Monday, June 29, 2009

Images of our adventures

The newest addition to our blog is that I've started the tedious task of uploading photos. I've placed the link above in the sidebar to the right just below our link to SPOT and above our Followers gadgets. I'm new to the Shutterfly site, so don't know all the details, but it should be free for anyone to view the pictures. You should not have to sign up at all unless you want to leave a comment (we do love to hear comments!) and then you have to make up a free account with an e-mail and a password. If you're interested in viewing our photos, I recommend looking at them in slideshow full screen mode (to do this first click on the album you want to view, next click slideshow, and finally click full screen. You can even change the speed by clicking on options). Currently I've uploaded two albums: one of our pre-trip outfitting and one with our first 3 months of cruising the Pacific from San Francisco to Cabo San Lucas. Check this link every once in a while, I plan to upload an album of our last 4 months in the Sea of Cortez soon!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The misadventures of SPOT

For all of our worries, we had an easy trip out of Mexico. The boarder patrol didn’t even ask about Grizzly and all of a sudden we were back in the States. Chuck from Pura Vida dropped us at the Motel 6 (the only hotel that actually welcomes pets) in Tucson, Arizona just after noon on June 2nd. Still reeling from the previous days of work and shell-shocked that we were suddenly in the fast paced States, Chris wondered aloud if we should send out a report because he wasn't ready yet to be barraged with cell phones. I said, no worries, we'll just leave our phones off and return calls when we're rested and ready. So, out went a SPOT report and were immediately surprised when the hotel phone rang shrilly and it was Chris’ father Dave who had done some detective work from the SPOT report and found us! Welcome Home!

The next afternoon Chuck picked us up again and we headed to Phoenix where he deposited us at the Radisson. We spent two days in luxury here thanks to While there, we put SPOT out on the balcony to send a report. For some mysterious reason the report never went out (this has happened a few times previously, probably the OK button wasn't fully pushed). More importantly, however, SPOT had a little vacation out on that small balcony as we sadly forgot him there. So many times on the boat one of us would look at the other and say, “did you bring SPOT in?” and immediately run up on deck to find him, hours after the most recent report had been sent, still blinking away at us. We were worried that taking him off the boat might be a mistake, and this worry proved founded… But never fear, he was found by the cleaning service and mailed to Chris' rafting company in Idaho from the hotel. I managed to talk Chris into taking him along as he guides down the Middle Fork and Main Salmon this summer. So this summer we will all be able to continue to follow Chris' track in the wilds of Idaho via SPOT, and hopefully there will be no more SPOT-centric misadventures.

We have heard that SPOT has been very helpful in soothing worries of those land bound that care about us, and we tried to send out near-daily reports from Tao. One downfall is that the SPOT website only displays the past 7 days of reporting so if you are interested in a longer term map of where we have been, I want to remind you that while on board we also sent winlink position reports (although less frequently than SPOT reports) via the HAM radio and you can check the past several months of those positions by clicking here: Keep checking back to the blog this summer we hope to upload several posts on our reflections of the past 7 months of adventuring as well as updates on our current whereabouts and future cruising plans. Let us know if you have any questions about our journeys and we'll try to post answers.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Race to the finish…

We had been nagged by a persistent worry of how we were going to get back to the States with Grizzly without the help of the Mexican bus system. Our back up plan was not fun, Chris taking a bus to Phoenix where we were to fly out, renting a car, driving back down to pick up Shawn and Grizzly was a lot of driving, time, money; possible, but less-than-ideal. Also less-than-perfect, but our ultimate path was a ride offered by a couple with a boat (Pura Vida) moored in Bahia San Carlos and now living ashore who were headed up to see family in Tucson and then fly out of Phoenix. The only problem with this plan was they were leaving 3 days earlier than we had planned. We lost two full days of time to get the boat in order, go gift shopping, relaxing, and it left our welcome to the States being 3 days of hotels and airport restaurant food. Still, looking at it positively, it was an otherwise perfect ride up with fun people and it forced us to efficiently (aka maniacally) close up Tao.

For those 3 days in the work yard, we raced around. We took Grizzly to the veterinarian on the Dahone for a certificate of good health for international travel, did 6 loads of laundry, climbed the mast before dawn (it gets HOT after the sun rises!) to remove the masthead light and blocks aloft, as well as cover the steaming light with foil, did a final engine flush of the Yanmar (yes, we started her on the hard!) and the Seahor(se), removed Moni and the boom, left bleach water in our water tanks to discourage algal growth, plugged all the through hulls (except cockpit drains to let rain water drain) to dissuade cockroach, spider, mosquito entry, organized on board medical supplies and food stores placing them low and in bags to hopefully survive the heat and if failure occurs reduce mess, cut and install porthole covers and grease gaskets, covered all deck gear with tinfoil, secured mosquito netting over cowel vents, cleaned the whole interior, closed down the refrigerator, removed life lines (attempted not to fall off boat!), removed all electronics, aerosols, paint, bleach, thinner, gasoline, lubricated all pumps, and organized paperwork to take to the States. Although this list might sound exhaustive, it merely scratches the surface.

