Thursday, December 31, 2015

Dances with strangers...

OK, so there I was, minding my own business... Tending to the folks at my end of the table and enjoying the company and the ambiance. It was today, New Years Eve, and we'd gone to La Palapa Griegga for dinner and entertainment. The show turned out to be music (Mark et al) and while the meal was delicious (Kathy had rack of lamb and I had steak and lobster... and we shared) the music included fabulous selections of many of my favorites .... Toe tapping, thigh slapping.. great music!

And, there I was... keeping up with the base on my legs and the table (and having a marguerita or two :-) and wondering how it would go if I asked Kathy to dance (Being Mexico and all, we try to behave). When Mark called for a "mosh". Not knowing what a mosh was, I watched and learned (quickly)... Lots of folks stood up at their tables and began to gyrate. And so I did too; I love to dance. And then Kathy joined me and, slowly, the rest of our table moshed on in.

And that's when I noticed a gentleman... slightly older than myself, hanging on to his white, plastic chair and letting his feet begin to move. Now, he could have been Fred Astaire or some other dancer... but me... I'm just me, and I sidled over and offered him my hand. Well, didn't he take it and didn't the two of us just dance our toes off for the rest of the song. We jived and we did other steps and he was a great lead....(yes, I can follow :-) . it was great!

The evening (spent mostly at Kathy's side) was terrific... But I wanted to tell you about the dance... Because, much like the ferry trip from La Paz to Pichilingue, I have experienced something outside my norm; a moment to remember.

I hope that each of you have experienced such a moment this year... And Kathy and I, and Princess Sophie, wish each and every one of you... the blessing of peace in your life and the opportunity to enjoy dances with strangers. Reach out a hand... in 2016. Have a great one!


Sent from my iPad

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Wishing you all the best for 2016 and OOPS... There goes the phone.

Hi everyone... from sunny, cloudy, windy, warm, cool and sometimes darn right cold... San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico.  First let me say we hope everyone had a good Christmas...  and we want to wish you all the best in 2016.  May we all survive El NiƱo and have the good sense to set attainable goals in the new year :-)

We're enjoying our time here in San Carlos. We really miss seeing our cruising buddies in La Paz and Mazatlan but know you are all well and enjoying life as it comes.  And we miss our friends at home too.  Sue and John, having returned from helping us, are tucked into their warm, cozy home in Crofton... and Craig and Alison have just finished a great (albeit too short) visit with us on their quest for warmer temperatures.  SSpirit is coming along in her rejuvenation. Many systems have been either replaced or renewed...and there are still a couple to finish. All that will come in due course. Sophie had a bad spell with two bleeding ulcers in her tummy but, with the help of Vets in Hermasillo, has recovered well.  So, things here are just ticking along in an unhurried way. This being the year it has... we re planning to leave early and enjoy a camping trip drive home.  We hope to visit friends and parks in the areas of Phoenix, Yuma, Lake Havasu and finally Palm Springs... before pushing north through Oregon and Washington to home.

Being at the dock has allowed us to keep in close touch with friends and family... by email and by telephone.  The OOPS part of this note is to tell you that for absolutely no reason... and much against all orders to the contrary... Kathy's cell phone leaped out of her pocket and hit the deck with a heart stopping crash this morning.  While it seems to still have a pulse, it is definitely unconscious as I write and, until we acquire a more positive diagnosis, we must assume the worst; we will be cell-phone-less until further notice :-(  Sorry about that. At least we still have email and Magic Jack :-)

So, for now... know we are well.. and wishing you all a wonderful 2016.  Adios for now.  CJ

Friday, November 27, 2015

LIfe in San Carlos

Shannon's Spirit at the dock

SSpirit's lovely new table

Walking the malecon - Sophie's ride

Action shot

The local Mexicans get a big kick out of this.

San Francisco Beach walk (Bahia Delfin)

Sophie's watching the Bottlenose Dolphins

Wet and sandy dog - happy pup!

San Francisco Beach wal

JJs Tacos (haven't had the courage to try the Donkeys yet!) 

Nice palapa roof

John & Sue with Byron

CJ with Byron and Anna

Byron's motto

An early birthday celebration

US Thanksgiving Toast to Penny & Jo

After our birthday dinner (yummy turkey with all the trimmings!)

San Carlos sunset

San Carlos marina at night

Thursday, November 26, 2015

SV Shannon's Spirit... Adjusted plans.

Hi everyone,

CJ here.... With a short update from San Carlos.

As you know our plans this year included prepping Shannon's Spirit and heading across the Sea to the Baja... And then to sail, with our friends Sue and John, down the coast to La Paz. We started off pretty well but have now realized we need to adjust our expectations. We are nearing the end of November and for many reasons (including a late start, the need for more repairs than we had known of or planned for, and Mother Nature's determination to toss Norther after Norther down the Sea...along with totally uncharacteristic Tropical Storms... and thereby creating sea and wind conditions that are more than uncomfortable... they can be dangerous) we four have had discussions regarding the situation and what is the best thing to do, given the circumstances.

Sue and John have decided to head home for Christmas. They've enjoyed their visit and, even though we worked them hard, they insist they've had a good time...AND... We have a grand plan for next year (a non el niño year). We will pick them up in Loretto (by which time we will have worked out all the kinks and already beat the northers to cross the Sea) and we will then sail slowly down to La Paz... This year we have been blessed with their company, their good humor, and their huge assistance and support both with the work and the decision making; and we will miss them very much.

We have decided to stop what kind of feels like running up hill, on one leg, with your hands tied behind your back. We are going to slow down (continue working on the boat but at a much less frenzied pace), take some time for our selves (rest, relax, recharge our systems...) and enjoy life here in San Carlos. We ll live in our floating condo at the San Carlos Marina (beautiful location by any standards), focus on our health, and do some fun things. We can still go out for day sails and fishing... Maybe an overnight or two... And we have found a tennis court and know of many beaches within a short distance... Suitable for long walks and Sophie.

So, sorry there won't be any stories of wild rides across the Sea or isolated anchorages with the north winds ravaging all around us... And we are very disappointed yet another year will go by before we get to visit with friends Tom and Jeanne in La Paz. BUT, we are adjusting to this new plan and feel better about how we re dealing with it each day.... We are looking forward to spending the next couple of months resting and rejuvenating as well as using the time to finish most repairs in SSpirit and divesting ourselves of all the 'stuff' we have and do not need. Who knows, may even find time for some writing.

I m sure there still will be stories of interest for the Blog and I ll try not to bore you....

So, for now, know we are well and enjoying life... And somewhat relieved to have given ourselves permission to slow down and take a breath.....

Hope all of you are well and have special plans with family and friends for the Christmas season.


Carolyn and Kathy (and PSophie)

Sent from my iPad

Thursday, November 12, 2015

It’s wonderful to be in the water…

San Carlos Marina is really quite beautiful.  A malecon/walkway circles the marina from A dock (closest to the exit) all the way around to G or F, inland and next to the marina office, Barracuda Bob’s (a good morning coffee shop) and Hammerhead’s (a sports bar with good food and a lovely setting). Docks A thru D are pretty much filled with cruisers like us (while the rest of the marina is filled with large, flashy fishing boats..some charter..some private).  Our neighbourhood changes almost every day as some boats get to leave, having completed their preparations and repairs, and other boats arrive, eager to roll up their sleeves and get themselves ready to depart as soon as possible.  Shannon’s Spirit is on Dock C.  We’re sharing our slip with SV Swan, a sister ship… a few years newer and a great role model.  We met Andy and Deb in San Evaristo our first season.  They taught us the finer nuances of ‘Happy Hours’ and shared tons of information with us about cruising in the Sea.  Now, they’re still mentoring us, this time about our boat.  It’s great to have someone to share notes with and ask questions.  They’re hoping to get away this weekend, although the weather gods may have other plans.

