Thursday, November 29, 2012

Zoo Visit Number Two

One or two more blog posts before we leave La Cruz. 

The plan is to go out to dinner with friends tonight at Tacos on the Street (Tacos en la Calle), untie from the marina slip tomorrow, stay in the anchorage for one night, and then leave Saturday morning - December 1st, 2012 for Chamela (see the new Map page - the most southerly blue marker). 

Today is Kyle's last day at Colegio Salzmann. We were worried he'd be sad saying goodbye to his friends and he is a little bit, but his sadness seems to be far outweighed by his enthusiasm to go see new places.  

Back when we still had Ken's truck here in Mexico, every time we talked about going somewhere on the weekends, Kyle would ask if we couldn't go to the zoo again. We were waiting for the weather to cool off a bit and it finally has (although we are still running our air conditioner most days). So a couple weekends ago we headed to the other side Puerto Vallarta near Mismaloya to visit the zoo. It is about an hour's drive from La Cruz. 

This was my first visit to the zoo. It was definitely unlike a visit to the Albuquerque zoo. Here you are actively encouraged to feed the animals. We bought one snack box which comes with many different snacks for the animals - bread, corn, carrots, etc. in little brown paper bags. The animals love the snack bags and come over to see you. I enjoyed giving them snacks, but hated to see them fighting with each other over the snacks. 

Feed me first!  

Snacks for the dromedaries

Kyle and the giraffe. 

These llamas remind me of the early Dr. Doolittle movie

Pigs, goats, and bunnies all in one cage

This gray baboon very carefully took the snacks out of our hands.
He even has freckles. Seems like he must get sunburned.  

Beating the heat. 

Most of the cage areas and the walking paths were nicely shaded and the animals seemed to have ample water and be well fed. It felt a bit like walking through a subtropical jungle.   

Tiger watching Kyle as he walked by. Uninterested in adults. 
As cute as they were, we didn't pay extra to play with the tiger cubs. The cost is something like $20.00 per person to go into the tiger cub cage.  

Suggestion for anyone going to visit the Puerto Vallarta Zoo - buy at least two boxes of snacks. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Wind Generator - Installed

When we are not in the marina and are spending time at anchor or sailing we have to charge up our batteries by running the diesel generator (the genset) or by running the engine. If we aren't motoring somewhere, this usually means running the genset for a few hours every few days. Now that we have a wind generator we are hoping to run the generator less while we are at anchor. 

Close-up of the wind generator
Ken finished installing the wind generator about three weeks ago. It's a Superwind generator - high quality and known for being quiet. There were quite a few steps involved in installing it. To make it solid Ken wanted a backing plate underneath the hull and a teak block to above decks to spread the load appropriately. Ken had to have a 3/8" stainless steel backing plate made for it in Puerto Vallarta and then had a special piece of teak cut by our neighbor and master teak carpenter, Ron. Then he carefully sanded away the teak block until it fit the curved hull perfectly and still allowed water to drain around it. You do not want the strains of supporting a significant load on a nine foot lever arm to damage the deck or to leak. Drilling a bunch of holes in the deck always makes a boat owner nervous. Not to mention, patching up a mistake would be ugly (we didn't have any mistakes). The mounting does not look like much but a lot of work went into it. 

The teak base plate and the electrical wiring
After the wind generator was securely mounted, Ken ran the wires under the cockpit and down to the batteries. It is always fun to wiggle around all the stuff under the deck in hot weather. Ken said it makes him feel like Houdini. It's good he's not a 6'2" linebacker.

Then he installed the charge regulator so as not to over charge the batteries. The charge regulator is supposed to be close to the batteries to sense their temperature. Of course there is no easy place to install it near the batteries so he had to wedge it in. Ken had to use his special Dremel right angle head to drill the mounting holes in the tiny space. Dremel tools are a must on a boat. This reminds me of the Car Talk guys - Click and Clack. They liked to say, "Each project is an opportunity to buy new tools!" Luckily Ken already had all the necessary tools.  

