05/24/2012, Costa Baja Marina, La Paz
The re-insulation project on our refrigeration, that we were afraid would never end, finally did. But it was a narrow victory, as the carpenter who had been "guiding" us throughout the project suffered two broken fingers and almost lost his thumb in a bloody table saw accident the evening before the delicate final installation of the teak bulkhead, Formica, hatches and lids. We thought for sure that we would suffer another lengthy delay that might even jeopardize exiting hurricane country before our insurance company's deadline. But good fortune smiled upon us and we found Javier and Victor just down the dock, and they agreed to interrupt their current work to get us finished up. Their work was superb and timely, and we were finally able to rid the companionway of Styrofoam coolers, which had been our "refrigerators" for two months and permanently make up our berth. We made our COSTCO visits and loaded up - then untied the docklines and ventured forth.
We were heading for La Paz, and winds looked accommodating, so we wasted no time, departing Banderas Bay and motoring to Isla Isabel (of blue-footed booby fame) to anchor for the night. After catching up on our sleep, we sailed northwest for La Paz early the next morning. To make things interesting as we motored at 5 knots, we put out a hand line and trolled all day. Alas no luck! The next day we tried again with a different lure - this time we set out two hand lines. We were trying to do things just like Bill Craig had recently taught us and were using his personal lure creations. Just as we were beginning to lose hope, Karyn's line was hit by a monstrous 24-inch mahi mahi. It was a difficult fight, but eventually I was able to bring him alongside. Karyn handed me the gaff, and I landed him on the side deck, where she really showed the fisherman spirit by cleaning and filleting the little critter and placing the beautiful tender, juicy meat in the freezer to keep it fresh. About two hours later, Karyn prepared a sumptuous fish dinner, which we ate at the cockpit table. What a life!
We enjoyed varying mild conditions the rest of the way (all told, about 350 miles), often motoring to keep moving, but sailing a lot of the way, too. Winds from the SW and West were often enough to push us up to 7 knots or better. We had a bit of a problem Friday evening: I came off watch and was looking forward to 3 solid hours of sleep, but Karyn reported that the jib would not completely furl. I wanted to show her the advantages of superior strength, but found that I could do no better than she. So I grabbed my tools, determined to show her the effectiveness of more adroit methods. Interestingly, there was a bird perched just ahead of the furling drum, a beautiful yellow-footed booby. I was careful not to disturb him as I went to my knees at the foot of the furler, a mere three feet aft of the cute little guy. But I was wearing my headlight, and the booby noticed me right away, turning his head and neck around 180 degrees to see what I was up to. He was totally unfazed by my presence - perhaps he was impressed with my considerable skills. At any rate, I became convinced that we were enjoying a brief inter-species communion - a wonderful opportunity. Just about then, I heard a loud "SPLOUSHHHHH!" and felt a very warm wetness all over my left leg and a splattering of brown and white bird xxxx that left Realtime's bow very much altered. Unable to see what had transpired, Karyn became alarmed at my agitation, loud yelling, and boorish anti-bird gesticulations. But soon I was able to finish the task at hand, and when I returned to the cockpit she saw what I was yelling about and helped me clean up. So much for communing with nature!
One more day, and we were heading into La Paz again - a little warmer than we left it last November. We pulled into the Costa Baja Marina and tied up. We knew that we were going to be comfortable. It is a beautiful place. Check out the gallery to see it. There is no humidity here to mention, and the heat is tolerable, using awnings and lots of beautiful desert scenery. There is an infinity pool for the hottest part of the day. A base for the summer, as we explore the islands and coves of the Sea of Cortez!
Hola everyone - last time I wrote, we were still in the midst of many projects. As the stumbling blocks came, we reevaluated . . . If we were going to have to stay longer in Puerto Vallarta, we should make the best of it. We decided to take some inexpensive day trips. We love traveling on the Mexican buses - always an adventure. We started by going to Sayulita a bit north on the shore. It is known for it's surfing; Matthew had told us about it. The difference in the inhabitants was remarkable. It is a throw-back to hippies of the 60's and surfing. We took an old bus and felt every bump. The town itself was pretty. There were lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and friendly people. We talked to a young couple from the Czech Republic. They did not have children yet and decided to buy a van and drive to the Chile, learning about the countries on the way. They allowed two years for their adventure. It was interesting for 2 retired folks to be in much the same situation on their own adventure. It was a nice meeting. We roamed the town, drank Cappuccino and rested on the beach. It was crowded with both tourists and local families. You can see it all in the gallery. Quite a place.
