High on Surf

Finally we have gotten the Chick out of her funk and she has posted another section to her page.   Looking for a dream fulfilled? Want a little Chick Humor or a girl’s perspective on learning how to surf?  How about another advertisement for the Mexcalli Surf School?   Take a look at the Chicks Version today.

While we are talking about updates you will notice that we have added some media buttons so you can share updates with your friends if you like.  Just click one of the Car sign combuttons above and if you have a Facebook, Pinterest or other account this update will be loaded to you Timeline.  Because of the length of the Chicks, Dudes and Sparky’s pages we have chosen to have the buttons on the top.

Have a Great Saturday.

 

When it gets tough we take a vacation.

Liquer store scooter comWe have had a good couple of weeks here in Z-what.   The past few days have been trying as Lisa came down with a tooth ache and Bill has been trying to find a part that should be available at all marine stores but unfortunately no in Ixtapa, oh well,   The dentist worked out and the part issue was fixed by cannibalizing some parts around the boat and so with little else to do we decided to take a little excursion in land when we saw the sign that advertised a couple of our favorite things.

If you have a couple of moments Bill broke the trip down into a couple of parts and posted them on the Dudes View.   Have a look but be prepared with the proper dictionary as he used a number of different slang’s in these stories.

A little bay called Zihuatanejo

We spent a couple ofwater bike com nights at Isla Grande or as they have tried to call it since 1970, Isla Ixtapa.   It seems like forever since we had had a nice anchorage with easy dinghy landings so we really enjoyed it along with about 2,000 other vacationers that came and went each day.   After the third day the anchorage got rolly and we have since moved to Zihuatanejo Bay which really is nice although there are still some lumps in the sea and it is another tourist destination.

 

The trip down from Caleta Campos went well.   We had a nice current that drove the boat

Notice the red plume of smoke coming from the stacks...It was only a short burst, can't be that bad.

Notice the red plume of smoke coming from the stacks…It was only a short burst, can’t be that bad.

along at over 7 knots most of the way.   Passing Lazaro Cardenas was a highlight of the trip but not so much because of the beauty or wild life.   As you approach this Cargo harbor the first thing you notice are the low hanging clouds.   As you get closer you realize that the clouds are caused by the immense amount of dust in the air and the steam and smoke from the incinerators and power plants that make this city beat.    We were about 6 miles off shore and needed the radar to see ships in broad daylight that were 5 miles off!

 

Passing Lazaro you began to catch the smell of the petroleum and other chemicals that were either dissolved in the air or floating on the water. coke balls com  It was quite a contrast to see the beautiful “Tuna” Blue water (if you have been to Lake Tahoe you know the color) covered in a sheen of petroleum, dust and what we believe were actually coke balls or chunks of ash from the coal burning power plants that must have just been dumped in the water.   We are not chemists so we might be wrong but we will attach a picture just so you can see.

 

After Lazaro things began to clear up.   We were buzzed by the Mexican Navy who appeared to be calling in our little ships name but other than that let us go about our business.   Somewhere during the trip we also had a hook-up with two Cravalles fish or Toro’s as the Mexicans call them.   We guess they each went about 25 lbs or so but we were only able to land one.  The second one got away with Lisa’s hand made fishing lure which kind of got her pushed out a shape a bit.   When the fish steaks were put on the grill, Lisa forgot all about the lure and all was well again on board.

 

We visited Ixtapa proper the other day as well.  Lisa in frog mobile com Pat and Mo from the Bay of Conception asked us to meet with their friends that were visiting and so we had a look around.   Bill was a little surprised at the town as it was actually created in 1970 (hence the name of Isla Grande changing to Isla Ixtapa) by the Mexican Government and Fonatur to be a destination for tourists.  They have succeeded in creating a nice, overpriced, gringo village that is not to our tastes but certainly clean, safe, friendly and you are never 5 steps away from a bit of cheap Mexican kitsch to bring home to the family.   Thank God the margaritas were 2 for 1 all day.

 

That should catch us up for while.  Isla Grande umbrella com We are enjoying our stay and will be here for a week or so before moving on.   Our dive tanks are out of certification and being updated now and Lisa has been in to see the dentist and needs a quick follow-up later next week.   No issues just some routine maintenance.

The Roy Orbishark Show

We finally have the video of the puppet show that Lisa helped to put on in Bahia Santispac up in the Bay of Conception this summer.   Mean women roy orbashark comWe had kind of promised that we would post it back in October but we did not control the actual video so it took until now to get that data, produce it and post it.   Things can move slowly in Mexico.

 

Anyway, by clicking this link you will see just how creative some of the sailors down here can get when life gets a bit to laid back, or boring.  The video is long so have patience when you are loading it.   Have fun.

Dudes View

 

Another Bloody Monday:  January 13, 2014

I told Lisa this morning that somebody in Alameda might be calling the Crime Scene Investigation unit after my thumb opened up and began spurting blood all over the sidewalk.   It has really been a long week for me.  As usual the things I did to make life better seemed to have a completely different agenda in mind.   Was it Socrates that said “For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction”?   Under normal expectations you would think that you worked on something that was broke, the opposite action would be that it would be fixed, but that only works in my dream utopia, and not my reality.   For me fixing something broke just means something else will break in the process and so it has always been with the generator.

My generator and I go back nearly 13 years.  It has become a type of second marriage for me.   When I first met the generator I was awed by it.  4.5 kilo watts of power, grunt. It has nearly an unlimited amount of running time due to being hooked into our main tanks, double grunt. Because of items 1 and 2 above we have the ability to run electric heaters, electric blankets, blenders, heat guns, hair driers, coffee pots, POWER TOOLS, and computers without a care in the world about damaging our batteries, GRUNT, GRUNT, GRUNT.   It looked like the perfect relationship until we tried to start it for very first time.  It was kind of like finding that one hottie in school that you really want to date but then finding out they had chronic bad breath.  You tell yourself you can overlook this minor flaw, but really it is just the beginning.  First you purchase gum to mask the issue, then mouthwash, then the next thing you know you are paying for major oral surgery, but golly she sure turns heads.

I found out that the generator had blown the top of the injector off and it had gotten stuck in the top of the piston.  It took a bit of work to change the piston out but like the gum all the symptoms were gone and she ran beautifully.  Power to spare and she purred and purred.

For months I was completely enamored with my sweet generator.  I think it was mainly because we really never used it. The generator sat on a pedestal, looked pretty and when talking to other skippers about all the cool items we had aboard I could always hang the generator on my arm and they would smurk back at me with jealousy.   Nearly every skipper wants a diesel generator, but most will settle.  Just as most people don’t need a trophy spouse, a good gas generator will give you less trouble and still makes a fine companion.   I should have given it more though before entering deeper into my relationship.

The added costs came slowly at first, then they started to really mount about the seventh year of our marriage.   There were times I threaten to let my generator go and settle for a cheap, virtually disposable gas generator with a generic name and a short shelf life but I had so much invested already and the next fix or expense was bound to be the last.

Fast forward another 6 years into our relationship and we are shore side in Alameda, 2014.   I don’t really need the generator anymore but it is still comforting to know it is there, and the good memories are still fun to tell around the dinner table.  It seems like only yesterday that somebody in a remote anchorage called over the radio to tell us that our spreader lights were still on and we should turn them off to save power.  “Heck” I said, we have a generator, let them burn.  Over the last 5 years the generator really has served its main purpose.  It has been painful at times but it has kept us happily consuming Ready Kilowatt with a minimum amount of downtime.

It was noted a couple of weeks ago that the generator developed a bit of a temper and began overheating.  This resulted in me pulling one of my primary nemesis’ out of the generator only to find that it’s (the dual purpose water pump) impellors were completely intact and everything about the pump appeared to be normal.   Logic moved me to the heat exchanger.  The heat exchanger is similar to a car radiator.  The difference being that inside a boat we can’t get the airflow across our “radiator” like you do in a car so we pump cool sea water across the warm generator water to keep it cool.  We have 3 of these contraptions on board for different purposes.  Over the last year we have had to repair, clean or replace every one of them at least once, and for the transmission heat exchanger three times.

The problem with the generator exchanger is access.   In my utopia the process would be: Turn off the water, pull the water pump, disconnect the generator from the mounting beds on the boat, pull the generator to a more workable position, remove 4 tiny socket head screws that are corroded to the aluminum engine tray, remove the exchanger and re-install.  What could possible go wrong.  Enter Socrates’ phrase; “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”, right.

Since the pump was already pulled I got to skip that step so I disconnected the engine bolts, resulting in the opposite reaction of losing two of the nuts into the  bilges (I can buy more), I pulled the engine to gain better access to the socket head screws resulting in cuts and scrapes on my hand.  I removed one of four tiny socket head, corroded, stripped out screws and then cut off the heads of the others with a cut off tool.  This was a simple 3 hour job that I never want to repeat.  It of course resulted in 3 headless screws that later had to be extracted with a pair of vise grips and another 2 hours of labor.

With the screws out is was a simple matter of disconnecting hoses and taking the thing to the local radiator lad for repair ($180).  With that part of the problem working its own fix we decided to just kind of hang out for week and enjoy the boat.   Of course that Action, created the opposite reaction and the toilet broke.   Not wanting to  have two open problems we waited for the repaired heat exchangers and this last weekend went about doing the install.   My thoughts were that the process would be relatively straight forward and easy, heck the corroded screws were out and it is always easier to re-install than to disconnect on a boat.  Reaction?…sees below.

The heat exchanger went in with a minimum amount of cussing.  Not so little that Lisa didn’t hear some and decide to go do  wash, but minimal for the surrounds of this boat.  Indexing the screws back into their own holes was a bit more complicated but spending only an average of 15 minutes per screw was not bad for the cramped quarters I was in.   The cherry on the top was how nice it was to exchange out the allen headed socket screws for normal hex headed bolts.   Much easier to deal with, and someday I will be thankful for the switch if this thing ever has to come out again.

With the hard parts out of the way, I started to work on the water pump, easy, belts, easy and connect up all the hoses, easy enough. Heck we might even get to that toilet this weekend as well.

The boat as always has the reaction that goes with my mood.   So when we started up the generator and crawled up top (when the generator is being worked on we have to remove the ladder so literally we have to crawl up out of a five foot hole) with a smile there was of course no water moving through the system.  If you ever saw National Lampoons Christmas Vacation and the scene where Chevy Chase receives his Christmas bonus of the Jelly of the Month club you will have an idea of my reaction.   To top it off Lisa just returned from her washing expedition, so she was able to witness my antics…Turns out the ol’ nemesis was paying me a visit again.

The water pump appeared to be working just fine but when I investigated I found that the pulley was actually spinning freely on the shaft and the pump was not turning.   You can insert evil maniacal laughter here when I saw what was happening.

A weaker man would have called the Maytag repairman but not me.   My wife loves me for my resourcefulness and it is probably why she puts up with my inner demons.   I methodically pulled the water pump off the generator and set it on my desktop and immediately saw that the drive dog on the shaft had sheared off completely.  Ok, we need a new shaft for the pump.

On board we have so many spares I sometimes forget we even bought them.  The trouble is locating what I think we have.  I tore the boat apart trying to locate all the possible pump type spares we had on board (old used and mostly broken water pump, shaft seals, silicone grease, paper towels etc.).   From there I broke down the old, used pump to determine if I could even rebuild the rather new, none working pump with the tools I had.  Luckily the shaft on the old, used pump was salvageable and the repair didn’t look too far beyond my abilities, so I sat down and had some wine, watched a movie and went to bed.  Tomorrow would be a better day to tackle the problem.

The morning came and the rebuild went pretty well.  By the time bacon and eggs were ready the pump was all done and could be re-installed before 10 AM.  Those were my thoughts, the opposite reaction was that we did get the pump installed but in the process we discovered a stripped bolt that holds the pump to the engine.   My reaction, just another maniacal laugh. Lisa’s reaction, “What now”?  Two hours and nearly $60 later we had the bolt removed and had located the “Special” metric heli-coil to repair the stripped hole and insert a new (we had a spare) mounting bolt for the pump.   With everything mounted we fired up the generator and made power for 30 minutes without overheating, I was in love again.

We celebrated that night with rum and coke (a standard) and maybe a glass of wine more than we needed.   In the process of enjoying the moment we lost track of what Socrates had said and while washing dishes my thumb and the serrated edge of our vegetable dicer came together creating a lot of blood and a bit of dulled down pain.   Before I knew it Lisa had me bandaged up but that only lasted till morning.  I was pretty sure I was sealed up before going to work so I discarded the bandage.   As I got to the ferry station I bumped my thumb and copious amount of blood spilled on the concrete until I was finally able to find an old newspaper to wrap around the wound.   I was pretty sure the newspaper was pretty clean but it stemmed the bleeding for a while.

Closure: November 2013

Now that I have a signed offer of employment in my hands I feel that we have Lunch comsuccessfully brought our trip to a conclusion.  That doesn’t mean we are done sailing, it is just that our travels through Mexico are completed and all the folks that either privately or publicly scoffed at us quitting jobs, dropping out of the American public race, selling off our cars and putting everything into storage with the hopes that someday we would either return to California to continue with our careers or drop off the face of the earth were wrong.  That’s probably a pretty strong statement but back in 2007 when we first started the trip there were so many people who told us we were wrong. We really would have liked their support yet many said we should wait for the economy to get better, warned that we should be sure that everything on the boat was in perfect shape and to have every available spare and new electronic gizmo on board.  Some even suggested that the drug war in Mexico would certainly take our lives.  With all the warnings even I am surprised that we made it back in one piece.

 

Clearly now that we have returned I can say that Lisa was right all along, “You have to live your dreams before you are too old, sick or dead!”.  I can add that waiting to repair every little thing on board, or till you have the every available cool gadget is also a fallacy.  We waited a good long time.  Most of our wait was to get enough money into the cruising kitty so we felt comfortable in leaving but we still left before we had a compressor, new computer, big water maker, new or rebuilt engine, new rigging and we even failed to come up with the money to buy the latest marine single sideband radio and associated pactor modem, heck we left without enough money to actually even make it to retirement.  Yep, we left prematurely but we had enough and we felt if we watched our numbers just a little bit we would not have to work along the way.   Lost dreams comWorking along the way just doesn’t sound like fun to us and we know of several people who have had to stop to work and they are still in the same places we left them 3 or even 5 years ago.  Most feel that need just one more big ticket item from the Boat Toy Store before they can leave, a few are just afraid to cut the lines and go.  From my standpoint, get your money, leave some of the expensive items and niceties on the dock or shelves of West Marine and run.

 

When we left San Francisco in 2007 we were sure our boat was equipped and in good enough condition to get us through the next couple of years of travel.   As it turned out we made is almost 30 days before we lost an alternator, water maker, TV, starter motor bracket, alternator bracket, fan belt and realized that our refrigerator was probably going to be an issue when the weather turned warm. A month earlier we would have told you those items would be the last to fail.  The items we thought were most likely to fail stood proud as we replaced some of our star players. The next 320 days of cruising went along pretty well with everyone pulling their weight and staying mostly together.  We did have to return home after the first year but we put the boat away in much better shape that when we started out.  When we returned for our second try at cruising (perhaps we should have waited for the economy to get better), things were surprisingly much worse.  Again we had no way to anticipate the trouble, and that is really the point of this article, stop anticipating breakdowns and go.

 

If you have read the February 2012 issue of this blog you will know that returning to our once “perfect boat” was anything but perfect.   All the items that we thought were in great condition had pretty much failed: Main engine oil pan, engine mounts, generator, heater, windless, toilet, water pumps, stereo, bilge pumps and even lamp wicks.  Once all these were fixed we were good for nearly a month before the sails started to unravel, the radar started to die and the transmission leaked.  Basically we had to replace all the items that we thought would have happily lived on the boat for years, it was frustrating but what I am trying to say is that if your boat is in fair condition, and you do have the funds to take off for a year or two, do it. The worst that can happen is you will have to shorten the trip and perhaps have to go back to work again for another couple of years.   If you wait till everything is perfect you will most likely still have to replace everything along the way and you may never leave in the first place.  Go with the knowledge that parts are going to have to be replaced and your frustration level will probably be less when they eventually let go.

 

What we do not recommend is that you sell your current life out from under yourself.   We have met many people who have sold their homes, all their cars, furniture, quit their jobs, gave the dog and cat away then bought a boat and left on what would be an endless trip of sunsets and Cuba Libres’ on the fantail.  Many have failed in the first months of travel.  Some have lasted a bit longer but with one of the crew usually under duress, and then there are others that seem to just work out.   I would say that the groups are about evenly split, you do the math on your percentages.

 

Most of those who are successful have sailed for years together and have like interests and dreams.  I am not going to go into relationships here, but I think Lisa was right when we first started the trip and I suggested that we sell our home, all the cars, furniture, quit our jobs, give the cat away and sail off on what would be an endless trip of sunsets and Cuba Libres’ on the fantail, she said “No”.  Not no to everything, but she wanted to be sure that if we ran out of Cuba Libres, that there would be something to come home to.

 

Taking her advice we rented our home (furnished) and kept a car and the dog.   The first year we rented at a loss but in the grand scheme of things that loss was actually limited so based on our approximate budget of $1500 per month, we only had to add another $600 a month to that and still have the piece of mind that if life was not as predicted we could return in a year and resume life as normal and the worst it would cost us would be $7,200 ($600 loss for 12 months).  As things turned out we did have to return but that was due to a 50% loss in our investments (Thanks Lehman Brothers ET all).  The cost of $7,200 in negative cash flow felt like pretty good insurance when we booted the renters and walked back into our home.

 

The cool thing is finding a job is just not that hard.  Within a month I had a viable job contact and by the second month I was fully employed.   I am not a doctor, lawyer or nurse whose talents can be parlayed anywhere.  What I am is a glorified fork lift driver who has a pretty good reputation in his industry.   If you are qualified in your chosen career, have worked at it for some time and are known to do a good job, you should not be afraid to leave with the expectation of re-entry into the work force at some later time.   On the other hand, if you have a criminal record or some big scars on your job record you might want to wait another year before leaving.

 

On our second go around we were a lot better prepared.   We rented our house to people who could pay the full mortgage so there was no longer a negative outflow of cash.  We had about the same amount of money in the kitty (approx $50,000) and were ready to leave for 3 years.   As noted above we had some pretty heavy re-entry fees to pay out just to get the boat launched (about $8,000).   Along the way we dropped another $8K to re-rig the boat but that was one of those “sales” that you just can’t pass up.  If you just took those basic numbers we land at about $1700 per month to cruise Mexico, or anywhere for that matter for nearly 2 years.   Having seen and done some of the most amazing things in our lives on this trip it was all well worth it.   We didn’t scrimp to much either.   The biggest help was staying out of marinas which was the whole purpose to go “cruising”.  If we hadn’t wanted to anchor out we would have said we were just moving to Mazatlan, La Paz, Puerto Vallarta or some other marina in Mexico.   The marina cost could have almost doubled our output of cash.   While you might find some marinas that are close in price to those in the U.S. we had a hard time doing so.   Our boat in Mexico is usually measured at 43 feet, but the costs are almost always close to $800 a month.  In the U.S. we pay about the same cost but are measured at 53′ (there is no discount in the U.S. for having a bow sprite).  It really is a good thing that we prefer the quite and remote coves as opposed to the hustle and rules of the marina.

 

So for $25,000 per year we left San Francisco with a near perfect boat and a home, and returned with a more perfect boat and a home and started a new job making the same money as when we left within a month of return.  The new rigging was an added bonus and if you add all the new gear we purchased along the way you might even say that leaving San Francisco and going cruising was the best thing we could have done for the boat.  You might find that if you have enough money in the kitty to support your cruising life style and just leave, replacing gear along the way will just take care of itself.  Just don’t get hooked into having all the bells and whistle that show up on the pages of Sail Magazine.

 

My only regrets are that I may not have said “Thank You” enough to the people that encouraged us and helped us along the way, that I did not contract with Groupo Naval in Mazatlan before we left Mexico to repaint the boat from top to bottom with LPU for less than $4,000, and that I humored all those Nay Sayers who said we were crazy to leave good jobs instead of confidently smiling at them and giving them the finger.

 

Five years later I wonder how they feel about their big car payments on that now 5 year old vehicle and what they really have accomplished in their careers that could not have been delayed while they were living their dreams..Perhaps the dream really is to have a big car payment, big house payment, big Visa bill.   I am glad we took some time out before we were too old, sick or dead to enjoy it, I can build up the big payments while I am celebrating my next birthday or lying in a hospital bed.  Lisa will have to enjoy it while I am dead.

 

 

Calling all Taco Bells’  October 31, 2013

Sparky in SDIt’s a funny thing about returning to the USA after so much time away from the requirements of the big cities.   We are so use to making things happen almost immediately on the boat.  When you are hungry and don’t have food, you go shoot it, gather it or catch it.  When something breaks, there are usually no stores so you either use the spares that you put onboard prior to your journey or you cobble something together to get you to the next port.   It really makes no difference what it is that is happening, if it goes wrong you are in charge and your ability to adjust to the situation determines your level of anxiety, not so in the Big City.

 

Having been back officially for a week the job hunt is in full force.   The unfortunate thing is I am not in charge of my own hiring.  We don’t have a car and quite honestly the jobs that I am qualified for are often so far from the marina that visiting the job sites would cost an incredible amount of money in fuel (which we don’t have incredible amounts of) and would also take a bunch of time (we do have plenty of this resource).   As such the anxiety level on the boat has risen and is rising each day.

 

Our experience with job searches previously have shown that it takes a couple of weeks before you get any responses and several months before you actually find a fit.  From there you have to go through the standard background and drug checks which can take days to several weeks, especially if you have been out of the country for while.

 

My day begins like any day.  It would not matter if I was working, sailing or enjoying the weekend, I am up before 7 AM everyday, sometimes I am up before 5 AM but usually that is because my dog friend (Sparky) has asked to go out early.   From the time I get up to sometime around noon I look at the job boards, check out individual company sites and apply to anything that even resembles a fit.   We originally (I tell you, originally lasted just a couple of days) were looking for work in just the local San Diego area.  From there I branched out to San Diego and San Francisco and have since added Los Angeles, Madera and even Victorville.   All my applications are done first rate and with a lot of thought put into the cover letters.   All of the letters include a request for an in-person interview and even if Victorville responds, I will rent a car, put the ol’ suit of armor on and gallop over the hills and dales to report on time.  We are mobile and that really helps since we are not tied down to any one location.  The only downside to this is that you need a good mailing address and that means the first thing any employer see’s is that you are located in San Diego (our current address) or Roseville (near Sacramento) which is our current home of record.

 

Once the official job hunt for the day is through, I like to hit the Linked-In page for any updates that have occurred there.   Linked-In is sort of a social media page.   I don’t have a Facebook account, but I have to think that Linked-In is similar as you are attaching your “friends” or in this case, ex-colleagues, colleagues of colleagues and those that just happen upon your page that feel your profession and theirs are a match or could turn into additional business.  The interesting thing to me is sometimes these pages are not social at all, but more of a “how many contacts can I make” type of page.   I don’t say this from lack of experience, I have some experience.

 

It was not to long after I updated my Linked-In page a couple of months ago that several former co-workers asked to “Link” or in Facebook lingo, Friend me.   I usually accepted the invitation and sent a quick note to them to let them know how I was doing and what was on the horizon for me as well as a quick inquiry as to their status. Nothing.  I don’t mean that I have nothing going on, I mean there was rarely any response at all.   I had accepted their invitation to get connected yet they were not even interested in responding to my acceptance, not even with a casual reply to of good luck or something else that meant they were interested in only active business opportunities.

 

Once you are linked to somebody, you are also viewable by their other “Linkies”.   Occasionally you will get requests from these folks and again if you accept you can be assured that there will be no response, it makes you feel used, just another notch in their belt.

 

The most amazing folks are those that are recent employers or co-workers.   You link to one and then everyone is asking to become your latest “linky”, but don’t expect any other type of communication from them, it is purely a request to add another contact.

 

The Linked-In pages do have a good job board.  Not that anyone has ever reached out to me from one of my applications, but then it is still early and if I practice my impatience there is sure to be one that will contact me.  Until then I will continue to hunt and seek.  At some time I will pull out my old Taco Bell application.  If you are in the Southland, look for me behind the counter, “Will that be red sauce or green”.

 

Buyer Beware, Marina Coral, Ensenada Mexico: October 16,2013

Ensenada greetings comI don’t like to get grumpy at the end of a trip but I have to speak my mind here about Marina Coral in Ensenada.  We have visited a number of marinas in the last month as we transited beautiful cities like La Paz, tourist stops like Cabo San Lucas and smaller places like Santa Rosilia and Puerto Escondido.   All have their particular draws and drawbacks.   We have written nice articles about places like Cortez Marina in La Paz and their hospitality and well managed (thank you Eduardo) marina.  We have also complained about vermin and pricing in Cabo San Lucas (Pisces Marina) and San Felipe (Singlar Marina).  Today we have another complaint and one that I hope those on the Baja Ha Ha and those that are just southbound this year will take heed of.  Marina Coral in Ensenada has perhaps the worst daily rate of any marina including Cabo San Lucas and Ixtapa that we have experienced yet and a lot less to offer for the price as well.  If you are coming from a well managed marina in the U.S. beware for a price shock.

We are documented at 43’ but I don’t know if that even figures into the equation at Marina Coral.  I blindly pulled into this marina last night thinking that other friends have stayed months on limited budgets so the cost must be reasonable if not cheap.   Discussing pricing this morning with a neighbor, I found out he was paying about $400 and change a month (cheap) for his Tayana 43 (another 43 foot boat).   After breakfast I strode up to the office and was met by a very nice young lady.   She checked us in and then handed me the bill for 2 nights.   I reached for my credit card prior to looking at the bill.  Although my eyesight is not that good anymore my peripheral vision is not bad.  $239.80 was the number that was registering before I took a final verifying look.   I had to ask that young lady if that was dollars as $239 pesos seemed a bit low but I was willing to pay just the same.   She confirmed it was U.S. which was when my mind started to catch fire.

Marina Coral as stated in the earlier front page update has a very nice staff, but upon greeting the morning you will find just an average dock splattered with bird droppings, but without the amenities that we find in other high end marinas localized covered trash containers, recycle bins, wide fairways (to turn your boat around in), real high speed internet and reverse osmosis water that is purer than all US city water.  It is just an average dock, in an average town close to the border.

I asked about the monthly rate for our boat when presented with the $239 bill for two days and was told the price was approx. $500 per month.  Ok how about 3 days?  $250 was the answer with other prices for one week and three week stays, why then the super high price of over $100 per night, I don’t understand.   We were shocked by the $80 per night in Cabo San Lucas when we paid at the beginning of the month, but hey, it is Cabo, the water is clear and clean, the town is rocking and you are staying at a dock with other boats costing and average of 3 million dollars each, ok we can live like rockstars for a while in Cabo.  $100 per night and I get the outskirts of Ensenada, opaque water and 2 free drink coupons (I think the girl at the desk felt sorry for me). I don’t think so.

Anyway we paid for the nights stay we already made (we came in at midnight so I guess we got our 8 hours of sleep.  I thanked the young lady and apologized for venting in front of her.  She is just the messenger and I think we left as friends.   I will say that there are two other marinas in Ensenada (Cruise Port Marina and Baja Naval) that may have better pricing, call ahead or take your lumps, we are heading to San Diego and $40 per night slips tonight…So long Mexico, we will miss your anchorages, people and customs, we won’t miss your misguided marina management costs.  See you in the U.S.A

 

Don’t know, things just happen:  October 12, 2013

Bill at palapa comThere was a point a couple of years ago that I would have sold Beyond Reason for $1.  It was a  brief moment and lasted less than 24 hours but in truth we would have just let her go.  Today I am not quite at that point but my frustration with this trip is beginning to build.

Several of the issues we have had with the boat over the last month and nearly 800 miles of this trip we knew about and addressed when the time seemed right, others have been complete surprises and under normal circumstances would have been handled when we hit a marina with proper facilities to make the repairs.  The water pump fits this category as does the alternator.  Both of these items could have been left for a couple of days of easy sailing to the next port.  Other issues are annoying and just part of the “cruising lifestyle”.  Broken clamps, leaking oil, injector leaks, clogged fuel filters on the cabin heater and leaking water pumps are all in this category.

Today while dealing with the leaking oil filter we discovered that the fresh water pump was dripping just a drop of water every minute that the pump was running.  This could have gone on undetected for years, but I just happened to be in the engine compartment working on oil while Lisa was pumping the tanks dry filling the kitchen sink with water.  I just added it to the list of mounting issues I was supposed to deal with this morning.

It was cold this morning and Lisa thought we should start the diesel heater.  I was thinking the same but I thought 3 hours earlier would have been more appropriate.   She installed the little Charlie Noble on top of the heater flue and we started the diesel pump which feeds the heater.  Of course it has been a year since we last used the pump and heater so feeling neglected the heater decided it would just not allow the fuel to enter the combustion chamber and a new issue was put on the list; clean out diesel heater fuel lines.   I still hadn’t completed my oil filter task (which I really should have left till Ensenada) but I tackled these new issues and got them out of the way by 9 AM.   I soon completed the oil issue and well and even though we made a pretty big mess of the engine room, kitchen and saloon, it looked like a good fix.

The ultimate test is always to run the engine.   I prefer to have a beer first on most occasions, as when I start the engine or test my usual fixes, I am mostly depressed as I usually have to re-repair the fix yet again so the beer gets put off till the next day.   It being only 10 AM, I drank my coffee started the engine and surprise, everything looked good, well almost.

Our exhaust manifold, water jacket, heat exchanger has leaked minute amounts of water for years.  It is a fix that we have actually known needs to be addressed when we get back to the states.   Most likely it will take a custom repair as the chances of finding a Chrysler Marine, 1979 Nissan exhaust manifold are pretty slim.   When we left La Paz it was leaking a drop or two each time we ran the engine.  Today when we tested for oil leaks it was leaking pretty good.   I am quite adept at procrastination but when something needs to be looked at I can become a regular man of action and so I thought I would just see if the nipple that was leaking could be loosened and a bit more pipe thread tape applied to keep the leak at bay.  Unfortunately, I also knew there was a chance that the manifold nipple had rusted through.  A light touch of the wrench proved that my second theory was actually true and we had a new, big, big problem on our hands.

A manifold is critical to the engine running and with the nipple broken off we absolutely cannot move the boat under engine power…think, think.   We have a product called Marine Tex on board.  It is an epoxy and is suppose to be for this exact type of trouble.   Unfortunately I do not have faith in miracle products but after telling Lisa about the issue, we went to work by actually reading the instructions for Marine Tex and then duplicating the instructions on the engine.   2 hours later we have applied the epoxy like material to the fitting and the stub of the old nipple.  For those with a little experience there are no threads left or exposed, just a gaping hole in the manifold which the old fitting kind of fits into.   We have mounded up the epoxy on the fitting and the clean manifold and are hoping for a good seal.  The good things are that the fitting is not pressurized as it is on the salt water side, and it is easy to work on so we believe we ended up with a very clean, well sanded substrate to adhere to.   We won’t know till tomorrow afternoon.

With just 110 miles to go till we hit Ensenada we are hoping we can get 24 hours out of the repair.  That will get us to an area where we can have the manifold removed, rebuilt or replaced.   Heck the boat could sit in Ensenada if things were really bad.  What we want to do is get to someplace that has a marina.  San Quintin is wild.  There is a town here and in a worst case scenario we could probably get somebody to come out and take the manifold back into town.  The problem is that “town” is about 10 miles away, the anchorage blows 20 plus every day and staying for a week or two would certainly create havoc on board.  24 good hours is all we ask out of the little miracle product.

Now I just need to get to my last projects for this day, diving and diesel transfer.   The diving is not diving for fun, but rather diving to clear off the prop which got fouled yesterday on kelp.   This was a whole other issue that was addressed on the main page.   As much as I like diving I only have a 1/8” wet suit so this will be a rather cold dive in the 61 degree water.   Luckily we have warm showers on board and of course I have 36 gallons of diesel to transfer from the temporary storage tanks near the front of the boat to the main fuel tanks in the back.   That should reheat the ol’ core temperature!

Other than that all is good.   When the manifold is rebuilt/replace we will have just about re-fit the entire engine so another 10,000 hours is probably on tap, until then we are crossing our fingers.

 

The underway refit continues:  October 2, 2013

“Yep, every one of the gauges is dead” I yelled to Lisa.   We had just left San Carlos after spending the better half of a week waiting on the water pump to be rebuilt.  We were barely 1 mile from our last anchorage and already we had more gremlins to deal with.   I did a quick check of connections Lisa underwaybut it appeared that a fuse must have let loose as none of the gauges were working (tach, oil pressure, water temp, water flow, engine run time).   We thought about stopping the engine and restarting it but had second thoughts thinking the ignition switch probably did not have power either.

After dropping the hook we quickly located a blown fuse in-line with the alternator and replaced it but that did not solve our problems, so we dug a bit further and located a single wire that has disconnected itself from the main gauge distribution panel.   After quickly “reconnecting” all the gauges sprang to life and we were ready to roll again, or maybe not so quickly.  In a stroke of Novak we checked some of the other systems just to be sure everything was going as planned and wouldn’t you know it the alternator had quit making juice so we were slowly sucking the life out of our batteries.

I am just a little bit ahead of myself here so before you think that all this good luck of finding problems while at port was a good thing, let me back up to through the previous four days.

My silent impatience has been slowly running out.  When you talk with mechanics you can become so excited that they are doing the right thing for you that you forget that they are also squandering the time that you worked so hard to capture as your own, away.  Thus is my dilemma with Hugo.   On the front page you would have learned that Hugo is a mechanic for a small fleet of Sardine boats here in Puerto San Carlos.  Apparently his boss does not mind that he moonlights as a part-time yacht mechanic as well.  When we first met him we were awed that although he did not have time to work on our boat that afternoon, that he would report for work at the unbelievable hour of 8 AM the next morning (Saturday).  I know, I know, we have had only one mechanic in 3 years who ever showed up on time and early, but then again Colin was not really a Mexican, he was Canadian and he never worked that early anyway, he just wanted the free coffee.  Regardless, we’re believers and were up and ready for him the next morning.

Hugo showed up around 4 PM the next day and quickly figured out the problem.  I am always happy when a mechanic can describe what they think happened and it concurs with my own thoughts or experience, so when he detailed the issues and said he could have the pump back the next day I was satisfied that we had a good mechanic and our time and money would be well spent. How quickly I forget that he failed to show up on time.

Today is Tuesday.   I am a bit concerned because none of the Sardine boats are at the dock, Hugo’s phone is on call forwarding and his helper came to pick up the pulley for the pump yesterday and said they would return in two hours.  To complicate matters my attitude of believing that most people are good in the world let me hand over $300.00 US to Hugo to complete or at least we think to complete the work.   I am not in the slightest suggesting that Hugo skipped town, it is just that I know better and should have paid ½ up front and the other half when the job was completed to try to get a little priority built into the project.

Our weather window is starting to wane.  Today and tomorrow are the last full days we have of great weather up to Punta Abreojos.   My guess today is that that weather window will dissolve and we may be here for another couple of days after the fix is finally completed.  On our side is that the weather is changing for the better and the longer we wait in the season the better our bash will be but Lisa, Sparks and I are getting antsy to move on.  On the bad side is the fact that even though the weather is near perfect in the bay it is hard to enjoy it since we are tied down to the phone.  The cable/Mechanic guy said he would call before he came so we don’t want to cross the bay to the nice beaches when there is no cell service there.  Additionally if he did happen to show up today say around 4 PM and we had been at the beach all day we would be too worn out to leave anyway, so we sit, and nap, and worry that he is on a Sardine boat that may never return.

While waiting for Hugo we have completed a couple of more boat projects.  It seems that Beyond Reason is just looking for any opportunity to sink and the toilet has been the most recent item to try to take her to the bottom.   The water inlet gasket on the toilet was leaking a bit and like all our leaks if given a couple of days we are pretty sure the leak could have filled the bottom of the boat.   We did have a rebuild kit for the toilet as well so that project was completed this morning.  Additionally, although not an official leak, Lisa discovered a split hose clamp yesterday that was associated with the raw water system.   That one could have been a big issue had is actually let go while underway as “when” the raw water pump functions it might circulate 10 gallons a minute through the system.   It was another quick and easy fix but I have to say I am surprised at the number of stainless hose clamps that have failed this year.   I don’t know if it is the humidity or the age but these clamps are only lasting about 5 years before letting go.

With the exception of these small items everything else is working mostly like it should on board.  The small frustrations are making it easy to want to get back to the states but if I had a better memory I might believe that at home getting this raw water pump rebuilt might have taken a full week to complete by a shop in town.  The only difference would have been that they would have either projected a full week, or would have told us they would call us when it was done, I doubt it would have been done any quicker, then again I don’t know when the sardine boat is returning either.

Turns out Hugo showed up around 3 PM.  This was good news as we would get a good start on the 190 mile journey to Abreojos.  The other good thing was that my second guessing of only giving Hugo half the money to help speed our project along actually was just that, me second guessing myself.  Turns out I only “DID” give him half as he wanted another $300 U.S. for the completed project.  With the exception of the rigging this was the most expensive project we have done in Mexico.   I will say that the pump does work well and somebody had to remake the main pump shaft as the old one is sitting on my desk with scores and gouges along its spine.

With the payments made Hugo left and we were ready to start the journey.  As you read at the top, we had a bit of a false start.   After 30 minutes of hunting and thinking we completed all our fixes and that did include the fix on the alternator which was just a loose connection that Lisa hit while trying to clean up the engine the day before.

Epilog:  After our second start we completed a very nice trip to Abreojos without incident.   Well, almost without incident.  We pulled in last night to a bay completely ringed in lobster pots and tuna pins.   We were kind of lucky to have aroused a pangarero who helped us find a nearly empty spot without pots or pins.  The only trouble is that the area is over ½ mile from the beach and the boat incessantly rolls from one side to the other, no trouble, we are sleepy and will rise tomorrow morning early for the next leg of the trip which should put us in Asuncion Bay by cocktail hour.

Must be purgatory: Sept 16, 2013

Editors note:  Just prior to sending this update Lisa noticed the boat was sinking.  It turned out to just be a hose clamp on one of the raw water lines to the generator but it took a bit of time to replace due to the tightness in the generator compartment.  The boat is dry now, and really we might have continued to leak for quite some time before our feet got wet but all the same, just another day in Paradise.  We did make it out to Lovers beach also, just a little too crowded for us to enjoy, can you imagine why (look closely at the below picture)?.

mickey behind the rocks comI have entered into my own personal purgatory this week.  As we already explained on the front page we tried to move up the outside of the Baja late last week.   There is a saying about trying to start a voyage on a Friday but we ignored that since we started our voyage from La Paz really and this bit about rounding Cabo is just a continuation of that journey, or so we thought.   We could have shortened the trip by turning around when the weather just didn’t seem to want to let up, but my wife is determined sometimes and pushes me to my limits whenever possible.  I don’t take that as a bad thing.  I have accomplished a lot of things with her insistence and really am grateful that she doesn’t get all pissy every time she pushes and I react.  Instead she just pushes again and before long I submit and together we get things accomplished.  Last week we accomplished an additional 20 miles in some pretty sloppy seas that we had to ultimately retrace, but on any given day we could have just broken out into nice weather, so no faults given here.

Being back in Cabo we have been watching the weather pretty carefully.   One of the Guru’s of the Baja Bash (the pet name for travelling up the coast), says that fall is the best transit time for “Bashing” and the first 150 mile leg is usually the nicest once you get around the cape.   Well we laid that to rest last week as we definitely made it around the cape, but the weather never did get nice.   I do have to add that in my own experience of transiting this coast twice I had yet to see any wind over about 5 knots in this area until last week.   So we watch the weather.   Most of the reports are changed on a daily basis so when we see a weather window that is two days out, by the next day it changes and the weather window moves out again.  Today, Monday, we are looking to depart on Wednesday.  Yesterday we had a window for today but the winds have been blowing all day in the bay to about 15 miles per hour.  Not bad but the cape generally adds 10 to 15 more MPH to the prevailing winds in this bay and all the forecasts are showing winds near 20 knots along the whole coast, doable, but not likely for us.

Yesterday and today I have been fighting the computer blues.   Two Saturdays ago we had a rainstorm and somebody had forgotten to close all the hatches.   My trusty and dusty old computer probably enjoyed the rinse down that it received for a while  but since we didn’t return for almost an hour after the storm the half cup of water that remained in the old steam powered CPU  probably brought on a cold or seizure  and some of the parts are still being effected today.  The biggest issue should have been the keyboard but I have overcome that by using the on-screen keyboard and pointing and clicking with my mouse.  What surprisingly became the overhanging issue has to do with the sound board.   Our ham radio email requires the use of the sound board and a couple of headphone connections.  Those are not working correctly.

We have a backup computer that I am using now.  The trouble is my ham email program is not working well with the new computer: yet.  I have spent 2 days downloading Window updates (108 in all) so you know it has been a long time since we fired this computer up.   Unfortunately we needed the vast majority of those updates to be loaded and applied before we could finally get a solid internet connection via cell phone (our modem of choice).  Until then I was at the mercy of stealing signal from one of the local bars 500 yards from the boat.   Slow does not begin to explain the download speeds.   We are still installing updates now but I have been able to contact the Ham radio folks to try to figure out the issue with that challenge.  Unfortunately I have to join a Yahoo group so somebody might help with the Ham issues.   I am now adding that to my wait since I need to be approved before they will let me join.  Nothing moves fast enough here in Mexico.   I expect once my downloaded updates have all been installed the internet will improve and my acceptance into the fancy Ham radio club will be approved.  Somehow I have a feeling I am just not clicking the one button on my screen that probably says “Let your computer fix your Ham issues”, but I won’t know that till I talk to the exalted ones at the Ham Club.  Certainly my 24 hours of internet purgatory will be solved in about 1 minute; I just don’t know which minute that will be.  Chances are we won’t even use the email between here and home, but you can’t be too sure.

The good news is the weather in the Bay of Cabo San Lucas is very nice.  Mid 80 degrees, warm and clear water and everything on board is working correctly.   So what to do while we wait on weather and “Acceptance”.   We should launch the dinghy, but honestly it becomes a bit tedious undoing all the ropes that hold it to the front of the boat, dropping it over the side, adding the engine, and then seeing a weather prediction that says to put it all back together tonight so we can leave in the morning.  Of course in the morning the prediction will change and we will do it all again.   Oh we will do it anyway.  If not for my sanity from Lisa’s pushing, but I won’t like it till I start the dinghy engine.  There is absolutely nothing I like better than the feeling of the engine churning and my little dink taking me somewhere, anywhere.

75 updates still need to load, it’s twelve o’clock and I should probably do something.   Up in Escondido I might be thinking about going to the Palapa of Knowledge, but hear in Cabo things are a bit different.  The Palapa of Knowledge in Escondido is just a group of plastic chairs set outside the local Tienda (Stop and Go, 7/11, Quickie Mart).   On a daily basis some of the cruisers who are either waiting on parts, bored with their lives or looking for a bit of juicy hearsay gather at the Palapa to have a couple of cold drinks.   In Cabo, since we don’t do much drinking at regular establishments, my entertainment is to “Listen” to the daily Wet Tee Shirt contests going on over at the beach.   I usually have a coldie in my hand, but Lisa steers me away from the Binoculars.  It’s a worthy endeavor but I imagine the dinghy will be calling by that time and perhaps a trip over to Lovers beach will be the order of the day.  When we come home perhaps we will only have another 30 updates to load and with any luck the Board of Trustee’s for the Ham Radio group will have had time to meet, discuss and approve me.  I hope I don’t have to put in an appeal.

I am looking forward to the commute but right now I got to get that coldie as the DJ is asking for volunteers.

 

Are they boxer shorts, or boxer panties?  17, August 2013

 

It has been a busy and somewhat Bill cigar comstrange week here on Beyond Reason.   I believe I have received my last haircut from the shaky handed barber with an affinity for Unicorns in Loretto.   He is really a nice guy and for about $4.50 U.S. I always seem to come away with a pretty nice shearing.   It is surprising though as the guy’s hands shake so much, I am just thankful that the clippers are sharp.

Lisa and I have said our goodbyes to a number of friends that we have either known for a long time or have spent a good amount of time with in the last year and a half.   We have also said goodbye to people that we may have met just once in all our Mexican travels but now want to have one Sun Downer with us before we leave.   I don’t know if we have become mavens or if people are just asking us questions about everything Baja.   In any case we are passing along a lot of information that we have taken for granted that just about everyone knew, perhaps not.

Our diving friends have moved north so I don’t know if we will see anymore diving for a while.   Unfortunately we lost our two tanks in Z-town a few months ago.   Lost may not be the right word, they just wouldn’t pass the hydrostatic pressure testing so we left them with the dive shop.    Anyway, we did get our new underwater camera and are trying it out with some free diving and snorkeling.  We have a bit of time to go before Steven Speilberg needs to worry about our re-make of the Titanic.

The job hunt has been begun and I did get two hits this week.   One involved a phone interview with DHL and the other got me an appointment for a telephone interview with Hellman Logistics.   Both would be good fits for me, but beings as I am overly truthful on the phone I just don’t know if anyone will take our efforts seriously till we arrive back in the states.   Either way I am OK as we don’t really want to rush home and it is good to start thinking about our re-entry into the job market earlier than later.   I do have to say that each time we have somebody call with interest it gets Lisa and I thinking about the logistics involved in getting me to the states for a face to face interview which will include hotels, rental cars, suit fittings, shirts, ties and SHOE’s.   It is going to get tough.

We discovered or rather recognized a new trend in cocktail wear this week.   The people we met were not the first we have seen in the latest garb, but since we have seen the style more than once we have to figure that the U.S. is probably leading the way or the Paris fashion shows are underway again and somebody missed the theme.    Anyway, apparently it is OK to wear your boxer shorts almost anytime of day, in public.    I had always heard that a cardigan sweater was appropriate for most occasions and you could never go wrong with a black suit and tie, times are changing.

We were invited to cocktails last night.   Our host was in “afternoon boxers” when he set the time for us to arrive.   His partner was dressed in more fashionable togs that looked a bit more appropriate for guests.    When we arrived (fashionably late as usual) he met us at the side of his boat still dressed in the “afternoon boxers” which I guess proves a point that they were in fact “all occasion boxers”, with just one button barely holding the fly closed.   The single button could be a fashion play on what we see girls wearing lately; too tight blue jeans with the first button or two undone to allow their bellies a bit of breathing room.

Anyway our host asked us aboard and apologized for not have put on a shirt.    Lisa and I did NOT give each other the usual askance glances as we both were surely thinking, we just caught him at an awkward moment and he will pop back up with more civilized clothing soon.   With the shirt just barely over his shoulders our host re-appeared with his companion who again was nicely dressed or should I say more historically acceptably dressed, while he still had on the same “all occasion boxers” and the shirt fully open.   I’m not passing judgment on the shirt being unbuttoned.   I have done so myself and with the temps hitting 95 plus or minus and the humidity just about the same, buttoned or unbuttoned is fine with me, but the Boxer fashion is going to take some time to sink in.

We did have a fine cocktail hour complete with scallop cerviche and some very nice dip and cool drinks.   I guess I will just have to find some boxers the next time we are in town if we are going to invite guest over.

Tomorrow or Monday we plan to fuel up for the last time in Puerto Escondido and then travel down to one of the resorts just south of there for our telephone interview on Tuesday.    After that we will be on our way to La Paz where we plan to be for the month of September doing some quick repairs, cleaning and even a bit of “adding” to the boats inventory of cool electronic gadgets.   It should be a fun trip.   About the only thing that could spoil it would be the dreaded “J” name hurricane which still hasn’t shown up.   We have been almost two weeks without a named storm.  Either the season is ending early or “Ivo”and  “Juliet” are going to be doosy’s.

Save room on the freeway for me.

What would we do without Internet: 7, August 2013

danzante sunset2 comWe are currently on passage (Passage is used pretty lightly here, as most people consider a passage as a voyage of 3 days or more.   We on the other hand consider it anything that requires us to take down the sun awnings) from Loreto to Puerto Escondido.   In keeping with our standard of not making this a travel log, I was musing over what was interesting today.   We have been in the Loreto area now for about 4 weeks.  I would not say that we are cruising at this time but rather vacationing.   Seems like a whole different world when you are not going from one place to the other just to see what it is like.   this old tree in San JavierNow we stop a lot more and actually take a hard look at the geology, makeup of a town and the nuances that hold a place like Baja together.  

 

 

In the last week we have traveled up to 2000’ in elevation to see San Javier, San J comthe old mission that was built back in the 1600’s by the Jesuit Priests and down to 70’ below sea level exploring thermo-clines, harassing eels and rediscovering the thrill of breathing underwater and walked the hills of Isla Coronado watching birds, listening to Cicadas, dodging spiders, snakes and the shore side stingrays as well as avoiding the barbs, stickers and other nasty things that make you wary of the desert.  Unfortunately what has taken up an enormous part of our time has been the internet.

 

 

spider comIn the Loreto area we can get internet almost every day.   Sometimes it is slow and clunky and other times you wouldn’t know the difference between being on the beach and sitting behind a table or booth in Starbucks.  Either way it has drawn us in to check

Actual un-retouched picture..Check out the amount of stickers from a simple walk in the hills.

Actual un-retouched picture..Check out the amount of stickers from a simple walk in the hills.

email, job postings, weather reports for the bash back home and other somewhat interesting stuff.   I regale everyday thinking about how well we did over the last 19 months in Mexico resisting the temptation to be plugged in everyday.   Up until one month ago the only contact with the internet that we had had was when we traveled into a town and found a local establishment that had free wifi, or when Lisa would incidentally hook up to a 3G signal on her Kindle and receive email.  Internet was rare and kept us focused on the real reason for being down here:  See the country, enjoy the people, explore elephantsnature and every now and then throw in a little drama for texture.  

 

 

Over the last month of course we have deemed our viewing of the internet as required.  Heck, how else will we ever find jobs upon returning home and how could we ever expect to make the trip home without exploring every bit of information available on the internet.  Our kids must be incredibly smart knowing how much time they spent in their rooms browsing over all the available information.

 

 

It must be especially hard for folks to pry themselves away when the weather is not perfect.  Luckily we have perfect weather almost everyday but not always.   5 days ago we had a small wind storm that blew through the anchorage at night.   It was the night before Lisa’s Birthday and the following morning we had planned a trip on a Rhino.   Not a real Rhino of course but a Yamaha Lisa and the Rhino com4-wheel drive, Rhino.   We had good internet in the morning and we actually had to pry ourselves off the seat, challenge ourselves to find clothes and castigate ourselves for the dismally slow way we brought ourselves to put them on.   What we both really wanted to do was sit in the cabin and look at things that seemed just too important to give up.   It was a Thursday for God’s sake, what important information is there on a Thursday!   The problem was that the waves hadn’t settled down and even though we knew they would (and they did) we wanted an excuse to not go out into the world and make ourselves a part of it.  Once we got into the dinghy everything changed.   Our morning breath got better, our senses expanded, our sense of humor took back over and when we beached the dink and hailed a taxi, Lisa’s birthday took on a whole new meaning and the day brightened again.

 

 

We spent the day exploring dry river beds and taking the Rhino to places that most vehicles could not go.   Taking the road up to San Javier in the Rhino actually helped to justify the cost of the rental as most of the road in the canyons that lead to San Javier had been washed away last year during hurricane Paul.  

 

 

Without the internet I am still able to work on this blog.   Even now, with the wind blowing 15 knots through my graying and balding scalp I can plug in the cord and write for entertainment sake while watching dolphins jump through our wake.   Osprey com I wonder how many people wish they had that experience up north.  I wonder how many people who started off their cruising careers looking for a bit of adventure and hoping to see wildlife like no where else in the world but are now hold up in their cabins trying to break the grip of the internet.   There must be twelve step program somewhere that can help. 

 

 

In the coming weeks we will be closing the door on the Loreto area.   I am reminded that I could do so from the inside of our boat with the fans blowing and a cool drink in my hand but I am lucky to have a fun partner along for the ride and she insists that we go explore the south side of Carmen Island just one more time before we leave.   With no internet or other connectivity it looks like I will have to get along with just some engaging conversation, bubbling companionship, a bit of hiking, exploring and most likely some water activities and of course some of the freshest seafood anyone could ever want. Every day that we get out in the open is a new experience and we cherish the diversity.

