Category Archives: Uncategorized

What are we up to?

Back in October, we spent two weeks putting the boat back together and getting things ready. It was still pretty hot then and I (Patrick) was a pretty uncomfortable during the days. It always takes me some time to adjust. All of our (read Dawn’s) work prepping the boat before we left paid off. We had only a tiny bit of mold on some clothes, and that had happened before as well. But the boat itself was spotless. Having Rob from sv Katrina Liana open/close the boat and keep an eye on things for worth every penny!

When we left last season, my free surfboard was on its last legs and was about to break. I gave it to one of the kid boats for them to play with. I hear it got good use and eventually did break. It was part of the plan to get a new board here in Mexico from a local shaper. I wanted to spend my money here and I wanted my first new board to be from the place I learned to surf.

Tzahui Poo is a local surfer and owner of a family run surf rental and lessons shop in Mita called Mictlan Surf. I met with Tzahui at his home and shaping loft. We went over what I wanted and I was able to pick out the colors and put my own logo on the board! All of that for 2/3rds of what I would have paid for a new mass produced board. El Chicharo is 9’1” x 23” x 2-3/4” a basic longboard shape. Such a pleasure to ride! I dinged the board on like the 3rd day and had to send it back to Tzahui for repair. He loaned me a Bruce Jones. It didn’t have the specs on the bottom, but it was a bit narrower and less buoyant. I could ride it, but it was a struggle to catch waves. That’s more a function of my skill level right now. My board is perfect for me right now and will be a good longboard for me in the future too. I will definitely want to get some other boards though as I get better.

Anyway, since I got my new board, we’ve been up in Punta de Mita. The first week the swell was awesome with some 4-5 foot waves. PERFECT! That went away though and the past week or so, there’s been a lot of reading going on. I’ve also been watching Jacqueline Gargus’ Architecture 5110 from THE Ohio State University class on iTunes (Knowlton School of Architecture). I can tell she’s the kind of professor I would have enjoyed when I was in school. When we’re not filling our minds, we’ve been laying around on our boards looking at the fish, watching the pelicanos and terns catching fish on the reef, and cleaning the bottom of the boat.

Last year we let the bottom cleaning get away from us a bit. This year I think we need to be in the water once a week to clean up Deep Playa. There are two basic things we get on the bottom. First, a ring of slime around the waterline which is scrubbed off with a scotch bright pad. Second, barnacles. The barnacles are tiny, less than ¼” around right now. They have to be scraped off with a putty knife. It’s not hard work, you just run the knife along the hull and they pop-off. The hardest part is cleaning the entire bottom with a 3” wide blade! I’ve been thinking about making something about a foot wide out of scrap metal. I think it would be perfect.

Lots of routine, lots of relaxing, a bit of boredom. Another day in paradise. More on what’s to come next…

Back in Charleston, Oregon… Again

Patrick and I have a running joke about Coos Bay, Oregon…It is an old Native American term meaning “come here and fix shit”.   About this time last year, we sailed into Charleston’s port and across the Coos Bay bar with the intent of getting Deep Playa’s leaky fuel tank repaired as soon as possible and quickly return to our trip south to Mexico.  Well things didn’t move along as quickly as we had hoped and we spent a month here….yes, a month.  Don’t get me wrong, we tried to leave, on a few occasions.  One of our attempts to leave resulted in having Deep Playa towed by Boat US across the bar and onto Charleston’s vagrant dock after we boiled our starting battery (big ooooopsey).   So, after almost a year since leaving Charleston, we became nostalgic to return in our Land Yacht on our way to California.  And of course, as to be expected, we experienced a problem with the land yacht and had to stop in Coos Bay to fix a screeching alternator belt.

We decided to pull into Charleston’s Oceanside RV Park, located behind Bastendorff Beach, which is one of my favorite beaches in the world!  This was one of my favorite running destinations last year so coming back here is very exciting for me.  Since Pea and I both own bicycles this year, my new ride is in the pic, I am finally able to show Pea all of the cool places I visited while on my long distance running escapades.   By the way, my running legs are definitely in need of some hours of training on the bike.  The hill up Bastendorff Drive and Coos Head Road did me in and I had to push my bike up the hill.  It was pitiful.

Land Yacht Ocean View RV Park

Land Yacht parked at Oceanside RV Park in Charleston, Oregon

My new ride

My *awesome* new ride.

