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We left Gig Harbor, WA in 2009 and spent 3 winters in the Sea of Cortez then sailed to the Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia up to Hawaii, then to San Francisco Bay. We are once again enjoying the Sea of Cortez as we plan our next adventure.
Getting Ready to Go!
02/24/2010, Bon Voyage Vicky!

With winter passing it's time to head out in to the Sea for some more exploring. We've had a taste of what's out there on our several trips out to the nearby islands, but we've always returned to the comforts (read: showers, laundry, grocery stores, cell service, internet and shore power) of life at the dock.

This next adventure will be of much longer duration and have us traveling much farther north. We will leave on the 2nd or 3rd of March and don't plan to return to La Paz until sometime in June, when we need to be back to travel up to the Northwest for a wedding in July.

So, we're busily planning and preparing, very excited to get out there again. We won't have the large grocery stores we've come accustomed to here in La Paz, so we're doing major provisioning to sustain us for a full three months -- even though we will be able to replenish some along the way.

In addition to all the preparations for the trip, we've been spending several hours each day working on editing and revising Terry's new book -- a sequel to Rick's Place.

Monday we said goodbye to Vicky aboard Inspiration at Sea -- she's on her way to Zihautanejo and then El Salvador. She left her van here for us to use since we'll be driving it back north for her this summer. It was a great help today when we went to City Club (much like Cost Co) to do provisioning today -- and we're really excited to get to do the drive up Baja this summer!

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Just a note
11/12/2009, The Pacific Ocean

For any family and friends that haven't had success sending emails to our winlink address, please drop a note to followcetus at gmail dot com from the address you'd like us to add to our address book. Winlink won't receive mail unless the address is entered in its address book in an attempt to block spam. So if you've tried and not succeeded drop us a line and I will enter, re enter or correct your address. Thanks! Heidi

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Get Set.....
Passage food
11/03/2009, Shelter Island, San Diego

Jim and Ellen have left Ventura and should be passing by San Diego about 4 am! They'll give us a call when they're about 2 hours away and we'll slip out of the harbor to meet up with them. Now it's getting exciting!

Tomorrow's trip will only be about 12 hours, but we need to get such an early start because the sun sets so early -- about 5 pm -- and we don't want to take a chance on getting there after dark.

Most of my time today has been spent with food. First we made one last trip to the grocery store for fresh fruits, vegetables, milk and bread. Then I started preparing what we call our "passage food".

It's always nice to have a warm meal when you're out traveling so long. But it's not so nice to have to try and fix that meal on a rocking boat. So I've taken to preparing meals and wrapping them in foil then all I have to do is warm the oven and toss them in when we're ready to eat.

For breakfast I do either breakfast sandwiches on English muffins or breakfast burritos. For a dinner I'll throw some meat and veggies in foil, sometimes with potato or rice. It's always a treat to have a good meal -- with no dirty dishes to clean up!

I also will have a thermos of hot water ready that we can make cocoa or tea or a cup of soup. And our must have food on any passage is popcorn! I also baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies for the occaisional treat as we head down the Baja coast.

So now we're all set to go!

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11/03/2009 | Dave C.
Almost Southbound again, right on! Be safe and sail fast!
Leave Eve
07/23/2009, John Wayne Marina, Sequim Bay

Years ago we began calling the day before the beginning of a long passage Leave Eve.
Leave Eve is a very special day, filled with all the last minute preparations fueled by nervous energy.
Lists of things to do: Stow the dinghy, prepare easy to get to "traveling food", doing laundry (don't know when you'll get to a laundromat again!), getting out charts and setting waypoints on the chartplotter.
It's a busy, exciting day.
We plan to leave tomorrow morning for Neah Bay. We have several possible anchorages we can go into if we can't travel fast enough to make it all the way to Neah Bay, but for now the weather forecast and tide/currents seem to be favorable, so we'll just have to wait and see.
Once to Neah Bay we will wait for a good weather window to begin our trip down the coast. Right now, that looks like we'd be good to go the next day, after spending just one night there, so it's possible, if the forecast holds, we'll be starting down the Washington Coast on Saturday!
Hurray! It's Leave Eve!

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04/14/2009, links on lower right

way down on the lower right column are some new links to some fun info.
One is the latest posts on other Sailblogs -- fun to browse through.
The other is the link to the Cruising Sailor's Site Ring which gives access to many other blogs and web sites.
Lots of fun reading and good info to be found on both. Enjoy!

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I mentioned in an earlier blog that I would start the bulk of my provisioning in May, but I actually have started buying already.

In May I'll take my lists and do some major shopping, but in the meantime I am watching adds for my local stores that often have some great deals -- like buy one get one free, or 10 for $10 -- that beat the price I'd pay at Costco. A couple weeks ago the Bartell's ad featured some canned goods so I stocked up on those. They also had a variety of different cup of soups, cups of noodles and mashed potatoes that you just add hot water to -- which are great foods to have handy on a long passage when it can be hard to fix a hot meat -- so I also loaded up on those.

People always ask us, "how do you know how much ___________ to take?" And that can be anything from toothpaste to chili. Well, here's what I try to do.

Make a master list of all the non perishable products you usually buy at the grocery store, drug store or a big box store. Then for a week or two or even a month make a note of about how much of it you use (how many times do you change a roll of toilet paper in a week?).

