Sunday, November 29, 2009
Shawn is based at the Las Vegas Hilton, just about to enter week-9, the final week, of Bikram Yoga Teacher Training. So much more to follow soon about this topic.
Chris and Tao just splashed this past Tuesday and are anchored in Bahia San Carlos getting reacquainted. Project lists have grown and Chris is single-handedly preparing the boat for ocean crossings. We all look forward to being reunited soon for the holidays and details about recent adventures will be posted then.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Chris’s first stop on the way East was in Denver, CO, to visit his good buddy from graduate school, Monte Lunacek (giving one of his better Zoolander "Blue Steel" impressions, photo right) . Monte is a different man from the one he new at Colorado State University, only a few years back (OK, maybe 8). He has forsaken his “dirt-bag climber” lifestyle (at least for the moment) and is currently working as a post-doc with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, home of Coors now turned hip Denver border town. Incredibly, Monte no longer lives out of his car. He just finished purchasing his first home, a spacious condominium only a few minutes from downtown Golden. In addition to good dialogue and some local hiking, Chris and Monte were able to catch up with another Colorado State University classmate and good friend, Melody Bourret, who is now living and working in Boulder, CO.
From Denver, Chris flew to Boston and caught a bus up to Bangor, ME, where he met his father, Dave, for a ten-day visit to beautiful family property in Penobscot Bay. He has fond memories of summers spent with his father and sister, Sarah, in a small, undeveloped wooden cabin overlooking the water along Eggemoggin Reach on Little Deer Isle. The water, beach and roughly 30 acres of dense forest were great for exploring, hiking, clamming, canoeing, windsurfing, sailing, and just about anything else a couple of kids could imagine. This year, highlights included a 3-day sailing cruise around the islands of Penobscot aboard his father’s boat Mouette, a 31 foot Dufour (furry first-mate, photo right); spending calm evenings watching sunsets on the north porch; putting together puzzles with his stepmother, Anette; taking long walks in the forest; and watching boats navigate down the reach each day.
Leaving Maine, Chris traveled south towards West Barnstable, MA. There, he visited his mother, Jane, and stepfather, Abe, at their house on Cape Cod. While there, he enjoyed neighborhood walks and lengthy discussions with his mother; going out to favorite eateries and watching Red Sox games on TV together; and wholeheartedly enjoying the rare opportunity to spend time with his globetrotting mother and stepfather. Crisp, clear weather foreshadowed the changing seasons, and provided a good reason to cozy up to fires in the Franklin stove. Last, but certainly not least, he also made it to two Red Sox games at Fenway Park in Boston, taking him back to memories of ballgames with his stepfather as a young kid. Amazingly, the Red Sox won both games, but not without some of the good drama you would expect.
Chris spent the final few days of his East Coast trip at a wedding on Long Island, NY, with friends from Occidental College. While at Oxy, he enjoyed surfing with the groom, Jason Graetz, and another close friend in attendance, Matt Gehrke, at various California and Baja Norte breaks. Jason was married to his beautiful bride, Rania, out in the fields behind a cleverly restored barn near Riverhead, Long Island. Following the reception, Chris traveled with Matt down to his newly purchased townhouse in Wilmington, DE. Although the visit was short, it was good to finally see Matt settling into a good groove at work and home.
