Bookmark and Share
R/V Tender Spirit: Now Land Cruising
Join us as we discover new cruising grounds with our "boat" the RV Tender Spirit. Swallowing the Anchor doesn't mean giving up cruising!
Dance Performance
02/15/2008, Mazatlan

Photo #2 of the dance show.

2008 & 2009 Mexico Adventure
02/14/2008, Mazatlan

These are photos that I took of the orphanage dance show that they put on for Mazatlan cruisers. The kids were amazing!

2008 & 2009 Mexico Adventure
02/10/2008, Mazatlan

We went to the annual bullfight. What a cultural experience! I have a number of photos of the fighters. This style is done almost completely by horseback, with gaited horses. The horsemanship was impressive. It made dressage look rather basic!

2008 & 2009 Mexico Adventure
02/10/2008, Mazatlan


2008 & 2009 Mexico Adventure
02/08/2008, Mazatlan

Many cruisers define cruising as doing boatwork in exotic locations. I tend to think of cruising as a balance between traveling and staying put. We were ready for a break from steady voyaging to rest and prepare the boat and us for the next major destination. We really needed time reconsider what our spring plans will be for a number of reasons. We have been researching our options based on some of the following parameters.Paramount is of course safety at sea, and at our chosen landfall. We also had to consider other factors such as entrance requirements of the host country, hurricane/cyclone seasons, locations of possible places for repairs/maintenance, parts acquisition, mail, and of course finances. Everything is a balancing act. The more possibilities creates more hard choices. We've considered 4 main possibilities.

1. Stay in Mexico, travel into the Sea of Cortez, and risk hurricane season (June-October) in Mazatlan. Then sail south the following year.
2. Travel south along the Mexican coast down into Guatemala and on to Panama, Costa Rica, and Ecuador for the next year. Then the following March on to the Galapagos, Easter Island, Pitcarin, then Polynesia.
3. Travel to Hawaii at the end of March, then back to Sitka in May ending the voyage either temporarily to restock the cruising kitty or permanently.
4. Travel to the Marquesas at the end of March, voyage westward with plans to attend the Pacific Arts Festival in American Samoa, and then spend cyclone season in New Zealand.

The final decision will ultimately be made in March. In the meanwhile we are preparing the boat to be ready to go to sea. I will be bringing the new jib back around the 1st of March along with charts for the Pacific Islands from the Marquesas across to Fiji along with charts for New Zealand. I also ordered South Pacific courtesy flags and a wind generator. We already have Hawaiian charts, and charts south to Panama. I am sure you can see where we are leaning towards......We'll keep you posted.

Staying put in Mazatlan was a great idea besides our engine project. By the way, the engine is in the boat and running beautifully. It's never sounded so good! We continue to be incredibly impressed with Total Yacht Works for their outstanding work. They bring mechanical services to a whole new Level. When Bob Buchanan and Rafael Serrano said they'd pull the engine out between 9:30 and 10:00, I figured we would have time to have coffee and hang out with some fellow cruisers. We arrived back at the boat at 9:00, and the mechanics were already there getting started! The same thing when the engine went back into the boat. When something was needed, they radioed the request, and another person brought it down to the boat so work was not interrupted. Bob promised that the work would be completed by the middle of January. They finished right on schedule. He also gave us an estimate for how much it would cost. The final bill....well, exactly what he estimated. All of the other cruisers I've talked with have had similar experiences with this organization. I can't recommend them highly enough! If you ever are in need of a new engine or have engine woes, this is definitely the place to go.

We did join in the Carnival festivities. This is the first time we've ever been to a Mardi Gras. Mazatlan is the 2nd largest in the world. We went to the parade. It was 5 miles long and lasted over two hours. The floats were beautiful! I have never seen so many people at one time. It was truly a sea of humanity for a couple miles in each direction along the parade route. We also went to the traditional Carnival bullfight that featured world famous, and considered the best rejoneador, Hermoso de Mendoza and Gaston Santos. This traditional method (only done in Mexico and Portugal) is performed almost exclusively on horseback. The horsemanship is incredible. The horses are gaited and so well trained, it made dressage look like clumsy beginners. There was another group of men called forcados. They enticed the bull to charge, and then one of them jumped up on the bull's head! Talk about fearless!!! Getting to see this event was truly a glimpse at a part of Mexico's tradition and culture dating back through to the age when the first Europeans arrived. I choose to understand, not judge our host country's culture or traditions. So if you are wondering about where I stand morally in terms of the bull, you will never know.

