Plan in advance and don’t stress!! You are coastal sailing to Mexico and maybe a little further.

This is an article that will be published in the next few months in the Bluewater cruising Association Magazine. But Why not share it with you now.

 

Three years ago we were getting ready to leave for a departure in the late summer, as most of you. We were running around trying to achieve the perfect boat. Something we will not even try to define, as we have learned by now that there is no perfect boat but only “A” boat that takes you places or not, in comfort or barely. You have heard multiple opinions and some strong suggestions by now during your BCA encounters. Relax you are only sailing to the next port/anchorage and more often than not it’s not that far. Do you really need a $4000 chartplotter, a watermaker, a satellite phone or a windwane? Only you can answer those questions. And in reality, what you really need is lots of swim trunks and swim suits, some cheap but good waterproof footwear and the right attitude to survive out here. Sorry, nearly forgot the zap straps and two rolls of monkey duct tape to be a true Canadian boat.

The first major obstacle for most of us is the budget; we can’t afford all the bells and whistles that we see at boat shows or in magazines. The best solution defines what you and your entourage need to live with or without, then stick to it. Any last minute flip flop will cost you dearly and will not be installed and tested properly before departure, in our mind it is a recipe for disaster. You really need to know all your systems onboard and have the tools to repair it, the best gimmick that is not running doesn’t help, does it. On that note a washing machine and a freezer were for us basic needs, so we are not proponent of minimalist cruising. Ice creams any one, a sure winner in any remote anchorage.

Secondly keep in mind that your chances to be in warm weather increases drastically once you take the big left turn at Neah Bay. And yes, it is true that some parts of the world bask in above 20 Celsius all year long, so adapt your choice to this fact, a water heater is not an essential but a sun shade in the cockpit is, a powerful alternator is nice but more solar panel is a delight truly we could go on and on like this but again only you can make those choices. For this read blogs with a somewhat similar state of mind or style of cruising you would like to achieve, ask questions to crews who are doing it in the region you wish to visit with similar lifestyles. Actually that fan above my head, feels good as I am writing this in 35 degree Vaitahu (Marquesas), in April but were only decoration in our scorching summer in Vancouver.

This brings me to a third point; define where you are going and time frame. The needs for Mexico are a lot different than the ones for visiting Antarctica. A two years tour requires less backup than an indefinite wondering. We are not talking about the boat in itself but the equipment, anything can cross ocean you would be surprise what we anchor next to in French Polynesia. The idea of the perfect boat for a PNW sailor is very different than a French one. But again you are not going to stay where you are, so adapt your need to your new environment and way of life. We shouldn’t be where we are, if we had listened to some people, imagine that. We are sailing a production catamaran made of plastic, ludicrous.

Finally, this idea of yours to do your last improvement or install on route is indeed possible but not always easy! The availability and cost are not the same than those you find back at your home port with the ease of internet research. San Diego is just down the road, but they know you are coming and there won’t be any special deal for you Mr and Mrs. You are only a transient boat like hundreds every year at the same season, pick your number and stand in line, the true professionals are booked month in advance, you are left with the opportunist.

So for the ones going down the coast, relax it’s not that hard. If you take your time, don’t run against the weather you will be fine. Only one thing you need to travel with, is knowledge, those wonderful week-end locked up in the musky basement of the Scottish center will pay of rather quickly. Yes your outboard is not going to start on the first pull, an electrical system will run havoc but not to worry you will be able to troubleshoot it in no time. Because you know your boat better than your car engine or your last condo plumbing system, well let’s hope so.

Mexico is a wonderful place to visit, lively people amazing scenery and wonderful food. You will be surrounded by lots of cruisers with the same problems and they know how or where to fix it. Also the Mexicans are not used to exchange every broken part, but fix them on the spot in minutes, more often than not. And never forget that Mr. Google is your best friend for that major problem you just have. Every time we ask for a specific situation we have on a system, it has been a problem for somebody else already. Don’t sweat it you are not alone.

