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Calou's Blog
Cruising with the crew of CALOU on the Baja Ha-ha and Pacific Puddle Jump
Day 2 at sea
03/27/2011, Pacific Ocean west of Puerto Vallarta

We departed Saturday at 1145 am from La Cruz and sailed South West, course 230 degrees magnetic. Banderas Bay had very light winds so we had to motor an hour, but as we approached Cabo Corrientes, the winds built slowly from 4 knots, to 5, to 6, to 7.... as the sun was setting we had 12 knots of breeze and were making 8 knots speed towards our destination. We managed 7 to 8, even 9 knots boat speed the entire night and most of today, though our speed was reduced to about 6 knots mid afternoon, and then in increased again to the 7 knots we're doing now. We covered 140 nautical miles in our first 24 hours, not bad considering we spent many hours in Banderas Bay waiting for the wind to fill in.

Our first evening I made dinner, as an appetizer: a frozen mini-pizza (one tiny slice per person) and freshly made guacamole and tortilla chips (because we have a ton of quickly ripening avocados), then for the main course: chicken and onions in a garlic herb sauce over couscous for dinner. Everyone was pleased.

We sorted out a watch schedule: Francois early evening, Pascale late evening, John midnight to 3 a.m., and my shift from 3 to 7 a.m. The captain always takes the least desirable shift.

When the sun rose this morning, there was no longer any sight of land. We are on our way.

We are monitoring many things aboard: so many things are scarce and must be rationed. Electrical power is a primary concern, relying on our solar panels and wind generator some times isn't enough to keep up with our inverter, refrigeration, and watermaker. We must turn off our inverter (which converts 12 V DC to 120 V AC) at night if we wish to have any battery power in the morning. Fresh water is scarce, even though we have a watermaker, it takes electrical power to make it. Every gallon requires 72 watt-hours of power to produce. We have a sea water tap in the galley and use it to pre-wash everything, with a final rinse in a tiny amount of fresh water. Even our showers involve sea water first, then a rinse with miniscule amounts of fresh water.

Despite our conservation efforts, we are running the water maker 2 or 3 hours per day, which produces 12 to 18 gallons. Divided by a crew of 5, that's about 3 gallons of water per person per day, for drinking, cooking, dishwashing, personal hygiene, and laundry. Fresh water is a precious resource.

Our first night aboard was not very restful; it takes a lot of getting used to sleeping aboard a sailing boat. It's nothing like sleeping in a boat at anchor or in a marina. There's the constant sound of water rushing past the hull. There's the constant rocking from port to starboard as swell of wave approaches on our beam reach. There's the sound of the wind moaning in the rigging. And there's the sound of the boat's wood and fiberglass structure creaking and groaning with every shift in position. It's kind of trying to sleep in the middle of a construction zone. One eventually can tune it out. I'm going to try earplugs this evening.

This second evening, I made another guacamole (those avocados are ripening quickly), which we enjoyed as the sun set with a glass of red wine. As we toasted, we drank in the realization that, by God, we really are on our way to the South Pacific! Then we had pasta with grilled chicken pieces, onions, peppers, and tomato sauce.

We are making way rapidly to our destination, hopefully we can keep this good pace up.

Pacific Puddle Jump 2011
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03/27/2011 | Dave Benjamin
Glad you guys made it out. Have a great passage.
03/28/2011 | Blair Hunt
I also have been following your blog for a few years, I googled your lat/long yesterday and had a look at Islands ahead, how fascinating!
I wish you all fair winds & seas Calou!
All the best from the Pacific Northwest.
Settling Into Life at Sea (Day 2)

John's Blog Updated. Original post with photos: Latitude: 19.31742 Longitude: -107.32718

We are well underway, currently about 140 nautical miles from La Cruz, after 23 hours of sailing. Our departure from Banderas Bay was smooth enough, and the winds started increasing to 10 to 15 knots on our beam during the evening and night. Our top speed last night was 8.5 knots, which is really good. Currently we are gliding along at 5.7 knots in fairly smooth seas.

