Due West Adventures

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

24 December 2019 | Puerto Vallarta
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

Ho Ho Ho!

24 December 2019 | Puerto Vallarta
Heidi & Kirk Hackler
Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to all of our family, friends, and readers near and far.

We had hoped to slip our lines last week and sail a few days south to Barra de Navidad by Christmas. Since the town is named "Christmas" we've heard it's a fun place to be. But apparently, Neptune has other plans for us right now. We're still working away on a few critical boat projects that need to happen before we can leave...including a few items that cropped up in our recent marine survey that must be remedied in order to bind our new insurance. Nothing major, just time-consuming...

So lest you all think we're just hanging out in hammocks, barefoot in the sand, sipping on umbrella drinks, think again... As any cruiser will attest, the day in the life of a cruiser is often more work than the daily grind at home. But at least it's warm, and you can tell the boss to take a hike, literally!

As we had often heard but not really experienced living in the Pacific North Wet, the lower latitudes can be very hard on boats. Especially when you're not actively using them all the time. So it's been a summer and fall full of repairs. Thankfully Kirk is about the handiest man around and can fix or repair just about anything (but prefers not to work on refrigeration or diesel engines if he doesn't have to.) And he's always grateful for any help or information from others, including Youtube!


Kirk's Cave

Kirk started the summer installing brand new Dyneema lifelines (these are made of high-strength synthetic line rather than plastic coated wire.) Then he moved on to work under the cockpit, in a very SMALL, tight-squeeze space (see photo above). Luckily he doesn't have much fat on his bones and isn't claustrophobic. To get into the "cave" he has to slither in on his stomach and pull himself along. Once inside there is just enough room to roll over onto his back and work above his head.

So what exactly was he doing back there? For starters, installing our long-awaited cockpit shower (more on that later), replacing the diesel fuel filler hose (original hose almost 40-years old was super dirty and making a mess), installing a manual engine stop cable (see below), and then there was our friend the auto-pilot. Remember our Lewmar auto-pilot? The one that broke coming down the coast of the US, and got replaced with a "new" one under warranty in La Paz three years ago? Yeah, that one.


The black pull-handle to the right of the orange SmartPlug cord is our new manual engine stop cable.

For you non-boaters, an autopilot is a very important piece of equipment (or crewmate!) when you're sailing short-handed (ie: only two people.) Hand steering in big seas and/or heavy weather can be very tiring, and sometimes you have to trade helmsperson every 30-minutes to an hour. As you can imagine, without an autopilot to help steer in these conditions, we'd only be able to cat-nap, which would lead to further exhaustion, loss of judgment, and potential injury. No bueno. So the auto-pilot is a critical crew member.

At the time Lewmar sent us the replacement three years ago it appeared to be refurbished rather than a brand new unit as it was supposed to be. The bottom sat all cattywampus and lots of sealant gooed out around the edges. Not the "Swiss Watch" look of our original autopilot. We were concerned enough about this "new" unit that Kirk took a bunch of photos and sent them back to Lewmar, saying we didn't feel like it was "new", even though they assured us by the serial number it was. So we installed it and used it for about six months in 2016, from La Paz to San Carlos in the Sea of Cortez and back south to Puerto Vallarta.

Since then it has not been used, as Due West has sat in her slip in the marina. So back to Kirk working in that tight space under the cockpit, 96° in the shade! He thought that as long as he was under there, he should check out how the autopilot was faring. And what did he find? About ⅛" of play in the tiller arm. While that might not seem like a lot, it was enough slack to cause the autopilot to keep searching for its course and not work to steer the boat.

So Kirk removed the 45-pound autopilot, which was about 3" above his nose as he lay on his back! And brought it to our friend Ben, the motor-whisperer who had repaired Due West's engine last summer. When Ben and Kirk opened up the case, they were shocked to find the bushings in the gears were badly worn and the chain between them drooping. We're thinking this autopilot had way more than the 200 hours we put on it.


Ben opening the old "new" autopilot, to discover worn bushings and saging chain.

So more photos were taken and attached to the original three-year-old email to Lewmar where we had stated that we didn't feel this was a new unit. Imagine our surprise, when Lewmar finally agreed and sent us another "new" autopilot! Maybe they were just tired of dealing with us!? Whatever the case, we are grateful for this new crew member, which will be installed for Due West's Christmas present so she doesn't have to work so hard steering.

