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The Cruise of Mariposa
Mea Culpa aboard Mariposa
Eric/Strong wind from the North
30-Oct-2009, La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico

"We were following your blog and then it stopped. We figured you really went CRUISING!"

This sentiment from Bill on Apple II is the sort of thing that throws down the gauntlet and gets one writing again. Perhaps some excuses will help get us over the hump.

Excuse #1: "It was too hot to write." While technically not true, we are not such stalwarts that the daily 100 degree temperatures didn't affect us. Cruiser lore has it that there is no sex to be had in the Sea of Cortez during the summer; blogs suffer similarly. Sweating freely throughout the day and night reduces the appetite for a lot of things.

Excuse #2: "It was too hot to write on the computer." This part is entirely true. I am rather proud that I outlasted my 13-month-old laptop in the heat. Its specification sheet guarantees nothing when the ambient temperatures rise above 95 degrees, and it got well above 100. The computer stopped charging, and then a few days later Windows Vista froze (it was the only thing freezing, ha ha) for the last time. Now I have a new laptop, the temps are down, and life in general can resume.

Excuse #3: "There wasn't that much to write about." This is also true. Enervated by the heat and trepidatious about hurricanes, chubascos and their lesser weather cousins we spent a couple of months growing to the seafloor in Puerto Escondido. Somehow we just didn't do all that much that seemed worth writing about. Too, Hurricane Jimena dwarfed our emotions.

Now that we have that out of the way, there's lots to write about. In the coming weeks I will be filling the blog going all the way back to June. Simultaneously, I will be keeping up-to-date as we head north again.

31-Oct-2009 | Jay Mechling
And still you won't switch to an Apple laptop. Sounds stubborn to me. Glad the blog is back up. Bit chilly here in the Bay Area. Yep, dry and chilly. Did I mention foggy? There, you've suffered enough. Looking forward to hearing more as you sail back home.
10-Nov-2009 | Virginia Cross
What no sex? There is always varnishing. Good to see you back online. Where are you headed?
Some Hurricane Followup
16-Sep-2009, Puerto Escondido, BCS, Mexico

The world has turned absolutely beautiful since Hurricane Jimena dissipated into a remnant low over the Sea of Cortez. The nine inches of rain it left behind here brought the ecology to life. The red-brown cliffs and rocks are now flush with thrilling bright green verdure, the hot breeze blooming fragrant like Paradise. The animals are fat, the water teeming with infant fish, birds singing in the brush. The weather is still very hot but there are signs of cooling with the approach of Fall.

Life here is largely back to normal since the hurricane, though some supplies are still in short supply. This is not the case everywhere, though. Here's what we've heard lately.

- Lopez Mateos, a small town on the Pacific near where the storm made landfall, suffered terrible damage. Over 150 homes were destroyed, and 90% of the structures were badly damaged. As of yesterday morning, no relief had arrived at the town's airstrip since the storm.
- I previously reported that a prison in nearby Ciudad Constitucion was blown over, killing more than 70 prisoners. In fact, the prisoners were saved and no lives were lost. A similar collapse occurred near Guaymas, where a prison fell down with no loss of life. In both cases guards are credited with saving the lives of many prisoners.
- Between 14 and 18 boats were sunk or driven ashore in San Carlos harbor on the mainland, and numerous boats were blown off their stands in dry storage there.
- Here in Puerto Escondido, the Perry ketch "Waverly" and the ferrocement ketch "Spirit" were both--amazingly--recovered from the mangroves by Singlar staff and the gentlemen from the sportfisher "Bad Company" who had already acquitted themselves so well rescuing Jaime during the hurricane. The Albin Vega "Wanderlust" remains in the mangroves, its rigging dangling forlornly.

Tropical Storm 16-E is presently stalled off the Pacific coast after a very faltering development over the past several days. All the models predict it will dissipate harmlessly in the next day or two, and we are all relieved. Only a month left of the season!