The northers have indeed begun to show themselves.  Some of you may know them as the Santa Anna’s; those nasty winds that blow through southern California.  For us in the Sea…  those same California winds swoop south and pick up speed as they blow into the Sea of Cortez.  When they arrive, they appear with such gusto that most of us either stop in our tracks or run for cover.  Luckily, in the Sea, there are lots of little hidey holes where a few boats at a time can hunker down and wait them out.  The one place to NOT be is midway across from the mainland to the Baja side.  For those of us who aspire to such a crossing…. well, we must monitor the weather very closely and choose our date and time of departure carefully.  It’s going to boil down to getting the boat and ourselves ready… and then patiently waiting for a break in the weather.  For instance, the forecast this morning (covering the next 7 days) spoke of winds up into the high 20’s and low 30’s coupled with seas of up to 14’…. (and the worst part) with approx. 5 seconds in between each swell….  That is NOT the kind of conditions we would ever choose to set out in.

While we’re finishing up several smaller jobs on the boat, we’re waiting for the arrival of a new water pump.  Those of you who know marine water pumps will understand when I tell you that we’re looking forward to replacing our old (beyond repair) Sherwood with an Oberdorfer.  It’s supposed to arrive tomorrow which means we might be lucky enough to get it installed on Saturday. And so, for now, we continue to improve dear SSpirit and begin to prepare ourselves for the adventure of finally setting sail sometime next week – once Mother Nature allows us passage.

Much to their delight (life on the water is ‘sweet’ compared to any other), Sue and John are happily ensconced aboard SSpirit, enjoying life at the dock and in the marina.  Kathy and I remain at the apartment which we are still sharing with a wall full of blue bins… all vying for space on the boat for their contents.  We’re now going through the contents for the fourth or fifth time, trying to pare down the load.  Poor SSpirit is just a boat after all, not a warehouse; and we seem to have brought enough ‘stuff’ to fill the Queen Mary! Luckily I can report the stack for the boat is getting smaller and the mountain of gear going back into the truck and heading home is growing.  And, that’s a good thing!

We think of you all lots…  hope all is going well out there.  Know we are well… a little tired of work but there’s a great light at the end of our tunnel and we’re getting closer every day.  Take good care of yourselves…..  Talk again soon…  adios  CJ

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A lot can happen in a week…

Hola friends…I can’t believe a whole week has passed.  To say we’ve been busy would be an understatement, so let me give you a quick synopsis of how we’ve done.  Sue and John have been marvellous!  They have managed to take a mountain of stuff (most in blue bins requiring an unpacking and repacking) and sort it into several ‘collections’ based on purpose/description/likely future.  And then we were able to go through and pull out yet more stuff for the Swap Meet. We then decided to warehouse the gear designated as either going home with us in the spring or not needed until the spring when we put SSpirit back to bed… into our apartment.  They kept the stuff going to the boat in their room… the plan being to unload their room first and, perhaps, move them onto the boat Monday or Tuesday.  Then we can pack the rest into the truck, give up our apt. and move onto the boat as well.  That’s the plan for that.

As for what’s been going on over the last week… well let me tell ya.  The engine has had an almost complete overhaul (exhaust elbow had to be cleaned up and one end refurbished/welded; the heat exchanger was cleaned and re-zinced; the water pump? well it’s pretty much toasted.  Omar was able to jury rig it to get us from the launching ramp to our slip, and now we wait.  Our good fellow Earl (at All Bay Marine) is sending us a new Oberdorfer and until it arrives, we get to enjoy the quiet calm. We also had to replace some of the hoses in the engine and I moved the raw water intake filter.  It had been screwed sideways into the sea cock.. not an optimal position.  It now sits upright against one of the bulkheads.  I look forward to exchanging it for a basket style filter next year.  If we had that kind, it would save us a lot of work when it comes time to flush the engine with fresh water.  As it is now, we have to detach one of the intake hoses, put it into a bucket and use a hose from outside to keep the bucket full of water so the hose can deliver it to the engine.  With the basket style water strainer, we would just have to unscrew the top and pour the water directly into the filter… a much easier proposition. Add to the ‘new’ list an impeller, V belt, thermostat, air filter element, fuel filters, oil and oil filter, and a few gaskets here and there… and the engine is feeling much better.  An in-water alignment will happen next week and, with the installation of the new water pump, we should be good to go in the mechanical department.

Electrically speaking, all seems to be in order.  Now we clean.  The major wash-down started yesterday and Sue did a fabulous job on the galley.  I expect she’ll start on the cabin itself today or tomorrow. While she’s busy with sponges, water and vinegar…  John has been seeing to the new dinghy.  Oh yes, another story.  Unfortunately the ministrations of John and Kathy did not cure the leaking problem on the starboard side of the old, patched dinghy. And just as we were scratching our heads about what to do (you can’t just go out and buy a new dinghy down here…. they don’t exist, or at least not anywhere near most of our budgets). Just as we were thinking out the next attempt to patch… a cruising friend put us in touch with another cruising couple who had sold their boat and had a dinghy for sale…. and…. not just any dinghy but one of our beloved Aquapro dinghies.. just like our 8’6” which is now resting at home.  And, this one had an aluminum hull… just like our little one.  Well, you guessed it, we hustled over to Guaymas and met up with Fran and Jean Guy… a terrific couple who were living, of all places, in a little Casita 17’ trailer… just like our Lucy.  Well, friends at first sight.. we went, we saw, we bought.  Done deal!  We are now the proud owners of a 10’ aluminum bottom Aquapro inflatable dinghy…with a double hull (yes, it’s a bit heavier), a spray cloth at the bow, dinghy wheels, and a beautiful set of chaps….. just perfect for four people and lots of room for two. All we have to do now is ‘adjust’ the stern ladder so that the dinghy davits can pull it up properly and stow it without leaving it to rub against transom ladder legs (the demise, we suspect, of the last dinghy).

Working on a boat in Mexico is interesting to say the least. It brings out the McGivor in each of us.  You remember him?  The guy on TV who could fix anything with a Bic lighter, a piece of tinfoil, a bit of string and well, ingenuity.  For instance…  we discovered the engine coolant tank was empty.  Should have inspected it more closely before we poured in more coolant… hmmm, we found out the hard way why it was empty as the coolant we poured in the top, streamed out the crack in the bottom…  No problem, right?  Just buy another one.  Off to the Auto Zone in the next town I went.  Finally found someone to understand my desire for a new tank and returned to the boat with my purchase.  It was larger than the old one… no problem I’ll just mount it higher.  It had more volume that the last one… shouldn’t be a problem.  So, I mounted it.  Oops.. too high.  Need to lower it to open the lid to pour the stuff in.  Hmmm..  then I won’t be able to access the top of the FG500, a sailors dream of a fuel filter.  OK…. worked all that out.  Now all I have to do is attach the hose. OOOOOPS.  The little nipple the hose attaches to is too big for the hose. What to do…what to do.  I searched high and low through all my hoses and bits and pieces…looking for a solution.  Finally had to sit down and ask “what exactly is the problem?”  The answer:  the nipple is too large.  The Solution: make it smaller.  How?  Hmmm some more.  Aha!!!  the light bulb went on.  I have a dremel tool on board… In five minutes I had ground the edges of the nipple down to the point the hose would fit.  Phew! A successful McGivor moment.

