Tuesday, December 28, 2010

More Pictures from La Cruz

Here are some more pictures from La Cruz that we didn't upload before.  There's a market in the plaza every Sunday where you can buy all kinds of stuff that you don't need on a boat.  Once we figure out how to ship stuff back to the US we're going to be buying gifts at these markets.  You've been warned.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Look at the Map!

I just spent quite a bit of time updating the map with our current location and our path down here.  If you click on the map tab at the top of the page, you can also see most of the photos from the trip placed in there approximate (or sometimes exact) location on the map.  Anyway, the map is pretty fancy so you should look at it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Islas Tres Marietas day trip.

We loaded Christine's mother, father, and three brothers onto Architeuthis and headed out to these little uninhabited islands near Punta Mita to try and see some wildlife and go snorkeling.  The wildlife did not disappoint. There were dolphins, humpback whales, and manta rays all jumping out of the water at various points. There were also tuna or something of that sort flailing around so close to the surface that we could see their tail fins sticking out of the water.

We got out to the islands a bit later than we had intended to (probably around 2pm or so) but that turned out to be a good thing because the tour boats were just leaving.  When we dropped anchor there were only three other sailboats in the area and, as far as I could tell, those people all stayed aboard the whole time.  We, on the other hand, jumped in the water to snorkel up close to the island except for Christine's parents who manned the dingy and rowed over to take a look. It was a volcanic rock bottom with some corals here and there and a bunch of cool looking tropical fish. We took some pictures with Christine's little camera in its underwater housing but we haven't downloaded them yet.

After BBQing some burgers on Architeuthis' grill, we sailed back to La Cruz and got into the harbor a little after sunset. It was a great trip and we hope to spend a little more time out at the islands looking around soon.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Beach Day in La Cruz with the Donahues

We've been having a lot of fun hanging out with Christine's family and doing stuff.  We've been so busy having fun that it's been hard to keep up with posting stuff to the blog.  We went to to the beach and hung out there for a while then drove up to Sayulita.  Rather than trying to describe the whole thing, I'll just post pictures:

Saturday, December 18, 2010

We Made it.

We are now at anchor in La Cruz, Mexico. I've uploaded some blog entries without pictures. I'll be adding that stuff to those posts in a day or two. We had a great time and we're really happy to be somewhere we can rest for a while.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Windy, Warm, Icky, and Windy Again.

As we approached Cabo San Lucas from the northwest, it got windier and windier until it was blowing in the 18 – 25 kts range. We started out the day with the genoa poled out to windward and both the mizzen and the main up. Then we dropped the mizzen. Then we dropped the main. Then we rolled in to the first reef point on the genoa. We finally rounded the cape enough to get out of the wind and it was really warm and, as we approached the famous rocks near the harbor entrance, Cabo San Lucas looked lovely. Then we got closer and saw the swarms of tourists. What a circus. There were glass bottom boats pulling within inches of the rocks, a fake submarine thingy, parachutes being towed behind boats, water taxis, kayaks and dozens of jet skis weaving in and out of everything. These are all things one might rightly expect to see in a resort town but the shear numbers of them was overwhelming. Cabo was starting to look pretty bad and it was about to get worse.

We motored into the harbor and up to the fuel dock. There was more boat traffic than I've seen anywhere and there were these really frightening party barge things everywhere blaring awful pop music while pasty and/or sunburned gringos gyrated drunkenly. If modern day Las Vegas had a harbor it would look just like this place. There was a Hooters restaurant right across from the fuel dock and nothing in view anywhere that wasn't designed for the sole purpose of separating tourists from their money. We bought our fuel and couple five gallon jugs of drinking water. I made a few adjustments to the rigging (the headstay had been looking a bit floppy on the way in), and then we got out of there as quickly as possible.

We motored for an hour or so south of Cabo headed across to mainland Mexico near Puerto Vallarta until the wind picked up. Man, did it ever pick up. Within a couple of hours it must have been blowing at least 25 kts with gusts to 30 or more. We were running under just our double reefed genoa. Before we reefed it, I got the opportunity to feel what an overpowered boat is like. It doesn't handle too well. The seas got up to around 8 feet or more and were really steep and uncomfortable. It made for a pretty crappy and restless night but Architeuthis behaved herself quite well and things calmed down by early morning.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

This is better

There's one thing I forgot to mention in the last post about the big lumpy seas. It was damned cold. We were wearing all the warmest clothes that we brought and we were wearing them all at once. Today was much much warmer and it was sunny too. It was probably about 75 degrees or so. The seas are much flatter too. The only down side is that the wind has been a bit flaky and, because we're in a hurry, we've had to motor a lot and we might have to stop in Cabo San Lucas to buy more fuel. We managed to get the lee cloth finished and installed. It makes sleeping on the rolling boat much nicer and we really could have used it a couple of days ago. Oh well.

