Friday, December 20, 2013

Banderas Bay Blast - Sailboat racing in shorts and T's

We joined the three day Banderas Bay Blast to get Shindig out on the Bay and contribute to a good cause. Money is raised for the Pirates for Pupils fund.  This group contributes school supplies to local grade schools.

The weather was perfect, 75-80 degrees, and light to moderate breezes in the afternoon. Each day was a different leg, and there was a "reverse start" which means each boat has a separate start time and theoretically finish around the same time.
The first leg was from La Cruz anchorage, out and back, 12 miles.  It was exciting to have a start and finish line right in the anchorage where other boats are anchored. Richard from Tisha Baby joined us for the day, and we came in first!

The 2nd day was an upwind leg from La Cruz to the Punta de Mita anchorage(8 miles).  We put out a challenge by pledging 200 pesos for each sailboat that beat us, and 100 pesos for each boat behind us. Apparently it was a decent model, as other sailboats chimed in on the radio, and it kickstarted the fundraising competition.

Trish and Steve from Kiyuma joined us for leg two, and we had a fun cockpit party afterwards to celebrate a nice afternoon of sailing. Came in second that day, right behind our friend's "go fast" Adios. That night we used paddleboards and pangas to get ashore for the group dinner. There was also a unique initiation into the Punta De Mita Yacht Club, which included costumes and other types of paddling with boards. We missed the photos for that one!

The final race was a downwind spinnaker run from Mita to Paradise Village(12 miles). We dodged more whales and enjoyed dolphins swimming along our bow as we headed to the finish line. As part of the fundraiser, we hosted guests aboard that supported the Pirates for Pupils campaign.   David and Nancy, from Ashland, Oregon were great to have aboard.   The sailboats that raced were given guest slips for the night by Paradise Village Marina, and there was a fun get together at the Vallarta Yacht Club that night to toast all the sailors.

Shindig finished first in class! This year 25,000 pesos (~$2000 USD) were donated.

Close quarters sailing.  Duking in out with a local Mexican crew on Day one.

Day one, final upwind finish into La Cruz

Craig and Jane's boat, Adios, Columbia 43, was a close competitor. 
They won Day 2 race to Punta de Mita

Nancy demonstrates a fancy dance move in the "catch the water balloon" contest.
We won a pizza at Philo's which we enjoyed later that night.
Day 2 Sailing - Red Shirts 

Final spinnaker race towards Paradise Village
The mighty Shindig

Sunday, December 15, 2013

North Shore in Banderas Bay

After a few quiet days at beautiful Chacala we went around the corner to another favorite location in Banderas Bay.  Our first week back has been spectacular. In the anchorage off Punta de Mita, about 18 miles north of the downtown Puerto Vallarta, we enjoyed reconnecting with two sailboat friends, Debra & Danny from Cyclades, and Marie & Leonard from Mi Casa.  The water is still warm, about 78 degrees F, and usually flat with a light breeze in the morning. Perfect for the morning "ladies paddle" (SUP), and later, surfing the breaks off of Punta Mita.  Nancy set up her keyboard and is diligently practicing 2 solos, Debussy and Chopin, as well as some chamber works for her return to La Paz. With the gentle rocking of the sailboat while playing, she found herself actually falling asleep while playing.  Rob used extra time to catch up on small boat projects as well as some Arduino electronics geekiness.  He kept tweaking the systems so that Shindig could keep up with being off the grid.  This is the longest we've been unhooked from a Marina, and it has been a nice rest for both of us.
With Cyclades' car, we had several trips into the big city, loading up at Costco, Home Depot, Zaragoza, and a nice Italian grocery/wine store in the Marina Vallarta.  Nancy joined Marie on her morning bus commute and hit the town of Bucerias, getting her hair done, shopping and visiting local jewelry and art boutiques.
We are sorry that Mi Casa is leaving to head to San Diego for further adventures.  We enjoyed one final good-bye dinner with a group of cruisers at the street tacos restaurant and later, a beach side restaurant aptly named Margaritas before they left.
More sailboats are arriving as this is the season to be exploring the Mainland. Today starts a 3 day community/sailing event, the Banderas Bay Blast.  Shindig is ready to play and sail hard.

Cyclades, Mi Casa and Shindig enjoying dinner aboard Cyclades

Our taxi to and from sailboats to the shores of El Anclote beach

Eye Candy boards at the Pacific Paddle shop in Bucerias

Stocking Stuffers?  5 monkeys and 2 bracelets:
Nancy's negotiation skills are tested on the beach

Nancy keeps up her practicing on the Yamaha P-155
Early morning "Lady's Paddle" in the anchorage

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Projects: Fabrication and Fixes in La Paz

Besides having the friendly Mexican community and lots of fellow cruisers in town, La Paz might be the best place in Mexico to get boat projects done. Before we left the States in 2012, there was a very long list of things to do for Shindig to be "ready".  The high priority items got done and lower priority or 'nice to have' items were delayed.  Now we know that LaPaz is a great place to tick off that long list of boat projects.