I am delighted to report we had the standing rigging inspected by the best rigger in town… and he has declared it like new!  I was very worried about the rigging as no one could tell me how old it is.  I was further worried about the fact that it well may be the original… which sounds crazy as the boat is a 1986, but our neighbouring Catalina 34 is a 1989 and still has it’s original rigging (also in good condition).  Those two facts have eased my mind considerably… and we feel confident in the rigging now and it’s ability to do the job.  We also carry spectra lines set up to act as emergency stays or shrouds if needed.

For those cruisers in or coming to San Carlos who are interested in the service people we have found and trust.  They are: Electrician – Salvadore Mitre Aguilar; Mechanic: Omar Garza; Rigger: Carlos (contacted through Garth Jones); Refrigeration: Jesus Salas; Dog Groomer: Manuel. We’re also told the following people are good. Wi-Fi and plastic fabrication: Albert Klettke; Stainless Steel: Luis Hernandez.

In closing for today, let me tell you we had a fantastic time at the Saturday Swap Meet (the first for the season).  We unloaded the vast majority of the items we had designated to go; even the dinghy.  I’m told we had the “best prices” but then we were motivated to get rid of the stuff… no more toting it around.  So we had a very successful day and walked away much lighter in the shoulders. 

We splashed last Wednesday… and we’re in slip C7 at Marina San Carlos.  We have our sister ship Swan beside us with Andy and Deb aboard, and more and more folks we know are arriving every day.  The place is filling up.

A few photos follow… some of the trek SSpirit took from the yard to the marina; and a photo of Miss Sophie enjoying a visit (under the hats) at our local lunch stop Bar and Grill.

We hope all is well with you out there and that your fall weather is not too harsh.  Our temps are finally dropping (down to low 80’s today).  Take good care one and all….  will write again soon.   Cheers…   CJ


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Sunday, November 1, 2015

Cheers to Thursdays…

Howdy folks, and happy Thursday.  We hope yours is going well.  Ours has been quite productive.  These past few days have contained periods of mad, crazy flurries of activity, interspersed with the rest and refreshment demanded by over-heated and dehydrated bodies…governed by the temperatures and humidity levels. We’ve all been working in different directions, sometimes independently and other times in couples or as a team.  It’s about the only way to move forward on the several projects on the go.  The only stable one, Miss Sophie, has continued to exhibit her fine sense of humour and her patience with all of us as we have left her stranded on her couch, or laying on her floor bed… while we run about in ever-decreasing circles. At least she’s got air conditioning  :-) and I haven’t heard her complaining about her comfy couch bed too much.

The weather has, at least, been stable… high 80’s to mid 90’s during the afternoons and fairly cool (relatively speaking) over-night. We’ve had no more thunder storms and no more leaking ceilings, walls or floors.  All is well.  It’s been fun in the yard watching old friends arrive.  Working on SSpirit we get to watch as their boats get moved into the works yard from storage.  The yard guys are fantastic at moving boats safely, quickly, and precisely.  They can take a 48-50’ boat and park it parallel to another with about 3’ in between… no problem. It’s absolutely amazing how many boats they can fit into a small space.  It’s also no wonder the boats don’t fall over in the hurricanes… there’s no where to fall! 

The same two old yard dogs are still around..  ‘she’ is getting pretty decrepit now and just moves from one patch of shade to another… very slowly at that. The ‘he’ dog is a little younger and a bit more spry.  He gets up enough energy to wander over for a pat, it you’re not too far away.  Otherwise they just both wander and ‘look’ like yard dogs.  I’m not sure if they actually scare any one or anything away… but at least they look the part. 

Anyway, as I was saying, the boats are coming in now, more and more each day.  Katy G, Juce, Dream Catcher, Cahoots, and soon Swan… all cruising friends… all in line waiting for their spruce up before splashing. We’ve had a chance for brief get togethers with a few of the cruisers…  longer gatherings may occur, or not, depending on work schedules.  As well, everyone tends to splash at different times.. then some, like us, spend at least a week in the marina getting ready before taking off.  Others splash and go… we’re not that brave.  Especially with a new boat, we want to be sure all systems are working well and, hopefully, will continue to do so as we cruise.  There will also be some ‘in the water’ work that needs to be done… such as rigging check-over, in water engine alignment, finishing the engine service.  Then it will be up to us to pack the boat without over-stuffing her (as has been our tendency in the past).  We’re really hoping Sue and John can control us as we sort through what we ‘think’ we need vs. what we ‘really’ need.

For now, know we are well and enjoying some progress.  Work on the dinghy has progressed to the stage where tomorrow, at precisely 1400 hrs., air will be introduced to the newly patched (and sealed we hope) starboard pontoon…. and we shall see then whether or not Sue’s kayak will have to be donated as an outrigger. Work on the engine began today.  We are delighted to report we found Omar… or rather he found us… thanks to some cruising friends we are now connected.  Wonderful guy, skilled mechanic, and even speaks English very well.  We are in good hands and will spend the next day or two re-juvinating the engine into the fine piece of machinery it was intended to be. Our splash day is moved to Monday to accommodate the engine repair and we’re all looking forward to getting on board and cleaning and packing… sounds horrible but it’s not.  Once the boat is in the water life on board will be cooler and life at the marina is very pleasant… imagine, floating in the Sea of Cortez, in a nice marina, surround by like-minded people… it’s pretty awesome!

Oh yes, a quick note.  You’d be proud of me.  I’ve turned into the thrift shop at the works yard..yup, spread out all the stuff we trying to get rid of…under the boat (on the shady side of course).  There’s no swap meet coming soon enough for us and we really want to move this stuff along so I now remind them on the morning net that ‘a few’ things are under SSpirit and they’re welcome to come take a look.  I’ve even got repeat customers!

So I guess that’s all for now….  Except Kathy wanted to show you the “after” picture of the DC panel rewiring job and our new favorite Mexican electrician….   she’s been working with Salvador for over a week and we now have a new SSB radio, a new propane system, a new DC subpanel and a bunch of spiffy lights, fans and other wiring upgrades. Salvador is a wonderful guy, so competent and resourceful and  worked for hours at a time, without complaint in hot, cramped conditions… always with his gentle and respectful sense of humour.  Thanks Salvador, you are the best!!


Hope all of you are well and your fall/winter weather isn’t too awful…  Talk to you soon….  CJ

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Checking in…

This is a post I wrote just before Hurricane Patricia roared onto the coast….  so it’s a little out of date…. hope you enjoy the read anyway.  As of today (Oct. 25th) things have settled down and we’re starting to see a brighter light at the end of the working tunnel :-)  We’ve even managed to tidy up the chaos in the house and move some of the bins into Rikki. Kathy and Salvadore should finish up tomorrow and then the rest of us get to move our attentions into and onto SSpirit.

What follows is the update, written a few days ago.

Howdy folks… It’s been a while since I’ve checked in… we’ve all been working hard here in sunny, rainy and windy San Carlos.  Yes, not only have the northers started to show themselves (early in honour of El Nino) but Hurricane Patricia is claiming fame down near Manzanillo and rumours have it we may experience some of her wrath (in the form of wet sunshine) up here some time in the future. All in a day of Mexican pleasure :-) We are all enjoying the slight drop in temperatures… it’s much nicer to work in the 80’s than the 90’s.

SSpirit is taking shape and beginning to resemble the lovely lady of our dreams.  Just yesterday the yard fellows applied her second coat of primer and the first coat of bottom paint.  Her bottom (pardon the phrase) looks wonderful!  Inside she still resembles a rummage sale at an electrical shop but Kathy and Salvadore have been slaving over the electrical system and repairing and updating as they go.  They’ve re-arranged the batteries so that the house batteries (4 of them) all live together and an added benefit to that move is that we now have a good place to store some canned goods in the vicinity of the galley. If not to day, then tomorrow, they will be hooking up the new propane lines to the new composite propane tank which will live on it’s new bracket outside the pushpit.  That little manoeuvre has created some more storage space in the cockpit locker (hurray!). And the navigation station is taking shape.  An 802 SSB radio and MATRIX (VHF/AIS) radio now grace the place.  These are wonderful additions as we will now be able to gather weather forecasts more easily, communicate with other boats on SSB, and even send and receive short emails while at sea. On the outside, we are re-running the running rigging (all but the Jib halyard which managed to get itself stuck for now) and today John and I are going to don knee pads and work at removing all the goop on the deck left over from the Duct tape we used to hold down covers etc. over the summer. If we can, we may even get the main sail back on… it depends on the wind.

