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December 6 – 26, 2015 – Feliz Navidad!

As December ticks away we carefully remove the old refrigeration and install the new one. Help and advice from the manufacturer, Technautics, is critical. Two final steps remain and for these we call the refrigeration repairmen. It takes some specialized equipment to vacuum down the tubing and charge the system with refrigerant. To ensure success we also ask them to install our new expansion valve, a system-critical fitting that cannot leak. This is a choice we will come to regret, but hindsight is always 20/20. We start up the new 12v refrigeration system on December 14 and begin making plans to depart Ensenada on the 16th. The timing is tight, but leaving on the 16th gives us 8 days to make the 1100nm passage to Puerto Vallarta before Christmas.

We run around town gathering supplies, take an Uber car to Costco for frozen provisions, and fill up on propane. By the morning of our departure it is clear that there’s a problem with the refrigeration. The system is cold, but not getting cold enough. We have two options: a) stay in Ensenada to resolve the issues, or b) leave on passage and fix the problems when we arrive in Puerto Vallarta. We have been in Ensenada long enough. It feels like we’re growing roots to hold us here. Staying means having Christmas in Ensenada, and that prospect is daunting enough that we decide to leave and deal with the consequences, whatever they are. After several calls with Rich from Technautics, we determine that running the refrigeration in it’s current state won’t damage the system, so we depart late in the day – about 3:00pm.

Honestly, we are not quite ready to go to sea. In harbor, life is warm and sheltered. Our sails are prepped and gear stowed, but now none of us is wearing foul weather gear or life jackets. No sooner are we around the jetty than we are in 6-8ft seas, 15-25 knot winds and 20 degree cooler temperatures. Note to self: always put on sea gear before departure. We manage to get fenders & docklines stored, sea gear donned, and sails set in fairly short order. Feeling extraordinarily free we sail West, literally into the sunset, between Cabo Punta Banda and Islas de Todos Santos.


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The passage goes extraordinarily well. Our first couple days are light, but we make 3-5 knots of progress flying our colorful spinnaker in 5-15 knots of wind from astern. By the third day our breeze freshens to 20 – 30 and we hiss along nicely at 7 knots, mostly under 1-reefed main and poled-out staysail. The water is sapphire blue, skies are mostly clear with a few white puffy clouds, and we keep an eye on the dusty taupes, ochres and jades of the shoreline gliding by some 20 miles distant. We see little traffic, just the occasional freighter or cruise ship, Karen’s favorite night-watch entertainment. Most keep a respectful distance away. The colorful cruise ship lights  serve as a poignant reminder of Christmas close at hand. Our kids begin to speculate about whether Santa makes deliveries at sea.


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Knowing that our route passes over several seamounts, we speculate about the prospect of excellent fishing.  After a long stretch of trailing our Steve Wrye signature edition hand line, Sean decides to change to a bright ‘hoochy’ lure rigged on spectra line with our rod and reel. Somewhere mid-afternoon my peaceful nap is interrupted by the zizzing sound of line peeling off the reel and excited cries of ‘FISH ON!’ The sea around us is alive with schools of fish, and dolphins, the air alive with birds, the excitement palpable as we pass from 5000 foot to 200 foot depths over a giant mountain below the surface. Sean is giddy once he feels the incredible power and determination of the fish on the other end of that spectra line. After 40 minutes of strenuous fight, we haul in a 38 lb yellowfin tuna and subdue the beautiful fish with more than a modicum of Lady Bligh’s Coconut Rum. Although certainly not what Lady Bligh (or the fish) had in mind, we eventually dispatch the fish and carve up at least 20 lbs of impeccably fresh, delicious tuna. The next morning we determine that our freezer is getting warmer, a fact that bodes poorly for about half the tuna and several hundred dollars worth of provisions, but for the time being, we eat fat & happy – tuna in butter, tuna in garlic, marinated tuna with garlic-lime aioli.


