Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Alive and well in Arizona...

Just a quick update.. to let you know we have moved along. The great ship Shannon's Spirit has been cleaned, serviced, packed up, and put to bed. She is securely nestled between four "hurricane poles" in the secure storage yard of Marina San Carlos Seca and she will be watched over by a small fleet of security and maintenance staff.

We packed up Rikki and headed north yesterday. After attempting to file the correct paper work with Mexican officials at the border, we were forced to give up. Four different officials had four different opinions about which form (or if any form) was required for us to remove some equipment (in need of repair and/or replacement) from Mexico. Guess we'll test the waters next fall when we return with our new and/or repaired boat parts. The US border staff were good to us and we were through and on our way to Rio Rico (for an over night at Esplendor) by mid-afternoon.

It's early Wednesday morning and today we will drive to Tubac and reclaim TT (Travel Trailer) Lucy, who has been shivering patiently in unusually cold weather. We hope to move aboard either today or tomorrow. Coincidentally, the annual Tubac Art Festival starts today and we're looking forward to experiencing that before moving on.

We'll write again as we travel through AZ and CA. We hope to visit some pretty neat places and will share our discoveries as we find them... take care one and all.... And stay warm! this weather has to improve soon... All the best to you and yours... From CJ, K and Princess Sophie (still going strong at 14 years young :-)

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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Putting Your Baby to Bed in a Boatyard....2016

nquiring minds have been asking..."How much do
​we really need​
 to do?
".  This posting is for them; those poor sailors who haven't yet experienced the joy of putting their baby (er boat) to bed for the Mexican summer.  It's not that hard, but it's not for the feint of heart.  Some would say it's the price we pay for sailing in Paradise... and I guess they're right.
​ But it's also a chance to take a closer look at the systems and equipment that keep us going; something we should all be doing on a regular basis.​
So, let's get started.
Before I begin, let me say that if you ask every skipper you meet this question, you'll get a different answer each time.  This is ours...​

The first thing to consider is what it is you're trying to protect your boat from. You might think that theft or vandalism would be the first priority and, in some places it likely is. But today in Mexico most of us choose to leave our boats in dry storage yards that are being run as a business.  Most are surrounded by fencing; most have one or more dogs prowling the premises; and most have at least one or two security
. Admittedly some
​yards ​
are better than others. The good news is your research need go no further than the local cruising community.  It doesn't take long to suss out the reputations of each available yard, the good and the bad.

For instance, a yard that stores their boats on cement is preferable to one with
. Stories abound about how quickly that dirt can turn to soft quagmire in torrential rains.  If your best choice of location still has a dirt yard you can protect your baby somewhat by insisting on metal plates under each foot of each leg on each stand.  If they don't have some sort of plate, you should be able to find something suitable in the nearby hardware stores or construction sites.
​ The number of stands is also important.  A minimum of 6,  and preferably 8​ (three down each side and one fore and aft), is our goal.

Of equal, and perhaps more importance is the consequences of Mother Nature's wrath. Each year she insists on pelting our boats with torrential rain, sometimes in hurricane force winds.  Even if you have selected a location outside the official hurricane corridor she will find you and she will toss winds at your boat that may not be officially named but are, nonetheless, fierce and forceful. If that isn't ugly enough, she will also try to steam your boat open like a clam in a pot of boiling water.  Extremely high temperatures combined with dense humidity can turn the inside of your boat into a healthy terrarium harboring moulds and mildews for the duration. Sound like fun yet?  Oh yes, I mustn't forget to mention the critters; not just the crawling kind like ants
​, spiders​
and cockroaches, but also the flying ones.  Small mud wasps, packing their nests into small holes and openings, are becoming more of a problem.  Those small spaces need to be covered or packed with the substance of your choice.  OK, enough of the scary stuff.  Let's get down to business.

