Sailing Esprit - A McWilliam Family Adventure
Sailing Esprit - A McWilliam Family Adventure

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Southbound through Central & South America

January - April 2004

We returned to Esprit in January to get ready to do the Puddle Jump to the South Pacific in March. As usual there was much to get done, the primary thing being to fix the refrigeration! We got our first taste of provisioning via bus and bicycle and learned how much you can carry in a few bags! Jamie enjoyed the marina life which included a great swimming pool! He would wander the docks talking to the other cruisers, and we became known as Jamie's parents. He even learned how to run a Radio Net for cruisers. After many planning meetings, provisioning for 6 months, and making sure Esprit was ready to go, we finally checked out of Mexico for the Marquesas - 3000 miles away. We were having an incredibly good sail, however Chay was sick with flue like symptons; after about 12 hours Katie came down with the same symptoms. Wishing the symptoms away just didn't work, so after about 200 miles we decided that we had better turn around and return to Mexico. Jamie (age 6) was the only seaworthy person on board! We returned to Tenacatita, Mexico where we had our first experience of how great the cruising community is. Several cruisers had waited up for us to guide us into the anchorage at 10:00 pm, and help us find a good spot to anchor. When we woke up the next morning expecting to have to move into the next anchorage, we learned we were already there and had barely missed running into a huge rock the night before. The angels were with us!
Jamie running the radio cruisers net as "net controller"
Dinghy Raft for Happy Hour in Tenacitita

April 24, 2004

Ahoy all! We are finally underway again on our way to Costa Rica. Our insurance company (boat insurance) gave us the thumb's up to go south, so here we go....after 3 1/2 weeks of recuperation, relaxation, fun on the beach (we swamped the dinghy during a launch off the beach - Jamie thought he could swim in the dinghy we had so much water!), a few days of 4-5 ft swells with at least 10 feet breakers, lots of dolphins who enjoyed scratching their bellies on our anchor chain, and even a few big jelly fish, we left Tenacatita on Thursday April 22 for Manzanillo where we arrived safe and sound after a very pleasant 7 hour coastal cruise - the coast line is very very pretty along here....we were sad to leave our friends in Tenacatita but we know we will see them again sometime, somewhere along the way....we caught 4 skip jacks (tuna family, but not good eating) which we released back to the sea...because we were checked out of Mexico for the Marquesas, we had to check back into Mexico here in Manzanillo...we are anchored at Las Hadas (the resort where they filmed the movie "10")...the harbor master drove us in his own car to the Port Captain, Immigration and the bank (to pay port captain fees) where he acted as agent on our behalf to help us with the paperwork shuffle...the officials were a little confused about what happened and why we did not have paperwork from Marquesas...for a second or two we thought they were going to send us back to Puerto Vallarta, but two hours later we were checked back in and had papers in hand to proceed on to Zihuatenejo (we have to check in and out where ever there is a port captain)...we played tourist in Manzanillo which is a very busy marine port with lots of cargo ships coming and going...after a taxi ride back to the boat we went snorkeling and saw pretty blue fish, multi-colored corals, and several other varieties of fish amongst the rocks...we had to detour around jelly fish every once in a while...Katie is finally diving down without getting too much water in her mouth (Jamie insisted she "follow me, Mom" as he dove down)...we are going to a swap meet/market tomorrow in Santiago where we hope to get some fresh provisions before we depart on Sunday for Zihuatenejo (Z-town) which will be an overnight trip of about 30 hours...

