The Plan

I’ve been been traveling to and from the depths of Baja, learning the culture, the language, and the lifestyles. With a future boat on my mind, a business plan, and a passion for adventuring, the itch to move down to Mexico has never been so itchy! Everyday, it is the first and last thing on my mind. If I hadn’t just committed myself to something for the rest of the month of April, I’d probably follow my impulses and leave tomorrow. So what’s the plan?

IMG_3947Originally, I was planning on heading down to La Paz and spending the month of June house and dog sitting. During this time, I would work on building my connections, shopping for boats, looking at properties, exploring my new home town, and of course, relaxing out on the tropical waters of Mexico. What would happen after that month was all to be played by ear. Simply put, I was going to see where the winds were blowing and head that direction. While all of that is still the current plan, that one month has turned into 5 months due to 2 more house sitting opportunities. And knowing what I’m capable of accomplishing with 5 months of time, it’s a safe bet that I won’t be coming back to the U.S. to live anytime soon.

While I have a few options for side work while I’m down there, my main focus, in terms of work, is on starting up a touring company. These past few months, I’ve been driving back and fourth across the border to explore the depths of Baja and familiarize myself with all the little towns and attractions. I won’t be going too far into detail about this touring business that I’m working on but I’m shooting to have a solid game plan by the end of this year and be able to begin giving tours throughout the Peninsula by the beginning of next year. I’ll write more about this in the future when there is a more solid game plan. Another option that I’ve been working on creating for myself is getting my Captain License and finding a boat that I can captain. A few months ago I began studying for my Captains License and after reaching out to a few people, I’ve come across the owner of a Cheoy Lee 42 in need of a new captain for his boat. I’ve met with the owner twice now and after an interview a few nights ago night, it’s looking like there will be a nice future sailing this boat around the Sea of Cortez. This too will be talked about more in future writings.

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After having to cancel my plans to go cruising in October, the main thing on my mind was to get back on a boat immediately. Being boatless is a scary way to live my life. Everyday of my life is relative to boats in one way or another so I’ve had a sharp eye out all over the World Wide Web for my next vessel. How can a man fulfill his total potential without his own ship to sail on? With the help of a few contacts down in La Paz, I’ve been introduced to a 1972 Rawson 30. She’s not the prettiest of boats, nor is she in the best shape. In fact, she’s probably a boat that I normally wouldn’t take on as a project. However, given her price tag, my level of motivation to just be and work on my own boat again, and the little fact that she’s being sold with the ownership of a mooring ball located in the harbor of La Paz, I’m making a few exceptions here. Worse comes to worse, I can use the boat to live on and have a free place stay in La Paz and rent out the mooring to other cruisers. So I’m undecided as of now and will go through my list of deal breakers once I get down there and see the boat in person. I certainly won’t be making any impulsive decisions that will result with me owning a boat that never leaves the dock. And In the unfortunate case that I can’t find a boat that I want to buy right away while I’m down there, I’m coming prepared with another boat.

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This past month, I’ve been working with the fine people of Aqua Adventures down in Mission Bay, San Diego. With their help, I’ve been able to get my hands on a 17.5ft Necky sea kayak, the Looksha IV, and the gear necessary to go on some great paddling adventures. I’ve also been taking a few classes to learn some of the different skills necessary for open water kayaking from strokes to capsize recovery and rolls. Aqua Adventures has opened many more doors and introduced a hobby to me that I never knew I would fall in love with. They’ve also introduced me to some great people associated with not only paddling but also resourceful contacts down in Mexico. So I’d love to show my appreciation to them and look forward to a future of paddling with them. If you ever find yourself in Mission Bay or La Jolla and are looking for a good day out on the water, stop by their shop and meet the team. They’ll give you some of the best and knowledgable service and point you in the direction of a great adventure. You can check them out hereIMG_3834

Currently, I’m trying to find someone to join me on the adventure down. I plan on spending a week or so making my way down to La Paz. In that time, I want to stop along all the nice beaches, kayak around the clear waters, search for whale sharks to swim with, and eat all the fish tacos that my stomach can handle. Preferably, I won’t be doing all of this fun stuff alone so if anyone is interested in joining me for the trip down, please let me know. Airfare back North is only around $100 so it’s reasonably affordable. You’ll have to be flexible on time as I can’t guarantee anything but if you’re interested then shoot me an email at scseanhall@gmail.com and lets go further into depth.

