Been sheltered in place in Santa Clara County, California, USA, to date a total of 14 weeks; family continues to be well and safe, lots of victory gardening in our edibles plot, and grinding away at projects that didn’t get purged before the Grand Canyon.
Casa de Lance has been sold, as has Mirthmaker the sailboat, the Jeep is under the knife, the F350 XLT truck is getting prepped for sale, and am undergoing yet another purge and trip reset to adapt to COVID-19 uncertainty.
Recently found myself bamboozled after allowing lust and expectations to wander, then quickly ejected with a pang of jealousy for the first time ever. It’s really done a lot to fire up motivation and get hyper-focused on certain priorities, in particular to keep moving along.
As the ‘ol adage rings true, most problems can be solved with a very long bike ride. Thus, as part of the trip reset am pivoting to venture out again with a rather ultralight modus operandi: motorbike. At the moment there appear to be 2 scenarios: first is to ride originating from within and only the domestic US (due to land border closures) on perhaps a cruiser or street bike, otherwise second, if able to try for the southern hemisphere eclipse, would likely fly to Chile before the end of 2020 and acquire a bike there for the return trip adventure.
Have a look at this montage below and feel inspired:
Learned an African proverb to keep in mind: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Earning those turns mountain biking in Soquel Demo Forest, deep in the Santa Cruz mountains of California. The flow trail is a network of spectacular descent sections, in what feels like an endless carve into the forest; the trail just keeps going and yet another berm beckons. POV shot with a GoPro7 chesty on a 27.5″ wheel Cannondale Jekyll.
The adventure continues for a pair of east bay brothers. Mirthmaker’s original port of registry is Berkeley, CA where she’ll eventually make her homecoming voyage.
1979 J/24 manufactured in San Rafael, CA USA by Performance Sailcraft (Don Trask)
Learning to sail on the SF Bay was a handful of logistics and effort, and my key would be a lane splitting motorcycle. During the first beer can sailing season (informal racing, where skippers and available crew pair up, hence the crew bringing along the beer), my friend and i would meet at Coyote Point Yacht Club. Skippers meeting start at 17:00 with boats out of the marina in an hour, rounding the mark and cruising back at 20:00 facing the sunset. It was a wonderful feeling sitting on the rail of the lead boat, squinting into the sunset and tossing back a cool amber.
The following winter, my friend and i would be come boat partner after going in together on Mirthmaker, a 1979 J24 manufactured by Performance Sailcraft in San Rafael, CA and begin the process of baselining her systems for her maiden voyage.
The boat was docked north of SFO airport, now much further north than Coyote Point, and i would continue to come from the South Bay. During the summer season on work days, i would hustle all day at the factory and be out on the moto jamming north. My preferred route was straight up the 85 until it hit the 101 forming a double carpool lane next to an inch of shoulder and concrete center divide. Thus #moto2sail became the modus of getting hours on the water through many sunset cruises.
If flowing normally without any accidents, northbound 101 during rush hour backs up to a crawl in precisely 2 spots before reaching SFO, just south of the 84, and again just south of the 91. Lane splitting in the carpool lane nowadays involves splitting with pearly white shuttle buses and silent electric vehicles. There’s really only just off the paint to ride and split in these gridlock sections, so running a 10mph delta or so, slightly weaving to indicate depth and speed in car mirrors, and definitely dropped down a gear and ready to chop the throttle, is how i like to filter through. Aftermarket pipes for sure on the street. (LeoVince titanium high-mount on the v-twin SVeetfighter.)
The advantage of a moto and lane splitting (only in California my friends; and now most recently Utah) manifested #moto2sail, where i’d already have stored sailing attire (boat shoes, polyester slacks, PFD, foul weather suit) below deck and ready to go. Then toss my helmet, jacket, and riding gear into the dock box and we’d be ready to push off as thankfully, my partner was coming from San Bruno and took care of much of the preparation like selecting and fastening the jib and running her sheets; he’d also have the snacks and drinks on board after scooping them up in his car. (On weekend sails, i would reciprocate for sure.)
