03/26/2010, Somewhere in the Sea of Cortez
We're going to try something new for this blog. I'm going to do mini posts to this blog as we go across the Sea and then have it post at it's regular way.
We upped the anchor at 0745 in about 8 knots of wind. Surprisingly from the West and Southwest. The forecast had been for it to come from the North to Northwest. Oh well, Mother Nature must have gotten the memo that we were out again. Yesterdays winds would have been perfect for the crossing. Fifteen to twenty from the Northwest and decent small swells. Perhaps we should have just kept going. We pulled up the main sail and then rolled out our Genoa and off we went doing almost 4 knots. Dolphins came by the 100s to flock around Zephyr. Unfortunately, we were going so slowly that they just came, saw, got bored, and left. On we pressed with the wind slowly dying. By 1100, we took in the Genoa and lowered the main and pulled up the spinnaker. The wind was down to maybe three knots. Out she(the spinnaker) went and there we stopped. Once it was out, the wind died. It's now 1300 and we have gone 9.6 miles since we left at 0745. At this rate, we should be in Mazatlan by next Tuesday(maybe).
Ok, that's it for stage one of the trip. I'll write more as the day passes. Heck, not much happening above decks right now.
Part 2 1600 hours day 1 At 1330, the winds picked up to almost 8 knots and our speed went up to about 4 knots. Over the next few hours, it went up and down and is now at about 5 knots with us doing 3.3 knots. Not really that bad unless you consider that we haven't even done 20 miles for the day so far. In 8 hours=less than 20 miles=2.5 miles per hour. Wow!!! At that rate--228 miles to Mazatlan, it will be a few more days before we get there. We are considering continuing to use the spinnaker through the night. That will be a first for us. A few months ago, we had barely ever used one and now we are looking at using it at night. At leat the moon is cooperating being about 80% full so it will be nice and bright till about 0330 when it sets. We'll just have t evaluate the conditions through the night. I'm on watch from 1900 to 2300. Tracy then takes over till 0300 and I'm back on watch till 0700. It makes for a long night. We figure at least two solid days plus more if the wind continue at this rate. We've seen no other sailboats this trip and only a few pangas(fishing boats). For it being high season, it's really quite empty out here. More in a few hours.
1730 hours OK, we tried. We so wanted to sail the entire way to Mazatlan but it was not to be. By 1700, we were about a mile from the tip of Isla Cerralvo with it's reefs and that is not a good place to be as the Sun is getting ready to go down and there is just about no wind. So we bit the bullet and took down the spinnaker(wasn't doing anything any way) and started the engine. We'll run her for a few hours to get us away from the island and shut her down for the night and put up the sails and see what the night brings. At the worst, we sit and wait for sunrise and some much needed winds. At the best, we get some West to Northwest winds and make a good headway through the night. We've gone barely 22 miles of a 228 mile trip and had hoped to do much better after the winds we had had yesterday. Oh well, there is always tomorrow, and the next day and the next day. Eventually we will get to Mazatlan. I'll write more as the night progresses. We'll see what happens next.
2016 hours Oh, the last few hours have been exciting!!! We actually caught a fish!!! We tossed the line in the water to drag behind Zephyr early in the afternoon. Our speed was so slow, there was no way a fish was even going to look at it and if they did, all they would do was laugh at our pathetic try at fishing. Well, once we started the engine, it was a different matter. Just as Tracy was handing up dinner into the cockpit, she looked back and there was a fish on the line. We had passes Isla Cerralvo about an hour before and will all it's reefs, the fishing is supposed to be good around it. We had seen at least 6 panga fishermen all day around the island. Dinner was put on hold and we scurried to the back deck and I started pulling in the line. Tracy grabbed the net we keep along the rail. We had originally bought it to snare one of our furr people should they fall over board. In came the fish--big with blue stripes. Our book says it is a Bonito and is supposed to be good eating. OK, now we have a fish. What the heck do we do with it? We pulled out our big blue bucket and tossed him in it. He had already bled all over the back deck(Yuck). I got our filet knife and went at him. Tracy was reading what to do in one of our fishing books. Well, our fileting knife was about as dull as could be. So out came another and in I went. Along the top and along the bottom till I got to his back bone and then off with the filet. Blood was everywhere!!! I looked like Freddy Kruger from Nightmare on Elm Street. Side one and then side two and back into the water with the carcass. We had our first edible fish!! The book says his meat is supposed to be white but not the fish we caught. Oh well, I guess we will see what he tastes like tomorrow. Shadow sure liked what we gave him. He lapped it right down. The other two turned up their noses at it. Now back to a now cold dinner of tacos on flour tortillas from the tortilla factory in La Paz. Even cold, Tracy makes a great taco. We used more of the meat we bought at the local market where the local shop. It cooked up with just about no grease. Now that is lean meat.
