Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we debated about staying in La Paz until after Thanksgiving so that we could celebrate with the other cruisers here. The call of the sea won. We left CostaBaja marina after saying goodbye to dock mates. I am sure some of them we will meet up with again, and others we will never see again. Kind of sad really when you think about all of the nice people in the world that could easily become friends and yet everyone is on their own journey. These journeys may intersect or not at some point in time. I think about those intersections a lot and how some are fleeting and others are enduring.
Russ and I for instance when we were young, lived parallel journeys attending the same high school, not knowing one another or even seeing one another, but our paths intersected one day over a hundred miles away. The rest you might say is history. What if we hadn’t met that day? Would we be on this sailboat traveling around the world? What would we be doing? I guess as we approach tomorrow, we are ever so thankful to have met, had a wonderful family, and an opportunity to live our dreams together.
When we left La Paz, the wind was right on our nose along with a 3-4 foot fetch. We had commented on the rocking horse boats leaving La Paz when we had entered a week previous. Now we were beating our way out with salty waves spraying over the bow. There was a dark overcast.
Had we been in the San Francisco Bay it would have been pretty miserable, but in 78 degrees in Mexico…not so much. We had gotten a late start and decided that sailing all the way to Ensenada de los Muertos would have made for a night landfall. We entered Ballandras Bay only about 15 miles from La Paz and anchored close to the north east bluffs to get out of the wind. Even with the flopper stopper (gismo that hangs off our spinnaker pole into the water that moderates the sidewise rock), we rocked around most of the night. We were the only boat in the bay. We think everyone else was in port getting their turkeys ready. We watched a DVD called The Trouble with Angels with Rosalind Russell and Haley Mills. This is the DVD from which Julia Sweeny in her one woman monolog, Letting Go of God, quotes Haley Mills in saying, “I have a scathingly brilliant idea!” Julia’s performance was brilliant, the DVD was not.
Thursday, November 26, 2009 - Happy Thanksgiving
We got an early start on Thanksgiving morning. The wind and sea had died down considerably. We motor sailed north/northeast during the morning. As we looked northward ,we counted an armada of power boats strung out across the horizon, motoring south to La Paz, FUBAR survivors! (I previously spelled this as FooBar and got an anonymous tip on the correct spelling and acronym. See comments for this blog.) The FUBAR is an equivalent rally to the Baja Ha Ha for power boaters. The FUBAR left San Diego around the time we were arriving in Cabo San Lucas. By noon we had passed at least 25 power boats. When we were clear of the power boats and the wind was on our quarter, we put up the sails and headed south.
We arrived once again in Ensenada de los Muertos, determined this time to eat in the little open air restaurant 1535 (the year Cortez discovered this bay), but not tonight. Russ had been waiting all day for turkey and the trimmings. Once we anchored about 3:00 I got dinner under way. Instead of trimming a turkey, I gave Russ a hair trim while we waited for the sweet potato pie to bake. The only thing we missed was family and pumpkin pie. But we did raise our wine glasses and wished you all a happy Thanksgiving. Did you hear us?
After dinner, we watched yet another DVD - Jack Nicholson in Anger Management. I think I know now why I got such a deal on these DVDs. After the DVD we went outside and shined the lights in the water to see if we could replicate the red-eye special we had seen the last time we were in this bay. We couldn’t. We did see occasional amber eyes, but no red-eyes in the water.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Originally, we were going to head down to Frailles to stage our trip across the Sea of Cortez.
However, after studying our charts, wind and wave angles, we decided to jump off from Muertos where we would have a quartering fetch instead of a beam fetch. Since leaving from Muertos lengthens the time across the sea, we also decided to leave on Friday afternoon which would give us plenty of time to sail and get to Mazatlan some time early Sunday. We heard from Dave and Marcia and Juniata and they have decided to sit tight for a day or two because of conflicting forecast model that indicated a possible tropical depression near Mazatlan causing some strong winds on Sunday night. Their journey is from farther north and their boat a little slower.
We spent the morning doing some chores (laundry, deck cleaning, window washing). I decided to review marine weather forecasting. I had taken a course over a year ago and have a nice computer trainer, so I spent time doing that. Then we got the boat ready to pull up anchor at 4:00.
At 2:30 p.m. we went ashore for our chili rellanos and enchilada dinner. We enjoyed the sun in the western sky and the gentle breeze. We returned to the boat, hoisted the dinghy, attached the rudder for the hydro vane, and weighed anchor. We were under way on a 095 degree magnetic heading across the Sea of Cortez. This two night passage will mark our first duo passage. In previous overnights, we have always had crew aboard. We set all three sails and were clipping along at 5 knots with hydro happily at the helm.