Waiting for wind

The machine shop guys who made the backing plate and some pieces for the hatches.

The on/off switch inside the boat 

Since the wind generator generates power whenever there is enough wind (more than 11 knots) Ken also had to install and wire the dump resistors. When the batteries are full the charge controller sends the energy to the dump resistors where it is turned into heat. 

Now that the wind generator project is done, hopefully it will stay together and minimize our use of the noisy, smelly genset so we can live at anchor in tranquility and still be able to power our computers and all that other stuff. We are very pleased with how quiet it is. 

Of course right now we are still pretty happy to be in the marina where we can use shore power to run the air conditioner on hot days and easily get in and out of La Cruz to take Kyle to school. 

Our schedule - Ken just sold the truck in Arizona and is flying back to Puerto Vallarta on Monday. Within two weeks we hope to be packed up and will set sail. First stop, about 70 miles South of La Cruz - Mexico's Costa Alegre - Tenacatita, Bara de Navidad, and other great spots.  

Thursday, November 15, 2012

First Lost Tooth

Kyle's first tooth came out last week.  He waited very patiently for about two weeks while it loosened up and was finally ready to come out.  

Kyle got his tooth out to show Ken after dinner. We had a near crisis as I swept up the crumbs off the kitchen table and tossed the crumbs and the tooth in the sink. Luckily I found it and the tooth fairy came, or maybe it was El Raton. In Mexico it's a ratoncito, a mouse, that comes and takes your tooth, leaves a gold coin, and apparently eats the tooth!    

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fishing Tournament

Each day we drive by large posters in La Cruz advertising the fishing contest that happened in October and Kyle asks, "When are they going to take those posters down!?"    

Marina La Cruz hosted a sport fishing contest in mid October. The fisherman competed to see who could catch the largest Sailfish (Pez Vela), Marlin, and Tuna. Kyle was not happy to see the posters and threatened to unfriend Emiliano if he partook in it. Luckily Emiliano didn’t have a power boat to go out in, but he certainly would have liked to have joined in. 

167 kg (368 lbs) on the left and 52 kg (115 lbs) for the prize winning fish
The size of the winning fish was staggering, at least for those of us who don’t usually go to fishing contests. The first place winners each took home a small economy car. Compare this to the $2.4 million dollar prize for the biggest fish at the Bisbees Black & Blue Marlin fishing tournament in Cabo San Lucas in October (winning fish size - somewhere north of 400 lbs). The entrance fee? A mere $60,000 to be in all the tournament levels each day. Another version of high stakes gambling. Our marina neighbors on the boat Journeyman told me about the Cabo San Lucas tournament. While they didn't win at the Bisbees in Cabo San Lucas, they did win a truck in a fishing tournament earlier in the summer.   

I wonder how much fishing Banderas Bay can sustain? There are some limits on the the number of fish that each person can catch, but I'm not sure how well it's enforced. 

When will they take the posters down? We tell Kyle the posters will probably be up for a long time since people will look at them and think about going out fishing while they are here in La Cruz. It's good advertising.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Salty Bike

We had a big event just a few days ago. Right next to the boat Kyle tipped his bike over into the water. He lay down on the dock and cried for a minute or two. He said it was the worst day of his life and listed off all the things he wouldn't be able to do on his bike anymore, no more riding his bike up to the truck each morning before school, no more riding around with his friends, and no more riding his bike with us on chores. A huge tragedy!  

I tried to swim down to rescue it (it sank very quickly) but didn't have the lungs for it (probably 10 ft down in murky water). Ken came home shortly after the disaster. He put on some fins and a diving mask, dove down and managed to rescue the bike. 

Ken was a hero! Kyle wanted to pay him all the money he had in his little bank. We suggested a simple "Thanks."  

Let's hope the bike lasts while we are here in La Cruz despite the saltwater treatment.