Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Lights! Action!

Merry Christmas from Mazatlan!

Our big news on Pura Vida: we have new Christmas lights. This is a big deal for us as we replaced our original colored lights we installed exactly 5 years ago when we bought Pura Vida! It's about time. Five years of glorious boat ownership under our belts. Along with the transition to LEDs, there have been a few other transitions we've made and what a journey we're having

We left Guaymas on December 9th and arrived in Topolobampo 48 hours later (check out our prior blog post for that story). After checking the weather for our proposed southbound journey (staying on the mainland side and not crossing over to the Baja peninsula), the trip from Topolobampo to Mazatlan was slated to be 40+ hours. What the weather reports tell us, we follow, so apparently we were going to wait a few days to avoid big crapola (that’s the sailor term for “wait it out”). 

Most people pass by Topolobampo, but this is our 3rd visit. One good reason I like it – it’s got as many vowels as my home town of Oconomowoc! How many places can claim that? On a side note, Topolobampo appears to be a sleepy town but the waterfront area bustles with literally tons of freight that moves day and night in and out of Mexico. The freighters rule as you come through the 20+ buoys into the harbor. The town was created around 1902 under the great vision of a San Francisco architect to make Topo the next San Francisco with a huge port welcoming incoming ships from around the world. Owen's vision to create a second SFO style destination did not come to fruition but remains a bustling harbor and an interesting stop on the mainland coast. 

After settling in at the marina and doing some of our chores, what better way to spend a windy Wednesday than a bus trip to the bustling metropolis of Los Mochis from Topolobampo. Los Mochis is where it's happening. 

On the bus, a great value at 19 pesos ($1.12), your ride includes FULL blast music on recycled buses that are in pretty good condition. The 45 minute trip features wonderful vistas of the farming area that Sinaloa is famous for. Their license plates feature a tomato! The bus carries people going to and from work, hauling Christmas gifts from the ‘big city’ and other travelers with a million stories I’d loved to learn. 

While in Los Mochis, a very large city in the Sinaloa region, we traversed quite a few miles on foot exploring. We never saw another Caucasian the entire day so as always, lots of people stare at the tall visitors. We arrived mid-morning and wandered from the bus drop off area and happened upon the newly opened upscale Panama bakery where we enjoyed banana cream pie (Judy’s fave) and carrot cake (Mike’s fave). Justification: we’d need fortitude after a long bus ride and our intended wandering through the big town. Panama bakery is famous in Mazatlan and just opened in Los Mochis so is a known entity. We had at least 6 people waiting on us at the bakery (such is the life of the turista) as they all wanted to be sure we were happy. Javier was our designated English speaker. We asked Javier to direct us to a local “tourist office” for what to see in Los Mochis. Ironically, he was from Culiacan, the neighboring city, so he apologized that he had no idea. He came back with a full report and we were sent to a Hotel Santa Anita where they have a very nice tourist office for visitors going to the Copper Canyon. We scored a great city map – photocopied at least 100 times but somewhat legible. Off we went to find # 1- 9, discovering each by walking the city, a most enjoyable experience although dangerous for two reasons: traffic that is crazy and never-ending and sidewalks rival the walking treachery you find in La Paz. Watch every step. Look down, look up, look left, look right.
Tile mural featuring the petroglyphs of the Fuerte River region

Of the designated stops, the best were the Regional Museum of Sinaloa and the River Fuerte region – and the Botanical Garden. True treasures.
An amazing array of petroglyphs found througout the region

Wandering about for lunch, it’s not hard, per se, but it’s not easy to find the right place. So many choices of street vendors and interesting smells. We ended up at a tiny shed that featured seafood. We considered the “tostada embarazada” – pregnant tostada – but settled on a coctel de mariscos, a wonderful combination of marinated shrimp and octopus in a tomato broth featuring onion, tomato and cucumber. We were happy campers, adding the various hot sauces to make each bite sing.

Regional museum
Part of our mission was to find a plumbing store for a 4” elbow and a wood store for a small sheet of thin plywood for Mike’s new plan to add more LED ambient lighting on board. We were successful for those finds but not for small flashlight batteries (seriously, impossible!) nor a 2016 calendar. It’s only December 16th and none of the hardware stores have their free calendars yet (we’ve been searching the entire month). We rely on local calendars to report holidays as we get screwed by not knowing when stores are closed, parades are happening, traffic stops and when churches are busy.

Iguanas and turtles at the gardens

Botanical gardens

After a long day of walking and a return bus ride watching an amazing sunset and blasted out by a HUGE speaker directly above our heads at the back of the bus, we are sitting on Pura Vida in the quiet, enjoying our new Christmas lights and thankful for the day’s outing. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Guaymas - Topolobampbo - Mazatlan

Guaymas fuel dock - ready to head out
On Saturday December 12th, we made passage south from Guaymas, Sonora to the tomato state of Sinaloa. Backup plan was a stop in Topolobampo on the way to Mazatlan, depending on weather and winds. We traveled with our friends on Three Hour Tour which was enjoyable to keep in contact and compare conditions. As a catamaran, they sail differently than our monohull and the southerly winds carried us both along on our unique tack for the first 24 hours. No other sail traffic joined us on the mainland side so our goal was to avoid shrimpers and freighters that are regulars along the coastline.

