Thursday, December 13, 2012

Life in Guaymas - viva la revolucion!

El Dia de la Revolucion
Keeping it all in perspective, one morning we were off to find the ‘good’ hardware store (recommended by fellow cruisers to find critical boat parts) and it was closed. We walked from the camion azul (blue circumnavigation bus) to the main drag for the next bus south, and literally walked into a major parade. We were so focused on our boat projects we didn't know that today was Day of the Revolution, so we had to ask the reason for the parade. Of course, this is a huge holiday here which as visitors, we should know. Teaches us to pay attention beyond our small world to look around and learn more history.

I cried as we watched the incredibly long parade - it was like the parades of old in the US for Memorial Day, when every kid was out in a costume or outfit and every group represented. Here it’s walking uniformly in school or sport uniforms - blaring music from the back of a pickup, banners proclaiming Tierra y Libertad - land and freedom. And the occasional float throwing candy (dulces). A great experience.

Chicken en Mole for Thanksgiving
We spent Thanksgiving with another cruising couple at our wonderful bungalow. Enjoyed our view of the sunset over the bay (beyond the Tecate beer billboard), rum rocks with lime, chicken en mole sauce. Not traditional but hey, a great, relaxing time with good friends.

Pura Vida is still so much a work in progress that we choose not to live aboard at the dry yard. It's dusty, dirty and with 4 huge golf cart batteries sitting in the salon waiting for install, electronics projects all about and stuff everywhere, it's not comfy for living. Call us snobs – others do it, but Mike did the liveaboard in Olympia for 6 months and no need to repeat right now.
Our salon is a staging area
for all of our projects!

Plus, we are stoked with our deluxe bungalow for $400/mo - it's 4 long bus rides daily roundtrip to the boat which adds to the adventure, two lovable barking daschhunds greet us at our gate after our dusty walk from the bus. So, we explore and live locally which we both totally enjoy.

We are the only TALL gringos in Guaymas! People stare at us on the bus, as we walk along the road, and at the stores. The gringos hang out in San Carlos, an hour bus ride away. This is the life we prefer and it costs less.

Feelin’ the Love on Pura Vida
Teak work, cleaning the bilge, painting the boards for our new propane locker (custom made boards built by the guy who sells bed frames along the highway). Oh and a million other projects dabbled on. Lighting, sound, alarms, safety.
Here we're pirating parts off a derelict boat
- tracks to run our staysail sheets
and the bowsprit which we're having
reworked into our stern pulpit (safety)

Our projects continue and progress is measurable. The categories of our many projects are: repairs, upgrades and maintenance. Extensive in each category, divided by time and skill set. Judy is learning about systems, power tools. Up and down our ladder multiple times/day to haul water, tools and parts. Not complaining, just a view of our lives over the last month.

Mike spends hours in the engine room doing the amazing things he does to fix mechanical and electrical systems. Our conversations revolve around check valves and rusty contact points. And rigging for our sails.

PHOTOS: projects, life in Guaymas and summer on the Columbia

Saturday Night Live

Our newly refinished deck!
Just back from another day of boat work and a myriad of adventures - on the bus, at the market, at the store. Saturday and Sunday are work days for us, too.

Mike's new propane locker
at the stern. No more plastic
crates on our deck!
So on this Saturday on Pura Vida, it was teak work, cleaning the bilge, painting our new propane locker support board we had built by the guy on the highway who sells bed frames. Oh and a million other projects dabbled on. Progress is being made and the list is getting shorter. Some of these are maintenance, upgrades, others are mandatory repairs. All are labors of love.

New engine panel (R) and new fiberglass
cubbyhole(not in yet) to replace old gauges
that bumped you in the back
One of our friends wrote to be safe. Well, that's just a good idea and one we follow! Don't go out at night - more the fear of getting run over on the busy highway outside our driveway. And we are better about the buses - no such thing as a schedule but we learn more about getting around. 

Tonight we got off the 2nd bus at the Ley grocery store, of our 2 bus trip each way from the bungalow to the boat yard. We bought tequila and tortillas and a refrigerated pizza (sad but true) - navigating around the LOUD blaring music in the deli department where (seriously) cheese whiz, turkey dogs and unknown processed foods are being hawked by overweight women next to huge speakers squawking bad bump music in shopping carts. Are you getting the visual? It's part of the holiday extravaganzas at the stores.

We walked our 1/2 mile home and the quiet of our bungalow is magical. Our string of Christmas lights and our poinsettia brighten our space. Tequila on the rocks, AC and a hot shower. Now that's a great Saturday night.

