Isolation Vacation is over and it's back to the barn for Cetus!
19 July 2020 | Puerto Escondido, BCS, Mexico
Cetus tucked in to her slip in Marina Chica
We enjoyed one last sunrise swim at Bahia Marquer Saturday morning before hoisting the anchor and heading back into Puerto Escondido for Phase 1 of the big haul-out.
So for the next couple weeks we will be tackling all the little chores necessary to get Cetus ready to be lifted out of the water for 2 months on the hard.
The first order of business was to install an air conditioning unit to keep the temps inside livable for the next week while we're still onboard here in the marina. Next week we will be in the little apartment at nearby Hotel Tripui but we will still be coming down to work on the boat everyday and we will also need the a/c while doing inside work when she's in the yard beginning the first of August.
So while we'd much rather be out isolating in the islands we are enjoying the "luxuries" of dock life: unlimited water and power!
And we are looking forward to the next couple months finally being able to get lots of projects done while living in the small apartment that has other little luxuries such as a full size refrigerator!
On the COVID front it seems cases here are going down with more recovered than active cases and only 3 deaths in the Loreto area. That said I don't know that testing is very extensive, but it is a small community and I haven't heard any alarming reports.
For the most part everyone is keeping with the masks, distancing and disinfecting routines, however, as in the States, some are slacking off and the most worrisome is that they have started opening back up to tourism with flights going to and from the States once again.
While we won't be out in the islands we feel confident that we can still stay safe -- it just takes a little more thought than when we're out on the boat far from everything.
So we will be wearing our masks, distancing, disinfecting and washing our hands and hope all of you are doing the same.
Stay Safe and Sane!
On to Plan C! Or is it Plan D?
22 June 2020
Cetus on our buoy in Puerto Escondido
Way back in February of 2019 -- which at this point seems like about 100 years ago -- we started making plans to haul Cetus out of the water for some bottom work.
It was a little more than the 3 day in and out to simply put a fresh coat of bottom paint on as we have some minor blisters to repair, which requires more time out of the water to grind down old paint and open up the blisters and give the whole thing plenty of time to dry out -- maybe about 6 weeks.
So we figured it would be at least 2 months out of the water and we started planning on coordinating that out of water time with an extended trip north to Washington to do our Dr apts and visit friends and family.
First thought was to do it that spring, but since the weather down here in the Sea is so perfect at that time we decided to just go up and do our Dr apts at that time and then haul her out and go up for our visiting in late September/early October.
As that time approached California and Northern Baja started having wildfires all along our route, and then early snows started coming to the passes! Scratch that plan.
We then scheduled everything for March of 2020, but once again decided we just didn't want to miss the spring in the Sea of Cortez and pushed everything to July. Shortly after we changed those dates COVID struck and we were so thankful we'd altered plans when we did or we would have been traveling into the States just as the virus was a raging unknown factor. We were better off to stay down here and self isolate aboard Cetus in the anchorages near Puerto Escondido.
With all the uncertainty of what would happen we kept our July schedule just waiting to see if it would be possible to do the haul-out and drive to Washington then. So about a week ago we felt it was time to evaluate the situation and make a decision.
Not comfortable with the thought of driving to and spending time in Washington just yet as COVID cases are spiking a bit, we thought we should put off the trip north to a more stable time. In addition, nearby Loreto just reported its first cases at the beginning of June so we felt we were safer to stay put instead of making the drive up Baja.
So we decided to do the haul-out in August-September, but instead of tying it to our trip north we will stay down here in a nice little apartment at nearby Hotel Tripui (where we often stay while doing boat work).
So that's the current plan and reservations are made and we are actually quite happy with the decision. Not only will we be off the boat in the hottest months of summer, but we will be able to oversee all the work the yard is doing on the bottom of the boat as well as getting a chance for us to work on the interior, cleaning and refinishing Cetus from stem to stern. As you can imagine many projects just aren't comfortable to do in such a small space when you are living aboard.
Of course the huge downside is not getting to see family and friends....... but that's no different than what everyone has been having to deal with in these strange times.
But with our new plan, we will have the boat work done and we will be much more flexible to go north whenever the timing looks good.
So we'll just cross our fingers and say some prayers that Plan D works out!