 

 

Now let me get back to the excitement of the Myspace page before my signal drops.

myspace com

 

 

Pur Thoughts:  23, July 2013

 

When I re-read this excerpt it started to sound a bit like a Sidney Sheldon novel.   I thought about pulling it or numbing it down then thought, “what the heck” a little curiosity never hurt anyone.

 

The morning today started just about like every other Sunday.   I was up early and trying to find a cup of coffee.   In the back of my mind I was wondering how the radio transmission signals were going to react since we were in a very protected anchorage and many times that means the signals don’t travel as well as normal.   The weather was comfortable but then it is nice almost every morning around 7 am.

 

At 7:30 I did my usual Sunday morning radio net before we ate breakfast.   The boat still hadn’t warmed up so Lisa and I started in on another activity.   Neither of us were really dressed for visitors so you might not have that startled to hear Lisa ask if it was better for me if she held it while I worked the thingie a bit.   When she continued, your interest may have peaked as she asked me to put on my “super goggles so I could see what I was doing”.  “If you don’t you could damage it beyond further use” she continued.   Of course when an hour had passed and she said it was perfect and not a drop spilled, it could only mean that our Pur Power Survivor 35 water maker was finally completed and working.

 

When it comes to water makers there are a number of factors that are involved when considering if the unit is working or not.  The contraption could be “dead” which means there is no water coming out and something major needs to be done.  The water maker could be working as ours was a month ago but putting ten times the amount of saltwater into our bilge as it was putting good fresh water into the tanks.  It could also be pumping just as designed but not producing drinkable water, or it could be doing everything correctly and running like a champ.

 

This morning we rebuilt the pump with the rebuild kit we ordered a couple of weeks ago.   Lisa played the manager, parts procurement officer and oversight boss part while I turned wrenches and grumbled when things didn’t quite go correctly.   survivor compressedUltimately we had 4 extra parts but since the instructions left a bit to be desired (like leaving out a critical step that would have had us pulling the entire thing apart again) we figured it had to do with 2 plugs they said “might have to be unseated” but which weren’t leaking so we left them alone.

 

So with the pump pumping and the water not leaking into the bilge we began to do tests on the flow and quality of the water coming out of the correct ends of the pump.   The first check was to see that water was actually being rejected from the membrane of the water maker.   The rejected water is the volume of water that does not get converted into fresh water.  Perhaps converted is the wrong term since the water is more accurately scrubbed of the salt and minerals via the membrane.  Anyway, the reject water flow looked good and Lisa still could not see any errant drips from the newly replaced seals.

 

The next check was for water quality.   Prior to putting the water maker into hibernation we “pickled” the membrane with an alkali solution to keep bad bacteria from growing while we found parts.   When we checked the output we were definitely putting out a good quantity of water but it was about 4 times less pure than the CDC and World Health Organization would consider as potable for even the lowest of 3rd world countries.  Definitely not what we wanted to drink.    After 20 minutes of running the unit to clear out all the alkali we retested the water and found it to be well under what is acceptable for most California City water.   They may not sound safe but if Jerry Brown and Arnold Schwarzenegger say it is good enough for them, it is good enough for us as well.

 

Lisa did a volume test about 30 minutes later and the volume of water was well within our previous production standards which are close to the manufacturers minimum for the unit so we concluded, “it the minimum was not good enough it would not be the minimum” and we closed the hatch on the Pur water maker for now.

The levity of sweat.

Gravel shopping com

Our friends Gravel and Natalie guarding the new stock of humidity medicine.

Humidity, I don’t know if I will ever get use to it. Some days a case of cold beer or more can’t even  help out.  If you live on the East Coast you certainly understand the trouble with humidity but I wonder if you can wrap your head around 350 days of the year being above 80 degrees and humidity levels that more often follow or exceed the thermometer.   I’m not really complaining about the heat, I was born and raised for the most part in California, and the better part of my life I have lived in Sacramento where the summer heat rises above 100 degrees on a regular basis…in the summer.

 

In Mexico the heat is just about constant, actually check that, during our travels in Mexico which include moving south in the winter and north in the summer, the heat is constant.   You could plan on just a 20 degree swing in temperature all year long.   In my native Sacramento home the year long swing is as much as 100 degrees, from the low 20’s to the highs of 115 degrees in the summer.   The only real variance in temperature here in the Baja and Mexico is the water temp.    During the winter heat you have to wear a wetsuit to enter the water.   My dive friends from California will laugh, but 75 degrees is not comfortable to dive into after you have spent the year basking or simmering in 85 or 90 degree water.

 

The real problem I have with humidity is that it is confusing.   Yesterday was typical of the summer weather we have had this season.   With both giant fans going in the bedroom Lisa and I were comfortably sleeping.  The cabin temperature was 83 and the humidity was…83, no surprise there.   The wind was blowing out of the south at perhaps 5 MPH when we woke.   Coffee was placed on the stove as it is every day.  When it finished Lisa and I walked up on deck to watch the sun rise and wouldn’t you know it, we were freezing.   I pulled our dog skin blanket (Sparky) up on my lap for warmth but eventually went down stairs and changed into my flannel pajama’s before returning.   Lisa is a bit more stoic than I and decided that since I had given up the “Blanket” she would just pull it a little closer and endure.  The temperature was 84 degrees.

 

No sooner had I put on my P.J. then I started to sweat.   In the cabin where it was 83 degrees, the humidity was surrounding me.   I would say pressing as I believe that is the word that folks from the south use to describe the moisture, but to me it just envelops you and it did.   I could not wait to get back outside.   Outside I was chilled again; there is no happy medium here.

 

Being pioneers of the new age, Lisa and I both toughed it out and continue to endure the moisture laden air of Mexico.   We have been surprised this year by the number of boats that are carrying either factory installed or “Home Depot” style air conditioners on board.   Two years ago it was rare to see one on a boat, let alone used in an isolated anchorage.   This year when you come into an anchorage you not only have to locate safe holding ground but now you need to determine who is running an air conditioner if you plan to have any peace and quite at all.   Perhaps next year everyone will have giant solar arrays, but this year the power source for all the air conditioners is an on deck generator.  Generators that run 24 hours a day, air conditioners that run 24 hours a day and people that hide in their cabin nearly 24 hours a day.

 

Air conditioners are one of our biggest peeves.   We constantly question ourselves about why we are down here in Mexico.   The cost of living is not much cheaper than the states and getting more expensive every day.  The weather certainly is no better than the San Francisco Bay area, the infrastructure of Baja and Mexico is no comparison for that in the U.S., cable television is none existent on a boat unless you are tied to a dock, and fuel, Bill waving com1water, good gin and tonic as well as quality meats are in short supply.   The reason we are here is because of the incredible natural beauty and wildlife.   The quality of margaritas in Mexico varies so badly that you would be better served at the local Chili’s or TexMex restaurant in your local home town, no the only real reason is the beauty of the surrounding sea and country side, so why lock yourself inside a cramped boat all day long reading books and watching TV and hoping against all that is natural that the cool winds of some Chubasco will come relief your misery.   If I wanted to be comfortable I would be at home in my own air conditioned home watching the Animal Planet or National Geographic.   By all accounts they cover the Baja very well.  Actually if you don’t dive on a regular basis they really cover it better than you could ever imagine doing in 10 years of floating around on a boat, 100 years if you are cocooned up all day.

 

No, humidity is not fun, the sweating is probably good for us, but the clinging moisture wrap that we wear nearly all year long is not our best suit of clothing.  It is only when you add the sunrises, sunsets, dolphins dancing in the water, unbelievable colors of the reefs, soft white beaches, warm water, dramatic backdrop of the mountains cascading to the sea and uncommonly helpful people who without resources of their own are more than willing to give you a lift to town, help you gather supplies and ask for nothing in return,for that we will sweat and enjoy it while we can.

 

Coffee is ready.  Today it is 84 in the cabin and 85% humidity, I think I will put on my flannels and take a look outside.  Where is my dog skin blanket?

Santa Domingo Spinnaker Rally: 26 June, 2013

BR spin and mul comAbout a week ago we had the chance to fly both our spinnakers.   We were anchored in Santa Domingo just outside the Bay of Conception and the wind was light and we were not in a real hurry to get anywhere.   Lisa loves this type of sail as there is no pressure to change out of her jammies and she can pretty much sit back and relax with coffee.

 

 

Once we got the boat off the anchor we pulled up the big red and white spinnaker and began to just sail down the bay.  BR vs the Austrailians com Within minutes the CSY44 True Companion joined us with their spinnaker and a bit of a race insued.  Beings that True Companion was an Australian boat we figured we better put on a good show so we began to pull out our mizzen spinnaker which is affectionately called the mule.  No sooner did it come out when two New Zealand boats joined in the fun and the race really began to heat up.   Not that anyone was going anywhere quickly.  We had 5 knots of wind maximum throughout the entire 10 mile journey down the bay.   Our top speed just nudged 4 knots but it was enough to keep the two New Zealanders, Entres Nous and Karmaseas off our heels.  The Aussies put on a good show and if they had had another 10 miles might have even caught us, but Beyond Reason kept her pace and nobody was able to pass her.  br vs the fleet com

 

 

We were very proud of our boat and thrilled to finally have raised both spinnakers at the same time (a first for us).   The best thing about the race was for over three hours we never touched the sails.   All that was necessary to sail the course was steer a little left and a little right while having a cold beer or warm coffee.   It really doesn’t get much better.

 

The winds of change.  25 June, 2013

It has taken a while for the summer moon over Conception com to kick in here on the Baja.   When we crossed over last month we thought we would be enjoying 80 degree plus water and very high temperatures.  What we actually got was cool 70 degree water (you really do need a wet suit at 72 degrees) and very comfortable days and cool nights for the last three weeks.  Only this week has the weather warmed up and the water has become more to our liking and lured us out of the comfort of the cockpit and into its warm wrap around feeling.

 

Apparently the “fun” gods had been sleeping in a bit late with all the cool weather we had experienced but they are finally starting to rouse themselves and with that the “fun” meter is starting to show some increases.

 

Just the other day as we were putting down anchor Lisa exclaimed that “The gosh darn windlass switch is not working”, “What” I said, “The FN anchor won’t go down”.   “Of course it will” I said.   If there is one thing that the anchor will always do, it will go down, even if I have to hand lay it out to do it.   I went forward and sure enough the switch didn’t seem to work.   Of course being a dude, I was sure if I kicked it enough the switch would turn on and so it did.   Dude logic, but the anchor went down.

 

Yesterday as we came around the corner to Santo Domingo anchorage, the auto pilot decided to have a bit of an apoplectic fit and wouldn’t turn into our anchorage.   After dicking with it for 5 minutes I decided I would just hand steer.   It was almost like having to drive myself in a car, hated it!   We have since determined that either the oil needs to be bled of air or the pump will have to be replaced.   We are waiting for re-enforcements before we do anything rash.  The Calvary is on its way and should be here tonight or tomorrow.

 

To really get the fun meter to push into the red our water maker has just been getting slower and slower so we (emphasis on WE), decided to take a little look-see.   Sure enough the water maker was “no looking so fresh”.   Drips and leaks are a part of the machine.  Heck I even showed Lisa in the trouble shooting chart where it said that a little leakage is normal…High pressure technology for you.    And how much is a “little”.   I drink a little beer on weekends, but I am not sure that everyone would agree it is a little or not.   Well, Lisa encouraged me to pull the thing apart to see if “we” could repair it.   12 months ago we did “repair it” with the last of our rebuild kits.  We have about 1/3 of the O-rings and assorted gear to do a proper repair, but what the heck; we are just sitting in paradise with nothing to do so let’s just get on with it.

 

The initial attempt got us no-where but we could confirm that the leak was not coming from the manifold anyway.   With the same amount of leakage as before I was sure the “little” that was coming out (about a cup a minute) was just fine and was determined to put the thing to bed and just drink less water.   Lisa was sure one more try would help and had I really checked all the seals that we could possibly fix; well, no, not really.   I confirmed that we could take a second look in the morning.   It was 6 PM after all and we still have a freezer that made ice, and the coke was cold, and we had plenty of rum in the cabinet.   She relaxed.

 

The fun gods being who they are were thrilled to see me get up this morning.   I laid out everything like a brilliant surgeon and started my work.   I was surprised that after one hour, I hadn’t lost any nuts and actually was able to find a single set of gaskets that just might do the trick.   11 AM and my job was completed, or so we thought.   I turned on the water maker and a bit more than a little water began leaking from the unit.   I was still thinking it was kind of a large little, but I am not an engineer so instead of worrying about the boat sinking I thought I should check out the volume of good water coming from the other end.  Bad news always comes after the little victories, we were getting about 1/3 of normal delivery.  With a little more anger I took to the task of removing the pump again, checking a bit deeper to make sure there wasn’t at least one more O-ring that I might have a spare for.   I didn’t find any spares but it did look like I might have inverted one of the rings which are concaved on one side and straight on the other.   It was a slight correction but I faithfully assembled the pump and put it back into action.

 

pur survivor comIt is at the point that I started the pump, then I got a bit testy with Lisa.   She always means well and many of the things she suggests are correct and items that I have either omitted, forgotten or just didn’t know.    She suggested that the pump was leaking water and perhaps I should think about it some more and have a beer.   OK, proper suggestion and a great thought but ol’ Bill was a bit pissy and snapped.   I should not have, and I think Lisa forgives me, but the pump is still not working correctly.

 

We hope to get a re-build kit from the States in the next couple of weeks.   Luckily for us we have no intention of going further north so the only down side is that we will be lugging 120 gallons of water to the boat anytime we fill up.   For the cost of the rebuild kit we could fill tanks 7 times before recovering the cost.   That would be about 7 months of cruising, don’t ask me why we just don’t de-fragel our world and toss out the water maker.   You don’t even want to know the price of a new auto-pilot!

 

How do you spend time in paradise?  10 June, 2013

We’ve all heard it, whether it was on this website, a travel brochure or from a friend that traveled to Mexico; “The people are wonderful and warm”. Today we finally realized the translation was ““You should meet my Friend/Sister, she/he has a great personality””.

Time management is one of my specialties. If you have read some of the recent posts you will understand that expedience is something that the Dude tries to excel in and even Lisa can attest to that fact that some of our honeymoon festivities did not make the record books for longevity or rather they may have ““Exceeded time Expectations””. OK, enough of the fun stuff. Today we are talking diesel and propane. We did not need either, but thought since we were in Puerto Escondido, why not top them off.

We are often on a limited time budget but today we figured we could save precious time later by ordering propane when we didn’t need it and had time to wait and also fill our diesel tanks even though we have only used about 30 gallons in the last two weeks of moving 300 miles. I know, 10 miles to the gallon. Well listen smarty pants that includes all the power to facilitate straightening Lisa’s hair, keeping the shower water warm, cooling the milk and bacon in the frig and freezer and providing the power for the entertainment center on board Beyond Reason. If I were the comedian Tosh O, I would say “Suck It”. I am not, so just believe me, it is well worth the mileage, we don’t own a Jetta TDI anymore and we know it.

We ordered Diesel on Saturday and dropped off our propane tanks the same day. Since our itinerary was not tight we suggested that Monday would be a good day for the diesel and since the propane farm was not open on Sunday, Monday would work for the propane as well. Both orders were scheduled to deliver well before noon on Monday. …What do you think happened?

We do a lot of work for others on the Ham and Single Southbound Nets. Actually we do well over our share of work and monitor each net daily and fill in when somebody flakes out. Monday we were in attendance and watched over a couple of nets. When they finished we pulled anchor to hit the fuel dock so that we could top off the tanks. No Dice, Three power boats had just tied up and even though we had ordered fuel 2 days previous, they were first in line.

We dropped anchor in the bay near the dock to wait. Lisa suggested we dinghy over to the fuel dock and confirm our order. The man at the dock had a very nice “”Personality”” and was exceptionally “warm and understanding” while we called in our order for fuel (previously ordered). He also confirmed that there would be a $34 tax since we were 43 feet long! OK, good looking or not, there is no personality that is worth $34 for 40 gallons of diesel, Sheryl Teigs or not.

We complained, we pleaded and then were sent by the overly nice guy at the fuel dock to the main office to have it all explained again. Did we say “Nice Personality”?

At the main office we were informed that the tax was correct, but when we explained that we would broadcast the taxing over the Ham and Single Sideband nets, the manager said if we could fuel within 1 hour, it was “Gratis”/ free, we were happy: Kind of I mean. We left smiling thinking that we had found a loop hole and soon we would have our propane (by noon) and our fuel (by 10 or noon, which ever came first). Ha.

At noon we checked on the propane. Having sat in the harbor outside the fuel dock for three hours waiting for somebody to show up, we figured we might as well check to see if the proprietor of the local grocery store showed up with our tanks…. Of course the answer was a courteous “No”…! “Pedro will show up at around 3 pm “unfortunately and we know you understand” he had an appointment today”. Terrific, how about diesel,… Nothing. Everyone continued to smile and remind us how soon stuff would start to arrive.. At 3 PM we were still watching the three power boats tied up to the fuel dock. They were loading ice and drinks but no diesel. Actually there had been no activity on the fuel dock all day so far. Oh you ask, “What about the guy in the grocery store with the propane bottle”, nothing. Apparently he was 1 hour late but surely would arrive at 4 PM, “”You understand correct””. Prrrumph!

Around 4 PM we saw movement at the grocery store. Our propane had arrived. The three powerboats still sat idling at the fuel dock, no fuel in sight. We snagged the propane from the purveyor of the groceries and high tailed it to the boat. As far as we could see we had wasted an entire day of “Manana time” waiting for fuel when we could have been enjoying Margaritas on the deck in some secluded anchorage. The nice people of Mexico had made our wait pleasant enough but looking back at the photo’s of the our date with the “personality packed step sister of a friend”, I am not so sure I really had fun nor am I willing to try it a second time. If I have to schlep fuel from Loreto to the dinghy dock, I will do that, next time.

Does God Hate Mechanics:  26, May 2013

In 1978 I owned a little MG Midget. Beyondreason in marina com To me it was a lady killer, but Lisa might tell you otherwise.   I am pretty sure she would have preferred that I own a Toyota, Datsun of some other reliable car of some sort.  The problem was that MG stands for Morris Garage with the emphasis on “Garage”.

 

Most of my date nights were predicated on whether the ol’ MG was functioning or in my mom’s garage with the Weber Carburetors off and possible the clutch throw-out bearing being replaced.

 

Deep in my Teen-age-hood, I met a mechanic who I had taken the beloved MG to.   I was making about $3 per hour at the time and he knew it.   He took pity on me when I first brought the car in for its first “Clutch repair”.    Not to get too technical but the 1972 Midget (can I even say amongst the PC community?), anyway my 1972 “Little People” used a carbon throw-out bearing.   I drove in traffic and the bearing was good for perhaps 3 months before being renewed.   So as I was saying, I took the car in for the first repair.   The mechanic told me to take the car back home and try to fix it myself.  Worse case scenario would be that I brought him the car back with half the dis-assembly work completed already. The cost to me would be no more than the original clutch repair would be.   Best case, Lisa got a second hamburger and movie out of the deal.

 

Since then and throughout my 52 year venture on this earth I have tried to fix everything I could with the thought that I can goof up a repair as well as anyone, and in any case it probably won’t cost much more it I can’t get it repaired correctly in the first place.  As time went by I made a bit more money and felt that my free time was worth a bit more so I have taken items to mechanics and repair places more and more often; I still know better but I do it occasionally.  Our current diesel leaks fall into this type of situation.

 

We arrived Mazatlan hoping that we would finally fix the last of our diesel leaks.  Originally we asked Bob from Total Yacht Works to do the work for us.   He came over, looked at the leaks and said no trouble but that turned into a week-long wait and his later decision to not do the work for us.  Because of our long history with these leaks and the small number of Nissan SD22’s used in the marine industry we felt we needed to speak to someone with absolute perfect English to solve the issue; we hired Captn’ Rick from Marine Services Mazatlan.

 

Captain Rich is a nice enough guy and happily took on our dripping problem and a small electrical issue we were having with bow thruster.  The electrical work on the thruster went completely perfect and 30 minutes into the job we were complete, hooray.

 

We completed some yard work (the boat out of the water) and then launched on a Thursday morning.   We told Captn’ Rick when we arrived at the marina by noon the same day.   His idea was to come out the next day and work the issues.   When he arrived an saw the engine his idea of fixing our single injector leak was to recondition all of the  injectors…we have money and it is not expensive so OK if that is his suggestion.   We had originally told him that sealing the injectors had been the initial problem and after two attempts we had gotten 3 of the 4 sealed.   He was not perplexed and moved forward.  The injectors arrived from the shop the following Tuesday but unfortunately not the washers needed to seal them.  We had mentioned that the “leak down” gaskets had been a problem in the past but I guess it took a reality check for him to believe us.   He was sure he could have the washers by 2 pm that day, but it took till Wednesday evening for the washers to arrive.   On Thursday washers comhe showed up, washers in hand and 30 minutes later the engine was running again for 5 minutes, then it stopped, one of the washers had blown and was allowing raw fuel to spew into the bilge.

 

Thursday became a throw-away day and we waited for Rick to show again on Friday with new gaskets/washers.   When he retrieved the new washers it was late in the afternoon but still they were installed.  Unfortunately we could not get the engine to run for more than a couple of seconds at a time after installation.   It seems the bleeding of air process was not going well for Rick so eventually he called it a day with a promise to return the next morning at 7:30 AM.   I have to question any mechanic coming at 7:30 so I did and soon it was revised to 8:30 AM.  On Saturday 8:30 ran into 9:30 and then eventually Rick showed at 10:30.   I could have been grumped up but I let it go, it is Mexico.

 

So Rick arrives and does some quick mechanic magic and is ready to fully bleed the system of air.   It took about 30 minutes to get the engine running but it sounded wonderful.   Smooth, peppy and ready to cross the sea, save for the 3 new leaks that now sprouted from the engine, Rick looked defeated and it was Saturday and he had payroll to complete.   Minutes later he was puffing a trail of smoke rings down the dock with the promise to return between 2 and 3pm.   Lisa and I settled into to wait our Saturday out.

 

By 6 pm my impatience was running thin and Lisa was starting to come unglued at the prospect of waiting for yet another set of washers to be procured and a potential Wednesday departure.   It was not a happy night for either of us.

 

As the night angels came and took my mind from me last night I figured and planned that we could give the washers one more shot since we had 3 remaining from our purchase a year ago.  Rick had earlier concluded that the washers we had were the incorrect size and would not use them.   It was a rough sleep but by 8 AM I was ready to deal with the issue myself.   Our plan was to work one washer at a time and check for leaking.  If we were successful with one we would work the others.  If not, it was Ricks issue to deal with on Monday and we would just keep quite and find something relaxing to do.

 

We pulled the first sealing washer to find an unbelievable horror.   I  attached a picture (above) of our old leaking gasket that was removed months ago during another attempt and the “New” washers that Rick had installed.   You will notice our 6 month old used washer ( with 2 small holes) is cleaner, shinnier and more compressible that the “New” washers Rick installed.   In all seriousness Ricks washers look like used or run over washers.   If you notice the small holes (leak downs), they are not even symmetrical or in the washer off center commiddle of the washer mass which they must be.   This was a retarded attempt at fixing a problem on a boat which would have sometime in the near future failed on us.   I was beside myself.

 

In the end we replaced all three of the leaking washers.   It really helped to have almost 24 hours to decide how best to install them but ultimately we know that 3 of 4 are brand new washers.  We have an additional 8 on order from the USA and will replace the 4th washer in the next couple of months.   Today we are leak free, have clean running injectors and fixed a litany of small issues along the way.   By Tuesday morning we will be draggin’ lines and killin’ Mahi Mahi for dinner.

hate mechanics com

Viva Mexico! I hope God hates mechanics as much as I do.  I would hate to see him coming down from the heaven in a chariot of flames and dripping diesel.

Drug dealing and other skullduggery:  19, May 2013

 

We were at the ball game yesterday.   For some reason I needed a baseball fix?  I am not the world’s greatest fan of baseball but I do enjoy watching the game.   If I get really caught up I will keep track of the stats of some of the players but usually this will only happen if the San Francisco Giants are running for the pennant.

We were watching the Mazatlan Tirado’s.   In a rough translation I would call them the Mazatlan Marksmen.  Kind of a cool name since it does not include an animal name, color or oil field reference.   Anyway the Marksmen were the league champions and they were playing a practice game before they left for Ventura, California to play a tournament in the USA.

 

These eight and nine year old kids were certainly on top of their game.   The catcher was giving signals to the picture, the batters were taking signs from their coaches, and Lisa and I were taking signals from the lady selling home made popsicles indicating that we should buy a couple to help support the team.    We did what we could.

 

After a couple of hours we had had our fill of ball.  The Tirado’s had won but we kind of knew that would happen in the beginning.   The other team which was made up of All Stars put on a good showing but was absolutely no match for the “Men”.    We wandered back to the bus stop and then the boat before 6 PM and had our customary cocktails while looking out over the water in the harbor.  It was a Saturday night and things were starting to liven up.

A tour boat carrying a newly married couple and all their entourage showed up with speakers vibrating on the foredeck.   Several minutes later two more tour boats showed up and since nobody was getting married they had apparently decided that nobody had a reputation to protect or parents to answer to so they put the married barge to shame with hoots, hollers, and half dressed men and women gyrating on the front deck of both boats.   Yes the evening was getting interesting.

 

When the boat disembarked the noise level dropped a bit and we could see the new bride and groom being led around the marina to pose in front of the fountain, beside the blossoming trees and for some reason on the incline of the launch ramp.   I don’t get it, but almost everyday people come down to the marina to have Quinceanera pictures, glamour shots and wedding photos taken.  They always have to have the bride or pretty girl pose on the launch ramp.  Perhaps it is to indicate launching into a new stage of life, a funny metaphor if you think that it could represent a slippery slope or an up hill battle.  Any, I think I would prefer something a bit more picturesque than a concrete ramp with skid marks on it.  To each his own.

 

Last week we had a wedding party that lasted ‘till almost three in the morning directly across from the boat.   Lisa was complaining about the noise until I told her she was getting old and just didn’t like seeing somebody being louder than she had been in the last three months.   This couple must have decided on something else since the area around the boat and the marina went quiet soon afterwards and just a light din could be heard from the few restaurants that dot the harbor.   We turned in for an early night about 9 pm.   The temperature had dropped with the music level and a little National Public Radio was pulled up on the I-Pod that we keep in the bedroom, “Tranquillo” as they say here in manana land.

 

 

It was around 0430 in the morning when we heard the first shots ring out.   Four shots in quick succession then two more quickly spaced.   This kind of startled us or at least it startled Lisa out of bed.   Within a minute there were another four shots then two more.   Not sure the reasoning for the spacing but apparently the culprits of the shooting could only count to four then realizing there were still two more shots in their six shooters, fire the fifth and sixth rounds.

By now I was starting to think that perhaps I should get up and see what all the skullduggery was about, but I am a man that does not like to interfere in others cultures so I slowly began to rise out of bed when a 5 second burst of automatic machine gun fire shattered what was left of my tranquil night, I got up.

 

Lisa and I were both ready to go outside and see what was going on but somehow the thought of our canvass dodger vs. the 1” fiberglass hull of the boat providing adequate cover for us led us to stay inside for while.

 

Eventually we drifted outside expecting to see hundreds of cops and ambulances converging on the marina, but nothing.   The more we waited the more nothing happened till cops and Lisa comwe eventually just let the morning happen as it does just about every day after dawn.

 

Lisa eventually sleuthed out the information from the locals.   Apparently the evil doers were in a shootout with the cops.   The guys that couldn’t count their shots were the bad guys.  The ones that sent an endless stream of 5.56 caliber rounds back at them were the cops.   Cops 2, bandito’s 0

 

No need to call Judge Judy, the bandito’s don’t need a lawyer at this point.

 

Slingin’ it!  15, May 2013

The appointment was at 9 AM, we had some trouble with understanding the rules of the haul-out so we arrived at 8 AM to sort out the issues with Groupo Naval.   Actually there were no real issues they just needed 6,000 pesos to start the job.   Of course we always run around with thousands of pesos in our pockets so the payment was just a matter of pulling out 12, 500 peso bills and the deal was sealed.   We feel so rich when we deal in pesos, unfortunately it would take many thousands more to make the final payment and the ATM limits our pesos every day so it will be several days more before we can make the full withdrawal.

 

A couple of minutes after nine the Travel Lift operator arrived and we were given the signal to bring the boat in.   By 9:20 we were tied up on the wharf and ready for the lifting folks to do their magic.

 

Lifting a boat always feels like a big deal but frankly we have lifted Beyond Reason perhaps 10 times over the time we have owned her and for the most part it is routine.  Since we had arrived well in advance of our lifting time we figured all would go like normal and by 10 AM we should be snugged up on stands in the marina yard.

 

Lift comOn queue the travel lift moved over us with the slings submerged.   If you are unfamiliar with travel lifts they could be described as a type of four wheel crane.  It is built much like a box with one end removed and canvass slings hanging from the top.  The open end of the crane/box moves around the boat until the boat is inside the box.   The slings are then lowered under the boat and lifted again to pull the boat from the water.   Our particular travel lift handles approx 50 tons so our 22 ton boat should fit very nicely into its lifting capacity.

 

The slings were position under the boat in what we remembered as a correct area of the boat for the lift and minutes later the lift began.   Lisa was just telling me how nervous she felt when the boat finally began to lift from the water.   I told her it was so anti- climatic to me that I never give it a second thought.   During this conversation we had been lifted approximately 4’ out of the water with another 10 to go.   Almost as if on que from Lisa, the boat took a sudden lurch forward, the head stay slacked and then tighten and almost immediately and the boat dropped perhaps 6” in the forward section.   As I watched I notice the 50 ton travel lift  nearly compress its huge front tires flat then flung it self backwards enough to lift the tires an inch or two off the ground, then everything fell silent.  The travel lift slings had slipped on the hull either from not being properly supported laterally or from poor placement.   Lisa was freaking out.  I was a bit calmer but concerned and the travel lift operators were all looking wide eyed and concerned.

 

After a bit of examination the lift continued, slowly and soon the deck of the boat was even with the dock and we were allowed to get off.   The boat is now 7’ above the water.   After we got off the operators all recheck the slings and for some reason decided the lift was unsafe and dropped the boat back in the water.   It’s good to know they had enough since to put it back, but they really could have just placed it in the water with us in it instead of lifting us up on a potential catastrophe just to let us off.

 

The slings were readjusted and a lift began again.   Dismayingly we noticed that the boat was always lifted with the bow lower than the back.   Our concern of course is that a sail boat such as ours has most of its ballast in the forward section of the keel.   Having the bow nose down just seemed like an invitation for the boat to slide merrily out of the slings and into the water at any chance it had.   The boat was again lifted perhaps six feet in the air and then it was placed back in the water and the slings were again adjusted.  This time the slings were placed closer together with the most forward of the two slings only at the mid point of our boat.    I know this is hard to comprehend, but our boat is 43 feet long.   In a typical operation one sling would be approximately 10 feet from the bow and the other about 10 feet from the tail; this leaves about 20 feet in the middle section.   This time the operator moved the forward sling 20 feet from the bow, and left the rear sling, about 10 feet from the tail, bill vs the travel liftleaving just 10 feet in between the two straps and nearly half the boat, everything forward of the front strap, unsupported.   From what I could see the forward strap would be supporting nearly the full weight of the boat, and the aft sling would just support the boat if the world suddenly did a back flip; I stopped the operation.

 

I fully believe that the travel lift operators are well trained before getting the job but I had to weigh in on what I was seeing and how I perceived all the previous 10 years of lifting to have gone.   Although time was not a problem for us, these guys had been lifting and repositioning slings for 2 hours and the boat was still in the water and now looked to be in a perilous position.   I advised the head lift operator what my thoughts were, then told him to proceed as he saw fit while I went to the marina office to draw a picture of the correct way to lift a boat.   30 minutes later the boat was still in the water and discussions were still going on.   Lisa and I sat back and watched.

 

As the noon hour approached the slings were removed from the boat, which was still water borne, and some additional lateral slings were added.  The lateral slings would be to prevent the two canvass belts from separating from each other once the boat was in them. The lift was repositioned over the boat again and the slings spread to their widest or longest arrangement.  Surprisingly the slings were dropped and positioned 10’ from the bow and 10’ from the stern as I had originally suggested.   The boat was lifted without incident and at a near death crawl moved to its position in the yard.

 

We thought the excitement was through as they started to disconnect the slings but there was still a slip of the slings after the boat was securely on the ground but not yet fully released from the lift.  This sent workers scattering from beneath the boat, but again no damage was done except to the lift operator’s ego, since they should have released the tension on the straps equally instead of from the back first.   The final bit of fun was when the travel lift operator tore an electrical cable from and outlet and carried it far enough to nearly pull a workers sander from his hands, on the boat next to our, before the lift was stopped.

 

Just another walk in the sun for us.   How was your commute?

It’s a foul world, 28 April, 2013

Hot dogs and dead pets comAt 28’ long by 18’ wide, I had passed it before and was pretty sure what it was, Lisa on the other hand was just a bit more curious and wanted to be sure so we asked the hombre that was standing next to the gate and filling a large cooler with beer if it was for “Pollo Box”.   Sorry but my vocabulary at the time was just not coming to me but the guy quickly retorted “Si, hoy”.   We were elated.   We quickly confirmed with a bit more broken Spanish and a confident English version of “Tonight”.   Yes tonight was to the night at 9 PM.    We assured our new amigo that we would return after we took our groceries back to the boat and walked the dog.

 

I don’t know how long we have wanted to see a chicken fight but we were really looking forward to this “cultural” experience.  As we continue to hear on all the cruisers radio nets, “Remember we are guests here in Mexico so act accordingly, and while their customs and traditions may be different from our own, respect them. But most of all have fun”.   There was a fair going on in town so everything felt festive and after taking care of boat business we drove the dinghy back to shore and went in search for some street tacos and local brew.  Today, unlike so many others, was going to be a straight up Mexican night without gringo restaurants or influence.   We eventually wandered around and came back up to the fight ring.  Not really sure if you can call a rectangle a ring but just outside sat that quintessential Mexican cuisine de dia, Tocino wrapped Salchicha’s, or for those with just a English to Spanish dictionary in their hands, bacon wrapped hot dogs.   The Mexican bacon wrapped hotdog is similar in emotional delight for me as I think most East Coasters feel about New Castle Hamburgers or Nathans Hot Dogs in the States.   You find the stands that sell these beauties all over Mexico and on the right night you might find a stand on just about every corner.   The dogs certainly are not healthy.   I can attest to always have 2 or 3 even though I know when I get home my stomach will feel upset.   Not really a sick type of upset, just a grumbly, what the heck did you do kind of upset.   The feeling usually lasts a couple of hours and then everything is fine, but it is just something that you know will happen.  Regardless it is but a small price to pay for such a delicious meal.   The price is usually fitting for street food and rarely do you pay more than $1 per dog and often you can catch people offering them 3 for $1.

 

We picked up a couple of heart stopping dogs and then paid our $5 for entrance and a couple of bucks a piece for beer.   Our total investment being about $15 for both Lisa and  I to attend what in the United States might have cost us 6 month in jail.  One of the locals took us under their wings and tried to explain some of the major rules of fighting Gallo’s or Cock Fighting.   We understood that the fights would include knives and usually the fight was to the death (usually just one bird, but sometimes even the winner loses everything).

 

We had about an hour to wait but fight fowl box comthe beer was cold and of course the hot dog stand was just 50 feet from our chairs so we didn’t mind.   There were two teams already set up.   I don’t know what makes you part of one team or the other but we sat on the Verde (Green) side, and 28’ away was the Rojo (Red) side.    What surprised us the most was that only about 15 others people besides the bird owners were in the stands.   Beings that this is a major tradition for Mexico we anticipated the stands would be filled, but not tonight.   The ring was lit by a piece of plywood with four of the largest CFL lights we had ever seen screwed into the wood.   It is nice to see that conservation is catching on in Mexico even though animal rights are lingering a bit.   The wiring as you might expect was suspect but we had the best seats in the house and if an evacuation for fire or explosion would have been necessary we would have been the first people out or the first to be trampled..

 

Our local friend came by again about an hour into our wait to apologize for the delay in the fight but apparently somebody hadn’t received all the notices and we were either waiting for them to arrive or the stars to align or something.   15 minutes later the Rojo side of the ring picked up their birds and just left.  I looked at Lisa and said that something didn’t look right just about the time our friend showed up again and explained that the Red team had left, “well duh”.   Anyway the fight would be held the next day around 1 or 2 pm.   “Well, we will return then” we said and drifted out into the night enjoying a bit of the fair before heading home and thinking that even traditions are held in manana time..

 

On Sunday we arose all filled with excitement again about the “Cultural Event” we were about to witness.   We arrived early enough this time to drink a couple of afternoon cerveza’s and order a couple of tacos from across the street.   The hot dog lady was just outside but even though everything is better with bacon, we had our fill the previous day so today was Adobada Tacos, still a local favorite.   The atmosphere was definitely different today and we wondered whether the organizers had just gotten their dates wrong yesterday.   Today we saw at least 10 separate teams with 5 or more birds each.   The official, Mexican government sanctioned, Corredors (betting runners) who are a bit like Kino Girls if you are familiar with Las Vegas, were in attendance with their bright, starched white shirts and logos.    The crowd which started small had swelled to perhaps a couple of hundred folks and left little room to stand in the small arena and even the bingo machine was working to take up the time between matches.  You could feel the anticipation and it felt good.

 

The basics of the match weighin comstart with the birds being weighed.   We don’t know what the weight classes are but most of the matches we watched involved birds in the 2.5 Kilo range (about 5 ½ pounds).   The birds actually looked bigger than the dressed birds we see in the grocery store which weight up to 5 lbs dressed and cleaned but Lisa reminded me that most of the grocery bird have been injected with water or raise in closed pens which restricts exercise and puts the pounds on the bird in the form of fat.  In any event these are not your standard barnyard chickens.  They are mostly leg and their leg bone structure is definitely enhanced to be used at weapons not for scratching bit’s of worm from the barnyard terrain.

 

Once weighed, the birds are leashed and walked around the ring to loosen up. It a little like one of those dog shows you see on the animal planet:  The bird running around the stage with the handler trying to keep the bird under control but keep the lead loose as well.  Anyway during this period the owners brings out a single spur or knife, that will be attached to one of the birds’ legs, for inspection by an official to assure it does not exceed a certain size.  Once blessed the knife is attached to one of the birds’ legs.   We thought the birds would be armed from head to foot but actually it is just a single blade that they wear.  The blade is attached to area that naturally has a large talon growing out of it.  This talon has been removed somewhere in the life cycle of the bird so the armament must seem like a natural appendage to the bird when it is attached.

The bird owners are involved in each aspect of the fight but they are accompanied by a bird handler as well.  To us it really makes a huge difference to have a handler that knows what they are doing.   When the matches started both Lisa and I could pick out the winners of most of the matches based on the care the handler took in preparing the bird, tying the knife onto the birds’ leg and encouraging the bird when the chips were down.

 

You might scoff at the word encouragement or actually think that it meant shoving the bird into an already lost match to try and save face but actually encouragement or the coaching of the bird was so extremely important.   cockfight intense comWe watched several birds that looked total overwhelmed by another’s battle strategy, but when “time” was called, the good handlers could literally breath life back into the bird through stroking, cooling with water and even sucking the nostrils clean so the bird could breath easier.   I kept thinking about bird flu, but apparently the handlers where confident in their healthcare as it didn’t seem to bother them.   In more than one instance, including one match that we made a polite bet on and were certain we were winning, the badly beaten bird was revived by it’s trainer and ended up winning the match. Coaching was huge and to us costly.

 

stage  1 fight comWhen the birds are outfitted and ready, they are taken to the center of the ring and on a command released.   The fight continues until the birds became locked up or one loses.   Locking up is sometimes caused by one bird putting the other in a head hold, and stage 2 fight comothers times it can be caused by the actual knife holding the two birds together.   In either instance a count of ten is made and then the handlers are allowed to go in and separate the birds before the fight resumes.   In the end of course one bird would give in.   The winner was the last bird standing or in some instances breathing.    We asked our friend if both birds usually died and he said yes, but we later learned that this was not really true.   We watched perhaps 10 matches.  Of the ten, five birds certainly lived and as a matter of fact were not injured at all that we would tell.   Of the five other winners we can’t be sure who actually survived.  I did meet an owner while wandering around the ring between bouts.   He had one of the questionable birds that had won but who had looked pretty bad about an hour before.  The bird was standing around crowing and otherwise enjoying itself save for the large gash it received on it thigh.   My guess is about 70% of the winners live to fight another day or go into the breeding program.

 

The characters you meet Jose the cock fight ownerat these matches certainly meet with the imagination of most people.  My new owner friend, Jose, is definitely one of them.   If I had met him some place else I might have either crossed to the other side of the street or called the cops in anticipation of what would come next.   At the meet he was filled with good information and as pleasant a soul as anyone could wish to meet.    The tattoo’d tear near his eye and spider webs on his arms told me that he might have lived a much less socially acceptable life than I, but we got along well and soon we got into a discussion about the raising of the birds.  He said that champion chicks can command about $100 US, and the Gallo with the gash in his leg would bring about $600 if he were to sell it.  According to Jose, raising the birds is like owning a dog.   You walk them daily, feed them only the best feed and genuinely love the birds as pets.

 

The birds are only allowed to fight one fight per night, and each owner if given approximately 10% of the betting proceeds from the match as well as the chance to win over $2,000 US if his team comes in first place.

 

The betting was fun.  Lisa and I watched the birds and handlers and as I said we quickly understood who the favored bird in each match was.   When we finally put $200 pesos down (about $20 and the minimum bet) we realized that each bet had to have a matching bet from the opposite side.   You could bet on either the red or green side and that really didn’t have much bearing on anything, but when you bet on a green bird you had to wait until somebody would take your bet on the red bird or your bet was returned to you.   Being first time betters we only wanted to place the minimum bet.   We were offered a bet of $300 pesos, but said no and waited for somebody to take our $200 pesos bet.   It turned out a nice man that we had spoken to beside us took pity on our cheap bet and accepted the bet for the other side.   No money was exchanged till after the match.

 

Lisa had chosen well and our match lasted about 60 seconds.   The guys that took our bet graciously gave up his cash to the Corredor who took $20 pesos for the bird owners and gave us the remainder.   We were please to have successfully placed and won a bet even though we were sure the man who bet against us only did it so our bet would go through.

 

We didn’t bet on the next match though I told Lisa which bird would win.   Again not 60 seconds later my bird had won and we were happy that we had caught on to the culture of Mexico.   We were ready to leave even though there were many matches yet to come.   My mom will likely read this and as an avid PETA supporter she will be appalled that we attended the match.  In reality for me, and I think for Lisa as well we didn’t feel that there was much cruelty in the matches.  The birds are naturally aggressive towards each other.   At no time did anyone have to force a bird to fight, and the rules actually say that if a bird refuses to fight the match is awarded to the other bird.  final stage fight com When death came it usually came quickly.   Only one match went over the typical five minute rule (there were some issues with the weapons coming loose), if any suffering was sustained it never lasted more than five minutes.   I don’t even think that Tyson or Foster Farms Chickens can claim that their pain lasts for less than 5 minutes and there really is no chance of winning a fight against Foster Farms once you enter their ring.   I have seen the conveyors that the chickens are attached to when processing.

 

From what we saw the fighting bird gets extremely good care throughout their existence and the owners really appear to have a great respect and devotion to their bird right to the end.

 

As we were about to leave out neighbor who had accepted our bet previously asked if we would take his bet on the next match.   We hadn’t looked at these next two birds but since the guy had been nice enough to accept our bet we couldn’t turn him down as it seemed like the honorable thing to do while we were in his country.   To add to our experience he did not want to use the Corredors, this was a bet between two gentlemen.   We had heard this type of betting goes on as well so again we didn’t have any issues.   As I eluded to before, our bird this time lost.   In the beginning it looked like we were going to win again but the handler of our bird was slow in removing a tangle up with the two birds and I believe that gave our friends bird the chance to recover with the aid of one of the most intense handlers we had seen in the arena.

 

I gave up the $200 pesos to our friend opposition and thanked him for the opportunity and then we left.   Would I go again, yes, would I seek out an event, no.   It was fun and an experience that we had never had before.  Ultimately it will become one of the memories of Mexico that we will hold on to for a long time.

 

Personal Issues.  27, April 2013

“Just practice your patience and everything will be fine”.   My mom use to say that years ago.   It might have been one of the few lessons that I never seemed to learn well.   Waiting for Pedro comPotentially I am who I am because I never learned the lesson and so when people say I am a Type A personality, I attribute most of it to the fact that I don’t have a lot of patience when things are not done on my timeline.   Having worked in the transportation field my impatience has probably helped to speed along a delivery of some goods that you were impacted by in some way or shape.   In Mexico perhaps my lack of patience does not serve me quite to well.   Lisa will often comment that I am not only short on patience but that my impatience is running thin as well, I don’t know what the next descending patience feeling is after impatience but that is probably my static level on most days.

 

Today is day three of being in Puerto Vallarta.   We have planned to stay till Monday which will be day five so really waiting is not that big of a deal.   On day one we contacted our rigger (the dude that puts all the stainless wire on the boat to hold up the masts).   We had two items for him at the time.   Number one was to check our rigging since it was new four months ago and could have and actually should have stretched a bit an may require some “tuning”.   The second item was to take a second look at a quote for bottom paint that he gave us several months ago.   It took till day two to tell us that the quote was the best he could do.   It was also day two that he was to come to the boat for the rigging but then had troubles at home which he needed to deal with so that got delayed.   This morning at 9 AM we were to pick him up from the dock to come take a look at the rig.

 

Lisa and I have had a terrible time with working out the Daylight savings thing that changes our clocks almost a month ago.   The sun doesn’t set till almost 9 pm here, so dinner is usually late and bedtime is even later.   When the sun finally does poke its head above the hills at 8 AM we are just beginning to stir up the dog, make coffee, turn on the daily boat news and generally start out day.   Around 11 AM we are ready to run errands, or at least that is how our typical day goes.    This morning everything got turned around as we tried to make a normal day out of being ready by 9 AM.    I know, most of you are thinking 9 AM; I have already gone to Starbucks, dashed through traffic and opened up Facebook on the company computer by that time.   Sorry, it is just the way things go around here.  I am no stranger to early starts but when in Manana land you have to do as the Mananan’s do.   Somehow we got bamboozled by a rigger that though he could break the mold and be to work by 9 AM.   No dice.

 

We called the rigger about 9:05 AM (I told you I was impatient).   I swear I could hear his serape fall off his still prone body when I asked what was up.   He of course tried to lead me to believe he was in Puerto Vallarta (perhaps at the marina) but when you hear the bathroom door close behind the person on the other side of the phone I was sure he meant Nuevo Vallarta which is where his home is located.   He said he would be here soon but he would call on the radio, of course he would.   Its 11:05 now, no radio calls.

 

smile comWith 2 more days of waiting on weather windows you would think I might be OK with waiting; not so much.  The problem with waiting is the same one you have when you want your cable fixed, your tires rotated or Double Mocachino, half and half, latte Veinte for your morning commute.   It is going to get to you in the next couple of minutes but you crave your free time and that does not include waiting for some Yo-Yo to finish his breakfast, the car in front of your or even to empty the espresso cup and fill it with fresh beans, they all should have thought ahead when they saw you coming.   Nope, I want my free time as well.   Waiting on the rigger is no fun.   I could be on the beach, at the internet café or spending time irritating my wife, but instead I wait.

 

I am running out of impatience.

Shades of Samuel Langhorne Clemens.. 18, April 2013

 

“Why don’t you just go my waxin' lisa comshopping and I will polish the boat”. Yup, Lisa was in one of those moods again.  Other men could be daunted by such directness, but not me. Yo Ho Ho, 3 bottles of rum…. oh, 2 cases of beer, Limes, tonic water, eggs, butter and shrimp.   Just another day of shopping on board Beyond Reason.   The Sailors life for me.

 

The only discouragement I have is that we have switched out the big outboard for the little 3.5 Nissan that has been dunked in the sea more times than we can remember and abused like Linda Blair’s rag doll during the filming of The Exorcist.   Dog gone if this shopping trip could take all day and I will be missing out on Stainless Polishing.  Geez I feel like Tom Sawyer.   Don’t think that we have run out of Blue Jobs for me to do, I am sure I can still find some but I did get the main engine running flawlessly yesterday.

 

We had been having trouble with the engine coming up short in revs by about 500 RPM’s.   This may not sound like much but it is the difference between traveling at just under 2 knots or booking along at nearly 6 knots.   Either one is still just faster than a quick jog but when the weather gets bad or nightfall is just around the corner the difference could be several extra hours at sea when we would rather be in bed or watching the sun fall below the rail from the front porch.

The fault of the diesel did not turn out to be any of the big issues I had told Lisa might cause the problem.   We had spent the night discussing everything from the engine governor to the main fuel pump or even a lost cylinder.   As usual the project kept me from getting a good nights sleep so at 6 AM I started disassembling the boat to find torque wenches, sockets, filters, leak-down gaskets, fan belts (might as well replace these while I am already dirty, greasy and cussing), and a light.  Lisa was not up yet so I was as quiet as I could be when I pulled the settee away from the engine and started working on what would be the least difficult task that might fix the issue:  Fuel Filters.

 

We had changed the primary filter just a couple of weeks ago but the secondary filter had left alone as we usually don’t bother with it until we see 100 hours or more on the engine.   The secondary filter is a little more involved as it requires bleeding the engine and usually a good amount of diesel spilling into the bilge which ultimately has to be soaked up (preferred) or washed out to sea (not really in the interest of being Green), so we look for a good harbor when ever we do this filter.

 

I inspected the filter when we got it off and to me this did not look like the cause of our trouble as the filter we were using looked cleaner than the new one I was installing but the job went easy enough with the help of a full roll of paper towels.    Before I started the fuel system bleeding I figured we should try to finally fix the slight diesel leak we have had since February of last year on the #1 cylinder.   This involved replacing the leak down gasket that we ordered and installed last May at a cost of $0.50 each plus $100 in shipping costs.   At the time we had 4 leaking gaskets but were able to seal up 3 with the first try.    As we pulled the fuel line from the #1 injector I did notice that there was a small amount of air just under the joint we had disconnected.

 

The thing about diesel engines is that the smallest amount of air can keep fuel from getting to the combustion chamber.   During our last filter change we were sure everything was clear, but then again it could have just been that for the last 20 miles we have been running on 3 cylinders as we never pushed the engine since Manzanillo.

 

Once the gasket was replaced I called Lisa to help with the bleeding.   If you are not familiar with bleeding a diesel it involves opening up otherwise good connections throughout the fuel system and then sending pressurized diesel down the lines to purge even the smallest amount of air from the system.   This is not really a difficult job but again while you wait at each connection for the last air bubbles to pop out you are dribbling diesel all over the inside of the bilge.  We got the job done and surprisingly the engine started right up and after a brief warm up we threw the throttles forward and the engine cranked up to nearly 2,100 RPM’s which to us is 100% of what we expect from it.

 

We celebrated with breakfast and then I pulled and replaced all the belts on the engine so I think most of our periodic maintenance is done for a while.   The old belts looked good but the last time we thought they were in fine shape we nearly overheated the engine, so an ounce of cure for us this time.

 

Well I guess I need to get rolling along so I can make it back for cocktail hour.   We should be out of Bara in the next week.   We are in a hurry to get North because of the promise of good fishing and clear water, but with water temperatures in the mid 60’s up North the hurry doesn’t have to mean now either.

 

What it really means.  22 March, 2013

At the 3d Movie in Manzanillo bcd's com

In the military these were called “BCD’s”, or Birth Control Devices. In Mexico they are 3d glasses.

The other day my friend Paul from the boat Grace was telling me about his blog.   I had mentioned how proud Lisa and I were for having reach 10,000 hits last month after just a year of having the new site up.   Paul countered by telling me he had over 20,000.   Like most guys I am competitive, and in that competition feel that my writing and website content are up to par with at least some of the better writers doing free blogs.   I am not saying that I think Paul is a lesser writer than I, but he hasn’t written in about 4 months yet still gets hits.

 

Lisa and I try to keep things fresh on the site.   We don’t rely on photo’s to make up large amounts of content but instead like to give you the 1,000 words that a picture is said to contain.   Of course this is good for you the reader at work since your boss doesn’t know if you are actually reading a tech manual or if you are skimming time from the clock.   If we clustered the site with pictures you would have to look over your shoulder most of the day and if Lisa was wearing another stunning bikini somebody would certainly accuse you of looking at porn.   Anyway I am diverting from the actual subject that I started with and that was how the heck does Paul do it?

