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Calou's Blog
Cruising with the crew of CALOU on the Baja Ha-ha and Pacific Puddle Jump
Surfing Day

John's Blog Updated. Original post with photos:' Latitude: 20.870548 Longitude: -105.443274

Ever since I arrived back in Mexico almost a month ago I've been wanting to go back up to Sayulita. I first visited it in January and really enjoyed my short stay there. Today Francois and I took three different buses and made it to Sayulita in time for surfing at high tide.

We rented boards (about $4.50 and hour) and paddled out. This was my first time ever surfing and Francois' second (he went a few days ago). I caught some great beginner waves and was able to stand up and ride quite a few of them into the beach. Standing up was actually easier than expected. I think surfing is one of those must have water skills, so nice to add this skill set.

After riding the waves for a few hours we turned our boards back in and had a very nice late lunch on the beach. Sayulita is a really laid back town and has a great eclectic feel to it. It was a nice change compared to the fancy resort we have been staying at.

On the way out of town we surprised one of my clients by randomly showing up at his hotel and ice cream shop. I tried to meet him when I was there in January but missed him, so great to now get to meet him. He is planning some major expansions now so it was great to meet him and possibly work with him in selling my reservation system to other Sayulita businesses. What a great way to turn a surf day into a business trip! My client is also a surfer, so it was critical that I get into the surfer way of thinking so I could better relate to him.

Tonight at the boat, I went up on dock to photograph the supermoon. It rose huge and orange through the haze.

On the boat front, all the major projects are completed, plus our spinnaker and barometer arrived. Now we just have to re-mount the solar panels and finish up our provisioning and we should be good to go

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Making Fantastic Progress in our Preparations, Finally
03/19/2011, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Today was a very big day, where everything magically came together pretty much simultaneously.

The welder completed his four major projects (overhauling the gooseneck parts, building the emergency rudder, the bow sprit, and the new and improved solar panel arch) this morning.

Also, today the rigger came and put the boom back up with the new gooseneck.

Also, the new asymmetrical spinnaker that we ordered arrived today.

Also, the new barometer that we ordered arrived today.

For the first time, we are not dependent on anyone else for our boat projects. We have everything we need, we just have to get it done now.

We went to Costco and bought a trunkload of red wine and Bacardi rum to bring with us. The rum will go into a 5 gallon jerry can. The wine will go into collapsible plastic envelopes designed for the purpose. Everyone at Costco wanted to know where was the party! The reason for this is that wine and liquor are extremely expensive in Polynesia.

Meanwhile Francois and our crew member John went surfing today. Francois has learned to surf and now would like to get a surfboard (we sold ours a few months ago). Oh the irony!

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Finally Seeing Some Progress

John's Blog Updated. Original post with photos: Latitude: 20.691867 Longitude: -105.293009

After waiting almost a month to get some basic welding done, it has finally started. Yesterday Hilario sent five workers to the boat who quickly worked through our projects. They first installed the new bowsprit pole which will be used for attaching our new spinnaker. They made the pole at their shop by following a detailed drawing Bruce gave them.

Next they helped remove a stubbornly stuck bolt on our gooseneck fitting. Then some work on our emergency rudder mountm which is now just about completely finished. We are thinking about leaving the whole thing assembled in place (except for the rudder) since that would be easier than storing it somewhere in the boat.

Bruce decided to move the solar panels closer to the boat, and raise them up a bit. So that required welding extensions to the bottom of the bar and welding the whole assembly in a different spot on the dinghy davits. They started doing the welding while everything was attached to the boat, but ended up removing the whole thing and taking it to their shop.

While all this work was going on, one of our boat neighbors showed up with a cooking pot that had a loose handle. The welders fixed it up for him. I told the neighbor that he could only have two minutes of their time since we had waited almost a month for them to show up.

Hilario's shop also created a new gooseneck fitting for us which looks really strong. We hope to install that today. All of our metal projects should be wrapped up today, which is amazing considering how long we have been waiting to get these projects moving. If only the people we originally talked to about doing the work had been up front with us and said they were to busy we could have saved a ton of time. And also if we had known about Hilario's shop earlier. All the people we were talking to kept recommending Chava, but Chava was way to busy and unreliable for us. Hilario's group is doing great work and actually showed up when they said they would.

Our barometer, which had been promised to arrive at the boat by Friday, and which I gave only a 5% chance of happening, surprise, did not show up. Supposedly it is in PV, but the finally leg of its journey did not happen. It should be delivered Monday though. One thing that did happen as promised is that our new spinnaker actually arrived at the airport Friday night. We will pick it up today. Our replacement watermaker pump also was installed yesterday, basically a full week after it had been promised to arrive.

To wrap up, our major fabrication projects should finish today. All of our outstanding packages should arrive by Monday. What remains is to finish some provisioning (fresh produce) and trips to the usual stores for a few more random things. At this point we are looking at a possible departure date of mid next week.

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Big Projects getting completed!

Wow, this has been a big day.

The welder showed up this morning, and installed the new bowsprit. It looks like a big stainless steel cannon sticking out from the bow. It will support the asymmetrical spinnaker. The thing is a work of art...

Second, the aluminum arch that supports the solar panels has been extended and welded to the stern davits. This makes it much stronger and less vulnerable to a boarding wave.

Third, the emergency rudder system has been built. It's fantastic, very strong. This project is unfinished, and will be completed tomorrow.

Fourth, the gooseneck (the hinge that connects the boom to the mast) has been totally rebuilt and outfitted with bronze bushings to make the thing as good as new. The gooseneck is the number one point of failure on sailboats so we have been careful to make sure this critical point is in top condition.

In a day and a half, all these projects are already nearly completed.

Plus, our new spinnaker arrived from the U.S. today.

We're getting close to being ready!!! We can hardly believe it!

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03/21/2011 | Galina Powell
It was wonderful to see what are you doing. Good luck, Galina
Welder Finally Shows Up!

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.

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When Will We Ever Get Some Work Done?

John's Blog Updated. Original post with photos: 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.

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Hardest Project Yet

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.

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Checking Off Projects

John's Blog Updated. Originally posted here: 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.

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