Oh, and our latest Saturday night 'live' was spent perusing sailing hardware online at Garhauer Marine checking out boat parts.

Monday, November 5, 2012

We flew to Phoenix 11/3 after vacating our floating home and carting out our belongings along the dock and up the ramp in the rain. The logistics of the last month have been mindboggling as we close out that wonderful water lifestyle (along with the resident noshing beavers under our home) and move on to the next.

Tonight we start the next chapter of adventure on the midnight ‘ejecutivo’ bus to Guaymas, Sonora about 9-12 hours south. We’ve enjoyed 2 days with friends sharing laughs and stories, buying last minute items. 

We anticipate our furnished bungalow for 5,000 pesos / 403USD where we’ll live for Nov/Dec. It’s a short bike or bus ride to the marina where we’ll work every day preparing Pura Vida for her splash.

And to the armchair story…getting ready to “set sail” entails a huge leap of faith that you’re doing the right thing. It is with a tearful eye that I write this: the passage from armchair to adventure weighing heavily on our minds as we move away from the comfort of Portland to a world of unknowns, scared yet giddy with the excitement of it all.

The adventures await and we are gearing up. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Goehler Quest: the next chapter

We respectfully dedicate this blog post to Caron and Doug, an amazing couple who have faced incredible adversity during the last 16+ months. Doug was diagnosed with ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease last summer. In support of Doug, I had the opportunity to share a few moments with them during the ALS Walk held downtown Portland on 9/30. Just a short (or long) week later, Doug has gone to a better place. In talking with Caron on that Sunday, she reinforced our decision to pursue our dreams while we are able.

Sunset on the Columbia, Judy's BD 9/7
The RailRoad Crossing just west of us
The summer weather has been great in Portland and we’re thankful for so many experiences living on the Columbia River. The wildlife, water, summer evenings on the deck, heron on patrol, squawking osprey and busy beavers … these are just some of the benefits of houseboat living, along with nice neighbors, incredible sunsets, and island living. Check out our photos at

We’ve been thankful for the work opportunities we’ve had! Mike has two jobs, working as a yacht broker at Passion Yachts and as a Home Depot associate. Both have been rewarding and learning experiences. If you’re in the market for a boat, check out

Judy’s been working in marketing, project management and consulting with a number of great clients, helping them build their businesses.

Pura Vida being hauled out in Guaymas
Our Sailing Vessel Pura Vida awaits us in Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico and we are anxious to see her again. She’s been ‘on the hard’ in the baking sun. We’ve hired a local craftsman to do major repairs for us, including complete deck stripping and refinishing and now we’re on to the hull repair project due to blisters and repairing the ‘coral problem’ that Judy caused on our first day of cruising when I ran us aground outside of Port Townsend, WA. Oh, but that’s another story.  A few photos:

We’ve had some difficult decisions to make about our next chapter, but after long discussions and consternation, we’re gearing up to continue our quest and head south again for more sailing experience and cruising adventures. The amount of logistics is incredible and we are realizing that this year is as least as much work as last year! We didn’t think it would be this tough. But you get in to a groove in the workaday world and it’s not easy to extricate yourself.

Finding the Crystal Dolphin on the joyous mile
During the last couple of months, we’ve been struggling with leaving our jobs, doing another upheaval from a nice living experience on the water, and starting anew. Sometimes, things happen for a reason and you just don’t know it…yet. We’d just watched a video clip sent by one of our cruising friends showing dolphins playing with their cat aboard their sailboat.

After our weighty discussion that evening about whether we could pull it off, getting back to Mexico and all that entails, I took the walk along what I call the joyous mile, the stretch of dock that is our walkway along the 56 houseboats in our moorage. It’s the best walk ever, with the fabulous houseboats, tropical plants, night lighting from the homes, and the moon sparkling on the river. You’re overwhelmed by the quiet, beauty and mellowness of it all. The reasons you live on the water.

As I walked along, I happened upon a crystal dolphin under a walkway light. Really, there it was – a little message calling out to me that it would be alright. We’d make it work, we’d figure it out.
S/V Pura Vida under sail
I looked around, and of course I picked up that dolphin, and it now sits on our window sill at the sink in front of our Pura Vida photo. So, it’s inspiration and the significance is not lost on us.

Hasta la vista
We look forward to seeing our cruising friends again and while we don’t know where or when we’ll see them, we know it will happen in some amazing and fun ways.

