Sailing on Starshine

Vessel Name: Starshine
Vessel Make/Model: Outbound 44
Hailing Port: San Francisco, CA
Crew: Pat and Melodie Williams
About: We have been "working the plan" since 2004 when Pat began taking sailing lessons. That lead to a few sailing vacations on sailboats. Melodie took some classes too. We purchased our boat in 2011.
16 December 2014 | La Cruz de Huanacaxtle
16 December 2014 | La Cruz de Huanacaxtle
09 December 2014 | La Cruz, Mexico
09 December 2014 | Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico
03 December 2014 | Mazatlan to Chacala, Mexico
03 December 2014 | Mazatlan, Mexico
27 November 2014 | Mazatlan, Mexico
27 November 2014 | El Cid Marina, Mazatlan Mexico
24 November 2014 | Mazatlan, Mexico
18 November 2014 | La Paz BCS MX
16 November 2014 | Baja California Sur, MX
16 November 2014 | La Paz BCS MX
09 November 2014 | Cabo San Lucas, BCS Mexico
09 November 2014 | Bahia Santa Maria, BCS Mexico
09 November 2014 | Turtle Bay, BCS Mexico
26 October 2014 | San Diego CA
18 October 2014 | Southwestern YC - San Diego
08 October 2014 | Southwestern YC - San Diego
04 October 2014 | Oceanside CA
04 October 2014 | Oceanside
Recent Blog Posts
27 February 2019 | Alameda California

Goodbye Starshine

Melodie and I have accepted an offer on Starshine. We close escrow on March 8, 2019.

26 February 2019 | Mazatlan to San Francisco

The Baja Bash

Preparing for the Baja Bash (the trip north from Mexico to California). They call it “The Bash” because the prevailing winds and waves are from the northwest. So you are basically going uphill (if that makes any sense).

26 February 2019 | Mazatlan Sinaloa Mexico

Summer 2018

As many of you who have followed our blog over the last four years you’ll note that I have not given it any attention since last spring. So let me fill in the blanks.

01 May 2018 | El Cid - Mazatlan

Marina El Cid - Mazatlan

Today is Tuesday May 1, 2018.

09 April 2018 | Marina Mazatlan

Marina Mazatlan

Today is Monday April 9, 2018.

07 March 2018 | La Cruz de Huanacaxtle

Leaving Banderas Bay

Today is Wednesday March 7, 2018.

Goodbye Starshine

27 February 2019 | Alameda California
Pat Williams | Cold and Rainy
Melodie and I have accepted an offer on Starshine. We close escrow on March 8, 2019.

Starshine has been a great boat for us and we enjoyed our time on her since we bought her in August 2011. She's been our home since we moved aboard in June of 2013. We sailed her south from San Francisco Bay in August of 2014 making our way to Mexico. She has always kept us safe and has been a joy to live on. We've met so many great people and had some wonderful adventures with her. We will always cherish the memories of her and especially the people along the way.

We hope you've enjoyed following along with us. We will continue to travel in our Lance truck camper for the foreseeable future. We aren't yet sure where will make our permanent home, but Arizona is in the running.

We'll be spending the spring in Prescott AZ where we've rented a small apartment. Pat has hand surgery and needs 4-8 weeks of physical therapy to recover. Then we move on to new adventures.

Fair winds and following seas!

The Baja Bash

26 February 2019 | Mazatlan to San Francisco
Pat Williams | Windy
Preparing for the Baja Bash (the trip north from Mexico to California). They call it “The Bash” because the prevailing winds and waves are from the northwest. So you are basically going uphill (if that makes any sense).

We contracted with my friend Arnstein Mustad, who runs his own boat delivery business Mustad Marine, to get the boat north. There were some schedules to juggle. We first thought we would set sail to CA in late October. This ended up changing to mid-November. I took this time to finally fix our fuel issue by changing all the copper tubing supply lines over to rubber. Problem solved. We had a few other things fixed in preparation for her sale once we got back to the USA.

It had always been in our plan that once we were done cruising, Melodie would not be on board for the bash and I would use crew to get the boat north. Starshine made it to the San Francisco Bay area covering 1400 NM in 15 days! Melodie flew out of MZT to visit her sister in NC on Nov 16. She said goodbye to the warm MX weather and hello to the cool US weather.

Arnstein and one crew (Dennis) arrived in MZT on Nov 18. We squared things away and departed MZT on Tuesday Nov 20, 2018.

