Tuesday 29 April 2014

Fluenta PPJ - A week into our passage

We are well into the trade winds now. We scoot along at about 6-7.5 knots most days, sometimes with full sails, sometimes with reefs (glad the furlboom / vang setup is working better than last year!). We have played with various sail configurations including running wing-on-wing and broad reaching with the foresail "poled out" with our spinnaker pole - this seems to give the steadiest ride. With a preventer on the main and the pole on the genoa, the rig is solid despite the swell, so at least we are not getting a lot of "slatting" and noise from the sails.

It took me a few days to get my sea legs (ok, understatement - for days 2-4 of the trip, I was pretty much flat with seasickness. The antidote seemed to be time (lots of time), sleep, Gravol, a mix of homeopathic remedies, and TLC from Nancy, Max, and the kids. I didn't find that the one-earplug solution worked this time), but we are all well now, and getting more and more into a routine. This means that I am getting caught up on washing - diapers, laundry, and dishes need to consume some time each day. It also means that I can share more of the watches - Nancy and Max did the lion`s share in the beginning. Now we each take a piece of the night, get a good solid duration of sleep the rest of the night, and try to take one nap in the day time. Long night watches and long off-watches seem to be working the best for us at the moment. On that note, the nights are warming up. We needed extra layers for the first few nights, but not so much anymore :)

Our pantry is still dishing out fresh produce - apples and potatoes have done particularly well, especially considering that many of them were procured 3 weeks ago. Carrots were hit and miss (not enough airflow, and not enough checking, I think ... I am hoping to make carrot bread, muffins, etc to finish the useable ones tomorrow... this task didn't quite happen today.)

Our fishing lures are starting to come out even - we donated two to the sea early in the trip, but have since caught a nice little dorado and a lovely 14 lb yellow fin tuna. Tasty!

The kids are thriving. They saved the Harry Potter books to read on passage, and with stomachs of steel, they have been reading morning til night.

We had dolphins come to visit a couple of mornings ago (quite amazing, as they stayed with us for over half an hour). Victoria told us in a very matter of fact tone of voice that they were pan-tropical spotted dolphins. How did she know this, I wondered? She had read it in the field guide, of course. This is my kind of school! This afternoon, in an attempt to distract Benjamin, I heard both kids, on separate occasions, reading him the pictorial fishing guide.

Fluenta has been good to us this week. Max has had a couple of maintenance jobs, but I'll leave them for him to describe. Our new solar panels and our wind generator are pumping in energy, so the first time we had to charge our batteries with the engine or generator (we went with the engine given the rolly seas) was today - day 8!

On that note, we will continue this story on another day. One-finger typing with a babe in arms while propped up in order to not fall off the nav seat has its limits!

Love to all - and thanks for your good wishes!

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Friday 25 April 2014

Into the Trades

Looks like we are in the trade winds now. After a bouncy night with winds forward of the beam at up to 19 kts in a confused sea the winds all of a sudden swung around to behind us and reduced to a between 7 and 10 kts. It was a slow spinnaker run today but a lot smoother. Funny to go from having to reef to stop Fluenta going up to her hull speed to now having to eke out every bit of energy from the wind.

Planning to stay north of 12N until 121W based on what we see in the gribs and based on what Windcutter's weather router (a weather service you can can hire to assist with passage planning) advised. Windcutter is sailing in approximately the same chunk of ocean with us so we are occasionally in VHF range.

School is still adjourned until everybody gets their sea legs but the kids are going through their books quickly.



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Wednesday 23 April 2014

Passage Update 23 Apr

We are still heading towards the Socorro Islands but as the wind has veered we are intending to pass to the south of them now. The close reach was turning into close hauled and beyond so we assessed it not worth trying to go around to the north. The gribs from last night show little difference in wind strength from the north side to the south side. Fluenta is bounding along on a beam reach although the beam seas are making things a tad rolly. Reading in the cockpit takes a bit caution as the occasional wave slap splashes across.

No fish on our lines today but a bit of wildlife to watch. Small porpoises came to play for awhile which is always appreciated. We also saw our first large schools of flying fish and collected a few suicidal squids from the deck.

The solar and wind generator combination continue to pay dividends as the batteries were topped off again today.



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Tuesday 22 April 2014

On Passage - PPJ Day 1/2

We sailed off our anchor from Punta de Mita yesterday with air horns of encouragement from our friends on Heavy Metal and then a cannon salute later from Destiny. Winds have been a fairly consistent with the forecast: 9 to 14 kts from the NW meaning we have been on a close reach most of the time resulting in speeds from 5 to 8 kts. Everybody is getting used to the reefing system as the winds have been changing frequently.

Less wildlife than our departure from the bay last year since the Humpbacks have moved on in their migration. We have been spotting lots of formations of rays which amuse us with their jumping dolphin imitations. Destiny (heading into the bay) reported catching a 45lb yellow tail tuna and Windcutter (parallelling our course for the Marequesas) hailed us to say they caught a 25 lb yellow fin. So far we have one little Skipjack filet in the fridge. We even adjusted our course to pass close to the renowned fishing area of La Corebanea to no avail. Fingers crossed for some tasty tuna later.

