“If the waves are good for surfing the anchorage is terrible for sleeping.”

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Finished floors

Posted on Thursday Sep 13, 2007

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Words (54)

After many years, we finally had the chance to refinish our floors. It's one of those jobs you just can't do while living on the boat, especially with cats jumping all over the place.

I'm really disappointed in the results; you really can't see a difference at all between the "Before" and "After" photos....

IVY ROSE on the beach

Posted on Wednesday Sep 12, 2007

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An aging and neglected 38 foot Alajuela has been moored in San Juan del Sur for several years. At one time it was probably a beautiful boat, but lacking attention for a few years it quickly deteriorated. The owner paid someone to watch the boat nightly and it was cleaned once in a while, but on 4th of this month everything changed.

In broad daylight the mooring chain parted and Ivy Rose broke free. Dragging the mooring chain along, Ivy Rose began a slow drift towards the beach and the pounding surf. This short trip lasted about 20 to 30 minutes but the struggle to save the boat would go on for days. Our friend and boat guardian, Juan, saw the boat drifting and ran to inform the Port Captain. He just shrugged and said it?¢â??¬â??¢s not his responsibility. When I asked him later why nothing was done he just rubbed his fingers together in a universal gesture for ?¢â??¬???pay me.?¢â??¬ Juan also asked the Navy to do something and they just said it wasn?¢â??¬â??¢t their responsibility either. Many people who could have done something, didn?¢â??¬â??¢t. And Ivy Rose slowly flung her aging body into the surf.

When the boat reached the surf it was quickly pushed up on to the beach as large waves broke over the decks. At this point another cruiser arrived on the scene along with several locals and they began putting together a plan to pull the boat off the beach. Unfortunately a very drunk expat arrived on the scene claiming to be a friend of the owner (who was still 2 hours away by car) and tried to take over. He paid some guys in a panga to pull the boat using their little 40 horse power engine. About this time I heard about the boat and showed up to witness this panga pulling and Jim (the other cruiser) and the owner?¢â??¬â??¢s brother-in law on the boat trying to arrange the tow lines. It was quite clear that they were underpowered and needed more pulling power before the tide started to drop.

Locals were volunteering their help, including ropes and a larger boat, but this guys ?¢â??¬???friend?¢â??¬ refused anyone and even told a smaller boat to go away. Needless to say their efforts failed and many of the locals were pissed because the gringos wouldn?¢â??¬â??¢t listen to them. Unfortunately they couldn?¢â??¬â??¢t understand the English well enough to see that the gringos were pissed at the drunk guy who had taken control of the scene. We can only assume that he was trying to salvage the boat for himself because it turned out the owners couldn?¢â??¬â??¢t remember ever knowing this guy.

Surprisingly the boat survived the pounding, loosing the dinghy, the dodger and other things on the deck. There was a big hole in the deck from where a stove pipe used to be, along with a few other leaks that couldn?¢â??¬â??¢t hold back the tons of sea water being dumped on the decks every 40 seconds. Laden with water there was no way to get it off the beach. So a team of volunteers, including ourselves, set to emptying the boat of water and removing everything that didn?¢â??¬â??¢t float. We scrambled for hours. The owner rented a gas pump and they set to work emptying the boat while we tried to remove gear and garbage. Once the boat was clear of water there was very little time to locate the leaks and try to fix them.

High tide was in the dark, and of course it was raining. But the owner got a bigger boat (the guy who tried to help in the first night but was chased off by the greedy gringo). This boat hooked up and began pulling. They managed to get the stern pointed back towards the waves and the boat started to float up off the beach, however the constant waves managed to fill the boat and it was soon wallowing and impossible to move. The little wooden tug boat pulled and pulled for hours, but the boat was too heavy. So it was left again to suffer another night in the surf.

By this time I figured the boat was lost. There was no way it would survive grinding sand and pounding waves for three days. But when I went back down there at the next low tide, I was shocked to find that a group of nicas had completely emptied the boat of water already using just buckets. The same group of people were there helping to the boat ready for another pounding. Our goal this time was to make the boat water tight. Someone had found foam, plywood, screws and nails. I set to work fabricating covers and gaskets with foam for the blown out instruments and ripped out winches. I couldn?¢â??¬â??¢t believe how tough this boat was and I along with others became driven to save it. The boat was so strong that it broke 3 drill bits, it bent just about every nail I tried to pound into it and it withstood the intense pounding that the ocean was giving it. It was incredible. Imagine not being able to pound a nail into the fiberglass; this boat was solid.

With literally minutes to spare I made covers for some the holes and we sealed up the boat, jumped off and kept our fingers crossed it would stay dry until high tide. After three days of heavy work, I really wanted to get back to working on our boat and I didn?¢â??¬â??¢t hold out much hope the little tug would have enough power to drag the boat off the beach since it had worked it?¢â??¬â??¢s way further on shore each day.

