The week of the 3rd started our preparations in earnest to depart our Vancouver Washington home port for a trip around the world on ORCINIUS our Lagoon 440. What a week. Final touches to the charging systems, DuoGen wind and water generator, new filters for the water maker, buying spare parts and sorting through all the things we wanted to load aboard. Lisa spent most of the week sewing odds and ends for the boat and different things needing covering while stored onboard. We received a lot of help from Susan Estes, in a way helping her fulfill her dream of taking Stephen and Her Cat around the world. It will be many years before that happens as the boat is completely disassembled. Another assistant was our neighbor Richard Fisher. He was invaluable in helping me get things attached and working on the boat. We will be looking for both of them with their families to join us at some point on our trip.

I had officially retired from my business as of the 1st of September and was spending 14 hours a day working on getting the final preparations complete. We scheduled a Bon Voyage’ party for Saturday the 10th of September and was working diligently on getting things cleaned up. The night before the party we decided to shove all the parts, pieces and tools onto our pontoon boat to clean up the deck for the party. That all worked well and the party was a huge success. On Sunday all the stuff came back off the pontoon and back onto the deck. I had told everyone we were leaving on Monday the 12th come hell or high water… Nothing ever happens on time when you are getting ready to pull up roots and start a new adventure. This was no different. Monday came and went, the new screecher sail finally showed up in the afternoon, but my hearing aids didn’t. Picked up the final stainless steel parts that same afternoon but our touchscreen computer had gone on the fritz and the service technician wouldn’t be in to fix it until Tuesday afternoon. Tuesday afternoon came and went, still cleaning sorting and stuffing. The computer was fixed by the technician but shortly after he left it performed the same death defying act of not finding the hard drive. Mother board is the problem and we decide to wait until San Diego to get it fixed. Still no hearing aid. We decide to have the aids and the new fuel bladders shipped to Gino’s brother in Vallejo CA. Wednesday I began loading all my spares and tools onto the boat. What once was a eight inch water line shrunk to four inches. We had a lot of help that Wednesday and so anything and everything that was out was shoved onboard. We were ready to leave the dock the next morning.

Thursday morning came and we were making ship shape before casting off our lines, when about twelve friends and neighbors showed up to see us off. It was a bit tear jerking knowing that we probably wouldn’t be seeing too much of these wonderful people for the next several years. Pictures were taken, hugs made and blessings given and we were off to wait for two hours for the railroad bridge to swing. That will be the last time for many years that Lisa, John and Orcinius will have to wait for the railroad bridge. It was noon before we got the swing and were actually heading down river. As we motored towards Astoria, we discovered two things, our auto pilot wasn’t working and our weather update indicated a low pressure was approaching the Oregon coast to arrive on Saturday the 17th which meant southerly winds. We opted to take it easy and plan for the ocean voyage starting on Monday the 19th. Laid a hook behind an Island near Cathlamet and settled in for the night. Or so we thought. Sitting quietly with a toddy, we keep hearing the fresh water pump come on. That’s not good so we started looking for a leak. Sure enough it was found on the hose coming off the water pump. I proceeded to repair. The only unknown was how much water did we lose?

We unseat the hook around 0730 local and proceeded to Astoria West Basin. Arriving we pull up to the fuel dock and top off the tanks and arranged for a slip for two nights with a possibility of three. As I said earlier, things just got thrown onboard at the last minute. We discovered we had enough winter cloths to hibernate in Alaska for two years. So we proceeded to sort it out and make two stacks, one for GoodWill and one to be shipped back home. We also manage to get a rental car for a day and arrange a meet with Englund Marine in Newport, OR to pick up a replacement auto pilot core computer. Dumped the good will clothes and shipped the return items home and proceeded on a seven hour round trip to Newport. We got lucky because the autopilot had to come from Coos Bay. Our other option would have been to hand steer the boat to Coos Bay and then replace the unit there.

As it turned out, the two extra days in Astoria were a blessing in disguise. We needed the break. After getting back from Newport at midnight, we were beat, and managed to sleep in until 0900. Saturday we replaced the autopilot with great success. All we had to do is make the final adjustments as we left Astoria. Both Saturday and Sunday were wet, rainy and windy days, not a good time to be on the ocean. We spent both days organizing everything one more time for the voyage South to San Francisco bay. On Sunday afternoon we took the trolly to the Safeway on the East end of town to buy some final things and prepared some ready-made meals for our trip.

While we were in Astoria, we met two other boats heading South. One was a monohull and the other a custom catamaran. The mono was not going to do the Baja Ha Ha but the cat was and her name was Light Speed. Light Speed is quite different from Orcinius. The hulls are much narrower and the salon is quite small in comparison. She has a galley down on one side with the owners berth in the aft part of the hull and the head, storage and another berth on the other. The other big difference is she only carries a small outboard engine for auxiliary and twenty gallons of gasoline. Dave and Cathy were the couple’s names and they were waiting to take possession of a kitten before they departed. Like us their plans were to do the Baja Ha Ha before heading to the South Pacific. We didn’t see Light Speed again until we got to San Diego the middle of October. She got caught behind in Astoria, waiting for the Kitten and the weather to clear, which didn’t happen for almost two weeks.

