01/21/2012, Zihautanejo, Mexico
The first time we sailed to Mexico in 1999 we were looking forward to reaching Z-town -- we'd heard so much about it and it sounded like the ideal cruising destination. As things turned out on that cruise, we only made it as far south at Manzanillo, nearly 200 miles north of here, before it was time to turn north.
Since that time we've been to Zihautanejo several times -- but by airplane for vacations with family and friends and once on a cruise ship! We've stayed in hotels here, but more often traveled about an hour north of here to the beautiful beaches of Troncones.
So when we finally sailed into Zihautanejo on our own boat yesterday it was a dream fulfilled -- and since we have been here before it was a comfortable entry -- we already knew the lay of the land and what to expect as far as the anchorage.
We plan to be here about a month preparing for our journey to the Galapagos. I will fly back to Gig Harbor for 10 days in February and Carly and Ryan will be flying down here for a visit at the beginning of March and good friends will be in Troncones at the beginning of March and we hope to visit up there, too. So it will be a busy quick month!
I'm posting some pictures from our 5 day voyage from La Paz to Zihautanejo in the photo gallery to the right. Enjoy!
01/19/2012, Off of Manzanillo
The picture above shows the display on our radar/chart plotter when we had ships coming at us from both directions -- we're the one in the middle with the circle around us (it's a two mile radius that easily shows us how far away things are)
Once we came south along the mainland coast we started seeing lots of cargo ships -- going both north and south. It's always a bit disconcerting to see the lights of a very big ship looking like its heading straight for you. A lot of that worry has been taken away now that in addition to radar which helps you spot the ships and gives you a good idea of where they're heading, we now have AIS that picks up a transmitted signal and gives us all the information we could possibly want : type of vessel and size, destination, heading, speed, time to closest contact and how close it will be. It also gives the vessels name and MMSI number so it is easier to make contact with the ship in question than in years past.
We have called on the VHF to two of the ships we've seen -- when they showed that they would pass relatively close to us -- just to check with them to make sure they were aware of us and what their intentions were (which side they'd pass us. So AIS is definitely on our list of "things that work" and we'd highly recommend it for any boat that will spend any time near shipping lanes (like the Straits of Juan de Fuca back home).
We're still seeing lots of ships today, but they're much less mysterious during daylight when you can actually see them.
We've had a mix of weather today -- the biggest surprise being the 20 knot winds on our nose along with a 3 - 4 foot swell to beat into. The forecast called for much lighter weather, but you get what you get. The biggest worry was that it would slow us down to much so we'd be out an extra day because we need to time things right so we reach Zihautanejo during daylight hours. Only time will tell, but right now we think it looks good to get in late tomorrow afternoon.
The wind and seas continued to build yesterday, as expected, so we haven't had to turn the engine back on in the past 24 hours! There is a 6 foot swell with some wind chop, winds gust between 18 and 28 and we're moving along under our storm main sail and a reefed Genoa.
We chose to use the storm sail over the reefed main in these conditions for two reasons: 1st, the wind is straight behind us and our storm sail isn't attached to the boom so there's no danger of accidental jibes and secondly it is less sail area than our reefed main so it doesn't block the wind from the Genoa. If the winds got nasty we would roll in the Genoa completely and put up our storm trysail -- that's a good combination on this boat if the winds are 35+.
We are doing a bit of rocking due to the sometimes confused swell, but all and all it isn't bad -- it's a good shake down cruise as we'd hoped.
I think Rosie is a little displeased with all the motion -- she chewed up the edges of a chart when we weren't looking -- I think she isn't getting enough play time right now.
If the forescast is correct we will have these same conditions this morning and then we should get far enough down the coast for things to settle down. Hang in there Rosie!
Last night was a nice smooth night, though winds were so light we used the engine to keep us on our way. That's a luxury we have on this passage because we know we can buy fuel in Zihautanejo. On a long ocean passage you must restrict your engine use so the fuel can stretch as far as possible.