Here are some of the projects that we worked on to get Shindig ready for the season.
  • Service Perkins engine (oil, raw water impeller, heat exchanger zinc)
  • Service Onan generator (serviced injectors, debug full power issue - ongoing....)
  • Replace fuel filters for generator and fuel polishing system
  • Replace #2 alternator voltage regulator (unit failed in the "full on" mode)
  • Install solar panels (make changes to bimini, install MPPT controller)
  • Install AIS transponder and rewire NMEA interface to plotter
  • Upgrade firmware on Raymarine plotter
  • Fix vacuum brake for Onan generator with new type
  • Lube steering system
  • Replace impeller in damage control pump
  • Re-glue forward hatch gaskets
  • Service Tohatsu outboard (zinc, lube, plugs, lower unit oil) 
  • Haul out (bottom paint, replace busted zinc bolt, service propeller and bow thruster, service all thru-hulls)
  • Have custom flopper stopper made 
  • Have dinghy chaps made
  • Wax hull, topsides, mast, clean all standing rigging
  • Varnish cockpit table and trim in aft head
  • Have full boat cover made (end of last season)
The Solar panels on Shindig's bimini add 50Ah/day (24v) on a sunny day.  Hector modified the bimini to accept the panels
Shindig is lifted for the short trip to the water.  Fresh paint, fixed thru-hull and new zincs.
Replacing #2 voltage regulator.  The wire harness was a challenge to extract

Damage control pump impeller has been replaced.  In case of a flooding emergency this engine driven pump can move a lot of water!

Vacuum brake for the generator raw water
For years the vent loop on the generator has dripped water into the engine room.  The salt water corrodes everything it touches and the problem has gotten worse as we use the generator more....  makes sense.  My fix was to have Ernesto the metal fabricator make the fitting  above.  It fits in the cockpit drain hose and vents to the top of the generator raw water loop.

New fitting installed on the left.  Vent loop on the right.

Now when the generator runs it dumps water in the cockpit drain and when the generator is off it vents the loop and does not allow water to get into the exhaust side of the generator.  As a side benefit when the generator is running you can hear water gurgling down the drain.  Not only is it soothing... but a good indicator that you have good cooling water flow to the generator.

Ernesto also made me a flopper stopper.  I gave him the dimensions and design details and a few weeks later it was done.

This device is also sometimes called a roll stabilizer.  It rides in the water, dangling from the boom or the spinnaker pole.  As the boat rolls to one side it folds deeper into the water and as the boat rolls the other way it wings open.  In the open position it provides a lot resistance in the water and slows the roll of the boat.

Last season I borrowed one from our buddy Danny on Cycledes when we were in Punta de Mita.  It really made the motion of the boat more comfortable in a rolly anchorage.

Shindig Flopper Stopper
Jeanne from Eagle/La Paz Cruiser Supply made the webbing bits for the bridle. 
We are in Punta de Mita now and have had it deployed for a several days.  It works great!

Discovered this busted hose clamp on the generator heat exchanger.   Salt water from the dripping vacuum brake slowly ate it away.

Hector in LaPaz used the sunbrella fabric that I brought down to make a nice dinghy cover or "chaps" for our daily driver.  The red stripe was my idea to make is distinguishable from others at a distance. It is also Nancy's favorite color.

Full boat cover helped keep the intense summer sun off Shindig's decks. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Passage from Baja to the Mainland

We have arrived on the mainland!  The passage from Baja to the Pacific side of Mexico was good.  We surprised ourselves and friends by deciding to leave last Sunday, a couple days after Thanksgiving.  The weather window looked too good to pass up, as there was a healthy Northerly coming down the Sea of Cortez.  We sailed fast to Muertos in about 8  hours, with winds about 15-20.  Then we needed to plan our remaining 254 nautical miles.  After a large dinner, we decided it was best to leave that same night at Midnight, to leverage the good wind, and minimize two full overnighters.  So up we were at 1130PM, sailed all night and day for the next 24 hours, and then motored the rest of the way to Isla Isabel, the first land stop.  After resting, we had a full day with hiking, paddle boarding, snorkeling and swimming before getting ready for our next shorter leg to the mainland.  We left at 545AM and arrived at Chacala, a quintessential palm tree little anchorage north of Banderas Bay.  We are here!