I’m having fun on the morning net.  We’re part of the early group of folks down here and each morning there is an opportunity to offer things for sale (Swaps & Trades) on the radio.  We have so much stuff looking for a new home that I’ve separated them into categories.  Yesterday was “mechanical”,  today is “domestic” and it’s kind of a chuckle in the boat yard as I mention that fact. Because there’s a smaller group here for now, no one else has much to sell so I get to use the radio time.  Had our first sale yesterday… so fingers crossed we can unload a lot of our excess baggage.

With respect to the service folks down here.  It changes every year.  Some are allowed to work in the service yard, and some aren’t. It seems to be more political than anything else but you have to kind of pick and choose based upon reputation, availability and political affiliation.  None of the staff that the previous owner used are available or even still in San Carlos. Well, one is… but he’s not allowed in the yard anymore.  The rest have either retired, fallen from favour or disappeared.  I think we’ve identified who will do what in the near future…  As you know, Salvadore is our electrician this year. His partner Jesus will do the engine alignment and re-charge the refrigeration. A gentleman named Garth (who seems to run a loose crew of service people) has a rigger who will do the rigging inspection, install a radar reflector, and retrieve our Jib halyard. And finally, we will be using the mechanic out of Star Marine (also named Jesus… not too confusing) as our mechanic.

Our home team has been moving forward as well.  While Kathy slaves away on the electronics, the rest of us have been working on jobs off the boat, while we wait to be able to get inside and start cleaning.  John has been busy with the dinghy. Seems the ‘slow leak’ of yesteryears has turned into a gusher and the starboard side prefers to lay down flat than hold any air.  Thankfully the port side is solid.  We’ve located the leak and now await the arrival of hypalon adhesive… being carried down from the US by cruising friends.. thank gawd or, as Sue has suggested, we’d have to lash one of the kayaks to the SB side of the dinghy to create a floating raft. John has also begun the installation of new dinghy wheels onto the transom and they look great.  They’re the kind that you only have to push down on to engage and release… as opposed to the variety that require you to hang over the back of the dinghy with your head in the water, attempting to push a stubborn pin through four (too small) holes while the dinghy bobs up in down in big (thankfully warm) waves. These pneumatic wheels are fantastic!  Thankfully John is a very versatile fellow and as well as the dinghy work he’s also our painter and stainer.  We now have nice white shelves and barge boards and a brown stained slim-line book case. Sue has been caring for us splendidly…with 5 star meals as well as kicking in with the bin sorting and inventory, linen sorting (we have enough to open a store!) domestic chores, and planning. She will also be the lead hand when we can finally get into SSpirit to prepare the interior for packing. CJ (me) well I putter… a little bit of this and a little bit of that… 

The big picture is… we’re moving forward and things are beginning to shape up.  Our house looks like a semi-organized warehouse.  There are bins piled in several locations (to the boat; to home; to swap meet) and very soon we’ll be able to start moving them into their new locations. Rikki will become a storage locker mobile garage sale.

For now.. we shall move brightly forward… working on the boat and enjoying San Carlos.  We wish you and yours a good day and will check in again when we can.  Bye bye for now.  CJ

Friday, October 23, 2015

Hurricane Patricia...

Hi everyone...  A longer post will follow tonight but we wanted you to know we are safe from Hurricane Patricia.  The worst for us will be an increase in rain (and maybe a bit more wind) as she continues to curve over land.  We are very worried about the residents and visitors of Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta, and areas inland from them...  if you're interested in following this and other storms, you can check into and  This is a terrible storm and there is another brewing in the Pacific (named Olaf) which should peter out before hitting land.

We'll be battening Dow our hatches and praying for those in the path of Patricia. Talk to you later.  CJ

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Our crew has arrived…

Update, Oct. 15th:  We are delighted to report that our friends and crew, Sue and John, have arrived safe and sound and roarin’ to get to work.  Well, as roaring as you can be in 105 degrees… yup, broke the scale yesterday (Wednesday, the day they arrived)… was the hottest day so far.  The good news is forecasts suggest that cooler temps will return by, hopefully, tomorrow.  We declared yesterday a day of arrival and rest, except for poor Kathy who ended up working on the boat anyway. Salvador, the fellow who is going to work with her on some of the electrical work, could only meet yesterday afternoon for an orientation as to what work was to be done.  So, while I drove into Guaymas and picked up S & J, Kathy slaved away with Salvatore for a couple of hours.

We finished installing all but one of the new faceplates and/or actual bodies of the new electronics at the Navigation station yesterday.  Kathy has done a super job of spacing them and placing them and the panel looks good, very good. We’re quite fortunate that between the parts she brought down with her and those that were already here – we seem to have more electrical connectors and doodads than any of the hardware stores in the area.  That’s great because we have always subscribed to the notion that…. while we’re likely to find someone with the knowledge and skill to do almost anything, he or she won’t be able to help us unless the parts required can be found….  ergo…. we have the parts (or as many as we imagined might be needed at some time or other).

We have been here just over a week and, for those newbie cruisers who are curious as to what’s involved,  thus far we have: opened up the boat, collected the critter traps, hauled out the dinghy and the kayak that were stowed in the cabin; begun the electrical installations already mentioned; installed the dodger and the bimini; re-run the lifelines; removed two very large boat seats installed in the cockpit (we fondly referred to as the lazy boys… very comfortable but, for us, just too large for the available space.  As well they cut down the available breeze and visibility. We will be replacing them with lower profiled, white cockpit seats… very similar to those on Shannon.); removed the previous name decal that was almost impossible to read from any kind of a distance; had it replaced with a larger name with easier to read font (and shamrocks, one on each side of the bow);  determined the location for pretty much all of the items to be added to the walls and bulkheads; and begun the onerous task of sorting through the contents of both sets of bins (those we brought down with us this time and those that have been waiting for such attention in our hot, tin-roofed storage locker). Oh, we also moved into our rental house and have had to sort out a few things like the numerous leaks in the ceiling and floor, discovered during the first of a few thunderstorm showers and the little problem with the cistern (water reservoir) on the roof.  We came home one day to find a waterfall cascading off the roof, right at the end of the carport where Rikki parks.  The water cascaded for hours while we waited for the manager’s handyman to arrive.  Rikki had a very clean and shiny backside from the constant washing.  Seems the way water comes to this and most homes is by pipes from the ‘township’. The tanks fill up until a little float switch device tells them it’s full.  Well, just like on a boat, these little float switches fail and, when they do, the water just keeps on coming.  Luckily the roof is strong and designed for just such an event.  Good thing, because it’s happened twice so far and the second time it happened about midnight.  The water ran off all night until mid-morning when someone finally attended and fixed the situation.  Somehow I can’t help but think it just might happen again.  We shall see. All in all the house is just fine. A little rustic in some respects but very liveable and far nicer than staying on the hot, dusty boat in the work yard. Drinking water comes from large blue bottles which we get at the local store on an exchange program. Unlike home, where you just turn a tap for clear, fresh water…  here you must first acquire the heavy blue jug, then find a place for it on your counter, and finally you must then work a long tube affair with a hand pump and a spigot into the top without overflowing the displaced water all over the counter and floor.  It’s an art I am sure.  And a skill I am only just beginning to acquire.  I spilled a little less water last time, so maybe I’m learning. As for telephones, mail delivery and television… there is none'; unless you have your own cell phone and phone plan, don’t mind using UPS and speak enough Spanish to understand the TV programs (often violent or domestic).  We were happy to find a couple of TV channels with English (and Spanish sub-titles)… actually some pretty good movies.. so between that and the movies we’ve brought along with us… we have plenty of entertainment for those down times.

