Thursday, December 28, 2017

Wed. Dec. 27th... (and 28th)

We had heard about the lazy, tropical Tenacatita days... spent languishing in the warm sun, snorkelling, kayaking, swimming from the boat to the beach, walking the long white-sand beach, playing Bocce in the sand between the tide lines, and enjoying cold cervesas and ceviche at the Palapa restaurant... and doing it all in the company of good friends. Yes, we had heard about those days. AND TODAY WE HAD ONE!!! Wow, what a great day!

We did all those things I just described...not quite as gracefully as some. There's nothing like the sight of CJ trying to scramble and flounce herself from the water, up onto the side of the dinghy and then into the dinghy without taking on the blubberous floundering of a beached mammal... to initiate a good laugh all around. And, the swim from ship to shore was more like a long-distance marathon swim, conducted in slow laborious motion.... but we did arrive in time for the stragglers portion of the beach walk...and, needless to say, we did not miss the cervesas.... and we got back in one piece (Kathy on the kayak and CJ in a kind gentleman's dinghy).

And, as the story goes, today (Dec. 28th) was a close repeat of yesterday... with the addition of birthday congratulations for one of the cruisers and a rousing game of Bocce, played by no less than 20 people (10 on each team). I must admit I'm not one of the stars... it takes supreme talent to throw/toss a Bocce ball, downhill on hard sand, praying all the while it will stop before hitting the water. Anyway, I have much to learn on that count. Aim's not too bad... velocity ... an entirely different issue :-)

For now, know we are securely anchored, in the company of cruising friends, enjoying the beauty of Tenacatita. ''Tis true, we couldn't pull ourselves away to stick to the plan of going into the Barra marina on the 28th. Maybe on the 2nd. It's funny, the answer to the cruisers question "so when are you moving on, or back...? Is... "when we run out of food and water". We figure to be in need of fresh sustenance in or around the 2nd... we think :-)

Oh, must go. The BBQ is waiting for it's offering. Hope all is well with each of you and you're having a peaceful and healthy time finishing off 2017. Internet here is intermittent so I don't know when you'll get this. More will follow... sometime.

Adios for now. Or TTFN (Ta Ta For Now). CJ

Posted by: Carolyn (via Kathy's Google mail profile)

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Not a Blog.... but?

Sat. Dec. 23, 2017

OK, so this isn't your usual up to date and timely blog posting. It is, instead, as good as I can produce with no internet for several days. I've started this 'report' on Saturday evening, Dec. 23rd because I just can't help myself. I so wish I could plug each and every one of you into my brain... to see what I see and to feel what I feel... when I gaze out upon the tropical anchorage we have acquired.

Kathy has posted a wonderful piece about our journey down from Banderas Bay to Tenacatita. Considering the various challenges we've faced (mostly equipment failures and maintenance) we are delighted to be here.... finally. We are so pleased in fact, that we have declined the opportunity to continue on into Barra de Navidad for the annual cruisers potluck Christmas dinner. Yup, 85 of our cruising friends (old, new, and not made yet).

Ooo. News break, news break: just received a wonderful, loving message from Marg (Kathy's mom) over the SSB. Thanks Marg. Our weather is good and we're catching up our rest AND Kathy has fixed our electrical problem.

Oh, and I have to tell you... we have a little Christmas wreath hanging in the cabin, on the mast. We purchased it from an older Mexican woman in La Cruz. It's kind of nice, and it sparkles reflections when hit by certain light. We will be mounting our Christmas cards all around it on the mast when we open them.

OK, back to my, where was I? Oh yes, as I mentioned we decided not to continue on to Barra de Navidad for the Christmas potluck dinner; for several reasons. Firstly, we were exhausted when we arrived and all too happy to sink our hook into the bottom of Bahia Tenacatita. Secondly, before leaving La Cruz we heard about a southerly weather system due in this area around the 28th. We thought being securely tied into a beautiful marina at the entrance to Barra by then sounded pretty good, so we made reservations. That being said, whether we head there on the 27th or 28th (so we can see some of our friends returning to Tenacatita after Christmas dinner before we leave) remains to be seen.

For now, we are content to enjoy this beautiful anchorage... quite beautiful, with only 5 other boats anchored around us, and the gentle purr of the surf as it rolls up onto the nearby beach. Picture that, if you can, and then add Frigate birds wheeling overhead as they scout for fish filets.

I must go now, but will return to this posting tomorrow. Oh did I mention? The water is at least 85 and we ve been jumping in every couple hours.... fantastic !!

Tuesday, Dec. 26th. Well, what a Christmas Day we had yesterday. We awoke to be one of three boats in the anchorage and had a lovely, peaceful morning. Then, to our delight, about 1030 hrs. in came SV Ponga... friends of ours who had been in Barra but then decided to play hooky and join us back in Tenacatita. By 1330 we had been for a swim off the boat (it's like swimming in your bathtub.... delightfully warm) and visiting on Ponga with two other couples.

Today was a page out of the 'book of dreams'. After a little work on the reefing system, I accepted a ride into the beach (still not feeling too great about braving breaking surf... either as a swimmer or a kayaker) and Kathy rode the waves into the beach. There we enjoyed the company of other cruisers, played some Bocce in the sand, enjoyed cerviche and cold cervesas, and generally relaxed in the tropical atmosphere of Bahia Tenacatita. Tomorrow we hope to do some snorkelling, exploring by dinghy and More swimming. There is nothing quite like being able to jump into the water off your boat, at a moments notice, and land in warm water... ahh.... we are so spoiled.

This is getting kind of,long, somwill,try to send it along. Hope all is well with each of you and you are resting comfortably after a spendiferous Christmas Day.


Posted by: Carolyn (via Kathy's Google mail profile)

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Hello from Bahia Tenacatita

Hi everyone, (Kathy here)

Just wanted to share this thought with you... many years ago (1999) Carolyn & I joined Blue Water Cruising and thus began our dream about the possibilities of sailing in Mexico. The thoughts of bobbing at anchor off a long white sandy beach, palm trees dotting the shoreline, palapa restaurants ashore offering cold cervezas and diving off the boat into lovely warm salty water prompted us to begin our preparations for what has become a multi-year sailing adventure.

Well, yesterday we arrived at one of the ultimate cruiser's Mexican winter playgrounds and were greeted by several dear cruising friends who came over by dinghy to welcome us with hugs and congratulations. Not every cruiser chooses to take on this section of coastline to make the journey south to Bahia Tenacatita. In 2011, when we sailed Shannon down the Pacific coast of North America, we were challenged by several natural landmarks. Safely rounding the major Capes of Washington, Oregon and California (Flattery, Conception, Blanco & Mendocino) requires careful route planning and close attention to the weather. Rounding Mexico's Cabo Corrientes is no less daunting.

During our last week before leaving the dock in La Cruz, we paid close attention to the wind and sea state forecasts provided by a variety of online marine weather sites. After a final consult with our best local weather resource (Mike from PV Sailing), we untied our docklines at noon on the 20th and spent the afternoon sailing across Banderas Bay. The time of our leaving and our cruising speed had been carefully calculated to see us rounding (the dreaded) Cabo Corrientes at sunset, when the afternoon Banderas Bay winds have typically died down and the seas are generally at their calmest.

Once we got there, we still had a nice 10-15 knot steady breeze and the seas were rolly and confused (as expected), but manageable. As we made our turn to head south, the wind and swells were behind us, so we reefed our main, partially furled our jib and hung on. This was a challenging leg, as our autohelm could not handle these conditions, so we took turns hand steering for the next 10 hours.

Throughout the night, we could see several other sailboats on our radar and AIS display. Presumably, they were as busy as we were, so there was little time for chitchat on the radio, but knowing that they were there was reassuring. Our route was planned for 5 miles off the coast as this was reported to keep us outside the local shrimpers and fishing pangas with their dangerous long lines. We could see their lights against the shoreline in the distance as we went by and kept careful watch on the radar for any that might have ventured out further. On AIS, we could see the cargo ships 20 miles out, on their way from Manzanillo to/from Ensenada, or La Paz, or Guaymas. So, as with our voyage down the U.S. coast, we had found our "middle route". It was a long night, but we were secure in the knowledge that we had done our research and made the best plan for us.

As the dawn began to slowly brighten the eastern sky, we were tired, but happy to know that we were at the halfway point. At 10 am, we adjusted our course to bring us gradually closer in to the coast. Shortly after noon, we were closing in to our waypoint which marked the approach to Bahia Tennacatita. As we rounded the rocks at the entrance to the bay, and made our preparations for anchoring, we heard a familiar voice calling Shannon Spirit on the VHF radio. Jane & Jeff (SV Adagio) are at anchor in nearby Barra de Navidad, enjoying the town and waiting for the annual cruiser's Christmas celebration. Jane had heard from our friends Marty & Murray (SV Ponga) that we were arriving soon and Jane was calling to see where we were.