And the autopilot was just the tip of the iceberg. All in the span of about two weeks, we had a myriad of things go wrong. And Mercury wasn't even in Retrograde yet! Heidi's 18-month old MacBook Pro died mid-use with no rhyme or reason. Because it was still under warranty, it had to be sent back to Apple in the US for repair. But it turns out that you can't just mail a computer in for repair, it has to be hand walked into an Apple store by a person!? Who knew? We were grateful for our cruising friend Lisa who was visiting her sister in the states and agreed to be the computer mule! So while we had to pay the FedEx from Mexico to the US, the rest was covered, including a new hard drive, motherboard, and keyboard?! Wow... not sure if it was a lemon to start with, or what caused all those parts to suddenly fail, but Heidi is grateful to have it back and fixed under warranty! Thanks, Lisa and Apple!

We have also been shopping for new yacht insurance. Thanks to climate change, the increase in hurricane activity in the Caribbean has resulted in many payouts over the past several years. So insurance companies are dropping boats like hot potatoes for being "too old" (over 30 years) or "not valuable enough" (under $125K). Since our last out-of-the-water marine survey was almost 5 years ago, we knew we had to get a new one done to qualify for insurance. (For you non-sailors, a marine survey is like getting an appraisal of your house, although usually, homeowners insurance doesn't require that!) So we scheduled a haulout to paint the bottom, change our zincs, lube the prop, and check all the underwater running gear.


Happy to have Jim Knapp, Marine Surveyor, and Rigger, splice the shackle end of our new main halyard!

But finding a marine surveyor here in PV wasn't an easy task. Luckily for us, our good friend Jim Knapp, a marine surveyor in Gig Harbor, WA, (please contact Jim if you're ever in need of a fantastic marine surveyor!), was looking for a little R-n-R work-vacation in Mexico. Big thanks to m/v Noeta for helping Jim & Karen with their plane tickets.

We are so grateful to Jim and Karen for coming to visit, and for Jim's survey and expertise on a few boat projects. We had scheduled the haulout for Due West a few days before Jim & Karen's arrival, so we could have the bottom painted, and Jim could survey the bottom out of the water. Then return Due West back to her slip with us, and do the rest of the survey at the dock. Best laid plans... We should know better than to make plans!

A day before our haulout, Kirk ran the engine to make sure everything was good to go... and it was for a bit, until it wasn't. Michael P. Engine died, and Kirk thought it was an air leak, but he couldn't figure out where it was coming from. With no time to trouble-shoot before our haulout, we punted and decided to tow Due West the half-mile down the marina to the boat yard using our trusty dinghy, Aventuras, with our 15 HP outboard.


Big thanks to Liz & Travis for their help towing Due West to the boatyard!

To have a few extra hands, we asked our friends Liz and Travis to join us. Non-sailors, they are both whip-smart and take directions well, that's all we needed. So with Kirk and Travis in the dinghy, and Heidi steering Due West with Liz as her first mate, we made our way to Opequimar (Oh-pecky-mar) boatyard. We knew the engine would run for a couple of minutes before dying. So Heidi fired her up and Kirk aligned Due West with the haulout basin before untying the tow line. Heidi drove straight in with Liz tossing lines to the boatyard crew. A perfect landing! THANKS Liz & Travis!



After Due West was all blocked up on the hard, Kirk went to drive the dingy back to our slip, and the outboard wouldn't start. WTF?! If you know Kirk, you might know that his nickname is the "Outboard Whisperer". He was born with an outboard attached to his hand, and can pretty much diagnose any outboard issue by sound! He has fixed so many sailing friends outboards over the years, Heidi thinks he should hang out a shingle! And so he knew right away it was the emergency kill key. Which he had just replaced a year ago?? Musta been made in China...Thankfully we had another spare, so all he had to do was row the half-mile back to the slip. Good exercise!


Our tow boat, the fishing panga "Bony".

Four days later Due West had a fresh bottom, and Jim had finished the out-of-water survey. So with Jim and Karen as crew, we thought we might be able to nurse Due West's engine, Michael P., long enough to get us back to the slip since the outboard was still inoperable at the time. Silly us, we should have known better! Halfway back to the slip, Michael P. engine died again, no go! Thankfully we hailed a tiny fishing boat passing by, "Bony", and tossed a tow line to the nice pescador (fisherman) and his young son. They were able to get us right back into our slip, and grateful for the $400 pesos we offered them. ($20 US) A great day's wage for 30 minutes of work, well worth it to all of us.


