Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas in Costa Rica

     For the first time in many years the crew of Slacker is not on board her for Christmas. We are in beautiful Costa Rica for the next week and will then be returning to Mazatlan. While the holidays are a time for family they are also a time for thoughts of friends both old and new, near and far. Julie and I wish all of you a joyous Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pimp your Engel!

When we first arrived back at the boat this year it was over 100 deg in the cabin during the day.  Whats better in that kind of heat than ice cream?  I fired up our trusty Engel freezer to keep the frozen stuff frozen and it did the job despite the heat.  After a day or so I noticed that it wasn't cycling on and off as usual.  With the ambient temperature so high it just couldn't keep up. 

Solution?  One little computer fan blowing across the condensor did the trick.  True, the fan is on all the time but it draws less than 2 amps in 24 hours and that is more than paid back by reduced run time.  Now we have ice cream all the time and the freezer is back back to its usual 1 minuet on 2 minuets off schedule.  

Tight is right

When you install a high output alternator one of the most important things to keep an eye on is the belt tension.  Too loose and the belt overheats and too tight and you wear out the alternator and waterpump bearings. 

After a few years of using a wooden hammer handle to tension the alternator I decided to add a turnbuckle.  Becaues the turnbuckle is in a different place than the old adjustment arm I used heim joints(rod ends) which allow some degree of mis-alignment.  Mine came from 

Belt changes and adjustments are now a "no tools required" item.

Dock 6 kitty's alter ego

          The other night we watched "How to Train your Dragon" 

So, which came first? 

The Dragon                             or                          Dock 6 kitty?


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Rain delay

Today was the day that we were supposed to finish the remodel of the head/shower in the boat.
Oh, did I fail to mention that we are systematically disassembling the entire interior of the boat to replace the headliner (ceiling) and some wood that had spots of dry rot? All we had left to do for this part of the project was to paint the trim around the sink. When I woke up this morning there were a lot of ugly clouds off to the West but I didn’t think we would get any real rain.


Stay tuned for more on the remodel

Marine Recycling

What do you do with an old head (toilet)?

The first project we tackled when we bought Slacker in 2000 was to redo the sanitation system. New tank, hoses, valves and a new toilet. Over the years our head had served us well. Never clogging, never leaking always faithful. Two years ago we noticed some cracks in the plastic around the pump area. No problem, a little JB Weld and it was good as new. Last year we brought down a new pump assembly and went to switch it out with the cracked one. More cracks were found. Not good. More JB Weld and we made it through the rest of the season. This year we brought down a new head.

Now to the hard part. What do you do with the old one? Marine heads aren’t something you can just run down to the marine store and buy here in Mexico so I figured there must be a market. The head was advertised on our local VHF net every morning but there were no takers. On Saturday we had a swap meet and I lugged it up along with some other stuff I was convinced someone would need. No takers. What to do?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Welcome Cloudbreak

We first met Scott and Janet in 2004 at Paradise Marina in Puerto Vallarta. They had sailed down from San Diego with the HaHa fleet in their Ranger 33 “Vinmar”. No dodger, no fridge, no water maker, no solar. Tuff folks we said. They spent the winter cruising and then sailed back to San Diego in the summer.

A few years later they again came down again but this time with a dodger, refrigeration, solar panels and a new diesel. That year Scott started looking at bigger boats. The Admiral had spoken “get a bigger boat or no more cruising”

Scotts search led him back to Mazatlan where he found a Hylas 42 that had been sitting at the marina for a couple of years. The owner was done cruising and had moved into a condo at El Cid. The boat needed a facelift so once the deal was done it was off to the boat yard and into the hands of Rick Cummings of Mazatlan Marine Services.

Teak decks were removed, hull, deck and mast sprayed with Awlgrip, stainless was gone over and a million other things done. A couple of weeks ago we mentioned to Scott that the customs of the sea require him to host a party when the new name was painted on the stern. “What do we need to do?” he said. “Not much, just beer and pizza for the dock and a short speech by you explaining the new name.

A couple of days ago two guys showed up to put the new name on and Scott promptly shooed everyone away. The new name was covered up and the party was set for Thursday.

