An interesting thing about preparing for a journey like ours is that, for quite some time, people have been giving us credit for having made a voyage that we’re still trying to begin. In discussing our plans, most people react with a combination of envy, amazement
and awe. A few just think we are incredibly stupid. The thing is, we’ve been getting credit for having “sailed around the world” (their simplified phrasing, not mine) before leaving the docks. The truth is, we’re learning to live the voyaging life. Although experienced, and fairly prepared, we are not accomplished world sailors. Not yet.
We have experienced months – possibly years? – of intense busy-ness doing boat projects, preparations, garage sales, packing and pushing to get out of the house. We used to joke that “we’d rest when we went to four-hour watches.” In fact, that is what happened as, stressed and sleep-deprived, we departed Astoria and sailed South. But today was different. Today we woke up in Morrow Bay, CA. Today, time stretches out in front of us in a more leisurely way. There is time for exploring the sand dunes, for paddling, for digging big holes and for cooking a nice meal. It’s a good thing too, because the grocery store is a 25 minute walk! Just now, I feel like we are beginning to be voyagers and, because of the fact that we earned this luxury, it feels hugely satisfying. I doubt it will continue to feel this way, but I am so thankful for what we have right here and now.
After the continual pressure to save money, ready the boat, ready ourselves and so forth, our peaceful time in the quiet town of Morro Bay was a balm to us, and we soaked it up. Although anchoring is possible in the bay, the tidal flow is so strong, typically ebbing and flowing at 3 – 4kts, and the mooring buoys are so convenient and plentiful, that we choose to lie to a mooring 200ft. off the Morro Bay Yacht Club. This gave us great access to laundry, showers wi-fi and gossip, but with far more privacy than boats tied on the dock. It was a perfect setup for us to try to work the kinks out of our long-range SSB radio and Pactor modem used for email, voice and weather info on the high seas. As it turned out, it was also a perfect way to confirm (or deny) that our battery bank was up to the task of cruising. On the docks we would have been plugged into shore power and may have discovered too late that our battery banks were at the end of life stages. On the mooring ball we were forced to run the engine at least once a day to keep the batteries alive, even with minimal power consumption and the extra boost of a wind generator.
And so began the next challenge of changing out the battery banks. Our boat is an island – we generate and store our own power or we don’t have any. With no power, we have no engine and no way to maneuver the boat in an emergency. The batteries are the lifeblood of a cruising boat. Changing the banks to a new system is a technical process and I’ll spare you the technical details, but suffice it to say, its complicated, and everything is a compromise of some sort. Having no car or delivery address is an added challenge not much improved by the fact that we don’t know exactly where we’re going to be be in a few days, or when we’ll arrive wherever we may end up. Everything is determined by the weather and our ability to move peacefully through it. Ultimately, we decided to stuff in 2 Super 8D AGM batteries, total 540 Amp hours, and a Group 31 AGM, 90 Amp hour emergency start battery. We concluded the best place to install the 460+lbs of batteries and cables was San Diego.