Saturday, March 30, 2019

The Waiting Game

The old engine (barely) comes out

For us, March was a month of waiting. Our transmission died on January 24. It then took us a month to determine the extent of the problem, get good advice, and to send in the wire transfer to order up a replacement transmission, lower unit and (reluctantly) a new engine. From then (February 21), it was mostly delays due to doing business in Mexico. First, there is the time to do a wire transfer (3 days); then the Volvo warehouse in Tennessee takes time to assemble the motor package and ship it out (up to 14 days); time to ship to the border (3 days); time to go through customs (2 days); and time to ship from the border to Puerto Vallarta (8 days). In total, what we were told would take four days took four weeks. However, the motor, transmission, and lower unit did arrive last weekend. On Tuesday we
The new engine (easily) goes in
hauled out Schatzi, had the old engine and transmission removed, lifted the new engine aboard, installed the new transmission, and splashed back down.  Right now, we are waiting for the motor mounts to be fashioned and for the fuel, electrical and exhaust to be connected.

What do you do while waiting? Well, make more lemonade, of course! Roger was able to race three days on board a speedy J 130 sailboat, Sirocco, taking second in class in the Banderas Bay Regatta (Thank you, Lee and Cathy!). We had a couple get togethers with our friends visiting from Seattle--Bill and Kathleen Elmer and Bob and Sally Munn. Our new friends from
Sightseeing in Guadalajara
Tsawwassen, Fred and Audrie Davies, sauntered off to the Botanical Gardens for lunch and flower sniffing. Then there was the sightseeing trip to Guadalajara, seeing the classic colonial city and its surrounding pueblos. We also visited Tequila (yes, there is a town named Tequila and they grow and distill the stuff there), seeing a picturesque country distillery. And once the new engine was in the boat, we celebrated with a splurge dinner with Steve and Peggy Leonard to Las Carmelita’s restaurant, high above Puerto Vallarta, watching the sun settle over the horizon. So, we have managed to intersperse the waiting with quite a number of side adventures, many of which we would not have done, but for the delay in getting the engine.

Any day now we expect to be powering around again. From here we head back north into
Sunset at Las Carmelita's
the Sea of Cortes, for some of the best cruising Mexico has to offer. We will be reporting back on our return to sail boating (with power) in our next posting. Meanwhile, we send greetings from Mexico to all of our friends and readers,

Roger, Lynne, and Salty

You can reach us at 206-755-4193 or email rdwerner47@gmail.com.  And if you are so inclined, you can leave a comment at the end of this post.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Butterflies, Family, and a New Trannie

El Jefe means "The Boss"
I wonder which of us it refers to?

A few weeks ago, we reported that our transmission had packed it in, but that we were adjusting plans to see Mexico’s famous Monarch Butterfly migration and host a visit from Andy, Lorraine and Clark. Since then there have been developments on all three of these happenings, all positive.

First, the transmission. Our engine consultants—Larry, the parts manager at Coastal in Seattle; Mark, our engine mechanic in Seattle for thirty years; Steve, our sailing friend for forty years and all-around boat genius; and Greg, the Volvo dealer in Puerto Vallarta—ALL said that as long as we were replacing the transmission and lower unit, we should also replace the (older but working perfectly fine)
Mariposa Monarca
diesel engine. It seems that one is dollars ahead by buying a transmission and an engine as a package deal. Also, they said that there might be a market for our used engine, but of course, there are no guarantees. So, we now have a transmission AND a diesel engine coming from Tennessee to Puerto Vallarta.

Which left us with the minor challenge of delivering our engine-less sailboat 150 miles from Tentacatitas to Barra de Navidad to Puerto Vallarta. The first 14-mile leg from Tentacatitas to Barra was a glorious spinnaker romp, one of our best sails in Mexico. The next one, returning to Tentacatitas, began with difficulty in
Millions of Butterflies
negotiating the narrow entrance from Barra with an underpowered dinghy pushing us into a stiff head wind, but once clear of the entrance, we had a delightful beat and close reach on to Tentacatitas. The remaining legs to Chemela (29 miles), Ipala (51 miles) and on into PV (45 miles) were a mix of fun sailing and (mostly) being towed by our angels, Steve and Peggy on Flyer. We coasted into our slip in PV yesterday and are certainly relieved to be tied up where Schatzi can be hauled out of the water and the engine re-power done.

