Sunday, August 14, 2016

Afloat in Portland!

I've been trying to set aside time to write a blog for a few weeks now. I have so many stories in my head, I could explode..... or maybe one day, I'll start writing the book that's rattling around in my head. It's been an amazing, emotional transition getting settled into our tiny floating home and I will share that it's incredible to have a place of Our Own!! No more living out of duffel bags and ZipLoks while we are in Portland. It’s a huge and positive change for us after 5 years of being vagabonds while working multiple jobs. It's not a lifestyle for everyone, I might add.

Looking toward our place from the ramp.
1 of 4 layers removed fromthe bathroom wall. Scary stuff.
You may recall that we purchased our floating home last fall before we left for Mexico. I know, timing is everything. We thought we’d be anxious while we were gone about buying a home and splitting town, but hey it's us and frankly, once we were on the road heading south for Pura Vida, we’re about living that life to the fullest; the northwest life can wait.

Mike tearing out and rebuilding the bathroom
We arrived in Portland on February 28th for my long anticipated return to my 30-hr/wk job, a continuation of the 10-yr/wk I was doing during our winter months. So you jump right into a work environment where the pace is fast, the deadlines are real and the sitting factor, intense. No more up and down the ladder
when the boat is on the hard as the last couple weeks before our departure, no more balancing on a moving vessel which is part of our core strength, and importantly, a greatly reduced randomness that comes from a boat lifestyle.
LazyBoy loveseat- splurge for our living room.

And so began this journey toward a home of our own. It’s been a long, tumultuous time as we prepared our ‘tiny home’ for us, for our lives, after our self-imposed relative state of homelessness. Five summers of moving multiple times into variable living situations each with its own opportunities, blessings and challenges, and of course, being ready to vacate on demand. Five years of "visitation rights" to see our stuff at Public Storage.

Using dinner plates that we haven't seen for 5 yrs
This summer we had the distinctly cool deal of moving back in with our 80 year old roommate from late last summer (our 4th place in 2015). He’s our friend’s dad, a super nice guy, great place on the water, fun to share a living space with. And flexible to let us stay longer than our anticipated “one month” before we could move into our new digs. We wanted to move in, but buying our floating home ‘as is’ has a broad range of opportunities, shall we say, and we were in for the long haul.
Our first fire on the deck. That's friend Tony's boat

When I say long, I mean long enough that our contractor just moved his incredible cache of equipment out of our place in late July, just in time for my sister’s visit and us to figure out where stuff could actually fit in our tiny space. Plus, the house resettled after his heavy saws, drills and painting gear moved such that we listed even more to port, if that was possible.

Kitchen after

Kitchen before

My digression – now that we are moved in to our tiny home (658 sq ft / 61 sq m*), we had the floatation / leveling dude come yesterday. I’d hoped that leveling process would mean our wonky front door actually fits!  But alas, we still have a major air gap to be dealt with. His tasks included: removing 2 old beaver nests (go away!), a spent oil drum whose insulation melted away and installing additional floats and shims on our old growth giant logs to get the house level. For now. I understand flotation changes over time, so we will become friends with the floating home leveler. And, please, no more beavers under our house! We had one swim up to our float 2 nights ago with a giant branch in his mouth and he dove with that nesting branch just under our home. We yelled: NO but I don’t think they listen or care.

The new pantry cabinets ROCK
Although I suppose a whopping 650 sf doesn't qualify us as a tiny home like on the shows, which varies depending on what you hear, I have to say, ours is quaint and small. We measure every space 10 times to figure out walking space, furniture placement and trip hazards. It is interesting to note that on the 10th time, the measurements are still the same! So you execute accordingly. Example #51: cabinets. To create a pantry for food storage (mandatory!), we installed the typical 12" upper cabinets in a lower space to create a pantry, as our walkthrough space had to be large enough to actually pass between the “pantry” and “office”. 
Assembling the grill so
we can cook. No stove yet.

This will be our office. Mike building the desk.
Currently, I'm sitting at this crate as my desk.
Now this space usually would serve as a kitchen seating area but for us, it’s got to be two unique spaces – office AND storage. More stories abound on that front but only for those who actually care about the traumas of downsizing and crazy things like no storage. No garage, alas and that also means no more monthly Public Storage payment!

Another aha! moment - we are never more than 10 steps from the kitchen garbage receptacle which, upon reflection, can be a good thing.

There’s more stories waiting to unfurl from my brain but for now, I’ll do this post and share a few photos of this lovely place we now proudly call Home.

