Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus

As a child I was very comfortable on the water and in the water.  We were a boating family and spent our summers on the Ohio River anchored bow and stern off the beach.  I sea kayaked quite a bit in the 90s but didn’t do much swimming in the frigid waters of Puget Sound and around Vancouver Island.  And then I upgraded into a sailboat and did some wonderfully exciting sailing summer and winter in the Seattle / BC area.  Now that we are on the boat in Mexico I’m finally in warm water for the first time since my youth.  And I find that I’ve lost some swimming skills.  When I can, I jump into the water and swim around the boat just to get comfortable.  But, I’ve got a ways to go.
We thought at first this was our ferry boat panga.

Connie and I have attempted to clean the hull on Traveler using our snorkel gear and have had some success but neither of us seem to be able to submerge deep enough to clean the massive keel. So we have considered SCUBA or maybe a hookah device for that job. 

Last year we were anchored in Ensenada Carrizal near Manzanillo and we decided to do some snorkeling off the boat.  Connie suggested we take the dinghy but I insisted that we could swim over.  About halfway across with a chop forming on the water I started having difficulty, getting water into my snorkel and mask.  I ripped off my mask and gasped for air and felt myself going down.  I tried to calm myself but ended up calling for Connie to come assist.  She swam back, calmed me down and hauled me to land so I could recover.  It is in this context that I relate the following story about learning how to SCUBA dive.
This guy did an amazing job handling the panga

Connie’s daughter Tesla and her boyfriend Justin gifted Connie a very nice SCUBA setup, everything she’d need to dive.  In California this last summer we took that gear to a dive shop and were able to parlay it into two full rigs so that Connie and I could both dive.  Now in La Cruz we decided to take diving lessons and get certified in the process.  We looked at various high quality programs then found a cheaper option with Chico’s dive shop so we teamed up with Vicki and Lane on Adesso and the four of us did some studying then showed up at dawn at Chico’s on a Sunday morning.  

Rudolfo gave us a short verbal class standing on the sidewalk outside his shop.  We asked where the pool session would be and he just smiled.  Most of the dive instruction programs have you get into a swimming pool to practice with the gear before setting out on your open water dive.  But no, we walked down the beach and boarded a panga and went straight out to an anchored catamaran dive boat. Turns out that the “pool” was a very large pool.. the ocean. 

Dive master, Fausto
On the dive boat we met Fausto, our dive instructor.  He showed us how to connect our octopus to the tank and rig the BCD (buoyancy control device).  I’m getting nervous, looking at all this heavy gear that looks like it would take me straight to the bottom.  When we got to Los Arcos, a popular dive location just south of downtown Puerto Vallarta, one of the guys did a free dive with a fat rope in his hand and tied it off on a big rock 25 feet down.  All around us were other tour boats with pasty white gringos aboard planning on swimming or snorkeling or paddling.  

We got on our wetsuits, put on our weight belts, 16 lb for me and 8 lb for Connie.  This turned out to be too much for me and not enough for Connie.  Then the mask and flippers and the BCD with a huge aluminum tank on the back.  I stuck the mouth piece between my trembling lips and sure enough, I could suck air into my lungs.  Then Fausto had us get into the water.  Yikes!  But I did float.

Once Fausto joined us in the water he motioned for us to hold onto the anchor line and start to descend by holding a hose above our head and pressing a release valve.  Soon the water came up to my goggles, then I was underwater… and I was breathing.  Breathing pretty fast but I’m not drowned yet.  I started to descend, taking time to clear my sinuses every few feet. Connie fought her way under the surface by hauling herself down the anchor line.  I dropped like a rock.  Soon we found ourselves on the bottom doing the OK signal.  My pulse rocketed, my breaths came rapidly.  I kept saying to myself, “Don’t panic.”
Dive boat with panga towing astern

Our dive instructor had his hands full keeping the four of us together as one or another kept floating up towards the surface and he had to motion for the rest of us to stay put while he swam up to haul someone back down. Fausto found rocks on the bottom and started stuffing them into the BCDs for Vicki and Lane to hold them down better.  Once we got our buoyancy under control we went for a little underwater swim.  Fausto found a puffer fish and passed it around to the group. It was all quite magical and I forgot to panic, getting my breathing under control, and actually starting to enjoy the experience.

