Friday, February 29, 2008


Gettin' Around again

Jonesy performed his magic on the broken windlass gear after the parts arrived and we are now mobile again! Whoo hooooo! Plans are to leave here this Sunday and sail north to Chamela Bay, then onward to the Sea of Cortez.

In the meantime, we took a the 10 peso ($1 US) bus ride over to the small beach town of La Manzanilla on the south shore of Tenacatita Bay. We could always see this little town from our boat whenever we anchored on the north shore and had always wanted to visit.

After gawking at the crocodiles - giant crocodiles - we walked along a dirt road between the mangrove swamp and the beach. Look verrry carefully at the photo, let your eyes follow the shoreline of the lagoon from the front of the photo back. See the croc? Those are logs in the background. Note the walking path right in front of the croc's eyes...nope, we detoured, but we saw 2 other couples walk right by. Yikes!

This several-miles-long stretch of beach is lined with mostly motorhome/trailer lots with Canadians basking in the sun with a mangrove swamp on the inland side. Along the way we saw a beautiful Roseate Spoonbill bird - pink and large almost like a flamingo with a wide scoop bill. 2 seconds later, we spotted an Ibis with it's long curved bill.

Along the road, we were startled by the most beautiful little bird we've ever seen in the wild - or anywhere for that matter! The back of the bird was deep blue and teal and glistened like jewels, the front and belly were bright yellow! We think it was a Orange-Breasted Bunting.

The beach is wide and flat so we took a looooong walk and just enjoyed the warmth of the sun and the cooler-than-normal air temperatures (in the low 70s). How cool is it? Well, those of you with black dogs will recognize that if the dog is sleeping in the sun rather than the shade, it is not hot outside.

The local fishermen were mending their nets along the shore as we returned from our walk. This bridge is the ONLY paved road in this dusty little beach town - and you can see that it is not in very good shape...kinda sags in the middle. Oh well, that's Mexico.

In town, we checked out the church bells - circa 1981 - gotta start sometime, and the local nursery which had plenty of customers. I used to be such an avid gardener and still like to look. No plants on this boat.

Many small stores - tiendas line the one main road, guarded by sleepy shopdogs who usually don't even bother to raise their heads to look at you. These photos show the entire width of these little stores. That's it. Yet, within these few square feet of space is almost everything you really need.

On the Needles: In an effort to reduce the quantity (physical size) of my yarn stash, I have been knitting thick, warm wool socks for the Akkol orphanage kids in Kahzastan. And, as a challenge from the Socknitters group, we are all trying to learn a different (new-to-me) heel shaping method. I choose the "Afterthought" heel a la Elizabeth Zimmermann.

Here are the socks that I knit holding 1 strand of sport weight and 1 strand of self-patterning sock yarn together. Where's the heel? Not yet! Now I cut a thread at the place of the heel, pick up 2/3rd of the stitches, and knit another "toe"!

So cool! The only issue I had was that I misjudged where the heel should start and ended up with a GIANT foot measurement. Crudolas. So I had to adjust the foot length. Ah, live and learn.

Also on the knitting needles were the extended sleeves for the Nordic Sweater. I used some of the 2-color patterning from the yoke. After adding about 25 more rows, I grafted the cuff back to the sleeve. Voila! Got longer sleeves.

Sure was a lot of grafting - but I use my knitting needles, not my yarn needle, as I unvented last year. This whole sleeve surgery took a lot of different knitting tools. Jonesy thought that the plastic stitch holders looked like the old hair curlers that his older sisters used to wear.

And speaking of tools...Jonesy used one of my Crystal Palace bamboo size 1 sock needles to unclog the drain on the dinghy yesterday! Eeewwwww...but it worked and it was all we had with us at the moment. See, if he thinks of all this knitting stuff as "tools" then he won't mind so much of it being on the boat!

Friday, February 22, 2008



Hmmmm...why is our boat tilting ever so slightly to the port? Do we have a lot of weight over on that side? No....that's not it.

Hey! Who raised our waterline paint up a few inches? Are we now a few thousand pounds lighter? No....Are we imagining it? No...the "tiltameter" thingy that shows how far we are listing is showing about 4 degrees of tilt.

We're STUCK in the MUD! Hit bottom! Aground on terra-firma here in the Barra de Navidad Lagoon! Land-based again. Landlubbers. How could this happen? Sure, everyone knows that the lagoon is really shallow, but we know where to anchor and this part of the lagoon certainly isn't it. We should be over nearer those other sailboats.

Well, the story is that our massive electric windlass decided to break a gear right as we were anchoring here in Barra. We are powerless to hoist the anchor and move - where the anchor lays now is now is where it's gonna stay until we fix the windlass. The wind pushed us over here to the shallows and as bad luck would have it, there have been exceptionally low tides this past week. So low that our dinghy doesn't float up against the seawall at the Sand's Hotel where we go ashore, and we can see the bottom sand bars that we've never seen before.

