Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Journal Entry – May 31, 2005 Pacific Puddle Jump Day 27 – Some Thoughts on Arrival

Author: Scott

As we approach Nuku Hiva many thoughts have been rushing through my head. There are the obvious things like ICE. It is amazing how much of a luxury ice can be in your life when you have just crossed the equator without even the use of your refrigerator, due to the broken water pump. Coconuts and pineapples filled with mysterious Polynesian concoctions and adorned with the obligatory foofy umbrella or more savage plastic sword piercing succulent tropical fruit come popping randomly into my head. We have a new fancy ice cooler on deck that will keep ice frozen for five days. If it was full of luscious ice today, I would stick my head in it until my ears turned blue. I have also been thinking of food, I know big surprise since we seem to fixate on food quite a bit in the Journal. I am not sure what we can expect on an Island with just a few thousand people, but I am beginning to salivate with visions of spiny lobsters and succulent fresh fish, not to mention a big fat juicy cheeseburger. As we get deeper into our stock of non perishable food (today dinner is chilli with three week old warm American cheese and our last sliver of onion, my stomach is drawing us closer and faster to our destination, and Pam thinks it’s the wind, no way Jose it is my great tummy magnet sucking us in to French Polynesia. In all of our cruising guides there is mention of fresh French pastries and breads baked daily, yeah baby bring those baguettes and croissants on!

There are also other personal indulgences that are filling our brains like long walks on land and cool showers (if we can find them). But I also find that I have spent a lot of time thinking about the significance of the crossing to myself. It is important to me because it is now the longest passage made by legally blind people to date, and I hope this translates as an example of the capabilities and determination that are in all people, with and without disabilities. I sure as hell hope it hits and sinks into a few peoples brains like the guy who would not let me drive my own bumper care when I was a little kid living in Santa Monica, just because I was blind. Imagine that, I wasn’t allowed to drive a car that was intended to crash into other cars, go figure. But this crossing is also a huge personal goal, in many ways more challenging than starting and running a business with my partner Steve. This trip represents years of planning and preparation, a financial commitment, and a change in my safe life in San Francisco. Now we are almost to our first major destination, after crossing nearly three thousand miles of open ocean! I am thrilled! So, you think about all of the things you will do when you get there, but these are all things you could probably do anywhere, though the venue is vastly different and probably fascinating. The real excitement is in the journey and overcoming the obstacles, like eating purple food or continuing on without an engine, and of course doing it anyway when so many said we couldn’t or shouldn’t.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Journal Entry – May 30, 2005 Pacific Puddle Jump Day 26 Tournesol Heard in San Francisco

Author: Pam

It seems after our magical moment with King Neptune and the others, he gave a tug on the wind chain (or contacted his connections) and we have been flying since crossing the equator. We have been averaging 6.5 knots and made 150 miles in 24 hours, a record since the beginning of our voyage. With this wonderful wind there are also some pretty good sized waves, bumping and banging over the port side of the boat, including through the hatch and on our head while sleeping on occasion. This makes our ride a bit like being on a bumpy roller coaster, but no complaints though, we are flabbergasted by the speed. Our celebration dinner was pretty yummy, well except for the Bananas Foster. Another treat for Nemo, perhaps the salt water helped soften the bananas. It was not the best first experience with freeze dried food, hopefully the other delicacies we have on board “unfreeze” or whatever they are suppose to do better than the bananas. We finished “An Ocean to Cross” in the afternoon after crossing the equator. We highly recommend this book, very inspirational. We started “The Incredible Journey”, a story about two dogs and a cat and their journey out in the wild as they search for their home. We decided it was time for a little break from sailing books. After the excitement of yesterday and the rolling of the boat we didn’t have a lot of energy to cook today, so we had soup for lunch and clam chowder for dinner. It can be quite a challenge to keep up with your soup in these conditions, but it seemed to do our heart and soul good as they say. We got an e-mail from our friend Richard Wallace today and learned after a number of attempts he finally heard us check in on the Amigo Net, right before we crossed the equator. How cool is that. We knew he had been taking his shortwave radio and various other equipment, including an antenna he was stringing from a tree to the park near his house (while he walked the dog) for several days in attempt to hear us. He was very persistent and extremely creative. It sounds like he had as good reception as Net Control and us, if not better. We did not have good reception and we announced that day it would be our last check in on the Amigo Net. I have been trying to conjure up the image of him standing in the park with electronics set-up at 7:00 am in the morning. He said no one approached him, maybe they thought he was trying to connect with aliens. Even the police officer who decided to stop by and enforce the leash law didn’t ask him what he was up to and fortunately only gave him a warning since Willie had had a short romp off leash. Besides his attempts to hear us on the radio, Richard has also been posting all of the journal entries we have submitted since leaving for the crossing. We do not have internet access (only access to send and receive e-mail through our SSB radio), so we send him a text e-mail with the copy and he proofreads them several times and then he posts the entries. Thanks Richard for all of your amazing support and friendship!

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Pacific Puddle Jump Day 25 A Very Important Journal Entry

This morning felt like Christmas. At last we were going to cross the Equator. With the crossing into the southern latitudes comes an important maritime tradition. The following is an excerpt from our Pacific Puddle Jump Book written by Don Anderson that describes this ritual: "Those who have never crossed the equator are called Pollywogs. On crossing the equator for the first time, one is immediately elevated to the title of Shellback and is entitled to hold that distinguished appellation until confined to the deep. On crossing the equator at any time and in either direction, all hands must toast King Neptune by individually pouring over the side, a wee dram of the most expensive beverage in the liquor locker. A few years ago, a Pollywog told me that it was OK if the libation had recently been filtered through the kidneys. Now I am not usually superstitious, BUT, shortly thereafter that fellow became a permanent resident of Davy Jones' Locker." We have been chomping for days to hold this sacred ceremony and earn the title of Shellback. After taking our morning position we set about preparing for the crossing. We pulled special bottles out of their resting place under the navigation station seat (that King Neptune is sure a party animal drinking at nine in the morning). We got our theme song for the event cued up in the stereo and brought out all the necessary paraphernalia on deck. As we approached the equator Pam stood in the cabin and read off the GPS in real time while Scott helmed the boat. Right before crossing we hove to in hopes of drifting over the equator, unfortunately the wind pushed us in the opposite direction. So as not to drift off to Hawaii, we returned to sailing and slowly sailed across the equator into the southern hemisphere. We crossed at exactly 0910 (PDT). We immediately fired up our chosen song for the crossing "Somewhere over the Rainbow" by Isriel Kamakawiwo'ole (a Hawaiian version). We heaved to again, this time in the southern latitudes, as "Somewhere over the Rainbow" continued to play. We were stopped in place with only a slight drift and Scott pulled off his shirt and dove into the ocean for a swim across the equator. It was a quick swim, so as to avoid any hungry mouths that may be lurking, and to avoid a marathon swim back to the boat. The water was warm and crystal clear. Once back on deck we both made a toast to King Neptune and read a poem and toast that we had written in advance. We each gave Neptune a healthy slug and then shared a sip ourselves (our individual poems are posted as separate journal entries). After toasting we read a card given to us from Kathy Abrahamson that she gave to us for the crossing. Pam finished off the festivities by presenting Scott with a special gift, an alligator squirt gun. The ceremony was a little silly and at the same time deeply moving for each of us. What an accomplishment to sail to the other side of the planet! We have made the entire day a holiday with a feast planned tonight. On the menu is a canned ham, baked potatoes, French cut green beans, and a freeze-dried package of Bananas Foster (thanks for dessert Mike and Randy). We will also polish off our wine from the morning's ceremony. At noon we got one of our first incoming satellite phone calls from our friends Kenneth and Sylvia congratulating us on our equatorial crossing. It was nice to hear friendly voices from home out in the middle of this vastness. As we bask in the glow of our equatorial crossing we now have our sights eagerly set on reaching Nuku Hiva and completing this first important step of crossing the Pacific Ocean.

Journal Entry – May 29, 2005 Scott’s Toast to Neptune

Author: Scott

Here is to Neptune and Poseidon, who preside over the ocean blue.
And if you don’t mind us saying a quick hello to our little friend Nemo too.

After years of prepping and planning, we have finally reached this hallowed spot
And now that we are finally here, I must say your home is freaking hot

Tournesol has done well, and she is sailing like a young pup.
She got here with only her sails, without ever giving up.

You have shared so much with us, even without all of our sight
You gave us dolphins, fiery sunsets, and even a rainbow at night

I do have a humble request; please see what you can do
You see my fishing has been lacking, could you spare one or two?

Pollywogs we were yesterday but today Shellbacks are we
Perhaps the first that use white canes, and a monocular to see

So thank you for keeping us safe and out of Davy Jones’ hands
And for guiding us in our little boat until we reach the land

Today we have brought you a nip of the finest Sonoma has made in years
We raise our glasses to you both, and wish you a mighty cheers!

Journal Entry – May 29, 2005 Pam’s Poem to Neptune

Author: Pam

Attitudes and Latitudes: What a thrill, to be here almost standing still. Where North meets South, pouring a wee dram into Neptune, Poseidon and Nemo’s mouth. I have never under estimated the power of the sea, and now it is my turn to find out all of the effects it can have on me. As I cross your waters, thank you for helping to show me what matters. When I next cross 0 latitude, I am sure there will be changes in my attitude.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Journal Entry – May 28, 2005 Pacific Puddle Jump Day 24 The Day that Slipped Away

Author: Scott

Today was one of those days that just slips on by and is over before you know it. We realized late yesterday that we would not make the equator until Sunday, so we had to postpone the festivities one more day. Much of the morning was spent lounging and reading independently. Our food during the day was simple, cereal and Zone bars, and more fruit cocktail and peanut butter and crackers. I looked at my watch after lunch and somehow time marched forward to 1630 almost an hour and a half later than we usually start reading together. We got through another couple of chapters in our book and started cleaning up for dinner.

