Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Merry Christmas from San Carlos

Merry Christmas from San Carlos. Gosling has been alongside at Marina San Carlos for the past 2 days. We decided to come in to get the remainder of the work done before leaving for the Baja side.
After arriving from Guaymas we had a busy week working on a number of items but life at the buoy was tedious. Trips ashore invariably turned into half-day events where little progress was being made onboard but, on the other hand, were socially rewarding. After all, this is Christmas week. The main event of the week was the Christmas dinner given at the Yacht Club. For 80 pesos (approx $8 Can) we had a great lunch and lots of Christmas atmosphere, almost as good as we would have had at CFSA but without the white stuff outside..... We teamed up with Doug and Trish (Ka-Em-Te), Gil and Lexie (Sunday) , a British couple off of Fantasia and our old friends Lin and Lee from Royal Exchange who have arrived to complete the preps on their boat after an 18 month delay.
It was nice to see Lin and Lee again and recall our adventures together for the four months we sailed in Royal Exchange 2 years ago and which were the incentive that caused us to take the big step of doing it on our own.
The cruising population here is very transient at the moment with new people arriving daily to rejoin their boats, and others leaving their boats and heading north to be with family for the holidays. A few are heading south already but the majority prefer to remain here enjoying a much chillier San Carlos for a few more days or weeks. Although we still have nice sunny and warm days the nights are quite cool dipping into the mid 40’s F.
The main reason we have come into the marina is to have our batteries changed out. They were ordered on Saturday and are supposed to arrive on Monday. Trish has been helping us install the windlass and if all goes well that should be completed on Monday as well. The installation of the windlass has not been as easy as the instructions make it out to be. There had to be a few modifications made to accept the components and we found out that the 2/0 cables were too stiff to be wired directly to the windlass. Luckily Trish has some smaller, more flexible cables that we will be able to complete the job.
With any luck we should be good to go by Tuesday or Wednesday. We are still experiencing Northerly winds so it should be a good sail to the other side. During the past few days it has been quite blustery with Northwest winds gusting to 30 kts in the anchorage. We managed to get to the dock before the wind developed on Friday and Fran did a nice job of driving Gosling alongside. Keith Hanna would have been proud.
Rosie has been very thankful for the opportunity to go ashore anytime she wants to and do her business and play ball. She has another puppy pal, Cortez, a Peekapom, the same age actually that belongs to Greg and Julie of Seafire, a boat from Nanaimo. It is really cute to see the 2 of them playing in the parking lot.
Tuesday, 30/Dec
This will be a late post as we are now dependent on a few local bars for our internet.
The Windlass is in and working and the batteries have arrived and are onboard. They will be installed tomorrow. We had planned to leave tomorrow but after considering that we would be far away from anyone on New Year’s Eve we decided to stay another day and enjoy the festivities. Our revised departure date is now New Year’s Day so Happy New Years all.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Back to San carlos for Christmas

We are finally away from the noise of downtown Guaymas. We had planned on departing early in the week but delays with the mechanic and adjustments to the freezer took longer than expected. We finally cast off on Saturday and headed up to San Carlos. Had we left a few days earlier we would have been able to sail up, however, we had to slog up the coast with 18-25 kt headwinds. A big engine is an asset in those conditions and we were able to make headway despite the wind and 3-4 ft seas covering the 19 miles in just less than 6 hours.
We have rented the buoy from our German friends, Elka and Uva from Marina Seca, Guyamas. It took us 4 attempts to tie up to the buoy but it was worth the effort. It certainly takes the worry about dragging anchors, besides; the windlass is this week’s project.
During our stay at the Singlar marina we met Ron and Pattie (and Matie, the dog) from California in Bagabundo, an Offshore 40. We were really impressed with the design and comfort level built into this boat.
Since we arrived we have continued to work on projects. J-G’s priority is the wiring for the windlass. He is finding it quite a challenge to access areas to pass the wires behind cupboards that require hours of disassembly. Once accessed there is usually another task that should be done before access is closed, in this case it was replacing bolts holding down a pad eye.
Since we arrived in Mexico Rosie has been used to regular walks and good places to do her business. She is finding that sailing sucks! She doesn’t like the engine noise, rocking and rolling and that windswept look. Most off all she misses the dusty boatyard and the small patches of grass at Singlar. The thought of having to pee on a small carpet on the bow doesn’t appeal to her at all, however, by the evening of day 2 at the buoy she decided that she couldn’t hold it any longer, much to our mutual relief....
Now that we are dependent on our battery power we have come to the realization that the four old 6-volt batteries that remained from the original bank will have to be replaced before we leave. As the only source of decent batteries is north of the border we may have another delay to obtain replacements. Unless we can find someone going north we may have to make a quick trip to Tucson ourselves.
Fran set up the “Christmas Palm” today, complete with solar Christmas lights and several guy lines to keep it from being blown away by the strong Northerlies we are still experiencing in the late afternoons and evenings. We are booked into the Christmas day dinner at the yacht club but, with all of this we will miss the kids and grandchildren, this being our first Christmas away since England in the early 90’s.
Have a great Christmas all.

Monday, December 15, 2008

We have splashed!

Gosling is afloat! We splashed as scheduled last Friday. It was a harrowing experience to see the travel lift raise her off her stands and slowly traverse the few hundred feet to the launching basin but it was accomplished within ½ hour of a spring tide. With the help of many friends we were able to spin her around to face the channel and keep her centered in the basin until we finished checking for leaks. The engine started up without any coaxing and we were off across the Bay within ½ hour of launching, our German friend, Elka, along for the ride.
Gabriel, the yard owner, had marked the channel for us but as we reached the end of his buoys (tethered pop bottles) the depth reading went from 3 ½ ft to 1 ½ below the keel. Gabriel will need to do some more dredging! We reached the Singlar Marina without incident and we have been tied up here for the weekend getting re-rigged and cleaned up. Omar is arriving this morning to replace the engine mounts and align the engine. We expect to leave here by Wednesday if all goes well.
Our last week at Marina Seca Guaymas was a blur of last minute tasks, many of them in the “nice to do” realm. The anti-fouling was touched up with the local brand, Comex Americoat #3. It has a 50% copper content. I watched the local workmen apply it to another boat and they added a pouch of copper powder before application to increase the copper content to 70%. Other tasks included paint and varnish touch-ups to interior parts, completing the plumbing below the sink and making up some shelving and a base for that one. We also removed the old windlass and started to prep the pad for the new unit. Ted completed the freezer installation and I was able to begin re-assembly of the cupboard I had to take apart (to give him access to the original freezer conduits). That was quite the job. The builders didn’t skimp on screws when they assembled this boat!
Marina Singlar hasn’t changed much since our last stay but there are a few more establishments in the complex. The former assistant manager, Carlos, has left to pursue his masters in Mexico City and has been replaced by, Ariana, a pleasant young lady from Guaymas, who spent some time in Vancouver to learn English a few years ago. There are a few more boats here, including 4 on the hard and three at the dock. The main building has a few more businesses now. There is a bar and restaurant on the top level and a sushi bar, souvenir shop on the lower level to complement the coffee shop that has expanded. They have also put in a spa on the upper level of the main building. Fran and 2 of her friends, Trish and Lexie, spent a few hours getting pampered last week for Fran’s birthday on the 10th. It was also to pamper Trish, who has been caring for her husband who is battling cancer.
Saturday morning was another early start, with a drive out to San Carlos for the monthly Marine Mart cruisers swap meet. We arrived and spread our junk, er , treasures on a tarp, and hoped for the best. As usual JG bought more then we sold, but it was ALL needed for the boat....
A few local items: I don’t know why Mexico isn’t higher on the world beer consumption ratings but local supply stores are everywhere. Each major company has their own outlet or “deposito” where you can pick up cold cervesas until quite late in the evening. What a decent concept! Guaymas is decorated to the hilt for Christmas. As we left a restaurant last night we discovered that the local Christmas parade was about to pass. Our grand-daughter would have enjoyed the cheerleading squads from the local schools. It was nice to see all the children excited about it all. They are off school for a month since last week. The huge malecon/marina project is progressing here. There is much excavating being done and a lot has been done since we were here last. The main portion of the malecon near the city centre has been completed. There are nightly water shows at the fountains and people are everywhere during the evenings. The marina, itself, hasn’t begun construction yet but this ambitious project will need considerable dredging of the bay before it becomes reality. It will be interesting to see if Singlar survives the competition for the boating traffic.
We hope to leave here Wednesday for San Carlos Bay, as it is caro (expensive) here and we just can’t take too much more of the downtown nightly noise. Fran has resorted to wear ear plugs at night. Rosie will be in for a shock when we leave here. She hasn’t had to resort to a carpet on the bow since last summer, but she has adapted well to all the changes to date so we are hopeful.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Presail refit: WeeK 2

