Sunday, March 27, 2011

First Day of the Passage from Mexico to the Marquesas

We left Barra de Navidad yesterday (March 26th, 2011) at around 11am. The winds were pretty light and directly out of the west (the direction we wanted to go) for the first few hours. There were sea birds diving all around us and we could see the water roiling with bait fish and their predators so we decided to put a line in the water and see what happened. Given our dismal record as fishermen (fisherpeople?), we weren't really expecting to catch anything. I had put the rod in its holder on the rail and started to work on the daily lubrication of the windvane steering system (see previous entry on the subject) when the line started paying out of the reel. My first reaction was to accuse Christine, who was sitting near the rod, of bumping it and letting line out. Thankfully, she pointed out the obvious for me; there was actually a fish on the line.

This was my first time with a fish over the size of about ten inches on a line and I wasn't entirely sure what I was supposed to do so, like any good American, I just did what I'd seen people do on TV. I took the rod out of the holder, braced in on my waist, let the fish run a bit of line out, increased the line tension, yanked the rod up in the air when I felt a little slack, and cranked the reel as I brought the pole back down. Apparently, this was the correct thing to do because I soon had some sort of tuna flopping around on the deck. It actually was pretty damn fun to reel the critter in, see what it was, and hoist it on deck. I can understand a bit of why people get so into sport fishing but there was one problem. Once we had it on deck, we quickly realized that while we knew the general principles of what comes next, we were really fuzzy on the details.

Christine gaffed our catch on to the deck where it promptly started to bleed all over the place. I knew that some violent clubbing of the fish's head was called for so I looked around from something club like. The only thing at hand was a long metal handle for our windless so I used that to whacked the crap out of fishy friend. More blood followed and this was where our grasp of fishing procedures ended and Christine had to consult a fishing handbook that we had on board. Turns out there's a lot to the process of killing one of these things correctly. Who knew? We followed the instructions as best we could and got some big fillets out of it but the meat was very dark. We ate as much of it as we could but it didn't taste great. I think we blew it on the processing and we felt pretty bad about killing a decent sized fish that high up in the food chain - not to mention the mess we made on deck - so we made a new rule. We will do no more fishing until two conditions are satisfied: 1) Our supply of fresh meat is exhausted. 2) We read up on how to properly kill these things for maximum tastiness.


Just to make matters more entertaining, we were under sail the whole time this was going on and with all the fish handling, boat handling took a back seat so we were steering a somewhat erratic course. It just so happened that the Mexican navy was within sight and decided to motor over on their big scary looking steel boat to have a look at us. We smiled and waved as they came around behind us and photographed the back of our boat, presumably to read our name and hailing port off the transom. Just as they passed behind us, I managed to lose hold of the bucket I was using to pull up salt water to rinse the deck with and it went overboard. So, within plain view of the navy, we tacked around awkwardly while still managing fishing gear and made a failed attempt to retrieve our bucket. Oh well, we have lots of buckets.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Ready to go!

Architeuthis is ready. We are loaded to the gills with food, water, beer, booze, surfboards, spare parts, and other miscellaneous crap. We are sitting lower in the water than ever before and kind of wish that we'd painted a little higher with the antifouling paint. Anyway, we're really excited and looking forward to the passage and to the arrival in the Marquesas. We'll talk to you all once we get there!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

How to track us across the Pacific

We're still here in Barra de Navidad, Mexico but we'll be leaving by Saturday to make the long (~3000 mile) passage to the Marquesas Islands. While we are in route, we'll be checking in via the radio with the Pacific Seafarer's net ( In theory, they will be entering our location and check-in information into their fancy system so that you will be able to see our latest position by going here: You should be able to get a different view of our check-ins here: As you may or may not have guessed from those two links, my ham radio call sign is KF7NXT.

The important thing to remember with this stuff though is that there are about a million reasons why we might not be able to check in but are still completely safe. For instance, our radio could break and we could end up unable to check in. So, what I'm saying is that there is no reason for alarm if our position reports do not show up.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Catching up on photo posting.

