Due West Adventures

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

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
26 February 2017 | Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, MX
30 January 2017 | La Cruz, Nayarit, MX
24 December 2016 | Banderas Bay, Mexico

Interloping Iguanas & The Banderas Bay Sand Trap

27 June 2019 | Puerto Vallarta
Heidi & Kirk Hackler
Happy Summer!

We continue to re-live our amazing Cuban adventures, and feel so lucky to have visited just before the US once again slammed the door hard on Cuba, claiming that they are instigating unrest in Venezuela and Nicaragua. But if you have visited this small Caribbean nation, you'd know that's not very likely. If you missed our Cuba blog posts, please be sure to check them out. And if you're inclined to visit Cuba, you can fly there via Mexico or Canada. The Cuban government won't stamp your passport, just your Tourist Card that they keep before you depart. They'd still LOVE to have your tourism dollars. And our lovely tour guide Bel is waiting for your arrival! Let us know if you need more info.

Summer is here in Puerto Vallarta along with the heat and humidity. When we're out on the hook (anchored in a bay) the heat and humidity aren't such a big deal. The breeze generally cools things off, and we can always jump in the water and go for a swim.


We're grateful every day for our summer condo-sitting digs, beach walks, swims, and closer proximity to town.

Yet when we're at the dock in a marina (like we have been for the past couple of years), the heat and humidity become almost unbearable. Luckily we've once again been invited to condo-sit for our good friends Judy & Paul, which means not only do we have air conditioning, we also have laundry, hot showers, a life-size fridge and freezer, a beach, and five swimming pools! Wahoo!!


Summer Solstice POOL PARTY! Clockwise: Capi, Don, Heidi, Liz, Karla and Lisa.

The things that most of you take for granted in life, like being able to wash a load of clothes whenever you want, keep food frozen, or take a hot shower... not a reality aboard Due West or most cruising sailboats. So we're grateful for this opportunity, and Tosh & Tikka love running around the large condo, and finding new places to nap... but we also miss our sailboat-home.


Tikka napping on the bookshelf. It's a cat's life...

Speaking of Tosh & Tikka, they both got a clean bill of health from the vet this week... except that they both need to lose a bit of weight! So they're now on a pumpkin diet, and getting lots of exercise running around the condo. Tosh's cancer is either totally gone, or at least not causing him any problems (we have decided not to do another invasive procedure to find out for sure.) And he's acting like a normal, healthy 5-year old cat (how did they get to be that old?!) We are very grateful to Holistic Animal Remedies in Australia for their cancer-fighting homeopathic tinctures. They ship to the US within about a week to 10-days. Thanks Wai-Lin for cluing us into them as well!!


Tosh the guard-dog, er, uh, CAT! He's part Siamese and they were bred to be guards. True to his genes, he's always laying across the threshold of the boat companionway or condo door. Anyone who enters must be approved by Tosh first!

A few days before we moved into the condo Tosh & Tikka were SO perplexed by this interloper, they didn't know if they should chase it away or run and hide! Heidi finally shooed it off the boat and into the water because our guard-cat Tosh was looking like he would to attack it. Iguanas are great swimmers and climbers, but we'd never had one aboard before. Too funny!


Click the image to watch the video, it's pretty cool!

Kirk has been teaching a few people to meditate here in PV, and may soon be teaching meditation at a local retreat. He also visits Due West daily (a short 10-minute bus ride away), and keeps busy working on a myriad of boat projects, including installing our new cockpit shower so one day soon we'll have hot showers aboard too... Once we get the engine running again that is! Read on below about Michael P, our trusty engine that could... until it couldn't.



Heidi stays super active with her holistic wellness business Happy Well Lifestyle, blogging, co-writing a book on the benefits of eating an anti-inflammatory diet for auto immune diseases, and with Neal's Yard Remedies, where she's just been asked to be a speaker at their national conference. And she's still doing a bit of graphic design and web design for long-time clients.

