Velella's Drift

An account of Velella's voyage from Seattle to New York via Panama, 2009-2011

2010, Bigger than 2009

Our holidays were far from silent. We spent a week house-sitting in a friend’s swanky apartment (i.e. lounging in the rooftop hot tub and lavishing ourselves with hot showers, dishwashers, and other non-boat luxuries). Then we flew to Minnesota for a visit with the Cleary family, some cross-country skiing and hearthside holiday festivities, and to remind ourselves of one good reason to love southern California: it’s not 17 degrees below zero.

We’ve been in a limbo here for some time, a classic chicken-egg situation. We need land-based jobs but in order to do that we need a slip on land, which are hard to come by. We can’t sign a lease on a slip until we have land-based jobs and know we can afford it. This game of risk, on top of the hunt for a moorage and employment, has been wearing us both out.

Point Fermin, San Pedro

As if by some Christmas miracle, we met the godfather of dockmasters at Dolphin Marina. In a land of outrageous prices, unreasonable people, and far too many blondes, our dockmaster is none of the above. He’s basically agreed to allow us to pay whatever we can afford for the slip, and I don’t know how we could have stayed in LA (let alone survived beyond that) without his help. Securing a “home” here was half the battle and now we can half-relax.

I openly hate LA, especially “LA on a budget,” but secretly am beginning to like certain things about it. Our dockmaster is one example. The funny beach-bikes everybody rides is another. Most importantly, our new home in LA is in a prime location, nestled in a quiet neck of Marina del Rey with no roads. Everywhere you go here there’s a big busy road– and we’re pedestrians in city where everyone owns two cars. But our slip is a the edge of a pedestrianized walkway along the waterfront, with buildings behind, and a little-used cul-de-sac on the other side. There’s a miniature beachfront at the end of our channel that is nowhere near as glutted as Venice Beach, and a “mariners’ market” a couple steps away for necessities. Despite all the privacy, we are only about 5 blocks from the Big Beach–Venice Pier, a million volleyball courts, and mad surf.

We’ve been pedaling around as far as our foldable bike can reach to drop off resumes. I had a dream yesterday that if I was able to complete a Sudodu puzzle (a feat often tried on this trip but never surmounted by my feeble brain), that I would then be able to get a job. So I laid in bed and forced myself to place and undo the knot of numbers until I got them all to fit perfectly. And an hour later I got an interview. So Sudoku is my new religion.

Because things are looking up (thanks Sudoku), we’re in full-swing planning mode to skip town again next fall. Here is an *excerpt from our list. This is why we haven’t been writing so much lately:

-Buy/install self-steering wind vane

-Buy/install HF SSB radio transciever/antenna/modem

-Rebuild the head (yum)

-Acquire a whisker pole

-Make a chain-locker divider for the anchor rodes so we can carry both foreword in the bow

-Create screens for all the portholes (we ain’t in Washington anymore!)

-Sew a harbor awning and make long wooden fender-protector for shitty Mexican docks

-Touch up spar paint, re-varnish handrails and hatches, oil the coamings, and recaulk decks

-Haul out and repaint bottom, increasing the waterline, service thru hulls, zincs, etc.

And these are just the big things. As it should be, the list has grown to be proportional to the trip we’re taking. The trip kicked off in 2010 promises to be a big and sunny one, and it will take us all the way to New York without major 9-month layovers. Meanwhile, we have the Channel Islands at our doorstep, and the Pacific within earshot to ensure we will not be “swallowing the hook” in LA.

Entrance to Marina del Rey



  Brook wrote @

For once I’m stumped as to who wrote this. Meghan?? Anyway, glad to hear that moods are looking up. Your list is formidable, but so are the two of you!! Cin-Cin!!! (yes, this is the spelling of ‘Chin-Chin’, our family toast tradition)

  Sara wrote @

Oh Boy. Hopefully my company will send me back down to LA in the next year as they always put us up at the Hilton in Marina Del Rey. Just my luck though, travels down south will be over now that the two of you are there!

  janice reid wrote @

The stuff you have to do isn’t even in my vocab.
I’m retired now and, Meghan, you’ll love this, a temporary blond (transitioning to gray). I better hurry down to Marina del Rey so I’ll fit in.
love you,

  janice reid wrote @

PS. I totally get the Saduko thing…that’s my kind of religion also.

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