The beach is so close we can hear the distant eerie whistles and muffled bells of the channel buoys in the bar entrance.  Hearing these sounds brings me back to last year when we were crossing the bar on Deep Playa in pitch dark and fog without our iPad as a cockpit navigational aid.  The bells and whistles seem so much louder and recognizable then they did that night.  I am thoroughly enjoying the contrast in perspective that I am experiencing this year compared to last year.  The status of the sea state, weather, boat projects and storms have all taken a back seat this year and, man… are we waaaaaaay more relaxed.  Smile

We are enjoying the relaxed and quiet RV park today and finishing up some projects on the land yacht.  Tonight we took a long walk on the beach to watch some surfers and doggies playing in the surf.  We are missing surfing something fierce but I don’t have the urge to get into the 52.2 degree Fahrenheit water (I Googled it) and freeze my booty off.

Pea on Bastendorff

Pea walking on Bastendorff Beach

Running Surfer

Surfer running into *not* too much surf…sorry dude.  Note the full head to toe dry suit he is wearing.  COLD!!!

Rocks on Bastendorff Beach (2)

Little inlet.  Look at those beautiful colors and contrasting light and darks.  Love it.

Hardy SUPpers

This dude is not wearing anything but his board shorts!  Hardy people these Pacific Northwesterners…or just crazy.  I am wearing a sweatshirt and sweatpants while on the beach taking this pic.

It is soooo magical here and it makes my heart and soul very happy.   I <3 Oregon Coast beaches.

Getting your FM3 in Bucerias

NOTE: This post is current in June 2012.  Currently there is a Mexican tourist visa law, which has not been implemented yet, but will change the process outlined below.

Your FMM is the 6 Month Mexican Tourist Visa granted when you clear-into Mexico (or fly in). It’s good for six months and it not supposed to be renewed. However, some cruisers I know go to the airport, ask for a new visa and they are provided with one. Apparently, it depends on the person at the service counter. When we tried to do the same we were turned down and informed that it was not possible to so any longer and we would have to apply for a FM3 (non-residential visa).

We took the following steps to get our FM3 visas.

Location Location Location
When I was asking around about the location of the INM Office none of the cruisers or the bus drivers seemed to know anything about it, so I will give you detailed directions to the immigration office in Bucerias, Nayarit, Mexico.  The INM office closes at 2:00PM sharp!  Leave yourself plenty of time.
From the bus, get off the at Camarones Hotel (this is the landmark the drivers know).  It has a big arch spanning across the street.  There is an OXXO on the opposite corner.
The cross streets are Highway 200 and Las Palmas.
Once you get off the bus, walk down the hill towards the bay and the INM office is on the right hand side, there is a nice big sign and guards with machine guns to keep the Canadians under control. ;-P

Here is what you are going to do:
1) Acquire an permanent street address
2) Fill out the printed and online forms.
3) Print out three months of bank statements
4) Get your passport photos
5) Go to the INM, drop off paperwork and pay the paperwork fee at the Bank and receive receipts of payment.
6) Go to the INM to verify everything is ready, pay for FM3 at Bank and pickup FM3

That’s the summary I wish someone told me, for us, we went to the INM first to see how it all works, they explained the steps to us, then I came back with our paperwork and I had left off our middle names so we had to do it again. Then when it was all complete, we had to make an extra trip because while the person who signed Dawn’s paper work was in that day; the person who signed mine was not.

I had to come back. Not a big deal, we’re cruising we got all the time in the world! Let’s go through the detailed process without our mistakes.

Step 1 – Get an Address
You need a local address which is in the vicinity of your INM office. The easiest way to do this is to stay in the Marina La Cruz. If you’re paying customer they seem very happy to write you a letter saying you live there. We had stayed there a few days here and there and we had planned to leave the boat there over the summer. If you’re not a customer of the marina, I don’t think they will do this for you.  They will print off a letter stating your address and signed by an attorney.

Step 2 – Fill out the Printed and On-line Forms
There are printed forms you need to fill out which has information they use for statistical purposes, but it is required.
Club Cruceros in La Paz has good instructions on this here: http://www.clubcruceros.net/index.php/guides/documentation-and-visas/mexican-visa-applications.html They have an English version of the form as well. You CAN NOT turn in the English form. It is merely a guide.

There is an on-line form you fill out which is what I’ll call the official FM3 Application. In theory, you can track the status of your application from the website, This did not work for us and wound up going to the office after 3-4 weeks to check the status and they were completed.
Here is a link to the form: http://www.inm.gob.mx/index.php/page/Solicitud_de_Estancia
This image translates the fields for you.

INM_Form

Step 3 – Print your Bank Statements
You need to show you have $1500.00 USD in the bank for the past three months per person ($3000 total for 2). You can use paper statements or you can print out your statements from your bank and use those. If you are submitting the same bank account for a husband and wife BOTH your names need to be on the statement. If one of you doesn’t have an account with enough money in it then there is more work to do. I don’t know what it is. Contact an agent to help you (see bottom). I also don’t know anything about Mexico’s views on gay marriage, but I guess they just want to see the right names and the right amount of money.

