We're back!!!! Arrived a couple of days ago, coming home to a dirty boat and a freezer on the fritz. Great time in California visiting friends and family and Riley the mutt.
We've moved the boat to the nearby El Cid Resort to play tourist, enjoying the pool and restaurants for New Years and Rina's birthday on the 2nd. Hopefully we can get our freezer fixed by Mike from Mexicolder in the next couple of days, otherwise we may be sticking around a couple of days longer.
It's new years... lets hope for a better 2009!
allan and rina
12/16/2008, Sutter Creek
Riley, our faithful mutt, says she misses Allan and Rina, so we're home in chilly Sutter Creek, where there is still 2 inches of snow on the ground in places. We'll be here for 2 weeks, returning Mazatlan on the 27th. Christmas at Mom's in Volcano, where there's 1-2 feet of snow, promising a white Christmas.
We'll be on a blogging hiatus until we return to Mazatlan on the 27th. To all our cruising friends as well as our land-borne friends and family, have a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a great New Year...
We completed our crossing of the Sea of Cortez around 2pm under clear blue skies, lining up the jetty north of the city at the El Cid Marina. We watched a sailboat enter from a distance and all appeared well as we approached at 3-4 knots.
As we got closer, we noticed the water clouding with sand, and expected that it came from the nearby beach. Just after completing that thought, the boat slammed to a halt, sending Rina into a bulkhead. It wasn't a big hit, just an unexpected one, therefore a bit jarring. I quickly backed off the sand bar and tried again with the same result, this time more gently.
Hmmmm... didnt expect this. Cruising guides don't mention concerns with sand bars here, it's a major port, therefore should be deep enough for most vessels, and while we draw 6.5 feet, many boats draw more. What I did *not* plan for was the lowest tide in 6 months, a minus 2 feet, where the normal tide range is about 4 feet. That's a 50% deviation from normal. Doesnt matter, Stupid Boat Trick #5? NOT CHECKING THE TIDE TABLES BEFORE ENTERING AN UNFAMILIAR PORT. duh.
We backed off the bar for a second time and hung out about 100 yards off and hailed the Mazatlan fleet and asked for some local knowledge. The friendly and gregarious crew of Don Quixote reminded me of the tide situation and then a local explained how best to get over.... ride a swell and bear to the right side of the channel.
Tide was going to be at it's lowest in 1.5 hours and would not be at a high again for another 8 hours.... now or maybe never.... I head for the channel and Rina, who *hates* the idea of running aground and getting stuck says "I'm going down below" (to fret of course!)
I came in as recommended just as a nice swell hit the entrance. I watched the depth gauge... 2....1.... .8 .6 Then a swell raises us up and settles us in the channel 1.5 2.5 3.... sweet!
We head down the narrowest channel we've ever been in, must have been 30 feet max, with rocks on both sides for about a mile until we get to Marina Mazatlan. We cleaned up the boat, got checked in, and then hung out on the dock boxes with a bunch of locals watching the sunset.
From the locals we learn that the above dredge works every day except Sunday, all day except one hour in the morning and one in the afternoon, to keep the channel entrance open.... Live and learn!
12/14/2008, 23 25.34'N:107 17.552'W, Los Muertos
On Friday we left La Paz for the 8 hour trip down to Los Muertos, where we spent several days early in November. Los Muertos offers a closer departure for the 190 mile trip across the Sea of Cortez. We had been watching the weather for several days along with Third Day, Lea Scotia, Sun Baby, Trumpeter and several other boats. After the "norther" came through, with 6-8 foot seas and 25-28 knot winds, the timing seemed right. BouyWeather and other weather sights predicted light seas and winds 5-10 knots from the north.