The we went into Puerto Vallarta to see some local dancers perform on the Malecon. It was very low key and a place where family and friends go to see their children and grandchildren perform. A very touching dance troupe was comprised of mentally compromised adults and their teachers. It was heartening to watch. There are pictures of them as well.
Lastly we took the bus to San Sebastian. This is a 400 year old silver mining town of the Spanish. It has gone from a thriving town of 20,000; providing ore to Spain and, subsequently for Mexico, to a very small population of 600 mostly elderly people, as the mines have now all closed. The young people cannot find jobs. San Sebastian is in the running to be a World Heritage Site, but is really not yet geared up for tourists. We met a 54 year-old man who agreed to show us the various sights in town. He only spoke Spanish. It was the first time that I had to use my Spanish all day for every conversation. It excites me to continue to learn. Guape (his name) had worked in the mines his entire adult life. A year ago he was electrocuted at work, was in a coma for much of 2 months, and has lost the use of his left hand. He had to learn to walk, talk, etc. again. We talked about his hospitalization, recuperation, fears, etc. Right up my alley. He drove us around in his taxi. Miraculous. He told us his story and took us to the old mine shafts up the mountain. There is only one working mine now, but at one time there were 130. It was amazing. He took us to the house of a family member, who gave us her homemade tequila and dried mango. We went through her beautiful flower garden and swapped names of plants that we grow here as well. It was a great experience. Little Hannah, her daughter was our photo op. Lots of San Sebastian pictures in the gallery.
Yesterday, we took two buses into Puerto Vallarta to get the regrigeration insulation material from the shipping office. Guess what . . . it wasn't there yet. Maybe Monday, but "call first". So we are cooling our heels. There is still a chance that work will resume Monday afternoon. (Sunday is just a lazy day of reading, Bob coloring my hair, and working on the blog). We are eating tonight with friends with homes in Corona del Mar and Utah. He owned a plumbing company for many years, and Bob has appreciated his support in finding and repairing our water system. No more fresh water leaking into the bilge and no more cycling of water pressure and bilge pumps.
Our friends the Reads are one day from the Marquesas after 28 days at sea - a bit longer than they expected. Quite an accomplishment. We've heard from them daily through blog updates and emails they've sent using their satellite phone, and have heard just how much a trip like that demands of the husband/wife crew. Congratulations to them for their skill, courage, and tenacity.
That's about all for now. Please take a look at the gallery. This really is a great country, epecially when we head inland to the less populated areas. We even shook hands with a political candidate in his white cowboy hat. Buen Dias a todos.
04/27/2012, Puerto Vallarta
Hello, to all who follow our progress. Well...you may be disappointed. We haven't made much progress! We came back from our stateside trip expecting the refrigerator/freezer to be reinsulated and the counter and lids replaced. Nothing was done. We are 6 weeks into this project and really, there is no end in sight. Well, that's kind of exaggerating! Everybody knows I exaggerate all the time. After a three week wait for the insulating foam, we tried to use it yesterday and it wouldn't expand. It must be replaced (from the US), it can't be flown here, because it is flamable . When we get it, the rest of the job can progress. Probably another 2 weeks. It has already cost 3 times what we had planned for. That is kind of how it goes in this boating life. That's a part that I don't like. We have been waiting aboard the boat everyday for the work to be done. Now we are just going to finish our other projects and do a little sight seeing. We need to have something to look forward to rather than focusing on the disappointments and delays. That is how we want this experience to be.
I will include some of the before/during project pictures this time. We are, (mostly Bob) working on the windlass, the refrigerator/freezer, finding a fresh water leak, replacing the hot water heater, mounting a barbeque, polishing oxidized metals, working on the blog, there is always plenty to do, .
