Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Letter from Love Song

March 31, 2009. Part of another letter from Kathy & Allen:We had lunch with the locals and it was $4,000 francs, nearly $50 USD! (It's about 85f./$1.00US, so it's a lot more zeros than with pesos!) We withdrew $ at the cash machine and the bills were so huge Allen was wondering what kind of wallets they need to hold such big bills! We got 3 oranges, a grapefruit, cucumber, 2 ice creams, dz. eggs, and a couple beers for nearly $50.00 too! We did manage to learn a few Marquesan words for hello and goodbye, and we were terribly embarrassed that we hardly knew a stitch of French and realized how spoiled we were in Mexico. Today we went to the beach where the river runs into the ocean and we hung with all these little Marquesan children and learned a lot from them, the must've thought we were hilarious with our mixed up Sprench. No kidding, the women mostly wear floral sarongs and a flower behind their ears, for real!

Bandaras Bay Regatta

Allison says:
We just finished the Bandaras Bay Regatta on Saturday. That is a big sailboat race in Puerto Vallarta. They put us in the class against professional racing boats (because our boat is a ‘racing’ type, even tho the crew members are not 'professional racing types'). Anyway, that made me a bit nervous – my ego worried that we wouldn’t be able to win. Merle and I talked about the spiritual significance of that a bit. We decided that we weren’t supposed to get the ‘ego boost’ from winning, and that the spiritual lesson had to be down some other path, so we were open to finding it. And once my ego calmed down a bit and I realized it was okay if we just did our best, I felt better.

We took on 3 crew members (not including the 5 children aboard) – Jan from sv Cappricio, and Behan and Jamie from sv Totem. Merle, Jan and Jamie spent 2 days prepping the boat – greasing and lubing and adjusting and re-fitting what was necessary, and cleaning and otherwise preparing what was ok. Then we taped the number 17 to our bow, and we raced.

Jan did the mainsail and sheet. He knows a lot about sailing, but is also open to learning new things, which was perfect for his position. We used the mainsail in ways I had never thought of before. He is quite feisty, and has a great positive outlook; a real asset to our motley crew. Behan )pronounced Bee-Ann) baked the most glorious bread and provided decadent lunches every day, as well as being the fordeck crew who ensured smooth tacks and jibes by preventing tangles. She also looked out and called wind changes, proximity to other boats, sighted the marks and gave us great encouragement. And she was the one who gently reminded us to hang off the upside rail (rail bunnies, or rail meat) when we weren't doing anything else. Merle and Jamie ran the aft deck – genoa and asymmetrical sheets and halyards. Merle is very strong, and was great at hoisting and trimming the sails, and at rigging the asymmetrical so that it could be opened easily, dowsed quickly, and even jibed! He also helped me by calling out the speed and bearing, and he makes a very sexy spinnaker pole! Besides sharing duties of the aft deck including winching like a (happy) madman, Jamie was our tactician. He has done a bit of racing, so it made sense for him to call the shots – when to jibe, when to tack, when to let off the mainsail or point higher or lower, when to furl the genoa or dowse the asymmetrical. And all the time watching the other boats and their wind to see what was happening on the course and planning ahead in the best interest of Kenta Anae. Our ears were all tuned in to his words; his positive comments and praise buoyed up the moral of the group, while his calm style and demeanor also transferred into us as we did our respective jobs. And I was the helmsman (helmswoman?) so I steered the boat, and watched only the telltails on the sails and direction; as a result I didn't see out much which is pretty funny for the guy steering the rig! So it was great afterwards to see the race pictures! I also contributed cold drinks to Behan’s amazing lunches. And I did the Kenta Anae pre-race invocation and prayer and the post-race thank you. We made a terrific crew.

I was amazed at the positive attitude of our crew. What a pleasure to sail with this group of people! Even through the tight spots, we were calm and happy. I was the most nervous of all I think, and grateful that it all worked out okay. And we gained great strides over the course of 3 days, both working with each other, and sailing our vessel the best way we knew how. By the third day, we all knew our jobs and could do them well. And we loved each other way more by the end. I would sail with my crew again in a heartbeat. They were awesome.