Last night we four sat down and took a look at the list of projects awaiting us.  We selected those that must be done before launch day, those that can be done once the boat’s in the water, and those that will just have to wait.  It was a good discussion and was a great help in sorting out what needs to be done and in what order.  Each of us have our skills and our areas of interest.  Some are different and others are the same. I have no doubt we’re going to be a great team and SSpirit will be all the better for it.  We have a launch date of October 30th and our work is cut out for us.  The next 14 days will be busy but enjoyable and each day some of our old cruising buddies are arriving to begin preparatory work on their own boats…

So for now my friends… let me bid you adieu.  It’s time to wake up the team and head out.  We’re going to Rosa’s Cantina for a San Carlos breakfast today.  Special occasion you know… old friends together.  Take good care and have a great day.  All the best from “soon to be cooler” San Carlos.  CJ

Monday, October 12, 2015

Stranger than fiction…

Hi folks… Happy Thanksgiving!  Hope you’re all enjoying a yummy turkey dinner in honour of the day (Canadian; the Americans’ is coming).  We’ve had another fun day at the boat yard…  it’s about 95 degrees inside the boat (where Kathy works) and that’s with fans running and all windows open as well as the hatches.  But, fear not.  You do actually get fairly used to it… and it’s not too bad as long as you keep on drinking (water :-).

You’re probably wondering about the “stranger than fiction” so I’ll just get right into telling you.  One of the things I did today was to remove the (decal) name of Shannon’s Spirit in preparation for replacing it with one of a different font; one you could read from farther away that 10 feet! The first was very nice, just not effective… so off it has come. The newer one should be much easier to read from a distance.  When you’re sailing by our anchorage we want you to be able to look through your binos and say  “hey, there’s SSpirit” not “oh look, it’s another Catalina 34”.  If the name isn’t clear enough for you, then the big green shamrocks (one on each side of the bow) should be a dead give away.  Anyway, there I was up the ladder with my heat gun sweating and scraping away.. when I couldn’t help but notice that I could see the outlines and shadows of previous names (we’d put our decal right on top of the old ones).  I knew her previous name was Wild Goose, but I didn’t know any names before that.  And, for the first time, I could actually make out the outline of the name… are you ready…. I almost fell off the ladder!!  Her (possibly original) name was… Lady Carolyn.  I kid you not. It’s even spelled the same as my name.  I’ve put a call into a fellow I know with the Catalina association to see if he knows of her history… but oh my, what a surprise that was.

So that’s the ‘stranger than fiction” story.  The rest of our update is that between us we worked our butts off, sweated out quarts of drinking water, and managed to get to the end of the day wondering if we’d accomplished much.  But, of course, we had!  No photos today but Kathy has indeed spent hours bonding with SSpirit’s electrical system(s) and making adjustments as required and where possible. She’s meeting with an electrician on Wednesday in order to discuss and plan for the more technical aspects of what must be done and so her work today will be very valuable in providing a solid platform from which to move forward.  Me?  Well I dabbled didn’t I.  I removed a bit here, and added a bit there.  Studied the raw water intake for the engine; a system I intend to adjust.  And, I also spent some time wrestling with bins in our tin roofed, stuffed to the ceiling, storage locker… looking for bits and pieces each of us need for our projects.

Probably the only really bad news I have is that we may have forgotten the coffee cone!!!!  That is not good news as all four of us (Sue and John arrive on Wednesday) love our coffee and the system we use on the boat depends on one of those #4 Melitta coffee cones. I’ve gone through every bin we have down here and, if I had to say, I think we left it in the trailer  :-(  So our McGuivor genes are busily employed working up ideas for creating a cone to hold the hundreds of paper filters (which we DO have).  I feel certain we’ll have perfected some invention within the next couple of days… however, ideas are always welcome.

That’s pretty much it for today…. Hope you are all well and not too over-stuffed from turkey, dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts, yams, small sweet peas, oh, and pumpkin pie.  Ooh we miss our turkey dinners!  So, that’s it.  Take care everyone…  adios, CJ and K (and PS)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Live… from San Carlos, Sat. Oct. 10th

Hi folks.  It’s Saturday evening and we’re back at home after a fairly productive day on SSpirit.  I must say though, it is hot!  We’re only able to work for a few hours at a time and then we head for the house to cool down and spend some time with Miss Sophie. We each  have numerous projects on our chit…  mine include some of the fairly basic systems… you know, the kind that we depend on without even thinking about it much… like toilets :-)  Yup, I am the queen of the sanitation system.  I also look after things like the ground tackle collection, and tons of littler stuff here and there and everywhere. Kathy on the other hand must use her talents in the electrical/technical world (a different planet from where I sit)  as she upgrades our communication and navigation systems – no easy task. Boats always look so pretty, until you undo a tab or two and pull out a panel to look behind it.  Sigh…. We’ve had to prioritize our tudu list.  There just won’t be time to do everything before it’s time to leave.  Mother nature waits for no-one and she’s already kicking up some northerly winds (two months too early) in honour of this El Nino weather year.

The last two days have been spent ripping off all the old foil, cloth and duct tape coverings that have protected SSpirits ‘parts’ on deck.  We’ve also cleaned out the critter traps and dust covers, etc. below.  Then there was the gungy stainless steel framework for the dodger (a little polish required there) and finally, the wrestling with crusty sunbrella, snaps and windows…. to get the dodger and bimini back onto their frames and (almost) all the snaps done up. This was an early ‘must’ as we dearly needed the shade in the cockpit.

Today’s photos will give you the picture (pardon the pun) of our morning.  I was lucky. The new stove mostly fit where the old one came from and we were able to bring the newby up the ladder and into the boat (with the help of two strong Mexican gentlemen). We also managed to get the old one out of the galley, up the companionway stairs, over the side and down the ladder to the ground with their help (and found a new home for the old stove, once we’d confirmed the new one was going to fit and work). The main challenge was the fact the new stove was narrower than the old one – but a few blocks of starboard beneath the swivels on each side took care of that.  Sue, you’re going to love this Force 10, two burner with oven, little gem.  We’ve never had a new one before.  What a treat!

Kathy’s first and biggest challenge is the SSB Radio and all the equipment that accompanies it. There’s the transceiver, the head, the speaker, and the tuner… all with their own requirements with respect to placement and installation. Once they’re all mounted… there’s the wiring.  What a night mare!  And then, just when you might think she’s finished… there’s the GAM antennae and the KISS ground plane to be installed.  It’s a huge job and my hat’s off to her for being willing to take it on.

Having been forced into a late start, we’re doing our best to be organized and efficient as we approach the list of ‘things’ we’d like to accomplish over the next few weeks. We are so lucky that Sue and John (our very able crew for a good chunk of the season) are arriving next Wednesday.  They are coming early so as to give us a hand with these projects and we are looking forward to seeing them and to working with them.  For now, we’ll let the photo(s) do the talking.

CJ’s day….



Kathy’s day…. 

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So there you have it… just another day at the boat yard…  Bye bye for now.  Will write again soon.  CJ

PS:  my smile looks a little funny… that’s cuz there’s a bandage across my upper lip.  Comes off tomorrow.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Greetings from sunny San Carlos...

