Reading Time: 6 minutes

30-weeks to minimalism launched our 5 part series on how to downsize for the rest of your life. We followed this up with how to tackle sentimental items as well as clothes figuring out a way to pack light. In part 3 of this series, we address the boat head or bathroom.

Why is it called a head?

The head aboard a boat is the bathroom. The term comes from the days of sailing ships when the place for the crew to relieve themselves was all the way forward on either side of the bowsprit, the integral part of the hull to which the figurehead was fastened.

We will do no such thing aboard RJ Slocum.

The head aboard s/v Rachel J. Slocum

Features

To the uninitiated, this photo would not trigger a second look. However when Andrew and I first looked at this photo in December and read the specs, we were impressed with the following features:

  • Dry shower – It doesn’t seem like a big deal when you’re used to it on land, however when transitioning from shore life to boat life, a wet shower signals camping (in my mind). Wet showers are common on a variety of yachts, depending on what space vs. function trade-offs were being made by the designer. For example, some may want two wet heads for redundancy or additional occupants instead of one dry head. Regardless, having a dry head (shower in a separate compartment) is a necessity for our liveaboard lifestyle.
  • Kentigern toilet – The Simpson Lawrence Kentigern toilet is considered the Rolls Royce of marine toilets. If you are considering one for yourself, unfortunately they are no longer being manufactured. However luckily for us, we can still find spares from SL Spares
  • Ventilation – We were pleased to see that there are three hatches in this space. Ventilation is important to dry out the room and to reduce mildew. At the moment, we probably won’t need to modify the ventilation

 

To the right of the instrumentation is a porthole to the shower.
  • Porthole – From inside the shower, there is a porthole facing the salon (pictured above). Perhaps this is to allow in ambient light at night. Perhaps there is another reason (oh the stories this boat could tell…) Luckily, there is a curtain that can be closed for privacy.
  • Stowage – When we saw the boat for ourselves in March, we got to see the stowage available in the medicine cabinet, below the sink, above the toilet, etc. We also discovered there is additional stowage for wine.  

Can you guess where the wine storage is? It appears we are running low…

Secret wine compartment in the shower

Adapting to voyaging life

After the closet, the next priority for the “pampered” woman is the bathroom. The storage inside the head of s/v Rachel J. Slocum provides for a limited amount of toiletries, first aid and other pharmaceutical items. Few shelves exist in the medicine cabinet, so we’ll probably have to figure out our own solution to compartmentalize and store small items.

Downsizing from our current bathroom to this one will be less problematic since we are both low maintenance. 

Last month, I met up with my friend Hasmik to buy her old Nikon camera equipment, and she reminded me just how low maintenance I was. She and I travelled on safari as well as hiked up Machu Picchu together. This was during my single years before meeting Andrew. Using herself as a comparison, where her only requirement is to apply mascara and eyeliner on each morning. she tells me,

“I thought I was low maintenance, but you define low maintenance.” 

A large part of the voyaging lifestyle is becoming acutely aware of the impact we make on the environment. Just as we wrote up in going green, we want to live making deliberate choices about what we use on our body and how washing it off will end up in the ocean. It really makes you think twice about the chemicals used in cleaning products. 

Gone are most of the items in our current medicine cabinet. What will survive are a few basic items along with first aid supplies (or as Bill’s wife charmingly coins it, “the drugs.”) Out Chasing Stars shares with us what is contained in their offshore medical kit

 

On the right page, we list the linens we would take on our voyaging life

Linens

We have a fair number of queen and full size bedding in our house. We have flannels for cooler weather and a variety of bamboo as well as high thread count cotton sheets for the rest of the year.

Cruisers recommend darker colors or sheets with patterns to hide stains. We have mostly lighter shades. The Voyager’s Handbook has a guideline as well for us to reference (e.g., 2 sets of sheets for each actively-used berth and 2 light blankets. For cooler climates, fleece blanket, half a dozen wool blankets and a comforter).

As I am taking inventory of what we have, we have more than enough, but rather than make educated guesses, we decided we would ask Bill. 

Project Slocum Update

In the process of asking Bill about linens, we found out there is another person interested in buying Rachel J. Slocum.

WTF?

The other buyer wanted to move quickly, asking Bill to meet her in Florida during the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Cruisers the world over are in lockdown. So it seems, there’s little point in rushing to get on the water. But the new buyer was selling her house and ready to go.

We had always taken a cautious approach, valuing health and safety over a transaction, even if it involved the rest of our lives. So we replied to Bill that it provided peace of mind to him, we can wire the security deposit and move forward with our deal, rather than have him worry needlessly about being pressured to make a sale, even at the cost of his own health.

So a couple weeks ago, we sent the security deposit to Bill who took the boat off the market.

How did we feel about this next step?

When he received the reply from Bill yesterday evening, Andrew smiled, pretty excited about taking this next step. In the wee hours of the morning, I woke up and read the email Andrew had forwarded from Bill, and I started to research what information we would need to complete the transaction.

The next morning, when Andrew woke up, I told him I read the email. He asked me, “How did you feel?”

I paused, and said, “Pretty good.”

“Aren’t you excited?”

“Sure, I’m excited,” I replied flatly.

Andrew raised an eyebrow.

Why the difference in reaction?

I speculate that my unchanged mood largely stems from the fact that I had mentally accepted that this was our boat. Wiring the money, finalizing the purchase agreement, and any other steps were just that: mechanical steps in a process and nothing more. In my mind, she is already ours. The steps were a mere formality. 

Andrew’s happiness over this next step, seems to stem from a subconscious belief that there are a series of go/no-go decisions. In his mind, anything could prevent his dream from becoming a reality at each of these decision points. Rather than get his hopes up about the end goal, he is more cautious. Every step becomes a celebration… or a potential devastation.

Glass half full or half empty

We mentioned this before when we first decided to sail around the world. On our whiteboard, we sketched out a plan. Over the course of a year, that whiteboard was a disappointing reminder to Andrew about the lack of progress we made. It wasn’t a disappointment to me. I looked at the whiteboard with optimism about what steps needed to be taken for us to transform our lives.

The past day is a reminder of how Andrew and I differ in our approach to the same goal. He will celebrate each positive step. I will take each step in stride as a natural course of things.

I like the fact that we are getting better at observing ourselves and our interaction. This wards off any potential for disagreement or tension.

Now, on to the next steps… to work on the purchase agreement.

 

Linens ‘n things

Back to the topic at hand, Bill replied that we were welcome to any and all linens that are currently aboard RJ Slocum. That throws another curveball into the equation, since we will now need to bring aboard what we think we will need and marry this up with what he already has and then decide which will stay and which will take a trip to the dumpster.

All in all, we decided we’ll need to revisit this when when we fly out for the marine survey and sea trial in the fall.

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Before jumping into our topic today about packing light, we wanted to highlight news about Patrick and Rebecca Childress of s/v Brick House. Their youtube channel has been an inspiration for both of us, and we were quite literally shocked to find out that they were both diagnosed with coronavirus on May 15th.

 

While Rebecca is slowly recovering aboard their boat in South Africa, Patrick was admitted into the ICU and has been on a ventilator and is experiencing kidney failure. Their insurance claim has been denied since it does not cover pandemic, so we have donated to help them out.

