Saturday, December 17, 2016

Aaah, La Paz at last

Hi everyone. We made it. Seas were lumpy (and wet), wind was on the nose. We slipped Isla San Francisco at 0500 and 10 hrs. later we slid into our slip at Marina Palmira... exhausted, salty, and happy. The seas were the kind that let you speed you up to 4 or 5 knots and then knock you back to 2 knots.... It was slow and sloppy going (with more than one wave breaking over our foredeck as SSpirit buried her bow into it) but we were glad we stuck to our route (the shortest possible line which was pretty much down the middle). Others, who hoisted all sails and headed towards the islands to the east got caught up in winds gusting 24 and seas even bigger than we had.

While many chose to take refuge in one of the slightly protected anchorages we continued. We're now safe, tucked into the marina and delighted to be connecting with old friends, some we haven't seen since 2012 when we sailed out of La Paz and headed to Mazatlan. Ooh, I just got called away by the splashing of sea life beside our boat. I'd forgotten how full of life the waters around La Paz are. It's like floating in a huge aquarium. This visit was from a school of fish (about 8-10" long) just jumping and gathering.... marvelous!

Now then, just in case you wonder why we'd hoist anchor and head for civilization (requiring two, very long, days of travel); here is today's weather forecast. The first set of numbers for each day represent the winds expected (in nautical miles per hour). The second set of numbers are the seas and the last number is the seconds between each wave (and remember when it says say 6 for a wave height... That means 12' from trough to top). And PPM is my code for overnight. Also note the winds and waves will be opposing each other quite often. Here goes:

Sat. N 7-10. SSW 2-3. @15
PPM. NNW 9-13. SSW 2-4. @14
Sun. NNW 13-17 SSW 3-6. @14
PPM. NNW 12-16. SSW 3-6. @13
Mon. N 13-17. SSW 3-6. @ 13
Tue. NNW 18-25. NW 6-9 @ 6
Wed. NNW 20-27. NW 7-11. @ 7
Thu. NW 19-26. NW 7-12. @ 7
Fri. NW 15-21. S 6-10. @ 14

Just let your imagination play with the notion of sailing in a giant washing machine, set to 3/4 speed... That'd be about right :-)

Aah. la Paz. So glad to be here..... have a wonderful day.... CJ

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Friday, December 16, 2016

The Best of the Sea... (Dec 13, 2016)

Don't know when you'll get this, or in what order... But I'll date each post so you can read them in chronological order if you wish. They will go out when ever we finally re-establish connectivity (which may not be until we get to La Paz).

We are having a premier experience... the Sea has been very good to us. Yes, we were somewhat stuck in Puerto Escondido while the Northers blew... but then they ended. And these past few days of light winds seem like a gift. We spent a day and an over night at Punta Colorada... (very nice anchorage with a view south to Isla Monserrate and Isla Catalan). Then we were on our way.. into light winds and calm seas, heading south to Agua Verde. We did spend about an hour and a half, motoring slowly in circles off of Bahia Candeleros... Because apparently there is a cell tower somewhere near there and we hoped to be able to connect... but no luck... so we continued on.

At one point, about an hour out, I had a big hit on my rod. Novice that I am, I was trolling mom's favourite.. a #4 Tom Mac. Well sure enough, the big guy liked it. Unfortunately he was so strong my tackle couldn't handle him and the line snapped before I could begin to engage. Rats. we've decided it was probably a Rooster fish...very big and very strong. I did see him jump and it was a pretty good sized splash. Oh well. I'm now using our hand line and saving my rod work for jigging from the dinghy.

We arrived at Aqua Verde by early afternoon and had a lovely afternoon just enjoying the scenery. There were quite a few boats here, including a small Cruise Ship, anchored in the central section of the bay, just off the village. Way too many tourists tromping across the trails, shorelines, and village trails... so we stayed on board and enjoyed the scenes from afar.

The next day (today) most of the boats have gone and we've enjoyed a very relaxing day. Kathy snorkeled, CJ fished from the dinghy (no luck), and we've just enjoyed 'being' (haven't done that for a while now... pretty

Tomorrow we will head south again, this time to Los Gatos where we hope to meet up with friends on SV Willful Simplicity and SV Free Spirit. For now... we're just enjoying a beautiful full moon and a reasonably calm anchorage.

As always, CJ

Wed. Dec 14th

Hi, me again... Or still. Still no internet. Ran south to Los Gatos today... Lumpy, rolly-polly motor boat ride.. but caught up with friends Willful Simplicity and Free Spirit. Beautiful location with red rocks and cliffs, and very blue, clear water. We're anchored just inside a reef that extends far enough to break up some of the swell coming in. Last night they had 8 boats in here. Tonight it's just us three. Today, Kathy went hiking with the gang and came back with her pockets full of crystals formed by the volcano; rocks called geos that you can break open to reveal their precious cargo. After their hike Steve brought over some of his fruits from the sea and we had a yummy dinner. After dinner we sat in the cockpit and watched a gorgeous, huge, reddish moon creep slowly into the sky from the far horizon. It was a beautiful sight. Pretty hard not to want to stay here forever :-). But we must press slowly on. Tomorrow we will stick with this 'fleet' and sail across to Mangle Solo on Isla San Jose. A one night stop there and then it's into San Evaristo, a small fishing village about 50 miles north of La Paz. Our friends on Willful Simplicity (Steve and Charlotte) have spent years helping the people of San Evaristo and arriving at the same time as them will make it even more special. So that's where we are now. Winds remain less than usual and we are grateful for the break. Hope all is well with each of you. CJ