Hola everyone.  Well, not only did we make it to San Carlos.... but we also breezed through the border (too cold I guess for the guards to even stop leaning on their fence... they just waved us through .. of course the green light helped :-). We were also the first folks in for our Tourist Visas (I think we actually woke the young man up).  We were in and out of KM 17 before there was even a lineup starting.  Then we headed on down the road and worked our plan; that being to only make short, guarded, pee stops...and not many of those.

I should probably explain what I mean by guarded.  Not too long ago I discovered an inexpensive RV tow hitch wrench.  You may recall I carelessly left it on top of the propane tanks and lost it to the highway shortly after we left home in September.  Well I was lucky enough to find another one while I was up basking in the BC sunshine, and I brought it back with me.  It fits nicely up my forearm and has become a very welcome companion when we take Miss Sophie for her short walks.  Kathy mans the leash and dog and I... Well, let's just say, I guard the flank(s).   

And finally, I'm happy to report that Rikki got fabulous gas mileage (good fellow) so we only stopped for fuel twice and arrived with a tank almost three-quarters full.

That's the news for today.  Oh, one more thing.  I am delighted to have an appointment with Dr. Mike tomorrow morning at 0900 to get my stitches out.  They are driving me crazy!! And, while I was disappointed with the response from the US Dr's in Rio Rico when I approached them for an appointment (they said they wouldn't touch it....  Far too complicated they said... Nope, sorry, we can't help you)...  Dr. Mike, the nice young American Dr. Who works the clinic here in San Carlos (and who helped Kathy with her knees after the dog attack last year) said...  Sure no problem; and the cost "oh, about twenty-five dollars." So tomorrow morning, after a good breakfast at Rosie's and a little work on SSpirit (who is looking pretty good and waiting for us to get started on her new look) we will visit Dr. Mike and get rid of these porcupine quills in my face (that's what they feel like).

And lastly....  We are absolutely DELIGHTED to finally be back at the boat and with all our stuff!!
It's pretty hot, it's windy, and we are well.

All the best everyone... Take good care...  Talk to you soon...  CJ, K and PS

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

San Carlos bound...tomorrow.

Tomorrow's the day!  It's time...  CJ's suitcase showed up (at 0130 hrs.... It's a long story that includes sloppy luggage loading in Victoria, good intentions in Edmonton, mis-direction in Calgary, unwillingness to engage brain cells in Phoenix, good service from well-intentioned baggage clerks in Tucson, another round trip for us to Tucson, and one VERY broken baggage handling system... Oh, and Kathy spending literally hours, over the course of two days, on the phone with three different airlines, explaining to each one what the others were doing...).  Enough said about that!

We are all together, better rested, and ready to roar. Our plan is to leave Esplendor (Rio Rico) tomorrow morning about 0530 hrs.... get to the border nice and early, move along down the road to KM 17 where we will get our Tourist Visas and a TIP for the truck (in case we decide to drive it to Mazatlan later in the season) and head on down the road to Guaymas and San Carlos.  It's a 7 hour drive that will probably take about 9 or 10 hours depending on officialdom, weather, and coffee stops...

Let me tell you about weather for a moment.  One of the reasons we didn' t push ourselves to leave today was the forecasts calling for thunder storms between here and our destination... While our intentions were to sit tight watching TV and resting... we ended up having to drive back up the road to Green Valley, to the vets office, to have some typos in their International Health Certificate issued for Sophie - corrected.  Once done, we headed south again towards Rio Rico expecting a short and uneventful drive.  Didn't happen.  While still on the entrance ramp to the highway we were nose into a ferocious thunder shower complete with wind gusts and driving rain so thick we couldn't see the road ahead of us.  Rule one: if you can't see the road, stop trying to drive on it. Luckily there was enough shoulder for us to pull over and wait, with emerg flashers on and all eyes alert (well, except for Sophie.  She's so deaf now she slept through the whole thing).  A car behind us did the same thing (provided a nice little guard for our rear).  Anyway, about thirty minutes later the thunder, lightening, wind and torrential rainfall had passed us by and we were able to complete our journey under blue and cloudy skies and warm sun.  We're really glad we decided to wait out the thunderstorms as the roads in Mexico don't all provide nice shoulders to pull over on.

For now we are tucked in to our nice little hotel room, catching up on The Good Wife and turning in early in anticipation of tomorrow.  Will write again from Mexico.  We are well, and we hope all of you are enjoying each day.  For now... Adios and talk to you soon....  CJ, K and PS.

Monday, October 5, 2015

All's Well....

Hi everyone...  Just a quick update to let you know we are well.  My flights (all three of them) were fine and right on time. Unfortunately my suitcase didn't accompany me.

Seems the West Jet folks in Victoria thought the case was more interested in seeing Edmonton than Calgary... So suitcase is on an international tour of its own.  At last report, while I soldiered on, somewhat lighter in load, and flew from Victoria to Calgary, from Calgary to LAX, and from Las Angeles to Tucson, said suitcase took a trip from Victoria to Edmonton where it languished until some kind soul took pity on it.  It then flew from Edmonton to Calgary where it was re-routed to Phoenix for transfer from WestJet care to American Airlines.  The only glitch at this point is that all that info came from West Jet.  American Airlines hadn't even realized it had been found as of this morning.  If we're lucky, the young woman from American Airlines we spoke to will be successful in her attempt to draw people's attention to this lonely little case, find it, and ship it to Tucson where (we are told) they will promptly have it driven to our location (Esplendor Resort in Rio Rico). Enough about luggage....

We are here!!  We are together!!  And, we are all three healthy!!  The Esplendor Resort is a fine place to re-group and rest up for our one final push.  We plan to leave at dawn tomorrow, or 0530 which ever comes first, so as to be at the border at 0600...  Early morning is best for us as we then have the whole day, in daylight, to make this drive to San Carlos.

So for now, know we are well and getting back on track. :-).  Our hearts and thoughts go out to friends who have lost dear ones recently... And to one old friend (he'll know who he is) who will face a wee challenge tomorrow.

That's enough for now... Oh yeah, the Princess went down three flights of stairs this morning...on her own!!  Aided by the fact her patch of grass was at the bottom and I wasn't offering to carry her...yeah!!

Adios for now...  CJ

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wonderful news!!!!!!

I can't stop hugging myself, crying, and jumping up and down.. all at the same time. Who knew how deep my fear of the possibilities was?  I admit these past 12 days have felt like I've been living in someone else's life.  I didn't expect to hear of the lab results for another two days (at least) so when I answered the phone this afternoon, and it was my surgeon, well....  I stopped breathing.  Now, since he told me the wonderful news, that he got it all and I'm cancer free, well now I can't keep my eyes from leaking.. and I don't care.  I am so very lucky. And I am so very grateful.

Thank you to all of you who wrote and shared your own stories and who offered me such strong support and understanding.  There's so much more I could say... but I think today... just this short note says it all.

I hope you're all enjoying this wonderful fall weather and are having as good a day as I am... take good care. I fly out of Victoria early Saturday morning and should be partnered up with the Mulhaley Caravan by 2130ish hrs. when I land in Tucson, AZ.

It's time to rest now.  Adios... will be in touch...  CJ

Monday, September 28, 2015

You never know who you're going to run into...

So there she was, boogieing down the highway, heading for today's intended destination... and she sees a gal on the side of the road taking a photo of something or other... and she thinks (man, that looks like Deb from home....) but she carries on... it's so hot hallucinations wouldn't be out of the expected.  A little while later she sees the little white car (the same that the photographer was out of) again.. .and this time it's stopped.. oh, heck, I forget how it goes... too much pain killer (er I mean rum). Anyway, the great news is that in a nation as tall and as wide as the US of A... our Kathy (and the princess of course) have literally bumped (well actually no fenders kissed) into Ron and Deb.. friends from home.  What luck!  At just the right time! I'm expecting Kath could use a little company of the "I already know you and like you" type.... so, what luck they actually ran into each other.