Fish Report: Before dinner I checked the Charlie Tuna Line and after hauling it in, I noticed that though the lure was in tact, the hook was missing. I had put one of the fish captured on deck on the line for bait, and it looks like it was swallowed along with the hook. This completely exhausts the useable inventory of fishing lures and gear, and so sadly there will be no further fishing reports until we can get a new supply somewhere in the South Pacific. These darn fish are proving to outwit me! What will we do with our wasabi powder? Maybe we can eat it with our fruit cocktail. Fish 11 (plus 2 lures and a hook) – Tournesol 0

The evening was restful with a good long “chill session” then we topped off the day with Pam’s favorite dinner, spaghetti with clam sauce. Then it was off to bed and our watches for our big date with Neptune in the morning.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Journal Entry – May 27, 2005 Pacific Puddle Jump Day 23 Maybe New Friends in Nuku Hiva

Author: Pam

The day began with the morning check in to the Amigo Net. The goal of the Net is for the cruising community to stay in touch and as a venue to keep your whereabouts known. The Amigo Net is for the cruising community in Mexico, but it has been fun to keep in touch with the friends we made. One of the things you can do while checking in is contact other boats (call traffic) to say hello… We were contacted this morning by Novia, they are the only other boat still making the crossing that we know of. This morning they were about 100 miles ahead of us. We have never met them, but we look forward to meeting them in Nuku Hiva, their destination also. At 0900 we tried to reach Abe and Amy on the SSB radio, we had prearranged a time through e-mail. We could hear Amy, but she couldn’t hear us. We tried again at 1400, but nothing was heard. It looks like the distance has gotten too great for us to communicate on the radio. They are on their way to El Salvador, so it looks like e-mail and hopefully Skype, the internet phone service we are now signed up for will have to suffice. We look forward to connecting with them soon.

Today was a beautiful day, clear, steady wind (we averaged 4 knots) and not a drop of rain. We spent some time this afternoon taking care of miscellaneous boat chores and reading. We are making good progress in “An Ocean to Cross”. We plan to contact the authors Liz and Pete the next time we have an internet connection, they are living in Fort Lauderdale, FL. It would be tons of fun to meet them one day. We had ramen for lunch and nachos for dinner (with Velveeta Cheese food). No fish report today.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Journal Entry – May 26, 2005 Pacific Puddle Jump Day 22 So What Did You Do Today?

Author: Scott

It is a great feeling to be moving again. The trade winds are amazing, continuous and fresh, they spoil us. Never before have we enjoyed such uninterrupted sailing, and our hearts sink a little if we manage to drop below three knots.

We are building up quite a routine these days. I am up every day at 0700 to take a position and usually pass this information on to the Amigo Net. Next is breakfast with me usually opting for cereal and Pam often choosing a Zone Bar. Mornings tend to be personal time either individually reading, or meandering away in personal projects. At 1130 we take another position and then create a YotReps position report to be emailed so our web page will be updated with our whereabouts, and then we answer and prepare emails. We also check the Coast Guard frequencies for weather (if we can get it). At about 1300 we send all of this information off into the either via the SSB radio modem and through the wonders of technology the information is disseminated. We are currently having the best luck sending to the West Panama SailMail station. It is a strange feeling being closer to Panama than San Diego. Usually about now we start thinking of lunch. Lunch is usually a lighter meal and tends to be served cold, since it is often too hot to cook. Today we had soda crackers and peanut butter, with a can of fruit cocktail, and let it be known that fruit cocktail is seriously underrated. I love the stuff. I was thinking just the other day that my land based shopping will be different in the future, because of renewed loves such as fruit cocktail, peanut butter and Velveeta cheese product. After lunch we usually work on projects and then take a boat tour to look for potential problems, and to get a change of scenery. When 1500 hits we settle down in the cockpit with each of us perched in their respective cushioned chairbacks and we read together. After two hours of reading we may have to go shopping in the V-berth for dinner groceries or for the following day’s meals. Also, every other day is egg turn day, when we flip the eggs to keep them fresh. Once things are ready for the evening meal we settle down for our “chill hour” and listen to music and sometimes enjoy a little nip. This is usually the time of day where we talk, plan, and spend time together. After the “chill hour” we prepare the evening meal, tonight it was fried rice with chicken, water chestnuts, and even canned peas. Pam would not touch the peas or chestnuts. After dinner there is the nuisance of dishes, we sometimes watch a movie on the computer or we just hang out in the cockpit and look at the sky, or we start our watch schedule early and end the day.

Today after dinner we tuned into frequency 8.188.00 on the SSB radio to try to catch the Puddle Jumpers Net and for the first time we heard our friends from Zihautanejo who left for the South Pacific before us. We talked to both Grasal and Costa Vida and it looks like we will all be in Tahiti at the same time!

From 1600 to midnight we had squalls that continually crept up and dumped rain on Tournesol and blasted us with wind. We would just open all the ports and hatches for air and we would have to close them all again. We may be out of the ITCZ but we are sure still getting rainy equatorial weather.

Fish Report – Another day of no luck even with my collected dead fish bait! Fish 10 – Tournesol 0.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Journal Entry – May 25, 2005 Pacific Puddle Jump Day 21 Cruising in the SE Trades

Author: Pam

Once we hit the 12 knots of wind we were on the move again at a nice steady pace all night. However, with this wind and new wind direction also came the more than familiar waves hitting us on the port bow. Again, sometimes with such force it sounds like you just hit the side of a barn. Also on this outside edge of the ITCZ we encountered the strongest squalls so far, they started at 1530 in the afternoon and continued until 0700, packed with rain (we caught enough for our next bug shower) and wind, sometimes up to 25 knots. We also got our first bit of lightening at 0530. Fortunately we were through it quickly and without it being too scary. We did not have enough warning for the chain to go over the side, but the handheld GPS, VHF radio and video camera went into the oven. Next time the computer will go too, but in the moment that didn’t happen. Scott also disconnected the antennas from the SSB and VHF radios. It is confirmed we are definitely in the SE trades, yippee!!!

As mentioned once we hit the SE trades we tacked to port. Except for a very short period we have been on a starboard tack. Well, I am here to tell you life is a bit more challenging on a port tack. I never really thought about it too much, but I also didn’t have days and days to look forward to. If there are waves hitting you on the nose, cooking and washing dishes are an Olympic event, the galley is on the port side of the boat, so everything rolls of flies to starboard. While making lunch, the jar of pickles (I took my eye off it for one second) and the knife covered with mustard went flying halfway across the cabin. Of course the knife grazed the edge of my clean pillowcase and left a lovely mustard and deviled ham blob. Speaking of Jamon del Diablo (Devilled Ham), that was a blast from the past. I don’t think I have eaten it since I was ten. As you can see we have all the old standbys on board in attempt to fill the need for protein. What a challenge. Back to the port tack, we sleep on the settees, of course the smaller one is on the starboard side, not as comfortable as the bigger one on the port side. For some reason we can not figure out, the steps creak on a port tack, it can be so noisy you feel like you are in a torture chamber during your nighttime watches. Then there is the matter of the head, also on the port side of the boat. You feel as though you will be pitched forward at any second (mostly those waves again) and that is while the toilet seat is smacking you in the back if you are me. Figuring out a solution for that is on the to-do list. Then lastly it seems all of the storage spaces on the port side have more room for shifting their contents, so everything has a tendency to rearrange itself. Bottom line, life is more comfortable on this boat on a starboard tack, tough luck though it is a port tack the rest of the way.

While touring the deck today Scott came back with two small fish that had landed on board. He decided after reading “Kon Tiki” they would make good bait. The worst part was the one he saved for later in the plastic cup in the cockpit, not smelly really just kind of gross. Well, he is getting more creative, but after today it remains Fish 9, Tournesol 0.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Journal Entry – May 24, 2005 Pacific Puddle Jump Day 20 Purple Food and Rainbows

Author: Scott

The day started with a little wind at last; just be have our hopes dashed as the wind vanished at 13:00. The sun cooked us for yet another day of fun in the sun in the ITCZ. The doldrums are turning out to be everything we were promised and then some. Of course if we had use of our engine, we would rip across the ITCZ and find the southeast trades, but because we are in pursuit of the real deal and because we have no spare for our circulation pump, we are braving the doldrums like real sailors. We did break out the staysail today, this is a secondary headsail that is flown behind the main headsail and attaches midway up the mast. This sail will allow us to quickly change sail area for weather, and provides for greater sail area in times of fair wind. At the end of our sweat fest we were rewarded because today is bug shower day, and as the sun began to set we broke out the bug shower and had a chance to use our collected rain water. The water was clean and pure and soon we were squeaky clean.

Tonight’s dinner was a foray into the fine world of canned food cooking; we finally tried to make something with canned corned beef. Yankee Red Flannel Corned Beef Hash was the delicacy on the menu! Our dinner was comprised of canned new potatoes, canned beets, a dash of milk, and of course canned corned beef. I knew we might be in trouble as I opened the can of corned beef to reveal a congealed mass that looked like a cross between silicone gel, dog food, and grated brains. I held tough, handed the can back to the galley and hoped for the best. Pam grew up eating hash and said that hash can be delicious. My next job was to mash up the potatoes and beets and I got a kick out of the purple hew that dinner was taking on.