Thursday Dec. 15th

All plans are made in sand... Just below the high water mark... As they say. And so it goes with us. Woke up this morning and listened to the weather forecast on the SSB Sonrisa net. Gasp... 30 Knots of wind coming in Saturday. Hmm, really only one viable thing to do (given our need to be in La Paz no later than the 21st and the likelihood what ever is starting on Sat will last for several days and possibly into Christmas)... PYou guessed it. Time to run for it :-). We tightened our seat belts, tied everything down, fired up the iron Genny and got out of town. Slipped Los Gatos at 0830 hrs and had hook down in Isla San Francisco by 1545 hrs. Relatively uneventful run down. Friend Graeme (SV Sol Seeker) spoke to Marina Palmira on our behalf and they confirmed our slip (reserved for the 21st) was available for us tomorrow..... So, quiet night (So far) in our favourite spot on the planet (Isla San Francisco) and tomorrow we hope to leave at daybreak to make the 9 hr. run to La Paz. Will be able to send this blog post and other emails once we reach La Paz. Bye bye for now... Must get sleep for early morning tomorrow.

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Saturday, December 10, 2016

A gift from the wind Gods...

If I wasn't living this myself, I never would have believed it! the 'northers' appear (and I say 'appear') to be taking a vacation... for about a week. Now this could be a trick... a devious method of wooing us into leaving our haven of safety... but it's working. :-)

For the first time in a long time, the weather predicting gurus all agree ... Winds will be light for the next several days. Some think they will be NW or NNW and others think they will be SE but they all believe they will be light. That's good enough for us. We're out of here tomorrow morning. Isla Carmen lies just east of Puerto Escondido and has several beautiful anchorages. We're bound for one of them tomorrow (Bahia Salinas) along with SV Willful Simplicity and SV Free Spirit. Should be fun and we're looking forward to sharing some time with these old friends.

Sorry about the weather you guys are having back home. If it helps any, we've just run out of peanuts and Japonnes :-(

Topped up the tanks and filled up the jerry cans this afternoon. Thought I'd discovered something Sir Isaac Newton should have. Thought I'd discovered that water was heavier than diesel.... It wasn't until I'd made several dinghy trips back and forth ferrying Jerry jugs...and figured out how to hoist each one out of our tiny dinghy, up onto the deck... That Kath mentioned how she'd filled each water jug as full as she could (while I had the diesel jugs filled 'not to the top'). So, no Nobel prize for me this year, sigh.

Anyway, we've enjoyed our stay here. Friendly staff, catching up with friends, and some time to putter.. doesn't get much better than that. A couple issues we're dealing with... Kathy has managed to establish that our Pactor Modem might be repairable and is in the process of finding a ride for it from here to San Rafael, CA. We've also confirmed that our (new last year) battery charger is not strong enough to properly charge our batteries. Luckily our friends in La Paz have the right size and we'll change up when we get there. In the mean time we will conserve where we can...and seem to be getting by OK in that mode :-). It's all good.

Must say SSpirit's looking pretty good, in a cruising boat kind of a way. Thanks for coming along for the ride with us. Will talk again soon. Adios amigos..... CJ

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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Puerto Escondido

G'morning all.... After an all-too-short visit to Isla Coronados (what a beautiful location... scenery, turquoise water, kayaking, snorkeling, did I mention beautiful? All in one afternoon :-) we slipped quietly and headed south to Puerto Escondido. There is a bit of a blow forecast (NW up into the high 20's) so we figured a little protection might be a good idea.

The marina at Puerto Escondido is under new management (not sure if new owners or just the management of same) and they're great. The mooring balls have been well serviced and cost only $10 / night. We're tucked up as close as we can get to a hill shielding us from the worst of the wind...and we ll be here until the worst is over (may take a few days to die down). It's a good place to hang out and has laundry and shower facilities. It's also near Loreto so a trip to town may be in the offing.

For now we're content to rest and putter and wait to see what mother nature has in store for us.

Hope all is well with each of you... And your winter weather isn't too cold or wet. I know the folks at home are having an early taste of winter... So hang in there.. It won't last forever (I think :-)

PS it's now 1530 hrs (this post didn't get sent this morning so here I am back to share more with you :-). You gotta see this to appreciate it, but I'll try. it's the cruising life you see... I just got back from hastily launching the dinghy (from the dinghy Davits) to race over (well putter actually as we have a rather small outboard) to, maybe, rescue a guy I saw swimming along chasing his run away kayak. He got the kayak before I got to him, but we had a nice chat and returned to our respective boats. We're safe in Puerto Escondido as described above, however the promised winds have arrived. Boats are bobbing and weaving (like a barnyard dance of the nautical variety) and we humans just kind of roll along with the motion. You get used to it and then you kind of don't notice it... unless you look up which I did, just in time to see our mooring bouy sink below the surface of an extra large wave... but it popped up again. :-) so I continued on with my chore. I'm dismantling our very old grungy dorade vents. They're disintegrating and we found out from a fellow Catalina 34 owner, lovely stainless steel vents hide below the UV vulnerable plastic covers. So, I'm helping mother nature out and peeling back the ugly covering to reveal the beauty below (well beautiful after a major polishing job, I'm sure). Aside: Wow, that was a big gust. Boat heeled over and swung half way around... Sure glad they checked our mooring last night.

Anyway, must go now and finish my chores... Never a dull moment (ha! That was a stainless steel joke :-)

As always. CJ

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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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