Another week of steady progress. The weather continues to be pleasant but there has been a definite cooling trend this week. Days are still hot but nights are getting chilly. One welcome side effect has been the reduction of mosquitoes so we aren’t complaining. We have been monitoring the weather in Victoria and it seems that it has been cloudy and 7-10C since we left. We just got word over the weekend that it is in the -20’s in Ottawa. I definitely prefer this climate!
The engine work is completed. The engine was flashed up on Tuesday and it ran like a top. All that remains is the replacement of the engine mounts and re-alignment of the engine and shaft and that will be done once we get back afloat.
We have made a date for the splash. The next tide that will ensure we get safely away is on the 12th at 0700. We have also made reservations at the Singlar Marina for a few days where we will re-rig the lines and sails and give the boat a thorough cleaning.
Our other accomplishments this week have been varied. We have taken several bits taken down to the work bench to be sanded and re-varnished (Cetol). We have painted more of the lower cupboard interiors and have begun to revamp the under-sink cupboard. The main problem there is the spaghetti of plumbing tubing that needs re-routing and some modifications to reflect the changes we have made to our water supply choices. Fran wants to eliminate the salt water supply to the sink and replace it with a foot pump operated fresh water supply as an alternative to the pressure system. The long lead from the inlet to the tap has always produced a stench when pumping up salt water and it will be better used for a salt water deck wash supply. All of the thru hulls have been serviced. We have made good use of local hardware suppliers for our odds and ends. There are several in our immediate vicinity but Technocrates has been our favourite. It is a small storefront but he carries an incredible amount of bits. Hernandez is the cruiser’s favourite for metal work. If there is anything you need someone on the morning net will have a source.
There are 3 people working on boats in the yard who are also refrigeration techs. Ted (tailgate wok chef from last weekend) is one of these. We had him diagnose the problem with our refrigerator unit. It took a while but he finally identified a bad circuit board which he. What a relief! We can now remove a fridge from our next year’s shopping list. Ted carries many parts with him and does quite a bit of work for local cruisers while carrying out repairs to his 1929 Albin sloop. After seeing the amount of work he has left to do on his boat it was easy to understand why he needs a job on the side. We have also asked him to assemble a freezer for us. We will locate it in the original cooler box.
All that is left to do is to touch up the anti-fouling where it has thinned out over the summer and install the windlass.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Presail refit: Week 2

Another week of steady progress. The weather continues to be pleasant but there has been a definite cooling trend this week. Days are still hot but nights are getting chilly. One welcome side effect has been the reduction of mosquitoes so we aren’t complaining. We have been monitoring the weather in Victoria and it seems that it has been cloudy and 7-10C since we left. We just got word over the weekend that it is in the -20’s in Ottawa. I definitely prefer this climate!
The engine work is completed. The engine was flashed up on Tuesday and it ran like a top. All that remains is the replacement of the engine mounts and re-alignment of the engine and shaft and that will be done once we get back afloat.
We have made a date for the splash. The next tide that will ensure we get safely away is on the 12th at 0700. We have also made reservations at the Singlar Marina for a few days where we will re-rig the lines and sails and give the boat a thorough cleaning.
Our other accomplishments this week have been varied. We have taken several bits taken down to the work bench to be sanded and re-varnished (Cetol). We have painted more of the lower cupboard interiors and have begun to revamp the under-sink cupboard. The main problem there is the spaghetti of plumbing tubing that needs re-routing and some modifications to reflect the changes we have made to our water supply choices. Fran wants to eliminate the salt water supply to the sink and replace it with a foot pump operated fresh water supply as an alternative to the pressure system. The long lead from the inlet to the tap has always produced a stench when pumping up salt water and it will be better used for a salt water deck wash supply. All of the thru hulls have been serviced. We have made good use of local hardware suppliers for our odds and ends. There are several in our immediate vicinity but Technocrates has been our favourite. It is a small storefront but he carries an incredible amount of bits. Hernandez is the cruiser’s favourite for metal work. If there is anything you need someone on the morning net will have a source.
There are 3 people working on boats in the yard who are also refrigeration techs. Ted (tailgate wok chef from last weekend) is one of these. We had him diagnose the problem with our refrigerator unit. It took a while but he finally identified a bad circuit board which he. What a relief! We can now remove a fridge from our next year’s shopping list. Ted carries many parts with him and does quite a bit of work for local cruisers while carrying out repairs to his 1929 Albin sloop. After seeing the amount of work he has left to do on his boat it was easy to understand why he needs a job on the side. We have also asked him to assemble a freezer for us. We will locate it in the original cooler box.
All that is left to do is to touch up the anti-fouling where it has thinned out over the summer and install the windlass.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Gosling’s Pre-sail Refit: Week One

It has been a long week of hot days and buzzing (mosquito) nights but we are progressing well. The mechanic arrived as scheduled and worked the better part of Tuesday removing components for rebuilding. It was a bit disconcerting seeing a good portion of my engine being carted off including: injector pump, injectors, heat exchanger, and salt and fresh water pumps. All were returned in pristine condition by Friday. Omar is reputed to be the best mechanic in the area and he is living up to his reputation. After several hours of toiling after a seized injector he had a custom puller fabricated and had it out within minutes. Tomorrow he should be back to reassemble the engine and trial it.
I have had to charge up the batteries in preparation. The generator we brought with us wasn’t powerful enough at 1300w. I had to borrow a neighbour’s Honda 2000 and it worked a treat. The Canadian Tire Special will be on the sale table at the next cruiser’s swap meet in a few weeks along with a number of things we have removed from the boat or have brought down in excess of our needs.
I have rebuilt the wind vane from all of the new spares that were on the boat when we got her. I should have eliminated that irritating wobble that kept us awake at nights when anchored or tied up in a current. Another task this week has been taking apart most of the thru-hulls and servicing them. They all worked last season but the hot summer temps must have baked the fittings.
Fran has been busy cleaning, storing, knitting and getting cushions re-upholstered. She has also been designing a new mosquito net arrangement with the German girl next door. The bugs are voracious during the night but the net we brought from Ottawa has been put to good use. They are even biting Fran who normally brags about being immune. Well, these are Mexican bugs, Duh!
Last night we had our first “Yard Potluck”. It was quite fun with2 German boats, 3 Canadian, a Dutch girl, an Aussi and an American who showed up with enormous shrimp and a complete gas cooking kit on the back of his pick-up. His tempura shrimp were the hit of the night. Next week he’ll be doing onion rings and zucchini strips as well. We are in the best shrimp fishing waters of the coast and the shrimp are cheap and plentiful. We bought large ones, head on today for $8 a kilo. They were even better than the ones we had fished for ourselves in Desolation Sound last summer. Conversation took a definite downturn when Elke (German) proudly displayed a rat that they had just trapped. It had been pestering them for a few days and after comparing notes with other boats found that it was a common problem in the yard. All out war had been declared earlier that day with new traps and Ron’s (Canadian) peanut butter. Shortly after calling it a night Marion (Dutch) came back with another prize dead rat, soon to be followed by Ted (US). Ron, who declared immunity with his dog aboard reluctantly admitted that one had been running all over his deck during the night and knocking over water bowls while his dog slept peacefully at his feet. Hope we aren’t next!
Rosie is adapting really well. She seems to be closer to us these days, probably fearing that we’ll leave again in that dreaded car thing. She loves her short walks and we have been letting her off-leash for brief intervals where there are no yard dogs around. She does her puppy thing and stays close and is always ready to be leashed again. She is even starting to bark and gets lots of applause.

Well, it's past cruiser's midnight (9PM) so off to bed. Tomorrow will be the start of a long week.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Back to Guaymas

We are in day 3 of our pre-launch work period. It is hot, dusty and, at night the mosquitoes can almost carry you away, but this is almost paradise, right?
We had a great trip down, stopping in Palm Springs for a wonderful 2-day visit with long time friends at just the right time for a break in the driving. We arrived in San Carlos on Friday night after a long day on Mexican roads that have lots of traffic and no shoulders. By the time we arrived at Terry and Roger Tallentyre’s condo for the night we were fried. The first cervesa was delicious; the shrimp were an unexpected treat. Welcome to Mexico!
The following morning we drove to the Marina Seca in Guaymas to begin what we expect to be a busy few weeks of preps. On our way, however, we dropped in on 2 other sets of sailing buddies. Tanque de Tiburon with Bill and Linda aboard were just leaving for San Juanico and points south with La Paz as their final destination. We were also thrilled to see Doug and Trish from Ka-Em-Te and will see much more of them over the few weeks we will be here.
Gosling had fared quite well over the past 6 months. She was covered with a thick layer of reddish dust and shreds of the tarp that we had covered the cabin top. Those tarps (package of 2) had been too good a deal to pass up at the Costco in Cabo some months before. Even with numerous frapping lines they had disintegrated. Needless to say the second tarp will be going back home with us and we’ll be looking for something more durable for next season. The pails of water we had left had long since evaporated but the interior was in good condition with no bugs and very few items spoiled by the searing Summer heat.
It took us the better part of the day to empty the van and try to find places to stow what we had brought. Eventually everything got to the cockpit for future consideration. It is nice to have the van to stow items we won’t need until our return and all the duplicate items we brought. An inventory prior to departure would be a good idea....
After three days we have made a small dent in the work schedule. Tomorrow the mechanic will be here to start on the engine work. The main item is the injector pump and injectors. Hopefully that will solve the nagging problem we had earlier this year. I will probably get him to do the engine mounts and alignment as well. Fran is looking for an upholsterer to recover our settee cushions and I will be kept busy rebuilding the self-steering system and installing the new windlass, in addition to a number of woodworking projects. There is also the sanding and re-varnishing of woodwork that wasn’t attended to last spring. The latter can only be done early morning or evening due to the high daytime temps which have been reaching close to 90F.
We have a few neighbors getting their boats ready including 2 from BC, a few Americans, and a couple from Eastliegh (close to where we lived in England in the early 90’s) and a German couple. Some have been here for some time so they know where to go for supplies and expertise of most types.
Rosie (the Sheltie) is still in denial. She is still hoping that tomorrow she’ll be back in her own back yard. She is an excellent traveler, never complaining and always in her cage when on the road but the change of environments must be hard on her. There are very few grassy patches south of Phoenix! Here in the yard she is content to stay in her cage in the shadow of the hull, venturing out occasionally for a drink or to sniff at one of the yard dogs when they get close. For the most part, they stay away and bark up a storm occasionally when we walk her through the yard. She seems comfortable on deck, even though it is 15 ft off the ground.
We are looking forward to US Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday with Trish and Doug at mutual friends we met on our way south last spring. Gil and Lexi own Sunday a large trimaran that they are also getting ready. However, they have found a great deal on a condo for the summer and are enjoying shore life for a few more weeks.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