Before and after a shiny-cleaned and repaired dinghy.

Back at the dock, Jim proceeded with his survey, while Kirk fixed the outboard and took Aventuras out for a spin. Outboard working great again, imagine his surprise to return to the slip taking on water?! Yikes, where was that water coming from? So Kirk hauled the RIB dinghy (rigid aluminum hull with inflatable pontoons) up on the dock to take a look. From that vantage point, it was easy to see that the Hypalon pontoons were delaminating from the aluminum bottom. Not happy about that with an AB dinghy! So one more thing added to the "repair before we go list." It's the only time Kirk has ever allowed 5200 to be used! (5200 is a super-goopy adhesive sealant that not only gets everywhere but once it's hardened, is virtually impossible to remove.)


Jim & Karen chilaxin'.

In between Jim's time surveying Due West, we made sure he and Karen had a good tour of PV and ate lots of great Mexican food! We also took a day off of boat work to hang out at the La Cruz Sunday Market and visit with our mutual friends Pat & Alexa and kids on m/v Noeta. All too soon Jim and Karen had to fly home. We're so grateful for their friendship and help aboard Due West, and the fun times together.


Visiting m/v Noeta: Kirk, Alexa, Heidi, Jim, Karen, and Pat.

Back to Michale P. engine and the fuel system air leak... what was up with that? Serendipitously, while Kirk was just beginning to attack the air leak, we had a knock on the hull (for you non-boaters, when you visit someone's boat you always knock on the hull and give a shout, "Ahoy Due West".) It was our Canadian friend Mike from s/v Kitty Toes, who we hadn't seen in a year. And Mike just happens to be a diesel mechanic, so when he heard what was up, he offered to help Kirk troubleshoot and get Michael P. Engine going again, once and for all!! It turns out it was an unusual situation where a bad o-ring in the fuel filter created an air leak, causing a back siphon into the fuel line. Don't worry if you don't understand that... it's complicated!


Kirk priming the fuel filter.

We are grateful to Mike for his ability to understand the situation and his help in remedying it! Fingers crossed, Michale P. Engine is now fully operational again... ready to roll as soon as we finish up the remainder of the niggly "repair before we go list" We don't want to bore you with too much detail, so suffice to say the list is shrinking daily and the light at the end of the tunnel is near.

A couple of tips for cruisers, things we've learned the hard way:

Tip #1: If you can help it, don't ever purchase a Whale Pumps Twist Deck Cockpit shower. This is the most inept shower system you can imagine, with a stiff and heavy hose and a showerhead that doesn't swivel... it's fixed and wants to spray straight UP, not down. Kirk has tried to re-work this shower about ten times to no avail, it's a very poor design.

Tip #2: In tropical hot climates, don't leave disposable batteries inside any small devices like flashlights and handheld GPSs etc. This might not be rocket science, but since we liveaboard in the tropics, and don't always use everything every day, it was a harsh reality to discover just how many batteries had leaked and ruined small electronic equipment. Best to remove batteries from small devices in the hot weather if you're not using them consistently. We'll be asking Santa for a new handheld GPS this year, let's just hope we've been good enough! :-)


Dinner aboard s/v Wings: Jimmy & Robin, Kirk, Judy, Heidi, Don & Lisa, photo by Fred.

Friends are starting to arrive in PV for the holiday or the winter season, and we were so glad to get in a good visit with our Seattle sailing buddies Jimmy & Robin from our Charisma racing days 20-years ago, for dinner aboard s/v Wings with Judy & Fred in La Cruz. It's also been fun to see our friends from Toronto, Wai-Lin and Ian. We thought we'd just miss them with our schedules, but since we're still here, it worked out!



Many thanks to all of you who've purchased Heidi's new book, the 90 Day Food, Mood, & Gratitude Journal. She is thrilled with how well it's been received by friends, family, and clients, as well as the Health Coaching community. She's also super excited to further her wellness education, by studying Functional Medicine over the next two years at the School of Applied Functional Medicine starting in January. If you or someone you know is sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, and not getting help from the traditional routes, Heidi is looking for more clients to work with for her functional medicine clinical case studies as part of her curriculum and would love to talk with you. Please reach out.

While we didn't make Barra de Navidad for Christmas, we still hope to be there for New Year's Eve to meet up with several other cruiser friends. In the meantime, we're grateful to Judy & Paul for hosting several of us sailing orphans for Christmas dinner at their condo. In spite of all the boat projects, we are so happy to be back home, sleeping in our own bed. And Tosh and Tikka are thrilled to be home too. They love exploring every new nook and cranny that gets opened up to work on a project. Plus Tosh loves playing with Kirk's tools!