The first race was Thursday, March 19. Fast, good start, tight sailing with the other boats in extremely close proximity. We came in 4th on the short course, losing 3rd to our closest opponent, Lussino, number 18, a Mexican racing boat. Friday was the long course. Another good start, and then hope for the best with our short (read: slower) hull. An American warship in the bay was our only obstacle besides sailboats. A great day of racing ending with an awesome challenge for the finish line – us with asymmetrical flying between 8 and 9 knots, and Lussino with genoa up ahead of us but at only about 6 knots. We caught up to them fast, and charged across the finish line – only four close seconds after Lussino; a very close race. We ended up with 6th place that day. (We did not know at the time, but our loss to him by 4 seconds made the difference between placing and not placing overall. Who would have thought?) Saturday was the last race, another short race. We thought we had a great start, but it turned out we were over the line. They called us on it and we had to go back and cross the line again – losing both time and distance to the other boats. As we re-started, our tactician kept us on a port tack (wind coming over the port side of the boat, leaned over on our starboard side) rather than following the ‘bad air’ of all of the boats ahead of us on the starboard tack. As we sailed, the wind changed in our favour, and we ended up in a great position, finishing 3rd, and well before our closest opposition. Overall, they gave us 4th place in the racing class! We think that is remarkable considering the training that some of the sailboats undertake for this race. But even better than that was the attitude of our crew, and how good we felt after each race, no matter how we did. We drank beer on the way home, and toasted the crew and Kenta Anae, all with big smiles on. I think it’s the happiest I have ever been when I 'lost'! And in that way, we won! Big time! And recognizing that we did our best and knowing that we could be happy with that was remarkable. That was one of the most important spiritual lessons of the race. Race results and some great photos by Strange Bird are on http://www.banderasbayregatta.com/.