 

We are new to using tags.   For those that are in our category, tags are key words that the internet looks for when you look up a website.   If for example you were looking for mating habits of the East Tibetan Silk Worm, you might enter those words in your browser.   Assuming I tagged one of my posts with Little Worms or Eastern Mexican Toilet habits, you would most like see our website come up near the top of your search.   You wouldn’t find anything about the Tibetan Silk Worm, but you might see a post about maggots or out houses in Eastern Puerto Vallarta.

 

My friend Paul apparently is smarter than we give him credit for as he does use tags to his advantage.   During our conversation Paul mentioned that he tagged one of his blogs with a pharmaceutical name of some sort.   I don’t know if it was Viagra, Cialis or something to do with heart medication but apparently he picks up hundreds of hits each week because of the tag.    He swears he only has two readers that actually follow him and Judy, but this little bit of insight certainly made me rethink how impressive 10,000 hits really were or in this case really are not.   I am going to have to go back and be sure I haven’t’ tagged our site with words like Male Enhancement, Pintrest or Anime (all the geeks love these cartoons),  unfortunately we can’t stop putting in the Sparky’s name into the blog and that most likely gets the most hits of all.

 

Come to think of it, Sparks writes just about as much as Paul does.   Perhaps I should take a hint.

 

It’s all possible.  19 March, 2013

We the people com“Well, anything is possible in Mexico; you just need to know how to do it”.  The words were music to my ears.   Having been in Mexico and looking for obscure boat parts, peanut butter, dish soap that actually cuts grease, real bacon, anything other than Turkey hot dogs (really, I have heard that the US uses more turkey than any other nation but in Mexico, if you want ham, chances are it is turkey ham, Bacon is mostly turkey bacon, hotdogs or lunch meat is again turkey, it’s amazing there is not Pavo (Spanish for turkey) that is flavored as broccoli) and Secret deodorant (“strong enough for a man but made for a women”, and this cowboys favorite), I know most anything is possible.   Be that as it may, we still can not find Bug Bombs, fine thread SAE bolts, Padron cigars, tomato paste or parts for a US imported Yamaha engine.   There are other items we are missing but we don’t crave Triskets, Oreo Cookies or Cheese Wiz so we have soldiered on.

 

Lisa and I woke up very early yesterday.   We had rented a car from Manzanillo to take Lisa to the airport in Puerto Vallarta. Chances are that the plane fare from Manzanillo to San Jose, CA would have cost less than the combine cost of the car, flight and bus fares that I paid yesterday, but in the grand scheme of things we thought there might be a possibility that I would bring the boat up to Puerto Vallarta while Lisa was gone.  Chances are slim but you can never be too prepared.

 

To help make the decision easier, Lisa is bringing the failed Garmin GPS unit back and Mexico makes that just a little bit more work than it would have been in the US.   Part of the requirement to bring the item up to the US and then exchange it for a working part to bring back to the boat is to have the old unit inspected by Aduana (Mexican Customs).   The work with Aduana is actually easy.  Finding an Aduana agent to help you is the tough part.

 

Puerto Vallarta airport is similar to many small town airports: 4 airline docks and one way into the docks and one exit.   If you have friends coming you don’t have to worry about them exiting the building without walking by you as the only exit door is the one you will be at.   Aduana is located inside that exit door.   Airport security won’t let you go “in” the “out” door because of “security” so you have to call, we did.

 

The Aduana agent that we spoke with told us to come inside and find the special door within the terminal and that is when the fun began to happened.   Unlike most US ports which only have the occasional Hari Krisna guys wandering around in their orange pajama’s asking for donations and plunging roses or some other do-dad into your face, Mexico has an actual “Lair de Accosting” or “Tomb of Molestation” which is between the airplane that you just got off, and the Taxi barkers on the outside of the terminal.  No matter who you are or how encumbered you are with baggage, no less than six guys will assault you with a pleasant smile trying to get you to come to a 45 minute presentation for their condo/timeshares.  Even salmon like Lisa and I who were going the wrong way got side tracked by these guys.   All we wanted were directions to door 1833 or was that 4377 (sorry 10 year old boy joke).   When we explained to one of the guys what we needed, he was sure what we actually needed was to go talk to the guy from the Mayan resort.  He didn’t say so in so many words but that is what we got.   The man from the Mayan quickly figured we were not in the mood to purchase a time share.  He did try to be helpful but when he explained to a new security guard what we wanted we had to re-explain as the guys Spanish was worse than ours and the security guard could not understand him.   When I busted out my excellent Spanglish the idea was conveyed perfectly and we got a resounding, “No puerta 1833”.  OK, back to the phone.

 

Eventually we did hook up with an Aduana agent and 30 minutes later we were free to have Lisa return to the states with our ailing GPS unit.   Next stop was INM, Instituto Nacional de Migracion, La Migra as the home boys call it.   We have documented so many items regarding our legality in Mexico I dread even bringing up another.   The law is the law and as explained before most of the representatives of INM have told us we must fly to the States then can re-enter Mexico again to get a new Visa.   This rule has always seemed a little sideways to me.  Mexico gets nothing from my spending $500 on a round trip ticket from PV to LA and back to PV just to see the same representative, even on the same day, so I can then pay $230 pesos to re-enter the Mexican country.   Lisa eventually found a reason to return to the states and is doing that just now.   I on the other hand have tried to work with the guys to see if reason or logic could settle into the situation.

 

Since there just happens to be an INM at the airport, and our instructions from Manzanillo INM were to see INM when we departed the country to turn in our paperwork, Lisa and I decided to visit the booth.   The person working the desk was pleasant and quickly afforded Lisa a new Visa so she could get on the plane and fly home.   While they were filling out the form I asked if perhaps there was an additional fee or special program that would allow me to get an extended 180 day Visa without leaving the country.  “Well, anything is possible in Mexico; you just need to know how to do it”.  “Perhaps I can help you find a way in 10 minutes”.   The person was just a bit busy at the time since a new flight had arrived and they needed to stamp in all the Visa documents from the new arrivals.   5 minutes later I was asked to step forward to the empty desk and was explained to that the area was monitored by cameras and bright lights so everything that happened at that desk was watched and very legitimate.   I was awestruck and impressed by the formality and quickly acknowledged that it was important to have safeguards like that to keep the country safe.   I was then asked if I had money to pay for the courtesy of an extension and if so how much it was worth to me.

 

We have found flights to the U.S. for as little as $499 round trip.   A bus ride is close to $400.   Renting a car to the U.S. plus the gas for 3000 miles of journey and a couple of nights in a flea-bag hotel would be over $1000 but the dog could travel with us.  When asked a question about what something is worth to not have to hassle packing bags, setting up sitters for the boat and bus travel, I was speechless.    I had to ask the agent what the customary fee was in a situation like this but then added that $1,000 pesos would be a bargain but I was willing to pay what ever fee was necessary to be allowed to use the “special exception”.

 

“How about $1,500 pesos” the agent asked.   At this time I was thinking about the cameras.   I don’t know if the airport actually watched this agent but I was sure that the agent must have had a camera trained on my wallet when Lisa and I checked 5 minutes ago to see how much we had to pay for any program that might be available.  I tried to be cool but actually I think I pulled the money out so quickly that had I been doing that trick were you pull the table cloth out from all your grandma’s good china on a table, I would have been successful.  I tried to keep the money from view but the agent did not seem the least concerned.  The form was filled out, my passport was stamped and the agent said, “Welcome to Mexico”, not even “Bienvenida a Mexico”, these agents really do know how to make a person feel at home.  I don’t even get that type of greeting from the US customs agents when I cross the border.   It’s good to be wanted, now let me see about those Padron Cigars!

News from Santiago, Mexico.  10 Mar, 2013

 

M.W.W. wants time with A.S.S. on beach.   If the VHF radio was anything like the Craigs list want adds at home I am pretty sure that is how the print would have come out.   It is funny the things you hear on the radio.   Lisa and I of course have excellent radio etiquette and would never be heard saying stuff that you couldn’t say in a 2nd grade school room, but I think we share most of that with you on the home page anyway.  This morning was a classic.

 

The funniest part of the radio contact was that we know the people, not well, but well enough to believe that they believe they just might be a notch or two higher on the evolution category than the rest of us “cruising on a budget” types.  Perhaps they were really popular in Glee Club or even parleyed that into a being a club booster for their kids football team and then moved on to arranging the company Christmas party, but in any event when you get somebody calling to the Fleet (that is every boat in the anchorage for those who live in Winters CA), that “if anyone would like to meet me at the club for a little chit chat please feel free to call”  to me they are either really lonely, i.e. Craig’s List, or they feel they are so important that everyone is just lying around waiting on them to call with an opening in their social agenda.

 

So the call goes out….silence, for a long time, silence.  Damn lady that had to hurt; a prom queen without a court.   It could have been that everyone had their radios off, but after a couple of minutes of silence, Lisa and I felt sorry for her and just called to see if she might need a ride in.  I tell you we have gotten soft since we have come down to Mexico and just can’t stand to hear of anyone having a tough time.

 

Turns out she was just trying to fill some idle time,  (we could be so lucky!) while her husband was helping another boater out.  And here we pile on to her sad state and poke fun.   She was even a bit pouty over the radio and said she would just have to go in alone. Not to leave her in a depressed state we let her know that with all the pale Canadian single men and vacationing North Dakota boys down here from the oil fields she would not be alone for long. Tanned, English speaking, lonely women just don’t stand a chance in Mexican tourist towns. By the time we broke radio contact I am pretty sure she felt better and no doubt was looking forward to being a single woman for an afternoon.

 

As far as we know all went well and we will leave it at that.   What goes on in Santiago stays in Santiago I think.

 

Oh, I almost forgot, M.W.W. wants time with A.S.S on beach…Married White Women wants time with Any Santiago Sailor.

Another Conspiracy.  26 Feb, 2013

Unlike the US Government who along with most of its citizens wants to kick every illegal alien out of the country; the Mexican Government and its citizens appear to want to keep every visitor no matter what their status is and for as long as possible in their country.

 

Pigs com

When I was young there was a joke about how you fit 6 pigs (actually elephants) into a Volkswagon…answer, two in the front, two in the back and two in the glovebox. Now we know that was a conspiracy as well. They all fit in the back of VW pointer.

Before I go on with this I would like to make it known that I really don’t care much about illegal workers as long as they are not working directly for me.   It would be nice if the US eased the worker requirement and allowed these folks a chance to pay into the tax, medical and even the social security system in hopes that they would someday complete the process of citizenship, but honestly I don’t know what the US would do if one day somebody from the Starship Enterprise suddenly beamed them all up and placed them back into their respective countries.  Who would fill all the work needs?   I have interviewed and passed up so many folks with their 12 years or less of American public education who thought that sweeping a warehouse was an $80,000 a year job that would let them drive a Lexus to work each day and drink Martini’s each night at the Four Seasons.   Ultimately we need a lesser class and currently it is being filled by those who just moved into the country.

 

Mexico on the other hand appears to want anyone who is in the country to stay for as long as is possible and by almost any means.   It may be more of State government and citizen conspiracy but I am almost certain it is happening.   Today Lisa posted on her Facebook that we were making plans to leave the State of Guerrero.  Not 10 minutes later I was going to shore with Sparky to pick up our dive tanks that just yesterday we were told were ready to go.  What do you know, the tanks are not ready and the owner of the dive shop said it would quite possibly be Monday (6 days away) before they were ready.  Imagine, another 6 good days to spend money in Zihuatanejo.  I’ll bet the State of Colima had no idea!

 

Of course this is not the first time this has happened.   When we moved back on to the boat last February we were ready to launch the boat within just a couple of days.   We spoke to the yard the day before we wanted to launch and what do you know, the State of Sonora moved all the high tides away for almost 20 days, so there we stayed, on board the boat dilly dallying about and waiting for the 20th day to pass.   Of course those 20 days were wasted as we had another 20 to wait when the oil pan leaked on us.   Finally, I guess Sonora got tired of us so we moved to the State of Baja Sur were we had another month of waiting for Baja Customs and DHL to deliver our washers.   Later in the year we were ready to leave La Paz when suddenly The State helped us develop a broken propane line, a disintegrated engine impeller, a leaking radiator cap and a broken, marine grade raw water line elbow all on the same morning.

 

Yes the conspiracy is alive and well.  While we were in the State of Baja Norte we didn’t develop any issues as we really had no plans to leave for months but as soon as we hit the Mexican State of Jalisco boy did we bring it on ourselves with the Chart-plotter trouble.   To this day I believe that all 32 Mexican states are aware that any time we would like to leave they can pull out the Garmin trump card and get another couple of weeks from us.

 

So as I said, Lisa posted that we would leave tomorrow and head north.  Our goal was the State of Sinaloa but apparently Guerrero got a hold of this information from Facebook and delayed our dive tanks by another week.   We like Guerrero and Zihuatanejo so I guess we are not bitching this time, but we really would like to make it back to the Sea of Cortez sometime before the beginning of summer. Hmmm  shall we  surf???

 

Surfin’ Safari..part 2, 21 Feb, 2013

Editorial note: If you are having trouble understanding some of the words in this read, please reference Riptionary.com

“No, we are going to have lots of fun.  You don’t need to think, just relax and you will do fine”.   That was the theme for the day as Beto loaded up 7 surf boards ranging from well used to almost requiring repair.  surf school com  We weren’t paying for frills, just a good time and some fun on the ocean and that is exactly what we got.   Mexcalli Surf Skuela is the real deal, surf lessons, taught by a guy that surfs almost daily for the fun of it.    From the looks of it Beto was going to have his work cut out for him.   Lisa and I are not in prime condition and even though the Benny’s looked fit they both we closing in on their mid 60’s.  His attitude said no trouble so we all loaded into the van driven by Leonel and headed out to a surf spot another 10 miles away, Salidita.

 

Our prelim to surfing was to each get on to a land based board and demonstrate that we might be capable of lifting our lard asses off the board at the appropriate time to launch down the wave.   I was confident until Beto made me do it a second time.   I was sure I toasted the first demo, but when he gave a couple of pointers to be the second time I stepped back into the lineup with a little less smugness and a lot more respect for what our Guru was trying to do.

 

saldita waves comLooking out at the waves just before entering the water we noticed just how nice the surf looked.   I took lessons in Santa Cruz, California several years ago and the surf looked cold and aggressive.  Here the water was a nice hue of blue, the waves actually looked soft and the break looked gentle.   Lisa had no hesitation to hit the water and prove that she was not only born and raised in California, but also had the makings of a surf chick; OK a slighted aged, bit more soft at the curves surf chick but surf chick nonetheless.

 

We all paddled out to the surf line with ease.  After all we each were well rested, had just spent 30 minutes in an air conditioned van, yes real air conditioning, although on the way home we used the Mexican air conditioning (rolling down the windows and driving fast) because it worked slightly better and it was good to enjoy the fresh breeze coming off the ocean as well.

 

Lisa was first to go.   Beto is a great guy and certainly a gentleman, “ladies first”.   Her take-off looked awfully good to me, actually too good as the pressure was on me now.  Unfortunately she fell just as she was about to launch into her Spiderman stance.   My first take-off did not go as well.  Truth be told the next 4 take-offs did not go well for me.  Each time my turn in the line up came, the Zen Master would give me another piece of advice.  Perhaps the most inspiring was when Beto said, “don’t think about anything, just relax and stand up”.  By this time Lisa had dropped into a number of waves and rode them into the beach.   The cheering section (Benny wives) all stood for Lisa’s rides as each of us three guys failed again and again.   To keep things in perspective though, there was improvement at each of our turns.  The trouble was all of us had started from a deeper hole of coordination than Lisa had.

 

Next up was Tom.  The ride was a little rough, but he was picking up fast.  I finally got the hang of it around my 5th turn and from there I never looked back, but I should have.   Some time during our second hour I had ridden a wave out to the beach and was paddling back.   My arms were really starting to hurt from all the quick turns we were making.   I was about half way back when Lisa stood up and started shredding her way down a fair sized wave.  Of course I was right in her way.  I felt like a rabbit in the middle of a crowded freeway as I tried to paddle out of the way but my rubber arms just couldn’t get me to the side fast enough.   I would paddle five feet thinking that would give Lisa room, and then she would be five feet closer and still on a crash path with me.   I paddled some more, and she would still be on a vector for my head.  Eventually she yelled those words that I dreaded to hear, “Cowabunga” and then added a giggle just axed the tail of my board and biffed it.   It was lucky she was wearing a one piece suit or I am sure she would have butt breached the pearl she did from the board.

 

Ian picked up last but made a good effort on his last wave and rode it home.   I have to hand it to our teacher.  Beto has patience galore and the resolve of a saint.   He was not going to let us go home until everyone surfed at least a single wave, even if he had to swim to shore to pull us out.

 

Eventually Lisa had to quit as she got cactus juiced hammack in Tronconeson her second to last run and bent a finger or chipped a nail and had to go in.   I am thinking she was worried as I catching as many waves as she was by now, and if she stopped the throw down via a technical injury she was pretty much assured the adulations of the Benny’s wives, and so she did and so they did.  They all called her a flare, and even though I was frothin’ the waves at the end no one paid me any attention until the bar bill came afterwards.

 

We rode back with Beto in the surf van.   He was nice enough to drop us off near the boat and wished us good luck.   The last thing he told us was that when we returned, he would still be here, surfing Troncones or Salidita.   From what we gather he is in his paradise. Wiamia Bay, Trestles, the Kaiser Bowl or Narrabean don’t hold up to the surf in Western Mexico.

 

Have a nice commute.

 

 

Surfin’ Safari…part 1.  Feb 21, 2013

Editorial note: If you are having trouble understanding some of the words in this read, please reference Riptionary.com

 

Surf comYou may find humor in this story if I can relate it well enough today.  Two Barneys and a couple of Benny’s meet up one morning in southern Mexico.  It was not a typical shore side resort that you might expect new surfers to appear at but rather the backside of the mountain barrio in central Zihautanejo.   Having only met their Zen master surf Guru 24 hours prior it was kind of a leap of faith that they would even walk into this type of neighborhood in a town that just a couple of years ago had a reputation for lopping heads and putting them in duffle bags on the porch of the local Policia Municipal.  But such is the life of wandering sailors and there we stood, two Barneys or for those that don’t surf, two beginners meeting up with their would be teacher.   The Benny’s, those are Canadians, another surf term for folks that take off during the cold winter for the “benefits” of the warmer weather in Mexico, were soon to be met.

 

Lisa and I had 24 hours previously visited the small town of Troncones via motor scooter.   It wasn’t really on our plan to go find one of the coolest little towns in Mexico but we kind of stumbled on it when we decided we needed to get off the boat and do a bit of exploring.   If you follow us you will know that we prefer to get off the beaten path and when you rent a scooter you are pretty much going to go the way less traveled if not because the thing can’t keep up with traffic, then because it is damn scary to do 50 MPH on a bike that seems better designed for one than two.

 

After breakfast at La Tertulia ($8 US with free coffee refills) we went to the scooter shop.   After a 5 minute lecture fromBill and lisa with scooter com the proprietor of the shop cautioning us that the scooter was really made to just do trips around the plaza and perhaps the central city but certainly not up country 20 miles, we smiled, put on our helmets and wobbled away on another classic yellow scooter (see the San Carlos blog in the archives).

 

To get accustomed to the bike we decided to head directly into the hills of Southern Zihautanejo and see the bay from the vantage point of several hundred feet.   This tested the bike a good bit and the brakes even better.   Although I didn’t tell Lisa at the time, I don’t think I could have locked up the tires in an emergency, but fair brakes are better than none, so we continued.

 

During the entire ride we only had about 6 miles of “freeway” that we had to travel.  The first 2 miles came just after leaving Z-town.   We have been traveling in the boat now for almost a year and with the wind in our hair, 25 Mph seemed just a bit quick for us, so when we boosted the bike to just over 60 Kilometers per hour or say 35 Mph, Lisa held on to me like she was about to be ripped from her seat.  El buzo 1At one time she hit me and I figured it was because she wanted to slow down, but on the down hill side of the freeway the previously mentioned “fair” brakes were not going to be much help.   When we stopped coasting I asked her what she poked me for and surprisingly she thought I was watching the speedo and not the road; She just wanted me to pay attention.  Actually I was holding my head down and watched the road while trying to keep the wind from pulling my helmet back.  The helmets we were given were little more than workman hard hats, but that’s Mexico.

 

 

After the big freeway blast we rolled through Ixtapa and then on to San Jose de Ixtapa.  Never heard of it? Neither had we.   SJ de Ixtapa is just off the beach and another town that seems to have been left in time.   We were parched from our 6 mile ride so stopped El buzo bathroom comin for a cold one at El Buzo.  The name just caught our eye (wink, wink) and the place was welcoming, clean and inexpensive to boot.

 

Our waiter, Arturo was very nice and explained the entire menu (in Spanish), in Spanish.   We were pleased that he spoke slowly and made our choice of Sea food stuffed fish rellenos.  If you don’t like seafood you probably don’t belong here, but Lisa was in heaven when the food arrived, Octopus, shrimp and vegetables all wrapped in a fish fillet.   It was bit much for me, but Lisa put this dish at the top of here “Best Meals in Mexico” list.   Total price for the meal with 2 beers, about $9 US.   We were livin’ high today.

 

We picked up some directions from the waiter to Troncones and sped off down the dusty, pot-holed road filled with donkey traffic, chickens and of course dogs of every shape and size until we reached the old highway and turned north.

 

The next 10 miles were just a nice country drive through palm and mango farms and scattered with cattle ranches here and there.   Our next mile stone would be Burro Boracho road, or Drunk Donkey road.   We only got slightly lost but found the correct turn-off about 30 minutes up the road.   It was plain that the road was not well traveled so we immediately started smiling about what we had discovered.   As we drove into the town of Troncones we noticed they had everything a person would need for survival plus a nice beach to boot. troncones palms com If you have to ask, a hardware store, grocery store and all the beach Ramada’s one could ever want.   The town proper stretches perhaps ¼ mile in each direction on two roads, but the beachfront homes cover about another 2 miles along the coast.   All are nicely done with plenty of room between to the homes to keep a private, uncrowded appearance.

 

After a quick run of the town we found ourselves in front of Mexcalli, Surf Skuela.   We didn’t go in at first as Lisa had ideas of her own to purchase some clothing at one of the local shops.   As she was trying on her new cloths I noticed a guy working on some surf boards.   What really caught my eye was that he was using a pair of scissors to tighten a screw on one of the skegs attached to the board.  I love quality and so I also knew the surf skuela was our place to learn how to surf.

 

With quick introductions Lisa and I both told Herberto, or Beto that we would like to join him tomorrow for lessons if he could get us from Z-What to Troncones.  When life in Mexico is on your side there is really nothing that can stand in the way of progress and so it happened that Beto lives in Zihuatanejo and meeting in the morning would certainly be possible if we could just take the taxi to his home.

 

So Wednesday morning we were up with first light.  Lucky for us first light comes around at about 7:15 AM.   Sparky made his beach visit while Lisa prepped for the day and then we were off for anther $8 breakfast and a meeting with the taxi driver.

 

At 8:15 the taxi drove by and we flagged him down New York style.   I hopped into the front seat and Lisa took the back.  We handed the driver the address that Beto had given us the day before and the driver looked shocked!   He questioned me about the address and asked twice if I really wanted to go there.   Of course we wanted to go but in the back of my mind all I could think of were heads in a bag or that the guy figured we were doing some type of drug deal.   As it turned out we didn’t have to knock on any bolted doors or wind our way through yards filled with fighting dogs and crying children, no, Beto and his son Leonel were waiting outside chatting with neighbors when we drove up, the day was looking bright.

 

lola comAs it turned out Leonel was going to drive us to Troncones and Beto, along with his truck, Lola, were going to pick up some others along the way.   According to Leonel, Lola was “historico” or legendary.   You really need to study the picture to understand but it does look like a story or two has been made in the presents of that truck.   I believe both headlights still worked but all the others were missing.  For that matter most of the metal was missing around the roof, the tires were bald, the bed rusted out, cracked windshield but most of it was clear of dirt, and a 20 year old paint job that looked like it was done in Sears Weather Beater paint (I guess the warranty would just be running out now).   All of this made for a very cool ride.

 

Along the way we listened to Bob Marley just to make sure we were getting stoked for the day to come and soon we drove into Troncones for the second time in 24 hours.  Arriving for the second time we still loved the laid back feel of the town and meeting up at the surf shop got us in the mood even more as several surf dudes were hanging around, along with a couple of surf chicks and of course the Benny’s from Canada who would become our friends and surf mates later in the day.

The beer is still cold, but how about some sympathy: 31 January, 2013

A little editorial note.  This is pretty trade related and may not be a fun read for everyone.   Please hang in there with me on this one.  It is not typical of my page.

fishhead comAh the wait; 30 days and counting as I wait for Garmin and UPS to get it together and send our card for the chart-plotter.   In defense of Garmin I will say they have tried to send a card to me three times, that’s not bad, but boy trying to get them to communicate with me can be a struggle.

 

Chad/Garmin is our main contact.   During the first part of our conversations he was very helpful but once the product was sent the conversations became less and less frequently.   I believe he is actually part of the Garmin product technical helpdesk, so even here I will say he has done a fairly nice job but once the hand-off to the Garmin Shipping teams happened he and I appear to be out of the loop of communication.   For a week now he has said he will message me with any information his shipping team comes up with.   Those messages have equaled one mail.   I have been faithful and sent a mail each day and tried to follow-up with telephone calls whenever we could get a good signal.

 

Today UPS informed me that Garmin had asked for the product back and although the second shipment was near Guadalajara it would soon be back in the states per Garmin’s request.    I called Garmin immediately and nobody at the 1-800 number can supply me with the name of who asked for the return, but since it was headed back to the states they would send a third card to us.   We are waiting on confirmation of the movement now.  Although we are in Paradise, and frequently attend the Paradise bar just to remind us where we are, it doesn’t feel like Paradise to us, purgatory, punishment for the evil summer we spent in the sea, a test of our patience all come to mind, Paradise, no.

 

We have posted many pictures of Las Has-Been already so you know the area looks nice and the anchorage is small.  Today I count 16 boats at anchor here.  Much more than comfort will allow so I am on the boat while Lisa is ashore shopping and eating tacos.  If we are ever released from our “cruisers hell” we will move immediately 4 miles from this spot and then flip the coin to the other side and viola, Paradise again.   A funny world we live in.

 

UPS being the second party in this little fiasco has been a real burden.   As a professional logistics operations person I can tell you that UPS runs a very good business in the USA.   Usually when dealing with the local people things go smoothly and if they don’t somebody on the other end of the phone line will make a couple of calls and resolve the issue quickly.   As an international business in Mexico, I have my concerns that they just don’t get it.   Their systems don’t appear to talk to each other so if you send a package from the US to Mexico, the first part of the trip you speak with the US customer service representatives.   When the package reaches Mexico you have to speak with the Mexican service representatives, all very well I expect but the US customer service people don’t tell you that the information they are giving you may not be correct, only to keep monitoring the shipment (like I am the one doing the transportation) and wait for the system updates.  Of course the updates in the system are usually wrong and you end up calling Mexico for a confirmation.

 

Last week I confirmed that our package was routed correctly to the hotel we are using as a base address.  Both the Mexican and the US (1 day later) confirmed all was well.   After “monitoring the shipment” everyday this week, we see the system was updated to show our package had been returned to the states (second time).   Making a call to US UPS, they confirmed the shipper had recalled the shipment.  Calling Mexican UPS I found they had banking hours and would not be in till 8 AM, which turned into 8:30 before I could reach anyone.   I called Garmin in the meantime and they pulled their information from US UPS and of course confirmed we would be waiting for yet another package.

 

Around 8:30 Mexican UPS woke up and a nice gentleman advised me that the shipment was indeed back in Guadalajara but would soon be moving to Manzanillo for delivery to us at our current address, huh.   What are we to think, is there an eminent delivery in our future?  My heart says yes, but it really gets me that the number one rule of logistics is being broken by the largest logistics company in the world, that being “safeguarding the integrity of the information on the system”.   If this shipment returns to the US then Mexico UPS is at fault (they are passing information that is not correct for the shipment), if the shipment delivers to me then US UPS is at fault as their system updates which are read by anyone that inputs our tracking number into the system are incorrect.  All this amounts to customer frustration, added expense for the shipper who is trying to do the right thing and a tidy profit for UPS with multiple moves, returns and reshipments occurring because of failed communication between their respective international companies.

 

Unfortunately for us we are at the mercy of Garmin who chooses the international carrier.   I am not saying this could not happen with Fed Ex, DHL or even Expeditors but to offer the limited help, i.e. (Thank you for your patience Bill, but you will either have to contact Mexico or continue monitoring the shipment) they have in getting our shipment delivered is just not what you would expect from a company like UPS.

 

That’s my rant.   Tomorrow is another day, UPS Mexico has not changed their story in nearly 4 days so we are hoping for a phone call or email message telling us to come pick up our shipment.   I did fail to say that because of all the trouble we purchased a disposable phone just for the purpose of “monitoring” this shipment, and in case UPS wanted to contact us for further information.

 

I haven’t worked so hard in weeks, if it wasn’t for the gorgeous weather I would feel like I was back home working on Christmas morning for one of my favorite Logistics companies.

 

A little sympathy, probably not, but that is OK.  In a day, a week or a month we will have everything corrected and back to the land of soft sand, clear water, endless snorkeling, beautiful sunsets and a chilled drink.  Come to think of it we might have said that 30 days ago.

Enjoy your commute.

 

Ranking the days:  24 January, 2013

Nice Manzanillo hotel comThe sun has gone down and the moon has not risen, for that matter I am not completely sure the moon will even rise tonight.   Dinner was great again and one of the best parts of the day ended a couple of hours ago when Lisa and I discussed the day over a rum and coke on the front of the boat as the sun receded under the sea to the west of us.   Life is good.

 

I wandered up on deck just a couple of minutes ago.  I had not particular purpose in mind but the air is warm and the seas are fairly calm.   We do have a slight rock to the boat, but when I look out over the fleet that has joined us in Las Hadas tonight I am encouraged when I see a 60 foot power boat rocking violently while our 43 foot sailboat which can not be consider large by any means gently acknowledges the waves and rocks my wife to sleep.   Life is good here.

 

There is no doubt that we have our own trials to deal with, but in the grand since Lisa and I have taken in our laundry and decided that the cloth that has been cut for us is just fine.   We took a ride in the dinghy today and decided that in the morning we will dive below several of the zillion dollar homes that are built along the coast here.   Not sure what we will find but really it doesn’t matter that much, we are free to enjoy whatever is presented to us and when we have completed that we will deal with the small issues of the day.

 

On the menu is of course the Garmin/UPS issue.   With any luck something positive will happen and I will be on my way to Barra de Navidad and Lisa will be on her way to the Centro Mercado and more Rib Eye Steak at $10 US per kilo or $5 per pound.   Bacon/Tocino will also be on the shopping list, you just can’t pass up bacon sliced to order for less than $4 US per pound; as I said, life is not bad here in Las Hadas/Mexico/South of the US border.

 

We are still discussing our plans for the next couple of months and will advise those when we finally reach Ixtapa or Acapulco.   The Sea of Cortez still beckons us to come back.   It’s a been there done that feeling, but holy smokes, it is hard to beat the intense feeling of solitude and wildness that abounds there.  In the words of my hero Winnie the Pooh, “Think” ‘Think”.

Dinghy Raft ups:  Dec 28, 2012

“We’ll all pass the hors d’oeuvres clockwise”, “that’s this way (with hand signals)”.   We hadn’t attended anyraft ups com dinghy raft ups in a while and this was the infamous Mayors Raft up in Tenacatita, Mexico.   To our surprise it was partially scripted and nearly a church meeting or as we tried to play it to our liking an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.   Of course when we were asked to repeat which way the orduvous were to be passed we said, “This way” without hand signals.

 

There are just some people that get carried away with their own pompous titles.  Being the mayor of Tenecatita, and elected by who knows what surely brought on a bit of pomp to this raft up, but being the mild manner person that I am, it was his raft up and I guess if I created a raft up of my own I am entitled to run the raft up as I please.   For those that don’t understand the lingo of “raft-up” this is when boaters gather around sun down for a little chit-chat while floating in their dinghies.   Most start with a quick introduction and perhaps a small toast to a recent passage that was made.   This one started with a bit of a sermon which touted the closeness of the cruising community and ended with everyone being asked to contribute there story of how someone had helped them in the cruising world.   Because I am writing this you know I was not really a fan, but in all fairness I would say that we had fun and it didn’t cost us money so what the heck.

 

Several of the standout stories had to be the ones regarding, having too much money and then being “helped” by other cruisers to join in the chaos that is the cruising communities by buying a boat, quitting jobs and taking off for distant shores (nice help and a great way to lose all your wealth at an alarming rate), being destitute for rum and coke and having others willing to trade Coca-Cola for Rum (really), and of course the story about the lady who blew her first conch (shell) and also ate the pizel of a fresh caught conch. blewing conch com Well that last one may not have been the “help” laden story we had expected but it sure added to the entertainment for the night.  Not sure how you could pass up all the innuendo’s in her story, so we didn’t.

 

Well eventually we all ran out of stories and rum so we went home to yet another beautiful sunset in Mexico.   I guess we all have our station in life, I will keep mine as an observer of interesting people, and the mayor can his raft-ups as he see’s fit.  Please be sure to pass the hors d’oeuvres “This Way”.

The Cape of Currents: Dec 26 2012

“Is everything OK”?   Once again Lisa was woken out of her sleep as has happened so often on this trip when something has flown from a shelf and hit the floor hard.   This time was not so bad.  We had been underway for almost 6 hours (Lisa sleeping a good five and a half of those) and were just rounding Cabo Correntes (the Cape of Currents) which would be the furthest south this boat has ever been since it’s delivery to California back in 1979.   So far the trip was going well and we had only just lost the dog water and dog food to the cabin sole.   I had earlier caught our faux paux of leaving a bowl of fruit on the counter so there won’t be any stories about “Fruits gone wild” this time.

 

As usual I am ahead of myself.   I am writing this as we complete mile 50 of a 120 mile passage from Puerto Vallarta to Tenecatita on the mainland of Mexico.   We just completed 30 days worth of refitting and supplying the boat for what will all be new territory for us.

 

Pedro the rigger comPeter Vargas of Sea-Tec rigging completed the replacement of our standing rigging to include replacement of 4 major chainplates on time, on budget and at the agreed price so I have to give him big kudos for a job well done.   Surprisingly Peter had spotted the chain plates that he thought would be bad before we even pulled them.  In all we pulled 6 plates.  Two of the plates were fine, two had pretty good corrosion pitting and might have lasted a couple of years, one was very serious and we were actually able to break it in to two pieces broken chain plate comwith less than 15 ft pound of torque and the last one just had some questionable stainless filling that had us both scratching our head to either replace or not.  In the end we chose to replace that one as well so there would be no question about having the rig fall down in a storm.    The old chain plates varied in size by a millimeter or so, but the new ones are all 3/8” stainless with no variation in size.   I love the wood work on these Taiwan boats but the steel work throughout is questionable.  Luckily we have replaced a lot of the other obvious metal issues during previous dock work.

 

Just prior to Christmas Lisa and I attended “Movie Night” at the marina.   There was nothing particularly special about the movie “Wild Hogs” but it did get us giggling for while.  What was peculiar about this night was that we were rushed to make the movie and failed to treat our tank water the proper way.   On board we have two water tanks.   When we are anchoring and moving from quiet hide-a-way to quiet hide-a-way we generally drink, shower and use our reverse osmosis water that is made by de-salinizing ocean water on board.   The water is tasty, clean and much better in quality than the World Health Organizations standards  for drinking water.   When we move into a dock, things change.   Our second tank is used for dock water.   Because we question the quality and purity of this type of water we treat is for bacteria and other nasty’s with ¼ cup of bleach for the 70 gallons of water we have in the tank.   We have done this during the whole time of our cruising and for the most part I think we are still normal and basically healthy.   Not so much during the last week.

 

We ran out of water just about the time we were to pickup friends for the movie.   Knowing it would be late when we returned we thought we would just delay the movie enough to get about twenty gallons of water into the tank.   When we returned we could fill the remainder or just leave it till morning.   Lisa got a little heavy handed with the bleach and without a measuring cup may have dumped a full cup of bleach into the tank.   I was not aware of the over dose so when we felt we had twenty gallons in the tank we sealed it up and went to the movie.   After returning later in the evening we both felt good enough to complete the water job and because I though Lisa had only added a small amount of bleach, I added a full ¼ to ½ cup of bleach just to be sure no bugs were in the water.

 

The following day was pretty warm, and the refrigerator was set very low since we were on dock power (unlimited).    I must have drank nearly a gallon of our fresh “bleach” water that day.   Lisa refused since the odor was so strong but I just figured if was because we were so use to the good R/O water, so drink I did.   Sometime around 3 AM the next morning I woke up with awful feeling and needed to move fast to make it to the toilet.   The amount of vomit I had in me is still mystifying.   For the next 3 hours I made trips to the toilet at 30 minute intervals.   By 6 am I was either dry or done and the feelings subsided but I was so tired I slept for the next 24 hours with only an hour or two of wake time.   Everything is good now, but boy it was intense.

 

A neighbor came by the following morning.  They had coincidentally borrowed some bleach from Lisa the morning I was out, and came back to check on me.   When she did we told us that the bleach we were using was the new “Concentrado” bleach which after some research is actually 33% stronger.   I guess we should read labels a bit better.

 

As we pace down the Mexican Gold Coast we are stunned by the number of turtles we are seeing.   I won’t include any pictures unless one of the turtles does a back flip or something stunning next to the boat as they just don’t make good subjects when 2/3rds of their body is under water and usually they are 100 or more yards from the boat.   Since rounding the cap 20 miles ago I have counted at least 20 turtles.   If I only had a book on identification I would tell you which type.

 

Have a great commute.

Friggin’ Riggin’:  Dec 19, 2012

”…So Bill if the rigger says “Oh Shit” swaging comwhile he’s up the mast is that a bad thing”?  I was reading Lisa’s email in the local pub around 1pm while I was trying to get some work done on the internet that was just not possible with the incredibly slow connection we had on the boat.    It didn’t seem good to me, so I thought I had better pack up and head for the marina.

 

As I strolled down the Malicon (Mexican sidewalk in good repair), I heard banging coming from the direction of our boat, I quickened my step.   Pedro/Peter has been working on the rigging of Beyond Reason now for about week.   Four of those days the parts were in transit so really he was on day 3.    We had discussed during our initial contract that he would inspect a couple of chain plates before completing the replacement of the wires that hold up the mast.   The banging was coming from him trying to loosen up the chain plates enough to pull them through the deck.   They were being stubborn, and I was getting anxious.  As much as I tried to think that he had pulled hundreds of chain plates in the past I just had to offer some advice.

 

The Hans Christian Owners Association (HCOA) and I have had a good 10 year run.    Because most Hans Christians (the make of our boat) are semi-custom built there are no manuals for repair so the HCOA is where most people come to tell their maintenance woe’s and look for some type of advise or sympathy.    I had read over the years that the proper way to remove the chain plates from our boat was to pull them up through the deck after taking out the bolts.   Most people just leave the wires attached to the plates and tighten them till they pop out.    I relayed this to Pedro and he agreed that they were so tight a little leverage might just be in order to help the cause.    We cranked on the wire till we figured we had reached some sort of limit and then, nothing.   When were yanked on the wire to give it just little more pressure we finally heard a pop, and the plate moved about ¼” and from then on there was no more movement.   Somebody decided that if it can’t come out, it most go in, so the real pounding began in earnest and the chain plate was driven down into the locker.   With the help of a Dremel tool, a couple of layers of fiberglass were removed between the plate and the hull and the thing came out.

 

corroded chainplate com“Oh Señor” Pedro said, really he only speaks good Spanish but excellent English as he is American but built his rigging business here in La Cruz as a off-shoot of a larger company (Sea-tec) in Southern California, “Señor, this doesn’t look so good”.   “Oh Shit” I told Lisa, and that’s not a good thing.    Pedro showed me the rust and pitting that had developed on the chain plate.  Too my eye it was not bad but since it was on a corner I appreciated that the damage might be sever enough to give us trouble down the line.   Pedro offered that it might last either one or three years, or twenty, “Great”.

 

Lisa and I had purposely picked the corrooded chainplate 3 comfirst chain plate pulled and there was another in the bathroom that Lisa in particular had issues with.   We discussed replacement of the first plate and whether we should replace them in pairs or just one at a time.    Ultimately we decided we would pull the plates in pairs and make a decision after we cleaned them up.   It was time for Pedro to go home so Lisa and I sat on the lawn chair which had been placed on the dock, drank a mature beverage and looked at the boat thinking how nice she looked just sitting at the dock, with half her wires pulled off and the masts held up with clothes lines in place of the missing stainless steel wire with a working strength of nearly 15,000 lbs each.   The sun went down.

 

corroded chainplate 2 comNext morning Pedro was back up the mast to disconnect even more wire.    He had replaced some of the lower rigging but if the wind came up in the harbor I would start to become uncomfortable.    Little did I know how uncomfortable I would get till he took down the back stays.    The back stays hold the mast from falling forward as you crash into waves ahead of you or sail down wind.   If you read this blog you will know that 90% of our moving this boat either involves terrific down wind sails or smashing into waves since the wind is against us.   The back stray are “muy importante”.

 

“Hey Señor”, Pedro said, “This is not good”.   Cracked insulator com As we lowered the back stay, Pedro pointed out that one of the connectors (the wire insulator to be exact) had a full length crack down the side and the threads of the connector were actually starting to disintegrate!   “Excellent” I told Pedro, and I meant it.    We had questioned replacing the rig and now we had the proof that we did the right thing.   From the looks of it, one more wave or gust of  wind and the main mast might have come tumbling down.

 

The rest of the day went according to plan until we got to the chain plate again.   We pulled the port chain plate which was the twin of the one we pulled the day before and it looked good.   We moved on to the second plate that we had wanted to pull and Bingo, once a again we had a plate that was damaged but this time there was no question that it was a part that could have broken at any time.   Not only was it rusted but there appears to be a crack almost completely across the back of the plate.   I am sure if I put it in a vise I could break the 3/8” stainless plate into 2 pieces.

 

Being a little frustrated now since we were two bad plates for the three pulled, we made a decision to pull the remaining 3 small plates that remained.   On initial inspection they looked fine, were the two bad ones appeared bad to begin with.   Pedro game me the option to pull them myself to try to save money and so Lisa and I spent the next hour yanking two of the remaining plates out.   My inspection says they look pretty good, but we took them to the shop to have them cleaned up first.   We should see the results later today when he returns.    If the winds stay calm we should also get our forestay and our main uppers replaced and tightened as well.  The new chain plates will be behind us by a couple of days but are available (locally made) here in Mexico.   It’s only money.

Comfort of lapping waves: Nov 24, 2012

We have written on a lot of different subjects over the year while doing this blog, but something that I don’t think we have ever delved into very much is what it is really like to travel at sea while sitting atop the mercy of the waves. I am sure we have made reference to “Roller Coaster rides”, “Confused Seas”, “smooth as a millpond” and the like but really that does not explain what it is really like. Now I can’t say that our experience is the same, better or worse than other sailboats our size, but based on the literature that comes with our Hans Christian, she is a sea kindly and gentle boat in a seaway with an easy motion. OK, where did they do the trail sail at to write this stuff? What I really would compare our most recent 250 mile sail to is a slow motion movie of a car driving over a cliff with a 45 degree incline (or is it a decline since you would be going “down hill”).

If I can paint this picture correctly I will describe the first 48 hours of our most recent trip in terms of what was really going on (Not Italicized) and how I would compare it to your missing a turn and tumbling off a cliff (in Italics).

When you start a trip or passage you are generally coming out of the marina and the seas are calm and usually you have little or no wind. This is kind of like leaving your driveway for a Sunday road trip up into the mountains. You are excited about the trip and the final destination may or may not be your primary purpose for enjoyment, sometimes it is the travel to the destination that keeps you going.

As you start to make some seaway the boat begins to yaw a bit left and right, the motion is easy and steering between some of the bigger waves is fun (Most of us enjoy the start of the trip into the mountains with the road just beginning to head upward and the bends in the road becoming more and more “thoughtful” as the land to the right or left of you begins to drop away from the road). Sometime we get a bit of wind or even a lot of wind, but as the saying goes, “you can’t change the wind but you can trim the sails” and so we do. What you can’t really change if you are trying to get from point A to B is the sea state and angle of the waves (You can slow for turns or speed up but you have to stay on the road no matter if the turns are left or right). As often as not the waves are coming from the wrong direction. Sea kindly or not, waves from anywhere other than directly in front or in back of you makes the boat roll. If you have plenty of wind there is a chance the boat won’t roll as much, but certain passengers still feel the motion which depending on who it is might be a bad thing (even a Ferrari will roll a bit if the turns are too tight and you don’t really want that lovely blond in the passenger seat getting sick). If the waves are spaced nicely most trips are the same as going over hill and dale in the country. Kind of a slow undulation that your body absorbs and learns to lean into fairly quickly. If the waves are tightly spaced, and it really doesn’t make much difference if the waves are 4 feet or 40 feet, the ride takes on a much different aspect. Our general rule is if the waves are 6 feet high and coming faster than every 6 seconds the ride is going to be ugly.

So you are riding along in your Ferrari and you miss a turn, “Dang, the cute blond beside you says”, Your car begins to leave the roadway and head for the ravine below (The waves have increased and lucky for you they are from the aft of the boat, but perhaps 8 feet tall. The back end of the boat lifts and the boat begins to accelerate down the wave and into the trough). Your Ferrari begins to accelerate and because it is so aerodynamic the nose digs into the dirt a little and acts like it will slow the car, but really it presses you against your seatbelt with 1G of negative force but with little deceleration of your vehicle. As the boat travels into the trough, the bow digs into the water below and if you are sitting sideways (looking to either the port or starboard side of the boat while you do your business, you suddenly find you have to brace yourself on the thrown or find your fanny flat on the floor because the more bow that enters the water, the quicker the deceleration of the boat as it reaches the bottom of the wave. Your friend in the next seat has a look on their face that pleads to get off the ride, but as you reach over to hold them in their seat you bank off a small rock that was inconveniently in your way and the Racaro seats with the leather upholstery fail to hold you as the Ferrari careens to the right just a bit and you find yourself pressed tightly against the door handle and glass of the drivers side door. The boat has reach the smaller wind waves that are running counter to the natural sea state, with the deceleration from the digging bow just becoming familiar, you are now lifted upward and slightly rolled to starboard which sends your drawerless fanny into the starboard door (if you have doors) of the head (bathroom) or if you failed to install doors you find yourself in the middle of the cabin sole wondering why nature called at this particular moment (I hope you don’t have company).

Your Ferrari with all it stabilizing features is no match for the hard edge of the pinnacle that appears now to the right of the car and as you glance off of it your blond companions door receives a scratch that is sure to cost your insurance company $10,000, not to mention the fact that your friend will be less obliged to go for that country ride the next time you ask. Your boat has now finished its roll to starboard just in time to meet the next wind wave as you begin your travel up the backside of the next wave. This one not only slides your fanny back to port, but with the uphill accent you find yourself sliding back to the galley, “Hello honey, what’s for breakfast” you say as you reach for your trousers. There is a moment when you are sure you have saved the Ferrari and are wondering if AAA will cover the cost of a Sky Crane to lift the car out of the gully as you car scrapes and bounces across a small landing about halfway down the cliff. As the boat begins to ride up the wave your movement slows and you begin to buckle up your pants feeling confident that your wide stance, port and starboard will support you from further visits with the side of the boat. The boat still rolls a bit but everything is feeling normal again.

Unfortunately those 18” low profile Pirelli tires don’t quite have grip to stop you on the shale footing you find on the landing so you continue to skid over the next section of the cliff in a semi controlled fashion until a small birm of gravel sends the front of your stallion skyward. The blond is simply elated at this time and screams out in Arabic (I don’t know perhaps some other language but you can’t understand them just the same) something incomprehensible but you are sure they are saying “enjoying the ride”. Wind waves can be found any where on the bigger waves. The big waves are usually generated hundreds of miles from your location, wind waves are local and can double the size of primary swell if given enough wind and time. You are lucky that the additional height of the wind waves are only a couple of feet. As you crest the top of the wave, content with your stance and your gig line, the boat heaves upwards and tumbles your backside into the companionway ladder, it smarts, but you are happy to have been thrown somewhere that you have three point bracing, The blond on the other hand now has a permanent crease in their lap courtesy of Sergio Pininfarina’s lap restraint system. As you come over the top of wave and begin to angle down again, you wish you had been dropped into a box since the only angle you can’t brace for is the bow and by golly your boat bucks it’s stern over that last wave and send you back to the front of the boat as the ride continues. Your Ferrari has reached the apex of its skyward journey and has begun its decent back to earth. Lucky for you and the blond the bottom of the gully is near and your trip (at least your mountain trip) has ended, the blond is fine, but you have scratched your Maui Jim sunglasses, you failed to buy insurance for them so the $400 to replace them has a ruining effect on your Sunday. You are only into your first hour of the trip, these waves will keep up for at least the first 2/3’s of the trip, the finger nail scratches that you left in the cabin sole will need to be repaired at $80 and hour by some boatyard expert and you think to yourself, “its good to be on the water”. Enjoy your commute.

500 Miles to ride: Nov 1, 2012

We are probably in Puerto Escondido now. The port is near the beautiful town of Loretto, Baja Sur, but the closest place we can get to and find a safe harbor for doing a bit of delayed boat work. It seems it has been months since we have had any major breakages, but we do still have a single diesel leak on one of our injectors. I promised Lisa that I would fix this one in Escondido, so hear we are.

The current list of fixes will also include 3 fuel filter changes on the main diesel and the installation of the new fuel pump that we bought 6 months ago for the diesel heater. Yes it is getting cold at night. Last night it dropped below 78 degrees and although we have comforters for the bed, getting up to brew coffee is a bit disagreeable for the inhabitants of this boat. We also have a delivery of new L.E.D lights which should not take long to install but will certainly bring a nice warm glow to the cabin when the sun drops below the horizon at 5:30 pm (yes, daylight savings time is alive and well in Baja). Aside from that we will take on another 50 gallons of fuel and a little water then blast off for La Paz and Los Muertos which is a small cove about 30 miles south of La Paz and a stepping station for jumping to the Mexican mainland. We figure we have about 30 days left on this side of the world (Baja) before we descend to Puerto Vallarta and the real “Gold Coast” of Mexico.

The trip to Puerto Vallarta is approximately 500 miles from here, but when we jump we should be within 350 miles or 3 days if we decide to do it in one bite. We have visited most of the anchorages along the coast from Mazatlan to Puerto Vallarta and really want to get to some new areas to explore, thus the potential 3 days at sea, time will tell.

So that is the plan for the next couple of weeks. We have been eating up the life out here over the last month or so. Hurricane Paul came very close to us with the eye passing just 60 or so miles to the west. Lucky for us Paul never moved passed the Gigante Mountain range so winds never reached hurricane force, but 50 knots can still cause havoc, and it did with our dinghy. As the hurricane started to reach us we had a big wind shift and without notice the winds went from 10 knots to 50 knots. Our dinghy being tied behind the boat got caught in the shift and suddenly flipped over, engine, dinghy wheels and all. At the same time the tide shifted and brought tons of flotsam, trees and broken cactus into the anchorage and around the boat. Lisa and I spent about 30 minutes trying to rig a sling to right the 350 lbs of boat and motor and ultimately succeeded. The next morning we sat about flushing the inside and outside of the motor and doing successive oil changes to try to save it. Now 3 weeks past it looks like we might have been successful and it is a good thing since we were having trouble even posting a potential claim with Blue Water Insurance Company.

Ultimately Blue Water Insurance responded to one of our emails regarding a potential claim on the engine. Turns out the local agent had some troubles at home so I will give them the the benefit of the doubt.  At any rate I don’t think the claim will be required but it is a fore warning if a claim is ever required.

So with the exception of Paul, our day and night social agendas have been full. We seem to move through the days, diving, playing games on the beach, attending bon fires, clam bakes and sundowner parties and even had a date night aboard Nirvana complete with Sushi, fresh pasta, fresh clam Risotto and baked chicken, all very well done and enjoyed by four of us couples dressed in the best clothes we could find that were not in the hamper.

Life could get better, but bacon is hard to find in the Baja.

