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S/V Si Bon
Who: Steve Cook
Port: San Diego, California
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Weekend get away
10/17/2011, Bahia Algodones

On Friday the northern winds calmed down and we were able to cast off the dock lines and head out of Marina San Carlos. It's kinda funny how when you've been out cruising for awhile how nice it is to get to a marina...but when you've been stuck in a marina for awhile, it's also nice to get underway. We had several motivating factors for wanting to do our short (6.5 nautical mile) trip. Our main reason was to be able to continue to test things out before we cross back over the Sea of Cortez to Baja next week. It's much better to discover any kind of issues when you are 6.5 NM away from a marina then to find out about them when you are half way across a 70 NM wide sea. We also just wanted to get out to a nice bay, drop the hook (anchor) and dive of the stern of Si Bon into 80+ degree water.
As we made our way out of the narrow Bahia San Carlos channel the winds pick up a little and for the first time in three months I was able to unfurl Si Bon's main the large sail came smoothly out of the mast I was praying for no surprises...hoping that a birds nest didn't come flying out and land on our heads.... or some other strange unknown occurrence. Well the sail came out, the boat heeled (tilted) a little and off went the engine and out came our other sail, a large 155 Genora. For the first time in three months I was quietly gliding along through the calm seas....with a beautiful 7-8 knot wind filling our sails. Sharon made the comment "you look like a kid in a candy store", I think that might have been an understatement.
We spent the weekend snorkeling, exploring the beach and of course diving off Si Bon into the beautiful, warm waters of the Sea of Cortez.
Our current plan (subject to change) is to leave Marina San Carlos one week from today and cross the Sea to Santa Rosalia. This will be another busy week (not kidding) getting things done for our departure.

10/17/2011 | Patricia Kochanski
Can only imagine the feeling that must've come over you when you were able to unfurl without incident, not only one sail, but both. Must've been exhiliarating! Good luck getting things set for the trip across the sea next week.
Who cares!
10/14/2011, San Carlos, Sonora Mexico

Since arriving back in San Carlos Sharon and have been busy exploring the San Carlos/Guaymas area. When I was here in July I stuck mostly around the marina area, I rarely ventured into downtown San Carlos and I never went into Guaymas. Sharon and I now are becoming pros at riding the very efficient city bus system around town and over to the Walmart in Guaymas. Earlier this week we walked over to a really cool Palapa restaurant and bar on the beach and then strolled thru the many galleries and tourist shops...all the way scoping out the taco stands that line the main drag for future visits. Yesterday we headed into town, our original thought was to walk into town, stop at a place called J J's for a beer and some Al Pastor tacos and then go to the tienda (store) to provision for our mini cruise to Bahia Algodones today. We were then going to take the bus back to the marina, groceries in hand. Well one taco (or beer) led to another and we never made to the tienda. We did however make it to three different taco stands meeting and greeting people along the way. J J is a funny guy who always yells "who cares" after you order something or ask him a question.
So we never made it to the tienda and the busses had stopped running, but in true Mexican tradition, a guy that works in the local dive shop whom we had met earlier in the week quickly volunteered to give us a ride back to the marina.
We'll be heading over to Bahia Algodones later today (after we go to the tienda) for a couple of nights on the hook (anchor).....WHO CARES!

10/16/2011 | Frank Rogers
Hi Steve, Sharon

A bear and taco in 85 degree water sounds good to me.

take care
10/16/2011 | Shaybo
oh hi Frank!!
I personally prefer quesadillas with my bear! hope all is well. thanks again for your hospitality and my best to Jeanette. hope to see ya's soon :))
Waiting out the weather...again!
10/11/2011, San Carlos, Sonora Mexico

