Due West Adventures

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

Boats, Planes, and Electric Cars: A Visit to the US

10 August 2019 | Puerto Vallarta
Heidi & Kirk Hackler
If you read our last blog post you'll know we got some bad news about our 27-year-old oil-leaking diesel, Michael P. Engine. (Yes, that's Kirk with all that hair, 27-years ago when we first installed the engine!) So we were hoping the engine fairy would help us out... Well, we're here to tell you that there really IS an engine fairy! Or at least an engine mechanic who can actually FIX rather than replace old oil-leaking diesel engines.

In early July we were headed to the States for a family reunion. A week before we left, Kirk had a premonition that we were going to get some good engine news... Then just two days before we were leaving as we were scurrying around to get out of town, organizing cat sitting, etc., we randomly (or not so randomly?) met some new-to-PV sailboat cruisers from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, walking down the dock. In our brief chat, we found out that Ben was a mechanic who works on diesel boat and car engines around Lake Coeur d'Alene, and he offered to take a look at our engine.

We didn't hold high hopes since we'd already had two other highly recommended engine mechanics look at our trusty steed Michael P Engine, and pronounce him unrepairable. But when Ben took a look he said: "I can fix this!" It turns out there was one big difference between Ben and the two other mechanics. Ben doesn't sell new engines, he just fixes old ones, if he can. The other two mechanics both sell new engines in addition to working on old ones... but are possibly more motivated to sell new than fix old. Ca-ching, ca-ching!



Where the other two mechanics saw extreme pitting of the crankshaft that wasn't repairable, Ben saw very slight pitting, which he was easily able to smooth out with some emery-cloth. He then installed a brand new oil seal in the oil pump, put the engine back together, and Michael P Engine fired right up!

WAHOO!! Kirk ran the engine for 4 hours and not one single drop of oil leaked out. Not ONE! A far cry from a quart every 24 hours that it had been leaking. And all for pennies on the dollar, much less than the cost and hassle of installing a new engine...not to mention the sustainability aspect of keeping our old engine going. We are SO grateful to Ben and his wife Andrea for their help and friendship. Be sure to check out Quality Auto & Marine Repair in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, if you are in need of any marine or automotive engine repairs. They ROCK!

With Michael P Engine fully operable again, we flew off to the States with happy hearts to visit family. We left Tosh & Tikka in the great hands of the Shanafelt family from m/v Noeta, who graciously moved into the condo to care for our gatos in our absence. They were happy to give Tosh his meds, play with Tosh & Tikka, and hang out in the pools, beach, and ocean. We are grateful to Alexa, Pat, Hailey, and Jack for their help. And a HUGE thanks to Gilligan-the-cat for letting his family come cat-sit ours, while other friends cat-sat for him aboard m/v Noeta.

Our trip to the US was a multi-destination family-oriented event. First stop Denver, where we Ubered to our appointment at the Apple store to drop off Heidi's computer for a repair. Some of the things you take for granted in the US you just can't get done in Mexico. After dropping off the computer, we grabbed two Greek salads at the mall food court, and almost choked on the $40 price tag!?! One of the perks of living in Mexico is that two can eat dinner out with excellent food for well under $15. Pros and cons to each country...it's all a trade-off.



The next day we flew on to Idaho Falls to pick up our rental car to drive to Jackson Hole. When Hertz offered us an upgrade from a mid-size to a Prius for an extra $5/day, we jumped on it knowing we would more than make up the price difference by not buying as much fuel. And we only bought 20 gallons in 1,000 miles of driving! Plus driving a Prius is like driving a video game... When it appeared that we'd miss seeing Heidi's best friend from high school, Nancy, by only one day, Nancy made arrangements to meet up with us in Idaho Falls for a quick lunch just after we arrived. So much fun to catch up with her and her son Connor.


Howdy Stranger, Yonder lies Jackson Hole!



