Thursday, September 3, 2015

Recreating Shannon...

It's occurred to me that we seem to be working much harder and at a more furious pace than should ever have to occur when pursuing a 'fun' activity.  And, as I sit here at some ungodly hour with a cup of luke-warm old coffee, slogging away at yet more paper work, organizing, filtering, updating, recreating... well, it's becoming quite obvious that we've immersed ourselves in activities leading to the re-creation of our beloved Shannon.  I know we willingly let her go, cast her off into the arms of another (who promised to care for her as we had).... Yet, here we are with our "new to us" boat - slaving away to produce in a few months, the results of over a decade of labour in preparing Shannon to become her wonderful little self.

So, you might ask, what exactly are you doing?  How is it that instead of having time to peruse the cruising guides and learn more about the areas you'll visit... how is it that you have no hours left in your days, nor have you had for a very long time?  What is it that you're trying to do and why? I shall try to explain and perhaps in the explanation I will find answers to my own questions.

First off, once you've had a boat you have begun the process of selecting exactly the right radio, the right anchor, the right radar reflector and the right life-vest... you've become opinionated as to which piece of what equipment is the best for you and your crew.  And that's just after one boat. Shannon's Spirit is our sixth proper yacht... and we have formed all of those opinions mentioned over and over, and over again. There's no arguing with us now.  We know which heaters we like and which fans.  We know which anchor and how much rode lets us sleep at night and, God help us, we even know which electronic alarm system we want to monitor said anchor.

So, as we sit here anticipating life with our 'new' boat Shannon's Spirit. we seem to be determined to recreate all the good things about Shannon (and there were many). That, my friends, coupled with the complexities of paperwork required to gain entry to the US and to Mexico for two adults, one three-legged dog, a far-too-new pick-up truck and a very cute Casita trailer... well that is what is keeping us up at night and slaving all day.

Some of the projects we've taken on, and that I'll report on later, include: a slim-line book case (just like the one in Shannon) which will be situated against the forward bulkhead in the forward cabin ... the wall the door used to cover when it was open... (said door has been removed to make room - just like in Shannon); a nice, new curtain is ready to provide privacy when needed for the forward cabin; the port side hanging locker will be converted to a set of shelves (newer Catalina's already have drawers here) for our clothing; a strong slide-out will be installed below the navigation station for the Engells freezer; a new Y valve will be installed in the heads system, allowing the switch from 'out' to 'tank' from inside the heads (as opposed to outside and behind a cupboard door); a shiny new two burner w/oven propane stove will replace the old CNG (converted to propane but without the safety features) stove and it will be accompanied by two new composite propane tanks mounted on SSpirit's hips (eg: outside the pushpit, one on either side); and the ships navigation equipment will be expanded to include an 802 SSB radio and a VHF MATRIX (AIS & VHF) radio. Each of the projects mentioned involve several sub-projects. For instance; the propane tanks need to be mounted some how and that requires the creation of suitable brackets or mounts.  The parts for these brackets are currently sitting on my work bench waiting for assembly.  The wood for the book case is awaiting pre-drilling and painting. Two barge boards (to which we lash the jerry cans) are also awaiting the paint brush but at least they're already cut and drilled... oh yeah, I still need to find the hardware for them. So you see how it's going.  Two steps forward, one to the left, two back, two more to the right and maybe you're a little ahead when you recalculate (ha! caught you mapping out the steps!!).

Enough already!  Kathy came up with a precious saying yesterday and I've adopted it as my mantra.

KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE PRIZE!!  I'm sure she heard it from someone else... but it's perfect for our situation.  THIS my friends IS the PRICE we pay for SAILING IN PARADISE.  And, we love it.

We shall persevere and we shall succeed.  Miss Sophie is very excited about standing on top of her favourite rock in the world. It's on the beach at Isla San Francisco.  AND, we're really looking forward to sharing this beautiful anchorage (and others) with good friends Sue and John who will be joining us for at least the first portion of our cruising season.  Heck, they've even volunteered to come down to San Carlos early and help us prep the boat.  It's all good... and we're pretty pumped about it so stay tuned.

I hope all of you have weathered the BC drought and are looking forward to cooler and wetter temperatures.  I wish you all a good September.  Thanks for sticking with us as we begin our travels south to the good ship Shannon's Spirit.   Talk to you soon.....  CJ

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Homeless no more....

