S/Y Nereida sails around the world

Solo RTW Sailor Jeanne Socrates' Adventures On, and Off, Nereida

March /April update from 'Nereida' in Mexico
Reid Inlet, Alaska05
2nd May 2015 - Fiesta time in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle!
To San Sebastian (28th February - 2nd March)....
La Cruz de Huanacaxtle is a friendly place and the marina has many helpful cruisers so it's been a good place to get work done.   Some boats were being prepared to sail to Polynesia when the weather was right for that (not until well into April, as it turned out) but it was great to take a break from boatwork and take advantage of a brief trip to San Sebastian organised by Philo of Philo's Bar in company with his own band and a lively Latin group - Luna Rumba.  It was my first time inland in Mexico since a trip to the Mayan remains at Chichenitza from the east coast (the Yucatan) in 2004  and I was impressed by the mountainous terrain we passed over, with its impenetrable jungle in many places.  San Sebastian is a small village high up in the mountains of the Mexican Sierra Madre.

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We stopped off at a Tequileria and had a good time tasting a variety of tequilas, liqueurs and mezcal.  Tequila is made from the roasted crowns of blue agave in the state of Jalisco and the mezcal is made from yellow agave - to my mind, even the best was not as good as the 'anejo' (aged) tequila.
San Sebastian has an amazing variety of fruit and vegetables with lots of citrus trees, many of which were used to give shade in an interesting 'low-tech' coffee plantation.
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  In addition, there were the tropical fruits and vegetables one expects here, along with a  colourful collection of flowers.  Being so high up, it has no lack of water.
My friends, Stuart and Karen, and I were in an old house just outside the village which originally had a silver mine close by and we had a lovely walk into the village, which grew up here because of the silver mining.
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The evening was spent as a group in the courtyard of an old hotel off the town square.  We had a barbecue and enjoyed plenty of good music.  It was also nice to get dancing, something I've been missing!  There was a working silversmith in the village with three men busily making silver jewellery, often using the many semi-precious stones found in the area.  The workmanship was good and the prices low.
Mid-March ... to London for Hanson Lecture ....
- to give the annual Cruising Association's Hanson Lecture in Limehouse Basin, just off the Thames in East London's docklands area.  That was a very enjoyable evening in company with a friendly group of fellow-sailors.
England was basking in warm air, with blue skies a lot of the time I was there, and spring flowers were out in force.  It was a lovely time to be driving around the countryside and a trip down to Devon, with its steep-sided twisting country lanes with banks full of wild primroses and occasional cowslips and violets, was a real pleasure.
Mid-April - To Visalia, in  California...
... for the annual International 'DX' (long-range radio) Convention, where I spoke about my circumnavigations and my use of radio to over 550 diners after the final Saturday evening Banquet.  I had met up with several 'hams' at the Convention who had contacted me via HF radio on my way around - always a pleasure to meet up with the person behind the voice!   It was also good to renew acquaintance with people I already knew and very interesting to look at the many exhibits and chat to the people  making the equipment.
I'd spotted that the venue was close to Yosemite, a National Park I had often heard talked about in glowing terms, so I made a big effort to get there.  It was sad to see so many road-side mature trees dead or dying on my way there - the result of the present drought in California  I spent an exhilirating day, first driving to Glacier Point for an overview of Yosemite Valley with its dramatiic high peaks and waterfalls and then hiking high up in the Valley.  What an amazing area!    A well worthwhile visit, despite the resulting long next day's drive down to Phoenix to catch a flight early the following morning to Mexico.  I came eye-to-eye with a coyote early in the morning and then with a small woodpecker I crept up on later that afternoon - it was making good use of one of the many dead but still standing trees in the forest above Mirror Pool.
24/25 April 2015 - To a Mariachi Festival...
No sooner had I landed in Mexico than I was leaving heavy luggage with friends and then taking the overnight bus to Queretaro where I was met by friend Kyle ....  The annual Mariachi Festival in his village of Mineral de Pozos had been (unfortunately for me!) moved to late April.... but it sounded too enjoyable to miss.   His village is surrounded by many, often dangerously-unfenced, mineshafts and related buildings, mostly dating from the 1800s, with some from before .   Mining was mainly for silver but several other metals were also brought up.   We spent a fascinating few hours driving around and walking in the area - keeping an eye out for edges of open-cast mines and mineshafts hidden by undergrowth.  (A 5-yr-old boy was killed recently falling down one - they are amazingly deep and a rescue team had trouble getting his body out)
On my first morning, I was delighted to come across a young Mariachi group practising in a beautiful old house for the evening Show.  It turned out they were all around 19-20 yrs old and had come in from Chula Vista.   They played impressively well, having been coached by a US guy, Mark, originally from a farming village near Seattle!!   His father's work had taken him to Guadalajara (where Mariachi music was born) at 13 yrs old and he had fallen in love with Mariachi music and effectively dedicated his life to it.
The Mariachi groups all played extremely well and with typical lively enthusiasm but a cold wind, that we were certainly not  dressed for, got up during the evening to test our stamina.... We were better prepared the following night!   The parents of one of the young group, who were sitting in front of us, were bursting with pride at their son's performance... tearful, in fact.
They were thrilled to hear I'd videoed their son's group practising and I promised to let them have a copy of both that and the evening performance, although the evening recordings were nothing like as good as the daytime one.  I was interested to see that all the groups generally comprised half violinists, with 2-3 guitar players (the bass guitar was always prominent, with a resonant beat), often a small harp, 2-3 trumpet players and at least 1-3 very good solo singers, with the whole group often joining in the singing....   with occasional group moving to the beat, of course - typically Mexican!
A two-hour drive was followed by a tour around the lovely old city of San Miguel de Allende (the birth-place of Mexican Independence from Spain!):


A tasty Mexican meal prepared especially by Kyle's friend, was followed by the overnight bus-ride back to the coast.   The buses are so well used in Mexico that the long-distance ones are very comfortable with good facilities, so I had a reasonable sleep both ways, helped by an empty seat beside me each time.   The route looked very convoluted on the map as a consequence of the rugged mountains of the Sierra Madre inland, nudging right up to the coast.   The two-lane, often bumpy, road certainly had frequent steep drop-offs at its edge outside towns and villages - best not to look too often as we swung around the bends at speed...