This morning as the sun rose the winds began picking up and we've enjoyed a very nice sail all day with our trusty Monitor windvane doing all the steering. The winds and seas are predicted to pick up even more by tomorrow, but we've got a good sail configuration and expect it to be a good passage.
We've always said the first 3 days of any passage are the hardest as your mind and body have to adjust to all the constant movement, so if that holds true our last couple days should be quite nice.
Rosie is still doing great, but she seems a little more bothered by the movement today and has been sleeping even more than normal -- if that's possible!
01/16/2012, Somewhere south of Cabo
This is the 1st night Terry and I have spent at Sea in a very long time -- since coming down the coast in 2009. But it was Rosie's 1st night at Sea -- EVER!
As always she handled it like a trooper -- though I know she was wondering why we didn't stop somewhere before nightfall and anchor and get back to life as usual. She slept most of the day, as she will when were out traveling over the water, then when it came time to start our watches she would sit out in the cockpit with the on watch person for a little bit, but when she'd see the off watch person lay down to sleep, she was happy to join them. Then, this morning, she found a couple small squid on the deck! You could just see the big grin on her face as she tried to take one down below -- but we convinced her they were to be enjoyed in the codkpit.
Luckily the seas smoothed out after a bit rolly start and she (and we!) were able to move around quite normally so she even managed to use the head when it came time.
We were able to sail most all day, but when night fell the winds died so we turned on the engine to keep us moving along. The forecast is for the winds and seas to build over the next 2 days, so we anticipate getting some good sailing in then.
So all and all it was a very good start to this 5 or 6 day passage -- despite the engine -- sort of easing into it and getting our minds and bodies used to this unusual way of life with some pretty easy weather.
|Blog Posts: Street Cat Rosie||
I've always said the hardest part of cruising is saying goodbye to places you love and the friends you've made there. Dock 3 has been our home for the past 3 winters and we've enjoyed the company of a wonderful bunch of cruisers celebrating Christmas, New Years, watching football games, going out to eat, doing "walk abouts" in town, hiking the mountain, playing cards, having coffee and of course, our famous Dock 3 Dock parties.
They made our departure lots of fun with a great send off dock party with lots of gifts and then last night when we went out to dinner they filled our boat with lots of fun little surprises -- funny toys stuck into every nook and cranny -- bows and stars and a Canadian flag tied over our American flag!
So it was tempting to stay put and enjoy the comfortable life on Dock 3, but we managed to tear ourselves away and now we're spending a nice evening at a cozy little anchorage with plans to get up early and begin the 633 mile trek to Zihautanejo.
The Friday excursion to pick up the blood serum from the vet, package it, take it to customs to be stamped then to DHL to be shipped to Kansas went extremely well so we were finally free to leave La Paz!
Our first leg was a short one and we just traveled about 10 miles to an anchorage just north of La Paz to anchor for the day and get everything ship shape to set out on the long passage to Zihautanejo in the morning.
Well the cat blood serum adventure continues!
When we checked with DHL last week about arranging to ship the serum to the States as quickly as possible, we thought we had everything in place..... but today we found out that they only ship out of the country once a week (Friday afternoon at 5)! That would have really made a mess out of things if the samples had to sit in the office till Friday and the ice packs would have been all melted even before it was on it's way.
Luckily our veterinarian, Dr. Tomas, knew they didn't ship everyday and recommended we go check with them before we take the blood sample there. And luckily there was a guy working that spoke good English and we got the information we needed -- plus another tidbit that they hadn't told us last week: we have to take the unsealed package to the customs office down the street to be sealed and stamped by them before shipping. It would have been another big fiasco if we'd just taken the package to DHL in time for the 5:00 shipping because customs closes at 4:00!
So it seems La Paz has its hold on us and now we're just hoping to get out of here this coming Saturday. But like I said before: La Paz isn't a bad place to be stuck :-)
01/09/2012, La Paz, BCS Mexico
When Terry first picked Rosie up from under the truck by the Taco stand in Santa Rosalia and asked "can I keep her?" I warned him that it would change our cruising life and make travel (especially off the boat) much more difficult. But I'm really as much of a softie and animal lover as he is, so Rosie joined the Cetus Crew and we've enjoyed every minute of having her with us.
