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If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much space - Author Unknown

It all started when Rene and I made the decision to see all of what the world had to offer.  Rene had a co-worker that had backpacked across Europe and had shared the wonderful time he had with her.  Rene got very excited and we started discussing how we could take some time off and do the same.  She wanted to see Paris, ride the train, stay in hostels and enjoy the trip as she had experienced through her co-worker.  But discussing it, we quickly realized that the 2 weeks of vacation she received a year just wouldn’t do.  We both decided that we wanted to truly ‘experience’ the different cultures around the world.  How about we take 6 months off?  A year?  Rene could quit her job and come back and find another one, no problem.  The problem lied in that with my Real Estate business, I just could not take off for any amount of time and come back to where I left off.  We couldn’t do it unless we did something drastic. 

So, we began discussing how we could do it, and what vehicle we could do it in.  In the U.S., we could RV across, but how could we see other countries?  Backpack?  We still had to get there somehow.  Bicycle?  Nah…  Finally, we decided we could SAIL around the world.  After all, it wasn’t such a bizarre thing – there were several books out on couples who have completed circumnavigations and we already had a sailboat – why not?  So, we came up with our 5 year plan.  It was the year 2000 and we decided we would work very hard over the next five years, make specific goals, buy a sailboat we could travel the world on and prepare for a 2005 departure.  Our plan was to prepare for a 10 to 12 year circumnavigation to begin at the end of 2005.  As you can see, that didn't exactly happen as expected, and our 5 year plan became a 7 year plan, but following is our journey to where we are now....we left in December 2007 headed down the Mexico coast.

Check out the following pages to see how we’re coming along, what we’ve gone through to get here, and once we’re gone, follow us along on our journey.  We’d love to hear from you – e-mail us at:  Sailing@aheakali.com.

This update comes in early 2008.  It has it been a fun couple of years, a few frustrating years, but we're ready!  The years of planning can be boiled down to these subjects:

 -         Financing the trip

-         Downsizing

-         Choosing the boat

-         Getting the boat home

-         Fixing up the boat

-         Get more Marine/Boat knowledge

-         Detour – Michael called up to Active Duty

-     Selling the business...

-     Heading out in 2005 & coming back

-     The business sells!  Leaving in 2007

  Let’s face it – this whole trip would never be possible if it weren’t for the hard work of Michael.  Michael has always been the dreamer – and me the grounded one.  He’s the risk-taker, and I’m the cautious one.  I guess that’s what makes us so good together.  He makes me strive for my dreams, and I make him think before he takes a plunge.  Well, his Real Estate career certainly made this trip possible.  He has always been a hard worker, and this was no different, although I’ll bet if you ask him, his real estate career has almost killed him at times.  In the last 7 years, he has had a very successful Real Estate career, has purchased 4 homes, remodeled 2 of them, tore down and totally rebuilt one, moved from a real estate career to owning & running a retail Marine Hardware Store, Coast Chandlery, and finally has re-built the boat to be our floating home now.  His attention to detail, desire, and drive is what has gotten us to where we are today. 

We made most of the money we're using by his Real Estate earnings.  We started by purchasing residential income properties in Ventura, moving on to a HUD home in OakView, California on Prospect street.  We joke about our ‘circus’ house because in the first week after purchasing the home, we had a bright blue tarp over the garage (because you could see daylight through the slats), a bright green dumpster in the driveway, and a bright yellow port-a-potti in the driveway as we decided to remodel the bathroom and it wasn’t quite done before we moved in.  Eventually, it was all fixed up and we put it up for sale.  

Once that house was remodeled, Michael talked me into purchasing another house, just down the street that was on a quarter acre and had a cute creek that ran through the base of the property, with big oak trees on it.  The house was miserable, but we could do a remodel and turn it for a profit.  One quick remodel turned into an entire 2 year teardown and rebuild.  This house was beautiful when it was finished – 3 bedroom, 2 bath, spectacular kitchen, fireplace, deck, everything you would ever want.  We had such a great time here too.  Lots of fun parties, it was the total party house – after the party, you just turned on the leaf blower and blew everything out!  Haha….  It had a great deck with a hot tub that overlooked the creek and trees – it was spectacular.  Michael had taken 6 months off of work to do it, and it was wonderful.  Again, we had some fun times – living in the home while it was being built around us.  As soon as it was completed, we put it up for sale and boom, in the first week on the market, it was sold.  All a part of the plan.  The below pictures were some we took before it sold.  Click on the thumbnail to see a larger picture below.

