Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Beginning of a New School
This is how the frame of the bodega looked when we arrived. Notice the rocks being piled up for the floor. They were all picked by hand and moved to the building.

Here we are finding good rocks that will make a great floor. Barry has the white ball cap on.

The roof was a co-operative effort between these guys. The fellow with the hat on is a mathematician from New Mexico, he was very precise in his measurements.

The Federals showed up about 10 o'clock and caused a bit of a stir. Apparently they came because they wondered what was going on. In the area every time there is a bit of cleared land the squatters move in and start building a home. They were assured that our enterprise was a legitimate one.
This lady was the official floor packer downer.
She made the implement she is using and then just went to work with it. After we had put all the rocks we needed in', we added sand and dirt for fill. It was raked evenly and then it was packed. You could tell that she had done this before.

The finished product, a shed for the materials that are needed to build a new school on this site. Isn't it a wonderful view.

This sign translated with my limited Spanish, says the future home of the primary school Octavio Paz. To take over from the school Nueva Creacion. It is a project that is being shared by Sailfest, Por Los Ninos de Zihuatanejo (a charitable foundation called For The Children), a U.S. charitable foundation called los Ninos Inc. , Rotary Club International and the Municipality of Jose Azueta in Zihua.
It was so gratifying to be a part of this and to actually see something be accomplished in one morning when there are lots of willing hands to do the work.

Approaching Manzaillo

It was a dark and stormy night.....that about says it all. At one point we had the main triple reefed and a handkerchief of a genoa out. In the light we realized that we have a tear in the genoa. The tear is on a seam though, so I think I should be able to repair it. At the moment it is bright and sunny and we are whipping along under sail about an hour from Manzanillo. Trish and Graeme arrive tomorrow so we are both looking forward to that.
I've got some great photos of construction of the bodega or storage shed so hopefully I will be able to put them on the net soon.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

We were stopped by the Mexican Navy AGAIN!! What is with them. Anyway this time it was during the day and they called us before they got too close. They called us on the radio in Spanish but Barry didn't want me to answer, but I did anyway in English and the fellow then proceeded to talk to us in English, so that was a good thing. It was a much bigger vessel that was patrolling and they sent out a boarding party. The boat they sent over was a big fiberglass and wood motor boat, it was about 30 feet long. Two naval officers got off of it and came aboard and looked at our papers. The one fellow spoke English quite well and it ended up he was on the tall ship that was in Victoria Harbour in the summer of 2005. The other fellow had sailed quite a bit and in his broken English he told us he sailed, Lazers, Hobi-cats and J-24's. They were very nice and although the other guys on the motor boat that had big machine guns were somewhat intimidating, these two seemed very nice. We had forgotten to clear out of Zihuatanejo, so when he asked for our papers, Barry kind of gulped but we could show him all our other stuff and we had good paperwork for when we went to Acapulco so they seemed satisfied. They managed the transfer off and on our boat without too much problem and there were no scratches on the hull. It is good to know that they are a presence in the area and I am really glad they decided to board us in the daylight this time. Hopefully that is the last time for awhile.

Barry said he smiled and waved at this guy with the gun, but he was having none of that and didn't crack a smile, he was ready in case we caused any trouble.
We are underway once again, we are heading north, ultimate destination, Sea of Cortez but for now we are headed to Manzanillo to visit with 2 of our daughters and their spouses. Trish and Jen are going to south of Manzanillo to surf for 3 and 2 weeks respectively. We can't wait to see them. We had a great sail to Isla Grande yesterday, which is just 6 miles north of Zihua, we are hoping to get to an anchorage that is 65 miles up the coast tonight, we were underway at 0530.
We had a wonderful experience yesterday. We helped to build a storage shed for the materials for a new school that is going to be built up high on the hillside in Zihuatanejo. What an example of co-operation and comradeship. Lending a hand were cruisers, visitors that were land based, teachers, and parents of students that will be attending the school. When we arrived a frame had already been constructed and it was up to us to put the sides on and make a floor. To construct the floor we all went to work and got rocks from the fill that had been generated when the site had been leveled. There must have been about 40 people there and everyone went and picked up rocks ranging in size from easy to pick up ones to rocks where two men were huffing and puffing while they were carrying them. In an hour we had filled in the 12 foot by 20 foot space, the depth varied from one end to the other, the one end being about 18 inches and the other was almost even with the bottom of the frame.
After we had piled up the rocks we then went to work getting dirt and small rocks to fill in. I had a crow bar and just kept digging into the hillside loosening up the dirt. A young woman had a pail and she would come and we would fill up the pail and she would take it to empty it on the floor as I continued to loosen dirt. There were people inside the frame with rakes, leveling out the floor and then one woman built a tamper out of wood and she pounded on the floor until it was packed and level.
Meanwhile there were two men on the roof and roofing material was being hoisted up and nailed on. Then the sides were put on, the sides were boards sawn from coconut trees and Barry said they were very hard and it was tough to put the nails through them. When we left all the sides were up, the floor was level, the door was being put on and the roof was being bolted down. They hung a sign on the shed,it had the nae of the school and the organizations that are co-operating to build it. The name of the school is going to be Octavio Paz, he is a Mexican fellow that won the Nobel Prize for literature and is famous for his humanitarian deeds. I am really happy that we stayed in Zee to help out with this worthy cause and hopefully when we head south next year we will be able to go up to the site and see what progress has been made in building the new school.

