We left our homeport 3 years ago…

On March 26th, 2015, Aldebaran sailed out of Santa Barbara harbor heading south. That was exactly three years ago. As we sit inside our boat rocking in a Tuamoto lagoon, listening to the humm of the trade winds in the rigging, we dug up some nostalgic pictures from Departure Day…

March 26, 2015. Ed France rode his bike to the harbor to see us off.  He is cherished in Santa Barbara as the bicycle godfather of BiciCentro; but a little known fact is that, if it weren’t for his care of Aldebaran for 2 years (when we were boat partners), we wouldn’t be where we are now. Love you Ed!

In addition, we recently came across farewell messages that friends wrote to us, scribbled on blank labels taped to wine bottles, which we drank along the way (thanks Keri & Bryan for that incredible gift, that kept on giving!)

“Be sure to add some color to your cheeks! Until we meet again, Valle con Dios”
-Mark Weeks
“Dear Aldebaran crew y el Capitan
We hope each sip of this wine brings following seas, fair winds and fuzzy memories! We love you guys,”
-Krista and B.
“We wish we could all fit on the boat with you! All 50 of us !!”

March 25, 2015. On the night before departure, Alex gifted us this hard-bound journal to keep as the official Captain’s Log. It was a welcome touch of tradition, bringing a sense of mystique to our daily log entries on Season 1, sailing down Central America. Of the guys pictured, Alex and Ben joined us for long stints in Costa Rica and Tuamotos; Michael and Ryan were aboard 6 months the first year, and returned the second year (and even kept returning…) These guys have become family to us!


“Much Love and laughter and blessings to all who embark on this epic voyage. May hearts be filled with bliss over and over.”
 “Hi guys!
So excited for your adventure. Always remember that not all who
wander are lost. Enjoy every perfect moment, live each day to the fullest and of course, take lots of photos and post them on Facebook
so we can live vicariously through you…”
-love Michaela
“We are so inspired by your fortitude and vision and courage for taking on this impressive and important endeavor of passion and purpose. With great love and awe,”
-Kimber and Carter

March 23, 2015. Sabrina with a deck-full of provisions from Costco.  Oh, how wondrous are the bulk conveniences of Costco…

“Team Inspire,
How amazing it has been to see this idea go from a glimmer in our eye to
full manifestation. What amazing things you can accomplish with vision and community. Laugh in the face of fears and enjoy the adventures in this beautiful life you have created. Much love,”
-Katniss a.k.a. Sarah F.
 “Keep on
Keepin on!”

Santa Barbara Newspress, February 2015. We called it the “Green” Coconut Run because we wanted to bring back a little ecology into the world of modern cruising sailboats. Its been challenging to do everything we wanted, but we’ve managed a few things along the way: research in micro-plactics, distributing solar lights, and promoting innovative marine reserves (see www.greencoconutrun.com)

“May there be many amazing experiences! Be sure to drink this wine naked under a starry sky! xo,”
-Lindsey G. 
“Close your eyes,
smell the sweet sages
Feel the warm breezes
coming over the mountains
SB will still be here to welcome you back.
Now get out there and savor the tropics and the moment
in front of you.
Love you!”

Thanks to EVERYONE who has helped make this voyage a success for the last 3 years, in small ways and big ways! We are so blessed…

Broken! the Rudder Arm fails

Matt evaluates the damage to the rudder arm. The hole is where the rudder shaft is usually attached.

The rudder looked like a broken leg, flopped over to the side. “Oh no…” I thought. The last time I saw this we were in El Salvador and a bolt had come underdone. This time it was a lot more serious, and we were a lot more remote… 50 miles from the closest village in Tahanea, an uninhabited atoll in Tuamotos.

Satellite image of Tahanea’s west pass (ie. the gap of land in the upper part of the image) and middle pass (ie. in the lower part of the image). Just west of the middle pass is the so-called Middle Anchorage, which offers the best protection from the South-East trade winds, while still being near the passes (for diving, etc). However, it is exposed to the South winds.

Like El Salvador, we had just endured two rough nights at anchor. On the heels of a low pressure,  20-25kt South winds blew across Tahanea’s lagoon and caused 2 foot waves to crash onto our bow at anchor. Due to poor visibility from the rainstorm, we chose not to traverse the lagoon to find smooth water on the other side.  The lagoon is uncharted, and coral bommies can pop up from 50 foot depths to 3-5 feet deep. One of our sailor friends had hit a coral bommie when visibility had been reduced and was stuck on the rocks for 12hours, sustaining significant damage to the keel.

