Tuesday, December 6, 2016

San Juanico

Good morning everyone. It's 0530 hrs., still dark, stars brilliantly lit but slowly fading as pre-dawn creeps slowly into reality. We have had a short but lovely visit to Bahia San Juanico. We've enjoyed beautiful scenery, met really nice folks (sailors and RVer's), walked across the point to La Ramada a small, gorgeous bay just north of here, and collected a pocket full of Apache tears ("smooth, glossy stones of natural volcanic glass known as obsidian" per Shawn Breeding and Heather Bansmer).

Shawn and Heather relate the legend of these stones as follows. "The legend of the Apache Tears began back in the 1870's when the United States Calvary fought against the Apache in Arizona. With defeat imminent, the Apache warriors refused to be held captive and leapt to their death from atop the face of a cliff. The families of the warriors wept greatly for their loss and each tear shed turned to stone upon hitting the earth. It is believed that anyone who carries an Apache Tear will never have to weep again, for the families of the Apache warriors have wept in place of your sorrow".

Friends Margaret and John, on SV Cahoots, have shared their company with us and we've enjoyed our time with them. This morning, shortly after daybreak, both boats will head on their respective ways. So goes the nature of this cruising life. Our 'family' of cruising buddies is a fluid one. We meet old and new friends as we travel from anchorage to anchorage. Some we see more often, others we don't, but the friendships continue with the understanding our paths will cross sometime in the future if they are meant to. Believing we'll see them again is really important because saying goodbye is just too hard.

Last night we sat out on the foredeck, under the spectacular stellar display and listened to the light swish of water falling off the rays' backs as they leapt out of the sea and the booming slap of their bodies as they landed flat upon it. They were showing off around us for quite a while. During the night, when I was up checking the anchor, I was delighted to see us completely surrounded by phosphorescence. Those wee creatures were everywhere -)

Well, I've just heard the sound of Cahoots slipping quietly into the soft dawn. Time to rouse the ships company and get under our own way. We're heading south to Isla Coronados today and then into Puerto Escondido tomorrow (there's supposed to be a big blow starting Thursday... PE is a good place to ride it out.

Hope you all have a great day.... Adios amigos. CJ and K

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Sunday, December 4, 2016

At last... Sailing into the night.

We're sitting here watching carefully as a lightening and thunder 'cell' slides slowly by us. We are (yup, we made it!) anchored in Caleta San Juanico...exactly where Sean and Heather (in their cruising guide) suggested. We are one happy pair.

But I must tell you about our crossing! It was a collage of, well, everything. We slipped Bahia San Carlos at 1515 hrs. and headed out to take a look. The wind had been whistling through the anchorage and we were indeed having second thoughts about the crossing. Never done it before. Never sailed across from San Carlos to the Baja. Never sailed this boat more than an hour or two. Quite the predicament. But, and so, we sucked it up and headed out. Miss Sophie might have been tsk tsking us... but we headed out anyway.

We left while we still had enough daylight to sort things out. You wouldn't believe how many bits and pieces get collected while you work on and set up a sailing yacht. Anyway, we waded through them all and got re-acquainted with our sea legs while we bounced and flounced our way out of and away from San Carlos. We saw only three fishing boats as we left and not a single, floating vessel of any kind throughout the remainder of the crossing. That's one of the good things about sailing up here... no (or very few) long lines and no commercial traffic (except for the ferry running from Santa Rosalia to Guaymas).