* For those who comment that we "should" be used to a small space on Pura Vida, she offers more storage than our home.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Getting our taco fix

Bundled up for my night watch

Dolphins at sunset

Calm sea - cloud reflection

Incredible hour long sunset with popcorn pink clouds

Our 23.25 hour passage across the Sea of Cortez was calm, pleasant with light sailing to help with our safe arrival in Guaymas. Lots of red tide all day and night so no wildlife with the exception of a small pod of dolphins at sunset. And the sunset - one of the best ever. We took so many photos!

Trying to photograph the quick moving dolphins!

We arrived in the early morning, avoided the fishing nets and shrimpers in the Guaymas area and scored the last slip at the Fonatur marina, where we worked our butts off for 2 days to prep for our haul out.

The sunset ooohs and aaahs from the crew were non-stop
Haul out on Saturday 8AM was thankfully uneventful and we are safely on the stands in the "new" dry yard. In between work projects, we are getting our major fix of tacos from the myriad of wonderful vendors that Guaymas has no shortage of.

We are living in the dirt yard until we depart in the next couple of days for a new chapter in our NW lives. This chapter features moving into our new tiny floating home! Although heading north "early", we have a lot to look forward to. Of course, including seeing friends and the

Happy Captain doing happy hour at the end of a long work day.
Behind him, construction of the music conservatory is going fast.
In the ways awaiting the lift. Mike had to turn us around to back
into the lift because of our boat configuration.
Yep, 36,000 lbs turns on a dime (or ten pesos).

Heading for the barn after some great sailing adventures.
We will officially no longer be 'homeless' as we have been the last five years. It's a huge deal for us. Come check out our new digs if you're in Portland.

Monday, February 15, 2016

From Maz to La Paz: another world beckons

Molcajete in Mazatlan. Killer!

Our attentive waiter, Memo, in Mazatlan
I’ve been remiss in writing since we made our safe passage north from Mazatlan to the Baja peninsula. No shortage of life has filled our past 15 days. Friends have written – where are you, they wonder and the truth is, we’ve been a lot of places. We’ve not had much internet of late which has been great, really, except for my work commitments!

Watch for the Shrimpers!
At the end of January, we enjoyed a good 48+ hour passage northwest across the sea to the La Paz harbor. We got in to the flow of day to night to day, our own cadence meshing with the boat movement and sail trim. Weather and water conditions varied a lot during that time so there’s plenty to keep us on our toes, along with the occasional dolphin checking in to ensure we are doing alright. The night sky provided a tremendous blanket of stars and bright planets spotlighted by the late night waning moon. To pass time during our 5-6 hour night watches, it’s a time for thinking and watching the darkness. We follow Orion, the Big Dipper and familiar constellations as they cross the night sky. We check gauges with our handy red-lensed headlamp, check for birds roosting on the mast, and sneak a treat from a dark cupboard hoping not to awaken our sleeping partner whose watch is coming up sooner or later. Only a couple of freighters and a giant cruise ship crossed our path during the night hours. While they loom small on the horizon, they quickly approach amid a frenzy of bright light and pass into the dark horizon, always a trip for me.
Interabang at anchor in Bahia Falsa
We are thankful for our night time tools that show targets including radar and AIS on Open CPN, which shows direction, speed and CPA (closest point of approach). Important stuff to know for decision making when you’re the little guy.
Our newly adjusted main sail, working like a charm

Freighter dock in the background
Hiking at Bahia Falsa with Trisha & Derrick

Ahhh, back to our destination which was Bahia Falsa. It's a wonderful protected harbor six miles outside of La Paz where the freighters and passenger ferries and cruise ships coming in at breakneck speed. Protected from the north winds by verdant and yet desert-like red hills. We stayed for six nights waiting for the northerly winds to subside and allow for a safe passage into the La Paz harbor. Turns out, the port was actually closed for 4 consecutive days which is quite unusual. Incoming traffic is always welcome, outbound not allowed. Luckily we had plenty of provisions and a couple of breaks in the wind during the week so we could hike on shore to stretch our legs and brains with Trisha and Derrick, our friends who shared their secret anchorage with us.

At the start of the parade route along the La Pa malecon

One of the first of many colorful and LOUD floats
We stayed in La Paz through the festivities of Carnaval, a full out sound and lights affair, which ended with a fabulous parade that was repeated for three, count ‘em, three nights. We caught the parade that last night then it was time to start our journey north up the sea to put Pura Vida to rest for the coming months.

