Wednesday, October 19, 2016

All's well in San Carlos...

Hola, Buenos Dias. SSpirit's crew is back together and on the job. After a very uneventful (read that kind of boring) two-day journey CJ is back on duty in San Carlos. Scars from the wee bit of nose surgery are calming rapidly and it's all good.

Kathy has accomplished a huge amount during the last two weeks. The bottom repairs are all completed and a fresh coat of paint will be applied over the next two days. The electrical upgrades and installation of new batteries is complete and looks great. SSpirit is actually looking like a very nice sailboat once again. Our goal is to launch next Monday so we still have some work to do to get her ready for that. Once she's in the water we'll continue our prep and will move on board as soon as we can.

For those of you up in rainy and windy BC.. You might like to know highs here are in the mid 90's and it's still pretty humid... (I'm sure I'll get used to it soon... Gasp :-)

Bye by for now..... SSpirit is calling :-). Hope you all have a great day. CJ

Sent from my iPad

Monday, October 10, 2016

Catching up... it's October already.

Hi everyone.  It's been a while (at least it feels like it) since we've written.  Sorry for the absence... but here's how it's going.

CJ (that's me) had to return to Canada for a couple weeks...  Yup, one more spot of BCC to deal with.. this one on my nose of all places.  The good news is my appointment was at the MOHs clinic. If you haven't heard of the MOHs method.. check it out.  Instead of the cut and chop x 2 that was my lip, this kind is a one-shot deal.  You spend several hours.. most of it waiting for lab results..  but it's all dealt with on the same day.  And the staff and Doctors are excellent... So, except for the fact I had to leave Kathy slaving away in San Carlos.. I'm really glad I hooked up with the Skin Care Centre in Vancouver (thank you Tom and Shae for the tips). My black/purple eye is fading rapidly and the stitches are also quieting down... People don't avoid eye contact and kids don't stare anymore :-)

I have been extremely well cared for while at home.  Friends have insisted on feeding me wonderful meals and I'm even the lucky recipient of a loaned vehicle.  I'm feeling very spoiled.  I leave Duncan on Friday to spend a couple days in Vancouver and I fly out of YVR early Monday morning.  I should be back in San Carlos for dinner on Tuesday.  Yippee!!

Now then, as for Miss Kathy... well, she has been one very busy girl.  Even with all my organizing (those who know me know what I mean)... she has still had to deal with the unexpected issues that continue to pop up.... like the "oh, what's that" on the bottom of the hull.  Well, 'that' led to the discovery of a patch job gone bad.  N/K when the patch was done, but once you've discovered something like that... well you have to deal with it.  The potential for delamination is too great to ignore it.  Add that to the list.

I think it's safe to say the 'repair' work on SSpirit has become more of a 'refit' and, although it's frustrating and expensive... once completed, we should have one heck of a good and safe little ship with which to continue our explorations of the Sea of Cortez.  This years additions include (but are not limited to :-) 5 new batteries (the not-so-old AGMs died over the summer); a new battery selector switch; a new float switch for the bilge pump; a Balmar Regulator for the engine; a new and much more efficient raw water strainer for the engine; a new SSB antenna (to replace the one ripped of by Hurricane Newton); a PSS shaft seal (never could get the packing gland to drip properly); repair of the aforementioned hull patch.... and a new depth sounder (as the old one had to be removed to facilitate the repair... and it was ancient anyway); new anchor chain (5/16 HT) and a new Lofrans Kobra windlass (you've already heard the tale of the previous one); the addition of our dinghy and outboard; SS rails in place of the wire lifelines at the cockpit (which will allow us to mount the second propane tank and bracket); new LED lights, one in the salon and the other in the Galley.  I'll stop there. As you can imagine we're both working hard to move SSpirit forward and I truly believe we'll make it away from the dock this year.....  We've even set Oct. 24th as our 'splash' date; so we'll see how that goes...

