the journey

March 2007: Puerto Vallarta and Sayulita, Mexico

March 20, 2007

Current Location: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Current Position: Approx. N 20° 39', W 105° 15'

This will be our last entry for many weeks. We are finally ready for lift-off and will actually leave Puerto Vallarta tomorrow morning. Our plan is to head out to the Punta de Mita achorage (about 3 hours away sailing), dive and clean the bottom of our boat, spend the night, and then leave the next day. We are also going to try to stop at the Socorro Islands, about 300 miles west, where we have been told that there are some amazing sea pinnacles where we may possibly be able to dive with the giant manta rays. After that, we will head south west to the Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia. The crossing is roughly 3000 nautical miles and should take us anywhere from 3 to 4 weeks.

So what this means is that we will have zero internet connection and will not update this site until we can connect again in the Marquesas. We are planning on each keeping a daily log that we will submit to the site when we arrive.

A cool thing we have just added is a tracking program that we will connect to as much as we can that will record our gps coordinates and any info we submit. Link to it through our "Where O' Where?" page on the site. Also, if you want to email us, you can send text emails to our winlink address located in the "contact us" page on our site. We will be sending and receiving weather info and emails through this address on our passage and will be checking it often.

Big hugs to all of you and please send positive energy our way as we head out into the largest blue wilderness on the planet!! Happy Spring!!
March 17, 2007

Current Location: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Current Position: Approx. N 20° 39', W 105° 15'

Just a quick note to let all our readers know we have just added Nicole's pictures on the site. Many have been inserted into the log entries, and others have been put into the photo galleries, so if you are interested, scroll back through the last few months. Enjoy! (By the way, we leave in three days!!)
March 6, 2007

Current Location: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Current Position: Approx. N 20° 39', W 105° 15'

It's dark. I lie in my bed, the V-berth of our sailboat, and listen to the sounds on the dock around us. Shuffling of feet, quick conversation in Spanish, and our neighbor's diesel engines humming and vibrating through our hull in preparation for another day charter fishing on Banderas Bay, home of Puerto Vallarta and our temporary home these past 5 weeks. Our two hella-turbo low wattage fans spin at the foot of my bed forcing precious cool air in my direction, a savior as the day heats up and the humidity increases. I roll over, waking groggily, realizing I am alone.

Nicole left for San Francisco a couple of days ago. Why, you might be wondering? Didn't you guys just leave a few months ago? True, but here's the deal. Boat parts and Mexico just don't mix very well. If you need something for your boat and it is a more common item, you may actually be able to find it, although at a price, sometimes double or triple that of the U.S. But if you are in need of something less common, in our case for example, a high-output alternator, you are outta luck amigo! To get parts here you have three options. One, you pay the money to get it delivered via DHL or similar service. With this option you gamble big. You may actually have good luck after paying the exorbitant taxes and shipping fees and waiting for weeks or months, you may actually get your goodies. However, in Mexico things sometimes disappear. You couldn't meet more warm and friendly people as in Mexico, but you need to realize that there are many, many people here who live in poverty, and many business' that operate with their own rules.

Option 2 is to bring goods down on another boat or vehicle coming south. If you have friends or connections to a boat or car you know is leaving the states and destined for Mexico, they can stow the goodies on board. But Option 3 is the one most "boat people" use. You get a cheap round trip ticket from Mexico to San Diego or San Francisco. You bring big duffel bags and go make your rounds at the marine chandlery stores, just like good American consumers. Just remember you are doing your country a favor because its good for the economy, and George will be proud! Then you pack it all up, get back on the plane, enter Mexico and stand in the customs line. You are told you can bring in $300 worth of goods, so you fudge on the invoices or make your own, or don't bring any and play innocent. You wait in line for the light to turn red or green. Word has it that 1 in 33 gets the red light. If it turns green you walk through with your bags full of all your boat goodies, no stress, no taxes, out of customs and into the onslaught of time-share condo reps waiting for you in the airport lobby. But if you get the red light, you deal. It probably helps to be a woman, have some cash in your pocket, and talk rapidly in English, playing innocent. Hence the reason Nicole is in San Franciso.