Your partner wants to have a hair dryer onboard not a problem, make sure you have a generator that can cope. You want cold beverage, well better isolate that old box of yours. Those are the question and decision that need to be made in good harmony 1-2 years before departure; they will dictate success more than anything else.

So relax, keep the coast to your left, and all will be good. Yes, it’s that easy and you could be sleeping in your bed at anchor or at the dock each night, if you choose to all the way down.

As for Cruising Mexico, we spent two winters in the mainland and one summer in the sea of Cortez. A delight for the senses, lots to discover in any configuration you choose. Marina or anchored, surrounded or not. You choose, nobody else will. But those decisions you make now, will impact your comfort in the long run, so don’t fool yourself be true to your spirit.



The rush before we leave.

Finally our decision is made; we will be on the move again to sail to the Tuamotus beginning of next week if the forecast keeps the same of course… This means that the entire village has heard the news and projects are coming out of the wood work like never before, a medley of washing machines some with hole in the casing (no wonder it was leaking), a dead TV, a motor bike with electrical problem,
compressor and electric motor who smell funny along with sewing machine have us moving from house to house. In other words here is a small piece of advice: learn how to use your multi-metre and you will be the king of the castle!

Despite this little running we have found time to walk far in the “cocoteraie” with Marie showing us the way we discovered some magnificent “Pae-Pae” including a beautiful head in petroglyph; and for those of you interested keep in mind that you will need a local escort as you have to walk on personal property. And on this subject, even though every home looks wide open no one not even family enters the ground without being invited, there is no doorbell so all you need to do is call from the side of the street shouting “Bonjour” or in this modern day with a cellphone until a response come.


This fruit is called localy a pistache (pistachio), if we have a reader with knowledge of the real name please contact us. We are dying to know what it is.



 


Banana drying before getting packed, a very good snack that last forever.


Mexico Is in town as Valerie teaches Vaitea and Moe the art of Tortillas.


Just so I remember, the Joyce I got under that freezer.


 

Taking care of us…

Once in a while we need to take care of ourselves and today was such a day. Knowing that soon we will be on the move again it gave us the push we needed to turn our attention on Letitgo. Nevertheless, I was still able to squeeze in a weed whacker repair but the gentleman forgot that to test and diagnostic a 2 stroke engine you need fuel, so that went rather quickly. Talking about fuel, we filled up our tanks the other day only to realize that we used so far since we left Ecuador: 44 liters of Diesel for 50 hours of engine time. This is not normal average as we used the engine at very low RPM or low load for battery charging a few times.

Now back on our subject, today was a day to stay home and start looking into our duties. More precisely what did we get done on this very warm day; the back boom latch that connects to the main sheet was showing some wear and tear from the outside. The plan was to remove it, turn it around until we can get a new one made in Tahiti. Well as you can admire below that didn’t go according to plan, as once unfolded it was not showing little usage but was holding only by some rather fine threads. Phew we sure are glad we did that today!


Next, our dinghy chap made with love before we left Ecuador is not too happy with the docks in the Marquesas! Let us assure you that we do use (religiously might I add) a stern anchor and albeit all our care still the sunbrella is getting ripped… so we sewed pieces of old fire hoses to re-inforce the damage, hopefully this will do the trick and hold with us for a while. We also applied some paint on our freezer as it was showing a few spots of rust in order to stop the growth, no photos of this exciting project sorry.


And while we are on the subject of repair and maintenance today lets talk about skin cuts in the tropics. Not sexy we know, but this is our daily reality of life from living in a warm tropical climate and the proximity of seawater! Any little cut becomes a nasty infected flesh eating disaster in no time. Regularly we see kids running around with bandage on their legs and we witness infections as we have rarely seen in our colder climate. But after some trial and error, Valerie has finally mastered the issue: disinfect well before bed or as soon as you notice it and apply a generous amount of antiseptic cream (Polysporin) the next morning clean again and apply “new skin” for the day, it holds better than a bandaid and it disinfects. Repeat the next day and you should be all good to go in three days, if not you keep going at it for weeks and never see the end of the tunnel and the staphylococcus is on its way…

On a similar subject, we were able to get the treatment for the “filariose” recently available at your nearest island dispenser during the month of April. If you have never seen the lovely legs you get from this illness, we invite you to google it. Because it is still part of life around here, trust me you swallow those 7 pills and live with the two days side effect with a smile.