April 29, 2004

One of the things we have to remember as cruisers is that the best of plans is always subject to change...we left Manzanillo on Sunday April 25th headed for Zihuatenejo (Z-town). Very light to no winds were expected for the duration of our passage. We had light winds and were motor sailing.We expected to reach Z-town in about 30 hours (190 miles).About 15 hours into the trip, during Katie's first night watch, a sudden grinding noise was heard - Chay immediately woke up and shut off the engine.Our engine was dead - the timing belt was stripped of all teeth.So, since the engine is just our auxiliary source of power, we had to, yes, we had to sail!We had a 39 hour lesson in light air sailing, including 2 1/2 hours of zero wind - Chay reports we were actually going backwards with the current at one point!Fortunately the thermally induced land breezes kicked in and we were able to sustain about 5 knots for several hours.When they started to slow down we went wing and wing all the way into Z-town where we anchored under sail for the first time with Esprit.We sure gained a lot of experience on that passage!We know now that we can, and will sail, with as little as 2 knots of wind.Another plus is that we were able to see lots of sea turtles (some with birds sitting on them) and we had a number of night time escorts by a number of pods of dolphins some of who looked like lightning in the water because of the efflorescence.Because we were sailing in very light winds, we were able to hear the dolphins come up for air while escorting us in the dark of night.We came to truly appreciate the engine when we were nearing a busy shipping port and had to figure out how we would let the big ships know we had no engine (and no wind) and could not get out of their way very easily - our plan was to radio them, turn our deck lights to luminate the sails, and shine a spot light on the big ship's pilot house.Fortunately we did not encounter this situation, but it sure makes you realize how vulnerable you are.The engine is too precious to overuse.The winds were at their peak as we passed the entrance to the port so we got past it pretty quickly.Chay has been diligently repairing the engine - it turns out the water pump froze up (no precursory leakage was noted) and tore all the teeth off the timing belt.Katie is getting a quickie engine course as she assists Chay with whatever he needs help with.We are hoping there is no internal damage to the pistons and valves, but won't know for sure until we start the engine up.Fortunately we were lucky we planned ahead and carried all the spare parts with us (but now we need to restock). In the mean time, Jamie has been doing school and counting down the days until his birthday.We went into town to "check in" and drop off and pick up laundry.We launched the dinghy at night after dinner - yet another exciting learning experience since you can't see the waves/swell very well.Today we were paid a visit by "Augustine" a local who cleans boat bottoms.We took him up on his offer - saved Chay the time and hassle!It is amazing how they get their work done - he swam out to the boat!He was probably glad to see us as there are only 4 sailboats here and the "season" is ending.Well that is all for now.We will keep you posted as to whether we get the engine repaired and continue south, or whether it isn't repairable and we have to put the boat up here at Ixtapa Marina for the summer.

May 1, 2004

Jamie celebrated his 7th birthday just as he wished - on the beach! The restaurant brought us drinks served in pineapples with fruit faces and tied balloons onto our beach chairs! Later that day the few other cruisers in the anchorage with us thoughtfully brought over little gifts for Jamie!
Katie, Chay & Jamie celebrating turning 7!

May 9, 2004

Greetings from Acapulco...we have been here since Wednesday...we had to med-moor which means backing into a "slip", hooking onto a mooring ball (or dropping your anchor), and then tying off the stern on the dock...another first for the Esprit crew...the Club de Yates is a very nice facility with restaurant and swimming pool...the pool was really refreshing at the end of a hot and humid day...we played tourist and went to the Fuerte de San Diego (fort) which has a history museum in it, and we also went to see the famous cliff divers...they were pretty amazing...more guts than any of us...we went to Costco by taxi and got a great sight seeing tour of the is a very busy, big city...much more so than any other places we have been...we finished provisioning at Wal Mart...there are many USA stores here in Acapulco...we walked around downtown today shopping for boat parts and taking in the sights of the get a real flavor for their lifestyle doing a walking tour out of the tourist district...tomorrow we cast off for Hualtuco which will be our last port of call in Mexico...we expect that to take 48 to 60 hours...after checking out of Mexico, we will leave there during the next "weather window" destination El Salvador (Bahia del Sol)....this crossing from Mexico can be tricky due to "Tehuanapecer's" - very high winds that funnel through the large bay we need to cross...but we will listen to the weather reports and wait until the winds slow down and then we will "fly" across before the next one...the windows are usually 4 days or so, we expect it to take us two...the whole passage to El Salvador should be 4 - 5 days...that is all for now.
Jamie & Chay at the Acapulco Yacht Club

May 13, 2004

This is just a quick note to say we made it Hualtuco from Acapulco in 48 hours. It is very very hot and humid here! We relish every little breeze we can get, especially while trying to sleep. We checked into Hualtuco, and then out again, this time out of Mexico to Bahia Del Sol, El Salvador.It should take us 5 days to get there across the Bay of Tehuanapec. This can be a very windy bay to cross, but there is a good weather window right now that we are going to take advantage of. Hopefully we will have a smooth sail across.There are several other boats ahead of us so we aren't alone. We needed fuel so we asked some locals if they knew of any delivery services to the boat. They said they could do it for us, so two trips to the gas station and 40 gallons later we are full. They were very helpful! We are anchored right next to a cruise ship dock and should have two neighbors by morning! This should be interesting!We are safely outside their "channel". We went snorkeling this afternoon - for the first time we saw some really pretty fish. Jamie loves it! Well we leave in the morning and will write again when we get to El Salvador.

