11/16/2011, La paz
Mazatlan to La Paz is a complete crossing of the Sea of Cortez from East to NW. I buddy boated with Rock n Roll, a 42 foot Morgan, Russ and Janet from Texas. We set off in fine weather and virtually motored all the way across finally reaching an anchorage at Ensenada de los Meurtos, the bay of the dead. The trip across was peaceful and uneventful, two full days and one nights, so tiring. Meurtos was a great anchorage, clear water, fairly warm, lots of good snorkling and we got to visit the Stephen Games bar which was awesome. Had a great time, walks along the beach, swimming, playing cards and cooking !!!
After 4 days hanging off the anchor at Meurtos approx 10 yachts were waiting for a window to complete the final 58 miles to La paz. We had to traverse the length of the Cerralvo channel and then make a turn into the San Lorenzo channel. Whilst the Cerralvo channel is only 25-30 miles long it has strong currents, the possibility of big seas and an uncomfortable hap hazard sea state. If you get the weather right it is plain sailing. The 7 boats that left with us got it wrong.........................................we got royally bashed. 8-10 foot seas, 22 knots on the nose and some big rogues waves. Lots of green water over the bow, one came down the deck, over the dodger, across the top of the bimini and landed in the dingy strapped to the davits on the stern. It was 8 hours of pure hell and high water. Fortunately at the end of the Cerralvo Channel we had to make a 90 degree turn which meant we got hoist a small amount of headsail and calm the motion down. Once through the main channel bouys of the Lorenzo channel we made for a sheltered anchorage called Caleta Lobos. Once inside it was all majestic and calm. My buddy boat Rock n Roll suffered a little engine problem and at one point I thought I would have to turn back to offer moral assistance, they were truly getting hammered.
Lobos was a great anchorage, went trekking , swimming and snorkeling. Stayed a couple of days and then made the short hop to La Paz. A quick 2 hour motor up well marked channel to arrive at the marina. Am on the hook just outside the marina. Cheap living........no marina fees other than 22 US$ a month to use the dingy dock. Fortunately it rained after tow days and washed all the salt off the boat, saved the need to go into the marina for a few days to hose off the boat. I ran out of fresh water so jerry jugged water back to the boat each day. Fixed a pressure water pump that had knocked out the water system and generally had a tidy up. La Paz is a great place, everything close. There is a wholoe heap of people here and the anchorage or channel is full. Experienced the La Paz "waltz" the second night here. It is truely weird..........The tide and current is sometimes stronger than the prevailing wind so instead of the bow facing into the wind, it sometimes faces into the current. It effects each boat differently so you end up with boats facing different directions, sometimes bumping into each other. When you are used to seeing all the boats at anchor facing the same direction to see them facing different directions is really odd. There are lots of Baha Ha ha boats here and a few Puddle jumpers. It's getting a bit chilly in the mornings and evenings but a nice 80 degrees during the day. Going to have to decide what to do next, will stay this side and meet up with Scott and Monica from Scott free at the end of Nov and may well go back across the Sea to La Cruz for dec, jan , feb. Not sure yet. Have friends spread out all over the Sea and south to La Cruz.
The Rock n Rollers are staying put for a while, they are done with over night crossings and anything more than 4 hours sail !!! They have thrown the big anchor out and this will be home for a while.
Hurricane Jova starting building a week ago, it got everyones attention with it's initial eratic path. It continued to build and started to head offshore, then it turned east due to cold air coming down from the USA. It headed towards shore , continued to build went to cat 3 and then the forecasters stated it would go to Cat 4 before making landfall. For the last two days it slowed down and eventually hit last night after making a slight northward turn.
The initial forecasting tracks put the eye over Mazatlan but fortunately as it came closer it turned east, which put Mazatlan in the danger cone but not in the direct path. Needless to say sails were stripped, all canvas removed , double dock lines and anything that was movable was stowed. Given the eratic nature of the beast, where it was going to come ashore was anyones guess .Thank God it never came our way. However, it did slam into the coast 150 miles further south. Included is a reuters report which announced some unfortunate deaths.
( Reuters) Hurricane Jova flooded the streets of Mexico's main Pacific port with torrential rain on Wednesday, inundating popular beach resorts and killing at least two people in a mudslide.