At the end of a month in New England, Chris was revitalized and his injury was well on its way to full recovery. He was finally prepared to get back to the West Coast and tackle the work ahead; work that he hopes will eventually lead to a life together with his greatest loves: Shawn, Grizzly, and Tao. After a long day of air travel, he couldn’t have been any happier to see Shawn at the airport when he arrived in San Francisco on September 23rd.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Chris’s primary motivation for leaving TAO on the hard this summer was to work with his close friends at Canyons, Inc., the
Apart from fun on the river, there were a couple of hallmark events worth mentioning. First, his dear friend and coworker, Greg McFadden (flexing some serious muscles in pic below), has made a successful bid to buy Canyons, Inc., from employers, Les and Susan Bechdel. The Bechdels have captained the Canyons ship from day one almost 25 years ago, building the company into one of the premier river companies to offer multi-day trips down the Middle Fork and
Finally, the event that capped off Chris’s summer was a little more painful, to say the least. On another rainy day 3 at Big Mallard camp on the Main Salmon, Chris slipped and fell between two rafts while unloading gear. He quickly caught himself by grabbing two shipped oars, one on each raft, but was caught suspended between the two boats slowly drifting apart. While lowering himself to the ground, he suddenly heard a distinct popping sound in his shoulder and felt searing pain. He hobbled out of the water and immediately saw the left side of his chest swell into a B-cup “man-boob.” Pain management and stabilization were the immediate chores on order; nothing that a few painkillers, ice, sling and swathe couldn’t solve. His injury was monitored for any signs of change, major hemorrhaging, or loss of feeling in his left hand. Despite several hope-filled dreams that symptoms had disappeared over night, morning came and he knew there was absolutely no chance he’d be able to row the last few days of the trip. Twenty-four hours and several satellite phone conversations later, Chris was flown off the river from a short, steeply angled dirt runway with a harrowing, over the river take-off.
After medical evaluation, Chris was told that he had most likely torn the better part of his left pectoralis major muscle off of the upper humerus where it normally attaches. He needed surgery to gain back what he had lost. He had open surgery on August 17 and the surgeon indeed found that he had a “complete avulsion of the pec major tendon from the insertion point on the humerus.” They drilled ten “bone tunnels” into his humerus and used “baseball/whip/locking stitches” and four knots to reattach his pec and reestablish his “native anatomy.” He is still recovering from this setback, with physical therapy and, eventually, muscle rehabilitation. It’ll be a 5-6 month process but, luckily, he and his surgeon expect a 100% recovery. Special thanks go to Drs. Patrick Knibbe and Michael Curtin, as well as the entire Canyons, Inc., team for making Chris’ journey to recovery as smooth as possible.
Monday, September 28, 2009
It’s amazing how quickly time flows by. This summer found Shawn in California, Chris in Idaho, Grizzly in upstate NY, and Tao in Sonora, Mexico. Our family could hardly have been further apart, but absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? Chris was guiding and making money on the wilds of the Salmon River, Shawn was negotiating the city jungle housesitting and doing preparatory yoga in Berkeley, Grizzly was enjoying non moving space at Shangrila-de-Judy in Ithaca, and Tao was fairing well through Chubascos in San Carlos. To most people this might not seem logical with our purported goal of sailing across oceans this coming spring but we like to think it all makes “perfect” sense. We are still focused on sailing, but at the same time are trying to balance many additional variables in our lives. Our crazy schedules this hurricane season are allowing us to visit family and friends reinvigorating relationships as well as providing us with time to provision and outfit once again from the states while also cultivating other life ideas for future tending and adding more skills to our traveling tool box.
August presented more twists and turns in our lives. On Chris’ final river trip of the season down the Main Salmon River, he had an unlucky incident in which he disconnected the pectoral muscle from his shoulder. He was evacuated the next evening and started the slow path (6 months) toward 100% recovery. Surgery was scheduled and right before it we managed a well timed rendezvous at Copper Mountain in Colorado for a Agnes and Jared’s wedding and spent time with the much missed Fun Zone crew from graduate school (yes that includes you too Terra!).
We parted ways again, Chris to Boise for surgery and Shawn to Berkeley for more yoga. Chris’ tendon was surgically reattached and he had a painful first week of recovery staying with raft-guide-turned-lawyer Jim Vogt to whom we owe huge thanks! From there he began his trans-continental physical therapy visiting family along the way. He’s now had sessions in Boise Idaho, Blue Hill Maine, Hyannis Massachusetts, and Palos Verdes CA. While Chris has been recovering, Shawn has been in Clear Lake, CA getting some pre-Bikram-teacher-training training from Lynn Whitlow, Jeff Renfro, Margery Bailey, several traveling teachers, a pack full of dogs and puppies, a wake surfing machine, and the Lake County community at large. There’s so much more to it than you’d ever imagine and she is very fortunate to have had so much help already on the path to her goal of becoming a great teacher.
