Saturday, December 9, 2017

Still hangin’ in Mazatlan...

> Yup, we re still here... Remember that saying, about "making your sailing plans in sand, below the high water mark"? That's cuz Mother Nature changes her mind way too often and can thwart even the best organized and researched plans. Having waited two extra weeks for a new exhaust hose, we are now pretty much ready to go and were planning on leaving this Saturday. All is ready. The larder is full, the freezer is doing it's job and we just have to top up the water tanks... BUT, MNature has another plan for us. She is reinforcing her reign over the winds of the Sea and showing us how she can manipulate them to her heart's content.
> I'm sure you've been reading about the wild fires in California and the poor folks who are being driven from their homes. Well, those same Santa Anna winds are the ones that head south into the Sea of Cortez... and we call them "Northers" because they scream down from the North. As of late yesterday afternoon... they are upon us. They whistled through the rigging all night and, as of now, are casting large seas with only 5 second breaks between them at the shoreline. They're expected to continue for at least two days and the automated weather forecast videos show some of them roaring off the land from the east, joining up with those from the north, and literally turning southbound to join forces.
> The good news is the projections show them slowing down a bit and we may be able to get away on Sunday. Vague plan is to head for Isla Isabel just in case there actually might be a window for us to stop this year. We've tried three times to visit this Island nick-named "The Galapagos of the Sea". It has two large rookeries.. one Frigate birds and the other Blue Footed Boobies and it's one of those places you just have to see. We shall try one more time. The weather has to be quite benign and the anchorage spots are limited... so we shall see. Either way, we'll then carry on south to Chacala or Mantanchen Bay, with the next stop being our current destination of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle (commonly called La Cruz by those of us who can't spell). We really like La Cruz. It's a small, friendly town with great restaurants, live music, and the best Sunday market anywhere.
> So for now we wait, and continue preparing to leave... while we watch the weather patterns develop and dissipate and develop again. Oh well, there are far worse places to be 'stuck' than Mazatlan. We'll continue south when it's the right time to do so.
> Hope all is well with everyone of you... Oh yes, just the first reminder: Once we leave the dock, and are at sea or anchored off small Islands and fishing villages, we will not have Internet. That being said we'll be able to stay in touch with short Blog messages over the SSB Radio. For those of you who receive our Blog postings via email... please remember... DO NOT hit "reply" to send us a return message. The SSB Radio can be used to receive and send out short messages. Returning your message along with the Blog posting will clog/back up/ render very difficult/ our SSB Radio System. If you need or wish to contact us by email, please send a separate email message to one of us. We'll get it when we are able.
> So for now.... adios. Hope all is well with each of you.... we'll be here, at lovely El Cid Resort in Mazatlan, until we leave. And we're available via normal email until we tell you we've left. Take good care.. will talk again soon.
> The photo was taken by our friends Barb and Jim, folks we met at our favourite Bungalows and have known for several years now. As you can see, we're doing fine.

PS: Update... well the plans are made. We're checked out of the marina and hittin' the road (er swells) tomorrow morning 0800. All going well, we'll head all the way to La Cruz. Will be in touch. Adios for now. CJ and K

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Slight delay...

Howdy folks, all is well here.... just thought it'd be a good idea to let you know our departure from Mazatlan will be slightly delayed. Nothing new for Mexico... we're just waiting for some parts. One, not so serious, is an in-line check valve for the refrigerator drain. The other (won't leave home without it) is a replacement exhaust hose for the engine. Luckily Rafa (our mechanic) spotted the beginnings of a crack in our exhaust hose... and that is not a good thing. Between exhaust into the cabin and water into the boat... not a good thing to leave unattended. And so we wait.

With luck the hose will arrive by the weekend and be installed on Monday... fingers crossed we'll be on our way after that. Will let you know.

Some good news... our little outboard was acting up and, this morning, two cruising buddies put their heads together and showed us how to clear the carburetor. Seems ok now.

Hope all is well with each of you... and the rain is not washing away your gardens...

Ttfn. (Tatafornow). CJ

Sent from my iPad

Friday, November 24, 2017

Gary's tarp

Every so often in life one receives a gift from a friend that just keeps giving over the years.  
Such is the gift we received from Gary many years ago.  

He created a square sunbrella tarp with seams and grommets and a loop in the middle for us; and that gift has proven to be a good friend indeed.  It shields our forward bunk from the heavy dew at night, it protects the forward cabin from the torturous heat of the sun by day, and it creates a wind funnel to direct the breeze into the open hatch and through the boat. This magnificent cultured piece of cloth can also double as a portable shade cloth for the cockpit. It could be shaped to gather rain water, and it can be wrapped around something needing to be carried any length of distance.

So thank you Gary for your gift of time and skill and the creation of this terrific piece of ship's equipment. It's holding up well and has earned a permanent place in the ship's critical inventory.

