Summer 2019 post
30 September 2019 | Mt. Vernon, Wa
The weather has turned cold. The geese are in the air. That signals our time to once again head south. Eight years ago we headed south in our little 29ft, 47y,o. boat, which seems like a lifetime ago. Last year we once again bought an old boat (only 44y.o. this time) and sailed south. So now we are in the airport getting ready to fly down to La Paz, Mexico to join back up with our boat. We will have an apartment and keep the boat on her mooring, ready to take us on some adventures up into the Sea of Cortez, so we have the best of both worlds. Like all of our summer visits we have had a madcap crazy summer of family, friends and fun. We bought an older motor home and car which have stored so coming back next year will be a little easier. It’s always bitter sweet leaving. We love to visit family and our friends but we love to travel to far away (warm) places too. Next year? Maybe Asia? So until next June we say farewell. Stay tuned for more Chysalis adventures as we explore more of Mexico.
Our time in La Paz
25 April 2019
We have now been in La Paz, Mexico for four months and are making our plans to return to the states for the summer. As usual time has flown by. After getting the boat down here we kept it in the marina . for the first month and then put it on a mooring after that. We have not been able to do a lot with the boat as of yet, beyond a few day sails. It has continued to be ailed by various issues that are still to be resolved. It seems as one is put to bed another comes up. But it is an old boat and sat for a long time. We look forward to having much more time next year on her. We will be putting her on the hard (dry dock) in a few days, where she will await our return. Our apartment has been very comfortable and we have reserved it for next year. Having two bedrooms, three beds and two baths it has been great for hosting friends who have come to visit. We have an open invitation policy for anyone who would like to come and stay for a while (reserve early for next year!) We will be back in October and will again stay till the end of April. We as usual have been very busy here taking friends on our tourist tours, meeting lots of other cruisers, dinners, playing games and lots of laughs. Music has been a big part of our stay here, La Paz has lots of it. We attend an open mic event every other Wednesday that never fails to amaze us with top notch players of every type of music. I am not comfortable playing there (yet) and so started another venue for less then top notch and student type budding musicians, on the other Wednesdays. We have had lots of fun with it and learned lots about putting together all that is involved with stage music paraphernalia (lots of wires, cables, mixer, speakers, amps, mics, stands and the likes, along with managing the event. We look forward to doing more of it when we get back. We have also attended lots of great music events, blues festival, jazz festival, flamenco, country, lots of fun. We had planned on staying down here in La Paz for two seasons using it as a base to sail out of and then sell the boat and do more land travel. We really like La Paz so we will see if we will need to adjust that schedule. We learned long ago that cruisers (and land travelers) plans are drawn in the sand at low tide, highly subject to change. We don’t write as much when we are staying put for a while as there is less to write about, so if you see a long pause it is because we are just chillin’. Our next adventure will be with our grand kids back home. Stay tuned for more Chrysalis Adventures!
