December 27, 2004

Bahia Tenacatita

We arrived in Bahia Tenacatita yesterday. This is the place that has received the largest number of kudos from our friends who have been here before and we can see why. It's the best spot so far!

A great anchorage with lots to do, great snorkeling, diving, warm clear water, even a Jungle River Trip! We've also caught up with many of our friends who left Puerto Vallarta ahead of us. There either here in Tenacatita or just another 10 miles down the coast in the Marina of Barre de Navidad.

The Jungle River trip was a lot of fun. This morning we left with our friends Bruce and Nora of "Jamboree" in their dingy for the 2 mile run up the Rio Las Iguanas river. The mouth of the river is right at the beach here in the anchorage. We followed a winding channel through the mangroves which was sometimes sunny and sometimes covered by the branches of the tress to create an environment similar to the "Jungle Boat" trip at Disneyland but with different critters - and these were real! With no wisecracking guide..... except for Bill ;-} We saw colorful birds, butterflies and a Coatimundi. All in the lush foliage of mangroves and vines. Tendrils of aerial roots dangled like sausages from the green canopy overhead. touching the mirror clear water.

The end of the river led to a dingy landing on the backside of the Las Escolleras beach further up the bay. A short walk took us to a series of beach palapa restaurants with outstanding fish rolls made with fish and shrimp served with an almond sauce. Quite yummy.

After we returned, we went snorkeling on the point just around the corner from the anchorage. We swam over and hitched a ride back on a friend's dingy. We saw lots of fish of all varieties. From puffers to damsel fish and many more. Great clear water. A very nice time.

Now we're back on the boat relaxing with a cup of tea.

Mary also comments that "why is it a perverse delight to do a little bit of hand laundry and hang it on the lifelines?" (we do chores too!)

We'll probably stay here for at least a week of more, socializing with the lively community of around 15 other cruising boats here in the anchorage.

Warmest wishes to all
Bill and Mary

December 24, 2004

Anchored out in Bahia de Chamela

Happy Holidays everyone!

Our cruise down from Ipala to here was uneventful. Calm winds and flat seas, so we motored the 52 miles in just under 8 hours. Saw a few whales playing a few miles off, none up close. Dolphins were jumping and playing in the bay when we arrived. During the night a few were playing by the boat and their breathing (blowing) woke us up. Noisy critters!

We're anchored out in this beautiful bay: Bahia de Chamela (pronounced "chah-MAH-lah"). This is a large bay, over 4 miles across with villages at either end and some small islands in the middle. We're here with just 4 other boats anchored in the NW corner of the bay by the small village.

Compared to Ipala, this place is huge! Lot's of space to anchor and a much larger village. Probably around 100 families and lot's of family run palapa restaurants on the beach.

We'll probably stay here through the weekend, going to the bay's islands for diving over the next few days.

Last night we went to a very nice one with two friends and had a wonderful seafood platter with fish, shrimp done three different ways, Langostino (crayfish)and octopus done two different ways (it was tender and delicious). The dinner for 4 only cost 280 pesos ($25.50 US).

We got a couple of questions about how to locate us on the map with more precision than the map on the website. There a couple of ways to do that. The easiest is got to your local auto club office and get their Mexico road map. This gives a good overview of Mexico overall (but not a lot of detail). Right now, we're nearest the small town of Chamela, on the west coast Mexico highway 200 south of Puerto Vallarta. Chamela is the town at the other end of this bay from where we are.

A better way is if you have a really good Atlas that covers Mexico. The best maps are the Mexican Topographical maps, available at many libraries.

Look up the area and then zero in to our exact location using the latitude and longitude reported on our website.

Right now we're at 19°35.070'N 105°07.887'W. Isn't GPS is great! That's our position to within 6 feet. Unfortunately, The Nautical charts are mostly obsolete. All our charts show us 2 to 3 miles inland. So we navigate using the "Mark 1 eyeball", radar and depth sounder, interpreting our charts appropriately.

Warmest wishes for a great holidays!

Bill and Mary

December 22, 2004

In Ipala

We arrived in Ipala at 3pm this afternoon after a nice motor down from Puerto Vallarta.

This is a lovely little bay. The village consists of 14 families with 3 (count them!) 3 restaurants! All outdoors.

Mary and I had Langosta con Ajo (Lobster with Garlic) for $11.00 each. They also have wonderful fish and (cooked) oysters!

There are 4 cruising sailboats in the anchorage and we went to check out the place next door and 75% of the visiting sailors were at our table.... 6 people total!

Great time.... We'll probably stay here tomorrow to and leave Thursday.

Warmest Regards,

Bill and Mary

December 10, 2004

Still in Puerto Vallarta

Wow. Time is flying by. Sorry there haven't been as many messages recently.

All is well here and we are fine and having a great time.