Pam said that she thought things were going well, until she added the milk. Apparently milk is not a normal ingredient in hash, but Pam being true to the recipe boldly moved forward. Pam cooked away but the substance refused to brown and stubbornly kept it’s baby food properties. There was just no frying this blob, and so we decided to release it from the pan, and give it a go. “If you don’t like it you don’t have to eat it, and we can always have ramen instead”, said Pam. You know how it is when you bite into something and think maybe it will get better, well this was not one of those times; I knew that the purple paste was not going to get any better. I cautiously asked Pam what she though of dinner and she said that it has the right taste but the wrong consistency, so I persevered through two thirds of my serving. At that point I whispered an apology to Nemo and sent the remainder of my dinner over the side, “Sorry old sport, but you got to take the bad with the good, maybe I will have some crackers and peanut butter for you tomorrow.” In the end Pam agreed that din-din really was not very good and so we made a pact to try to barter off our eleven remaining canes of corned beer in the South Pacific, it is supposedly a high demand item. Lobster for corned beer, could it be possible? From now on we will stick to canned chicken and tuna, even Spam will be welcomed with open arms.

Pam passed out a round of Tums and we settled down in the cockpit for a late “Chill Hour” and as we sat there discussing the hazardous hash dinner the clouds built and built until we had an ominous black beast hanging just off our port quarter. The clouds soon turned to squalls and we had heavy rains and winds from varying directions. We had to abandon the self steering vane and hand steer when the wind became too fluky to hold a course. The weather was intense but never really scary. We were just sent sailing off in many directions just to turn off and head in another direction. We tried to edge our way south, away from the ITCZ, but continued on in the chaos for hours. During our frenzied sail we were visited by a dolphin or whale, we could not see it but we could hear it making squeaks, and we could hear the telltale sound of their breathing. It was almost as if we were visited to let us know that there would be an end to this mess.

Around midnight we were engulfed in a particularly dense and nasty rain cloud. We sailed on through the blackness until all at once we were free and under an inky sky with a blazing moon. Just then I saw something that I have never seen before, the moon was so bright that it made two distinct rainbows across the cloudy sky. We both blurted out “look at that” at the same time. With so many things that we do not visually see on this trip, such as much of the varied sea life (I certainly have not caught any), it is magical when we get the opportunity to see such an amazing site as our moonlight rainbows. It is something I will never forget. As we were staring at the sky with monoculars in hand, another incredible thing happened, the wind hardened with zeal in the sails and the anemometer said we had a twelve knot breeze directly from the southeast, and we fell into a port tack. We had reached the southeast trade winds and the end of the ITCZ. What an exit!

Monday, May 23, 2005

Journal Entry – May 23, 2005 Pacific Puddle Jump Day 19 Just Another Day in the Doldrums

Author: Pam

Another day in the ITCZ brought clear skies, calm seas, little wind and a hot day. We are finding it more difficult to feel motivated without the relief of the wind combined with this heat. As the wind became very light and fluky in the middle of the day we took half hour shifts hand steering in the heat. Thank goodness for our portable MP3 player, music helped passed the time as we melted into a puddle. We kept this up for a couple of hours and then enlisted the help of the auto pilot for a very short amount of time due to the need to reserve power. Though the wind remained light, it was less fluky and the wind vane stepped back up to the plate and held our course. When we were not steering we respectively spent most of the day reading, which included finishing “The Long Way”, by Bernard Moitessier. It is an interesting account of how his participation in a race around the world solo turned out to be a personal quest for where he wanted to go next in his life and an inside look at what happened in and to his mind in the process of getting there. We do hope we don’t go off our rocker as he apparently did. The next book on our reading list of books we are reading together was a gift from our friends John and Joanne on Western Grace, “An Ocean to Cross” by Liz Fordred. It is a remarkable story about two young people who became paraplegic at eighteen and nineteen years old and by the time they were in their early twenties they had decided to build a boat and go sailing (they had no experience with either). Their mission was very similar to ours, to inspire people with disabilities and to set the bar for what can be done.

The Charlie Tuna line went over again today and came back with an empty lure again, well at least the lure was still there, Fish 8, Tournesol 0. It was too hot to get very fancy in the galley today, so dinner was clam chowder. This happens to be one of our favorite canned meals, so ok by us. Just as we were finishing dinner, the moon began to rise as a big yellow ball of light (the color of the sun), it was the most spectacular full moon we have ever seen. We felt like a spotlight was being shown on Tournesol and wished we had some way of taking a picture.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Journal Entry – May 22, 2005 Pacific Puddle Jump Day 18 Becalmed Again

Author: Scott

The day started off with a little decent wind, and then all of a sudden there was absolutely no wind, just Pam, Tseen the movie “Master and Commander” there is a scene where they are becalmed and the ship just sits ournesol and myself slogging around in the ITCZ. It was HOT today! If you have there with sails sagging in the blazing heat, well that was us today. In the movie a shunned crew member must jump to his fate in Davy Jones’ locker before the wind would return, we have not had to resort to that extreme yet. Further north from our position is the Hors Latitudes, this is the latitude where the Pacific High settles in and due to the high pressure there is very little wind produced. This region is called the Horse Lattitudes because when sailing vessels of old were becalmed and water was in short supply, the crews would offload the horses in the middle of the Pacific to save the drinking water for themselves. Pam and I do have plenty of water, so there will be no offloading of anyone if we remain in the ITCZ with little wind.

We didn’t fish today because it was so hot, but we are convinced that there are a few out there. Over the past few days we have found a number of small flying fish on deck and one bona fide real fish. By the time we find them, they have hardened in the sun and you have to pry them off with a paper towel. Not much good for eating, perhaps we can start making key chains out of them.

The wind did finally pick up with dinner (Cappelini Alfredo with chicken) and the moon was unbelievable bright. We ended our hot becalmed day at sea, under a beautiful moon, gently sailing south again.

Journal Entry - May 22, 2005 Adios Mexico

Author: Scott and Pam

Please excuse the poor formatting of the following journal entry. Much of the entry is in list format, but our publishing software puts all journal entries into a single paragraph format. We have attempted to compensate for this, but the end product is still a little difficult to read.

Now that Mexico is over 1500 miles astern and we have had some time to reflect on our experiences we wanted to share some of our fondest memories and impressions of the culture. While cruising in Mexico for nearly six months we made the following landfalls, Turtle Bay, Cabo San Lucas, Los Frailes, Bahia de los Muertos, La Paz, Isla Isabela, Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara (road trip) Tenecatita, Ixtapa, Zihautanejo, Barra de Navidad and finally Nuevo Vallarta. Rising to the top of the list of great experiences while cruising in Mexico was the lifelong friendship we developed with Abe and Amy Oros, also known as A Squared. We could not have asked for better friends to share the experiences of breaking into the adventure of the cruising life. We ate well in Mexico and we are missing the food already. Some of our favorites were:

Best Cheeseburger – Paradise Found, La Paz: Best Ice cream – La Fuente, La Paz: Favorite Authentic Dish - Molcajetes – Alcatraz, Barra de Navidad: Best Sushi – Tsunami, Puerto Vallarta : Best Steak – Ruth Chris Steakhouse, Cabo San Lucas: Second Best Steak – Rick’s Bar, Zihautanejo : Best Chicken Taca – Paradise Found, La Paz: Best Guacamole – Pipi’s, Puerto Vallarta: Strongest Margarita – Hotel in Los Frailes: Best Margarita – Vallarta Yacht Club, Nuevo Vallarta: Favorite Coffee Shop & Internet Café – Theory Café, Cabo San Lucas: Best Street Taco – Super Taco, La Paz: Best Caesar Salad – Bogart’s Restaurant, Ixtapa: Worst Wine – 20 pesos ($1.90) Boxed wine from Commercial Mexicana: Best Breakfast – Mr. Cream, Puerto Vallarta : Favorite Restaurant – Kaiser Maxamillions, Puerto Vallarta : Best Bar – Rick’s Bar, Zihautanejo: Best Grocery Store for provisions – Commercial Mexicana, Zihautanejo

Some of our favorite experiences while cruising in Mexico were: Favorite Outing – Jungle River Trip, Rio de Iguana in Tenecatita: Best Beach – Tenecatita: Best Sail – Los Muertos to Isla Isabela, surfed along at a high of 11.8 knots: Favorite Anchorage – Bahia de los Muertos: Best Marina – Paradise Village Marina, Nuevo Vallarta Least Favorite Cultural Experience – Bullfights in Puerto Vallarta: Most Interesting Cultural Experience – The Celebration for Our Lady of Guadalupe (Festival lasted all night), La Paz

While traveling in Mexico we noted a few interesting observations about the culture, among them were: Only men drive taxis and the rates are fixed for each destination, usually no surprises (always good to ask the rate before getting in): Women rarely wait tables: Disability is almost never discussed: La Paz and Guadalajara had the best wheelchair ramps and accessibility, the rest of Mexico had narrow to no wheelchair ramps and unbelievably uneven sidewalks, it is a wonder we did not break our neck or something:: In Puerto Vallarta left turns are made by starting in the far right lane, scary: Buses range from 4 to 12 pesos (.40 - $1.20) and we think they may be privately owned. They all drive with the front door open and barely stop when it is time to get off. However we found it to be an efficient way to get around: Children work as young as eight years old. At the grocery store there is usually a line of boys and girls waiting to take their turn to help bag your groceries and help you out of the store. Once outside the store there are more boys to help you get a taxi and transfer your groceries. Upon arriving at some destinations in a taxi, young boys will open your cab door and offer you a hand if you are a woman. We also saw many young boys working in restaurants bussing tables, pouring coffee… Except for in restauranst a tip is expected and paid directly to the one or sometimes more than one that is “helping” you: When you are out and about in the evening in most towns and cities there are always Mariachi musicians or individual street musicians offering to play a song, for a tip of course. It always adds to the festive atmosphere: Overall we saw very little panhandling or for money to just be handed over, almost always if money was requested it was in return for goods or services, this was a welcome change from our experience living in San Francisco: We only did our own laundry when we stayed at the time share. At all laundry mats there is someone who will wash and fold your laundry for usually a dollar more a load then if you did it yourself, who could pass up that deal: At restaurants you have to ask for your check, it is considered impolite to ask you if you are ready for your check. To that end you never feel rushed. Also, the politeness in general was very refreshing. You are always greeted by an acknowledgement of the time of day, asked how you are and please and thank are always used, this is consistent throughout all of Mexico: A couple of food observations: Most of the eggs are sold unrefrigerated. Boxed milk is very prevalent, both of these items made provisioning easier. Scott likes the milk, I have only tried the chocolate. It is very difficult to find mayonnaise not flavored with lime, go figure, we didn’t care for it. You can buy roasted chicken in every supermarket for 45 pesos ($4.50). In the grocery stores there is a much stronger personal service element, all meat, delis and usually a separate cheese counter are staffed and serve you directly, also these people are always wearing surgical masks. Open markets are much different from grocery stores, you can usually find almost anything, including pigs feet with fur, that was gross.