The nights have been beautiful. I really love being able to see so many stars. There's nothing like the night sky when your out of sight of land with no streetlights to get in the way. The sky in Santa Barbara doesn't even look like the same sky.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Big lumpy seas

We knew we were in for it when we left Ensenada but, damn it, we're on a schedule. We don't want Christine's family showing up in Puerto Vallarta and having to wait several days for us to arrive. So we Ensenada at about 8am on the 9th knowing there was a small craft advisory. We consider Architeuthis to be more of a medium craft. What she lacks in size is made up for in seaworthy-ness. So we motored out past Isla Todos Santos, a famous big wave surf spot (we didn't actually go in sight of the break though), and around Punta Banda before we got some wind. The swell was decent sized (around 5 to 7 feet) but the wind was pretty mild (10 - 15 knots). We couldn't really make the direct southerly course we wanted because we couldn't keep the sails filled with the swell right on our beam so we headed southwest and further offshore (it's good to have sea room if there's gonna be stinky weather anyway).

It got kind of yucky out there. The seas got up around around 10ft or so with lots of confused wind chop and general crappyness and stayed that way for around 2 days. Winds probably reached 25 knots or more. It was an uncomfortable couple of days. It was tough to sleep, tough to eat, tough to just move around on the boat and do anything. On the up side, Architeuthis handled it like a champ. The autopilot was always able to steer the course we set but did eat up a lot of electricity doing it. Our dinghy and surfboards started to get a little loose on deck but we were able to crawl out there and snug them down before they got away. We didn't take any significant whitewater on deck despite the breaking waves around us. The other good news was that we were making over 6 knots almost the whole time.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Unplanned stop in Ensenada

We headed almost due south from Ventura and went past Santa Barbara island (in the dark) and outside San Clemente Island (also in the dark). The plan was to just stay way offshore, pass by the inside of Guadeloupe Island, then turn east, head past Cabo San Lucas, and straight to Puerto Vallarta and have that be our port of entry for Mexico. Sometime around noon on the 7th, Christine noticed that our mizzen mast (the smaller mast toward the back of the boat for all you landlubbers) was twisting when we rolled from side to side. It was because of the weight of the wind generator that we'd just mounted up there. I knew the thing was kind of heavy but I hadn't really anticipated it having as much effect as it did. Christine questioned whether it might be too heavy from the get-go but I thought it would be fine. I should have known better. As soon as we finished installing it, you could feel a change in the boat's motion - even while still tied to the dock. At sea, it definitely exaggerated the boat's tendency to roll. I was willing to live with that in exchange for the extra charging capacity (partly because I'd already gone so far down the road of buying, having a lovely custom mount made up for it, and installing the damned thing) but this mast twisting business was the last straw. We decided that the wind generator had to go.

Since pulling that thing down off the mast isn't really the kind of thing you can safely do at sea, we decided to head into Ensenada and take care of our entry paperwork there as well. We picked motored into Cruiseport Village Marina at about 9am. We pick that marina kind of randomly but I think we chose well. Jonathan, who runs the place, was extremely helpful. He drove us and another carload of cruisers over to the Centro Integral de Servicios building when we could take care of all our entry paperwork. Apparently this is one of the few ports (the only one, perhaps) that has all of the agencies you need to deal with for you entry in one building. Given our extremely poor Spanish, our sleep deprived states of mind, and the bureaucratic nature of the process, it was amazingly helpful to have all this stuff in one building and to have Jonathan there to help us out. The whole process took an hour or two as it was but I could easily imagine it taking all day (or longer) in another port without help.

Once we got back to the boat, we immediately set about removing the offending wind generator. It turned out that Mark, whom we knew from the Ventura Harbor Boat Yard, was in the same Marina and, being the gregarious guy he is, knew everyone there. With his help we took the wind generator around to all the other boats to see if anyone wanted to take it off our hands. We found a buyer almost instantly and sold the generator and its charge controller. Of course we took a big loss compared to what we paid for it but it was worth it not to have to deal with lugging it around. Unfortunately, the buyer's boat was not a ketch so we still have a beautifully crafted stainless steel mount that we'll have to try and sell once we get to Puerto Vallarta.