21-Sep-2009 | c dock don
WOW! an internet 1st. while reading your hurricane
follow up i was listening to mozart's 19th piano concerto. somehow your words in counterpoint to the music, brought tears to my eyes. the unusual emotion was so strong that i wanted to tell you. GLAD that all is well with you both.
7-Oct-2009 | Lara J
So glad you're ok. Miss you! xo, Lara
12-Oct-2009 | Alana Unger
www.eebmike.com. This is the tracking site for a potential new storm over Baja. IN THE EVENT THAT YOU ARE CHECKING THIS BLOG FOR AN UPDATE.... Eric, Sarka, and the Mariposa have begun their homeward sail, are fine, but the computer for the blog has crashed. Richard and I are hoping to take a replacement next week-- if the storm permits! Stay tuned.
20-Oct-2009 | Chris and Rani (s/v Ladybug)
Greetings Eric and Sarka! We met you in California... Glad to hear you are safe and sound. We are currently in La Paz on Ladybug II . waiting out another tropical storm (Rick). Drop us a line if you have a chance and are still in the Sea. crbennet at gmail.com

Chris and Rani
Post-Jimena Update
Eric/Not so hurricaney
4-Sep-2009, Puerto Escondido, BCS, Mexico

By dawn this morning hurricane Jimena had passed us for good and the winds had died down here. People in Puerto Escondido had rested a bit and could begin to enjoy the relief that it was over after more than thirty hours of very high winds and very heavy rain, followed by hours and hours of gusty wind and thick, dark, cloudy skies. The sun came out this morning and the air has been cool and refreshing; people seem tired but cheerful.

What we have learned about the hurricane's effect elsewhere is sobering, however. After its landfall in Magdalena Bay on the west side of the Baja peninsula, the hurricane passed to our north, hitting Ciudad Constitucion, Mulege and Santa Rosalia before crossing to the middle of the Sea of Cortez, where it sat stationary for some hours, wreaking havoc on Guaymas. The small port village of San Carlos in Magdalena Bay is reported to have suffered 50 casualties. In Ciudad Constitucion a prison collapsed in the wind, killing at least 70 prisoners; 90% of the structures there suffered severe damage. Loreto just to our north is without power or water, though two gas stations have generators and are keeping traffic flowing. The main roads are open but they lead to towns that have been taken over by the army due to widespread destruction. Mulege was badly flooded and one report is that their main bridge was washed away--a bridge that was 25 feet above the arroyo floor. Every roof was damaged in that town, and the floodwaters were more than two feet deep in the fire station, which is on high ground. Geary, the weatherman on the Sonrisa Net, reports that the palapas on the beaches around Bahia Concepcion have all been damaged or destroyed by 100-knot gusts. In Santa Rosalia a policeman was killed trying to save a man whose car was swept into the sea by floodwaters (the driver was saved), and the old marina was very badly damaged (the new Singlar marina fared fine, however). The harbor is apparently littered with cars and refrigerators carried there by the flood. In San Carlos/Guaymas on the mainland, at least fourteen boats were swept ashore or sunk, and boats in dry storage were blown off their stands. They too are without telephone service or electrical power.

Although the storm was long and terrifying, here in Puerto Escondido we have suffered less. At the height of the storm we experienced a maximum gust of 93 knots, or 107 miles per hour. Seven boats were blown free of their moorings; three remain hard aground within feet of each other in the mangroves in the northwest cove of the bay. These include "Spirit", a neglected 50-foot ferrocement ketch; "Waverly", a 41-foot Bob Perry ketch; and "Wanderlust", an apparently abandoned Albin Vega 27. A boat called "Nika" parted its mooring and ran gently aground in the southeast corner of the bay early Thursday morning; it was towed to another mooring by the marina staff. Two other boats cut loose in the Waiting Room just outside Puerto Escondido: "Tortuga", a large powerboat, and "Popeye," a Nelson Out Island 28(?). Both of those boats have been secured. And finally, as I reported yesterday, Jaime aboard "Saltshaker," a Cascade 42, had his mooring pendant part during the storm and bravely reanchored in Cocktail Cove during white-out squalls. His was the only attended boat to break free. Out of around fifty boats on Singlar moorings, only three failed during the storm: Jaime's was one.

Four power poles were blown down on the road out here from Highway 1, and a number of newly-planted palm trees were blown to crazy angles. There is no electricity, water or telephone service here. Cruisers have lent generators to the Puerto Bello restaurant and store to keep their freezers going and the beer cold. People keep arriving, looking a little tired and vulnerable, and swapping congratulations on making it through. Tomorrow night there will be a Hurricane Barbecue to celebrate.