Well once again I find myself waiting for favorable weather. We had planned to take Si Bon over to Bahia Algodones for a couple of nights to do a sort of sea trial before we begin our trip over to the Baja side of the sea. Current weather guess is calling for 25-30 knot winds and 6 foot seas...doesn't sound like that would make for a relaxing day/night on the hook. We are now hoping that we can leave either Thursday or Friday for a nice weekend on the hook at Algodones....key word "hoping". I know everyone is feeling very sorry for us, here we sit at Marina San Carlos where we continue to slowly check things off the "get the boat ready list". Yes, today Shaybo will get her toes done at 11:00, then we plan to head into town so we can find a cheap taco cart before shopping for a new bathing suit top for Shaybo. If we hurry back we can test out our snorkeling gear (again) in the 85 degree water before we have to head over to 10 paso cerbeza night (.90) at The Marina Cantina.
So as always we are busy, busy, busy and hoping that the winds and seas die down by the weekend so we can test out our new scuba tanks at Algodones...and please don't feel to sorry for us, as we choose to live this difficult life.

10/11/2011 | Pat K'ski
Pity party over!
Steve & Sharon...illegal aliens in Mexico
10/09/2011, San Carlos, Sonora Mexico

On Wednesday October 5, 2011 I had to send the following email to mine and Sharon's families;

Good morning everyone,

Before we crossed the border into Mexico last week we asked several people where we could get our Mexico tourist visas. We were told different things by each person and we were never allowed to purchase what is now called a tourist permit (FMM card). We have made several attempts to purchase the permit here in San Carlos/ Guaymas area, as we were told that we could do by the US Federal officer who boarded the bus. We have left messages for the Mexican Embassy in Washington DC (202-736-1008) and have not received a call back. It is important to know that the voice mail message for their Embassy clearly says " US citizens are not required to have a visa, ONLY a valid Passport". We have also been to the local Immigration office in Guaymas where we were unable to buy the permit, but were told that we did need to have it.. Yesterday we contacted the American Consulate in Hermisillo ( 622-289-3500) and were told by a very uncooperative person that "there is nothing we can do for you, you are in the country illegally and must return to the United States and get the proper paperwork". This person (asshole) didn't even know the proper name of the form and told me that " we are only here to help Mexicans obtain visa into the United States"...nice.
In the next couple of hours we will be taking a city bus back to the Tufesa Autobus Terminal in Guaymas and we plan to take the 11:20 bus back to Tucson. We do not expect any problems other than a possible fine, however since we are now Illegal aliens here in Mexico there is the possibility of detainment or deportation (highly unlikely).
We should be back in Tucson by late tonight or early tomorrow morning and will email you once we are back safe. This email is not meant to panic anyone, but we feel it important for you to all be aware of the complete circumstances.
Steve & Sharon

PS Happy birthday Amber :)

This was a very difficult email to send as we felt it would for sure cause panic, however the fact that we were illegally in a foreign country and had to take a bus 250 miles back to the border and thru a military checkpoint, we felt our families had to know our circumstances.
We are now back in San Carlos, Mexico with the correct Tourist permit and we have learned several things during the past stressed filled week.
1. NEVER count on the US consulate to help you in a foreign country, they were rude, arrogant and offered no help or advice.
2. The Mexican authorities were polite and sympathetic. Considering that we walked into a Mexican immigration office, full of Federal Police officers and told them we were in their country illegally we were damn lucky they didn't detain (arrest) us on the spot.
3. YOU AND ONLY YOU are responsible to have the correct Immigration forms when traveling to foreign lands.

Now that we are legal we are both settling into "the life" nicely. It is currently around 90 degrees and the water temp is in the mid 80's. We plan on being in the San Carlos area for another week or two before crossing back over to Baja and heading south.

