July/August 2007 Letter

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Two months have passed since my last update!  We've been in the States for over a month and time just gets away from me when we're visiting family.  Let's see now .. my last update in June had us in Grenada.

We checked out of Grenada and set out for an overnight, full-moon sail to Trinidad on July 2.  Our friends Bob and Marsha Long joined us for the voyage.  They graciously took the helm for half of the night.  How wonderful it is to have "crew" on the overnight passages!  I'd tell you about the sail, but that was 2 months ago and I don't remember much about it.  So that means that (a) it was easy and basically uneventful, or (b) I slept through the night and let everyone else do all the work.  Actually, I think both points are true.

Upon arrival in Trinidad, we took a slip at the Crews Inn Marina.  Bob and Marsha treated us to a delicious lunch at a restaurant overlooking the water, then took a taxi to their hotel on the other side of the island.  We hated to see them go.  We enjoy their company and plan to visit them when we travel through Oklahoma this summer with our grandkids (more on that later).

In Trinidad, we enjoyed socializing with other cruisers and participated in several pot luck parties.  Most of us were preparing for haul-outs and needing to empty our refrigerators.  Mostly, we spent our 2 weeks in Trinidad  preparing Aquila for her 3-month lay up.  There were many things to consider.  For the cruisers who may be interested in seeing our list, I've included it at the bottom of this letter.

A fascinating highlight in Trinidad was seeing the giant leatherback turtles.  We took a bus trip with a tour guide to the remote beaches on the north side of the island.  This is the season for the females to come up on the beach, usually during the evening, to lay their eggs.  It was an amazing experience to watch.  Our tour was during the full moon on a breathtakingly beautiful night.  The giant turtle slowly emerges from the waves, finds a spot on the beach that is suitable, digs a large hole in the sand with her flipper-like feet, and nestles into this dugout.  Then with her hind flippers, she scoops out a deeper hole where she will drop her eggs.  When the egg laying begins, she goes into a kind of trace and is oblivious to what is going on around her.  That is when the guide allows folks to touch her and take pictures.  After she deposits her eggs, she covers the nest with sand and returns to the sea.  I didn't time it, but I think the whole process took about an hour.  It was interesting to watch how she attempts to mess up the sand so as not to leave a trail to her nest.  We also got the opportunity to see and hold a baby turtle that had just hatched the previous day.

On July 17, we left Aquila and flew home to California to spend the summer with our family.  We were both excited to visit the kids, and anxious about leaving Aquila.  My mind was racing with thoughts about what could happen to Aquila while we were away.  However, the funny thing is, once we landed at LAX, Aquila was completely off my mind.  Our world was filled with kids and stories and activities and fun. 

Within 3 days, we were underway on our well-planned PAMOSA!  For about a year, Mike had been researching, making reservations, and planning for "Papa and Mamma's Outstanding Summer Adventure".  We borrowed our daughter's Suburban and 24-foot RV trailer, and took our 4 grandchildren (ages 9, 7, 4, and 3) on a month-long vacation throughout the Southwest U.S. (California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Texas).  We made sure our plan included short driving days, campgrounds with swimming pools and playgrounds, and lots of kid-friendly activities.  We roasted marshmallows in the evening, rented bicycles, played miniature golf, ate ice cream and jumped in the swimming pool every day.  We visited Calico Ghost Town where we panned for gold and rode the old mining train.  We spent a day at the Circus-Circus Adventuredome in Las Vegas where the kids rode roller coasters, won prizes in the arcade, and saw trapeze artists perform.  We took a tour of the Hoover Dam.  We explored the Grand Canyon Caverns after taking an elevator 200 feet underground.  In Arizona, we visited the Out of Africa Wild Animal Park and saw lions and tigers and bears (Oh my!).  The kids had fun feeding carrots to the giraffe.  We spent a couple of days visiting Mike's mom in Arizona, where the kids could swim in their cousins' pool and play video games on their big screen.  We took a short hike in the Petrified Forest and saw 200 million year old logs.  The kids were fascinated by the dinosaur relics and replicas.  We drove through the Painted Desert (the kids didn't care much about that).  We spent 4 days in Colorado and rode the Silverton/Durango Narrow Gauge Railroad, took a real old west stagecoach ride, and enjoyed the waterslides and pools at the recreation center.  In New Mexico we took the Sandia Peak Tram to the top of the mountain.  It was at this point that Keni flew out to meet us and take Kailyn (age 3) home.  She had told us that we could only kidnap Kailyn for 2 weeks.  We said our goodbyes and continued on our journey with our littlest PAMOSA team member missing.  

