Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mazatlan for Christmas

Merry Christmas from Gosling

Christmas tree

Christmas Eve Dinner

Tanque de Tiburon entering under tow

Rosie and her pal Amber

Ernie and his pals at the pool.

Pork anyone?

14:00 Christmas Day 2010
It is hard to believe we have been here for 4 days already. Time flies when you are alongside, especially in a resort atmosphere like this one. We are an hour away from our Christmas dock party. Fran has a Pollo Navidad (Christmas chicken, marinated in fruit juices) in the oven. Somewhere in the marina there is another pollo and a turkey, which has been cut in two so that it will fit in 2 boat ovens. This will be a pot luck event so you never know what will be contributed. They are so much fun. I will be preparing a vat of Moosemilk, a Canadian Navy tradition that is also very popular in the other two services of Canada. Hopefully no-one will fall off the dock after imbibing....
The saga of Tanque de Tiburon continued this week. After leaving Topolobampo their engine quit after 12 hours so they had to sail the rest of the way. They had good wind conditions, for the most part, and sailed down using their genoa only, arriving off Mazatlan yesterday afternoon. Conditions were too choppy and windy to attempt a tow into the narrow harbour opening so they anchored out in the lee of Deer Island for the night. We tried in vain to get them going under their own power but the engine refused all attempts at resuscitation. This morning we went out at 7 a.m. to tow them in with our dinghies tying them up alongside to give them steerage way. Conditions were almost ideal with light winds but with a 2-3 foot residual sea from yesterday’s blow. By 08:00 they were tied up alongside at Marina Mazatlan and ready for a hot shower and a good nap before coming to the dinner.
It is really nice to see the boats all decked out in their finest Christmas decorations. Some are more permanent dwellers here so they are decked out to the 9’s with lights everywhere. We cruisers have to find places to store these things and, with most boats, storage space is at a premium and we are one the minimalists among the group. We have several strings of solar powered lights and a few strings of 110v that we can use when connected to shore power. Our Christmas tree (a palm tree shaped fir tree) folds up into a small box and Fran has made some sea shell decorations.
Last night we had Christmas Eve dinner onboard with Pam and Steve. (Full Quiver) Fran made her usual Christmas Eve fare, tourtiere, a dish she learned from my mom but has improved on. In past years the ingredients have depended on where we are. When we visited Australia she made it with kangaroo meat. Here it was the more traditional pork.
Some of our friends will be leaving this week and heading south towards the warmer waters of Banderas Bay and the Gold Coast (Tenecatita-Manzanillo) area. That’s where we will be heading once we leave here with a stop in San Blas to deliver some things for Kirk (Freedom Kirkland). Tanque also has a few items for him and Kirk will be bringing down some hinges for me to finally re-assemble the table.
0800, Tuesday, 28 Dec 2010
The Christmas party was a blast. The moosemilk and Fran’s Naniamo Bars were very well received and will most likely become a tradition with Gosling from now on. As expected the variety of food was amazing and the Mexican Pollos were the juiciest we have ever had. Everyone had a great time and no-one went for a swim off the dock, however, many of us retired to the resort hot-tub afterwards and all made it back to their boats.
The ranks are beginning to thin out. Four of our companion boats have left and more will depart before the week is out. The others will stay until after the New Year, like us. We will be having a cabinet made for the master cabin while we are here. This is a project J-G has wanted to do for the past 2 years but with all of his good tools at home in the workshop and the need for precise measurements and compound curve drawings it has always been one of those “round to it” items. There is a good carpenter working a few of the boats in the marina and we hope to get it done before we leave.
Next issue, in a week or so. Everyone have a great New Years and a great start to 2011.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Refit completed - departing Guaymas

Mexican Junkfood

Skating in Mexico

Departure morning; high fog bank but clear below.

19:15, 17 Dec 2010, At sea, enroute to Mazatlan`
We are finally at sea, on our way south. It is a clear night with light winds and a calm sea. The moon is directly overhead, waxing to a full moon in another few days. Orion, my favourite constellation, has just risen in the east and somewhere between Bellatrix and Alderbaran the star “Jean-Guy” is burning a hole in the sky. (Fran named the star for me as a Christmas present a few years ago). There are no visual or radar contacts. We have been under power all day because of the calm conditions and the engine is purring like a kitten (OK, a big kitten). We had a large pod of dolphin’s visit us outside the harbour approaches this morning and a wonderful green flash at sunset, good omens. Fran is in her bunk and I am standing the first watch of the evening. Manasea, Plan B and Tanque de Tiburon are in company but spread over a 30 mile path astern. Life is grand!
It was a great feeling to cast off the lines this morning and head out of the harbour. We have seen so many of our friends leave over the past few weeks and have received e-mails that many are already in Mazatlan enjoying the pre-Christmas events. For the past few days there has been a lot of fog in the area and all the way down the coast. Nights have been very damp with heavy dew and we were worried that we’d be delayed but this morning, although overcast was clear. Once we got away from the coast it cleared up and we has a sunny but calm day. It is nice to relax once again, something that hasn’t been on our menu for the past month.
It has been a very busy week since launching on Monday. Storing and organising the living areas was the biggest task. Omar returned and checked the engine alignment and it was near perfect, testimony to his last alignment 2 years ago. I must admit that the vibration we used to experience is all but gone. The machining of the shaft seems to have corrected that. Doug and Trish finished wiring of the grounds, solar panels and a new shore power connection port. The original was in the cockpit and was always in the way. All of the jerry cans and fuel tanks were filled and lashed to the guardrails. They look much better with the covers Fran made to match the new sail covers. This year we have quite a variety: 100-1 and 50-1 mixture for the outboards, high test gas for the generator, diesel for the main engine and 2 cans of potable drinking water. Last year the containers were covered by old t-shirts to protect them from the sun. The last task was to stock up on cervesa and put the car in the storage yard for the winter. Fran did that yesterday.
0610, 19 Dec, at Sea
It is twilight, day 3 of our trip south to Mazatlan; the eastern sky is aglow in pink and gold promise of another beautiful sunrise. It has been a cool night but not as damp as yesterday. The company has changed somewhat. Tanque de Tiburon is experiencing alternator problems and will have to stop in Topolobambo to replace it with his spare. Plan B is also stopping there to sort out a leaking cooling system. Manasea is forging ahead; his trimaran much lighter and swifter than us. We have heard Rich on Third Day calling in on the radio and he appears to be paralleling our track towards Mazatlan from the Cabo side.
Yesterday was a quiet day with decent winds on the stern which gave J-G the opportunity to try out a few sails that we brought down with us that came with Antares, our last boat. The heavy (3 ½ oz) spinnaker will probably stay but the Tall Boy will be going. What an odd sail, a cross between a drifter and a jib, some former owner’s race breaker. We’ll probably end up giving that one away just to get rid of it. We’ve also discovered that the new stack pack sail cover scheme has lowered the mizzen boom by a few inches. Now the boom interferes with the outboard engine storage mounts. That will be a harder one to sort out. Note: the easy solution was to re-insert the outer lug on the foot of the sail to the boom track. It now clears the mounts .
One never has the time to get bored on these long passages. There is always something to fix or adjust, normal routines to be followed like taking and logging fixes, listening and participating in the morning and evening radio nets, checking the engine state, fuel levels, and such. Keeping a good lookout is very important out here. Fishing activity is everywhere and already Phil (Manasea) has had to go swimming twice to free his boat from floating fishing lines. All that considered, there are Spanish courses on CD to listen to and many books that have to be read. The more we read the lighter the boat gets, at least in theory. They normally get exchanged for other books to read.
Then there is Rosie, our live mascot. Since we left she has not ventured very far from the aft cabin bunk. Yesterday we managed to get her to do her business on the bow after shutting down the engine and finding course that minimized roll and pitch. She managed to eat a bit of food and Fran makes sure she has a drink on a regular basis. She will bounce back to the party dog we all know as soon as the first line is on the dock.
2100, 19 December, 60 miles to go.
It is an absolutely beautiful night. The moon is full and bright enough to give us a horizon as we motor down the coast on a sea of glass. There are lots of fishing vessels bobbing in the distance and the temperature is much more pleasant than last night. Earlier we had another fantastic sunset and our third “Green Flash” in a row. On the down side we have not caught any fish since leaving Guaymas. We’ll have to check what colour of lures are working before our next leg south to San Blas in a few weeks.
It has been a pleasant day. We sailed most of the morning until the wind died. With the engine on and foresail down Rosie has braved the decks and, on a few occasions came up by herself to do her business. Is this a sign that she is getting used to this way of life???
We have been called by Bill (Optical Illusion) and Pam (Full Quiver) from their berths at El Cid. It will be nice to catch up to everyone. On the other hand, we heard from Bill and Linda (Tanque de Tiburon) that they were pulling into Topolobambo this morning to effect repairs to their electrical system, engine and gooseneck. Linda believes in the “3” principle of bad luck and is confident that with 3 problems they will be safe for a while. Plan B is following about 60 miles astern with his engine problems unresolved. Phil is 10 miles ahead, still dodging the fishermen close to shore but, thankfully, not dealing with their equipment today.
2100, 21 December, El Cid marina Dock B-35
We made it without incident and tied up alongside at 0900 on the 20th. Bill (Optical Illusion) told us that there was only one berth left and that we should take it before anyone else did. Good thing we followed his advice because there were several other boats that were refused later on. One of them had chosen to go for fuel before taking a berth. Too bad for them and hooray for us. Good thing we had a reservation. It was a nice reception with many of our old cruising acquaintances already there. We were also warmly greeted by Cliff and Lynne (Taya) from Vancouver, on their first season in Mexico. Cliff admitted to having read our blog and having been inspired. Somebody actually reads this thing!!! If there are others out there please leave a short note in the comments section.
The boat is now in festive colours with our Palm tree Christmas tree on the bow and several strings of solar Christmas lights. We are minimalists compared to others boats in the marina which are adorned with miles of light strings. One even has a reindeer and tree, all in lights. We will be celebrating with a dock Christmas dinner on Christmas day. So far there are 26 people participating, including Linda and Bill, (Tanque de Tiburon) who are now fixed and departing from Topolobambo tomorrow morning. It should be a fun week.
Hope all of you have a safe and wonderful Christmas and New Year.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Afloat again - Refit week 3

We're off to the "splash zone". Fran is taking the ride.