Beer run:  October 15, 2012

We have made some legendary beer runs over the years. It usually starts as a whim for me to go on a long dinghy ride, but no beer run is complete without a friend to come along to help you through the tedium of driving endless miles on an open sea while the engine drones on for what could be hours. To qualify as a beer run on board Beyond Reason the distance between the anchored boat and the cerviceria (beer store) needs to be at least 10 miles away. If there is an element of danger (bad weather, mud flats, and pirates) that just makes the run that much more inviting.

I believe the typical definition of a beer run starts with running out of beer sometime during a party, bender, or ballgame, but since I was a cub scout long ago I live under the ethos of “be prepared” so having to leave the party, drive exceptionally drunk or missing a play rarely happens. What typically occurs is that somebody in the anchorage will make mention that they are low on beer. In the absence of telling the truth they will sometimes appear at the side of our boat at odd hours of the day expectantly waiting for us to offer a beer (common courtesy among boaters). Upon being offered the beer they immediately except the first offer (rude behavior from a boater). I believe that Miss Manners would suggest you receive two offers before accepting, or at least that is what we try to do. It is at this point that I like to suggest far fetched beer run solutions. Most of the solutions are designed around a dinghy run during the morning hours to a town or village on some far shore that most people would consider much to far away for a dinghy ride. The cub scout that I am, I am rarely at the disadvantage of somebody shrugging off the suggestion since we typically store 3 cases of beer in the refrigerator and several others in the aft bunk that my daughter use to use but who has thoughtfully left that bunk empty so she can live with her husband.

Several weeks ago a friend dropped by expecting the usual courtesy of a beer and I suggested a run into town the next day (12 miles). He sat in his dinghy drinking my once offered beer quickly, and began asking questions as he handed me his empty can. This of course prompted me to politely, although reluctantly offer a second beer which he greedily accepted as well. When the second beer was consumed and a third offer failed to leave my lips, my buddy accepted the challenge and we made plans (over a third beer) to leave after breakfast the next morning. Sometime during the night we offered to others in the anchorage to bring back needed supplies and before we finished the rounds we had taken on another passenger and a list of groceries that would enable everyone to stick around for another couple of days. The morning broke with a slight chop on the sea and I was fairly sure the trip would be wet, rough and probably slow but that did not detour anyone. Unfortunately within the first mile of the trip the “rough” got a bit rougher than we thought and because of an unexpectedly large wave we came down hard and our passenger lost her breath and was unable to breath well for several minutes. We returned home to get her the care she needed then proceeded to finish what we started out to do. 3 hours later we return triumphantly from Santa Rosalia with beer and groceries in hand.

We had an occasion to make another beer run the other day from Sweet pea Cove to a small village across the bay named San Bruno. San Bruno lies about 10 miles south of Santa Rosalia on highway 1. For the most part it is ignored by boaters except for the ambiance that is brings to Sweet pea cove in the evening as you gaze across the bay to the shimmering lights of the city. The town shows up on maps but we have yet to find a guide that discusses any anchoring possibilities, services or any historical or geographic reasons to visit the town. To me this made for a perfect place to explore and when another friend of mine told me the woes of his beer locker, I immediately explained that if somebody suggested we go to San Bruno to look for beer I was in. The trip was planned for the next morning.

I know this is a fairly long update, and if you have stuck with me this long I will tell you that the trip to San Bruno was without incident but not with out high points. After a 45 minute ride across the sea to the town shores we discovered a delightful little town that at first appeared to be just a bedroom community without any stores or services. My buddy Bob and I made a quick tour of the town by water at first then turned into the little darsena (breakwater) that had been built for panga’s (Mexican fishing boats) and found  a small pier to tie up to at the back of the breakwater. Conveniently there was a small palapa built next to the pier and a couple of locals where hanging around waiting to give us directions to the cerviceria and tienda (grocery store). In fluent Spanglish we asked about the grocery store of which they said it would be too far to walk, but offered no alternative, and the beer store which they enthusiastically answered, “Si, la casa azul” and pointed to a blue house not 30 steps from the pier. As our late president George Bush would say “Mission accomplished”…sort of.

We still had eggs, beans, insect repellent and bacon to buy so we strolled around town looking for the grocery store. What we found was a very clean, very organized town with plenty of small shops to keep one occupied for hours. To add to the discovery we noted that the town would have a small fiesta that night which fit perfectly  with what would soon be a trip in the big boats to anchor off the town that night.

Our return trip and then successive return trip in the big boats went without incident and later that night we had one of the best clam dinners ever at a small beach side restaurant known only as “The Palapa by the Grande Casa” from the local people. Bob and Sherri, Lisa and I all went home satisfied after several hours of laughs and watching the moon rise. We capped the evening by attending the fiesta and watching the local talent show which included dancers, singers and bands from the local area and then wandering through the carnival that had set up near the city center.

NASCAR, Sept 8, 2012

“And the winner of the 2012, Sunrisa Ham Net award for special programming is….Bill Novak”. You read that right, heck I am barely able to consider myself a Ham radio operator, and if you ever check out the website QRZ and read some of the postings from or about KI6CJQ you will find that at least half of all Ham radio operators actually despise or disapprove of my ham radio intentions, but whatever, I will take an award whenever I can. The special award was given for my coverage of NASCAR Sprint Cup races on the Sunday Morning net that I run on 3.968 Mhz, at 1330 zulu time.

It all started as a joke several years ago, monitoring NASCAR that is not Ham Radio. Our friend Jim was doing something on the internet and when his soon to be wife Susan checked in on him he quickly turned to a NASCAR update, or at least that is the story I am telling. Anyway, Susan mentioned it and for almost a year we queried Jim about NASCAR. When we returned to the states I was intrigued and started watching it on TV on Sunday afternoons. I really didn’t follow the events but Lisa allowed me some down time on Sundays and I thought it was a great way to take a 3 hour nap while appearing to be interested in something other than beer and sex.

When we came down to Mexico in February we started to lurk on the cruiser radio nets to find out who was in which anchorage and periodically to check on the weather. Once our name started coming up it was not long before I was asked to fill in, then to take over the Sunday portion of the Sunrisa net. You can look up the Sunrisa net on the internet and see that this is a mostly professional site. It’s primary purpose is Safety and Weather information, with a secondary purpose of allowing cruisers to meet up with each other on a daily basis to pass on important and not so important information. There is a net controller for each day and their job is to direct radio traffic so the whole thing does not become a big cluster.

 

As the net controller position is voluntary you get all types of personalities. Honestly the net controller can either make the net fun or just a role call of people in the sea. Wanting to make a fun impact Lisa and I tried to come up with our own little schtick. Perhaps it is too much TV or something but I wanted people to want to listen to my 15 minutes of fluff before the weather guy comes on at 1345 zulu, so we came up with something that would be off-beat and fun, NASCAR…NASCAR in America is a love or hate sport it seems. People either make fun of those that follow it or they watch it. Some who watch it actually love it, we are in the middle.

In Ham Radio there is an acronym that is QST, essentially it is a call for any information that could effect a lot of people. Most times on the Sunrisa net it is about a party, request for new net controllers or call out for donations, on my net it is an update on the next NASCAR race and sometimes a little dialog about the Beyond Reasons crews favorite drivers. To be honest it is all fun, and really just my way to be sure I cover the 15 minutes fluff as I said above. Apparently it became a hit. Most people we meet that listen in, and they number in the 10’s of people, know the Sunday net and the NASCAR updates. Usually they say with a smile that they enjoy it but didn’t know that I was the controller, I will have to work a little more on my fame, but it’s a start, ask for your autographs now ‘cause I may not have time later.

So I accepted my fabulous award from the two Net Managers   (Jake from the S/V Jake, and Tom from S/V Eagle). I shed a tear in private about the love I felt that night. My public is waiting, I am almost sure.

Pests, 7 Sept, 2012

We haven’t written much about pests in Mexico and Baja. For the most part they had been none existent. Baja has enjoyed a pretty wet summer this year. The results are wild flowers and green pasture areas that we have never seen before. There are times now when you are walking the beach or taking a short hike that the smell of the flower cactus and other plants just kind of overwhelms you. Typically you might smell mesquite or sage when you brush against the bush but lately just a puff of wind can loft the smell of blossoms into the air for all to inhale. At the points of some islands the fresh scent can travel a mile or more out over the sea make it possible to for even passing vessels to take notice. The additional or what we use to call in the shipping business, assessorial charge or bonus is the bugs.

During a typical summer you might experience a couple of anchorages where you are battling bees during the day time. Sometimes these battles do not go your way and others can see you leaving the anchorage with your electronic fly swatter waving madly about the boat while black exhaust billows out the stacks as your boat is trying to make warp speed away from the humming and infuriated bees. This summer with its beautiful flowers and frequent boat washes is just a bit different.

We did get our share of bees during the early stages of spring and summer, but as we drifted north we found BoBo’s. Bobo’s are similar to the gnats you find on a summer soccer field. They don’t bite, and for the most part don’t even land on you, they just irritate you with their soft buzzing around your head, eyes and ears. Looking back I think they were the harbinger of things to come. If I had only listened to their soft voices which were cleverly disguised as buzzing I would have heard them say, “Get out! Get out while you can”. The Sea of Cortez was about to unleash it’s furry on this city boy.

Bobo’s required just a short relocation or a wind above 10 knots to keep them out of the boat, but when we drifted into San Felipe we found Cockroaches. Before you ask, I am fairly certain we are roach free even today, but that was not from lack of them trying to get on board. The San Felipe roaches were nearly 3” long. When we poisoned the ropes to the boat, they flew inside. They are not cleaver fliers, but occasionally they get lucky and hurl themselves through windows and open hatches. We dealt with the roaches and I believe that when they figured we had them beat they called on their friends the fly’s to take a visit.

Still in San Felipe, we figured the flies were a local anomaly and when we departed they too would leave, we were wrong. The flies, hundreds of flies visited us daily. The locals say the flies came from the long awaited rains, but we still felt a bit self conscious when friends visited and along with a cocktail we handed them fly swatters at no extra charge. After a couple of weeks of flies, Lisa and I started lighting those Jesus candles you buy in the local tienda for a dollar. We figured it could not hurt and after all Jesus still owes us for being mean to use on our trip to San Felipe. Anyway, we eventually got our wish when we moved the boat to Isla Estanque. No flies, no roaches, no Bobo’s, but we did get moths.

Funny, moths are just like butterfly’s and for the most part during my life they have been well mannered and usually will just hang our by the lamp shades. My experience with Mexican moths is a bit limited so I was surprise when we were visited with enough moths to begin finding them in Salsa, cooked rice and periodically in our popcorn, enough. We bought a couple of candles for the moths too. Our boat was starting to look like a road side monument to dead truck drivers, but something had to be done. We made our vows but somehow I think we forgot that the “fly candles” had recently exhausted themselves and before we left Estanque the moths had backed off and the fly’s returned during the day shift. Along with the flies during the day, we started to get “no see’ums” at night. No See’ums are like Bobo’s except they bite, and hard. Without air conditioning it is really hard to keep the No See’ums at bay. We do burn insect coils to help. Actually we have burnt so many insect coils that Lisa has started to hallucinate during the night but when she wakes up without bites it is a struggle to decide if the death of brain cells is more important than the lack of itchy bites.

With regret I can tell you we are still almost 100 miles from the next Jesus candle shop. At our rate of movement it will be another week or two before we find relief. I have read the story of the biblical plagues and luckily my first born male child is hundreds of miles from us…lucky for him, not for us.

Reflecting back on San Felipe, 6 Sept, 2012

I didn’t get much of a chance to write while we were in San Felipe and I only just noticed it after I posted the update about the incidents I had had with the birds. Time really does fly when you are having fun I guess, and sometimes it flies even when things are not perfect as well, so choose your time wisely! While San Felipe may not get the vote for best small metropolitan area in Baja it really was worth the journey, if not just for the one time.

We explored the vastness of the desert via ATV and I think that if we would have rented the ATV’s for 3 days straight we still would not have run out of room to roam. We of course did the tourist thing by attacking the sand dunes around town but then struck out on our own across some desert trails. We got stuck a couple of times but with Lisa driving and me pushing we managed to not have to spend the night with the Coyotes and chopping off our fingers for dinner or drinking our own urine never even occurred to us. As a competent cub scout I had prepared well and brought a 12 pack of beer, a blanket and even an umbrella to provide shade so stuck or not we were prepared for an afternoon of fun and exploration.

Improvisation is one of my strong points and Lisa quickly pointed out that the ATV, although made for two riders was not equipped with a step or pegs that would accommodate her dwarfish legs so they lay about on the hot plastic right beside the engine. Lucky for us somebody had left a bunch of concrete banisters in the middle of the desert and we were able to knock the square pedestals off the ends to provide Lisa with steps that actually fit her well and made the afternoon ride comfortable.

We spent a couple of days roaming the town and at one time we actually visited Baja Ink, which is a tattoo shop. Lisa was contemplating getting a Man-O-war tattoo over the scarring that she took from the real thing a couple of months ago, but after working with the artist for several days it was decided that not all tattoo artists can draw a Man-O-war jellyfish that she would like to live with for LIFE! While we were down town we picked up a new pair of Harachi sandals for me and a couple of “San Felipe” tie dye dresses for Lisa, we have our weak side for kitsch so just couldn’t resist.

The trips to the doctor for Lisa were certainly the centric point of the trip, but each day we went into town we punctuated the event with Taco’s, Ice Cream or some other goodies, we certainly did not go hungry. With all the restaurants we hit while in San Felipe the one place we failed to discover till the last day was located near the fishing pier.

In order to get the full enjoyment of the tamale place we found on our last day you really need to get a good visual and sensory picture of the fishing pier. The pier is located about ¼ mile from the marina, and if you have read this blog you will know that the marina docks were covered in Pelican and Cormorant poo and at night you could dance the Rumba and without missing a beat crush 100’s of cockroaches in a single song. Lisa made the comment that the gate at the end of the dock was to keep the larger roaches from entering the marina. Anyway, there is a smell that goes with the Pelicans and Cormorants but back on the fishing pier our marina conditions pale in comparison.

 

Pelicans by the dozen roam the pier with an attitude. If you have young children you definitely want to hold on to them, the pelicans will actually attack if you don’t give them a little leeway. The pier is active so the smell of fishing boats, dead fish and decaying by catch are always at the forefront. The city sewer also appears to empty near the pier. I wouldn’t say it was gross, or one of the primary smells but when you have such a good cocktail of odors it is hard to discriminate.

 

So, we are hungry and really not looking to cook on the boat before a long trip so we ask the security guard if there is a good taco shop someplace within walking distance. I figured he would suggest something about a mile away but he pointed to old blue 1970’s vintage van down the street. He was pretty sure they were open so Lisa, Sparks and I wander down the “pier” street avoiding cockroaches, Pelicans and piles of dead bait to the van. Yup, she was open. We ordered a ½ dozen Tamale’s and a bottle of coke then went  back to the boat. The van actually had a small Taco bar setup outside with chairs, but we had reached our level of experimentation so the boat seemed a bit more comforting, especially if something in the tamales when horribly wrong.

Once back at the boat we enjoyed the best beef tamales we have had in Mexico! No after effects, cheap, and convenient, who could ask for more!

So the trip to San Felipe ended with a good note and we are proud of ourselves for completing a trip that only about 10% of the cruisers in Baja attempt. Oh, it is not a dangerous trip just inconvenient in the distance from any other anchorages and the proximity of the marina from the actual town does not lend itself to leisurely exploration. The trip home included a stop in Gonzaga bay, but then that is another story.

Birds; 11 Sept, 2012

Birds and specifically Sea Birds get an incredible amount of good press. They adorn the walls of many homes in the shape of brass silhouettes, as the focal point of a painting or to draw the attention of the observer to away from the main subject giving the painting or picture a much deeper since of realism. My mom has plastic sea gulls hanging from a mobile in her back yard. Even while sailing we watch with awe as Frigate birds sweep across the sky with indiscernible body movements that send them to all corners of the compass with ease and grace. Even the ungainly pelican is surprisingly graceful once it becomes airborne.

For a long time I have enjoyed the presence of birds around the boat. We have multiple pictures and fine memories of pelicans and both blue and brown footed boobies landing on or near our dinghy, but like everything in our fragile lives, those memories can be shattered by a single chaotic event, for example while in the final moments of docking your boat, the freeloading Boobie that has ridden 30 miles on the top of your mast decides poop on your head. Or as a second example the amazing frigate bird that look so graceful in the sky decides to land on the spreaders of your mast and immediately takes a dump on your freshly washed boat, cleaned solar panels and your chest and pants all at the same time. Nope, no longer are seabirds the enchantresses of the sea for me.

Having spent 2 weeks in San Felipe I have learned to deplore the existence of Pelicans, Cormorants and just about any other sea bird. They are filthy creatures that care not where the excrement that seeps from their bodies lands. I spent 3 hours scrubbing the dock in San Felipe to try to rid the place of crusted bird guano that not only accosted our olfactory senses but also brought hordes of flies into the boat. When we had finally gotten the cache of Caca off the docks we spent the next 13 days policing the docks of birds and fighting to keep the cormorants off our masts and defending against their almost automatic reflex to defecate on the boat seconds after finding a roost. Yes the loose stools of birds have lead me to outright Jihad against their incontinent ways.

It might come as a surprise to many that Jesus and I speak on a regular basis. Usually it is when I think he is being a bit mean spirited with me but there are other times that his good humor with me needs a response of thanks or acknowledgement. I have not done so yet but will soon have a discussion about the poor design of the incontinent bird. There is simple no reason these animals either don’t care or have no connective control over their bowels.

I can already hear you saying, “What a pansy, he gets hit with fresh liquid coprolite twice and he has to go straight to the boss”. Well that may not be completely true. While we were in San Felipe there was yet another incident that nearly caused an international incident. Lisa loves the story and although we have only been out of San Felipe for a little over 2 days she has mentioned it to at least 2 other boats and several people we have met on the beach.

After cleaning the decks one day, I noticed yet another cormorant on the mizzen mast. This scenario has played out several times a day for the last week or more. Each time my rage intensifies as I go about pounding on the mast, shaking halyards, sanctions and any thing I can find attached to the mast. It has even dragged me down to the level of squawking over the loud hailer to intimidate the poop filled birds to leave before any more of their stinking turd pudding flows over their sphincter dam and on onto my decks. As luck would have it, the Mexican Navy was watching this deranged Gringo yelling obscenities at the birds as he nearly torn the mast down trying to get at them. Although I was successful enough in finally getting the bird to move the last laugh came from the Mexican Navy when the bird shot an enormous glob of while sploog from it’s anus as it lifted from the mast. Of course the glob of half digested bird batter landed squarely on my bare chest which left my crew and the navy giddy for hours there after.

Dark and Stormy Night, 14, Aug, 2012

On August 14th around 10 pm it was a dark and stormy night. Truly the moon has yet to rise and when it does, if we see it, it will be less than 1/8th it’s full size. We expect it to come up around 3am on the 15th. The last radio transmission we have had was from a cruiser on another boat who said, “Dang, I was watching a Conquestador Movie and the next thing I knew my whole world was upside down”. We had just experienced a very large and powerful Chubasco, Mexican for Big “FN” Thunderstorm with lots of wind.

At 60 knots of wind we were taken by surprise. Lisa and I had settled down about 30 minutes before hand to watch another episode of “24” before putting up for bed. The first sign that things were about to get a little weird was the rolling of the boat. We had dropped anchor in a small cove at the North end of Isla Angel la Guardia (Gaurdian Angel Island I believe). We dropped plenty of scope (the amount of chain) for normal winds to 30 knots and figured we would have a pleasant night. We had sailed up from Isla Coronado this afternoon in 28 knots of wind and were really looking for some good sleep. Anyway, the boat started to rock and within 30 seconds the wind went from perhaps 10 mph to over 65 MPH. What surprised me more than anything now that I can reflect is that the ropes that usually clang about in 20 knots of wind stood completely silent in 60 knots, not a peep from any of them. What did make noise was the wind…holy Jesus did it roar. More than the noise was the immediate spray that flew around the boat. The entire viewing area of the window had turned white with spray and the occasional appearance of the dinghy as it leap from the water trying to free itself from the pelting it was taking by the wind driven rain.

Usually you need fetch or room on the water for wind to blow up waves that crest or turn white due to the force of air being driven into them. We literally had 300 feet from the shore to us. In an instant the wind was filled with spray and all the water around us was white. Never have either Lisa or I seen this before. We had wind protection from a hill that sits close to the shore and again no room for fetch, but hurricane category 1 wind will apparently make a mess of anything.

The TV was immediately shut down and moments later we were pulling down the aft sun shade trying to save it if possible. We make it a daily event to pull down the front shades immediately after the sun sets so that trouble was already taken care of. After the sun shade I went to work trying to find the deck chairs that had been laid flat earlier in the evening. Unfortunately we had a 50% casualty on the deck chairs and I found only 1 chair. After recovering the chair we also retrieved our salt water bucket and our cockpit cushion (25% loss). From there we just battened down the hatches and turned on the radar to watch for the calamities to happen.

Some 30 minutes into the ordeal and after we had started a small radio net to be sure everyone near the anchorage was safe, it sounded like a bowl of marbles had spilled over outside. Investigation revealed that 48 crushed beer cans had escaped captivity and were now freely roaming the boat top sides..Lisa most likely would have volunteered to recover the cans but I moved first and then sat on the cabin top while the waves whipped around us and collected cans as they rolled by me. The whole thing was pretty comical although if I had fallen off, the boat learched or Lisa had won the lottery, I could have been stranded or killed, such is the life of a sailor.

With most of the cans recovered I placed the can holder in a place I was sure was secure. I went down stairs to hear the can holder tip over again and the sound of expatrioted cans fleeing for their lives. I ignored the sound and figured the cans would be available for rescue if needed or I would be paying a large Mexican fine in the next couple of months for Littering.

The storm has been raging for about 4 hours now. I am getting tired and Lisa is sleeping. There are still winds over 30 knots but they are becoming less and less concerning since we just had a chubasco late last week that got up to 36 knots of wind and heck that one came with quite a bit of fetch and 4 foot waves to boot.

Assuming we live through this we will publish this story in about 2 weeks

Dancing to the beat of Life:  12 Aug, 2012

“No, but they are watching” Lisa said. Once again my spouse was giving me cogent advice on my public image and the impact it might have at another time. We had arrived at our new favorite anchorage, Las Rochas off the island of Coronado in the north portion of Bahia de Los Angeles. Our arrival signified the furthest north in the Sea of Cortez that Beyond Reason had ever sailed. Mind you we are just 4 miles or so further than the last time we visited but goals and mile stones need to be celebrated as they happen or you might miss a chance to celebrate.

The cove here at Las Rochas has seven distinct beaches. Each one sports a different venue, smooth sand beach on one, smooth shale stone beach on another, interesting rock formations on others etc. We are anchored pretty deep for Baja at 35 feet, but the interesting thing is that in the morning we can still see our anchor chain laying on the bottom of the sea from 35 feet up…nice clarity I would say. The weather so far has been agreeable with the humidity dipping to mid the 30’s yesterday and the temperature being only 99 degree’s, heck it felt like a cool day in Sacramento California in the summer. One of our reasons to celebrate was the lack of humidity as the previous 4 days in BLA had been hot and because of the morning rain that had gone on for 3 days the humidity had climbed into the 80% range. Honestly we thought 80% was rain, but not here.

It appears that we have 270 degree’s of wind wave protection in the cove which will be tested tomorrow when we expect to see 30 knots of wind come over the hill. If it works out fine I will forgive Las Rochas for not having any killable fish. It was only today that we found out this last tidbit of information although on the plus side the cove does boast one of the largest populations of Opal Eye’s that we have seen in a long time. Let’s just say that Las Rochas has beginner fish for killing, but since I graduated to the Omar Black Master spear gun, we normally do not take fish less than 3 lbs for lunch, that’s what chicken is for.

So our first night here was a celebration, and a long time ago my friend Dave Torrey gave me a card or something or other when I retired from the company we worked for that said to enjoy life and Dance like nobody is watching. Lisa and I had had our nightly (sometimes afternoonly) cocktails and some good tunes were wafting over the radio so I took Dave’s advice. Lisa, bless her heart told me to stop, the Pangarero’s (fishermen) were watching. Thank god “I’m too sexy” by Right Said Fred was not playing as I always get out of control on that song.

Northern Sea, Welcome to Baja Norte: 3 Aug, 2012

Today is day 7 in San Francisquito. This is a small bay about 150 miles south of San Filipe. The bay is lined with pure white sand beaches that roll up to yellow bluffs which are potted with caves and trimmed with Stovepipe and Cardon cactus.

In the evening coyotes will call out to the boats at anchor and periodically come down to the beach to check for snacks or perhaps take a small crab for a meal. If there was one complaint it would be the small desert marsh area that floods at high tide during the full moon releasing thousands of tiny mosquitoes that within seconds can overwhelm anything you are doing and send you seeking cover.

Because of their size it does not take much wind to send them searching for their own cover so for 5 days we have been able to keep them at bay. Over the last 2 days the mosquitoes have been a bit of a distraction during the night and anytime you need to pass through the marsh (to take pictures or go for a hike). Yesterday I knelt down to take a picture of the pickle grass and surrounding area and it took me 3 tries before I was even able to snap a picture because the mosquitoes were so quick to attack me. A better word than attack would be that they literally engulfed me within seconds of my stepping into their domain. The attack was so fast and furious that I really could not hold the camera still enough to push the shutter button and get the picture. I tried to get Lisa to come and see how bad they were but after the last couple encounters she has had with animals I guess she is getting a bit shy.

On August 1st it was my sad duty to report that Lisa was attacked on her last day of being 48 years of age by a Man-of-war Jelly fish. Although the actual details are sketchy, I am pretty sure she was yelling “Help me baby Jesus or Help me Oprah Winfree” as the Jelly fish chased her to the dinghy. The stings to her shoulder were pretty bad so taking a lesson from what we learned on our honey moon 30 years ago when I stepped on a sea urchin, I offered to pee on her shoulder to help the stinging (the ammonia is suppose to ease the pain according to Jamaican lore). Lisa quickly said “NO” and we drove to the boat to consult the medical manual. Apparently Ammonia is not the cure (it would have been really funny now if Lisa had said OK, instead of No), and instead we used the spray bottle of vinegar.

The scarring doesn’t look to bad this morning, and we are trying to figure out what type of tattoo will cover it. The only real issue was the amount of rum  Lisa consumed to kill the pain we will need to find a liqueur store soon.

After our trip to the states we finally got my spear gun working. I took it out a number of times over the last week and to be honest it is not really fair to the fish. We no longer Fish, we Kill. Sadly the killing has become so easy that I nearly lost my gun the other day when a school of 20 Crevalle, each about four feet long came swimming along. I was prepare and quickly aimed and fired. My spear found the mark and a second after pulling the trigger; my gun was jerked from my hand and watched in amazement as the fish swam away with my spear and the gun. Lucky for me the wounded Crevalle wanted to join the rest of the group and for some reason they all wanted to come back for another look at me. When they did this the wounded fish went to the bottom to scrub my spear from its body then disappeared. The gun and now bent spear floated to the surface and I recovered it. I was sure the gun was ruined (bent spear and all), but I was able to straighten it up while I reviewed my lesson on making sure I had a good hold of the gun at all times.

Today we are head north again. We are hoping to visit a couple of new coves along the route to Bahia De Los Angeles and expect to be out another week or two before posting this and other messages.

Showers:  16 July, 2012

“God damn it, I am serious I tell Lisa, let me out and the guys at the desk owe me a beer”! I was tired even after just taking a shower. We had pulled into Santa Rosilia earlier in the day. We anchored out in the bay to save a couple of dollars on the fee to berth.  Although we had made reservations for earlier in the month, they were not for today, so we thought we would wait one day and enjoy just one more day of being off the grid.

The Palapa of Knowledge is well known on the Sea of Cortez for cheap beer, funky atmosphere and cagey old men that seem to know the answer to everything. Really it was the cheap beer that attracted us, plus the fact that several of our friends were berthed near by. The cool thing about the place is it is a kick back in time where beer is on the “honor system”, heck the whole place is on honor including the $25.00 pesos (about US $1.50) which allows you to land your dinghy, take a shower, drop off trash and pickup beer for about US $1 each that are cold, very cold.

So after we racked up 10 beers for the short afternoon, I decided I would test the shower. Lisa is much more risk adverse than I, so she opted for showing on the boat. She has quite a phobia about cockroaches (or as they are called here, Palm Beatles). Same thing though, 3 inches long, brown and if you step on them you stand a good chance of losing your footing. Anyway I got my shower gear and before I went in I was told that I had to mop the bathroom when I finished. Well that was kind of a shock but heck, I can do manual labor and at least you can be sure that the filth is kept to a minimum if everyone does this.

We have written about Mexican showers before, and this one was not exception, tile floor, cracked and missing in places, mold lightly providing contrast to the tile/grout motif, rusting shower drain and of course the dribble of water that comes from the shower head that you just hope can be adjusted by wiping the calcium deposits off with your finger nails.

Once I get the water running, and find some way to keep my junk (clothes this time) from touching the ground, I enjoy the shower, warm, refreshing and continuous which circles back to refreshing, something that is not always available in Mexico.

I complete and am happy to have kept my bare skin from touching most of the hard surfaces while doing pogo jumps to get my pants up. I pack up and that is when the real fun begins.

I am ready to begin mopping my way out of the room but can’t find a handle to the door that I PRESSED shut since it didn’t have latch. Most shower doors have room at the top of the door to grab the door and pull it toward you in an emergency, not here. This door was virtually sealed. Had the drain clogged it is reasonable to assume that I could have floated out the window and onto the street if I had wanted, but no matter how I pounded and quickly retracted my hand, tried to dig my finger nails between the frame and the glass of the door, or tried to create suction cups with my gecko hands, I could not get the door to open….Enter tourettes syndrome.
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I am screaming to Lisa that I can not get out and I need her to enter the men’s room to help pry the door open. In the background Lisa is giggling and speaking with all the old men about me “mimicking scenes from Spinal Tap or Captain Ron or even Christmas Story”. I pound again with a little more enthusiasm and a little more volume, but again the giggle, and “your funny, I am not coming in to “HELP” you”. Finally I have to just yell, “God Damn it Lisa, come in here I am stuck”. That helped. She came in and pounded on the door from the other side, literally. It was at this time that I told the guys when I got out either somebody was going to pay the price or owe me a beer.

Eventually Lisa was able to get the door to open and I waltzed out with my mop in hand, sweating and ready for another shower, at the boat.

Another day at the Island: 13 July, 2012

Tropical storm Fabio is beginning to form up today. The location is 400 miles south of Manzanio so we are not concerned today as it will have to travel 800 miles North just to begin to put a scare in us. We are told that in any given year there are about 16 named storms during the Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season. Of those 16 storms, 8.4 will become hurricanes and 3.9 or the 8.4 hurricanes will be major. To date we have had 5 hurricanes this year out of 6 named storms. Storm #6 is Fabio. I am not sure what I think of that. The most active hurricane month are July thru September, and since we already had 5 hurricanes already I can’t imagine what the active months are going to be like. God bless us everyone.

We are currently enjoying being at anchor in a place called  Sweat Pea Cove on Isla San Marco’s. Don’t ask me why it does not have a Spanish name to it, but there you go  perhaps it is payback for the Spanish naming most of the towns in California “San” –what-ever. Anyway, we have expected it to be nice for the last couple of day and continue to endure the 19 knots of breeze during the day and 25 to 30 knots of breeze during the night. Needless to say I have black circles forming under my eyes and every night but one I have spent in the cockpit trying to sleep and watch anchor while Lisa lounges away in the forward berth with fans and misters keeping her cool and content, not to mention oblivious to noise and racket created by waves and wind. Paradise I tell you, just wish I was Lisa.

Actually we have still been having a good time. We dive and kill fish most days and when we don’t do that it leaves more time for Gin and Tonic or Rum and Coke, so how do you curse mother nature for less than perfect weather, perhaps she is just keeping us in check (don’t want to drink all the rum in the first week : ). The thunder storms keep us guessing every afternoon if we need to pull the dinghy engine “just in case we have to escape” or if we should just relax and let the insurance agents worry about the anchor draggin. Today Blue Water insurance has the watch, I’m going to the beach.

It’s not the same the second time around: July 10, 2012

Lisa and I have been on a little morality kick lately. Our primary view is still that if you are not hurting other people do what you like, but be prepared for us to talk about you anyway.

One of the things that has really caught us this time around is the pervasiveness of drugs. By this what I really mean is marijuana. I can’t remember if anyone offered us a joint while we were here the last time, but over the last 6 months we have been offered a “toke” by at least 6 other cruisers. There has definitely been a shift in attitude as I don’t think we have been offered a beer by many more people than that. The odd thing is the ages of the folks we have met smoking dope range from 23 to over 70! In all instances the people were polite and asked us if we minded them smoking in front of us. Since it was not our boat or car we obviously did not object, somehow that would be rude.

I don’t know all the rules in Mexico but I do know that drugs are still illegal. I also know that your boat can be confiscated if drugs are found on board. I don’t know if there are limits or minimums that would allow you to keep your boat, but you can look that up yourself. The topic of drug use (in all instances marijuana) came up the other day with a friend of ours. He was surprised by my attitude about weed and questioned me about why. I truthfully answered him that I haven’t touched it since I was 17, it makes me nervous and it was illegal. He questioned me further asking if I had ever done anything that was not legal, and I just had to answer him that I have never done anything that would allow me to lose my boat if caught. He thought about this for a second and then relayed a story of his drug storage on board. Just a number of months ago he was in San Pedro cove north of San Carlos and he did have a stash on board. During the day three Mexican Navy boats came into the cove. He said he got so nervous that he threw his entire collection of drugs and smoking equipment over the side. The Navy never came over to inspect him, but he was afraid just the same.

I can’t imagine living under the pretense that you always have to watch for the navy or customs because of what you have on the boat. Heck we offer up beer and wine whenever the local constabulary is around, why risk your boat. As we were talking about his experience it morphed into where people hide there drugs and to me just the fact that I would have to place it in a bottle under all my chain in the chain locker, or inside a unused thru-hole or pipe would make recreation so much of a chore that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it even if I did, I have a hard time putting the rum bottle in it’s cabinet at the end of the day. To each his own, but I can’t figure out why you would complicate your life.

The other day we were at the Fourth of July party. For the most part it is a pot-luck. Somebody had the idea that cooking up marijuana laced brownies would be fun. Ok, if it is your house or boat and you let people know, perhaps, but a family pot-luck, I don’t think so. The brownies were labels as “Toxic”, not drug laced, not for people over the age of 21 or whatever, just toxic. We picked up the hint and avoided the brownies, another friend of ours failed to take heed. He is not a drinker and I am fairly sure he does not use any recreational mood enhancers but he did try the brownies. Keep in mind this was pot luck so anything is possible, but shortly after his snack he became ill. My guess is he had a panic attack or nervous attack if you like but it could have been bad potato salad or even the sun. He needed to lie down for about an hour before he could make it back to the boat. After a couple of more hours on the boat he returned and was fine, no harm done.

On the other side of the morality issue is the question of when is it ok to walk around the decks nude. I can here my daughter saying now “for you Dad, never”, ok I get it. Many of the anchorages we go to are filled up like a KOA on Labor Day. Several times now we have entered these types of “campgrounds” and there is some dude with no shorts on traipsing around the deck like he is the only one in the anchorage. Now before you say it, I do shower on deck. Mind you we have large gunnels so really unless you are really looking the best you will see is me from the waist up. We always try to anchor away from others and if the anchorage is really crowded I do go in doors, or we pull up a shade in the cockpit. My peeve is really just the guys or gals (heck most of us are over 50 so it takes the cultured eye to see beauty in the lot of us) who seem completely immune to the fact that they are not alone in the anchorage and although a glimpse of there naked selves leads to good cocktail conversation, watching them clean the boat in the nude leads to dinner convulsions, put a sarong on Tonto!

Addendum: I wrote this piece several days ago. We hadn’t had a chance to post it as we were away form the dock for several weeks. 30 minutes ago, a boat pulled into the anchorage. We are the most southerly boat in the anchorage and our closest neighbor WAS 500 yards from us. This boat pulls in within 100 yards from us. By all accounts I am ok with the closeness but really the anchorage runs about a half mile further south (in case you are wondering we were the first boat here and alone for 2 days before anyone came in). Anyway, the anchor is dropped and 30 minutes later, Nature boy is on deck, wang-a-danglin’ and launching his dinghy..err…small little boat to get to shore, naked as a Jay Bird. Somebody tell me Jesus doesn’t have a since of humor.

Another day in Paradise: June 28, 2012

It is 10:30 in the morning, 91 degrees and the sun is just beginning to ascend above the hills of Punta Conception.  Perspiration is beginning to crawl its way out of my pores, but the breeze coming down the seaway devours most of it before it can make its way down my face. Call it another day in paradise. Already today Sparky and I have gone to the beach to take care of the morning call, Lisa has ordered up 2 lbs of Callo or Scallops from the local fisherman ($4.50 per pound), the breakfast dishes are done and the solar panels are juicing up the batteries favorably. We have strung together a number of very good days lately. I won’t say that all the boat issues are taken care of but at least they have slowed down to a manageable level.

Over the last 3 days we have travels just short of 70 miles. Two thirds of that we did yesterday mostly under sail in 20 knots of wind and 5 – 6 foot following seas. On our last day in Coronado (3 days ago) we completed the removal and re-installation of 100 teak plugs which has enhanced the appeal of our deck, harassed a large portion of the fish population in the area, harvested 25 rock scallops that immediately made it into stuffed Pablano Peppers with a cream sauce, swam with dolphins and then watched the phosphorescence bloom under the boat as the moon drifted across the moisture laden sky.

On departure from Coronado we caught our second fish this season while underway. Skipjacks are certainly not the best of fish and some would say they are more useful as bait than food. Lisa and I have a way of preparing this strong flavored fish which might change ones mind. You can have look in the recipe section if you have a mind to look it up. Again, as with the Mahi Mahi we caught less than a week earlier this fish had copious amounts of blood which it sprayed on our decks and cabin but this time as if not to be out done by the Mahi, it also has a pretty intense fish odor to go with it, a big clean up job.

So we are now at the mouth of Conception bay. Why they call it Conception is anyone’s guess. Last night I would say the Conception Index might have been 2 on a scale of 5. Sweltering, but not so much that the bed was completely empty. During the night there was actual a point that both Lisa and I occupied it at the same time, but certainly at arms length from each other. As the fourth of July nears I am sure the index will continue to drop to zero, there will be no Grandpa sex for at least a couple of weeks I am sure.

It looks like the local pangarerro is coming back with our fresh scallops (can’t seem to get enough of them), so I will end it here and look to post this in the next couple of days when we reach El Burro Cove about 8 miles from here.

Internet is tough to find: June 15, 2012

It seems like a long time since we have written anything down, but the real truth is it has just been a long time since we have had internet. We are sitting on the North side of Isla San Francisco today. We spent last evening in the Southern anchorage here and due to the wind and waves that were influenced by that wind had a pretty rowdy night of rocking and bobbing about. All in all it was really a good day yesterday despite what we might have thought of the evening conditions.

We had left Caleta Partida that morning and had a fine sail the 20 or so miles to San Francisco. To top off the sail we caught our first Dorado in over 3 years and quickly made a mess of the deck filleting it. We have caught a lot of big fish on this boat but the little 22 inch Dorado we caught yesterday bleed more than any fish we have ever caught. When we were completed we had blood from the gunnels to the top of the cabin roof and spread out about 15 feet from the front of the boat to the back. We ended up closing all the windows and just doing a general scrub down of the boat to clean up. We pulled into a place called the Hook and after setting the anchor dove into the nearly 80 degree water to cool down from a fairly warm day.

Today we moved about 2 miles to try to get out of the wind and put us closer to a small village of fishermen on Isla Coyote. After we anchored  Lisa and I worked on our forward sail which during the sail the previous afternoon had torn free from the top part o the mast. Mostly this just entailed pulling the sail (Jib) down, hand sewing some nylon strapping to the top and then re-installing it. Not a bad job or way to spend the morning and it sure felt good to work on something outside instead of in the bilge or in some tight corner of the boat. When we finished we fired up the dinghy and roared 2 miles across the bay to the island of Coyote and the small village.

We were greeted by Manual, one of the village elders and he promptly helped us to the beach and tied our dinghy up. Manual was not pushy but asked if we would like to see his village, which we promptly agreed that we would. The town contains perhaps a dozen homes, each is attached to the hillside of the island with very nice cement foundations and most have a thatched roof, though some are not as nice as others. The whole village was remnisant of the hamlets that you might see or read about in old England. Although there is not a lot to see in a village this size they do have a small museum of whale bones, a church and a small bead or jewelry industry. Manual asked if we would like to see the beading work and of course Lisa said yes, so we strolled up the dirt path to one of the last homes on the hill and were greeted by Contessa who made the necklaces and other stuff. Lisa spent a good 15 minutes looking around and eventually we walked away with $7 worth of bracelets and neck jewelry. The nice thing was there was never any pressure to buy anything so it was relaxing. The other thing about this town is it is the first time I have ever seen any Mexicans lying about in Hammocks. In the Jewelery show room there were two people in other rooms relaxing in hammocks and on the way down the trail there were at least 3 others keeping up the image. It all added to the charm of this town and although we soon jumped back into the dinghy it was a great diversion for the day.

Sparky was waiting for us on return and so we motored to the beach for a little stroll down the small beach. We are cooking up the last of yesterdays catch tonight, The freezer is keeping up with our ice needs so there should be some cool rum and cokes about to help wash down fish.

The fun starts with the turn of the Key: 9 June, 2012

Casey from the Sailboat V-ger called out to me from his dinghy, “That was good luck it didn’t happen 20 miles from here”. He was right in a way, but “Good Luck”, I don’t know.

 

We anchored out the night prior, just slightly beyond the docks that had held us for a couple of week. We stayed an extra day just so we could visit with some new friends that came into town, so today was departure day. As we figured we would motor at least an hour today to leave the channel that flows out of La Paz we didn’t really mind that the batteries were low and I was running the Ham net that morning.
After the net and a near perfect checkout with the local port captain in understandable Spanish, we pulled up the anchor and slowly started to motor out the channel that flows from La Paz. Not 100 yards from our original anchoring spot I notices that we were not producing any electrical power (not a big deal, but quizzical), and the water temp looked way high. Since we had been fiddling with electrical stuff over the last couple of weeks I figured something had disconnected so continued for a few more yards as I watch the temperature go from 170 degrees to almost 200. I yelled to Lisa that we had a problem and I was shutting down the engine, “prepare to anchor”.

 

We coasted into a spot that looked safe enough and dropped anchor. I was quite sure we had lost a belt to the engine and on inspection that was precisely what had happened, the alternator/freshwater cooling belt had failed.
The belt braking was not wholly unexpected as it has happened many times in the past and these belts have weathered some pretty warm temperatures in the last 4 years. We pulled out some new belts and as luck would have it the ones we had were just about the right size to almost offer a solution, but not quite. Apparently we had bought belts about 1” too long and we did not have that much travel in the alternator to take up all the slack.

 

While I was futzing with the belt I notice a slow leak of water, so since I was in the vicinity I followed it to the intake hose for sea water cooling of the generator. It looked like just a loose hose but the more I touched the hose the more water leaked in. I shut the valve off and did a bit more discovery only to find out that a complete fitting had shattered and I now had a 1.5” hole in our boat below the water line, Good Luck was with me in that the valve to shut off the water actually worked.
I tightened up the belt on the alternator and basically got the boat going again, although I would say we where hobbled at best. So we upped anchor again and headed to a safer stop for anchorage (we were actually in the main channel during this period). We dropped anchor and I prepared to go to shore in search of the right belts, the fix for the broken fitting and to take the trash in. Of course this would be Sunday and the chances of stores being open in Mexico on a Sunday are limited. It was good luck that we do not have a holiday tomorrow.
I spent an hour in town finding an open beer store, plastic florist and rotisserie chicken outlet, but no open auto parts or marine parts stores. Our biggest issue now was power. We do have solar but it hardly keeps up with hair driers, refrigerators and computer usage, so the number one priority would be getting the generator back on line (water). As I boarded the boat Lisa met me with “I think we have another problem”, I think I said “shucks” but perhaps I am just shy. Anyway, turns out the propane hose blew up while I was away. Blew up might be overstating, it just blew apart. Lisa was close by so the propane was shut down immediately and no harm happened. Unfortunately getting a new hose will have to wait, it’s Sunday. On the good luck side of things we have a backup and breakfast, which was a bit late, was done on the barbeque which uses a separate tank and shorter hose.

It has taken a little over 2 hours since I arrived back to cobble a new fitting for the water hose, so it was good luck that we had spares which could be cobbled. We will get a new fitting tomorrow. We also were able to clamp the propane hose back together using a special wire clamping tool I bought 6 years ago, so Good Luck we had that on board. The belts will have to wait till tomorrow as well, but thank God for our Good Luck we could have been doing all this in the cold damp North West, North East or South Pole.
I really am thankful that we have a finite number of systems and items on the boat, we are working through each one and someday soon we will have repaired everything. With good luck we will only have to do each one once.

Farm Raised Rabbits:  June 8, 2012

We needed propane today. We didn’t really NEED propane, but since we are just about ready to jump the fence that is La Paz I figured we better fill up while we can. Propane is kind of hit or miss situation in Mexico. By this I mean that sometimes it is easy to get (La Paz/San Carlos) and other times it is a bit of a ride (Mazatlan or Puerto Vallarta) on a bus with an extensive walk tacked on. In San Carlos we were able to head to the bar, give the bar tender our tanks and later that day the tanks would be filled and the bill was the price of the propane fill was the cost of the propane only. In La Paz they offer a service where a guy comes and picks up your tanks and charges a set rate for the transport and fill. We have 1 gallon tanks. The typical charge if we fill directly from a vendor is about $20 pesos or $2 US.

Last week I took a tank to the “service guy” to have it filled. He wanted $100 pesos, but at the time I needed some for the Bbq, so I paid the $6 or $7 US dollars to have the single tank filled, fine. Today I took our other tank in just to be sure we were topped up and he wanted $150 pesos. I just couldn’t do it. I could live without this tank till we got to another city if needed so I returned home. On the way I passed Club Crucero’s, the local Yacht club for Gringos and others. Our neighbor called out regarding me carrying my still empty tank back to the boat. We discussed the situation with the “price hike” and a heavy discussion began regarding my inflexibility to accept that this guy was running a business and the devaluation of the peso for him needed to be shored up by people like me. I explained my side of the situation to this Ex-patriot, and assured him that Goat Tacos were still the same price regardless of what the dollar value was in terms of the peso. The price of fuel here is still the same and a cup of overpriced coffee at the local café is still the same expense as it was 2 weeks ago.

As the conversation continued I was reminded of the book, Watership Down by Richard Adams. As I recalled there were a bunch of farm rabbits that could not be persuaded to leave the farm for a life of freedom because they got their daily needs filled by the farmer that eventually chose a couple of rabbits for his dinner. Somewhere in the story the quote “Rabbits need dignity and above all the will to accept their fate” shows up. I thought to myself how fitting this is for many of the gringo’s in La Paz. La Paz already has a reputation of being a vortex. Lisa and I have known this for a while which is why we are so adamant about getting out of here. When I think about the way this city sucks in Gringo’s and then holds them while providing all their needs I can’t help but think that the marinas here should be called Warrens not marinas.

Eventually I broke off from the conversation a the rabbit hutch, aka, Club Crucero’s and walked back to the boat. For the most part the Rabbits at the club were the same Rabbits that frequent Ciao Molina, and although I hesitate to say that I wrote about them already, I am not sure. In any event on the same day that we were overcharged at Ciao Molina we did have a chance to go back and bring the topic up to some of the patrons there. To our surprise many had been overcharged on occasion but again, nobody would take my side, just the retort that it was Mexico and it happens some times (so does the taking of rabbits on the farm) but that is just the way things happen.

I can’t say I am sad for these folks, but what burns me is that there is local discussion daily on the VHF radio were many of these same folks are bad mouthing the US, our policies and rightfully or not our politics while here in their own home they accept their local establishments to extort money from them in the same way they say republicans and democrats are extorting the money from the US citizens.

As we get ready to leave the marina/burrow I am happy to say that we have yet to be cheated by any establishment that is outside the influence of gringo marinas. We are thankful for being able to travel in Mexico and truly love the hospitality that we are shown from the greater majority of its citizens.

Ciao Molina, La Paz, May 29, 2012

So we had a pretty good day today as we said in the front end of the blog.   Lisa and I decided we would blow a little of our hard earned patriot cash on the Mexican economy and then go to pick up her new bathing  suits.

 

Ciao Molina has been a fixture here in La Paz for at least the last  four years that we know, but during that time we have never had any reviews on it.

 

We dropped in at about 4 pm and of course since the weather was hot and the sun was still up there was no body in the place.  We checked in with the waiter to be sure they were open and to be sure that Margaritas were actually 2 for 1 then made an order for 2, and asked for the La Carte (menu).   When the Margaritas arrived (all 4 at once) we ordered some Calamari so as not to take advantage of the 2 for 1 special (daily from 1 to 8 pm).

 

The Margaritas were nice, small, but plenty of ice and salt which is really what we wanted after being in the sun for 8 hours varnishing.   When we completed the first two drinks (one each) and settled into the next two, which by now were a bit watered down, the calamari arrived.   The squid was very good and the wait was worth it since I am sure they were warming up the oil, this place has potential but we hadn’t yet received the bill!

 

So the waiter came over to offer the bill and to our surprise, 100 pesos for drinks and 65 pesos for squid added up to 210 pesos, Surprise!

 

We paid the bill and tipped the waiter well, although we were astonished that the bill was about $5 more than we figured.   After we paid we thought to ask the waiter if we had premium margaritas and he said “no”, just the normal 50 peso ones.   Again we were taken back by the cost so asked why they were not 2 for 1?   The waiter then went to the sign which is normally out side and looked at it and told us the sign said 2 for 75 peso’s..OK, Gringo stupid here, we said thanks then left and on the way picked up the sign, 2 for 1.

 

We have been treated very well in Mexico, so this is not a slam on the country, but bullshit like this beyond me.   The sign reads  2 for 1 everyday from 1 to 8 pm.   We left and on the way out spoke with the taxi drivers that we just outside the place.   In broken Spanglish Lisa tried to tell them that we just got taken.   The Spanglish didn’t work so well but when I showed them the international sign of the Gringo getting screwed, they all laughed with sympathy.   We walked on for about 50 feet when I finally had enough sympathy and thought I should go back and give the waiter a piece of my mind.

 

I don’t know many cuss words in Spanish, which might be good since I think you can still shoot people for crimes of passion and get away with it.  Instead I went into the restaurant and called out for “Pancho” which I figured was about as bad a word as any other thing I could come up with.   I told Pancho I didn’t want money back but was offended by his failure to treat us right.   I also showed him the sign (which he had read to us earlier), then we walked out.   Pretty weak I know, but I do like Mexico still.

 

Lisa bought me a fancy ice cream about 5 minutes later to calm me down…Drama

La Paz, time for a fix:  May 26, 2012

It has been a pretty fairish couple of days here  in La Paz. We had a good trip south and although we did not do much exploring we did visit three new anchorages. Two of the anchorages will be repeats for the way north and the third, Caletta Gallina will be held in memory when we need southern wave protection. Gallina was not really pretty but it sure made for a good nights sleep.

We pulled into La Paz on Monday evening and anchored just across from the Mexican Navy base. Having been here before we knew the tides and wind could be strong so we anchored with plenty of scope (lots of chain in the water). The wind stayed close to 20 knots all night and for some reason the current was counter to the wind for what seemed like 18 hours. This didn’t put any undue stress on the boat at anchor but made the boat rode sideways to the wind all night and although the boat faced one way the anchor was actually behind us giving me an uneasy feeling. It was all short lived as we moved to the marina on Tuesday.

As we entered the marina a large crowd gathered. The crowds are not unusual when we come into a marina as our boat is good sized and most people know that boats of our style are not easily handled in marinas, ie they don’t turn on a dime and are hard to stop once they get going. So although it would have been nice if everyone was throwing Hawaiian Leis or waving flags they were just here to see the crash. When we didn’t come directly into the slip but instead passed it and then began to back into the slip you should have seen the faces and all the excited movement from the 5 boats that seemed most likely to be speared or crushed by us, poor non-believing masochists, as usual our bow thruster did most of the work and we easily backed into the 15’ wide hole for our 14’ wide boat. The crowds dispersed, and I am sure I heard them murmuring how disappointed they were that no fiberglass was exchanged today.