“Only traverse the lagoon when visibility is good,” was the word of warning. So we chose to stay in the exposed Middle Anchorage. Comfort-wise, we were fine on Aldebaran, but as the waves shuddered the boat backwards at anchor. Normally there is a rudder lock which keeps the rudder straight. However, the rudder lock failed and the waves overloaded the rudder.  This put an enormous amount of stress on the rudder arm, which is a stout but old cast bronze piece, and it cracked in half.

The coronel doing precision drilling on the piece we would use to “marry” the broken bronze rudder arm back together.

The failure of the rudder arm is catastrophic to the boat’s operation- it means we can’t steer the boat. The piece takes huge amounts of stress, and holds the stainless steel rudder shaft with a very specific “key-way”, so to fix it was a serious project. To avoid falling into desperation, we had to start a new company: Bad Ass Engineering. Company policy requires that we drink rum at regular intervals, speak with a southern accent, and git ‘er dune no matter what.

Laugh, so you don’t have to cry..

The Bad Ass  team  (aka B & A) crawled into Aldebaran’s wood locker and found some pieces of mahogany. We chopped them up and drilled lots of holes to connect them to the bronze rudder arm. This process took all day.

At least the surroundings were beautiful! Captain K taking the skill-saw to mahogany chunks while enjoying the backdrop.

The mahogany wood allowed us to “marry” the two pieces of bronze, using 11 bolts and 3 pieces of wood. We also added epoxy to bind the pieces and fill in the gaps.

The end result: ROBO RUDDER.

Robo-Rudder in all its glory. Note, the top right bolt had to be removed because it was catching on the bulkhead that supports the rudder. It was a very tight fitting space and we were lucky to find a solution that solidly put the arm back together.

Departure from Ecuador and 1001 Projects


Our last days in Bahia Caraquez, Ecuador. Aldebaran is at the end of the rainbow (on the far right)!

The engine alarm on our sailboat Aldebaran went off as we went around the rivermouth of Bahia Caraquez, in just 7 feet of water: Brrrreeeehhhhh!!!!! One glance at the engine gauges showed me it was overheating. What?!?

I shut down the engine. It was a terrible spot to be adrift: downwind just 200 yards was the beach with little waves, and to boot, the tide would start dropping soon.

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New Cockpit Roof!

img_6606Ahh the tropics. So wonderful with their crystal clear warm waters. But there’s also lots rain and terrible heat. And ironically, it is hard to fill your water tank when there are no docks to drive your boat to. Here’s how we are trying to solve all these problems on our sailboat Aldebaran, with one new item: the bimini hard top (aka our new roof).

And we’re departing today! Follow our 5 day passage to Galapagos on Facebook

(If you’re here later, see our sat messenger)

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How Aldebaran was on front cover of a magazine in 1979

Magazine articleTo subscribe to this blog by email, click here.  In a scraggly photocopy in a binder with the boat’s documentation, I saw an article from the previous owner, Bob McMahan, about flying the spinnaker on a trimaran.

“Wow.” I thought, “He was really into it!” I searched for Bob, to no avail.



Fast forward to our Santa Barbara Yacht Club talk, early this January.

Guess who shows up at the talk?  Bob and wife Jackie, the previous owners of Aldebaran, who had received the notice from the club, and recognized the ship in the photos: “that’s our old boat!”

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Billy Sparrow and Tranquility


Receiving “Tranquility” in Costa Rica, courtesy of one of our crew-couriers

Let me introduce this book with a recollection. It was my first trip, my first sailboat, year ’04. We barely crawled into SB harbor after a troubled passage from Long Beach with a smoking gas engine, ripping sails, and dry-heaving crew. I called a guy who had fixed my van “bro-style” a few year before – I knew he was a boat mechanic – and begged for his help.

That’s how I met “Billy Sparrow”.

With a knowing eye Billy glanced at the sorry state of my vessel, a 29ft Columbia, which I had bought sight unseen with zero boating experience, under the foolhardy impression one could just sail her north around Point Conception to Morro Bay. Most professional mechanics would walk away at this point with a sad dismissal.

Billy helped us get the boat in shape to get to Morro Bay in one piece

Billy helped us get the boat in shape to get to Morro Bay in one piece

Luckily, I had a beautiful Amazonian-brunette crew lady aboard with me, and she walked out the companionway extending her powerful feminine physique. This caught the eye of the irrepressible Billy, and kept him around long enough to hear my story, and share a bit of his.

Perhaps due to a mix of compassion and passion, he yielded. “Bro, I’m going to help you. This reminds me of myself. My maiden cruise was also trial by fire. Literally dude- my wooden boat caught on fire, I ran aground three horrible times, got taken out by waves, everything that could go wrong went wrong. You’re doing it man. We’ll get you to Morro Bay.”