Judy & Mike

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Houseboat life on the Columbia River

Down the long floating dock to our home

We're loving life on the Columbia River in Portland. We live in a lovely, small houseboat on Columbia Slough, complete with osprey, our resident heron, baby ducks and geese, and a bold, day cruisin' raccoon. It's not dissimilar to boat living, in that you haul everything a long way to your slip.
View of the back from the landing

Our deck and view to the N
We're thankful the family who rents our home signed on for another year, freeing us up for a new way of life that we both wanted to experience. Hmmm, another water-based may be seeing a trend.
May hail storm!
Stormy sunsets abounded in May
Weather in May and June has been up and down. Check out this hailstorm! Followed the next day by spectacular sunset over the nearby railroad bridge. This deck is at our landlord's place - our home faces opposite toward the shore about 70 yards away.

Pura Vida waits for us in Mexico. She's in dry dock at Guaymas, being watched over by Ops Mgr Gabriel and his crew. We are having the deck stripped and re-fiberglassed, a huge project, and one which we hope is going well...

Summer in Bend, Oregon. Yep that's snow at Mt Bachelor
Relaxing with good friends at their new place in Bend
Since returning via Phoenix in early May, we've been settling in to our new lives, and catching up with friends and family which has been wonderful!

Mike and I both have paid jobs, thankfully, to replenish the cruising kitty. Mike works in Vancouver, WA and I have 3 part time jobs in Portland, doing freelance marketing. Mind you, we were working the 10 months we lived on the boat, just not getting "paid", per se, yet benefiting from the results of that labor.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

From the Sea of Cortez to Portland

Hola! Suffice to say that we traversed a lot of miles* since my last blog post – six weeks ago! You’d think I’d had time to “quickly write a blog post” but quick and Mexico don’t often occur in the same sentence. 
We had some amazing journeys in the Sea of Cortez from late March until the beginning of May, traveling with friends old and new, with pods of dolphins and low flying pelicans along the way to cheer us on. We crossed from Mazatlan to La Paz where we spent a few short days, then started our travel north along the Baja coast.
We reveled in the beauty of the area’s majestic mountains and blue water bays, enjoying wildlife sightings and happy hours watching the sun set. And, we even put up our sails to catch the wind. Imagine that. Managing the four sails of a ketch is an art we’re working on and we’ve learned alot. Winds vary by day and night so each day brings new experiences.

Explored some fantastic little bays and islands, hiking and cruising around in our dinghies to get to the beaches, some white sand, others with shells and agates, others with granite and huge stone formations. Each unique and offering another perspective on the geography of the Baja California peninsula.
Judy in full cover up  - way too much sun
We shared these experiences with fellow cruisers who have become quick friends as we explore remote areas and find treasures on the shore or a good taco stand when we’re in port.
*We cruised and sailed about 550 miles on the Sea of Cortez. The bus mileage I’m not sure about since it doesn’t matter when you’re relaxing in the back of a deluxe Tufesa bus. Every mile, a story.

Check our pics
Our photos best tell the tale of our time on the water, and I’ve added captions to enhance the visuals. Once you see some of our many photos, you may understand why we are going back in the fall to see if we still like it there.
1.       Isla San Francisco, Puerto Escondido
2.       Loreto, San Carlos – a shared taxi ride to explore the town of Loreto; sunset in the anchorage at San Carlos
3.       Bahia San Juanico – where we spent 6 days and 5 nights waiting out the weather! No services there but lovely beaches and some fun cruising friends
4.       San Carlos and Pura Vida haul out in Guaymas
5. Los Muertos, San Evaristo
6. Isla San Francisco, Puerto Escondido

Ahhh, Pura Vida

Cleaning and oiling the teak on the bowsprit
Through all of these 10 months on the water, Pura Vida has been a dream. She’s responded well to our love, repairs and enhancements and rides nicely on the water. Having a full keel makes for a stable passage on rough waters. We’ve learned her quirks as she has learned ours. I’d say she’s got more patience – one might expect that of a 19 ton vessel that does not, shall we say, turn on a dime.

What Now?

After 11 hours on the bus from Mexico to Phoenix (and 5 stops for Mexican and US officials’ boarding), dinner with friends then a short flight north, we are back in Portland, adjusting to a lot of changes.

We are both working on getting employment, looking for a cheap car to buy, and catching up with friends. We can be found on Hayden Island, enjoying our new life on a houseboat, a great transition from sea to land.
We miss Pura Vida and yet are excited to renew our love of Portland until November.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Heading West from Mazatlan!

