Thursday, March 31, 2005

Slow but sure

Kellie's comments- Thurs morning: Well, not much to report. We're making slow progress southwest. We have about 10 knots out of the west, so we're close hauled and healing a bit. It's very comfortable, as there is no swell to speak of. I'd take a little swell right now if the trade off is wind. We're 165 miles out of Zihuat as of 9:00 Thursday morning. 2711 mi. left to go. Our position is 15� 48N & 103� 27W, for those of you sailors.

We had a busy day Tuesday finishing all the last minute shopping, banking and good byes. We left at around 7 pm, just as the sun was setting. A cruise ship pulled anchor too and was out of sight within an hour. We were hoping they'd offer us a tow. Peter V. hadn't sailed the boat yet, so he got some quick lessons before bed. Adrenaline flowed through us and kept anyone from turning in too early. I will be taking the first watch of the night, which includes putting the kids to bed and having some alone time in the cockpit until about 11 pm. Pete and Peter V. can get some rest before they split the night. Peter V. has 11 to 3, and Pete has 3-7. Although Pete has to get up anytime there is a question or we need some extra hands. The daylight is about 12 hours long, so we each have 4 hours of darkness.

I'm trying to set up a schedule of school in the morning and fun projects in the afternoon with the kids. I'm aiming to get as much school done as possible this month, so we're almost done when we arrive. Ellie is doing double work per day, and Carter is doing as much as his 5 year old attention span can take. He is definitely the more enthusiastic student.

We're experimenting with sleeping arrangements, since we only have 2 double cabins and 5 people. I'm sure it will all sort itself out over the course of the trip. We tried Peter V. on the starboard "couch." It's a bit too narrow for him, so last night we tried him on the port "couch" with buckets on the floor and cushions on top. That made the bed wider, but too short. I guess he'll have to choose. During the day, the aft cabin is empty of kids, so he can nap with the lee cloth down and have a king sized bed to himself.

We've seen birds and aerobatic dolphins, so it gives us something to look at occasionally. Nothing else on the horizon except some white fluffy clouds.

Today I woke up around 6:45, read out of Romans and made french toast. Then we had radio contacts with Wyndeavor, Loon and Icarian and also listened to some weather reports. After that we did school until lunch. Cuesadillas and guacamole were the order of the day. Then I got out some puzzles for the kids and Peter V. dipped into his "bag of tricks" and produced some hand puppet kits. The kids have been content ever since, and I've been able to do my nails and several cross word puzzles. Pete is reading, after being up for more than his own watch last night and Peter V is fishing and reading. The wind is all but gone this afternoon, so the guys are experimenting with sails and engine to try keep our speed up. So far we're averaging 4.6 knots. (Worse than rush hour traffic.)

The water and air temperature are around 82. It's cool enough at night to wear long sleeves and pants, but plenty warm in the cabin to have no blanket. Since we have no waves, we have all the windows open and are enjoying some airflow. The sunshade is also much appreciated.

All for now, thank you for your thoughts and prayers, Kellie

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Nice sailing - only 2785 miles to go!

We've had a great 15 hours of sailing thus far. We're currently 75 miles SW of Zihuatanejo, making about 5kn more or less in the right direction. Hopefully the wind will clock around a bit from the W to the NW or N so we can make some good westward progress without getting too far south too early to stay out of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), where confused or non-existant winds and frequent thunderstorms hang out.

We left at the right time, since there usually isn't any wind along this part of the coast until you get out 400-600 miles and reach the NW tradewinds. We're riding the south end of a high pressure system off the coast of California (as far as I can tell) and have had comfortable seas and 12-14kn of wind, which is just about perfect! Hope it holds up for a few more days until we reach the reliable tradewinds!


And we're off!

'twas a busy day today to get checked out of Mexico, get a few more fishhooks, take our last "endless water" showers for who knows how long, and do another tour of Zihuatanejo's 12+ hardware stores looking for 5/8" water hose (unsuccessfully)... oh well, it was just to re-plumb the forward head sink (the one hose run on the whole boat that I didn't replace during the re-fit!).

We said goodbye to our friends Jessie and Catherine, who are crewing on a boat bound for Costa Rica and Panama, got everything stowed away and cleaned up, the dingy on deck, the outboard flushed with fresh water, etc. etc, and pulled out of the bay just as the sun was setting.

It's beautiful sailing conditions - lots of stars, no swell and small waves, about 12kn west wind, so we're actually rather close hauled, but making around 5 kn aiming more or less for a point about 1830 miles away (5 degrees N, 130 degrees W) that is our approximate turning point to turn south and cross the intertropical convergence zone at a (hopefully) narrow spot. We've sailed 6.51nm, distance to go: 2846nm

Sunday, March 27, 2005

The countdown begins

Kellie's Comments--What's that white fluffy thing in the sky? I guess I've been away from the Northwest too long. We're having a bit of an overcast spell, which is actually nice since it keeps the air a bit cooler. Never thought I'd say that.

