We’ve been hangin’ out at anchor here in La Cruz in BanderasBay near Puerto Vallarta for a couple of weeks getting a few things done around the boat while we wait for our water maker part.We attended a Puddle Jumpers meeting at the marina near our anchorage for those planning to cross the pacific to French Polynesia & beyond with a cruiser pot luck BBQ afterwards; lot’s of adventuresome folks there.To put our anxieties to ease the leader dispelled worries about where to jump from & when, stating that just leave from where ever you & just go, the weather will be what it’ll be.It’s such a long passage that there is no way to time for the perfect weather passage, just go & enjoy the ride :-)We also learned what to do about night passages, ‘just go to sleep’, you’re ‘not likely’ to see another boat for weeks’.It’s good know there’s nothing to worry about :-O
The highlight of our stay here has been an outdoor adventure tour.The adventure started with us taking our dingy to shore, a hike up to the main road to catch a 45 minuet bus to town to the adventure tour base.The base was an amazing tropical set up with nice palms, ferns & bamboo plants wonderfully spread about the place.They have a huge dolphin pool with at least a dozen dolphins playing around.Robin & I wondered up to the pool while no one was around & the dolphins came to us chatting & being real playful.They would toss basketballs & footballs to us encouraging us to play catch; something you don’t do everyday.They would follow Robin as he ran up & down the side of the pool, very cool, until the handlers showed up & shoo’d us away:-OSoon we boarded a 400HP dingy for a fast ride to the other side of the bay, just opposite of where our boat is anchored.From there we hopped into military style Mercedes transport 4x4 trucks & went way up into the mountains to a donkey ranch.We got a sixty second donkey riding lesson & made our way up some very step paths to the higher parts of the mountain thru thick jungle growth.After dismounting our noble steeds we hoofed ourselves even further & stepper to the first zip line.They outfitted us with climbing harness, gave us a sixty second zip line lesson, clipped us onto the zip line with roller clips & soon we were flying above the canopy of jungle trees, whoosh!After zipping down several zip lines we got to a near vertical zip line with special instructions for the descent, boy ya really put your life in their hands but we all survived; what an adrenalin rush.
The last zip line had us flying directly into a pool of river water, cold refreshing water.We then did about a 100 foot straight down repel into a flowing river, after a 30 second repelling lesson:-OIt was a bit un-nerving standing 100 feet up on a small platform suspended in the tree tops wondering how this repelling thing works, it’s just a rope that winds a figure eight thru a ring of metal, one simply applies some pressure to slow down:-OWe’ll we all survived that as well :-)We then hiked across some rope bridges, walked thru some river crossing, marveled at the jungle all around us & made our way back to the donkey camp where the donkeys we had ridden up the hill are relaxing at the donkey hotel; they didn’t join us for the zip lining down the mountain.From there we rode the transport vehicles but on the way back we stopped at a tequila ranch where they grow the agave plant used in making tequila where a jolly fellow showed us all about making tequila & gave us a lesson in tequila drinking.After a few shots we all staggered over to purchase some of dat der tequila :-OIt was dark way before we got back to our boat.
Maya, the little girl on the kid boat Kamaya, had been working on a theatrical play of Harry Potter for over a year & with the help of kid boat Bravado, Robin & a few other kids, they put together a very nice presentation.The brand new marina here in La Cruz has an amphitheater & the management arranged to let the kids use the place complete with stage lights, they even hosted a BBQ after the play.The play went over great, it was quite the success.Robin got to play fluffy the 3 headed dog, the king of the bad side of the possessed chess game & Muggle the train conductor.