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Front Entrance

With that house sold, it was time to start downsizing.  Since we still didn't have the boat yet, we began looking for something smaller to move into.  We wanted to move close to the harbor, but the prices down there were scary!  We kept our eyes peeled and found an apartment complex that was renovating and turning into condos – perfect!  We sold our wonderful 3 bedroom/2 bath house in OakView and purchased two 700 sq foot condos in Channel Islands.  We rented out one of them, and Michael began remodeling the other one.  Again, Michael did a ton of work on the place, totally remodeling it.  We lived there 2 years and put that one up for sale too.  With both of them gone, it was time to move onto the boat!

  This is the view from our condo - not too shabby!This is the layout of the rental condo we owned.

Choosing the boat was a tough one.  We were looking for a boat with some very specific items:

-         No more than 50’ as we wanted to be able to handle the boat just the two of us...we didn't want to depend on crew on our trip

-         An ocean cruiser, heavy duty boat, not too light

-         Aft Cabin

-         Center Cockpit

And of course, it had to be in our price range.  We spent hours, days, months looking for the perfect boat.  We traveled all over – Santa Barbara, Ventura, Channel Islands, San Diego, Long Beach, San Francisco, nothing struck our fancy.  Michael found one he really liked in our price range, but it was located in Panama and when we figured in the cost to get it here, it was outside of our price range.  Then, on a whim, Rene checked out Ebay and there was a beautiful boat – a 47’ Perry Ketch up in Alameda.  We went up there and checked it out, had a survey done, and found a bulkhead issue so we decided to exit the contract.  We tried again, down to Mission Bay one last time.  Nope, the “Cruise-ready” boat still wasn’t what we wanted.  Finally, after a long, disappointing day, we came home and Michael said he “quit”.  I told him to look one more time for anything new on the websites.  Lo and behold, the same boat in Panama that Michael liked so much was reduced in price to 59K – almost a third of the price of the same boat in this area.  Surely it was mis-priced we thought.  So Michael called the broker the next morning and found it truly was the price and was listed as ‘first-come-first-served’.  Well, needless to say, he pounced on it and had a flight booked down to Panama in the next couple days. 

 His first trip down was July ’02.  He LOVED it.  He took lots of pictures and couldn’t stop talking about it!  “It was the most beautiful boat in the yard”, he still says to this day.  At that time, her name was “Beluga I” and she had been on the hard for approx 5 years.  We learned some history about her:

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She is a 45' Fuji ketch rigged sailboat.  With the additions of the bowsprit & the dinghy davits, she's stretched to 54' on deck. 

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She was built in 1975 in Japan

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She was commissioned in San Diego, California in 1975.

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She had it looked like 2 owners before it was taken out of U.S. Coast Guard Registration and was taken to the Grenadines to be used as a charter boat.

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Approx 6-7 years before we bought it, the attorney who owned it was heading North towards Costa Rica when he sucked water into the engine and killed the engine.  Due to financial problems, he all but abandoned the boat.

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It was taken from Balboa Yacht Club outside the canal, into Pedro Miguel Boat Club where it was taken out of the water and put on the hard.

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That’s when a Dutchman named Dieter bought it and began refitting her in preparation for his extensive sailing.  Then, a year or so before we bought it, Dieter had an accident and suffered severe head trauma.  He lost his desire to complete the re-fit, and let her sit again.

Then, Michael saw her and fell head over heels for her.  Now it was time to get her home.

Ultimately, Michael went down to Panama 4 times before the trek home.  The first trip to check out the boat for the sale, the second trip to begin gathering all of the pieces together, making lists of items needed, and arranging work on the boat while he was gone.  The 3rd trip, he took a very good friend, John Pfarr, along and the two of them started putting all of the pieces together.  On this trip, the two of them worked on the details of the boat.  Finally, on the last trip, Michael & John put the boat in the water and prepared for their trip through the locks of the Panama Canal, and the long trip home.  

The boat was located at the Pedro Miguel Boat Club, which is in-between the Pedro Miguel and Miraflores lock of the Panama Canal.  Check out this link to see how the Canal works and where specifically they were located. 