The weather here in PV is lovely. The Marina is very nice. Those of our friends that were leaving for various places have long gone. I have been spending my time on the computer planning and reserving for our stateside travels late summer. We look forward to visiting some of you as we "land travel" during the hottest part of the summer in the Sea of Cortez. We hope to get up there in the next couple of weeks, before hurricane season starts and will settle in La Paz. There are many islands and coves to explore.
Talking about exploration. We now have an inflatable kayak. Her name is "Spirit". She is wonderful. We meander along the waterways early or late looking for birds, fish, turtles, crocodiles and iguanas and seeing the backs of beautiful villas. It is really fun. Sometimes Bob and I go and sometimes I go with my friends. It is the perfect trip for a good conversation and quiet contemplation. We also brought home a small barbeque to mount on the rail. That will be useful in the Sea as well. We hope to fish and to cook our catches. Stay tuned for pictures of that :-) Without a refrigrator, we are using two little ice chests and buying food and ice daily. I talked with someone today who did this for 8 months. I shouldn't be complaining should I? We still love each other, laugh everyday and get some things accomplished. Sometimes we just throw up our hands and go to the beach or go to the shopping center and have a cappuccino. That's probably the best idea of all. I think I'll check and see if Bob is ready to stop yet. He's pretty handy around here, and cute too!
04/09/2012, Puerto Vallarta
It's been a while since I have entered in the blog. We took a trip to the states for about 10 days. It was a great trip. It was nice to be on land and to see family. We first went to Florida to see Bob's sister Mary Beth and her husband Keith. We had lots planned to do and had a great time. We went to Green Cove Springs to St. Brendan's Isle. They are our mail forwarders. We picked up our "held" mail and packages. they also walked us through becoming Florida residents. We needed a residency while at sea for some paperwork and the mail forwarder isn't quite sufficient. Now we have domicile, drivers licenses, and voters registration. This should put us in good stead.
Keith took us to Hardee High School to speak to his geography and history classes. He made a wonderful power point for the presentations and we talked about our experiences on Realtime. They had prepared questions ahead of time and we answered them. Next year they are going to follow this blog as part of their curriculum. They gave us special T-shirts. You will see them in the gallery. We had a great time with the young people.
We joined Mary Beth at her church for Palm Sunday. It was a lovely service. The people there are very welcoming and they had a lovely pot luck. We saw an unlimited outboard race that reminded me of my youth. Several world records were broken. Mary Beth also facilitated lots of little shopping trips for items we can't get in Mexico. Very helpful.
Our last few days were with my daughter Jacquelyn in Las Vegas. She and her husband Jason have moved into a new home and we were very comfortable. Of course, we had fun with our grandson Parker, who is 3. He enjoyed jumping on the trampoline and going to the playground. Jacquelyn has just opened as the lead in Best Little Whorehouse in Texas at the Plaza. We were so lucky to get to see it twice. It was great. They are working out technical bugs, but as always, she lights up the stage with her presence. We also had a nice night out with Jason as well to see Chris Angel at the Luxor. It was an action packed time. They too facilitated our shopping for things that we can't get here. Bob packed everything masterfully and we made it through customs without a hitch. Good job, Bob.
Meanwhile, back at Realtime, the cabin is still upside down with no refrigerator or freezer. Materials have not all arrived for the completion of the project. We got here in time to send our friends, the Read's, off on their Pacific Puddle Jump, crossing over 2,300 miles of ocean to reach the Marquesas in French Poliynesia. We wish them God speed. There are a few repairs that we will do this week and then we will head north. We have reserved a space a Costa Baha in La Paz for the end of the month. We can take our time getting there.
03/19/2012, La Cruz de Huantacaxtle
The last time I communicated, we were just about ready to round Cabo Corrientes and enter Banderas Bay for a return to Puerto Vallarta to see the baby tigers, go to the beach and have my surgery. We were just going to stop overnight in La Cruz, at the north entrance of the bay to consult with a refrigeration man who had been recommended and get fuel. Well.....we are still here two weeks later. The refrigeration man used to live in Long Beach and had worked with the man who left us in this refrigeration mess. Since before we left Shoreline the wall behind our bed was always very wet.