1-13-09We got the boat ship shape & was in the process of hauling up the anchor when we discovered our ‘anchor yanker’ (windlass) just made a clicking sound instead of actually hauling up the anchor.A quick check revealed that the massive power connections were loose.Curious to confirm what else could be loose I discovered that of the four large bolts that hold the massive unit to the boat, two were missing their nuts :-ONow I have zillions of spare bolts, nuts, screws or just about every size, all in stainless steel but I did not have the 8mm nuts.So we shut off the boats motor & began the quest to find these rare parts.After about an hour of research on the VHF radio & Skype phone calls I find I must embark on a journey that would take a few hours…just to get a couple of bolt nuts at a place called tornillo; a nut & bolts place in downtown Puerto Vallarta :-OSo I take the dingy to shore & walk up to the road & flag down a bus.Just a few minuets down the road I see a small shop with the name tornillo, so thinking that this must be family business & this was another one of ‘their’ stores & press the stop button on the bus for a quick exit; the bus driver slows the bus as fast as he can screeching to a slow gallop where I hop off the wildly swaying bus to begin my quest in a jog:-O The hombre behind the counter casually asked ‘quanto tornillos?’.To my total amazement he was asking how many do I need, the place actual had these strange European nuts & I was back to the boat in no time bolting the anchor yanker firmly in place :-)
On the way back I meet up with the cool dude whose cool gal back in the states will be bringing back our water maker parts.He tells me the parts arrived but thought the filter was too big for the 20” part I described that she should get.Back on the boat I got the email that shows the part number she got was the wrong unit :-O so a flurry of emails later & the correct part isbeing overnited :-)
1-14-09We pulled up anchor after completing the last volley of emails & went to Punta Mita, a real cool spot far away from the hustle & bustle we create keeping the boat afloat :-)But not to far for more boat werk:-OThe bottom needs to be cleaned & it’s been way too murky at the anchorage near La Cruz do stay in the water long.It’s scary down under there.Armed with a 3” metal putty knife I start hacking away at the fortress of hard barnacle grow on the prop & other metal underwater places. Two hours later it’s time to scrap all the strange crawly life forms off my body :-O
Punta Mita is the northern entrance point as one enters the large Behia Banderas.With it’s headland jaunting out to the open ocean, large swell form at the point break which attract surfers from afar.We are in a nice calm spot…for now, “the surfs gonna pick up soon”, said a surfer dude cruiser who’s waitin’ fer it.
Our kid boat friends 4 Pack came sailing in just before sunset.We go over to their boat for a farewell dinner, this may be the last time we see them; we may cross paths in a week or two as they head back north & we sail south.They’ve been such a big part of summer in the Sea of Cortez; we could have sailed around the world with these folks.In this cruising life we make fast friends that touch our hearts deeply and then it’s time to move on…whoa!They will continue to be a part of our lives as fond memories & a grand time it will be when we meet again!
1-15-09We sailed back to a slip in the marina in La Cruz.Time to hose the boat off, clean the cockpit grates & hours of other boat work that can only be done in a slip.Just about every night is puddle jumper party, meeting, seminar, or dock party.Just about every day we’ve been busy with getting supplies, provisions for our month long voyage & a dentist visit for us all.
1-20-09 A Spectra water maker field rep just happened to pull up to slip right in front of our boat but was heading out to the states the next day or so; what great luck, but the next day when our cruiser friend was supposed to arrive, somehow missed the flight :-OStill not knowing if the correct parts are in her hands because there was no shipping details on the latest shipment, I didn’t want to un-install the water maker.On the morning that the water maker field rep was set to go to the airport, I received an email that the physical description of the water maker filter part seemed like the right part so I got Les the field rep to show me how to remove the old membrane part & got instructions on how to install the new part.After a bit of drama, confusion & wonderful synchronicity we received our Spectra water maker membrane part & the installation went smoothly; months of heavy concern was just about over.