Preparing the ​
Interior: A few basic rules persist; advice like remove all food. Some folks leave cans on board but they bundle them into plastic bags and stow those bags in safe places in case one or more explode. Certain canned goods survive the heat better than others. All other food must be removed so as prevent it becoming yummy enticement for those creepy crawly critters.  Protect your teak.  A good wipe down with vinegar and water will go a long way to protecting your teak from mould and mildew. Secure your electronics.  One of the joys of a Mexican summer are the numerous thunder and lightening storms.  Some folks will assure you the lightening will only strike the taller masts.  Many skippers of small boats will disagree, having themselves been struck while surrounded by much larger craft. We choose to be safer and disconnect all our electronic equipment. We also stow some of the more expensive pieces in the oven (emulating a kind of Faraday Shield). Clothing, linen, books and papers can also be protected from the inevitable dust and/or moisture by bagging (space bags work very well and save room too). Upholstery will benefit from a good vacuum and being stood on end with a dust cover
. Covering the windows is also a good idea, with one caveat. Placing tinfoil on the inside of acrylic or plexi
glass windows or hatches will create a situation resulting in crazed panes.  These materials require covers on the outside instead. Windows that open need to be leak proof..remember those torrential rains? Water tanks need attention too.  Some folks leave them empty, some leave them full.  We leave them mostly full with a bottle of bleach in each. We also leave one inspection port open to allow for some evaporation during the very hot (and dry) times. Propane lines should be run dry and tanks stored where they can't leak into the boat. Aerosol cans should be removed completely due to their propensity to blow up in extreme heat.  Some folks leave them in a covered bucket below the boat. Batteries should be removed from all flashlights and other battery
dependent equipment.  Cupboard doors, locker lids, and actual doors should be propped open to allow air movement. All access points to the interior should be plugged or set up with netting to prevent visitors from the outdoors.  Remember there may be two sets of openings connected to your dorade vents and both should be dealt with. Plastic scrubbies (the kind we use for cleaning dishes) make great plugs for openings.  They allow air and water to pass at the same time as they keep most bugs out. And, finally, before locking up those companionway boards critter proofing must be considered. Good roach bait, set up in all the hard to get at corners (and according to the instructions) is a good start.  Boric acid, mixed into a paste with water, works well for cockroaches.  Shoved into short pieces of hose that lay along the edges of lockers, etc. is a good way to dispense it and keep your pets safe at the same time.  Small mud wasps seem more prevalent this year and they just love to ne
t in whatever openings they can find. Lastly, do not forget to close all through-hulls
​and stuff their lower openings with scrubbies ​
(with the exception of your cockpit drains and bilge pump outlet).  Now that the inside seems well cared for, let's take a step outside.

Preparing the ​
Exterior:  Securing the outside of our boats is equally important. I must admit a lot of this work is easier to do while the boat's in the water.  It's pretty hot working on deck in the boat yards. Removing sails is a great way to start. Cleaned, if necessary, and nicely folded... the sails can be stowed on one of the bunks below.  Running rigging needs attention as well.  If your lines need to be cleaned they should come right off.  This is best accomplished using messenger lines (one for each) which will allow a relatively easy re-running of the lines at the start of the next season.  Don't forget to label both the lines themselves and the messenger lines.  We label with tape and then cover the messenger line labels with tin foil to protect them over the summer. All messenger lines should be secured to a location that will prevent them from banging on the mast or tangling with other lines. Chafe is your worst enemy here as lines chafed through will have to be retrieved by climbing the mast... a job to be avoided when possible. If your running rigging is newer and/or not in need of a good cleaning, you may just (using a messenger line) run it up and into the mast.  That will
​ ​
protect some of the line and you can then just bundle up the exposed l
ne and cover it for protection. We also take the time to do a few diagrams of some of the more complicated running rigging (like the boom vang and main sheet). Just a precaution; but very handy
ome six months later when your memory has understandably faded. Rigging and sails taken care of, the focus then moves to all the deck hardware. UV can do considerable damage to vulnerable pieces of nylon and material left exposed. Wrapping with tin foil can provide great protection from both UV rays and wind-blown dust and grit.  It will also save you hours of cleaning at the start of the next season.  Covered properly, your equipment should be in whatever condition you left it... when you return. Speaking of covering; old sail material and old sunbrella make great covers for things like your roller furling, boom, lines remaining outside the mast, solar panels, permanently installed BBQs and outboards.  A product called Tyvac, sold by Home Depot, is also very good and well worth the trouble of carrying down.  Some folks cover their solar panels and some folks don't (relying on their solar panel monitor to work properly while they are gone).  We choose to cover ours partially, leaving a small portion to operate much like a trickle charger.  Even though the boat is on the hard in a ship yard, damage can happen and water can collect inside your boat.  Having a functioning bilge pump, and the power to run it, will help protect against the ravages of a flooded boat.  Speaking of water...  make sure the yard staff set your boat up with a slight slope in the direction of your cockpit drains.  The wrong slope can cause your cockpit to fill and then drain into the cabin. Critters can also move aboard
 the outside.  Beware the open spaces offered by your anchor locker lid, your open ended boom, and holes in your barge boards (set up to secure your fuel and water Jerry cans).

