Maiden Voyage Agony

It has certainly been awhile since my last writing and I want to thank everyone who participated in my last blog post of talking on the telephone and not being millennials (yes it has been that long).  A lot has happened since my last entry.  I ran my first marathon, rode my first century race, and moved to a new state, which involved quite the road trip.  Today, however, I want to talk about where I’m at now and my recent purchase of a sailboat and some of the things I experienced on my maiden voyage.

I have made it to California, a land that i was pretty oblivious to, but always had an infatuation for.  In my short time here, it seems like things are starting to line up like I have wanted them to.  I am working on projects that challenge me and I am trying to figure out how to not live a normal lifestyle.  But everything cannot be as glorious as it seems, right?  Can confirm.  

I knew going into this that I would be leaving a lot of things behind.  My friends, family, frisbee team, and a local multimodal engineering presence that I had been working on for quite some time.  I had a pretty cushy lifestyle in Dallas, as I tell new people that I meet here.  I lived in a two bedroom, two car garage townhouse with a great roommate who took out the trash way more than I ever did.  It was in the neighborhood known as Uptown which is not a  bad place to be – something I never thought I would say about the area.  At some point I had decided that if I was going to be there, I was going to make it my own and I became increasingly involved in my community and local politics.  I enjoyed meeting the people of the neighborhood and hearing their stories and passions for what they had created here.  But despite all of the amazing people around me, I knew I had to chase a dream of mine, which was to move to a place with outdoors, water, and prioritized bike lanes like nobody’s business.  I knew I wanted to experience more and that I could not accept the cushy lifestyle I had dealt myself.  So an opportunity presented itself to relocate within my company to Oakland, California.  This. Was. It.  I dove in head first and ultimately came out floating [on a boat] with my head above water.  

So I left everything behind, but actually it was not that much because I sold most of my personal belongings to prep for the smaller lifestyle I always wanted.  Back when the tiny house movement came about a few years ago, I thought it was a great idea, but it was almost nearly impossible to execute in an urban setting.  I came up with the idea that the perfect situation was to live on a sailboat because it’s a small space, you are near water, and in the right city, you can be close to the urban core.  With that goal in mind, I rented a 90 SF AirBnB for a month in downtown Oakland that shared a bathroom and kitchen with my building mates.  Within the month, I tasked myself with finding a sailboat and a liveaboard slip (which proved to be the harder of the two).  I made quite a few phone calls to marinas and got the typical response of liveaboard slips being a three to four year wait.  This was something i expected and I had a few ideas to overcome this.  I thought about living out of two different marinas, since marinas allow you to spend two to three nights per week on your boat without liveaboard status.  I would simply have two marinas, and move my boat between the two once i reached the three day limit.  Or i could live out of various AirBnB’s or my car on the off days, hopefully finding a schedule that worked and a shower with hot water.  However, I made a few more desperate phone calls and found a marina that said they had liveaboard slips.  It was perfect timing, as I was lined to buy a 39’ CAL within the next few days.  I was super ecstatic that this could work out, only to be completely disappointed the next day when I received an email from the harbormaster and, of course, there was a wait list for liveaboards.  I should have known it was too good to be true.  I transferred my AirBnB into a month-to-month lease through the building the next day and told the owner of the 39’ CAL that I would not be able to proceed with the purchase.  It felt weird to sign the lease, almost like I was giving up on my dream.

That all happened on a Thursday, and by Friday, I was ready to continue on.  I decided that if I could not live on a sailboat, I would at least have one so that I could be out on the water.  I knew I wanted one that was ready to go, and I was willing to accept one 30’ or less to help save on slip fees.  I would not be able to live on it or even be on a liveaboard waitlist, since marinas have a minimum of 36’ for liveaboard and you have to own a boat of this criteria to be on the waitlist.  I ended up finding a 1974 27’ Ericson that was turn key.  Rebuilt motor, GPS system, autopilot, and some extras like a TV and DVD player.  On Saturday, I took the BART to the end of the Bay Pointe line and rode my bike to the marina.  For the sea trial, the owner and I went out in heavy winds and I seriously thought we were going to flip over we were heeled over so far.  It was quite the first sail on what eventually became my boat.  I was going to set sail that Saturday, but unfortunately the delta tides and currents were not in my favor.  I decided to stay the night on my boat and make the journey the next day to Alameda (roughly 45 miles away).  It was a lonely night on the boat.  One would think that I would be too excited to sleep, but it was a weird feeling being out there.  I already felt defeated by not being able to sail her home that day.  I ended up watching TV and drinking whiskey like I was stuck in a hurricane.  

The next day my friend and co-worker Jared arrived and we took off around noon, when the tide had risen high enough get out of the marina.  After hitting a dock and dropping the dinghy line, causing us to turn around to retrieve it, we were ready to motor our way through the delta.  Because of the hot valley temperatures and cool bay breeze, the pressure difference results in major wind coming straight from the west.  Since we were westbound, the headwind deterred us from letting the sails out to tack endlessly through the delta.  Upon entering the channel, we were greeted by some of the sketchiest conditions I have ever been in on a boat.  We looked like a dolphin breaching through the waves, nose up, nose down, and so on.  I will be honest, I was scared.  I estimated the sail would take around 9 hours at about 5 knots per hour, so we would arrive perfectly at sunset if all went well.  Things did go fine out there, but it was just mentally draining to be constantly checking the GPS for shallow spots, correcting our course as the currents, wind, and tanker boat courses affected the boat.  We ended up finding a nice break from the heavy wind and turned slightly off and let the sails out.  We were not making great time, so we ultimately decided to continue motoring.  We were feeling good at that point because the sun was out and we just mastered a few tacks through the delta.  Things started to weigh on my mind, though, as we were running out of gas and I didn’t plan far ahead enough to put a gas station on our course.   This small blip made me rethink my entire life out there.  Why did I move across the country? What was I doing in this boat with no plan?  Was I out of my mind?  At one point, I really just wanted to go home and crawl into my bed.  My mental game was gone at that point.  I reverted back to #MindInBoat though and after many google searches, we found a gas station that was 30 minutes off course.  At this point it was about 5pm and I knew we would not be able continue on our journey since we were not even to San Francisco Bay yet (approximate halfway point).  Once we made it to Vallejo, we found out the gas pumps were only open on the weekdays.  We were officially done.  I put my boat in a vacant slip and asked some locals to let us out, since you needed an access faub to get in or out of the dock.  I would organize everything with the marina the next day since they were not open either.  We Lyfted back to the Richmond BART station and headed home via public transportation.  

Once I made it home, I wanted to do something to get my mental game back, but could not pull myself together enough to do so.  I ended up eating alone and reflected on Part 1 of the journey.


Follow along on Instagram! @EscapingTraffic


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