Thursday, January 3, 2019

Gettin' a little wet and chilly...

Now, I don't want you thinkin' we're afraid of a little wind and rain... but it goes without saying... there are choices to be made here.  And, I'm not saying we don't love the seasons (missed them even) and we absolutely love helping out the winter birds in the neighbourhood, and seeing our dear friends and family... but fact is... well... there are alternatives, appealing alternatives.

So, I'm here to tell you we have made a decision; actually we knew about this back in November when we deposited Ricky and Lucy (that'd be the truck 'n trailer, aka "the rig") in Desert Hot Springs, in a small storage lot, secured within a recovering RV park (recovering because it has new owners and they're doing a good job of bringing the place back to life).

Yup, we kind of figured we might need a wee break from our beloved BC winter and so we set up this plan, see... It calls for us to take off... not for 7 months like before, not even for 6... just a wee short 2 months (8 weeks) hardly any time at all.  But, it will be time enough to warm up, catch a little fix of desert, and see a few friends (some of them even cruisers like us who are currently enjoying more sand and sun than water).

And so, we are in that final leg of preparation; preparing boat, house, car and selves - for a little adventure :-)  We'll head out mid-January and be back before the end of March... that's the plan.  I'll blog as we travel for those who are interested in the places we visit.  And I'm carrying the draft manuscript of Women in Blue with me... no worries there - the editing continues.  We hope to be ready to publish by the end of next summer so stay tuned on that front.

I want to take a moment to thank you folks for supporting this blog and my writing.  It means a lot to me and it's very motivating as well.  I also want to wish each and every one of you all the best in 2019.  It will be an interesting year for sure; lots to keep up with in the news and many changes happening closer to home.

So for now, know we are well and planning on heading out soon. And, we're wishing all of you a Happy New Year.  May 2019 provide all you wish for, along with some peace, happiness and good health.

TTFN   (tatafornow)    CJ

Sunday, December 2, 2018

We're back !!!

It's December 2nd. We've been raking leaves and tidying the gardens and pathways. There are buds on the small trees, rhododendrons and shrubs. Acorns that catapulted to earth from our four Garry Oak trees (like a barrage of machine-gun fire)  are all sprouting (good for the Oaks, not so good for us). It looks and feels like early spring!  Anyone else getting chills down their spine when they read this?

Oh yeah, hi there. It's me... I'm back!  Yes, rum and eggnog in hand (or at least on my desk beside the key-board) I have decided it's high time I checked in with you all.. and brought us back together for some long over-due updates and howdy-do's.

When we disappeared... we had finally managed to import and bring home our wee little ship Shannon's Spirit.  Now, before you ask.. I'll tell you straight up.. we didn't get much boating in this summer. Turns out there's a big difference between sliding into town for a few months between spring and fall... and then sliding out again before the real work starts... and actually landing home with no intention of leaving.

Make no mistake, we are home and we are digging in to the domestical life...  house, grounds, vehicles, trailer, and of course SSpirit.. all demanding attention at the same time.  Thank goodness the fence we built last year is still standing.  And, thank you past owners, Marilyn & Tom, for creating such a wonderful home to come back to.  And so it goes: we're home, we're involved, and we're so happy to see friends and family (who are friends too) again.. and with time to actually have good visits. We're also finding ourselves having time to become more interested (and perhaps active) in community-based situations.  I actually did some research before voting in our municipal election this year... go figure.

As well, we remain in touch with our cruising family.  Several have contacted us asking about the decisions we made in bringing SSpirit home; like which type of transport, what company, what paper-work and rules and laws.. etc.  I now have one email I send and re-send and then offer to answer questions. It's interesting to note that quite a few of the folks who are like us in thoughts and spirit (no pun intended) are looking at their options just as we did; and several are deciding it's time to come home. That's all I'm going to say about that.  We all make our own decisions, based upon our priorities and our observations related to those priorities. For us, the end of the last season was the right time to pull up stakes and return; not to our previous life... because we have changed ... (like you would.. after sailing down the coast of North America and taking up a way of life for 7 months a year for the past 7 1/2 yrs. ,,,) but to a life where even though we had left our address, our friends, and our families, were welcomed back with open arms. You can't beat that and we're very happy to be home.

One of the things we did in order to accept our future in bringing SSpirit home... and returning to a much different, seasonal, climate.. was to realize we weren't forced to stay home ALL winter. Nope, Lucy was sitting there (if you don't already know, or may have forgotten... Lucy is our little Casita trailer).  Well she was sitting there in the driveway, all forlorn and such... and feeling pretty much left off the party list.  So, with very little effort, we were able to concoct a vision of taking Ricki (the truck, for the uninformed) and Lucy (the aforementioned trailer) on a small 8-9 week adventure SOUTH to the WARMTH of California, Nevada, Arizona, etc.  You get the picture.  And, we decided that mid-January to mid-March seemed like a good time to set forth on said adventure. As you know we have very much enjoyed our camping trips down and back to Yuma (where we'd leave Lucy and then drive into Mexico and to the boat) over the past many years.  We passed many places we'd like to see more of and visited many places where we'd like to stay longer. It seemed pretty clear there was more to be seen than we had explored.  And so (to quote a friend) "a plan was hatched".