While Jova ravaged the coast, a tropical depression farther to the southeast prompted thousands of evacuations in Mexico as well as flooding and mudslides that have killed 18 in Central America since the start of this week.
Streets in the port of Manzanillo were underwater, coastal communities flooded and roads blocked due to fallen trees and washouts after Jova, now a tropical depression, hit the coast as a Category Two hurricane late on Tuesday.
Manzanillo, Mexico's busiest port for cargo, remained closed to traffic despite the storm easing. Some streets in the city were under 3 feet (1 meter) of water.
"The streets of Manzanillo are impassable, as are the highways connecting Manzanillo with the south of Jalisco," national Red Cross coordinator Isaac Oxenhaut said.
Highways leading northwest from Manzanillo along the coast were closed and the beach towns of Zihuatlan, Melaque and Barra de Navidad were swamped with floodwaters, the Red Cross said.
In the village of Jose Maria Morelos northwest of the port, a woman and her son died when a deluge of mud hit their home.
"I think they asphyxiated," Alfredo Juan de Dios, 65, said of his sister-in-law Marisol and her young son Juan Pablo after the mud brought down a wall of their house, trapping them. "I have never seen rain like this. It's caused mayhem," he added.
Outside his shattered home, Marisol's husband wept as rescue workers covered his son's body with a white sheet.
The force of the winds flipped metal roofs off homes and cut power supplies to some 107,000 people in the area.
In Melaque, local musician Roberto Orozco said he was forced to abandon his home for higher ground. "I got back to find my stove and my fridge swimming," said Orozco, 52. "We're really sad, we lost everything."
09/27/2011, Mazatlan, Mexico
A little mention here for Anita Backley who opened up her home to me, took me to hospital and generally looked after me when I returned to Auckland in April to have a stent fitted into an artery in my heart. A true friend.
NZ is hosting the rugby world cup and Anita who still works for KPMG, a few years past her normal retirement age, helped host the Pacific Island team of Samoa at the KPMG offices in Auckland.
We are hoping the RWC will showcase New Zealand to the world and of course celebrate with us when the All Blacks win the Rugby World Cup.
I have been asked by lots of people what's it like to spend the summer in Mexico............Hot and sweaty. As Robin Williams said in Welcome to Vietnam "hot and sweaty is good if your with a woman but not good if it's the weather.
Whilst the temps inside the boat can top 100 and outside 120 , there are ways of coping with it. However it's the humidity which is the real killer. You spend a great deal of time drenched in sweat, just breathing makes you sweat.Thank god for A/C..............and fans. I use two A/C units, one a 5000BTU window unit which sits in the campanion way and blows into the saloon. Coupled with a fan and the sun shade , the saloon temp is a comfortable 70+ . Clothing is still optional. Mind you , it makes the cockpit unbearably hot because of the exhaust heat. At night I use a 9000 btu unit which is free standing and points into the aft cabin and is ducted out though a hatch via and large diameter pipe. This can really drag the temp down to chilly !!!
To cope with the humidity, towels are strategically placed to stop me sticking to the furniture, especially when reading. Ventures outside are accompanied by a very large brimmed straw hat and a sweat clothe. Boat projects are limited to before 11.00am or after 5.00pm and completing anything is considered an victory. The remainder of the day is mostly taken up by visits to shopping malls, large supermarkets or coffee shops which have A/C. It's amazing the amount of time you can spend aimlessly wondering around a mall ( if the A/C is good). 3 hour coffee breaks , no worries. There are some positives............you lose weight, it's too hot to eat and no way is the stove being switched on to cook anything. You sweat out salt and toxins ......good for the blood pressure and you drink lots of icey cold water...not pepsi. Plus you get to shower a lot during the day, normally straight from the hose on the dock....so you are cleaner than perhaps you would normally be. Downside, you use lots of underarm sprays and you have to wash your hats frequently. So a well planned day will allow you to miss the brunt of the humidity and heat, unless of course you are at anchor and then your life is hell . Actually there are 100's of boats who spend the summer in the Sea of Cortez on anchor and deal with the weather in their own ways. Crew and wives may be on the verge of mutiny, so I am told by my friends on Ponderosa who are currently up in the Sea, but they find ways of getting through it. Most socialising between boats appears to happen at "floaters" around 4.00pm. People grab anything that floats and jump in.