Vicki, Lane, Connie, Scott
To ascend, we found the anchor line again and went up hand over hand to the surface.  Then we inflated our BCDs so we would float at the surface.  The boat crew helped us get out of our weight belts, and BCD/air tanks so we could haul ourselves back aboard.  Whew!  That was an exhausting 45 minutes.

On the way to the next dive site, Fausto ( we were all beginning to really like this guy by now ) coached us as to what we’d do next.  After a quick snack we suited up again and this time took a giant step off the back of the boat.  I plummeted to the bottom and Connie fought her way down.  This time we had a sandy bottom so we practiced trying to hover in place with the tips of our flippers touching the sand and our chests rising and falling slightly with our breaths.  We then took a little swim around and by this time I was ready to stop this nonsense as my nose hurt from pinching it and my legs were starting to cramp. 
Vicki on lookout, with Connie being just cooler than hell and Lane getting his groove on.

We surfaced again and I flopped aboard like a wounded fish.  It was all smiles as we headed back to the beach for a Panga landing and short hike back to the shop to find Rudolfo who said he’d meet us there after the dive.  There was no Rudolfo so we found some NAUI books and a DVD to watch and a long worksheet to fill out and then caught a taxi back to La Cruz.  

The day had started before sunrise and ended in the dark so it was a very long day for us.  Later, back on Traveler Connie and I tried watching the DVD but it went on and on, too long and the hour was getting late.  We took the workbook and used the manual to look up all the answers and did our best to complete as much as we could before falling down at about 11:00 PM exhausted.

Day two started out like day one with a short intro from Rudolfo, a panga ride to the catamaran, and a delightful motor out to Los Arcos.  I’m tired. Connie, Vicki, and Lane are tired. But we had smiles on our faces and were ready to jump into the water when the boat got its mooring line tied around the rock.  The scene around Los Arcos was a madhouse with lots of small boats negotiating around swimmers in the water.  On this day we had about 6 other divers along on our boat and another 8 snorkelers, a crowded boat.  So Fausto, as dive master, had to pawn us off on Daniel for the day’s instruction while he attempted to keep track of 14 folks in the water.  Daniel turned out to be a very good instructor, being very thorough in his explanations. 
Daniel assisting Connie back aboard

We adjusted the weights, giving Connie extra and taking one off my belt.  After taking the giant stride off the boat we descended all together without the anchor line.  Down below we formed a circle and Daniel motioned for us to start our training procedures.  We took the regulator out of our mouths then put it back in, clearing it of water with a big puff.  Next we took the regulator and threw it away, found it again, purged it and started breathing again.  We repeated various scenarios of losing the regulator, watching each person do the drill in turn.  Without the extra weight I kept floating towards the surface and expended lots of energy trying to stay down.  I figure my weight to carry is not 16 lbs and not 12 lbs but probably 14 would be a perfect amount.

Next was the “out of air” drill.  I made a motion quite like getting my throat slit and Connie grabbed me and whipped out her secondary second stage regulator offering it to me. I took mine out of my mouth and grabbed hers and we buddy breathed together.  Then she wiggled her fingers and pointed upwards, the signal to proceed to the surface.  We started going up then Daniel grabbed my leg and we came back down.  I gave Connie back her spare regulator, cleared mine and started breathing through it again. 

Los Arcos dive location
We took a break up top then started our fourth and last dive.  At the bottom we assumed a yogi position, grabbing the tips of our flippers. This didn’t work so well for me so I just floated prone. Connie floated upside down.  The point of this exercise was to establish buoyancy so that we hovered in the water, not sinking and not rising.  With Daniel’s coaching I finally got it down and got the high five and fist bump.  My chest swelled with pride… and I started to rise uncontrollably. 