Our most fulfilling experience in Mexico was our visit to the School for the Blind in Guadalajara. One of our primary goals is to learn about services for people who are blind and visually impaired around the world and to share our personal and professional experiences. This visit was enlightening and worthwhile for all involved. We look forward to our next opportunity, wherever that may be.

In general, we found Mexico to be a beautiful country that widely varies in its many micro climates, from scorching dry desert to lush tropical jungles. The people of Mexico are genuine and helpful and very good natured. If ever in true need, you would always find a helping hand. Though poverty is still evident throughout all of Mexico, the total impression is that of a people closing the gaps between classes. Everyone has a cell phone, but you still can’t send a reliable letter. The cruising community is strong with so many lovely places to visit, but the sailing is disappointingly inconsistent.

This journal entry only represents a few of the impressions left behind after our visit to Mexico, and it only scratches the surface of the total experience. We will be submitting follow up journal entries of this type after departing each country.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Journal Entry – May 21, 2005 Pacific Puddle Jump Day 17 – It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane…

Author: Pam

We are officially in the ITZC, the wind died around 0200 and after trying to squeak some movement out of the sails that were slapping around we hove to until 0700. While being hove to the sails and the helm work to counteract each other, therefore stopping the boat. It is a technique that is used in many different situations. In this case it allowed us a bit of piece and quiet and for the boat to not fight to try to go somewhere with no wind. We could also heave to in the future if we need to wait to go into a harbor for daylight or not fight strong winds in a storm. It is great to have in your hip pocket even for when the need comes up to regroup or just rest. However, sitting still is not what we want to be doing right now. There continued to be very little wind all day. The wind vane was struggling, so we hand steered or hove to again until the evening. At 0900 we had a mysterious visit from a helicopter. The “bird” flew to directly overhead, circled once and headed back. It was very strange. They were obviously checking us out for some reason, because as soon as they flew overhead they flew back from where they came from. There may have been identifying information, but this is the kind of information we can not see. It was a good thing we were not taking a shower in the cockpit at that time. J Our first official day in the doldrums was pretty low key and very hot. We really didn’t feel like doing anything, except read. Scott did brave the big blue again and threw the line in, Fish 7, Tournesol 0. I am beginning to think we will have better luck in the Southern Hemisphere. So no fish for dinner once again, we had beef stew and mashed potatoes and watched the second half of “Raising Arizona”, it’s an odd movie, but we liked it. It could be that we are easily entertained right now. The wind picked up and we started making 3-4 knots around 1900, just in time for bed. The wind vane was able to steer all night, with Scott babysitting it.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Journal Entry – May 20, 2005 Pacific Puddle Jump Day 16 – Crossing the ITCZ

Author: Scott

What’s special about today? Well, today completes a full week since we lost the use of our engine out here in the Pacific. So far, it is turning out to be a small inconvenience and is certainly giving the trip an altogether different flavor than it may have had. We still manage to keep plenty busy, and if I had a complaint it would only be that we have limited use of the computer, and we have quite a list of computer tasks, like updating the photos on the website. Each day continues to be a power management game, and for now we are winning with each day adding a little more juice to the battery banks. The wind is starting to ease up a little as we enter into the ITCZ and I wonder if this will be the real disappointment to losing our engine. Normally when boats hit the edge of the ITCZ they fire up the old iron sail and dash across the ITCZ with gust to meet the Southeast trade winds on the other side. We will not be able to do any dashing, so we will meander across as the wind sees fit.

We used a chunk of the day to brush up on and discuss our emergency procedures for a man overboard situation and unlikely but possible lightning strike. We even took out an extra piece of anchor chain to be used in an electrical storm. You can shackle the chain to a shroud and then wrap the chain around a few times, then drop the remainder into the drink. This allows the chain to ground the mast to the water directly and guides the electrical flow from a lightening strike safely into the water. Tournesol is also very well grounded to the keel through her standing rigging. In a potential storm we would also put small electronics into the oven for insulation and grounding. People are rarely hurt in electrical storms but usually the biggest casualty is the electronics aboard.

Fish Report - After emergency drills I returned to the scene of the crime and decided to get back out there and face the giant fish creature. With a little courage I threw my last lure over the side and waited for the chomp. No chomp came and then no fish came all day. Maybe the big guy was attracted to the pepperoni I had on the lure the other day. Fish 6 – Tournesol 0.

Dinner was a bit of an experiment today. We had made extra rice yesterday and so we made fried rice with onions, garlic, soy sauce, and canned chicken. We also heated up some canned green beans. The end result was pretty good and we will for sure repeat the fried rice. Green beans on the other had will only be eaten upon necessity, they are just so squishy and unappetizing. We can send people to the moon, but can we make a decent canned green bean?

As the sun set we were given a taste of the kind of weather we may see in the ITCZ. Large squally clouds passed overhead with tinges of grays and browns, all heavily laden with water. They were huge and majestic, but not necessarily ominous, substantial comes to mind. I have never seen clouds quite like these ones near the equator. I almost feel like we are slowly headed into a prehistoric land.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Journal Entry – May 19, 2005 Pacific Puddle Jump Day 15 – First Day in the ITCZ

Author: Pam

The day started with a squall again at 0700, this one dropped the most rain so far. How strange we have had a squall at the same time the past two days. We were able to catch enough rain to completely fill the rest of the bug shower and a little extra. We both got a little chilled from being out in the rain, we made oatmeal and Scott made coffee, it was nice to have something warm for the sake of getting warm. The sun came out around 10:00 and it was hot and sunny all day (no more oatmeal needed), it was a great day for making solar power. We took our third bug shower in fifteen days this afternoon under very warm skies. As mentioned early on in the trip we have been struggling with a couple of leaks and extra water flowing around the inside of the cabin and bilge, nothing at all dangerous just a nuisance. The bilge was filling with water and needed to be pumped everyday, which just wasn’t making any sense. So Scott rolled up his sleeves (so to speak, he hasn’t worn a shirt since we left I think) and started poking around in the bilge. Long story short he found the culprit, the bilge pump was actually letting water in when the boat heeled sharply to port. There is an anti sipnhon hose that normally prevents water from sloshing back through the bilge outflow through hull fitting, and it appears that we squashed the hose down when we loaded water bottles into the same compartment as the hose. Scott temporarily plugged the through hull and all is fine for now. We will unsquash the anti siphon hose when we get to Nuku Hiva. We had Zone meals for lunch today. Zone Perfect is a sponsor of the circumnavigation. They produce a balanced meal that has been vacuumed packed and cooks in five minutes in boiling water. We cooked them in sea water which worked out just fine. We also have Zone bars, which we eat frequently for breakfast or if the seas are too rough to cook. The final Zone product on board is a shake mix that you mix with water. I prefer to mix it with at least cool water, so I am waiting to be able to use water that has been in the refrigerator, once we are able to use it again. We are very appreciative of Zone Perfect’s support.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Journal Entry – May 18, 2005 Pacific Puddle Jump Day 14 – Scott’s Nemesis

Author: Scott

Today we passed the halfway point to the Marquesas, and though that needs mentioning it is not what is truly important today. For the big news we need to jump right to the fish report.

Fish Report: Just when I was going to write a journal entry stating there were no fish in the Pacific Ocean, I become a believer. I now believe that there is at least one giant fish, shark, sea monster, Godzilla, or something… I set out fishing as I do almost every day. I toss my lure off the back and troll out about 50’ of high strength cord connected to at least 200 pound test monofilament line. Not that I want to catch a 200 pound fish, but since the fish and boat are both moving it is necessary to have a strong line. After deploying the trolling line I continue the routine of the day. Much later in the day we are starting to wind down in the cockpit, Pam is reading “The Long Way” by Bernard Moitessier. The book is about one of the first solo circumnavigators, and this part of the book is discussing a situation where he fears loosing his mast. Just then there is a loud smack sound in the cockpit, and Pam jumps, sure that we have just lost our mast. At first I could not figure out the noise either, but then I remembered the trolling line, could a fish make that much noise by striking the lure? I rush over to the line, tied on to the aft mooring cleat and start to pull it in. The line feels suspiciously light and when I get to the end there is a little line splice end where the lure is attached but no lure. The beast that made that loud smacking noise that sounded like a broken mast, ate my new lure! “I will show you” I think to myself and quickly grab one of my two remaining lures and prepare to send it off the boat. No sooner was the lure off the boat and trolling than there came another loud crack that resounded through the entire cockpit, I mean you could feel the force throughout the hull, even with the rubber snubber shock absorber at the end of the trolling line. Here is the really freaky part, and Pam is a witness (she was looking right over my shoulder), off the end of the boat where the end of the line would be, rose a big something that made a huge splash. This thing had to be at least ten feet long and wide (it was big and we could both clearly see the splash dispite our visual impairments), and as quickly as it appeared, it was gone back under the surface, and my trolling line was left dangling lifeless again. I pulled in the remaining line, and the end appeared to be cleanly severed off with just the tip bent, as if sawed through with razor sharp teeth. Pam and I looked at each other in shock. In a flash thoughts came streaming through my mind; “you want to go swimming in the water with that thing, it stole $50 worth of lures in seconds the damn thing, is it mad that it got a hook stuck in its mouth and will it come ram the boat?”. Nothing happened the creature did not reappear and the ocean returned to the beautiful blue fishless surface I was accustomed to. Only one lure left, and I thought fishing was going to be a great inexpensive way to get fresh food and protein! Fish 5 (plus two lures) – Tournesol 0.

