Monday, December 30, 2013

Confessions and updates...

First, the confession:

Those of you who keep blogs will understand when I say "#!*"???#@" about the sensitivities of some of these newfangled machines called computers.  Yet again I had prepared a blog post, complete with short stories, humour and the details of our boat hunt and future plans... and then, just at that magic moment when all that was left was the salutation....  my right little finger gently swept across... barely touched.... the top of some unknown yet dastardly key... obviously camouflaged as a normal key but secretly planted as a warrior key... designed to thwart even the most careful preparations!!!!! and my submission was gone... not just hiding, but gone, gone, gone...  Even Kathy couldn't find it.

I was so mad, I put the net book away and didn't write again...  thought maybe I'd give up even.

Several days later (today) my conscience got the better of me and I realize that some of you are still waiting to hear about what's been going on with us.  Sooooo, here I am again.. back on the keyboard (with little fingers cocked up towards the ceiling :-)

And now the update:

For those of you who have been following the boat hunt, the story (without the details) goes like this...
We didn't buy the Beneteau 361, and...  we didn't buy the Catalina 36 MK II either.  Turns out the boat was suffering from a major case of lack of sustained maintenance.... the clues had been there and I'd missed them... but the truth came out in the surveys. That's the long and the short of it.

As for what we're doing now... well, Chuck the truck is packed (almost...) The outboard, dinghy and kayak will be added this afternoon and, looking a lot like ma and pa kettle on the road, we'll be heading out early on January 2nd. We decided to sit out New Years here in Mazatlan.. celebrate a bit with our friends and then head north.  We're not sure if we'll be able to fit all of the things we've collected in our little bungalow room (things like food and accessories) but we're pretty sure they'll be welcomed by some of the staff here.  The folks at Mar Y Sol Bungalows are wonderful.  The senior house keeper (Ceci) is particularly special...  She even gave us a Christmas card which I think is something pretty unique.  We'll miss these folks, but I have no doubt that as long as they're in business, we'll always stop here when we visit Mazatlan and need a land-based place to stay.

I better speed up before my finger hits that 'key' again.

Our plans are to head north to Guaymas on the 2nd, then across the border at Nogales on January 3rd. We'll then head directly for Yuma where Susan and George have found a place very near to their own for us to rent for two or more weeks.  We're really looking forward to visiting with them and to resting up a bit from the frustrations of the boat hunt. Then we'll head to San Diego to continue our search.

Also ahead is a week's vacation in Cathedral City where we'll visit with friends Ron & Dal and Kathy's mom. Marg will be flying down to join us for the week and we're looking forward to that very much.

As for the new boat? We'll know it when we find it.  As for where we'll find it? We're keeping an ear tuned to whatever's going on down here in Mexico.  Seems the government is having a titch of difficulty deciding whether they want to encourage foreign cruisers to visit Mexico or stay away. It's a long, political story... but whatever occurs over the next few weeks will likely have an impact on which direction we, and others, choose to sail.

For now, and before I accidentally delete it again....  that's our update....

Hope you all had a good Christmas and are looking forward to a wonderful 2014...  Until I write again.. adios....  CJ

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Ticked off in Sayulita...

First of all let me tell you that both Kathy and Miss Sophie are home... safe and mostly sound.  Now let me tell you about how that all happened.

Sophie (the Princess to her friends) was kind enough to stay at home with Susan & George while Kathy and I drove down to Mazatlan, prepared Shannon and boat shopped.  It's just too hot here to hang out in the truck while we wandered docks and so she opted instead to stay home and take care of her buddies. The plan was well executed and included Sophie joining Kathy (who went home for a few weeks to visit her mom) for the flight back... a non-stop flight... from Victoria to Puerto Vallarta.  My job was to drive down to pick them up at the airport.  We planned to spend that night and the following night in a sea-side town called Sayulita on the way home... to give Sophie a day on the beach before returning to Mazatlan.

Knowing that driving in the dark isn't all that safe in Mexico (the cows come down to the warm roads to settle in at night... and become very large speed bumps for the unaware) I planned the drive carefully.  I had to be in PV by 1200 and so, armed with maps and money for tolls, I headed out at precisely 0500 hrs.  Even at that hour there was quite a bit of traffic on the roads and to say it was easy figuring out which roads, turns, and bridges to take would be a lie.  It was awful and I had to 'guess' at least three times.  Luckily my guesses were good and after about half an hour of driving with my fingers crossed... I found myself on the highway heading to first Tepic and then Puerto Vallarta.  The road was indeed narrow and windy (as in curvaceous :-) and the traffic was heavy with large trucks and buses, as well as speeding locals and overly-cautious foreigners (like me).  The drop offs were major and the shoulders narrow.... but I got the hang of it pretty quick... even to listening to the truckers who, by flashing their left turn signals, would (supposedly and without trickery) signal the car behind them (like me who was hiding there) that it was safe to pass....  I have to admit... some of the passing was a bit hair raising.. but, hey, I'm writing this so I guess I did okay.  Anyway, back to the day.

6 1/2 hours after leaving Mazatlan I pulled in to the Puerto Vallarta airport and went inside to find my girls.  I was an hour early, so went up to the second floor to have a bite to eat.  It was moments after I big into my big, sloppy, delicious hamburger that a woman asked me what time it was.... hmmmm we looked at each other and both said at the same time... "time change".  Oops. Seems I was right on time and not an hour early.  Yes I did stuff as much as I could into my mouth (hadn't eaten for some time) and no, I didn't finish it all.  But I did rush back downstairs to the International arrival gate and start the wait.  1 1/2 hours later :-(  Sophie and Kathy came through the doors....  Seems Kath couldn't find her precious cargo right away.  Sophie, in her crate, was supposed to be carefully guarded and secured ... available for Kathy to claim at some (to be disclosed) location.  It took a while but Kathy finally found the crate with Sophie peeking out the door... going around and around... circling... with all the suitcases... on the luggage carousel....  can't you just see it...?  Anyway, the princess did fine... came out all happy and ready to go.  Once they'd cleared customs and gathered all their belongings they came out the gate and away we went....heading for some R & R in Sayulito.

This is where the story gets a little disappointing.  It took about an hour and a half to get to the town of Sayulito and, once there, we found the assistant property manager who was to take us to our little casita (Casa Serena) we had rented... and he did.  He was a nice fellow and showed us up the road to what was supposed to be our domicile for a couple of nights.  The place looked okay from the little grassy parking spot below and so up three flights of stairs we trudged.  The door was opened and it was one step in, two steps back... to allow the musty, mildewy odour out.  Not to be deterred we opened all the windows and doors (it even had a cute little balcony with two chairs on it) to allow the air to clear.  Went to check out the bathroom through two swinging doors... it was just a toilet.  Turned around and, whoops, there was the shower... outside... dignity to be protected by three shoulder high walls... hmmmm.  Other than that, the room had a bed, a little kitchen and the aforementioned balcony (oh and a fridge)... none of it looked particularly clean... but, well, it was now late in the day and there were no other accommodations available that we knew of.. and so we decided to make a go of it. Kathy scooted down the stairs to get the next set of luggage while Sophie checked out the bed as is her custom.  'Twas then I noticed movement... not the kind of movement you see out the corner of your eye and that scares you to death... but the kind of movement... on the floor... that demands you inspect more closely.  There, on the floor at the foot of the bed... were little bugs... the size of wooden match heads... about 8 of them... all crawling in various directions but generally from the area of the bed towards the light of the balcony.  Well, I've never seen a bed bug (although we always check carefully) and I didn't know what these were.  They were moving slowly enough I had time to grab a kleenex and pick them all up... then I put them in a glass... and then I put them in a ziplock.  I also called to Kathy and said "guess what, we're not staying here!!! I'll sleep in the truck before I'll stay here".  It was almost a foot stomp but I knew no stomping would be required. This was serious stuff.

To make a long story short....  the bugs were ticks.  We looked them up on the Ipad and identified them quickly. We contacted the property manager and explained we were not staying here... no matter what.  That was about when we noticed what looked like a bite on Sophie (welcome to Mexico sweetie).... now the panic escalated (dogs have been lost in Mexico due to ticks... we knew that)..  We contacted a vet who agreed to meet us at his office at 6 PM.  That was only a half hour later so we packed our things back into the truck (shaking and checking them all carefully), bundled PS (princess Sophie) back into the truck... and headed back down the hill into town and to the vets office.  There, the vet checked and said he thought it was a tick bite and then didn't have much to say at all... he wasn't a very good vet (we'd been warned by another dog owner on the street, but he was the only one open).  With that, we gave the key back to the assistant property manager (I must say he was a nice guy, very sympathetic and actually put us in contact with the property manager so we could explain our sudden departure... and our expectation of a refund).

Now for a decision.  Were we to drive to the next town, in the dark, and go door to door seeking accommodation for the night??  for two people and a dog??  chances of success?... pretty slim. Soooo, we chose to do the unthinkable.... yup, we drove home... in the dark...  Before you think us nuts, here's the reasoning... In the dark we would have looked like any other older truck on the road.. with probably two lumberjacks inside.  And as for those dastardly cows.. well, we figured we'd stick to the toll roads and fall in behind a bus or a truck and just follow them home.  That's pretty much what we did... We got back into Mazatlan at midnight, stopped at the all night MacDonalds and had a feast... we were home in our beds by 0100 hrs... and very glad to be so.

