Sunday, November 3, 2013

Last one via this site!!

Editor's note:  
amazingly, the post below from May, 2012 was still sitting in my "draft" folder today, November 3, 2013.  I decided to post it anyway, as a bit of history and to let you know we are alive and well - just not aboard in Mexico at the moment. Including videos and photos has been a constant source of extreme pain for me from the start of this blog, so I will be consulting with our very experienced blogging friend, Steve Yoder, about moving to WordPress, his chosen application.  Words alone are not that entertaining and I don't think the video below is actually going to appear - sorry to disappoint today, but watch for future posts where I hope there WILL be videos and photos to make our shared travels more interesting for you, our faithful readers. k
We know you will all be simply amazed after a three-month hiatus from our blog to realize we are "underway" once again!  We left the beautiful Bahia de La Paz (Bay of La Paz) this morning at 11 am, intending to drop anchor tonight on the NW corner of the first island north out of the bay - Isla Espiritu Santo.  Our ultimate destination, after cruising northward along the east coast of the Baja peninsula as far up as Santa Rosalia, will be a crossing to the Mexican mainland to the port of San Carlos, where most sailors choose to leave their boats for the hurricane season if they are heading elsewhere.  

The boatyard there will haul our beloved "Chamisa" out of the water and up onto stands for the summer while we fly up to Kristen and Brian's in Alameda to play "super grandparents" for several months.  It was a huge surprise from them to plan their baby Wyatt's birth (due in June) to coincide with our need to escape the heat of a Mexican summer our first time around...wonderful kids, don't you agree?

While sitting at anchor in La Paz, we dealt with several bits of administrivia back in the States via the internet (thank God for that!):  changing health insurance and prescriptions after running out of Cal Cobra coverage, consolidating multiple investment accounts under the capable management of my cousin-in-law, a broker with RBC; and, finally, changing our address with many sources of "hard mail" to SBI (St. Brendan's Isle, a fabulous mail service which provides so well for travelers). I have a surprise for you faithful reader!  Today I made some extremely amateur but hopefully entertaining videos of our departure.  If these are too wobbly for your vision, just listen to the terribly brilliant, informative and professional narratives by yours truly...ok?  I promise to work out better techniques - such as knowing what to say in advance, keeping my fingers away from the lens, and any other improvements you may wish to suggest;  of course, please be gentle! 

I have no idea how often we'll be able to access the internet, so this may be it until we are in California in July. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Livin' the Sweet expressed by Steve Yoder!

Keith and I are extremely happy with our cruising adventure, even though the "cruising" part is slower and less frequent than we originally dreamed and the "hanging about" in ports is way more the norm.  Sharing what this life is like was an idea I've been mulling over for the past few weeks - how to write it up and convey the excitement of a fairly relaxed and very peaceful existence.

Today I find that our dear friend, Steve Yoder, currently hanging about in Mazatlan to the east of us on the mainland, has written it for me!  Just substitute our names throughout and you have it.  Well, ok - substitute for everything except for Lulu's  beautiful micro-macrame!

My "thing" seems to be cooking and if you want some ideas about simple meals on board or good reads, let me know.  Otherwise, here's what our life is like and why we love it:
Yoders Afloat: 2/10/2010 - Livin' the life

Acrobats on a Boat? You must be kidding!

No, actually we are not kidding!

A young, athletic and very talented French couple is earning their way around the world on their small boat  with their two young daughters by performing amazing acrobatic skits on the deck of their sailboat.  The free-will offerings are split with local charities - a smart strategy which, of course, means translates to more pesos generously dropped into the "tin cans".

The couple tied their snug yellow boat "sideways", securing with her with lines to the dock and several other boats next to the small patio at Marina de La Paz, a cruisers' hangout for coffee and chat, and peformed two skits for a large crowd of cruisers and a handful of locals, too.
Pre-show:  Do you see their daughters clowning around mid-ships?
We attended the early comedy skit as we are not fond of returning to "Chamisa" after dark, even though it's an easy dinghy ride of about ten minutes. (The late performance was "romantic" and something we should have stayed to watch, too, after hearing from others who did.) The performance was a delighful pantomimed comedy reminiscent of early Hollywood antics of those from the era of Laurel & Hardy/Buster Keaton/Keystone Cops.  It was the story of a sailing couple trying to leave the dock and nearly drowning each other many times throughout the process.

