02/19/2010, Porto Ballandra, Isla Carmen
It was a REALLY slow sail today from Honeymoon Cove to Ballandra. We upped the anchor about 0930 and slowly motored out into the channel and hoisted the mainsail and rolled out the genoa. With the engine shut off, we SLOWLY headed North up the channel. The wind forecast had been for 6-8 knots from the South in the morning and 9-13 from the South in the afternoon. We, of course, were running into 6-8 knot winds from the Northeast--not the South as expected. We only had 15 miles to get to Ballandra but at just over 2 knots of speed(not much wind you see), we had a long day ahead of us.
About 1100, we hoisted the forestaysail to get as much momentum as we could out of the canvas that is available on Zephyr. While it didn't help much, any little bit helps. On we went, with no other boats in sight. A little jog here and a little jog there to take as much advantage of the available winds. It was strange not seeing any other boats out here as this is supposed to be the "high" season for this area. We've seen very few boats during our travels up and down the coast. No where near what we had expected. In Summer, it is too hot to sail here comfortably. At 110 degrees, I'm not looking forward to it. Heck, the water is in the 90's then.
On we pushed. Slowly making our way there. A small puff of wind and then calm. Another puff and then calm. Over and over it went. As we went, the wind(what there was of it) slowly shifted to more of and East wind so we could slowly point more toward our destination. We were bound and determined to sail all the way. We could have motored and been there in just over 2 hours, but where was the fun in that. We are a sailboat after all. The folks on Guenivere 1 make it a policy to sail as much as possible and just plan accordingly as to where they might end up at the end of a day. One place where they hope to end up and a place closer where they might end up. We have always set our sights on getting to one particular place and acted accordingly. We will try it their way for a while and will probably get in more sailing that way.
By 1530, we were about half a mile from Ballandra when the wind finally died. We could see lots of wind on the West side of the channel but next to nothing where we were. It was finally time to call it quits and take down the sails and head on in. We dropped the forestaysail and I bagged it on the bow. We typically keep it hanked on to the forestay so it can be put up quickly. We leave the spinnaker on deck also for the same reason. If it is out and handy, it will get used more regularly and they do. It beats hauling out the sails from down below decks where space is at a premium. In came the Genoa. Much easier with the Milwaukee drill to help. It spins that winch really well and rolls in the sail quickly. A great addition to the crew. Down came the main and on came the engine and in we headed. While Tracy steered, I tied the mainsail down to the boom to make sure it didn't get out of control on deck. We were set and tidy for making a good anchor drop.
As we motored into Ballandra, one of the three boats already at anchor, upped his and took off for the North side of the anchorage. Apparently a prime spot that he wanted and didn't want to have us take it. OK, fine, we dropped our anchor(26 01.138N 111 09.834W) and settled in. The swells(rolling waves) started hitting us just before we came into the anchorage. Right out of the West and right into the anchorage. Next came the winds--10 knots. Again, out of the West. As I said in yesterdays post, we plan our anchorages on where the wind is coming from. We had been led to believe that todays wind was going to come out of the South and we had planned accordingly. Well, not today. All the winds we had came out of the North, the Northeast and now out of the West. We were not where we should be for the night. If we had known where the winds would actually come from, we would have sailed to the opposite side of the island and dropped our hook there. It's now almost 2200 hours and it is still rolling into the anchorage. It may turn out to be a relatively unpleasant night. The winds have slowed but the swells have continued. If it is like this tomorrow, we will take off for San Juanico and blow this place off.
The kids and Tracy are a bit piqued due to the swells and rolling water under the hull. Not a pleasant way to spend the evening. We had dinner in the cockpit as it was much better for everyone. Being out at anchor, the kids aren't drooling at least, having gotten accustomed to the rolling of the boat. After awhile at a marina, they have to readjust all over again. We haven't been tied up to a marina since La Paz back in early January.
I guess we will see what the weather is tomorrow and make the call then. I'll let you know where we end up or if we are still here. Stay tuned.