So cancel where she was going, cuz they headed off instead to the small village of Tusayan, at the Grand Canyon and the Mulhaley caravan will be at the Grand Canyon Campers Village for a couple of nights. What a wonderful opportunity to spend some time with friends, at a higher (and cooler) elevation, at the perfect time when warm, friendly company is needed.  Thank you Ron and Deb, for popping up at just the perfect time.  Who knew Route 66 (that's right, that's what they're all following) would yield such a treasure.

It was kind of funny.  A couple nights back, when Kathy explained to me she was following Route 66, named after some TV show from years gone by... well (you know where I'm going with this don't you?) well I had to stop her... because of course I know Route 66 and the two gorgeous fellows and the wonderful (was it red or blue?) convertible sports car they drove.... who wouldn't?  Except perhaps those born a little after us.  Great show and here we are..."x" number of years later... remembering them.. Wondrous world this!

Kathy will have a great couple of days, spending quality time with friends, doing a little early morning cycling and generally gathering herself for the next series of legs.  I, having survived (of course) the second little op, will content myself with re-arranging the furniture in my study (what else can I do... bored stiff as I am and too damn lazy to unpack my workshop)... and waiting for the lab results of this second go-round.  The last boxing match was nothing compared to the results of the one I lost today.  I have definitely lost my movie-star quality smile.

That's it for now.. just a quick update on how we're all doing and where the Mulhaley wagon train is going to lay low for a couple of days.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful day... did you all see the eclipse and super moon last night? Hope so.

Adios for now....  fair winds to all...  CJ

It's a tad warm in Arizona...

Not sure how I did this... but I think I managed to insert a photo Kath just sent from inside Rikki.  She's just leaving where she spent the night and has mentioned a couple times how warm it is. This is a photo from the info panel in the trucks dash. It is indeed a 'tad' warm there.  With luck she and the princess won't melt before they get to their next destination... Williams,AZ. This next place is at a higher elevation and supposed to be significantly cooler.  Here's hoping...

Talk to you all later....  over and out.  CJ

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Not enough info...

Hi everyone.  Just a quick  note.  Something one of you said in an email has caused me to believe I may have not provided enough information when I mentioned that I had to come home for a few days.  While I don't want to air my problems to the world, neither do I want to leave a gap requiring envisioning, conjecturing and creating in order to finish the sentence.  To be clear, I am now a member of the large group of Basal Cell Carcinoma warriors... nothing worse.  I must admit I would have rather had this on my leg than my face... but... guess I needed a little prettifying. So no lying awake at night or worrying please.  This hiccup will be dealt with and dealt with well... very shortly.  Thanks for your emails and messages... you are the best!  CJ

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The caravan 'trucks' on....

Some may wonder what is going on with this merry-go-round of ours... Here's a quick update.

CJ's doing fine...  looks a bit like the loser of a 9 round boxing match (not sure how many rounds a real match is..).  The doc carved out a nice little chunk of my upper lip, right side, and promised to leave the scar running up one of my 'lines' (his word).  I think he was being polite and didn't want to offend me by mentioning that my line was really a wrinkle :-)  Anyway, the op went well (not my favourite way to spend a morning) and I was out by early afternoon, on my way home to nurse my owie with ice (some on my lip, some in my rum :-)  All I had to do was wait to hear from the lab that he got it all, then wait to get the stitches out, and then be on my way.  Unfortunately, I just heard this morning that there's a little bit more to come off... so, back I go next Monday and we dosey-doe one more time.

Kathy on the other hand is doing splendidly.  Courageous as she is, she and the princess have conquered the highways and the bi-ways between where she was and where she is tonight.  I left her in Reno and she's now in Las Vegas (actually on the outskirts of Vegas).  She stopped at a couple of different places, met some neat people.. even scored some Seattle's Finest coffee off a long-haired manager (who lived in a bus) at one of the places.  Her route has been as follows.

  • Tuesday, Sept. 22:  US-95 to the Sunrise Valley RV in Mina.  
  • Wednesday, Sept. 23: Fort Amargosa RV Park, 27 minutes south of Beatty, in Amargosa Valley
  • Thursday, Sept. 24: US 95 to Las Vegas and Duck Creek RV Park (Passport America $16/night)
This last place really values pets as they're charging an extra $3/night for the  princess to visit.  But, they have a pool... which they should have as the temperature was 40 degrees when Kath arrived!!  Thank goodness Lucy is actually from Las Vegas (we were here two years ago picking her up) and has a good air conditioner and insulation.

The plan for now is as follows.  CJ will tough it out at home, attend on Monday for some more facial art work (I should be real pretty by the time this is over...), wait for the 'green light' from the lab and the stitches to be removed.. and then skedaddle as fast as possible back to the southbound caravan.  I expect we will meet up at the Tucson Airport.  We'll be behind schedule but we'll just have to prioritize the work when we get to San Carlos... the good ship Shannon's Spirit will sail.. and she'll sail in early November!

Kathy and Sophie, Lucy and Rikki, will continue on their way in a comfortable fashion (as comfy as you can be in 40 degree weather :-(  They'll stop over in the Lake Havasu area on their way to the next stop. They're heading for the Lost Dutchman State Park which is not too far from Phoenix, and hopefully they'll be able to rest there for a couple of days at least. Timing will kick in once we're sure what day I'm flying.  We can fine tune from there.  The final destination (this trip) for Lucy is Tubac, AZ where she will be prepped for storage and the winter months.

It's best to stop at this point as plans won't finalize until we have some dates to work with... Sooo, know that we are well, if not half a country apart, and moving forward.  Kathy reports that while the Princess is reluctant to walk too far in the heat (and quite clear about her wishes) she is frolicking like a puppy in the cool morning airs.  Even offering ear licks in thanks for time spent in her favourite camp chair (which of course travels with us.. after all, it is her throne!).

Enough already... you'd think I'd had a glass of wine or something... Take good care everyone.. we'll be in touch.

Adios for now.... CJ

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Checking in...

How time flies when you're having fun!  

Time to catch up on our travels. We did finally manage to squeeze everything into Rikki; even a comfy bed for the princess (yet another use for a dog crate if you break it down and put the lid inside the base). And, after a rather short sleep, we hit the road early Monday morning.  Both truck and trailer were performing well so off we went, heading south to Victoria to begin our 2015 road trip from Victoria, BC to San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico.  We've had several requests from regular RVers as well as sailors who have taken to the road as a way to get down to their boats, for some information on our route and stops along the way. The notes hereafter will provide an over-view of our daily journey with a few comments about places we've stayed.

Monday, Sept. 14th

Arrived Victoria 0900 hrs for the 1030 Coho Ferry.  Given our experience last year, we weren't looking forward to meeting this years version of 'Lurch the Border Guard' and we were greatly relieved when our officer for the day turned out to be friendly, polite and a genuinely nice guy. Phew! The ferry trip itself was uneventful and, after exiting the ferry in Port Angeles, we sailed through the last check point with similar ease.

Our first stop was to a company we'd discovered called Port Angeles Package Receiving.  This place provides a great service. We were able to order boat things from the US and have them shipped directly to Port Angeles, where they were stored until we could pick them up.  Their location is only a few blocks from the Coho Ferry Dock and if you check out the road map first (like we didn't) you'll learn that their address (on E. 1st.) is a one-way street. Just drive straight ahead when you leave the ferry parking lot, head up to E. 1st St. and turn left.  You'll find it easily.  Their website is and it's worth a look.  Next stop - Bainbridge Island to pick up our new anchor ...and then we were free to continue on our way.  

