Posts Tagged ‘Wenchhandle’

Winding Down


We continued on until we came to Zihuatanejo.  Our approach there wasn’t until sunrise the next morning.  I had just finished my watch when Michael came up on deck and took the wheel.  I told him about the dolphin playing around the boat for the last 4 hours and how they seem to know when they startled me. They kept me awake the last two hours from 2am to 4am.  I also told Michael that the boat had seemed to take on an extra rumbling and vibration sound.  We weren’t able to really look at it until we were in the bay at Zihuatanejo.  It was there that Michael determined the shaft was loose and the motor mounts needed replacing. We were thank full that something worse didn’t happen with that situation while we were offshore, such as taking on water.

Our son Mike was getting “itchy” to get back to the states to get up with his friends that were graduating from high school.   It was decided that with the mechanical problem and it being the start of hurricane season, that we would secure the boat and head back to the states to save some money for the repair and return after hurricane season. Then the  boat would be fixed and continue on.

We stayed in Zihuatanejo another month while we talked with the Port Captain and the locals as to where the best place would be to moor the boat. The Locals recommended putting the mooring close to town, the Port Captain insisted we put it in a remote area between La Roppa Beach and Los Gatos.

We removed the sails and winches and anything else that might attract someone to go aboard. We had an alarm system installed that would go off if the locks were broken and someone entered the boat thru the companion ways or hatches.

It was hot at night.  We put up a screened covering that covered the deck and dropped down on the sides.  Pulled the cushions from down below up on deck and slept under the stars.  It was a wonderful feeling sleeping outside.  We watched the first thunderstorm of the season go thru late one night.  As the rain swept across the mountains and into the city, explosions from the transformers lit up the town in all directions.  It was quite the light show.


Heading Down the Pacific Coast of Mexico


 After waiting 3 days for a weather window we left Chamela, our next stop was La Barra De Navidad. It was 137 nautical miles and it took us overnight to arrive in the afternoon.  La Barra De Navidad has a lagoon where boaters anchor and locals fish.  It was very shallow going in at low tide and we ran aground.  First Mate Mike was sent up forward to “watch” as we went forward.  But he was preoccupied checking out all the boats in the anchorage, scanning for familiar boats that might contain friends from La Paz.

  It wasn’t long before a small boat was headed our way.  In the boat was indeed friends we had met in La Paz from the boat Third Day. They had seen us come up the channel and had come to say hello and lend a hand.  We welcomed them aboard while Mike and Jason went up to the bow and caught up on past events. We adults went back in the wheelhouse out of the sun and passed around “cold ones” while waiting for the tide to rise.

This was probably one of Mikes favorite stops.  His friend Jason was taking surfing lessons the following day and invited Mike to come along.  Mike was able to hang out with J and surf with him a good part of the day. The two of them did great and got a real workout.  The seas were a bit rough and the waves were just right for practicing.

We anchored the boat in the lagoon there and the trip back and forth to shore was a long one.  Coming back  to the boat at night was the most exciting with the brightest phosphorus I had ever seen.  A flashlight wasn’t needed due to the light reflecting off of the transom and the outboard.  The sea life was ever so active jumping and darting in all directions. The outline of sea snakes would come to the surface and move their heads back and forth looking around, while everything was a bright flourescent green.  It was down right eerie.

Our friends from Third Day have a boat made by the same designer as ours, a William Garden.  It was nice to see the two boats anchored together.  We had a nice visit and just wished we had more time to play.

Spring Season


It is July and much has transpired. It looks as tho my last entry featured Bandares Bay on the west side of the mainland of Mexico. We cruised over to the far south end of the Bay to stay the night in Yelappa ( Such a unique place.  Very small fishing village that looks like a picture you’d see of Switzerland.  We were told by locals that we would be helping to support the small village if we paid to use their moorings instead of using our own anchor.  The bottom was close to 100′ deep very close to the beach.  Unfortunately the moorings were very close together and I spent the night “on watch” due to “fending off” with the boats around us.

Yellapa has an interesting history that is worth checking out. The morning we exited the Bay we got an early start so to get around the point at Cabo Correntes before the afternoon winds picked up and made cruising rough.  As we passed the point we spotted as many as nine different whales heading north.  The seas were a bit bouncy but with Michael at the wheel I was able to wrap my arm around a “stay” and hold the camera as steady as possible. One whale in particular took a large leap out of the water far enough away for me to get the shot of a lifetime.  It was one of the most spectacular events I had ever witnessed and I got a picture of it too.