We've taken Sophie to the vet here and he confirmed that the ticks were Brown Dog Ticks... quite common in the jungle areas, and 'some' carry disease.  To our question "what risk is she at?" he explained it was like Dengue fever, a mosquito-carried problem that effects people... and not every mosquito carries it.. it's more about luck than anything... So too the tick situation... not every tick carries the disease.  The good news is... Sophie is now on anti-biotics for two weeks after which she will get a blood test done to see if there is any sign of the bug.  Caught early, this is apparently quite treat-able.. so of course we'll be on top of this.. and we have a good vet here in Mazatlan and another good one in La Paz.  Phew.

For the information of cruisers or travelers coming to this area, here is a link to some good information about Brown Dog Ticks. Of particular note is the fact that these ticks, unlike other varieties, can spend their entire life cycle indoors and can be found on the floors and walls of infected houses.

http://www.entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/urban/medical/brown_dog_tick.htm


As I'm sure you can imagine, we're not too impressed with Sayulita... certainly won't be going back there with a dog.. although it's known as a 'dog friendly' town and we saw lots of them there... ours won't be going back any time soon.

It's now Sunday, December 22nd...  Christmas is three days away. We'll be having Christmas dinner with our cruising friends on the 24th and probably spend the 25th lounging about on the beach with all the other tourists.....  We're all fine, even Sophie....  so until we write again...

Feliz Navidad and Merry Christmas to you and yours... may the weather gods be kind... and Santa be fair.

Carolyn, Kathy, and Sophie.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Ooops

For those of you who received a posting from last February.... ooops and sorry.  Came out of outer space... no, the calendar has not wound backwards.... ttfn.. CJ

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Shoot out mystery solved….

No one said they were smart…  Yup; seems the shootout down the street has a simple explanation. Word has it that a few, not so bright, fellows stole a car about a year ago and didn’t have the brains to figure out they should change the plates.  About a year later (a few days ago) a police officer spotted their car and gave chase.  Now I’m not saying the police response that followed was exactly right either, but at least they recognized the car as stolen.  Apparently the brilliant thieves led the police pursuit right to the doorstep of their rented house. Running inside, they took up some weapons they had stashed there and took a shot at the police (another brilliant move!).  Some will, I’m sure, say that surrounding the place and sending in a ton of lead by way of many hundreds of bullets from some very rapid firing and heavy bore artillery was the right thing to do.  I’m just sayin’ there may have been another way (or two) to handle the situation.  In the end, the score was bad guys zero and good guys four (banditos in custody).  Case closed (except for the extensive re-plastering job now required on the walls of the poor house).

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Shoot out??... all's well...

Hi folks.  Just a quick note to say all is well here.  You may hear of a wee shoot out... today... in Mazatlan.  And, yes, I believe there was.  At least I can say that about 5 minutes after arriving home to my bungalow (from my trip to La Paz which is another story I'll tell shortly)... anyway, yes... approximately 5 minutes after my taxi drove way.. what sounded like a "day at the range" from my old life, erupted about a block away.  Don't know yet who was involved, but by the numbers of uniformed police and military streaming by, I'm pretty sure the good guys won.  I'll know more when the evening news comes out I guess.  Just know I'm fine and our peaceful little neighborhood is back... well except for the massive traffic jam..but that too will clear.  Hope all is well with you... stay tuned for news of my trip to La Paz... adios.. CJ

Friday, November 29, 2013

No, I haven’t been arrested… yet

So what is up with me and the police??  My luck’s going to run out soon; thought I’d better fess up.  This time I deserved to be stopped… sort of.  I was following directions I’d scribbled on a small piece of paper… directions to a place far, far away from anywhere I’d been previously in Mazatlan.  No, it wasn’t reading the chicken scratch on the piece of crumpled paper that got me into trouble… and no, it wasn’t me doing something reckless as I blasted past the corner I was supposed to turn at… I just kept going and did yet another U turn (they’re not illegal here) and came back to the intersection.. only going in the other direction.  This turn of events resulted in me needing to go left instead of right… and you know what they say about left turns.. at least Victor used to say this… (but that’s another story). Anyway, those of us who know…. know that if left turns were banned the decrease in traffic accidents would be huge… OK, I’m a little off topic.  So there I was, waiting to turn left at this rather major and busy intersection.. and didn’t I end up being stuck out there in never never land when the flashing green arrow… stopped.  Now at home, in Canada, (at least where I come from) it’s considered rather rude to either back up into the car behind you … or stay where you are, blocking the intersection.. The normal thing to do is to move forward slowly and when safe to do so… complete your left turn.  Which is EXACTLY what I did. Hmmrph, I hadn’t even finished clearing the intersection before I heard the heart -stopping whoop whoop behind me.  Rats… stopped again.. and this time I was guilty… I think.

A rather rotund policeman (a Policia Traffica kind of a guy) came to my door and as he neared my window I said “lo siento senor… (I’m sorry sir)  the green light stopped flashing and I couldn’t backup”. He then jabbered away at me in rapid Spanish, most of which I didn’t understand.. although I did kind of get that he wanted to see my driver’s license.. and so I fished it out of my wallet and again… stupidly… handed it to him.  All the guide books say not to do that and to carry copies of the thing.. so I did the opposite… yup, no copies and I gave it up… mucho stupido.  Then he spoke again and I gathered he wanted to see my insurance. In my nervousness (why oh why do I get so nervous?) I handed him my BC insurance which, of course, means nothing… then I fished out the Mexican Insurance but forgot to turn it to the Spanish side, so the poor bloke was left looking at all kinds of papers all in English.  I’m sure you can imagine the problem. At this point he asked me if I spoke any Spanish… even a teeny little bit.  And, of course, I replied “no senor, lo siento”.  He didn’t know what to do then… so he started jabbering again.. I did catch the word “ticket'” and I said “OK then, give me the ticket”.  Then I caught the word “station” and I said “OK then, let’s go to the station, I will follow you”.  I just kept talking and explained several times I would follow him and then, just like the last time, I reached out and grasped the end of my DL sticking out of his hand. Still talking, I pulled it slowly out of his hand while I explained that I would need my DL in order to drive my truck so that I could follow him to the station… He was pretty flustered by now but he did walk back to his car and get in.  He pulled slowly away and drove around me and I began to follow him.  I briefly thought about making a run for it but realized I’d probably end up being shot at the end of a car chase… and, besides, if I took off he’d probably never trust another tourista… ever.  So off I went, following this police car as he sped through the streets, changing lanes and turning corners left and right without signalling…  And we drove farther and farther away from the intersection where this all started.  I began to worry that maybe he was leading me into a trap at his brother-in-laws place. where a gang of banditos would have their way with me… well, at least maybe steal Chuck the truck… but that didn’t happen… and finally he pulled to the curb and I pulled in behind him.  I was a little worried at this point as we seemed to be in a very broken down, dusty, poor part of town… and I wasn’t getting out… not yet anyway.  I locked my door just in case.  The officer walked back to my truck and pointed to a space across the road he wanted me to park in.  Now I wasn’t meaning to disobey… but I did have to ask “Senor… where is the station?”  I wasn’t getting out without a station.  He pointed back over to my right.. and there I saw, to my relief, his station…  It had been blocked by the sagging and dusty trees on that side of the road.  Phew.  So I pulled over and parked and he walked up to my window and again asked if I spoke even a bit of Spanish… again I replied “no senor”.  Are you finding this as 'intriguing' as I did…?  I’m not sure what he thought I was speaking… or maybe.. oh I just got it.. maybe my accent was so lousy it sounded like some other language and not Spanish at all. Hmmmm.  Anyway, I gathered up my papers and got out of the truck and stood beside him while I said.. "Ok let’s go".  He looked at me with almost sadness in his eyes… he shook his head and he said something (I don’t know what) but he motioned with his arm, pointing down the street ahead of Chuck (the truck).  I looked at him and I said in my clearest non-Spanish English “Sir, are you saying I can get in my truck and drive away now?”  And he said “Si”.  We shook hands and I thanked him… and then I got into Chuck and got the heck out of Dodge.

It took me over half an hour to find that fateful intersection  again… and I was able to finally arrive at my destination… I’d been within a block of it when I got pulled over.  I don’t know if there’s a moral to this story or if it’s just another ‘happening’ in this crazy life.  But I can tell you…. I will be watching those flashing lights even more carefully now…. I HATE GETTING PULLED OVER.
On another note; it’s possible some of you have been wondering what’s going on with us and why we haven’t written. Well, for starters, the internet connection where we’re staying has been off and on… mostly off, for the past week.  Today, it finally came back up enough to access the Blog. Yeah!  Hereafter follows a brief over-view of what’s happening in Mulhaley land.