We had a great sail over to Cabo San Lucas, sailing 23 of the 25 hours at over 8 kts. We spent Thanksgiving in Cabo. Starshine is really in her element with wind in the high teens off the starboard beam.

The sail to Cabo was the last sail of the trip, we motored or motor sailed the rest of the way (190 hours on the engine). We made stops in Man o' War Cove in Mag Bay to rest up. We were only in Turtle Bay for two hours, just long enough to buy 200 liters of diesel from Enrique. I really freaked out about how much fuel we needed and how many pesos to have onboard. Our fuel was fine and I had way too many Mexican pesos.

We stopped for two days in Ensenada to cancel our TIP and check out. The Port Captain had closed the port to small vessels. Arnstein believed the weather was going to be fine and the wave height and period would be very manageable. We submitted a letter to the Ensenada Port Captain (in Spanish) requesting permission to leave. Basically it said, “We wanna leave and any problems we encounter are on us.” Permission was granted and we left at midnight that night.

We were only one day in San Diego to check in. After checking in at the Police Dock we were only at Shelter Island for 25 hours. We stopped for 20 min in Santa Barbara to refuel and we arrived under the Golden Gate Bridge at 2100 on Tuesday Dec 4, 2018. Our rounding of Point Conception was a non-event. We got to see a rocket launch from Vandenberg AFB

We had southerlies and following seas passing Point Sur. The highest speed we saw was 11.8 surfing down a wave. We had just the genoa out and were making good time.

Our crew Dennis was a really great guy and had some skill in the galley. We ate pretty well. We experienced a few failures, the anemometer showed 250 kts crossing to Cabo before all the electronics went dark. We took the wind sensor out of the circuit and the electronics worked fine the rest of the trip. We went to start the engine in Ensenada.......nothing. Not even a click. I tried to jump the solenoid with a screwdriver, but the motor just spun, it wasn't engaging the flywheel. I keep a spare starter onboard and I had it replaced in 30 minutes.

On our way to Marina Coral in Ensenada to get fuel we saw a panga overturn as we exited CruisePort Marina. One guy swam ashore, but the second guy was clinging to the bow like a wet rat. We performed a rescue using the life sling and brought him safely to shore on Starshine. Pretty exciting, as this occurred less than 50 feet from the large rock jetty. We got fuel ok, but because of the starter and the rescue, we did not beat the rain storm and got soaked returning to the dock.

The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. We kept the ‘petal to the metal’ and beat the weather we were trying to avoid getting to San Francisco.

So what’s next you may ask? Well were doing some final touch ups to get ready to put Starshine on the market. This included moving all our stuff off the boat. She’s been our home for over 5 years. Plus Melodie and I admit to being pack rats of a sort. Our last big project was to get all the beautiful woodwork down below some touch up so she looks ship shape.

I hope you’ve all enjoyed sharing in this adventure of ours. We plan to continue to tour the USA in our truck camper until we decide where we will finally land for good. Arizona is in contention, but we are considering other spots too.

We are so fortunate to have been able to experience this lifestyle for the last four years. We’ve met so many great people and made some friends who I am sure we will continue to share our lives with.

Fair winds and following seas to you all.

Summer 2018

26 February 2019 | Mazatlan Sinaloa Mexico
Pat Williams
As many of you who have followed our blog over the last four years you’ll note that I have not given it any attention since last spring. So let me fill in the blanks.

Starshine stayed in Mazatlan throughout the summer of 2018. We stayed onboard through mid-July, but were still unable to solve the fuel issue. Much of this was my hesitancy to dive into the fuel supply system. We decided we needed a break so we put the boat to bed and came back to Arizona and jumped in our truck camper. By the way it sure is hot in Mazatlan in July.

We had originally hoped to travel east and visit Nova Scotia. Our late departure from Mazatlan put a damper on that plan. We did head east, but only as far as Milwaukee where Melodie is from. We mostly made a bee line for her family home; stopping at a few sites on the way. Santa Fe and Taos NM were on Melodies list of places to see. It feels so remote in New Mexico with the open space and colorful sunsets. We took shelter from a tornado warning in a Kansas Walmart one evening. Think the Walmart would have been safer than a truck camper? Stopping to visit the first homestead site was interesting. They are trying to restore the prairie at the site, as the homesteading really destroyed most of the prairie ecosystem in the US.