We're into our second week of Spanish lessons. We're taking a class for cruisers that meets twice a week on Wednesday and Thursday mornings. The class is geared to phrases we would actually use here.

Last weekend we went to the north of Banderas Bay (which is the Bay we are in) and anchored off a nice little village, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle. That was very peaceful. We ran into some folks we had met in San Diego. I expect this will continue to happen, where we crisscross paths with many of the same people.

The feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe is this month. So in Puerto Vallarta, every night, something is going on: ballet, parades, dances, food and drink.

Last night a famous Mariachi band from Guadalajara played at at the amphitheater on the beach. When they played at the Sheraton hotel the day before, it cost $100/each to hear them. The public concert was free. They were fantastic! Rather than deal with the crowd, we noticed that the restaurant right across the street had empty tables 1 story above the amphitheater and was open to and facing the concert, so we went and had some drinks and snacks. No bad, a balcony seat with waitress service for a great free concert

The evening was great. The square, the church and all of down town was crowed with local and tourists. There was a parade with Aztec dancers etc. There were some excellent singers and then the Mariachi band played. We were told that they were the best Mariachi band in Mexico. They certainly sounded great!

Besides all the people out, there were stands set up with food and drinks. So we were trying an wide assortment of foods.

Note, the entire time we've been down here, we've eaten at street stands, festivals, etc. With NO ill effects.

It was very festive. we hope to go into town tomorrow night too.

A few nights ago five of us went to Las Carmelitas, a restaurant high up (1500 feet) on the mountains behind Puerto Vallarta to watch the sunset and have dinner. We had a great time good food, good company and awesome view.

Also yesterday, Mary went to the beach which is only a matter of feet away and got a lesson in buggy boarding from our friends Bruce and Nora. They have been doing this everyday. They have the boards at the beach for the hotel/marina guests to use. The place is quite large. There are four swimming pools that we've found, complete with waiters to bring drinks or food. Is this too decadent? Plus there is a spa, several restaurants, disco (we haven't gone there yet), a zoo with tigers etc, great beach, and then the hotel naturally and a nearby shopping center with a grocery store and Laundromat, other stores and restaurants.

In the past few weeks, we went on a hike to a waterfall, a walk through the jungle, snorkeling at Los Arcos (a nearby popular spot) and lot's more.

We've also got a lot of chores done on the boat but we have a few more to accomplish before we head south down the coast.

We're a little behind at getting our web site updated but will do that with some of our Puerto Vallarta pictures before we head south.

Warmest regards to all for a happy holidays!

Mary and Bill

November 24, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving to all

It's been a while since we sent our last message.

We've been busy having a great time exploring the Puerto Vallarta area, touring and generally keeping busy.

One change to our Itinerary, Dockwise Yacht Transport scheduled an additional boat in May from La Paz to Vancouver so we changed to that voyage to give us more time for the Sea of Cortez. We'll be leaving La Paz now in Mid May (instead of March), arriving in Vancouver late May/early June.

Everything takes a bit long here in Mexico so it's good that we've got lots of time. We've even been able to lounge by the pool a bit here in Paradise Village.

It's easy to get into town from the Marina. A 14 peso bus ride will take you to the outskirts and another 4 pesos will take you all the way through to the other side. At 11.2 pesos to the dollar, that's pretty inexpensive.

There's a village about a 1 km walk from the other side of the Marina, Jarretaderas with a great market on Tuesdays. We've picked up lots of fresh fruit and vegetables the last two Tuesdays along with great shrimp. A fellow sells Medium and Large shrimp off the back of his truck at 60 pesos per kilo for the small and 80 pesos for the large. So that's 2.2 pounds of great tasting shrimp for just over $5.

There's also a tortilla factory in town that sells fresh corn tortillas for around 3.5 pesos a dozen.

We're also still eating all the fresh fish (now frozen) we got from our fellow cruisers on the way down.

Tomorrow we're off to a nearby restaurant for a Thanksgiving day feast set up by the Marina.

We hope you and your families all have a really great Thanksgiving!

Warmest Wishes,
Bill and Mary

November 11, 2004

We Arrived in Paradise

The Paradise Village Marina in Nuevo Vallarta that is ;-}

Nuevo Vallarta is just across the other side of the airport and river from Puerto Vallarta. It's a newer area with a hotel, condos and very nice shopping center, It's a short taxi, water taxi or bus ride into PV.

It's also in the Mexican state of Nayarit (PV is in Jalisco). PV is in the Central Time zone, Nayarit is in Mountain Time - but everyone except the government goes by central time. So right now its: 944 AM (1044 Eastern and 744 Pacific).

The sail down was quite nice the first day and night with great sailing. We had a really nice breeze (around 15 to 18 knots) and we were zooming along nicely at 7.5 to 8 knots doing a beam reach (winds from directly off the port side). After motoring for 2 hours out of Cabo in absolutely dead calm conditions, we picked up the wind after getting out of the wind shadow of the Baja California landmass.

