Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Viva Mexico!

It's a pre-Christmas miracle! We are finally in Mexico!

Celebrating our arrival with margaritas!
 We left San Diego at 5:30am only to turn back because our engine was making a funky high pitched noise. Since it is brand new, only 250 hours on it since Seattle, we had it re-aligned (like re-aligning the wheels on a car) by an engine mechanic when we arrived in San Diego. But, the alignment was a tad off and Tim could hear it, so better to be safe than sorry, we turned back. After a phone call to our mechanic, who was out of town and referred us to another guy, within 1.5 hours, we were back in business, and heading south to Mexico! When we arrived, we treated ourselves to a-mazing margaritas here at Hotel Coral & Marina and a nice dinner as well. We are enjoying this hotel; the facilities are awesome!

The lobby @ the Hotel Coral

What's what with checking into Mexico? For a $25 fee, this marina will take you to the immigration/customs office to get your visa, import permit for the boat and pay any port fees/taxes. When you arrive to the customs office, each window is marked with a number and on the wall, there are instructions on where to go, for which window. It actually seems pretty easy, however our fee included a nice guy who did all the work for us and ran from window to window with our paperwork :)

$25 x 2 for our visas
$20 Port Captain fees (taxes)
$50 Import permit for the boat
$120 later, we were in business!
(make sure to bring your engine serial number and original registration/boat documentation with you!)

Except...when Tim got a 'red' light. This is the Mexican security random check similar to our random security check at the airport in the US! What did it mean? That an inspector had to come out and check out the interior of our boat, to make sure we didn't have anything illegal on board. So, we drove back to the Hotel only to have the inspector come on board, and check that our engine serial number matched the number we gave him at the office. LOL. 3 minutes later, he left and we were checked in!

Port Captain - open from 9:30 - 2pm only!
 The rest of the 'windows'/offices are open from 8-5.

Instructions on checking in - modules = windows.

I was worried about getting Peanut/Olds into the country, which is why we chose to 'check in' to Mexico at this hotel since they do all the paperwork for you. There are two other places to check in to about 3 miles south of Hotel Coral (one is Cruiseport Village Marina, the other Baja Naval, both are cheaper, but you have to do-it-yourself check-in, and no access to swanky hotel amenities, or so I'm told...). When we arrived at Hotel Coral the administrator at the marina said that there was nothing that we had to do to check in pets. We were shocked. He said the only thing we had to do was give him a treat - lol. I asked twice and also asked the guy who took us into town today, and he said the same thing! Talk about a relief! But sheesh, in my other post about Sailing With An Oldsmobile, per the APHIS website and working with the gov. vet, we were required to have letters stating that our dog was vaccinated, examined and healthy, but they said none of it was needed. We decided that had we NOT done all that work, that they would have probably asked for paperwork....in talking with a few folks, it sounds like the regulations are a bit inconsistent, so it's better we have the paperwork than not, for insurance! Phew!

We are planning our route to head to Cabo and plan to be here for the next 2 days. Unfortunately, the weather has kicked up where we are going (gale winds, 10 ft waves, 'green' = bad on passageweather.com) so we may be here until Sunday when the weather clears up....stay tuned.

-K&T (getting our Mexico on finally, woo hoo!)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Saint James aka San Diego

We arrived to San Diego (translated from Spanish meaning Saint James, who knew?) on October 30th. We've been here for 27 days! How time flies! Time to get back to sailing! San Diego is a great place to stop for cruisers before heading south. There are a ton of marina stores within 1 block of each other, pieces/parts are easy to get and thus it makes for an easy spot to do boat projects. Since we worked up until the very last second before we left Seattle, we had a list of projects to do on our boat before heading into Mexico. Sure labor is cheap in Mexico, but it's hard to find parts and when you do find them they are surprisingly expensive, and the convenience of the US stores can't be matched. So here we are, finally getting ready to go into Mexico in T-1 day! We are leaving at 5am tomorrow morning.
Evening view of San Diego across from our marina

A few fun facts about San Diego:
- 8th largest city in the US
- Population ~1.3 million
- Was discovered by Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo
- Average temperature annually is 70 degrees
- Has 70 miles of beaches
- Home to Miramar (Marines, Navy, think Top Gun)
- Has lots to do: San Diego Zoo, Sea World, Balboa Park, Skiing (2-3 hours away), Sailing, Beaches, Kayaking, Museums, Black's Beach (lol! If you're into that, it's the largest in the US!) and much more!