We were just getting ready to do some varnishing on our boat when we noticed the tug seemed to be moving Ivy Rose slightly. At first it seemed impossible, so we stared and stared. Then it seemed to move again. The waves were crashing over the boat and the boat started to ride them ?¢â??¬â?? the patches were holding! Bit by bit the little tug pulled the sailboat through the raging surf with two very crazy Nicas clinging to the mast. White water and spray completely buried the boat and I thought those patches weren?¢â??¬â??¢t going hold.

Damn if that tug didn?¢â??¬â??¢t do it. The tug drug Ivy Rose out of the surf and into open water! We cheered from our boat and rushed down to the docks to try to get a ride out to the boat to help bail. In no time I had the 10 inches or so of water out of the boat with a 5 gallon bucket. A pump was brought down to empty the water out of the bilges and now the boat is back out at anchor waiting for space in the boat yard. I still can't get over how tough that boat was, it became something we had to try to save and we did it!

Hurricane Felix

Posted on Tuesday Sep 4, 2007

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We’re in the SW corner of Nicaragua and sometimes hurricanes cross over from the Carribean and come to the pacific side as a storm.  Hurricane Felix hit the NE corner of Nicaragua as a Category 5 (nastiest of the bunch -- imagine a 160 mph breeze) and is heading across the country into Honduras.  Since that area remembers Hurricane Mitch from 10 years ago which killed over 11,000 people, they didn’t waste any time in trying to get people out of the way.


So far no fatalities have been reported, but they are just now starting to get soaked with rain.  And they are going to get a lot of rain.  Hopefully luck will hold out for Nicaragua and Honduras.


I don’t think we’ll see much here in San Juan del Sur, maybe a rain band or two but that’s par for the course this time of year anyway.

More destruction and stuff

Posted on Wednesday Aug 8, 2007

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Words (235)

Well, I took the rudder off the boat along with the assocated parts. Then I took my $250 worth of new metal to make some nice new pins to the house. When I sat down with the parts I found out to my horror the new metal is the wrong size. So now I can't lathe a larger pin. There's no way to get this metal down here, so I've been waylaid again.

On the plus side, we took a 8 hour bus trip to Puntarenas, Costa Rica for a mad search for more boat supplies and Science Diet cat food. Luck was finally with me as the little hotel we picked out from the guidebook was not more than 2 blocks from everything we needed to buy. And we found just about everything I've been searching for! We came back into Nicaragua with 40 pounds of cat food and about 50 pounds of boat crap.

So the slow yard work continues. I've fiberglassed the bow fitting back in and gel-coated it. Now I just need to repair the outside, and decide what to do about the rudder. Of course there are tons of other things that need to be done and only about 2 more months to do it!

One thing that's cool about the yard is there are lots of geckos who hang out and eat the bugs on our boat. Now we have our own personal bug repellants.

Busy Life in San Juan del Sur

Posted on Friday Jul 20, 2007

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While we're adjusting to live in our little rented house (with the white bars in front)
Other animals are adjusting to us being here. We've had land-crabs wander in, other cats, geckos, monster sized moths, huge spiders and even a chicken came to see us. Somethings haven't changed much, the cats still sleep a lot (when they're not chasing crabs, cats, geckos, moths, spiders or chickens).
I've been struggling to find the parts and supplies I need to work on the boat and I'm starting go a little batty. At least the slow paced life here won't stress us out. The traffic in front of our house can be a little slow, but it moseys on by....

New cat tricks

Posted on Friday Jul 13, 2007

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Words (65)

Jordan has been enjoying living in a house. She's found having water pressure means she can drink directly from the sink -- great, right?

She's also been busy killing the local wildlife:

Mouse - 0, Cat - 1
Cockroaches - 0, Cat - 20+
Gecko - 0, Cat - 1
Parrot - 0, Cat - 1

All that death, sigh. And we've been keeping the little monster locked up inside at night too!

Boat work or boat destruction?

Posted on Friday Jul 13, 2007

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Words (265)

When we hauled the boat out, there was signs that some water was getting into a fitting on the bow where water shouldn't be getting in. Being the ever paranoid freak that I am, I decided to rip out the fitting and see what is going on inside. Because if this thing failed, the mast could fall.
Unfortunately that meant grinding out itchy fiberglass in the bow of the boat where our bed and clothes are stored. So we had to clear everything out (see the piles of stuff on the sides) and tape up a plastic barrier to contain the itchy dust.
Then inside the bow, I created a second plastic barrier to block the dust and direct it out of the boat.