82 people are signed up for the pot luck dinner and many games are planned. We've decided to pass on the party and are very happy to just settle in here and explore Tenacatita and wait for the group to return.

We are anchored in sand in 20 feet with great protection from the prevailing north winds. The water is so clear that we can see the bottom. 17 boats were here when we dropped anchor and several friends came along by dinghy to welcome us. On the VHF we heard Robert on SV Harmony of Alameda (the "Mayor of Tenacatita") announce the weekly "Dinghy Raftup" was to commence at 5:00 pm. Brett & Marna (SV Liahona) stopped by to offer that we join them in their dinghy (so we wouldn't have to drop ours and mount the outboard). While we were both exhausted, we knew this was an event that we didn't want to miss. We cleaned up the disarray left over from our 26 hour passage, had our traditional "landing rums", prepared our happy hour contribution and got into our bathing suits to have a much needed swim. We were hot and sweaty and the water was wonderfully refreshing. It was warm and clean and so salty that we floated easily. Afterwards, we put on clean clothes, were picked up by Brett & Marna and off we went to the Mayor's Raft Up. Robert and Virginia had arrived first and set an anchor from their dinghy. The other dinghies joined them in a circle by tying a line to theirs. There were about 10 dinghies in all and each contributed plates of delicious food which we passed around the circle. We reconnected with old friends and met new ones. Robert welcomed us all and congratulated everyone on accomplishing their goal of rounding Corrientes to make their way down to this piece of paradise. He asked us all to introduce ourselves and share a story of a Christmas memory. It was interesting to hear a bit of these people's lives. Many different adventures, lots of laughter and a few toasts to those who are no longer with us.

Quite a few boats left this morning for Barra de Navidad, but six of us are still here. We are looking forward to getting the kayak and dinghy into the water and spending several quiet days swimming, snorkeling, reading and walking the beach. It's time for some peaceful days at anchor in that beautiful tropical bay that we dreamed of all those years ago.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, wherever you are planning to spend it, and all the best in the year ahead. May your seas be calm and the wind in your sails be only as much as your desire.

Kathy & CJ
Shannon's Spirit

Posted by: Carolyn (via Kathy's Google mail profile)

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Boats dancing...

I'm sitting quietly, in the cockpit. Dinner is done and dark has fallen. The boats... well, they surge (gently tonight) back and forth on their lines. Some are heavier...move more slowly but with more power. They risk their cleats. Others, less heavy, dance lightly but with energy. They all move. It s a dance they do... and, while we sit secure but dancing... I can t help but compare.

At anchor, we dance as well. It's different though; we dance with each other. It's a constant movement around the anchor and in sinc (sort of) with others anchored near by.

We've just had a marvellous dinner. Kathy came home with a chunk of Ahi tuna fresh off the boat. Needless to say the first course was sashimi... followed by seared Ahi tuna and kale salad. Not bad hey... for a sailboat in Mexico. Combined with a glass of chilled white wine... well... it was awesome. We are two very lucky gals.

We ve had a good day... getting excited about leaving/moving on. The future awaits us.
Tomorrow will be a full day; getting our refrigeration recharged (fingers crossed that's all, it needs), topping up the water tanks, stripping off the tarps, readying the sails and stocking the cupboards... and saying goodbye for now to all our friends here.

Yes, we actually may have a window for leaving... If it comes to be, we will slip mid-day on Thursday and be in Tenacatita mid-day Friday. Keep your fingers crossed for us... thanks. Will let you know when we're sure we're on our way.

OK, have to go now. Kathy's just put some old Christmas songs on... I must go and sing (haha... do not be afraid).

Talk again soon. CJ

Posted by: Carolyn (via Kathy's Google mail profile)

Monday, December 18, 2017

The puzzling situation was solved...

Thank you everyone for your wonderful suggestions as to what was troubling our PSS dripless shaft seal.  I panicked a little bit when I saw it; had visions of having to pull the boat out in PV (can you say ching-ching)?  Then I smartened up a little bit, contacted the manufacturer and sent them the photo.

I asked what they thought... before I emptied out the entire aft cabin so as to get at the little darling physically.  They had no idea.  So, I continued moving the cabin contents.  I was afraid that somehow the carbon whatchamacallit was fraying because of a poor installation or something... which, of course, would require hauling the boat and reinstalling, or worse.

Anyway, I finally got to the little devil and reached out with a finger to touch one of the spikes... and, are you ready??  They all dissolved.  The spikes were very fragile, crystal like, spikes of salt... formed I guess from the very fine moisture related to running hot and humid for 33 hours.  They dissolved; I washed the area,and it all looks good as almost new. Phew!

We had some great responses about the photo and the question.  The best one had us giggling enough I thought I'd like to share it with you.  Thank you Murray and Marty and, yes, we'll see you in Tenacatita as soon as the next weather window for rounding Corrientes opens up for us.  So now, for your reading pleasure, is an accounting of one situation that could explain the strange appearance of our PSS.

"Oh my God!  You have the deadly shaft seal worms.  Those little devils can sneak through the tiniest cracks and totally invade all your cracks and crannies, all the while spreading a sticky slime over everything they touch.  Shaft seal worms have been known to crawl into crew's bunks and once warmed to body temperature, they crawl into the crew person through any orifice and over take their soul.

Once a crew person has become invaded by these wormy creatures they will start acting differently than normal.. An affected crew person may start enjoying being away from marinas, anchoring in quiet bays, swimming in 30 degree water and playing bocce ball on the beach.

I hope the worm gets you and we see you in Tenacatita soon."  (Courtesy M&M)

We are now free of all creatures that we know of and enjoying the town of La Cruz.  Getting around Cabo Corrientes can be a challenge due to high winds and waves... and so we wait... until the conditions match our skills (or at least won't challenge them too much).  After all, we're not still doing this to prove we can, we're here to enjoy the experience. And, there are a lot worse places to wait for the weather to improve (we're in the midst of a series of rain and wind events) than the lovely little town of La Cruz.

In case you're wondering where that is, it's on the northern shores of Banderas Bay, north of Bucerius and Puerto Vallarta.  Our journey will take us around the point of Corrientes on the way south, and then down the coast to Chamela, Tenacatita and Barra de Navidad.

That's all for now.  Hope you're ready for Christmas and enjoying every day.  And, beware of contact with shaft seal worms... unless, of course, you WANT to be driven mad and take up beach walking, bocce in sand, swimming ashore without spilling your margueritas and other sundry challenges.

Adios for now me amigas y amigos.  CJ

Posted by: Carolyn (via Kathy's Google mail profile)

Friday, December 15, 2017

PSS Seal mystery question...

OK all you experienced and knowledgeable boaters.... here's a question for you. Don't worry, we're not sinking and I already know the answer. But, I thought you might enjoy a little brain teaser.

The question is... "If you were busily checking your engine fluids (as I was, especially since our last run was 33 hot and humid hours long)... and you happened to glance back towards your one year old PSS dripless shaft seal (as I did)... and you saw it looking like the photo below.... would you immediately panic and haul the boat or would you figure out what it/they were???" All guesses welcome. Answer will follow a few days. :-). CJ

Posted by: Carolyn (via Kathy's Google mail profile)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

La Cruz at last....

We made it!! We have arrived at La Cruz, one of our favourite stops thus far.

We slipped Mazatlan at 0800 hrs on Sunday morning as planned, along with friends Dick and Anne on Full and Bye. Both boats decided (well actually their people did) to forgo trying to stop at Isla Isabel this time as the weather forecasts were too flukey. So, instead, we decided to run down the west side of Isabel, staying off about 8 miles so as to avoid the dastardly fish nets. Yes the Mexican "long lines" are the stuff of nightmares, I kid you not.

We did well. Unfortunately the winds were on the nose so sailing had to wait as we motored sedately all day long and into the night. The night run was peaceful as well... designed it turned out, to lull us into a sense of security for, as the dark skies paled and the rose coloured clouds announced the imminent arrival of the morning sun, it turned out ours was a false sense of security... sigh.

Shortly after 0700, while we were quietly motoring along having safely passed Isla Isabel without hitting any nets, I saw something large and black in the distance. At first I thought it was a whales tail, but then I realized he'd have to be standing on his head to have his tail up for so long.... I called Kathy up and we both agreed it had to be a black flag. This was fairly upsetting... as we were about 30 miles south of Isabel and should have been clear of all nets.

These nets are set by the Mexican fishermen. They set them day and night wherever they please. They're not supposed to as they are terribly destructive to the environment (never mind passing ships who get caught up in them). Anyway, without going on too long about it, suffice to say we think we must have set some kind of record for the number of long lines one boat should have to deal with. We came upon no less that EIGHT.