We are off again on our way to re-join Gosling. As I write these words we are heading down I-5 just past Eugene Oregon.
After some frenzied last minute preparations we bid farewell to family and friends for another season. We found a tenant for our home and a friend graciously agreed, once again, to look after Antares for us (thanks Ray). The van is packed to overflowing with a large variety of “stuff” we will need to get Gosling ready for this season’s cruise. No doubt much will remain in the van after we finish our pre-sail projects.
Over the spring and summer we managed obtain the majority of the items on our wish-list. The main items, and the ones contributing most to the weight in the van, are the windlass and chain. We purchased a Lofrans , Tigres and 225 ft of 5/16 high-test chain online from Binnacle, a company in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. They had the cheapest price, free delivery and lowest tax of any other Canadian supplier. By the time we got our act together the Canadian dollar was diving so any US supplier was out of the question. Little did we know at the time that Binnacle’s supplier was in Vancouver and the order was delivered to our doorstep within 2 days?
We are also taking a new family member with us this year. Rosie (soon to be nicknamed Rosalita) is a Sheltie puppy, now 7 months old. She was introduced to boating on Antares during the summer and wasn’t too sure about it all so we are hoping she will adapt quickly to Gosling.
We have heard from many friends in our cruising circle including Linda and on Tanque de Tiburon and Trish and Doug on Ka-Em-Te, and, over the past few weeks we have met a number of people who are in Mexico or heading down there. We have a place to stay on arrival in San Carlos with friends from Victoria and yesterday, on the ferry, Fred and Julie from Sooke, offered us a place to stay in Mazatlan. Sadly we have heard that Ka-Em-Te will be heading back home this season due to medical problems. We hope to share a few weeks with Doug and Trish before their departure.
Our plans for this season are to take a week or 2 to get Gosling ready while on the hard then sail up to San Carlos for a few days before leaving for La Paz for the Holiday season. In early January we intend to sail down to Zihuatnejo for their sea festival then start hopping back up the coast stopping in at all of the cruiser’s havens on the way up. We hope to get back to La Paz for their sea fest the to the Loreto fest in early May. So it will be a fest to fest cruise this year while we get used to Gosling and work out any problems.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Home again

We are now home again in Victoria for the Summer. Our intention is to return to Guaymas by mid-November and start the next season's adventures.
The bus ride was long (10hrs) but comfortable in one of Tufesa's gold star buses. We arrived at the border at 8AM and were asked to disembark and have our bags scanned. After a quick passport check we were back aboard, the easiest border crossing into the US we have done in years.
We arrived in Phoenix an hour later and took a taxi to our hotel, the Ramada close to the airport. We crashed for a few hours and then went to a huge mall, the Arizona Mills, where we spent an aimless afternoon buying things we didn't need(Fran might argue that point).
We arrived at the airport shortly after 0500 and flew out by 0615 arriving in Victoria, via Seattle, at 1030.
It was nice to come home but our hearts are still in Mexico where it is definitely warmer.
This is our last entry until we prepare for our next trip, a road trip this time, to Guaymas to rejoin Gosling.
Thanks to all who took the time to read about our adventures. We hope it has been entertaining and that you will follow us again in the future.
Cheers, Jean-Guy and Fran

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Gosling's on the hard in Guaymas

Saturday, 3 May, 2008

We have finished putting Gosling to bed for the season. It has been a long day completing the final chores and we are in hotel room tonight in preparation for our long bus ride tomorrow night.

We stayed in the anchorage in San Carlos for a few more days before heading for Guaymas. Our final ocean voyage was in no wind and calm conditions. We accompanied Temeris, a trimaran, with Steve and Sherry aboard (California) to the Singlar Marina where we both began preparations for our respective haulouts at the Marina Seca across the harbour.
This marina is another new government run facility similar to the other Singlar marinas at Puerto Escondido and Santa Rosalia. When we arrived there was only one other vessel there, a diving tender being refitted by its owner. Apparently the marina has been open since December but we were only the 13th and 14th vessels to check in. It appears to be very well run by two managers, one being Carlos, an English-speaking and very pleasant young man. The facilities were all available to us; even the upper pool was open, however, the concrete haul out yard was vacant and the travel lift has yet to haul out its first vessel. The management is aware of the limitations they face. Their government dictated rates are higher than the other local facilities. They face stiff competition from Marina San Carlos and Marina Real where the cruisers are content and well served. The most serious limitation is depth alongside. The end berth is the only one that can handle most keel boats. As it was, we only had a few feet below the keel at low tide. Another limitation is their lack of advertising. We knew that the services at the haulout yard would be very limited so this was the ideal location for making our preparations prior to hauling out. With the dock entirely at our disposal we were able to washdown, remove and stow all our sails, unrig and wash all of our lines, and take advantage of laundry and showers. There was even a coffee shop that was doing a thriving business for the locals. It will be interesting to see how this marina will fare with the massive waterfront marina development project planned for Guyamas harbour. They are well underway to cover the entire downtown harbour front with slips.
Temeris was due to be hauled out the day after we arrived so we accompanied them for the trip to familiarize ourselves with the channel and the facilities at the other end. It was an interesting trip watching the depthsounder hover between 4 and 6 ft. When we arrived at the yard it was close to low tide so we were able to see the hazards for ourselves. We also had a chance to speak to some other folks who were already there about their experiences. We had towed our dinghy over so after scouting out the place we motored back across the bay to progress our preps.
One of the chores on our list was to remove the computer for the Simrad system and bring it home to get it repaired. We had been told by the tech in San Diego that the depthsounder signal was arriving at the computer but was not being processed. As J-G started disassembly he noticed that the depthsounder input leads were reversed. Once reconnected the system operated perfectly for the first time. How convenient to have a dual depthsounder capability just before undertaking the shallowest channel we have ever negotiated!
We delayed our departure until late afternoon Friday to take advantage of the high tide and made the crossing without incident. We arrived with a 20 kt wind on the beam forcing us to crab into the haulout crib. As we approached we felt that heart-rending shudder as we carved a new channel through the mud, however, it was only a momentary pucker and we entered the dredged basin.
We tied up at the crib and waited until Gabriel, the manager, arrived to assess our rig for his travel lift. It was necessary to disconnect our headstay/furler and once done we were ready to go. The haulout was another pucker factor event when Gosling was slowly raised by what appeared to be an under-powered lift but everything went well for the 300-yard trek to our lay-up position where we were safely trussed up with supports (manufactured on-site).
Mike and Kirsten from, Kia Kaha, our neighbour boat made us welcome and, Steve and Sherrie came over with a bottle of champers to help us celebrate the end of our first cruise. We spent a very restless night getting used to a motionless bed and swatting mosquitoes that seemed to multiply all night
Today we completed everything we needed to do by late afternoon. By 1700 the last item was done, wrapping the cockpit dodger and liferaft with a new tarp we had purchased in Cabo. We don’t expect it to last till November but to extend it’s life we crisscrossed it with frapping lines to reduce any motion in high winds.
To get to our hotel was another feat, Fran left the yard in search of a taxi, ran across to some people getting into their car and asked if they could call her a taxi, (all in Spanglish). They said no but they could drive her to where she could find one. With a wave to JG out the car window she was off again, only to return 5 minutes later with a taxi.
So here we are downtown in a new hotel, $50 a night with HOT water, No mosquitoes, TV and A/C; back to the real world…..
Last chapter after we get home.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