Now for the fun stuff. Every year, from December through February, millions of Monarch Butterflies flutter from Southern Canada and northern US to the tops of the interior
Steve and his Butterfly
mountains in Mexico. Imagine yourself in one of those butterfly cages at the zoo with a few dozen butterflies flying about. Now remove the cage, mosey on up to 10,500’ elevation and add a million or so butterflies--and you can experience this most incredible gathering. Scientists are baffled why or how they do it, but every year they come, filling the air, covering the trees and meeting up with other butterflies to make little butterflies. It is right up there with an African safari for a jaw dropping experience. The drive to the butterfly reserve was long (9 1/2 hours), but seeing the high Central Mexican plateau and the authentic rural Mexican pueblos simply added to the adventure.

The Morning Net Controller
Then a week later, our son Andy and his family of Lorraine and Clark, came and stayed at the hotel next to our marina. Swimming, tennis, snorkeling, soaking up the Mexican culture—it was all great. One the fun moments came on the boater’s morning net. Each morning, the boaters listen in on VHF channel 22 to hear boating news, announcements, weather and so forth. Our radio net is led by a volunteer net controller. On the day Roger did the net, no one stepped up to be the controller for the following day. So…nine-year old Clark became the guest controller for the day. He did magnificently and was the hit of the boating community! Perhaps there is a future in radio for the lad??

This brings us back to PV, where we hope to get the new engine/transmission installed this
Andy, Lorraine and Clark
week. Greg is confident he can get the job done and we are ever so hopeful that the job will go smoothly. Break a plate and wish us luck and we will tell you how it goes in our next posting.

Roger, Lynne, and Salty
You can reach us at 206-755-4193 or email rdwerner47@gmail.com


Sunday, February 3, 2019

When you have lemons--Make lemonade

At anchor in Bahia Tenacatita

When we last posted to our blog, we said we would next be writing about sun kissed, balmy, paradisiacal beach locations in coastal Mexico. And so it began. First it was 3 days at Chemala, a teeny village 100 miles south of Puerto Vallarta, with some of the best snorkeling we have seen in Mexico. Then it was on to one of our all-time favorites, Tenacatita, where we spent 7 days doing the jungle estuary tour, playing bocce ball, and living the beach life. The question was: what would happen first—run out of water (we have a two-week supply) or fill up the holding tank. It turned out that the holding tank filled up first.

That is when life changed. When we turned on the engine to motor out to dump, the engine let out a grinding, screeching noise and there was no movement ahead or astern. So, in
View from the restaurant
very light wind, we sailed out of the harbor, dumped the tank, and (to the amusement of the other cruisers present) sailed back to our anchor spot, hitting it within 5’ of where had been anchored before. The following day, we sailed (again, sans engine) 14 miles to the nearest marina at Barra de Navidad. Thankfully, Steve and Peggy were there to give us a tow through the narrow marina entrance and on into the docks.

Once securely tied up, we dove into the engine to see WHAT had happened. At first, we thought it might have been the drive plate, the connection between the transmission and the engine and a relatively east fix. But such was not the case. The spindle from the transmission was burred over. Upon further investigation, a local mechanic
Under Tow
determined that it probably was simply worn transmission gears. However, another development quickly came to light. Our transmission model is no longer supported by Volvo and we would need to replace the entire transmission. Further, since we have a sail drive, this means lifting the boat out of the water. The nearest boat yard is 150 miles north at Puerto Vallarta and it is to there that we will need to go (without the assistance of the engine; however, doable, since, after all, this IS a sailboat!).

