Sunday, February 28, 2010

Safe and Sound

Hi, buddy. All is well. After waiting at the government building from 5AM to 9, we were allowed to go upstairs and wait. That is where we first saw the news about the quake and heard about the tsunami warnings.  We got back rather late yesterday, really happy to be away from the craziness of Guayaquil: racing in taxis through terrible traffic, pushing through continuous crowds, waiting in lines for hours, standing on hot, crowded buses, wishing I could really speak the language. We left with 30 day extended visas in hand, carrying our new little Acer computer, exhausted, hot and sweaty in well-worn clothes, lucky to have a ticket in hand for the bus to Salinas. It took us about 2 hours to get back to the cool breezes of the ocean and the sanity of Puerto Lucia Yacht Club and Sidewinder. I was thankful to see both Elysion and Spirit still anchored in the bay and we did have a chance to bid farewell to Jerrold and Ans, who leave for the Galapagos this morning. Steve and Josie have to wait a few more days for official check-out, which they were told would happen on Friday. 

So much of life here, for most people, is waiting in lines, for hours and then being told to come back tomorrow   I am always looking for logical reasons behind the inefficiency of the system and, of course, poverty, lack of education and development, all due to much of the colonial history I know so well, play a huge role. This experience seems to be so much  about the Ego and the need for power. Those in control of the government, those who work for the ones in power, the members of the military who run the show with arms and uniforms, all have a vested interest in keeping life as it is. I think of our own modern history of trying to find justice and rights for all people, and I do realize how that struggle continues on. Our "efficient" society certainly still does not function equally for all US citizens who need help!  Luckily we are a bit ahead of Ecuador and many more of our people receive the benefits of modern technology and conveniences of efficient systems. Who knows, if those with power will ever give in to making important changes necessary. Like in the US, those who have their rights many times do not feel the need to campaign for those who don't have them. Mario and Gallo, the directors of this exclusive "Club" do not believe change will ever come to Ecuador, but, of course, they are certainly not working to make it happen! Luckily, we did meet many wonderful Ecuadorian people over these  last few days, who took the time to help us finally get our visa extension, find a computer at a reasonable price, and discover nice inexpensive places to stay and some good restaurants with tasty food. That definitely helped us survive with hope!

I have been writing this with the new little computer and it will certainly take time to get use to it! It is super sensitive  and it takes away sentences when i. YIKES!!  t wants to! See what it just did?  HEL)P!    -Suzi

Saturday, February 27, 2010

To the Worriers

I haven't heard from Suzi and David since the earthquake in Chile this morning. I assume they are either still in Guayquil working on getting their visas extended or on their way back to Puerto Lucia. I will post news from them as soon as I receive it. - Kris

Friday, February 26, 2010

Visa Woes

I am sorry for not communicating this week. We have been in Guayaquil for two days, trying to extend our visas for one more month, in case we have any glitches in the installation of the strut, which should arrive here next week.  We supposedly also need an Ecuadorian visa for the Galapagos if we want to stay more than a week. Yesterday we were told the office was closed and to come back at 8:30 in the morning today. So we gathered all the paperwork we knew was needed, got some documents notarized, had passport photos taken, and looked for a new little computer to replace the broken one. We made our way to the famous Malecon, had a beer to refresh our weary bodies, walked to the river`s edge, found a reasonable place to stay, watched a movie in the comforts of our air-conditioned room, went out for a bite to eat, and caught up on some needed rest.

We arrived early to go through the visa renewal process and were told that we needed a ticket to even begin the process. By 6:30 this morning they had already given the maximum tickets out for today! We did manage to find our way upstairs to have our questions answered, but we have to come back tomorrow morning for a ticket in order to ask the appropriate individual for permission to stay 30 more days. YIKES! After much effort, I still do not ask the right questions to find the necessary information I need and people do not offer that detailed information. Why didn´t they tell us we needed to be at the building by 5:00 AM ?! There is a possibility we cannot get special permission for the extension, but we figure that we might as well stay one more night and try.