We got to work on locating mechanics and electronic technicians immediately with the help from our friends Alex and Sue on Maitairoa. With everything lined up for the next day we went in search of tacos and a beer or two.

On Wednesday the mechanic for the transmission showed up. Collin is about 70 and as I understand it does transmission and diesel work now as a hobby. He is very grandfatherly when Lisa is around but I think he must have been in Nelson’s Navy because when she is not here he is plenty verbal with stuck nuts and bolts. We got on well and although he had another job to complete we got most of the removal work done the first day.

On Thursday we were rudely reminded that we are in Mexico and even if the mechanics are gringo they have been in the country long enough to dispel the notion of being on-time or on-date. To this end at 0930 we did not have anyone on the boat working on transmissions. Just about lunch time, Collin dropped by to say he was still working on the other boat and said he would come by later in the day. We countered with asking him to just show up on Friday morning with out fail as we were expecting the Electrical technician to come by in an hour anyway.

As 3pm rolled by and the electrician hadn’t showed I began to get frustrated. We have a lot of additional things that we could be doing if we were not waiting on appointments to come and go. When 5:30 came along I began to hustle Lisa to get dressed so we could go have a couple of sundowners with friends and bitch about the fricken-fracken mechanics and electrical numb-nuts. Just then the electrical dude showed up.

So at the time of this writing I do not think that Jeff from JWi is a numb-nuts anymore. He appears (the unit is not fixed yet) to know his stuff and after about 30 minutes of playing with the radar monitor he asked to be hoisted up the mizzen to see what was going on at the ray dome side of the unit. He took a bunch of pictures, wrote down notes and then departed so he could consult with the Furuno techs in the states. On Friday he returned with the news that the most likely trouble was the magnetron. The magnetron is essentially the radar. It is what produces the energy to cook your hot dogs or popcorn in the microwave and also the part that sends out the “RA-y” in Radar. Approximate cost is something like $700 plus installation. We will see.

Collin also showed up yesterday and we got the transmission out of the bilge with some cleverness and muscle. I am happy to say it is gone, and although the boat doesn’t move now, I think by this time next week we should be ready to leave the marina. Now I need to get to another taco stand.

It’s not all curly fries and sunshine:  May 16, 2012

It has been quite the day today. After a near perfect day yesterday at Isla Monserrat we woke this morning to no wind in the anchorage but there were one foot smooth waves that were left over from the wind that we had last night.

 

Most people who don’t sail would think that an anchorage with wind was bad, but in reality it just holds your boat steady and if you are well anchored you sleep fairly soundly.

When the wind dies the boat no longer takes on the angle of the wind (and usually the waves) meaning it no longer points directly into them (especially the waves). So the wind died this morning about 4 am. By 4:30 we were broadside to the waves and wallowing from side to side pretty good. Actually it was good enough to send dishes that we left to dry last night on to the floor, and good enough to slam the dinghy into the side of the boat with a bang. All this meant my sleep was over and I needed to get moving to settle items into their “underway” position and paradise was lost. Lisa continued to slumber away as her’s is to sleep during the normal none waking hours and that is just the way it is.

After breakfast and doing the dishwashing bi-athalon (wash a dish, set it down, chase it across the counter till you have it wrapped up in the drying towel, repeat), we realized that our chosen anchorage, though well protected from some weather was not protected from the incessant waves that wrapped around the point and continued to roll us from side to side. Lisa and I decided to bail and try to make Agua Verde, 15 miles distance from us. After upping anchor and rounding the point we realized that it was going to be a tough destination to make against the wind. Being the type of folks that like to avert repression we adjusted our sails and 2 hours later found ourselves back at Candelaros Grande for the third time this month. The anchorage is really nice but honestly we feel like we have a rubber band pulling us back to the Puerto Escondido area each time we try to leave..

Our total forward progress in 1 month has been approx 7 miles although in actuality we have sailed or motored about 80 miles. Looking at the weather forecast we will be here for a couple of days then we make the big jump 12 miles down the coast if everything holds up. Yeah I am saying it again; trouble is looming just around the corner with our transmission this time.

Before we moved from Candeleros Chico two days ago we noticed some red transmission oil in the bilge. The gearbox was about 1 quart short so we topped it up and have yet to determine if the leak is pervasive or something that had just occurred over the last 3 months, either way it’s got our hackles up again and moving to La Paz becomes more and more a requirement (radar and now potential disassembly of the engine/gearbox unit).

So we trudge forward two steps and stagger back one again. It’s not all bad, the location is still nice and the weather has actually forced another 24 boats into the anchorage today so we have lots of company, but the deck showers will now have to stop for a while. Since we were not the first boat we don’t feel we can scare off the neighbor by showering outside and still feel good about ourselves. Another day in Paradise

Country Time:12 May, 2012

Today feels a lot like one of those old Country Time Lemonade ads. Lisa has the satellite radio turned to the Sinatra Channel so we have Louie Armstrong, Dinah Washington and Eartha Kitt all lulling us into a mood that is surprisingly relaxed and without worry. The dog is peacefully sleeping in the shade of the bimini, Lisa is in and out of the water swimming, sunning and doing that manny/petty thing that girls do. None of us seem to need anything from the other so we are all in our own little places doing what we enjoy. Things are really good.

A lot of this has to do with the anchorage we are in. The place is on the south east side of Carmen Island. The official name is Bahia Cobre, but we like to call it Corbert Bay in honor of Steven Corbert and the Corbert Nation.

 

We arrived yesterday, May 11th after leaving Bahia Salinas which is just around the corner. The place is completely deserted and the first anchorage since San Pedro cove that we have had to ourselves. To complement the isolation the fishing and diving have been terrific. There are simply way to many large fish here. If my spear gun was working we would fill the freezer with grouper and obscenely large trigger fillets. Lisa took a nice grouper yesterday but capping crown was the 20 lbs trigger that I took with the pole spear. The vibrant blue colors you see in the photo do not do justice to how spectacular it looked underwater. The fillets are providing 4 full meals for both Lisa and I.

I am not usually a fan of eating triggers but the one we shot yesterday honestly could have passed for teriyaki beef or pork in both taste and texture, call me a convert.

Sadly we will be moving later today or early tomorrow due to the expected NE winds of 20 knots that will pummel the anchorage. If we have a chance we will return in a couple of days when the winds change directions. There are very few all weather anchorages in the Sea of Cortez so moving is just a part of life. We could just ride the swell out, but I simple see no reason to rock and roll when just around the corner there is a new cove worth exploring that will allow us to relax at night and keep us from decimating the marine life here.

30 days in the hole:7 May, 2012

We are finally moving again and have put Loretto and Puerto Escondido behind us. We did the final shopping last night at the marina teinda. Pedro is a little pricey but when you factor in a $60 taxi ride to get to Loretto for groceries he is the best bargain in town. Even better than the convenience is the fact that he accepts our ATM card so we still have ducats in our pockets for later on in the trip.

The plan is to move east then south. The next big city should be La Paz but we don’t believe we will get there till late May or early June. That is three weeks out so you never know. La Paz is only about 150 miles away and we have never hit a lot of the anchorages along the way, we hope to this time.

Major provisions for this leg of the trip included a case of beer to top up the refrigerator (4 cases in total), a case of Castillo Rum which we bargained with Pedro to give to us for about $6.23 but in the end I think he still charged us the full $6.83 for each liter bottle, 36 eggs, 3 lbs of scallops, flour and some assorted other items. We were not empty by any means so this was just to keep Beyond Reason running at full speed.

We are roughly 4 miles from our destination and the weather is a nice 85 degrees with just a slight wind out of the southwest. The best I can say is we are motor sailing. I won’t add this leg to our sailing portion of the trip which is still a good 75% of the time. Summer is coming and I am sure the motoring will out do the sailing, but it was a nice start.

Yesterday Lisa and I did some fishing and diving. Lisa caught a 3 foot needle fish with her own lure, but in the end the fish won as just at the boat one of the swivels let loose and the fish dropped back to the sea. I recovered our lunch in the form of a 2 foot Opal eye and a couple of rock scallops.

That’s about it for updates, everything is running well we  have no major issues at the time, boring huh. Bahia Salinas will be today’s stop. It is a closed salt mine (1980’s), but sports a sunken “treasure/tuna” boat and some easy hikes. If the weather holds we will stay for a while, if not it will be a short trip around the point of Isla Carmen to Bahia Cobre for protection and seclusion.

SNAFU part duex: May 1, 2012

There are days when I have to think that I am genetically disposed to have trouble. Obviously my troubles pale in comparison to those who are losing houses, farms, or lives but I just don’t know why the simple things escape simple solutions when I am here in a foreign country.

My biggest issue with blaming troubles on my family is that I don’t remember my dad even being beset with small issues that dragged on and on. My older brother appears to be without trouble, but my younger brother may be afflicted the same as me and I seem to have passed it on to my son.

For weeks I have written about the trouble with our diesel leak and generator issue. Ultimately both troubles were cured when the correct parts were fitted although the parts were either never there in the first place or replacement parts were available on board the boat but defective. Before we started this “Adventure” we acquired a new spear gun. Because the gun was used, we also made sure we had replacement parts just in case something broke. As luck or “genetics” would have it, the first day I was ready to use the gun the rubber bands that propel the “spear” in spear gun, snapped. OK, we had spares so nothing unexpected, just replace the rubber band and move forward. If you are aware of Murphy’s law, “anything that can go wrong, will”; you would know that the spare rubber band we had had the wrong ends on it and we were unable to screw it into the gun. For those familiar with spear guns, many don’t require the screw in rubber bands, but since quality to us is sometimes more important than function and ease of maintenance, we got the fancy gun with parts availability nearly non-existent.

So for weeks we have been without a gun to shoot fish making Lisa a bit cranky at times. I have spent hours laboring over the replacement part and when we finally found a company that sold them we were very specific about the size of the bands and the end fitting, heck I even used calipers to measure the fitting. We ordered the bands and had Patty bring them with her along with the parts for the engine. We all know the engine now works as does the generator, but of course the easiest fix (spear gun) had the wrong replacement parts for second time.

I spent most of Friday and today (Monday) on the phone trying to return the parts and get a replacement set of bands. We will have Josh send the package from the US so I don’t expect to see the bands for months, perhaps more. To fix that problem I thought I should order a single set of bands from another company and have them sent to another friend that is coming down here next week, simple right? No. Because we will not see the original replacement, return, replacement set for months I am having them shipped to my mom’s house. Also since my moms address was on my mind when we ordered the new, hurry up and get them to us soon set, I made and internet boo boo and had that set sent to my moms house as well. My mom is not coming to Mexico next week or perhaps ever.

As luck would have it the company I miss-ordered from had a customer service email address and I have sent a letter explaining my needs and hope that by tomorrow they will respond. Being mostly an impatient man, I also called the company, trouble! There is a commercial that use to play on TV about a year ago. It involved UPS I believe, but the kicker was that a person called customer service and a Russian Man at some remote North Pole station answered and said, “Customer service, this is Peggy, may I help you”. I am pretty sure I got that same North Pole station on the phone today. It worries me when a US company does not understand English, so ultimately I got no where with Customer service and now worry about my credit card, bank account and email address being stolen. I am hoping tomorrow we will here good news from them via email. Of course we have now had to upgrade any shipping service so lord only knows how much these things are costing. I should just learn to buy fish from the market like the rest of the gringos.

Rambling: 26 April, 2012

Today we woke up to a beautiful overcast day here in Baja. Funny you come down to Mexico for clear water, clear blue skies and days filled with sunshine but after a couple of weeks of 90 degree sunny days with no wind an overcast morning becomes a “picture perfect” day.

We had a fun experience in San Juanico 2 weeks ago which we never had a time to put up on the site. My friend Sergio reminded me yesterday that it was great example of the can do attitude of the Mexican or Baja people when faced with adverse conditions or when Papa just doesn’t want to have to wash his truck.

Lisa and I were motoring along in the dinghy making our way to the shore for a walk when we noticed this particular family on the beach working on their boat trailer. We are always pleased when we see how close families are in Mexico, so seeing 10 or 11 people all “working” on a boat trailer really wasn’t that odd. At some time during the trip we noticed that family was actually going to pull their boat from the water. I asked Lisa for the video camera but she was a bit late so we have no pictures but you probably can use your imagination. The family had an old low profile 21 foot jet boat; the type you would have seen back in the 80’s and 90’s with large exhaust pipes sticking out the back but this one had its large V8 engine pulled and replaced by a 90 horsepower outboard. They had a nice 4 X 4 truck which seemed appropriate for pulling the boat from the water on the sand and gravel beach. Because this was a typical Mexican family, Mom, Dad, 2 Tia’s, 2 Tio’s, 4 nina’s and a couple of nino’s they decided to not use the truck and instead all 11 of them grabbed a portion of the boat trailer and manually backed it into the water to retrieve the boat. The Papa of course stood by with his Tecate firmly in hand and instructed everyone when to pull or push and after a bit of struggling they finally loaded the boat and the entire family pulled the trailer back out of the water with the “customized Jet boat” firmly attached.

After they rested a bit, Papa opened another Tecate and had them connect the trailer back up to the truck at which time everyone jumped in (6 in the cab, 5 in the bed) and they roar off down the beach and back up to the highway. Nice.

Yesterday we got the good news that our washers were in Tijuana. The original expectation was that they would make their way to the Mexican side and end up in Guadalajara or even Mexico City. We are told that either Guad or Mexico City would be like having your parts kidnapped as the delays can be huge. With the news we were elated and so returned to the boat for a couple of afternoon refreshments. We spent the better part of the afternoon reading and enjoying the day. As six o’clock rolled around we took the dog for a walk and figured we should check the progress of the washers. Too our surprise UPS had stopped the package in Tijuana sighting a bad or incomplete address. We made the call into UPS and believe we have sorted out the issue. The only trouble was we had to endure a lecture from UPS about being very careful about placing the exact address on the UPS label when sending packages to Mexico. What she failed to realize was that UPS only has about 4 available lines for an address and the Baja address we have needed 6 lines. Beings that everything is computerized and bar-coded on UPS packages I think the computer could only route the package so far. The remaining 2 lines of address were added in pen by DFIS.

Another day of waiting, April 16, 2012

So we are taking a little time out in Loreto BCS. It is not so much that we are tired of sailing but we needed a bigger city to get some shopping done and to hopefully seal up the diesel leaks that have been plaguing us for a month. Apparently finding 5/8” copper washers is still a problem in a city of 10,000 plus people as we had to send to La Paz to get them. We are hoping that by the time I complete this blog the bus will arrive with the parts.

On the good side we are now stocked up with groceries, Lisa has had her hair pampered in a fancy Loreto salon, the dog is happy, and the water heater is fixed (not replaced). We had thought the water heater was going to be an issue, but when we dug into it a bit we found the heating element had actually corroded away and we just needed to locate a new one. Funny you can’t find a dang copper washer in Loreto, but locating a heating element for our marine water heater only took one stop and $25, go figure.

The town of Loreto really has a nice vibe. I don’t relax well, but while Lisa was getting her hair done I did have a chance to settle down at the plaza with a cerveza or maybe 2. I was actually able to sit for nearly an hour without being bored or over analyzing the problems we have on the boat.

We should be kicking out of here in the next day or so. We plan to travel to the southeastern side of Carmen Island were we spent a couple of hours last week hiding from weather. There is a small cove called Caleta Cobre, or Copper Cove that we want to explore. Lisa is anxious to hook another fish and I haven’t killed anything for almost 2 weeks now. While we were in San Juanico I had a chance to shoot a couple of very large Cabrilla’s but for some unknown reason the bands on my speargun and pole spear broke before I could get a shot off. We have ordered up new bands for the gun (the replacements we carried with us from the states were the wrong size), and as always have paid a premium to get the shipment forwarded to the correct address so the package can be delivered to us in 2 weeks. Anyway the pole spear is fixed so the underwater world needs to do a little “heads up” as I am coming with a vengeance.

That’s it for now from Loreto.

Tsunami Warning: April 7, 2012

It’s 4:30 in the afternoon on Saturday. I am enjoying a new Ken Follett book (to me) in a semi-quiet anchorage, 75 or so degrees and 15 knots of wind with the anchor set hard. A crackle comes on the radio and 2 minutes later Lisa is saying a boat that was at anchor with us “Might” have heard that there is a Tsunami warning, anything to break up a relaxing afternoon.
We have been out now for about 2 weeks. Things continue to break at regular intervals but really the radar is the only real outstanding issue. I can’t remember the last time I wrote but I believe it was at Punta Chivato. Kind of funny that I won’t know until we get to some town again with internet since we never save anything on the computer as it is old and the hard drive is almost full.
We had a “Fabulous” time in Bahia Conception. On our first day we almost bought a Palapa on the beach. It took 2 days before we actually checked the thing out, and at that time some dude had drown after going into the water without waiting the 30 minutes required post meals. Sorry that is a tough sentence but I believe if you read it twice it works. Anyway, the dead guy was recovered, placed into the back of a pickup and when we looked out the front window of what we hoped would be our future home, there he and his pickup where in our front yard, or beach.
We met Mo and Pat on the first day and even though they don’t sail, beer with a tequila shooter was the “conversational” drink they offered when we showed some interest in being their neighbors. Of course one drink lead to the bar and the next morning lead to another visit, an invitation on board Beyond Reason, Rum, wine, Bongos and Cigars, the rest is history, and what happens in Bahia Conception, stays in Bahia Conception.
We left Conception after a week and a short trip to Mulege where we stocked up on veggies, fruits and meat that you can’t kill using a spear without the neighbors calling the cops. Had a great sail down the coast to a little place called Punta Pulpito which now makes our sailing vs motoring about 75%. As usual it required a bit of engine upset to force the sails to go up, but once we turned off the engine everything settled down, the dog relaxed and the experience improved. The engine fix was familiar and after 15 minutes the alternator was tightened up and working nicely again. We arrived in Pulpito just at sundown, so it was quite the successful sail. Along the way we saw the requisite dolphins and turtles but the whale shark was quite a surprise.
We are not real marine biologists, but my kids know I play an amateur one at home all the time. Lisa has video of the whale shark encounter and once we get it produced we will put it on Youtube, until then you will have to believe what we saw.
Prior to the engine forcing us to sail, we saw a large rounded fin followed by about 2 feet of pointed fin sweeping from side to side. Lisa and I both recognized that it was not a dolphin or even the dreaded pilot whale so we divert course to investigate. It wasn’t long before I recognized the profile of a 15 foot whale shark, but what perplexed us was the 5 small wakes it was making near its front section. We did a slow flyby to not disturb the animal and noticed that just above the feeding maw of the shark were 5 smaller, baby whale sharks. You can do an investigation, but what we observed was that whale sharks must have live young (not unknown with sharks), but then they must protect them for some time. The young sharks where perhaps 1 – 2 feet long, and swimming directly above the mouth of the “mother” shark. It was perhaps the greatest animal encounter we have ever seen.
We didn’t dally much as we did not want to disturb the mother too much so we moved on, then the alternator broke.
Anyway, we sailed from Pulpito to San Juanico today. The wind is still close to 20 knots in the anchorage but we are well anchored. I have contacted a couple of Ham Radio stations regarding the Tsunami and I believe we are in the clear. Life is good, Lisa has handmade pizza dough and the oven is screaming “open me now”, but the timer is saying to wait another 5 minutes. Perfect timing to make another rum and coke.

Chivato, 28 March, 2012

Well, we have had a lot stuff going on over the last number of days. We left port about a week ago and have been at anchor ever since. While we are unable to update the website we have had contact with our family via Ham Radio. 2 days ago we crossed from the coast of Mexico to the coast of Baja California. We departed around 5 AM after a very rolly night in San Pedro cove. We had spent a couple of pleasant nights in San Pedro and did a bit of snorkeling a couple of miles north of the cove. The water temps were a bit cold for my liking so we gathered a couple of scallops and then bought some 5” Blanca Clams from the local Pangarero’s (fishermen).

Our crossing was done in mostly 18 knot winds with 4 foot seas all out of the west. We sailed the entire way across so savings on fuel was pretty good and our speed was much faster than what we could have achieved if we had motored. Actually we were a bit surprised as we maintained better than 6 knots of boat speed across the sea. It was only as we rounded Punta Chivato that we lost most of the wind and the final 7 miles took us a bit over 2 hours to complete. We dropped anchor just as the sun set. Total sailing distance was about 79 miles.

During the crossing we did see a very large pod of Pilot whales. If you know my history with whales I do like to look at them from a distance but when sailing I would just as soon harpoon the dang things than look at them. Pilot whales are of course the most aggressive of all whales, or at least the stories of whales attacking boats that I have heard all include Pilot whales. Lisa enjoyed them while I cursed their battleship grey bodies. We also checked off turtle sightings from the punch board. We really need a book to help identify some of these animals as I have know idea what type turtles they were so for now we will just call them sea turtles.

As the sun was setting on the bay here we watched a pod of dolphins chasing bait fish around the water, if was a good ending to a nice day of sailing.

First anchorage in a while, 24 March, 2012

28’03 N: 111’ 14 W, 24 March, 2012

Well, we finally made it off the dock. We had a very pleasant mile ride up the coast. Yes it is only 14 miles, but it was 14 miles of listening to the engine purr. We did check it every 10 minutes, but she just kept on doing what she was made for. The beach here is wonderful, crescent shaped and backed by huge mountains and rugged desert terrain that is dotted with palm trees and cactus.

After walking the beach we did some minor chores around the boat. I guess that is really one of the best parts, we were not NEEDING to do anything, we actual choose to do stuff instead. Tomorrow after noon will bring one of the last real issues we need to tackle which is re-stringing the spinnaker line. We haven’t had a chance to get to that because of the broken windlass, but now we have the time and ability, plus an added benefit is if I fall there is a fifty fifty chance I will hit the water instead of the dock. Lisa always tells me to look on the bright side of life.

We have some exploring to do in the morning but for now it is nice to sit back in the lounge chairs on the forward deck and watch the sun set with a cool cocktail and ice.

SNAFU, 22,  March, 2012

OK, so this is the Dudes view of things.  We started today by pulling anchor, you saw the cost of the windlass.   Anchor up, no problem.  Set sail (motor) for the gin clear water of San Pedro cove, nice, good coffee, engine running, charger charging, wife happy, dog pooped, life it good.

 

7 miles and 1.5 hours later (yes, we are taking it easy), oil pressure drops to 30 psi, bilge is full of oil, WTF, seems like the oil pan has sprung a leak again.

 

Of course that is not likely, we felt the oil pan and everything feels good.   Lisa took the initiative to kill the engine, so as we are are slowing drifting to the rock I take to the bilge and wallow through the gallon of oil that resides there to discover that the oil filter which earlier had been an issue is leaking all but 2 quarts of oil out of our engine…Dang, SNAFU as usual.

 

You would thing, oil filter, that’s a Jiffy Lube issue that only costs $15, wrong.  We have a very special oil filter and arrangement for it.  I have changed the filter perhaps 20 times since we bought the boat but each time it seems it is the first.   I dove into the project telling Lisa, it would only take a minute but ultimately it took 30 plus.   After I got the filter set, I checked for any other leak and of course found more diesel leaks, “no problem most likely just a loose screw so I told her to fire up the engine”, SNAFU, oil is oozing out of the filter now.  Stop engine, continue to drift toward rocks…SNAFU.

 

In a matter of 15 minute we were so close to putting the boat on the rocks that Lisa made the decision (I wasn’t on watch mind you) to put up sails and try to save the crew and dog.   “Nice choice Lisa”.   Actually it was an excellent decision to allow me another 4000 minute to get my act together and finally fix the filter correctly…My god couldn’t we just have a screw on filter everyone else.

 

In the end we decided to abort out trip and put into Marina Real, about 3 miles from were we started.  The engine had quit draining it’s oil into the bilge (think Exxon Valdez but the diesel continues to slowly leak so we thought what the heck we need more oil, let’s call Hansell and get him to fix the diesel leak as well.

 

One hour after arriving, Hansel arrive and while he fixed the diesel, I did an overhaul on the Nissan 3.5 hp outboard that has been sitting on the afterdeck for 3 years.  Both Hansell and I finished about the same time.  Cost for repair of the diesel leaks $0.00 and cost for repair of the outboard motor (Nissan 3.5) $0.00.   Tomorrow we will try again, but for now, SNAFU….Close your ears, Situation Normal, All “F’d” up.

 

 

System status and the cost to start a new chapter: 18 March, 2012

Here is a quick rundown of the status of all the major systems I can think of upon our return 3 years after leaving the boat. Prior to leaving the boat in the dry storage all systems worked except as noted.

Interior wood- There has been some drying effects on the wood. For the most part it is how we left it (Very Good and Clean), but I notice now that we have a couple of interior joinery that has released bonds that I thought had been connected when we left. You wouldn’t know unless you really looked.
Exterior wood- We left the boat covered about 6 months out of the year. The remainder of the time the wind and sun had either torn or deteriorated the tarps until we returned the next year. With the exception of the cockpit which was mostly uncovered, all the varnish has held up well and will just require it yearly sanding and another coat or two of Bristol Finish to bring it back to where we left it. The cockpit has some major chipping and flaking so we will do a complete strip and re-varnish. Cost approx $150.00

 

Decking- The decking looks very good with the exception of one area where the teak appears to be lifting or rotting. We have the wood to repair if necessary. Sure would have been nice if it had rained salt water on the deck each week.

 

Stainless and rigging- No trouble here at all, we had pulled all the lines prior to leaving and covered all the winches with aluminum foil. Nothing needs to be worked.

 

Windlass- This was a major repair for us. We left the windlass in good condition but on return it required new brushes, bushings and a good cleaning of all other contact areas. This was a $400 repair plus the cost of replacement parts which we did not have spares for. Total cost about $600.00

 

Anchor and Chain- We did not have a chance to wash the anchor and chain prior to departing, but no rush has been noticed so everything is good.

 

Lights and antennas- All good and working. Because of the hurricane the Ham radio antenna stand-offs are gone and we just need to re-attach them.

 

Engine- The oil pan rusted through and required lifting the engine. One engine mount which was on its way out prior was mostly useless on return, injectors needed cleaning but they probably needed it prior to leaving. Cost of pan and mounts plus installation help – $800.00

 

Generator- The generator had issues prior to leaving but during the course of storage we repaired it with new rings. On return the fuel pump, fuel control and water pump all stopped working. Cost of repair – $600 in parts, $40 in labor, oh yeah and the cost of Aduana (Mexican customs) $150. Total cost $790.00

 

Water Maker – worked fine when we left. Functions now but a bit slower and will require an acid bath. Cost to repair $0
Toilet- All the seals had dried out despite our use of vegetable oil which we were told would preserve them. Cost of fix, $150 for parts, and $100 to ship via FedEx. Total $250

 

Refrigerator – No troubles. We added a new refrigerator anyway because of the power usage of the old 110v. Cost $2000.00

 

Radio- All radios functioned fine. We replace the old ham radio with a new one for better reception and email capability. Cost $1000.00

 

Bilge pumps- The two primary bilge pumps had no issue even though one had been immersed in diesel (from a serious leak due to expansion and a hose that was left open) for almost 1 year. The “last resort” bilge pump in the cockpit required a complete overhaul with on board parts. Cost $0.00

 

Salt water wash down and galley pump. The galley pump required resuscitation because the leather seals had dried out. We boiled the seal in oil (or rather put the seals in oil about 200 degrees) to swell it. Worked. The salt water wash down pump had a stuck valve. After working through the system we found the internal valve, worked it and put the pump back into service. Cost $0.00

 

Batteries- The batteries when we left were only a year or two old. We replaced them so we didn’t have to replace them next year either in Mexico or Panama. I know we saved money but the cost was approx $1000.00 plus nursing my back for 2 weeks.

 

Valves for water discharge- There are 11 valves that let water either in or out of the boat. All had to be worked but nothing unexpected. No cost

 

Bottom paint- The bottom paint still looked good so we added a single coat of ablative paint to refresh it and called it a day. Cost $150 per gallon. We squeezed by with 2 gallons put on extremely light and accurately. Total $300

 

Yard bill – this should have been cheap since we really were ready to drop the boat in the water after the second day but our draft required us to stay another 17 days to wait on the tide. Cost – $500.00 to include launching.

 

Marina stay- This is why we don’t usually stay in marinas while cruising but l think it was a good decision, we never could have gotten everything done so soon if we had been at anchor – $500.00

 

Cost of lodging and transportation to Mexico – $250 plus visas. Total $300

So the jury is still out on if it was better to keep the boat in the dry yard or the water. I think the cost of the marina stay ($300 per month more) and the bottom paint plus having someone come to the boat to run systems every couple of weeks would have far exceeded anything that we have spent so far. Moving the boat home and re-tracing our steps back down here would have been terribly expensive. If we were to do it again I would not exceed 1 year in the yard. The boat just deteriorates too much by under use. It might be better to put her into a charter deal with a local company.

 

Total cost to bring the boat back to life – $8190.00 that would have been quite a nice vacation or two. I haven’t even tallied up the cost of the repair parts Lisa is bringing back from the states which we MIGHT need.

All in all I think we are where we expected to be. We actually thought we would have some other big ticket items requiring repair or replacement so as long as those don’t manifest themselves we should be fine. We just didn’t expect to see this many incidental costs.

Parental guidance required: 16 March 2012

So I had just written an update to post about an hour ago.. Now that I have 5oz of vodka and a splash of vermouth in my belly I have reconsidered sending a diary of all the work we have done this week.

My new thought is “forget about it, nobody really cares”. Let just close it down and say we have worked our bottoms off this week with travel to the States for Visas and many many repairs to systems that should have worked but didn’t.

Tonight I want to leave you with my supper choice. OK perhaps a bit “guy”(use the Canadian pronunciation) but what the heck, as Tosh-O say, Suck it, dude.

There are bad days and then there are ways to make things better. Today I ran into the local “fish monger”. He comes by each Friday with mostly out of date fish and prawns, but we avoid those as they are usually over priced and un-negotiable. Scallops are not the food of choice for most cruisers so “negotiating” the price is a little easier, acting stupid is more easy (I know, but English is not my first language, American is).

So I checked the scallops and of course they were $7.50 a pound, or $150 peso’s: Not for this cow poke though. Lisa sometimes think I am cheap, but I will pay $70 dollars to ship $22 worth of caulk overnight when I need it, but $7.50 a pound for scallops that nobody wants, not me. At the current rate I paid $5 US with 4 limes thrown in to help my after dinner Margarita out. Now, if I was a dating man I think the following recipe would be a wonderful entry into the world of keeping a girl coming back. Yes it is a bit chauvinistic, but the key to woman’s heart really is her stomach. After all when you fatten them up there is no where else they can go, right? I know, a bit much today but remember the dry martini at the top of the page.

So a guy’s dinner looks like this. Scallops with what else (think guy, not the Canadian pronunciation), Scalloped potatoes. Doesn’t sound fancy, but I was willing to date myself again after dinner. Here is how you make it.

1 large Potato per person
1 Pasilla pepper
Salt
6 large Scallops per person, if they are small, triple and expect a big hug after dinner
1/8 cup vegetable oil
¼ cup of sour cream or Mexican Creama
¼ cup olive oil
1 cluster of garlic.

Slice potatoes super thin and toss in a heated pan with the Vegetable oil.
Crush the garlic while the potatoes start to get some color.
Slice the Pasilla, and add as soon as you finish (4 minutes after adding potatoes)
When the potatoes have color, or turn translucent (I know one is with color and the other is clear, get over it) add the sour cream, garlic and olive oil.
Allow approx 5 minutes for things to adjust, stir as necessary.
Add Scallops and stir them in.

The large scallops may take 3 to 5 minutes, the small (dime size) will cook much quicker so you should have opened the wine earlier.
Open wine. I know red with meat, white with fish, relax, go red so you don’t have a head ache in the morning when you are fixing Omelets.

Enjoy…Oh, the Salt. Go Kosher or Sea Salt, about a pinch just after the Scallops are added. Coarse salt will make you an instant Gourmet; don’t tell anyone I said so.

The meal should not be served in bright light unless you have some parmesiano, but then you’re not “guy” (Canadian pronunciation) so you probably don’t have any…I do..Woot!

Back to square one: 5 March, 2012

The engine is running and the generator started today after installing the new fuel pump. The start on the generator was almost as exciting as the start on the main engine. When we departed 3 years ago we have plugged up as many holes in the boat as we could find. The reason for plugging them was to prevent unwanted vermin from entering the boat while we were away. It became very apparent that we failed to close up the exhaust port for the generator. When we started it for the first time a swarm of insect wings and body parts came flying out. Unfortunately there was not much water flowing so we pulled the water pumps and quickly located the issue, 2 impellors had cracked and broken.

Hansell, who is still working off his original $40 estimate to get the engine running quickly pulled the pumps out and we replaced the impellers. When the generator was reassembled we discovered no leaks which just amazes me. Murphy’s law regarding anything that can go wrong will is a big part of my mechanical forte’. Hansell has now replaced probably 20 fuel, water and coolant lines and not once has he had to rework any of them. I on the other hand would still be tracing leaks if I had done the same work.

So the generator has started and water is moving through the exhaust system like it should. We feel we have started again or moved to square one. We still have some lingering issues but to tell the truth we could pull away from the dock today and start moving south. Of course we won’t as we have paid up till the 20th of March so we will stay tied to the dock and enjoy the freedom of unlimited power until we have to leave. The other issue with cutting the dock lines for those of you who are pushing for us to leave is we only get “in-store credit for any remaining days. Since we don’t plan to come back to San Carlos those credits would do us no good.

After Hansell left we wanted to take the generator through some stress tests to make sure that everything was going to stay working. We have done the same thing with the main by running each day for 30 minutes to an hour while in gear. Within a couple of minutes the generator automatically shut down. The onboard panel showed this to be an overheat issue to our next projects will be to diagnose the generator over heating issue. I am hoping for an easy fix but something tells me the heat exchanger (or radiator) will need to be serviced. It is probably good insurance to just do the work regardless of the issue since we have the time.

Assuming everything works out with the generator we will be building some supports for the new refrigerator tomorrow and hopefully glassing them into the hull by afternoon.

The radiator leak on the main has been fixed now ($6) so we will most likely have the injectors worked on Wednesday morning. I don’t know if they really need the work but since we are feeling rich this week we will have the work done anyway.

Lisa eludes to things feeling more normal now, and I have to agree that the more things work the more it feels like our boat, hell I even shined up some of the stainless steel yesterday and today I leaned against the stanchions with pride drinking my coffee and looking disdainfully towards the other boats next to us; it is nice to have the prettiest lady on the dock, again: Yes Lisa that was directed to you if you read my blog, if not I mean the boat.

Enjoying every minute: 3 March, 2012

We are reaching our anniversary day of 1 month out of work. For the most part things are moving along as we had hoped. We had the delay in the dry storage and both the generator and the engine had troubles that we only expected to be half as large. We tested the primary engine yesterday and found most everything to be OK after the re-installation of the oil pan and engine mounts. There are no more oil leaks and the alignment of the propeller shaft went by the numbers and appears better than it has ever been. We are finding a few more leaks but are addressing those as we go along. Two diesel leaks were found and repaired and only the radiator cap is leaking now so we will take care of that tomorrow.

As a former Logistics superintendent/warehouse manager/forklift driver, you would have thought that I had a clue to the cost of shipping parts to Mexico. Boy did we learn a lesson yesterday. As a previous shipper of goods all I can say is God bless those in Mexico that are willing to pay for American goods. We imported 2 pounds of machinery parts yesterday. The real cost of goods to us was about $500. The cost of goods to the shipper was probably on the high side of $100 to manufacture. We added $100 to the cost of the goods by using UPS 2nd day service (that’s $50 per pound). Would have been nice to of created a UPS account prior to moving the goods. Aduana, the Mexican customs agency then added another $210 to the cost for importing the product into Mexico. If they had a local supplier I would have been happy to buy local, but Entec is manufactured in the USA and the base engine is German, pppttt.

So now we know that in order to move goods legally through Mexico from the US, you better have some additional cash. When the delivery came we were actually excited since we had never had a driver (UPS) come down to the dock to do deliveries before but of course he was there to collect the $2100 in pesos. Since we didn’t have the cash on hand he went to the Marina office to see if they would front the money for us. I quickly realized that if they did not front the money we might lose the parts forever and the chance that Entec would refund the $500.00 for the parts was slim so I put Lisa in the truck and she sped off after the man in brown.

When she caught up with the delivery boy he was exiting the marina office with our package. I didn’t see it but there was word on the docks that Lisa virtually tackled the brown man to get our goods. Between her and a couple of office chicks they came up with the money to satisfy UPS and we now own a new diesel injector, magnetic fuel cut-off and a couple of Teflon washers, I feel proud.

It is funny about the way that ransom works in the marina. There have been a number of occasions when the cost of goods just don’t make since but when you are faced with the possibility of never leaving paradise the price doesn’t ever seem to get so high that we can’t find another child to sell to afford the trip. I kid about selling my children. I swear we have never had more than two, and to the best of my knowledge Lisa knows where both of them live.

So Monday we can install the parts into the generator which should get it roaring to life again, or at least long enough to figure out what is really wrong with it. I don’t think I mentioned but the actual problem we had expected had to due with oil loss, not with diesel fuel, so whether we have solved anything yet is still up the air. It is 75 degrees the sun and shining and all we can say is “isn’t this great”.

P.S. I had a warm shower today, but the water stopped midway through my body wash, Viva Mexico!!

Oil: 26 Feb, 2012

It is early morning on Sunday, Feb 26. I am drinking the last of yesterday mornings coffee. Lisa is warm and cozy sleeping in with Sparky next to her. She won’t rise till the new pot is put on I am sure.

We have had plenty of time to write but unfortunately have not been in the mood since we were waiting on our mechanic to do some major engine work As usual it is work that Lisa and I could have done ourselves if we were in some super remote part of the world, but lifting engines and labeling one hundred motor parts as we pull them off to get access to the oil pan just didn’t seem like a lot of fun.

Hansell, our mechanic came to our rescue yesterday after taking a day off on Friday. He brought his brother with him, and 8 hours after arriving succeeded in lifting the engine and pulling out the pan. In his usual fashion, at the end of every mechanical session, Hansell said, “I need money”. Lisa and I both laugh each time because he has a shy way of asking for money that is absolutely no nonsense. Sometimes it is a lot of cash and other times just a few peso’s but either way you know nothing else is going to happen until some sheckles pass hands.

For years we have had a small water leak at the top of the engine. It was never really something that we saw, but each week we would clean up a bit of rust from the top of the engine although we never really saw a drop of water. Anyway this has come back to haunt us twice now. The trail of rust leads from the top of the engine, over the mounting bolts to the engine starter. Last year we had to deal with removing a rusted starter bolt which took nearly a day to extract. The trail then leads down one side of the oil pan, directly over a bolt which was the major difficulty this time. Once the pan was off you could see that the trickle of salt water left a definite area of diseased metal on the pan. That will now be cut out and welded. We hope to have the pan back by the end of the week.

Additional to our prime engine troubles has been the generator. This was a known issue when we came down, so not really a big disappointment but certainly an introduction into securing parts in foreign countries. We think we have everything ordered now, but until we can get fuel into the injectors, we won’t know what other troubles the generator has. Of course without a generator there is no hair dryer, refrigerator or excess use of radios and laptops, so it will get fixed.

We’ve had good times exploring the little anchorages that are within a dinghy ride from the slip, but are anxious to get out of the marina. We are hoping to depart before my birthday in March. It seems such a long way away, but honestly we expected 30 days of marina life, and as much as we don’t like staying tied to the dock, it is a nice way to get re-introduced to life aboard.

Mostly good stuff: 21 Feb, 2012

Yesterday was mostly excellent. The boat was dipped into the water, the engine started with a blast of smoke on the second try, the transmission functioned mostly like we remember it and we successfully docked, twice.
In all the excitement and anxiety over getting the engine running we overlooked a couple of items. It is always the simple things that you forget which can give you the utter feeling of despair and make sleeping difficult on the boat.
Not long after we had docked for the second time; the first being at much larger dock which had electrical fitting more proper for a small aircraft carrier than our puny little barge, Lisa excitedly asked me if the toilet should be filled with water. Of course there should be water in the bowl, but you have to understand that Lisa will at times understate what she is actually seeing so that I don’t move too quickly into action with hacksaws, duct tape and fire extinguishers. On inspection the bowl was just short of filling the boat with water, so there was a problem. Previously we had worked on the toilet while in the dry storage yard. Of course the chances of flooding in a desert parking lot are slim so everything appeared normal. Today the first order of the day was to tear into the toilet again to discover the new issue.
We unfortunately have two issues with the toilet, first is water that is suppose to come into the boat and stop until asked to do the flushing is coming in regardless of what we need. There is a valve to make that stop, so don’t panic, we are not bailing the boat 24/7. Second is the water that is suppose to go out to the holding tank, is kind of seeping back into the bowl. I say kind of since it is only about 2 quarts of water that can return to the bowl, but just the same, it is unwanted. Again there is a valve for this as well. The valves are definitely an inconvenience since you have to go to two separate areas to either open them (go tinkle) or close them (all done tinkling). New parts are on the way. Cost of parts about $10. Cost to get them down to Mexico, probably $40 but we have not seen the bill yet.
With the toilet all sealed up, we moved on to two salt water pumps that are not working. Seems a pity we have salt water that we don’t want coming into the boat, but the salt water that we do want can’t get in, yet. We have a replacement for the first pump which supplies salt water to the deck for wash down and teak preservation. The second pump is for the kitchen to help clean the sink and other assorted tasks. This pump has a non-removable leather seal that we are trying to restore in oil. 12 hours has done little for it, but we will see how it goes.
This morning dawned fresh for me at about 4 AM. I don’t sleep well when we have issues on board, and the last issue to pop up yesterday was a diesel leak. The apparent source of the leak is a fuel return line which is shared by the generator and the main engine. It appears that although the main engine was purring along just fine, the shared line was pumping diesel into the generator which ultimately filled up and spilled the remainder on the floor. Again, minor inconvenience but now we have to trace why the fuel is not returning to its proper tank. I am fairly sure this is a simple fix, but the tracing could take an hour or more.
So all in all the past 24 hours have been kind of a push. One big win and several small losses that we have to work on. My mechanical dance card is filling up quick.

A better tomorrow: Feb 15, 2012

At 8:45 Tuesday morning Hansell and his electrical magician showed up. 20 minutes later we heard the engine turn over for the first time in 3 years. The stars are aligning.

Lisa celebrated by doing a beach cleanup with some of the other locals in the area and I celebrated by changing the engine oil, adjusting the fluid in the transmission, and replacing or re-installing all the wires that I had previously undone or pulled out thinking they were the problem for the engine not cranking. By noon I was beat, and my back was asking for forgiveness. Lisa had just come home (imagine, a morning of fresh brewed coffee, a walk on the beach and then pop back in just as the heavy lifting is completed), but boasted a couple of free margarita tickets, so off we went for drinks, and a bit of celebration regarding the engine movement.

After lunch (hic) we decided to try and purchase some bottom paint so the boat would look and feel good when we put her in the water on Monday. We checked locally then went to Guaymas to confirm the fair pricing of paint in Mexico. Ultimately the clerk in Guaymas gave us a price that we nearly $50 cheaper per gallon than in San Carlos, but we were unable to purchase it since the cost was more than our allotted ATM quota for the day. This prevented us from purchasing the paint till the next day.

Yesterday we went to pick up our allotment of peso’s from the local bank only to find out our account had been blocked and both ATM and Visa cards were useless. The solution to this delima was another trip to the bar (reliable Wifi), purchase a couple of obligatory beers and call the states via Skype to undo the tangle of financial trouble. $4 worth of beer later (for you in Winters that is 4 beers, not 1) we were financial solid again and made the trip to the paint store only to find out the price in Guaymas was now equal to the price the San Carlos; Thanks Visa your security maybe Priceless to you, but just cost me $100.

Today we painted the bottom of the boat, $100 dollar poorer thanks to Visa, but it does look great. Trying to pile on the wins, we checked the bow thruster (kind of an outboard motor for the front of the boat to help us spin quick circles while berthing). This is one of the items that I was concerned with, and when we touched all the right buttons, nothing happened. Oh well, time for a shower and some thought.

On return the bow thruster miraculously worked, so testing our luck we checked the anchor windlass, Bingo!

If I could say Holy Shit here I would. I am sure most of these items will break down the road, but we are living a good life now. For the most part all functions are green and the fish better start seeking shelter and the rum factories better start burning the midnight oil, the crew of Beyond Reason is about to hit the water!.

Another work day: Feb 13, 2012

Yesterday did not start off the brightest. We have been trying to trace a couple of grounding issues with the motor, and the more I traced the worse I felt. In the end I found a single wire that appeared to be shorted or grounded to every piece of equipment on the boat. I don’t take failure well, and this was no exception as there have not been many items on this boat that I have not been able to figure out either on my own or with limited guidance. Lisa popped in at just the right moment to ask if I had “failed”, but trying to stay positive I just responded that I had changed courses and was going to sort through the mess of equipment that still needed to find homes inside the boat (how’s that for using my previous conflict management experience?).
It wasn’t long before we heard a knock on the hull and to my surprise, Hansell, a mechanic that we asked to do a little electrical work three days before showed up. We had actually expected him on Sunday, but I guess Monday morning is a close second. I invited him up and explained the problem as best I could. A short while later he said he was not good with electrical issues, but knew somebody who was. Hansell claimed he would come back in the morning at 9 with his friend to fix the issue. Not sure if the Electrical magician would show in the morning, I just agreed and went about cleaning up. Lisa, the girl of action, went to talk with some of the boaters to find a real electrician.
My yard days are driven by the number of wins I can score each day vs the number of losses so I was still trying to find a win. I set to fixing a small flexible flashlight. 1 hour later, and several tries at doing micro soldering, I had my first success of the day, time for a beer (it was actually time hours ago, but I have to limit myself sometimes).

 

We have several dogs in the yard, that more of less just scrap for food, look lazy and pee on the trailer tires which I guess is just the meaning of life for most hounds anyway. I don’t usually pay much attention to them as they ignore me, and don’t bother Sparky. Today as I was gulping down my hard won beer I did have a bit of an after taste or really just an after sense that something was wrong with the cerveza I had chosen.

 

I was drinking Indio which is not a first choice most days, but it was on sale for about $8 per 12 pack, so how could I resist. Unfortunately each taste of beer was laced with that nagging sense that something was not right with the beer, and $8 or not, it just wasn’t worth drinking the rest of the half rack in the cooler. About the time I took my last taste realized that the sense I was experiencing was the distasteful smell of dog urine. The lazy, half witted hounds had pee’d on the second half of my 12 pack that didn’t make it into the cooler the first night.

 

So much for my win today.

February 11, 2012: Down and out in San Carlos

I could really put a big gripe on the exchanging of batteries on the boat, but I think it is best to just let bygones be bygones in this case. Lisa and I both knew that the batteries would be big job to exchange. On board we have 4 large, 119 pound batteries that keep the lights on at night. Additionally we have a larger car sized battery for the starting of the boat engine.

Under normal conditions changing the batteries would have entailed lifting them out of their cramped quarters and then hobbling them up 6 feet of steps, lifting them an additional 2 feet to get them out of the boat and then rolling them someplace to recycle them. Of course it is just the reverse to put the new ones in. We had hoped to do all this at the dock, and the reward would have been a frosty beer at the end of about and hours worth of work. Bring on the Laddersauras (See the Chick updates for Feb 09, 2012).

There are times when the need to get things done overcomes the need to think things out. I guess that is one of my weaknesses, but often times Lisa comes to my rescue and forces me to do the later. Replacing the batteries was not one of those times, Lisa must have been busy below or just watching and giggling as I began to take battery after battery up the 14 foot ladder. Somewhere along the line she must have felt some compassion or just didn’t want to deal with gathering up a crew of strong men to haul me off to the emergency room so she made the suggestion to perhaps ask one of the forklift drivers to help us, TADA. So at least the batteries coming back out of the boat would get an easy trip. Unfortunately my knees and back already began to give me payback. Hopefully I will be fully recovered by Monday.

February 10, 2012

Thought I would give a little update to what has been happening inside the boat and how everything fared during our hiatus to the states. Lisa has kind of given you a run down on the trip south and of course we had expected the boat to look a bit rough around the edges when we arrived, so seeing the tarps in disarray really didn’t have a big impact on me.

One of the biggest surprises was how well the varnish had held up. Unfortunately I think Bristal Finish has or is going out of business. Sad considering that we have had this last coat on since we departed Santa Rosalia in 2008. Only the cockpit combing varnish has peeled, but the rest looks almost as good as when we first applied it. Another surprise was the teak decks. Keep in mind that we have kept the boat partially covered the entire time with plastic tarps. I say partially because we usually cover the boat in June and by October the big winds come down the sea and by the following June the tarps are mostly “not there”. That leaves the boat uncovered a good portion of the year.

Covering winches, blocks and anything that is odd shaped but would be subject to the suns rays with aluminum foil not only saved us time in wrapping with some other material and tape, but also made for a quick uncovering as well. All the winches still spin freely and the wooden blocks are operating as they did when we left.

The electrical systems all seem to be in order except the starting system which was somewhat suspect when we left. The items that did deteriorate the most were those with LCD screens (multi-meter and some older radio screens). In each case the screens have faded a bit which is strange since they were all out of the sun, but no matter there is really no great cost involved in these items.

Some of the things that did not fair as well were the Aladdin kerosene lanterns which fused there wicks to the brass and needed to be completely overhauled prior to them working again, the Walbro pump for the heater failed and will require $125 to fix and probably the biggest failure was the water heater or Hot water heater as Lisa likes to call it which has rusted through. Of course the failures if you know our plans are really just annoyances to me since Hot water showers and heating the boat are pretty low priority when you are sailing in Mexico with intentions of moving south, so we will place those on the back burner for now and deal with them somewhere along the way. For me I hate to have anything not functional, so while they are on the back burner, they are still cooking in my mind.

I did forget to mention the toilet, which quit pumping. We had originally put vegetable oil in it to prevent the seals and valves from drying out, but ultimately a couple of the valves just curled up and no longer sealed and the oil somehow converted to a sludge that thankfully Lisa found first (finders keepers on the boat), so she set about cleaning it out with a plastic chisel.

After reacquainting myself with the plumbing lines on the boat and removing many of the hoses to check for additional blockages we got the toilet back in working order.

I know this is getting long and drawn out so I will close it for now. We are suppose to have internet in the marina, but that will come manana I guess since it is down now.

Will update as we can.

April 4, 2011

Well it has been a couple of years since I have added to the Dudes View so bear with me as a struggle through.

 

In anticipation of our return to the boat we have began work on our wish list. The list consists of some fairly high dollar items that we could never have afforded while actually cruising. Understanding Lisa’s need to stay in touch with family I have finally made good on my promise to her of getting a radio capable of sending email. Sure there are those Ham’s out there that could get my old GE cassette AM/FM tuner amplifier to connect to the internet via the radio waves but for us it just was not that simple.

 

If you had read in the Beyond Reason Archives our trials of using our Single Sideband Marine Radio for Ham communications (we are licensed), and then trying or rather failing to connect that radio up with 1970’s technology via an update TNC unit you would understand that it was not for trying that we failed. In all things boat and boat related it was money. The technology existed but was just out of reach.

 

In December we put together about a Kilo-buck and bought a new Kenwood TS-480SAT Ham radio. We also set up a dipole antenna across half the backyard so we could test out a new email program developed for ham radio which does not use any other equipment besides the radio and a laptop. If I recall correctly the laptop can even be using pre 2000 operating systems. Anyway, after weeks of connecting up radio’s, grounding spikes, antenna and coaxial cable connections we were able to make contact with people clear across the country. OK, so the radio worked, but then the radio on the boat has always worked. The next process was purchasing two simple items (I know I said there was nothing else to buy, but I fibbed a bit). The first item recommended was a $3 external sound card. Really, $3. The second item was a $50 Donner digital Interface. Don’t ask me what the thing does, but as the end of this story I will say it works.

 

Lisa and I to very careful steps to do everything as the Winmor instructions told us (Oh yeah, the program for HAM email is WINMOR, not Winlink). We got no where. The next step was to join several email groups filled with Elmers (that is Ham speak for “know it alls” or “Ham Geek”, in a good way). The Elmers where all nice and helpful but as usual with anything to do with Beyond Reason we got no where.

 

As a last resort I invited one of our friends over to help out (I hate asking for help unless I absolutely can’t figure something out), lightly disguising it as Dinner. To my surprise he was able to figure out the issue within an hour and even tossed out the $3 sound card opting for the internal card on the laptop.

