Trying to keep it interesting - edited version
03/24/2007, Marina Mazatlan
Thank you all for the supportive and constructive comments. The input is very appreciated.
I want to make a couple of quick comments.
First I should say that there IS an anchorage in Mazatlan, near the old harbor, but we have not been there. We have only HEARD that it can sometimes be stinky when the nearby sewage treatment plant winds blow the wrong way; but that may only happen occasionally. We have heard that many people like the anchorage...and in a few days we may go anchor there ourselves.
Also, I want to ask Per, Steen's dad, if by 'hope', he is referring to the Danish word 'oenske', which Steen told me can also mean 'to look forward to, with anticipation'. Do you mean that we could be accomplishing something by the very fact that we are sailing and possibly crossing the Pacific Ocean - and to feel a satisfaction from that in itself? Sometimes there are language subtleties that don't translate easily. I was just wondering...
That's all for now....almost.
There are so many topics that could be explored regarding travel, life changes, family, productivity, and others - that it could encompass several separate blogs. I'm sure there are many other blog sites already exploring those topics, so maybe I, and we aboard Radiance, will try to keep a more narrow focus and not stray too far from our experiences as a sailing family.
[What are you talking about Angela? What does the cruising life involve if not exatly that?...'travel, life changes, family, and productivity?]
[Oh, yah, I guess you're right; well then, nevermind, we'll carry on with whatever topics happen to come up. Every topic may not be interesting to everyone...but that's all right. ]
One more thing: 'Blogging' is a phenomenon similar to 'Photoshop', (1990's software)...suddenly everyone has the ability to 'publish' their own creations, whether interesting or not. (My mom, who manages a full scale printing shop, has some thoughts on that subject). I hope on this blog we don't get too 'full of ourselves'. Someone please stop us if we do. Maybe more on that later.
Goodbye for now,
Angela and the captain and crew,
...just trying to keep it interesting.
03/19/2007, Marina Mazatlan
We are still here at Marina Mazatlan. Until now, I guess I have been self-editing the blog postings to eliminate any negativity or undue seriousness from coming through the words; and most definitely trying to eliminate whining...nobody likes a whiner.
This experience aboard is, however, more than about having a good time. We also think seriously about why we are choosing to live this way, and what our actions mean for our extended families and friends. Added to that, at each place we visit, I tend to analyze the local conditions; economically, politically, and socially...as best I can with limited background information. Also, we do not necessarily like every place we go.
Our own family dynamics form the main dimension of this adventure. Anyone with a two year old can probably appreciate the day to day trials as well as joys of parenthood, and can imagine how life on board a boat might sometimes be challenging. (Think...how loud a tantrum would sound echoing off fiberglass walls, and how that same sound would echo off the water throughout an entire marina, while the Mexican security guards and passersby give the parents an unmistakably disapproving glance).
Add some heat and humidity and need for additional boat work, (which always seems to make a mess), and you can see how this isn't just one big vacation. Nor was it supposed to be.
But, as they say in real estate, location is everything, and when we are in a good location, all these issues seem to be manageable.
Which brings me to our current conditions; at least mine. In a nutshell, I miss the water, and that seems to make me miss everything else. Maybe that's what you get when you become a 'sailor'. We are in a marina that is about a mile inland. It is a nice marina with a very helpful staff, but we can't see or hear the ocean. We also don't get that ocean breeze that can turn a warm day into heaven. (There is no anchorage near Mazatlan except near the sewage treatment plant).
Gee, you're in a marina a mile from the beach...poor thing. Yeh, it sounds pretty nice, but when things need to get done at home on the boat, you can't just take off for the beach.
'Stop your whining', you might think. Well, ok. I guess the heat has made me a little introspective; missing family and friends, and wanting to sink into a good book about local history or politics. But, first things first...Maybe it's like those retired folks you hear about who just don't have enough time in the day to do all the things they'd like to do. Or like anyone who has ever taken a trip with their family, and although enjoying it, secretly looked forward to getting home and having a little time alone at their desk.
