Due West Adventures

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

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
20 December 2016 | Banderas Bay
27 November 2016 | La Paz, B.C.S. Mexico
14 November 2016 | Bahia San Carlos Mexico
17 October 2016 | San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico

¡La Vida es Chula!

17 March 2019 | Puerto Vallarta
Heidi & Kirk Hackler
Es la Vida...Life is what happens while you're busy making plans. So much for our plans to sail south for a few months, high tide washed them away...

Between a trip to the states for Heidi's dad's 88th birthday (where we had to wear WAY too many clothes!) and running into yet another engine glitch... Life is great!

The 88th Birthday King Verne and his wife Willa.

If we have to be stuck in paradise awaiting another engine part, at least we have visits from friends and family, and plenty of fun things to do! We had a fantastic time in February when two sets of friends visited us and we got to share whale watching in Banderas Bay with Laura & Will and Lal & Eric. Laura & Will also brought us some boat parts, and a few other items from the states that we can't find in Mexico. This week we have Heidi's brother Arne, sis-in-law Teresa, and our niece Annika, plus several of Anni's friends coming to hang out in Puerto Vallarta for spring break. Life is great!

Clockwise from left: Lal, Heidi, Judy, and Laura whale watching on a Juan Bravo Panga tour.

A lunch stop at Maraika Beach Club is always a delicious treat, and this time was no exception! Eulalie (Lal), Eric, Judy, Will, Heidi, and Kirk.

As you may recall, we had our engine water pump rebuilt here in Mexico last spring. Sadly the the rebuild was faulty... so BIG thanks Arne & Teresa for bringing us a brand new water pump this week! This is no small feat, as our 20 year old Perkins engine is no longer manufactured and spare parts are becoming harder to find. Luckily Kirk has a good stable of Perkins part dealers around the US, and when we need something he is usually able to find a part, but they are becoming fewer and further between, several times we've bought the last one available! With any luck at all, our trusty engine "Michael P" will be up and running, with leak-free oil and water pumps again by next week! Life is great!

Our most exciting news of late, is that Tosh is a medical miracle! He's recovering nicely from his nasal tumor, thanks to Homeopathic remedies from Australia! We have been extremely happy with the results from Holistic Animal Remedies, (another BIG THANKS to friends Wai-Lin & Terry for turning us on to them!) In fact, Tosh's vet here in Vallarta is blown away. He actually asked us for the information on what remedies we've been treating Tosh with, because he's never seen an animal recover from a nasal tumor like this. We've opted not to do another invasive biopsy procedure to confirm it's really all gone... but we are over the moon with Tosh's revived personality, increased energy levels, easier time eating, gaining weight again, and even the shape of his face is going back to normal. Kirk is excited to have his journeyman mechanic back helping him again! Tikka is also very excited that Tosh is back to chasing her around and pouncing on her while she's sleeping (NOT!), as siblings will do... We can hear her say "He's touching me!" Life is great!

Since we are currently short on time to write and long on photos this post is primarily a photo blog. A photo is worth 1000 words anyway, so sit back, relax, and enjoy! Be sure to check out our photo gallery for more photos of friends, family, and adventures around Banderas Bay!

A trip into PV wouldn't be complete without a stop at our favorite juice stand... on a street corner, they have a power cord running into a building, and run two blenders and a hand juicer making any combination of fresh juice to go. $30 pesos for a pint ($1.50 US) Heidi's fav is toronja, perejil, y jengibre (grapefruit, parsley and ginger, try it, it's SO refreshing!!) Kirk likes betabel, zanahoria, y jengibre (beets, carrots, and ginger, also super yummy and great for your heart!)

Another local attraction we love to share with visitors is the hike from Boca de Tomatlan to Las Animas. This 3-mile section of trail (one-way) winds up through lush jungle and open forest with ocean views, past waterfalls, and back down along the beach. Those who are more intrepid can continue another 1.5 miles to Quimixto, or 7-miles all the way to Yelapa. Water Taxis are available for the return for those who don't want to hike back. We recently hiked this trail with friends and fellow cruisers, Judy & Paul from s/v Grace, and Christina & Alex from s/v Blue Wind.

The trail is well maintained and well traveled through the jungle which would otherwise quickly take back the trail... Remember, just because you didn't see the Jaguar, doesn't mean he didn't see you!

The trail crosses playa Colomitas and winds up the hill giving an exquisite view back down onto Colomitas beach and the boardwalk trail along the shore we'd just walked on.

If you're thirsty at the end of your hike, fresh Cocos await! They'll machete off the top for you to drink the coconut water out of. Then when you're done drinking, they'll machete it in half and scoop out the coconut meat for a yummy snack!

What could be better than an old car show complete with Pink Cadillac and palm trees? Stay tuned for our next blog post to find out!

La vida es chula! (Life is Great!)

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Heidi & Kirk, Tosh & Tikka

PS. Check out our photo gallery for more photos of friends, family, and adventures around Banderas Bay!
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.)