Yea Baby, That's what I'm talking about!
Next was the big challenge for us all: clearing the mask.  We started by letting a little water into the mask, then tilting the head back and exhaling through the nose to force the water out.  Then we let in more and finally filled it up.  At the end we had to remove the mask entirely and put it back on and clear it.  I shut my eyes and took off the mask, holding it at arm’s length.  Then I wrestled it back on getting my hair out of the way.  I tilted, I blew, and I opened my eyes to find they were underwater.  Stinging salt!  It took me a few tries to finally get the mask cleared.  In the meantime I swallowed about a quart of sea water through my nose.. yum!  Thank Dog that exercise was over.  I got the high five again and we headed across the sea floor looking for more depth.  Finally we surfaced a couple of hundred yards from the boat and she came over and picked us up.  

What did you get for Solstice?
Back at the shop we found Rudolfo who gave us a little review and we were done!  Finished. Certified. We found a taxi and headed back to La Cruz to rinse out our gear at the dock in darkness then dinghy out to Traveler where we collapsed, fatigued beyond belief.  It’s taken us two days to recover from all that physical activity and stress.  It remains to be seen just how much diving we will do but now we know that if we need to dive down to check the anchor or unwrap a line from the propeller we can do so.  We’ll also be able to clean that big keel.  Gosh, aren’t we growing up into the boater’s life quickly! 

So if you want to get certified and want to quickly get-er-done, head down to Puerto Vallarta and I’ll hook you up with the gang at Chico’s.  Just strap it all on and jump in!  Easy Shmeasy!
The next day was christmas eve

Friday, December 20, 2013

La Cruz revisited

Bandaras Bay, whale sightings, rough seas, and arrival at Punta de Mita.  Caught a big black fin jack then threw his exhausted self back.  Later lost the same lure to an unseen monster fish.

Slept in the rolly anchorage at Punta de Mita then had a wonderful sail into La Cruz.  Now ensconced here in the bay, with "sneak" internet off one of the beach-side hotels.  Getting Scuba certifications this Sunday at Chico's and taking the HAM exam at the end of the month. 

Connie points out the clogged holding tank vent
We are suffering the saga of the holding tank in the head.  We thought we'd emptied the tank in route, out in deep water but the outlet must have clogged so as we used it daily we finally filled it up so much that it clogged the vent at the top and put the whole shebang under pressure.  When we loosened the cap on deck it spewed.  Uck!

We went to the marina and got a pump out but now I have a holding tank with both the air vent and the outlet clogged.  Having problems getting access to both.  So we spend our days studying Scuba and radio and ripping out paneling in the head.

Each morning Connie takes the effluent out into deep water in the dinghy and dumps it.  Oh it is a grand life!
Santa is a little warm in his heavy coat.  Scott cools down with a lovely Negra Modelo

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Let loose at last

Saturday in Mazatlan found us well rested with a long task list completed.  We had grilled chicken, potato salad, slaw, chopped carrot and celery sticks and hard boiled eggs premade in the fridge.  The boat was   We had our credit cards paid off and our affairs in order.  I walked over to Total Yacht Works and paid Bob the remainder of what I owed him and we moved the Dolphin to a safe parking space, placing aluminum shades in all the windows and disconnecting the engine and house batteries.  The marina office settled with me, finding a discrepancy in the bill at the last moment, but I paid it with a smile and a good word.  We got showers and caught up on internet mail and such.
Traveler at sea
fully provisioned with food, water, and fuel.

Then at 2:00 PM we hugged our friends at the dock and cranked up the engine.  The spring and stern lines came off.  Then Nina, Hal and Joe slowly walked the boat backwards out of the slip, tossing the remaining lines aboard as the bow cleared the piling and I pointed her head to the west.  As we motored slowly through the marina Nina and Hal tooted horns and waved goodbye.  Connie was kept busy bringing all the lines and fenders back to the cockpit and rigging the headsail sheets through the turning blocks.  The mainsail cover was stowed below and we were ready for the sea.  Out past El Cid we glided through the smooth waters of the lagoon.  Then around the corner we saw the wide open sea. It was choppy, white-capping with a five foot swell, what one might call “brisk” conditions.  
I know this has nothing to do with our trip but isn't it refreshing to see our president shaking the hand of Raul Castro?  I dreamed about Barak Obama last night.  I was showing him around town.  And here I see him being very generous and very presidential and leaving behind 60 years of stupid US foreign policy nonsense. 