Kathy’s at her moms having a great pre-Christmas visit.  They’ve been doing all kinds of good things.. visiting friends, going out for dinners, working on sorting stuff in the house, going to Tai Chi, and playing on the beach (Sophie’s favourite thing to do).  Kathy and the princess return to Mazatlan (flying in to PV) on December 14th and we’re all very excited about getting back together again.  I’ll be driving down to pick them up and we’re planning on taking an extra day in Sayulita before returning to Mazatlan.  Kathy’s found a nice place for us to stay that is either right on the beach, or quite near to it.. We’ll have fun.

I have been tending the home fires here at Mar Y Bungalows.  I haven’t been bored or lonely.  There’s been tons of things to do and lots of folks to visit with.  Besides puttering on Shannon, I’ve been heavily engaged in looking for a new boat for us.  You’ll recall Kathy was checking out two Freeport Islanders on her way north, and I had a line on a third one in the Sea.  The people we met were wonderful… really nice folks. The boats turned out to each be a little more work than we wanted… and so we agreed to keep looking.  I spent hours and hours walking docks and searching the yacht listings of which there are hundreds.  And, while it can be said there are lots of boats for sale in Mexico… our quest did not come up with one. We found that the boats for sale are larger and heavier than we want for BC and, for the most part, the ones that weren’t project boats waiting for help… were outside our budget.  We were getting very frustrated. One day, about a week ago, one of our friends suggested searching yacht world using our budget parameters instead of searching for a specific make of boat.  His goal was to ‘see what’s out there’.  Thanks to Ron’s theory, we have found a boat that seems to meet our criteria and is close enough to the top end of our budget to be ‘doable’. We have an accepted offer on her and I leave on Sunday to travel to La Paz to begin a week of inspections and survey.  I expect we’ll know by next weekend if we indeed have found our ‘new ride’.  For those of you who are asking… it’s a Beneteau Oceanis 361 and has quite a bit of cruising equipment on it already. This boat is a 2001 and has had only one owner and never been chartered.  All these things are important.  She looks to be in very good condition but that’s what inspections and surveys need to confirm.

So, my friends, stay tuned.  If I don’t get arrested for being a bad driver :-) we may have just found our new boat and be ‘back in the saddle again’.  I’ll write next week (assuming we’ll have internet) and tell you how it went.

I hope you’re all well and getting prepared to deal with the cold weather up there…. snow… yikes!!!  It’s getting cooler here too… but there’ s kind of no comparison is there.  So, take good care… have some fun… and laugh lots… talk to you in a week.  Adios…..   CJ

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Feels like time to check in…

It’s been a while since I’ve written.  Kathy’s on her way home to visit with mom for a few weeks and I’m here holding down the fort and keeping Shannon company.  It’s been a while since I’ve filled you in on how things are going… feels like it must be time to check in.

We’ve been here, in Mazatlan, since Oct. 26th and we’ve been lucky enough to secure lodgings at Bungalows Mar Sol… a family run motel kind of a place… within walking distance of El Cid (that’s the place with nice pools and a small marina where some of our friends are staying) and a short drive to Marina Mazatlan (Shannon’s current home and also filled with cruisers we know and like).  We’ve been busy (in the exhausting and humid heat) clearing our stuff out of Shannon and preparing her for her new life with Bill and Juliana. We had hoped to meet them on November 8th when they were planning to arrive, take over Shannon and do some sailing in the Sea of Cortez.  Unfortunately Bill was in a serious motor-cycle accident just days before they were to leave South Africa and he’s been in the hospital ever since.  The good news is Juliana has reported he’s coming home soon and, although they won’t make it here this year (by the end of Dec) they are hoping and planning to arrive in January, once Bill is recovered enough to travel comfortably.  Unfortunately that means we won’t be able to meet them personally (we’ve got to get on with our plans too) but we’ve had a wonderful connection with Juliana over Skype and are keeping in touch via email….and so, the time passes… as we all wait to move forward with our plans. We know that the good ship Shannon will be a wonderful and nurturing ‘home’ for Bill to continue his recovery in and we hope they both are able to enjoy their visit to Mazatlan and the large and supportive cruising community.

Most of you know we’re hunting for the ‘perfect’ next ‘ride’.  I wish I could tell you we’ve found our dream boat… but we haven’t yet. Don’t be sad…  half the fun is in the search :-) altho’ it can be frustrating at times.  Kathy’s checking out two Freeport Islanders (the FI 36 is at the top of our list) on her way north… and I’ve been in touch with another in Puerto Escondido…  time will tell if one of these boats might work out.  Our challenge is we’re looking for a boat that’s not too big, but big enough…. with a perfect interior layout (and a good sailboat of course)… with either an off-set V berth, a pullman berth or a V berth and an aft cabin with a double… and a shower, and self-tailing winches, and pressure water, and hot water, and ample storage… stuff like that… and so the search continues.  Oh, I should mention… the perfect boat also has to be within our budget.. ha!  And, one more thing… we’re not wanting a project boat…  We know there will always be things to improve and fix, etc.  But we don’t want to spend another year of our lives, fixing a boat up well enough to continue our explorations… we’re hoping to find that ‘perfect’ boat that we can head out with, and improve as we go…. and when we want.  Not too much of a challenge hey.  In case you’re out there and find something in your travels… boats that interest us include Freeport Islander 36, Ericson 38, Passport 37, Fast Passage 39, PS Crealock 37, and other such vessels. If the price and location were right, we’d also look at a Catalina 34 or 36.

So, that’s where we’re at now. We’re both fine… just moving along and ahead with our plans.  Kathy (and the princess) will return on Dec. 14th.  I’ll be picking them up in PV as theirs is a direct flight from Victoria to PV (essential when puppies are along for the ride). Unfortunately PS (princess Sophie) is too tall to fit under the seat in the cabin… so she gets to travel as a suitcase. Luckily it’s a short 5 hour flight… shorter say than… a day at the groomers.. so we’re pretty sure she’ll weather the storm and, after forgiving us for the indignities, be glad to see us and delighted to play on beaches every day.  Talk about bribery :-)

I think that’s about all for now… just know we’re well… and hoping the same for all of you.  Take good care… we’ll talk again soon.  CJ

I’ve been practising with photos… and/but haven’t nailed down the caption thing yet… so just use your imagination to figure out which photos match the words…  :-) ttfn

 

DSCN0953 DSCN3225 DSCN3240

Even Princesses need their ‘things’                    Early morning down our street                              Sophie’s beach awaits her…

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Did we mention, our truck was full on the way down !!!!                   

Friday, November 8, 2013

Sometimes when it rains, it just makes things greener…

It was the afternoon of March 6, 1999 and I almost died… by drowning… oh, and by putting my left foot on backwards.  Got caught in some huge waves off the beach in '”old town” Puerto Vallarta.  That’s a rather long story for today… but the part I want to share with you, is what I learned.  I came away with a whole new appreciation for waking up each morning and I learned that all those things that had seemed so critical… weren’t. It kind of changed my perspective on a lot of things. But that’s not what I want to share with you either.  I’m responding to the urge to tell you about a woman named Padyavallee (n/k spelling but that’s how it sounds).  I met her on the airplane, flying home from LAX. We had both boarded early; me because I was in a wheel chair with my very broken, casted leg stuck out front, and she… well I never did know why.  I never asked.  My good fortune was that she was right across the aisle from me. I had the aisle seat and Kathy and my leg shared the other two seats… We’d been lucky enough to meet someone in PV who knew someone in the airlines… and well, didn’t we end up with three seats all to ourselves and free vodka for that leg of our journey :-) But I digress.
As our flight continued north to the cold land, we were watching TV. I had no idea how many commercials have large waves in them… and I whispered that very thing to Kathy and explained how every time I saw a wave I was instantly transported back into ‘mine’. Not too long later, I was chatting with this woman across the aisle from me.  She was slight of build and dressed in East Indian garb, but she was Caucasian and explained she was heading home to North Van… having been studying in New Delhi.  She told me that her sister had tripped and landed on her face on a sidewalk and injured herself quite badly… and that she had flashbacks for a while, but they had faded. I asked her how she knew I was having flashbacks and she just smiled and sat back to rest. Later in the flight we spoke again.  This time I told her about my accident and about how close I had come to dying.  To that she responded:  “You know, life is like a drop of water on the edge of a leaf”. That one rocked me.  So simple, yet so profound.  This time I sat back to consider the image.  And finally, as we neared the end of the journey, we spoke again.  This time I told her I’d figured out that I probably wouldn’t be getting back to work anytime soon and that, if I had to miss a chunk of time at work, this was probably a good time… 'cuz I had a boss that was ruining my work place and I was so angry with him I was pretty close to giving him a shove that would land me in jail….  And to that…. she replied…. “Sometimes when it rains… it just makes things greener.”
This flight, this woman and her pearls of wisdom, have stayed with me ever since.  I’ve shared them from time to time but last night, listening to the rains pour down and remembering how beautiful, fragrant and fresh the streets of Mazatlan were after the last downpour, I was reminded of Padyavallee and I wanted to share. I hope you’ve enjoyed and will gain value from this wisdom as I have.  This rain in Mazatlan has most definitely “made things greener”.
Adios… CJ

Friday, November 1, 2013

Two sides to every coin... and ours is golden.