Merle says:
Oh that stupid ham exam was in the way of my preparation. So after I got the 500 questions of nerd-dom downloaded out of the brain, I could focus on what was really important – racing. So luckily (since I am on ‘holidays’) I could go from one job to another and worked for 48 hours on race preparation. So we got some gas out and some brushes and inhaled fumes for the first day, eight winches rebuilt and buttery smooth. And then on the second day we ripped off the dodger, reduced some friction, oh and removed the weight, that’s right too – pulled a bit out of the ends. Luckily the rule book said to remove the anchor – so we removed all the anchors except one (don’t want anyone to hit the back anchor!) Then we practiced for half an hour while there was a introductory parade, showed up at the line green as grass with a good tactician. Something about the usual caribou attitude – pin it till you hit something. And within 15 seconds of the start, we just about hit something - the biggest fastest J-boat race boat in the class. They had starboard tack rights and luckily they had some discretion other wise we’d have had to start a second time or get a hole in our side. The next two hours we learned how much we didn’t know and the intensity levels and learning curves were suitably steep. Tacking your house without losing any speed, and jibing your spinnaker around marks with 18 knots of wind left us with a fairly humble experience. We dualled with the other slow boat in the class for most of the race. And karmically finished fourth, one spot behind the boat who did not t-bone us at the start. Corrected time is a beautiful thing (when you have the highest handicap!) We found that after race 1 we understood that we could hang in there with the racers so we looked forward to race 2 which would show our boat slowness even more as a long waterline has the leading advantage. Day 2 was more relaxed, open starts, longer sessions between frantic boat handling maneouvers, and smoother more experienced crew so we sailed a smooth race and thought we had a good finish in the bag but the waterline monsters sailed faster than us and we ended up with 6th. Little did we know as we were overtaking our nemesis from Mexico (Lussino #18) with our spinnaker flying, in an effort not to lose control of the spinnaker at 9 knots, we gave him some wind, and we finished a mere 4 seconds after him at the finish line, after 23 miles, nose to nose. It was exciting indeed to be hunting down our archrival and have the race course 100 meters too short to beat him. That difference in placement allowed the Mexicans to finish third overall. Day 3 saw us anticipating great boat handling requirements as the triangle windward leeward course demanded accurate sail handling. We wind tested at the start and lined up in our (now) usual ultra aggressive fashion. While trimming Kenta Anae in for max speed at the start and getting starboard tacked by the competitive boats running with us at the line we inched across, not just a little, but the whole frigging boat. Tactician yelling go higher, bowman yelling go lower, helmswoman caught in the middle, we heard the horn. Everyone started, then one boat had to come back. Kenta Anae. It’s like starting a mountain bike race, and with the first 5 cranks of the pedals your front wheel falls off. It’s a bit of a letdown after all the energy you put into a good start.
The penalty for crossing the line early - starting too fast - is to return and cross over the start line again. So the simplest fastest maneouver was to jibe return, cross the line, and head out in the exact opposite direction as everyone else in the field, tacking towards the windward mark. Since we had been doing some manifesting for good wind for just us, now would be an excellent time, and we got it! Clean air and good wind angles had us sailing towards the first turn muy rapido compared to our competitors. Twenty minutes in, we were back up to 3rd and had gotten over our emotional start trauma and pressed on to the finish. With the underdog start, Now the crew with the most to lose became the crew with the most to win. And with everyone focused on making the best of what we had left, we sailed admirably. Tactician Jamie reveled in the ‘lift’ and our lucky break. Helmswoman Allison watched the telltales and spoke to no one. Her only instructions were to sail fast. Mainsheet Jan trimmed the main traveler not for luffing (?) but to help us balance the helm so the rudder could remain straight, and we could go faster. Bowman Merle switched from the a-symetric port to starboard tacks and repacked the tack and clew while hanging onto the boat at 15 to 20 degrees, Kenta Anae’s bow spreading salt water on the decks. Foredeckwoman Behan kept track of everyone else on the course including sail angels (angles?) and wind changes. At the windward mark 1 there were only 2 boats ahead of us over the whole field. Spinnakers were setting and genoas were dowsing. We were becoming a well oiled machine. We flew the asymmetric around the second mark with the intention to jibe it. We had been thinking about this mammoth maneouver for the whole regatta and it still eluded us as to how we could make it happen smoothly. The wind blew, we talked it through. It had been our Achilles heel in race 1 and it would determine how well we did in the last race. At mark 2, helmswoman A carried the boat around the mark, helping the main to blanket the asymettrical and people raced around and winches squealed and everyone waited in anticipation for that thing to reinflate without a twist. It hovered, closed, pulsed, fondled the headstay and by gosh it inflated! The boat surged forward back up to speed on the opposite point of sail. We were doing 8.5 knots. With that maneouver in the bag we were all sure that we could sail and raced merrily along beside half million dollar catamarans from the B class. Only 2 legs left to go. For me the next part of the race was pretty busy and I didn’t get to see out much. It’s a short trip across the course under full spinnaker and good wind. We pulled sails down and put them up and rounded the mark and trimmed, adjusted, and beat to the weather mark. The one good thing about that leg was that we could see the Mexicans far behind us for a change. We beat back to the weather mark for the fourth leg, the wind was stronger the lean angles were greater. Five kids in the boat played down below, sliding from one side of the cabin to the other while we tried to keep the tack angles crisp and winched like demons. We rounded mark 1 for the final leeward leg, a 180 degree turn. We tacked, jibed, dowsed genoa and hoisted the spinnaker all at the same time. Everyone was busy. In the maylay, we lost the sock hoisting rope, dangling 20 feet to the side of the boat and 20 feet off the water from the masthead. There was no way to get it back so the sock hoisted itself, and the spinnaker filled like we had been practicing for years. Sail angels indeed. With that little maneouver underway we were headed for the finish line. Our tactician reminded us we would dowse after the finish line and not a moment before. So that dangling sock halyard, now 45 feet in the air, was going to have to wait. About this time the kids came out to see what we were doing. It was the same as always, other boats around, no one could tell how we were placing, so they went below for more interesting games. Kenta Anae was reaching 9 knots under spinnaker. Everyone was pretty excited knowing we had a good race going and only a little while longer to see how it all turned out. Our helmswoman A, now feeling that she was adept with her craft was putting on sunscreen with one hand, adjusting the chart plotter with her other hand and steering with her forarms. Captain Merle at that point was quick to point out that we were still racing. The spinnakers in the distance were very colorful. We had held onto fourth place as the long waterline boats ripped the downward legs fast. We blew by the committee boat concerned with only one thing – how to dowse the spinnaker without the sock, without running over it, without losing any fingers, and without going aground on the beach towards which we were headed full speed. We talked it over before the finish line, so now was the time to see if it would happen. Jan released the mainsail to blanket the whole operation. We sailed dead downwind to get the most hiding room for dowsing the spinnaker. Fordeck lady B released the tack, mainsheet trimmer J ran the asymmetric sheets, tactician J and bowman M pulled like hell. Fordeck lady B let the cleat go and the previously flaked tack rope zipped out of the blocks so fast that we were glad she didn’t lose a finger, as her body flew forward and landed at the mast. She was quick to recover, and continued to use her body to keep the dowsed portion of the asymmetric under control on deck. Ten seconds later, the head of the sail hit the deck, we opened the hatch and threw the whole soggy mess onto the bed below!! Complete success!! With all the death defying stuff out of the way, we congratulated ourselves on a good race. Matero asked if it was time to drink beer – cheers – and to eat, and sure enough, it was time! We all answered an enthusiastic 'yes'! And as in the previous days, we motored our way home, and fed our bodies and our spirits with ice cold ballenas (beers the size of whales), homemade bread and handmade sandwiches that were the envy of the fleet; the love smooshed out and dripped down your hands! It was a challenge to keep the beer in the glass and the sandwiches off our shirts. We congratulated everyone. White guys were high fiving left and right. At this point, just like the other two days, we had no idea how we finished. And it diddn’t matter. We had just raced our best race in our (very) short racing careers. And all the beurocracy about who won and who lost was immaterial. We got her back to the slip, converted ourselves into concert goers, went out for tacos on the street and live music to celebrate. It was the best music we have found in La Cruz since we have been here – played tableside while we processed endorphins and anticipated the final results. The bean counters awarded us 3rd in the last race for 4th overall, one place behind the Mexican race boat, Lussino that we dualled all weekend. This euphoria lasted several days. We learned more about sailing in 3 days of racing than we had in 5 months of cruising. That was more valuable to us than any hardware at the podium. And now we are more competent cruisers because of it. Our trusty yacht basked in the event without any breakage, took back the anchors, and became a cruising boat and our home once again. We owe a huge thank you to the crew who joined us. Without their help, we would have definitely been outraced. They brought not only valuable lessons to the table, but also the ability to experience the euphoria of success all around. M (One more thing - Merle did pass his ham exams, so he is officially a ham radio operator now!!)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Interview with Shandro, age 6.5 years

