Cabo San Lucas, Mexico to Hawaii
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General Comments on the Leg

This leg had lots of fun and lots of very hard work. We did not get to see much of Mexico but discovered that we like to stay a while in one place to really relax and learn about that location. We stayed in Mazatlan for a little over 4 months and got lots done to the boat and lots of homework completed. The people there were great and the city itself was always interesting to us. We wished we had gotten up to the La Pas area of the sea but not this trip. Oh well it will give us a reason to come back.

21 June 07

Radio Bay, Hilo Harbor, Hawaii

Well we made it but of course it was a Proteau adventure. The Pacific Ocean is a very big place when you cross it at 6 kts. It took us 5 days just to get out of the Sea of Cortez due to lack of wind and in fact we gave up after 4 days and ran 100 miles north to Cabo to find out where the wind was. Once there the wind showed up in abundance and after anchoring for just one night we refueled and watered the boat and plunged out into it again. The delay although frustrating did provide us the opportunity to see lots of wildlife again. Turtles, dolphins and a first for us, flocks of flying fish.

Leaving Cabo in 30 kt winds and 12 ft breaking seas was a bit of a change from the flat calm the day before and about 300 miles south of Cabo is where we were able to start to seriously turn out into the Pacific as by then the wind had changed to N from NW. Well below us to the SE was Hurricane Barbara which was causing the wind down the coast line and out to our SW at 14 Lat and 118 Long was Tropical Depression Alvin moving west slowly. I needed to push the boat west as fast as possible and try and avoid going south as much as possible which if it worked meant that we would slide over Alvin within 4 or 5 days. I suspected that Alvin would not amount to much and in fact it petered out fairly quickly but did not want to take any chances. Although that second week the wind was strong out of the North and we moved well doing 140 to 160 Nm per day. Unfortunately the autopilot gave up the ghost the second day out and it was 2500 miles of hand steering for us. Plus with the strong wind came a good swell which abeam meant lots of water across the deck and cabin day and night. Five days out we were beat so I hove the boat to for a night and we all got a good nights sleep. The lack of an autopilot changed the trip from work to lots and lots of work. There was no moon and most of the trip was under clouds day and night so the night watches were long and difficult with just the glow of the compass and GPS to stare at.

The third week was finally in the trade winds with a steady NE wind and the motion on the boat eased somewhat. At left is sunset about half way across. The closest land is about 1400 miles away if you don't count the bottom below you. At that point is was over 14,000 ft deep or roughly 3 miles straight down. We were surprised at how much the wind velocity changed each day. I had been hoping for a steady 15 kts but each day it varied. During this week the nights and mornings had variable winds and lots of cloud cover. The afternoons were windy with a bit of sun. By the end of the week the trades had really picked up and daily were a steady 25 kts sometimes gusting to 30. This brought big swells and as we called them double decker foamy busses on the top of the swells. These breakers were just waiting to get you if you wandered off course as they tended to come out of the north and were off the main wave train. Let the boat weather helm a bit and wham they would broadside you when you weren't looking. One hit us when I was on the helm and wandering and so much water cascaded over the boat the sun was blotted out of the sky. It was just a wall of water thundering onto the cabin and off the doors and windows of the cockpit. Again we hove to this week due to fatigue but with the swell size neither Laurie or I got a good rest. However the kids did so that worked ok. Billy commented that it was like riding a roller coaster with the hills coming up behind to get you.

Once out of the Sea there was nothing to look at for days on end. If a rare bird showed up it brought everyone on deck. The only distraction was flying fish which landed on the deck daily and were constantly around the boat. Their gliding ability is amazing. Tommy at right above on the helm once again on another boring afternoon watch.

Just about everything broke on the trip and the daily maintenance in between helm watches was tiring. Along with the autopilot (which could not be repaired) was such things as both Genoa fairlead's disintegrating, the Genoa itself blew out, the 18 ft Jib blew out (was sewn back together), boom sheet assembly broke (rebuild with some spare aluminum), lazy jacks lines broke (ignored), hatch latches broke and on and on. None of it too critical but it was a strain to stay on top of. Hatches leaked and the daily bailing of the Alma's was an off watch routine.

The final week was the most frustrating as the trades died for most of the each day. We ghosted along at night at 4 kts with rain squall after rain squall drenching the boat. No more screaming along at 9 kts with surfing to 13 down the swells (quite the ride and has to be experienced at least once in your life). At left above is Laurie trying to rest in our very dirty and salty bed. Everything got damp and stayed damp until landfall. At right is me straining to see the Island of Hawaii. We were about 90 miles away and with 13000 ft mountains you would think we could see it but no, too much cloud cover. We were less than 20 miles from it before the clouds parted enough to see Hilo itself. The final 200 miles we motor sailed as the crew was getting mighty anxious.