Even on a perfect day, with calmish seas, they are hard to see. One must stare at the water constantly... in all directions... looking for flags or floats or coke bottles or pale green plastic bottles (some are yellow and some are even clear)... and they're all connected by thin, yellow propylene line... AND they can be hundreds of feet long... or miles and miles long. There are no rules. Once you see one of these 'floats' you must then look for the next one and the one after that and so on. We've given up trying to follow the line to the end... they are way too long. Once, while trying to do that, we actually came to a corner!

Anyway, seems there are two main ways to get through these things. The first (and kindest) is to find the fisherman in his panga. If you can find him, he will help you through. Unfortunately many fishermen don't tend their nets. They just lay them out (day or night) and then take off until the next day when they come back to check them.

We did pretty well. We managed to find three pangas and three times we were escorted through the lines. The others? Well, we were forced to cut our way through. This required sharp eyes, quick work with a boat hook on the bow and some challenging skills at the helm. It was 1430 hrs. in the afternoon before we were through our eighth, and last, net of the day. We arrived at La Cruze just over two hours later.... exasperated with Mexican fishing methods, sun burned, exhausted, dehydrated, and 15 minutes later than our predicted time of 33 hours :-)

And here we are, the next day... rested, showered, meeting up with old friends and enjoying beautiful La Cruz. A small price to pay for the opportunities to be enjoyed... wouldn't you agree?

Hope your lines are shorter than ours, and your fishermen friendly. Take good care and enjoy every day. Adios for now... CJ

Oh yes, the photo looks a little cluttered but it's really not. It's a beautiful marina.. I'll send more photos later.

Posted by: Carolyn (via Kathy's Google mail profile)

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Still hangin’ in Mazatlan...

 Yup, we re still here... Remember that saying, about "making your sailing plans in sand, below the high water mark"? That's cuz Mother Nature changes her mind way too often and can thwart even the best organized and researched plans. Having waited two extra weeks for a new exhaust hose, we are now pretty much ready to go and were planning on leaving this Saturday. All is ready. The larder is full, the freezer is doing it's job and we just have to top up the water tanks... BUT, MNature has another plan for us. She is reinforcing her reign over the winds of the Sea and showing us how she can manipulate them to her heart's content.

 I'm sure you've been reading about the wild fires in California and the poor folks who are being driven from their homes. Well, those same Santa Anna winds are the ones that head south into the Sea of Cortez... and we call them "Northers" because they scream down from the North. As of late yesterday afternoon... they are upon us. They whistled through the rigging all night and, as of now, are casting large seas with only 5 second breaks between them at the shoreline. They're expected to continue for at least two days and the automated weather forecast videos show some of them roaring off the land from the east, joining up with those from the north, and literally turning southbound to join forces.

 The good news is the projections show them slowing down a bit and we may be able to get away on Sunday. Vague plan is to head for Isla Isabel just in case there actually might be a window for us to stop this year. We've tried three times to visit this Island nick-named "The Galapagos of the Sea". It has two large rookeries.. one Frigate birds and the other Blue Footed Boobies and it's one of those places you just have to see. We shall try one more time. The weather has to be quite benign and the anchorage spots are limited... so we shall see. Either way, we'll then carry on south to Chacala or Mantanchen Bay, with the next stop being our current destination of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle (commonly called La Cruz by those of us who can't spell). We really like La Cruz. It's a small, friendly town with great restaurants, live music, and the best Sunday market anywhere.

 So for now we wait, and continue preparing to leave... while we watch the weather patterns develop and dissipate and develop again. Oh well, there are far worse places to be 'stuck' than Mazatlan. We'll continue south when it's the right time to do so.

 Hope all is well with everyone of you... Oh yes, just the first reminder: Once we leave the dock, and are at sea or anchored off small Islands and fishing villages, we will not have Internet. That being said we'll be able to stay in touch with short Blog messages over the SSB Radio. For those of you who receive our Blog postings via email... please remember... DO NOT hit "reply" to send us a return message. The SSB Radio can be used to receive and send out short messages. Returning your message along with the Blog posting will clog/back up/ render very difficult/ our SSB Radio System. If you need or wish to contact us by email, please send a separate email message to one of us. We'll get it when we are able.

 So for now.... adios. Hope all is well with each of you.... we'll be here, at lovely El Cid Resort in Mazatlan, until we leave. And we're available via normal email until we tell you we've left. Take good care.. will talk again soon.

 The photo was taken by our friends Barb and Jim, folks we met at our favourite Bungalows and have known for several years now. As you can see, we're doing fine.


PS: Update... well the plans are made. We're checked out of the marina and hittin' the road (er swells) tomorrow morning 0800. All going well, we'll head all the way to La Cruz. Will be in touch. Adios for now. CJ and K

Posted by: Carolyn (via Kathy's Google mail profile)

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Slight delay...

Howdy folks, all is well here.... just thought it'd be a good idea to let you know our departure from Mazatlan will be slightly delayed. Nothing new for Mexico... we're just waiting for some parts. One, not so serious, is an in-line check valve for the refrigerator drain. The other (won't leave home without it) is a replacement exhaust hose for the engine. Luckily Rafa (our mechanic) spotted the beginnings of a crack in our exhaust hose... and that is not a good thing. Between exhaust into the cabin and water into the boat... not a good thing to leave unattended. And so we wait.

With luck the hose will arrive by the weekend and be installed on Monday... fingers crossed we'll be on our way after that. Will let you know.

Some good news... our little outboard was acting up and, this morning, two cruising buddies put their heads together and showed us how to clear the carburetor. Seems ok now.

Hope all is well with each of you... and the rain is not washing away your gardens...

Ttfn. (Tatafornow). CJ

Sent from my iPad

Friday, November 24, 2017

Gary's tarp

Every so often in life one receives a gift from a friend that just keeps giving over the years.
Such is the gift we received from Gary many years ago.  

He created a square sunbrella tarp with seams and grommets and a loop in the middle for us; and that gift has proven to be a good friend indeed.  It shields our forward bunk from the heavy dew at night, it protects the forward cabin from the torturous heat of the sun by day, and it creates a wind funnel to direct the breeze into the open hatch and through the boat. This magnificent cultured piece of cloth can also double as a portable shade cloth for the cockpit. It could be shaped to gather rain water, and it can be wrapped around something needing to be carried any length of distance.

So thank you Gary for your gift of time and skill and the creation of this terrific piece of ship's equipment. It's holding up well and has earned a permanent place in the ship's critical inventory.

Muchas gracias me amigo.

Posted by: Carolyn (via Kathy's Google mail profile)

Sunday, November 19, 2017

El Cid Marina, aaaah

Hola amigos y amigas... yes, we have moved. As much as we like Marina Mazatlan, the construction, the dust, the extremely loud restaurant music, the lack of a breeze, and the lack of shore-side 'facilities' as a result of the construction... have forced us to look to El Cid for rescue. And, as you already know, we love El Cid. While the music can be loud, the beautifully landscaped grounds, pools and restaurants, and friendly staff.. make up for it. So, SSpirit rests comfortably between two friends (Cuba Libre and Full and By) on B dock. It s not quite the same without Dolphin Tales being here (they went home last year) but we'll get by :-)

Life in Mazatlan hasn't changed too much. Pedestrians are still mistaken for red cones on a driver training range (to be used as pylons for interpretive driving practise) and traffic control lights...aren't. If I hadn't been told that flies spit when they land on something (thanks Dennis :-) I might have been able to get used to them. But now... well that's what I think of when I see them settling on the rim of my glass. I'm sure I'll get over it... I hope.

And/but, the people are still delightful. It's pretty neat to actually be remembered by folks... and they're still smiling at us and glad to see us. The sun is shining (a lot) the birds are singing and the flowers are in bloom. They say the humidity should calm down soon (I can only hope...).

That's all for today. Know we are well and moored in a good place amongst friends. We hope all is well with each of you... adios for now. CJ

Posted by: Carolyn (via Kathy's Google mail profile)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Wed. Nov. 15th 80 degrees 93% humidity... at 0930

We had a great day today. Up, relatively early, and at the boat by 0803 (just in time for the morning radio net). We worked through the morning... Rafa (our favourite Mazatlan mechanic) arrived at 0930 to service the engine. That went well, even though he discovered the start of a crack in our exhaust hose (which I would have likely missed on my own). The replacement hose is now on order. I really like Rafa. He's not only a good mechanic (studied four years in the US), but he also speaks more English than I speak Spanish, he doesn't mind answering my questions, and he even laughs at my sense of humour. So engine is ready (hose is on order) and we're good to leave the dock on Saturday early o'clock... and move all the way up to Marina El Cid πŸ™‚.

