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Sailing Pristine

Colin grew up as a fish. Cheyenne had a dream. Together they set off on the adventure of a lifetime.

2021—HERE WE COME! Jan 03, 2021

You don’t need reminding that 2020 brought a heap of surprises.

For the crew of Pristine, the year meant a series of unexpected pivots. We didn’t cross an ocean or frolic among the atolls as we’d planned, but like many curveballs, 2020 brought gifts to the back door even as it stole the silver out the front.

Our last days of normalcy happened in March as we finished gearing up and provisioning before setting off across the Pacific. Then they closed the Pacific.

We...

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SOMETIMES THE REAL ADVENTURE IS GETTING HOME Jul 05, 2020

Just ask Ernest Shackleton.

True, our Baja Bash didn’t involve icebergs or Southern Ocean storms, but the name of his ill-fated ship could have been the theme for our more recent journey: Endurance.

In some ways, our 800 mile trip from Cabo San Lucas to San Diego was routine for a Baja Bash: Four passages of two days each at a solid 4.7 knot average, testament to how well Colin can rock a counter-current. It was also our hardest trip to date thanks to the upwind slamming, long...

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LOVE FROM LA PAZ Mar 26, 2020

For Colin and I, the tectonic Covid-19 shift revealed itself slowly, then all at once.

We were a week away from departure for the South Pacific when Tonga closed its borders. Bummer, we thought, but we’d work around it. Then the Cook Islands followed suit, and we were sad, but a bit like Wile E. Coyote, not realizing he’d run off the cliff, continued with our preparations. Finally, three days from departure, we read the official report through rusty high school French: Polynesia...

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IT'S GO TIME! Mar 03, 2020

Even if you’re not a sailor, you’ve probably heard that a tidy boat is a safe boat.

That whole place for everything and everything in its place thing. Perhaps it sounds like a worthy ideal that’s never really needed, like the earthquake kit in your garage circa 1986 or the hand-cranked radio that came with your PBS donation. Au contraire. Anchor in the Sea of Cortez and you will quickly understand the importance of being ready for action at a...

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PUTTING THE AWE IN AWESOME Jan 13, 2020

It was my first shift of our first night passage in six months.

After umpteen hours of sailing into twenty-knots-on-the-nose, the wind had petered out and the quiet whisper of sails had given way to the mechanical chug of pistons. Thick clouds wrapped the entire sky in blackout curtains, obscuring even dots of starlight, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what I was staring at just ahead.

When I first learned to sail, I found it disconcerting that I couldn’t identify...

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EMBRACING THE BUTTERFLIES Nov 22, 2019

I call it the Losing-My-Sh*t pose.

To my knowledge, there’s no official name for the advanced yoga maneuver that involves wedging yourself between the galley and nav station, balancing on one foot and one knee while trying to achieve the extension and leverage required to scrub the impossible area under the sink. I slipped in a pool of my sweat and fell hard on my elbow—probably because of my fabulous attitude at that moment.

I’d had worked my core muscles to...

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THE CARE AND FEEDING OF HURRICANES Jun 30, 2019

Because once you how a tropical cyclone thrives, you know how to avoid one.

There are hundreds of rules for sailors, but Colin and I live by a single one that so dominates the others it deserves all caps: MOTHER NATURE IS IN CHARGE.

This means that if she doesn’t want us to sail in the direction we’d intended, we don’t, or if she warns us to stay in port, we do. But now that it’s hurricane season here in Baja, this rule ratchets up from ensuring our comfort...

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KILLER WHALES IN OUR BATHTUB Jun 03, 2019

It’s a unique experience to wake up, step in the shower, and find a razor-toothed predator.

Colin and I live a pretty clean life on Pristine, bathing every morning in the world’s biggest bathtub, scrubbing down in the cockpit, then rinsing off the salt with a spritz of fresh water. We’ve dubbed it our bird bath. Nature must approve because regimen has made for silkier hair than any grooming product I’ve ever paid ridiculous amounts of money for. 