At 1930, we turned off the engine after two hours and put back up the main sail and rolled out the Genoa sail at the bow. The winds were our of the North north west at about 5 to 6 knots. With the sails up, we started moving again at 2.7 to 3 knots. Not fast, but our chart plotter says we will be at Mazatlan in just 91 hours and 8 minutes. That's just shy of 4 more days. Now that's slow sailing. The forecast is for more wind over the next two days so that should help our speed. We'll see if they are accurate tomorrow.
I'm on watch till 2300 while Tracy tries to catch some sleep below. Strangely, all the furr people are back with her and not out on deck checking out the night life out here. Oh well, maybe later.
0530 Hours Saturday morning The hours passed quickly till 2300 when Tracy came on watch. The winds had stayed in the 6 to 8 knot range and we were moving along at 4 to 5 knots headed toward Mazatlan. The sky was clear and the moon lighted the seas. It was a pleasant sail. I sat in the cockpit and watched a movie on my IPod to pass the time. I stopped every 15 minutes or so to scan the waters around us. I briefly saw one ship far off our stern but it was gone in a few minutes. That was it. No other boats. Tracy came on deck right on time and I headed below for a few hours of sleep. The furr people joined me in the stern cabin. With the winds over the port side(left) I got to sleep with my head in a slightly downward angle. With no engine running, it wasn't much different from sleeping at anchor. Just a bit more noise from the water as it passed the hull.
Tracy, ever the sailer, went out on deck(in a life vest and safety harness clipped to our jack lines) and adjusted the sails to be as much out of the winds as possible. The winds are still blowing at 140 degrees off the port stern quarter(rear left side). The boom with the mainsail is let way out to catch the winds and the genoa is getting some also so she kept us moving along at a good clip. She got us up to 6.6 knots. We're now running along at 5.6 knots on a course of 106 degrees in 10 knots of wind. A big improvement since yesterday afternoon when we limped along at barely 1.5 knots. James, our Hydrovane wind steering system is doing well maintaining our course but our hydraulic steering sometimes heads us a bit to far into the wind so I have to correct it. The Sun if starting to light up the eastern horizon and it is expected to rise at 0613 so not that far off and another sunny day will be upon us. Tracy is due back on watch at 0700 so I can get a bit more rest. Meanwhile, the miles tick off and our new estimated time of arrival is now just 30 hours away. It helps to make some speed through the water. Not a ship to be seen around us. We've covered 80 miles of the 229 to Mazatlan.
0800 Hours Saturday morning We've just hit the 24 hours since we left Playa La Bonanza and here are our stats: Currently located at 24 02.991N 108 45.414W. We've covered 91.2 miles and have 138 to go. Our max speed was 7.0 knots-just a short while ago. We've seen several whales this morning and a few yesterday afternoon as we limped along North of Isla Cerralvo. And that's our first 24 hours.
03/26/2010, Playa La Bonaza, Isla Espiritu Santo
We left yesterday from La Paz and started our journey to Mazatlan on the mainland. We stopped at Costa Baja to fill up with fuel on the way out of town. Now here is a tip on how the marinas make money off poor little cruisers. Heck, they hit anyone that comes into their docks for fuel. They are forced to charge what the state says(fuel is controlled by the Mexican Government). BUT, they can tack on what ever they want in "Extras". We ended up paying an extra $32.00 to basically use their dock. They tack it on a s "USE" fee. OH, they also have found a way o squeeze 6 gallons into a 5 gallon jerry can. AMAZING!!! There is no regulatory agency that goes around and checks the pumps for accuracy.