We’ve spent a few enjoyable days in Mazatlan, mostly anchored in the old harbor then 3 days at El Cid Marina. Photos tell the stories:
Tonight at 11P, we head west across the Sea of Cortez with our friends on Interabang and two other boats from the Baja Ha-Ha. We’ll traverse an estimated 190 miles, around 36 hours transit time. Leaving at night, we’ll have 2 night passages and arrive at Bahia de Los Muertos in AM. Los Muertos is a few kilometers south of La Paz and a nice resting spot after a long journey.

Cruising Along Mazatlan Harbor

Its Saturday midmorning (3/24) and we’re traversing 14 miles north from Mazatlan old harbor to the estuary where the marinas and bird nesting areas are. We will spend two days at Marina El Cid to clean the boat, enjoy services and prepare for our voyage to cross the Sea of Cortez, known here as the Sea.

At the helm we’re experiencing a rich array of seabirds along Isla Pajaros (Birds Island) and serve as a source of their entertainment:

-           Magnificent frigates, perilously close, crisscross Pura Vida with their almost seven foot wing span and occasionally attack a lone Brown Booby sitting on the water

-          Bevies of Brown Boobies skim just before our bow and acrobatically zoom up then down into waves for food, checking us out rather closely in the cockpit

-          ‘Gangs’ of pelicans zoom like low riders barely missing the waves

And for dessert, as we approach the entrance a pair of dolphins skim a wave and say hello. The estuary entrance proves rather harrowing as the tide ebbed and waves crashed along the breakwater access. Mike deftly moves our heavy “Bessel” through the narrow channel. This access is all about timing: the tides, the dredge that keeps the channel open and tons of fishing boats that pass.

Bioluminescent Dolphin

During our night passage from Puerto Vallarta/Banderas Bay to Mazatlan, our most incredible nature experience yet. Thankfully, Mike woke me to share watching the awesome dolphin that played along left and right of our bow for 15 minutes. The night was very dark and blue bioluminescence encapsulated his body, serving as a spotlight for us to watch the show. Wow.

That night was illuminated by the rare proximity of Jupiter and Venus glowing brightly together in the western sky. Around 4 am, the last quarter of the moon shared its dim light against the star-filled sky and I anxiously awaited the first light of dawn, ready to approach Mazatlan harbor in the morning light.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Portland, Here we come!

It's hard to believe that in May it'll be one year since Judy quit her job, we downsized our lives, and made the transition to live aboard Pura Vida to prepare for this incredible journey. Every aspect of this time is enriching and life-changing. As I sit here writing in a palapa restaurant in the magical sea village of Chacala, with the sea breeze blowing on my face and mariachi band playing, we are thankful beyond belief for this great adventure.

Our 6-month Mexican Tourist Visas expire on May 1st - we didn't expect to stay in Mexico this long but it's a rich and wonderful country - and we fly to Portland on the 2nd. Shamelessly, we are seeking your help to secure 6 month employment opportunities for both of us, and really appreciate any referrals or ideas! We are ready to start work on May 3rd.

We look forward to seeing family and friends, driving a car for the first time since September, oh - and Judy is looking forward to Chinese food! We've traversed thousands of miles, explored coastal and inland destinations, and have come to love the cruising lifestyle. We've decided to leave our boat in San Carlos, Sonora (northern Mexico above the hurricane latitude for insurance). Our hope is to return in November to explore more of Mexico, join our cruising friends on journeys south and see what the winds bring.

Photos from Chacala at

Monday, March 12, 2012

El Presidente comes to the Sailing Regata and Pura Vida projects

The International Sailing Regata has filled the La Cruz marina with people from all over the world, here to race in several classes of boats!

The town has been bustling with repairs and upgrades the last 2 months in anticipation of President Calderon's visit, which happened yesterday - few knew about it - presidential security and all that. Tons of military with machine guns throughout the marina and security gates to pass through and we are in the midst of it all, at the fabulous marina.
Working the booth at the regatta
We volunteered at Amigos de La Cruz booth this week during the regatta, to help educate visiting sailors about this great service organization that helps local people, educates and provides recycling programs, library and education opportunities and more. We are proud to be members.