Finally here with the anchor down on the 20 of June. It is very green when the sun shines and hot and humid. At left is the breakwater entrance buoy into Hilo harbor. The port is very busy but in our little area it is quiet and has good holding, no worries about dragging. People are very friendly and helpful which was a blessing on our first day in port. What a good nights sleep we all had last night. We're thinking about renting a car for a few days to see the island but first must clean up the boat as best we can before we head to Honolulu to buy West Marine dry. TTYL

25 May 07

Mazatlan Mexico

Well we're off to Hawaii tomorrow finally. The buddy boat option did not work out so we're doing it alone which is still ok for us. Laurie has the boat stuffed with food and water so no worries there. In the first week were heading SW towards Ilsas Revillagigedo which is roughly 400 miles fom Mazatlan and 300 miles from the Mexican mainland; just south of 19 lat. We plan of passing just North of them as we turn to go West. The prevailing winds in this area is N and it will be another 300 or 400 miles before the wind bends around to the NE and pushes us towards Hawaii, so the first week will probably be the toughest. Once in the trades it is a run hopefully all the way. Overall we're excited and apprehensive as we always are before a leg. I can't thing of anything else to fix or replace on the boat so we must be ready to go!

Kitty has a good home but we will miss the little bugger. Wish us luck and we will talk to you 3 or 4 weeks.

 

22 May 07

Mazatlan Mexico

We're shooting for this Saturday to leave for Hawaii. The weather out there is benign with light winds all the way across. It has been that way for weeks. Laurie is down to the panic shopping now. The boat is stuffed with food and drinks. We will not starve that is for sure but still she heads out daily to shop some more. The kitten (Mal or Lucky or Hey Cat!) has melted even cold Billy's heart as well as everyone else's. It now eats like a pig and grows in front of your eyes. Another cruiser here who also has a condo is breaking the idea of a kitten slowly to her better half and hopefully it will all go well for the adoption. The little guy is adorable and if there was anyway we could do it we would take him home. Hawaii is very tough on this though so he stays in Mexico sadly.

The boat is almost ready and we're ready but at the last minute another cruiser who was suppose to have already left for Hawaii but was delayed in Cabo, is on route back to Mazatlan and wants to Buddy Boat across. Always better to travel in packs they say so hopefully when they arrive here this week it will work out that we can cross together. Tomorrow Pacific Cloud is going day sailing to try all the new stuff out and exercise the sailing rust out of the skipper and crew. All the standard drills will be gone through such as Man Over Board, Emergency Tiller, AutoPilot, Radar Alarm and Bearing, etc. Plus each day the winds are a lovely 10 to 15 knots now so it should just be a darn good day to go for a sail.

The trip will probably take 21 days as the winds are quite light but if they puff a bit we should be able to beat that. Who knows really though as it is all up to the weather. We will post right before we leave so TTYL.

 

 

 

 

16 May 07

Mazatlan Mexico

Quite a few events and interesting twists since our last report. First we're in the water and the boat is back at Marina Mazatlan again. Everything appears to be fine but of course it will take some time to clean her up as the dirt is inches thick on her. Power washing at the yard just took the big chunks off. All the upgrades and repairs appear to be great. The change to the prop (at left is the shiny new thing) has definitely increase her speed which is good news and she is dry throughout which is tremendous.

The week was not uneventful though as last Saturday when Tommy and Billy were surfing at a small beach in the south part of the city, Tommy stepped on a sting ray which inflicted a very nasty wound in the bottom of his foot. It was incredibly painful and after managing to get him home via a taxi, Laurie was in the process of trying to find a clinic or hospital to take him to when our upstairs and downstairs neighbors came to the rescue as well as the locals. Randy from upstairs who can speak Spanish was told by a local women where the Red Cross clinic was and he took all three of them in his truck (plus the woman who insisted she come to direct him) to the clinic where they gave Tommy a number of shots to counter the pain etc. Tommy is a tough kid but the level of pain really got to him. Many of the locall kids saw how much in pain he was in and became very concerned. Randy's wife Sonya explained the situation and got them to slow down a bit as they were trying to figure out a way to follow them to the clinic. Joseph and Fran from downstairs brought up ice cream floats after they got home which made Tommy feel better all around. I of course was at the yard the whole time and missed it all. After a couple of days Tommy has recovered enough to get back out bike riding.

The locals have taken our kids to their hearts and have given our boys so many great experiences which will last a very long time indeed. This picture taken from our balcony is of our boys and the locals hanging on the corner, jumping bikes with no brakes over a makeshift ramp in between the "carros". They've taken them to the movies, to their dirt biking area, down to the docks to see what the fishermen are catching, all around the neighborhood, and with all the family members they have taken them for long walks on the Malecon which is the lovely walkway along the beach. They spend a great amount of time teaching Billy spanish (Tommy just wants to jump bikes) and just chatting. He keeps telling them he is leaving on our Barco (which means boat) to Hawaii shortly and they nod knowingly but he doubts they really understand what he is talking about as it seems to be beyond their experience.