Muchas gracias me amigo.

Sent from my Samsung device

Sunday, November 19, 2017

El Cid Marina, aaaah

Hola amigos y amigas... yes, we have moved. As much as we like Marina Mazatlan, the construction, the dust, the extremely loud restaurant music, the lack of a breeze, and the lack of shore-side 'facilities' as a result of the construction... have forced us to look to El Cid for rescue. And, as you already know, we love El Cid. While the music can be loud, the beautifully landscaped grounds, pools and restaurants, and friendly staff.. make up for it. So, SSpirit rests comfortably between two friends (Cuba Libre and Full and By) on B dock. It s not quite the same without Dolphin Tales being here (they went home last year) but we'll get by :-)

Life in Mazatlan hasn't changed too much. Pedestrians are still mistaken for red cones on a driver training range (to be used as pylons for interpretive driving practise) and traffic control lights...aren't. If I hadn't been told that flies spit when they land on something (thanks Dennis :-) I might have been able to get used to them. But now... well that's what I think of when I see them settling on the rim of my glass. I'm sure I'll get over it... I hope.

And/but, the people are still delightful. It's pretty neat to actually be remembered by folks... and they're still smiling at us and glad to see us. The sun is shining (a lot) the birds are singing and the flowers are in bloom. They say the humidity should calm down soon (I can only hope...).

That's all for today. Know we are well and moored in a good place amongst friends. We hope all is well with each of you... adios for now. CJ

Sent from my iPad

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Wed. Nov. 15th 80 degrees 93% humidity... at 0930

We had a great day today. Up, relatively early, and at the boat by 0803 (just in time for the morning radio net). We worked through the morning... Rafa (our favourite Mazatlan mechanic) arrived at 0930 to service the engine. That went well, even though he discovered the start of a crack in our exhaust hose (which I would have likely missed on my own). The replacement hose is now on order. I really like Rafa. He's not only a good mechanic (studied four years in the US), but he also speaks more English than I speak Spanish, he doesn't mind answering my questions, and he even laughs at my sense of humour. So engine is ready (hose is on order) and we're good to leave the dock on Saturday early o'clock... and move all the way up to Marina El Cid 🙂.

We dragged ourselves through the heat-induced haze of mid-afternoon and then took the 'White' bus (more about that another time) back to the bungalow, where we cooled down and cleaned up. What I want to tell you about is our evening.

After cooling down as much as possible, we dressed (as well as you can having brought very few clothes cuz the majority are still squished into blue bins on the boat, waiting to be unleashed and stowed properly). Then we donned beach-walking sandals and wandered down the beach, into the setting sun, to Tony's restaurant. We have been here each time we've visited Mazatlan and had time to do so. Today was our third visit. There are three Tony's there... but papa Tony (our server) is our favourite and why we keep coming back... well, that and the delicious mango prawns, oh, and the 3/4 price margueritas, and... after a scrumptious meal.. tonight, Tony brought us each a Bailey's and cream -on the house. It was a wonderful meal, made all the more enjoyable by the scene unfolding before us as we watched the sun sink over the nearby island.

The table we chose was right up at the shore-side wall and enjoyed an unobstructed view of the water, horizon and nearby islands. Sue and John, if you're reading this, the location is just south of where we came into Maz after crossing from La Paz. You'll also remember the fish boats... the shrimpers. Well, as we sat watching the sun sink below the horizon, we watched two shrimpers, all lit up, making their way along the shore and into the deeper waters just north of us. I couldn't help remembering the morning we approached Mazatlan, after a 48 hour crossing from the Baja. We were all up for the arrival, particularly given the 'more than 12' shrimpers we had to approach and meander our way through to reach our destination. By day they are typical, rusty-looking, rattle trap fish boats. By night, they became mystical creatures worthy of a spooky Walt Disney film.. lit up with draping film over extending arms... moving slowly, yet erratically, and often crossing our path without warning. We made it through and arrived at Mazatlan safely. Tonight we enjoyed both the view and the memories.

I hope your view and your memories are warming you tonight. Stay well... and live every day.

Adios for now. CJ

Sent from my iPad

Monday, November 13, 2017

Safely settled in Mazatlan

Hallelujah, we are here! Indeed... It actually feels kind of strange; first time (ever) that we have started our season by flying down. Five hours flight vs. two week drive. There are definitely differences, some good and some less good :-). For instance, we left in 5 degrees and arrived in 32 degrees with 75% humidity. Now that doesn't sound too bad, given all of our previous experiences arriving in early October. BUT without the two weeks of warming our blood up and getting used to warmer temps.... it knocked the stuffing right out of our legs.. or almost.

Suffice to say we are here, have arrived safely, cleared Customs without a hitch (yes, those magical lists of contents managed to assuage the Customs Officer's worst fears and, after a cursory paw-through the first box contents and CJ's running commentary about Canadiense Valero .. all going back to Canada, personal clothing, basic maintenance... etc) he waved the rest of our luggage through and we were officially welcomed to Mexico.