A week later, I took a day tour around Puerto Vallarta - I'd not walked around there since 2005!  The older church just outside the present town had a quite different exterior to the church nearer the sea-front, topped by its crown - both had lovely, light, airy interiors:
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Work goes on.....
As I write this on board 'Nereida', I can clearly hear the music from the town square of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle - in fiesta all week long with crackers going off every day at dawn and dusk to annouce the festivities and a man carying a bull's head on his shoulders adorned with fire crackers and Catherine wheels he let off at frequent intervals charging around the town square, making people scatter, during a pause in the events.
Yesterday, the 2015 Queen was crowned and the music and dancing afterwards lasted until around 4am...    I joined in the dancing for a bit and got to bed rather late, well before they finished.   A 'Mexicubana' band, it was very popular (half Cubans, half Mexicans) and it was amazing to see how some couples moved and turned energetically at speed together to what was basically a 'pasa doble' rythm.
The good news after today's work was getting my VHF working properly again (repaired unit was brought back from UK with me), after a slight problem with connecting it all up correctly.  I think I've finished (for now!) with the instrumentation side of things - generator control panel has also been replaced, satphone GPS input located, after a search, and connected to system - which is now working (although not being made use of just now) - and plotter has been put back into position after being removed for access.
My windsteering system now has all new bushings and bearings - all the plastic parts had got very worn and there was a lot of play in the system.  Many thanks to Robert of 'Tillicum' for a lot of help in dealing with that for me and also to Sarah Curry for prompt mailing of certain parts, with others being well fabricated locally.
Plan is to leave here late next week for Mazatlan before heading further north, so my next big job is to check over the sailing side of things - sheets, running rigging all need sorting out  and deck gear (blocks, winches etc) need to be cleaned and lubricated before I sail away.
I'll post this text shortly but the many photos I'd have liked to post with it might take a time - Internet here is, to put it politely, very slow and unreliable!

London Boat Show/back to San Carlos/Sail sth to La Cruz in Banderas Bay
Reid Inlet, Alaska05
Sunday 8th February 2015

A good visit to London for the Boat Show - gave two well-attended presentations on my sailing and saw several people about technical problems - very helpful outcomes. Was nice to meet up unexpectedly with good friends visiting the Show ... and it was fun to 'try out' a Honda race bike -  sponsored by the new sponsors of the London and Southampton Boat Shows, CWMfx.

Back to Phoenix from LHR and then a drive on to Ajo with friends Ed and Charlene to get some sleep before crossing border into Mexico... Up with the sun, hoping to arrive San Carlos mid-afternoon, but Mexican Customs wanted to charge an inflated amount of tax for their replacement ship's motor so we returned to Ajo to leave the motor behind and retraced our route through Arizona's fascinating 'Organ Pipe Cactus' National Park to the border and beyond, arriving well after dark. We were just in time to get fresh provisions at Santa Rosa's and then a meal at "L'Esquina" before making for the marina to get ready for leaving at High Water, soon after midnight.

It was essential to leave by 2 a.m., to be sure of getting out safely with Nereida's 7ft draft, but there was a distinct lack of lit channel markers out from the marina entrance through Bahia San Carlos and the night was pitch dark with overcast skies, so it was nice to have Charlene's extra pair of eyes to keep a look out ... Even so, we only just missed some new, unlit pilings where an extension to the present docks is being built out into the Bahia. It was a relief finally to make clear water, having avoided both the shallows to starboard and some dark islands and rocks to port on our way out... There was no wind so we were motoring and once further out into the Sea of Cortez (a.k.a. Gulf of California) there was a distinctly uncomfortable short swell which frequently made us roll about over the next two windless days.

Charlene was keeping me company for the 4-5 day sail down the Sea of Cortez (a.k.a. Gulf of California) which meant we could keep a good watch overnight for the expected fishing boats and ferries en route. In the event, almost none were seen but it was a nice trip down, with lovely clear starry skies at night and the seas slowly lessening as we got further south. We got very excited on seeing a pair of whales close by and lots of dolphins and seabirds another time. This area is well-known for its marine life.

The tides had quite an effect on our speed which ranged from 4.7kt to 6.3kt. Up in the far N of the Sea of Cortez, the tidal range is 20ft or so, with currents of up to 11 kt in some inter-island passages, but as we headed further S the tidal effect lessened. On the last day, some wind arrived as we approached the islands of 'Las Marias'. so we finally had a nice peaceful sail into the night, with a beautiful sunrise over Banderas Bay as we got close to the small rocky Marietta islands in the entrance.

