Table of Contents

  1. Planning
  2. Roadtrip
    1. Passage Briefing
    2. Watch System
    3. Provisioning
  3. The O’Kelly’s
  4. Reflections


In the Arena, we talked about our pre-adventure adventure over the past few months. Saying goodbye to your current life can take an emotional toll. In time, we got over the sentimental items and physical possessions we needed to let go of. However, when it comes to relationships, the impact on everyone is still playing out.

As we mentioned in Exit Stage Left, we had a family discussion, but rather than have it in a living room, it was conducted via Facetime.

Why is that?

Our girls live with their mom in Washington state. Over the July 4th weekend, we told Emma (10) and Silvia (7) about the decision to move away and live aboard a sailboat. A few weeks later, we had a plan in place to visit them.



We decided to make the most of this roadtrip adventure. We are packing up our car with boxes of books, toys, sentimental items, car seats and anything else we can think of that the girls would need or love to have.

In our zero emissions car, we have mapped out all of the stops that would be required to recharge along the way. This adds 4 hours to the trip while at the same time saves $161 in fuel charges each way.

Day 1 Weather
Day 1 Weather

I borrowed the format from Sailing is Truth on a recent passage briefing written up by Maik Ulmschneider. Here is what we have planned so far.

Passage Briefing

Synopsis: These will be hot days driving on the freeway. The major challenge will be to keep Denise from overheating.

  • Port of Departure: Anaheim, Orange County, CA, USA
  • Port of Call: Mill Creek, Snohomish County, WA, USA
  • Distance: 1,190 miles

  • Duration: 23 hrs
  • ETD: Friday, August 21, 2020 07:00 UTC-7
  • ETA: Saturday, August 22, 2020 18:00 UTC-7

Weather: Based on the 7-day forecast for California, we expect the following conditions:

  • Sea State: N/A
  • Temperatures: H 38°C (101°F) L 16°C (61°F)
  • Tides: N/A
  • Warnings: No storm warnings in effect.
Active Wildfire Incidents
Active Wildfire Incidents


  • Watch for slow moving traffic during commute hours in/out of city centers
  • Numerous construction zones along the entire route
  • Watch for slow moving traffic and 40 mph construction speed limit
  • Check for alternative charging stations; delays due to capacity
  • High wind advisory in mountain passages
  • Traffic reduced to 2 lanes due to brush fire along route

Watch System

This is also a great opportunity to experience a watch system over a 24-hour period and help us with passage-making preparations at sea. The original plan was to transport our tuxedo kitty Xiaolong to live with the girls. To minimize his ordeal, we would push through and drive 23-hours straight, splitting up the watches as follows:

  • Watch 1: 14:00-20:00 Denise
  • Watch 2: 20:00-02:00 Andrew
  • Watch 3: 02:00-08:00 Denise
  • Watch 4: 08:00-13:00 Andrew

Historically, Andrew is a night owl and I’m an early bird. Luckily, with my erratic sleep-cycle, I don’t have to do much adjustment from my usual routine to handle the second half of a night watch. I’ll take the 2-8 a.m. watch until Andrew wakes up, assuming he is able to fall asleep in the car.

Day 2 Weather
Day 2 Weather

After a week of hand-wringing, we found another home for Xiaolong nearby with family, which was a tremendous relief. Now, that we won’t be transporting Xiaolong to Seattle, we can go at a leisurely pace and keep an eye out for the wildfires across California. The new watch system became:

  • Watch 1: 07:00-10:00 Denise (Anaheim to Buttonwillow, CA)
  • Watch 2: 10:00-13:00 Andrew (Buttonwillow to Gustine, CA)
  • Watch 3: 13:00-15:00 Denise (Gustine to Sacramento, CA)
  • Watch 4: 15:00-19:00 Andrew (Sacramento to Mt Shasta, CA)
  • Overnight in Mt Shasta
  • Watch 1: 07:00-10:00 Denise (Mt Shasta to Grants Pass, OR)
  • Watch 2: 10:00-13:00 Andrew (Grants Pass to Springfield, OR)
  • Watch 3: 13:00-15:30 Denise (Springfield to Vancouver, WA)
  • Watch 4: 15:30-18:00 Andrew (Vancouver to Mill Creek, WA)

This also has an added benefit of speeding through Oregon and Washington during a pleasant day, with highs in the mid-70’s. Finally, it gives us a bit more energy to spend with our girls once we arrive.



We are also taking this passage-making adventure one-step further. We will provision our jouney with ham & swiss on homemade herbed foccacia sandwiches, snacks and beverages rather than helping ourselves to fast-food options along the way. In fact, I loaded up some pantry items such as ingredients to make chocolate mochi so I can bake a fresh batch when we arrive in Seattle along with the girls’ favorite musubi.

Regardless, we will need to make our scheduled stops to top off our batteries for the journey. This approach will reduce the amount of interactions we might have along the way during the pandemic.

Photo by Megan O'Kelly
Photo by Megan O'Kelly

The O’Kelly’s

In one of their recent podcasts, Nick and Megan O’Kelly mentioned they would be heading to Seattle to conduct and film some boat tours. On a lark, I wrote to them to see if a meet-up would be possible. A couple days later, Nick organized a get together for Sunday in Golden Gardens Park.

Along with meeting the O’Kelly’s, we also met other cruisers (and soon to be cruisers) including Bill, Suzanne & Steven, Devin & his wife as well as Melinda & her husband.

The impetus behind the request was a chance to express our thanks in person since the O’Kelly’s really have gone out of their way to share their boating experience through YouTube videos, podcasts and books such as Get Her on Board. For people considering a voyaging lifestyle, this really helps to address worries about the unknowns. Those going through this transition face a lot of similar dynamics and processes, and it helps to learn from others as I elaborated in the story In the Arena.

2000 Valiant 50
2000 Valiant 50

In addition to meeting up with the O’Kelly’s, Andrew and I decided it would be fun to take Emma and Silvia to the marina and check out some 50’ monohulls. Our hope was to give them a sense of the size & scale of RJ Slocum. Until now, they have only experienced daysailing Catalina 22’s with a portable head and no stove. It’s no wonder they had a hard time believing that anyone would be able (let alone want) to live on a sailboat.

So we booked some appointments to check out Blue Martini, a 2000 Valiant 50’ and Rapport, a 2001 Tayana 48’ listed with Swiftsure. The girls loved rolling around in the bunk beds of the Tayana. We found it surprisingly roomier compared to the Valiant. Both were very well-maintained and whoever snaps up either one will be fortunate to cruise around in them. It was fun making an afternoon of looking at yachts and talking about RJ Slocum, followed by picking up some fresh salmon and halibut for dinner.



I suppose it’s odd to look for a silver-lining during the coronavirus pandemic. We seem to have found them everwhere, as we have taken this time to prepare for a voyaging life. This included:

If you would like to delve deeper into our adventure as it unfolds, please consider joining the Serenade Wind Crew. Our sister site provides more information on what it means to be part of the crew, unlock the pirate’s booty, and receive other exclusive access and benefits.The first 50 members have a gift waiting.