September has been quite rough for all of us. Shawn’s grandmother “Bamp” finally got her way and passed on after nearly 94 amazing years. She was feisty until the end, will be sorely missed, and Shawn plans to carry on her adventurous spirit. As Shawn’s Mum spent much of her summer up in Kingston, Grizzly is ecstatic to now have her back in Ithaca. Concurrently, hurricane Jimena tracked right over Tao in San Carlos. We wonder if this was a goodbye from Jay a sailing friend from Outkast who lost his life this summer in a swollen Alaskan river. After much worry from the States, we were reassured by several friends in Mexico who took time to check on our dry-stored-home. Thanks especially to Chuck of Pura Vida, Adam and Kris of Estrella, and Marina Seca who very professionally dealt with the massive damages to infrastructure that 25-inches of rain in 24-hours and flooding arroyos creates.
The 23rd of September was a momentous day as we finally came back together for 10 jam-packed days! Shawn drove down from Clear Lake to pick Chris up at SFO and we drove on to Palo Alto where Julia and Jacob from Pisces have been staying this summer with Jacob’s family. Much thanks to the Wenegrats as we spent several nice days there enjoying whiling away hours talking about future life plans, sailing in the upcoming season, and of course what to eat next (with refrigeration and warm running water the options really are endless). We’ve just made it all the way down to Chris’ dad’s in Rancho Palos Verdes in Pepe-the-wonder-car/truck (who is sporting a new muffler that Shawn replaced during her 3-day WFR recert) filled to the gills with sailboat gear. We plan to spend a few much needed days together here as well as prepare and organize for sailing and yoga apart over the next couple months. Shawn’s 9-week Bikram yoga teacher training, based in Las Vegas, starts October 4th during which time Chris will be chipping away at our never ending list of boat projects down in Mexico and vigilantly doing PT. Keep in touch and we promise to be better with blog postings.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
It's been a few weeks... After an awesome trip down the Main Salmon in Idaho together, currently Chris is working another combination trip on the Middle Fork/Main Salmon River and Shawn is in transit from Idaho to Berkeley via Corvallis Oregon.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
The next afternoon Chuck picked us up again and we headed to Phoenix where he deposited us at the Radisson. We spent two days in luxury here thanks to Priceline.com. While there, we put SPOT out on the balcony to send a report. For some mysterious reason the report never went out (this has happened a few times previously, probably the OK button wasn't fully pushed). More importantly, however, SPOT had a little vacation out on that small balcony as we sadly forgot him there. So many times on the boat one of us would look at the other and say, “did you bring SPOT in?” and immediately run up on deck to find him, hours after the most recent report had been sent, still blinking away at us. We were worried that taking him off the boat might be a mistake, and this worry proved founded… But never fear, he was found by the cleaning service and mailed to Chris' rafting company in Idaho from the hotel. I managed to talk Chris into taking him along as he guides down the Middle Fork and Main Salmon this summer. So this summer we will all be able to continue to follow Chris' track in the wilds of Idaho via SPOT, and hopefully there will be no more SPOT-centric misadventures.
We have heard that SPOT has been very helpful in soothing worries of those land bound that care about us, and we tried to send out near-daily reports from Tao. One downfall is that the SPOT website only displays the past 7 days of reporting so if you are interested in a longer term map of where we have been, I want to remind you that while on board we also sent winlink position reports (although less frequently than SPOT reports) via the HAM radio and you can check the past several months of those positions by clicking here: http://www.winlink.org/dotnet/maps/PositionreportsDetail.aspx?callsign=KI6MTD. Keep checking back to the blog this summer we hope to upload several posts on our reflections of the past 7 months of adventuring as well as updates on our current whereabouts and future cruising plans. Let us know if you have any questions about our journeys and we'll try to post answers.