One of the yard workers who has made a great attempt to learn more english off us, plus teach us spanish also surprised us. Just before we were dropped in the water he presented us with a large chunk of swordfish. This man is 38 years old and makes the equivalent of $12 US per day, He also works another job most nights, has three kids from 8 to 14 years old and his wife works also to makes ends meet. This type of fish is highly sought after and is quite expensive for them to purchase. They're amazingly giving people here once you get to know them.

We also have a new crew member! Meet Malvinas or Mal for short. We were put in the water on Tuesday afternoon. Once in the water we took the boat North to Marina Mazatlan which took around 3 hours. We then tied up and left the boat for the apartment. Today we went back to the boat and started to clean her. Tommy was pulling the blankets off Billy's bed when he shot out of the hatch to tell Laurie something was moving down there. Billy and I found it under the blankets. It has a few fleas but other than that it looks ok. The thinking now is that someone dropped the kitten off in the morning before we got to the yard as no mother cat with a kitten in her mouth could have gotten to our boat with the amount of dogs in the yard. They love to chase the only cat we have seen down there and if they caught it there is no doubt they would kill it. Now what do we do! We don't think it is more than 3 weeks old as its eyes are barely open.

What goes into this website really is only the major highlights of our stay here in Mazatlan. We have had so many other great experiences here and if I tried to explain them all it would take pages of writing. It seems strange now to be actively planning to leave but leave we must and that is where our focus will be for the next while. TTYL

9 May 07

Mazatlan Mexico

Fiebre, (rot) fiebre, fiebre, here there and everywhere/The back deck had some softness and after the first cut it got much worse. Many of the main frames and stringers in the stern cabin plus the plywood around it had dry rot. Ouch what a mess once it was cut out. At left is what was left after the chainsaw attack. After much discussion with a Shipwright the repair was executed. At right top and bottom is the the main re-framing completed and my love of 3M's 4200 Marine Adhesive is complete and forever. I can't wait to try there new 5200 Adhesive which is suppose to be so strong you can glue sails back together.

Below left is after the plywood has been attached and today I got the fiber glassing done and much of the bondo work started. What a tough week or two. The weather now is normally peaking at 35 C each day and the yard is busy with two sandblasting units going constantly which is equivalent to a jet engine roaring beside you all day long. I can only guess at how hot it is in those sandblasting suits.

Below left is what is left of my Cutlass Bearing after two days of beating on it to get it out. Needless to say I've got a new one; the housing was re-bored and my prop shaft was replaced with a brand new stainless steel one all done up and very pretty to match my very pretty new prop.

At right is the after hours picture of my lunch counter outside the yard. This family run operation has provided us with the best food we have tasted in Mexico. The mangy dogs beg around the table and under your feet. Trucks passing by over the dirt rode provide a nice dust to add to the flavour. Flys abound and there is no running water so washing of dishes is suspect; yet we have never gotten sick there. The family is very friendly and pleased that we enjoy the food so much. The sea food is to die for and Tommy has stated it is the best food he has ever tasted. The seafood can be shrimp or a local fish or conch or calamari depending on what is available. Somedays it is only Carne Asada which is a beef of sorts but always done in a way that is great. One of the women who works there does nothing but make fresh tortillas all day long on top of a old oil drum, now wood fired stove, and its' convex metal top. They come to us piping hot and delicious. I have tasted a new dish each day as I have no idea what I'm getting until it is on the table. Lunch is 30 pesos and includes a main course which is a meat dish, rice and vegetables and a side dish of beans of some sort; usually refried but better than any I have tasted before. plus a coke and endless tortillas; and each day I give them a tip which embarrasses them every time.

The boys have finally gotten to know the local kids and right now are chilling on the corner with their posse. Kids called Alejandro, Diego, Steven, Omar and of course Pollo (Chicken) have adopted our children and they play endless games of soccer, biking, dodge the car and other endearing activities. The numbers of kids is enormous and constantly changing up and down depending on the hour of the day. The laughter and constant happy but loud sounds emanating from the street are wonderful to hear. Both boys have been impressed with the local kids soccer skills. They're amazingly quick and very talented. The kids here are very polite and well behaved. They showed up at the door today and formally introduced themselves to Laurie one after another. Besides all the grammas have free rein to correct any kids behavior and no fault goes unnoticed. Billy showed them the laptop he calls his (It is my navigation computer and has disappeared into his room for way too long) and they were very impressed that one he had a computer and two, it had the internet. The impression we get is that this is quite rare down here which would make sense due to the number of computer internet cafe's around the area. The day consists of their family, friends and neighborhood which is all they seem to need.

Overall this has been a wonderful experience even including the yard. Much that has bothered me about the boat has now been repaired and the future looks bright. By Monday next the bottom paint will be on and Tuesday is launch day. I excited to get her back in the water but in some ways it will be sad as the yard has become a home of sorts which I will miss. TTYL

26 Apr 07

Mazatlan Mexico

Here is a run down of what the work in the yard has been to date. The last week or so has been hard but well worth it. The bow areas after repair and reglassOnce out of the water we found, unsurprisingly, damage to the below waterline fiberglass areas on all the bows and both stern alma's.This damage has caused persistent slow leaks into the hulls and it drove me crazy. The picture to the left is after the fix, re-glass and first coat of epoxy sealer.