Ahhh.. the alure of the sea

Ahhh.. the alure of the sea

Eleven years later, I get a copy of his book in the mail, relating the details of his maiden cruise.

As an adventure tale of youthful reckless-ness, there is none better, set amid the scenic and wild waters of the Pacific Northwest. As a story of overcoming hardship, perseverance, and accepting the power of things beyond our control, it has universal value and literary power. It is a transformative tale for everyone to read; to vicariously experience the wisdom of seeing ‘the struggle as the blessing’; and ultimately, to go for it.

Want to check it out?  Order Tranquility: A Memoir of an American Sailor by Billy Sparrow directly through their publisher, Inland Waters Press, and enjoy!

Mast off, Mast on


Seemed like the blink of an eye… Our 45ft mast was removed by a crane on Wednesday, and then it was re-installed the following Wednesday.

This was our last big project and I felt some anxiety and excitement seeing the wood spar lift into the air.

Our rigger Ian Weedman is a good friend who trained with some of best riggers in the world in the Pacific North West. Between working on sailboats in Portland and treehouses in Puget Sound, we finally carved out a few days for him to re-do our standing rigging.

Screen shot 2015-03-12 at 6.26.00 AM

Ian is a real joy to work with! Meticulous, down to earth, accommodating, and exceptional in all regards.  If you need any type of rigging work done (or treehouses, for that matter), message him at iweedman at yahoo dot com. Particularly if you’re in the Santa Barbara area, we’re trying to keep him more local 😉

It WAS hard to throw down $3000 on rigging (the wire that holds up the mast and turnbuckles/chainplates, the hardware that holds it to the boat). Awful expensive just for a regular maintenance item.  But this is essential work needed before a multi-year cruise, especially if the rigging is over 10 years old. Shiny new metal = serious confidence + reliability for 10 more years.

Screen shot 2015-03-12 at 6.38.08 AM

List of things we did to the mast & rig:

  • new standing rigging (wires)
  • new chainplates
  • new turnbuckles & terminals
  • new mast steps (the old ones kept getting snagged on the lines!)
  • new mount for anchor light on masthead
  • repaired a section of rot on the foot of the mast — the drain wasn’t working and water was building up.
  • fixed the wire conduits to the radar, flood lights, and anchor lights
  • re-connected and re-painted the radar mount
  • replaced a few old bolts in the rigging
  • varnished the base of mast and boom… looking lovely!

Check out the re-install of the mast here (15sec video) and browse through our Instagram pics.

“she looks like a sailboat again!”

new sail

… if only for an hour while we’re still attached to the dock!  Nice to see the sail flying again. This is our “reacher” — a big sail for lighter winds.  Getting ready for the tropics yeehaaa!!

Ian Weedman our awesome rigger and friend is checking out the sails, and is pulling the mast down to change all the standing rigging this weekend (the wires that hold the mast up).

The clock is ticking… and the boat is still in pieces!  It’s getting down to the wire (pun intended)

We’re trying to recruit all our friends to help this weekend to put the boat together… come to Ventura to lend a hand, whoever can!

The final month has arrived! along with our sweet Constellation graphic.


The constellation is on the boat – Orion on the left, Taurus on the right, with Aldebaran shining red.

Our mid-March departure date is just around the corner… we are doing a farewell party and boat visit on the 14th or 15th (assuming we can get a slip in the busy Santa Barbara harbor).

The boat may not be ready — but our awesome constellation graphic is, at the very least!  It perks up our morale and helps us with this last two week push to get Aldebaran ready.

Bret installing the graphics

Bret Campbell from Well Seen Signs is one of our Early Seabirds — he and partner Jessica will be participating in the Green Coconut Run.

“What does your boat name mean?”  People kept asking — so we designed these constellation graphics to put it into context.

Orion the archer is on the left, featuring three stars in a row which make “Orion’s Belt”, which you can easily spot in the sky between autumn and winter (in the spring and summer, Orion rises later in the dawn).

Taurus the bull is on the right, with Aldebaran shining orange/red, which are its distinctive colors in the sky. The head of Taurus stands out as a big “V” shape, with Aldebaran on the top left as the eye of the bull. Further to the right is a cluster of stars called the Pleiades, also known as the seven sisters or the “mini-dipper”, which happens to be Subaru’s logo.

One of the greek myths says that Orion was seducing the seven sisters, so Zeus put Taurus to protect the seven sisters from Orion’s advances..!  Another story says that Orion is saving the seven sisters from Taurus. Take your pick. Love is complex.

