Leaving the Dock

We finally departed Newport Beach last Friday.  It was six weeks passed our planned departure date, but schedules kind of went out the window.  After waiting out a few storms that rolled through and deciding to do a few last minute projects, we sailed out of Newport Harbor.

Our first stop was Avalon on Catalina Island.  We’ve been to Catalina dozens of times, but it seriously does not get old!  A couple of reasons we wanted to head out this way first were to test out the outboard on the dinghy and do the sea trials for our autopilot.  These were things that we just weren’t able to do in the slip, and we wanted to be able to buzz back over the mainland if there were any problems.  When we first picked up our new dinghy and outboard, the outboard just didn’t seem to be running all that smoothly.  However, in the harbor you really can’t run it very fast.  We had to get it out where we could actually get it up on plane to see what was going on.  We weren’t sure if it was just a matter of it being new and needing to be broken in or if there was actually an issue.  Luckily, everything seems to be running smoothly!


We left Newport in the afternoon and had to bash upwind and into to some swell.  We put a reef in the main and pulled out the staysail and were able to make some tracks.  It was a bit slow going, but we literally sailed off into the sunset!  We made it to Avalon about 9:30 on Friday night, and crashed as soon as our heads hit the pillows.

On Saturday we took the boat out to dial in the autopilot.  After a few tests, it looks like it’s going to work great!  We have two forms of self steering – an autopilot and a hydrovane.  The autopilot runs off a drive unit and computer which steer the rudder when set to a compass course.  The hydrovane is non-electric.  It has it’s own rudder and actually steers to the wind.  Both systems are a must.  You can imagine how tiring hand steering would be for hours or days on end!

We started plotting our course to Ensenada and working with our satellite phone/wifi to get our weather (GRIB) files.  Unfortunately, what we saw was pretty ugly.  Although it will only take us about 20 hours or so so sail to Ensenada, doing so in gale force winds is just not that smart.  Right now the gale flag is blowing here in Avalon, so we’re staying put.

While we have a couple of days here at this beautiful island, we’re having a little fun.  We blew up our inflatable canoe, which is pretty cool.  We also met some great new friends in the harbor who also have a Cheoy Lee and invited them for dinner tonight.

I’ll leaving you with pictures of me jumping in with Ukelele Eddie, who we met the other day, and a picture of Adagio in front of the Casino in Avalon.  Hopefully the next time I will be writing you will be from Ensenada!

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Don’t Mess with Mother Nature

We’ve been working hard to get the boat ready to depart Newport Beach. Our planned departure date is (was) tomorrow. But, mother nature has decided to make other plans. After weeks of just beautiful weather here in Newport, there is rain forecasted for this weekend that will sweep through Southern California and onto to Baja – our exact route south! So, we’re going to wait out the storms and look for a good window to leave next week.

In the meantime, that gives us a few more days to provision some additional items and finish up some projects that we thought we were going to have to do in Mexico. I’m also going to work on a video tour of Adagio to post for you all to see our floating home and what we have done with her.

We were able to take the boat out on Sunday to try out the new sails, which worked beautifully! Adagio was a sloop rigged boat, but we added a staysail to make her a cutter. This will give us more options in different winds and make the boat a bit easier for the two of us to handle in strong winds.

We also just added mast pulpits around the mast which will make it much safer for us to work around the mast especially if the boat is heeling. We had these custom made to include holders for our scuba tanks! We are really excited about that, because our rails around the cockpit were becoming a bit crowded with the outboards, grill, propane tanks, stern anchor, etc. This is going to be MUCH nicer. You’ll see what I’m talking about when I get the video posted.

Speaking of scuba, I did finish my certification! I can’t thank the instructors enough at Dive and Photo in Costa Mesa. They were wonderful! I’m so excited to be able to dive in all of the beautiful places we are going to visit!

So, one of my last minute provisions that I’m going to include are seeds for sprouting. I met a guy recently who was into farming and suggested that we could grow our own sprouts on board, because they don’t need any soil. So cool! Do any of you have any experience with sprouting? I’m excited to try it, and I’ll let you all know how it goes.

I really am planning to post more often once we get underway. Right now has been project after project. We’re so over the projects (and so is our bank account!). One of the cool things we installed is the Iridium Go! It is a satellite hotspot that will let us make satellite calls, text, emails, and update the blog, Twitter and Facebook. If you want to be notified of updates to the blog, please subscribe. You can also get our updates on Twitter and Facebook @adagiosvoyage.

Ok, mother nature…. it is time to let us go!


We’re Still Here!

Well, the plan was to leave California for Mexico by the end of January.  But, it is February 1st, and we’re still at the marina in Newport Beach.  Today I’m grateful that we’re in the marina, because the so-far lackluster El Nino has decided to show up in the form of some rain yesterday and crazy winds with gusts up to 50 mph.  It is not a day to be out on the water!  All that being said, we’re both anxious to get this show on the road and head south.

