Saturday, December 25, 2010


Being away from family and friends is the awlful part of cruising. 

Merry Christmas Stacy, Kurt, Kevin, Lani, Don, Peggy, Nancy. 

Merry Christmas to all our friends.

Judy, Paul, Kris

Thursday, December 23, 2010



Several years ago we bought a modest unit in this development. Construction had just started.  When we made our initial deposit it was little more then a hole in the ground  We were wrapped up in pre 2008 thoughts: "There is a limited amount of beach front property, if we wait, we will be priced out." So we anted up. Times have changed, and like the stock market, condo prices plummeted. Unlike the market however, Mexican real estate is still in the dumps.

Last week, while we were in the business office getting a property tax statement, a sales person approached us and offered a "fantastic" deal on upgrading from our two bedrooms to a three bedroom unit. We checked the unit out and fell in love with it. Bad mistake! But before deciding to make an offer, we talked with several other owners who had upgraded. They all said the asking price was only a starting point. The developer would negotiate. Cool! We figured a price that would work for us, only about 10% below the asking price. All we had to do was make the offer, they would gladly accept, and we could take possession.

We began decorating the place in our minds, deciding which bedroom would be the den, how we would change the kitchen, where furniture would go, and so on. We had already moved into the place. Not a good mental frame of mind before starting to negotiate.

Unfortunately, when we met the sales manager, there was no flexibility in the asking price. Take it or leave it.  We planned on paying with money from our 401k.  The withdrawal would be taxed as ordinary income.  The asking price and the tax burden made the deal impossible for us, so we had to walk out empty handed. For a spoiled Baby Boomer,  not getting what I wanted so badly was frustrating.

I wish we had never started that day dream. The crash back to reality was bruising.

Oh well.

Monday, December 20, 2010


I love these guys.  They are the ugly ducklings of sea birds, until they get airborne.  The huge bills that appear so ungainly on land are in perfect proportion with thier graceful wings.  Once airborne they are transformed.

Thier fishing technique does not look healthy.  They will soar about, sometimes quite high, then peal left or right and plunge into the sea at high speed.  We have heard they suffer eye damage on occasion.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Our son Kris is visiting us thru the end of the year, and Buster, our lost cat, is back home. 

Our search for Buster took a turn for the better Friday night when we dropped the dingy in the water and searched the shore in front of homes built along a network of channels that connect with the marina.  And we found him walking along the stone breakwater, but scared him away with our spotlight and over enthusiastic calls.  Having seen and lost him, we spent a distressed hour searching through yards, half expecting to be confronted by security guards or alarmed homeowners, before finding him again hiding in a dark corner under a tarp covering a kayak.  He started howling when he heard me calling, but was so freaked out that it took several minutes of pleading to convince him to come out.  He circled me several times, the circles becoming smaller and smaller, until he ended up rubbing up against my legs.  I grabbed him up and dashed away from the house.

He was only a few hundred yards away from the boat, and could have been home under his own power by walking along the breakwater for ten minutes or so.  Any normal cat with an IQ of 5 or 6 would have been home the first night, but we are beginning to think 19 year old Buster might have Alzhiemers.

Kris is visiting Mexico for the first time, and is very happy to have left winter in Seattle.  We hope to do some trips into town and around Bandares Bay while he is here.  Maybe throw in a canopy ride, and visit a time share presentation.  Yahoo!

A little more on Guanajuato. 

Churches.  There are more per capita here then anyplace I've been.  More even then Ballard.  But unlike the humble churchs the Norweigens built in Ballard, Guanajuato churches are palaces built, in my biased opinion, more to glorify the builders then God.  While these worthies constructed grand temples, populating the alter reredos, with armies of stone angels, saints and dieties, hundreds of feet below the church foundations, an army of peasants struggled and died in the hard Mexican rock, extracting the silver ore that paid for the splendor above.

Yeah, I've got an attitude about this.  I was Catholic once, attending Catholic High School and Catholic College long enough to come across the commandment "Love your neighbor as yourself."  I think this means taking care of the poor is more beneficial to one's soul then building stone idols.







Thursday, December 16, 2010



Arriving home last night from our trip to Guanajuato, we immediately knew something was wrong when Merideth, our boat and cat sitter, responded with a dispondant "OK" when asked how things were going.  It was Buster.  He had wandered off Sunday evening and as of Wednesday night has not come home.  He is either having a great time ashore, or has gotten himself lost.  Being a very old fellow we doubt he could party this long, so we're pretty sure he has gone lost.

There is some hope though, he has been spotted in the neighborhood ajoining the marina.  We have posted signs and will go out looking again tonight. 

We miss him.  Coming home we were looking forward to the evening listening to his complaints about us being gone so long, and then having him happily settling in between us in the V-berth.

Guanajuato was wonderful.  It is an old silver mining town, having produced vast amounts starting in the 17th century with production continuing into the early twentieth.  Some of the money managed to stay at home, and was invested in building a beautiful European style town, with a church on practically every street, some rivaling the splendor of the best of the old country.  We hope to return again.



