05/07/2010, Puerto Escondido
Had to come back into Puerto Escondido to send HRO a turd note about my broken watermaker so I can hopefully get some new seals later this month.
Took the opportunity to upload some Loreto Fest pictures...
Off to Puerto Balandra in the islands off Loreto
05/04/2010, Puerto Escondido
Rina and I spent the last two weeks enjoying tranquil Puerto Escondido and the nearby town of Loreto. Puerto Escondido is a large well protected bay turned marine sanctuary with over 150 mooring balls for visiting boats and a small marina. Normally populated by 5-10 boats, the bay surges to full capacity for the annual Loreto Fest. This year over 450 people attended, a Loreto Fest record. Proceeds from the event benefit the local community in a variety of ways... purchasing computers for local schools, scholarships for 30-40 local students to attend the local college and 2 scholarships for students to attend university on the mainland, and other worthy endeavors. It's amazing how far money goes here. Loreto Fest is run by volunteer expats, many of them former cruisers, who have taken up residence in the nearby village of Juncalito, where renting land is dirt cheap, and well made palapas surround the RV's most people live in. Rina and I got to know several couples in the area in our travels, and I became the new best friend of Don, the yacht club commodore, once I volunteered my services for running the sound system and DJ'ing.
This included heading into Loreto to pick up our "loaner" sound system from the municipality, only to learn that word had not made it down to the lady who managed the sound system at the college. Conveniently, she had brought her friends that *rented* sound equipment with her... hmmmmmm... An hour and a half of bantering later, we made a deal to rent a small Peavey 8 channel powered mixer, matching speakers and a bunch of microphones. What started out as a 1500 price tag for 3 and a half days was slowly whittled down to 500 bucks... with long periods of uncomfortable silence providing most of the negotiating leverage.
Fortunately, the sound system showed up on time Friday Morning, and by 10am the Puerto Escondido Malecon was swaying to the soothing tunes from our two ipods. In the afternoons, after several seminars, including on how to both bottom and top fish (wish my bro coulda been there to learn with me!) I had the pleasure of playing bluegrass classics with Janet on Banjo and Bob on Guitar from sv Katy Hill and Howie, who joined us on a rockin electric mandolin. In the evenings, we would be joined by headliners, including a Mexican "one man band" on synthesizer, playing a wide variety of classic Mexican songs. We also enjoyed a dance troupe from the local college doing traditional dances from several parts of Mexico. Evenings usually ended with jam sessions that went late, and on Sunday night, the DJ rocked the house until the last cruisers fell into their Dinghy's and puttered back to their boats. Monday was *very* quiet in the anchorage...
Rina's highlight was competing in the chili cook-off. She made 8 quarts of chili, cool signage and got great reviews. Unfortunately, as is the case in most of these things, it's a popularity contest, so the *very* competitive local expats took top honors.
Tomorrow we will head north to Isla Carmen and the Puerto Balandra anchorage for a couple of days, then to Caliente De San Juanico, on the coast of Baja, before spending a week or so in Bahia Concepcion, which will be as far North as we will be able to travel this year in the Sea.
04/26/2010, Agua Verde, Baja, Mexico
We took a day hike up and around the bay of Agua Verde with our new friends from S/V Scott Free (Scott & Monica), plodded down a road that had cows and donkeys grazing on what looked like grass, but with the dryness of the area, I doubt it. After a few miles over the hills and through the cacti, we came into town.. I mean, a village. We passed a sign that said "restaurant" that although we didn't partake, we heard that you can get great tacos & beer, and it's the only place to buy beer in this bay. Then we ran across a very faded cardboard sign that said "tienda" outside of a fenced in yard of someone's home. We walked in, hesitantly, where they were washing clothes, and cooking in a make-shift stove, the smell of the campfire under the pot was a memory in itself. They were so friendly and willing to help us find what we needed. The "tienda" was the building in the back of the stove/cooking area made of plywood and planks. Inside there were crates of several kinds of vegetables, rice, and beans that can stand the dry hot environment. Outside were several drop-in freezers, not powered of course, but they were full of other perishable vegetables for sale like lettuce, tomatoes, avocadoes, squash, and the longest lasting vegetable, cabbage. We packed our backpacks with our fresh finds and we were on a mission to find another boat some gasoline for his generator and dinghy. Sure enough, the "tienda" owner knew of a guy on the beach that had fuel. Off to the beach to find our fuel guy. After we found the fuel, we then decided to walk the volcanic shelf back on the water to the boats instead of walking all the way back around the road and hill. It was a very interesting walk with all of the volcanic rock that contained many imbedded stones, shells, and I'm sure, historical artifacts. Great walk, much cooler on the water. The pictures of our boats in this area were postcard perfect. Off to another day in our last few months left of our incredible journey.