Wind and seas were perfect for a while.  We actually did some sailing.  But as the afternoon wore on the seas picked up and it got a bit rough. Michael was at the wheel and instructed Mike, the First Mate to go forward and take down the sails.

As he turned into the wind, the direction of the seas were on our nose. The boat was heaving up and down in the tall seas with white water crashing across the bow.  He was working on a sheet that had gotten tangled due to the wind and was focused on freeing it up. Holding on with one arm wrapped around the mast while the other hand worked on the knot. I remember vividly the grin on Mikes face as he returned to the wheel house.  He enjoyed the excitement of the energy of the wind and the seas.

Michael was on the wheel way passed his shift.  Somedays we felt like steering longer than our set schedules.  That day was one of them for Michael.  I went below and took advantage of the free time to catch up on some sleep. Around midnight Mike woke me up and told me to go on deck for look out, we were pulling into an anchorage.  Mike had gone up forward with the new night vision scope scanning the area for boats, rocks and beach and was reporting back to Michael at the wheel.  It was pitch black dark. I kept trying to clear my eyes to see but wasn’t having much luck.  The air was cool and the smell of salt was heavy in the air.

As the boat moved forward I could hear a school of fish swimming to get out-of-the-way.  As they swam a large circle of phosphorus lit up their way giving me a little light to see around the boat.  We could hear the surf but it was difficult to determine just how close it was to the beach.  While Michael watched the depth finder he decided to drop the anchor in 30′ of water.  He gave Mike the “go ahead” to drop the anchor and let out the chain slowly as he backed the engine down in reverse.  A tug on the bow with a swing to right was indicative that the anchor had grabbed.

Michael shut off the engine and once again our ears rang with the sound of silence.  We sat on deck awhile to take in our bearings, making sure the anchor didn’t drag and that it was a safe place to stop for the night. Caelin our labrador got in her bed in the wheel house while we went down below and got in our bunks. Being exhausted, Michael went right to sleep.  As usual I lay there for some time listening and re-assuring myself that we were in a safe place to rest.  Caelin was our alarm should anyone or anything come close to the boat.  Unfortunately dolphins and birds were no exception.

When we awoke the next morning we grabbed a cup of coffee and out onto the deck to take in the unfamiliar surroundings.  We were amazed to see that we had crossed over a long span of nets entering the channel the previous night. Our boat doesn’t have a fin keel so luckily we didn’t disturb the nets….that we know of.

Chamela was were we had landed the night before.  It was another gorgeous beach.  The place where we anchored was in the top part of the picture (north end) on the other side of the last island.




“Up and at em” Michael said, early this morning. SURE!  He went to bed a 5:30 last night.  I should have figured this would happen.  For some reason I didn’t get much sleep.  Perhaps a little anxiety about getting “underway”. I got out of bed, fixed my tea and didn’t quite have it finished when Michael gives the word for Mike to pull up the anchor.  Things ran through my mind that I wanted to get done first.

Things like: Put the harness on the dog, Stowe anything that might become a missel. Wash my face and put my hair up. Things that were going to be done “on the fly”.

As Mike pulled up the anchor I was there to assist. Tangled tight around the chain came a fishermans net. Everything came to a hault as Mike put the inflatable dingy back in the water to remove the net with a knife in hand.  He worked maybe 30 minutes on this thing, eventually freeing it up from our chain and then we were off!

It was a beautiful day with light winds.  As the day progressed so did the winds making a nice sail south. We spotted whales all day. While Michael went below to take a nap, I spotted a whale off our port bow.  It was so close all I could say was “wo wo wo”.  It came up and checked out the boat as if to determine who had the right of way.  I was so excited my steering was off 20 degrees in either direction.  Mike had come up top and said “Mom don’t head straight for it.” I knew that.! 🙂  Michael was able to get up on deck with his camera and take a few shots. You can see a shot of the wale on Michaels blog “”.

Thursday night was totally awsome on the water.  There was absolutely no moon and the sky was brilliantly lit up with stars that reflected off of the water.  By 7:30pm Mike was tired and asleep on the lazzerette. His shift was to start at 8pm.   I told him to go to bed and I’d take his shift. The autopilot was on and all I had to do was keep a watch for other boats, rocks and whales of course.  I turned on the tunes listening to Sara McGlaughlin, Stevie Ray Vaughn, some old Eagles and Sting. I sat on the deck and watched the sky for hours.  The milkyway covered a large expanse of the sky for north to south.  Two planets were so bright that I watched each one sink into the western horizon one by one as the colorschanged from a bright white to a reddish orange. On the south  horizon I spotted lights moving in a northerlydirection.