So we float at high tide, and sit on the bottom at low tide. It's a little un-nerving - plus I can't flush the head when we are aground as the intake pipe will suck mud (ask me how I now know this).

Fix it? Oh, sure...let me just get the parts. Ha-ha-ha-ha. They are in Rhode Island in the United States. Get on Skype, phone small family run manufacturer of this 25-year-old windlass. Yes! They still have parts - and are very helpful. Have parts overnight shipped to fellow cruiser visiting daughter in Los Angeles. Wait for said cruiser to come back to Mexico - this Sunday? Don't even ask how much this all costs.

In the meantime, Jonesy has been pondering how he's going to get this massive, heavy structure off of the deck and out into the open so he can work on it. He dreams of this stuff during the night. His every thought is about the windlass. I say "How about tacos for dinner?" He replies, "If I build a pile of anchor chain up in the anchor locker, then I can let the windlass drop down only a couple of inches."

So, the work of removing the windlass from the foredeck has begun. All of this has to be done from either inside the chain locker at the very pointy end of the boat (bow) where it is dark, dank and smelly from tropical growth on our chain while anchored. The flipside is the work up on deck in the tropical sun. Thankfully, it has been rather chilly these past few days - in the low 70's and down to the 60's at night! Brrrrr.

Success! We both heaved and ho'd and got the gearbox into the galley where there is light and a nice working space for Jonesy to work. It's now all ready for it's new parts! (Note the sweatpants! That's how cold it's been!)

Of course it isn't all work and no play. We've been having a great time hanging out in our favorite places here in Barra de Navidad and visiting with our cruising friends. We've had some great conversations with tourists and have learned many interesting things about their lives back in the states. We had the pleasure of a total eclipse of the moon.

And then there's the knitting...

Remember the Lopi Nordic Cardigan? Well, the recipient has longer arms than I have - so I offered to perform surgery to lengthen the sleeves. Carefully, oh so carefully, I cut a thread and unknit a row of stitches separating the hemmed cuff from the sleeve. Now, I am knitting some additional inches of patterning. Next, I will graft the cuff back to the sleeve. Because the sweater's new owner is also thinner less muscular than I am, I don't have to worry about the width. It's actually kind of fun!

Also on the needles, have been a series of hats for the Akkol orphanage in Kazatstan. I dug out some handspun wool I had bought on eBay and some leftover Noro Kuryon wool and knit up these two adult sized hats. Hard to believe that the gray handspun is all from the same sheep, isn't it?

Still on the hat mode, I tackled a skein of wool that I had hand-dyed a couple of years ago in vibrant shades of orange
. Voila! Another hat. Next up...socks in worsted weight wool. Just plain 'ole socks for the Akkol teenagers. This is the first time that I have knit socks with this thick of yarn! Wow - they sure knit up fast, and they should keep somebody's feet warm too.

And finally, when I had the blue yarn for the socks, and the orange yarn for the hat out and sitting next to each other I noticed that they looked GREAT together.

So, I knit another hat. This hat has a very deep turned inside hem to keep ears warm. Plus the stranded two-color knitting is extra thick. I had so much fun working out the design for this hat that I wrote it up in 3 sizes, worked out charts and line-by-line instructions and published it! It is now available on my website SailingKnitter Liann Originals

Busy, busy week. Hope your's was great too!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Sailing North (and knitting all the way)

We've survived the 35-hour bash coming up the coast here to Santiago! Sure was rough and wet, enough bouncing up and down that screws came undone out of one of the ceiling fixtures. During the day we saw whales, dolphins, 2 kinds of sea turtles, and flying fish. At night, the sky was filled with stars. I took the night watch as usual, and knit up a sock. Give me a pot of coffee and some nice wool yarn and I'm a happy camper sailor!

TWO more pairs of Socks for Soldiers are complete - these socks have toured a lot of Mexico with me in my purse. The yarns used are Regia for the brick colored pair and Twister 4-Color for the multi-colored pair. My stepdad picked these yarns up for me in Germany. I now have 4 pairs of soldier leisure socks and a beanie waiting to be mailed to "Sarge" our fearless leader of the group who then sends them to US Service personnel overseas. That will have to wait until I get back to the states.

Here's the current project - another pair of socks (go figure) started with another colorway of the Twister 4-Color. Strange how it's not just the colors that are different, but the way the stripes result. The yarn also felt different with the pink socks being much softer.

Also on the knitting needles these past few days is Joney's Land and Sea Gansey sweater and it's almost done! I only have to sew in one more sleeve and do the neck ribbing. This has been a really fun knit in Cottage Craft wool.

