Saturday, November 21, 2009

Moving to a new address for our blog.

In case you didn't read my last post, we're moving to a new website for our blog posts.  The new site is "

The reason we moved is that we can post updates from our new SSB radio that we installed a few weeks ago.  This way, as we travel the seas and are hundreds or thousands of miles from the nearest internet connection, we can keep you updated as to what is happening as we sail along.  This way, you won't have to wait for us to arrive back in civilization.

So give it a try.  There will be more of my normal rants and raves as well as travel tips for the ship bound fools that buy and use their boats.  If you have already read our blog, you know what I mean.

So stay in touch by leaving us comments and questions.  I'll answer them as soon as I can.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Day 564 & 565 In to Mexico and before the trip.

Our new Spectra water maker.   Now we will be able to have fresh water when ever we need it--at least after we install it.
Celebrating as we cross the border to Mexico.  the first bottle we opened after 25 years was bad so we went on to a second.  The first bottles contents were given to Neptune.
Outside Ensenada Harbor.
The town of Ensenada.
Flying the Mexican Courtesy flag from Zephyrs mast.
The big Mexican flag that overlooks the harbor.
The Carnival ship that came in just before us.  Remember, if you click on the photo, it gets bigger.

Yes, that's right, after 565 days of posts, we have finally made it South of the border.  The days just preceding the trip were hectic to say the least.

Monday was run all over town.  We started out at the Watermaker Store to look at their Spectra 200T water maker.  It is designed to  be used in tropical water(water not less than 50 degrees).   We wanted to have one on board before we left the US as importation duties would have hurt if we had had it shipped in later.  The box was so large that we couldn't fit it in the car.  Luckily, the unit itself isn't that big so once out of the box, it easily fit in our small rental.  I'll be installing it somewhere down the waterway when we are probably in La Paz.  Water down South can be iffy at best in many locations and having a water maker on board will make our stays in some of the more remote areas much more pleasant.  I'd hit Walmart on Sunday so we were done there.  We had to go out to a Mercury dealer to buy spare parts(water pump rebuild kit, gas filter,etc) and that was way out of town.  We then took off for the scuba store to pick up the regulator as it was now fixed.  We rushed back to Zephyr since the SSB(short wave radio) specialist was due just after 1500 to look at our setup and make sure we could use it for sending and receiving emails and making posts to our blog.  We got back just in time to get his call--he can't come today but will be at the boat on Tuesday since he knows we have to leave about 1100.  OK, that gave us time for fill the water tanks and get everything stowed that we had dragged out over the previous ten days.  We worked well into the evening getting everything ship shape and straightened out.

Tuesday dawned with Tracy taking off for Michaels(I needed some modeling clay) and to return our Enterprise rent a car.  I waited patiently for the radio man to show up at 0830.  That came and went with no sign of him.  He finally showed up about 0920 to inspect our setup and make it work with our computer.  About a hour later with many questions answered, he was off and I was out $95.00.  Not a cheap lesson but a valuable one.  Now it(the radio and computer) works the way it is supposed to.  We even made a transmission to Rock Hill,SC, clear across the country.  I guess we installed the radio right.

IMPORTANT NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

With the addition of the SSB (short wave radio), we will be switching to a new blog posting service.  Having the SSB, will allow us to make posts even when away from and internet service provider so that you can keep up with our daily travels when we are out in God know where.  Our new address is  I'll be posting todays post there some time later this afternoon. 

Tracy showed up just after the radio man left and we were underway by 1130 and motoring out of San Diego Harbor.  Once past the last buoy, we hoisted the sails and took off for Ensenada, Mexico.  We hoisted the mainsail,  rolled out the newly adjusted(tightened the wire on the forestay)Genoa(works much better)and raised the forestaysail and we were off.  

For those of you that have been following our blog for the past 18 months, you know of our ability to always have the wind coming at us from the wrong direction when we leave a harbor or want to raise the sails.  Why should this be any different.  The winds were from the Southeast and we needed to go South so while we could have some wind, we didn't get all that we needed.  Plus to add insult to injury, it was only at about 10 knots.  To sail a sailboat, you need winds normally at a 45 degree angle to the boat to go exactly where we wanted to.  These winds were at 30 degrees to the angle of the boat.  So we tacked back and forth for the rest of the afternoon.  We turned what should have been a simple 60 mile(ten hour) trip into a 75 mile voyage.  We'd left San Diego fully prepared for it so it didn't come as that big a surprise.  The winds in the area had been nonexistent in the morning and night and quite blustery in the afternoon.  Well, we got what we were going to get(wind wise) till about 1900 and then the wind just died(just as we expected).   So on came the motor and we were off.

Now as I said above, it's only 60 miles from San Diego to Ensenada.  A simple ten hours at 6 knots.  No big deal right?  Wrong!!!  Leaving San Diego at 1130, we would have gotten into Ensenada at 2130 at the earliest.  The smart boater never enters an unknown harbor at night, especially when there is no anchorage and you don't have a slip to put your boat in at a  marina.  We powered up the motor to only 1000rpm.  This gave us a speed of about 3.2 to 3.5 knots.  At that rate, we would be into Ensenada early in the morning.  A simple 10 hour trip was now closer to 20 hours.

With no Moon, the stars were big and bright as we moved down the coastline with the Sun finally starting to rise about 0600.  We entered the Ensenada bay about 0645 and sat out in the harbor waiting for the marina to open so we could get a slip assignment.  About 15 miles short of the bay, the AIS(Automatic Identification System) on my computer sprange to life and let me know that someone in the harbor was signaling a mayday!!!  I got on the VHF radio and tried to call them.  Their response was "No, we aren't putting out any mayday signal, but we will check our electronics.  I let them know that I had been receiving their signal for the better part of 45 minutes(it takes a while to get within VHF radio range).  Another skipper called them but he only spoke Spanish and the skipper of the mayday boat only spoke English(with a heavy Russian accent.  I't tried to reach the Mexican Coast Guard with no success.  About 30 minutes later, the Mexican Search and Rescue folks were on the radio trying to get information from the skipper.  Strangely, nothing ever came of it.