We had lunch at El Cid today.  After getting to Shannon early so it wasn't as hot, and after rebuilding the heads toilet (CJ work) and installing the new E meter (Kathy work) we downed tools and headed over to the El Cid Resort and Marina to have lunch in the shade by the pool.  'twas sitting there, looking out upon the sight of kids frolicking in the pool, the palm trees waving in the freshening breeze (more about that later), the deeply clear blue sky above, the brilliant green iguana's lounging on the rocks, and the pangas and the like plying the waters of the entrance channel... that I became aware, yet again, of how very fortunate we are.  Not just lucky to be here; but fortunate in our lives... in the fact that we met and shared the same dreams and the same sort of courage that allowed us to do what we did.  No, it wasn't easy getting ourselves and our boat ready to take on the west coast of North America... And, no, it wasn't easy to walk away from our friends and families... to abandon our comfortable home (which at 1780 sq. ft. seemed small at times)... and to move lock, stock and barrel, into a home that was 32' long and 11' wide at it's widest point... (hmmm I think that's something like 352 sq ft). No, there were easier things we could have chosen to do, but we didn't.

And that's what makes this side of the coin so very golden and so very shiny.  The work of it all... even in this heat and humidity... well, as they say.. that's the price we pay to get to sail in paradise. So on those occasions... when you sometimes, might hear me whine a bit... please forgive my weakness... and know that really, in my heart, I'm so very proud of us for being here.. and so darn pleased to be experiencing this... We're not done here by a long shot... and we'll find our new 'ride'... and we'll be back in the Sea.  We have much yet to explore and experience.

Now then.. about the other side of this coin... you may have heard of tropical depression Eighteen-E.
Seems this wee bit of wind and water hasn't read the book where it says that all tropical storms shall be over and done with by the end of October... and Eighteen-E has come around and seems determined to pass right over top of us.  Not don't worry when I tell you this.  The Mexican insurance companies aren't worried at all... (of course they use a different web-site than we sailors do...:-)  Our plan is to pop down to Shannon tomorrow morning and take her dodger back off (this will give us a chance to treat the zippers...) and take off her shade cloth tarps... and maybe wrap up the propane tank apparatus...  and she'll be fine.  She's still got double dock lines and big snubbers... and her marina is further inside the estuary.  Once Shannon's all set, we'll retreat to the comforts of our little bungalow where we have TV, wifi, air conditioning (which is good cuz it's really muggy), food and drink. Now, for you worriers  (Laura :-) there's every reason to believe the storm will bypass us all together and could even turn again and head back out to sea.. or just dissipate and disappear.  The good news is we have a plan and we have rum (and tequila... and Jamiesons... and beer)... and a great restaurant (Pancho's) right beside us... So we'll be fine and even have a chance to catch up on our reading :-)

That's all for now... Grant will be here soon and it's time to go out and pay our respects to the dead.
TTFN (ta ta for now)  CJ.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The road south... San Diego to Mazatlan...

Sorry I haven't written earlier.. but it's been a busy (and hot) few days...  What follows is a little travel news and some tips for those who are following behind us and spend restless nights anticipating the horrors of a Mexican border crossing... so here goes.

Wed. Oct. 23rd:  San Diego to Green Valley, AZ. This was the day... the day we make our move to head yet further south and into position for the dastardly 'crossing'.  I'd canvassed countless friends asking tons of questions.. which crossing?  what's the best time of day? where do we get the VISAs?  where do we get the TIP (Temporary Import Permit) for the truck? what time does the bank open?  will they take a credit card? etc......  and, true to form, I'd received just as many answers, none exactly the same.  So, armed with our best guesses, over-stuffed with receipts and letters from the marina, and with fingers crossed tightly, we headed off early in the morning... bound for not Tucson (as most had suggested) but Green Valley...  a mere half hour from the border crossing at Nogales, AZ.

We checked in to the Best Western Green Valley Inn and after only one room change due to the over-powering smell of Febreeze (and Lord knows what else).... we settled in for an unsettled rest. Chuck (the truck) was parked outside our windows as usual... and the gal at the front desk had assured us he would be safe as the sidewalks rolled up at dark and only the very elderly were still up (cuz they couldn't sleep)....


Thur. Oct. 24th: Dinner had been passable and we were up so early the only place open was the golden arches... but that's okay because we've discovered the 'egg white' version of the Egg McMuffin. It's very good, has less calories, and you can even ask for white cheddar instead of the usual yellow rubber.  So, we feel quite righteous now as we drive thru those ominous arches seeking early morning vittles. Anyway, up early, food in tummies, off we went... heading south to the Nogales border crossing in to Mexico.  Now the count was 50:50 as to whether we were to use the downtown crossing or the truck crossing... but all agreed that earlier was better. So, a little later than we'd planned (what else is new?) we headed off and made it to the (we chose the) truck crossing (at Mariposa) about 0715 hrs.  Here's where the advice got a little sketchy.  Some said drive straight through; some said stop and declare at Customs; all mentioned the red and green light torture. It's just like the airport in London... you get to pick which traffic lane you drive down.  If you get a green light (which we have had every time so far) you proceed.  If you get the dreaded red light... well, either your life is over, or you only disappear for a few years.. or something like that... :-)

Last year we muddled our way through but for some reason I was more nervous this year.  No need to be really as we aren't sneaking things in and out of the country.. but it just felt like.. well, you know... with such a full truck (most of it used and ugly stuff... but a few new things for the boat.. all carefully listed on our marina letter of course... but new none-the-less), I was just more nervous than normal.Guess I felt like our luck might run out or something.. and we had heard some horror stories of horrendous duties being charged on items coming south... so, we agreed that Kathy had the prettier face (particularly compared to my 'not so sure what to do' pale pallor) and would do better at communicating with our border guards... and she was therefore nominated as our designated driver for the crossing.  All went well in the end, but there were a couple of 'moments'.  Like at the first crossing when we went into the Aduana (Customs) office believing the right thing to do was to fill out a form declaring that we had nothing to declare (cuz it was all accounted for in our letters). Luckily (because I think we might have opened a hornets nest) the girl was so very busy doing her nails she looked unpleased to be interrupted by us.. and shooed us out her door and down the way a bit.  Finding no other doors open, we shrugged our shoulders, returned to Chuck, backed up and stopped.  We were faced with the choice of three lanes... all with signs that said "Nothing to Declare".  We studied this for a while and finally chose the middle one.  Phew... a little green light flickered... and off we went.

17 KMs further south down the highway (21 KM if you're north bound) is the office where you must stop and apply for your Tourist Visa as well as the TIP for your vehicle.  Both applications require various pieces of paper (copies of Passports, Vehicle Registration and Insurance, DL's, etc.) but the set up is very smooth. With much stamping of documents and moving from first the Visa counter, to photo-copier, back to counter... then on to the TIP counter, back to the photo-copier, and back to the counter... AND with the use of a Credit Card so as not to have to wait for the banjercito (bank) to open (and to make handing the TIP back in when we leave much faster)  we were in and out in about half an hour.... (likely much longer later in the day... but great at 0800 hrs...).  Believe it or not the hardest part was not freezing to death.. it was cold!

And then it was time to pick the damn traffic lane again....  with a deep breath, we forged ahead and... gasp!!!  the light turned RED.... oh my God!  Our hearts started to pound and sweat broke out upon our brows...  how could this be?  what to do?  Ok, ok....  I said to Kathy.. "you talk to the guy, at least you'll understand what he says"...  and I, armed with the marina letters and the keys to the canopy.. got out and walked to the back of the truck.  He motioned for me to open the truck and so I unlocked the top half of the tail gate...  and stood back.  He began to reach for the tailgate itself, to open it, and without thinking I called out "oh no senor,,,,  no, it will all fall out"...  With that he peeked under the rear curtain and even he turned a bit pale.  By that time, his partner had come along and the two of them studied the letters carefully while Kathy explained we had a boat in Mazatlan and all this 'stuff' was for the boat....  Thankfully the senior fellow advised the junior guy.. that he had seen this before and it would be ok...  We were thanked and asked to carry on.. which we did without hesitation - I can tell you... Phew!

