Mexican tug boat
10/27/2011, Santa Rosalia, Baja California Sur
One of my motivating factors for cruising to foreign countries was to become submersed into other cultures. It didn't take to long living here in Mexico to see that things are not always done the same way as they are in the good ole US of A.
For instance lets say that there is a street light burned out, in the US the city would send out a $60,000.00 dollar shiny truck with a lift arm on it, some dude that makes $50,000.00 a year would get in a little basket and ride up and change the light bulb. Here in Mexico they would send out 3 Mexicans in a beat up pickup truck with a rusty ladder, if the ladder wasn't long enough they would probably find a box or a chair or something to set it on then one would wobble his way up and change the bulb...homey would be lucky if he made $50 a week. these types of things go on and on...half dug holes are left uncovered in the middle of sidewalks, detours on highways are half ass marked blah blah blah.
Yesterday morning while we enjoyed our coffee, the Santa Rosalia/Guaymas ferry came in from Guaymas and was preparing to dock. Now in the US of A they would send out a tug boat with a 3000 horse power engine and a crew that probably would be paid close to $200,000 a year....not here, they sent out two dudes in a panga with a 35 horse power Mercury outboard, they nudged up to the ferry and pushed her stern over to the dock...AND VOILA! Now the end result is usually the same (unless you fall into a hole in the sidewalk), The light bulb gets changed, the sidewalk gets repaired and the ferry was safely docked....however it's much more entertaining to watch here!
10/26/2011, Santa Rosalia, Baja California Sur
Crossing the Sea of Cortez between San Carlos and Santa Rosalia (SR) is about a 72 nautical mile (NM) trip, which in a sailboat that averages 5 NM should take around 14 hours. When I crossed over to San Carlos in July I was able to do the complete crossing during daylight, however the days are now shorter and since we did not have a slip reserved in SR, I wanted to make sure we got here before the Marina closed.
We got up Tuesday morning at 1245, made a quick pot of coffee, threw on a pair of shorts, hoisted our anchor and headed out of Bahia Algodones on a warm, moonless night. Nighttime sailing is something that terrifies some people, in some cases causing them to make dumb mistakes, simply to avoid being on the water past dark. Sharon had never been sailing at night and although she seemed up to the challenge...you never really know. As we past the rocky, unlit points of land which protect Algodones and headed into the VERY dark sea, the gentle breeze began to grow stronger and the Seas began to pick up. Sharon had taken up watch over the bimini cover with a pair of binoculars glued to her eyes, while I stood at the helm glued to the radar, GPS and wind monitor. Within a few miles of leaving we had our sails up and full of wind, the wind indicator was now showing 15-20 knots. We had spray coming over our bow and across our decks and Si Bon was heeled (tilted) way over and doing 7+ knots. There's not to many times in a sailors life that you can have such a great point of sail, in a strong wind, at night, being doused with spray.....and be wearing only a pair of shorts (and of course our life vests).
As the sun began to rise and night turned to day, the wind continue to blow and we continued to sail along nicely until we finally lost our wind about 20 miles from SR. The day was as clear as I've ever seen, we were able to see the Baja peninsula as soon as it became light and we didn't loss sight of mainland Mexico until we were nearly to Santa Rosalia...meaning we had visibility of at least 60 miles. Although we kept a vigilant watch we did not see one other boat (NOT ONE) during the entire 13.5 hour crossing.
This was probably not the best night for a first night sail, it was extremely dark, the wind was at times howling, the waves were at times coming in sheets over our bow. Sooo.....how did Sharon do? Well she certainly gained my respect, she kept a vigilant watch, she helped with the many chores necessary to sail a boat across a large sea, before we left she had prepared meals for us to eat along the way and of course she took a couple of traditional naps in the cockpit. So all in all it was a wonderful crossing...still no horror stories to tell and we are now excited to begin exploring Santa Rosalia together for a few days until we move on to.....who knows where. God bless!
Adios San Carlos
10/24/2011, San Carlos, Sonora Mexico
We've been bustin our butts the last 3-4 days getting ready to leave San Carlos...which we will be doing in the next couple of hours. We will leave Marina San Carlos around 1300 today and sail over to Algodones for the night. Somewhere around 0200 tomorrow morning we'll leave Mainland Mexico (Algodones) and sail across the Sea of Cortez to Santa Rosalia, a distance of about 70 NM. Our friend Carlos is sailing with us to Algodones and he'll ride his bike back to MSC after I dinghy him in to shore. Carlos is one of the MANY new friends we now have in San Carlos, we've met and become friends with many fellow cruisers, we have become friends with the family that owns the local tienda, friends with the people in the local dive shop and the security guards at the marina. We are also pretty tight with ALL of the restaurant, taco stand and bar owners and their many employees. One of the sad parts of cruising is the friends that you leave behind when you cast off and move on to another piece of paradise. We'll most likely bump into (not literally I hope) our cruiser friends but there are many people that have been such a big part of our lives here that we may never see again.
So it is with great excitement and also a little tear in my eye that the time has come to sail away into the sunset...leaving San Carlos in our wake...adios San Carlos we'll miss you and all of the wonderful people that we've grown so fond of.
10/19/2011, San Carlos, Sonora Mexico
For the most part cruisers are a pretty tight nit community, one of the ways we stay connected to each other is through the local cruiser nets on our VHF or SSB radios. Both Sharon and I have become fairly active in the San Carlos cruiser net, which starts at 8:00 AM every morning. Each morning someone different runs "the net", they always start with everyone listening for anyone who might be in trouble, they then go to check-ins. During check-ins everyone announces their boat name and the person running that days net replies with a friendly "Good morning Si Bon". After check-ins we move to a weather report, then local assistance. Local assistance is where if you are in need of some sort of local service, (dentist, hardware store or in Sharon's case, somewhere to get you toes done), everyone chirps in with their opinion of the best place to go. There's is then a call for lost and found and then we go to swaps and trades. We are not allowed to sell things to each other here in Mexico (not sure why), so we have to trade things for coconuts....for instance I was able to sell....oops I mean trade my hookah dive system to another cruiser for 1000 coconuts, and I am hoping that I can trade some of those coconuts for a fishing reel from the Sanford and Son of San Carlos, Garth on Tuna-holic.
The cruiser nets are a very important part of our day and we look forward each morning to flicking on the radio to channel 7-2 and joining our many new friends in starting out another day in paradise.
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 sail...as 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.
10/14/2011, 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!