The nitty gritty: Part I

Ask and you shall receive!

More than a few of the folks who are keeping up with our preparations have asked some really good questions:  How will you take showers? How will you educate the boys? Will you have wifi while you’re gone?   Be assured, we are quite comfortable on Dakota and have been living on her full-time for over a month.  That said, because we have not yet thrown off the dock lines permanently, we have had the luxury of a personal vehicle to take us anywhere we’d like to go on land (including to visit family and friends, do free laundry while we can and run a multitude of pre-departure errands). We’ve had free and relatively uninterrupted US-quality wifi access as well as unlimited (that being a relative term as we are Californians) clean potable water for our daily needs.  We have plenty of electricity (AC and DC when we are on shore power) and are truly lacking nothing but a freezer, as compared to our land-based life, and that is purely by choice. (As it turns out, our freezer, when not turned on, is the perfect temperature for fresh produce, beer, wine and bread–our much preferred amenities to frozen foods!)

For now, we are quite happy on Dakota as we make final preparations for our departure. Pray tell, one might ask, what on earth is taking so long to depart?? Well… first lesson in cruising preparations is this: The list of shit to do is everlasting and looonnnggg and every single project takes gads too long to complete because it is a boat.  Remember when you got married? Or had a baby? (or threw a baby shower?)  And you thought, “damn, they are charging me to the moon and back because it’s a “wedding” or a “baby.””  Same thing with a boat.  Anything “marine” or “waterproof” or on a boat is ridiculously cumbersome and expensive.  What exactly do I mean?  Let me provide a colorful example:

See this bad boy?


It’s our new Viking 6-man life raft (self-righting, no less! Ain’t no one got time to flip a capsized life raft under life-or-death circumstances!) Well, I suppose you can’t see much, because 2 major things, sorry major things, have happened to make this simple, innocuous object appear, as if by magic, on our deck:

  1. We had to buy the thing.  Sounds simple, right?  But have you not met my husband? This poor soul must research, like a beaten rug, the begeezus out of every possible life raft.  And then simmer each and every option because the thought of parting with that much cash (regardless of the fact that it is for something that will save our lives) is inordinately difficult for him. This goes on FOR MONTHS.  I shit you not, we began discussions on our life raft when we were still living in our land-based home. Like in the winter of 2015/16 and shit yo.   Fast forward to 3 weeks ago, in walks yours truly with said husband, to the warehouse in Alameda where we are to buy our dinghy/inflatable (more on that later) and our life raft,  after much pre-visit discussion about what we agreed to buy, and over many last-minute objections, I throw down the Amex and MAKE this purchase.  Cuz like seriously, my sweet husband is eeeeiinnng and awwwiinnng over spending the extra $500 for the self-righting life raft. Serrriiioouusslllyy.  I can’t take it. I’m like “Babe, I love you and I totally respect your experience and research on this, but I gotta make the call.  When the shit hits the fan, if we HAVE to pull the rip cord on this life raft and conditions suck balls, aren’t you gonna wish we sprang for the extra $500 life raft that rights itself?! Cuz I sure as shit, with 2 scared kids screaming and sopping wet after being dumped from a capsized life raft, in what I have to assume is a horrible storm of some sort, am gonna want that.”  God help him, he obliges.
  2.  We had to install the life raft on our boat.  As I come to find out, there are 2 options here: mount it on the rails (my husband’s preferred method) or mount it on the deck.  Also, we have to make this decision blindly when we buy it because we kiinnnda didn’t think that part through, ya know, when we were eeeing and awwwing our options–we kinda didn’t remember to look at our set up and measure to see what option would work on our boat.  As one would expect, we bought all the extra parts for the rail mount, but afterwards discover (after we sail to Alameda and have it hauled on board, then sail back to our temporary slip) that a rail mount won’t work with our set up and we have to deck mount it. Aaannnddd, the only place it’ll work is right beneath the point where the mast meets the deck (I’m sure there is an official, nautical term for this space, but I don’t know it yet)… and that piece has to be, for all intents and purposes, surgically removed in order to install it.  AWESOME.   This little side project takes two days to finish, and let me assure you, involved its fair share of choice words, bloody knuckles, acetone-destroyed digits and plenty of bruises.  It also required middle-of-the-night work because after an entire day of keeping the family hostage on board with hammering, drilling and scraping, we/he decided that the best way to button this up was to finish it after the kids had gone to bed (Coyote Point’s punishing winds be damned!).
  3. We have to get canvas covering made for it and installed.  Again, sounds simple right?  Sure, we went straight to the canvas-maker’s office right after we purchased it weeks ago, made the canvas selections, gave him the dimensions of the units and gave him the deposit he needed to get it started.  But, as with all things boat, it required much additional customization and thus additional appointments to get it made. First, Mr. Canvas-Maker needs to know where we are going to install it, i.e., a rail mount or a deck mount? This is apparently game-changing information. The first time he comes out, we don’t know yet. (oops!) We thought it was the rail, but after he told us he, like, *needed* to know in order to draft the canvas, we found ourselves with another middle-of-the-night project (needing placement decisions for the life raft and recalibrating the dinghy because he is making the canvas cover for the dinghy too. I know, sounds luxurious, but it’s actually a necessity in case we take a huge wave, so it doesn’t sink us, rip off our dinghy davits, or cause other damage!) Second, Mr. Canvas Maker needs us to sail back to Alameda (because it takes some time to sew all these canvas coverings!) for a fitting to make sure everything is as it needs to be.  Easy enough.  (Today’s appointment).  Finally (I hope), tomorrow he is set to come back to actually install all the canvas coverings we had him make (dinghy cover, life raft cover and a thingy for the boys’ shower–there’s no good way to explain it, but basically a thing that stops shit from falling when we are underway).

