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First time for everything
Judy, and it is sunny
12/10/2010, La Cruz, Banderas Bay

All we've been hearing is how bad the weather is back home, rain, sleet and snow! I feel a bit guilty because Torben and I just finished eating breakfast out in the cockpit. We were discussing what Torben should wear for his trip back to the Bay Area for the next few days. We decided it probably would be a good idea to wear long pants and shoes!

Some how as we progress south the trip gets even better. We are finding ourselves doing things that we would never do at home. Like looking down the mouth of a live crocodile or putting our heads into the barrel of a cannon. We even slept in twin beds! (Too bad I couldn't remember where I stored those high heel shoes!)

After leaving Mazatlan, we headed for San Blas and decided to anchor in Mantanchen Bay to avoid the bugs that San Blas is famous for. Being bug phobic, I duct taped our Lewmar screens to all the hatches and opening ports only to find after a few hours they fell down! The only screen we had was for the companion way and that was because Torben customized a screen door before we left. That was good, but it would have helped if Torben would have tested to see if it fit! "Don't worry" he tells me,"I have a tool!" Torben has a tool? Now I am worried. He pulls out a dremel tool and proceeded to grind down the sides. It made a mess but fit perfectly! As for the rest of the hatches, I crawled back into the abyss and found my old screens I sewed for the boat for our delta excursions. Thank God Torben didn't find them earlier; he would have thrown them out!

As for the crocodiles, we really did see them in the wild on our jungle tour! It was pretty cool. We rode in a panga through the mangrove trees and over grown bamboo. Birds were every where. We were looking down at the water level for crocodiles when all of a sudden this thing came dropping out of the tree above us. It was an iguana! He hit the water, swam over to a log where he posed for a picture! No lie! Torben and I got the feeling that this was like a Disney ride and it was all staged. It was that incredible. The tour took us to a crocodile refuge, where we got out and could get up close without the fear of being eaten. Even so, it felt a bit risky having only a rusted chain linked fence between you and the crocodiles!

Our other adventure in Mantanchen Bay was taking a $15 cab ride to La Contaduria which is a Spanish fort that was built in 1768. It was located high up on a hill, and was equipped with multiple cannons. What was odd was that the cannons were used to fight off pirates but the fort was located a least a half a mile away from the shore line. It was like the range of the cannons was an after thought...The town of San Blas smelled of smoked fish and fresh tortillas. Kids played in the dirt streets and colorful laundry hung in the front yards. There were two Catholic churches in the town square, one was Father Junipero Serra's first mission. It was also the church where Henry Longfellow wrote "The Bells of San Blas".

Weighing anchor the next day, we sailed 22 miles to Chacala which was a small town right on the beach. Being the small world that it is, Torben knew Mattie and Alan Kerr from Brickyard Cove Marina who has a home in Chacala. We met up, and after several glasses of wine on Tivoli, they offered us dinner at their place and a non moving bed! We jumped on the invitation and found ourselves in a very elegant hacienda with a spectacular view of the ocean. It was really nice having a touch of civization like not having to wear my shower shoes in the shower kind of civilization! It was great to see Mattie and Alan again especially out of context in this small little beach town in Mexico!

OK, I got to go. Torben is rushing me to get this posted before he leaves. His bus leaves in 30 minutes for the Puerto Vallarta airport!

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12/10/2010 | P & P
Don't feel guilty, you're living the dream! We'll all be warm again sometime..another log on the fire and a hot toddy. We love the pics, lets us "be" there. I'll never look at a dinghy ride thru the Delta the same again...and Tiki is everywhere!
Miss you both, P&P
12/12/2010 | Ida Abelson
Just got an update from Torben. Sounds like you all are terrific, especially Ricky! So happy for you all. Robert and I read the blog with great interest. I especially like the parts when something breaks down. Helps me keep Robert on dry land :)
12/13/2010 | John
Isn't it interesting how we compare real life to Disneyland instead of the other way around. What a grand adventure you are having. BTW...So I was not dreaming when I saw your car driving through RYC with a driver looking alot like Torben.
The most excotic Bay yet
12/08/2010, Chacale

Judy is working on the real story, but this was a most beautiful spot.
According to the chart on the plotter we were anchored about 375 yards inland!
And as always, remember to dress for success.......

