31/05/2010, Cab San Lucas, Mexico
I hated the crazyness of Cabo when we stopped over at the beginning of our trip so many months ago. Now, being here preparing for the trip back, I have actually come to enjoy it. Some of it is taking in the culture knowing that my days here are numbered. Some of it is the stark beauty of the place, even with the overdevelopment for the tourist industry. Some of it is romantic illusions of pirates and adventurers seeing some of the same beauty here hundreds of years ago.
Yesterday was a great day. I was quoted over $100 US for a taxi to the airport in San Jose and it would have really deteriorated as the Westjet flight from Canada was over an hour late. It took some gymnastics on my part, but I found a way to the airport and back on the local bus. My total fare was just under $6, and I had several hours to enjoy the more quaint seaside town of San Jose del Cabo. There, I found myself in a Spanish speaking church, it was an amazing experience and the people really extended love to me.
I feel as ready as I need to be and now have crew to assist. He will have a steep learning curve, but he is eager. Today is his Birthday. He reminds me of somebody else very special, who long ago also liked to get into boats...
I headed for Cabo San Lucas for two things. I will await a weather window to head North. It appears that there may be good conditions early next week. I will also await the arrival of a friend from Canada who will help me make the journey. He decided very last minute, actually after the deadline, but the timing is good and he should arrive on Sunday. I was looking forward to making the trip alone, but it will be much better with help, and company.
I caught 2 Yellowfin Tuna today, 32 and 27 inches long. The bigger one was a workout for me and my Penn reel. We will eat well now. The taste of this fresh fish is beyond amazing. That reminds me, I made a giant bowl of ceviche out of the speared fish I caught - that was good too.
Our friends Jeff and Nancy on S.V. "Oblivion" gave me their SPOT gps tracker for the bash home. When I push a button on this device, Lisa gets an email of my position. Internet will get pretty sparse from here and since that is my only source of communication outside of the 50 mile range of the VHF, the SPOT device will give Lisa a lot of comfort that I am making progress. If anyone else cares to follow my progress, it can be seen on Oblivian's website on the bottom left of their homepage. Browse around a little too, they are fabulous writers. I will post a link to www.sailingtooblivion.com on the right side 'links' section of our sailblog. It opens a map that is interactive. You may need to push the go button to see where Tenacious Grace is. Oh, please know that I will be updating the spot position rather randomly and if I am not moving I may be waiting for a weather change. Thankyou Jeff and Nancy for your thoughtfulness and generosity...
27/05/2010, Los Frailles
I goofed off a little today travelling from Muertos to Frailles. The winds were very light, 5-8 knots, so I thot it would be interesting that since I had the whole day, why not just sail. It would be a great exercise in patience. So for most of the day, I travelled at 1.5 to 3.5 knots. That was fine, except the afternoon winds that I was expecting never came, until evening, and of course, as a sailor would say, on the nose. There was some current against me too. So I got a little beat up at the end. I got in around 21:00, in the afterglow of dusk, but the full moon was helpful for anchoring.
26/05/2010, Los Muertos
I have a few days to get to Cabo so I am day sailing and pausing to enjoy the anchorages if the mood is right. I was going to leave today but it was so nice to slow down and relax. I just stayed. I snorkelled for a couple of hours in the afternoon and speared 4 small fish for supper - they sure looked big under water.
Evening decended slowly and I was almost ecstatic taking in the beauty around me. A gentle surf crashed rhythmically on the beach. I poured a glass of Madiera and then swayed in the hamock enjoying the setting sun and the purple hues on the ocean. I light breeze caressed my salty skin, and I relaxed. Soon the light of the full moon was reflecting off of the wavelets, and I felt at peace. Completely.
During that magical hour, even my lonliness vanished.
25/05/2010, Cerralvo Channel
My first journey alone on the boat went very well. I felt ready to leave La Paz and head down the California Sur peninsula. After helping someone on the dock with a loose refrigeration compressor belt, I headed out a little late. I had mostly good wind and really enjoyed the day.
I fished along the way and caught 2 skipjack. The second one was a little bigger and I struggled to get it to the boat as I was unable to do much to slow the boat down while under sail. While unhooking the fish some blood landed on a stern step and made it very slippery. I imagined slipping off the boat. I knew that I could swim the mile to shore, and the water was quite warm. But where would the boat stop, sails up and autopilot steering a straight heading south? Twas a good reminder to always be cautious. I pulled into Bahia de los Meurtos at dusk and anchored for the night. It is a little easier with help.
