Pictures in the Gallery!
07 February 2019 | Barra De Navidad
So many stories will go untold but the pictures tell a thousand words.
Click on the gallery tab above and check out the Gold Coast 2019 pictures.
Lost on the Gold Coast
06 February 2019 | Barra De Navidad
Happiness is a never-ending series of good anchorages. What else can we say about the perfect conditions we have been enjoying South of Puerto Vallarta on the Mexican Gold Coast. Between Chamela Bay, Tenticatita, Barra De Navidad and a bunch of smaller anchorages in between, we have truly enjoyed our off-the-grid time.
What makes a good anchorage? A protected bay with minimal swell, a moderate surf so you can beach your dinghy without drama, clear 78 degree water for excellent snorkeling, bocce ball on the beach with fellow cruisers, a quaint beach palapa serving cold beer and fresh cocktail de cameron, long walks on the beach to wear the puppies out, good friends over for cockpit happy hour and 68 degree evenings for watching stars from the hammock on the bow.
We were thrilled to spend time with Alan and Diane Epperson from Amador County at their home in Perula on Chamela Bay. When we last visited Chamela in 2009 we missed them by a couple of days and committed ourselves to connect this time around. We joined the Eppersons and Martin and Diane Gates on a road trip to the volcano at Comala, about 2 hours in land from Manzanillo. One of our goals this trip was to get off the water more and get inland to see more of Mexico. The trip did not disappoint, with visits to small towns, great food and music, eclectic art, bird watching, coffee tasting and volcano hiking.
Sprinkle in a few two-hour sails back and forth to Barra for some marina and pool time, a super bowl party and re-provisioning and it's easy to see why people stay here for 6 months out of the year. It's that good.
Stupid Boat Tricks: "I told you so" edition
12 January 2019 | Chamela Bay
There's nothing quite like living with a person for almost 40 years...we finish each others sentences and some idea will pop into my head and 5 seconds later she suggests the same thing... She knows me better than I know myself sometimes, and more often than not, she is the voice of caution and reason while we are out sailing.
We had one of those moments on our trip from La Cruz down to Chamela Bay; while enjoying a beautiful downwind sail in 15-20 knots of balmy Mexican Riviera breeze, Rina reminded me that our two spare halyards were mounted to the bow pulpit. Sure enough I forgot to pull them back to the base of the mast prior to deploying the genoa, but caught it before fulling deploying the sail. I cleared one of the halyards and came back to the cockpit and Rina says "Are you going to clear the second one???" "No, we'll be on a port tack the entire trip, no problem!" 2 hours later as we furled in the jib with our trusty winch buddy (24V milwaukee drill with a right angle winch bit) the jib was not furling and before I new it I had blown the turning block that held the furling line. Upon further inspection, that second halyard that I was not worried about had gotten sucked up into the furling sail and fouled the normally easy process of bringing the sail in. To her credit, Rina did not rub my nose in it too much. One of these days I will learn!
On a much happier note we have enjoyed the last week in Chamela Bay, visiting with Amador County friends Diane and Alan Epperson, who own a beachfront house in Playa Perula at the north end of the Bay. The picture above was taken from their rooftop patio at sunset before a wonderful dinner.
La Cruz, MX: Musicians Heaven
06 January 2019 | Ana Banana's, La Cruz, Mexico
La Cruz Mexico, where aging expat musicians retire to play out their remaining days... Only half in jest.... the musical scene in La Cruz is vibrant, with plenty of venues to pick from every night of the week. Rina and I will pop our heads out of the boat, listen to the 3 competing bands playing in town and decide which one sounds best and then walk the quarter mile to listen. This band, average age 75, rocked the house at Ana Banana's, the local cruiser hangout, where you can get bad american cheeseburgers just like in the States! Great sound system, good lighting, an appreciative crowd and lots of cheap tequila make for a festive night out.
Another favorite hangout is Octopus's Garden,
featuring an eclectic mix of touring acts from Mexico and the States. Along with the "all you can eat" ribs night, hard to beat!
We are finally leaving the dock today, headed South to Chamela Bay, Barra De Navidad and Zihuatanejo over the coming weeks. Out of Marinas and off the grid again... yippee!
Supply Chain Interruptions
04 January 2019 | Global Gas, Puerto Vallarta
Propane is central to energy use in Mexico, especially since electricity is so expensive. It is used in virtually all houses and restaurants for cooking and heating water, so when propane distribution was interrupted, all hell broke loose. Restaurants were closing or changing their menu, local produce delivery trucks that run on propane were sidelined, and god forbid, the tourist hotels pools went un-heated. Here at the Marina, they have a guy that normally picks up our small empty tanks in the morning and returns them in the afternoon. Those tanks took 2 weeks to get returned at the peak of the disruption. Over the holidays, one rumor was that the new Mexican President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, wanted to reset propane prices to match the international market and the local distributors went on strike. Local media attributed it to maintenance at a local propane processing plant... whatever.... in our case, we heard that if you get to the local distributor at 6am, you might be one of the lucky ones to get the daily allocation. We arrived at 645am and there were already 100 people in line ahead of us. 3 hours later we had our propane, even as the line had swelled to 500 behind us. No problemo, time we have plenty of...
