Friday, December 28, 2007

Merry Christmas to everyone

I am not sure what you were doing Christmas Eve, perhaps you were doing some last minute shopping, making sure you had all the fixing for Christmas Dinner, driving to get to some of your relatives homes, shoveling snow. Well, I spent the morning taking a surfing lesson!! We rode in the back of a truck to a beach about 1/2 hour away and got a surfing lesson. I never could manage to stand up on the board, but I did get aboard and squat on long enough to get a couple of nice rides. WHAT A RUSH, when you catch a good wave. The board just floats along for ever and ever. It just makes you want to try over and over again to experience that sensation. It was so much fun and I am really glad I had a chance to try.

We had a couple over for breakfast on Christmas morning, we had a wonderful fruit salad with all sorts of really fresh fruit in it. Then we pulled anchor and sailed to Manzanillo and managed to find Barry brother and his family. We arrived in time to have Christmas dinner at the all inclusive resort's buffet. It was very tasty although there was not any turkey in sight!!

Since then, we have spent every day with them at their resort. Hanging out suntanning and swimming at the beach. His grandchildren are having a great time playiing in the surf and this afternoon they are heading out on an ATV excursion. We are planning a trip into town tomorrow, we will go to one of the local markets and then head downtown to the old harbour.

It really feel like we are having a holiday away from the boat. Everyday we have to hike for 20 minutes in order to get to their hotel. 20 minutes isn't a bad walk except that for the first 10 minutes of the walk we have to walk up a 10 % grade then as soon as we get to the top we head down. The walk back to the boat is easier than the trip to the hotel so that is a good thing. Every morning I have to get my body in gear for the 10 minute climb. Bruce and Marg will be here for New Years and will head home on Jan. 1. We will probably head south again once they leave.
Apparently there is supposed to be a hockey game on the beach in a few minutes, Mexicans against Canadians, Mexican rules. This I've got to see, a Mexican rules hockey game.
Barry and I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season and hope that everyone experiences the joys and happiness of the season along with family and friends.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

We are safe and sound in Barra De Navidad which is just north of Manzanillo. We are located at 19.11 N and 104.40 W. We had a quiet mostly windless passage from Mazatlan. We did 2 overnighters, one from Mazatlan to a spot halfway. There we went ashore and had a nice dinner with 2 other couples that we had never met before and then slept the night away. I truly felt like we were cruising as we sat on the beach about 30 feet from the shore listening to the crashing waves, watching the sunset and drinking Margaritas. We left early next morning and motor sailed for 31 hours to get to Barra. It is hot and humid here and we are both sweating freely and working on our tans, it is too hot to wear anything besides a bathing suit.
Barra is a lagoon, the water is unswimmable and a dirty brown in colour, also it is very shallow. There is a very narrow entry that is about 500 meters long, if you get either side of the channel you hit bottom. Last year when we came in, we followed line of sight directions, lining up some palm trees and a roof top. This year we followed very explicit GPS way points and we went aground twice while entering the channel. We had entered at a very low tide and once we got into the mooring field the depth finder was reading 2.1 and 1.7 feet below the keel, scary. Then we anchored and figured we were too close to someone so pulled up the anchor and dropped it a little further back and we ran aground again. We moved to an open spot and ran aground for the 4th time in one day. Enough was enough, so we managed to find a slightly deeper spot and dropped anchor and stayed put. Each time we ran aground we had been going so slowly we were able to gun the motor and get the keel out of the mud and move in a different direction. Thank goodness, what a fiasco, 4 times.
Mungo is here, their daughter Katherine arrives on a plane today. Shared Dreams, another Bluewater boat with Frank and Gisela and their daughter Janine is here as well. We had dinner aboard Mungo last night, it was great to meet up with them again and exchange stories about what has happened to us since we left San Carlos. We plan to stay here until Christmas Day and then we will go to Manzanillo. Hopefully, Mungo and Shared Dreams will be able to have a Christmas breakfast with us. Bruce and Marg and their family will arrive in the late afternoon in Manzanillo so we will go and spend some time with them.