Friday, January 26, 2007

We moved the boat to a different anchorage today so that we could clean the bottom. Where we were I didn't trust the water quality so we moved to a spot that is more open to the ocean and there are no lagoons or rivers that empty near to us. Yesterday another Fast Passage arrived in the bay and we had a chance to go over and visit with them. They very kindly gave us an in depth tour of their boat, Nuage, so we could see what modifications they had made. They have done some really good stuff that improves the amount of storage area on the boat, for instance where our vanity is in our aft cabin, they have put in shelving that reaches to the ceiling. They also lent us a breathing apparatus that allows you clean the bottom of the boat. It has a mini-compressor that has a hose which is attached to a mouth piece. The hose is long enough that I could scrape the entire bottom of the boat. They also lent us a weight belt so it was like I was in seventh heaven, able to stay down, breathe and scrape. I also had to change the zincs on the shaft. Barry tried the "houka" but his lung capacity is just too large and he was breathing too deeply and was only getting half breaths and felt like he wasn't getting enough air. Thankfully my lungs aren't that huge. I only dropped one screw when I was putting on the zincs because Barry didn't tell me one end had a nut on it and I was putting the screw in the end with the nut on it, not good!!! Barry doesn't think the zincs are on tight enough but I did them up as hard as I could and he went down and tried to tighten them, not sure why they don't fit better. We will have to keep an eye on them.
We are getting ready to leave Zihuatanejo tomorrow afternoon. We are going to join the work party in the morning to build a small shed for supplies for the new school and then we will head to an island that is about 10 miles north to stay overnight. Sunday morning we will take off for points north. We plan to be in Manzanillo on Tuesday and the Trish and Graeme arrive on Wednesday. We are both really looking forward to seeing them again.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

We are enjoying having our generator, having fun selling t-shirts, etc. I even managed to sell one to Barry’s brother Bruce on-line yesterday. I thought that was quite a coup. We went around to some of the local merchants to ask for donations for Sailfest last night. The first time we went into our block of shops we had a Mexican student with us, her English was just excellent so she would give them the spiel. There were a lot of owners that weren’t there so Barry and I went back later to some of the shops. The two most impressive donations were a gorgeous off white leather purse and a whole bunch of children’s clothes. The kids clothes included 5 pairs of jeans, a lovely shirt, 2 pairs of boxers and an outfit that consisted of pants and a top, really high end stuff. These donations can be used for one of the four raffles we are selling tickets for or for the live or silent auction that are planned. One tiny food place donated 2 empanadas, it was great to see someone who didn’t have much give something away in order to make money for the schools in the area.
Today we are going over to one of the beaches for a cruiser get together, we play dominos, cards, bocce ball, go snorkeling, etc. There are more and more boats arriving every day, so there are lots of new people to meet and get to know. Hope all in well with everyone. Barry has not been feeling well since about New Years. When we came back from Acapulco I put him on some penicillin and it seemed to speed up his recovery. Then the other night he was burning up with fever again. He actually stayed on the boat sleeping for the best part of two days, not at all like him. He claims he is much better today and I hoping he is being truthful, otherwise I would like him to go and see a doctor, this has been going on for almost a month now and if it is just a normal virus type illness he should be over it. It is quite worrying, but he does look and sound much better today.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