Back to the rest of the day. just as the morning Net was starting, we were entering into a squall. One minute we were peacefully sailing along at 4 knots, and then all at once the boat is healed another ten degrees and we are making seven knots. Rain starts to pelt the inside of the cabin and I move into rain catching mode. First I close all ports and hatches and then slacken the sheets to reduce the heel. I grab the rain catching gear, bowls, funnel, and bug shower. I check the spot on the mast under the gooseneck where we anticipate catching the most water and no significant flow yet, then I notice a steady stream of water coming out the end of the sail where it is folded from the single reef. I spent the rest of the squall hanging over the edge of the boat with my bowl catching water as it flowed down the sail and ran down the folded edge. It must have been a sight, Scott looking like a drown rat with only a bathing suite, PFD, and tether on, reaching off the boat with his bowl catching the sacred liquid! By the end of the squall I had collected almost two gallons of crystal clear fresh water.

The rest of the day was spent (when not battling sea monsters) cleaning the boat and taking care of maintenance. We cleaned the refrigerator, now no longer a refrigerator and more of a storage box, since the loss of our engine and ample power source. The funny thing is that we still keep all of the things that belong in a refrigerator there; I think I’ll have a warm coke, let me just get it from the refrigerator.

I took my tour of the boat, and we rearranged the baking pans as they were rusting in their current location.

On the food front, we ate our last piece of fresh fruit today, an orange that was still green but perfectly fine. It was not the best orange I have ever eaten but it tasted better than all the others we had purchased. Apples! Now apples are the way to go on a boat, they stay hard and ripe for weeks! For dinner we made spaghetti with red sauce, doctored up with canned clams for protein and lots of parmesan cheese. Pam said it was her best non fresh food meal of the voyage.

As I finish this journal entry we are sailing under the brightest moon since our departure from San Francisco. The skies are clear, and all you can hear is the sea gently rushing by and the creaks of Tournesol as she glides along. We have now left latitude 10 a potentially unsettled weather region and are on our way to the ITCZ proper.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Journal Entry – May 17, 2005 Pacific Puddle Jump Day 13 Just How Big is this Pacific Ocean?

Author: Scott and Pam

Today was another very overcast day. It ranged between sprinkling and very threatening all day. We had our first two squalls, but they did not dump much rain. We have been anxiously waiting for the rain showers and the opportunity to add to our water supply. We have several techniques planned and we are very curious to find out what is the most effective. We did catch a little rain and started filling the bug shower. Once the rain cleaned the sail, we found the fold from the sail being reefed made a great funnel. Your sails and other canvas can be great rain catchers. We also have a funnel with one square side bungeed to the mast. We will attach a hose and run it into the water tank or a jerry can. It will have to be raining much harder than it did today for this to reap much benefit. We were also given the mother of all rain catchers by our friend Sparky when we were in Zihautanejo. We won’t be able to try it until we are at anchor, so we will wait to share the description and hopefully our success at that time, stay tuned for the Sparky Mundo Rain Hoop scoop. Hopefully we will catch more rain next time. It is so strange how quickly life changes when you enter a squall. One minute there was four knots of wind, the next we were racing along in up to 21. Neither one lasted very long, but boy did we make tracks for a few minutes. It was not a good day for making power, the sun did not grace us with its presence all day, well not until it was time to set. It was the most spectacular sunset of the crossing so far. In fact, as an aside the sunsets have not really been very exciting, we have both been surprised. However, tonight will merit a showcase on the homepage when we have an Internet connection, it was magnificent. Towards the end it looked like there was a brilliant fire under the clouds. It was a lovely end to a very wet and dreary day. We did not fish today; we are still trying to eat the salvaged food from the refrigerator (it has now been turned off since last Friday morning). It is down to the cheese at this point. We had scrambled eggs with cheese, onions and red peppers for brunch and pizza again with the same veggies. We are both feeling cheesed out at this point. We fed the rest of the mozzarella to Nemo, he has eaten fairly well this week. An empty wine bottle with a message about our adventure is on its way to somewhere, it would be so much fun if someone finds it and makes contact with us. This is the fourth note in a bottle we have shipped over the side since cruising in Mexico. In the book “The Long Way” that we are reading now, Bernard Moitessier built two small sailboats out of materials he had on board, attached plastic bottles to their bows with notes in them and launched them in the middle of the Indian Ocean. They were found a year later, one on a Tasmanian beach and the other in New Zealand. So, who knows where our note will end up from out here in the middle of this vast space with no edges in sight. Speaking of the vastness of the Pacific, did you know:
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the world, covering 64,000,000 square miles – and this does not include another 6,000,000 square miles of adjoining seas. At the equator the Pacific Ocean measures 11,000 miles east to west and more than 9,000 miles north to south. Approximately 30,000,000 square miles lie between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn wherein lie the majority of Pacific islands (New Zealand being a notable exception). As a whole the Pacific Ocean has more islands than the rest of the oceans and seas together. On a global scale the Pacific Ocean and adjoining seas cover about 1/3 of the earth’s surface – which is more area than all the land masses of the world combined. (Earl R Hinz, “Landfalls of Paradise”) Wow!!!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Journal Entry – May 16, 2005 Pacific Puddle Jump Day 12

Author: Pam

It is around midnight and I am on watch. As I was coming on watch we sighted a ship off our starboard bow and for the first time we actually spoke to them on VHF. They were a ship bound for Venezuela, and though they spoke little English they were very friendly.

On the Amigo Net this morning we learned that Velocity (another boat that is traveling to the Marquesas) has a crew member with a potential detached retina. They were looking for medical resources in the Marquesas. We learned there is a French navy vessel that patrols the South Pacific and they may be able to help. This must be a scary time for the passengers aboard.

Today we switched our watches to Pacific Daylight Time. The day turned out to be one of our calmest days at sea so far. We had sunny skies and it was hot. We were able to make a lot of power with our solar panels. The water was a deep and beautiful blue, and it almost seems impossible that this could be the same water as the thick black and turbulent water we see so often at night. Throughout the day we had occasional clouds and we passed through our first ITCZ squall at 12:30 that was detectable on radar. It only lasted for about fifteen minutes with light rain; it is amazing how quickly these squalls move. As we approach the ITCZ (Inter topical Convergence Zone) we will see more squally weather and possible periods of fluky or no wind. The ITCZ is a band of weather just north of the equator where the Northeast and Southeast trade winds meet. This area is also often referred to as the doldrums. With only emergency access to our engine we will pass through the ITCZ just as sailors have for years, and with a little luck we will not be becalmed, but eventually there is always wind and we will pass through.

It is interesting the things you develop to entertain yourselves on a long passage. We were eating lunch in the cockpit and Pam started a game of Frisbee with a Pringles potato chip lid. We finished “A Wrinkle in Time” (the book we are reading together) and we both agree that it is much different than we remember it as children. We started our next book “The Long Way” by Bernard Moitessier who is one of the first people to circumnavigate the globe nonstop.

Today’s fish report: We are still fishless after four days of fishing. We added a little pepperoni to our lure to see if we could catch us a fish out looking for a pizza. Fish 4 – Tournesol 0.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Journal Entry - May 15, 2005 Pacific Puddle Jump Days 10 & 11

Author: Pam

After the day we had on Friday we have spent the past two days settling in and accepting our altered situation. Saturday presented us with a beautiful sunny day, yippee it was all about how much solar power we could make. It was a really good day for charging the batteries from our friend the sun. Sunday on the other hand was cloudy and dreary and produced less than half the power of the day before. Up til now we were thankful for those cloudy moments, now we would personally blow on the clouds to move them along. Not that the wind isn’t doing a great job, it is amazing how quickly the clouds skate across the sky. These days the sun is our friend and when the needle on the amp meter is between 4 and 10 we are thrilled. Another adjustment has been the weaning off of our refrigerator. First of all when you are cruising in the tropics they say you can’t necessarily depend on your refrigerator, but so far on this passage ours had been working great. We have spent the past two days at mealtime deciding whether we would eat something from the refrigerator or not. We did not fish on Saturday, due to the need to eat something from the refrigerator. Friday night had felt like one of those if only we could order a pizza days, unfortunately Dominos does not deliver to this latitude. So, on Saturday night we made pizza for dinner, who needs Dominos anyway. We did fish on Sunday: Fish 3, Tournesol 0. We are beginning to think there is more chance of catching fish in the Southern latitudes. Kon Tiki was practically overrun with fish of every kind. So, maybe things will change once we cross the equator. Speaking of sea life I wake up every day hoping we will be visited by porpoise, whales or dolphins. We hear stories all the time of how they come and play off your bow (we even experienced it leaving SF), but if they have come we have missed them. Instead we continue to be visited by one or two birds daily, it figures they would find us or me rather 1000 miles in the middle of nowhere. In fact we think they may be hitchhiking at night on the boat and going off to fish during the day. It is ok with me if they hitch a ride as long as they stay up on the bow and out of sight. On Sunday we were basically slugs. It was cloudy and our new situation was at its peak of sinking in. We took turns sleeping throughout the day, we really didn’t have much energy to do anything including eat. We had a zone bar for breakfast, ramen for lunch and went to bed with no dinner. We considered the ham from the refrigerator, it smelled ok, tasted ok and probably was ok, but we chickened out and fed it to Nemo. We thought it might help our fishing luck, ahhh no. We discussed later in the day how much the weather seemed to affect our energy and spirits. It was an amazing contrast between Saturday and Sunday, sun versus clouds. Hopefully Monday will bring more sun and more power for Tournesol.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Journal Entry – May 13, 2005 Pacific Puddle Jump Day 9 – Friday the 13th Strikes Tournesol

Author: Scott

“Houston I think we have a problem…”! For those of you who remember those chilling words uttered across space and most televisions during the flight of Apollo 13, then you will understand why that phrase has been appropriately stuck in my head today.