04/17/2010, 25 31.2'N:111 04.3'W, Aqua Vista
...to describe our most recent sunsets... This was off Isla Espiritu Santo. I'll just say that we are enjoying every single one, given that will be back in California in 90 days or so.
We are currently anchored in Bahia Aqua Verde, where we will hang for a week before heading to the hustle and bustle of Puerto Escondito and the Loreto Fest cruisers rally. Aqua Verde is known for its clear blue water and great snorkeling. Well protected from both North and South winds, it's a cruiser favorite.
04/15/2010, 24 54.7'N:110 42.2'W, Evaristo, Baja Sur, Mexico
We're taking this relaxing thing seriously.This was the highlight of our day... Lets see...get up around 10, hot tea, tatos and egg breakfast, read for about 3 hours while digging the 3M 5200 sealant out from under my fingernails, Rina makes birthday dip - a family tradition, we take the dink over to the beach in the fishing town of Evaristo, hike a couple miles to the salt ponds, hike back, carve the above tribute into the sand, sit down and enjoy a little birthday dip on behalf of bro Phil. dink back to the boat, swim off the stern for a few minutes, give the ladies in the anchorage a show by showering off the stern, dig a Pacifico out of the fridge at toast to Phil being another year older! Happy Birthday Phil!
04/12/2010, La Paz
The shitter hit the fan today... what joy. I know, your thinking: "ha ha, you got yours! Serves your right...
Just when we thought Follow You was ship shape again, the forward head started leaking.... BAD... to quote my daughters when they were younger...eeeewwww!!!! Luckily we had the spare parts on board... in this case a seal for the macerator motor that chews up the... well, you get the point... an hour later and after several scrubs with anti-bacterial hand soap... and a couple shots of tequila, all is well in the forward head...
And a shout out to my compadre in head repair... Dietmar! Sunset Alert!
04/12/2010, La Paz, Mexico
After a week of sailing and socializing it was time to work on the growing boat maintenance list. So for the past week, we have been mostly heads down, 8 hours a day, fixing and cleaning stuff. Here's the list of stuff we worked on, most of which is pretty typical in terms of repairs that regularly comes up on a cruising boat.
On top of our repairs list, Rina had a sudden urge to re-varnish all the slowly deteriorating fiddles (wooden counter lips) in her galley. I could see why, given the amount of time she spends in there and the dull, dented state of the fiddles after 18 months of cruising. 3 days of sanding and multiple coats of varnish resulted in shiny new looking fiddles, a refreshed nav station table and seat. Now if we can just get rid of all the sanding dust that permeates the entire boat...
Waterproof and UV protect the dodger and bimini - it's been a year, and if you don't keep it watertight, mildew forms and the sunbrella deteriorates. Looks like new now, except the slowly crazing windows and chafe marks from where the slack preventers hit it when we forget to snug them.
Change Genset Oil - it only uses a quart and it's really easy to change, with a pump right on the engine to easily purge the oil. Cheap insurance in my book
Fix leak in starboard portlight - I've tried 3 times to fix this sucker from the inside. It doesn't leak much, and it *should* be easy to identify, but not so. I don't want to re-bed the whole window, which could easily introduce more issues, so I'll try caulking the entire outside with 3M 4200 to see if that takes care of it.
Wax hull and de-oxidize the fading blue boot stripe - I paid Javier 85 bucks to do this, and it was money well spent.
Clean and wax companionway slider track - Poor design results in build up of gunk and polycarbonate, making it difficult to open/close. Acetone scrub and a coat of wax worked wonders.
Rebuild watermaker ETD - Yes, the watermaker is flakey again, as predicted, even after HRO tested the pump and ETD and said everything was fine. Took apart the ETD, cleaning all seals and reinstalled - works sometimes, but as water temp rises here in the sea, I predict it won't.
Find and fix transom leak - I repaired a leak at the seam where the hull and deck comes together back in 2004, likely from somebody punching the stern into a dock, but we kept finding a couple of quarts of water in the stern lazarettes. At first we thought it was leaking watermaker filters, but after I fixed that we still had water in the lazarette. Finally located a trail of water from the seam inside the lazarette after a test sail, requiring a 10 hour repair. I removed 3m 5200 sealant from 8 feet of the seam from the inside, much of it watersoaked. On the outside I had to remove the rub rail, exposing a crappy seal job by the factory.... The problem is that the stern rub rail sits 3-4 inches underwater whenever we are motoring, so it needs to be completely watertight. The biggest problem was all the screws holding the deck to the hull on the stern were not sealed tight, making the stern a sieve.