My parents have left and now we're in full swing preparing for the month at sea. As Pete's mom said, "You just fill up with water, food, do the laundry and go." Well Pete is filling up the water tanks as we speak. We're planning for our 400 gallons to last us up to two months. That's less than 7 gallons per day if it lasts 60 days. Imagine using only a gallon or two per person per day. I took a long hot shower this morning and savored every minute, knowing it will be my last for a long time. Since we don't know what to expect as far as food and water in the Marquesas, we're stocking up to last until Tahiti. Next time you do laundry or take a shower, think of us.

My grocery list is huge. I began stocking up on staples in Puerto Vallarta and have done more here. How much toilet paper will 5 people use in 2 months and will there be some to buy in Tahiti? One can only hope for the best. Now I have to go search for hard to find items like raisins, baked beans, powdered sugar and granola bars. Then it's off to the market to buy 50 apples, 30 tomatoes, cheese, milk, bread etc. I've done quite a bit of research on how long produce will last at different temperatures and am estimating how much 5 of us will eat of each item in the time it lasts. By the time we get there I anticipate being out of fresh produce except for cabbage, potatoes and apples. Canned goods and sprouts will have to fill in the rest.

We've met up with some friends here that we haven't seen since Los Frailes. It's great to have some familiar faces around. We've been lonely for our cruising friends. Jesse & Catherine are a young couple that are crewing on another boat. We really enjoy their company and they are great with the kids. What more can you ask in a friend? Unfortunately, as is so often true with cruisers, they are heading in a different direction. However, they are from Washington, so we hope our friendship will continue after the trip. They are coming over for games tonight, and we'll share Easter together tomorrow. They've even offered to kid sit on Monday as we run around doing last minute errands.

Our stay in the marina is over, so we're planning to sail around to Zihuat this afternoon. It's closer to shopping and government offices that we need for checking out of Mexico.

We'll check our imaginecruising e-mail one more time before leaving, so please write.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Ixtapa with family

Kellie Comments-- It's 90 degrees, 78% humidity, clear skies and not much wind. We're some of many tourists flocking to the beaches and resorts here in Ixtapa this Easter week. My parents and Pete's cousins are here visiting. The hotels are booked solid and the beaches full, as Mexico takes it's spring holiday this week. The kids are enjoying the pool and waterslide with my parents. They have stayed overnight a few times at the hotel to give Pete and I a break. We took the boat out to Isla Grande today for a change of scenery. Sea turtles were the highlight of the trip. They are a bit boat shy, but the water was clear and we could see them even as they dove away. We enjoyed the cool evening back in the marina and BBQ'd hamburgers. Tomorrow will be another pool day, with maybe a bit of shopping in the afternoon. Mom and Dad fly home on Friday. Pete's cousin Kathie flies home on Sunday and then the countdown is on for the trip across the Pacific.

Just to confuse everyone, our crew, who is Pete's cousin by marriage, is also named Peter. Here after I'll refer to him as Peter V. He seems excited to join us and we are relieved to have the help. The excitement is building to reach the South Pacific, but so is my anxiety. The kids would rather fly.

Our plan is to leave on Tuesday or shortly after to head south west. The Marquesas are the first island group in French Polynesia. It is a 2800 mile trip and we hope to be there by early May. Anywhere from 100-150 miles per day average will be our goal. After that we'll island hop through the Tuomotos on our way to Tahiti. We expect to be there by about early June. We'll cross the equator on this trip and celebrate becoming shellbacks. There are many traditional rites of passage involved, but we'll try to keep them appropriate to our crew.

I have still to do more grocery shopping, laundry and cleaning. I'm feeling pretty organized, but some things have to be done at the last minute. Peter is using our time in the marina to finish up a few "dockside" projects done. We will move over into the bay of Zihuatenajo on Saturday, where we will be closer to shopping and get better ham radio reception. Weather reports will be critical to us as we plan our departure and in the marina we have very limited reception.

