Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Sick Bay
By Michael

This is the post-clinic photo from Sunday that
SHLP posted on their Facebook page. This clinic
was held at a community center in a La Paz
neighborhood (colonia) called Chametla.
Frances had it first: fever, lethargy, yuckness.

Then Eleanor crashed, much worse, I think that was Thursday night. Her fever (this girl doesn't get fevers) ran up to 104 and all the ibuprofen and acetaminophen aboard wasn't bringing it down. Saturday morning I took Eleanor to the hospital where they covered her in cool compresses, drew blood and urine for testing, and spent about 40 minutes looking at every organ in her abdomen with an ultrasound.

La Paz had a run of Dengue Fever following last year's hurricane and the doctor was looking for evidence of this.

"Influenza" was his verdict.

"That's good...wait, so she's contagious?"


That night the fever and aches and pains made sleep for me impossible. The next morning Windy was feeling crappy. Frances was starting to feel better, but still coughing.

Living on a boat in close quarters with your spouse and kids is the greatest thing in the world. Coughing and sneezing and moaning and blowing noses isn't living, and to do that together for a string of days in close quarters just sucks. I went in this morning to get some water because we were out; tomorrow we're all talking about maybe getting ashore to shower and launder bedding.

We've not been sick like this since we started cruising. The real bummer of it though? The timing. We missed two important events on our calendar (and we're cruisers, these were the only two events on our calendar): a wedding aboard a friend's boat and the first spay/neuter clinic held in France's name by the Sociedad Humanitaria de La Paz (SHLP). The big-hearted volunteers who organize these clinics even made a cake for the absent Frances.

But the good news is that the wedding was a success without us and 50 cats and dogs were fixed at the clinic without us. And while there will not be a repeat wedding before we take off for French Polynesia, there will hopefully be another clinic around the end of this month that we can all attend.
Following is a Facebook capture of a video that the SHLP organizers made for Frances. These are all friendly faces we've come to know.



Monday, March 9, 2015

The Weakest Link?
By Michael

New meets old.
Getting ready to (partly) cross an ocean is occasion to look at everything a bit more closely. I'm looking now at the chain joining link I installed only a few months ago.

The first 150 feet of our 3/8-inch anchor chain was a rusted mess--to the extent that in the past couple years our foredeck and starboard gutter came to look like we'd painted them orange. For months I began preparing for the re-galvanizing job I knew was in our future. Then one day, in response to increasing skipping of that chain on our gypsy, I compared a link at the 100-foot mark with a link at the 200-foot mark. I wish now I'd taken a picture of what I saw. It was difficult to believe the links were ever the same size.

So galvanizing was out. We bit the bullet and bought 150 feet of new Acco chain to mate to our good 150 feet. Enter the chain joining link.

I bought four of them, two different brands, a pair from West Marine, another pair from Defender. Installed properly (you've got to flatten the heads of the connecting pins with a ball peen hammer) they're supposed to be stronger than any single link of the same size.

This is the picture of the first one I've installed. It doesn't look like they did a great job with corrosion protection. Where else did they cut corners? Does anyone have experience with these galvanized joining links? Are we on the road to losing our rode?


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Birthday Girl
By Michael

The day before yesterday was Frances's birthday. The campaign to raise money to fund a local spay/neuter clinic in her name was a surprise gift to her. She is away for three weeks visiting family and I just got this picture from her, taken when she was told about the gift. I talked to her on the phone and she couldn't be more excited.

The results have been phenomenal. I wasn't sure we'd be able to raise enough meet our goal to fund one clinic. It looks like we'll be able to maybe fund FOUR clinics in her name. There is still a week left, but thank you to everyone who publicized or donated in support of this cause.

It's a big responsibility to solicit money on behalf of an organization. It’s very assuring in this case to know the individuals who will be using it. Every dime will go towards directly addressing the mission to fix as many cats and dogs as possible, with no overhead (except the small percentage that Indiegogo takes off the top).

The first clinic in Frances's name is scheduled for mid-March and I will document that event here.

Thank you.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Frances and the Dispossessed
By Michael

I've written several times on this blog over the years about my youngest daughter's unyielding compassion for animals. I've watched it shape her as she matures, from a small person taking it in and questioning to a girl on the cusp of nine who now asserts her compassion, and who is hard to say no to.

