Unfortunately I haven't had the mental energy to create any long-form content on this blog, so a lot of updates over the last month I've been in the States preparing have just been short updates which are quick and easy from my phone onto my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter feeds - I suggest anyone who is truly keen on following this to keep up to date on those mediums. I arrived on the 7th of May as scheduled, with only a small hiccup in transit in having to buy a return ticket for Jetstar to fly me out of the country, as I'd only purchased a one-way ticket on an ESTA visa. For anyone attempting this in the future, you must have a return ticket when flying into the USA on an ESTA visa, even if you will be departing the country by boat. The only way around this is to buy a fully refundable return ticket... And get your refund after landing (and retain proof of your exit by boat).
After a long flight from Melbourne->Sydney->Honolulu->Oakland (the cheapest route I could find on low cost airlines), Ronnie cooked up a late night storm, and I stayed with my pal Adam aboard his Cal 2-27, before he flew off to the east coast. Without any transport or method to actually get up to my boat I was a bit stumped as to how I would get up there with all the equipment I was carrying. My friend Rob, (of Rob & LaDonna fame) soon offered to drive me up to Napa so I could begin work on Harmony, and get her down into the Bay Area for further work and equipment. After four days, Harmony was moved into the work yard, her bottom sanded, painted and other minor jobs attended to before launching and setting off for the Vallejo Yacht Club where I was nicely put up on the guest dock for a couple of nights.
Before long I was across San Pablo bay tearing into the work aboard Harmony at Loch Lomond, receiving tremendous help and generosity from Rob & LaDonna, with tools, spares, help with a myriad of jobs, lots of tea, transport, cooked meals and hilarious company (R&L were also pivotal in helping me prepare Constellation and set off four years ago).
I decided this trip wasn't going to be singlehanded, and my friend Chris whom I sailed from Palau to Darwin with in 2010 is joining me on this voyage. Chris flew in last week, and since then we've been finishing off jobs, visiting Sausalito, and waiting on the final bits and pieces to arrive.
Thanks to support from Southbound Solar - if you need panels and sound advice, talk to Rob! Harmony also sports a Windpilot Pacific, rapidly shipped out of Hamburg to San Francisco by Peter @ Windpilot, and mounted with a custom stainless fabricated bracket I designed with cardboard and a biro, magically made into reality by Marin Metalworks.
We're currently waiting to depart for our liferaft, new tiller, spinnaker, second jib for downwind-twins, and vessel re-documentation paperwork. We'll be doing our big provisioning shop next week, and we hope to leave as soon as possible for the south pacific.
Some pics lifted from my Instagram feed.