Bittersweet problems, I guess.
I am requesting thoughts from anyone who's 'been there, done that' cruisers or otherwise, who found themselves 'out there' without a real good idea of what they were doing...I'd love to hear from you.
Til next time.
P.S. Should we go south to the Mexican Riviera, back to La Paz, or just hang out along the central Mexican coast until mid-April and then head to the South Pacific? Any thoughts? Thanks.
P.P.S. Those crabs aren't doing much whining anymore. They are not albinos either...guess you knew that. They were bleached by the sun. But that's about all we know about them. Photo is from Mag Bay.
P.P.P.S I forgot to say that a good thing about Marina Mazatlan is that we have an internet connection here, so we CAN read your comments...thanks.
The Zen of Chocolate Cake
03/17/2007, somewhere in San Diego, back in January
This photo was taken in San Diego when it was still cool enough to bake things in the oven.
Abandoned whaling pier
03/17/2007, Mag Bay, off Punta Belcher
Photo of abandoned whaling industry structure north of Punta Belcher, view is directly opposite of existing fish camp in previous photo.
Photo of Fish Camp at 'Mag' Bay
03/17/2007, Bahia Magdelana, off Punta Belcher
Photo taken on March 1st or 2nd.
A Little Catching Up
03/12/2007, 23 16.29 N, 106 27.26 W Marina Mazatlan
Fast forward to today. We are no longer on the Baja Peninsula, but are in Mazatlan, on the Mexican mainland. We crossed over from Cabo San Lucas on March 8th, (arriving here Sat. March 10th, as expected.) The trip to Mazatlan was all under motor as the sea was glass. Although we had to motor, I enjoyed the trip since, for the first time while cruising I was able to practice my guitar and do some hand sewing while sitting in the cockpit underway.
Until now, it has either been too cold, too windy, or too wet (sea spray), to have the guitar outside. Also, since rounding Cabo Falso and Cabo San Lucas, we have finally been able to trade our long sleeves for short sleeves. And here in Mazatlan it is even warmer, and we need to keep the sun shade over the cockpit during the day.
We only stayed at anchor at Cabo San Lucas for a few days, as we needed to get to Mazatlan to meet friends. However, I don't think we would have stayed very long in Cabo anyway, since the 'Spring Break' kids were there, and the music was loud and late at night.
For the Danish readers; Spring Break is a week in March when American college kids, (and some high school kids) are out of school and go someplace warm to have a big loud week-long party.
Anyway, I still have a little to tell about our trip from Mag Bay, (where we had lobsters), to Cabo San Lucas. We actually had to motor most of that trip too...but We Saw... a humpback whale shooting out of the water; it's whole body, and then crashing back down on it's back. Wow! It was so awesome that we were too stunned to get good pictures. (We snapped a few mediocre ones that I will try to get posted soon).
What we actually saw was the whale having it's lunch... Steen knew about humpback whale behavior from his time windsurfing in Maui. He knew that theses whales catch fish by diversion. They dive underneath a school of fish and exhale a huge breath, creating lots of bubbles so the fish can't see. Then the whale just opens it's mouth and shoots straight up through the fish before rocketing out of the water.
Steen showed me how to anticipate where the whale would surface, by looking for faint bubbles on the surface, causing the water color to lighten, a few seconds before the whale jumped up. The sea birds were also a giveaway, as they hovered in a small group just over the whale's fishing ground.
So, the whale must have done this about 10 or 15 times as we motored slowly by, about 150 yards away. You would think we would have been able to capture this better on film, but we really would have needed some professional camera equipment to do so.
That's all for today. We are heading over to see some friends who have flown here on vacation. This afternoon, we are all taking a bus tour of Old Town Mazatlan and the ocean front. It should be a great day.
We will update the blog again soon; AND as soon as I can get an internet pass code from the marina office, I will post some various photos of our trip down the Baja Peninsula.
