02/16/2012, San Francisco Bay / Tahoe City
While this was something we had wanted to do for a long time, check off our "bucket list" if you will, we won't be doing it again. Sure, we'll cruise to Southern California and the islands there, maybe to Ensenada, but we probably won't take the boat that far away from home again. We'll still fly to somewhere, rent a boat and cruise there. But it is a long way home and not really our thing. I am a home body and enjoy my daily walks or skis or biking. Don't get me wrong, going from one beautiful desert anchorage to another and walking on the beach or into town was pretty great.....but you sit a lot along the way.
Advice? If you go, plan to be gone for the entire Mexico cruising season. From Cabo, go directly to Mazatlan and south as far as time allows, then head back into the Sea of Cortez when the weather is warm. It was an early winter and the weather cooled way sooner than it usually does, making snorkeling and shorts/t-shirt sailing not real comfortable. Return to the states in the spring, before hurricane season.
Close up shop.....I mean, everything! We had too many responsibilities that were supposed to continue along as they always had, but as he has a way of doing, Murphy showed up and our tenants moved out, our heater broke and we suddenly had stress in our life again. Stress has no business on a cruise. The happiest cruisers were the ones who had sold their homes and put treasures in storage, with plans to buy a new home when they return. Some cruisers had children living in their houses and paying their bills, taking care of business. I downsized my client load prior to this trip, and the remaining clients responsibilities were no problem at all. But I did have to return to do year-end filings for them rather than stay with the boat and bash north. Sabbatical would be better if at all possible....
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
The Good: What an adventure! Since we had been harbor hopping up from San Diego in 2008 when we bought the boat, we had an inkling of what fun that would be again. We loved pulling into a marina, meeting new people and catching up with old friends and family who lived nearby. We didn't get much of a chance to just hang out in the places we liked, since we were on a schedule to meet up with the Baja HaHa people. During the Baja HaHa, and at the marinas, we met some of the nicest people who are still cruising in Mexico and beyond, and we still follow their blogs and keep touch via email with some of them. We saw some amazing things! Hundreds of dolphins, leaping rays, breeching whales, huge Tuna, fabulous sunsets and clouds formations, moonlit remote coves on remote islands, and of course Mexican traditions and daily life.
The Bad: While no one really likes to talk about it in the cruising books, we saw some horrible living conditions endured by the Mexican people. There are people eeking out an existence in the sagebrush desert, living in plywood homes with no power etc. You see them along the highways sprouting up in a "cleared" patch of desert, in the outskirts of towns (or sometimes in what used to be the outskirts and now would be a barrio neighborhood), and along the shorelines. Some places have their own schools, some are close to the public bus route, all have churches and some even have a satellite dish or two. And then there are the "fish camps" where the men, and sometimes families stay while pulling in the fish to sell at market. These are even more primitive "lean to" housing, and all have churches and some have satellite dishes. In the cruise books, these are all called "the color of Mexico" "Quaint" "Historic". I guess you can put a good spin on anything. For sure, they are all making the best of their circumstance and birthright and I'm sure they are as happy in their families and faith as we are in this country. For me, it was difficult to process the "circumstance". What they don't tell you in the cruise books is that the cruise ship areas and the high-rise hotel areas are clean and sanitized for the tourists who bring in the pesos, the rest is not. Because the towns just evolved, there is not really a "business district" and someone's home might be right next to an auto-repair-junk-yard business. Not the "Quaint" I had in mind.....
The Ugly: There wasn't really any ugly, (it just sounded good in the title..) except for when we had to pull up the anchor in 4 ft waves at 9 pm and travel all night through wind and waves with no sleep or shower for 24+ hours.....now that was ugly! Probably that section from Pt Conception to Pt Arguello would also qualify as ugly....but I wasn't there. Whew!
Things to we couldn't live without:
Soda Stream soda drink maker.
We didn't have one, but the beer machine is also recommended.
Bread machine with all of your bread mixes. You can't get mixes elsewhere.
Your absolute favorites treats...our Canadian friends yearned for Smarties, only available in Canada or specialty stores catering to them, so guess what every Canadian visitor brought them?
Large bottle/box of detergent for clothes washing.
Full Enclosure for cockpit...oh yes, you nay-sayers! Best investment!
Wifi extender so you don't have to go to the office or cantina.
Spares - we took them all, didn't use a one, but slept better for it!
Holiday cards - buy your birthday cards at home and mail early. You can't find cards and the mail is slow...usually hand carried to the states by someone who is flying out and drops them in a mailbox.
Holiday treats make you happy! - lights, cookies, little tree-like thing to decorate.. Halloween candy to spread the joy to city kids and panga drivers.
Don't Bring:Movie and Music DVDs - download them to an external drive. Saves a lot of space!
A bunch of jerry cans unless you know you'll be out of range - we picked up $5 fuel cans at Home Depot in La Paz that worked just fine for the Bash and saved $35/can. We had a couple of good ones loaned to us, that served us well on the way down, but we didn't need them any other time, were able to pick up the cheapies at the last minute at Home Depot, and didn't travel around with cans lashed to our deck.
Too many clothes/ towels/ sheets/rags....there are lavanderias everywhere! We especially liked the kind that pick up, fold and deliver!
Responsibilities.....leave them at home and you'll have a delightful adventure!
02/13/2012, Richmond Yacht Club
Sail to Mexico.......Check!