Our biggest concern was going to fast and getting to the Marina before dawn on Thursday morning. So that night we thought it would be good to slow down. We put a double reef in the main with the intent of slowing down, but with a full jib, we were still doing 7.5 knots! Anyway the seas were a bit lumpy and it was more comfortable going faster rather than slowing down even further by using the staysail.

By morning the winds diminished and with the lumpy seas, it was more comfortable going a bit faster so we fired up the engine and motor sailed the rest of day 2. The winds died down to only 3 or 4 knots by mid day, so we just kept motoring. On night 2 the winds picked up a little and got our speed back up.

In Cabo we were told to watch out for fisherman who sleep in the Pangas (fiberglass open fishing boats about 20 feet long with a large outboard) over fishing banks as much as 200 miles out with no lights. It was a moonless night and we didn't run across any.... but we did come across a fleet of about a dozen large fishing trawlers with very bright lights trawling over the fishing grounds about 40 miles outside Banderas Bay. They were very easy to avoid.

Banderas Bay is a very large (about 20 x 20 miles) protected and open area with great sailing. After we entered it we were still plenty early, so we took a long tack across the bay and back to kill about 2 hours. Sunrise here was at 7:08 AM and by 7:30 we were in and tied up.

We spent yesterday doing some close in exploring, doing laundry, checking out the local supermarket, going to the Yacht Club (100 feet away), etc. We hired a very nice local BMW (boat maintenance worker) to wash our boat, clean up the stainless and get off the salt spots. We're also using "Paperman" as our agent to handle the famous Mexican paperwork "Cha Cha" (checking in with each of the government offices.

After an early "Cheeseburger in Paradise" we turned in at 8 PM and slept until 9 AM.... We were a bit tired and punchy yesterday ;-}

Today, more exploring.... This time awake!

Regards to all,

Bill and Mary

November 10, 2004

Enroute to Puerto Vallarta

Hi Everyone!

Mary here:

We are on the second day of our sail to Puerto Vallarta. We left around 10AM yesterday. The first night we don't sleep very well but by the second night we are in the swing of it.

We did have the fishing line out all yesterday without a nibble. So this morning I put it back in at dawn (when I was on watch) hoping. No nibbles again. But when it was light enough to see, I could tell we were surrounded with playful pilot whales. They are small, similar to dolphin size.

We don't expect anymore Agricultural Inspectors. In Cabo our beef was confiscated. Darn. I was looking forward to the filet mignon and the packages of beef Burgundy that I had prepared at home. Some cruisers who had stocked up for their trip to the South Pacific really were hurt.

Along with the sea animals, we have had dragon flies and butterflies stop and rest on our rigging before flying further. It's a sweet little surprise for us.

Bandaras Bay (where we are heading) is a calving ground for Humpback whales at this time of year. This should be fun. We know from our Tonga trip, that we can safely be in the water with them and near.

It's gotten quite a bit warmer - the water is in the 80s and the air is a bit above that. We're doing the night watch in shorts ;-}

The sky is fantastic! The milky way is grand.

That's the news for now.

Mary and Bill

November 9, 2004

On our way to Puerto Vallarta

We had a fun 5 days in Cabo and we're now on our way to Puerto Vallarta.

Cabo is a very touristy place. Every day at least one huge cruise ship was anchored in the bay dropping off thousands of passengers. The shuttle boats were constantly running back and forth. The street vendors were very forward in pushing their wares. Get a few blocks away from the harbor though and it quiets way down.

Most of the boats in the harbor are sport fishers. There was a major tournament that ended Sunday, with a $750,000 purse. So things were hopping.

The bars down here are quite something: Squid Row, Cabo Wabo, the Giggling Marlin are all quite famous. We did go to Squid Row Thursday night with the other cruisers and it was actually quite a lot of fun.

Friday was the Baja-Haha beach party at a restaurant/bar on the main beach. Lot's going on. The place is infested with Jet Skis, Parasailers, glass bottom water taxis and whole lot of tourists.

Cabo is quite a change from quiet Turtle Bay and Bahia Santa Maria. The general consensus of the cruisers is that it's "not Mexico", at least the tourist part that we spent most of our time in.

The prices were also quite a bit higher then the rest of Mexico, but still much less than California for many things.

One bargain - We ate lunch at an outstanding Brazilian Churrascaria yesterday. Every bit as good as the one in NY City that we've been to a few times. The total price was $13 US.

One restaurant, "Pancho's" has a tequila tasting they'll do along with food pairings (we didn't partake of this one).

We also had a very excellent Japanese dinner (we had Sushi) at "Nik Sans". Mary had a lobster hand roll with a whole lobster tail in it... YUM!

Mary also gave me my first haircut since we left. It was also Mary's first time cutting hair..... Turned out great!