Also: when you’re looking up at the sky, also try to find Orion’s dog, which is to his left. It is the constellation known as Canis Major, featuring the brightest star in the sky, Sirius (not pictured in our constellation graphic).

So if you can spot Orion’s Belt in the starry night, follow it to Aldebaran on one side, the Pleides further to the right, or Sirius the dog on Orion’s left side.



Who made our awesome lettering and constellation graphic? Check out Bret Campbell’s sign-making business, based in SLO county: Well Seen Signs. He did it all remotely and mailed us the graphics, which were super easy to apply. Our lettering lasted years, and was significantly cheaper than yacht lettering.

Randomly, Bret and I first met at a friend’s BBQ in Santa Cruz; we decided to trade some lettering for sailing time in the Channel Islands, and now we’ve become good friends. His girlfriend Jessica also runs a green building company in SLO and is equally stellar.

They’ve done the 2hr drive to Ventura twice during the last few months to spend the weekend with us and do some serious work on the boat.  Huge props to them!  They plan to join us in the Green Coconut Run for 2 weeks in Costa Rica.

A productive Sunday – spirits are high!

This is the kind of day we need!

The great “Aldebaran fix-up campaign” celebrates when we manage to get 1 project done…. On Sunday we got 5!

This comes on the heels of a rainy Saturday when everything ground to a halt.. But the crew of Ed, Matt, and Conrad rallied for the early shift, and Dominic on the late shift.

The fellas helped install
— our NEW garmin chartplotter fishfinder, which looks AMAZING
— the battery compartment separators for our new electrician bank
— the bow pulpit
— the port jib track; and

Trimarans inspiration from around the world

Is Aldebaran the only trimaran out there? As you can see, they come in all shapes and sizes! The L’Hydroptere and Sea Shepherd were in Los Angeles harbor last year when we were visiting Catalina. Our early seabird Klaus sent us the pic of the trimaran on the beach in Hawaii.

Funding success! Trip is on!

In an awesome show of collective support, the Aldebaran crew raked in $35,000 to fulfill the “essential budget” for the boat —- allowing us to green light the Green Coconut Run for departure this March!!

Over 30 crew signed up as “Early SeaBirds” to get time onboard the voyage during different legs. Many of those are doing work trade on the boat to help reduce our costs. Check out some of the crew bios in our Facebook page.

On January 19 we splashed the boat back in the water — it is so good to be afloat again! We continue to reside in the Ventura Harbor, just 100 yards from the Boatyard.. we haven’t moved far! But it is a start.

There is still piles of work to do by March — reinstalling all the bow hardware, installing solar panels, and building our battery compartment. It is truly intimidating but we are pushing ahead with the plans.

What is the Green Coconut Run?


Artist’s image of Bora Bora, Tahiti. Photo Credit: pubpages.unh.edu

The Coconut Milk Run is the popular tradewind route that sailors like to take across the South Seas, going downwind along dreamy islands… what could be better?

The Green Coconut Run !  It’s like the dream route above but it follows amazing protected areas from California to the South Seas.  By documenting the journey, we want to help establish the route, so that other sailors and travelers can visit and help support these remote, spectacular places – marine reserves, Biosphere Reserves, World Heritage sites, and other locally protected areas.

fiji from air

Fiji from the air. Photo credit: unknown

“What’s the big deal with islands?” you ask. The Galapagos Islands are a classic example of the qualities that I cherish in islands: animals and plants found nowhere else on Earth, astounding landscapes, and captivating culture & history!  Some of these places are fading… some of them are thriving… all of them are worth seeing and supporting for the unique role they play in Nature and humanity.


Galapagos scenery. Photo credit: cntraveller.com

After years of planning, cruising sailors (like us!) go to the most far-flung islands. We see them, enjoy them, and leave. Can cruisers do more for these fragile places that they find so inspiring?  Who are the heroes preserving these places, and helping the quality of life for locals? Can we bring them mainstream awareness and support?

In Green Coconut Run we are searching for the success stories of ecological come-back. Like the elephant seal, grey whale, and others that came back from near extinction, there are remarkable tales of how life can blossom once again. We hope to learn about smart restoration and protection, qualities that the world needs now; to protect the fragile ecosystems that bring the Earth and humanity so much value.

The Green Coconut Run is run by the Aldebaran Sailing Cooperative — a group of scientists, artists, and adventurers, collectively funding this voyage. Come and join us aboard or from afar!

Green Coconut Promo 2014-12-27

How elephant seals came back: the secret of Guadalupe Island


elephant seals near San Simeon, CA

Ever driven along Hwy 1 in California and stopped to look at the elephant seals near San Simeon and Carmel? Huge, phenomenal, gross, disgusting, and fantastic!