Next plan out how long you could have to go without being able to purchase these items. With our current plans we will be leaving Gig Harbor May 31st and our first big stop will be when we spend the month of October in San Diego. So I would like to be provisioned up to last 4 months, since I will re provision in San Diego. I will, however, stock more than 4 months of something that I find a great deal on instead of waiting to buy more at a regular price.

Then I just multiply the months or weeks I'll be gone by the approximate amount I use in that time period and you have a good guess at how much you should buy.

The exception to this method of figuring out what to buy by what you typically use at home is when it comes to canned food. Most of us don't use a lot of canned food when we have such wonderful selections of fresh meats, fruits and produce at hand. But on long passages and even while traveling through many areas, fresh foods can be hard to come by. A good rule of thumb is to plan to have on hand enough canned goods to provide at least 1 full serving of protein per person per day. That can be canned tuna, chicken, roast beef, soups, stews, chili -- what ever you like. And be sure to augment that with canned fruits and vegetables to round out your meal. Hopefully, you'll find great markets and catch lots of fish to keep eating fresh, but you must have the canned goods to fill in the gaps. Plus, they are usually nice "quick to fix " meals when you're cooking in a rocking boat!

Buying all the goods is just the first step, however. Once you get it all down to the boat, where will you put it all? More on that later.........

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04/14/2009 | Tom Brown
Hi there, this is Tom and Jeanne. We met you at Dave Calhouns house this winter. Just wanted to say hello, and thanks for all the info. The blog is very fun to follow, as we are wrapping up the last of our boat jobs so we can follow you next summer.
BTW, we love those "instant" potatoes as well!!

Hope to see you on the water!!
What do you do about mail?

One of the challenges in preparing to be away from home for an extended period of time is how to handle mail and bills.

There are services set up to help with this -- some designed especially for cruisers. For a yearly fee they give you an address that you have everything go to and they hold and then repackage all your mail and send it to you when you let them know you're in a port long enough to receive it. I hear they work well.

I've always been lucky to have someone back home that was willing to do this for me. On our first cruise aboard Cassiopeia, my sister Monica took on the task so I had our mail forwarded to her and she took care of us well. She took on the task again when we set sail aboard Cetus in 1998.

This time our good friend, Liz, is going to step up to the plate! She also took care of things when we returned to Cetus in Tahiti in 2002, so she comes with experience, too. The big advantage to having her handle it is that she lives right here in Gig Harbor, so I can continue to have our mail go to our same PO Box instead of doing changes of address or forwarding mail. Thanks Liz!

The key to making it manageable for whoever is handling your affairs is to get everything as simplified as possible. Ideally you wouldn't have any bills or payments to be made while you're gone. But there are always some things that are there -- in our case it's property tax, homeowner's dues and insurance. For the most part, everything can be set up for auto deposits and auto pays so things pretty much take care of themselves, but you never know what can crop up. I'll leave several signed blank checks with her to take care of any unusual things that need attention. For some regular mail in payments that I haven't been able to set up on an auto pay (such as the property tax) and a monthly deposit to our "spending money" account I will have a file folder divided by month with envelopes addressed and stamped with the checks inside so all she'll have to do is at the beginning of the month take them out and drop them in the mail.

It's also easier now than it was when we set out on Cassiopeia 16 years ago because of the improvements in communication. Back then I could call back home to check in about once a month, at best, depending on what country we were in. Now, we are able to keep in email contact from the boat anywhere -- even in the middle of the Pacific -- through our Ham Radio. And there are internet cafes everywhere where I can take care of business just like I was back home.

I also keep two checking accounts. The main one is for all the business as usual, but the second one is the "spending money" account I mentioned earlier. In this one we'll have a preset budgeted amount deposited monthly for things like food and entertainment. It's not only a way to keep us within our budget, but it's also a security that if our cards to this account are lost or stolen only a small amount of funds will be in jeopardy.

When we get to a spot where we will be long enough to get some mail, I'll contact Liz and let her know where to send it. But I'm really looking forward to having her just deliver it in person when she and her husband Tom come to visit us along the way!

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Organizing 101

One important thing I'm working on today is typing up inventory lists.
Every cupboard, drawer or minute storage space has a name and we have a diagram of the boat that shows each location with its name.

The name consists of a letter (or letters) which indicates what room its in followed by a number or possibly another letter to indicate where in that room it's located. For example a cupboard in the Vberth would be V1 or V2. The hanging locker, or closet, in the Aft Cabin is AC (aft closet) and the space in the chart table in the Nav Station is NCT.

This enables us to make a master list of all the items we've got stowed away for future use -- so that when we need it we don't have to dig through several places as we try to remember where we put it -- we simply look at the list and go to the right spot.

Right now we're doing it for all the spare parts and basic supplies, but soon we will be doing food provisioning and it really becomes important then so you always have a running total of how many cans, boxes or jars you have of this or that -- and where they are.

That way you don't spend hours searching for a can of corn that doesn't exist -- or you don't go to the store for peanut butter when you have six jars stowed in the bilge.

When we're living aboard here at the dock, we don't worry about keeping inventory lists -- things are pretty accessible and easy to see what's here. It's just when preparing to go off on a long adventure it becomes important when you start utilizing every available space so you can take everything with you.

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04/08/2009 | Penny
Good ideas...we're planning on living aboard our Catalina 42, & this is a tip that we'll use!!


The Cetus Crew
Who: Terry & Heidi Kotas and Street Cat Rosie
Port: Gig Harbor, WA
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