Major clean and re-stowing of the garage and aft cabin. These two cabins become convenient dumping grounds for all our crap, and when the transom leak became significant, we found salt water making its way forward when the boat heeled, soaking floorboards and leaving salt residue everywhere. Rina pulled up the floorboards and cleaned everything, and found homes for all our junk.
Find and fix dinghy leak - a slow leak finally got big enough to be a pain. We found where a screw had chafed the hypalon when stored on the passage from Auckland to Ensenada and repaired it with a little Stabond.
Fix air leak in forward fuel tank supply hose - The transfer pump no longer pumped at 1 gallon a minute, so a little research found a small leak in the hose where it clamps on the tank. 30 minutes and a quart of spilled diesel later, all fixed.
Fix a cranky cabinet latch under the sink - always pops open on starboard tack.
Fix broken latch on freezer - finally just wore out...
Fix broken shelf in anchor locker that holds dinghy fuel tank
Errands, errands, errands - major provisioning run to Soriana grocery store, to Telcel to top off our prepaid internet card, Club cruceros for book exchange, home depot for latches and paint supplies, Fed ex for ship Zen's stanchion back to him, laundry, etc, etc...
So we're pretty tired now... time for some R&R...we will take 2 weeks to sail up to Puerto Escondito for Loreto Fest at the end of the month. The water is getting warmer, now 74 degrees, so lots of snorkeling in our future at great anchorages like aqua verde on the way up the coast.
04/08/2010, Sea of Cortez, Mexico
Gallery has been updated with lots of great shots from the last week. Follow You earned a nice reputation this week, placing second and third on the two races that really mattered, the others being called on account of no wind. In the picture above is the always photogenic Richard Spindler of Latitude 38 magazine and his SO Dona deMallorca, who were gracious enough to host us twice on their surfin 57 Catamaran Profligate.
On race one, we dueled with Craig on the Columbia 44 Adios, tacking up wind on opposite tacks, meeting every 45 minutes or so, with either us or him up by a boat length or less. Luckily when it was closer than a boat length I was on starboard, forcing him to duck under us. Craig gets extra points for single handing it though, including a hairy spinnaker run on our last day in 20 knots of wind, when his autopilot could not handle the boat in those conditions.
Another fierce competitor was Talion, a Gulfstar 50' who we alway seemed to *just* trail at the finish, always finishing within 2/10's of a mile of... We know she likes racing us though, because she called us out to race at this Sunday's La Paz Bayfest....
We also hung right on the heels of Braveheart, a MacGregor 65 on the last day, slowly creeping up on her stern over the course of 2 hours of light wind... he told me later I was pissing him off, as he should have been able to dust me with his longer waterline. As winds built, he doused the spinnaker and tacked to the finish line on a beam reach, as we kept the spinnaker up and beat him by about 15 minutes.
This racing thing is kinda fun, although Rina thinks I get a tad too competitive... who woulda thunk! She would just as soon take pics and kick back... meanwhile I'm tweaking sails and calling for yet another tack and blabbering on about wind shifts... what else are ya gonna do over 6 hours of pure sailing magic on the flat warm waters in the Sea of Cortez!
03/31/2010, La Paz, Baja, Mexico
After bashing up into the Sea of Cortez from San Jose Del Cabo for 2 full days, we finally got a day of flat seas and a beautiful morning. Ever since turning the corner at Cabo Falso, near Cabo San Lucas, we have been basking in the warm weather and warm water. We left San Jose Del Cabo for the 39 mile passage to Los Frailes and while the first half of the journey was blissful, a norther came through and pitched a hissy fit, turning the seas into 4 ft jabs every couple of seconds. The boat slowed to 3 knots or less unless we headed off on a reach, which usually took us in the wrong direction. Doing so increased our speed to near 6 knots again, so at least if *felt* like we were going someplace. Actually, VMG was better and the ride was ok, and 8 hours later, we were anchored in Los Frailes enjoying the 25-28 knots of wind tugging on our anchor.
This picture is the moonset and the sunrise coming out of Bahia Los Mertos around 6:00am, on our way to La Paz. A few dolphins greeted us for a morning romp on the bow. It was a really flat motor sail, not much wind to speak of, but again on the nose. You could easily see the sea life as we cruised through the glassy water. Sea Lions didn't even flinch at our boat going by; we actually had to steer away from them. I have to say, I don't remember the water being so flat that I could actually cook a full on breakfast in a LONG time!
