Finally Saying Goodbye

It’s been several months since we’ve left home and waved goodbye to our family and friends. The days are flying by, faster than they ever have before…

The last few months before leaving were a mad dash to get Agape ready for cruising. We were burnt out and exhausted after a 45 day refit in the boat yard, working 10-12 hour days, then we still had to provision the boat and make time to say goodbye to our family and friends. I don’t think we’ve ever been so physically, mentally and emotionally spent.

I had been trying to prepare myself for the emotional aspect of leaving, but the last two months at home there was little space in our lives to process all that was
happening. When the day came, and our family and friends waved us off, my heart was so overwhelmed with emotions. Six years of dreaming, planning, working and saving had finally culminated to this one moment and it all seemed so surreal. We were standing on our boat, looking up at the ones we love most and were waving goodbye, for who knows how long…

Team Agape!

Leaving to go cruising was all we had wanted the last six years. We had dreamed of that moment for so long, to finally push off the dock and head south to warmer waters, but I didn’t realize saying goodbye was going to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. We were looking forward to slowing down and enjoying each others company, to playing in the ocean and making new memories, but it was sad to think that we be doing life without our friends and family by our sides.

Looking back one last time at everyone waving goodbye, and thinking of all those who came to our going away party, filled our hearts with so much joy and we knew we were supported and loved, and as scary as it was leaving everything behind, we knew we always had the best part of our lives to come back to.

Sailing away from our home town.
My handsome captain.

Photo by Griffen Turner!
Friends following us out to wave us off.

That first night we sailed out to Santa Cruz Island under a magnificent super moon. It was a pretty rough sail and we were bashing into a head wind the whole way out with waves breaking over the bow. I was pretty seasick and Josh had to cook up a simple dinner. Luckily we got to the lee side of the island and were able to anchor in Smugglers Cove under the bright light of the moon. In the morning the wind and seas had calmed down and we continued our sail south to Marina Del Rey, where I’d work two more days before we could officially start our voyage to MEXICO! It was a beautiful morning and we had a great spinnaker run past the islands, followed by a school of dolphins for almost an hour.

Sailing past Anacapa Island. Photo by Ben Brue.
Jacuzzi and margaritas with one of our best friends, Joey Hernandez.

Two of our best friends, Ryan and Melissa Swan, came to wave us off the dock in LA and we headed out for my first overnighter. It was a pretty uneventful evening and I felt confident on my watches, as the sun rose and we pulled into the San Diego harbor we were greeted by one of our oldest friends, Joey Hernandez. We enjoyed a few days catching up with family and friends, stocked up on fresh food and even had our first big scare of the trip while we were anchored in Glorietta Bay, a beautiful and protected anchorage within the San Diego harbor.

After years of anchoring at the Channel Islands with unprotected, rolly anchorages we were amazed at how still we were anchored in the bay, it felt like we were back at the dock. The anchorage is marked by large yellow buoys and was full with boats visiting for the weekend. We let out our normal 5 to 1 scope, but later pulled it into 3 to 1 to avoid getting too close to the marker boys or other boats anchored around us. It was fine until the third night when a storm rolled through. We could hear the wind picking up and the rain pouring down as we went to bed, then I woke to a loud banging noise that I’ve never heard before. I made Josh get up to check on what it was, thinking we had swung around and were hitting the marker buoy. Josh reluctantly got up to check, not wanting to go out in the rain in the middle of the night. He quickly returned and in a surprisingly calmly voice, told me to put some clothes and come out because we were dragging anchor. I leapt out of bed and ran up the companion way steps to see Josh gunning the engine as we were just a few feet from hitting a large aluminum sailboat.

Agape anchored in Glorietta Bay.

Luckily we had kept the key in the ignition! We literally could have jumped off our wind vane to the deck of the other boat! The engine being thrown into gear so close to the other boat woke their captain and he came up to ask if everything was ok as we motored away, again Josh responded calmly, “Just dragged anchor a bit!”.

I then got behind the wheel to keep us pointed into the wind while Josh raised the anchor. Problem number one, I can’t see at night, especially without my glasses. Once he got the anchor up, I had to have him take the wheel so I could go down below to grab my glasses. Problem number two… wearing glasses in the pouring rain, at night, with 35 knots of wind, I couldn’t see anything anyways!!

As I steered us into position to drop the anchor again we saw two other boats fly across the anchorage, dragging as well. We tried yelling and hailing the other boats on the radio. Luckily were able to set the hook on the first try, and put out ample amounts of scope. The other boats got safely re-anchored as well.

Getting ready to leave SD after the storm. Photo by Joey Hernandez.