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San Blas
12/04/2010, Matenchen Bay

Yes, sailing is the most relaxing!
We took 21 hours from the time we finally got the keel out of the mud at the fuel dock (we were aground for a little over two hours) until we got the anchor down in Mantanchen Bay off San Blas at 11:30 Saturday morning.
And did we see any fishing boats? Yep, we sailed with a poled out jib and reefed main through about 40 - 50 boats with all kind of lights, darting in one direction or another.
With all these fishing boats you would think there would be fish, but we got skunked again, even though we finally made up the lucky lure we were given in Mag Bay and dragged it for hours!

This morning we are getting ready to do a panga jungle tour and explore nearby San Blas.
Those of you who did my Commodores cruise to Angel Island a couple of years ago will remember me talking about the Spanish vessel 'San Carlos', which was the first ship to explore San Francisco Bay under the command of Capt' Ayala. It spend the summer in at Angel island in Ayala Cove. San Carlos was build at the naval base here in San Blas.

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12/04/2010 | jeffrey martin
Sue and I are in Santa Cruz and miss you guys. Raining here but it sounds like you guys are having a great time. Nice looking turkey too. Do,nt sip too much Tequilla. See you in February.
St. Martin
12/04/2010 | Gary Troxel
Torbie, make sure you have the lucky lure at least two wave sets behind the boat and slow the boat down to TIKI speed :)

Nice sunset! Cheers G&K
12/04/2010 | Brian Boschma
The sunset photo + fishing boat is very inviting. Where did you find a Turkey ? Sitting in the rain watching your progress.
12/06/2010 | ann perez
May I say how impressed I am that you pulled off a turkey dinner for 8 on board a boat! OMG--that is an accomplishment on land in a full kitchen! Geesh, are making us look bad...!

Shoveling snow this weekend at Donner and thinking of you. Skiing will be fantastic this year--sorry you will miss it!

Love, love, love the pictures--keep them coming!


Sailing is the most relaxing
12/02/2010, Mazatlan

There is a big difference in the pace on anchor, under way and in port.

By far the most relaxed is when under way. All you need to do is a little bit of navigation, trim, steer, watch the autopilot, eat, make watermaker water, sleep, read, watch the stars and wild life and keep an eye out for the occasional fishing boat trying to swallow you up in his nets.

Second most relaxing are the anchorages. Just make sure the anchor is set properly, pump up the dinghy, mount a 90 Lbs motor on a dink that is moving all over the place, swim, visit, take long beach walks after almost flipping the dink in the surf, monitor energy consumption and adjust the solar panels, wash the boat in 1 gallon of water, fix the 2 lines that had chafe from the last trip, bend a stanchion when the dinghy blows out of control hoisting it on deck in 28 knots of breeze,have a cocktail, host 8 folks for Thanksgiving Turkey......

Judy had - during our shopping in La Paz - gotten a 12 Lb. bird, had studied every minute detail in Bon Appetit on Turkey Brining in a icebox that also had the cold beer in it. She also measured the dimensions of our oven and determined that the Turkey would fit just fine if we took the heating plate out and slept with the Turkey under our mattress for a night to flatten it out. So Lynn, Howard, Wolf and Judy from Swift Current and Wendy and Mark from Wendaway came over for a fine dining experience that included mushroom sage stuffing, gravy, green beans with lemon and toasted walnuts, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce. She also found time to actually bake a pumpkin pie that almost got tossed overboard twice, as it is not easy to contain the pumpkin filling when the boat is rocking back and forth - did I mention it was blowing 25 - 30 knots in the anchorage and there was a pretty interesting motion going on. A fine feast it was, with the guests bringing plenty of wine, delicious appetizers, spiked Margarita and fine sipping tequila.

After recuperating for a day we left for Mazatlan at 03:30 at the end of the gale that had been blowing for the last 48 hours - We left early so we could take advantage of the wind that was forecast to die within 12 - 16 hours, and actually made it most of the way on a glorious sail before having to resort to motoring for the last few hours before putting the anchor down at 01:30 the next night outside of Mazatlan harbor...yes, the sailing is the most relaxing part of cruising!

In port is the most strenuous part of the trip.
First you have to wash the boat to try and get the layers of salt off EVERYTHING, vacuum, lubricate, get rid of the trash, check in with harbormasters, find the showers, find out what bus takes you downtown, figure out where to fill the propane tank, wash the boat to get some more salt off, and plan what sightseeing needs to be done and also what shopping is needed.

For Mazatlan all we needed for shopping was a big set of pliers and a little bit of food.
We have now been here 5 days, have taken about 8 or 10 bus rides ( the bus system is great ), been in 4 different taxi's, and walked about 15 Miles after taking the wrong busses and trying to backtrack! Still haven't found the particular wrench, though.

