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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tick Tock - Tick Tock

We are almost there - almost...
We are almost in the water...

Jim finished installing our Icom 710 SSB/Ham radio. But there was a little problem...
I must have accidentally left the microphone part in our storage shed in Colorado. Oopsie.
But no big issue - we'll just listen to the Nets because we can at least receive on the unit, right? Wrong!
Did you know (because we sure didn't) that the Icom 710 must have the microphone plugged into the microphone jack in order to hear anything?? Curses!

I ignored Jim's eyeball glaring and very rude comments (something about scatter-brain-something) and got on the VHF in a desperate plea to borrow someone's radio mic so that my husband could at least test our new radio. Cruisers can be such nice people and someone did come to my rescue. And our Icom works!

And would you believe it? We found a radio store here in Guaymas that ordered a new microphone for us, had it shipped from Chihuahua AND it arrived in two days? Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

And Jim actually transmitted last night all the way to Barra de Navidad!

So, if you find yourself in a pinch radio-wise and you happen to be in the Guaymas area, we suggest visiting SERVICIOS MARINOS - Comunicacion y Navegacion Electronica. It is located about a mile south of Marina Singlar (Fonatur) on the same road - left hand side.

Now, for that 15HP, 2-stroke, short shaft outboard problem we have...
Like, we don't have one anymore and we need one desperately!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Same Day Passport Service for US Passports

While we were on the road over Christmas, we realized that two of the family's passports expire April 2012. So, we made a pit stop in Tucson on the way back to the boat. I called the Western Passport Agency in Tucson and made an appointment for the following day. We needed renewed passports expedited - and I mean fast! We had no idea what to expect.

We arrived with our appointment confirmation number and our passports and explained our situation. Yes, they said we could get our passports "expedited". The only tricky part was that they wanted proof that we wouldn't be in the United States in the next 4-5 weeks. For example, a letter from our employer stating that we needed to travel. Nope. An airline ticket. Nope. How about our Mexican insurance policy for the car? Yep.

And get this...
Jim and I had our renewed passports in our hands in 3 hours! I kid you not. Because we are living on our boat in Mexico and plan to sail further south in January, Tucson super-expedited our passport renewals and we walked away with them in our hot little hands within hours.


  • Your passport has to be processed at one of the Regional Centers
  • Make an appointment. 1-877-487-2778. This number is an automated service available 24/7.  I was able to run through all the options and actually speak with a rep who suggested I use the Mexican car insurance policy as proof we needed our passports faster than not.
  • Have 2 passport photos made before you show up for your appointment. Jim and I walked into a Walgreen's and had them taken immediately the evening before our special day. It cost about $10 each for 2 photos and we walked out ten minutes later with our photos in hand. CVS Pharmacy does them and they even have a $2 off coupon. Rite Aid does them. Walmart. Kinko's.
  • To renew, bring your current passport, your 2 passport photos, and some other form of ID, like your driver's license.
  • Show up a few minutes before your scheduled appointment with your appointment confirmation number. Fill out forms. Pay. It was $110 per person to renew our passports. In addition, there was a $60 per person fee to have our passports "expedited". They do accept major credit cards, which is good since we weren't carrying $340 cash on us.
You can have them shipped to you in a hurry in some cases. For us, that wasn't prudent since we were crossing the border that day. However, here is how to get your passport in a hurry if you're not leaving the US for a few days.

All in all, it was a pleasant experience. Easy. Faster than I could have ever imagined. Nice, humorous, happy government employees - for a change. And we were ever so grateful...
that we didn't have to expedite the kid's passports, too!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Rude, rude, RUDE!

I know it was.
I know that it was totally rude of me to post the photos of Rocinante sitting sideways in the muck in the previous post.
But if you are a cruiser and you boast that you have NOT ever run aground, you are either:
a. a big, fat liar OR
b. doubly blessed by God and all that is Holy - pure and simple!

Gabriel of the Marina Seca Guaymas boatyard. That spot of land he's standing on
is under water when the tide is high.
Like the time one of our crew used a lead line to check the depth at an anchorage -
only the checker was measuring from the lifelines and not the waterline! Hard reverse (and I do mean HARD) saved us from that little oopsie. So, we don't brag to be smarter, better or less likely to go aground than anyone else.

Iron Butterfly testing the limits
We really like Guaymas and the Guaymas Seca boatyard (otherwise known as 'Gabriel's' - since he's the owner). But again, keep an eye on the tides here, especially if your keel is more than 5' - and even then...

Iron Butterfly went in the water - 26 tons of her! That was pushing it a bit with the travel lift and Jim and I were praying that the immense weight didn't break the equipment. Selfish of us that we want to be in the water, too, and very soon - I know. But Gabriel choregraphed the dance and Iron Butterfly migrated beautifully without any damage to the travel lift that will hopefully be splashing us soon.

Samantha and Trini - the best darn Girl Scout cookie sellers on the planet!
We're making progress. We placed orders of necessary products, like: bottom paint, a new barometer, fuel gauge, school books, Yogi India Spice Tea and Travel Scrabble. Fortunately, we have good friends 5-6 hours away. We picked up our orders and got to visit with our Montrose, Colorado cruising friends. It was a blast and we were just in time for Girl Scout cookies! I was shocked that my cherry-pie-only eating husband grabbed himself a box of Thin Mints. I snagged the Samoas. With these two cute girls selling the best cookies in America there was no way to say no.