We left Muertos at 11am Saturday, hoping to average 7 knots to Mazatlan, which would put us into the harbor entrance before dark... it's *always* better to enter an unfamiliar harbor during daylight hours, especially a busy one, as the lights of the city, the surrounding sand bars, and the inaccuracy of electronic charts down here all conspire for surprises. The first 20 miles was as forecast, calm seas, light winds, with the only surprise being the 7 knot winds were right on the nose, coming out of the east. We motored with the main sail out, more aspirational than anything as the sail did not add any additional speed. After 4 hours a set of 3-5 foot rollers began coming out of the Southeast, which was a bit odd, but a portent of things to come.
By 4pm the wind had increased to 15-18 knots, shifted around to the South a bit and the seas increased to 5-6 feet, still from the Southeast. This allowed us to motorsail more effectively, increasing boat speed to almost 8 knots while the engine was only doing about 2k RPMs. Unfortunately the wind angle would not allow us to sail only without giving up VMG, or velocity made good, towards our destination. Oh well, that's what happens when you sail on a schedule... These conditions lasted most of the night, as Rina and I traded 3 hour watches from about 8pm, with the off-watch person sleeping in the converted settee in the main cabin. This offered the smoothest ride in the bumpy seas. Most of the day we saw no traffic. It may only be a "Sea" but it's plenty big and lonely out in the middle. Lonely, that is, except the 3 seabirds that keep trying to land on our swaying mast.... I keep thinking "stupid birds" but after 30 minutes of trying, they finally figure out how to land on the mast spreader, where one of them proceeds to poop all over the deck for the next 2 hours. No amount of yelling or shining our 2M candlelight spotlight will move him. Rina just laughs at me.
By 2am, seas became calmer and winds subsided to 7-10 knots and again shifted East, forcing Rina to bring in the main sail in her overnight shift. Our sunrise was interesting, with a line of thunder bumper-like clouds along the hidden coast, as we are still 50 miles from shore. The sun is a red glow behind these clouds, with what looks like fog behind, but as we get closer, this dissipates into morning mist. While yesterday had lots of clouds overhead from the "Pineapple Express", today looks to be mostly clear. The Pineapple Express brings high clouds and humidity up from the tropics into Baja. Makes for gloomy but sticky days, and is one of the reasons many of us are ready to head further South. Ooooh!, as I'm typing this, sitting at the helm, I look up and caught the above picture... cool. If I turn around and look behind me, the Pineapple Express still looks like it's covering Baja but Mazatlan is forecasting clear with occasional clouds and 84 degrees.
Rina is off to sleep, and I'm passing time catching up with many podcasts that I had downloaded in La Paz. Several months worth of "Fresh Air", "This American Life", "Real Time with Bill Maher" and others made those late night watches pass quickly. We will slip the boat at Marina Mazatlan for the next couple of weeks and head home for the holidays to see family, then return for New Years at the El Cid Marina and Resort where get this, you can get *room service* at your boat. Nice way to bring in the new year, eh?
Well, it's 7am, time to log, gotta go!
12/12/2008, La Paz
After almost too much chill time in La Paz, were headed for Mazatlan via Los Muertos this morning. We expect an 8 hour motorsail to Los Muertos, where we plan to stay a day or two, then make an overnight crossing to Mazatlan.
What have we learned? While marina life is nice, we like it in short doses... The upside is lots of water for cleaning the boat, little or no rocking, restaurants nearby, easy to go places on the bikes...the downside.... worker dudes at all hours of the day, smoking up a storm, thumping music (normally a good thing!) until 4am on weekends, lack of nature, etc.
It's interesting that we both have the itch to keep moving, as opposed to hanging out in one area for weeks. The La Paz cruising community is rightfully enamored of the local cruising grounds, but we are looking forward to a change of scenery. We will miss the many friends we have made here, but we are sure to run into many of them down the road. We expect to spend more time in the Sea of Cortez in the springtime, when it warms back up..... it was a brisk 61 degrees this morning. ( I know, no sympathy from our friends up north)
12/09/2008, La Paz
We're still in La Paz, waiting for a "norther" to pass late thursday. On the face of it, 20 knot winds and 5 ft seas do not seem significant to those of us trained in San Francisco Bay. The Sea of Cortez weather routers beg to differ however. The problem here is that the waves are square... that is, 5 foot waves every 5 seconds. Even going downwind the seas become very fatiguing. These conditions will last until late Thursday so we'll hang out till Friday then head South.
