Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pluggin' away

Well, we had a great vacation (see previous post entitled Motorcycle Holiday in March) but we have been working on the boat since last October and have not had time to update. Here's a short summary of what we can remember that we were doing before we left:
  • The refrigerator and freezer boxes were rebuilt including the lids and are now ready for our new keel cooled Frig-a-Boat unit, which runs much quieter than the old unit. This is especially important as our master stateroom adjoins the galley wall.
  • The now-required holding tank was installed, including the venting and associated plumbing. Much bigger job than originally thought.
  • The solar panel wiring and wind generator wiring was done and is now all ready for the panels to be attached to the top of the arch.
  • The head was stripped of all appliances (sink, toilet, and upper cabinets), repaired, and rebuilt. After lots of scrubbing, the head has 3 coats of bright white paint. Will include before and after pictures once the new countertops, tile, and cabinets are put in.
  • LED lighting was installed in the cockpit - very handy for coming and going after dark.
Since we have been back, Jordan has been working on the engine. Apparently, the oil pressure problem was not solved last year, so he raised the engine up and did a bunch of guy-stuff. It appears to be working now - fingers crossed! Will check it again later in the month.

Accessible engine compartment

He has also built and installed a new cabinet above the settee for storage. The door to the cabinet will be built and installed later. The next planned job is to start working on the stripped ceilings. Jordan will be building wooden panels and I will be painting them white when ready. The new painted ceilings will make the boat appear brighter.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Motorcycle holiday

We escaped to Mexico for two months taking a break from winter, snow, and boat work. In Mexico alone, we put 10,000 km on our motorcycle as we traveled down the Pacific Coast as far as Huatulco and came back up through the Mexican Highlands. Jordan's parents joined us for 1 month, his son joined us for 1 week, and we spent time in Yuma visiting my parents and Jordan's sister and husband. We met terrific people, saw fabulous sights, and had amazing adventures.

Jordan and Judy by Mexican beach

Our Favourite Beach was Zipolite - also called Beach of Death due to its strong rip tide! We found several deserted beaches but Zipolite, with only a few tourists, was our favourite. Long stretches of flat sand with the sun rising at one end and setting at the other. We found ourselves postponing leaving here more than once! (Zipolite, State of Oaxaca: Lat. 15 39N Long. 96 31W)

Sun rising at east end of Zipolite beach...

...and setting at west end - fabulous!

Bahia de Conejos in Huatulco (favourite beach of locals)

Bahia San Agustin (16 km from Huatulco) with Jordan

Jordan's Mom and Dad - morning walk at Zipolite

Sunrise on Fisherman's Monument at San Agustinillo (near Zipolite)

Okay, okay - enough beaches!

Our Favourite Activity was going out in a small boat where we saw manta rays and a blue whale AND swam with wild turtles and dolphins! We were also given the opportunity to snorkel, seeing beautifully coloured marine life after boating to another location. We were very happy to discover that Mexico now is very protective of all sea turtles. (San Agustinillo, State of Oaxaca: Lat. 15 41N Long. 96 14W)

Guide with Jordan's son, Aaron

Our Favourite City was the very quaint Taxco, a world UNESCO heritage site. This colonial city of 75,000 was built from silver booms. It lies on the surface of a steep mountainside where all the roads are more like narrow alleys that meander and zigzag throughout the city. Taxis are all Volkswagen beetles that fit the roads perfectly! The church, Santa Prisca Parish, located in the main zocalo (city square) and built in the 1700s has the most impressive baroque exterior. Close to Taxco, we walked a couple of kilometres through the outstanding caves called Grutas de Cacahuamilpa. (Taxco de Alarcon, State of Guerrero: Lat. 18 33N Long. 99 36W)

Incredible view of Taxco

Santa Prisca Parish (in background) in zocalo

View from Hotel Victoria

Our Favourite Road, known as The Road of 3,000 Curves, was riding from Durango to Mazatlan. From Durango, the road goes along a high altitude plateau to El Salto (about half way) where the ride was great. But from El Salto to Mazatlan is the most incredible, scenic, winding road that snakes along the edge of the plateau with canyons and vistas below. (Durango, State of Durango: Lat. 24 01N Long. 104 40W) (Mazatlan, State of Sinaloa: Lat. 23 13N Long. 106 25W)

Most impressive

View of a village nestled below

Devil's Ridge (straight down on both sides of road!)

Other Highlights:
1. We watched a man with his donkey making Mezcal - a prized alcohol similar to Tequila in Mexico - which we purchased on the spot and thoroughly enjoyed later!


2. We ate roasted corn at a roadside stand after hiking to the top of an inactive volcano, Nevado de Toluca.


3. We had the opportunity to visit former Fleet friends on SV Dolphin Tales at a marina in Mazatlan who took us on a day sail to an island for swimming and tanning.


4. Did Jordan get any gas from this pump in San Miguel? (State of Guanajuato in Central Mexico)


5. An actual street name, also in San Miguel...


6. We also visited beautiful Finca El Pacifico, a 5th generation coffee plantation, and drank fabulous freshly roasted organic coffee. Did you know Mexico is the world's 4th largest producer of coffee?

7. We hiked to see Las Cascadas Magicas de Copalitilla and swam in one of the 40 waterfalls surrounded by a rain forest atmosphere.

8. Near Barra de Viejo, we released newborn sea turtles into the ocean - very exciting! And discovered a turtle sanctuary in San Agustinillo (www.tortuguitas.com.mx).

9. Finally, on our way home, we stopped in Calistoga (California USA) at Dr. Wilkinson's Hot Springs Resort and luxuriated in hot mud baths, whirlpool, steamroom, warm towel wraps, and massage. What a way to end a trip!

The roads and scenery of the areas that we travelled from Mazatlan south and up through the Highlands center were the most incredibly fun motorcycle touring roads to be had anywhere.

The only way to go!