Thursday, April 26, 2018

Marina Palmira, Slip 335 ... 1630 hrs.

This is just a short note... to let those of you with vivid imaginations (sometimes egged on by my comments, I admit) know we are safely alongside slip 335 at Marina Palmira. This will be our last 'docking' here in Mexico and we're happy to report we came smoothly alongside without any hysterics whatsoever. Boaters know of what we speak. The rest of you just have to guess :-)

Yes, we have many stories to tell. We did indeed have a magnificent 'last spin' in the Sea of Cortez. We visited old favourites (people and anchorages) and met new ones (of both). We even took a few photos... so, stay tuned.

Will write about our last season when time allows. For now, we are trying to adjust to the massive heat (for us) that is La Paz at this time of year... get the boat ready for her journey north... and take care of other various things on our plates.

We hope all is well with each of you, and apologize for being out of touch for so long.... Coming from our neck of the woods it's hard to imagine how out of contact small villagers are. We have had no, or very little, news and contact via the internet or cell phone for the last several weeks.... and we're glad to be back!! Talk again soon.. CJ

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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Southbound again

Hi folks,

Just a short note from our SSB radio email to say that we have pulled up our anchor and left beautiful Agua Verde this morning. We are motoring along in very smooth seas, heading for the village of San Evaristo tonight.

All is well aboard, except for our obstinate/flaky Pactor radio modem which, for some unexplainable reason, has finally decided to cooperate this morning, allowing us to download a bit of weather info and send this email.

Hope all is well with you.

Kathy & CJ.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Sleepless nights...

It's 0012 hrs (that's right, twelve minutes after midnight), Friday the 13th is over, and I'm cuddled up with my favourite fleece blanket in the cockpit. I'm here because we've been riding out a late-season Norther, along with at least twenty other boats, in the mooring bouy field of Puerto Escondido (PE). No worries re: safety; the mooring bouys are fairly new and, apparently, checked every month and I'm all kitted out (ships rules) with my PFD and tether on... flashlight's in one pocket and sailors knife is in the other.

Previously we had been enjoying the beauty of anchorages in and around Isla Carmen. We had been in PE doing laundry and getting some groceries and, as always, watching the weather forecasts. We knew there was a blow coming but had a couple days before it was due so had gone back out to Bahia Marquer. As the predictions of big wind got larger and larger (one source predicted gusts as high as 50!) we realized we needed to head in sooner than planned in order to have the freedom to select a good mooring ball. Having done so, we settled in for the ride.

Preparation for that 'ride' was sort of like getting ready for a long crossing. We 'ship-shaped' the interior, making sure everything was in its place and nothing was left on tables or shelves that could fall off and break or get under foot. We made sure our fuel tank was topped up and we had enough water, and we got out equipment like pocket-sized flashlights, knives, the big spotlight, etc.

Overnight Thursday was calm and we slept well... until 0600 hrs. Friday morning when, as predicted, the winds arrived with a blast. And so they continued for most of the day. Most boats (and ours is no different) spend their time on a mooring bouy doing 'the dance'. It's not unlike the two-step... you know "slow, slow... quick quick" repeat. Each boat swings differently; the style determined by hull design, wind and wave direction, geographical and environmental factors, and Lady Luck. But dance they do, and Shannon's Spirit is no exception. As well as doing the mooring bouy two-step she also leans a bit, pushed over by the gusts; which can be disconcerting at times... but so far, so good. The main way we cope with all this complexity is doing as much prep as we can think of and then setting up anchor watches.

Any time there's a need for a serious 'anchor watch' Kathy and I take turns. One sits up and 'watches' while the other tries to get some sleep. Today/tonight is such a time. We selected our mooring bouy carefully when we arrived; picked one at the north end of the bay, situated in the lee of a large hill. We knew we'd still get the wind but we're close enough to the head of the bay we figured we'd get a lot less wave action due to the short fetch. After listening to some of the other, further away, boats today... we're pretty sure our 'figuring' has paid off. Don't get me wrong, we've still got plenty of wind... saw gusts in the low 30's today (and that's knots, not MPH or KMs).