They left on a Friday to go through the locks.  Michel had warned me they had a 8am reservation to go through the locks, so if I was lucky, I could get a glimpse of them on the webcam on the Panama Canal site.  8am was 6am Pacific time, so I was up and on my way to work at about 5:30 when I got a cell phone call from Michael telling me he was leaving right then.  I told him to WAIT!!  I had to get to work before he could leave!  I sped to work and rushed to turn on a computer to watch.  I saw a HUGE freighter going through the lock when I finally brought up the site.  I was bummed, thinking that I missed it.  But I kept watching and after the freighter finished going through, off in the very far distance I saw a teeny-tiny little thing moving toward the lock.  Surprisingly, it was them.  I can't tell you the feeling watching this little bitty boat (compared to the freighter that just went through) coming towards the lock.  I began to take screen shots and downloading them onto my computer.  By this time, my co-workers were starting to arrive and my office mate started putting the pictures together on his computer.  I sat stunned watching the little boat go into the first lock, and seeing it move along.  The webcam was trained on a specific spot in the lock, however, there was a link on the website that you could e-mail the webmaster and if resources were available, they would move the webcam.  So I e-mailed them and told them my husband and new boat were going through the lock and could they please, please follow them through.  Within moments, the webcam was focused on the little boat, even zooming in for super close shots and followed them through the next lock and out of the canal.  It was spectacular, so exciting.  Check out the Canal now....

I learned later that it was incredibly rare for them to allow a single boat into the locks by itself.  They typically schedule all North-bound traffic for the morning, and South-bound traffic for the afternoon.  But since they were all ready, they allowed this 45' sailboat to go through the lock itself.  The pilot that Michael hired to help them through the locks even made a comment of "who did he know" to allow this!  They didn't hear any complaints from us!

Now that they were on the Pacific side of the canal, Michael & John made plans to get any final arrangements and would leave the following morning to head home.  The next morning, however, when they left the Balboa Yacht Club, the storm clouds followed them and caught up with them and then a lightening bolt struck right next to the boat.  Right after that, the injectors started leaking sending Diesel fuel all over the engine room.  They decided that was too much of a sign and turned around to spend one more night and fix the leaks.

The next morning when they left, they had a rainbow and decided that was much better.  They sailed for the next couple of days until reaching Flamingo, Costa Rica.  While in Panama, they had some difficulty with the starter on the engine, but had it re-coiled and expected to make it back to the states  While in Costa Rica, however, the starter failed again and they were forced to try again to get it re-built.  Meanwhile, Michael had Rene begin searching for a replacement.  In town, Michael & John worked with the locals to find someone to replace it.  They left it at a machine shop and were told to come back the next day.  The next day, however, it still didn't work.  They spent the weekend in Flamingo hanging out on the beautiful beaches with their new friends and called Rene to arrange travel back home as the boat wasn't going anywhere without a starter.  Rene was struggling to find a replacement as it was nearly impossible to find this specific starter - an old Lucas with a very specific bolt pattern..  What she learned extremely fast and with much difficulty was that the Westerbeke engine that was on the boat didn't have Westerbeke peripherals, something she was completely unfamiliar with.  If you know her, you know she has a tiny little voice and everyone she was calling was big, manly men in engine service shops!  It was an unusual bolt pattern and everyone kept trying to send her the one for the Perkins motor, with a different bolt pattern.  They weren't the nicest of folks, but luckily she found one nice soul in Florida who helped her out significantly, even sending her photos of the starter to compare it with the photos Michael had sent.  Michael & John came home on Monday and after tons of calls and searching, Rene finally found a replacement.  Michel brought home old starter and sketched the bolt pattern to ensure a correct fit.  The replacement starter was shipped out and Michael & John relaxed awaiting their return.  Once the replacement was received, they scheduled the next trip to Costa Rica. 