1-22-09We motored out of the slip & sailed back up to Punta Mita to anchor for the night.I tested the water maker & it is now making high quality purified water!Our biggest concern has been put to rest :-)
We met up with kid boats s/v Totem & Whisper, banished all the kids to Whisper’s boat & had an adults only party; not wife swapping orgies just the bliss of being able to talk AND complete our sentences without our kids interrupting :-)The next day we sailed over to the Tres Marietas islands about 7 miles across from Punta Mita in BanderasBay.There is excellent snorkeling & kayaking.We had mucho fun, Robin took off with the kids while Bobbie & I kayaked around the small island & lingered near a huge whale & checked out a spouting blow hole near a rock outcrop.Later I stayed longer to check out a small cave opening, carefully maneuvering into the cave as the swells & waves buffeted the walls all around.As the cave narrowed I turned around & backed in as far as I could & kept my place with stabilizing paddling while taking in the wonder of it all.Just as I was in a deep state of ‘whoa’, one of the big swells that came bounced off the back of the cave & blew out blow hole style, totally drenching me from the back & giving be quite the boost out :-O
After a quick bit to eat Bobbie & I did some fantastic snorkeling; although not as good as clear visibility of Isla Isabela, the under water rock formations where very impressive.We also say large spotted rays & some startling eels.
We stayed too long to sail out of BanderasBay to our next wayward destination so we sailed back to anchor over night at Punta Mita.The next morning (1-23-09) after Robin’s home schooling we sailed out about 33 miles out & around the major head land point Cabo Corrientes, a place where the wind & current often combine for a wild ride; we passed that point with no trouble at all & arrived later in the small anchorage at Punta Ipala.It was a quaint little Mexican fishing village with enough room for just a few cruising boats; the anchorage area was filled with fish traps & floating buoys.We had a restful evening & sailed out in the morning for a 50 mile sail to Bahia Chamela.
Chamela was nice quaint beautiful anchorage; A nice change up from the hustle & bustle of the grand Puerto Vallarta area.They have none of the grand hotels of the PV area, just small quaint palm frond roofed palapas serving nice lunches & cervezas priced for the local budget.Kid boats Kamaya & Bravado where there & Robin had days of fun with the kids boogie boarding in the small surf on the beach.I had some great snorkeling near the boat, although I encountered more species of jelly fish in one hour than I have in the past year :-OThe small stings typically fade within a few hours.The kayaking was great, I took a 3 hour paddle around the two big islets in the bay, landing on a ‘Gilligan’s island’ palm frond covered beach palapa & walking on a stretch of sand that the huge waves from both sides of the small island collided.
We met a cool gal Jessica & her two young sons Kaien & Sage on the beach & she invited us all to her one room castle just a block in from the beach.She teaches movie star actor kids while they are on filming sets & does some internet teaching as well, so she is able to spend a lot of time living down here in this quite Mexican village be the sea.She spoke highly of a fish taco place that only opens once or twice a week.An older fisher man fishes when he feels like it & opens his restaurant when he feels like it.Sage saw him walking down the street while we were at a small shop & persuaded him to open up.He makes his own tortillas from starch & preps all the ingredients by hand so after we ordered Jessica invited us to her one room castle while we waited for our food to be made.
Jessica & her kids boarded s/v Kamaya & we all sailed down to Tenacatita about 35 miles southeast.We had a great down wind sail & even hoisted our large genniker head sail, the large balloon like sail.Tenacatita was probably our favorite anchorage in Mexico; it had a bit of everything a cruiser likes. The big feature here was a 45 minute self guided dingy tour up a jungle river estuary that winds thru a channel of mangroves & thick over head jungle growth that leads to a ‘Gilligan’s island palm frond palapa where you park your dingy.A short walk from there to a picturesque beach front with a handful of palm covered palapas serving cold cervezas & fresh fish food.We strolled over to an area called ‘the aquarium’ for some great snorkeling among the living coral reefs & then had lunch at one of the beach palapas.
The next day Robin enjoyed some great surfing with a slightly older cruiser kid.He learned a lot of great tips on surfing; he’s a natural at surfing.I went kayaked up the jungle river channel & witness even more wild life than before on the dingy ride; Bobbie kayaked the jungle tour the next day loved it.Snorkeling was great at a nice secluded spot near the boat.
2-2-09We hauled anchor in Tenacatita & motored a few miles north to ‘the aquarium’ area.Bobbie took a kayak into the beachside shops for some fresh produce while entered the coordinates into our chart plotter to ‘safely’ enter the shallow entrance channel to the lagoon in Barra Navidad. There is a long narrow channel that leads to the anchorage in the lagoon that is very shallow on the sides, the water is murky from the estuary so you can’t see the shallows; just about every day a boat gets stuck in the mud there & has to wait until high tide to get out.