How do you like living on a sailboat?
Shandro: It’s way cool. Slow for a car, but fast for a house! I like jumping off the boat on my boogie board and going for a ride on the water. I like when I get onto my boogie board and dad pulls me with the motor on the dinghy. My favorite parts of sailing … I like when we are going really fast and the big waves are on the deck.

What are the parts of our journey that you liked the best so far?
Shandro: I liked watching that truck when it drove off the cliff. (We don’t remember this part.) I liked the ferry rides near Seattle. And I liked driving through the rain and watching the water taxies from our boat, driving by the police docks (in San Diego, CA). I liked going the special pirate ship park (in Ventura, CA). I liked when Josey and Lulu took me for a ride on their boat and took me to see dolphins and we went to the ice cream shop. And I liked in Ensenada when I was on the boat while the boat lift was moving us and we were driving out into the water. That was fun!

What is your favorite part of being in Mexico?
Shandro: I like it because it is always hot and the water is warm and there’s wavey sunny beaches. And also I like going down onto the rocks and catching crabs. I like the birds, especially the blue footed boobies.

Have you had any magical experiences so far?

Shandro: Rain while we drove. It made a nice smell. I liked going to Laure’s party where there were hamburgers and stuff. I miss Laure.

Have you met any children on this journey?
Shandro: Jose and Lulu, Suzie and Sean, Morgan and Wyatt on Love Song. And Totem kids – Marin, Chibhan and Niall. There were no kids at first, then there were lots. Now we are back to none again. That’s pretty much it.

What parts of Mexican culture seem different from ours?
Shandro: Mexican culture has palm trees and coconut palm trees. And it has cactuses. And really high hills with lots of sand and cool spiders. The people here have a different language.

What parts of the Mexican culture seem similar to ours?
Shandro: None.

How do you communicate with the Spanish speaking people?
Shandro: I use muy poquito de mis primeras cien palabras de espangol. (A little bit of my first 100 words of Spanish. Author's note: Shandro uses Spanish more than any of us, and is constantly picking up new words.) Sometimes I use English words and sometimes I use Spanish words when I talk.

