In which the tortoise becomes the hare

We've met or spoken with a number of boats who are heading North from BC or WA this year and we kept saying "we move very slowly" and "we like to spend a lot of time in each place so you'll catch up/pass us/etc".

Yet, here we are, in Desolation Sound, 8 days after departing Esquimalt, BC (near Victoria).

This doesn't break any speed records but it isn't exactly dawdling either.

Logbook posts to come on our next wifi connection whenever and wherever that might be.

Where are we NOW?

As we have become mobile again, and know people who are also mobile, it has become increasingly important for people to know where we actually are right now in case they want to meet up with us, as opposed to our blog which is usually a few weeks behind. We've started using our SSB radio to send position reports via Winlink. There is also Yotreps, and both Winlink and Yotreps feed to Shiptrak, making Shiptrak a cool site to use if you want to find someone because you don't have to know how they are reporting, just what callsign they are using.

Why Winlink? Well, we're Amateur Radio Operators so we can and also, there is a cool feature where if you are reporting your position via Winlink, other HAMs can request your position via radio (with Airmail it's easy) and thus a friend can be bobbing around in an anchorage and say "Where's Estrellita?" and then send a request with their radio and get our most recent latitude-longitude*.

Non-boaters, indeed, non-radio geeks - The important fact here is that, you can now see where we are, or at least where we were recently, on this map (best visually, IMHO): WINLINK

Or this map: SHIPTRACK 

Not this map yet, but maybe at sea: YOTREPS

*I have this (totally stupid) stance about saying latitude-longitude instead of "GPS position". GPS is one way (the best way, granted) to get a lat-long but it is a mechanism for discovery not the data point.


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The Pretorien looks so much bigger inside without a table. You can also see our “TV/lounging” configuration where we partially slide out the salon bed to create some lounge chair action.

I put some coats of varnish on most of the interior surfaces last year except the floor and the salon table. I did not strip the old varnish and most of it was in great condition.

The table was pretty beat up so Carol took it and our stairs into the woodworking shop while we had access to one and stripped it down and re-varnished it with Epifanes Brushed Effect varnish.

Our teak is a thin veneer on the flat part of the table and so we are limited in how much we could sand the worst spots in order to avoid sanding through the veneer completely.

It looks much better and is now sealed up against future damage. Good show Carol!

You are still here?

Note: Asking cruisers-in-preparation "You are still here? I thought you were leaving?" is much like asking a graduate student "Are you still working on your dissertation?" because the answers to both questions involve internal swearing.

It is interesting to me to see how flustered I have been answering that question over the last few months. After all, we picked a date (June 2010) in 2008 and...we left in June 2010. And our plan was to cruise locally until 2011 and then head South, and that is what we are doing.

So why would I be a wee bit touchy about the question?

I don't expect anyone else to keep track of our plans and the poor people asking are usually responding to the fact that they haven't seen us in a while and suddenly we are back and they remember "something about us going offshore". And even if our plan was to leave in 2010 and we were leaving in 2011, presumably we would be doing so for our own reasons and why would I be touchy about that?

Perceived failure? Overachiever much? My baggage follows me.

The Cost of Cruising

I've been looking around trying to find online reports of the cost of cruising, not budgets for dreamers or those in prep, but reports from people who are or have been actively cruising.

Here is what I have so far - know any others?

Carina ($24,000 USD/yr as reported on IWAC) *
Del Viento
Gilana (Euro)
Groovy (scroll to "Costs" near bottom of page)
Hello World 
Hotspur (Comparing 3 years: January February March)
Living the Dream
Location ($1500 USD/mo as reported on IWAC) *
Pacific Bliss ($30,000 USD/yr as reported on IWAC) *
Sage ($12,000 USD/yr as reported on IWAC) *
Slapdash ($2000 CAD/mo as reported on IWAC) *
Tamure ($1800 USD/mo as reported on IWAC) *
Third Day
Tock (this link is a 3 year summary - search their blog for monthly breakdowns)
Ventana ($2,400 USD/mo as reported on IWAC) *
Viking Star 
Wavetrain (scroll to bottom)
Windom (Scroll down to financials)

Other: Bob Shenk (survey - in German - anyone read German because Google translate tells me they found approx 2000Euro/month was average!). Another resource: Sail Loot.

Caveat: Of course, these estimates are for different time periods, with different boats, in different locations, etc.

* EDIT:  Added new link (3/2017)

Shiny pretty


I wrote a long post on waxing last year with application specifics and with thanks to the sources I pulled from.

In sum, the goal is to shine the gel coat and then wax to seal it and protect it. The shine should come prior to the waxing from successively finer “sanding”. We started with a 3M Rubbing Compound last year and this year we did not need to go that deeply because the hull was still shiny and beading water in large sections.