Sarka and I came back to our own boat after two nights hiding in the massively-built Singlar building to find "Mariposa" very clean on the outside but otherwise entirely unscathed. Our chafing gear was tired but the lines are in good shape despite the hours of yanking in the wind. Our Perry-designed Baba 30 sails at anchor, and we watched her dance back and forth for hours during the storm, often heeling precipitously when she was hit broadside by fierce gusts. So when we returned to the boat during the waning storm we were quite surprised to find nothing out of place down below, and she was entirely dry down below. The clock was ticking steadily and the books were in their cubbies. It felt very good to be home.

7-Sep-2009 | Virginia Cross
You had us shaking in our foul weather boots for you. We are so glad that all three of you are safe and sound. It must have been dreadful having to wait for the "hit." You must be exhausted as well, and we are thinking of you and hoping it won't put you off the whole damn business of cruising.
By the way if you see Kenny and Nancy Nordstom of "Brandywine" tell them we are hoping they made it through in one piece too.
At the mouth of the Panama Canal on "Mandy" and feeling very small in a big fish bowl. There is atentative date of the 12th for our crossing but if you have the energy after tagging on all your sails again, our blog will give better times and a webcam site which should be a bit of fun.
Best wishes from us. Virginia & Richard
8-Sep-2009 | Tripp
The crew's excellent preparations, both before leaving Sausalito (CA) and for the storm paid off! Sounds like Mariposa is a real champ! Glad to hear you guys went through that well. -Good to have a hurricane story for this journey!
8-Sep-2009 | Cathy R
Really good news to hear that you successfully weathered the storm and that the books are all properly in order :-) What an adventure - you'll be telling that story for years to come. You've had some hard work - I'd say it's time now for a vacation!
9-Sep-2009 | Tepeu
Glad to see you weathered the wrath of Huracan- must still be some mud people down there. Remember to sing praises to Heart-of-Sky.
Miss you guys-
10-Sep-2009 | Nancy
OMG! So glad to hear you all weathered the storm. Is it time to plan the return trip? If you pass by Monterey, drinks on me! Take care, Nancy
11-Sep-2009 | Bridgett
So glad you are both okay! I have been to Guaymas and san Carlos, and it was very distrubing to read about how ahrd that area was hit. What a blessing that the mariposa is in great shape. Glad y know that you are back to your snug little watery home. Here's hoping for many calm and uneventful days ahead....
Hurricane Jimena Update
Eric/Storm breaking up
3-Sep-2009, Puerto Escondido, BCS, Mexico

We're fine after the passage of hurricane Jimena. Sarka and I spent two nights in a steel bunker of a marina building, sleeping on our upside-down inflatable dinghy. We came back to the boat this morning after 30 hours of very, very intense winds and rain. The boat was perfectly fine, no leaks even, and it didn't blow away and wind up on the rocks like six other boats did (there are about 50 boats here). The storm was incredible...the air was totally white with rain and spray at times...we couldn't see more than about 100 feet and we were holed up on dry land, protected by a two-story building. At times people on their boats couldn't see anything at all.

The whole thing started at 1:30 on Tuesday morning and hasn't totally let up yet. The maximum sustained winds here were probably around 60 knots (75 miles an hour) with gusts over 100. There were probably 20 hours of very serious winds and very heavy rain. We got 9 inches of rain.

The only Mexican cruiser anybody has ever met, Jaime, was on his boat during the height of the storm, when it broke off its mooring and drifted. He called out on the radio "I'm loose! I'm loose!" and then managed to get his boat moving under power to a slightly more protected cove, where he anchored somehow by himself. Then he started to drag into some other boats that were already there, and a big, very fancy powerboat left its own mooring, drove over to him and dropped off a crewmember to help Jaime. The two of them managed to relocate Jaime's boat to a new mooring where he rode out the remainder of the storm. It was extremely dramatic, as we watched it from shore with our binoculars.

Anyway, we're really tired now and waiting for the storm to go away altogether. Right now the winds are 10-20 knots with 40-knots gusts, and the sky has some blue windows in it that we are hoping will expand to replace the mess of every other kind of cloud streaming by below it.