May 15, 2004

Just a quick note as we are underway off the Guatemalan coast. We safely crossed the Gulf of Tehuanepec, having to dodge thunderstorms along the way. Makes for a bit of excitement! It was a spectacular lightning show though, and it cooled off to a comfortable temperature. There are positives in everything we do....We should be in El Salvador at Bahia Del Sol Monday Morning. That is all for now except that Jamie is devouring just about every book we have on board, he has become quite the avid reader!

May 19, 2004

Hello from Bahia Del Sol, El Salvador (half way between La Libertad and Gulf of Fonseca)! Well we just crossed the infamous Tehuanapec with little wind except for the thunderstorms which we successfully dodged. The passage took us about 100 hours (5 days and 4 nights) - our longest yet. Our raw water pump started leaking underway, so Chay had the "pleasure" of changing it - not a fun job when it is 90 degrees, the engine room is hotter and smells of diesel, and the boat is rocking back and forth! He did it, and only got a little sea sick. Then that one started leaking too, but he will change it here at anchor this time. We were pooped when we got here, but mostly because we were avoiding thunderstorms each night and therefore got little sleep. The problem is, until the rain starts you can't see them on the radar, and you have no idea where they are (at night). We had one appear on the radar right on our stern and it decided to "burst". Fortunately we were able to stay just ahead of it and didn't get too wet. To come into this anchorage you have to have an escort because the entry is over a sand bar with breaking waves. Murray & Colleen do a marvelous job of guiding you in (and out as there was a boat departing ("Spirit of Joy") at the same time we entered). There are about 20 other boats anchored here. It is very calm but there is quite the current. Chay & Jamie almost went right past the boat with the current when the gears went out on the dingy motor, fortunately Chay was able to catch Esprit going by. Jamie is happy because there are kids here that he knew from anchorages we had been in before. There are also two pools which are quite refreshing at the end of a hot day (90 degrees and 85-90 percent humidity). Our laundry is being done today - we had to take it to the kitchen and weigh it on a produce scale, then convert pounds to kilos at the receptionist desk to find the cost, then walk the laundry to the "lavanderia" - it will be ready tonight. It will be so nice to sleep in clean sheets! Sleeping conditions have not been great due to the heat - then on top of that the thunderstorms make us have to close the hatches so the inside stays dry which makes it even hotter! This is definately the tropics! The benefits of the rain is the boat gets cleaned off and the dinghy fills with fresh water which we used yesterday to soak all of our dive gear in - we just added some vinegar to kill any growth that may have been trying to grow. Without the fresh water rinses, the gear starts to smell pretty bad. Last night we went to dinner with "Ace" at a Pupuseria "Emily's"- a very local restaurant that serves Pupusa's - kind of a thick corn or rice pancake with cheese, beans, and pork inside. Then you put cole slaw on top. They were very good. We fed 7 of us, including drinks, for $9.80! The currency here is the US dollar - it seems weird to use dollars here. There is a local fellow named Mishael who delivers fresh rolls each morning - 50 cents a dozen. He also organizes soccer games for the cruising kids with the locals once a week. It is a pretty nice place here. We are going to try to go into San Salvador tomorrow with Jose, a local taxi driver, who stays with you all day and knows all the places to go for whatever you need. You do have to buy him lunch along the way in addition to the fare, but everyone says he is great!
Papusas & shrimp with our good friends on Nueva Vida

May 29, 2004

We have been here a week and a half now and have settled into a routine of sorts. Jamie finished his 1st grade curriculum and is very excited about being in second grade! We had Jose the taxi driver take us into San Salvador on Monday to do "parts" shopping - quite the adventure! His taxi broke down, was fixed, but developed another problem as a result of that fix. We waited for his friend to bring another taxi and then we were on our way. We got most of the items we were looking for, including well over due haircuts. They cost us a total of $15.50! Yesterday we took the bus into San Salvador and played tourist with the folks on Nueva Vida. We ended up at the mall - it was like being in the mall at home in the states - what a contrast to the rest of the surrounding area. We had lunch and then went to a movie - "Troy" - it cost us $1.75 each. The bus ride was quite the experience with loud mexican music and horns honking the whole way. It has continued to rain every day here for at least a few hours - yesterday it rained while we were gone and Chay's & Katie's berth was a little wet so we had to get creative so we could still sleep back there. Today is soccer day for Jamie with the locals and other cruising kids. Then we will help Nathan (Nueva Vida) celebrate turning 12 - we will go for papusas and then back to their boat for birthday cake. Next Tuesday we are scheduled to visit some of the local ruins which should be interesting and fun - we will go with two other families. That always makes it more fun for Jamie - he can hang out with the kids. Chay is continuing to get odd jobs done on the boat in preparation for our return to the states which is scheduled for June 4th. We will have culture shock upon return, but are looking forward to seeing everyone again. One of the women here will "boat sit" for us - we are meeting with her today to see what all we have to do to "close down" Esprit for a couple of months.

