S/V Hello World's Travel Log

Big day

June 15, 2013

Today was shower day. It’s a big event on Hello World since it doesn’t happen very often. Two weeks for Jason and a week for me; with babywipe wipedowns in between. We were running the motor most of the day, which means we have hot water – there’s a heat exchanger on the engine to warm up the tank. We can heat it with electricity like any other house, but it takes a lot of juice and we don’t bother since we motor often enough. We also got the watermaker finally cleared of antifreeze, which means we can use (almost) as much water as we want.

So shower day it was! It’s a process, as with anything on the boat. After you’ve cleared out the shower of all of the paddleboards and whatever else has been stowed away since the last shower, you’ve got to make sure the hatch is open to vent the steam so you don’t humidify the whole boat and make the mold problem worse than it already is. You also have to remember to turn on the sump pump breaker, which is quite a ways from the shower itself. I always remember to turn this on right when I need the sump, meaning I’m completely wet down and the floor is starting to overflow. Jason usually dutifully stops what he’s doing and turns it on for me so I don’t have to traipse through the entire boat dripping water everywhere.

Today he showered first, so the pump was already on. But this did mean I had to use his wet towel, since the other bath towel is in our refrigerator. Oh, you don’t keep bath towels in your refrigerator? Weird.

We need said bath towel in the fridge because our fridge door, which lifts up from the counter, doesn’t close all the way. Jason spent an inordinate amount of time before our Alaska trip building a new fridge. From scratch. The one that came with the boat was original, took an order of magnitude more power than it really should have and the insulation was shot since it was so old. Oh, and did I mention that the wall of the old fridge followed the shape of the hull? Having curved refrigerator walls made it a constant challenge to efficiently pack it full. And forget trying to find anything once you did.

So Jason built a new fridge. Tore the old one out down to the hull and rebuilt it – tons of insulation, a hugely efficient condenser and in a shape that was actually useable. He built a new lid for it out of the most gorgeous piece of eucalyptus butcherblock that I’ve ever seen. It took him 11 months to build. Eleven months. It’s lovely. It’s just that the lid doesn’t close. At some point last summer that gorgeous piece of butcherblock swelled from the damming humidity that we are always fighting and no longer fits into the hole in the counter. So to keep the cold air in, we keep a bath towel on top of the fridge.

What we do...

June 8, 2013

Note to mother-in-laws of the author – you might want to skip to the next post.

People often ask what we do on a boat all day while we’re cruising and not working. It’s a question I often ask myself – we get back from a few months off and I have not much to show for it beyond a few books that I’ve read and pictures from hiking or otherwise amusing ourselves.

The last person to ask me what we do all day was my boss. It was my going away party and I may have been slightly overserved when I answered that we read, we paddle, we work on the boat, and, because apparently this was not a good enough set of activities to justify the three months off on which we were about to embark, I added, for good measure “and we have lots of sex”. To my boss. Therein ended the conversation, both of us fully embarrassed and probably one of us slightly confused.

I’ve never been good at answering conversations when I feel like I’m on the spot, and apparently this was one of those times. Funny that I ended up as a trainer and stand in front of people all day long answering their questions.

I write this as I am sitting on the salon floor surrounded by buckets and bowls and cups of water. We winterized the boat to leave it in Alaska for the past 8 months and to that end, we added RV antifreeze to all of our water lines. I got the feeling they don’t make boat antifreeze, we just take the sloppy seconds from the RVers of the world. Probably because most people on boats are smart enough to sail to southern latitudes where they are not in need of anything to keep their pipes from freezing and bursting. We, however, are not so smart.

RV antifreeze is this unholy pink stuff whose only saving grace is that it is non-toxic. Putting regular ol’ automotive antifreeze in your waterlines seems like a bad idea if you want to actually drink out of those lines someday. So at the end of the summer last year, we filled up every last line we could think of with it. Leaving the task of getting it out of those lines to be dealt with next year. Well, next year is here and we are systematically flushing the lines. This seemed like an easy task when we started, and after a quick runthrough and making sure there was no pink tinge left in the lines, we started making lemonade and adding Nalgenes of water to the fridge to cool off. It was only when we consumed said beverages that we realized that clear water does not necessarily equate to antifreeze-free water. And an even bigger revelation: RV antifreeze tastes so chemically repulsive that it’s best to spit it out into any of the nearest receptacles. So more flushing ensued.