Happy Easter to you all. Your prayers and letters are much appreciated.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Challenges of Cruising

Below is a letter Loon got from a friends friend who is cruising and is sooooo right thought I'd send it on. Some of you know this is true, some of you will learn it soon, and some will just have to take our word for it. __________________________________________________________________________ > When you pick up "Currents" or "Cruising World" it all seems so idyllic. Calm anchorages, warm clear water, laughing natives, and you bobbing contently in the bay without a care in the world. Ha!! > It's all about worry. Worry and work. Worry and work and incessant planning. And worry. You worry about the weather, you worry about your boat, you worry about your abilities, you worry about your spouse, you worry about your money, you worry, worry, worry. And you work. You work on the boat, you work on your dinghy, you work on your electrical system, you work on your engine, you work on your watermaker, you work on your computer. You work and work and work. > And you plan. Everything takes planning. The simplest things take planning. Going to the bathroom takes planing. Is the holding take full? When can I pump out again? How much deodorizer have I got and when is the next time I can get some? Ditto toilet paper. Do I have spares for the macerator pump? When was the last time I put vinegar in to clean the pipes? By the time you've run through the list you're so tensed up you don't have to go anymore. > And groceries!! You can't just get up and go to the store. Most times there isn't any store. And if there is you don't recognize anything. And getting there is a major chore. First you have to find a dinghy landing. And it may be through the surf so everything you take or bring back must be protected in case you dump. And you must find somewhere to lock it up since you look like Donald Trump to the locals and they assume you can buy a new dinghy motor every week without breaking a sweat. Freezer space is at a premium so you have to plan meals weeks in advance with cuts of meat you've never seen before. > Just going ashore takes planning. Does it look like it might rain? Do we lock up the boat and risk having the cat pass out from heart prostration when it gets to 100 degrees in the cabin? Are we going to want to take pictures? Do we want the bikes? Should we take water and a lunch? Do we need to take a light in case it's dark when we get back? Have we plugged in the anchor light? > Now we come to electrical consumption! It's a constant battle to keep batteries charged and all the systems running. We are forever checking the battery monitor and worrying about how muck power we are using. Trying to get as much out of the solar panels as possible. Trying to figure out how much fuel we are using running the engine to charge. And where is the next fuel stop? Do we have to jerry jug it? How much is it? Is a cab necessary to get to the station? When is the next oil change and where do I dispose of the used oil? Can I make Panama City before I run out of fuel and oil filters? Is the fuel I'm getting clean and is my baja filter working properly? Outboards are easy to get fixed down here since everyone has one, but diesel mechanics are . well, there aren't any. So that means you constantly worry about engine failure. Any little change in the sound of the engine is mini heart attack time. And just a note here - forget about brushing up on your sailing. You are going to be motoring 70% of the time. > And finally, route planning. Since charts down here can be relied upon about as much as your wife's ex- husband you have to worry about that too. No going in anywhere at night. Either the rocks aren't charted, the navigation lights are not working or the GPS shows you sailing down the Central American Highway two miles inland! So plan on getting everywhere in the daylight. And don't plan on anything being like the cruising guide says. Marinas are closed, the regulations for checking in and out of a country have changed and you no longer have the right documents. In one country it's $100 US to stay for five days and in the next, it's free. But you might have to go three hours on a chicken bus if you want to extend your visa. Inland trips mean planning where to leave the boat. Who will watch it, change the cat litter, start the engine to charge the batteries? Where do we stay? Can I eat that? Do we have enough money because nothing ever costs what they say it will cost? What will the weather be like while we're away and will the boat be safe at anchor? Am I losing my mind or is the fact that I'm sitting in the corner quietly weeping just a sign of senility? > So welcome to real cruising! Not the glossy magazine variety. If you don't have ulcers, you will. You better love your spouse because they are in your face 24/7. Learn to bite your tongue. Remember that everyone at home thinks you are relaxing on tropical beaches with some kind of rum drink in your hand and not a care in the world. Foster that notion. It's nice for them to think that someone escaped the rat race and is leading the good life. Reality would be too hard for them to take.

Friday, March 18, 2005


We had a wonderful potluck last Sunday with all our friends. It was a fair well party, as many friends are going north, many going south and just a few heading west. We made two rafts of two boats each, Icarian & Wyndeavor hosted appetizers and dinner, Imagine and Loon hosted coffee and dessert. There would have been a raft of 4, but the wind piped up and the captains vetoed the plan. We had 22 people in all. Marilyn presented Wyndeavor and Imagine with boat flags and poems. Aly on Loon made us all bead necklaces and I did up some stamped treat baskets with notes inside. These are friends that we have bonded with under difficult and wonderful circumstances, and I know the friendships will stand the test of time. We look forward to hooking up again with our Canadian friends back home. Bellingham is not so far from Vancouver after all.

"Imagine" by Marilyn Woodward, on "Icarian"

Imagine the dream that young Peter had, to sail the ocean so blue. Imagine finding a bride that agreed with his plan and they started raising their crew. Now with First Mate and Crew all nicely in place, he scoured the want ads at a serious pace. To Mexico he flew with a target to win, a beautiful CSY named, "Imagine."