Friday, June 19, 2009
For those 3 days in the work yard, we raced around. We took Grizzly to the veterinarian on the Dahone for a certificate of good health for international travel, did 6 loads of laundry, climbed the mast before dawn (it gets HOT after the sun rises!) to remove the masthead light and blocks aloft, as well as cover the steaming light with foil, did a final engine flush of the Yanmar (yes, we started her on the hard!) and the Seahor(se), removed Moni and the boom, left bleach water in our water tanks to discourage algal growth, plugged all the through hulls (except cockpit drains to let rain water drain) to dissuade cockroach, spider, mosquito entry, organized on board medical supplies and food stores placing them low and in bags to hopefully survive the heat and if failure occurs reduce mess, cut and install porthole covers and grease gaskets, covered all deck gear with tinfoil, secured mosquito netting over cowel vents, cleaned the whole interior, closed down the refrigerator, removed life lines (attempted not to fall off boat!), removed all electronics, aerosols, paint, bleach, thinner, gasoline, lubricated all pumps, and organized paperwork to take to the States. Although this list might sound exhaustive, it merely scratches the surface.
The last morning (June 2nd) before our 6 am pick up from Pura Vida, we left a note for Plume, who came to ensure Tao was safely moved out of the work yard and onto hurricane posts in the dry storage later that day, and we had to fit the man-overboard-pole, boom (yes our entire boom!), spinnaker pole, whisker pole, Seahor and Moni down below just before locking up for the last time for the summer. Amid this craziness we did manage to have a few very much appreciated restful moments with friends; waffles with Estrella, dorado and New Zealand wine with Plume, and beers with Harmony; these moments kept us sane; thank you all! And all of a sudden we were on our way north to the US/Mexico border and we could start to reflect on our previous adventures and think about all the things that we had forgotten and still needed to do for our future ones.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
We literally exploded onto the surrounding dock fingers. First we found a hose on the dock to borrow and washed down the deck and all deck hardware trying to reverse the corrosion that inevitably occurs. Next, we started the process of rinsing all the sails, canvas, and foul weather gear with freshwater and then hung it all out to dry before removing and folding them for the summer. We set up a 5-bucket system to rinse, then wash, then rinse, rinse, rinse, rinse all of our salt permeated lines and finally set them out along any already unused dock space (apparently we have mountains of lines aboard!).
In the midst of this craziness, Chris decided to take the cold-water wax off his surfboard for storage (yes, we have finally found warm water!). Shawn was in the bucket line with the ropes and heard a commotion along the finger of the dock we were tied to. Chris had lost a surf skeg into the water, immediately dropping to his knees to grab it, it floated down just below his fingertips and very seal like, he plopped down shoulder first, then head and finally feet slid into the water fully dressed between the dock and the next boat. He came up sputtering and cursing, his sunglasses askew. The skeg had been saved but he had lost a ¼-inch round chunk of his shin on some pipe-shaped object below the water. First aid ensued, a half-hour of irrigating the wound and then dressing it followed with close monitoring for the foreseeable future. Although wounded, the race against the clock and our 2pm haul out the next day continued. Rope washing continued (see the gauze on Chris' right shin?) and Rocky and all our other anchors were pulled off and washed along with associated rhode and chain (all together nearly 1,000 feet). As the sun set, the drying slowed and we had to leave all the ropes out for the night. We topped of the diesel with biocide, and flushed the engine and head with fresh water and vinegar. We enjoyed brief showers and basic dinner before we quickly fell into uneasy sleep thinking of all the tasks still on the list.
The next morning dawned wet- condensation, we willed the ropes to dry. We collected and re-organized all of our gear and tried to prepare the boat for hauling out. Last minute Chris had to ride the newly rinsed Dahone to the dry storage to pay the bill before hauling (we had incorrectly assumed that this could be done at the marina office), while Shawn scrubbed Eeyore’s bottom and set him out to dry, dry, dry! A persistent breeze was blowing from directly astern. Not wanting to have any motoring-in-tight-spaces-shenanigans, we lined Tao out of the too-small-slip and motored across the marina to wonderfully waiting friends from Plume, who caught our lines.