A large area of the main hull was delaminating and there were many small areas that required re-fiberglassing At right is the re-glass and epoxy sealer coat on the large area.

I also dropped the rudder and tore out all the rudder post assembly to repack and re-bed properly so it would finally stop leaking. The bolts holding the bedded portion had all broken in their holes and the assembly was epoxied in not bedded with caulking, so even if the bolts were not broken no amount of tightening was going to stop the slow leak of water by it. We're replacing the cutlass bearing and switching props from a folding to a 17" two bladed fixed with 11 degrees of pitch. Will this improve our speed? I don't know but I had the prop already and it was taken to a local prop shop for the increased pitch and balancing. It came back very pretty. I hope it improves our speed as we can barely do 4 knots at 2500 rpm right now.

After sounding all the hulls we found two small areas on the main hull that had dry rot so they got chopped out. At left is the first hole which got bigger by the way. At right is the two repair patches and Billy outfitted for sanding which he did non stop for 6 days. What a trooper. The Yard Foreman was so impressed with his work ethic, as were the rest of the workers, he made a point of coming over and specifically telling us what a good worker he was and how he wished he could give him a job at the yard. The only problem with this is that the pay is $6.00 per day.

In the port alma where the hull had been partially rebuilt a number of years ago, the butt joints between plywood in one area did not have proper backing blocks so the old ones were cut out and replaced with a proper system. Prior to install we flatted the area correctly and bedded the plates with lots of 4200 and screws. That will take the flex out of her.

In the stbd cockpit I found a rotten frame which required quite a rebuild to ensure a strong structural joint between the alma and main support beam. At left is the hole after it was all cut out and at right is the sister frame, support blocks and deck framing secured waiting for the deck and re-glass

 

We must of have impressed the locals down here because some strange things have been occurring. Normally the yard is responsible for anything below the waterline. I asked them in the beginning if I could do all the work but still get them to prime and paint the hulls. They reluctantly agreed as right now their not too busy and they have workers standing around. After watching us work many of the workers have made it a point to come and talk to us and help out with suggestions or little tricks of the trade. A couple have taken Billy under the wing and guided him Our New Sun (soon Rain)  Awningthrough different jobs often showing him an easy way of getting the job down. That alone has been a great help to me. The strangest and the nicest so far was when I went to the Yard Foreman to talk to him about getting the hulls painted plus order the paint. We were discussing the local paint and costs. Other boats were paying $250 to $400 a gallon for paint. We were prepared for this as everyone up north told us we were going to get hosed on paint down here but the labour costs would be much less. Suddenly the Foreman takes his card and writes on it a company name, the products I required and amounts. He quietly says I should go and talk to them as if he orders the paint he would have to add some cost to it so this way I can keep the price down. The company is just up the road and quoted me $125 a gallon. It is good tropical antifouling paint. These small kindnesses from the locals after you get to know them leave a very positive lasting impression on us. TTYL

21 April 07

Mazatlan Mexico

Well we're on the hard at Malvina's boatyard.and it is quite an experience all around. We've moved into a truly Mexican apartment in the old part of town called Centro while the boat is in the yard. We're about 3 blocks up Icebox hill and away from the main mercado (market). It took us a couple of days to figure out the new bus routes but now it is a simple bus ride in the morning for Billy and I to and from the yard. The yard is no different than most I have seen except for the local yard dogs, wild cats (and we mean really wild) plus the odd chicken tied by a string to the underside of a car. Just outside it's gates are a few dusty and dirty taco stands one of which has become our lunch hangout. Each lunch hour Billy and I make our way there and each meal is a mystery until it arrives on the table. No one there speaks any english at all but we have figured out that each day is a different seafood dish or Carne Asada which is bbq thin slices of meat. The meals have been with out a doubt the best food we have tasted in Mexico! The shrimp if it is camarone day are peeled in front of you. The fish if it is pescado day are scaled and cleaned also in front of you just before they are dipped in batter and deep fried then they arrive whole to your table with fresh made tortillas and salsa to die for. We have had three different shrimp dishes and each has been unbelievable. The meals are huge and cost 25 peso's or $2.50 plus .60c for a coca which is the litre cokes. It is very primitive, dusty, noisy roadside stand where you have to bring your own cutlery or eat with your hands. Of course we love it plus the people there are friendly to a fault. We can barely walk back to the boat.