We are enjoying the temperatures here in the sea, it's been around 90-99 degrees the last two days in La Paz. We have biked around town running errands for boat parts and of course re-provisioning food and drinks before we take off for a couple of days up into the islands above La Paz during the Sea of Cortez Sailing Week. We missed it last year since we did the Puddle Jump across the Pacific in March last year, so we are looking forward to meeting old and new friends here in Mexico. We're off to the skippers meeting tonight and Allan's going to the open mic night at the local cruisers hangout. I'm sure we'll have some photos to follow.
03/20/2010, Turtle Bay, Baja, Mexico
Three short days in Ensenada, ensconced at Marina Coral, allowed Rina and I to clean up and re-provision the boat for our trip down the coast of Baja California. We caught a convenient hotel shuttle from the West Marine parking lot in San Diego with our gear and the spoils from our Port Supply and Downwind Marine runs. The 90 minute trip to the Hotel Coral along the coast helped reacquaint us with the Mexico we have been away from for the past year. On Saturday, our trip to the Port of Ensenada to inspect Follow You before the boat was lowered into the water was delayed from 10am to 6pm, precipitating an additional night in the hotel before floating her off Dockwise Sunday morning. The boat travelled the 5000+ miles pretty well, with only rusty stanchions to show for her journey. This was much better than our friends Tom and Monique's catamaran Zen, with a new paint job, which had been covered in Auckland by shrinkwrap for her journey. Super Servant 3 encountered 55 knot winds and rough seas around the Cook Islands, which tore or bent most of the stanchions on Zen. Fortunately her new topsides and hull paint job still looked great, with only 3-4 gouges where the uprooted stanchions had bashed the nearby hull.
For two days at Marina Corel, Rina and I cleaned Follow You, inside and out, removing gummy tape residue and rust stains from deck and stainless. Our new friends Emily and Mark from S/V Groovy had a pickup truck, greatly easing the logistics of our provisioning runs to Commercial and Soriana, where we stocked up for our 2 week run down the coast of Baja. As thanks we invited them over for a manicotti dinner and boat talk, as they are at the very beginning of their cruising journey, having just purchased Groovy, a Hunter 44DS, and learning to sail in the last year. Thank you Mark and Emily and best of luck on your own sailing journey.
We checked out of Ensenada on Wednesday and headed down the coast in mild conditions, sailing, then motorsailing overnight as the winds died. At sunset we were munching some snacks when we noticed the engine temperature rising slightly and a hollow sound coming from the exhaust. We eased the throttle, which made no difference. So after cutting the engine, I went below to investigate. We found a mildly fouled seawater strainer... it's amazing how rich in bio-matter the pacific coast is compared with the entire South Pacific, where clear blue waters are the rule. The green sludge of plankton, kelp and assorted other creatures created a mild blockage, but was ultimately not the cause of our overheating. My first reflex was engine impeller, but then reflected on past episodes and how the simplest explanation usually was correct. As we continued to sail towards San Carlos, I exercised the primary thru-hull for the engine (we have two, one at the thru-hull and another just before the strainer to simplify cleaning), noting a slight resistance, pointing to something we may have sucked up in the kelp infested waters. Removing the strainer and opening the thru-hull revealed a continued blockage, so after reconnecting and priming the system, I rev'ed the engine to 2500 RPM's, sucking the above small apricot-sized kelp ball into the strainer, clearing the obstacle. After a big sigh of relief at NOT having to replace an impeller in the middle of a seaway, we continued on down the coast.
Our original plan to spend the next night in San Quentin, about 120 miles down the coast from Ensenada was replaced by plan b, San Carlos, 60 mile further. This was due to major new sand bars in the San Quentin anchorage which would have forced us to anchor in an open seaway where the 10 foot Pacific swells were rolling in every 10 seconds. As it was, the reflected swells in San Carlos were almost as bad, becoming more sharp and frequent as they bent around the point. We spent a rolly night in the anchorage, tossing and turning in our bunk, dreaming of the warmer and calmer waters of the Sea of Cortez. We left mid-morning on Friday for the 126 mile overnight run to Turtle Bay, where we last anchored with 160 boats in the 2008 Baja Haha. The passage around Cedros Island is notorious for bashing boats around as the wind funnels between the mainland and the island, but conditions were benign as we tucked behind the island at midnight, with smooth seas and little wind as we motored the next 10 hours into Turtle Bay. We arrived mid-morning and finding only 3 other boats in the anchorage, settled close to the dock as Enrique the fuel guy came to greet us. The small village of perhaps 500 people is quiet as a chilled 20 knot wind blows through the streets and anchorage. The buzz we last experienced here in 2008 has been replaced by calm, likely the normal state of things in this lonely outpost in the middle of Baja California.