02/17/2010, Honeymoon Cove, Isla Danzante
Well, it's now Thursday and the Sun is out bright and beautiful. It's in the mid-70's and actually hot in the cabin. It's about time to start installing the fans we bought in San Diego. Not sure how many we bought but 8 to 10 I think is about right. Where we are going, even that may not be enough to keep us cool. The first two will go in the main cabin to keep the air circulating. Then to the stern berth area so Tracy can stay cool at night. It gets down to 55 or so at night but without air flow, it still feels warm.
We got here on Tuesday and settled in nicely. As I said in the last post, we had a big party on board that night with 8 of us getting together from the three boats here at anchor. One left on Wednesday for Escondido but is due back tomorrow. They had to drop off some guests that had been visiting. So far, no other boats have come in and tried to take their space. We could have moved over, but we really like it in the South cove of the three in Honeymoon.
On Wednesday, we took Puff over to the North cove and beached her so we could walk the trails on the island. It's all part of the National Park system of Mexico. While the trails aren't great(certainly wouldn't pass for access for the disabled)lots of crushed stone(heaven only knows there are tons of it on the island)makes the hiking easier though you have to watch your footing so you don't slide. They have signs along the path telling what different plants are as we headed up the hills. We got there just as the folks from Guenivere 1 were leaving. They've done lots of hiking on the island and have been here for the best part of a week. After our hike, a couple in a kayak showed up. Being(I would guess) in their late 60's, they were in good physical shape. As we were putt putting out of the cove, the woman had stripped off her swim suit and was swinging it in the air as she skipped along the beach. To each their own I guess.
I swam ashore to bury some chicken that had gone bad in the freezer. The bag leaked big time and it had gone well over the hill. It was some of the last from San Diego. Oh well. I walked the beach and found it quite clean considering that it gets used regularly by groups of kayakers. The eleven that had been there the previous night were long since gone and didn't leave a piece of trash anywhere. It's great to see people so concerned that they actually clean up after themselves.
Later in the afternoon, we got another visit from the park patrol. A different group than the set that arrived on Tuesday. I'm not sure they had ever seen the type of passes that we carry allowing us entrance to the park. Since we bought them in Pa Paz, few ever make it this far North. Most people simply buy wrist bands for each day they expect to spend out here. There is a problem in Loreto in that the folks from Escondido that have tried to get the yearly passes can't get them as the local park office doesn't have any and has no idea when they will be getting them. They pay for them so when they do arrive, they can pick them up but there are questions on what to show the Park Patrol folks when they show up. Some of the folks from the marina were told just to show them their receipt and some were told to just wait till the passes arrive but meanwhile, give us the money for the passes. I'm glad we got ours back in December even though they say they are a year pass, they expire at the end of June. With luck we will be gone by then and safely on the hard in San Carlos to avoid the hurricanes that come that time of year.
We had expected Linda and Dale from Moxie to come over today to explore the island with us, but Dale came down with some sort of sore throat and they didn't want to contaminate us so they begged off till we come back in a month or so. We had hoped to get them to take our trash back to Escondido and get rid of it for us. Since they didn't show up, I hopped into Puff and started Dragon and took off across the channel back to Escondido and got rid of it. With just one of us in Puff, she will get up and plane and can really get a good chunk of speed out of her. I was across the channel in well under 15 minutes. It took us almost a hour to do the same on Tuesday on Zephyr. Before I left, I started making another loaf of bread. This one with dried cranberries and walnuts. It was the only recipe I could find that was actually bread and not some piece of quick bread. I had plenty of time to get back and forth to Escondido as it had to rise for two hours. Once back, I split the dough into three pieces and braided the dough for a cool look to the loaf. I'll post pictures the next time I have access to the internet. It came out beautiful. It took until past 1430 before it came out of the oven so it took a good bit of time. Once it was I out, I took off for the cove behind Zephyr.