On day two, after a nice quiet evening and beautiful red sunset, the winds switched from the south to a northerly late on the second day as we entered a 30MPH squall that took us by surprise. We tacked differently to adjust for the conditions. The seas were rougher and the waves higher once the squall hit, so as we approached Topolobampo, our group decision was to stop for a break midway to Mazatlan. Conditions were quite lousy when we arrived at the entrance to the huge bay that leads into Topo. Three Hour Tour made the decision to continue their journey on to Mazatlan and we decided the fun factor was enough and went in.

shallow entrance to the bay at Topolobampo

kayak covers ripped off
by the winds and rain

a welcome sight- the hillside town of Topo
It took four hours from the first set of buoys to arrival at the dock at Marina Palmira, Mike hand steering as the high, following seas caused us to turn off our autopilot and manually steering provided better control of our vessel against the seas. We dropped the mainsail as we entered the bay, watching a moving rainbow dancing across the rain squalls.

the salt removal process!
Not a thing in the boat wasn’t tossed, turned or shaken up and we discovered a leaking port, this one in the forward head. We've stayed 6 days in Topo, chilling, working on boat projects and venturing in to Los Mochis on the bus. This morning, we head south to Mazatlan, ready for 40 - 48 hours' journey. We waited a few more days than originally anticipated to avoid strong northerlies that would have made our trip bumpy. Let's hope our timing is better.

We learn from each passage, we take all of life lessons in stride and although we write stories of exhausting experiences, we appreciate the opportunity to be out on the water doing what we enjoy. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Much to be thankful for!

Wearing our new Pura Vida hats - gifts from my brother's
visit to Pura Vida Cafe in Vallecito CO
We launched on Thanksgiving, a day to be thankful for and we are happy to be on the water once again after 18 days on the hard in the dusty dry yard. All the boat prep takes more time than you’d like but for us, everything must be done for our launch and prep for a nice liveaboard experience.
We couldn't bring our new dinghy south with us (always stories...),
so scored a great deal on a small dinghy here

On Thursday, while we did not have turkey or the fixin’s, we did score a couple pieces of amazing homemade pumpkin pies. Other than that, the holiday passed without much fanfare. We both got food poisoning 2 weeks ago then got somewhat better. Shortly thereafter, we did a major cleaning project which did me in and apparently set off something in my system. I contracted salmonella! So the idea of sharing a potluck with our associates in the dry yard on American Thanksgiving wasn’t in the cards for me.

The mural in Dr. Sanchez office - nice welcome!
I haven’t been this sick since 2002 and now believe much of my pains, aches and limited abilities are due to the prescribed antibiotic, Cipro. It’s been a tough series of 8 days since diagnosis and while Dr. Sanchez says my “hemoglobins are better”, my symptoms are not. I did not know I could sleep this much and still be this achy tired. OK, enough of my whining, I am just used to having a ton of energy and not being sick. I am on day 8 of 10 of the antibiotic and hope for the best once day 11 begins: reduced swelling, redness, achiness and all those really appealing characteristics one seeks out in a life / boat partner!

It’s such a great experience to have amazing, supportive friends who are helping out.
Some of our amazing friends! 

It must be holiday time here. The stores are starting to blare loud music, they're bringing out the sky high lard and turkey hot dog displays, and don't forget your tequila party in a box, complete with Squirt and a bag o' chips. Si, si si - let's party! 

We are waiting for a few days for the boat to settle into the water and Mike will tune the rigging before we head south on our journeys. We are deciding whether we’ll cross over to the Baja or do a straight run down the mainland coast. With my job, I need to have internet access most of the time so that will limit where we go.

And go we will, where the winds take us!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Road Trip? Check. Adventures? Check.

Well, when you're ready for a road trip, why not drive to Mexico? We've begun our travels south to reach Pura Vida. She safely awaits us in Guaymas, Sonora, having been spared from the rains, hurricanes and big winds. Like so many boat owners in Mexico this fall, all eyes anxiously on Hurricane Patricia, a huge relief when it curtailed.

We are ready for some sailing, fun and sun in the Sea and this year, we'll go as far south as Puerto Vallarta to pick up our new mizzen sail.

Summer was fruitful and hectic with 8 jobs between the 2 of us. We both worked pretty much 6-7 days / wk and moved 3 times, continuing the ordeal of living out of duffel bags for the 4th year. We did unpack a bunch of boxes from our storage unit, downsized even more then happily moved into a great floating home we'd rented before. Alas, the home sold in 3 weeks of our moving in, so we moved yet again but it did allow us to enjoy and sort through some sorely missed belongings. We are very thankful to our incredible friends who helped us through our living situations once again.