A call on the quiet VHS radio was hailing the sailboat headed southbound.  I knew they were calling us.  The boats name was El Tiburon, another sailboat and they had just left Bandaris Bay and was headed back to La Paz.  They mentioned they had transmission issues and had to get a part/repair in La Cruz and recommended a good mechanic.  We exchanged fairwells and continued on our ways.  I was surprised he could tell what kind of boat I was considering the distance between us.

By 12am I was ready to sleep.  I woke up Mike and he was ready to go.  Hopped out of bed and on deck within minutes. He did the 12-4am shift. Michael did 4-6 as I appeared on deck once again and told him to get some sleep.  Each time we saw boats or had a question, we would wake him to check it out. (As per his request.) So he didn’t get much sleep.

All day Friday was truely a dream.  The wind was gradual and the sun was warmer than what we experienced in Mazatlan.  I took the oportunity to sunbathe most of the day while the guys worked the sails and kept the boat moving south.

At 6pm we arrived at the outside channel marker of Bandaris Bay.  Michael navigated in the dark, the boat all the way to the anchorage at Punta De Mita.  We all were asleep by 9:30pm.  Woke up this morning around 6am to look around and see what this place looked like in the daylight. Wow! Absolutely breath taking.  Tall, tall mountains surrounding a huge bay with white sandy beaches and rock cliffs.  Mexico still takes my breath away.

By 7:30 Am  the VHF Radio Channel 22 broadcasts. Local cruisers report who’s in the area along with local weather and tides.  We laughed as we recognized many boats from La Paz over 300 nautical miles away visting the area.  In the cruising community it is a small world.

Wednesday/Hump Day


Would you believe that we finally did the climb to the top of Cerro Creston, to the lighthouse. We climbed 515 Feet straight up to the top.   We saw beautiful views of the City of Mazatlan, the stretch of the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains and plenty of wild life.  We saw iguannas running rampid, birds of beautiful colors such as bright orange with black stripes across their wings and others that were aqua blue-green.  There were at least 4 different Friget birds riding the air currents.

The first quarter of the way, it was a dirt road which quickly turned to steps that zig zagged to the hill top. Steps of many shapes and sizes.  I think when they built them they told the general public when they’d be pouring the concrete because many of the steps have peoples names and initials written in them.  My favorite was a heart with initials in the middle and flames coming out of the top.

Michaels pace was quicker than my own and we stopped maybe 4 times for a look around and to slow down our hearts a little.  Our plan was to climb to the lighthouse then come back down and walk 6 blocks to the Tienda/Store for groceries. Needless to say we didn’t have the energy to do so.  We ended up going back to the boat and picking up Mike and then headed over to Bengi’s Restaurante for some of the best breaded shrimp we’d ever eaten.

We got back to the boat around 4pm.  Now it is 5:30 and Michael has layed down for the night. All in all, not a bad day for a Wednesday.

Last Few Days of the Year



Wednesday -Dec. 21, 2011
It’s the time of year where people get stressed and anxious, especially those who don’t have much in the world.  I think the holiday season is only a reminder. People say to be extra vigilant and watch your wallets.

We were approached today by a man .  He asked me for “Mike” as I walked passed him at the Cruisers Club morning coffee. He told me that he did work on my boat during the past summer and demanded that he get paid for it.  Said we owed him $5,000 pesos ($373).  Our boat was left in the care of a man
that had done much work for us over the previous year.  We were surprised to hear that he might have hired someone to work on our boat and not pay him, or tell us about it.  We told the man, Rafael, that we would have to talk with our man first.  He seemed ok with that.

Everything is coming together for us to depart from this place soon and the news that we might have to pay this individual this amount of money would keep us here another month. We weren’t very happy about the situation.

Thursday – December 22, 2011
Weather report states that a Nor-Easter is about to blow hard Friday thru Sunday.  Our engine was taken apart to get to the thermostat.  Sitting on the anchor out in the anchorage makes it an uneasy feeling not being able to start the motor should we need to during the blow. 

Our mechanic friend came out to the boat today to button the engine back up until our part arrives.  We tell him about our encounter with Rafael. 

Our mechanics reaction went from puzzled to surprised, to upset to really upset.  He began begging me to not pay this man.  “Por favor Ms. Shannon, Por favor Ms. Shannon, Por favor Ms. Shannon.”.

 He was standing in the wheel house where Michael was working doing some carpentry.  He backed up and sat right on top of the boxes of screws and fasteners.  His eyes filled with tears as he shook his head back and forth in disbelief.  He reminded us of a time in this past year
when some of the “locals” were jealous that he had work.  He said people were trying to cause problems for him.  He is a hard worker and is willing to go beyond the “call of duty” to get things accomplished. His belief is “If you don’t want to pay me for the work I’ve done, then don’t pay me.” Unfortunately, a occassional boater has stiffed him. 