May the love and spirit of the holiday season remain with you throughout the new year.

Peace on Earth, and LOVE to all of you.

❤️🎄
Heidi, Kirk, Tikka & Tosh


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 - Sara Goes to Sea: La Paz to Puerto Vallarta
Photos 1 to 51 of 51 | Main
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Sara goes to sea!
Our 380 nautical mile passage from La Paz to Banderas Bay took 60 hours from hook up to hook down.  If you
Sara arrived in La Paz the day before our departure and she and Heidi provisioned for three-weeks... er, uh, three-days! One thing
The watch schedule that works best for the two of us is 4-hours-on/4-hours-off during the night, and 6-ours-on/6-hours-off during the day. We modified that to have Sara
We cut Sara slack on keeping to the night watch schedule so she could hang out in this comfy "room with a view" bunk to get her beauty sleep and keep on cooking more phantasmagoric meals. ;-)
...Sara is a fabulous cook and she took over the galley making us FANTABULOUS meals every day. THANKS Sara!! xoxo
Frigate bird flying high over Due West
When Sara wasn
We take our off-watches seriously and get in as many winks as we can when ever we are off.   Even though we sleep in shorter chunks of time, we seem to get more sleep on passages than on the hook or at the dock. Ever the lover, Tosh is right there snuggling with who ever is off watch.
Flat-calm seas were the norm for about half of our trip across the Sea of Cortez. No wind meant motoring (which meant we could run the water maker!) and also meant we saw a LOT of sea turtles which are much easier to spot in the flat calm seas than rough seas.
We saw 10-12 endangered Olive Ridley  Sea Turtles while sailing across the Sea of Cortez from La Paz to Puerto Vallarta. And used the iNature App to track them as Citizen Scientists for "Project Sea Turtle" scientific research. (This photo copyright and courtesy of oliveridleyproject.org at http://oliveridleyproject.org/sea-turtles/.) When the seas are flat-calm you could easily spot large brown "blobs" on the surface of the water, which turned out to be sea turtles!
Navi-girl Heidi and Captain Kirk each host the SSB Amigo Net one day a week (Heidi on Monday mornings, Kirk on Tuesday mornings), 1400 Zulu on 4.149USB. This is a great opportunity to check in with other boats sailing in Mexico, "meet" new cruisers, or get a weather forecast for where ever you
We really love doing passages, and the night watches are our favorite with the beautiful stars, moon, sunsets, sunrises, and Orion always leading our way. Every sunrise and sunset is really different, just like snowflakes! Glad we don
Elliott Bay Marina friend and "Pirate Girl" Michele happened to be in La Cruz when we arrived, fun small world! Great to see you Michele! :-)
Heidi is in heaven at Organic Love restaurant in La Cruz. Check it out if you
Top of the list upon arriving in Banderas Bay was to hit the La Cruz Sunday market so Sara and Heidi could buy cute sundresses for $350 pesos!
Captain Kirk checking out the Five-Star view from friends Judy & Paul
Our celebration of the Festival of Guadalupe started with a walk down the Puerto Vallarta Malecon where someone had created this great Bienvenidos sand sculpture with the Virgin of Guadalupe herself...
Puerto Vallarta has a plethora of surrealistic sculptures all along the Malecón (walkway along the waterfront.) This fun ladder to the sky called "Searching for Reason" (En busca de la razón) by the famous Mexican artist, Sergio Bustamante had people climbing all over it. Not wanting to miss out on the adventure,  Sara and Heidi had to climb it too!
Our walk along the Malecón lead us to the Cathedral of Guadalupe where the Festival of Guadalupe was taking place. The whole town square across from the church (near Old Town) was filled with food vendors selling every imaginable Mexican treat, kids playing games, or painting pottery.
Our fantastic view of La Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe (The Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe) from the restaurant upstairs-left, and all the pilgrims and revelers.
The inside of La Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, decorated in pink and blue. Many of the pilgrims crawled in on their knees, like these two in front of us.  The church bells ring for every pilgrim entering the church, which was pretty much non-stop.
This little boy was wearing his finest Lady of Guadalupe clothing, complete with drawn-on mustache!
Cheers to Seattle cruising friends Judy and Paul who now live in PV full-time after years of cruising their sailboat to Ecuador and back. They were gracious hosts showing us around their new home city, and they knew just where to watch the Festival of Guadalupe festivities from! Thanks for a fantastic week guys! :-) xoxo
