Cruising with Vida Dulce

28 November 2016 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
27 November 2016 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
24 November 2016 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
22 November 2016 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
08 November 2016 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
02 November 2016 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
01 November 2016 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
30 October 2016
19 June 2016
16 June 2016 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
15 June 2016 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
08 June 2016 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
04 June 2016
03 June 2016 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
02 June 2016 | Cabo Tres Puntas, Guatemala
30 May 2016 | Isla Mujeres, Mx
28 May 2016 | isla Mujeres, Mx
26 May 2016 | Isla Mujeres, Mx
22 May 2016 | Isla Mujeres, Mx

2016 Rio Dulce Exodus Has Begun

28 November 2016 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Susan / morning clouds dissipate to afternoon sun, 86 degrees F
With Otto now clear of the region, people are leaving the Rio Dulce in droves for their cruising season. Roatan / Bay Islands and Belize are the most popular first destinations of the people we know. With the boat work still to be to be done and other commitments in the States, we cannot even make a tentative departure plan. Yet that's what cruising is… make a plan in the sand and watch it wash away with the waves of timing, weather and circumstance.

Fridge On The Fritz

27 November 2016 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Susan / mostly cloudy, 83 degrees F
We’ve had two small - think dorm-size - refrigerators, one outside in the aft cockpit for beverages and one in the galley for food since we bought Vida Dulce. I love the separation of beverages from food as it keeps the food at a steady temp while everyone can get their own water, soda, beer, etc. at will. The inside fridge has been pretty reliable, just need to defrost it regularly to keep the veggies from freezing, or if we’re on passage, it defrosts itself because this is the worst possible time for fresh and pre-cooked food to perish, LOL. Likewise, the outside one has been reliable, just a power-hog as it never seems to cycle (turn off when at temperature) despite replacing the thermostat a year or two ago.

The (one) freezer has been more problematic. It has had a slow gas ((R-134a) leak for several years but so far Jerry has gotten it running, then kept it operational each year; that said we’ve not turned it on yet so are unsure of its current status.

So, we get back and buy the usual beer and water and food to stock the fridges. All is good for a couple of weeks. Then the outside fridge fails. We know this when our Noon beer is warm. We call the refrigeration guy, Chris, who’d helped us with that fridge and the freezer previously. He shows up a few days later. In the interim we’ve cleaned out the outside locker / cabinet, dismantled pretty much everything in there in order to unbolt that fridge from the deck to lift & slide it out of the cabinet. Massive cleanup, which was well and truly needed. Chris arrives and it’s a quick test or two to determine that it’s not lightening damage - the electronics test out fine - and after excluding other possible issues, while there is no clear gas leak, the addition of gas makes the fridge starts to work again. We put everything back together, transfer beverages back, make ice in the little freezer at the top and all is good.

Until a few more days go by. Once again all of the ice has melted and the beer is warm. Argh. A fridge that requires constant gas refills is not a working fridge. We decide to turn it off. For now we can get daily happy hour ice at the marina restaurant, and keep a minimum amount of beverages with the food - there really is not much room in the food fridge - until we come up with a more permanent cold beverages solution.

Whether to replace it or not largely depends on the freezer. If the freezer works, we may replace the fridge. If the freezer does not work, we will replace the freezer and do without a second fridge for this cruising season.

Until yesterday afternoon, Jerry has been focused on other projects. With a super quick trip back to the States for another reason later this week, Jerry carves out time to look at the freezer in case he needs to bring back parts. At first it does not look good. The temperature sensors are dead. This morning he checks the gas (R-134a) level and, not unexpectedly, the gauges read very low. He adds gas. We cross our fingers. He fiddles with his freezer monitor. It’s a several hour process yet slowly the freezer gets cold. Yea! At 2:30pm I put ice trays in. If we have ice cubes tomorrow, and it remains cold for days with a frosty frost-plate, we are likely freezer-enabled. However we are not going to get all excited and order a new external fridge. Waiting and watching the freezer for quite a while is the more prudent approach.