They were decked out in matching yellow nylon jackets/white bell bottom sailor pants and began by leaving the dock in their dinghy, then climbing aboard and prepping to sail away.  Their crazy stunts as they pulled/pushed and nearly drowned each other while running up and down the deck, swinging crazily everywhere from the rails, lines, sails and mast were just amazing and drew huge laughs, startled "ooh's/aah's" and much applause throughout the skit.
Opposing ideas about where to start!
Saved from certain death by a "hair"!
Finally the couple manages to get things nearly set up to sail away, with raising these beautiful translucent sails - just props, don't worry as these would never really work - and she manages to do perform some graceful "high-flying" ballet reminiscent of the best acts in any circus, ballet or "Cirque du Soleil" performance anywhere!
Oops..she is saved once again as he grabs her "line"!
She prepares to spin herself gracefully into the grand finale!
Hope you enjoy the photos we took above.  Oddly, the last one is a near-duplicate of a photo from their performance last fall in San Francisco which is online in "Latitude 38", the sailing magazine from San Diego.  If you are interested in more information about the couple and a link to their website with upcoming performances as they sail onward, try this link:

Remember when I mentioned above that we are not fond of returning in the dark to "Chamisa"?  Well, here's the main reason shown below - when back aboard, we have a superb view of the magnificent sunsets!  We love having a leisurely "sundowner" (sometimes iced tea, and sometimes a gin/tonic) together watching Mother Nature at her best.  After the sun sets, the afterglow disappears and the anchorage lights appear, we wage a "Hillbilly Rummy" tournament to determine who really pays attention to the discard pile.  Some nights we read to appreciate the quiet, and other nights we watch one of our well-worn DVDs. Most of all, we reflect on how lucky we are to be here.  Who would have thought this would happen to either of us, growing up in the Midwest where sailing was not the most obvious choice for a retirement adventure?

The next excitement coming our way is the week-long celebration that marks the beginning of Lent -  "Carnaval"!  Starting this Thursday evening along the waterfront we will witness the local "mini Mardi Gras", complete with parades, free outdoor musical concerts by major Latino artists, street vendors selling everything - food, clothes, toys, CDs - you name it!  Also, there are many theatrical performances, art gallery showings and other special attractions scheduled daily throughout the city, so we plan to take in at least a few of these to share with you.

If we are fortunate, we also hope to log a few hours of decent sleep each night with moving to a different spot in the anchorage (we like our neighbors here), but that will be a challenge.  The tourists and locals already party on weekends (and even some week-nights) into the wee, wee hours without the added attractions of "Carnaval"!  Earplugs, anyone?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Chamisa "Below Decks"...What's Down There, Anyway?

If you have never been on a sailboat, this blog is for you.  If you own, or dream of owning, a Westsail, maybe you will get some ideas.  On the other hand, if you are already sailing, you may want to skip this one!

Below are photos to show you what "Chamisa" looks like below decks – and, yes, when underway, everything has to be stowed, so obviously these were all taken while at a dock.  The previous (and only other) owners, Hans and Doris Pieper, spent over twenty years building out the interior.  However, Hans was disappointed because the final product was not “nautical-looking” in his words – a common problem for home boat-builders.  Thus, he hired a young Boatwright in Ventura to re-do whatever they decided together should be replaced.  The lone “survivors” were the two armchairs and the dinette benches, and the happy result is that we have a beautiful interior composed of many different woods – teak, mahogany, and ash to name a few which is a beautiful work of a talented craftsman.  And, luckily, we found another talented Boatwright in Long Beach who honored the "look" when he did some revisions for us as explained below.

This tour takes you from the bow (front) of the boat to the stern (back) – we hope you enjoy it.

In the forepeak (which is in the front end or bow), there is a large chain locker behind the louvered doors you see just above the head (toilet).  This is where the anchor chain lives when not on the bottom of the ocean, along with various cleaning supplies and other odds'n'ends.  The head can also refer to the entire bathroom on a boat – we are fortunate to have a hot water shower, a toilet and a sink with plenty of lockers to hold the usual supplies. 
Head (Bathroom) - hot showers behind the door.
The head includes the usual toilet, sink and happily, a shower, too.  The curtain and shower head are hiding behind the door (not visible, but just behind the wall heater).  Forward of the toilet is a huge locker where the anchor chain rests when not in use, along with large plastic bins of supplies.  Just wish there had been room, power and a water supply big enough to house a washer and dryer!  That's the only thing I really miss about not having a's back to re-living college dorm life when we drag laundry ashore.  When we are in remote anchorages, we can use a small hand-crank washer and an electric spin-dryer, then hang laundry in the cockpit for that wonderful fresh-air smell on the sheets and towels.