In the morning we recounted how lucky we were that we hadn’t hit anything and we said we’d never again take for granted a calm anchorage. From now on, no matter what we always put out a minimum of 5 to 1 scope. It was a good lesson to learn, it was scary and not how I would have wanted to learn it, but I’m thankful it was at the beginning of our trip and that it didn’t come at a costly expense.

We are currently in Manzanillo Mexico and have been cruising full time for just over four months now. We plan to post a lot over the next two weeks as we try to catch the blog up to real time. Thanks for following along!

Life in Real Time!

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One day at a time.

After two months of hard work and finally saying goodbye to our family and friends, it’s time to start adventuring! Time is definitely not slowing down and we cannot wait to start cruising after months of planning and looking ahead to this very moment.

We’ve partnered with Pulsar to join in their #LifeInRealTime campaign to inspire others to live in the moment, whether it’s working hard or hardly working! Josh and I have learned just how important it is to be present for each moment during this last season of our lives. Soaking up each day, while being grateful for every good and hard lesson that might come along with it.

We are learning how to shift our focus from the future, to the present moment, each day directing our attention to the project, person or experience at hand. For us, simplifying our lives and quitting our jobs to go cruising is an attempt to slow down time. We have downsized our belongings and simplified our schedules to quit being busy and live more presently. It’s taken us six years and a lot of hard work but we are finally here, and it’s time to start cruising!

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Agape finally back in the water! Full of joy and so much love for this beauty.

Heading out to the islands for our first shake down cruise! We were expecting Agape to sail a bit slower now that she is fully provisioned and sitting an inch deeper in the water, but she flies! We had 15-20kts of wind and we were sailing comfortably at 6.5kts.

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On our way out, I climbed the mast using our new mast steps, to catch a spectacular view of Agape with her sails up, slicing through the water. I wish I could freeze myself in time for moments like theses. Words cannot describe the emotions that encompass all our hard work, years of dreaming and saving, and now finally getting ready to set off on this new adventure. There is so much joy and anticipation, but it’s also accompanied by a sadness, realizing we are leaving behind an amazing community of loving friends and family.
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Excitement and fears, bubbling up as looked out to the horizon. So much is unknown and unplanned. We are finally free and Agape is finally ready. We have said our goodbyes and our hearts our ready for what this new chapter will bring!

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Stunning sunrise at Prisoners Harbor.

We just got back to Ventura and only have a few things left to do before finally heading south. Josh found our water maker wasn’t working properly and after trying the best we could to fix the problem, decided it would be best just to send it off to have the main pump rebuilt. Shipping it off this morning and fingers crossed we’ll have it back in two weeks.

Agape is also waiting on her new stay sail to be finished, but until then we plan on several more island trips with family and friends to continue shaking down the boat before we finally head south. Our tentative date is November 13th!

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Time is flying by and we can’t wait to share our upcoming journey!

White Tide – A Coccolithophore Explosion

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An areal view of the bloom from the Santa Barbara Channel.

Turquoise water!!!! Here in Southern California we recently had a massive bloom of coccolithophores, a chalk-producing phytoplanktonic organism. These coccolithophores make chalk — calcium carbonate — as microscopic plants they photosynthesize, but they also absorb carbon dissolved in seawater and convert it into hard plates called coccoliths.

blog1They form internally and are eventually push outside the cell membrane creating a white tide, turning the ocean a stunning turquoise color. These plates are made up of calcium carbonate, similar to clam and oyster shells. This biological process, represents one of the most important mechanisms by which the Earth locks carbon into solid material, some of which ends up in the seafloor.

The beauty of all this is that it’s a very efficient way in the long term of sequestering carbon in planetary terms. The oceans currently absorb about a third of human-created CO2 emissions, roughly 22 million tons a day and when carbon dioxide dissolves in this ocean, carbonic acid is formed. This leads to higher ocean acidity, mainly near the surface, which has been proven to inhibit shell growth in marine animals and is suspected as a cause of reproductive disorders in some fish. So this bloom is a big deal and a great way to learn more about these amazing plants!

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These blooms can be so large that they can even be seen from satellite images.
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View coming into Fry’s Anchorage.
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The water looked as if it were glowing!
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Transported to the Caribbean.
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The bloom made the water visibility pretty crappy so we decided to explore the coast by dingy instead of diving that afternoon.
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Weston fishing for dinner.
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Dolphins playing off our bow!
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A lone tuna crab.

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Birthday Whale

We recently were able to have my sister, Rhianna and her boyfriend, Weston aboard Agape for a three-day trip to Santa Cruz Island to celebrate her birthday. It was the first time she’d been on an overnight trip offshore and we were so excited to share this experience with them.