They say that you should never sail to a schedule, but we do have a rather loose time frame that we really do have to leave within.  We have to depart for Mexico with enough time to get down the Baja peninsula and up far enough into the Sea of Cortez to be out of the hurricane zone before summer.  We also don’t want to be rushed on that journey as there is so much to see along the way.  If we leave this month (February) we should still be on track for where we need to be.

The unexpected haul-out and delay in San Diego for six weeks (see Mike’s posts below) really set us back getting all of the boat projects done.  Even though Mike has been renovating Adagio for the last 8 years or so (a little at a time) we had a list of things we needed or wanted to do to the boat before taking off on this adventure.  Although we accomplished a bit last year, we were both working our day jobs and could not spend as much time as we would have liked getting all of the projects completed.

So, we are still here with our long list of projects that are still not done.  Right now we are in the process of prioritizing the list as (1) must be done before we go, (2) get the supplies and we’ll do it in Mexico and (3) forget about it.  That is a hard list. Some of the things that are must complete are things like finishing to install the new autopilot and hydrovane (another form of self steering).  Anytime you try to do something new on a boat or install new equipment it is a learning process.  Every boat is different and there is not a set of instructions that can fit all boats.  Inevitably, there will have to be custom parts that have to be made just to make a pre-made piece of equipment work or fit on the boat.

There are also some things that we thought would be fairly straight-forward but we’re finding are a bit more difficult.  For example, one of our goals on this trip is to be as self-sufficient as possible. We’re expanding the battery bank and have both solar panels and a wind generator to recharge the batteries that power all of our electronics.  (The alternator on the diesel engine also recharges the batteries, but as sailors we of course hope to use the engine as little as possible.)  We also have plans to install a water maker, which is our own desalinator.  The reverse osmosis system will allow us to making drinking water out of sea water.  Well, here comes the difficult part.  Of course there is motor that powers the water maker, and that requires power.  The power required is a bit more than we anticipated.  So, we either have to upgrade our inverter (which converts DC power to 110) and run the diesel engine to get enough power to the batteries, or we have to purchase a gas powered generator. Ugh.  We really did not want to be those people who are sitting at anchor burning a gas powered generator!  So, we’d be more self-sufficient water wise, but it is going to cause us to burn more diesel or gas (the opposite of what we want to!)  We’re going to have to make some decisions pretty quickly on how we are going to make this work.

I would really love to sound like I know what I’m talking about with all of the equipment, etc., but honestly I am relying tremendously on Mike’s knowledge of boats, research and experts we’ve met along the way.  Sometimes I wish I had received a degree in electronics or engineering.  I certainly never learned any of this in law school!  I’m trying to be as helpful as possible, but I’m doing a lot of errand work while Mike does the serious stuff.

In the meantime, I am also working on getting my open water scuba certification.  I’ll admit that I was a bit nervous to do this, but it has been more difficult for me than I expected.  Physically, I can do all of the tasks no problem.  However, breathing underwater has to be about the most unnatural thing I’ve ever done, and being deep underwater without a way to immediately surface has definitely created some anxiety for me.  How can you be in an open ocean and feel claustrophobic?  Weird!  If anyone has had this happen and learned to overcome it, I would love to hear from you!  I am determined not to let it beat me!  So, after my aborted ocean dive last week, I’m going back into the pool tomorrow (for the third time) to try and get a bit more comfortable before giving the wide Pacific another go.  Sigh.


Merry Christmas from Adagio!

So much has happened in the last month that we haven’t had time to write about it!  Adagio was stuck in the boatyard in San Diego for much longer than we anticipated.  Once she was pulled out, the guys got to work pealing the hull.  As Mike mentioned, he took on the task of modifying the rudder to get the new prop installed.  Whew!

While Mike was down in San Diego, I was home in Costa Mesa still working my day job and trying to pack up the house.  We were scheduled to close escrow on December 8th.  So, getting Adagio back before the house sold was imperative.  Otherwise, I guess we were going to be homeless.  (Actually, we had offers from friends to stay with them…)

Anyway, Mike got the rudder installed with just five minutes to spare on the Friday afternoon before Thanksgiving.  The boatyard guys were calling it quits at 4:00 and weren’t going to wait for anyone! Mike’s hard work paid off and the boat was back in the water on Friday.  I took the train down to San Diego after work to meet Mike and get ready to sail back to Newport Beach on Saturday.