Side note.  Isla Isabel can be a challenging anchorage because of the rock bottom can eat your anchor.
Here are the secret GPS coordinates for a patch of sand in 30 feet of water.
 21 50.875 N
105 52.702W

With a healthy breeze on the beem, Shindig hit 9.3 knots going from La Paz to Bahia Muertos.  The trip was 8 hours, no problemo.
Rob sailing down the Cerralvo Channel towards Muertos.
Our large dinner the first night, Then decided to leave that night at Midnight
Beautiful sunset gets Nancy psyched for the overnighter

Day break, and it's time for a nap!

Land Ho!  Isla Isabel
Blue footed bobbies paired up 

Lizard friend

Blue footed booby watching Shindig in the anchorage

Isla Isabel: A quiet, peaceful anchorage

Lots of fish!
Chacala, View from Shindig
Can't wait to have lunch there tomorrow!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving, Cruiser Style

We flew back to La Paz the night before Thanksgiving.
While Thanksgiving is an American holiday, most of the cruisers, including Canadians, like to celebrate this day.  Many of the local friends, including marina staff, are also included in festivities.  The day began early with Nancy helping group of volunteers set up tables, chairs, linens for over 200 cruisers at our marina.  Rob had volunteered to be a turkey carver, but was assigned to the Turkey table, to help provide servings of white and dark meat.  We had a grand time.  and got to say Hellos to several couples that had just returned to town.  As the sun set, there were several post parties, which ultimately ended up at yours truly, Shindig.  We had an impromptu music night with guitars, a mandolin, fiddle, autoharp, and vocalists.  It was a Thanksgiving in Mexico to remember!

Turkeys arrive!  Jeanne from La Paz Cruisers Supply (and Eagle) led the team of volunteers
Over 20 turkeys were cooked in town in one large oven.  Estabo Delicioso!!!

Nancy and friend were on the Sides & Salads Table
Amazing selection to choose from 

Rob and Dawn (SV Victory) get ready to serve over 20 turkeys

Chris and Chris from SV Scintilla
Rob finally sits down for his meal...
Deb from SV Scot Free, Eh?
Mike and Katie from SV Pangaea

Music Shindig - Scott and Mike
Music continues into the early evening

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Wedding & Family Fun at the Beach

Tana and Clint's wedding was beautiful. We are so happy for them. Some friends from the SF Area also attended so we got more hugs and laughs in together.

The beautiful bride and her father
The signature drink, "ClnTanaTinis"....Salud!
Family get togethers are always fun. In addition to Rob's parents, his brother Dave and kids, Ali and Nicky, joined us on the Silver Strand in their RV. And very spur of the moment, Nancy's brother and wife, David and Kathy, dropped by after landing at the San Diego Airport on to way to another family Thanksgiving.
We shared a long walk on the flat sand beach in Coronado, catching up on all the positive things that have happened since our last visit together in Park City

Of course we also got our errands to West Marine, Beverages and More, Trader Joes and Target, too. The US GNP rose slightly.

Bert, Nancy, Alice, David, Kathy, Dave and Rob
Peppermint Frappucinos in Coronado - just a little sugar...

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Trip Report: A Desert Oasis in Cave Creek, Arizona

What a great reason to fly back to the States!  Our girlfriend Tana is getting married! We heard of the engagement in the summer, and made plans to be back to celebrate with them.  Our travel plans became a little more complex so we could make the most of the short visit back.  We decided to fly in and out of La Paz, sneak in a fun visit with Kaaren and Jim (Kaaren is Nancy's girlfriend from her first job at IBM in Santa Barbara) and extra bonus, see Rob's parents again for two nights in nearby San Diego.
Our trip North included a ride to the La Paz Airport, flying to Tijuana, taking a shuttle to the border, walking through customs, taking a larger shuttle from the border to the San Diego airport. After a brief layover, we hopped Southwest to the Phoenix airport, where Jim and Kaaren were waiting for us in the terminal.  They had flown in about 30 minutes prior.  Off we went to their new home.
Despite a little rainy weather, we enjoyed the beautiful surroundings, morning rides in the arena, admiring Jim and Kaaren's team roping practice, shopping trips, shooting practice at the range, a matinee movie, art walks, football games and lots of laughs and stories over delicious meals and wine. What a great visit.

La Paz Airport: Nancy with Elizabeth and Alan (SV Vivacia) - friends who had similar travel plans
The first shuttle in Tijuana
8 hours later - Paradise on the Desert !

Kaaren towing the Ropamatic machine during practice
Kaaren and Jim team roping - Kaaren in the foreground (Heeler)
Jim and Kaaren team roping - Jim (Header)
Rob operated the chute - Nancy stayed out of the way

Rob and Nancy watching the roping from the safety of saddles
Time for a cruise into town in Jim's 1970 Cadillac
 Enjoying REALLY good sushi and sashimi
Fun dinner and live music at Electric Eel, Cave Creek