The storm apparently traveled north-northeast from here and struck the town of Mulege and then Santa Rosalia, and perhaps went northeast and is now bashing San Carlos and Guaymas. Our different weather sources don't agree about the location, intensity, or future direction of the storm, although multiple reports would have it come back our way. This is hard to believe so we're not believing it and just waiting for things to pass. The eye of the storm apparently passed only about fifty miles west of us, putting us well within the hurricane-force blow.

We took some pictures--of the storm, of flailing boats, of the waterfalls streaming off the cliffs, of our storm shelter, of the orange sunrise through the black clouds--and will post them when electricity and Internet service have been restored.

3-Sep-2009 | Alana
After reading enough conflicting reports to assume the storm had reduced to something less fearsome, yours is the one that counts. So glad to hear the Mariposa is fine, and not as exhausted as the two of you. What a drama around Jaime; it is heartwarming to know how the community pitches in together. Heroic even to watch it happening! We trust that whatever remains of Jimena '09 may sweep westward again will be a good deal gentler. Thanks for the comforting update.
Hurricane Update
Eric/Cloudy; the wind is rising
31-Aug-2009, Puerto Escondido, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Well, the to-do list is mostly done. We have to tie down the boom and the whisker pole, and take off the dodger, and clean up a little, but for the most part we've battened down our hatches as best we can. The mooring lines are doubled and covered in split hose and tape, and the decks are just about clear. It was satisfying work on a clear, hot, windless day; the calm before the storm.

Dozens of other boats came in or were towed in from adjacent anchorages today. The bay echoes with radio voices, "Aristocat Aristocat, this is Bodhisattva." People are pretty self-sufficient and the boats are more or less prepared, but there are still a lot of sun shades up and roller-furling jibs still on the forestays. Perhaps there will be enough time tomorrow.

Tomorrow night at 11:00 pm local time, Hurricane Jimena is predicted to hit land about 70 miles southwest of us at Magdalena Bay. When it hits, the winds will be 135 knots, with higher gusts. The weather graphics show Puerto Escondido with a 40% chance of getting hit with 50-70-knot winds and a 70% chance of encountering 39-50-knot winds. A 20% chance exists of getting hit with full hurricane-force winds. There will be torrential rain and flooding--they are predicting five to fifteen inches of rain throughout the area over a twenty-four hour period. Past hurricanes of Category 1 and 2 have devastated the place; this one is presently at the upper limit of Category 4.

We are contemplating leaving the boat during the storm and going ashore to stay in the sturdy marina buildings. If the winds are above 50 knots there's nothing we could do to help the boat, really, and we don't want to get hurt. We will listen to the forecasts closely to try to make our decision intelligently.

This may be the hardest part, the watching and waiting, wondering whether the clouds building over the clifftops are the beginning of the storm. Wondering when the wind might get too strong for us to get off the boat; wondering what it will sound like and when it will end.

1-Sep-2009 | Alana
Your blog is currently 5th in line on a Google page for the hurricane in P. Escondido. (Reading about this causes a curious shallowness of breathing. That should counter the winds a little, don't you think?) Thank you for blogging what's going on there; this is quite a service. Good luck AND have a good time riding this one out. Updates are appreciated.
1-Sep-2009 | Lynn
Here in PV the seas are calm, as are the winds and we've had no rain. Missing your presence and wishing you a safe
adventure that we will get to hear about.
Blessings,
1-Sep-2009 | Tripp
Yikes. I had been wondering where you guys were these days. All you can do is prepare and wait, and as Tom Petty said...the waiting's the hardest part. But then again, getting slammed by a Cat4 'cane is pretty hard too! -I'll be thinking of y'all and checking the NOAA site. Post up when it's over so we know you're OK!
1-Sep-2009 | anja
hi guys-
just got back to sf and haven't been up-to-date newswise lately, but when I saw something about a hurricane in MX on yahoo, I inmediately checked your blog - hope you guys are alright, thinking of you-Anja
2-Sep-2009 | Jay Mechling
Thinking about you all day Tuesday. Thoughts and prayers with you. Hope you did take that shelter at the marina.
2-Sep-2009 | donald white
my suggestion would be to get off the boat. you're concerns will be answered in the morning, without the bruises. you will be much more able to deal with it then
than during. the good news is that you can get off the boat.
luck be with you! c dock don
Preparing for Hurricane Jimena
Eric/Calm
31-Aug-2009, Puerto Escondido, Baja California Sur, Mexico

I just finished an eyesplice in some 5/8" nylon line; our new mooring pendant to supplement the barnacle-covered rope provided by the marina. I think the line will be strong enough, but I can only hope the chain it will shackle to, and the concrete block sitting on the bottom, can hold us. But I'm not as worried as I might be: It feels good to prepare for a hurricane because it wards off the fear.