Traveler’s bow went straight into it as we ploughed over the bar (only 12 ft deep) and headed out.  This close to land and in relatively shallow water the swell seemed huge.  Soon we had wet decks as the bow plunged up and down shipping water down both side decks and around the stern.  “Yahoo!” , we screamed, holding  on tight.  In a quarter of an hour we were out a mile and started raising the mainsail.  Connie kept Traveler’s head to wind as I raised the main with the main halyard to the first reef point, slipping the ring over the hook and yelling back to her to take up the slack and tension the luff with the big mainsheet winch.  She grinded it tight and yelled out, “Made.”  With the topping lift tightened the boom was plenty high for me to haul in on the reefing line to the first reefing clew. Doing so, I noticed that the pawls on the decktop winch were not clicking.  Something to add to the repair list.  We loosened the topping lift, hauled in on the mainsheet and the main was set, double reefed.  Then we rolled out he big Genoa on the furler, hauled our wind to the starboard side and we were sailing on a beam reach heading south past the protective islands of Pẚjaros, Venados, and Lobos (Bird, Deer, and Wolf).   

Ensenada de Matanchen

We dodged two large freighters coming out of the old harbor then set about getting the Hydrovane self steering adjusted.  Soon we were well south of Mazatlan, on a broad reach with the vane doing all the steering and the crew reading in the cockpit. The control line on the Hydrovane broke where we had connected it so we knotted the two ends together to await a more permanent fix later.  Traveler loped over the seas at 5.5 knots, the swell taking her from the starboard quarter.  

I had taken two Bonine pills earlier so I had no worries about getting sea sick.  Connie stayed up deck to ward off the ‘male de mere’.  She noticed the genoa tack flopping around so we went forward and saw that the tack fitting had broken in two.  We dug through the excess hardware box and found two shackles that would suffice for a while and we installed these on the furler.  And so we sailed south as the sun arched across the sky and finally set in the west in a burst of orange, yellow, and violet.  With only three hardware failures the first afternoon out we felt pretty lucky and were looking forward to more hardy challenges in the days ahead.

Whale cooling her fin
At 19:00 (7:00 PM) Connie noted in the log, “Wind shift – lumpy seas.”  At 21:00 I came on shift after trying unsuccessfully to nap.  Later at 02:00 I jibed the headsail waking Connie who took her through the night the remaining distance to just north of Isla Isabella.  She observed in the log “7 shooting stars into the sea” at 03:00.  With the dawn, Connie went below to sleep and I decided to bypass the Island because of the rough sea conditions.  I felt that we’d not get very good sleep there with the swell so high.  The boat would probably be tossing us side to side.  Still sailing, we changed course more towards land and found the wind freshening at noon.  

The solar panels were reporting a positive 12 amps charge and the battery banks were still looking good.  With the vane doing the steering and the LED navigation lights drawing next to nothing, the only real draw we had on the batteries was the refrigerator compressor drawing its meager 3 amps per hour.  The GPS and VHF radio draw about one amp together.  We went below to the nav station each hour to record our position and plot it on a paper chart.   That way if we lost our electronic nav gear we could dead reckon from our last known position.  We do this on any overnight or long day, or anytime we are out of sight of identifiable known landmarks.  Needless to say, we also wore PFDs on deck at night, clipped in with tethers.  The rule is also that no one goes forward without the other watching from the cockpit.  During the day, in calm weather we forgo the PFDs if we stay in the cockpit and pursue a clothing optional policy as well. 

Chacala:  Traveler and her dinghy Guido with Panga looking on.
Twenty eight hours out of Mazatlan we dropped the anchor in Matanchen bay just south of San Blas.  The first thing I heard after we secured the anchor chain was the pop of a cork of Chilean red wine.  We stayed two nights at Matanchen, just resting up during the day, reading, playing music, and napping.  I had my first experience speaking on a Marine radio net on the single side band and found that I can legally talk on the Amigo net but not the Sonrisa net.  Time to take a radio test to get my amateur license!