At the next stop, the kids took a "wet" hayride where everyone had water guns and the wagon was "attacked" by water-hose-wielding bandits.  In Oklahoma, we toured the Oklahoma City National Memorial which generated many questions from the kids and lots of discussion.  All of us were deeply moved.  We spent a day at the White Water Bay water park, where once again the kids could ride the tall, twisting, exciting slides.  We were glad that we were able to visit with our friend Bob who had sailed with us from Grenada to Trinidad.  He is the senior pastor at St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City.  He gave us a tour of his beautiful church.  The kids really enjoyed seeing all the theme-based Sunday school rooms.  In addition to having weekly televised broadcasts of his sermons, he also offers fun 1-minute radio messages which can be accessed via the internet at: http://stlukesokc.mypodcast.com.

Our next stop was Vernon, Texas where Linda's mother, sister, aunt and many other family reside.  The kids got together with cousins and learned to catch toads at night in the field across the street, and the boys got to shoot .22 rifles (gifts from their Uncle Tim).  The annual event called Summer's Last Blast was in full swing that week with antique and classic car shows, motorcycle shows, a tire "burnout" competition, and a Beatle's tribute concert.  We enjoyed it all.  The final and main event was Cruise Night.  The main street in this small town is lined with people, picnic chairs, barbeque grills, ice chests, etc and the "cruising" begins for all pre-registered cars.  They put on an impressive show with more antique, classic and restored old vehicles than I have ever seen!  The party goes on all evening.  Our kids got to ride in the back of Linda's cousin John's old El Camino named "The Black Knight".  Kimberly and Lance flew to Texas and joined us for the return to California.  We stopped for a couple of days in Williams, Arizona and took the Grand Canyon Railroad to the Grand Canyon.  It is absolutely breathtaking!  The kids enjoyed the cowboy shoot-out street shows and train robbery.  We then camped for a couple of days at the Colorado River where the kids did some fishing.  We rented wave runners at Lake Havasu for the grand finale of our family vacation.  What an incredible month.  Everyone, including our kids, thought we were out of our minds to go on the road for a month with 4 small children.  We're lucky that we've got great grandkids who love each other, but they're still kids, and kids are noisy at times!  We had to invent a game called "who can be silent the longest?"  Of course, the game never lasted long enough.  It was challenging at times, but we made wonderful memories that will last a lifetime.

So now we're hanging out with our kids and grandkids in Moorpark and Saugus, California.  We're in the middle of a heat wave here with temps over 100 degrees every day.  It's definitely hot, but without the humidity, it doesn't feel as hot as many of the places we've been since we started our sailing life.  We hope to see some of our old friends here in Southern California before we return to Trinidad on October 9.  The days are just slipping by so quickly.

Click here to see our Photos - I've included some turtle shots in Trinidad and some of our PAMOSA highlights.

Click here to read the next letter home.

Following is our list to prepare Aquila to be left "on the hard" for 3 months:

-Top up the fuel tanks and add biocide

-Empty water tanks and hot water heater

-Flush fresh water through engine, generator, and dinghy outboard motors

-Pickle the SeaRecovery water maker

-Remove and stow genoa sail

-Wax hull

-Exercise thru-hulls and apply WD40

-Close thru-hulls and plug exterior openings with rags (bug prevention)

-Leave one thru-hull open in the cockpit for rain drainage

-Dry and lock lazarettes, batten hatches and portholes

-Cover exterior with tarps

-Cover furlers to prevent dirt getting in bearings

-Install A/C unit to control humidity

-Remove dorades and install flat plates

-Turn off propane

-Change oil in engine and generator

-Empty frig and freezer and leave doors open

-Apply generous bead of grease around top of jackstands (bug prevention)

-Flush heads with some vegetable oil to lubricate the seals and keep them from drying out

-Silicone grease all window hatch seals

-Stow cockpit cushions

-Spray windlass motor and chain with rust preventative

-Wash down entire inside of boat with vinegar and water

-Disconnect main batteries