It’s the only means of getting to the boat by 18:00, on the water sailing and training our points of sail, then cruising back towards the setting sun after 20:00. Unless you know someone with a helicopter. And lastly, the home run up our channel was always a reliable upwind effort, to bookend each and every outing, because we’d be trying to point as high as possible and even tack through the channel on motor and main sail.
On Mirthmaker we ran a lightweight Mercury 3.5hp outboard, bolted to the transom mount and slightly offset of the rudder to the port side. With her shaft dropped in the water and in the lowest position, the hull would sometimes heel over enough on strong port tacks to pull the motor’s impeller out of the water. Especially when weight distribution consisted of just 2 sailors on the boat with one was towards the front working with the jib.
Above all, boat ownership solidified a boat partnership, which are unspoken responsibilities to partners having each others backs while at sea. The loyalty easily extends to land and family.
Installing Sky’s Off-road front RSK kit, while reusing factory front leaf springs.
RSK for reverse shackle kit, moves the shackle from the original front hanger position, to the rear of the leaf spring.
The kit includes a new crossmember that ties the frame to the new front spring hangers. It mounts uses existing frame holes and requires drilling once the shackle angle and leaf spring positions are set.
Using the stock rear spring hanger and new shackle, will net 2.5″ of front lift.
To minimize suspension lift, cut and redrill the factory spring hanger of the front leaf spring.
Explaining RV site hook-ups for Casa de Lance utilities at a site in Loreto, Baja California Sur. Filmed by a campgroundmate from Quebec City, Montreal Canada.
Cleaning solar panels; hooking up shore power on site, fresh water hose inlet (also known as city water inlet), and sewer hose drain out and explanation of holding tanks and dump valves; on-board air compressor to air up tires and inspecting rig coming off a desert trail. Opening scene filmed by my kiteboard instructor Ryan, and also pro cameraman & director of photography.
Bill of Materials (including affiliate links) to build similarly:
Water pump blew up in Death Valley on the eastbound climb up Towne Pass, shortly after taking off and not getting far from Panamint Springs up the 3500′ ascent.
The bearings went out, nearly completely apart, but wonky enough the shaft slung coolant all up under the hood by the engine fan draft. Before the truck overheated, was able to turn it around on a section of state route 190 along the climb. Coasted back down the hill to Panamint Springs, where I caught a ride from one of the proprietors to the nearest town of Lone Pine. Luckily the pump failed when and where it did, because within just 50 miles prior, was venturing at a mobbing pace along the south pass trail from Saline Valley.
Once in Lone Pine, was able to purchase a new water pump unit (p/n 45000) from the Auto Parts store, along with specialty tools like a pulley holder (p/n 3900) and 47mm wrench (p/n 3473) helpful to change the pump. Also purchased 5 more gallons of everything they had of pre-mixed engine coolant formulated for diesel engines.
When completing the water pump replacement and reattaching the fan clutch, it helps to use a strap or belt to suspend the fan and fan clutch assembly in order to start the 47mm nut. It’s a tight squeeze between the radiator, fan shroud, and front of the engine, that one slip and fumble of the fan could easily ruin the day for the radiator.
Featuring Marcos and Natacha’s unimog rig. Macros, a firefighter and supertanker pilot, possess a incredible amount of charisma and energy, as we met on Superbowl Sunday at a campground in Loreto, BCS. The following day, he took me up on introducing and walking through his rig to feature on my YouTube Channel and Overlander Series.