Happy Birthday Rina!
02 January 2019 | Coral Street in La Cruz, MX
After days of having the boat torn up with projects, we needed a nice night out and found a wonderful restaurant in La Cruz called Masala, serving Indian infused fresh mexican dishes. A great example was Rina's beet and pear salad with a raspberry vinaigrette. Presentation was excellent and Rina was in heaven, especially since it was paired with a bottle of Moet and Chandon Bubbly. Happy Birthday!
Out With The Old, In With The New
31 December 2018 | La Cruz, Banderas Bay, MX
This is how we spent our New Years Eve.... Yanking out the old exhaust hose and installing the new one. Nothing like contorting your body into un-natural positions in tiny compartments in 90% humidity and and carving up the old hose to rip it out. The 3" hose has really strong wire running through it, precipitating the use of my favorite new tool, a Milwaukee Hackzall,
, to make quick work of removing the pipe in smaller sections. We were concerned that getting the new , more rigid hose in would be difficult given the many tight corners and small passages we had to navigate, but with Steve's expertise and 3 sets of hands it went pretty smoothly.
So Where Did We leave Off?
24 December 2018 | Entering Banderas Bay
When we last checked in we were leaving La Paz for our eventual crossing of the Sea of Cortez to Puerto Vallarta. Our original plan was to head for Mazatlán for Christmas and New Year's, but we were craving the warmth of Banderas Bay so decided to hop down from La Paz to Muertos and Frailes and then cross the sea over 2 days just before Christmas. Day 1 was yet again a lot of motoring, but the wind built in and we had 24 hours of glorious sailing and entered the bay at first light on Christmas eve. We were welcomed by a stunning sunrise and had our anchor down by 9am in the La Cruz anchorage and caught up on our sleep.
La Cruz is a sailor's dream, with a boat yard, fish market, chandlery, cheap taco stands and several bars that play live music till the wee hours of the night. As I write this, I can hear a local Mexican band playing classic rock covers, with a lady drummer who absolutely rocks the house on both a djembe and a full kit, to a quartet of geriatric American expats covering pink Floyd *very* well, to a traditional Mexican brass band, including a tuba player, punching out classic ranchero ballads.
The village of La Cruz is an old school cobblestone village, with a central square that is the focal point for families, tourists, full-time expats and cruisers alike. Restaurants and bars surround the square, with a wide variety of activities to take in. With a night-time temperature of 80F it's pretty sweet hanging in town just taking it all in.
One of the bummers of our crossing was confirmation that our exhaust leak was in fact NOT fixed. While the volume of water spilling into the bilge was reduced with my last repair, it became clear that our 15' of exhaust hose for the main engine was continuing to leak water into the boat. After consulting with a couple of mechanics it became clear that after 3000 hours of service, the exhaust system needed to be replaced. The good news was that the 3" exhaust hose was available locally and a local mechanic was available to help me rip out the old and install the new. Over 3 days in oppressively humid heat, we replaced the exhaust hose and (knock on wood) got our dry bilge back. Upon inspection of the removed hose it was clear that fatigue had weakened the hose throughout, creating several leaks and many leaks to come. BIG thanks to Steve Willy and his son Ely for working with me on this project.
"Along for the Ride"
08 December 2018 | Todos Santos, MX
As Adam came aboard and we asked what he wanted to do, he said he was just along for the ride and wanted to experience what we do out here... No playing tourist, no charter ride here.... We had lazy mornings, lots of down time and no itinerary. Just enough walking the beach, hiking and snorkeling to generate hunger for Rina's awesome cooking. Adam was as easy and natural a guest as we have had aboard... Today we *did* play a little tourist, hitting Todos Santos on the way to the airport and Adam got the quintessential Todos Santos t-shirt.
Come back any time Bud!
Rina heads to San Diego next week for Megan's Bridal dress shopping and brunch and I get to hang out here with the mutts doing absolutely NOTHING. We then make the 200 mile Sea of Cortez crossing to Mazatlan for Christmas and New Years Eve, hanging out at the El Cid Marina and resort for an amazing party. We will then make our way down the coast to Puerto Vallarta and the gold coast in search of that warm weather again.
Who's joining us next? [Blake]...
Jammin in the Rain
08 December 2018 | Balandra State Park
Watch Adam and I on YouTube!
After a passage through the San Lorenzo Channel which had us motoring through the nicest rain yesterday (of course it helps to be in a state-of-the-art vessel with snug fitting canvas, clear plastic window panels and big tooth heavy duty YKK zippers), the comfort of being in a rain storm and completely dry on the water is almost indescribable. Conducive to semi muted conversations, periods of just gazing out across the waters...a whale breaches in the distance. Time well spent.
The geography of the Baja Peninsula and the islands in the Sea of Cortez are quite desert like. Saguaro, cholla and prickly pear cactus so reminiscent of the environment of the Southwest where I love to backpack...the canyons of Utah and the mountains of New Mexico...each plant spaced sufficiently apart from one another so as to garner the moisture it needs for sustenance. But here, the juxtaposition of the desert islands with the lush fish and live coral is spectacular.