Do you have any messages for people?
Shandro: I liked playing video games with Colton before we left. I miss Laure and I liked catching crabs with her. Send a message to Ty and Taylor – Hi! Have fun riding in the snow in the purple slide park! Playschool – hi! It’s nice and sunny down here you should probably be down here with me it’s probably pretty cold up there. It’s winter down here too but guess what – winter there is pretty cold with snow. The winter down here is sunny and hot! And there is no snow in this winter down here and everything is warm in this winter and you can take your shirts off in this kind of winter. I miss my Chilko dog. Please send a message to her.

Do you have any fish stories?
Shandro: One fish story. I like when dad was pulling in the big big big pacific jack craval. And I liked when we were going through the kelp and we saw a big fish behind and it was a dorado. And I liked watching the shark eating our skipjack tuna. What the - dang shark! I like angel fish and Moorish idols. I like Sierra, Durado and Codfish and sole to eat. I like the raw fish when it has soy sauce on it, especially the sierra and dorado.

That’s it! I’m done interviewing. I’m going to have a tostada.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Interview with Matero, 4 years old

What do you like best about sailing?
Matero: Um, I like sliding when we sail. We get the lifejackets under our bums and we let go and we slide down the slanted floor. Driving cars down the steep floor is also pretty fun.

Do you have any fish stories?
Matero: I don’t like when there’s a bzzzzzzzzzzzz of the line going out. I like seeing the fish alive. I think it’s sad when dad kills the fish. If we were fish, and if the fish was a person, and that person caught dad and killed him, that wouldn’t be very nice. I like to eat fish cooked, not raw too much.

Do you like some of the new foods here in Mexico?
Matero: Yes. This place has oranges that grow here and Williams Lake doesn’t have that. Remember I had tacos on the street where they serve horchada? Horchada is made out of rice, rice milk and sugar. I like it so much. We eat on the street here, not the sidewalks. (It is true – vendors set up tables right on the street at night.)

What else do you like about Mexico?
Matero: Dolphins and the whales. I like when the dolphins are playful. They (hand gestures) ‘shoooooptooo’ jump out of the water. I like when the whales swim close to our boat and then they blow their air out ‘pshfffffffff’ like that.

Do you miss anything about Canada?
Matero: I miss Chilko our big alive dog. And I miss my town that has car garages in it. The toy one.

Do you have any messages to tell people?
Matero: I have a message to give to my dragon back in Canada. Don’t ever put eggshells in the toilet and flush them down without asking. Or toilet paper.
Baby Anaka – I like to pick her up. And Amy and Shane too. And Grandad. Is Grandma McAssey in Canada too? Is she coming to see us again soon?

That's it. Matero's back to the lego. He's great, and a happy little boy.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Tonight we went out with Totem, Desiderata, and Oso Blanco for tacos in La Cruz. It was a big group with lots of kids. Good company and good food. Might be the last dinner we have with totem before they head out ... ?

Letter from Love Song – they arrived in the Marquaise Islands today. A great inspiration to us. Perhaps we will do this journey next year.Kathy says, ‘Thank God and His Angels, we made it! Morgan and I spotted land at 1350 today and danced a jig in the cockpit! We turned the motor on at 0730 and 12 hours later we dropped the hook in Atuona, Hiva Oa, in the dark! We are at 09* 48'.236 S and 139* 01'.928 W and there are 5 other boats anchored and a ship on the wharf. I can't even begin to describe the smells that hit us like a train when we turned and dropped the main, at first it was like overwhelming heavy floral and black dirt, then smoke from a fire, and more heavy fruit and floral scent.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Happy Birthday Michael and Chilko!! We miss you both, and hope to see you again soon. Hope that you both had great days. Can't get out on the email right now. Maybe we will try to call from our computer instead on skype. Email right now is impossible. Hope to remedy that soon.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patty's Day!