We have arrived at an anchorage off Punta Sta Inez, 22 miles southeast of Santa Rosalia. Charlie's charts say that there is an extraordinary shelling beach nearby and we intend to explore it before we leave. I don't really want to find any more cone shells this time…. Besides, Fran found a beautiful shell just before I was stung. Payback????
Our stopover in Puerto Escondido was brief. We arrived in early afternoon and obtained our water and fuel before taking a buoy at the Singlar (government run) facility for the night. We dinghy'd in and got laundry done and downloaded our e-mails, which took the better part of the next 2 hours, and finished just in time for the facility to close up for the day. During last year's visit in Royal Exchange we weren't even able to get water and the building was still under construction. This year the
facility is up and running as best as can be expected but very few boats are using it. The "Waiting Room" and the circular anchorage run by "Appy", Singlar's competitor, is getting most of the business because of his lower fees. Singlar's aim of becoming the local haul-out location for much of the Sea's cruisers isn't going to happen until they make some drastic fee reductions. With the Loretofest happening in a few weeks more boats will be forced to use Singlar's buoys as Appy's facilities reach
max capacity.
That night we decided on supper at a local restaurant about a mile up the road. We were warned that when walking back along the road at night it is prudent to have flashlights as rattlesnakes have been seen after dark on the warm road surface. The pull of a restaurant meal was greater than Fran's fear of snakes that evening. We met Ken and Nancy from Brandywine at the restaurant. They were driving and offered us a drive back to the marina. Fran was quick to accept.
We left the next morning, saying farewell to Polar Bear and Brandywine and carried on up to Loreto. We anchored off the breakwater just before noon, close to the Ryndam. The Holland America cruise ship was ferrying her complement of tourists ashore by lighter. By 1500 we were on our way again having obtained a few provisions.
By sunset we were at anchor in San Juanico Cove, another location we had visited last year. Amazingly, we were the only sailboat among 7 cruisers. We didn't get a chance to go ashore here but promised ourselves that next year we would have an extended stay to explore this beautiful bay.
The next morning we were off again, heading north under power in a flat calm sea. Again we bypassed a number of areas we are eager to visit. Bahia Conception is high on our list for next season, as is the village of Mulege where an offshore roadstead anchorage is required.
By 1800 we were at anchor in an open but comfortable anchorage in the company of 3 other sailing vessels and 2 cruisers.

Thursday, 24 April 2008
We are now anchored in Sweet Pea Cove on the west side of Isla San Marcos, our last stop before we do the northern crossing to Guaymas. We had intended on leaving tonight to arrive tomorrow morning, however, Fran isn't feeling up to par so we will wait until she improves.
We stayed an extra day at Punta Sta Inez to explore and it is a good thing we did. Shell Beach was all it was supposed to be and better. Shells were everywhere thanks to the hurricane that passed through last fall. The variety was surprising and there were lots left after we picked our fill…. We left this morning, again in flat calm conditions with balls of bait rising all around us and seabirds swooping down to feed. It took a few minutes to clear the anchor of a huge ball of seaweed, which is abundant
in this bay. A few miles out we decided to try our luck in the tide lines that appeared on the sounder to be full of baitfish. We were rewarded by 3 nice sea bass (cabrilla) one of the best tasting species in these waters.
Next segment from Guaymas/San Carlos.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Thursday, 17 April 2008

We have been anchored in a very sheltered bay at Bahia Agua Verde since midday yesterday. We are in the company of 6 other boats waiting out a blow, which is due to end tomorrow morning.
Agua Verde is the 3rd stop we have had since leaving Isla San Francisco. Punta Evaristo, 18 miles up the coast from San Francisco, would have been a comfortable and quiet overnight stay on our way to the more popular anchorage of Los Gatos had it not been for a large cruiser called Besame that liked loud music and let their 2 dogs bark.
We arrived in the Los Gatos anchorage in early afternoon the following day. To our surprise Polar Bear was there, a boat we had met at Isla San Francisco last year. It was a treat to reacquaint with an old friend and catch up on the past year. Also to meet us was Manuel, the fisherman who helped us to celebrate our sale of the lot on Admirals Rd last year by obtaining lobster and scallops for us. We ordered lobsters again and had 3 for supper, another wonderful treat. The main feature of the bay last year was a large whalebone that had been planted in the sand (by Polar Bear we later found out). It was missing this year and Manuel explained that it had been taken north by cruisers.
We left the next day with Polar Bear for Bahia Agua Verde, knowing that this would be a more comfortable anchorage that Los Gatos with the predicted Northerlies due the following day. We had expected a crowded bay but when we arrived there were only 4 other boats and there was a space available in the most protected part of the bay. Once again the chart/GPS discrepancy was immediately noticeable. Our anchored position showed us to be 300 yards to the East of our actual position, a good reason not to rely on GPS plotting alone.
As predicted, the wind began to pick up in mid-morning bringing some relief from the high heat we had experienced the previous day. The boats on the outer edges of the anchorages wallowed in 2-4 foot swells and the local fishermen kept their pangas on shore.

Sunday, 20 April 2008
We stayed in Agua Verde an extra day enjoying the peaceful surroundings and doing some walking on the rugged shore and snorkeling in along the shore. J-G had a chance to play with his underwater camera. Hope the pictures come out.
We left Agua Verde mid-morning, Saturday, with Polar Bear. Dave had suggested a night’s anchorage at Yellow Beach, on the northern tip of Isla Monserrate before heading into Puerto Escondido the following day. We had a wonderful sail with a 5-8 kt quartering breeze and we were finally able to hoist the mizzen staysail. To our surprise we discovered that it was one of Gosling’s original suit of sails made by Butler-Verner Sails in Gosport, UK. We were also entertained by several pods of fin whales, but none as close to our encounter last year.
We arrived at Yellow Beach in mid-afternoon. Liberty Call 2 (retired Marine Corps) was already there and we were later joined by Airops (retired Naval Air), both of whom we later met aboard Polar Bear for “sundowners”. Our stroll ashore was not a pleasant one for J-G. While walking in the shallows off the beach he stepped on something that stung him in the foot. He was in excruciating pain for the next 3-4 hours. A search of the area failed to find the cause so it was most likely a cone shell sting, however, no stinger could be found in the wound. Four hours later he was back to normal and we were able to enjoy a nice evening of dinner and Mexican Train Dominoes aboard Polar Bear.
This morning we have decided to head into Puerto Escondido and get fuelled up, watered and get our internet fix and laundry done before we depart for the last leg of this year’s voyage. We plan a few more stops along the way but we are aiming for Guaymas by the 26th or 27th to start the preps for Gosling’s summer layover. We found out this morning after enquiring on the net that Prairie Seashell the boat from Calgary we met last year, passed this way a few days ago and is expected to be in Guaymas any day now.
That’s all for now. More in a few days.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Enroute to Isla San Francisco

Sunday, 13 April 2008

We are heading north towards our next anchorage at Isla San Francisco after spending 2 nights and a full day in a beautiful anchorage called Ensenada de Partida on Isla Del Espiritu Santo. The islands in the Sea of Cortez were designated as national parks in May of last year and this is one of the most visited by cruisers. It is also one of 2 parks where a token fee is paid for the privilege of anchoring and landing ashore. The other is Loretto, further north. We spent the day exploring the sand-spit
between the two coasts and working on the boat replacing the caulking between the rails and the cockpit combing. J-G also wrestled with a broken drainpipe under the sink in the fwd head. That will have to wait for a solder job at our next port. Where is Doug (Ka-Em-Te) when we need a real plumber?

We stayed 3 days in La Paz, enjoying the ambience of what we have experienced as the best marina in Mexico so far. Had we known beforehand that the annual Bayfest, sponsored by Marina La Paz, was going to be held that weekend we would have allowed for it in our schedule. We will certainly consider it for next year.
The main chore of repairing the pulley was accomplished but not without complications. J-G set out afoot following directions to a bearing supply store but a few blocks ended up being a few10s of blocks. The store had a close fit (Nissan wheel bearing) for the inside diameter but the outside diameter would require the services of a machine shop. Luckily the machine shop was just beside the bearing shop. 2 hours later with the machined part in hand I was on the search for a slightly larger bolt to
accommodate the inside diameter. After a 2-hour search I finally found a shop specializing in fasteners and they had the right fit.
The next step was to re-install the pulley. With Doug's (Ka-Em-Te) help we managed to get it back in place. Only a run-up would confirm proper alignment. Our engine had been sitting idle for 2 days by this time and and, as usual, it wasn't starting. Kirk (Freedom Kirkland) spent the next 2 hours trying to find the problem. We had nearly given up when one last try brought success. From now on we will be starting the engine daily to make sure that whatever is draining doesn't drain all the way. Now,
2 days later we can confirm that process has worked.
We spent the rest of the time shopping for the trip north, visiting La Paz and just enjoying our time in the marina. Friday arrived and it was time to leave. Kirk had left the previous afternoon on his way to Espiritu Santo before heading south to Cabo to meet his relatives. We bid farewell to Doug and Trish and slipped the dock in a moderate onshore breeze.
This was our 4th dock departure and the first with any significant wind. We certainly gave the neighbouring boats a show trying to get the bow into the wind. Gosling can be very stubborn that way but after a good deal of filling and backing we finally convinced her to go to windward (backing out wasn't an option). We need lots more practice!