We were well received at the Mar Sol Bungalows, our home for the first week (at least where we will rest our heads at the end of each sufferingly hot day). They are a short, jouncey (that must be a word) 11peso bus ride to the Marina entrance, and they are across the street from the Pueblo Bonito Hotel which has a nice, walkable beach.. in case it cools down enough to actually want to walk along hot sand. For now we must reserve the early, and cooler, hours for getting to the boat and getting some work done before the heat slows us down to a snails pace.

As for SSpirit? She s doing great so far. Beto had cleaned her off and waxed and polished Hull, decks and stainless steel... saving us a week of labour and it was very nice arriving to a boat all uncovered and cleaned up. Unfortunately the marina's washroom facilities are still under renovation and won t be ready any time soon. Just a little more motivation to tidy things up and move out to Marina El Cid before taking off. We hope to set that up and be ready for Friday.

For now, we slather sunscreen, sweat a lot, drink a lot of water, and carry on. No problemo :-)

We also hope all is well with each of you. Stay warm and cozy... adios for now. CJ

Sent from my iPad

Thursday, November 9, 2017

It's time...

How does the song go?  "Our bags are packed, we're ready to go..."  Wow. Here it is early o'clock on the day we're leaving (cooling rapidly) BC and heading south to (really hot) Mazalan. Yet another whirlwind has whisked us through our summer months at home. This year we had two months longer than normal which was fantastic. We've had more time to see to home projects, visit with friends and family, and generally relax into a more domestic scene. Heck, we even had time to take in a movie and go for a few hikes. Kathy and our friend Holly actually took on a section of the Juan de Fuca trail and there's talk of doing more next year. For those of you who are wondering, I can assure you almost every spare hour was spent on a little project about the history of women in the VPD. Yes, I'm pleased to report there is an end in sight.

Before I go further, let me take a moment to ask you to pause... and to think about the service our First Responders provide us.  Men and women who, without hesitation, step forward to protect us and to help provide us with a better world to live in.  They go to work every day... every day, knowing they may not come home at the end of their shift.  We all watch TV and we all watch the 'doings' south of our border and in the rest of the world... and, I think, we become somewhat numb to the horrors of the violence our species can unleash. But that doesn't make it right, and it doesn't make it OK.  There is no place for violence in our world and we must never step back from the challenge of defining it and ending it.  Members of the law enforcement family lost a brother this week.  Constable John Davidson of the Abbotsford Police Department was a long serving police officer both here and in the UK.  He was married and raised a family while serving his communities.  He was loved by all who knew him.  He was a good man and he did not deserve to have the rest of his life snatched away from him.  Law enforcement officers in BC and across Canada, are in a state of shock and steeped in grief. This kind of violence is not supposed to happen in Canada and even though we train for it every day... John's death has rocked the policing family to it's very roots.  Our serving members will recover; they always do.  But the scars from this week will not fade, nor will the resolve to continue to serve and to continue to protect you and I from violent and mentally unbalanced human beings who live within our communities.  Please remember John Davidson and his family in your prayers.  And please be safe out there.

We lock the door and walk away from our home this morning, and we head to Sidney where my sister will be putting up with us... er I mean putting us up... for the afternoon and over-night. Then, at sparrow-fart, early o'clock, whatever you want to call it, we'll be up, coffee'd and out the door to a large taxi (yes we have a lot of gear; two suitcases, two carry-ons and two rather large cardboard boxes filled with... stuff for the boat of course).  Our flight leaves at 0630 and takes us all the way to Vancouver where we switch planes and head south directly to Maz.  We'll be bunking in to our favourite bungalows a few blocks from the marina.  We'll be down to the boat on Saturday morning, bright and early (before the temperature soars to 90) to open up SSpirit and see how she's doing.  We'll let you know what we find.

For now, know we are packed and ready; just have to water the plants and disconnect the car battery. Poor Rikki and Lucy sit in the driveway shivering.. wondering why on earth they aren't already in Yuma like previous years. And, yes, I admit it.  We're looking forward to our winter in the Sea.  We have big plans for all the places and people we hope to see. But, as always, we acknowledge our plans are still ... written in sand, below high water mark... we will see what we will see.

We were able to catch up with quite a few folks this summer.  For those of you we missed, please know we were thinking of you.. just ran out of time.  Our thoughts are also with our friends and their friends who were victims of the terrible forest fires this past year.  And, we are also growing more and more concerned about the state of our oceans, particularly our own Georgia Straight and our resident Orca population.  I'll write more about that later.

We hope you are all well, safe and warm.  Take good care.  I'll write again once we're in Mazatlan and settled in.  Adios for now me amigas y amigos.     CJ