But any way, we are now at Playa La Bonanza for the night and are about to set off East. We fought the North winds for 5 hours to make it to the anchorage. Today, we are expecting good NorthWest to North winds that will help us scoot long eastward.
I'll fill you in with more later as it's a two day trip to the mainland. It's 226 miles at about 4, maybe 5 knots, so we will be out here a while.
More to come.
03/25/2010, La Paz, Mexico
Well, it's time to leave La Paz and start our journey to Mazatlan on the mainland. It's been busy week getting as much done as we could. Not having a car has made it a bit tougher and slower with every task. The shuttle controls our schedules as to when we can go anywhere unless we want to shell out for a taxi and that can get expensive.
We arrived last Thursday and took the rest of the day to get settled and just look at the other boats and take a nice LONG, HOT shower not having to worry about how much and how long we stood under the water. On Zephyr, you stand in a room a bit smaller than an old phone booth and turn on the water and wet as much as you can and then turn the water off. Soap up(don't forget to shampoo at the same time)and then turn the water back on(careful--don't get scaled because you got the mix wrong)and rinse as quick as possible. You can forget about the shampoo mantra of"rinse and repeat". That just isn't going to happen. The joys of a nice long shower are truly one of the perks of coming back to civilization.
Friday was off and running. Tracy did the laundry as I hiked all over town trying to round up parts and equipment. The rest of the week just sort of blended together with odd jobs and errands to and from town. We made it to City Club(like Costco) on Monday to stock up on bulk items. Surprisingly, we didn't really buy a tremendous amount of food as we still have quite a bit left even though we had been gone for the better part of 2 1/2 months. Yeah, we had bought a few things in Loreto, but not that much. Zephyr is a big boat and can hold a lot of food. We had really stocked up well before we left the US.
I actually made my first phone call in over 4 month yesterday. I had to buy a phone card to get it done(actually several) as I had several companies that I had to discuss problems with. Being off the internet, we found that we had gotten well over 1,000 emails. I had to look at most and delete those we didn't need and place phone calls to some that we had to make urgent contact with that an email wouldn't take care of. It takes a long time to go through that many emails. I took a few hundred a day and slowly plowed through them. Gee, what fun!?!
So tomorrow, we take off for Mazatlan with a stop at Los Muertos on the way. We had stopped there on our way North back in late December and will probably spend one night there before the big crossing. Leaving from there, it's only 193 miles. If we leave from the islands(Los Santos) just Northeast of La Paz, it's 226 miles. Either way, it will take us an over night passage to get there. We expect a full moon in a few days so we will have plenty of light to allow us to see all that is around us as we cross the Sea of Cortez.
We'll be filling up with diesel and gasoline(for the generator and out board) as we leave La Paz. We're about half full of diesel so it's not really that big a deal, but it's always better to play it safe. Several other cruisers are leaving in a day or so so we expect to have some company during our crossing. I guess time will tell if we are alone out there.
Stay tuned, more to come as we set off on the next part of the journey.
03/21/2010, La Paz, Mexico
We continued today with more jobs. Tracy took on defrosting the freezer while I got the job of removing the black water tank in the stern head(OH BOY!!)
The freezer plate in the freezer gets covered in ice and needs to be defrosted about every month or so just like the freezers of old. No such thing as "frost free"on a boat. There was quite a bit of ice on it and as we had planned to buy more meat for the freezer today, we needed to make sure it was nice and clean and ready to go. Out came the hair dryer and the scraper and in she went. I meanwhile took off the wall panel that covers the tank and headed in for a smelly job.
For quite some time, the stern head has been malfunctioning. It continually gave off bad smells when used and would pump back in when you flushed what had been pumped out after the previous use. I'd tried to clean out the breather valve but the installation was so tight that there was no way to get to it with out removing the tank. Out came the screws and off came the hoses(yuck!!). I crammed paper towels into every hole in the tank(of course some of the paper towels fell out as the tank was removed--yuck). There were were 6 brackets that held it in place all with 2 screws in them. Each brackets screws had to be labeled so that the proper screws went back in the proper holes they came out of. After a good hour, out it came.
