02/28/2014, La Paz, Mexico
It's that time of year -- winter is winding down and everyone starts moving out of La Paz to other cruising destinations, whether it be mainland Mexico, further up in the Sea of Cortez or off to the South Pacific.
Our little group of friends on Dock 3 has been shrinking fast. First Rod, Jane and Tucker (the BEST boat dog ever) headed north to San Carlos on Feb. 15th to take possession of their new catamaran Beachcomber, which they will come back to La Paz in next December. Then Joe and Sharon (the mayor and mayoress of Dock 3) left in a taxi a week ago, heading home for a bit then off on an interesting travel adventure. And even earlier we lost Scott Free when they ventured up into the Sea and have yet to return.
So now Cetus and Prairie Oyster are left with our prepartations to head north into the Sea later on this month. We had originally planned to head out this week -- but Carnival just came to town and how could we resist enjoying that one more time!
02/22/2014, Marina Palmira, La Paz
With my mail forwarding service, St. Brenden's Isle, I can see all the mail that arrives at my mailbox there. They scan the envelopes, I view them online and decide whether they should save them, shred them, mail them to me or scan the contents for further information.
When I'm out of the country I don't usually have mail sent to me since it is usually fairly expensive and especially here in Mexico pretty unreliable (unless you do FedEx or DHL) -- plus it takes a long time.
But in January when I'd accumulated several Christmas cards and didn't think I'd get a chance to see them until we head north for a visit in April, I decided to take a chance and have an envelope sent here to the marina. They sent them on Jan. 16th and I was starting to think that they weren't going to make it -- next step would have been to go to the post office and see if they got held up there (it's happened before).
Then today they arrived!! It was fun to see the pictures and read the newsletters and feel connected with those who mailed us cards this year -- thank you to all of you!
I, unfortunately, did not get Christmas cards out this year and even failed in my plans to make up for it with a New Year's card. I'm hoping to do better next year.........
02/20/2014, playa Bonanza, Isla Espiritu Santos
The two mile long sandy beach makes playa Bonanza a very desirable anchorage -- and its only 21 miles from La Paz. But this weekend when we sailed there and spent 2 wonderful days exploring and swimming marked our first time anchoring in this beautiful spot.
We'd seen the beach before, after a long hot hike from an anchorage on the other side of the island, but didn't do much beach-combing those times because we had another long hot hike back to the boat. We would usually prefer to anchor on the west side of the island because there is more protection from the N and NE winds that are usually present this time of year. But some unusual summer type weather occurred bringing W and SW winds, making Bonanza a perfect place to be.
With winds about to change, and good friends getting ready to leave dock 3 for a trip back home, we needed to get back to the dock, so we headed south and pulled into the slip Wednesday morning.
When we got in we heard some terrible news about a tragic accident on the water for a fellow cruiser. You can read the 1st hand account on S/V Eagle's blog The Big Left Turn . To sum it up in a nutshell, John (S/V Timepeace) went out in his dinghy to rescue a guy that fell out of a large dinghy. He got him out of the water and was taking him to shore when the runaway dinghy bounced off another boat and headed straight for John's dinghy and plowed right over it, tossing both men into the water and nearly severing John's leg. He's been airlifted to San Diego and undergone many surgeries in an attempt to save his leg/foot. Only time will tell, but it's a sad sad tale. Our thoughts and prayers go out to John.
Lessons learned from this event are to always wear a kill switch when operating a dinghy, so if you do fall off the dinghy will stop. And, number two is to have your emergency contact info posted in your boat so someone can find it easily. John was a single handed sailor and it took a lot of internet searching by his friend to track down his family back in the states.
We're untying the docklines and will go out and enjoy one of the beautiful anchorages of Espirtu Santos for a few days.
3 days of swimming, snorkeling, beachcombing and kayaking sounds like a wonderful break from the busy dock life.
When we return we'll be really busy preparing and provisioning for our months up in the Sea when we leave the dock here in Palmira at the end of February.
Now it's off to the islands!
