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Calou's Blog
Cruising with the crew of CALOU on the Baja Ha-ha and Pacific Puddle Jump
Welder Finally Shows Up!
Bruce
03/17/2011

After having waited for weeks for the welder, Chava, to show up, we finally found another guy, Hilario, who seems to be reliable. He actually showed up today as promised, and started work.

Project #1, building the emergency steering system. This is a spare rudder that bolts to the stern of the boat in case we lose our primary rudder. I made a mock-up with PVC pipe and the welder will duplicate it in stainless.

Project #2, relocating the solar panel arch. The solar panels are supported by an arch that is bolted to the stern davits. (The stern davits, being a pair of cranes on the stern of the boat to lift a dinghy out of the water). The arch will be moved forward, and higher, and welded to the arch, rather than bolted. This will be much stronger and less vulnerable to a following wave.

Project #3, to build a bow sprit to carry the asymmetrical spinnaker. This is a pole that sticks out in front of the boat far enough so tha the spinnaker doesn't get caught in any of the boat hardware.

With any luck, we might be done with these projects in a few days and ready to set sail soon thereafter.

Pacific Puddle Jump 2011
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When Will We Ever Get Some Work Done?
John
03/16/2011

John's Blog Updated. Original post with photos: http://travel.reservationkey.com/?a=1&p% Latitude: 20.691867 Longitude: -105.293009

After a morning of not much progress, and after a few hectic days, we all took the afternoon off and went out to the pool for a few hours. I also enjoyed a great sunset kayak and visited with a few boat neighbors by kayak on the way back in.

My projects for the morning included installing another rail on the deck to which we will attach additional fuel jugs, and making a very nice desk like holder for my computer in my cabin. With my new desk I can leave my computer set up all the time and it is very convenient for sitting up and working, as well as laying down and watching videos. I also have a little more storage space under the desk in the net pouch I made there.

This morning we had a few more local workers visit the boat but, not a whole lot of progress. First, Peter Vargas, our new rigger, on whom we had pinned our hopes of completing our major projects, showed up bright and early around 8:15am. But, no he was not here to start work on the but, but just to drop off his rigging report and collect payment. The plan as of a few days ago was that he was going to start working on fabricating our emergency rudder mount as of today. But now he says that his stainless steel guy, Chavas, can't get to our projects until at least late next week. And Chavas is the same guy we have been trying to deal with for the last three weeks. Why couldn't Peter have told his this last week when we first met with him? Last week he told us, yeah, no problem he would start everything today.

So now, a week later, Peter decides to introduce us to the other stainless guy in town, a guy named Hilario. Hilario does not speak much English, but is supposed to be a great welder and have a huge machine shop with lots of people working for him. Hilario showed up at the boat around 10am and took a look at our project. He said he needed to check with his shop to make sure he has the materials we need, and that he would give us a call on the phone in two hours to let us know about the materials and when he could start. But, of course, no phone call from Hilario. Tomorrow we will follow up with him and see if we can get him to actually start some work this week. It seems we have had a lot of people come by the work and look at the projects, but no one ever start working on anything.

One bright note, is that Mike Danielson, on whom we had basically given up on, showed up around 11am today and started working a bit more on our gooseneck fitting. His assistant removed everything and Mike says he will be back tomorrow morning to start putting things back together. He had to fabricate a bolt for it so hopefully that will be done and he shows up.

For yet more good news, we found out last night via email, a full ten days after our order was placed, that the barometer we ordered was no longer in stock and therefore had not been shipped. So now we have ordered another barometer from the USA and have been assured that UPS can get it to us by Friday. If that indeed happens it would be amazing. I give it a five percent chance of happening. Stay tuned for news on that one.

We have not had much news on our spinnaker, but have been assured it will arrive Thursday or Friday. Again, I have to give that a relatively low chance of happening. And I haven't even mentioned that we are STILL waiting for a part for our watermaker which we had been all but promised was going to arrive by last Thursday. Overnight to San Diego, walked across the border by our dealer's contact there, and then placed on the first plane out of Ensenada for Puerto Vallarta. Well, amazingly, somehow something did not go according to plan. Something about the airlines not being able to properly x-ray the part and would not allow it on the plane. We think it was placed on a bus instead.

