Thursday, September 29, 2016

Talismen, Saints, and Angels...

We have arrived!

Got in yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon. Phew.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

All Tucked in... Yuma, AZ

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

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

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

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

Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE smartphone

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Wind and Weather... and passage planning Apps


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CJ & K

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sent from my iPad

Friday, September 16, 2016

Friday evening - Sept. 16, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buenos noches me amigos y amigas...  CJ

Friday, Sept. 16, 2016

Up 'n attum this morning.... Couple things to do. Received a photo last night... Of SSpirit (still upstanding :-) that shows her GAM antenna (that s the antenna for the SSB radio, that runs up the back stay) hanging over her side and obviously ripped from its moorings. We are blessed in that Portland lies not too far ahead of us AND has one of the few GAM dealers on the western side of the US... AND they have one in stock :-). So guess where we re going first? Also had to fiddle with the dinghy and raise the bow a bit as it was rubbing on Rikki's roof :-(. CJ McGiver on the job! All fixed now :-)

Rikki (dragging his pants a bit due to weight in box) and Lucy are doing well and we re fine... Getting reports of hot, humid, buggie conditions in San Carlos...rats. But maybe they ll be dried up some before we get there...

The day has now become a stop 'n shop day...and Kathy wants to see the Cascade Locks so guess we re not going terribly far today... That s OK though... Life needs to slow down just a tad.

Hope all is well with all of you.... Take good care of each other....

Oh yes, I forgot to tell you our latest small world story. Whilst sitting in the ferry parking lot, waiting for Customs...didn't a lovely silver stream truck and trailer roll by us to park in the adjacent lane. And, didn't my glance become fixed upon the fuzzy noggin of a beautiful silver standard poodle gazing out the truck window. You guessed it... Couldn't help myself. I was out of the cab before they stopped and introduced myself...and asked for a poodle fix. Both Kathy and I had a wonderful meet 'n greet with Stirling and his parents... Beautiful dog and really nice folks. Here comes the small world part. We sat together on the ferry (with Stirling cuz Coho lets you bring your dog up to the people floor) and had a great visit. He is the VP of a work/retirement organization I belong to, and she is a retired nurse. They too love standard poodles. Turns out their last standard was related to our Chelsea.... We think he was one of her two pups. We got to share all kinds of good stories about our lives with our poodles... A great doggie fix for all.

So that's all the news for now... Leaving shortly. Will write again soon. Adios... CJ

Sent from my iPad

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Aaaaaand, we're off !!!!

At least as far as Victoria :-). Thank goodness my sister mentioned traffic problems on the Malahat (Hwy). After confirming the road construction would not end until sometime this morning, we made the (seemed logical given the alternatives) decision to head down the road last night. Kathy phoned and confirmed we were allowed to park over-night in the Coho Ferry parking lot IF we arrived between 1930 and 2000 later.

With that knowledge, and a strong desire to not work till dark (packing clothes, finishing off the truck packing, transferring food from big fridge to little fridge, and general tidying); and then to get about three hours sleep so we could drive glibly south into a quagmire of traffic woes.... We cranked up the pace (as if we could :-) and actually got all that accomplished AND the garage cleared enough to park the car in... AND headed on down the road to Victoria at 1745hrs. Phew.

Had a great drive... Very little traffic traveling south... And arrived 20 minutes early. Walked out for dinner and had a decent nights sleep. (they even left a washroom open for us).. What a difference! Wish we'd known about this option in years past.

Know we are well and finally on our way... Still receiving news from San Carlos about damage in the town and our boats. We received word last night that one of SSpirit's antennas may be damaged but we won't know for sure till we get there.

Hello and thank you to all our cruising friends who have sent us info and photos... Getting actual information is so helpful. Thanks also to folks who have contributed to the donations for the San Carlos Clean Up Team.... your help is very much appreciated.

With that, I'll sign off... It's time to get ready for the Customs check. Hopefully the grumpy fellow is not on duty.... Wishing you all well.. Enjoy the warm fall season... Talk to you again a little further down the road. CJ

Sent from my iPad

Friday, September 9, 2016

SV Shannon's Spirit... is Upstanding !!