We carefully took it off the boat and onto the dock where I could better check it out. Yep, the vent on the top of the tank was totally blocked. I pulled out my electric drill and reamed it out. It was now nice and clear. I cleaned the bottom hole(where stuff comes out) as it has some "stuff" stuck to the pipe. Back in it went. We had to align the pump out pipe on the top with the pump out fitting that goes through the deck. Once it was on, I wedged the tank in while Tracy made sure the screw holes lined up. In went the screws and the tank was fastened back in. Then on with the rest of the hoses and the clamps tightened and we were done--sort of. I stuck paper towels under each fitting to check as it gets used the make sure that there are no leaks(yuck). Tracy had cleaned the wall behind and under the tank and then scrubbed the tank before it was put back in. Might as well get rid of anything that might bring on an odor. Now we will see if we have solved the problem.
Once Tracy was done with the freezer(I had yanked her away to help me several times) we had a lunch of left overs and headed for the 1330 shuttle to town. We had provisions to start buying. We been clued in as to where the local "farmers" market. Great vegetables and meats at good prices and much fresher than what is available at the big box stores. We bought four kilos(8.8 pounds) of really good looking hamburger and two really thick rib eye steaks. They will cut the steaks to any thickness that you want and they packaged the hamburger in kilo bags to make it easier to freeze when we got back to Zephyr. Tomatoes, onions, limes and cucumbers were just some of the veggies we bought. We've gotten in the habit of taking cloth bags to make the trip back easier and these bags don't break.
We then took off for the local Issste store. It's government controlled so the prices are as low as possible. More great buys of more things we needed for our next journey. We were the only "gringos" in the place and we had other customers staring at us as we shopped. I guess not that many cruisers visit their store. We were a bit out of place. Tracy had asked around when we got here as to where it was and was repeatedly told by locals that they had never heard of the place. I guess it is a secret place meant for locals to use. We had been shown this type of store by the Linda and Dale off Moxie when we were in Escondido a while ago. We then headed to the local tortilla factory next door and bought a good supply of flour tortillas to shrink wrap for the future. They were still warm. We bought so much stuff that we took a taxi back to the marina.
As we were taking our provisions to the boat, another boat was trying to come in to the marina and didn't like where they had gotten assigned. We helped them tie up to the end of the dock until it could get straightened out and another slip assigned. We helped them get into their slip once the decision was made by the marina as to where they wanted them. They had just come over from the mainland and will now be making their way up the Baja side.
With everything on board, I headed off for the showers. After what I had been working on this morning, I thought it was a good idea to clean my self up properly. Boy--it sure is nice to be able to stand under a never ending stream of hot water and not having to worry about running out of both hot water and water. Ah, the luxuries of being at a marina. I talked to another cruiser on the way back to Zephyr. They had come into the marina expecting to stay a week and have now been here two months!! They had gotten stuck in the La Paz vortex. You come in and never leave.
Tomorrow, I have fans to install fans and plugs to replace. Plus, there is a swap meet at one of the local yards this afternoon that we will be heading for. Lets see what we can find that we might need someday.
The journey continues.
03/20/2010, La Paz, Mexico
We're back in La Paz after being gone since January 10.
We spent the night of the 17 in Ensenada De la Raza(24 28.363N 110 22.802W) out in the islands as the only person in the bay. A bit open for our tastes but at least we had it to ourselves. Well sort of. We were nailed by LOTS of BoBos. These are little flies that buzz you and try and get all over you if they can. Thank God they don't bite plus they are not the fastest flies in the world. Not to hard to kill two or three in one swat.
I put on my scuba gear and took a look at Zephyr's bottom. Not too bad all in all. A bit of growth in a few areas that I got knocked off and cleaned up. I didn't have the proper amount of weights on my belt so it was hard to stay down. I had Tracy hand me down an extra weight to add to my belt. With it just in my hand, I sank nicely to the bottom(15 feet or so). I wasn't the smartest guy in the world as when I took the belt off to add the new one, up I went. I kept the belt in my hand so I was floating upside down. I pulled my self back down and sat on the bottom with the belt in my lap until I could get the weight added and then I was fine. Interesting feeling floating upside down.