We made La Cruz de Juanacaxtle, in Banderas Bay early on 28th January and soon met up with Canadian friends Maggie and Tom, who had flown in to Puerto Vallarta the day before to cruise with me on 'Nereida' for a time. It's been a very nice change to have company on board! Being boat-owners themselves, Tom and Maggie have helped me with several boat jobs, one being replacement of the corroded antenna lead to my backstay in an effort to resolve an urgent on-going problem: the HF/SSB radio has totally lost transmission power. A ham friend, has kindly sent me a Watt meter to instal in the system and Dan of 'Dazzler' came over with a long coax lead to test the connection directly between my radio and the tuner - the radio transmission was booming out...! Conclusion? ...Corrosion in one or more of my coax connector(s) - today I'm taking apart and testing all of them to see which need replacing!!

With Maggie and Tom, we sailed over to Yelapa on the opposite side of Banderas Bay from La Cruz... What a delightful village! It has only had electricity for two years now and its steep, cobbled, narrow, winding streets cannot take any cars. Not surprisingly, there's a lot of building work going on by N. Americans, renovating dilapidated old village houses to use over the winter period when it's cold and icy back north where they live! We walked up to where a high waterfall tumbles over a steep cliff into a pool, surrounded by high trees on the edge of the village - a beautiful green spot.

The busy coast road passes quite a distance away, at the end of a steep path, so the main approach is by sea. Lots of tourist 'pangas' bring people for the day from elsewhere in Banderas Bay to enjoy a long sandy beach opposite the village at the river entrance in the bay. We picked up a mooring buoy in 50m/160ft depth of water close inshore - anchoring here is difficult with the sea-bed dropping away so steeply and small fishing boats moored in the small area of shallower water close to the main village. The weather was fairly calm but the small bay in which the village lies is open to big swells when the wind gets up. We had an enjoyable two nights there and I vowed I'd come back soon. On the way back to La Cruz, we clearly saw several pairs of whales (a couple breached) and dolphins and a turtle, in addition to the usual frigate birds, boobies, gulls and pelicans.

Now I'm alone again, it's back to boatwork in the daytime - but there's plenty of good live music of an evening here in La Cruz, several good places to eat and friends around to enjoy it with. The weather is mostly dry and sunny, with just the occasional heavy rainstorm - as we had early last week... but they're rare. So I'm looking forward to a nice mix of work and play over the next few weeks here.

Season's Greetings - from 'Nereida' afloat in San Carlos!!
Reid Inlet, Alaska05

20th December 2014 - 'Nereida' happily afloat... Happy New Year!

Seasons greetings Nereida lit up - showing new hard top

Sending you the warmest of Season's Greetings and wishing you all a very Happy and Healthy New Year 2015...  from 'Nereida' decorated with a string of coloured LEDs...

It's great to be afloat at last, even though it's in a marina, still with lots to do...   There's a problem here for deeper-draught boats and 8th December was the last possible date for 'Nereida' to be launched for quite a time.  So it was vital to be 'splashed' now, in order to be able to go sailing at all over the coming months.

Photos of the short road trip: leaving Marina Seca, onto the main road close by, down to the marina ramp - all being pushed 'backwards', ahead of the tractor driven by Jose-Maria...:

m2 3.Leaving Marina Seca

4.Onto the main road by Marina Seca

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m7 Afloat ..... at last!! m8

To celebrate, I invited yardworkers Jorge, Pepe and Edgar and their families to join me on board 'Nereida' the following Saturday afternoon with the idea of taking them all out for a sail after a good lunch. (They've never been out on a sailing vessel, despite all their years of working on boats in the yard...)  I had a lot of work to do, clearing things away and tidying up to make room for twelve people eating down below and in the cockpit! (Photos show chaos in the main cabin and in the cockpit when we were about to leave the yard - made worse by having had to retrieve lots of gear from a storage locker...  I'm busy now working through everything on board, hoping to reduce the excess and make space for visitors!)

mChaos in main cabin mCockpit chaos while on the hard

I had a nasty shock when hoisting the staysail and finding I'd managed to crease the luff in the track on the foil... It proved impossible to budge it up or down, so I folded/furled it up as best I could, leaving the halyard slack, and then got help from my willing neighbours to hoist the genoa in the hope of using it during the Saturday outing...  (A few days later, a cheerful local rigger, Carlos, came to help me - and pulled the staysail down with very little effort - a big relief!!)

The usual scenario in the afternoons is for a N wind to pipe up strongly here, usually after a flat calm overnight and during the mornings, and I suspect my visitors were slightly worried about the possibility of the wind making 'rough' seas and causing seasickness - I later heard that Pepe had asked someone for pills, just in case!   I switched on the instruments in preparation for leaving the dock - and saw very little depth of water ... I'd totally forgotten about the shallow water in the marina and that LW was in the afternoon!  I checked with a knowledgeable neighbour - sure enough, the word was not to even think about leaving ...  I'd be sure to go aground in the marina entrance - either on the sand bar there or on an unmarked rock close by to its S....  (Friends Ben and Lucie, in 'Georgia'went aground on that same sand bar twice a week or so ago... despite their relatively shallow draught!!)   ... So my planned outing didn't happen - but we enjoyed the afternoon on board, despite that.

As is so often true, I've found people here to be really friendly and helpful...  Garth (originally from USA but with Mexican family across the Sea of Cortez in Mulege) has been very supportive - got my outboard properly serviced by Umberto, gave me some 'magic liquid' he guaranteed would unstick a well-stuck-down turning block on deck, sent rigger Carlos over to me to help with the jammed staysail, and also made sure mechanic Alejandro came to undo the seawater cooling pipe leading to the heat exchanger, where I knew I had bits of impellor stuck - ready to cause me a problem at some point, when running the engine...   I was amazed to see just how many broken bits of impellor flanges were there when Alejandro finally got to my engine yesterday (having been to the wrong marina at least twice over the week!) ... LOTS more than just the one impellor that had broken while battery-charging in the Southern Ocean last year...!:

20141219 100040 20141219 100238 - gasket needs replacing Of course,the gasket needed changing but I have no spare - a tube of liquid gasket proved useful until I get another...  Alejandro reminded me I should have a spare injector or two, also...  And a small filter placed in the seawater pipe would be useful for easily extracting future impellor bits...