Today’s job has been to flush out the watermaker lines. This may seem like an easy task, until you look at a diagram of the lines that looks like a pile of spaghetti running through our boat. The watermaker itself is a magical device. Officially it’s a reverse osmosis system, but really, it makes fresh water out of salt water and keeps us from having to go into port to fill our tanks very often. You can imagine that this contraption is fairly complicated – there are membranes and high pressure pumps. Booster pumps and multiple filters, charcoal and otherwise.

As a sidenote, if your high pressure pump ever stops working, I would recommend not carrying it in your luggage back to a repair shop in your hometown. TSA does not take kindly to small, extremely dense devices with wires coming out of them. Apparently high pressure pumps look somewhat like bombs. I managed to get ours through one TSA checkpoint, in Sitka, but it was unwise of me to leave security and attempt another pass in Juneau. Maybe TSA agents in capital cities are a bit more jittery about these things.

So here I sit, with our repaired high pressure pump (which, once repaired, I chose to ship back to the boat instead of try my luck with Seattle TSA), flushing out watermaker lines. Our watermaker makes about 5 gallons of fresh water an hour, and I figure I’ve filled up about 7 three-gallon buckets-worth of water, bowl by bowl, in the flushing. All punctuated by my occasional taste test, a nauseating reminder that I am not yet finished, and continued flushing. These are the types of things we do while we’re cruising, I mean, when we’re not busy having sex.


I’ve always been a list person. My mom is a list person. As is my best friend, in fact, she creates lists of her lists. I add things to my list after they are complete, just so I can cross something else off. I love crossing things off my list; it makes me think I’ve really accomplished something in a day to see the majority of things on a paper crossed off. They’re never all crossed off, but that’s beside the point.

Today, I decided to stop being a list person. At least for the summer. Lists for me have always been a comfort. If I’m stressing about something, especially at night, I capture it on a list, and then forget about it. I mean, eventually I get to it, if I don’t lose the list that is. But it’s also been source of stress, those lists. There’s always so much to do. If I’m idling about doing not much of anything, I’m always thinking about the things I should be doing. So this summer, no lists.

Day 1 has been successful, I’d say. In fact, I got more done today without a list than I normally do with it. I’ve found (in my 1 day sample size) that if something needs doing, I just do it. It means I got sidetracked a lot: I started off putting a plate back on the mast and ended up reorganizing the bin of lubes that we have (not that kind of lube – get your mind out of the gutter). Normally I’d probably put that sort of thing on a list to come back to later, but today I just got it done.

Take writing a book, for example. It’s one of those things I’ve always thought about doing. To tell you the truth, it never has made it on to one of my lists, but here I am, on day one of my list-recovery and I’ve started a book. This is going to be a great summer.

(Side note: I’ve since decided to abandon the book and post my writings as blog posts. Like I would ever finish a book. So I figured I could at least amuse you, dear readers.)

Putting the boat back together

We are so very happy to report that Hello World made it through the winter with no issues at all. We had someone in town keeping an eye on her once a week. He kept a great log, but all we got in Charlotte were boat watching and utilities bills, so we assumed she was still floating (or if she had sunk, someone took our spot and hooked up to our shore power).

We didn’t want to act like helicopter parents, so we kept our wishes for daily updates and pictures to ourselves.

We had left every possible device running to keep the boat dry and mold-free: multiple large fans, a heater and a dehumidifier. When we arrived back, that work had largely paid off as there was very little mold – woohoo! The dehumidifier wasn’t running, so we’re not sure when during the winter it stopped – but either we didn’t need it, or it stopped recently.

We had not tented the boat, so topsides were pretty green, but then again, the sun had done a good majority of the work of stripping our varnish for us too. A day of scrubbing and scraping got her looking great again.

The biggest issue we had was getting the RV antifreeze taste out of our lines – that took about 3 tanks-worth of just running good water through before it got to tasting normal again.

We still have some work to do (like getting to the top of the mast to right our windvane which was apparently used as a hangout by a rather large eagle), but all things that we can do while we’re cruising – so thank you Wrangell, we’ll see you again someday, but now, we’re headed south!

