Monthly Archives: December 2012

The Town Square, December 21, 2012

John, Cyn and I rode the bus into the town square of Mazatlan yesterday evening. We heard it was going to be closed off to cars and buses, and open to foot traffic only. We were up for that! We took the green bus in, and walked around before dinner. We all had excellent meals at the Cocina de Familia tucked away on a side street. It was quiet, REALLY good food and lots of it, very nice service with some unusual art to gaze at while we dined.
After we ate, we walked around to a few different plazas, looking for music and fun. There wasn’t too much going on, though we happened upon an evening wedding that was kinda neat to spy on. One of the little flower girls was dressed in a red gown stiff with petticoats, and she was adorable! I wish I’d taken a picture of her. At the plaza, we shopped among craftsmen and women plying their wares, much of it handmade. Cyn got a beautiful jade necklace and earrings that really compliments her, all for 100 pesos, or about 8 bucks! The woman selling the jewelry was so kind. Everyone I have interacted with here in Mexico has been the most helpful, friendly and courteous. This has been the rule instead of the exception. What a pleasure.
We did some more walking and John stopped for a latte; we played with our Spanglish, much to the entertainment of the shop owner. Exploring the city has been VERY interesting and enlightening. When we made our way to the Mercado, it was packed with people finishing up their Christmas shopping, looking for bargains and deals. We saw Santa giving away toys Nacho Libre style, and the kids loved it. We saw a beautiful girl singing, though unfortunately we agreed her voice didn’t match her beauty.
The photo at the top of this post is of the Cathedral de Concepcion. Its very traditional architecture lends the air of long-standing faith. Last week I stepped inside and the altar was classic in its rich design, dedicated to statues, candles, chalices and lovely floral arrangements. It would be neat to attend a service there, if I get the chance.
Today’s agenda is to work on the boat, maybe get some fuel, and be ready to go when we decide the time is right. John, Cyn and I are gonna meet this afternoon, talk about weather and navigation plans, and see what we come up with. We hope to head south toward Puerto Vallarta, with some stops at La Cruz, Matanchen Bay, Sayulita, and/or Punta de Mita. Stay tuned for more stories…