We moved to another marina about � mile from Marina Mazatlan. We are now staying at Marina El Cid. For about the same price, we now have access to the resort's facilities that includes pools, hot tub, sandy beach, and fast internet! So, I have a new routine that includes daily doses of swimming and periodic walks on the beach. Oh, one pool has stools at the water level so one doesn't have to leave the water to have a meal or a drink. Talk about luxury living! It's a tough life, but someone has to do it! I usually try to get boat work done before it gets hot, then cool off in the pool. Right now I'm catching up on the wood work. The sun is not to be trifled with here. I work in long white cotton pants, a white, long sleeved cotton "jacket" and hood to avoid getting sunburned....even with SP45 sun screen. I have discovered that dark colors are definitely not a good idea down here. I'm ditching all the black tees for white. It makes a huge difference!! This warm country is great as long as I don't have to do a lot of physical labor like, well, most boat work. It can get uncomfy in a hurry! But, it sure beats rain and snow!!!

2008 & 2009 Mexico Adventure
02/17/2008 | Trish and Bob
Hi Joan
Not sure if you'll get this on time, we met you in Mega the other day . . . remember us? We are planning to be up in the Golden Zone on Monday (18th of Feb) and would love to get together for a drink and to exchange stories. Will drop in to the marina and see if you are home. Trish
02/20/2008 | Carolyn
Hi Joan and Chuck!

I am so glad that you finally got to see a real Mardi Gras!
Sorry I've missed your calls. I've been really busy, but work is finally settling down some. Have fun and be safe! Carolyn
03/13/2008 | Jon and Catherine Dean
Looks like you guys are having alot of fun. kate and I are in San Diego . Looks like we missed you . Drop a hello if you get the chance. Your friends jon and kate
Major Discovery: Limes and Spicy Chips!
01/11/2008, Mazatlan

It is true, I've developed an addiction to limes and spicy Mexican chips. I am trying to quit with the spicy chips as it's quickly showing around the waistline. I am sure I can quit any time, but first, let me dash up to the store for just one more bag....maybe tomorrow! The limes are another story. They will be permanently placed on the grocery list. I believe that the Mexicans grow the best limes I've ever tasted. I have been discovering all kinds of ways to incorporate them in about everything I eat. Naturally, squeezed on spicy chips or in avocado dip is a definite favorite! But they also go well squeezed on salads, or on other fruits such as papayas, mangos and pineapples. I think they go well with everything and if all fails, the traditional ways would include lime pie and margaritas. If I keep this up, I'll be thinking about a new title: Bubba Gump's Lime Company!!!.....and everyone said I would loose weight on this adventure ..the diet will commence as soon as the next bag of chips with a twist of lime is indulged in..... or the bag after that........really, I can quit any time.....just like I quit sailing.

The engine looks beautiful. I visited it the other day. It's sporting a new paint job and looks brand new. It will go back into the boat next week. I am so impressed with the Yanmar shop! Soon our engine issues will be just another past tense adventure. Oh, we were able to contact the guy that did the dripless installation. He is mortified! He is hoping that his insurance will totally reimburse us. If that happen, we will be elated!

We have been busy making plans for spring. We've decided to stick around Mazatlan until March. We ordered the new jib from Carol Hasse in Port Townsend. She did an amazing job on the main, so in spite of knowing there are cheaper sails out there, we decided to go with something we know will work great for our voyaging needs. This decision is also based on the fact that we decided to voyage down to the South Pacific in March. With a 2700+ mile off shore trip, we definitely don't want any surprises or regrets. I will be heading north at the end of February for a week to retrieve the sail and pick up other "must have" items before we leave Mexico.