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Our boat loves the wind. 20 – 30 knots is a very happy spot for the fully loaded BATU and she sings along magically before 4+ days of great breeze. We are thankful for the wind and anxious to make our Christmas landfall, so we bypass all the anchorages, sailing past Turtle Bay at dawn, past Asuncion at sunset, past Mag Bay with a full head of steam and past Cabo San Lucas as well. We sail until the wind stops, some 25 miles into the Sea of Cortez, then we motor across the sea for two full, calm days. The wind returns just in time for a grand entrance into Bahia de Banderas under full sails as we arrive at the quaint Mexican village of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle (pronounced wanna-KASH-lay) on Christmas Eve. A warm Feliz Navidad to all our family and great friends! We are thinking of you fondly.


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We celebrate Christmas modestly with a small round of useful gifts and heaping platefuls of Eggs Benedict, a Christmas tradition started by my brother Mark. The cooking takes some creativity as our refrigerator is now at a balmy 50 degrees – definitely no Bueno. In the coming days we will begin ‘ Refrigeration 201′ as we recharge the system, find and stop the leak and adjust the expansion valve to maintain the proper freezer/ fridge temp. For now though, we are just happy to be here in the tropics ‘living the dream’ as they say.


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21 thoughts on “December 6 – 26, 2015 – Feliz Navidad!”

  1. Greetings to the adventurers from Oregon!!

    Wow that’s absolutely amazing you’re in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. It seems just the other day we saw your boat moving around in the Hood River marina. It must be nice enjoying the warm weather and fresh caught fish while cruising down the coastline!

    I’m glad you mentioned the wind speed. We have watched your progress after leaving Ensenada and have noticed decent winds pushing you along. Often your speed was 7 with nice jumps to 8 knots and thinking it has to be pretty nice sailing with decent wind!!

    Good luck with the refrigerator. With effort and time you will definitely win the battle! Having a refrigerator and freezer are major comforts for you guys. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that it behaves nicely after some work.

    I liked your analysis about putting on the foul weather gear before leaving. Good job! Many events that make up cruising are learning how to practice and become as proactive as possible. Mother Nature has her way of influencing by keeping you as best prepared each and every day!

    We look forward to reading your next update and wondering which port will be your next temporary home.

    Safe travels, Stan and Laurel

    1. Dear Stan & Laurel,

      Thanks for your kindness and encouragement. We are having a blast, for sure. Regarding the departure prep, that was a funny thing. We actually made a checklist of things to do before heading to sea, but we were so thrown by the refer issues that we forgot to confirm it before we tossed the docklines. It’s a good lesson. Are you planning on doing the TransPac again? Hope you’re enjoying the San Juans!

      Warm regards,

      PT, K, S&S

  2. Merry Xmas and Happy New Year! Glad to see you cruising along at non-Bek-weather speeds. Love the pics and glad you’re safely at your next port. Good luck with the refrigeration!

    xoxo to all,

    Sib

  3. Well it’s the New Year and what have you done…
    Only embarked on the Voyage of a life time!!!!!!
    The stories and happy action family photos have a wonderful affect on me
    Thank you for sharing and updating it is more exciting and much less worrisome that way. As long as your dot is doing well it doesn’t always have to move I guess.
    Think about you guys every day and looking forward to your next installment on your blog
    HUGE bear style HUGS from your landlubing family!
    Love
    Markski

    1. Markski,

      Feliz Ano Nuevo! Thinking of you as newly minted Grandparents, Mom, Jason & Justine with little Greyson, Alex & Julia (vacationing in MO of all places!) and the entire clan. It’s a big year all in all. BEAR style hugs backatcha! Are you still doing the New Year’s gathering at su casa? Munch some clams casino for me…or is that high carb? 😉

      Love,
      Peter

  4. I am SO impressed by you guys, and envious! My dad’s biggest regret was not being in the active navy, as he was running the family business. We always had a sailboat, though for all of my childhood it was a modest “Woodpussy, ” I think about 16′, with a centerboard you physically hauled up & lowered. My brothers got bored with it, ( and my dad was not a charmer), but I hung in there and went out with him often. Though he taught Pilating with the Power Squadron, he never let us kids take total control. We usually had one task, but never all. When I brought Joe home during college, he let me take Joe out in the boat, and we became becalmed way out on the bay. As I’d never seen Dad get out the paddle ( he always just waited for a breeze), we sat out there while Dad shouted and gestures from the dock for us to paddle in. We eventually caught a breeze, and sailed back to the buoy. Did I ever get a talking-to!!
    So I’m enjoying your adventure vicariously – thanks! Have a great new year, and of course stay safe. Sending you my best vibes!
    Moofer

    1. Moof!

      Thanks for the warm vibes and awesome stories about sailing with your Dad! I can picture his blood pressure rising as you & Joe were adrift out there…ALONE! Boats are a natural aphrodisiac, at least that’s what I keep telling Karen. Best wishes all around to the Gadds!