We will mark this day in our calendar.

Truthfully a better day would be hard to plan in our eyes, we pinch ourselves regularly to enjoy the moment to the fullest. It had rained all night until 7am but once we had everybody onboard the sun decided to show up. We raised our two anchors (notice how I slide this in discreetly?) and then made our way to our favorite bay which you guessed it is: Hanamaenoa. Let’s say that some children must have slept well last night and the smile will stay on for a while, like the extra color for some. On our return we had a show of spinner dolphins as we have rarely seen, the day was complete or so we thought…




Some of us have to work to eat. Yes Mum, Laurent is wearing one of his most ugly tee-shirt!

When he has nicer ones in his closet…


Valentine or Titi the queen of crab hunting

and our dear host Steven.



Not all the children are theirs on this picture but actually it would be the right number if all were here.


And this is how we thought the day was going to end.


But it was without knowing the generosity of the community, Ruben the nurse is leaving tomorrow after a successful mission of two months. We were supposed to have a simple drink but a birthday was taking place and our party moved to the house in question. What a treat another “four Marquesien” (Polynesian oven) made by the master craftsman of the village. This time we were treated to veal slowly cook on charcoal, some marinated fish from the deep end tender like never before, along with lobster in coco milk. Of course slow cooked wild pig, fish, chicken, poipoi etc… were present as it should be if you want to make your guests happy, all this followed by delicious chocolate tart and lemon one. Another day when we will not die of hunger.


This is a professional oven in a beautiful house, charcoals are placed the day before, once warm the palm leaf baskets are going in and covered with a metal sheet and wet bag.


Benjamin is enjoying meat for once caveman style, the “Four Seasons” days are far behind for this young man. Jose is ahead in style, no raised pinky for him.

 


While on the subject of friends, we exchanged emails during the Semana Santa with our friends from Guadalajara and hold and behold we got a photo back from them eating in Tenacatita’s palapa (restaurant on the beach)

Where we celebrated their rescue two years ago. We miss you all and you are in our thoughts often.

Working our way….

Nothing much exciting to report around here, except that we are not bored and are booked up until Monday for work… well let us rephrase that one, it is not quite work actually.

In the meantime Benjamin performed his provincial exam in English under the supervision of the principal and he keeps progressing in his supplementary math class with a pretty strong determination. Valerie has been sewing/finishing up some beautiful patchwork blankets for one Grandmother with her machine. I have installed one TV which seems easy until you realize they are reusing dubious coaxial and have no connector, then helped do some researches on the internet for motorbike parts. We ate lobster given to the nurse during one of our recent tour and had another great evening. Today was a big day, as the now famous Aranui arrived and with it came the usual mad rush. We also both got sick for 24 hours each with a stomach bug that was rather strong. We visited the museum with Marie who took part of the excavation a few years back this was super interesting though we don’t have photos to share with you. And at this point we now need a calendar reminder on our tablet to keep up with our week and make sure we don’t double book ourselves! For now it looks that after Benjamin’s mid-term exam we may be able to escape Vaitahu’s grip… (to be continued)

Some vacations are needed, perfect timing we have a picnic scheduled for tomorrow in our favourite bay of all: Hanamoenoa aka la baie de Stevens.



You never escape the dock without one or two children, who want to come jump from the boat.

Huiata is very proud, he is now able to jump from the bow for the first time, and he is only 5!


Emma on the other hand had a surprise this week during one of her walk with the children!

Relax she didn’t get a 4 and a 2 years old since she left us, she is just nannying.

While walking with them, she was stopped and asked if she was “Emma from Letitgo” by readers of the blog, she now knows the feeling of being recognized in the street.

Thank you Rejean and Joyce for sharing those pictures with us, it is pretty cool.


 

Easter is a long week-end of family gatherings around here.

