Tuesday, December 10, 2013

El Hongo

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Dave and I found a lovely anchorage ten miles from La Paz and spent Thanksgiving weekend at Puerto Balandra, home to the famous Mushroom Rock or "El Hongo" (see if you can find it in the picture). With a white sandy beach and small reef for snorkeling, this anchorage is apparently very popular with the locals (and tourists). A mile walk north along the road brings you to Playa Tecolote on the other side of the point, where a handful of cantinas and restaurants line the beach. We plan to bring the kids to this area when they visit next month. Dave and I are basically hanging out around La Paz for the month of December, waiting for Rachel, Phillip, Kayla, Matt, and Brett to visit the first two weeks of January. We are using this time to explore locally, but also perform maintenance work on the boat (it seems to never end)! Yesterday, we finally finished sanding teak for the entire cockpit (four iterations!) that we had started in Oxnard. Dave is currently putting the first layer of Cetol down and will do about six coats over the course of this week. The cockpit will finally be done in another week and should look absolutely gorgeous! Other "blue" tasks that Dave completed after replacing motor mounts were replacing the bilge pump along with the lift pump on the engine. We also believe that our hot water overflow woes (after speaking to technical support) are due to sediment/corrosion of the overflow relief valve and a new one is on the way for replacement this week. After this repair, hopefully we will be back in good shape! After the kids visit in January, our plans are to head on out to Puerto Vallarta mid January, which leaves a little more than a month to get ready for the South Pacific "grande" crossing early March! We have found La Paz to be a lovely town. Aside from some petty theft, it seems to be a relatively safe area with local hard working, friendly people. We have met several "gringos" from various areas of the US and Canada that were only passing through and find themselves here nine, twenty, or even thirty-three years later! I'm not sure I would go that far, but it has definitely been an experience. Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season (yes, they are already upon us)! -Dave and Gail

Sunday, November 24, 2013

La Paz

We have been in the Marina de La Paz for the last week, basically working on the boat, but have managed some sightseeing as well. La Paz is a quaint town after the resort town of Cabo San Lucas. The various taco stands around town are well known and very good, with their fresh fish tacos. Dave and I have been eating quite a bit of Mexican food lately - good thing we love Mexican food! Weather here when we arrived was very hot and muggy, which was a surprise as we expected drier weather in line with Southern CA desert weather. However, the last few days have cooled off and it has become quite pleasant in the 70's. No sight of mosquitoes as yet which makes Gail extremely happy! It seems as though most of our boat issues are due to loose wires, nuts, connections, etc. which is saving us a lot of expense. Today's project is replacing the motor mounts and then Dave will install a replacement bilge pump later this week. After that, hopefully the boat will be back in shape and ready for the next crossing. Keeping our fingers crossed!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Cabo San Lucas!

After over 800 miles and ten days, we made it to Cabo San Lucas and what an adventure!  There was the good and the bad and the downright ugly.  The Baja-HaHa Rally comprised of about 125 sailboats.  On this rally down the coast, the following problems were noted among the fleet:
Transmission failures - 3 boats
Engine failures - 2 boats
Lost rudder - 1 boat
Autopilots died - 3 boats
Wind vane broken - 1 boat
Bilge pump failure - 1 boat
Water pump failure - 1 boat
Water makers died - 2 boats
Rigging issues - 1 boat
Sails ripped - 2 boats
Spinnakers tangled in Halyards/Stays - 6 boats
Microwave died - 1 boat

There are probably others, but these are the issues that I am aware of.  Hearing the problems of these other boats really made me appreciate the seriousness of this undertaking, although some more so than others (engines, rudders, and transmissions vs failed microwave). 

The Baja-HaHa Rally officially ended last night with an awards ceremony (we received third place in our division) and the boats are dispersing over the next several days, with many continuing on to La Paz as we will as well in the next few days.  As expected, this journey has brought many highs and lows, and with all of these engine mechanical failures, I am seriously reconsidering my thirty day journey across the South Pacific ocean (a plane flight into Tahiti is sounding really good right now), but we shall see.  Dave may be seriously looking for crew.