Mechanics and equipment: What ever you need to do to protect your engine, outboard and any other equipment with 'needs' must be done.  If there is ever a time to ignore maintenance... this is not it.  Engines need at least an oil change, a fresh water flush, and the loosening and/or removal of rubber bits like impellers and V belts.  Other equipment may require some protective coating or packaging to protect it from moisture.  Corroded electrical connections are a common cause of difficulties with VHF radio transmissions and other such things.

And finally, while it's tempting to do without... adequate insurance is important.  Accidents do happen; if not to your boat then to the boat next door.  And sometimes, sadly, one vessel's problems can spread to the next without much warning.

So my sailing friends...  sail in Paradise and be happy.  The only consolation I have with respect to all this work at the end and beginning of each season... is that it does get easier.  Each year you'll find ways to streamline the process, and
just like the rain in Vancouver (BC), it only takes one day of sunshine with your sails nicely set to forget all about the dusty hot sweat.  Take heart and sail on.  Adios for now.

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Sunday, January 17, 2016

She sails beautifully ...

Well, m’lords and ladies… we did it!  We finally got away from the dock.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  It wasn’t exactly an epic voyage… But, by golly, just getting away from the dock… just hoisting the mainsail and unfurling the grateful genoa (finally able to spread her wings)… and sailing gently across Bahia San Francisco toward the distant point, and then back.  Well that was absolutely amazing! And, just to make it more perfect… didn’t we espy  (is that a word?) what we’re pretty sure was a blue whale, sleeping or grazing or doing something quietly as we sailed by.  It was a perfect afternoon.  Even got the fishing line wet just for fun.

I’m pleased to report that the good ship Shannon’s Spirit sails as gently as her name sake… a caring kind of a feel… and we like that.

After far too short a time under sail, we returned to the entrance of our Bahia, just outside San Carlos Marina, tucked in all the material and lines, and motored into the area used by many of the cruisers as an anchorage. It’s near enough to the marina for land-based activities and far enough away (at the end we chose) to be away from any extra noise or hubbub.  After setting the anchor (it went down perfectly) we settled in with a tot to watch the sun sink slowly over the lovely rocky bit protecting us from the northwest winds.  They came up just after we’d anchored and we were very pleased we’d come in a little early to avoid them