One would never imagine they were declared extinct in the 1880s due to over hunting. And that they bounced back against all oddsHang on– extinct? That would mean they would be gone.  There would be none here. How do we see so many on the webcam right now?


a historical photo from alaska

Their secret lies in an island 200 miles offshore of Baja: Isla Guadalupe, more reknown for diving with great white sharks than anything else.

great white shark at guadalupe island

The magic of the come-back.  This is why we’re doing the Green Coconut Run, and not just a traditional cruise. We want to learn about how it’s possible, in our frenetic world of resource consumption, to see nature thrive once again.

map of guadalupe oldIsla Guadalupe will be one of our first stops in the Green Coconut Run, sailing 3 days from Ensenada, in the middle of the ocean. Few boats go out there –mostly, exclusive dive charter boats.

It’ll be in the middle of our 1 month Baja leg, from Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas, starting mid-March.


What’s the Green Coconut Run?  Read more about it in this post.

Boating meets Art ! Our Parade of lights experiments

Our fantastic mermaids Sarah and Sabrina kept the fisherman trying to catch them all night!

Our fantastic mermaids Sarah and Sabrina kept the fisherman trying to catch them all night!

Last year we did the semi-impossible: in a matter of 4 days, we decided to join the Xmas Parade of Lights with Aldebaran and won Grand Prize.

This year, we wanted to raise the bar even higher. We put on a fantastic show. We lost. But here’s the story of why we ultimately won.

Jason the fisherman was catching the mermaids at the bow

Jason the fisherman trying to catch the mermaids at the bow with a lighted pole

Black Rock City, Nevada. The art cars at Burning Man blew our minds! We are driving back from the desert feeling horribly dusty and utterly inspired. “Let’s make an Art Boat for the parade of lights!!” we decided.

Santa Barbara, California. We had ambitions to build a big Pygmy Mammoth on the boat, since the theme was originally Jungle Love — but when the theme shifted to Gone Fishing, we took some liberties, and decided to Go Phishing!

The great jam band Phish had just played at the Santa Barbara bowl and we loved their famous cover of 2001 Space Odyssey — so we called our boat the “2015 Ocean Odyssey”, and set about making a big party.

Photo: Lara Cooper / Noozhawk. Okiva in her lit up glory!

Photo: Lara Cooper / Noozhawk. Okiva in her lit up glory!

Our fine ship Aldebaran was stuck in the boatyard due to delays… bummed!  Good news, we recruited our good friend Spencer to use his iconic cruising boat, the 41ft “Okiva”.

The Idea. The lighting master Coronel Mango had a vision: blue and greens creating an underwater scene on deck, with contrasting red lights on the hull, and green laser like a phosphorescence trail off the back. Captain Spencer wanted a fisherman aloft, and we wanted mermaids. Voilá!  Nothing like the usual Christmas string of lights — we wanted to put on a SHOW.

The installation. The night before the parade, we had a last minute stroke of insight: let’s blast white work lights during the song’s epic climaxes, controlled by simple power strip plugs!  Super caveman style, as the Coronel described it, but he was willing to try.

The parade. The morning of the parade, we put up the 25+ spotlights, and without dry running once, set off at sunset to join the parade. While navigating the chaos afloat, we tried our “caveman” setup — it was worse than we thought. The coronel had to stand next to the generators, inhaling exhaust fumes, not being able to hear the music over their deafening noise. I had to signal to him from on deck when to flip the switches! Believe me, this was not simple amidst the mayhem.

Somehow we pulled it off. A video from a friend’s iPhone was pretty amazing.  (We’ll post it here in a day or two, come back to see it)

The results.  We ended up winning second place in the sailboat division. We all had an absolute blast, thrilled a lot of people, and brought serious joy into the the night. We felt like winners in our minds… Plus, our boat made front page of the paper!! Hurray to the merger of boating and art!

2013 grand prize winner Aldebaran! Dressed up as a James Brown Funky Christmans show.

Photo: Ronald Williams.  2013 grand prize winner Aldebaran! Dressed up as a James Brown Funky Christmans show.

Confucius say: If one harvests too much Stoke, must pay Consequences

“We had too much stoke!” Ryan declared. “All those amazing times — now we’re paying for it! In this never-ending boatyard purgatory”

We sat exhausted on the cockpit bench after 4 hours of grinding and cutting wood.  I just nodded, entering that numb phase of week 3 in the boatyard.  “Everything takes five times longer than you think — nothing is square. The only thing that goes down easy is C minus,” he mused as he took a swig.