See what I mean? That gray boxy-looking thing on our deck was PAINSTAKINGLY purchased, installed and covered… and that little project was just completed today (after we sailed/motored to Alameda yet again).

That’s the kind of nitty-gritty shit that’s been taking up our time as of late.  As I’ve come to learn, it takes quite awhile to actually leave the dock, especially when we are fully entrenched in homeschooling (which means we gotta, like feed our kids, watch over them, be present of mind and be in charge of their general well-being, 24-7 with no school and no childcare, at the same time).

That said, we are very near the end of our preparations!! As much as we have all LOVED Alameda and particularly Encinal Yacht Club (we may have to join after this adventure!)… we truly *hope* that this is our last sail to Alameda for installations. And with the anticipated arrival of some important packages soon, we hope to be So-Cal bound sooner rather than later.

Until then, I take comfort in the fact that Dakota is looking more like a cruising vessel!  (try to forget that the mainsail is currently not installed, that’s our middle-of-the-night project for tonight!)


And one more for the road, because it’s too damn cute not to . . .


[Elliott (8) reading Finley (almost-4) a pre-nap book]

6 thoughts on “The nitty gritty: Part I

  1. This is awesome. Thank you for sharing. I was kinda wondering “what the heck are they doing still in port?” lol! I get it now. I’m so excited for your adventure and love that you are allowing us all to come along for the ride. Safe travels! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the details — the real world example definitely gives some perspective on just how intense each and every step of this process must have been. Extra kudos to you guys! Excited for you to set sail and to read about your adventures.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Reading this is like sitting with you over a glass of vino…I can hear the inflections in your voice, especially the swear words…hahah! Love you guys!!! Thanks for keeping us updated!!! xoxo


  3. I am brought to tears as I finish reading your post. Seeing Elliott reading to Finley. That picture takes my heart❤️, as I taught Elliott to read in Kindergarten. I am so proud of him! Elliott, you be a great big brother and teach Finley as I taught you. You can do it. I look forward to seeing your education on the seas. Please share them.


  4. I’m rereading this (again at 4 am because I’m still in Bali time) because I wanted to take in your journey again from the beginning. I know this must have caused some grey hairs and induced drinking several bottles of wine, and pribnlt wasn’t funny at the time, but reading this again now that you are safely underway and well into your journey is making me laugh out loud. Thanks for the middle of the night entertainment 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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