30 January 2006

Still Here…..

Well, as predicted we are still here in Puerta Vallarta, as we were supposed to have left on the 16th of January. Amy, Sandpiper, and I decided to get some work finished as not much got done while we were pool side having cocktails and swimming all day

While coming down the coast, we broke one of the motor mount bolts on the engine. Then when we arrived at Paradise Village, we broke another one.

Editor's comment: This is huge, since this is what gets us around, and what attaches the engine to the boat

I think the cause was a problem of the zincs not staying on the shaft where they are supposed to be. This is due to the way the boat was constructed. We decided to haul out at the boat yard at Puerto Vallarta, 3 miles from where we moored at Paradise Village.

We had been at the dock so long that we had lots of new marine critters that had decided to live on the propeller. Making our way to the yard took a lot longer than we had planned. We could only motor at 3 knots, and even had to put up a sail to get there.

Editor's comment: Some of you may like to know that we had to get up at 7:00am that day. And we actually had to set an alarm. It was also 56 degrees that morning, so the sweatshirts were busted out.

We were picked up by a huge boatlift. It was brand-new and the only one like it in Mexico. It is driven by remote control. The operator just walked around with the controls strapped to his waist, dropping Sandpiper on hard ground for 2 days.

Editor's note: Ya, great new lift! It only took them 2 hours to get the boat on the stands. As soon as we showed up they took a break. In The States, it costs more, but it gets done a lot quicker.

Also, in The States, we have a great organization know as OSHA. Some of you may have heard of it. Well, they could use a little work safety down here. We had to climb a “ladder” to get up and down the boat. I’m not sure if you would even call it a ladder in The States. Needless to say, I was on it only twice. Once to go to bed, and once to come down to do more work. While up 30 feet in the air, if a car drove by, we could feel the whole boat shake! A little nerve racking! I had Tom fix up a pulley system for me so anything that was needed could come up or down via a bag.

We got the hull waxed, as the labor rates here are pretty low compared to the Bay Area. Amy cleaned every living critter off the hull and propeller. We installed a brand-new zinc plate on the outside of the hull, which is attached to the shaft. My mom had brought it down with her on her visit. Everyone that visited us got to bring us all kinds of new boat parts, as finding anything here is an all day affair!!!

Editor note; thanks to all for smuggling in our boat parts.

We decided to stay at the marina in Puerta Vallarta one more day after we got dropped back in the water. The restaurant at the boat yard was having a grand opening with free food and drinks. They had asked us to drop in. So, not wanting to miss any free cocktails, we stayed all night with my old boat neighbor Tom, from Oakland, who was back in town from a trip to El Salvador.

We are now moored at the pilings in the middle of the harbor at Marina Nuevo Vallarta waiting on the canvas shop here. They are making a cockpit Bimini top with a stainless steel frame. The rates here are half of what we would have paid in the Bay Area for the same work.

We are also doing a lot of other projects while we have the time. So Sandpiper should be looking and running great once we get out of here.

You are probably asking “Why are they doing so much work there and why not put it off a little longer?” Well… we have finally made a decision on where we are going next. We thought about going back up north and spending the hurricane season in the Sea of Cortez, which is supposed to be some of the greatest cruising grounds on the Pacific Coast. But we did not want to sit at anchor for 8 months in the summer heat. Plus, we wanted to do some actual sailing, not motoring.

Our original plan was to go to Panama and then head over to the Caribbean. But all that is off the planning board!!! Drum roll please!

We have decided that we are going to sail to the South Pacific from the coast of Mexico sometime in March 2006, depending on the weather.

Editor note: Yes, we have lost our marbles. This is a 21 days sea voyage, at least!

We have been meeting with about 10 other boats that are planning on this as well who are leaving around the same time. There is tons of planning to do. We are trying to get together the charts that we are going to need, trying to see what the requirements for all the countries we will be passing through (visas, currency, shots), and making sure that we have everything on board before we leave. Finding boat parts out there will be impossible.

We are going to head south from here and sail down the Mexican Gold Coast, stopping as much as possible at small anchorages along the way. We plan on spending time in Ixtapa, and leaving from Zihuatanejo.

We are not really sure what our destination is going to be. Most likely we are going to spend time in Australia, then make another plan.

Editor note: For those looking at a map, our first stop in the Pacific will be the Marquises Islands. We have about 6 months until Australia. Anyone want to visit us in Fiji or Tahiti?

Also, some of the other happenings here. The USCGC Morgenthau stopped in for a few days on one of their patrols. For those reading this that don’t know about this ship, that is the ship I just retired off of in San Francisco in July last year!! It was cool that they stopped while we were here. We got to see friends on the ship, and even got invited out for dinner with the Captain, Chief’s Mess, and Officers. The ship had a charter bus that took us all out to dinner. A lot of people were surprised to see us there.

Editor note: The USCG crew called Tom a hippie with his long hair.

Ok, so this is the longest entry I have written. But so much has happened since we have been here. A lot of our friends are along the Mexican Coast, and we are hoping to catch up to them.

Keep in touch,
Cap’n Tom & First Mate Amy

Written by; Tom Larson
Editor; Amy Larson

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