Yesterday we waited for people to show up that never arrived, and then made our shopping rounds all afternoon - Pharmacia Guadalajara, Plaza Caracol, Costco, Walmart, Zaragozas, and Home Depot.

Pacific Puddle Jump 2011
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Hardest Project Yet
John
03/14/2011

John's Blog Updated. Originally posted here: http://travel.reservationkey.comLatitude: 20.691867 Longitude: -105.293009

Tonight we finally got around to tackling one of our hardest projects - figuring out which wines will make the cut to bring with us to the South Pacific. In order to accomplish this difficult task, Bruce set up a blind tasting in which we compared eight different wines. Each bottle was wrapped in foil and numbered, and then poured into numbered cups. We then filled out a grid in which each wine was compared to all the other wines. To come up with the winners we counted up how many times each wine appeared on our grid.

Of our top three selections, Bruce and I matched on two out of three. Pascale we think matched on one out of three, but not sure since she kind of lost track of how her scoring was going. Like I said, this was not an easy task, especially to be able to maintain concentration with over 24 tastings. On the wine Bruce and I did not match on, he had it as his number two choice and I had eliminated it all together.

The most interesting part came when the names and prices were revealed. The wine that Bruce and Pascale had previously thought was one of their favorites ranked very low in our tastings. That wine also happened to be the most expensive at 144 pesos. Bottle number four, the clear winner, happily turned out to cost only 69 pesos (about $6 USD). It was really shocking how much better number four was compared to all the other wines, and that it was still so reasonably priced.

The final task of the evening was to combine the opened bottles into a \"house blend\" and start filling our reusable plastic bags. We have 60 of these bags which each hold just a bit more than one bottle. These bags store much easier than bottles, plus we don't have to worry about glass breaking. Tomorrow we will get started on sourcing our favorite wines and filling up our bags. Bruce also found some additional spaces on the boat, accessed by cutting out some wood panels, which make great wine cellars.

The other job of the day was installing a netted storage space under the salon table. I brought this net with me thinking of creating a hammock type storage for clothes, but that turned out to be unnecessary. This looks like a great alternate use of the net.

Pacific Puddle Jump 2011
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Checking Off Projects
John
03/13/2011

John's Blog Updated. Originally posted here: http://travel.reservationkey.com Latitude: 20.691867 Longitude: -105.293009

Today was a very busy day, full of lots of projects. I started with doing four quick projects - finished installing bolts for side rails to hold extra fuel cans, installed chafe protection on our dock lines, ground off an old bracket we no longer use on the stern railing, and trimmed a wood covering for one of our storage areas.

Next, Bruce and I worked on finishing installing the mast camera. We thought it would be a fairly quick project, but it ended up taking just about all afternoon. One major hold up was that the cable kept getting stuck inside the mast as we tried to pull it through. But now the installation is finished and we have a nice forward looking camera to help us avoid hitting coral heads. On the way back down the mast I swung from side to side and washed down the rigging with soap and water.

While at the top of the mast I had a chance to take a few more photos of the marina. One of our new neighbors even brought a helicopter with them. We are thinking of seeing if we can clear some space on our front deck and maybe we will get one too. It would be much easier to be able to move between the anchorage and shore by helicopter instead of having to inflate the dingy and make our way through the waves.

While we were working on the camera Pascale was busy unpacking all the things we had bought from Costco a few days ago. The vacuum sealer turned out to be a great purchase. We are able to quickly seal up our provisions such as flour, rice, nuts, dried fruit, oatmeal, sugar, paper towels and paper napkins. Besides reducing the amount of storage space all these things take and preserving freshness, everything is now also water proof.

To celebrate our progress, we went out to dinner at a nice Italian restaurant here at the marina.

Pacific Puddle Jump 2011
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Things Getting Back To Normal
John
03/12/2011

John's Blog Updated. Originally posted here: travel.reservationkey.com

We are settled back in our slip at Paradise Village. Although we were only gone a little more than 24 hours, for some reason it seems like we were out much longer. Maybe it is because of all the stress and uncertainty of what we were dealing with yesterday. About two hours before sunset we were just off old town PV when we decided we needed to be in La Cruz anchorage for the night, which is about 11 miles all the way across the bay.

