March 8, 2017

We need your help!

As we get ready to sell the boat, we're painting the entire outside and lots of the inside. It was frankly, time, especially for the exterior.

But our current hull wavy stripe paint scheme might not appeal to all potential buyers - so we are asking your help. Please email us or post in the comments section which is the hull stripe scheme you think would appeal to most buyers.

The bridgedeck cabin on our boat is a bit tall (I'm 6'-1") and has pretty good clearance above the water. The hulls are low and sleek. Which makes the cabin a bit bulky looking. So the best stripe scheme will help minimize this too.

- Evan

March 6, 2017

Passing the Baton—Puddlejump Fleet of 2017

One of the coolest aspects of being back in La Cruz has been having a chance to get to know the fleet of 2017 (plus a whole lot of other boats). Having made it the whole way round, and still smiling, gives us a perspective that a lot of the crews here don’t have yet. We didn’t fall off the edge, get swept up in storms, we weren’t captured by pirates and didn’t succumb to dragons.

And we managed to eat well, the whole way around.

As I mentioned before, in many ways, La Cruz is our ‘home’ port. We first spent an extended stay here in 1997 and over the years we’ve built up a little network of local friends and favourite things which make it clear that even when we don’t have a boat down here—we’ll still find our way back.

The kids thanking Cat for all the great things she puts together for them
burgee painting--to let other kids know there are children aboard
Our pivotal year here was 2011—the year we jumped. Between planning our Pacific Crossing with friends, buying way more stuff than we needed to, and prepping the boat (while stressing more than we should have) we attended seminars and parties which were coordinated by Mike and Cat (PV Mike and La Cruz Marina Cat).

The kids ran a taco restaurant for the day, for tips. Afterward they were able to donate a portion of their tips back to the community.
I’m not sure the fleet here (or the management at Marina Nayarit for that matter) has any idea of the incredible wealth of skills, knowledge, energy and generosity that Cat and Mike bring to the community. They are the sort of quietly giving people who are easy to take for granted—despite the fact that between them they volunteer to coordinate and run dozens of free puddlejump and WWS seminars and workshops—something we haven’t encountered in any marina outside of La Cruz.

Evan and Darrell on Wiz running a hand-on fibreglass workshop

Their enthusiasm for getting the annual fleet educated and ready to go is inspiring. Thanks to them--hundreds of sailors leave here each year a little more confident and a lot better educated. Thanks to them we’ve been lucky enough to share our knowledge and experiences in over a half-dozen talks and seminars over the past two months including Pacific Provisioning, Hands-on-Fibreglassing, Being a Kid on a Boat (Maia), Repairs in Exotic Locations, Travel Writing and Ocean Routing.

Dozens of people came out to hear me and Deb on Coastal Drifter talk about how we provision-she's organized, I'm not.
The experience has been a blast (though super labour intensive—it takes a long time to plan a two hour talk…). As a family we’ve been able to go back through our memories and really savour them—thinking about the highlights, the challenges and the successes. From the memories we've been able to build up talks of lessons learned and ideas we want to pass along.

While the talks have taken a lot of time away from prepping the boat for sale—something that we need to keep at the forefront of our planning if we're ever going to get home. And from my writing work—I have so many cool stories on the go right now that I fell quite divided up. It has been an absolute honour to be part of other people’s dreams—if only in a small way.

Maybe that’s what keeps Mike and Cat giving so much of their time and energy to the fleet year after year—that chance to help someone else make their dream come true.

As always--along with the work, there's lots of fun
For us—the past couple of months have been a chance to give back. We've had the opportunity pay forward all the small moments where people helped us meet our goals and fulfill our dreams: It's almost like saying thank-you in reverse.

It takes a village to get a boat across an ocean—and La Cruz is still one of the best villages we know.

February 4, 2017

La vida La Cruz

 Our weeks in La Cruz have been a bit of a whirlwind. Between catching up with old friends, meeting new friends, giving various talks (between the three of us, we’re up to six) and prepping the boat for sale, we’ve been joyfully re-engaging in La vida La Cruz.

La Cruz has felt like one of our international homes for over 20-years now and though my Spanish is nowhere near what it should be for the number of years I’ve spent in this country, my love of Mexico and Mexicans continues to grow.

Last week was the Our Lady of Peace Festival in Bucerais. Our first memories of the festival, a parade of toritos shooting of fireworks and a yummy warm rum drink served in a clay mug, date back over twenty years.

 Back then I don’t think we had any idea that the tradition of our Lady of Peace goes back to a December night in the 7th century when a fellow called Ildephonse entered the Cathedral of Toledo and found the Virgin Mary sitting on the archbishop’s chair. She gave him a cloak and he interpreted the gift as her approval of the work he was doing. Ildephonse died on Jan 23rd, and the next day, Jan 24th, was dedicated to remember the miracle.

