27 January 2012

Don't Panic

Dear Family, Friends, and Readers Worldwide,

We have an emergency plan and you* are not part of it.

If we drop off the face of the earth during our journey, stop blogging, stop emailing and stop updating our positions, don't panic. We do not want you to call anyone on our behalf.

 The people involved in our emergency plan know what their roles are and know when and in what conditions to start panicking.

 So just relax, sit back and enjoy the show.

The show: The Pacific Seafarers Net is the net we plan to be checking into (again, no panic if we don't). They follow boats in transit across the Pacific. The net is everyday at 0300UTC** warmup and the roll call starts at 0325UTC. You can listen online and they post a list of reporting vessels each day here. My call sign is the one we will use for check in (VA7LIV).

Sincerely, Team Giddyup

 PS - We know you are all reasonable people but we thought we should bring up the topic because we know of at least one boat that had a reader call the Coast Guard.

 *Unless you happen to be Livia's parents.
**To convert from UTC/GMT to US/Canada local times, check out this .pdf.

20 January 2012

Pacific Prep: General thoughts

In somewhere in the vicinity of 7 weeks we will take off on an ocean passage, the length of which will be longer than the sum of all of the other passages we have ever made.

Writing about our prep for this passage is complicated because we’ve been dreaming of this passage since we made the decision to cruise. Our decision of which boat to buy, what gear to add, and what experience to gain for ourselves were always measured against the yardstick of the Mexico to Marquesas run.

This is the biggie, or at least the first *really* biggie for us.

We have stunned several people who have asked us what we have to do to get the boat ready by saying “nothing really – just normal maintenance items and provisioning”. It's not that we haven't had a lot to do, but rather that we've been doing it in pushes over the last year. So much of the prep for this passage was already completed for the Tofino to San Francisco passage. The waters off the coast of N America aren’t to be taken lightly, and we prepared ourselves and the boat accordingly. The only prep we had after that passage has been logistics and items that have come up for repair or maintenance since July and we’ve stayed on top of most of that list. The boat had to be shipshape for the last passage and we’ve worked hard to keep it that way. Still, logistics, including such things as customs clearance/exit research, guidebooks, research on possible multiple seasons in the S Pacific, and the first stages of provisioning, has taken up large chunks of the time we've spent in La Paz since the end of November (more on that later).

At this point, in mid-January, we’re feeling so prepared that we are squeezing in several weeks of kiteboarding and a second set of fly-in guests in the next month before we knuckle down to get ready for a mid-March-ish departure.

When I was sitting around in Victoria, reading the blogs of people in Mexico who were preparing to jump, there was always a sudden decrease in posting as boats hit Mexico and prepared for their "puddle jump". In addition to simply being busy, I sense that many people realized that the whole blogging thing sounded better in theory than the actuality of taking time to write in the midst of the fun and then trying to find internet to post it. It is a transition period, perhaps, that causes all of us to sift through our blogging motivations. Are we writing primarily for our audience (family, friends, readers) or primarily for ourselves?

Although we are in our own vortex of activity and preparations, I find that sitting down and putting thoughts into text is my own way of marking the moments for myself now, and for the future. I process what I’m feeling and what is happening while writing and I love re-living each anchorage by sifting through the photos and writing up our virtual log. l think that all bloggers, myself included, want an audience, but the audience would not be enough of a motivation for me to pass up some fun or to squeeze time in between our preparations.

18 January 2012

Best of 2011

Time for a NUMBERS post.

Google Analytics reports that we had 35,363 visits to this blog from 11,133 unique visitors with 77,740 pageviews. People averaged 2.2 pages per visit and spent an average of 2 minutes reading per visit. We have 357 people who view this blog via a feedreader and 165 people who have the posts emailed to them.

So, what are you all reading?

“Best” is probably arguable, but the top 10 most viewed pages on this blog in 2011 were:
  1. Who are we
  2. Why Estrellita 5.10b
  3. Cost of cruising
  4. The Plan
  5. From the beginning
  6. Recent photos
  7. All posts labeled FAQ, using label cloud on sidebar
  8. Where we are
  9. 5 cruising toys

As you can see, these are mostly navigational or background from the nuts and bolts section of the sidebar. If we remove posts linked from the sidebar, we get a top 10 that looks like this:
  1. 5 cruising toys
  2. Southbound from BC-WA Cohort
  3. Best and worst of the WC of Vancouver Island
  4. How long will it take?
  5. Passage to Haida Gwaii
  6. Day 1: Southbound from Tofino
  7. Full enclosure
  8. Snapshot at 12 months
  9. Day 6: Sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge
  10. Feeding the dream

The top 10 sites that people came from if they were referred to our blog from another website were:
  1. threesheetsnw.com
  2. sv-totem.blogspot.com
  3. cruisersforum.com
  4. zerotocruising.com
  5. svbellastar.com
  6. windborneinpugetsound.blogspot.com
  7. svsyrah.com
  8. newlysalted.blogspot.com
  9. interviewwithacruiser.blogspot.com
  10. sailnet.com

The top 10 search terms that drove people to our blog from google or other search engines were almost entirely variations of our names and our boat name with the exceptions of people searching for these three items:
  1. current table british columbia (presumably finding this post)
  2. sv iridium victoria bc
  3. mahina rocna

16 January 2012

Our barnacle farm

Waterline barnacles

When we are full water, full fuel and full provisions we ride a little lower in the waterline and the area of the hull that isn’t protected by special paint is underwater. As we eat, drink and be merry, the boat gets lighter and we go back to our painted waterline.