The last leg of the trip was one of the worst. It began mildly enough in Santa Barbara until the wind started to build after rounding Pt. Conception and they had to endure the wind and waves until around midnight. The forecast called for the conditions to subside as the days went on and I guess they did, a little. "Subside" is a relative term, by the way. But, determined to "get this thing over with" they powered for two days until they came under the Gate about 4 am and into the new slip at RYC around 5 am or so. I got there about 6 am with balloons, champagne, sweets and the cheeriest face I could muster at O-dark-o'clock! Their timing really put a damper in my "Welcome Home" celebration....but I don't think it would have been much of a celebration by the looks of them....bedraggled, tired, kinda stinky and a pretty chaotic scene in the cabins evidenced a rough ride.
Now the excavation begins......we will spend the next few weeks removing everything from the boat and giving her a "stem to stern" bath inside and out. She's even got a gross "bathtub ring" from the crude oil that seeps up from the sea floor in Santa Barbara area. We spent a few hours that morning removing soft goods for transport home for endless wash/dry loads and washing the salt off the deck, dodger, hatch covers, sails and rigging and coffee spills etc out of the cockpit before the 3 hour drive to the Tahoe. ( Paul was still moving, but at least not rockin and rolling and slamming into waves !!!) It took another weekend to complete clear out the nooks and crannies and Clorox the surfaces.
So we're finally safely ensconced by the cozy fireplace in the mountains, sleeping in a king bed that doesn't move and enjoying all the foods and drinks that we whined about missing while in Mexico! (Diet starts tomorrow....) Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh.......
Relatives can relax, Ashleigh has been on emergency phone duty from our EPIRB; neighbors can relax, Mike has been on "bear watch" and feeding our clown fish; no more boxes of mail for Memory to cull through; and we can catch up with our friends again! (Sorry about not staying in touch! Messages came in late or not at all in some cases!!) Wind Spirit gets a much deserved rest and the "spa treatment" she'll be getting in the near future should do well to rebuild our Boat-Karma points with her.
01/31/2012, Santa Barbara
Bali Hai Buddy
The End is Near! The final stop is Santa Barbara, visiting friends and relatives, lunch and dinner in real USA restaurants and (hopefully) cleaning up the boat, stowing things that will fly across the cabin, for the final sprint to San Francisco. ( Yea, sprint..)
I guess the plan is to wait for the big weather to pass and leave for Cojo Anchorage on Thursday morning early, and if they peek their nose around the corner and its not too bad, they'll just keep going all the way to the Bay. It should take a couple of days and they expect to be at Richmond Yacht Club by Saturday evening.
And, there's no hiding anymore, the AIS tracking is working again now that they're in the States. You can watch them on marinetraffic.com and search for the boat name. I've posted a few pictures from the Bash north from Cabo San Lucas to Santa Barbara, so check out the gallery.....notice how low the sun is in the sky this time! It's not THAT warm without that overhead sunshine, I guess!
01/30/2012, Me, Tahoe....Them, San Diego-ish
On a mission to get this OVER WITH , the three sailateers are heading north again! After a day to regroup in San Diego, make a stop at Red Sails and Bali Hai, they left at dawn and are motoring north with purpose! (porpoise?). The plan is to head directly to Santa Barbara, top off the fuel tanks and head to Cojo Anchorage to wait for the next weather window to burn-baby-burn to San Francisco Bay. Hopefully they'll be in the new slip at Richmond Yacht Club by Saturday or Sunday. YAY!
If Paul's been taking any pictures, he hasn't sent them to me, and it sounds like its been animal-house-chaos on the boat anyway during these 2 day overnighters.....probably better I decided not go join them.... But, hey, that's what a Bash is..right?
Well, I've returned to Tahoe and we are finally getting some snow!
Paul, Tim and Suzy left about noon on Monday, January 16 from the marina in Cabo San Lucas. Boy was it strange watching my boat motor out of the marina without me!! Tim said the weather looked good for the week, 10-15k of wind, so they took off right away. The problem with weather forecasters is that you can always see how good they were after the fact....lets hope he was right on and they're having a mild trip.
I heard that they would be sending position reports via the single side band radio...but I haven't received any....so I can't tell you anything more than that.
I'll update you when I hear from them, probably from Turtle Bay in the next day or so.
UPDATE: They made it into Turtle Bay at 9 am this morning. They're reviewing the weather to decide when to leave for Ensenada....more later!
01/18/2012, Cabo San Lucas
They call it "The Bash" because you're traveling North West and the wind, waves and current are normally coming from the North West....(ie no sailing, motoring all the way). If you can afford to wait for the "weather window" where the aforementioned wind, waves and current are at their smallest, you can have a relatively comfortable trip north and motor up the coast of Baja quick-like-a-bunny to safe harbor (at 6 knots/hr = 5 mph). There are a couple of bays or outcroppings along the way in which you can hide should the weather kick up, but those bays are mostly farther up the Baja peninsula and so first leg will be a long one. Wind Spirit carries 100 gallons of diesel, and we have a couple of jerry cans totaling about 30 gal saved for emergency fill ups, but that won't be enough to make it to San Diego. Fuel is available in Magdalena Bay, but you have to go in quite a ways into the large bay to get it, spend the night, come all the way out thereby adding more time to your trip. Depending on the "window", they're going to try to go all the way to Turtle Bay on the first leg, fuel consumption and weather permitting.
"They" are Paul, Tim and fellow delivery crew Suzy. I have to miss this part of the adventure and fly home to work since there is no internet connectivity until San Diego. They will be sending me position reports via Single Sideband Radio and I'll update the position on the blog so you can follow their progress too. With any luck, it will be an uneventful, glassy motor over well spaced rolling swells all the way up to San Diego.....hey, it happens! Or, they may have to hole-up somewhere waiting for the glassy water......