Still Social Distancing in Bahia Marquer
18 May 2020 | Bahia Marquer, Isla Carmen in the Sea of Cortez
Social Distancing at its finest
A month ago we were getting ready to head into Puerto Escondido despite the news that once in port we would have to stay there as the Navy didn't want boats just going to and from the islands.
Luckily they changed that decree right away when they made the distinction between pleasure boats and boats that are homes. It was still OK for us to go out and Self Isolate in our homes as long as we minded the rules and stayed off the beaches. Fair enough.
We have been very fortunate to have perfect weather to stay here at Marquer on Isla Carmen enjoying the afternoon SE breezes keeping things very comfortable. We do get to swim and snorkel off the boat and the water is getting warmer and clearer everyday.
The biggest change in the anchorages from other years is the number of boats. As I mentioned before many more boats came to Baja this year at the time many boats usually leave. So instead of having the anchorage to ourselves or with only 1 or 2 other boats, we sometimes have as many as 10 -12. But Marquer is roomy and everyone spreading out nicely keeping that social distancing going.
We have been into PE a couple times this past month for some provisioning and visiting and they have maintained all the safety procedures as far as masks and distancing and checking everyone going into town. And so far this is still the only area on Baja that is COVID free!
The government has extended the quarantine on Baja but we have heard that there will be some relaxing of rules starting today as far as businesses opening etc.
We will be heading in to our buoy tomorrow for another supply run so it will be interesting to see what's changed since our last visit 10 days ago.
Here, just like everywhere, we just have to go with the flow and not make any big plans -- just wait and see what changes each day brings.
We are well aware that while we are comfortable in our home and we are all weathering the same storm we are not all in the same boat. Our hearts go out to those that are struggling financially and emotionally or have lost loved ones or have become ill themselves due to this terrible pandemic.
We look forward to seeing friends and family in happier days in whatever "new normal" comes along and in the meantime stay safe and sane wherever you are.
The times they are a changin'
17 April 2020
Boats lining the southern anchorage of Isla Coronados
When COVID-19 began to sweep across the United States in March we made the decision that we would stay here in the Sea of Cortez aboard Cetus since she is our home. At that point there weren't any known cases of the virus here on the Baja Peninsula, though we fully expected that to change as it had so suddenly in other countries.
By March 15th people down here in Puerto Escondido and Loreto were still cautiously gathering and pretty much going about business as usual but keeping some semblance of social distancing and doing a lot of hand-washing, but not feeling too much of the threat that we were hearing about in the States.
We had heard through the radio nets that many boats were heading up to Puerto Escondido this year because they thought this would be a safer place to be than the bigger cities and crowded marinas of mainland Mexico and even La Paz. In addition, hundreds of boats had to abandon their dreams of sailing to the South Pacific this year as those island nations were closing down to visitors, including cruising sailboats and many of those boats found themselves now looking for a place to stay.
So when we headed out to the islands on March 20th to self isolate for a couple weeks we paid for a buoy to insure we would have a place to return to if the crowds of boats arrived.
We had a great time out enjoying the wildlife and swimming and hiking around the islands and reluctantly went back in to the buoy on April 2nd to do some re-provisioning, empty our garbage and catch up with friends.
There was a whole new feeling about the marina when we returned. All of the workers were now wearing face masks and social distancing and sanitizing and disinfecting were much more pronounced. Grocery stores in Loreto were limiting the number of customers that could enter at one time and even having special early morning hours for seniors when the store was freshly sanitized. And now we were all getting cloth face-masks and wearing gloves. Our little world was changing rapidly, but we were still virus free in this area, though some cases and even a few deaths had occurred on southern Baja in Cabo and La Paz.
We were relieved to head back out to the islands on April 7th putting all the worries of distancing and disinfecting behind us. This time out we didn't go to shore to hike the islands as the government has closed the beaches.
Easter Week is a special time for Mexicans, who enjoy flocking to the beaches to camp and party -- so rules were made to keep people at home and safe, since people also come from mainland Mexico and the US to join in the festivities and they could easily bring the dreaded virus with them. So the Governor of Baja and the mayors of the towns have all been very proactive in trying to keep the virus at bay.