      PT, K, S & S

  5. Greetings my friends, Freezing cold with a brisk wind blowing, chilling everyone to the bone is how we are greeting the new year. Having to give beer away to the homeless guys on the exit ramp as you Peter are not around to share one with. Remember to schedule some ‘no project days’. Happy New Year..

    1. Chris,

      Wow, that is a sorry state of affairs! I’m sure the homeless guys on the corner are finding the new arrangement much to their liking. It explains why several posters have told us us not to bother coming home, ever. We are missing you very much. ‘No project days’…check! Hope you’re getting those projects wrapped up though – Belize is calling!

      PT, K, S & S

  6. Wishing you all a happy New Years, and hoping that you’ve resolved your reefer problems. You haven’t missed much of a ski season yet, at least here on the east coast. The sail down the coast sounded pretty awesome – here on Lake Champlain, a north/south oriented body of water, the wind is usually on the nose, regardless of which direction we’re headed. Go figure. So, several days of wind on your quarter sounds pretty sweet. Anticipating your next update!
    Andy

    1. Thanks Andy!

      Yup, our sail down the Baja was awesome! Now we are living the dream here in the tropics. Even with work to do, it is unbelievably pleasant. I believe we fixed the refrigeration – it’s humming away now at between 4 and 9 degrees F – but we’re not finished with projects. I’ll fill you in on the next update, coming soon!

      Peter

  7. HI All! We love your pictures from the sea!!! Would love to have seen Sean capture the tuna! Are you sick of Tuna yet? 20 lbs is am amazing amount!! I hope your refrigeration is fixed for good! We are trying to shun carbs here but it is hard!!! My new favorite ‘cant serve at home is a baked potato with sour cream and cheese’ but we are eating TONS of meat seafood and veggies! I love the spanish phrases you send our way!
    Feliz Ano Nuevo!! Where do the winds take you next? Hugs and kisses all around!

  8. Happy Holidays! We are having fun tracking your progress. Sounds like lots of adventures, especially in the maintenance department.

    Sean, we are super impressed with the yellowfin!

    Sara, everyone misses you at LOMS.
    We are blanketed in snow here in HR!
    Cheers,
    The Waags

    1. Hola Waags!

      We’ve been thinking of you and meaning to connect. Hope you’re getting lots of good skiing! Having an epic adventure here, but missing you!

      PT, K, S & S

  9. Hi My Sweets,
    You are amazing and still GOING BIG!! Your photos and story line are simply wonderful. I am sitting at my computer lodged on your kitchen counter next to the frig. Been doing my paperwork up here to gather all the light possible during the day. My car is happily in the garage and I await the return of the poochie tomorrow. Reading your tales makes me smile SO BIG and warms my heart. Keep the adventure going.
    LOVE, Ma, Grannymobile………

  10. Feliz cumpleaños mañana, chica dulce, Sarah.
    Te amo mucho
    Grannymobile

    1. Mags,

      Yep, Santa made a stop! His selection was tasteful and functional, but the cookies & carrots left out were eaten with aplomb, so we did confirm that he delivers to the tropics!

      PT, K, S & S

  11. Happy Birthday Sarah!!! Will you have a birthday cake or yellow fin tuna!!! Hope you have a memorable day! Love you, Dean, Cindy and lauren

    1. Thanks Cindy!

      Sarah had a great 12th B-day! She swam in the open ocean with a local group that trains here. Karen baked her a lemon vanilla cake from scratch – amazing! We had dinner at our favorite taqueria, the Green Tomato, where we had epic tacos de pescado (fresh caught marlin tacos). The owner found out it was Sarah’s birthday and launched off fireworks in the street right in front of us – it was a really special day.

      PT, K, S & S

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