I've been working hard at improving my Spanish recently - of necessity, since many locals have little or no English.  It's satisfying to be able to communicate better with them.

With Christmas and the New Year so close, there's been a lot of movement in and out of the area & several friends on boats have left recently, but fortunately a few others will remain.  In particular, Ed and Charlene will be here - we're hoping to go out for a sail on 'Nereida' over Christmas Day - that would be great!  Ed spent quite a time with me today, looking over some problems on board with a view to helping me, which is greatly appreciated.  He'll be back tomorrow with tools.

The Internet here is awful - often impossible to make a good connection, so I tried to get my Bullet antenna working, to a wi-fi router...  Gustavo came by - and proved to be very helpful.  He got it working at one point, using a spare data cable I bought recently, but it's misbehaving again and needs more work.

My Christmas (and New Year) present to myself will be to get 'Nereida' better organised and sorted out!!  Despacio, despacio ...!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!  Feliz Navidad y Buen Ano Nuevo!!

San Carlos Report - 5th Nov 2014
Reid Inlet, Alaska05

Back to work on board 'Nereida'

Spoke in Phoenix at the monthly Arizona Yacht Club meeting on Tuesday 14th October, before heading on down to San Carlos. A great audience at my talk …. and a fun time the Sunday beforehand, sailing a Laser on Tempe Lake, in bright sunshine. Strong gusts capsized me twice - but water was fresh and warm, so swim was quite pleasant... Safety boat came to my rescue - I was just not heavy enough to get boat up again each time, despite all my efforts heaving on the end of the centre board!

Busy again now in Marina Seca, San Carlos - trying to get into 'Mex mode' to avoid stressing myself out over time taken to get nowhere...  But my bow thruster streamlining ‘project’ has been nicely smoothed and finished off by Pepe and Adriano. (No - I didn’t want one, but since it’s there, might as well prevent loss of speed the tunnel must have been causing)

Had help to instal replacement steering bearings and cables (with new greasers) and (replacement) new wind generator - wiring needs to be finished and hub plus blades to be put in place.

Also installed a Halyard Exhaust Alert in exhaust hose, with cockpit display - hoping never to have engine damaged by overheating in future.  Wiring of alarm to display needs completion but it’s not difficult - just needs me to find time to get to it.…


With aft cabin turned upside down for access to wiring, I’ll complete work there before replacing newly-cleaned bunk tops and tidying up - means main cabin and forepeak are jammed up, making moving about difficult.   Hard awning/dodger is also needing some more careful thought - spent time making ‘patterns’ for steel plates and straps to attach it firmly.  Jorge is carefully finishing the inside in places with more gelcoat.

Found empty (i.e. leaked!) bottle of epoxy hardener all over forepeak floor ... grrr!!  Have spent time cleaning up a big mess, chasing up replacement and organising travel to/from Tucson to pick it up quickly - this weekend, I hope, ready for applying Coppercoat next week.  Have scheduled launch for 24th Nov so need to get it done, along with Propspeed application to prop and propshaft, plus dealing with anything else below waterline.

Hot now in sun around midday, but has suddenly become very cool in the evenings and overnight - having to get out warmer bedding. (Debated getting out socks last night, uncovered feet felt so cold!)  No shore power input - not too surprisingly, charger is malfunctioning with high input voltage (132V, instead of 120V!) - yet another problem that was NOT on my list of expected boat work!  Having to rely on solar power to keep batteries charged - three wires needed new sections added  to eliminate loss of output power due to corrosion.  Helpful that fan is no longer needed.

Took last weekend off to relax and go sailing in Tucson S.C. Regatta here in San Carlos - lovely to get out on the water Friday - Sunday, with parties each evening.  Many thanks to Peter and Judy Burgard for inviting me to join them, with their son Alan, as their guest for the Regatta racing on ‘Bandito’, with its distinctive ‘Hallowe’en’ spinnaker in black & orange adding interest on the downwind legs!

Large moths are out in force in the evenings — they seem to enjoy settling upside down on the inside of glasses to drink the beer!

Friends Robert and Rose finally enjoyed ‘Tillicum’ being launched - after two years of hard work on a total refit - she looks beautiful - happy people!!   I’m envious…!


Southampton Boat Show ... Hurricane Odile ... Bart's Bash
Reid Inlet, Alaska05

22nd Spetember 2014

Sad news of three cruisers' deaths in La Paz anchorage after hurricane Odile devastated Cabo San Lucas and La Paz and much of S.Baja... 'Nereida' was safe in San Carlos, I heard - as were all boats there in Marina Seca and the marina. Pleased to see 'Polo' kept offshore, although some rain from it did reach Cabo.    But news is good now - Mexican govt did a good job evacuating tourists trapped by aftermath and supplies are getting through.  Road south down Baja peninsula seems to be OK now and fuel supply is good - so more supplies can get S and locals are working very hard to repair all the damage everywhere.  Internet and phones seem now to be working - but still plenty of re-building to do.  San Jose airport is opening in a week or so, it seems.