Port Captain's office in Chacala
After spending a lay day at Matanchen we headed south down the coast to Chacala finding a couple of whales sunning their fins in the water as we coasted by fifty yards away.   The trip took less than six hours so we got into the rolly anchorage of Chacala with enough time to deploy our flopper stoppers and get settled in to watch yet another sunset.  After a rough night of me trying to squelch all the little tapping and rattling objects aboard we woke to the beautiful little town of Chacala with its fishermen coming into harbor in their little pangas at first light.  

Later we rigged the dinghy and motored to shore and checked in with the young, handsome port authority who spoke hesitant English but was very polite.  We walked to the fishing pier and bought a beautiful Sierra to have for dinner.  Fifteen Pesos is about a dollar and a quarter and is a good price for a half kilogram of fresh fish.  Connie is making ceviche as I write this blog entry on the laptop in the cabin.  We’ll go to shore soon to buy a tomato and some eggs and maybe we will find an internet place where we can send off this report.  

Later that day:

We are at a little seaside café named Chacmool,   Shhhh, don’t tell anyone, drinking cold Negra Modelos and plugged into their 120 volt power and wireless internet named cha cha cha with a password of 1234567898.

Beach musicians at Chacala
I cannot tell you how good it is to be back into the mode of hopping from one anchorage to another, watching the fish and birds, and visiting little towns along the way.  Wish you were here to share this experience.

By the way, you can... come visit, just let us know.
Connie talking to Tesla on the phone.  Connect!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Work Work Work

She even cleaned the radar screen!
It’s a doggone lot of work to get the boat “out of bed” and back cruising the waters.  We arrived in oven-like temperatures in early November and quickly set about cleaning her up.  Dust storms in August, fiberglass grinding in June, soot and dirt wafting off Mazatlan’s streets, birds dropping guano, and the devil herself contributed to a thick layer of gritty grime coating Traveler’s innards and outers.  Connie, ever the steadfast trooper, dove right in with soap and bucket and attacked the innards one compartment at a time.  Scrub the walls, scrub the ceiling, scrub the cabinets, inside and out, scrub the hundreds of louvers in the dozens of doors.  Get out the vacuum and suck every particulate out of the bilge.  Oil the acres of teak. 
Floorboards up, preparing to clean the fresh water tanks.

I started a task list simply titled “To Do” and it was a long, very long list.  The biggest thing on the list was to put fifty hours on our newly rebuilt diesel, Perkins 4-108.  Let me give you an idea of what it is like to run a Perkins 4-108 in the summer fall in Mazatlan.  It’s already 85 degrees in the cabin.  We start up a 1000 pound beast which quickly heats up to a 120 degree furnace with some parts measuring 200 degrees.  The beast puts out a clambering uproar like the devils from hell clanging on their iron prison bars.  Amidst all this heat and racket we two humans try to go about checking off checklist items.  We check off items and I add new items to the list as we discover something else broken or needing attention.  Cold cerveza gets consumed.  After a week of this we left off breaking in the engine and concentrated on keeping cool and checking items off the list.  And we planned an offshore Perkins 4-108 breaking in voyage.
Water tank scummy inside. Ugh!

Once we got the boat relatively clean and all the gear somewhat, half-assed, well stowed we left the dock at 9:00 AM one morning and headed out to sea.  Once past the breakwater we encountered some moderate swell as Traveler dipped and wiggled her way north, straight into it.  We revved her up to 2800 RPM and held her there for the next 30 hours.  A few hours out I felt a little queasy so I sat as still as possible in the cockpit watching the only thing that was not moving, the horizon.  Soon, Connie joined me, pale as a ghost, and then we both sat there in the back of the boat as she corkscrewed her way plowing north into the wind and waves.  Clearly we had no sea legs.  We ate crackers and drank water and waited for time to pass.