Danielle and Sabrina put together some sweet floorboards for the pantry, aka “The Cavern”


Tom, the “Yard-Father”, doesn’t look all too pleased. “Why do you have so much weight on this boat? Why do you keep hitting stuff?” Tom frowns and shakes his head. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

South African Lloyd surveys a 45 year old piece of bronze. The shaft goes through this “log” the seal finally broke when we ran over and backed up into a lobster trap. 


During a rainy day we managed to paint.  Sabrina Littée, otherwise known during projects as “Qualitée control”


Ninja kick late bodysurfing session at the harbor beachbreak — the daily surf session has been keeping us sane. 


Our 238lbs shipment from Westmarine, with giant savings thanks to a handsome employee discount. New toilet, new porta-potty, 5 gallons of paint, 500 feet of anchor line, and a whole lot more!


Michael and Jack were troopers and helped sand the bottom paint — we all got the “blues”!  


Jason’s son Kai in the Cavern (aka the pantry). His little grommet size came in handy when installing the floorboards


Sean cleaning out all the bad wood in the bow, with precision !


Note the gigantic hole on the bow… 2 gallons of water were stuck in the collision bulkhead (due to bad caulking of deck hardware on the bow) and suddenly delaminated the side of the bow.  One of those surprises makes light of the typical boatyard “two steps forward, one step back”, in this case, many steps back!  We don wetsuits for the evening bodysurf to freshen up. 


 Sabrina got a scare at the end of this session — a huge thing came swimming and breaching right next to her when it was getting dark and everyone had gone in.  It was a little humpback whale!  It continued to breach without stop for several minutes. 

The universe has dealt too kind a hand with our island stoke and now we are paying the dues… working non-stop in the most unkindly of environments… but as you can see all is not lost… we are making the most of our time here in Ventura Harbor. Meanwhile, Aldebaran is loving all the attention.

Haul Out Ventura: the first big push


This may be Aldebaran’s fifth (!) haul out in five years, but it is the first when we have a big trip imminently possible — with a potential March departure, the stakes are high to get things done fast!

It is a Love-Hate relationship with the yard. It is fantastic to get so much done, but it is so much gruelling work, in such a rough environment. On top of it all, Sabrina and I are living at the yard, to compound the fun!

Termites be-gone!

Termites be-gone!

Our first task was to tent the boat to rid of termites. It’s super common for boats in Oxnard (where Aldebaran lived for many years) to have termites — it never was a terrible problem because most of the wood is too hard & treated for termites, but in areas they were doing damage and it had to be stopped..  We used Ventura Pest Control and it was $750, 3 days of tenting. The hardest part was packing all the “ingestibles” (food, medicine) into special double bags — our storage in Aldebaran is in deep corners and hard to reach!

The great shelf building frenzy!

The great shelf building frenzy!

Which brings us to our next items:

The problem of where to put stuff… ah.  We are building shelves at a furious pace to organize gear; increasing access to storage areas in the amas; and generally customizing everything to have its own special home.  Which takes awhile when you have no clue about carpentry!

Removing all the hardwear from the foredeck

Removing all the hardwear from the foredeck

Finally, one of the big jobs we have during this haul out: re-furbishing our whole foredeck area. The windlass needs to get re-machined and re-painted, the bow rollers need new support, and the forestay chainplate needs to get removed (god knows how that’ll happen).  One step at a time, we are making her like new again, and stronger than ever…

Thanksgiving letter: how the Green Coconut Run came to be


May 2006. Sailing south from Morro Bay on my first boat, the Tabula Raza, a 29ft Columbia monohull.

 While getting my ass thoroughly whooped in a little monohull around Point Conception about 10 years ago, I wondered: “How hard can this be? I can sail this little cork all the way to the South Pacific!”

But as I plunged into the crazy business of boat prep, I discovered that it is a huge undertaking. Particularly when I had the bright idea to buy a big ol’ trimaran!
Over the years, the dream seemed to crumble under the weight of its monumental implications.
Dreams, however, have their own magic and timing. Behind the scenes, a hidden transformation was occurring…
Cabin Dinner

February 2013. Dinner aboard Aldebaran at Ladies Harbor.