With that all dealt with, we turned to the issue of fuel. The only accessible fuel dock in Ensenada was several miles in the wrong direction from where we were so we'd have to fill up using Jerry cans. We determined that we needed 20 gallons and we have only a single 5 gallon Jerry can. We really didn't want to make four trips to the gas station so we asked around the other boats. Dan, who bought our wind generator, had a bunch of full Jerry cans so he gave us four full ones and told us to put that in our boat, refill them and bring them back to him. Another cruiser (oddly enough also named Dan), offered lend us his car. I was hesitant to set off uninsured in an unfamiliar town in an unfamiliar country so he very graciously agreed to drive us to the gas station. Overall, it was great to see how well cruisers take care of each other and, having now been on the receiving end, we'll do our best to help out others when we get the chance.

After all that, it was great to get a good night's sleep on a stationary Architeuthis and we were able to set out at about 8am for a hopefully uneventful and nonestop passage to Puerto Vallart where we will meet Christine's family who will be arriving on December 18th. Hopefully we'll be there when we arrive but this isn't like taking a train. It's a little bit harder to predict when we'll get into the station.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

We are finally leaving!

It's been a while since we posted. We've been working non-stop on the boat and we're finally ready. We are leaving tomorrow morning and if all goes well, we'll be heading straight for Puerto Vallarta. Of course there are plenty of places to stop along the way if we need to but we want to get down there as quickly as possible. We should arrive by the 18th or 19th and we will post again as soon as we find an internet connection.

Sorry about the lack of pictures but we don't have a proper Internet connection right now so I am posting this from my (soon to be without service) iPhone. Huge thank yos to all the great people who have helped us out so much over the last few months. Disun, Gabe, Freddy, Chris, Will, Chad, the other Will, John, Preston, my mom and dad, and Chrstine's parents. All of you (and the others that I'm forgetting to list) are awesome and we owe you big time. Most of all, thank you Christine. Thank you for being such a bad ass and sharing my obsession so enthusiastically. I love you.

Friday, November 12, 2010

We are Very Busy

Sheesh. This stuff is a lot of work but we are making progress. One big piece of news is that we have pretty much finished the storage area. It'll need a few more coats of varnish but we're going to just store stuff in it for now. Here's a slide show that totally fails to communicate what a monumental pain in the butt this whole project was:

In other news we have the masts off the boat right now (pictures later). Christine's brother Will came down and helped us out with stripping the hardware and old varnish. Then our friend Disun came down from Moss Landing.  He was down for about five days and did an awesome job of helping us prep the masts for a couple coats of epoxy and the first coat of Awlbrite (a fancy extra durable three part varnish). We found a great welder (http://www.prestonsprecisionmetalcraft.com/) and he's working on new spreader tangs, masthead fitting repairs, and a mount for our wind generator. He's also going to come out to the boat and extend some of our stainless rails so we can mount our solar panels. We've also got several dozen small projects going on as well but that's about all I can bring myself to type at this point.

We're still planning to get out of here by the end of the month. Sheesh.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Last Day of Work!

In all honesty, we should say "last day of getting paid to work" because we still have plenty of work ahead of us. Preparing a 42 year old boat is certainly not labor free and neither is cruising it. Anyway, Friday the 15th was the last day of our jobs at UCSB.  Christine's co-workers took us out for lunch and bowling and showered her with gifts. She got the food storage containers she's been wanting for the boat (seriously, she's been obsessing about tupperware), balloons, flowers, gift certificates, and cake. It was amazing. I don't think either of us expected such an awesome send off.

After bowling with Christine's group, we went back to campus to wrap things up. Then, at the end of the day, we went and got some beers with my coworkers. It's really bad timing for my group of coworkers and I didn't really expect any celebration at all but everyone who's in town showed up and bought us beers. It was great to see everyone and we're looking forward to hanging out again before we actually leave.

Santa Barbara has never really felt like home for us the way Santa Cruz did for both of us and the way San Francisco was for me but I know we're going to miss our Santa Barbara friends and coworkers. We both feel incredibly fortunate to have had such great jobs while we lived in SB and such great friends and co-workers. I have never worked with a better group of people and Will McClintock is hands down the best boss I've ever worked for.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Moved out

Total strangers picking through our
possessions and offering us pennies
on the dollar.
We are now officially moved out of our apartment.  That's good news.  The bad news is that even after a yard sale and 3 car loads of crap going to the thrift store, we still have too much stuff.  We've managed to fill a 5' x 5' storage unit and a smaller storage unit in the marina.  A lot of that stuff is scheduled to be hauled up to Port Angeles for storage next month by my Dad.