The Shoe Mobile?

Banda music abounds. Musicians of all ages.

The Tecate "boy band" - they were good!
We’ve explored a few beautiful anchorages along our way north and are currently holed up in Ballandra, across from Loreto. As I write this, the winds are howling and we sway safely in the anchorage with a few other boats. We had planned to cross today but the winds are too strong for a safe journey and so we wait it out, hoping tomorrow is a better crossing day. We anticipate 24+ hours to Guaymas, as always, planning for an average of 5 knots per hour. We’ll see! 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

North from La Cruz & Banderas Bay

Sunset on our overnight passage north.

Mike and I departed La Cruz before "0-dark 30"; that being 6AM out of La Cruz. With their time zone change, the sun sets and rises an hour later than other places we've been. In the supreme darkness (no moon at that hour), we weaved through night time fishing pangas which thankfully had small lights so we could see our "targets". The sun rose about 7AM and we enjoyed smooth sailing for the first day of our trip. As usually happens, the winds pick up at night so the seas were choppier after our nice, long day. 

We did our 6 hour shifts at night with my starting with the evening, watching the stars come out and the moon rise. I came on shift again at 7AM, and caught this sunrise. 
The red ball rose through hazy morning clouds

Judy being artsy with the sunrise

Some of the shrimpers pass closeby
Quite spectacular! It lasted for a good long time and the warm sun was welcome after a cool night passage in our open cockpit. Off came the cap, socks and wind pants as the sun rose in the bright blue morning sky. On this passage, we didn't have any encounters with fishing nets so we were thankful. We'd had 2 tangles with nets on the way south. Mike got us free from the nets both times but we lost one of our boat hooks in the process - thankfully, Mike stayed on board!
Mike & David enjoying cigars on the patio. Nice!

Quite the panoramic view from Jan & David's patio

Blue mountains across Banderas Bay
Our last evening was spent with friends enjoying an amazing dinner and vistas of Banderas Bay. What a wonderful place! We hate to leave but it's time to head back north toward Mazatlan.
Funky Cuban bar in Puerto Vallarta where Mike bought cigars

Free mojito with the
purchase of a cigar
We'd spent an adventure day in Puerto Vallarta exploring, walking and taking in the sights and sounds - of which there is no shortage. We stopped at this Cuban place so Mike could by "authentic Cuban cigars". Well, they were good Montecristos to be shared that evening.

Next stop: we headed back to Mazatlan! I'll have to post pics of this stop later as we are getting ready to leave Friday AM for our 48+ hour passage up into the Sea, heading toward La Paz. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Night jasmine and palm trees

 This magic moment. The glorious scent of night jasmine wafting through the night air, the warm breeze swaying the palm trees, a nice evening walk back to the boat after a fun night out with friends. A great start to our time in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Nayarit, in the heart of Banderas Bay.
Shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe

Especially in this little village, music of all kinds is omnipresent. Whether surviving the loud banda music (the louder, the better? I don’t think so) or rock and roll in one of the many restaurants, La Cruz is a music hub. Music sets the stage, draws the crowd, tames the soul.
Cobblestone streets, Kenny's Carniceria (Meat Market)
Hot rod with air conditioning

Wednesday market - the veggie guy
We’ve been here over a week and on both Saturday evenings at the zocolo (town square), large Mexican bands performed dance music, everything from big band tunes to Mexican love songs. There were enough musicians that they spilled out of the gazebo, filling the square with music, while the locals danced and enjoyed general merrymaking. What fun to be part of it all.
We also enjoyed a great blues musician at Philo’s (may he rest in peace), and last night we watched the Packers game (volume off) while the house band played dance music. 
Tim Williams at Philo's

Relaxing at Dacquiri Dick's

Mike toting our new sinks at "World of Tile" store
Sinks for our new floating home
Leon, the world famous washboard player, sang “Jesus’ Brother Bob” to everyone’s delight.
We took a day to go to Puerto Vallarta for Judy's computer repair (again) and to find Mundo de Azulejos (World of Tile), truly a sensory overload of hand painted tile. We scored a couple items for our new floating home - sinks for the (soon to be upgraded) bathroom and house numbers.

It’s hard to say what the best part of La Cruz is this time…  however! The installation of our new mizzen sail and sail packs/lazy bags for both the mizzen and main is now complete, thanks to Tony Morrelli Performance Sails. We are stoked for the upgrades that we worked our butts off for this past summer.
Mike learning from Tony about our lazy bags