We had a nice trip from San Diego to Newport Beach that weekend, other than one little snafu that I’ll let Mike write about at another time.  We stopped overnight in Oceanside on Saturday night.  We could have made the trip in one day instead of two, but that would mean sailing part of the time at night.  Although we don’t have an issue sailing at night, right now is lobster season!  That means that getting in and out of any harbor requires dodging all of the lobster pots.  They are hard enough to see in the daylight let alone at night.  We unfortunately learned this lesson the hard way a couple of years ago when we missed a pot entering the harbor and wrapped the prop. Ugh!

We got back to Newport Beach on Sunday with time to clean up all of the dirt that had accumulated on the boat while sitting in the boatyard for over a month.  We were so glad Adagio was back, because Monday we got married and Tuesday we flew to Texas to see my family for Thanksgiving.  I don’t think we could have squeezed anymore into that week!

Once we were back from Texas it was crunch time to get everything moved from the house.  Mike previously lived on Adagio for several years, so he literally moved into my house with a suitcase full of clothes.  I, on the other hand, had accumulated an entire house full of STUFF over the last eight years I lived there.  I don’t think you really understand how much STUFF you actually own until you have to downsize to living on a boat!  Two walk in closets, a two car garage, a ridiculous number of cabinets, drawers, etc.  You get the idea.  My packing strategy involved putting everything into three piles:  (1) Boat; (2) Storage; and (3) Donate.  The boat pile was obviously the smallest of the three.

We donated, put stuff and storage, and finally moved aboard Adagio with the house sold!  Unfortunately, because we were so delayed in San Diego, the interior boat projects did not get completed before the move.  Let’s just say that it is like moving into a house under renovation, only smaller!

The biggest of the interior projects, which is still not done, is the galley.  I feel a bit responsible for getting us into this mess of a galley remodel.  Earlier this year, I suggested that maybe we should consider replacing the 30 year old formica countertops in the galley which were a mess.  That sounds easy enough, right?  Well, the new countertops turned into a new sink, new fridge box insulation and ultimately a new custom fridge box.  Not to mention installing a new stove/oven.

The fridge box project has taken on a bit of a life of its own.  You can’t just go down to home depot, buy a new refrigerator and install it.  The fridge/freezer box is actually built into the cabinet in the galley.  Mike has done almost all of the work himself, which has been a huge project.  It is going to be fantastic when it is completed, but right now we are living without a kitchen!  For those of you that know us well, you know we love to cook and make healthy meals.  Eating out every meal is getting bit old.

Here are some pictures of Mike working in the galley chaos.

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We are headed out of town for a week for Christmas and New Years, but we’re hopeful all of the projects will be completed in January, so that we can finally begin this adventure!!

Merry Christmas!


A ship with a rudder

Well here’s an update from the boatyard.  Yes the boat is still out of the water having her bottom peeled to ensure the strength and integrity of her hull for the rest of her life.  A very costly repair but necessary for our peace of mind when out voyaging the world’s oceans.

So why the rudder reference in this post?  Well whenever the boat is hauled out of the water it’s more cost effective to attack as many of the upgrades and maintenance tasks as possible because hauling the boat is expensive and unpleasant to say the least.  So to extend the period between haul-outs, it’s best to get as many below the waterline maintenance tasks completed as possible when hauled out..

So while we are waiting for the hull to be repaired it makes sense to attempt to install the new feathering propeller I purchased a while back (almost two years ago) and haven’t installed yet.  The challenge is that the new propeller doesn’t fit because the space for it to operate is restricted by the rudder.  As a result, the rudder needs to be removed and modified to accommodate the new propeller.  You may say, why don’t you just return the prop and purchase one that fits (Duh)?  Well that makes perfect sense in the everyday world, but in the world of boats, the one that fits won’t provide the benefits/features the new one will.

This feathering propeller has three important features/benefits.

  1. It has four blades instead of three which will give us more power at lower rpm’s and enable us to push the boat through certain unpleasant sea conditions faster to get to a safe harbor.
  2. The feathering feature will allow us to sail faster because the blades will feather while sailing and eliminate the drag experience when using a fixed blade prop.
  3. More control in reverse by enabling us to stop the boat more quickly and reducing the “prop-walk”.

Removing the rudder is quite a chore and it took me most of the day just to get it removed.  After removing it I had to cut it open and remove some of the outer fiberglass covering.  The good news is that Cheoy Lee built this rudder like a tank and the bad news is that because of the stout construction it’s going to need a custom metal fabricator to modify it properly for the new prop.  As is always the case, boat projects have a life of their own and usually take four times longer than anticipated.

Hopefully I’ll be able to find a custom metal fabricator in the area that can make the rudder modifications for us quickly so we don’t have to spend more time in the yard than originally anticipated.

Hopefully my next post will be about sailing instead of these huge maintenance projects.

Till next time.

Captain Mike.


Here are some pictures that can give you an idea of what’s happening.