For dinner we enjoyed some fine BBQ’d Sonoran beef (rib eye), along with roasted veggies and our latest of many favourite red wines. The evening was a special one.  Not only had we enjoyed a nice afternoon sailing (finally) but it was actually our first sail together on this new (to us) vessel.  So, as Martha might have said… It was a good thing.
We’re back at the dock now having spent a lovely quiet night at anchor.  The fact we had to hoist the anchor by hand… well, that’s another story.  Suffice to say we’re in search for yet one or two more boat dollars for trade in on a new windlass :-)  We motored into our slip very nicely and came along side with no fuss, no muss.  It was kind of fun that our cruising buddies were so happy for us; that we’d actually gone out and sailed. They too have been stuck in San Carlos by El Nino but they’ve been very supportive as we’ve worked through the prepping of our new boat.
Today is Sunday, January 17th, and tomorrow we begin the systematic prepping of SSpirit for her eventual return to the storage yard.  She is scheduled to be hauled out on Feb. 4th and, by then, we hope to have her as ready as possible (save the engine flushing, canvas removal, plugging of holes and cracks, and anything else we didn’t get to).  Our plan is to pull out early this year and return to Arizona to pick up Lucy (the trailer).  As this has turned out to be NOT a sailing season, we are going to turn the last half into a camping season.  We have friends in Arizona and California to visit and many places of interest along the way. And, as we meander slowly northwards, we shall try very hard to stay below the cold and frost line.

We hope all is well with all of you and that your 2016 is shaping up as you like it.  This is us, signing off for now.  Will write again when there’s something to share.  All the best.  CJ, K and PS

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Dances with strangers...

OK, so there I was, minding my own business... Tending to the folks at my end of the table and enjoying the company and the ambiance. It was today, New Years Eve, and we'd gone to La Palapa Griegga for dinner and entertainment. The show turned out to be music (Mark et al) and while the meal was delicious (Kathy had rack of lamb and I had steak and lobster... and we shared) the music included fabulous selections of many of my favorites .... Toe tapping, thigh slapping.. great music!

And, there I was... keeping up with the base on my legs and the table (and having a marguerita or two :-) and wondering how it would go if I asked Kathy to dance (Being Mexico and all, we try to behave). When Mark called for a "mosh". Not knowing what a mosh was, I watched and learned (quickly)... Lots of folks stood up at their tables and began to gyrate. And so I did too; I love to dance. And then Kathy joined me and, slowly, the rest of our table moshed on in.

And that's when I noticed a gentleman... slightly older than myself, hanging on to his white, plastic chair and letting his feet begin to move. Now, he could have been Fred Astaire or some other dancer... but me... I'm just me, and I sidled over and offered him my hand. Well, didn't he take it and didn't the two of us just dance our toes off for the rest of the song. We jived and we did other steps and he was a great lead....(yes, I can follow :-) . it was great!

The evening (spent mostly at Kathy's side) was terrific... But I wanted to tell you about the dance... Because, much like the ferry trip from La Paz to Pichilingue, I have experienced something outside my norm; a moment to remember.

I hope that each of you have experienced such a moment this year... And Kathy and I, and Princess Sophie, wish each and every one of you... the blessing of peace in your life and the opportunity to enjoy dances with strangers. Reach out a hand... in 2016. Have a great one!


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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Wishing you all the best for 2016 and OOPS... There goes the phone.

Hi everyone... from sunny, cloudy, windy, warm, cool and sometimes darn right cold... San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico.  First let me say we hope everyone had a good Christmas...  and we want to wish you all the best in 2016.  May we all survive El NiƱo and have the good sense to set attainable goals in the new year :-)

We're enjoying our time here in San Carlos. We really miss seeing our cruising buddies in La Paz and Mazatlan but know you are all well and enjoying life as it comes.  And we miss our friends at home too.  Sue and John, having returned from helping us, are tucked into their warm, cozy home in Crofton... and Craig and Alison have just finished a great (albeit too short) visit with us on their quest for warmer temperatures.  SSpirit is coming along in her rejuvenation. Many systems have been either replaced or renewed...and there are still a couple to finish. All that will come in due course. Sophie had a bad spell with two bleeding ulcers in her tummy but, with the help of Vets in Hermasillo, has recovered well.  So, things here are just ticking along in an unhurried way. This being the year it has... we re planning to leave early and enjoy a camping trip drive home.  We hope to visit friends and parks in the areas of Phoenix, Yuma, Lake Havasu and finally Palm Springs... before pushing north through Oregon and Washington to home.

