Ole’s Birthday…and Thanksgiving

November 22, 2012

We passed Ole’s 60th birthday quietly last night, with dinner out at Topolo, a fine Mexican restaurant near Plaza Machado. The building is an old hacienda, and the tables are spread among the open interior courtyard and garden. The waiter was hysterical, cracking jokes in both English and Spanish…the food was superb…and the wandering sax player lent great background. It’s such a treat to eat outdoors on a balmy evening in such an “old world” atmosphere.

The highlight of Ole’s birthday was the gift of an electronic keyboard, with 150 built-in tunes, 200 rhythms, 200 tones, and more features than he’ll learn in a lifetime. He giggled like a little kid when I hauled it up from the v-berth, surprised that in all his unpacking and stowing he didn’t manage to spot it! So now we have a guitar, an accordion, and a keyboard – and we can pass the hat at anchor when we need cruising cash or perhaps join the Salvation Army.

And of course, Thanksgiving was early this year, the day after the big birthday. At the last minute I decided to cook up some chicken, make stuffing, and pretend it was Thanksgiving. After such a nice meal out, we didn’t miss the whole stuff-yourself-silly holiday experience, but it was nice to commemorate the day. Plus we got to test the convection oven for the stuffing. Worked like a champ!

A Night at the Opera

November 17, 2012

Another great evening at the Angela Perralta Theater – this time for a performance of La Boheme, featuring the Sinaloa Symphony, the Theater Chorus, the Mazatlan Children’s Choir, a brass band for the “tattoo,” and great sets and lighting. The singers, all local, were superb – fully as professional and up to Puccini as anyone I’ve heard.

And opera, being opera, the story is, well, an “opera.” Starving artists squeaking by in a Parisian garrett, boy meets girl, girl gets TB and dies. All set to music. Corny as it is, that Puccini knows how to evoke emotion in music, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house as Mimi coughed her last!

Ole’s due home tomorrow noonish – and the boat looks fine, with new deck paint, new varnish on all the exterior surfaces, new canvas rail covers, sun shades, and window covers. I think he’ll be pleased – I know I am.

This time, for some reason, was lonlier than usual. I think it’s because I was alone on the dock for at least half the time he was away, and when folks started trickling back, they seem to have their own routines and friendships to reestablish.

The Season Begins

November 8, 2012

With more and more cruisers coming “home” to their boats here in Mazatlan, the dock is jumping. Little did we know that just astern of our boat at slip 6-28 is the site of the nightly cocktail party, beginning at 4 pm. It’s hard to be a hermit with all the laughing, talking, and drinking just off my swimstep!

BJ and Merry off the sailboat Willow and I went down to Plaza Machado this past week for an Elvis tribute show. All I can say is wow – with a full brass section and 5-voice backup choir from Mexico City, the entire Sinaloa Chamber Orchestra, and his own 5-piece band, “Elvis” rocked the house with the whole Phil Specter “wall of sound” Vegas show. I continue to be impressed with the level of culture here in Mazatlan, with the Angela Perralta Theater, one of the finest modern dance schools in Latin America, and a full-on music conservatory with practice rooms open to the square. It’s quite a treat.

Also got bottom braces this week, just in time for my 61st birthday on the 11th and Ole’s return on the 18th. Que romantica!

Day of the Dead — Just Notes

October 31, 2012

Well, a few of the regular cruisers are straggling back…and heard through the grapevine that Mazatlan has a great Halloween tradition. So a few of us went downtown to Plaza Machado to check it out.

Instead of the traditional visit to the cemetery for All Saints Day, Mazatlan has more of a community costume party and parade…featuring the Catarin and Catarina characters…and four festive burro-drawn wagons with huge kegs that pass out free beer until it’s gone. So I joined Margy and Colin and their friends from Victoria, along with Rick from Magic Places, for a ringside seat and dinner at one of the restaurants – then a stroll around to meet the donkeys who were working so hard.

Changes All Around!

September 20, 2012

Ole was contacted at the last minute to switch to the Azamara Quest for this contract…long story…but as usual everything worked out for him to join the ship in Barcelona.