We're just hanging out here in the Santiago Bay anchored off of Playa La Boquita. To one side of us is a natural jungle area with a rocky beach and to the other side is a popular resort beach. As we get more into the dry season the hills are starting to turn brownish gray.

To get to town, we ride our dinghy into the opening to the estuary, watch the surf behind us, then zoom into the narrow channel. We follow the channel, go under the walking bridge for an exclusive resort, then turn towards the beach.

Here we drop the dinghy wheels down into the water then drive up onto the beach. Get out. Drag dinghy up above the high tide line. This beach on the estuary river is quiet now, especially mid-week, but it will be PACKED with Mexican vacationers during the weeks before and after Easter Sunday.

Next we dump our trash in the dumpster, and walk about 1 1/2 miles along the beach in front of the little palapa restaurants, then past resorts and private homes mansions. Finally we climb up the stairs to the road. Get on Bus. Ride to town of Santiago - or into Manzanillo if we want to shop at a supermarket.

The walk along the beach is great - flat hardpacked sand and gentle waves. It's a good chance to get some exercise and be able to walk at a brisk pace. Around the towns in Mexico here we have to slow down and watch our feet because the streets and sidewalks are in such disrepair and/or have dangerous holes or bizarre obstacles.

Hmmmm...even on the beach! We encountered this pack of horses on the beach.

Today we just stayed on the boat. Jonesy worked in the bilge replacing a faulty bilge pump switch. I knit (what? what did you expect?).

There are about 22 boats in the anchorage now. We saw a wonderful display of humpback whales breaching up out of the water yesterday! What a show they put on for us!

This evening, we ate our dinner of grilled whole chicken, rice & tortillas that we bought yesterday on the way home for Manzanillo when the bus driver stopped to buy some. You won't see that in the states - a bus driver stopping along the road to buy chicken from a street vendor! Afterwards, dinghy'd over to the sailing vessel Coastal Passage for a game of Mexican Train Dominoes. Here we all are along with the folks from the sailing vessel Synchrony and South Wind.

Aren't we a good-looking group of cruisers?

Monday, February 04, 2008


Zihua Sail Fest

There's Niki Wiki in front and slightly to the during the Sail Parade in Zihuatanejo with our marvelous guests aboard...Hi Pete from Kansas City!!! Hi Sandi - thanks for mailing our letters in the states for us! Hi to all the other guests who we saw again at the beach Bar-B-Que.
photo credits: Photo Latitude / Andy© 2008 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc

Saturday, February 02, 2008


Zihua Sail Fest - Sail Parade

Forgive me knitting goddess for I have's been 2 days now since I have knit. We're just way too busy playing in all of the Zihua Sail Fest 2008 events!

Today was the Sail Parade event and we took the Niki Wiki out with 9 guests aboard! What fun! Perfect weather: sunny, 85 degrees, gentle sea breezes at first, then real wind for sailing in the early afternoon. We left Zihuatanejo Bay and sailed out towards Ixtapa along the coast. I'm sure we had the nicest guests in the fleet!!

Our guests each donated $250 pesos/$25 US to the Sail Fest organization for the ride today. Sail Fest raises money for Netzahualcoyotl Multilingual Primary School and Kokoyotzin Kindergarten for Indigenous and Other Children - very poor kids, some of whom speak only indian dialects, no spanish. Because these kids cannot afford shoes or school uniforms and do not speak spanish, they can't attend the public schools.

Because the kids live so far away, up in the remote areas, this special school has dormitories for them to stay the 4-days a week of school

The cruising community partners with local businesses, local ex-pats, and tourists to have fun while raising money for the schools. Another event we attended was one of the seminars that was held at Rick's Bar, aka "Cruiser Central".

The "Southbounders" seminar was led by two cruisers who talked about their experiences traveling along the Pacific coast of Central America. As you can see from the photo this lecture was well attended. See? We're not the only ones planning to cruise our sailboat to this part of the world.

As we are planning to do this next season, we were all ears for what they had to say. Jonesy took along our cruising guide book for the area so that we could follow along and look at the charts of the different anchorages.

Earlier in the week, Sail Fest had the traditional Chili Cook Off and Street Fair. At most of the events there is a raffle drawing and ya gotta be there to win. So wins for us. What is so hard about picking the ticket with Niki Wiki written on the back??? Geeez guys.

I guess the excitement of the raffle was a bit too much for old Pirate - the little crew dog of the sailing vessel Enchantress as this little doggie fell fast asleep in Dick's arms. Cruising dogs have early bedtimes too.

Tomorrow is the grand finale Bar-B-Que on the beach. Of course we're going to attend - ya gotta be present to win the prizes!!! This is a photo taken from the beach looking out into the anchorage. Yep, we're one of those boats there - yep, the white one, you know, the one with the mast...

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