Winter / US Thanksgiving Party

24 November 2016 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Susan / rain, rain, rain 80 degrees F
Each year the owner of the marina hosts a Winter / US Thanksgiving Party at her house. Turkey, ham, salad, stuffing, mashed potatoes w/ gravy, and so on. Several of us also bring something to share. This year, we contribute pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting. I brought two cans of pumpkin and 1 box of powdered sugar in my luggage specifically for holiday meals as last year these items were impossible to find. I love love love pumpkin pie, cake, curry, ravioli, etc. Contributing the cake does several things: first, I get a slice of this yummy pumpkin goodness; second it gets the cake off of the boat so it’s only 1 slice; and last, the batter makes more than one cake so a few of our friends not at the marina get a small frosted loaf as well. The attendees are a mixture of US, Canadian and EU residents and there’s plenty of boat-project-talk so no politics-talk.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm / sometimes Hurricane OTTO is churning away way far south and very late for a hurricane season. I’m guessing our friends in Panama had several days of horrible weather as he churned just off Panama’s north coast before moving west toward the Costa Rico / Nicaragua border. For ex-pats living there, this Thanksgiving is certainly an unusual one. We just have steady rain, which is probably what we’d have if we were still in the Seattle area however it’s warmer here so we cannot complain.

Hope you all in the US had a politics & shopping-free Thanksgiving day filled with friends & family creating fond memories.

Up The Mast Day

22 November 2016 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Susan / mostly sunny, 84 degrees F
Yep, that's Jerry at the top of Vida Dulce's mast; it's a long way up there!

Scary story: A day after the GAM/McKim SSB antenna installation we were standing on the dock chatting with our friends Mike & Kim, s/v Ka'imi, and all looking at the new antenna installation when I noted an area of significant chaff in the topping lift line. We'd used that line to take Jerry up the mast twice and neither of us had noticed it. Upon closer inspection, the line was almost completely compromised. Wow, were we lucky that it hadn't failed with Jerry high in the air; we hadn’t used a safety line. The next day we purchased and installed new line. You can believe that we inspected both lines - main halyard & safety line topping lift - before he was hoisted up today.

Today's fun: we pull out the never-used TV antenna cable to gain some room, then install the new Garmin wind instrument wiring as we pull out the old Raymarine wiring. Same process with the new VHF antenna wire; this one turns out to barely makes the bottom-mast-exit-hole even though Jerry had purchased 65'. The mast height is suppose to be a bit over 71' from the water line, and the topsides are 10' above the water however that 65' cable barely - I mean barely - makes it out. He has comparable wire for the run from there to the salon helm station so it's not a disaster, just more work. In the second trip up the mast, Jerry installs the Shakespeare VHF antenna, new Garmin wind instrument and removes the TV dish.

Earlier in the week, Jerry installed the navigation instruments, and as far as we can tell at this point, all are working.

Step by step, progress is being made.

iCom M802 SSB Re-Installation

08 November 2016 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Susan / mostly cloudy, occasional rain, 85 degrees F
First major project: iCom M802 SSB radio re-installation. Well, not really an re-installation, more like a proper installation. Jerry discovered the original installation wiring is undersized - by quite a bit - for the distance between the battery bank and transceiver. Current wiring is 10-gage and it should 6-gage. We could move the location of the transceiver however while it will be hassle to rewire it, it’s an even larger one to move it, so we’ll rewire when we return with sufficient 6-gage for the run. Original installation was 23’ whip antenna at the starboard stern with a copper goundplate under the hull. We had difficulty hearing and being heard so a few years ago we changed the ground to a KISS installed under the master suite bed where the iCom SSB tuner is located. This gave us marginally better results. The new antenna is a GAM/McKim Split Lead Antenna mounted on the starboard main shroud, so much, much higher than the whip. The tuner is installed in a master suite storage cupboard located pretty much directly under this shroud and we reversed the installation of the KISS ground so that it is also inline. The last change will be to install the DSC antenna on the solar panel arch, but we need additional wire for this too. Not counting the wring still to be done, this project takes us 4 days.