Aft off the head, is the salon (traditionally called “saloon”) which is our living room.  We have double bunks on the starboard side (right as your face forward) that convert to a sofa....something we rarely bother doing as the upper bunk is a perfect “catch-all” for projects, including the inventory of new provisions – more on that at the end of this post. 
Bunks - Great for company, reading, naps or movies.

On the port side (left as you face forward), there are two armchairs – my favorite reading corner as these are very comfortable being "midship", and not the usual salon furniture on a sailboat.  Surrounding those, under the bunks and under the sole (floor) are numerous lockers and cubbies (the difference being doors - cubbies are open – note the fishnet we added to hold the contents inside the cubbies) where we store all the provisions, books, games, sewing supplies, CDs, DVDs, boat manuals and other goodies needed to sustain life aboard.
Super-comfortable armchairs storage all around.
Aft of the salon are the galley (kitchen) and the dinette where we spend a lot of waking hours because the dinette table also doubles are our nav station.  The SSB radio, a “baby” Garmin chartplotter (display of charts or maps of where we are and routes to where we are headed) and our laptops are all stored and used there.  The full-size Garmin chartplotter is on the bridge deck (the flat shelf-type space on each side of the companionway) out in the cockpit.  It’s a nice luxury to have the little one inside which has all the same functionality needed for planning trips, checking to ensure we are not dragging our anchor and for looking at the radar views of what is around us.  
Galley (kitchen) for one, or two if you know 'the dance' to make it work!
 The galley has a double sink on the mid-line (to keep water from spilling out when "Chamisa" heels underway), a two-burner propane stove/oven/broiler, a reefer (refrigerator), a small Engels freezer, a microwave, and storage for dishes, cooking and more cleaning supplies.

Dinette with benches on either side - like an RV.
The dinette seats two comfortably or four very close friends for dinner.  Again, more storage all around plus three big ports next to it and above the stove make it easy to watch what is going on in the "neighborhood".

Next is the aft cabin where we sleep, reached by ducking through a passageway which used to be the nav station, but we converted it to a deep locker to hold our folding bikes and other large items.  In the aft cabin, we converted from a v-berth (two bunks meeting at the foot) to a regular double bed which means we can use standard size linens - a major convenience and savings.  The cabin houses a small sink, several clothes lockers and a non-working toilet which we want to convert to a composting toilet. 
Aft Cabin - we had the original v-berths converted to hold a double Tempurpedic mattress - aaah!
The last stop is the engine room – probably Keith’s favorite spot on the boat as I rarely enter there!  The engine room and deep locker are next to each other on either side of the small passageway from the galley to the aft cabin, and they provide an excellent sound buffer between the sleeping and living area.

The engine is a Perkins 4-154, 62 hp that we are happy to say is very reliable and ensures we can move at the average snail’s pace of 6-8 knots/hr (approximately the same in mph!) so now you know why we have plans to be on the ocean for a number of years.  Keith upgraded the battery bank with four new ones totaling 630 amp hrs with a battery monitor so we know when to recharge by running the engine.  The original solar panels mounted outside do provide a small boost if the sun is cooperative, but with all the technology improvements, those are on the “someday” list for an upgrade, too.

We take the time to update our inventory when we do a major re-provisioning. This means updating the list of the boat’s contents and their location in Excel.   Yep, it’s not the best software choice, but how many of us know how to use Access or, after retiring, want to buy a less robust database application such as FileMaker Pro?  We'd rather have a few more beef tacos, another Corona or another gallon of gas for the dinghy!  Here’s what it looks like when we first bring all the new goodies aboard.

This takes patience to sort, log and then store, but in the middle of the ocean, we are glad to have it all!
So that’s the tour...we hope you can better envision the space below decks now.  Ya'll come on aboard for a visit anytime, you heah?