The barren hilltops seem to invite wandering thought...free flowing ideas, a kaleidoscope of faces, places, ideas for music and the gentle peeling back of the layers on my psyche. Getting to play guitar with Allan as he cranks out the rhythms on various instruments was pure joy. We found out just as I was leaving home that our band, Four For the Road has a booking back in the Volcano Amphitheater on August 9, 2019. Allan is planning on being back in the county for some period during summer, so we have one more concert to perform...something to look forward to. Music still matters.
As my week-long interface winds down ... floating ... just floating ... allows me to admit just how much I needed a change of scenery...per Allan's suggestion. I don't need a vacation from my life...but to access this new world for me was just what the doctor ordered nonetheless. These sensations beget more of same. Lucky for Allan and Rina that I have a return ticket to Sacramento. Saves them the trouble of having to tell me to not let the cabin door hit me in my ... er, well ... you catch my drift.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, concludes my gratitude attack du jour.
08 December 2018 | Ensenada Grande, Isla Partida
[Sorry, but we never get tired of sunsets... even if the pics do not do them justice. While we did not get to sail much, the side benefit is full batteries and full fresh water tanks thanks to the water maker-Ed]
Leaving San Everisto, we turn south and will slowly make our way back towards La Paz. Nothing but 5-10 knot head winds heading north meant being under power the whole way. Sails were unfurled to smooth the ride, an all too common occurrence in the Sea. So...when you turn south, the winds should be at your back, right? Ha! No such luck. Out here, you are at the mercy of Mother Nature. Should she decide to grace you with favorable tail winds...you sail. Otherwise, you motor.
The four-cylinder turbo-diesel motor in this yacht requires no cranking. I mean none! Turn the key, hit the starter button and instant fire. When one has spent four and a half decades dealing with various vehicles of varying vintages, reliability and engine sizes, you can't help but be in awe of an engine that fires as readily as this one and purrs equally through chop and flat seas alike. A throw back to the Iron Age...and reassuring as hell! I am told she is stingy with fuel too. [0.86 gallons per hour to be exact! -Ed]
So with no appreciable winds, we motored to Caleta Pardita for some exploration before settling into one of the bays on Isla Pardita to spend the night. Plenty of birdlife along the way. The omnipotent gulls and pelicans are everywhere of course...the Kamikaze style of head-first fishing of these pelicans never gets old. Gives me a headache to even contemplate hitting the water at those speeds. Can't argue with nature's efficacy though. High above are vultures, soaring hawks and frigates with their improbable huge wingspans and distinctive forked tails. I was even treated to a sighting of some Blue-footed Boobies...as colorful and startling as any shorebird.
So, at age 63, another first: snorkeling. This followed a humorous 'for-the-record' recording of me doing a little demonstration of water aerobics in my 'satellite' venue. Normally taught in the pool at New York Fitness in Jackson, CA...I had purposely brought along a flotation belt and my hosts graciously provided music...appropriately, Phil Collin's "Follow You, Follow Me" for my brief workout. Will post on Facebook for the commensurate laughs.
Having never been a strong swimmer, the notion of fins, a mask and breathing tube took some getting use to. However, the rewards of viewing the underwater wonderland is what it is all about. All those years my dad kept a 55-gallon tropical fish tank is but a pittance example of the rich underwater worlds that exist. It was fitting that Allan and Rina curated my first experience. Each day a blessing, each moment something to savor...
Pulling up anchor and continuing south so as to be in striking distance of La Paz where we will return to the marina a day ahead of my departure from Cabo back home, we traveled right into the most beautiful rainstorm...big wet drops in mild mid 60 degree temps...and the rain continues here in our current anchorage of a protective bay of Puerto Balandra on the La Paz Peninsula. Canvas and plastic window panels are up. We're dry and comfortable, enjoying various activities, the checking of weather, reading, foraging and exercising my blog entry privileges...I am once again reminded...
"It's nice to have the kind of life that you don't need to take a vacation from..."
Sleepy San Everisto
06 December 2018 | San Everisto
Pretty simple concepts, really...an extension of how I have been living my life these past nine months. I eat when I'm hungry, sleep when I'm tired...and outside of a few commitments each week where I am expected to be somewhere, life similarly here on the waters of the "Sea" as my hosts have shortened it...follows this pattern.
If you can't get comfortable aboard "Follow You, Follow Me" - it's your own damn fault. Plenty of cushions, a brand-new mattress on the guest aft berth bed, proper lighting for reading, clean surfaces, a human scale Feng Shui layout to the cabin, galley and cockpit all conspire to enhance the experience. Oh...and plenty of teak wood. The aesthetics here are incredible.
As for the food, Rina's preparation of the provisioned goods is simply top shelf. The perfect alchemy of ingredients and spices sate the fussiest of palates. Believe me...I do enough cooking...bordering on a foodie mentality to appreciate the flavors she produces. Hungry on this vessel? Just wait for the next happy hour and full-flavored meal to follow. In our family, we call it an embarrassment of riches. Allan and Rina just seem to take it all in stride.
