Due West Adventures

The sailing adventures of Captain Kirk & Heidi, Tosh and Tikka Hackler . . .

11 October 2017 | Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
16 September 2017 | Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
29 June 2017 | Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, MX
26 May 2017 | Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, MX
07 April 2017 | Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, MX
26 February 2017 | Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, MX
30 January 2017 | La Cruz, Nayarit, MX
24 December 2016 | Banderas Bay, Mexico
20 December 2016 | Banderas Bay
27 November 2016 | La Paz, B.C.S. Mexico
14 November 2016 | Bahia San Carlos Mexico
17 October 2016 | San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico
30 September 2016 | San Javier, B.C.S.
25 September 2016 | Puerto Escondido, B.C.S Mexico
12 September 2016 | Puerto Escondido, B.C.S Mexico
04 September 2016 | Nopolo Norte - Loreto
12 August 2016 | La Paz, Baja California Sur

Botanical Gardens, Panga Tours & Limonada

11 October 2017 | Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Check out more pix from our Photo Gallery.

September was a FUN-filled month with lots of visiting friends and celebrations. Mexican Independence Day is September 16th, so we checked out Puerto Vallarta's "Independencia" Parade, showcasing the Mexican Military - including a mix of old Mexican caballería (cavalry) and modern day army women in Chewbacca camo.



A week later our dear friend Christine arrived, and we welcomed her to PV with Tropical Storm Pilar! We hadn't seen Chris since she sailed away from Seattle 15-years ago. But as with all good friends, from the minute she arrived, we felt like we'd just seen her yesterday!

We'd been keeping an eye on EEBMike.com which has excellent weather forecasts for Pacific Mexico and Baja. The day after Christine arrived it appeared that Pilar would be making a close call to Banderas Bay. So we headed down to the marina to prep Due West for this potential tropical storm. Christine was a huge help, having ridden out Hurricane Marty herself in the Sea of Cortez many years ago - and she got busy taking down canvas and lashing things down, just like she knew what she was doing. :-)


Drowned-rats, Christine and Heidi eating Scandinavian Swimmers (a version of Swedish Fish~a treat from Christine and Trader Joe's!) after working away in the pouring rain to ready Due West for Tropical Storm Pilar.


So-long Pilar, watching the front move out after 24 hours in Banderas Bay.


Tosh loved the aftermath of Tropical Storm Pilar... playing among the umbrellas set out to dry!

Thankfully Pilar didn't turn out to be quite the storm that was predicted, and we only ended up with 24 hours of pouring rain with no wind at all. We heard reports of 7-15" of rain around Banderas Bay and saw the resulting rivers and waterfalls swell. So Pilar provided us a great day of staying indoors and watching a marathon of Netflix documentaries. The sun returned the next day and we headed into town to sight-see.


Go Ask Alice...Mexico has lots of strange little doorways...


Not to mention shops selling strange assortment of items like this one: Ice Cream, Cuban Cigars,
and Seafood... hummm?!



Freda Kahlo art is ubiquitous here.

One of the things that had been on our Banderas Bay Bucket List was to visit the Vallarta Botanical Gardens, and Christine was game to check them out too. We'd heard rave reviews about the restaurant-with-a-view at the top of the gardens so headed there for lunch, about an hour south of town by bus, through the lush jungle. Their website mentioned dressing for mosquitos (being in the rain forest!) and that the river had a great swimming hole. So we brought clothes for hiking and swimming after lunch. The open-air restaurant view was truly breathtaking. Humming bird feeders at every table--but they flapped their wings so fast none of us got a good photo--you'll just have to imagine the wide variety of these beautiful birds. The food was delicious too and included edible flower garnishes like begonias (which taste like lemon!)


The spectacular open-air restaurant-view at the Vallarta Botanical Gardens is worth the price of admission...


Maybe these flowers are what you find when you go through that small door?


Antheriums and other "indoor plants" at home grow everywhere here in the tropics.