You Know You’re in Wrangell When…

(I’m stealing this great blog format from my good friends Mike and Anne, who are just finishing their 500 day round-the-world honeymoon)

  • The runway is so small that the plane literally has to do a 180 at the end to get back to the terminal.
  • You can walk home from the airport (when does that ever happen?).
  • The pizza place closes early because they’re out of pizza fixin’s (and out of draught beer) – turns out the supply barge only comes once a week.
  • The people are so friendly that the owner of the grocery store offers to give you a ride back to the marina with all of your groceries.
  • Free lessons in dock surfing abound.
  • You get back to your boat after 9 months of it waiting out an Alaskan winter and it’s in REALLY good shape (and still floating!)

Cross country trip - week 2

Jason needed someone to take pictures on his cross country trip, so he invited me along for the second half (actually, I wasn't interested in riding through Oklahoma on a bike, so I joined him for the fun part).

I flew into Albuquerque and we headed west the very next morning. We both, independently have a hangup about not taking highways on cross country trips - first of all it would make said trips much too short, second of all, you see lots more interesting things on back roads. The Tuba City's of the world just don't live on interstates...

That said, we bombed west on an interstate through the rest of New Mexico until we got to Arizona - it turns out there just aren't any back roads to where we wanted to go - horrors!

We had a great first day and made it to Lee's Ferry, AZ - consequently where we put in for our rafting trip 4 years ago!

We stayed in the cutest little inn...

that had a bathroom so small that they had to make room any way they could.

From there we rode on to Zion...

which I can now cross off my bucketlist - riding a bike through there was as spectacular as I'd imagined.

We decided after this grueling 100-mile day, that we couldn't pass Zion by without hiking, so we plunked down for a night and hit the trails.

We were awed by the hats...

and the asses falling out of shorts.

From Utah, we headed to Nevada, where we took the Extraterrestrial Highway (yes, that's really the name), and immediately saw our first alien!

We decided to bypass Rachel, NV - it just looked a little too sketchy for us.

We attempted to dodge the cows (note the lack of fence - a little scary when you're not surrounded by the cage of a car!).

We had big plans to stay in a place called Tonopah, NV for the night, but it was about the most depressed looking town we've ever ridden through, but our decision was made easier by the only hotel option with a vacancy.

Seriously, so sketchy.

So we decided to go to Mammoth Lakes, CA instead.

We had an AWESOME (albeit cold) ride through Yosemite...

and headed through the western foothills of the Sierras...

until we got to Napa to stay with friends in their 2 story, yurt shaped house next-door to a vineyard.

We headed to the coast...

up highway 1, possibly the best road of the entire trip!

Off to Northern CA, where the cows have a better view than most people.

And the local crazies sit atop thrones of possessions...

outside their favorite stores.

We headed into Oregon, with the best shoreline around, and stayed with our good friend Brenda.

And when we got to Washington, knew we were home when we found our first hipster hitchhikers (sadly, there was no room for them on the bike)...

and then we finally made it home!

Cross country - week 1

I forgot just how much I loved riding and traveling on our motorcycle. We shipped the bike out to Charlotte, NC this winter in part to ride some areas in North and South Carolina but mostly, my hidden agenda was to setup a cross-country ride back to Seattle at the end of our time in Charlotte, NC.

One of my immediate targets for this ride was the Tail of the Dragon. The Dragon is short section of U.S. 129 running through the Smokey Mountains of eastern Tennessee that packs 318 curves into a spectacular 11 miles of riding. At one point half-way through I found myself laughing hysterically in my helmet at just how much fun this road was to ride.

Packing up the bike in Charlotte, NC.

The Tree of Shame. When you eat shit on the Dragon, pieces of your bike get hung on the tree of shame. I was determined to not decorate the Tree of Shame.

I spent a day riding through eastern Tennessee and wished I had more time. It's a beautiful area full of rolling hills and some really nice back roads. Unfortunately, I was on a schedule to meet up with good friends in Arkansas so I had to cut my time short.

Falls Creek Falls State Park in TN.