Don't worry, it's not all work and no play around here. We enjoy taking off on the buses and exploring this large city. It's amazing because each trip turns into quite an adventure. I have also discovered a great place to go horseback riding. Ginger's Horses is about the best trail riding rental I've had the pleasure of going to. The horses are gentle, well trained and cared for. The guides are friendly and obviously enjoy what they do. It's definitely a first class operation! I hope to sneak away from boat work once a week or so to satisfy this previous passion.

2008 & 2009 Mexico Adventure
01/12/2008 | John Gratton, SV NAKIA
Hi Joan, I need to get in touch with you about your old motor. Please email me at
01/17/2008 | Betty
Chuck & Joan!
It's great to hear from you and see that you are well and having the time of your lives! Wow! I loved looking at your photo gallery, Joan - you are so talented! The creative listing of the various ways that you have come up with using limes was delightful. Loved the picture of you on the horse! ¡Viajes seguros! Betty
01/27/2008 | MIKE O
chuck/joan-- 1/27/08 cold here,about 10 degrees wind blowing hard wish i was there let me know if you get this ALL THE BEST TO YOU GUYS. MIKE O.
02/08/2008 | Amanda Lynch
Greetings from 40 below zero! a.k.a Fairbanks, AK...

So, I'm reading something about a 2700 mile off shore trip. How exciting! For you that is... For me, that means I owe Chuck a buck. Somehow I think that deal became void at some point during the 6 years since we left Wrangell...especially since I remember no such bet. But, considering a sail boat is a hole in the sea where your money goes, you might need that extra dollar in the near future.

Both my mother and I would love to hear from you when you get the chance. She's a little less computer savvy than I am, so you can write to

Hope to hear from you soon. Best of luck!
Angie, Nathan, & Amanda Lynch (because you know my dad is there sailing with you!)
Happy New Year!
01/01/2008, Mazatlan

We are settling into the Marina Mazatlan lifestyle. We still get up early, but putter around until 8 to listen to the morning net. Then we amble on up to the Calypso. It's a little spot that serves up the beverage of your choice from coffee to cocktail. They also have a variety of pastries to choose from. For about 40 pesos (about $4) we can both have coffee and a sweet roll. We'll hang out under the umbrellas visiting with other cruisers or check email with their wireless. On occasion I will use their wireless in the afternoon over a sandwich. You have your choice of turkey or turkey, but it's tasty and gives me access to the internet. Of course our day isn't all coffee and visiting. We've been busy working on the boat and making excursions into town.

The engine is now safely in the shop, after quite the adventures in diplomacy. Just as the mechanics were wheeling our engine up the ramp, the harbor master decided that engines weren't allowed on the ramps any more. He was concerned that the ramp would break. So, we set up an appointment with the harbor office lady who graciously offered to translate for us. The harbor master was worried the weight of the engine would break the ramp. Chuck assured him that the engine weighed less than the portable pump-out equipment that rolled up and down the ramp daily. The harbor master asked him if we were willing to replace the ramp if it broke. Chuck naturally said no problem. Now, you see, Chuck is a retired foreman for all the bridges and buildings of the Alaska Railroad. One of the other cruisers we hang with is a retired bridge engineer consultant as well. So arrangements were made. The ramp was mutually inspected by Chuck and the harbor master before and after the engine was effortlessly taken up the ramp by the two mechanics (who have carefully managed this procedure on this ramp over the last several years). All went uneventfully, however we are prohibited from bringing the engine back. We will have to be towed over to a marina nearby for the engine installation. The good news is that the moorage is cheaper, has stronger wireless connection, and access to a pool and hot tub!!! So we won't suffer!

While the engine is gone, I scrubbed out the engine room and bilge. It's never been cleaner!! I thought about painting it, but getting the paint I need is about impossible. Another cruiser will sell me 6 quarts along with the thinner .enough to do the entire boat for $400. Too much paint and expense for just the engine room. Or should I say box. It's an area just large enough for a Labrador size dog to barely stand up in if he's got his feet down in the bilge!