We left Cabo this morning around 10 AM and should get to Nuevo Vallarta by early Thursday morning.

We'll be staying at The Paradise Village Marina & Yacht Club, see:

More news later!

Mary and Bill

November 3, 2004

Last leg to Cabo starts tomorrow

Hi Everyone!

Bahia Santa Maria is our favorite stop so far ;-}

Today was the beach party with lobster and fish. With a live band in the middle of basically a fish camp in the wilderness.

We've got everything stowed ready to leave tomorrow..... We start at 6 AM (we're on Mountain Standard time here - which basically means we never changed from Pacific Daylight time).

Everyone on this cruise has been absolutely great helping folks with their problems. It seems (knock on wood) that all our problems happened before the start of the Haha... So we've been problem free and enjoying ourselves.

All is well - we just finished a nice salad with the last of the tuna - so it's time to go catch some more!

Bill and Mary

November 2, 2004

Bahia Santa Maria

Mary here - How are you all doing? And what is happening out there?

Tomorrow we will be getting hourly reports on election results but I haven't heard any political conversations going on around here. There just are too many other things to talk about, such as the people, their histories and very recent experiences (yesterday).

We left Turtle Bay expecting a leisurely downwind sail to Bahia Santa Maria. It turned out to be a bit more boisterous. So we arrived after some time flying the spinnaker, wing on wing and good old motor with Otto (The Autopilot). He's a great fellow. (bill: looks nothing like the one in Airplane ;-}

We arrived just after sunset and had a great sleep after anchoring. This sail was 37 hours.

Doctor Radio had several patients today. So we met some new interesting people. We have been very fortunate not to have any problems since we left on the Ha Ha. It hasn't been the same for many people but there is a huge resource pool among the other sailors. And everyone is most willing to help.

We didn't fish yesterday but the fish were striking. Another boat we crossed tracks with during the day brought over some fresh ahi. Mmmmm. We just finished a nice dinner of the ahi, roast garlic potatoes, corn and some nice Zinfandel (naturally Zin). So we aren't suffering.

The temperature has gotten warmer and the water temperature is up to 72 degrees. We'll be swimming soon.

I know we warned everyone about not swamping us with mail but we may have overdone it. We'd love to hear from you.

Let me see what else Bill wants to add.

Bill here - I just realized that it's been almost two weeks since we've last checked regular email or gone onto a website (That was in the Starbucks in San Diego)! So if any of you sent us anything on any email other than via winlink.... We didn't get it (yet)!

It's interesting how many people left on this cruise without learning how to work their radios..... Fortunately, 9 out of 10 issues I've been solving have been easily fixed by showing them how to use it!

All is well here in this BEAUTIFUL bay!

Warmest regards,

Mary and Bill

October 30, 2004

Bahia de Tortugas

Here we are in beautiful Turtle Bay. A lovely little village of around 1500 people, 6 hours off the main Baja Highway down a dirt road. It's basically a fishing village with very nice folks. All the folks on the Baja-Haha added another 500 people to the population - but only for three days. This is a major event for the local folks as it occurs right near the "day of the dead" - the Mexican version of Halloween....

We didn't see lots of people during the day, but at night it was very lively, with cars driving up and down the main (dirt) street.

Today, was the "Beach Party" with a DJ, two bear concessions, a lady making excellent Carne Asada tacos and lot's of great Pot Luck dishes. Mary made a great spicy chicken pasta with a sambal peanut sauce. It was a big hit!

I've turned into "Dr. Radio"... Quite a few folks (5 so far) needed help with their Marine Radios. In all cases so far, it's been "operator error" (they didn't read the fine manual) or had programmed the frequencies incorrectly. It was greatly appreciated.

We did get to go visit these boats and made many new friends - there and at the beach party.

Some of the people we met were commenting that they couldn't catch up to our boat with the "hot pink spinnaker" on Tuesday and Wednesday.

But we've only scratched the surface getting to know folks.

Tomorrow is the start of the next leg to Bahia Santa Maria..... We start at 8 AM

Oh, Mary wanted me to tell you that I won a prize for the best nautical costume at the kickoff party last Sunday.

I took some 1 inch braided line I got as remnants, cut it into short pieces and hot glued them to a ball cap, then unraveled the ends. I took another length of rope, wrapped it around my shoulders and tied a knot in it and unraveled it's ends.....

When people asked me what I was.... I said "I'm a Frayed Knot!" That's also the punch line for an old joke ;-}

Mary went as Elle from the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad (From Kill Bill Vol. 1). Nurses outfit, big syringe needle and an eye patch....

That's the news from Turtle Bay!

Next update after we start tomorrow.

Best wishes to all!

composed by both Mary and Bill

October 27, 2004

Wendesday October 27th

Wow! This has been great! I must admit, we weren't saying that on Tuesday. We hadn't gotten into the sleep rhythm yet. But now...we are anchored in Turtle Bay, Bahia de Tortugas.