What we did find was a place that was close to heaven for Judy. She recently got a Rick Bayless Mexico cookbook, so armed with a number of recipes and a 4 page sheet of Spanish/English translations for food items we went to the Municipal market. Here you can buy every thinkable part of meat, veggies in every form shape and color, cheeses, spices, fish, you name it, they probably have it. So after about 28 hours of non stop poking, negotiating, evaluating, tasting, sipping etc, we finally piled into a cab to get back to the boat for a most delicious meal. Next morning the shopping continued, this time at the back end of a pick up truck in the harbor parking lot for eggs and limes, and the trunk of a 1991 Toyota Corolla for fresh shrimp!

We are now ready to relax again, so later today we are off for San Blas, some 130 NM relaxing it will be just to stay up all night, avoiding those fishing nets.......

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12/02/2010 | John
T & J,
Your posts get better and better. Thanks for continuing them. And the pics are great too. Never mind all that meat in teh shopping about all that (apparently) bird poop on the awning just over the meat counter. Yikes.

Have Fun,
12/02/2010 | Gary Troxel
poor chicken feet. Hope they take the heads off first.. good to see super chicken is doing well. We got our tickets and pretty good deal. I see a book in the works. Cheers G
11/24/2010, On our way to Los Frailes

I know everyone is getting ready for Thanksgiving and so I will deviate from our regular blog entry format to share with you some highlights of what it's really like cruising. Some may seem like common sense to you, but you're talking about two people who get confused on how many days have passed, let alone something complicated like what day of the week it is! So at the risk of sounding stupid here it goes.

• When your GPS won't give you a fix try turning on your auto pilot first then turn on your GPS. Why? Ask Torben he has a theory that's sort of believable.

• Buy a good compact vacuum cleaner with hose attachment. It's great for picking up those cookie crumbs and other unidentifiable items that accumulate on the cabin sole. We also use it to pump up the dingy and defrost the icebox. (Make the investment for an inverter.)

• Fill buckets of fresh water when getting fuel. The salt build up is unbelievable. I use the water and some vinegar to wipe down the varnish and stainless steel. Once I wiped down all the topsides with one bucket of water! Torben said I was being a Troxel!

• If you don't want to be called a borracho in Spanish, which means drunk, don't trip going UP the stairs in a restaurant!

• When experiencing the turista, don't make any assumptions when farting. If you do make assumptions, be sure to tie your shorts with a secure knot before attempting to rinse them over board. Good Bye Tommy Bahama shorts!

• Always where tennis shoes and underwear when going on long walks.

• When a skipper tells you to be careful when stepping off his boat because the step can collapse, believe him! I took a nice tumble on to the cement dock yesterday. Torben said it sounded like a slab of beef being thrown on a counter. Today I'm feeling more like a piece of raw beef that's been eaten and sh.... over a cliff!

• When Jim Bewley says that La Paz has the most beautiful anchorages you better believe him! The La Paz cruising ground was incredible. The anchorages off Espiritu Santo were so beautiful. We found one spot that was actually on the most southern tip of Isla Partida that had maybe room for one or two boats. I didn't want to go there because none of our cruising guides showed a little anchor in the cove. As you can imagine this was cause for a lively debate but we went in anyway. Don't worry, nothing bad happened. It ended up being our favorite spot yet.

• When checking in with the harbor master, and she asks for your documents and visas, don't pull out your charge card. Dumb gringo!

• Remember it pays not to change your hairstyle! I was desperate to have some socialization so I resorted to taking pictures of some boats that were anchored around us while the owners were off cocktailing somewhere else. I couldn't stand not being included, so after I took these pictures, I burned them on a CD. The next morning I rowed over and gave them the pictures and introduced myself. It worked like a charm. That evening we were invited over for a dinner party. It ended up the skipper recognized me from teaching his daughter Jr. Sailing at RYC twelve years ago! (Good old faithful pony tail!)

• And finally, when your neighbor gives you the recipe for sour dough starter and you decide to try it, don't leave it and expect it to still be in the bowl when you get back. Like a fifth grade science experiment, it exploded in the galley, shooting off the rubber band and cheesecloth and splattering a gooey mess in every nook and cranny. (That's how we ended up finding the Artisian bakery in town) I think buying bread is always a good thing!

To think all this happened while in La Paz, for how many days again?