A friend recently said to me, "It's nice to have the kind of life that you don't need to take a vacation from..." The Alexopulos' embody this concept. Long careers, hard work, dues paid have now rewarded their vision and passion.
We left Isla San Francisco and continued north to San Everisto, one of the only villages we'd encounter on this trip, tucked into the back of another curved bay -- so typical of the anchorages on both the coasts and islands of the Sea of Cortez. The crude construction of the huts on the beach with thatched roofs or corrugated tin, provide shade and areas on the beach for fish cleaning. The Sierra de la Gigante mountains rise up dramatically behind town, giving it an added sense of protection from the outside world. Though only 49miles from La Paz as the crow flies, we might as well have been on the moon for the seeming lack of external influences.
The panganeros head out at different times during the day to catch fish for their sustenance. It is a time-honored tradition, born of necessity --steeped in simplicity. It reminds me of the movie "Local Hero" - the hustle and bustle of urban life in Houston Texas, juxtaposed against the austere lifestyle of a small coastal town in Ireland. My hosts and I will rent and watch this movie on Friday night, back in the harbor at La Paz.
We take the dogs to the beach via the dinghy and walk quietly, slowly...each of us enjoying the quietude and the ability to hold our thoughts in reverence. Once again, a product of the luxury of time...that un-renewable resource, becoming a more precious commodity as we age. These floating nights are conducive to solid, sensory deprived sleeping.
Hanging in the Islands
06 December 2018 | Isla San Francisco
[Talk about having an anchorage to yourself! Most of the fleet has crossed over to Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta to follow the warmth. While cooler, it's still a pleasant 75-80 every day and low 60's overnight. -Ed]
Anchored in the bay of Isla San Francisco, I am able to suspend my normal reality and just be. This goes beyond the realm of a vacation. This is a state of mind…a stream of consciousness we so rarely are able to access in our daily lives. I recognize this rarefied opportunity and as the hedonistic/opportunistic (thank you for this handle, Tom Deerfied) guy that I am, I will not squander my experience. Each moment of each day shall be savored…
Hiking Isla San Francisco
05 December 2018 | Isla San Francisco
So now, beginning my third day of floating with this couple on a magnificently appointed yacht, with every safety feature accounted for, the most up-to-date and state of the art electronic devices designed for maximum efficiency, navigation, weather, desalinization processors, monitoring of systems etc…it enables the uninitiated guest like myself to enjoy the visuals, the audio (not just as nature provides it, but my hosts’ most excellent taste in music too) the food as well as the luxury of time to allow each day to morph from morning to midday to night and then to cycle through again, seamlessly.
A Change of Scenery
04 December 2018 | Isla San Francisco
To follow your instincts, make a decision on the 'spur of the moment' is almost always the best methodology for arriving at a conclusion. When Allan and Rina were pulling out of my driveway in Volcano, CA back in June following our gig in the Volcano amphitheater...themselves heading down to San Diego and the next phase of their lives, Allan told me to seriously consider joining them aboard the s/v Follow You Follow Me for a week-long sail on the Sea of Cortez. The notion immediately resonated with me. Both of them were privy to my transitional stage of life and he knowingly stated "Come December, you're going to need a change of scenery."
After a flight from Sacramento to Cabo San Lucas, my hosts drove from La Paz to pick me up for the two-hour drive back to Marina Cortez where they were moored. Mild 75-degree weather was the first reminder that this wasn't early winter in Amador County. The last time I had been aboard their sailing vessel was in the South Beach Harbor marina next to AT&T Park in 2015 when our band mate, Dave Holob and I played the National Anthem for a whole bunch of Giants fans on a Saturday night game. (The Giants came from behind to win, thank you.)
But now I was privileged to sail with this veteran husband and wife team. They had completed the Baja Ha-Ha run from San Diego and were are on the front end of a several year, open ended plan to enjoy their hard earned sabbatical. It was like being given a front row seat to an unfurling script of two extremely compatible and loving best friends, embarking on a somewhat uncharted grand adventure. For this week, three adults (and two small dogs) on a 46-foot sailboat enables everyone to get to know each other intimately and quickly. I remember a friend from the Delta who once said "Getting an invite onto our boat is damn near impossible, but once aboard...the sky's the limit."
And Now for Someone Completely Different
03 December 2018 | La Paz, MX
Rina and Adam in front of the La Paz sign on the bayside Malecon.
Rina and I hosted good friend and fellow Over the Edge bandmate Adam Gottstein this week and spent the the entire week up in the islands above La Paz and in the village of San Everisto. Since he’s a MUCH better writer than I am, and I can’t yet get Rina to write anything, I invited Adam to be our guest blogger in residence. Enjoy…
23 November 2018 | Marina Palmira, La Paz, MX
There's nothing worse than that feeling when you see a creepy crawly cockroach scooting across your counter.... We had 2 close calls over the last couple of days when re-provisioning where they snuck aboard on the bottom of grocery bags. We were out of shape... forgot that we needed to check every bottle, can, bag for freeloaders.... we have been MUCH more vigilant. Last time we were in Mexico we had a small infestation that took weeks to eradicate.
