Due West Adventures

The sailing adventures of Captain Kirk & Heidi, Tosh and Tikka Hackler . . .

15 December 2019 | Puerto Vallarta\
03 October 2019 | Puerto Vallarta
10 August 2019 | Puerto Vallarta
27 June 2019 | Puerto Vallarta
22 May 2019 | Cienfuegos, Trinidad, y Viñales, Cuba
16 May 2019 | Canarreos Archipelago, Cuba
25 April 2019 | Havana, Cuba
17 March 2019 | Puerto Vallarta
25 December 2018 | Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico
26 August 2018 | Puerto Vallarta MX, ABQ, NM, and SEA, WA
01 May 2018 | Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico
24 December 2017 | Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco Mexico
02 November 2017 | Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
11 October 2017 | Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
16 September 2017 | Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
29 June 2017 | Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, MX
26 May 2017 | Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, MX
07 April 2017 | Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, MX

Nose to the Grindstone

15 December 2019 | Puerto Vallarta\
Heidi & Kirk Hackler
Kirk, nose to the grindstone on another project that just cropped up when we least expected it... rebuilding the engine fuel lift pump. It's always something... it's a boat!

Happy December!

We moved back aboard Due West on Thanksgiving day, and are grateful to be back home from our condo-sitting gig during hurricane season. Tosh and Tikka were super happy to be home as well, and got right back into the swing of boat life faster than we did!

Tikka chilaxin', so happy to be home on her boat!

Although Kirk spent all of hurricane season working on boat projects, it's a boat and if you have one you'll relate! As soon as one thing is fixed something else invariably breaks. Like our head (toilet!) that decided to crap out the day after we moved back aboard. The good news: we had a head rebuild kit, so it "should" just be a few hours to replace parts. The bad news: the replacement part was milled defective and wouldn't fit!?! The good news: cruising friends Jill & Brent on s/v Cayuse were flying down the next day and could bring a new warranty replacement part! THANKS, Jill & Brent, and Raritan too!

Heidi installing kitty-netting to keep the furbies, Tosh & TIkka, aboard.

And this is how the past two weeks have gone, over and over again... we couldn't make this stuff up, the number of things that have gone oddly wrong at the most inopportune time is laughable... if we weren't trying to get away from the dock and sail to Barra de Navidad by Christmas!

Tosh napping by Santa to ensure he doesn't miss out on any presents that might be for him!

All this to say we're way behind in a good, long blog post catching you up on the past 2 months. And we'll get it posted as soon as we can untie our lines and sail away.

In the meantime, the biggest news around here is that Heidi's new book Food, Mood, & Gratitude Journal is now available on Amazon! She originally created it as a PDF tool to help her health coaching clients track their diet and lifestyle habits to improve their overall health. It was met with such wild success by her clients they asked her to make it available to everyone, so they could share with their friends and families too. So Heidi scrambled to get it to Amazon for the holiday season. BIG THANKS to Boni at Ingenium Books for all of the encouragement and for publishing the book! She has sold over 100 copies in the past week, so we hope you'll check it out for yourself or others, it makes for a great holiday gift! :-) BIG THANKS if you've already bought your copy or shared the link too!

Happy Holiday Season and stay tuned for another blog post coming soon...

