Friday, January 24, 2014

The best laid plans...

It's Friday... January 24th...  and it's time to check in...

Not with, I'm afraid, the news you were hoping for.  No, we haven't found the perfect yacht.  But there is news, to be sure.  We have made a very difficult decision that feels 'right' for us.  But first let me tell you where we got to.

We have been reviewing yacht-world listings, for sale by owner ads, word of mouth and rumors about boats for sale or about to be listed, bulletin boards, toilet cubicle walls... you name it, for months. We've checked them all... looking for a boat that will be good for us over the next ten or more years. We're not looking for the Queen Mary (too many rooms to clean) and we're not looking for a sleek racer (no where to store the beer)... we just want something with a little more room and comfortable living arrangements... as well as a reasonable sailor and able to cope with good old Georgia Straits. I'll stop now, you already know all that.

After a good visit with friends, we left Yuma and pushed old Chuck (pretty tired now after all these miles with a load of stuff in the cargo hold and two boats and a spinnaker pole lashed to his 'lid') from Yuma, over to the coast, and up to the Marina del Rey area.  We actually stayed in Carson to keep the hotel costs down.  We've looked at numerous boats here; several Catalina 36 MK II's, a couple MK I's, and a couple of Ericson's. Two of the Catalina's came close but each had their issues and both were missing essential equipment we require.  We traveled up as far as Santa Barbara to look at three boats yesterday (a 2 hr drive that took 3 1/2 hours.... each way) and mostly what we've done is become very efficient at negotiating California freeways.

And then there's Mexico...  As you can imagine, we've been monitoring 'the situation' (that's what we all call it now) very carefully.  Latitude 38 continues to be a good resource for keeping abreast of what's going on... and, of course, our friends Molly & Bryce (SV Abracadabra) are still living it.

We've also revisited our realistic dreams and goals... our wishes for the future... and our lives in general... the things we hope to do and the things we still dream of doing...  and, back to what I said at the start, we've made a decision.

We're not going to buy a boat in the US right now.  We're not going to continue the push and hard work to purchase a boat and force our way back into Mexico right now. We're not going to continue trying to second-guess what the Mexican government, in it's seemingly self-destructive approach to enforcing rules that are inconsistent and difficult to understand.. (by both the enforcer and the 'enforcee'), might do next. We're not going to risk yet another year of our cruising life steeped in indecision and angst over whether or not we should return... and if so, how so and when?

We have had a wonderful, challenging and satisfying adventure, first down the coast, and then cruising in the Sea of Cortez and mainland Mexico. We will forever have the visions of that time in our memories. We are going to miss our cruising and Mexican friends terribly and we sincerely hope that somewhere out there will be at least one... who might say one day "hey guys... wanna go sailing?  I could use a couple of crew"... After all, we just adore Isla San Francisco and still haven't seen San Juanico, and we do know how to do anchor watch :-)

We are going to continue our sailing and cruising, at home, in the spring/summer/fall; for now in Mojo and while we watch for the new 'ride'.. And we're going to spend more time with friends and family and taking a little time to enjoy being retired. We're told it's quite fun... we're gonna try it on.

We leave tomorrow morning to push Chuck just a wee bit further... home to Canada.  We'll not stay long... just enough days to unload and give him a good servicing, take care of some personal business, and say hi to a few folks if we can. Then we'll be heading back down to the US and some winter warmth travelling by road... to visit friends and do some touristing.  We'll be back home by the end of April and carrying on with our summer plans.

Shocking change of plans I know... but 'ya only live once' and we have but one chance to get each day right...  We're both looking forward to refocusing on our lives, our health, and our fun-factor...

Make no mistake, sailing is our 'true love' and will remain a huge part of our lives for a very long time....

We will stay in touch.... today is Friday, tomorrow is a new day, and... after all....everyone knows...

            The best laid plans, are printed in the sand 
                      below the high-water mark... 
                                 stay tuned....

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Plan 1,376…

Ever feel like each time you turn around, you’ve changed your mind… again… and have to start making plans all over… again…?

