Saturday, April 30, 2016

Agua Verde...another Sea of Cortez gem.

Agua Verde is just north of Los Gatos, another "must see" spot in the Sea of Cortez. True to it's name, Agua Verde offer lots of great activities from snorkeling, hiking, buying goat cheese off the locals to eating at the local beach front "restaurant" that holds about 13 people. We particularly love the hike that starts in the bay, goes over the hill, drops down into the cemetery and follows the washout that leads to "town". This year we made a special trip over the river and through the brush to a locals house who sold us a bag full of homemade goat cheese for less than $2 USD. 

This year's trip to Agua Verde was made extra special as we were able to catch up with friends we hadn't seen in over a year and enjoy a great beach front bonfire! Definitely add Agua Verde to your list of places to enjoy.

Goats! A sign you're getting closer to delicious cheese.

The local house where we purchased fresh goat cheese.

We finally got back together with Namaste!

Typical scene from the Sea of Cortez..just a few boats. Definitely not the Carribean.

Check out last year's visit to Agua Verde.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Los Gatos. Reason # 43732 why we love the Sea of Cortez.

We're baaaaaack! You've never met a happier group of sailors than us...we are so happy to be back in the Sea of Cortez.  The past few weeks we had noticed that Emma was a little off...feeling meh. We had asked her if she was "over it", perhaps she was ready to get off the boat and go "home"...where ever that is. She insisted she'd be fine...just wasn't feeling herself. Probably had something to do with the month long stay in marinas attempting to fix various issues with the boat, that made all of us feel icky.

No more than when our anchor grazed the sand at Los Gatos, Emma was first on deck with her bathing suit on.  "Let's hike up the red rocks!"  "Can we have a bonfire?"  "Mom, can I have a bottle to collect sand...this is my favorite place?"  Emma had her sparkle back. We all did. Los Gatos reminds me of the red rocks in Sedona, Arizona. Red rocks placed on the edge of gin colored water with reefs on the outskirts of the bay perfect for snorkeling. I could go on for days...we love it here! Last night we had a bonfire under an almost full moon against red rocks with our new friends off M/V Adagio. Life is good in the Sea. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Preparing for passage

I've spent the entire day in the galley, cooking and I couldn't be more excited! This means we're leaving on passage....we're finally heading north and back into the Sea of Cortez. We expect this to be an easy 3 day passage with some light winds in our favor, all the way to La Paz.  After the past month of mishaps I'm really hoping for an easy passage where I don't have to do much but adjust a few sails, watch some dolphins swim off the bow and relax...we'll see.

As Phil did some minor adjustments on the boat, Emma and I prepared some meals for the next few days. I still giggle at myself, giving advise on how to prepare meals before a passage, me, the self proclaimed World's Worst Cook. Ever hear of someone who sucked so bad in the kitchen they screwed up a bowl of cereal? That would be me. Actually, since cruising, I've gotten much better in the galley. One obvious reason, we need to eat. Living on a boat without a freezer has forced me to cook. Gone are the days of pulling a bag of frozen crap out and making dinner...I actually have to try. We all LOVE Mexican food, and well, we've been living in Mexico for over a year. Many times we leave a restaurant and Emma (our foodie) has asked if we can go home and attempt to recreate the meal. So I try...besides, I can't deny that face...she's too cute.  Something I've found that has helped me tremendously is the pressure cooker. Dinner that would normally take 60 minutes, takes for me! If I can do this....anyone can. 

One of our staples is veggies, potatoes pressure cooked in chicken broth. It's an easy and delicious stew. Today I added a little chorizo for flavor.

Emma loves that our salon table will adjust down to her level. This way she can help make meals and bake. She made raisin, oatmeal cookies today that are out of this world.

I've never been able to pat myself on the back for anything I've ever cooked...till now. It's not much, but my Mexican rice is Slap Yo Mama good! The key is to cook the rice in chicken broth...then, add your veggies and warn the taste buds. The rice is delicious hot or cold. Emma loves to eat cold rice for lunch sometimes, Jess loves to add it to beans and make herself a burrito. 

Prepared elbow pasta for lunch...just add tuna, celery, crema, some spice and you've got yourself an awesome tuna salad. I prepare pasta ahead of time so I'm not attempting to boil water as the boat is healing and it's 96 degrees out...besides the tuna salad is best served cold. Everything goes into a Ziplock container with a screw-on top. These containers have been one of the best items in our galley (besides the pressure cooker). I cut up carrot, celery and jicama into sticks and place in the fridge. Nothing is as refreshing as something cold and crunchy on passage.