Southampton Boat Show kept me busy - Fri/Sat opening days and then Thurs/Fri again. Was given a hand-held pole-mount for 'selfies' via mobile/cellphone and Bluetooth - takes good pics showing background as well. Got a useful 'Exhaust Alert' from Halyard stand - need it to warn me if engine starts overheating... Now that I'll be using motor at times, not just sailing, should mean avoiding loss of engine-power just when needed! Interviewed on Radio Solent's midday programme and did a 'Meet and Greet' on Boatshed's stand.

Made useful visits to other stands to get items for boat in Mexico - so many things to organise for 'Nereida', to be ready for work on her. The list is long and probably boring for most people!  It reads:  apply Coppercoat in place of anti-fouling paint; finish hard sprayhood/dodger and fix tracks to attach (new) bimini and (old) weather screen; replace wind generator; replace steering cables and bearings etc; replace most lines and sheets with new; replace genoa; replace turning block; fix Halyard 'Exhaust Alert’ in exhaust; replace anodes; clean topsides and deck; fit insulating divider in fridge; fit new blind/mosquito screen to forepeak hatch; replace VHF coax mast-connector and check transmit; replace Pactor modem and also Iridium satphone modem; replace small item on Hydrovane wind-steering; try to reduce RF interference using ‘chokes’ on wiring; sort out chaos, clean out lockers and generally tidy up below - a big job!!  (I’m sure there are more jobs I’ve forgotten!!)

Hopefully, we’ll finally be in a fit state to greet friends on board this winter and cruise the Sea of Cortez!  A lot of jobs I can see to myself, but others I’ll be getting help with before we ’splash’.  Once in the water, many jobs can be done at anchor, rather than in the marina - that’s the plan, anyway!

Supported the Bart's Bash on Sunday, at the Queen Mary Sailing Club where I used to windsurf a lot (http://www.queenmary.org.uk/).
Amazing turn-out, very pleasant sunshine, good wind and a lot of money raised. We have yet to hear the results from the other 'Bash' races all over the world today - a friend from Arizona Y.C. raced in one on Lake Pleasant, near Phoenix!

Greetings from beautiful British Columbia... photos!
Reid Inlet, Alaska05

15th August 2014 - in warm, sunny B.C.

Having written at length a few weeks ago - and then having lost the entire file while sorting through photos - I've not felt very motivated to re-write it...!!  But it's long overdue, so here goes...

8th July came and I was reminded that one year ago I'd just arrived back on land after 259 days at sea...  Rick, VE7TK, had sent me a photo of the AIS screen on 6-7th July 2013 that so many were looking at as I struggled, in fog and no wind, to get back to Victoria Harbour to complete my circumnavigation...

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Mexico news up to my leaving 'Nereida' in dry storage on 15th July (more photos below, including Sedona area)

The new hard top, replacing the canvas awning over the companionway, was virtually complete, with Jorge taking a long time and a lot of care to produce a good finish to it - it 'just' needs Lexan windows to be cut and stuck in place and a final fixing to the top of the steel windscreen when I return in October.

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Pitt was very helpful, as he has so often been, when time came for putting 'Nereida' to bed in the dry storage area  - covering her up carefully against the UV-rays of the hot sun during my absence.