Reworked shaft. Notice the machined taper.

Concentrate now! Thou shall not sew fingers...

Bottom paint - again...

Doug and Trish hard at it.

Happy 60th, Fran!!

20:30, Monday, 13 Dec 2010

Gosling is afloat!!! We launched late this morning. The engine started up on the first push after a six month rest and we moved over to the marina side to complete the preps for sailing. There is a weather advisory for later this week so we are now expecting to sail on Friday for Mazatlan where many of our cruising buddies are heading.
Needless to say we have had a very busy week. With the help of Trish and Doug (Ka-Em-Te) I doubt that we would have completed in time. Trish did some stellar work on the boat’s ground and bonding system. She also ran a ground from the inverter to the engine, a detail that was omitted by the original installer regardless of the highlighted notes in the installation instructions. Today she was connecting the new solar panels. Doug spent a few days cleaning and greasing the through-hull fittings while Fran sewed up a storm with her new (used) sewing machine making covers for winches and the jerry cans. Francisco and his son Alejandro filled the mounting holes for the old wind vane and repainted the transom. While all of this was happening, Omar, the mechanic, was replacing the cutlass bearing. He was able to remove the prop with a crude but very effective home-made puller when 2 other commercially made ones failed. With the shaft off the boat and at a machine shop to be cleaned and trued J-G set to the dirtiest job of the refit.
He had done some of the bilge under the engine a few years ago when we replaced the engine mounts but last season we noticed that the drain from the engine bilge to the sump was partially blocked. With a pressure washer borrowed from Francisco (painter) and our small wet/dry shop vac he thoroughly cleaned both bilges and cleared the plugged passage. Somehow the wet/dry vac survived the ordeal with the help of lots of degreaser and the pressure washer.
J-G had been concerned about the lack of enough sacrificial zincs on the hull. After looking at home at all the local and internet suppliers he had given up and hoped to get something adequate locally here. He mentioned it to the owner of the machine shop and within 2 days they were cast, machined and installed for a fraction of the price up north, another testament of Mexican ingenuity.
The last item before launching was to apply the bottom paint. This time we used a Sherwin Williams product, Proline, 55% copper, to which we added a kg of copper dust to the 5 gal pail. J-G applied 2 coats using up 3 gals. The remainder is going to San Blas with us in early Jan for Kirk’s boat (Freedom Kirkland).
The headliner panels were finally installed. What a difference! The pure white reflects the light from the new LED lights we have installed (Source LED). Although the lights still give RF interference on the VHF their brightness is amazing, much better than the old halogen lights and at a fraction of the electrical consumption.
The launching is always a production number. This time the travel lift couldn’t fit between the 2 boats beside us so Horacio, the yard manager, had to move one to make room. When the straps were applied we had lots of cardboard sheets available to protect the new paint job. Once lowered in the water and all of the thru-hull valves checked for leaks the engine was stared and we were free once again.
We have removed all of the gear we won’t need for this season off the boat and into the van for storage. It is almost as full as it was when we drove down with sail bags, covers and various things we will need when we get back next May.
Since we arrived at the dock we have had Trish onboard connecting up the new solar panels. J-G has set up the mainsail and tomorrow when the wind is light we’ll put up the genoa. There are still lots of small jobs to get done, stuff we have been piling up in various locations has to be stowed, fishing equipment set up, flags hoisted, engine oil, oil and fuel filters changed, water tanks filled, fuel topped up for the boat, generator and dingy, last minute provisioning, some minor caulking and teak oil applied to the toe-rail, plan the passage to Mazatlan, and, finally, getting everything secured and stowed for sea. When we start rocking and rolling it is often too late to lash things down.
Two days ago we bid farewell to Relax, heading for the Baja and this morning to Rio Nimpkish on their way to Mazatlan. We also learned a few days ago that Steve on Full Quiver came down with a serious case of the flu during their stopover in Topolobambo. John and Barb (Naida) decided to wait until he recovered and they left yesterday morning for Mazatlan after a 3-day delay.
On Thursday we celebrated Fran’s 60th birthday with friends at a restaurant in San Carlos. Bill and Linda (Tanque de Tiburon) had just arrived the previous day so this was our first contact with them. They had a lot of items for us and other boats we will see in the coming weeks. The most important item for J-G was a new cordless drill/driver. He won’t have to borrow anymore. They also brought down Fran’s new waterproof camera that J-G had purchased online. Looks like Tanque will be sailing south with us. Hope things go better this time; last year we had to tow them into Mazatlan.
We are hoping to catch up with Reno and Nina in Mazatlan when their cruise ship comes in for the day on the 28th. We really want them to see what cruising on a budget is. After the opulence of the cruise ship it should be interesting to see their reaction.
Many thanks to Doug and Trish for their tireless efforts to get us ready and to Bill and Linda for volunteering to be the shipping agents for many of the Canadian boats.
The rink on the town square is up and running. It is covered during the day and doesn't open till 2100. Skate rentals, helmets and ice time all for the equivalent of about $4.50. No hockey sticks or pucks. It will be here for a month. Kids and adults line up for hours to get a chance to try something rare to this country. How they make it work with the daytime heat is a wonder. It opened up the night of the Christmas parade and the night of Fran's birthday.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pre-launch refit - week 2

The town's outside rink - won't be long now.

Gosling's New Look

Thanks to Dave (Canada Goose)

Pinata killer Fran

Guaymas, Monday, 6 Dec 2010
It has been one of those very frustrating weeks of one step forward and 2 back. We are progressing, but finding some of the chores difficult if not impossible to do while others are taking much longer than anticipated. Forgetting parts at home doesn’t help either. The hinges for the salon table are somewhere in the workshop where the table was refinished over the summer. There are also a couple of wooden mouldings there, part of the head-liner framing. Those we can replace here but the hinges are a British product and there is nothing close available here.
We are waiting for the mechanic to show up to remove the prop and replace the cutlass bearing. The prop was last removed just after we bought the boat and is refusing all attempts of removal so far. The fact that it is on a 1 ¾ inch shaft doesn’t help. Normal prop pullers are designed for smaller assemblies. Hopefully the mechanic will have done work on fishing vessels.
The plan to swap out the solar panels has gone by the wayside and we have had to look for other solutions to install the 2 new ones on the rail. Mounting brackets are difficult to find here but the brackets for the Scotty rod holders will fill the bill nicely for now.
This week we finally took the plunge and removed the wind vane. It was a difficult decision to make but one that has given us peace of mind. It has been the source of constant trouble for the past 3 years so this season we were planning to replace the entire mounting assembly, however, the prospect of having the mounts welded by Sr Hernandez, a very good but notoriously unreliable local welder, had us concerned that it would hold us up. Mike (Tazmo) had shown an interest in the gear since he first saw it so it was sold even before it was removed. The scars left from the mounting brackets then had to be filled and the entire transom repainted. Now we have a very bare and pristine transom.
One of the most essential tools I have is a rechargeable drill that Fran gave me for Christmas some years ago. It has a saws-all and a circular saw attachment so is a very versatile tool. I even had one of the batteries rebuilt last summer but, as (bad) luck would have it, the charger has given up the ghost. I am lost without it. We just managed to get friends, who will be arriving later this week, to get us a new Dewalt drill/driver combo to replace it.
Over the past 2 days we have re-rigged all of the running rigging and have put up the new “stack pack” sail covers. What a difference they will make to the appearance of the boat and the stowing of the sails. Fran also had a cover made for the dinghy by our German friend Elke.
One of the chain plates had been showing a bit of corrosion that appeared to be a crack so it was removed and re-welded. More piece of mind.... Before the end of the week we will have to take apart the furler in order to tighten the forestay. This should simplify furling the foresail when under pressure, something that has bugged us for some time now.
Fran has now recovered from her falls (stitches to come out today) and has been sewing winch covers while the dinghy has been out for a new cover. She has been borrowing a Sailrite machine from a friend but has now decided she would rather work with a sturdy Singer type, one that can do both heavy and light work. She has found one at a local Singer repair shop, and will pick it this week. Soon she’ll be making the fuel and water container covers and curtains. She has started making up winch covers using a borrowed machine.
On Sunday night we were invited to Elke’s 60th birthday party. It was a pot luck affair with Ted (the refer man) cooking up tempura onions and shrimp. The highlight of the evening was the piñata that Fran brought. Fran survived the 3rd Sunday unscathed even from the swinging piñata sticks.
Hope this week goes better.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pre-launch refit: week one

