Hilary Helkenn

Vessel Name: Brighter Days
Vessel Make/Model: Fuji 45'
Hailing Port: Vero Beach, Florida
Crew: Travis and Hilary
About: When a boy meets a crazy girl who wants to sail around (or about) the world, and he is cool enough to say "ok."
20 July 2016 | La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Nayarit, Mexico
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20 July 2016 | La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Nayarit, Mexico

Our first trip to SV Brighter Days Part 1

Last week, the Captain and I were able to sneak away to Mexico to spend a few days on the boat. Since our time was so limited at sea trial and survey, this was really our first chance to get to know her.

03 July 2016

Introducing SV Brighter Days!

Plot twist….!!!! Big(ger) changes on the Horizon…

Our first trip to SV Brighter Days Part 1

20 July 2016 | La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Nayarit, Mexico
Last week, the Captain and I were able to sneak away to Mexico to spend a few days on the boat. Since our time was so limited at sea trial and survey, this was really our first chance to get to know her.

I will confess that I had a lot of anxiety over this purchase. More than T, who was all in from the beginning. T had finished the sale of Mongojo the day before he left, and that was difficult. I LOVE her. She was my first boat and I had plans and I somehow feel that I let her down. While I realize it's a bit ridiculous to anthropomorphise a boat, I can't help it. I'm a sentimental girl. I knew the way she moved, I knew the little tics she had. I knew how her mast sang to me when the wind was from the NW at about 5mph. I knew and loved her, and selling her was hard. That she went to an experienced sailor and cruiser who had the knowledge and intent to fix her up helped ease the blow, but it was still hard. I didn't love Brighter Days yet. She was a mysterious stranger to me. It had been a prolonged closing and the initial thrill of a new beautiful boat had worn off a bit. So I wasn't sure how I would feel, but I knew it would take some time to get to love her.

T arrived the day before, and had barely had time to get to the marina for paperwork and then was exhausted so he went straight back to the hotel. Since we were unsure of the boat systems, we had reserved two nights at La Cruz Inn. A quaint little thatched roof "bungalow" hotel, it was recently bought by Annette and Cirillo. I highly recommend staying there. They could not have been nicer, loaning us a cooler and even giving us a ride to the boat the next day. We had a nice air conditioned room and bathroom, with an outdoor kitchenette and sitting area.

I arrived the next day around 1 pm, and was beyond delighted to see T after almost a month apart.

Crew Reunited

After a quick lunch at Restaurante de Enrique (where I think we might quickly be considered "regulars" as they remembered us from May) we headed to the boat for our first peek as the owners of a Fuji 45'.

She is beautiful. Her lines are classic and gorgeous. A lot of boat owners will refer in disparaging tones to the "PO", or previous owner. Something done by the "PO" often is different to how it would have been accomplished by the current owners, and oftentimes it is viewed as inferior. I doubt T and I will ever have cause to do this. The boat was refit completely between 2003 and 2008, and it is just stunning. I kept walking through her saying, "I just can't believe this is real." and "She is so BIG. I can't believe she is ours." That feeling didn't really go away during the long weekend. Everytime I'd open a drawer and discover cool new storage, I was in awe. From her sails down to the engine room with the new Yanmar 76hp, she is just truly a stunning boat.

The first night, I was truly just in sloth mode. We opened a bottle of wine that we had purchased at the OXXO that turned out to be a completely drinkable Chilean Malbec for ~$10 USD and vegged. Sooner than I wished, the sun was going down. We had work to do, no doubt, but something about heat, a boat and Mexico just provides the perfect reset button. There would be time enough for work tomorrow. Tonight, it was time to relax. I read, sipped wine, watched the sunset, snoozed, enjoyed the company of my Captain and just soaked in the essence of our new vessel.

It was well past sunset when we reluctantly gathered our belongings and made our way to La Cava, a local Mexican restaurant that probably caters to tourists. We had dinner there in May, but someone who shall remain un-named....Ok me...had way too much to drink the previous meal (probably why the bartender at Enrique remembered us!) and I couldn't eat my food. So we tried it again, and I was very pleased. T and I shared a combo meal, and guac. Their enchiladas sin carne with a salsa verde are DELICIOUS! After dinner and several beers (I think the bill was about $28 USD for two and drinks) we headed back to La Cruz Inn. Alarm was set for 8 am to head back to the boat. :)

Introducing SV Brighter Days!

