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0 In the journal/ travel

Snapshots from the Road: Hawaii

Whew. We have been on the go, and not in our sailboat. In the last 8 weeks, we have been to Hawaii by air (maybe the next visit will be by sail!) followed by road tripping all over the West Coast. We’ll share photos from all of our stops, but here are some iPhone snapshots from our week long trip to Oahu.

20140420-154415.jpgWe hiked to the top of Koko Head Crater – about a mile straight up on railroad ties. It burns. Our goal was to get there at sunrise, and even though we left our place at 5:30 AM, traffic was so terrible we didn’t get to the base of the mountain until 7 AM. Nonetheless, the view was amazing. Behind us is Hanauma Bay where we snorkled the day before.d

20140420-154437.jpgJeff and I hiked to this waterfall and had it all to ourselves. We love opportunities to enjoy little slices of nature. And then – on our way out – we passed a charming couple who warned us about the dangers of leptospirosis from swimming in pools like this. Awesome. Thank you.

20140420-154500.jpgOne morning we did a run/swim/run from the condo to this pristine lagoon. I could backfloat the day away in this water, I love it so.

20140420-154530.jpgWaimea Valley Botanical Garden.

20140423-195746.jpg Waiting for the right time to swim through the shore break at Waimea Bay. 20140423-195754.jpgWise old sea turtles at Laniakea Beach.  20140423-195805.jpgMakapu’u



0 In the journal

Runaway Dinghy: A Lesson in Knot Tying

“A knot is never ‘nearly right’; it is either exactly right or it is hopelessly wrong, one or the other; there is nothing in between.” Clifford Ashley

File this under rookie move #347. Also, my bad.

We spent 5 nights in Avalon last fall (because hello, you pay for 2 nights on the mooring and you get 3 free). During this trip, I was convinced I had the perfect combination of loops and ties for the very best makeshift dinghy hitch. I proudly assured Jeff, “I got this – it’s my own dinghy hitch. ” He was always skeptical. My knot worked every time; except for one time when it didn’t. After a somewhat swelly evening (for Avalon), I woke up and headed out to the cockpit to watch the sunrise on the island. I noticed that the dinghy was tied off on one of our cleats. Not where we left it. Peculiar.

On our morning trip to shore, we ran into a couple at the dock who said they spotted our dinghy floating way out in the harbor the night before. Like, way out. It was late, and they were taking a shoreboat back to their boat when they could just barely see our wayward little dink. Without their own dinghy to chase ours down, they enlisted another couple nearby (after a failed attempt to alert the shoreboat driver who clearly didn’t give a shit.) Enter second nice couple. Being super awesome, good samaritans, they hopped in their dinghy and towed ours in.  We also didn’t have our dinghy marked with any type of identification, yet another rookie move. The only identifiable feature was the little burgundy canvas outboard cover that I made to match the rest of our canvases. They took their best guess and tied it up to our boat. Meanwhile, Jeff and I were enjoying a very peaceful slumber aboard, unaware our dinghy was trying to make a getaway.

So, major thank you to the 4 strangers that saved our runaway dinghy from sure disaster (and likely me from divorce court). Since this humbling little experience, we have added stickers with our boat name, and Jeff has spent the winter learning about a billion knots including a proper dinghy hitch. It is now one of 3 knots I can tie from memory as well.

Takeaway: If you don’t know knots, don’t tie lots, learn some.

0 In gear/ the journal/ the yacht

5 Secrets to Super Cheap Sailing Gear

Sailing is often called a rich man’s sport. Thankfully, a little creativity can go a long way in stretching your sailing dollar. One of the most expensive parts of boat ownership is acquiring the necessary gear for your cruising dreams.

Finding the best deals on sailing gear is an art form – it takes patience, curiosity, and dedication. When pricing sailing gear, we always use West Marine as the benchmark for the absolute highest price. Defender  is a great, moderately priced alternative to West Marine, but you’re sure to find even better discounts with the ideas below. Whether you’re upgrading, outfitting, or just in the market for spares here are 5 ways to find gear for your cruising inventory while saving money for the actual cruising.