We had the man back and he drilled some holes and blew in some more insulation, but it didn't improve. We left the US with two sheets of insulation between the mattress and the wall, drying everything each day as we made the bed. It has gotten progressively worse.
We now have had to cut large pieces out of our beautiful wood and removed the galley counter top to see what was happening. What we found was incredible There were holes in both the refrigerator and freezer boxes that he had not sealed (one very large one where the old compressor hose went). The newly added foam insulation was trapping all that moisture that was being produced by the condensation. It was quite a job to get it all out. Some of it looked like a snow cone. That was the only answer...to get all the insulation out and dry everything. You will see a funny picture in the gallery of the tool I devised from a fish gaff, a large screwdriver and a dagger saw (blades on both sides) all hooked together with duck tape to try to get to the places too deep/far for our arms. To keep from poking things, I kept a kitchen mitt on the unused portion. We were a sight to see around here, insulation dust everywhere. Now we await the new insulation, new insulated lids and the carpentry work to make her beautiful again. I would like to take that guy and get him to open his checkbook to pay for all this work that is having to be redone. Lessons learned. We are fortunate to have found out about it and taken care of it. In addition, I continue to glue down lifting edges of the non-skid up on the deck. Had to stop during this recent crisis, but will finish in a day or so. Bob continues to try to get the two screws out of the windless to service it.
I had my surgery. He put a bandage on that kept me from seeing the results, and also covered it well during all this insulation expose'. He took the stitches out day before yesterday but covered it again. I haven't seen it yet. I see him again tomorrow for the pathology reports to see if he got clear margins. Then an appointment to learn how to massage the scar. Can you believe that! Can't say enough about the medical care here. The surgery and all these appointments cost $350. I'll reserve judgment until I actually see the scar. I plan to take a picture of Dr. Rivera and his nurse to put on the blog. Cruising is not only a vacation...it is doing real life while living on a boat.
Speaking of real life, it was bound to happen...Bob got a terrible intestinal bug. He has never been sick since I have known him. This one took us both by surprise. All when we were sleeping on the salon settee and eating out of ice chests! He is still in bed today, but improved. His temperature is approaching normal. It h ad been very high. We had a cruising physician on our dock who gave us assistance. Others brought CIPRO, thermometer, chicken broth and offers of assistance. This really is a family. I got to play nurse. Now this is a role where I feel confident :-) He is a good patient and I'm glad he is getting better. Good to see him reading and relaxing even if it takes a Mexican Bug to get him down. The doctor says this can sometimes last a few days so we are further slowed down. That's why I had time to do the blog :-)
We are heading for the states in a week to see Bob's sister and her husband in Florida, where we get our residency issues completed. Then on to Las Vegas where Jacquelyn is opening in the lead in Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. We will babysit Parker. We just got an adorable clip with Parker, hand over his heart, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. All this and he just turned 3...whew! We have missed our cruising friends while we have been here doing repairs and look forward to getting together with them again. The Reads will be leaving next week on the Puddle Jump. We are sorry not to be buddy boating with them. :-( We will see the Backuses in PV and the Watsons in La Paz. Friends are really the best part of this.
While we have been up to our eyeballs in insulation, La Cruz has been hosting large sailboat racing, "J" boat racing and windsurfing. There has been a lot of activity and beautiful boats in the marina. I'll include some pictures of them as well. Their President, Calderon came in a helicopter to shoot the opening gun aboard a beautiful power boat. Lots of excitement and lots of security. Enough automatic weapons for a war! There is one at the end of our dock at all times. Wish he would shoot the rat in the garbage area!.
Lastly a book that I would like to recommend. The Lemon Tree; an Arab and a Jew. Sandy Tolan, a graduate professor at Berkeley has written an incredible chronicle of the mideast Israel/Palestine conflict. It has always confused me and I feel much more empathy and understanding now. She tells the story (after interviewing the very people) of two families who actually lived in the same house (not at the same time) in Palestine (one Palestinian and one Jewish) after the Jews were relocated from Europe and given the land in Palestine for their new home (in Zion). The Palestinians were exiled. Reviewers of both cultures say it is fairly presented. Please read it. I would like to hear what you think.
