We did it. We cut the docklines, backed out of the berth and left Alameda and land-life in our wake. We spent 13 years, 1 month and 9 days at Marina Village Yacht Harbor, Gate 9, Dock P, Slip 16. Funny thing is, because we lived on a boat, we were technically “homeless” the whole time. When I enrolled my son in school years ago, we were listed as “transient” because we didn’t have a permanent address. Which was true. We could have taken our home away at any time. And we finally did!
It has been a very, very, very long journey to make our dream a reality. Job lay-offs, medical issues (brain tumour, hip and shoulder surgery), family needs and Covid had us believing that it was never going to happen. And frankly, until several months before we left, we were still in denial, waiting on another squall to keep us in Alameda. Were we going to be “one of those” boaters that talks the talk but never sails the sail?
Then I pulled the trigger in July. I signed us up for the Baja Ha-Ha Fleet of 2022, gave my notice at work and planned our Bon Voyage Party. Hubby took a bit longer to leave his job. He felt a responsibility to finish a project for a company that couldn’t care less about him. He started researching and purchasing systems for our boat and soon realized that he couldn’t keep working and doing projects on the weekends and have us ready to go in time to meet our goal of leaving on Sept. 19 to leisurely cruise down the California Coast before meeting the Ha-Ha Fleet to sail to Mexico on Oct. 31. On August 1, he gave his two-week notice and retired after 34 dedicated years of service as an IBEW 595 Union Electrician. Then he promptly caught Covid (parting gift from a co-worker) and dove in headfirst to 24/7 boat work.
Sonho is a 43 years old, hand-crafted Taiwanese vessel. She is not a production boat. This means that we can’t just walk into a chandlery and buy parts or place an Amazon order, and she had NONE of the systems that modern boats now are standardly equipped with. Just about everything we needed done had to be custom made or MacGyvered. And took twice the amount of time (and money!) that we thought it would. Then there was supply chain issues and problems that needed to be addressed before moving on to the next project.
After a full-month of full-time boat work, we had barely scratched the surface. Sept. 19 was no longer a viable date to leave. So we added two weeks … Oct. 1 would be the new date and the marina already had a new berther ready to take take over P16. We gave it a valiant effort, but we were killing ourselves, bickering and exhausted trying to meet even that deadline. With huge disappointment, we did the right thing, slowed down and extended to Oct. 8. And needed one more day. So Oct. 9 it was. Exhaustion won again. We took a deep breath, finished the majority of the projects, stowed a bit more hastily than I would have liked, and got a good night’s sleep.
On Monday, October 10 (10/10/22) at 0806, we waved goodbye to my marina Bestie, Jeanine, and our dear slipmate, Claudia, threw off the docklines and I yelled, “All Clear!” one last time as we cleared the pilings of P16 and we headed out the Estuary.
A funny aside … I had always talked about “cutting” the docklines. It seemed such a fitting final action. Well, we had used the same docklines for so long, leaving them on the dock when we took the boat out, that they had become tight and weathered around the cleats. Aaron had to literally cut them to remove them! Now, we have new, soft lines stowed for dock use but we will always treasure that little piece of hardened, white rope that we kept as a memento.
What’s the big deal about living away from a dock? It’s a boat. We lived there and now we live elsewhere. Nope. It’s not that easy. It’s quite different than jumping in an RV and hitting the road and calling AAA for a flat tire or engine trouble. For one, there’s not any assistance available in the middle of the ocean unless it is for a life and death situation. Calling the US Coast Guard would be my last option, having served myself!
Our journey from Alameda to San Diego didn’t quite go as planned. But that’s how it goes with the Cruising Lifestyle. And I now have a much different story to tell than I thought I would.
As of October 22 we are berthed securely in Shelter Island, San Diego, until mid-November due to a boat issue and an ankle injury. No, we didn’t go south with the Baja Ha-Ha fleet, but the optimist in me says that if we have to take some down time, this is an absolutely lovely place to do so! I’ve finally got the time to do some writing catch up with detail of our boat prep in the next installment and then I’ll take a deep dive into our 12-day adventure/ordeal to SoCal.
Thanks for reading. But most of all, thanks to all of you that have offered prayers and encouragement in this dream journey of a lifetime. If you follow me on Facebook, you know that we’ve had some challenges that were deeply stressful and upsetting, but we are dealing with them one by one and will soon be happily on our way to Mexico.
Vivo O Sonho … Living the Dream!