CATCH-UP POST (or “TAKING A BREATHER FROM AN EVER-GROWING TASK LIST”)

Our decision to cross part of the Pacific Ocean en route to French Polynesia has detonated a number of prep tasks, and the last few many weeks have become a whirlwind of activities. No wonder our last post dates back to 15 days ago !

Hence, today I’ll be trying to catch up a little bit on what’s going on.

Up to now, every time we reached a long-time stop we would do so with a long to-do list, and by the time we left most – and in some cases even all – items of the list would have been crossed off.

Our stay in San Carlos – our longest so far – started the same way. However, breaking the tradition, we left there two weeks ago with a to-do list much longer (and more complex) than the one we had upon arrival.

Many factors contributed to this phenomenon:

  • First off, the decision to “turn right” has created and/or anticipated the need for some new upgrade projects. For example, up to now we have relied solely on the SatPhone to retrieve weather information while underway. But I am now considering to prepare and apply for a HAM license, which will give us access to a broad range of channels over the long distance radio (“SSB”), and the ability to retrieve weather data via this channel. It is free, and a safe backup to the SatPhone.
  • Second, the outlook of spending some seasons in the Pacific Isles requires us and Pesto to be much more dependable (as I understand, it is far more difficult to get spares and skilled work there than on the Caribbean, our original destination). As a consequence, for instance, we shall buy a new beefy secondary anchor, in addition to a number of spares for the various systems onboard.
  • Third, we are now well into our second year of full time cruising, and some items onboard have started to require (more) maintenance. The water maker is dripping, our fridge has finally broken up completely, the engine is overheating, and so on.
  • Fourth, of the five months we were in San Carlos, a good two were spent traveling. Moreover, for another two months I was recovering from my small corrective surgery in Hermosillo, and was thus out of commission for mostly all boat projects. In practice then I had just under a month of “net” time available to work on projects while we were in San Carlos.
  • And finally, for the first time since leaving Seattle in 2014, we are now on a tight timeline. So, when the time came to leave San Carlos, we had to do it no matter the state of the original to-do list. And for the first time we left a port not having fully accomplished the original list of activities we had originally planned for.

As a consequence, incumbent projects accumulated with the newly generated projects, plus a few unexpected surprises here and there, thus creating a new-to-us, massive list of projects. A “Rogue To-Do List”.

  • THE ROGUE TO-DO LIST: I will not bore you here with the details of it. Suffice it to say it entails over 50 activities, including tasks from as simple as “Reposition Liferaft on Deck” to as complex as “Replace and/or Eliminate Through-Hulls”, a few oddities like “Understand How To Update Blog (?)”, and the full-with-suspense “Inspect Rudder Bearings”. It is long, will keep us very busy up until we depart to French Polynesia, will require a lot of problem-solving and some cash disbursement, but I know it can and will be done, for we have already accomplished hairy to-do lists on previous stops. It has however kept me under a constant state of anxiety … and I suspect I am not the only one here (more to this on a different post).
  • STICKY ITEM (or “THE CASE OF THE VANISHING PASSPORTS”): we are still at the stage when we are attacking the most critical items of the list (nor necessarily the most important). One of them has been our passports. One day, just after Adriana and I realized our decision to “go right” was serious, we went to a cafe, just the two of us, and brainstormed for a few hours on the key items we would need to accomplish as a consequence of that decision. One of them was Visa for French Polynesia. We then started to study the requirements for it, and soon learned that our passports didn’t have sufficient validity on them to support the type of visa we aspire for. That triggered an urgent taskforce to take new passports with proper validity on them. In a matter of 48 hours documents were gathered, a trip was organized, and our short term cruising plans were adjusted to accommodate the renewal of our passports. It wasn’t a trivial task, for a number of supporting documentation was outdated, and had to be renewed before we could apply for the new passports. It took us a good 10 days of intensive work to have everything sorted out, and finally we had our new glistening passports on hand. For just a few hours though. For stupidity and maybe some exhaustion, I left them (the new passports that is) in the backpocket of an airplane seat, never to be seen again. For the first time in over 10 years we found ourselves on a foreign country without passports. Worse yet, we needed to start our application for the Visa, and the passports are naturally a critical component for it. So, just after arriving to La Cruz, a new taskforce was organized to apply for replacement passports. Again documents were gathered, an in-promptu trip was organized, and off we went – AGAIN – to get new passports. This time all worked great, and our new passports are securely stored and ready for the Visa process.
  • MOVE, MOVE! Another time-sensitive task on our to-do list was to sail Pesto from San Carlos to La Cruz, some 500 miles away. And there were a few motivations to this. First, all our cruising friends would be in La Cruz for the year-end festivities, and we really wanted to be with them for that. Second, La Cruz is kind of an “epicenter” for all things related to the “Puddle Jump” (affectionate nickname given to the non-trivial act of sailing the 3,500 miles that separate Central America’s west coast from French Polynesia). Due to the trip to get passports (first version), we were left with a tight window to accomplish this passage on time for Christmas. Luckily, a good set of weather conditions materialized soon after our arrival to San Carlos, and a few days later we were able to depart for a lively passage to La Cruz. But this will be the subject of a different story.
  • THE BOOMERANG PROJECT: while in San Carlos, one of the projects I DID manage to accomplish was to service our main engine’s cooling system. Salt water hoses were replaced, the heat exchanger removed and cleaned, I installed a brand new exhaust elbow and new coolant was put inside the engine. I was very satisfied with that project, which had been mostly preventative maintenance. The engine had never displayed any symptoms of bad cooling. SO, it was with absolute disgust that I noticed our engine overheating soon after we left San Carlos on passage to La Cruz. What should have been an item crossed off the original to-do list in San Carlos had become now a problem-to-be-solved back in La Cruz. A “boomerang project” of sorts … oh well, Christmas and its surprises.
  • RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME: And then we reached La Cruz. I will write more about it on a different post, but from the moment we arrived, it felt like the “right place to be”. In stark contrast to the solitude of Marina Real in San Carlos, here in La Cruz we are in company of a number of friends. And we meet with and make new friends everyday. Many of the cruising families here also have kids, and Paulo and Raquel spend their days playing outside of the boat with their friends – over 20 kids between 8 and 13 yrs of age, running along the docks all day. The social agenda is intense. And we had lovely Christmas and New Years’ celebrations. Moreover, many people here are preparing for the “Puddle Jump”, like us, and that fosters a sense of community. There is also a wealth of knowledge available right on the dock, and I have been learning at a rate I had never before. To top things off, the marina is at the doorsteps of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle’s charming little center, and we are a short walk away from all the delicacies that this enchanting small town has to offer. But that, again, shall be the subject of a different post.
A beam of sunlight reaches into Pesto's cabin in the morning, as the recently brewed coffee fills it with an aromatic mist.
A beam of sunlight reaches into Pesto’s cabin in the morning, as the recently brewed coffee fills it with an aromatic mist.

So, there you have it, a long-winded, not-very-structured written “download” of what has been keeping us busy (and from updating Familygonesailing) recently. A few threads will come out of this post along the upcoming weeks, and I also plan to post updates of our preparation for “the jump”.

THANK YOU for joining us on Familygonesailing and coming along with us on our journey. We are very excited (and a bit anxious) with the upcoming adventures across the Pacific, and look forward to sharing them here along the way.

HAPPY 2016 !!!

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