This post has been particularly hard for me to write. While I’ve had dozens of opportunities come my way, I’ve had to turn a lot of them down because they interfere with one another or some aren’t even set in stone enough for me to start preaching about them to everyone. While it may sound like I have a lot of things figured out, until I get down there I have a lot of uncertainties to still figure out that definitely leave this trip capable of throwing a few curve balls my way… as preferred in any of my adventures. What I do know for sure is that I’m creating a really great future for myself. While there will most likely be some pretty gnarly speed bumps that I come across along the way, I know that things are only going to get better and more opportunities are going to manifest from each previous adventure. I look forward to sharing each and everyone of those with you all and hopefully having some of you along for a few of my adventures.

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Back in Mexico!

So I’ve made the long trip down to San Carlos, Mexico with my buddy James. (The same James who’s motor blew up in the previous blog). We planned a road trip down here to look at a potential cruising boat that he wanted to buy. He found a CT-41 for $10,000 and anyone who knows about that boat is aware that, that price tag is pretty much giving the boat away. So Friday morning we packed our bags and left in search of freedom down in Mexico!

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We made our way to Arizona where we stayed one night before finishing the second leg to San Carlos in a nice rental car. We managed to find our way all the way to San Carlos without a map or a GPS telling us how to get there. It really is true than men are natural born navigators. After about 10 hours of driving we had made it to our destination. We quickly met with the owner and then made our way out to the boat.

Seeing the boat for the first time was very exciting! The hull was beautiful! Looked like it had just been painted! The rest of the boat was a little rough however. The first thing that we noticed was the rigging. All of the standing rigging was loose and needing replacement. The wood on the boat was in pretty decent condition as well as the decks with only a little flexibility on the bow.

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Down below was a bit of a mess, the floor boards looked like the boat had once been underwater at some point and was pretty much stripped of everything. The only electronics were an old VHF radio and some old instruments. Nothing special there. The boat was huge however and definitely showed a lot of potential for the right person.

The engine only had about 500 hours on it but had a lot if oil in the bilge beneath it. A concerning amount if you ask me. The big problem was the main mast however. I say main because this boat was a ketch witch means it has two masts; the fore mast is taller than the aft mast which we call the mizen. Anyway, the dolphin striker beneath the 7ft long bowsprit had broken off relieving tension on the forestay, thus relieving the forward pulling tension from the mainmast and, of course, as a result relieving forward tension from the mizen as well. The problem with all this relieved stress is that the main mast has become bent and warped and looks almost like a tree out of a Dr. Seuss book. Also, after climbing the mainmast, we found a giant crack about 12 feet below the top of the mast. With all this said, the mast needs to be completely replaced which is a pretty big deal and not a cheap job. The mizen also had a little warp in it but still appeared to be salvageable. A simple little issue had caused a whole chain of events and added about $20,000 in repairs alone. That price is arguable I’m sure but with boats it’s usually a safe bet that you’ll find yourself paying more than what you expect.

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The boat was a beautiful boat, a dream boat even, but as with any old neglected boat it needed money and dedication. After heading down to the boat for a second time on Sunday morning, we decided it wasn’t the one. However, not without jumping off the mast first and having some fun in the water. We spent the rest of the day eating marlin tacos and enjoying the good scenery that San Carlos has to offer on the beach.

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It’s Monday now and we’ve been driving for about 8 hours with about 7 more hours to go. Leaving the beautiful beach house that we somehow managed to stay at was no easy task. The house arguably had the nicest waterfront location in all of San Carlos! I’ve been invited to stay at the neighbors house next to where I stayed this trip in case I ever find myself back down in San Carlos.

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Very excited to make my way back down there! I definitely have some unfinished fun to have down there and what a great way to better my Spanish!

BANG!!!

