Tuesday 3 December 2013

Introducing Benjamin George Shaw

After a graceful and natural labour, Benjamin George Shaw was born to a water birth at Doctora Tony's Birth House in Puerto Vallarata.  He was born at 0515 on 3 December 2013.  He weighed 8 pounds 13 ounces and was 20 inches long.

Mum and baby are doing well.  We will spend another night here in Puerto Vallarta and then likely move back into the rented condo in La Cruz tomorrow.

With our amazing doctor

Lots of care from his big sister

Now a big brother !

Healthy mum and baby

Sunday 1 December 2013

Still Waiting

We thought baby things might be happening last Monday so we forward deployed to the Birth House in Puerto Vallarta.   No baby yet so thanks to Doctora Vargas we can continue to stay at the Birth House and we continue our Puerto Vallarta holiday.

The Entrance to the Birth House Where We Are Staying

Victoria has been busy making a blanket for baby with the sewing machine.  It is full of batting so it should be soft for baby.

Walks on the beach to see how the tourists live:

Puerto Vallarta near the Cruise Ship Terminal

How the Tourists Live.
Practicing Our Tourist Skills

Always Something Interesting on the Malecon
More Malecon Art

Note the Name on the Gift Tag
Still odd to enter the Christmas season in the heat.

We prefer to see dolphins in the water but this is a cool statue.

It takes us a long time to walk anywhere in Mexico as every lady - young and old - need to come out and touch the belly !

And of course, we need to eat and being temporarily in Puerto Vallarta means lots of inexpensive but tasty meals:

Huevos con Chorizo for breakfast

Road Trip to Bucerias (Actually a village close to La Cruz that we pass on the bus but never stop at)

The juices and smoothies are amazing.  This is our regular breakfast spot.
We were watching the ladies making tortillas and they ushered Victoria in for a free sample.

Tortilla Shop
You can buy your morning juice and your pinata all at the same time

Despite being in Puerto Vallarata, we still have been trekking back to La Cruz regularly for the kid's karate and aerial silks as well the Thanksgiving Party at Philos Restaurant.
Yet again, the view from the condo.

The condo looking in from the picture window

The Octopus's Garden:  A source of neat Huicol art and where the kids take Karate and Aerial Silks

More views from the Condo - and, of course, Liz.
 Thanksgiving Party at Philos with the crews of Rebel Heart, Alcyone and Kenta Anae.  Allyson and Cyndia from Kenta Anae and Alcyone were instrumental in decorating the Birth House in PV for us and generally taking good care of Liz.

Kids posing with baby Lyra from Rebel Heart.

Crazy ladies on the dance floor.  I didn't get any pictures from Liz and Cyndi doing Zumba later that night.

Sunday 24 November 2013

Waiting For Baby

And so we wait.  Liz's "official" due date is in three days so baby could show up any time.  So, we wait, but waiting at La Cruz de Huanacaxtle is no hardship.

The kids have been doing aerial silks twice a week and Johnathan has been doing karate (in Spanish) three times a week since they came down to La Cruz.  Plus they have their friends from last season as well as a new one to play with.

Aerial Silks - Victoria and Matero

Victoria doing Aerial Silks
More Silks
More Silks

Playing with Their Friends in the Square

A Busy Local Beach (Can you see Victoria ?)
This beach is more of a hike but nicer

And of course, shopping is more interesting when it is the local weekly market.  Photos below:

Liz at the Market

The Market and some Pangas

More Market and the Beach

We have taking the collectivo bus (and, with much thanks sometimes been getting a ride with Allison from Kenta Anae in their cool van) for the regular visits to the birth center and various medical appointments.  Each of those trips is usually an adventure in itself.

Doctora Victoria

And, of course, despite protests to the contrary home schooling continues ...No photos ...

We have rented a car to ensure we can get the Birth Center when the time comes, learning from Chartlotte and Eric's (aka SV Rebel Heart) experience last year when their taxi got stuck (all the details in their excellent blog - a must read). 

So, now that we have a car and time, we went to Sayulita for a bit of a road trip today.  We took the slow road via Punta de Mita and then had a great afternoon on the beach.  The kids and I played in the waves and tried to body surf while Liz supervised from ashore.  Next time we bring or rent boards!  Liz also noticed a Mexican lady with a child in a rebozo  (a first sighting for us despite it being a traditional Mexican way of carrying a baby).  Liz managed the conversation all in Spanish and we have now bought a rebozo for baby.

The Rebozo
Our accommodation here in La Cruz is no hardship either.  We are in a relatively simple but spacious condo with an amazing view over Bandaras Bay.  A minor detail is that it is about 150 steps up from the main road on some classic Mexican steps.  Some my favourite parts are the bricks cemented to the bedrock and the missing handrail with a potentially fatal drop.  Luckily once you get past those crux moves, then any fall will be impeded by the rusty rebar (yes, our tetanus shots are up to date).  This is the same place the Rebel Heart rented last year. Of course, Rebel Heart has a great description and photos of the climb - "149 Steps to Inducing Labour".

Mind the Gap.  At Least the First Section has Handrails

Then the excellent steps

From there, the Safety Rebar will stop your fall to the restaurant below
Whew, only a few more steps to go

Worth it when you get there - The View from the Condo
One of the inhabitants of the condo.  We need some for the boat !

While I can't work on the boat since Fluenta is still in Mazatlan, I have still been doing some boat stuff figuring out some logistics, looking up charts, reviewing the celestial course I took awhile ago and teaching myself how to make soft shackles (pretty easy actually).

That's all for now.  The bags are packed, the car is rented, Liz has had her lady's day with Allison and Cyndi so we are "spring loaded in the go position".