 

Money should be the worst and last thing anyone in this situation would need to worry about. Having Patrick come back home as soon as possible to Rebecca… that’s what is important.

 

If you would also like to help, here is the GoFundMe to support them. Thank you.

 

 

30-weeks to minimalism kicked off the first of a 5 part series on getting prepared to live on a sailboat. This begins by downsizing many of our land-based belongings. We made a yeoman’s effort earlier this year, but in this post, we take a critical eye at clothes and consider packing light.

 

This also gives us an opportunity to give you a boat tour of s/v Rachel J. Slocum. 

 

“He who would travel happily must travel light.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Business Globetrotter

In my 30’s, I caught the travel bug after my first business trip to Milan when I was working at Universal Studios. Eventually, this lead to a business development position at Technicolor, where I flew to Asia and Europe with some frequency. During the few hours I could steal way between meetings, I would visit sites profiled in Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation. Back then, packing light was desirable when I would be in a different city each night while circumnavigating the world.

Now, packing light is an imperative as we embark on our sailing adventure. 

Leisure Packing

When Andrew and I began to travel together, it didn’t take long nor did it take much discussion before we began to pack all our belongings into one bag. Yes ladies, one single bag. Shocking, I know.

Andrew usually took the lead, gathering all that would be needed on a trip.

The first of our trips was camping and hiking to a few of the highest peaks in California (San Gorgonio and San Jacinto). Because he was more familiar with the gear, he selected and packed in Tetris-like fashion everything that we needed into our packs. He would take into consideration balancing the weight in addition to the bulk of hard vs soft items. All-in-all, a thoughtful approach. 

When we went on our honeymoon for two weeks traveling throughout Japan and Taiwan, we each carried a backpack, opting to stay in AirBnB’s to do our laundry every couple of days for the few clothes we carried.

As a result, we discovered the pleasure of staying nimble so we can take impromptu excursions and side-trips. For example, just as when we were headed for Kyoto, we took a detour to hike Poet’s Mountain. There’s no way we would have done that with a roller-bag.

So with this background, we turn to packing for the rest of our life in a 50′ sailboat. 

Packing Light

How do you go about packing for the rest of your life?

We started by taking measurements of some of the interior spaces of s/v Rachel J. Slocum during our visit to Ft. Lauderdale in March. 

While Bill was taking Andrew through some of the topside features of the boat, his wife and I went down below while I recorded the measurements of each of the drawers and hanging lockers, paying attention primarily to the areas for personal items. 

Spaces in the bilge, under the settee, pantry storage, v-berth where the workshop is located – I didn’t bother measuring, since I envisioned all the spares, tools and provisions would be allocated to these spaces. 

So with these few bits of information, we could begin to formulate a plan.  

Clothes

One of the most impactful changes will be downsizing clothes for this lifestyle. In our house, our clothes currently occupy 5 closets, 4 dressers, and a linen closet. This is roughly 510 cubic feet of space.

While I easily have 2-3 times more clothes than Andrew, we both have a lot of decisions to make when it comes to preparing for this lifestyle. 

Storage Options

In the owner’s cabin of s/v Rachel J. Slocum, there is a single dresser (8 drawers), 2 hanging lockers, and 2 hatches above the bookshelves next to the bed.

Additionally, there are two other hanging lockers: one located just outside the v-berth and another next to the companion way to stow foul weather gear.

This is about 65 cubic feet of space compared to 510 cubic feet which we have in our home. This requires that we be ruthless to reduce our possessions by 85% or more.

In 30-weeks to minimalism , we talked about purging by knocking out each category one at a time. This helped to get rid of two closets worth of clothes, and I was quite proud of that effort. However when I looked at the storage options available on RJ Slocum, I knew I needed to start from zero and only take what I need and could fit aboard.

Technical Gear

Thanks to several years and thousands of dollars spent on Lululemon, we have more than enough athletic and technical clothes to choose to bring with us aboard. By technical clothes, we mean fast drying, sweat wicking, UPF, waterproof, windproof, and insulating yet breathable clothing.

We also have a variety of clothes from Arc’teryx, Ex Officio, Kit and Ace, The North Face, REI among others, If we want to remain comfortable at sea, gone are the cottons, silks, linens, leather, wool and other fabrics that will not hold up well to this lifestyle. A tropical marine environment spawns mold and mildew if you’re not careful. Additionally, salt water and sun will take their toll on everything. 

Storage Solutions

To store these clothes, we’ll use a variety of techniques that many apartment dwellers use to save on space. These include:

  • stackable hangers
  • folding the Marie Kondo way
  • vacuum bags for seasonal items

As for shoes, marine shoes, flip flops, hiking boots, etc. will be stored in plastic milk crates for ventilation at the base of the hanging lockers. Dirty laundry will also be stored in milk crates.

Foul weather gear will go in the locker closest to the companion way.

 

Notice the measurements labeled in both the hanging space as well as the drawers.

Practicum

To put this into practice, I taped off and measured 20″ of hanging locker space for myself, 12″ of foul weather gear locker space (of which I would take up half), and the precise dimensions of the 4 drawers I would take up on RJS for clothes. When I saw the amount of space I had available to me, it was sobering. For many women, it would be a shock.

Then, I referred to Beth Leonard’s The Voyager’s Handbook which detailed the number and type of items considered the minimum to pack for a tropical and temperate cruising destination (e.g., 10 t-shirts, 4 tank tops, etc.)

In other words, these all went into the “Yes” pile. What I had already pre-selected several weeks ago became the new “Maybe” pile. Any category of clothes that had not yet been screened automatically went into the “No” pile. 

All of a sudden, I was done and packing light became a reality. 

Food for Thought

When this experiment was near complete, I showed Andrew the approach and he was excited equally enthusiastic about the results. He then threw in the potential for taking more items if we were to vacuum seal some of the items from the “maybe” pile so that we wouldn’t wont for more. 

This is one of the many examples of the “battle of the givers.” I found a way to become at peace with less and he gave me a way to take more and not feel quite as much sacrifice. Rather than packing light, I would then be packing medium… at least until we arrive and assess what additional storage could really be found.

How to handle rejection

For the clothes that are in the reject pile, they can be gifted, sold or donated. Going Zero Waste provides some ideas for organizations that will take donations of unusual items such as bras, eyeglasses, cosmetics and shoes. Before tossing anything, we will also be taking advantage of TerraCycle to determine what to do with other waste streams.

 

How we selected clothes and linens for our voyaging life. 

Progress to date

as of May 18, 2020

The table details our approach: on the left is the choices we will make for clothes and on the right is for linens. Beginning with a list of all of the items and working from left to right, each item is assigned some relevance (marked in orange) for sailing in high-latitude, temperate or tropic climates. Each item is also given a minimum number or range required as per The Voyager’s Handbook. Additional clothes were itemized if they weren’t listed in the handbook (e.g., pajamas, climbing gear, vest, etc.) 

I filled out the next 2 columns based on a) items that fit in the allotted hanging locker and drawers and b) optional items I would like to take if there is more room aboard the boat. The next 2 columns were filled out by Andrew.