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11/24/2010 | Ann Perez
On a morning so thick with frost, it looked like it had snowed, it was delightful to read your post! The high temp at home today will be 42 degrees, but is not stopping us from provisioning up for the BYC Turkey Cruise. We will take all your advice to heart--Benicia or La Paz, some things are good to know regardless of the climate at the marina. It is likely to be a record cold trip this year. We will all raise a hot toddy to you as we remember all the people we are thankful for!
11/24/2010 | Jim & Deb

We've made it to Zihuatanejo!! Not what I was hoping for. Way too developed, complete with Cruise Ship anchored in the middle of a relatively small bay. So....where is your secret spot, we want to go find it tomorrow!!

11/25/2010 | John
11/26/2010 | Glen and Cindy
Happy Thanksgiving to you guys.

good news I am working again one step closer to your birthday party.

Love you Both lots
11/27/2010 | Gary Troxel
great pictures and great to see the muffin smile on Torbie. The water looks so inviting, you guys must swim daily? Ok so an inverter for the vacuum is a must. Man does your boat look clean and that picture of the 1955 housewife is funny... we are at BYC with 40 plus cruisers wishing you guys were HERE. If I can find some what to project your blog at the club tonight i will do it so everyone can see how much FUN cruising can be.. :) Cheers LHK G&K
12/01/2010 | Betty
J and T,
Love reading your blog. Cruising agrees with you! FYI We are freezing today and I have to go to swim practice in 35 degree temperatures! It is so cold you can leave the chardonnay out to chill it! Sending lots of love!
12/02/2010 | Flo russell
Too funny, you two! What fun! Love the shopping and cooking. I'm going to try mole for our spanish class review. You get extra credit, even tho Mike and I don't get a grade.

sounds like you're having a good time. Judy, Tammy's mom's cancer is growing, less than a centimeter, but yesterday she had the first of 8 treatments, 8 hours of Iv. You were counseling Mary Sandmann at Becky's wedding, so thought you should know.

Have fun, you crazy pair.

Cabo to Espritu Santo
11/17/2010, Bahia Balandra

We got to Cabo San Lucas at 9:45 in the morning of 11/9 and anchored off the beach - quite the difference from the last 2 weeks of quiet time. Panga's, jet ski's, 3 bar's playing loud music, a cruise ship shuttling passengers to port but........surprisingly few boats in the anchorage. Seems like just about all the Baja Ha Ha boats moved on.
Highlights from Cabo included a pretty nice dinner out at Mi Casa with the Gregory's, doing 3 big loads of laundry at the posh marina, getting some provisions at the grocery store, being back in internet range and being happy all of Mexico is not like Cabo! It is as expensive as home, a slip in the Marina going for $ 150 a night and someone trying to sell you something every step you take. The one good thing was that the water temperature finally climbed over 76 F and swimming became part of the daily routine.

After 2 days we snug into the Marina, filled up on fuel and gave the boat a quick freshwater hose down and moved on.

Next stop was Los Frailes anchorage up the Sea of Cortez. We definitely caught up the the Baja fleet here as the anchorage was packed with some 25 - 30 boats! Next day saw us beating North into 18 knots of breeze and steep chop for a good many hours until getting to the beautiful anchorage of Muertos. Ran into Rocinante, a First 42 I sold during the summer, and met up with Bob and Julie for dinner at the little beachside restaurant. Did a long beach walk and crashed some very fancy resort and almost made it into their pool before they politely asked if they could help us find the exit?

Next stop the Island of Espritu Santo, where we found a very private anchorage "El Cardoncito" - steep cliffs, turquoise water and pure bliss.

Judy has had some withdrawal's from adjusting little knobs on ultrasound equipment, but now seems to have found a substitute. On an average day she will do about 3 GB of photo's on our new camera! She actually read through all 150 pages in the manual and have been taking pictures and movies on every setting imaginable to man. Her trained eye does not allow the horizon to be anything less than horizontal.

We are now at Balandra Bay close to La Paz......and will probably go there within the next 1 or 2 days to re-provision.

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11/17/2010 | ann perez
Now you're talking! Getting away from the tourista areas and in to some truly cool Mexican anchorages! Let us know the great places to visit/eat/enjoy!
We miss you, but then again, we are sooooo jealous! Let me know if you want to trade places for a week!
11/17/2010 | Gary Troxel
looks like a great anchorage and that Tiki Bar is now a way point on my chart plotter! Cheers G
11/23/2010 | John Nebilak
You guys are killing me here with that last group of pics (Nov.23). It has been raining for most of the past four days and I almost had snow at my house in auburn. But keep sending the pics, they are great.

Judy, the boat looks fabulous. If you need some varnish moto is - have brush, will travel.
11/23/2010 | Aaron
Hey guys! It's looking like you're having the adventure of a lifetime...thanks for blogging, I enjoy living vicariously through you!

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