Now Peter and Kellie worked their fingers to the bone, fixing up and selling their comfortable home. Imagine needed work to make her just right, one month 'til departure she was still quite a sight! September 2004, was the date that was set, they threw everything on board, Kellie tried not to fret. Untying the lines they were soon underway, a fantastic adventure began on that day.

Six months in with many friendships brand new, Wyndeavor, Icarian, and Loon III are a few. Young Ellie and Carter, our hearts they have won, as we enjoyed spending time in the tropical sun.

Alas we are coming to a parting of ways, "Imagine" turns right to the far off Marquese. We wish them "Bon Voyage" as they head on their way, but with e-mail and radio we want a constant play by play!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

back online

Well, we think this is now working from the boat, so we can keep you all informed better. Sorry about the lack of info. I hope to post daily once we're underway to French Polynesia.

We had a really nice time in Barra with Lou and Irene. We did our share of eating Camarones Ajo (garlic shrimp) which is a local specialty. We also bargained through the market stalls and socialized with other cruisers. Carter had saved his birthday money and bought himself a sombrero. He looks pretty great in it. On Wednesday we did the short trip back up to Tenacatita so we could enjoy the beach. We stayed until Friday morning. Pete took them up the jungle river trip and we made lots of sandcastles.

We're currently in Ixtapa marina awaiting the arrival of my parents and Peter's cousins. We'll be here until about the 29th, when we plan to head west. We're actively doing last minute projects, laundry, provisioning and organizing.

Provisioning went relatively well yesterday. We had no problems with the buses, I guess we're getting pretty good at public transportation. As usual the port captain thing took too long though. It's very hot here, so the kids and I wilted a bit walking around town. Zihuat is nice, a lot like Barra only considerably bigger. There are real stores here as well as the tourist stuff, even a Dominos Pizza. There is a Bodega grocery, owned by Walmart, they had most of what I wanted. There are also two more large grocery stores and a market, so we should be able to find everything. My shopping list is a bit daunting, and putting it all away is even crazier.

It's very hot here and the humidity is high, both in the 80's. We've also been infested with biting bugs. My ankles have been chewed up. We have been seeing crocodiles in the marina. We have banned the kids from the docks. The one that hangs out near us is about 9 feet long. THey show up around sunset and cruise around. They can also get up on the docks. Scary. We had to wait for one to move out yesterday as we dinghied over to a friend's boat.

Well, I'm doing laundry, school and stowing provisions. Better get back to work.

Monday, March 14, 2005

On our way to Zijuatanejo

We had a wonderful time in Tenacatita and Barra de Navidad over the last few weeks. My mom and her friend Irene came to visit for a week, but it seemed to go by in only a few days. It was a difficult last few days because we had a bunch of goodbyes hanging over us. My mom and Irene were first off, then more heart wrenching goodbyes to our dear friends on Loon and Icarian. They're both spending another year exploring the Sea of Cortez, and it will probably be a few years before we see them again once we're all back home. Many tears were shed and thoughtful gifts exchanged in the last few days together, but yesterday we finally had to haul anchor and get moving. Thankfully it's been a peaceful sail over the last 24 hours and we're making good time in the right direction! If the wind cooperates, we may be able to stop briefly at a small bay near Coleta de Campos, about 50 miles north of Ixtapa. We'll only have enough time for a quick run on the beach, dinner and a few hours sleep before we have to continue on to make it to Ixtapa Tuesday AM. We're looking forward to Kellie's folks arriving on Thursday!


Thursday, March 03, 2005

Hi from the Gold Coast

Hi from the sunny Gold Coast. Actually this is the first day that the sun has been out in a while. It’s been a bit of a relief to have some clouds and rain. It’s still warm enough for shorts, but we’ve put a blanket back on the bed. Now today it’s back to stifling hot and we’re looking forward to a swim. We’ve moved about 20 miles south of Tenacatita, to the small town of Melaque. We can do Internet here and grocery shop. I’m planning to start canning meat for our month long crossing to French Polynesia. I hope to have 2-3 months worth of food on board when we leave. We’re looking forward to a visit from Pete’s mom this next week. Her and her long time friend, Irene, are coming for a week. Our week will be bittersweet though, as we say goodbye to our very good friends on Loon and Icarian. We will head south and they are planning to spend the next year in Mexico. I know tears will flow, as we say our goodbyes. We have had some very nice days lately and enjoyed staying in one spot for 2 weeks. The snorkeling was good, and the kids are really improving their water skills. We also did a nature walk one morning and saw crocodiles, iguanas and some very colorful birds. The kids enjoyed that very much. We can really use your prayers this next 2 months as we gear up for our “puddle jump” as they call it down here and our days at sea. I’m really concerned about boredom and comfort. We are very happy to be having crew, to help keep us rested. Love to you all, Kellie