After a few days with friends in Little Rock, I was looking straight down the barrel of Oklahoma and north Texas. The weather forecast was scattered thunderstorms. I was riding through eastern Oklahoma when the sky started to darken and I started to get nervous. I found a gas station and pulled in under their awning right around the time the sky opened up. Thunder, lightening and torrential rain kept me cowering under the gas station roof for an hour before it let up. Another 30 miles down the road and the Oklahoma weather repeated the performance. This time it never let up. I wasn't relishing the idea of sleeping at a Shell station so I decided to make a run for Oklahoma City. This was probably a mistake. While riding through the lovely hamlet of Donkey Crotch, OK one particularly lightening bolt touched down close enough to convince me that being on a motorcycle in this weather was not a great idea. I pulled into the nearest pay-by-the-hour motel, paid for a full night, locked the door, and tried to decide which of three channels on the TV I was going to watch.

Turns out that same weather system that chased me indoors in Oklahoma was spinning off tornadoes in north Texas. After getting up the next morning, I decided I'd had enough of the heartland. I packed up the bike, got out on to the freeway and dropped the bike into GTFO gear and didn't stop until I got to northern New Mexico.

Here's a photo of the only beautiful thing I could find in the Texas Panhandle.

Christy, being the smarter of the two us was not terribly keen on riding through Oklahoma and Texas, decided she would work an extra week and fly out to Albuquerque, NM to meet me. Since I blew through Oklahoma and Texas faster than I thought I would I had an extra day to kill. So I headed up to Durango, CO and spent a couple days in the San Juan mountain range in southern Colorado.

On Hwy 550 to Silverton, CO.

After a couple days of hooligan riding up the San Juan Skyway and drinking really good beer in Durango, I ran down to Albequerque to pick up Christy and start on the two-up portion of the ride.

35.228554°N 80.832329°W

Cruising Comparison: Bikes vs Boats

When I thought about “cruising” a few months ago, the only thing that really came to mind was cruising on boats. Of course, we’ve lived on Hello World for over four years now, so I suppose that’s natural. It turns out there is a whole class of people who conjure up visions of motorcycles when they hear the word “cruising”. We were fortunate enough to join that group, if for a short time, while riding Jason’s bike back to Seattle from Charlotte. It was on that ride that it occurred to me that cruising on a sailboat is surprisingly similar to cruising on a motorcycle.

Boaters always have something in common. Sailors have even more. Oh and you meet a sailor that has the same boat that you do? Excitement ensues! It turns out, bikes are the same way – nearly ever biker waves to other bikers on the road – it’s just a friendly community. You stop at gas stations, you chat, you talk about gear and where people are going and which roads are the most curvy. We had beer, dinner and even invited to Switzerland with complete strangers.

Those bikers love to talk the biker-lingo (fortunately it’s not as extensive as sailor lingo):
  • Salad bowl: silly half helmets that Harley riders wear so they don't get pulled over for not wearing a helmet
  • Ape hangers: really tall handlebars
  • Squid: the guy riding a sport bike down the freeway at a 100mph doing a wheelie, not a term of affection
  • Cage: car
  • 2-up: two people are riding on one bike.

Because we were riding 2-up, it meant Jason was always in my way – so it felt exactly like home. There was not the regular salon shuffle we have down below since I tried to move as little as possible, but still, I was not homesick.

When above decks, as many of you know, Jason has a nickname of “Safety Pup” – he is certainly the more safety conscious of the two of us (for which my mother is extremely happy). We have rules about when we tether in and how many backup lines he ties on me before I go up the mast. On the bike, Jason continues the Safety Pup tradition and suits me up in only the best gear, which explains our awesome partial face tans (which are eerily similar to Alaska sailing tans).

And as all safety pups of the world know (and fortunately most of the rest of us), some heeling on a sailboat is good, but too much is not-so-fun. Certainly this is true of motorcycles as well. This brings us to the differences in cruising vehicles:
  • Motorcycles are not self-righting (which is really a bummer when you do heel too much)
  • Typical cruising speed on a motorcycle is about 10 times that of our sailboat (yet it took us 54 weeks to sail the 4,697 miles we just covered in 2 weeks on the bike. Hmmmm...)
  • It turns out maintenance on a motorcycle is much easier and certainly less frequent (we went through 3 clogged heads, 1 bowsprit repair and a waterpump replacement in that 4,697 miles vs 1 pint of oil on the bike)
  • It’s not nearly as comfortable to sleep on the bike as it is the boat (yet I still manage)

Overall, I was surprised by the similarities, but upon further reflection, I suppose it comes as no surprise that we love cruising no matter what the form. Either way, we have plenty of spare time to write up really random blog posts. :)