We stopped for a nice visit at Melodie's sister in La Cross WI on the Mississippi. We spent some more time visiting family in Milwaukee. The real camping trip began as we made our way back toward Arizona.

We stopped in Minneapolis MN and saw some old friends from my Navy days. Then we made our way to South Dakota, where we spent a few weeks. We stopped to see more of my family in S/E South Dakota. We made Ellsworth AFB a base camp over the Labor Day weekend, plus some. We saw Mt Rushmore, the Badlands, Wall Drug, the Minuteman Missile Museum, among many other sights.

Melodie and I had both been to the Black Hills and South Dakota as kids and it was interesting to see it again as adults. The sites were much less busy and crowded many years ago, especially Mt Rushmore. We both prefer how it used to be. However, you can still find remote areas as you get farther from the national attractions. Camping on BLM land right on the edge of the Badlands cliffs was amazing. We stopped at the Wild Horse sanctuary in the Black Hills and saw how they care for herds of wild horses.

Our turning point was a visit to Devil’s Tower National Park. Then we began to head south. We camped one night at a little county park and learned that there are actual "wild horses" that hang out on some nearby BLM land. The next day we took a small detour on dirt roads to try and find them. Lucky for us, we saw several small bands. It was interesting how one horse deliberately walked over to a pile of Poo, turned, and deposited its Poo on top of the pile.

We stopped in Dinosaur National Monument and saw fossils still imbedded in dirt along the hike we took. We camped at various locations along the Colorado River; some with ancient petroglyphs and others with spectacular red canyon cliffs. We worked our way to Canyonlands NP near Moab UT. We were both shocked at the growth of Moab since we first visited there back in the 1980’s. We returned to Arizona and put the camper to bed in late September.

We returned to Starshine in Mazatlan in early October to begin to prepare her for the trip north to California.

Marina El Cid - Mazatlan

01 May 2018 | El Cid - Mazatlan
Pat and Melodie / Sunny
Today is Tuesday May 1, 2018.

We are still in Mazatlan. Who’d have guessed? We sure didn’t think we’d be here this long. After moving over to El Cid Marina we continued to troubleshoot the fuel issue. That’s when the cutlass bearing began to rumble. We made an appointment to haul out and have the bearing replaced. No problem. Except the travel lift at the local boat yard is on the fritz. First it was the starter motor, then a hydraulic issue. A Passport 40 named Mystical Crumpet got stuck hanging in the slings over the weekend. We were told last week it’d take a week to fix the problem on the travel lift. We took the opportunity to take a land tour inland to the city of Durango.

We researched taking a bus or renting a car. It was only $15/day to rent the car, then over $100 to insure it. That, plus the toll road and gas and it was easier to take a bus. We took an ETN Turistar bus that was very nice. Three across seating with your own DVD screen. The bus was much nicer than the TAP bus we’d taken from Guaymas last year. Anyway, the trip up was four hours on a new highway that opened in 2012. Before the new toll road opened you had to take a road called The Devil’s Backbone that took over 6 hours to drive. Even the new highway had lots of twists and turns but is more direct due to the many tunnels dug through the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains. It has two suspension bridges that look like the new eastern span of the SF-Oakland Bay Bridge. One of them, the Bauluarte Bridge, is the third highest cable-stayed bridge in the world. The scenery along the whole trip was great! We arrived in Durango and took a taxi to our hotel. The taxi actually had a meter, the first we’ve seen in Mexico.

The hotel was called Hostel del Monja and was right across the street from the old Cathedral Basilica and plaza. It was a little more expensive than some of the other choices, but the location was great. They have a walking street that runs for five blocks and is filled with restaurants and coffee shops. This walking street ran right in front of our hotel (photo). We walked around before having dinner in an Asian restaurant. There aren’t many Asian restaurants in Mexico, so we often eat at the ones we happen to stumble upon. This one was very good and much better than many in the states.

We only stayed for two nights, giving us one full day to explore. We visited an anthropology museum and saw how the local Indians used to press boards against infant heads to deform their skulls. We toured the Francisco “Pancho” Villa Museum which covered the Mexican Revolution. We toured a mining museum that consisted of a tunnel that ran for several blocks under the city. We also visited the Central Mercado. The most interesting feature of the market was all the horse tack, you know, saddles and bridles and stuff. They were not ornate, but working hardware for everyday use. A local told us that the ranchers from around the area all come to the Mercado in Durango for their leather items and many are custom ordered.