But, it does complicate matters. Not so much really traveling around here in Mexico, but there's a lot more to think about when we travel elsewhere with her -- like when we travel to and from the US.
And now, with our travel plans taking us maybe up to Hawaii and then hopefully on to Australia it has really complicated matters. Both of those islands are rabies free and along with a few others (Japan and New Zealand for example) they want to stay that way, so they have very strict entry requirement for pets.
It used to be that for Hawaii the only choice was a 120 day quarantine at a veterinary facility. I'd heard things were better now and through research of Hawaii's agricultural website and a few calls to them to clarify how it works with a pet on a private boat I've learned a lot in the past week and think I'll be able to do all the necessary paperwork so that Rosie will be able to stay on the boat with us when we go to Hawaii.
She already had the required microchip (used in this case to make sure it's the right animal) and she's had her rabies shots. But what she needs is to have an FAVN blood test to prove she doesn't carry rabies. It would be very simple to do this in the States, but I, unfortunately, did not get it done when we were up there this summer ;-( I had looked into it a little thinking I would need it for Australia, but at the time I thought I read it was only good for 120 days -- which wouldn't have done us any good because we wouldn't be in Australia that soon. But what I've learned since is that it has to be done at least 120 days before entering the country in question -- but it is actually good for 36 months. Sure wish I would have known that last summer!
So, it can be done here in Mexico, but it is a bit more complicated because the only lab that does this test is at the University of Kansas. And to get the serum to Kansas quickly from Mexico is a bit more complicated because it has to go through customs. Luckily the Kansas State University website has detailed instructions and even the necessary custom forms to attach -- and helpful friendly people answering the phone to answer all my questions.
I've done the paperwork and gotten to DHL to get that all set up, talked to the vet (we even used him when we had our previous cat Cali down here in La Paz 11 or so years ago), secured ice packs and we were all set to go in this morning, do the blood draw, package the sample and ship it off. But...... the vet decided that the amount of blood he'd have to draw to get the required serum would be too difficult on an un-sedated cat. And, he couldn't sedate the cats (our friend Vicky is going through the same process and we took them in together) because they'd both eaten this morning -- and they can't sedate them unless they've been fasting for 12 hours.
Tomorrow we'll try try again and if all goes well and we get the serum on it's way, we will be on our way on Wednesday!
In the meantime we've got some football to watch and dinner to eat at the local Sport's Bar: Tailhunter's. So thanks to Rosie we get to enjoy yet another day in La Paz -- so we're not really complaining!
|Blog Posts: Street Cat Rosie||
01/07/2012, Dock 3 Marina Palmira, La Paz BCS
Dock 3 lived up to its reputation for the best dock parties in La Paz and we enjoyed a great Bon Voyage for our planned departure early next week.
I've always said the hardest part of cruising is leaving a place that you've come to love and saying good bye to the friends you've made there. La Paz and the Sea of Cortez and the other cruiser's we've met here are going to be sorely missed, but the anticipation of our up coming adventures make it a bittersweet parting. We will say Hasta Luego and not Adios when we finally leave the dock, as we plan to return when our adventurous traveling days are over. As another boat was leaving La Paz this morning the net controller said there seems to be a bungee cord attached to each boat as they leave that eventually pulls them back -- and we plan to make sure that bungee cord is in place on Cetus before we cast off the dock lines.
So we gathered at sunset with a table laden with great food and a group of friends -- some we've actually known for about 20 years! and some we've just met in the last week -- and we were given gifts and well wishes. It's especially tough to leave the group of friends that have been here with us for the past 3 years and we will miss all the fun times we've had with them.