Chrysalis III arrives at her new home in La Paz Mexico
06 February 2019 | La Paz, Mexico
Perfect high 70's to low 80's
In our last blog I had just deposited Leiann in La Paz(in her nice little casita) waiting for me to bring the boat down from Ensenada. I flew back to find the new paint job outstanding. Leiann did not know that I was having butterflies added to the name. She was concerned that who ever painted them might not do a good job. As I was having the name done in vinyl, I figured if she did not like them I could just peel them back off, she loved em. I had a few projects to finish before I could leave as well as collecting crew and clearing out. My new crew consisted of Dave a 46 yo avid sailor, rock climber and surfer. And Will an ex navy medic, rock climber, surfer with some sailing experience. Both jumped in and helped get the boat projects done. We had some fun in Ensenada, I took them to eat the cheapest and best tacos El Pastor, (on me!). We had a little wrinkle clearing out as Dave had an issue with his tourist visa, which required a little help from our paperwork guy Juan. A few dollars later all was good and we were ready to head out. This would be the first time either of my crew had been offshore at night. We headed out early from Ensenada. We had roughly 300 miles to our first stop, Turtle Bay. This is a two nights at sea trip, which went well both crew did quite well even though we had some good size swell and they were a little queasy. We arrived in Turtle Bay after beating into a strong headwind. We wasted little time deploying the dingy and getting off the boat. I took them to my favorite restaurant (the oldest in town,I had been to Turtle Bay twice before over a 15year period). The restaurant and town had changed little since I first saw it in 2005. Pedro, the one armed dinghy watcher met us on the beach offering to watch our dinghy and find anything we needed in town. I rented a room so I and the crew could get a shower. It turned out to be a cold one. Me and Will toughed it out while Dave went down the street for a warm one. Later we found out they were just changing the propane bottle, a little late for me and Will. Later I needed Pedro to lead me all over town to get enough money to pay for my diesel. I thought there was an ATM here, not the case, and no bank. Add to that the electricity was out so the stores that would usually allow you to use your card to get cash could not do so due to no juice. But Pedro found a few places that had a generator, so after a few hours, lunch and several stops ($50 here and $100 there) we had enough to pay our fuel bill and were on our way to our next stop, 250 miles south, Magdalena Bay. Weather predictions were for very light conditions, but as we headed out of Turtle Bay we had to reef down due to gusts of 25 to 30 knots. Then only to take out the reefs only to put them back in and then end up motoring the rest of the way. We were greeted by multiple Gray Whales as we entered the bay, nice. We anchored off the little town known as Man of War. The next day we hired a panga to take us over across the bay to San Carlos. We hit the ATM, bought more groceries and some new fishing lures as we had had our stolen by some large fish (or logs) not sure which. We took our impromptu “taxi/pick up” driver and his friend (interpreter) to lunch after running us all over town. It was a fun trip and our panga driver remembered me from our trip back in 2011! We headed out the next day again surrounded by Gray Whales. The crew were excited to try out the next lures so got our lines out quickly. The area around Mag Bay is supposed to be a very good fishing area. However all we caught was Bonita, which is not the best tasting fish. We held out hoping for some Dorado, a really good tasting fish, but alas we never caught one on the way down to Cabo. Cabo was another over night trip of about 160 miles. We did get to do some good sailing on this leg. The weather now was a nice and warm 80 degrees and the crew welcomed the tropical air. The crew got to do some snorkeling and caught some night life while there. Leiann came down to meet us and we got a hotel leaving the crew to fend for them selves. I met the crew the next morning and found them a little sore headed from the night before. We fueled up and headed out again. We had another 125 miles to get to La Paz. We decided to make a stop over in Bahia de Muretos or Bay of the Dead, don’t know how it got it’s name. We headed out the next day at 3 am so as to get to La Paz around noon. We finally did catch a Dorado, but it was small, so let it go. A few more Bonito brought our fishing attempts to a close. Our trip up to La Paz was uneventful motoring the entire way. But it was beautiful with wilderness and high mountain peaks along the coast. Much of which appeared to have never been touched by man. The crew was happy to make landfall, Leiann met us at the dock and had already arranged for our slip. After nearly four months, several repairs and a few thousand miles Chrysalis III was now at her new home and will be making trips up into the Sea of Cortez from here. After another night of frolicking we put the crew on a plane back to Tijuana. I think they enjoyed the adventure and I thanked them for helping me get the boat down here. They did a great job, and I think learned a lot about sailing a larger boat offshore and all that entails. As I always say “It ain’t for everybody”. Stay tuned for more Chrysalis Adventures as we explore our new home here in La Paz, Mexico. And as always we have an extra bedroom for friends and family who would like to come hang for a while. Life is good!