On Monday the 19th we woke to a very nice morning, took a leisurely shower at the marina and waited to cast off just before the low slack tide at the mouth of the Columbia river. We figured about an hour run to the mouth but the ebb tide was running strong and we arrived at the mouth a bit early, encountering some very sloppy bar conditions. Not a dangerous situation for Orcinius but just sloppy and it took us a good five miles out to the Southwest before the effects were diminished. We were really off and on our way.

As we headed South our plan was to stop over the top of Stonewall bank, twelve miles West of Newport and do some bottom fishing. The Northwesterly we were planning on riding down to San Francisco was less than 10 knots so we motor sailed our way South. The lack of wind put us at Stonewall bank after dark so we skipped the fishing and proceeded on our way. We motorsailed mostly with head sails, genoa, spinnaker or screecher. We were on a track some 30 miles off the coast to stay clear of crab traps, fishermen and commercial traffic. As we rounded Cape Blanco on the Southern Oregon coast the seas picked up from the wind which was directly on our stern. A Cat, or for that matter no sailboat, likes to go straight down wind, so we put the sails away and motored towards our destination. Although we have two engines, we mostly motor with a single engine to conserve fuel and extend our range by double the normal 350 miles. Our speed over water averages 7.5 knots with calm seas. Winds and currents affect our speed over ground, and so it can be with us or against us. We were doing good because we were averaging over 9 knots over ground towards our destination.

Our next big hurdle would be Cape Mendacino just North of the San Francisco bay. Unlike the last year when we brought Orcinius up the coast to home and we were able to fly our spinnaker Northbound (unheard of) around the cape, we were met with much heavier weather, albeit Northwesterlies. Of course it didn’t help that I had come down with a terrible cold. I am not one to be put on my back because of a cold but in this case I was down and out. As we were heading South around the cape, the winds picked up and we furled in the screecher and deployed the genoa. The screecher is a two person job to furl while the genoa can be done by a single person. What we failed to do was drop the screecher completely. As I said I was down and out. Lisa noticed the screecher was developing a small balloon at the top of the sail which was causing some extra windage and risk of damage. She woke me, and thank God it was still daylight, in winds of 25 gusting to 35 we began to discuss our approach to dropping the sail. The screecher is a sail that uses a heavy luff rope with a swivel at the top and a single spool on a swivel at the bottom to furl the sail on. It also uses a single continuous line on the spool which rides in the groove and the friction of the line in the groove twists the sail onto the luff rope. Alas, before we could execute our plan a heavy gust of wind wipped the furled sail back and forth with the affect of causing the furling line to come completely out of its groove, and with a horrendous bang and much damage the sail flew completely open with tremendous force. The luff line must be kept very taught to furl the sail but when the sail accidentally deployed it bent the bow sprit straight up 90 degrees making the luff very loose. In less than 5 minutes of working and trying to get the sail down onto the deck, the clew (working end) had become shredded and the working sheet was being pulled from the sail. Before I knew it, the entire rigging at the tack of the sail had also come loose where the tack connects to the furling wheel. Now there was only one more point connecting the sail and that was the halyard at the top of the mast. The entire sail was being flapped around from the halyard in the heavy winds. I had to make a decision, do we try to save the sail and run the risk of causing damage to the head of the mast and rigging or cut it loose and try to retrieve it. I cut it loose. It flew away downwind and landed in the ocean about an 1/8 of a mile from us. As we headed past the sail lying in the water, we only gave it a thought to try and recover. Then we were past it and it would be very difficult to turn upwind in the dusky conditions. The wind won, causing some $12k worth of damage. So Cape Mendecino wasn’t as good to us as it was the time before.

Needless to say, Lisa was quite unnerved, looking for land and none in sight, looking for a reprieve in the wind and none in sight and for certain no damn sails would go up that night. I was still sick but took a three hour watch while Lisa got some rest. Yep, I motored. When Lisa did come on and I was rested, I heard the genoa being deployed and later on that day she said. “let’s get some main up”. She got right back on the horse.

San Francisco bay, four days after departing Astoria, was atypical. Fog. The ocean was clear but there was a bank right at the Golden Gate bridge. We had checked the ebb and flood times and were coming through during the beginning of the ebb. The current wasn’t too bad as we stuck to the south side and headed for the San Francisco water front harbor. When we arrived we discovered the harbor was closed for remodeling and they were not taking any transient boats. We then headed for the Oakland side and the Alameda Grand marina. We decided to refuel before going to the marina. Another gremlin appeared. After refueling, the port engine would not start. Another challenge for Captain Lisa, dock this big boat on a single engine. She did great. We made secure at the dock, connected the power then proceeded to get some rest. We had three days before we had to move over to Vallejo, CA and wait for Gino, Angie and Katrina.