This year, after washing with IMAR Yacht Soap Concentrate and a gentle brush, I started with the 3M Finesse-It II Finishing Glaze and then skipped the Meguiar's #09 Swirl Remover, which really does add shine but we ditched for expediency, and put two coats of Collinite Paste Fleetwax on most of the hull with 5 coats on our stern which gets the most abuse. I applied and buffed both as per last years recommendations.

And Estrellita 5.10b is a very, very shiny girl*.

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*Well, below the toerail at least. The deck needs some TLC.

Paper Motivation

What are your favorite cruising books?

In honor of the fact that some of you have been busily purchasing things from Amazon in ways that earn us cash, I used our first Amazon Affiliates gift certificate to buy some paper books (as opposed to e-books for my Nook) from, you guessed it, Amazon. I have been keeping lists of books that I've seen mentioned on other people's cruising blogs. Of course, I forget which recommendations came from which blogs.

Here are the 5 used books I've ordered:

I can't review them for a while because I don't expect to physically have them until my parents visit us in California. Have you read any of these?



Originally uploaded by S/V Estrellita

Bad news: We are supposed to go in the water today but we won't splash until Thursday.

Good news: Carol rocked his Amateur Radio Exam and will henceforth be known as:


or VA2 Alpha Romeo Romeo

Replacing sail slides



One of the things I have been meaning to do for a while was a full inspection of our primary (white) sails. I had inspected the jib during our at anchor repair of the Sunbrella and had added some chafe protection in key spots at the tack and head.

On a sunny afternoon I spread the mainsail out on a bit of lawn and went over it. We had a metal sail slide at the head (top) of the sail and plastic sail slides for the rest. Non-boaters, these allow us to raise and lower the mainsail in a track on the mast. All of the slides are held to metal rings in the sail by webbing.

The webbing on the top sail slide which is the most critical, taking the most wear and strain, had what at first glance appeared to have chafed through! However, when I tried to connect the chafed ends together it was clear that they did not have enough length to touch. I’m still not entire clear what happened but it appears to have either been installed that way (that seems highly unlikely) or chafed through and was trimmed at some point (dangerous) or cut (also dangerous). The only thing holding that sail slide onto the sail was the stitching. This is particularly disturbing to me because we see this sail slide every time we hoist the main and apparently hadn’t been paying enough attention to notice the problem.

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There were four layers of webbing and you can see how the innermost layer was burning from chafe (this is its purpose) and each successive layer looks less damaged.

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We bought two Allslip slides and I replaced the top sail slide on our headboard and the second to top slide which was in relatively good condition but showed some wear. Here is the second to top slide (old, mid-replacement and replaced) and then the replaced top sail slide on the headboard. I used polyester webbing and hand sewing thread. It was an extremely simple fix and I used the instructions in Carol Hasse’s course book although after completing the procedure I “mirrored it” so that the stitching is doubled and crosses on the back.

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I’ve kept the extra slides as spares as both were in good condition and we bought a second metal spare as well. We also bought some extra webbing which can be used to reinforce the sail at key points like the tack, clew and reef points, to make a temporary head, tack or clew attachment in an emergency as well as to replace sail slides.

Mast Floss



Have you flossed your mast lately?

Our mast step has drainage underneath it so that as water comes into the mast at the top and possibly on the sides, the water can drain out the bottom into our bilge. The problem is that many of us don’t take out our masts more than once a decade and the mast step fills with crud and the drain holes clog.

When we pulled the mast, enough water came pouring out of the mast that the bilge pump went off. Poor Carol is down below wrestling the mast and the bilge pump goes off. Better yet, the bilge pump float stuck and the pump stayed on. So Carol is now trying to figure out how pulling the mast is causing us to sink.

You can use a coat hanger or something to poke at those holes from the outside to clear them. While the mast was out I decided to add some “mast floss”.

With a paper clip and some polyester hand sewing thread, I looped three lines underneath the mast step so that we can floss the drain holes when the mast is back in.The lines can be pulled to the side when we put the mast back in and are completely clear of the groove in the step that our mast sits inside.

A decade of gunk vs. cleaned and ready to floss:

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Hauled Out

Too busy for such things as blogging, or even things like "getting a haircut", but I thought I would leave you with Estrellita 5.10b in flight.

Imagine your house being hauled into the air toward a big piece of concrete. I cringe watching this.

We're staying in an unseaworthy vessel permanently aground (a house) and enjoying the hospitality of friends.


Click on the dollar and buy Livia and Carol a cold frosty one:


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