Saturday, November 26, 2011

Solstice Ashore

We're back in San Francisco, not still in Houston. Actually, we've been back since the end of June, but we've been incredibly busy with no time for a last blog entry.

I started work at a new job on July 5th (technical writer at SilkRoad technology working on the HeartBeat product), and we immediately started looking for a place in the city. We had thought we would rent first, but rent is so high that it made sense to buy after all, and we closed on our loft in San Francisco's Mission District on my birthday at the end of August. With the art that our friends in Berkeley stored for us and the bits of furniture that family in Oregon stored, supplemented by contributions of more furniture and shopping at Ikea, Craigslist, Urban Ore, etc., we now have a very comfortable home. John gets the credit for it since he's been in charge of the home front while I've worked on deadline. We've already had two visits from friends we met while we were out cruising, and we hope more will find time to see us in San Francisco.

View from the top of the stairs

Living room


John's office (behind the bookcase wall)

Loft bedroom & Shirlee's office

View from balcony to street

Solstice arrived safely at Berkeley Marine Center in June too, thanks to our trucker, Wayne Harris of Riverside Marine Transport Inc. Solstice was his third Sceptre, so he knew exactly what was needed. We enjoyed the drive cross country in our new-to-us Hyundai Elantra and didn't worry about the boat at all. The highlight of that trip was driving through Yosemite. Oddly, we'd never been before, and it was every bit as spectacular as everyone says (though John did remind me that Tracy Arm in Alaska was pretty awesome too).

Solstice having the mast pulled

Loading her on the truck

Ready to ride

Solstice spent all summer on the hard at Berkeley Marine Center getting new bottom paint, a new boot stripe, refurnished propeller, and all new rod rigging. Much of the time was just waiting for the rods to arrive from Denmark. If you've been following along, you may remember that after we reached Barbados we received an alert from the builder that we were in danger of dismasting if we met certain conditions. It was likely that we met those conditions, but it was impossible to tell without taking the rig apart. The riggers in Houston and Berkeley both said we'd been sailing on borrowed time, and we could see the problem for ourselves too, once it was exposed. Anyway, that's now sorted, and Solstice is back in the water, at home again at Emery Cove Yacht Harbor. We still have a bit to do before we take her sailing, even around the bay, but we'll get it done soon, I hope.

We finally finished counting the miles (nautical miles) and came up with 26,100. That's port-to-port miles in a straight line and doesn't include necessary detours around capes and islands and the fact that sailboats don't go in a straight line. Just think if we'd actually sailed around the world! (The circumference is 21,600 nautical miles — I looked it up — but you can't do that in a straight line either.)

We had been saying that we visited 23 countries, not counting the U.S. Recounting this morning, it turns out it was actually 30. (I have no idea what ones we forgot to count before.) Here's the list:





Costa Rica



Cayman Islands








United Kingdom






Cape Verde Islands



St. Vincent & the Grenadines

St. Lucia


Antigua & Barbuda

Sint Maarten


It was a grand adventure, and we're both very glad that we did it when we did. We're keeping Solstice and plan to go cruising again someday. I say that this time we'll keep our land home, but among the many things we learned sailing is the fact that plans change. I'm already looking forward to traveling again, even if we have to fly to do it.

Our website is still a work in progress. We haven't finished posting photos of places and friends yet. But this puts an end to this blog, at least for now. Thanks for following along.

Shirlee Smith & John Forbes


Deirdre said...

Your land base looks lovely - enjoy! I was happy to read that you intend to go cruising again. All the best, Deirdre & Steve, SV Whitestar

Unknown said...

John I very much enjoyed your site and videos. and it sounds like yall had a great adventure and maybe we cross paths one day as I will sail south from Toronto and over to the Azores where I will settle down from the fast North America pace for a while.

SV Castelhana