The work we're doing to the boat is hard hot dirty work and the yard workers are very impressed at how hard we work especially Billy. They 'er use to Gringos leaving their boats and coming back to a completed project. It is not Gringo Dogcheap to have the boat pulled here but when it is all said and done the cost will be 1/3 less than the cost up north. A yard dog called Gringo Dog has adopted us and sleeps under our boat each day mainly because we don't kick him. For all their bluster about yelling at the local animals the locals don't let them go hungry. We often see different people bring food out and quietly feed the animals as if they're worried someone might think they're soft for doing it. However the animals generally are in poor shape and are as mangy as you can get.

After a few days of watching us work many of the yard workers now spend time with us discussing our boat and others in the yard, telling us about their life and family and we explain our trip and where we're going next etc. It is in a mixture of english and spanish and always fascinating. They have a hard time understanding the distances involved and once they found out the education level that I had they were quite surprised that I would be doing this type of work. The work on the boat is long overdue and I'm glad were getting to it. A local American Shipwright is advising us and in spite of this weird flu that has flared up again we're making progress. I'm running a fever once more and Laurie has me on drugs which are starting to kick in and hopefully it will clear it up.

The apartment is another experience. There is no hat water tank and an instant on hot water shower head gives us the hot water for showers. Water and gas guys announce their presence early each day with a loud speaker on the roof of their truck playing a weird song or commercial. If you want a new water jug you flag them down and they run up the stairs to your house with a filled one and take the empties away. We use purified water for cooking and drinking as the water in the taps is not safe for us gringos to drink. The buildings are very old and stone, brick or cement. Directly across from us is the local primeria school and during the week young girls call out to our boys flirting with them outrageously. Tommy is besides himself trying to figure out if he should wave and yell back or hide. Right now he is doing a combination of both. Email addresses have been exchanged but the language barrier is hard to get past. The girls did pass to the boys a perfectly written note in english asking if they had girlfriends or not.

One thing we have noticed is that Mexicans are a loud people and think nothing of playing loud music or carrying on a loud conversation day or night. Cars with huge speakers pass by all night long and loud parties this weekend went into the wee hours. What is interesting is that all of this behavior is accepted here and no one complains.

The picture at left is looking up the road from our balcony towards Icebox Hill. The surrounding area is this tightly packed with homes or apartment buildings and these narrow streets. TTYL

 

15 April 07

Mazatlan Mexico

Almost another month has slipped by and here we are. What has changed? Everything and nothing. Each day is sunny with just the occasional cloud passing by. The temperature is definitely getting hotter as the summer approaches but the evenings are still pleasantly cool. We have been here so long that the chickadees have tried to nest in our radar reflector. Continued destruction of their work has not deterred them. We go to sleep and wake up to the cooing of doves and the swallows are thick around the boat all day with their constant nattering and chatter. Cruising friends come and go now. The mass exodus to the north end of the Sea of Cortez has started. Hurricane season is only two months away and many boats are traveling across to La Pas and the islands for a short while before zig zagging back and forth across the sea to push up to San Carlos. Most boats are left there for the summer either on the hard or tied to a slip. Hundreds of boats are making their way there now. The long time residents of Mazatlan Marina are in the process of packing up their stuff and heading back to the US or Canada. They leave their boats here over the summer and will come back in the late fall.

What are we doing? On Tuesday of this week we're going to be hauled out on a 29 foot wide travel lift to spend a week in the yard. Time to get those pesky problems that have been bugging me sorted out. I was planning on getting the bottom painted but after 4 months in the tropics only a few spots on the boat have any growth so depending on what work I do I will probably only get it touched up. we're going to stay in a hotel during the haul out and continue with the homework. We have completed so many maintenance projects during this last month and a half that my maintenance log has pages of new entry's. The list is long but here are a few highlights; rigging inspection and tune, new third reef in the main sail, new forward windows, new para-tech drogue, installation of a SSB, new main sheet winch, new sun awning across the entire cabin from the mast to the end of the boom, new zippered doors for the cockpit (these last two are to be installed on Monday) and list goes on and on. Still left to do are the back deck rebuild and the autopilot hydraulic pump needs to be rebuilt and repositioned. The final project is the installation of the new fresh water foot pump in the system before departure to Hawaii. We like the pressurized water system but it's a no no on long passages as it uses too much water.

Above all the kids have broken the back of the school work and Tommy is almost completed the year. Billy has only two subjects to finish and the rest is done. During all of the above we have fit in many surfing days, Semana Santa (holy week), trips to Juarez Market and endless trips to the local grocery stores but both Laurie and I have felt a change and suddenly we're wanting to move on. Now that we're going home this summer we're both getting that go home feeling. Mom sent us down a package via courier last week with charts and cruising guides of Hawaii plus the help from fellow cruisers have firmed up the next two stages. Sometime in the beginning of May depending on where the Pacific High is we're heading out to Hawaii which is almost and due west course from here. The trip should take no more than 18 to 20 days in the trade winds but preparing for much longer. Once in Hawaii we're planning on leaving for Vancouver in July. Again a 18 to 21 day cruise. we're not expecting to spend much time in Hawaii as we need to get home for the beginning of Aug but it should be very interesting and hopefully fun. I will update shortly with pictures of our boat on the hard. This next week is very necessary but something we have been dreading. Hopefully it will go fairly well. TTYL

20 Mar 07

Mazatlan, Mexico

My god it has been a month since our last update. We have slipped into the lifestyle here and days go by before you realize it. The boys are busy doing school work. we're busy working on the boat, bringing more food back to the boat or taking the laundry off the boat to get done. Laurie loves it here. You put your laundry in a bag and walk up to the little laundry store just outside the marina office and drop it off. It costs $40 peso's per 4 kilos. It is not worth it to try and do it ourselves.