June 2004 - February 2005

We flew home to Boulder City for several months, but did make a trip back to Esprit in the fall of 2004 to check on her in El Salvador and move her to the Costa Rica Yacht Club in Puntarenas where we left her on the hard from Thanksgiving to January 2005. Putting Esprit on the hard made us a bit anxious as we were gone when they hauled her out so we could have a survey done for our insurance company! They had to wait for a high enough tide to do the haul-out, and our flight was scheduled to depart before the high tide. Fortunately it all went smoothly except for one ding on the bottom of the keel which the marina repaired. After celebrating the holidays at home, we prepared to return to Esprit in early 2005.
Jamie next to Esprit in the boat yard at Costa Rica Yacht Club

Jamie started taking Karate lessons in August - little did we know how far he would go!
Jamie with his karate instructor Mr. Erdman when he tested for his orange belt October 2004

February 13, 2005

We are on the hook in Bahia Drake Costa Rica as we write this message to all of you. It feels so good to be cruising again, although we had a sad goodbye at the Costa Rica Yacht Club.We had been there so long, we didn't even need to order our cafe grandes and Jamie's tostadas (toast) in the morning - they just brought it to us.All of the staff - marina, kitchen, housekeeping - were extremely friendly and helpful!We had the bottom painted and all the varnish redone, as well as all of Chay's improvements.The best of which is a freezer that keeps things frozen! We are sure the marina staff heaved a big sigh of relief when they got us back into the water - the engine started first try, no water in the bilge - we are not sure who had bigger smiles on their faces - us or them.Jamie discovered how much fun it is to ride a bike - we couldn't get him off of it! We all rode into town a few times, the last time to provision before leaving - I am sure we were a sight to the locals with our propane tank on the back of Chay's bike, freon on mine, and pringles on Jamie's (plus I had a backpack full).The locals were intrigued with our folding mini-bikes! We took the restaurant manager Carlos to our boat the last night, and as we left the dinghy dock in a panga, the kitchen staff was standing on shore saying "bye, bye Jamie"! Needless to say, we feel we left these folks with a good impression of Americans. We departed with the 5AM high tide, and had a wonderful sail south to Bahia Herradura (Los Suenos)where we anchored overnight and did some meat provisioning, including a corned beef for St Patrick's day! We then headed south again for Bahia Drake - we had a really pleasant overnight motor-sail passage after trying to sail the first few hours making little progress. If you want to know which way the wind is blowing, ask Esprit which way she's headed - we always seem to be headed right into the wind!Bahia Drake is a very pretty anchorage with the clearest water we've seen yet! We took a refreshing swim - the water is like bath water - and all enjoyed jumping/diving off the side of the boat. Jamie & Chay even went off the bow, but found it to be a bit slippery so switched back to the side.Later today we will dinghy over to shore and check out the amenities on land, and see what land adventures we can do while we are here.

Supposedly the monkeys come down to the beach to play with you at a nearby hotel! To quote Jamie "its nice to be at sea again"...
Chay & Jamie in the pool at the Costa Rica Yacht Club