Driving the Baja
05 January 2019
Blog Update: Driving the Baja
We had talked to a couple of people who had driven the Baja and were told that the roads were “not bad” and that there were plenty of gas stations, other then that, nothing special. We were surprised to find the road leaving Ensenada was pretty good. Further down the road we found that at times the road turned into brand new four lane and at other times old single lane full of chuckholes. At one point we were driving on a rough dirt road as we were detoured around construction work. All in all the road was “not terrible”. We were also surprised to see vineyard after vineyard as we drove up into mountains. Who knew Mexico had so many vineyards, it looked like Napa Valley. We drove for an hour or two before starting to see cactus. It was fascinating to watch as different species of cactus began to appear the further south we drove. At one point the cactus, or whatever it was, looked just like the “trees” out of Dr. Sueuss’s “Lorax”, weird. At another juncture there were so many cactus of all variety ranging anywhere for a few feet to 20 foot tall, that it looked like a forest. After 6 hours we began seeing huge boulders, the further we drove the bigger they got. Some the size of volkswagons. Then we began to see piles of boulders, like a mountain of volkswagon size stones. We had arrived at Catavina and the famous bolder fields of Catavina. Here we found were many early indigenous rock paintings thousands of years old. The little “town” of Catavina is made up of a no longer functioning gas station (luckily we packed extra fuel), a couple derelict “motels”, a little store and our four star Mission Hotel. We thought it funny no one had mentioned the bolder fields as they were unlike anything we had ever seen or the amazing cactus forests. We had an amazing Filet Mignion (an unexpected treat) for our “New Years Eve celebration”. After a great night sleep we headed south the next day. It was cold as heck as we walked out the front door, it was forty degrees outside. I didn’t realize we had gained a bunch of elevation and were at 2,000 ft. That equals a ten degree drop in temp (for every 2,000 feet). As we continued south we were amazed by the towering mountain peaks and huge flat plateaus with big dried up lakes. It was apparent that these big lakes would again fill when the next big storm comes in. We took lots of pictures of these towering mountains as we were very surprised to see them. But some times we say a picture just can’t show the what we are seeing, some times you just have to be there. I had always thought of the Baja as being flat with nothing but dry dessert. We ended our second day arriving in the sea shore town of Santa Rosalia. It sits on the Sea of Cortez side of the Baja, approximately 300 miles north of La Paz. We had not been able to book a room here so we thought we would try at a hotel we had stayed at when we came down in 2015. Luckily we were able to get a room, such as it was. It was quite a step down from the previous night. Our backs hurt the next day due to the bed. We tried to find some coffee but no Starbucks around, so we settled for some crappy brewed stuff which is better then the instant that most Mexican restaurants serve. We drove for two hours and stopped at Loreto to fill up. While getting gas I asked the guy behind me if he knew of any good coffee in this town. We were blown away when he said that the hotel down on the beach served Starbucks! We could not believe our luck and promptly headed for the hotel. We had a lot of road a head of us still and headed toward the town of Guererro Negro, which interestingly is back over on the pacific side The road has to go back over across the peninsula to avoid the high mountains heading south. The Baja is anything but flat. We had a nice “traditional” lunch in this very poor little town. While there we were able to provide a meal for a street dog and an old man in the park, always puts a smile on our faces, we are so fortunate to live the life we do. As we got closer to La Paz the flatter the land got. Now this is what I pictured the Baja to be, flat and dry. As we rolled into town in darkness. We luckily had our handi new GPS phone that guided us right to our hostel. We had also stayed here back in 2015. It is a small but clean little place. Individual rooms with a central kitchen, we stayed here three weeks last time but this time we are staying only three days. It even came with a cat. As we travel we often seem to find cats to feed, as we both love cats, they are like little aliens. So tomorrow we check out and into our “new home”. Leiann had already booked this new place and it will be the first place that she can call her own for a whole month since we got back from Europe. We have a friend (Kris) coming to hang with us for a week or so. She had come to visit us in Rome also. We like to leave an open invitation for friends and family to come stay with us in exotic locations as we travel. We have had some great times doing this. After Kris leaves hopefully the boat will be ready and I will fly up to start the trip down with the boat. We expected it to be a little warmer down here, as it was in the sixties yesterday, dropping down in the fifties at night. Today it got up to mid 70’s so more to our liking. It might be another few weeks before we start getting those 80 degree days we love. Even weirder a new hurricane forming a thousand miles south of us. The hurricane season normally ends at the beginning of November, global warming! We look forward to spending a few months here in La Paz and be able to do some sailing in the Sea of Cortez. Stay tuned for more adventures.
