A Cross Ocean Experience

Seven thousand miles of outstanding cruising since November 2008 means it's time to do a little renovation and more planning for the future. Find out what ...

20 February 2013 | Fishtail, Montana, USA
15 March 2011 | Swallow Falls State Park, Garrett County, MD
07 January 2011 | Deep Creek, MD
01 January 2011 | Tacoma, WA
17 December 2010 | Sierra Madre, CA
12 December 2010 | Leucadia, CA
12 December 2010 | Leucadia, Ca
12 December 2010 | Ramona, CA
06 December 2010 | Ramona, CA
06 December 2010 | Ramona, CA
20 November 2010 | New Orleans, LA
13 November 2010 | Lexington, KY
09 November 2010 | Louiville, KY
05 November 2010 | Lexington. KY
01 November 2010 | Deltaville, VA
29 October 2010 | Deltaville, VA
22 October 2010 | Deltaville, VA
08 October 2010 | Deltaville, VA

Water, Water Everywhere...

08 April 2009 | Zihuatanejo, Gro. MX

Acquiring water to drink is one of the most important activities aboard a cruising vessel, next to acquiring wine and bread that is.

Most of our fellow cruising boats have water makers which take sea water and through a process of reverse osmosis turn it into good potable drinking water which is also used for showers and washing up etc. These water makers are both a blessing and a curse.They have pumps, filters and seals that all can fail and the system requires constant use and attention in order to stay healthy. We have encountered many boats waiting in anchorages and marinas for parts for their water makers to be shipped from the U.S.or Canada.We spent very little time considering one on board Mandy because our space is so limited and we would have needed to upgrade our charging ability beyond our two solar panels (more money and work).

We are dependant on finding potable water in the places we visit. We treat it for storage in our tanks with either chlorine tablets or a small amount of bleach. There is an added bonus in getting our water this way; we have the pleasure of meeting people like Hilda and Ismael who work the Zihuatanejo Bay. They deliver water, diesel and even groceries if you want. Hilda wears skin tight dresses in riotous colours on her generous frame. Her hair is a wild grey profusion, due in part to the speed she goes in her panga (a fast, sturdy launch). Her husband Ismael gets her loaded up each day from his small operations hub near the dock, where he receives orders over his handheld VHS. Then she is off and running with her two young men who do the grunt work; lifting the heavy 5 gallon bottles from the panga up onto the deck of boats such as ours ,Hilda just does the money nowadays. This water is used and delivered by a purification company just like "Sparklets" all over town. The empty bottles are then returned, cleaned and refilled again.

Our water tanks when full hold around 75 gallons or 280 liters. That can last us a month with careful conservation and recycling. We each have a shower every 2-3 days and wash satisfactorily in a bowl in between. We drink a lot of water as it is easy to get dehydrated out in the open ocean under strong sun and we use our 'grey water' to wipe down Mandy's varnish and to sprinkle over our wind vane (a self steering unit) to stop it becoming encrusted with salt.

Next time you turn on the tap, spare a thought for all those whose hard work brings precious water to you, fresh clean and ready to use, for without them it would be a dreary and thirsty old world.

Pan por favor?

06 April 2009 | Zihuatanejo, Gro. MX

In the Mexican Gold Coast town of Barra de Navidad there is a "French Baker" who delivers excruciatingly fresh croissants, baguettes and delectable patisserie Francais daily to the lucky cruisers in the town's marina and out at the lagoon anchorage. But the larger problem arises once one weighs anchor and heads off to the next destination.

Nothing improves the day more than a fragrant crusty loaf of bread, cut in thick slices and smothered in real butter. The act of bread making stirs an organic and deeply satisfying connectivity to our past. Bread is life. It is woven intrinsically into our western culture from breaking our fast to enriching our evening meal. Many religious ceremonies revolve around it and whether leaven or un-leaven, most western cultures desire bread as they desire water.

Cruising the tranquil waters of Mexico's west coast is sublime and one of my favorite moments has been when, seconds after buying a half kilo of hot fresh corn tortillas from a small tortillieria, we folded them one after another into quarters and bit down into their steaming pillowy freshness, until the half kilo was a shadow of its former self.

Mexico's boletos (white rolls) from the panaderia are good, but we found ourselves craving seven grain and crusty olive loaves. Mexico's other bread is always Bimbo a close relative to America's Wonder Bread and although Bimbo Integral (whole wheat) is available, the best thing one can say about it as a cruiser is that it never goes mouldy. It is not uncommon to find loaves of Bimbo Bread in the small local grocery stores with a suspect layer of dust coating the plastic wrapper. Go figure!

It took me exactly two loaves of Bimbo Integral to start baking our own bread on board. I have a very small oven but it just accommodates one small round loaf and a larger oblong one. This easy recipe will hit the spot when the white boletos and corn tortillias are gone and the French Baker is far out of VHS contact.

