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Swingin' on a Star
Ship's log for the circumnavigating Saint Francis 50 catamaran, "Swingin on a Star".
10/03/2006, Texas?

Wow, what a wild departure. We had so much still to do yesterday I can't believe that we actually left. I was running around the house getting things completely set for the broker and packing the truck. Meanwhile Hideko took the Audi to Pasadena to sell it and then, this was a high priority, she had to spend all of the gift certificates that she had piled up over the past year.

As she shopped she ran into an old coworker who had quit at her work to play in a band full time. He was performing right down the street! So I picked Hideko up at around 9PM from the cafe and we headed for the state line, truck packed to the roof.

We only made it to Palm Springs before we had to take a break at a road side motel. Today we have had the excitement of crossing Texas. Texas is more like a country than a state...

Digital Media - Music/Movies/Pictures
10/02/2006, Agua Dulce

We had a good collection of CDs, DVDs and pictures to pack. I spent many hours mp3ifing all of our CDs in preparation for our trip but we still wanted to bring the CDs as backup. The DVDs are just too big data-wise to go onto a hard drive (someday soon though...). We have tossed all of our CD/DVD cases and packaging to save space (hard to do on some of the special edition stuff).

During our pack session Todd stowed our CDs (music licenses now really) on wooden dowels with rubber bushings on either end. I don't know how to throw them away without either destroying them (time consuming and difficult) or having someone steal them (stealing music is a crime!). We have a lot and they're heavy. I may try to put them in storage at some point.

We put our DVDs in big Body Glove (appropriate, no?) zip up folders. We have a few tools that have been useful with the DVD collection. We use to catalog our DVDs. It is great software and now integrates with Media Center (which is nice if you keep your movies on the hard drive). If you have a lot of DVDs it lets you keep track of them and easily pick a movie that you're in the mood for.

We also have some region "management tools". All DVDs and DVD players have a region code. If the region of the DVD and the player don't match the player will not play the DVD. This includes your computer's player. The studios use this scheme to ensure DVDs are released in regions per their wishes and in some cases to manage format issues. If you think about this for a minute it doesn't make a lot of sense for folks on a cruising yacht. We purchased a universal player (does PAL/NTSC and plays all regions) which worked ok but it didn't fit in the boat's stereo cabinet.

We have switched to the computer for non region 1 (USA) stuff. The tool that de-region-ifies the DVDs on the PC is called AnyDVD and is available at They are in Antigua (to avoid the MPA no doubt). It is a great tool but you can easily see how it could be used to unscrupulous ends (stealing movies is a crime!).

Printed pictures don't stand up too well to the humid tropics. We use digital cameras nowadays but we have many old photos we don't want to part with. Thus we went on a scanning spree. It takes a while to scan a pile of photos. Once digital though we get to see them much more often (screensavers and what not) it is easy to send them to others at the drop of a hat over email, and you can use them as s digital library for web stuff and whatever. We have been scanning picture prints in as groups to save time.

If all of your media is digital you need a good backup strategy. We have an pair of external 500GB hard disks, each with a copy of all of our media and data. We plan to keep one ashore and one on the boat, swapping them every now and again.

[BeginSoapBox] Stealing digital media (be it artwork, software, movies, music, or console games) is easy but it is still a crime. Do you want artists to continue creating? I think we all do. Don't steal. [EndSoapBox]

Pablo's Mole and Final Pack Session
10/01/2006, Agua Dulce, CA

Pablo, Louise, Todd and Brooke came over on the 1st to celebrate Pablo's birthday and help us pack (how does that work?). We all had a great time and actually got the mole cooked up and finished the main packing jobs. I look forward to attending cooking school in Oaxaca to really learn how to make mole.

11/03/2006 | Pablo
íSi! Mas Mole.
Glad your diggin the fishingrod. Can't wait to see what you catch with that monster. Where's the mighty Almac (aka Frogmac) when you need him.
we miss you guys and the pic look awsome!

Pablo y Louise Ramos

11/03/2006 | Randy
I'll be happy if I catch fish as big as that lure you sent me! Can't wait to try the rod and reel out.
California Diving
09/27/2006, Catalina, CA

An LA activity that we needed to get in was a pleasure dive off of Catalina. We have done a fair amount of dive training in the Pacific here but no diving for fun (it's too cold!!). So Hideko and I bucked up and followed our friend Margaret to Catalina to get in one farewell California dive. We posed next to the Jacques Cousteau memorial plaque in the Catalina Marine Park. I dig the kelp but the thermo-cline at 40' that takes you from 70 degrees down to 59 is not so fun. It was a memorable experience and a great day trip. Probably the last time we will see a kelp forest for a while.

Enjoying LA
09/20/2006, Los Angeles, CA

As our time in the second largest city in the US grows short we have tried to soak up the LA vibe as much as possible. We have been to plays at the Downtown Music Center, the Santa Monica Pier, and most recently a Dodgers game. How LA managed to lose to the Pirates I'll never know (I hope that isn't some weird sort of symbolism). I will miss the Dodger Dogs and the Gordon Birsch garlic fries!

(go Dodgers!!)

One Year Anniversary
09/18/2006, Marakesh, CA

We've been married now for a year and it has been the best year of our lives. We got together with some of our LA friends to celebrate and reminisce about the fun we had in French Polynesia last year at this time. Marrakesh is a great place for Moroccan food on Ventura.

From left to right: TH, Em, Jaqwah, Todd, Lou, Pabs, Sanae, Hideko and Randy.

Getting Together with Friends to say: "see you soon"
09/03/2006, Agua Dulce, CA

We have really tried to spend a lot of time with friends and family over the last year. Our dearest hope is that many of our friends and relatives will come to join us for extended periods on the boat. That said, we realize that setting off on a journey around the globe will separate us from the people we love most to some degree.

Our friends Atsuko and Razmig recently returned from Sudan and while we missed them when they were gone, the amazing stories they had to tell were well worth it.

Reflecting upon this has helped us to continue to be excited about our upcoming travels even though we will miss all of our friends and family so much.


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