On a final note: Thank you to everyone who has commented on the blog, and thank you for the lobster tips. *Since we are making these blog postings remotely, through a service, we cannot actually see the blog page or read the comments...BUT please keep commenting, as we have started having Steen's parents copy and paste the comments to us in text format. So, we will get the comments and respond...it just may not be immediate. Thank you Bedstemor og Bedstefar.
And, I am way behind on emailing folks back who have asked particular questions with their comments. I will get to that as I can. **About the seasick pills though, Malou uses a specific brand that has worked very well for her. It is the brand "Goldline" and it is a meclizine. The tablets are chewable and are cherry flavor. Since she is only 2 years old, she takes a half pill every 12 hours while we are at sea. Steen and I also use meclizine, but we just use whatever brand tablets we can find. Neither of us is particularly susceptible to motion sickness. but we also take one tablet every 12 hours.
Okay, have to go now. Have a great day and 'talk' to you soon.
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What a Difference a Day Makes
03/07/2007, I'll get to that later
By Feb. 28th, the crew was getting restless after 9 days without going ashore.
We had arrived at Bahia Santa Maria, at 1:00am Feb. 28th
March 1st, we decided to motor a few miles over to Bahia Magdelena, (Mag Bay), hoping to find a more restful anchorage. No luck, as Radiance 'hobby horsed' (rocking from bow to stern), at anchor. However, upon our arrival into the entrance to Mag Bay, we were treated to a show of whales blowing water spouts all over the place, their backs just barely surfacing above the water. The cow whales come to Mag Bay to give birth, and we must have seen ten gray whales swimming about.
So, that was a nice little break from the hard sailing, but we, (especially me), badly wanted to go ashore for a walk. By the morning of March 2nd, I was getting despondent. Too windy to go ashore, and the local pangueros had not stopped by our boat to say hello or trade anything.
But, nothing lasts forever, and by afternoon the winds gave way a little and we beat our way in the dinghy through the choppy waves onto shore - at last. Sandy and desolate, with scrubby hills rising in the background, looking like a John Wayne movie. We walked north a ways up the beach toward the fish camp. There were three fisherman reclining on the beach, looking bored, apparently waiting for something. One other panguero was unloading nets traps from his panga boat while his small 3 year old son played nearby.
This location coordinate was 24 33.00 N, 112 03.00 W near Punta Belcher, the site of whaling operations of a century ago. As we walked the beach north of Point Belcher, we saw the remnants of the whaling industry structures; large ghost-like concrete pilings, and old concrete block processing houses. All these were now surrounded by current metal shacks the pangueros used as shelter, and strings of fish drying in the sun. It was a very eerie sight indeed.
We turned to go back, and upon passing the fish camp again, I was a little shocked to see two women with children sort of hovering inside one of the shacks to stay out of the sun and wind.
They shyly smiled at Malou as she walked toward one of their many puppies milling about. The puppies were too shy to play, but the mother dog said hello to Malou and followed her down the beach toward the dinghy. We hadn't brought anything with us on our walk, like gifts or candy, as we had not expected to see families.
As soon as we got back to Radiance, I gathered up some fruit, both canned and fresh, and some gifts for the children, and put it in bags ready to take ashore the next time.
March 3rd: LOBSTER FOR LUNCH
Finally, two fisherman pulled up alongside Radiance holding up a fresh lobster. I was ready - with my two bags of gifts and some canned sodas. The fisherman smiled and gave Steen 3 medium sized lobsters and said adios. The lobsters wriggled in our bucket, looking up with their googly eyes and my first thought was to keep them as pets. Steen wouldn't let me so he boiled them up for lunch. I wished there had been a way to drug them before they went into the water pot. If anyone has an idea, let me know...
The crew had some beautiful red lobster tails for lunch.
Revised posting to March Wind
03/05/2007, almost to Cabo San Lucas
This is a revision to the posting 'March wind' In Like A Lion.