Billy at the BeachDuring this last month my Mom and Brother Glenn came down at the end of Feb for a week and good friends of ours from Chilliwack, Scott and Cherie Haugh and their son Derek are currently here vacationing. I picked up a dock virus as we call it just before Mom got here and was bed ridden for 1/2 their visit. Now Laurie has got a fever today from something and looks like she will be bed ridden for the remainder of the Scott and Cherie's visit. Some luck; oh well other than a one instance the rest has been very fun. During my Mom and Brother's visit we all took a trip to a touristy spot called Stone Island. The kids and Glenn rented ATV's and although it was an accident Billy managed to hit the only coconut on the road and veer into the only tree within 300 yds. He did significant damage to the machine. My Mom had given them her driver's licence and as soon as they got back the local police got involved. Suffice it to say that we got taken to the cleaners. It turns out that the island is basically owned by a local mafia family and after looking at the damage they demanded 7000 pesos in cash. It was a dicey thing all around as Mom and Glenn were due to fly out the next day. All it would have taken if we had argued too strenuously is a nod at the local constabulary and they would have arrested my Mom and thrown her in jail until we complied. A couple of young lads from the family came with Laurie and I as we scrambled all over Mazatlan to draw together that amount of cash to pay them off. It was an awful way to end Mom's trip but in the end it was only money. This particular area of town is infamous for its rip offs and we got tagged. Just bad luck.

Over all though the month has been great fun. We're seasoned city dwellers now and use the local transportation with ease and have been basically everywhere. We have eaten at the little venders in the mexican areas such as Juarez Market and had fabulously fresh fish and shrimp tacos or barbequed chicken. These markets are for the locals only and few gringos go there. Produce and items are very cheap and not once have we been short changed or been hassled. Our spanish is getting good enough that we don't worry about trying to do the complex stuff anymore. Just be patient, get them to slow down a bit and usually we can figure it out. At right the boys and Joesph off Daydreams are hamming it up in front of someone elses Sailfish.

After school most days Laurie and the boys are off to the beach to surf. Most times other cruisers with kids come with us or we go with them and the beach days have been great fun. I tend to stay on the boat in the afternoon to get more work done on it but lately it has been getting too hot to work then. At left is a rare shot of Tommy out of the water, something he rarey does. We normally have to drag him kicking and screaming out at the end of the day. Behind the boys is of course the famous "Ginger's Bilingual Horses" at La Playa Bruja.

Slowly our plans for the future have been taking shape. Billy and Tommy want to go back to regular school next year and so the tentative plan is to take the boat up the Sea of Cortez for a while in the spring; after which we provision her and then it is off to Hawaii, then home to BC after that. Besides it is only 6000 miles. The maintenance on the boat is being geared towards that end and in early April we're getting the boat pulled for general maintenance, inspection and painting. We have been told that "The definition of cruising is doing boat maintenance in exotic places" and it is so true. However we have been blessed with great cruising friends here and with their vast experience they have helped us get it all sorted out. The list of things getting fixed or upgraded on the boat is too long to list here but we feel strongly that she is a very capable cruising boat and once up to date will have no problems with this sort of trip.

So our adventure will continue for a little while, and right now we're off to see the Haugh's at El Cid hotel. Tonight we're taking them to a great BBQ rib place where the ribs come 2 ft long and the beer is two for one and very cold. All for 75 peso's a plate. Hard to beat. I hope I remember that when I rip the head apart tomorrow morning as it is on my list of things to do. TTYL

19 Feb 07

Mazatlan, Mexico

What a week! This is our first experience with any Carnaval let alone the third largest in the world. On the Friday before the Carnaval Laurie and I went clubbing and ended up at a Mexican music bar where we were introduced to serious latin music. We had a excellent waiter who explained what was going on and we had a great time. We got home late to our waiting kids who grounded us for making them so worried. It was a lovely rare reversal of roles.

On Sunday night we went to the main parade which started just after dark. We had tickets to the bleachers in front of Agua Marine hotel. The Malecon was packed as far as the eye could see in both directions as the picture at right shows Over 1/2 million people come to Mazatlan for this Carnaval. It was crazy.

