Rain, limited amounts of daylight and some unexpected setbacks, kept eating up our time and preventing us from getting the boat in the water as quickly as we had hoped. The day finally came for the launch and we found ourselves with only a few additional items to complete.  Connect our masthead light (tri-colored lights), VHF antenna, and our wind indicator to the top of our mast. Simple enough right? Of course this did not go as smoothly as one would think. Why would it? It’s a boat! Right? Just as we reached for the wind instrument it fell off the cardboard box it was resting on and went crashing to the ground. The same wind vane that we had stored safely wrapped in bubble wrap for almost a month now. One of the little wind scoops on the end snapped off and another one cracked. While disappointed, we didn’t let it bring us down. We were going in the water that day! We went ahead and attached what was left of the wind instrument, basically just the needle to tell us which direction the wind was coming from, and removed what was left of the wind scoop portion. We would worry about getting up the mast and ordering a replacement piece later.

By lunch the marina had the boat in the water. Next up? Attaching the mast and all of the rigging. Two guys placed our 42 foot mast into a cradle and rolled it over to the side dock near our boat, while a third operated the crane lifting it up and suspending it near the center of our boat. The mast remained suspended above the boat until Grant had connected and taped all of the electrical wire connections for the lights, radio, etc. I went below and starting flipping switches to confirm that everything was connected correctly. Confirmed! We were good to go!

Ready to step     Stepping the mast.

One of the boatyard workers mentioned the tradition of putting a new coin under the mast step (platform that supports the mast) with the current year. The coin apparently serves two purposes. Serves as a time capsule for the last time the mast had been off of the boat, and hope is the offering will bring good luck and a safe passage. Someone donated a 2012 quarter and it was positioned next to the previously placed copper penny. The mast was lowered over the mast step and held in position once again, while Grant attached the 6 middle standing rigging lines. As Grant tightened each line, we found that one of the shrouds on the port side was still too long.  And by too long, I mean with the turnbuckle tightened all the way (“double-blocked“), it was still slack.  Not exactly what you want in your rig.   So – we did some last minute cutting, and reassembly.  Soon our mast was attached to the boat without a forestay, or a backstay attached.  The four lower shrouds (smaller wires) alone were keeping the mast aloft at the moment, while the remaining stays were up, but not connected to their chainplates.

On her way     Watching a dinghy in the bay.  A beautiful day for a sail.

Our next problem was that our cutter stay and our forestay would not quite reach to be attached, and the back stay also appeared too long!  They were close but not reaching, probably only an inch off from making it.  What? The cutter stay we never replaced and the backstay and forestay we measured exactly to the originals. Darkness had gotten the better of us and Otto and his crew said we should call it a day, but that we could stay in the boatyard slip until morning, when they would help us get the rest of the rigging attached. Otto said he liked what he saw so far and that everything looked normal. We started the engine and moved to the slip next door. Engine started, check! It spit out a bunch of antifreeze and we let it run awhile. We were ok with moving, but noticed a ton (understatement) of seagulls (and their little white presents) on the docks where we were moving our boat. Nice!

Gulls everywhere!     Gone...for now.

After getting settled, we walked to the marina and had fish and chips and clam chowder again to celebrate our boat getting splashed. We scared the dickens out of a pelican who had a bizarre scruffy response to the interruption. I also watched as a seal danced around the bay looking for any leftover fish he could grab off the fishing boats.

Friday, Otto came to check on us he offered an easy solution to get the rest of the rigging attached. We should release some tension on the lowers and tighten the uppers, bringing the mast foreword, enough to attach the fore stay and cutter stay. After a few moments of tweaking this worked. We went to the boatyard office to pay our bill and they loaded us up with a bunch of swag. T-shirts, lanyards, key chain floats etc. accompanied us back to our boat.

Attaching the VHF antenna to the masthead.     20121213_luckycoin6

We were ready to motor through the harbor to our slip. Grant mentioned he wasn’t sure how much gas we had. (comforting!) We would have to dig in the floor to look at the fuel gauge and also check the oil, however we decided we really just wanted to get to our slip and took our chances. It brought to light, some flashbacks to an experience we had on Lake Michigan where our little outboard died at (when else) an unhelpful moment.  So, we rigged the staysail just in case, our engine suddenly stopped working on the way to the slip. It was actually faster than digging up the floor to check the fuel gauge. We made it smoothly to our slip with little effort.

We discussed our approach for docking in detail and we had our dock lines set. However, each docking experience is always unique. Grant made the turn and I ran with the roving fender to the port side. I noted we were clear! Then I  ran to the starboard side, to grab the spring line and tie us off. Of course after some shouting from Grant to hurry, when I ran to the other side I managed to brush one of the new rigging shrouds with my arm (my first boat owie). I grabbed the spring line and jumped onto the dock..

We found our boat just keeps moving with very little effort. Grant had put the boat into neutral a LONG time ago. He jumped off starboard right before me to grab the rear line. Grant ran to the bow, and grabbed the forward line. The boat had stopped but needed some adjusting and we had successfully docked without hitting anything. I’m sure there will be plenty of chances to work on our technique!

Tucked in her slip, safe and sound.     The parade of lights.  A Christmas tradition in Ventura!

Friday and Saturday the marina hosted a Christmas Parade of Lights.  You can check out a nice video of it here.  We felt it was a nice welcome into our slip! Boats from the marina decorated themselves with a theme and used their boat as a float in the water parade.  With keys to the dock, we were able to get a front row seat! Following the parade were fireworks both nights.

We spent the weekend, adjusting dock lines, tightening halyards, and cleaning the cockpit. The top of the boat got pretty dirty during transport.


  • Congratulations! My name is Armando Villa, I live in Galena, Illinois and I heard about you on the PBS program River to River with Ben ….
    Anyhow, I am from Colombia and one of my high school friends of Russian origin named Sergio Beszonoff had a similar dream like yours and he and his wife purchased a boat to make a trasatlantic and Mediterranean voyage. They have a blog (I think it is in Spanish) but Sergio knows a lot about boats and stuff. All their transatlantic crossing was tracked on Google Earth.
    Their website is
    Sergio speaks English fluently and I am sure you will have a lot of ideas and adventures to share!
    Good luck and keep the postings,
    Sincerely Armando in Terra Firme actually is http://www.TierraLinda.com

  • Looked at all your photos….thanks for sharing! I know you and Grant will enjoy every moment.
    We wish you only the best! Scott & Cathy

  • I am so excited for you guys! Janda and I are totally living vicariously through you. Be safe!

  • Hi Grant and Denise,

    It’s a cold day here in Iowa, and the rain is slowly melting our snow. Lake Macbride is frozen over.

    It’s so nice to read about your adventures on the Pacific. There’s nothing like the smell of the ocean and the lift and fall of big waves. Love your blog!

    Miss You,
    Joyce T

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