We lived through the Semana Santa in México, two weeks of party non-stop from 5 am to 2am and survived. We over ate during Easter Sunday lunches in France, well the Marquesan one is a blend of both four days of religious and eating mix into something rather intense. Monday we thought ourselves safe, but an invite sprung on us from behind a BBQ. Saying no in the marquises is rather tricky, so soon after we were able to taste some Tazar in lait de coco and cooked slowly on wood fire, a true delight to the senses. More stories were exchange and once more we get to understand the Marquesan’s philosophy of life their culture and interaction in the community.


The gigot needs carving, thanks god I went to university for this.


Second flower crowd for Valerie, a welcome gift from one of our host.

We do our best to encounter sailors from all over but sometime you shake our heads in disbelief. Today we met a boat taking part in a “feel good rally” that just arrived in the anchorage, in no time they were giving away a soccer ball, not any kind of soccer ball as a matter of fact but a rather expensive pink leather ball. The parents didn’t like it, as anything this color is for girl and not boys. Without any idea or knowledge on how the society function: who to give it to and how to share it, this brings some problematics and endangers the equilibrium of the group… We never saw it again very strange as normally any new toys stay out until broken.


Church of Motopu during one of our clinic tour

One more lesson learned on Good Friday.

We eluded in our last post that we had dropped something and needed to fetch it back, well in fact it is a rather important piece of equipment… our secondary anchor. A secondary anchor, what do you need that for, one might wonder! Truly it is a piece of equipment that you use to work in tandem when the wind climbs above 30 knots, in other word the one that enable us to sleep at night and feel safe. Now the next question is how on earth do you let that fall in the water? After all it weighs 35 kg (70 lbs) and is a piece of steel with 4 meters of chain seating flat on the trampoline. Well here is how: Prepare it on deck as usual for re-anchoring because it’s hell out and you feel like you are in a bowling alley, then one large boat nearby who looks like he is going to anchor just on top of yours and will no doubt take you for a spin very soon, so you get inside to call on the radio and explain politely that this might not the best idea, you come back out only to realize that your secondary anchor has now disappeared, Vegas at its best.

Fortunately as we were manoeuvering we had the chartplotter on and we had a track still, so with the help of two experienced divers, two dinghies and a portable GPS with a set of waypoint we derived from our track. We were able in 20 minutes of search to locate our beloved beauty by 45 feet of depth at last we were re-united! We can’t thank enough for the kind help of Franck and Laurence meanwhile we learned a valuable lesson: While doing such manoeuver put a safety line on the baby next time. With that done we got 180 feet of chain back in and hooked up the recovered one, we will sleep well tonight. And you think cruising is only fun and margarita, stop reading those glossy magazines immediately.


We got reminded this morning that the French navy is patrolling the neighborhood, they were taking pictures of the boats at anchor. Also for anybody thinking of sneaking a “couple” of days under the radar in Fatu hiva and Tahuata before checking in Hiva Oa officially, to extend those three months visa. Don’t even think about it, last week we were asked if we knew one boat, they knew hadn’t checked in yet. The gendarmes were looking for them knowing that they had made land fall in the southern island not the best way to start your stay, we gather paperwork is going to be rather difficult.



The main mass apparently for Easter is on Saturday night, news to us but not the entire island that came from all the other valleys for the occasion. The priest travelled from Hiva Oa for the entire week-end and the parish got his money worth out of him. We can’t count how many services and confessions he did in two valleys but his schedule was tight. The fire was lighted outside the church and in total darkness with only candle everybody walked in, the signing was magnificent with 3 choirs from the valley. The rest of Easter week-end was just a overindulging of some of amazing food sharing it with great friends, thank you all for your hospitality and for making us feel part of the family.



VIP photo with Koki and Titi after a remarkable reading, for Jesus version 2.0 or the Comeback.


 

One more amazing encounter in our lives.

