Where does time go? Seriously.

Seriously, where the hell does time go?! The last two and a half months have seriously vanished into thin air. Poof. Gone. Now we all have these times in our life but all too often I just dismiss it and say “oh well.” But that is time you’re not getting back! Ever. This will be a long ass post. I’m warning you now. I’m partly curious where all that time has gone and feel slightly obligated to get caught up with this blog! So where have those couple of months gone?


So let’s see. I flew home from Milano, took BART to Alchemy, crashed for the night, and immediately hopped in my car to drive to my Mom’s in Redondo Beach. My friend Mike was getting married in Redondo the next week and I was the best man. Had to get down there. Well, I got my first overdraft text as I pulled in the driveway to my mom’s. Then another, then another. Crap. All of my savings were depleted. I was flat broke. I barely made it back. One more jar of anchovies, or another loaf of olive bread and I’d have been stuck who knows where. But barely making it counts, right?

Mr. and Mrs. Mike and Sarah Vignery
Well I had one week in Redondo where worrying wouldn’t do any good so I might as well enjoy life. I got some important stuff done too, but spent plenty of time skating and surfing. After stressing about throwing Mike a killer bachelor party and all of the plans miraculously failing we spent an awesome day skating the strand with tall cans. A bachelor party day of mostly two people. A moment of nostalgia to say the least. So we had a blast and now have Mr. and Mrs. Vignery. I drove home the next day. Week one gone, but well lived.


Teaching, Varnish, Debt Collector (me this time!)

Ahh crap. Reality. Broke. Life strikes back. I have the marina calling me saying I need to pay in full in two weeks or they’re going to impound Alchemy. Didn’t see that coming. Ok, need to come up with $1500 pronto. Full time work teaching sailing doesn’t quite cut it. It would take me a month to make that. I can be a little lax in debt collection, if you know me, this is probably no surprise. For once I’m the collector! Time to start claiming some debts. So now I’m teaching sailing full time (hey it makes a dent), calling everyone I know for money owed me, picked up a varnish job, shooting videos for SailVision, eating nothing but rice, beans, and leftover subway. Oh and then there were the mice!


The Mice

God damn mice. The day I get back on alchemy they’re running everywhere. Of course you can’t see them. You just hear them in pots and pans, in the oven, in the shelf two inches from your head. If you’ve ever seen “Never Cry Wolf” You know exactly what I’m talking about. If you haven’t seen it, Netflix has it here. Watch it, its a fantastic film.

In times like these sleep is out of the question and making a mousetrap was the only thing one could do to try and maintain any sort of sanity. Cardboard box, tupperware lid, peanut butter, a broken coat hanger, and a sail tie. Hide under blanket and wait… and wait, and wait. Fail. I finally fell asleep at around 4am.


The next morning I rounded up every legit mouse trap I could find and bought two of every kind of poison sold at OSH. A few days later, I caught one by its cute little finger in a little snappy trap. A few weeks later after pulling the diesel engine, I found the rest of the family. Turned into mice skeletons in the bilge; About eight of them. I sucked them up with the shop vac, they got stuck in the hose so I had to jiggle it to get them to “thunk” in the vac. This felt wrong, but strangely satisfying. Haven’t heard them since. Yes, I knocked on wood. This was a week from hell. Impressively sleepless and awful. Week two, done. Sucky but unavoidable.


This brings us to the week of October 19th when Squirrel got hauled. Now, Squirrel is a story that I’ve been wanting to write for, well a little over a year now but simply haven’t had the time. Surprise surprise. And I still don’t have it, so here’s a long story short:

Squirrel is a little oregon dory. About 21 feet overall with three rowing stations and a gaff rigged sail. Story has it that up in Oregon at some unknown point back in time a man built this classic dory for his daughter. Time passed. The dory somehow made it into the hand of man with a red face who liked to drink. He was a nice enough man. One day he sailed up to the Berkeley fuel dock in his 50′ wooden ketch and asked me if anyone wanted to buy a boat. He was towing this dory. I must have sucker written all over my face. So does Alicia. By the end of the day we were the proud owners of Squirrel. Squirrel represents adventure. To not restore squirrel and get her back sailing would be representative of abandoning the spirit of adventure within ourselves.

Squirrel must be hauled. On October 19th, Alicia had squirrel hauled and the next week was spent furiously restoring her. The first few days I spent stripping, sanding, and prepping the bottom and topsides. Alicia and Beth took the lead from there, as I had another boat I was responsible for varnishing, They painted the topsides, re-caulked the bottom, and painted the interior. Roughly a week later, Squirrel was back in the water… and sinking. Beth found the leak though. Now she floats.