Living at the condo also makes us a short 10-minute bus ride into town for beach yoga, urban hiking, and other festivities like the vibrant Pride Parade! We're really proud of this city for all the LOVE it gives back to the LGBT+ community. The police and military showed their support as well as hundreds of community members in floats and on foot in this hour-long colorful parade.



One of the things we love most about summer in PV is the tourist crowds significantly drop off and we practically have this lovely city to ourselves! Instead of 2-3 cruise ships a day, there is only one a week. So this is the perfect time to come down and visit us! July and August bring the Mexicans on vacation, as Nationals from around the country descend to play on la playa. The Mexican families love their beach-time.


Heidi, Kirk and Judy picking up plastic trash off the beach on World Ocean's Day, June 8th.

Unfortunately, some of the beach-goers don't consider cleaning up after themselves. We've been taking daily beach walks with our garbage bags and picking up lots of litter, and little bits of plastic on the beach. Sadly we're seeing all too much micro-plastic on the beach (almost the size of grains of sand--in neon blue, green, yellow, orange, red - we're pretty sure sand doesn't normally come in those colors!?) Knowing that seabirds and marine mammals are dying from stomachs full of plastic, it's really eye opening to see all the little bits of plastic on the beaches.


Just when we thought we were "done" collecting trash for the day, we turned the corner to see this pile of flotsam including a green toy car, that had washed down the river after the first big rain of the season. Foot for scale.

PLEASE consider alternatives to your single-use plastics, or better yet, no plastic at all. Think about where you can replace plastics with other options. There are now great alternatives like these biodegradable avocado-pit straws, reusable silicone "zip-lock" bags, and of course all types of reusable grocery bags. We both learned as kids to "always leave any place cleaner than you found it", and we're trying our best, but some days it feels like the plastic is winning.


The Mirador de la Cruz hiking club: Sharna, Liz, Heidi, Judy, Capitán. Though it's all stairs straight up from the water, the view from the top is spectacular and well worth it. Surprisingly after you've done the stair-climb a few days in a row, it actually gets easier?!

We've also been hiking up the Mirador de La Cruz, an urban stair-climb up above the city of Puerto Vallarta. It is a fantastic workout with a spectacular view as the reward. And we're picking up trash along that hike too. Part of the garbage issue is that PV has a very antiquated garbage collection system, where people pile their trash up on street corners every day. And the garbage trucks pick it up. Except when the bags get torn open by dogs or birds (luckily there aren't a lot of scavengers here), and what spills out doesn't always get picked up. So there is a lot of garbage along the streets, which seems to encourage people to just toss their trash anywhere they are.

One day we actually witnessed an older woman pick up an empty plastic water bottle off the sidewalk, and stuff it into the crook of a tree?! Everywhere we see garbage stuffed into bushes, shrubs, nooks, and crannies. It's the oddest thing!? Then again there are also very few garbage cans on the streets, and almost none at bus stops, where a lot of trash seems to accumulate. The trash problem is one of the few downsides we've found about PV.


Liz and Capitán picking up basura (trash) on the hike down from Mirador de la Cruz. Happy to have picked it up, but disgusted that we had to...

We also try to be conscious to not view Mexico through "US eyes." However, we've heard many Mexicans complain about this poor garbage collection system as well. And apparently PV is one of the last remaining Mexican cities to still be collecting trash this way. We just signed a local petition to revamp the garbage collection system here. Once rainy season starts (rapidly approaching), much of the trash ends up flowing down the streets as they become rivers, eventually making their way to the ocean. So the more we can clean up on the streets, maybe the less we'll have to clean up on the beach!



And now the moment you've all been waiting for. WTF is up with our engine?! Michael P Engine has been our trusty pal for 27-years and 3,000 hours. (That's one year longer than we've been married, we just celebrated our 26th anniversary!) With Kirk's diligent care, it's never failed us once. Until the camshaft and timing belt both broke over a year ago, and then we started replacing the engine bit-by-bit. As Kirk installed part after part, each time THIS was going to be the part that fixed everything... and then it wasn't. Many friends "muled" engine parts down to us when they visited, and for that we are grateful!