The brand new battery charging system had let us down so that was the first on my list of resolutions. Of course getting a new screecher sail and bow sprit was high on my list but very low on Lisa’s. We hadn’t found any convenient place in Alameda to have the stern rail and stansions repaired so we would have to wait on that. We did order a replacement Kayak for the one cut apart by the sheet in the maylay. I ordered a new sail from North Sails of Portland to be delivered in San Diego and a replacement bowsprit and bobstays from Pacific Offshore rigging of San Diego, who also replaced the halyard and sheets. We were able to get the stern pulpit repaired in Vallejo but had to jerry rig some life lines out of Dynema and toggles.

By the time Gino and family arrived we were fueled up and ready to go. Before we left Gino introduced us to a friend who had a business doing a wine tour on segways. Great idea and had a good time riding the segways and tasting wine. Gino decided to try the all terrain feature and failed to negotiate a ditch and took a tumble. Good scrape on his arm but no major damage.

Our departure from SF Bay was in the late afternoon. We needed to wait for the flood to subside so we motored up the Sausalito estuary at a slow idle. When we returned to the gate we found a beautiful setting sun as we passed under the bride. We picked up a southwesterly heading across the traffic lanes and were headed for Monterey. The next morning we pulled into Monterey for one night. Walked the warf, saw the sea lions and enjoyed the setting.

The next leg would take us to Marina Del Rey where we dropped off our life raft for service. It was an overnighter so the Hodges got a taste of nighttime passages. We had a bit of a head current so our daylight planned arrival took us into the early evening and darkness. The lights of Marina Del Ray were quite a sight. It was a bit confusing because there were actually two entrances. One on either side of a long breakwater. We saw boats going in and out of either side but the eastern side was closer so we took it. What we didn’t realize and didn’t show on the charts was actual entrance and departure lanes once we got behind the breakwater. Once inside we maneuvered into our assigned slip and tied her up for a couple of nights.

On to Avalon on Catalina island. We had an early departure and the winds were beautiful. Steady 13-15 knots all the way across. We were under full main and genoa sailing at 9-10 knots. As the afternoon wore on the winds picked up to 18 knots and were up to 20G25 as we became within three miles. We were sailing now at 12-13 knots over water but really needed at least one reef in the main. Since we were so close to our destination we chose to furl the main in completely and by the time we had it was a short jaunt to the anchorage in Avalon. Avalon was the first controlled anchorage we have been in. The mooring bouys have double ended mooring lines so that once you pick up the bow line you back down on a line you tie up to the stern cleat and it holds you steady in one direction. This configuration allows for many more boats to be moored in a relatively small space. We were in Avalon a couple days longer than we initially planned because of some cool rainy and windy conditions. Our weather window would occur on Friday so that we could make it over to San Diego in time for the Hodges family to depart.

Off we go to San Diego. It is a mere 8 hour sail to San Diego. We had favorable winds although they were light. It was mid afternoon when we arrived. There were US Navy ships doing live fires and maneuvering near the entrance. Had to talk to Warship 35 which was doing some alignment maneuvers and as we tried to keep the 3 mile separation and they closed within 3000 yards or a half mile. Told them that I was trying to keep the separation but couldn’t so they kept a special eye on us. As we entered the channel there was a submarine departing the entrance. We steered clear staying on the outside of the channel until she passed. The warships were a sight to see and both Gino and Katrina got a real thrill out of it. We check in with the marina an get our slip assignment. We moored near the east end of shelter island waiting for the Baja Ha Ha events to unfold.

The Hodges depart on Saturday the 8th and our tasks begin. First came a real boat cleaning which took us all day. Me on the outside and Lisa on the inside. Over the next two weeks we worked on several repairs and made many trips to the marine stores. We also had a little relax time, but not as much as Lisa wanted.

I flew home for a Board of Directors meeting. I flew into Seattle and drove down to Olympia to meet with an Adventure Doctor, Dr Edwards. He provides a service for those who are planning excursions to far distant places. Part of his requirement is to meet with the adventurer and make a preliminary assessment. We had a very lengthy discussion about many things to do with our voyage. When we finished he supplied me with a list of prescriptions and a contact to have them filled and shipped to the office. I arrived home late and met several people. It was going to be a short stay as I had the BOD meeting the next morning and headed for the airport in the late afternoon. It was a late arrival back in SD so I took the Sheraton shuttle back to the marina and arrived back at the boat by 1130 local time.

The rest of the time until the final days before the start of the Baja Ha Ha was finalizing some repairs, sewing kayak covers and making ready for the rally.