Jimena is a Category 4 hurricane, the tenth tropical storm in the Eastern Pacific this year, and it's headed our way at about seven miles an hour. It is very intense, and it's the first one to come anywhere near us. The barometric pressure in the eye is estimated to be 945 millibars; sustained winds are 145 miles per hour and gusts are tens of knots harder. Fuelled by unusually warm seawater (1.5 degrees C above normal) and directed in a curve from northwest toward northeast by some low pressure over Baja, it has leapt in intensity over the past two days and pointed itself at the southern half of the Baja peninsula. All of the weather forecast models except one show it hitting the west coast of Baja sometime on Tuesday.

When the hurricane hits land its force will diminish rapidly, and as things stand now, the worst will be over by Wednesday. Because we are somewhat north, and on the other side of the peninsula from wherever Jimena makes landfall, at present it appears we will not bear the brunt of it. We'll probably begin to see some bad weather on Monday night or Tuesday morning, and if the hurricane in fact heads our way, Tuesday night will be a very long night indeed. In that case my eyesplice will be holding us against greater than 70-knot winds; thousands of pounds of pressure tugging at our mooring. Other boats, or our boat, will drag or simply break their mooring lines and make their way to their demise on the rocks that edge the bay. Loose objects will fly through the air, the boat will pitch and toss, the wind shrieking in the rigging, driving rain and spray leaving bruises on exposed skin.

It is against our fear of this very severe natural event that making our preparations feels good. It gives us some control, and gives us some activity beyond worrying. In another age we would spend the time praying or reading Scripture. I made a to-do list of the things we must do before the hurricane.

Get provisions
Charge batteries
Create and install mooring line with thimble
Put chafe protection on bridles
Remove headsails and stow
Remove mainsail and stow
Remove storm trysail and stow
Remove boom and stow
Remove dodger and frame
Remove sunshade
Take down radar reflector and courtesy flag
Fill diesel tank
Remove and stow windvane paddle
Rig stern anchor
Strike whisker pole on deck
Strike boathook on deck
Remove liferaft and stow
Reeve messenger lines and remove halyards; stow
Stow barbecue
Remove ventilators
Clean and stow outboard motor
Deflate and stow dinghy
Prepare foul weather gear
Put masks and snorkels somewhere we can find them (if we have to go outside, it's the only way we'll be able to see)
Prepare life vests and tethers
Get food ready
Get settees ready and put up lee cloths (we normally sleep in the bow, but it will be full of the above items on the list)

Probably all the other boaters in Puerto Escondido--and there are more arriving all the time--have a litany of tasks like these. This afternoon people were sitting on the shore having a potluck and passing around the tequila bottle. Alcohol won't help get the list done, though it might help with the anxiety.

On Monday we will spend the day checking things off this list, and once or twice we will get online to see what we have to look forward to. We also listen to amateur weather forecasters on the SSB radio. If you'd like to follow the progress of the hurricane, all of us here are looking at the following two sites to get our information:

http://www.eebmike.com -- all-in-one-place weather imagery for Baja California
http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/refresh/graphics_ep3+shtml/204214.shtml?5-daynl#contents -- the US National Hurricane Center's page about this hurricane, with lots of very detailed information about wind speeds, rationales for the forecasts, how the prediction models work, etc.

If you want to see where we are for comparison, get yourself to Google Maps and ask it to show you 25.82283N, 111.30592W (in more nautical terms, we're at 25 49.371N, 111 18.571W). If you can get to the right zoom level, you'll see we're in Puerto Escondido, a traditional "hurricane hole" that offers all-around, all-weather protection. In the abstract, safe as houses. In reality, we couldn't be in a better place except somewhere where there aren't hurricanes.

Wish us luck, please don't worry about us, and we'll update you when we can.

Eric & Sarka

31-Aug-2009 | Bob Towar
E & S--all your friends are thinking of you and wishing you high excitement but low danger. May fairer winds soon return...

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