Andrew had a chance to tackle his closet with the same rigorous editing. Going into it, he thought it would be easy, breezy. About 30 minutes into the process, he realized this was going to be a grind. While I sat on the bed happily knitting, I would field his packing-related questions. By lunchtime, he had gone through his wardrobe and he felt good about the progress he made. While he didn’t take the final step as I did, which was to pack all of the items into a suitcase, he now has everything in order, except for shoes.

Linens was also a topic of conversation over the past week. We will provide more details on that when we discuss the Boat Head

 

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Happy Birthday Surprises

Staying at home as a result of the coronavirus pandemic makes planning a surprise for Andrew pretty darn challenging. The fact that I’m writing this story weeks in advance could tip my hand on what I have planned. If this all goes sideways, I may relegate myself to just wishing him a “happy birthday” with a double latte, as I do each morning when he first wakes up.

Andrew doesn’t ask for anything nor does he expect that I would do anything for him. He can’t stand doing anything out of a sense of obligation or reciprocity. Gifts are meant to come from the heart. And so even though he doesn’t care for birthday celebrations, he knows that I love to plan surprises. And out of his love for me, he is an enthusiastic receiver of these thoughtful gestures.

This year, I would either have to get really creative or really conniving. Otherwise, I may have to reset my own expectations to successfully pulling this off. As you can probably tell, pulling off a surprise is more for me than it is for Andrew. So, it’s time to get really conniving! 

The first surprise will come in the form of something chocolatey, for what better way to say happy birthday than with a chocolate cake?

Denise’s Ultimate Chocolate Mochi

Over the years, this dessert made quite a few appearances at family gatherings as well as office potlucks.

In our house, the pantry is always stocked with Valrohna chocolate, Mochiko rice flour, and cans of coconut milk and evaporated milk (as written up in Canned Food Recipes ). Ironically, each time when I begin to assemble the ingredients, I revisit a few different recipes because no single one of them does the trick. 

For example, one recipe from FoodGal needs to be scaled up to a full box of Mochiko rice flour, however it lacks the rise and fluffiness that I like. In another recipe from Epicurious, the result has the fluffiness, but uses 2 cans of coconut milk, and it doesn’t factor the additional liquid introduced by chocolate, etc.

To me, none of them quite nail it. Ironically each time I make this recipe, I would merge the adjustments in my head. It didn’t occur to me until now to write it down. So without further ado, I have written down the ultimate chocolate mochi recipe. 

Note: next to a few of the ingredients below, I have indicated my preference for the brands I would recommend. Not all chocolates are created equal. 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
  • 6 oz coarsely chopped dark chocolate (Valrohna 71%)
  • 1 can (14 oz) unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (Nielsen-Massey Madagascar bourbon pure vanilla bean paste)
  • 3 cups sweet rice flour (1 lb box of Mochiko)
  • 2 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup natural cocoa powder (Valrohna)
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Confectioner’s sugar for serving
  • See Chef’s notes for other additions

Directions

Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-by-13 inch baking pan (pyrex) with parchment paper. 

Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate. Add coconut milk and evaporated milk to cool down the mixture before adding eggs. Add eggs and vanilla; stir to combine.

In a separate large bowl, sift rice flour, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together. Create a cavity in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid. Stir until smooth and then pour into the prepared baking pan. 

If there is too much batter, pour remaining into cupcake pan.

Bake until the mochi top is shiny and cake passes toothpick test, roughly 1 1/2 hours. Cool cake completely in pan on a rack, about 2 hours. Cut the mochi into 24 squares before serving. 

Bake mochi cupcakes in 15 to 20 minutes, until it passes the toothpick test.

Chef’s Notes

The chocolate mochi keeps covered at room temperature for 3 days. Refrigeration will dry it out. If you want to store it for longer, place in freezer. When ready to eat, thaw at room temperature.  

If you want to level-up the tasty goodness of the chocolate mochi, feel free to add the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup of shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup rum or bourbon
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup pecans

…And certainly feel free to add them all! With the extra liquid introduced, you may need to bake 5 minutes longer. For kid-friendly version, you may want to hold back on the espresso. Its affect won’t burn off like the rum or bourbon. 

Speaking of bourbon…

 

The Andrew

As we first wrote about in the Project Slocum series , here is the story of how Andrew has a cocktail named after him.

We have spent quite a few evenings at our favorite gastropub Side Door in Corona del Mar. We love this place for a few reasons, such as:

  • it has a farm-to-table mission
  • they do not course out their dishes
  • the quality of the dishes has stayed consistently great
  • seasonal menu showcasing the freshest ingredients

It also happened to be where we were married, so we often celebrate birthdays and anniversaries here.

Within a couple weeks of our first meeting, Andrew took me to Side Door, where I was introduced to a variety of cocktails. He favored drinks profiling whiskey or bourbon, including the Whiskey River. In the pursuit of variations on a theme of this particularly tasty cocktail, Andrew asked the bartender to riff on the Whiskey River. She concocted a new drink and served it to him. When he first tasted it, his face lit up and broke into a huge smile. I’m not much of a whiskey drinker, but I enjoyed it as well.

And thus was borne, “the Andrew,” named after the cocktail inspired by SerenadeWind’s captain.

When dining in establishments is permitted once again, I highly encourage that you find your way to Side Door and order “the Andrew.” Until then, please enjoy this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz Bourbon (High West Double Rye)
  • 0.75 oz Foro Amaro
  • 0.5 oz Calisaya liqueur
  • 0.5 oz Nocino Cherry Liqueur
  • Single Ice Cube
  • Orange Twist

Early retirement = happy birthday

Earlier this year as we were planning the phases of this transition, we agreed that I would quit my job first. Because I was pinballing quite a bit about this transition, Andrew did not commit to a timeline. He wanted to be 100% focused on helping me. 

I joked to him that it would be awesome if he quit before his next birthday for the following reasons:

  • This way we have more time together
  • We can go full throttle at moving out of our house and onto a sailboat
  • It would also be so cool to say that he retired at the age of 40  

To the last point, Andrew retorted that he was never cool.

The reality is far different today than it was earlier this year, when I first pulled the trigger. Coronavirus has already taken – and will continue to take – its own toll in all sectors of the economy. Furloughs and layoffs are the reality. So, we are taking a wait-and-see approach.

Speaking of…

Wait and see

Over a month ago, I ordered a gift for Andrew from overseas. I was informed that shipping tends to be 5-14 days. It has been forever and I have no idea if this package will arrive in time. Of course, there are delays now due to coronavirus.

And so the waiting continues…

Updated May 28, 2020

Today, we received the package in the mail which was sent from Australia. We’ll describe a little more about this in our yacht club blog post, but for now here’s a preview of the gift:

We are officially yachties! 

Parting thoughts

In our relationship, we celebrate each other in little ways and often with tasty food. Andrew has commented a few times that he had no idea when we became a couple what a fatty he married. Apparently, my metabolism had him fooled. I suppose it makes perfect sense considering I was named after Dionysus .

This week to celebrate opening escrow on RJ Slocum, we ordered curbside pickup from our favorite gastropub Side Door . While it isn’t the same as when we dine in on their cozy couches, by the fireplace or outside in their patio, we had a nice picnic overlooking the ocean in Corona del Mar.

Happy birthday, baby!

