Mission San Francsico Javier
10/13/2008, Baja, Mexico
Built in 1699 - one of the first in Baja and surrounded by a little Mexican village that make a mean Burrito for lunch!
Jeff Occupying Kirsty Before Hurricane Norbert
10/13/2008, Rock Art Site, Baja, Mexico
All smiles - beautiful sunny day - the calm before the storm (Norbert)
4x4 in the Arroyo
10/13/2008, On the Road to Mission San Francisco Javier, Mexico
A boys heaven - the start of 30kms of 4x4 track on the way to Mission San Francisco Javier
First Hurricane – An Easy Ride, We Were Lucky
Kirsty, Windy, Cool (For Mexico anyway)
10/13/2008, Puerto Escondido, Mexico
We have been holed up in Puerto Escondido for more than a week waiting for Hurricane Norbert to make his grand entrance. A very long time to wait and according to the locals a lot longer notice than they normally get when a Hurricane is approaching. We have been watching him fester since we left La Paz three weeks ago - he's going slower than we are!
So what do you do with yourself while waiting? Of course we spent a fair bit of time getting Nemesis ready to weather the storm - it took a couple of days to put things away below decks and clear above decks - she was the tidiest we have seen her since we first boarded her back in July when we finished. The biggest question was if the mooring ball we were on would stand up to the forecast hurricane force winds of 65 - 85kts. After much discussion and thought we decided to put out our primary anchor as a backup in case the mooring ball broke free... they have been know to do that in previous storms. We had been told that all the moorings balls have been upgraded since the last Hurricane came through and all are secure - but we didn't want to take any chances - with either Nemesis or ourselves.
I, of course was fretting, I've not been through a Hurricane before and Norbert was forecast to pass right over the top of us. Jeff decided to distract me - a week really is a long time to wait, especially if you have no patience like me - so with Norbert due to arrive on Sat, on the Wed before we hired a Jeep and drove out into the very large mountain range just behind Puerto Escondido - Sierra La Giganta, to see a mission that was built in 1699 by the Spanish. The Sierrras also serve as a handy block to approaching Hurricanes. The mission is about 30kms off the main road, on a dirt track for most of the way - Jeff got to do some 4x4 driving in the arroyo (creek bed) as well as up the rocky track into the mountains, so he was happy! We stopped at some rock art along the way - this part of the Baja has been populated for about 9000 years. The mission was in a beautiful valley in the peak of the mountains and had a little town surrounding it - the locals still use the mission as their local church. There was lots of storm preparation going on as we headed out towards the mission, mainly locals stocking up on fuel and water. The roads are often closed for a few days after a Hurricane because of the amount of rain that dumps during the storm - we were expecting 4-10" and ended up with 8" over about 8 hours. After the mission we headed into Loreto, which is the closest local town, do some provisioning. As soon as Norbert had gone we planned to head to the Mexican mainland.
Back to Norbert - by Friday night we were completely ready, everything was lashed down, I'd spent the afternoon making provisions (comfort food) to munch on during Norbert - home made Ham & Pineapple Pizza and Chocolate Cake. The weather was completely calm, as it had been for the past few days, although we were starting to see some cloud cover approaching - the first indication that the Hurricane was finally going to put in an appearance. There were a lot of other boats around us - everyone seeking shelter.
It's a very strange experience waiting for a Hurricane. Once everything is put away, there is absolutely nothing to do but wait. We deflated Bongo (our dingy) Friday night and put him away so there was no way for us to get off Nemesis - we were in lock down. We both had a full night of sleep Friday night - the conditions were absolutely calm, not a hint of wind, it was all being sucked into Norbert, which at that point was still sitting off the coast of the Baja in the Pacific Ocean - cranking along at 110kts, Hurricane Force 2. There was not even any need to do an anchor watch because we were so securely attached to both the mooring ball and the anchor. Its one of the first nights at anchor that both of us slept through without waking up to do anchor watch in the middle of the night.
Sat morning we listened in to the local cruisers net at 8am to get the weather updates - Norbert was forecast to come ashore at Magdalena Bay on the West Coast of the Baja (we were on the East Coast of the Baja, about 100miles NE of Mag Bay) still blowing 100kts around 9am. Based on all the forecasts he was still projected to come straight over the top of us in the mid afternoon and that we could expect to start seeing rain and strong winds from around noon. We were expected to get sustained winds around 65kts, with gusts up to 85kts - what fun!
We decided to eat our way through Norbert, Jeff cooked up a Mexican fry up for breakfast, to go along with our pizza and cake - it was sensational. By now the sky was a block of grey and as the morning moved on we got some really heavy rain and the visibility dropped down to almost nothing. The winds picked up early afternoon - we had been passing the time reading, snoozing, eating and listening to the chatter on the VHF, the locals are vey active and close knit and they were giving regular weather updates, advice and encouragement during Norbert, which was great for us considering we really didn't know what to expect. As it turns out Norbert was a bit of a fizzer in our area, he passed about 50 miles south of us instead of right over us - which is a lot of area in Hurricane speak - the Hurricane winds were only in effect for 35 miles from the centre. In Hurricane terms Norbert was very powerful but very small at only 300 miles across in total. The Hurricanes in the Atlantic (the ones that hit the East Coast of the USA) can be up to 800 miles across, which was the size Ike was when he passed through a month or so ago.
We got a lot of rain, sustained winds in the 40 - 50kt range, with gusts in the high 50kts. From start to finish it was over in less than 8 hours, shorter than a normal work day, with about 4-5 hours of strong wind and rain. Jeff even donned his snorkel and did a quick check of the mooring ball and anchor chain to make sure they weren't twisted around noon. Nemesis held up exceptionally well, we had a couple of leaks from the rain, which we already knew about and we lost our hawk - he was down to one prong anyway because a bird had sat on it and broken it earlier in the week, but apart from that everything else was fine.
By early evening everything was back to normal - the wind had died out to nothing - once again everything was being sucked along with Norbert, which was headed for the Mexican mainland. I opened a bottle of red wine to celebrate our survival of our first Hurricane - and for me, hopefully our last.
Hurricane Season is Cranking!
Kirsty, The Calm Before the Storm
10/09/2008, Puerto Escondido, Mexico - Thankfully a Hurricane Hole
Well here we are sitting in Puerto Escondido, Baja California, Mexico lashed down and waiting for not one but two possibly two Hurricanes to pass us by.
We have been blessed by one of the quietest Septembers for Hurricanes on record, doesnt look like October is going to be as kind.
Puerto Escondido is a hurricane hole and the safest place for us to be right now - we are in a marina, quite literally in the calm before the storm and the waiting is the worst thing about it.
Hurricane Norbert is due on Saturday, and right after that Tropical Storm, soon to be Hurricane Odile. we might be lucky and Odile will go somewhere else fingers crossed!
Fishing is MESSY
10/03/2008, cockpit de Nemesis
Yes, some of our ropes are now a light pink in color..