Amazon Warehouse Deals

Amazon warehouse deals are opened box returned items that are expected to work perfectly, but can’t be sold as brand new products. There isn’t a huge selection of sailing specific items, but there are plenty of items that will be useful to the cruiser.

Here is a list of items we have found through Amazon Warehouse Deals at 10-40% off:

  • Handheld VHF Radio

  • Camera parts and equipment

  • Galley untensils and gadgets

  • Hand tools (pliers, wrenches, etc)

Ebay Sailboat Hardware Lots

Many sellers will strip an old boat of all of its hardware and equipment. Instead of selling it piece by piece they will group things together in a bulk sale. With this, we have been able to find hardware for as much as 75% off the retail price.

Minney’s Yacht Surplus

This is not your average yacht surplus store. Minney’s is the mecca. With aisle after aisle of stainless steel hardware available for purchase by the pound and an overwhelming used sail inventory that they ship worldwide, we feel downright spoiled to be able to make regular visits to the Newport Beach store whenever we’re in town. We purchased a like new asymmetrical spinnaker for less than half of what we would pay a sail maker, and the dimensions were perfect for our boat. We could not be happier with our purchase. Minney’s encourages cash purchases and will offer 5% discount if you pay with cash.

During one visit, we picked up the Charlies Charts for Cruising Mexico and ironically ended up standing in line behind Captain Holly, the author!

If you happen to sail into Newport Beach Harbor, Minney’s is a must-see whether you’re in the market for gear or not.

Swap Meets

If you love a good opportunity to haggle with salty sailors for their old gear, head to your nearest swap meet. You can find their dates and times posted at marinas.

Here are some of the deals we’ve found at our local swap meets:

  • 4 AGM 8D 240 amp battery (which we first load tested) $200 – lists for $800 at West Marine

  • Origo Oven – $150 – lists for $1100

  • Shackles and Blocks

  • Various Cruising and Boat Maintenance Books

  • All-Clad Stainless Steel Cookware $5 – 3 pieces with a total value of $250 new

Not only are swap meets an awesome opportunity to find great deals, it’s a also the perfect way to get rid of things you no longer use. In the process of updating and outfitting our boat, we accumulated plenty of things we no longer needed and were able to sell at swap meets.


Within boating communities, Craigslist is a great way to purchase used gear on the cheap. Advertisements for upcoming swap meets are often posted here as well.

While we have yet to score an awesome Craigslist deal, our buddy boating friends have a serious knack for finding the BEST deals on Craigslist. They say the secret is to be patient and look over the course of a few weeks. They also check the boating gear section regularly even if they’re not in the market for anything specific. Another hint, spell things wrong when you’re searching. If you’re looking for an inflatable kayak, search “kyak”, “kyack”, you get my drift. Sometimes the listings are spelled incorrectly. You might miss out on that awesome deal if you’re too busy with the correct spelling!

 *We have no affiliation with the products/companies mentioned.


0 In the journal

Catalina: Two Harbors

Our first visit to Catalina by sail was for a 3 night stay in August at Two Harbors. Two Harbors is located on the Isthmus and is not nearly as touristy as Avalon. Though there are ferries shuttling people in and out during peak season, you’re more likely to see backpackers and boy scouts. With exactly one general store and one restaurant, it is the destination of outdoorsy types. During our visit, the rustic little town was bustling but not overly touristy, and the weather could not have been better. We hiked, played on the beach, and explored the crazy clear waters of the cove in our dinghy (with our sweet new Lehr Propane Outboard!).