I had first night watch from 8 to midnight or 1:00 if I wasn’t too tired. After we were underway, I tried unsuccessfully to take a nap. At 8:00 p.m. everything looked good we were still sailing along at a nice clip with a northeast wind right on our line. The waxing moon was brilliant. We had made arrangements to connect Juniata on the same HAM frequency as the Sonrisa Net at 2000 hrs. But alas, there were several other folks using the same frequency, so we gave up on that idea.
Russ got into bed. At 8:30 p.m. the wind suddenly died and started to clock around. The jib flogged, the mizzen boom gibed and the main boom was jumping all around. Russ, who had been reading, and not sleeping, got out of bed and we reset the sails for a northeastern wind. The wind was so light that hydro was doing no good.
We took down the jib and the mizzen, leaving only the main. Our speed over ground now was reading zero knots. We decided to put hydro to rest, start the motor, and get Ado the autopilot up and running The wind had died but the fetch had not. It took Ado nearly a half hour to find itself with the sea state, arcing 45 degrees on either side of our course line. Good thing we don’t get sea sick. By the time Ado finally settled down, it was 10 p.m. Russ finally went to bed and I restarted my watch. We motored along at 6 knots, with absolutely no other boats anywhere on the horizon or radar screen. I stayed on watch, recording and charting our position, adjusting the auto pilot, scanning the horizon for lights, listening to pod casts, exercising to the Mama Mia sound track, and playing solitaire on the computer. At 2:30 a.m., Russ and I changed watch.
Russ ramped up the engine speed to make water, and I drifted off to sleep.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
At dawn while I was still asleep, a pod of dolphins ushered Worrall Wind into the sunrise. Russ said they were not the big bottle nose dolphins but gray and about 4 feet long. I looked on our sea mammal identifier, and we think it was a Vaquita o Cochito, resident dolphin found in the Sea of Cortez. By 7:15 a.m., Russ woke me up with a steaming cup of coffee. Clark, the coffee guru, had me well spoiled and Russ jumped in to pick up the slack. The wind had picked up to about 8 knots, so we shut down the motor and pulled up the sails. By the time we checked into the Sonrisa net at 7:40 we were up to 4 knots. Marcia was the net control on the Sonrisa net this morning. She does a great job. It was fun listening to her direct traffic. Sounds like she and Dave are still hanging tight and may not leave for a few more days. There are some northers expected to blow beginning on Monday, further narrowing their travel window. I am glad we are underway and will be in Mazatlan before the brisk winds on Sunday night and the northers on Monday.
The sky is pale blue, the sea deep blue. There are a few wispy clouds, the temperature is in the upper seventies and the wind is blowing about 12 knots from the northeast. We are sailing on a close reach. The conditions are about as perfect as they can be.
We spent the entire day lopping along between 3.5-5 knots. By 3:00 p.m., the wind had shifted from close reach to beam reach. Russ took a nap from 3:00 to 5:30. While Russ was napping, I was on the lido deck keeping hydro adjusted as the wind was shifting. I noticed a brown sea bird flying around the boat. It circled the boat three times, swooping down and passing closely over the bow sprint. On the fourth swoop, the bird thread under the billowing sail and through the safety lines to land on the bow sprint. I took a few pictures and was surprisingly able to get pretty close to the bird without spooking it. I couldn’t find an exact match on my bird identifier and was guessing that he russet color was juvenile plumage of a brown booby.
Me a Booby?
About an hour later, the bird took off and joined another bird that I did identify as a mature brown booby. The mature bird circled the boat a couple of times, eyeing the spreader on the port side. He apparently had a few more brains than the pelican that killed itself on our spreader in 2001 and passed up the chance to hitchhike. The younger booby, however, was now a pro at threading the needle and landed once again on the bow sprint. It is now well into Saturday night as I am on watch, and the booby is still with us. Other than the dolphins this morning and the boobies this afternoon, Russ and I are the only visible beings on the sea.
Our watch schedule this evening has been, Roz 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. with Russ sleeping. Russ from 6:00-10:00 p.m. with Roz sleeping. Roz from 10:00 - 2:00 a.m. 11/29 with Russ sleeping. Russ from 2:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. with Roz sleeping. We think we have timed our arrival in Mazatlan between 8-9:00 in the morning as long as we keep a relatively slowed pace between 3-4 knots. The winds have been light but fairly constant, not necessitating any motoring. The gentle movement of the boat and light breeze has made sleeping and watching a peaceful experience.