The last morning (June 2nd) before our 6 am pick up from Pura Vida, we left a note for Plume, who came to ensure Tao was safely moved out of the work yard and onto hurricane posts in the dry storage later that day, and we had to fit the man-overboard-pole, boom (yes our entire boom!), spinnaker pole, whisker pole, Seahor and Moni down below just before locking up for the last time for the summer. Amid this craziness we did manage to have a few very much appreciated restful moments with friends; waffles with Estrella, dorado and New Zealand wine with Plume, and beers with Harmony; these moments kept us sane; thank you all! And all of a sudden we were on our way north to the US/Mexico border and we could start to reflect on our previous adventures and think about all the things that we had forgotten and still needed to do for our future ones.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Out of the water!

After several days of taking pictures and collecting every measurement we could think of that we might need over the summer away from the boat, we had a last dinner potluck with new boat friends (Smoke-n-Blues we met in Coyote Bay, Odyssey who since we’d seen them had exciting engine stories off San Francisquito, and Sea Tern, a couple who had just nearly lost their shaft and the 80+ year old woman dove in and hammered it back in to stop the inflow of water!) on Wednesday May 27th. We awoke the next morning early knowing the clock was ticking. We had already replaced most of our rigging with runners that we don’t mind degrading in the sun, and the mainsail was removed and taken to an awesome sail maker in San Carlos to have a third reef put in. So, no more sailing, we motored out 3 miles off shore, sent out a Spot report while we emptied our holding tank for the last time on this leg of our journey. (There are no pump-out facilities in San Carlos Bay, and sad to say, I don’t think many people take the time to go 3 miles off shore to pump out their holding tanks, Yuck!) We made our way back into the marina and tied up to a dock for one night for the first time since Ensenada.

We literally exploded onto the surrounding dock fingers. First we found a hose on the dock to borrow and washed down the deck and all deck hardware trying to reverse the corrosion that inevitably occurs. Next, we started the process of rinsing all the sails, canvas, and foul weather gear with freshwater and then hung it all out to dry before removing and folding them for the summer. We set up a 5-bucket system to rinse, then wash, then rinse, rinse, rinse, rinse all of our salt permeated lines and finally set them out along any already unused dock space (apparently we have mountains of lines aboard!).

In the midst of this craziness, Chris decided to take the cold-water wax off his surfboard for storage (yes, we have finally found warm water!). Shawn was in the bucket line with the ropes and heard a commotion along the finger of the dock we were tied to. Chris had lost a surf skeg into the water, immediately dropping to his knees to grab it, it floated down just below his fingertips and very seal like, he plopped down shoulder first, then head and finally feet slid into the water fully dressed between the dock and the next boat. He came up sputtering and cursing, his sunglasses askew. The skeg had been saved but he had lost a ¼-inch round chunk of his shin on some pipe-shaped object below the water. First aid ensued, a half-hour of irrigating the wound and then dressing it followed with close monitoring for the foreseeable future. Although wounded, the race against the clock and our 2pm haul out the next day continued. Rope washing continued (see the gauze on Chris' right shin?) and Rocky and all our other anchors were pulled off and washed along with associated rhode and chain (all together nearly 1,000 feet). As the sun set, the drying slowed and we had to leave all the ropes out for the night. We topped of the diesel with biocide, and flushed the engine and head with fresh water and vinegar. We enjoyed brief showers and basic dinner before we quickly fell into uneasy sleep thinking of all the tasks still on the list.

The next morning dawned wet- condensation, we willed the ropes to dry. We collected and re-organized all of our gear and tried to prepare the boat for hauling out. Last minute Chris had to ride the newly rinsed Dahone to the dry storage to pay the bill before hauling (we had incorrectly assumed that this could be done at the marina office), while Shawn scrubbed Eeyore’s bottom and set him out to dry, dry, dry! A persistent breeze was blowing from directly astern. Not wanting to have any motoring-in-tight-spaces-shenanigans, we lined Tao out of the too-small-slip and motored across the marina to wonderfully waiting friends from Plume, who caught our lines.

The next hour was a blur; a tractor pushed a huge trailer into the water under Tao. They hauled her up with Shawn aboard, who felt the shake as she slid- they had placed the keel support too far forward and the weight was resting forward of the flat part of keel on our cut-away. Back into the water and readjusted to the right spot, and quickly out of the water again. Tao, dripping wet and out of her element, was pushed by this tractor onto the road for a strange and thankfully quick ½ mile trip to the dry storage facility’s work yard. Once safely on stands, we checked the bottom, which looked great except for a few spots that had been knicked on the cutaway part of our keel in the first attempt out of the water, our zincs were toasted, and our propeller, rarely used, was 100% covered with barnacles. Totally physically and emotionally spent, we managed to clean the bottom before taking showers and having a nice chicken cacciatore and wine meal under the cover of mosquito nets as we mentally prepared ourselves for the 3 frantic days to follow.