This is the latest addition to our boat. Barry is in seventh heaven. This is our new Honda 1000 which at this very second is happily humming away in the background putting in 35 amps of electricity into our batteries. Life is good. The computer is being charged, we have the fans on to cool the boat down. We can put the anchor light on at night and turn more than one light on in the boat without feeling terribly guilty. The humming is a bit annoying but if I think of it as a large CAT purring away as it powers up the boat, I don't have a problem with that. It is only 29 pounds or for all you younger Canadians that would be 13 kilograms. I can lift it without any problems and I think we will store it under the table when we are under way, it isn't very big so should fit there. We will have to figure out some way to secure it, I was considering duct tape but decided that would be a tad wasteful, perhaps bungy cords and line.
We went and tried to sell t-shirts and CD's to the folks off a cruise ship today. It was surprising how many would chat away, seem quite interested and then just leave without buying anything, cheap so and so's. We were there for four hours and managed to sell 10
t-shirts at 100 pesos a piece, or 10 USD, we sold 2 CD at 200 pesos so we made 1200 pesos for the cause and it will double when the charitable foundation that is involved will match our funds. It costs 250 USD to fund one child for one year in a secondary school, so we accomplished that today. I figure an education for a year for one child is a good trade for standing at a booth schoomzing tourists for 4 hours.
We had some pictures of the children from the schools so we could show the tourists what conditions the schools were in. A child came up and found herself in one of the pictures. She brought over her brother and sister and finally her mother and she really wanted the picture that had been taken. We couldn't resist and gave her our propoganda. Someone had a camera so took a shot of her with the picture, with her family. I will try to get a copy of that picture so you can enjoy the look of pride on her face as she displayed the picture of herself in school. Wow, that was really special.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

We went on a school tour yesterday. It was a real eye opener. the school was very small and very crowded. There is no equipment and they have nothing to work with. All the kids are happy and have huge smiles on their faces. They like going to school. They have a canteen outside of the school where the kids can get nutritious snacks and the money they make they turn back to the school.

They are in the midst of plans to build a new school. The City of Zihuatanejo has donated the land, the government will pay for construction materials, the Rotary Club has agreed to buy the furnishings for the school and Sailfest and a charity in the states are raising money for the construction costs. It is quite an undertaking. It feels really good to be part of the committee and to help out.

The school is up very high on a hill to the north of town, there is a beautiful view of the bay from up there and it is very breezy. The only thing about it being so high is that all the kids that don't have transportation have to walk up the hill to go to school.
All the cruisers are pulling together and getting a four day festival organized. There are 4 raffles, a CD that has been produced for sale, an auction, a chili cook-off, a sail parade where the cruisers sell spots on thier boat and parade around Z-bay and then over to Ixtapa. Barry and I are helping with registration and sale of t-shirts, CD's, raffle tickets, etc.

Monday, January 15, 2007

We have been wandering around town the last few days. We went walking into a different part of town yesterday and watched part of a soccer game or "football" as it is referred to down here. Then we went up a hill trying to get a good view of the harbour, the street we were on started getting narrower and narrower, it finally turned into a lane, and then into a walkway. The houses there were up on a hill, with only this tiny steep walkway that could use to access the house. We noticed almost every house had laundry handing up in the yard, I guess Sunday is laundry day.

We have become involved in Sailfest. It is a festival that cruisers organize to raise money for local schools. It is in it's 5th year and each year it has become bigger and better to the point that they are supporting 3 schools. The schools are for aboriginal kids that live here. These kids are brought up speaking their language and they can't get admitted to a Spanish school until they learn Spanish. The schools that have been established and supported by Sailfest exist to be able to mainstream these Aboriginal kids. We are going to go on a tour of the schools on Wednesday.

Unfortuneately we aren't going to be here for Sailfest because we have to be in Manzanillo to meet the girls so we decided to get involved now and do some volunteering. We are going to help out with the registration and sales of the T-shirts and CD's that they are putting out. It should be a good way to meet other cruisers as well.

Barry is at the bank at the moment, he is transferring money so we can buy a Honda generator. Our solar panels can't keep up to our energy demands, we are having to run our motor almost daily so we can have lights or use the computer in the evenings. The generator will allow us to not have to worry about having 2 lights on at once, yeah!!! I'm just not sure where we are going to put the thing when we are underway, but I guess that is Barry's problem.

