03 April 2018 | Unalakleet, Alaska
29 October 2017 | Unalakleet, Alaska
19 July 2015 | Unalakleet, Alaska
30 April 2013 | Point Hope
20 April 2012 | Anchorage, Alaska
17 April 2012 | Anchorage, Alaska
17 April 2012 | Anchorage, Alaska
10 January 2012 | Opua, New Zealand
24 December 2011 | Opua, New Zealand
03 December 2011 | Opua, New Zealand
04 November 2011 | Off shore: Destination New Zealand
02 November 2011 | Off shore: Destination New Zealand
18 February 2009 | Mazatlan
We are in the boatyard this week getting some badly needed work completed. We hauled off 23 years of bottom paint. Tender Spirit is now getting an epoxy barrier coat and new bottom paint. We're also going through some through hulls along with the usual zincs and propeller maintenance. Hopefully we will be back in the water Friday.
We have fine tuned our communication and weather retrieval strategies. Hopefully we will be able to streamline our power usage with the singe sideband radio with the priority being weather retrieval. We will be checking into a several radio nets to report our current weather and position as we sail south. We will try to post those on this blog for your information. We will also be posting our current position here on the blog along with tidbits of information for those that are following our adventure. We're hoping to be able to post every 24 hours. We will also be posting our position on Yotreps, a great site that we have posted in the links. It's a great place to track many cruising boats around the globe.
Our preparations are starting to wind down now. We have a few items left on the list of boatwork, but for the most part, everything is about concluded. Now comes the exciting part of concluding our exit paperwork, last minute provisions, and navigation details. It surely looks like we've run out of excuses to stay in Mexico. We have definitely enjoyed this beautiful and hospitable country, but we are looking forward to seeing and experiencing more of our world.
04 February 2009 | Mazatlan
Yippie, the solar panels are up and running. We are loving the new panels. We have been generating all of our power now through solar. I've been slowly adding "cruising loads" to see how well we generate power under realistic situations that include the shadows, and varying light intensities throughout the day. We haven't had to use shore power to charge the batteries so far. We are hoping to generate close to 100% of our power through solar and wind generation. This will really lower our engine usage and drastically cut back on our fuel needs. We are hoping to use our engine exclusively for propulsion especially where fuel docks will be few and far between.
Time is sure flying. We are busy crossing items off the lists, but naturally, more things somehow magically appear. The boat is about ready to go. The major items are completed, now its time to get busy on a few maintenance items before we set sail. I've started the provisioning process. The food is so inexpensive that it makes sense to really stock up before heading south. The waterline is slipping underwater, but we will be able to choose when to buy groceries in expensive Polynesia! I'm sure glad that we decided to take these few months to work on things at a leisurely pace rather than to be frantically preparing the boat and not having any time for the fun things that us cruisers love to do.....like enjoying Mexico! Yes, Carnival is right around the corner. It is not to be missed in Mazatlan! We sure had a great time last year. Mazatlan has the 2nd largest Mardi Gras in the world. It is well worth the travel dollars to visit!
06 January 2009 | Mazatlan
We hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. We enjoyed a relaxed week of visiting with cruising friends under warm blue skies and swaying palm trees. This was our second "Green Christmas" in Mexico. Our stockings were hung in the quarterberth with care, and sure enough, Santa slipped through the open companionway and filled them with goodies. There was a glitch in the tradition. Chuck's stocking was missing, but Santa wrapped the loot in a nearby kitchen towel and hung it using some fancy ropework!
We greeted the new year with Fidel and his family. We had a great time celebrating with this wonderful Mexican family. It was probably the best New Year's celebration we've had in a very long time. Getting to know the local people is one of the best things about cruising.
Stainless Steel Project
23 December 2008 | Mazatlan
Our stainless steel projects are now completed. What a great Christmas gift for us! We now have 1" stainless for our top life-lines along with railing to accommodate three jerry cans on the caprail with stainless plating to protect the woodwork. We added a custom outboard bracket on the stern, and a plate on the bowsprit to protect it from the anchors. My favorite project is the new boarding ladder that swivels down and can be easily deployed from the water. It's deep enough so that there won't be any problems getting out of the water even with dive gear. We also added a custom stern roller for the stern anchor, and finally a bracket for the radar reflector that will mount on the mast instead of dangling from the flag halyard. The workmanship is incredible. We looked around last winter admiring the work here. The projects that other cruisers had done were so nice that we also decided to do likewise. The craftsmanship is superior to what we've seen in the states, and very reasonable. These gentlemen were delightful to work with!