About 0645, we got a call over the radio from Jay on Moon Angel.  They are folks we met originally in Brownsville, WA last Winter and had become good friends with over the year.  They knew we were on our way to Ensenada and wanted to welcome us.  They monitored the VHF so they would know when we were approaching the dock.  About 0810, I finally got in touch with  the marina and got our slip assignment and in we went.  I did let a Carnival cruise ship go in before us.   They appeared to be in a big hurry.

So now we are in Ensenada, Mexico(31 51.542N  116 37.557W) at the Baja Naval Marina!!!  We finally made it out of the good old USA!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day 563 We're out of here!!!

We're about to shove off for Mexico after a hectic ten days here in San Diego.  

We've gotten the SSB straightened out as of this morning and it was the last thing that needed doing before we take in the dock lines and leave the dock.

Yesterday, we bought a Spectra 200T water maker that we will be installing in a month or so once we get established in LaPaz.

We'll, got to go.  It's time to get out of here.  I'll post when we get into Ensenada.

Oh, we will be moving to a new blog sight now that we have an SSB that we can blog from while we are out in the ocean.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Day 561 & 562 Almost there.

We're in the final stretch to get everything ready of the jump.

We made the final decision to get a water maker for Zephyr.  It will allow us to be out for much longer in more remote places.  We've got the food but the water supply would eventually run out(so would the food in time but we will probably catch some fish).  We went to Downwind Marine to talk to them as we had earlier in the week.  They had one in stock and promised to hold it for us.  Well, they sold it to someone else on Friday.  We were out of luck and now it would have to be ordered.  The manufacturer builds each one when the order comes in.  Delivery would not be till probably next Thursday or Friday and we have to be out of the marina by Tuesday morning.  As we walked in, we were questioned about an order we had shipped in from Fisheries Supply.  They were upset that we had ordered in a piece of equipment from another company.  Earlier in the week, we'd asked them if they could order a "Fender Step"(see post 556)for us.  The answer was "no".  We then asked and made sure they had no problem with us shipping one in from another company.  Their answer was "It's no problem as long as we can't get it".  Well, the rep for Taylor(the company that makes the Fender Step) had shown up at their store.  As it turns out, they could have ordered one in for us and now they were upset with us that we had ordered one in from another company.  We then told them that not only had we checked with them but that we had talked to the same guy that was mad at us.  Since then, they have been less than helpful for us.  Even though we had checked with them, we had violated one of their cardinal rules and we were pretty much "personna non grata" as far as they were concerned.  We left their store quite upset at being treated this way.

We returned to Zephyr and Tracy started in on the internet looking for a dealer for Spectra, the company that makes the water maker we want.  She found a dealer in Dana Point(just up the coast) that thought he knew of one that was available and would check and call us back.  Tracy had given him the dollar amount and the time frame we were now limited to(out by Tuesday).  The salesperson said he thought he could take care of us and would check with some of his friends that had just left town on the "FUBAR" cruise to see if we could park our boat in one of their slips just in case he had to order in a unit for us since we have to be out of the marina by Tuesday morning.  The "FUBAR" cruise is a bunch of fishing boats that cruise down the coast of Baja to Cabo St. Lucas.   He called us back later to let us know that he had called someone that might have a machine and that he'd be back in touch on Monday.

In the afternoon, we took down the genoa sail to adjust the big wire that attaches the top of the mast to the bow of the boat.  It's called a "forestay".  The sail rotates around that wire and winds it way in and out as needed.  It's called "roller furling".  We felt that the wire was too loose and needed to be tightened.  First we had to take off the sail(no big deal), then disconnect the roller furling unit from the bow and raise it up so we could get at the turn buckle that needed to be tightened(not to hard as long as you have the owners manual).  When we took down the sail, we found that Brion Toss(our rigger) hadn't fastened the shackles at the top of the mast correctly and that the sail could have come down at anytime.  We had to buy a new shackle from one of the local chandlers to complete the project.  After tightening the turnbuckle by 5 turns, it was time to put the sail back on and it proved to be a tough job.  It has to fit into a small channel in the roller furling gear and slowly fed into the channel.  It was so tight, we had to put the line that pulls the sail up around a winch to get it up.  Once up, we rolled it in and it works much better than it ever has.  Another problem solved.

For dinner, we fired up the pressure cooker again and did a nice pot roast in about an hour.  It came out great.  The meat was juicy and tender.  If you own one, they are a great time saving piece of equipment that dan make an ordinary cut of meat nice and tender.  Try it sometime 

The boat behind us left this morning so we decided to reverse Zephyr on the dock.  She faced in and we wanted her to face out to make it easier to get away from the dock.  Lines were led off the boat and we rotated her just fine with no problems.  Now she is set to be nice and easy to get out of here when the time comes.

Later in the morning, I donned my scuba gear(fins, boots, mask, snorkel, weight belt loaded up with 16 pound of lead and the tank and jacket)and went into the water to replace the zinc on the prop.  Boy, that water was cold when I rolled off the dock and into it.  I'd worn a long sleeve shirt to wear to help insulate me from the cold.  It helped some, but it took me a few minutes to get used to it.  The new gear worked relatively well, though the spare regulator leaks some air when the pressure is turned on.  Down I went and on it went.  I checked Zephyr's bottom to make sure all was well(it was) and came back up.  Tracy hoisted the tanks on board using the same block and tackle that we use to hoist the outboard motor.  We hosed off all the equipment with fresh water and I took off for the showers to get the salt water and what ever else(yuck) that was floating in the harbor off my body.  I still had errands to run. 