One of the gifts presented last night was this great Burgee they designed that has all the boat names that have shared dock 3 with us these last 3 winters. The rest of the photos will be posted in our photo gallery under the title: Hasta Luego Dock 3.
|Blog Posts; Cruising Life||
Wow! 2012! Hard to believe.
We woke up to a beautiful sunny day to start the New Year and will enjoy a day free of boat projects, having completed the last major one yesterday. And it was a doozy -- replacing seals on our Lectra San.
It was one of those projects that wasn't on our pre departure check list, but got added to the list when a little water started leaking out of it a week ago. It wasn't a project we really wanted to tackle -- but much better that it showed up while we were here in La Paz and not out in the middle of the ocean where we wouldn't be able to take care of it.
The Lectra San is basically a miniature sewage treatment plant that uses high amperage to neutralize waste so it is safe to discharge overboard and eliminates any holding tank smells. So it is not a critical piece of equipment, the boat can function fine without it, but its something we are happy to have. It is right up there on my list of "things that work".
When Terry identified the parts needed from Raritan (the manufacturer) we were afraid it might delay our departure from La Paz, because getting things shipped into Mexico can often take a very long time. We were very surprised after ordering the repair kit on Tuesday that it was delivered to the Marina on Thursday afternoon!
So Friday morning Terry tackled the project and removed the Lectra San from it's confines under the bathroom sink and disassembled it (on the dock) and then put in the new seals. That makes it sound like a short easy job, but as anybody with a boat knows nothing is ever as quick and easy as it sounds -- even when it all goes well. So he spent the major part of the day getting it all put back together and now it works perfectly again.
So today we'll enjoy relaxing and watching football games, then tomorrow I will begin the last phase of our preparations: Provisioning.
Happy New Year everyone!
Now that Christmas is over we're getting down to serious work on our off shore preparations list.
Today we're inspecting the rigging and adjusting the tension. Terry went up the mast to check things out from top to bottom to make sure all is well: inspected the rigging with a magnifying glass, lubed the sailtrack and checked the masthead lights and VHF antenna. All looks good to go.
And we also had our refrigeration checked for leaks and recharged to ensure that is in top running condition. For that we enlisted the services of a local company, Hector Refigeration. Now that system is good to go and can be checked off the list as well.
It's going to be a busy couple weeks as we're hoping on leaving La Paz by January 7th to give us a full month to get down to Zihautanejo (several stops along the way). We hope to leave Zihautanejo mid March for the passage to the Galapagos.
It's getting exciting!!
12/24/2011, La Paz, BCS Mexico
We're enjoying our 3rd Christmas on dock 3 in Marina Palmira in La Paz, Mexico!
It's been busy with preparations and festivities but not the hectic pace I remember from back home. We had a fun progressive boat dinner last week with a group of 12 of us that have been here the past 3 years and last night we had our 3rd annual white elephant gift exchange. Last nights was especially nice, because we happen to have 2 professional singers that led us in Christmas carols! We moved the party up to a room (a seldom used bar) at the hotel due to the high winds we've got going for a couple days. It was a great venue and the party was a huge success.
We're enjoying a quiet relaxing day today and tomorrow dock 3 will have another dock party -- complete with turkey and ham and all the other Christmas feast fixin's.
We wish you all a very Merry Christmas!
Heidi, Terry and Street Cat Rosie
I finally uploaded some pics from our travels in the Sea of Cortez this fall -- from Santa Rosalia to La Paz and all the stops in between. To see the album go to Fall 2011 The Sea of Cortez in our Photo Gallery to the right.
It was a wonderful trip with sun, swimming, sailing and hiking and beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Now that we've been at the dock since Dec. 1st life is totally different. We still hike -- but it's the same hike every morning, no swimming or sailing -- those have been replaced with boat projects and trips to the stores in town for provisioning. But, we still get to enjoy the beautiful sunrises and sunsets, so life is good.
When I got the new SPOT Connect I didn't change my settings to have it display on my share page. But now I have, so if you click on the link to the right called "Where in the world are Terry and Heidi" it will take you to our new share page on the SPOT website and if any SPOT messages have been sent out within 7 days they will show up there.