They also have an excellent web site set up for information on COVID-19 that tells everything you need to know to stay safe as well as telling the signs and symptoms with a phone number to call if you think you might have it and they will come to you. It also displays up to date stats on the number of cases and deaths by area on Baja. We feel fortunate to be in an area that is doing all it can to keep its population safe.
Here, as everywhere, it is devastating to the economy and especially at this time of year which is usually the high tourist season on Baja. Restaurants have closed or gone to take out menus and other non essential businesses have closed. They have even declared a dry state and liquor sales were first limited to certain hours and now are stopped all together.
Its heartwarming to see the community pulling together to help each other -- locals and gringos alike. We read about all of the acts of kindness being shown such as volunteers cleaning up, adding more beds and stocking up supplies at the small hospital in Loreto, restaurants donating meals to those in need, and on and on.
A couple days ago the small villages along the Baja started closing themselves off from visitors by land and Sea. Some popular anchorages are off of those villages, some are just asking people to not come ashore, but a few are politely asking boats to not anchor in the bays.
Loreto has now established a road block to keep non residents out of town. Those of us that have called Puerto Escondido home for sometime can get a letter stating that so we can be allowed to go to town for essential services (food and medical etc).
And we are also fortunate that the small Market in Puerto Escondido is keeping well stocked as well as acting as a shopping service to bring anything you need from town out to you.
The latest changes we've been hearing are that in addition to the beaches being closed they are closing the park lands off to anchoring. So far that isn't being enforced in this area, but it is in the islands near La Paz.
Yesterday, the Navy (who has a base just outside the marina) began tightening up the rules for Puerto Escondido. They have closed the port to coming and going of pleasure boats and now cruising boats. The new policy is that you can come in to the port but when you leave it has to be for another port as destination such as south to La Paz or across the Sea to San Carlos. No more going out to the islands for a week or so and coming back in.
So we will enjoy the next few days of freedom out here in the beautiful anchorage, then head back into our buoy and make the best of self isolation in there. Luckily for us, we've been preparing for this kind of life for a long time with weeks long ocean passages and will continue to comfortably weather this storm snug aboard the good ship Cetus.
Our "Little House on the Prairie"
28 March 2020 | Isla Coronados in the Sea of Cortez
Cetus: Our tiny floating home
When I was a kid I enjoyed Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie books immensely. I often dreamed I could live the life of simplicity she described.
Many years later, when I was in my late 30's, it suddenly dawned on me I had finally achieved that dream!
We were somewhere in the South Pacific and I was reading aloud as I would do daily to keep the three of us entertained on a long ocean passage. Carly was about 7 at the time and the book we had chosen was Little House on the Prairie.
It wasn't long before we all realized the similarities between the Ingalls crossing the vast prairies in their little covered wagon and our crossing of the ocean in our sailboat. Both were small sturdy vessels loaded down with supplies to last us for months, as well as being cozy little homes. She described seeing endless waves of prairie grass while we looked out at an endless blue sea.
We each had set out for a far off destination that was so remote we had only ourselves to rely on. We had to be prepared to meet any challenges that came up, be it medical, mechanical or weather related. We simply had to be totally self sufficient.
One of the aspects of those ocean passages I particularly enjoyed was to try to keep life as normal as possible -- keep it fun and pleasurable despite the often difficult conditions.
And that's what has helped in our new situation of dealing with COVID-19 and the Self Isolation. We have done many long passages over the years so we have had lots of practice at Self Isolation! And this is actually easier than a passage because you don't have to keep someone on watch 24/7.
But the downside this time is, of course, the virus that is wreaking havoc in all aspects of life. The worrying for family and friends and society as a whole along with the uncertainty of what will happen day to day takes a toll on everyone of us.
We are all in this boat together!
The best each of us can do is practice good habits of distancing and disinfecting and remind ourselves that "this too shall pass".
Take pride in being self sufficient and weathering this storm with optimism and be sure to help others in any way you can.
Simply make this difficult passage as pleasant as possible for yourself and everyone around you.
Circumnavigating Isla Carmen
07 March 2020
While we didn't anchor in every bay on the big island (that to me looks like a seahorse) we did circle the island and explored anchorages on the North, East, South and West!