So, here we are… in the process of packing up poor old Chuck (the truck) again…  We’ve had a great visit in Yuma.. with friends Susan & George, Lane & Kathy, MJ & Leona, Alison & Craig, Ron & Joyce, and John & Eileen… phew…. and then there’s the new folks we’ve met too…  It’s all good fun.  But it’s time to move on.. time to jump-start our search for a new boat.. and, to be honest, we’re really missing the smell and tang of salt water air… Pacific coast here we come.

Over these past few months we’ve changed our minds plenty.  We’ve considered and reconsidered the type of boat we’re looking for.. the keel, the rudder, the engine, the electronics, the blue-water gear… all those things that are important.. and then there’s the absolutely ‘most’ important… the ‘feel’ of it.  We both love the look and ‘feel’ of the traditional boats… the cutter-rigged ketch and the cutter-rigged sloop, the bowsprit, all that fine teak inside and out.. all those wonderful bits and pieces that make a fine yacht….  And then, there’s the maintenance and upkeep, the repairs and upgrading, and all that other stuff that the more traditional yachts demand… “So too do the newer boats” I hear you cry.  Yes, that’s true… but a little less varnishing and a little more sailing, coupled with some pleasantries in the ‘domestic’ realms are also important.  As we move through the years, and look ahead at the next decade, they’re inching their way up the priorities list. So, with all that being said, we’ve changed (a bit) the vision of what we’re looking for.  You’ll know what we decide moments after we do…  You can bet we’ll let you know.  For now, we’re full of research, experience, advice and all other kinds of information that we’ve collected.  We’ll know our next boat when we meet her.

Monday we head out of Yuma and turn our noses west.. er… north-west to be precise. Whereas we thought we’d head first to San Diego we’ve changed our minds, again. There just aren’t very many boats of the type we seek available in San Diego. Now, our destination is Carson, CA just outside Marina del Rey and we hope to be in Oceanside by mid-day for a quick stop at the Oceanside Yacht Club.  We had fun there on our way down and believe they may have some info about suitable moorage in the area, should we need it.  Gotta stop for lunch somewhere… :-) There are at least three boats in Marina del Rey and another in Santa Barbara that have caught our eye.  Hopefully one of them will stand up to our scrutiny.

Kathy’s found a Motel 6 in Carson that has just completed a total renovation and sounds very good… and, they don’t even charge for pets (a first for us).  Not that we mind having the Princess along but some hotels charge as much as $75… most average out about $25… and it really adds up.

Tomorrow (Sunday) we have our last day here, visiting with folks and having dinner with friends.  We’ll be on the road early Monday so will write when we can – either that night or the next.  Until then… hope all is well with all of you… keep those parkas handy.. sounds like winter’s not over yet. xo  CJ

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

From the horses’ (our friends’) mouth…

We realize many of you have questions about what’s going on in Mexico… questions we can’t answer. We’re neither there and involved, nor do we have access to accurate accountings… except… from our cruising friends.. those who are caught up in this web of complexity…

So, for a first hand account, from when it started to where it is today, please tune in to our friends Molly and Bryce’s blog and follow along as they live through this trying time.  Molly is a good writer and their story is first-hand… it doesn’t get better than that.  Their blog address is .  Hope you enjoy the read.  Adios… CJ

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The situation in Mexico…

Howdy.  Several of you have enquired about the situation in Mexico, with respect to boats, that is now hitting the international news agencies.  We haven’t mentioned it before as the exact nature and limits of what was happening were too vague to try to explain.  In fact, the situation has been going on since November when the newly formed AGACE group (appointed by the new Mexican government) began checking vessel documents and HINs (Hull Identification Numbers) in certain marinas in Mexico.  That sounds pretty simple, I know, but the confusion had only just begun.  Seems many boats, who indeed had their paperwork perfectly in order, became victims of this ‘sweep’ because they weren’t on board when the ‘inspectors’ arrived to inspect… and consequently their boats were put onto a “temporary embargo” list… along with over 300 other boats.  I’m not going to try and explain any details because it’s simply too mixed up to do so.  What I will do is refer you to Latitude 38, an online publisher that has been chronicling this situation since it began. Their last post, in response to the recent international news reports, provides a good over-view. You can read the post here:  Foreign Boat Impoundment Story Goes Mainstream