We stayed in the Barra Navidad lagoon for about a week, Robin had lots of kids to play with.He met kids on Calou, a sailboat in a slip in the real nice marina there.He got to swim in the fancy resort pool just about everyday.We thru a kids swim party at an other hotel pool in the ‘cost effective’ part of town, the kids had a blast.
After speaking to Mike on Desiderata we’ve decided to skip the Galapagos, meander back up to PV & jump to the Marquises from there around March 8th.Mike has just sailed from Ecuador to the Galapagos to Zihuatanejo.It took them 14 days from Galapagos to Zihuatanejo & they had the 2 knot SE current plus the SE trades to ‘speed’ them along the way.He feels it would have taken them about 3 weeks & lots more fuel to go Z-town to Galapagos.
If we had had the time to get to Costa Rica like we had first thought the Cocos/Galapagos would have been do-able but the difference in time & miles:
Z town to CocosIsland to Galapagos to Marquises is 4580nm.Z town to Marquises is 2748…Would have made for a very slow & rigorous slog & we didn’t want to get burned out before we start our real major passage.
2-7-09We had intended to spend some time in Tenacatita & Chamela on the way back to the Puerto Vallarta area but the weather guru on the HF radio spoke of gales, high winds & huge seas blowing down our way so we just made an overnight passage back.We were happy to find out that we actually had southerly winds for a down wind ride instead of the prevailing northwest winds for the first 8 hours, we got to keep sailing with a bit of tacking until about then turned on the motor when the wind died; over all a very smooth trip.
2-8-09We arrived safe & sound in the La Cruz anchorage where we’ve spent some time recently.We will be attending more ‘puddle jumper’ parties & seminars, get fully provisioned & do a bunch of boat prep work.We plan to make the jump on or around March 8th.
2-23-09 We moved into a slip in the La Cruz marina to do all the big prep work required for our big jump.I’ve changed the boats motor oil, the dingy’s motor oil, the generator’s motor oil, replaced the boat’s fuel filters, topped off the batter water, backed up the computer hard drives, up graded the operating systems, upgraded the nav program, upgraded the radio email program, upgraded the radio modem, upgraded a few other critical programs.Bobbie has been to Costco a few times, Sam’s Club, Wal Mart, the Mega fud stor, the local fresh produce markets (these were really cool, farmers bringing in their weekly harvest).We’ve taken on mucho cervasas & vino; in French Polynesia a six pack of beer is said to cost $25 to $30 bucks US :-O
3-2-09Wow, nearly a month has gone by since we’ve been back to La Cruz.We’ve now been cruising for about a year & a half, all we’ve done so far doesn’t even seem to be nearly adequate preparation for the huge passage we are about to take on; 3 to 4 weeks non stop sailing :-OWe’ve sailed thru the somewhat narrow straits in between the islands & baja coast in the Sea of Cortez, navigating by radar at night.We’ve been stopped dead in our tracks during full sail by buoyed long lines fishing rigs. We’ve been thru a number of cyclonic storm events that kept us glued to the SSB radio weather nets.We sat thru two hurricane events that ultimately blew out or by us.We’ve calmly slept thru the ‘dreaded cubascos & elephanta storm winds while at anchor;perhaps getting up to gaze in wonder at the power of nature (we’ve got a huge anchor & 400’ of HT chain so we sleep with confidence at night :-) & ok, we occasionally get up in a hurry to bring down our sun shade before it gets ripped to shreds :-)We’ve endured & really enjoyed the heat of the summer; frankly the water is more enjoyable when the air temp this hi & the water is warm enough not to bring on a heart attack when jumping in :-)We’ve sailed in the ‘terrible northers’, actually waiting for them to arrive before leaving La Paz bound for Mazatlan, when most boats seemed to be holed up waiting for calm winds so they can motor across while we blasted along in 20 to 30 knots tail winds; it really takes a gale to get this 44,000lb ship to move :-)We tested & tuned in our new huge genaker sail with new rigging.We’ve changed the ship’s motor oil, the dinghy’s oil, the generator’s oil, the coolant, topped off the batteries, equalized the batteries, cleaned the