Joe's Apartment - If you don't mind mindless entertainment and gross-out humor, it's kind of fun. The girls grew up singing the many funky songs
in the movie...
Happiness is a Dry Bilge! Now let's get out of Dodge...
22 November 2018 | Marina Palmira, La Paz, MX
We arrived at Marina Palmira in La Paz on Wednesday for a 3 day stay and immediately got to work on our maintenance and repair list.
In a classic Mexican marina move, a friendly local guy with good english skills caught our dock lines on the way in, introducing himself and suggesting that he could wash, wax and polish everything on your boat. Javier was a good guy and helped us find a source to replenish our soda water CO2 tank after an unfortunate leak drained it a couple days ago. So I asked him if he could clean and polish the shrouds to remove some corrosion called out in our last rig inspection. Javier said he could do it and we scheduled it for the next day. When morning arrived Javier introduced a young kid who he said would do the work. Classic switcharoo.... I asked him if he had ever been up a mast before.... Of course not! After a short re-negotiation we trained the kid on how to clean the corrosion with stainless steel wool and polish. 6 hours later we have a shiny corrosion free rig!
Then we went foraging for the right parts to repair the damaged exhaust hose and after visiting several marine chandleries had replacement hose, fittings and clamps.... First, however we decided to simply cut the end off the hose and refit it. This solves the immediate problem and with the spare hose, if it pops a leak further up on the hose, I have what I need to do a more comprehensive replacement of the slowly fatiguing 3" hose.
So how did it fail? The exhaust from the Yanmar 4JH3TE diesel engine mixes with cooling water exiting the engine and moving through a muffler and about 15 foot of 3" exhaust hose, including a loop 2' tall before attaching to the thru-hull just above the water line. Water accumulates in the hose until there is enough pressure to push it up and over the loop and out the thru-hull. As the water pushes over it vibrates the hose, with about 3-4" of play. After 2950 engine hours, it finally opened up several holes. To stop the flexing I attached several mount points to the surrounding structure and zip tied the crap out of the hose so that there is now less than an inch of travel at the top of the loop and almost none down where the failure was. Should hold up fine and the only remaining risk is that the fatigue has weakened the hose somewhere else in that loop. Now that I have the parts to repair that, I'm *sure* it won't fail again.
We also took the opportunity to hit the grocery store, change the engine oil, refill propane tanks, replace fuel filters, tighten transmission bolts and a bunch of other small stuff that accumulates on a typical cruising sailboat. In between all of this we have been meeting other cruisers on the dock and catching up with old friends from our last cruise 10 years ago. With an exchange rate of 20 pesos to the dollar, most things are very inexpensive... 5-6 bags of groceries was about 50 bucks! Rina said that would cost at least 200 bucks in California, and that included a couple six packs of beer.... I think we can get used that, although the mark up on the marine parts negated part of that savings....
Tomorrow we are heading up to our favorite islands above La Paz. There are over 10 anchorages at Isla Partida and Isla Espiritu Santo and the weather looks to be great for a week of snorkeling, kayaking, SUPing and hiking. These islands also get some of the best sunsets....
Remember Job 1? FAIL!!
21 November 2018 | Balandra
Living on a boat can be a very humbling experience.... You think you fixed something, only to be wrong, wrong, wrong.... The fact that I fixed 2 leaks, only to still have a bunch of water in the bilge was frustrating... It's not just A leak, but multiple leaks....grrrr....
We arrived in Balandra yesterday, turned off the motor and then listened to our bilge spew several gallons of water out of the thru-hull... So much for a relaxing afternoon in one of the most scenic anchorages
in the Sea of Cortez. One new hint to the possible leak was that the water was salt, not fresh, and warm. Salt means either then engine or a thru-hull leak, warm, narrows it down to the engine. I inspected the muffler and all the exhaust hose under the aft berth and then went diving into the aft lazarette where the hose terminates at a thru-hull. Sure enough, the connection to the thru-hull had fatigued enough to open several holes. It clearly had been there awhile and I kicked myself for not checking it more closely earlier. In my last inspection I did not move a couple of line bags that hid where the water was spraying against the hull and then running into the bilge. After moving the line bags the evidence was clear.... Thanks to my stash of Rescue Tape I was able to make a temporary repair so that we can get to La Paz and splice in a new section of exhaust hose. Very much looking forward to a sweaty morning in the lazarette repairing this thing....
RCA is under way Nate... ;-)
Sunset at Muertos
20 November 2018 | Ensenada de Las Muertos
For the last several days we have been chilling in Ensenada de los Muertos, with not much to do but walk the beach with the dogs, read, nap, swim, eat at the very isolated but wonderful Restaurant 1535 and watch sunsets. We made an attempt at a maintenance list but never quite gathered the motivation to complete it. Actually felt good being such slackers, and sooo out of character! It was the first true extended down time in what seems like an eternity.
