Seizing the Wind

30 March 2018
23 March 2018 | San Blas
16 March 2018 | La Cruz
15 February 2018
10 February 2018
06 February 2018 | La Paz
01 February 2018 | La Paz
31 December 2017
31 December 2017 | La Paz - Fonatur Marina
14 December 2017 | Isla Espiritu del Santo
23 November 2017 | La Paz
17 November 2017 | La Paz
16 November 2017 | La Paz
06 November 2017 | Cabo San Lucas
24 October 2017 | Bahai Tortuga
24 October 2017 | Bahai Tortuga
24 October 2017 | San Quentin
14 October 2017 | San diego
08 October 2017 | Santa Cruz Island

Isla isabella Bliss

30 March 2018
Isla Isabella Bliss

10 hours of motoring in calm seas finds me anchored at Isla Isabella for a 2nd time this season. I caught 3 dorado on the way up but only landed one.

The next 48 hours are some of the most exciting of my entire voyage. First up, a long swim and snorkel around the Los Monas rocks. That’s like going to the Vancouver Aquarium and getting to jump in one of the tropical tanks! On the swim back, I stopped on the transom of Aloha and talked some with Mike and Lelula from California (the boat is registered in Hawaii). Several turtles swim by as we chat. Then some boats chores (there is always boat chores) and a nap. A beautiful sunset tops off the day and a dark starry night is a great finish.

The next day, I kayak to shore to meet up with the blue footed boobies now complete with baby chicks. Dozens of white fluffy things all nestled in with their parents, yearning for food and comfort; not unlike the rest of the world. On the kayak back, I spot some large dolphins frolicking towards the anchorage so I go out to investigate. Maybe got a little too close and they came over and swam right underneath my kayak. That gets the heart rate elevated! With an overnight trip ahead, I get in a longer afternoon nap.

Panga fisherman abound here. I counted 12 at one time, each with their own nets strung out all waiting to grab at my propeller, not to mention what they might be doing to the fishery. Knowing it was a tricky passage out thru the nets I wanted to leave before dark so began to up anchor at 16:30.

Let’ me pause for a moment, and explain anchor trip lines. In rocky anchorages, the main anchor can get caught on a rock and not be able to be weighed. To help this, a line is tied to the anchor, threaded thru a buoy and then to a weight so that it sits right over the anchor in the water. It also marks the anchor’s position in crowded anchorages. If the anchor is stuck, one pulls on this trip line to help free the anchor. In my case, the weight I used was a small 6” dinghy anchor with a 30’ 3/8th inch line attached. As you might guess, this became a problem. There was quite a wind and current tugging at the boat, so it took a while to retrieve the main anchor line (75’ worth in 15’ of water). At one point I realized the anchor was stuck so I got as close as I could. With a tight anchor chain, an extra wave bounced the chain off the gypsy (the device that holds the chain on) allowing the anchor chain to free run out its whole 200’ length. So, started again with bringing all that in. This time, the main anchor came up and I went to retrieve the marker line. Damn if the little dingy anchor didn’t get stuck! I wish I had a picture of Carpe Ventus straining at this 3/8” line and the little anchor that could. I was ready to cut the line, but moved the boat forward under power (several times) and finally freed it. Then carefully made my way out through the mine field of nets and buoys to safe passage.

Not done yet. With an our of daylight left I decide to put out my line again. 10 minutes later I have a monster of a fish which I get gaffed into the boat (see pictures). It is 34” long and 15 – 20 lbs and likely a red snapper. I put it in the cockpit cooler for the night and settle in for the overnight passage to Mazatlan; willing my heart rate to rest.

The rest of the night was uneventful, with lots of rest. The morning bought a heavy fog and a SE wind so I raised the sails, shut off the motor and glided slowly along waiting for the fog to lift. My time was not idle though as I cleaned aforementioned giant fish! Always more fun to catch and eat than to clean but I hacked through its very thick scales and dressed about 10 lbs of excellent meat.