After a full days worth of preparation and about 60 minutes with a grinder the piece was ground out and free from the hull. The fitting was pretty rusty but still solid. There was some slight pitting in the metal that is the beginning of bad news, so rather than risk it, we bought some metal in Managua and found a great machine shop to fabricate a replacement.
You can see the open slot in the hull where the fitting goes through. Over the last 30 years the bedding compound had failed and let water in. So now it will be new, well sealed and I'll fiberglass it in strong! Better than new. But this three week long project wasn't on the original plan and I've still got many other big things to take care of...oh well that's life in the yard.

Suffer the kidney

Posted on Sunday Jun 24, 2007

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After getting a second opinion on the stone and having more tests, I went into surgery the next day to have it removed via an endoscopy technique because the stone looked too big to pass. The surgeon removed the stone successfully and installed a stint that runs from my kidney into the bladder. Surprisingly after the surgery my kidney no longer hurt. I can only hope this is the last time I ever have to deal with this again.

Other than dealing with my kidney we haven't done much. Hopefully when I'm feeling better we can get back to our lives and get some things done! Who would have thought cruising would mean learning so many technical medical words in a foreign language?

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Thinking the unthinkable

Posted on Thursday Jun 7, 2007

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The weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed, if not for two big cranes, Sherrell and Eric's sanity would be lost.

There's a little yard here in San Juan del Sur and when we went through all the issues we've been facing: kidney stone, boat work, unseasonably bad weather, etc. We decided that hauling the boat out of the water was not a bad idea. In fact two days after hauling it out I had another pain attack from my stupid kidney. I don't know why kidneys can totally disable you with pain, but it's impressive.

Anyway, this yard is unlike any place we've been. We had to make our own stands, there's no power or water and we pay Juan to sleep on it to keep an eye on everything during the night.

Not to be outdone, Ocean Lady decided to set a new record for the yard and have them haul their 50 foot boat, the biggest they've hauled. The swell prevented us from hauling them for a few days, and the basin filled in with sand. So to get their boat to the crane we had to use their dinghy and a large panga to push them through the sand to the wall. Once at the wall, we led the straps around the boat, pulled the rigging out of the way, cleared the rails, and tied the bands together so they wouldn't slip. We had to really hustle to get things ready before the tide dropped too much and tilted the boat too far to be picked up.

Naturally the cranes had a tough time rotating Ocean Lady because of the two masts. As the boat was rotated it also heeled over about 20 degrees to starboard. After about an hour of struggling with the cranes, lines and even a forklift we got Ocean Lady righted and into position.

We've really settled in quickly, as we've rented a little house with Ocean Lady and we're getting ready to get to work on the boat while the bad weather rains down.

We cheated death again

Posted on Tuesday May 29, 2007

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Words (514)

As you can see by the photo (if I'm able to post it) the anchorage here has been extremely rough. We've had southwest winds for days and about a 6-9 foot swell. The photo is 50' Ocean Lady, at anchor next to us. There is a large swell event predicted to occur in a few days so this morning we decided to move to deeper water. That's when everything went wrong.

First I took the pressure off the snubber line (a 20 foot piece of line that takes the shock loads off of the anchor chain) and tried to untie it. But the rope had slightly unraveled and was impossible to undo, so I had to cut off about a foot of my line. Then I raised the anchor to find a large chunk of discarded fishing net entangled in the chain near the anchor. While I'm struggling to get this off, Sherrell is trying to drive away from the pounding surf and into the deeper part of the bay. I noticed she was having some difficultly in maneuvering the boat when she screamed for help, because the boat isn't responding.

I dumped the anchor and chain back out along with the mess of net and raced back. I grabbed the gear shift and felt the transmission engage, but when I floored it there was little response. Looking over the side I could see the prop spinning and pushing water, but we had no steerage. While messing with it, the transmission cable came loose, which I quickly fixed, and when we tried flooring the engine again there was some black carbon in the exhaust water (which Sherrell thought was oil) that caused more panic.

Luckily our anchor caught and held us from getting swept into the breaking waves about 500 feet behind us. I grabbed my mask and fins and dove into the water to see what was happening with the prop. There was a solid covering of barnacles that had grown in the past 10 days that was destroying the hydrodynamics of the prop. While I frantically scrapped the prop (in heavy waves this is difficult and I cut up my hands on the sharp barnacles), Ocean Lady was getting ready to come over to assist us. In record time I scraped it clean, and soon we discovered we could steer the boat.

While Sherrell motored us away from the beach to deeper water I hung upside-down off the bow sprit (getting dunked underwater occasionally) and tried to hack my way through the net that was on the anchor. It took a huge effort with my bloody hands and I was covered in nasty goo that was in the net. Finally I got the net off the anchor and on deck. Exhausted, I rested for a few minutes while Sherrell motored back into the bay so we could anchor again.

Now we are safely anchored in deeper water in case the large swells show up in the next couple of days. But we're both shaken.

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