After lunch, Tracy was sitting in the cockpit and looked out to see the water around us was lower than we had ever seen it.  I jumped off Zephyr and looked at the rudder.  It was down in the mud on the bottom and we were stuck.  When we turned Zephyr around, we hadn't allowed  for the tide going out and now we had a problem.  The tide was still going out so it was going to be lots worse before it got better.  Tracy and I grabbed some lines and tried to pull Zephyr forward.  No go, plus we now had another boat right in front of us so our movement was limited.  I fired up the engine and slammed it into forward.  We slowly moved forward inch by inch throwing mud and sand(as well as water) out behind Zephyr.  We were free.  The wind had begun to pick up so we had to adjust the dock lines quickly or we would drift right back into the mud.  With some quick work, we were all tied up again and this time floating.  The guy in the boat that had just arrive in front of us helped by moving his boat and grabbing one of our dock lines.   

I took off for the scuba shop to have that spare regulator fixed.  It was leaking as much or more air than I was using and should be fixed before we set out( it should be ready tomorrow).  I stopped by Walmart and returned a water purifier we'd bought earlier.  It won't attache to our faucet.  Back to the boat for a nice quiet evening.

We are expecting a radio tech here tomorrow to explain our new SSB and how to use it.  Sure hope he shows up.

It's almost time to get underway for Mexico.  Stay tuned for more.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Day 559 & 560 We just keep running.

OK, time for an update of the past few days.  It's been run here and there and work on this and that trying to get things done.  We've set Tuesday morning for shoving off but we're not sure we will make it.  We can only stay at this "marina" until then as they have a time limit and then we must either be ready or find a place to drop the hook or find another cheap marina for another day or so.

If you read the last post, you read about our scuba problems with the hose that goes to the buoyancy compensator jackets.  These are literally jackets that the big air tank clamp onto and then you wear them like a jacket.  We bought ours in 1980 when we first learned to dive.  They have been moving around with us ever since.  Well, it takes a special hose that hooks to the tank and then goes to the jacket so you can inflate them to make you go up and down in the water as you dive.  The type we have is no longer made so we don't have one for our second jacket.  To make a long story short, the "O" ring that seals it in was broken so we had to have some mailed in to fix it.  We had to buy twenty five to get the one we actually needed.  Fifteen dollars for the 25 rings and ten dollars to ship them in.  They were up to a dollar a piece.  Sometimes you have to bite the bullet.  The story gets better.  We found another scuba place(recommended by the local police divers) and headed up there.  They took one of our jackets and simply changed out the end fitting for the manual inflator hose and voila, we were fixed.  The jacket has two ways to inflate--by the hose from the tank and by manually blowing into a second hose on the opposite side of the jacket.  Now we had an extra hose and $25 of "O" rings we would never use.  I guess it pays to shop around before you buy.

We picked up the plastic shelf I talked about yesterday.  It fits like a dream and will give us lots more space(we're always looking for new places to store stuff).

We headed into Downwind Marine to have our EPIRB(emergency positioning locator beacon) checked by a factory rep.  They have a way of activating it(sort of)and getting a report as to how it is transmitting and is it working right.  If we ever go down, this is the one piece of equipment that can make a big difference as to not only will you be found but how soon.  Ours not only transmits a signal that we are having a problem, but also includes a built in GPS so it says exactly where we are.  We got there about 1100 and found we were the only people that had taken in their unit for testing.  Hey, if someone offers to test a very valuable piece of equipment (that your life may depend on)to make sure it works, why wouldn't you take it in.  While we were there getting ours checked, another customer piped up and said hers was fine and didn't need checking.  I asked her if the Coast Guard had responded when she had obviously set hers off.  Oh no, hers was "brand new.  It has to be fine".  It's thoughts like that that can get you killed out there!

We got to talking(the woman we met at Downwind Marine) about the errands we were doing for the day--heading to the Mexican Consulate to get our visas and our fishing licenses.  She asked if she could come along.  They hadn't rented a car and needed the same things we needed before heading South.  Sure, no problem.  We all piled into the car and headed back to the marina to get her paperwork.  Linda was great.  She's been everywhere and done lots of jobs and is now set to sail as much as she can with her new husband.  Once she got her paperwork, off we went.  The girls went into the consulate while I found a parking place.  There are different types of visa available.  One for 180 days(renewable for an additional 180 days) and one for a year.  We wanted the one for a year so we wouldn't have to worry about any kind of renewal once we got there(plus you will then qualify for Mexican health insurance).  As it turns out, to get the one for a year, you have to have your marriage license.  Who carries around their marriage license???  Not us.  Oh, plus they won't issue a visa any way for the 180 day period at the consulate.  You have to get that once you arrive at Ensenada in Mexico.  We'd hoped to have everything set before we got there.  Oh well,  we will just have to wait.  We found a place to get the fishing license.  One gets issued to each person, not just one for the boat(make more money that way).  They don't take cash or credit, just a cashier's check or money order(who doesn't take cash or credit these days?).  So back into the car and down to 7-11 to get a money order and back for the licenses.  Off for a quick lunch and we took Linda back to the marina.  No reason for her to have to sit in the car as we ran the rest of the errands.

Back to Costco and Walmart for more "provisions".  Now here is the problem.   Depending on who you talk to, you either need to FULLY provision your boat before you leave with everything you need or you don't because you will find what you need where ever you land.  We've heard it both ways from folks that have been around the world in boats like ours.  Tracy talked to a couple from Denmark that have been out for years.  They have their boat jammed like ours with provisions.  Another person we met(Steve the rigger that helped us earlier) says to just buy it when you reach land.  It's what he did.  Your darned if you do and darned if you don't.  We went with the Denmark folks point of view and have loaded Zephyr with as much stuff as we can.  From TP to kitty litter and pet food.  Paper towels to Sugar free Tang.  We just keep on bringing more stuff on board.  We could go the next year with out having to buy more food.  Now the menus might get strange after a while, but we are loaded to the gills.  We even found some vacuum sealed beef(3 pounds) in pouches at Costco that will keep unrefrigerated for over a year.