We hadn't been back to Jackson in over 4 years (the longest Heidi had ever been away) and boy has it changed! Heidi's Ecuadorian brother Esteban was visiting Jackson with his wife Gioconda for Esteban's high school reunion, so that motived all of Heidi's immediate family to get together. Brother Arne and his wife Teresa still live in Jackson and hosted a big family gathering. Sister Kari and her son Tate flew in from Oregon, and brother Paul drove down from Bozeman. So much fun to see Esteban and hang out with all of Heidi's siblings, nieces, nephew, and extended family too.


Big thanks to Pete and Jean-Mom for hosting us in Jackson and all the fun times together.


More thanks to Arne and Teresa for hosting us all in their newly remodeled kitchen and dining room too. The Boyz Table: Pete, Arne, Tate, Steve, Andy, Kirk, and Berg.


The Women's Club: (front row) Matriarchs Nancy and Mom-Jean; (back row) Lori, Lily, Sarah-Jane, Caroline, Teresa, Annika, Heidi, and Kari.


The impetus for this family gathering... great fun to be with Ecuadorian-brother Estéban and his wife Gioconda again! Capitán Kirk, Heidi, Estéban, Paul, and Gioconda. Maybe we'll be headed to Ecuador soon...

We all went on several family hikes including a couple of medicinal plant walks with Heidi's Herbalist-mom Jean, and Grandpa Andy. We were even joined by our long-time friend Jared from Seattle, who also has a house in the Jackson Hole area. So fun to see him and catch up. Jared and his wife Karen sailed with us in the Sea of Cortez a few years ago.

Family hike... Naturalist Grandpa Andy and Mom-Jean talking about the green gentian plant and its uses.


After driving the Prius, Kirk was excited to drive his father-in-law Pete's new Tesla. Pete is keen on getting everyone in the world to drive electric cars, and most of Heidi's family either have electric or hybrid cars. We both drove the Tesla and found it to be very Space-X! Definitely a big step-up from the Prius we rented.


Spectacular view of the sunset over the Grand Tetons from the middle of the Snake River. THIS is why we prefer the evening float...


Esteban, Arne, Eric, Teresa, and Heidi evening float down the Snake River. It can get cold on the river in the evening with the wind blowing across the water... Heidi wasn't the only one bundled up, but she probably had the most layers on!

The whole family took an evening float trip in Grand Teton National Park with Barker-Ewing Scenic Float Trips. The Barkers are life-long family friends. Heidi's dad Verne was their first boatman back in the late 1960s, and Heidi grew up playing with their kids Leith and Eric around the rafts. It was wonderful to see Leith again... thanks so much for spoiling Tosh & Tikka rotten with FUN cat toys, they love them! Leith's mom Barb joined us on the float trip as well. And we were honored to have Eric as our naturalist river guide, taking after Heidi's dad with Eric's excellent rafting skills along with his bad puns. Eric pointed out 9 bald eagles including two fledgling juveniles who were attempting to fly out of the nest! This was a highlight of the float, as we've seen zero bald eagles since leaving Seattle four years ago. Plus we saw lots of evidence of beaver and one beaver in the water, but sadly no moose or other big mammals.

We also got in Kirk's favorite hike to Phelps Lake, the former Lawrence Rockefeller family vacation compound that they have since donated to Grand Teton National Park. Due to a very wet spring, the normal June wildflowers were out in full-color a whole month late, in July. They were SO beautiful, everything from pink sticky geranium and wild rose, and blue lupine and flax, to yellow daisies, red Indian paintbrush, and purple fireweed, it was a virtual rainbow of native wildflowers.


Kirk surveying the majesty and listening to Lake Creek babbling along, Grand Teton National Park.




The view looking across Phelps Lake toward the Tetons is usually the grand prize for making the 3-mile round-trip trek. However, this year the wildflowers were the best part of the hike.



We packed a lot into a brief week in Jackson, including a quick visit with Heidi's childhood friend Janet, who lives in Boulder and runs a kids camp in Jackson each summer. Heidi also met up with a few of her Neal's Yard Remedies customers and sales team in Jackson. And we visited dad Verne's little house in the woods to check in on it. Plus we had a lovely evening at the Jackson Buddhist Songha Meditation with Nancy. To see as many friends as possible we organized a group dinner at Picas, our favorite Mexican restaurant in Jackson. Big thanks to Don and David for coming to dinner. Apologies if we didn't see you on this trip... hopefully next time!