Here’s a picture of the rudder after being removed and cut open to reveal the inner structure (“yes it would be green” reference for all those Spinal Tap fans).



This shot shows the stout inner structure.  It’s stainless steel and more than 3/16 of an inch thick.


Here’s a close-up picture of a (ship without a rudder).  Fortunately it’s on dry land at the moment.


Picture with the rudder still intact and the bottom completely peeled.


Picture waiting to be hauled out before the peeling of the hull.

Adagio DMB yard waiting

The Dog Days of Boatyard Delays

Don’t they say that good things come to those who wait?  Well hopefully we’ll get to cash in on that sometime as we continue to wait to be hauled out to have some work done on Adagio’s bottom.

Adagio has been side tied next to the pens that the Driscoll Mission Bay boat yard uses to haul and launch boats for almost two weeks.  Two weeks of delays that we really can’t afford given the large list of preparation tasks still to be accomplished before we cast off sometime in January of 2016.

Adagio DMB yard waiting

In the meantime, I have been able to accomplish a few things while we’ve been waiting.

  • Replaced the fuel pump that I use to prime the fuel system after changing the spin-on fuel filter on our Yanmar 4JH5E four cylinder diesel engine.  The old one failed for some reason and I had only used it three or four times.
  • Wired the new cockpit speakers so we have music in the cockpit again woot woot.
  • Cut the hole in the foredeck where our new windlass will be mounted.  Determined that we need to make a base for it to raise it up off the deck enough to keep the chain from jumping off the gypsy.
  • Had the backing plate for the new windlass modified.
  • Removed all of the old auto pilot hardware, electronics and wiring.
  • Re-connected the power to our chart plotter that I inadvertently disconnected while removing the old auto pilot wiring.
  • Researched interfacing AIS data to our chartplotter to warn us of approaching ships.  Wouldn’t want to be run down by one of those mammoth container ships.
  • Daily keeping the yard grime off of our newly painted decks.

So I have been able to keep myself busy waiting for the eventual haul out of the boat.  Also keeping up with my paying work by utilizing the free WiFi at the local Starbucks.

Why the haul out you say?

Well during the recent previous haul out to paint the topsides (area of the hull above the waterline) we found out that we have a minor blister problem.  Blisters occur when sea water is able to permeate the outer layer of fiberglass and as a result draw in more water until a blister forms on the hull.  These needed attention and we opted for the more permanent (aka more expensive) long term fix and that is why we are in Mission Bay waiting to be hauled out.  This more permanent fix involves peeling the outer layer of fiberglass (about 1/8 inch) off of the entire hull and then re-glassing the hull with new fiberglass using a vinylester resin instead of the original polyester resin.  Probably more than you wanted to know but there it is.

I’d tell the story of what has been causing the enormous delay but I’m sure your attention span has already been stretched enough with this dry post about yard woes.  The good news is that it looks as though our waiting will come to an end tomorrow and the boat will finally be hauled out so the work can begin.

I’ll post a list of the tasks we hope to finish before we take off another time and update it as we complete each one.  In case you’re really interested in that kind of thing.  Probably more for my benefit in the future looking back on all we went through to get ready for this adventure.

Till next time.

Captain Mike.

Hello world!

Ok… so, I’m just trying to get a handle on this website/blogging thing.  My intention is to have this website updated for friends and family to follow our journey as we travel around the world in Adagio, our 1979 Cheoy Lee Offshore 41 sailboat.

We are planning to depart Newport Beach at the end of January 2016.  So, we have a few more months to get the boat ready to go.  This year has flown by, and now it is crunch time to get everything ready to go.  Our goal is to make the boat as safe as possible, but also as comfortable as possible.  After all, this is going to be our home!

Right now Adagio is down in San Diego getting ready to be hauled out.  We hauled out in Newport Beach to have the bottom painted and discovered that we have some blisters on the bottom of the boat.  We could do a temporary fix that would last us a few years, but we decided we wanted a more permanent solution.  We found a guy in San Diego who invented a technique to get rid of blisters permanently on older boats.  (I’ll save you the description of what exactly blisters are on boats and why they occur.)  Essentially the bottom of the boat will be stripped down to the fiberglass with a new layer of glass with a different type of epoxy will be applied that is supposed to keep this from happening again.

So, we’re down here in San Diego waiting to be pulled out of the water.  It is going to be about a 3 week process before we can be back in the water and sail back north to Newport Beach.  This is a delay we weren’t initially expecting, but we are going to make do.  In the meantime, the galley is still torn up as we are putting in a new stove, sink, fridge box and countertops. (I mentioned being more comfortable, right?)

I am so looking forward to the projects being done so that we can take off on the voyage.  I know Mike is too…especially because this has basically been a full time job for him for at least the last six months!