Monday, March 31, 2008

Back to work

Today we prepped the boat for getting under way once again.

We finished topping up the fuel jugs, Took down the sun tents and the sail covers, and got the storm covers ready. First light tomorrow we hoist the dinghy back into it's cradle, finish lashing things where they go and are off. We want to time the entrance right after slack tide I believe.

Depending on what we find tomorrow we have a choice right around nightfall. There is an anchorage 40 miles down right near the border that we can stop in for a rest if we find no wind(no need to rattle all night). If we have a good breeze going, we'll take it and run for CRica.

I can't stay up too long, Early call tomorrow.

From the decks of Astor

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Without notice, Filbert has been difficult to locate these last few days. First, this is not too unusual as he is always seeking of new experiences and adventures. He usually returns maybe a bit more tattered, but with new tales of wonders. Sometimes he just gets stuck in a sock.

Then I get this mysterious but obvious message:

I'm not sure how to handle this. Do I consult the US embassy here in El Sal? What is this MNLF? Do they even have a website? Perhaps we have a jealous ratfink aboard...

We decide to venture off in our own search of the surrounding area first.

We found a guide to take us off the normal path to go talk to some locals. It was quite a trek thru the trees and brush, but we finally reached a village.

It was clear we did not speak the same language. Our contacts were quite active and animated, and moved through their domain with ease. We quickly found that some things in our cultures translated across nicely.

Apparently we had their attention, and something they wanted.

After a few token "gifts" they were a bit more directive and pointed us in a possible direction. We now have some leads and are narrowing our search a bit more.

The whole time, I couldn't shake the feeling like we were being watched.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Barillas Marina, El Salvador

Friday 3.28
We arrived at our waypoint around 2am Thurs, and did shifts till sunup. Right on time a guide in a ponga showed up and led us through the complicated bar entrance.

Good thing we had a guide. At one time there were waves breaking on both sides of us as we were running parallel to the beach, then we turned right and sorta surfed and rocked in with some rollers.

He led us into the most backwater bayou mangrove step back in time I have ever seen. We passed several small fishing camps, and several private homes of decent sizes that were tucked in between the palms and mangroves. I think we went about 4 miles, rounded a bend and picked up a mooring at the Barillas Club and Marina. It's REALLY cool. The marina grounds are very well manicured, a cool bar that overlooks the anchorage, showers, fuel at 4.50 gal(ahem), a pool, and free wifi. There are only cruisers from 4 or five boats here. We have the whole club to ourselves.

We are surrounded by tall mangroves on both sides that is home for white egrets, and several other birds that make incredble jungle like noises. I hear the chirping like crickets, probably frogs, and the occasional swishing in the water of small crocs. Yes, we saw a mysterious log swimming across current, turn and go upstream past our stern today! We were going to scrub the waterline tomorrow. We will request hazard pay now.

After several rough nights at sea, we welcome the perfectly calm waters here. We have nice breezes most of the day, and no mosquitos. Just a few small knats.

Depending on how fast we get things done we are here till Tuesday, then off again.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Just an adjustment

Wed 3.26 1200 hrs (noon)
Position 13 22.32N - 89 09.40W
Cse 116 - Spd 4 to 7.7 - Wnd 5 to 20 - 1 reef in main and both staysails up-

Currently running the coastline about 2.5 miles off El Salvador. The travel is much the same as last night. The temptation is to launch more sail in the light air, but the unpredictable gusts drive us pretty hard when they come up. No need to tip the captain out of his bunk.

We finally caught two spotted mackerel on the drag lines today. We dug out the BBQ and managed to grill some nice fillets for dinner under quite challenging conditions. I didn't lose a piece, and they were quite the hit. I almost went over tho.

Our pace has taking a new direction. The active plan has us landing for fuel and a rest in Bahia de Jiquilisco. That's about 45 miles from here. The computer says we will be there by night, so we will have to drive in circles till morning. I guess the bar crossing is quite a challenge and they offer a pilot that will come out and take us past the tricky spots once there is light.

