03/15/2011, La Cruz Marina, La Cruz Mexico
We made it through the tsunami just fine though the Port Captain for Banderas Bay closed all the harbors and marinas and wouldn't let any boats in or out. Boy, I sure want to be trapped in a nice small cove when a big wall of water comes a knocking. Not a smart decision. After lots of talking and radio calls, he finally relented and allowed those of us in La Cruz to get out but we had to drop anchor just outside the marina entrance. You can guess how well that went down. Everyone took off. We headed out and just kept on going till we had well over 600 feet of water under our hull. I'd come down with the La Cruz Crud the previous night(Tracy had had it a few days before) so while I rested below, Tracy took us as far out as she could. The wave was due about 1400 and passed under our keel just fine. Several more passed just after the first. The wall of water slammed into La Cruz and lifted all the docks about 8 feet tearing off the first two fingers of the docks inside the harbor. From what we have learned, there were no boats damaged by it here. The surge just kept on coming for hours afterwards. Up and down like a never ending high then low tide over and over again. The waters swirled for several days at the marina entrance. Some times you have to ignore what the government tells you to save your own skin.
We motored over to a nice beach(Punta de Mita) about 8 miles west of La Cruz and dropped the anchor. It was just about 1550 in the afternoon. As the anchor went down, the engine just up and died. We went below and could find no problems. Plenty of fuel in the tanks. We bled the fuel lines as air in them will stop a diesel engine. Still no clue. So back up we went on deck and with a good wind from the west, we put up the spinnaker and took off for La Cruz. We rolled into the anchorage(marina still closed) and re dropped the anchor. With all the marinas closed, there were close to 100 boats in the anchorage. With no engine, we were at the far edge of the field of boats.
Got up Saturday and dingied into the marina to see the damage and returned to Zephyr to relax and recover a bit. Got up Sunday and started in on the engine. Re bled the system and the engine started right up. I don't understand what the problem was but I'm going to take off the primary fuel filter and check it again. I'd replace the all the filters while we were in Paradise Village several weeks ago so there should be no problems there but better safe than sorry.
Sorry we have been so lax on our posts but the internet down here(at the marina) is about as fast a a 56k dial up modem--if you can even get a signal. Even with our super wifi antenna, we may get a good signal but still not be able to get on line. We're at one of the local restaurants up the hill using their wifi signal. Heck, there are some days we don't even have water in the marina but the people sure are nice and there are lots of cruisers in the slips so everyone helps everyone else.
The photo I attached is what is left after the tsunami came through. They already had cleared out the smashed docks. Now there are just the pilings left.
02/24/2011, Puerto Vallarta
Yesterday was a really busy one for us. We started by replacing the yaw arm on the Duogen wind/water generator. It required a lot of unscrewing screws over the dark murky depths here at the marina. Bill passed his dexterity test with that task and we now have a perfectly straight yaw arm. Yeah!!!
Immediately after finishing the Duogen task we started on the forestay/roller furling problem...remember on Christmas Day we discovered that the feed extrusion had ripped nearly all the way around. The correct parts arrived on the truck from "Far Fetched" had brought down from Tucson. Hooray, they were the correct parts so we dove in to fix the problem. One hang up though, we have Hayn Hi Mod fittings so we had to remove the fitting on the end of the forestay to get the old parts off and install the new. Well, an hour later after blow torching the goo out of the fitting and using a wrench as a hammer we did get the Hi Mod fitting off. Unfortunately, using the wrench buggered the threads of the fitting. No one in PV carries Hayn fitting to replace it, so plan B was to get the local yacht service to retap it for us, which he did and returned it to us first thing in the morning. We made quick work of getting the new parts onto the forestay and replacing the Hi Mod fitting and reattaching the forestay to the deck of the boat. Two down...
After lunch Bill attached the new 90' of chain to the existing length and had it washed and put back into the anchor locker.
At 3:00 p.m. we met Paul and Karen from Gigi at the Yacht Club and had two speakers at the PPJ seminar.
Needless to say, we both slept really well last night!
02/20/2011, Puerto Vallarta
Here it is, another Sunday in sunny, warm Mexico. It is really an oddity when there is total cloud cover. Banderas Bay has been getting some fog of all things this past week, but it burns off by Noon and it too becomes sunny and cloud free. We see the news from Detroit, of all places, so we can see how awful the weather has been for you all up North. No wonder the tourists flock down here by the droves.