Maybe I should not write postings this late at night, as my mind is a bit cloudy. The previous posting says we went from Turtle Bay to Bahia Santa Maria.
It should say that on Sunday, Feb. 25th, we went from Turtle Bay to Asuncion, an 10 hour trip; arrived at Asuncion around 10:30 that night, slept well, and departed the next day for Bahia Santa Maria, which is 175 nautical miles, (or about 35 hours). We did not go ashore at Asuncion either, and by the time we arrived at Bahia Santa Maria, at 1:00am the 28th, the crew was getting restless. That's the topic of the next blog posting.
Take care all. Angela
March wind: In Like A Lion
03/05/2007, en route, about 15 miles NW of Cabo San Lucas
Hope everyone is well.
I'm going to start this entry where I left off last time; in Turtle Bay. We spent that Friday and Saturday getting windblown in Turtle Bay with 30 knot winds, hunkered down in the boat, waiting for calmer weather. That Sunday morning, (one week ago), we awoke to find calmer winds and the possibility of taking the dinghy ashore. However, being a Sunday morning, all the panga boats were parked on shore, and we could see no movement in the streets; we were pretty sure all the residents were at Mass. We thought it would be inappropriate to land the dinghy in front of the town and roam the streets while everyone was at church.
As we pondered that situation, the winds were turning into 10 to 15's, the sun was out and it seemed like a great day for a sail. So, as much as we wanted to meet Carlos and Mercedes and sample their fine food, we decided to not look a gift horse in the mouth, (is that right?)...but pull anchor and go sailing.
So, by wind alone, we headed out of the bay on two rather lovely tacks and headed southeast for a great day of sailing.
More about that trip later.
Now for some 'big picture' info. The 30 knot wind/weather that started Thursday night, February 22nd, was the beginning of what would become a week long wind-fest, brought on by an unusual weather occurrence in the Aleutian Islands. Per Don Anderson, amateur weatherman for the Pacific Maritime Net, a high pressure ridge starting in the Aleutian's extended for an unusually long distance of some 3000 miles. I'm paraphrasing now; but the pressure was 'sliding' down off this ridge...and anyway, causing 20 to 30 knot winds for a solid week plus.
What this meant for us was that we saved a bunch of money on fuel, but had some tiring and screaming fast nights at sea, with ocean swells in the 10 to 12 foot range.
In a nutshell: after leaving Turtle Bay, we found ourselves under reefed sail, doing 7+ knots, on a perfect course for Bahia Santa, 175 miles SE, (or 35 hours). That's a long trip, and we would have preferred to stop along the way, but our course was too perfect and the wind was stable, so we went for it.
There were a few times during the night that we questioned that decision, as the seas were starting to break just shy of the cockpit, and the boat would sink into a trough and then be picked up onto the large swell as it went rolling underneath. This happened about every 9 or 10 seconds, all day and all night. It didn't let up until we neared the entrance to Bahia Santa Maria, at about 1:00 am Feb. 27th. By the next morning, while we caught up on some rest, the winds were at it again and Radiance strained at her anchor in the strong winds blowing through the bay.
More of the adventures later. Right now, I need to go out in the cockpit and help Steen distinguish the entrance to Cabo San Lucas as we round the cape under full moon.
Crew and Captain of sv Radiance
Pangueros and Viento
02/24/2007, Bahia De Tortugas (Turtle Bay) also known as Bahia San Bartolome 27 40.00 N, 114 53.00 W
Well, let me just calm my nerves a little...
Steen and I just finished moving the boat a little farther into the bay, (Turtle Bay); a simple sounding procedure.
It's blowing about 35 knots of wind,(viento), here in the bay, and Radiance was anchored too close to a rocky shore.
Background info: SAN BENITOS and the PANGUEROS
On Feb. 20th we were en route to the Isla San Benitos, where the lobster fisherman supposedly lived. After a 30 hour sail down from Bahia de San Quintin, (no motoring), we anchored up in front of a tiny shanty town on the western-most island called Benito del Oeste. Islas San Benitos is a rugged and beautiful landscape made up of three small brown, rocky, and scrubby islands. The central island is home to a colony of elephant seals, (easily recognized by their bull noses), and studied by marine biologists world wide.