We dragged ourselves through the heat-induced haze of mid-afternoon and then took the 'White' bus (more about that another time) back to the bungalow, where we cooled down and cleaned up. What I want to tell you about is our evening.

After cooling down as much as possible, we dressed (as well as you can having brought very few clothes cuz the majority are still squished into blue bins on the boat, waiting to be unleashed and stowed properly). Then we donned beach-walking sandals and wandered down the beach, into the setting sun, to Tony's restaurant. We have been here each time we've visited Mazatlan and had time to do so. Today was our third visit. There are three Tony's there... but papa Tony (our server) is our favourite and why we keep coming back... well, that and the delicious mango prawns, oh, and the 3/4 price margueritas, and... after a scrumptious meal.. tonight, Tony brought us each a Bailey's and cream -on the house. It was a wonderful meal, made all the more enjoyable by the scene unfolding before us as we watched the sun sink over the nearby island.

The table we chose was right up at the shore-side wall and enjoyed an unobstructed view of the water, horizon and nearby islands. Sue and John, if you're reading this, the location is just south of where we came into Maz after crossing from La Paz. You'll also remember the fish boats... the shrimpers. Well, as we sat watching the sun sink below the horizon, we watched two shrimpers, all lit up, making their way along the shore and into the deeper waters just north of us. I couldn't help remembering the morning we approached Mazatlan, after a 48 hour crossing from the Baja. We were all up for the arrival, particularly given the 'more than 12' shrimpers we had to approach and meander our way through to reach our destination. By day they are typical, rusty-looking, rattle trap fish boats. By night, they became mystical creatures worthy of a spooky Walt Disney film.. lit up with draping film over extending arms... moving slowly, yet erratically, and often crossing our path without warning. We made it through and arrived at Mazatlan safely. Tonight we enjoyed both the view and the memories.

I hope your view and your memories are warming you tonight. Stay well... and live every day.

Adios for now. CJ

Posted by: Carolyn (via Kathy's Google mail profile)

Monday, November 13, 2017

Safely settled in Mazatlan

Hallelujah, we are here! Indeed... It actually feels kind of strange; first time (ever) that we have started our season by flying down. Five hours flight vs. two week drive. There are definitely differences, some good and some less good :-). For instance, we left in 5 degrees and arrived in 32 degrees with 75% humidity. Now that doesn't sound too bad, given all of our previous experiences arriving in early October. BUT without the two weeks of warming our blood up and getting used to warmer temps.... it knocked the stuffing right out of our legs.. or almost.

Suffice to say we are here, have arrived safely, cleared Customs without a hitch (yes, those magical lists of contents managed to assuage the Customs Officer's worst fears and, after a cursory paw-through the first box contents and CJ's running commentary about Canadiense Valero .. all going back to Canada, personal clothing, basic maintenance... etc) he waved the rest of our luggage through and we were officially welcomed to Mexico.

We were well received at the Mar Sol Bungalows, our home for the first week (at least where we will rest our heads at the end of each sufferingly hot day). They are a short, jouncey (that must be a word) 11peso bus ride to the Marina entrance, and they are across the street from the Pueblo Bonito Hotel which has a nice, walkable beach.. in case it cools down enough to actually want to walk along hot sand. For now we must reserve the early, and cooler, hours for getting to the boat and getting some work done before the heat slows us down to a snails pace.

As for SSpirit? She s doing great so far. Beto had cleaned her off and waxed and polished Hull, decks and stainless steel... saving us a week of labour and it was very nice arriving to a boat all uncovered and cleaned up. Unfortunately the marina's washroom facilities are still under renovation and won t be ready any time soon. Just a little more motivation to tidy things up and move out to Marina El Cid before taking off. We hope to set that up and be ready for Friday.

For now, we slather sunscreen, sweat a lot, drink a lot of water, and carry on. No problemo :-)

We also hope all is well with each of you. Stay warm and cozy... adios for now. CJ

Posted by: Carolyn (via Kathy's Google mail profile)

Thursday, November 9, 2017

It's time...

How does the song go?  "Our bags are packed, we're ready to go..."  Wow. Here it is early o'clock on the day we're leaving (cooling rapidly) BC and heading south to (really hot) Mazalan. Yet another whirlwind has whisked us through our summer months at home. This year we had two months longer than normal which was fantastic. We've had more time to see to home projects, visit with friends and family, and generally relax into a more domestic scene. Heck, we even had time to take in a movie and go for a few hikes. Kathy and our friend Holly actually took on a section of the Juan de Fuca trail and there's talk of doing more next year. For those of you who are wondering, I can assure you almost every spare hour was spent on a little project about the history of women in the VPD. Yes, I'm pleased to report there is an end in sight.

Before I go further, let me take a moment to ask you to pause... and to think about the service our First Responders provide us.  Men and women who, without hesitation, step forward to protect us and to help provide us with a better world to live in.  They go to work every day... every day, knowing they may not come home at the end of their shift.  We all watch TV and we all watch the 'doings' south of our border and in the rest of the world... and, I think, we become somewhat numb to the horrors of the violence our species can unleash. But that doesn't make it right, and it doesn't make it OK.  There is no place for violence in our world and we must never step back from the challenge of defining it and ending it.  Members of the law enforcement family lost a brother this week.  Constable John Davidson of the Abbotsford Police Department was a long serving police officer both here and in the UK.  He was married and raised a family while serving his communities.  He was loved by all who knew him.  He was a good man and he did not deserve to have the rest of his life snatched away from him.  Law enforcement officers in BC and across Canada, are in a state of shock and steeped in grief. This kind of violence is not supposed to happen in Canada and even though we train for it every day... John's death has rocked the policing family to it's very roots.  Our serving members will recover; they always do.  But the scars from this week will not fade, nor will the resolve to continue to serve and to continue to protect you and I from violent and mentally unbalanced human beings who live within our communities.  Please remember John Davidson and his family in your prayers.  And please be safe out there.

We lock the door and walk away from our home this morning, and we head to Sidney where my sister will be putting up with us... er I mean putting us up... for the afternoon and over-night. Then, at sparrow-fart, early o'clock, whatever you want to call it, we'll be up, coffee'd and out the door to a large taxi (yes we have a lot of gear; two suitcases, two carry-ons and two rather large cardboard boxes filled with... stuff for the boat of course).  Our flight leaves at 0630 and takes us all the way to Vancouver where we switch planes and head south directly to Maz.  We'll be bunking in to our favourite bungalows a few blocks from the marina.  We'll be down to the boat on Saturday morning, bright and early (before the temperature soars to 90) to open up SSpirit and see how she's doing.  We'll let you know what we find.

For now, know we are packed and ready; just have to water the plants and disconnect the car battery. Poor Rikki and Lucy sit in the driveway shivering.. wondering why on earth they aren't already in Yuma like previous years. And, yes, I admit it.  We're looking forward to our winter in the Sea.  We have big plans for all the places and people we hope to see. But, as always, we acknowledge our plans are still ... written in sand, below high water mark... we will see what we will see.

We were able to catch up with quite a few folks this summer.  For those of you we missed, please know we were thinking of you.. just ran out of time.  Our thoughts are also with our friends and their friends who were victims of the terrible forest fires this past year.  And, we are also growing more and more concerned about the state of our oceans, particularly our own Georgia Straight and our resident Orca population.  I'll write more about that later.

We hope you are all well, safe and warm.  Take good care.  I'll write again once we're in Mazatlan and settled in.  Adios for now me amigas y amigos.     CJ

Posted by: Carolyn (via Kathy's Google mail profile)

Monday, October 9, 2017

Welllll, here we are... October 9th, 2017.  How is it that, as we get older, the years fly by faster?  It'd be fair to say, I've never experienced this kind of time-travel before!  But, none-the-less and n'er the more... here we are.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING everyone.  We truly hope all your dreams are coming true (or at least taking shape), that all your wishes DO come true, and that you are able to keep living each day as the new marvel it is.

We, Kathy and I, have had a wonderful summer... filled with friends, old and new, and time to visit family.  The extra two months have really helped us to better enjoy our new home and the wonderful location we chose to set down our roots.  We are, of course, now in the planning stages for our return to Mexico.  It will be different... this year being our last season in the Sea.  And/but we will do the best we can to enjoy every minute, before returning our little ship home on a freighter... sometime early next summer.

As well....  having finished 'the fence'.... 'the book' is finally taking shape.  Women in Blue is actually starting to look like something a reader, or lover of history, or supporter of women in policing.. might actually like to read one day.  Stay tuned for more on that front.

For now, know we are thinking of you and all the folks in our life.. and wishing you the very best on this Monday, Oct. 9th, our Canadian Thanksgiving Day.