Feeling pretty proud of ourselves we carried on down the highway and, in not too long a time, found ourselves driving into a town called Hermasillo.  As we came around a bend in the road we drove right into a police take-down about to start.  Police with guns were everywhere, police cars were everywhere.. there was even media filming.  We, and several other cars heading south, wound ourselves through the melee and continued on - glad to have not been stopped.  We hadn't gone more than two blocks when to my wonderment I saw flashing lights in my rear view mirror.  "Oh no" I said "we're being pulled over".  A marked Municipal Police Car pulled us over and a youngish officer came up to my door and asked for my license.  I gave it to him (probably won't do that next time), whereupon he began to explain we had been speeding in a School Zone.  "School Zone?" I said,  "What school zone?  All we saw were policia everywhere...."  He assured us we had been speeding in a school zone and then pulled out a crumpled piece of paper and wrote two numbers on it. The first was 1500p.  The second was 120 US. He explained that he could write us a ticket but that would cost 1500 pesos.... or we could give him 120 USD instead.  Even though my heart was beating mightily (I hate getting pulled over) I remembered that we'd heard about this kind of 'corruption' in La Paz.. and, above all else, we were not to support the corruption by paying them..so I said "OK, give me the ticket".  There began a debate between he (with no English) and me (with no Spanish) about whether or not I would give him the cash.... or, as I kept demanding, we would go together to the Station where I would pay the ticket. He was so surprised at my insistence to go to the Station that he didn't know quite what to do and, when his senior partner came up to the window to see what was taking so long, he explained my demands... the senior guy said something to the younger guy (probably something like "you're wasting your time with this one"...).  By that time I had retrieved my DL by pulling it slowly from the officers hand and he finally said... "Ok, good bye... go on to San Carlos"...  and he leaned in and shook both of our hands... weird.  I expect he'll be more practiced when he tries that kind of  stop again.  What's upsetting is that you/we spend our time worrying and being careful to safeguard ourselves from thieves and robbers and the like... and it's the damn police who tried to rip us off.  Upsetting to say the least.  But, with yet another story to tell, we headed on down the road... what a day!

We arrived at Guaymas by mid-afternoon and checked in to the Armida Hotel.. Not everything works out the way you plan it.  We had stayed at this particular hotel with Sophie last year and, given our experiences in lesser hotels in the area... the room was fine.  This year we've been spoiling ourselves a bit and maybe that's why my nose kind of turned up a bit when we got to our room... and I did try really hard to ignore the few ants and, well, smallish crawly things in some of the darker corners.. after all 'tis the season here and we were on the ground floor... right??  WRONG..  when the creepy crawlies started getting bigger and coming out after dark.. and when the huge one scuttled from under my bed, across the floor, to under Kathy's bed... I declared "Enough!!" and we moved.  Not far tho; just upstairs.. for the night.  Checked out the next morning and moved into the Holiday Inn Express.  It was beautiful and clean and fresh.. and it even provided a lovely breakfast.  Phew.

PS:  Nick, if you get this... Happy Birthday!  Sorry I couldn't call on your special day... hope you had fun.

Fri. Oct. 25th: This was a day we had set aside to look at boats and to visit with friends Chris & Chris on SV Scintilla (in the boat yard at Guaymas, Seca.) and Margie & Chuck on SV Dreamcatcher (in the boat yard at San Carlos, Seca).  We had very nice visits with both couples and shared a couple of meals.  We also took the opportunity to look at a few boats that were listed for sale in San Carlos.  Having crawled up and down the ladders and poked around in the sad creatures looking for love... I can tell you that none met our needs.  I did learn, however, that the Ericson 38-200 has a layout that would work and has a good reputation as a solid, good-sailing boat. This model is now on our list of 'possibles'.

Sat. Oct. 26th: Finally, our last leg; the drive from Guaymas to Mazatlan.  We had our rules... stay on the toll highways (they're much safer)... don't stop in the wastelands (there's safety in numbers)... carry spare gas (check)... drink lots of water (check)... always carry TP when you go to the washrooms (check)... Pemex gas stations always have clean washrooms (hmmm).  Oh well...  first you have to find one that's open :-) and it's true, they are much better than the rest... So, off we went and, without much more to report.... 9 1/2 looooong hours later, we pulled in to Mazatlan... right up to the door of our little bungalow  (#6 at Mar Y Sol Bungalows)... just down the road from the two main marinas that we use.  They're so nice here and they keep a very clean house... no creepy crawlies (maybe a baby ant or two, but nothing we can't handle), have a little kitchen and the place is right on the main drag and a quick, 5 minute drive, to the good ship Shannon.

So we're here... it's very hot and humid... and we're working on Shannon.  She's in good shape having been well cared for by Tony's Boat Management.  We'll be here for several weeks getting her ready for her new life.  And, we'll be researching the boat listings and connecting with our cruising buddies who will all be showing up over the next week or so.  We've even had a quick dip in the pool at El Cid... ahhhh, what bliss.  The waiters all remembers us and as long as we order something, they don't mind if we visit... besides... we are 'officially' visiting friends (Ron & Fran on SV Calliope who are BCers.. all the way from Nanaimo and whom we ran in to on the ferry leaving Victoria...  small world.).

I think that's enough news for now... sorry to have taken so much of your time but wanted to catch up and share a story or two with you.  We hope all of you are well and enjoying the little bits of sun we hear are poking out here and there.... in BC anyway.  Take good care of each other... will talk again soon.  Adios....  CJ

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Mazatlan... arrived safe and sound

Sat. Oct. 26...  1900 hrs.:  We have arrived in Mazatlan safe and sound...  Even Chuck the truck is glad to be here....  We're booked in, have had a lovely dinner, and will sleep well tonight.  Will write again tomorrow with the details of our trip and some info for those who are following our tracks......  nighty night. CJ

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Oct. 18 thru 21- Mount Shasta to San Diego...

We promised ourselves we'd stop in places we hadn't been before... well, except for San Diego of course... who can resist that delectable sailors haven?

Thur Oct 17th to Mount Shasta, CA:  We enjoyed a great 6-7 hour drive, through gorgeous scenic ranch land and mountains... all the way to Mount Shasta, California.  What a breathtaking place!  We stayed at the Cold Creek Inn, a small but immaculate motel, situated within the shadow of Mount Shasta.  There were several nice restaurants in the area and we drove a few blocks through the main drag checking them all out.  Many had good reviews... we chose the pub (of course) just the other side of the downtown area... and had pizza and salad for dinner... then back 'home' for a good nights sleep.  The water here comes right from the springs...it's almost freezing cold but very good; we filled our water jugs before we left the next morning.... continuing our trek south - this time towards another 'new' place for us, Elk Grove, CA.

Fri. Oct 18th to Elk Grove, CA:  This next leg of our journey took us through kind of a 'badland'... very few 'nice' places to stay - or so we thought.  But, after driving for 3-4 hours, we found Elk Grove and stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn (we've been getting the AAA discount which really helps with the room prices).  A very nice hotel, with a great brew pub beside it, and friendly staff...  who could ask for more.  And, just as you leave their parking lot there's a Chevron station with a MacDonald's (they have this new egg white breakfast bun... very nice and half the calories) which is very convenient.... Then it was 'right' onto the Hwy and with our new GPS (Jack) calmly explaining where to go (very handy when faced with 6 lanes of traffic and a turn or exit coming up in 3... 2.5... 2.4... miles) there's a whole lot less paper map flapping and debate about when, where and how to get off the #?!* freeway :-)

Sat. Oct. 20th to Irvine, CA: This was the day we'd hoped to stop in Uplands, at the Garhauer store, to purchase some kayak racks... but, no luck,...  no answer of phone meant (we assume) they weren't open - so we didn't even try. We pressed on and 6 or 7 hours later we arrived in Irvine, CA.  Another Hilton hotel, this one at the airport (Hilton Irvine / Orange County Airport) gave us refuge.  Here, we met Lynn (wife of our friend Grant in Mazatlan) and had a great Vietnamese meal for dinner.  But the next morning it was time to go again... so after lugging our bags back out to the truck we headed on down the road.

Security: Each time we've driven from home to Mexico we've had to carry quite a bit of 'stuff'.  Most of it's boat 'stuff' and each time we say "phew, that was a load!  Next year's will be smaller".  But they just seem to keep getting bigger and bigger.  This year, the good ship Shannon is demanding much of the equipment we left at home be returned.  Little things, like the pull-out couch cushion and the original main sail and the door to the heads.  Finicky things like the broken hydraulic back-stay adjuster and a box of parts that may aid in its repair, and the propane tank to replace the lovely, fibreglass one that has been recalled #!*#.  And then there's our own 'stuff', clothing and meds for 6 months, along with maintenance materials and tools for the boat.  The list goes on but my reason for reporting this is to explain that the 'stuff', the payload, the cargo... is so crammed in to Chuck the Truck there isn't any room left, even for a new pair of shoes... nope, Chuck is full to the brim. Luckily I made curtains for the canopy last year... and with the curtains closed the load is less obvious to passing opportunists. But we still do our very best to keep Chuck in sight, parking right outside the restaurant window, and trying for rooms that over-look the parking lot, and covering the pile of 'stuff' behind our seats (there wouldn't have been room for Sophie on this run even if she'd wanted to come) with a nice grey blanket.  We always put the 'club' on and we choose parking spots that are either right under a light or backed up to a wall if possible... and then we just walk away with our fingers crossed.  It's very stressful, but there's nothing much more we can do.  Anyway, I digress.

Sun Oct. 20th to San Diego, CA: I was about to say that, after leaving Irvine, and 7 or 8 hours later.. we pulled in to San Diego. But actually, there was no real definition between Irvine and San Diego... kind of like driving from Richmond to Coquitlam... but in a much bigger way.  So, thanks to Jack the GPS, we actually made it off the freeway at the right place and didn't carry on until we ran out of road and town.