Two Harbors Dining

We provisioned well with our favorite foods and prepared most meals aboard the boat with the exception of one meal on the patio at the restaurant. The Buffalo Milk, beer, and spinach dip did not disappoint, but there isn’t much else on the menu I would recommend. The general store is sufficient for absolute essentials. Some items on the shelves had a layer of dust and a high price tag. I did see gluten free pasta though. Needless to say, I was grateful that we had stocked our galley with our favorite foods. This trip was before we installed our refrigeration system (I know, we lived without it for a YEAR), so used a few blocks of dry ice in the bottom of the icebox to keep things like berries, yogurt, and most importantly – cold beer.

Onshore Facilities

Two Harbors has showers and laundry facilities ashore – all for a price. The showers are $2.00 (in quarters) for 4 minutes. There are change machines at the facilities in case you forget quarters. The showers are hot with good water pressure. Pack light though, because they are tiny, and keep your expectations low in terms of maintenance and cleanliness. Plan to wait if you want a shower at, you know, a normal showering time.

A Word About Mooring

On our first trip, we simply hailed harbor patrol on channel 9 before entering, and they showed us to our mooring. Many boats visiting Catalina are skippered by folks who are unfamiliar with the mooring process. In the worst case scenario this leads to disaster, and at the very least, a captive audience to watch you fumble along. Tying up to a mooring ball isn’t the most intuitive thing, and it’s a little different everywhere. I definitely recommend doing some investigation ahead of time and reaching out to harbor patrol if you’re unsure about anything. We had studied up on mooring, but had never actually done it. Being escorted in was really helpful. As a result, we nailed it on the first try (with me at the helm!). If you would rather anchor, free anchorages are also available about 100 yards from the moored boats.

Shore boats are available to shuttle you from your mooring or anchorage to shore. During our visit the cost was $3.00 each way. You won’t catch us paying that for every trip to shore, but people do it. Plus, we were stoked to use our dinghy.

Our second visit to Two Harbors was a quick and chilly overnight stay in mid October. The moorings were discounted for the winter, and only a few boats were moored in the cove. I’m pretty sure Wednesday night is karaoke night for the locals. We were serenaded to sleep.


0 In the journal

Liveaboard Essential: Good Coffee

Pour Over Coffee


For Jeff and I, coffee is priority numero uno in the morning. I’m not one bit ashamed to say that I’m addicted to coffee; the taste, the smell, the romance of sitting in the cockpit as the sun creeps over the horizon, overlooking a secluded cove with a hot and perfectly brewed cup full.

However, when you live aboard a smallish sailboat, making coffee is not always as simple as turning on the coffee pot. You need consider space, water usage, electrical demands, etc. When we first started this adventure of living on our sailboat, we experimented with a few different coffee methods. We made grumpy early morning runs to Starbucks (very short-lived). We tried instant coffee, and while it’s convenient underway; it’s not great for regular enjoyment. Many cruisers make french press coffee, which is delicious, but requires beans ground to a specific coarseness and too much water to rinse the grounds out of the container.

In our search for a boat-friendly coffee system, we were not willing to sacrifice flavor. It wasn’t until we took a trip home that Jeff’s mom introduced us to the Starbucks pour-over brewing system. This is so simple and makes cup-by-cup delicious coffee. It is mess free, efficient, and takes up as much space as a coffee mug. We’ll probably still use it when (if) we live on land again someday. It’s basically a a cone shaped mug with a hole in the bottom that you put a filter and coffee grounds into. No special grounds are needed, just the brewing variety. Place it over your empty coffee cup and slowly pour boiling water over the grounds. The brew drips right into your mug.  It’s a great solution for efficient and electricity free coffee making.

If you’re really serious about lightweight portability and pack-ability on your boat, you can find a plastic version at Williams- Sonoma and a silicone collapsible version at GSI Outdoors.

How to Make the Perfect Cup of Coffee aboard your Sailboat

1. Begin heating water

2. Place pour-over brewer with a filter inside over coffee mug.

3. Measure desired amount of coffee grounds and place in filter.

4. Pour water over the grounds in slow phases, allowing the water to extract the flavors and caffeine from the coffee grounds.

5. Toss the grounds, rinse the brewer.

*We have no affiliation with the products/companies mentioned.