We will check in again once we're closer to arriving in Mexico.. let you know how the airplane trip (with two duffle bags, two computer bags, and two cardboard boxes :-) went.  SSpirit is apparently well and waiting patiently for our return.

Bye for now.. enjoy your turkey dinner... and stay well.

CJ and Kathy

Monday, July 31, 2017

Half way through the summer already... yikes!!

​Why is it that, even though the tudu list gets shorter... the days don't get any longer, at least with time for play?  ​I guess the alternative (death by boredom) isn't so pleasant. In fact the days are racing by and it's hard to believe tomorrow is August 1st.  Yikes!  

The neat thing for us is that, for the first time since 2011
we aren't already engaged in planning a September departure to begin our drive south.  Oh yes, we're still going.. but things are different this year. We have made that 'hard' decision to bring SSpirit (SV Shannon's Spirit) home next summer, after one final season in the Sea of Cortez. It's been difficult to figure out exactly when to come home. As Kathy pointed out a few days ago, if we'd done what so many others did... and headed out into the South Pacific after arriving in Mexico... we'd have been home two years ago. Instead, we stalled in the Sea and have enjoyed every opportunity possible to explore her beautiful shoreline
and people.  But now, realizing there will never be a day we can say "
k, enough, we've seen it all... time to go home", we have decided it is indeed time to head ourselves back to the sailing grounds of beautiful British Columbia... while they still exist and we're still young enough to enjoy adventures here. What this means is that we'll be flying down this year (carting the gear we think we need with us) directly to Mazatlan and SSpirit; 5 or so hours vs. 14 days....  quite a difference.  And, we won't be leaving until the first week of November.. another huge change.  We have, in fact, two full months longer here at home... and it's been pretty nice to know that; more relaxing having time with family, friends, and home-based adventures... something I confess we had been missing.  Our cruising plans for this final season include sailing south down the mainland coast, as far as we can for Christmas, and then heading back north and across to La Paz.  We'll spend the early spring months up in the Baja, gunkholing amongst the beautifu
anchorages there and then we'll return to La Paz for preparation to ship SSpirit home. All plans written, of course, below high water and in the sand.

Here at home, our hearts go out to our friends, and their friends, caught up with the BC wild fires; absolutely horrible, desvastating and terrifying. We've been in contact with many and they seem to be coping, although the threats continue and will do so for some time yet.  It's not even August (until tomorrow).  We all have our fingers crossed for their personal safety and their homes.

For those of you who have been wondering how the fence project is going...
​it's finally done and​
we've enclosed a couple photos.  I must say the learning curve was pretty steep and the hours (spread over 2 1/2 months) seemed pretty long, but it's very satisfying to look outside and see the fence upright and lookin' good.  Sure there are a few warts, and I know where they are :-) but over-all we're very content with the results of our labour.

So finally, I just wanted to check in and say howdy... to all of you who follow our (mostly winter months) Blog and thank you for doing so.  As a bit of a writer (yes, I do have a couple projects underway) it's always heart-warming to know your work is enjoyed by readers... so thanks for being there.

We hope you are enjoying this summer... with your friends and family, and that all is well with each of you.  Take good care.  We'll write again when there's something to say.. likely towards the time we're heading south.
​  Adios amigos y amigas.... until we write again.  CJ​

Posted by: Carolyn (via Kathy's Google mail profile)

Friday, June 9, 2017

A cruisers holiday...

​Now you may wonder what cruisers do when they're not cruising....  Well, first they get home one way or another.  We have, for six years, been driving.  A delightful, adventuresome, ​sometimes exciting, always challenging... way to travel from Mexico, through the US (aka tr__p (dare I say the word) ville) and back into Canada.

BUT, what do we do when we're not outfitting, refitting and over-fitting, our little boats?  What do we do to fill that time between Nirvana and preparing for Nirvana?  Well....  take a look.  Yup, we're building a fence.  Not just any fence, but a 6', yellow cedar fence... enough fence to keep the deer, the rabbits, the dogs, the kids (well, you know....), and any other creature not properly invited... out.  Oh, and it's replacing the falling down edition that was ready for retirement.

For now; we build.  In a month; we celebrate.  I must say though, building this fence is kind of a zen like experience.  Because of the never-ending slope to the back yard... one must first measure, then cut (chop-saw queen here), then place, make perfectly perpendicular using the level (that's a Capricorn thing), then measure and mark for drilling, then drill, then screw.... then repeat, and repeat, and repeat.  As in the Amazing Race... once we've "completed this task 457 times" we will have a new fence.  

As well..... we are really enjoying being home.  Time with family, time with friends.. and time for other projects...  yup,  we're likin' it :-)

Hope you are having a good early summer too.  And, hope your fences are all standing.  CJ

Posted by: Carolyn (via Kathy's Google mail profile)

Monday, April 17, 2017

Home in lovely Maple Bay....

Just a quick note to let you know we are safely ensconced in our Maple Bay home. We were up as planned (at 0430 hrs) and slipped the tethers at 0600. Made the Coho Ferry with no problems and arrived in Victoria on time. Pleasant encounter with officialdom and we were on our way. TT Lucy is now tucked up in her driveway with Rikki watching over her. Tanks are flushed, gear has been transferred to the house, and we are happy to be home. The house and grounds have done well under the watchful eye of our home-keeper and we now join the rest of you in the rush to control Mother Natures energetic sprinkling of every kind of weed seed she can find :-). Oh well, it is good to be home and close to our family and dear friends.... all of whom we look forward to seeing real soon!

So dear friends, we close down another season of "sailing in the Sea". This one was very special. We actually made it off the dock, to some wonderful Baja anchorages, and shared time with dear friends Sue and John on board. SSpirit rests peacefully at her slip in Marina Mazatlan. She will be cared for by folks there who do that for a living and have done so for us in the past. We will return to her next fall, by airplane this time, and continue our exploration of the Mexican coast. Until then we will enjoy spending time in our new home and gardens, and with close friends and family.

We wish all of you a pleasing and enjoyable spring and summer. May your flowers grow where you planted them... or at least somewhere near, and may your summer be filled with fun times with friends and loved ones. Have a great year... CJ and K

Sent from my iPad

Posted by: Carolyn (via Kathy's Google mail profile)

Friday, April 14, 2017

Driving into Spring...

It's hard to believe that, only a very few days ago, we were driving through barren, dry, and hot desert; certain we would have perished if not for Rikki's trusty air conditioner. Then we were driving north through shrub-like treed expanses drowned in sand and thrashed by desert winds, but still very hot... blazingly hot. Territories so dry you didn't need a hand towel; just wait one minute and your hands were dry. One day later we drove up into the snow zone where temps were in the low to mid 30's and snow graced the sides of the highway and up into the tree-lines. One could be forgiven for believing we were indeed returning to a land of winter.

I am pleased to announce πŸ€— that yesterday we drove into spring. Temps were still low, and it even rained on us, but this morning the sun poked its way through the clouds, delighting us with patches of blue sky, and glimpses of beautiful Pacific Northwest spring scenes. Yup, daffodils at the side on the road, white and pink cherry blossoms everywhere, bright yellow forsythia in bloom... oh, and traffic jams cuz folks were out enjoying the drive...

We have just returned from touring the Bonnieville Dam and Fish Hatchery. Very interesting and informative. And now, as the 'spring' rains begin again, we shall tuck ourselves into the little trailer and watch a movie :-). Tomorrow we move on to Port Townsend for our last two nights on the road.

Hope all is going well for you and spring is showing her head in your neighbourhood. CJ

Posted by: Carolyn (via Kathy's Google mail profile)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Farewell Bend State Park, OR

Thankfully we beat the rain. Arrived here about 1530 hrs (or 1630 if you wanted local time... which we didn't as the sun was shining and where we were heading was the earlier time too). Donna and Liz had arrived ahead of us and selected their site so we pulled in right beside them. The park is almost empty as it doesn't officially open until mid-May. For those of us not afraid of a little colder weather the park folks have allowed a 'first come first served' site selection system, along with an 'honour system' payment set up. Worked for us and in quick order we were set up, organized for a joint dinner and enjoying a great view of the river over snacks and a libation. We played some cards after dinner and, good news Dee, I now understand Uno :-)

Farewell Bend State Park is one of the parks, set up along the Oregon trail used by the early settlers and paralleling the Snake River. Just like Three Island Crossing State Park, a visitor can look out over the river and surrounding terrain and begin to imagine the fully loaded wagons, along with kids, parents, and loners trudging their way slowly west. As we drive through the flat barren land, crossing vast distances of dry uninviting desert, we can only imagine the damage done to the horses and oxen by the thorned and prickly cactus. The rugged terrain along with the lack of shade and water must have demanded a heavy toll in both equipment and life. As we drove our route up Highways 93 and 84, we spoke often of those brave, courageous, and stubborn people who managed, against all odds, to find their way west. Me thinks very few people today would even consider starting such a journey, never mind continuing with it once the hardships became obvious.

