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
​s​
and people.  But now, realizing there will never be a day we can say "
​O​
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
​l​
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​


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


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

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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

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

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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



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

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

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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



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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

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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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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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Jan. 18, 2017: SSpirit is on the move.... Ensenada Raza

Yup, we actually slipped the lines and left the big city (of La Paz:-) We've had a terrific visit with friends old and new and re-acquainted ourselves with the best restaurants in the vicinity... even enjoyed some wonderful walks. It took us five years to get back here and it's hard to believe it's time to leave already... But leave we did. At 1030 hrs this morning we headed north, took a peek into Caleta Lobos (sadly closed to cruisers now... for a good cause; protection of the coral beds and mangroves) and carried on to Ensenada Raza (hook down by 1530 hrs.) We had a lovely wee sail, a not-too-long motor sail and then a short motor to our destination. Beautiful scenery, good friends, blue sky and sunshine. What could be better?

It's just after 2200 hrs. and we're not on Internet but I'm writing this for the blog anyway. At some point the stars will align and the post will go out. It's calm so far and tomorrow may be even calmer. Tomorrow we head to Ensenada Grande which is very close to Los Islotes (where we intend to swim with the sea lions early Friday morning. Oh, that reminds me. Kathy finally got her swim with the awhile sharks (I had mine back in 2012). She went out with a small group on a tour arranged by the Whale Museum... and was in the water snorkeling with these huge, calm fish at least five times. She had a blast and came back with a big grin on her face.... another tick for the bucket list.

There's a blow predicted to start on Saturday so we will continue north and position ourselves safely for the incoming weather. This post is short... Just wanted to let you know we are well and enjoying the Sea. Hope all is well with each of you.... TTFN (tatafornow) CJ


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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Fresh crew, safely arrived....

Right on time! Or maybe a little early... Sue and John have arrived in La Paz safe and sound.... in good cheer even. :-). We are also happy to report SSpirit was ready to receive them. Most projects are either finished or at a point where they could be put to rest. The lights were on, carpets in place, beds made and tapas at the ready.

We've had a lovely first evening... complete with tots and snacks...and now all hands are not on deck, but heading for their pillows. Tomorrow is a new day and we'll sort out the loose 'plan' after a good cup of coffee.

So much to see and do, right here in La Paz... And then there's sailing and visiting beautiful anchorages... Very exciting!

Hope all is well with all of you... Will keep you posted.... CJ

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Sunday, January 1, 2017

Feliz ano nuevo... all the way from La Paz

 ☘️☘️☘️☘️☘️☘️☘️☘️☘️☘️☘️☘️☘️☘️☘️
It's January 1st, 2017.

Yikes this day has arrived quickly! Hola to our friends... from La Paz, BCS. We have just survived a week of festivities including, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, a 65th birthday, New Years Eve, and today - New Year's Day. Phew. I think you can understand why there was little time for writing πŸ˜‡ We are well and hope you are too. Christmas is a very busy time for most of us. Unfortunately we have no sailing adventures to write about... the winds have been blowing quite steadily into the high 20's and so we, and others, have been enjoying life at the dock... and a busy one at that.

The winds have finally calmed down. Started abating yesterday and this morning Kathy and Jeanne actually went for a kayak paddle. We are finishing off some projects and looking forward to the arrival of sailing friends, Sue and John, who will be arriving on the 10th. They'll be with us for a few weeks and we are really looking forward to showing them some of our favourite anchorages north of La Paz, as well as the Sea itself (while we cross to the mainland towards the end of January). For now... we just enjoy being here and being part of the cruising community... many old friends and some new. Must go now. The Bloody Mary's 🍷are being served on the dock, in honour of the first day of what promises to be a memorable year in many ways.
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>>>>>> We wish you and your family all the best in 2017.
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>>>>>> Kathy and Carolyn
>>>>>> SV Shannon's Spirit
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