In the mean time, thank you to all of you who have helped us in one way or another.Your friendship and support has been amazing. We feel very confident that our season this year will be a good one.  Thanks.

Adios for now... take good care and have a great day.  CJ

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Talismen, Saints, and Angels...

We have arrived!

Got in yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon. Phew.  

As is our practice, we were up early and arriving at the border just after 0600 hrs.  Yes, that is early... but, yet again, it proved very worth while. Some say my copious amount of 'paper' and three ring binders would put anyone off lingering over the details... But I persist in believing that when it's early, and it's cold (by Mexican standards), and the task of unpacking and inspecting a load that is, by anyone's standards, formidable... well, that's enough to put anyone off. 

Yesterday morning we were met by two very official border officers; one apparently senior to the other. And, along with the aforementioned circumstances, we also had a well translated (thank you Maritza) explanation as to why we were carrying so much stuff back into MX.  Fortunately everything transpired as it should. The officers saw the wisdom of allowing us to proceed (it was early, cold, and there would be many more 'less loaded down' vehicles to stop and physically inspect) and allowed us to proceed... Even with our very conspicuous dinghy lashed on top.  

Our drive south to San Carlos was equally without excitement.  The stories of horrendous lineups and non-stop road construction and reconstruction ... well, we were lucky.  The roads were under construction but the traffic wasn't too bad and the weather was fine. We actually arrived earlier than expected. 

In the last 24 hours we have, moved into our 'digs' at the Adelaide Apartments, had SSpirit moved over from the storage yard to the work yard, discovered a few disappointments (very nearly dead batteries, seriously damaged SSB antenna, pretty much all 'messenger lines' for the halyards severed) and/but, quite frankly, SSpirit has faired very well considering what could have happened. She's dirty and needs a good bath...but we're not standing here wringing our hands.  

What needs repairing will be repaired... and we'll keep busy over the next several weeks with the upgrades we came prepared to do.  

While we feel quite lucky that SSpirit was not seriously damaged like some of the other boats, we must also acknowledge our Talismen, Saints, and Angels that have obviously been watching over our little ship and kept her from further harm. I'm not saying we're superstitious but, hey, we are Irish and, well, our special protectors have been with us since we left Maple Bay on SV Shannon in 2011.
Our Talisman:  This Polynesian sea turtle bone carving was given to us by Marg & Rob Elvidge, in the summer of 2011, before we left B.C. on Shannon.  They bought this from the its carver, on one of their many adventures.  Turtles are one of the oldest creatures on earth. The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, known as “Honu,” symbolizes good luck, endurance and long life. Turtles can show up as a person’s guardian spirit, known as “Aumakua.” When lost, turtles are excellent navigators and often find their way home. Legend states that a green sea turtle guided the first Polynesian settlers to the islands. (ref):

Our Saint:  Saint Christopher, the Patron Saint of Travelers. Thank you Mom, he's kept us safe!

Our Angel: Her crystal reflects sparkling rainbow colours throughout the cabin. Who doesn't need an angel looking over them?  A thoughtful gift from our friend Carol.

And we cannot forget our Mascot: Wallace the Easter pig... he's been sailing with us since 2000 when we crossed the Strait to Conover Cove on Wallace Island to meet up with Kathy's Mom & Dad on their boat, the "Hull Island".  He's looking forward to getting to "manana" when we will be released from his dust cover!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

All Tucked in... Yuma, AZ

Hi all, just us checking in to let you know TT Lucy is all set up, keeping Lane & Kathy's home in Yuma, AZ company. We've had a good drive down; stopped in some places that were new and others that were familiar.  Rikki has done a great job given the load he's carrying and with Lucy in tow.

We're in Green Valley tonight and tomorrow (early) we head south to the border; about a 40 minute drive. We like to cross early as it gives us the rest of the day to do the 7 hour drive to San Carlos... And this year the roads will be even messier than normal, thanks to Hurricane Newton.