Shrimp on LuizIn BC we had never had any substantial barnacle growth. Maybe a half dozen after a year and all below the waterline. Well, we had that many just on our waterline and down below was a little factory. Even though the ones at the waterline were out of the water, apparently the barnacles survived thrived by staying wet with the splashes from wavelets.

We hired a diver for the first time to clean our entire bottom. Carol had done some cleaning of the prop and bottom free diving and even changed one of our zincs. It is an exhausting job and we were delighted to pay someone $1/foot to roll out their full barnacle killing, gentle hull cleaning accoutrement.

 Shrimp on Luiz

La Paz is known for whale sharks. Giant, gentle beasts that feed on tiny shrimps. Those tiny shrimps are what is coating the diver in these photos. We can hear them all throughout the night through our hull making little clicking sounds.

Our prop is now running without cavitations and we gained at least a knot of speed under power and probably half of that under sail from having a clean hull.

10 January 2012

The Critter Report

Dorado Gecko? Sand Bass (delicious and easy to catch) La cucaracha

09 January 2012

Caleta Partida – Sea Caves

CamanoeAfter posting the last bit, I realized I hadn’t mentioned our time at Caleta Partida except in reference to watersports.

It was a windy place and we were excited about that because we had hoped to kiteboard. Unfortunately, high peaks make for gusty conditions and thus no kiteboarding. Caleta Partida is a bay formed by the intersection of two islands: Islas Partida and Espirtu Santo.

We followed Camanoe through the pass between the islands to see the sea caves on the other side. There were two big caves and one would have made the perfect secluded (slightly scary) skinny dipping spot if it had been a touch warmer and if we hadn’t had those pesky Camanoe folks ;)

Caleta Partida sea caves

In addition to the usual characters, we hung out with Pyxis and partook of their inflatable SUP towing craziness. Fun, fun folks.

07 January 2012

San Gabriel & Balandra

We left Caleta Partida for San Gabriel which we had hiked to from Playa Bonanza but not anchored at. Somehow we managed to not take any photos of the gorgeous San Gabriel beach or of Thomas and Allison on Cat (yes, the catamaran) whom we hung out with again there.

We went from San Gabriel to Balandra.

Balandra

Balandra is not a well protected harbor but we had two nights of light wind and were able to anchor and enjoy the flat water, the windless heat, the white sand and fantastic snorkeling. It was a wonderful way to transition from at anchor to returning to the hustle, bustle and social scene of La Paz.

Balandra

All along the Western portion of the bay is great snorkeling. There is an outer reef marked by a buoy with great coral and fish and then a series of underwater boulders and even one swim-thru cave on the Western shore. I’m new to free diving and the boulders and relatively shallow white sand bottom were a great place to practice. As long as I start clearing my ears as soon as my head goes under I am mostly limited by my own anxiety at this point. It is very fun to chase fish underwater.

Balandra - Livia free diving

05 January 2012

A Paper Captain

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This is my favorite sculpture on the boardwalk (malecon) in La Paz.

The paper boat, the paper hat, the sense of dreaming, longing, expectation (or is it sadness?) in his face. Gazing off onto a distant horizon. What a great symbol of the cruisers in La Paz, n’est-ce pas?

03 January 2012

Water toys

It is becoming more and more clear to us how much water toys can add to our cruising fun.

 IMG_6115 (1280x853)

Carol was recently towed around on our kiteboard (which is much the same as a wakeboard) and a few days later both he and I took turns being towed around the anchorage behind a fast dinghy on an inflatable SUP (which we covet).

IMG_6112 (1280x853)

Thank you Navigo! Thank you Pyxis!

01 January 2012

Prospero Ano Nuevo!

Happy New Year from La Paz!

Last year we watched the fireworks at the Seattle Space Needle and this year we watched the fireworks shoot off over the town of La Paz, complete with loud live music and gunfire and flares at midnight. We toasted the new year with champagne and sparklers on our dock with SVs Eagle and Cat.

Even better, SV Shannon organized a "polar bear" swim today (New Years Day) at 10am on the beach in front of our dock and about a dozen of us went for a dip in various costumes. Of course, the water is pool temperature so not much fortitude was necessary.

As far as we know (or care to know), this was the inaugural La Paz Polar Bear Swim. We challenge future years to do it better! Oh, and yep, that's me in a full dress and tiara.