This past weekend, I spent some time up in Marina Del Rey taking care of business. And what would business be without sneaking a few sails in here and there. So I met up with a couple friends, James and Tina, and took their boat out a few times. After the first day of sailing their Islander 28, the boat was bought for asking price. James wasn’t too happy about saying goodbye and as it turns out, the boat didn’t seem to happy to say goodbye either.

Now usually, once you sell your boat the headaches are over. No more slip fees, no more cleaning mold, no more tweaking the engine every time you want to go out. This wasn’t quite the case this time. For celebration, we decided to go out on one last sunset sail out to sea. Keep in mind the boat was technically no longer ours to sail but we still had the keys and what could possibly go wrong? As soon as we exited the channel and were in the ocean, the wind blew us over onto a nice heel and we heard a sound that no gear head ever wants to hear. A lot of clackiting sounds, a bang, and then silence.

The moment the sails fill with wind and the engine is killed is usually the most relaxing part of sailing. Everything goes quite and peace is in the air. Well this time, worry was in the air. It was to our surprise that the connecting rod had actually punched a hole through the side of the engine block! Just our luck! Luckily there was a just enough wind left to creep back to the slip, and all my practice of sailing in light winds without an engine came to good use!

20140316-194808.jpgSo after looking at all of our options, we decided to spend the next few days hauling out the old engine and replacing it with a new engine we quickly found and bought on Craigslist. Getting the engine out was one hell of a job and just disconnecting the engine alone took an entire day in itself with over 5 trips to the Home Depot. James managed to keep his cool but he was definitely put to the test. I could definitely go without ever hauling out another engine like this one ever again and I’m sure I can safely speak on James’ behalf that the feeling is mutual.

20140316-195012.jpgGetting the new engine in the boat proved to be a bit of a challenge as well but I don’t think either James or I had high expectations of it being a piece of cake after everything that went wrong while hauling out the old engine. Nevertheless, we got the new engine in the boat. A few extra pieces are needed to be ordered before the project can be deemed as completed but I say close enough!

20140316-195422.jpgWith three outings on the water and a lot of work this past week, I’m ready to head back down to San Diego and sail my boat again! Planning my first offshore trip to Catalina single handedly sometime next month.

Tina and James just started up a blog if their very own. To follow their adventures you can check out this link!
https://www.blogger.com/profile/03095672291457635490

The Old Fashion Way

Now that my boat is becoming closer and closer to being ready to sail offshore, I’ve realized that I need to make sure I’m ready to sail offshore as well. All the other boats that I’ve sailed on all had some level of electronic instruments that were pretty reliable when it came to navigation. That, and they also had ways of powering such instruments either by alternator or solar. In my case, I don’t have an engine to recharge my batteries, nor do I have solar installed yet. Because of this, I lack certain things like a chart plotter.

Since I’m unable to rely on a chart plotter to tell me where I need to be heading or what’s ahead of me, I have to do things the old fashion way and use paper charts. The only problem with that is I never had to use paper charts and thus never learned how to navigate using just a compass. So I payed a visit to my good friend Captain Jeff and he schooled me in Navigation 101: The Basics.

20140313-083313.jpgAfter an hour or two, I learned so much and I’m already feeling totally confident enough to make it to just about anywhere without the aid of electronics. Of course I have plenty more to learn but with a little bit of practice, I think I’ll be a pretty damn good navigator soon! Being able to pinpoint my location from the middle of the ocean is such a great feeling!

One of my favorite things about sailing is the learning curve. There is always so much to learn and you’ll never be able to learn everything! It really prevents sailing from becoming boring. And the rewarding feeling of learning something new for me that has to do with sailing is such a magical feeling. To know that I can always learn so much more at any point is a very exciting thing!

As for now, I’m going to continue reading up about navigation and pick me up some paper charts and all the little navigational tools needed as well. I’m am in search of an iPad which has become the new tool for navigation on sailboats. Plus it uses it’s own battery. If you have or know anyone with an iPad laying around, please contact me and we can work something out. It’s preferred to have one for a safety precaution. It would be a damn shame if I were to miss Hawaii because of my lack of navigation skills! I’ll keep my fingers crossed!