Guaymas, 28 Nov 2010
It has been a week already since we arrived. Progress is slow but we can look back and see that some of the items on the to-do list have been accomplished but the list is long, there is much left to do and we are procrastinators.....
The trip from Tucson was much better than we had anticipated. Once again we breezed through the border crossing and visa stop and with, 2 green lights we were on our way without any real delay. We arrived in San Carlos by 1700, dropped off the turkey at the condo where Thanksgiving dinner was going to be held and proceeded to Guaymas. We arrived at the Singlar yard in the last of daylight and saw the “re-born Gosling”. She is absolutely beautiful with her new (original) colours. Yesterday we completed the transformation in putting up the name and home port decals. Now she isn’t just “the white boat over there”. Thanks again to Dave Deeks for the recommendations for the “gold-ish” Gosling “S”. It sure makes the name stand out. Several other boats have been painted in the yard after their owners saw the job that Francisco did on Gosling. He has been smiling a lot since we arrived back, particularly after we paid him.
The morning after we got in we went for a walk looking for a breakfast and Fran tripped over a protruding piece of rebar and scraped her knee and elbow and sprained her wrist. X-rays confirmed nothing broken. We are happy to report that after a week she is much better and golf is still on the schedule of events this season. Then, this afternoon while she was prepping woodwork for varnishing she stumbled and fell back into the cockpit. She earned 5 stitches to her ear this time, not to mention a loss of dignity. They say crap comes in 3’s. She is staying in her jammies all day next Sunday...
Quite a few friends are already here getting their boats ready. Sea Turtle (Jordan/Judy), Rio Nimpkish (Tom/Shirley), Manasea (Phil), Relax (Bob/Gisele), Full Quiver (Steve/Pam), Faith (Chris/Sandy), Wind s of Change(Uwe/Elke) and Naida (John/Barb) are all here and are at various stages of preparation. Thanksgiving was a blast with Doug and Trish spearheading the preparations and everyone (11 of us) contributing to the event at the condo. The guests renting the condo were so gracious to agree to play hosts to a bunch of reprobate cruisers but down deep they are cruiser wannabees so all was kosher.
Some of the more critical tasks have been done. The Sirius radio has been installed; OK, not critical but desirable. It took 2-3 days just to unload the car and organise the contents aboard. J-G spent the better part of a day re-installing a radio and weather-fax and re-organizing the wiring behind the radio/GPS panel and getting it set up for easier access. The Inverter has been re-installed but not yet wired in so we are relying on extension cords and the solar panels for power. The aft cabin ceiling panels are a tight fit but will look super when all up. We have decided that the wind vane will not break again this year so we are looking at getting it welded. Hopefully Herdandez will be able to do it this week. There will be lots to do this week and hopefully the urge to procrastinate with be held at bay. Trish and Doug will be here for a day to do some plumbing and electrical work. Fran is getting down to her sewing projects. The knock-off Sailrite machine turned up to be a bust so she has borrowed the real thing and is getting things done.
Hope fully by the next report I can report some significant progress. Maybe this blog can become an incentive....
Photos to come.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Season 3: 2010-2011

19 November 2010, On the Road to Guaymas
The migration is on. We left home on the 15th and stopped briefly in Vancouver to visit the grandkids and then spent the night in Anacortes with Les and Marcia Books. Les was with us for the crossing from Escondido to Mazatlan last April. The road trip was not pleasant for the first 2 days with rain and fog for most of the way through Washington and Oregon. Almost by magic the weather cleared and the temperature rose as we crossed into California. This time we took a different route through Central California, through Merced and Fresno before turning east at Bakersfield to San Bernardino to avoid the LA traffic on # 10. We stopped in Palm Springs for a few restful days to visit our old friends Reno and Nina and to pick up our 2 buck chuck, an indispensible cruising commodity. Tonight we are in Tucson, poised to cross the border tomorrow morning after a visit to Harbour freight (J-G’s new favourite toy store) and picking up the Thanksgiving Turkey for our US friends.
We have never had any problems with the border crossing into Mexico, however with all of the tourist warnings of late we admit to being apprehensive. We have heard of a few American cruisers who have been turned back because of minor documentation issues but, so far, there have been no reported issues with Canadians so we are hoping for a clean entry and an uneventful trip down to Guaymas. The plan is to do the well travelled route entirely in daylight to avoid any problems.
We had a very busy summer. Fran’s chair repair business kept us off the streets and J-G was kept busy with yard, house and boat projects. We took time out for a trip to PQ to visit our son Chris and J-G’s parents and another week to house and dog-sit on Mayne Island for our son Mike and his partner, Dove.
Boat projects included collecting the myriad collection of items on the “to get” list and completing the tasks that needed specialty tools or that could be better done in a workshop environment. This included the making of new ceiling panels for the aft cabin, re-finishing of the salon table, rebuilding the boarding ladder and a smaller dockside step. Some of the major items we have collected are a 9.8 hp Nissan outboard, a Honda 2000 generator and 2 x 100 amp solar panels. We have also swapped the 10.8 ft Avon inflatable for a 9.5 ft model. The van has never been so full, in fact, for the first time we have had to use the roof rack to its full advantage.
When we left last May we had contracted with Francisco to paint the hull, expecting him to complete it after we returned. He must have been short of work this year because he completed it in August. The photos we have seen are spectacular and those who have seen it have all raved about the finish. We had chosen to revert back to her original colour scheme of white with gold trim. She’ll look so good we’ll be reluctant to put her back in the water. With the new tan stack packs she will not be recognizable.
We have our work cut out for us in the next few weeks. There is bottom paint to apply, installing the stack packs, replacing the cutlass bearing, re-installing the inverter that was removed for repair when we left , re-installing the running rigging and sails and a myriad of other preparations before we leave. Fran also has a lot of sewing of covers for the gas cans and a new wind scoop. The most difficult task will be to find space for all the stuff we are bringing with us. Hopefully we will replace many items and sell the old ones at the first swap-meet.
Several of our friends have already arrived. Some have already launched and are enjoying a few weeks of great weather in the northern Sea of Cortez. Others are working on their projects and will be launching over the next month or so.
Hopefully I will be able to post an update in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

On our way home

21 May 2010, Palm Springs
We are with friends Reno and Nina in Palm Springs for a few days. It is a real bonus to break up the trip north.

The last few days on Gosling after the haul-out were a blur of frenzied activity. We worked on the long list of chores was but as we got into the routine many more items seemed to pop out. By day 3 the boat was a mess. We are taking home the headliner for the aft cabin, the dingy and the salon table. The defective inverter charger and the TV/DVD player were also removed to be sent for repairs. All of the lines and sails were removed and stowed below as well as anything removable from the upper deck, water tanks emptied, engine flushed with fresh water, all ports plugged with green scrub pads, the list goes on. All of this was done in temps pushing into the 90’s, the hottest days of the year to date.

We also had tony Morelli take a look at our sail covers and we have contracted with him to replace them with a stack pack to replace the ugly purple covers we now have. We have also arranged with Francisco, the painter, to repaint the hull when we return in November. So much for all the money we saved cruising this year....

On our second day we both came down with flu symptoms. Fran’s lasted less than 24 hrs but J-G’s did not let up and eventually he had to see a doctor. Seems the virus had attacked his prostrate and he spent the last few days in a very uncomfortable state. The doctor’s orders were to stay out of the sun, no alcohol, spicy foods, pop, coffee or seafood. What a way to finish off a season!

We didn’t have a chance to meet up with Doug and Trish before we left but we did get word that Doug was not well. The radiation therapy is taking a lot out of him. He only has 6 treatments left to go so we wish him all the best.

We left as scheduled on Monday the 17th and headed straight to Sierra Vista, AZ to visit with Bill and Linda (Tanque de Tiburon). The 2 days spent with them allowed us to wind down, J-G to improve and Rosy to enjoy real grass for a change. The temps at Sierra Vista’s elevation of 5000 ft were very pleasant. We left there and headed west thru Yuma, where Fran’s parents spent a few winters 15 years ago. No idea what the attraction is for snow birds; miles of desert, heat and more desert. We stayed the night and carried on north to Palm Springs via the east side of the Salton Sea, another attraction that begs explanation. It is lined with very thick masses of weed and shells interspersed with dead tulipa and the stench is overpowering.

From Palm Springs we will be taking a new route north through South Lake Tahoe where we will meet up with Pam and Steve, (Full Quiver) for a few days before heading to Vancouver. Lake Tahoe should be an interesting stop. The temps are in the low 40’s and there has been quite a bit of snow lately. Maybe Rosie will experience the white stuff for the first time.

South Lake Tahoe, Monday, 24 May 2010

It is snowing!!! Yes we are in Lake Tahoe and the white stuff is coming down but not staying. There are patches of snow here and there but nothing substantial. We arrived yesterday and will depart tomorrow morning to continue north.