I had my final doctor's appointment. A big surprise. He said that the pathologist (on examining a larger sample) no long believed it was melanoma, but something that looked much like it. The scar is healing well and I am fortunate. Thanks for all the good thoughts. Karyn
We have been on the move. We left Tenecatita on the morning of the 19th, heading further south down the coast of Mexico. We were buddy boating with Carol and Ned in Franny B. Planning to go all the way to Bahia de Navidad that day, but they were stopping in Cuastecomate (Secret Anchorage). We decided to slip in and take a look. It was very inviting, much like the little towns in the south of France. We put on our snorkling gear and gave it a try. The water was really cold and there wasn't much to see. For some reason, I kept going in circles, try figure! Carol and Ned went out in their kayak and pulled me back to the boat. They explored in their kayak and had a great time. We are really convinced we need to get an inflatable kayak too. They are really easy to manage for exploring.
They stayed the night and we continued on to Barra de Navidad. What a magnificent setting. There is a lovely hotel and marina. The town itself is charming; they were smashed by a hurricane a couple of years ago and are still repairing. We stayed a couple of nights in the marina to get laundry done, take a shower, get internet, etc. We played in the pool and visited the little town. Each morning a panga arrives with, "The French Baker". He comes to the boats and sells beautiful pastries and bread. He will even take orders (baked or unbaked) for cruisers to take with them. What a treat! There is a lagoon where many boats anchor free of charge. We may try that on the way back up the coast. (The French Baker goes to the lagoon in his little boat, too.)
Our intention was to get to Santiago or Las Hadas next, but we had gone so far out to get wind, that we found we had to head for shore and another anchorage before dark. We joined Carol and Ned who had stopped at Ensenada Carrizal. What a beautiful little spot - kind of a Mexican fjord. Both Carol and I thought it really resembled the anchorages in the Pacific North West. Some boaters had a bonfire on the beach that evening. We were invited, but chose to stay on the boat to make an early departure in the morning. It was a rocky shore and required another dinghy landing in the dark - with surf! This was a little more than we wanted to try.
Santiago was just around the bend, so we skipped it and went on to Las Hadas. Carol and Ned had been to Las Hadas before and chose to go to Santiago, one of their favorites. The coast here is really just one bay after another. Las Hadas is one of the places you want a picture of. It is where Bo Derrick made the movie Ten. This moorish architecture resort sits above the anchorage. Quite picturesque. For 200 pesos (about 17 dollars) a day, you can dock your dinghy and use the hotel ammenities. It is beautiful. I see why folks choose this anchorage. We were able to connect with our friends on Dodger Two before they headed north. We had great time in the pool and lovely meals before they took off. It was good to see them. They had told us about the lovely inland towns of Colima and Comala. We decided before leaving this area to take the bus and see them.
What an experience! It happens it was the one day in the year where they host a rodeo/bull fight/fair. Our Best Western Ceballos hotel was right on the old city square. We had hot water, shower, and a king size bed - What a treat! The square was where the action was. In one hour, there was to be a parade right in front of us. How is that for timing? The bellman was also a tour guide. He got us started with information on the where and when.
We taxied to the event and really got to be one of the crowd. They seated us gringos (we were the only two we saw.) in the front row. The matadors placed their capes on the rail right in front of us, and the action began. Horses dancing, bulls being ridden and roped, bulls being fought (but not killed), incredible horsemanship by the charros. It was amazing. We stayed for hours. The fair had rides, food, and housewares of all kinds. this is where people wait all year to come and buy clothes, undies, shoes, kitchenware, pottery, art, etc. We were overwhelmed - I think that you'll enjoy the pictures. Back to the hotel to enjoy the music and people on the square, have a light dinner of chicken enchiladas, and watch a Mustang Club Rally as they paraded their cars around the square. A second parade in one day. Whew! People still walk with their families here, enjoying the beautiful evenings. What a delight.
