Thursday, June 24, 2010

Safe & hot in La Paz

Just a short post to let you know we arrived yesterday morning into La Paz after a long motor sail crossing from Mazatlan.  It was a smooth sail, or should I say motor; I wish there was more wind!  Now in La Paz where it is 100 degrees in the shade so we are drinking lots of fluids!  Fortunately it cools down pretty substantially at night.  Now catching up on sleep after our 38 hour crossing.

More later.

Michael (in La Paz)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Waiting for Wind

We’ve been waiting for wind to allow us to make the southern Sea of Cortez crossing by sail as opposed to motor.  We have done so little sailing that I’m afraid I’ve forgotten how.  We thought this would be a ‘sailing’ trip but the truth is that you simply live on your boat most of the time, and then use it to go from point A to point B every 10 to 30 days or so.  And whenever we’ve moved our boat, the wind has either been on our nose, or there’s been no wind at all (for those non-sailors, you cannot sail into the wind).  Michael’s joke is that when we’ve even taken a day trip out to an island, the wind’s been on our nose on our way there, and then switches around to be on our nose again on the way back. 

We were supposed to make the crossing two days after we got back from Toronto but that was over a week ago.  Then we thought for sure we’d leave last Wednesday and so did our major provisioning to keep us going for four weeks (not that the crossing takes four weeks but we wanted to have the option of not going into La Paz until mid-July if we so choose).  Five days later, we’re still here – and with loads of groceries on board.  It’s actually been nice to have the extra days – sort of like when I am preparing for company for dinner and I always wish I had an extra hour. But this has given us many extra hours...

IMG_8505IMG_8511Not that it's been a problem. We’ve been spending the days homeschooling (only ten more days to the official homeschool program, although we'll continue with 'extras' over the summer), swimming at the El Cid Marina and Resort which has great slides and an even greater Happy Hour (we’ve befriended the waiters so that some days Happy Hour has become Happy Day).  We’ve been to the market, we’ve been biking, we’ve tried to get into the Pacifico Brewery tour but couldn’t, we’ve been to an amazing free outdoor concert last weekend and also an amazing free outdoor dance tribute to Michael Jackson this weekend.  Michael’s been running again and I’ve been doing yoga every morning.  We had a relaxing Fathers Day sans homeschooling (Michael got several items he’s happy with including a spear gun for fishing in the Sea, some fishing gear, some clothes, and a new waterproof wallet so he can stop using a Ziplock bag for his money). We’ve spent much of our time with our friends Vicki and Larry Byers (s/v Rocinante) – we’ve become quite close and feel as though they are family. Mazatlan has been very good to us.

They are forecasting 10-15 knots of wind for tomorrow so we’re out of here tomorrow at 8 a.m.  We’ll be buddy boating across the Sea with Rocinante – it will be comforting to know they’ll be close by.  Am feeling the excitement of a long passage as we wash down our boat (dock water), charge everything that needs charging (dock power), empty garbage cans, and stow everything away. 

We’ll see you on the other side, as they say.

-Barbara (from Mazatlan - this time it's really for the last time)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Comments Welcome

Oops.  For a while we were wondering why we hadn't gotten ANY comments, and were thinking it's because we've been posting blogs so often that no one has had a chance to catch up and digest.  Apparently, that was not so, but rather the Comment setting on our blog had somehow been changed to Members Only.  Whatever that means, our regular commenters and certainly our not so regular commenters were not able to post comments.  We've rectified that and you should be able to comment once again.  And please do - we love hearing from you all.  And it is our life line to land.

-Barb (still in Mazatlan)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Double Viva Mexico!!

We had an exciting day on two accounts.  First, Mexico won the Mexico vs. France World Cup soccer game 2-0.  I don’t usually follow sports, but it was hard not to here in Mazatlan.  As we walked through neighborhoods, dozens of houses had their doors wide open, their TV’s blaring, and their cheering heard.  Storefronts and stalls in the markets and along the streets had their TVs blaring with crowds hovered around them.  Everywhere we went, people had the Mexican colors (green, red and white) painted on their faces.  It was great national spirit.

And speaking of spirit, the State of Sinaloa and the City of Mazatlan are both in the midst of political campaigning for Governor and Municipal President (aka Mayor).  Everywhere you go, there are rallies, loudspeakers, parades, signs and crowds campaigning for one candidate or another. Trucks and cars whiz by covered in campaign signs and slogans with loudspeakers blaring their messages. It’s quite different than in Canada and the States, where the campaigning is about 1000 decibels lower.  But in Mexico it really seems to be about the people.  The campaigning is really at the people’s level.  Today we were at the Municipal Central Market and one of the candidates for Governor, together with one of the candidates for Municipal President, was giving away free chickens at one of the stalls.  