Mazatlan    December 11, 2012

I’m about 30 nm outside of Mazatlan after a FANTASTIC trip! At midnight Tuesday morning, I weighed anchor in Cabo Bay and headed east along the coast toward Las Frailes. Initially, the motor morphed into a lovely sail with wind out of the south, and then the effects of the norther blowing down the Sea of Cortez hit. There is a large and wide arroyo just west of San Jose del Cabo, and it just funnels the norther into the bay. I reefed all sails and kept going. By no means was it as bad as the one I was introduced to when I first arrived in Cabo. About ten hours later, after humpback whales and numerous bites of barracuda on my Rapala, I was anchored in 15′ of sparkling clear water at Bahia Las Frailes. It was love at first sight! The strong wind was all around, except where I was sheltered behind the rock that makes the point. Immediately, a juvenile pelican arrived and began begging with his dark, soulful eyes. There were four other boats in the bay, including Chris who I met in Cabo aboard the 32′ “Swabby.” After stowing a few things, it was time for a swim!
As first my fingers, and then my arms, head and then the rest of my body entered the water, I couldn’t help but groan in sheer delight. The water was about 79 degrees and super clear. I swam to the beach about 50 meters away, but I just didn’t want to get out yet. I swam back to Willow, cleaned the waterline with my hand, and noted I needed to clean the bottom. If I was staying another day, it would be the perfect place to do it, but I’ll get to it in Mazatlan. I checked on the set of my anchor, easily seeing from the surface that the flukes were well dug in and the chain was making its designs in the sand. Sliding my head back until just my face was out of the water, I floated. Took deep, long breaths and floated. Worked on just feeling the water against my skin, causing my hair to wave in its rhythm, taking the weight off my joints and bones. I think I fell asleep. Being in the water is one of my favorite places to be, and if I can’t be in it, then let me be on it!
After swimming, I cleaned the cockpit of fish scales, and decided to make some chicken for a few nights’ dinners. Cranking up the oven always makes the cabin hot, but with the strong breeze around, it cooled down quickly. I ate, had a glass of wine, and got ready for bed. My navigation preparation was all done, and all I needed to do was weigh anchor around midnight and press on. Unfortunately, Makani kept catching those dang hummingbird-sized moths and gifting me with them. He wouldn’t kill them, just bring them in for me to enjoy the mad fluttering of their wings until I got up and rescued them, multiple times… Such a giver.
I was warming up the engine by 0030, and out of the bay on my way by 0100. The norther was still blowing, but the forecast called for it to begin dying soon. Additionally, it sent me favorably on my way, allowing me a beam reach on down the line. Mazatlan was 164 nm to the southeast, and I was looking forward to the trip. All sails were up and pulling me along, with a single reef in the main. I decided to hook up the Monitor self-steering, instead of always relying on the motorized auto pilot. This device works quietly according to the wind angle to your boat, not a compass heading. As such, proper sail trim is vital. I was lucky this trip, and it was great to hear nothing but seawater rush down the sides of the boat. No whirring back and forth of the pilot. It was very nice.
Fishing on this leg has proven futile, but no matter. I’ve been given other fun things to see. The stars have been amazing! The moon basically is rising the same time the sun does, so it’s pretty dark out here. I think there’s a meteor shower going on, Leonids? Anyhow, the shooting stars were many, often and bright. Escorted by some smaller speckled dolphin, Makani has finally spotted them and he races to the bow to watch them play and roll in the bow wave. This is only allowed when seas are on the calm side… Since leaving Frailes I haven’t seen any whales, but I’ve been treated to a number of sea turtles. Later in the afternoon, I learned why. I was swarmed by gazillions of tiny, maybe 1/2 to 3/4-inch long jellyfish. And jellyfish are sea turtles favorite food! I sailed through the jellies for about three hours until finally finding clear water. The sea birds are always amazing. The frigates coast in the slipstream the top of my mast creates, just drafting along until they either find food or are bored. The boobies coast low to the sea surface, gliding along the swells, but never do I see them feed or swim. But they poop! I’ve evidence of that on the bow! Yesterday evening, three of them decided to bestow their presence upon me, and sat on the bow pulpit, preening and squawking to each other. I had to put Makani in his harness when they showed up. After talking to each other awhile, they tucked their bills under their wings and went to sleep. They were there the entire night, and this morning I was able to get some photos. It’s pretty fun to see what’s out here, and how I interact with them, and them with me.
As I approach Mazatlan, I’m on the lookout for drift nets, signalled by some black flags on buoys. Unlike the nets in the Ventura area, these buoys are connected on the surface with beefy polypropylene, sure to tightly wrap a prop, or worse. John and Cyn on the Alcyone had to dodge them 10-15 nm out, so I’m looking out for them. They told me another fin-keeled boat dragged a line on into the harbor! Due to the shape of the underbody of his boat, he never wrapped his prop. Due to the shape of the underbody of Willow, I’m sure to wrap my prop! So I’d rather dodge them… I should be in and anchored by 1500 without a hitch. I’ll anchor until I check the forecast. Rain(!) was on an earlier extended forecast, so I want to see a more current version.
I hope everyone is happy and healthy. Don’t let the holiday season get to you. If it does, go do like my friends do, and paddle! It’s good for the soul… Take care!