Today's trip to Isla San Francisco has been a short one, only 21 miles and, with a favorable wind we were able to sail part way. Another 5 lb bonito tuna sacrificed itself for sushi on the way. It is mid-afternoon and we are anchored in a nice quiet bay, close to where we were last year about this time aboard Royal Exchange. There is a natural salt pan just over the dunes so we will getting our year's supply of rock salt before we leave. Our next destination is Punta Evaristo, another choice anchorage
some 20 miles up the coast.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Monday, 7 April 2008

Enroute to La Paz from Bahia Los Muertos

We spent 2 days in Los Frailes with the wind whistling through the rig and the windwaves slapping the hull. Further out we could see white water and the occasional whale frolicking off the point to the south. By Friday morning it was all over and we woke to light winds from the southwest. We decided to stay an extra day to explore the bay and finish some projects. That evening we met Kirk (AKA Capt Kirk) single-handing a boat called Freedom Kirkland, (Edmonton Alta), the first Canadian boat since
Mag Bay. Kirk is a farmer and mechanic and will be heading back to Alta at the end of the month to put in his crop.
The following morning we weighed anchor and headed out towards Bahia Los Muertos, leaving our friends behind. As we left we hoisted all our working sails and asked Ka-Em-Te to take a picture for our boat cards. The wind was just strong enough to fill the sails so we should have a good photo to use.
The trip up the coast was uneventful except for losing one big fish but getting the next one that hit the lure after a 20-minute battle. This one, a 12 lb skipjack, put up a good fight that tested the equipment we had purchased at the garage sale in San Diego but the 20-lb test line was adequate. If anything breaks that line we don't want it in the boat anyway!
We arrived at Bahia Los Muertos (Bay of the Dead) by late afternoon and anchored in the company of several sail and powerboats. The star attraction was The US America Cup boat, Stars and Stripes, fresh from the last race from San Diego two weeks ago. We later found out that they were waiting for engine parts and that Dennis Conner had returned home.
Apart from a few beach homes the bay is quite barren. There were many pangas nested along the eastern shoreline, most of them charter boats for the gringo fishermen. The only redeeming feature of this bay is a bar/restaurant called the Giggling Marlin, the sister establishment to the popular Cabo location. We took a stroll over to the place to check it out and found the menu on the expensive side, however, they did have an item listed as " You catch it, we cook it" for a reasonable price. Later
on that evening we were back with Trish and Doug from Ka-Em-Te and Kirk from Freedom Kirkland, who had both arrived in mid-afternoon, each carrying a baggy of our latest catches. The chef outdid himself with 4 different variations on tuna that we hadn't yet come across. It was a good evening sitting under a palapa restaurant, looking over the anchorage and telling sea stories. The trip back to the boat was exciting. The phosphorescence was very active and we left a bright wake as we motored along.
Small bait fish were all around us, skittering out of the way, a few landing in the dinghy.
They are attempting to change the name of the bay to the Bay of Dreams but it will take some time for that name to be popular, especially since the chart will continue to have that name for the foreseeable future. Charts of this area are not amended very often. The existing charts were based on USN surveys in 1897 with updates to 1961.
We all departed this morning but we were delayed by an annoying problem with the engine. When left at rest for a few days it is very difficult to start. JG tried the usual bleeding air routine but today that wasn't enough. After contacting Kirk on VHF we tried a new trick and were rewarded by that throaty roar of 85 British horses. I hope we can figure out the reason. Kirk has a good idea and he'll give us a hand this evening when we meet up again.
Back to work! While Fran drives or reads J-G has been working on the topsides during our passages. A professional boat groomer in San Diego recommended a product called The Bartender's Friend, a powdered cleaner similar to Comet. It is very good for teak decks and we have found that it does a really nice job on gelcoat. After the scrub J-G has been applying a coat of Big White sealant and conditioner, followed by 2 coats of Big White high temp wax. What a difference it has made to the 35 year-old

Tuesday, 8 April, 2008
We are anchored in a small bay called Caleta Lobos. It was a bouncy night with land-generated winds of up to 12 kts. This side of the bay looked nice and calm when we arrived but the wind changed during the early evening and we ended up on the breezy side.
Later on this morning we will be heading to the Marina La Paz for a few days. We'll get the engine pulley repaired and pick up the parts we need to complete a few projects, fuel, water and groceries and we'll say farewell to our two buddy boats. Ka-Em-Te is staying on for a few extra days and Freedom Kirkland is heading back to Cabo. Kirk gave us some advice on the engine last night that we hope will solve our problems.
Time is becoming a factor. We have less than 3 weeks to get to San Carlos and that is still 300 miles to the north. With a continuation of this weather we'll have a leisurely trip and be able to enjoy some of the many great anchorages along the way.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Magdalena Bay - Cabo San Lucas

Saturday, 29 Mar 08

The other boats in the bay proved, once again, that cruisers are a breed apart. There are 2 large trimarans, Sunday, a couple from California and Stravaig (UK with a Dutch spouse). Jeff just happens to be one of the developers of the Autohelm wind vane that I have and gave me a few pointers on using this infernal instrument.. The other boats are Mischief (Victoria) being single-handed by a chap with great electronic and refrigeration skills, Gale Force with a couple from Oregon and Ka-Em-Te (Kiss My Transom) also from Oregon with Doug, a plumber and Trish, an electrician who also bakes bread and assorted buns. Needless to say, she was a very popular person after we discovered that the only bread available was Bimbo bread made with so many preservatives it will last weeks without refrigeration but tastes like soap. All of these boats are headed South. The last boat, Wizard another Californian couple is headed back to San Diego in, what will surely be a long hard slog according to the weather information we are getting on the SSB morning nets. They left the following day.

The next few days were spent beachcombing, attending to some of the items on the task list and socializing with the other boats. Fran had to come up with some interesting appy dishes for the impromptu get togethers. The tuna sashimi went over well for the first few days but freshness is all-important and it soon was past its “sell by date”. It is amazing how people can bond so quickly and how talents and resources can be shared so freely amongst a group such as this.

We also went for a wild ride to San Carlos in the Port Captain’s panga. San Carlos had a few small shops where we were able to get fresh veggies, fruit and meat but their hardware store was very well stocked. Last time I was here I only saw the dilapidated fishing dock which has had a substantial addition to accommodate small and mid-sized tankers and freighters.

With the prospect of a weather window opening up for the leg to Los Cabos most of the boats headed for an anchorage closer to the mouth of the bay at Point Belcher, the site of ruins of a long abandoned Japanese whale processing plant where whale bones still poke out of the sand. The weather predictions for the next few days promise 15-20 kt northerly winds from here to Cabo, increasing as you get 25-30 mile offshore and light and variable winds in the Southern Sea of Cortez, changing to strong northerlies by Thursday of next week. With that in mind, all boats except Mischief departed on Sunday all but one under
sail for the 175-mile leg.

1400,Monday, 31 March
We are within sight of Cabo Falso at the southern tip of the Baja. We expect to reach the harbour at Cabo San Lucas by early evening if all goes well. Conditions have changed considerably over the past few hours. For most of the trip we had 20-25 kt northerly winds with 8-10 ft seas giving us a bumpy but comfortable ride at speeds reaching almost 7 kts under genoa alone. I would not have liked going the opposite way. As we closed the coast the winds and seas have lightened considerably. We are motoring to ensure that we arrive at the port in daylight. We don’t intend to stay very long as we want to get as far north towards La Paz before the northerlies develop in the Sea of Cortez. By Thursday they are expected to be in the 25-30 kt range. So, fuel, water, shower and a quick trip to COSTCO and we’ll be off.
Later - !700
After dodging jet-skis and tour boats for the last few miles we are finally alongside a small marina at the entrance to the harbour. We have decided to splurge the $110 moorage fee just to have a shower and “free” Internet for the night. We will check the latest forecast and decide where and when from here. It is Spring break and it is loud and crowded, the complete opposite of Mag Bay so we won’t linger in Cabo. Next stops will be Los Frailles and/or Los Muertos on our way to La Paz.

By the way; Tuna again on the menu. We caught a 10 lb yellowtail this morning. What a fight! But then again we were going 6 kts under sail and I wasn't reducing sail for a fish. We got him aboard and have pictures to prove it.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

24 March 08: At anchor - Bahia de Ballenas

We have decided that we should see what we could of this coast now that we have the time since we will probably never be back this way. With Dove and Michael gone we are on our own schedule now and that is to get the boat to San Carlos by the end of April for summer storage. We anchored off the remote fishing village of Bahia de Ballenas just before noon after a 19-hour passage from Turtle Bay, some 100 miles to the north. We don't plan to stay here long as there isn't much to see and the surf makes
a beach dinghy landing an exercise we aren't willing to chance. Our next planned destination is Bahia San Juanico, 70 miles along the coast where Charlie's Charts indicates a protected anchorage off another desolate Baja fishing village.

Conditions have improved over the past few days. The cold north wind that had persisted since San Diego has given way to the more seasonable westerly and the cold humid weather has turned markedly warmer and drier. Soon we will be complaining about the heat. After departing Turtle Bay last night we were able to sail on and off in wind conditions that varied from light to near gale. By midnight the wind had died completely and we were forced to use the "iron spinnaker". The repairs done by J-G and
Mike have held firm. Although it vibrates a bit more than it should, the pulley is behaving and Fran's spatula is holding firm.