After lunch we hiked the trails around the Botanical Gardens, taking in the lush tropical flowers, bamboo, Jurassic-Park-like plants, cocoa pods, coffee beans, and the Orchid Conservatory. Who knew that vanilla beans were a type of orchid?! We do now. On the Jaguar Trail the sign reminded us: "Just because you didn't see the Jaguar doesn't mean the Jaguar didn't see you!" When we arrived at the river the swimming hole was raging! No thanks...as the daughter of a white water river guide - Heidi said NO WAY was that river safe to swim in. All of the rains from Tropical Storm Pilar had that river overflowing its banks. Despite no swim, it was a fantastic day overall and we can't wait go go back.


Quimixto Trail Hikers (left to right): Lisa, Juan, Rachel, Kirk, Christine, and "Nacho".

Because we'd all had so much fun for Kirk's birthday excursion with Juan Bravo on our Panga Tour of the southern coast of Banderas Bay, we decided to take Christine and go again. Cruising friends Lisa & Don from s/v Windcharmer joined us, as well as our friend Rachel (our fantastic holistic chiropractor who happens to be Juan's girlfriend.) Last trip, the bay was too murky for snorkeling. This trip, despite the recent rain, the Bay was much more clear, and we stopped for a fantastic snorkeling experience complete with sea caves, along Majahuitas Bay. Sightings included sergeant majors, angel fish, red snapper, 3-foot-long needle fish, a zebra moray eel, sea stars, and a sea snake! Wet from snorkeling, we didn't mind the rain on the way to Yelapa. We hiked through town to the waterfall and then got a tow across the bay to the restaurants for lunch.

Juan's new outboard had been acting up and then wouldn't start. Fortunately for Juan Bravo, Captain Kirk is the "Outboard Whisperer"! So while the rest of us ate lunch the Capitán, Juan, and Juan's brother Israel got to work and fixed the outboard. Lunch at Yelapa was really mediocre compared to our previous lunch at Las Animas...note to self, eat at Las Animas next time.


Three young trail-crew heading down the trail back home as we were hiking up.

After lunch we headed back to Quimixto to do the 2-mile MUDDY hike up to the waterfalls. Last time around Heidi had hiked it barefoot, and encouraged everyone to do the same this time. Kirk was the only one that one listened... the rest just got muddy shoes. LOL! We were joined by Juan's friend "Nacho", an indigenous Chacala, who was our guide and entertainer. Although we didn't really need a guide, the entertainment aspect was super-fun. Once at the waterfalls he proceeded to dive in from several rock ledges, hamming it up all the way.


M-U-D-D-Y Trail... this is why we hike barefoot. Plus it's super grounding and feels great on your feet to squish around in all that mud...Some people pay big money for a mud bath!:-)


Capitán, Nacho, and Juan Bravo - after swimming at the falls.

There was a noticeable difference in the water flow CFMs this week from just 10-days before. Thanks to all the rain from Tropical Storm Pilar, the waterfall was raging and the eddies below it were even harder to swim in. Juan Bravo is also a Bombero (firefighter and lifeguard) and cautioned us NOT to follow Nacho's antics and swim too close to the falls. Wet, cold, and tired after a long day of hiking and swimming, we were all ready to head home with a quick visit to beautiful Los Arcos. One of these days we'll actually snorkel there too.


View from inside one of the "Los Arcos" arches. This is a great morning snorkeling spot, by late in the afternoon when we were there the sun is too low, making the water too dark to see.


All too soon it was time for Christine to head home. We so much enjoyed her visit, and really hope it won't be another 15-years before we see her again!

So what about the Limonada?

Well, as the saying goes, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade - or when in Mexico, Limonada... Last month Kirk got a clean bill of health and we made plans to keep cruising on south later this year. However, he was still waiting to get his Pacemaker ID Card, and when he went to see the Cardiologist to get that the Dr. also ran a 7-month report on his pacemaker. Low and behold it turned out that one of the lead wires had come detached from his heart wall sometime in the past 5 months. YIKES!! While this is apparently not uncommon, it's not what we had wanted to hear, or even expected. That wasn't even on our radar.