We've run here and there all over the town and still attend the seminars at Downwind Marine at night so our days are anything but relaxing.  We are almost to the "living the dream" part of the expedition.

I fixed the hatch that goes to one of the storage lockers in deck.  It was collapsing at one of its corners.  I re-enforced the corner with two stainless steel "L" brackets and epoxy.  Works fine now.  You have to get creative when you live on a boat.  Yesterday, I ran all the wires for the Pactor III modem that will allow us to send and receive emails and make posts to the blog when we are off shore.  It works with our new ICOM M802 SSB(like a Ham radio) radio.  We have a "tech" coming on Sunday or Monday to show us how it works.  I ran wires from one of our GPS units to the SSB.   Now, if we transmit an SOS, it will include our longitude and latitude with the message.  Our radio has an "emergency" button that when pressed, sends out a message telling people to come help us, we did something stupid.

Our backup GPS's for the navigation computer came in along with the "fender step" I showed you a picture of a few days ago.  Now we are set with backups for just about every system we have on board.  Of course, I attended a class last night on outboard motors so I will be needing more parts(will it never end?)so we will be able to fix ours should something happen while we are out cruising.  Zephyr is about to sink at the rate we are adding more provisions and parts.

Today, I get to dive on Zephyr to replace the zinc on the prop I told you about a few days ago.  It fell off on the way down the coast a few days ago.  Then we get to take down the genoa sail and fix the headstay(too loose for our liking).  It's like I said earlier.  We just keep fixing the boat in more and more exotic locations.

Well. that's about it for now(boy I can be long winded).  I started this post about 0500(still not sleeping more than 5 hours a night)and the Sun is now coming up so I can go take a shower before it gets crowded up there.

As always, more to come.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Day 558 On the run--some more.

Here is a picture of two boats that are berthed in the next marina.  The sailboat is "Janice of Wyoming"built in 2005.  Google her for more info.  At 130 feet in length, she is quite the boat.  I included the motor yacht behind her just because she has a helicopter on a pad on her stern.  The first we have seen.  Now, you're talking some money!!

Another day of a few projects and running around in the car.  We first plotted our course around town printing out maps of everywhere we needed to go and then took off.  

I started my day at 0400(couldn't sleep) by making a list(quietly of course) of everything on board that has a serial number.  We'd found out recently that the Mexican authorities require the list just to make sure you don't sell things off your boat while in Mexico.  Being up early, I got the job done and entered into the computer and copies made for the consulate.

We started off our errands at Downwind Marine since they were having a "Cruisers" week with lots of special deals.  We need lots of fans(Hella Turbo has been highly recommended) for the cabins to stay cool once we get south and they had them on sale almost $30.00 less than anywhere else I could find them.  We picked up 8!!  Now all we have to do is figure out places to put them.  They will have the wires for the job today.  We also bought a wringer to get the water out of the clothes we wash on board.  It's easy to wash them, but no so easy to get them dry.  We also picked up two more Alpenglow lights for the boat.  We already have four scattered around the main cabin, but now we will have one for the forward head and one for the stern cabin.  As they run both white and red lights, they will be perfect for when we are out at night and don't want to ruin our night vision while below decks.

We need a vet to get the fur people certified before we head South so an appointment was made at Shelter Island Vet clinic to have them check tomorrow afternoon.  We filled out their paperwork and dropped it by their office on our way around town.  They were in the same shopping center as the scuba place so we got two birds hit with one stone.

We needed the scuba place again as the "new" gear we bought isn't quite compatible with some of our old.  The low pressure inflater hose that goes into our scuba jackets(also know as buoyancy compensators) doesn't fit the fitting.  As it turns out, the "O" ring is also broken so we needed a new one.  The hose we need is no longer made(rats) so we're not sure what we will do now.  We can leave it off,  buy a new "BC"(more boating bucks gone), or keep searching for it on the web.  So far the search is progressing.  I've made some contacts and they are also searching for the new hose.  With luck, I might get lucky.

Next, the plastics people.  We found an area in Zephyr that is a big tunnel down into the bilge.  We were told by Jeff Casher(owns another boat like ours) that a plastic shelf goes on to the top ledge of the tunnel and makes a great storage area.  I measured it and found a company locally that will fabricate a shelf for us.  We got lucky and even found a scrap piece of plastic in one of their bins and that made the price even better(cheaper).  They will have it ready for us today.

On to Wells Fargo to have a paper notarized.  So far, two branches have told me that they will only do it for Wells Fargo paperwork.  Hey, they have all our money and even the mortgage on our house.  Let's play nice here.  I never had problems in Colorado getting them to notarize a document.  We finally found a third branch.  I was told "Oh, the man that does that is on vacation, you'll have to go across the street to FedEx, they will do it there.  I stood my ground and said " I don't think so.  Where is there a branch that will do it".  They asked me to have a seat while they checked around.  A few minutes later, a man by the name of Sam came over and asked if he could help.  I explained the circumstances and he was more than happy to help.  He was a "Notary".  OK, I guess he must have just gotten back from vacation?!  He could not have been nicer and a few minutes later I was out of there.  Sometimes, customer service has to be poked a bit to come into action I guess.

Over to Von's(branch of Safeway) for some ribs.  Having seen the pressure cooker demo the previous night, we wanted to try them.  Normally, I barbecue them for hours and hours to get what we like, but hey, that's just not going to happen on a boat.  We picked up a nice rack and headed back to Zephyr.  I got involved with a rigger(Steve) that has his boat in the marina for a few days and he was nice enough to come over and look at our forestay.  It's always been loose and (strangely) when the Genoa sail is rolled out, the entire roller furling gear rides up the wire.  That is not supposed to happen.  He looked at it and proposed a solution and we were off for West Marine to get parts.  A half hour later and the "elevation"problem was resolved.  Now all we have to do is take off the sail(gee what fun) and tighten up the turnbuckle.  A project for the weekend after our errands are taken care of.