Cuz 4 hands are better than 2, Heidi got to help work on the engine too!

Turns out these ongoing engine issues were all caused by a microscopic leak of coolant (antifreeze) inside the front of the engine. It was in a part that was inaccessible, in an area that you just couldn't see unless you started dismantling the entire engine. This leak may actually have been there for years and years, or even since day-one. We don't know, and it was small enough that it didn't affect the coolant level. But when those tiny droplets of antifreeze hit the hot engine and evaporated, overtime that caused corrosion to the crankshaft, to the point where the oil pump seal can no longer seal against it. This is a BIG HUGE Bummer... It's leaking almost 1 quart of oil every 24-hours. Gulp...

What that means in lay-person terms, is that our engine is basically toast. In order to replace the crankshaft, we'd have to pull the whole engine up off the mounts, and there are so many parts to be removed in the process, most of which "should" be replaced if you're already going to have the engine pulled... and the parts for this old Perkins M50 just aren't available any more. A re-build would cost half or more of a new engine - and then we'd still be left with a 27-year old engine that could fail elsewhere at any time.


It's a family affair, ever the helper Tosh was also helping us work on Michael P Engine!

We're continuing our recon, and are open to suggestions from any engine experts out there. But at this point it's looking like we need to re-power... which costs about as much as buying a new car. YIKES!! That was NOT in the cruising budget. We truly thought Michael P would last forever. Or at least as long as we decided to cruise. So now we're leaving engine parts under our pillow in the hopes that the engine fairy will bring us money to buy a new one!? LOL...

In the meantime, we couldn't be "stuck" in a better locale. Although we do wonder about the Banderas Bay Sand Trap, and why the Universe won't let us leave yet?! Hum...

Hope you're all having a wonderful summer wherever this finds you. Check out more pix from this post in our gallery.

Tosh and Tikka send their love, as do we!


It's almost 5pm, Dad will be arriving in the metal box soon to make us dinner!

P.S. Leaving you with a little bathroom humor in case you're inclined to origami your toilet paper into a sailboat - pretty clever!