I've been stitching lately, and finished up the piece in the picture. It is a chart that we picked up in a tiny store in Juneau, Alaska when we were there a year and a half ago. It is called "Berry Pickers" and show how the native Alaskan women dress. It is sort a dress affair over their parkas. I used to see them dress that way when my family went to the dog races outside of Fairbanks when we lived up there in the early sixties. Anyway, I started it last summer in Denver and have been stitching on it on and off. I'm great at starting tons of projects, but finishing them is really hard for me. I probably have fifty different stitching projects in the works in various stages. You just have to be in the right mood for the right project. I brought lots of snow related projects, but stitching a snowman when you're sweating like crazy doesn't seem right!
Bill is still studying for his General license. His test is next Sunday at 9 a.m. at the Vallarta Yacht Club. Hopefully, he'll pass the exam. He is studying hard enough, so it shouldn't be a problem for him. He memorizes things much easier than I ever could.
This morning continued scrubbing the topsides of Zephyr with Comet and a scrubby pad. The teak dust from stripping the teak got into the fiberglass and suddenly the top looked awful. This afternoon, I'll start putting wax onto the topsides to seal it all back up again. All of our "goods" will be arriving in Puerto Vallarta on Monday, so we will be screaming busy with the roller furling and all the other projects that are product dependent with things that are coming Monday.
There is always something to do on a boat.
02/12/2011, Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico
Bill was feeling up to getting hauled up to the top of the mast to finish out the last eleven steps. There are 33 total. I figured each on took Bill about 45 minutes to finish. The only things he dropped: a pair of sunglasses and a Sharpie he was marking with. The lenses popped out of the sunglasses when they hit the deck after their journey from 60 feet up. One lens stayed on the deck, but one bounced, bounced and went down the scupper. I just happened to look down the scupper and saw it pressed down against the covers we put over the teak. I put my hand under the scupper and lifted the cover...well, of course the lens missed my hand and went into the water. I quickly fished the sinking lens out and voila all the parts to reassemble Bill's shades. Whew, I'm glad as they were his favorites.
I think tomorrow, Bill will be under the aft bunk putting the hydrolic lines back in so we can bleed the lines and have steering again. I make a great step and fetch it person while he works his miracles.
The estimated date for leaving Puerto Vallarta for the Marquesas and beyond is March 25. It really is dependent on weather, but we are getting the list peeled down and are getting rid of lines on the list.
I have started making meals and freezing them, so on the passage I won't have to always spend so much time in the galley. I really believe in one hot meal a day is important on passage. I'm going to try to put up 10 days worth of dinners so if the seaway is rough, I can just throw something in the microwave or oven.
Some interesting estimates you might be interested in:
We think this passage will take between 25 and 30 days. We will be sailing 24 hours a day. We will be covering about 3,000 nautical miles. Most likely we will be going only 5 to 6 knots (about 6 to 7 miles per hour). We will be doing four hours on and four hours off for our watch system. Just try to think about every single thing you will eat in a month...no stores in the middle of the ocean. We have to have anything and everything we will be eating on board when we leave. We will be fishing, but from what I've heard, most people only have caught one or two fish the whole way. And finally, usually a boobie bird hitchhikes most of the way....that will give the cats a thrill, huh?!
02/11/2011, Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico
Here we are in Paradise Village Marina, the sun is bright, the temperatures are near perfect a light breeze is blowing. What more could one want????Personally, I would much rather be at anchor, but the work goes on and here we sit. I'm not complaining...life here is great.
We really haven't seen much of Puerto Vallarta, we still haven't been in the downtown section. I'm sure tourists get to see more than us.
The air quality some days is great and we can see the mountains behind PV and other days the inversion is worse than Los Angeles. The people here are wonderful. The Mexican culture in general is so helpful. They really bend over backwards to help or to find someone to help with a particular problem.