All she needs now is a new rudder, the mast rebuilt, and some creative rigging for the sail. Almost done. That would account for another week. Let’s call this week three. This week was long overdue and a definite success.


And then there is SailVision. The brainchild of mine and Michael’s. The idea was to create a series of instructional sailing videos that would not only make top quality sailing education more accessible, but utilize modern technology and media as a teaching tool for educational institutions and private instructors to more effectively teach students. Everybody wonders why this hasn’t been done before. Well, let me tell you. It is HARD. And not because we’re idiots, though I’ll freely admit that. We’ve had award winning videographers out with us in hopes of learning a thing or two from them. Their response: “Holy shit! This shit is fucking hard!… I don’t know how you guys do it!” I guess that means we’ve done something? Awesome!


We’ve been working on this project for two years now. The hardest thing either of us has ever done. We’re at a point now that we can’t quit. We have too much content already produced that to quit would be essentially be an act of selfishness. Even if we don’t make a penny out of this endeavor, we both are totally sold that this will be a tremendous resource for sailors and have the capacity to bring many new faces into the sport. So we have to finish.

This means a ton of frustration, spending money we don’t have, sacrificing work that we desperately need, putting our friendship at risk more often than I’d like, on a product we dont know if there is a profitable market for.


Some day’s are good. Some are a bitch. When we look back in a year or so, it will all be worth it. Until then we’ve been focusing every free moment on the project. So lets call it 40-50 hours per week from October 20th until now. Jesus, that’s a lot of time. Almost there, almost there… (we’ve been saying that for a year and a half now!) But we are close now. We have a small support team working with us and helping us maintain momentum. You know who you are. Thank you. We’d have given up a long time ago if it were’t for you.


As if SailVision didn’t put enough on my plate. We have Alchemy. Shortly after I got home from Europe I went to breakfast with Bob. Bob has become a good friend. After being stuck with each other for sixty days aboard his boat Charisma last winter we got to know each other pretty well. The next day Bob would be leaving for Mexico. When I asked how long he reply was: “Well we were going to go for a year. But now we’ve spent so much money on Charisma, we can’t afford to be gone any less than two years!”


He was half joking but there was a good deal of truth in that statement. Fact of the matter is that I can’t afford to stay here much longer. I have made the commitment to go cruising now, not later, for later never comes for most. In making that commitment I have had to avoid making commitments. I’ve had to turn down job offers and make a number of sacrifices that to be honest, I can only make for so long. At some point I need to commit. I need to shit or get off the pot. And we all know there is nothing quite as satisfying as a big shit. So shit it is. If I’m going to go, I need to go.

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Work is slow this time of year anyway so I’ve decided to go in head first to get Alchemy ready to go. Unless you’ve prepared a boat yourself for a voyage around the world, you have no idea how much work this is and how taxing that work is. Not only is the work itself hard, but when you live on the boat you’re working on, it’s another level of chaos and pain-in-the-assness. You are essentially homeless. Not only is the physical environment one of clutter and utter wreckage, it is one of chemicals and fiberglass dust. One where you seal yourself in the most isolated area of the boat and sleep in a respirator.


To avoid being “home” you are in a constant search of cafe’s that are open till earlier hours of the morning. Your diet goes to shit because you aren’t cooking anything (you have no batteries thus no electricity so your propane solenoid doesn’t work) and you’re on a budget. It is tough to eat out, healthily, on a budget. Dinner tonight is a PB&J and snap peas. That was also lunch… and breakfast.

My goal is to have Alchemy ready to cruise by Spring. I’ll have the summer to put some miles under her keel in sea trials. By fall we should have SailVision launched and that chapter closed (or at least stabilized), and it’ll be time to head to Southern latitudes.

the numbers add up

Well at least close enough. It’s just been a busy couple of months. The more I think about it, these big projects really just account for a fraction of the time. In those little gaps of time when most of the world is asleep some of the most incredible moments have presented themselves. Sunrise BBQ’s in the community garden watching the full eclipse of the moon. Befriending Gene while working on Squirrel on late night in the yard. He’s in his 70′s, spent 15 years sailing around the world, and has traveled around the world a total of eleven times. We sat in his boat Peregrine till 3am drinking juice sharing stories. We talk often now. It’s been an incredible couple of months. Definitely well spent. I suppose sometimes you just have to look closely to see it.