USA  2012/2013

USA 2012/2013 Archive

Be sure to see our San Francisco Movie!  

September/October/November/December 2012 and 

January/February 2013

1st September       The trip begins…..We flew out of Brisbane Airport, Queensland, Australia bound for Los Angeles, USA.  We hired a car,  drove to San Francisco and went straight to work looking for the boat we wanted to buy.


                               Seals at Sausalito


                               And here she is….

13th September      It looks like we are going to buy an Island Packet 45 which is located at Pt. Richmond. We have made an offer in and it has been accepted.

This vessel was commissioned in 1998 here at Pt Richmond and has already sailed around the world. The previous owners are a couple who are now reportedly in their 70's. They have long since moved off the boat and back into their shore based life. The boat has been sitting at the dock for over a year. Lots of things on this boat are at 'end of useful life' as they have been well used. But Island Packet have an excellent reputation for a quality built cruising boat custom designed for a couple to cruise the world in safety. Strong build, good stability, a long keel, shallow draft of less than 5 feet. Her mast/rigging was replaced in 2008. Sails are in good condition.  Craig is keen.

The Sea Trial

On Monday, we did our Sea Trial - which was more like making sure she floated and we could get the sails up and out!.  But that started off in a challenging way.  As we were heading out into the Bay, Craig leaned across to adjust something and his big knee snapped the starter key off in the ignition switch!  Back to the dock we went.  We worked out that we could still start and turn off the boat with a screw driver so we headed back out.  I had been commenting about all the white smoke (steam!) coming from the back of the boat when the temp alarm went off.  XXXX! - our Broker was swearing! So once again we were heading back to the dock.  Craig 'burped' the sea strainer whilst we were underway and she came good again! So off we went again.  Anyway whilst we were motoring out we noticed we were getting a little shimmy/shake at the wheel - we made a note to check that with the surveyor.  The sails look good and the boat sails very nicely.


                               Craig at the helm during our Sea Trial

The Survey

We had our Survey done yesterday.  The Surveyors name was Randy and he is ex-US Coastguard. We met him at the dock at 08.30am and he finished at 4.00pm.  He started going over the exterior of the boat.  He had a little microphone that he kept his notes on.  Craig and/or I followed him around the whole day making our own notes and discussing things with him. It is hard to believe some people don't even turn up for their Survey – they just wait for a report.  We learnt a lot about the boat that day.

On the inside, he started at the Bow and worked his way back.  All cushions and bilge covers were removed as he found all of the tanks, wires and pumps.  He assessed what everything was and whether it was in good condition, working or not.  Lots of hoses need replacing, bilge pumps and water pumps need to be renewed.  Chainplates on the Island Packet can't be seen without cutting into and removing bulkheads but there was no evidence of rusty leaks or corrosion. The tanks that we could see look like they are in good condition.  There are a lot of items that  need attention, maintenance, replacing or renewing. 

We hauled the boat out at 11.00am.   She hasn't been hauled in over 12 months.  Last time she was out she had 2 coats of antifoul paint applied.  We were pleased that the bottom looked good.  We replaced some Anodes.  She needs an anode attached to the Bow Thruster.

It looks like we need a new Cutlass Bearing.  We think that would explain why we were getting the shimmy/shake.  The propellor was a little crusty but no pitting.  The Surveyor said we should adjust the pitch to get a better efficiency from it.  Its a 3-blade feathering prop.

All the big and really expensive stuff like the condition of the hull are good.  Today we are getting an Engine Survey done.  Its one of those things where the engine looks good, sounds good, runs good but when you are heading offshore you don't want any surprises.  So hopefully we will pay our money and he will say it "is good!”

We are looking forward to getting on the boat and out of the Hotel.  But due diligence first.....and patience.


                               Our boat now!  

OK, so we bought the boat. We are going to re-name her TRUE BLUE V. We wanted something Australian hence True Blue. It is a true Blue Water Cruiser. We love John Williamson's song True Blue. True Blue 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 were already taken so that is how True Blue V came alive.  We also decided to put the Southern Cross on the Bow. People will know we are Australian from a mile away!

28th September     Well we move on to the boat tomorrow.  We will be so glad to get out of staying in Hotels as they are an expensive way to live.  We don't have a TV onboard so we should be able to get plenty of work done.  Its going to take a bit of time to get the boat into an 'offshore ready' position as we will have to replace just about every hose, lots of pumps, floats etc but hey - what else are we going to do?  


Well we have been on board for a week now.  We are really enjoying it and very slowly getting to know the boat.  

We filled the water tank and have running water on board now although tank will need a few flushes before I would consider drinking it.  

We are now using the Water Heater so we also have hot water on board now.  We don't use the toilet or shower on board. Head hoses need replacing - they are bubbling!  And I think shower pump needs replacing.  