Her desire to be around dogs here in La Paz isn't a case of a young girl pining for the pet she doesn't have, it's her sincere want to help, however she can. Over months, I've watched her bond with three dogs we've fostered aboard. Both times I wondered how in the world we were going to be able to let someone take her "pet" away. My impulse was to remind Frances daily that this situation was temporary. Windy urged me not to worry. In both cases, when we found permanent homes and said goodbye, nobody was happier than Frances, overjoyed for the animal.

This cruising life, and the longer periods of time we've been able to spend in places like La Paz and Guaymas in Mexico, and Victoria in B.C., has afforded us the time to facilitate and support Frances. Now, four days away from her 9th birthday and completely unknown to her at this point, we are facilitating her compassion in the best way we know how.

Please help, by donating or spreading the word. Any amount raised beyond the minimum goal we set just increases the long-term good that will be done.


Friday, February 20, 2015

On the Cusp
By Michael

Sun setting over the La Paz magote.
I’m starting to experience mild self-sufficiency anxiety related to our pending voyage across part of the vast Pacific Ocean. Along with a giddy eagerness I feel about the passage I’m experiencing a nagging, hopefully irrational sense that we’re on the cusp of major systems failures.

Over the past nearly four years that we’ve been cruising, we’ve dealt regularly with relatively minor breakdowns and maintenance, but it feels like we’ve gone a very long time with flawless service from our rigging and motor and autopilot and many other fundamental systems. Aren’t we due?

Shouldn’t the old Adler-Barbour compressor and corresponding tubes and circuits have failed to keep our beer cold by this time? The thing looked pretty old when we bought the boat, then it sat idle for a year, and it’s since run for 24 hours per day for forty-five months.

The condition of the raw water pump on our 1987 Yanmar was a mystery so I pulled it in Victoria and brought it to a rebuilding shop where they opened it up and suggested I do nothing. In San Diego, the story was the same for our stock 80-amp alternator. What would those same mechanics say today, roughly two years and maybe a 1,000 engine hours later?

I’ve proactively swapped out solenoids that still worked, just because they were corroded on the outside and because I wanted spares. I’ve done the same with toilet pumps and bilge pumps and fresh-water pumps and 12-volt wiring. I replaced the lower bearings on our 1980s headsail furling gear and the gypsy on our 37-year-old windlass—but what about the other key components of those important systems?

I know we’re not sailing to Mars and that mechanical failures are bound to happen and that we’ve no choice but to take what comes. But I also know that it’s prudent to pretend we are sailing to Mars and that mechanical failures should be simultaneously prevented and prepared for. And that’s where I’m at.

Following are the few passage-specific things we have to do:

·         provision and stow a boat load of food and supplies

·         install additional pad eyes in the cockpit for use as additional tether attachment points

·         configure installation of the water generator we plan to tow (wiring and perhaps fashioning a stern bracket)

·         come up with a good approach for securing our dinghy/life boat to the foredeck

·         make a comprehensive rigging inspection aloft and at deck level

But the fact that we’re planning to sail for 20+ days and then be away from ready availability of stores and parts for much longer, kind of results in a confluence of other, this-is-the-obvious-time-to-complete-them tasks. This particular list is very long, and nothing on it is essential or critical, but it seems imperative to knock off as many as we can before going. After all, we’ve gotten on fine with that broken spreader light, but with so many nights at sea coming up, now is really the time to fix it. And that delaminated section of the foredeck isn’t going to repair itself so why inflict 3,000 more ocean miles on that spot? Also, if there was ever a time to remove and re-stitch our aging dodger, this is it. I could go on and on. Boats are like that.

I’ll do what I can and then we’ll be off.


I guess that chair I set my camera on wasn't level after all.
We enjoyed the Bums' company when they passed
through after Christmas. Our paths have converged
over the years, but that's unlikely to happen again soon,
unfortunately. Down the proverbial road
I think they'll be on a boat again, but we'll
probably be in a motorhome by then.
I found this big beautiful guy a couple weeks ago on an
Espiritu Santo beach. The body under the shell and in the
head was completely gone, consumed by thousands of
beetles. Yet the corpse still stunk to high heaven.
Windy was off an a hike at the time and I spent
45 minutes selling the girls on my plan to harvest
this shell and polish it up to hang on our bulkhead.
I thought we had a pretty good case. He's still
on the beach as far as I know.
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