It was time for some hill climbing. I waded ashore and changed into hiking shoes and headed up into the hills. As I said earlier, while there are paths, they are far from ideal. It's more like a path less traveled than an honest to God path. Tracy stayed on board and read as I headed up into the hills. At least one of us was smart. I made it easily to the ridge that separates the West side from the East side and took some really cool pictures of the far side of the island as well as an aerial view of Zephyr from far above on the hills. Once at the ridge, I took a left and headed farther up the hills. The trail got steeper and was covered in loose gravel. Going up was no real problem but I knew coming back down was going to be a bit risky with all that loose stone under foot. As I expected, I took a fall shortly after leaving the crest of the hill and tumbled down about 10 feet of slope before coming to a stop. A few scrapes and I'm sure there will be some bruises tomorrow but no broken bones(a good thing). The trail was so badly marked, I was way off it for most of the way down but finally made my way back to it as I was making the final decent. I changed back to my reef shoes that can get soaked and dragged Puff back into the water and made my way back to Zephyr. A bit tattered but fine.
I talked earlier last week about the Valentines Day specials that some of the restaurants were having here at Escondido and in Loreto. The one here(Portobello Restaurant) had a special of a petite filet mignon steak dinner for $10.00(US). Tracy found out today while listening to the VHF radio(we always monitor channel 16 for emergencies)that the $10.00 steak was actually a petite filet that had been cut in half so you got about three bites out of it if you were lucky. Plus, that was all you got--no salad, no veggies, nothing but the steak and it had been cut in half. If you wanted a salad or veggie, they cost extra off the menu. They had allowed for 30 people to take advantage of the special and that was it. It's like I said, we aren't in the USA any more. From what Tracy heard on the radio, many of the locals complained to the owner about what they had received and from what was said, he didn't really care. Many told him they would never come back. He had just destroyed his prime customer base in one afternoon. The bad thing is that not only does he own the restaurant, but he also owns the small tienda(store)at the marina that sells some food and drinks to the cruisers that have no way into town. It's not a good situation. He also operates the internet connection that the folks in the "Waiting Room"(small anchorage outside the harbor) use all the time. Apparently he charges them $35.00 a month(each boat)for the service and it is only up about 60 percent of the time. Now the folks in the "Waiting Room" are discussing setting up their own internet service at the anchorage as they are fed up with having bad service and the person who is responsible doesn't care. He gets his money. At $35.00 per boat, and with there being 25 boats(or more) in the "Waiting Room" he could be kissing off a big chunk of cash each month if they go ahead with their plan. I guess we will find out when we return here in a month or so.
Tomorrow, we are off for Isla Carmen and a new anchorage. Not sure which one yet, but we will let you know when we get there. It all depends on which way the winds are scheduled to blow. If from the South, only certain places are fit for dropping the hook and if the winds are from the North, that allows for different places to drop the hook. We'll let you know where we end up.
02/17/2010, Honeymoon Cove, Isla Danzante
We left Puerto Escondido yesterday after a quick 8 days on a mooring buoy. We were boat locked for a few days during high winds(30+ knot range) and had some great times with Linda and Dale off Moxie touring downtown Loreto and having a nice dinner on their boat last Monday night.
We spent Monday getting ready to leave tidying up Zephyr for the long distance(3.5 miles) to Honeymoon Cove right across the channel. We both went in for showers and dropped off some videos we had borrowed from the yacht club. We also got the rest of our jerry cans filled with diesel and gasoline. We now have 5 five gallon cans of gas so we can stay out for the next month with no problems. That much gas will run our generator for quite some time, not to mention Dragon(our outboard motor). We poured the diesel into the tanks so all in all, we added 20 gallons to our tanks. We have plenty of diesel to get us just about anywhere on the Baja.
We packed up a bunch of my clothes to give to the Hidden Port Yacht Club at Escondido to be given to a local charity(or other cruiser) if they could fit into them. I've managed to keep the 55 pounds(20 more to go) off that I have lost since we left Port Townsend so what I hadn't already given away at previous marinas got disposed of here. Now that my waist line is down to 34 inches, I hadn't been there since college. So right now, I'm sure there is some cruiser walking Escondido in a new pair of blue jeans. Heck, some of the pants never got worn.