Have I mentioned we love San Diego? We really do.  This time we're staying at the Best Western Plus Island Palms Hotel on Shelter Island Drive.  It's in the heart of the sailing and naval community.  There are boats and ships and cruisers everywhere you look and there are miles of docks to be walked... once you manage to gain entry (most are locked or private :-)  We've found some interesting boats for sale and some even better boats that aren't.  We've visited with old friends and made some new friends. We arrived Sunday afternoon and have spent the last day and a half just visiting our favourite places and hanging out (there's a pool and hot tub just down the hall).  There's nothing finer than looking out your window at beautiful sailing yachts beating up and down the bay... and junior sailing classes filled to the brim... and a sea of masts waving in the breeze.. on both sides of the drive.  Even the sound of the whistle buoys are neat, taking us instantly back to our time 'at sea' when those whistles or horns were the sound of safety on our foggy journey.  We had dinner last night with friends Larry and Nelda (SV Diamond Girl) and listened to their tales of their previous journey down the coast and across to the South Pacific.  It sure doesn't take many stories to cause a girl to wonder.... just wonder... a bit... about the possibilities...  Don't worry sisters, no real intent here.. just playing with ideas :-)

Today (Tuesday) is our last day here and we hope to spend it doing a little shopping and seeing a few more people.  Tomorrow we head for Arizona, just north of the Nogales border crossing. When and how we cross remains to be determined.... seems there's some confusion about exactly where we are to pick up our Tourist Cards.. and, although the advice has been to cross early, if we need the bank (and usually you do) to complete the Visa process, well... the banks don't open till 8.  So, I've more research to do but wanted to drop a note to you folks before I get started... besides it's nice and quiet here in the mornings... a good time to write.

So for now good friends....  know we are well and enjoying ourselves... We're missing our Princess Sophie who has stayed home to care for her friends Susan and George (and didn't really want to come with us for the long drive and the hot hours of work time on the good ship Shannon anyway) but we know she's having fun and enjoying some great company. Tomorrow we press on and the day after that we will be crossing in to Mexico (first stop Guaymas where we will stay for Friday as well).  We should be in Mazatlan by Saturday, Oct. 26th and busy at work on Shannon by the 27th.  Will write again when I can.

We wish you all much peace, good health, and happy times.  Stay well.  Bye bye for now...  CJ

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Road trip !!!


Oct. 16 & 17, 2013

When I was a little kid, maybe about 10 or 12, my parents bought a 5 acre lot on a cliff top overlooking Eagle Bay on Shuswap Lake.  It was fantastic!  I'll save the stories about what we actually did there... like herding a cow into the gravel pit to see if we could ride it... or using that same gravel pit for target practice with the .22 and dad's hunting rifle... or stripping small trees to use as poles for the creation of the world's best bunk house (now, cleverly disguised as a tool shed by the lucky folks who bought the property years later)... or the adventures to be had, sunbathing on the beach and skinny dipping in the lake, and rowing about in the RV (that'd be 'rowing vessel') Firefly.., fashioned after a Sabot 8' dinghy and painted brilliant red,. that dad built in the basement for us and that Marga (well she's another story) used to float about during basement floods, collecting the laundry... anyway, back to the lake... fishing... and fishing... and fishing.... absolutely certain there were fish in the lake, 'n stuff like that. I'll save those stories for another day.  Today, this story is about the road trip.. the travel between here and there... between the Vancouver I knew as a kid... and the glorious wilderness of Shuswap Lake country in the early 1960's.... very early.

We were three... little girls that is... and we were sisters.  Now there's no doubt that sisters love each other.. and we do... but three little sister girls, well... just sometimes that love became a bit territorial.. kind of like "don't you touch me... and don't you cross my line!" and... "Give me back my crayons!  Use your own!"  Anyone with two sisters knows of what I speak... and, yes, I was in the middle... chronologically and sometimes physically.  Unless you've had the not so thrilling experience of spending time in the back seat of a 1950 something Ford... you won't relate to what I remember... but I can assure you that 'pulling seniority' is not something reserved for adults.. it works for10 year olds as well; especially when your little sister is 8.  Yup, I scored the window seat quite a lot of the time...  And, it's from that throne that I can vividly recall our sojourns driving to the lake.  Up at 3 AM, bundled into the back seat in our pajamas and with our beloved pillows (and sometimes the dog), we slept until Hope....  Usually about 6:30 we'd pull into Hope and head directly for the Cariboo Cafe for breakfast. It was always good and the waitress was usually friendly.  Then, with full tummies, off we'd go... next stop Kamloops.  Hereafter lies the excitement.  In the days we were travelling...  the Fraser canyon was in a state of chaos...  They were building the tunnels... those tired old cement caves we still drive through today.  Well, in the late '50's and early '60's they weren't old and they weren't tired... they weren't even there!  What did exist was a single lane, dirt road... no protected sides... no curbs or guard rails... nope,  it was a clear drop to the river bed (hundreds of feet down) right outside my window (I always sat on the drivers side....).  Yikes!! pretty scary.  As well, it was one-way only... 20 minutes in one direction, then 20 minutes in another.  It took hours to negotiate the terrain and the patience of... well you know... to survive with a carload of kids and sometimes a dog.  I should tell you there were times when friends... like the Griggs, Fentons, Milnes, Plasketts or Elvidges... and the like, would travel with us.  When that happened, we kids got farmed out.. and the dog stayed with mom and dad...  But all the cars traveled the same.. in convoy, with canvas water sacks (for the radiators) hung over the front fenders..and spare tubes for the tires... and, well, everything including the wash tub tied securely to the roof and hanging out the trunk.  I'm tellin' ya; this was an adventure... just getting to the lake.  The best part, besides all that camaraderie singing campfire songs and testing each others boundaries... well, it was lunch in Kamloops at some place on a hill that served foot long hotdogs... no kidding.. one foot long.  They were the best.  And, of course, Salmon Arm where we stopped to shop before heading to the lake.

I guess the point to this story is mostly that we survived that long journey (36 hours the first time... and 18 hours the last) by talking, singing, counting train cars across the canyon, and generally spending time together in whatever way made peace.  It was a great experience and one that just made us stronger as a unit.

Kathy and I travel well together too.  As our date of departure drew nearer, we both found ourselves getting excited about shoving off.  We were sad to leave our friends and family... for sure; but the notion of 'hitting the road' and seeing where it would lead us... well that was just too good to miss... and so, finally, at 0630 hrs. precisely, we slithered backwards down our driveway in an over-loaded truck.. and headed off down the highway. Mexico here we come!.

Even though the roads are smoother and the cars are newer... some of the survival techniques are still in use...  still help us get through an otherwise long, and sometimes dreary, drive. For instance, you probably don't know this, but I (secretly) suspect Kathy and I may be frustrated crooners.. you know.. singers.  It probably stems from those hours singing "You are my sunshine", "Froggie went a courtin'" and "I know an old lady who swallowed a fly".... back in the '60's... or it may be the long, lonely hours at the helm when you start making up words after you've sung all the ones you know... but... we sing.. oh yes we do!  We sing quite a lot....  Stand back Loretta!!  Now, if only we could harmonize... we'll work on that.  And we talk; talk about lots of things...  being a captive audience without distractions helps.. and so we get to mull over and through some of those thorny issues that normal, every-day life, lets you ignore... and we play games.. word games, guessing games.. stuff like that... Oh yeah, and we eat.... oh oh... we eat all the wrong stuff.. but it passes the time :-)

And so my friends, here we are "on the road" and ready to report on our progress....  (hope you didn't mind the side-track).  We left BC on Wednesday the 16th.. aboard the MV Coho.  The trip was good.. and the best part.. well didn't we meet up with Ron and Fran, friends of ours from El Cid Marina in Mazatlan.. right there on the ferry.  Great to see them and they'll, no doubt, beat us to Mexico... but it was fun to catch up and talk about the season to come. We cleared Customs smoothly.. the hardest question?  "So, tell me all about the vegetables and fruit you're bringing into the US."  We passed the test ( the answer was "none") and headed on down the road.

First stop was St. Helens, Oregon where we stopped and visited with Vern - on board his Pearson 385 SV Vision.  He was great and provided us lots of answers to our questions about the Pearson 385s. We then carried on to our hotel (Best Western - Oak Meadows) which was clean and  friendly and just fine.  Their breakfast choices were ok... (the new waffle maker worked very well; the eggs and bacon were.. well.. luke warm) but we had a nice, quiet sleep and were glad we'd stopped there.

Thursday, the 17th, 0800 hrs. found us visiting with Bill on board his Pearson 385 SV Halcyon.. just down the road.  Again he was very helpful and answered more questions for us.  But.. by  0900 we were on the road and hustling south.  It was a beautiful drive once the fog lifted.  We drove through miles of 'cowboy country' and by 5ish we were in Mount Shasta, at the base of the famous mountain, and happily ensconced in the Cold Water Inn.  It's wonderfully clean and we're glad we're here... about to head out for dinner.

Tomorrow we continue our trek south... stopping somewhere...  and the day after that, we expect to arrive in Irvine, CA.  So, for now dear friends, we are well... and hope you are too... talk to you in a couple days.. CJ

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Southward Bound...here we go...