Our first dinner underway started with a slice of frozen pizza as an appetizer which was followed up with chicken and couscous. All of us other than Bruce have been taking Sturgeon to combat sea-sickness and it actually seems to be working. This is the first time I have tried Sturgeon, and it is really nice to not feel terribly seasick.

We actually made a first attempt at leaving Puerto Vallarta on Friday, March 25, 2011, but after getting about three hours out into the bay, we had to turn back when we were unable to unroll our main sail from the mast. The sail roll inside the mast had become loose and the sail was bunching up when we tried to pull it out. Mike, the rigger, met us at the dock that evening and was able to get everything fixed for us. I had worried it was going to be another few days delay, but luckily the fix was pretty easy and we got underway on Saturday, March 26, 2011 at about 1pm.

It looks like we hit the weather window as we are having perfect wind speeds which are quickly pushing us into the trade winds. For now we are just taking it easy and getting used to life at sea.

Pacific Puddle Jump 2011
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Francois in the rigging
03/25/2011, Banderas Bay, Mexico

Here's a photo of Francois sitting on the boom as we returned to La Cruz.

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A False Start
03/25/2011, Banderas Bay, Mexico

We made final preparations and finally left the dock this afternoon at 1:00 PM. Heading out into Banderas Bay, the wind was on the nose so we decided to motor until we would be sufficiently offshore to get the northerlies which would carry us to the Marquesas.

Alas, as we approached Cabo Corrientes, about 23 miles from our starting point, when we tried to unfurl the main sail it would not go. It was stuck near the top.

We sent John up in the bosun's chair to try to unstick it. That's John, in the photo, trying to pull the sail fabric out of the mast where it was bunched up.

The boat rocking back and forth is amplified when you're 50 feet in the air, so John was starting to get seasick in his lofty perch. So I decided we would motor back to the marina, still a short distance away, so that we could get the mainsail sorted out in the still waters of the marina.

We made it back to the marina just after sunset, and our rigger, Mike, showed up. He explained that, because we had the boom removed for about 3 weeks while we were having the gooseneck (the hinge that attaches the boom to the mast) repaired, that the mainsail was sitting loose inside the mast without the usual tension on it. This caused the mainsail to loosen sufficiently so that it would not exit the mast.

We got the mainsail out in about a half hour, so now we're looking at another departure tomorrow morning (Saturday, March 26).

In working with the main sail, I noticed that the clutch holding the main halyard was not holding the line. We have a spare, so I'll mount that new clutch in the morning.

Pacific Puddle Jump 2011
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Zarpe Dinner
03/25/2011, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

This is our last evening on land in Mexico. Having completed our provisioning, I think we will still have enough food upon our arrival in Hiva Oa to start a small supermarket.

The credit card bills have been alarming. It seems we have been spending a couple thousand dollars per day on provisioning, and paying various bills for the marina, the welder, the rigger, etc. The good news is that there is no place to use our credit cards when we'll be in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

The last spare part we got for the boat was a spare alternator. I've heard about many boats losing their alternator. If that happened to us in the middle of the Pacific, we would no longer be able to make ice cubes for our rum & cokes. Now THAT would be a crisis! So we now have a spare alternator, for the sake of our rum & cokes.

We have more spares than you can shake a stick at. Spare autopilot. Spare chartplotter. Spare rudder. Spare VHF radio. Spare antenna. Spare water pump impellers. Spare fan belts. Spare sails. Spare medicines. Spare tire (that one is on my waist).

Crossing an ocean is kind of like being is a space capsule. If there's a problem, you're on your own, and you must have everything you need to deal with any situation, as it may be weeks before external help may be available.

It was interesting visiting with the doctor. We made an appointment and asked him, "make a list of all the medicines and equipment (syringes, sutures, etc.) that would let us treat most medical problems at sea. We have quite a medical kit now, let's hope we won't need it.