The clouds began moving in (the forecast looks like rain off and on for the rest of our journey (rats πŸ˜–) and by 0230 it was raining on our parade. I'm delighted to report that this morning (0700) the rain has stopped. Fingers crossed it stays stopped until we're at least packed up and maybe on the road. We have pretty much perfected (to our standards anyway) the 'touch and go' method for one-night stops. First we find a site long enough to accommodate our whole 'rig' (that's RV talk for whatever you're driving and whatever you're towing or carrying on your back). Our rig is 35' overall and we can usually find a site long enough to back into and stop without having to detach the truck. Then we pop Rikki up onto a single board under each rear tire and (voila) TT Lucy is level for and aft. And, to make it even easier, most State Parks have paved sites or very flat gravel ones, so the side to side levelness isn't an issue. Easy peazy.

We leave this morning (Thursday) to head for Ainsworth State Park just outside of Portland. This will be a two day stop as we're one day ahead of schedule and have a bit of shopping to do in Portland. As well, with luck, we'll get to see the Cascade Locks this time.

So, while we are cooler, at least we're sleeping better at night and did actually think to bring along a pair of long pants and some fleece tops. Just have to dig out our rain coats now.

Hoping all is well with each of you and your days re filled pursuing your dreams. Adios for now.... CJ

Sent from my iPad

Posted by: Carolyn (via Kathy's Google mail profile)

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Cattail Cove State Park, AZ

The eve of departure approaches... sigh. As if to help prepare us for the soon-to-be arctic temps ahead of us, the wind and cloud cover has increased and the daytime temperature has dropped to 77 brrrrr. πŸ’¨πŸŒ¨☃️ Can't wait to face the mid-50's (as daytime highs) that await our trek north.

Oh well, we've had a grand time here at Cattail Cove State Park (just outside Lake Havasu City, near the western border of Arizona) and today is our last day for R and R.  The truck is tidied (the trailer not, but we've still a few hours to tuck things into their proper place... ship-shape as it were) and, after one last dinner with our friends we'll be heading out early tomorrow morning.

Here are a couple photos of the park.  One shows the lovely little beach and the other looks back over the campground.  If you look very carefully you'll see Lucy tucked away under the trees - about dead centre of the photo.  The trailer to the left belongs to friends Donna and her mom Liz.  We four have had a great visit, hiking in the mornings, swimming in the afternoons, sharing dinners and .. well, just sharing the beauty of the desert.

Tomorrow we head home via, if the weather allows, stops in the following order: Cathedral Grove State Park; Welcome Station RV in Wells, Nevada; Farewell Bend State Park, Oregon; Ainsworth State Park, Oregon; Portland; Port Townsend, WA, and finally the Coho Ferry to Victoria on Easter Monday morning.  That's the route we've mapped out and we hope the trip will unfold flawlessly...

Won't be doing much writing on the road so remember no news is good news...  Hope all is good with each of you.... will write again when it's time.  CJ

Posted by: Carolyn (via Kathy's Google mail profile)

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Buckskin Mtn. SP

A giant, scaled, with sharp toe-nails lizard (of some sort :-)

Buckskin Mtn. SP

A beautiful desert flower.... and the posies are lovely too... :-)

Buckskin Mtn. SP

The mighty Chuckwalla...

Buckskin Mtn. SP

Ahhhh, the hiker herself...

Buckskin Mtn. SP

Oh what a view... for a weary hiker...

Buckskin Mountain State Park, AZ

As predicted, wifi connectivity has been limited. But, Lucy's readiness to pick up and go was not... so, with very little effort on our part, we dusted off the dear little trailer, got Rikki his 32,000 km (already!) service, picked up a few groceries, and headed on up the road to our first planned stop, Buckskin Mountain State Park.

You may recall we've been here before... twice actually... guess we like it :-) and this visit was no different.  This little park is nestled on the banks of the Colorado River.  Most of the sites are a good size and there are enough trees scattered throughout to provide satisfactory privacy for the most part.  The river bank is accessible for wading, swimming, paddle boarding, boat launching and general R and R, such as sitting in your lawn chair, on the side of the river, with your toes in the water (it's not a very wide beach:-).

One of the things we like the most about this park is the wildlife.  Not only are there tons of birds, including Ring-necked and Mourning doves, Gambel's quail, Hummingbirds, Tanagers and all kinds of other delightfully coloured and active smaller birds... there are also Coyotes wandering through the grassy areas at night and all kinds of reptiles to be seen on the hikes. As well, the desert is having a "super bloom" this year and the desert flowers are gorgeous.

The best way to see the flowers and reptiles is to take advantage of the miles of desert mountain hikes that start right at the park gates.  We did, and I'll post a few photos in a following blog.

We were at Buckskin for four days (April 1-4) and then moved on to our next stop Cattail Cove State Park, a whole six miles down the road... but worth the visit every time.

I know we don't have the wondrous adventures of those who are actually out and about RVing only (our mission being the mere return from cruising in Mexico)... but I'm glad we have time to take a few days here and there to enjoy the desert we are passing through. With any luck, weather and time will allow us to enjoy a couple more parks as we head north... but only time will tell, so we're enjoying the warmth while we can.

Had a sobering realization the other day.  I did the math... and realized... that my grandparents (who seemed very old at the time), and who used to travel south in the '60's towing a small trailer (of all foolish things!), all the way to Arizona (of all forbidden places!), and stopped to take photos of cacti and other desert succulents, and who stayed in trailer parks (crazy huh)....  must have been my age (or a bit younger)!! Doesn't that just stop you in your tracks!  It did me.

Anyway.... back to my motto....  live every day, as well as you can!  That being said, I must get back to enjoying this beautiful park at Cattail Cove.  TTFN my friends.  Know we are well and slowly wending our way home.  Hope all is well with each of you.  Stay tuned for more photos.  CJ

Posted by: Carolyn (via Kathy's Google mail profile)

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Snow in Yuma !!!!!!

Now I know these weather patterns have been crazy... but SNOW in Yuma!!!! Come on... that's just not right!!!!! oh yeah ... April Fools!! πŸ˜‰.

Can't blame a girl for trying... even while travelling. I usually get at least one of my sisters.... let me know 'k.

In fact, Yuma may be hot but it's sure nice to not have our clothing plastered to our bodies by 90+% humidity πŸ˜„

We went directly to check out TT (travel trailer) Lucy and found her sitting peacefully in the yard of friends... exactly as we'd left her and showing signs of having been cared for very well. Thank you Lane and Kathy. Your care has made our arrival and preparation for leaving so much easier than it might have been. We heard from neighbours about the terrible winds and dust storms, yet Lucy looked like she'd just had a bath and there was no dust inside. We heard about the terrible heat, yet Lucy's water bottles (left open to add humidity during the hot winter months) were almost full (having been refilled me thinks by her care givers). What a welcome relief to find that her prep was minimal (removing window covers, restoring one outside awning, a very light exterior dusting, and draining the water tank) and Lucy was rendered 'ready to go' in very short order.

We pick her up this morning, after breakfast (ooh I love the little waffle machines at these B&B hotels :-) and head off. Today is a short drive to Buckskin Mountain State Park; a very nice campground on the Colorado River with nice walks and hikes in the surrounding desert and in the park itself. Not sure of their wifi so thought I'd write a note this morning before we leave Yuma. We'll be there until Wednesday when we head further north (a bit) to Cattail Cove State Park. We'll be in Cattail until the 10th after which we begin our serious sojourn north to cold, wet and beautiful BC.

So, if you don't hear from us for a few days, don't worry. Will write again when there's something to say. Hope all is well with each of you.... ttfn. CJ

Sent from my iPad

Posted by: Carolyn (via Kathy's Google mail profile)

Thursday, March 30, 2017

San Carlos and Green Valley

It's Thursday morning and this must be Green Valley. It's so nice to be able to read again. I mean, well what I mean is... and it's no ones fault but my own.... after all these years I'm still getting by with Spanglish. It gets better each season, and every year I add a new phrase or two to my collection, but it's still Spanglish with very little understanding of whole sentences and even less ability to take in new words. Kathy on the other hand, is doing very well. She seems to have a natural ability to grasp the feeling of a conversation and is now engaging in full blown conversations about practically everything. You'd swear she'd been in Spanish classes for years. And so we get by; she taking the lead in most non-English conversations and me holding my own when I'm out and about by myself - due in large part to the kindness of those I converse with.

