On September 9, 2015, something big shifted for me. That was the day that I realized that my dream of sailing to Hawaii alone would become a reality. I think most of you have read the story of the fateful conversation that re-lit that flame for me. If not, you can read it here. I have had the goal of doing this trip before my 50th birthday, and if all goes according to plan, I will be setting sail in The Singlehanded Transpac 1.5 years before that big milestone!
Since that day a couple of short months ago, it has been all-go around here. I kicked it into high gear with boat and Margie (more on what that entails later) preparations. As I have done so, I realize more each day how much needs to be done (and learned). I am so blessed to have an amazing support system, ranging from my loving family, to enthusiastic friends and blog followers to my mentors and the experts who work with me on my boat. This would be beyond daunting without them!
As I write this, my boat is pretty much torn apart. To give you an idea of the scope of the preparations I am making, here is some of what is going on so far:
The rudder is off for inspection (and as it turns out, due to moisture in the rudder and expense of a repair, I am getting a new elliptical rudder), the main hatches are being replaced, the aft cabin is open and bare, ready for all kinds of electronic installations, the most exciting of which is my new NKE autopilot. I am very grateful to my biggest supporter, my amazing Dad for this incredible addition to Haunani. This system will give me so much peace of mind, as I embark upon a season of singlehanded racing, and then of course, my big trip to Hawaii in July. NKE is an impressive company that has been manufacturing high-tech autopilots for more than 30 years. You should definitely take a look at their website to get a sense of how badass this piece of equipment really is! Jerome Sammarcelli, of SAILUTIONS in Marina Del Rey imports and expertly installs these systems and will doing so with mine soon! He has used and installed many, including on his own boats, and swears by them.
My long time friend, Thomas Lehtonen (expert marine electrician/all around boat guru/sailing badass), will also be installing an AIS (Automatic Identification System), a repeater display for my chart plotter and radar down below, a new VHF radio (with all of the latest safety features), a new stereo (because I NEED my music), and a Sirius marine weather system. Along with all of that, there will be an entire re-build of my electrical panel, and a reorganization of my chart table area. There will be more to come in phase 2 (solar panels, a hydro-generator and a wind vane/emergency rudder), but this is it for now.
As far as sails and rigging go, I purchased two new sails, that I have never had on my boat before: an asymmetrical spinnaker, and a storm jib (which will be used with a moveable baby stay). I had 2 additional reef points rigged in my main sail for a total of 3 (we rarely need more than 1 for Southern California coastal sailing). Obviously there will also be a very comprehensive safety inspection of all of my rigging as time goes on. My boat is sturdy, but she is old, and has never done any kind of offshore sailing before, so she and I are learning and growing together as we prepare!! I am involved with as much of this work as possible (at the very real risk of annoying the crap out of my team :-) ) and I am grateful to learn many new things each day.
Whew, as I read back on all of that I realize how much is already underway in a short amount of time. With the whirlwind of activity and improvements to my beloved boat, has come a certain amount of overwhelm for me personally. One of the things that stands out for me as the most important lesson stemming from this overwhelm, is the importance of being assertive and confident in all of the decision making. I know a lot more now than I did 11 years ago when I bought my 1st sailboat, and I have learned even more than that in the last 2 years of owning and sailing Haunani (both on my own and with crew). I have logged a lot of hours on this boat, and I know her very well, so this round of work on her is so much different than when I first bought her and was fixing her up. I was pretty much flying by the seat of my pants, and was much more likely to trust what someone else thought was best without thinking it through because I didn’t have the experience I have now. I tended to think that everyone else had all of the answers since they were “experts”. While on one hand that is very true and valid (I am lucky to have amazing experts to trust), I was discounting a very important expert….ME. I have a history of having a bad case of self-doubt when in the company of people who know more than I do on any given topic, and sailing has been no exception to this annoying habit. It becomes debilitating at times, and as I become a more experienced sailor embarking on more serious off-shore adventures, I am realizing how important it is for me to step up and own what I know and take charge in the decision making. This is not to say that I all of a sudden think I know everything, or that I will not rely on the expertise and experience of my mentors, but it is to say that I will be believing in and relying upon on myself MUCH more when it comes to what is best for me and my own boat. I am lucky to have people on my team that are extremely respectful of me and listen to and carefully consider my opinions, but I have to say that it has not historically been the case. This is partly I am sure, because of my own lack of confidence back then, but also because sadly, there are still those people in the sailing community who think that being a woman somehow translates into weakness or “isn’t that cute she has her own sailboat-itis". Anyway, I choose not to focus on that, but would be dishonest if I did not include that as part of my experience.
The bottom line is that Haunani is well on her way to being ready for phase one of our adventures. Our second PSSA race is on January 23rd, 2016, and by that time we will have done lots of practice sails to learn our new equipment and will be raring to get out there together!