February 21, 2005

We left you last in Bahia Drake where Captain Drake the explorer found and supposedly buried his treasure of gold! We took a jungle tour with our guide Gustavo. He was excellent! We got there by boat ride so got to see the coast up closer than we would in Esprit. While on our 5 hour walking hike we saw howler and spider monkeys, red back deer, a raccoon like critter, a toucan, several species of smaller birds, the costa rican version of a turkey, a sloth, lizards, butterflies, leaf frogs, and soldier and leaf ants.Jamie had just read a story for school about ants wherein he learned about these types of ants, so it really neat to see them live! If Gustavo hadn't been with us, we would not have seen most of what we saw - he had a keen sense of the animal life around us.He also explained how the trees are important as most of the animals are vegetarians; one of the trees produces new leaves and fruit all year round to keep the monkeys happy.The ranger station was located at the site of a not long ago rice plantation - the buildings were vintage southern plantation. Supposedly there is still gold to be found in the rivers too, but we didn't have any luck! That evening we celebrated Valentine's Day at one of the hotel restaurants on shore...Our next adventure took us out 12 miles to Isla del Canos for some diving...Katie hadn't dove in 1-1/2 years!...It was a good dry run for all...Katie discovered she needs a few more weights to be able to descend in salt water...Chay dove to check the anchor and found that it was not set, and would not set, so we snorkeled a bit, paid our ranger fee, and went back to Bahia Drake and got ready to move on south to Golfito...We had a pleasant trip to Golfito...Jamie was even able to do school underway!....Golfito used to be a bustling banana port until the mid-80's when the labor unions caused the United Fruit Co to pull it is kind of like a western ghost town...we walked our way through the check-out process - kind of like a scavenger hunt trying to find the customs office and immigration office.They were both kind of hidden amongst other offices...but we are checked out and ready to head to Panama tomorrow...We did some provisioning on our way back to the boat...Yesterday afternoon we painted our newly designed logo on the wall at LandSea cruiser's is a white star with Esprit in blue in the middle and KP 46 in the bottom legs...our names are on the outside in the "valleys"...It is raining right now as we are trying to get the boat shade cover off and sail covers off...Golfito is very lush and green and a "cozy" bay...but we understand that there are some wonderful islands to visit along the way with diving and surfing.
Esprit's star on wall of Golfito cruiser's hangout

February 27, 2005

They say it takes a month to make the transition from the crazy world of work,school, kid's after school schedule, and all the other commitments of life on land to cruising mode...well it's I took my shower this evening I looked out the port to see the sky of the setting sun and the calm sea with a slight swell against the island that forms the easterly border of the bay that we are anchored in at the Islas Secas...the calm of the sea overtook me and I knew I was in cruising the same time I heard Chay say "ah, this is the life..." as he and Jamie sat snuggled together in the cockpit waiting for their turn to freshen up after a day of school, snorkeling, boat maintenance, a dinghy ride around the bay, and getting Esprit ready to depart at sunrise for Bahia Honda - a 35 mile passage that should take about 8 hours...of course, life isn't perfect, and I spent 5 minutes trying to get the shower drain to drain...but for some reason it wasn't a big the french fries (courtesy of Costa Rica Yacht Club) are frying on the stove, and Chay will be barbecuing the tuna we caught a few days ago...then we will have a "TV Dinner" and finish watching Pirates of the Caribbean (again!)with a bag of popcorn...we are slowly (by our standards) cruising down to Panama City...we have anchored in two very beautiful island anchorages so far...we dinghy sailed to "gilligan's island" one day - a small island with palm trees lininga white sand beach - and then the next day dingy's sailed to the beach for a picnic lunch...we weren't the only ones having a picnic on the beach - the no see-ums had us for lunch...Jamie only had a few, but Chay and I look like we have the chicken pox!...and they itch!...we have had very light winds so our passages from Golfito have been very pleasant motor-sails...Jamie has even been able to do school underway!...Chay & I dove yesterday, while Jamie snorkeled above us...didn't see too much...but today we snorkeled at low tide and saw all sorts of beautiful tropical fish and some ugly ones too!...angel fish were abundant...the coral reef is awesome to see - typical coral and brain coral...Jamie is really taking a liking to snorkeling - he loves diving down chasing the fish!....that about sums up our last 6 days.
Jamie getting ready to snorkel

