Sailing, cruising, racing…it’s all WORK! (…and I love it!!!)

I seem to be continually amazed at the dogged determination necessary to keep things ship shape aboard Cat2Fold without getting stuck in a location for weeks and weeks. When I arrived in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle on Monday 1/12, I desperately wanted to have new gudgeons made up to replace the ones I “enhanced” this past summer. My rudders were clunking badly because of the hack job done by the backwoods mechanic I used in SE Idaho… (oh wait, that was me). I found a machine shop within walking distance of the anchorage, and after communicating as clearly as I could, what I wanted done, the pieces were ordered and I was told they’d be ready at the same time, next day. I could hardly believe they would be done in 24 hours.Well, my hunch was confirmed as mañana turned into mañana mañana, etc…

In the meantime, I had come up with a fun idea to switch my masts which I had mistakenly raised and installed in the wrong hulls up in San Carlos. Clearly, they worked fine in the hulls they were in, having sailed over 600 miles with it configured as such, but my lines were not falling where/how they should, and I really wanted to have everything perfect aboard Cat2Fold. I talked with Rigo aboard s/v Heavy Metal and told him my idea. Heavy Metal is a 60′ aluminum monohull with a very tall mast. There was a slip available just to the side of him. If I could get Cat2Fold into that slip, I could use his mast as a crane to lift my masts out, lay them on the dock, and re-install them correctly. I could also install my rudders in the relative calm waters of the marina rather than in the swelly anchorage. Plus, there was a dock party planned for Friday night.

So… early Friday morning, driving Cat2Fold like a skid steer, I motored the rudderless vessel into the slip next to Heavy Metal. The clock was ticking. I had ALOT to do before Saturday’s race which was slated to start at noon. First stop was into the Marina office to pay for the slip and make sure that where I parked would be fine. Next, I had to walk over to the Capitania de Puerto’s office and check in with them. This is something I’m technically supposed to do even while staying in the anchorage, but I generally avoid all the checkin/check out BS, and just keep moving often (like nearly everyday).

After checking in, I headed straight up to the machine shop. The gudgeons were ready to go, but the rudder boxes, and some plastic bushings are not ready. I sat in the loud dusty shop for over an hour, then decided I didn’t have time to wait. I took the gudgeons with me, and made plans with Jorge to drive the rudder boxes down to my slip. I got the gudgeons successfully mounted to the boat, and simultaneously learned that Goop brand marine sealant does indeed seal and cure below the water line. COOL! The whole time I was doing this work, there was no sign of any life aboard Heavy Metal. Our plan was tentative, and I didn’t want to be TOO much of a bother, so I waited for them to arrive before dropping my sails and booms to the deck to free up the masts and allow them to be lifted out of place. While waiting, Jorge showed up with the rudder boxes I needed to continue the rudder re-install. Not 5 minutes later, I could hear Rigo yelling over to me, asking if I was ready to do the masts.

By now, it is mid afternoon, with a dock party planned for early evening, and it is HOT!!! The clock was ticking. As I stripped my rigs of sails and booms, Rigo hoisted his huge spinnaker pole which allowed us to span over the finger dock separating the two boats, allowing a nice vertical lift hoist. We had to move Heavy Metal a bit closer to Cat2fold, and the first mast came out with a bit of hesitation and adjustments made on the fly. After laying it down on the dock, I backed the boat out of the slip, did a 180, and backed back into the slip (remember, I still have no rudders)… The second mast came out much easier. We laid it down on the dock, and grabbed the first mast. It was reinstalled without a hitch. Now people were starting to gather and ogle at not only the freak boat, but the freak show of mast removal and re-install using another boat as a crane. I motored out again and flipped another 180, and came back in. The crew was getting distracted by the party that was clearly starting and I heard talk of leaving the last mast to be re-installed the next morning. I wasn’t having any part of that business. Too many manana’s already fizzled by. So, we got the last mast up and in. SUCCESS!!! My only regret was to not have found someone to film the whole circus show.

The party was a huge success! I’m guessing there were nearly 70 people there. Food, drink, and friends, new and old. What more could a salty single hander ask for! I ducked out for a good FaceTime call with my kids, then continued to party well into the wee hours of the morning. I had planned another FaceTime call with Beo for early in the morning, but low and behold, the internet was down… again. Oh well, sorry B-boy!

I still had a lot of work to do before I could even think of leaving the dock. It took me several hours to install all the components of the rudders, complete the re-rigging of my sails and booms, check out with the marina, and get under way. With the race slated to start at 12:45, I was hurriedly underway by noon, with 5.5 miles to motor sail to get to the start line. Cutting it a bit close! But, thanks to the race commodore, the race was delayed a bit due to “fluky winds” and I was able to get into the race cue at the 5 minute warning. With no clock on board set up with a second hand, I had to guess when the exact start was happening, but even while incredibly hung over, single handing, and everything working against me, I nailed the start (well, it was one of my better starts anyway). I cracked open the big drifter sail and rocketed out towards the windward mark. I timed my tack perfectly, and with only one tack, I was the first boat to reach the mark. YAY! I didn’t stay at the pointy end of the fleet for long, with the 50’+ race boats closing down on me with HUGE spinnakers flying, but after I made some adjustments to my sail wardrobe, I caught and passed a few boats that had passed me on  the downwind leg while reaching back to the first mark. Even with my old worn out sails, after adding a extra line along the foot of my sails (recommendation from Chris White) to help get more sail shape in the bottom 1/3 of my sails, Cat2Fold felt like she had lots of horsepower, and we were sailing fast. I played a little guitar, smoked, drank beer, and giggled as boats with crews of 10-15 people struggled to pass me.