If the lead wire comes loose, it's generally within the first 2-months, and we knew his was still firmly in place at 2-months. So all that to say we have no idea when it came lose, or why or how... but he will be having surgery this Thursday afternoon to repair it. This also means they want to see him back here in April for another 6-month follow-up... so looks like we'll be spending yet another year in Mexico! Apparently the Universe thinks we aren't done with Mexico yet?? Thankfully we make REALLY GOOD Limonada (sin azucar)!!


This Capitán just hiked 8 miles, and was SHOCKED to learn that one of his pacemaker wires had been detached for who-knows-how-long...meanwhile, the doctors were shocked that he wasn't feeling weak and fatigued?!?.


THIS is why the Capitán is going in for a "tune-up" on his pacemaker.

Everyone in the "know" says this is an "easy, routine" operation - but when you're the one going under the knife, it's never easy or routine! He should be home the same day, then instructed to "lay low" for a few weeks, and not raise his left arm overhead for another month or two. As you can imagine, the Capitán is not very happy about this "laying low" prescription, but is taking it gracefully and looking forward to the next few months going by quickly so he can be more active again!

On the plus side, this will mean we'll get to catch back up with several cruising friends this spring that we weren't sure we'd see again anytime soon. And we may even get in another trip north to the Sea of Cortez after April... but we are making NO plans, as they seem to keep getting derailed. Another plus hanging around Banderas Bay for the next few months is that we may get to see some of you as you head down here for your winter vacations! So please keep us posted if you're headed this way. We'd love to see you, and take you on a Juan Bravo Panga Tour!

We are grateful to our friends Judy & Paul for letting us stay at their condo a bit longer, and hope to be moved back aboard Due West later this month.


The sunsets are finally shifting south enough that we can once again see them from the condo instead of having to go down to the pool around the corner... but that won't stop our nightly sunset swims (as soon as Kirk can swim again!)