We arrived back in Ensenada, Mexico (agian)
30 December 2018
Blog Update Mexico
We have now been in Ensenada for a little over a month. It’s been great getting back to Mexico. The people are great and the tacos Al Pastor are the best. Leiann ended up driving down to Ensenada after all and met me at the Hotel Coral Marina. As was our experience here seven years ago, we were treated like we were a somebody. We have enjoyed the pool and hot tub, restaurant and feral cats (that we feed). It’s been a little cool here at times (low fifties at night) but still many days in the low seventies. We have had a few rainy days also, but when we look at the weather up north we realize how good we have it. We have enjoyed some “down time” and in general “chilling”. I have worked on a few boat projects (they never end), but at a very relaxed pace. I need something to do anyway. It is now December 30 and we will be leaving the boat here and are going to leave tomorrow to drive to La Paz. We decided to do this rather than fly down. But we will do it at a relaxed pace driving six hours or so for three days, staying in hotels and enjoying views. We will stay at a little town on Sea of Cortez side on our trip down, that we had visited back in 2015 when we “backpacked” it down throughMexico on our way to South America. We already have a nice little Casita rented in La Paz with a pool! We have pulled the boat out of the water and are having it painted while we travel south. I will be in contact with the yard and when it is finished will return and bring it down to La Paz. I have advertised for and put together a crew list of 10 candidates. I will make a final choice of crew when I get back as crew often have things come up and can’t make it at the last minute. This way I have back up. Many want to have the adventure of sailing down the Baja. When we head out the boat will be sporting new paint, a new roller furling and new lazy jacks (a group of lines that allow you to drop the main sail quickly and hold it in place). We will stock up on provisions before we go so we’ll have lots of goodies. Maybe I’ll spring for Mexican fishing licenses and gear and do a little fishing on the way down as the Dorado Fishing is great down the Baja. We are at the moment headed over for one last check on the boat before we go over to a sports bar to watch our Seahawks take on the Cardinals. Stay tuned for more Chrysalis Adventures!
Chrysalis's journey down the coast
07 November 2018 | San Diego
Nice and warm!
I last posted a blog when we were still up in Port Angeles WA. We have had a cold and less then idealistic trip south. We left Neah Bay with my three green crew Stan, Connie and Terry. Terry had owned his own boat ten years ago, but had never been offshore. Stan and Connie had never been offshore either and were near virgins to sailing. We did an over night to West Port with mild conditions, uneventful other than continued issues with fuel problems. This has been an extremely frustration problem and has persisted despite repeated fuel polishing (tank cleaning), addition of an additional filter system and many many replacement filters. In the middle of the night as soon as I tried to lay down to get a couple minutes sleep the engine would die and I would have to drain the sediment bowl, change the filter (sometimes all three) then bleed the air out of the entire system. So at one point in the night the batteries went dead from trying to start the engine. So I started the generator to charge the batteries and finally got it started avoiding an expensive tow into West Port. In West Port we tried to leave the next day but had to turn back because of huge swells and high winds right in our face(this despite mild weather predictions). It was quite a ride getting the boat back in over the bar, at times surfing the boat at 13 knots, double our hull speed. Surfing the boat requires much attention to steering to keep the boat going straight and not allow the waves to push us sideways. After a three day delay in West Port we finally got a weather window and headed out for New Port, Oregon. We again had multiple fuel issues, some heavy weather and rain. We did get some time of sun and wind which the crew enjoyed. The crew did well learning to live on little sleep and meals such as are possible to prepare underway ( minimal cooked meals on the stove to avoid pots flying across the galley). Lots of granola bars, beef jerky, fruit, can of chili or such. All of my virgin crew did well with taking their night watches. We had some pretty cold rainy nights. We were lucky to find a slip in Newport, Oregon at a four star hotel marina. The crew enjoyed the pool and hot