So, in addition to all the projects we need to work on, it looks like we'll need to spend some time sorting, organizing, and divesting.  ...either that or we're going to need a bigger boat.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Our Departure Schedule

A lot of people have been asking us about our schedule for departure so I thought I'd post it here.  We are currently in the (rather painful) process of moving out of our apartment in Santa Barbara and onto the boat (in Ventura).  This means having a yard sale (last weekend), taking some stuff to goodwill, taking other stuff to the dump, and taking other stuff down to the boat and to a storage unit we've rented in Ventura.  We will be completely out of the apartment by the end of this month.  Then we have two weeks of commuting from Ventura to Santa Barbara.  Our last day of work is October 15th.  After that we'll be working on the boat full time until it's ready to go.  We're estimating that all this work will take us about a month so our tentative departure date is somewhere around November 15th.

For anyone that would like to visit us before we leave, I think the ideal time would be around the second week of November or a few days earlier.  Hopefully by that point we'll have most of the serious work done and we'll be doing a bit of sailing to test everything out.

To help keep all these dates straight, I've embedded a calendar in this blog.  Check out the "Calendar" tab near the top of the page.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Progress on Doors for the Storage Area

One of the things that Architeuthis needs more of before we leave is storage.  Some of the Mariner 31s came with storage built into the port side area but ours wasn't one of them.  I'm going to build a storage area there and I'd like it to look somewhat original.  The interior woodworking on Architeuthis is beautiful.  That's good because it's nice to look at but it's bad because I have to live up to some pretty high standards when it comes to modifying things.  If Architeuthis was a Hunter (modern mass produced sailboat), I could just slap something together out of cheap pressboard and woodgrained vernier and it would fit right in but that sort of construction would be a slap in the face to the carpenters that built Architeuthis back in 1968.

I'm a novice at this whole carpentry thing so I'm not sure I'm really going to live up to the standards those guys set but at least I'm going to try.  I went to Woodcraft in Ventura and bought a bunch of African mahogany because that's what the rest of the interior is made of.  It's not cheap.  I looked at photos of the storage areas in other Mariners that were blessed with them and drew up plans for doors that would look similar when finished and were sized so that they would fit into my overall plan.  That first photo up there is the mahogany I came home with before I started chopping it up with my bottom of the line Craftsman table saw.  After learning to use my new dado blade, I ended up with what you see to the left.  I actually managed to make some tongue and groove joints and things were more or less fitting together.

I could have pretty much stopped right there and glued those pieces together but all of the interior doors and hatches have fancy little decorative bevels.  The original bevels were probably done with a router but I don't have the appropriate router blade and I don't have a router table so I had to go old school and use a rasp.

Once that was all done (and that takes a while), I cut some tiny little rectangles of mahogany to glue into the grove and force all the slats to be evenly spaced.  Then, this evening, I put down a drop cloth and glued the whole door together while sitting on the floor of our very small apartment.  It turns out that one of the sad ironies of this whole saving money to go on a long boat trip thing is that you really really want to have a nice garage / workshop to do all the work that you need to do to prepare but, because you're trying to save money, you can't have one.  So I end up with a table saw in my driveway and tools strewn all over our super small apartment.  ...but I digress.  So anyway, it's all glued together now and it looks like it could turn out to be a pretty nice door.  Now I just need to build another one just like it and, of course, build the cabinet deal that the door will attach to.  I kind of enjoy doing this kind of stuff but it takes a long time.  I sort of envy people with more industrial looking boats.  It's a lot less time consuming to build function when you can ignore form.

I'm trying to build something that won't look out of place on this boat.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

The big boat trip from California to New Zealand didn't happen quite as quick as we thought it would but it looks like it's going to happen soon so it's time to get the blog going.  I have repurposed my old neglected blog and even given it the www.svarchiteuthis.com domain.  As a super brief update since my last posting over two years ago, Christine and I moved down to Santa Barbara, got married last October, and have been preparing ourselves and our boat for the trip.  We are going to quit our jobs on October 15th (just before our one year anniversary), work on the boat full time for around a month or so, and then head south.  We're going to head down to the Puerto Vallarta area and hang out in that region for a while.  Then we'll decide whether we want to head down to Costa Rica and Panama before heading to the Marquesas or just leave from mainland Mexico.  After that, the plans get even less definite.  We just know we want to see a lot of nice tropical islands and make it to New Zealand before the stormy season starts in October 2011.

Here's a picture of Architeuthis' refurbished transom with her new name: