Saturday, August 20, 2016

Mad Dash To Los Jobos

Susi and Henk from Windhover
Yes, we are procrastinators.  There.  I've admitted it.  Since we arrived here in Salinas over a month ago, we have been putting off our trip into Los Jobos to get acquainted with our hurricane hole.

After listening to the forecast this morning, our procrastination came to an end but it looked like tomorrow would be less windy for making the ten mile dinghy trip.

Goodbye marina and protected waters...
Before I was even out of my jammies, Henk knocked on the hull to tell us that THEY were going to run out there and wondered if we wanted to tag along.  OF COURSE we do!  Safety in numbers and all that.  Our outboard engine is not the most reliable and that's a pretty long distance for our little "family car".

Rounding Punta Arenas
Henk and Susi helped us drag our dinghy over the dock to splash it without moving the boat (we are backed into our slip with no room to maneuver the dinghy off of the davits).  Then we followed them out of our cozy bay and into the wind!

Well so much for the wind being lighter early in the day.... It was already blowing and the waves were pretty big for a small dinghy... but bouncing along with the warm water dousing us entirely was a hoot!

Our turn to lead... we've got the iPad with the chart!
We haven't had this much fun in a while!  We had to stop a couple of times to work on the outboard... The outlet for the raw water flush kept clogging... and by the time we reached the turn into Los Jobos it sounded like our spark plugs had fouled... so Bruce had to change them out...  Sigh...

The entrance.  Turn to port just past those markers...
Bruce was becoming more and more agitated by the time we reached the estuary...  He was worried that we had used up about 2/3 of the fuel in our tank... We never run it wide open like that so it was sucking it down...  And why does "adjusting the throttle cable" keep getting pushed further down on the "to-do" list anyway...  Bigger sigh...

Not my best side...
So we motored slowly into the area where the chart shows the most shallow water and I started checking depths as we crept along.

We bought our little hand held depth sounder in 2011 and it's still working like a charm.  It only reads when you're going kind of slowly, but that's our only complaint.

Our track into and out of Los Jobos
The most shallow spot we found was about 7 ft.  That's plenty for us to get in with the big boat.

We tested near the banks and up into a sort of cove... It shallowed up there fast!

The open bay to the left of our track is where we will probably find our spot.  Of course we will talk to the locals when the time comes... but it is my understanding that we will park our nose up into the mangroves and tie on.  (That way our rudder doesn't get bounced on the bottom, risking damage.)  Then we will put out two/three anchors spreading out from the stern.  There should be plenty of room for lots of boats up in the estuaries.

There is no way for big waves to form in such a short distance with the mangroves all around... and the narrow, shallow entrance will help keep the surge to a minimum.

The plan was to continue on around the bay and into the next one but Bruce was too worried about our fuel consumption.

So we left Susi and Henk doing their depth survey, hoping to be able to share their results... and we took off homeward bound!

On our way out of the estuary we saw several manatee rolling and flopping their huge tails.  They were shy and didn't want their picture taken, but I did get this one big mud cloud.  One powerful woosh of a tail stirs up a boiling mess of stinky swamp bottom mud...

The green track was just over 10 miles.
Of course going back WITH the wind was much more fun (and faster) than going against it.  We whooped as we surfed on the big waves and we made the trip back to the marina in half the time our outward bound trip had taken.

And we used a LOT less fuel... so we didn't need to do all of that worrying about running dry... BUT... we had only about two tablespoons (slight exaggeration... but not really) of fuel left in the tank... so there's that.

So.  Now we have a visual and feel a lot better about going into Los Jobos if this storm comes our way.  Hopefully we won't have to initiate our storm plan..because it's a LOT of work... But we are doing some of the little things so that we will be ready.

Our Hurricane Plan 2016

Early Days Invest 99L August 20, 2016
Let me start by giving proper credit to Deb and Tim Akey on Kintala.  They have been so kind as to share their very comprehensive plan with us.

I have submitted this plan to our insurance as a part of the initial process of obtaining insurance for boats wishing to remain in the Caribbean during hurricane season.  It has been altered to reflect our plans and both times it was approved... although the second time, the underwriters stated that it was "basically the same" as the previously approved version.  I guess they didn't read it since it was originally placing us down below Grenada in the Trinidad vicinity...  Oh well.  It IS a lot of gobbledygook...

Hurricane Plan for: Dos Libras Make: Catalina
Model: Morgan
LOA: 45’3”

Beam: 13’9”
Draft: 5’3”
Air Draft: 62’5”
Propulsion: Sail/Mechanical
Propane Tanks: 2 X 10lb stored in outside lazarette starboard aft deck

1 X 30lb stored on deck starboard aft for BBQ grill State Registration Number: TX1665BS
US Documentation Number: 1031605 HIN: MRYG0046L495
Insurance: Falvey

We expect to be actively cruising and living aboard year round. Our intention is to be in the waters around Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands during the months of July, August and September (possibly October) 2016. We have reserved a slip for our boat beginning July 15th, 2016 with Marina de Salinas located at the end of Road 701, Playa Ward, in Salinas, Puerto Rico.
Contact information:
P.O. Box 364386, San Juan, P.R. 00936-4386
Phone: (787) 824-4193 (Salinas) Email:
We have spoken to the Marina staff regarding their hurricane policy for boats remaining in the marina during a storm. Depending upon the expected path and intensity of the storm, they will either allow boats to remain with proper extra precautions taken, or in the case of a very strong storm, will advise that boats be removed to a more sheltered hurricane hole.
Our chosen hurricane hole is in Los Jobos (See aerial view below) : Approximate coordinates N17°56.353, W066°15.389. It is our intent to investigate and mark locations and depths prior to any storm threat.
There are persons with local knowledge of this place who can be employed as helpers to get our boat into the mangroves, set up our lines and anchors, remove all windage from the decks and help us get ourselves and our valuables to shore should the severity of the situation warrant these actions.
We will make all final decisions based upon the situation as it unfolds and using the National Hurricane Center and our subscribed service from Meteorologist Chris Parker ( You can find his advice for where to be during storm season here:

Hurricane Holes: Emergency plans if unable to get to our primary and secondary hurricane choices:
Ø Move early to the nearest safe location to avoid crowding
  • Ø  Find a place with short fetch and good holding taking into consideration the
    possible wind direction anticipated.
  • Ø  Set out bow and stern anchors and tie off to mangroves with all available
    lines on all sides using appropriate chafe protection.
  • Ø  Puerto Rico Alternate: Seek shelter in the mangroves in Bahia de Boqueron
  • Ø  British Virgin Islands: Seek shelter in Nanny Cay Marina
  • Ø  St. Croix: Seek shelter in Salt River Marina
  • Ø  St. John: Seek shelter in Coral Bay
    Marina Plan:
    Immediately upon awareness of a threat (prior to issuance of hurricane watch):

    Ø Remove foresail from roller furling. Stow below. Secure furling line.
    Ø Remove mainsail and mainsail cover. Stow below.
    Ø Secure reefing lines and halyards to mast and boom.
    Ø Lash boom to deck.
    Ø Remove bimini canvas. Stow below.
    Ø Remove dodger canvas. Stow below.
    Ø Secure anchor on bow roller.
    Ø Duct tape deck anchor locker completely closed. 
    Ø Pump out holding tank.
    Ø Tape tank vents closed.
    Ø Stow all deck water jerry cans below.
    Ø Remove leeboards, store below.
    Ø Stow boat hooks and net below.
    Ø Secure spinnaker pole on deck.
    Ø Secure cockpit table.
    Ø Add extra (double) 5/8” and 3/4” mooring lines per diagram below. 
    Ø Add extra heavy-duty chafe guards to mooring lines.
    Ø Secure cockpit locker with bundle tie and tape.
    Ø Remove flag and flagpole, store below.
    Ø Check to be sure all documents are packed in waterproof case. 
    Ø US Documentation paperwork
    Ø Insurance policy
    Ø Registration paperwork
    Ø Pack evacuation bags.
    Ø Clothing
    Ø Rain gear
    Ø Flashlights
    Ø Radio
    Ø Phones / chargers
    Ø Computers / chargers
Ø iPads / chargers Ø Passports
Ø Banking records Ø Glasses
Ø Wallets
Ø Verify availability of closest evacuation center.
Ø Review marina specific storm plan and requirements. 
Ø Notify insurance of our location and specific plans.
Upon issuance of hurricane watch:
Ø Lash wheel to stern pulpit.
Ø Lock rudder.
Ø Stow removable seat cushion sections below.
Ø Tape and/or tie cupboards closed below.
Ø Remove solar panels from mounts and store below.
Ø Charge batteries to full.
Ø Deflate dinghy and lash onto foredeck or remove to storage location onshore. 
Ø Package bedding in waterproof bags and stow cushions in vertical position. 
Ø Plug sink drains and duct tape.
Ø Stow fenders below
Upon issuance of hurricane warning:
Ø Check dock lines.
Ø Check chafe guards.
Ø Assure all windage is removed from deck.
Ø Tape hatch seams with duct tape.
Ø Tape port seams with duct tape.
Ø Turn off propane at tank and disconnect.
Ø Turn off AC and DC panels.
Ø Remove food from refrigerator and turn off.
Ø Cycle bilge pump to assure working order.
Ø Top batteries to full.
Ø Remove fuel jerry cans to shore.
Ø Close all thru hulls.
Ø Duct tape exhaust outlet
Ø Duct tape companionway hatch prior to leaving.
Precautionary Measures
(Should be initiated at beginning of each Hurricane Season, and on an ongoing basis)
1.) Have your vessel Hurricane Plan established. Know in advance where you are going, what you are going to do, and when you are going to do it.
2.) Involve a friend or family member(s) in your vessel Hurricane Plan so that they may assist. Initiate a "dry run" to ensure that you are ready for the real thing.
3.) Make sure that your vessel's operating systems are in good working order. Replace fuel filters, inspect batteries/charging system, and keep fuel tanks topped off. Inspect all bilge pumps/connections. Inspect fire-fighting equipment for readiness.
4.) Inspect all working and spare dock lines and ground tackle (check chain and shackles). Ensure that all extra line is in good condition and in an accessible location. Have sufficient chafing gear for all working lines
5.) Devote some time to practice tying your vessel as you would for a Hurricane or severe storm. Make sure that your extra line is of sufficient quantity and strength.

Active Measures
(To be initiated at least 72 hours before Hurricane expected landfall)
1.) If relocating your vessel from a Marina, do it now. The longer
you wait, the more difficult it will be getting to where you are going. Vessels remaining in the Marinas that require relocation to other slips (for purposes of vessel safety and cleat/piling stress reduction) will be moved at this time.
2.) Strip as much as you can from the vessel topsides. Bimini tops, dinghies, motors, sails, roller furling, outriggers, chairs, should be stowed.
3.) Enhance watertight integrity above and below the waterline -seal windows, doors, hatches with duct tape. Shut seacocks, cap off or plug unvalved through-hull fittings such as sink drains. Clear cockpit drains.
4.) Make sure that the vessel bilge is free from sludge, debris, and obstruction. Check batteries, connections, charging system, and bilge pumps/connections again.
5.) Hoses, bicycles, and everything else off piers and docks. Dock boxes emptied.

This diagram is a suggestion and we will revise as needed with actual cleats available once we take the boat to our slip in July

Monday, August 15, 2016

Casa de Caracoles

Imagine you're following friends through the humble streets of this little coastal town on a biking tour... when you come upon THIS!

At first it might look like any other beach house... but upon closer inspection... you realize that every available surface is covered in SHELLS!

Casa de Caracoles has been gaining attention since Jimmy (the owner) retired and began painstakingly creating this work of art.  

We didn't have a camera along on our first visit, but today Bruce and I went back there and had the pleasure of meeting Jimmy in person.  

He had a small bucket of cement and a trowel in his hands and was taking shells from the piles on his driveway and fitting them into some spots where the shells had fallen out. 
These look new.  Wonder where Jimmy will put them...
The wall from outside.
Jimmy was more than welcoming when we pulled up and parked our bikes outside on the sidewalk.  We would have been perfectly happy to stand out on the sidewalk and gawk through the gate.  But when he saw us, he waved at us to come right in. 

Our Spanish is very limited, but Jimmy knew enough English to give us a brief history of the place.  The first question we asked was "How long did this take you?".  The answer?  Seven years. 

We haven't seen many shells around here and we wondered how he could have possibly amassed what must be over a million sea shells...  Jimmy said that indeed there aren't many shells in this area, but that when flooding waters come (I'm assuming from tropical storms), there is a place just up the coast to the west where he finds and collects the shells.

As our eyes scanned the property... our jaws dropped in wonder as the enormity of this project set in...  Jimmy could see that we wanted to take a look around and his invitation to wander freely and treat his house as if it were our own reminded us of one of the reasons we are loving this little town so much.  So we let Jimmy get back to his work while Bruce and I took a look around.

Crabs inside the car!!!
I couldn't wait to get a closer look at that CAR!
I wonder how much weight the shells have added to the car.  Somewhere under all that is a 1993 Pontiac Sunbird!  Do you think the trade-in value is affected by all of this?

A nice touch... critters on the trunk lid.

The entire carport is lined with shells as well!
Stairway to the home on the upper floor.
Leaving the car to go in search of Bruce...I found him on the waterfront.  The gorgeous view is upstaged by all of the little touches.

There's a small rocky beach just beyond the wall.

An outdoor shower

All corners of the property have been shelled!

I think we found some spots he missed!

The inside of the front wall

Even the mailbox is covered!

What a find this is!  There is actually a notation on Google Maps so if you're ever in the neighborhood... stop in and give Jimmy a hug!

We signed his guest book!  On the table covered in shells!