Sailing became about sharing. During our trips to the Channel Islands in the last two years, I heard a constant refrain from the many friends who joined us:
“That was the best weekend of this whole year for me”.
People were shining… re-energized, feeling a deep connection, we became a floating family enjoying great meals and moments.
Off-the-grid, fully present with each other, alive in Nature’s unceasing majesty, we returned to the harbor every time like new people.
I realized something special was happening. Somewhere along the way,  the informal Aldebaran Sailing Cooperative turned from a way to subsidize the boat into a service for our community of friends.
Keeping it alive became an amazing gift to ourselves, and that has become my work and passion.
Re-igniting the vision of a trans-oceanic voyage was a big step I wasn’t prepared to take alone. A number of crew encouraged — no, gently insisted — that it happen. “What’s it going to take?” they asked.
If the Channel Islands are so fantastic, why not take this singular chance in our lives and go farther..?  We put it out to the group, to see if this is part of our collective dream.  It is appears it is.
Our first round of fundraising has been awesome – 14 friends and fellow ocean-lovers have pledged to participate as Trip Partners and Early SeaBirds on the trip.
This is a great responsibility and honor. It apexes on the boat, which is now its own entity, and I no longer just “the owner”. Instead, like a community plot of land, I have become the Steward, and everyone who is participating, its Trustees.
The trip has a mission, our way to give back and have fun. It is called the Green Coconut Run, a route along remote protected areas, from California to New Zealand, which will become a Travel Guide so others can visit & support these unique islands and their conservation efforts.
Aldebaran Trip 11-29_cropped
We deeply thank those who have taken the leap — and we invite you to participate, in the way that fits you best, in this wonderful madness.
Giving thanks to this and much else this Thanksgiving —
(Head Honcho Steward & El Capitan)

Metamorphosis: a lot of work, a lot of play

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe great Aldebaran metamorphosis has begun.. from humble local island explorer to transoceanic craft… so you ask, what’s Team Transition been doing?

Just in time for that first Halloween cold spell, Sabrina and Kristian moved out of their comfortable pad in Mission street (ok, err.. they got kicked out by the landlord.. details, details) and are now full time aboard.

The harbor charges double after 2 weeks, so we had to skip town… Aldebaran set sail for Rosa and Miguel on Monday morning. Soon we realized Jimmy Ryguy had snuck aboard at 3:30 am as a “STOWAWAY”.



He paid his dues making gourmet pasta and hunting uni like a japanese savage. Meanwhile we got blessed with some of the most beautiful surf and diving we could want.. Ah the joys of having no permanent slip !


My favorite is to work at anchor… we did some fixes to the windlass bolt (which need refurbishing badly), net sewing (same), solenoid cleaning (might live a little longer). The newest addition to the boat, courtesy of Roach Refurbished Rides: Candycane the 5’10 dynamite 80s board, got her new deck pad.



Since we were already way out there… we snuck into el rancho for a few days, with Adam Jersey Roach himself and friends, which required some major beach launching maneuvers, but paid off with clean and silky waves; tell me about it!

Sarah escaped to visit us for a longboard session and made an epic Roasted Veggie soup… in short time she discovered we had a propane leak. Dang girl I’m glad for your fine-tuned olfactory senses,


Thus upon return we spent the last 2 days wrestling the stove and propane lines out of their hibernated locations, replacing the failed hoses. While our galley was a total disaster zone, we thought, hey, let’s make it a total catastrophe and change our fresh water plumbing. So now we have all new hoses to the sinks for clean drinking when we are cruising soooouuuuth~!


AND tomorrow’s big news: installing a fridge! And hopefully getting confirmation on our haul out on Friday… ready the troops… work may get real soon.

The C hotties charge (and get conquered by) Santa Rosa

The C Hotties


The ladies called themselves the C hotties (in part, because they are all nurses at a local establishment starting with that letter). Turns out their skills came in handy, sadly.

Sabrina took an over-the-falls wipeout surfing and got nailed on the board on day #2 (after all, it WAS way overhead and elephant seals were attacking her!)  She was in terrible pain and held on like a trooper till we sailed back to the ER. Fortunately, one CT and MRI later revealed it was simply a really aweful muscle contusion, and would heal in a month.

On Day #1 we had a hike through the fantastic rock sculptered Lobo Canyon and sailed around to Johnson’s Lee. On Day #2, after the fateful surfing expedition, the ladies (minus Sab) went kayaking in fearful Painted Cave, and spent the night in blissful Ladies Harbor.


Awesome formations sculpted by wind and water at Lobo Canyon

Awesome formations sculpted by wind and water at Lobo Canyon

Making the most of the calm conditions on the north side of Rosa to access Lobo

Making the most of the calm conditions on the north side of Rosa to access Lobo


Swell hitting the island

Swell hitting the island

Full Moon rise looking east to Santa Cruz island

Full Moon rise looking east to Santa Cruz island

Sabrina icing her back with frozen soup ;-(

Sabrina icing her back with frozen soup ;-


Sunset heading to Johnson's Lee

Sequoia and the International Rescue Group

Here’s a chance to join a fantastic sailboat in the East Coast- from Connecticut to Cuba. They are doing humanitarian work in Haiti with sailboats, called International Rescue Group. The captain, Sequoia, was one of Aldebaran’s "guardian angels" during our first haul-out… A time of great tribulation. Sequoia showed us the ropes of fiberglassing, and when he realized how hopelessly over-our-heads we were, stuck around and rebuilt our transom (the back of the boat) where it was rotting. Big shout out to Sequoia!