Zzzzz hi, I'm back. Tried to sleep. Couldn't. The two of us sat up for a while as the gusts are getting higher (as predicted but no where near 50...yet). Kathy's trying to sleep now and I'm on watch. The time is 0300 hrs. And the gusts are... hang on, I ll go measure.

OK, just clocked one at 25.3 Knts. Seemed bigger but that's what the machine said. So, besides the fact it's dark, seas I can hardly see are rolling by, the boat is sailing on her tether, and the wind is going from 25+ gusts, dropping to almost nothing, and then filling in again with a howl as it hisses through the rigging... well, besides all that, we 're doing great! The stars are brilliant (there's no moon tonight) and it will be dawn in less than 3 hours.... at which time I may retire from, yet, another sleepless night.

G'night y'all. CJ

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Enjoying the Sea...

Hi all. Just a short note to let you know we are well. Unfortunately there is very little connectivity in Puerto Escondido and so very few phone calls or emails. We are outside the harbour now and heading to a nearby anchorage for a couple days. Then back into PE on Thursday as there's a norther coming with winds gusting up into the high 20's at least. It's expected to arrive Friday and blow for at least three days. We'll tuck into the Port again and find a mooring ball with protection from the seas at least. Guess it'll be time to do .laundry and tidy up the boat :-)

Hope all is well with all of you. Will check in again when we can. All is well.

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Saturday, April 7, 2018

Puerto Ballandra

Saturday, April 7th.  And we're anchored in Puerto Ballandra (Isla Carmen).  Yes, we have arrived.  Our goal was to circumnavigate this Island and we're doing it!  

Kathy spent hours in her kayak today and took lots of great photos.  These are two; testament to how clear the water is and how colourful the wildlife.  First, a starfish like we've never seen before and... yup a red and blue crab....  (missin' our Dungeness :-( 

I spent some time in the dinghy trolling various lures back and forth around the rocky point just outside.  After only a few nibbles, and watching the fish in the see-through water, I switched to a good old, white, buzz bomb.  Must have hit the critter on the head when I tossed it in.  He was so shocked he grabbed it and, voila!, it's trigger fish for dinner tonight. 

We head to Puerto Escondido tomorrow... time to clean up and do laundry.  Then we'll be back out and back at it.  Hope all is well with each of you. Best always.  CJ

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Thursday, April 5, 2018

North from La Paz... second of two

Hi all. It's been a few days, but know we are well and cruising in the Sea of Cortez :-)

One of the things we have to get used to when we're actually away from the dock and cruising, is the fact we don't have Internet. No chatting with friends or catching up with family and no checking in with those we know are wondering how we're doing.

It's Wednesday, April 4th, and we've had three lovely days at Bahia Agua Verde. This is one of the most colourfully beautiful anchorages in the Sea. The waters range from royal blue to emerald green and they appear as artwork to the eye. We first anchored in the bay just out from the village and sat through a couromuel with winds up to about 20 knots... but we had anchored well and as there was no fetch, all was fine. We then went over to an area known as the south lobe. From a distance this looked like there was only room for a couple boats, and it was full. But friends who were already anchored there encouraged us to come in, so we did. This place is paradise! We have been blessed with a great view out into the Sea at the same time as we are quite protected from most winds. We are anchored in 15-20 feet of water and we can see the bottom. Every so often a turtle swims by... and each afternoon the dolphins (hundreds of them) stampede by the mouth of the bay, apparently herding fish. Oh, and the water is warm. This has been the experience we were seeking when we left Victoria in August 2011 !!!

As you might expect there is lots to see and not a lot of time... so we plan to weigh anchor tomorrow and do two things. First, we will stop in a particular bay that has a resort in it. That means there is likely a chance to hook into internet and send and receive some emails (for the first time since leaving La Paz)...(hence my writing this catch up email). Then we will turn our nose towards Isla Carmen and likely head to Bahia Colorado for at least one night.

Not sure when we will next have Internet... but we will check into Puerto Escondido and find it there in about a week, or so.... Ahh, this life as a nomad isn't too bad :-)

Hope all is well with each of you.... will talk again soon. Adios for now. CJ

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North from La Paz...