Our crossing was windy, lumpy, cold, wet ... and marvelous. Let me tell you about the highlights (and leave the lowlights to your imaginations :-). Our journey across the Sea could be divided into three parts. The first involved learning SSpirit; setting up a second reef on the main, making sure all necessary lines were snug (jerry cans, boarding ladder, etc., etc.), setting up the cockpit for helming in comfort, preparing our snacks and meals for the crossing (sandwiches made before we left, along with drinks and snacks), and generally getting used to the feel of SSpirit as we began to move with the seas. They were largish and kind of lumpy, but they weren't bad enough to turn us back. We've been waiting almost three years for this moment and a little water wasn't going to stop us... so onward we pushed. Long story short, we motor-sailed into lumpy seas and wind, almost on the nose, and carried on across. At one point we had a bit of a disappointment... our auto pilot stopped working. Those of you who followed our journey down the coast of North America in 2011 will recall how upsetting the loss of that one piece of equipment can be. Faced with the loss of auto, others might have been tempted to turn back, but we had come too far and waited too long, so we decided to keep going. Heck, we hand-steered the majority of the NA coast, surely we could do the same to cross the Sea. Even so, Kathy was determined to check out everything she could, and lo and behold - she cleaned up the connections to the auto-pilot motor and old Otto began to hum his little heart out. He worked fine for the remainder of the trip. Things calmed down for the central third (where it was supposed to be rough) and then built up into a real challenge as we approached the Baja, especially for the last three hours. Twenty-one hours after setting sail from San Carlos, we were 'hook down' in San Juanico.

Now then, let me tell you about the phosphorescent torpedoes... of the dolphin variety. 'Round about the centre of the crossing (98 nautical miles in total) we were joined by some wonderful dolphins. They swam with us, at us and away from us... all the while trailing magical streams of green phosphorescence. It was a delight to watch, and to share in their joy as they challenged and tackled our bow wake.

As well, the stars blew us away. The Milky Way flared across the sky right over our heads and the rest of the sky was filled with clusters and constellations and, well, enough to keep you watching for the entire night. Each of us saw a few 'falling stars' as well and the new moon was so bright that even as a little 'slip' of a piece... it sent out a moon beam across the sea.

So, that was our crossing. We arrived in San Juanico all crusty with salt... even in our hair. SSpirit had buried her nose in several steep waves along the way, and we had taken spray all the way back in the cockpit - and over our heads. Guess you could say it was a little lumpy :-).

We are safe and sound in San Juanico, along with several other boats. SV Cahoots arrived today after an even tougher crossing than ours. They saw winds up to 35 Knots (we can only boast 24) and huge seas. From where we are sitting we can look out and see mountains of water rolling by, some with their tops exploding off with the wind. Yup, there's a big wind blowing out there now and we're in the best place we could be for protection from the north.

Ahhh, life is good. BBQ steak for dinner tonight. Sleep well... CJ

PS. After arriving at San Juanico, we discovered our Pactor Modem has packed it in. Sadly that means no emails in or out. I'm writing this post now, and will follow with others, so as to tell you of our journeys. They will get posted once we hit civilization again.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Window !

Well, my goodness.... Here it is November 30th already. We put Rikki to bed last night. Stored him at "Ed and Dorothy's Dog Boarding". I know, I know... Only in Mexico :-) Seems Ed passed away a few years ago and I've never seen Dorothy, but a very nice guy named Rodolpho runs the place and it's great...for vehicle storage.

Now why would we say good night to Rikki? You might ask. It's been so long you've likely forgotten what it was we came here to do... Go sailing, of course!!

We (well Kathy really, with her diligent attention to about seven different weather aps and broadcasts and websites... ) has identified what we in the frustrated and waiting group of Marina San Carlos groupies call.... A WINDOW !! Yippee!! Yahoo!!

We really, really think that later tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday are offering us reduced winds (seas still a little lumpy but hey... Gotta go) enough such that we're going to take the plunge and head off. If we don t leave now, we'll be here yet another week waiting.... Soooo, here we are, Wednesday morning, all paid up and just stuffing those last minute things into tiny crevices ... Where ever there's room. When we run out of space (which we have) we'll tie things to the deck... We already look like the pioneers must have... With their pots and pans clanging away on the outside of their dusty wagons. Hopefully ours won't clang too loudly :-)

Once we're finished with last-minute stowing, showers, and farewells... we'll be on our way; all the way to the anchorage just outside the marina. It's like a waiting room, where boats go to anchor, get their sea legs back, and make sure everything you think you fixed is truly and actually working. All being well, we'll hoist anchor and bid San Carlos farewell tomorrow afternoon at 1600 hrs. It's an 18-20 hr. crossing (best guess) from here to San Juanico which is our destination (check it out on google. It's supposed to be beautiful with good holding grounds, great beaches, and lots of hiking trails). We've never been there and it's top of our list of places we want to see.

