Gearing up for the crossing!
Well we last left you after we had just arrived in Puerto Vallarta holding on to our functioning engine by a thread. It’s now mid-March, and you might be wondering…. Where is Arctic Loon now? Are they in French Polynesia? Half way across the ocean? At the bottom of the Pacific? Back home in Seattle because it all just got to be too much? Nope, none of the above. We’re still in Puerto Vallarta and gearing up to cross.
Those of us who are “puddle jumping” need to watch the weather throughout the month of March to determine our departure date. The very first weather window occurred around March 6th. At that point, we didn’t feel quite ready (read on to find out why), and having only a 90 day visa to spend in French Polynesia, it worked out with our schedule to wait anyway. So far, only about 7 boats that we know of have started out on the journey. We’re all waiting for the next weather window, which should hopefully be about a week from now!
So here’s what we’ve been up to during these last couple weeks of preparation.
Jumping ship: With all of our mechanical issues, Anne and I (Emma) decided we weren’t cut out for the sailing life, so we booked flights out of Mexico relieved to escape PV’s tropical paradise. ……… Just kidding. But both of us did leave Mexico for about a week to take care of business back home. Anne to Seattle, and Emma to Denver. Both experienced significant temperature shock upon returning after remembering what snow felt like, and both came carrying as many boat goodies (hinges, electronic devices, kayaks….yes kayaks) as they could.
Gaining a crew member: Connie, our 4th ocean crosser arrived on March 2nd, and we are so happy she’s finally here! She’s the grounded, calming energy that perhaps we all needed in the midst of all of the mechanical failures and provisioning planning. She also brings with her a wealth of knowledge that comes from living aboard her own sailboat. 34 years ago, Connie actually named her daughter Marquesa after our destination, so it’s safe to say this has been a lifelong dream of hers, and we’re excited to be fulfilling it with her.
Alternator…. again…. : At this point we’ve almost lost track of how many times our alternator and regulator have failed us in some way. After the last post’s adventure making it to PV from Barra without a functioning alternator, we thought our mechanical woes might just be over. But of course, after fixing the alternator, and replacing the regulator with a brand new one flown in by our dear friends Heather and Rick, yet another alarm went off as we took off from PV to Punta Mita to meet our wonderful friend Robin (who taught us much needed therapeutic painting). At this point, we were genuinely wondering if the crossing should happen or not. Perhaps the universe was trying to tell is this just wasn’t the right time. But here we are, ten days, two scheduled mechanic visits, and one fixed blown fuse later…. we’re ready to go, and we’re positive it is the right time. Well…. at least we’re positive it’s the right time for another shake down.
Temporarily vagabonding in La Cruz : Right around the time of the first weather window, we had two major things on our mind. The first was our alternator problems. We needed to move the boat from La Cruz to Puerto Vallarta to get them fixed. Second, was boat insurance for the crossing. We’ll spare you the details of that saga, but essentially, we (and many many other puddle jumpers) were having difficulty finding an insurance company to cover us for anything less than an outrageous fee. We had to prove our credentials as sailors (Anne’s and Diana’s that is) over and over again, and we’re even quite suspicious that one company was refusing to cover us because of a bias against female captains. We did get one insurance quote that required the boat to be hauled out (lifted out of the water) for an inspection. And of course, the only day that was available to do this at the ship yard was the same day we planned to go back to PV to meet the mechanics. But we switched around out schedule, and planned to take off later in the day instead. Buuuut poor Arctic Loon just couldn’t do it. The inspection revealed that she had a tiny crack (minor problem), and would need to stay at the ship yard over night to be fixed up. With the local hotel full, this left us sitting on the sidewalk in the hot sun pouring over Airbnb trying to find a reasonably priced room within walking distance. We found one of course, but not before a few exasperated sighs and doubts about Arctic Loon’s readiness for the Pacific (a common theme these days, can you tell?)
Boat maintenance – the new “T-Mobile” : Remember all of Anne’s technology problems? The ones where she couldn’t get her various internet calling software to communicate, and T-Mobile wouldn’t let her keep her American phone number, and her credit card was marked with fraud, and pretty much anything electronic she touched turned to dust? Well poor Captain Diana had her version of all that this week with boat maintenance issues. Again, we’ll spare you the details, but there have been hinges that were inside out, invisible steering cables, screws that were too tight, screws that were too loose, bolts that wouldn’t budge, and all the other problems that our friend WD40 just couldn’t solve for us. It’s always incredibly satisfying when a problem is checked off the list though, and we’re down to the nitty gritty. Arctic Loon will never be perfect, but she’s getting pretty darn close.
Friends and Catan : Despite all of our complaints, we really can’t claim all that much hardship these days. We’re living in a place that is quite literally called “Paradise,” relaxing after our mechanical work with a nice mojito on the beach. And to top it all off, we’ve decided to “buddy boat” with a lovely family on a boat called Agatha that is heading out on the same adventure. We’ve been having meetings with them sharing knowledge and laughing about how much we’ll miss Mexican avocados and margaritas. On our last trip to their boat, we discovered that we are both Catan playing boats, so we set up a big game along with our sweet neighbors Rob and Spencer who are heading to Hawaii soon. It was a night to be social and not talk about what boat device is or isn’t working, when the winds will be ideal, or how best to read the weather. We’re grateful for the comradery we’ve found on this journey, and can only look forward to all of the incredible people we’ll meet in the months to come.
|A much needed mental health day|
|Getting hauled out|
|Anne's trip home|
|Emma looking for the steering cables|
|A typical phone screen these days.... a weather report.|
|Statue at the Malacon|
|Beaded sculptures made by a community in the mountains nearby|
|Trying to find the steering cables under Emma's bed|
|Out to eat on land while our boat is hauled out|