On Monday, October 20, 2014, Sequoia Sun <sunsequoia> wrote:


Just a short note and update of our status, progress and plans.

Tandemeer is in Connecticut at a dock in a beautiful location, new transmission, starter motor and main shaft bearing working well, sails back on after being repaired at a loft, with several crew living aboard and working on boat restoration and refitting projects every day. It is going well.

We sail or work on the boat on weekends and enjoy hosting visitors, volunteers and new crew every week. Volunteers to work on the boat and donations to support the mission are always welcome.

Plans are to sail south at the end of November to Florida for December, then the Bahamas in January, then on to Haiti to deliver cargo and lend a hand in February, and then cruising around Cuba in March and April … with 10 berths we have room if you would like to join the crew 😉

Stay in touch and follow us on our new website at http://www.tandemeer.org or
Like us on the new Tandemeer Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/tandemeer,

Also we have a new Meetup group here in the NY and CT area, so please join if you might like to come to parties and events in this area:


Here is a link to an article published online recently about the IRG voyage to Haiti earlier this year:


Below is a newsletter from International Rescue Group Executive Director Ray Thackeray on board lead vessel Thunderbird 5.

I look forward to sailing with you, especially in the Bahamas or Caribbean this winter. Let me know if you might like to join us for a week or more.

Wishing you a gorgeous fall and beautiful winter,

Fair winds,

Sequoia Sun
Captain s/v Tandemeer


International Rescue Group
a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation
Providing support, medical and humanitarian aid to disaster-hit coastal communities.

This summer so far has been very quiet in the Caribbean, hurricanes have been more destructive on the Pacific coast of Mexico. IRG’s Caribbean Fleet includes two sailing ketches with volunteer crews and both vessels are on standby. Thunderbird 5 is in Florida, and Tandemeer is presently being refitted for this winter’s season in Connecticut, rejoining the fleet in Florida in a few weeks. Both these boats are able to take volunteer medical crews, supplies and watermakers to help in humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions. There are also a number of IRG Reserve captains and boats who have pledged their help in emergency.
Aerialshot.jpg?width=350Join us for a great adventure! We are taking Thunderbird 5 out on a 13-week Caribbean Adventure Charter cruise to help pay for her humanitarian aid missions. We’ll be dropping off much needed medical and other supplies to two orphanages in Haiti and continuing on a fantastic Caribbean Island voyage from the Bahamas all the way south to Trinidad. Sail date from Miami, Florida is December 7th and arrival in Trinidad is March 8th. Click here to find out more.
Tandemeer, our 56′ Nautical Development ketch, is docked at a beautiful cove in Norwalk, Connecticut while she is being refitted and prepared for her voyage south to Florida in November. There is a lot to do to make her ready for the voyage south so we are assembling crew and working on the boat every day. If you are in the nearby tri-state area, or would like to come and visit for a week or a month to help us work on the boat, prepare for the voyage, or join the crew, or perhaps join us for a charter in Florida, the Bahamas, Haiti or the Caribbean this winter, please visit Tandemeer’s new website or post a message for Captain Sequoia on the IRG website. Here are a couple of photos from last weekend enjoying a day sailing on the boat in our web album of photos.
Trojan donated a very much needed bank to replace Thunderbird 5’s aging batteries, thank you Trojan! Now we have the big job of modifying the battery box in the engine room to accommodate these bigger and more powerful batteries.
Our planning for resources in disaster relief is coming along. We are working on a fundraising campaign to acquire two IEHKs (Interagency Emergency Healthcare Kits) designed by the WHO and UN, which provide enough medical supplies to allow a doctor and nurse to treat a post-disaster community of 10,000 people for 3 months – call it a field hospital… We would like to pre-position one for each of our boats in the Caribbean area ready for action when an emergency calls.
We are also working on obtaining a fuel bunker vessel capable of transporting 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel to power our fleet in action. This will allow continuous operation of our generators and watermakers to help alleviate two major problems after disaster strikes – predictable power and water for survivors.

Visit International Rescue Group at: http://members.internationalrescuegroup.org/?xg_source=msg_mes_network

To control which emails you receive on International Rescue Group, click here