We took 2 days to get here from Palm Springs. We drove up the Eastern Sierras along rte 395 and spent our first night in Bishop. The following day was a spectacular drive through mountain passes and between mountain ranges covered with snow. Even though this is the continuation of the Sonoran Desert it is still cold at this time of year but quite barren. Rosie saw her first snow on a hike to the obsidian dome just north of Mammouth, CA where we stopped to see the sights. It was a treat to see her rolling in the snow, eating it and just having a grand time.

Pam and Steve drove us around their beautiful corner of the world this afternoon. Too many sights and too little time. Tomorrow we will continue north along 395 through Reno and ending up either at Shasta or in Southern Oregon for the night.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mazatlan to San carlos

Whale shark in Puerto Escondido

Doug and J-G on their way to fish for barracuda
Marina Real; Sunday, 9 May 2010
We have been in Marina Real, 2 boats over from Doug and Trish on Ke-Em-Te, for the past 2 days. After arriving from Mazatlan we decided to spend some quality time with Doug and Trish before heading to Guaymas tomorrow. We were hoping that Doug would be well enough to take the boat to San Pedro Bay but with his radiation therapy he is very sensitive to sunlight, a hard thing to stay shielded from on a boat at sea. Their boat alongside is covered with an awning which would have to be removed to work the boat so we decided to stay put until this afternoon when we will move out to the bay and stay at anchor for the night before moving south to Guaymas. Last night when the sun was low J-G took Doug out for a few hours of fishing, one of Doug’s favourite pastimes that he hasn’t been able to do for quite some time. With the lack of wind and swell, conditions were perfect to head out in the dingy. Although all they could hook were barracuda it was quite a thrill and a welcome diversion for Doug.
Our trip up from Mazatlan was uneventful. The wind was very light and from the south for the entire trip. At times we were sailing (OK, motor-sailing because we had the main up) on a mill pond, however, we did manage to get about 5 hours under spinnaker when the wind did perk up. A steady 10-12 knot southerly wind would have made for a perfect passage but we can’t complain except that 400 miles under power used up about 240 litres of diesel, driving the boat at 6 kts. Night passages were very dark, for the most part, with the moon rising after 2AM. The stars and phosphorescence were very bright. Contacts were minimal except when passing by the ports of Topolobampo and Guaymas. A large warship passed us just before twilight as we passed the entrance to Guaymas. We weren’t able to identify it but when it called in to the pilot it sounded like a Slavic accent. We’ll look for it when we enter the harbour tomorrow.
Today is Mother’s Day. One of the main reasons for anchoring out in Algadonas Bay this afternoon (off Catch-22 beach where the movie was filmed) is that we will be closer to a beach restaurant that will be having a Mother’s Day buffet. We’ll be meeting Bill and Linda (Tanque De Tiburon) there for dinner. They just arrived yesterday.
It will be old home week next week with some of the people we have met along the way arriving to put their boats away for the summer season. We have heard Steve and Linda (Warren Peace) and Steve and Pam (Full Quiver) in the past few days on their way.
More from Guaymas.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

El Cid Marina, Mazatlan

Alongside El Cid marina, Mazatlan, 2 May 2010
It has been a lazy week for J-G and Rosie while Fran has been away. Some messy projects have been done; refinishing some of the woodwork in the main salon and in the aft cabin where Fran and dust would not have been compatible. The dodger was also repainted in a brilliant white and a few more minor jobs were completed including some electronic repairs to the VHF/GPS interface and the connection to the Collision Avoidance Radar Detector (CARD) that has never worked since we bought the boat.
It was a long 10 days with Fran away but J-G and Rosie managed. Cooking for 1 is a pain when everything we have is packaged for 2 so it was the same meal every 2 nights. This marina is part of a resort so pets are not encouraged or tolerated so walks are normally taken early or late in the day. Another way around the rules is to take Rosie for a boat ride across the channel to the beach where we play fetch until she gets tired. She has taken a fancy to plastic pop or water bottles when sticks aren’t available. She likes the crunch sound when she bites down on them.
The weather continues to be excellent. We had clouds on a few days, always a welcome relief to the heat. J-G had strict orders from Fran to attend all of the poolside bingo and blackjack games. He did quite well with 5 bottles of tequila and 5 t-shirts and last night Fran won the 450 peso pot at Texas Hold-em.
Most of the week the weather has been excellent to head north, however yesterday’s gale had brought in the “noserlies”. It also caused the port to be closed for the past 36 hours. The entrance to the marina channel is quite narrow and is prone to large breakers. A powerboat came in after dark last night, not knowing that the port was closed and almost lost it at the channel entrance . Looks like we will be a few more days before we can head out. We will probably shift to the Old harbour anchorage tomorrow so that we don’t have to pay another 2 days here at the marina.
Fran reports that the operation to our daughter-in-law went quite well. She is recovering quickly and we hope that she makes a good overall recovery.
While here we have been able to get some quality time with Lin and Lee (Royal Exchange) who introduced us to this way of life.
The next issue will be from Guaymas after we arrive on or near the 12th.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Back to mazatlan, El-Cid

23 April 2010, Alongside, El Cid Resort & Marina, Mazatlan
We departed Puerto Escondido expecting some decent winds but they failed to materialize so the “Iron Spinnaker “ took us all the way across. Les Brooks transferred over from Optical Illusion for the trip. Needless to say, Les’ experienced eye and skill was welcomed and many of his recommendations and observations are now reflected in our “to-do” lists. Les left for home in Anacortes on Sunday. We are hoping to renew our friendship sometime this summer.
It seems fitting to be back at the El Cid where we were in January as we passed through on our way south. Some of the same boats are still here and many of the boats we have seen along the way are in the Mazatlan area getting ready to jump over to the other side for Lorettofest or getting ready to leave their boats here for the summer. Slip fees are quite high compared to what we have been used to but here we have the full services of a first class resort, including pool, hot tub, great restaurants and easy access to town. They also have a good entertainment team that does pool games and shows movies at night twice a week.
Full Quiver was here when we arrived getting a leaking lift pump replaced. They had a runaway engine on arrival because their pump had filled the cylinders with diesel. There was also excess fuel in their sump so they had to change out their oil 5 times to ensure it was clean before leaving for La Paz 3 days ago. Just heard from them by e-mail and they still have a leak into their sump. They have had a lot of bad luck this year. We wish them all the best on their way north to Loretto and then on to Guaymas where we will see them again at the haul-out yard.
Fran flew back to Vancouver on Monday to care for Robyn and the grandkids. The operation went well and Robyn is back home recuperating. I am whittling down a “to-do” list and taking advantage of Fran’s absence to create dust. The main cabin is looking much better now that I have re-finished some of the worst of the woodwork. The vacuum attachment to my orbital sander has been a real plus in keeping down the dust and the foam brushes I am using with the Cetol make for a nice smooth finish. I have managed to keep Rosie at bay by blocking her access to the cabin but I still have to pick out the odd bits of her hair out of the finish. If we get a cloudy day in the next week I will be painting the dodger, another long outstanding task.
Full Quiver had been here for a few weeks and they had quite the run of luck at the various pool games and acquired quite a collection of El Cid t-shirts and bottles of tequila. They must have passed on their lucky streak . So far I have won 1 t-shirt and 2 bottles of tequila. Fran will be pleased....

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Heading north and rescuing Little fawn

Beach Golf - what posture!!!