In February, the government changed all the rules and decided they will only give new visas which are expensive and are for 6-12 months, instead of giving renewals for 60 or 90 days. The woman who helped us this morning said there was a possibility only that we might be given special permission for our situation if we come back tomorrow morning. A while ago I went into meltdown mode and was consoled by my special friend, David, bless his lovin' soul. I have one set of clothes, no hormones, no vitamins, and one set of shoes and the comfort zone of contentment has disappeared. It looks like the rest of our time in Ecuador may be work time, without trips to Mantanita and Cuenca, and here we are. Oh well. We are safe, alive, I just had a fresh orange-papaya juice and am back in the sort of cool Malecon district and we will continue to look for a computer. Wish us luck. I will try to pull myself back together and have some fun, no matter what we are doing! There are many nice Ecuadorians here who have been really friendly and have tried to help us. Enough of this complaining!  Phase II of the boat work is done and David and I will begin Phase III, rolling on the anti-foul coats, next week. I hope that Josie and Steve wait until Sunday to leave because I would love to be able to say good-bye to them, along with our friends on Spirit. They might be leaving Puerto Lucia tomorrow.  We will miss them. Onward to the next adventure of today!  Love to you, S.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ecuadorian Boat Restoration

Here in Ecuador when something gets old they don´t go out and buy a new one; they refurbish what they have. The fact is this practice is common everywhere you go after crossing the USA border heading south. In these areas the labor is cheap and the cost of something new is beyond the budgets of all but a few of the "locals," so fixing what you have is the most common practice. This concept is definitely followed in the fishing industry in Ecuador, and that means recycling the large fishing boats that are used here. These boats are about 50 - 60 ft. long and are completely made of wood grown in the area. Wish I could tell you what kind of wood but I can´t; all I can say is it´s a hard wood that is milled roughly, and it´s a challenge to find a straight board in the bunch.

As is the case with any wood boat, dry rot, worms and the constant motion of the sea takes its toll on these boats, so every few years they need to be yanked out of the water and repaired. Progress has made this task easier for them by using the "travel lifts" here at Puerto Lucia to lift the boat out of the water and move it to a staging area where the repairs can be made. We used the same device to lift Sidewinder out of the water and were moved to the same staging area to do the work needed on her. We have been able to see the compete process of repairs up close and personal, and though it´s been interesting to witness, it´s also very dirty and, at times (like when they are using a chain saw to shape all the boards) noisy as hell!

After lifting the boat out of the water and supporting it in the staging area, the task starts with the removal of all the damaged boards using hand tools and muscle. New boards are then shaped to fit into the open cavities and clamped and nailed into place. Since these replacement boards are about 2 inches thick, the nails are large as well, and a small sledge hammer is used to drive them home. After the new boards are installed, the gaps between the boards are filled with the fibers of coconuts husks that have been woven together to make a long loose rope. This task is performed with amazing proficiency using a series of chisels that spread the boards slightly, push the fiber rope into the joints and cut off the extra. The hammers they use look like a crochet mallet on steroids that weighs about 5 lbs. and has a handle about 1 ft. long. The guys using these tools all day long have arms that look like most people´s legs (not someone to arm wrestle)! After all the joints are filled with this fiber, they are then caulked with something that is mixed up in a 5 gallon bucket and then spread into the cracks using putty knives.

The last tasks are the painting of the complete hull that includes the vessel´s name and the replacement/repair of the prop shaft support and rudder assembly. All this is done in about 4 days! The workers get to the yard at 7:00 AM and leave about 6:30 in the evening, 7 days a week!  We have been able to see this whole process about 6 times now, and the thing that impresses me the most is their tools. A chain saw and a electric drill are the only power tools used. Everything else probably hasn´t changed design in 100 years, and some of the hammers look like they might be that old. The final product may look a bit rough to our standards, but considering what these boats go through day after day, the job is perfect and complete. Even though it has been uncomfortable for us to be exposed to day after day, as a guy who spent most his life shaping and joining wood, it has been a joy to see the work ethic and expertise these guys have displayed. That being said it will still be good to get out of here; we are tired of living on the hard and need to get back on the water. See ya,  David

Here are a few pictures of the Sabos and helpers working on Sidewinder. (Check out David's very distinguished beard.) I'm not sure where they wanted me to put them. - the Blogmistress

Friday, February 19, 2010


We have not left for our travel up the coast yet and hopefully that will still happen on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday now.  Alfredo lightly sanded the first coat of epoxy paint we so diligently spent two days applying, and hopefully, the spraying starts today. We met some great people from Maine who are on race boats on their way around the world with about 28 other yachts and had great fun sharing life stories with them; when they all left yesterday, we waved good-bye, hoping to see them again someday in the future, perhaps even with a chance to explore the East Coast and the Chesapeake Bay.  David and I are also finishing up the last of the little projects of reorganizing and fixing stuff, and we are anxious to get on with our water adventure. Looks like Machu Pichu might be something I will have to do later in life, and I am quite disappointed. We are checking out the possibility of going to Choquequirao instead. Our cruising friends, Jerrold and Anns from Holland, are putting into the water tomorrow and will be off to the Galapagos the week after; we hope to play a last bocce ball tourney today with them and Josie and Steve from England, have Friday sundowners, and do the barbeque place in Salinas his evening. My, what a busy schedule we have!