 

Reading Time: 4 minutes

While we usually publish twice a week (on Mondays and Thursdays), we thought we would announce a little bit of news. For those curious, here is a Project Slocum update since our last post on April 1st.

Six weeks ago, we came back from our boat purchase trip to Ft Lauderdale and faced a go/no-go decision. Due to coronavirus and many states beginning to lock down, we and Bill mutually agreed to put the sale on hold.

So what has changed?

Last week

As we are packing up our belongings and making decisions about what to bring aboard, we asked Bill for some guidance on bedding and linens. In the process of providing feedback, he mentioned that there is another person interested in buying RJ Slocum.

WTF?

The other buyer wanted to move quickly, asking Bill to meet her in Florida during the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Cruisers the world over are in lockdown. So it seems, there’s little point in rushing to get on the water. But the new buyer was selling her house and ready to go.

We had always taken a cautious approach, valuing health and safety over a transaction. So we replied to Bill that we wanted to move forward with our deal. If it provided peace of mind to him, we can wire the security deposit rather than have him worry needlessly about being pressured to make a sale, even at the cost of his own health.

Upon reading our response about our decision and timing, Bill wrote:

 

I agree that that there’s little point in moving quickly at this point in time. I’ve been in communication with my friends overseas and most everywhere is locked down tight. Many cruisers aren’t even allowed ashore. The Caribbean is locked down. Massachusetts still hasn’t re-opened, and if you did anchor off a beach here, there’d be nothing open other than supermarkets and drug stores. So we’ll just have to wait and see how things progress.

 

But congratulations! At least you’re making the first move toward cruising. You can be absolutely sure I’ll do everything I can to make that dream come true for you.

 

Taking the plunge

When he received the reply from Bill yesterday evening, Andrew smiled, pretty excited about taking this next step. In the wee hours of the morning, I woke up and read the email Andrew had forwarded from Bill, and I started to research what information we would need to complete the transaction.

The next morning, when Andrew woke up, I told him I read the email. He asked me, “How did you feel?”

I paused, answering, “Pretty good.”

“Aren’t you excited?”

“Sure, I’m excited,” I replied flatly.

Andrew raised an eyebrow.

Why the difference in reaction?

I speculate that my unchanged mood largely stems from the fact that I had mentally accepted that this was our boat. Wiring the money, finalizing the purchase agreement, and any other steps were just that: mechanical steps in a process and nothing more. In my mind, she is already ours. The steps were a mere formality.

Andrew’s happiness over this next step seems to stem from the subconscious belief that there continued to be a series of go/no-go decisions. In his mind, anything could prevent his dream from becoming a reality. So rather than get his hopes up, he is more cautious. Every step becomes a celebration… or a potential devastation.

 

Glass half full or half empty

We mentioned this before when we first decided to sail around the world. On our whiteboard, we sketched out a plan. Over the course of a year, that whiteboard was a disappointing reminder to Andrew about the lack of progress we made. It wasn’t to me. I looked at the whiteboard with optimism about what steps needed to be taken for us to transform our lives.

The past day is a reminder of how Andrew and I differ in our approach to the same goal. He will celebrate each positive step. I will take each step in stride as a natural course of things.

I like the fact that we are getting better at observing ourselves and our interaction. This wards off any potential for disagreement or tension.

Now, on to the next steps… to work on the purchase agreement

Over the next few days…

On Friday, I drafted revisions to the purchase agreement and turned it over to Andrew for review over the weekend.

We spent Saturday in Malibu Creek State Park hiking and checking out potential routes to climb. On our way back home, we picked up some Godmother sandwiches with the works from Bay Cities Deli in Santa Monica and then had a small picnic at the beach. People seemed to be observing social distancing, so we felt safe. 

On Sunday, Andrew provided his edits and we revised the purchase agreement with his changes. This version was sent to Bill for review and comment. 

Yesterday, we scraped all our pennies together and placed our security deposit on RJ Slocum. We are officially in escrow! This marks a pivotal step in becoming a boat owner.

It’s time to celebrate!

 

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Catching Zzz’s

Since December, I have battled with fairly persistent insomnia. Falling asleep isn’t my problem. It’s staying asleep.

Usually, I will wake up in the small hours of the morning and stay awake for a few hours. If I’m lucky, I will drift back to sleep around 5 or 6 a.m. If not, I push on until the following night and crash between 9 and 10 p.m. In the past, insomnia occurred in my life when there was great upheaval.

Over the course of the past 6 months, the events which caused upheaval include:

  • Internalizing on the debate that began on the Whiteboard
  • My mind pinballing on the implications of turning my life 180 degrees
  • Post-Warner Bros. and experiencing retirement living 

Couple these factors with the coronavirus pandemic and it’s impact on our near-term sailing plans. and it’s no wonder insomnia has been an on-going battle.

Many of you may also be experiencing insomnia. Sleep has become the latest casualty of the coronavirus pandemic as reported in The Harvard Gazette.  

Short-term Goal

Even before I left Warner Bros., I had outlined my short term goal which was to focus on health and in particular being able to restore healthy sleeping patterns.

Rather than continue taking OTC’s (e.g., Benadryl and melatonin), I decided to seek help. I wanted to find a healthier and sustainable solution. As many of you who cope with insomnia know, addressing the root cause takes time. In the mean time, making little progress in dealing with stressors also can cause stress and compromise sleep.

So at the same time I am working on this, I went to see my acupuncturist, Dr. Lee

Eastern vs Western

My parents were way ahead of their time. During my childhood in the 1980’s, my parents introduced us to acupuncture among other novelties such as wheat grass juice and solar energy. 

My dad was a licensed practitioner of traditional Chinese Medicine. During his schooling, he would practice on my brother and I. We would have to make up symptoms for him to diagnose, and he would use a ballpoint pen to mark where he would place the needles. When I relayed this story to my acupuncturist, Dr. Lee laughed saying his father who is an acupuncturist in South Korea did the same thing to him as well when he was growing up.

Unfortunately, my father’s practice languished as this form of medicine wasn’t a covered benefit. Acupuncture did not make its way into the mainstream until decades later, well into the aughts. Once it became a covered benefit under Section 2706 of the Affordable Care Act (enacted in March 2010), the use and practice of acupuncture took off. 

Given this background of exploring alternative approaches to living and taking into account eastern medicine and lifestyles, I didn’t have any skepticism toward acupuncture.

We live in a plural society, and I embrace the benefits of all that it entails. 

Orange Acupuncture

For the most part, I have received acupuncture treatments primarily to boost my immune system and help me recover from the flu. Since December, Dr. Lee has been helping me out with insomnia, and at the same time, has treated me after various accidents.

It must be said that I am a clumsy person. Bruises and scrapes are fairly commonplace, and they occur for the following reasons:

  1. Active lifestyle – snowboarding, rock climbing, and sailing (boat bruises)
  2. Tunnel vision – I tend to be focused on a task at hand and unaware of my environment, thus colliding into desks, coffee tables and other hard objects.
  3. Curiosity – wide interest to try new things, most recently longboarding

1 – Active Lifestyle

At each visit, I provide him with a rundown of my sleeping pattern chronicled in my Bullet Journal. On a few occasions, I will also mention my latest injury.