Blowing and drifting

Wed 3.26 0000 hrs (midnight)
Position 13 39.92N - 90 02.40W
Cse 118 - Spd 4 to 6 - Wnd 5 to 15 - 1 reef in main+fore staysail-

Another busy night. Not much time to write.

I took watch this evening with the instructions of a quiet night and no need to rush. The wind was fluky. It would blow 12 for like 30 mins then shut down. I'd nurse it for 15 mins or so before I'd pull everything in tight(the sails) and fire up the motor. 10 mins later I would hit another pocket and take off. Out go the sails, and shut off the motor. Whee!

This looped several times and kept me busy. A few times when we were ghosting along at around 2kts, everything was real quiet and we could hear dolphin surfacing around us. I guess they were coming over to check us out.

To make the evening a bit more complicated, I had to deal with of an inbound tanker. I first saw him 6 miles out, and checked the charts where he might be going. I was clearly in his path. Minor course changes were not enough and I had to dive out of the way(90 degree course change towards the beach) near the end. We passed within 1/2 mile. It's good to pay attention.

When I handed off to Lani at 2am we were just rounding Pnta. Remidias and the winds picked back up around 18kts. This is why we left the sails short tonight.

Not just the leisure cruise

Tues 3.25 1200 hrs (noon)
Position 13 34.92N - 90 47.40W
Cse 97 - Spd 7.1 - Wnd 10.8 ESE - Sailing -
sea temp 81.2
340 miles to go

Tuesday night was a gorgeous night watch with a warm breeze and moonlight to keep from tripping over the lines on deck, but very busy. I spent most of it sitting on top of the pilot house with binoculars. We were running about 8 miles off the coast of Guatemala and there were little fishing pongas everywhere. There would be pockets of 5 or 6 showing up on screen but only 3 would have lights. I didn't have too much elbow room and had to pass a dark one by only a half mile. When I got close, he finally switched on a very dim light and a little strobe. He looked like he had a low battery. I blinked my LED light at him a couple of times to let him know I saw him. When I would clear a bunch of them, 3 more would show up in my path. They didn't move all that fast so they were no problem to avoid. What made it complicated were the tankers that would choose to join our little meetings and trounce right through. Those guys MOVE!

This morning we found some wind. The bad part is that it is on the nose. We'll take anything to shut off the iron wind we have been running almost non stop since we left. The boat is heeled over pretty far hard to weather, and our course is looking pretty wacky right now, but after a few tacks we are making headway. (I took a pic to be inserted later)

All day sailing was nice, but it turned around near the end of my watch (3pm) when I broke the wind pretty bad. I handed off to Richard. For a while there the wind just stopped. The seas were going strangely choppy but coming from several directions. We were about 21 miles off the coast with all sails up. The barometer fell another point (that makes 4 since 10am). We were all below in the salon when the boat just leaned over pretty bad. Drawers were sliding open, stuff was falling out of cabinets. I was right near the main companionway and poked out to see what was happening and saw Richard coming out from the pilot house who then called for all hands on deck. We needed to pull some sails down pretty fast. We got the weather fish down with only a little drama and Paula and I were sitting down on deck, backs against the lifelines clawing at the flapping sail and trying to tie it up to the dinghy rack. We got a couple of good waves over the bow, and they came right down our side. We were waist deep in blue water. Once strapped a quick turn downwind really helped to roll up the jib. A reef got put in the main and we took off on a course to tuck us into the coast a bit more. We got within 2 miles and the waves were much better, but it was still blowing like snot. We took down the main staysail, and we were still doing over 7 knots. This lasted pretty much till 10pm and it finally let up and we relaxed. Richard said the winds never went UNDER 34kts. Looking back at the charts we figure we got into another one of those troughs between the mountains. This was what the locals call a Papagayos and really watch out for.

Shaken and stirred, brimmed in salt.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tues 3.25 0000 hrs

We managed to carry an evening puff for several hours and get in a bit of actual sailing. It made for a quiet dinner on deck for everyone just as the stars were coming out. We finally had to take the main down around 9pm and motor. Who said this mexico "sailing" was great? We sure have been using up our share of fuel.
Technically, we are mid way down the coast of Guatemala. When a large wave picks up the boat, I can see coastal lights. Radar puts us about 9 miles off.