Yesterday, we got our Zarpe. It is our exit visa out of Mexico. Once it is issued, we have 48 hours to leave the country. We will miss Mexico. We love to speak Spanish (we are all getting very good at it). We love the warm, generous Mexican people. We can't wait to get back to Mexico someday soon. Hasta Luego!!

(The photo above is us, celebrating our imminent departure, on board our dear friend Jack's boat, Ventanna.)

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03/25/2011 | Dale
I have enjoyed you blog for several years. I have learned so much from your travels. Be safe and I wish you all the very best.

Last Major Provisioning Trip Completed
03/24/2011, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

We did our third, and last, major provisioning today. We purchased a gigantic amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as more canned veggies, and more meat for the freezer, only because we still have room. So we stocked up on some rib eye steaks and cornish hens. As small as it seems, it amazes us how much food we can fit into our little bitty freezer!!!!

Following Tommy's hint (on Phambili), we got 2 flats of Coke Light (for Rum and Cokes), plus about 12 liters of grapefruit juice (our favorite).

On the hardware side, we got a spare alternator yesterday. Very happy to have that, just in case.

It looks like a departure very soon. We got our Zarpe (exit visa from Mexico) today.

We saw the crew of Evergreen today....they're departing also. We'll be a day or two behind them but will probably catch up.

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03/24/2011 | Jan Koehler
Hi Calou crew - I will be following your blog posts throughout your journey. Aloha!
03/24/2011 | Lou & Marge on Seabird
We hope you have a great passage and thanks again for the bolt. It still is keeping our OB together. I will follow your blog when I finish this Bash to SD
Last Night In Mexico

John's Blog Updated. Original post with photos: Latitude: 20.74809 Longitude: -105.38002

About 4:00pm today, the last of the produce was packed, the last of the boat projects completed, and we cast off our lines and headed out to the open ocean.

Almost... Tonight we are at Marina La Cruz, about 10 miles from our previous location. We came to this marina to fill our fuel tanks before our real departure, which we anticipate will be tomorrow morning.

Dinner at Philo's was great - a full rack of ribs as my final meal ashore. I even played violin, or fiddle, with the band for a few songs.

Improvising does not exactly come naturally to me, but with a bit more exposure to it I am sure I will get a bit better. It's nice to have had a little experience at the Club with the Mariachi band at least. I wonder how well a violin will fit into a Polynesian band. I guess I have a few weeks to get ready

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Getting Really Close

John's Blog Updated. Original post with photos: Latitude: 20.68962 Longitude: -105.292955

We must be getting close now since we have officially checked out of Mexico.

This involved going to the Port Captain's office and getting our Zarpe, which is documentation for the boat. Next Immigration officials visited us on the boat and did a quick inspection and stamped our passports. We now have 48 hours to leave the country. Unless any last minute projects come up, we plan to leave Paradise Village marina today, and go to Marina La Cruz for fuel and our last night in Mexico. This puts us on schedule to depart on Friday.

The main focus of the week has continued to be provisioning. Yesterday was possibly our last big shopping spree. We made the rounds to most of our usual stops, plus a couple more. We picked up some last minute items at Zaragosas and Home Depot, topped off our propane can, and then it was out to Mega for buying our fresh produce. Mega has a great selection and we really stocked up. It will be very interesting to see how long everything lasts. We are planning on storing the produce in nets hung from the ceiling inside the cabin, plus one large net hung in the back of the boat between the dinghy davits.

Our friends on another boat, Phambili, are now only 220 miles from the Marquesas. They have been at sea for 21 days so far and have about 2 days left. Their trip was easy the first week or so, but then they hit some rougher weather just above the equator for about a week. We would be pretty happy if we can make as good of time as they have made. Another boat we have been seeing a lot of, Evergreen, checked out of Mexico at the same time as us and are leaving today. We will likely be in contact with them on the radio quite a bit as we will both be in semi-close proximity to each other as we make the crossing.

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