Before I get into the 'plan' I should share a bit of our reality with you.  So far, it's all sounding rosy... and I wish for everyone life could always be without sorrow, sadness, and challenges.  But, that's not usually the case and we are no different.  Sadly this year we lost a beloved member of the family. She was a unique individual, stellar in so many ways. HawkOwl (her chosen name) had a life filled with her own kind of adventures and she excelled in so many ways few have a firm grasp on her as a whole. She was a child of the  '20's born in Victoria. She was Kathy's father's little sister. Moira (her given name) traveled and studied extensively. She became an actress and a dancer, studying and performing with the famous Japanese Noh theatre group.  She also earned her Doctorate degree and taught as a professor in the Theatre department at the University of B.C. for many years. Retiring from UBC, Dr. Mulholland became a Registered Clinical Counselor and soon thereafter took up residency on Gabriola Island.  After a few years, she reconnected with forgotten artistic talents, joined the growing group of Island artists and became a respected sculptor.  HawkOwl will be well remembered by those who knew her. She was a force to be reckoned with when it came to women's issues and the problems of the world at large. Her spirit poured out, through her hands and into her creations.  HO will surely be missed and I'm pretty sure her concerns for the planet and for humanity will live on, as will her teachings and nuggets of wisdom - passed on when deemed necessary.

And so, our life continues... We're home and we're adapting to life where winter looms menacingly on the horizon.  We did prepare for it (even if it hasn't come yet).  We are the proud owners of a gorgeous wood burning stove, carefully installed in our 'to be a' rec/dart room.  We have excavated a guest room and now a rec room (hereafter called "The Cabin" because it has almost everything one could need to ride out a longish power outage) out of the half-basement below our rancher. And, as of today, we have filled the woodshed with dry and split wood.  It was still half full when we moved in and it's now wholly filled (with room of course for the wood gatherer).

We are ready for winter.       So, how come there are blooms on the rhododendrons?  :-)

Here's trusting all is well in your world.

Adios for now... CJ

PS Stay tuned for more news of our pending "Winter Escape" (mid-Jan) 'n stuff like that.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

SSpirit - a new country... a new life

​So much to tell you... so little time.  We've been dashing about, trying to prepare our home and gardens to be abandoned yet again; all those things you usually do over two months, we're trying to do in 5 days.  I'm happy to report the freighter MV AAL Singapore (the green freighter in the photo) is docking as I write in Nanaimo harbour.  She has a whole lot of sticks poking up off her deck.... one of them is SSpirit.  

It's been a long, complex, frustrating haul... but I can assure you we are very excited to be home and to have the boat arriving in Canada as well.  ​Even Customs has been good to us; clearing us without hesitation thanks, no doubt, to the professional services of our Boat Broker (Simon of King Brothers in Victoria).

We attend to the dock tomorrow and, after boarding the freighter in order to climb to SSpirit's deck and detach her back-stay, we will be shipped around to the 'wet' side to receive her as she is unloaded. All going well (and the engine starts) we'll then head to Nanaimo Yacht Club with fingers crossed they'll have room for us (reciprocal yacht club has it's good points) for a few days of cleaning, unwrapping, and preparing SSpirit for her  journey south to her new home.

Yes, we are excited.  Will share photos and tales with you later.  Hope all is well with each of you. Adios for now. CJ

Photo credits go to Brian & Leslie of SV Ubiquity, a beautiful 34' who will unload one boat ahead of us.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Busy times...

It's been a little busy around here... time for a catch up. As you know we were planning on shipping SSpirit home on a freighter in June; and we've been here in La Paz getting the boat ready for her trip so we could leave her in the care of friends and get ourselves home before the end of May. Well... didn't we get offered space for SSpirit on an earlier freighter... and didn't we say YES!! Getting the boat home in time for a decent summer of cruising in beautiful BC and having the opportunity to get on with our new life (living in one country), and getting to see our family and friends even sooner.... almost too good to be true. You bet we said yes! And so, we picked up the pace, which is why you haven't heard much from us. It's a busy time down here what with physical preparations, Mexican officialdom, and never-ending paperwork. But we're getting through it and will be ready on time. More good news is Kathy has had the opportunity to slip away for a few days on a wee expedition with a group of scientists. She's out there right now observing (and learning) some local scientists who are studying whale sharks, sharks and rays... awesome opportunity! She will tell you all about it later.

So bottom line... we'll be home on the 13th and SSpirit will be around (at least in Victoria) hopefully by the 19th. Pretty awesome, hey. Will write more once we're home and a bit better rested. Hope all is well with each of you. Adios for now. CJ

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Marina Palmira, Slip 335 ... 1630 hrs.