If you recall we have just recently had a minor mechanical incident that seemed to have a quick and painless resolution. Well, as is often the case curing one symptom does not necessarily eradicate or treat the disease. In this case we were about to learn that Tournesol’s engine would challenge us again and that the Friday the 13th gremlins were out in mischievous full force.

I woke up anxious to double check the engine after the prior night’s adjustments. An overheated engine is always a big concern not only because it questions the future use of the engine during a passage, but because use of our engine guarantees that we can produce any energy our solar panels may fall short of producing. Immediately following the morning net check in I set out to check the engine. I ran the engine and to my frustration, the temperature gradually crawled up to 190 degrees, 10 degrees higher than the expected 180 degrees. I was beginning to have flashbacks to our overheating incident in Turtle Bay. Armed with Nigel Calder’s “Boat Owners Mechanical and Electrical Manual” Pam and I walked through all of the scenarios that can lead to engine overheating. We even removed and rebuilt our raw water pump (our problem in Turtle Bay) but we found it in perfect working order. We then read that a slipping belt can cause overheating if the fresh water circulating pump is not providing enough water flow to be cooled by the heat exchanger, so we checked the V belt again and it seemed a hair loose still and so we really tightened it down hard. I filled the header tank with a little more coolant, and we gave the engine another test. After running the engine for about a half an hour it seemed to stay below 185 degrees and we victoriously celebrated our mechanical success, thanks Nigel. However, being thorough, I later checked the level of our fluids and realized the header tank was dry as a bone and there was no fluid in the overflow reservoir. I poured some more coolant and water into the tank and to my surprise it flowed mysteriously right on out. This is when I started thinking about telling Houston that we might have a problem. Now I am no mechanic, but I knew that if we were not holding water in our header tank (very similar to a car’s radiator) then we either had a simple leak or a major problem. I knew it was time to get some assistance from our version of Houston and I got on the sat phone looking for mechanics who have worked on Tournesol. I called Tony in Nuevo Vallarta who just checked over the engine prior to this passage, and I could not reach him. I then called Berkeley Marine Center in California to find one of the two mechanics who know Tournesol. You do get the attention of the boat yard when you tell them you are on a sat phone and are having a problem and you are over 1,000 miles from land in the middle of the Pacific. One mechanic was off in the boat yard, but she gave me the cell number for Terry the other mechanic. I gave Terry a call and he remembered us right away and almost nonchalantly started to help us out, as if he gets called from the middle of the ocean all the time, no big deal. We discussed the symptoms and he gave me a few scenarios to check out and report back with the outcomes. I went back and faced the great mechanical beast. First, I closed the water intake through hull and filled the tank again, if there was no leak then my problem would most likely be in the engine and would not be a problem with the fresh water mixing with raw water in the heat exchanger. The water just drained right out again. Next, I poured more water in and traced the leak to the engine by finding water leaking into the bilge. I lay atop the engine with my arms encircling it as if I was giving the beast a big bear hug. I used my arms to reach around and feel for the leak. Very slowly I was able to follow the dripping water to the source of the leak. We had water leaking from one of the pulleys on the engine block. I called Terry back with my findings and he asked a few more questions and then had a diagnosis. We have a faulty fresh water circulation pump. This is a much less prevalent problem than a raw water pump and is much more challenging to fix. Now we have all kinds of spares aboard Tournesol , we even have exotic parts such as replacement gaskets and spare injectors, but of course we don’t have this particular part aboard. Even if we did have the part, it appears as though the bearings that turn the pump are also shot. Without a new pump and bearings we are out of luck and can not run our engine any further. The only work around is to pour water into the header tank as we run the engine, letting in flow into the bilge, but we could keep the engine cool in an emergency. We could also look at jury-rigging the engine to cool it with salt water, but this option sounds extreme and complex. I thanked Terry and hung up so Pam and I could consider our options.

Here is what we discussed; first, we are a sailboat after all and there are people who cruise around the world with no engine at all, and we do have solar panels to generate power for our vital systems, so for now we were fine. We talked about rerouting to Hawaii and even turning back and heading to Puerto Vallarta. We decided we should call back to our version of Houston again for advice, and this time it came in the form of Arnstein Mustad our sailing instructor, friend, and Jedi Master. “Hi Arnstein, its Scott and we are in the middle of the Pacific…” Arnstein listened to our situation and after careful thought, felt we should continue on to the Marquesas. Hawaii was about the same distance but we would be heading into Hurricane season in the north and there was currently a weather high blocking out path. Turning back to Mexico was an option, but by now we were near the halfway point and if we returned we could be becalmed when we leave the trade winds. Continuing to the South Pacific allows us to stay in the trades and Tahiti will eventually provide an array of boat services.

So, we have a broken fresh water pump, but we have a plan. We will continue to sail to the South Pacific and deal with the engine problem there. It is said that sailing around the world is really about fixing your boat in exotic ports and we are proving that this can be very true.

We want to reassure our family and readers of our journal that we are in no immediate danger whatsoever. You don’t leave for a passage like this without the confidence of succeeding with or without an engine. Our trip may take a little longer, but we are well provisioned. We are well equipped with communications gear if we need further advice or assistance. Finally, many before us have made this trip with no auxiliary engine and we are now simply in their category. Also, before thinking that Tournesol is a problem ridden dog, remember she is 27, still running well (usually) on her original engine, and this is a standard wear and tear issue (it just could have happened much more conveniently at almost any other time). Tournesol is also an excellent sailboat and one of the best built for sailing us the rest of the way to the South Pacific.

Now, we may sound like a bunch of crazy optimists out here, but I will admit we were disappointed when we realized we would have to frugally manage our power for the remainder of our trip to the South Pacific. Our refrigerator is one of our few luxuries aboard, and we are not going to have any more cold anything, now, this made us both sad!

We spent the rest of this freaky Friday the 13th a little frustrated, but we both have the determination to not let this bump in the road slow us down. If Apollo 13 can get home from outer space safely then stand back because Tournesol is on the loose in the Pacific and we are off to our next exotic port to have our boat fixed!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Journal Entry – May 12, 2005 Pacific Puddle Jump Day 8 – Atlantis Discovered

Author: Scott

There is a conspiracy out here in the middle of the ocean. Whenever I am off watch some little event causes me to get back up. On Wednesday night I had just settled down and the sea woke up right on schedule. Scott tries to sleep and the wind and seas begin to toil.. It is amazing to me just how many sounds you hear on a boat when it is jostled around by the waves. We must have a million items on the boat (minus one can of Span) and they each have their own sound. You wouldn’t believe how much noise a water bottle rolling around in the sink can make. Well, I have never been one to let noise or movement alone keep me awake and I fitfully forced myself to sleep, just then Pam came down to tell me that there was a contact on the radar only three miles away. We both jumped into our anti collision mode with Pam on radar and me on the helm. We radioed the vessel and of course they were not answering. We changed course to make sure that we were abeam of each other, and though it was not a close call it s very unnerving to have a big monster ship come within a mile of your position in this great expanse of space. When the excitement of the ship passing was over we both realized that our engine was making a funny squeaking noise. Nothing is spookier than a new noise on the boat. There may be a million different noises aboard, but you do learn the meaning of each one, and this was no water bottle rolling around. So, no sleep for me, I went into diesel repair mode. It turns out that our V belt had come a little loose and it was the culprit for the squeak, and when I looked at the amp meter I realized the same belt was also not running the alternator and we were barely generating any power. It was a quick adjustment and finally I got to go back to sleep. Pam gave me a little extra time off watch, but I was dragging a little all of the next day.

Thursday (Day 8) seemed to fly by. We had great radio reception on the Amigo Net and got the low down on the other vessels at sea. Breakfast was a Zone Bar.

For the fish report, we trolled for a second day and had no success by lunchtime, so I changed lures to the pink and blue guy with the bugged out eyes. No luck for the rest of the day. Fish two, Tournesol 0.

For lunch we had Spam Sandwich leftovers and we both tried to nap due to our rambunctious prior night.