Water tank clean inside. Yum!
Every three hours I turned off the engine and we coasted as I pulled up the floorboards and checked the oil level.  The first check, we were a half quart down so I added a half liter.  There are no quarts in Mexico so that’s what I had to do.   Joke.  At hour six, pitching and yawing I added another half liter.  Let me note that as the boat loses her forward motion she still has steerage for a minute or two.  Then she sits dead in the water and with a north wind and north swell she slowly turns sideways facing west or east and she begins to roll violently side to side. There I am sitting on the floor of the cabin with my working surface canting 20 degrees one way then 20 degrees the other, reaching over a very hot engine trying to spill fresh oil into the 2 inch filler hole.  Flashlight in my mouth, I finished the pour then started to gag so I took the flashlight out of my mouth and Ploop! she rolled right into the bilge under the engine, her little LCD light burning brightly.  From then on through the night when I checked the oil I could see my little trusty flashlight underwater in the bilge shining bright.  What a trooper!

Favorite flashlight
By the end of the second quart liter the engine stopped using oil.  I checked the oil and couldn’t get a good reading on the dip stick.  So I presumed it needed its regular half liter so I added it and checked again.  The stick looked pretty oily.  I wiped it off, by this time tossing violently side to side.  I inserted the stick partially, not all the way in… and I got a good reading… and I figured out that it was true, she had not consumed any more oil and I had just overfilled her.  This is not a good thing to do as it puts too much pressure on the rear seal.  So I set about pumping out a half liter of oil from the engine, a messy endeavor in a tossing sea.  I was so pleased that she wasn’t burning any oil.  That meant that the rings had finally seated properly.  My pleasure overcame my discomfort as Traveler rocked violently.  Connie yelled from the cockpit, “How’s it going?”, otherwise interpreted as “WTF are you doing down there?”
One of my favorite pictures of Connie. WTF!

At 2:00 AM Connie started her shift with a group of dolphins surfing around our bow wave.  In the dark, moonless night the phosphorescent trails of the dolphins twisted and zoomed around our starboard forward quarter.  Quite magical. 

The next day, bleary eyed from lack of sleep, we turned around and headed back toward Mazatlan from 75 miles out at sea.  We felt better, sea-sick-wise so Connie spent the morning baking an apple pie and making tamales.  Ten miles out Connie called my on deck with the shout of “Whale sighting!”  A big grey was just off our starboard bow, arching her back and blowing air.  She was accompanied by a large group of dolphins slicing through the water with their dorsal fins in the air.  The big grey got her breath then took a big dive, her flukes soaring up in the air before disappearing into the deep.  We arrived back at the dock by noon to take a nap and get ready for a vegan Thanksgiving dinner with friends.   No, we are not vegan but we enjoy meatless days when we can, and that whole thing about Thanksgiving being a time when the Europeans actually got along with the natives is such a scam.  Here, let’s have dinner together then we’ll set about destroying your culture and taking your land.

Bob torques the head bolts and adjusts the valves.
As I write this our list is down to one major item and it is being taken care of as I write this post.  Bob is here re-torqueing the heads, adjusting the valves, changing the oil and installing a new oil pressure sensor and alarm.  Everything else is done. Done. DONE!  And we will be free of the dock at last.  

Gotta put in a plug here for Bob Buchanan at Total Yacht Works.  He's a careful, experienced, fair, and easy going guy.  Great to work with.  Traveler is a much better running yacht because of Bob and his crew. 

Other folks we have talked to say it takes two to four weeks to get the boat cleaned, provisioned, repaired and maintenanced (not sure if this is an actual word) so we don’t feel too bad taking all this time to get ready.  We see folks just arriving from the states or Canada to re-join their boats after the summer season. They are all cleaning, repairing, and doing much the same stuff we are.  When someone finally finishes getting ready to sail Connie and I try to see them off the dock blowing our hand held air horns and making a big racket to make it seem like the celebration it is.  Tomorrow we get the send off!