While I was working on the rigging, Tracy put the ribs into the pressure cooker.  Fifteen minutes to get pressurized, about 40 minutes to cook and another 20 to have the pot cool down and they were ready.  Oh my God!!  They were great!!!  They literally fell off the bone tender!!! Quick and easy and darn little mess all in all.  I think the pressure cooker will be getting a lot more use in the future.  We'd heard they were great for cruisers but now we know for sure that they are.  Even when underway, if the pot should fall off the stove, it's all clamped shut so nothing will splatter around the galley.

I was off for another seminar at Downwind on safety gear and how to use it.  For once, we actually have everything he discussed and know how to use it.  We just have to brush up on the "how and when" part deploying the gear when and if we get ourselves into a pickle.  

Today, more errands.  We're getting closer.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Day 557 Running errands again.

On Sunday evening, a small boat pulled into the marina, his outboard screaming, about 2100 and tied up to a piece of dock that is not normally a slip.  His boat had obviously seen better days but at least it was still afloat with lots of canvas on the deck acting as a dodger of sorts to protect the skipper.   There was another dingy tied along side his boat full of gear and junk.  I guess it was his storage shed for stuff.  He hopped ashore and headed up the ramp to the washroom.  He was going to spend the night.  With the office closed, there is really no one to check the docks to make sure everyone has paid.  Early Monday morning, he cast off his lines and took off, obviously not paying for his slip.  On the way out of the marina, he hit one of the other boats(no real damage) and just kept on going.  He was beating a hasty exit before he got caught.  One of the other boats in the marina saw him hit the other boat and called the harbor cops to report it.  About an hour later, two patrolman showed up to "investigate".  I talked to them and as I had talked to the guy that had called them, I referred the two gentlemen to him.  With an hour already passing, there was little chance of them ever finding him short of calling out a helicopter to do an air search.  For some reason, it had taken that long for the call the reach them from the dispatcher.  It's people like that that ruin it for the rest of us and give us all a bad reputation in harbors and marinas.  He causes problems and gets away scott free.  In our travels, we have seen numerous boats pull into marinas late in the evening after the office is closed and pull out at the crack of dawn to escape without paying the fees for the night.  I know the economy is tough out there, but most of the boats we have seen doing this are nice boats that appear to belong to people with money in their pockets.  Sometimes, I just don't understand people, I guess.

I called Enterprise to set a time to pick us up and they called later as they were in transit and would be at the dock in a few minutes.  We walked up to meet them but Tracy went back to get more money for the days purchases.  The van showed up and out jumped a man that walked down the ramp to tell us to hurry as he had appointments to make(and British to boot).  Well,  la de dah for him!!!  We had seen his boat come in late the previous evening.  It was a 100 foot(minimum) power boat(see definition of "YACHT") at least with more toys on board than we would ever think of and a crew of many to keep it running.  I guess he was used to giving orders on board and expected us to hurry it up.  The two of them had spent the night at one of the local resorts(add more money to the bill).  Hey, we're sailors and are used to taking our time.  We finally got into the van and away we went.  We let one of them check in before us as they were in a "hurry" and then we got our car.  The second man(the Captain maybe) was still waiting when we left.  So much for appointments I guess.  

We headed out towards the local scuba store to get more equipment and to see about getting one of our "new" tanks inspected.  They required a week to get it done.  They are picked up on Tuesday and returned the following Tuesday.  As we expect to be gone by then, we asked for information as to where we might get it inspected faster.  They gave us the name of two companies that inspect tanks and we called both.  One(up in Costa Mesa--a two hour drive each way) could have it done in a day.  The second place no longer inspected tanks but gave us the name of another company that did.  We called them and they were local and could have the tank inspected that same day.  Yeah!!!  We were getting lucky.  We rushed back to Zephyr and grabbed the air tank and took off for just South of San Diego to get it inspected.  Once we got there, they promised to have it out by 1630 that afternoon.  We drove around looking for a Wells Fargo Bank and I got my hair cut and we had lunch.  We took a shot and called them to see if the tank was done and it was(now all of 1400).  We drive over and picked it up.  That would save us a trip back today.

We headed off North to talk to a man that was selling some of his scuba equipment and we were looking for a new regulator set up as our "new"tanks won't work with Tracy's regulator.  He was up at Camp Pendleton so it was a good hour drive North.  We arrived and waited in the parking lot out side the base till he arrived.  Nice stuff so we struck a deal and headed back toward Zephyr as "rush" hour approached.  It wasn't to bad(traffic wise) all in all.

Last night was a seminar at Downwind Marine on pressure cooking while on board.  Very interesting on how he cooks meals while he is out on transit.  Put it all in the pot and let her rip.  Most of the cooking (even roasts) is done in about 45 minutes.  We'll have to try that when we head out.  Sure beats crackers and bottled water.

Today, I started the day making a list of everything on board that has a serial number.  It is required that you have a list when you are in Mexico just so that they will know what you have on board your boat and that you haven't sold any of it while you are in their country.  OK, another regulation I guess.

Any how, that was yesterday.  Today, get the paper work together for the consulate and buy a bunch of fans to install once we get to Mexico.  They tell us that it gets hot down there.

More to come. 

Monday, November 9, 2009

Day 556 Walking and talking.

We spent the day getting settled into our new home.  Talking to other cruisers here at the marina and swapping stories and getting information from each other.  This is the first "marina" that we have been in that the majority of folks are full time cruisers and have logged lots of miles under their keels.  Even though we have covered well over 4,000 miles since April, most of these people have covered lots more than that.  They have as much "junk on the trunk" as we do.  Most carry lots of solar panels since they are all heading South.  We will be looking into those while we are here.