A mysterious thing happened during our nighttime watch schedule. I was just falling asleep on my first sleep period when Pam woke me because she had a strange sighting of in the distance. The target showed on radar as though it was a vessel, probably a freighter, but when we looked above deck it was all lit up like a cruise ship. What made it even more unique was that it did not seem to be moving in any direction. We determined that we were on a safe course and that we would approach the object with it 3.5 miles to our starboard beam. When we attempted radio communication with the target, we got no response. As we approach it, the intensity of its many lights grew, and it eventually looked like a very well lit building, as bright as a baseball stadium. We were not close enough for us to gather more visual information due to our limited sight. We do not show any data for this object on our charts and it is too large to be an atlas weather mooring buoy. We decided then and there that it was either a space ship hiding out in the middle of the Pacific, or part of the lost city of Atlantis. You decide.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Journal Entry – May 11, 2005 Pacific Puddle Jump – Day 7 Gone Fishing

Author: Pam

While on watch this morning around 0500 I was sitting in the companionway reading Kon-Tiki, by: Thor Heyerdahl using my Itty Bitty book light when I came to his description of hanging the paraffin lantern out at night and realizing that flying fish were attracted to the light. Yikes, the thought of my Itty Bitty light attracting flying fish raced through my mind which included the possibility of one slamming into my head. This thought sent me back down to the cabin to continue reading. We had just heard during the radio net in the morning about Susan on the sailing vessel Dharma waking up to find two flying fish lying next to her in the cockpit. Yuck! Speaking of Susan, interesting story, she is a 72 year old woman who left Nuevo Vallarta four days before we did to make the crossing to Hilo, Hawaii, solo on her 32 foot boat. We have heard her every morning on the net. It sounds like she is making good progress, but she sounds lonely. Back to Kon-Tiki, Scott and are both currently reading it, we decided it was very apropos reading material for this crossing. The author a Norwegian biologist put together an expedition from Peru to the South Pacific on a raft in the 1940’s to prove his theory that the Island chains of the South Pacific had been populated by the Incas from Peru. He built the balsa wood raft identical to the first vessels of the original migrants and headed across the Pacific with five other men and a parrot. The first sentence of the book aptly sums up my feeling about our adventure; “Once in a while you find yourself in an odd situation. You get into it by degrees and in the most natural way, but when you are right in the midst of it, you are suddenly astonished and ask yourself how in the world it all came about.” Similar thoughts have crossed my mind over the past months. I just realized it is actually seven months today that we headed under the Golden Gate. Wow! My final thoughts for the moment on Kon-Tiki, I am very happy to be on a boat with freeboard above the water line and some protection from the enormous amount of sea life that visited them on their journey, including a whale shark (the world’s biggest fish, it can be up to sixty feet long) and a snake mackerel (they were the first to see one living, it landed in one of the crew’s sleeping bags). Scott is outside right now preparing for our first fishing attempt, thank goodness we have small lures. Also an example of one of their safety checks was to be held upside down by their feet with their head under water to inspect the ropes holding the raft together, I can’t even imagine. I figure if they can make it on an open raft, we certainly can in our tough little boat. Highly recommended reading. Well, I am off to look for fish recipes in case we are lucky.

Scott with the fish report. Today we deployed our recently acquired trolling line behind the boat in hopes of catching some fish. Our trolling rig consists of heavy nylon cord attached to a rubber snubber. The snubber attaches to a mooring cleat on the aft deck and the nylon cord is run out from the rear of the boat. The nylon cord is attached to 25’ of a high test filament that then has a swivel shackle and a lure at the end. Our lure is white and purple with big eyes and two nasty hooks. My fishing experience is limited to catching trout in the Lazy River when I was about seven, and Pam’s is nonexistent, so together we make an armature team at best. I spent the day reading about cleaning and catching fish and I think I have a grasp on what to do. I will describe our techniques further if we actually catch something, until then no fish today, that makes fish 1 Tournesol 0.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Journal Entry – May 10, 2005 Pacific Puddle Jump Days 5 & 6

Author: Scott

The last two days have given us a good sampling of life at sea. On May 9th (day five) we were reeducated to the fact that when sailing you get and live with what you are dealt from the sea. Most of the entire day was spent bashing into waves off of our starboard bow. It is amazing just how much power the ocean wields, we would be sailing along rolling all over and bam a big wave would hit and you could feel the force throughout the entire hull. These wave strikes make some of our bumps while parking at the dock seem like nothing at all. The reality at sea, is once you have taken all precautions for the conditions you are the captured audience for what the ocean plans out for you, and there is no stop button. If the sea gets angry then you just have to hold on and live with the tirade. The winds kicked up to 25 kts and just as we were moving to a very conservative sail plan the winds came back down to a reasonable twelve kts. To top it all off we started the day sailing under hazy and dreary skies, which is often the case when sailing in the trades. The waves were not yet giving us too much of a pounding so I revitalized our breakfast plan we aborted on Sunday and made a big egg and bacon breakfast, complete with fried potatoes and pineapple juice. However, as the waves grew in size and intensity cooking breakfast became more like a circus act; “ hello ladies and gentlemen watch as Scott balances on one foot while holding a sizzling pan of bacon grease…” It took over an hour and a half just to make breakfast and an hour for Pam to do dishes in our turbulent conditions. The remainder of the day was spent inspecting the boat for any potential problems, and then we got focused on trying to deal with a leak that has mysteriously reappeared in a starboard storage area. Dinner gave way to the sailing conditions, and we kept cooking to a minimum by heating some really good canned clam chowder. It almost felt like we were eating chowder on the wharf in San Francisco on a blustery and foggy Bay Area day. After dinner we settled in to watch a movie on the computer, “The Fires of Kuwait”, nothing like a cheery movie to top of our bumpy day.

The seas continued to pound us through the night, but the morning of day six brought calmer seas, with 100% cloud cover. We made our daily check in on the Amigo Net on frequency 8122 and we are thrilled with how well our SSB radio has been working at sea. Our connections have been very good, with some yachts sounding like they are talking to us so clearly they sound as if they are sitting on the boat with us. After the net we lounged around for a bit. The next project on the agenda was to engage our wind vane rather than sailing with our electric auto pilot. On Tournesol we have a Monitor Wind Vane. A wind vane is a non electrical self steering device that detects shifts in the wind with a vane off the aft of the boat, the vane sends these wind signals to a small rudder or paddle that when moved pulls on control lines that turns the wheel to compensate for the wind shift. It is an ingenious device that steers for us across the thousands of ocean miles. Well, our wind vane went right to work and has been steering right on course all day. The wind vane will allow us to save nearly 60 amp hours of energy each day.
I then had the chance to wow Pam with my famous Spam Sandwiches, yes that’s right Pam ate Spam Sandwiches. Pam was the girl who said there would be no Spam on the boat, and yet she relented and I quote “I think they are really good”. Spam Sandwiches are broiled open faced sandwiches topped with a spread of diced Spam, cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, onions, and green peppers. Yummy! If this sounds gross to you, then don’t pass judgment until you have had the pleasure of trying one for yourself. When the feast was complete we set in on the task of attempting to conquer our illusive leak. Tethered to the boat, I worked for quite some time sealing the edge of the starboard side deck hardware with marine silicone sealant. This will only be a temporary Band-Aid until I can rebed the suspected leaky stanchion or other trouble maker in Austailia/New Zealand. Pam acted as surgical nurse handing me towels, silicone, calking gun, and so on. At the end of the project my hands were covered in silicone, and I had to scratch clumps of silicone off my hands and arms for the rest of the day. I even found a glob of silicone in my hair.

We finished off the day hanging for our “chill hours” in the cockpit listening to music and then eating dinner. Dinner was a chef salad.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Journal Entry – May 8, 2005 Pacific Puddle Jump – Day Four

Author: Pam

It is 0600 and we are sailing at 2.5 knots, the wind and the waves have been much lighter tonight than last night. Last night we were screaming along and pounded by some pretty good waves over the bow and starboard side. We discovered the leaks we had hoped were fixed are not and we have a few wet places in the boat. Not great news, but it could be a lot worse if the leaks were near the navigation equipment, so a blessing counted. So how do you manage an almost 3000 mile voyage? At this point in our trip we both agreed we needed to see tangible progress and watching the miles tick away from a total of 2,827 was going to make it difficult to feel the progress. So instead of one goal, we have ten. Sometimes this might be a worse case scenario, but in this case small victories will lead to the big one. I could get into the discussion of objectives versus goals, an age old discussion from my professional past, but I will spare you. Using a program called Visual Passage Planner Scott has set up ten waypoints breaking the trip down into increments averaging 280 miles. The program planning includes setting the most efficient course and gives you projected normal weather patterns, average wind and wave information. We hit the first waypoint yesterday morning two hours earlier than we expected and we are over 77 miles into the second one. Scott can’t help himself and he looks at the total several times a day, but at this point it is still an unfathomable number to me. We took down the Mexican courtesy flag yesterday. In addition to the American flag off our stern, we are only flying the 2005 Puddle Jump flag provided by Latitude 38 (a cruising magazine in the Bay Area), thanks Latitude!!! We will fly the French flag upon our arrival in the Marquesas. We will also fly the Q flag in some ports which puts the boat into quarantine until it and we have been cleared by the appropriate officials. More on those procedures as we experience them. The wind picked up early in the day and we have been cruising along. We put one reef in the mainsail around noon, the wind was up to 18 knots. It has been another bumpy ride with waves tossing us about. It feels like riding a bronco (not that I have done this), there have been several times I have been levitated in and or out of my seat. We found ourselves quite busy this afternoon. As mentioned earlier there is the matter of managing the food. We have packed food into the V-berth which seems to be working out so far, but it does require a “trip to the grocery store” if we need something. It seems to take about that much time to find the item/s. We never did find the renegade tortillas we were planning to have with chicken tacos for dinner. I saw them in Scott’s hand earlier, but apparently they have crawled into a hole. Chicken tacos turned into taco salad, still good and a bit easier to eat. We were able to consolidate at the grocery store, so the V-berth already feels a bit more manageable. You may recall we reclaimed the V-berth in La Paz, so we could actually sleep there when not underway. Reclaiming will require eating our way in this time. We don’t expect a chance before New Zealand or Australia. Today was also the first bug shower of the trip, it sure feels good when it is your only option. Lastly as today was Mother’s Day we gave our satellite phone the blue water test. We both were able to get through, and the signal was quite good. Nice to know it works out here, not that I had any doubts really.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Journal Entry – May 6, 2005 – Pacific Puddle Jump - Day Two

Author: Pam

It is 0400 and I am on my second watch of the night. Right now we are keeping a 3 hour and two 2 hour watch schedule. We are hoping to move into a six hours on, six hours off each during the night, with a nap during the day in a few days. Six hours is of course easy for the person sleeping, it is a long time to keep busy and awake for the person on watch. However, we are very excited about our recent purchase of the Rio Karma MP3 player. It allows two people to listen to two different audio books and to bookmark your place. We have quite a few books in MP3 format, but until now we had no way of listening to them, unless you wanted to start from the beginning each time. We don’t have room for cassette tapes, which of course is the other option. I began this watch determined to figure out how to stop the two net bags of fruit and onions from banging on the side of the boat and turning into juice and spraying all over the cabin, that would be gross. This is the first time we have brought enough fresh fruit and veggies that needed managing, not an easy task on a small boat. We bought two net bags when we went up the river in Tenacatita and have them hanging from the handrails. All is good, except for the rhythmic swinging and bumping they insist on doing. I just ran a strap through the handle of each bag and pulled it slightly away from the wall by bringing the strap around the compression post. It seems like this may minimize the potential for casualties. There seem to be a number of ideas and tried and true methods for managing fresh food on board a boat, especially in a hot climate. As mentioned we have hung the fruit, onions and a cabbage in net bags. A jicama and a few potatoes are residing in brown paper bags. Limes and lemons are bagged in the special green bags made by Evert-Fresh and not refrigerated. Lettuce and avocados are in the same bags, but in the refrigerator. We bought unrefrigerated eggs (more common than refrigerated in Mexico). They are suppose to keep for many weeks if you are diligent about turning them every other day so the yolk stays suspended. I am on an odd day schedule with the eggs. It is nice having the fresh food, at least for the first week perhaps. We motored a lot yesterday to get off the coast because there is a serious general lack of wind in Mexico. We have been sailing along at 5 knots for the past couple of hours, it’s perfect.