We bid farewell to Dove and Mike early Sunday morning. They left for their connection to the main Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas bus line by a small local van service. The 3-hour ride along a dusty Baja road must have been an adventure in itself. They will be missed as we continue south, especially Dove's hoard of chocolate and Mike's culinary expertise with fresh tuna. Undoubtedly they will have lots of stories to tell about their time in Gosling; about leaking holding tanks (now fixed), a propane
regulator that needs persuasion with a winch handle to turn on (on the shopping list) and carting 60 lb jugs of drinking water to the boat to supplement the foul tasting (but clean and safe) domestic water we filled the tanks with in San Diego. Bottled water and purification systems are necessary commodities in San Diego as their water is very hard and heavily chlorinated. The outboard we bought had been used exclusively in Southern Californian fresh water lakes and the mineral deposit coating the
lower leg was so thick it took several applications of CLR just to make a dent in it.

26 March 08: At Anchor - Bahia Santa Maria

We made good time towards San Juanico but, just as we were approaching the bay we overheard a couple of cruisers on VHF discussing high wind and sea warnings arriving in our area the following afternoon. We decided to bypass San Juanico and head directly to Bahia Santa Maria, which offers good shelter from the northerlies. The wind was light and sea calm for most of the day so we made good time under power. By the end of the afternoon we had caught 2 more small (3 lb) tuna and J-G got a good head
start on cleaning and waxing the cockpit. We arrived just before midnight, another blind pilotage entry, and tucked into the lee of the headland between two other boats. The temperature is still cool at night but it is the damp that gets you the most. The rigging gets dripping with water.

Oh, hold on!! a panga just pulled up with the offer of langousta. 2 - 4 packs of AA batteries and a colouring book with crayons just got us 2 decent sized lobsters for lunch. Life is tough!

We have made contact with 2 other boats that we had met on the morning net in San Diego, Mischief and K-N-T. Both are in Mag Bay so we are looking to make face-to-face contact when we get there.

Later the same day:

We left Bahia Santa Maria later in the day without setting foot ashore. Without a suitable place to beach a dinghy it was no longer as attractive a spot. Besides, the nasty weather has been delayed by 12 hours so it was time to head for the relative shelter of Man of War Cove in Magdalena Bay.

Enroute we had the best sail of the trip so far and by supper time we were anchored off the village of Magdalena Bay. Supper was tuna - again! (We caught another small one on the way in). We are in the company of several other boats here, including a big trimaran sporting a Dutch flag. San Carlos (the Baja version) is within sight. The last time I was there was in 1984 when we stopped for fuel with Oriole on our way to Quebec City and the Tall Ships event. Hopefully this foul weather will pass quickly
and we'll have a chance to do some exploring before we leave. We'll have to check in with the Port captain here tomorrow and see what the local tiendas have in fresh veg and fruit.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Puerto San Bartoleme (Turtle Bay), 20 Mar 08

Note: {26 March} Apologies for the delay with this one. We had a bit of problems communicating home to get this chapter up on the blog. More tomorrow!

We have arrived in Turtle Bay safely but later than expected. The weather is nice and clear with hot daily temperatures as long as you are in the sun. The wind is still quite cool and it gets downright cold as the sun sets.

Saturday night before we left, Fran did some damage to herself when the main door latch slammed down on her finger. This brought Mike and Dove into action and after bandages and herbal drops Fran settled down to a night of throbbing pain from her, most likely, broken appendage.

After paying all the final bills, last minute shopping, returning the car and last minute good byes to the new friends we had made in San Diego it was time to get ready to leave.

We left San Diego at 2200 on Sunday the 16th of March. It was a clear windless night, as predicted, so spirits were high as we left the boatyard. As we cruised up the channel we devoured some chunks of dark chocolate covered caramel that Mike and Dove had acquired earlier that day to celebrate our departure. When we got to open water we were met by some 4-6 ft quartering swells, the remains of the weekend storm that had given us high winds, thunder, lightning and hail. Needless to say it was a rough
ride south and the rich chocolate caramels did not sit well. Unable to sail due to the light winds and high seas we were forced to power our way south.

While some of us were down with "Queasy Stomachs" Fran stepped up to the plate and stood her watch till 0400 with Dove keeping watch from her sleeping bag on deck.

We arrived at the Ensenada Baja Naval marina at 0935 the following morning where we checked in with the authorities. The check-in procedure was much easier than expected. Because of the volume of yachties that come here they have streamlined their services and have everything under one roof, including a bank teller position. Official government offices in Mexico cannot accept payments so normally you are sent to the nearest bank to complete monetary transactions. Just our luck, it was one of the
many Mexican holidays and we had to pay double for one of the items. It took about an hour to complete everything and we were back aboard to try and arrange fuel. (¼ the price in the US). We were told that the guy who normally delivers the fuel (by barrel) wasn't working today and that we should go to the Marina Coral, one mile up the coast where we could fuel at a modern alongside facility. Lesson learned about prior homework! We had to wait until late afternoon to leave due to tide and wind conditions
but we managed to move in late afternoon, fuel up and leave just before sunset.

As we were leaving J-G noticed that the windvane was hanging precariously by its upper bracket. That took about an hour to repair. Thank-God for spare parts! David N: if you read this, send me an e-mail and I'll give you the details. It looks like it could be a common issue with the Autohelm.

We left in much the same conditions as we had earlier but we also had some wind developing so we had our first sail under genoa for an hour until the breeze died off. We continued under power throughout the night towards our next stop, Turtle Bay, a good 2-day run.

Just after noon the next day a hellish racket developed from the engine, accompanied by smoke and the smell of burning rubber. Oh shit, what now? After shutting down a quick inspection revealed a seized idler pulley, the pulley that controls the tension to the belt driving the waterpump. Time for our second sail! Thanks to Mike's help we were able to free the pulley with some of the penetrating oils we had brought with us from Canada, however, without any idea how long it would last next time we
used it we decided to save the engine until it was absolutely necessary.

Just before sunset Dove noticed action on the fishing rod Mike had put out earlier. She brought in a nice 5 lb tuna. Since then we have had some nigiri, sushi, sashimi and great seared tuna, thanks to Mike's extraordinary culinary skills.

We continued under genoa, main and mizzen but with the wind almost dead astern we had to sail off our intended track losing precious time in the process. We continued like this for the next 2 days amending our plan as we slipped back. Our delay meant that we would arrive off Turtle Bay in the late evening with the prospect of entering after dark. Without the engine to recharge the batteries we had to conserve energy and hence the autopilot was turned off. With the quartering sea steering was very
tiring but everyone performed great, even the two landlubbers. Dove benefited, no doubt, from her short time in Robertson II and Pacific Swift 17 years ago.

By 1800 the wind began to die off and the chop we had experienced since we left San Diego disappeared. We ran up the engine but after an hour it engine overheated. This time we found that the pulley had actually fallen off its shaft. After fashioning a setscrew from a spare bolt we tried again but that didn't last more than 15 minutes. Our next repair was more thorough. We disassembled the bearing and found that it was badly worn but still useable, however, it was very loose and no longer pressed
into the pulley itself. This time we repacked it with grease and fashioned a large washer out of one of Fran's nylon spatulas to hold it in place and reassembled it with a prayer or two. This time it held fine and looks like it may last until Cabo unless we can get a new bearing here.

Just after midnight on the 20th we entered Turtle Bay under a full moon, light airs and calm seas. The setup was much like a naval "Special Sea Dutymen" exercise with lookouts, radar and GPS navigation set up and Fran steering from a position where she couldn't see anything. We anchored just off the town dock in 24 ft of water in the company of 2 other cruisers. Before turning in we had a few shots of tequila to celebrate a safe arrival.

We haven't seen too much wildlife so far but just as we entered Ensenada Dove saw a school of dolphins close alongside. There was also a grey whale, the following day, that Fran had to alter for. Hopefully there will be more but the El Nina is altering conditions all along the Pacific coast.

At sunset today we had a small ceremony on the bow where we had a gulp of 2-buck chuck, expressed our wishes for Gosling's future and then broke the rest of the bottle on the anchor fairlead. Only good luck from now on…….

The plan is to remain here over the weekend. Dove and Mike will leave us here for Cabo on Sunday and we will depart early next week for Magdalena Bay. We have some exploring to do here first.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Ready, Aye , Ready

15 March 08

We are there! We have been so busy that we have not even been able to dedicate the time to writing the blog for the past 2 weeks. Our apologies if you were waiting for the next installment.

Perseverance has paid off, cash helped too. We are over budget but the boat is as ready as it will ever be. At some point in the past few days we have realized that, even though there remains a number of small projects, the important ones have been accomplished and Gosling is ready to sail, thanks, in part, to Mike and Dove who arrived early last week. They and were instrumental in getting us ready on time.

In summary, the work over the past 2 weeks:

The mast was repaired and stepped on time and Rocco tuned the rig. The crack has been cut out and the mast has a high-density plastic product as a base corresponding to the amount that was cut off, therefore the stays did not need any modification.

The traveler arrived from Garhauer last week and J-G installed it the same day only to find that the car and end pieces were not compatible with the layout. A quick call to Guido at Garhauer sorted that problem and a new set was shipped. This one was a perfect setup.

Alberto completed the engine repairs on the 14th. The exhaust part arrived late but the welder gave us priority and the gear was ready to be installed by the 12th as promised. The new part was so nice that it was a shame to cover it with insulation. Once he had completed the work we had a sea trial and all worked perfectly.