We just arrived in Barra de Natividad in the Mexican state of Jalisco and we've finally found a good internet connection so I figure it's time to catch up on photo posting. We're going to be here for a few days while we make the final preparations to head off to the Marquesas.

The first set of photos is from awhile ago. It shows the mounting of the used wind vane steering system we bought from another boat in La Cruz. We got a great deal and the wind vane (named Jack by a previous owner after a crew member that died while on a passage from Hawaii to the mainland). This contraption will steer the boat for us without using any electricity. This set of photos also shows the buff and wax job that we paid for in La Cruz. The guys that did us showed us why it looked like crap when we did it ourselves. It turns out that the wax we had bought only really works on light colored paint even though it doesn't say anything about that on the label. Oh well, now we know.

The next set of photos is from the day that the tsunami hit us down here. Nobody wanted to be in a shallow marina or near shore when it hit so pretty much everyone down here took their boats out for the day. There were more boats out on the bay than I'd ever seen at one time. ...including boats that I'd never seen leave the marina at all. Though details were sketchy at the time, we were all aware that the quake and tsunami had been a horrible tragedy in Japan but down here it was an oddly festive event. We used the opportunity to take pictures of each other's boats under sail. It's actually difficult to get pictures of your boat under sail because, generally, when it's sailing you're on it so you've got to get other people to take the pictures. Anyway, we took pictures for our friends and they took some pictures for us.

The tsunami did cause a bit of damage down here but it wasn't too bad. The section of dock nearest the entrance of the La Cruz Marina did end up getting destroyed. The water level within the marina changed by around six feet over a period of minutes causing strong surges of water but, as far as we know, no boats were damaged in La Cruz. However, some of the channel marker buoys dragged their moorings and moved and sand piled up at the entrance.

The next set of pictures for today is from a little excursion we took during the one full day that we were in Tenacatita bay. It was a lovely bay and we both really wish we could have spent more time there. The trip we took was a dinghy ride up into a mangrove estuary river kind of deal. There was a ton of wildlife including some kind of badger monkey ant eater looking thing. Unfortunately we didn't get any pictures of it but it was freaky lookin'. It was about the size of a large dog. It had a kind of badger shaped head and a really long fuzzy monkey looking kind of tail. Anyway, here are the pictures. Sorry we couldn't photograph the badger monkey.

Remember in the last post how I promised more photos from leaving Banderas Bay? That's okay, I barely remember it either. Anyway, here are those photos. Don't forget, you can click on these slide shows and go look at larger versions of the photos.

Okay, that's all we've got time for now. We're itching to get underway for the Marquesas but we'll try to make at least one more post before we go.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Escape from La Cruz

We finally made it out of Bandaras Bay. We had a mostly awesome sail down from La Cruz to Chemala. I say mostly because the wind died for a while and left us flapping around uselessly. We're really trying to conserve fuel because we'll only be able to get fuel by going ashore in our dinghy (Squib) and bringing fuel out in cans between here and the Marquesas. There is a fuel dock a bit south of here but it's been out of order since a very large motor yacht tried to drive away without untying it's dock lines a few months ago. Anyway, we only have one more small project that needs completion before we leave Mexico. We just need to install a salt water faucet in the galley sink that will be powered by a small secondhand foot pump. This will let us rinse dishes without wasting fresh water or electricity. If all goes well, we should be underway for the Marquesas in a week or less (or more).

On the way down from La Cruz, it worked out that we were leaving at the same time and in the same direction as our friends Kevin and Evelyn on their Ingrid 38 Tuatara. Tuatara is of somewhat similar design (a traditional ketch) but has a longer waterline (due to her being 38 feet long as opposed to our 31 feet) so we figured that she would be slightly faster than Architeuthis. However, it turns out that we're faster. least in those conditions.

There's lots more to write and tons of photos to upload but we don't have time right now. For now, this posting and a couple of pictures will have to do.

IMG_3216 Architeuthis as photographed by our friend on Inga during the tsunami.

IMG_9053 Architeuthis preparing to pass Tuatara.