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The weather was impossibly hot - too hot to get anything useful done by way of boatwork - but the 'chubascos' came early in July, as I'd been told they would - strong gusts of N wind accompanied by heavy rain and sheet lightning - but usually for just a few hours, around midnight.  The nice end-result was the nearby Sonoran desert greening up and cacti starting to flower beautifully - big flowers on small plants & small flowers on straggly ones
m IMG 4462 13July Sonoran desert starts to green up after heavy rains mIMG 4446
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The word was of a mountain lion being seen in the nearby hills ... and deer, for sure.   1st, 4th and 14th of July were all celebrated.... but it was always a relief to make for the cool of an air-conditioned bar and/or restaurant most evenings after an essential cooling shower.     Many people had their boats brought in to the Marina Seca, to leave them in the dry storage area while they made their way north to cooler climes -  often to their air-conditioned home in Phoenix or Tucson or San Diego, but also many Canadians, looking forward to a summer in B.C. or Alberta, some driving up, occasionally trailing their (small) boat up with them.
I was busy with my  own glass fibre project (a first for me!) - forming an area of carefully-shaped fibre glass over shaped foam, the idea being to reduce the braking effect of the disturbed water-flow of the bow-thruster tunnel quite close to the bow.
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My journey to Gibsons, near Vancouver in British Columbia, from San Carlos was a bit convoluted but ended up not as bad as I feared...   A car ride to the Guaymas 'Tufesa' bus station  in the evening, to catch the overnight bus to Phoenix... a two hour wait at a crowded Mexican check point (for drugs?) well before the US border... an unexpectedly good crossing of the border with friendly officials helping to speed up the formalities  (2am might have been part of the reason!) ... Bus passing by Phoenix airport two hours late, as my plane was due to be boarded (or so I thought, from clock display on the bus) ... hurried taxi to airport from bus station... "But it's only 9 o'clock" says the woman at the Information desk ... Phew!!  Just in time to check in ... so a very happy person unexpectedly caught her flight!!  Three hours or so to Vancouver, passing snowcapped volcanic Mt St Helens on the way:
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and a delightful 'float plane' trip over the Georgia Strait, from the Fraser River to Sechelt, just up from Gibson on the 'Sunshine Coast'
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where I've been staying with good friends Tom and Maggie since then, in their house high up, overlooking the waters of Howe Sound and the B.C. Ferries from Horseshoe Bay, Vancouver, passing to and from the nearby Langdale terminal.                                                                                                                                 m IMG 4481
I've been blessed with great weather since arriving, although two days of rain early on were accompanied from 6pm to 1.30am one night by a power cut - a tall tree had fallen onto power lines ...  I drove in to Gibsons, a commercial fishing centre, for some lovely mussels in garlic - I had no power to cook or for lighting!   Tom and Maggie were off cruising around Georgia Strait for three weeks while I 'house sat' and explored the well-forested area around (in between working hard at my computer on organising the data from my travels, ready for writing)...  "Keep an eye out for the (black) bears around!" was the warning as I walked in the nearby forest or near the many blackberry bushes, fruit ripening nicely in the hot sunshine.
There was a carnival atmosphere during the Gibsons 'Sea Cavalcade' over one weekend ... The Grand Parade was fun, with kids of all sizes scrambling for sweets thrown out from passing floats and dressed up groups of 'paraders' and the firework display was just great.
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I met up with friends, gave a well-attended Presentation on my sailing to the Gibsons Y.C. and Power Squadron at short notice, kept the garden plants watered ... and several deer came by daily to reap the crop!  Neighbour Hana took me recently on several enjoyable hikes up steep, forested Soames Hill for a great view over Howe Sound towards Gibsons and Keats Island and over to Gambier and Bowen Islands.
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One day I decided a plant beside the steps down into the garden badly needed a good water - big mistake!  I was well and truly stung - hot, painful stings on my head, body, arms and legs - by small, black, angry wasps - several times over each time -  hurt all that night, with long-lasting effects.  I couldn't understand what was happening to begin with, it being almost dark at that time... but with lots of loud yells of "Ouch!", I very soon dropped the hose, turned tail and ran for the safety of the house!!
Another day, I decided to explore down near the shoreline beyond the ferry terminal - it amazes me how houses here are frequently built on a very steep rocky shoreline...  Long, steep sets of wooden steps are constructed to reach houses down a near-vertical slope.  I drove along a road which looked interesting.   The asphalt gave way to gravel and it became very narrow, with a steep drop down on one side...finally ending in a small 'turn-around' area above a few rooftops of houses by the beach below in a small cove.
The usual enormously high trees of B.C. were all around, but no people, it being early afternoon.  On turning the car around to drive back, I managed somehow to get stuck on a slight sloping path meeting the main path...  No budging, whatever I tried to do....   On investigating, not only was the side of the car now sitting on the hard stony slope, but one of the front wheels had spun a bit, spitting out earth and stones, so we'd been lowered onto a smooth boulder just behind the wheel.  
What to do??   As I pondered on my situation, I spotted a long-handled, pointed shovel leaning against a nearby tree - great!  Spent a good two hours shovelling a lot of stony soil away from around and under both the car and boulder - how else could I hope to move either?    Triumphantly, I finally levered the boulder out of the way and was able to move the car - just as local resident Scott came home from work in time to guide me in manoeuvring the car successfully around in the very confined space.  Photo shows the result of my digging - a second boulder had to be dug out, along with stones and lots of gravelly earth, in order to move the first boulder - & the car!
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I stayed to chat with Scott and a couple holidaying in his house on the shore...  He'd spent six years re-building the house and looked forward to a daily swim after work in the lovely cove below.  Turned out that the shovel was only there because he'd been working on 'improving' the bit of road leading to the steps down to his house - so I was lucky!  I was amused to see bits of bright orange tape and thin yellow posts with red reflectors on their top marking the edge of the steep drop-away on the shore side of the road - no other protection!
I've seen a shoulder specialist in Vancouver who was encouraging - seemed to think that there was a very good chance my shoulder is mending OK but it will be more clear after I see him following a CT scan next week.  From Vancouver, I'll travel on to Saltspring Island to stay with a friend in Long Harbour for 2-3weeks, when I'll also hope to meet up with friends in the Sidney/Victoria area.  I'm trying to get writing on my 'story' - but the data-organizing has taken quite a time!  It feels odd not to have 'Nereida' nearby and to travel around on - I hope she's OK down in the heat of Mexico. ..............................................................................................................................................
Sedona Red Mountains, 'Montezuma's Castle' (misnamed - several hundred years before him!) and Tuzigoot in May:
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Making the hard top in Marina Seca San Carlos during June/July involved several stages & the framework they put up while making the mould made getting down below very difficult!
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Hot work on the hard
Reid Inlet, Alaska05
24th June 2014 - from Marina Seca, San Carlos, Mexico
I've been busy since my return but it's baking hot here (35C/95F in shade) from 8 a.m. onward - I've been getting up early, to start work while it's cooler - often around 5:30 am!!  By midday, it's difficult to do anything much - above or below deck... (and painting, epoxy work & varnishing is impossible!).   It gets very tiring trying to get work done in the heat of day and I'm drinking loads of water and fruit juices.    Some people have installed  air-conditioning - lucky!  There's a good fan above my main bunk which makes for a reasonable sleep overnight and  I eventually managed to rig some sunshade, making a big difference on deck.   Work is going very slowly, with collar bone problem not having helped (even now, it often still aches) and even the Mexicans slow down in the heat, not surprisingly.   It's so hot that the laptop starts overheating & misbehaving during daytime.   We're in a desert here!
A couple of weeks ago, the steering wheel was  removed to expose the totally rusted/useless/ 'exploded' bearings - had three very knowledgeable and experienced guys helping, with great difficulty, to remove the steering components and take everything apart - bad corrosion helped by mix of aluminium and steel in a poorly-designed system with little or no anti-seizing grease used originally - no wonder steering had been difficult - amazing that I was able to steer at all!     A local good metal worker in the town of Guaymas nearby had to deal with some damage unavoidably caused to some items during removal of the steering system shaft and bearings and I also had to find the local bearng specialist to replace one bearing I didn't have a spare for...
The keel is looking good after a lot of effort by yard workers Sergio and Edgar who have stripped off all the old anti-fouling, faired the lead keel and its join to the GRP stub and then coated everywhere with epoxy.   I sanded some parts myself - including the propellor and shaft, ready for Propspeed to be applied later.   The plan was immediately to apply the  Coppercoat in the early morning, around sunrise....  but the heat, even so early, has put that plan on hold until October.   In the meantime, the epoxy is reacting to the intense sunlight, so I'll have to cover it up during the 3-4 months in dry storage.
I managed to sunburn my back while dealing with the starboard forward lower shroud that had broken loose on my way down the South Pacific towards Cape Horn in December 2012.   All I had to do was undo a connector, loosen the rigging , replace the shroud protector, tension the shroud correctly and secure a few split pins - but I managed to replace the protector upside down - so had to undo and re-do a lot of work - all took a time in the burning midday sun with no shade over me - not good!
The yard workers are presently making a hard top in place of my canvas sprayhood...  Glass fibre is about to be applied, after a long time preparing the 'mould' - mostly in wood, with Formica covering, resulting in my having to perform a 'limbo dance' in order to access the companionway steps to get down below...
The good news is several cruiser friends here being helpful and the Mexicans generally being cheerful and friendly - although timing is not their forte!    There are many other jobs still waiting...   many as a result of my recent ocean voyaging...  Rough seas are tough on a boat!
I gave a well-attended Presentation on my solo sailing recently in 'Tequilas' with a rigged-upcloth for screen and Pitt and Ron supplying essential equipment and generally being very helpful - it was good to enjoy the air conditioning!
Later last week, I decided to take a break from being constantly in the dusty, hot workyard and went over to walk around the marina area after my shower - and enjoyed some live music...  'Los Tres Amigos' grew to 'Los Seis Amigos' when two more guitarists and a harmonica-player joined the group!  I later had a lovely walk back in the light of the full moon....  San Carlos feels very safe.   The evenings after sunset are definitely the best time - a lovely cold shower and a walk in the night air are very welcome.
While waiting for a ride down from Phoenix/Tucson area back to San Carlos, I heard that old boat-friends Karen and Bryan were not far away - so had an unexpected, very enjoyable trip to Clarkdale, with visits to the fabulous red rocky outcrops of Sedona, old Cottonwood, the old Native settlements of the (mis-named) Montezuma Castle  and Tuzigoot and a fascinating high lake caused by upwelling of underground water - a resource for locals from time immemorial...   Photos to follow...