In the mean time, we've been doing small projects around the boat and doing day sails to places like Balandra, which is a great beach with La Paz's famous mushroom rock.
Check the gallery for more pics of projects and the sights around La Paz.
12/05/2008, La Paz
Corey Aka Human Gilligan DUDE!
You made us laugh our butt's off... Had to review the history books on YouTube....
Here's Corey's comment from our post below about Christmas.
12/05/2008 | Corey (AKA Gilligan - Person not dog) (funseekrz att yahoo dott com)
Ho Ho Ho. Santa will be pleased to visit you. He can skip the suit and throw on some surf shorts (stay away from the Med, he wears a speedo there). I'm please to see this is a multi denominational boat. Both Christmas and a +60' Festivus pole on deck. Great hearing from you. Love the updates.
12/05/2008, La Paz
Two wonderful %&^$$ examples of "Try the simple solution first" recently...
- The remote microphone at the helm has been intermittent forever. so of course I'm cleaning connectors, trying to source new cables, talking with repair guys in multiple locations in search of the holy grail. So Rina and I are pulling various components recently, documenting serial numbers for our Mexican "Temporary Import Permit" which allows you to import replacement parts duty free from the U.S. Low and behold, as I pull the unit out, the other end of the helm station cable is just *****SITTING***** on the connector. Plug it in and bingo, problem solved.
Stupid boat trick #5 was even better. We've had a water leak in one of the overhead portlight (windows) forever. I've resealed the portlight below and above, which took care of water coming into the cabin around the portlight itself, but instead diverted the water between the inner and outer cabin and onto a bookshelf. So here in La Paz I sealed it again, and it still leaked. Grrrr. So, I stepped back, asking myself what I missed. What is a simpler explanation.... So I look around it again, and think about these little silver screws that held the portlight in during installation. My assumption was the dealer sealed them. So I pull them out and 3 of them are loose and have no sealant. Long and boring story short, problem solved.
We'll be leaving La Paz to enjoy the islands again for the next 4 days, meeting up with Lea Scotia and 3rd Day for a passage to Mazatlan later in the week after a norther passes through.
12/02/2008, La Paz
Saw your comment about Topolobampo. we are seriously considering going up there and then to Los Altata before Mazatlan. Love the fact that they are off the beaten path. Only problem may be how far north it is. Weather is holding however, and as long as it is warm, Rina is in.
Gotta check out this pic of Carinthia from the islands.... it's even more stunning in high resolution.
12/02/2008, La Paz
Hanging out at Marina Palmira today, chores in the morning.... putting the genset fuel system back in order, defrosting the freezer and other mundane stuff. Took a bike ride this afternoon along the long Malecon (waterfront walkway) where we saw Carinthia off, as they are heading to Puerto Vallarta to be hauled out for some repairs. We'll see them again in about 5 weeks when we make it down there after New Years.
Then rode back and ran into Trevor, Karisa, and Kira from Lea Scotia at a taco stand, where we hung out having a couple beers, chips and salsa. We'll buddy-boat with Lea Scotia from La Paz over to Mazatlan in a couple of weeks.
Gotta check out all the pictures from tonight. in the picture gallery. Rina was doing a little Christmas nesting, putting up the lights and decorations during yet another (sorry Donna) stunning sunset.
Gene, gotta check out the old 38' DownEaster with a crusty old guy named "boomer" aboard.
The cute little puppy is "Gilligan", not to be confused with Corey, who only played Gilligan in our award winning Haha costume party, who bit me today as I petted him, picking him completely off the ground as he ground his teeth into my hand. Yea, cute...