Pondering Possibilities and Purpose

28 March 2018
A frequent discussion amongst some cruisers is our purpose in being here. A tough but useful review of lives and dreams follows. Each has a different journey they are navigating but for me here are some discoveries as sailing alone for 3 days provides sufficient time for reflection. My ship glides along at 5 knots with very little intervention from me. I make and eat dinner, another 5 miles made; sleep for 45 minutes, more traces left on the chart plotter. Regardless of what else is happening in the world, everything I need to worry about is roughly with 100' of me and the slush of water under the keel is a constant reminder that I am progressing, alive, pursuing a goal and generally without much effort. It is a remarkable feat in itself and I am so grateful for the opportunity.

However, I have found a certain level of worry persists. I didn't want to leave La Paz, I was having so much fun there. And likewise, I approached the anchorage at Isla Isabella with some trepidation as my solo passage was over. But then, Isla Isabella was such a treat, after 3 days, I retrieved the anchor with some sadness. Much of my anxiety comes from trying to pack so much into each day: is this the right place, should I go here or there; what am I missing. I need to accept that it is perfect as it is; no matter what course I navigate in life. The compass rose is sweet in all directions. Stop and smell the roses. I am not going to see it all. Keep breathing!

What a Blast in San Blas

23 March 2018 | San Blas
Brian
What a blast in San Blas

Left La Cruz for a quick 10 mile trip to Punta de Mita to get back on the road. Anchored out and dingy'd in to town; sadly a waste of time with mostly high end restaurants but with a nice beach. Found out Harry Nicols from Nanaimo was anchored there but only had a brief talk with him in the morning before embarking on a great sail up to Matechan Bay near San Blas.

The whole area was a Spanish settlement back in the mid 16th century and became the home of their Pacific fleet by the 18th century. Lots of old buildings including a fort and cathedral. Surrounding the area is a huge mangrove swamp filled with many birds, crocodiles and very annoying little bugs called jejenes. The Spaniards were undefeated at their fort but finally departed probably beaten by the bugs!

Met with Christian, a 30 something drop out Engineer who gave up Boeing for cruising in his old 27' boat. Interesting views on life and we joined together to do the jungle cruise through the mangroves which includes a stop at a ?zoo? (disgusting place to keep animals) and a swimming hole. Definitely a highlight.

It's a short but dangerous trip round to San Blas harbour what with shifting shoals and unmarked rocks. I was armed with all sorts of data, but I opted to follow Christian in and survived just fine. With no room at the marina, I anchored out in the river for three days and enjoyed exploring the town and its history; looked into leaving the boat for the summer; joined in with twenty other cruisers for a pot luck dinner and had a couple of great meals in town. San Blas is still very much Mexican and has local food and pricing. $1 buys you 15 large fresh prawns. After having my fill I upped anchor and took my boat and my 30 new jejene bites for a motor up to Isla Isabella.

La Cruz

16 March 2018 | La Cruz
Brian
La Cruz is an amazing cruisers paradise. I signed up for a month at the marina and it has just flown by. It definitely helped to have Glenda here for most of that; I have dearly missed her. Other northern visitors include Carla, Guy and Val; and Dave and Lynn to round out the table.

To detail all the events would be tedious, but highlights include: Being with Glenda; Great music in La Cruz; The Blues Brothers show in Bucerias; Visits with old friends and family; Pickle ball (finally gave it a try); Biking for groceries to Bucerias; Swimming in the ocean off the beach; Paletas; New people Rick and Jessica, Tanya and Ed, Jean and Helen, Glen and Heidi, Doug and Lyneita; Trips to Guayabitos to see the Wrays; Sunsets and sunrises at anchorage; and the Morning VHF nets

And with the good comes a little bad: Non-existent internet at the dock; Losing my cell phone in a taxi (not recovered); More calories added than subtracted by above activities; Taking the wrong bus (followed by a long hot hike back); Discovering problems with my wind vane (not yet resolved)'

All in all, a wonderful month and a difficult parting. The following is my departure poem read to the morning net:

DEPARTURE POEM

Not unlike a teenager leaving home, I sever the ties for points north unknown
The embrace of La Cruz is warm and sweet, But alas, I have itchy feet.
"Seize the Wind" is the name Carpe Ventus, And that's what we'll do if the gods will let us.
Thanks to all for many good times, The people, the food and too many limes.

And now toward Mazatlan!