The small fishing 'village' was only a few out-buildings that looked like they might fall over any minute. I had been concerned about having the proper items on board to trade with the fisherman, but upon seeing the village, my nurturing instinct must have kicked in. My first thought was to get these people some fresh food and whatever else they needed. I thought that the fisherman AND their families were living there.
We anchored at about 3:00 pm and by 4:00, three pangueros (fisherman in their small panga [boat], motored up to say Hola. We were pretty tired from our trip and Steen had been dozing in the cockpit, but we popped our heads up and went on deck to say Hola, como esta.
I apologized, (in Spanish) for speaking very little Spanish. They smiled and we all tried to communicate the best we could. I saw that they didn't have any fish or lobster with them; understandable as they had just motored out from shore. I quickly went below and grabbed a bag of fruit I had set aside, and three Bic lighters. They nodded yes to the gifts and I asked them if they had children, (ninos). Two of the men had small children, so I gave them some English board books and a stuffed animal for the baby. I told them we would like to go ashore for a walk, hoping that we would not be intruding. The only place to land a dinghy was right in front of the village.
One of the fisherman spoke a few words of English and communicated to me that they could take us ashore in their panga (boat), and pointed as if to say 'Do you want to go now?'. We were pretty tired, so we said that manana would be better. We agreed to go at 10:00 the next morning, when they got back from fishing. They would show us the elephant seals.
Well, the next morning over breakfast, Steen and I listened to the weather forecast over the SSB radio. Big winds were coming that night, and were going to stay big over the weekend. The only anchorage at Benitos was in 8 fathoms of water, (about 50 ft.) fairly close to the rocky shore. That's pretty deep for us to anchor in, being that we like to have our anchor chain (and rode line) about 7 times the water depth. We thought it was too risky to stay there any longer if the 30 knot wind forecast came true.
We decided we had to leave Benitos and get to Turtle Bay, a more protected anchorage about 50 miles southeast. If we left right away, we could be there by 9:00 or 10:00 pm that night.
The fisherman were not yet back when we cranked the engine. It was almost 10:00am and I expected them any minute. I spent 20 minutes writing them a note in Spanish explaining why we were leaving and sealed it in a Ziploc bag with some butterscotch candies. Still no sign of them, so we headed out.
I was sad to have missed the opportunity to take a tour of the island and even sadder that I felt we were being rude in not saying goodbye, but the boat and crew's safety always come first. We actually passed the fisherman on the outskirts of the islands. They and their panga were being brought back to San Benitos aboard a larger commercial fishing boat. We waved a silent goodbye and that was the end of our first panguero experience in Mexico.
Oh yeah, back to moving the boat. Boy! It's amazing how loud one can yell and still not be heard. Steen up at the bow, Angela at the helm. Raising an anchor in 35 knot winds is quite an operation. Anyhow, we did it, and Radiance is safer in the middle of the bay, with lots of room for swinging about.
We have not yet gone ashore here in Turtle Bay. There is a village with some small restaurants, but we dare not leave the boat unattended in such high winds. Hopefully tomorrow things will calm down and we can go ashore and see 'Carlos and Mercedes', renowned restauranteurs of Turtle Bay.
Adios, Angela, and the capitan and crew.
Actually, there is boat work and pan bread almost everyday...and dolphins.
02/20/2007, 10 miles offshore, west of Punta Baja, Mexico 30 07.42 N , 116 01.44 W
Hope you are having a great day. We are heading down the western side of the Baja peninsula, about halfway to Cabo San Lucas. (Sorry there are no pictures this time...we won't have that capability unless we are in a town with an internet connection.)