This is just a short note... to let those of you with vivid imaginations (sometimes egged on by my comments, I admit) know we are safely alongside slip 335 at Marina Palmira. This will be our last 'docking' here in Mexico and we're happy to report we came smoothly alongside without any hysterics whatsoever. Boaters know of what we speak. The rest of you just have to guess :-)

Yes, we have many stories to tell. We did indeed have a magnificent 'last spin' in the Sea of Cortez. We visited old favourites (people and anchorages) and met new ones (of both). We even took a few photos... so, stay tuned.

Will write about our last season when time allows. For now, we are trying to adjust to the massive heat (for us) that is La Paz at this time of year... get the boat ready for her journey north... and take care of other various things on our plates.

We hope all is well with each of you, and apologize for being out of touch for so long.... Coming from our neck of the woods it's hard to imagine how out of contact small villagers are. We have had no, or very little, news and contact via the internet or cell phone for the last several weeks.... and we're glad to be back!! Talk again soon.. CJ

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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Southbound again

Hi folks,

Just a short note from our SSB radio email to say that we have pulled up our anchor and left beautiful Agua Verde this morning. We are motoring along in very smooth seas, heading for the village of San Evaristo tonight.

All is well aboard, except for our obstinate/flaky Pactor radio modem which, for some unexplainable reason, has finally decided to cooperate this morning, allowing us to download a bit of weather info and send this email.

Hope all is well with you.

Kathy & CJ.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Sleepless nights...

It's 0012 hrs (that's right, twelve minutes after midnight), Friday the 13th is over, and I'm cuddled up with my favourite fleece blanket in the cockpit. I'm here because we've been riding out a late-season Norther, along with at least twenty other boats, in the mooring bouy field of Puerto Escondido (PE). No worries re: safety; the mooring bouys are fairly new and, apparently, checked every month and I'm all kitted out (ships rules) with my PFD and tether on... flashlight's in one pocket and sailors knife is in the other.

Previously we had been enjoying the beauty of anchorages in and around Isla Carmen. We had been in PE doing laundry and getting some groceries and, as always, watching the weather forecasts. We knew there was a blow coming but had a couple days before it was due so had gone back out to Bahia Marquer. As the predictions of big wind got larger and larger (one source predicted gusts as high as 50!) we realized we needed to head in sooner than planned in order to have the freedom to select a good mooring ball. Having done so, we settled in for the ride.

Preparation for that 'ride' was sort of like getting ready for a long crossing. We 'ship-shaped' the interior, making sure everything was in its place and nothing was left on tables or shelves that could fall off and break or get under foot. We made sure our fuel tank was topped up and we had enough water, and we got out equipment like pocket-sized flashlights, knives, the big spotlight, etc.

Overnight Thursday was calm and we slept well... until 0600 hrs. Friday morning when, as predicted, the winds arrived with a blast. And so they continued for most of the day. Most boats (and ours is no different) spend their time on a mooring bouy doing 'the dance'. It's not unlike the two-step... you know "slow, slow... quick quick" repeat. Each boat swings differently; the style determined by hull design, wind and wave direction, geographical and environmental factors, and Lady Luck. But dance they do, and Shannon's Spirit is no exception. As well as doing the mooring bouy two-step she also leans a bit, pushed over by the gusts; which can be disconcerting at times... but so far, so good. The main way we cope with all this complexity is doing as much prep as we can think of and then setting up anchor watches.

Any time there's a need for a serious 'anchor watch' Kathy and I take turns. One sits up and 'watches' while the other tries to get some sleep. Today/tonight is such a time. We selected our mooring bouy carefully when we arrived; picked one at the north end of the bay, situated in the lee of a large hill. We knew we'd still get the wind but we're close enough to the head of the bay we figured we'd get a lot less wave action due to the short fetch. After listening to some of the other, further away, boats today... we're pretty sure our 'figuring' has paid off. Don't get me wrong, we've still got plenty of wind... saw gusts in the low 30's today (and that's knots, not MPH or KMs).

Zzzzz hi, I'm back. Tried to sleep. Couldn't. The two of us sat up for a while as the gusts are getting higher (as predicted but no where near 50...yet). Kathy's trying to sleep now and I'm on watch. The time is 0300 hrs. And the gusts are... hang on, I ll go measure.

OK, just clocked one at 25.3 Knts. Seemed bigger but that's what the machine said. So, besides the fact it's dark, seas I can hardly see are rolling by, the boat is sailing on her tether, and the wind is going from 25+ gusts, dropping to almost nothing, and then filling in again with a howl as it hisses through the rigging... well, besides all that, we 're doing great! The stars are brilliant (there's no moon tonight) and it will be dawn in less than 3 hours.... at which time I may retire from, yet, another sleepless night.

G'night y'all. CJ

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