 

That night we sent out emails and were able to respond to them on Lisa’s email without issue. Unfortunately the wine flowed in celebration and by about 10 PM we decided to “Modify” the new Ham Radio so it would be able to transmit on Single Side Band channels in an emergency (kind of the reverse of what we did on our first radio). We completed the job by 11pm and by 11:10 realized that we had broke the radio. Time for bed.

 

In the morning I got on-line and with QWZ.com (another bulletin board of Elmers and quickly realized through their help that we probably dropped some solder on something and that we were messing with proper Ham protocol by making the modifications. No matter, the radio works.

 

So email now flows out weekly from our radio and we should easily be able to set this up on the boat when we return.

 

Should you decide you want to do the same thing (really I am just looking for a place to put this information so I won’t forget it), here are the instructions.

 

Download the Winmor Primer on the internet

 

Purchase required items (Donner interface is the most important)

 

 

Radio Settings: Kenwood 480 SAT

 

Power set to 100 watts

ALC showing on meter

Use volume meter on Windows computer program to reduce ALC to zero

VOX on

 

On radio Menu

 

Tuner for reception Off

External AT Operation mode AT1

Linear amp off

50 Mhz limit off

Interval playback 10

Sidetone freq 800

Filter for Data comm.” Off

RF Input level for data: 1

RF output level for Data: 1

Com port 9600

VOX operation with Data Input: on

 

 

Winmor Setup

 

Winmor capture device: SigmaTel C-Major audio – 00

Winmor Playback device: SigmaTel C-Major Audio – 00

Virtual TNC host address/name: 127.0.0.1

Virtual TNC Command Port: 8500

Inbound Session Bandwidth (hz) 500

Drive Level: 90

 

Winmor radio Setup

Select Radio Model: Kenwood Amateur

Antenna Selection: Default

USB: Checked

Usb digital: Unchecked

Serial Port to use: none

Serial Port to use: Com5

Baud: 9600

Enable RTS: Checked

Enable DTS: not checked

 

 

Piece of cake, huh.

 

 

A Chicks Version

O’Dark Thirty Does Not start at 1:30 a.m.

Monday, November 18, 2013

1:33 AM

We pulled into San Luis Obispo at 5:00pm. The trip up from Point Conception was pretty uneventful.  We did get a phone call from our friend Linda of SV Aquadisiac. She was on her return road trip from Santa Barbara and wanted to know if we needed anything as she was passing by SLO. It made me feel important to know we have shore crew following us along the coast.  Oh, also of interest is our engine has been reluctant to shut down lately when we push the stop button, so we have to open the engine compartment and push on this little thingy to make it stop. I am getting pretty good at that. Perhaps the engine is developing an attitude.

 

Typically, when we pull in an anchorage at cocktail hour we cocktail. Not this time. We are on a different set of rules. We don’t drink when we are on a passage. I know that may surprise some of you. Safety first.  The plan was to eat, shower and sleep until 3:30 a.m. .Bill ate, showered and went straight to sleep.  I had a hard time with the idea of going to sleep at 6:30 so I stayed up and spent a little time on the internet while we had it.  A short while later I did what I call shelfing myself. Our v-berth (bed up in the front of the boat for those in Winters) is very much like climbing onto a shelf.

 

Some time around 1:00 a.m. Bill, who had been up for a bit, came up and nudged me to say he was going to start the engine (which now makes a car alarm sound INSIDE the boat when starting due to the oil and water alarm we had put in) and I did not need to get up. He had the sail all set and he did not need my help.  ” Rest your pretty little head. I got this”.  Hmmm how cool is that?  Well, not as cool as I had hoped. It seems our engine was still having a bit of an attitude about being shut off. Now it did not want to pre-heat.

 

Normally, we turn the key to the on position (which makes the alarm go off until it is at temperature and oil pressure is up) then push the pre-heat button for 10 seconds and then start the engine.  During this time the alarm is vibrating the hull and my “Pretty little head”.  Well, this morning that was not happening. Bill tried this at least 7 times before he opened the engine, busted out some tools to tighten some wires and tap on the problem child.  Finally, the pre-heat was working and the old engine started. I do believe she is a menopausal old chica; The engine, not me although I can relate. Needless to say I am wide awake now but Bill insists that I go back to bed and “Rest my pretty little head”.

Waiting on Weather Again

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

9:37 AM

 

There really is not much going on around here. I can say I feel much more relaxed at the marina here in Santa Barbara than say San Diego. Perhaps it is because I no longer feel like we are living in a glass house with neighbors peering in our windows all the time. The weather here in Santa Barbara has been quite pleasant.Santa Barbara Hot Rod com  The beach is a short walk away which has Sparky bouncing around like a two year old again.  A welcome sight for sure.

 

 

We missed our weather window to make it around Point Conception by one day. This has us waiting nearly a week here in the marina. Bill tells me it is only about 48 hours to Monterey. Just hearing that small number has me excited to get this last big leg done.  I love the cruising life but not on a schedule. Bill was able to get his start date for work changed to a week later.  Once we make Monterey we can get up to Half Moon Bay in a day and then a day to Alameda. We have a vehicle lined up to use until we can get a car and also a slip in Alameda. Having these things set really takes a lot off my mind.  I am ready to go and it is gorgeous outside. I have a hard time believing it is 40 knots with 15 foot waves just 40 miles from here.

 

 

Santa Barbara Sambos comPerhaps I will take advantage of this beautiful day and head out for a long walk along the waterfront.

 

 

Now that I have finished my walk I can say it was quite pleasant. I discovered one of the last Sambos restaurants in the country and saw a Hot Rod Limo that I think my grandson would like to go for a spin in.   One thing I saw today was really disturbing ;  Christmas decorations at the marina!! It is still a couple weeks before Thanksgiving.  I love to go overboard with Christmas decorations but there are rules here folks. Do not take away from one of the best holidays ever. Santa Barbara Christmas comThanksgiving is not about spending money, but time with family or friends who are like family and enjoying some good food. I recall our first Thanksgiving while cruising. It was in a remote anchorage and we had folks from about six boats come to our boat for dinner. Everyone brought what they could to put together  the best meal we could and actually one of the best meals Bill and I have ever had.  We certainly did not have all the fixings but it was pretty darn good. Some of those who came over to our boat we had never met before we took our dinghy to their boat to invite them over. We are now all family and that is what it is all about.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Not Over Yet!

 

Thursday, November 07, 2013

10:12 AM

Engine clean comWe landed in San Diego a few weeks ago and have since been anticipating employment and made a trip up to San Francisco for Bill to interview and visit family.  For the first couple of weeks we were just hanging out in limbo not knowing where work would move us to. Along with the “limboing” we had also have been anticipating the arrival of the new manifold for the engine. (see Dude’s View for details)

 

Being back does take some adjusting. I had forgotten how many rules we have here. We use our dinghy as our car and forgot that we need to carry lifejackets and have current registration. Fortunately, we have not had a run in with the law yet. Another thing is the abundance of food choices. This can be both good and bad. I can say we have been eating more than our share of fresh produce and have yet to get a tub of ice cream but it will happen soon.

 

Living on the boat in a marina has never been something we like too well.  The marina here on HarborIsland is not a bad place to be but having a huge powerboat with people living aboard next to us has me leaving the shades down most of the time. They have full time people working on the boat and each time I look up someone is looking at me. Our boat feels like a 20 footer at the moment with everything stowed down below for our passage mode.  In the last week I have been on edge feeling the need for some space. 11062013257Walking BalboaPark with my friend Beth was a much needed get away. San Diego has some very nice spots and the weather has been wonderful. The laundry room here at the marina has the same view as the over priced fancy restaurant next to the marina. It looks over the bay to CoronadoIsland with sailboats and military boats moving around. This is framed by lush green lawn and palm trees. In the distance are the glass high rise buildings of downtown that glow at sunset.

 

With all the beauty here it was hard to settle in not knowing if we would stay or move on. The dice have been rolled and they came up with San Francisco as our next destination. Bill’s job is up there so off we will go. It will be nice to be with the kids, our grandson and the two grandsons that will be arriving, one before Christmas and one before Thanksgiving. I am looking forward to spending time with family, friends and getting this boat cleaned and off loading some of the cruising items that take up so much space.

 

The trip north itself is not something I am looking forward to but I am sure once we get going I will settle in an enjoy the ride. Our engine is almost back together and should be running like a well oiled sewing machine.  Well, maybe more like a well oiled diesel. Bill just needs to button up a few things, fill the diesel, grab some groceries and get the laundry done.  Hopefully we will have a chance to say goodbye to our friends Beth and Larry. They are over the top when it comes to being there for you.

 

I am sad that we will no longer be meeting new friends in remote anchorages. We have met so many people. Some of them as far back as 2007. I wish I could explain the tight bond that just happens with cruising friends. They are some of the most caring people around.  They are always there to cheer you up when everything on your boat is falling apart.  The reason is because they know what it feels like, and they are there to share the large fish you killed and drink your last drop of rum.   The reason for this is because they know what it feels like as well.

 

We have lived a portion of our dream and done so before we were too old, sick, or dead. It has been a choice with no regrets. Watching our video and looking at our photos always make me smile.  One of the lessons I have learned from our adventure is to dream big and work hard to make it happen. I am currently working on refining my next big dream and Bill is on the same page with me on the next big dream.

 

For now we will enjoy the journey from San Diego to San Francisco.

Halloween

Thursday, October 31, 2013

I am missing the Halloween tradition of having chili for dinner and kids in cute costumes ringing the door bell in hopes of getting what ever candy I have not yet eaten. Mostly, I miss eating the candy.

Big Jumps Ahead

Monday, October 07, 2013

8:18 AM

We are enjoying our time here in Lisa at the palapa in turtle comTurtle Bay even though the sidewalks have been rolled up. Okay the dusty paths and portions of sidewalks have been rolled up. Turtle Bay is one of the dustiest places we have been but still a very cute little town.  Finding a place to eat dinner in town last night was a challenge.

 

We had planned to enjoy one last big Mexican meal here to include lobster. Finding that meal has been tough but Bill spoke with one of the ladies (Delores) at Maria’s Restaurant on the beach here and made arrangements for them to open just for us, for that special meal. We will update you after the meal to let you know how it was. Bill made these arrangements while he was on shore walking Sparky. Later when Delores saw me walking with Bill she came running out to meet me. She was excited about us coming to dinner and talked about how Maria was going to have her brother go get our lobster and make our meal special. We said goodbye and not one minute later Delores came shouting my name and running after us. She had a bracelet she made and wanted to give it me as a gift. It is made of shells and pearls.  Truly sweet people in this town.  She also let me know she can do laundry and has a machine to wash with. We were actually thinking we needed to find a place to take the laundry so this worked our great for us. Arrangements were made to have it done.

 

Inside palapa comToday we will be busy, taking in our laundry, going to the propane refill station with Antonio, who is opening a restaurant on the beach for the Haha, getting food, oil, changing oil, filling the diesel and enjoying a nice dinner. After dinner we will pull up the dinghy and prepare for our trip up to Isla Cedros and then continue on, if the weather is correct, to San Quintin. From San Quintin we are an over night away from Ensenada. From there it is a day to San Diego.  I am getting excited about getting back in the states but I also know it could take much longer to get there should something else break on the boat or the weather change.

 

We have no real plans once we get back to the “Land of Plenty”.  Our timing to land in San Diego happens to be about the time many of the boats arrive for this years Baja Haha. Hopefully, finding a place for some free anchoring will not be a problem.  A new adventure will then begin. Finding work, a car and figuring out where we will be living.  The adjustment back in into the system should be interesting.  I am excited about the new life but don’t have a clue what it will be.

 

 

Mulligan

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

2:07PM

While I am not a golfer I do love to over use this word. Our venture north has not been what I had expected.  It seems there is one thing after another happening that ends up keeping us here in Mexico.  A friend of mine told me yesterday, ” there is a reason for things to happen causing the delays. We just don’t know what they are”. I have spent many hours pouting and being frustrated by the delays and have finally learned to embrace them.  After trying to figure out what is causing me to be so bothered by the delays I have realized much of it comes from the influence of others pushing us to “GO! GO!GO!

 

My new attitude has me learning to take time to eat the  tacos. (there are not many flowers here in San Carlos) There are some pretty tasty, crispy shrimp tacos here that come served with a generous portion of avocado.  The town here is very small and all the people are really friendly, going out of their way to say hello to you. It is a dusty, sandy town but that is what gives it some of its character.  I do believe we are the only gringos in town. Most of the money made here is from the fishing industry but there is some tourism in the way of whale watching tours but none of that seems to be happening now.

 

In an hour or so our mechanic should be returning with our fixed water pump allowing us to get on our way. The seas are the best we have seen for making this next leg of our trip. It will have us out at sea for a few days and this time without the cell service that allows me go online. We have been prepared to leave at a moments notice for the last few days.  That is another thing I am learning to deal with. Being ready to “Go!” and then being told, “not really”.   As I write this I just received a phone call and the mechanic is here so off the computer I go for yet another Mulligan.

 

Is this really happening???

Sunday, September 08, 2013

6:33 AM

 

I wake up each morning feeling  the need to pinch myself.  This has been going on for a week now as we are making our final preparations to do the Baja Bash. The saying is not “What ever goes down must come up.”  So why are we doing this? Well, money seems to always be the bottom line.  lisa in rental car com  We are not broke and do not need to accept donations to keep our dream alive.  It is just the right time to seek employment before we do run out.  But I am not here to talk money . Money is like politics and religion for me, not things I choose to talk about.

 

We have been busy running around town picking up a little this and that on foot. Then our Bob comfriends sheri comBob and Sherry on Nirvana mentioned going to Todos Santos for a road trip before we leave. After looking into a rental car and realizing how affordable it is we got smart and rented one to do our running around.  The plan was to go to Todos Santos on Saturday and run around on Sunday. With tropical storm Lorena hanging around and depositing rain on us, lots of rain! We switched days. This made for one very wet day. The streets of La Paz looked like rivers. Then again we did have a rental car so we were able to make it through some of these to get where we needed to. While shopping we heard this crazy unusual sound. It was coming from the roof. It took a second for us to realize it was rain. Big rain. “Holy smokes! We left all the hatches open on the boat. Computers were going to fry and who knows what else.” Our hearts sunk. Fortunately we had our cell phone which is not normal for us. I called the marina and they said it was not raining there but they would send someone down to lock up the boat for us. After looking at the parking lot and seeing what was a dry lot when we went inside but now had cars with water up to the bottom of their door, I called the marina back and was assured the boat was closed up.  We went back to the boat and everything looked fine. We just had a little water on our bed.

 

Off we went to enjoy a meal with Bob and Sherry. We took them back to the their marina several miles away and returned home to scramble to put  our groceries away.  It was then that I noticed water on the nav station table. Lots of water and Bill’s computer was sitting in it.  At the moment we are not sure if we will get it to come back to life or not. We dried it off and set it in a warm oven for several hours. This morning Bill tried to turn it on and it came to life. Opened a word program and then it shut itself off and will turn on but then turn off. Our fingers are crossed for no lost data on  the hard drive.

 

That is actually a minor thing to worry about unless my computer goes down. We seem to have so much to do and so little time.  At the moment I need to walk the dog get  a shower and be ready to jump in the car in less than an hour. We will spend the day in Todos Santos. That takes us to Monday which will be the day we check out of the country with the port captain before Bill’s visa expires in six days. The barge needs fuel, dinghy brought up and boat bottom cleaned. I feel some pressure and some stress. Hopefully the fun with our friends will take some of that away. I know that as soon as we untie from the dock all will be well with the world. Our engine has been blessed. Twice!

I gotta run. Yak at ya later.

 

Fighting the Vortex

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

3:50 PM

Over the years we have hear people talk about getting caught in the vortex of the Sea of Cortez. We vowed to never let that happen to us because there is too much to see on this planet.  Some how we sort of did get caught and are having a difficult time escaping the powers that are pulling us.

 

Opi 1 comTwo days ago we were on the beach of our favorite spot on Isla Carmen. We call it OPI 1 aka our own private Idaho.  It was  the last time we would anchor there so we decided to leave our mark. Many of our friends had requested the GPS waypoints  for this prized spot so we left our mark by writing our the letters OPI with stones on the beach above the high tide line.  We had finished and started to photograph it when I looked up and saw our dinghy way out to sea. I yelled “Our dinghy!”  Bill threw his camera at me and started swimming to catch it. The moon was near full and the currents were moving. We are guessing it was close to 500 yards away. With his determination to get the dinghy and not having another way to get back he caught it. At that point I was concerned he would not be able to pull himself up. I just keep sending thoughts of adrenalin to him. He popped up and then it took what seemed life five minutes before he was able to drop the engine down and another two to start it.  I heard him yell at one point which had me concerned. He was so far I could not really see what was going on. Finally he started the engine and came back to the beach to pick up Sparky and me. Bill was ready for dinner and bed when we got back.

 

The next day we went over to Jucaulito for better cell coverage so Bill could call in for a phone interview for employment.  We had one last evening of goodbyes with our friends Diane and Terry on Harmony and the next morning Bill had a great interview.  Today was our break away day. The plan was to pull up anchor after the interview and head for Agua Verde. We decided to make a  stop first at Candaleros to get some wifi internet time with out worry about how many megabytes we are using. This would allow us to post updates and both be online at the same time. We are able to get the wifi from the resort here while we are still on our boat.  On the way here we ran out of fuel in one tank. The plan was to switch tanks before we left but that did not happen.  So, we pulled up more sails and Bill went to work changing filters, switching tanks and having me help with bleeding the fuel. Once we got here and online I noticed a voicemail on our Skype phone. It was yet another request for a phone interview this week. That would mean turning around because we are about to enter the no cell zone for the rest of the week.  We decided to make a call back which gave us voicemail and scheduled for next week.  So, with all this going on and I do believe I did not mention a possible hurricane coming it is hard to get out of the vortex.  We are 5 miles from the hurricane hole at this time but it is not expected to appear, if it does, until late next week.  So, we will press on to Agua Verde tomorrow. Our scuba diving friends will arrive here tomorrow and want to dive with us again too. This vortex is a powerful thing.

 

Once we get around the corner here we should be free of it. Our moods are changing and the stress is building. There are so many things to think about and changes ahead. It will be interesting how this whole thing works out. At this point we have no idea where Bill will be working or we will be living. We just know we need to get to San Diego. A challenge we are excited about and fearful of at the same time. I think it is called living.

I wanna do it again and again and again

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

9:13 AM

I do believe I have found the scuba diving bug. Perhaps it is a bug I caught from Terry and Dawn on Manta. Lisa dive comNo maybe it is more like an addiction. I am now dreaming about diving. The other night I woke up in the night after dreaming about watching my bubbles rise to the surface from the deeps of the sea. In this dream I was controlling my breath to make different patterns of bubbles and was enjoying the sounds they made. What did Terry put in those air tanks?

 

Wide awake in the daylight hours I have been flashing back to the last four dives we did with Terry and Dawn and one that Bill and I did on our own. This addiction would not be a problem if we had our own tanks and a dive compressor onboard.  Unfortunately we don’t.  To try to help fill the rush I get from diving I have been snorkeling each day. We watched a  turtle the other day for about 15 minutes.  It was very cool but  I was wishing I could dive down to his level to watch. Perhaps there is an addiction patch out there for me.

 

Sometimes it surprises me that I enjoy diving so much because it is not easy for me to get started. I have a bit(Terry on Manta would argue that it is more than just a bit)  of an anxiety issue and it usually takes about a quarter of my air to get through it. Once I am over it I am able to relax and enjoy the wonders of the sea. While down there I often wonder if this is what it is like for people who take hallucinogens.  To make you think I am even more mentally unstable I will add that a bit of Attention Deficit Disorder seems to kick in down there too. Sort of like when Sparky finds a butterfly and starts wander off to where ever it flutters to.

 

Unfortunately our diving with tanks here is done until we are able buy some tanks. It is time for us to head down toward La Paz in the next few days but before we go we will be receiving our new underwater video camera to get some nice clips of the fish around here. Terry and Dawn have arranged for it to be flown in on a private plane.  I can’t wait to start playing with that.

 

To allow my ears to dry out for a while we took a little side adventure to go explore some caves along the shore on the south Cave Lisa comend of Isla Carmen. They are not marked in any of the guide books but we had a map drawn on a napkin by a local friend.  Sure enough after we followed the “napkin map” to the “X” the caves were there. Diane and Terry on Harmony came along with us while their boat sat alone waiting for parts for the windless to be brought into Mexico so they can pull up their anchor. It was great to spend a day with them.  We took our boat and towed both of our dinghies. Once we set anchor a couple miles from the caves we headed out in the dinghies.  We brought along my iPod to play some music in the cave but the acoustics just were not as good as some of the other caves we have been in.

The water clarity was excellent so we dropped our dinghy anchor in the cave and tied our dinks together and went for a swim in the cave.  After we returned to Beyond Reason we headed back to Harmony just around the corner from Escondido.

 

We will leave this area in a few days for La Paz.  There is no doubt our moods will change from over stimulated to gloom. Hopefully I am able to manage that as well as I have managed my anxiety.

 

 

Sucking in the last bits of fun from the sea

 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

 

2:46 PM

 

We have made the somber decision to start heading for La Paz in September to prep for the bash. That leaves us with a limited amount of time here in our happy place. We certainly have no regrets about where we have chose to spend our last couple of months of play. We are in the Loreto area and just love it here. 

 

 

The snorkeling and scuba diving are fantastic  around Isla Carmen. We have been fortunate enough to meet a breathtaking couple on the trimaran Manta. Terry and Dawn are a step above scuba diving enthusiasts. terry comSometimes when Terry is talking I feel the need to shove a regulator in his mouth so he can breathe. He can get quite excited when he talks diving.  Dawn is a lovely lady and a tranquil version of Terry when it comes to talking about their passion.

 

We have taken radio check-ins on the nets from them for years and it is a well known fact in the Sea of Cortez that they live to dive.  We ran into them when we were scouting for unmarked anchorages so we stopped by to say hello. That led to an invite to dive with them.  An invite we certainly had no intention of passing up but we did have to wait a month for all our stars to line up.  A few days back we ran into them in Puerto Escondido and made plans to meet with them in the days to follow. 

 

 

Then it happened… we made radio contact and we where both heading to the same spot at the same time.  A spot they knew well. One they told us would be good to meet for a dive. We tried to meet them in this spot a month earlier but weather turned us back.  On our way with good weather we were excited. I was gathering up our dive gear knowing we only had about an hour before we arrived. Then it happened. Engine failure. Well, not really engine failure but a belt failure.  I pulled out a sail to keep us off the reef. Before we could get the motor going again a strong current and wind had turned against us. I made a call to Manta to let them know we were going to have to pull in to the near by anchorage of Puerto Ballandra.  A few minutes later they called back and said they were changing course for Ballandra too.

 

 

This was perfect for us. They wereLisa with starfish com determined to get us in the water with dive tanks strapped on our backs. I have not dove since 2004 when I got certified. I was quite nervous. I feared I would have fear and this would be a problem.  We gathered all our gear with the exception of dive tanks because we don’t have any. That is another story. Terry and Dawn not only have extra tanks but a compressor on board as well.  Bill and I picked up a couple tanks and took our gear to the beach to get our weights set right and hooked everything up.  It turns out I had a bit too much weight. I am not sure if Bill did that to get rid of me or if it was just a simple mistake.

 

 

With a severe case of anxiety I plopped myself in the water and everything was working. We went down to the 50 foot ranges and everything seemed to be going well even though my weights were a little heavy and I kept bumping the bottom. I used a lot of air trying to get my BC (Buoyancy compensator or floaty thing for those in Winters) where I wanted.  This did get me thinking again and helped me remember some of what I was taught in my scuba class. We found some scallops down there and fed them to the Panamic Green Morays. That was fun to watch from several feet behind Terry. Those things scare me.  Another danger I saw down there was the Stone Scorpionfish. They look just like a rock but I was able to pick out one of these poisonous bad boys.

 

 

There were several other “fun fish” as I like to call them. Other people call them reef fish. One I had sharpnose puffernot seen before was the Spotted Sharpnose Puffer.  He was so cute and greeted me when I entered the water.  Later the largest Cortez Angel I had seen was flapping his fins and saying hello. 

 

 

puffer2 comIt was great to get this dive behind me even though I enjoyed the heck out of it.  I did it! I was able to breathe underwater.  That concept still blows my mind.  We planned to hit our original spot the next day. I was pretty tired and so was Bill. He worked pretty hard changing the fan belt on the engine while I sailed us toward the anchorage earlier. When we returned to the boat after the dive it was covered with bees. All you people up north whining about the lack of bees are just looking in the wrong places.  They are all down here and their stings are  concentrated. We sprayed them with salt water and swatted a few.  There were only a couple left and we thought we would be okay. Then Manta called us and said they got hit by the bees and were leaving.  I kid you not. They had their anchor up and were out of the anchorage in less than one minute. We decided to follow.

 

 

The next day we were ready to dive the Aquarium. I am sworn to secrecy on this one and can not tell where it is but it was amazing and lived up to it’s name.  There were too many fish to even start naming . Some new fish for me where Barberfish and Pacific Creolefish.  There were many others too. The clarity was quite good and I was able to actually see a thermal cline.  I did not know what it was at the time but Terry told me later.  We went down as far as 71 feet this time.  Yep, I can still breathe that deep underwater.  While down there Dawn did took lots of video of our adventure while Terry showed us cool things and played tricks on us. I do believe I am  his favorite sucker for all of his pranks.  I did have some trouble with my weight belt on this dive but with Bill’s help I made it through the dive. That belt is now history and I have a new one. 

 

 

We think we have all the bugs worked out of our gear and look forward to another dive later in August with Terry and Dawn. dawn comBoy, I sure wish I could look as graceful as Dawn does under water.  They left this morning but not without saying good bye. They buzzed our boat shouting good bye while Bill was on the radio running the net. They wished me a happy birthday and in complete unison they mooned me.  I could not stop laughing. Yep, they got me again.  Thanks for the great time guys. See ya soon!

 

 

 

 

Plans are always written in sand at low tide.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

8:41 AM

ell burro sailing comWe enjoyed a week in El Burro Cove while waiting for Independence Day and the celebrations that goes with it. While there we met  lots of new friends and caught up with some old friends we had not seen for several months.  There were some that were missed as well. Many of the “on shore people” we have had great times with in El Burro were not in attendance and had their palapas boarded.

 

There was one family on the beach that we had not previously met until this year. We have seen them there every time we have made our visits to El Burro. This was not just a family but actually several Mexican families. Mexican families with lots and lots of kids. With those kids came lots and lots of Jet Skis.  We embraced them and they embraced us. Several of the other boaters yelled and cussed at the kids to stay away from their boats which were anchored in front of the family palapa. I found it wonderful to see the kids having a great time with their families.  At night the kids would make horn noises from shore and Bill would repeat them with his conch shell on the boat. This would go back and forth. At one point someone cussed and yell for us to shut up. That was not the right thing to say to a bunch of kids having fun. We encouraged them to keep going along with their parents. We had several invites to join them on shore.

 

One night the  nine kids swam out to our boat. They were invited aboard but declined not kids comwanting to get the boat wet and salty.  As Bill said it would be like asking them to get in your car and they were taught not to go with strangers.  After about and hour of questions from them about our life on the boat, we tied a rope to the back of the dinghy and towed them back to shore. The Grandfather was begging us to come join them for tequila. We declined. Tequila is not a beverage that works well for us and we were in need of getting Sparky ashore for his doggy business.

 

After the celebrations on the 4th, which including me finding out my photo was in a magazine and receiving an award for my radio net controller service, we stayed one extra day. We did this to take out a new friend for a sail. Actually, we met her the last time we were there. She is from Mexico City and had never been sailing before. She had a great time but admitted she did not know what sailing was when we asked her but it sounded fun. Perhaps a Spanish / English dictionary would have helped her. The conditions were perfect and we had fun time.

 

With all the socializing during the week it was time for some much needed private time. We do like to have our space. We found a spot to anchor away from the herd. It is a spot that is not in the guide book but just OPi-2 comas nice and we were not having an issue with the bees like the herd a mile up the road. Sunday rolled around and Bill was doing his Sunday Ham radio net while we were on our way south. We listened to the weather and realized later in the day it was going to get ugly for us and even if we did find a calm anchorage we could be stuck there for a few days waiting for weather.  We had a limited amount of water and with the watermaker down Bill suggested I turn the boat while he continued with the net.

 

We ended up in Santa Rosalia. It was not our plan to come north but here we are. Now that we have been here for a few days and the weather is good for heading south, we will leave today.  I was able to get my internet fix here and fill the boat with fuel, water and food.  Actually, I found it quite surprising that my need for the internet has declined quite a bit.  I did however enjoy getting in touch with my kids and calling my mom for her birthday on Skype.  We plan to pull anchor in an hour or so and still don’t really know where we will be going other than south.

Is the heat on??

 

Monday, July 01, 2013

 

1:45 PM

 

Why yes, the heat is on. Things have lisa in the pool comwarmed up a bit for us here in Bahia de Conception.  The water is a quite warm at nearly 90 degrees.  We subject ourselves to this each year in anticipation of some free turkey dogs. Well, actually it is not the dog but the gathering of many of the boats in the sea to join an Independence Day celebration given by Geary who provides us with weather day after day never taking a day off on the Ham radio net.

 

 

 The celebration starts with a potluck and then is followed by fireworks in the evening. Geary also provides tents and tables and chairs for the nearly 30 boats that show up each year. It is a great chance to meet the many people we talk to on the radio but have not met in person.

 

 

After the party we will not be heading north with the herd. Instead we plan to head back to where we like the snorkeling and plan to do some scuba diving.  The plan is to play hard the next couple of months before we start making  plans to go north on the outside of the Baja. For now we have agreed to not talk about that for the next month and enjoy every moment we have now.

 

 

So with so much to do I am signing off and heading out of the lovely town of Mulege and back to the water where the catfish are waiting to nibble on my fat , short toes.

 

Loving the Baja!

Saturday, June 01, 2013

3:44 PM

 

sunset wineThe trip from the Mazatlan to the Baja was all a girl could ask for. Well, the first two days anyway. The last day got a little hairy. We had 27 knot winds and seas anywhere between six and ten foot waves. Several washed over the boat filling the gunnels. I can say I have not had the experience before and hope to not have to do that again. The boat did prove itself as sea worthy.

 

It feels so good to be over on the Baja. This truly feels like home.  At the moment we are anchored in Los Gatos one of my favorite spots on the Baja. We have been here for a few days and planned to leave tomorrow but then again we may not. There are only a couple of boats here. The beaches are fine white sand, water crystal clear most of the day and the landscape is stunning.  In the back drop of the little bit of heaven are the Gigante Mountains. They are colorful and leave a beautiful silhouette while the sun is setting.  There are plenty of fish to eat and lobsters seem to have taken over the area.

 

Sparky has turned back into a puppy with his twice daily swim sessions and running on the beach. The only thing that could make things better would be for the water to warm up a bit.

Fun is on the way!

Monday, May 27, 2013

6:39 AM

sandal comEver since I returned to the boat from California there has not been much going on as far as the fun meter goes.  We have traveled some long distances and had really good luck with them.  There have been some great meals with our friends John and Gilly from Destiny but that is about it. Mostly we have been working on getting to boat in top shape. Hopefully  when the day comes for us to head up the outside of the Baja and back to California we will not have any trouble. Then again it is a boat so trouble is to be expected.

 

The work it takes to get the boat in good shape is not a problem for me but relying on others and their extremely poor personal and work skills makes my skin crawl. I just have no tolerance for that. Perhaps some therapy would help me with that.  I will make it clear that it is not the Mexican people I am talking about here. They are American and Canadian.  The Mexican people we have met here in Mazatlan have been extremely kind and have gone out of there way to insure our visit is as pleasant as possible.

 

In spite of the gun fire at 4:30 am, Mazatlan is still our favorite large city in Mexico.  We have learned to keep our own opinions and disregard what the Americans who live here have to say.  Most of them have tunnel vision.  Don’t get me wrong, some have been helpful.  While we have been here we visited the Central Market a few times as well as the smaller version of it. We watched some baseball and got a real feel for the life of local Mexicans here. It is not much different than living in Winters, although, with more dust and humidity.

 

This morning I woke up at O’dark thirty to get my last bits fix of the internet.  It will be hard to say goodbye to daily chats with my kids, especially since both will be expecting babies around the holidays.  I am really looking forward to that.  I am quite thankful to be able to stay in touch with the “kids”.  My daughter sent me a recording of her babies heartbeat yesterday. Technology does not get better than that.

 

We are all packed up and ready for our departure today. The dog has had his fill of veterinarian care here  and I had my six month health check up.  We are ready to rock.  Our goal is to head as close to the Loreto area as possible. Within a week we should be there. That is our all time favorite place to go on this adventure we are on.  Originally we wanted to head through the Panama Canal but did not like what we were experiencing and the Loreto area kept calling us back. I am glad we decided to make that u-turn. The Baja feels so close to home. sandal beads com

 

I will leave you with a photo of a great little bit of craftiness from the Colima area.  I found a store dedicated completely  to creating your own sandals.  I am thinking a California Franchise… Why has this not caught on in the states.  Perhaps this could replace Scrap-booking.

 

 

 

 

You don’t want to make the Queen Bee Mad:

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Mechanic…. What really qualifies one to hold this title.  I can assure you good work ethics are not required to call yourself a mechanic. In my book however good work ethics qualify you more than anything you think you know about engines.

Here in Mazatlan there are so many “mechanic politics” going on that I would discourage anyone from thinking this is a place to have work done on your boat.  I am feeling like we have made a very poor choice in what we have done here. The exception would be our choice to use and the service we received from Grupo Naval Mar de Cortez. I am just sorry we did not ask them to work on our injectors. I can assure you by Monday afternoon if our current “mechanic” does not have them in and fixed I will have Grupo Naval here to do the job.

We try to be fair people and spread our hard earned pesos among all the businesses. Total Yacht Works has proven to not want to provide service for us due to his childish politic games.  That cost us a several day delay. Karma will find him and he will pay for his lies (I have emails to prove those).  As a result we moved on to the next business. Marine Services Mazatlan which started out okay. Rick showed up while our boat was on the hard to guide Bill on how he could fix our bow thruster himself.  We requested he work on our injectors. He did not show up several times, for several days so we searched around the marina and found him having lunch at a restaurant with a girl when he was supposed to be at our boat. He finally got the injectors out and then we had the delays of things not being delivered and so on. I am not sure how much of that is true but can’t prove it.

He showed up today several hours late. I got up early and out of the boat to be out his way. Had I know he had horrible work ethics I would have slept in and even had breakfast. He did some work and fixed our original problem and created two new problems. Hmmm my Punky can do that and it would not cost us. After a short time he said he had to leave to go do his payroll at his office. He said he would be back and packed up his tools. Bill suggested he leave his tools if he was returning. He declined. I took this as a premeditated intention of not returning.  He said he would be back and Bill pushed him for a time. He said 2:00pm. Do I even need to waste my time telling you he never showed up? We called him on the radio, cell phone, text and email, nothing. I can accept his failure to do his job but there is no excuse for common courtesy of letting someone who is sitting around waiting, know you will not be there.

Bill has been trying hard to stay positive about the experience with Rick of Marine Services Mazatlan. I have not. Bill has now come over to my way of thinking.  We missed our weather window and will wait for the next one which is Tuesday. At the moment I seriously doubt that we will make that. I have been told by the locals at the rabbit warren here that it is the Mexican way. Nothing happens quickly. These people are not Mexican. The Mexicans we have had work for us were on time, every time and under budget.

Travel

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

5:44 AM

Lisa stealing palapacomO’dark thirty comes early when you have had friends over and a few (or few too many) adult beverages. There was a plane to catch so there staying in bed was not an option. The plan was to call the water taxi that operates 24 hours a day and have them come pick us up. Unfortunately they were on Mexican time when it came to them answering our radio call. With no other option we unlocked the big heavy chain used to keep our dinghy secure to the boat and head out in the dark waters to shore where our rental car awaited.  As we past the Grand Bay Hotel we saw the taxi chatting up a friend. We went over to him and asked if he could follow us back to the boat and bring us in.  We did not want to leave the dinghy ashore in case Bill did not  return until after dark. (two boat rides) When we got to shore Bill made a comment something like “I think the car is on this street.” This was repeated until I thought we had hit every street in town. Finally he said ” wait here with your bags. I’ll be right back with the car”. Within a few minutes he came flying around the corner in the little Chevy called a Matiz. It is just slightly bigger than a Smart car. After a quick stops for some much needed caffeine we were on our way. It was a pretty drive from Barra de Navidad to the Puerto Vallarta Airport . Some sections were quite bumpy and we feared we would lose the car  in some of the pot holes. The drive was nearly three hours.

 

We arrived early enough to meet up with our friend Bob from the sailboat Nirvana.  After a quick breakfast visit we were off to the airport. We had a few items to check off the list there. First was Aduana (customs) to get paper work for the dreaded Garmin. By doing this we won’t get raped with import fees when returning with the replacement. Next on the list was to get a current visa for Bill. Details of that transaction can be found on the Dude section of the website.

 

 

The flight to LAX was uneventful. When I arrived I headed to my next gate for the next flight to San Jose after I went through customs.  For the record I did get a “Welcome to the US!” from the customs agent.  After walking the maze of the airport and showing my ticket to several airline employees I arrived at the gate that said San Jose on Alaska Airlines as my ticket said. I show the ticket to the agent who looked like Peter pan and asked if this was the right gate.  I was concerned because theflight number  did not match but everything else did.  “Yes, you are at the right gate but you have several hours before we board.” I sat right there until it was time to board. I gave my ticket to the same girl and she says “hmmm something is wrong here. There is someone already in your seat.”  I  repeated her  “hmmmm” with sarcasm. She continues to punch things into her computer and then looks the ticket over again.  “Oh, you are at the wrong gate. You need to on the other side of the airport and have only a few minutes before you miss your flight. You can make it if you take the short cut to the next secure area.” She gave me directions which got me totally lost. I was running through the airport I cut through several lines. Had an agent mark my ticket to give me priority through the lines. In the process I had a guy in a wheelchair block me and tell me that I could not pass him because that section was only for wheel chairs.  ” I said “Really?” in a very watch this manner. I  then ducked under a rope, which I am sure he thought was velvet and red just for him but it wasn’t.  He was a fairly young guy who was yelling at me as I ran to the front of the line.  By now I this was the third time I had gone through the security at the airport and when they scanned my drivers license the red lights were flashing.  I explained my situation and was escorted to the place they have you stand in the tube.  This was the second time I was selected for this and each time they pulled me aside to check my left shoulder.  I was in too big of a hurry to ask about that.

 

Finally, I arrive at the gate for SkyWest which had been written in small print on my Alaska Airline ticket.  I get to the counter with a minute to spare and so out of breathe I can hardly speak. I plot my ticket on the counter and am told. “Sorry this flight is closed.”  “What do you mean closed??”  It turns out they close it ten minutes before take off. Not only that, this was not the real gate. It is the gate to the bus to the other side of the airport where you get on the little prop plane.  At this point I am totally dehydrated and without cash or water. They took my water  that I paid $4.00 for at the security area.  The sweet guy behind the counter booked me on the next flight without me even asking. It will be 11:00 am but I can be on standby for the 7:00am flight if I like but he did not feel I had a chance of getting on that flight.

 

I am now roaming the airport wondering where I can sleep and where is an ATM because I only have Pesos.  I am hungry, tired and angry which anyone who knows me knows this is not a good combination.  I decide to go back to see Peter Pan and give her an ear full of my thoughts. I want to rip her to shreds. First I must call my brother in law who is waiting for me at the airport in San Jose. Then I start off to find Miss I can’t read your ticket even though it is my job. That requires me to go through another security area. I am not in the mood for that.  I remember that is a USO at the airport and I have a military ID to allow me in. The USO has internet, television and a place to sleep along with food and water.  I start to search it out and then look up to see an Alaska Airline ticket counter. Hmmm someone needs to know that there is a bad apple in the cart. I go to the counter and ask who I can speak to so I can file a complaint about an employee.  “Certainly, I will have someone come right away. Stay right here.”  I comment back that I had not other options for the next 12 hours. A tall gentleman in a trench coat shows up. He is very concerned and asked what had happened. I let him know about my experience he promptly asked if I was given food vouchers or a room. I said no and let him know it was not my intention to receive any of that but to let him know about the employee who was not doing her  job well.  I was able to point out Peter Pan to him as she was standing around talking to other employees about 20 feet away. When she saw me and we made eye contact she left the group and walked away. That’s right I was talking to the boss and about her.  It felt good.  The boss left me for a moment and came back with a voucher for the Hilton and two $12 meal vouchers good at he hotel or any place in the airport.  He escorted me to the bus outside the door and I was off. Thank you Alaska Airlines for your great customer service.  The boss had explained this employee was a temp and already on her way out and this confirmed that decision.

 

In my hotel room I felt like I had won the lottery.  Two  giant beds,”Which do I sleep on?” , a million pillows and a television bigger than my dining room table. Oh, and yes, I did check and there was a Bible in the nightstand drawer. I took my voucher down to the Bristo and ordered a chicken and pesto Panini  sandwich to eat in my luxury suite. I must have spent 3 hours in the shower.  Almost washed all my tan off.

 

I was excited to see some American television until I started watching American television. Holy smokes the media is brain washing everyone!  After not watching television for a year now I feel quite different about watching it. I do believe it is worse than crack cocaine.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some good things on but the brain washing that goes with the good is not to my liking and I never saw it that way until I was off the crack.  To be more specific I will say the news media and advertising agencies of American have poisoned all of us.  Sorry, just a little rant I had to get out.  Well, rant or mind clarity.

 

Within  30 or so minutes of watching the giant television I  learned that  Los Angeles is still getting 40% of its power from coal but will be coal free by 2025, there were six murders that day, a mass murder in a Florida college was stopped by a roommate.  It makes me laugh to think Americans fear coming to Mexico. I should be afraid to return.

In the morning I  made some coffee in my room and took yet another shower.  If you have ever lived on a boat for a long period of time you would understand my obsession with long hot showers.  I checked out of my room before 8:00 a.m. and took the shuttle to the airport.  I knew exactly where to go. I arrived a couple hours before my flight so I had breakfast in the terminal after the bus ride and met a very nice gentleman from Santa Barbara who had just returned from Trinidad to care for his mother.  I told him about my upcoming care taking duties and he had some advice for me. “Be sure to carve some time out for yourself. It is very important.” You would not believe how many times I replayed this scene in my head. He was sooo right.  I wish I could thank him again for those words.

 

The flight from LAX to San Jose was pleasant but when I arrived I got quite a giggle. My nephew picked me up in his monster truck. I kid you not I have never seen a truck lifted quite so high, let alone trying to climb in to one. I was quite challenged and his laughing did not help. He was out of the truck ready to push me up when I was finally able to get myself up there. Getting out I about rolled down the driveway as I fell to the ground.  Good times.

 

The purpose of my trip home was to help care for my mother-in-law in her own home after surgery. On my second day of caring for her she had a stroke. Fortunately, she recovered well and fairly quickly.  It was a lot of work but rewarding in the end knowing she can continue to live in her home without assistance.  I did not have much free time with the many doctor appointments but was able to make a visit to Winters and got to say my friend Lori at Mariani Nut Company and then a visit to see my friend Becky and her family. My last stop that day was to West Sacramento to visit Jeff and Julie who may be coming down to meet us in Loreto.

 

pedi time comMy daughter Stephanie and I made time for a much needed pedicure date and my final bit of fun was having my son Hans take the train up from San Diego to help ( I use the term help lightly, I only drove 35 minutes) me drive my car down to San Diego where he will keep it for me until wereturn to the states.  On the way we stopped so he could get one of those energy drinks.  He asked if I wanted one and I had no idea what to ask for. He laughed and asked what I like. I said coffee. A cold coffee drink. He brought me one of those giant Monster drinks.  Being super thirsty I drank it down quickly. Then I told him that these things don’t work. All I got out of it was a bit of a headache. His version was that it did work and he wish he had bought me a carton of milk instead. Apparently, they make me talk too much and I could not stop. The trip to San Diego  allowed me to spend time with my grandson and daughter in law as well.  I flew out at 10 am and was back on the boat before dark.

 

We put the boat into the marina in Barra and I worked hard for a week solid cleaning and polishing the boat. She is in the best condition she has been in a long time. We left Barra on the 22nd heading to Mazatlan. Right now we are in La Cruz right next to Puerto Vallarta.  We picked a great weather window for our trip up. Going around the point known to be rough was quite calm.  We will stay here until Monday when the next weather window opens to go to Mazatlan to get new bottom paint. That plan could change if the yard here can come up with a decent price to have it done here.

 

I am my own enemy

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

2:52 AM

 

As you may recall from the pirate story, lisa in thought comI hid things I did not want the pirates to take should we be boarded by them. As it turns out I did a rally good job. No, make that a really, really good job. When the “pirate boat” or  fishing panga started closing in on us at less than a quarter mile I sort of went into a panic. First off I hid Bill’s wallet  (behind my clothes bins on the shelf in the V-berth) and pulled out the fake wallet and put some money in it. His fake wallet has lots of grocery store club cards and expired Sams Club card and a couple of expired credit card for account that are no longer open.  I do not have a fake wallet for myself so I pulled most of the good stuff out of mine and put it with Bill’s wallet.  I left Bill’s 1980ish Dell computer out and hid mine up in some clothes in the V-berth. My thought was a big burly pirate was not going to climb up in there to look for a computer in my panties.  I put our cell phone  between the mattress and the wall.

 

At the time this was happening we were using our television as a repeater monitor for the sometimes working sometimes not Garmin.  Surprisingly it was working but we were only using the radar. I don’t have any jewelry on board that is worth stealing other than my wedding ring and 25th anniversary ring.  I spun them upside down so the diamonds would not show. As it turns out it was a pretty good idea to keep them on or I might still be looking for them.

 

A couple of days after this all happened Bill asked me where the bag of thumb drives went. “What? I have not seen those for months.” He them mentioned the adapter for the SD cards to USB was in there. “Nope, haven’t seen them.” The next day I sort of remembered thinking I needed to hid that adapter because it would be a pain to find a new one down here.  “Hey Bill! Come to think of it I did see those things. I hid them.”  Here is where things start getting tough for me. I can’t find them!  I have taken all my clothes out of my storage, checked the oven but remember thinking know I will forget they were there and melt them. They are not in the towel cabinet with the towels or the cabinet behind the toilet where the toilet paper is stored in bulk. One can never have too much toilet paper as too little is a problem. I looked in the places I store rum through out the boat but it was not there. Don’t think for a moment that I am going to disclose where I hide my rum. I am thinking I should have put a bar of Lindt  Excellence Extra Dark Chocolate 85% Cocoa in with the thumb drives and then I would have no trouble sniffing it out.

 

We are currently in Barra de Navidad. For the first time in about a month and a half we are in an anchorage that is not rolling us around in our bed all night. The humidity is lower too. With these pleasant conditions I am hoping to empty every nook and cranny AGAIN so I can find these things.

What a difference 24 little hours make.

Friday, March 08, 2013

12:12 PM

Well, we did have a bit of excitement on our way north from Zihuatanejo to Santiago. It was a bit of a reflecting moment when we changed directions from our original plans to head through the Panama Canal. The places we were seeing and hearing about just were not what my Utopia looks likes. Sorry if we let anyone down by not offering them a spot onboard through the canal. We just have to do what we love.

 

With all this reflecting going on we left the wonderful town of Zihuatanejo and all the cute little tourist shops. Within a few hours we had a fish on the line and I came bouncing up top with a gaff in hand. “Wooo Hooo! A fish!” changed quickly to” f*&%#” when the bee I just saw stung me. What was he doing so far out at sea? We ended up letting the fish go too. Being the spoiled brat that I am I wanted a Dorado not a Cravelle.

 

Fast forward to the Pirate Story on the home page. If you read the Pirate story the next trouble we had was the engine. It died. I was not too worried; we have sails right? Oh, wait they require wind and we had none. No worries, I have my Punky to come to the rescue.

 

The trouble turned out to be a clogged fuel filter.  About an hour later we were moving again. During our second night at sea we started pulling into Manzanillo Bay and there was sure a lot of traffic. Those ships are huge when they are near by. We had to make a loop back to avoid one. In doing so we hit one of his waves that tossed the coffee pot, full and still containing grounds, onto the floor where all the pans that just seconds before flew out of the oven had landed. The pans made an enough noise to really irritate my already over tired mind.

 

We dropped the anchor at two in the morning. Note to self. “Never put lotion on your feet before you have to climb around the dinghy on deck, walking on the outside of the life lines. The teak cap rail is quite slippery.

 

jaimie comAfter a days rest and cleaning we are enjoying a great day. Needing to run some errands and make about five stops in Manzanillo we started walking to the bus stop when Jaime Rolan(He is single ladies!) the taxi driver  number 482 asked if we needed his service. We asked his price as learned from bad experiences.  He said he would give us a good price and he did. He was one of the nicest guys we have met. I wanted to bring him home for cocktails. Then Bill asked if he could drive us from one spot to the next. He did just that. Dropping off Bill in one area while taking me to Sally’s (yes just like those back home) to get a nail implement to replace one that fell overboard. Then he too me back to Bill, a quick stop at the Pemex to fill our can with diesel and here we are at the Tenisol Hotel. Having just eaten a very tasty bacon burger. Bill had a shrimp burger that looked really yummy. The internet is super good and we are the only people here. You may look back at photos previously posted to see how beautiful this place is.

hotel  troncones comSurfer Girl Fur Shure

Friday, February 22, 2013. Mexcalli Surf School

 

Ever since I was in high school I’ve dreamt I would be a surfer girl. My best friend Diane and I have spent hours, months even years talking about being a surfer girl. Diane drove a VW bug with a cassette player that repeatedly played The Beach Boys along with some rock and our attention getting punk rock. Some days we would talk about life after high school graduation and that we were going to join a commune and hang out at the beach the rest of our lives.  On occasion I even skipped school to head over the hill to Santa Cruz so I could hear the waves, smell the ocean and most importantly work on my tan. This was my happy place.

 

Back then our favorite sunscreen was baby oil. I remember that precious bottle would always end up with sand stuck to it and the battle to keep it off. On our excursions to the beach we’d packed up our boom box and a towel along with the baby oil. We later learned the prefect looking beach girls were adding iodine to their baby oil for a golden tan. We never did that for fear we would look like the yellow onion on the slides in our biology class.  Actually hitting the beach we often made a stop at Togos for a sandwich to chow down later.

 

The time I spent with Diane sharing this dream has never been forgotten.  I often think of her while walking the beaches of Mexico and wish she were right by my side being silly with me and talking about everything and nothing at the same time. This feeling was never stronger than the day I woke up early to actually make that dream a reality. The reality of being able to say ” I surf!”

 

Lately we have been pretty lazy and not leaving the boat until after 8:00 am. On surf day we were gone much earlier. Bill took Sparky to the beach to get some exercise and do his “doggy business”, Sparky of course did the same. Upon returning I jumped in the dinghy and we were off. The first stop was for some coffee and a quick bite to eat. Next up was a taxi ride to our surf instructors house to bum a ride to his shop in Trocones.  I felt like one of the cool kids getting a ride in with guy who would transform me to “Surfer Girl”  Okay, so I was actually with the instructors son who barely looked old enough to drive and we were in a mini van but we were listening to Bob Marley and had a surf board on the roof. Our driver was Leonel.  He was friendly, nice and very polite. Oh, I should also mention this kid can surf really well.

 

At the shop we picked up a couple of less than tan guys a bit older than us and after our instructor Beto loaded all our boards we were off to the land of some of the best waves to learn to surf on. The road down the beach took us through coconut palms that hung low and swept all sides of the van. The temperature was perfect.  The beach was flat with a few houses and a restaurant that had seating in the shade of the palms right on the beach. Paradise found.

 

Our lesson started with a demo and practice of laying on the board and hopping up into the “surfer girl position”. You know sort of a strike pose thing. The problem was I am about double the weight I was in high school but my mind is still the same. I was asked to go first. This made me very uncomfortable. I am horribly clumsy and now I have to do something to make me look foolish in front of others and I am the only girl.  I did as asked and then asked to do it again a couple more times. This did not give me a good feeling about how the day was going to go.  My morning happy day high was crashing. Bill looked pretty darn good doing this exercise.  The other two guys Ian and Tom made me feel a little better about my poor performance.

