Cruising with Vida Dulce

10 October 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
08 October 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
07 October 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
06 October 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
05 October 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
04 October 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
03 October 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
02 October 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
01 October 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
29 September 2017 | Seattle, WA
30 May 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
25 May 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
24 May 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
23 May 2017 | West End Roatan, Honduras
17 May 2017 | West End Roatan, Honduras
16 May 2017 | West End Roatan, Honduras
11 May 2017 | West End Roatan, Honduras
08 May 2017 | West End Roatan, Honduras
03 May 2017 | West End Roatan, Honduras

Dinghy / Lanchita & Outboards

10 October 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Susan / afternoon & evening thunderstorms, 94 degrees F
One of the cruiser associations is organizing an Antigua / Lake Atitlan / Santiago Sacatepequez's Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Kite Festival excursion. Before we depart Guatemala for good this season I really wanted to see this annual kite festival, and to return to Lake Atitlan to visit the Asociation de Mujeres en Colres Botantio, where these well-respected Guatemalan female traditional weavers grow the plants they use to color the yarn. I purchased a beautiful blue silk shawl from them a couple of years ago and have been kicking myself for not purchasing many more in other colors. As soon as we learned about this trip, we signed up. Q3,000 (US $417) per couple covers transportation, 4 nights lodging, tours. Food, beverages and everything else is on our own. If all goes well, our important "depart the Rio" projects will be completed by the time we go, and we can relax and enjoy what is likely our last interior-Guatemala trip.

The outboard repair guys did their magic. With the parts we brought down and their expertise, the Tohatsu outboard now works great again. Q1,300 (US $180.55 ) is the labor cost. Time to sell it! We've decided to not purchase another center console style dinghy, so it will not be useful to us once we replace our dinghy. Jerry puts feelers out with several locals and the morning cruiser's net; it's a perfect lancha w/ console motor. To get the dinghy back to Vida Dulce from the workshop, Jerry tows it with Solita (we have just one gas tank and hose setup).

The dinghy itself is nearly garbage bin material at this point, water streams in through the hull breach faster than the bilge pump can pump it out. Jerry has been asking around for recommended local lancha / lanchita (little lancha) makers, and has spoken to a few over the past several days. One has built lanchitas for other catamaran cruisers, so yesterday we go look at one, and talk with its owner. Peter, a German National on a 47' Leopard catamaran, purchased his 3 years ago and has been largely happy with it. Even at 11'2" it's fairly light and a 15hp outboard zips it along in good sea conditions. He's used it for diving / snorkeling. Yes, it is a little tippy compared to a standard dinghy, he said; he wished it was 6" wider, then it would be about perfect. He also needed to fashion a false floor to keep feet & supplies out of the deep V hull however he no longer deals with inflatable tube issues so it's been a positive change for him. We compare the price quoted to Jerry for a new lanchita with what Peter paid, and it's a reasonable increase. At Q7,000 (US $972, or if paying in US $1,000) it is much less expensive than the new dinghies (all inflatables) available here at US $4,500 plus. The cost of a new outboard is the same regardless (Q19,500 / US $2,786). After much thought, conversations about the pros & cons of our options, we decide to go forward with the lanchita. Jerry talks with the builder and yes he can make one for us that's bit wider. Total weight of the hull will be around 150 lbs, he knows we'll lift it on davits. That seals the deal. Tomorrow we'll put a 50% deposit on a new lanchita so that it'll get built within the next couple of weeks, and purchase the new Yamaha 2-stroke 15 hp outboard. If by chance we end up hating our new setup, it'll at least get us to Panama where there's a wide selection of dinghy brands and models available.

Last, a freezer update: By yesterday's happy hour the freezer produced ice cubes, the first step in making us happy with it.

Laundry Day

08 October 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Susan / sunny & hot 94 degrees F (feels like 105!)
Today we get a respite from the thunderstorms, so it’s laundry day. Bright blue skies, 94 degrees F (real feel 105!), slightly lower humidity and only a light breeze gets washed laundry dry within a couple of hours. The positive side of a very hot cloudless day.

Errands & Dinghy Shopping

07 October 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Susan / partly cloudy, 93 degrees F
Lots of errands to run in Solita this morning: drop-off half of the current solar panel support structure to Cesar’s workshop, fill two propane tanks, buy drinking water and groceries, and shop for a dinghy available locally. One cruiser has a new one for sale - too small for them - but it’s too small for us plus it’s a poor performing brand. Mar Marine builds & sells fiberglass mini-lanchas but the only two they have currently are 11’ long and very heavy; good for the Rio, not so good for our regular dinghy use outside the Rio. Actually there are fleets of fiberglass lanchas here, some smaller than the ones at Mar, most larger, so there must be other builders in the area. That said, they’re likely purpose built for Rio-running so may be too heavy like Mar’s offerings. West Marine @ Ram Marina has a couple of their models here, with a posted price way more expensive than online pricing likely to recoup shipping costs. We could buy a dinghy (any preferred brand & model) online and pay for shipping it here however shipping is expensive and has its own host of potential issues. The way forward is not yet clear.

Speaking of issues with shipping things in….. the new freezer is not working as it should, 12V DC or 120AC when on shore power. We plugged it in (120 AC shore power) yesterday afternoon and the compressor started however the fan didn’t and somewhere along the way it quit because the ice trays we put in last evening were barely cool this afternoon. Defiantly not ice cubes. sh**! And it’s not like we can just drive over to Fisheries (Seattle) to get a warranty replacment. Just for grins, Jerry wires it into 12V DC and compressor and fan now works. 12V DC works, switch to 120AC and it quits. There is a DC-only model available however that is not the model we ordered and paid for. Jerry will need to call Fisheries Monday to sort things out. Finger’s crossed we have ice cubes tomorrow.