Which gets us to lemons.

Andy, Lorraine and Clark have time off for Presidents Day. So, while we wait for a
The bunged up transmission spindle
transmission to be shipped from the US to Puerto Vallarta, they will be joining us here at the marina/resort on February 15-19. And then there are the butterflies. In the mountains of interior Mexico millions of monarch butterflies gather on their winter journey from the US and Canada, one of the most magnificent migrations in the entire animal kingdom. Using our down time here at the marina (after all, Schatzi is not going anywhere for a while), we are planning to drive up the mountains February 6-9 to see these butterflies in person. It was not our original plan, but here we go! We will have more to report in our next posting.

Boating pundits say that cruising is nothing but doing boat repairs in exotic locations and that certainly seems to be true for us, for now. These pundits also stress the need to be flexible when cruising, and we are certainly finding that to be true as well. Yes, cruising is
Marina Barra de Navidad
If you have to be stuck--this is good
a great life—or at least 90% great! We will let you know how all of this turns out in our next edition as we go down the boater’s highway. If you would like, please do send us an email to tell us of your lives and adventures, while we are off making lemonade,

Roger, Lynne, and Salty
You can reach us at 206-755-4193 or email rdwerner47@gmail.com

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Three Mexico Cities--All Different

PV Malecon

In the last month and one half, we have cruised to many secluded beaches and coves, but we have also visited the three largest Mexican cities we see while on the Pacific coast of Mexico. All three are fun, all the are colorful, all three are safe, and we like them all. Here is the run down.

LA PAZ, located near the bottom of the Baja California peninsula, is the capital of Baja California Sur and is largely a resort town. As with all three cities, good, varied, and inexpensive restaurants abound, making eating out a highlight of each day. Another feature of each city is their Malecon, the seawall walk way that goes on for several miles. It is a gathering place for locals and tourists alike is a great place for an evening stroll. It also is where you can find a
Chuck and Chris in Mazatlan
number of pieces of monumental sculptures, many dealing with the sea, some festive, some a bit quirky. It is like having Fremont’s “Waiting for the Interurban” a dozen times over.

MAZATLAN is the oldest established city of the three, having been a gathering place for native Americans for millennia, then a port for the Spanish, dating back to 1545, and then a fishing center. As with all three of these cities, there is an Old Town, a compact few dozen blocks exuding colonial charm. Then there is urban sprawl, Mexican style, that extends for a couple miles along the shore and inland. Hotels dominate the beaches
Salty's 7th Birthday
and behind them are commercial districts and residential areas that vary from middle class to struggling.
In Mazatlán we had the pleasure of meeting up with Chuck and Chris Cox, two friends from our church in Magnolia. They took us to their lovely condo atop a hill in Old Town and we saw how two gringos live ashore in Mexico, at least when they live in Mexico for a month or two a year. Chuck is also our Mazatlán restaurant advisor and found the restaurant where we celebrated our 49th anniversary. Chuck and Chris spend quite a bit of time looking out at the sea, but had never seen Mazatlán FROM the sea. So, we untied Schatzi and took them on
Christmas Time at Oxnard
a tour around the bay, including a stop at one of the islands in the harbor. It was a great day—both for the seasoned mariners and for the established gringos.

Mazatlán also is a good place to leave the boat, which we did to journey north to Oxnard, California to be with our family for Christmas. Kevin and Christian drove down to join us at Andy and Lorraine’s home, to have Christmas with our grandson Clark. While in Oxnard, we had the evening electric boat tour (there is nothing like a boat trip while on vacation from a boat trip!), dinner at the Pacific Corinthian yacht Club, hiking the hills behind Oxnard, great dining a la Chef Christian, and fun with the family.

Our 49th Anniversary
PUERTO VALLARTA is perhaps the best known of the three cities since it is a favorite American tourist destination. For us it marked the beginning of the Tropics, complete with warmer (did I say hot) air, very swimmable water and humidity. Several communities string along the shoreline of 20 mile by 15-mile Banderas Bay, with PV at the south and Bucerias, La Cruz and Punta Mita at the north. La Cruz has become the yachting center, with the marina most welcoming to boaters and the location we spend the most time.