Friday, January 12, 2007

We are back in Zihuatanejo now. (Check out the Acapulco blogs, I added pictures, the pictures of the divers actually diving did not work out, they were too far away and it was dark, too bad) We had a nice sail/motor back, no problems. At one point we were actually sailing at + 6 knots, it was a lovely feeling to be moving along. We were sailing with all the portholes and the one hatch open to get air in the boot and I actually went below and closed the leeward portholes becuase we might get some water in them!!! We saw the strangest site, these rays were leaping out of the water. They would jump singly or in pairs and they would go about 4 or 5 feet up in the air. When they came out of the water they would be fairly steamlined and then they would open their flaps or wings or whatever and then the would hit the water with a huge splatting noise. It was the strangest thing, does anyone know enough about fish to figure out why they jump out of the water. We have seen at least 3 different species of fish do this, I wonder if they are trying to escape a predator, maybe they are just trying to get a better view of our beautiful boat!! Yeah, that must be it.
When we got back to Z-town we met Steve and Sandi coming out of the bay to clean their bottom so we went and anchored with them and we had a nice chat. Later that night we met for a farewell dinner as they are leaving to go north today. We had such a good time, we went to Rick's Bar, the cruiser hangout and had a real North American steak dinner. All the beef down here is cut really thinly and they eat a lot of what my Mom call pulled beef, it's like they shave it very thin in long strips. After dinner we listened to live music and Barry was feeling no pain so we even danced a few dances, it was a great way to say good-bye. I am sure we will meet up with them again. We are going to put our boats on the hard in the same spot and we will be heading the same direction.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

We are on our way back to Zihuatanejo, we are sailing at about 5 knots, which is great for this part of the country. We had a very interesting day yesterday. We hopped on a bus and went all the way around the bay in Acapulco. It was interesting to go from the old part of town to the newer part. The new part close to the water is all hotels and bars along the waterfront. There is a MacDonalds, a couple of KFC's and lots of high end clothing stores. The bars along the bay all have shore access and although they were pretty empty in the morning when we were walking around, we were encouraged to come in and sit down and indulge. There were quite a few night clubs as well that I am sure would come alive in the evenings.
We went to visit the El Fuerte San Diego, or Fort San Diego. It is a fort that was built by the Spanish to protect Acapulco in the 1600's. There was a museum in the fort, it was very nicely done and all the exhibits had English translations. Some of the translations were worded quite weirdly but you got the meaning. There was a little about the fort and a lot about the trading routes that were established between Acapulco and the Philippines. I didn't know that the Philippines were populated by the Spanish and Mexicans. There was quite a bit of material about the trading that took place and how the Oriental culture and the Spanish culture mixed due to the trading. They had wonderful examples of Chinese embroidery and china that ended up in Mexico due to the trading. There was a room about pirates and they were portrayed as men who hassled the Spanish galleons in time of war. It was made clear that most pirates did not get rich and lived a pretty hard life trying to chase down and capture the wonderful Spanish galleons. The fort itself was made in the shape of a pentagon with a moat around it. It was very impressive to stroll around the top of it and gaze out at Acapulco Harbour from the 5 different vantage points. After we finished visiting we went and rested in the zoloco or town square. It was a beautifully treed area with benches and a pagoda. There were stores around the edges of the courtyard but we weren't hassled by any vendors or beggars while we were sitting there.
We are planning on stopping in one spot before we get to Z-town so we plan to arrive there sometime on Friday.

We stopped at this one little open air restaurant for lunch, I ordered shrimp. They came just like this, I remember Katherine, Steve and Sandi's daughter complaining about cleaning shrimp for our Boxing Day dinner, well the proof is in the pudding. In Mexico you don't need to you can just cook them and serve them with everything still attached!!!! They were delicious by the way after you got over their appearance.