We spent last Wednesday in La Cruz for the Puddle Jump Seminar on Radio Communications. After that was over we went out for dinner with Paul and Karen from Gigi. We all chose Phillo's a cruiser hangout in La Cruz. With dinner's chosen we settled back with great conversation. Bill and Paul's dinner came, another ten minutes went by and Karen's pizza came. They all finished dinner and no food for Tracy. An hour went by and still no food for me. An hour and a half went by and finally my meal showed up. I think they had to find and kill the chicken. It was delicious though. We ended up taking a taxi back to Paradise Village. It is always fun to kibitzs with friends.
Bill is in agony today. His back muscles started to tighten last night and by this morning he can barely move. I've given him some Flexeril and hopefully they will unkink a bit. He is sitting on the setee and wincing at every move. I don't think he'll be going up the mast to work on mast steps today.
Bill's 60th birthday was yesterday and we celebrated by having our last two U.S. Costco steaks out of the freezer along with beautiful asparagus and a baked potato. Bill even opened up a bottle of our "really good" wine, a Margaux from Chateau D'Issan...yumm. I'd made an Apple Crisp for dessert and Bill went up to the small store in the Village and bought a small carton of Haggen Daz Vanilla ice cream to go with the Crisp.
This is definitely high living in a marina. It has all the comforts of a great resort and marina in the States. There are hot tubs, swimming pools, Mc Donald's, Subway and even a Baskin Robbins. A friend of ours bought a milkshake there and it was $10 USD. It is definitely not real Mexico, but it is nice to get lavished upon. I'm not sure I'm really comfortable here, I personally would rather be at anchor in La Cruz. Bill is perfectly happy with his internet and tv connections. Either way, the work continues. It has to be finished before we can leave.
01/29/2011, Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico
Here is a stab at the reality of life as a cruiser. Especially if you live on a sailboat.
1. You are not really a sailboat. You are a power boat with a different form of auxiliary propulsion. We have found that we have to motor about 75% of the time as the wind is either non existent or it's from the wrong direction. When you buy a sailboat--check the engine before you buy it. New sails are loads less money than a new engine.
2. Everything cost twice as much as what you think it should cost. Once you stamp "marine" on the label, it may not be any better but since it goes on a boat and everyone knows that all boater are rich, the price doubles. An air horn at West Marine used to cost about $20.00(no longer available). At Walmart, the same horn that was non marine was about $10.00. It's that marine thing.
3. Planning does no good as most plans go right out the window as you cruise. Weather changes and so does the date. Things break as you get ready to leave and so does the date. S__t happens and the date changes. Everything out here is written in either sand or jello. What you plan rarely happens.
4. Get as big a tank on board your boat as possible. Both water and fuel. I should have said diesel as no smart person uses gas on any kind of big boat. They go boom in the night. The bigger the tanks, the farther you can go and the fewer stops you have to make. Many modern boats come with a small 40 gallon tank. If you make 6 knots per gallon, your range is limited. We carry 215 gallons at 1 gallon for each 6.5 nautical mile. I can get to Hawaii from here on a full tank(and a prayer). The more water you have the better unless you have a spare $5,000 for a water maker. And then you have to hope they don't break down. Out here, bigger tanks are what separate the cruisers from the wantabees. They carry lots of jerry cans on their decks. We do, but only for the gas we need for the generator and outboard motor. We carry about 26 gallons plus 5 extra gallons of diesel incase I have to change out the fuel filters along the way.
5. Learn the language of where you are going. At least give it a try. The locals love to hear us struggling with their language. We've learned a lot of Spanish since we got here. A few more years and we might be able to speak it. Well, maybe not.
6. Don't overload your boat. People have to eat everywhere. It might not be your favorite food, but learn to eat what the locals eat and where they eat. It's cheaper and probably tastes better. Look for a local food vendor along the road or a small restaurant along the road. How crowded are they? If busy, it's got to be good. You can eat at these little food carts lots cheaper than in a fancy restaurant.
7. Take the time to learn your boat. Inside and out. A little knowledge is good but a lot is LOTS better. Take classes if you can on electrical(12 volt especially) as well as a GOOD diesel class. Not one that just shows you parts of your engine. One that shows you and allows you to take an engine apart so when something fails, you might have a better understanding of what it takes to fix it.
8. Take as many spare parts as you can for just about every system on board. We carry spare water pump, fresh water pumps, starters, alternators, fuel pumps(2), and lots more that I won't list here.
Be prepared for what is to come and it will be less of a surprise when(not if) it happens.