I have started varnishing the external teak work. It will need 10 coats and may take a couple of weeks to complete.  


We are reclaiming and organising cupboard spaces. We are stripping out old/ugly metal shelving, then cleaning and varnishing the interior timber before replacing shelving with stained plyboard. Much more appropriate.

Craig has sorted through all the spare parts on board and organised them into plastic bins with lids which he will number so that he knows what and where everything is.

And in between jobs we have slowly been buying kitchen items, bedding, tools and anything else we will need for living aboard and cruising. 

We came up with a cost-effective solution for our port lights so that we now have some privacy when in the marina.   We went to TAP Plastics and got some Pearl perspex which they laser cut to fit the port lights. The color, pattern & shape are perfect. They give privacy but still let light in.

We have started using a high pressure cooker on the gas stove and find the 'one pot' cooking is working well.  Being Aussies, we have ordered a BBQ to be mounted outside on the stern rail.  It has a lid so can also be used as an oven so I think we will use it alot.

A quiet week on the boat.  Still varnishing, sanding, varnishing, cleaning, fixing bits and sorting out bits, finding new bits to be fixed etc.  

At Pot Luck on Wednesday night we met Emmy and Eric who have just got back from sailing the Pacific for the last 5 years on their boat Nataraja. And another couple who have been sailing the world for 40 years!!!  They do charter tours to Antarctic every 2nd year, taking 7 or 8 passengers in their 60 foot steel boat.  Oleg was French and Sophie is from South America.   Cruisers everywhere!

It rained the last 2 nights and we had an ingress of water.  The first night we thought the water came through the port light and just cleaned it up.  But last night it bucketed down and we realised we have a leak as the floorboards became wet yet again.  Bugger.  It might be the chainplates or the stanchions….so the search begins.

Anyway life is full of little jobs and big shocks at the moment.  The big shock comes when we get a quote to get work done.  Especially when it hasn't been budgeted for.  Welcome to sailing! Or actually boating of any kind.

Yesterday we discovered CostCo which is the American Bulk Food Store.  It is fabulous and we have decided we now shop there!  We will need to stock up the boat so some bulk buying will suit us.

We just had our first ever Skype experience with Craig's parents.  It is fantastic and I can't believe it is free.  We talked for 1/2 hour.  Definitely the way to go and they loved it!


Svendsens Boat Yard, Alameda

We have been at Svendsens Boat yard for nearly 3 weeks getting work done. The boat will go back in the water tomorrow but still be getting work done at the dock.  Its all coming together slowly.  

It is Thanksgiving here on Thursday.  Its very quiet around the boatyard as everyone takes a holiday for Thanksgiving and they won't be back at work until Monday.

Emmy and Eric invite us to come to a big Thanksgiving feast back over at Pt Richmond.  We turn up and have a big roast turkey with all the 'fixins'.  It was fantastic, just like a big Christmas dinner.  


                               On the hardstand at Svendsens


We are still in San Fran and still working on the boat.  We are waiting on some electrical work to be completed, waiting on the fridge/freezer to be completed, still replacing hoses etc.   It's a full time job getting all the jobs done and everything takes longer than you think.

The best time to head South was early November so we are running late.  But the boat has to be ready!  There is no point rushing offshore if the boat is not ready.  We haven't even been for a practice sail out in the Bay yet.  But no use stressing about it.  It is what it is.  Actually the boat is really coming alive again and she is looking really good.  But it is getting cold here and we still only have our Qld clothes.  Brrr!

We had Halloween and as soon as that was over, it was all about Thanksgiving and before that was over, it was all about Xmas!  Happy New Year!



Pt Richmond, San Francisco, USA

Happy New Year!

Last night we were invited out on a brand new 44ft Beneteau Power Boat with the Passage Yachts crew and some of their guests. Departing around 8pm we motored over to Sausalito, under the Golden Gate Bridge and over to the Bay Bridge for midnight fireworks. It was a beautiful night on the Bay with calm seas, clear sky and large moon. Champagne, Beer and Hot Buttered Rum at midnight. Thanks for a great night.


                               Partying with Debbie and Dana 

6th January to end of January

Svendsens Boat Yard, Alameda. Tied up at dock. Jobs, jobs, jobs. We are on a mission. We know we can't do everything ourselves and time (visa) is running out. So its back to Svendsens. We need help.

Rod & Rico are installing 8 x new 6Volt batteries and hooking up the new inverter.

                               Helping hands at Svendsens Boat Yard


Here is our list of other jobs we want to get done:

Apply boat name “True Blue V” on the stern

New jacklines, new EPIRB, repair S/S stanchions and adjustments to boarding ladder,

Dodger repairs, mount new roller furling blocks.