The sun rose about 6:30 a.m. and land was in in sight about 20 miles east. The wind had nearly died out and the sea was fairly calm with a 1 foot northeast swell. We started the motor about 7:30 a.m. and hoped to have everything rolling quickly so we could listen to the Sonrisa net and check in. Our friend the Booby, who had been hitching a rid to Mazatlan throughout the night, decided it was time to take one more Booby poop on the bow and bid us adios. Russ had strapped down the hydrovane in preparation for turning on the motor, but the prop wash had loosened hydro’s bolts just enough that the bottom part of hydro’s vertical shaft popped off the horizontal shaft attached to the stern when I put the boat in forward motion.
So much for getting everything ready by the morning net. Our mantra when things go wrong is why we are sailing, and we keep repeating. “It’s about the journey, not the destination.” “It’s about the journey, not the destination!”
We turned off the motor, lowered the dinghy and prepared to lift hydro’s rudder out of the water and try to remount the shaft. Because there was no wind, the boat gradually turned sideways and we were taking sea swell on the side. The dinghy, usually protected in the lee of a forward facing boat, bobbed up and down and occasionally wildly as we tried to reposition the shaft. During the process of raising the rudder, the dinghy did a wild dance, and while nothing major was lost overboard, Russ did lose his socket wrench and the pin that holds the rudder on to the shaft. “It’s about the journey, not the destination.” We’re going to need to get a stockpile of those pins, and it’s another trip to a hardware store. Once these little maneuvers were completed. We raised the dinghy and got underway. Of course we missed the morning net completely and our timetable of an early arrival was delayed a bit. Our almost hapless journey across the sea had a little ding or more positively another challenge!
We found our way to Marina Mazatlan and were in our slip with the help of dock mates by 11:00 a.m., a little later than we anticipated. By this time the sky had a high overcast. It was 84 degrees, 67 percent humidity, and not a promise of a breeze. The marina office is closed on Sundays, so we had the afternoon to reorganize, orient ourselves to the marina facilities, and meet our neighbors. The nightly cocktail hour on dock 6 started at 4:30. During the afternoon, we lowered the dinghy to make final repairs on the hydro shaft. Russ and I rigged a pulley hoist off the mizzen boom to lift and realign the vertical shaft of the hydrovane and tighten down all of the bolts. The sun was low on the stern and we were both glistening with sweat from the effort. We needed to have the stern sunscreens raised to accomplish the work off the stern. As soon as we finished this task, we dropped the shades, hosed ourselves down to cool off, grabbed a beer and headed for the cocktail party. The evening was beautiful once the sun went down. There is a 40 percent chance of rain tomorrow.
Dave and Marcia on Juniata left this morning to come across the Sea of Cortez. We hope they have an uneventful journey. Now that we are in the marina, our radio reception and transmission are dismal, so we cannot connect with them. We’ll need to connect with our sail mail (radio e-mail) program and see how they are doing.
Monday, November 30, 2009
It’s raining! Raining hard and almost straight down with only a slight breeze It’s 70 degrees and 95 percent humidity. Wonder what it takes to register 100 percent humidity? It feels like Hawaii. Our sun cover is now a rain cover, but it is still pretty wet on the lido deck. We are enjoying the rain and catching up on inside chores. Russ is discouraged because several of the intensive seal repairs on hatches and dorads to stop leaks didn’t work. We still are leaking. I guess it takes an intensive rain to find this out. As I write this log, Russ dug out our foul weather gear (which I just deeply stowed in La Paz), and limped up to the marina office in his shorts, sandals, and windbreaker with hood pulled over his head to sign us in.
The night before last, while he was on watch, he stubbed his little toe on the threshold from the saloon to the galley. His toe is purple and swollen. He may have broken it. He never said anything about the stub until I asked him why he was limping yesterday while we were taking a stroll…macho man. He slept with his foot elevated last night and the toe looks less swollen. I think it will be a few days though before he can wear anything other than sandals. As soon as he returns from the office with our WiFi password, I hope to get this blog posted.
We may be in Mazatlan for a week or more before leaving for Puerto Vallarta and meeting up with Abby and Neal who are flying down to spend the holidays with us. If you have anything for us, if you get it to Abby and it's not too large, she may be able to bring it down with her.
We are looking forward to meeting up with Dave and Marcia who are due to arrive tomorrow (Tuesday) morning, exploring the city, and taking a trip out to the Copper Canyon which is supposed to be seven times bigger than the Grand Canyon. The trip to the Copper Canyon may take six days via buses, trains, and sights along the way. Apparently, it’s not just about the destination, but the journey along the way. Makes sense to us!