They headed back to Costa Rica, installed the new starter, and prepared for the next leg of the trip.  Shoving off the next day, they were excited to get home.  As they were preparing to leave Coast Rica, they anchored in the lagoon and went ashore for the last minute amenities.  Michael was making a phone call to Rene when John came by and said "Mike, we gotta GO!", Michael tried to explain he just needed to make a quick phone call, but was interrupted again with "We gotta GO!"  He looked out at the boat as John was running down the beach and saw that a wind had come up and Ahea Kali was sailing out of the harbor....with no one on board!  Apparently they had anchored on a shelf and when the wind came up, the anchor fell off of the shelf and the boat was on the move.  They both were running down the beach to the dinghy, when John decided to just swim for it.  He jumped into the water and started to swim for the boat.  Michael went and jumped in the dinghy.  Now this was before a new dinghy with an engine....the old dinghy was a well beat up one with the floor half fallen out.  To get ashore, they both had to put their knees on the pontoons and paddle.  So Michael jumped in the dinghy, straddled the pontoons, and started to paddle to the boat.  He was doing good until the wind piped up again and blew him off course.  So he placed the backpack in the only semi-dry part of the dinghy and jumped in, putting the painter in his mouth and started to swim also, dragging the dinghy behind him.  John got to the boat first and fired it up, Michael was just behind and was exhausted.  They got the boat under control and thank goodness, it didn't hit anything coasting through the harbor!  They re-anchored the boat & a neighboring boat came over to make sure they were OK and see if they needed any help.  Michael gladly accepted a ride in his dinghy back into town for the phone call.  When Michael told Rene what had happened, she was laughing so hard, she could barely breathe, but for some reason, Michael wasn't laughing at all!  Rene remarked "It's still too early for laughter, isn't it?!"

The next part differs from Michael & Rene.  Rene remembers this....Michael called every 2-3 days or so letting her know what they were doing, and when to expect to hear from them next.  So he had called a day or so before and I expected not to hear from them for another couple days.  But on Friday night around 10:30pm, I received a phone call from Michael.  It was a very scratchy connection and I couldn't hear him very well, but I heard "Don't be scared", "Take down these coordinates and call the Coast Guard", "We're OK but have lost steering on the boat", "The front of the boat has been ripped off", etc.  I jotted down all of the coordinates and called the U.S. Coast Guard, giving them the coordinates and relaying the information.  They kept asking me lots of questions I didn't know the answer to - the ages of who was aboard, if there was an EPIRB (Emergency Positioning Radio Beacon), etc.  I told them as much as I knew and that the next time I spoke to Michael, I'd ask and would let them know.  I remember vividly that waiting for Michael to call back was torture.  But he did and I got a bunch more information from him to tell to the Coast Guard.  After speaking to Michael, I called the Coast Guard back to relay the info.  The Coast Guard explained that they had contacted the Mexican Navy and they would be sending a rescue boat and would call me back to let me know any status.  During the next several hours, I was either in communication with Michael or the Coast Guard about once an hour.  I was so amazed at the U.S. Coast Guard, and most specifically the person who took my call was able to calm me down and called me on the hour, every hour until they were found. 

It turns out that much of the information I gave to the Coast Guard was incorrect - I was calling the boat "Island Trader" as that was the name of the boat as far as I knew it.  I also said there was no EPIRB on the boat as I didn't know John had taken one, just in case, and had activated it.  When I was called by the Coast Guard and they explained that they had seen the EPIRB signal, and had found the boat and was towing it back in - except the boat they were towing was named "Quuipo" - I told them to KEEP LOOKING!  They had the wrong boat!  It was just after that phone call that I received another one from Michael again saying they had just pulled into the harbor and had the Mexican Navy Federalies boarding the boat for inspection and can he call me back.  It was just after 4am.  Once he called me back, his comment was "Maybe we can just buy an RV and travel the states".  We still laugh about this comment to this day.