Monday, December 17, 2007

What have we been up to lately. Okay, since we have got here I was hauled up the mast to get the stuck spinnaker halyard that we lost, repaired the drain that was dripping on my bunk (this involved, re caulking it, cutting it and refastening it) climbed up behind the radar arch to try and figure out what is happening with the ham radio, undoing and reattaching the antenna, put another coat of varnish on pull of the hatchway, fix the auto-pilot, polished the stainless steel on deck, scrubbed the deck down with fresh water, laundry, grocery shopping, washed the floors and cleaned the bathroom, put anti-chafing on the life lines, hauled up the spinnaker to sort out the sock so it won't get stuck again, folded and stowed the stay sail and today we re insulated the refrigerator.

We called a refrigeration guy to come and look at the fridge. Barry wanted to replace it, the guy basically said that we needed a new box for the fridge with better insulation and the unit was fine. He suggested rather than ripping the whole unit out and having it rebuilt that we try and upgrade the insulation . He gave us a ride to the wonderful Home Depot here and we bought supplies. Back at the boat we cut Styrofoam to fit on one side of the box and then sealed it with aluminum tape. Then we put a vapour barrier of plastic on top of that. I had to beg the guy to get the plastic. At Home Depot we found some plastic that they put on the ground to keep out weeds but they didn't have a price so wouldn't sell us any. There was some old used plastic sitting around and I convinced the young fellow to just give it to us since it was just garbage and not for sale. It was hard doing it in Spanish, I beg much better in English!!
I guess the old saying that cruising is just repairing your boat in exotic places is really quite true!!

Note: Dancing with Carole's red hat on

We did manage to go out to dinner twice while we were her and the margaritas were REALLY GOOD at the last place we visited. There was a musician from Saltspring Island playing, and Barry must have been feeling no pain because we danced a couple of dances, fun, fun. I bought my good friend Carole,, on Espiritu, a red hat so we could be twins and promptly had it blown off when we taxied home in the back of a little red truck. Yes, they actually let you sit in the back of a truck, and you pay them good money to do it.

Note: In the little red truck, NO RED HAT!

We are headed further south tomorrow, making our way to Manzanillo where we will meet Bruce, Marg and family. Mungo with Steve, Sandi and their daughter Katherine will be at an anchorage just north of there so we are hoping to stay a few days with them before Christmas. The time is just flying by, I had not idea that it is only a week until Christmas tomorrow. YIKES, we had better get sailing.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Southward Bound

We set off the next day heading south. We stopped at Bahia Conception a spot we wanted to visit on the way north. It said the the guide book there were hot springs so in we hopped in the dinghy and headed ashore. Once we arrived at the sandy beach, which had no surf we found people wandering around in the water with plastics tubs in their hands. What were they up to, turns out they were claming. The one fellow would just drag his feet through the sand under water and find the clams and pretty soon he had dinner. HMMM.

We found the hot springs and soaked for a few minutes, they did not rival the ones in Tungsten, I tell you. There were murky once you walked in them, but nice and warm. Then we headed back to the dinghy and tried out hand a claming. We got enough for a nice appetizer.
A couple of days before Barry had caught a bonita when we were underway. We found out that you have to get the blood out of these fish in order to make them good eating. Barry cut the head off and we dragged it behind the boat for about an hour. We had two meals from the sea within a couple of day, bonita then clams. This is the life.