Dr. Lee may be surprised that a near 50-year old woman engages in these types of activities that would cause injury, but he is also sympathetic and worried. Here is a rundown of what has happened so far this year:

The first accident came as a result of taking a whipper in the climbing gym and my spine took a blow against the harness. The second accident came from the dock debacle detailed in Project Slocum, Part 5, and while I had a few bruises and scrapes, nothing really required treatment. The third came from a longboard accident earlier this week. 

In the spirit of maintaining our social distance while still trying to stay active, Andrew and I started to longboard around our neighborhood. Five minutes into the activity, I took a hard fall and landed on my butt. Luckily, I didn’t land on my tailbone. This fall however injured my wrist and compressed my spine, which needed some acupuncture treatment. 

So, even though I am near successful in getting back to a healthy sleeping pattern, it seems my continued clumsiness may require additional visits to the acupuncturist. 

2 – Tunnel Vision

Andrew is particularly observant and noticing things around him, as well as getting a read on me and my moods. He is always on the look out for me as well when we do things. This complements my lack of awareness. Could be that I am accident-prone, space cadet or have a tendency to be utterly preoccupied in my own thoughts – no matter the reason, bumps and bruises, scrapes and falls, as well as torn ligaments are part and parcel of the life I choose to lead.  

3 – Curiosity

As a result this, Dr. Lee tells me I shouldn’t keep putting my body to the test. 

But I wonder, why not? What is life for but to live it to its fullest? I realize I am not in my teens or 20’s, however I’m certainly not being reckless. Within the confines of what is reasonable, I say “Carpe diem!”  

For fans of the movie Dead Poet’s Society, John Keating played by Robin Williams challenges his students to live life, whispering the legacy of students who came before,

“Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your life extraordinary.” 

Support Local

And so I will continue to take calculated risks so I can live a full life. In the process, I may continue to accumulate some minor injuries. It’s a small price to pay… and it could help to support local businesses too. 

From A to Z, here are the other small businesses that we are supporting:

  • Altayebat – Middle Eastern store that has the freshest butchered meat and our favorite place to source lamb, puff pastry, pistachios and brown sugar cubes
  • Cortina’s – family-owned pizza and Italian market, which has the best pizza and sandwiches for take-out. Great source for cheeses, in-house pasta and porcini mushrooms which we have ordered in bulk at cost
  • International Meat and Deli – this is a family-owned Romanian store where we stock up on our supplies of sausages, in-house smoked bacon, Borsec and Vegeta
  • Orange Acupuncture – weekly visits to treat some chronic conditions (insomnia and allergies) with occasional accidents or sports-related injuries. The latest came while learning basic martial arts when I tweaked my back while tumbling on the mat. 
  • Pollo Fresco LLC – farm fresh chicken and eggs… whenever we have a hankering to make Hainan chicken, we’ll stock up chicken from here
  • Sender One – while our climbing gym is closed during this pandemic, we continue to donate to help cover furloughed employees 
  • Zion Market – small chain of Korean grocery stores that carry marinated bulgogi, beef shorts, and chicken teriyaki. Some locations have a Paris Baguette (where I stock up on cream bread for the absolute best grilled cheese sandwich). Note, this is a great place to source wheat flour for baking when all the major supermarket chains have run out

 

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Why I knit

Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Andrew and I would hop in the car on weekends and run errands, head to the gym, shop for grocery, visit family, etc. Without fail, on each of these short outings, I would take along my current knitting project. Sometimes while I am standing in line, I will pull out my project and begin to knit. Others look at their cellphone, I knit. 

I find it incredibly soothing and therapeutic. It allows my mind to focus on a single activity and block everything else out. My breathing is relaxed and I achieve a meditative state. Climbing brings the same relaxed state as well. 

While knitting is making a comeback, many celebrities are getting into it, and the benefits are tangible, it takes a certain level of patience to slog through the repetition of movements and a certain level of tenacity to complete a project over weeks and months.

It’s not a quick hit

I am reminded of the students in my mom’s crochet class. Earlier this year, she volunteered to teach crochet to seniors for 10 weeks, and I enjoyed hearing her plans for the class, the projects and of course how her students fared. Even with crochet, arguably the simpler and more forgiving skill to learn, one or two students would continue with the project outside of class time (i.e., homework). The others would work on their projects only during class and had very little to show for at the end of each session.

It isn’t for everyone

While it used to be an activity borne out of necessity, the industrial revolution has rendered it obsolete, except for as a hobby. For me it is one that is incredibly rewarding because it provides opportunities for creativity, feeling productive and at the same time therapeutic. Turns out it also helps cognitive function, thus staving off senility.

Fiber Arts

During these first few months of retirement, I am spending more time knitting. The projects I had queued many moons ago are now being tackled. I have boxes of yarn stashed, neatly organized by project, just waiting for me to tackle and it brings me so much joy to be able to finish each project and to be able to share them with others. 

At the same time, I have so many knitted and crocheted finished objects.

40+

Hats & Toques

30+

Scarves & Cowls

10+

Sweaters & Tops

50+

Mittens, socks, etc.

Bear in mind that this is also one of the areas targeted for downsizing since they all cannot come aboard our sailboat with us. We have a plan for this, which we will reveal in the upcoming weeks. 

 

Small Pleasures

The beauty of living in the present moment is gaining awareness, both internal and external. We described some of this in our previous post Past, Present and Future. As you tune into your external senses, you begin to appreciate the subtleties picked up by your senses.

I am reminded of scenes from Amelie who exemplifies these small moments in her every day life. This is depicted in the trailer for the film (see above). 

 

Lavender and Sage

I happened to tune into the scents of lavender and sage, which is the username by which I go by on Ravelry, a community site for fiber arts, including knitting, crocheting, weaving, spinning and dying yarns. Most of my projects can be found on this site, which has tracked my activity since May, 2012. 

 

Ravelry

 

In addition to being a great resource, it is an area to organize projects, stash, needles, and patterns.  

Is it for you?

I come from a family of knitters. Both my mom and my grandmother knit. While I have been knitting on and off since the age of 11 years old, most of my recent skills have been self-taught watching youtube channels, trying out new stitches and techniques. and reading knitting blogs. It turns out you don’t need to come from a family of knitters in order to start knitting.

Just as it is with sailing. No one in Andrew’s family or my family sail. Yet here we are reading, self-teaching, and one day learning from Bill how to sail a schooner.

If you would like to get started in fiber arts, please click on the links below. I hope you find these useful.

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Free Will or Fate

How can one explain how a Romanian (who immigrated to Canada and settled in southern California) meet and marry a Taiwanese-Canadian (who spent most of her time on the East Coast and eventually moved back to the West Coast)? Is it free will or fate? We each exercised quite a bit of free will making choices during our separate lives. However fate must also be at hand to bring these two far-flung individuals together.  

While we continue to observe stay-at-home protocols in California, these past couple of days have presented a few interesting opportunities to test our relationship, and how we both view this new sailing adventure.

As we discussed before in Go with the Flow, I am a “recovering planner” learning to go with the flow. Andrew is a “recovering dreamer” learning to stay grounded. We compliment each other as we move through this transition, and it often manifests in different approaches when new opportunities present themselves. 