Since we are the foreigners here, our espanol is very limited.  Our mechanic speaks very good english but sometimes things get lost in translation.  We assured him that we wouldn’t do anything without speaking to him first and that we were amigos (friends).

  Before he left the boat he said he was going to pay Rafael a visit and ask him ” what side do you want the blow on?”.    Our mechanic is an x-boxer, don’t think I would want to make him mad.

By the way, today I was determined to try out the pressure cooker pot I bought a year ago. Was anxious about using it since they had a reputation for exploding.  But since we’ve been on the boat I have read how cooking with these pots saves fuel, less cooking time. 

 So I had a cold beer, followed the directions and cooked beans for chili.  It went really well. The more I use this pressure cooker, the more at ease I will be. 

Friday 12-23-11

3AM I am awake.  The wind has clocked around and is gusting hard out of the north.  My son walks into our cabin and asks for the Excedrin.  He went to bed with a migraine that didn’t go away as he expected.  I do a few rounds of hot and cold compresses to help him relax.  It’s 5 am now.
I think he got back to sleep.

 The seas are rocking and rolling as the brass lamp above the galley table swings back and forth. Thought that would bother me but I hardly notice it any more.  The sound of the anchor chain rubbing on the anchor base vibrates the boat each time it comes in contact.  The water hitting
the side of the boat is relaxing but the motion of the boat twisting from side to side makes me unsteady when I’m getting around the boat.  Better get use to that too.  We are in it for at least 3 days this time. Not sure we will be able to go ashore to celebrate the holiday with friends. It’s a “wait and see”.

At Anchor


We’ve been sitting on the anchor now for about 3 weeks. It has been great. When ever we need something from the store we take the dingy to shore. The ride is about 10 minutes depending on who’s driving. It’s it little Mike it’s a 3 minute trip and if it’s Michael (Dad) it’s about 10 minutes. Fast trips to shore with Mike have been fun and painful. He pulled the dingy up to the boat last week and touched the trottle just as I had started to reach for the rubrail of the sailboat. The dingy lunged forward and I slipped off the seat and onto the floor at Mikes feet in a flash, landing on my backside. Mike got to laughing so hard that the words “I’m so sorry Mom” were almost unrecognizable. It was funny.

For the past two weeks Michael has been working on the watermaker to try to get the system to produce water under 600 ppm (parts per million) It was producing water for awhile under 400 ppm. Then the system picked up some oil or debris and it hasn’t worked right since. He thought since we were anchored in an area where there is a consistant tide and current that debri such as oil would’nt be an issue, but it was. So Mike has been hauling water jugs to the boat for washing up and drinking.

 The nearby marina sells showers at 15 pesos each, which has been nice. There is a sign in the showers that asks people to keep their hot water showers down to 5 minutes. It states that some people in La Paz only get water 3 times a week and it’s at night. After reading that I stopped feeling sorry for myself and very thankful for that 5 minute shower. Due to the watermaker issue, we haven’t been out sailing. Hopefully today Michael will remedy the problem and we can be “up and running” again.

 Our refrigerator and freezer quit working last week. I had to throw out several pounds of ground beef and chicken. We are now using blocks of ice that we buy from shore to keep our drinks and foods cold. Luckily I can start the generator to vacuum out the water once the ice melts. The freezer needs a drain plug so that we can drain it into the bilge.

 Other than the on going rewiring of the electrical system, everything else is working fine. It wasn’t until the other day when I was working on our budget did I realize that for the month of May we have been almost totally self sufficient. If we didn’t need water and ice from shore, we would be totally self sufficient. That is a nice thought!

A Change in Weather


Wow! Some repreve from the sun. For the past two months the weather has been absolutely hell.Every day over 100 degrees. The sun would come out to a full flame broil at 8 AM until 7PM. The crew has been way past crabby. We’ve only had small “windows” to work on the boat to get it ready for the trip back to the states. That window is usually 7AM-11AM and 7:30PM to 9PM. Those times are even variable due to the heat. Most thankfully we have a tropical depression in the area which has brought clouds. The “Flame” has been subdued. Two days now we have had a break from the full broil. A warning was put out over the VHF radio for tropical storm warning, rain and winds possibly 30-40 knotts. After spending time on the Outer Banks living aboard, these conditions were a typical north-easter. Something I would gladly endure  these days.

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