 

The next step to being surfer girl was to strap our assigned boards to our ankles and paddle out to line up for our turn with Beto. Once again I am chosen to be first.  “Me?” Oh no, this is not what I wanted to happen.  Beto lined me up and told me when to go. I made it to my knees and rode the wave pretty far. This had me thinking ” Hey that was pretty dang fun and I may just be able to do this.”  Bill and the other two did not do as well as I had which gave me more confidence.  On my second try I was up on both feet in position and an in control.  I am instantly addicted. My thought was ” Holy crap! How the hell did I pull that off”.  This of course was followed by a  couple of reality checks of not doing so well and then back to  I am a “Surfer Girl”.  The one wave that made my day was when I was upright, in control and barreling right down on Bill who was paddling back out after he had failed to get up.  I am sure he was blinded by the huge smile I had and deafened by the loud laugh. This all ended as I crashed right into his board and went under.  It is hard to wipe the smile off my face just thinking about that.

 

On one of my rides I was tossed under pretty hard and some how came up with a finger that was giving me some pain. (The next day it was so swollen I had to have my wedding ring sawed off) This was not going to keep me from enjoying this perfect day. I had a few more good waves and ended up feeling super tired.  I took a last wave and end of day comthen joined the wives of Ian and Tom. This gave me a great view of Bill riding in upright all the way to the beach. Unfortunately, I was so wrapped up in my thoughts I did not pick up the camera to get a picture of Bill.  We grabbed a beer and watched Beto and Leonel, along with Leonel’s “primo” aka best friend, as they showed us what years of practice can do.

 

Another dream fulfilled.  Diane, I wish you could have been by my side.

 

Finally, I have adjusted my attitude

Thursday, February 07, 2013

11:00 AM

The last month has had me in a bit of a funk. That is what happens when I am pinned in a small area by someone else’s choosing.

 

Today we pulled up the anchor me and syd comand are headed south toward Ixtapa. It is great to be on the move again.  Back on land I often had the urge to rearrange the furniture in the house. That is not possible on the boat but moving the house (boat) gives me that same pleasure. In the last two months we have had a lot of fun times with friends old and new. These include many dinners and cocktail hours. My all time favorite thing that we have done in the last couple of months is sitting up on the front deck in our beach chairs with the sun shade overhead. Each day about sunset Bill and I assume our positions with cocktail in hand and dog tail under foot. We have had many good conversations and talked about our future plans. I find it amazing that after some thirty plus years we can still come up with dreams that we both want to pursue.  I wish everyone had the opportunity to sit and watch the sun set each night.

 

One of the most important things we discussed is our  sailing plans. Originally we were to going to sail around the world. Okay, just kidding. That was never our plan but we thought we would make it to Panama. As it turns out we prefer to be up in the Sea of Cortez.  Back to the land of secluded anchorages and lots of fish to catch and spear. The dinghy landings south of Punta Mita often require a surf landing and pushing our overly heavy dinghy up on shore on the wheels. This is never a fun task not to mention when we go into town after such landings we first have to find a place to change out of our swimsuits and rinse all the super fine black sand off our feet so it does not grind holes in our skin from our shoes. Finding a place to do this can be a challenge.

 

So, we decide to choose this simple life and head back up into the Sea. Before we do that we will be going down to Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo. We almost skipped these places to head back up to the sea but some friends came over with a bottle of rum to change our mind. Well, it worked.  We are currently underway. It is a perfect day.  The seas are calm we have a light breeze in the mid 70’s. The water is what some call tuna blue because it is this color that tuna is found in. The line is out but no fish yet. We have seen several pods of dolphin and three large turtles.  All this and it is not even noon yet.

The Waiting Game….

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

11:46 AM

As many of you have read we have been having some issues with our Garmin Chartplotter, GPS, Radar unit. If you enjoy reading all the frustrating details you can do so in the Bridge over trouble com Dude’s section.  I am working really hard to bury my head in the sand on this, which is quite challenging. It would be great to move on and see some new things. Currently we are anchored in Las Hadas or has Bill likes to call it Las Has-Been.

There are some pleasures to be enjoyed here but some disadvantages too.  The beach can be difficult to land on.  We have had a lot of cloud cover in the last few weeks but the air and water are warm.

 

I don’t mind hanging out for a while if it is of my choosing. Here we sit and wait for UPS to deliver the new SD card that might fix our Garmin issue. The problem is UPS contracted the package out and it is no where to be found. Garmin has ordered another to be sent. So, here I sit with an internet connection trying to come up with something cleaver to write about. Would you find it entertaining that four old Mexican men, sporting bright orange life vests just rode by on a water weenie, bouncing, laughing and screaming like school girls?  It made me giggle. Perhaps telling you about the bus ride that was far more scary than any amusement park ride. The driver did not feel it was required to go slow around blind corners on a road atop the steep hillside. It also did not phase him that this bus made more rattle bang noises than any I have ever been on. I was quite excited when he put his brakes to the test as he past a young girl waiting for the bus.  It reminded me of the day when I was teaching my kids to drive and instinctively  reach fro the brake while in the passenger seat.

 

While waiting we have figured out the bus system for the Santiago, Manzanillo, Las Hadas area. Most of the boaters are quick to drop some extra cash for a taxi.  Within a 10 minute bus ride we can have all the shopping Mexico has to offer.  The shopping is so easy I was able to purchase a pair of “Big Girl Sandals” the other day.  Okay, let’s say they are something other than flip flops with a nice sole for walking and a little support for these old feet of mine that seem to get several miles tread on them every time we go into town.  So , sort of mish mash update but it is a mish mash blah kind of day. Waiting….. When the question is asked again “What can Brown do for you?” My answer will be ” Teach me patients.”

Barra De Navidad.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

2:30 PM

 

Well we did not make it to Barra De Navidad by Christmas but we were here for the Start of the new year. Our friends Jim and Susan on Windward Bound have been here for a few years now and were happy to show us around.  The town is a bit touristy but it is a bit of a surf town as well.  The people here have been very friendly. Watching our dollars slowly disappear without being replaced keeps us out of the marinas.

The marina here is at The Grand Bay Hotel. It is a large fancy place and where our rich friends on Windward Bound have been staying for a couple of months in the marina which gets them access to all the hotel facilities. They were happy to share those facilities with us. We watched the fireworks from the 5th floor bar as the new year began. billandjim com The hotel is indeed grand with lots of marble, real linens in the bathroom, valet parking and I am sure you get the idea. One of the afternoons here we spent some time sitting by the pool consuming adult beverages and making up stories.

 

In town we have enjoyed some inexpensive meals and decided to do a bit of a comparison of hamburgers.  Several people told us about their favorite places. As far as flavor my favorite is La Officina’s Billy Burger. It comes with blue cheese, caramelized onions and mushrooms. On the side is a Caesar salad. The cost is nearly $8.00 US which is above our normal meal budget but we had to try it.  The best value was the burger at Casa de mi Abuela ( house of my grandmother). The owner Miguel cooks his enormous burgers on the BBQ  just to the side of the dining patio. The patio spills out into the street a bit which is also the main walking zone for the many locals and tourists. It is common to see surfers walking by with their board on their heads. The people watching here is spectacular but the locals love this place more so for the watching of American football. Miguel loves American football so much once he told us he would not be cooking burgers because he did not want to miss the excitement on the game. During the game his burgers are $3.50 US and beer is less than a dollar a bottle.  The burgers are quite large. I am guessing half a pound but I am sure it is less. He drives an hour to get sirloin for his burgers and they come with a side of fries which you can request you desired crispness on.  Miguel is really friendly and when you are there everyone does know your name.  We learned a lot of names there as well.

 

Barra does have a good feel to it but like all places when we stay more than a few days we get antsy and need to move along. We have been here for about two weeks in order to take care of our visas that were about to expire. You can read about this in the home section. Tonight we will go to dinner in the next town over with our friends. We are looking forward to our next anchorage. For now I am off to get ready before the water taxi shows up to take us into town.

Change of Cruising Style

Monday, December 31, 2012

We are now in new cruising territory. Seeing places we have never been. The Barracomweather is pretty nice even though we have rain today. We had a great stay in La Cruz. We stayed nearly a month but our boat has new rigging and is ready for some sailing. We are currently in Barra De Navidad. We stopped in two places on the way down.  One gave us a little bit of an exciting evening see the main page. Thank goodness this was not our boat.

I really like the feel of Barra and am hoping the local we spoke with this morning can help us get our visas squared away. I am also hoping is takes a few day so we can hang here and get to know this town.  I can see why some people seem to never leave once arriving.

Change of Latitude, Sunday, December 09, 2012

We have covered a lot of ground in theLisa at la rev com past nine months.  The furthest north we went was 29°N and currently we are sitting at 20°N. We are no longer  in The Sea of Cortez. It is kind of a bitter sweet  thought for me.  While I am enjoying the change of cruising style, I will certainly miss going snorkeling daily and catching  most of our meals. I was just getting into spear fishing and loved it. The Sea of Cortez is such a beautiful place. The abundance of colorful fish, crystal clear water and white sand beaches had captured my heart which makes it tough to part ways with it.

 

We have entered what is known as the Mexican Riviera. It starts here in Banderas Bay which is Home to La Cruz and Puerto Vallarta or as the locals say” Vallarta”.  We have been anchored here is La Cruz for nearly two weeks which is not typical of us to stay in port for that long. At the moment we don’t even have a departure date.  After some thinking we have decided to have the boat re-rigged.  For those of you who are my dirt friends that means new wires to hold up the two sticks that work as flag poles for our sails. Over time these stainless cables get weak and start to stretch.  La Cruz is certainly a pleasant place to be sort of stuck for a bit while we have work done. It is one of the few places that I am enjoying more the second time around.

 

Our guide books indicate there will very few secluded anchorages with nice white sand beaches between here and Acapulco. From what information I have obtained there will be many resort covered beaches. Many allow usage of their facilities for a small fee. We just happen to not be big on the resort life.  I prefer a cold $1 Pacifico on a secluded white sand beach in the sea much more than a $7 cocktail with an abundance of tourist around you. When we arrive in Acapulco we will make the decision to continue on through the Panama Canal or  return north. Any movement south will be a new adventure for us. I am both excited and a bit nervous about what we will find south of here.

 

For now I will keep an open mind and open heart and see what comes. Today is another day to enjoy La Cruz.

Summer Camp

Friday, November 02, 2012
9:38 AM

Looking back on the week we spent in San Juanico, I think I will refer to it as Camp San Juanico for grown ups. Okay, maybe not grown ups because I don’t consider myself a grown up and my kids will confirm this.

San Juanico is a large anchorage with lots of nooks and crannies. There are a couple of islands that consist of large spryer; some have Osprey nests on the tops of them. The water is crystal clear, reflecting many shades of turquoise. The beaches have fine white sand that slopes up to lush green plants brought to us by the large amount of rain on the Baja this year. I think you can get the picture. It is a bit of paradise for us to enjoy this week.

None of the days events had been planned more than 12 hours in advance which is what made it so much fun. There were some of the regulars that we cruise with here. Nirvana, Harmony, Eagle and about six others we had not met prior to this fun week. It started when a rather large super mega yacht that came in. After doing a little internet searching we found out the yacht Pegaso was over 200 ft. and has it’s own submarine that is in the 30 ft. range. Oh, and of course it had a helicopter. A very nice helicopter with tan leather sofa looking seats. Don’t think for a minute I did not get the binoculars out to see if there was a celebrity in there. Not that I would know one if they came up and asked to borrow a cup of sugar, I’m just not that into Hollywood. After they anchored next to us the crew took their tender to shore to set up the beach for their important people; A man and a woman in their mid 40’s. The crew had to wait for Bill and Sparky to leave the beach they wanted. Bill was there so Sparky could do his morning business. Within 10 minutes the crew had set up a pop up canopy with chairs under it, two teak chase lounge chairs complete with rolled towels at the foot and two kayaks.

The couple sat on the beach for several hours under the canopy, never using the lounge chairs or kayaks. I was thinking if someone took the time to set that stuff up it should be used but I could not get myself to go use it. Instead I chatted with friends making up stories about who those people were. My best story is that it was Julia Roberts with Charlie Sheen.

Once the beach cleared we decided to have a bon fire and potluck. We had about 20 people there. Eagle brought their bocce ball set. The food was great and the fire was huge and beverages were cold. There were plenty of grown up beverages consumed along with some very loud laughter. We could not help but think of those people on the mega yacht and how they wished we had invited them.

Next up for me was “Date Night” with cocktails and dinner aboard Nirvana. Sherry had me come over to learn how to make sushi, which she was serving as an appetizer. You can be sure I am searching out the ingredients to make it on Beyond Reason. She had Tom and Jeanie from Eagle and Terry and Diane from Harmony over as well. That made it 8 for “Date Night”. I made homemade noodles for the chicken with cream sauce Sherry was serving. Diane brought risotto with clams and Eagle baked the best brown butter brownies. Diane can verify that because she actually licked the plate at the end of the night. We all dressed up and even put on jewelry. That is something us cruiser don’t do often. I even put on sandals but everyone else was barefoot. I felt a little over dressed.

In the morning most of the group went snorkeling but Diane and I stayed behind taking advantage of Eagle’s offer to use their kayaks. Every time we have stayed in the San Juanico I have said it is the one place I really wished I had a kayak. Thanks to Eagle that dream became a reality. Diane joined me as we paddled around the islands with their beautiful smooth cliffs. We watched the colorful fish and talked about all the fun we were having. This is when the summer camp idea came up. As Diane said. “It is like summer camp without all the mean girls.”

Camp would not be complete without a little music involved. Jeanie from Eagle plays ukulele as does Bill. Bob from Nirvana plays mandolin and Sherry brought her drum with a stick. Diane chimed in with her wooden salad tongs. This was “The band” for our clam bake on the beach. We had the best chocolate clams. They were simply steamed in beer and the drizzled with garlic butter. The clams were gathered the day before right there in San Juanico. The band sounded pretty darn good which brought the young folks over from the other beach. They were in four small whale boats with a leadership program. One of the guys was on the TV show the bachelor number four. Needless to say, I did not recognize him.

On our last day in San Juanico many of the boats had left. Bill and I went snorkeling and saw quite a few fish we had not seen before. The clarity was great and this was the best snorkeling I have had.

It will be tough to top the week at camp but we are heading south looking for new adventures. Bill bought me a new spear gun in Loreto a couple days ago and I am can’t wait to use it for something more than a target. We should be in La Paz in a couple of weeks and then cross over to the mainland and on to places we have never been before.

Spearing Rocks and Bruising Fish

Saturday, September 22, 2012
1:56 PM

I think I have the fish killing bug in me now. My guess is it started the day I was stung by the Jellyfish. I was thinking about how I could hunt the fish I was seeing when I was stung. Lately, I have been getting pretty bummed when losing a fish that was on it’s way to my belly. I will start with sharing the story about the two Dorado that did not make it to my belly in the last few days. The first was one caught on my line on our way to Isla Las Animas.

 

I had a line in the water dragging behind the boat. The lure was one I had put together myself. I even pulled out some of my jewelry making beads to make it fancy. Just knowing I was able to get a fish to take the lure I made was thrilling. I tend to get a little over excited when a fish is on my line and a lot over excited knowing it is a Dorado. The one we hooked that day was a pretty good sized. I had never seen them jump 4 and 5 feet out of the water once hooked. Bill was a bit concerned about my well being with all the chirping coming out of my mouth. Rather than take the boat out of gear he proceeded to come over and take the pole from me. The fish was pulling out a lot of line. I think I yelled out something like “He’s going to spool me!”.

 

I had once heard some fish addicts use that term, so I thought it was appropriate. Anyway, I still had the reel on the strike mode. Before I could switch it to full it was in Bill’s hands. He promptly switched the reel to the free spooling. If I had wanted to put all my line in the water I would have let the fish do it. As a result I had giant birds nest. Bill tried to recover the fish but by the time I took the boat out of gear the fish jumped quite high and was able to get away with my lure. Perhaps the knot was not tied well enough. After this I went to the front of the boat to sit and pout.

 

Bill, not wanting me to waste time on pouting brought my pole to me after he gave up on untangling the mess of line. An hour later I had it back in working order.

The next day Bill caught a Dorado on his line. I took the boat out of gear while he reeled it in. Sparky was going wild as he usually does when he knows a fish is about to come on board. He likes to lick them, Crazy dog. I put Sparks down below and came up with the gaff, which I am pretty good at using. As I was about to lean over to gaff him Bill decided he would “play” the fish. He gave him a little more line to let him run a bit so he could bring him back in again. Sorry, but that only works on TV. The fish took advantage of the loose line and freed himself. Again, I was left pouting.

We are now anchored in a spot that I would say  is pretty much a paradise. This morning we went out diving. I had not been in the water killing for a while because Bill had been bringing home a lot of fish and we only kill what we can eat within the next day or so. I am getting pretty good at hitting fish but even better at bruising them and spearing rocks. Today I bruised five fish and killed one. The tips on my pole spear are about as sharp as the tips of the safety scissors in a first aid kit.

 

When I am under water hunting, something happens to me and I am transformed into a completely different person. I often use some pretty salty language in my attempts to bruise those poor little creatures. I get an extra salty mouth when I spear the rocks. My lunch fish tostada has not even been made yet and I am ready to sharpen my hunting stick and go look for more. Perhaps I am starting to understand all the fishermen I have met in my life.

 

When I am underwater I am truly living in the minute as some might say. Just me, the fish, my spear and a strong desire to fill my belly with fish. With this new addiction I have gained a strong want for a better killing stick. I had mine welded in San Filipe after my first rock spearing. Now I am noticing the part that the tip screws onto is cracked and a little loose. I hate to say it but this girl needs to get into town to buy herself some new fishing gear.

 

Tonight we plan to take the dinghy out to try for some Dorado. Hopefully the third time will be a charm.

Butterflies, Trench Butt and a Perfect Day

Thursday, September 20, 2012
5:28 PM

After our stay in San Filipe at the top of the Sea of Cortez it was time for us to head south. I am sure you have noticed that writing is not really my thing. So, many times in the last few weeks I would come up with great things write about but getting out the computer is not always the best thing to do when we are sailing in rough seas or I happen to be too lazy. Some of my writing ideas have titles like butterflies, trench butt, happiness on a boat is..,and the ever present thought of you know you are anchored too close when….Oh, and then there is the perfect day.

Perhaps I will touch on these ideas just a bit. Recently, Geary our weather reporter on the Ham radio net told us about a huge migration of yellow butterflies. I was only able to hear a little of what he had to say about them but was giggling when he signed off the radio saying he was off to start counting butterflies. Well, just like hearing one of those songs that get stuck in your head, I kept hearing his voice saying “counting butterflies”. Before I could get this out of my head I was indeed counting butterflies. I could not stop. I found myself counting while carrying on a conversation with Bill. In one day I had counted 237 yellow butterflies and four dragon flies. Fortunately, I was able to break this cycle. I will add that since I have quit counting I have seen several monarchs as well.

I will take full credit for the phrase I coined known as “Trench Butt”. This is something that happens when you live in swimsuits and are either in the water or experiencing temps in the upper 90’s with humidity in the upper 70’s. Please also note that along with this goes hair that has been featured in my all time favorite movie Christmas Vacation. If you have seen this you will know I am talking about Ruby Sue.

Happiness on a boat is quite different than happiness while living in a house. I have learned to appreciate thing so much more than before. Also, the things that are important to me have changed quite a bit. I think the top of the list right now would be any day with a humidity level below 50%. I feel as if I am floating in the air when this happens. 90 degrees is nothing when the humidity is low but when it is in the upper 70% range, it can be quite uncomfortable. This is when I spend most of my time working on my trench butt.

Next up on the happiness list would be finding the perfect anchorage. This would include a nice sand beach without stingrays, no-see-ums, or flies. Also, good water clarity to see the fish so we can spear them and eat them. No other boats in the anchorage. ( I do enjoy being with other boats and having them over for cocktails and dinner but only some of the time.) Another important thing to have in the anchorage is good holding ground and protection from the winds and waves that can kick up in the night. After a quiet night waking up to find our boat surrounded by feeding dolphins always makes my coffee taste much better.

There are a number of small things on the happiness list. Finding a bottle of rum I had tucked away in the linens, to keep it from breaking, when I thought I was out of rum. I always smile when I realize we have enough butter to add some to our popcorn when we watch our single nightly episode of a TV show we have on the media player. Having water tanks that are full which allows me to hand wash clothes and hang them out to dry. I think I may kiss my washer and dryer when I return to living on dirt again. Something that is new for me is spearing fish with a pole spear. A good kill just before lunch brings happiness to my tummy when I eat the fish on a nice tostada. It is my new favorite quick meal.

The perfect day…We have had quite a few of these lately. Waking up after a good sleep in a calm anchorage usually starts with some coffee sipping in the cockpit while watching the dolphins feed. You may think this is a fantasy but it is not for me it is my reality and happens often. We usually listen to the radio nets during that time to get the latest hurricane reports and localish weather. Weather could have it’s own long blog entry if I were not lazy about writing. The nets also allow us to listen in on the many friends we have met, check in. It is always nice to hear where they are and what it is like there.

 

After the nets we check out email and then Bill and I take turns in cooking a nice breakfast. After breakfast we take the dog to shore. Usually a white sand beach. Unfortunately many have sting rays but we are careful and know they are there so they have not been a problem. After this is done we clean up the boat and head out snorkeling and hunting for lunch and dinner. When we return to the boat Bill filets the fish and I pull the remaining bones out that he misses and put the fish in the fridge. Then it is time for a nap. Today we are not napping but writing instead. My priorities are a bit off today. Next up is lunch which is often followed by some time swimming or just floating in the water with a cold beverage. The afternoon is not complete with out taking the dinghy out to explore the area and search out our next dive spot. In the evening we listen to another radio net and then take the dog to shore. Once back on the boat we have our evening cocktail and then make dinner, eat, clean up. After dinner is done we usually gaze at the stars searching for satellites and then watch one episode of a TV show enjoying some popcorn. If we are lucky there is butter on that popcorn. Once that is done it is usually time to hit the sack. That is not only the perfect day for me but also a reality for us more often than not.

Reflecting back on San Felipe:Thursday, August 30, 2012

It is nice to have all my medical appointments finished. The doctor released me from his care and asked me to get a six month follow up MRI. A hand full of pills and I am ready to get out of San Filipe.

The people we met here were incredibly nice, generous and very friendly. The marina staff made numerous phone calls for us and were there to try to address any needs we had, including dog sitting.

 

While at the doctors office one day we met Kim, who is from the Bay Area in California. She had lived here for a number of years and gave us her insight on the town. She also gave us a ride to the radiologist and then on to the marina. That saved us a lot of walking and another outrageous taxi fee. Another positive was Ruben and his family who owned a restaurant near the radiologist. We had several meals there and tried to have conversations with them in Spanish but they also spoke English which was quite helpful. They also had a very clean restaurant with excellent food. Oh, and it was the only restaurant we had been in that had National Geographic on the television instead of soap operas.

Unfortunately, the people are about the only good thing about this town. It was one of the dirtiest Mexican towns we had been in. Mexicali was far cleaner, which took us by surprise. I will say we were there during the off season for tourists so perhaps they did not put the polish on yet.

San Filipe has a lot of empty lots and every single one is filled with trash. Everything from broken concrete to empty 40’s. The 40’s are not wrapped in a bag like they are in California here they are wrapped in newspaper. I think it is to keep the condensation from dripping on you or in your Dorito bag. They seem to go hand in hand.

Besides the trash there are all the dead birds. The marina had a large number of birds, mostly Pelicans. I don’t think we saw one that looked healthy. Typically we love to watch Pelicans and make up conversations they maybe having. These looked as if they were asking where the nearest crack dealer was. Perhaps some of this illness is due to the large amount of fecal matter in the area. There was a pack of dogs that lived around the marina. They looked very ill also and they left large amounts of poo. The city sewage is dumped into the sea just outside the marina. We were told this by the security guard who watched Sparky for us. He grew up in San Filipe. He said only three of the big hotels have sewage treatment system and the rest goes in the sea. He says that is why you only see tourist in the water and never a local.

It is kind of a shame to report all this negativity but it was how I saw it. Perhaps they can get some volunteers together and start a massive clean up. I am not sure I would ever go back.

Still further “Upper Sea of Cortez, Aug 30, 2012

While San Francisquito was a blast which included a pot luck on the beach the night of my birthday and the first full moon of the month, it was time to move forward. Perhaps I should say northward. There are many boats that hang out in the Bahia de Los Angeles area this time of year because there is what is called a hurricane hole. It offers protection from big waves in the event of a hurricane. The funny thing is that it seem to always be windy there. On our way up we stopped at a couple of beaches along the way for a few days. Quemada was one that had a beautiful white sand beach. We hiked over the hill that forms the lagoon after a couple of days to a private beach that featured several casitas. We sat and talked with the care taker for a while. I think he was happy for the company as he is there alone. He told us a private family owned this large compound.

We pulled into Las Animalas’ east anchorage also where we found a special treasure. A completely in tack turtle shell. Being in possession of one will empty your bank account and land you in the worst Mexican jail available. I had no intention of taking it but really wanted to get a photo of me with it strapped to my back and a machete in my hand. I would have added a band of fabric over my eyes with little slits in it and then would have titled it Granny Ninja Turtle. Unfortunately weather forced us to skip the photo and we moved on.

Next up was a few days in the Bahia de Lo Angeles area. Here we experience our first real Chubasco ( big storm usually at night) of the season. We were not anchored in an ideal spot for this but made the best of it. We had our dinghy as we always do tethered to the side of the boat with the engine up and then a chain and lock securing it. We were lucky we did not forget to chain and lock it this night. The front line came off and the dinghy turned backwards only hanging by the locked chain. We had high winds and lots of rain. The dinghy engine started hitting the side of the boat and put a few nicks in it before Bill was able to jump in and turn it around. Mind you he did this in 40 knot winds and big waves.

The next morning we moved to another anchorage with more protection and whale sharks. They are amazing to watch. I even got in the water with one. It was only about 10 feet from me (Be sure to check out the video in the Beyond Links section). They don’t eat people so I felt semi safe. I felt a little sorry for the sharks the next day when a boatload of tourists who were trying to jump on the backs of the sharks to ride them. The panga drivers would trap them in a circle so the tourist could all try to touch them. I enjoyed simply observing them. They are very rare and getting me to ride one would be much rarer still.

Rumor had it that there was a large group of boats coming up to the area we were in so we decided to move along. Our next stop was Isla Mitlan. The anchorage here is a semi circle lined with seven beaches. Sparky loved it here. A new beach to pee on each day of the week. There were not a lot of fish so we checked the weather and decided to make a big jump up to Isla Angel la Guardia and the anchorage of Refugio.

The trip up was pretty brutal but it was very much worth the effort. Talk about untainted beauty. There were so many colors in the mountains, fields of gold, clear turquoise water and tall cactus. One section in between the islands had me in a daze for quite awhile. That is not really a big stretch (me in a daze) but it was certainly awesome. The wind direction made it so this would have been an uncomfortable spot to anchor so we moved on a bit further around the corner. Bummer. We went back several times to visit. Some of the scenery reminded me of an old western movies set. The only thing missing was John Wayne.

The first night in Refugio we experience our second Chubasco. It was a big one! We had 60 knots of wind. Add some rain and the boat spinning around. I would say it would have qualified as a mini hurricane. It lasted several hours with the winds in the 50’s. We had beach chairs flying around the deck but we never heard them. I am not sure how one of them got out of the bag it was in while tied down but Houdini Chair does live on this boat I guess. The bag disappeared some time during the night but all  the chairs are still here. We do prepare for the typical 40 knot Chubascos but this was a bit bigger. There was really not much more that could have been done except to have frozen Margarita mix ready and available. We latched down all the windows and watched the wind meter. Oh yeah I was yelling “Holy crap! Did you see that? 60 Knots!” The boat did handle it well. We lost a few cushions and the chair cover but that’s it. Others in the area had hatches blown off. Oh the dingy filled with lots of water but it faired well.  I am glad there were others in the area so we could call them on the radio on our scheduled check in to be sure everyone was doing okay. They also were able to validate my claims of high winds.

Angel de La Guadia Island had more to offer us than a big Chubasco. We stayed almost a week. I shot my first fish with a pole spear. It was small but you should have seen the one that got away. Giggle giggle. On about our 5th day in the anchorage Bill came up from fishing killing and as he approached the dinghy he was yelling and screaming like a school girl at a Justin Bieber concert. He did this not once but twice. I know he had either found one of the fish he had been hunting for or had lobster. I grabbed the camera and waited for him to arrive. It was great to see him so happy. He had two of the biggest Grouper fish we had ever seen. Thank goodness we have a meal sealer and a good freezer.

Somewhere around our sixth day we woke and said hey let’s go up to San Filipe. Only one boat has gone up there this year. I had started having some stomach pain and we figured with my past histroy I should go get checked out as they have real doctors in San Filipe. My mom did some research online to be sure this would work out for us .

San Felipe is over 100 miles away and to try to break it up the long trip we stopped in Gonzaga Bay for one night. I will just say it was nothing to write home about but nice to be anchored and get some sleep.

 

Thinking our next leg would take us as many as 20 hours we decided to leave at noon so we could have five hours of day light on either end. Well, we caught the current and our boat that normally does an average of 5 knots was doing 7 on average. This brought us in at 1:00 a.m. This is a scary thing because we don’t know the area which is known for being shallow and it has 22 foot tides. We were lucky that George and Tuuli from Albion were still here. We had been in radio contact with them so they were able to guide us in. If they had not been here we for sure would have beached the boat. It is amazing the help you get from other here.

The town of San Filipe is okay but I am not sure it is worth the number of miles traveled to get here. The marina is nearly 3 miles from town and the taxis charge between $5 and $7 each way. Between that and the cost of the marina it can be quite expensive to be here. There is not really much to do here though we did enjoy a couple of treats. We have eaten at most of the places the locals recommended, listened to some street bands (They did play Bills favorite tune “Rancho Grande”) and rented ATV’s.

 

The water in the marina is not clean so you can’t swim. We do let the dog run on the beach on the other side of the break water form the marina. There are a few military boats on the dock, and the military leaves a couple of guys to guard the boats 24/7. They are very polite. One day we laughed at and with the Navy guys when they tried to take off and forgot to untie a line from the dock. They have reciprocated by laughing at and with us when Bill was trying to get a bird off the mast and it crapped all over his bare chest. The marina employees also have brought us some giggles. We walked into the office and found the boss locked in one of the glass offices and they could not find the key. Everyone here has been exceptionally nice.

My tummy issues required us to take a bus up to Mexicali on the 28th.  We had Jorge, one of the security guards at the marina, dog sit for us. We told Sparky he was going to Police Dog Day Camp. It was nice to not worry about him being taken care of.

 

My doctor here in San Filipe requested an MRI for me and Mexicali is the nearest place to get one. We started our day with a taxi ride at 7:00 am and the bus at 7:30. The bus ride was over 4 hours due to 50 plus miles being on a dirt road because Mex-trans or what every they call themselves is rebuilding the highway. It is normally a 2 – 3 hour trip we are told. Once we arrived in Mexicali we ran for a taxi and made it one minute late for my 12 pm appointment. I told the receptionist my name and was rushed off with a young man to a small room. He handed me a paper gown and I was ready to go. I had to ask to use restroom to catch my breathe. In less than five minutes from walking in the door I was strapped to the MRI machine.

 

I am pretty sure I had had one before and it was not big deal but apparently it was not of the same vintage as the machine in Mexicali. There is a reason they prescribe medication to people before having this done. I should have been on drugs as I was sure I had some claustrophobic issues and this proved it.

 

I was given ear plugs and told it would be really loud. Well, they slid me in the machine and told me to only breathe when they said to. Okay I can do this. Well, I could not hear them with ear plugs and it kind of freaked me out a little. I was getting hot and sweaty even though the room was freezing. I told them to stop I need out. They pulled me out. We removed the ear plugs. I was now able to hear them so I talked myself into relaxing. You know the whole blue smoke in pink out. Stay calm. I thought about stalking the fish I killed and all the pretty fish I see while snorkeling. I was doing pretty well. Then they stopped asking me to breathe and not breathe.

 

Thinking they could hear me I asked what was going on. No answer. Panic began to set in. I am in a tube with my arms strapped to my sides and my arms are also touching the side of the tube. My entire body is inside this torture device. My heart begins to race. I have lost he ability to keep calm. I scream with a very deep breath. “HOLA!!!!” Nothing. I wait. .. Nothing. I then yell. “Get me out now!” I wait. Then I begin to think how different my screaming and yelling sound inside this thing. My voice did not seem to carry far. Was it the magnets? I tried to think of a way I could get out on my own. My arms won’t move. I am sure it was only minutes but it felt like hours before the tech opened the door and came in to let me out of the tube.

 

In the Techs hand was a huge needle and syringe. He untied my arm and injected my hand and asked me to keep my arm up while he put me back in. My head was pounding. I was guessing it was to see my blood flow or something. Actually I really don’t know to this day what it was. It certainly was not something to calm me down. As he walked out to continue I told him he has to keep talking to me or I will freak out. He said ” Stress. I know. Relax” Really?

 

I made it out with only a headache and a swollen and very sore hand. When Bill came back he said. “You know while you were in there I swear I could hear you screaming”, but he did not think I really was. I really was. Our next stop was to get me an ice cream.

Upper Sea of Cortez, August 9, 2012

We have been quite busy since the last time I wrote an update. We pulled into the marina in Santa Rosalia and prepared to leave our boat for a week while we were up in California. We only had a couple of days to get things cleaned up, stored and pack for our 8 days away for our daughter’s wedding.

 

We had a few request to act as “mules” bringing things back from the states for other boats. One was to pick up an autopilot, which had been in for repairs for 9 months and belonged to an incredibly nice young Canadian couple on the boat Nyon. Another boat had a shopping list for us at West Marine which included a few much need fans. Being a mule certainly has it’s benefits. Nayon thanked us for our serviced with a bottle of rum. My response was “Perfect!”.

We rented a car to drive up to Nor cal. The reason for traveling this way was because we have Sparky and can not fly or take the bus. The price for the car rental was quite reasonable. We have heard it is actually less than taking a bus.

While up in No Cal we stayed with my mother-in-law, along with our son, his wife and our grandson. It was great to have some family time. I wish we had more time to spend up there but each day away from the boat was costing us, what we call, big money. That is why we drove straight up taking turns driving on the 26 hour trip.

The wedding could not have gone smoother or been more beautiful. Our daughter made every decoration and planned the entire wedding herself. She even baked her own wedding cake.

Once we got back to the boat we were preparing to get out of the marina as quickly as possible. Not only for the expense but also to escape the high humidity and heat. After Bill returned from taking the rental car back in Loreto we went out to eat. Bill had his eye on a specific taco stand but after walking up there it was closed. We selected a cute place with air conditioning. Unfortunately, this was a bad decision for me. With in 30 minutes of returning home I became very sick. I had the symptoms of food poisoning. After four days I broke out the bag of tricks from our doctor back home. I took 2 Cipiro as directed and all was well. I wish I had done it sooner. Trying to help Bill with the installation of the new radar was quite challenging while not feeling well, but we got it done and love the new set up. I am sure he will give plenty of details on his version.

The afternoon before we left we took the last fuel appointment and stayed on the fuel dock until we were ready to leave at midnight. Just before we took off I took Sparky up for a walk to do his “business”. As soon as I got to the top of the stairs at the dock I came face to face with a Mexican military soldier. He looked as startled as I did. Well, okay, I may have been more startled because he had a machine gun with his finger on the trigger and did not look much more than 15 years old. We were both relieved when we realized neither of us was a threat to the other. He was there guarding the fuel tanks. In Mexico all the fuel is owned by the government. I was on federal property but was given permission to be there from the marina which runs the fuel station at the dock.

Shortly after midnight we headed north on our 78 mile trip along with two other boats. Another two left for the same destination six hours later. On the way we saw a pod of 40 plus Pilot Whales. These have a reputation for attacking boats but we faired well. Later we saw a Whale Shark, and a plain old Grey Whale. There were also several hundred dolphins among the three pods we saw. We pulled into our anchorage around cocktail hour because we always try to plan our days this way.  We have been to San Francisquito before and it is even more beautiful than I remember it. The fishing here is excellent.

We met up with our Australian friends Chris and Maggie, here. We went to their boat for “tea”. Actually, it was coffee with some yummy banana muffins filled with craisins and walnuts. A couple nights later they came over for dinner. It was great to catch up with them and listen to their adventures. They have sailed around the world.

On my birthday eve, Bill and I decided to do some fish killing and snorkeling. We had fish for dinner from the previous days catch so Bill was being picky about his killing. I followed behind him quite a ways just snorkeling. I saw some beautiful vibrant blue and yellow coral along with several brightly colored fish. I was feeling really comfortable and starting thinking about learning to spear fish on my own. I started following a couple fish that I know are good to eat. They were much bigger than the ones Bill brought home the day before. Hmmm I should learn to hunt these guys….

Then it happened. I was stung by a jellyfish on my right shoulder. That certainly meets the 10 level of pain! I swam back to the dinghy faster than Mark Spitz. (sorry I am old and can’t remember any other swimmer names) I climbed in and took off as quick as I could to get Bill. In my best sailor potty mouth I told him I was stung. He quickly swam to the dinghy and jumped in. He took me back to the boat at full throttle. The pain was very intense. I asked for vinegar, which we keep in a spray bottle, I sprayed it and no relief. Then Bill got out the ammonia and spread that on. It got worse. I then asked for the bottle of rum.

I started drinking a rather large amount. At this point Bill felt inclined to get the camera and then the first aid book. It turns out the vinegar was the right thing along with a credit card to scrape the area. Bill was able to get off a tentacle that was still on me. It was blue indicating a Man of War jellyfish. I have some welts left and still a bit of pain after seven hours. Perhaps I needed more rum. We now have a bottle of vinegar in the dinghy for any future stings.

Passing time

Friday, July 13, 2012
6:00 PM

We have been out at San Marcos Island for about a week. I say about because quite honestly I do have a serious problem keeping track of dates. We have enjoyed some time diving and visiting the company town that is at the gypsum mine.

 

This is one of the few places we have revisited that seems to remain the same. I was hesitant to go because so far nearly every place we have revisited has not been the same and usually in a bad way. We heard rumor that the mine had been shut down and the store with the “counter o’ beef” was gone. It is a good thing we think for ourselves and rarely listen to others. The company store on the island was not only open they begged me to come in even though I had the dog with me. Everyone we crossed paths with said hello with a big smile. It was refreshing to see all was well there. We did get a giggle out of the fact that this is a dry town and no alcohol is allowed. We saw a few sunken beer cans just outside the anchorage in front of the town. At least they were not rum drinkers. I hate it when they get a bad rap.

I fail to mention earlier that the sea life in this area has changed quite a bit from our last visit a few years ago. On a good note we have seen a lot of coral making a come back. The Morey eels seem to be gone along with the octopus and squid. Last time we visited Santa Rosilia the  squid were plentiful and a major source of income. We heard that the squid left after a major hurricane that hit a few years ago. Our opinion is that they fished them out. Today in the harbor there must be a hundred pangas that once fished squid just sitting and wasting away.

Santa Rosalia has reopened the copper mine which is employing many people. It is kind of exciting to see the workers all lined up for the company bus. On an evening walk we notice this and each of the men had a bag with toothpaste, toothbrushes and deodorant that looked like they were issued by the company. Several times a day the bus would come by and pick up these workers and return other who promptly went to the bank making for long lines at the ATM. We heard rumor that the copper mine had shut down because they could not make payroll. Again misinformation. We saw for ourselves that it was up and running.

Be sure to check out the Dude version for a good read about wang dandlers and tokers. I will add my little bit to Bills update: ” Dude, if I am anchored here first and you can hear me blasting the Chipmunks version of Love Shack you are too close. Also, if I can tell you are naked, you are too close.” Please respect the fact that I was here first. I would never anchor close enough to you just so I could see your wang a danlin’.

 

OOOPS!

Sunday, July 08, 2012
6:59 AM

I received an email from our daughter in reference to a posting I made on Facebook. Apparently I had our daughters wedding date wrong. It is a week earlier than I thought. This meant the reservation we had with the marina to leave our boat would not work for us. The morning after the party we had to pull up anchor and head north a little quicker than we would have liked. Especially after meeting some great people we wanted to spend some time with. The goal was to head to Santa Rosalia as quickly as possible and get a marina lined up as well as a rental car. It took us three days but we made it to Santa Rosalia and have all our reservations made. We won’t be leaving for about a week. To get to the wedding Bill will have to take a bus 3 hours south to pick up the rental car because Loretto is the nearest place and unfortunately there is no marina there. We have to take a rental car up because we can not fly or take the bus with the dog. We plan to leave early the next morning for the 12 plus hour drive to San Diego. There we will pick up our son and his family and drive another 12 hours to the wedding. I hope we don’t fall asleep during the ceremony. If so I hope we will be forgiven.

I am looking forward to seeing my family but will welcome not having a schedule to meet once we get back to the boat. This morning I will make a quick run into town to pick up some produce and then we will head out to the island of San Marcos for the next week. There is excellent diving there calling our names.

4th of July Party

Sunday, July 08, 2012
5:55 AM

After leaving Agua Verde we headed north for the annual party at Geary’s Palapa. Geary is the guy that provides weather for the HAM radio net. Each year on the 4th of July he provides 300 hot dogs, chili, tables, chairs and tents. Us cruisers bring a potluck dish. The long day of eating and drinking is topped off with a fireworks show, also provided by Geary. This event is looked forward to by nearly 30 boats each year. This year there was a record number of people.

The party is located in El Burro cove. Yes, there is a burro that lives there. I giggle each time I hear him. El Burro is known as one of the hottest places in the Sea of Cortez. We stayed the night at the entrance to the Bay of Conception where El Burro is located. While checking into the radio net we were told we were just outside the oven door. This prompted us to stay outside one more day. Not a bad idea considering the anchorage there at Santo Domingo is a beautiful place. We spent a lot of time in the water there.

We arrived in El Burro several days before the party allowing us to pick up some prime anchoring real estate. We chose one side of the anchorage with a bleach bottle tied to a mooring. It turns out it was marking three sunken boats put there to build up a reef. Later two boat anchored right over them. So much for the idea of no one anchoring right next to us. For all I know they are still there with their anchors caught on the wrecks.

There is no place to pick up pesos with in walking distance so we got a ride into town with some people we met that live in a palapa on the beach. I must say I seriously thought I might die on that ride. The driver was about my dad’s age but his driving reaction time was quite a bit slower than my dad’s. While attempting to pass a flatbed semi on the inside of a blind corner on a hill his comment was. “I need to pass this guy. Awww nobody comes around this corner that fast at this time of day.” At that moment the semi who was just pulling onto highway 1 pulled into the lane we in trying to pass in. Mind you this did not prompt the old guy to use his brake and we were going pretty fast. It may have been better for us to have hitch hiked. Mind you I am grateful for the ride. We needed to get into Mulege to the ATM as we only had 60 pesos left. While in Mulege we ate at Las Casitas. It was quite relaxing. The patio is completely shaded with palms. There were some colorful flowers as well and lots of plants in very large pots. We sat next to the water fountain and enjoyed the sound of it with the spa like music they were playing. The food was excellent too.

About four years ago we attended Geary’s party. It is a great place to meet other cruisers. We met several people that we really liked and look forward to sharing an anchorage with them. Of course there was one person I would be all to happy to not see again. That would be the guy that told me to “Put a clamp on that dogs mouth”. Apparently, he did not care to hear Sparky growl when the guy doing the fire ball show lit himself on fire. Mind you Sparky was not barking he simply growled. If the old guy was not sitting right next to me he would not have even heard him. Even with this curmudgeon we had a great time. There was a lady there older than my mom in a bikini walking around with a cookie sheet of Jello shooters. This was her potluck dish. I really should have taken a photo of her but I am sure your imagination is just as good. I could not help but wonder if this would be me in 50 years.

 

Agua Verde

Wednesday, June 20, 2012
11:28 AM

We chose an anchorage just outside of Agua Verde Proper. This was a place we had not stayed before . It is a pretty large cove with lots of room for the boat to roam about on the anchor at night. At the end of the cove is a nice sand beach about a quarter of a mile long. We have the cove to ourselves and the beach too. Behind the beach is ranch land. It would make for a good movie set with all the sage brush and tall cactus. The water clarity is quite impressive. We can see the sand bottom 22 feet beneath the boat. The water temperature is 79 degrees which makes it perfect for swimming. We took a dinghy ride in to the main anchorage and saw our friends on Tantori. We invited them over to check out private cove.

Right around cocktail hour they arrived. We shared some beverages on our boat and then headed to the beach for a fire and to BBQ some hot dogs.  Before leaving Tori and I made some macaroni and cheese. I know this is twice in one week but we are on a bit of a mac and cheese kick. I am not talking boxed mac and cheese. We did not get back to the boat until nearly midnight. Needless to say we had a good time.

In the morning we took the dinghy over to make sure Roger and Tori made it back to their boat okay the night before. They fixed breakfast for us and we shared a few more laughs about the night before. The wind has kicked up a bit today so we are mostly just hanging out on the boat. The boat is sitting pretty still considering the 22 knots of wind we have.

Espiritu Santos

Friday, June 15, 2012
4:45 AM

With all the recent stress it was time to start enjoying life a bit. We went to Isla Espirtu Santos. We have been there several times but this time we anchored in a cove we have not yet been to. There is an opening at the end of the cove which allows passage through to the other side in the dinghy. At that opening is a small fishing village. The houses are nicely painted and all have solar panels and some also have TV satellite dishes. Another thing to make you say hmmm. They don’t have running water or indoor plumbing and only have solar power but they do have satellite TV.

Our next destination was a place I have had my eye on for many years. The island San Francisco and the anchorage I had my eye on is known as “The Hook”. It has a beautiful white sand beach and clear turquoise water. We only stayed one night there because it was a bit of a rolly anchorage. While we were walking on the beach there I found a Paper Nautilus shell. They are one of the most prized shells to find on the beach down here. I know a lady who has been looking for one down here for 10 years and still has not found one. I feel pretty lucky.

In search for a calmer spot we moved to the north side of San Francisco. Just north of San Francisco is a small island with a fishing village. We went over by dinghy to check it out and hoped to find some lobsters to buy. The people on the island were very friendly and gave us the nickel tour. While there were no lobsters there were lots of beaded jewelry. I picked up a couple of pieces. Once back at the boat we finished up the repair on the jib. (for unsalted peeps that is the big sail at the front of the boat)

In the morning we moved north a few mile for a temporary anchorage to allow us to explore the mangroves. This was a great experience. The waterways turned out to be much bigger than I expected. I was like a two hour Disney Jungle Ride. It was hard to believe we were in the Sea of Cortez. It looked very much like the Sacramento River. When we returned to the boat we had to move to a calmer anchorage which was across the channel at San Everisto. We had been there before about five years ago. It has changed quite a bit. We chose to move on and anchor on the north side out of the cove. The waters were much calmer and we did not have any neighbors. Bill took the dinghy to shore and then walked over the hill into the village. He was able to buy eggs, tomatoes, onions and Pablano peppers.

Another day another anchorage. That seems to have been the theme for a while now. We decided to change things up a bit and stay in one spot for a few days. We chose Los Gatos for this. I find it interesting that all the names of the anchorages in this area are names of towns where I grew up. While the city of Los Gatos in California has many red brick buildings this Los Gatos has natures version of red brick. The cliffs are like none I have seen before. I could give you a thousand words or just show you a picture which would be better.

When we arrived there was one other boat in the cove. A couple we had met on the beach at “The Hook”. They had one beach for themselves and we had the other separated by a large rock formation. In the evening we went to their boat to say hello. They thanked us for giving them space and invited us aboard. Their boat name is Tantori for a very tan Tori. We ended up staying for a couple of hours. Perhaps that was because they had air conditioning. We love meeting new people and listening to their plans and dreams.

We spent a lot of time walking the rocks, looking at the tides pools and a lot of time swimming around the boat. Each day after our swim session we would shower, have a cocktail, cook dinner and watch the sunset. All the work we had recently done has certainly paid off.

A couple more boats joined the cove and we began to feel it was too crowded so we decided to move on. We moved only a few miles north where we enjoyed a day of nothing. Just laying around reading. We took a dinghy ride to see if there were some good anchorages that have not been added to the cruisers guide book. We did find a nice spot but it would only be good in good weather. We also found a little oasis with palms. We were going to land on the beach there but discovered a barbed wire fence and a couple of cows under the trees. This was a surprise considering we are out in the middle of no where.

Today we will move north to Agua Verde. It is a beautiful place but is often very crowded. We are slowly making our way north to El Burro Cove. That is where we met some great people during Easter week. It is also the place of Geary’s palapa. He runs the Sonrisa net which is a HAM radio net. Each year he puts on a 4th of July party. He supplies the hot dogs and the rest is pot luck. At night there are fireworks. The only thing that will be missing is the hand cranked ice cream that we used to make with our kids. This was a tradition I had in my childhood too.

Getting out of town

Friday, June 15, 2012
3:43 AM

Getting out of town proved to be a little more challenging than expected. Boy are we lucky. No sarcasm intended. We decided to stay an extra day to meet the Bumfuzzles, (unsalted friend-that is their boat name which is used like a last name in the salted world), I am glad we did too. Meeting them in person was like another shot of caffeine in my coffee. They have a great deal of enthusiasm for life. Some how, Ali is able to get into my thick skull and make me question some of my fears. She does this with her ever present smile and two small children demanding her full attention. I was getting exhausted just watching her. When we parted our separate ways I left with a bit their enthusiasm and hopefully they left with some gratification that they have made a difference in the life of the Beyond Reasons.

We had planned to leave early in the morning. The boat on the other hand had other plans. Perhaps it was buying into the fact that La Paz is known as “The Vortex” and once you arrive you never leave. We were determined this would not happen us. We woke up early ready to hit the exit door. Not a minute after the anchor was up Bill told me to hurry up and drop it again. Hmmm we are in the middle of the channel and that is not a safe thing to do. I followed his request and we anchored just to the outside of the channel. It turns out we had blown a belt which stopped the water from flowing out the engine and messed with the electrical. Okay no problem we have spares and lots of them.

 

As it turned out all the spares were the wrong size. We had a new bracket made a while back which changed things just enough to require a different belt. Again no problem, the auto store is just up the street. Oh wait, it is Sunday. Not all stores are open on Sunday. That would mean Bill would have to walk a few miles to get the belts. Before he left he put on a belt that was just a tad too big but worked well enough to get us re-anchored. In doing so we realized there was still not enough water coming out. That could only mean one thing. The impeller needed to be replaced and we had the right part for that.

While Bill was gone I was sitting in the cockpit wondering why we have so many problems but kept reminding myself we were in the best possible place for everything to go wrong because we could get parts fairly easily. Okay, my mind is at ease now and suddenly I hear a very loud pop followed by a hissing. One of the propane hoses popped off. I jumped up and turn the propane off and caught my breath after saying a few words.

When Bill returned with arms full of belts of all the right sizes for every possible need I had to add this new problem. Oh, I did forget to mention that we blew a hose for the water to the engine that needed to be replaced as well.  All the hoses on the engine were replace except this one. Not only did the hose need replacing but the coupling too. That was another trip into town. In search for the coupling Bill met up with a boat owner who has a large selection of such items for sale or as we say down here trade. Buying and selling is illegal for non citizens without proper papers. He also met up with our friend Alex who drove him in to a place to get the propane fittings. This was the hose and fitting bought from West Marine in the states. The other tank has parts from Mexico and is still in excellent shape. Now both are.

Bill worked nearly 24 hours straight to get all these things fixed. He was tired, sweaty and smelly when we finally left the next morning. The radar was the only thing that was not fixed and was the item that took the most money to try to fix. We have decided a new system is in our future.

Feels like a month

Saturday, June 09, 2012
7:50 AM

We have been in La Paz for two weeks but it feels like a month. When we arrived in La Paz we were on a mission to get some major repairs done. Both the radar and transmission work required us to be in a marina. I have mentioned before how much I hate being in marinas. I don’t like living in such close quarters with others. It is like moving from a large ranch to an apartment. Fortunately we had some pretty fantastic neighbors so it was not too horrible.

The first day here we anchored outside the marina until we could find a slip. The marina we preferred was full so we walked to the next one. It was siesta hour so no luck there. It was then that we saw our friend’s boat. Alex and Sue have been in contact with us on Skype and were expecting us and were ready to help us get set up with some good people to fix our issues. Alex seems to be well connected here. With four phone calls he had us set up to be in the marina a few slips down from him, got an appointment with the transmission mechanic, the radar tech, and checked us in with the port captain. If we tried to do this on our own it would have taken several days. Once we moved to the slip they had us over for dinner and drinks. It was great to catch up with them.