The breeze is flowing, the sun is shinning, the steaks are marinating and the champagne is chilling (thanks Denise and David). And one by one the other boats are coming in.

I knew we had a great boat but I am surprised that we left almost everyone behind us. We will see how it turns out after they factor in the motoring time. Really, we weren't racing. We are "cruisers". It just turned out that way.

Yesterday, we were swarmed by over a hundred dolphin for a short time. There are some playing around in this bay too. In the evening we maneuvered around the islands. It makes me appreciate the radar even more.

Even by the second day, we were getting used to the night watches. We've had a full moon and good visibility. Tonight, we'll watch the Lunar Eclipse while BBQing our steaks.

Now we'll rest and socialize for a couple of days, while we wait for the smaller boats. The next stop will be Bahia Santa Maria.

I like it!

Warmest regards,

Mary and Bill

October 26, 2004

The day at sea

Bill here, Mary is taking a siesta before her next watch.

All is well this evening aboard Raptor Dance!

We had a great day today and should arrive in Turtle Bay tomorrow morning.

We ran all day with our spinnaker. The winds were light but we still averaged over 7 knots. Our 24 hour run was 168 KM - great for a cruising boat.

Mary and I have been doing 3 hour watches - and it seems right for us.

Right now we're about 8 hours away from San Benito Island. We'll be passing between it and Cedros Island, on our way to Turtle Bay.

The storm that socked Northern and Southern California is forecast to pass to the North with just a little more wind. The biggest winds will be passing by when we're safely at anchor on Thursday - and even those winds are forecast to be much less than a typical day on SF Bay.

The 145 boats in the rally spread out pretty fast after the start. Most of them are behind us ;-} Of the faster ones, we only see about 3 or 4 at any given time within our visual range (about a 5 mile radius circle).

Right now (7PM) I can see only two other boats, including on the Radar within a 6 mile radius. This ocean is a big place!

Warmest Regards,
Bill (and Mary too!)

October 25, 2004

We're on our way!

The Baja-Haha started this morning at 11 AM off Pt. Loma in San Diego.

There were 167 boats that started with us.

The winds were very light in the morning - only 6 knots, but built to a maximum of 15 during the day.

We're on a beam reach and with our spinnaker, we were doing 8.2 knots, sustained with peaks speeds approaching 9! A really great day of sailing.

It's now 6:15 with a beautiful sunset and full moon tonight.

The winds have died, so we took the spinnaker down and are motoring - this is a fun rally after all and motoring is allowed ;-}

For more info, you can go to the Baja-Haha - see the link off our homepage at

Oh yea, we caught a 10 pound skip jack tuna right at 5pm. Fish for dinner tonight!


October 21, 2004

San Diego Bound! -- Finally ;-}

We got our part yesterday and the mechanic got it installed and the engine and transmission back working yesterday afternoon.

The storm blew through (lot's of rain and wind) while we were in Dana Point. We found a slip for the worst parts and all was fine.

We left Dana Point this morning at 6:45 and right now we're motoring towards San Diego (again today no favorable sailing winds). We should arrive around 4:00 this afternoon.

We're in great spirits as the sun is shining and we're back on our way!

Regards to all,

Bill and Mary

October 19, 2004

The Tale of the 10 Cent Lock Washer

Hi Everyone!

It's been a few days since you last heard from us, but that's because we've been really busy.

On Sunday, we had a really lumpy motor from the Isthmus at Catalina to Dana Point, intending to layover for the evening before heading on to San Diego Monday morning.

After entering the harbor, we throttled back, lowered the mainsail and were proceeding slowly up the channel to the Western Anchorage at Dana Point (no slips were available) when the engine just QUIT! No noises, no alarms, normal engine temperature and oil pressure.... nothing out of the ordinary.... it just stopped! --Diesels aren't supposed to do that! Also, the engine would not restart or even turn over.

We did manage, with a little tow help from another boat (a little 22 footer with a 9 horse outboard - how embarrassing) to get to the anchorage and safely drop anchor.

Those of you who have seen Raptor Dance in person, may have noticed that we have a "BIG HONKING ANCHOR" with all an all chain anchor rode (that's the line between the boat and the anchor for you non-sailors)- so we're safely at anchor in a very nice place.

I went through the list of all the possible things I could think of Sunday night and did lots of diagnosis - to no avail. I new it was something "major".

Fortunately, the anchorage is just off Dana Point Yacht club and called around and got the reference for a really great mechanic who specializes in the type of engine we have (Westerbeke). He was on the spot at 1045 Monday morning and we spent all day Monday taking the engine apart to diagnose the problem.

Something was binding inside the engine that prevented the engine from starting, running, or even to rotate freely (big scraping noise) when turned manually.

