Juans. From there we'd go to either Echo Bay on Sucia Island, or go up the western side of the San Juans & stay at either Garrison Bay (pretty silted in by now, tho) or cross directly over to Sidney BC & check-in to Canada at the Customs dock there. If you have one of those quick-pass permits that allows you to phone in your entry into Canada, you could skip Sidney & anchor in Bedwell Harbour - another fave of ours.

Lots of anchorages in Desolation Sound that will be all yours in April or early May. Regardless of which set(s) of rapids you decide to shoot on your way up into Johnstone Strait, there are plenty of cool spots so you can't go wrong. We went over Quadra Island way with Rebecca Spit as a stop before going thru Surge Narrows & exploring Octopus Islands. Our strategy was, that direction you don't have to time a whole bunch of rapids in succession. But whichever way you go, set aside some time to see several anchorages & docks in the Broughton Archipelago - there's a lot of First Nations history there. I think you'd really enjoy the bathtub/shower experience you'll have if you tie up at the Windsong dock in Echo Bay. Windsong is the dock on the north side of Echo Bay - it's less developed than the other one, but has a lot of character. [snip...]

Coming down the Pacific coast, your greatest hazard will be crab pots. You have to stay at least 25 miles offshore and in at least 500 feet depth, to avoid them. You can barely see the floats during the day, & they're impossible to see at night. You do not want a fouled prop from the crab pots - it could be very dangerous if the seas got up. Therefore, when you come in closer to shore than 25 miles/500 feet, make sure it's during the day and always have at least on eextra pair of eyes looking out for the telltale floats. You'll see them everywhere from Tatoosh Island to Point Conception - so just pay attention & you'll be fine. Distance and depth are your friends.

More to follow.


Christy's birthday was Friday and we threw down a party for her. Loads of folks came over to pre-func on the boat before heading over to the Lockspot for some libations and frivolity. As usual, these pics were taken by Ben and Gina.

Ben got Christy a human skull filled with vodka. Just how we like our vodka!

Kim got her this great Old Man and the Sea hat.

The party then traveled to the Lockspot Cafe, where Ken V. kept buying everyone rounds of some mysterious shot he likes to call "Crack in the Earth". Christy likes to call them "Hangover Makers".

Gina likes her Crack In The Earth stirred, not ... umm... not un-stirred.

Fisher recoiling at Ken's description of "how big".

Aileen cannot get enough of "boat" talk.

(Some photos are better without a caption.)

Ken W. and Tammy

Kim and Ben looking dead sexy.

Like any good party, afterwards we went to an old wooden schooner and cooked pancakes.

Ben and Christy.

Dogpile on Kim.

Happy Birthday, sweetheart.

47°40'04.69"N 122°23'45.14"W


This was our first trip out by ourselves on our shiny new boat. This was our first trip anchoring overnight in our shiny new boat. And. Christy's birthday. It was all and all, a festive weekend!

After an unknown problem with the main furler (turns out later it needed lubrication) and light winds, we motored over to Poulsbo to hang out for the night. We watched a beautiful sunset over Liberty Bay.

This trip we discovered how cool it is to go places for a weekend and take your house with you.


Christy steering out of Shilshole.

Reading before the sun went down.

And there it goes.

47°43.1'N 122°37.7'W


This is a snippet from a great blog post by someone we met the other day who just bought a Northwest 21.

I am SO encouraged by the friends we are making along the way. Everyone who learns we have just bought a boat smiles giddily like I've just announced Santa Claus is in the next room. Everyone is so helpful, so friendly, so NICE to us. I think it's because we all understand (even those of us who haven't fully realized it yet) that we've all just sunk lots of our hard earned money into something that has the potential to both kill us and bring us the greatest satisfaction we have ever known. Everyone, and I mean EVERYone, who has sailed and has found out about our boat gets this LOOK. I can't quite explain it. It's like we are all part of this secret society and they are thrilled that we've just joined. Sailors seem to know something the rest of us don't.

Amen, LoLo.

public service announcement

I read sailing blogs incessantly. Virtually everything I know about cruising aboard sailboats came from someone who is out there and doing it and good enough to blog about it. That's what I want our blog to be. I want people to read our blog and be inspired. I want folks to learn from what we're doing and the mistakes we make and realize that they can do it too.

Towards that end, we're going to have a new and unfortunately all too regular feature here on svhelloworld.com. It's called Things Jason Fucked Up Learn From Our Experiences! (OK, we're still working on the title.) When we screw something up, do something wrong, break something, injure someone or just generally cock something up, we'll put it up on the blog so y'all can learn from us. I just wonder if the internet infrastructure can handle the bandwidth it will take to document the sheer volume of buffoonery. So, welcome to our first installment.

(Note: it's going to get a little graphic from here on out. If you a.) get queasy easily, b.) are currently eating or c.) are my mom, it's best you stop reading)

Our story begins at the pumpout dock. For those unfamiliar with life on a sailboat, the pumpout dock is a necessary evil. Sure, we have toilets on board but where does all that "stuff" go? We are not connected to any sort of city sewer system and dumping that "stuff" directly overboard into the marina where all of our boats are parked is pretty gross. So we direct it into what are euphemistically called "holding" tanks. What do they "hold"? Stuff.