We filled our water tanks and left the harbor abut 1040 for the hop over to Honeymoon Cove. We had originally thought to come here before we went to Escondido several weeks ago but since there was a big storm coming(winds hit 55 knots-63mph) we hid out in Escondido instead. Now we were back on track to see what we missed before. When we arrived, Guenivere 1(we had met them in San Evaristo while we waited out another storm) was in the North cove(the most protected) with a bow and stern anchor out. It's a small narrow anchorage good for just a few boats and only if they double anchor that way. Another boat(Apolina) was in the middle cove so we headed for the Southmost cove and dropped the anchor(25 48.36N 111 15.414W) and settled in. On our way in, Guenivere 1 called us to welcome us and let us know about the anchorage. Once we got settled in, we invited both boats over for drinks. Hey, it a social group out here and what better way to meet your fellow cruisers. About 1200, the "Park Police" showed up in their boat to check for permits. Isla Danzante and Isla Carmen are "National Parks" in Mexico and require a permit to visit. We had kidded each other while having lunch as to wether we would see anyone to check on passes while we were here and lo and behold, here they came, right on cue. We had bought our permits while in La Paz and had never actually expected to use them as that is the way it normally turns out. Buy a pass and no one will show up. Don't buy a pass and they will. We pulled out our passes and surprised the officers. I don't think they run into too many folks that actually took the time to buy permits. Ours are supposed to be good for a year, but it expires in June of 2010(go figure since we bought them in late December. They asked us where we bought them and when. Most folks simply buy day passes to be out here. You get charged by the day or year, nothing else(no monthly). Our names were added to their list and we were set for our stay. Most of the islands up the Sea of Cortez are all part of the National Parks system so the pass will take care us no matter where we end up.
We are continually fighting "bobos". Small flies that are everywhere. We've never run into so many at one place. They don't bite so they just buzz and annoy you. Hard to kill as they are fast little buggers. A few wasps joined in the fun during the afternoon but haven't been back yet today. Maybe they will stay away(hope so).
About 1300, a group of kayakers showed up--9 boat and 11 people and set up their own little village right off our stern on shore. We turned from a nice deserted cove into a big settlement. They set up camp and put up tents and settled in for the night. At 1630, the party started and went till 2000. We had a great time and met more cruisers. I'm sure we will run into each other again especially since Apolina is headed for San Juanico and we expect to go there again before we leave the area. And that is about the way yesterday went. Lots of sun and fun out here.
Today, off to explore the island.
02/14/2010, Puerto Escondido--buoy 106
I added a new photo album today to cover our trip from Puerto Escondido to Bahia Concepcion and back. There is even a picture of me going up the mast.
Enjoy. Do let me know if you can't find it but it should be in the photo area somewhere.
02/13/2010, Still in Escondido, Mexico
Well, we're still boat bound and have been since the late on the 11th. We got a radio call from Dale and Linda on Moxie to see if we wanted to go to town to try and find the medication for Shadow. As we had stowed Puff in anticipation for the upcoming storm, we launched her since the storm hadn't made it here yet. It was due by last Thursday.
Into town we went and the first stop was the vet(pet food store). They had closed the last time we had gone in for "siesta" time. This time they were open and the vet was in. Between Linda, Tracy and myself, we got across the problem we had as far as Shadow went(failing health and advanced age). He wanted to know if we wanted to bring him in--nope. He then got us the medication we need to take care of Shadow when the time comes. No vet in the US would even consider giving us what we needed.
We picked up some more supplies and had a great lunch at one of the local restaurants and headed back to the marina. Once back here, the wind had now picked up and during the ride back to Zephyr, we both got quite drenched. We took off Dragon(our outboard) and stowed Puff on deck. We were ready for the winds.
It blew off and on over night but never got really ugly. Tracy washed our saltwater soaked clothes and once they were put through the wringer, we hung them from the lifelines on clothes pins. A few hours later, they were dry. It helps to have the wringer to get all the water out. It was the first time we used our "Wonder Wash". Google it. It's quite the gizmo. It's a round box that has a screw lid on brackets so it can be spun. With some hot water and soap, it does a surprisingly good job. The loads are small, but require little time.