Tuesday, March 17th. Well, we've never had a St. Patty's day like this before!! We cleaned the bottom of the boat yesterday, baked up a batch of cookies for our friends Scott, Mary, Tim and Fin on Whisper (who are Marquaises bound), and now we are in a slip at Marina Riveria Nayarit – La Cruz Marina. It is luxurious to be in a slip in some ways. The boys have more freedom here than they do at anchor. They can come and go as they please. And we took the slip next to Totem, so all of the children have been soaking each other up. They play lego and ride bikes and scooters and catch crabs. It’s a great life for kids here on the dock. It’s nice to be plugged in because we don’t have to worry about charging, nor about using battery power. I can use the blender and the sewing machine here. (And mending is on the agenda first thing tomorrow.) There is fresh water here for washing dishes and clothes and the boat and the myriad of other things we use water for. And what a good sleep we get when the boat is steady and still. Like a rock.
(I have to say that anchoring out has its perks too. I have been enjoying them lately, knowing that we would be in the marina for a week or so now. The sound of the surf at night has been wonderful. And there is no better view of the stars than to be away from all of the overhead lights (except the tiny mast lights) in the dark of the anchorage. Peace and quiet out here is wonderful; anyone anchored nearby, even if speaking loudly, cannot be heard unless it is perfectly still without a breath of wind – both rarities here. And of course, the movement is a constant reminder of our beautiful alive Mother Earth surrounding us.)We are preparing for racing. Today was boat prep. Merle, Jamie and Jan worked hard all day. Tomorrow will be the same, with showers at the end!! Yay!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

March 15th, 2009. Eric Whitehead says ...ok, Milla Fay Whitehead was born today at 12:31 pm, at home to Eric and Michele. (They managed to make it to the bed from the bathroom, just in time!) She came in fast, 1hr from 1st contraction to baby in hand...midwife barely made it, Eric thought he was gonna do the delivery for a while...and almost did. 8 pounds, and lookin for a nipple.
Ma, Pa and babe are all well and are getting to know each other and trying to catch some ZZZ’s.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

March 12th. Happy Birthday, Ken!! Hope I get to email this today! Not so sure I want to leave my boat at the moment …

Today it is blowing about 20 knots. There were three boats that dragged anchor in the anchorage today. Luckily our anchor holds fast (and we test it every time by motoring full throttle in reverse when we set it.) Merle went out there helping save them. It was great for the kids to see their dad being a real live hero. Matero said to me, ‘Mom – if I am ever in trouble will dad come and save me too?’ And I was glad to be able to say, ‘Yes – he will come and save you every time, no matter what.’ We are surrounded by such amazing people, and we used to be too busy to notice. But we are waking up and noticing now, and it is really heartwarming how many good people there are out there.

It is a sunny warm day here in Puerto Vallarta. The full moon the last few nights has been spectacular, and with the moisture in the air, there was a rainbow ring around it on Saturday. It was beautiful. Now it is very hot during the day ashore, but on the boat it is very nice. The evenings have been windy and we leave the hatches open and the windows, and the wind blows through and keeps us nice and cool for sleeping. The boys have been doing school, and Shandro tried out a local school here for a few days and loved it. Now I am looking into registering them for a little while for their Spanish. It would be 3 hours a day for a few days a week. There is some paperwork that has to be done before they will be legal, but we will get there.

I have been doing a little bit of healing trading here, and that has been very nice for a change. I love that time. And the full moon just makes it even more special. I am always so grateful when I can help someone.

Boats are departing here for the South Pacific – French Polynesia and the Marquaise Islands and Fiji and Tahiti. They leave about one boat every 2 days. Love Song left last Saturday, so they have been gone almost a week. This is the time of year for that – as the trade winds that flow in that direction are just developing now. They will be blowing steadily by the end of March.

We talk to the “Puddle Jumpers” every day at 9:00AM Puerto Vallarta Time (Saskatchewan time I think) on the SSB at frequency 8.188 Upper Side Band (USB). Anyway, we have crystal clear radio contact with them and it makes us feel like they are right next to us. If you have a ham radio or an SSB, we’d love to hear from you! Merle is taking the second ham radio exam this Sunday. He did the technical already and he will do the general exam next, so he is studying for it. We’d love to talk to you! We could just set up a time to check every day and then we could talk to you! That would be very cool. Try these frequencies in the next few days and see if you can hear anything. Some of the boat names who will be talking are Bravado, Love Song, Lucy, Apple, Kenta Anae (us), Light Heart, Corinthia, Me Longa, HipNautical. They give their location, wind speed and direction, wave height and frequency, miles covered in the last 24 hours, barometric pressure, and general conversation to keep in touch. It is great for them as they keep track of each other for the 20 to 30 day crossing. Very cool. If we go across, we will be part of a similar group too.