tub. Also the town is a little historic port so they had time to stroll around, explore and relax. Meanwhile I continued to work on fuel filtering, running the engine for long periods trying to be pro active. I was having trouble with the starter solenoid and ended up rebuilding the starter. Later I was finally able to find a new one, so now had a spare. This seems to fix the problem, I started the engine repeatedly without fail. We finally got a weather window to leave New Port and headed down to Winchester Bay (twenty miles north of Coos Bay. At this point it became apparent that I would have to replace the whole starter as the problem returned and now needed an alternator to boot. I had a spare alternator on the boat and took all three items back up 50 miles to Newport to have them tested/rebuilt. They told me they were too old and all needed replaced. So to the tune of $750 I had a new starter and alternator. We had lost one crew member in Newport (Terry) and picked up another (Keith). Keith disappeared in Winchester Bay. I ended up having to wait for the new starter and alternator and then was once again stuck waiting for a weather window. I met a couple new friends on the dock (Miguel who might help get the boat down the Baja in December) and Jason who was starting a new venture in his life buying and fitting out a fishing boat. It is always interesting meeting folks along the way. Stan and Connie ran out of time, as I was not sure how long it was going to take to get the parts. Leiann came down to stay with me as she was already following me down the cost and was in Oregon. The coast guard had the bar completely closed the bar due to high swell and wind for days. Finally they opened it for commercial boats above 40 foot. I told Leiann as soon as they opened it for 30 and up I was heading out. Within minutes of that statement they opened it up and I headed out to cross the bar alone. As I passed the coast guard look out station they honked their horn at me. I did not know what to make of that so kept going. Then I thought I heard a siren behind me but thought maybe it was a fire truck or something. Then I looked way out over the bar and saw a huge breaking wave coming in. I tuned around and surfed it until it dissipated,, then turned again and headed out once more this time I made it out past the bar and big breaking waves. I then called the coast guard as I was in no position to call them earlier. Apparently they had thought my boat was not over the 30 foot minimum, so they were trying to stop me. They asked if I would be coming back soon and I said no I was headed to Mexico. I think they were going to give me a talking to if I returned. I made it down to Coos Bay and over the bar there without any trouble. I did some more work on the boat there and picked up two new crew members off Lat 38 magazine crew listings. We again waited for a decent weather opening and despite waiting, we still ended up with high winds and 15 foot following seas all night. Richard (one of my new crew) was a complete virgin so I could not put him at the helm in these seas, so me and Leo (my other new crew) steered thought the night making it into Crescent Bay, California. We had a couple of weird days of 80 degree weather there, which we really appreciated after being cold up north, staying two nights before heading out for Eureka, Cal. We headed out the next day for Fort Bragg, needing to get around the infamous Cape Mendocino. This time our weather report was a little better. It had predicted 15 to 18 knots, but we ended up with 22-24. One we got around the point things calmed down a bit and we made it into Fort Bragg at 4am. We waited for daylight and then navigated the bar and narrow channel in without issue. We spent two enjoyable days there. Leo left the boat here. I picked up another crewmen, Wes and we headed out the next day. From Fort Brag we day sailed down to Bodega Bay (just north of San Diego) and anchored over night and headed our early the next morning. On our way across the San Francisco delta bar we saw many Humpback whales breaching out of the water and ended up hitting one! At least that is the best explanation we could come up with. We had whales all around us and were in 300 foot of water. We were motoring along at 7 knots. All of a sudden it was as if we hit a sandbar, knocking our speed from 7 to 2. We put the boat in neutral and looked in the water for a log or something. We saw nothing, not blood, nothing. So a whale seems to be the only explanation. The boat seemed ok so we continued on to Half Moon Bay. We took on fuel in the morning and continued onto Monterrey. On the way we once again hit another