Table of Contents: 0:00 Owner and rig introduction 06:50 Exterior overview 10:34 Habitat interior (by Global X Vehicles) 14:29 Wet-bath preview 16:46 Cab & pilot controls 20:47 Custom, hydraulic motorcycle rack loader 21:52 Cellular booster antenna 22:40 6.3L diesel motor start and drive
El Conejo Beach for Christmas 2019. Spent the week at this Pacific break with a community of gringo surfers that have been coming on an annual basis for dozens of years. One afternoon, received a knock on the door of Casa de Lance, to greet some of the kids at camp that crafted a hilarious pot luck invitation, where i’d show up with a bottle of Cabrito tequila reposado and a superfood salad of beets and eggplant.
Met some very interesting fellow travelers at Conejo, in particular helping to snatch a couple stuck on the beach in their motorhome. Turns out Marty is the author of the book, The Darien Gap: Travels in the Rainforest of Panama, which describes a segment of my intended journey al sol to be addressed in order to cross from Central to South America. Between Panama and Columbia lies the Darien Gap, where no roads exist and is skirting by floating vehicles in a container on a ship, or the vastly more expensive drive-on drive-off ferry for larger or longer rigs.
El Conejo has many facets, in particular the beach break featured at high tide that breaks left. To the north, is a rocky point where an arroyo fans and forms several swimming pool lagoons at low tide. Further north the beach is all rocky, and becomes a dense minefield of urchins as waves break right.
The x-mas potluck was a blast. It’s amazing to see the spread of fixings that come out of camp kitchens and campers. There were even a couple of pumpkin pies, a posole soup that had been stewing since the eve, a bunch of solar oven pastries, and of course ice cold beers. Salud y feliz navidad.
At the San Pedrito surf break much further south, would meet and become rather close to a Brazilian couple Natalie and Daniel, who were on the tail end of their overland trip from Panama to Washington state in the USA. They were traveling in a similar diesel pickup truck and Casa de Lance Squire camper fitout, and were on a mission to trace the Pacific coast throughout Central and North America for surf, and finally reach snow up in the Pacific northwest.
Daniel is certainly a ‘gun surfer’, as the Aussies say. His energy in the water seems boundless as he constantly shreds the main break all morning until it eventually blows out. Natalie shoots with a telephoto lens and drone for their Click Swell page, when she’s not soaking up the sun or swimming in the tide pools. I approached their camp with cold beers and a bottle of tequila after a surf session, and soon we were sitting around the campfire sharing stories, and saving waypoints and destinations in Central and South America.
We exchange truck camper tours, and i was duly impressed with how they utilized their space for 2 people. Their Squire also had a fundamentally different floor plan, where the dinette was below the bed and made for a true open kitchen, however that put the fridge wall adjacent to the hot stovetop. On Casa de Lance, my dinette is separated from the bed by the fridge, which adds a full ceiling to floor wall instead of an open kitchen, as the fridge is opposite the stove.
Upon meeting in San Pedrito, Natalie’s brother and wife also happened to be joining a portion of their trip since NYE. He is a Captain and commercial airline pilot based out of Chicago, Il, and was elated to escape the Midwest winter like a snowbird for a brief overlap in Baja. When i took a moment to regard him, noticed his shoulders were already peeling even for a Brazilian, as i think he was trying to absorb enough sun to last the rest of his winter. But since he’s a pilot, i imagine when he’s back in the cockpit he’s off to other worldy destinations and seasons. I certainly envy the lifestyle, and revealed to him that i’ve been reading a copy of Stick and Rudder with aspirations to eventually take to the sky. But first more 2-D sailing with a vertical wing (sailing on the SF Bay), then kiting, then perhaps sailplanes. The progression and goal is to fly on bushwheels, maybe even a seaplane.. just some wild ideas at the moment but incrementally inching towards groundschool.
Later on at the end of January 2020, would meet up with Daniel and Natalie again at El Conejo and camp together near the lighthouse. Nights, we’d cook together, share meals (Daniel brought out these spicy ‘japanese’ nuts found in some of the local Baja mini-marts, ah the crunchiness was addicting), and chill around the camp fire with the playful stray dogs.