Check out more pix from our Photo Gallery here.
Vessel Name: Due West
Vessel Make/Model: Passport 40
Hailing Port: Seattle, WA
Crew: Captain Kirk & Heidi Hackler + Tosh & Tikka
About:
Captain Kirk grew up sailing on Lake Washington and has been boating his whole life. He has been racing sailboats for about 40 years, including two Vic-Maui races (from Victoria, BC to Maui, Hawaii), one in 1990, and the other on Due West in 1996. [...]
Extra:
You can see pix of our boat here: Due West Interior Photos and in the Photo Gallery. Our racing friends call us "The [...]
Home Page: http://svduewest.com
Due West's Photos - Working on Boats in Exotic Locales: Ensenada
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Cruiseport Marina H-dock, or more specifically Hache-Ocho (H-8) has been our "home" for the past 2 months. It
Big THANKS to our cruising friend Don from Windcharmer who lent a hand in getting Due West moved from Cruiseport Marina over to Baja Naval Boatyard for our haulout. The tides, surge, and/or fog can sometimes make this a hairy ordeal, but luckily our haulout went off without a hitch.
Due West was backed into the slings where the guy at Baja Naval took the utmost care to check, double-check, and triple-check that the slings weren
Our inflatable kayaks and jerry jugs of spare diesel, water, and gasoline stowed on deck. Yellow jugs are diesel (four 5 gallon tanks), Blue jug is water (one 5 gallon tank, and Red jug is gasoline for the outboard and Honda generator.
It
Kirk checking out the prop, covered in barnacles and growth. But otherwise we were very pleased to see how good the bottom looked.
The quintessential working-on-boats-in-paradise shot, a warm sunny day with palm trees swaying in the background, mimicking the palm trees on our boat logo!
Yet more care taken by Baja Naval, they wrapped our SmartPlug electrical cord in plastic to keep it clean. While it may be a waste of plastic, any cruiser can attest to how dirty a boatyard can be, and this was a nice way to keep our cord clean. Overall, Baja Naval was THE cleanest boat yard we
Even in the masking and painting while raising the waterline up 4", they did a fantastic job. We were also pleasantly surprised to see that OSHA would approve of all the masks, gloves, and safety gear to protect these workers from toxic chemicals, not something you might expect in Mexico.
The prop being buffed clean of all marine debris, so hopefully we
Tosh and  Tikka wondering WHY we are swinging about up in the AIR instead of in the water?! It
Besides raising the waterline, the other main reason for our haulout was to replace our raw water (salt water) intake sea strainer that filters seaweed and other sea stuff out of our the engine cooling water. Our old sea strainer (see green bronze piece in middle) allowed in too much debris in it
The fur-kids LOVE it when ever the floor boards are opened up (or any locker doors are opened), new smells and places to explore..."how can we help?!"
The new sea strainer is a work of art, a glass lid you can see into to know when to clean it out, and an easy-open access for cleaning. It even fit within the 6" bilge space under the floors! Some boats have very deep bilges for storage and running pipes and hoses—not us, so things are frequently a tight squeeze. BIG THANKS to our friend Miles in San Diego, where we had this new sea strainer shipped to after overnighting it from Florida. Baja Naval wasn
What
Ever the helper, Tikka (and Tosh) always want to be where "Dad" is, doing what he is doing... handing him tools, or playing with his zip-ties and o-rings! "Can we be of any more assistance?"
Another project was adding netting to the lifelines to make it less likely the fur kids could accidentally fall or be launched off the boats in waves or curiosity. They
We needed to get some canvas work done, and William (Bill) came HIGHLY recommended through several cruisers at Cruiseport Marina. William made us dinghy chaps which we
Ta-da! The finished dinghy chaps, made from Sunbrella. The exterior edges are held down by shock cord under the lip of the rubber trim on the dinghy. The interior edge is weighted down by small bags filled with  sand or pea-gravel. It
When not in use, it
And speaking of theft deterrents, our outboard is ALWAYS locked to the dinghy, or locked to the stern rail on Due West. Outboards really like to go "walk-about" in the tropics. In an effort to discourage ours from going walk-about, (or to more easily spot it if it does?!) Akkkk...... Attack of the Psychedelic Jellyfish...
So we decided to turn our outboard into an ARTBoard with the help of a few cans of florescent spray paint...Heidi loves any excuse for an ART project!! :-)
Yamaha 15
Tornillos Alvarado is Captain Kirk
And boy did Tornillos Alvarado come in handy for helping to get all of the screws and bolts to finish installing our solar panels.
No two solar panels or attachment points are alike, so there is no standardized attachment device. Look at 10 different boats, and you
At long last, our two rail-mounted solar panels are finally installed, giving us 300 more watts of electricity from the sun. These new panels, in combination with our existing Bimini mounted panels, now give us a total capacity of 32 amps/hour. This keeps our batteries charged up and powers everything from our refrigerator, and 12 volt lights, to our SSB radio, VHF radio, and chart plotter/radar, keeping our carbon footprint low.
Captain Kirk is SO happy to finally have solved the solar panel mounting problems that first began in Oxnard.
Whew! It
Captain Kirk, A.K.A. Sherpa-Kirk bringing home provisions for our next leg of the journey.
Some of our provisions get stowed under floor boars, but as mentioned previously, that space is only about 6" deep, so it
This is what the main salon looks like after a trip to Costo and other provisioning before a big passage. For a few hours it looked like a tornado hit Due West, then one-by-one things find homes and get stashed away, and our main salon becomes livable again.
We
The shadows area growing L-O-N-G in Ensenada and it
Adios Cruiseport Marina and Ensenada, it
 
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