Turns...

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“HARD TO PORT - TURTLE AT 12 O’CLOCK” May 11, 2019

The seagull standing on a rock set off alarm bells because we were supposed to be in 1500 feet of water, not in danger of hitting a pinnacle.

The binoculars came out immediately. Magnified, the rock took on the form of a big, upside-down salad bowl. Also, it was moving. 

We grinned at each other like five-year-olds handed ice cream cones. The bird spooked as we approached and took off, landing 25 feet away on another upside-down salad bowl. Beyond it was another. In the distance, one...

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SURF SUP! Mar 21, 2019

After sailing 2500 miles to find warmth and waves, it was time to break out the toys.

There’s something about taking the slow boat that improves one’s sense of geography immeasurably. Did you know Mexico is the 13th largest country in the world? There are literally 3500 miles of coastline on the Pacific side alone. You could squeeze Turkey, France, Italy, the UK, Denmark, Djibouti, Kuwait, Jamaica, Barbados, Tonga, Singapore, and Liechtenstein inside Mexico’s borders and...

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MOTHER NATURE BRINGS HER A-GAME Mar 02, 2019

The cruising life involves some hefty contrasts.

After a week surrounded by beach umbrellas and construction cranes, Colin and I sailed a mere 90 miles and arrived 9,000 years back in time at a prehistoric island dubbed the Galapagos of Mexico.

As dawn broke after an overnight passage, craggy volcanic towers rose from the deep, their contorted shapes testifying to a violent origin. Our destination sat just behind them, covered in scrubby lime trees sat the World Heritage Site of...

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MAGICAL MAZATLÁN Feb 24, 2019

A jewelry-hawking Señor Frog’s t-shirt-wearing tourist trap or a cultural, historical, and culinary paradise?

Yes, and yes.

If you have one week to build sandcastles with the kids, squeeze limes into beer, and sunburn your butt, Mazatlán has you covered. Since Colin and I lead a uniquely sun-filled life, we opted to explore the other Mazatlán, the refurbished 19th century town that grew up to support the nearby mining industry with trade and...

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SAILING THE WIDE OPEN SEA Feb 19, 2019

Well, almost.

We weren’t exactly crossing the Pacific, but Colin and I were heading from Baja to Mazatlán, a journey of roughly 200 nautical miles across the Sea of Cortez. Depending on the winds, we’d be out of sight of land for 2-3 days. If anything went awry, we could be 100 miles away from a doctor, mechanic or trained masseuse. 

We had an EPIRB, sat phone, and life raft if things went completely sideways, but we were going to be more alone than we’d yet...

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A YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY. AND VIBRANTLY. AND SPONTANEOUSLY. Jan 28, 2019

Last Christmas, the length of our to-do list would have overwhelmed Santa.

Colin and I were hip deep in selling our furniture, renting our house, prepping the boat for its new role in our lives and trying like mad to squeeze in time to see friends and family. Today, we’re waking up to our body clocks, drinking coffee in a sunny cockpit, and looking out over the quaint town of La Paz as we vaguely consider what we might do today. 

What a difference a year makes.

Of course,...

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HAVE A VERY MARIACHI CHRISTMAS Dec 25, 2018

We hope you are enjoying a very Feliz Navidad and will have quite the Prospero Año Nuevo as well.

While we really miss our beloved family and friends, we’re also enormously grateful we get to spend a very memorable holiday season in a very special place. We arrived in La Paz yesterday after being off the grid for a while, so we have a lot to catch you up on. Overall, we’ve had some challenging sailing, but also the benefits of beautiful, postcard-perfect anchorages nearly...

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RECIPE FOR APPLE PIE À LA MER Dec 01, 2018

Start with a three-day coastal passage from Ensenada to Turtle Bay, delayed by missing wind until departure falls smack on Thanksgiving.

Next, consider carefully what festive holiday dish can be made using only the ingredients you have on board, the preparation or consuming of which is not likely to cause spilling, scalding or a severed artery on passage with a forecast of 20-knots.