Time to return to "Nereida" via Phoenix - work to be done in San Carlos!
Reid Inlet, Alaska05
On Friday 30th May, I'll be flying from London to Phoenix, en route to San Carlos in Mexico where neither of the two big jobs I'd been promised would be done for me in my absence have even been started.   It's really disappointing that the 'Mexico' lack of reliability and time-keeping has now extended to a yard which until last year had an excellent reputation for good, reliable work..
It's possible that one job has now been started (some simple sanding of the keel!) as a result of an email to the yard last week in which I presumed both jobs were  either complete or nearly so!   As a result, I'm taking back with me a random orbital sander, and organizing delivery of, sandpaper discs and mohair rollers,etc, to use in the imminent Coppercoat application - not difficult to appply properly but surface has to be prepared and coating applied in a precise way.   I'll not be using the yard for that - they've shown themselves to be incapable of following careful instructions  ....    Very disappointing...
I've been so busy while back in London.   The main reason for my return was, of course, my fractured collarbone which I heard should have had surgery early on - but the outcome of my hospital visit, four weeks after my accident, was a decision not to operate since the feeling was that the bones were now aligned parallel, although slightly overlapping, and seemed to be healing OK, whereas to operate at this late stage could not guarantee a better outcome.  The pain has subsided a lot and I'll need to exercise carefully to get back good shoulder function over the coming weeks ...
I'm looking forward to being back on board, even though on the hard ... There's so much work waiting to be done but it won't happen unless I'm there to do it or organize it!
More  news in a week or so...  London has been very rainy for the last week - it'll be nice to get back to sunshine and blue skies...

Quick trip back to London
SHTP06 Belt buckle!
Thursday 15th May 2014

Well, I'm unexpectedly in London (Ealing) after a fast trip from Mexico ..   Thanks to John (of 'Night Song') for a long but interesting ride from San Carlos all the way north to Phoenix, crossing border at Nogales.   Stayed overnight on Tuesday at a friend's house and we went for a long walk early next morning in Paradise Valley - mid-May is a perfect time of year to see the magnificent Saguaro cactus in flower everywhere (see photos, video and info) and many other cacti and other desert plants were also in flower.

After a daytime flight to Chicago on Wednesday, I flew on overnight to LHR.   Airline staff in Phoenix and Chicago were all really helpful and understanding over my luggage and carrying difficulties.   Was also unexpectedly upgraded to very comfortable Club class seat on the busy overnight flight (but hold luggage got left behind in Chicago ... it's expected to arrive a day late, on Friday...!)
Reason for my sudden re-location was being told by surgeon friend in Florida that X-rays of collarbone fracture did not look good, it shouln't be left alone to heal, as I'd been led to believe by Mexican doctor, and it needed urgent surgical intervention if my left shoulder was to function well in the future  (I'm also left-handed).   My GP agreed, on seeing the same X-rays, that it needed looking at by a shoulder specialist - so I've an appt in London on Monday ....   In the meantime, I'm catching up on sleep and will make good use of my time here.