The moon has finally come up and in it's waining state of 3/4 is still bright enough to blot out most of the stars. It has turned into quite a clear night and a moonlight path is running all the way to the horizon.

Now the wind might be coming back up. I might be able to coax an extra half knot out of the ol'girl by easing the staysails a bit.
Mon 3.24 1200 hrs

A little tweety bird surprised us by flying into the pilot house this afternoon. It was a tiny little green thing. As we watched it for a bit he decided to dive down the boat for a little tour. I took off after it as it flew into the main salon for a couple of circles, then through the galley and up into the forepeak. Man, talk about the full tour. I rousted up Amit on the way and closed doors behind me as it dove into the deep corner of the v-birth and disappeared into the many misc canvas covers, sailbags, and whatnot gear shoved up there. We had to slowly pull it all out until we found him hiding in the corner and coaxed him out the open hatch.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Mon 3.24 0000 hours

As you can see, not much except position has changed. We had hoped to get in a little help from a favorable current by now. Not much sailing today, but we burned up some diesel.

As it got dark, Paula and I were sitting up on deck enjoying the remnants of a cool breeze. I pointed out that there were some green birds that favored one side of the boat and some red ones circling the other side. That trick didn't work later with Richard when I used it on him either. When I did a round of the deck upon taking watch, I did note why they were around us tho. I found about 8 of them hitching a ride out on the bowsprit. They look like cool medium sized terns. They weren't too bothered by my need to snug up the forward staysail a bit(the cleat is right up there very close to them). I didn't bother them. I'll probably have to wash off the sprit tomorrow.

According to the current nav guy (me), It looks like we are 190 miles out from Huatalco and are looking at 510 to Costa Rica.
Sun 3.23 1200 hours

We left off yesterday as winds slowly built enough to shut off the iron wind. It was great to be in the quiet zone again. Around sunset, and without warning we must have hit the trough of the Tehuantepec. We got the sails down and continued with the fwd staysail and 3rd reef in the main only and were still hitting 6-7kts in winds up around 35. That's what the foulies and lifelines were for. We were drenched from the firehose like spray of waves every 30 seconds. I noted that it was very warm. By my watch at midnight, we were through and the rest of the night was a coast along around 4-5 kts. We kept it underpowered all night in case the t-pecs came back up but they never did.

So THAT is why this area has it's reputation of being able to swamp a boat. We went through on a CALM night!!!

Today, seas are is still calm and wind is directly on the tail. This makes our apparent wind not enough to keep the sails from flogging around so we motor. We have been maintaining 5-7 miles off the coast which I cannot see. It might be flat land, or the haze, but the other freaky thing is that we are in only 120 ft of water.

Nothing on the hooks yet, but the wasabi is at the ready.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Early Morning Start for the Gulf de Tehuantepec

Sat 3.22 1200 hrs

We all got up around 4:30 this morning to finish prepping the boat and we brought up and stowed the anchor just as it was getting light. It was a neat but almost plain sunrise. It was one where the sun was banded in several red layers.

We put up the main, 2 staysails and pulled out the #3 jib (which is now on the roller), and hoisted the weather fisherman. The sails started out on the Starboard side, and sometime when I was napping they moved over to the Port side. Hmmmm... Must have been a bit more tired than I thought.

The winds are currently light, and predicted to go even lighter later, and the seas are a bit rolly with the occasional speed bump that we stuff and lose a bit of speed.

By coincidence, MV Jenny (a Nordhaven) headed out behind us and ran us down in these light conditions and got some great pics as they went by. We are also both following Southern Belle (a 42 Fountain Pajot catamaran) on their trek south. They are maintaining about 3mi at 355 on my radar.

We seem to be in a strange back-eddy wind condition off the coastline. Our autopilot is working hard trying to keep the correct wind angle on the sails, but our path displayed on the computer is pretty wacked and wavy. We got pretty close to the beach and had to tack off for a couple of miles, then back again due to a rowdy wind shift. Richard thinks we really need the practice before we get to Antigua. We did manage to work in a really good sausage-dog and fresh pineapple for lunch. It was a busy watch.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Checking out, headed south.