Well, what happened was that it was about 10pm, and they were located in the Tehanupecs.  The winds were howling and the swells were big as well.  Michael says he heard a large POP and RIP.  He went forward to check out what had happened and said the whole front of the boat was ripped off!  A piece of hardware, the turnbuckle on the bobstay had failed.  The bobstay helps hold the bow sprit down as the opposing force is the forestay that holds the mast in place.  So when it broke, and the Jib was out full of wind, there was no opposing force and the bow pulpit was ripped off of the front of the boat and was hanging on the port side of the boat by the forestay.  Michael & John secured the bow pulpit so it wasn't banging on the side of the hull, threatening to hole the boat and then they heard a clink, clink....  Michael realized the chain from the anchor was slowly being released into the ocean as the anchor was attached to the bow pulpit.  At the same time, they lost steering.  They realized that the anchor & chain had gone under the boat and had fouled the rudder.  Then they realized they were in trouble.  The rule for cruising through the Tehanupecs is to either keep 'one foot on the beach or 100 miles offshore' and they were close to shore, but were being pushed off shore with no rudder.  They tried hailing someone on the radio, no response.  They tried everything they could and then by luck, pulled out the cell phone to check for signal - and they got it!  That's when they got a hold of me.  They were contacted by the Coast Guard a couple of times via his cell phone and were finally visited by he Mexican Navy.  The Mexican Navy sent a small boat out to them and when they arrived, they did not have a 'monkey ball' line to throw them (a smaller line that is attached to a much larger line that can get to the boat with no problem).....so they just had to get close!  In the big seas, they would come up on a wave and the other boat would come back down.  Then...bam.  They hit, got the lines to each other and were tied up.  Michael realized the next day that that little bam actually put a hole in the boat, about a quarter size, right at the waterline.

They were towed back into the winds, waves, & swells at about 7 knots.  Michael says it was the worst ride of his life - he was sure if the masts didn't come down as a result of the bow pulpit coming off....the trip back certainly would!  The masts were flexing so badly that the backstay on the main mast wrapped itself around the radar on the mizzen mast!  They were towed into Salina Cruz Mexico, a small commercial oil port.  They were tied up to a pier that was way too tall for them, that was oozing oil onto them.  They were tied up but bouncing all over the place...and the black tires they were tied up to were scarring up the beautiful boat! 

They hired a local craftsman to fix the bow pulpit and they flew home.  When they returned the patchwork was satisfactory, although not perfect, but it would get them home again.  They continued to bash up the coast and finally pulled into Channel Islands Harbor in February 2003.  She was certainly beat up, but still a beauty.  Then the fun began!!  It was time to put the boat in the yard and start fixing her up! 

We put the boat in the yard in March 2003 and about 6 months later, finally floated her again.  While it was in the yard, we decided to replace the engine with a brand new one.  We had an old Westerbeke and replaced it with a 75 HP Yanmar turbo engine.  We decided to go with a Yanmar as it will be easy to find parts in remote locations!  We also tore the repaired bow sprit back off and repaired it properly with two 12' sections pieces of burmese teak ($1100 of wood!).  We added a ton of new items - all new wiring, washer/dryer, new standing & running rigging, we rebuilt the refrigerator & freezer, installed a ton of items, and basically rebuilt the boat from the ground up.  There was nothing that wasn't touched, cleaned, replaced, or added.  Lets see if I can name a bunch of stuff that was done...

bulletNew 75hp Yahmar Diesel Engine
bulletAll new Standing & Running Rigging
bulletRefrigerator & Freezer rebuilt, new compressors (separate compressor for each) & lines.  The refrigerator has one large Cold Plate, the freezer has 3 smaller ones.  The cold plate keeps everything nice and cold.
bulletWasher & Dryer - a Splendide - kind of like an apartment sized one.  It's a washer & dryer in one.  It washes, then heats up the drum & it dries the clothes with moist heat.
bulletNew, full set of sails from Tony at Morelli Sails
bulletCanvas sailcovers, bimini, dodger, & cockpit cushions
bulletNew APEX 11' Lite RIB (rigid inflatable boat) Dinghy (only 88lbs) & 9hp Yamaha motor
bulletKyocera KC 80 Solar Panels (2) - giving us approx 9v an hour of electricity
bulletSpectra Cape Horn Watermaker - has 2 pumps for redundancy & maximum output at 16 gal/hr
bulletNew electronics:
bullet    Standard Horizon Marine VHF with handheld mic for the cockpit
bullet    ICOM M-802 SSB & 2 little M-88 waterproof handheld VHF radios
bullet    Garmin 2010C GPS & Chartplotter
bullet    NX2 Gauges & Autopilot
bulletShuttle computer with large screen TV/monitor, DVD recorder w/VHS player, printer/copier
bulletPactor 3 modem which allows us to use our SSB/Ham Radio license to send/receive emails
bulletHot Water Heater
bulletInverters & Sine Wave Converter for electronics
bulletGenerator
bulletLiferaft & EPIRB
bulletPrincess Stove/Oven
bulletPortable ice maker (very important in Mexico!)
bulletOne manual head, one electric head w/macerator
bulletDeck washdown pump
bulletTwo anchors - a Bruce & a Delta with 300' of chain & 300' of rode.
bulletDinghy Davits, Surfboard rack, & Solar Panel Holders