The reading I referred to is about road signs on the highway. 'Tis true, after all these years, I have a solid grasp on the usual signs about dangerous curves and Tope (those massive speed bumps requiring you to slow down to a crawl while the highway goes through small villages or risk losing your undercarriage) warnings. But the Mexican highways under repair (as most are these days, thanks to hurricanes and other weather and climate phenomena's) have all kinds of different signage... like detours and explanations. There's also a new set reminding you that being a good driver and obeying the various rules will give you a better day and a better world. True of course, in a kind of preachy way. Perhaps all the signage has been designed to keep language-challenged drivers (such as myself) awake. Hmmmmm.

Anyway, back to our story. We're here! Left San Carlos after two lazy days. Couldn't believe how exhausted we were (after the major last push to ready SSpirit and then the 13 hour journey by bus and taxi to get from Mazatlan to San Carlos). We took the time to totally unpack, inventory and repack the truck (answering the "what's in the back?" question with "just a bunch of stuff" type answers just doesn't cut it at the borders these days). Mostly we slept, rested, and enjoyed the company of a few good friends over meals.

We left SC yesterday (Wednesday) at 0600 precisely and headed north just as dawn was breaking. As this was likely our last drive on this route, we took the time to enjoy the scenery (the white, red, and yellow desert flower blooms are just beautiful) and remember all the wonderful folks we met during our stays in the little coastal, marina town. Crossing the border went well. No hard questions, no paperwork hassle, just a short conversation with a friendly Border guard and we were through.

Green Valley is a good place to stop, either before crossing southbound early in the morning or after crossing the border north bound after a long drive. For the past several years we have always stayed at the Best Western (and always been somewhat disappointed in the condition of our room and the hotel in general). This time we decided to try somewhere different. The BW had put their rates up and it just didn't seem right. We are now fans of the Vagabond Inn. What a difference. This hotel is just as close to the border, just as safe (we prefer Green Valley to Nogales for safety reasons), cleaner and brighter, also provides breakfast, and is about $50 (US) cheaper.

Today, after breakfast, we head west to Yuma and will be staying at the Microtel (two nights for the same price as one night at the BW in Green Valley) for a couple nights. That will give us time to prep Lucy (the trailer) and get Rikki (the truck) his 32,000 km service. And then we will head to Buckskin Mountain State Park for some R&R.

That's our story for now.... Hope all is well with all of you. We are well. TTFN. CJ

Posted by: Carolyn (via Kathy's Google mail profile)

Sent from my iPad

Sunday, March 26, 2017

SSpirit sleeps.....

Finally. It's been a long, hot, humid week of intense labour... all part of the fun. As they say, blue water cruising is all about working on your boat in exotic places. For us... this year... the places were San Carlos, La Paz, and Mazatlan.

As our winter cruising season winds down we can look back and cherish the moments. Not only did we finally get away from the dock and explore new remote anchorages, but we had some great visits with friends old and new. We were treated to a taste of the "all inclusive" life (thank you Don and Carol) and we enjoyed the company of dear friends Sue and John for a significant portion of this years adventure (thank you for your good humour and patience :-) All in all it's been a great season in the Sea of Cortez.

Today, as our thoughts turn to the road ahead, we begin our journey home. The taxi picked us up at 0500 and we're currently sitting at the TAPS Terminal de Auto Bus, waiting to board the 0630 bus to Guaymas. After what we hope will be a pleasant but long bus ride to Guaymas (10-12 hours) we will grab a cab to San Carlos. Tomorrow and the next day will be about getting Rikki ready for the trip home and seeing a few friends.

It's now 0630 and we've just loaded onto the bus and are leaving the terminal. Bye bye Mazatlan. Thank goodness they accepted our luggage :-) The goal of travelling light has, again, escaped us... but the bus isn't full so I guess they had room. Turns out there's actually WiFi o the bus... yippee! But first...

Time to catch up on our sleep. Will check in again from San Carlos before we leave.

Adios amigos. CJ

Sent from my iPad

Posted by: Carolyn (via Kathy's Google mail profile)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Hot 'n humid... Mazatlan πŸ˜…

Hola my friends... we're still here and doing well. It's been a while since I've checked in... didn't want to bore you with descriptions of boat prep. You'll remember the process we had to go through recommissioning the boat after we brought her out from storage? Well, getting her ready to leave when we head home... is pretty much the same, only in reverse.

Even the temperatures are similar. But I must tell you this is the most humidity we have ever experienced. It's almost raining inside the boat! I kid you not. Temperatures in the high 70's to mid 80's ... coupled with humidity ranging from 80% to 95% inside the boat, have us scrambling to find a de-humidifier to try and dry us out a bit. Unfortunately the ones they sell down here are huge; big enough for our house but too large to squeeze into a smallish boat. We shall keep looking. Fortunately we're leaving SSpirit in the care of a boat management company and they will, at least, be airing her out once a week.. but a de-humidifier would really help. If we can't find one to buy, a friend may loan us his... we shall see.

We move down the way to Marina Mazatlan on Sunday. We will miss the luxuries (and pools) of Marina El Cid, but it's time to really focus on our work now anyway and, with the daytime temperatures described above, working through the afternoon is difficult. As well, there has been the rare appearance of morning fog this week. Pea soupers... it's kind of like a moving steam bath. Hopefully the fog thing will move on.

We have bus tickets in hand for Sunday, March 26th and will take the bus from Mazatlan to Guaymas and taxi to San Carlos on that day. We plan to spend Monday and Tuesday retrieving the truck, repacking it, and seeing a few friends. Our plan has us on the road heading north early Wednesday morning (the 29th).

Lots to do before then so best get up and get at it.... heck it's 0700 and only 75 with 95% humidity. πŸ˜…

Hope all is well with each of you... and that you had a good St. Patrick's Day ☘☘☘.
Adios for now... CJ

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Posted by: Carolyn (via Kathy's Google mail profile)

Sunday, February 26, 2017

All is well in Mazatlan

Hi all... have just posted a couple of photos of us leaving La Paz on Feb 16th. We have just received them from friends who kindly rose at the early time of our departure and snapped a few pics.

We are very much enjoying our time at El Cid Resort and Marina (here in Mazatlan) and will be here until moving SSpirit to Marina Mazatlan, further inside and better protected, for her summer sleep. Sue and John are now enjoying life in the Bungalows about a block away and we see them often for time by the pool and exploration of Mazatlan. We said goodby to three Canadian boats this morning, Dolphin Tales, Kewao, and SeaBear V... all who are heading across the Sea to La Paz where they will meet up with their transport home. They will be very much missed here at El Cid and the docks feel empty without them :-(

That's all the news I have for today... must be off... busy re-sealing a leaky stanchion....
sigh... never ends does it πŸ˜‰πŸ› πŸ”¨

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A good ship... heading off across the Sea... early o'clock.

Early morning leaving...

On the good ship Shannon's Spirit.

Proof positive we arrived in La Paz, and left La Paz... All hands on deck for the leaving....

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Safe and sound @ Marina El Cid, Mazatlan....

Hi all, Just a quick note to let you know that after 48 hrs. (Exactly) we arrived in Marina El Cid... well fed, all fine... and just a tad tired (even the best of watch schedules can still leave you exhausted:-). We are on B dock, one slip away from the one we had with Shannon, and many of our old friends are here. It's nice to reconnect. We're looking forward to showing Sue and John some of our old haunts.... mañana..... after naps, dinner and more sleeps.

Hope all is well with all of you. Ttfn. CJ

PS. That's Ta ta for now. ☺️

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Weather windows.....πŸ”²

.... are not something you look through! They're something we watch for, look at, study hard, contemplate, and then make wild-ass guesses as to Mother Natures mood and intentions. Needless to say, every Capitan must make a decision at some point. My dad used to say the Captains final say (about the wind and sea conditions... and whether to slip or stay put) would usually leave them as the hero or the goat and the goat usually won. Sadly there is nothing constant about our weather patterns and the forecasts are often described as "best guesses". In fact, many subscribe to the notion of "if you don't like the forecast, just keep reading others 'till you find one you like :-).

Today's "best guess" causes us to believe we think we might have, unless things change, a two and a half day window for a crossing to Mazatlan :-). And so, without further ado, we are in the process of preparing for an early morning departure. Just wanted to let you know. SSpirit is ready and raring to go.... and the crew's in pretty good shape too. πŸƒ‍♀️πŸƒ‍♀️πŸƒ‍♀️πŸƒπŸ» Must run now, but assuming we do actually leave tomorrow... we'll be back in touch in a few days... unless of course, we change our mind and decide to do something else. 😎

For now, we wish you all a Happy Valentine's Day (yesterday) ❤️ and best wishes for you every day as your winter turns slowly into spring 🌺🌼🌻🌸

From the crew of Shannon's Spirit ⛵

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Saturday, February 4, 2017

Malecon mornings...