Sunday, Oct. 13th.... yikes!  imminent departure looms... We're out of here, early o'clock on Wednesday morning, heading for our date with the MV Coho - the ferry to Port Angeles... departing at 1030 hrs and arriving at 1230 hrs.  Then, we will hopefully clear smoothly into the US and begin our trek south to Mexico.

As usual, there's something a little different about this trip :-)  Our primary goal is, of course, to get ourselves to Mazatlan to prepare the SV Shannon for her new life.  Her new owners are arriving early in November and we plan to have her up and ready by the end of October... and clean and shiny by the time they arrive.

But we have a second goal as well.  We will be stopping in St. Helens, OR to meet the owners of two different Pearson 385s and tour their boats.  We just want to get a feel for one, having never actually physically laid hands on one.  Then it's on to Lake Shasta and from there to Irvine, CA where we'll meet our friend Grant's wife Lynn.  From Irvine it's a short hop to San Diego and we have a date with friends there as well.  If nothing else we intend to enjoy a lunch at the Southwestern Yacht Club, the most beautiful and friendly yacht club we've visited.  As well, their restaurant and deck overlooking the boats is spectacular.  Food and drink is great too.  We particularly enjoy the Cobb salad and a glass of chilled white wine :-) I was pleased to see that one of the seminars put on by Downwind Marine for the Baha Baha boats... will be on the Monday night we're in San Diego so we plan to take that in too.  When we leave San Diego we'll be heading to Nogales, AZ and then we'll make an early start the next day to cross the border into Mexico.  Our first stop will be in Guaymas/San Carlos and then, on the 25th, we'll make the last leg of our journey to Mazatlan.

It's a longish drive, but we enjoy it.  This trip we're staying in places we haven't been before and that's always fun.  We look forward to the time when we'll have more time to explore the actual places we visit... but that's in the future... for now... we blast south and get on with  our season.

We have a Pearson 385 (SV Detachmente) waiting to show us her stuff in Barra de Navidad and we're quite excited about meeting her.  She's been a cruiser in the Sea of Cortez for many years, under the caring hands of Jerry and Astrid, but she's been resting in a Barra marina for the past several years...  we hope all will go well when we meet.

Our overall goal is to find a boat we will be happy with as soon as possible.  Then, if we can, we will cruise the mainland this season and the Sea of Cortez for the next 2 or 3 seasons.. and then, probably, we'll bring the boat home to BC where we can continue our adventures here.

For now... we pack and prepare.... make copies of our paperwork... make arrangements for the dog, the house, the car, and little Mojo... and cross our fingers that we have a safe and enjoyable trip.

We will remain available via email, and will love to hear from any of you who care to write.  We also wish all of you and your loved ones a happy Thanksgiving, a merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

We'll keep the blog going so you can keep an eye on us (make sure we don't misbehave :-)  ...  Take good care....       CJ

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A busy, busy summer...

Time is flying by:  Unbelievable!  It's already September and we haven't accomplished half what we'd envisioned for this summer...  BUT we did have some fun, oh yes we did.  And, we did see some friends and family (never enough time). And, we did get a little travelling in.  We're already deeply involved with the planning and preparing necessary to drive south through the States and into Mexico... so the following is a short recap of how our spring and summer unfolded.

I've already shared the Celebration of Lives for mom and dad (Daley) in May... and you're aware we acquired an older, in need of tlc, summer boat (SV Mojo), fixed her up a bit and did a little sailing.  Of course there's always the domestic chores we're all familiar with when it comes to maintaining a home, and we did ok in that regard, but by early June we were ready for a break and so Kathy, her mom Marg, and I took off and headed north to the Kingfisher Spa.  There we enjoyed a couple days of pure pampering and relaxing.  It was really quite marvelous, with whirlpools and mud baths, great food and terrific staff... we all came home much more relaxed.  Kathy was heavily involved with some contract work from her office during the months of May, June and part of July.  It was hard work and took long hours of each day and night, but she really enjoyed doing it.. which is always nice when you're putting in that kind of time. 

While Kathy toiled with her contract work and pitched in around the house when she could, I puttered with Mojo, did some work for the yacht club (re-organizing the policy and procedure manual and writing a few new policies as required), and took on the challenge of organizing the thousands of Daley clan photographs in preparation for having them digitized. The photo project has taken many hours but was really a neat activity as I got to spend those hours wandering through my memories of our family growing up... I also met some ancestors I hadn't known of and am very excited about spending more time with the historical piles... next year.

Mojo upgrades (of course :-):Some of the projects the little boat endured included; rebuilding the pull-out bed so that it was large enough to sleep on, new canvas (dodger, tiller cover, handrail covers, sail cover), scrubbing and cleaning all the 'black' out of lockers (left from the original diesel engine), the new 'pots and pans' cupboard, servicing of the outboard, repair and varnishing the tiller, replacement of the fore stay and re-alignment of the shrouds (we lost the old furling unit but at least the mast hadn't fallen down), and major cleaning of the stove and BBQ.  As well, Kathy and our electrician friend Tony worked hard at cleaning up the old wiring and installing a proper charging unit and wiring system.  We also had to 'retire' the infamous 'sausage'.  I'm afraid it was just too unsafe to tow and not very good at rowing.  We acquired a new main (hidden in the back room of a sail shop) two used, hank-on jibs for the new fore stay and a new, used, inflatable dinghy that rows much better and tows just fine. It's even quite light for moving around.

Cruisin': Our 'cruising' over the summer was fairly spotty.. rebuilding the boat and other domestic things got in the way... but that's okay; we had fun when we did get out.  We spent several glorious days at Pirates Cove, one of our favourite spots in the Gulf Islands, and, we had a few simple day-sails. In August we spent over two weeks floating about our favourite haunts in the southern Gulf Islands.  As Kathy puts it, during our two week cruise we circumnavigated Salt Spring Island and visited 6 different islands while doing it.  Great fun.  Even living on the little boat wasn't too bad.  The hardest thing was that we'd brought way too much gear (what else is new) and spent far too much time looking for things... never did find some of them.  I'll be emptying those lockers a lot before our next outing which will be the Commodore's cruise in late September.

House guest: Do you remember last December, when we had to return home quickly following the sudden passing of Kathy's father?  Well, the reason we both were able to return, and abandon both the boat and the dog in Mazatlan, is that a wonderful woman named Cheryl (who was crewing on a neighbouring boat) came over and offered to boat and dog sit for us.  And so she did, allowing us both to come home.  Cheryl's from Australia and has been out for the past couple of years exploring the world.. doing all kinds of exciting things.. and this summer she came to visit us here in Maple Bay.  She arrived on July 31st and spent the rest of the summer with us.  We've shown her Victoria and around our little neck of the woods as best we could and she departed for a new adventure on September 2nd. She's now RVing in Utah.. or some such place. It's really quite amazing what she's come up with...  crewing on boats in the Caribbean, ocean cruises, trips to Alaska and Central America.  She's braver than me... Anyway, Cheryl will continue on with her journey and, with luck, we'll see her again sometime in Mexico.

MBYC Regatta: Kathy and I both pitched in to help at the yacht club for the annual Regatta hosted by the MBYC.  It's a huge undertaking and we spent most of our time mixing and delivering pancake batter for the morning breakfasts.  We also did some cleaning up and selling of hats and t-shirts.  Our feet are still sore from the standing, but we had a good time working with a team of great people. 

As for heading south.  We did the math and can't leave until October 16th.  Once we head off we'll be driving down... slowing a bit near San Diego to look at some Freeport Islanders and then hurrying on to Mazatlan to prepare SV Shannon for her new life.  We will miss that boat so much... it still hurts the heart.. but we know it's for the best as we do want to move up a wee bit before we swallow the hook - and mother time isn't slowing down for anyone.  Add to that the logistics of trying to sell a boat formally.. anywhere.. and the very good luck of having someone find us.. and want to take over the care of Shannon.. and, well, you know what they say about opportunity knocking.

There's one other piece of news I should deliver.  One of our friends incorrectly reported on her blog that the Shannon was sold and we had gone home.  Technically, at that moment, that was possibly true.... however... many of our cruising friends have assumed that meant we'd thrown in the towel, swallowed the hook, lost our minds (or courage) and gone home.... So, for the record,  NOT SO MY FRIENDS.  We are alive, well, and anxious to get going again.....  We've even picked out the name for our new boat as soon as we find her.

Now then, for those of you who are interested.. we have narrowed our search for the new 'ride' to two different kinds of boats...  The first is a Freeport Islander 36 (like the SV Eagle, one of our buddy boats on the journey down the coast).  These boats are great.. with a huge amount of space, and a pullman berth, tucked into a beamy 36 feet.  They have lots of daylight below and a walk-through transom as well.  AND then we met up with the Pearson 385.  Haven't actually seen one (physically) yet but the reviews are terrific. They're generally slightly newer that the Freeports and very different in layout.  They have a centre cockpit, aft cabin with athwartships double bed, forward cabin with V berth, dedicated shower stall, and a nice salon. Many of them are cutter rigged as well.  So the Pearson 385 also has us very interested and we have an appointment to view one moored in Barra de Navidad... We have our fingers crossed tight this all works out.... we would really love to be able to continue cruising as soon as possible.