We kept heading further south and then on Wed. we were heading in the general direction of La Paz. It was blowing 20 t0 25 knots behind us so we decided not to go into this one channel that might have got pretty rough so we headed east. Once we were going that way Barry suggested that we just keep going and head for Mazatlan on the mainland, forget about La Paz, so away we went. 50 hours later we showed up in Maz. It was another great sail, wind on the quarter, making 6.5, 7 knots the whole way. It was a bit bumpy and my back and shoulders were aching from wresting with the equipment at those speeds. When you try and sleep and it is bumpy you are awakened as your body tries to not be thrown around the bed. You feel as if you are going to fall so you wake up all tensed up and realize that you are only going to go across the bed, not get thrown across the width of the boat, makes for very light sleeping.
Barry (this is true) suggested that we put up the spinnaker when the wind died slightly and all went well until we tried to get it down, SHIT (sorry Mom, but it was a mess)!! The sock would not come down and the sail was up there flailing around in the wind, with the lines that are attached to it whipping themselves into a frenzy, they hurt when they hip you. We finally unrolled some genoa and blanketed the spinnaker and were able to take it down. Barry swears it is never going to come out of the bag again. I will keep you posted.

While the shute was up I was just loving it. A group of porpoises showed up and we were charging along at 7 and 1/2 to 8 knots, throwing up quite a wave. I think those animals and I were one just powering through the waves, living life to the max and enjoying every second.

When we showed up in Mazatlan we had about 200 feet of fishing line trailing behind us. Thank goodness it didn't find our prop, we both agreed that we were very lucky. I pulled it in as we coasted down the channel and later Barry salvaged the hooks and leaders that were on the line.

We found a group of 2007 Bluewater sailers at our dock and 8 of us went out for dinner tonight. The ribs were delicious and the company was outstanding. We found out that Bruce (Barry's brother) and Marg and their family will be in Manzanillo between Christmas and New Years so we are planning to head south at a great rate in a few days. It will be nice to have some family close, we had no idea they were going to come.
We went to Mulege on the bus last week. We started the day off with breakfast at the hotel in Santa Rosalita that was built by the French in the late 1800's and is still furnished in that style, what a great way to set up a day.
Muelge was a wonderful spot. We bused through desert hills for miles and miles and then all of a sudden we were in an oasis of date palms, lush vegetation and a river. What a change in vegetation. We asked about a path we saw and we told that the old monastery was that way, where the lookout was, so off we went, Barry and I and the couple from Decade Dance, Betty Lou and Dave from Indianapolis. We walked across an old cement and stone damn and then up to the church. The church was built by the Franscian monks in 1776 and it is still standing. If there was a hurricane in this region I know I would want to head here, the walls were 3 feet thick.

After visiting the monastery we strolled on down the road and I saw a fellow sitting making a fire outside this ornate fence, and of course, I wondered, what is going on. Making the mistake I made almost a year ago I encouraged everyone to wonder over. The fellow was cooking clams on a fire. The home was one of the big landowners in the area and as I discovered a little further along, yup once again we had been trespassing. There were no signs and no harm done and we interacted with the populus. This fellow didn't ask us in to view the grounds, though, just went in the gate and shut the door. This time it helped though because Dave had been a peace corp volunteer in the 60's in El Salavador so his Spanish was pretty good and there were no awkward moments of minunderstanding.
We spent the rest of the day wandering around visiting the shops and restaurants in town. There was a tienda that sold wonderful gringo supplies, like brown sugar, Kraft dinner, sharp cheddar cheese and a big container of nuts (that we are keeping for guests). It was a great trip and I even managed to find a few Christmas presents. When we got back I quickly wrapped them up and Betty Lou said she would mail them once they got to Indianapolis, YIPPEE!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

We are in Santa Rosalia, we sailed down from Bahia San Fransciquito yesterday. That sail rated as one of the all time top sails. We had 15 to 20 knots of wind off the stern and 6 foot following seas. Cat´s-Paw IV romped her way through the 75 miles averaging about 6 knots. We just had the genoa up in the morning and then about 1500 hours the wind dropped and Barry agreed with my suggestion to put up the spinnaker and away we went, just flying down the waves, hitting 7.5 knots with ease, FANTASTIC. We even managed to take the spinnaker down just after dark and with genoa alone again surged on to Santa Rosalia. We found the entrance in the dark and put the hook down without any problems.

Our ham radio will still not send voice messages and we cannot receive or send e-mails. We are headed to La Paz and may be out of touch for 2 to 3 weeks, so please do not be concerned about where we are. Hopefully we will run into someone else that has e-mail access and I will be able to send off a message but who knows.