It was made possible by the unusual wind patterns we've had lately with winds switching around the clock every 2 to 3 days. Our final stop after leaving Bahia Salinas was one of our all time favorites: Bahia Marquer on the West side of the island.
We only spent one night there -- and it was a very peaceful night -- but looking at the weather forecast for the week ahead convinced us to head back to the barn and grab a buoy in Puerto Escondido. This time it wasn't changing winds that had us on the move, but rather a gloomy forecast of clouds and rain. We'd rather spend that in port visiting with friends if we weren't going to be able to enjoy hiking and swimming.
So now we will spend a week or so enjoying the benefits of civilization -- meals out and nice hot showers as we prepare and provision for our next big outing in The Sea.
04 March 2020 | Bahia Salinas, Isla Carmen
The weather forecast for yesterday called for the west winds to continue until mid day, but they would be turning north by late afternoon
so it was time to leave Bahia Cobre that is open to the north. But when?
It had been very comfortable in Cobre the night before and the west winds didn't gust over 15 knots, but on the morning net we heard
that it was quite a different story with gusts in the 30s! So we knew that even though things seemed calm in our protected little cove
things could be quite different when we rounded the island into the more open waters of Bahia Salinas so we waited until about noon to
start the short (4 miles) journey south.
It all remained quiet and calm until we rounded the point and were greated by 3 foot choppy white capping seas coming from the west!
Yikes! Had we come too soon? Should we turn back?
We could see a couple other boats anchored where we were headed on the other side of the bay and it did look calmer over there
protected by the hills, so all we decided to keep plowing forward -- after all the wind would be switching in the afternoon........ we hoped.
As we traveled the winds were lessening and the white caps disappearing so we were feeling happy with our decision to stay the course,
and then when we were about 10 minutes away from where we planned to anchor the wind suddenly switched to the north! Right on
schedule, just as predicted!
So we dropped the hook in 11 feet of water and enjoyed a pleasant afternoon with 10 to 15 knots of wind keeping us in a comfortable
position which continued on through the night. We lucked out again!
The plan is to stay here for the next couple days until another wind shift is predicted and then we'll move on.
Following the Wind
03 March 2020 | Bahia Cobre on the east side of Isla Carmen
The colorful rock formations of Bahia Cobre
Bahia Cobre proved to be a good place to avoid the strong west winds. We did get some wind, but only to about 15 knots while we
heard reports from Puerto Escondido of gusts to 35 as well as gusts from many different directions. All of that isn't too bad if you are in
there on a dock or mooring buoy, but changing gusts like that is nerve wracking when you are out on anchor.
Today's forecast has the westerly winds clocking to the north by noontime, so our plan today is to head to anchorages on the south side
of Isla Carmen for comfortable protection. We should be able to spend a couple days there exploring the beaches -- and hopefully getting
some more swimming in.
So we continue our circumnavigation of Isla Carmen!
The Dark Side of the Moon
02 March 2020 | Bahia Cobre on the east side of Isla Carmen
The red tide at La Launcha
After nearly a week at Isla Coronados, most of which was sitting through a Norther, winds began to change giving us an opportunity to
explore some anchorages we haven't seen in awhile since they are exposed to the north.
With west winds in the forecast for a few days we first made a trip to Loreto to pick up some fresh supplies and meet George & Barbara,
our friends from DreamCatcher, for lunch and catch upon the happenings back in Puerto Escondido.
Then we headed to the north shore of Isla Carmen, dropping anchor at La Launcha. We rowed to shore and had a nice little hike with
plans to get back to the boat for a swim before lunch, but our plans quickly changed when we saw that a thick red tide had rolled into
the anchorage! Nothing we wanted to swim in and it was a nice day, so we decided to move on to our next destination that we'd
planned for the following day.
So we hoisted the anchor and set out to the east side of Isla Carmen, hoping the red tide hadn't gotten over there yet -- and we were very
lucky because we motored through patches of the red algae all along the north shore but once we got out in the open water on the east
side the water was clean.
We dropped anchor in the scenic little bay and enjoyed a nice sunset swim in the cool clear water before dinner. It was a real treat.
We will stay here for the next couple days, well protected from the west winds and then move on when they switch back to the north.