While I play with the blog, Judy is off on a Costco run with Sue and Gary, former cruisers, who stopped by the boat several days ago.  One of the greatest benefits cruising offers is the chance to meet such wonderful people.  When she gets back we are off to the airport to say goodbye to Jerry and Randi our travelling companions, who are returning to winter in Seattle.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Yea, finally got a connection.  We are staying with friends who are linked up.

We are moored in Marina Vallarta, just north of downtown Puerto Vallarta.  They have no wifi.  There is a network available at outrageous rates.  We have been trying to get set up with internet thru TelCel, the Mexican equivalent of Verizon, but after three visits to the office, we are still waiting for them to complete the process.

We are going inland for a couple days, and hopefully TelCel will have gotten us set up by the the time we get back. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I'm a worry-wart.  I worry about everything.  If we're going on vacation I worry about getting to the airport on time, then I worry about getting into the shortest security line, then I worry that all the overhead bins will be full and we will have to share the seat with our carry-ons, then I worry that we are taking off to close behind the previous jet, and we will be driven into the ground by his wake turbulence.  I worry when I see other jet traffic in the air. I worry our checked bags will not arrive with us.  If we are travelling to Mexico I worry about getting into the shortest immigration line, getting a red light at customs and having our bags searched. I worry about paying to much for the cab ride, that our rooms will not be on the ocean side of the hotel, about where to go for dinner and on and on.....And all the while Judy is not worried about a thing.  This worries me.


The day before this picture, while we were motoring in light air, our engine temprature guage shot up to the top of the scale.  We thought our motor was overheating so we shut it down and did not use it, even though the winds were very light and we had a hard time keeping the boat moving.  As we were approaching Cabo the winds picked up and I started to hand stear because the autopilot was not handling the beam seas well.  I was worried about holding the line that would get us around the Cape.  It was going to be dark when we arrived, so I was worried about that.  The sea bottom off Cabo San Lucas comes up to anchoring depth very close to the beach.  So I was worried about coming in close to the surf in the dark, without an engine, under sail, and dropping the hook without running over any innocents splashing in the surf.

I am worried that I worry to much.  I have talked with my good friend Gale, and eminent mental health consultant about this, I have offered him a week in paradise with us in exchange for a week of psychotherapy.  I 'm worried he won't take me up on it.

We are off to Puerto Vallarta this morning.  Its some 280 miles away.  I hope I can find it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010








We're here, tied up snug as a bug in the world's most expensive marina.  But it's worth it for a day or two.

Had an interesting trip down the outside of Baja.  I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to think of it.  Off to bed.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


This afternoon we took a run up to the high valleys east of Ensenada to wine country.  It remined me a lot of eastern Washington with it's high sere hills and fertile valley bottoms.  They grow a lot of grapes here and make some good wine.  They also make a lot of wine that struggles to be ordinary.  The wine from the L. A. Cetto winery was good, and very affordable. 


The last couple days have been spent with Angelica, her husband Alfonso and Caroline their daughter.  They are friends of friends of friends, and we were lucky to have had Angelica's help getting through the Mexico check in process.  She would be happy to assist other cruisers with this, and is a good guide to the Ensenada area.  Her email is: peraltaangelicalina at and phone is 001 619 838 3568.  We paid her gas plus $35 for the day.

Now, off to bed, then Turtle Bay.


We're currently clinging precariously to the dock at Baja Naval Marina.  The surge here is the worst we have seen so far.  The boat is being flung this way and that, only stopping when the dock lines are stretched out straight and vibrating from the strain.  The funny thing is the water looks calm.  No waves, wakes, or other discernable disturbances, but the boat is dancing in tune with something.  Must be eddies caused by the breakwaters.

Ever wonder where old Washington ferries end up after the state is done with them?  I never have, but if you have, then here's your answer:  Ensenada.


 We're off for the Ensenada wine country this morning, then will top off the fuel and water this afternoon and depart for Turtle Bay in the morning.  Turtle Bay, or more correctly, Bahia San Bartolome is about 275 miles from here.  The weather looks very settled for the next few days, with light and variable winds, so we may end up motoring a bunch.  Again.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Today's the day!  Mexico here we come. 

I am experiencing a bit of ambivalence about it. San Diego is such a nice place.  It has the weather, scenery, ocean, shopping, boat parts, Internet.  Everything a person could want.  Except perhaps adventure.  Living here is predictable, safe, secure and familiar.

Who needs that?

At my age it's good to get the crap scared out of me on occasion.  But the wall of worry I erect for myself is probably the second component of my ambivalence.  We will be leaving the Coast Guard, NOAA weather, clean fuel and heading off into some fairly remote areas.  I worry about how systems like our water maker, SSB radio, our Volvo engine and all will work.  We will be away from instant help and close parts and supplies.  Oh well, been though this before and am getting used to it.

