The weather has been swelteringly hot in San Diego. The cockpit cover has been up, the hatches have been open and our fingers have been crossed in hopes of a cooling breeze flowing through Monsoon. We can see the Coronado Islands of Mexico from here, and we know that the time is coming for us to make our voyage into our first foreign country by sail. But first, there is a ton of boat work to be done.
Project 1: Dinghy varnish, clean, deck plate replaced, name painted, oar handles redone, rub rail installed. Apparently we have a dinghy that is much in demand. A Fatty Knees 8’, rare on this side of the US. When we bought it second hand, she was sitting pristine in someone’s backyard, barely used. But 3 years with the Weaver family, and Clementine is an old salt, used almost everyday, rowed thru 30 knot winds, dragged on rough beach sand, stained with rusty chains. It’s time to turn that silvered teak golden glossy again.
Project 2: Water tanks. For the past year and a half that we have been living off the grid, we have been doing well with just a 35 gallon water tank that we use for everything, from drinking, to dishes and bathing. This usually lasts 3 weeks, but now with the prospect of long distance sailing between potentially remote places with questionable water availability and potability, we would be more comfortable with more water tanks. So we have installed 3 water bladders that add 91.5 gallons to our supply. A lot of downsizing will have to be done to accommodate that many tanks, but minimalism is what we strive for anyway.
Project 3: Mast steps. How does one get up a mast to do repairs? You can either have a bosun’s chair that you sit in and hoist yourself up, or have ratlines to climb up like an old square rigged ship, or you can take down your mast in a yard, or you can install mast steps to climb up like a ladder. We decided that mast steps would be the most convenient solution, despite how cool ratlines would look. A crow’s nest is still in consideration, since it can serve as a place to send Rowan when he misbehaves.
We might have mentioned that we were planning to hike the John Muir Trail, and how hard it was to get permits. We have since decided not to do the hike this year for a few reasons. First, the potential cost of doing the trip started piling up; preparing hiking food and sending them to drop off points, transport for ourselves, putting the boat up in a marina, all amounting to thousands of dollars. At the same time, we are burning through our budget with all this boat work, so at this point it doesn’t make sense to us to pay to travel when our regular life is traveling. Second, we might be biting off more than we can chew if we were to hike with a 1 year old. Regular thru hiking requires you to carry heavy backpacks with everything you need to survive for a month, but with a baby we also have to carry the baby himself and all his supplies. 10 miles and 2000 feet a day for a month while oxygen deprived at high altitudes. Also baby is still breastfed and in diapers. Third, although we have been looking forward to this hike for awhile, it might not be fair for Rowan to have to sit in a baby carrier for 10 hours a day at a time when he’s trying to learn how to be mobile. He has been mostly patient on day hikes and gets comfortable enough to fall asleep sometimes, but that amount of sitting is enough to make anyone antsy. And we are not sure how Rowan will adapt to the cold. At night, temperatures can drop to freezing point in the mountains, and none of us are very good at sleeping through the cold. At 5 weeks of age, a camping trip in Yosemite was cut short by a cold and screaming Rowan, making angry eyebrows at his newly minted parents who did not know how to dress a baby warmly. On top of all that. Rowan will not be able to remember or appreciate any of our hiking trip. So JMT 2018 is a no go for the Weaver family, but someday when Rowan is 15 and able to carry his own backpack and take his own photographs, we will return for another try.