Much to everyone's surprise, when we took off the transmission, there were two bolts rattling around inside the flywheel housing (called a bell housing since it's in the shape of a bell). One of the bolts had it's lock washer in place. We didn't know where the other one got to.

At the end of Monday, it looked really bad! We might need a new engine - which would take 7 to 10 days just to get here and then 1 or 2 days to swap (not to mention the $$$$). We resigned ourselves to having to delay the San Diego family activities and probably missing the Baja-Haha, something we've been looking forward to for years ;-(

Only one more thing to take apart and check out - but that had to wait until this morning as we needed to jack up the engine and remove the back to check why the flywheel was binding. The only other time the mechanics (we had a consult going on by this time) had seen something like this before, the crankshaft was cracked and the most reasonable solution was to replace the whole engine!!!!

Well, Tuesday morning dawns and the mechanic is back on the job, using a chain lift with a 2 x 4 across the companionway to lift the engine off it's rear mounts so the bell housing could be removed. An all morning job.

Off it came and guess what - there was the missing lock washer, wedged in between the bell housing and the flywheel. The source of the problem!!!!


Reassembling the engine - and she started right up!

We're not quite back together yet, one part was worn enough to warrant replacement (the damping plate which couples the engine to the transmission). A new part should be here by 10 AM tomorrow and then the transmission will get put back on and we'll be ready to continue down to San Diego on Thursday.... If no other unforeseen circumstances arise.

That's the news from Dana Point! We're off to the yacht club next for Taco Tuesday! ;-}
Let me just put this another way.... We had a bumpy ride between Catalina and Dana Point - the least comfortable segment of the trip so far. But we were looking forward to getting in at 230 to kick back and relax the rest of the day.

Oh well!!!!!!

Then the adrenaline rush, the fire drill, watching the swing around the anchor all night in shifting winds (one boat was a bit too close for our taste) and a lot of attempted diagnosis.

By the next day we had resigned ourselves to the major change of plans, were very disappointed but were OK.

This really made us realize how much we really were looking forward doing the HaHa.

Something could still come up, but it's looking like we'll be back on track by Thursday night, in time for the family and the Haha.

Some seasoned cruising friends gave us a bottle of Champaign for when we have a really "OH S#$%" experience. It's still unopened :-}
Best wishes,

Bill and Mary

October 14, 2004

Great sail!

I sent the earlier email too soon!

Right after we rounded Palos Verdes Peninsula the wind shifted and picked up speed. We had a great sail for the last 3 hours into the Isthmus at Catalina. Winds were 12 to 15 from 50 degrees to starboard. A great close hauled/close reach. We were making faster than motoring 7.5 to 8 knots! A lovely afternoon.

This was the best sailing so far in our trip.

We grabbed a mooring and took the shore boat into Doug's Harbor reef and had our Buffalo Milk.... It was better than I remembered, but much more fat and creme! It's made from Vodka, Creme de Cacao, Creme de Minth, Kalua, whipped cream with a bit of nutmeg on top... OY! Tasty but far too rich. We then switched to beer.

That's the report for this evening!

Bill and Mary

October 13, 2004

Catalina Bound

After a great 5 days in Marina del Rey seeing family and friends, we're off to spend the next 4+ days in Catalina.

Our first stop will be the Isthmus where we'll stop for a Buffalo Milk and do some diving. For those of you who don't know. The bar at the Isthmus is "Doug's Harbor Reef" and their buffalo milk is some what akin to a pina colada, but a bit different in flavor.

On our way out of the Marina we stopped at the fuel dock. We had not refueled since Half Moon bay. Even so, we only needed 69.6 gallons of diesel. Much better than my old boat which would have used more than that just getting to Catalina and back from Marina del Rey!

The sun's back out and it's in the 70s, but the winds are still adverse so we're motor sailing. Normally Catalina is a "reach" from Marina del Rey, but today it's straight windward! Also, the wind is only 6 knots, so if we sailed - we wouldn't get in well past dark on a moonless light.... So the decision - sail and get in late - or Motor and get in by 4 turns into an easy one. Cruising is sooo different from racing ;-}

Hope you all have a great day!

Bill and Mary

October 7, 2004

Enroute to Marina del Rey

We left Santa Barbara this morning at 6:45 AM with light winds and fog limiting visibility to about 1.5 miles. That's sufficient to navigate out of the tricky Santa Barbara marina.

Santa Barbara is noted for it's extensive beaches. This, of course, means sand! Sand originates in in rivers and streams, washes down the ocean and is then carried down the coast by wave action. When the sand migration happens upon a marina, like Santa Barbara's, it tries to fill up the channel.

Santa Barbara's problem is so severe, that they have a full time dredge in operation. For us, this means that the constantly moving entrance channel is marked by buoys that the harbor patrol moves around frequently to mark the then usable channel. So it's nice to be able to see the little red and green buoys that mark the fish hook shaped channel.