We found the city very clean, almost no trash was visible as we walked around. It was also notable that all of the buildings were completed and not a bunch of empty building shells like in coastal Mexico. There were several old churches and central squares with nice landscaping and fountains. They had some statues paying tribute to the movie industry. Many Hollywood films have used Durango as a location. I always think of Treasure of the Sierra Madre with Humphrey Bogart, but there are many others. There weren’t any other Gringos in Durango (that we saw). We asked a waiter about this and he explained the tourist season ends at Easter. The Mexicans call it Samana Santa. He also mentioned that Durango is very safe, and well maintained because the drug cartels don’t have a presence here. It was a great little get away and we were glad we went.

Once we get our cutlass bearing replaced we still intend to head north to San Carlos. We have a June 1 reservation at Marina San Carlos. But we are on a boat and plans change. We are enjoying our time here at El Cid with the pools, hot tub and nice landscaping. The weather has warmed quite a bit and the pool is a nice way to cool off. We had dinner a couple of times at the restaurant here which overlooks the marina and nice sunset views. It is interesting that the waiters often give a refill on wine and a little desert at no cost. The food is quite good and it’s very convenient, however, most nights we do eat on the boat. We will just continue to hang out here for now.

Marina Mazatlan

09 April 2018 | Marina Mazatlan
Pat and Melodie
Today is Monday April 9, 2018.

We almost left Mazatlan today after being here for 31 days. We got some repairs done, but are still plagued by our fuel issue. We got our cracked port window in the aft head removed and had a new one reinstalled. We hired two different mechanics to help diagnose the fuel issue without success.

We were going to try to cross over to the Baja and spend some time in La Paz. We thought we’d try a different pool of mechanics. We were all set to go when we called to get a reservation at a marina. We’ve stayed at Marina Palmira in the past. I guess we’d forgotten why we have spent so little time in La Paz in the three times we’ve passed through the area. The slip rates are 30% higher there! We changed our plans and decided to work the issue from Mazatlan a bit more. We decided that we would change our slip from Marina Mazatlan to Marina El Cid, still here in Mazatlan. I like El Cid better as it has more amenities, nicer facilities and is attached to a resort type hotel. It’s also closer to transportation and restaurants. The down side is there is more surge there and the boat moves around quite a bit. The movement is hard on the dock lines if you don’t use enough chafe gear. We use old fire hose to protect the dock lines (Thank you Dan and OFD).

We also had to cancel some planned visits from friends. We were hoping to share some good times with them, but we’ve got to get our boat in order first.

The photo was taken in the old town square in central Mazatlan. One evening we got to hear the Army Band playing in the band stand in the background. They were quite good. The square is lined with restaurants and there are many to choose from. Some good and some not so good. We find the good ones by word of mouth. The morning local radio net even has a category called restaurant reviews. (It’s not all Boaters Assistance and Treasures from the Bilge) Mazatlan has many high quality restaurants providing more upscale dining. They are more expensive than other places in Mexico, but by US standards are very inexpensive for such a quality meal. Melodie got to get three pounds of her favorite coffee beans. The beans come from Chiapas Mexico and they roast them here locally at Etnikafe; a coffee shop and art gallery.
Two big events have occurred during our time here. The first was Samana Santa, which is a holiday for Easter. Many Mexicans take vacation during that time and the beaches were packed with people. The other was Mazatlan Bike Week. Thousands of motorcyclists descend on the city. They close off the boulevard called the Malecon along the beach and only allow motorcycles access. The riders take the chance to show off their rides. They also include ATV’s and the quads (dune buggy looking 2-4 seaters made by Polaris). I’m surprised they let them ride on the street. Several had red/blue lights and sirens just like the police in the US. They also like to take their kids along, many carrying infants in their arms as they ride 3-4 at a time down the street. It was a great place to people watch. These words don’t do the insanity justice…Crazy, crazy…it would never be allowed in the US.

The weather is warming up but remains cool by Mexico standards, low 60’s in the am and up to 80 in the afternoon. It’s really quite pleasant. It’s very wet in the morning with frequent morning fog.

We will continue to try to diagnose our fuel issue and take advantage of the swimming pools at El Cid.

That’s all for now.

