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  so it’s a little out of date….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