After a couple of days though, I could not help myself, diving on the boat to clean the growing green film of algae on the undersides, freeing the anchor chain that had wedged itself under a rock and otherwise puttering around the boat. Once we decided to head to La Paz to provision, Rina's list-making kicked back into gear and we made plans to depart for Playa Balandra, about 45 miles up into the Sea of Cortez. We now have a list of maintenance items that will keep us busy for the 3 days we will be at Marina Palmira in La Paz. It's been 10 years since we were last in La Paz, and we're getting excited to see what has changed. It's one of our favorite cities in Mexico, not too touristy, a great waterfront malecon that is very much a part of local family life and a sailing community that blends well with the locals. This will be home base for the next month or two while we head up to the islands above La Paz to explore, host guests and have a quiet Christmas.
Job 1- keep water out of the boat. Job 2-Keep the dogs in the boat
15 November 2018 | San Jose Del Cabo
This is the first test of remote posting via satphone. Ever try to write a story on an iPad? Not easy. I see a wireless keyboard in our future!
We have been delayed heading north due to high winds heading up to La Paz so we are hanging out in San Jose Del Cabo with a bunch of other boats waiting for things to lighten up on Friday. In the meantime we did a couple of projects. Water persistently set off the bilge on the way down the Baja coast and we diagnosed two causes; one was the air vent to the drip less shaft seal squirting water during hard reverse and the second was a leak in the water maker flush line where a clamp was not as tight as it should have been. We'll see if that's the end of it once we bash up to Frailes tomorrow. Rina got her trusty Sailrite sewing machine out and did a repair of some shade covers and added a puppy net to the stern step to stop Leeloo from falling out of the boat underway. Chris Hagen, Haha crew extraordinaire, will be pleased.
Why the mesh and canvas? The original design was simply blue sunbrella canvas to help keep the stern light from killing our night vision and reduce diesel fumes from coming in the cockpit after deflecting off our dinghy hung on the stern davits. The original design was a simple flap, so that when we get pooped (water crashing into our cockpit from behind us) the flap opens up and the water flows out. Add puppies and that design does not work so well, and given Leeloo the klutz likes to hide out under there, we needed a solution that did not compromise the ability to drain the cockpit quickly. We used the same plastic netting we put around the bottom half of our lifelines and snapped it to the step and we're all good! Happy Chris?
Bright Lights, Big City
13 November 2018 | San Jose Del Cabo
sv Follow You nearing the famous arch at Cabo San Lucas. Thanks to Jennifer on Redeemed for the pic!
We arrived in Cabo San Lucas a couple of days ago and were one of only 13 boats to get a slip in the Cabo San Lucas Marina.... Bit of a mixed bag, as our slip was right at a choke point in the marina where pangas shuttled tourists in and out to the famous arch all day and evening. Even better, the fishing boats have a very different definition of "no wake". We might as well had been out in the anchorage given the rough water. Still, it was worth it so we could give the boat a wash down and have unlimited power for a couple of days. Normally the marina is able to fit 70-80 boats in but this year there was a big fishing tournament going on and a couple of superyachts taking up most excess space.
Now that the Haha is over we are getting off the grid for a couple of weeks, no schedule, no marinas.... we'll slowly be making our way up towards La Paz, stopping at Bahia Los Frailes, Bahia de la Muertos, Puerto Balandra and Isla Partida before heading into La Paz to re-provision and pick up good friend and fellow musician Adam Gottstein for a week of R&R and music in December.
Go Big or Go Home
11 November 2018 | Cabo San Lucas
One of several superyachts in the Marina in Cabo...
Attessa tried to fire up the helicopter and had security all over him in minutes. So instead he headed out to the anchorage to take off. And this was the *small* superyacht in the marina... MV Here Comes the Sun, at 273 feet, took up 3/4s of the fuel dock. Rumors run rampant that it was Paul McCartneys yacht but a simple google search
revealed that it was yet another Russian oligarch's play toy.
7 Days, 575 Miles and 1 Darwinian Moment
05 November 2018 | Bahia Santa Maria
After 5 days at sea bisected by 2 days in the village of Bahia Tortuga (Turtle Bay) we anchored in the even smaller village of Bahia Santa Maria last night at 1800 hours, just as darkness fell. For those looking for the village on a map it's at 24.46.60N, 112.15.46W.
But let's back up...
We left San Diego in overcast conditions with little to no wind forecast. In these conditions rally leaders normally call for a rolling start until the wind builds in, typically in the afternoon. Unfortunately, the wind never did build in and we motored for the next 24 hours until we finally were able to turn the engine off and get some sailing in, running the code zero light-air sail, making 6-7 knots for about 6 hours until the wind died in the evening. We motored overnight again and arrived in Turtle Bay just after dark the next day. We anchored as 50 of the remaining fleet of 150 boats continued to funnel into the expansive bay as 10-12 knots of land-effect wind kept our anchor chain taut. It's this last fact that led to one of the stupidest things I have done on a boat in a long time.