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 - Viva Cuba! Part 1: It’s Complicated
Photos 1 to 59 of 59 | Main
1
Classical colonial home with tropical Havana colors and palm trees.
Havana: vintage American cars,  horse and buggies, and bright-colored Cuban architecture, it
Our travel destinations marked in pink: Havana, Cienfuegos, Canarreos Archipelago, Trinidad, and Viñales. We visited the Northwest 1/3 of Cuba.
Women Who Sail Cuba! Valerie, Heidi, and Teresa with our WWS Burgees.
Our Salty Crew: Valerie, Rob, Kelly, Capitána Teresa, Heidi, and Kirk visiting Palacio de Valle in Cienfuegos.
Bel became our trusted tour guide and friend, sharing so much information about her lovely island nation.
Bel and crew: Rob, Teresa, Kelly, Val, and Heidi in the courtyard of a Spanish Colonial merchant home in Havana.
Courtyard view of typical Spanish Colonial merchant home: The ground floors were used as mercantiles and storage for food and other dry goods, easily transported by horse carts from the nearby wharfs. The second floors with balconies that overlooked the courtyard were merchant offices, accounting, etc. The top most third floor and rooftop terrace were where the merchants lived with their families.
Cuban produce carts and small tiendas carried mostly garlic, onions, plantains, cucumbers, potatoes, peppers, cassava root, sweet potato, cabbage, papaya, pineapple, mango, and tiny bananas.
We also saw lots of bicycle vendors with braided ropes of garlic and onions throughout our Cuban travels.
Busted! We weren
On our approach to Havana the pilot announced that the Havana airport had temporarily closed (???) and we would be circling for a bit.... one hour later the airport finally reopened and we landed at 12:30am, after a low approach.
Hostal Aeropuerto, our Casa Particular for the first night, sent Dayari, "a yellow haired woman in a blue car" to pick us up from the airport. Dayari was super friendly and greeted us with a smile and "Bienvenidos a Cuba!" A much nicer welcome than we
A typical Cuban "tourist" breakfast consists of: yogurt, eggs, bread, fresh tropical fruit, coffee, juice, and milk. All things that Heidi can
... we brought lots of organic, complete-meal protein and energy bars that Heidi ate for breakfast every day. We also saved every single wrapper and brought them all back to with us, not wanting to add our packaged food wrappers to this lovely island
In the suburbs of Havana we passed many Eastern-European-style residential buildings from the Castro era.
Our first view of the Havana neighborhood where we
It was very common to see someone
Brightly painted houses fill Havana
This house was down the street from our first Casa Particular in Havana, and similar to where we stayed, although the one we stayed in was in a lot better state of repair. Bel
The "panorama" feature of the camera put a curve in this photo which is actually a flat wall mural. It is made entirely of crushed stones of various colors, mixed with epoxy, see inset. No paint was used. It
Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, the Palace of the Captains & Generals is the former official residence of the Spanish governors of Havana, Cuba. Located on the the Plaza de Armas in Old Havana it is home to the Museum of the City of Havana. Legend has it that one of the former governors wives couldn
Faro Castillo del Morro is the lighthouse at the entrance to Havana Harbor. It was built in 1845 on the ramparts of the Castillo de los Tres Reyes Magos del Morro, an old fortress guarding the harbor of Havana. In case you
Artistic grafiti is everywhere in Havana and adds to the cultural color.
Street artists are everywhere selling colorful paintings depicting Ché, Cubanos, classic cars, and tropical scenes.
We LOVE the Stones tongue tail lights on this concert poster! With Rock and Roll being banned in Cuba for many years, and rumors of people even going to jail for listening to the Beatles in the past, the  first Rolling Stones concert in Cuba was a BIG DEAL, as evidenced by this poster still hanging 3 years later. The Stones played for FREE on March 25, 2016 to an estimated 500,000 Cubans in Havana. Some lucky tourists who happened to be there that day also attended the show which was originally slated to be held on March 20th, but had to be changed as the Obamas were arriving that same day. Due to the US embargo, the Stones had to ship all of their equipment from Belgium. They also had a difficult time setting up the stage/sound system as they typically hire local roadies where ever they perform. But in Cuba there ain
More graffiti pop-art in Cuba from Ché to the Beatles to the Stones and PEACE!
We talked to this young artist creating a piece for La Biennial de Havana. He explained his medium was using epoxy to glue paper cones into every hole he could find in this crumbling building. He said filling the holes represented filling the holes inside of all of us where things were broken or missing... and also represented fixing the broken and missing parts of a Country... trying to make it whole again. So fascinating!  -- La Biennial de Havana is an Art Exhibition that takes place in Havana every two years. It principally aims at promoting the developing world in contemporary art circles, giving priority to Latin American and Caribbean artists, although artists from all over the world submit works. It started the day we left, so we didn