Whenever cruisers hear about anything free they show up and pizza and beer is like honey to the bees. Scott made a short speech about the new name, offerings were made to Neptune and then it was official.

Welcome Cloudbreak and her crew. Fair winds and following seas.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Its the end of the world as we know it

It is for me anyway.  Why? Let me tell you.

Wind moves from an area of higher barometric pressure to one of lower barometric pressure. It also moves in a circle but ignore that for now. The greater the pressure differential the stronger the wind. Several times a year a strong high forms over the Great Basin area usually in the 1026-1035 millibar range. Down here in sunny Mazatlan the usual pressure is somewhere around 1010.

On Monday such a high did form and by evening we had 15-25 kts of wind here in Mazatlan. That in its self is not too big a deal. Everyone just hunkers down and waits it out. This time in addition to the big blow there was a storm in Southern California. The wind pushed the cold air in California down to us in formerly hot and sunny Mazatlan. Now don’t get me wrong. Its not snowing or anything here but temperatures have dropped a good 15 degrees.

The net for me is that for the first time this year I have had to turn on the hot water when I take my evening shower. This happens every year, its no surprise but does mark the beginning of the end of the really warm weather. I really like warm weather.

By tomorrow the high will have moved off and things will be back to normal. It will warm up again but not quite as warm as it was before the blow. In another 3 weeks or so a high will form over the Great Basin and we will do it all over again.

It’s the end of the world as far as I am concerned.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Dia de los Muertos

Last Tuesday night was Dia de los Muertos, and it is always a treat to be here at this time of year. The Mexicans have a great tradition of remembering their loved ones who have passed by celebrating their lives. In Mazatlan it gets even better they put on a big party in the Plaza Machado, and then you walk around the old town looking at all the shrines to the dead, but the best part is the Donkey carts in the parade with the free Pacifico Beer. What a way to celebrate and the Costumes and bands and fireworks are just fun! What a night!

"Por Favor! Una mas" 

The girls having a great time! 

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

We are so cool

Each summer when Julie and I are strolling through Target,WalMart or Big Lots we see these small window air conditioners. 

Here is the conversation;
Julie- "what do you think about getting an air conditioner for the boat?"
Mike- "naw, its only really hot for a week or so and then we get use to it"
Julie- "yea, we just have to get use to it." 
Mike- "remember when we get back to the boat we hardly ever see out neighboors?  They are all inside sitting in their air conditioned boats while we are outside getting stuff done."
Julie- "yea, its better to get use to it."

Its been so hot this year that when out friends on Pelagic announced that they were sailing back to California and would be selling their air conditioner we jumped on it.

Now we are just like everyone else.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Last night was the first Venados game of the season for the Slacker crew. Even with a marina that is half full we got 14 people to go to the game. We always arrive too early; the game started at 7:30pm and did not get really going until the final couple of innings. Again the most fun was people watching and watching the Venados mascot.

Joanne gets up close and personal with “Venny”.

The game went into extra innings and all us cruisers were happy to call it a day at 11:30 pm, full of bacon wrapped hot dogs, tacos, beer and peanuts.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


The Dock 6 Kitty unveiled his make-up for Halloween this year and it's...

The "Phantom" of Dock 6

 How the Phantom feels about having his picture taken

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

And away it goes!

There is nothing like the beauty of new, shiny varnished teak. But there is down side here in the semi-tropics, For 6 months Slacker gets to sit here in "Beautiful Downtown Mazatlan" with nobody attending to her beauty regime. The varnish all goes to pot and we spend lots of our 6 months with her scraping and re varnishing. We have slowly worked to get most of her outside painted.  Mind you we still have to varnish, but once you get 5 or 6 good coats of varnish on the teak, you then put on a layer of exterior latex.  We just think of it as her winter coat and another way for her to accessorize.

And the cat watches every move to see if there might be a shrimp under all that old varnish.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Sailboat Again!

We have been here one week and despite the heat and humidity (86 at 10am this morning) We got all the sails and halyards up, the dink and outboard in shipshape and the engine running!  We are offficially a fully operational sailboat again. Yeah!! Now its time for the fun stuff, scraping off peeling varnish, and prepping for paint.