02/14/2014, The Dinghy Dock Restaurant & Bar
The social event of the season here in Marina Palmira was the dance that was put on by "Cash Cab Productions" (aka known as Prairie Oyster, Plan B, Lucky Lady too, and Cetus). We had it before Valentine's Day as to not interfere with the restaurants planned Valentine's Dinner special, but it was decorated for the holiday.
It all came about because our favorite band, Jurrasic, wasn't playing in town at Caio Molina's anymore -- in past years we'd go there every Wednesday night and dance to their great 60's and 70's music. So we tracked them down and went to see them a couple of times at their new venue which was about a 45 minute drive from the marina.
So we asked at the restaurant here if we could use the big bar space (where we've watched all the Seahawks games) and we'd pay for the band. They said yes, the band said yes and we had ourselves a party!
We expected maybe 30 people, but it was a hit and over 70 people showed up and the dance floor was packed and everyone had a great time. We took donations to help cover the cost of the band and the restaurant/bar did more business than they ever have, so it was a win win for everyone involved.
Our goal was to show the restaurant manager what they could do if they brought a band in occasionally and hopefully next season it might become a regular thing.
02/13/2014, Dock 3 Marina Palmira, La Paz
I've been asked why I'm not posting to our sailblog anymore -- and I see I have been very remiss since settling in to the dock here in La Paz.
There's a couple reasons:
1. Since this is a sailblog, I try to keep it to topics that involve boats and sailing. But I should also include life in ports, because that is a part of cruising, too.
2. Life at the dock seems to keep us very busy, leaving little free time for writing blogs or even reading books for that matter.
So now, before our time here comes to an end, and we sail further up in the Sea I'll do a few posts on just what keeps us so busy here in La Paz. It's really a combination of access to stores and restaurants, boat repairs and improvements and then the social life.
Last nights big social event was a fun dock party with lots of good food and some great entertainment (at my expense:) as the girls roasted me for my 60th birthday celebration. I'll put the rest of the pics in an album to the right called Birthday Bash.
We first heard the rumblings of a problem among the cruisers in Mexico when we pulled into the anchorage of Caleta Lobos on our way to La Paz on Nov. 28th. Another boat anchored there called out to the boat next to us warning them to check their paperwork (particularly the TIP -- Temporary Import Permit) because boats were being impounded if there was a discrepancy. We didn't think too much of it at the time because in all of our previous years in Mexico there had been no problems.
As time went by we heard more and more rumors and finally started hearing some first hand info when the editor of the sailing mag Latitude 38 had his boat impounded! Yikes -- that really got everybody's attention. A few facts thrown out and the rumor mill was running amok.
The problem, as we see it, has to do with a new government agency being created to make sure that boats are complying with the import laws and getting the 10 year temporary import permit for your boat. The agency was formed, but the method for checking and enforcing was flawed and some boats that really were legal were seized when they started their inspections at the marinas. What they would do is check a boat's HIN (hull identification number -- like a car's VIN) and if the computer didn't pop up that it had a TIP they would confiscate the boat. Unfortunately the old 20 year TIP's weren't computerized, so they were seized. It became a problem because if the boat was unoccupied (as was the case with the Latitude 38 boat) and no body could provide the proper paperwork, they would impound the boat. Then, it really got to be a mess because the new agency knew how to confiscate the boats, but no system was in place to release them. What a mess!
So as we understand at this point, boats that were confiscated or seized (which we understand just meant they couldn't leave the dock) are all being released -- except the ones that really were in violation. And we don't have any worries or concerns about the safety of keeping our boat in Mexico since our paperwork is in order and on file with the marina -- so the paperwork is here even if we aren't. It seems it was just a big fiasco created when the Mexican government wanted to make sure they were getting their proper fees, but put the cart before the horse and put an agency to work without the proper tools or knowledge to handle it.
I've had so many questions from friends and relatives back home asking if we were concerned for our boat once they read about the problem in the papers back home, I thought the easiest way to address it was with a post here explaining the situation as we understand it.
As of today all is well, but the rumors are still a flying!
01/08/2014, Dock 3 Marina Palmira, La Paz
We had a wonderful 5 day V-cation visiting Caleta Partida, Bahia Falso and Caleta Lobos on our little escape.