While at La Cruz, we noted that quite a few other Seattle Yacht Club friends were in town. There is a tradition among SYC members that began with a green painted electrical box on our dock at Port Madison. When a number of boats had tied up, someone would announce
Green Box in Bucerias
a “Green Box”, and about 5 PM everyone would bring an hors d’oeuvre and a beverage of their choice to an afternoon hors d’oeuvre party. Well, we decided to hold a Green Box in Puerto Vallarta. Due to conflicts it overflowed to two nights. On Sunday night, seven of us met up for dinner at the No Way Jose restaurant, a favorite, offering Mexican dining specialties. At dinner were yours truly, Steve and Peggy Leonard (down from Seattle on their boat), Tom and Mary Ann Liebert (part time PV residents) and Dore Anderson (a full time PV resident and lifetime sailor). The following afternoon the actual Green Box was held at the Bucerias condo rented by Denis and Pam Thomas, joined again by us, Steve and Peggy Leonard, good friend Fred Roswold, and the Gifford family—Jamie. Behan, Niall, Siobhan, and Mairen, accompanied by their film crew. The Gifford Clan has recently completed sailing around the world and this week were being filmed by a movie company from Montreal, doing a documentary on how a family sails for ten years with three teen and pre-teen age children.

That’s about it for cities. We are sending out this blog from Bahia Chamela, a lovely, teensy fishing village with a superb beach, Next posting we will talk about quiet seaside hideaways—the main reason to visit the Pacific seashore of Mexico.

Here’s to wishing you a Nuevo Prospero Ano,

Roger, Lynne, and Salty

You can reach us at 206-755-4193 or email rdwerner47@gmail.com


Monday, December 17, 2018

A Tale of Two Characters

Graham on his way

Hiker--just before she left us
As we cruise south from San Carlos, past the islands on the inside of Baja California and on to Mazatlan, we see many of the same places as we visited last year. However, although the places remain much the same, the experiences are remarkably different, due in large part to the people and experiences met along the way. A case in point is Graham Mckenezie. We met this redoubtable Brit as we anchored up at San Telmo, about halfway between Loreto and La Paz. Here we are, feeling that our 38’ sailboat is becoming smaller by the day, and we meet Graham, solo kayaking from Loreto to La Paz. His kayak is toting a total weight of about 500 pounds and he moseys along at 3 knots—more if the wind is behind him and much less if the wind is adverse. Graham was quite happy to accept a few gallons of water and then was last seen on his way, paddling south bound to La Paz.

Thanksgiving feast!
Another character we met was on our overnight passage from Baja to Mazatlan. Right at dusk, a bird (a shearwater perhaps?) circled our boat three times and then settled on our bow pulpit. Hiker, as we called her (as in Hitch Hiker), hung on all night, even when we furled the jib when the breeze faded. Then just at first light, Hiker was off,’ perhaps sensing that land was a mere 50 miles away. For those who always wanted to see what a sunrise at sea looks like, we include a photo of just that.  Incidentally on that passage, we had one of our best crossing times, doing 163 nautical miles in 25 hours, for an average of 6.6 MPH. Yahoo!

Desert Hiking
Of course, there have been many more adventures in the past month of cruising. There have been desert hikes and taking in the considerable variety of desert flora found here. There was the Thanksgiving feast aboard Steve and Peggy Leonard’s boat, Flyer, complete with fried chicken (OK, turkey really does taste like chicken, doesn’t it?), stuffing, fruit salad and all the trimmings. Perfect beaches, warm water, sunny skies—what’s there not to like? Of course, the answer is the familiar Northwest surroundings, our neighborhood, and, especially, all of you—our friends far and wide. We will leave you on that cheery note and wish you the best for your Holidays as we look forward an adventure filled New Year.