dinghy’s bottom, stored & covered the dingy, fresh water flushed the dingy motor, stowed the dingy motor cleaned the boat stem to stern, head to tow, pulled out all of the anchor chain & cleaned the anchor locker.We’ve down loaded the latest navigation software, vessel location software, weather software, hard software, soft hard ware, upper ware & under ware :-O& spent time learning it all.Most folks won’t even be able to keep their eyes open thru this waaaaaaay long paragraph of non ending boat crap & won’t ever bother to down load the free Yotreps vessel reporting software to keep track of us out there… but for those that do there will be a big party & hearty hug when we met again:-)
(http://www.pangolin.co.nz/yotreps/index.php) (find us by vessal/ham radio id # KI6LTG)We’ve spent the last month here bringing aboard every manner of supplies & provisions, realizing that the prices will be astronomical ( $ 30 bucks US a six pack :-O )between here & New Zealand & the availability will be questionable at best; we’ve got nearly a year supply of some stuff & at least a few months of the rest as long as we don’t get arrested for over stocking :-OWe expect to catch fish & get fresh veggies & fruit along the way.But still… a 3000 mile long passage :-OWe will set sail for 3 to 4 weeks non stop, 24 hours a day.There will be storms we won’t be able to avoid & worse, there will be calms with no wind, no waves & heat of the equator.We will be testing our ability to navigate to a tiny island 3000 miles away, all while changing course to optimize the wind, to get out to the stronger trade winds, to intersect the ITCZ/doldrums at their ever moving narrowest & contemplate the difference between rhumb line course & the great circle route :-OAll while keeping our bouncy boy wonder Robin in complete entertainment:-OWe can’t wait to set sail :-)
3-6-08Bobbie & I played a farewell send off concert at the yacht club here in the La Cruz marina.With Bobbie’s harp fixed we put together two sets of nautical based songs.The acoustics in the round yacht club meeting room was great & everyone in the packed place could hear us clearly, we were very well received & enjoyed the opportunity to play.
3-8-09Today is the day we were ‘ready or not here we go’, but after several reports of the wind dieing out for the next few days, there will be no wind within a 1000 miles :-OSo now our target day is Wednesday the 11th.
We’ve got all the big things done so now each day we are making a priority to have some fun & to relax.I’ve ridden my mountain bike about a hour a day for the last few days & plan two more days.When I dug the bike out of the forepeak there was quite a bit of corrosion going on, all the spokes were crusting & one of them was already popped out.After a trip into town I found a bike shop that had spares & soon was gliding around the dusty streets & back trails.
If you would like to monitor our progress as we make the long passage &
likely continue through out the vast pacific; there is a free down
loadable program called Yotreps Reporter, found on
They have other products but the Yotreps Reporter software should be
easy to find.I've downloaded this program to keep tract of the other
'puddle jumpers' as we make our way across & beyond.It gives our
position & the weather we are encountering & displays it on a basic
world map.Yotreps serves the whole world, the major weather forecasters
use this info to help form their weather forecasts.You will find every
ship in the world that is using this system but you can use the 'zoom
to' tool to outline the area of interest.Down loading the free program
will display a basic world map on the left side & boat position data on
the right side.Follow the instructions to download boat position data
to a date range.An email will be sent out, then you will receive an
email with half a page of text data.Place or move or save this email
to a folder.From the Yotreps program, go to file, open file & select
the 'summery' email.It will display the all the boats on the map on
the left with their position & weather data on the right.
We will try to be diligent with reporting our position & weather info
while at sea but if it's too rough we may not be able to.Also sleep
deportation leads to laziness so that could effect our drive to use the
HF radio & computer to send our position reports… but we’ll try :-)