whale. Exactly the same scenario, seeing nothing in the water, broad daylight, 300 feet of water, bringing the boat to a near full stop at 7 knots, motoring. We continued on to Morro Bay and planned a haulout to inspect the bottom as now we had a problem with the steering, later we discovered the second strike broke the rudder upper bearing. We hauled the boat the next day and to our relief the underside looked fine. There was paint missing at the front and bottom of the keel. We could see where the rudder had slammed back against the hull and knocked some paint off the bottom of the boat. The next day I cut the bottom of the cockpit out so that I could access the upper bushing. As it turned out the plywood that the upper bushing was attached to was dry rotted. This may have been a good thing as it allowed the rudder to move rather then break. We spent two days rebuilding the bushing with epoxy and fiberglass. After the repair was completed it was now much stronger then before. Hopefully it will last another forty years! We really enjoyed Morro Bay, despite the repairs, but if you have to fix your boat, nice to do it in a picturesclittle port town. We then headed out to get around the last of the capes going south, Cape Conception. It is at this point that the coast line turns east and the coast line becomes very dry and the temps warm up. We spent the night in a little protected anchorage around the point called Coho. Very early (4 am) we were up and headed for Ventura. We took off our sweatshirts and enjoyed a very nice sunny sail down the coast. As we passed Santa Barbra I was still amazed that the coast line was still barren of houses. The mountains come right up to the coast and Santa Barbara sits right on the edge with the only access to the town being up or down the coast. I never expected to see a place in California without houses but the California coast is surprisingly barren of trees and houses once you get around Cape Mendocino all the way down to Ventura and Oxnard. These are the first large buildings you see coming down the coast from San Francisco. And even in San Fran you cannot see the city from the sea so the coastline still looks very barren. We spent spent a couple days in Ventura before heading out to Santa Catalina Island. We day sailed to Catalina 70 miles arriving in the north of the island in the dark. The coast of the island has mooring balls all along it and coming in in the dark was a little confusing trying to find our way. We found a mooring ball and bedded down for the night. Early the next morning we took off for Avalon Bay in the south of the island. Avalon was (is)) the play ground for the rich and famous. Back in the roaring twenty's the Wrigley's family (as in gum) owned the island and had a famous theater built specifically for the invention of talking movies. Lots of history here of lavish parties back in the day. Most movie stars make it over to Catalina at some point. Leiann jumped on the Catalina Express and came over for a few hours. We wandered the town, had a nice dinner together and I put her back on the boat to Long Beach. After two nights in Avalon we set sail for San Diego, arriving just before dark. Leiann met us at the dock, having already paid for a slip for us. Wes had stayed over in Avalon as he did not make it back in time to catch the last water taxi. He met us in San Diego after he took the ferry over. Leiann had an Airbnb rented so last night we spent the night together after leaving the boys at the boat. I have a couple things to do to the boat before leaving for Ensenada. The crew is leaving the boat so it looks like I will be making the trip down to Ensenada alone. It’s only 60 miles so a day sail. I will put the boat in the Marina Hotel Coral and then take a bus back up to meet Leiann in Diego and then we will drive our car down. That is so we will have a car to run errands as I plan to do some work on the boat. We plan to have the boat at the hotel for a month, chill by the pool and just relax after a long trip south. In December we plan to rent a little house (casita) while we put the boat on the hard and paint it. Then somewhere around mid December I will sail down the Baja to La Paz and Leiann will fly down to meet me. We will get rid of the car before I leave Ensenada as we will not need it in La Paz. The plan at this point is to rent a little casita in La Paz, have the boat in the marina and be able to take it out on sails to the nearby islands for the season. Then put it on the hard for the summer as we head back to the US to see our grand kids and return the following winter to La Paz. Well at least that is the current plan. Stay tuned.