02 December 2008 | Mazatlan
I took off bright and early this morning for Central Plaza. I love that place. I went early for fresh meat, and produce with plans to be home with the loot before it got too hot. I had such a great time! I wound up with a back pack full and one canvas bag and spent maybe at the most about 250 pesos (a little less than $25!). I really like looking around at all the stands. It's like a farmer's market, but way huge. The meat stands cut up the meat while you wait. I bought a about a pound of burger and a pound of steak for 50 pesos, less than $5 US. I even got an arrangement of carnations for about 25 pesos (about $2.0). I forgot what fun that place is. I spent most of my time at a produce stand. The elderly lady insisted that I have two bags of strawberries instead of one....who's to argue when she wanted 11 pesos for all of them. She also sold me a papaya (8 pesos), lettuce, green onions, huge radishes, banananas, and a bundle of cilantro for another 50 pesos! Oh and she let me taste a fruit that I don't know what it's called, but sure was tasty. I'll have to get some after I run out of strawberries. I also found the bakery and picked up some still warm bread for 10 pesos. Many of the tourists there got all grossed out at the meat stalls, and hung around the tee- shirt and trinket stands. I had as much fun watching the people as I did buying groceries. I may have to go back next week and cave in for the Santa Claus pi=F1ata. It sure looked cute. Maybe that will be our Christmas decoration this year!
About the time I got home, the ICOM man showed up. He took the SSB back to the shop and will have the ham frequencies opened up for me. Speaking of electronics, my adventures in computers has slowly been resolved for now. I wound up getting a little HP mini laptop that has Windows XP. It will handle the SSB modem (I couldn't find a serial to USB driver that VISTA understood) and Nobeltec. After doing business with Nobeltec for over a decade, I will be researching and finding a new company. Their "up-grade" is way out of my price range now and will now be incompatible with my collection of e-charts. I just can't justify spending what would amount to thousands of dollars to have a system that I already have! I carry paper charts. I expect that I will be turning back to them as they are the most reliable anyway. I love my techno gadgets, but it is the most fragile gear we have on board, and the most expensive.
25 November 2008 | Mazatlan
I am happy and relieved to tell you that I did indeed pass my ham radio tests. I just received word that my call sign is AL3I. I am now officially an amateur radio "extra".
We took a bus down to Puerto Vallarta so that I could take the test without having to worry about study time while underway with the boat. The trip down was done at night so we were unable to view the scenery. On the way back though, we were glued to the window as we went from jungles complete with vines and palm fronds to valleys of lush farmland. The open fruit markets were selling all sorts of tropical delights from pineapples to bananas. The countryside is absolutely beautiful. It sure made up for all the stress and preparations I did for the exams.
I need to back up a bit here. It was one day before we were to leave for Puerto Vallarta. I just sat down with a cold Pepsi trying to cool off and study at the same time. I spilled maybe a tablespoon of the stuff on my laptop keyboard......and you guessed it, I heard bad things buzz for a second, then the computer just expired. I felt lucky because it was an older laptop, and I had been making plans for replacing it because last summer it was giving us signs of "old age". I also had just backed up my cruising files, so all that research was not lost. The task however was how to replace a computer in Mexico. We tossed around ideas of taking a bus back to the states and bringing one back. We chatted with other long term cruisers and local people here about options. In the end we wound up buying a laptop here in Mazatlan. It was just a bit cheaper than the last one, new and shiny, with lots of speed and memory. It has it all, but the only difficulty is naturally of course.....the operating system is in Spanish along with a Spanish keyboard. I've managed to get around with that OK....but just barely. Eventually we will have to find a Windows Vista in English, but for now, I guess it's flipping through the dictionary and learning lots of new words. The only other problems have been reasons why we didn't want a new computer quite yet....Windows Vista isn't compatible with some of our software. So we will be spending a bunch of time and money to get the new software. The moral is very simple. Our computer has too much power on the boat and is by far our weakest link. We use it for communication and navigation. We do have other navigation systems in place, but we were reminded once again why it's important to have back-up plans. Just a little bit of liquid at sea without a back-up could spell disaster. We have paper charts, multiple handheld GPS units and a trusty sextant on board. Our radio system can still handle an emergency call and we can hear weather reports. But we would be unable to receive weatherfaxes, and specific weather reports that I send through email. It would also keep us from sending emails. This is just one more item to consider as we are preparing for our next trip. We are planning to purchase one more laptop as an emergency back-up for when this one decides to break for whatever reason!
A Time to Relax.....A Time to Study
10 November 2008 | Mazatlan
Well, it's definitely a time to study for right now. I'm busy studying to take the ham radio license tests. I have an opportunity to take them in Puerto Vallarta. There is a lot of interesting information, but I must admit to not wanting to build a radio! I just want to communicate and be safe out there. The use of ham frequencies will be important once we leave North American coastal waters. We plan on participating in a ham net for our southbound voyage and the ham frequencies will enable us to get weather attachments through email. So, I haven't been good company....even to myself. Chuck has been doing everything around here from great meals to boat care. Hopefully by November 17, I'll be setting aside all the text books and getting into the "Mazatlan" lifestyle....oh and starting some of my own boat projects!
We have arrived
29 October 2008 | Mazatlan
We made excellent time during the night. We picked up some current, and the wind shifted all in our favor. We arrived at 1pm! The dove flew away this morning in sight of land. We sure hope it does well. It slept all night on the settee, and in th morning flew out of the hatch and on its way. Last night we had an all night visit from a group of porpoises. The phosphorescense made the porpoises look liked they were covered in glowing glitter. The swam and jumped all night by the boat. It made for a memorable passage. This is one of the reasons I really love going to sea!