Easy Seven Grain Bread

2 Loaves: Yeast Mix - ¼ cup warm water,
2 packets or 3 tbl. dried yeast
1 tsp. honey

Other - 1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup seven grain cereal
2 ¼ cups warm water
2 tbl. Brown sugar
¾ tbl. Sea salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups white flour (unprocessed)
3 cups whole wheat flour

First mix the yeast with warm water and honey in a small bowl and stir until dissolved. Leave it in a warm place to activate while you mix the other ingredients together in a large bowl. When the yeast mix is frothy, add to the flours/cereals etc.and work in together to form a dough. Knead on a floured board for five minutes until dough is well mixed and return to an oiled bowl for rising. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and place in a warm area (under a sunny deck) to rise until double in size.
Knead again on the board and divide into two. Knead each loaf and shape. Place in oiled loaf tins and rise again until the dough is doubled again (half an hour).
Place carefully into a pre-heated 375 degree oven and bake for 45 minutes.

DMV comes through

20 November 2008 | Mission Bay, San Diego
Virginia Cross
It is Thursday November 19th, the day we had hoped to be throwing off the dock lines. However while checking through our paperwork a couple of weeks ago we found we had lost the original copy of our boat registration. The DMV assured us that they could get the duplicate to us in two weeks - low and behold it arrived today right on schedule. Nothing wrong with that government run office. Socialism looks more and more attractive by the day.
Our new departure day is Saturday morning 11-22, which also happens to be Richard's birthday. We should arrive in Ensenada early on Monday morning just as the customs and immigration is opening up.
We should be heading south with all the expectant mother whales on their way to Magdalena Bay to calve. If I get any whaley photos I'll be blogging in Ensenada. Keep your fingers crossed.

Last minute stuff

17 November 2008 | Mission Bay, San Diego
Virginia Cross
It is Monday morning and we have finally recovered from the effects of our Bon Voyage party that began at 1030 Saturday morning and lasted until almost midnight. "Cousin Dave" our closest boat neighbor had made 175 multicolored Jello shots (his signature party effort) and the next day I felt as though I had had more than my fair share. We had a rough estimate of 80 people who made the time to come and see us before we got off, many from as far away as Los Angeles. We were very happy to see every one of them. Photo below is of Mandy's saloon area, before the festivities began. You don't want to know what it looked like after - imagine a scene from "Deadwood" after a bar brawl. We were moving very carefully on Sunday, but today it is full steam ahead with the last minute preparations and packing. Thanks to everyone who came to see us bringing food, wine and jollity.


10 November 2008
Virginia Cross
In the foreground is our boat guru Barron Parker. For the past five years, whenever we have not known the answer to something engine or boat related, we have turned to Barron. His boat knowledge is awesome. He has taught us to do fiberglass repairs, varnishing, metal work, and engine stuff as well as being a constant source of places to go to find the parts we need for the thousands of projects. So, thank you Barron, we will never know how to repay you for your wisdom and hours of help.

Our new Dutch friends Jan and Yolanda, who plan to leave San Diego at the same time as us made us laugh when we used a free internet service to translate their recent blog post:
"We were invited to a party at Saturday, November 15 at Seaporth Marina where Richard and Virginia are. Do not know whether we go. Could be that we have left, because the urge to release it starts each day to be stiffer. The Saudade should fly!"
We'll do our best to catch up with them, but it will read like the tortoise and the hare story as 'The Saudade' is a big fast sexy racing boat.

The Extra Special Official Looking Stamp

08 November 2008
Virginia Cross
We brought home our 'extra special official looking' stamp today. Here it is!
In her book "The Voyager's Handbook" Beth Leonard attests to the fact that although not a requirement, such a stamp is very well received by immigration officials all over the world. You know how they love to bang their own stamps all over your paperwork. Well now you can reciprocate and then sign with a flourish. We can't wait. lets hope it gets the right reaction from them and we don't find ourselves being hauled off to jail instead.
We are down to our last ten days. The lists are actually getting pared down. We went for our final jabs yesterday, so we are now vaccinated against Hepatitis A & B, Yellow Fever and Tetanus as well as a host of boosters to our childhood ones. As usual we were kept waiting endlessly until the bemusing machinations of private healthcare spat us out two and a half hours later with a three figure bill. Yikes, there goes more of our sailing kitty.
Vessel Name: Mandy
Vessel Make/Model: Bristol Channel Cutter 28 - http://www.capegeorgecutters.com/BCC28/index.html
Hailing Port: San Diego, CA USA
Crew: Richard & Virginia Cross
Having spent 30 years in the racehorse business we felt it was time for a different kind of adventure. Both originally from England we have sailed for fun for over 30 years. We have owned MANDY for five of those and are planning to head south for Mexico etc. in November 2008 - ready or not. [...]

There Goes Mandy!

Who: Richard & Virginia Cross
Port: San Diego, CA USA