Some of the neat things we accomplished:
Cleaning out the old compressor compartment
  • Removed the old refrigerator compressor and cleaned out that compartment, painted it, and created a nice wine storage cabinet that holds about two cases, port side, mid-ships.   Traveler is listing to the starboard so anything on the port side just helps to get her more upright.  A good reason to buy more wine.  Now in the future she will sit upright at the beginning of a voyage and as we drink our way through the wine collection poor Traveler will begin to list more and more to the starboard till we limp into the dock for provisioning and “axis adjustment.”
  • We relocated the spare alternator, starter, water pump and other accessories from the center of the boat to the port side settee, thus helping with the listing.  
  • I took apart the carburetor on the Honda generator and cleaned the main jet so it would run again.  Always completely drain gasoline from any engine when you leave it for the summer. 
    Now a pristine wine cellar
  • We went up the mast and replaced the missing windex indicator.
  • We dug out miles of old wiring and tubing from the bilge and storage compartments.
  • I studied and experimented with the cryptic settings on the voltage regulator in hopes of resolving our alternator charging failures.
  • We mounted three new solar panels on top of the dodger.  Needed to get an MC4 connector that I forgot to buy in Reno.  That was a problem til I found Tom at Mazatlan Solar to help me out.
  • I rebuilt the Y valve in the head.. twice!
  • Connie removed varnish from hundreds of square feet (seemed like it) of teak in the cockpit.
  • Connie put twenty seven (seemed like it) coats of new varnish on our new settee down in the cabin.
  • I entered our new MMSI number into the VHF radio and now we get a loud alarm every four hours, something I still need to resolve but, damn it, this will NOT keep us from sailing!
  • We filled the tanks with diesel and the jerry cans with gasoline.
    MC4 connector
  • We opened up the floorboards and unbolted all inspection ports on the stainless steel water tanks, then on our bellies, wiped them out thoroughly so we could refill with fresh water. 
  • The dinghy got inflated, engine mounted and taken for a spin.  I also fixed a broken paddle for her.
  • We dragged the huge genoa out of the vee berth and wrestled her onto the forestay, testing the roller furler.
  • A turning block had self-destructed so I had Bob make me up a new sheeve and we mounted that.
  • Everything came out of the Dolphin and everything came out of Traveler and we gave away a treasure in unwanted junk.   Now the Dolphin is ready to be parked for 6 months and the waterline on Traveler is an inch higher. 
  • I sold lots of stuff at the marina garage sale. 
  • I’m sure there were lots of little things we fixed and cleaned.  Lubricated everything and anything too rusty was tossed away. 

We’ve learned to appreciate Banda music, a form of Mexican brass band music very popular here in Mazatlan.  It’s like crazy New Orleans Jazz mixed with traditional Marachi.  These musicians really get wailing and when they do the amount of sound is just crazy.  Fantastic!  At night we can sit on the back deck or be down below reading and hear the horns blasting across the water.  Because it is cooler up deck we usually dine at the table in the cockpit to the light of a candle as we wind down from the day and let the cabin temperature chill down.  Now that December is here the nighttime temperatures are getting into the low 70s and sleeping is good with a light sheet or blanket. 
Cruising friends at La Isla Palapa

We’ve been going to the Isla Palapa, a local hangout, on Sundays to hear Cheryl Goudet, a local musician.  The last two Sundays Connie has joined her and added percussion to the set along with vocal harmonies.   I love seeing Connie play.  It makes her very happy. 
Bill on bass, Cheryl on guitar and vocals, Connie on percussion.

We met lots of folks on the dock and became friends as we all cleaned and fixed by day and visited by night.  Now we’ll meet those new friends again down south as we make our way down the Costalegre.  At the end of it all we now stand prepared to make our exit. Some friends have already left the dock. Some will leave next week. Some will stay through the holidays and some will stay here forever.  

We’ll take the well-earned cash we made in California, now converted to Pesos, and try our best to make it last through the winter as we hop down the coast, no deadlines, no rush.  Lots of cold beer in the fridge and a mountain of vino tinto (wine red) on the port side locker.  Traveler, she’s ready for the open sea, sitting even on her keel, happy to swim again following the whales and dolphins south for the winter.

Ain't life grand?