How Saint Ildephonse became the patron saint of a wee west coast fishing village in Mexico is a detail that’s no doubt lost to time. But while no one seemed to have a clear reason for the celebration—it doesn’t stop the fun.

Day and night-time are very different in the town: daytime is the domain of gringo tourists. There’s a Catholic mass (not so gringo) followed by a ceremony and dance by indigenous people (a little more gringo) and by the time the fishing boats make a high speed run for the beach filled with sunburnt faces I think most of the Mexicans have headed home for a siesta in preparation for the night’s festivities.

This is where most gringos go wrong. We keep wandering around the festival, fading in the heat. By the time the sun sets, the multiple competing brass bands show up (or it could be one really big band that plays badly together), the gambling stalls open and the drinks start to flow the gringos are at home soothing their sore feet and the locals are dressed in their best and just getting started.

It’s worth doing the festival the Mexican way. After strolling streets and checking out the rides and stalls the highlight is always the Castillo—a three-story fireworks structure that spins, whirls and explodes. It never grows old. Part of the spectacle, as sparks fly into the crowd, is making sure your neighbour doesn’t catch fire.

After the fun of Bucerais (with a few excellent taco and music nights in between) we found a charreada. If we hadn’t been to one in the past—and known they were worth seeking out, we may have missed out. But luckily we caught day two of a four-day International competition in the new Arena Vallarta. 

 The setting was gorgeous. And while the rodeo is probably similar to rodeos around the world—it’s really the atmosphere I love. Between the charros in their stately (but vaguely ridiculous) sombreros, the women in the colourful adilita costumes, the mariachi bands and the gorgeous animals it’s hard not to be entranced by the scene.

This time we knew a bit more about what we were looking at—and even recall a few of the scoring details. Mostly though we just soaked it up and shared it with friends.

January 29, 2017

Parachute Flare Testing!

A recent festival in the neighboring town of Bucerias gave me a good excuse to fire off some expired parachute flares. Nobody will notice them with all the fireworks going off right? To my surprise they gathered a big crowd on the beach when I started firing them in rapid sequence (after the main fireworks were all over). Lots of Mexicans wanted to know where to buy them - but were disappointed that they cost over 800 pesos each!

Test Results

Comet SOLAS flares - 4 flares
Expiry date 7/2013

2 flares fired and 2 failed to fire at all. 50% success rate

nice molded hand grip, simple operation, fairly skinny

Ikaros SOLAS flares - 2 flares
Expiry date 9/2014

both flares fired, but one of the red flares was a lot dimmer than a proper flare. 50%+ rate?

bit chunky, and method of firing is a bit harder to figure out, though the direction on the side is clear enough. Lots of backblast (Comet had none). If fired from inside a liferaft it would have filled the raft with smoke for a few minutes I think.

Conclusions: Based on these very limited tests I'd pick Comet flares in the future mostly due to size, simple operation, and no backblast.

- Evan

January 23, 2017

Facts and Figures from Eight Years Afloat

It’s been a while since we’ve done a tally—but I know some of you love these sorts of nitty gritty details. So the facts:
Country 29: Colombia
We’ve sailed 37,000 nautical miles which equals 68,524 kilometres or 5,710,000 boat lengths.
We departed Puerto Vallarta April 9, 2011 and crossed our outbound track January 11, 2017 (as an aside, Evan and I met at Sailing Instructor School January 11, 1986).
Getting a trim (with the works) in the Seychelles
In that time we’ve visited 31 countries, learned to say hello in 15 different languages and negotiated haircuts in seven of them.

Dinner in the Marquesas. God only knows what we ate...
When it comes to food, there were lots of things we ate that you won’t find in a typical North American grocery store: some of the more memorable items included itty bitty crabs (which were either still alive or just wiggled reflexively when you picked them up), a really not-delicious fermented breadfruit called mahie or poi, Morton Bay Bugs (if only for the name) iguana, lion fish, zebu and kangaroo.
not your traditional grocery store
There were lots of new foods on our journey—including about ten different versions of a leafy green vegetable that always went by the name spinach, even though none of them actually looked like spinach—but eggs, onions, green beans, rice, lentils and chicken were universal.
For reasons known only to giant processed food corporations Magnum ice cream bars, Mentos and Pringles chips are treats you’ll never have to go without when you sail around the world. If that’s your thing…
Onboard, among our other stores, we carried (and consumed) 34 litres of maple syrup. We’re Canadian. Don’t judge.