There is no doubt that by now you all figured out our last post was indeed a lame April’s fool joke, truly we simply couldn’t resist sharing with you those beautiful pictures. They were compliment of Jacques a fellow cruiser who travelled to Antarctica recently. He gave us a quick presentation of his pictures and the story of his trip, we were in awe for a good two hours, another amazing sight to see and an incredible “little piece” of land rarely visited on earth. The dream lives on…

But let’s get back to our everyday life and encounters. We again crossed path with an amazing person Ruben, who is an itinerant nurse for the territory. His energy and professionalism got the island in frenzy and while we get to know him better; he has invited us to do one of his consultation valley tours. Today he took us to Hapatoni, just an hour drive from Vaitahu on a rather bumpy road. This community of 70 people is very independent and with a lot of pride for their surroundings and history.

Ruben introduced us to Christina who very gladly showed us around the village, where there is a beautiful “pae pae” very well maintained and preserved, we then were invited to her family’s home for the most authentic way to cook food around here, “le four Marquesien”: a fire pit dug in the ground covered with volcanic rocks where the food cooks for a day. This treat takes 24 hours of preparation and cooking; the pig in this instance is placed in coco leaves basket with lots of other goodies and cooked overnight. You will not witness this event as we were reluctant to take pictures in a family affair that we literally crashed in a North American meaning but were welcomed like family here, it was totally unexpected and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, we sat out of the way with some cousins and enjoyed a delicious plate of all the best foods of the island.

On 31st March our quiet place in Vaitahu’s bay got “invaded” by 20 boats which were part of a rally “World Arc”; festivities were planned for them in the bay of Hapatoni on 1st April and they all left for the party next door. We had been invited to join Ruben once more to do another visit with him to Motopu, but Mother Nature had something else in mind for us… The wind picked up unexpectedly and with wind gusts blowing at 43 knots top, we thought it might be wise to stay put. And it is a good thing we did! At 10am boats started to drag from right left and center including us so in the end, we picked Benjamin up and went on a day trip to our favorite spot. We enjoyed a relaxing day with Steven; we will return to Vaitahu soon to pick up something we dropped… (more to come!)


As you can tell from the picture, he is receiving quite the welcome.

Ruben a few days ago with the children.


We told you that the road was challenging but we were rewarded with beautiful scenery.



Medical visits in the valley are not necessarily mandatory but Ruben does it weekly, the files arrive with some medications and a few medical instruments, one community room is requisitioned and literally an open door clinic takes place. Discretion and anonymity? Forget about it.


Stone to fill the axes, also called Erminettes


A mirror for the last Marquesan princess.


The village was expecting the next day a sailboat rally and dressed everywhere this way.


In our series of comfortable ride, we never did the covered pickup. Those dishes are left over; you never leave a family dinner without them around here.

Everybody please notice the child sleeping on Valerie’s lap as she wanted to make sure you saw the little one

And requested this photo, aww!


 

What a change!!!

What a change a few miles make around here, after an overnight sail north. We discovered a very different scenery, when we set foot on the beach. Fortunately, the locals have decided to preserve the whale carcass intact. Also the current coming from the higher latitude brings on these islands some unusual species, to our delight they are never been exploited for their meat and are rather unafraid of the human.

The day was bright and sunny, so we decided to go for a long walk. Not much food available on the tree, not to worry we were well prepared with a picnic. Coming back onboard, we discovered some soft water in Benjamin’s bilge, the problem was tracked down rather quickly to the water heater element. Finally my repair from Guaymas México gave up, the new unit went in and we enjoyed hot shower tonight.

We may not stay here for long as the temperature drops drastically, still there are lots to see and enjoy.




Procession for palm sunday et Dim Sum.

This morning church was special as the catholic faith celebrated palm sunday, again we learned on what it means and now understand better, all those dried out branches hanging out from crucifix in our youth. And it’s always a treat to see the community together dress in their best.


Marie Claire with her beautiful couronne.


Now, the photo below was sent to us we think as a way to torture and tease us; you see we haven’t had Dim sum since Panama City and family is trying to make us suffer a bit. Well this is without counting on Benjamin resourcefulness and ability to cook completely new thing. We had invited on board Keanu and Teata for a trip up to crystal clear Hanamenoa bay we were not disappointed, and the day was picture perfect.



guest

Simply delicious!