Step 4 – Get your Passport Photos
Get all of your paperwork together and go to the INM office in Bucerias. If there is not a person with a sign for passport photos standing outside the INM, walk back up the hill and about half-way up the street you will see a sign for FM3 Photos. We paid $300.00 MXN for our photos. This takes about 30 minutes.

Step 5 – Goto the INM to drop off your paperwork and pay the processing fee
When you go to the INM, a nice man with a large automatic weapon will ask you to sign-in (your ID # is your passport #) and will give you a number. You can wait inside if there are chairs or outside, or if you are number 73 and they are 10 you can go get lunch. I would bring a book and I would be prepared to spend 2-3 hours here waiting.  I would recommend not going on Mondays.

When your number is called they will check that everything is filled out OK, you have all the right papers, etc.. Then they will hand you a form to take to the bank to pay the processing fee. This fee is just for paperwork. Its not the FM3 fee. They will also tell you to bring back 2 copies of the receipt along with the original. The Bank will not print these for you. You need to get a copy.

There is a bank on the corner of La Palmas and Highway 200 (at top of the hill) to the right, next to the OXXO.
You can get copies at the Internet Cafes across the street on the same corner. Copies are like $1 Peso!

– WAIT –
We were told to come back in 2 weeks. We waited three. Then we went back only Dawn’s was ready. This is their country, be patient and don’t be a jerk!

Step 6 – Go to INM to Pickup FM3 and Pay FM3 Fee
When you go to INM you do the same sign-in get a number thing.
Assuming everything is ready they will send you off to the bank to pay the FM3 Visa Fee. You will again need 2 copies of this as well as the original.
They will have you sign your FM3, supply both thumbprints. You’ll sit back down while they laminate your FM3.
When they are done they will hand you a shiny new laminated FM3 !

If you are not up for that, in every town there are agents who will fill out the paperwork and stand in the line for you. The fee for this service is around $1000 Pesos. Ask around on the VHF Nets if you want an agent.

Cleaning the Hull

It is a never ending battle to keep the boat bottom clean. In fact, I think it’s impossible, but we try. You get three kinds of growth. The sea cabbage grows all over the bottom. Its is leafy it is easy to remove by running a wide blade putty knife along the hull. There is a slimy but that seems to prefer the sunny side of the hull along the water line. It only comes off with a fairly aggressive (black) 3M \ Scotchbrite pad. And lastly there are the barnacles. They grow very sparsely along the hull and cluster on anything which is metal and thus not bottom painted, as well as LOVE the overhanging stern section which is always bouncing in and out of the water. On the hull they pop off with the putty knife. On the waterline and metals bits you really have to hack at them to get them off which uses considerable oxygen\energy.

We had been able to keep up with the waterline and the bottom fairly well by snorkeling. The stern is always a bit of a mess though, and the brand new paint on the waterline stripe is now scratched up badly.

The metal bits (deeper in the water) are just too hard to do via snorkel. I can’t hold my breath long enough and without a weight belt, you spend most of your time trying to keep from floating against the boat. Today we borrowed a dive hookah and weight belt from another boat, and man was it awesome. I spent about a half hour in the water and was able to hack all of the barnacles off the prop, shaft and gudgeon. Maybe that 1.5kts of boat speed we were missing will come back!

We use Petite’s Barnacle ban on our metal bits (prop, shaft, gudgeon). It seems to ban nothing, but when I did scrape them clean the grey paint was still there where it didn’t get scrapped off, so I think its doing ok.

Our boat sits perfectly on its waterline in calm water at the dock. But there is RARELY calm water at anchor. This is why people raise their waterlines. Not because they’ve overloaded the boat, but because at anchor your boat is always bouncing around and at all times 4-6 inches of your waterline are bouncing in and out the water. Filter feeders like Barnacles LOVE this! When we redo the bottom paint this next year I am going to look into raising the water line and I’m going to paint the stern overhang completely in bottom paint.

Zincs at Shilshole Bay Marina were replaced every six months. We haven’t been in Marinas much at all since November and the zincs are about 1/2 gone at 9 months. We’ll have the divers replace them when they clean the boat while we’re gone.

After today’s experience I can really see the benefit of a dive hookah. You could even use it for snorkeling in general. Unfortunately, retail dive hookahs cost $2000 to $5000 depending on the make and model. Not something that is in my budget right now, but it is possible to build your own for less than $500 and I think I’m going to start looking into that.

Toe injury #748

20120305-101103.jpg

This toe is a gluten for punishment. No sooner had the last injury from licking the port light healed when I kicked the door. Luckily I had slippers on and only suffered this ugly blood blister.

It’s all fun and games till someone loses a toe!