Captain Kirk, Heidi, Tosh & Tikka
Vessel Name: Due West
Vessel Make/Model: Passport 40
Hailing Port: Seattle, WA
Crew: Captain Kirk & Heidi Hackler + Tosh & Tikka
Captain Kirk and First-Mate/Navi-Girl Heidi untied the dock-lines in Seattle in August 2015 and set sail for Mexico with our two-kitty crew Tosh & Tikka. We've been in Mexico since then.  
Kirk grew up sailing in Seattle and has been boating his whole life. [...]
Extra: See pix of our boat here: Due West Interior Photos and in the Photo Gallery.
Home Page: http://svduewest.com
Due West's Photos - Sailing Cuba Part 2: A Normal Amount of Fun!
Photos 1 to 41 of 41 | Main
Sailing Cuba!
Cuba sailing crew: Kirk, Heidi, Val, Kelly, Capitana Teresa, Gustavo (taxi driver), and Rob.
Our replacement Catamaran <em>Carlos</em> has seen better days, but he (?? aren
The charter base tienda had LOTS of bottled water, lots of boxed fruit juices (with lots of sugar added), and about 7 different kinds of Cuban rum (“What’s the normal amount of rum for 6 people for 6 days? Let’s get one of each bottle and sample them!”) This photo shows literally half the small provisioning store. Oh, and the result of the Rum taste-testing? Havana Club 7 is by far our fav! Luckily we can get it in Mexico, though it costs 3x as much as in Cuba! The US is SOL on Cuban Rums...
Kelly chats with José the “produce guy” about procuring our fresh fruits and veggies. José showed us a laminated card with photos of all the types of produce he could potentially get us, coaching it with “not everything available.”
Grateful for the produce that José was able to find for us!
Though photos weren
Our cruising route from Cienfuegos to the Canarreos Archipelago, 70-miles offshore. These remote and mostly uninhabited, flat coral atolls with mangroves are very reminiscent of the Florida Keys
Overnight Oatmeal was a quick, nutritious breakfast for our early morning passages.
Kat & Willie, this one
Val enjoying the "Blue-Jello" water as Kelly coined it. Kelly had never been ocean sailing before and couldn
Sailing in Cuba is all Thumbs UP... This photo was taken just before our wayward hitchhiker flew into the cockpit!
A close-up of the helm seat - we thought you fellow boaters would appreciate this jerry-rigging. Somehow the seat must have broken, and they
While Heidi was driving she noticed a large bird flying straight for the boat on the port side. She actually ducked, then realized it would have likely hit the main sail, so it must have dodged behind us? Suddenly it flew into the cockpit and landed right next to Kelly, both looking very shocked… but apparently that was just it’s natural look! It didn’t stay long enough for anyone to grab their camera (found this photo on the internet ©SandyScott, FL.) It
This is not us... as the photo was taken from our boat. But we were very close to the powdered sugar white sand beach on Cayo Largo... Somehow we never managed to step foot on a single beach in Cuba? Don
Val, Teresa, Kirk
Marina Cayo Largo and the tiny-town there is tucked back in the mangroves of this coral atoll island in the Canarreos Archipelago. As Nigel Calder said in his Cuba Cruising guidebook, "There
Baby mangroves sprouting up to form a new island. Can you see the heron fishing among them?
Heidi and Rob holding tight to the tow line, thankful for the lift from m/v Safari after our dinghy ran out of fuel in the channel into Marina Cayo Largo!
Taberna El Pirata, on Cayo Largo, serving a side of flies with lunch, and a side of mosquitos with dinner, and really mediocre food. But it
After the long dinghy ride debacle, we were all very hungry for a very late lunch. The picture at the top of the wall menu (which didn
This Cuban band was good and fun! (Check out the video link in the blog.) They were being attacked by the mossies as much as we were, while they were dancing and slapping, they finally got a young boy with a napkin to swat the mossies away from them. We retreated to the boat, but when the marina is built in a mangrove swamp, there
The small town on Cayo Largo mostly houses employees who work at the all inclusive resorts, or at the bank, small tienda, tobacco store, museum, and turtle sanctuary.  This is one of the employee housing dormitories. Employees work for 20-days straight, then get 10-days off to go home via ferry boat. Rinse and repeat. The bank was a funny place, we wanted to take a photo but no phones/cameras allowed. There were at least 10 employees in there, but only one teller open. And the waiting area had a very old, tired, bottomed out floral couch and recliner chairs to sit in. Hilarious!
This BEAUTIFUL Loggerhead Sea Turtle at the turtle sanctuary was about 18" long. The adult male we saw out at sea was almost 4
This interesting mural was on the outside wall of the tobacco store. We din
The Canarreos Archipelago islands are flat coral atolls covered in mangroves and other scrub trees. They are comprised of 17 islands (with cotton ball clouds!) and about 350 islets, and is almost as long as the Florida Keys. The two largest islands of the archipelago are the only inhabited islands: Isla de la Juventud at the far west end, and Cayo Largo del Sur at the far east end. Cuba exports a lot of spiny lobster, and much of it comes from these islands.
The lobster fishermen who sold us these beauties for $5/ea. asked not to be photographed. And you don
Kirk and Rob watching for the Green Flash which Rob had never seen, and was skeptical about… while we never saw it in Cuba, we HAVE seen it in Mexico and in Florida!
Sargassum, a type of seaweed-looking algae (apparently edible) was everywhere we sailed or dinghied.  For hundreds of years it was only found in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, but with climate change and warming waters, it has been plaguing the Caribbean Sea and beaches for the last few years. In Yucatan Mexico it now piles up 8
This escape hatch was in the hallway between Val
This photo is of one of the lobster fishermen retrieving our Rocna anchor and chain from the macrame mess that it had figure-eighted itself around two coral heads. BIG HUGE THANKS to the crew of Tropicana and the Lobster Fishermen for retrieving it for us and returning it to the charter base. (And for the photos of the anchor retrieval! )
Val and Heidi had to thread a line from the chain to the bow, under the trampoline. The anchor roller was under the tramp, at the aft edge of the trampoline. Grateful for small, dexterous fingers, they worked the line forward one square at a time until they could tie off the buoy to the chain and toss it over the bow. Then we cut the chain and left it all behind... an eerie feeling!
The infamous rusty bolt-cutters that wouldn
Back at Marina Cayo Largo again, at least the view was awesome and very Caribbean! It fueled our fire to get <em>Due West</em> to the Caribbean sooner than later!
Sunset over the mangroves from Marina Cayo Largo was very reminiscent of the Florida Keys.
Early dinner at 4:30pm, Kirk & Heidi enjoying their mini pizzas with Capitana Teresa
Teresa had brought gluten-free pizza crust mix for Heidi and Kelly, but because we never found flour anywhere in Cuba, everyone ended up getting GF pizzas. And no one was any wiser. We each got to design our own personal-sized pizzas with ingredients like: fresh tomato slices, fresh pineapple slices, green olives, ham, onions, peppers, garlic, and Cuban cheese. YUMMM, a delicious way to start our night watch, along with gluten-free brownies too, (which got scarfed up before we got a photo!) THANKS Capitana Teresa for feeding your crew so well! :-)
Val and Heidi bundled up for our night watch. Even in the tropics it gets chilly when the sun goes down and it’s blowing 20kts in your face! Heidi’s cozy hat from her brother Paul has constellations on it, including the Big Dipper and Orion, and we saw both that night.
This little fishing boat was actually in Havana Harbor, but looked just like the ones at the entrance to Bahia Cienfuegos—which no one got a photo of as we were dodging around them at first light. They were about 15’-18
All packed up and ready to go... on to our next Cuban adventure.
Bel and Gustavo arrived in his taxi-van to pick us up at the Platten Charter Base just as planned. It was so wonderful to see Bel again! We had missed her cheery smile, laugh, and demeanor and were all excited for her to  show us around more of her Caribbean island home. Rob, Val, Bel, Kelly, Heidi, Capitana Teresa, and Gustavo, (photo by Kirk.)