March 8, 2005

Since we last wrote we have traveled down the western coast of Panama and into the Gulf of Panama. We are currently at anchor in the Islas Perlas where we had a "family" reunion with Nueva Vida and was great to see these friends again after so many months...After our snorkeling and diving adventure in the Secas, we went to Bahia Honda where we stayed a couple of nights...the "mayor" of Bahia Honda, Domingos, brought us fresh fruit, coconuts, ginger, fresh baked bread, and made us rings and pendants from turtle shell. He loved to talk, and we discovered that our Spanish must be improving, as we could actually understand a lot of what he was saying! However, we are still only able to answer with one or two word answers...From Honda we went to Naranjo for the night,and then onto Benao to wait for the right weather to go around the point (Punta Mala)into the Gulf of was a nice anchorage with good surf, so Jamie was happy...there was also another boat, Wonka Wonka, with 3 kids on board, so Jamie was even happier!...however, the parents on Wonk Wonka were a little different, so we did not do much with them as a family...Jamie hung out with the kids who were great kids...the Panama National Surf competition was held while we were there, so we watched it..two of the kids won their first heats...While in Benau, we also got to sample our first Panamanian beers...for the most part beers don't cross country lines!...We left Benao on Sunday and had an average of 20 knots of wind for the next 22 hours! We sailed the first four or five hours, and then motor sailed after that...we thought we doing great, until we realized that the current was pushing us south by 30 degrees so instead of going north east, we were going east...we stayed on this course until we were almost south of the Las Perlas islands, and then we headed north with the wind on our "nose" (the bow of the boat)...we arrived at Isla San Jose, the southern most island, at 12:30 in the morning..fortunately we called ahead and two of the boats "left the lights on" for us...our radar and night vision goggles worked great for guiding us in...needless to say, we crashed hard after that long hard passage...the next morning we head to one of the northern islands to meet up with our friends on Nueva Vida and Otter...we had a nice sail part of the way until the winds slowed and we had to turn on the is so peaceful when we can sail without motoring!...tomorrow we will head into Panama City and check into Panama...while in Panama we will get the boat ship shape and provisioned for our passage to Ecuador which we figure should take about 6 days...we will also take advantage of the Costco here and provision our dry goods, as this will probably be the last place to do it for a long time.
Jamie surfing at Benao

March 11, 2005

We made it safe and sound into Panama City where we are anchored in a very crowded anchorage...a big change from the isolated anchorages we've been in as we moved our way south...our initial impression is that it is a shame the US gave the canal back to can tell the Panamanians were really impacted from our pulling out...what once was a booming area is now becoming more of a ghost town...similar to what we saw in Golfito...the taxi driver we had take us around to the port captain and immigration and grocery store confirmed that the locals were not happy that we pulled out..we can watch the freighters and cruise ships as they enter and exit the canal up close and personal...their wakes sometimes give us a good roll or two...the Bridge of Americas is impressive, especially at night...the skyscraper filled skyline is pretty, but overwhelming!..we haven't seen this much city since we left San Diego..we will be here another week or so before heading off to Ecuador...lots more provisioning to do before then.

March 19, 2005

We are still at anchor in Balboa (just next to Panama City). We went into the marina for a couple of days to clean the boat, and put the lightning dissipator on the top of the mast (Chay's job!).These jobs are easier when you are not rocking and rolling in an anchorage. We fueled up and filled the water tanks in preparation for our passage to Ecuador.We finished provisioning this week, and visited the ruins of old Panama City which Morgan sacked in the 1500's.They were pretty cool - it is fun to imagine what life would have been like then.We celebrated St. Patrick's day with our friends on Nueva Vida and Otter - we had 10 people on board for corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and carrots!Thanks to Otter we had Guiness beer and salad, and Nueva Vida brought a peach upside down cake which she added green food coloring to! It was a fun evening! Of course, we had the bagpipe music playing! We checked out of Panama yesterday, picked up our laundry, filled our propane tank, and are set to depart for Ecuador either Sunday (tomorrow)or very early Monday our next message will be from Ecuador- south of the equator!
Bridge of America's - Panama City

March 23, 2005

Just a quick hello from the middle of the Pacific Ocean. We are currently underway from Panama City to Ecuador. We have been out over 48 hours and are almost half way, but are going slow due to a current against us, and head winds. Last night we went from the doldrums to 18 knots of wind and confused seas...we put the sails out and motor sailed until about 10 AM this morning when we decided we were having to sail too far off course...we are now back to motoring on course to try to make some headway...for those of you who don't know, you can't sail straight into the wind...our course is of course straight into the wind...that's why we have to motor...Jamie is reading...Chay is dozing...its overcast and humid...time for me to think about making lunch...I will email again from Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador where we should be by Saturday...its comforting to know that the US is patrolling out here - we just had a US Coast Guard boat do a low, fly by of us, and then continue on towards the location of another sailboat on route to Ecuador.