I am posting this blog through our Ham radio connection, because being on the east side of Isla Carmen is much like being on the dark
side of the moon as far as communication goes -- no cell or WiFi signals make it over the high hills of the island. So for now, our Ham
radio is our connection to the world for weather and email so we are basically off the grid for now.
Another Norther at Isla Coronados
26 February 2020
We have only gotten out to the anchorages a few times this winter, but every time we have we’ve made a beeline for the south side of Isla Coronados because every time there has been a Norther coming.
It is that time of year and the Northers are well forecast so we just look for a day with light winds to motor north and tuck in behind the old volcano. The wind still blows but we are close enough in towards shore there isn’t the fetch to build up the waves so it’s a pretty comfortable ride.
Our first day here we took advantage of the calm sunny day and took a refreshing swim around the boat knowing that once the cold north winds kicked in we wouldn’t want to be getting in the water.
Riding out a norther feels a lot like being on an ocean passage with the sounds of the wind and the motion of the boat. But minus the night watches and short sleep periods it is quite enjoyable sitting in the cockpit watching the birds and dolphin (and a turtle every now and then) always hoping for a whale to come by!
Today should be the last day of the strong winds and then we’ll go to shore and explore the island and finally get out for another swim.
Everyday now the temps on land and in the Sea are warming a bit and soon the best of the cruising season will be upon us!
Merry Christmas from The Cetus Crew! 🎄
17 December 2019 | Marina Puerto Escondido
Photo credit to our great harbormaster Javier
Well this past month, since my last post, flew by as quickly as the rest of the year! I'm just coming to grips with it's already fall when it's actually almost Christmas and the end of the year!
Due to weather (lots of rain and clouds and now some good old Northers) we haven't gotten out to the islands as much as we'd hoped but we did have a very enjoyable few days anchored off of Isla Coronados at the beginning of December. Relaxing, swimming and hiking filled our days. No snorkeling as the water has cooled down considerably so just short swims around the boat in the "refreshing" water. The highlight of the trip was the hike to the top of the old volcano. We haven't done it in a couple years -- it is a challenging hike but well worth the effort for the amazing view from the top as well as the great feeling of accomplishment when we were done.
We've made the best of our time here in Puerto Escondido on a buoy in the Ellipse by getting to shore for beautiful morning walks and then hiking the hill behind the marina every Saturday. All those rains we've been having have made for some beautiful scenery -- things are greener than I've ever seen and wildflowers are abundant. 🌺
Our other fun pastime has been gathering with friends up at Pepegina's restaurant here at the marina to cheer on our favorite football team.
We will enjoy another low key cruiser's Christmas -- hopefully out at anchor in the islands if the weather cooperates. While we miss doing the holidays with our families back in Washington there is something to be said for the lack of hustle & bustle and the pleasant temperatures we enjoy down here.
Our trip north of the border
23 November 2019
The beautiful Baja drive
Our planned trip north to Washington for our usual fall visit kept getting delayed by one thing after another until we decided it wouldn’t be prudent to do the drive so late in the year. Early snows in some areas along with wildfires in California and Baja sealed the deal, so it was time for plan B.
We still needed to drive north because it was time to renew our 6 month FMM’s (tourist visas) — and we’d already prepared our “wish lists” of supplies that we wanted from the States so we decided to make a quick trip up the Baja to San Diego and back to take care of everything.
It turned out to be a rather enjoyable trip as Hwy 1 has had a major facelift over the last couple years and the terrible pot holes are almost completely gone and much of the road is freshly repaved and widened as well!
We also changed up our pattern and tried out a couple new hotels this trip. On the way up we pressed on past our usual stop at Guerrero Negro and stayed at the charming hotel at Cataviña. It made for a bit longer drive but it wasn’t bad with the improved road conditions. So the 2nd day we were able to go beyond our usual stop at San Quintin and stayed in Tecate (where we cross the border). That turned out great because we would usually reach Tecate late in the day when the lines to cross were the longest resulting in 1-2 hour waits. Being able to choose our time we crossed the border about 8 am (after the early morning crowd) and it only took us about 15 minutes! That was nice.
We spent 2 nights in San Diego shopping at Target, West Marine and, of course, Costco as well as getting new tires put on the car. We were stocked up and ready to roll!
