True North Adventures

Vessel Name: True North
Vessel Make/Model: 36' Islander Freeport
Hailing Port: Newport Beach, CA
Crew: Jana and Dwight Heirendt
About:
We have had sailboats since we were high school sweet hearts! Dwight just retired and we've been upgrading our 1978 Islander Freeport for 5 years. We are so grateful God is giving us this amazing opportunity to start cruising in Mexico Nov.2017. [...]
Extra: Lord willing, during hurricane season we plan on living in our truck and camper and visiting our 8 children, 12 grandkids, and our Mothers!
13 December 2017 | La Cruz, Mexico
03 November 2017 | Isla San Martin, Baja California
03 November 2017 | Isla San Martin, Baja California
09 October 2017 | Newport Beach, CA
Recent Blog Posts
13 December 2017 | La Cruz, Mexico

"Rally or Race?"

We are anchored off La Cruz, Mexico. The quaint cobblestone streets host many little restaurants, extensions of their homes. Every night it sounds like most have live music.

03 November 2017 | Isla San Martin, Baja California

And So It Begins!

I am 8 years old. My family is camping in San Contin, Mexico, on the beach. It is so remote we only see one fisherman all week. My Dad buys 6 lobster from him for fifty cents apiece. They are delicious! My love affair with the ocean grows even deeper. I explore the lavabeds at low tide and discover a [...]

03 November 2017 | Isla San Martin, Baja California

And So It Begins!

I am 8 years old. My family is camping in San Contin, Mexico, on the beach. It is so remote we only see one fisherman all week. My Dad buys 6 lobster from him for fifty cents apiece. They are delicious! My love affair with the ocean grows even deeper. I explore the lavabeds at low tide and discover a [...]

09 October 2017 | Newport Beach, CA

The Mad Dash!

18 days and counting.

"Rally or Race?"

13 December 2017 | La Cruz, Mexico
Jana Heirendt
We are anchored off La Cruz, Mexico. The quaint cobblestone streets host many little restaurants, extensions of their homes. Every night it sounds like most have live music.
The sailing community here is well organized, hosting events which benefit the local schools. We are currently in the midst if one such event, the Banderas Bay Blast.
We've sailed boats for 50 years, but we have never raced. Our boat is a fairly heavy cruiser. When Mike pitched the event, he repeatedly clarified it was, "More like a rally, using a regatta format just to get everyone back to the party on time."
We have actually gotten to sail very little this trip. Motor sailing was necessary because of little wind. So Dwight's eyes brightened. "I think we should do this!"
"But we don't know the first thing about racing."
"But it's really just a rally...for fun!"
Since we just finished our major boat projects yesterday, and since we don't know how to relax yet, "True North" officially signed up on-line.
Our first free morning since the beginning of our cruise; What to do? "I'd love to water color, Dwight." I paint for several hours. I make lunch at 12:15. The "race" begins at 1. 12:40 we go above to pull up anchor, and my stomach clenches. I know something is terribly wrong. 22 other boats are flying around the bay, practicing their approach to the starting line. Our eyes meet; we fly into action!
"Is the anchor up yet?"
"Yes. Jana, keep into the wind so I can hoist the main." I try, but boats are everywhere, some looming right at me.
I scream, "Who has the right of way?" But immediately I realize it's a ridiculous question; we are the only sailboat under power, so they all have the right-of-way!
The VHF radio is blaring the count down. Oh no! We are in the first division to start...in 4 minutes!
"I'm coming back to unfurl the jib. Keep it into the wind." Dwight hands me the jib sheet to tail, keeping pressure on it so the sail rolls out smoothly. (3 minutes) He begins winching the sail in. The winch groans and squeeks. It takes forever!
"We really need to service those winches!" ( 1 minute)
Suddenly, we are moving. I had turn to avoid some torpedoing boats; the sails fill. We are plunging toward the start line out of control (30 seconds) while other boats are carefully positioning themselves to cross the start line at the last second. One yells at me, "What are you doing?"
"I don't know!" I scream.
"Dwight, where exactly is the starting line?" (10 seconds)
I hear Mike counting down the seconds. My heart is pounding. I am just keeping the sails full so I can avoid all these crazy boats! I am in survival mode. Miraculously we cross the starting line. It is no skill on my part. I still don't know how it happened.
"Now what heading?"
"Just follow the other boats!"
"I wrote down the lat-longs to the first mark if you can hook up the chart plotter." We hadn't even turned our instruments on yet!
We realize this is no rally. These sailors are beyond competitive.
A new wave of boats overtake us as the "Plastic Fantastic Division" started 5 minutes after us. We smile and wave. We actually make it a mile up the coast to the first mark. We pass it on our port, just right. We feel proud. There are a few boats behind us, but we are looking ahead at most of the fleet.
Ah, the downwind run. We feel excited to fly our asymmetrical spinnaker. Dwight tries to haul the sock out of the bag on the outside of the jib. It won't pull up. Darn! We'll have to roll up the jib first. We roll up the jib, and slow down to 2.5 knots without a headsail. Up it goes! "Won't be long and we'll be doing 5 knots!"
Dwight deploys it, but only half of the spinnaker comes out of the bag! We are third to last. "Something is wrong. I'll have to drop it."
I've had it! I cry "I'm a nervous wreck! My heart is pounding. I'm never doing this again!"
We watch helplessly as the second-to-last boat sails by us.
Dwight untwists the spinnaker and up it goes! We finish next to last, almost an hour behind the other boats. But we did it! Our first "race" is in the books!
The party already started at Ana Banana's as we walk in. The band is awesome and we sit with two other couples. What lovely people; so interesting you could talk to them for days. Soon two more join our table. We experience first hand the sailing community, and we feel completely included. We tell them our story. They are all racers, and just die laughing!
Mike announces the results for the Cruiser's Division, "Third Place, True North." Our table erupts into cheers! No one could heard the next winners.
We motor back to True North in our dinghy feeling as if we won it all!

