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.