Janet and Heidi had been best friends for the one year (7th grade) that Janet had lived in Jackson. Somehow through letter writing, emails, texts, and phone calls, they've managed to stay in constant touch across the country and throughout the 40+ years.


We also checked on Heidi's Dad's little cabin in the woods. He built this house when Heidi and Paul were tiny kids.


Our friend Don 'Cush' drove over an hour to meet up with us for dinner. Don is a long-time family friend and had been on our Grand Canyon River Expedition in 2005. He's also one of our most ardent and appreciative blog readers. Thanks for making the trek to have dinner with us, Don. Great to see you!

From Jackson, we took the Prius on a beautiful road trip up through southeast Idaho, and the western edge of Yellowstone for a quick visit to Bozeman. We stopped to check out a few waterfall vistas along the way. And when we realized we'd be driving through Ennis, Montana, where Heidi's old Aldus friend Audrey lived, we gave a phone call and found she was home! It was a fun, short visit with Audrey & Ken.


Panoramic view of the Cave Falls cascades on the Fall River, southwest Yellowstone. The Fall River flows into the Henry's Fork of the Snake River downstream. This little-known entrance to Yellowstone is in the southwest corner of the Park. Enter in from the Idaho side before the road turns back into Wyoming. If you've never been here, it's totally worth the 15-mile drive in from the highway. Interestingly the Idaho part of the road is gravel, once you hit the Wyoming state line it becomes paved again!? Such beautiful country!


The impressive Upper Mesa Falls on the Henry's Fork of the Snake River in southeast Idaho, south of Island Park and West Yellowstone. The roar of Upper Mesa falls is almost defining... with a nice shower of water to cool us on a hot day!


You can see why Montana is called Big Sky Country... Wide-open spaces... the sunlight through the clouds highlighting the yellow mustard fields behind the horses. Lucky shot out the window as we flew by on the highway outside of Bozeman.

So why drive to Bozeman besides the beautiful scenery? To visit Heidi's brother Paul and meet his fiance Darcy, and Darcy's daughter Maggie. We were the last of the family to finally meet them, and it was so much fun! One evening we had a fire in their firepit and Darcy got giant marshmallows... it has been years since we roasted marshmallows and we thoroughly enjoyed the entire sweet-and-sticky-mess. Thanks, Darcy, we might have to try that on the beach in Mexico when you come to visit! We also had a great visit over lunch with long-time family friends Jan and Joe, only sorry we forgot to get a photo of them!


Heidi's brother Paul and his fiancé Darcy. Welcome to the family Darcy!

All too soon it was time to head back to Idaho Falls and fly to Albuquerque to visit Heidi's Dad Verne and his wife Willa. Some of Heidi's most favorite cousins live in Salt Lake City, and although we only had a 90-minute layover in Salt Lake, they were game to come to the airport for a quick visit. Kirk graciously stayed inside security with our bags while Heidi made a mad-dash out through security to meet up with cousins Eric & Nan. We hadn't seen them in about five years, and it was so much fun to catch up, even if briefly. Heidi had to get back through security in time for the flight, and just as she got back inside... they delayed our flight by 90-minutes! Damn... we could have both gone out through security and out to dinner with Eric & Nan if we'd known a few minutes earlier.


Grateful to these crazy cousins, Eric & Nan, for meeting us at the SLC airport for a quick 20-minute visit. We love you guys to the moon and back and miss you so much... Come down and visit!

On to ABQ arriving late at night... grateful for our fantastic AirBnB Hosts Carl & Sharon who we've stayed with many times now. They are Super-Hosts and super convenient to Heidi's Dad's. Plus Carl is also a Lyft driver who will pick you up at the airport, and take you back at ungodly hours of the morning or night. If you're ever in Albuquerque, we highly recommend staying with Carl & Sharon.


Lunch with Willa and Dad-Verne... always a PUN time!


Can't go anywhere without juice and Verne and Willa were grateful to their son-in-law Kirk for all of his help around their house and property, not to mention with the cars!


Speaking of cars... Look out NASCAR here comes Kirk Unser... he had such a fun time at the Unser Race Car Museum... the only downside was the race car simulator was broken. Next time...

Our visit with Heidi's Dad Verne and his wife Willa was short but packed full of helping them out with things like jumping a dead car, household and yard chores, and filling bird feeders. Verne loves watching all the songbirds that come to his window. Plus we had some fun meals out, all-in-all a good time spent together. Since Verne & Willa retire early, we also had a couple of delicious dinners with our friend Luba, but forgot to take any photos! And Kirk finally got to visit the Unser Race Car Museum. He loved it!

Next stop Denver/Boulder. This was our third time passing through the DEN airport on this trip, and we've gotta say, as much as we've traveled around the globe, it is the WORST airport we have EVER been through. Avoid it like the plague if you can. So cumbersome, up and down escalators, you get dropped off at one floor, have to go up two floors to check-in, then back down a floor to go through security, no stairs that we could find... and all in all, a major run-around-hassle every way you look at it. Even getting the rental car shuttle was a hike with your bags. No bueno! For a relatively "new' international airport, they totally missed the mark in so many ways, including lack of signage.

On the plus side, we arrived DEN at 6:30am (after Carl kindly took us to the airport at 3am!), so we got our rental car by 7:30am and were off to downtown Denver to pick up Heidi's computer. Oh wait, Apple doesn't open until 10am... Luckily, we found a great breakfast spot near-by, called Syrup. Excellent food and very gluten-free friendly (GF pancakes and waffles!) and a ton of different syrups to try. Finally, with computer in hand, we headed for Boulder to check out that cool college town and walk through the colorful Pearl Street pedestrian mall.


Walking into Rebecca's Herbal Apothecary & Supplies was like a throwback to walking into Heidi's mom Jean's Herb Store in Jackson, Wyoming 30+ years ago. It smelled exactly the same! Contrary to what you might be thinking, being in Boulder, Colorado, a 420-state... that's not the type of herbs we were after! We needed to stock up on some of the traditional Western medicinal herbs that we can't find in Mexico, like elderflower and yarrow.

One of the places on our Boulder Bucket list was to check out Rebecca's Herbal Apothecary & Supplies. The reason we sought out Rebecca's Herbal Apothecary is that we'd just finished watching the extremely educational docuseries Remedy: Ancient Medicine for Modern Illness. Rebecca had been one of the herbalists interviewed. We were quite impressed with all the knowledge she imparted in this documentary, and when we realized she was in Boulder, and we were going there... we had to stop in. Such a great gal in person too, we really enjoyed chatting with her. If you're ever in Boulder her shop is well worth a stop.


So much fun to spend time with Andy and Janet. Thanks for your wonderful hospitality and for being our mail-stop. Next time we'll stay longer and hike more!

That night we stayed with our friends Janet and Andy. Janet (who we'd seen briefly in Jackson) was just back home from running her kids' summer camp, and it was so great to have a good visit with them. Janet & Andy's wedding 20-some years ago is still one of the most memorable we've ever been to... and not because of the Macarena dance! Even though we only see them once every 5-10 years in person, we pick right back up where we left off... the sign of true friends. They also graciously acted as our "mail stop" to have some Amazon orders and our mail sent from Seattle. That night was like Christmas as we opened boxes and re-packed everything into duffle bags for our checked luggage. New shoes, vitamins and supplements, organic protein powder, and other food items that we can't easily get in Mexico. Thankfully we flew Southwest which allows for two free checked bags per person!

Another early morning Denver airport run, this time Heidi dropping Kirk off for his flight back home to Mexico, and to relieve the Shanafelts of Tosh & Tikka duty. Many thank again Alexa et al! Heidi stayed on in the Denver-area through the weekend for her Neal's Yard Remedies annual conference, where she was asked to speak on Creating Effective Newsletters. It was great fun to hang out with old friends like Cathy, Anne, and Jonna from Missoula (who visited us in PV last year), and learn about Neal's Yard Remedies latest products.