We're now about 3 hours out and are using our Radar for longer range traffic spotting and backup navigation. We should be arriving in Marina del Rey this evening around 4:30.

We're now approaching one of my favorite places on the coast. I've never actually been there, but I like it because would have a great challenge figuring out it's pronunciation from it's spelling and besides, it sounds funny. It's Port Hueneme. FYI it's pronounced "why knee me", sounds like something from the WWF.

A few of you have asked about this email mechanism we're using. Winlink is a volunteer organization that has set up Amateur Radio based email relays around the world - you can get more info at and info on Amateur Radio at

Since we're using high frequency radio and bouncing off the ionosphere, the closest geographic station doesn't always work best. A lot of the messages I've been sending you have been via station WU3V in Great Falls, MT. It's 875 NM from here, but that's just a single bounce off the ionosphere. You can go to and find out about the nice fellow who set up that station. If you're curious, you can also look up my call WB6JAO and Mary's KG6GEX.

That's all for now. Time for an early lunch (bacon and avocado in a pita today).

Bill and Mary

October 4, 2004

Finally in Southern California!

Well - we made it around the famous Pt. Conception, often called the Cape Horn of California. Woopie, we've seen more wind on SF Bay and bigger seas coming back to SF from Monterey.

The journey was not uneventful, however. We had a bit of a to do, in the middle of San Luis Bay (near San Luis Obispo) when we caught a floating crab pot line in our propeller (we were motor sailing at the time in light winds). We were able to untangle it after about 10 minutes of twiddling with no damage. The bolt holding the autopilot drive also fell out about the same time, so we had to go lazaretto diving to replace it (we waited until we got to the anchorage). But hey, that's what cruising is all about!

Truly, Pt. Conception was no big deal today. Moderate winds and seas. For once, our wind vane didn't point to our bow ;-}

After rounding, we tucked in safe and sound to Cojo Anchorage, just around Pt. Conception (Santa Barbara side). Check out the map on the website - it should show us there.

For dinner, we had a nice Rosemary and Garlic infused rack of lamb, with oven roasted new Yukon Gold potatoes, broccoli and a lovely Sausal Zinfandel.

We are happy, content and (now that we're in Southern California and had a sunny day) WARM!

Regards to All!

Bill and Mary

October 3, 2004

On our way to Morro Bay

It's a beautiful morning!..... OK, it's foggy and overcast with 3 miles visibility.... (at 8AM) and cool - in the mid 50s, But it's nice and warm in the cabin.

We left Monterey this morning at 1:10 AM and are motoring as we still don't have enough wind to make Morro Bay by nightfall if we were sailing. True Wind speed is only 4.0 knots from the North.

A big difference between racers and cruisers: when there's no wind, we use the engine!

We rounded Pt. Sur at 5:05 AM and right now we're 24 Nautical Miles from Pt. Piedras Blancas on a heading of 130 Deg M, making around 7.3 knots. We should make Morro Bay by 4:00 PM.

I just sent in a position update and it should be posted on the website.

Mary is up sitting watch and I'm down below fiddling with the computer and radios.

We're having a great time and can't wait until we get to warmer weather. Mary's wearing her fleece and warm fuzzy hat.

We enjoyed watching a pod of dolphin's playing in our bow wave this morning for over an hour. There were at least 8 leaping, frolicking and having a good old time. I tried taking some stills, but they were a bit fast and it was still twilight, I'll see what comes out and put any decent pictures up on the website next time we get a good high speed connection.

Oh and (knock on wood) all systems are functioning properly - that is, nothing's broken yet.....

We are having a great time.... We should have done this years ago!

That's the morning update from Raptor Dance!

Bill and Mary

September 30, 2004

We're on our way!

Just a quick note to let you all know that we left our slip this morning at 1035 AM.

We've been busy over the last couple of days getting all the last minute preparations done, shopping stowed and getting everything ready.

We arrived in Half Moon Bay just after 4 PM this evening after - what was supposed to be a pleasant downwind sail with winds from the North West - turned out to be a slog to windward with southerly winds (from the direction we were headed).

Sometimes I think I need to replace the wind indicator on the mast as it seems to mostly point to the bow ;-}

Tomorrow, off to Monterey!

Regards to all
Bill and Mary

September 25, 2004

We're on board and testing our Radio Email

Hi Everyone!

Mary and I are busily preparing to leave next Thursday the 30th.

Gosh, there's so much to do and so many things to store and still some last minute testing and debugging.

This email post is being sent via ham radio email from a volunteer service "winlink" - see for more information. This and "Sailmail" ( will be our usual means of email when at sea and away from cities with wireless hotspots.

This is also how we send the position reports that you can see on the map on our website.