10/09/2011 | Ashley Cook
I want you to know that this is most definitely a story that I will be telling you're grandkids in the future...its just pure gold.
10/09/2011 | Phil Anderson
Wow.....that story got the adrenaline going...glad you got it worked out.....Phil
10/10/2011 | Pat K'ski
Glad that distressing chapter is over. No sequels please!
Back into the swing of things
10/02/2011, San Carlos, Sonora Mexico

We've officially moved back on to Si Bon now. Whoever said that it cools down in the northern Sea of Cortez in October...wasn't here yesterday. We continue to check things off of our "does it still work list", and yesterday morning I checked off the air-conditioning unit, which hadn't been turned on for over a year. Sharon had gone shopping with our neighbor Anne on Serendipity in preparation for our first dock party together. I knew when she left that I had three choices; 1. get the A/C working. 2. Get a room (400 pesos per night) with A/C. or 3. Buy a bus ticket back to the states and get out of this oven. When Sharon returned from shopping and made her way down the stairs into the 71 degree cabin, her eyes lit up like a little kid at Christmas.
On Friday night a guy had come around the dock selling Jumbo shrimp and we got talked into buying 2 kilos....which is roughly 4 pounds, but at the price of 300 pasos (25 USD) how can you go wrong. As I was inflating the dinghy, Sharon was busy preparing most of the shrimp, including sautéing a batch for a very tasty pasta dish she made for the dock party.
Sooo....all and all yesterday was a successful day and today we plan to take a day off and stay in our nice 71 degree cabin while we figure our how many ways we can eat shrimp...oh and maybe later we'll venture over to the beach club for a swim and some snorkeling.

10/02/2011 | Shaybo
"You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey's uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that's about it." - Thanks Bubba :)
10/02/2011 | Steve Cook about shrimp tacos, shrimp burritos, shrimp enchiladas, shrimp ceviche, shrimp quesadilla, shrimp tortas...clearly Bubba wasn't mexican.
10/02/2011 | Pat K'ski
How did the two of you forget SCAMPI?! Guess garlic in close quarters shouldn't be considered?
10/03/2011 | Robyn
You didn't set the smoke alarm off when you cooked the shrimp???!!!
There is a new one at Casa de Brooks (since you blew out the old one!!!).
Keep cool !!
Safe and sound
09/29/2011, San Carlos, Sonora Mexico

Well I survived another bus trip through what most people consider hell. It's kinda funny and very sad that so many people that have never stepped foot in Mexico seem to be experts on the safety of traveling and living down here. It seems that for some reason they put more weight on the media/US Government's account of Mexico then the people who actually live here's account of things. Well I guess that makes sense..the media and government never exaggerate things or lie to us.
I had grown more and more anxious about what I would have to do to get Si Bon back to cruising mode, when you leave a boat for two months with things not being used, it could end up as a big can of worms. I had hired Carlos to keep Si Bon's bottom cleaned and start the main engine and generator a couple of times...but what about all the other things not being used? Would all of my various navigation lights come on? would the all important stereo work? what about the refrigeration? How about my expensive battery bank...would it still be fully charged? and after leaving both toilets unused for two months, will I have to do the worst job on a boat and rebuild them? All of these things raced faster and faster through my mind as we got closer and closer to San Carlos and as we walked down the boardwalk towards Si Bon's slip. As we approached the "A" dock where Si Bon is docked Carlos walked was very good to see him, Sharon and I chatted with him for what seemed to be forever before I excused myself and continued on to Si Bon's slip, as we rounded the dock and set our eyes on Si Bon Sharon mutter something like "gosh, she looks better than the last time I saw her". We still have plenty of things to check out, but the lights all work, the refrigerator was plenty cold, the batteries were just fine and as we kicked back and had a Brewski while listening to the stereo, I couldn't help but think, " I'm sure glad that I won't have to rebuild either one of the toilets"
As I later told Carlos, I was so happy I nearly cried. Muchos gracias amigo for all of your hard work and attention to detail.

09/29/2011 | Ramon
That's great... I'm looking forward to some sailing posts and pics to illustrate the sailing. Favorable winds to you both.
09/29/2011 | Karen
How fantastic is this!!!! Maybe we need to circulate Carlos name to all the sailors out there for when they are in Mexico! :) welcome back to your yacht!

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