You will read about armed military and police accompanying the inspectors.  This is a very common practice in Mexico and not an ‘act of war’ as some have suggested.  You will read about ‘midnight raids’ and vessel seizures… again, these are exaggerated accounts. All people reporting in have described the attitude of the ‘inspectors’ as polite and friendly.  So friendly, in some cases, the folks didn’t realize they’d failed the inspection and their boat was embargoed until they read their boat name on ‘the’ list. Please read through the accounts and inform yourself as to what is going on… as best you can.

What does this mean for us? Well, we’ve done everything we could to protect SV Shannon.  She has never had an HIN but her Temporary Import Permit shows her Canadian Registration Number recorded on the VIN line; and her Official Number is also permanently carved into her hanging locker and displayed on a brass plaque permanently mounted on her bulk head. We’ve made sure both the marina office and the manager looking after her have copies of all her papers and we’ve explained her HIN/VIN situation to them.  We’ve also sent all of this information to her new owners…. and, we’ve left instructions with her care manager to contact us should anything untoward occur.  Not sure what else we can do. For those of you wondering, her new owner Bill was injured in a motorcycle accident and won’t be coming to her until October, so we’ve tucked her back in for another summer and she waits patiently for his attendance.

We are continuing with our boat hunt while we watch the situation in Mexico carefully.  Let me be clear; we have absolutely no problem with yachts being checked to insure they have entered the country legally and have all their papers in order.  Unfortunately there are some owners who have not done this and their actions have led, in part, to this new inspection process. What we hope to see is that the situation calms down, the government figures out how to lift the embargo on the foreign cruising yachts who are not in violation, and things return to pretty much how they were… with perhaps a little more caution being exercised by marina offices and others responsible for checking boats in and out.  If things don’t calm down we may be forced to revisit our goal of returning to the Sea and rethink our future cruising plans (as to location).  After all, we have a beautiful cruising ground waiting for us in BC and, now that we’re both retired, our cruising adventures will be magnificent there too.

For now, we’re enjoying our visit in Yuma and looking forward to seeing other friends who are already here and others who may be arriving.  We’ll be leaving here on, or shortly after, January 20th.  We’re sorry to hear about the winter storms still threatening folks in BC , and across the country, and we hope that all of you are keeping warm and safe.  By the way, it’s not exactly toasty down here… mornings start off around 50 and the day warms up to the low-mid 70’s for a while, before cooling off again for the evening. It’s not exactly tanning weather, but it’s very comfortable and the sun is wonderful.

Best wishes to all of you, from all of us… even the Princess.  Take good care.. bye bye for now…..  CJ

Monday, January 6, 2014

Where are we now??

Hi there… many of you have been asking… Where are you? What are you doing?  All fair questions… We’ve just been kind of in travel mode and away from steady internet connection…  and so, somewhat rested… here we are back to catch you up on our travels.

We were determined to make our journey north as short and painless as possible… and, as always, poor old Chuck was full.  Chuck, for those of you who haven’t met him, is our trusty steed… a 1999 Ford Ranger… pretty green colour (oh, I guess he’d rather I described him as a ‘husky’ green) with an aging (although functional… if you don’t count each time one of the locks falls off :-) black canopy. For this trip Chuck was so full I had to physically use my shoulders to push in the last of the blankets and the sleeping bag (sleeping bag? you ask… yup, it does get cool in the mornings… even in Mexico… in January).  Anyway, besides being ridiculously full with all our “A” belongings (the “B”s are in storage in Mazatlan)… Chuck also had the pleasure of holding up the dinghy (deflated and wrapped in shade cloth) the whisker pole (3” diameter by about 10’ long), and the lime green kayak….  Dressed like this he is the most obvious vehicle in the parking lot… impossible to lose.