Being at the dock has allowed us to keep in close touch with friends and family... by email and by telephone.  The OOPS part of this note is to tell you that for absolutely no reason... and much against all orders to the contrary... Kathy's cell phone leaped out of her pocket and hit the deck with a heart stopping crash this morning.  While it seems to still have a pulse, it is definitely unconscious as I write and, until we acquire a more positive diagnosis, we must assume the worst; we will be cell-phone-less until further notice :-(  Sorry about that. At least we still have email and Magic Jack :-)

So, for now... know we are well.. and wishing you all a wonderful 2016.  Adios for now.  CJ

Friday, November 27, 2015

LIfe in San Carlos

Shannon's Spirit at the dock

SSpirit's lovely new table

Walking the malecon - Sophie's ride

Action shot

The local Mexicans get a big kick out of this.

San Francisco Beach walk (Bahia Delfin)

Sophie's watching the Bottlenose Dolphins

Wet and sandy dog - happy pup!

San Francisco Beach wal

JJs Tacos (haven't had the courage to try the Donkeys yet!) 

Nice palapa roof

John & Sue with Byron

CJ with Byron and Anna

Byron's motto

An early birthday celebration

US Thanksgiving Toast to Penny & Jo

After our birthday dinner (yummy turkey with all the trimmings!)

San Carlos sunset

San Carlos marina at night

Thursday, November 26, 2015

SV Shannon's Spirit... Adjusted plans.

Hi everyone,

CJ here.... With a short update from San Carlos.

As you know our plans this year included prepping Shannon's Spirit and heading across the Sea to the Baja... And then to sail, with our friends Sue and John, down the coast to La Paz. We started off pretty well but have now realized we need to adjust our expectations. We are nearing the end of November and for many reasons (including a late start, the need for more repairs than we had known of or planned for, and Mother Nature's determination to toss Norther after Norther down the Sea...along with totally uncharacteristic Tropical Storms... and thereby creating sea and wind conditions that are more than uncomfortable... they can be dangerous) we four have had discussions regarding the situation and what is the best thing to do, given the circumstances.

Sue and John have decided to head home for Christmas. They've enjoyed their visit and, even though we worked them hard, they insist they've had a good time...AND... We have a grand plan for next year (a non el niño year). We will pick them up in Loretto (by which time we will have worked out all the kinks and already beat the northers to cross the Sea) and we will then sail slowly down to La Paz... This year we have been blessed with their company, their good humor, and their huge assistance and support both with the work and the decision making; and we will miss them very much.

We have decided to stop what kind of feels like running up hill, on one leg, with your hands tied behind your back. We are going to slow down (continue working on the boat but at a much less frenzied pace), take some time for our selves (rest, relax, recharge our systems...) and enjoy life here in San Carlos. We ll live in our floating condo at the San Carlos Marina (beautiful location by any standards), focus on our health, and do some fun things. We can still go out for day sails and fishing... Maybe an overnight or two... And we have found a tennis court and know of many beaches within a short distance... Suitable for long walks and Sophie.

So, sorry there won't be any stories of wild rides across the Sea or isolated anchorages with the north winds ravaging all around us... And we are very disappointed yet another year will go by before we get to visit with friends Tom and Jeanne in La Paz. BUT, we are adjusting to this new plan and feel better about how we re dealing with it each day.... We are looking forward to spending the next couple of months resting and rejuvenating as well as using the time to finish most repairs in SSpirit and divesting ourselves of all the 'stuff' we have and do not need. Who knows, may even find time for some writing.

I m sure there still will be stories of interest for the Blog and I ll try not to bore you....

So, for now, know we are well and enjoying life... And somewhat relieved to have given ourselves permission to slow down and take a breath.....

Hope all of you are well and have special plans with family and friends for the Christmas season.


Carolyn and Kathy (and PSophie)

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