Realizing that flour + butter + sugar = pie crust, and along with the last of your San Diego apples you...

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BELONGING, IN SAN DIEGO Nov 15, 2018

When this sailing dream was new and fragile, I probably talked about it a little too often.

The common concerns I inevitably heard voiced—storms, rogue waves, and a variety of scenes that all led to sinking—I had carefully prepared answers for. Besides the technical marvels of satellite weather forecasts, life rafts, and EPIRBS to help ensure our survival, I truly believed that statistically we were far safer on the ocean than on the freeway. While it didn’t always work to...

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SAILING IN THE WAKE OF GIANTS Nov 01, 2018

“We must come down from our heights, and leave our straight paths, for the byways and low places of life, if we would learn truths by strong contrasts; and in hovels, in forecastles, and among our own outcasts in foreign lands, see what has been wrought upon our fellow-creatures by accident, hardship, or vice.” —Richard Henry Dana

We made it into Dana Point harbor and set the hook just as the sun slid behind the tall cliffs. It had been a calm trip from Catalina but a long...

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RUNNING WITH THE GENERAL Oct 22, 2018

General Santa Ana was an unpredictable, shape-shifting politician and dubious military leader who helped Mexico gain independence from Spain, then lost more than half her territory to the U.S. There are various origin stories for the wind phenomenon that shares his name, but one thing’s for sure—the infamous Santa Anas mirror many of the General’s more disastrous characteristics. 

In the winter months, a buildup of high pressure over the deserts of Utah and Nevada can...

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CAP’N COLIN AND THE GREAT WHITE SHARK Oct 17, 2018

The trolling line, which had been quiet since we left Santa Cruz Island, suddenly screamed into life, sounding like a swarm of angry bees.

”Colin!” I yelled. “Fish ON!” 

He’d been up at the bow, pointing at the eruption of wildlife all around Anacapa—pods of dolphins circled, seals leapt from the water, and pelicans dove all around as the sea boiled with fish. Ominously, a seagull carcass had floated by minutes earlier, feet up. Predator and prey, the...

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WORKING THE DREAM Sep 11, 2018

Sailing Pristine: the Maintenance Issue

For those of you who open Pristine’s adventures for soothing photos of paradise to help you through your workday, we’re afraid we will disappoint you this time around. For those who want a more realistic picture of what cruising is actually like, you’re in luck. It’s a common refrain that cruising is simply fixing your boat in exotic locations. Common, of course, because it’s true.

Over the past six months, our attitude...

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GOT DIESEL? Aug 29, 2018

Shout out to my mother, who will appreciate this story more than most. 

From the day I learned to drive, every interaction with Mom ended with, “Do you have enough gas in your car?”

Of course I did the broke teenager thing of paying for gas a dollar at a time (yeah, it was a while ago), but I don’t remember earning an irresponsible reputation. Yet she continued to ask into my twenties. Then thirties. And forties.

Though I only ran out of gas twice in my life—once...

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ENOUGH ADVENTURE TO GROW ON Aug 19, 2018

After a two-month hiatus on land, graciously filled with family, touring, dancing, paddling, biking, surfing and celebrating, it was time to return to our little floating home.

Our dual purpose was to explore the Channel Islands we missed on the way down, as well as continue our shakedown in SoCal waters and figure out what we still need before we sail past the Amazon package-delivery border.

The big question was how it would feel to leave behind hot showers and laundry, endless WiFi and...

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THE MOST EPIC WEDDING THAT EVER WAS Aug 03, 2018

There are lots of ‘wedding’ people in the world: people who keep scrapbooks of bridal dresses and consider napkin choices with the seriousness of global peace initiatives. We have never been those people. 

Don’t get us wrong—it makes us giddy to be around people in love and we both think the commitment of marriage is an extraordinarily beautiful thing. When I’m at a wedding, I inevitably end up wiping away mascara tears. We only say this so you understand we...

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