Leaving Banderas Bay

07 March 2018 | La Cruz de Huanacaxtle
Pat and Melodie
Today is Wednesday March 7, 2018.

Once again I’ve been neglecting our blog. I gave this some thought the other day. I think it’s because we aren’t doing anything special. Well, it doesn’t seem special to us because we have been hanging out in Banderas Bay for a while. But, keep in mind this is a big vacation destination and just being here is quite special. We are very blessed to be saying that such a pleasant area and living here is just “ordinary”. We haven’t been moving around much or doing anything out of the ordinary. We’ve been getting together with friends. We watch movies in the evening. There are many good restaurants nearby, and they are very inexpensive for great food. Keep in mind it just takes longer to do your daily activities here. For instance going grocery shopping can be an all-day event. I’ve been reading quite a bit. I recently found a series written by Stephen King called the Dark Tower. It’s a series of books he wrote over a number of years. What I find interesting is he incorporates other books, such as The Stand and Salem’s Lot into the narrative. They aren’t short books either. Like The Stand, several of them are in the 1500 page category.

Weather here on Banderas Bay has been wonderful. The temperatures in the low 80’s without any rain. The wind usually picks up in the afternoon to cool things down a bit and make it very nice.
We have seen a few sea turtles swimming in the marina. There are many more things to see in the anchorage, but we’ve been in the marina as of late. Some of the sunsets and rises are spectacular. Occasionally some dolphin will swim through the anchorage. When we were anchored we saw many whales and mothers with their babies. Whales would often swim right through the anchorage. The baby whales would usually be breaching up into the air with their moms alongside. Every day you could see whales spouting in the bay. One morning we heard what we thought was a bird landing close to the boat, but much louder than usual. When pelicans or other birds dive for fish their splash sounds pretty loud from inside the boat. We heard a noise and ran up into the cockpit to look. The sun had just come up and we saw there was movement in the water, it was very turbulent. Then I saw a whale surface less than a boat length from our boat! We have been saying we were “kissed by a whale”.

While at anchor we were being serenaded by whales. At night and the early morning we could hear whale songs from inside the boat. It was very peaceful to be lying in bed and night and being lulled back to sleep by the whale sounds. There was usually lower pitched sounds alternating with higher pitched ones. Perhaps a mom teaching her baby how to sing. Sometimes we could hear them during the day if it was quiet. Melodie even dug out her stethoscope to put on the hull. You don’t need iTunes when you have whales.

The bioluminescence was amazing one week. One night we were making our way to the boat via our dingy. It was as if bright blue lights were shining into the water where there was any turbulence. It was also fun to throw a bucket of water overboard at night just to see the brilliant blue glow.

The race boats from the San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Race have been arriving. The trimaran Mighty Merlot is docked near us. It is very large and mighty looking.

We go to the Sunday Market here in La Cruz. We’ve learned to get there early, before 10:00 o’clock and all the Canadians show up. The walkways between the vendor booths are only wide enough for four people. A row on each side can browse the merchandise, but the center is for coming and going. Many of the tourists stop in the middle to look and it causes a traffic jam because after 10:00 the place is packed. Melodie enjoys a large glass of fresh squeezed orange juice and I usually get a tamale or two.

We got our taxes done. One of the things that cruisers do for one another is they announce when they are headed back to the US or Canada and they will hand carry stamped mail for you. This is how we’ve done our taxes the last 3 years. You can file electronically, but your signature on a piece of paper is still required. Getting repair parts is done in a similar manner, but in the opposite direction. It’s just that people who bring stuff are usually friends or acquaintances. There aren’t generally people willing to haul stuff down from the US for anonymous neighbors. BTW, these would be electronics or specialty boat parts, not generic brown bags of white powder or dried leafy greens. Melodie did have some good quality spices brought down. It’s actually hard to get good spices here.

The photo was taken during the Friday evening Mexican Train that’s hosted at the Poolside Deli here at the La Cruz Marina. It’s a chance to meet new people and pass the time with a fun game. There are several variations of the rules and they are often referred to by where they originate: La Paz Rules, Tenicatita Rules, etc. They serve Margarita’s but lately they’ve been blue. I think she’s using blue Gatorade, but that’s just a guess.

So why the short blog entry? Can you imagine writing a blog that detailed your daily life when you were just kind of living it? Maybe our next entry will contain something more exciting.

We think we will make our way to Mazatlán tomorrow. It’s 175 NM from La Cruz to Mazatlán and should take us between 24-30 hours. There are four other boats headed that way as well.

Tomorrow is also our 31st Wedding Anniversary!
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