We left at the crack of dawn and we were changing our driving plans as we went because there was a late Tropical Storm that formed and was heading to Baja! We weren’t afraid of Raymond turning into a hurricane but rather we wanted to be done driving before heavy rains hit making for nasty driving conditions — or even flash floods or wiping out roads.
So we bypassed our planned stop at our favorite Hotel Santa Maria with its great Long Beach on the Pacific Ocean and we pressed on all the way to Guerrero Negro, pulling into Hotel Terra Sal just as the sun was beginning to set. Another good day for a long drive.
We didn’t have to leave as early the next day because we didn’t have as far to go, but we also knew the rains were moving up from the south and had already started in Puerto Escondido. We made reservations in Loreto (only 20 miles north of PE) so we wouldn’t have to unpack in the rain after the drive.
We saw our 1st rain drops just north of Santa Rosalia but we were very fortunate to not hit “real” rain until a few miles outside of Loreto. We enjoyed a relaxing evening at the Hacienda Suites and hit the grocery store for some fresh foods before driving home the next morning.
We were able to slowly unpack the car between rain showers so it was easy to get everything stowed away. A good end to a great trip.
And I have to give a big shout out to Roadtrip Rosie who is a fantastic passenger. She has the routines down pat and I think she almost enjoys the trips. We have a traveling toilet for her in the back of the car (she’s trained to a toilet not a litter box) so we don’t have to worry about her if she doesn’t get a chance to go before we take off. She likes to curl up in a tub we put in the back seat and sleeps for most of the drive — but when we reach our destination we say “time to go inside” and she gets right in her carrier ready to go explore a new place.
Just hanging out in Puerto Escondido......
14 October 2019 | Marina Puerto Escondido
Love waking up to the beautiful Gigante mountains every morning
It looks like we've seen the end of hurricane season in our area!
It's not officially over until November 1st, but the weather patterns have changed over the past week and we've even had our first Norther which, along with the flying of the yellow butterflies, is a good sign we're done with hurricanes for the year.
The last one to threaten us, Lorena, ended up going right up the middle of the Sea passing by Puerto Escondido as a Catagory 1 hurricane, but she was far enough east that she gave the mainland coast a good drenching but we really had no wind or rain from her.
And as hurricane season comes to an end the cruisers begin pouring in and putting their boats back together for another season in the Sea of Cortez. It's a whole new world.
Our plans have us staying in Puerto Escondido for at least another month as we offered to cat sit for a couple different friends so they can travel north leaving their kitties comfortable on their own boats instead of having to endure unwanted air travel.
So for now we are staying put in Marina Chica and enjoying the cooler temperatures that are setting in 😎😎.
We survived our Summer in the Sea!!
Lorena changed her mind........
20 September 2019
Waiting for weather
Just as we thought we were well out of the path -- all forecasts changed and Lorena will come closer to us than originally predicted.
So we'll get more wind but we're ready for anything she sends our way.
We're expecting the excitement to commence tomorrow morning and peaking around noon -- so tonight we're all up at PepeGina's restaurant here at the marina for a hurricane party!
“Trying to reason with hurricane season......” Jimmy Buffett
19 September 2019
Weather roulette — where she stops nobody knows!
It’s that time of year again and as Jimmy Buffett said in song we are trying to deal with it or at least make sense of the different forecasts.
The official hurricane season in the Northern East Pacific (where we are) began May 15th and so far all of the storms that have brewed up south of us (in what’s called the ‘Tropical Kitchen’) have spun off to the west of Baja and the most effect we have gotten from them has been some clouds and convection resulting in some thundershowers providing some much needed and welcome rain.
Well this week things have changed and we have 3 active storms going at one time. Kiko has headed west and doesn’t appear at all like it will turn back to Baja, but Lorena appears to have a couple possible tracks that head to Cabo San Lucas at the tip of Baja (a little over 100 miles south of where we are in the Puerto Escondido/Loreto area). And then there is Mario who appears to be heading NW paralleling the Pacific Coast of Baja.
So with 3 active systems out in the Pacific and different forecast models offering different scenarios about all we can do is keep checking the forecasts and scratching our heads.