Out With The Old, In With The New, Part 1

06 October 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Susan / mostly cloudy, 87 degrees F (feels like 100!)
The aft cockpit is full of yesterday's cargo ship deliveries. Four Kyocera 265s to replace the Kyocera 135s, and Isotherm Cruise 90 freezer to replace the original one, which failed last season. The solar panels have some of the mounting hardware installed ready for Cesar to finalize the arch support design, which he does with Jerry in the late afternoon. Meanwhile we run the new wiring through the arch to the port engine area where the 2nd Blue Sky solar charge controller will be installed - the original Blue Sky controller will manage 2 panels, this second one will control the other 2 panels - and do an initial installation of the freezer after the marina guys remove the old one. Before we know it, it's time for showers and Friday happy hour.

Some of Our Cargo Shipment Arrives

05 October 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Susan / thunderstorms, 83 degrees F
The backplate of the fridge is frosting this morning which is a good sign. Mid-morning we use Solita to tow our dinghy over to the outboard repair tienda then onward to town for a few groceries for today & tomorrow.

If the outboard is functional when we get it back we'll have an operational dinghy, but just barely. The dinghy itself is literally falling apart; transom has major cracks, the tubes hold air for half a day, the handles are falling off, the tube cover is ripped in several places.... she is not likely to last a cruising season. So we have two choices: purchase a dinghy similar with a console and continue to use the outboard for as long as it'll last (probably not much longer either) or sell the outboard and purchase a more standard dinghy and a new outboard. If we go the latter route we'd purchase a 2-stroke 15hp Yamaha, the ubiquitous dinghy outboard. We actually started with a standard setup while Vida Dulce was in charter, but after a few vacations on her we decided to upgrade to a dinghy that was more comfortable, like a mini-car, for our full-time cruising life. Over the years this decision has had positives and challenges; challenges primarily due to the Walker Bay design combined with the too heavy outboard we were sold as a package deal at a boat show. Live and learn. The things I like best about our current setup is the false floor which keeps everything dry, electric start, comfortable seating, ample under seat storage (gas tank, battery, anchor, life vest, binoculars, toolkit, and more), running lights for night time use, and that it's not tippy like many others. Some of those things, if not most, would go away with a standard setup however a lighter, more reliable dinghy & outboard setup may win the decision.

The afternoon has us super busy. Chris came back by to purchase the solar panels we just took off of the arch. He offered a reasonable amount for all 4. Good for us (getting them off Vida Dulce), good for him (he has one buyer lined up for 2 of them and will get a bit of commission) and good for the buyer(s) (excellent panels at a good price). Literally minutes later we learn our new solar panels have arrived in Frontaras. It takes 2 trips in Solita to get all 4 to Vida Dulce. Also delivered to Rita's is the freezer however not the outside wet bar beverage fridge. It got stuck in customs for some reason. Getting the freezer is its own town trip. Moving these heavy items from Rita's office to the lancha, getting them in the lancha while it's moving around with the swell, getting them back out and then onboard Vida Dulce is a lot of work! By day's end, shoulders and backs are sore.

Progress On a Few Fronts

04 October 2017 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Susan / hot, humid, afternoon thunderstorms, 90 degrees F
Chris, the refrigeration expert on the Rio, stops by as agreed this afternoon to check out our inside (food) fridge, which started up when we arrived late afternoon Saturday, never got sufficiently cold on Sunday, then quit sometime Monday night after we’d done a bit of grocery shopping earlier in the day. The good news is that we hadn’t bought food much since it was a walk to and from town rather than what would have been a full-on shopping trip had we’d had an operational dinghy. The result of Chris’ investigation it that the electronic control module isn’t operational (compressor has power, thermostat tests fine; those darn “brain” parts just do not like lightening!). He replaces the fridge one with the freezer one (same compressor) but then the fan doesn’t work. Jerry has a spare fan, so that gets installed. Then just a bit of refrigerant (gas) is applied (still a good amount in the system). Result: compressor now running, fan’s running, fridge is starting to cool. If all goes well, it’ll be a reasonably working fridge in several hours.

While we wait for Chris (he’s one of the busiest business people here), we remove the current 4 solar panels from the arch and support structure so that Cesar, the local stainless steel expert on the Rio, can finalize the replacement solar panel support structure design, etc. with Jerry. We’ve already shipped most of the needed stainless steel to him from the States because good quality stainless is impossible to purchase here. We brought the remainder of the required pieces to install the new solar panels as checked luggage. We also remove the outside wet bar beverage fridge making room for the new one that should arrive in the Rio late this week, along with the (inside) freezer, solar panels and whatever else Jerry purchased for ocean shipping. In addition while I get some cleaning done, Jerry drops the bottom-end of our outboard motor into Solita and takes it to the outboard repair tienda that worked on it last season. We are of course hoping the parts we brought down are the ones needed to repair / rebuild it.

By the time all of this is accomplished, it’s nearly 4:30pm. We have only a little bit of fresh veggie onboard which somehow survived the fridge outage, and between it being mid-week when offerings in town are usually meager, the time of day and our flagging energy levels, we opt for another marina dinner. If the fridge is working solidly tomorrow, I’ll either walk into town in the morning or have Jerry drive me in Solita in the afternoon to find what can be found on a Thursday.
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
17 Photos
Created 2 September 2017
4 Photos
Created 15 December 2016
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