March 26, 2005

Greetings from Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador! We made it in 4-1/2 days, safe and sound.Unfortunately we motor-sailed all the way as the winds were pretty much on our nose. We celebrated crossing the equator with a bottle champagne - most of which was dumped into the ocean as our gift to Neptune (we weren't quite up to having champagne at 9AM). Jamie dressed up as Neptune, and even tried the champagne - but didn't like it, as we expected. So now we have to get our turtle tatoos! We were so tired when we checked into the radio net that morning, that Katie said "..Esprit, with Chatie, Kay, & Jamie on board"!... "Bahia", as the locals call it, is a quaint, quiet, small town of 20,000 people.Everyone has been very friendly so far.They greet with a kiss on the cheek, like they do in europe - Jamie didn't like it!Tripp at Puerto Amistad, the cruiser's marina, is great! He truly has a vision of making Bahiaa cruisers destination, and appears to be making it happen slowly but surely.We are on a mooring ball here with about 20 other boats.The trip in through the breakers went smoothly, with the pilot, an assistant, and the second in command from the Port Capt's office aboard.As Chay & I get the boat ready to leave, Jamie is busy making Easter decorations and masks.He has put signs all over the boat giving the Easter bunny directions to his room!Boating is great for keeping a child a child just a little bit longer!We will go to immigration in Manta on Monday (about 20 miles away), and get our visas.Then on Tuesday we will catch a bus to Quito, the capital, which is an 8 hour trip through the mountains.We understand it while it can be scary at times, it is a beautiful trip! After a day playing tourist in Quito, we will fly back to Boulder City on Thursday, the 31st. So, this will be our last email from Esprit...stay tuned for more adventures, this time from the states.
Jamie dressed as Neptune & Chay celebrating our equator crossing

April-May 2005

Our six weeks at home were busy, with the highlight being that Jamie competed in his first tournament and took two first places!

May 18, 2005

We made it safe & sound to Quito where we spent a few days exploring Quito and its northern surroundings with our friends Randy & Gayle (Otter). We went to Mitad del Mundo (middle of the world) where the equator crosses Equador in the Andes Mountains. While there we were able to stand in both hemispheres at the same time! The monument is actually about 600 feet away from the actual equator - they discovered this after they were able to use GPS. The indigenous people knew where it was as evidenced by a temple site which is situated right on the equator and lines up with geometrically with not only the equator, but the equinox lines of the sun. The geometric design is seen in many Equadorian art pieces/rugs. The Christian churches in Quito also line up directly along one of the lines and are assumed to be built on top of the old temples built to worship the Sun God. We took a 2 hour bus trip to Otavalo, an indigenous Indian town famous for its outdoor market. The indigenous people wear their native garb which is quite colorful and includes alpaca wool skirts, colorful blouses, ponchos, wool hats or scarf wraps for the women who also wear many strings of gold beads around their necks; the men wear white pants, sandals, colorful ponchos, wool hats and their hair is worn in a single braid down their back. The market was colorful and busy! We had almuerzo (lunch) at one of the little tiendas at the market - very tasty! The country is absolutely beautiful! The mountains are a green patchwork of farms and natural terrain spotted with houses, horses, cows, etc...On Sunday night we caught the 11:00 night bus back to Bahia - except for a bus change due to our original bus not running right, it was an uneventful trip and we arrived in Bahia at 7 AM, right on time. We got a local "eco-taxi" to take our many bags to the dock, where one of the marina workers met us and dinghy'd us to Esprit. It was great to be back! We had breakfast with our friends Nueva Vida and spent time catching up. Jamie really enjoyed being with Nathan and Tyler again! The rest of our time here so far has been spent getting unpacked and the boat in order...unfortunately, when we went to start the engine, it only went "clunk". It appears that the engine is "locked" - Chay is busy trying to trouble shoot it to determine the extent of work that will be needed to get it running again. Although we knew we were going to be doing some engine work, this is not what we were expecting!
Jamie at the equator

May 22, 2005

Here we sit in Bahia de Caraquez...a typical in the cockpit, breakfast, work on the engine, work on it some more, lunch, work on the engine, Jamie goes with Nueva Vida boys to walk the dogs from Otter, clean the water tanks which got red sludge in them from dirty water somewhere on our journey, play games with Jamie to let Chay work on the engine which is now in several pieces in the engine room, cockpit, and v-berth, happy hour and showers at the marina, then dinner, movie & popcorn on the boat, then bed...amongst all of this we have done some grocery shopping, Chay broke a finger trying to get the engine to "turn over", Katie & Jamie are learning how to drive the dinghy, we went to church, have had fun spending time with our friends on Nueva Vida, and Jamie's done quite a bit of bike riding.