Anyone want to come down and help?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Jova no more

Hurricane Jova turned out to be a bust here in Mazatlan, but down in Manzanillo and Barra de Navidad it hit with vengence.
We wish the best for everyone in those areas. 

We stowed everything in the truck and boat thinking we would have some big rain, and now out it comes again.  Oh well it's what we Slackers do.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Were here! Who's this Jova guy everyones talking about?

We arrived in Mazatlan Saturday about noon. What a difference having an air conditioned car makes. At the end of a long days drive your just board, not board, wind burned and covered with dust. Slacker looks fine after her long summer nap. An extremely rainy summer meant a bit more mold but other than that all is as we left it.

On Sunday one of the dock workers came over and asks if we had heard anything new about the hurricane. "Oh, that was a week ago and it never came anywhere close to here'" then I replied " No the one that will be here on Thursday" he said. "Well, we haven’t turned a computer on since Wednesday" so SURPRISE!

Hurricane Jova should be arriving in Manzanillo which is about 300 miles south of here tonight. It is suppose to cross move inland but following the coast north. As it moves inland across the mountains it should loose much of its strength. We don’t expect much more than 50 knots of wind but should get a lot of rain out of it.  The guys at Rick's Marine Services and Tony's boat watching are running around taking down awnings and checking lines along with the few boat owners here.  So far so good.  We are getting the boat back to livable condition, with a minor hurricane delaying some things for a couple of days.   

Thursday, October 06, 2011

You see the strangest things

While we were repacking the truck Julie snapped a picture of the car parked next to us.  Always interesting down in that area.  We did not see any butts or naked people but will keep a look out. 

Fill 'er up

When the alarm went off at 0530 it was not the first alert of the morning.  My phone began ringing at 0500 and as I tripped over piles of bags to get to it I thought "WTF who calls this early in the morning"?
Well, it was one of our friends in Mazatlan asking if we would zip by San Diego Marine Exchange on our way to Mazatlan.  And by the way, they don't open until 730 in the morning. 
Sure we will.  Anything for another cruiser.  We have always subscribed to the "pay it forward" attitude and it has worked for us in the past.
So at 0700 we were in the parking lot of San Diego Marine Exchange waiting for them to open.  We made good use of the time by repacking the back of the truck.  You see, when we packed it yesterday it was raining and we didn't do that great of a job.  Passersby looked at us like we were homeless and that's kind of true!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Cats and Dogs?

Raining that is. 
For the last 3 years we have left the first week of October and it has rained on us every time.  The new camper top for the truck came in this morning and by 1:30 we were back at the house packing.  The truck was loaded by 3:00 and that's when the rain really started coming down.  Lucky I guess.  It always seems that no matter how much we plan we are always running around until the very end.  I guess that's just the nature of things. 

Monday, October 03, 2011

Out with the old

Out with the old

We bought our van (Morrison) back in 2002. Its been a good car and has never let us down. That is until the last couple of years. On the way back from Mazatlan it developed a wicked shimmy coming from the right side. $600 later all was well. Flash forward to last October when we are loading up to head back to Mazatlan. Strange clicking sound from the left side. Only $350 and its healed. This summer the engine began taking a nap when I was driving. Yep, a nap. As soon as you tried to restart it would fire right up but 5 minutes later it would shut down again. That was enough.

We tend to drive our cars almost to death so there is never any trade-in value. Father Joe’s is a local charity who loves to take cars just like ours. Call them in the morning and its gone by the afternoon.

Bye-bye Morrison.

In with the new

In with the new

After quite a bit of searching we found this 2005 Ford Ranger. Its was super clean and with only 38k miles it fit the bill. Now I just have to get use to driving a manual transmission again. We ordered a fiberglass camper top for the back and as soon as that comes in we are off to Mexico.

! Viva nuevo camiĆ³n

Croquet with Ceildth

We try to get in at least one game of croquet with Jay and Janice each year. Jay got knocked out early and decided to watch from the sideline. I'm sure that Jay & Janice have a ton of pictures like this but who can resist another "boy and his dog" pic.