We paid for all the maple syrup using bank cards and credit cards which were cancelled or expired before we managed to get replacements four times. We discovered our cards should have been activated in Canada *before* they were sent to us on one occasion. In case of emergencies we carried about 1.5k in USD.
The entertainment at Hacienda San Angel
 On the topic of food our most memorable restaurant meals were at Hacienda San Angel in Puerto Vallarta and an underwater restaurant called Sea at Kihavah Huravalhi in the Maldives. Both had incredible ambience and amazing food. The pizza place in Nuka Hiva gets an honourable mention because who doesn’t love pizza after their first major ocean crossing.
drinking the Vin de Constance was completely okay at Longwood--Napoleon's residence on St Helena
 The most memorable cocktail which we absolutely didn’t imbibe in at Napoleon’s tomb on St Helena in commemoration of his death because the French consul doesn’t allow that sort of thing was definitely not a 2010 Vin de Constance. But had we snuck into the tomb after dark, with friends who won’t be named, on the 195 anniversary of Napoleon’s death, I think it would have been fitting to drink the same wine from the same vineyard which he had shipped to him. But it didn’t happen.

Different friends, different parts of the world but the commonality was great food and lots of love

Most incredible potluck with friends: a tie between one of our goodbye dinners on St Helena, Amanda’s birthday on ‘the best day ever’ in the Tuamotus and the last potluck of our Pacific crossing which was on the beach in Chesterfield Reef with the remnants of all our fridges (because we all wanted one final day).
a lovo feast in Gunu
Favourite Village: Gunu Village in Fiji. For so many reasons; we were warmly welcomed and made to feel part of the village.

with a manta ray in the Tuamotus
a turtle in Chagos
Favourite snorkelling, in no order: Motupuapua pass on Tahanea in the Tuamotus (black and white reef sharks, giant manta rays, gorgeous coral and crazy clear water), the reef off of Ile Mapou in Chagos (turtles, sharks, more turtles and so. many. fish.), The Alors in Indonesia (so clear, so much colour), Chesterfield Reef (BIG sharks) and Tanikely in Madagascar (we really love turtles and there were so many turtles).
monkeys in Kupang Indonesia

Maia hung out with the cats, dogs, monkeys and burros in every country we visited except the Maldives (mainly because we didn't see animals there) and Chagos (unpopulated).

whale shark in Mexico
On the topic of snorkelling, we swam with: sharks, stingrays, dolphins, manta rays, lion fish, whale sharks, turtles, wobbegone sharks and a whole bunch of other cool stuff.

gorgeous Nuka Hiva

Our favourite hikes were a combination of gorgeous, historical and interesting: The peaks on Nuka Hiva, Cook’s Look on Lizard Island, Australia, Nosy Komba, Madagascar and Jacob’s Ladder on St Helena.

We participated in a cultural event which included some sort of dance in 15 different countries.
incoming squall
For weather, we only had two passages where we experienced extended winds of 20-25 knots. Most of the time we sailed in winds in the 15 knot range. The least wind we had was on the passage from Sri Lanka to the Maldives (a couple of days of 0-4 knots) while the windiest was the Seychelles to Comoros.

The warmest waters were in the Indian Ocean, we saw temperatures around 30C and the coldest were of South Africa's west coast where it was a chilly 14C.

In boat related stuff we went through three used outboard engines: our old Enduro died in the Marquesas, its replacement was stolen in Australia and that engine’s replacement is still going strong.
For dinghies, our original plywood dinghy was stolen and the replacement was later retubed in South Africa.

our original dinghy and second motor before they were stolen in Australia
 As far as theft goes our dinghy was stolen in Brisbane and we were boarded and inefficiently robbed in the Seychelles.
Our most reliable piece of equipment was our Spectra watermaker.
The least reliable was the bloody Quick windlass. It’s Italian. We should have known better.
We put 3700 hours on our engine—a reasonable number of which were used to provide power on cloudy days in Brisbane. We kept it running by using a total of six fuel filters.

Our most common repair at sea was fixing our kick-up rudder (until Evan changed the design so it was no longer able to kick up) or untangling from a floating fishing net.
Rescuing a boat from a reef in Chagos
We were involved in rescues which ranged from bringing an engineless boat into harbour, searching for a boat which was firing off flares, recovering an elderly man who had fallen in the water and assisting a boat which had gone up on a reef.

In random trivia we experienced 1 flood, 3 tsunamis, 2 earthquakes and discovered uses for palm coir that include being made into bricks for a ‘mattress’ in a Sri Lankan guesthouse and being mixed with epoxy for a rudder repair.

giving sevu-sevu to the oldest female chief in Fiji
and walking donkeys with the first female governor of St Helena
Our lap of the planet gave us the chance to meet a mayor, a governor, dozens of scientists, incredible artisans, philanthropists, activists, plantation workers, fishermen, musicians, teachers, farmers, vintners, cooks, authors, film makers, doctors, nurses, world-class sailors and so many more. Our lives are immeasurably richer—much more than this count can ever show.