May 29, 2005

Things are looking a bit better since we last wrote. Chay's finger is improving and with the help of Andrew off of Nueva Vida, Randy (Otter), Katie & Jamie, and much pounding, the engine finally turned over!So, now Chay can continue to take it apart to examine the pistons and rings to determine what needs to be repaired.Besides working on the engine, this week we went to Puertoviejo by bus to see what it was like and to look for Volkswagen parts.The bus ride was about 2 hours and gave us the chance once again to see how the locals live.We had no luck with VW parts, but did wander the "Mall".Jamie got new sandals and we found tools and other stuff we needed at the grocery store which was like a small WalMart.Katie has been power walking with Arlene on Nueva Vida a few days a week, and Jamie rides his bike along side.Friday was Nathan's (Nueva Vida) 13th birthday, so we took the car ferry across the estuary and then a 1/2 hour bus ride to Canoa, a small beach town with fairly good waves and good shell/shard hunting, to celebrate his birthday. There was a little old man on the ferry who apparently spent all day riding back and forth, peeling oranges and selling them! Amazing! We found several sand dollars(which hopefully will make it home in one piece this time) and a few other spiny shells we had not seen before. Arlene found some shards which she shared.It was low tide and some of the fishermen were having difficulty getting their boat back up to the "parking area", so Chay and Randy (off Otter) helped them push it back up the sloped beach on logs.It was a bit cool that day, so we headed back to Bahia to clean up before going to Nueva Vida for lemon meringue birthday pie - yum, yum!Saturday was market day - always an interesting experience. Katie is still getting used to very fresh chickens!Saturday was also the day the engine broke loose, and the pistons finally went up & down by themselves with the starter!This morning we went to church.It was the celebration of Corpus Christi and at the end of mass the priest led a procession with the Eucharist throughout the town. They still do things the "old" way here in many aspects, which makes it all that much more interesting.
Andrew & Chay working on the engine

June 5, 2005

Chay's finger is definitely better, and the engine is going back together slowly, but surely. We have to get new pistons, so will go to Guayaquil (a 6 hour bus trip) to the VW dealer to see what they have. After Guayaquil we are going to travel a bit in the Andes - to include the volcanoes, Inca ruins, Banos (hots springs), and a train ride where we will sit on the roof! while going up and down "The Devil's Nose". Our friends on Nueva Vida will join us for this adventure. We will give you the details upon our return. This past week we continued to work on the boat, study Spanish, and other odds and ends. Jamie continues to read, ride bikes, and play legos. He, Nathan, & Tyler have built some incredible ships and castles!

June 23, 2005

We survived our inland trip (details to follow in another message) and had a lot of fun in the process - except for the Oriente (Amazon Jungle) we have pretty much seen all of Ecuador, and what a beautiful country it is! We rode sixteen buses in 15 days, rode mountain bikes in the Andes, did some hiking, tried out the hot springs, rode on top of a freight train for 6 hours enjoying the sights, played tourist in several cities, and are now back on board Esprit. As I said above, we will fill in the details in a separate message, as we have lots of stories to tell!
Katie, Andrew, Arlene, Tyler, Nathan, & Jamie riding on the top of the train car in Ecuador

Because of the engine problem, which is requiring all new pistons to properly repair, we have now missed the weather window, and will not be jumping the Pacific this year.So, we are returning to the states to purchase the engine parts, spend time with family and friends, and of course, work.We looked into having parts shipped here, but have been told it is near to impossible to retrieve the parts out of customs.We are beginning to wonder if we are meant to jump!But will try again next year - hopefully third time will be the charm.

So the next week will find us getting the boat ready to leave for a few months. We have to "shrink wrap" the bottom end of the engine so it does not rust in our absence!, amongst many other things, so we will be busy prior to our July 1st departure.

October 6, 2005

As some of you should already know, we returned to Esprit to make engine repairs. Chay rebuilt the engine in 3 days and she is running better than she ever did before. We are now cleaning, inventorying, and doing a few last odd jobs before heading out on Monday for the Criterium business conference in South Carolina. After the conference, Jamie will compete at the Fall National Karate Tournament at Disney World in Orlando.
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