We are going to be here for a few days so if you want to send messages, send to my yahoo mail before Friday. Tomorrow we are planing a bus trip to a town about 1/2 hour away that has a lovely church. We are at a dock now and will charge up the batteries, which have been performing flawlessly, get water and load up on groceries before we head for La Paz.

We had fun in Bahia San Fransciquito. It was a great place to wait out the honking northerly, up to 40 knots. We climbed up a lighthouse that did not work and went exploring with our buddies from Decade Dance. There was an airstrip on an old lake bed and some palapas for tourists about 2 miles from where the boat was. On our expedition Barry put his hand down and got a quarter of his palm invested with cactus thorns. I had a go at getting them out 2 days ago and must have another go today. Some of them are quite deep and about a 1/4 inch long, so they are really in there.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Important update

Our ham radio is not transmitting. That means the scourge of the airwaves is SILENCED. We can hear stuff, ex. weather reports, net traffic, but we cannot send. We cannot send or recieve e-mail or let anyone know where we are until we get to a port where there is internet, so please don't worry if you don't hear from us, we are fine we just cannot let you know. VERY FRUSTRATING. We are attempting to fix the problem, racking our brains trying to figure out why. Once we have access to internet we will be able to contact some ham officianados that may be able to help us. At the moment we are still in Bahia San Fransciquito, I am e-mailing this from Decade Dance some people we just met who very kindly offered to send this message. There is a 40 knot northern blowing down the sea so we are just staying put in a wonderfully protected anchorage riding out the blow. Hope you all are well and we will send another message once we get to Santa Rosalia. Hasta Luego.
We are in Bahia San Franscisquito, on the west side of the Baha, about 75 miles north of Santa Rosalia. We made a safe, uneventful night passage from San Carlos. It was rather unusual in that it rained for a lot of the passage. Last year we had maybe 10 minutes of rain in 6 months and it rained continuously for 10 hours, very weird. Maybe not though, we were not in the Sea of Cortez at this time last year so perhaps this is par for the course.

We managed to sail for about 9 hours of the 22 hour passage so that was nice. We did 3 hour shifts so wec each slept for about 6 hours in total. The trick is to be able to go to sleep when your shift is over, just let go and fall asleep. Our radar is still inoperable, we have been unable to repair it after cutting the wires in preparation to taking down the mast. There is one wire that is just a hair's width, that Barry thinks is the one which the radar signal passes through which we think is not working. We may have to restring whole new cable which is not impossible but will be very tricky to try and attach to the electrical bus. Anyway the long and short of that thought was that we did not have radar on the way over and there was an island that we were in danger of hitting. Barry plotted it's position and at about 0300 said that we should pass 3 miles south of it. The wind vane was steering and I was reading by headlamp, when I decided to check to see if anything was around and there was the island, appearing out of the gloom. It was just the faintest of shadows in the dark against the horizon, it gave me a bit of a start, even though I knew it should be there. I had scary thoughts about how a person could easily just run into something like that in the middle of the night if they were not vigilant.
This morning after making some yummy eggs and coffee (with Baileys of course, I broke down and bought some more after that disaster with the bottle in our luggage)I took over the helm and as we approached the coast I saw water spouts. Two or three whales were feeding in the general area we had to pass by. They would surface and then go down to feed for about 5 -7 minutes so you would not have a clue where they were going to surface. They got quite close to the boat and I just thought, "Do you know how much money people pay to see this?" It was a little worrisome though, after hearing horror stories of whales bashing into boats and breaking them in two. These must have been boat broken whales ( kind of like house broken puppies), or friendly, or just plain hungry because they ignored us, crossed either under us or 30 feet in front and they were gone. Whew!!
We have anchored in a lovely little spot and there is supposed to be a couple of good blows in the next few days so we should get some exploring done. Hopefully the rain will stop and the sun will come out and we can go ashore.