Electrical Mayhem!

I’ve jumped into the DC world of boat electronics and tackled a very intimidating issue with my boat. You see, when it comes to boats and electricity, you don’t get to cut corners. You do everything by the books which means spending a nice chunk of change and a lot of hours wiring.

My boat, in terms of electrical, was an absolute mess and was an electrical disaster waiting to happen! The previous owner seemed to have cut every corner he came across! He coupled wires by simply twisting them together and a little bit of electrical tape and then went ahead and ran them through the bilge! It really is a blessing that this boat was just about stripped of everything electric when I bought it because it probably saved me from a fire. The few lights that are on the boat still don’t work and for reasons I’m pretty sure of.

20140308-084554.jpgThe first thing I wanted to get rid of was the old sticky fuse panel. Lights were always causing my fuses to blow due to the whole setup. My replacement would be an illuminated 6 switch circuit breaker. Flipping a switch it was easier than driving somewhere and spending money every time a fuse blows… Especially if you’re out at sea and don’t have anymore backups.

The second item on the electrical to-do list was to mount power busses to eliminate having to twist or combine wires together with couplers. These power busses are key to organization in my opinion. Plus you can install them anywhere on the boat if you need to branch out your electricity from a single wire instead of running a bunch of wires across the boat.

Not being the best electrician and having to sit down with an electrical disaster, located on a boat of all places, I was very intimidated by what I was about to get myself into. Drawing out the schematics really made me feel much more capable of the project and was easier to tackle what I needed to do first seeing it on paper and organizing everything in my head.

20140308-084446.jpgIt may not be the best wiring schematic but it’ll do.

After three trips to West Marine, Home Depot, and Autozone, I was ready to start pulling wire. I took everything out, including all of the batteries and the fuse panel. My boats DC system was all gone and I had already felt better! After spending the next 10-13 hours down in the engine room, I finally had all the cabin lights up again with all new wiring, new wiring for my navigation lights, and all the instruments that I’m still in the process of buying wired up so all I have to do is plug them in upon arrival.

I also climbed my mast to run a coax cable for an antenna for my VHF radio. The antenna that came with the boat was designed for power boats and doesn’t work when the boat heels over. Now that the new coax is ran, I just need to buy the new antenna for the mast, and my VHF will be all set!

20140308-084902.jpgSelfie at the top of my mast.

The difference between my job and the previous owners job is night and day. I used all marine grade wire and connectors and was sure to use heat shrink on every coupler. I neatly cabletied groups of wire together and mounted them out of the way. I also coated everything with dielectric grease for lasting conductivity and protection against corrosion. The job looks beautiful and even those who don’t know what’s good and bad can see that a lot of time was put into it.

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20140308-085041.jpgWith the extra equipment that I’m in the process of buying or yet to install, I’m going to purchase a second circuit breaker, today, to mount above the existing one. This will be more for instruments such as a tiller pilot, my GPS, depth sounder, a stereo, etc. With everything neatly wired in, I’m able to sleep a bit better at night and I can trust that my electrical devices are not going to fail on me.

New Engine! Let’s Go!

After going back and fourth on whether or not I was going to buy another inboard or just an outboard, I decided to go with the outboard. I bought a nice 15HP Johnson Seahorse and have her all hooked up to the transom mount. The transom mount I currently have is a fixed mount which I’ll use right now but I’m looking to buy an adjustable mount soon so I can more easily raise and lower my engine in and out of the water and adjust the depth of the propeller.

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I rerouted the fuel lines of my original 25 gallon built in gas tank and drilled a small hole for the fuel line to come out of the cockpit and through the drain hole on the transom. Drilling holes in your boat is an awful feeling just for the record. Especially when it’s in the hull or around the hull.

So what’s next? Well now that I have an engine on the back, a new VHF radio, a nice big zodiac, and plenty of food, I’m ready to hit the islands! Most likely Catalina, that is, and I’d like to circumnavigate the island. Just looking for a crew who can come along and commit. If you’re interested in coming along, let me know so we can get a sail in and see how well you do out there. Don’t pass up this opportunity! You can get a hold of me by email at scseanhall@gmail.com or call me if you have my number.