So what did we do here?
Boat projects. Tons and tons of boat projects. I learned how to use a heat gun a strip varnish off of all the teak on the exterior of the boat, sanded it and re-cetol'd it all.  Tim also worked on various projects that we didn't have time to do in Seattle. The boat is finally ready for us to have fun and not worry about!

Naked teak in the companion way, stripped by yours truly.
You can see Tim's work earlier this year to the right and left of it,
need to make it pretty and match!
After, not bad!
Heat gun + putty knife = stripped wood.
Didn't realize a heat gun was the man's version of a hair dryer. lol.
Neglected wood under that varnish from previous owners. 
Sad. TLC here we come!
After. Much better! 
Cetol anyone? Several coats of Cetol on the handrails
and life raft cradle. Pretty wood, finally!

When we weren't doing boat projects, we:

Became bingo players. Between Rhythm and Osprey, we won a total of $350 and 1 turkey - lol - Osprey is up $300 + a turkey and Rhythm, $50. You should see us all dob at the Portuguese Bingo Hall on Thursday nights. LOL. Mindless and mind-numbing entertainment.

We fulfilled one of T's dreams of sailing on Stars & Stripes, one of the America's Cup boats! We trimmed it via the grinders and took turns at the helm! The main sail weighs a whopping 350 lbs, and the mast is 115ft tall. The boat itself was 60ft long and very fast. We got her up to 11knots!
T with Stars & Stripes
T & Richard, grinding 
T hoisting the main sail
T at the helm
Fast! 11kt!
Me at the helm, looking fashionable in my Helly Hanson,
the helm is almost as big as me!
The trimmer cubby, they stay in there all race day!
There was a J Regatta that day,
spinnaker city as soon as the boats rounded a certain point on the race course

We went to The Haunted Hotel to get our Halloween on. It is rated one of the of the top 13 Haunted Houses in America by Haunt World Magazine (who knew that magazine existed??)  And it was scary! From walking through a train wreck, to a dark meat packing room, a room full of scary clowns, and other themed rooms, it rocked!

We had dinner at Fiddler's Green where we met David & Camden, who were sitting at the table next to us. We chatted about our voyage and their potential voyage in the next 2-3 years. They were so generous and surprised us by buying our drinks ! We didn't know until they had left, and we had gotten our bill, what a nice welcome to SD! We hope to see them soon out on the seas! Thanks again David & Camden!

We got our Mexican Fishing licenses downtown; required if you have any fishing equipment on the boat! Here we come tuna!

Went to Balboa Park (absolutely stunning with tons of museums, a performing art center and other attractions) and the San Diego Zoo, one of the top zoos in the US.

Photo of downtown SD from Balboa Park

Balboa Park (bridge)

Santa in Balboa Park

Art village at Balboa Park. Cool ground.

Rhythm & Osprey visit the zoo!

This is the inspiration for that plastic thing on your front lawn.

One of my favorites - the Mandrill rocks. Look at those colors!
Beautiful rainbow-colored snout and a blue bum,
truly amazing!

Click to enlarge and
T 'monkeying' around. Ok that was a bad joke.
Gorillas in the mist..errr...taking a nap.
Brian and those large gorilla feet

"Karen" the Orangutan 
Endangered Malayan Tapir
Panda snacking on bamboo, yum!
My favorite, stripes so unique, perfect and crazy, a work of art
Beautiful zebra butts
Santa and his reindeer, where he stores them, at the zoo
He's a beauty!
Yep, even big cats spray! Yuck.
Big ass bird - the California Condor
T, acting as a Condor

Cheetah, where we get the inspiration for those crazy pants
Sudanese Striped Hyena (with large bone)
Southern Warthog, check out those tusks!
Reminds me of The Lion King!
Sloth Bear, from Asia
Mandarin Ducks, love the colors on these guys! So cool!

We visited Cabrillo National Monument and Lighthouse and had fun with the self-timer on Brian's camera.
Our Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo statue pose

Pure Charlie's Angels here...lol

Hit up Mission Beach (busy/fun beach, think white sand, girls in roller skates, a roller coaster, etc) with our friends Hillary and Bill.
Bill & Hillary

T & K

Had a lovely Thanksgiving with our new friends.
Glen, Tracy, Dane, Kirstin, Hillary & Bill

It's been a great few weeks here, but it's time to move on and start our real trip now that our projects have been completed. We're off to Ensenada to check in to Mexico (62 nautical miles) and then we're heading south to Cabo! Let the trip begin!! FINALLY!  The next time we write it'll be from Mexico using our Banda Ancha wireless device which is said to be faster than the US? We'll soon find out!