Complications, Delays, and a Tough Decision

Today was supposed to be the day. I’ve been claiming October 15 as our departure date for months now. But…here we sit, in our slip in Channel Islands Harbor, NOT sailing south to San Diego.

Don’t worry, we are still going. The good news is that we had plenty of buffer built into our schedule. We’ve had to tap into some of that buffer, but isn’t that was buffers are for?

Our new departure date: next Tuesday, October 22. 

The other good news is that we’ve managed to secure accommodations for our boat in San Diego for the nine nights we will be there. The first three nights will be at a guest slip at Southwestern Yacht Club on Shelter Island, which we get for free (YAY!) due to reciprocals with our yacht club. Unfortunately, the final 6 nights will be at anchor as we couldn’t find any open slips in a marina. This is not uncommon – marina slips are awfully hard to come by right before the Baja Ha-Ha, when 150+ boat suddenly show up looking for accommodations. So we took what we could get. I would have preferred to be in a marina in the days before departure, as this means we have to use the dinghy to get ashore, which as you can imagine is far more complicated than just stepping off the boat onto a dock. And that also means, our final big provisioning before the Ha-Ha will have to be transported by dinghy, which is also way more complicated than just carrying groceries onto a boat.

But, as Charlie reminded me: this is what we signed up for. Once we get down to Mexico, MOST of our nights will be at anchor. So, might as well start getting used to it now!

So why are we delayed by a full week? There are myriad minor tasks that didn’t get done on time, but most of them were not mission-critical. The main reason is our diesel generator, which supplies AC current for the boat. It’s just…not working. It just won’t start. We’ve had the top diesel mechanics in the area working on it for days, but still no joy. The cylinder head has now been removed from the boat and is at a machine shop getting rebuilt. Apparently the valves and seats had pitting and corrosion from lack of use. We are hoping against hope this finally solves the problem.

The #%^@ diesel generator

But even if we don’t get it working, we’re still leaving. We’ll just put the darn thing back together on the boat and set sail. We don’t need it to run the engine or any critical systems…what we need it for is a) an alternate source for recharging the batteries, b) running the water heater, and c) running a water maker. 

So if we don’t have it working, then a) we’ll have to rely on the solar panels and the motor to charge the batteries, b) we’ll have to run the motor to heat water, and c) well, we don’t have a water maker yet! We haven’t yet bought one, waiting to see if the generator gets going. We don’t absolutely need a water maker – we have huge water tanks, and we’ll just have to fill them every time we go to a marina. All of which is not optimal, but we can manage if that’s how things end up. Then we’ll just try to get it fixed in Mexico.

But let’s be optimistic and assume it WILL be fixed. It WILL be fixed. It WILL be fixed. I have faith!

Meanwhile, this extra time has allowed us to feel less pressure for getting other tasks completed. One big one for me was learning how to varnish the exterior teak. We hired a great guy, Tim Haapanen (whom we’ve known for years through the local racing community) to work with me to varnish the cap rails. He and I spent three days stripping, sanding, sealing and putting on six coats. Now that it’s done, I just have to lightly sand and put on two coats about once every six months in order to keep it gleaming. So that’s my new job…I’m in charge of the brightwork. (That’s what you call varnishing the wood on a boat.)

Look at that gleam!

We’ve been chipping away at everything else, too, and have really accomplished a lot! Here’s just a sample of what’s been done since we moved aboard:

  • Installed electric head (WOOHOO! No more hand-pumping!)
  • Repaired headsail
  • Got the life raft and Man Overboard Module serviced & recertified
  • Had the propane tanks recertified & filled
  • Hired an electriction to rewire the radar, check & repair electrical bonding system
  • Had custom shelves built and installed in the gaping holes above the nav station
  • Installed and configured an IridiumGO for satellite communications and offshore weather & routing
  • Had auto-pilot serviced
  • Organized many of the spaces in the boat (not done yet!)
  • Serviced/tuned the dinghy outboard motor
  • Installed new cabin fans
  • Mounted two more large solar panels (which will be even more important if we don’t get the generator working, as they’ll keep the batteries charged)
Our life raft, inflated during servicing. Which we’re NEVER going to use! I promise, Mom.

That’s not even all of it, but yeah…we’ve been busy.

I even managed to squeeze in a race – the Lady at the Helm race – on our friends Bill & Cindy’s boat Maverick. I was at the helm for most of the race. We took second place! (Let’s ignore the fact that there were only two boats in our class please, K? LOL!)

An exciting start! With NO WIND!
Maverick on the course, with me at the helm
The winner of the Lady at the Helm Race (which was not us!)
Cindy and me accepting our second place prize

I’ve also been learning my way around my tiny new galley, and have prepared a few decent meals so far. It’s definitely more complicated – I have almost zero counter space, and find myself constantly moving things around – but I’m working it out.

Not much room to work with!
Curried Tofu & Veggies
Garlic Baked Chicken & Roasted Veggies

We still have a few lingering tasks, but most are not on the critical path and if they don’t get done before departure, we’ll do them in Mexico.