Michael had taken on a part time job with West Marine, a huge Marine retailer, as an assistant manager and was learning a ton of the Marine hardware business (and getting parts for the boat at a very discounted price!).  But he had another opportunity to purchase a local mom-and-pop Marine hardware store, Coast Chandlery in Channel Islands Harbor, California, and decided to take it.  The ultimate plan was always for Michael to take off a year before we were scheduled to leave and work in a boatyard or marine store to gain more boating knowledge, so this sounded like a PERFECT idea!  And the buyer was ready to sell.  We purchased the store in June 2003.  Michael worked there full time and I worked there on weekends, mostly doing the bookkeeping & putting my two cents in on how the store should be setup.

Now if you know Michael, you know he just can't keep status quo on anything he does....so we expanded the business!!  About a year after purchasing the business, he expanded the business and added an upstairs to bring back the old "Smuggler's Cove" a soft-goods side of the business and "Smuggler's Network", an internet cafe.  He was building the business, we had some wonderful managers hired to work with him and it was going well!  Then, Uncle Sam decided to throw a monkey wrench in on the plans....he was called up and ordered to serve....only 9 days before his ETS (expiration of term of service).  The letter came in July 2004 and he was scheduled to ship off in September.

This called for some quick adjustments!  We had just put the condo up for sale, and had a buyer so guess what?!  It was time to move onto the boat!!  Although earlier than expected.  So Michael worked very hard to hook up the propane & get the oven up and running.  He moved Rene & Casey (our deaf & blind dog) onto the boat and most everything else was either sold, given away, or moved into storage.  I'll never forget the day Michael was leaving - it was super early and we had been successfully living on the boat for about a week and a half.  We had a wonderful going away party for Michael with many from the community & real estate community coming over to wish him good luck.  I'll never forget the day...Michael was up in the showers & Casey & I was headed off to go for a walk.  He jumped off the boat, it was pitch black, and just walked right off of the dock....into the water!!  Oh GREAT!  I was able to pull him out of the water with his collar & the scruff of his back and I was rinsing him off with fresh water when Michael came back down the docks.  Yes, of course dear, I can take care of everything!  I was petrified, but was certain I could handle the task at hand.  He attached to the 176the Transportation Company and was shipped off to Fresno, California and was there for about 3 weeks and then was shipped to Fort Lewis, Washington.  He was processing through preparing to be shipped to Iraq when the Army doctor got a hold of his civilian MRI's, which showed significant problems with his back.  He was scheduled to be sent over as a truck driver, a specialty he gained from civilian acquired skills.  The Army doctor looked at him and said "Why are you here?", Michael replied "I was ordered to be here", and the Dr. said "Well, now I'm ordering you home".  He certainly didn't argue and was on a plane home the next day. 

At home, Rene was dealing with separation anxiety from not only Michael, but her boat neighbors, fellow cruisers Scott & Liz aboard Ocean Lady.  Scott & Liz took off about a week after Michael was shipped off for their cruise down through Central America.  The ultimate plan was that we would be about 1 year behind them.  They headed down to San Diego to attend a Ham radio license class put on by Gordon West and Rene joined them.  All three of them passed their General Exam - even passing the morse code requirement!  Rene is KG6WMF.  We'll use the Ham license with our Pactor modem to send & receive text only e-mails during our cruise.  Not to mention using the Ham license on our SSB to transmit on many frequencies. 

With him back home by December 2004, it was time to get back on track!  We were a little derailed because of the 6 month detour and the business suffered a bit, but it was time to get back in business!  We were still scheduled to shove off on our world cruise in late 2005 so we got to it!  Rene put in her notice at work, a replacement (or two) was hired and she quit in June of 2005.  Then the fun began!  We had Coast Chandlery up for sale and were entertaining a couple of buyers.  As we got closer and closer to our bon voyage time, we had another setback.  We had a buyer interested in the business and were working with them.  Then in October 2005, the adjacent building to the Chandlery burned down!!  We received phone calls in the middle of the night - one to Michael's cell phone, no message, then to my cell phone.  When that happens....you know something's wrong!  The fog was so thick you couldn't even see the fire and the firefighters drove around the complex two times before seeing it!  It was a total loss.  Luckily, there was no damage to our business but the complex that was damaged had a very popular restaurant that brought a lot of foot traffic to our complex.  When that happened, the buyer got cold feet and backed out of the deal.  Oh....GREAT!!  On to plan B. 