You can also click on the map to the right and it displays our location from the Sailblog posts. One way or the other we can always be found!
We're still getting settled into life at the dock -- we came in on Dec. 1st but by Dec. 3rd we were on the road north driving up Baja to take our car back and stow it away for awhile. I traveled as far as San Diego where I flew back down so I could stay with Rosie while Terry completed the trip, and now he will fly back home on Saturday.
We plan to be here in Marina Palmira until around Jan. 15th when we will cross to mainland Mexico to position ourselves in Zihautanejo -- our jumping off point for the Galapagos. We plan to begin that big passage mid March. But, you know all cruising plans are written in sand........
While here at the dock we'll be busy working on readying the boat for the big crossing -- but it won't be all work and no play because all the regulars -- and some new friends -- are all back on Dock 3 where there are great dock parties and lots of other social events.
So for the next month and a half my blog posts won't be about our travels, but rather about our preparations for a big off shore passage. I'll also include several of our "Things that work.....or don't" entries as we find our what works and what doesn't!
Isla San Franciso is sort of the poster child for the islands in the Sea of Cortez. It's main anchorage is a large crescent shaped white sand beach filled with turquoise water .Add to that some great hiking trails through red rocks and along a ridge that offer fantastic views it is a perfect setting.
We've been here a couple days now -- of course, we are sitting out another norther! Luckily we have a nice spot in the anchorage so have still been able to get to shore to walk the beach and hike the hikes.
We're down to only 4 days until we're supposed to be in La Paz -- we have reservations at Marina Palmira for December 1st. We can't believe how fast the month since we put Cetus back in the water has gone! We've enjoyed 11 of our favorite anchorages so far and will add a couple more before we go into La Paz. We've hiked old hikes and conquered some new ones and have been able to swim in our "pool" around the boat nearly every day -- and lots of beachcombing thrown in, too. We've tried to enjoy the Sea to it's fullest, for once we get to La Paz we'll be in work mode preparing Cetus and her crew for the big sail to the Galapagos!
Right now we figure we're about 2/3rds of the way to the Galapagos (from Gig Harbor) -- because our GPS says it's about 1900 miles (as the crow flies) from here to there -- and the same GPS also tells us that we've traveled about 4500 miles since we left Gig Harbor in June of 2009 -- but some of that was up and down in the Sea.
So as our time in the beautiful Sea of Cortez comes to an end, we are looking forward to the new adventures that lie ahead!
|Blog Posts: Travels||
Heading south from Santa Rosalia we were able to climb to the top of two big hills (we like to call them mountains) that we hadn't conquered before.
The first one was right off of El Burro Cove in Bahia Concepcion. We could see the switchback trail from our anchorage, but two years ago when we tried to find the start of the trail with some other cruisers, we just couldn't tell where to go -- and at the base we couldn't see the switchback. This year, the trail head was marked, so we were able to hike to the top and were rewarded with a beautiful view of Bahia Concepcion.
On our next stop, at Punta Pulpito, we were surprised one evening to see some people pop up on top of that big prominence! We hadn't realized there was a trail leading up there -- but now that we knew it was doable we set out to shore with Prairie Oyster and climbed to the top! Another good hike and breathtaking view.
Yesterday evening brought a rare event for this time of year on the Baja Peninsula: Rain!
Even though it was just a trace of rain, it was welcome by everyone giving the boats a fresh water rinse -- something they only get at a marina.
We've been enjoying the beautiful Bahia Concepcion for the last couple days and will continue our journey south when the winds swing back around to the north tomorrow morning, and hopefully enjoy another good sail.
We reached our northern goal of Santa Rosalia last Friday where we met up with friends and spent a couple days enjoying the little town. Then yesterday we began our trip south.
We consider the nice sail we had yesterday as the first leg of our trip to the Galapagos, even though we won't reach those wonderful islands until late March or early April of 2012, we are now headed in that direction!