IMG_8500The crowds were going wild, the band was playing cheerfully (and loudly), and the excitement was truly catchy – and we didn’t even know who the candidates were or what they stood for.  I suspect this is what IMG_8501campaigning used to be like in the US in the old days when a candidate would hop the train and stop in the towns where a crowd would gather, speeches would be given and bands would play.

We’ll miss the actual election, which is scheduled for July 4.  Interesting date on many levels.

-Barbara (still in Mazatlan) 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

You Learn Something New About Your Boat Every Day

You learn something new about your boat everyday.  For example, we recently discovered that our freezer is hooked up to the battery that is dedicated solely (at least we thought) to starting our port engine.  The reason for having dedicated batteries targeted for engine starting is so that if you find yourself having drained the bank of house batteries, there’s no wind to sail or there’s an emergency and you need to make a quick exit, you can always start your engines.

Since buying our boat, we’ve never been away from it without starting the engines for more than 10 days, so there’s no way we could have known that the pump that is used as part of running our freezer gets its power from the port starter battery.  This starter (and I guess now freezer pump) battery is not on the inverter/charger that keeps our house batteries and starboard engine starting battery charged.  Therefore it does not get charged without running the port engine and having the alternator charge the battery.  It had been over two weeks since we had started the engines, and it appears that the freezer (which actually runs on 110 volts either from shore power or by running our inverter or generator) completely drained the battery, even though we were on shore power.  The small 12 volt sea water pump that is connected to the port engine battery used to pump water for use in running the freezer was the culprit that actually drained the battery. 

How did we discover that the freezer pump drained our port starter battery?  First, the freezer indicator light went to low battery, and we thought something was broken, since we’d been on shore power.  We searched online to find a solution but could not.  When we decided the next morning to take the boat out in order to start the engines, empty the heads (toilets), and make some water, the port engine wouldn’t start.  However, the starboard engine started just fine.  This was one time that I was elated that that engine wouldn’t start.  It explained the low battery indicator light on the freezer! 

We actually have a charger for our port engine battery but we’ve never used it.  It was explained to us when we bought the boat to be a back up in case our main inverter/charger did not work.  If the battery isn’t being used there is no real need to have the charger on.  (Of course for extended non-use you would probably want to keep a trickle charge on the battery.) 

So, in order to start our port engine, we have a back up switch that will allow us to start the engine with our house batteries (in case our starter batteries are drained).  We then recharged the battery with the alternator.  Once we did this the freezer worked again and the engine started again – no problems!

Every boat is different.  Systems are different, wiring is different, technology is different.  Just when you think you understand it all, it throws another curve ball at you.  It’s a great way to keep exercising your problem solving skills, that’s for sure. Lesson learned:  we’ve now turned on the port battery charger so that the shore power will also keep that battery charged as well as keep our freezer running. All’s well that ends well.

-Michael (in Mazatlan)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cruisers are like Pioneers

Harrison has been reading a book called, Smiling Hill Farm, by Miriam E. Mason, about American pioneers moving westward from Virginia to Ohio in the 1800's.  His writing assignment was to compare and contrast the lives of pioneers with those of cruisers.  We were astounded at how many similarities there are! Here is his composition:

Cruisers are just like pioneers in some ways.  For example, we live in nature and respect it.  They also lived in nature and respected it.  But the difference is curisers live on water and pioneers lived on land.  Another thing in common is adventure or the unknown because pioneers explored for new land and we have adventures exploring towns and places we've never been before. 

Next, we both have fishing in common.  We both catch fish to eat but the difference is that the pioneers fished from land and we usually fish from the water.  Fourth, we all have extra provisions that we keep.  The difference is we keep them in our bilge and they kept them in sotrerooms.

Finally, I get homeschooled just like pioneers did.  Do you think pioneer children had to write a compostion like this one?


Teletubbies aboard Whatcha Gonna Do

Our jellyfish suits have arrived. 
We’ll be well protected.
-Barb at the Singlar Marina, Mazatlan, Sinaloa

Surprise Toronto Visit

This post was written on the way to Toronto last week:

Michael’s mother just sold her house of 35 years.  It’s the house Michael grew up in, and there are a lot of memories.  He had been looking for flights to Toronto for quite some time now – ever since he found out that the house was being put on the market – so that he could go back, help his mom with packing and other moving-related tasks, and visit the house for one last time.  Airline prices have been ridiculously expensive until suddenly, this past Sunday morning, flights came up that were not to be passed up.  In fact, they were so good that we have all decided to go.  The catch was that we had to leave in four days, and return 7 or 8 days later.  We reserved the tickets right then and there, and it’s good we did because the deal was gone within hours. We spent the last couple of days packing and getting the boat ready to leave. 