In my absence, the yard should be finishing sanding/preparing the boat everywhere below the waterline, ready for Coppercoat and Propspeed applicatons on my return, and making the GRP hard top / dodger to replace the present canvas sprayhood.   I hope not to be in UK for too long - I've far too much work waiting to be done on "Nereida" in Mexico!!
Last Sunday, I had a lovely 15 ml trip out on the water  -  on 'Georgia', being taken around from San Carlos to Guaymas Marina Seca. I helmed a little and relaxed a lot!!
          m_Relaxed motor-sail on way to Guaymas         m_Rounding headland SW of Guaymas Bay
Lovely sunny day, vivid blue Sea of Cortez, some S swell, some wind .. but motor-sailed most of the way...  
Just avoided an unseen rock on final approach to dock - and caught two buses to return to 'Nereida' in San Carlos soon after sunset - total cost of 17.50 pesos for over one hour's journey!

Last Friday,'Nereida' was moved from dusty 'dirty' hard area, with sandblasting having ended, to the main work area, ready to complete sanding and continue with all the other work waiting to be done....  Has been good to have helpful people around - I've not been allowed to move anything heavy - plenty of offers of help!!
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The hard at Marina Seca (San Carlos) is dusty and hot during the day now, although nice and cool overnight....  Great view over nearby arid landscape to mountains close by.
Photo below shows the view from the Marin Seca entrance gates towards the 'twin peaks' of San Carlos - known in Spanish as the 'goat's teats'!   Very distinctive shape and highly useful for coming towards San Carlos Bay and harbour from seaward.

m_View from Marina Seca entrance to distinctive "twin peaks" ofsan Carlos

20th April 2014 - Happy Easter!!
SHTP06 Belt buckle!

I'm on my way back to 'Nereida' after a one-week diversion to New England for an enjoyable time meeting up with 'ham' radio friends made during my circumnavigations.

From 2011 on, I'd frequently chatted to Rick (WA1RKT), in New Hampshire, and on my last way around, from February 2013 onward, I made contact with John (W1QS), Brad (W1RQ), 'Woody' (WW1WW) and Alan (K1ALL), so it was great to meet them face to face!

Rick and Janet took me for a drive around Lake Winnipesaukee (largest lake in their home state of New Hampshire), passing through typical, lovely, wooded New England countryside, with mainly wood-clad homes everywhere.  Unlike England, from where I'd just flown into New York, trees weren't quite showing any new leaves yet and, over my second night with them, the temperature plummeted and overnight snow glistened the next morning.  Photos show Rick's snowy patio, with some of his several aerials, and his 'radio shack' from where he often chatted to me when in the S.Atlantic and S.Pacific Oceans

On Tuesday, we had a highly sociable dinner date.  (Photo shows (L-R): Brad, Alan, Rick and Woody.)


On Wednesday I was taken to Freeport (where I found some useful small items for 'Nereida' at L.L.Bean!) to meet with John and be driven on to his old farmhouse in Maine, where he & Marcia keep several lovely horses - a lot of work!

We had a fascinating, but all-too-short, visit to the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath where the ultra-modern lines of the newest U.S.Navy frigate(?), being finished in the Naval Yard close by the Museum, were noted as being very 'weird-looking' and totally 'un-boat-like'!  I heard it was designed to be like the Stealth fighter - almost invisible to radar.

We also had a very interesting tour around the Lyman Morse yard in Thomaston with its very comprehensive facilities.    Stanley Paris's 'Kiwi Spirit' and her construction and equipment details gave us plenty to discuss with our knowledgeable host, Drew Lyman (son of Cabot).

The snow lay around in New England all that week, with temperatures well down.  All too soon, I was on my way back to a very mild New York, with its very helpful bus drivers, from where I flew on to Hermosillo (Mexico) via Phoenix, where I was to be greeted by friends Bill & Michaela, who were to drive me down to San Carlos.

I'd had a busy few weeks back in England, trying to catch up with friends, family and paperwork, in between organising items to bring back for 'Nereida' and attending two Dinners.    One was at the Royal Thames Yacht Club in Knightsbridge, a short walk from a famous store (!), where I was presented with the Royal Cruising Club's 'Seamanship Medal'
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and the other was on board the historic vessel HQS Wellington, (home of the "Honourable Company of Master Mariners") by the Thames Embankment, where I received the Ocean Cruising Club's 'Barton Cup'.   (I also heard that I had been recognised by Guinness World Records as being the oldest woman to sail solo, nonstop, unaided around the world!)



I regret to say that due to an unfortunate accident early on Monday, on my way to see 'Nereida' in dry storage here in San Carlos, I broke my collar-bone.   So I'll be rather restricted in my work efforts for a few weeks, although the yard will be doing some good jobs for me in the meantime - mainly preparing the boat underwater surface ready for applying Coppercoat, applying Propspeed and making a hard top (dodger) over the companionway to replace the present canvas awning.  Fortunately, of the many jobs waiting for me, several are small ones, so I should be able to get those done, once I'm feeling a bit better.   The police and ambulance service here in San Carlos were highly efficient and I was soon being X-rayed & seen by a good doctor.   I'm now being well looked after by kind Bill & Michaela.

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