For the highs, as expected, we met some really great new people (crew that included an 87 year old grandmother), and attended several well sponsored parties.  The parties in the anchorages were so much fun and we had a great time!  I am also thankful for the wonderful winds we had on the second leg and the fact that our new water maker, new self steering wind vane, wind generator, and solar panels are all working great (and the refrigerator).  May they all continue to do so....

Cabo San Lucas is quite an experience after the emptiness and quietness of our first two stops.  It is quite the resort town with continual loud music (6:00 AM on Sunday morning - please no!!!, hotel parties, and water activities).  We did visit the infamous Sammy Haggar's Cabo Wabo restaurant yesterday where I had the most delicious red chicken enchilada.  Final item of note is that there was a sport fishing contest here the night before last and the prize purse was $1.5M.  There was an extremely happy (and loud) boat that night.  And speaking of fishing, we did not have much time to fish with all our boat issues, but Dave did manage to catch a skip-jack tuna (aka bonito), which neither of us had had before with its dark red flesh.  However, I baked it in the oven and it was rather interesting and tasted good at the time.  Others in our Rally caught marlin, dorado, yellowtail, and one even caught a 300 lb great white shark (he had to let that one go after a picture)!  So as you can see, never a dull moment around here!  Until next time...


Fish was welcome after weeks of chicken and beef!

Rainy Start in San Diego

Welcome Break between Legs

Friday, October 25, 2013

Last Port in US

We are now in San Diego awaiting the start of the Baja HaHa Rally on Monday. There are 165 boats signed up for this 750 mile trip down the Baja Coast to Cabo San Lucas. We should arrive in about a week. The boat is finally ready except for some final provisioning. On our trip down the coast from Oxnard we stopped in Marina Del Rey, Long Beach, Newport Beach and Dana Point and did some Southern California sightseeing. Now it's off to Mexico for the next 4 months or so and then on to the South Pacific. We likely won't be back in the good ole USofA for another year, maybe the government will be working properly by then ... Here is Starshine anchored in Newport Beach.

Monday, October 7, 2013

All Set!

Well, it looks like we are all set and ready to begin our long anticipated adventure! After six months of much more hard work than anticipated for both the boat and getting paperwork for a house and college kids in order, Dave and I believe we are about as ready as we will ever be. We had a "shakedown" day last weekend to test all of the new "toys" on the boat to Santa Cruz, one of the local islands here by Santa Barbara. That is when we discovered that our water maker did not work (specifically the boost pump). So Dave spent the greater part of this past week uninstalling the pump and taking it apart. Luckily he was able to discover the problem, repair the pump, and now the water maker works great - 15 gallons of water per hour! This means I will maybe get to take a shower once a week and even get to do laundry by hand in a bucket instead of shlepping it to a laundromat. Oh joy.... Dave also spent a considerable amount of time installing and hooking up the solar panel arrays on the side of the boat. With each panel in business, we should be getting 20 amps which will help the batteries considerably! Also checked the two electric and two manual bilge pumps, and the electric ones especially seem to be working (hopefully we will never need to use them)! The joke is that while everything is working, we should just close up the boat and go home as this will probably be the only time that everything is working as it should be. So today we leave Oxnard, where the boat has been since last November (both on the hard and at a slip) and we will start making our way down the coast toward San Diego (with stops at Marina Del Rey, Long Beach, and possibly Newport Beach). The Baja-HaHa Rally leaves San Diego October 28th. It is so exciting to realize this 40 year dream of Dave's finally get to play out. Included picture of the anchorage last weekend at Santa Cruz (Albert's anchorage) for our shakedown day. Also picture of the installed solar panel after all of Dave's hard work...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Life at Sea Level

We are no longer dirt dwellers! We have moved aboard.