Being back to La Paz had me drooling as I walked up to the Bravo Market. This is the place to buy meat and vegetables at very good prices. What had me drooling was the memory of the best bacon I have ever eaten. They slice it to the thickness of your choice and it has the best smoky flavor you can get. I found myself sniffing the bag on the way back to the boat. A new discovery here was Rib-Eye steaks for close to $3.00 U.S. a pound. This prompted us to pick up a new food vacuum sealer and pack the freezer.

As I was walking along sniffing my bacon I noticed a swim suit shop. A new suit was on my list of things to get in La Paz. We went in and discovered Allesandra who designs and sews all the suits in the store. Most were made for those about half my thickness. We asked if she had any that were mas grande and were told no so we left. A minute later she came running down the street to tell us to come back. We did and she ended up making two custom suits for me. I put a lot of miles on my feet walking back and forth to her shop. She gave me her Facebook info and now I know why. She is like a crack dealer. Each day she posts a picture of a new design she has created. You know I had to go back and pick up the Marilyn Monroe inspired design. It felt good to be supporting a business that was not there to cater to gringos. Allesandra is a young beautiful girl fulfilling her dream and I was happy to help her do that and challenge her to sew for a bacon filled belly.

Each morning while in the marina we were greeted by our transmission mechanic.  Pulling the transmission out of the boat is not an easy task to say the least. There is no room to work with and it take two people to do the job. I can’t say enough good things about Colin the mechanic. He and Bill got along quite nicely and they bantered like an old married couple. Colin would say exactly what he was thinking and Bill would toss something right back. I just sat back and laughed. It was most entertaining when they did not know I was just outside and could hear everything they were saying. I had know idea how many cuss words one could get in during the span of a minute. He did a great job and was very reasonable with his fee. On occasion he would bring his little girl Blanchita. A small white (at one time, as it is a Mechanic Dog) Poodle. Sparky got along nicely with her. She was a very sweet girl. We really are missing them with today being the first day Colin was not here for coffee in the morning. It is very quiet without him around. We hope to stay in touch and see him again should we pass this way.

It has been pretty hot here but for some reason we seem to always end up walking many miles through town in the heat of the day. We have tried several new eating establishments that we had not tried the last time we were here. Some were better than others. The Chiva de Oro falls in the better category. They cook the goat in the ground right there. It cooks overnight and makes for a very scrumptious meal. This is not a place where gringos hang out which makes it even better. The places we enjoy most are those where they only speak Spanish and are not next to the marina. We feel we are getting a better taste of Mexico this way.

The good side of being tied to the dock was the unlimited use of water and electricity. This allowed us to get the boat back into the condition we want. Fortunately the marina we were in does not frown on major boat work being done while in your slip. We were allowed to pull the dinghy out of the water and leave it on the dock for a few days while I painted the bottom with antifouling paint (for my unsalted friends, that keep barnacles from growing on it). Bill sanded and varnished almost all the teak. We worked with our neighbors on our work schedules as they were all doing work too and we would not want to sand on their paint day. I think I may have gotten rid of the last of the plastic threads from the tarp that was used while the boat was in storage. Easter grass has nothing on that stuff even though they are similar. Quite often while I was inside, making covers for everything we have that stays in the sun but was not yet covered, Bill would tell me to “Sew! Sew like the wind.” A favorite line from Three Amigos. I did just that.

Once we had the transmission fixed we were ready to leave the marina. The radar repair has been a bit stressful and I am not going to talk about that just yet. We plan to head up into the upper Sea of Cortez for the summer where we will enjoy a 4th of July Party, Full Moon Party and many private anchorages. The end of July will have us renting a car driving back to California to attend our daughter’s wedding and visiting family. There are not many places to buy food on our way north so I took an offer from our slip neighbor Sandy to take me to Sam’s Club and Wal Mart in her car (riding is a car is a real treat for us). This allowed me to stock up on some items we enjoy having but are unable to get from the local grocery store. One such item is Schweppes tonic water. After our shopping adventure I treated Sandy and her granddaughter to lunch at a place of their choice. We went to Fish Tacos La Paz. If only I had discovered this place sooner… We had met Sandy and John on Masquerade while we were in Mazatlan about four years ago. We both had our boat on the hard (for those unsalted peeps that is out of the water on stands). It is a small world sometimes.

This afternoon we will meet a couple who inspired me to make this whole cruising thing happen. About six years ago I started reading the blog of Bumfuzzle. A young couple who bought a boat and sailed around the world with very little experience. I would read their blog at work any chance I could. I became addicted to their blog. Bill has always talked about going cruising and we had invested in many things for the boat to set it up for that but it was always someday. I was really not sold on the idea until I started reading Bumfuzzle’s blog. I asked Bill about financing such and adventure and he said no problem we could certainly do it. To his surprise I called his bluff and gave a one year notice at my job and expected him to do the same. A year and a half later we were on our way. We cruised for a year and half and had to return home to earn some cash and now we are back. I have continued to follow the Bumfuzzles. Now a family of four. Today we will actually meet. They are here in La Paz. Some days I say they inspired me and other days I say it is their fault.

Time to get serious

Saturday, May 26, 2012
7:28 AM

It is just another issue. This boat seems to be behaving like a teenager. Lots of attitude and never seems to behave at the right time. As I have mentioned before the radar has not been working. We have been using the GPS on it so it is running often. A few weeks back the radar decided it wanted to start working. This allowed us to ease our minds and slow down our dash to La Paz to get it fixed. We decided to head out to Isla Montserrat. It is a beautiful place with yellow cliffs and a white sand beach the shore is filled with some interesting shell. I found some that looked like fake fingernails. I have decided to start a new fashion trend on the Baja.

After a little play time we felt it was time to move on south but the weather was not participating with us so it was back to Candelaros. This time we did go up to the fancy shmancy hotel. Typically these types of places are not very friendly to smelly old boat people but this one appears to be, I think I know why. The hotel does not have many guests and they are using us boat people as fillers. It was a nice place but nothing over the top. We found it strange that they did not have music playing. There was just a strange vacant feel to the whole place.

Our next boat issue showed up in the form of a transmission fluid leak. Now it was time to get serious about heading to La Paz. We listened to all the weather reports and they all said the wind would be in our favor allowing us to use the engine as little as possible. As a precaution we loaded up on transmission fluid just to be sure and had a friend bring us some when he made a run up to Loreto.

On the trip down we spent one night in Los Gatos which I really liked and could have stayed a few days there. While there we were invited over to the boat Beverly S for wine, cheese and crackers. Well it ended up with Gin and tonic, cheese and crackers. It had been a very long time since we had a gin and tonic and it was sure good but not as good as meeting some very nice new friends (Larry and Sue). They have made the switch from sailboat to power boat and it was nice to have peek into “the other side”. I wish we had more time with them but they are heading back up to the states.

Our second night was spent in another old salt mining cove. Again this was shut down many years ago as well. I have to say the glossy photos in the cruisers guide looked much nicer than the place we saw. One interesting thing about this place was hundreds of large coral heads on the beach. 

The last stop before La Paz was on the island of Espiritu Santos. It was just as beautiful as I remembered it was the last time we were down here. Bill did an excellent job selecting our anchorage. There are some crazy winds in the area of La Paz that are called coromuels. They typically blow through the night but seem to still be present in the day at times. The spot Bill selected had us completely protected from the winds and the waves they create.

Easing into our groove

Sunday, May 13, 2012
9:21 AM

We can now say we have experienced the Loreto Fest, which is not really in Loreto. It takes place is Puerto Escondido. We stayed the three days of the Fest. It is one of those things I am glad I did but would not do again. There were some good points to it but really we could have had as much or more of a good time in an anchorage away from the Gringo Fest. During the Fest we volunteered to work in the food booth for two hours. This earned us comp tickets for food and beverage. Enough to get us each three beers and three hot dogs or six beers. We settled for two hot dogs each and four beers over two days.

The adult puppet show was quite entertaining. I had been looking forward to the show. We met Jim who put on the show while we were in Punta Chivato. He’s a real nice guy. and the only one I have ever met who has pole dancing puppets on his boat. Oh, there was a wardrobe malfunction during the show.

I heard on the radio net that there would be a jewelry making seminar and wanted to attend. Bill dropped me off on shore for a few hours to attend. It turns out they changed the time and I ended up in a fishing seminar. imagine that.  At the seminar I learned to make my own lures and a few other tricks. One of the lures is made out of a beer can. I can’t  imagine where we will get those, but I will store that information for a later date.  The other was from store bought items. I lost the lovely pink lure I made while out trolling by myself waiting for Bill to spear fish. I think the fish that took my lure was a Gar Fish of some sort. I almost had him in the boat when the swivel broke. Note to self, check my equipment before fishing and don’t buy things that say “Made in China”.

After the Gringo Fest we headed out to Bahia Salinas. Another beautiful place. White sand beaches and water so clear we could see the individual chain link marks in the sand 20 feet below. This is also the first place we have seen large schools of Puffer Fish. The remains of an old salt mine and salt ponds made this a great place to explore. They shipped salt world wide. I do not know the opening date but judging by the things we saw I would say maybe the 1940’s. The salt mine closed in 1980.

 

When we arrived on shore to explore we saw a couple of caretakers and Bill greeted them with two cold beers which I am sure helped in them allowing us to explore with our dog along. There is a clear sign in Spanish and English that says “No Dogs”. Sparky was happy to tag along even though it was quite hot for him. Later in the afternoon a few catamarans showed up and we knew one of them. We went to say hello and were invited to join them on one of the larger boats for a musical jam session. Okay it was really a bunch of white folks with no rhythm. Thanks goodness they had the sing along with Jimmy Buffet on the their iPod.

 

The next morning we took Sparky for a walk on the beach Bill discovered turtle tracks leading from the water to the dunes. We followed it to a turtle nest and then back into the water. Another first of things I have never seen before.

 

After the dog walk and the turtle discovery we checked out the salt flats and Bill forced me to into trying to make a “Salt Angel”.  I don’t know that it turned out very good, but the salt scrub on my arms was terrific.

 

Bahia Salinas was a very cool place but does not offer protection from the winds we were expecting so we decided to move to the place we went to on our night out in the winds a few weeks earlier. Before leaving we went and checked out the sunken 120 foot Tuna boat that is partially out of the water. The water was so clear there was no reason to get in we saw most of the boat and lots of fish from the dinghy.

Our next stop was Bahia Cobre which is Copper Bay in English. At first I was not all that excited about going here because it did not have the white sand beaches I love. It turned out to be a beautiful change. The cliffs surrounding the anchorage were shades of green, purple, and yellow. The rocks were very interesting. One of our fun things to do while sitting up on the front porch during our evening cocktail hour is to find figures in the different shaped rocks. The same as you would do with clouds.

 

The fishing along the cliffs was excellent. I had a chance to practice my trolling skills. It can be a challenge to not hit the rocks while holding my pole and driving the dinghy. I wasn’t having any luck when I saw Bill holding what looked like his fins up above his head. He typically spear fishes while I troll. Fearing something was wrong. I rushed over to him. I even set my pole down and held it with my foot. I never even brought the line in because I was worried about Bill. Just before I got to him I heard my line click out. Hmmm fish on! No time for that. I gave it a tug and put it down and kept going to Bill.

 

It turns out it was not his fins above his head. It was a monster fish! I won’t go into details on that because I am sure his version will be much more interesting. Oh, and yes I did have a fish who never even got it’s picture taken (except to compare sizes in fillets) because the monster fish took all the attention. Needless to say we ate well that night and will for about a week.

Today is Mother’s Day. Happy Mother’s Day to all you mommy’s out there. Last night we stayed in an anchorage just around the corner from Cobre. We met Jeff and Dorie from Journey and had them over for a beverage. I do believe Bill was recruited to be a Ham Radio Net controller on Sundays. I believe that will start in June.

 

We are currently on our way back to Escondido to get fuel for the dinghy. We realized that we really don’t have three weeks worth and the next place it will be available will be in La Paz. We plan to only be in Escondido for 30 minutes before heading to Candleros. Candleros is the home of a huge time share hotel that provides excellent free internet in the anchorage. It was not there three years ago when we were there. I am told with the purchase of a beverage you can use the facilities which include three swimming pools, all surrounded by palm trees. The problem with this is the beers are $5.00 each. That is US dollars. Our friends had dinner there and it was $200 for the two of them. Wine is $10 a glass. We will be happy to skip this expense and use their internet and in the morning we will be heading south.

 

Once we leave in the morning we will only have Ham Radio email for the next three weeks or so, life could be worse.

 

Paradise Found

Friday, May 04, 2012
4:25 AM

We finally made it out of the trailer park, aka mooring field. We left in the early morning after topping off our tanks with water from the marina dock. When we left we had no idea where we were going. The first decision was to pick which lure to put on the line. Once that was done we talked about the best anchorage for the winds that may or may not show up in an anchorage. We were so happy to be out of the trailer park we did not really care where we went. The big decision for us was making a choice to go north. Hmmm how far north? Do we go to Loreto and get some things we need from the stores? Okay truly we have no needs for the first time in a long time. An hour or so into the trip we decided on Isla Coronado. We had passed this island by the last time we were down here. It did not look like much more than a dry island with rocks from the volcano on it when we passed it by. We were so wrong.

White sand beaches and clear warm turquoise water surround the island. There is also lots of marine life. The dolphins put on a show every night as sun sets. They jump completely out of the water which makes me giggle with delight. There is also a whale just outside the anchorage that has been slapping his tail. I have been told they do this to stun the fish so they can eat them.

Bill being the adventurous guy he is decided he needed to climb to the top of the volcano. Using Sparky and his aging old bones as excuse I stayed behind. We spent some time on the beach and watched Bill disappear into the rough terrain. About an hour and a half later I got a call on the radio from Bill saying he made it to the top. I took out the binoculars and sure enough he was there. He was also disappointed that there was no cone or anything else to indicate this was truly a volcano. After hearing about the non -trail up there I am glad I stayed behind. At one point Bill had turned back and gave up but then decided he was going to do it.

We met Bill back at the beach with lunch and beverages. After watching our silly dog walk down the beach get in the water and swim to the other end of the beach, then walk down the beach again and do this over and over, we went for a dinghy ride. We found an Osprey nest and rocks with lots of character or should I say shaped like characters?

Back at the boat I made chicken pot pie with the chicken we had left from barbequing the night before. We watched the sunset and dolphin show. At the same time the International Space Station was passing over. That was cool to see.

Today we head back to Puerto Escondido where we had been for the last three weeks. There is a big three day festival we had planned to attend and do some volunteer work. I am told there will be an “adult” puppet show. That should be interesting but truly I would be just as happy to stay here in paradise.

Oh Happy Day!

Sunday, April 29, 2012
8:56 AM

Things are finally starting to come together for us. Our friends on the sailboat Faith had a friend coming down who was willing to be our “mule”. It was pretty brilliant of Bill to order up the special washers for the diesel leak and have them sent to our mule as well as to us by UPS overnight. They were ordered two weeks ago or so. The overnight package has yet to show up but our “mule” aka Patty arrived with the washers and a part for our generator. We decide to wait until morning to work on both the main engine and generator. In less than an hour Bill had the diesel leak fixed and the generator giving us about double the amps we were getting before. Now that these things are fixed we are able to take off for some lovely anchorage that are not overly crowded like this mooring field. A friend described the crowded living condition as trailer park living. You can hear your next door neighbors every word.

Because we have paid up until Wednesday and can not get credit if we leave early and we made some cocktail hour commitments we will stay until then. The plan is to return on Friday for the three day festival here. After that we plan to not return to Puerto Escondido.

Our friend Josh, who is here helping his dad out with the boat he just purchased, had taken us off on a little excursion. This was a nice distraction while waiting for our parts to not show up. Josh has a truck down here and took us to what we were told is a biker bar. We were expecting a run down rough looking place with lots of character. Instead it appeared to be a duplication of an amusement park in San Jose called Frontier Village. The bar is actually not named Frontier Village but Del Borachos. There are a few seats at the bar that are horse saddles. Out back you can find a mechanical bull. The bar tender told us there was a bus arriving soon with 60 school kids. They were coming to see the start line for the upcoming Baja race. School kids coming to a biker bar? Maybe this place should be reclassified. Don’t get me wrong it was a nice place just not what we expected. The bartender was quite helpful in giving us some pointers for our next stop, Mission San Javier. On our way out we said we would be back but were informed they would be closed at 6:00 p.m. . I was later told they close early so people would not drink and drive at night.

The drive up to the mission was quite long. The road was sometimes there and sometimes not. Fortunately Josh has a 4WD truck. We did go off road a bit for the fun of it. It scared the heck out of me. I was sure my life would end by going over a cliff. As you can see it did not, although I woke up with nightmares that same night.

The mission was very interesting. It was built in 1699. The bartender at Del Boracho had told us about an olive tree down a dirt path behind the mission. The olive tree is older than the church. It was quite a gnarly sight. Under the tree sat two locals drinking beers. They offered the three of us up a beer and we sat with them and listened to the local knowledge of San Javier. There is a natural spring here which allows them to farm in the middle of the desert. A well planned out cement irrigation system runs through out the small town and appear to have been there for hundreds of years. The water is not drinkable because the tables are low and it has not rained there for four years now. One of the guys said he owns three of the farms there. They grow pinto beans , corn , squash and potatoes.

It was getting a bit late so we decide to grab some dinner before the trip back down the mountains. We walked in to a place the locals suggested. There sat mama watching her soap opera. The restaurant appeared to be her living room and dining room. It was quite obvious she did not want to miss a single word of her soap opera. She painfully took our order while keeping one eye on her television.

By the time we returned to the boat it was nearly 10:00 p.m.. It was a great way to spend the day waiting for things to not show up.

Killing Time

Thursday, April 19, 2012
5:12 PM

We are going on week two or three here in Puerto Escondido. Typically we do not stay in marinas for very long but we are waiting on some parts so we can get things back to where they need to be. It gets frustrating to have to constantly have something not working as we wish. Bill has gone through several phases of frustration. He is currently is in the same phase as Clark Griswald in Christmas Vacation. You know the part where he is silly with happiness even though everything possible is going wrong for him. I am waiting for him to find some reindeer to kick.

Currently we are expecting an overnight package with the correct washers to stop our diesel leak in the injectors. As a back up we have a friend of a friend bringing down some of the same washers. This way even if our package does not arrive we have a back up plan. My fingers and toes are crossed that these will take care of the leak. We are paid up for a week more here and then we hope to head out to some of the many islands in the area. On the weekend of May 4th, 5th and 6th there is a big festival here. We are looking forward to that. I am told they have blindfolded dinghy races. That sounds like fun but we do not want to risk being injured so we will pass on that and be spectators.

With the upcoming festival the mooring field is getting crowded. Not my cup of tea. Perhaps today our overnight package that was ordered over a week ago will show up.

Heading South

Friday, April 06, 2012
9:03 PM

The morning after staying at Santo Domingo we pulled up anchor and headed around the corner and south. On the way we saw something I am sure very few had seen before. A Whale Shark with babies! Unfortunately my photography skills are horrible. I tried to get video but it did not come out too good. I should have tried for still photos. The babies looked like giant catfish with big mouths. I still can not believe we saw this. I only with I had an internet connection so I could research them creatures a bit more.

We had a nice sail down to San Juanico. The only complaint I have about it was that there were 16 other boats there. It was quite crowded. I prefer less crowded anchorages. It was certainly understandable why there were so many boats. This place was beautiful. There are many large rocks that are several stories tall scattered around the bay. The beaches are fine white sand. On shore we found some mangroves and a fresh water lagoon along with lots of hiking trails. This place would be a paradise for kayakers for sure. This is where we spent Easter Sunday.  Instead of have Easter dinner with family we substituted by inviting all the boats to join us for a fire on the beach at sunset with cocktails. Not only did we have a great time so did all those who came. We had four dogs running around chasing each other and playing in the water. Sparky’s social skills have come along recently.

We met several interesting people in Juanico. Just a sample of those are a lady with a Portuguese Water Dog who uses a small sail boat to get to shore and her dog swims behind her. She also wrote a history book about Pt. Reyes in California where I have done lots of backpacking. A young man who is able to spend half the year sailing and the other half working as a stage hand for the San Francisco Ballet and Theater. Also, there was the couple who flew to New Zealand to purchase and sail their dream boat back to California. Typically is it really not acceptable to ask anyone out cruising what they did for a living but it is always fascinating when they tell you about themselves. It almost makes me feel like I have lived a sheltered life. If it weren’t for sailing many of the people we meet would never cross paths with me.

After a few days it was time to move further south to a place called Punta Mangles. Here we explored an abandoned hotel shell along with a couple of abandoned homes that were never finished. The beaches were mostly rock which I do not prefer. Just around the corner from the anchorage are some very interesting rocks and sea caves. We took a little dinghy ride out there to check it out. I decided to bring my fishing pole and troll along the way. It must have been my lucky day. I caught two fish! A Grouper and a Trigger fish. I could not wait to get those bad boys on my plate. “Me and food, we go way back.”

As I was preparing dinner the wind kicked up. This was not in the predicted forecast we listened to on the radio. This was followed by some nice big waves to toss us around. The wind was also coming from a different direction and predicted which made this anchorage less than ideal. We decided to pull up the anchor and head back north to San Juanico. The winds picked up to 30 knots and the seas got sloppy and uncomfortable to say the least. By the time we arrived at the entrance to the anchorage it was dark. Remembering the large number of rocks in addition to our radar not working we felt it would be unsafe to enter. That left us only one choice. Head out to sea and stay out all night. What person in their right mind would put themselves in high wind and waves all night. Well that would be us. The other option was to risk ending up on the rocks.

Because we left Mangles in a bit of a hurry trying to get to Juanico before dark and the seas picking up we towed the dinghy with the engine still in the down position. This is not a preferred method but we thought it would only be for a few hours. Typically we put the engine on a hoist attached to the mizzen boom. For my unsalted friends that is the structural part of sail on the back of our boat. It is then attached to the back rail. When the waves are big this is not an option.

As we sailed through the night the dinghy rode up on a wave a few times and hit the anchor mounted on the back of the boat. We feared this would puncture a hole in the dinghy so we ended up pulling the anchor off and putting it down below. Typically we secure things pretty well when we are sailing but it was difficult to prepare for this night of high winds and big seas. We lost a couple of wine glasses which is really not much considering the conditions. We sailed through the night heading for the back side of an island to try to get some protection from the weather. That was a great decision however when we arrived it was still dark so we sailed back and forth outside the anchorage waiting for daylight. Wouldn’t you know it the radar started working. We anchored and slept for a couple of hours after listening to the weather on the radio. There were many people who had tough nights like us. Most however were tucked in their beds and only feeling a little rolling. We laughed at them. Well maybe we were laughing at ourselves.

With the new weather information we decided to head to Puerto Escondido which is also known a hurricane hole and is protected from waves but not wind. The forecast was for 14 to 17 knot winds. We picked up a mooring ball and checked in for a week here. There has been absolutely zero wind since. On shore there are high pressure showers and internet.

Concepcion Bay

Friday, April 06, 2012

7:48 PM

We stayed in Concepcion Bay for about a week. It is great to not know what day of the week it is let alone how many days have passed in an anchorage. I can say our last day in El Burro Cove was quite fun. It started with a breakfast of eggs and chorizo and eggs with potatoes. Along with that we had tamales and empanadas with avocado, sour cream and salsa. Our friend Pat cooked for us. We landed our dink on the beach in front of his house and he had breakfast rolling for us. Totally unplanned. I had planned to go ashore to walk the dog and take a paddle board lesson from Mo. After breakfast I did get that lesson and loved it. Seeing the stingrays in the water was encouragement to not fall. Oh I must add that Bill got an excellent hair cut and brow trim from Pat. He is a professional hair dresser and has a room in his palapa complete with a sink and salon chair. I later regretted not taking him up on his offer to cut and color my hair. I just did not want to feel I was taking advantage of him and his skills. He has done Oprah’s hair. Perhaps I will have to fly to Montana to get my hair done now.

 

 

After we finished up cutting hair, paddle boarding and eating breakfast we decided to move to the next anchorage. The move gave us an opportunity to give Pat and Mo a sailing lesson. Few things beat seeing their eyes light up and the smiles broaden once we were underway.

 

We set our anchor and served up some cold adult beverages and then enjoyed some loud music. A short time later we were joined by a couple who have a home on shore. Dave and Bobbie. They were quite interesting and have done a lot of diving in the area and shared their local knowledge to include the fact that there are Great White Sharks in the anchorage we had planned to visit in the a couple days. They have done a lot of underwater photography and Dave has been stung by a string rays three times in one year. Bobbie has an airplane which she uses to take tourist to watch the whales.

 

 

Later in the day just a bit before sunset we joined Mo and Pat along with Jerry and Jackie who have palapas on El Burro beach to do some wine tasting at Robert and Laura’s house located on the very top of the hill overlooking our boat. It was a privilege to enjoy some $125 bottles of wine. It turns out that Robert need to drink them up before they spoiled because he does not have proper cooling spot for them and it is getting hot out. Although it was not too hot to have a fire in the fire pit on the patio over looking our boat. This was certainly an action packed day to be remembered.

 

 

The next morning we got a ride into Mulege’ with Mo so we could restock with food for the next couple of weeks. Getting a ride in with her saved us from a hitch hiking adventure, or so we thought. There are no taxis or busses. While we were waiting for her we were offered the use of cars by two people we have never met before. This would never happen back home even in the friendly town of Winters. Heck I once tried to borrow a car in Winters when one of ours was in the shop to go to a doctor’s  appointment and had no luck.

 

 

The next morning we pulled up anchor and headed for a beautiful beach at the entrance to Concepcion Bay. There were flat rocks just under the water at the beach. The water was gin clear and some of the rocks were red. Along the beach were shells about a foot deep. Sparky loved running free for hours along the beach and in the water. As a bonus I was able to get online with my Kindle to check my Facebook and email.

Off the Grid

Tuesday, March 20, 2012
6:36 AM

It has taken a lot of money and even more sweat and swear words but we are finally living off the grid. I am thinking we are due for some rest and relaxation.

Our first anchorage was just 15 miles north of San Carlos. It was a good place to make sure things were working as they should. Not everything worked perfectly but if we were to wait for that to happen we would never leave the dock. Let’s just say they worked perfect enough. The anchorage was not what I would call paradise but it was not too bad either. We stayed a couple of days before the seas changed a bit and had us rocking a little more that we prefer.

We left at 4:00 a.m. in the dark. After clearing a near by island we put up the sails and enjoyed twelve hours of 15 to 20 knot winds. We were on our way to the Baja. Along the way we saw dolphins, turtles and a pod of Pilot whales. For my unsalted friends those are the whales known to get angry and ram your boat. Lucky for us they were not interested in our boat.

We arrived in the Punta Chivato anchorage just in time for cocktail hour. We did not start out with this being our destination. There was no destination set for us other than to cross the Sea of Cortez and end up on the Baja. This is were the wind blew us. We had not been there before and discovered a little paradise. The community is mostly all gringos. Gringos with private airplanes and their own dirt runway. The people were incredibly friendly. We asked one of the locals if there was a place to buy vegetables and he handed us the keys to his truck and said we could take it into town 20 miles away. We thanked him for the offer but declined and asked him to join us for a beverage at our table. We were having the two for one margaritas at the local hotel-restaurant-bar.

A short time later our new friend Max had another friend show up in his Ranger. Not a Ford Ranger but one of the John Deer type with a flat bed on the back. This was not quite like the one our rancher friends have back home. This was decked out with dingle ball fringe. Max asked his friend if he would take us for a ride. Soon we discovered Max had more beverages than we did. He had some trouble driving. Mind you the roads are all dirt and there are not other people on the road. At one point he made a quick stop and I fell forward a bit and my hand hit the dashboard which also happened to have a button to make the flatbed dump. The owner had stuff back there and it was all about to be left in the road. Bill jumped out quickly to get photos while I tried to figure out how to make it stop dumping. Max just laughed. We were taken to another hotel on the beach. It seems Max knows everyone and we were given a tour of the master suite. It was quite impressive.

We stayed in the anchorage for a few days. Several people we had met in San Carlos showed up the day before we had decided we were going to move on. The morning we had planned to leave we had four dinghies tied up to us. It was a busy morning. One was there with there dog wanting another beach play session with Sparky, one was looking for a bolt to replace one he had broken, another wanted to check out our email set up for the ham radio and the last guy brought us fresh crab cakes he had just made to thank us for helping his friend with the bolt issue. I must say they were the tastiest I have ever had.

Our next anchorage would be only about 15 miles south in conception Bay. We started to anchor in a little paradise with room for only one boat. It was absolutely beautiful with a private beach on an island. There was one problem. The pesky little bugs known as Bo Bo bugs. They don’t bite but and little flies that are most annoying. We decided to head to El Burro Cove. A place had been before and a spot good for hitch hiking into town for veggies. We try to support the local small businesses where ever we go so we stopped for a margarita at Bertha’s. Before heading back to the boat we took a walk down nice sand beach in front of the many palapas. We talked about how cool it would be to have one. We came across one with a for sale sign. We had never seen one for sale before. While we were looking at it a guy came up to us from next door. We talked about the palapa for a few minute and then he asked what we were doing. His name is Pat and his wife is Mo. Before we knew it we were piled into his friends Ford Ranger on our way to a local hotspot a half a mile down the road. They had a band playing which was actually quite good. We danced and had a good time. The next night we had our new friends over for dinner.

It’s happening!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

6:22 AM

There were a few projects and legal issues keeping our strings tied to the floating sidewalks. We now have a new refrigeration system. I have to hand it to Bill, he is one handy guy. I guess all those years of watching Tim the Tool man Taylor have paid off. Our new HAM radio is installed and works so well Bill won’t stop smiling. The engine is running better than it has since in entered our lives. There were some problems with the windless not providing quite the power required so Bill and the mechanic Hansel worked that out. Mechanically we are in good shape. Well, as of today but hopefully tomorrow and the next day too.

As far as legal issues go, Bill and I were both illegally in the country because we did not have our visas and had been here past the 7 day limited. They should have reciprocal privileges. I was talking with one of the security guards at the marina who had just arrived in San Carlos after being deported from Las Vegas. He is 30 and had been in the US since he was 14. We discussed getting married so we could both be legal but when I told him I required alimony he was no longer interested. That meant I would have to cross the border into the US then come back into Mexico and get my visa. It is about a six hour bus ride to the border. Bill went first to get his visa. He took pictures and explained exactly where I needed to go. He also took pictures of the bus station in the US where the Greyhound leaves to head up to Mesa, AZ. My plan was to head up to my see my mom, step-dad and brother and his family. My mom had lots of parts at her house waiting to be picked up. Things I could bring back into Mexico on the bus without paying the 40 percent import tax. Two of the items that are important to me are the new bathroom faucet and the pump for the diesel heater. It’s been cold and I really do not like to be cold.

I started my trip at 8 p.m. which is the last bus to Guaymas to catch the “big bus” going north. Once in Guaymas I had to wait three and half hours at the bus station until my overnight luxury bus left. The luxury bus only had 30 seats and they all folded down into beds. There is also free Wi-Fi on all the busses. I arrived in Nogales, Mexico at about 5 a.m. . Then I took the taxi to the border and walked across to the US. No problems and no lines and no smiles from the officials. Then I walked into Mexico where there were smiles and people there to help me get to the migration office and take care of my paperwork. That was incredibly easy. I paid the official who would take my papers and money to the bank. Typically they have you go to the bank but it was not open yet so he allowed me to pay him and he gave me a receipt and my visa. I then walked to the border crossing to go back to the US and catch the bus to my moms. The reason I had to get my visa now and not when I returned to Mexico was the bus does not stop for that. While crossing back I handed my passport with my new visa to the US agent. He was not smiling like the Mexican officials. He asked me to grab my bags and follow him. We went to the x-ray machine and while he was running my bags through the machine he started with the questions. He was far less than friendly and wanted to know why I crossed twice in less than and hour. I tried to explain the whole visa thing but he was not getting it and continued to ask me the same question. I kept my happy attitude I had with the Mexican officials. He Then asked for other forms of ID. I pulled out my wallet with my California Drivers license and asked if he wanted it out of my wallet as I tried to pull it out. Then he told me to go ahead. Perhaps he wanted a good look at my hands to see if I was shaking.

This is where things got a little creepy. I went to the bus station I had seen in the pictures Bill had taken for me. In his picture there were signs and schedules posted on the windows from the inside. When I arrived there were none to be found and the place was closed up and looked vacant. I decided to take one of the shuttle vans right next door. The price was only a few dollars more and I was told I could be taken to the town my mom lives in and would be there in 3 hours. After two and a half hours we stopped for gas. I asked how much longer and was told two and half hours more. This seemed wrong and was my first indication things were not as I hoped. The driver spoke no English. Did I mention I was the only American in the van. There was a young man in the front seat of this van of 15 people. He spoke English and translated for me. He asked the driver why it would take so long. The town my mom lives in is an hour before Phoenix. The driver said he was going to drop everyone off in Phoenix first and then drive back to drop me off which would leave me alone with the driver. A voice in my head said ” Oh, hell no!” I asked to be dropped off immediately but he refused. I had the young man tell him I said this was BS and I want out now! About a half an hour later he dropped me at a Mc Donald’s and I called my mom to come get me. I was sure happy to see my mom and step-dad. I never thought I would feel safer in Mexico than the US. My mom was a bit unhappy with me for taking what she called a “coyote bus”.

My visit with my family was fantastic. I love being with them. A couple days later I was back on the bus and heading south with all my treasures hoping the officials in Mexico would not make me pay the import tax on all the treasures. When we crossed the border the bus stopped and was inspected. We never had to get out of our seat. There were only two of us who spoke English on this bus. All the announcements were only in Spanish and I did not understand all of what they were saying. A man came on who looked semi official. Everyone pulled out their wallets and handed him money. I asked him what it was for and he said tips. We were tipping the customs agent. I am not sure but it may have been in exchange for not searching our bags. I think they had the dogs check them but never opened the bags. I was happy to hand over some money for that. The rest of the trip was uneventful. I caught a taxi back to the marina from the bus station and was in bed at 11 p.m. nearly 12 hours after I got on the bus in Phoenix.

In the morning we picked up a few things. I took the city bus to the local grocery store and filled my backpack with items Bill was not able to get the day before. I had 3 bags of flour, 2 bottles of rum, 1 two liter bottle of coke, six bottles of wine, two bananas, three apples, three pears, a box of cheerios, and two loaves of bread. My pack was heavy which reminded me of one of my first backpacking trips in high school when my friend and I brought canned food.

We are now in the anchorage where we had a very peaceful night. I am not sure what it is but the stress seems to disappear when you are anchored out. I do however miss having an internet connect. It is my “crack”.

An nearly perfect day:

Sunday, March 11, 2012
Sunday March 11th was a nearly perfect day. One that really made it all come together and gave us the feeling that all our work is was finally starting to pay off. The last few weeks have been filled with constant disorganization. Each morning starts with every single cushion and every single floor board being removed so work can be done on various systems. On Saturday while looking for one tool Bill swears he owns, we emptied every cabinet drawer and repacked the entire boat. Talk about a mess. Well, no, we never did find it. We did however gain more space and removed some items we do not need. At last the boat felt like home when we were done.

Waking up Sunday to a clean organized boat was a wonderful feeling. I did some laundry after having coffee and Bill worked on the water-maker and windless. For my unsalted friends a windless is the motor that moves the anchor chain in and out. Both are working. We were concerned a little about the water-maker because it could be quite pricy to repair. It is such an amazing piece of equipment. It magically turns the sea water into the best drinking water you can get.

Once we finished those chores, it was time to take a dinghy ride. We filled our cooler with beverages and sandwiches. The air was warm and fairly calm. The water was still a tad on the cool side. Our first stop was a small island just off the town waterfront. It is covered with pelicans and some cactus. The beaches are a combination of crushed and whole sea shells and sand. This was our lunch spot. We watched some baby pelicans get their wings wet and try to fly. They did not do so well but provided lots of entertainment for us. A short time later the dolphins showed up to entertain us further. I sat there wiggling my toes the sand enjoying a cold beverage while taking in the warm sun. Some would consider this an expensive spa treatment. It was very peaceful. The only sounds were from the pelicans and the water lapping the beach.

Our next dinghy stop was the estuary. It was a bit tricky getting through the shallows but Bill did a great job and soon enough we were back in the mangroves. This was a bird watchers paradise. The water was crystal clear and there were thousands of silvery fish racing around. If I owned a kayak I would certainly want to take it there.

After we left the estuary the wind picked up just a bit and brought with it some chop. We splashed our way back to the boat and fired up the BBQ and tossed on a chicken. We are looking forward to many more days like this.

Almost Ready:

Wednesday, March 07, 2012, 8:59 PM
There has been a lot going on for us in the past week. Our sweet little Sparky dog has been very sick. He seemed to be getting better but he would have bouts of loose stools with blood. I took him to the vet and she said he has an infection in his stomach. She gave him a shot for inflammation and an antibiotic. Also some pills to help calm his tummy. I have to take him back for three days for shots. Then she will have him on some other pills. He seems to be feeling better after two days. The total bill for everything was only $40.

Today after returning from the vet there were three guys at our boat. One was our mechanics brother. He said his friend wanted to buy the truck and has the cash. This took us by surprise so Bill told them to come back in an hour. They returned about an hour later which gave us time to talk about parting with the truck. You know what they say… “Money talks…” It looks like I will be taking Sparky to the vet in a taxi tomorrow. My visions of us filling the truck with large quantities of groceries and fabric from Guaymas are just a fading dream now. We will be taking the bus and backpacks. It looks like we are truly cruisers at this point.

At the marina we got to see something unusual today. The Mexican Navy came in. We were told there were about 30 boats but only one when we heard about it. Also, we were told there were military troops and police all around the hotel at the marina. We ignored most of this and continued to work on installing the new fridge and having our engine injectors removed, cleaned and replaced. Shortly after hearing about all this we saw two guys in uniform come down our dock. One was taking pictures and the other had a gun looking thing pointed toward us as he walked down the dock in our direction. Being the silly girl I am I raised my hands. He was not amused and ignored me. They were well armed too. It turns out his gun like item looked like it had a portable radio antenna sticking out. This is what he was pointing. Bill asked the camera guy what they were doing. He said “Drugas”. They were looking for drugs. Bill had to ask what kind. Bill named off a few things and the officer nodded. Then I remember seeing a tv show about this odd device he had. It sniffs out drugs and is very expensive.

He walked back toward the gate and stopped and backed up a few times at a boat about three slips down. We know the care taker and were told the owner is a US doctor. They never boarded the boat just stopped and looked several times then they left. Of course now I want to Google the device. Cool stuff.

The generator and main engine are now running better than they have since the day we bought the boat. Bill has many of the wood pieces done to provide an opening where the new fridge compressor will be placed. Next he will put in the cold plates. Then we will check out the water maker and buy me a bus ticket to go north to Arizona to my Mom’s to pick up all the bits and pieces we have ordered along with my visa (not Visa card, trust me I have that and am dangerous, this is out Mexican Visa). I can not wait to get the new bathroom faucet. It is gorgeous and we will no longer have to deal with the old dripping faucet. It has dripped for years and parts are no longer available to fix it.

Once that is done Bill will take the bus north to get his visa. We should be out of here before the 20th. At that point we will be “sailing”.

A week on pins: Feb 26, 2012

Into the water she goes!

We launched the boat nearly a week ago. It was a great to see the boat bob in the water after being released from the trailer and her robotic arms. Okay, maybe they were hydraulic. My grandson would call them robotic I am sure. Immediately after, we dunked down inside the boat to lift the many floor boards to check for water or any sign we may be sinking. It all looked good. Then it was time to fire up the engine. I am thinking we need to come up with a name for her at this point. I will work on that. She fired right up and put out a big pouf of smoke and some nasty looking water shot out of the back end of her. This is what we were hoping for although it did look like a scene right our of Captain Ron. We both laughed.

Bill checked the transmission and we had both forward and backward movement. Our lines were released and off we went to our new end tie on “S” dock. It turned out the marina did not have the power adapter we needed as they said they did. Bill thought maybe we should buy one so he went to Star Marine and discovered the price was not even near the US price of about $150. It was $250. We moved to another slip with the correct power for us.

We are now on “A” dock which in sort of interesting in that when we were in California we were on “A” dock. Next to us there was a boat named “The Office”. Next to us here is a boat with the same name. There are even people here that remind us of some of those we knew in California. We have met many new friends here too. When we are not on standby with our mechanic we can be found buzzing about in our dinghy or sampling yet another taco stand. There has also been quite a bit of cleaning and organizing going on.

Sparky was a bit out of sorts for the first week. Bill has been taking him for daily morning trips to the beach near where we were anchored before we put the boat up three years ago. This has done wonders for him. He is slowly returning to his over energized self. He is getting old and it is hard to see this happening. His eye sight is not what it once was nor is his hearing. One thing I can say is that he is one happy dog! He loves his daily swim sessions and long runs on the beach.

We can almost taste it:

Monday, Feb 20, 2012, 3:36 AM

 

What a difference a day to two makes. On Sunday or Splash Eve, the temps went up to the mid 70’s. A perfect day to launch the dinghy. Before doing so we picked up our gypsy camp in the work yard and went to the local grocery store to pick up some things for our dinghy outing. Sometimes a girl just needs to have a hot dog cooked over some coals. When buying charcoal down here it comes in actual wood chunks. Just the smell of the charcoal burning can make you think something good is about to be consumed.

 

 

After launching the dinghy we parked the truck and dinghy trailer by the marina office where we were able to get our gate key for our new place on the dock. Then we took our dink buzzing around the anchorage and then out the little bay here to a place called Martini Cove. That is the real name of it. There we set up our tri-pod swinging grill and cooked up some dogs. Is Sparky a cannibal if we fed him one? With our tummies full we explored the many tide pools. We saw lots of sea urchins, anemones and three different types of starfish.

 

 

While we were enjoying this beautiful beach that we had for ourselves with no wind and warm sunshine, anchored near by were about three local fishing boats. Big fishing boats. Each had their own party going on with loud music and young pretty girls drinking, dancing and singing on the top decks. The music instantly put you in a party mood and we enjoyed watching them all have a great time.

 

After we left Martini cove, I just love saying that; Martini Cove. We took a ride along the waterfront of the whole town of San Carlos. It is much prettier from the water vs. the street. The water started getting less than flat calm so it was time to head back to the dock. When we arrived a local was there to greet us. He was a fellow who had talked to us earlier in the day about buying our truck. He was trying to haggle us to sell it for half the price we want. Sorry no deal. We went our separate ways.

 

 

We left the dinghy in the water at the dock so it will be ready to move to our dock in the morning after we launch the mama ship. Walking back to the truck Bill and I were both thinking what are we going to do with this trailer. We have had it for over 20 years. It was converted to a dinghy trailer by us with some old and some new parts. Then Bill thought maybe the guy who wants the truck would like the trailer too. He went back to the guy, his name is, Ramon Raul Cervantez. He runs a local boat tow service. Ramon was very interested. He looked at it and asked Bill how much. He said $100. The guy pulled out his wallet and handed us a one hundred dollar US bill. We took our license plate. He unhooked it and we both walked away laughing at our good deal. What are the odds of that happening. BTW- you can buy this same trailer new at Harbor Freight for $200.

 

 

We now have only three hours until we launch. The day we have been waiting to see for the last three years. It is near impossible to sleep. It will be a moment of anxiety when we turn the key. Will then engine run or not. Perhaps our new friend Ramon and his Sharkys Tow service boat will need to be on stand by. I am hoping we get to keep that $100 bill.

Elbow grease; Feb 17, 2012

Finally we are starting to see some progress from all our efforts to get the boat back in shape. There was an issue with getting the engine to turn over, which made Bill absolutely insane. Trying to get someone to show up to work on the boat is near impossible. We did get one guy to come out and do so work and he brought another guy to do the stuff he could not do. Ultimately it has all been done and for a reasonable price. We know the engine will turn over but that is all until we get in the water at 7:00 a.m. on Monday. We have an end tie lined up so it will be easy to land the beast should she decide she needs a little more TLC. While all the engine electrical gremlins were present we were not able to use the two back rooms for storage and the boat was a huge mess. Now we are beginning to feel like we can tolerate things.

I did some brass polishing which is very therapeutic. Not that I need therapy. Well, some may think I do. Another feel good thing I did was join the beach clean up crew. It is amazing how much trash 20 people can collect. The bonus was they gave out cards for free margaritas at the cantina and had a raffle for addition drinks. Certainly that was a must do along with lunch.

We went to look at the spot at the end of the dock where we will move to on Monday. It is less than a two minute walk from to the Cantina, laundry and the coffee/internet hang out where everyone seems to meet each morning.

The bottom of the boat is now a lovely shade of blue. It is different from any other blue paint I have seen on the bottom of a boat. Bill and I did the work ourselves but it was still a bit pricey. For my unsalted friends-bottom paint has 40% or more copper in it to keep the critters from growing on it. The critters slow the boat down and cause problems with the many holes in the boat that allow water in and out. In for the engine and out for sink drains. That sounds scary. I hope we don’t sink.

The last few days have been a bit chilly. We are currently having a bit of a light rain. I personally am waiting for the nice warm weather. It would not be so bad if the fuel pump for the heater was working. We ordered a new one but may not see it for a few weeks.

I have been procrastinating on putting my clothes and shoes all in their proper place. I think this is for fear that they may not all fit where they need to go. Not something I want to deal with right now. After all I am a recovering hoarder and have an issue with parting with things.

Laddersauras, Feb 9, 2012

We arrived at the boat around 3:30pm. I had arranged to have the boat moved to the work yard a few days before so we could stay and work on it. The day we arrived was a holiday so the office was closed for the dry storage. We checked in at the marina and then went to see our orphaned boat. She looked like something right out of Captain Ron but at least we were no longer homeless. The first few hours after we arrived were spent cutting off tarps and the remains of tarps as well as cleaning out the master bed of all the stored items we had in there.

The next couple of days were spent washing everything inside. By the second day we were able to get rid most of the odd odors that were hovering around the boat, except those left by Bill as he puttered around (literally). By the end of our 3rd day, Bill had installed a new engine starter, rebuilt the toilet, filled the tanks with water, got the lights and pumps all working, re-installed the propane for the stove and bbq, hanked all the sails on (for our friends in Winters that is putting the sails back on the sticks) and set the lifelines in place. So far things are not as bad we they could have been after having the boat in storage for three years.

Bill went into the office on Wednesday to arrange to have the boat put in the water to get a slip but we got some not so great news. Our boat has too much draft to launch over the next 11 days so we will have to wait till Feb. 20th. That means we will be living in our tree house for almost 2 weeks and you can be sure that if you need to do something or to get to a job that needs to be done, it is on the other end of the 14 foot ladder. Stair Master better watch out, when I am done I will be selling 14 foot ladders with a tag line of the “Thighminizer or the LadderSaurus (aka Ladder-sore-ass)

Southbound and down, Feb 06, 2012

Once we left Winters we became one of many homeless people. Fortunately for us we had some of our salted friends come to our rescue. Doug and Linda from Aquadisiac let us stay at what they call the Mud Hut, which actually is a nice house on the Napa River. They even had internet. That kept me from going through immediate withdraws. We stayed there a couple of nights while Bill finished up his last days of work.

Our last night was spent at Bill’s mom’s house, where we enjoyed a nice meal and visited with her, our daughter and her fiancé. We were up and on the road well before sunrise. Our next stop was near San Diego to drop off Bill’s near famous Jetta (520,000 original miles) to our son. We stayed the night at Skinner Lake near his house and shared many smiles with our grandson and his parents. I will miss that little man.

The next stop was near Phoenix to visit my brother and his family along with my mom and step-dad. I wish we could have had more time there but we needed to keep rolling. We were on the road pretty early in the morning.

Breakfast was at a cute place called “The Twist & Shout”. A 50’s themed diner with great service, good Biscuits and Gravy and a whole lot of character. Oh and the price was less than two breakfast meals at McDonald’s.

Once we got to the border we decided to fill up the tank and give our “rig” a once over. In doing so we noticed one of the trailer tires looked like it was about to go any minute. Bill asked the Federales, who where questioning him about where we were going, where to get a tire. Sure enough, just around the corner was a tire shop. We got the new tire and paid our $40 and were on our way in about 15 minutes to cross into Mexico.

At the boarder crossing we were praying for the green light. Well, that did not exactly work. We got a red light going in. Which means they want you to pull over so they can inspect your vehicle to see what you are bringing into the country. This could have cost us some money in duty and we would have had all our wine taken. Fortunately they just asked us if we had any fruit and something else in Spanish. Bill said no only clothes. They then asked if we were going to Guaymas? How did he know that? Did the Federale’s from gas station tell him. Anyway we were waved through.

The funny thing is they never asked for a passport, ID, dog shot records. How will they know when we need to get a tourist visa? We have officially fell off the earth.

Good bye California, Feb 05, 2012

Well, we made it out of the house and we are officially homeless slumlords. I seriously under estimated how much work it would be to get the house ready and all our things shoved into the 20′ sea container. I made three trips to the dump and about 20 to the thrift store. The final stroke was the all day, down to the wire painting and cleaning which completely wore me out. I ended up with a sinus infection and extreme exhaustion from stress. The doctor ordered me to rest. That was not going to happen.

I had quite the adventure trying to purchase a camper shell for the truck. I used Craigslist which had me looking at a shell in the worst part of Sacramento. The guy I was meeting was late, leaving me waiting in the hood at night. They must be environmentally responsible there because everyone was riding a bicycle.

Once the guy showed up he asked me to come in his house to get to the backyard where the shell was, Red Flag. Once inside I notice a very weird smell (Dead bodies?), Red Flag. He had a Christmas tree up and we where nearing the end of January; Hmmm strange or just a real believer in Santa Claus and one with a lot of patience at that. When I noticed a goat in the backyard through the window, I thought it was stuffed until it moved. It wasn’t until we went out back that I noticed there were really three goats. These goat also had horns (Satanic, Yule tide, killer with a glass half full mentality?).

I declined to purchase the shell because he fail to tell me it was missing the back hatch. He seemed a little upset by that, so perhaps I should have told him I left my money in the truck or at home. Anyway, I tried to leave quickly but one of the goats kept ramming my belly with his horns. I thought to myself “I have about a quarter million dollars in surgeries to my abdomen and now I am going to get killed by a goat horn piercing. This is not good.” I made it out of there alive.

My next Craig’s list experience went much better and I had a wonderful experience.

Ultimately it was a tough and hard sell to get Bill to except the new camper shell but ultimately I was able to get everything I wanted to bring in the truck. Nice packing Bill. I hope I can find room on the boat for everything now.

Spring Cleaning: January 2012

Preparing to leave is a very emotional thing for me. I am feeling so many things right now. Stress, happiness, sadness, anxiety and excitement. We have lived in the same house in our quaint little town of Winters, Ca for nearly 25 years. Both of our kids were raised here and now have moved on to live their own dreams. With that many years in one place comes a whole lot of “stuff” that has been acquired. Bill and I have decided that I am a recovering hoarder. I have taken 3 truck loads of goods to my favorite non-profit thrift store. There is still more to be taken. The local landfill is a bit taller now as well.

This Sunday we will move all our furniture into the 20′ sea container we purchased and put in the local storage yard. Originally Bill told me it would be 40′ and we would not need to purge. I am not sure how it happened but he pulled a fast one on me. Not that it is a bad thing. It is just different from my vision. We currently have all the pictures off the walls, curtains and décor items packed and stored. The house echoes.

We have renters moving in on the 1st of the month. This will be our first adventure in slum lording. Even after hearing so many horrible things I can’t help but keep a positive attitude and hope we are the exception and the family moving in will be as good as I predict.

While packing I came across some walnut brandy I made about six years ago. I must say it was a bonus to find that. It is some pretty good stuff now that it has aged.

It is now late Sunday night and all the furniture is out of the house and in the sea container. It was a tough day for me emotional. I did not like packing away 25 years of my life. I know it is just stuff but it is also my home and the place I raised my kids. I suppose you could say it is like closing down the base camp for my kids and my grandson. Santa won’t show up to surprise him here next year. This makes me sad.

I don’t want to sound too depressed but I am trying to keep it real and honest. In a week I am sure I will be so busy getting some painting done and lots of cleaning, I will be all too eager to leave. For tonight I have an old ugly pink chair to sit on and night table to put my computer on. Both will be donated later.