Here we are now, on our way to Toronto.  We are very excited to see family – in addition to Michael’s mom, his two sisters and their families, as well as my mother/stepdad and two sisters and their families all live there.  It’s my niece Hailey’s birthday today (HAPPY BIRTHDAY HAILEY!!) and we’ll also be there to celebrate my nephew Ethan’s birthday.  We usually go for three weeks in the summer, so in comparison this will be a quick visit – but we’ll take what we can get!

The visit will likely be a bit nostalgic for Michael especially.  I remember when my mother moved out of her house after my dad passed away, and after spending a couple of days going through some old boxes in her basement, I was melancholy for days.  Even for the newer members of our family, we’ve formed some great memories in that house.  It’s had me think about what makes a home, and living on a boat has confirmed for me that it’s wherever you choose to make it.  Memories made in a home become a part of you and help define who you are and what choices you make, no matter where you go from there.  Although change can be difficult, it’s comforting to know that no one can take your experiences and memories away from you. I know it will be the same for Michael, his mom, and everyone else who’s been so vested in that vibrant home, so full of activity and love.

Toronto: Here We Come!!

Signing off from somewhere in the air en route Mexico City to Dallas,

Addendum:  We are now back ‘home’ on our boat and the trip was a huge success. It was my first time out of Mexico in seven months and what I found interesting was that I have begun to feel the same level of familiarity in Mexico as I do in Toronto. While Toronto was once my 'hometown', it has changed drastically since I left in 1994, and I found myself not knowing the city as well as I used to. On the other hand, we have stayed in several Mexican locations long enough to know our way around and where to find things we might need.

As far as the purpose of our trip, we helped Michael’s mom pack up a bit (his sisters already did the vast majority with her), and Michael did some other moving related tasks (Craigslist listings, disassembling and assembling things, and so on).  We saw family, celebrated birthdays, did lots of catching up, had a lot of laughs and even more food.  It was a whirlwind – a pace that we are no longer accustomed to so it’s been great to slow down once again.  But the trip was everything we had hoped it would be, and Michael’s mom is well on her way to her new life in her beautiful new home, with all her memories in tow.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Addendum to Mimi’s Blog

I failed to mention in my last blog post, Mimi’s Blog, that you may have heard me write or speak about Mimi before in the context of the LIVESTRONG Challenge over the last two years.  Michael, Danielle, Harrison and I have participated in this bike ride, now in its third year in San Jose, CA, to help raise money in support of the fight against cancer.  Mimi, together with her husband Bob Rebitzer and daughters Elana (12) and Maya (10), has been the fearless captain of our team, the Lung Cancer Tumornators.  The ride this year will be on July 11, 2010, and unfortunately (a) Mimi will not be able to ride due to her breathing challenges, and (b) for obvious reasons, Michael, Danielle, Harrison and I will not be able to participate.

The LIVESTRONG Challenge raises money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation which inspires and empowers people affected by cancer. It provides education resources and support to cancer survivors, and advocates to make cancer a national priority. The LAF believes that unity is strength, knowledge is power, and attitude is everything.

Mimi could be the poster child for the LAF. As far as attitude and knowledge go, Mimi attributes her beating the odds to both of these factors.  As for unity, last year, our team was 50 members strong and raised more than $26,800.  Mimi herself received an award for her tireless volunteer work to raise cancer awareness in our community. Our team members ranged in age from approximately 8 to 60+ years young.  You must also know that riders are required to raise a minimum of $250, regardless of their age.

Although we can’t be there in person this year, we are proud to support the Lung Cancer Tumornators.  We continue our hope to make a difference in the battle against cancer – and hope you can too. As Mimi continues her struggle, please support her and the Lung Cancer Tumornators by making a donation of any amount by going to their team page (click here).

To all of you:  we wish you continued good health.  LIVESTRONG!


P.S. At the time of writing, only a fraction of the team members have registered. I recall that this happened last year as well (in fact I think we signed up around June 30), but I have no doubt this team will pull together once again this year and make another smashing showing…

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mimi’s Blog

Our friend Mimi Arfin is one of the most courageous people we know.  She was diagnosed with lung cancer over 5 years ago and continues to beat the odds – and still with a sense of humor.  You may recall that she and her family (husband Bob Rebitzer and daughters, Elana and Maya) came for a fabulous visit in December, and we are now honored to be part of their blog.  Their post about the visit is entitled Adventure on the Mexican Seas, and if you click here, you’ll be able to read more about it, see more photos, and especially to read about her courageous fight – all with a talent for writing - and did I mention her incredible sense of humor?

-Barb in Mazatlan