One thing we don't really worry about is getting involved in the violence that plagues Mexico right now.  We're just ma and pa cruisers and it has not impacted Gringo boaters much, if at all.  We'll just mind our own business, and try to stay out of the cross fire.

The stop in San Diego has been the least productive yet.  We didn't seem to get much done on the boat, and didn't do the tourist thing either.  We finally got to Balboa Part yesterday and the day before.  It's fantastic, except for the Japanese Garden.  I was severely disappointed, hoping to find another masterpiece like the San Francisco garden, but it just did not measure up.  Mostly because it is still so new.  Most of the plantings were barely beyond the seedling stage.  Probably will be nice in 30 or 40 years.





Our first stop is going to be Coronado Island, about 15 miles south of San Diego, then next will be Ensenada to check in, and then on down to Cabo and points south.  Cabo is about 750 miles from here, and we expect the trip will take, with rest stops, about 12 days. 

Don't know when we will have Internet, so long for now.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Got our dinghy wheels installed.  What should have only taken a morning turned into a two day job.  A lot of that time was spent riding a bus to the marine store to get needed supplies, and back.  The bus service here is pretty good, but we had to walk about a mile on each end.  The  issue that made the installation a pain was a void in the transom.  The manufacturer should have laid it up solid to better carry the loads imposed by the outboard motor.  A solid transom would also allow me the tighten the bolts holding the wheels on without worrying about squeezing and cracking the fiberglass.  My solution was to drill a bunch of holes and inject epoxy into the void, creating a hard spot for the bolt. 

It's kind of odd seeing a big ol' set of wheels hanging on the dinghy.  They do swing up when we are out on the water trying to get somewhere, and then swing down when coming ashore.  The idea is to run in on the back of a wave until the wheels hit the shore, then Judy jumps off at the bow and pulls us up out of the break.  Theoretically.  I have seen a dinghy launched about five feet into the air, spilling people, fuel tanks, beer and cameras.  And that was only about a two foot break.  Gonna be high anxiety the first few times.

Injecting the epoxy was a gooey job.  There should be a law against me doing gooey jobs.  If there is the smallest possibility of making a mess, I create a catastrophe.  The epoxy job was a disaster.  I spread the goo everywhere possible.  But, being an old fart, I am learning to outfox the goo.  I wear gloves, and change them minute to minute, I spread tarps, I apply reams of tape, I have Judy stand by with rags and advice, and I have gallons of acetone at hand for mop up.  And I need it all.  But at the end of the day everything kind of looks OK.

Today I went around and spread a special black caulk into and around some of the deck seams that were starting to fail.  Same drill, gloves, tape, tarps, Judy and acetone.  Got it done and it's looking good.

Tomorrow I will start to learn how to run our short wave radio.  We need it to get weather.  No internet to get the NOAA weather reports, we have to download them through our radio.  This is kind of like being back in college.  Back then I never cracked a book until the last week of the semester.  My education, what there was of it, occurred on those NoDoz overnighters just before finals.  I remember whining to my friend, Gale, that I was gonna grow up soon and not have to do this anymore.  Well, forty years later, I've got two or three days to learn the process, starting with: "Which dial turns this thing on?"  Oh well, I'm to old to grow up, so I guess I'll just have to deal with it.

One other thing, we're still in San Diego.  It's warm, shorts and tee shirt weather.  

Monday, November 8, 2010


....even here in San Diego.  It should pass through this morning, with the sun returning this afternoon.

We took a drive through downtown yesterday on our way home from Costco.  All those high rise buildings that I thought were the business core of San Diego turned out to be condos.  I didn't see a single office building.  Got me to wondering what San Diego does to earn a living.  Apart from the very large Naval presence and a booming airport (literally) there doesn't seem to be much, other than tourism.  I googled a bit this morning, and about the only recognizable businesses based here are Qualcomm and Jack In the Box.

Maybe being warm and pretty is enough.

Friday, November 5, 2010


It's still summer down here.  Right now it is 76 degrees, last night it was over 80.  It had me wishing that the fans currently residing in their boxes in the the quarter-berth were mounted and running.  It has been sunny since we arrived, and I don't think any changes are immanent. 

Judy found a great restaurant just a short walk down the road.  Wednesday was lobster night: one pound fresh Maine lobster for $9.99.  Thursday we came back and split a hamburger and tonight it was $11.99 prime rib.  Good prime rib.  Mostly meat, not much fat.  One inch thick.  With a baked potato.  We also had mohitos.


Tomorrow we're gonna rent a car for the weekend and do our Costco run.  Everybody does a Costco run.  You can't go to Mexico before Costco, even though the have food down there.

Got the insurance all worked out.  We are now covered from Vancouver Island to Acapulco.  If we go further south we get to pay more.

Other then that just another boring day.  Missing the adventure part of this cruise.  We need to get on down to Mexico.