It’s pretty empty here at the dock, with Rick and Goldene from Magic Places and Rick on Cape Star the only folks on the dock. The good news is that I do have company whether I want it or not – there’s a black cat on the dock who’s lived here on his own for nearly 11 years, scrounging and ingratiating himself with whoever strolls down the dock to feed him. In terms of feral cats, “Slacker” has it made. It’s clearly HIS dock…none of the other 40 feral cats venture down here except a timid little tabby named “Debbie” who Slacker seems to tolerate. [Read more…]

Back Aboard Emma Jo in Mazatlan

August 20, 2012

After 5 weeks in Norway, with Ole working like a lumberjack felling trees, chopping kindling, ripping down a storm-damaged pier with his bare hands, and generally buffing up with physical exertion, I was laid up with a bad back, lending not much more than hanging curtains, keeping the place clean and Ole fed, and “oohing and aahing” at the displays of manly skill.

We got back to Mazatlan to find Emma Jo in fine shape, and Ole impressed with the galley refit and general state of the work. He, of course, had his own punch list of little things for Marine Services Mazatlan and Rick to touch up…but all in all, she’s looking like somebody cares about her.

Ole’s got just a couple of weeks here, then he’s off to work again. I’ll be alone on the dock, pretty much, until the cruisers start coming back south in early November.



June 1, 2012

Splash Day

Splash Day

After 10 weeks in the yard, getting the bottom stripped, barrier-coated, and painted…and the galley torn apart and rebuilt…and the master stateroom demolished to make way for high-tech water tank repair…and new wall coverings in the master stateroom and bath…and new non-skid on the main deck…and a brand new paint job on the blue trim…Emma Jo was launched and motored to her temporary home at Marina Mazatlan.

It went as smoothly as it should have after 10 weeks on the hard…the starting batteries were dead (which we discovered while in the slings in the lift and about to back out); the electrical system was screwed up, with switches in the wrong place and mislabeled; and the mysterious workings of the valves that control the freshwater system onboard led to just hooking up to shore water; and the galley finish work wasn’t finished. [Read more…]

Deconstructing Emma Jo

April 15, 2012
On the Hard, Mazatlan Marine Services
Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico

Demolition is always way easier (and much more fun) than actually fixing things, as the following photos will show.

Galley Chaos

Galley Chaos

Repainting Stripes

Repainting Stripes

First, we covered every conceivable (and some unconceivable) surface with drop cloths, cardboard, and duct tape.

Then, they ground off all the bottom paint, right down to the bare fiberglass, took off the blue stripes, cut out the patches of damaged fiberglass on the fly bridge, and ripped the non-skid off the entire main deck. Dust everywhere.

Next they tore out the galley – bare wood and gaping holes everywhere. [Read more…]

High and Dry…Let the Organized Chaos Begin!

March 24, 2012
Singlar Marina, Mazatlan

Emma Jo High and Dry

Emma Jo High and Dry

Here we are, high and dry, with the accompanying chaos.

Our Tuesday haulout didn’t go as planned, as the north winds kicked up and Miriam, the lift operator, plans methodically for a calm, stress-free haulout. At her recommendation we waited until Wednesday morning, which was perfect.

We entered the lift at 9:05 a.m., and were high and dry by 9:20, with guys armed with a pressure-washer at the ready. It’s the first time we’ve seen a travelift operated by remote control, and with a cute, petite woman at the command. She’s a pro, and doesn’t lift a finger unless everything is perfect.

It was also the first time we stayed aboard until the boat was supported by the sling – the travelift moved us forward, the guys organized a ladder at the front rail, and we just stepped off. Brilliant! [Read more…]

Spectacular Passage to Mazatlan — And a Welcome Reunion

March 17, 2012
Singlar Marina, Mazatlan, Sinaloa

Well I guess we paid our dues the other night rounding Cabo Corientes in that mess.

Our 185-mile passage north to Mazatlan was … dare I say … spectacular. We had little to no wind, with the anemometer showing between 9 and 11 knots relative and subtracting our speed of around 7 knots we can safely say we saw less than 6 knots of real wind the whole 25 hours.

And with that little wind, the sea was almost mirror-calm with little cat’s paws raking the surface every now and then and a gentle swell of 0 to 2 feet most of the way.

During the night we passed two sailboats heading in our direction, giving me practice at identifying targets on the radar at night and verifying what running lights on a sailboat’s spreaders look like. The radio was quiet.

Whales Approaching Mazatlan

Whales Approaching Mazatlan

The icing on the cake was a sighting of humpback whales just after sunrise, a mother and calf feeding not 100 yards off our starboard side. When they sounded, I ran for the camera and hoped they would appear again for a picture…and as luck would have it, they surfaced and blew about 50 yards off the port side.

I could get used to that – but probably shouldn’t. [Read more…]