3.20.08 Thurs

A quick check in from the local internet bar just up the road from the marina. The guy was a few hours late today but they didn't turn off the wifi so we got some things done before he got here. He just brought us the COLDEST mugs and Pacifico's I have ever been served. The things literally slushed-up when poured.

All week we have been listening to t-pec reports. We are taking a look at the latest online and it looks like we're in our window for transit.

Richard checked us out this afternoon and we are gathering remaining things up off the docks and getting them stowed. We made another run into town for some fresh foodstuffs and also came back with an important bonus cheesecake, limes and pineapple.

We should be out of the marina tomorrow on the tide (sometime around noon) and possibly run out and anchor one more night for early departure Sat morning. I'll try to get back here this evening for another update, depending on how much is going on.

Wikipedia said it pretty good:
Gulf of Tehuantepec (Spanish: Golfo de Tehuantepec) is a large body of water on the Pacific coast of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, southeastern Mexico, at 16° N 94.8333333° W. Most of the hurricanes that form in the Eastern Pacific organize in or near this body of water. A strong, gale force wind called the Tehuano periodically blows out over the waters of the Gulf of Tehuantepec, inducing strong upwelling of nutrient-rich waters which support abundant sea life.

I hear when conditions are right these winds will channel directly through a set of mountains towards the gulf and can get up to 50 knots. Waves build from there. This is why we pay special attention this next leg. We will hug the coast to be safe and offer a better view for the ones on watch.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I can name that tune

3.17.08 - Monday morning we picked up anchor and went around the corner to the marina. The sun tents were stripped the evening before and we were pretty much ready to go early morning. The entrance is a bit shallow so we came in right before the high tide just to be safe. We got into an end tie with just enough water under the keel at low tide to prevent sticking in the mud.

There’s a bit of surge here in the marina and it’s very breezy. Quite different from the rolling anchorage out front of the Las Brisas. We also lost the wifi access (it’s not set up here in the marina as advertised). I also miss the daily activities broadcast from loudspeaker from the resort. It was an annoying but neat way of learning numbers (bente-cinco, bente-cinco... bingo!!!!).

There is a little sidewalk bar right up the street that has free wifi and cheap beer. Can’t beat that. We have to walk up and check/send some email and grab some chips and salsa.

Now out of the rolling anchorage our first job was to tune the rigging. Richard wanted to do this before the t-pec crossing where it can get quite nasty for the unprepared. About 40 cotter pins (split pins for those of you south of the hemisphere) in 15 turnbuckles, a backstay and 4 running backs later, the spars are now all snugged up and ready to go. The forward runners actually ran out of adjustment so we had to cut the cables and refit the norseman fittings which took a good part of rest of the day.

Today [Tuesday] our job was to find the deck and give it a good washdown. She is looking like new but it was a couple hours of work. The girls and Richard taxied into town and picked up the first wave of provisions. Richard also scheduled for a ride into town from Enrique the marina manager for some fuel, propane, and one of the other guys riding along needed some ice. The truck was packed and we rode in back on top of the fuel just like the locals. That was fun. We miss out on great stuff like that in CA now.

Tomorrow if the breeze calms down a bit I heard some plans about taking the jib off the roller and putting the #3(smaller cut for bigger winds) on in it’s place. All hands ready for a folding party? We also need to dump the fuel into the tanks.

So today's blog is dedicated to the working side of cruising. I still don't think I will get any sympathy tho.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Filbert’s "Paws-On" - Coconuts 101

Filbert wants us all to know that this is not just a lazy- leisure cruise. He is on a quest. This is also a learning cruise. One of the goals of this trip was to learn a bit more about the mysterious coconut.

For a while now, Filbert has only heard rumors and seen a few pictures but has wanted to see this “king of nuts” for himself. On the last walk into town, it was fate that almost hit him (there are no monkeys yet) on the head with his first subject. Boy was he excited! This thing was way bigger than him.