Here are three examples over the past few days and how we handled them:

  1. Content strategy
  2. Learning to sail a schooner
  3. Delivery opportunity

Note that our arguments are seldom heated. They are passionate, thoughtful, and always yield an encouraging resolution. 

1 – Content Strategy

Everyone and their mother seems to be jumping on the coronavirus bandwagon. By that we mean, that all the content seems to cater specifically to how they are impacted by the pandemic.

We feel it’s pandering to the audience (i.e., click-bait). As a result, we have seen a noticeable decline in the quality of content that is put out in social media, vlogs and blogs across all content categories that we follow, namely: sailing, climbing, and cooking. (I realize the irony in that sentence.)

To be sure, the audience has grown both in numbers as well as in viewing time.

  • Does serenadewind.com follow suit to try to generate a larger audience?
  • Do we subscribe to a herd mentality and try to capitalize on this trend?
  • Should we shift our strategy and try to compete in this melee?

Initial Goal

At the same time, we had already been tinkering with our content strategy. So it could be argued, why not tinker a little more?

From the start, we had our own cadence for generating content, while the publishing of the content would lag behind so we would not be a slave to the website. We will eventually be abandoning WordPress (and its internet-reliant approach) and moving toward Jekyll (an off-line approach with light connectivity requirement) to update our website.

This will be essential when connecting to the internet is expensive while we are offshore. Working on serenadewind.com v2.0 of course takes time, which is constrained by a full-time job and expertise (which Andrew has in spades).

Our initial content strategy seemed to work out well for us until current events (i.e., purchasing a boat) out-paced the publishing of such content. We thought it silly to publish posts about buying s/v Rachel J. Slocum 6 months after the event, and so we accelerated some and changed the order of other content. 

By doing so, we naturally introduced an element of timeliness to the content and tying in current events such as the coronavirus pandemic. Can that be considered pandering? Perhaps…

React to Market

As we look around at the competition for viewers and audience, we see influencers, youtubers and vloggers putting up sailing content about how they are impacted by coronavirus. The quality of their content has declined, because they have a business model predicated on subscribers and patronage on a per upload basis. It’s understandable because that is how their livelihoods have been built, but it’s also a shame. 

Luckily, we don’t have a business model to support. 

While we acknowledge the impact coronavirus has on the timing of our adventure and perhaps how it might restrict our movements when we finally begin sailing, we can still produce content with integrity.

Where’s the fight?

Andrew raised the topic of having observed all these trends, and I asked the question, “So what do you want to do about it?” He said, “Not all questions need to have an action step.” In my career as a manager of people, I am accustomed to questions and issues being raised and whenever that occurs, I immediately launch into action or asking them to propose an action step. 

That works in business. Can it work in our personal lives too?

Perhaps the broader issue is this: I tend to have an affinity for closure and he tends to be comfortable with ambiguity. Acknowledging this was the first step to settling the emotions of the discussion. 

In the end, we agreed to stay the course we laid out. We are still very much constrained by time, and so we will continue to focus on our strategy. If you have seen the movie Chasing Amy, I liken our strategy to Alyssa’s approach rather than Holden’s approach.

 

Alyssa winds up with another dart.  Holden watches. Her's always hit. His never do.

					ALYSSA
			So your new book seems to be selling 
			like mad.

					HOLDEN
			It goes back to something my 
			grandmother told me when I was a kid. 
			"Holden," she said "The big bucks are 
			in dick and fart jokes."  She was a 
			church-goer.

					ALYSSA
			Uh-oh - the cry from the heart of a 
			real artist trapped in commercial hell 
			- pitying his good fortune.  I'm sure 
			you can dry your eyes on all those fat 
			checks you rake in.

					HOLDEN
			I'm sorry - did I detect a note of 
			bitter envy in there!

					ALYSSA
			Nope.  I'm happy my stuff gets read at 
			all.  There's very little market for 
			hearts and flowers in this spandex-
			clad, big pecs, big tits, big guns 
			field.  If I sell two issues, I feel 
			like John Grisham.

 

Much like identifying a waypoint, you head on a course knowing that winds may shift and the sea states will change, but at least you know where you’re headed. 

2 – Learning to Sail a Schooner

We are pretty excited to be sailing some time later this year. Meanwhile, we keep busy with our own preparations such as:

  • downsizing our personal belongings
  • reading as much as we can about offshore sailing
  • consuming videos about the sailing life
  • talking to cruisers
  • creating and refining a budget
  • making sail plans

Even yesterday, rather than jump into our Tesla and drive to the grocery store to stock up, I strapped on a backpack and walked the couple miles to the nearest store to provision just to test out our gear. We are doing everything short of experiencing sailing or living aboard a sailboat. In many ways, we are putting the cart before the proverbial horse. We are buying a boat on the premise that once we step aboard, we’ll be able to handle her (eventually).

This is a bit counter to some cruisers who suggest you buy a “starter boat” i.e, a smaller one that you can learn the ropes on, bang around a bit, and basically get comfortable with the lifestyle. For more on this, check out Self-sufficient Sailor by Lin and Larry Pardey. Once you do that, then take on a larger more expensive boat and off you go.

Doing it the hard way

Do you remember the post about climbing until you fall ?

That leap of faith is certainly present in Andrew. For me, it’s been a slower process of letting go of mental blocks and gaining confidence. In some respects, I keep thinking I am a drogue in this relationship, holding Andrew back. He is confident, and I am conservative. 

What we realized one morning after a heated debate is something a bit more nuanced than that. While he was picking away at my fears, Andrew unearthed something I hadn’t realized… that his tendency to project positivity and confidence helps him to overcome his own fears. So what I took to be a cavalier approach from him was something entirely different underneath.

Deep down, he is just like me, and we are both quite grounded in wanting to achieve our goal at transitioning to a life as full-time cruisers. It just shows up differently.

 

Learning Together

These moments of friction really clarifies our points of view to each other. How subtle communication can be and how easily things can be misunderstood. We are now in the habit of verifying what we’ve heard as opposed to jumping to conclusions.

When you believe and trust in your partner, what may begin as conflict turns out to be an opportunity for growth and to learn more about each other. For us, this was the whole point of embarking on such an adventure. Even if (a) we never buy a boat, (b) life throws us a curveball, or (c) we end up back in our same types of jobs, we will be happier knowing that we have grown closer throughout this process.

3 – Jeanneau Delivery Opportunity

Yesterday, we came across an opportunity to get some offshore sailing experience. A delivery captain was looking for 1-2 sailors to crew a delivery from the US Virgin Islands to Annapolis, MD. They depart on April 23rd for a 10-14 day passage over 1,400 nm. 

At first blush, both Andrew and I were intrigued by the opportunity. We could learn a lot on a passage like that in a boat with comparable length as s/v Rachel J. Slocum. And since I had already quit my job and flights were fairly inexpensive these days, I could react immediately. Andrew’s situation is a bit more restricted, but he was also happy to take vacation days in order to have this experience.

When we paused and reflected a little further, we realized we still had to figure out a situation with our cats while we were gone for about 2 weeks. I’m still monitoring Oreo’s health day to day, so this wasn’t a task to drop without some consideration.

Meanwhile, both of us were itching to get some more time on the water before we moved aboard full-time, so is this the right opportunity?