Face painting.
Comex quoted around $185 a gallon for our bottom paint. Our last Comex application failed, but we believe it was due to the application moreso than the quality of the paint. More on that later. So, we are trying a new bottom paint - Blue Water Marine Copper Pro. We paid $165 a gallon with shipping. We purchased 4 gallons.

Hotspur is hoping to splash in a couple days!! Keep your fingers crossed!!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Marina Guaymas or Gabriel's

Boat yards are dirty...
they can be dangerous...
and living aboard in a boat yard is just plainly - a pain.
(Our 16 year old, Tim, remarked that living on a boat in a boat yard was as close as he had ever been to feeling like he was living a in Third World country.)

Dan and Jim: we enjoyed Dan's last evening in Guaymas aboard Rocinante. Dan knows
better than to try and leave at low tide - based on experience.
You can't use the head because you can't pump it out. That means multiple trips to the bathroom - up and down a tall aluminum ladder. And in the middle of the night? Well,let's just say that I have a new title - Chamber Maid.

The shower heads in the public bathrooms usually 'drizzle' - and sometimes even hot water.

Dishes can be done in a sink behind the bathroom. That's why most people on the hard eat out. But not for a family of 4 on a budget. We got so sick and tired of hauling dishes back and forth that we rigged up a bucket and spout in the through-hull, so now we just empty the dirty dish water daily and wash our dishes on board with city water.

Low tide in Guaymas at dusk. The travel lift has lowered Rocinante ,but Dan will wait
until the morning before he tries to leave - when he can see and when the tide is higher.
Thankfully, Jim and I got our tetanus shots last year. Yesterday, I stepped on a rusty screw on my way to the bathroom and it went through my shoe and into my foot. My reflexes are pretty good, so I was only pierced partially.

For all my complaining, however, Marina Guaymas is the cheapest boat yard we've run across in Mexico. The staff is super. You can do your own work, which is a huge plus and not many boat yards allow that anymore. They own their travel lift. And although Marina Guaymas isn't in the middle of town like Marina Singlar, the buses run regularly and cost only 5.5 pesos per person.

The tides here in Guaymas are extreme. It is important to know when they are low and when they are high. Luckily, the bottom is muckily - so if you do happen to run aground, no biggie. Just wait for the high tide to float you off.

Rocinante with her rail in the water. Oops!
As of 2012, the cost to haul is $150 each way, so $300 for in and out. That is for any size boat. For our 41' Tartan, it costs $120 per month to store here. If you are living aboard, there is a $5 per day charge. It is $50 to have your hull pressure washed.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Plan

How do I start up again after months of silence? And why so quiet?

I can't explain the frustration of not knowing what to do or where to go. Like rusty robots on low batteries, Jim and I bumped around aimlessly every day trying to figure out what the next step was in our life... and usually we were headed in opposite directions. Where do we go and what is best for the family?? What aren't our options?
Tim & Meredith in La Paz - new owners of 'Windfall', which is now called 'The Luckiest'
With our man-child closer to manhood than the other direction, we feel we need to be in a position so that he can be on his own eventually, earn some money of his own in the meantime and have options of his own so that he can find his own path in life. This has created a huge bump in our cruising plans. More like mountain, really, than a bump. Huge. But we knew it was coming and we want to do the right thing for Tim and for everyone else.
Waking up to Puerto Escondido

Adios Ray and his beloved pressure cooker. He gave an awesome seminar!
And as Tim is growing older, he does what most male children do - he tests his power as a man, his awesome authority, his immense knowledge, his testosterone-bound leadership qualities. So, instead of just having a bossy husband to contend with I am now held captive aboard a boat with two men exerting manliness in the form of 'captain'. Sucks to be me.
You can't beat a good Mexican Trashdog!

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All our energy was put into what to do next. The anxiety was tremendous and nothing "felt" right. To make things even more disgusting, every time we formed a plan of any kind, a wrench... or two... or three... were hurled in our direction causing the type of mayhem similar to frantic chickens running around without heads, creating a bloody mess. There were many tears. At one point I thought that maybe my marriage was over. It was horrible and it lasted for months... this is after spending the worst summer ever in the boiling heat of Mazatlan. If I sound negative I assure you... it felt even worse.
Pig Roast in Puerto Excondido
There were happy times in between, though. We left Mazatlan November 1st and crossed to the Baja. We reunited with friends everywhere we went. Thanksgiving was spent in beautiful Puerto Escondido where the kids met more cruising kids and we reunited with more friends. Eventually we ended up in our all time favorite, Santa Rosalia. When we caught a weather window, we sailed across to the mainland and hauled Hotspur out in Guaymas, Mexico before Christmas. Did I mention that this time of year the northers are howling and the correct direction to sail would be south? And we were headed north?
Carolyne's birthday with Stephen and Skyler on 'Ocean Blue'
We actually had a reason for going the wrong direction, but remember those wrenches I mentioned? Yes, well - more of those were hurled our way. Long story short, we spent a lovely Christmas with Jim's dad in Arizona and then took a road trip across Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. We were trying to determine where we could end up so that Tim can possibly graduate from his final year in high school and we can fill the cruising kitty, which is now barely bare-bones.
Guaymas on the sea

Thankfully, we have a plan - one that every single member on board is excited about!

I will say that we are unloading things off the boat that we won't need in the next 6 months. We will use the car as a temporary storage facility. We are also getting ready to paint the hull with anti-fouling paint... which means that we are putting Hotspur back in the water very soon. (There will be a post about why we are having to re-paint the hull ourselves since we paid to have it done professionally not too long ago AND it is under "warranty".... HA!) And I will tell you that we are going the direction the wind is blowing this time.