I'm sending this posting from 10 miles offshore heading south 170 degrees, destination Isla San Benito, Mexico, 110 miles south, where the local fisherman trade their lobsters with the cruisers. (What we trade them for, I'm not sure...playing cards, magazines, t-shirts? - it will be our first experience with this barter culture.)
We're under sunny skies, doing 4 to 5 knots downwind under full sail in moderate winds, NW 10 knots, 6-8 ft. swell. Our wind vane, "Wanda" is steering pretty well today. (being married to a Dane, I have fun with Wanda's name...in Danish, as in German, the 'w' and 'v' sounds are opposite from English. So, sometimes we have a vindwane named Vanda.) I'm laughing WITH you Steen.
This Single Sideband Radio / modem system is pretty cool. We decided to go ahead and get the Icom 802, after having such limited internet connectivity in San Diego that we couldn't contact anyone.
All is well on the boat. The night we left Ensenada, we ripped our big drifter sail, (it was too lightweight for us anyway), and today we had a shackle failure, on the staysail, not sure why. Not a huge deal, we have spares. We're always learning something out here.
There is a saying, "everything I learned, I learned on my boat". That may be literally true for little Malou.
The other day I washed laundry on deck while anchored in a huge beautiful isolated bay, (Bahia de San Quintin). Steen and I were hanging it up to dry when a pretty big whale surfaced not 20 ft. from the boat. Gray whale maybe, it's back was light gray with white specks...maybe barnacles. They move in what looks like slow motion. It was a little intimidating, and I was saying "nice whale, don't run into us, we're friendly; would you like some tuna?"
Steen just laughs at me and says that the whale knows exactly where we are and it will definitely not run into us accidentally; only if it wants to rub the barnacles off it's back...great.
After a few stops along the way, we should be passing the tip of the Baja coast and Cabo San Lucas, and heading east southeast to Mazatlan, arriving there hopefully by mid March or sooner. We'll keep you posted. All for now.
Sincerely, Angela and the crew of s/v Radiance
Boat Work and Pan Bread
01/25/2007, San Diego, CA
We are still here in San Diego and finally have a fleeting internet connection, (at least today.) We want to thank folks for not giving up on our blogsite.
We apologize for not getting this site updated, but we have not had reliable wireless internet access since we arrived here on New Years Eve.
We are currently anchored in San Diego between the Navy, the Coast Guard and the Harbor Police Station; free from invasion.
Our days are consumed by boat projects, but the weather is pleasant and we are well fed, so all is good. (We've been making a pan-bread that's been
a real treat; a recipe from Lin Pardey's book "The Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew".) see below.
As soon as we get the boat re-provisioned and make one more mail run, we will depart for Ensenada, Mexico.
We will hopefully be able to post more news of our trip down the coast, but without a good connection, it may be hit or miss from now on. We've been spoiled thus far.
All for now. Take care and thank you again for your comments.
Below is the Pan Bread recipe. Even salty old bachelor dogs can make this one...
Pan Bread Recipe (called "Damper" in Austrailia)
2 cups flour (we use 1 1/2 cups unbleached white and 1/2 cup whole wheat)
1 heaping Tablespoon baking powder (we use aluminum-free made by Rumford)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Mix Dry ingredients
*(optional ingredients we like: nuts, toasted sesame seeds, wheat bran, flax seeds, raisins, cinnamon or cardamom...added to dry ingredients)
Add 1 cup milk and 1/2 cup water. Stir. Add up to another 1/2 cup water, or until batter is a little thicker than a cake batter.
Heat skillet with canola oil or butter (or both), enough to cover bottom of pan. Pour batter in pan and spread evenly. Cook slowly on low until bubbles burst through the top and bread is brown on bottom. (We cover the pan while cooking.)
Turn bread carefully and cook other side slowly until brown on bottom.
Serve with jams/honey, meat/cheese, peanut butter, etc.
Makes a great herb bread also, with oregano, basil, and olive oil in batter.
Thank you Lin Pardey.
Late Christmas picture
01/11/2007, San Diego