We cranked up the motor and got the anchor down just as the sun was setting. In our rush to put out as much anchor chain as possible we accidentally put out all of our chain so that only the rope was left on the windlass. Luckily, in our haste to get out of the marina earlier, I had thrown the kayak up on the bow of the boat instead of leaving it on the dock. So we launched the kayak and I was able to reach down and attach a carabiner and rope to the end of the chain which was just under the surface of the water. We then used a winch to get some of the chain back up to the windlass. Finally we were able to relax and have some dinner and get to bed.

This morning the surge had calmed down enough that we were able to enter the La Cruz marina where we docked for just enough time so that Peter of Seatek Rigging could inspect our boat. The only damage to the marina was a few slips near the harbor were destroyed by the surge. The rig inspection showed that everything on Calou is in great shape. The only piece Peter highly recommends replacing is the bronze fixture at the bow of the boat to which the forestay is attached. So we will replace that with a stainless steel piece next week. Peter promises to being work on that and our other projects by mid week. We are hoping.

We left the La Cruz marina around 2pm and motored back to Paradise Village. On our way back we were able to get some nice photos of the boats racing in the Banderas Bay Regatta. The race resumed today, after cancelling racing yesterday due to the tsunami.

Tomorrow we hope to install the new mast camera (which Bruce got working yesterday while we were motoring around the bay), and finish unpacking the car, which is still full of our provisions from our Costco run of two days ago.

Pacific Puddle Jump 2011
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Surviving another tsunami
John
03/11/2011

Its hard to believe, but we are still motoring around the bay waiting for the surge to settle down. All three harbors remain closed to boats trying to enter and there is even a navy ship patrolling outside of our harbor preventing boats from attempting to enter. The problem is, there is a strong surge that keeps going in and out of the harbor entrance every few minutes. We have heard reports of the water levels fluctuating as much as 6 feet and currents up to 14 knots.

So now we are motoring at 7 knots across the bay towards La Cruz where we hope to anchor for the night. I think we will have plenty of company there as most of the boats left the harbors this morning and very few have returned. We also heard of a warning for another tsunami to possibly arrive in our area around midnight. So we will be watching for that.

At sea we felt nothing and saw nothing, but I supposed this still counts as surviving my second tsunami in six years.

Pacific Puddle Jump 2011
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Taking Refuge in Banderas Bay
John
03/11/2011

We are now about one mile out in the bay. We left in a huge hurry when we started to see the destruction that was happening in Santa Cruz and Southern California. We quickly threw everything loose on deck into the cabin and tossed off the dock lines and headed out. Most of the other sailboats did the same thing. We thought we were only going to get a small amount of action from the tsunami, but after seeing what happened in California we were not so sure, so it seems the best bet is to be out in the open water.

This is a great test of our satellite equipment as I am making this post via the satellite terminal. I was able to connect within a few minutes of getting it set up. Online at almost broadband speeds.

Bruce is making lunch right now. Good thing we provisioned yesterday. We moved most of the food items onto the boat last night, although much of our supplies are still in the trunk of the car. We were planning to unpack today.

Pacific Puddle Jump 2011
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Waiting for the Tsunami
John
03/11/2011

Waiting for the Tsunami
3/11/2011 8:07:58 AM (20.691867, -105.293009)

I was awoken this morning by an announcement on our VHF radio that a massive earthquake had struck Japan and that all west coast ports of Mexico have been closed due to a tsunami warning. Right now we are waiting to see if anything materializes. I am listening to streaming radio from Hawaii and it appears that not a whole lot happened there, so I am giving the odds of anything happening here as quite low. In Hawaii there was some extra surge, but nothing of catastrophic proportions.

If anything does happen here, I have a large hotel building picked out very close to our boat which would be an ideal place to sit it out, and perhaps get some good photos. I have my camera ready. This was my strategy in 2004 in Khao Lak, Thailand, which worked well for me then.

Pacific Puddle Jump 2011
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