That my friends... is how it's been and how we're doing.  Busy ... like all of you... at this time of year, preparing the house for winter and our friends who will be caring for it over the winter.  Princess Sophie will lounge with Susan and George for the first month while we boat shop (too hot for a  little black dog to wait in the car while we traipse over miles of docks on the hunt).  Kathy's coming home to her mom's from mid-November to mid-December and PS will fly back to Mexico with Kathy when she returns.

That's enough for now.. just wanted to catch up.. We hope all of you are well and have enjoyed a fabulous summer...  And we hope your winter will be just as good... filled with peace, love and happiness.

The Blog:  We will be keeping this blog going.. it's a great way to stay in touch and we enjoy sharing our travels with you.  Stay tuned for news of our drive south and search for 'the new boat'.

ttfn  (ta ta for now)  CJ

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

First trek with the little ship Mojo (June 17-22)

Well, we did it; headed off in our little ship Mojo.  Rather Sophie and CJ headed out while Kathy slaved in Vancouver, working on her IT project.  The Princess and I headed off early Monday morning - bound for Pirates Cove where Kathy was to meet us via seaplane on Wednesday morning. With a helpful hand from our friend George, we slipped quietly away from our dock and headed off across Maple Bay. Well actually, we headed away from the slip, then slowed to drift while I raised the main (without falling over-board or making too much of a fool of myself). The main went up smoothly and so we continued... motor-sailing if you will, across Maple Bay and north towards Thetis Island.

I had decided to tow the sausage, er I mean dinghy (aptly named 'sausage' for it's incongruous lines and tendency to drag through the water rather than on top of it).  Anyway, it towed pretty well at 4 knots which seemed to be the speed we motor comfortably at.  But when the breeze filled in, which it did just abeam of Tent Island, and our speed picked up to 5 knots... well didn't I look back in time to see it starting to ship water...  spray, you know, off the tops of the waves that were slapping against its ungainly bow.  So, without the aid of an auto-helm and using my not-very-long legs and whilst trying not to gybe (which I did several times during this comical manoeuvre) I managed to reach back and pull the dinghy closer in an attempt to raise its bow out of the water and stop the ingress of spray.  After all, it was a heavy enough tow.. who needed a tub full of water dragging behind?  That went well... sort of.  As the wind continued to build, and the little ship began to sail well.... (couldn't possibly have been my finesse.... so it must have been the boat) our speed rose to, believe it or not, 6 knots.  Yippee !!  this was really fun..  heeled over with nothing flying about in the cabin.  Even Sophie was having fun, ears in the wind.  But, oh oh, a quick glance behind saw the horrible sight of the little sausage now attempting to submarine...bow first, into the depths.....  Drats!  Had to reef the foresail and slow down in order to prevent a sure disaster.


Oh well, we had our fun and besides, slowing down just when we did gave me cause to consider what lay ahead; the open expanse of water between the north tip of Thetis and the south end of D'Courcy Island. With a vision of the SE winds pouring up the channel, I realized I should down-size my sails if I expected to arrive at Pirates Cove with a dinghy still in tow, and so began another rather comical segment of "getting to know your boat". Of course everything is different on Mojo compared to Shannon and there is a real learning curve as you defy the forces of habit in favour of the 'new' experience demanded by a different set-up. Add to that the realities of no auto-helm to hold the course steady, and no extra pair of hands to release and pull-in the main sheet at the appropriate moment.. well, you get the picture.  A nimble acrobat with ballet like balance is required.  Having none of those attributes I had to think about this quite carefully and did, I thought, develop a pretty good plan of how to bring down the main smoothly and with some control over the situation.  Hmmmph.... I did pretty well up to a point.  First, I brought the boat up into the wind and then, after taking a quick turn around the tiller with a line I'd prepared, I leapt to the cabin top and forward to the mast. Lowering the sail as quickly as I could.. I thought it was going pretty well.  I even managed to keep the sail out of the water when the boom swung over the port side.  Then I realized my first mistake.  In my haste to dash forward I had forgotten to bring the sail ties with me.  They lay in a heap on the starboard cockpit bench seat - mocking me.  No problem.  Starting back down the starboard side I reached for the boom to steady myself (as had become my habit at the dock).  Big mistake.  Too late I remembered I had loosened the main sheet and, with my balancing touch and weight on that side, the boom swung neatly over towards me.. and beyond. Yup, as I looked through my knees at the water I knew that, for sure, things could get worse (and wetter).  But luck was with me... and we (the boom and I) were able to fling ourselves back towards centre line....  and I continued on my way back to the cockpit.. this time without the help of the boom as balance.  Phew!!  The rest went well, if not prettily (is that a word??) and, with the mainsail lashed haphazardly to the boom, we continued on our merry way to Pirates Cove and the Park Host dock.

The "Sausage" with her accessories


The rest of the day, and the next, were spent in glorious sunshine, fulfilling the duties as park host... and visiting with a few other Club boats that had come for the practice and to assist.

Mojo and friends at the Park Host dock (photo: Mike Weld)
CJ in her element (Photo Mike Weld)




CJ and Sophie enjoying the sunshine (Photo Mike Weld)




Kathy/Sophie heading for shore in the rain

It's all good with the right outdoor wear







Pirates Cove really is a beautiful marine park and my personal favourite on the south coast.  The other boats left on Wednesday morning... just at the exact time Kathy's seaplane was touching down and ferrying her to the private dock on the north side of the cove.  Tofino Air, bless their hearts, fly from Richmond to Pirates Cove... what a treat for us!  After lunch we went for a great walk and checked all the trails of the park.  Returning to the host dock we were greeted by MV Silver Fox who had stopped by for one night on their way north for the season.  Thursday we spent hunkered down in pouring rain.. which wasn't all that bad.  The interior of little Mojo is quite spacious because the table folds up against the bulkhead and then there's just a salon with two couches. We read books, played cards and went for short walks when the rain lightened up.  Oh yes, and about the sausage... it isn't all that comfortable for rowing either....  perhaps time to look for a replacement when we get home.

Hunkering in during the rainstorm



Evening light in Pirates Cove (Photo: Mike Weld)



Looking out of the Cove


Mother nature rained herself out on Thursday and Friday morning we headed off to begin our return trip home (motoring as there was no wind... and maintaining a steady 4 knots for the sake of the sausage).  Still not ready to head in, we stopped off at Telegraph Harbour Marina on Thetis Island and had a visit with Ron and Tara the owner/managers.  Saturday morning we relinquished our hold on our freedom and headed back to our dock in Maple Bay (you guessed it, at 4 knots :-)

Mojo at Telegraph Harbour


It was a great trip... only one window leak and one of those hanging glass holders that are designed for life-lines... worked very well at capturing the wee drops of rainwater that found their way in.  We're home now, pleased with little Mojo and with a list of things we want to putter at as we make her even more comfortable for our summer adventures.

Hope all is well with all of you.....   Here comes summer... yippee !!!!!    CJ

PS:  A little note about what waited for us at home....  Way back, in September, when we'd helped Dad move into his 'new' home at Sunrise Senior Living... we gave him an orchid to brighten up his suite. Dad passed in January and as you know we celebrated his and mom's life this past May. The orchid came to live with us when we returned home and sat on our living room plant table through the grey months of spring.  When we left for our little jaunt on Mojo there was one bloom and it was beautiful.  When we returned, there were two... side by side... touching.  I'll say no more.





Sunday, June 16, 2013

Newsflash!! The good ship Shannon is bound for more adventure...

Shannon and her crew at anchor off Chacala
(photo courtesy of SallyAnne Calver - "SV Jekamanzi")

We are excited ('though somewhat sad) to report that the wonderfully good ship Shannon will soon be heading for distant shores and more adventure than we could possibly give her.  Her infectious spirit and svelte lines have captured the hearts of Bill and Juliana Lance, a couple from South Africa.  They plan to sail her first in the Sea of Cortez and then on to Australia where she will likely be adopted by their son and his family.

The Ontario 32 spirit lives on in Shannon, a vessel that has seen much success as a racer and a cruiser (fastest in her division of the 1978 Vic Maui, as well as other races in southern BC; and victorious cruiser of the west coast of North America on her journey to Mexico).  She has also provided, and will continue to provide, years of safe and enjoyable cruising for her owners and friends... and she still has the prettiest lines in the anchorage (there's just something about those green boats :-)

We will miss this wonderful little ship, but we will cherish our memories of time spent with her, learning her lessons of the sea and life aboard.

Our plans are to return to Mazatlan this fall and re-commission Shannon for Bill and Juliana.  We will then begin our search for a new boat on which to continue our explorations of the Sea of Cortez and the Mexican Riviera.

We will also continue this Blog... as it now represents...  Travels with the good ship Shannon, the little ship Mojo... and a new ship (to be determined)...

As always, we wish you fair winds and calm seas, and a summer filled with great fun.

Carolyn, Kathy and Princess Sophie