And So It Begins!

03 November 2017 | Isla San Martin, Baja California
Jana Heirendt
I am 8 years old. My family is camping in San Contin, Mexico, on the beach. It is so remote we only see one fisherman all week. My Dad buys 6 lobster from him for fifty cents apiece. They are delicious! My love affair with the ocean grows even deeper. I explore the lavabeds at low tide and discover a perfectly round pool. An air bubble in the lava I think. It's completely full of gorgeous purple sea urchins! It's better than Disneyland. I visit it everyday, in awe of Gods creation. I notice an island out at sea. I wonder what it's like?

Today, 57 years later, our sailboat is swinging at anchor in the lee of that island. Isla San Martin is fascinating! Home to a tiny fishing village, the men work for a week then return home while others take their places in the rustic campsites. They eat what the ocean provides. Fernando shows us the lagoon while his friends get limpets off the rocks at low tide for dinner. He touches the sea horse tatoo on my ankle. "Es in tattoo," I explain. He is fascinated. He tries to wipe it off, then looks at his fingers for the aqua color. "Es permanente." Smiling, he tries once more to rub the color off. I don't think he's ever seen a colored tatoo before. We visit for several hours, grateful for my passable Spanish. He is a kind soul.
Fernando helps get our dinghy back into the bay. We give him a solar light and a Spanish version of Jesus Calling, a devotional we read each morning. "Para mi'?" he asks.
"Si." He smiles and holds them close. There is no electricity here. We are in another world. It is so different from where we were a week ago...


A week ago: I wake up overwhelmed. Projects array the deck of our 36' sailboat, True North. Two saws on the dock create piles of sawdust as ceiling panels find their places. Two days to go. There is so much to do! A tear entices me to cry. "Lord, I can only do one thing at a time. Please just show me the next thing."
This is how I get through my days now.
It works. We triage our already pared down list to the bare essentials. But there are so many essentials! This is life on the water.

Dwight takes out the engine alarm that never stops ringing and goes to see Jim Brown, our mechanic. (Right after Dwight retired we blew a head gasket. This dear soul taught Dwight how to rebuild the engine head. But there went most of our prep time.)

Our son Jonathan arrives to finish installing solar panels. Our grandson Noah fixes our dinghy wheels. I am beyond grateful!

Saturday morning: Nikki appears, "What can I do? I have all day." She helps me unload a shed.
Matt comes over, "Can I do the rigging?" For over an hour he dangles 50' high in a bozun's chair. It feels miraculous it's finally getting done since our rigger canceled 3 times!
Annie's on the ramp observing the beehive of activity. Of course she offers to help. I give her and Nikki my most dreaded job: trim our new mattress to fit our bunk. Meanwhile I put away the laundry I just finished, and go buy 9 jerry jugs and provisions.

When I return Annie and Nikki show me the bed. They sewed the cover closed after trimming the foam. (I love them for this! I really dislike sewing.) The bed is made and mints are on our pillows! The three of us had to try it out; we jump onto the bed, giggling and laughing.

The list shrinks as our friends work beside us. A boatride to the fuel dock is a fun way to end the day.

Dwight and I finish the sheds. We fill the dockbox with useful things we no longer need for the next occupant. We change batteries on our headlamps twice! We pile bags and boxes into the boat. Tools are everywhere. We leave it. The shower is simply amazing! We climb into our new bed. It's 2 AM.

Sunday, 5AM: it doesn't feel real. Do we really get to start cruising today? Dwight starts the engine. Sweet Pearl hears us and helps stow the last items. She holds our mooring lines as we cast off from
our dock in Newport Beach, CA. We've dreamed of this for 50 years. We are so grateful to God for giving us this gift.