Cone shaped timber bungs/plugs need to be attached near all through-hull fittings.

Replace hoses in all the hard to reach places. It sounds easy but takes days with lots of bruises to Craig whilst squeezing into places that no one has seen since the boat was new.

Install 2 x new heads, replace bilge pumps and float switches.

Repairs to lee cloths.

Check anchor rode and Galerider rode. Replace rusty shackle; put a new eyesplice in and whip ends. Replace sheets up on deck and whip ends.

Install instrument pod above companionway. Star Marine is to install new electronics including radar, chartplotter and AIS.

Order Tohatsu outboard motor 9.8 hp online. Buy an inflatable dinghy.

Purchase jerry cans for additional water and diesel.

I went to the Marina Chandlery and picked up a MOB pole, lifejackets, 2 x waterproof flashlights, fire blanket and a strobe light.  Yes I am 'Safety Officer.'   I start checking our Grab Bag.  The Life Raft gets checked and repacked by Sal's Inflatables at Alameda.  We hope we never have to use it.


I need to get AMSA paperwork in order with Australian Boat Registration and EPIRB. Also ACMA radio license. It all takes time. I found its best if you ring them and talk to someone.

                               True Blue V Australian Registration Documents….yay!


Yesterday was beautiful blue sky and sunshine. Today is cold and grey with freeze conditions on the way. We close the boat up at 4pm every day and put the little fan heater on. It stays on all night. Ice on the docks! We need to go south asap.

We walk to the laundromat to do our washing, Starbucks or library for internet access and Nob Hill Supermarket for groceries and beer. We discover Ole's Waffles and some great little restaurants in Park Street.

James (in the Chandlery) takes us out to Tiki Bar and introduces us to Scorpion Bowls – ½ price on Sundays. I am not feeling well the next day.

We hired a car and picked up 2 x solar panels and a control box.  Also a Honda Generator and Navionics Charts for our chartplotter.

Its the last day of January and we pay our bill at Svendsens Boat Yard and head back over to Pt Richmond. A huge “Thank You” to Svendsens – you have made our lives easier and helped us get our boat 'ship shape' and ready to cross oceans. We would definitely recommend you to our fellow cruisers.   Bye “Uncle Ray and Cousin Rod!"


Back in Pt Richmond.

Its time for our Boat De-Naming and Re-Naming Ceremony. Its appropriate for it to take place in Pt Richmond. This is where the boat was first commissioned in 1998 and is her Home Port.


Toasting the Gods of the Sea & Wind requires lots of alcohol


We invite one and all and provide lots of alcohol. Its not good to skimp out when thanking Neptune and all the Sea & Wind Gods for protecting this vessel in her previous journeys and asking for protection in future journeys.  Its a great event with everyone turning up and toasting True Blue V.


16th February to end of February

Our great mates at Brickyard Cove Marina, Pt Richmond organise a 'Cutting the Line' Ceremony and everyone turns up to say farewell and wave us goodbye. They cut the last tie on the boat as it is a symbol that we will return one day. Thank you everyone for making our stay enjoyable. We have made friends here and will miss you and the Pot Lucks every Wednesday night.


Blue Duck (Bluey) who has been sitting in the Laundry gazing out at the boats in the Marina and longing for an adventure stows away in my laundry bag........he has heard we are departing for Mexico soon!



We were boarded by the US Coast Guard as we were heading out of San Francisco towards our start line - The Golden Gate Bridge! They checked our paperwork and safety equipment. All good.


Can you see our boat?  Its under The Golden Gate Bridge - Our Start Line!   WooHoo!

We finally got our sails up.  Woohoo....sailing under the The Golden Gate Bridge....heading south to warmer weather. San Francisco to San Diego 455nm. And the cruising begins....

Catalina Harbour, Santa Catalina Island.   Approx 569nm.  We had 3 nights at sea. Calm seas, rolling swell, wind behind us. Motored a lot of the way. Now on a mooring. Departing this afternoon for San Diego.  


Click here to see Movies  "Dolphins at Catalina Island"   (or you can click on Movies in the top bar when you have finished reading so you don't lose your spot.)

San Diego. Kona Kai Marina. Approx 174nm. All good. We organised our Mexican Liability Insurance. Last chance for American shopping as our next stop is Mexico. Everything on the Baja Peninsula is imported so will be more expensive. That's if you can get it there. That's why we've been trying to get everything done in the States. Especially since our boat was made in the USA.

All was going well until we went to Customs and he asked if we had our Export Papers. Oh no! No one has asked us that before. We thought we had our paperwork all done. So now we are freaking out as the normal process is to get a Broker and it takes about 3 days. Our visa expires in 2 days. We get it done with only hours to spare.

Mexico….here we come! Hola Amigo!


© True Blue V 2016