We also have been solving another problem. We are good solid carnivorous people with a fondness for an occasional hunk of red meat. The occasional part has become a rather scarce part. We haven't any problem finding meat, but what we've been able to find has been tasty, but very tough. We've come to the conclusion that we needed to either invest in a chain saw or a pressure cooker. The pressure cooker won .doesn't take as much space.:) It took awhile to translate the directions, but it works great .tender meat. Just the other day we heard rumors of a meat shop that had tender steaks. Well, we went hunting for this place, and it was a hunt. It was a shop located in a very out of the way location. Even the people around there had never heard of it. We eventually found it. It was tiny with a few empty shelves, a chest freezer, and a white board with meat cuts and prices. It was our anniversary so we decided to test the place out and bought 4 nice filet mignon steaks. They totaled about $8! They also turned out tasty and tender! We have since returned showing other cruisers the way.

Well, Happy New Year. May this year bring out the best in all of us .oh, and lower fuel prices!

2008 & 2009 Mexico Adventure
01/02/2008 | Mike Greene
Nothing like the family being the last ones to check out your blog! Looks great, when you said you saw brown boobies I was thinking of something completely different. Happy New Year!
01/18/2008 | Dinah Martin
Have been enjoying the updates. Like to share with family. Love the updates. Happy New Year
Trouble in Paradise!!
12/14/2007, Mazatlan

Well, well, well, it was bound to happen. All this adventure, excitement, bliss, and no road bumps. Road bumps usually make the best stories so we were bound to find a few. How could a person experience all the joys of cruising without experiencing an occasional challenge?
We've been trouble-shooting a few engine problems since we left Port Townsend and haven't had much success at figuring out why the engine was becoming increasingly sluggish on start-up. We replaced the starting battery because it seemed intermittent and explored electrical options. By the time we anchored at Cabo San Lucas, we added transmission oil leak, white smoke, and overheating to the list. We debated for several days where to sail to knowing that we needed to sit for awhile at a dock and really focus on curing our poor, previously dependable engine!
Cabo San Lucas is a great place if your idea of a vacation resembles that of a college undergrads view of spring break in the tropics. We wound up anchored right across from the "Mango Deck". The music and festivities began at sunrise and concluded sometime in the wee hours of the night. This did hasten our decision making and consequent departure. After debating between the ease of getting parts out of La Paz (Baha Express by Downwind Marine in San Diego...highly recommended) or Mazatlan where we wanted to spend Christmas with our Alaskan friends. Although we thought La Paz would be the best choice, we opted for Mazatlan because of the ease of sailing across the Sea of Cortez, availability of a safe/secure marina, and of course the knowledge that we would probably stay put for awhile. This would enable us inland sight-seeing options.
We ran the engine only briefly to get out of the harbor, and we committed to sailing the entire 200 miles without engine assistance. This was a challenge since the weather prediction was light 0-5 variable winds.....meaning we would be going very slowly! The weather was as predicted. The first night we had 0knots of wind so we drifted around for 10 hours. We did manage to get 5 miles closer. Every mile gained is a good thing!! By six in the morning the wind began to blow and shifted. We sailed close hauled in 15-25 knots all the way to Mazatlan! We arrived the following evening. The engine even started and we motored into the harbor. It was sure running rough and to add new symptoms, the rpms would suddenly increase, white smoke poured out of the poor thing. We sure were happy to be tied up.
The cruisers here are extremely helpful and informative. Everyone said that we were extremely lucky to be here because of the Yanmar dealer and the excellent mechanics!!! Talk about dumb, blind luck!!! We took two days off to catch our breath, and get organized, then called in the pros to help cure our ailing Yanmar.
We hadn't looked in the engine room, and didn't want to disturb anything so that the mechanic could best do his trouble-shooting. When the mechanic got here, we discovered that the bilge was slowly filling with water and water was coming out of our air intake! The engine was filled with salt water. The mechanic right away found the problem. While we were in Port Townsend, we had a drippless stuffing box installed. Unfortunately, he didn't install it correctly. He plumbed it to our exhaust. This is done only if the vessel goes more than 12 knots.....never on our Hans Christain (well.....except for that time going through Dodd Narrows....I don't think that counts though!!!). The mechanics pulled two of the three is seized. Water just shot out of our poor engine!!! We all were truly amazed that we actually were able to keep the engine going since August!!! We all agreed that the only reason it still ran was because we were using it a lot and helped keep the water out. The mechanics were amazed that once the water was out that it started right up!!! Well to make a sad story short we are faced with re-powering. Again, we are lucky because another boat with a transmission failure, but with a newly rebuilt engine....exact engine as ours was pulled from another boat. The options are:
1) a new engine...which means I have to find work for the remainder of the school year and leave the boat in Mexico next school year
2) buy the other engine (which comes with lots of spares) combine the two engines (and all yes, a bunch of the spares I bought in CA....knew they would come in handy!!!!) and we will be back in business in February, with a new rebuilt engine.
So, it looks like we will have a rebuilt engine soon! In the meanwhile, with the engine is out of the boat, the engine room will get a new paint job!:) We will enjoy Mazatlan, and also catch up on other boat chores. We feel so lucky that we wound up in Mazatlan! God does work in the most Mysterious of ways!!!!!