Luckily the tires were still round and off we headed, into the dark (again) leaving Mazatlan at 0430 hrs. on January 2nd.  We weren’t the only vehicles on the road and (unlike last year) we actually found our way out of the city and onto the highway without getting lost.  Thankfully the highways down here are much better than years past and by keeping to the toll highway (Cuado) we feel pretty safe as they are regularly patrolled by armed guards or police or soldiers….

After 10 long hours (which included stopping for fuel, water and sanitarios as required) we arrived in Guaymas, our destination for that night. Now you may recall my description of the first place and the second place we’d stayed in Guaymas on previous journeys…. and, determined not to be upset by ‘bugs’ again… we settled on the Holiday Inn Express, a newer hotel with great staff and a good breakfast.  We’d stayed there on the way down (sans puppy) and, after conferring with the princess who bravely offered to sleep in her truck bed, we decided we’d stay there again.  Soph was great; no complaints, happy to snuggle in to her fleece bed, she had a good nights sleep (as did we) and was up and raring to go at 0630 the next morning.

Day two (January 3rd) saw us pushing for the border.  There is no shortcut for this drive… and we had no choice but to arrive at our place in the lineup at mid-day.  For TWO hours we inched forward, casting worried glances at the gas gauge, and praying we wouldn’t run out…  (of course, I hadn’t remembered to fill our emergency jerry can with gas… stupid, stupid, me). Anyway, we finally made it up to the booth where a very nice, young fellow spoke with Kathy and asked a few question… (we always have Kathy at the wheel when going through borders.. she’s much nicer than me… fewer sharp corners… and does very well with the questions). Kathy drives and I sit in the passenger seat, armed with my binders of papers.. in order of course, covering the dog, us, the truck, the insurance, and the contents. We were prepared (as always) for the big search.  We’ve been so lucky over these past few years… It was no surprise when the fellow told us to pull ahead… into the checking area…  and so we did, expecting the worst.  But you know, again lady luck was watching over us.  There, another nice fellow asked to see in the back… did the usual double-take and sucked in his breath.  Accepted my offer to show him our two litres of wine, lifted the lid on one blue bin (luckily the one holding bits and pieces of kitchen equipment from our last galley) and with a big smile said… “have a nice day”.  He didn’t even ask to see the dog’s papers which, again, we had meticulously prepared and paid good money for yet another International Health Certificate.  You know the day we don’t will be the day they’re asked for…. oh well.

And so, 2 1/2 hours after arriving at the border, we pulled out the other side of the searching area and headed down the road into the US of A… with English road signs and English radio channels (mostly)… on our way to Yuma.  Susan and George had kindly  said they’d wait dinner for us… and bless their hearts they did.  We had a wonderful and delicious meal when we arrived and then tucked ourselves into our new home for the next couple of weeks.  We are now ‘official’ guests of the Sun Vista RV Resort in Yuma, Arizona and we live in space #154, a single-wide park model, with a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, sitting room, and even an add-on side room with couch and TV… great for piling some of our stuff into.

It’s taken a couple of days to catch our breath.  Between the packing, travelling, and continuing dialogue with folks in La Paz who were determined we should purchase the Catalina 36… it’s been a longish few days.  For those of you who are wanting to know.. we did re-think the La Paz Catalina, even had an email form the owner asking us to reconsider.. and we did.  We attempted to pick up where we’d left off, but to no avail.  Something else has occurred (don’t know what officially) and he has decided to go in a different direction… and so, as of this morning, we’re back to Plan B and looking west towards San Diego and Marina Del Rey to find our new boat.. and rest assured we will…. it’s just about being there.  For now, rest up and enjoy life.  Kathy’s at the pool as I write this, attending her first water-aerobics class… She should be home any minute, so I’d best get the coffee on.

We’ll be here for another two weeks, at least, having some fun and learning pickle ball…. We hope all of you are doing well… just think… only a few (well maybe a tad more) weeks and you’ll be thinking about spring….  Take good care.. from all of us to all of you… Happy January….  CJ