Meanwhile, I busied myself cleaning up my workbench and Nav station. Lots of junk had built up over the past month and they needed cleaning off badly. They both look much better. During one of our wetter sails, water had made its way in and spilled on the vise that is on the top of my work bench. Rush had set in, so I spent a good bit of time getting it all cleaned up and properly lubricated so it is back in good condition. Lots of things got stowed and even more things got thrown away. And the winds kept blowing.
For dinner, I chopped some onions and garlic and put them in a pound of hamburger and set aside to merge the flavors. Once cooked, I added some spices and bacon and spooned it out on tortillas(lots available in Mexico) along with cheddar cheese and salsa and heated it all in the microwave to melt the cheese and warm the salsa. A bit spicy but mine sure went down easy. Tracy got through half of hers before calling it quits. And the winds blew.
All through last night, the winds blew. Sometimes in the 30 knot range. Our DuoGen loved them and happily spun through the night making amps for us. This morning dawned with the first sunshine we have seen in several days. It has come and gone all day today.
After breakfast, I went at the problem we have had with out stern running light. It failed a while ago and needed some attention to see what the problem was. Legally, when we are out motoring at night, we have to have forward and stern lights as well as a "steaming" light(white light that shines forward only) lit on the mast. This tells people on other boats what we are and which way we are headed. If they see a red light and a white light, they are looking at the port side of the boat(going right to left). If green and white, they are looking at our starboard side(going left to right). It can make a big difference at night. Since it died, we have used the navigation light at the top of the mast and the steaming light to tell people we are motoring. Unfortunately, that's not proper(nor legal) lighting for navigation. The light at the top of the mast can only be used as a navigation light when we are sailing--not motoring. I found the positive wire where it was spiced at deck level to be cracked and broken. I ripped out the wire inside the stanchion and rail and replaced it. Whoever ran the original lines had spliced it several times to make the line long enough to make it to the light fitting. They even used crimp on fittings for automobiles(rust rust rust), not for marine applications. I used a special crimp fitting that comes with a heat shrink sheath that melts with a heat gun and seals the fitting so no moisture can get in(no rust or corrosion). For good measure(not sure how effective it will be)I wrapped the wire connection in "Rescue Tape". This is a silicone tape that fuses to itself once exposed to air and forms a seal around anything it covers. At least that is what the manufactures claim. So far, in engine and hydraulic steering fixes I have found it pretty much worthless. We will see how it does this time. I figure it must be better than wrapping it in electrical tape. And the winds blew.
The forecast is for it to slowdown over night to just moderate winds so we can get ashore. One of the restaurants in Loreto is having a "special" Valentines day meal for $149 pesos(about $11.50US). We will be heading in(hopefully staying dry) with Dale and Linda off Moxie about 1500 for an early dinner. Those two have made our stay here very enjoyable always being available to help us when we needed it. Plus, they know all about the area having been here for several months.
This afternoon, I'm going to take another look at the stern head. It is still acting strangely and is getting harder to pump(plus it smells a bit). I also need to put a bit of caulk on Puff. Water is getting in where the inflated tubes meet the hard bottom. WIth luck, a bit of caulk will solve the problem.
02/10/2010, Puerto Escondido--buoy 106
As I said in our last post, we are now in Puerto Escondido safely on a mooring buoy. Number 106 to be exact. There are only 14 boats in the entire harbor(149 mooring balls available). Almost 30 are sitting outside the harbor on anchor in the "Waiting Room". They pay a lot less being out there. Yes, anyway you look at it, they get their money. At anchor or on a buoy, you pay Mexico. Don't believe some of the books. If on a buoy, you pay about $13.00 a day and while on your own anchor, you pay about $1.00 per day. You do pay extra for some other services while at anchor that a mooring doesn't. We opted for the buoy since there is another big blow headed our way and due in here by tomorrow morning.