PS: Thanks for all the comments!:)

2008 & 2009 Mexico Adventure
12/20/2007 | Bob Van Blaricom
Hi Chuck and Joan, I have been hearing of your whereabouts from various people including Emmy and Eric on Nataraja. I'm sorry to hear about the bad luck with the engine. I have a friend with a 42' boat which had the exact same problem with the water connection to his new dripless bearing. In his case it happened a couple of weeks before shoving off on circumnavigation to a brand new engine. I is too bad you had a southerly in Drakes Bay. You were smart to bail out because the holding is not the best there (eelgrass) and the protection is poor. I wish you had come into the Bay as I had been hoping to see you. Good luck on your continuing voyage.
12/26/2007 | Rob...
And OH, OH, OH to you and Chuck (Santa walking backwards)!

Happy holidays from the New Thomsen crowd - they all say hello. Tim says you should be running into 'Jacque' sometime soon - a local fixture at the marina. Some slushy snow this am and alot of swell action the last nights. Lots of busted bowlines around the harbor. Scrubbing sounds good, when does the used engine go in? Looking forward to new pics on the blog! ps. email reply didn't work :(


12/29/2007 | Juli
I finally made it to your blog! It has been fantastic to get your phone calls! Did the work begin on the engine? Well, you certainly aren't missing much in the way of "warm" weather up north - it has been hovering around -6F most of today and is supposed to drop tonight. Now is when I could REALLY use a ticket to come help you recover from the sorrows of a broken down engine. Alas, AK air wants way too much. But, if you are missing the cold come join the pipe band on new year's at the pump house! ;) We will certainly have a great time! No? Well, take a walk in the sun for me! Talk to you guys later!
12/30/2007 | Lachlan
Hey!, how is the engine work going? Just thought I'd say hi.
01/01/2008 | Lee Watne
Thanks for the call Chuck. Happy New Year.

By cincidence I just finished the Patrick O'Brian Aubry/Maturin novel series, and here you are living it.
01/13/2008 | Roy Martin
Hi Guys,
this is my first Blog experience, so here goes..
Hope you are enjoying the WX. Anchorage about 0 today and 1 ft of snow.
But someone has to do it. Good sailing
Pete& Pam

Newer ]  |  [ Older ]


Adventures of Tender Spirit
Who: Joan & Chuck
Port: Sitka, Alaska
View Complete Profile »
SSCA Members • 
SailBlogs Friends
 Brick House  Zen Carinthia Afrita Kena Julia Max Nine of Cups Zephyra Love Song Prrrfection  Hello World 
THANK YOU to all the people who have helped us along our way. We would not have made it this far without you! Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. ********************** ********************** web site hit counter ************************** ************************** MOON PHASE FOR THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE