12/26/2010, La Paz, Mexico
In the last post, I went into all the different things that we end up doing when we come into port or even when we are out at anchor, but it's not always work. Yesterday for example, we attended a Christmas part here at the marina along with 70 other cruisers that are in the marina. Lots of people brought family favorites and turkey and ham was provided. We even volunteered to cook one of the birds in our oven. OK, actually only half of a turkey as just about all of us have small ovens that couldn't hold a whole turkey. We took along bacon wrapped cheese as an appetizer for everyone. We sat with some new friends--Paul and Karen off Gigi, a couple of Australians. And some old friends--at 16 months, that's as old as you normally get with friends--George and Celeste off Nereid. They had journeyed down the coast of the US with us last year and we met up again here in La Paz.
The cruising life has been good for us as it has dragged us out of our hermit shells that we had been in for so long. We regularly sail into a new harbor or cove and meet up with folks on boats we have already met or meet new friends and have each other over for dinner or just drinks and snack in the cockpit.
While we don't normally take lots of time for sightseeing when we get into big towns, we meet some really great people and have seen things that we had only dreamed about while we lived in Colorado. Plus, it's a whole lot warmer here than it is home in Colorado and that is just fine with me. Tracy may like to shovel snow, but it's no where near the list of things I like to do so being down here where it's nice and warm is just fine.
So take what I say with a grain of salt. Yes, there is lots of tasks that need attention. Some important and some not so important. At least we have the ability to make the decision as to what we "want" to do and what we "must" do before setting off again and that is a great way to spend our lives out here.
So to all of you snug in your homes and beds, we're just sitting here in shorts and a tee shirt enjoying what ever life throws at us. That's not so bad, is it?
12/25/2010, La Paz, Mexico
It's been a while since our last post so let me catch you up on what has been going on.
We pulled into La Paz, Mexico on the 20th and tied up to a great dock at Marina Palmira. Of course, all the wind that we had planned to bring us South came from the South so we were forced to motor the whole way for the last 60 miles or so. No big waves, just a tad frustrating since we had hoped to continue the great sail we had from San Carlos to San Juanico earlier this month.
We pulled in with a long list of things that we needed to get done or things that needed to get ordered so our son could bring them down when he joins us in Puerto Vallarta next month.
Now most think our days are spent lounging around and having margaritas and chips while reading a book. Sorry, that's not how it goes. First we got checked in at the marina and started cleaning up poor Zephyr. We still had dirt all over her left over from out extended stay in San Carlos. We had engine repairs as well as many systems to check over to make sure they were back up to snuff. We wanted to tighten the steel cable that supports the front of the mast to the deck, but when we lifted and removed the roller furling gear(allow us to roll out the bog sail at the bow), we found that part of it has broken. Not sure when, but now we have to order more parts and hope that they will be in stock. Mail as well as parts delivery here in Mexico is spotty at best as to wether you will ever get what you order. I guess we will see if they have it in stock when i call the factory on Monday before we set out again.
The head(also know in the civilized world as a toilet)in the bow of Zephyr has been acting up. It stopped allowing me to flush it several week ago. I taken it apart and tried to fix the existing parts(heaven forbid I have a repair kit for it) all with no success. Once we got in here, we took the first available shuttle to Lopez Marine and got a full repair kit with all the valves and seals necessary to totally gut and rebuild it. In I went, screw drivers and wrenches in hand along with lots of paper towels. Out with the old and in with the new. Guess what??? It still didn't work!!! You flush it by pumping a handle up and down. Ours pumped once or twice and then you couldn't push it all the way to the bottom. Only thing left was the hose between the head and the black water storage tank. The next day, we headed back to Lopez Marine and got new hose. Hey, guess what?? The fitting on the back of the toilet was 1.5 inches while the one one the top of the tank was only 1.25. The hose fit one but was not about to make a good seal on the other end. I slathered on as much caulk as I could and cinched the hose down with three, yes that's right, three big hose clamps. I let the caulk set over night to make sure it was good and hard. Wednesday, I tried it again and boy, that caulk sure didn't do it's job. That poor hose leaked like it was, well, a hose. Off to town again in the shuttle to find some kind of shim or a 1.25" hose that I could fit over the existing pipe. Boy, the cruising life sure is fun!!! I finally found some vinyl strips at Home Depot(those guys are every where). I also remembered that I had brought a small chunk of hose back with me that just might fit it. When we got back to the boat, I tried the small chunk and it fit perfectly. It was exactly 1.25". Off with the old new hose and on with more caulk and then the small chunk of hose and back on with the new hose and more caulk. Again I had to wait till the next morning to give the caulk plenty of time to cure and so I climbed into the front locker while Tracy gave it a few good pumps and it was sealed!!! Apparently the old hose had layers of calcium build up over the many years of use by Zephyrs previous owners and had shrunk to less than half of it's normal diameter and with Zephyr getting laid up over the Summer, a chunk of that calcium had collapsed and blocked the hose. That was one job I was glad was over. taking out the old hose was LOTS of fun.
I finally got up the mast yesterday afternoon and got our radar reflector installed. The poor thing has hung from line on our mast ever since we left Newport Oregon many many months ago. Now, with the help of some stainless steel fabricators in San Carlos, I had the brackets to do the job right. Tracy used our supper duper drill with the winch and up the mast I went. Out came the drill--attached to a special line so I wouldn't drop it --and an hour later, the holes were drilled and the bracket attached and the job was done. Of course we waited to do the job until there was a nice wind to blow me around as I dangled from our main halyard 40 feet about ground but that all part of the fun of the cruising lifestyle don't you know.
There were lots more things we did, but I've ranted long enough. I hope all of you had a Merry Christmas and will have a great New Year. Keep on checking the blog. There's lots more rants coming.
12/16/2010, Caleta Partida--east side.
Mother Natures playing jokes on us again. It's just about unheard of for there to be South winds in the Sea of Cortez this time of years but we have them in spades. They started a days ago a we neared Isla San Francisco and have been going ever since. We changed anchorage in San Francisco to avoid them and it worked until we upped the anchor yesterday morning and headed out for Ensenada Grande on Isla Partida. While only 17 miles distant, we had to sail 30 miles to get there as there was no easy route to get there except to go back and forth across the waterway tacking over and over until w pulled in and dropped the anchor(24 33.500N 110 23.868W). The wind was still flowing into the anchorage make where we were on a "lee" shore. That's something you try and avoid because it means that the stern of your boat faces the shore so if your anchor drags, you could be in a world of hurt fast. With the winds in the high teens to low 20 knot range, I set myself up for a night watch "sleeping" in the main salon close to the companionway so that if the drag alarm(goes off if the GPS says the boat has moved) goes off, I can get on deck asap. It sounded at 0115--wind change made our position change and again at 0145 when it changed back. Other than that, it was an uneventful night.
With that being said, we opted to not say a second night as the forecast was for the same and instead, headed for the East side of Isla Partida and the backside of a nice cove called Caleta Patida where we dropped the anchor(24 32.122N 110 21.764W) We had the place to ourselves as we watch several boats on the West side of the island get blown all over the place. We had the wind, but not the swell so we were sitting as pretty as you please. About 30 minutes later, a big power boat(Serenity) showed up. We'd anchored a night at San Francisco just a few days ago. So here we sit and here we wait for the next weather forecast to tell us where we may be heading tomorrow. We'll let you know when we get there.
12/13/2010, Isla Colorado
We upped the anchor this morning ready for a nice sail South. Instead, the wind started coming from the South making sailing that way impossible. So on went the engine and off we went. We decided to stop at Punta Salinas(24 54.856N 110 37.703W) on Isla San Jose just a few miles South of Mangle Solo where we had sent the night. Punta Salinas is the sight of an old salt mine that closed down years ago. Sorry, no pictures as I'll be posting this on our SSB radio. We pulled in about 11:30 and got Puff and Dragon in the water before breaking for lunch of curried chicken on crackers. We may be out cruising, but we still enjoy our food.
Once done, we headed ashore for some exploring. Surprisingly we saw numerous sets of foot prints as we came ashore. While we know it gets written up in the tour books, many places like this get passed by as it's closer to more of a main stop like San Evaristo and Isla San Francisco. Several abandoned buildings and lots of discarded pieces of machinery dotted the landscape with numerous pools full of seawater and salt crystals. While it may have been shut down, Mother Nature still makes the seawater evaporate and the salt get left behind. I'll post the pictures when we get to La Paz in a few days.
We returned to Zephyr and set out for Isla San Francisco. An island with a great harbor made for exploring. We spent several days here months ago and are glad to be back. We dropped the anchor shortly after 1500(24 49.300N 110 34.308W) amongst three other boats. One from National Geographic--the Sunbird. Full of lots of tourists and crew. They had taken over the beach for an afternoon of swimming(water at 75 degrees) and kayaking. They are now having a nice dinner party ashore with drinks and more. We expect them to be gone if not tonight, early tomorrow morning.
So here we sit, the wind has now died and we are safely at anchor and will probably spent the next day of so here hiking, exploring and of course fixing things on Zephyr.
Next stop, Ensenada Grande.
12/12/2010, Mangle Solo
We upped the anchor and set out just after 0900 for a run to Mangle Solo(25 01.756N 110 42.300W), a seldom used anchorage on the West side of Isla San Jose. As we were preparing to set out, we got a radio call from Karen and Paul on Gigi. W'd met up with them at San Juanico and had expected them to join us in Los Gatos as they had at Agua Verde. Instead, they stopped and spent he night at the anchorage just North of us--Punta San Telmo. A little wide spot on the way South. They had already set out and were a good hour ahead of us on their way to San Evaristo, a snug harbor about miles South of Mangle Solo. With the rollie seas and no wind, we were both forced to use our engines again. While no Northers had been forecasted, afternoons are full of good wind, but leaving to enjoy them can make you arrive at your next destination late in the day after the Sun has gone down.
So off we went, engine purring nicely. Twenty three miles later, we pulled in just as the winds were beginning to develop. We're now sitting in 17 to 20 knot winds completely protected from the rolling waves of the sea by a nice large headland off our bow. As the anchor went down in 20 feet, Zephyr began to fall back and with 10 feet of chain out, she buried her anchor fast and deep. Zephyr's bow swung around into the wind as the anchor grabbed below us. It was one of the fastest I have ever seen our anchor set without Tracy having to put us in reverse. On went the snubber(length of heavy gauge three strand nylon line with a hook on it to hold the chain) and we were set. Now the wind can blow and make our wind generator do it's job and we can sit nice and comfortable and let the day pass. So far, we haven't seen another boat--not while out coming South or since we have been at anchor.
Tomorrow, off for Bahia Amortajada, just 12 miles South of here. I think we will wait till the wind starts so we can have some fun with the spinnaker. It's been a while since we flew her and heck, adrenaline is good for us. Meanwhile, we sit and read as the job I had scheduled to do(attach a preventer line to the boom--keeps the boom from flying across the deck if the wind changes) will just have to wait till the wind lessens.
More to come.
12/11/2010, Los Gatos
As Tracy and I sat in the cockpit this morning we had to think as to what day it was. We really weren't sure what it was. The day of the week loses it's importance when the life of a cruiser normally revolves around what the weather is, not so much what day it is. We have come to the realization that knowing what day it is is no longer really of import. Now if we were back in civilization, that is another matter but sitting here on the hook, it really doesn't.
We upped the anchor yesterday about 0830 and took off from Aqua Verde, a pretty little anchorage that is quite popular with cruisers since it offers protection from the wind if it comes from the North or from the South. You just drop your anchor in different spots. With 6 boats in the West section of the harbor, we were well protected from North winds. Two other boats were forced to anchor in the East cove since our cove was full. As soon at a boat left our little cove, one of them upped their anchor and headed into our cove for more protection. Some of the guide books tell of Maria's Tienda(little store) in Agua Verde. I'm sad to report that it appears to now be closed. There's a sign on the door about it, but with our meager Spanish, we couldn't read all of it.
Far Fetched, a Beneteau 45 upped their anchor and took off 15 minutes before us. We were both headed for Los Gatos about 18 miles down the coast. They decided to go outside a reef that lies a bit off shore while we took a shortcut between the reef and shore. We had passed the same way on our way North months ago. With us taking a short cut, we arrived at our destination about 30 minutes before them and grabbed a nice place to anchor. Since we were the first and only boat in here, it was wide open to us. Down went the anchor and we were set. Steve and Andrea on Far Fetched arrived about 30 minutes later and anchored a bit South of us.
During the afternoon, we lowered Puff and Dragon into the water and took off for the South shore to look for geodes that are supposed to be located there. We found a few, but they were still well attached to their surrounding rocks so they stayed put. With out a hammer, they were not going anywhere. Getting off the beach, we got nice and drenched--hey, another shower. That's two days in a row!! Steve came over just after 1600 and invited us over for wine and conversation so 30 minutes later we joined them on their boat. We swapped lots of stories before returning to Zephyr for a nice dinner of barbecued Arrachera and corn. A few TV shows(off dvd's) off to bed.
We're going to stay one more day here to explore farther South along the shoreline. If there is a loose geode that wants a long distance journey and is willing to come along, it will find us. Meanwhile, the weather is beautiful and not a cloud in the sky and the high is to be about 80. It doesn't get much better than that. We even got or reservation confirmed for our stay in La Paz for a short stop before heading back to the mainland and Puerto Vallarta.