I must leave you now; still lots to do before departure.. Will write again when I can. Once we leave the marina we'll be using SSB for email so messages will be more succinct (lucky you! :-)

Adios for now... Until we 'write' again. CJ and Kathy aboard SV Shannon's Spirit

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Monday, November 21, 2016

Moving day!

Can't believe it! After three years including two seasons; after a dog attack, an emergent return home with a broken dog, weeks and weeks of hard hot labour, and after narrowly missing a disastrous outcome from Hurricane Newton..... Shannon's Spirit sits... waiting patiently... for us.

Today... we move aboard with the last of our belongings. Now, I'm not saying everything's neatly tucked away in our copious amount of storage base (cuz there isn't... great storage)... but I do know whatever makes the final cut (stays vs. goes) will find a home somewhere... tucked into some nook or cranny :-). We've done it before. It's amazing how much stuff can sift down and away into a small boat. It's also surprising how, on a small boat, you can lose things.... Some, never to be seen again until you sell and have to empty it. That's why we keep an inventory; lists and lists of bin numbers and locker locations... places like "port side, under V berth" and "centre, under aft berth". Now if only I could find all the notes and put them together :-). Anyway, we're pretty excited.

As you might correctly imagine, this will be a big change. Not only will we finally have all our belongings under one roof, but we will be leaving our rather spartan but familiar 'home' at Adlai Apartments. And, after three years, we'll finally be moving forward and committing to the plan of setting sail. That's pretty big, even for us. I have no doubt that excitement will rule over apprehension and by tonight we'll be sitting in the cockpit... thrilled we don't have to drive back to the other side of town, and sharing dreams as we gaze at the stars...yippee!!!!

The weather forecast is calling for rather high winds starting Wednesday, so we likely won't be crossing the Sea (over to the Baja side) until after they abate. But, we will... live on board at the dock for a few days (while we settle in, get our official papers organized, put the truck in storage, and provision for a 3-4 week journey down the Baja coastline). Then we'll move out to the anchorage where we'll spend a couple days making sure everything goes up and down like it should (anchor) and hoists and unfurls properly (sails) and performs when it's asked to (heads, water, electricity) and... when the weather Gods permit... we will set sail and head west. We are very happy to be moving forward.

Some of you have asked how things are going here given the highly publicized and outrageous 'reality show' unfolding to the north. The best way to describe it, I think, is that everyone seems to be in a 'wait and see' mode. That there will be change seems pretty obvious. How much and in what direction remains to be seen. There's not much we can do really, except wait and see how things go and keep an eye on the general mood.

With that, I must leave you... got a truck to pack. We hope all is well with each of you and will write again when there's a story to tell. Adios for now CJ

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Monday, November 14, 2016

OK, just one more...

Yup, couldn't resist posting this photo.  It feels so good to stand on your own boat, floating on the water.  She's looking pretty good, I have to say.  Just a few more things to set up and we'll be on our way.  Phew!!

TTFN. (tatafornow)

And then there's the bilge....

Boat bilges.... Yuk!  Usually dirty, greasy, smelly, collectors of all what-evers you can possibly imagine.  Right?  Not ours....  :-). Kathy has worked very hard and the result is stunning!  Not sure how long SSpirit's bilge will look this pretty..... But here it is.  Just had to brag a little bit :-)

That's all for tonight.  Hope all of you are doing well and enjoying every day....  Adios for now. CJ

Kathy and Salvador - new batteries and fancy caps

Water-Misers... That's what they're called. If you have wet-cell batteries, take a look at their web-site. We've been told they will really cut down the water loss, which will help our new batteries stay healthy. Will have to let you know on that, but it all sounds good so we're giving them a try :-)