We splashed on the 22nd and were quite happy that we managed to get back to the water before Christmas! It was nice to once again be floating on liquid. Splashing is such a crazy transitional time- the boat, out of it's element being wheeled backwards along a highway by a huge Caterpillar tractor is pushed to the ramp and after a steep entry, hopefully she floats... Of course Tao did brilliantly. Several people showed up to welcome us to the water; our new friends Paul and Cate Bishop of Coconut Express, Caleb from La Carencia, Chuck from Pura Vida (along with his dinghy/engine all ready to go that is Chris' Christmas present) were there, and before we pushed off the dock Jenny and Randy from Mystic showed up with an entire gallon ziplock full of yummy cookies. We love this San Carlos cruising community!
After a quick run on the hard to check her the evening previous, Yannie worked well in the water to get us out to the anchorage, which is good because we hadn't yet had time to bend the sails or get all of the rigging set- all of the above waterline work still awaited attention. So, a successful splash it was. Once the anchor was set the rest of the afternoon was spent reorganizing for life in a liquid world and creating a system (using the boom, a stainless steel extension out the end of the boom, the main halyard, boom topping lift, and our life sling 5:1 block and tackle) to haul up our (Chris') new 15-hp Yamaha dinghy motor (born in 1991 over 10 years younger than the rest of our engines).
Christmas Eve we joined the Bishop's in their beautiful home on the Caracol (called "the snail" for the winding roads around the peninsula at the east edge of Bahia San Carlos) for a shrimp feast put on by Jacqui whose brother Luke and friends Sean and Kim had arrived from the states and were pouring quite strong beverages making for a tasty and rowdy celebration. In turn, Christmas was a slow day for us, recovering from the craziness of splashing and celebrating.
We did manage to Skype many of our family members from the anchorage which was very special and then joined Chuck and Linda of Pura Vida and some of their friends for a gourmet Christmas celebration at their home (aka "the Rose cafe" which is the name of the restaurant they used to run together in Prescott, AZ), on the northwest side of the bahia. We brought mulled wine and decorated shortbread cookies and were treated to fun conversation and a culinary feast (starting with a tomato bisque and strawberry-pecan-spinach salad to a delicious Christmas ham along with sweet potatoes and garlic beans topped with a french apple crisp and ice cream). With our bellys full we ended our Christmas day with a mellow beach bonfire.
Although much still needed to happen on Tao, all work basically ground to a halt for the holidays. We opened presents on boxing day and set up our "Charlie Brown Christmas" tree (thanks Mum!) and sold our newly acquired dinghy (which came as a package deal with the engine) to Coconut Express, as Eeyore is just what we need aboard Tao (fully collapsible, 10-ft, high pressure inflatable floor perfect for short trips with the 2-hp Seahor and the new-to-us 15-hp for longer excursions to come). We continued the holiday by visiting with Jenny and Randy of Mystic the next day, catching up over tea and fruit, and hiking the cliffs along the west edge of the bahia after which our day was spent organizing a new "To-Do" list.
Back to work (except for the afternoon Shawn slipped away for an kiteboarding lesson from Jacqui)! It felt great to get our working sails (mains'l and 100% jib) attached and ready for use. Although there is still much to do before we'll be ready, not only did it make us feel closer to sailing, but created some much needed space in the V-berth for organization. Chris has been climbing the mast near daily and often more than once a day to run more lines (flag and spinnaker halyards, lazy jacks, reef lines), replace the mast head tricolor and wind indicator, remove the radar reflector from the backstay (to be moved to the mast head) and run a new flag halyard there for our US flag, and still more remains aloft. We have also tackled some maintenance and upgrades on Yannie- changed her oil, insulated all near engine galley hoses, re-tapped 1/8" NPT for a new oil pressure gauge and also a 3/8" NPT for a new temperature gauge and have started the never ending process of reorganizing and reprovisioning our food stores.
Some southerly flow brought swell into the bahia making the anchorage a bit uncomfortable (and mast work like riding a bucking bronco) so we've moved inside to our "secret" triangle of space that is more protected; enough for one small boat located between the mooring field and the fairway near the marina. So as the new year rolls in, we continue to chip away at projects to get all (or at least most) of the improvements that we've been plotting for the past several months underway if not fully functioning for this upcoming season of sailing. We are grateful to be together where we are as the year changes and hope you all are also taking steps toward your dreams for the amazing year to come!