The next sequence of pictures is some of the better pictures of the floats. We must say that the mood of the crowd was very good. I don't think I would have gotten into a crowd this large anywhere else but it appeared to be no problem here. As soon as the parade ended though the crowd surged out all the side roads to their cars, taxi's and busses and from then on it was a gong show. It took us 3 hours to get home and we witnessed driving antics right out of a stunt movie back lot. We tried walking to find a bus but they were all full. Finally we saw the right bus and hopped on board. Unfortunately it was going the wrong way and we ended up in the center of town. After getting off we jumped into the back of a small red pickup used around here as a taxi and the real wild ride began. Honking and yelling out the window, driving like a maniac our driver pushed his truck through the masses across town, just like everyone else was doing. It was crazy but fun and we survived.

In amongst all this Carnaval fun we got a number of surfing trips in and here is a couple of picture of La Playa Bruja; a beach just up the way which is a great surfing beach.

 

 

 

 

The Bull Fight (Don't go any farther down if your a member of PETA or get squeemish at the site of blood)

For Billy's 16 birthday I took him to the bull fights here in Mazatlan. A couple of other cruisers, Jim and his son Brenden from Escapade came with us. It was held in Plaza De Toros and was a monumental match between Rejoneador Pablo Hermoso de Mendoza, from Spain and Rejoneador Eduardo Funtanet, from Mexico; supposedly this quality of match is quite rare to witness in Mexico. It took us a bit to figure out what was going on but once we did it was something unbelievable to watch. It was a display of courage, beauty, horsemanship, spectacle and brutality like something out of the Roman Coliseum. The only way I can thing to describe it is to show you the sequence of events in pictures which of course don't do it the justice it deserves. We had no help sorting out what was going on so I might have the process wrong.

Left - This is the Plaza De Toros and the crowd was made up of all ages and genders. This was a family event and was enjoyed by the grandparents right down to the littlest children.
Right - The two Matadors parading for the crowds. Rejoneador Pablo Hermoso de Mendoza, from Spain is in the blue jacket. Their horses could dance and the control over them was impressive even to someone like me who knows nothing about horses.
Left - The Matadors on the ground were vital in controlling the bull will the main Matadors changed horses or worked the crowd.
Right - The first strike where after working the bull for a while around the ring the Matador pushes the blade in and brakes it off allowing a flag to open up and therefore prove he had scored a hit. He would do this 2 or 3 times then change horses and move to smaller lances. In the end the lances were just a foot long which of course meant he had to get very close to the bull to put them in.
Left - After stabbing the bull with 2 or 3 longer lances the bull begins to tire and this is when the Matadors start to taunt the bull by prancing the horse around and right up to the bull. The object is to get the bull to chase them while keeping the horse as close as possible to the bull and not get gored. Most of the time it worked and sometimes it did not and the horse got wacked. Most of the time the horse would run sideways away from the bull so as too keep goating the bull to chase it. It seemed that the bull was always just inches from getting them.
Right - We had to watch this horse move a number of times to believe it. The horse would lunge first one way which caused the bull to start that way and then suddenly the horse would switch directions so fast it was hard to see and it would enable the Matador to get a lance in.

Left - The killing lance is about to be used. There is no nice way to describe what happens next. This is a 3 ft long sword that is thrust right through the animal and if done right knocks it right down to the ground where immediately another Matador kills the animal with a knife thrust to the base of the brain. The ending is almost immaterial as the spectacle prior is what counts.

The process of working the bull by incredible horsemanship and frankly bravery is what gets the crowd going. The Matador will work the horse so close to the bull he often pats the head or even kisses it. This is a 1000 lb bull bred to be mean and I wouldn't have gotten anyway near it let alone gotten into the ring. I saw horses doing things I didn't thing they were capable of. After the initial shock at the brutality we got right into it and cheered just like everyone else. Through a scoring process we didn't quite fiqure out one of the Matadors was chosen the winner. We felt they chose right.

The following sequence of pictures was after the bull was lanced a couple of times and the Matador was changing horses, these guys, who we assumed where local Mexicans displaying their bravery, came out into the ring. The object was for what seemed to be the smallest guy to taunt the bull into charging him. On impact he was to hold on to the horns while the guys behind tackled the bull and held it until they all let go at the same time. If he couldn't hang on they would get stomped and gored but after it got all sorted out they would line up and do it again until he held on. One guy had to do it three times before he managed to hold on. They were purposely allowing the bull to charge and hit them. The crowd loved it and cheered their bravery mightly. Afterwards they paraded with the Matador which everone loved.

The Mexicans make no apologies for this specticle and it was an event we totally enjoyed after the initial shock at the brutality. Was it entertaining? You bet and I would go to another like this again in a heart beat. We sat in the cheap seats with the rest of the Mexicans and had a great time. TTYL

12 Feb 07

Mazatlan, Mexico

Were bedding in as they say around here. All of us like the place and the alternatives are not easily achieved. Mazatlan has a lot to offer us right now. Although it is a serious tourist destination it is also a city of a half a million and there are lots of areas that are not tourist orientated so the real Mexico comes out. The Marina where were at is reasonable priced, modern and clean. Our neighbors are mostly very experienced cruisers and provide excellent guidance. Many of the boats have been here for years. The kids need to get caught up on homework and La Playa Bruja, a very good surfing beach is just a short bus ride down the way. Mazatlan also has everything we need to continue the work on the boat so all in all it looks like we will be staying for a while. How long were not sure but at least until the end of of March barring something unforseen as friends and family are arranging trips down.