Tonight is a pot luck for anyone racing in the sailboat race this weekend, or in the Bandaras Bay Regatta next week. We will race in the Regatta. The potluck starts at 6pm and there are people there between the ages of 1 year and 98 years or so. The boys love it because they get to play. And we get to meet some of the sailors here. The Regatta is next week. We will be taking another couple with us – maybe even 4 or 5 extra people. (People are asking us if they can race with us now, because we have won all of the races we have entered, so we are the boat to beat. That in itself is pretty funny, considering we have only been sailing for such a short time.) We will let you know how it goes. Ryan and Corie-Ann thought they might come down at the end of March, but I don’t think they will be here for the Regatta. We will try to get some photos of OUR boat sailing. (It’s way easier to get photos of other people’s boats, but a bit tougher to get a photo of the boat you are on …)

The outboard motor on our dinghy gave up a few days ago. One of the cylinders caved, so it lost compression. Fixing it will cost within $50 of replacing it – about $2500 US. So our current focus is earning enough pesos (around 36,000!) so we can get a new motor to get to and from the beach without rowing. (Rowing is fine here near the marina. But in big swell, landing on a beach with oars can be difficult without flipping the dinghy as you have to match the speed of the waves to ride one in. And if you are not successful at that, you flip the dinghy, and that is not fun.) So that is our focus at the moment.

I will go now and make some food for tonight. I am typing this email before I go to shore online, and I should be able to just cut and paste into an email. Then perhaps I won’t lose the connection before I send the email.

We think of you all very often, and would love it if you were here. But even talking on the radio would be great! Or you could call our cell phone, evening-ish.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

March 5th, 2009. My friend Rea says, ‘Santiago James Santos Fraser, born to Rea and Rogelio. He was born at home on March 5th at 10:52 am (Spanish time). Everyone is just fine and getting to know each other. They don't know that much about Yago yet. He is a noisy sleeper, which isn't a great trait in a husband, but is fabulous in a newborn with nervous parents. In this short time he has learned how to breathe, eat, and charm the pants off his parents.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Mexican Cell Phone

March 3rd ish. An email that never went through … Hope you are awesome! We are good here. As synchronicity goes, we have changed our plans a bit. We will still come home to Canada this summer, but we will be in Puerto Vallarta a bit longer than we initially thought. Weather is better for heading north later in the spring than it is now – May or June. And Merle is helping some of the people who are here get ready to head south. So we will be in Puerto Vallarta for a while – not sure how long – time will tell – but long enough to get a phone …

Merle got our cell phone hooked up yesterday to a Mexican cell service, so you can call us now! I won't publish the number here, but we can email it to you. Haven’t got all of the bugs worked out of the phone yet – a new card in it means that everything is in Spanish, so we have to figure that out to program it. But it does work just fine as far as ringing and answering and speaking to the person on the other end! We’d love to hear from you – any time! I don't think we can dial out of Mexico tho - so we are only on the receiving end at the moment.

The boys are great. We have been anchored out in the harbor at La Cruz for the last while. The wind is ferocious at over 20 knots in the afternoons, but our anchor holds fast and we are grateful. Yesterday, a little boat was dragging through the anchorage. The owners were gone. So, three very kind men took their dinghies and went aboard and let out some more anchor chain to help her stay put. I was so grateful watching them. It warmed my heart and made me feel so lucky to be surrounded by people like that who watch out for us all the time.

One of the amazing things about the community here is the local net. It is a communication on the radio at 8:30 every morning. And it is all helpful and positive. So if someone needs something or help, they ask. And if someone has something to give away or is good at something, they offer. And there is trading and synchronicity and gratitude galore. It is really remarkable what can happen with a community when the communication is positive all the time. It flourishes. It makes us all feel great because we can help people and they can in turn pass it on. It is excellent. It is rewarding. We are so grateful to be a part of it. They are starting a kids net on Monday, and grown-ups are allowed to listen, but they are not allowed to talk. That will be fun!