Weather was nice and we enjoyed swimming everyday and exploring shorelines in the dinghy -- even ducking into a couple little sea caves. The unexpected treat was when we went for a swim in nearby Caleta Lobos, we decided to don our masks and fins and we were surprised to see so much live coral along the little island we swam the length of! And with the coral comes fish, so it was a great afternoon of snorkeling.
I've posted some pictures in the Gallery in an album called The Islands Jan 2014. Enjoy!
Since arriving in La Paz we have been so looking forward to "getting out to the islands. Those are the two nearby islands of Isla Espiritu Santo and Isla Partida that have a dozen or more beautiful anchorages all within a handfull of hours from La Paz.
We'd really hoped to get out right after the Christmas celebration to ring in the new year out here, but the north winds kept blowing (and the islands are north of La Paz) so we waited until a nice break in the weather to forge our way up here. After a 5 hour motor sail, we dropped the anchor in 20 feet of water in Caleta Partida one of the northernmost and prettiest anchorages the islands have to offer. This is one of the largest anchorages on the islands and is actually situated between the two islands, and it is the crater of an ancient volcano.
The water temps have dropped a bit since we last swam in Magdelana Bay last November, but we still enjoyed taking a refreshing dip taking in the clear blue waters surrounding Cetus. It's so nice to be out in the islands again.
Happy New Year from the Cetus Crew!
I put a collection of photos from the Christmas Fiesta in an album in the Gallery.
12/25/2013, Dock 3 Marina Palmira, La Paz
As always, Dock 3 outdid themselves and our morning potluck and white elephant gift exchange was a wonderful way to start out Christmas Day.
Good coffee, good food and a good turnout of people made for a fun, festive time and the gifts in the gift exchange were all great -- so there was lots of present stealing going on.
We had a break in the action to rest (or play Mexican Train!) and now at 4 we'll all go up to the Dinghy Dock restaurant here at the marina where they are preparing a huge turkey dinner for us all (only 160 pesos per person -- about $13).
We'll need to hike up the hill twice tomorrow to work off all these extra calories we're packing in today!
I've put a few recent photos in some albums in the gallery -- some from Todos Santos and a few from the La Concha hotel here in La Paz.
12/21/2013, Marina Palmira, La Paz, BCS
This is our 5th Christmas away from family and friends in the Pacific Northwest. I think it would be harder for me if it really felt like Christmas, but with the 70 - 80 degree weather even all of the Christmas decorations and party plans it doesn't ever really sink in -- just feels like summer to me.
I must say though, that as much as I miss being with my family, I truly enjoy being removed from the stress of the holiday season where time and weather can interfere with total enjoyment and trying to fly in for the holidays can really add stress to the occasion.
So we are spending another Christmas, at home aboard Cetus, doing pot lucks and dinners and white elephant gift exchanges with cruising friends, and we will be looking forward to seeing our family and friends up north in the New Year.
12/13/2013, La Paz, BCS Mexico
As if life in La Paz wasn't busy enough, we took the show on the road the other day for a girls shopping trip to Todos Santos!
Our trusty driver Joe took the 5 of us on the hour plus journey to the nearby touristy town where we browsed through the galleries and jewelry/souvenir shops.
The highlight of the day was our rest break where we enjoyed lunch at Tequila Sunrise -- then on to more shopping.
We were all exhausted by the end of the day, and we all were a little happy that our favorite band, Jurassic wasn't playing at Caio Molina's that night (I guess they won't start back up till next month) because we would have had trouble putting on our dancing shoes.
The next day was busy too, as we had a girls spa day so Sharon could use her birthday gift and enjoy a pedicure and the rest of us had manicures and pedicures at the same time.
But as usual, it really isn't all fun and games and I've also been busy working on the teak. It's held up real well, so I've just had to apply a maintenance coat of Cetol, with very little prep work involved. Just a light sanding with a fine sandpaper, wipe it down with special thinner then a coat of the Cetol and it's good to go another 6 months or so.
So with comfortable weather, a good mix of work and play, life is good here in La Paz.
12/04/2013, Marina Palmira, La Paz, BCS
How fun it was to arrive at the dock and have all of our old friends here again!