At left is a picture of just one of the many colourful Carnaval statues that are spread out through the city to remind people of next weeks Carnaval which is the third largest in the world. We have seats overlooking the parade route for the main parade on Sunday evening. At right is a picture of Mazatlan taken from the top of El Faro Lighthouse; quite a hike in the heat but the view is stunning.

At left is the Central Mercado where all manner of things can be bought in an open air style. The look on Tommy's face when we got to the butchers area was priceless. We heard there is even a better market east of the main area and were going to try and find that this week.

At right is our favorite mode of transport. We have tried all the taxi system here which are fun but no matter how you bargain with them you always get ripped off. The buses cost .50c or .80c and go virtually everywhere and are always entertaining to ride. Time to get going so we will TTYL.

4 Feb 07

Mazatlan, Mexico

My pleas to that capricious mistress the sea in the last entry must of done the trick. Of course the weather didn't moderate quickly because then she might worry that I don't take her seriously enough. The wind finally died down to nothing by this morning. The last few hours into harbour were hot and easy. Were finally tied up to a dock and the reception was friendly and efficient. All around us are other cruisers and the amenities look great. Were dead dog tired and it is time to relax again. This picture is of Marina Mazatlan and Docks 6 & 7. TTYL

 

3 Feb 07

Middle of the Sea of Cortez; En route to Mazatlan, Mexico

We left Cabo San Lucus as fast as we could. It's the 'Let's Make a Deal' city in Mexico and even the Mexicans don't like the place. One cruise ship and sometimes two or three arrive everyday to disgorge the hoards of people ready to party. We got no rest there and anything was better than staying we thought.

After checking the weather and with Marina Mazatlan we left for the 3 day trip across the Sea of Cortez. Weather was suppose to be light NW winds. Of course by nightfall it was blowing 20 kts from the N and a big sea built up, pounding into us. Were on a close reach heading NE and back across the 23 latitude. It became readily apparent that if this wind kept up the trip was going to be very rough and slow.

It is now 2 days of beating into it and on my watch (12am to 4am) the time drags on. Nothing to do but hang on as the boat corkscrews up one wave and down the next. The boat has only a double reefed main sail up and the motor is turning over at low RPM. It has been too rough to mess with head sails but at least today and tonight we are heading in the right direction. The first night the wind forced us off our track and it looked like we might have to give up on Mazatlan and head further south.

Nothing to look at out here now but the fractured seas roaring by. During the day the sun and wind are hot and the watches at night are warm. Just after the sun goes down a blood red full moon raises in the east to slowly turn bright white in the night sky. It illuminates the waves as they march past. As far as you can see in any direction is the sea in turmoil oblivious to your prayers to calm down. The stronger stars shine through and patterns are starting to be seen. Certain stars rise each night in the same place and I wish I knew one from another. Something more to learn.

Were tired. Over a thousand miles in 18 days. Not much for the blue water boys but a lot for us. The skipper is tired, the crew tired and so is the boat. Things breaking now. Around noon the deck bolt holding the port main sheet block snapped sounding like a gunshot during a particularly strong wind and wave action. The secondary fuel pump mounts breaking due to metal fatigue. The bimini doors finally giving up the ghost. Meanwhile the wind moans through the rigging and the waves match on. Down below the waves slam into the underside of the alma's with an irregular rhythm that jolts your nerves no matter how much you try to ignore it. The weather makes it tough to sleep or eat properly.

I'm resisting the urge to look at the clock another time. Nothing to do but listen to music on Tommy's IPOD. Re-discovering the Doors, Jimmy Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and watch the waves roar by. Wishing my watch was over but not wanting to wake Laurie and Tommy up for the 4 to 8am watch. Both tired to the bone now. Laurie sick for the last two days. How Tommy sleeps in his port alma is beyond me. It pitches up then plunges down and slams into the next wave. He must hit the ceiling once in a while. This is the tough part of cruising. You know that if the wind picks up anymore, no matter how close you are to Mazatlan the boat is going to have to turn and run south. Praying that doesn't happen. Hoping that it all stays together. These winds are called el Norte and they can be nasty. Where were they on the way down. We only had one day of them and it was wonderful because it was pushing us in the right direction. Now it's beating us up and ignoring our pleas to go away.

I see a light now but it is only a fishing boat off our starboard about 8 miles. A bit of chatter on the VHF 16 but still 40 miles from Mazatlan. Tomorrow; it will be better tomorrow. Every sailors prayer. Oh I wish it was tomorrow!

 

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