The Crossing

15 February 2018
215 miles from Los Frailes across the Sea of Cortez to Isla Isabella. At 5 knots average, that’s 43 hours. Common sense shouts “arrive at noon” which means leaving at 17:00. Except that I get antsy during the day of departure and up anchor at 11:00. Hey, I can always slow down if needed! A beautiful wind surges CV out of the bay and we start out at 7 knots.

As my first sunset beckons, I shorten sail to keep the nighttime gremlins asleep. Nicely slow to 6 knots. On the radio nets “watch for floating long line fish traps near the Island. They are 100s of feet long with only pop bottles to keep them afloat and visible”. Great. Keeping a sharp lookout in daytime is the order of the day. Nighttime? Pray to Neptune. Or at least share a bit of gin and tonic with the aquatic god.
With that complete, I settle down for my first 45 minute sleep. At least 15 minutes of that is spent anxiously awaiting the crunch that will come when I hit another boat. No boat is visible on the horizon, on the radar, or on the AIS (Automatic Identification System) but many ghost ships float into my consciousness as I lay in my bunk.

Sleep comes and so does the alarm. A quick search finds nothing but darkness again but what now. Seems odd to go back to sleep again so I stay up for an hour. Bad idea as I need to go through a quieting to get back to sleep again. This I repeat many times until I figure out I don’t need to stay awake. 5 minutes up on deck and at the instruments quickly proves no intruders and then back to sleep again is the life for me.

Unless, I do spot something, like three ships off the port bow. Oddly enough, in my planning, I didn’t consider what happens when I see a ship! I needed to stay up long enough to determine if they might come aligned with me. That takes about an hour, but all is well and the dawn breaks on a new day. Out goes the fishing line, which yields up a nice 6 lb Dorado. And I am still kicking along at 6 knots so I leave the night reef in the sails. The morning radio net informs me that the wind usually dies as the mainland approaches so my excessive speed is probably not a problem.

Another beautiful day and night pass without a problem. Indeed, the wind becomes a breeze and I look to arrive at 10:00. Motoring the last two hours to charge the batteries, I arrive on time, anchor down, and head down for a good nap. Mission accomplished, skills learned, and no harm done.

Rounding the East Cape

10 February 2018
Lack of wind forces the diesel to take over and I spend a noisy day in calm seas 60 miles south to Bahai de Los Muertos. Arriving just before sunset (as planned for once) and have a peaceful night. Los Muertos is literally "Bay of the Dead" but ahs other meanings. The locals are apparently trying to change the name to Bahai de la Suene (Bay of dreams) for development purposes. That said, the only development is a small restaurant, but developers usually get their way.

The next day finds me winding down to Los Frailies (The Friars) which is the jump off point for the southern crossing to the mainland. More wind today so motor sail for the morning and just sailing in the afternoon. Sedating the motor with the pull of a switch, the noise deadens and peace returns to Carpe Ventus. At least until the first few drops of rain hit the roof. The first in Mexico, followed by a few more, then a deluge for 2 hours that soaks everything, mi capitan included. Awesome to watch, but the extra water seeps into dried out port holes, down torn canvas holes and everywhere it can discover entry. By the time I anchor, moisture rules the day, and turning the heater on in 20 C weather suddenly makes sense.


That night, as I ponder life in the cockpit, I hear a mammal breathing near the boat. The flashlight reveals an entire ecosystem under the keel. Thousands of small creatures (plankton?) swarm to the light, turning the ocean into a stew. Which attracts a swarm of 6" fish that feast on the stew. Which has attracted the mammal that I originally heard. A 6' long sea lion is hiding under the boat and feasting on the other fish. I can almost touch it as his tail is above the surface and he occasionally turns, breaths, eats, then hides again. This goes on for 30 minutes until I turn my attention back to my upcoming 3-day journey.

The next day I have the time to fix the leaks, but one of the panel meters seems dead. I can make do on just one meter, but the tally of the deceased is mounting. I take some time off to snorkel over by the rocks Los Frailes is named for. The recent winds make visibility bad but still hundreds of fish swarm about me as I invade their home. Back on board alone with a glass of wine and my worries, the sun slinks off to bed; while the sea calms. Nothing for her to do now but shudder with a few fish jumps, and wait to reflect the luminous moon. Tomorrow, I venture across the Sea.

Vessel Name: Carpe Ventus
Carpe Ventus's Photos - Main
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