Now for the tough decision. We’ve been giving a lot of thought about how Bubba is going to handle this adventure. He’s not a young dog anymore (he just turned 9!), and we really aren’t sure what life is going to be like down there. Is it going to be too challenging to do this with a dog? We’ve been going back and forth, and back and forth. He does have someone who would happily keep him while we’re gone, my life-long friend Maria Grimardi, who always dog-sits him when we go away. So we knew he’d have a house, a yard, a Mommy who would dote on him. We started thinking it might be better for Bubs if we <gulp> leave him with her.

So last weekend we decided that’s what we were gonna do. 

But I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t even talk about it. I couldn’t think about it. The very idea of handing him off left me feeling punched in the gut.

So I asked our friends Curt & Mary, who are currently cruising in Mexico with their little dog Gracie (and have been for the past 4 years) for their advice and guidance. And they assured me it’s all doable, Gracie is not suffering, and they have never regretted bringing her along. Bubba seems to have adjusted fine to living on the boat…he’s got all new routines now, but he’s got them memorized already. He loves his little bed next to ours in the Captain’s Quarters. And he just loves being with us, wherever we are.

FINAL DECISION: he’s coming with us.

Bubba loves his bed in the Captain’s Quarters
Yeah, I think he likes it here.

Yes it’s going to mean some complications, and yes it may mean we sometimes can’t go places where we can’t bring him, but lots of people are doing it. So we’re giving it a go. If we find it’s too complicated, or too difficult for Bubba, we’ll bring him back and let him live with Auntie Maria, who would love to have him. We’ll have to do that eventually anyway – we can’t take him with us to French Polynesia – but we’re prepared for that, and that’s at least two years off. After two or three years cruising, he’ll be at an age where it’s probably best to get him back living on dry land anyway. 

But we’re just not ready to give him up yet.

So, onward we go. I still have a long list of stuff to do, and not much time to blog or take video. But once we set sail for San Diego, at that point I will consider our cruising life to be officially kicked off…and I’ll start writing more blog entries, and posting more videos on YouTube. Stay tuned! It’s all about to start happening!

18 thoughts on “Complications, Delays, and a Tough Decision

  1. George Fahrenholz says:

    I would make sure that generator works before departing, the more options for electrical power will come in handy and can be life saving especially during a 5 year cruise. The mechanics are much better here in the USA vs Mexico.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. SV Juliet says:

      We’re not giving up! We would definitely prefer to have it. Our contingency plan is to bring a small Honda portable generator, but we’d rather not as it’s a pain to keep on the boat. But at least we’d have a generator!


    1. SV Juliet says:

      Thanks Eva! Honestly I don’t even feel retired yet – been too busy. I’m sure once we get underway it will start to feel real. But right now it’s just an all-out scramble!


    1. SV Juliet says:

      HAHAHA!!! Funny, I just learned that the best place to store the “rum rations” (and bottles of wine) is in the bilge. I got a bunch of wonderful bottles of wine as gifts at our Bon Voyage party, so they are now all safely stowed in the bilge!


  2. Sasha says:

    You’re so amazing and I’m so excited for you! Also, those meals looks incredible! Can’t believe you pulled those together in that tiny space! You two are gonna do so great! Or rather — you three! 😍


  3. Wahine Wendy says:

    I concur with George. We recently needed a part for our Onan and it took 2 months of dogged research to find the part, on-line. Having spent quite a bit of time in Baja over the years, I am of the mindset that if at all possible, I’d get my repairs done Stateside.


  4. SV Juliet says:

    We’re not giving up! We would definitely prefer to have it. Our contingency plan is to bring a small Honda portable generator, but we’d rather not as it’s a pain to keep on the boat. But at least we’d have a generator!


  5. Maria Grimardi says:

    Auntie Maria is always ready for beautiful Bubba Clark to stay with me, so never worry as he has a home with me whenever and for however long he needs!!! Love Bubba Clark to moon and back!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Helen Pantuso says:

    I’m glad you are taking him with you! Dave and I still can’t believe you are going to live in that tiny space; we’d kill each other! (just kidding, well, sort of LOL)


  7. Angie and Mike Gram says:

    We met you at CIWSA last week. Enjoyed your talk of educational cruising with Captain Bligh. We would like to keep in contact and provide ground support if needed. We will have our ham side band up in the next 30 days will you be monitoring email, what’s the best way to keep in touch until then. We’re right behind you. We’ll pick up any anchors you leave! 🙂


    1. SV Juliet says:

      Awesome! I remember meeting you. “Captain Bligh” – HAHAHAHA! Glad you enjoyed my talk. Would love to keep in touch! My email address is You can also follow us on our Facebook page, SV Juliet Sailing. Here’s the link to it:

      We will be monitoring email and Facebook whenever we have a signal, which should be most of the time except when we are very far offshore. Drop me a line! Hopefully we won’t leave any anchors, but we might drop a winch handle or two. LOL!


  8. Karen Raps says:

    When I got to the part about Bubba I gasped! My August is 9 1/2. I could never leave him. As I read on I was glad to see you’re taking him with you. I know Maria is a great place for him, but he loves his Momma and Daddy!


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