As always we will be prepared for the worst while praying for the best and we are confident that here in Marina Chica in Puerto Escondido we are in the safest, most protected place we could be.
For the next couple days we will be watching the weather and preparing Cetus for whatever might come our way and will keep you posted on how it all turns out.
One thing I do know is none of these storms pose a threat to Alabama 😉.
Is this frequency in use?
23 August 2019
This is KiloCharlie7OscarKiloMike
Is this frequency in use?
Another interesting aspect to our “Summer in the Sea” is my becoming a net controller on the morning Sonrisa Net! Anyone who knows me knows how totally out of my comfort zone this is — I can’t even make telephone calls!
In the active boating months down here this is a very popular and busy amature radio net that many rely on for keeping in contact with other boaters and for information, most importantly the weather. You must have a radio license to participate but many others listen in. So it’s important to keep things up and running even during this low season — the show must go on!
The net starts at 7:30 am and the weather doesn’t come until 7:45 so those 15 minute leading into weather time need to be filled with check ins because it’s important to keep the start of the weather at the same time each day so that anyone needing that information can find it at the pre set time. But with so few boaters left in the Sea there aren’t very many ham radio operators that can check in to the net, so Terry & I started checking in regularly a couple months ago to help fill in the time and keep the net going.
As the days went by and the other net controllers left the Sea it came down to the summer net manager, Bill in Tucson, was having to do net control 7 days a week! To give him a break so he wouldn’t be tied down every day, I volunteered to do it 2 days a week. Now I’m covering Thursdays and Fridays every week and the 1st Tuesday of every month. As I said, not really something I’m real comfortable doing but it does get easier every day.
There is a preset script, or preamble for the net to keep things running smoothly. The most difficult part of the job is trying to fill in time when there are too few check ins before weather time. And some of those checking in can have a weak signal and it’s difficult to hear and that can be frustrating for both parties. And then there is the weather. Net control is responsible for doing the weather forecasts for the Mexican cruising grounds — or finding someone else to cover that for them. Luckily there is a NOAA forecast page covering these areas that is easy to open and read from (as long as you have an internet connection).
So my new volunteer net control position is challenging me and keeping me busy and on top of the weather so it’s a good thing and I am enjoying it.
This is Heidi, KC7OKM clear.
Summer in the Sea
20 August 2019 | Beautiful summer sunset
By August there aren’t many boaters left in the Sea of Cortez because the “snow boaters” (those who have another home in the States or Canada) usually leave by May, and the rest of us who have made their boat their home often choose these hottest of months to take road trips or travel to visit family and friends in cooler areas. That’s what we have done many years but this year we decided to shake things up a bit and spend the summer in the Sea.
There are a few reasons we decided to do this, one being that we do like to be with the boat if any weather comes this way (after all it is hurricane season) so we can tend dock lines and make sure all is well.
Another reason is I love to swim and snorkel and the sea temperatures and water clarity are perfect for that right now. We usually start getting really good conditions in May but this year the water stayed cool and pretty “green” well into July so we didn’t want to leave just as things were getting good. And, for the most part, the weather is quite settled and consistent in the summer months. Nice SE breezes and beautiful sunsets.
Plus, traveling in the States is much more pleasant in the fall when kids are back in school and temps are cooling off — so avoiding the ugly crowded vacation travel time in August is always a good thing!
But now for the downsides of summer in the Sea........
First of all is the chance of “bad weather” — as in hurricanes that develop down south and could take a turn up the Sea. Cabo and La Paz are most vulnerable to those storms and that’s why we choose to stay in the Loreto/Puerto Escondido area because the further north you are the less likely you are to get the full brunt of a storm. Many of the summer boaters go even further north to the Bay of LA to sit out the hurricane season, but we’ve found this area to be much more comfortable and just as safe.
There is another weather phenomena that we deal with starting in July: Chubascos. They are basically just squalls that sometimes pass across the Sea from mainland Mexico (that always has lots of convection going on this time of year). The problem with the Chubascos is they normally show up at night and you never know what will be involved — rain, thunder & lightening, strong winds and winds from changing directions as it passes over. Luckily there are weather sources now that are very good at predicting where Chubascos might be heading so you can be prepared. In all our years here in the Sea we’ve only experienced one Chubasco out at anchor and it was a very light one.