As we motor through the Bay, we think of Nikki. She stopped by last night. "I just had to come to tell you what a blessed day today was." In the quiet of dawn the truth was clear; we are grateful for this boat and the opportunity to cruise, but that's not what makes us rich. Our relationships with precious friends and family, and the love of God, will always be our true riches.

And So It Begins!

03 November 2017 | Isla San Martin, Baja California
I am 8 years old. My family is camping in San Contin, Mexico, on the beach. It is so remote we only see one fisherman all week. My Dad buys 6 lobster from him for fifty cents apiece. They are delicious! My love affair with the ocean grows even deeper. I explore the lavabeds at low tide and discover a perfectly round pool. An air bubble in the lava I think. It's completely full of gorgeous purple sea urchins! It's better than Disneyland. I visit it everyday, in awe of Gods creation. I notice an island out at sea. I wonder what it's like?

Today, 57 years later, our sailboat is swinging at anchor in the lee of that island. Isla San Martin is fascinating! Home to a tiny fishing village, the men work for a week then return home while others take their places in the rustic campsites. They eat what the ocean provides. Fernando shows us the lagoon while his friends get limpets off the rocks at low tide for dinner. He touches the sea horse tatoo on my ankle. "Es in tattoo," I explain. He is fascinated. He tries to wipe it off, then looks at his fingers for the aqua color. "Es permanente." Smiling, he tries once more to rub the color off. I don't think he's ever seen a colored tatoo before. We visit for several hours, grateful for my passable Spanish. He is a kind soul.
Fernando helps get our dinghy back into the bay. We give him a solar light and a Spanish version of Jesus Calling, a devotional we read each morning. "Para mi'?" he asks.
"Si." He smiles and holds them close. There is no electricity here. We are in another world. It is so different from where we were a week ago...


A week ago: I wake up overwhelmed. Projects array the deck of our 36' sailboat, True North. Two saws on the dock create piles of sawdust as ceiling panels find their places. Two days to go. There is so much to do! A tear entices me to cry. "Lord, I can only do one thing at a time. Please just show me the next thing."
This is how I get through my days now.
It works. We triage our already pared down list to the bare essentials. But there are so many essentials! This is life on the water.

Dwight takes out the engine alarm that never stops ringing and goes to see Jim Brown, our mechanic. (Right after Dwight retired we blew a head gasket. This dear soul taught Dwight how to rebuild the engine head. But there went most of our prep time.)

Our son Jonathan arrives to finish installing solar panels. Our grandson Noah fixes our dinghy wheels. I am beyond grateful!

Saturday morning: Nikki appears, "What can I do? I have all day." She helps me unload a shed.
Matt comes over, "Can I do the rigging?" For over an hour he dangles 50' high in a bozun's chair. It feels miraculous it's finally getting done nsince our rigger canceled 3 times!
Annie's on the ramp observing the beehive of activity. Of course she offers to help. I give her and Nikki my most dreaded job: trim our new mattress to fit our bunk. Meanwhile I put away the laundry I just finished, and go buy 9 jerry jugs and provisions.

When I return Annie and Nikki show me the bed. They sewed the cover closed after trimming the foam. (I love them for this! I really dislike sewing.) The bed is made and are mints on our pillows! The three of us had to try it out; we jump onto the bed, giggling and laughing.

The list shrinks as our friends work beside us. A boatride to the fuel dock is a fun way to end the day.

Dwight and I finish the sheds. We fill the dockbox with useful things we no longer need for the next occupant. We change batteries on our headlamps twice! We pile bags and boxes into the boat. Tools are everywhere. We leave it. The shower is amazing! We climb into our new bed. It's 2 AM.

Sunday, 5AM: it doesn't feel real. Do we really get to start cruising today? Dwight starts the engine. Sweet Pearl hears us and helps stow the last items. She holds our mooring lines as we cast off from
our dock in Newport Beach. We've dreamed of this for 50 years. We are so grateful to God for giving us this gift.

As we motor through the Bay, we think of Nikki. She stopped by last night. "I just had to come to tell you what a blessed day today was." In the quiet of dawn the truth was clear; we are grateful for this boat and the opportunity to cruise, but that's not what makes us rich. Our relationships with precious friends and family, and the love of God, will always be our true riches.

The Mad Dash!

09 October 2017 | Newport Beach, CA
Jana Heirendt
18 days and counting.
We've dreamed our entire lives of cruising and we are so grateful to God for this opportunity.
We are also completely exhausted!
Our lists are shrinking as our credit card balances are growing!
Dwight is installing our 5th of 7 Bora 12 V fans right now. He will intersperse them with our new LED lighting. It looks very complicated to me, but he's as happy as can be! I just finished making bungies for all compartments that needed them. He thought it looked complicated. I was as happy as I could be! We still have rigging work, a haul out, solar, and a salt water pump to install, among other things.
"Just go!" They said. Right!
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True North's Photos -

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