The next hour was a blur; a tractor pushed a huge trailer into the water under Tao. They hauled her up with Shawn aboard, who felt the shake as she slid- they had placed the keel support too far forward and the weight was resting forward of the flat part of keel on our cut-away. Back into the water and readjusted to the right spot, and quickly out of the water again. Tao, dripping wet and out of her element, was pushed by this tractor onto the road for a strange and thankfully quick ½ mile trip to the dry storage facility’s work yard. Once safely on stands, we checked the bottom, which looked great except for a few spots that had been knicked on the cutaway part of our keel in the first attempt out of the water, our zincs were toasted, and our propeller, rarely used, was 100% covered with barnacles. Totally physically and emotionally spent, we managed to clean the bottom before taking showers and having a nice chicken cacciatore and wine meal under the cover of mosquito nets as we mentally prepared ourselves for the 3 frantic days to follow.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Poco a poco (little by little). It was invaluable to be able to observe Pisces' process and we have allotted ourselves extra time to try to keep this transition as mellow as possible. Over the past week we started by researching all the possible places to leave Tao on the hard. Upon sailing in, we were leaning toward Guaymas, as it is known to be the least expensive, and near "the big city" of Guaymas, a hub for local fishing and shrimping operations. Upon visiting, it is run by a very amiable Gabriel, and is quite a small operation in a dirt yard with a barbed wire fence for security (it was strange to see Outkast and Misty on stands without their people). It turns out that it is on the outskirts with quite a trek, requiring a bus, to get to town for buying parts to do work or even for finding a place to eat or grocery store which would make working on Tao upon return a bit difficult. Singlar is newer to the area and known to have exorbitant prices. Still we wanted to check it out. We were very impressed by their facilities (clean, paved and highly secure) and were pleasantly surprised that in trying to fill their small yard, they are offering 60% off their prices which bring them to a reasonable cost. The down side is there are no boat work services available through the yard, we would have to find everything ourselves. Marina Real, closest to the Sea, was immediately out as you are not allowed to live on your boat while working on it. Marina San Carlos tends to be the favorite among the majority of cruisers that want to work on their boats. It is obvious that they have done this for a while and are quite a well oiled machine. Because of the cruisers demand, services for both the boat and the cruisers, although more expensive, have popped up all around this little town. It is also where Pisces hauled out the first day we were here (and several others such as Plume plan to), so we were able to intimately check out their process. After weighing all the pros and cons, we have decided to haul out into Marina Seca in San Carlos because of the high level of experience, decent security, and the larger net of other cruisers experience to draw from there. We'll just have to battle the dust and mosquitos and the extra money is worth it to us for a little more peace of mind.
Over the last week we also managed to purchase tickets from Phoenix to our different destinations just in time for the 2-week mark; we both fly out on June 5th. It's quite complicated and more details will follow as things fall into place. The basic idea so far is that Shawn and Grizzly are flying to New York to visit family and Griz will be staying with GrandMum for a while. Shawn will then head to Idaho for a trip down the Middle Fork/Main Salmon with Chris and on to Oregon to hopefully work a few trips on the Rogue before checking out the yoga scene back in Berkeley. Chris is flying to Corvallis to visit his sister Sarah and pick up our chariot Pepe, and then working his way to Idaho for another season of river running with Canyons. Unfortunately, post ticket purchase, we found that the beautiful Mexican buses do not allow pets in the cabin. Yikes, now we find ourselves with a deadline in the states and no easy way to get there. We are practicing our zen and having faith that a ride from another cruiser will fall into place at the right time. Don't worry though, we do have a back up plan. We'll keep you posted. Until then, we haul on Friday at 2 pm local when the tide is high enough for our 5-ft draft. Tomorrow we plan to take a slip and drench everything in fresh water- it has been since the states since Tao has had a real fresh water bath and all of our running and standing rigging as well as our sails, canvas covers, windlass, Moni, Seahor(se), and Eeyore are screaming for a serious wash down. How different unlimited freshwater showers will be for us as well... Which brings us to today, we are madly scrambling around on board taking measurements, baking bread and cookies to use up the open flour, and generally trying to get all of the tasks that need to be done in the water completed while at the same time reminding ourselves to enjoy this part of the adventure as well.