As fall arrived and we started thinking about sunshine, we lucked out amazingly with an unplanned opportunity to purchase our own floating tiny house! It's in a nice moorage on Hayden Island. We signed docs just last week and will now have a place to return to when we head back to work in the spring. Let the projects begin.
Sunset from house 2 of 3 we lived in

Great reminder (thanks to Ang & Don)

We actually went sailing a couple times

WI capital building
Our 8th wedding anniversary

My brother's back yard in WI on 20 acres

Bounty at the Farmer's Market in Madison WI
Mike's sister & husband and 143# Zeke
under the grape arbor
at sister Joan's
In the Sierra Nevada mts - great vistas

A keeper - 1st hint of our home purchase

Our next quest: fixing up our tiny home on Hayden Island

Monday, June 22, 2015

Getting to ‘Normal People Mode’

Mike drove to Seattle to buy our dinghy!
Life on the river - it's good!
It’s been an adventure or two since we drove north to Portland getting back into what I call “Normal People Mode”, joining the ranks of working people trying to fit it all into 24 hours. It’s a serious transition from boat life to traditional work life, as many know.
Portland Fireboat from our deck
We started work the day after we arrived (April 14th) and we both have worked at least one job every day since. We are super thankful that we have so much work, quite different than last summer.

We gleefully moved into our friends' fabulous floating home on the Columbia River while they are in Fiji, and we set up for summer transition

Our daily heron visit
After a bout of giardia we contracted in early April, thanks to careless water consumption in Mexico, we are both doing better after a round of antibiotics followed by probiotics. A reminder that hot water and careful washing of all food is critical especially south of the border.

And on to life in Portland! Thanks to our amazing friends, 6 months of mail was picked up and purged, my car was well cared for in a garage, we borrowed a truck to move our stuff, had our old grill delivered(!), have access to a pontoon boat to move up river, and even enjoyed a few evenings with flexible friends working around our wacky schedules. 

Mike is busily selling sailboats and teaching ASA sailing lessons. He's just listed our friends' boat currently in Mexico. If you know of anyone who's ready, check out this listing:
Cool sunset after our
 gig at West Marine
Mike sold a boat to this nice family
Our 6 months' of mail - thanks to Ilene

The Clampett's - moving our stuff again

Our new place ready to move in
The new U-Haul! upriver we go - Mike with Chuck at the helm
We’re now moving on - up the river a mile to our new digs (which are actually our old digs from 2013, this time unfurnished but our place, nonetheless). Lisa’s dad Chuck lives in the same moorage so we’ve been fortunate to spend some time with him, and he and Mike worked together to fix the pontoon boat for her season starting voyage. I was escorted upriver like a princess to see our new place. It was pretty darn magical.
Our new place for 4 months

Friday, April 10, 2015

Whale Sharks, Sunsets and Haul Out

16' whale shark & Baja coast reflection-Photo courtesy of Avant 
Bahia  Concepcion - courtesy of Avant
For the last couple weeks of March, we thoroughly enjoyed great days at Bahia Concepcion, moving from one anchorage to another for different experiences. Whale sharks and babies graced the bay at Coyote Beach and we kayaked alongside as they grazed on plankton. We kayaked over to Burro Bay to try and meet Gary, the Sea of Cortez weather guy we all rely on. From Santispac Beach, you can walk the beach, enjoying wicked margaritas at Armando’s, get a ride the 13 miles to Mulege from locals or RVers who frequent the area. In the bustling town of Mulege, there are two places for internet access, four small grocery stores and wandering streets where it’s easy to get lost. They had a lot of damage from Hurricane Odile. 

Sunset colors astound
Bahia Santispac - another great sunset
Then it was time to head out as Semana Santa (Holy Week) approached. Thousands of Mexicans flock to the various beaches to enjoy the long weekend, and banda music is sure to keep you up into the wee hours.
Sunrise at Guaymas marina
We'll miss these sunsets!

We moved north to begin our voyage across the sea to Guaymas. Our passage was very pleasant, sailing (and motoring) on a beam reach across 78 miles in 16 hours.

Getting Pura Vida ready for haul out
Back in our hangout, Guaymas, we’ve spent 10days prepping Pura Vida for the hot summer on the hard and for our future projects (more, you say?!). Lots of work to set things right, which we think is important – we spend much more time than some to prepare.

the unnerving process of haul
out, getting straps ready

Setting up the ladder in the yard
It’s been a lovely time on the sea. Sometimes systems don’t work as we wish and that’s all part of what makes this rewarding and challenging. We met up with friends and made great new ones. We leave tomorrow heading for Portland where family, friends, work and new adventures await!
The Dougout: Cocteleria de mariscos (seafood cocktails)

Icy cold Indio
& seafood cocktail

Guaymas as we prepare Pura Vida for haul out across the bay. 
Navy yard across from Fonatur Marina

Huge fish at El Chayon seafood roadside stand.
We bought flounder & bbq'd w/
red pepper jelly glaze

Playful dolphins w/ WELCOME sign at the bay in Guaymas 

covering the furlers
from summer sun
Another whale photo, can't get enough.

Agua Verde bird patrol