😁  Yes, we are pleased to show you photos provided by our friend and electrician Salvadore.  He checked on SSpirit for us this morning and these photos show her standing proudly where we left her. Even her Canadian ensign is still flying....  quite amazing really.

The last photo shows what the boats immediately across from her look like... not pretty and we feel badly for their owners.  Now that we know we still have a boat in Mexico, we are busily continuing the packing of Rikki and prepping of Lucy. Six more sleeps and we'll be on our way..... 

Thank you to all of you who have offered your support to us and to the others we'll be helping when we get down there...  Friends in San Carlos have requested heavy duty trash bags, gardening and work gloves, and rakes... to assist with the clean up of the town itself.  We will carry down whatever we can. 

Bye for now.. will keep you posted.  CJ

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Fwd: Hola from Carolyn

Here are a few more photos.  I need to warn you that exact locations and vessel identities have been the subject of debate since early hours this morning.  It's finally getting sorted out now but not everyone has heard about the status of their boat or property.  There are reports of much flooding of homes and many boats toppled in several different boat yards.  If, indeed, SSpirit is in tact (as has been reported to us)... we are two very lucky ladies.  

By the way, I've just been advised that Blue Water Sailing Magazine has published one of my articles in their August issue.  Still haven't seen it myself but, oddly enough, it's my article titled "Summer Sleeps for Winter Boats" and it's all about putting your baby to bed in a Mexican boat yard.  Now, after a visit from Newton, I must confess... that all the preparation in the world will not deter Mother Nature.  All we can do is our best to stave off her efforts to offend.

Going to take a break now.... back to painting boat parts (steps 'n shelves 'n things like that :-)  7 more sleeps...  😁

Hurricane Newton's visit to Marina Seca San Carlos ...

Hola and gracias to Marya on SV Indigo who has sent us some photos.. three of 'before' Newton, and one of 'after' his 'visit'.  As of half an hour ago, we can tell you that, apparently, SSpirit is still 'upstanding' and has not been damaged.  Several other boats we know have also escaped the unpreventable wrath of this storm.  Others have not fared so well.​ We will, of course, feel much better once we've laid our own eyes upon our dear ship... but until then we must be patient and wait.  

​We feel badly for the residents of San Carlos and Guaymas... our Mexican friends and their families... and we hope they are finding the strength they need to over-come the mess.  there are other photos, of the actual town and shoreline, we will post when and if we can.  suffice to say there is much work to be done to restore this beautiful sea-side village.  We will help where we can once we get there...  Adios for now.

Hurricane Newton...

Man oh man... the season has started with a bang.  A hurricane sized one at that. Yup, Hurricane Newton struck not only Cabo San Lucas, but also La Paz, Puerto Escondido, Loretto, Santa Maria and all the small villages in between.  Then..... he picked up speed and headed across the Sea of Cortez to Guaymas and San Carlos before slowing down a bit and continuing  into southern Arizona and New Mexico.

By now many of you will have had a chance to read up on Hurricane Newton and you have realized that, yes, there has been damage (some of it extensive) to Guaymas and San Carlos as well as their marinas; wet and dry. We, like many other cruisers we know, are sitting on tender hooks waiting to hear anything of our beloved yachts.  Facebook writers have posted photos of boats toppled on top of each other and, with I'm sure the best of intentions, they have attempted to identify the location of those photos...  That being said, the exact locations of the dry storage yards depicted are still under debate and reports of specific damage in specific storage yards is highly suspect with respect to accuracy.

Until we hear from folks we actually know, we remain uncertain as to whether or not our dry storage yard, Marina Seca San Carlos, has sustained the types of damage being reported.  Today, one week before we are scheduled to leave, we wait for news of the condition of SSpirit and other boats belonging to friends and to others in the cruising community.

Thanks for keeping your fingers crossed for SSpirit and her fellow ships as well as for the good people of San Carlos and Guaymas. We pray for them, their families and their homes and hope that all are safe.  Boats can be replaced or repaired... not so much people.

Adios for now... will post an update when we have information we can trust.