There is a certain age, I think, when being homeless has its attraction. Yup; free of debt, free to roam, no worries related to maintenance, repairs, insurance, garden care, and all the rest of the responsibilities that come with home ownership...  Well, that age is a whole lot younger than we are now!  We Capricorns seem to require a certain amount of dirt under our feet and all that goes with looking after that domestic patch. We simply start to disassemble without the weight of responsibility to keep us grounded. And so, as most of you already know, and after 9 months of so-called 'freedom', we made the leap back into home ownership; and we're glad we did.

We found a home (basically a rancher with a half basement)  on a nice sized lot and in a quiet neighbourhood not far from where we used to live.  We're still about half way between town and the marinas in Maple Bay and we're very happy with the situation. The following photos are provided as per your requests.  We hope you approve of our selection.

And now, as summer marches firmly towards fall, we must focus on our preparations for the upcoming cruising season in Mexico.  Yes, we're heading back... to the good ship Shannon's Spirit.  She's waiting for us to come and finish her renos in time for the start of the sailing season.  We'll be driving down and carrying those materials we need for her restoration... and we're looking forward to spending the winter exploring the coast of the Baja and all it has to offer.

We will stay in touch as we drive south (RVers still want to hear about places we like and don't like) and we'll share our stories of our explorations of the Sea of Cortez... as they occur.  So please stay tuned.

Adios (for now).  CJ

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Ode to a truck...

Those of you who know me well know how much I've loved and treasured Chuck (the truck) over these past 16 years. He's served us well since the day in 1999 when I picked him up all shiny and new. With nary a complaint he has pushed up and over mountains, soldiered on through deserts and ranch land, humped and bumped over old logging roads to hidden fishing lakes and, in these last few years, he has put his heart and his pistons into pulling our trailer (TT Lucy) and carrying a huge load of gear to and from Mexico. Kathy, myself, and even "the Princess" owe a great debt to this little Ford Ranger that just 'kept on going' despite the major tasks we signed him up for.  

I can even report he has quite a following. I have been approached by more than one stranger asking if "this was Chuck" and inquiring after his health and well-being. Seems he's made quite an impression on you blog followers over the years.  At times I've even thought of contacting the Ford Company to see if they wanted to use him as a poster guy. Anyway.....

With some sadness we realized this past year that Chuck was tiring and, with the vision of what would happen if he was to break down in either the US or Mexico, we decided to take a look around at some possible new generations.  "No sweat" we thought, "we'll just take a look".  Well, my gawd... it's like 'just going to look' at a litter of puppies!!  Soooo, to make a long story short, we went, we looked, we bought, and we think we got a pretty good deal.

And so, without any further discussion, let me please introduce...


2015 Dodge RAM 1500 4 WD w/5.7 l Hemi, Quad Cab

Now I'll admit he looks a bit like 'bling'... and we'll have to figure out how to dress him down a bit before we hit the southern border, but oh my he's beautiful; and, he pulls like a team of Percherons. Towing payload is 10,000 lbs... and we'd pretty much have to load Lucy up with gold ingots to weigh her down that much.

Oh yes, and for those who want to know... "why the name Rikki??" Well, it's because Rikki loves Lucy of course...  :-)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Catching Up...

Howdy folks, 'tis little ol' me... checking in, to say  hello and that we hope you're having a good summer so far.  Yes, the heat has been exhausting... and yes, we too are worried about what this lack of water is doing to our planet in general and our neighborhood in particular. When one considers the number of forest fires burning, the oppressive heat, and the pestilence (eg: bugs) that are reproducing like wild fire and starting to cause problems for the farmers et al.... well it would be easy to understand if some of the religions convinced we are going to self-destruct very soon... might be feeling pretty smug right now.

But we shall persevere. We shall become experts at micro-drip systems, heat pump / air conditioning machinery, and insulation installations... and we will do what we can to reduce the impact of our footprints as we go about our daily business and adventurous way of life.  And so it goes...

Now then, down to business.  We have so much to tell you... and don't want to bore you in the telling.  After much consideration, rife with acknowledgements that we have been very poor at sharing photographs with you, we have decided to bring you up to date one short vignette at a time.  Kathy has some marvelous video of the Princess she wants to share.  And, well ... I have a confession to make about dear old Chuck (you remember him.. Chuck the truck). True confessions will follow. And, yes, for those of you who have been asking... we will pull together some photos of our new digs.  At least the heavy work is now done and our home is shaping up.  Finally, we will move smoothly to the plans and preparations for our upcoming sojourn back to Mexico and the SV Shannon's Spirit.

So, for starters... let me turn this over to Kathy who will walk you through some of the ways our little wonder is dealing with her new life.