Now all we need to do is finish up some last minute chores including wiring up the two solar panels, provisioning, getting rid of Kayla's car (she is in school now and no longer needs it) and we are ready to take off. We hope to head out to the Channel Islands next week and then begin working our way down the coast to San Diego for the start of the Baja HaHa October 28. We will enjoy the winter in the Sea of Cortez and Mexico and then off to the South Pacific in the spring. The house is empty and we have several potential renters and we hope one will move in in the next few weeks. We will update with pictures and our route map once we get our InReach Iridium system working.

Saturday, August 10, 2013


Starshine is finally back afloat after 8 months on the hard (and lots of hard labor!). She is docked in Anacapa Isle Marina in Channel Islands Harbor. Still lots of work to do but we're getting closer to escape velocity. Only about 2 months left before we head south. This weekend we are moving most of what's left in the CA house to AZ to the rental house and then we will hopefully get renters here in the CA house and move aboard Starshine for good. We took a quick shakedown sail this week to make sure everything still works after the long layover (and it does!).

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The masts are back up!

Well, we took the main mast down to fix some bothersome noises due to wiring problems inside the mast and ended up getting in much deeper than we planned. The noise turned out to be a loose wire conduit that was banging around and which was easily fixed. After finishing that, Chris, working on the boat next to Starshine in the yard asked if I was going to paint the mast while it was down. After thinking about it, seeing how bad the paint job was and talking to Chris about helping me I decided to go for it. I spent a day taking all the hardware and rigging off the mast and then spent several days sanding. Part way through the process, I realized how bad the paint job really was and decided if I was going to do the main mast then I should really do the mizzen and the two booms as well. So I got the crane to come and take down the mizzen and started the whole process of removing the hardware and sanding on that mast. Once the sanding was done, Gail and I spent several days priming and sanding and priming and sanding (2 coats) both masts. After that I found Chris (he had long since moved on to other jobs on other boats) and had him come back and help me put on 3 coats of Awlgrip on the two masts (again, with lots more sanding between coats) and I was almost there. All that was left was several days of re-attaching all the hardware, repairing and/or replacing the halyards and re-attaching all the rod rigging. In the mean time, Gail was busy making new sail covers for the main, mizzen and staysail. The main and mizzen covers are stack packs built using the very informative how-to video from Sailrite. Finally, the big day arrived and the crane showed up to re-step both masts. I made sure to put a 2013 silver dollar under the main mast and an Australian silver 3 pence coin (from my birth year) under the mizzen mast. While the whole process took much more time and effort (and money) than I expected, the results are awesome. Now to finish all the other projects I have already started - replacing the steering cable, repairing and re-bedding all the thru-hulls, replacing the cutlass bearing, repacking the stuffing box and refinishing all the teak. Not to mention the projects I haven't started yet - adding the wind vane and the water maker, painting the bottom and on and on ...

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Getting ready for our next adventure ...

Wow, it's been a year and a half since we've posted but now it's time! Both Dave and Gail are now retired (OK, wishful thinking but at least temporarily). Gail's facility was closed last year and Dave's contract with GeoEye was terminated when the company was bought by their competitor DigitalGlobe. So no more work excuses, it's time to go sailing again! Starshine is currently on the hard in Oxnard CA where we are in the process of a major re-fit. We have too many projects on-going to even begin to list them all but some of the key ones include: all new canvas, a new watermaker, a Hydrovane self steering system, some new electronics, updated plumbing and lots of maintenance. Here are just a few pictures of some of the upgrades: a rebuilt windlass and anchor locker, new head direct overboard discharge and new companionway cover. Gail also made some awesome cushions for the cockpit and is in the process of making all new sail covers including a stack pack for the main and mizzen. The current plan is to get Starshine back in the water sometime this summer before heading South as part of the Baja Ha-Ha on October 27 (http://www.baja-haha.com/). After cruising the Sea of Cortez and Mexico this winter, we plan to set out on the Pacific Puddle Jump next spring (http://www.pacificpuddlejump.com/), ultimately bound for Australia. In the near term, Dave is headed to the Abacos in the Bahamas to help Chris sail Faro, a Tayana 37, home to the Chesapeake next week.