Let’s sleep on it

The next morning, I mentally ran through the description of the delivery and decided it wasn’t for me for the following reasons:

  1. Their main agenda is to get a boat delivered in a certain window of time. This means motor-sailing for a significant portion of the time, and I try to avoid those situations, especially when I want to learn to sail.
  2. This boat ain’t the same as RJS. By design and construction, a Jeanneau is a fast coastal cruising, light displacement boat. She prefers lighter seas and certain points of sail. Anything outside of her wheelhouse, so to speak, and she will pound and pitch like a rocking horse, making the sailing experience altogether miserable. It’s no wonder that the delivery captain was giving preference to those who tend not to get seasick.
  3. Finally, I wouldn’t be able to have this experience with Andrew, and so what’s the point if we are not learning how we sail together.  

When I told Andrew my assessment, he agreed. And then he said that if it were him, he would be able to find value and make the most of the situation despite the points I raised. That he would get on the phone with the delivery captain and in the span of 10 minutes be able to assess whether this was worthwhile for us.

I wondered then if this meant we should re-open the discussion to seriously consider this as an opportunity. 

He said no, and that surprised me.

Digging in

He referred again to his history for exemplifying confidence to get over a mental hump. When I told him my assessment, he agreed because the arguments I gave were sound and kept him grounded. This goes back to “recovering dreamer” and his appreciation of the perspective I bring to the relationship.

Just as we decided to stay the course in our content strategy, we are staying the course on our preparations to sail and live aboard a boat.

Free Will or Fate

Which path do we choose? It seems these days we are making such momentous decisions that it is difficult to know which is the right answer. If I had been given a questionnaire one year ago asking me which of the following statements are true: 

  1. My next trip abroad will be Dusseldorf, Germany. 
  2. I will leave my job at Warner Bros.
  3. We will buy a sailboat.
  4. All of the above.
  5. None of the above.

Guaranteed, I would answer #5. No question.

Here we are today and I am answering #4. With such bold changes being made, one has to ask the question. Is this free will or fate?

Andrew reminded me of what happened in the case of our decision to go to Boot in Dusseldorf. Intrinsically, something within Andrew compelled him to say, “Let’s go to Boot.”

Instinctively, I replied, “Whoa, wait a minute…”

However, in time, I came around and opened myself to the possibility and suddenly in January 2020 we find ourselves at Boot, not only to see a lot of sailboats, but also to see an obscure brand called Sirius that was a game changer for us.

Surely the hand of fate is in play, but in these small grounded decisions, we have an opportunity to choose.

Finally, I am also reminded that every decision is not permanent. 

 

Reading Time: 6 minutes
Denise and Eric at Universal Studios Hollywood (1980)

Happy Sibling Day!

Today’s Thursday which is a good day as any for a little throw back time.

We recently celebrated National Sibling Day in the U.S. to recognize the often under-appreciated special bond of love and friendship shared between siblings.

Eric is 13 months older than me, and we’ve had our own adventures since we both left southern California and matriculated into college. It was only when – I moved back from the east coast and especially when his oldest daughter Lauren kept asking questions about me – did I spend a lot more time with his family. 

So when National Sibling Day approached, I pulled out an old photo album and picked out a charming photo of us from 1980 standing in front of a giant telephone, a prop from Universal Studios Hollywood. Luckily I still had something laying around as I hadn’t yet tackled downsizing sentimental items.

Sentimental Items

One of the toughest areas to tackle when downsizing and purging your belongings is tackling sentimental items. I thought clothes would be tough. They were a breeze compared to this.

These items include journals, photos, letters and other personal papers which capture moments in time. No one else would value them, but me. If anyone has looked back at their personal papers, you may understand this feeling of being transported as if through a time machine, into the thoughts and feelings you had at the moment pen touched paper or the shutter of a camera clicked. 

How can I casually discard this connection to the past? 

So if I use the same approach described in 30 weeks to minimalism, the haunting question I am left with is: How do these items serve me in my future? I came up with three ways:

  1. Learning tool
  2. Empathy
  3. Throw back

Learning Tool

There’s a famous longitudinal study the Harvard Study of Adult Development that tracked the lives of 724 men, year after year, asking about their work, their home life, and health status since 1938. I had read about it some years ago, and so when I came across it once again in a TED Talks video, I was fascinated to hear the results. The fourth director of the study, Robert Waldinger reports: 

The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keeps us happier and healthier. Period.

Rather than rely on my memory of events, I have documentation penned by myself at the time of the event of my own life. With less science & rigor and with simply a cohort of one, I have a longitudinal study of my own life which captured thoughts and feelings over time since the age of 13. It seems a terrible waste to discard this rich personal history without first trying to learn from it. Perhaps I can form a better understanding of myself much as a social psychologist would a patient.

As an aside, Bill’s father participated in the Harvard Study of Adult Development, and while we haven’t yet asked, we suspect Bill is participating in the Second Generation Study to provide information about aging across the lifespan. 

Empathy

After I sent Eric the picture of us for National Sibling Day, he peppered me with questions about our high school experience.

My brother is struggling with coming up with an approach to help his 15 year old daughter Lauren with getting into college. In the fall, she will be starting her junior year in high school. Should she take advanced placement courses or cool courses (e.g., dystopia in films)? Which course work will look better on her application? Naturally, she wants to take the cool courses now, but is she being shortsighted by making this choice? What can a parent advise her?

The journal I kept from my high school years gave us some insights into what is happening in the mind of a 16 year old girl. Not only did it provide me a great deal of empathy for my 16-year-old self, it provided a perspective and some guidance on what Lauren must be going through. 

From a parenting perspective, having that information brought a little more clarity to how Eric would approach these next steps. It’s hard for a parent to pull information like thoughts and feelings from a teenager. I was happy to share what I went through at the time so it might better prepare Lauren for the present day.

The Eye, Cyclops Rock (May 2019)

Throw Back

The final benefit we gleaned was reading a page out of my journal about my first rock climbing experience. I read that Scott, Kory, Eric and I along with our AP biology teacher went on a mid-week trip to Joshua tree. We stayed at Intersection Rock for two days, where our teacher showed us different knots (e.g., water knot, figure 8, double figure 8, etc.) and the various climber & belay commands. He led each of the pitches placing protection along the way, while we followed on top rope.

The kicker was finding out that we climbed Cyclops back then (pictured above). It blew my mind, and when I told Andrew about it, he was gobsmacked. The reason is this:

For his 40th birthday, Andrew and I went rock climbing in Joshua Tree. After doing a mix of face and crack climbing on “The Swift” a 5.7 multi pitch trad on Lost Horse Wall, we spent the next morning on “The Eye” a single 5.4 pitch on Cyclops Rock. According to my tick in Mountain Project, I wrote,

Lead up the gulley, ran it out 20 yards before placing the first pro when route angles to right, good holds, nice stem in parts. Need 3-4″ pro for anchor at top.

If I had never written about it or if I had thrown out the journal prematurely, I would not have made the connection. Of all the routes in Joshua Tree, we picked the same one 30 years later. 

Verdict?

If we go back to the same approach outlined in 30 weeks to minimalism, I would say these sentimental items retain some intrinsic value that will benefit me in the future. Or maybe this is just one big juicy rationalization.