Hi folks.  It's been 7 months since we arrived back in Canada and our almost-14 year old pup went through her rear leg amputation surgery. Looking back at the videos of Sophie which we posted back in December, I realize now that I must have been feeling kinda sappy and exhausted at the time (have to admit that the musical accompaniment might have been just a bit much!).  Well, life is pretty much back to normal now and she is getting around just fine. While she tires more easily these days, she's as excited as ever to get out on the local trails or down to the beach and has settled right back in to life aboard when out sailing with us.  She even joined us on a little sailing race last month and quickly adapted her technique for hanging on while on a starboard tack... with her chin hooked firmly over the cockpit combing!

So.. I thought it was time to give you a look at how far Sophie has progressed since those early days post-surgery.

Hanging in her new back yard

Showing off her new blanket
(a present from her friends Diesel, Shep and Spice "the cat")

Life is good

Catching a nap on a windless sailing trip

Here are a few clips of her doing some of her favourite things, out-and-about around Maple Bay:

Sophie On Canada Trail - Day 18 - Clip 1 from Kathy Mulholland on Vimeo.

Sophie - 3 1/2 months post surgery - walking near home from Kathy Mulholland on Vimeo.

Sophie - 4 months after surgery - out for a walk from Kathy Mulholland on Vimeo.

Sophie - 4 1/2 months after surgery - on the beach from Kathy Mulholland on Vimeo.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

No, we haven't dropped off the planet....

Hello everyone,

You could be forgiven for thinking we'd taken wing and flown off to some uncharted place.... somewhere that doesn't understand currency, mean dogs, paper work, home inspections, renovation challenges, that water 'always' runs down hill... even if your house is in the way (no we didn't have a flood), and somewhere without communication and technology.  Sorry I haven't written for a while.

We have been busy; very busy.  It feels like we work from dawn till dusk... but we are slowly moving forward, toward the place where we can dust ourselves off and carry on enjoying life, sailing, gardening, and just plain hanging about with our friends.  Sounds marvelous doesn't it?  We think so.

You know we bought a house and moved in on March 2nd.  From then until May 5th we have been living on plywood floors and using our camping chairs and dishes (with a few additions here and there) and a borrowed blow-up bed; and we have had workmen (painters, plumbers, floor layers) in and out of the house much of the time. While that sounds rather uncomfortable, it's been pretty good.  We've had a chance to get to know the house and property better and to make wiser decisions re the priorities of the renos' we had hoped to complete.  Suffice to say by May 5th we had a fantastic drainage system in place, new carpets and flooring, fresh paint on the walls and a few changes to the gardens and yard completed; and we now sit surrounded by boxes of gear we hadn't sorted before packing up the old house.  It's amazing how much 'stuff' one (or two) can collect over a life-time... and it's crazy how some things (that look like absolute garbage to someone else) can feel like such treasures of days gone by.  Like Dosey.  Oh, never mind, I expect you've all got a stuffed pink cow you nursed through years of your childhood....  You know what I mean.

Like all of life there have been some celebrations and some trials over the past couple of months. One of the neat things that occurred is the retrieval of our little dinghy... the one that we bought in 2005 and then carried aboard Shannon all the way from Victoria to the Sea of Cortez in 2011.  During that trip it sat semi-inflated, lashed to our bow, while I scrambled over it.. jumped on top of it.. abused it in many ways... yet he was still there, ready to go when we arrived in La Paz.  'Dobbey' as he was named (after the famous house elf) served us well during our explorations of the Sea.  The first year we left for the season he was deflated and shoved into Shannon's not-so-spacious interior.  The second year he was deflated, wrapped up and tied up with rolls of shade cloth and yards of line... and then strapped onto Shannon's cabin top. Then, to add insult to injury, he was dragged off Shannon, lashed onto the top of Chuck (you remember Chuck the truck) and driven north, back to BC, where he was then unceremoniously dumped into the workshop/garage of a good friend who didn't mind keeping him for us until we found a home.  Well, we picked up the little dinghy last week and carefully unwrapped him in our back yard. I'd figured he'd be crispy and cracked in most of his folds....but, no, to our grand surprise he unfolded very well. While scrubbing him off (he was covered with wind dust and road dirt) I did hear a tiny hissing and discovered one small pin-hole on the port side rear pontoon.  That is the ONLY one discovered so far and Kathy has already done a fine job patching it up. This morning we're taking him down to the water in preparation for a short outing on Mojo. I must tell you I am very impressed with this staying power. In case you're interested, the dinghy is a 2005 Aquapro 8'6" with an aluminum bottom.  You've seen photos of it on the blog and I can tell you that, so far, it has handled up to a 4 hp, 4 stroke Yamaha outboard with no difficulty.  It's also a delight to row as the aluminum hard bottom has a good keel to it and, overall, it's quite light to carry.