J-G and Mike worked till the early hours of the morning on Thursday to relocate the refrigeration unit. The tech arrived the next morning to recharge the system and we now have ice for the margaritas!

Several plumbing issues were also solved including replacing the hand operated bilge pump and a thorough cleaning of the water tanks. The hot water heartier is working great, probably the first time in 30 years. When the old one was removed we discovered that it still have a 220V element, no doubt the original one from build.

Fran’s pet projects included the installation of a new windshield on the hard dodger, replacing the cockpit chair and the re-upholstering of the V-berth and the cockpit cushions.

The mainsail wear marks were repaired and the foot line was replaced.

The dinghy’s rub-rails were replaced. This, apparently, is a common problem with Avon products. The local shop replaces them with rub-rails made by Achilles. The Nissan outboard was also serviced.

The liferaft arrived back tested and repacked. The service centre was very impressed

at the condition it was in after so many years. (1981vintage).

The new BBQ arrived, an E-Bay purchase.What a bargain!

Dove and Fran went to town cleaning the accumulated boatyard grime from Gosling. What a difference! It was a real pleasure to complement their work with the installation of the name-plates that Dave Deeks, a CFSA chum, made up for us before we left.

The yard here and many of the embedded businesses were extremely gracious and cooperative allowing us the use of various tools and for their advice. The staff at Yachtfinders, where we bought the boat, has also been a lot of help by allowing us the use of their phones, a computer to do our correspondence and copying/printing of material we will need on our trip South. Fran has been attending to the paperwork we will need when we get to Mexico. The most tedious task has been to prepare a complete inventory of the fitted equipment for Mexican customs. Thanks to the surveyor for listing much of the equipment and the former owner for keeping all of his receipts.

We had initially planned to leave on Friday the 14th but with a winter storm warning with gales and high seas predicted to last out the weekend we decided to delay until Sunday night (16th). The large marine swap meet at the Chula Vista Yacht Club slated for Saturday had no bearing on the decision, really... but we took advantage of it anyway and found a few things we still needed. Why hadn’t they scheduled this a few weeks before? We saw many items on sale that we had purchased over the past few weeks.

Our renaming and thanks to all party was held on Friday with a few friends we had made at Phillip’s party a few weeks previous.. The new BBQ got a good workout and we now know that we can easily fit 7 people in the salon. Cleaning up in preparation for the event was beneficial in that we were able to find nooks and crannies for most of the stuff we have to store prior to departure, including 4 cases of 2-buck Chuck. Here we thought the term was a colloquialism for cheap wine but we now know it is a brand sold at Trader Joes and it is quite decent. Even Fran, with her discriminating taste for wine, rather likes it.

Tomorrow is our last day here. The weather predictions are promising calm seas and light winds from a favourable direction so we should be away by 2200 tomorrow night to make Ensenada the following morning for a quick check in and then depart for Turtle Bay. Dove and Mike only have a week left before they have to get back to Canada so we are pressed for time and we have to see Turtle Bay and Magdalena Bay.. All we have left to do is some last minute shopping, some training and return the rental car.

The next blog entry will most likely be posted by our son Chris, in Vancouver, via a Winlink message. We haven’t been able to test the system here due to the interference here in San Diego so we are crossing fingers that it will go well once we are clear of San Diego.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Struggling in San Diego

1 March 08 – Week 4

Less than 2 weeks to go to our target date and there seems to be more jobs on the list than there were 2 weeks ago.

The engine work has still not been completed. The oil cooler has arrived but we are still waiting for the new exhaust part to me manufactured. Hopefully it will be ready by early next week. By the time Alfredo comes back to finish the engine work he will find a much cleaner and brighter engine space. J-G has spent a few evenings cleaning the space and touching up the engine. He will also see the new hot water heater that arrived on Friday. It will replace the original G&M Aquaheat heater that has not been working for a few years.

The mainmast was removed on Friday to repair the crack at its base. Rocco the rigger assures me that it should be finished by Tuesday. In the meantime I have replaced the incandescent masthead lights with LED lights. We won’t be among the many boats that run without lights at night to save battery power.

The refrigeration tech paid us a visit and sorted out a minor glitch. We now have refrigeration and Fran was finally able to empty the stand-by ice chest. Now we have to decide on moving the refer unit as it takes up too much valuable storage room under the sink and is in an overly humid location. The refer tech did suggest that I spray the entire unit, except the cooling fins, with Boeshield T-9. Developed by the Boeing company to coat the entire inner surfaces of wings before final assembly. The resultant film protects against all corrosion. It can also be sprayed on electrical and electronic assemblies.

For the past few days we had a nagging problem with the water pressure circuit that developed quite suddenly. J-G traced it to a short but all it cost us was wasted time – something we can’t afford too much of. Another battle won was an irritating leak in the shower mixing valves that would cause the water pump to come on every 10-15 minutes as the pressure leaked out.. After replacing all 3 sets of the o-rings in each unit we can finally put that concern behind us.

We have met Phillip Cooper, a young British sailor who, after years of skippering boats in the Med and UK he has decided to accept a position with a British university to head up their Maritime training division’s sailing program. He was sent to the US to buy a suitable boat and has found a real gem in a Swan 44. He is just completing the preparations to ship her to the UK via land to Ft Lauderdale and then ship transport to Southhampton. We were invited over for a sundown party on Tuesday where we met a few of the local characters, including one of the RN exchange officers. Phillip also introduced us to the local yachties’ bar, Fiddler’s Green, a locale where the elite of the sailing world hang out. On the evening we went J-G met Doug Peterson, the designer of Antares. Dennis Conner is another usual here but was away racing in Mexico.

On Wednesday we drove to Ensenidas (Newport Beach) to Minny’s a used boating superstore much like the Boater’s Exchange in Sidney but much better organized and laid out. Fran had to warn the boys not to get out before the car stopped moving. We found lots of treasures there including a 35lb Danforth anchor and many smaller needed items. On the way back we picked up a 5 HP Nissan outboard motor that we had found advertised in the local boating news. Earlier in the week we purchased a second hand Achilles inflatable dinghy.

Dove, our son Mike’s partner had a layover on Wednesday night with us on her way to meet Mike in Cabo San Lucas. It was a short but enjoyable visit, Fran benefiting the most from Dove’s professional attributes with a neck massage before bedtime. Dove’s parting words were wishes that our problems would dissipate. Within 3 hours we had refrigeration, water pressure and news from the life raft inspection facility that our 27 year-old liferaft was in excellent shape!

We have also discovered that the rules on Mexican fishing licenses have changed. It is no longer necessary to have a license for the boat, dinghy, life raft and each member of the crew. As of January only the crew needs to be licensed.

Fran has begun the inventory that we will need to present to the Mexican authorities on making our clearing in procedure. Downwind marine makes the process much easier by providing a disk with most of the required forms and a full description of the process.

More news next week.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Refit in San Diego

Week two of the refit has been encouraging with progress on most fronts. The bills are going up as well but we haven’t reached our budget yet. I think it will be close.

We have had a lot of progress this week. On Tuesday, Alberto, the mechanic arrived and spent the afternoon disassembling the exhaust elbow and the oil cooler. Once removed the leak we suspected during the test sail was obvious. There were several pinholes in the iron pipe just below the mixing elbow. That was sent to the welders to have a new stainless unit made up. The oil cooler was badly corroded and will need some major surgery or replacement if a suitable replacement can be found. The leak in the injector system may have been a loose connection that was found after some of the equipment was removed. If that is the case I won’t need that injector pump rebuild estimated at $1500. Replacement of the engine mounts will have to wait till next year. After an exhaustive search Alberto thinks he found some but cost was prohibitive at $400 each. Since then I received an answer to my query to the Camper& Nicholson archivist indicating a manufacturer and model number of the replacement items. He is also sending me a copy of the original plumbing and wiring diagrams for the boat. No doubt it will have little semblance to the existing arrangement after 34 years of alterations but it may answer some questions about some of the wires that don’t seem to go anywhere.

Alan Katz (alias Dr. Electron), the electrician, did his magic yesterday and all is well power-wise and I am now much more knowledgeable on the boat’s electric and electronic systems. We got rid of the starting bank of 4 group 27, 12V batteries, as they were at least 5 years old and one or 2 were defective, thus the boiling off I experienced last week when I turned the systems back on. We replaced them with 2 similar batteries and added 2 more 6V golf cart batteries to augment the house bank. The solar panels are now fully operational with the addition of a 20-amp controller. It was nice to see current going into the charging circuit even on a dull day. Alan also reorganized the charging circuits to optimize the system’s capabilities. He also gave me a short tutoring on the Furuno Nav-net system comprising the radar, GPS, chart-plotter, depth/fish-finder and knotmeter functions. The former owner wanted redundancy so there is also a Simrad wind/depth and knotmeter system as a backup.

The tracing of the plumbing system discovered some interesting aspects. The supply tube of the water-maker, which was not used by the former owner, ended just above the bilge. Had it been turned on it would have supplied purified water to the bilge pump! A few other lines had been cut as systems were added or changed over the years and I was able to pull out about 20 ft of old clear plastic tubing. I also found that the manual bilge pump discharge hose was not connected. It is amazing what you can find by pulling up the deck boards.