Salvador, the bellman, met us at 9am Sunday to take us for a walking tour of Colima and to drive us up to the town of Comala. We were in for a treat. As we left the city he took us to visit local churches and tell us a bit about the culture. He stopped and bought us local drinks (I can't remember the names) made from pineapple, corn and palm oil (tuba). Then on to an archeological site from the time of the 400 BC to 1000 AD. Only 1% of the area has been excavated and it is huge. We were able to just pick up pieces of ancient pottery in the dirt. We looked directly into a tomb with its bones, carved animals, etc. We saw the places of worship and living quarters. These ruins were amazing, and there are no controls on them. People can walk wherever they want.
Then on to the special town of Nogueros, just outside Comala, and the hacienda of artist Alejandro Rangel Hidalgo. He is known for the pictures of angels from many countries that have been used on UNICEF Christmas cards. In this locality, townspeople collected and gave him ancient artifacts they ran across for many years. He worked with Colima University and made an exhibit in his home that continues to be maintained after his death in 2000. The pottery exhibit is finer than anything we have seen anywhere and presented in such an artistic manner. This was really a treat. I've put several pictures of this ancient pottery in the blog. We couldn't take pictures of the paintings, but maybe you are already familiar with them.
Finally, we went to the center of the little town of Comala, "The White City". We didn't have much time before we needed to get back to the bus station, but we took time for a cold drink, and the restaurant people brought plate after plate of food. It was free. For the four of us, the bill was $11. Mariachis sang, an old man played a tune on a leaf, an accordion player entertained and we watched families spending their Sunday afternoon together in the square and enjoying a meal. At the table next to us, a mom was filling her son's sippy cup with Corona. No wonder he didn't give her any trouble. Back to the beautiful Mexican bus (really) and a 90-minute trip back to Realtime. We had left her at anchor here (a first) with friends Ron and Cheryl Roberts from Long Beach in Lazy Days watching her. All was well.
We had previously visited the town of Manzanillo (industrial) and found a repairman for the SSB, so Monday morning we motored over there to have him take a look at it. It's a pretty cumbersome arrangement with us anchored out in the harbor, and Bob has going ashore in the dinghy to pickup and deliver the serviceman, who speaks no English. It was an all day thing. A chance for me to work on the blog. The north winds are picking up and we won't go far tonight. We are headed north.
Unfortunately, the previous negative results of my biopsy weren't really mine. There was an error in the wrong direction. I am heading back to Puerto Vallarta as soon as the winds subside to consult with a plastic surgeon regarding surgical removal of another melanoma from my face. It has developed since we left and looks just like the others looked. It is on my left cheek. I'll talk with him and then decide if I will have it removed here or go to the US. Since it grew so quickly (I was thoroughly checked the week we left), I don't want to delay. If weather doesn't get us north soon enough, I'll go on the bus. We'll see. It is "in Situ" so if they get it promptly things will go well. I'll keep you posted.
We do well. This really does feel like home now. We had a king size bed in Colima, but were still happy to return to Realtime's little quarter berth. I will get to work on downloading some pictures now - also some videos of the Rodeo/Bullfight. We are so lucky to get to explore so much. When I imagined cruising, I didn't really think about all the incredible places we would visit. What an experience!
We have decided not to do the Pacific Puddle Jump this year. We still have issues with our refrigeration and power use (they are connected). We will go north to La Paz in the Sea of Cortez and spend the hurricane months/summer there exploring the sea. We didn't have time to see much of it when we were in the earlier part of our trip. The end of the summer is extremely hot and folks do not stay on their boats, so we will come to the US and pester our friends for a while. Our thought are to rent a small RV and spend a couple of months exploring on land and visiting family and friends. There are many places we haven't seen and we miss everyone. That is fun to look forward to. Most cruisers need a bit of land time every now and again. that is something we hadn't thought about before either. We are living and learning.
We are waiting for winds to calm down and then heading north early on Friday morning. We will travel as far as we can each day, ending up back in Puerto Vallarta. Please post comments and let us know what you think of this blog.