Since our last visitors departed, we have been connnecting with fellow cruisers to learn more about system maintenance and upgrades to benefit our improvements to Pura Vida. Cleaning and oiling teak; making sun and bug screens for all hatches; installing sun shades and side panels for the cockpit, and tons of other "stuff" that makes us and our boat happy.
Judy cleaning the teak on the bowsprit

Our screens are handmade concoctions that work!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Ziplines, mule ride and ATV adventure trip

With Kathryn & Kent (friends from Camano Island WA), we enjoyed a very full day of adventure, starting with travel to the Sierra Madre mountains outside Puerto Vallarta - on a flatbed truck with sides and a top - winding our way into the mountains on ATV, followed by 11 ziplines through the jungle and forest - ending with upside down backwards ziplines down to the river. Yowsah! Then off on mules along the river to a tequila exhibit and tasting in the lovely mountain setting. A complete day!

Inland to Guadalajara, Jalisco

We traveled via super deluxe bus for 4 days in early Feb to history-rich Guadalajara, Jalisco. Enjoyed double decker open air bus tours of Tlaquepaque, Tonala and the city. Great way to explore in this very European style, bustling destination, full of sculptures, parks, monuments and a town square not far from our Hotel Morales.

Went to lucha libre our first night, Mexican wrestling with costumed "heroes and villians". Too bad, no photos allowed - just a photo of the masks you could buy.

We traveled with Lauri, visiting from PDX for a week, and our Canadian traveling companions from Copper Canyon - S/V Tahnoo and S/V Borboleta who we met after the Baja Ha-Ha.

Photo gallery:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Exploring Bahia de Banderas

We are loving Banderas Bay – staying on the north end in La Cruz. Been here since New Years’ Eve and busy ever since with hosting friends from Portland, seeing many cruisers who made the trip south with us on the Baja Ha-Ha and have now become cruising friends, working on boat projects (they never end, I can assure you). There are so many stories to share and I wish I had time to write them all down, or a few of them anyway. Every day, I intend to spend time online and writing my stories but life is full of adventure and the computer does not beckon enough when compared to astonishing sunrises and sunsets; happy hours spent exploring with friends; outdoor movies; hikes along the beach and learning about the region.
Check on Google Earth to see that Banderas Bay is huge - and a wonderful place for wintering humpbacks. Calves being born and it's a busy time with the mating season for next year. Went to a whale seminar yesterday - very interesting! Also whale watching from our sailboat and when we went scuba diving last week.
So many stories and not much time to write. Here are a few photos to show some of our adventures, of which there are many!
View Mike Judy Goehler's Gallery

Food Shopping!

January 24 was a big bus trip to Chedraui, one of the grande shopping stores – kind of like a Fred Meyer, Mexican style. 

Seriously, Trisha deciding choices in the dried bean aisle!
I invited Trisha to join me in today's  experience: bus ride which often includes a guitar player or other entertainment looking for pesos, the hike to the bus then grocery store, amazing food choices many of which we don’t know but are often willing to try, a bus trip back laden with bags of goodies and the long haul down cobblestone streets to the marina.

Once back at the marina, the work starts. Remove all cardboard packaging to avoid cockroaches getting on board; soaking fruits and veggies before they come on board; storing eggs and rotating every few days to stay fresh – non refrigerated; storing foods in plastic or Debbie Meyer green bags to retain freshness.

Most shopping is done locally at the "aberrotes" - local grocery stores. Fresh eggs, cheese cut to order at the cash register, fresh veggies. Other local shopping includes the meat market; fish market; tortiilla shops = very cool to watch them make corn tortillas. You can also buy flour tortillas.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mazatlan to Banderas Bay - starting the New Year!

We spent a glorious time in Mazatlan, exploring this wonderful, historical city on the water. Sculptures along the malecon (waterfront esplanade), taco stands on many city streets, 2x1 margaritas at many restaurants, complete with local music and homemade salsas.

We bought Christmas pinatas at the mercado (market) and did the pinata breaking of both star shaped pinatas on the bow of Canadian friends' boat Tahnoo, with 9 of us vying for the candy we'd loaded them with. Very fun! That was after our swim in the pool and soaking in the hot tub at the marina. Mike and I stayed at the "cheap marina" and dinghied over to our friends' place.

Nativity scene on the esplanade - this one in Puerto Vallarta - Christmas is huge in an overtly Catholic country!

We had a wonderful Christmas with Canadian friends (our traveling companions to Copper Canyon and Guadalajara). They organized a Blue Water Cruisers Association dinner and included us. We are not yet members of this Canadian group of boaters.

After a fun Christmas holiday season, we headed to Puerto Vallarta to arrive on New Years' Eve day to celebrate the new year with other friends we'd met along the way.

That 2 day boat trip south from Maz to Puerto Vallarta is the stuff of other blog posts yet to be written but I do have hand written notes from those late night shifts on the open water, petrified of fishing nets, floating whales and other unknowns...