We watched boats heading North and South all afternoon. It's a major pathway to the islands with lots of pangas passing and sail and power boats looking for a place to drop their anchor for the night.
We headed into La Paz on Thursday morning. Of course, there was little wind and what there was was from the South so we had to motor all the way in. I guess you can't always have good sailing winds though we have enjoyed them on our trip South from Bahia Concepcion over the last few months.
We're now at 24 10.952N 110 18.226 W if you are Google Earthing us. I'm sure there are lots of pictures of the area. With luck, I'll get many of our up in the next few days.
Yesterday was spent running or at least walking errands. Tracy spent the day at the laundry getting our mounds of dirty clothes and sheets washed. I took off in the 0900 shuttle for down town. Lopez Marine the first stop. We'd made a list and I had lots of things I needed to get. The hardest to find was small thin bungie cord to fix the DuoGen. It holds the pin to the body of the unit so it won't fall off as you change out the wind prop for the water prop. After a year, it had finally broken. I got lucky and found some at Home Depot here.
I hit at least 8 store in my trek and was smart enough to take the "Collectivo" buses around when I had bigger distances to cover. The one I took from Walmart went all over town before finally getting somewhat close to the marina where I could get off and walk the rest of the way. There is really no formal bus system here, just a bunch(lots) of guys traveling around town in small vans or buses picking up people for 8 pesos(really cheap) and you get off when you want. Not so bad as long as you get lucky and get on the right bus. If you don't, you could end up way out of your way.
We had our last steak from Costco last night for dinner. Ah--the joys of a fine piece of red meat. Add in a nice baked potato and a bottle of wine and it was a nice dinner. We had our last lobster the night before. Don't cry for us, we're bearing up as well as we can. We will probably be off for the local "City Club"(like Costco) this afternoon. But first, it's time to rip out the stern holding tank for the head and see what is going on back there. It's just not doing it's job right. You have to take the good with the bad I guess.
It was into the low 90's on Thursday when we got in. That's the hottest we have been in a long time. Last time we were here, everyone was wearing their Winter coats(in the mid 60"s). We put tarps over Zephyr to keep it a bit cooler inside. The furr people aren't taking the heat that well.
Well, it's time to get back to work.
Responses to comments and questions:
George and Celeste--Shadow is still moving right along. He has come back to decent health since his set back back in early February. We're just taking each day as a gift having him here with us.
Dave--you asked about Pilot House boats. Not so many though they have their uses. It would keep you out of the elements. We've seen far more ketch rigged boats than we expected. Two masts keep the sails smaller and easier to handle. Not to many "new" boats though.
As to the comments I made earlier about the restaurant in Escondido, I was just telling what I had been told by some people that had been there. Nothing personal. We really enjoyed Escondido and Loreto and the folks we met there. We only ate there once, the day we arrived.
If you have nay question, feel free to ask. I have access to the internet so I can at least see your responses.
03/17/2010, El Cardoncito, Isla Partida
After yesterdays winds(20+ knots) we decided to move a bit farther South from Ensenada Grande. We'd explored it enough and wanted to see more before our move to La Paz on Thursday. So we upped the anchor and took off for somewhere South of where we were. We were looking for a nice secluded and small cove to spend a day or so in. The first one we came to that would fill the bill, won. Just 3.8 miles South of Ensenada Grande was the small cove of El Cardoncito, still on Isla Pardita. As we neared it, we were surprised to 's find it empty. It's small enough, the cruise guides say it is good for just one or two boats. A cute little cove with a nice sandy beach at its head.