As I sit here, I keep hearing the small shrimp nibbling on Zephyrs hull.  It has the sound of small crackling.  If you don't know what is going on(and the first time we heard them we didn't have a clue)you'd think your boat was falling apart.  Nigel, on Arena(located behind us) hired a diver to look at his boat.  He thought his zincs were getting destroyed.  Being from Canada, they don't have the little shrimp up there.  We first encountered them much farther down the coast, but learned about them years ago when we were out sailing.  It can be quite unnerving.

We walked over to Downwind Marine for their open house yesterday.  They have an open house for "cruisers" late each years since that is when most of us are here heading South.  I told you about the upcoming seminars scheduled through the week.  We met several couples while there and ran into a couple we'd met while at Catalina Island a few weeks ago.  They had fired up their grill and had lots of food for everyone.  While we were there, we found that our package with our scuba jackets had already arrived and will be picking it up today once we have a rental car.  They got there fast from Denver.

We made our arrangements for our Enterprise Rent a Car so they will be picking us up in about an hour and we can start getting errands done.  We also ordered a "Fender Step" to make it easier to get on board.  As you can see from the photo, it hooks onto the stanchions and you just step on board.
Well, that's about it for now.  We just got a call from Enterprise that they are in transit to pick us up so I must close till later.

The adventure continues.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Day 555 We're in San Diego!!

Here are some pictures of the past few days.  I can get them posted now that we have a better internet connection.  I've even included a new movie of more dolphins playing off our bow just North of San Diego Harbor.   They stayed with us for a good ten minutes splashing through the bow wake.  Really cool!!  
Downtown Los Angeles in search of scuba equipment.(remember, if you click on the picture it gets bigger for a better view)
The view from Jay and Terri's house in Malibu.  A great couple and a house with a great view.  With luck, we will see them again down South.  It would be fun to sail around for a while together.
Off Dana Point and it's marina.
Looking North up the coast from Dana Point.
Looking back down the channel into Dana Point's anchorage.  They have two breakwaters.  One makes a channel leading into the anchorage and a second protects the marinas from any kind of swell.  One of the most protected marinas we have ever seen.
The Dana Point Yacht Club and part of the west marina.
The paddle boarders at practice.
Do we see a problem with the authenticity of this boat.  Since when did ships like this have inflatable dingys hanging off them?
A home over looking the marina.  Ah, California architecture.
Approaching San Diego yesterday with total overcast skies.  One of the first overcast days we've had in quite a while.  They are suffering here with temperatures in the 50's.   Boo hoo for them.  They have no clue about cold.

We made it into San Diego yesterday about 1600 after a full day of motor sailing.  We upped the anchor at 0620 and took off for the 53 mile trek to finally get to San Diego.  The day dawned cloudy and stayed that way all day.  I think we saw a bit of sunshine once just as we entered San Diego Harbor.

Our stay in Dana Point, while short(one night) was quite pleasant.  A nice anchorage with good holding ground.  Our CQR anchor bit in and set hard, just the way we like it.  The anchor chain was straight out the stem fitting at the bow and at a nice tight angle.  No give as we tried to move backward setting it.

We'd prepared for a day of sailing as(again) the weather people had forecast winds that would allow us to sail instead of motor.  They were close this time.  A sailboat needs winds the are about 45 degrees off its bow(pointy end of the boat)at a minimum.  The winds we got were about 35 degrees.  It allowed us to get some energy to drive Zephyr but not the full force of what we needed.  We put up the sails(all of them, even the forestaysail)and with the motor going, we moved along at about 7 knots.  While they didn't make us move that much faster, they did stop the rocking from side to side that we get from the swells as they hit our side as we moved through the water.  With so many miles to go and only so much sunlight, we had to make good time.  We could have angled the wind so we could have sailed, but then we wouldn't have gotten to San Diego during the day.  And again, it is not recommended that you enter an unknown harbor in the dark.  To many things can go wrong.

I'd called the Shelter Island Municipal Docks to check on availability and found that they had three still available that would hold Zephyr.  We were still two hours out so knew we couldn't dawdle.  There are only so many slips at the docks and since they go for only $10.50 a night, they fill up fast and with Zephyr's size, it makes slips that much harder to find.  When we pulled in, we got the last slip!!  If we had missed it, we would have had to go farther up the harbor and dropped an anchor until a slip became available.  As it was already 1600, we would have been dropping the hook in the dark by the time we got there.  We're now at 32 42.563N  117 14.045W for those of you following us on Google Earth.  Oh, if you are using Charlie's Charts for the US Pacific Coast area, the phone number listed in the book is wrong for the Municipal Docks.  It should be 619-686-6227.   We squeezed ourselves into the end of a long linear dock just past another long sailboat.   As we headed in, lots of other sailors came running knowing that where we were heading would not be an easy fit.  I'd stepped it off when we came down to look at the space--just about 50 feet(maybe).   Now 18 months ago, there was no way we could have gotten ourselves into this space.  We've had a lot of practice in our travels and we put her right on the mark coming in.  We got complements from everyone on shore.  Nigel and Kay on Arena(they are right behind us) were nice enough to move their boat backward a bit to allow us a bit more room.  As it was, the depth sounder was having a cow telling us that we were in water a bit too shallow for it's comfort.  With low tide still coming, we only had a foot under our keel and the tide still had 1.6 feet to go down. After Nigel moved back and we shifted Zephyr, we had 2.6 feet below us.  That gave us 1 foot to spare.  We have a place to stay till we are ready or ten days which ever comes first.  Ten days is the length that you can stay here.  We're making lists of everything that has to be done.  I'll be making the car rental reservations this morning.

We wanted to be in San Diego for "Cruisers Week" at Downwind Marine, one of the local chandeliers.  It starts off with a pot luck dinner this afternoon and goes on with seminars throughout the week.  Tomorrows is on "Pressure Cooking for Cruisers".  Tuesdays is "Offshore Safety:Gear you need and how to use it".  Wednesday has "Cruising on 12 volt batteries, alternators, inverters: tips and troubleshooting".  Thursday has "NOAA Weather Service for mariners".   Friday ends with "Outboard motor needs for cruising in Mexico".  All the seminars are during the evening so the days are free to get errands and tasks done.  