Wednesday 20 November 2013

Mazatlan Maintenance Period

After a great summer in Canada it was time to head back to Mexico to continue cruising.  We flew from Victoria to Phoenix.  Importing things into Mexico can be a challenge but luckily friends of ours on SV Sweet Dreams connected us with their friends in Phoenix who let us ship matériel to their house.  We had a hectic day in Phoenix doing last minute shopping and collecting our items from the house and then spent the night trying to repack everything for the bus.  The next next day we took the overnight Tufesa bus to Mazatlan.  Clearing customs in Mexico can be interesting but luckily the paperwork we had from the Mazatlan Harbourmaster was sufficient to allow us through without hassle.  We had a lot of stuff: it took three taxis to get us from the bus station to the marina.

The hotel room in Phoenix before we repacked.

Arrival at Marina Mazatlan

We spent a week living in Fluenta in Marina Mazatlan preparing the boat for the maintenance period in the yard.   Of course, the other important task was celebrating Johnathan's eighth birthday.  We went to Mazagua - the local waterpark.  Great fun and we were pretty much the only non-Mexicans there.  As with much of life in Mexico you are responsible for your own risk management - no nanny state here.  The rides at the water park were fun but required a bit of judgment.

Opening Brithday Gifts

Johnathan on the Zipline (He needed a chair and help to get on the line)

Haulouts are never fun, but the yard ended up delaying our haulout until it was nice and windy and sent only one line handler who set himself up on the leeward side of the boat, which really made things interesting.  Funny on how pushing on a rope never really works out well.  End result we bent over a stanchion as the wind blew us sideways into the wall.  All fixable and no one got hurt but not a great start.
Going Up !

In the slings still

Fluenta was in the yard for two weeks while we had the bottom sanded and painted, the shaft pulled and trued, new cutlass bearings installed, the rudder dropped and checked (and dropped again - long story), sea cocks serviced or replaced, new exhaust tailpipe installed and more.  The expensive bottom painting job we had done in Anacortes did not fair well at all, so we had it sanded off and some toxic local bottom paint applied.  We also increased the pitch on our Maxprop to ease the load on the engine a bit.
Expensive Bottom Paint from Anacortes

Living in a yard is not fun at the best of times but with all the toxic dust and heat (at one point it was 35C and 70% humid in the cabin) we thought it better to get a local hotel.  The Mar Sol Bungalow was great - very inexpensive and the family who runs the place took great care of Liz and the kids.

The kids and I took Sunday off and played tourists at the Mazatlan Aquarium.  Again we were the only non-Mexicans there.  The kids got to participate with some of the animals including the racoon and the Sea Lion.

Once we got Fluenta relaunched and safely tied up at the Fonatur Marina, we rented a car and drove the seven to eight hours to La Cruz where we have a condo rented for awhile.  After helping Liz and the kids get settled in, I then drove back to Mazatlan.  It is a beautiful drive - on the way to La Cruz we went through San Blas and then on the way back I took the mountain and jungle road up to Tepic before getting onto the toll rodes.  Driving in Mexico is never boring ...

I then moved back on the boat and continued working.  Not many pictures from this period as I didn't have the camera.   Also had a bit of a delay as I returned to the boat just in time to prepare for Tropical Storm Sonia.  No major drama but pretty wet and windy.

Ever since we have had Fluenta we have had overheat issues on start if we did not let the engine warm up for a very long time.  Working with Total Yacht Works we may have finally solved the problem.  A new thermostat was installed but this time with a 1/16" hole.  As we already had access and as I had a new spare Perkins coolant pump on hand we also installed the new pump. 

The other outstanding issue was the shaft alignment.  This "simple" project ended up being a tad more involved as we needed to lift the engine to replace the forward two engine mounts.  To gain access we had to remove one of the altenators and cut away one of the bilge hoses.  Very much smoother now.

We had also hired a Canadian expat carpenter, Scott, to put some veneers over the bulkheads I repaired last year and to build us two new deck boxes.  He did an amazing job and to save money he let us do the donkey work of epoxying and painting the deck boxes and varnishing the veneers.  I totally underestimated how long it would take me to epoxy(three coats), sand (forever), prime (with nasty two part paint) and paint (three coats) let alone install the hardware and mount the boxes.  They are however finally installed.  Photos to follow.

After only having a bucket available on the boat for the last few weeks, the head is also functional - and not leaking - again.  Other plumbing included rebuilding the corroded manual bilge pump (whose great idea was it to build a salt water pump out of aluminum ?) and replacing the hoses for the electric and the engine driven bilge pump.

Other projects completed  included:

- Aft fuel tank level gauge - pretty cool ultrasonic sensor so I didn't have to drill any holes in the tank
- AIS - new GPS antenna
- Change Fuel Line lever - no more diesel seeping out
- Clean bilge - it looked like a marsh after the summer
- Corroded T fittings - replaced the last of the original stainless steel fitting
- Engine blower ducting fastened in place more securely
- Fixed and rerouted SSB wiring
- Grey water tank float replaced
- Leaking water manifold replaced
- Lubricated steering cable and sheeves
- New rudder stop
- Paint touchup
- Re spliced lifelines 
- Rebedded pad eye and stanchion base
- Rebedded slider for cockpit hatch
- Reseize and seize shackles throughout
- Retapped the Deck Tie system
- Scheduled maintenance - battery water, engine zincs,  vented loops x 4
- Tapped in new bolts for the steering binnacle
- Touched up engine paint
- Varnish Trickle's wood (the Fatty Knees sailing dingy)
- Vents for the battery box

Whew ... rather a long winded post ...