It's a game and a necessity. Almost everyone who has a boat down here has done it or is doing it as I write this. I know of three other boats getting ready to sail to the South Pacific in the coming weeks, who are in the U.S. on boat parts missions too. So if you are reading this and considering journeying on a sailboat south or west from Mexico, do your best to stock up on everything you might want in the U.S. or, like us, you'll just have to play the "airport customs game".:)
March 6, 2007

Current Location: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Are you jumping the puddle? We sometimes get asked. You bettcha, we're getting ready, we reply. Jumping the puddle?? (Sailor speak for crossing the pacific). Every year in Mexico boats get ready for their Pacific Ocean crossing to the South Pacific. It usually happens in Mexico's spring, as the timing is perfect for being before Mexico's hurricane season, which starts in the summer, and the termination of cyclone season in the South Pacific. You have a favorable weather window and most boats prepare and depart from places like San Diego, Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, and Zihuatenejo for their 3-4 week, 3000 nautical mile open ocean crossing. Most of the boats head for the Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia, also our intended landfall.

We have joined an informal gathering of sailors here in P.V. who are planning and preparing for the same adventure. Every Friday morning we meet, discuss issues, swap charts and information, and listen to local experts who present on topics like weather, electronics, rigging, and provisioning. Last week San Francisco's local sailing magazine, Latitude 38, threw us a party at the local yacht club in celebration of our taking the big step away from land and away from North America. (Click here to see us on Latitude 38's electronic blurb of our party). Latitude 38 will also follow up with a couple of articles about our Puddle Jump crew, a piece about each of us before we leave, and then a piece about how the crossing went for us all after it's all over. So if you're interested in reading about the "jump" and all the characters doing it with us, then you'll have to pick up some copies of Latitude 38 in the months to come.

So who are all these "puddle jumpers", you may be asking? For most of us this is our first time making such a long ocean passage and also for most of us it is the realization of a dream making this journey really happen. For some, this crossing of the South Pacific is an end all adventure. Taking a year off of work, leaving home behind and sailing across the ocean is a noble feat. For others, like ourselves who sold our house, our cars and most everything we owned that didn't or couldn't come with us on the boat, it is the beginning of a grand journey.

Some boats will spend many years exploring the South Pacific ocean. Some may choose to circumnavigate the whole pacific heading north at New Zealand and heading up to Japan and back across the northern Pacific Ocean. And then maybe there will be others like us who continue on, eventually heading west through the Indian Ocean, either around Africa or up the Red Sea, and at some point heading across the Atlantic into the Caribbean or around South America. No matter what adventure you choose, you have to start here, at the "jump off" point somewhere along North or South America, committing to the big blue and realizing there will be no land in sight for many weeks to come.

As I write this, the first two boats from our group in Puerto Vallarta, are leaving tomorrow, March 7th. Many others, including ourselves, will leave sometime in the next couple of weeks, and probably a few boats will leave during sometime in the beginning of April. We will be having an informal SSB high frequency radio connection with everyone each day, so it will be fun to check in and see how everyone’s passage is going. Also to share any weather information and create the possibility of offering support to boats who have issues.

So what day will we "jump"? Most likely sometime between the 15th and 21st of March. The lists are getting smaller and DreamKeeper is itching for some sea time. And so are we!
March 1, 2007

Current Location: Sayulita, Mexico

Having family come visit has been such a gift. First, getting to spend time with Nicole's folks for 5 days was really special, leaving our boat, relaxing in Mexico together, good conversation and warm connection. This time around it was my folks, Skip and Judy, and my sister Gia's family. Having heard good experiences from friends about a town called Sayulita, they decided they'd rent a house there and we could join them as much as possible. What a great call.

For most of the 8 days they were here in February we stayed with them in Sayulita. Sayulita is a small surfer town on the Pacific north of Puerto Vallarta. It still retains its quaint Mexican charm and local energy, even with the number of tourists who descend upon it each winter. Most of our time there we spent at the beach. Hanging out, reading, chatting, and surfing took up most of our days.

By the end of the trip everyone in my family had surfed, including my 4 year old nephew, Tobin, who rode on Justin, his dad's, back. After the first couple of days laying on his stomach and not being able to move his neck at night, my dad even got the knack of sitting up on his board, and learned how to scissor-kick it around to catch the waves easier (and remedy his neck-ache). J

It was hard to say good-bye knowing that we probably won't see them again until sometime next winter, where they hope to be able to connect with us in New Zealand or Australia. My folks, and Gia and Justin, have been incredibly understanding of our choice to make this journey happen for us. So thank you all again for your love and support!! We both feel really lucky to have such a great family.