Yesterday, we had planned to have Shadow put to sleep, but when we went to get him, he kicked up such a fuss about being put in the carrier, we decided to leave him alone. Over the past 3-5 days, he has made a rather remarkable comeback for what he had slipped too. He's eating and drinking again and will even jump up on the settees and sit in your lap. For the past week or so, he just laid there on a mat up near the bow of the boat and wouldn't eat or drink for 3-4 days. Now, he is back to what he was. Don't know what caused the improvement, but he is still kicking just fine. In the past, when it came time to take care of one of our cats, they just laid there and had no problem being put in their carrier and taken to the vet. Not this time. He is clearly not ready to go.
So instead, we hitched a ride into town with Dale and Linda off Moxey. They're the same folks we met in San Diego and helped us a few weeks ago during our first stop here. We planned to stop at the local vet--doubles as a pet food store-- and see if he would give us the necessary medication to do the job ourselves when Shadow's time comes. After doing some re-provisioning(bought more food), we stopped by the vets--he was closed for the afternoon siesta. Yeah, that happens all the time down here. Open at 0900, close at 1200, open again about 1500 and close about 1800. It is just the way of life down here. Sometimes a restaurant will be open and sometimes they will just close for a few days. It's not like it is back home. They march to a different, more relaxed way of life down here.
Once our shopping was done, we headed back to Escondido and ferried all the supplies back to Zephyr. We found that the line that attaches the bow to the buoy had gotten wrapped again around the buoy, so with Tracy at the bow and me in the dingy, I slowly tried to unwrap it. That didn't work, so I simply slipped the line from the buoy and retied it. Tracy pulled up on the line to make it tighter to the bow and now there is no chance of it wrapping again. I had to take a swim last time we left here and I really don't want to do that again.
Once the line was clear, I took off for the dingy dock with three of our gasoline jerry cans to get them refilled. If we had taken Zephyr over, it would have cost us an additional 20% on top of the fuel price. It's the same with filling up your tanks with diesel. A 20% surcharge can dig a hole in you wallet. Imagine going to your filling station and getting gas for your car and having them add 20% to your bill because you came in your car. I got the three tanks filled and carried them back to the dingy dock and loaded them on and returned to Zephyr. Tracy was ready with the block and tackle that we use to hoist Dragon(our 8hp out board)so the lifting was easy. While I was gone, Tracy stowed all the supplies we had picked up while in town so Zephyr was all ship shape again.
It has been cloudy here for the last day or so and is still overcast today. We are apparently in some sort of trough of weather that has allowed the clouds to come South for a change. Of well, there can't be sunshine everyday.
Today is my birthday!!! I finally hit 30(yeah, right-mentally maybe)It started with me baking some more French Bread. While the dough was rising, I went up the mast to retrieve the forestaysail halyard the came detached on our trip down from Bahia Concepcion. We slipped the bosuns chair onto the main halyard line and with Tracy at the winch with our Milwaukee drill, up I went. We bought this Milwaukee 90 degree drill when we were first in Newport, Oregon. With a bit from Winch Bit(it fits right in the top of the winch) it make all of our winches electric. Really helps out when the arms aren't strong enough or the winch isn't powerful enough. I danced around the rigging as I went up till I was at the spreaders and grabbed the line and lowered it back to the deck where Tracy fastened it to the life line. The shackle had simply come undone. Down I came(slowly) and on to the next project--I changed out the shackle for a better one on the forestaysail halyard(no reason to go back up if I don't have to). Tracy took off for the laundry leaving me on board to continue with the French bread and other projects.
The dough got punched and shaped into loaves. I forgot to cut the recipe in half(small oven) so we will be having MUCH BIGGER loaves. The oven will only hold one baking pan at a time. While the loaves went through their rising phase, I put on the mainsail cover and the covers for the winches and worked on the internet for a short time.
Once the loaves were ready, in they went and that is where we are now. Waiting for them to be done. About another 30 minutes. I sure hope they don't overflow the pan as they bake. Tracy should be back soon so we can have lunch. With the storm due here tomorrow morning, we want to make sure we are all battened down. The last one(winds to 60mph) caught several boats unprepared. They may forecast 30 knot winds but if you believe the weather people, I have some land down here I love to sell you.
Over the next few days, I'll post some new photos as the internet allow. We actually have a pretty good connection even out here on the buoy. Much better than the last time.
As always, stay tuned, there is more to come.