The parade of pilgrims on the evening of December 12, Dia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, went on all night long. Think "Torchlight Parade" in Seattle but for 24+ hours and with firecrackers and church bells ringing throughout the whole thing.  (Kirk says: but with no Hydroplanes or Seafair Pirates! :-)
Many of the local neighborhoods, civic clubs, branches of the armed services, and schools had their own groups in the parade, and some of them carried large images of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
There were a multitude of Aztec Dancers in various head-dresses, including these dancers dressed as hummingbirds.
Sara, Heidi and Kirk at the Festival of Guadalupe... La Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe is lit up in the background.
Sara, Heidi, Viviane, and Scott joining the revelers at Dia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, FUN time had by all!
Heidi working her Neal
Judy and Paul picked up Kirk and Sara at the marina and we all headed off for a beautiful day-hike along the south coast of Banderas Bay. The hike started south of Puerto Vallarta at Boca del Tomitlan...
The hiking trail leaves from the head of the bay at Boca del Tomitlan, passing all these fishing pangas in the river...
...the trail winds through jungle forest up and down steps and slopes, and Kirk was in his element in the great outdoors. ©SaraGiswold.
... five miles later the trail winds down to the beach with last mile plus hiking on the beach. After lunch on the beach in Las Ánimas we took a panga back to Boca and drove home from there. A great, fun hike! Thanks Judy & Paul!! :-D
Map of Banderas Bay, showing Due West
The small fishing village of Yelapa is only accessible by boat and the whole town is owned by the indigenous tribe that lives there, no one owns individual buildings or plots of land. A trip to Yelapa has been on our bucket list for years, so we were glad for this chance to finally visit. ©SaraGiswold.
View of Yelapa Bay from the trail that connects the village to the beach.
Tropical shadows cast on the cobblestone paths through the village, between houses, stores, and restaurants.
We LOVED this multi-cultural snapshot of life in Yelapa... a little blonde-haired white-girl pushing the little Mexican boy UP a steep cobblestone path on his BROKEN plastic trike (note front tire.) They were both jabbering away in Spanish...so cute! And race was SO not an issue... we could all take a lesson from this.
No cars, but plenty of burros, mules, and horses here in Yelapa!
We were so surprised by the variety and freshness of the produce available in the little tienda in the middle of Yelapa. We could hardly find this beautiful of produce in Puerto Vallarta!
Sara took this lovely shot of the Yelapa waterfall. This one was close to town, only a 5-minute walk.  There was apparently another, larger one about a 2-hour walk away which we didn
Interesting to see plastic milk crate strapped onto the backs of burros and mules in Yelapa. Maybe they carry more stuff than the traditional saddle-bags? ©SaraGiswold.
We happened upon Cafe Bahia in Yelapa and were SO glad we did! Fabulous vegen-gluten-free friendly food (they also have non veg and other stuff, but Heidi was thrilled with this find!) Check them out here http://bit.ly/2hVLXKd and stop in if you are ever in Yelapa, you won
Kirk and Sara with our beautiful, delicious food at Bahia Cafe.
We ordered a Passionfruit Margarita at Cafe Bahia, and it was so delicious Sara just had to take a selfi as she tried it (she can normally only drink a thimble-full of alcohol!) ©SaraGiswold.
If you
Marina Vallarta has a great Artisan Market on Thursday nights. Little did we know they also have crocodiles!?! This was taken right from the marina malecón. We made sure Tosh and Tikka did NOT go swimming here!
One of the local Huichol artisans at the Marina Vallarta Thursday Evening Market ~ this was the BEST artisan market we
We were in need of a new galley rug as our old one had worn out and been donated to the dog shelter in La Paz. This one from the Marina Vallarta Artisan Market caught our eye and we debated the size/color/pattern and care of wool rug on boat, but Sara threw in the deciding vote when she said "Bob would LOVE this one!" And so do we...Tikka and Tosh included. Merry Christmas to Due West (and Tikka and Tosh who love the Escher-like fish!)
Sara got this farewell shot of us and Due West at Marina Vallarta as she headed back home to Baja and Whidbey Island. We all had a WONDERFUL time and were so glad she could stay with us for 10-days, and that she got to experience an off-shore passage! We
 
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