A fun photo opp for the passengers in a beautiful
Mojitos anyone?! Because limes are so precious in Cuba, most Mojitos we had in Cuba did not have a lime garnish...
The live Cuban music at La Bodeguita del Medio was fun, check out a short video clip here: https://youtu.be/ajQq-2FTwzQ.
Faded glory: 1920
Two Art Noveau architecture details from the 1920
The dome ceiling of the former Presidential Palace of dictator Bautista, now housing the Museum of the Revolution.
The Museum of the Revolution: (top left) José Martí, a 19th Century Cuban poet, essayist, journalist, translator, professor, and publisher, who is considered a national hero and an important figure in Latin American literature; (top right) Ernesto Ché Guevera, a major figure of the 1959 Cuban Revolution, whose stylized image has become a ubiquitous countercultural symbol of rebellion and global insignia in popular culture; (bottom) a 1959 propaganda poster of Fidel Castro overthrowing dictator Batista.
The Museum of the Revolution: The "Granma", a legendary 63
The Museum of the Revolution: Tail of American Douglass A29 twin-engine light bomber was was shot down in the Bay of Pigs. Castro had been a concern to U.S. policymakers since he seized power in Cuba with a revolution in January 1959. The Bay of Pigs invasion began when a CIA-financed and -trained group of Cuban refugees landed in Cuba and attempted to topple the government of Fidel Castro. The attack was a total failure and the US abandoned the Cuban troops on the ground with no air or Navy support. This US plane was painted in Cuban aircraft colors but flown by CIA American pilots. After the fact, the US government claimed to have known nothing about the downed plane or to have been in Cuba at all. You do the math...
The Museum of the Revolution: Soviet and US planes on display.
Havana had a few small bookstores, mostly filled with Cuban history and propaganda books like these. Many books on Cuban History, Fidel, Ché, and the Revolution were available at tourist trinket shops in Spanish, English, or Russian. One bookstore touted books by Aldous Huxley, Friedrich Nietzsche, Noam Chomsky, Sigmund Freud, and other would philosophers. We found it interesting that these free-thinking books would be allowed in Cuba.
We visited Iglesia de Nuestra Señnora de Regla, or the church of the Black Virgin. Senora de Regla, (quite likely a conglomeration of an African Yoruba goddess and a Christian saint), has been the patron saint of sailors and seagoing voyagers for hundreds of years. Not being at all religious, but realizing that we were a group of sailors headed off on a 70-mile sea-going voyage the very next day, we lit a blue candle and asked for fair winds. When in Rome... er, uh, Cuba! Note the ships Anchor at the top of the ceiling.
This passenger ferry is one of the few boats that Cubans are allowed to ride on, 15-minutes across Havana Harbor. Several years ago one of the ferries was hijacked to head to Florida, with a couple of unsuspecting tourists aboard. The boat was stopped and returned safely, but the hijackers were jailed for "harming tourists."
Just a typical tourist waiting to catch the ferry across Havana Harbor.
Early morning photo opp with the Classic Cars parked together. Shortly after, they all take off to different parts of the city for Classic Car Taxi Tours.  Cars range from late 1940
Initially we weren
Beautiful, rare example of a 1953 Chevy wagon. There are very few station wagons in Cuba, and this was the most cherry of them all.
1954 Teal Caddy on the Malecon stands out among a plethora of pink classic cars. We saw very few Caddies in Cuba and this was the nicest of them.
Captain Kirk is drooling... normally a Chevy guy, he
A flashy green and silver 1957 Ford sits in front of the Floridita, Hemingway
Fins to the left... 1950
This 1920
Havana
A beautiful example of deco residential architecture, we passed this building several times in one of the Havana neighborhoods we stayed in.  In an ironic time-warp, there
The National Theater is a beautiful building in the daytime, and even more so at night. This is the home of the famous Havana Ballet. We
Heidi the pedi-cab luggage wrangler!
Marina Hemingway is a famous marina to many sailors and we were excited to check it out. Unlike most marinas, this one consists of four parallel canals, each ¼-mile long, with side-ties on both sides. There are also hotels, homes, and restaurants along each canal. Most cruising sailors visiting Cuba will check-in here.
From Havana to Cienfuegos, sugarcane fields are common... running alongside 4-lane highways with virtually no vehicles... maybe an occasional horse cart, or motorcycle, a car now and then, or a tractor, it was one of the most empty highways we
Canarreos Archipelago, a National Park and our charter boat cruising grounds would be a 70-mile, 12-hour day passage from Cienfuegos Bay to Cayo Largo.
Arrival at Platten Yacht Charter, Cienfuegos. What you don
WTF? Where
 
1