We couldn’t have asked for better weather heading out to the island and even had occasional dolphin visitors as we made our way through the channel. As we finished crossing the shipping lane and into the line of oil platforms, we sailed directly into a massive ball of LIFE! As far as your eyes could see, the water was teeming with fish, dolphins, birds, pinnipeds and yes… WHALES! It’s not uncommon to see whales in the channel and we are used to seeing them, but this trip we were especially hoping to see one for my sister’s birthday. We lucked out! Not only was there one whale, but there were many! They were popping up all around the boat. Swimming right to us! They got so close, that Josh even used our bow thrusters to make extra noise to ensure they knew we were there and wouldn’t hit us.

The whales swam directly in front of us, below us, behind us! We squealed with excitement as they got closer and closer. One in particular got very close and hung around. I exclaimed, “See Rhianna, you got your BIRTHDAY WHALE!”

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We tend to see a lot of life near the oil platforms, as they create an artificial reef for larger predators to feed off of, but this day was a special treat! This week there were massive schools of tuna crabs all over Southern California. These crabs are unusual in these waters and were brought up from Mexico with the warm waters brought on by  El Nino, (see previous post). Coincidentally there was also an extensive algae bloom in the area, attracting lots of hungry fish. The water was teaming with life! These two events created perfect feeding conditions and we just happened to be lucky enough to get in on the action!

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We couldn’t have imagined a better start to our trip! We even stopped the boat and hung around for at least half an hour watching the dolphins and sea lions play off our bow, while the whales continued to feed all around us.

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Dolphins playing off the bow.

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Gopros rock! We got great footage of these guys playing off the bow.
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More whales swimming alongside Agape.
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Happy Birthday Rhianna!

Fry’s Harbor

After the mid-channel excitement, we continued on to our first destination for the weekend, Fry’s Harbor. As I mentioned before, there was a massive algae bloom that weekend, turning the water a stunning turquoise color. It looked as if we had been transported to somewhere in the Caribbean!

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Approaching Fry’s Harbor.
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The algae bloom made the water glow a bright shade of turquoise.
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A blanket of tuna crabs covering the beach.
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Checking out one of the tuna crabs up on deck.
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The algae made the visibility pretty crappy so decided to fish from the boat instead of spearfishing for dinner.
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The boys filleting up dinner.

Painted Cave

After a night of relaxing and beach combing for shells at Fry’s, we woke up early to make the sail up to Painted Cave. The cave is famous, listed as one of the top three largest sea caves in the world. In order to get in and really explore the cave, you need a very calm day with no swell, and we hoped it would be one of those days. As we made our way up the coast, the wind and swell began picking up. The closer we got, the more we realized entering the cave that day would not be an option, yet we were so close we decided to continue on and at least see the cave entrance.

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Rough waters approaching Painted Cave.
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Painted Cave is the dark entrance on the far right.

Prisoners Harbor

From Painted Cave we turned around and headed back down the front side of Santa Cruz, past Fry’s Harbor and on to our anchorage for the night, Prisoners Harbor. We checked out all the little anchorages along the way, planning future trips to explore the caves and canyons along the coastline.

Once at Prisoners, we tucked up along the cliff and dropped anchor in the shallows on a bed of eel grass and sand. We set our bow anchor in about 10ft of water and the stern on the beach. After double checking our anchors, we loaded up the dingy and headed to the beach to comb for abalone shells, hike and hopefully spot an island fox.

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Ready for a hike!
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View of Agape from our hike up the coast.

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We accidentally all wore matching colors for our hike. Team Agape!
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Josh and Weston letting us ladies know which direction the beach was.

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Rhianna and her birthday fox!
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Sneaky little island fox.

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Even though she’s technically an adult, she’ll always be my little sis!
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Back to the boat!
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French bread smiles.

In the morning we woke up to a sea of fog. It was beautifully eerie… As we looked around and enjoyed the glowing stillness, we noticed it was an extremely low tide, and decided to turn on the sailing instruments and check our depth. The 10 feet below our keel the night before became a foot and a half, dropping at one point to half a foot…. We weren’t too concerned as we were on a bed of eel grass, and knew Agape’s keel could easily hold her full weight on dry ground. It was still a shock to see how far the tide had dropped though, so we decided to enjoy our coffee a little longer as the tide came back in before heading out to our next destination.

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Scorpion Anchorage

Once the tide started coming back in we pulled up our anchors and headed further east toward Scorpion Anchorage. We had hoped the sun would break through on our way but the island sat in such a dense cloud we couldn’t even see the top of the cliffs as we motored along the island.

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As we approached the anchorage the sun began breaking through. We set our anchor and couldn’t wait to get to the beach to play some bocci ball! It ended up being a beautiful last day on the island, only wish we could have stayed longer.

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The fog bank slowly burning away behind Agape.
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Josh REALLY wanted to get to the beach!
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Captain Ron.
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Bocci tournament!
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Agape anchored up in Scorpion.