Monday, January 08, 2007

We went to see the cliff divers last night and it was amazing. My heart would be in my throat every time they leaped off the cliffs. The whole set up was pretty cool. There are huge cliffs on both sides of a small inlet. They have built a massive set of stairs so you can go down the cliffs on one side to watch the divers. The stairs are big and wide and there are three foot tall walls that are a foot thick all along the stairway. There are pretty good vantage points all the way down the stairs, so people stop all along the stairway to lean on the wall and watch. We got there pretty early and just watched the surf surge in and out of the small opening.
When the divers arrived for the 7:30 P.M. show they walked down the stairway with lit torches. They dowsed the torches at the bottom of the stairs and they walked toward the wall everyone was leaning over and climbed over it and down the cliffs to a small flat spot about 10 feet above the water. There were about 8 divers, one fellow was really young and was just learning. He took several dives from the low spot, he got the top part of his body under control and managed that part of the dive but had not yet learned to control his legs. They would bend and splat as he hit the water, one time he arched too much and almost flipped over, that looked painful. Meanwhile the older guys had dove in and were cleaning up some debris that was in the water, I imagine if they had hit some of that when they went in the water it could have done some significant damage.
Then what happened was one of the most amazing parts, the divers free climbed up the cliff on the other side, we estimated it was about 80 feet high. They went up like mountain goats one at a time. The younger fellows stopped about half way up and dove from there, about four went all the way to the top, but only one fellow dove from the top. Two dove at the same time and did a pike with one flip. The divers would be standing on their spot on the cliff and then they would whistle and wave to get your attention. Then they would steady themselves for the dive and then intently watch the surf so they could time their dives to hit the water when the surge of the surf would be just right. The cliffs were all lit up with floodlights but other than that there was no other artificial enhancements. There was no announcer, there was no music, just divers climbing, whistling, waving and diving. It was quite magical, I am so happy that we went and without a doubt it will be one of the highlights of our Mexican trip.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

We are approaching Acapulco. We have had a quiet passage with light winds, we motored most of the night. We timed it right and had another beautiful full moon last night. Yesterday we saw lots of turtles lolling about in the water. They are quite funny, they just lie there on the surface, some dive when we get close but others just float about occasionally flapping a leg up in the air. We had several pods of dolphins come and cavort about the boat as well, that is always fun to watch from the bow.
I am very keen to go and see the cliff divers here. I was talking to Mom about it over Christmas and I can remember watching the Wide World of Sports as a kid and I am pretty sure in the opening pictorial montage there was a guy diving off the cliffs in Acapulco. If not from there then from somewhere in my brain I have retained an image of wonderfully fit looking guys diving off these cliffs. We are hoping to be able to replace the part that will hook us into the internet. Hopefully one of us will be able to get a decent picture of those cliff divers and we can share it with you. After our visit here we will head back north and get ready to meet our daughters as they fly into Manzanillo at the beginning of February.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Mom left on Jan. 2 and we moved from Zihuatanejo to the marina at Ixtapa on Jan. 3. We will stay there tonight and then leave for Acapulco sometime tomorrow. We have been busy cleaning the outside of the boat, this being the first time since San Diego that we have had fresh water to wash down the boat. The hardest chore was cleaning the anchor chain. It had growth on it that was really scummy and it would not come off without a real good scrubbing. There was only about 30 feet that was affected, thank goodness, but it still took us about 2 1/2 hours. The chain is still all over the dock, we are going to repaint it later this afternoon.

The other thing that happened was we snapped off the connection to the card that hooks us into the internet, so we do not have internet access on the boat anymore. If you want to get in touch with us please use this e-mail

We are looking forward to heading out again but I have very mixed feelings about leaving without Mungo. It just doesn't feel right.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Feliz Ano Nuevo!! Hope you had a great one. This was our first out of Canada New's Years experience and it was super. We went to a cruiser get together on a large motor vessel early in the evening and then we headed over to Mom and Bill's hotel. They soundly trounced us at bridge and then just as we were putting out our midnight snacks, Steven and Sandi and their family showed up. We went down to the beach and had the snacks with champagne as the music played. The surf was pounding away in the background and people wandered and danced their way up and down the beach under the almost full moon. At midnight there were three different sets of fireworks around the bay and we all were enthralled by the display. After much hugging and kissing we had a chorus of "' May old acquaintance be forgot....."

Today, Mom and Bill went over to Las Gatas beach and Mom and I snorkeled while Bill and Barry sat on the beach and had a bucket of beers!!!! What a lovely way to spend New Years, I wonder where we will spend it next year. All the best to all of you and best wishes for 2007.