Little Fawn on the beach

Whaleshark at Puerto Escondido

Salt Pan at Isla San Francisco

Bahia San Evaristo, 1400, 6 Apr 2010
We have just arrived at this sheltered anchorage on the Baja mainland side. It has been a short but rough passage with 20-25 kt the islands between its wide bay, beautiful sandy beach and crystal clear water make it northerly winds on the nose (noserlies) all the way.
Our trip from La Pas to Isla San Francisco was quite enjoyable. Although the wind was light most of the day we made good progress under power. By early afternoon we arrived at Los Islotes and conditions were ideal for a swim with the sea lions. The large colony of sea lions didn’t pay us much attention but several curious juveniles swam out to check us out. They even nipped at Fran and Janet but there were no injuries. As for the planned whale shark swim, it didn’t happen because of choppy seas and difficulty getting to their area by dingy. As we left the island the wind picked up from the east and we were able to set the spinnaker for the first time this year and had a very pleasant sail to Isla San Francisco.
When we arrived we found all of the Sailfest boats at the anchorage. We had participated in this event last year and knew many of the participants including the Profilgate, Cirque, Pantera and Moontide. They left the following morning leaving only a few boats in the anchorage. By 1800 the bay had filled up again with other boats heading north.
We left Isla San Francisco this morning in company with Optical Illusion. The island is one of our favourite anchorages in the Sea of Cortez and is part of the recently established federal park zone encompassing most of La Paz and Loretto. This is our 4th time and we never tire of it. Unfortunately they do not allow dogs on these islands so Rosie isn’t very happy to stay aboard while we go ashore in “her” dinghy. The water is cooler here and the beaches have shells. I’ve always wondered why there is such a disparity between the “shell-less” beaches mainland and those of the Sea.
On our way here we stopped at Isla Coyote, something we had always missed in our previous trips. It is a small fishing village of 5-6 houses perched on a rock formation. The 10-20 inhabitants live on fishing and selling trinkets to tourists who visit this unique location. Fran took the opportunity to stock up on Christmas and birthday presents and we bought some very nice fish from this morning’s catch that was being cleaned on the shore. We were surprised to see an abundance of dogfish (sand sharks) and small rays in the catch. We also gave colouring books and crayons to the kids.
When we left Isla San Francisco the winds were light, and according to the weather gurus, they were supposed to stay like that all day, increasing tonight. Looks like they got it wrong this time, again. We’ll be hunkered down here for a few days while this 25-30 kt northerly passes through. Slogging north under these conditions is not pleasant and our next stop, Los Gatos, is about 28 miles north, up the coast.
It is difficult to predict how far north we will get to before we have to turn back to make the crossing back to Mazatlan but we will be dictated by the weather. We are hoping for a northerly breeze and at this time of year the north wind is still predominant.
Honeymoon Cove, Isla Danzante, 12 April 2010
It has been an exciting few days since we left San Evaristo. The sailing wasn’t too remarkable with calm seas and light airs for the most part so we continue to be more of a motor cruiser than a sailboat. Our Perkins 4-236 has been very dependable. We are still in company with Optical Illusion. Bill, Janet and their guest Les have been great company.
After departing San Evaristo our first stop was Los Gatos where we had hoped to see our old fisherman friend Manuel. Instead we were visited by his son who reported that Manuel is suffering from prostate problems. His son seems to have taken on his father’s role of providing shellfish and langoustes for visiting cruisers. Unfortunately we weren’t able to get any because of an early departure the following morning. On our way there we saw a pod of false killer whales, 3 females and a male. Unlike their namesakes these whales have no white markings but the male’s huge dorsal fin was reminiscent of the killer whales of the Pacific Northwest.
We had heard on the morning SSB net a few days ago that a vessel called Little Fawn had run up on the beach close to Agua Verde during the brisk northerlies . As we rounded the headland towards Agua Verde we saw her laying on her side close to the beach, a daunting sight for any sailor.
After anchoring in the southern anchorage we went ashore for some groceries and some of the locally produced goat cheese at a small tienda ashore. Later we had a game of beach golf with our friends. Hitting the ball off the sand into a ring 20 feet away is not all that easy. But good for laughs while drinking cold beers. Yes, we did bring a couple of pitching wedges just for that purpose.
The next morning we went to see if we could assist in the rescue efforts of Little Fawn. It was a dismal sight to see this vessel in only a few feet of water. Previous attempts to tow her off the beach had resulted in dragging her over the rocky foreshore and holing her port side which was then underwater. The plan was to cant her over to her stbd side in the sandy shallows beyond the rocks to assess the damage and do temporary repairs, sufficient to float her and enable her to be towed to Puerto Escondido where she would be hauled out.
Initially attempts to cant her over weren’t successful and resulted in snapped stay fitting and a broken mast. However, with dogged determination, the cooperation of a number of cruisers, some with expertise in this kind of rescue and the help of The Cat’s Meow, a trawler – cruiser conversion with a massive 280HP diesel and a huge prop, the operation succeeded and a patch was applied. Little fawn is an older Chris Craft 38 ft sloop. I must note that the hull was remarkably thin for an ocean going yacht but with the use of wallboard screws, strips of thin plywood and a product called Splash Zone, a 2-part epoxy the hull was made as watertight as possible. The last part of the operation was to drag her back to deep water. The Cat’s Meow was able to tow her across the sand bar and she was refloated late afternoon yesterday. SV Perseverence, a Sampson ferro-cement ketch from Vancouver (BWC boat) assisted with the pumping operations throughout the night and the following morning a diver plugged a few other minor leaks. Once stabilized and almost watertight she was towed back to port, arriving this afternoon. Little Fawn’s owner has some serious work ahead of him if he wants to repair the damage. Personally I don’t think it is worth it on such an old hull.
Puerto Escondido, 13 April 2010.
We did the short crossing from Isla Danzante to Puerto Escondido this morning. We refuelled and took on water for our crossing to Mazatlan. While we were fuelling a whale shark was seen nearby swimming in the shallows.
Little fawn is on the hard and doesn’t look much better than she did on the beach. The patches have been removed and the repair job looks even more daunting.
We are doing our laundry and getting a few more groceries for the trip across. Weather dependant we will be on our way tomorrow morning.
Each morning we listen in to the ham and SSB nets to get weather and keep track of friends. Occasionally we listen in to a large net covering most of North America. We were blown away by hearing Barry on Passat II checking in from Belize. We were able to exchange a few words. Isn’t modern technology wonderful!!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Bahia San Evaristo, 1400, 6 Apr 2010

We have just arrived at this sheltered anchorage on the Baja mainland side. It has been a short but rough passage with 20-25 kt the islands between its wide bay, beautiful sandy beach and crystal clear water make it northerly winds on the nose all the way.
We left Isla San Francisco this morning in company with Optical Illusion. The island is one of our favourite anchorages in the Sea of Cortez and is part of the recently established federal park zone encompassing most of La Paz and Loretto. This is our 4th time and we never tire of it. Unfortunately they do not allow dogs on these islands so Rosie isn't very happy to stay aboard while we go ashore in "her" dinghy. The water is cooler here and the beaches have shells. I've always wondered why there is such a disparity between the beaches mainland and those of the Sea.
On our way here we stopped at Isla Coyote, something we had always missed in our previous trips. It is a small fishing village of 5-6 houses perched on a rock formation. The 10-20 inhabitants live on fishing and selling trinkets to tourists who visit this unique location. Fran took the opportunity to stock up on Christmas and birthday presents and we bought some very nice fish from this morning's catch that was being cleaned on the shore. We were surprised to see an abundance of dogfish (sand sharks) and small rays in the catch. We also gave colouring books and crayons to the kids.
When we left Isla San Francisco the winds were light, and according to the weather gurus, they were supposed to stay like that all day, increasing tonight. Looks like they got it wrong this time, again. We'll be hunkered down here for a few days while this 25-30 kt northerly passes through. Slogging north under these conditions is not pleasant and our next stop, Los Gatos, is about 28 miles north, up the coast.
Our trip from La Pas to Isla San Francisco was quite enjoyable. Although the wind was light most of the day we made good progress under power. By early afternoon we arrived at Los Islotes and conditions were ideal for a swim with the sea lions. The large colony of sea lions didn't pay us much attention but several curious juveniles swam out to check us out. They even nipped at Fran and Janet but there were no injuries. As we left the island the wind picked up from the east and we were able to set the spinnaker for the first time this year and had a very pleasant sail to Isla San Francisco.
When we arrived we found all of the Sailfest boats at the anchorage. We had participated in this event last year and knew many of the participants including the Profilgate, Cirque, Pantera and Moontide. They left the following morning leaving only a few boats in the anchorage. By 1800 the bay had filled up again with other boats heading north.
It is difficult to predict how far north we will get to before we have to turn back to make the crossing back to Mazatlan but we will be dictated by the weather. We are hoping for a northerly breeze and at this time of year the north wind is still predominant.
As soon as we get to Mazatlan I will add photos to this blog. In the meantime I will ask our son Chris to post it via our ham radio link. It cannot accept large files such as photos.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

La Cruz to the Baja

Fish for lunch; a pompano jack (we think)