(Later the same day) As of now, we either have to move back to the chain-saw boat-building fishing area, or we need to wait for two sailboats near us to move before spraying. Sooooo, we have chosen to wait and hopefully will start spraying tomorrow or Monday. We hope it is tomorrow since we are anticipating a tour of the coast north of here before phase III, the bottom painting begins. I have learned quickly, though, that patience is truly a virtue in the cruising world, and we need to take one day at a time. 

Meanwhile, I send photos of fun times with our friends Jerraldo and Annis from Holland and  Josie and Steve from England.  Soon they will both be leaving for the Galapagos, with Sidewinder not too far behind them. The next pictures are of great people we met from the Around the World Race/Rally group, ARC, who just left here yesterday on a race to the Galapagos after a week here in this crazy little, unstable marina. It truly was a rock 'n' roll scene!  Bill and Rosemary from Crazy Horse and Bob and Maggie on Jasper were really great people from Maine, and some day we hope to see them again. How fun would it be to sail on the Chesapeake Bay with them or to ski the Rockies. I believe we will meet up with them somewhere, some way.  The last picture is of Alfredo finishing up the very fine sanding of our first layer of barrier coat epoxy, tediously painted on by David, Suzi and Alfredo. Life is to be embraced!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Yesterday I joined the girls on their walk, run, stretch, talk workout and it was great fun!  From left to right are Nen (Marisol's sister), me, Marisol, and Gladys, Marisol's best friend. They laugh, cry, give each other high fives and hugs, and when they walk, they are constantly talking. Their bubbly energy and strong desire to analyze and help each other solve problems reminds me so much of my own group of awesome friends.  I miss you all so much. Happy Valentine's Day. Love, love, and more, love.  Suzi

Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy Valentines

Here are a few pics, sharing some enjoyable times with Ecuadorian friends who help us speak Spanish, while they practice their English.  Alex had dinner with us one evening last week on Sidewinder, and we shared an awesome marina sunset.  Gladys and Marisol are fast friends who walk each morning to get exercise and solve all the problems they can. (Doesn 't that sound familiar?) Tomorrow Carnival begins, so I am sure there will be more pictures to come!  Many hugs and love to all!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Super Bowl Sunday

YAHOO for the Saints! Watching the Super Bowl game at a sports bar in Salinas, Ecuador was a great way to end a week of finishing up the last of the filling of hull holes, doing catch-up projects, trying to ignore the daily whine of the chain saw being used to rebuild an old fishing boat, and listening to the first full day of rain from inside Sidewinder, as it liquefied the dirt on her deck.  Highly motivated, we pleaded with Andreas to move us to the quiet end of the marina, and successfully we have relocated. Ah!!!  No more constant loud, obnoxious  buzzing!

The change in the weather brought thousands of peaceful winged ants who huddled on the deck in strange clusters and as the rain came, they either found safe protection under shit on the deck, or they perished. David and I moved sails and other stuff into a newly purchased old storage box, and I spent a few hours yesterday massacring hundreds of non-biting ants and cleaning Sidewinder´s deck for the first time in weeks. PHEW! She is such a happy boat once again! Today, Alfredo will finish filling the last of the tiny holes, and then they will sand her one more time. We hope they will begin the painting of the protective epoxy coats and finally we will finish with the anti-foul layers later this week or early next week.

With two single-handed cruiser friends, Tim, who is on his way back to Oregon after sailing thousands of open seas miles, and Dave, on his way to Peru and then back to Colorado, we taxied to a new sports bar owned by an ex-pat to watch the well-deserved sensational Saints topple the Colts. We met some other interesting gringos from Pennsylvania who were vacationing in Ecuador and drank many huge bottles of $1.50 Ecuadorian beers. It was great fun celebrating such success with the Saints!  Life is good!

We are working on getting our permission to anchor in three to five places in the Galapagos and have heard from some other cruisers there that the money spent on the autografos is well worth it. We are also still hoping that the train tracks up to Machu Pichhu are going to be repaired by March so that we can still go there for our land adventure. We shall see. Love to all, Suzi