As much work as sailing/cruising/racing can be, I absolutely LOVE this life, and feel like I was born and raised to to be the perfect candidate to be out here doing what I’m doing aboard the most AWESOMEST boat in Mexico!

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Reunited and it feels so good

24 hours, 3 taxis, and 3 buses, is all you need to get from San Carlos to Puerto Vallarta. Phew!

All is well here on Cat2Fold! Her beard (which grew mighty long!) is currently being shaved and polished. I’m gonna hang here at the marina a couple more nights so I can get a few electronic things soldered here on Monday. Until then I’ve got other work to do and hopefully I’ll get some spirited day sailing in this afternoon and tomorrow…

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Mexico by Bus

I’m 3 hours into my 24 hour+ bus ride through Mexico. Although this bus is extremely comfortable, with reclining seats, restrooms, movies (in Spanish), and a wifi connection (still not sure how this is done…), my 6’7″ frame is already starting to feel a bit stiff and constricted. My last beer that I brought aboard in my briefcase is now fully warm, but I’ll enjoy it anyway. There are no accessory outlets to charge any electronic devices that I can see, so I’m sure I’ll be out of juice well before reaching my destination.
Yesterday I drove my truck and boat trailer from Tucson, Az to San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico. Along the way I was lucky enough to learn some cultural lessons…Mexican styley;
1) While trying to navigate my way to San Carlos, I learned early on in the drive that my new iPad GPS system didn’t work. I was gonna have to find my way there using only road signs. About halfway through the drive, I decided a couple of beers and some chips would be good… MISTAKE!!!
In Hermosillo, at dusk I was trying to cross three lanes of traffic from the left side of the road to the right so as not to miss a turn I needed to make. Pulling a 35′ long, triple axle trailer did not make this move very easy. With my blinker on, I slowly made my way to the right side of the road, with a federali following very close behind. I’m pretty sure I didn’t break any law, but the cop thought so… then he smelled the beer. He wanted me to follow him to the station. He was talking about a $4000 peso fine. I was nervous and apologetic. Darkness was enveloping us and I needed to get to San Carlos which was still over an hour away. So, I opened my wallet, and emptied the contents into his greedy little hands. $1900 pesos and $11 USD later and this cop was my personal escort to the next turn.
Driving in Mexico at night is not highly recommended. Not so much for fear of a hijacking, or anything, but just because the roads are full of potholes and livestock which are next to impossible to see. My reason for not getting to San Carlos before dark was multifaceted, but due in large part to an extremely long delay at immigrations. Turns out that if you have a trailerable boat, and you want to temporarily import that boat into Mexico, you had better bring the boat and trailer together. So now I find out that my plan to leave the boat on the trailer in San Carlos can not happen without driving the boat up to Nogales immigration (5-6 hours) first, changing the two separate import permits (the boat is good for ten years, the trailer only six months), then I can drive them back to San Carlos. …That ain’t happening. Cat2Fold is gonna come back to Idaho for the summer (I’m pretty sure anyway).

In the next few days I’m gonna try and sit down and write some about the Banderas Bay area and what Deidre and I did during our time there. Cat2Fold has been sitting idle for nearly three weeks in the warm, crocodile filled waters of the Nuevo Vallarta river estuary, while Deidre and I traveled back to the Tetons. When I arrive, I’m sure she will have grown a beard so thick and nasty it will virtually be its own ecosystem! I am not looking forward to that particular job!
Although the high country in and around Jackson Hole has been having an extremely lackluster snow year, we still managed to get some decent skiing in. I hiked up Mt. Glory twice, and Deidre and I even skied Taylor Mt. Hiking and skiing up over 10,000 feet after spending nearly 4 months at sea level hanging out on my boat comes with some challenges, however, Dre and I did just fine!
While we were home it snowed plenty to whet our powder appetites, however my main reason for going home was not the powder, it was to hang out with my AMAZING kids!!!
Georgie (6) and Beo (4) are doing so many activities, it is really amazing! They are both learning to ski race. I got to watch Georgie do her first one! She did Awesome! Although Beo is too young to enter any races, he is skiing (training) with kids that are several years older than him. I also towed him up a popular backcountry trail (Coal Creek) several times and skied it together along with Cora, my 13 year old dog. I am SO proud of both of them! We also did some X-C skiing, ice skating, snow ball fighting, wrestling, and many other fun things. Georgie and Beo are the only reason I am not selling everything I own, jumping on Cat2Fold, and sailing off into the distance, chasing sunsets.
I’m now nearly 5 hours into this Bus ride and I am gonna upload a few pics and call it a night…

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