My latest claim to fame...Mexican Lasagne. I sautee whatever veggies I have then add homemade (you read that correct..homemade) beans, either black or pinto and sautee a little more. 

Layer veggie mix, corn tortillas and cheese till you run out of ingredients. 

The key to food on passages is to make your family the food they already love. We've had to make a few adjustments in our preparation. We love the cabbage and chorizo stew I make, or the chicken tortilla soup with tomato chuncks....but those particular recipes hurt our bellies while underway. Same thing with coffee....we have to limit ourselves to 3/4 of a cup. It's not that we get sea sick but underway our bellies have different requirements. I think after today, I need to resign my title, "World Worst Cook", maybe I'll pass it along to Jessica....she's about as handy in the kitchen as I was when I was 12. 

Looking for an awesome cookbook with recipes that don't require much and gives instructions on how to cook with or without a pressure cooker? Buy the Essential Galley Companion! My new favorite. Looking for more favorite items....check out our TOP 10 list here.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Cost to Cruise March 2016

March started out with a bang, just us and few hundred friends at the  Zihuatanejo International Guitar Festival.  I've said it a thousand times, Zihuatanejo is our favorite cruising town. We think the only reason people get "stuck" in places like La Paz and La Cruz, is because they haven't been down to Zihuatanejo.  Even with all the fun to be had during the festival we were on track with our monthly budget.

Then it hit the fan. The mixing elbow needed to be repaired, we ended up needed to rebuild our transmission, after taking on water it became apparent that the stern log needed some attention and now we're sitting in a marina repairing our davits as they all but peeled off the boat coming around Cabo Corrientes in the middle of the night. It sucks when everything fails all at once. Had we been living on land this would have been the week one of us had gotten into a fender bender only to come home and realize the AC doesn't work and that the washing machine decided to finally die. Crap like this happens regardless of where you live.

I'm proud of how our family has handled each situation and how we've been able to keep our spirits high. Today is the first day of sad faces. We're soooooo ready to get into the Sea of Cortez. One of the major reasons we decided against continuing south towards Panama was that we weren't done sailing Mexico. We have our first visitor coming to sail with us in two weeks! Which is probably why we're starting to feel a little antsy...we have hundreds on miles to go and not much time to do it. When we planned our friends trip we had "plenty" of time, "more than enough time"...ya well......

Many thanks to our "buy us a beer" donors....we really appreciate you, especially this month!

Ryan Rodgers
Steve Swably
John Nance
Nancy Parker
Mary Segars
Mounier family

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Saturday, April 2, 2016

Waxy toilet rings and emergency repairs

So two years ago I'm talking to this dude in a bar in Mission Beach, CA. I was telling him how we are getting ready to go cruising Mexico and he informed me that he recently returned to San Diego after cruising for 2 years in the South Pacific. We were talking about spare parts and emergency kits and he goes into a rant about how I need to buy a crap-ton of toilet wax rings. If you dont know what these are, they are made of rubber and wax and used to seat toilets (in houses) to the drains.

He was telling me how the magical wax on these rings could be pulled off and used in emergencies to seal up busted thru hulls, holes, and propeller shafts. I thought he was nuts.

Fast forward to about a week ago. We start taking on water through a crack in our stern log.  If you dont know what a stern log is, it's the tube that the propeller shaft runs through to exit the boat. We were able to get our boat safely to a dock, but I soon realize that the only way to repair the stern log is to take off the stuffing box. Well, the problem here is that the stuffing box is the seal that prevents water from pouring into your boat through the stern log.

So as I'm considering the real possibility of sinking my boat in the slip at the marina, I remember the crazy dude I met in San Diego two years ago and his waxy toilet donuts.  As it turns out, my mechanic friend in town has a couple of these laying around and gives me two.

I then get everything ready for disaster. I borrow extra bilge pumps, have rolls of rescue tape on standby, and come up with a backup plan to run the boat aground in the lagoon if water pours in the way I am imagining that it might. Under the boat I go and pack the sticky wax around the prop shaft and in the weep holes. Then comes the moment of truth. The stuffing box comes off and not a drop of water is coming in the boat! This stuff really is magic. I ended up having to trim 6 inches off the stern log since the end of it literally disintegrated after I took off the stuffing box.  Side note: the previous owner must have changed the shaft angle when he installed new engine mounts and the shaft was wearing on the bronze stern tube to where nothing was left. Thankfully, there was enough tube to trim back to where it was not longer making contact. The repair took a couple of hours, with not a drop of water in the boat the whole time. The stuff even pulled right off when I was done without a mess.

So a big shout out to you, Dude that I met in a bar in Mission beach. Your idea saved our bacon and I will now always carry magicial toilet wax in my emergency kit.