Will check in again once we're settled and have been to inspect SSpirit... Fingers crossed there will be no more surprises :-)

Hope you are all well and enjoying each day.  Talk again soon... CJ 

Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE smartphone

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Wind and Weather... and passage planning Apps


It's 1245 hrs (Thursday Sept. 22nd) and we're sitting in Lucy (hanging on but comfortable) while she rocks 'n rolls to the raucous wind roaring by us on both sides. As you can see in the photo below (or wherever it shows up on this post :-) taken yesterday afternoon, Kathy's precise positioning of big, tough Ricki... has created a wind-break for sweet Lucy... and thank goodness for that.

These predicted weather conditions were shown on one of the apps Kathy uses and, as is our practice, we decided we better hold up somewhere before driving into wicked road and weather conditions.  In fact, this particular "Fire Weather (Red Flag) Warning" predicted wind gusts up to 45 MPH as well as potentially dangerous forest fire conditions.  And so, we used this excuse to spend not one but two days at beautiful Pahranagat Lake Wildlife Refuge just off the highway near Alamo, Nevada.  The weather alert covers the area from here to south of Las Vegas (exactly where we're headed next) and it's supposed to back off by early morning hours tomorrow (Friday).  So, here we are safe and sound and playing musical windows as we open them for air and then close them when the sand and dust blows by :-). And we've books 'n cards 'n beer... So we're OK.

Now then; it's occurred to me that several of you have asked about our routes as we travel south.  When we're sailing in the Sea of Cortez, we have used IPad apps like iNavX with Sean and Heather's chartlets   (purchased from Blue Latitude Press online) as well as Navionics.  When we're on the road and land-cruising we are using the following sources of information...

Intellicast (or Storm) ... on iPhones or Android ... Provides weather and driving conditions as well as radar and satellite imagery AND alerts for wind, fire, ice and flooding conditions.

Here's what "Storm" has to tell us today:

 AllStays "Camp and RV" ... Allows you to set filters to display Points of Interest on a map, showing campsites in National/State/County Parks, Public lands, Independent RV Parks, etc., as well as Walmart "Ask to Stay" locations.  Each item includes links to site details and user reviews.

GasBuddy ... User-reported realtime gas pricing by location

Passport America... Annual membership which provides 1/2 price (with some restrictions) at many participating RV parks throughout Canada and US

Trip Advisor... Our favorite place for great advice on where to stay and where to eat.

Oh, and for valuable independent user reviews of RV parks throughout North America.

And finally, Verizon pre-paid phones have given us the best coverage (while in the U.S.) and they have an inexpensive, month by month, data plan which allows us to get all this info while we are on the road.

So, that's my news for today... Here, enjoying a breezy afternoon... With plans to head off tomorrow.

Hope all is well with each of you... Adios for now.

CJ & K

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016

My how the miles do fly!! I left you on the 16th with visions of our intentions...and, for the most part, we've followed the path set. We didn't, however, stop to see the Locks.... It was POURING when we woke up on the morning of the 17th and it took most of our energy to pack up camp and slither our way out of our mud site... Sure glad I washed my shoes before leaving home :-)

One quick aside here: You know how, when you're drifting along country roads and you come to a railroad track, you dutifully slide your eyes left and right as you do a sliding stop before carrying on across?? I know you do. Well, aren't we glad the mud track out of the slithery... I mean the Fisherby, was uphill. The slow drive uphill helped us do a much better stop at the train tracks and imagine our shock as we lazily look right and .... Holy Cr_p there were two bright and beady eyes comin' down the track at us,,, Even though we didn't need to, we backed up another three feet.. just to give the nice engineer plenty of room. No caboose, so no wave at the last man. But, I can assure you we are even more diligent every track we cross.

