Sunday, February 27, 2011

Life As Usual

So why has it taken me so long to do a blog update???  Well... it's just life as usual! 

The sun rises at 7:45 a.m. so it's hard to drag myself out of bed before 8:30!  Then there is the morning radio net to check into and listen to- otherwise you would not know who is coming and going, who has what for sale, who needs something you can provide (or vise-versa) or what is happening around town!  We then check email while sipping coffee or tea (just in case someone has written...) and recently we have been answering a slew of puddle jump email questions, updating rosters, and organizing radio nets and departure dates (one boat has already left!)!  It's then time to head up the dock to the showers which are a solid five minute walk away IF nobody stops you to talk along the way (or if you don't forget your key).  Since somebody always has some important early morning dissertation to share, it's at least an hour before you find yourself scrubbed, talked out and returning to the boat while trying to prioritize boat projects for the day!  By now it's at least 11:00 a.m.!  Life as usual!

Yesterday I left Corie and Neal to scrub the boat while I took the bus into P.V. to search out a music store for cuerdos para mi guitarra.  In my furious practicing I had broken a string and we were having a Puddle Jumpers jam session last night so off I went!  On a good day, it takes about an hour to get into Vallarta by bus from La Cruz.  Well, yesterday the bus driver had to stop for gas on the way into Vallarta which added an extra 15 minutes to the trip.  That did, however, allow a couple of musicians to hop on the bus and play a couple of guitar songs and then walk the aisle with palms out for donations.  At the next stop another guy hopped on the bus and passed out key chains with pink flamingos attached and a note that said he was deaf.  Before the following stop he passed each passenger again and either collected the flamingo or ten pesos.... what would you have done?  The ride was long but at least it was entertaining!  The only entertainment on the return bus trip later that afternoon was that the bus driver got a ticket!  I'm not really sure why, but maybe it was because he couldn't get the bus doors closed.... the passengers standing in the aisle and the little kids sitting up front on the bus dashboard console were holding on for dear life!  Life as usual!

Earlier in the week, in order to distract ourselves from feeling blue over Caity and Danny leaving La Cruz (we had a very fun six days together!) we sailed Rutea to Yelapa.  Yelapa is eighteen miles across Banderas Bay (on the south side) and is accessible only by boat.  Romeo zoomed out to meet us in his panga and convinced us that he had the best moorings in Yelapa and the price also included a panga ride through pounding surf into the beach (we never would have made it in our dinghy!).  Built on the side of a steep cliff, Yelapa hangs on the hillside in a dense palm and hardwood tree forest.  Narrow cobblestone lanes traverse the hillside and while we walked up and down them, we passed others traveling via horseback or ATVs.  After hiking to the waterfall up above the town, we meandered the streets peeking through beautiful bouganvillea covered walls and courtyards out to incredible vistas of Banderas Bay.  Life as usual!

After a very rolly night on the mooring we headed to the "relative" calm of Punta de Mita where we anchored just off two of Corie's favorite surf spots- El Anclote y El Faro.  On the way over we tested our new auto pilot, practiced "heaving to" and flew our spinnaker while ooohing and ahhhing over breaching Humpback whales!  Three days of boat projects and testing all systems (again) while on the hook allowed us to check a few things off of The List and add a few new things to The List!  Corie got in a little surfing and Neal traveled to a seminar on the two perfect-weather days but one of the days was so windy that we couldn't leave the boat.

So finally tonight after a pretty quiet Sunday- well there was a pretty steady stream of people stopping by to examine the polishing job that Corie and I are doing on the stainless (yes, we are polishing the stainless on a 50 foot boat with a toothbrush...)- I find the space to update my blog and try to convey a slice of life as usual.  Or, is it?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Still Lots to Learn

Eye Splice in Double Braid

The topping lift for our mizzen boom was fraying badly and after 25 years of faithful service, needed to be retired.  However, the previous lift was spliced onto the shackle and I had never been successful splicing the double braid line.  Even though there are riggers in the area, I decided that it was time for me to learn this skill.
Whereas I have detailed instructions, they're almost impossible to follow.  My first attempt was a complete failure so on the second attempt, I had Ruthie read them out loud to me.  Between the two of us, frequently shaking our heads in disbelief, we managed a successful splice.  This morning I tried it by myself and was able to produce a relatively fair eye splice in not too long a time.

I've almost installed all of the parts that we had shipped to us from San Diego.  The new auto pilot is installed but still needs to be sea trialed.  The new computer monitor is great and slightly larger than the old one (old!  Hah! It had only been installed for six months before it failed.  I bought it because it was supposed to be designed for 'rough service'.  It's replacement was a third of the price.).  We now have a new, shiny boom vang for the main (along with  new double braid line and a not-too-bad eye splice) replacing the one that had broke during a nasty uncontrolled jibe.  I have still yet to install the new propane sniffer but that shouldn't take too long.  All in all, I'm very please with our level of preparation.  In fact, it's possible that we're getting too well prepared.

Caity and Danny are visiting this week and we're having fun with them.  Last night we played Mexican Train for the first time and, suprise!  I won.  Of course, I was accused of cheating as I was the one who kept score but I referred all accusations to my attorney.  They'll never prove a thing.

We continue our duties as Coordinators for the 2011 Puddle Jump to the South Pacific and people are being nice to us even when we let a detail or two slip through the cracks.  The first boat is leaving for the Marquesas on the first of March and could quite likely be there before we leave.  The excitement is building . . .

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Count Down Continues

Photo by Andy Turpin of Latitude 38
Used without permission

The sailing magazine, Latitude 38, hosted a Kick-Off Party for those boats jumping off to the South Pacific.  They fed us pupus and beer.  It was OK but more of a seminar than a party.  I think most of the cruisers were looking for an opportunity to cut loose and enjoy lots of their favorite beverages but it was too organized for that.  We left early and went to the grocery store instead.

But our own preparations are coming along nicely.  I had installed the auto pilot on Rutea fifteen years ago and didn't think much about it as I have a spare part for every component.  However, while sailing away from San Jose del Cabo, the compass controller failed.  Not really a big deal as I had a spare and it took only a couple of minutes to replace it.  However, now we no longer have a spare and there are none available anywhere (the manufacturer went out of business long ago).  So, I decided to replace the working auto pilot with a new one and retire the old one as a spare in the event that the new one fails - something that auto pilots are prone to do.  It's one thing to replace it while sitting comfortably at the dock, it would be altogether different if we were 2,000 miles off shore.  Many boats have made the passage without any auto pilot but it doesn't sound like fun.

Corie is getting lots of surfing in while Ruthie and I continue in our roles as coordinators for this year's fleet.  We've finally got the t-shirts figured out (only two weeks left to place your order!) and there's only a half dozen or so seminars left.  It still looks like we'll be jumping off in late March.

OK, enough goofing off!  There's work to be done!

Fair winds.