Because it was dark, we put these little puck LEDs on the stern seats to make us more visible to the arriving boats. Well, one of them fell into the water and started floating away in the wind. Here's the stupid part. Instead of letting a $5 light, for which I had ample spares, float away, I decided to jump into the dinghy and retrieve it. Normally this would not be a problem, as the trusty 9.9hp Nissan 2 stroke fires right up and I could easily retrieve the light and return to the boat. But because we were at sea, instead the motor was on its mount on the starboard side rail and all I had was paddles to get back. "No Problem!" my addled brain thinks, just grab a paddle and come back to the boat. Instead, the building breeze conspired to drag me further out of the bay. I would paddle furiously during a lull, getting within 30 feet of the boat and just out of reach of the crew throwing me a line, only to be driven back out. Finally, I figured out I was going to have to rig both paddles in the oar locks to overcome the wind. Did I mention that I had never rigged the oar locks on this new dinghy? So there I am, attempting to rig the paddles in the oar locks in the dark as I float out to sea. Once rigged it took 30 minutes of furious rowing to get me close enough to the boat so the crew could throw me a line. The crew was pretty worried at one point and was ready to pull the anchor to come get me. And I did have other options, such as paddling to other boats that were down wind and asking for a ride back to my boat, but the sheer embarrassment of those scenarios made me row that much faster. Still, pretty bad decision-making on my part.
On a happier note, the boat and the crew have all been performing very well, especially considering how much motoring we have had to do over the first two legs of the rally. Long-droning motors make sailors cranky. 92 total hours under way, of which only 15 or so were under sail. With 4 good sailors aboard, we have been able to each cover a two hour watch with 6 hours off to catch up on sleep. Meals have been fantastic, and all other systems have had healthy workouts without any problems.
Over the next two days we will rest up and attend a party on the bluff here... a 5 piece band travels 18 hours from La Paz to play for tips and the local panga fishermen's wives sell fish tacos, rice and beans for 10 bucks a plate. It's surreal to see 600 people on this cliff out in the middle of nowhere rocking out, drinking beer and eating tacos.
Now we are off to the beach, which is 9 miles long, to give the dogs a good workout. After a couple of days pooping on a 2 x 3' piece of artificial turf on the heaving midship deck, they are ready for land!
The picture above is the crew enjoying their first beers off the boat in Turtle Bay.
02 November 2018 | Turtle Bay
One of the great things about the Baja Haha rally is how the fleet marshalls resources to support the villages we visit. In Turtle Bay they are BIG on baseball. So big, in fact, that they have put in a 1000 seat stadium with artificial turf to support the local teams. When the fleet comes to town we play a softball game against and with the local kids, sell hotdogs and donate the proceeds to local teams and donate a bunch of equipment... gloves, balls, bats, masks, uniforms, etc to support the local leagues. There were 500 people in the stands and a long line of batters waiting to take as many swings as needed until they get a hit. In Bahia Santa Maria we donate school supplies and other goods the locals can rarely get given the isolation of their village.... It's several hours drive at low tide just to get to the nearest town with stores.
"So Here's The Plan"
28 October 2018 | San Diego
"So Here's The Plan"
Those words still make daughters Megan and Alyssa shudder.... It usually meant that dad had had a bunch of stuff for them to do or all the travel logistics worked out. So here is an overview of the plan both short and long term...
The Next Two Weeks
700 Miles and 2 stops on the way to Cabo San Lucas, MX. We are heading out Monday morning as part of the Baja Haha Cruisers Rally
with ~160 other sailboats. We have done this trip twice before, once in 2006 on Alaska Eagle, a famous "round the world" race winner that had been converted into a training ship by the Orange Coast College in Newport Beach. Having owned our boat for only 3 years, that trip taught us that we could do this sailing thing, and it inspired us to plan our cruise in 2008 on our own boat. In 2008 we did the Ha-Ha and made lifelong friends along the way. Very much looking to repeat that dynamic this trip, and with 7 boats here at Pier 32 doing the trip, we've already made friends.
The Next Two Months
We plan on spending a couple months in the Sea of Cortez decompressing, enjoying the fall weather, reading, kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling and eating wonderful and inexpensive mexican food in La Paz and the small villages in the Sea of Cortez.
The Next Year
We will head south to Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, Barra De Navidad and Zihuatanejo for various sailing rallies and other social events and just hang out with the cruising community.
The following two years
The current plan, subject to change, is to cross the pacific to French Polynesia, Tonga and Fiji, getting to hang out with Alyssa in Northern Fiji on their charter catamaran Quixotic
One day, one hour, 10 minutes and 1 second to departure, BUT WHO'S COUNTING!
Volume 2, Episode 1 of Boats Break!!
24 October 2018 | San Diego
Welcome to another season of Boats Break!
Volume 1 from the archive has a wealth of fun entries in the "fixing boats in a series of exotic ports" vein. In our inaugural episode of this season, we have not even left the dock yet and we discovered unexpected water in the bilge... not a good sign.
While in Mission Bay Rina and I both noticed a stream of water coming from the bilge pump outlet. We both tune into the sounds of the boat, and anything unusual is a cause for immediate investigation. Those instincts have been dormant for many years, but they return immediately once we are on the water. Since it was not much water and there were no obvious leaks we decided to dig deeper once we returned to our slip.