03 July 2016
Plot twist….!!!! Big(ger) changes on the Horizon…

We would like to introduce the soon-to-be S/V Brighter Days. (Yes, it’s a homage to our mutual favorite musician JJ Grey and one of our favorite songs.) She is a 1975 Fuji 45’ center cockpit ketch. Designed by the venerable John Alden, she sails like a dream! (During our sea trial, we were close hauled in an almost flat 6 knots and we were ghosting along at 4.2 knots under main and headsail….it was fantastic.) Not surprising given she was designed by John Alden. Oh did I say that already? I *might be slightly more than elated to have a boat designed by John Alden. (oops there I go again)

So here is our story, for those who followed along and have asked. Sorry if I ignored some questions but things were in transition. Yes, we were getting ready to sink some major bucks into Mongojo…extended yard time and new sails, etc. But the the conversation kept arising, “Well wouldn’t it be nice if we had an aft cabin…the dogs…the dive gear…the paddleboard…the kid’s and future grandkids…” As much as I don’t mind living pretty minimally on the boat, ( I haven’t had a shower or a microwave in a year) I need my dive gear and my iSup and the furkids. So whilst this conversation is ongoing, fate chimed in. Big time.

The Universe first put this boat in front of us a few years ago when she was newly on the market. We loved the boat and her traditional lines but the price tag wasn’t in our budget…I mean not even close. We’ve watched her over the years, marveled at her beauty, but we had a boat.

So in the midst of these discussions, AND working like crazy to get ready for an expensive refit, once again this boat appeared as a “share” on a friend’s Facebook page…THIS TIME with a drastically reduced price-tag. I truly felt like it was fate. One text to Travis at 11 pm, and the wheels were set into motion. Once that initial step was taken, everything happened at lightening speed. Offer made, sea trial, counter offer made, counter to the counter offer made and accepted, and it was done. The logistics of buying a boat in Mexico are a little daunting but we’re confidant it’s a done deal at this point. And we are SOOO EXCITED!

So about our new girl… Most recently she was known as “Ahea Kali” (I think. I frequently forget or misspell the name but it means something in Hawaiian that was significant to her last owners). She was built in 1975 in the Fuji Yachts boatyard in Yokasuka, Japan. Approximately 28 boats were built, and I believe she is hull #8. She has hand laid solid fiberglass hull. She has the classic lines that Alden is known for, and all the rich warm teak reminiscent of boats of yesteryear. Her raised cabin top allows for unbelievable interior light and headroom. She has a forward V-berth with head, a roomy main saloon, and an aft cabin with head and queen sized berth. TWO cabins, TWO heads. She feels huge to us! Her previous owner found her in Panama and purchased her in 2003. He did a COMPLETE refit between 2003-2008, no expense spared. She truly has all the “bells and whistles”, actually way too many for our somewhat minimalist tastes. Options are good, however, and it will be fun to decide what we need and what can go. She has solar, fairly recent navigation equipment, lightly used sails in great shape, decent running rigging, standing rigging replaced during refit, extra tall lifelines and heavy stanchions, beautifully professionally repainted hull, I could go on and on. A large fridge and separate FREEZER? Check. A washer and dryer? Check! (Not sure it’s staying, will see how it is on the power draw) Oh, and an actual guest berth! We can having visitors! Yay! The varnish and canvas suffered a bit from sitting in the sun, but those are pretty easily remedied. Aside from a few other small issues, she is as solid as they come! We already had the bottom job done, did some rigging work, and have a few more simple projects that will need to be done, but all cosmetic. From the solid GRP hull, cutaway forefoot long keel, to the new Yanmar, the Spectra watermaker, and an engine room that is the stuff of dreams, she is a bluewater dream. We feel really blessed and can’t wait for our future cruising! We will be reduced to visiting the boat for the next year or so, but that is part of the fun. Banderas Bay is gorgeous…what a cool place to call our second home!

Mongojo has been sold. It is not finalized but we feel pretty secure in the transaction. She sold to the first man that came to see her. Making that decision was HARD because I loved her and felt a lot of loyalty to her. In reality, we were probably not the right owners. She is going to a man who has cruised, has refit boats, is a welder and experienced with fiberglass. Our communication has been so rewarding and that has eased the pain. She’s a good boat.

So there is the update in the Captain and Crew of S/V Mongojo Brighter Days. We will be visiting her soon, and will post more pictures! Love you all!!

Captain T and First Mate H

S/V Brighter Days
Brighter Days's Photos - SV Brighter Days (Main)
Photos 1 to 10 of 10
La Cava restaurant: Home of some seriously delicious cheese enchiladas with green sauce! X
Our first sunset on the boat.
Entrance to the Marina
The central park in the town of La Cruz
La Cruz Inn
The La Cruz yacht club, a nice clubhouse for the marina but not really a yacht club, per se.
View from our balcony of the courtyard
View from the cockpit...I never wanted to move.
Our cute little kitchenette
T and I reunited

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