In we went and down went the anchor. We didn't bother with a way point on our chart plotter as it is so small. We dropped the anchor (in 15 feet of water)and pulled back on the chain to set it in the sand on the bottom. Nope, it dragged and would not dig in. It just bounced along the bottom hitting stones. Up came the anchor and we tried a different place. Down went the anchor. Same thing--it just bounced along the bottom. Up it came and over we went to try a different place. Same thing. We just kept shifting our location looking for a nice piece of sand for our poor anchor. At the fourth try, it finally set in the sand on the bottom. A whopping depth of 13 feet of water. We were at high tide(a 5 foot range) so we would end up with 8 whole feet under the keel. Still a good depth for us. We had left Ensenada Grande at 0900 and with the anchor problems, we were not settled in till 1020. We were thrilled to get the place to ourselves. When we had come North, there had been another boat in the anchorage and we had passed it by in the belief that it would only handle one boat(safely). Suddenly, on the horizon was another sailboat. He was coming in!!!! Rats!!! Spoiled again!!! He came in and tried to drop his anchor in the same place we had. Hey, guess what? His didn't set either. Up it came and down it went. Sorry, no go. Up it came and down it went. Nope, only this time, he snagged a big hunk of coral and brought it up. The two boys at the bow, knocked it off and they tried again. They asked if we had had problems as they pulled up their anchor and I told them it had taken us four tries to get ours to stick and hold. Each time, they move closer and closer to poor Zephyr. On his fourth try, he finally got his anchor to dig in. He's about 80 feet from our starboard side. If we both swing in opposite directions, we might hit each other. All part of the fun of cruising--right?
While he was getting anchored, we plopped Puff in the water for a nice trip to shore. With Dragon on the stern, in we went. This small cove shoals out quickly so we had to use the oars to get the final distance to shore. I don't want to ruin the poor prop on Dragon by hitting some rock on the bottom. There is a well on shore that was dug by 8 fishermen back in the 1940's to provide fresh water for any fishermen that stopped by. A beautiful piece of stone work as all the sides are covered in dry stacked stone. No concrete was used. I knew the Mexicans were good with stone work, but this was amazing. It's a good 20 feet from the top of the well to the bottom of the water. Someone even left a line next to the well so you can see how deep it is. It's marked out with knots at each foot. The water is about 8 feet deep. Once we had explored the shore and beach, we returned to Zephyr.
The folks(parents and two teenage boys) on the other boat had settled in and jumped into the water to explore the shoreline where there are lots of fish. They took along their spear to catch some fish for bait for later fishing. After they returned to their boat, suddenly, on the horizon came a 40 foot catamaran from the Moorings Charter Company. They were coming in to join our group. They just knew there would be room for them in our little cove. Just after we dropped our anchor, the winds had started piping up and were now blowing in the high teens to low twenties from the head of the cove. The two of us were already swinging around our anchors quite nicely in the wind. In came the catamaran, passing in front of the other boat and pulling right in front of us--up wind!!! OH C--P!! Just what we didn't need. A Mooring boat right in front of us and up wind with the forecast for these 20+ knot winds to last the rest of the day. If their anchor slipped and dragged, they would come right back on us!! Tracy just stared at them. OK, glared would be a better call for what she gave them. I looked at the other boat(already at anchor) and remarked "Well, at least they have good insurance. They are normally amateurs at best" They asked if we thought that they were too close to us. Having anchored in the Pacific Northwest where people anchor close enough to you that you can spit on each others boats, they were fine even though 80 feet for down here is quite close. I assured them that they were just fine though we kept a close vigil on the positions of both of our boats and their relationship.
There were seven people on board the catamaran all lounging on decks with one person at the wheel. In they came and stopped right in front of us just as the wend had stopped. They didn't drop their anchor but just sat and stared at the cove trying to decide if they wanted to stay. Suddenly, a big gust of wind rips through the cove. They swung to the right with the man who had been at the wheel, rushing to get back to it. He had gone to the bow to see what they had under their boat. Once under control, he returned to the bow. Boom--along comes another big gust and they started swinging to the left and dropping back on us. OK, they had had enough and took off out of the cove and headed for the next cove North(Ensenada el Cardonal). Once they were gone, we had no more visitors. The winds continued till just about 2000 and then slowed up a good bit as the lands around us cooled in the evening once the Sun went down.
Tomorrow, off again to see another cove South of here, slowly making our way closer and closer to La Paz. The Marina Palmira confirmed our reservation this morning so we are all set to arrive day after tomorrow. Back to civilization!