our delayed departure

Two days ago my dad, Dan, and I came to the Phoenix, ready to set out on the first leg of our journey. As I write this, the Phoenix is still securely tied to the dock. It’s foggy and raining out, and we’re going nowhere, comfortably.

The biggest problem keeping us here is a failure of our laptop to be able to communicate with the ship’s GPS unit. The communications between the two were intermittent at best. The technician believed he had solved the problem on Tuesday, the problems recurred today, and right now we’re waiting for a new GPS firmware ROM which Raymarine is expressing to us overnight. We’re hoping that it will be installed tomorrow morning, and we’ll finally be on our way.

The ship is ready to go, full of food and supplies. The Phoenix contains an amazing number of lockers and hidey-holes. We’ve only used perhaps 2/3 of the storage space. As we head south, I expect that gear will find places where it wants to be, and we’ll grow more comfortable with finding a can of soup, or a band-aid, or a dock line.

In my several trips to the Phoenix from California, I’ve brought out quite a bit of wine. A hatch at the foot of the companionway steps opens to reveal what I call the ‘wine cellar’. In the bilges below this hatch are 18 bottles of wine. Another hatch elsewhere hides another six bottles. Our journey, or at least the first month, will be well-lubricated.

I’m sending this journal entry via SailMail (http://www.sailmail.com/). The data is transmitted by a special modem across a ham radio frequency. It’s slow, and we’re limited to using the system for 10 minutes a day. Messages are transmitted in ‘batches’, so messages received one day will probably not be replied to until the next. The big advantage of SailMail is that it’s cheap ($200 a year), and it works far offshore. Using this system, I should be able to send messages from the Pacific on our way to Hawaii. Because the system is so slow, it only transmits text messages. I’ll try to post pictures to the Phoenix web site (http://seaphoenix.com/) whenever I have access to a high-speed connection.

We’re hoping to be in Newport harbor tomorrow night, and then finally out to Long Island Sound and south.



The area below the floor of a ship. Typically, water collects here before being diverted overboard by the bilge pump. Water (and fuel, and dirt) stagnates here, making ‘bilge water’ a synonym for nastiness.

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