Sunrise at Sea
Roger, Lynne, and Salty
You can reach us at 206-755-4193 or email rdwerner47@gmail.com


Friday, November 9, 2018

Boatless in Seattle




Big Sky Country
For the second time in fifty years, we spent a summer in Seattle without a boat of our own, as a result of leaving Schatzi in Mexico for the summer. Oh, yes, Roger had his Mini 12, and we caught rides on friend’s boats and we even took out a J-22 at the Club—but it really isn’t the same. There truly is something special about having your own boat near you and at the ready to go when you want. Rest assured, being Boatless in Seattle was a tragic mistake which we won’t repeat again soon.

However, we took up some of the slack by using our travel trailer for a couple trips: three weeks out to Michigan and back to see Lynne’s brother, and two weeks to make our return trip to Mexico. Along the way much of the scenery was
Carol, Jack and Charlie
magnificent, especially the Rockies and the US and Canadian Prairies. However, these trips were particularly rich in visiting with relatives and friends along the way. In Michigan, we stayed with Lynne’s brother, Jack, Carol and Charlie and later overnighted with Anne and Bob Esdale, our Maid of Honor some 49 years ago, at their home in Lansing. From there it was on up to the Upper Peninsula, where Roger reconnected with his childhood friend Lucy, who was his best friend from ages zero to six, but whom he hasn’t met in 65 years. Yes, Lucy was very surprised! From there we journeyed to Creston BC to stay with Conny Lang, our boating friend from the Caribbean and to Winthrop where we hooked up with John and Sam Owen, neighbors when we lived in Everett.

Chuck and Alice Wyman
After a few months in Seattle, it was time to head south to rejoin Schatzi at San Carlos on the Sea of Cortes. Along that path we stayed with Roger’s brother, Neil and Marianne in Alameda; sailing friends Joyce, Mark and Mary in the Bay Area; and a week with son Andy, Lorraine and Clark in Oxnard. In Scottsdale we had a lovely evening with more sailing friends Larry and Carol Hills and Denis and Pam Thomas But one of the most poignant contacts was visiting with Roger’s parents’ life time best friends, Chuck and Alice Wyman near Temecula, who are celebrating their 75th anniversary this year. Yes—you read that right—Chuck (97) and Alice (95) tied the knot 75 years ago, a milestone that less than .01% of married couples can claim. Oh, and by the way the way they are doing great—good health, still driving, still living independently, and
Clark and Roger on 8' Mischief
still adoring each other!

As we did this RV traveling, it caused me to reflect on the similarities and differences between RV’s and boats. Both are magic carpets to see other parts of this great world we inhabit. Interior construction, electrical systems, and galleys are similar. One potty dumps down, the other pumps up. Socially, the two communities have much in common, with clubs and rallies, with RV campgrounds and marinas, with boondocking and anchoring. But there are differences. There is no RV equivalent to sailing—it is much more comparable to power boating. I find it intriguing that generally boats get named, but RV’s do
On the Road in Joshua Tree NP
not. But perhaps most of all we have been boating for sixty years, but only RV’ing for three—and our passion is still very much imbued into Schatzi. Gosh, it sure feels good to be back with our boat as we look forward to another six-month cruising season aboard Schatzi seeing all that Mexico has to offer. We will continue to send you these ditties as we encounter experiences along the way of our sailing adventure that might be interesting to our friends who serendipitously cruise along with us.  Until then if you have a desire to connect back to us, please call or email us at any time. We would love to hear from you!

Roger, Lynne, and Salty
You can reach us at 206-755-4193 or email rdwerner47@gmail.com

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Mexico Musings

The Next Generation


At this point we have been on our Mexico cruise for eight months with about six of those months in Mexico.  This has given us the opportunity to see a bit of how Mexico is doing and how the Mexican people are faring, at least from the view point of the itinerant yachtie passing through. In this posting we offer to you a few observations of what we have seen on our Mexican Adventure.