A fellow cruiser was just on deck with Tracy looking at our rigging.  He just replaced his in Port Townsend.  Our Forestay and Backstay are way to loose.  Tracy had always felt they were as the genoa sail on the bow tends to sag on the wire that makes up the forestay.  So the genoa will have to come off and the wire adjusted tighter.  We'd discussed it with Brion Toss when he inspected the rigging back in August before we left.  He'd replaced our rigging late last year while we were in Port Townsend.  He thought it was all right.  Another project to get done.

When we pulled in yesterday afternoon, we found that the zinc on our propeller has fallen off again.  We'd installed a new one before we left Port Townsend on August 15.  We got about 11 weeks off this one.  At least now we have scuba gear so we don't have to hire a diver to replace it.  That saved us a quick $100+ bucks.  While I'm down there, I'll be inspecting the rest of the hull just to be sure that all is well.

Well, that's about it for now.  We're just 15 miles from the border of Mexico!!!  Final prep is the name of the game for the next 10 days or so.  We have to be ready for the jump by then no matter what it takes.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Day 554 Into Dana Point

We got up early to leave for Dana Point as it was set to be about a 42 miles day.  The winds were forecast to be off our port(left)stern quarter.  Basically behind us and on the left side at about 10 knots.  Not great but it would push us along.  We prepped all the sails--took sail ties off and put up the lazy jacks(these are lines that go on either side of the boom that hold the sail in place before you raise it), ran the lines for the smaller forestaysail to the cockpit and got the Genoa ready for unfurling and we were off.

We disconnected from the buoy we'd been attached to for the night and threaded our way our of the field of other buoys and out into the channel.  Hey guess what--no wind!!  Motor, do your thing.  Along we went past a few ferry boats on their way to the Catalina.  Some fishing boats and a few other cruisers.  Calm seas and winds!!  Rats!!

We checked with the Harbor Master at Dana Point as we approached to make sure there was room in the anchorage.  No problem we were told.  We pulled in and there was only one other boat!!  We got in while there was still some sunshine which made it nice to get settled so the furr people could stroll around the deck.  The anchor went down about 1530 at 33 27.635N  117 42.359W.  An hour or so later, two more boats joined us making a total of four boats at anchor with lots tied up to slips in the marinas.

The local college was having a class on how to row-standing up--an old wind surfer board.   We've seen lots of them as we work out way South.  the first was when we anchored off Pebble Beach.  It does teach you balance and will build upper body strength and I guess it's a good way to use your old wind surfer boards.

I'd defrosted some steaks so the barbecue got fired up and we had a nice dinner in a peaceful harbor.

We will be off for San Diego this morning.  Neither of us thought that we would make it this far after our experience up at Sea Marine.  They just about broke our spirit.  But, here we are.  Just a few miles north of the Mexican border!!  Next week, we will be getting our visas and fishing licenses.   Another rental car will be a must to get around.

I'll post pictures once we get into San Diego.  With luck, we will be in by 1530.  The Sun is now setting before 1700 so, to be safe, we have to be in earlier than that.  We don't like to enter a strange harbor in the dark.

More to come.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Day 552 & 553 Final prep and we're out of here!

Wednesday was run run run all over the place getting the last minutes things done and picked up while we still had the rent a car from Enterprise.  I finally got back to the marina about 1830.  

We were still waiting for a package with a new toy.  A folding ladder to make it easier(and possible)to get back aboard Puff(our dingy)when we have gone into the water off shore.  Currently, it is almost impossible to hoist yourself over the inflatable tubes.  We found a folding ladder from the Seafaring Store that ties to the eye bolt in the middle of the floor of the dingy and then  has bent steel bars that go over the top of the tubes and has collapsing steps that drop down into the water.  As you can see from the picture above, it will be perfect for our problem.

We picked up our "new"medical kit with all its new supplies.  Everything that was out of date was gotten rid of and lots more equipment was added.  Now, if something happens(God forbid) we are better prepared for it.  Bill(previous owner) had given us an off shore medical kit that he had put on board years ago and while it had lots of equipment, we felt it was lacking some things.  The Seaside Pharmacy equips off shore boats with the necessary equipment--and at very reasonable prices.

I returned the car yesterday morning and returned to Zephyr to take a shower and wait for the last package.  It finally showed up about 1100.  I walked over to the office(a little over a mile away) and picked it up.  Returning to Zephyr to fill up her water tanks and we were under way back to Catalina Island for a bit of relaxation.  We pulled in about 1715 just after the Sun had gone down and picked up a buoy.  We're back at 33 26.665N  118 29.833W for the night.  It was nice to not hear the trains blowing their whistles.  We're only here for the night and will be taking off for Dana Point early in the morning as it's about 40 miles away.   A night there and then off for San Diego.

We ran the engine all the way to Catalina Island just to make sure the new transmission was leak proof.  After the trip, there were no leaks at all!! Yeah!!!  We may finally be done with that problem.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Got to go and get ready for todays trip back to the mainland.  More once we get there.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Day 550 & 551 More errands and prep to get underway.

We've spent the past days running errands and getting things set for heading out either Thursday or Friday morning.  The rental car has been a big help since this marina is very isolated.

Laundry, groceries and more equipment were on the list as well as visiting a local pharmacy that puts together first aid packs for cruisers.  We'd been clued into them when we talked to Jeff Casher (owns another Liberty 458)last week.  While we have a large kit on board, many of the medicines in it were way out of date and needed replacing.  Plus, since we will be pretty much on our own out in the boonies, it helps to have as much equipment as you can just in case.  Tracy cut her finger a few weeks ago and we found we didn't have all the equipment we really needed to get her taken care of properly.  We'll be picking up our new set of equipment today.