We've gotten right back in to the swing of life at the dock here in La Paz -- it hardy seems like we were gone.
We're busy with boat projects and enjoying having Internet again along with trips to town and gathering on the docks to visit with our friends. And Monday we revived our early morning ritual of hiking up the "mountain" behind the marina. This year we've modified our schedule (at least for now) from doing it every day to only 3 days a week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
It's a challenging hike, though it only takes about 1/2 hour round trip, but the view from the top is quite a reward.
We were thrilled when our slip we had reserved for December 1st opened up early and we were tied up to good old Dock 3 by 1:30 yesterday afternoon. It feels good to be "home" again!
We were lucky that it opened up early, because we knew a Norther was coming and we didn't want to have to try to dock in 20+ knot winds -- so today we can relax as the winds blow instead of worrying about them.
This will be our home base for the next couple months as we enjoy La Paz and the socializing here on the dock, and hopefully some trips out to the islands.
After all the traveling the past 2 months to get here, it feels great to be settled in for a while and not have to think about getting up and going every morning and playing the guessing games with weather everyday.
Home is where the boat is :)
As the crow flies we are now 75 miles from La Paz -- but that route takes us across a lot of land, so in reality we have about 130 miles to go.
Normally we would do 3 long day trips stopping and anchoring at night, but the latest weather shows a Norther picking up on Saturday, so we want to get north before that so we don't have to just sit in an anchorage and wait it out. This horse smells the barn and wants to get in!
So we will be celebrating Thanksgiving underway -- just like we did in 2009 while plowing up this coast. I've thawed the turkey breasts and I'll start working on all the fixings -- the only thing missing will be football.
Enjoy your day where ever you are -- and we will be thinking about friends and family and all we have to be thankful for.
Only 92 miles to go to Cabo Falso, the point where we first start our turn around the southern tip of the Baja peninsula!
It's a major turning point on this journey because once around there we'll be out of the Pacific Ocean and back in the Sea of Cortez -- which has been our goal since leaving Hawaii last April.
It's also a whole new ball game when it comes to weather too. So far, since leaving San Francisco, the prevailing winds have been from the NW, and since we were heading south (or actually SE) we generally have had following winds and seas. But once we start heading north into the Sea, we'll have to time it for periods of very light winds, because the the Northers blow down the Sea of Cortez it is a miserable thing to try and fight your way through it. So we only have a few stops to make going up to La Paz, but it could take us a while if we have to sit out a Norther blowing before continuing on.
Today's trip south is going great -- wonderful weather and seas and just enough wind to fill the sails to keep us moving at a great pace (with the engine helping out) so we can get around the cape tonight and put the Pacific part of this passage behind us!
The short (4 hour) hop from Santa Maria to Mag Bay was well worth it because we were entertained by gray whales most of the way. First they were just in the distance and we'd catch sight of a back or some spray. But soon a couple were swimming alongside the boat -- about 50 feet away -- and we got a good up close and personal look at them. It's always a bit unnerving when they are close, because when they go back down you don't know where they'll pop up next. Cue the Jaw's music.
We enjoyed another nice swim today and then spent the afternoon preparing for our early morning departure to go around the tip of Baja and up to the Sea.
Pulling into this pretty anchorage was reward enough after the 33 motor from Asuncion, but being able to jump in the clear blue water for a refreshing swim was priceless!
Last time we traveled down this coast we didn't venture into the water till we'd rounded the corner and went for a dip when we anchored off San Jose del Cabo. But when we saw our instruments told us the water was up to 70.8 (it had been 62 in San Diego) we decided that was warm enough for a quick dip -- and it felt GREAT! First time to swim in the ocean since Hawaii in March.
We plan to just spend one night here then we'll make a very short hop (about 15 miles) into Mag Bay where we'll prepare for another over night trip from there around the tip of Baja and up to San Jose del Cabo (about 13 miles north of Cabo San Lucas). Then we'll be heading up into the Sea of Cortez, with just a couple stops until we reach La Paz!
Weather permitting we just might make it there by December 1st, as we originally planned. We'll cross our fingers!