Hello all. Saturday, March 31st., 0600, we slipped quietly away from La Paz. The time for our last tour of our favourite anchorages (and some new ones) in the Sea of Cortez has arrived. Internet connections for the next month will be weak and sketchy, if at all, so I am starting this Blog post now. I'll use it as a running commentary and post each time we can.

Saturday, March 31st. While there wasn't enough wind to actually sail and maintain sufficient speed to reach our destination before dark, there was enough to hoist the main which blessed us with a wee bit more speed from time to time. The rest of our forward motion was produced by our trusty Diesel engine... noisy but efficient. We ran, under power and sail, from La Paz, north along the two big islands immediately north (Islas Espiritu and Partida) peeking into each anchorage as we passed. Most seemed quite empty (surprising as this is Easter week and the weather is good)and as we listened to the morning nets on the SSB radio we learned that Isla San Francisco had been loaded with boats and very uncomfortable with a SW swell. Hmm, that had been our destination... so back to the planning stage, worked out a few options, and carried on.

The day went smoothly. SSpirit performed well and we really enjoying watching the beautiful, rugged coastline roll by. We remembered how amazed we had been the first time we saw this creation of natural beauty. The wonderment hasn't changed. We did see other boats but, in this part of the Sea they are usually few and far between. This side is very different than the mainland. For one thing the humidity is half (yeah!), the water is clear and beautiful colours, and the land formations are gorgeous creations of striated cliffs and impressive architecture (mesas to mountains).

Along our way we were joined by a Fin whale that surfaced and blew not very far behind us, two humpbacks travelling together that passed us south bound, numerous turtles swimming slowly in all directions, and leaping rays.

We passed by Isla San Francisco. Although there would have been room for us, we weren't all that impressed with the notion of rolly-poley all night, so we kept on. We had heard there were only three boats in San Evaristo so we headed over there and arrived at 1530 hrs. San Evaristo is a small fishing village and we've been here several times before. It's also the home of good friends Charlotte and Steve (SV Wilful Simplicity). They were home and it was great to see them and catch up.

Sunday, April 1st. interesting night. Winds blew 16+ for several hours from about 2300 - 0300. Luckily there was no fetch, as they blew from the west, but it's still somewhat unnerving to have the winds whistling like that as you watch to make sure your anchor holds and all the other boats 'hold' as well. So, a little less sleep than planned... but we 're up and getting ready to leave for another long run. Our goal is to get to the Puerto Escondido area quickly... like tomorrow. We shall see.

You know you're re tired when.... you not only forget it's April 1st but you also fail to trick your favourite sisters.... OK, I was only blessed with two... but they really are my favourites.. and, every year, for as long as I can remember... I spend lots of time figuring out how to trick each of them before 12 noon on April 1st and in a different way every year. I have succeeded in doing so almost every year I can remember. This year.... not so much. With all the excitement about leaving and heading north... I plumb forgot. I didn't even remember in time to trick Kathy.... this was not a good year for April Fools at our house :-(. Sorry my sisters... I shall have to get you twice... next year!

It is Sunday, April 1st... the sun has gone down and we are tidily anchored at Aqua Verde... a beautiful anchorage on the Baja. We chose this location because of it's high cliffs and mountains that will, we hope, protect us from the strongish westerly winds that have been predicted for tonight. We had a taste of them last night in San Evaristo and, with no wishes for a repeat performance, we have carefully selected a spot off the beach in front of the fishing village. We have large mountains to the south and west AND and we have lots of scope (anchor chain) out. We feel pretty comfortable that we'll be able to handle whatever is dished out. Will let you know tomorrow, how we do tonight.

Aaah, good morning. It's Monday, April 2nd. I'm happy to report we didn't feel a bit of wind overnight and had wonderful sleeps. It's so nice, the weather forecasts aren't awful, and we've decided to stay for at least one more day. There are several boats we know (Free Spirit, Dolce Maestra, Ocean Voyager) here and we'll enjoy catching up with everyone. The sun is hot, the seas are smooth, water temp 75, and low humidity. Can it get any better?

Thursday, April 5th. Hope to be sending this post sometime today, and another one as well. Feel free to read them in chronological order... or not :-)

Hope all is well with everyone. CJ

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