We started at the bow, checking every thru-hull valve and hose.... The pressurized fresh water system was not cycling on its own, so it could not be that. No leaks from the shower or sump pumps. Same for the thru-hulls in the aft bilge. As we were looking at the thru-hulls under the Mastervolt genset, we noticed small speckles of salt on the insulation. Hmmmm, a clue. After checking all the hoses to/from the engine, exhaust manifolds we found it... a hairline crack on a fiberglass 90 degree fitting on the genset exhaust. First call was to my favorite marine supplier in San Diego, Dave Wicks at Southern California Marine. Luckily, he had the exact part I needed in stock. A short trip later and I proceeded to swap out the elbow. But of course it was jammed tight between the genset and a bulkhead and the only way to get the new one on was to jack up the genset with a bunch of wood to get enough clearance to fit the part. As luck would have it, by pulling all the sound covers off the genset I found another leak, which I was able to fix by merely tightening the clamp down.
And so it goes living aboard a 16 year old boat.... Even though we have refreshed and meticulously maintained all her systems, we can expect breakage like this along the way. We combat that with both redundancy (3 different ways to produce electricity, for example) and ample spares for all major systems. In fact, we have upped the depth of our spares given the age of the engine, genset and other systems.
As noted earlier I enjoy that part of the challenge. Rina not so much, even if she will admit she's pretty good at thinking through the redundancy and spares process and is especially good at problem solving when stuff does go wrong. In fact, she's better at it than I am. While I tend to look past the simple explanations for problems (is it plugged in? duh) she has a great ability to methodically think through things and come up with creative solutions.... It's one of the best parts of our partnership on the boat.
5 Days, 0 hours, 15 minutes and 46 seconds till go-time! ... but who's counting...
Ps. Yes, I have some corrosion management to do on those bolts ;-}
Goodbyes are HARD
23 October 2018 | San Diego
Both Rina and I are going through it.... goodbye to family, goodbye to a friends on the dock, hell, goodbye to the dock! We'll be mostly anchoring out for the next 5-6 months so having simple stuff like unlimited electricity and water will be a thing of the past. Work goodbyes are also hard... I've really enjoyed the ride at ServiceMax and made many good friends over the last 4+ years here. I've led an organization of ~40 software consultants, project managers and practice leaders and truly enjoyed it. It's been tough to extract myself from the day to day, but as we close in on the last week, both my email and phone have become eerily quiet.... looking forward to more of THAT!
Rina had a similar time extracting herself from her job several months ago. Over 10+ years she had become a fountain of knowledge and master of nuance. After several months of supporting the team remotely, they finally have moved up the learning curve and new (and returning) leaders have taken her place.
5 days, 22 hours, 55 minutes, 36 seconds to go (according to Rina) but who's counting!
21 October 2018 | Mission Bay
Rina and I decided we needed to get out of the Marina this weekend to shake down the boat and ourselves before departing next Monday on the HaHa. There have been so many moving parts over the summer that ensuring that everything and the both of us work in concert was not a foregone conclusion.
Will the newly installed impeller and speed seal hold? (yes) Is the genset RPM problem solved? (yes) Will that newly installed impeller not disintegrate like the last one? (not yet) Is the genset dieseling problem solved? (No) And what about those new batteries? Will they hold a charge? (yes) Is the Iridium Go satellite phone working? (yes) Can I get weather information at sea? (yes) Will the dogs adapt to life aboard? (Teva yes, Leeloo - maybe) Will Rina and get back into that cruising groove where we naturally team up to run the boat efficiently. (So far, so good)
It's been 10 years since our last long range cruise so there is lots to prove out with both the boat and ourselves. For those new to our blog or those who are not familiar with the cruising lifestyle, there is ALWAYS stuff to do and stuff to worry about.... Frankly, It's part of the challenge that I (Rina? Not so much!) find rewarding... So many variables... lot's of highs to be sure, but some drudgery as well. What, you say? It's not all peaches and cream out on the water? Remind me of that while we are changing leaking seals on the head macerator in a rolling anchorage. That sea story, among many others can be found in the archives from our cruise in 2008-2010. Life on the water can also be humbling, with my share of stupid boat tricks.
also well documented in the archives.
We are hanging out in Mariners Basin in Mission Bay with Megan and Anthony, living on solar power and managing the electrical resources such that we only have to run the genset every couple of days.... Thanks to changing to all LED lights, most of our Audio/video and laptops to DC power, and new door seals on our fridge/freezer, the boat is more efficient than it's ever been. We also got to try out new toys, including our Isle Inflatable Paddle Board. So far so good... no falls, but I'm feeling the effects of sitting on phone calls for the last 4 years and not enough exercise. Boat life forces you to get into a shape, and we are both looking forward to the more active lifestyle. We leave in 8 days, but who's counting.
15 October 2018 | San Diego
In more ways than one.... While Rina was literally taking stock of the pantry under the settee and doing meal planning for our passages down the Baja coast, we also took time to figuratively do so while spending time with daughter Megan this weekend. Megan and her fiance Anthony, who live here in San Diego, have been constant companions since we sailed down from San Francisco Bay in March. We have truly enjoyed being able to drop by regularly and be a part of their lives. With only two weeks to departure, we will enjoy as much time together as we can.