Where To Start?

02 November 2016 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Susan / cloudy, periods of rain, 85 degrees F
Where to start? This is the $40,000 equipment replacement question. The answer becomes a practical one. It started to rain shortly after we arrived Monday night - a very strong thunderstorm passed overhead with lots of lightening around but hey, we’re not worried, all of our electronics are already fried and replacements are in our luggage or on the way - and it rained most of the day yesterday and all last night. Today’s forecast is a high of 85 degrees F with a 90% chance of rain. Humidity is 100% this morning so it's pretty likely today will also be wet. And this is pretty much what is expected through the weekend. We'll start on inside projects, or at least the inside portions of them, after unpacking and making a tienda run for food, beer, & rum.
Vessel Name: Vida Dulce
Vessel Make/Model: Lagoon 440
Hailing Port: Seattle, WA
Crew: Jerry and Susan Barber
About: Jerry and Susan moved aboard Vida Dulce in late October of 2010. We are currently in the Caribbean.
Vida Dulce's Photos - Main
9 Photos
Created 17 October 2016
20 Photos
Created 1 September 2015
North Coast, West section 2015; Havana to Baracoa Bus Trip 2016
100 Photos
Created 15 May 2015
38 Photos
Created 11 March 2015
50 Photos
Created 25 December 2014
The road trip included 7 States: WA, OR, ID, WY, CO, UT, MT
16 Photos
Created 3 August 2014
Hurricane Season 2014
1 Photo | 5 Sub-Albums
Created 14 June 2014
Pictures of our stay in Honduras 2014
1 Photo | 5 Sub-Albums
Created 4 January 2014
10 Photos
Created 18 October 2013
4 Photos
Created 20 September 2013
Our Dec 2012 - Feb 2013 visit
55 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 31 December 2012
Happy Holidays from Isla Providencia, Colombia
11 Photos
Created 31 December 2012
Photos of my on-board garden
16 Photos
Created 28 September 2012
4 Photos
Created 26 December 2011
Pictures of our time in Panama, Sept 2011 - Dec 2012
1 Photo | 5 Sub-Albums
Created 29 September 2011
Pictures of our visit to Columbia, May-Oct 2011
1 Photo | 5 Sub-Albums
Created 15 July 2011
Photos of our series drogue and May 2011 practice deployment and retrieval
24 Photos
Created 13 May 2011
Pictures from our brief visit to Bonaire, Curacao & Aruba in May 2011
35 Photos
Created 11 May 2011
Pictures of our short stay off Isla Pelona in May 2011
17 Photos
Created 11 May 2011
Pictures of our time in Grenada, April 2011
48 Photos
Created 23 April 2011
Pictures of our island stops in the Grenadines, April 2011
36 Photos
Created 4 April 2011
Photos of St Vincent, April 2011
11 Photos
Created 2 April 2011
Photos of St Lucia March 2011
46 Photos
Created 15 March 2011
68 Photos
Created 7 March 2011
Photos of Dominica 2011
3 Photos
Created 7 March 2011
Photos of Iles des Saintes, Feb 2011
12 Photos
Created 17 February 2011
Photos of Guadeloupe, Feb 2011
49 Photos
Created 13 February 2011
Photos of Barbuda, Jan 2011
15 Photos
Created 14 January 2011
20 Photos
Created 30 December 2010
2 Photos
Created 26 December 2010
Photos of Red Hook, St Thomas and Vida Dulce getting a new bank of batteries and the installation of her new custom made arch which will support 4 solar panels.
28 Photos
Created 9 November 2010
Haul out of Vida Dulce in November of 2010.
23 Photos
Created 9 November 2010
Lots of photos of various places not in other albums. Most are included directly in a blog entry.
27 Photos
Created 31 October 2010
15 Photos
Created 11 September 2010
A "Working" Trip with Jim to start outfitting the boat for cruising.
31 Photos
Created 10 September 2010
11 Photos
Created 5 April 2010
34 Photos
Created 5 April 2010