Scott here, I just wanted to mention that we had our first visitor offshore today. Guess what it was? If you have been diligently following our journal then you will know about Pam’s love for birds, well maybe love is not quite correct and we should call it disdain. Well, our first visitor was a big black spooky bird that circled the boat repeatedly and drove Pam below to the safety of the cabin; he even took a swoop down at me. We did manage to capture a few seconds on video, but imagine what a challenge it is to capture a bird in flight when you are visually impaired. When the bird came in for a landing Pam screamed and the bird turned tail and headed for the sky. Our bird friend never quite managed a landing and mysteriously disappeared just as it had materialized out of nowhere, maybe he had a heart attack. Pam one, birds zero.

Pam back now, Chicken breast in four minutes. Who would believe it is possible, not Scott. We decided to cook our one package of fresh chicken breast in the pressure cooker. I chose a Mustard Chicken with Veggies recipe, excited by the one pot meal idea. We had only used our pressure cooker one time and it has been quite a while. The recipe called for any type of veggies, we added carrots and potatoes. Before beginning to cook Scott scoured the Pressure Cooker cookbook and looked up other chicken recipes to compare cooking times, he was a bit uncomfortable with chicken only cooked for four minutes, especially after the shortest time he found was ten minutes. I believe in following the recipe (at least the first time) so everything was thrown into the steamer basket and four minutes after coming to pressure we released the jiggler valve to check it out. The chicken was cooked perfectly, the veggies should have been cut up slightly smaller. I can’t wait until the next opportunity to use the pressure cooker, it could be how we cook our first fish. What you eat each day becomes a big part of the day. As long as the conditions are conducive for cooking it is fun to create something yummy. Washing the dishes and conserving water is an entirely different ball game. We are still working on the best technique. We are attempting to rinse/wash in salt water and rinse using a spray bottle with fresh water and a touch of bleach. I find it challenging to deal with the stickiness of the salt water, but fortunately we have a foot pump in the galley sink that taps both salt and the fresh water. This makes the process easier and the access to the salt water is immensely helpful, it sure beats dragging a bucket over the side… However, dish conservation is a big part of each meal too, don’t dirty it if you don’t have to.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Journal Entry – May 5, 2005 – Pacific Puddle Jump - Day One, Take Two

Author: Scott and Pam

We woke up this morning with the excitement of departure rekindled. We looked at each other from our bunks on opposite sides of the salon and said “we are going to sail across an ocean today”! Although leaving from San Francisco to start our voyage was unbelievably exhilarating, I think we always knew there was the safety net of cruising off the coast down to Mexico. If there was a problem we could sail into the nearest port and face it, but today we would put Tournesol and our training to the test out in the middle of the vast ocean. Why else have people ventured out to sea for so many years, but for the pure adventure of it and today really marks the beginning of the unknown adventure for us. I have been coming to Mexico for many years and Pam has more recently visited Mexico, so we are comfortable with the culture and the Country. Oh yes we have had and met our challenges in Mexico, but today we are venturing into the unknown. Neither of us have been to the South Pacific, let alone made a crossing of more than six days. We get to put away our fears of pangas and coastal fishing boats with their crab pots and long lines, and focus our attention on remaining diligent for shipping traffic when it becomes so easy to become relaxed in the wide open blue sea. Our success now depends on our training and ingenuity.

Today our priorities were a little confused. First, there is always the need to thoroughly check everything on the boat, despite the fact that we had done so prior to departure. Then we seemed unable to turn off our activity level that had hit a crescendo that had built prior to the departure, though our main priority for the day was to try to slow down, and enjoy the sail. Before leaving everything was such a frenzy that it takes a while to change pace. We did finally settle down for our “chill hours” which take place around sunset. We often read together during this time, but today we just hung out and listened to the CD that Moana gave us for the passage. The CD was chook full of great boat music. Thanks Moana! We set out to eat our fresh food with gusto and managed to barbecue delicious cheeseburgers with all the fixings (normally it is too windy to barbecue at sea). Just as the barbecue was complete the wind turned up a notch and we were back to sailing at a steady pace. At 22:00 I settled in for my first rest period while Pam was on watch. I fell asleep listening to the sounds of the water pass beneath us and thinking of how small we were under the blanket of stars, and what a fantastic adventure we were living.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Journal Entry May 4, 2005 –Pacific Puddle Jump - Day One (well sort of…)

Author: Scott

The day has finally come; today we left to cross an ocean. Today we are going to step out and do what so many would think is impossible and what no one who is visually impaired as we are has done yet.

There have been so many memories that have led up to this day, years of planning, departure dates set and then revoked because as we learned more about sailing we knew we had more to do before making the commitment of crossing an ocean. There are memories of sailing class with Arnstein our instructor, memories of buying boat supplies, of hanging out at Pier 39 working on the boat and afterward eating with the tourists in the best city in the world. There was quitting our jobs and safe income streams to spend our savings on a goal and an adventure, and all this came down to today when we set out with our courage and skills, and thumbed our noses at our disabilities and just did it anyway. But a funny thing happened to us on our way to cross the ocean…

We woke up early; both too excited to sleep in despite the recent late nights of planning and preparation. We looked at our various preparations lists and completed the final chores and moved a few chores to the To Be Completed At Sea list (because you are never completely ready to leave). We called over to Chaletmer to see if they could give us a dinghy ride over to the Capitaina de Puerto and they came right over. I brought the Port Captain our paperwork from Immigration and he gave me the final stamp and the magic paper called a Zarpe that meant we were free to leave the country in good standing, in fact we needed to leave in the next two hours so no dawdling. We checked out of the marina and gave the office our goodbyes. Once back at the boat we sent a few final emails, loaded the rest or our water rations, gave Tournesol a final shower, and we were finally ready. Pat and Gene from Chaletmer helped us cast off our lines and we backed out of our slip, pointed the boat down the fairway and headed for open water!

Our first task before completely leaving solid land was to fill up our tanks with diesel at Marina Vallarta, about a two hour trip. We had also made plans with our friends Kenneth and Sylvia (from the Bay Area) to meet them at the dock for a final hug and so long (and maybe a beer). When we reached the fuel dock we parked the boat alongside a very short finger and almost made it look easy, a far better display of parking than the last time we fueled up in PV and added a few streaks of orange paint to our hull.

We gassed up and Kenneth and Sylvia soon met us. We settled down for a cold drink at the fuel dock café and chatted about the trip. Both Kenneth and Sylvia had thought we were spending the night and so they said we should stay a night in PV so we could have a final scrumptious dinner with them and relax after our labors of preparation. We told them we would love to but it would be a big hassle to get a slip and then find the slip in Marina Vallarta, and that it was a nice thought and thanks anyway. Just then the guy down the bar spoke up and changed our day of departure completely. “I have a slip I am not using just over there, it is number 15 and completely empty, because I have my boat hauled out on the hard” We couldn’t believe it, here we were completely mentally prepped to cross an ocean and a perfect stranger was making us a serendipitous offer for a final night on land. I looked at Pam and thought, sounds good but will she want to change everything for a last dinner out and maybe a shower. Kenneth and Sylvia jumped in and said we could change and shower at their hotel and we could all go out for a great dinner at Kaier Maxamillion’s restaurant. Then it occurred to me that cruising is all about ceasing the moment and going where the wind blows. Here is a completely unexpected opportunity, a chance to eat well, clean up, get good nights sleep, and leave fresh in the morning with the tide. I looked to Pam again decided to go for it. “We would love to use you slip” I said, and that was that, a few minutes later we were parked in the available slip and racing towards downtown in a taxi.

We did get to clean up, and even take baths. We rested up before dinner, and then ventured out into the city for a fabulous dinner. On our way to the restaurant we stopped for a sunset drink at Daiquiri Dick’s and serendipity struck again. We were greeted by the restaurant manager Noy who knew Kenneth and Sylvia, we learned that Kenneth and Sylvia had mentioned us the other night and that Noy had told her friend at Vallarta Lifestyles Magazine that they should consider doing a story about our trip. Well, I guess they had sent a reporter down to our boat to take pictures and interview us but they went to the wrong marina. Here we were in her restaurant and not on the open sea and before we knew it she had a photographer at our table snapping a few pictures while we feasted on complementary scallop ceviche, mussels in curry sauce and Pina Coladas.

Dinner ended up being as good as we had imagined and we even hit a Cuban club for a bit of dancing, but the band was done for the night. We took this as a sign that we needed to get back to the boat and get serious about the departure.

As excited as we were about departing today we received a strong reminder about the sailing life and spontaneity, besides we were in Mexico and in Mexico there is always manana (tomorrow).