Frigate Bird, Isla Isabella

Full Quiver race Crew

2100, Thursday, 25 Mar, 2010, At anchor, Isla Isabella
We are at anchor at the eastern anchorage at Isla Isabella, some 48 miles from San Blas. We are on our way to the Baja side and this is our usual intermediary spot on that route. It is a bumpy anchorage tonight with a moderate wind blowing between the 2 islands protecting the anchorage. We are protected from the southwesterly swell which we can hear pounding the shore on the opposite side of the point to the west. We’ll be here for at least one night and maybe 2.
Our trip from La Cruz north was uneventful. We had very little wind so we had to power most of the way to Mantanchen Bay just outside of San Blas, midge country, and I don’t use that term loosely. This place is renowned for its flying pest problem. Most visitors come away from San Blas with welts over most of their exposed bodies. We are prepared with bug sprays and fine screening to keep the tiny bugs from getting into the cabin. We soon discover that the lotions we have are not as effective as we hoped but our screens work.
We stayed one night in the Bay and followed our friends Bill and Linda (Tanque de Tiburon) into the estuary the following morning. We were joined outside the entrance to the channel by SV Last Resort who writes articles for a sailing magazine. None of us was prepared for the conditions at the bar entrance. San Blas is not known for its adverse bar conditions so we weren’t anticipating anything unusual but it soon became apparent that the SW swell and the outgoing current was producing quite the swell at the entrance to the channel. To make a long story short, Fran screamed, we surfed and Last resort got it all on video, all, that is except the part where they almost rolled over. So see the video go to You Tube and search for Knock Down at San Blas. Gosling is the dark hull boat next in line.
We were welcomed, as usual, by Norm Goldie, the unofficial greeter and self-proclaimed senior gringo of San Blas. He has lived here for some 40+ years and lately has begun to get quite cantankerous and nasty to cruisers, particularly those who have offered assistance to their counterparts to navigate the channel to the marina or the anchorage sites in the estuary. He still considers himself to be the sole source of assistance and, until this year was cajoling cruisers for a $20 “donation” for his services. He still holds court in the town square every evening offering his assistance to all who ask. There is a very good letter published in the march issue of Latitude 38 (may be online also) on the subject.
We spent 2 nights at anchor in the estuary and commuted back and forth to the Singlar marina where Bill and Linda were tied up. We took advantage of the free showers, laundry and internet as their “guests”. We also met another interesting couple, Russ and Jodie on Smok-N-Blues, aluminum Peterson 44 that used to be owned by Dennis Connors of America’s Cup fame. They are on the hard there getting the boat stripped down to bare metal. Looks like Dennis used a lot of fairing compound...
Our outbound crossing of the bar wasn’t as exciting as the entry. We left under similar tide conditions but the swell was considerably lower than the 8-10 ft we experienced on the way in. Our passage to Isabella started off smooth with a close reach but the wind soon increased and backed to the WNW, our course for Isabella. In order to make it before dark we powered the rest of the way.
Wind conditions should be good over the next few days for us to continue on our way to Muertos and La Paz.
Monday, 29 Mar10, Anchored in the old harbour, Mazatlan
We weren’t planning on diverting to Mazatlan but a predicted 30-35 kt blow down the middle of the Sea convinced us that Mazatlan was a better destination. We departed in company with Tanque de Tiburon on the morning of the 26th into a light northerly breeze that increased to 25-20 by the afternoon. The seas generated by the wind were quite uncomfortable to pound into but we made good time. Our initial ETA was about 2300 but Tanque was delayed by another broken belt a few hours out and, just 3 miles outside the harbour, their engine quit. We decided to stay with them until daybreak and towed them into the anchorage the following morning. Thankfully, the wind had died but seas were running 4-5 ft on the beam all the way in.
The wind picked up considerably that afternoon and we were quite comfortable to be in a nice sheltered anchorage. Last night Tanque thanked us for the tow by taking us out to dinner at Fat Fish, our favourite rib place.
The weather gurus are saying that the winds are diminishing over the next few days so all those bound for the Baja will be leaving soon. We have decided to depart this afternoon while there is some wind left. Now that we are further north we will have a better wind angle towards La Paz. We’ll have to leave Tanque behind so that they can get their engine repaired but we will be in good company with Optical Illusion expecting to start their crossing tomorrow morning.
2000, Wednesday, 31 Mar 10; Alongside Marina Palmyra La Paz
We arrived in La Paz at about 1000 this morning after a 2 day crossing from Mazatlan. We are tied up at Marina Palmyra where we stayed last year. There are several other boats here that we know and others are arriving in the next few days. With Bayfest next weekend and the Latitude 38 Sailfest this weekend marina accommodations are at a premium. Because of our tight schedule, we have decided to stay only a few days and we will miss both events.
We departed Maz in mid-afternoon on Sunday followed by Tanque de Tiburon. Their engine problem turned out to be a minor one so they were ready to depart with us.
The weather guru had been predicting that the northerly winds would abate that night so we wanted to get a head start. The first 10 hours were quite uncomfortable with 15-18 kt headwinds and 5-8 ft seas but by early morning the wind abated and the seas began to flatten out. The rest of the trip was a diesel powered cruise on flat seas with little or no wind. Flying fish were seen everywhere and also the odd dolphin. On passages like this we are able to chat amongst ourselves and keep up-to-date with local conditions by VHF radio. During the long night watches this becomes a welcomed distraction. Another factor that made the night passages so enjoyable was the full moon.
Tomorrow we will be going out to the Magote to swim with the whale sharks. Monday we will see about swimming with the sea lions at Los Islotes. This will be a big thing for Fran; thank goodness whale sharks only eat plankton.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Banderas Bay Race Week and bad news arrived today

1825, Sunday, 21 Mar 2010, Alongside Marina Nayarit, La Cruz
It has already been a week since we arrived, seems like yesterday. Our passage up from Tenecatita was good and, for the most part, quite smooth. We had to power most of the way but we did manage a few hours under sail. We made it in just under 24 hours arriving at dawn after rounding a calm Cabo Corrietes. The weatherman got it right this time.....
We arrived at the marina with the boat show in full swing and preparations for the Banderas Bay Sailing Race week in high gear. Many friends were here or arrived within a few days. Kirk (Freedom Kirkland) and Bill and Linda (Tanque de Tiburon) were already here and it was nice to meet up with them again after so long. It was amazing to see the changes to the marina forecourt after just a few weeks away. The entire boat show site, that had been a quagmire of mud with heavy machinery working day and night to fill in, is now a solid surface. The boat show wasn’t very elaborate and consisted mainly of power boats, engines and outboards (all Mercury products), condo developments and a few local marine oriented companies exhibiting their wares, however, the local government found it important enough to shell out some serious money to beautify the streets to the marina and the marina property itself, not to mention the great expense of the filled in forecourt. They even had the Mexican navy exhibiting their stuff, providing security and the usual power, stewards, food, drink, etc for a “by invitation only” cocktail party on the last night. We didn’t have our cocktail regalia so watched it all from the dock.
Race Week was a blast. J-G volunteered to crew on Full Quiver (40 ft, Beneteau First) with Steve and Linda (Warren Peace) and John (Naida). Steve’s (Full Quiver) brother and sister-in-law also participated. After a few days of practice we raced for 3 days eking out a 3rd place out of 9 boats. After day 2 we were in a 3-way tie for 2nd place with a Columbia-Tripp 43 and a J-80 driven by a hot crew. On the last day the J-80 smoked us but the Columbia that had pressed very hard on previous days, fell back early and stayed out of the running.
1900: We just got an e-mail informing us that our good friend Vicki has succumbed to cancer. We had such a great time earlier this month with her and her husband Bert on board . We will surely miss her but we are also fortunate for the quality time we had on board with both of them.
We will be leaving here tomorrow morning and heading north to San Blas to stage for a crossing to the Sea of Cortez. We will try to make it directly to Isla Partida or Isla San Fransico and get some quality “Sea” time before heading to Mazatlan where Fran will leave to return to Vancouver to look after our daughter-in-law after her surgery. She plans on being away only 10 days so we hope to be able to make it back to the Baja side in time for the Loreto Fest, an event we have managed to miss for the past 3 years.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Waiting for a weather window in Tenecatita

We only stayed overnight in Barra this time and left the following afternoon after refuelling and taking water. Our departure from the fuelling dock was really slick with J-G using the dinghy as a tug to swing the bow around into the wind. We crossed over to Maleque and had a lovely afternoon with Bert and Vicky. After a rocky night in the anchorage we departed for another of our favourite anchorages, Cuestacomate, (the secret anchorage) where we enjoyed another excellent ceviche at the palapa restaurant that we have dined each time we have passed by. The following morning we headed to Tenecatita, about 12 miles up the coast.
We have been at anchor here in Tenecatita for the past five days amongst a large group of boats, 22 at last count but that number changes daily with vessels departing and arriving. Most of the vessels are starting to head north towards Banderas Bay, many to attend the racing series beginning on the 16th, some to assemble with other cruisers heading for the Marqusas while others are beginning their migration to northern ports where they will store their boats for the summer.
This year's group is quite different from last year when we had a "mayor" and lots of organised events on the water and ashore. There are many kid boats here this year and we seem to be in the midst of that group. Yesterday the water around us was alive with children (3-9) swimming, diving off boats and being ferried in to play with those aboard the boats around us. An ex-pat Canadian on a catamaran called Watchagonnado seems to be the nucleus of the activity. It is nice to hear the giggling and shrieks of joy as they dive off the boats and swim back to the boarding ladders.
This is an ideal anchorage for relaxation and the enjoyment of the cruising life. The long beach is bordered by the estuary at our end and the village of La Manzanilla about 5 miles away. There is only one hotel on the beach and it is relatively quiet with very few occupants this year. There is a small daytime restaurant on the beach but it is open only on weekends when campers set up on the beach adjacent the estuary. There are very few lights ashore so nights are dark and stars are bright. The fresh water from the estuary brings a lot of material down from the lagoon so biological activity in the bay is enhanced with many species of birds, fish, and night-time phosphorescence.
It has been a relaxing few days. Rosie has had her daily runs on the beach, a rare treat this year, and Fran and J-G have been able to snorkel every day. Steve and Linda (Warren Peace) arrived a few days ago to wait out, with us, the strong winds around Cabo Corrientes. According to Don, the weather guru, things should calm down by the weekend so there will undoubtedly be a mass exodus come Saturday.
We are also waiting for Steve and Pam (Full Quiver) to arrive from Barra. They should be here tomorrow. J-G and Steve (Warren Peace) will be crewing on Full Quiver for the race series. Following that we will carry on up to the Sea of Cortez for a few weeks until Fran has to fly back to Vancouver to attend to our daughter in law who will be undergoing a serious operation. Hopefully recovery will be quick and Fran will be back in time for a few final weeks before putting Gosling away for the summer. We intend to make for Mazatlan for the period she is away. J-G will have the boat to himself and will be able to get a lot of projects accomplished in that while Fran is away.
We should be away from here by Friday or Saturday and we hope to make the transit to La Cruz non-stop, weather permitting.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Heading North

