On My Own in Mazatlan…Again

Marina Mazatlan

Ole was contacted at the last minute to switch to the Azamara Quest for this contract…long story…but as usual everything worked out for him to join the ship in Barcelona.

It’s pretty empty here at the dock, with Rick and Goldene from Magic Places and Rick on Cape Star the only folks on the dock. The good news is that I do have company whether I want it or not – there’s a black cat on the dock who’s lived here on his own for nearly 11 years, scrounging and ingratiating himself with whoever strolls down the dock to feed him. In terms of feral cats, “Slacker” has it made. It’s clearly HIS dock…none of the other 40 feral cats venture down here except a timid little tabby named “Debbie” who Slacker seems to tolerate. [Read more…]

The General Chaos Continues — With Progress!

On the Hard, Mazatlan Marine Services
Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico

Demolition is always way easier (and much more fun) than actually fixing things, as the following photos will show.

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“Repairing Your Boat in Exotic Locations”

At Anchor, Zihuatenejo

Zihuatenejo Anchorage

Ah, boating.

We hadn’t even cleared Isla Roqueta off the entrance to Acapulco yesterday when we heard a mysterious bang (not the kind of thing you really look forward to hearing on a boat while you’re underway).

A quick run through the salon and the sound of rushing water…under the sink!  The hose between the hot water tank and the kitchen sink blew, and fresh (thank god) water was spraying all over under the sink. That wouldn’t have been so bad, but it has to GO somewhere, so it went down, through the acoustic overhead in the engine room, and under the cabinets and into the carpet in the salon. [Read more…]

Turning Over Emma Jo and Heading for the Big Ship

Aboard Independence of the Seas

The first few days of December we spent exploring the Perlas Islands, aiming to get back to Balboa for my flight to David to inspect the progress of the Panama house. It was very strange to find ourselves back in the land of tides and current, given in the Caribbean our tides maxxed out at about 18 inches, and at the Perlas it was as much as 12 feet. Have to break out the Chapman’s and relearn the rule of 12s, for sure. And it made for some interesting perceptions, anchoring with a view of one landscape and six hours later seeing rocks and islands that weren’t there when we dropped the hook.

That last few days onboard prior to joining Independence were a bit stressful, with the generator conking out AGAIN, and Ole having to special order another actuator and related parts to be flown in and cleared through Customs the very morning we were to leave for Ft. Lauderdale. I don’t know how many hours he and Dale worked on it, but it didn’t help that we might have had to leave the boat with the Bixlers with a non-functional and vital piece of machinery. Dale has nicknamed it the “Westerbeast.”

On December 11, we flew up to Ft. Lauderdale, staying overnight at the Marriott Biscayne Bay, right next door to where we used to live. We had a great sushi dinner and caught up with Svein and Lise before boarding Independence on December 12, and reconnecting with shipboard friends.

Haulout in Shelter Bay Marina

On the Hard, Shelter Bay Marina

With the advice we were given from cruisers who have had experience hauling out here in Shelter Bay, we approached the haulout with a firm game plan – in on Monday the 26th, out on Friday the 30th. [Read more…]

Getting Admeasured for the Canal Transit

The Flats, Anchorage “F” in Puerto Cristobal, Colon

After a brief 4-hour nap, we awoke to the parade of ships coming and going through Gatun Locks, and definitely had a “look where we are!” moment. The Panama Canal Authority (PCA) Admeasurer came aboard about 2:00 pm to gather information for our eventual Canal transit some time in the third week of November. Our 49’8” vessel admeasured to 51 feet for Canal transit purposes (and an additional $250 transit fee). Ole spent the day puttering, finding that the generator starter battery was boiling over, the alternator wasn’t putting out what it should, and the tachometer for the port engine crapped out on us. I spent the day reading, fetching and helping as needed. Had a much-needed martini at the usual cocktail hour, threw together a teriyaki salmon dinner, and tried to watch a movie but the 5-6 hours of sleep we had in the last 36 hours took its toll – both of us conked out before 9:00.

Preparing to Leave Bocas del Toro

Bocas Marina
Bocas del Toro, Panama

We left Independence at 1:00 pm on October 3, arrived at the hotel at the Rome airport and were checked in by 2:00. Because the Hilton provided complimentary shuttle bus service into Rome proper, we opted to hop on and do a quick (hah!) walking tour past the highlights. We’re sure glad we did – the bus let us off in the old district a 10-minute walk from the Coliseum, and in just under five hours we managed the Forum, the Vittorio Emmanuel Palace, Mussolini’s Palace, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and pasta at a local sidewalk café. Next time we’ll have to come in a few days early, or leave a few days later, to take advantage of seeing the insides of all of these wonders! [Read more…]

Exploring Almirante Bay

On October 1, we cheerfully left the dock, picked up 100 gallons of fuel, and headed out with four other boats from the marina for a week to ten days’ worth of relaxation. In the group were Pamela Jean, a 50-foot Formosa cutter from Texas with Bill and Pam aboard; Mariah, a 63-foot Choy Lee sloop with Evelyn and Dave from Key West; Serenity, with Steve (who’s the staff captain on NCL’s Norwegian Jade); all following Guavi, with Ariel and Michelle from Puerto Rico out to some of the islands and anchorages in Bahia Almirante.

Cayo de Agua (Water Cay)

Our first stop was Cayo de Agua (Water Cay), where one of our marina-mates has property he’s hoping to turn into an eco-resort. The weather was fantastic – the sea flat as a table – which was a good thing, because Cayo de Agua is right up against the Caribbean. We anchored on the south side of the cay, off Daniel’s dock, where we were greeted wildly by his three mixed-blood hound dogs who have the run of the place when Daniel isn’t there. [Read more…]

Repairing Your Boat in Exotic Locations

At Anchor, Conch Bay
Bocas del Toro, Panama

Ole worked on the outboard for most of the morning, hoping to identify the annoying sound and lack of function of the cooling water pump. No luck. And out of nowhere, we lost our GPS signal. He checked every connection, traced every wire, ran every reset problem, and called Raymarine for help, to be told “you’ll have to find an authorized repair person.” In the process, he disconnected the antenna/receiver, and found it was full of water. After some hours of drying, he reassembled it and poof, we have GPS again. Wish he could do the same with the motor! While he worked on the mechanical parts, I worked on updating journal entries for the log.

A New Dinghy Arrives

Marina Carenero
Bocas del Toro, Panama

Testing New AB Dinghy

Hooray! A brand new, 9.5 ft AB RIB dinghy arrived in town today. We ran over with the Marina Carenero guys in the big lancha, and stood by the back of the truck to manhandle the box to the boat and back across the bay. We offloaded the dead Danard and donated it to the marina for use as a weed barrier and planter box, hung the outboard on the new AB, then set off for a test zip across the bay, only to have the outboard die. [Read more…]