We spent the rest of that morning driving out of a weather system that seems to have taken a liking to it's traveling in roughly the same direction, but a little slower. Our stop on (Saturday) the 17th was at a place that is new to us.... and we quite liked it. The Eagles Hot Lake RV Resort (used to be La Grande Hot Lake RV) was a great stop for our one-nighter. There was even a couple there using their tugboat on a trailer as their RV. Didn't get a chance to talk to them but they were up and gone the next morning, just before us. As well as friendly staff, a pet duck (Daisy May), flat, and clean sites with full services, this location has a pool and a hot tub (and washrooms and showers). we had our first dip and hot tub almost ever! It was marvelous. Again, that night, the system caught up with us though, and we had to pack up in intermittent drizzle showers. Away we sailed, still heading east.

Ahhh, our favorite State Park (Three Island Crossing State Park in Glenn's Ferry, Idaho) was our stop on Sunday the 18th. this is a beautiful state park, situated right at the spot where the pioneers used to cross the Snake River (using three small islands to help them) on their way west. There's a terrific museum wherein lies their story and artifacts. What slays me is that all this was taking place a mere 150 or so years ago.... OMG. Anyway, this State Park is so nice we decided to kick back and take an extra day...very relaxing.

Tuesday, Sept. 20,2016... On the road again and continuing our journey east and south. As we have done during the past several years, we are using a route that is flatter and much slower (phew) that I 5. We turn south once we get to Twin Falls and head down Hwy.93.

Some of you may recall my rave a couple of years ago about a place with the coolest washrooms. They're spotless and look just like your grandmother's. Welcome Station RV Resort, Wells, Nevada is right where we left it and the washrooms are just as we left them :-)

We're here for the night and, while the highway traffic can be heard, the ambience makes up for it in many ways. Trout in a small pond with a brook running through; a field across the back with horses; huge shade trees through out the site and very friendly owners... all make this a great place to stop.

Tomorrow? Well, that's another day. We continue south on 93... Let you know where we stop when we figure it out :-). The weather system I spoke of earlier is still tailing us so we want to try and stay ahead of it.

Until then, know we are well.... And hoping you are too. Adios for now... CJ

Sent from my iPad

Friday, September 16, 2016

Friday evening - Sept. 16, 2016

It's 1800 hrs. and I m sitting here in my old, black, well-used camp chair, feet up on an a decaying log guardrail... peering through a copse (not sure what that is, but it sounds good :-) of ancient and new trees standing on a disheveled (another big word :-) bank of undergrowth.

Oops, a little chipmunk just ran across my foot log, jumped over my feet and kept on going...  True story!!

Six or eight "good old boys" fishermen are cleaning their catches of Chinook salmon at the fish station across from our campsite and I can hear the crash and tinkle of their beer cans and bottles as they are dropped into collection bags.

Anyway, we've had a rather long day...having started with finding a replacement GAM antenna to purchase and ended with us trying several camp sites looking for a site to settle in for the night... with no luck.  Finally, the Park host at the last campground, told us about "The Fishery" a rough-hewn fisherman camp, carved out of the shore-side forest... rough, but just down the road.  We took a chance and here we are, tucked into Tent site #2.  Yup, Lucy and Rikki just backed right into this little tent site and here we are dry camping on the shores of the Columbia River just a short drive away from the Cascade Locks.  All this for only $15 :-)

Oh... There goes the 1900 train (right behind us and 15 minutes early).

A friend of ours reminded us this is likely our last drive through before we start flying to the boat...and she's right.  She said to be sure to see the things we want to see while we're on this journey.. and we think she's right about that too. Given those words of wisdom, and considering Kath has always wanted to see the Cascade Locks, we have decided to start our day tomorrow with a visit to the locks.  We'll then press on to the Grande Hot Springs RV Resort (in La Grande)   all going well.

For now, know we are well, resting, enjoying our fishermen's retreat and looking forward to a good sleep in between train whistles (there's one on each side of the river :-)

Buenos noches me amigos y amigas...  CJ