We spent our first night at the Little Creek Casino Resort and Campground in, you guessed it, Little Creek, WA.  This is a great spot for an over-nighter.  The pads are flat cement with grass on both sides and full services.  The facilities are clean and well maintained.  It's a typical casino rv park without much vegetation... but the sites are just fine and most are pull-thru which is very nice when you're in travelling mode. There are several restaurants in the Casino complex and there's also a pool and hot tub which RV guests are welcome to use.  There is some traffic noise as it's quite near the highway, but it's not that bad, particularly for a one or two night stay. This site is on the Passport America list and it cost us $17.50. 

Tuesday, Sept. 15th

Up early and on the road, we headed to Hayden Island in Vancouver, WA where we had pick ups to make at West Marine and NW Inflatables. With the last of our cargo on board, and having concluded that northern California was still burning fiercely, along with some parts of Oregon, we decided to head east following the same route we took last year. Off we headed, driving along the southern edge of the Columbia River, a comfortable drive and a lot more pleasant than the I 5.

You may recall a story last year about running out of gas along a long and lonely stretch of road?  And the guy who drove out to us with a jerry can of gas...enough to get us back to the nearest gas station?  Well, that was a small dot on the map called Arlington. Quite coincidentally, that is where we had chosen to spend Tuesday night; at the Port of Arlington Marina & RV Park. We didn't realize this was one and the same place until we arrived, but it kind of felt like visiting an old friend and we were pleased to be stopping for the night anyway as it was almost dark.  The RV park turned out to be full but for a whole $9 we were welcome to dry camp in their overflow lot (the parking lot of the adjacent boat launch) and so we did.... even sat out under the stars and enjoyed a night-cap before hitting the pillows. To be truthful the highway and train noise in the area is pretty loud, but when you're enjoying an, almost free, over nighter in your cosy little Casita... and you're road weary as well..... the noise just doesn't seem to matter.  We had a good night and enjoyed the stay.

An aside re:  Life Happens... This is the point where our journey gets a little complicated. Three things happened.  The first is that Miss Sophie wasn't as comfortable as normal and we had begun to suspect the return of her bleeding ulcer (caused by heavy meds after her amputation). She'd been on anti-biotics again for a weak kidney infection and it looked like her ulcer was acting up.  That wasn't the problem.  The problem was we were running out of the prescription meds we were using to treat her. There weren't exactly a lot of vets around and, when you have a special creature like the princess...  well it's a very long story to try and explain to a stranger. I'm sure you understand what I'm saying here.  It's also very expensive.  While we were communicating with our vets at home to come up with a solution for Sophie, I received a message advising me that the little spot on my lip did indeed need to be excised and it should  be done sooner rather than later. Hmmm.  I'd kind of been ignoring that whole thing because it did seem quite minute and unlikely... and it's very important to get this cargo to Mexico if we are to salvage our cruising season... much over-due I might add. And lastly, Rikki (the truck) was rapidly approaching his need for his first (8000 km) service and not every Dodge dealership had a good reputation for service. So here's what happened....

Wednesday, Sept. 16th 

Luckily we hadn't driven so far east there was no way back.  We turned ourselves around and headed west, not quite as far as Portland, but to the connection with a highway heading south. When faced with a choice of airports between Salt Lake City and Reno... well, we chose Reno.  We know the area, there are lots of RV places, and we're just not all that hepped up about Utah. Our journey south took us through beautiful, scenic, rural farm and ranch lands.  It also took us up into forests of pine and back down into fertile valleys.  It was very picturesque and we will come back here one day and slow down to explore the many historical sites.

I should take a minute here and acknowledge that, as you already know, these past couple of years have been rather... well... 'busy'. I believe we have become rather proficient at changing directions when needed to meet the challenges. Phrases like "keep your eye on the prize" and "don't sweat the small stuff" and "live every day"...  these are all very meaningful for us and help us keep going....  Some days are a little more trying than others, but our light is still burning brightly... so here's how it's unfolding.

We drove south and stopped in Bend, Oregon at the Riverside Veterinarian. Friendly staff and an accommodating Vet allowed us to wait for a FAX from home and they then prepared Sophie's meds for us. Back on the road, we headed south to La Pine, Oregon and stopped for the night at the Riverview RV Park; a great little place with a friendly manager, grassy sites with gravel pads, friendly neighbours, clean washrooms and showers, even a laundry.  This is an older park but very well maintained. Sophie was so impressed with the grass lawns and walking trails she was quite prepared to move in and stay.  But, game as usual, she was up and ready to roll when it was time.  We actually stayed an extra day here as, when we woke up it was pouring rain and no kind of weather to be driving in.  We also needed some planning time and good thing we stayed as it took most of the day to sort out our next destination, airplane tickets, and a rental car... all necessary for my return to BC. Our plan morphed into the scenario where I would return to BC for a few days and Kathy and Sophie would maintain the status quo on the road, starting with taking Rikki in for his 8000 km service at the Carson City Dodge Chrysler.

Friday, Sept. 18th 

On the road early, we continued south towards Reno and our destination of choice the Sparks Marina RV Park in Sparks, Nevada. This is another of those cement pads all lined up RV parks. It has a small pool, tidy grounds, and security.  Turns out there's a nice park for walking at the marina next door... and, it's 11 minutes from the Reno airport.

Saturday, Sept. 19th 

Kathy dropped me at the airport at 0730 and I carried on with my journey home by air.  She grabbed some groceries and headed back to the trailer.  My journey home was uneventful in some ways and memorable in others.  I'm not used to travelling on my own having been blessed with wonderful travelling companions over the years...  and, all these new fangled electronic gadgets that rule our lives now... well, let's just say I haven't kept up with the times as much as I should have.  I'm not very comfortable wandering into an airport with all my info on my laptop... a new to me laptop, requiring turning on and connecting up before I can even begin to find the info to tell the counter staff.  Fortunately for me, it was so early there were no line ups and a very nice young woman called me forward, took my passport, and voila!  knew everything about me including my travel plans.  Phew!  It was that easy.  I'm sure she thought I'd only been let out for the day, and had wandered away from my handler... but I escaped before she could call security..and moseyed on my way :-) My first leg was from Reno to Seattle and on that journey I had the pleasure of sitting next to a very nice woman.  She was travelling from Reno to somewhere outside Seattle to see her elderly mom...  We talked, we laughed, and we told stories... we touched on the preciousness of moms and we talked about life... and end of life. We shed some tears and we moved on.  It was a great connection and, what seemed like 5 minutes after leaving Reno, we arrived in Seattle and bade each other farewell and good luck.

My next leg, from Seattle to Victoria, was short and pleasant.  I had the only empty seat on the plane right beside me!  Budget Car Rentals, in the Victoria Airport, were very accommodating as well and, although I had thought I'd have to wait until 1700 for a car, they found one for me after only about 20 minutes.  I won't bore you with the details of this fancy little Ford Focus.. except to say that pushing buttons blindly while you drive isn't perhaps the wisest course of action...  Blasting oneself with full force maximum air conditioning, whilst trying to change radio channels... and driving... well, quite distracting I must admit.

OK, so here's where we're at.  I'm safely ensconced back at home and will have my little 'situation' dealt with tomorrow.  Kathy's in Reno drafting out her driving plan for the next few days...  Our plan is for Kathy to continue 'moving the cargo' south, planning routes that pass by airports...  And, I will meet up with her as soon as I possibly can...hopefully by weeks end.

So, for now... that's our news. Hope all is well with all of you....  enjoy the cool when you can.  Adios for now... CJ