 

					MICHAEL
			Don't knock rationalization; where 
			would we be without it? I don't know
                        anyone who could get through the day
                        without two or three juicy 
                        rationalizations. They're more 
                        important than sex. 

					SAM WEBER
			Oh, come on, nothing's more important 
		        than sex.  

					MICHAEL
			Oh yeah? Ever gone a week without a 
			rationalization? 

 

So, I gave myself a few days and read through a couple of journals, letters from friends and family, documents from my travels around the world and boxes of photos and photo albums.

After reading the journals, it was insightful to see my younger self throughout the years handling challenges and articulating hopes. In some cases, I did a decent job chronicling events, books I read, music I was inspired by, people I met and the circumstances in which they made an impression on me. They all shape who I am today, and I am grateful for these experiences.

In the photo albums and boxes of photos, I saw my childhood unfold. All legs and arms as a youth, athletic and still baby-faced in high school, and some unfortunate choices in hairstyle. All of these pictures pre-dated digital photos and the era of instant gratification. Since I was an editor on yearbook, I had access to some photos that didn’t make the cut. I posted a few on Facebook, which triggered the following reactions:

Annie: The hair! We had such big hair!

Grace: OMG… I love these photos! Yes, the hair!

Akemi: Oh my! I had forgotten my big 80’s permed hairdo!! Thanks for the memories.

Linda: Brings back some amazing memories.

Ellen: Love these!

In Sik: Omg. So many memories. Just glad we didn’t have social media back then.

Hans: Yearbook was the closest we got to social media haha

And so with a light heart, I am happy to let these items go.

A Pirate’s Booty

Among my personal papers and travel documents, I found a treasure!

  • 20 Pound Sterling
  • 100 Indian Rupee  
  • 3,000 Japanese Yen
  • 10,000 Chilean Peso
  • 20,000 South Korean Won
  • Red envelopes totaling USD $300

At today’s exchange rate, this is $382.41. So it turns out intrinsic value equates to monetary value. It pays to go through your papers carefully.

Reading Time: 5 minutes

“Water water everywhere. Nor any drop to drink.”

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Water water everywhere… spoken by a sailor on a becalmed ship, who is surrounded by salt water that he cannot drink.

Water Conservation

I grew up in southern California and if there is any habit that is drilled into you as a child it would be an acute awareness about conserving water. Angelinos live in a desert and yet we surround ourselves with lush gardens. Water is brought in from the mountains and somehow made incredibly affordable for us to live in this oasis. Because we are so highly dependent on water from other sources, we are careful with how much water is consumed.

This was especially the case in my family. My father was frugal and efficient. All showers can be accomplished in 5 minutes. All meals can be eaten in ten minutes or less. If you have had the opportunity to read “Cheaper by the Dozen” by Frank Gilbreth Jr., you will see a startling resemblance to my father’s ethos. 

So because of this upbringing, I am borderline hostile when I see waste and inefficiency around me. Kids these days who stand under a running shower daydreaming… the horror! Andrew knows well the stink-eye I give him when he leaves the faucet running while he’s brushing his teeth. I can understand that when you have lived in the Pacific Northwest where it rains 90% of the time, there is less diligence to water conservation. But he’s now in California. We don’t have that luxury and the stink-eye reminds him of that.

Closer to Nature

Moving aboard a sailboat will take efficiency and conservation to a whole new level. One of the features of s/v Rachel J. Slocum is a 60 gallon fresh water holding tank and a 30 gal/hour Sea Recovery hydraulic water maker. 

Now while I’ve taken a variety of efficient methods to stay clean (e.g., fast showers at home, cold showers in the Virgin Islands, sponge baths in South America, and baby wiping while camping in the wilderness), I really wanted to get a handle on what a realistic boat shower could be like. 

I decided to take a scientific approach which will require a little physics and geometry. 

Preparation

The essential tools for this experiment will require the following: 

Steps:

  1. Place plastic bag on top of drain and duct tape every side, ensuring a complete seal. 
    • If we had a bath mat, it would be ideal to place over the this seal to prevent slipping, but we’ll just have to make do.
    • If you had a drain stopper, even better and you can skip the first two steps. But we don’t, hence we had to MacGuyver the situation.
  2. Measure the length and width of the shower stall.
    • The measurement of depth will occur after the shower.
    • If you have a rounded shower, you will be doing a lot more geometry in your calculations.
    • We have both a rectangular and an oval shower to choose from, and we are opting for the one that requires less math. 
  3. Undress and step into the shower.
    • Before beginning to run the water, be sure to have someone to operate a stop watch. In this case,
    • Andrew has volunteered for this task.
  4. Turn on the water and start the timer.
  5. Then proceed with all your usual steps in your shower routine.
    • Try not to let one of the principles of quantum theory get in the way (i.e., the act of being observed affect your behavior – speeding up or slowing down – to impact the results). This is serious science, people! 
  6. When your final rinse is complete, turn off the water and stop the timer.  

Analysis

Assuming the seal is intact, you may begin analysis after dressing. If the seal is not and water begins to drain, you will have to work quickly (and nakedly) for the sake of science. 

Measure the depth of the water. Take a few readings if the shower is tapered toward the drain (e.g., at each of the corners of the rectangle and at the drain). If you want to simplify the calculation, use an average or median. If you want to make it complicated, via con Dios.

Unfortunately, the rectangular shower was sloped unevenly toward the center, so the measurement of each of the points of the rectangle and the center yielded different measurements. A simple average simply would not do. We took the complicated approach out of necessity.

Along with the length and width measurement, you can now calculate the volume of water. We had to calculate both the volume of a rectangle and an irregular triangular prism. Convert the volume to gallons (from cubic inches to gallons the multiplier is 0.004329 in/gal) and you have the total water consumed during the shower.

For the 4 minutes and 37 (and a half) seconds I was in the shower, I used up about 10.75 gallons. 

We then calculated the flow rate of gallons per minute emitted from the shower head by dividing 10.75 gallons by 4 min 37 sec. The result is about 2.3 gal/sec. Knowing this will give us some indication of how long we can stay under a running shower while daydreaming (no more than 24 minutes, apparently).

It’s the price of luxury.

Findings 

In the case of the shower in the master bathroom, the flow rate is 2.324 gal/minute. After doing all this math, we also discovered that all shower fixtures in the U.S. are legally mandated to yield a maximum output of 2.5 gal/minute at 60 psi. So we’re in the ballpark, which was nice to validate.

Of course, we don’t have the comparable flow rate for being aboard s/v Rachel J. Slocum. However, we have one more data point in our arsenal to better understand what it would be like living aboard.

Rather than sacrificing on a little bit of luxury or comfort, we are now closer to knowing what are the trade-offs when you spend an extra minute in the shower (but certainly no more than 24 minutes) or the dishes will not get done.

 

Water water everywhere

On the other hand, s/v Rachel J. Slocum also has rain water collection system via valves that can divert all the water that falls on the deck, cabin & sails to the water tank. In a sudden downpour, we could top off her tanks in 10 minutes. 

As we discover each detail about this boat, we get more and more excited about starting this adventure. For now, we are happy dreaming about it and doing our little experiments to approximate what life is like before we cast off the bowlines.

What else is there to do while you’re observing stay-at-home orders until May 15th during this pandemic?