The mast work has been delayed till next week. Hopefully the engine will be back running so that we won’t need to be towed to the crane site.

Fran arrives tomorrow from Puerto Vallarta tomorrow afternoon. The laundry is done and I even bought groceries. All is well aboard GOSLING.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Finally onboard in San Diego

Night 3 onboard at the Shelter Island Boatyard, San Diego.

Thursday, 14 Feb: After a tiring day of flying around Mexico, courtesy of Orbitz (one of those web based el cheapo travel companies) where I was routed from Puerto Vallarta, through Guadalajara, Mexico City and Cabo San Lucas, I finally arrived in San Diego. The ticket was cheap so I guess I got what I paid for.

The last 2 days have been a blur. Thanks to the generosity of the broker I have been able to get in contact with all of the experts needed to do the work on the boat. Unfortunately many of them can’t start for a few days or weeks but as of this afternoon it looks like our target date of 12 March might be achievable. The companies I had counted on to start the work early all bailed on me, including the engineer who was supposed to be finished by now. I can’t blame him too much as he blew a knee in a skiing accident in January. He is supposed to be coming tomorrow to start his bit. I now have an electrician lined up for next Wednesday and a rigger to do the mast work at the end of the month. The electrician, Doctor Electron, was highly recommended by a cruiser in Puerto Vallarta. His initial inspection today was reassuring. I may not have to get as much work done as I expected and he recommended some changes to my battery system that will significantly improve my power availability. The batteries that had previously boiled off will most likely have to be replaced but I will be able to improve my house bank while reducing my starter set.

I have come to the realization that it is impossible to do any project of this type without a reliable source of communication. Everyone I speak to needs a phone number to reach me and I can’t always rely on the good graces of the broker, particularly on the weekend. My search for a cheap cell phone was rewarding today. I found a pay-as-u-go system today with 200 anytime minutes for under $50.00. Can’t beat that! I got my first wrong number at 5:30 the next morning….

Meanwhile, between shopping trips to Target, West Marine, Home Depot, Goodwill, groceries and other bits I have been able to get some of the onboard projects started. It is a steep learning curve, figuring out the systems. I now appreciate the requirement we had as new members of a ship’s company when we were tasked to trace the systems onboard our new ships. I wish it was as easy on this boat but much of the wiring and plumbing is inaccessible, however, by lifting bilge boards and settee cushions I have been able to trace the important circuits, valves and fittings.

Yes, that was Goodwill in the last paragraph. There were no pots, pans, cutlery or crockery onboard when we bought this boat. One of the boxes I unpacked contained a set of dishes Fran had ordered from Target. The remainder of the equipment I needed came from Goodwill and the Salvation Army stores. They have big ones here and they are very popular stores with lots of dedicated shoppers. I even got a 10% discount for being over 55!

Saturday 16 Feb: More running around today. Some of the plumbing items I need require specialist stores. You can’t find plumbing bits for a 34-year old boat built in the UK at Home Depot so a trip out of town to a specialist-plumbing store was needed. That took most of the day as I had to do 4 stores to find the right part.

I spent most of this evening going through the 5 binders that the former owner left with the boat. They contain most of the technical literature for the equipment on the boat. The former owner was a techie and wanted lots of shiny electronic gizmos so I have some pretty fancy equipment onboard. After purchasing the boat in 2003 he had approx $45K of improvements done. This included rewiring the boat to 12V from 24V, refrigeration, new sails and running rigging and replacing all of the electronics. There is even a weather-fax here somewhere but I haven’t found it yet. There is also a 2 meter rig! The learning curve has steepened!

Until today the weather here has been horrid. Yesterday we had rainsqualls on and off all day but today we had a change for the better and it was warm until the sun set. Nights have been quite cold. I’ve had to use sail bags as extra blankets!

Sunday: Bought a nice wool blanket at Goodwill and shopped at Home depot again. I should have bought shares! Good progress today in the warm sunshine, finally. Also found a free internet spot but I have to drive about 6 blocks to the parking lot of the Holiday Inn to use their service. Beggars can’t be choosers…..

More next week.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Anticipation in Puerto Vallarta

It has been a frustrating month trying to set up a work schedule to ensure the boat will be ready to sail by mid-March.

We are still in Puerto Vallarta so all dealings and arrangements must be done by e-mail and service down here isn’t as regular as we have been accustomed to up north. However, we aren’t dealing with snow and rain so there are some consolations.

Our first problem came up when the boating insurance company in Victoria that we had been dealing with announced that our application had been rejected by Lloyds because of: “ the age, the low value and the condition of the boat, as per survey and recommendations”. It is inconceivable that such a highly respected company as Lloyds would reject an application for a boat built in 1974, in the UK, to their own strict specifications. On quizzing the agent I was told that they don’t normally insure boats under $100K. With regards to the survey, there are no red flags that can’t be set right, and besides, what experienced sailor will sail away on or buy a boat that is unsafe. The strong construction of the C&N boats and their reputation are what finally convinced us to buy Gosling. Needless to say we were ticked! We were really puzzled when we applied online to a company in Vancouver and were immediately accepted for a Lloyds policy. Go figure!!!

Lining up experts to deal with the survey recommendations has been a problem. Some of those we had arranged to do work have not responded to e-mails so we have been forced to enlist others. Luckily, here in Puerto Vallarta we are in a cruising heaven so there are lots of people down here who know who to go to in San Diego. Their recommendations have been fruitful and we now have commitments from a rigger, mechanic and an electronics specialist. Everything seems to be lined up now and, hopefully all will get done in time to meet our 12 Mar target date. Much of the work would probably be cheaper if done in Mexico but the price of parts is much more and many boaters have had very bad experiences when shipping parts south of the border. At least at Shelter Island I have the advantage of the complete variety of tech experts and the availability of just about any part needed.

Gosling was out of the water from the 10th of Jan to the beginning of this past week. Clark Hardy, our sales rep (and guardian angel) at Yachtfinders has kept us up to date on progress and reports that the bottom job was very well carried out.

Fran and I have decided that it will be better if I arrive in San Diego earlier than originally planned to supervise the work and get Gosling ready. I am booked out of here on the 12th via Mexico City and Cabo San Lucas, however, Aeromexico has been playing games with my reservations. As of the time of this posting I am leaving here at 0700 and have a 12 hr layover in Mexico City.

On another note, we have been in contact with Passat II. Unfortunately we won't be able to see Barry and Sandra as they are still in transit from Mazatlan where they spent a few weeks including attending the famous Mardi Gras. We were able to have their CFSA burgee delivered in time before they cast off for points south.

More in a week or so after I get to San Diego.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

First Post

Where to start on a new Blog? We are Fran and Jean-Guy Nadeau from Victoria, BC, members of the Canadian Forces Sailing Association and the Blue Water Cruising Association.

This is our second blog. The first was on Sailblog.Com last year when we were sailing with friends out of Puerto Vallarta. Our plans to hop across the Pacific with them in 2008 have been thwarted by technical problems. Our wonderful experience of sailing the west coast of Mexico and, in particular, the Sea of Cortez, encouraged us to look for our own boat.

We began our search for a suitable craft in mid-2007. Yachtworld.Com proved to be the best source of boats once again. In 2003 we found Antares, a Peterson 34 in Seattle through this great site. This time we found Gigi, a Camper & Nicholson 42, for sale by Yachfinders in San Diego. We went to see Gigi in early December and decided that she was the boat for us. Gigi was built in 1974, the 6th hull of 14 made by one of the oldest and most respected yacht building firms in the world.

Trying to find information on Camper & Nicholson boats proved to be quite a challenge until I contacted a surveyor in the UK who referred me to Jeremy Lines, a long time employee of the company and now their official, “volunteer archivist”. Jeremy was a wealth of information. He has a file on all of the vessels built by the company and was able to tell me specific information on this boat, including all of her former owners. It was through Jeremy that last owner. Since then it has been a fascinating exercise to contact previous owners and getting first hand information.

The purchase was realized through the cooperation of Larry Glowaski of Advanced Yacht Sales in Sidney, BC and Clark Hardy of Yachtfinders, in San Diego. Complicating the transaction was the transfer of the boat from US to Canadian registry. This was assisted by a documentation research company at in Anacortes, Washington. We took the opportunity to rename the vessel to the original “Gosling” that had been given to her by her first owner when she was launched in 1974.

Getting started on our cruising adventure will be quite a challenge. The survey revealed quite a few items that will have to be attended to prior to departing San Diego. The most important aspects will be attended to in early January when the boat will be hauled for a 2 week period to give her a hull makeover and cutlass bearing change. Fran and I will be arriving in mid-February to attend to the other survey items and get her ready to sail south for Mexico. Our son and his girlfriend have been pressed as crew for that portion of the trip.

Our intentions are to get used to her over the next few winters in Mexican waters and then we’ll decide if we want to venture further afield. Fran has always wanted to see the Galapagos and we still dream of seeing the South pacific. Like so many other cruisers we want to do this while we are still able. In Mexico we will be sailing in waters frequented by many Canadians. When time comes to store Gosling for the hot summer months we will sail her to San Carlos and have her hauled at the Marina Seca facility. In the meantime, there won’t be much activity on this site until we get to San Diego.

Keep in touch with us and see if we actually realize our dream….