From what he has heard, there are many phases of a coconut, and he wants to see them all. This one represented probably the last phase. It was old, dark on the outside, and even had a sprout beginning to poke out of one end. When shook, it rattled instead of swished. Since it fell out of the tree, it was pretty much ready to sprout a another tree. This is what we want.

He borrowed a sharp knife (wynona 2) and hacked at it for quite a while. It’s husk was tough on the outside, but a bit softer and fibrous on the inside. It trimmed away like a soft wood, but potential for cut fur and his own spilled sawdust was very high so he was very careful. It wasn’t long before it was halved to the hull.

With the aid of a big screwdriver and a bit more work the softball sized coconut ripped from the remaining husk. A few quick raps of the handle of the screwdriver broke it almost perfect in halves. Inside was yet another ball. It was soft and spongy and the source of the rattle. The guess is the milk turns to a solid as the seed gets ready to sprout. Filbert hears that if you get to it right before it sprouts, That milk ball can be quite a tasty chew. In our case, since our first subject had already sprouted, the milk ball was a bit dried out. (we did not get pics of that-oops!). However, in further exploring the rest of the nut, the inner side of the hull had the classic coconut meat still quite tasty. It was oily and rich and reminded filbert of a brazil nut.

A neat find, and we will keep all eyes open for more of these. The research continues.
After finishing and cleaning up, filbert starts to get another idea...
More Filbert later.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Huatulco Legend- caution learning content ahead!

Huatulco is Nahuatl for “place where the wood is adored”. Legend says 2000 years ago, the apostle St. Thomas floated ashore atop a gnarled tree shaped like a cross, set it into the main beach sand and taught the locals to worship it - which they did for 15 centuries.

In 1587, the pirate Cavendish decided it was the devil’s work, so, failing to chop and burn down the Cruz de Huatulco he tied lines from his ship and tried repeatedly to pull it down. Cross 1, Cavendish 0.

In 1611, Oaxaca’s Spanish bishop examined the cross and found it’s base buried in less than 20 inches of sand; a miracle. Renaming the bay Bahia Santa Cruz, he removed the original cross, fragmented it into smaller ones and distributed them around Mexico and Rome. Sans cross and abandoned as a port, the little bay slumbered for 372 years.

When Fonatur built the darsena in 1983, they resurrected the bay’s native name Huatulco.

From the Mexico Boating Guide - Captain Rains Guide
(I thought the story was neat - B)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Huatulco and relaxing

Thursday, I think.

We've been enojying a little harbor just around the corner from the real commercial marina in Huatulco, but it's quiet. We are just off the beach in a cove of about 5 different resorts, one of which is a Las Brisas(formerly club med). It's a bit rolly, but for a 60 ton girl like Astor it is nothing. We get buzzed by jetskis and the occasional "guest" catamaran funboat and we had a local on a paddleboard come out and say he likes us out here because the guests like the pretty sailboat to look at. Neat. Sometimes we hear their bingo caller, and dance music drifting on the wind all the way out here into the wee hours, but methinks it could be worse.

Internet has been spotty for me because my wifi card has been quite the picky little thing(and that's being nice). I've lost a few reports due to a lost connect and I've come very close to seeing how many times it will skip across the harbor - Oh well. time for another marguerita. Richard has a new antenna and card that pretty much gets him access whenever he wants and I can't let him get away with that. I'm still working on mine and seems like a few bugs are chased away. I can see about 20 different nodes, but all are secure for guests, but every now and then there are two that appear that we can get into. That is when I can post.

We are here for fuel, which we will get tomorrow. and reports on how the winds are acting in the Golfo de Tehuantepec. That is our next big jump. For now we enjoy a good book on deck, the occasional chore, or a run into town.

Yesterday we were treated to a few shows by the local water critters. For some reason there are baby manta rays that just love jumping out of the water. They land with a big belly flop but they keep doing it again and again, sometimes two at a time. This morning, we were surrounded by a hundred little jelly fish. They were quite mesmerizing to watch. Paula wouldn't let me poke at them tho.