1930, Monday, 01 March 2010: Barra de Navidad
We are back at anchor at Barra de Navidad for a few days after departing Las Hadas this morning. We had Bert and Vicky Blattman aboard for the past few days, good friends from Victoria, who are holidaying in the town of Melaque. They joined us last Friday and left us after we anchored this afternoon. It was great seeing friends from home. Vicky and Bert had been aboard last year for a day-sail. This time they got to experience a few nights at sea, well, at anchor, at sea.... As we left the bay we were all treated to the sight of a mother and calf fin whale cavorting a few hundred feet for the boat.
On Saturday we had another of those strange phenomena that is making this season a memorable one. During the SSB morning net we learnt of the earthquake in Chile and the tsunami warning that had been issued as a result. The next few hours were spent informing all the other boats and ensuring that they were away from shallow water by the time the tsunami wave reached our location. Although it wasn’t expected to cause any problems no one wanted to tempt fate so all boats weighed anchor and headed for deep water. The predicted time of arrival of the wave was 1106. We got word at 1111 that the wave had passed us by and was only 0.2 of a foot, measured by one of the Mexican weather buoys offshore. When we got back to the anchorage it was more obvious that something had occurred. People ashore reported a period of low water (1-2 ft) and a small rise when it arrived but unusual currents were observed for several hours in the marina harbour. Another box to tick off on the boater’s list....
We weren’t able to see much of the Winter Olympics during the past 2 weeks but we were determined to see the last day’s events and closing ceremonies. We were fortunate to get access to a large screen TV with coverage in Spanish at a local restaurant. It wasn’t quite the same as the hockey play by play we are used to back home but the excitement was the same and with a good representation of both US and Canadian supporters we applauded the winners and raved at the success Canada earned overall. What a show the closing ceremonies were! It made us proud to be Canadians even though the beer was Corona.
We finished our 4th and last lesson in Spanish on Thursday. We’d like to think we have improved but only time and practice will tell. If nothing else these lessons made us realize a lot of bad habits and misuses of words and expressions.
While here we have taken the opportunity to revisit Colima, the state capital, and Comala close to the volcano. Four years ago we had done this on our own; this time we went with a tour guide (actually, the ex-husband of our Spanish teacher who is a taxi driver). It was well worth the extra few dollars. We saw many extras including an exotic fruit farm, brick factory, Mayan ruins and a very nice museum dedicated to the Mexican Artist, Hidalgo. While in Colima we saw the annual horse parade, a real treat, with dancing horses and every kind of livery.
The remainder of our time at Las Hadas was spent in an idyllic haze. We had full use of the resort’s superb pool and grounds, all for a paltry $30/week docking fee. We spent our time relaxing, swimming, chatting with newfound and old friends and wondering what we would do next week when this was all behind us. It was hard to bid farewell to the “gang”: Steve and Linda (Warren Peace, Whiterock) who have been there for the past month and plan on remaining for another few weeks, Pam and Steve (Full Quiver, San Francisco) arrived just a few days ago, Kristen and Ned (Bristol Blue, Seattle), who were with us previously in Barra, Hal and Cathy (Airborne, Vancouver) and many others too numerous to mention.
While there we also bid farewell to Christy and John (Indian Summer) who were headed South, We heard from them on the net this morning that they were departing Zihuatanejo for Huatuco in the next day or so.

Las Hadas with Vicky and Bert

The Colima volcano and Mayan ruins

Friday, February 19, 2010

Relaxing at Las Hadas

Las Hadas, Manzanillo Bay, 2200, Thursday, 18 Feb 2010
We have been anchored off the beach resort of Las Hadas in Manzalillo Bay for the past 5 days, where we have had a quite the mix of weather. We had light rain most of last night and all day yesterday after suffering through a few days of sweltering temperatures. This evening there was another “wind event” that peaked at about 30 kts here in the anchorage. There was lots of chatter on VHF about boats dragging anchor in Santiago. We’ll find out tomorrow how boats fared in other locations that were more exposed.
Manzanillo is a large industrial, centre with one of the most important commercial ports on the west coast of Mexico. The port and city centre is on the south side of the bay. The town of Santiago is on the north side and features most of the resorts and tourist havens. It also has the most sheltered anchorages for cruisers with Las Hadas and Santiago bay. Cruisers tend to spend a lot of time here because of the excellent local facilities, shopping and warm clear waters. It is also a convenient stop-over for vessels heading north or south. This is a favourite haunt for Linda and Steve (Warren Peace) who have been here a few weeks already and have seen many cruisers come and go.
Today there are 8 boats enjoying this location. 300 pesos (about $26 Cdn) buys access to the dinghy dock and the pool and beach at the resort. With the heat we are having we are taking full advantage of it. There are very few guests at the resort, about 80 (capacity for 500+) so they don’t mind us boaters. Unfortunately they don’t receive the TV feed for any station covering the Olympics so we have to contend ourselves to see the daily reports on the news web pages. Before leaving Barra on Monday we were able to see the opening ceremonies at the Grand Bay Resort a large complex across the bay from the town of Barra. One big advantage of this location (Las Hadas) is access to free WIFI provided by one of the restaurants bordering the Bay. We support it by having the odd meal or attending their happy hours.
When we arrived Gil and Lexie (Sunday) were here with their guests. They left the following morning for Zijuatanejo and their way south. After our close association for most of this and past 2 seasons it was a tearful farewell. We hope we will cross paths again in the near future.
We have begun Spanish lessons with Linda and Steve. Twice weekly we taxi or bus to Santiago for lessons with Theresa, a Canadian who has lived here for the better part of 20 years. Yesterday we met several of the boats in the anchorage at Santiago at a get-together at Stan’s place. Stan was a cruiser for many years but sold his boat and moved ashore when he arrived in Santiago. He has been an invaluable asset to the cruiser community for the past few years with his SSB and online weather information.
We will stay here for another week or 2. We are expecting Bert and Vicky from Victoria to arrive in a few weeks for their spring holiday in Maleque. We have arranged to have them meet us here and we will take them for a few days sailing up to Maleque before we start our trek northwards back to the Sea of Cortez. There is a lot to do and see. On Saturday we are planning a trip to Colima where there will be a horse parade at noon and then we will continue to Comala to see the volcano again (we saw it 3 years ago when we were here in Royal Exchange). This time we will be on a private tour with Steve and Linda. Ned and Kristen (Bristol Blue) have volunteered to dog-sit Rosie for the day.
Rosie seems to be getting the hang of life aboard, as long as we are at anchor or alongside. While at anchor she needs her daily walk so it is J-G’s task to dinghy her ashore for a 30+ minute walk each day. She gets a lot of attention from passers-by and is a very good and mostly obedient pet. She still isn’t comfortable while at sea but we are hopeful that she will adapt.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Lazing in Barra de Navidad