The boat has been cooperating. The only problem so far was the fridge/freezer shutting down but that was a just a clogged filter on the water cooling. Suspicion was that running the fridge while I did my free dive spearfishing practice (i.e. breath hold hull cleaning) may have caused to suck up all the sludge. All good now. The new solar and the wind generator we installed last year are doing well. The conditions are ideal for both so the batteries are topped up again by 1700. This will likely change as we head downwind after the Socorros as we will most probably have more shading and will almost definitely have less apparent wind.

Everybody is doing well but all are looking forward to fully finding their sea legs and starting the downwind portion of the passage.



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Monday 21 April 2014

Passage Preparations (Continued) and life in Mexico (Also Continued ...)

The intention is to weigh anchor today from Punta de Mita and head to the Marquesas.  The next series of blog updates will be done over our high frequency radio so no photos for awhile (The HF/Pactor combo gives us at best about 2 kbaud - for those that remember dialup that was at 56 kbaud).

We had intended to leave weeks ago but there just has not been a good weather window until now to get off the Mexican coast and get out to the trade winds.  It does look today so we will leave once the sea breeze picks up and sail on looks like it will be a close reach in 9 to 12 kts of wind to just north of the Socorro Islands (about 325 nm) and then head towards what is our best guess of an entry point for the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) at 5N 130W.

Provisioning is done and then redone as the delays mounted.  Diesel and gasoline topped up. We now sit a few inches deeper in the water.

Predeparture picture

Family Photo
We took the time to sort out some plumbing issues, get Tony at Morelli sails to modify our mainsail and we put in a new starter battery.  Also, we had a chance to be tourists for a change and went to the zoo, did some surfing and such.

Sailing with my Dad just before we had a humpback whale surfaces less than a boat length away.

Baby in a bucket

Johnathan and I heading out to do some surfing

Jump, jump, jump !

The continued adventures in Mexican bureaucracy  

Benjamin and I studying an old Heavy Weather book we found in the Cruisers Lounge.

Oh my says Benjamin, where are we going to put all this food

Immunization time with the nice ladies in Bucerias

Victoria helping us organise the ditch bags

Some snoozing and reading time too.

Back from the Mar y Sol market

Monkey Business 1

Monkey Business 2

More jumping around

Potatoes and Carrots will advance in review order, by the center, quick march !

Debugging our GFCI plug - turns out this is where our new bug friends had been living.

Apples, form up !

Packaged up and ready to stow.


Kids sleep over at Punta de Mita

Galley Duty

One of new shiny solar panels with La Cruz in the background.

Merle on the foredeck at sunrise in Punta de Mita

Surf Training for Benjamin

Tuesday 8 April 2014

Life in La Cruz and Visitors

We have been fortunate this season to have had many visitors.  My parents visited in February, Liz's parents came in January and then her dad, Wendall, came back again a few weeks ago to help me with completing a bunch of the boat projects.  My sister and her family came down in March and then they came back without the kids but with a collection of their friends for a Mexican holiday.  Liz's sister and brother came with their children at the some time for a mini family reunion.   Busy times but lots of fun.

They love fireworks in Mexico.  My sister's son spouting fire outside one of our favourite restaurants in town.

My sister and her husband Chris after a daysail.

Surfing at Punta de Mita with Sarah and Chris
While my parents were here we had a renaming ceremony for "Trickle" the sailing dingy.  Here the kids (Fluenta and Kenta Anae) are on the first row on the recently renamed vessel.

Granny and Grandpa Shaw visiting.

Can't have a sailing blog without a sunset picture (although it is actually a sunrise picture ...)

Johnathan successfully completing his yellow belt test in Karate (in Spanish of course)
A few extra crew:  A day sail with an extra 11 people - thanks to Shindig and all the others who lent us enough PFD's.

Fluenta at Paradise Village Marina where family was staying at the resort.


And more mandatory family photos

Captain Ron (aka Brother-in-law Ron) helping me set up the beautiful sextant my father-in-law has loaned us.

A daysail with two babies and lots of children.

Aerial Silks

Baby Benjamin was not lacking in attention.  Here Nancy from Shindig was holding him for us.

However, Benjamin has seemed reluctant to take on his fair share of the maintenance duties.

And more wonderful meals on Kenta Anae.  Thanks Merle and Allison.

Grammy with Benjamin

And meanwhile, I worked on the boat.  Note the big hammer !

Benjamin needed a bit of surgery so we drove up to Guadalajara.  A picture of our hotel.

The pyramids outside Guadalajara.

Lots of babies on boats ...Rebel Heart, Sea Raven, Adamaster, Betti and Fluenta mums.

Benjamin's amazing doctors.

Taking my little sister sailing.

Cousins !