Michael's Dad, Doug Ditton, had volunteered to help us out until the sale of the business and we took him up on his offer!  We moved him out from Palm Springs, California and set him up in Oxnard.  He would watch the business, work there & do the accounting for us while we were gone.  It was a whirlwind couple of months.  He was packed up, we rented a U-Haul truck, moved him into a condo, had the boat in the boatyard for some last minute projects, was training both him & our Manager at the Chandlery, had a bon voyage party, were on the boat & ready to get out of here!!  It was crazy...but it was time!

We headed out of Channel Islands Harbor in November 2005.  A very good friend of ours, Chad, joined us for our first jump over to Avalon, Catalina Island.  We enjoyed Thanksgiving 2005 in Catalina and weathered some very interesting weather.  We were lucky enough to enjoy Catalina through a local's eyes and had a great time.  Check out our blog to read all about what we were experiencing during that time! 

So about two weeks into our 'world cruise'....we realized it was a bad idea to leave the business in someone else's hands while we went off to enjoy ourselves and decided we needed to come back and deal with the business.  We joke that we had our two-week circumnavigation and made it all the way to Newport!  We believe that things happen for a reason and there's a reason everything happened the way it did.  Maybe it wasn't our time to take the cruise!

Rene called her old boss and suggested that if she needed some help in the holidays, she had some time and her boss said the position was open and if she wanted it, she could have it!  So she accepted the position and started back at work in mid-December 2005. 

We decided we wouldn't set a date to leave until the business was sold for good this time!  Again, we learned that an owner treats a business much different than the employees and it showed again in lost revenue.  Michael started back at the store 7 days a week and worked hard at building the customer base again.  A mom-and-pop store is a difficult thing to handle in our world right now of big box stores and we had two major competitors in our area - West Marine and Boaters World.  They spent more on marketing than we could ever do and effectively 'brain washed' them to think of them first before a smaller retailer.  What we could offer at the Chandlery was service, fairness, knowledge, and honest to goodness know-how.  We have had some excellent staff during our tenure at the Chandlery and the customers came to rely on that knowledge.  Chad came on board at the Chandlery and we somewhat changed the store to be more sailboat friendly since that piece was missing in the community.  We also diversified a bit in 2006 and purchased an electric boat rental business just two doors down from the Chandlery.  The business was put up for sale in January 2007 and we had a buyer for the Chandlery in September. 

Hallelujah!  The Chandlery was sold!!!  Woohoo!!  We didn't have a buyer yet for the Electric Boat rental business, or the Internet Cafe, but we would worry about that later.  In our contract with the buyer, we factored in a timeline of when Michael would help the new owner get a grasp on the business.  The business was taken over September 1st, but we would be available to the new owner for the next 60 days.  It was again time to high-tail it and get in gear to get out of here!  No use spending another year waiting.  The optimal cruising season for the West Coast is after hurricane season (November 15th - March 15th).  We decided that we would leave just around Christmas.  Again, our good friend Chad joined us and we scheduled our departure date for December 20th, 2007.  Rene quit work on December 14th after a major upgrade at her work and hurried up with the last minute preparations to getting out of here!  After the sale of the business, Michael pretty much focused and worked every day to get the boat in order, the shop stuff finalized & everything organized & packed into storage, not to mention layed out a timeline.  Since we didn't get a buyer for the Internet Cafe and Electric Boat Rental businesses, we decided to just shut them both down for the winter, take off cruising, and come back in the summer to open it back up & run it while having it also up for sale and at the end of the summer, if it wasn't sold, just sell off the boats one at a time to liquidate.  

So that's our story in a nutshell.  And that's where we are now!  It's January 2008, we have taken off on our cruise as of last month, we're currently in Mexico and are enjoying our cruise so far.  Again, please take a look at our blogs to read all about our journey so far!