1300, 2 Feb 10, Anchored in the Barra de Navidad Lagoon
What an idyllic spot to be! Although it is a muddy shallow bottom and a 10-12 minute boat ride to the town it is a wonderful anchorage, well protected and not too hot, thanks to the land and sea breezes we have every day without fail. There are also a lot of our cruising mates here. Bill and Janet (Optical Illusion) arrived from Santiago Bay soon after we did as did Don and Lynn (Prairie Seashell) who we hadn’t seen in 2 years. To our relief Sunday arrived a few days ago. We hadn’t heard from them in a few weeks and we knew they had had to weather out the gales in the Sea of Cortez that had delayed us on our way down.
We have also met more boats from Victoria and Vancouver Island (Angus and Rolande – Periclees), Goff and Linda (Curare), Joe and Deb (Pacific Jade) and (Deb and Lynn - Dolphin Tales, who we had met aboard Sea Turtle IV in Victoria just before they left). Out of 20 boats in the lagoon almost half are Canadian.
It has been raining on and off most of the day, a very rare occasion and the first rain we have experienced this far south at this time of year. It caught us by surprise in the middle of the night having lightly doused Fran’s side f the bed (she is closest to the hatch). We are looking forward to another day of rain. It certainly is different to be hunkered down with nothing else to do but read, watch movies, play card games with the neighbours or doing some indoor projects. It was also quite surprising to see the number of boats that wanted a visit from the French Baker who sells his wares by skiff from boat to boat. Everyone, it seemed, wanted a pastry of some kind today (comfort food?); strange phenomenon. Unfortunately for Fran he was sold out of chocolate croissants but her disappointment was short-lived. She bounced back, declared this a soup day and her creative brain went into overdrive in making a superb pumpkin soup.
Nothing much has changed here in Barra over the past 3 years. The Sands Hotel still provides the cruisers with a dinghy landing, a convenient bar, WIFI and a pool to use with your 20 peso daily fee. Market day is still on Wednesday and the same gadget stands and tourist treasure dealers still offer the same junk for sale year after year. The DVD sellers always do a brisk business at 20 pesos each or 3 for 50 pesos. Avatar is already on the stands here. Fran’s hairdresser is still there but only provided a pedicure this year for both of us. Yes, even J-G got one. It was long overdue with all of the calluses formed over the past few months of wearing sandals. Our lavanderia is still there and still does our week’s laundry for less than $10.
The morning net covers most of the anchorage areas along this part of the coast including Tenecatita, Malque, Barra (lagoon and the marina) and anyone who can hear the net in Santiago Bay and Las Hadas in Mazanillo bay. It is always very informative and we have shared in the net controller duties on various occasions
On the weekend we helped Phil (Mannasea) prep the local school in Colimilla for painting. Phil has taken this as a project this year and we had promised to help him out. Although we are a month late we will be able to get the outside of the school done this year. The interior will be next season’s task. While the boys were scrapping Fran was painting the figures on the boys and girls washrooms. This weekend she will fancy up the kindergarten’s outhouse with painted flowers.
The solar panels have been a bit of a letdown. Although they put out 4-5 amps during the day they have just been maintaining what the boat draws during the day. At night the batteries drain slowly requiring an alternative charging method to bring them back to normal and today, with a cloudy day, they aren’t much use. Fortunately we brought down a 2000w generator this year and we have been running it a few hours a day charging the batteries back to full charge. Last year we had to run the main engine a more expensive proposition than the small amount of gas we now burn. We are still hampered by the lack of a suitable water-maker to satisfy our domestic water requirements. We can average 7-10 days on the 120 gallons in the tanks we have on board and then we have to drive to a water source for a refill or dinghy in jugs of water from ashore. By Thursday we will have to go to the fuel dock for a refill. The water-maker we have is only capable of producing 1.7 gals/hr so we only use it to make our drinking water and that is done outside the anchorages where the quality of the raw sea water is not suitable.
Thursday, 4 Feb 2010
WOW!!!! We have just lived through the wettest and wildest few days of our entire time in Mexico. We have had over 6 inches of rain over the past few days, winds to hurricane force, albeit a very short burst, and very unsettled weather.
It started 2 nights ago as we were playing cards on Sunday. We have only seen a thunderstorm on 2 other occasions; one was in Mazatlan only a few weeks ago and the other many years ago when we were in a timeshare. This one lasted the better part of 4 hours with a superb (and scary) show of lightning. We got back aboard by about 10 with the storm in full swing, lightning all around but none close to the anchorage. Fran went to bed but J-G stayed up just in case things got worse – and they certainly did. At about 23:30 a violent gust of wind which peaked at about 70 kts hit the anchorage with full force. The boat heeled over about 30 degrees and the air was white with a spray. Thank God the anchor held. We may have dragged a bit but everyone did, some more than others. Several boats were moving after everything settled down, having dragged enough that they needed to re-anchor. By 2 AM the wind had abated completely but it continued to rain for the next 24 hours. We have had over 6 inches of rain. Today we are back to nice sunny weather but all the boats look like Chinese laundries with all of their wet things hanging out to dry.
This is an El Nino year and things can be expected to be very different. Hopefully we won’t see any more of this type of weather.
We plan to be here for another few days and do some painting at the school over the weekend then head south to Manzanillo.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

0910, 18 Jan 2010: Enroute to Jaltemba
We have just departed Mantenchen (correct spelling this time) Bay, San Blas enroute to Jaltemba. It is a short ride of about 30 miles and we should be in by early afternoon. We had a quiet night in calm conditions with hardly any motion. It is definitely warmer 500 miles south of Guaymas and we had to keep the fan on all night to remain comfortable in the aft cabin. Also in the anchorage was Relax (Bob and Gisele) and Alobar (Joel, Dave and Robby). Both vessels had left from Guaymas and Alobar had been in the yard with us a week before we left. The reputation of this bay being “midge heaven” didn’t pan out, however, we did use the hatch netting that Fran has made and Dave. The guys on Alobar were covered with nasty looking bite marks this morning.
The remainder of our ride into Mazatlan was uneventful. We arrived at the El Cid marina mid-morning, a few hours after high tide. There is always a surge in this marina as it is located a few hundred yards from the harbour mouth but we didn’t expect the current. This was Fran’s first experience with a cross current and our alongside wasn’t pretty but no damage occurred to Gosling or the large cruiser we brushed against…. and, with the help of Dave (Star Dancer) and George (Shamrock) we were secured alongside in short order. Lots of fenders, extra lines and a tight tie kept us from moving too badly in the slip but the noise from the lines sliding in and out of the fairleads was always present. We wrapped old t-shirts at the friction points and that helped somewhat.
Except for the surge problem the marina was very nice, with all the resort services available to the visiting cruisers. At $1.00 (US)/ft it is a good thing we hadn’t planned a long stay but it was cheaper than marina Mazatlan by 10 cents/ft. We didn’t check out the Singlar dock but it appeared quite full when we passed by the following day in the dinghy. We had quite a light show the first night with a rare thunderstorm which resulted from the storm track further north. We later found out that the same system generated very high winds in San Carlos, causing 7 boats to go ashore in the bay and a waterspout to form in Banderas Bay just off the marina in La CruzRepairs were the order of the day for the 2-day stay. I procured another piece of stainless for the wind vane from Rick Cummings (Mazatlan Marine services) and with the help from Dave& Robby (Alobar) we had it repaired in no time flat. I tried to get a tech to look at the radio but all were too busy so I decided to tackle a few last possibilities myself. Inspecting the connection to the backstay antenna I found a lot of corrosion. A good cleaning of the backstay under the connection, a slathering of di-electric grease (thanks Trish) and a new section of stripped wire made a world of difference. I then tackled the software and discovered a discrepancy in the port assignment. I was amazed to find that everything worked perfectly afterwards. Sometimes I really surprise myself!!!!
Fran contacted her friend Dianne (a fellow line-dancer from Victoria) and with her husband we all went out for dinner at Fat Fish. The spareribs and the guitarist were just as great as 3 years ago.
Saturday morning was the local swap meet, a big event in Mazatlan. In getting the dinghy and outboard ready I found another problem. The hose from the tank to the motor and the bulb were rock hard and one of the connections at the bulb snapped when I tried to straighten them out. Furthermore, someone has decided that they needed my dead-man switch key more than I did. Luckily there was an outboard motor shop just down the street and I was able to get all the parts I needed. How many more “issues” will I find? The swap meet was quite fun and we got rid of a few items and picked up a few treasures, including an older copy of the Nobletech Navigation Suite. I later found out that the copy should have included a dongle so, at present, it is just a nice box containing pretty disks….
We departed later that morning, this time fully aware of the current and using it to our advantage. Fran did a phenomenal job of leaving the dock and her approach to the fuel dock was perfect. The boat preceding us, a 60 ft with bow thrusters, had lots of problems..... Too bad they weren’t there to see our manoeuvres.
We powered down the beaches and made sail when we were out of the shelter of the offshore islands and sailed all night down the coast with a following wind and sea, dodging fishing boats all night. By morning the wind petered out and we powered the remainder of the way, some 20 miles.
During Fran’s watch she heard the bilge pump running quite often; too often! We discovered yet another loose hose clamp on the fresh water supply line, this time at the engine room bulkhead. By that time we had lost most of the domestic water supply. Luckily we are only a few days from La Cruz. We should have enough to last until then. The splashing of the water onto the hot engine also caused the propane alarm to go off. It is refreshing to know that the detector can sense almost any vaporized agent, steam in this case. A few weeks earlier it detected the propellant from the spray paint I used in the engine room. I rather expected more leaks to occur with the new, higher pressure pump. I think a re-plumbing job is in the offing to remove most of the extra joins that have been added over the years.
1830, 23 Jan 2010, Slip 9B16 Marina Nayarit, La Cruz
We have been alongside for the past 3 days, enjoying the relative calm of this new marina. There are a lot of boats here that we have met along the way; Indian Summer, Full Quiver, Alobar and Freedom Kirkland to mention a few. We are waiting out a high wind and high swell event before we proceed south. The swell is the result of the terrible weather that has plagued the Pacific coast over the past week. When we arrived we were shown the photos taken by Steve (Full Quiver) of the waterspout mentioned above.

After our departure from Mantenchen Bay we made it to Jaltemba without incident, having to power all the way in light winds. We spent most of the afternoon and evening with Bruce and Marg Walton, Victoria friends who spend a few months in a condo in Rincon de Guyabitos.
The following morning we weighed anchor and continued south, again in calm conditions, around Punta Mita and into Banderas Bay to Marina Riviera Nayarit a relatively new marina where we had stayed last spring for a few days and at half the price of the El Cid it is more affordable. An hour out of Jaltemba we caught our first Dorado of the season.

Life alongside is sometimes busier than at sea with projects to accomplish and supplies to get. Without a vehicle we have to rely on others or, more commonly, on local transport which turns an hour errand into a half-day event. Luckily we were able to share a vehicle with the crew of Alobar the other day and got our Sam’s Club shopping done in short order. Today we went to the swap meet at Marina Nuevo Vallarta where we met up with Lin and Lee (Royal Exchange) and caught up with their news of the past year. An odd swap meet for JG; he sold an item and didn’t buy anything!!!
We have been out every night since we got here, playing Mexican Train with friends and listening to jazz and rock bands at some of the local establishments. Tonight, for a change we are eating onboard (Dorado) and enjoying a movie night on Gosling (with popcorn). We expect to be on our way south by Tuesday.