My Story

My name is Sean Hall and I’m in love with the sea. I haven’t been sailing for a long time but I’ve covered a lot of ground in my short time on the water. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always wanted to be a pirate. And as ridiculous as it may be, I still do just as much today, if not more! However, growing up I was cursed with severe motion sickness that had always made that dream very hard to imagine and chase after. All I had to do was look at the docks and It was all over. It seemed hopeless. No matter how bad my sea sickness was, my fascination for the water never diminished. I just worked with my problem and went out anyway.

I believe every sailor has a story of the day that they knew they were a sailor. The day I realized I was a sailor took place one day on my way home from school. I was living in Ocean Beach at the time. It was the middle of January and the annual big winds were blowing harder than ever. Being the curious kid that I was, I skated to the end of the OB pier to see the waves crashing up against the railings. They were just about to shut down the pier due to the large winds and waves. Once I had made it out to the end, I had this genius idea. I quickly took off my jacket, tied up the sleeves and opening for my head and held it up into the wind like a sail! I just made a sail with my jacket! After a few kicks to get myself going, I had the wind blowing right at my back and sailing down the pier past the herds of people. I managed to reach speeds that made stopping the board impossible to do without injuring myself and I’m reluctant to say that everyone got out of my way in time! It was at this moment that I knew I was a sailor. Before getting kicked off the pier, I managed to get a few more rides from the wind in before heading home.

Years later, after countless failed attempts at being on a boat without getting sick, I met this woman, Heidy, who had fallen in love with sailing. She had this dream of cruising all over Mexico like her parents do every year and soaking up the sun in warmer waters. Heidy was a very experienced sailor and was already on her 3rd boat when I met her. After exchanging stories she invited me out on her boat where we would spend the next three days sailing around LA, anchoring out in Redondo Beach, and learning all about the philosophies of Captain Ron. This would be my first time on a sailboat and something miraculous happened. I didn’t get seasick! I was actually able to enjoy myself and the moments on the water instead of feel absolutely miserable! I don’t know if it was because I was determined to not throw up in front if this pretty woman I had just met or if it was because I just got past the psychological aspect of motion sickness after all the years, but it was probably a combination of the two. The funny thing was that there was zero wind so we found ourselves motoring the whole time. But I didn’t care because I didn’t know what I was missing. I was just happy to be on the water and in good company. And it was at that point, again, that I knew I wanted to sail.

As time went on, Heidy and I spent a year sailing different parts around the world together, including Island hopping the Greek Islands in the Mediterranean Sea, and spending some time on her parents’ boat, Audacious, down in Mexico cruising the Sea of Cortez. In the span of that year I learned more and more about sailing and Heidy was onto to her 4th boat which we lived on part time in San Diego. Heidy had passed down the love for sailing and I now shared the dream to go cruising someday as well. After spending so much time on boats, and since I was in the market for a new place to live, I decided that if there was ever an opportunity to buy a boat, it was now. I just wasn’t ready to live full time on land and I saw no reason to.

A few days after searching for rooms to rent I changed the game plan and went boat shopping! Now I’d like to say I spent a few weeks or even a month looking at multiple boats, and doing my research. I would like to say that, but I didn’t do that at all! I felt I knew enough about the basics and any intricate questions that I didn’t know the answers to, I knew people who did. So I skipped the research and two days later after only looking at one other boat, I made a down payment and bought my very first boat; a 1974 Cal 2-29! I gave her the name, “Hakuna Matata”. Its been almost 2 months since I’ve owned her now and I’ve sailed her more times already than most people sail their boats in a lifetime is seems.

So now that you’re all caught up to date and know my story, I can begin sharing with you all of my sailing adventures and giving you the inside scoop of my boat projects. If you’ve made it this far then I want to say thank you for taking the time to read everything I had to say. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask! And don’t be afraid to ask to come out sailing with me sometime! I’d be happy to have you out! No experience is necessary! Just a good attitude! I really hope you enjoy my future tales at sea!

Happy Sailing!
Captn’ Sean

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Hakuna Matata on her maiden voyage.