23/05/2010, La Paz
(Photo is of a different National car parked at a hotel. Two Officers seem to be awaiting the driver)
La Paz is an easy place to stop. It means 'the Peace'. We have been here a week and the journey will now be very different. Lisa, Katryn, and Zach are in Canada, and I will head for California. The passage ahead is referred to as the Baja bash because it is usually an uphill slog, mostly done by diesel combustion. Wind and wave swell can be strong from the wide open Pacific (also means Peace??) ocean and is usually North-North-West, or to be more blunt, directly against you. San Diego is about 1000 nautical miles from here.
I drove my family in a rental car the 200 km. to the Cabo San Jose airport so they could catch their Westjet flight home. There were two pieces of information that I was fortunate to have for this trip. Someone who came to visit us described being pulled over by the police in their rental vehicle. It had an expensive outcome. I also read an article in a local paper for visitors called the Gringo Gazette of how difficult it is to discourage a system that promotes bribes. Fortunately the article also described the appropriate action to take if you are stopped for a traffic violation...
We crammed the small car with luggage and headed off. It was the first time I had driven this year. I was concentrating fully on driving perfectly. There was a lot to watch out for. I was completely stressed and probably the biggest traffic hazard in La Paz. I was coming to a complete stop at every stop sign. I quickly realized that to everyone else driving, the big red octagonal ALTO means even less then your average yield sign where I come from. It quickly became a terrifying process to be following rules that no one else was. Before we even got out of La Paz, a police pickup truck had me pulled to the side of the road. In little bits of English and Spanish, he informed me that I had failed to yield to a pedestrian. It had happened 4 blocks back. I remember the women standing on the corner and I remember coming to a complete stop. I was watching our eminent rear-ending in the rear view mirror as no one else was expecting me to actually stop at the stop sign, and a vehicle to my right, making a right turn into my direction of travel, without stopping at the 4 way, and crossing to the inside lane, in front of the waiting pedestrian. I guess the tiny green National Car Rental sticker on our car was more visible then all the other traffic violations occurring.
The officer took my Driving License and pulled out a rate chart and pointed to my fine amount, 1125 pesos. It took me a moment to convert the amount. I owed about $95. I was frustrated, I had time though, and knew just a little about the system. We fumbled for a bit and then told him that we wanted to drive to the Police office to pay the fine and get a receipt. I motioned that I would follow him to the police station. Now he hesitated and then returned to his truck. We drove about a block and then he pulled over again. Now he stated that the Officina was closed so we would have to wait until Manyana, which means tomorrow (Sunday?????). I felt really trapped and didn't know what to do. I wanted to go to the office and pay the official fine, probably 15% of what was being required on the street. He then offered that I could just pay a reduced rate but get no receipt. My new fine was 400 pesos. I was pondering this, and the strange closure of the office, and what I should do, and what my kids might be thinking and I realized exactly what was happening. The Officer got a little jumpy as I pondered whether I should just pay him or press to go to the office. I was in the process of asking for a minute to decide what to do when he quite suddenly handed me my driving license and told me no problem. It seems our stalling, and vague understanding of the system made him nervous. The 400 km trip was a beautiful drive, and although very unnerving because I was determined to follow the rules even though this felt unsafe to do, it was uneventful. I was the only vehicle maintaining the speed limit, aside from a few overloaded trucks that were unable to drive the posted limit. Everyone else passed quickly, and often on a hill or corner.
From the closeness of living almost constantly together for the past year, and mostly on a space 38 feet x 22 feet for the last six months, my family and I parted. It is now very quiet, and quite lonely. I look forward to the next (and last) leg of the trip, and I look forward to being with my family again.
When I returned the car I asked the rental agent (Mexican) about my situation with the traffic violation. She admitted it was a bit of a problem. She was embarrassed but honest and I thanked her. She told me they face similiar trouble. Even though I had pre-booked the car, I had to wait an hour for one of the staff to bring it from the airport in La Paz to the downtown location. The agent admitted to me that her staff had been stopped twice on the way over just delivering the car. Can you say target? Visiting on the dock at the marina, a gringo living here told me that it is appropriate to request paying at the office which is open 24 hours. He also said that I can hand over a copy of my ID but withhold official documentation. He said it can be very beneficial to request their badge number and Captains' name. I had to agree with him when he told me that it is quite understandable when you realize that the local police work 12 hour days and get paid about $500 a month.
I have had to be very careful counting change, and I learned the hard way to ask the price first (I couldn't at that point give the meal back). I have been stung when not paying attention, and know that some have taken advantage of my lack of Spanish. But overall, the Mexican people have been very warm, and friendly, and it has been very good to learn a little about a people I knew nothing about.