At one end of the equation, we have a 10 gallon "holding" tank on board, bursting at the seams with fetid, rotting "stuff". Now, the stuff that comes out of each and everyone of us starts out as fairly unpleasant. But when you let this stuff sit in a tank for two, three, four weeks at a time, it transforms into an unholy solution of everything wrong in the world.

At the other end of the equation is the waste pump. It's a simple nozzle connected by 20 feet of hose to a pump like no other pump. A stadium full of Turkish hookers couldn't match the sucking power of this pump. The theory is that you hold the nozzle onto the fitting on deck called "waste" that leads to the "holding" tank, turn on the suction at the nozzle and the pump will suck out the "stuff" into some mysterious tank somewhere and out of your life for good.

Here's the part that I need you to listen to very carefully. Lean forward closer to your monitor if you must. If you're listening to music, turn it off. Just turn it off. This is something you will thank me a thousand times over for telling you. When holding the nozzle onto the deck fitting:


When you apply that suction force from the pump to the "waste" outlet, the contents of the "holding" tank will come roaring up that outlet hose like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. If you do not provide a strong enough seal between the nozzle and the deck fitting...


I've taken three showers and I still can't get the smell out of my brain.

47°40'49.04"N 122°24'30.54"W

blake island

We finally got her ready for her first sail! We've working so hard for a long time to reach this point. I was giddy as a schoolgirl getting ready to go. My good friend and ex-co-worker, Ryan, from the Bay area was flying up specifically to go sailing with us so that gave us a hard deadline to get all the work done that needed to be done.

With Fisher's help (of course), we got the dodger on.

And then Ben stopped by to lend us a hand (of course) getting the blocks setup on the dinghy davits and outboard motor crane. We then stowed the outboard on the stern rail and hoisted the dinghy on to the davits. We're starting to look like a real cruising boat! Now, all we need is to line the decks with jerry cans and add some solar panels and it'll look like we've been doing this forever.

Ben and Gina had plans to meet us down at the south end of Blake Island. Rather than wait for them, we were chompin' at the bit to get out there so we took off. Fisher came with us on Hello World rather than solo sail White Cloud. As much as I love White Cloud, it was only fitting that he was on board for the first sail. He's put almost as much sweat equity into this boat as we have.

Fisher and I did some last minute rig tuning while motoring around West Point.

We hauled out the sails in about, oh, zero knots of wind. So we intermittently motored and sailed our way towards the south end of Blake Island to shield us from at least some of the predicted northerlies that evening.

Ryan performing the traditional sailor pose. And watching our windex do 360s.

We pulled up to an empty mooring bouy (or as Ryan calls them - "Bill Murray balls") for the night. I was not particularly confident in our anchoring skills just yet. Also, the anchors haven't even been pulled out of the anchor locker from the trip up from Mexico. One of these days.

Still buzzing from the bottle of rum he annihilated on the trip over, Fisher decided a swim in the Puget Sound was just the ticket. Water temp? About 50°.

No sooner had I rowed into shore to pick up the near hypothermic Fisher, Ben and Gina showed up in his beautiful Westsail 28. We tried to raft up to do dinner but the anchorage was a little too bumpy from passing wakes. I also wasn't crazy about two large heavy boats on a single mooring ball for the evening. My caution earned my a new nickname: Safety Pup. Awesome. Ben and Gina motored about 100 yds away and dropped anchor.

We tried tieing them off our stern for a while but Safety Pup still wasn't satisified.

Ben and Gina came over to Hello World and threw down a ridonculously good dinner. French beef stew, mashed potatoes and an awesome raspberry pie.

After cleaning up, we went up on deck and soaked in a jaw-dropping sunset.

This is Ben's Westsail. He has a line of Tibetan prayer flags running along his topping lift that looked incredible.

The next morning, we poked our head out and saw it blowing like stink out on the Sound. We threw together a quick breakfast for everyone and then bolted off the mooring ball to get out into the wind.

We made the prudent decision to unfurl every stich of sail we have on this boat minus the spinnaker. It was blowing a consistent 15 to 20 knots. We found out she's over-canvased as we got a healthy weather helm and some nice heeling. But man it was fun!

Ben on the Westsail tiller.

Gina on the Westsail helm with Hello World whooshing by in the background.

Ben flying the prayer flags on a beat.

Ryan's a natural.

I can't think of a way to make this inaugural sail any better. Unbelievable weather, sun, wind, great friends, the Puget Sound. We set the bar pretty high on this trip.

Since we moved (more on that later), we can't seem to really find anything. Including the upload cables for our cameras. So these pictures are all courtesy of Ryan, Fisher, Ben and Gina. Thanks guys!

They're re-hosted here and here along with a truckload more pictures.

View Larger Map

47°31'46.52"N 122°29'30.18"W