Then, of course, there is the heat. It can get into the high 90’s during the day and only cooling to 83 to 85 at night! Luckily there are often nice breezes in the afternoon and we have fans throughout the boat so we manage. It’s easiest at anchor where we can catch the breezes to funnel them into the boat as well as spending a lot of time in the water keeping our core temps down.
And there are the bees. When it’s hot and there isn’t much water to be found on shore they will scout out the boats in an anchorage in search of water. They aren’t aggressive, just annoying, but they can get really out of hand if they find your boat to be a good source of water and boats will end up with hundreds of them swarming around if they’re not careful. We have had pretty good luck this year and we thank a fellow cruiser for telling us a trick he learned — burning mosquito coils! On mornings when we are out at anchor we started burning a coil early when the scout bees begin their search and it seems to discourage them, and then by afternoon the breezes start up that also keep them away and they always leave when the sun goes down. The bees aren’t ever any problem in marinas or if you’re anchored by a resort because then they have plenty of on shore water to keep them satisfied.
So that pretty much sums up Summer in the Sea of Cortez — the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s certainly not for everyone! But we are enjoying it all the same.
Cetus is at the dock!
01 August 2019 | Marina Puerto Escondido
We’ve enjoyed having a mooring buoy in the Ellipse here in Puerto Escondido for the last several months — short dinghy ride in to shore, great spot to catch the cooling SE breezes and easy in and out for going to and from where we really want to be which is out in the nearby anchorages.
But now it’s August — midway through the hurricane season here in the North East Pacific and the time when there is more likelihood of something developing that could head up our way. There have already been 6 named storms develop south of us and as is usual for early in the season they took off in a northwest direction and headed toward Hawaii.
So we have opted to secure our usual dock space in the well protected Marina Chica as we have for the past 3 years. The plan is to spend as little time here on the dock as possible since the temperatures in here are much greater due to its protected location. Out at anchor or even out on a buoy the boat swings to the wind and the breezes flow through the boat but at the dock you lose that too.
We will make good use of our time at the dock getting projects done that aren’t easily done elsewhere but hopefully the majority of our time will be enjoying life in the islands, knowing that we have this safe haven to come back to should any nasty weather threaten to come our way.
Just a little something more........
23 July 2019
Lucky little Cheeto 😻
I know, I know.......
How many times am I going to say the Big Kitty Round-up is over only to talk about catching more cats?
Well the round-up in Puerto Escondido is over. But we did lend a hand when our good friends and partners in our kitty round-up had a mother with 2 kittens show up in their yard!! Yikes! They already care for some 27 cats between their house, their courtyard and adjacent properties. That includes our 6 boatyard cats that we had to suddenly relocate.
So when Mike was presented with even more cats to contend with, we were more than happy to help out anyway we could after all he and his wife have done for us.
Trying to locate those little kittens in the thick undergrowth was pretty futile, but we had some brief glimpses and heard a few meows to know they were still there. That night Mike was able to catch the young mama and one of the kittens. Mama has been spayed and returned to the wild -- she was very feral. And Mike's wife Jean took little Cheeto in for some good socialization.
The same day Mike saw the mama and her two orange tabby kittens show up -- I saw a post on a FaceBook site saying a local cruiser was looking for an orange tabby kitten! What are the odds of that? He had a great orange tabby cat onboard his trimaran for the past 18 years, and after he passed a couple months ago he knew he needed a new cat to make things right again.
A couple days later our little Cheeto was off to a wonderful forever home -- truly a match made in heaven!
The other little orange ball of fur is yet to be caught and in the meantime Mike was told about another new mom and kittens a couple houses down and he is in the process of rescuing them. So it is a never ending job but the little successes make it all worth while.
Javier & Juanita are happy in their forever home!
06 July 2019
Together forever 💕
The flight north with the kitties went smoother than I could have hoped — they were perfect little travelers!
They went home that night with their new dad and settled in right away — we’ve been enjoying pictures and videos of them everyday as they play and explore their new home. They have even made friends with their new big sister, Jezzabelle 😻😻😻.
It couldn’t have worked out better 💕