Today, we did the town. It's not too far (like a mile) and Amit, Paula and I hoofed it just for the exercise. We found it full of life and the people amazingly friendly. Once we figured out the town 'centro' we had it all. We bought some bread treats for tomorrow (a big bag of assorted styles) for under 4 bucks, stopped in a sidewalk shop and had a great lunch and beers, wandered around for several blocks and found a fresh fruit shop and got some limes, stopped in for some ice-cream in the park centro, and took a taxi home for a couple of bucks. We wanted to go check out the church, but the guy closed the doors right when we were walking up to it. What is he tryig to say?

Neat town. One would need a week to explore all the little shops and side streets. What a day.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Headed for Huatalco

We had a good ride for the afternoon, but by sundown the wind had tapered down to barely a puff. We brought down everything but the staysails and cleaned the decks before it got totally dark.

By then we picked up a stray passenger. A bird (not quite sure what he is at the moment) had landed on the dinghy and stayed there the whole time we were taking down the sails. He looks sorta frazzled so we let him hang out. It's after midnight now and I just walked the decks and he is still there, head curled around and sleeping. We might just have to put him to work if he is still there tomorrow.

This evening we were also treated to an interesting light show. There were pockets of light firing off at different places in the water all around the boat. Some near the surface were quite bright, then others deep. They weren't only right next to the boat, but some quite far out too. The little balls of bio-light were about the size of a golf ball to a baseball and some lasted more than 2 seconds. Quite the strange things. Paula said she saw the same things on her trip aboard Beach Acess but nobody believed her.

We should be arriving into Huatalco tomorrow around sunrise. A new day and a new port. We will probably spend a few days there and we will start watching for a weather window for the jump across the Gulf de Tehuantepec. We hear it can get quite nasty out there.

Muchas Tortugas! Nautical Speed bumps?

Monday, March 10th

One can miss quite a lot if you don't get out and look around. This morning we cut through a mine field of sea turtles sunning on the surface. No worries about hitting them tho. The close ones would get nervous, flap around a bit and get out of the way. Others would poke their heads up and take a dive if we passed too close. This went on for several miles or at least more than an hour because I missed a log entry due to the neat distraction(oops). It's good to see so many of them.

We cut down the revs on the motor (1200) to slow down a bit, and this also saves fuel. There is no sign of wind yet and ETA on Huatulco is around 5am so why rush? We still have about 80 miles to go. Over the last few hours the winds are starting to build a bit. It would be nice to get some sails up and some quiet time though. That's baja sailing I guess!

1330 hours and sure enough we got the wind we were hoping for. We put up the main sail, rolled out the jib and hoisted the fisherman. We turned off the motor and the silence was deafening. Now we are schooning along at 7.5 knots in 10.2 knots of wind. Very nice!

Newest crew member Amit(ah-meet) is doing well and seems to be enjoying the cruise. He is 25, and hails from Israel. His sailing experience and passion of the sea comes from many years aboard their family yacht "Lou" a 38 ft Jeanneau. As if that sea time was not enough, we are currently borrowing him from the Israeli Navy as he is between contracts. It is required for all young adults to enlist for at least 3 years, but he has been in for the last 7. Plans are to renew when he gets back and continue until retirement. It is common to take a break between contracts and he thought he'd try something different. That is when he saw an opening aboard Astor on "Find a Crew". Welcome aboard Amit.

Farewell to Acapulco

Sunday, March 9th

With fond regrets, we bid farewell to Acapulco this morning around 0730 and have had light winds so we are motoring. We are expecting a current so we are trying to first guess where it is, then avoid it. We'll see how we do.

It's a beautiful day and we were seen off by a small pod of dolphins. Shifts have been assigned and now that everything has been secured for the moment all hands are off in their lost corners of the boat. Throughout the day we have chased variable winds and had the jib out for a while, but still motoring. We have the lures out and managed to hook up to a small dorado but that poor little guy would have barely been a snack for Amit so we tossed him back so he can grow a bit more. We went through the most amazing frenzy of churning water for quite a while and were surprised we did not hook up again.