I walked my malecon this morning.... like I do most mornings these days. Up early, at "sparrow fart" (a term I learned years ago from a British colleague). Up even before daylight (which always arrives in a rush and catches the unawares who aren't ready for the brilliant sunshine pouring over the eastern mountain top), and a quick brush of teeth, splash of cold water to the face, and a leap into clothes set out the night before... and off I go. It's usually about 0630 hrs. when I'm leaving the boat.

I'm always surprised at the number of marina fellows, and others hoping for work, I pass as I wend my way up the dock, through the locked gates, past the office (door always open as I think the new manager practically sleeps at his desk, intent on being ready for anything), through the parking lot, past the security guard, and out through the gates. And to each one, or each small group, I offer up a "Buenos Dias" and receive the same in response along with a brilliant smile.

This "malecon" I speak of is the extended and improved sidewalk, running along the shoreline of La Paz. It runs for miles and passes by Marina Palmira on its way out of town to the furthest-most marinas and resorts. At 0630 this morning the world was a soft pink and baby blue... for real. The pavement glowed pink in response to the morning clouds....softly pink against a pale blue sky. The sea, flat like a mirror, was both pink and baby blue in its reflection of both clouds and sky. The scene was magical and made me darn glad to be alive. It also put a spring in my step as I set off along my malecon.

I call it "my" malecon... but really, I share it with many souls. Folks like me... enjoying a quiet time with our thoughts, or time shared with a like-minded walking mate, at the start of a new day. Some folks I pass (or who pass me) are new, but many are regulars and... like old friends (or at least acquaintances) who share an interest in common, we greet each other as we pass. Most of the people I see at my early hour are Mexican; a few are North American... all are pleasant. Some stick in my mind and I watch for them each morning.

There are three dog walkers who stroll my route. One, a large gruff kind of fellow, has two dogs... always off leash... one younger male, and one older female... both of unknown origin. Neither particularly care that I am there.. they go by me like a full bus. But, there are two others I look forward to seeing. One gentleman, older than me, walks two puppies... always on leash, always way more interested in everything around them than in behaving on leash, but soft and gentle in their approach and always interested to see me. I don't stop to speak with them as I don't want to interrupt their rather dubious training session. And then there's my favourite, a gorgeous pair of young afghans, one golden in colour (and a happy-to-see-me boisterous girl) and the other Black and Tan (a very refined and shy young male who hangs back and eyes me timidly... I'm still working on him). Their owner is very nice and he slows and lets me have a short visit... and then we all carry on our way.

I walk about three kilometres round trip and during that time pass many I recognize. Some are couples enjoying their walk and chat, others are business colleagues having a walking meeting, and many are individuals walking or jogging in their own little world (as created by pieces of electrical equipment stuffed in their ears). Oh, and there's the fellow on a bicycle with spread-apart handle bars. he rides into town each morning and I can hear him coming long before I see him. He wears a transistor radio tied around his neck with a string and he plays it as loud as possible... and it's always bright and cheerful Mexican music. How could I object? The music makes me want to dance while I walk.

To all these folks I say "Buenos Dias" and they reply in kind. What a great way to start each day... with the natural beauty supplied by Mother Nature and the warm greetings supplied by complete strangers.

I wish you all a good day... and warm greetings from total strangers, where ever you go. Adios. CJ

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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Update... enjoying La Paz

Good morning all... Just a quick note to let you know all remains well here in lovely La Paz. Our crew are enjoying exploring the nooks and crannies of this seaside town, SSpirit is happily tucked into Dock 3 at Marina Palmira, and Kathy has left us (yesterday) to head north for a good visit with mom. The winds have calmed down for now and we look forward to them calming again when Kathy returns so we can continue our journey to the mainland. For now we shall putter on the boat, relax with our books, enjoy the social scene, and look forward to Kathy's return on the 13th.

Hope all is well with each of you... and Happy February.... spring is around the corner, isn't it?? 🌼

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Aaah the winds of change...

Change of plans that is :-). Just a quick update to let you know we took advantage of our "one day window" and returned to La Paz. It was a good decision as we are now safely tucked in to our slip at Marina Palmira and the winds are building from the north as I write. Aah, no more anchor watch for a little while. Now we will spend our time relaxing, reading, walking, visiting with friends,and chipping away on the TUDU list.

Hope all is well with all of you and that your winter weather is softening it's hold.... Adios for now. CJ

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Friday, January 20, 2017

Jan. 20, 2017: A little wind... To keep you young :-). Ensenada Grande

It's 2230 hrs (1030PM) and the swells have finally calmed down enough I can hold my old IPad on my lap... What an evening we've had. We woke (at Ensenada Raza) to a beautiful, sunny, calm day. Left right after breakfast so we could to get to our next stop early enough to have some fun exploring a bit. We were heading to Ensenada Grande as it is the closest anchorage to Los Islotes (the small rocky bits, housing a sea lion colony) about 4 nautical miles north of Isla Espiritu Santo. Swimming with sea lions is very cool and Kathy managed two dives with them when we were here last in 2012. Our goal is for the both of us to dive with them this time...

Anyway, first things first... we really enjoyed our afternoon anchorage at Ensenanda Grande. Even though the water was a wee bit cool by Mexican standards, we hardy BC types (well most of us :-) jumped in for a swim after lunch. Then Kathy took the kayak and John, Sue and I fired up Dobby the dinghy to explore our anchorage. This place is beautiful, complete with water as green as our lime green kayak (I kid you not) and beautiful geological formations all along the shore... really amazing architecture created by mother nature and her forces. Back on board it was siesta and book reading time... for a bit, and then it was happy hour which, of course, led into dinner time.

Now we're back to where my story began. When we first arrived we chose our anchoring spot very carefully. After all we'd studied numerous weather forecasts (none of which agreed) and selected a spot that would be, hopefully, fairly protected from whatever might come our way. Well, you guessed it, just as I was firing up the BBQ for the chicken portion of our meal, the wind piped up.... followed closely by an increase of swell size. Oh, I should have mentioned it was dark by then and the direction the wind came in was neither forecast nor pleasant as it put us on a lee shore. Not to be starved to death, we continued with the cooking, at one point using the ships umbrella to divert the wind away from the BBQ so it would stay lit (which it did :-). Unfortunately, by the time the chuck was cooked, the wind and waves were so strong dinner at the table was nigh impossible and folks ate as they could and where they could.

By now (about 1930 hrs) we were all thanking Kathy heartily for her prowess on the foredeck (she's in charge of discharging the anchor from where it lives, sending it to the bottom of the sea, to a precise location selected by the crew in advance and then amended by wind and current at will), and for her diligent 'setting' of the anchor, a process that requires experience and patience. As we watched two catamarans not far from us, climbing up and down the seas and worrying about their anchors, we patted Kathy on the back for 'sticking the hook' well, at the same time as we discussed the need for an anchor watch until things died down. Just to give you a sense of how it felt... on several occasions I went forward to check the anchor chain and snubber and had to crouch on the foredeck, hanging on to the pulpit with both hands as the nose of the boat..... almost...... buried itself in the each swell... Yup we were doing a pretty good imitation of a rocking horse! It wasn't too unlike parts of our journey down the coast in '11. And so it continued....

It's now 2330 hrs. I drew the first watch (2100-0000) and I'm happy to report the wind and seas have started to calm down. If they stay calm we'll be able to call off the formal anchor watches and all get some sleep. I gotta say though, there's nothing like a little unplanned chaos to draw a crew together. Hurray for good friends and sailors to boot!

Wind's down, seas quieting.... Time for bed. G'night. Zzzzzzzzzzz

Good morning... 0700 and all's well. Wind is gone, swell is comfortable, and everyone had some sleep (some still snoozing :-). Kathy and I have decided that as we both still have the tail end of our colds, and given the unsettled weather conditions, we will forgo our trip with the sea lions and save it for the next time we're by this way. Instead, once everyone's up and ready, we'll press on... either to Isla San Francisco (our personal favourite and place we really want to show Sue and John) or the fishing village (with a safe anchorage in strong winds) of San Evaristo... 9 miles further. The village also has a small restaurant so we can treat ourselves for dinner one night.

For now... We collect ourselves, tidy up the cabin and decks and have breakfast (all very civilized isn't it?). We'll slip when we're ready.....

By the way... Two things. First, I don't know when this post will actually be published as we're not in contact range for the Internet. I may try sending it over the SSB. We shall see.

Second: If any of you are interested, we are posting the ship's position as we travel (via SSB and as we change position and have radio contact) and you can check to see where we are by clicking on the "Where is Shannon's Spirit" link on the front page of the Blog.

So, that's it for now... Hope you enjoyed the story. Mañana ... CJ

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