Before leaving the US, we were warned by a number of people and by our ever so helpful US State Department, that security and safety is a major issue in Mexico. Well, so far, we have seen no significant issues. There is a police or military presence on occasion and these are the only people we
Alejandro--Entrepreneur and Artist
have seen armed in Mexico. Yes, there must be issues in other, primarily in major urban, areas where the drug cartels and crime happen. However, we saw much more evidence and concern with crime throughout the Caribbean and even in the US, than we have here in Mexico. One needs to be prudent, but that is just the same as it is in many, many places.

With a career in public accounting and a college major in economics, it comes as no surprise that Roger is interested in the economic situation of Mexico. In general, things appear to be better than we have encountered before and better than we expected. There is definitely an emerging middle class with a stake in the future. And at the same time there
Mexico is Music
certainly is a large impoverished lower class, as well as a rarely seen, truly 1% upper class. The minimum wage in Mexico is 84 pesos per day – about $4.50. However, we were told that the minimum wage is rarely used, as the demand for labor has pushed wages up a bit from this abysmally low amount. All the same, it makes it easy to see why there is a drive for better jobs in Mexico or in the U.S. At a conference Roger attended in Mexico City about 15 years ago, we compared notes with the host accountant on labor costs and wages. At each point the Mexican labor amount was about 10% of the U.S. labor amount, whether that be a for unskilled labor, a starting accountant’s salary, or accounting fees charged by the accounting firm. It seems today that this percentage has grown a bit, perhaps to 12 or 15% of the US amount. This is still a considerable spread, but there is progress.

Jimmy--Los Gatos Fisherman
We have had the opportunity to talk to several Mexican people about their upcoming presidential election. On July 1 Mexico will elect a new president and the entire legislative assembly. It is undoubtedly the most important election in recent times in Mexico. The two traditional parties—PRI, which led the country for 61 years, but became discredited in a fury of corruption, and PAN, which replaced PRI to a large degree but also lost favor in more corruption, are being challenged by a candidate pushed out of PAN, who then started his own political party. Andre Manuel Lopez Obredor is now the leading candidate by a significant margin over both the PRI and PAN candidates. There is concern that he may be a left leaning Chavez type of president, which has been such a disaster for Venezuela. However, the same political forces which propelled Donald Trump into office are propelling Obredor. Stay tuned to your Mexico news-- this election is a big one!

Perhaps one of the most remarkable characteristics of the Mexican people in general, is their friendliness and openness. When we approach strangers, all it seems it take it is a cheery “Buenos dias—Como esta?”. Simply say hello and ask how they are, and they seem to drop their customary shyness. Often, they will reply that they speak little or no English, to which Roger says in Spanish “Well--you do speak Spanish, don’t you?”. This results in peals of laughter on both sides and immediately we are breaking down the language barrier. We have found that Mexicans we meet to be as very helpful as they can be. In fact, they often try too hard to give you the answer that they think you might want. Of course, all of this is a pure generality and is only the result of chance encounters by a sailing couple roaming the coastline. But it still seems to us that the warmth of the Mexican people is a characteristic that does engender international friendships.
Sunset Over Baja

And so how does Mexico fare in the future? Well, one doesn’t know. Certainly, NAFTA has been very helpful for Mexico economically. There is growing middle class with a stake in economic stability and growth. However, in Mexico the past has unraveled too many times and it is difficult to peer into the future. All we can do is wish Mexico all the best. 

We are now cruising northbound with a target of catching an airplane flight home on May 23. Schatzi will be parked at a marina in San Carlos on the mainland side of the Sea of Cortes for six months while we return home. Our thought is to do another season in Mexico next winter and spring and then probably ship Schatzi back to Seattle in May, 2019. Meanwhile, we thank you for following these blogs and ask that you wish us well as we wind down our Mexico Adventure for this year.

Roger, Lynne, and Salty
You can reach us at 206-755-4193 or email rdwerner47@gmail.com