Sundown now and the skies grow darker by the minute. There is only a sliver of a moon and the night is cooling off. It's going to be a neat night to sit in the cockpit under the stars.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Exploring Acapulco

Hey, it's been fun.
Yesterday was a bit busy running around town and exploring sections of the city. We got into the big vendor area that exists more for the touristas seeing as it is placed directly off the docks from the cruise ships. We got away from that and picked up some stores for the boat, as well as a bit of trinkets from the best jewelry shop in town. Right in the door they handed us all marguritas as we shopped. NICE tactic!

Today we sorta scrambled up early with 5 blasts of an air horn. Richard was up and saw the nearby boat "Marythought" was drifting down towards us. We had our dink launched in record time and ready to assist but they missed us and had their engine started before the got into too much trouble. It was a good exercise.

We dove right in to a bunch of boat chores. Richard dove right into installing the new inverter and new crewmate Amit and my job was to replace a blown out piston hank on the main staysail and while the stuff was out we replaced a few others that were really worn.

Around noon we snuck off to the cliff divers and had a few drinks, chips and salsa. Some of those guys were pretty good, but they had quite a racket going. We hit a few more shops on the way back looking for a few things but got out of town when we saw yet another cruise ship docking. It's going to be a busy night on the strip tonight. We can hear the clubs across the water till the very late hours every night.

With only a few things left to stow, and storm covers to put on, I hear we should be out tomorrow morning for Hualtuco. There we sill spend a few days, check out from Mexico, and continue south.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

A start with style

What started out as a very busy day turned into a flawless transit from a to b. From gettng out the door a bit late, we got to the airport with just barely enough time to get thru the LAX check-in procedures ONLY if everything went perfect. It did. It might have also been the fact that there were minimum crowds because it was midnight. The boarding was non-event and the flight was a bit rough because those seats were not designed for the sleepy in mind. I think I'll have to write a memo.

The stopover in Mex City went off without a problem. We managed a quick breakfast before boarding the next plane without problems, off the plane and thru customs was a breeze, straight to a waiting taxi and a quick tour through the very clean surrounds of Acapulco over to the 'yachtie' parts of the city. The only glitch that caught up to us was that our driver did not know exactly where the "Club de Yates" was located and tried to drop us off at the cruise ship docks. We drove down the road a bit farther and spied Astor sitting on her mooring (not too difficult to spot tho). We got out at the fishing village and figured I'd talk my way onto a ponga. I was led directly to a very friendly local named Vicete who was very familiar with the boat because he owns the can Astor was on. He was waiting for me. He has been the personal Astor ambassador since they have been down here.

Can you believe the luck?

I sit here enjoying a very pleasant breeze, poolside at an awesome yacht club tapping out an update.

Very nice, but I didn't come all this way to play on a computer.

(I was going to upload some pics, but I seemed to have left my card reader in another bag. I'll post later when I find it.)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

And so it begins.

Ready or not the day has come. If all goes according to schedule, tonight Paula and I are on a red-eye out of LAX and headed down to meet up with Astor once again. I have been buttoning up things for the last couple of months as best as I can, and trying to predict the odd things that might come up, but it's time to go.

Some of you might know P and I helped crew her down to PV over the xmas/nyear weeks. It was a great trip, but tough. The boat has hopped south a couple of times since and mostly enjoyed the mexican coast but it is time to head south a bit more. The plan description is billed as a few overnight jumps, a few stops along the way(I've heard that before), and eventually ending up in Costa Rica . That is about another 1000 miles.

When out in open water, I'll be sending in updates via HF radio uplink from time to time and my assistant will post them here and maybe even mailing raw copies to assorted people. When in port and I get wifi access I will upload pics and do a few updates from the field. I'm not sure which accounts I will have access to- so for now you can send messages to [] and it should find way to the boat. This may change as I try different things.

Enjoy the logs. Feel free to comment here, and even send notes out our way. We like mail. No spam, or long winded jokes tho. Images will get filtered out in the radio mail system.

Off to find the edge...