Friday, March 11, 2011


Apparently there has been a large earthquake in Japan that has sent a tsunami our way. The word on the VHF radio is that it has just passed Hawaii generating a 4-6ft rise and that they are currently trying to assess the damage level and that the swell is currently headed for California and, later, on down to us in Mexico. The rest of the word is that Mexico has closed all of its west coast ports, which means nobody is allowed in or out of the harbors. That's a bit of an inconvenience for us because we were supposed to go to Nueva Vallarta to do some paperwork for our international exit but the good news is that we were in the anchorage so we are not stuck inside the marina. There's other good news (for us) as well. If this thing does hit hard here, we are in about the best possible situation. Since we have been preparing to leave on our long trip, we are loaded to the gills with food and fresh water. We can be completely self sufficient for at least a month and, since I just finished installing our ham radio two days ago, we will be able to communicate (but not email or post on this blog) even if normal communication infrastructure were to get hosed.

So, I guess what I'm trying to say here is that there is no need for friends and family to worry even if Mexico gets clobbered by this thing (and it probably won't - the coast is pretty mountainous here), we will be fine. The tsunami is supposed to hit sometime a bit after noon and we are going to make sure we are in deep water when it does. (Just in case you don't know it already - tsunamis are long low swells before they hit shallow water so, if you're in deep enough water, they are almost imperceptible.)

...Now hopefully we'll be able to pick up an internet signal and post this before we head offshore so that our people back home don't have to freak out at all... ...If you're reading this, we found one.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Getting reading to jump

After a few days of surfing some not so fantastic waves at Punta Mita, we pulled into Marina La Cruz to get some more projects done. A week or so later we checked the last few items off the list, had a nice dinner with Jeff and Dorie from s/v Journey and called it a night. Then, on the day we were to finally leave the marina, Jared woke up with a 101.7 degree temperature. That's what happens when its all work and no play I guess, especially for those who do not eat any vegetables. It is starting to feel a lot like it did before we left Ventura, except that its a lot warmer of course. Getting ready to sail a boat across 2,700 nm of open ocean is understandably a bit stressful. Each project turns into three or four, provisioning takes days, and time is ticking. Its no wonder Jared's body temporarily succumbed to some virus. Fortunately, he seems to have beaten it already and we are now in the anchorage at La Cruz and, big surprise, still working on the boat.

While our stay in the Marina was mostly work, we did manage to spend some time with "old" friends and even make some new ones. Now that we've been here almost three months, I feel comfortable calling people we met at least a month ago "old" friends. The sun awning that I've been working on forever is finally done, so I felt obliged to invite everyone over to hang out on our boat for a change. Its amazing what a little awning can do for atmosphere. It really makes the cockpit feel nicer some how. Even at night, since it keeps it a bit warmer and gives us a bit more privacy. There are still a few slight modifications I would like to make to it, but I am mostly satisfied with the outcome. It even holds up to 20+ knot winds fairly well, which is more than most can say of their sun canopies. Then again, most people have nice rigid dodgers to protect them in such conditions.

We are now in final stages of preparation for the jump. We are still planning on cruising south to Manzanillo before we cross to the Marquesas. There are several anchorages along the way that sound really beautiful, and some potential surf spots. We really want to see a little but more of Mexico before we go and it will give us a chance to make sure everything is truly ready. Banderas Bay has been fun, but we almost feel like we live here now. We know where almost everything is and we know a lot of people by name. Its hard to convince myself that we are still on the big trip sometimes, because it all just feels so normal to me now. Without the mystery of the unknown, you lose a little of that adventurous feeling. There are many things I really like about staying somewhere new for long enough to really get to know the place and the people, but there is always a time when you feel ready to move on. I think that time for me was about a month ago. Due to the delay with the sail we ordered, and the subsequent weekly promises of delivery, we got a little trapped. In retrospect, we shouldn't have let it hold us back. We could have changed our plans slightly by cruising south and then heading back here for the sail before we crossed. Oh well! It is what it is, and it is still better than being back in the states at work or something.