Probably the biggest concern of anyone staying the summer in this area of mexico is the possibility of Hurricanes, whether you are up in the Sea of Cortez or in a marina on the mainland or Baha side. We have a rather powerful hurricane 450 miles south of us at the moment, Hurricane Hilary, already a cat 4 so a dangerous one. It sat still for a few days and some predications thought it may come on the mainland or go up into the Sea. It appears from tonights position it is headed WNW, away from us. Although this could easily change and it could head this way. There are a few hurricane holes up in the Sea but if a cat 4 or 5 hit the marina, it would destroy the place completely. From previous statistics the later in the season June-Oct, the more chance of hurricanes heading into the Sea. Hilary is certainly the most powerful one this year so far and 450 mile is not that far . I guess we will get some of the weather from it over the next 3-4 days. We all follow the hurricanes via a couple of websites, www.stormpulse.com and www.eebmike.com, morning ritual check hurricanes and then drink coffee in peace !
So with the thunder, lightening, heat, humidity and hurricanes why do people stay here in the summer. Two main reasons, the Sea of Cortez is unique, isolated and stunning with fantastic wild life, the second reason....it avoids the Baha Bash, the northerly trip back up the outside to the States against wind, sea and current. This gets you out of the hurricane zone but you are faced with a nasty trip back to the USA. Some even virtually sail to Hawaii before tacking back towards the US Coast.
Soon this years contingent of boats will leave San Diego in the 2011 Baha Ha Ha, around the 23 rd Oct, over 200 boats will head south taking about a week to get here. Cruising season has begun from that point onwards !!!
And the best bit, only and few more weeks and the humidity will disappear and winter temperatures will prevail, a nice 70 degrees
Well, the replacement GPS antenna turned up, a Raymarine 125 . Opened the box and was somewhat dumbstruck by the contents, 3 seperate installation guides, two bags of bits, one long cable and 5 other cables with various connectors , plus conversion blocks and more connectors. I guess this is what happens when a compnay uses so many protocals, plus NMEA . I was not looking forward to what should be a simple connection. Plan A, follow instructions.......fail, Plan B follow instruction in installation manual 2.......fail. Plan C , use convertors as suggested in installation manual 3....fail. Go to bed !
Get up early and cut connector of end main cable...........old school approach, connect one wire to direct power , not through SEAtalk bus. Crimp data wire from Antenna to Seatalk in , crimp shield to Sea talk. Hey presto, GPS comes on line on master display at nav station but not on slave display at helm. Shit !! Follow back helmstation seatalk to junction box. bring master connection back to same box and twist wires together into junction block. BINGO, GPS is up and running at helm and nav station. Sounds pretty simple, only troule is this all took a total of 12 hours. Had to dismantle aft cabin to follow cables back, dismantle Nav station electronics , take apart Nav pod at helm, fit antenna on dofger top instead of aft rail ( Raymarine only supply 20 feet of cable). General pull the interior apart to run cable. The photo's don't do the dishevelment any justice. A day spent drenched in sweat but one which ended in VICTORY. It would have been quicker to learn how to use a sextent !!!
09/03/2011, Still mazatlan
Okay, so here's plan B...............as soon as parts turn up for GPS and a second stage regulator for the hookah, wait for a weather window, which will probably mean something like "No tropical depressions expected for the next 48 hours" and make the dash to La Paz. Have spent most of this week provisioning for 2months up in the Sea. Completed most of the projects and just need to get the main GPS back on line and I should be ready to rock and roll. Will buddy boat with one or two other boats. Looking forward to it, not looking forward to unhooking the A/C.
Bees have invaded a boat on Dock 6, obviously looking to set up a new home.
The marina boys have been out with there insecticide, god only knows what they have used, something Toxic.
I had a spare Rule bilge pump which I been meaning to install as a secondary bilge pump. I had already installed the float switch and alarm and today finally got the whole system up and working. Lots of swearing, head scratching and blood spilled but with some wiring diagrams from Rowan , managed to complete task. Of course had to rewire the alarm and float swithc in the process. So hopefully, the spare parts parcels arrive in the next week or so. Then we wait for a gap. Will hit Muertos and then up to La Paz. Stay a few days and then get north , doing mostly day sails .