These emails go out from our onboard computer, to a special "radio modem" - which then modulates the signal on our High Frequency Single Side Band Marine Radio and communicates via radio with a number of fixed radio stations (usually in volunteer's homes) who have a similar setup that includes an Internet connection. When we're far away from land, we have a feature built in to our email program that helps us chose the right radio frequency based on the time of day, our location (from our GPS) and the location of the land station we're trying to reach. This helps us get everything right so we can bounce our radio signal off the Ionosphere to reach the other station.

If you're used to a normal Internet connection, this is "PAINFULLY" slow.... it only runs a net speed of around 2400 bits per second. Just enough for text only email with no attachments.

Fortunately, the servers that we use strip off attachments, so no 25 Meg PowerPoint presentations like I used to email around Cisco ;-}

If you want to contact us, go to our website contact us link: we've encoded our email address so we don't get spammed!

We'll continue to send out updates as we begin our trip... The next should be around the time we leave on Thursday or Friday.

Regards to all!
Bill and Mary

September 7, 2004

Update on our progress

Feel free to share our Blog and Website with any other friends and family members who haven't signed up yet. The Blog address and our Website is at

We just wanted to update you all on our progress.

We're still planning to depart SF Bay on the 29th or 30th of September.

Our current plans our to take our time cruising down the coast visiting spots like Morro Bay and the Channel Islands.

We'll arrive in Marina del Rey sometime the week of October 10th to visit with family and friends in the area and continue to San Diego to spend some time the week of October 17th prior to the start of the Baja-Haha on October 25th.

We went on a short cruise this past holiday weekend with 4 other Valiant sailboats down to Half Moon Bay (about 5 hours down the coast).

All went well with the usual minor things to attend to that any true cruiser must attend to.

Someone once said that cruising is "working on your boat" in exotic locations.

We did have a wonderful time visiting with other sailing buddies and just relaxing.

The biggest problems were 1) no wind - so we had to motor both ways and 2) annoying kelp flies - so we got to try out our hatch screens.

I hope you are all well and had a great labor day weekend!


April 1, 2004

DIY Refrigeration Fan - The Finkelstein Fan

The Finkelstein Fan
Here's an equipment tip from Bill - A slightly different version of this write up also appeared in the April 1, 2004 issue of Practical Sailor as a letter to the editor.

We used to have a problem with stuff in our boat fridge freezing and goodies in our freezer defrosting. Also, the bottom of the two boxes was around 10 F colder than the top.

Our unit is a holding plate model that relies on convection to move the air around in the box.

After a long diagnostic process, I determined that the easiest way to fix this problem was to add fans to the fridge and freezer to mix up the air

Commercial units are available ranging from $40 to over $100, but we built our own for under $10.

Granted, a high-quality unit manufactured and sold by a small business is generally more expensive than a DIY project, but fabricating an equivalent unit from a few parts is so trivial that even the most thumb-laden boat owner should be able to do it.

What used to be a 10-degree difference between the top and bottom of our refrigerator and freezer box is now uniform. The important test is that the lettuce doesn’t freeze in the fridge and the steaks don’t defrost in the freezer.


The fan is the most expensive part it's from Jameco, a great source for “geeky” electronic parts. . It’s Jameco part number 207052CP. Specifications: 12V, 0.06A (Only 1.44 Amp-Hours! Day!), 5.5 CFM (enough to stir things up, which is all you need), with ball bearings (important for longevity and continuous operation). Price: $6.95. Its dimensions are 1.6” square by .25” inch thick.

The 63-cent fan guard is Jameco part 123502CP. The pipe is 1.5” PVC (available at any hardware store) with your choice of 45- or 90-degree elbow. Plus some miscellaneous parts—wire, connectors, fuse, fuse holder, some screws, tie-wraps and/or double stick tape. Total cost: a few bucks.

Construction method:

1. Measure your box, and cut the PVC a bit shorter—allowing for any slope in the side of the box. Cut the bottom of the pipe at an angle (e.g. 45 degrees) or use another elbow so that you can rest the bottom of the pipe on the bottom of your box without blocking airflow.

2. Attach your pipe to elbow. Put a short stub of PVC in the other end of the elbow so you can use four little (#4) screws to attach the fan and fan guard to the PVC (see picture). Note: We didn’t glue anything—the snug fit was sufficient.

3. Wire up the fan to your boat’s 12V electrical system—be sure to follow proper wiring procedures. We ran the wires through the same opening in the side of the box that our refrigerant tubes pass through, and sealed things up with modeling clay. We connected two fans (one for the fridge, one for the freezer) through a fuse holder and 0.25-amp fuse to a circuit that’s always on when we’re running the fridge.

4. Attach the assembly to the inside of the box. We found it convenient to use tie-wraps, but double stick tape would also work fine.

Building the fan tube took less than 15 minutes. Mounting the two tubes and running the wires took a little over an hour.