Heidi was honored to be asked to speak about Creating Effective Newsletters at NYR Organic's annual conference for sales consultants. She was also pleasantly surprised to receive a Top Team Sales award for her Team's sales of over $100,000!

After almost five-years with Neal's Yard Remedies, an amazing ethical, sustainable UK-based company, Heidi is still as passionate as ever about helping people remove toxins from their health and beauty products. Shockingly, the average woman is exposed to 150+ toxic chemicals a day in her health and beauty products. Yikes!! Please message Heidi if you'd like free samples of truly organic, toxin-free products including the new Frankincense Intense Hand Treatment Serum, which is clinically proven to repair sun-damaged hands.


The lighter side of Neal's Yard Remedies conference, photo-ops with roomies Anne and Jonna. Always a good time, doing good for the planet and the people!

One last trip to the Denver airport and it was time for Heidi to fly home. While it was fantastic to visit so many family and friends in our two-week whirl-wind trip to the US, not to mention stocking up on our Trader Joe's favs and a few other things we can't get south of the border, overall the US seems like a ZOO to us, and we much prefer the slower-paced, peaceful life in Mexico. If you're tired of the rat-race, come down and visit on the FUN side of the wall!

Heidi had great seat-mates on the flight back to PV, our new friends Lisa & Tim from Nashville, Tenessee area. When they started picking Heidi's brain about things to do in Puerto Vallarta and mentioned where they were staying, it turned out they were staying at the same condo complex where we're currently condo sitting! So we shared a taxi from the airport to the condo, then met up a few times at the pool.


Playa Colomitas is a lush blue-green tropical paradise. You can only reach it by hiking along the Guacamaya trail or by boat. It's a favorite spot for Mexicans to enjoy the weekend.


Lisa and Heidi cooling off in this refreshing waterfall at Playa Colomitas, the one-quarter-way reward on this hot jungle hike. Three quarters still to go and no more waterfalls...but lots of beaches.


Ahhhh... the reward near the end of the hike. Fueling up with agua maracuya (Passion Fruit water) and lunch at Maraikas Beach Club with Tim & Lisa, before we finish the last half-mile of this hike to Las Animas.

Lisa and Tim asked about the jungle-beach hike from Boca de Tomatlan to Las Animas, along the south coast of Banderas Bay, which is only accessible by hiking trail or boat. It takes some local knowledge to get there, so we invited ourselves along to be their trail guides. This time of year (rainy season) the jungle is so lush and green and the waterfalls were a welcome relief from the heat. Be sure to check out some of the other jungle photos in our photo gallery. Someone had also walked the trail ahead of us, dropping tropical flower petals along the way: fragrant jasmine and plumeria, and beautiful pink, then yellow, then purple flower petals for the whole 3-mile+ hike. What fun!

Now that Michael P. Engine is raring to go again, we plan to sail south at the end of Hurricane Season (mid- to late November) to Tenicatita, Bara de Navidad, and Manzanillo area, and possibly as far south as Zihuatanejo by February... then likely making our way back north into the Sea of Cortez in April and May, before returning to Banderas Bay for next Hurricane season. Of all the cruising grounds in Pacific-coast Mexico, we feel that Banderas Bay (and particularly Marina Vallarta) is the safest place to be during hurricane season. Just remember, our plans are always written in sand at low tide...

If you want to see the real Mexico, come on down and visit us in one of these locales next winter or spring. Smooth sailing for the rest of your summer. Big thanks again to all of the friends and family who hosted us in the US. It was so wonderful to see all of you!


Tikka and Tosh were so happy to have us home, they stuck like glue for the first few days! And if you read our last blog post...their diet has been working, they are each dow a pound or so!

Tikka & Tosh send their love, as do we! xo

Vessel Name: Due West
Vessel Make/Model: Passport 40
Hailing Port: Seattle, WA
Crew: Captain Kirk & Heidi Hackler + Tosh & Tikka
About:
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!
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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.)
 
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