Princess Sophie is doing well.  She is definitely getting older..sleeping more and less inclined to play with her toys... But, she is healthy, she is happy, and she's really enjoying her yard, her short daily walks, and of course...most of all... her garden chair. Kathy and I are also well, albeit a little tired with all the unpacking.

Tomorrow, all going well, we're going to take a few days off and go 'floating' on Mojo.  Probably not far, but the change of pace will be great. Oh, did I mention? The little ship Mojo was actually together enough to participate in this years Sail Past for the Maple Bay Yacht Club.  She was a long way from the prettiest ship there, but she strutted her stuff, enjoyed a brisk sail around the bay and managed to pass the Commodore's platform without hitting it and with a sharp release of the jib, a snap of a salute, and a sound retrieval. What she lacked in looks, I believe she made up for in performance.  

I hope you are all doing well and enjoying early summer. I know we are and we count ourselves lucky that we are into our new home and already looking forward to a full summer. Take good care out there. Enjoy, and 'live' every day.


Monday, March 9, 2015

Finally... A new address...

Still out there?  Waiting patiently for some news... any news?? Sorry for the lengthy pause...

You would be forgiven for thinking we'd scored seat
on one of the new, private 'flights' to the moon...  Given my propensity for typing (oops,
ust dated myself... make that
hitting the keyboard') at all hours of the day and night, what else could have wooed me away from these magical keys?

et's just say
​ we've been busy.​
Not only do we have a new address, but we
 also moved
​ in​
​ We're not fully installed yet as we still have some painting and flooring to do... and ​
​our furniture and belongings will remain in the care of the moving and storage company until we're ready for them.  But we, the Princess, four camp chairs, a low profile marine cocktail table... AND a couple of duffle bags full of clothes - have moved into our new digs. Oh, and there might be just a few boxes and bins of stuff that have tagged along and are stacked in the 

​We're really happy with our new home.  It's best described as an older but very well maintained rancher with a basement and it sits on an almost flat .48 of an acre of land.  We're in a quiet cul de sac and look across the street at a small neighbourhood park. We're right in the area we had hoped to live; not far from where we were, but in a much flatter area and with a little more room to breathe.

Let me share with you a delightful moment.  You may recall our Princess hasn't had the best of years.  And, although she's doing very well, she has become a little jaded with the lack of a steady address.  In fact, the other day when I said something about going home... she just rolled her little eyes...  "Home, she said, Which one this time?"  Anyway, last Tuesday, when we opened the front door to our new, empty home... she rushed in ahead of us.  Head high, eyes sparkling, little tail wagging she woke up right before our eyes.  With a big smile on her face she set off to explore.  She literally ran down the hallway ahead of us, checking out each room as she went... popping back into the hallway to keep her eye on us, and then running on to the next room to check it out.  I thought she was going to feint when we showed her the backyard. Typical poodle.. she thought she'd walked into the biggest salad bar in the world.  Caught her trying to eat her way through the yard (not possible).  She was so excited she ran in circles on the grass... just beside herself.  She was one happy little girl when she flopped herself down at the end of the exploration.  "This, she said very clearly, shall be my new home... and I love it".

So my friends, there you have it.  We've been off the air waves, but we've made progress... finally.  It feels good to be settling in... it feels darn good.  We all needed to take a break and spring is a beautiful time of year to be getting to know a new address.  

SV Shannon's Spirit is doing well.  She had a pretty major leak coming in from a starboard stanchion that has now been repaired and she is rests peacefully in the storage yard, waiting for the new season next fall.  We're sorry to have had to miss a sailing season... but it seems we have done some good work here at home.  It's all working out.

Thank you again, from the bottom of our hearts, to our friends and family who have been so supportive as we've worked through some pretty tough decisions. We are so blessed; by life and by friendship. 

We hope you are enjoying what spring weather you can.  I'm feeling just a little guilty when I look out the window at the daffodils... with the knowledge friends in the east may miss theirs completely by the time their snow drifts melt away. 

May the warm winds of March and April bring smiles to you all... adios for now.  CJ

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Had a good time, but glad to be home....

Hi everyone... I arrived home last night safe and sound. I am pretty tired after two days of traveling but so very glad to be home. Had a good time working on the boat and SSpirit seemed to enjoy the attention. We'll post some photos when we have time. Hope all is well with all of you... Enjoy your day... CJ

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