I still have to change the oil in the engine before we set out.  I prefer to make sure there is absolutely no water down in there after we blew the oil cooler at Catalina Island.

Our replacement starter showed up yesterday so now we have to find a place to stow it.  A big, heavy chunk of steel.  More ballast to weigh us down.  

George and Celeste took off yesterday for Catalina Island but ran smack into a large dense fog back right out side the harbor.  They turned around and came right back to the marina.  They have no radar to "see" into it and with the harbor being so busy, they felt it safer to turn back.  We've had fog for the past few days out there.  I guess we will see what it is like when we are ready to set out.  We may just head for San Diego instead of back to Catalina for a week of rest from the rush we have been going through for the past two weeks here.

That's about it for now.  We'll let you know where we end up.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Day 548 & today

The transceiver under the nav station.  This is the guts of the entire assemble.  Prior units had everything in one big box that had to be mounted on the nav station or a place you could get to for broadcasting.  Now it comes in three pieces.  One(the transceiver) can be hidden and the controller unit that has the microphone and the speaker.  Now why the speaker isn't built into the controller is anyones guess.  Anyway, we mounted the transceiver under the nav station and the controller and speaker next to the VHF radio above the nav station(seen below). 

We started in threading the rest of the wire behind cabinets toward the nav stations cutting holes where necessary  The end fittings on the coax are about an inch across so a decent hole is needed.  Everything had to come out of the workbench cabinets and the chest drawers that are beside them.  On it went until we finally got to under the nav station.  We had lots of wire left so I had to pull it back to the stern bunk area and tuck it in the storage compartment under the bunk.  I'll deal with it later.  We expect to see a "professional" once we make it to San Diego and have him come by to make sure all is well with our installation.  We want to make sure we get the most from the unit(even though we have no clue as to everything we can do with it other than talk to other people).

I ran the electrical wires through more panels to the battery and made the hookup there rather than to the circuit panel.  According to the "professional", that is the way it is supposed to be wired so that you have the strongest power possible at the radio.  Since we run on 6 volt batteries instead of 12 volts, it took me a while to figure out what two posts on the batteries converted the 6 volts to 12.  Once I figured that out with my volt meter, I crimped on the rings and fastened it in with nuts and lock washers.  Next, we had to run the wires through more panels up to circuit panel and through the bottom of it to the area we were going to install the controller unit.  The drill got a good workout.

I hooked up the wires even before I screwed in the unit and pushed the "power" button.  It came on!!  It was on a "distress" channel for sending out an SOS.  Oh great--what did the radio know that I didn't!  I spun the dial and it went to other channels just fine.  We heard lots of static.  OK, no humans but at least static--I'll take static.

We screwed in the brackets and got her all mounted.  Now to clean up the mess we had made in the boat.  Wires got pulled back and stowed and "stuff" got put away.  Lots of "stuff".  We are such pack rats!!!  Once the boat was made "ship shape" again, I could sit down and play with our new toy.  I spun the dials not having a clue as to what was out there.  I finally heard some truck drivers checking on weather some where out there.  Yeah!!  A human voice and not just static.  It works!!!  We can finally throw away the boxes and make more room for more stuff.  I picked up a "time" channel that just broadcasts the time(sounds exciting doesn't it?).  

As we had friends coming over to visit later, the rest of the afternoon was spent cleaning and I even took a shower.  My first in several days.  Yes, that's right--days!!  I know, it's free here but it just never seemed to get into the schedule for the day.  It's not like I am going anywhere to work.  We just work at the boat and as cruisers, we have a certain way we are expected to look.  A days growth(or more) of beard.  A slightly dirty shirt(mine was filthy) and pants and messy hair.  I have one shirt that is worn only when I have jobs to do.  No reason to get other shirts dirty.  This time, it was absolutely filthy as I had worn it during the multiple oil changes(and leaks) at Catalina Island.  By dinner time, I was clean and smelled of a japanese garden(lotion).  I felt almost civilized.

George and Celeste came over for a few hours during the evening and we swapped stores of what all of us have been up to over the past few days.  They have been out looking at museums and movies while we have been working on Zephyr.  That's the difference between buying a new boat and an older boat.  Plus, we have more toys(all necessary of course;-)) onboard than they do.  A pleasant way to spent the evening.

Today was a few more projects and some company.  I lined the floor of  the engine compartment with more absorber pads to collect any stray fluids that the engine or God forbid the transmission might throw off.  We want to keep all the ikky  stuff out of the bilge.  Then into a swimsuit and down the stern ladder to install the flapper that covers the exhaust pipe.  Our last one suddenly developed a bend to it so it wouldn't close all the way.  I found a new one at West Marine.  The water wasn't that bad(temperature wise) but I wouldn't want to swim in it(dirty).

About 1030, Jeff and Gail Casher stopped by for a visit.  I first "met"Jeff two years ago on the internet at the Yahoo sight for the Liberty sail boats.  They have been living on board theirs for years and have logged over 90,000 miles on her.  That's a lot of water under the keel.  They had told us all about the sordid history of our boat being the illegitimate child of the Liberty clan.  They have been back in the US for the past few years getting their cruising kitty restocked so they can continue their journey.  They have already circumnavigated the world.  We showed them around discussing the subtle changes between their boat and ours.  As the years of production went by, many changes were made.  We discussed things that he felt were important to have(vacuum gauge on the fuel lines, bilge counter-counts the number of times your emergency bilge pumps comes on).  We talked for well over three hours.  We fired up the new SSB and he played with the dials and made a radio check with some guys that were talking on one of the channels.  They heard us just fine so we are up and running.   It was great to get info from a couple that have been out there.  With luck, we will see them again.

We had planned to go look at some scuba equipment that a man has for sale but he wants us to wait till tomorrow.   So on to more projects.