Friends A-Coming!  December 5, 2012

I’m back in Cabo San Lucas, waiting for some super women from my paddling club to come on down and visit. Unfortunately, one of the super women, Nadean, was injured and is getting back on her feet (foot) after surgery. Heal up quick!!!! Ona and Sally will be here Friday afternoon for a quick 3 day visit. Fun will be had by all, guaranteed!!!!
The first few days here, I anchored out, and was amazed. What a difference a month makes! There were no more than seven boats at any one time at anchor, and it was lovely! It’s always a good sign when you can look down into the water from ondeck and just see your anchor, well-set, and the snake of chain on up to your bow roller. Sure, the panga and PWC traffic is still around and annoying, but they quickly pass by. The evenings are very pleasant after the party boats go back to port around 1900. Just stay away from the harbor in November, and you should be in great shape!
The trip from Los Puertos Marina was exceptional. The sky was bright blue, and the ocean was turquiose. The breeze was very light, and we ghosted back up the coast the 17 nm to Cabo. All sail was out and lightly but steadily pulling. We moved along at 2-3 knots, but I didn’t care. The ocean was so kind, showing me her bounty along the way. I watched as frigate birds tried to steal fish from pelicans, dive bombing them as soon as the pelican made a catch. I watched an early arrival of a pod of humpback whales, maybe 8 of them, breach, blow and sound to the depths on their way to the Sea of Cortez. A few sea turtles dotted the surface, adding a little bump to the smooth of the water. About half way through, I saw a school of jumping something in the distance. They weren’t dolphin, but they jumped straight out of the water, a good 5′ or so, and then made a big splash on their re-entry. There didn’t seem to be any forward motion, just the up-down. What the heck? I finally got close enough to see the fish flap their wings, and finally figured it was a large school of bat rays. They choreographed their flying beautifully! I even got lucky enough to get a couple of hookups while trolling at such a slow speed, but didn’t bring anything in. As I rounded Ballena Point, I could see the anchorage, and it really looked empty. I finished up the last couple of miles under power as the wind had finally quit, dropped the hook, and revelled in the relative peace compared to three weeks ago. In addition to the Baja Haha finishing, there was also a large fishing tournament taking place here, and it was pandelerium…
I moved into the marina early this morning before all of the fishing traffic. My slip is right behind the fuel dock, and it’s not as bad as it sounds. The 174′ blue-hulled Perini Nava ketch, Tamsen, was fueling up at the dock, and that is an amazing boat. Look her up online. She’s gorgeous. She would come in to Santa Barbara once or twice a year, and the docks always filled with people gazing at her beautiful lines. At 0600, all the charter fishing boats gather around the fuel dock, picking up passengers loaded with ice and cerveza. It’s a constant in-out of vessels until around 0730 or so, when things settle down and the boats are out fishing. With that activity, sleep won’t be happening, so I get up, make some coffee, and get on the computer. I get up and moving before the heat really sets in. I put my obligatory Christmas lights up: 2 thin strands of LED lights wrapped around the grabrail of my dodger. That does it! It’s kinda fun to see all of the Santas and other decorations the locals have put up. Initially, I thought it was all part of trying to attract gringo customers into the restaurants and shops, but then I remembered Mexico is a very Catholic country, and when I think of it, I’ve seen Nativity scenes up and around, also.
The weather is still a bit warm, but I have noted about a 5 degree drop in overall temperature, and boy, does it make a difference. The cabin is much more bearable, and sleeping at night much more comfortable. I have a fan in the area of my bunk and lowered it about 6″ so it blows directly on me instead of over me. That’s helped ALOT. The fans are on constantly, but they don’t draw much power. It’s definitly worth the comfort factor…
My rough plan from here was to head for Las Frailes, about 50 nm northeast from here, Monday morning, and anchor for a day or so. The forecast shows a nice lil’ norther blowing through the area then, so I may anchor in Cabo instead for another couple of days, and then head out. After Las Frailes, I’ll head the 164 nm or so over to Mazatlan for the remainder of December. My friends John and Cyndee from the Alcyone are there, and it’ll be fun to hook up with them. After Mazatlan, I have absolutely no idea where I’ll be, and that’s kinda the fun of it!
I hope you all are healthy, happy and strong, and if not, on your way to getting there! Enjoy the Christmas season, and know I miss you very much! Take care and have fun!

Birthday Post   November 21, 2012

The wind shifts here are not subtle. It goes from one door to the other, bang, 180 degrees. It was breezy this morning, and cool, such a relief from the heat. But after I started my outside work, the wind shut off and the sun took over, making it 90 degrees in the shade. Worse yet, it was 85 degrees in the cabin without any air movement at all. There’s a bit of a leftover from the system you all saw this weekend, and I must admit, the sky is lovely. It should be a stunning sunset… Another giveaway of the wind shifts: the flight pattern of the jets bringing folks to the area. This morning, the jets were coming in to the airport from the over the ocean, right into the wind. This afternoon, the jets are coming in from over the large arroyo that usually chutes the north wind on down to the ocean. The wind has indeed shifted.

Today saw me doing silly little mending work. I spliced all of my three-strand line, making tie-downs that are vital on a boat. I don’t know where I’ll put these until I find a much-needed location. I whipped all of my lines’ ends. I fixed the brace for my ‘air conditioner’ aka wind scoop, using the next-best-thing-to-duct-tape, electrical tape, and then sewed it up. I sewed up a pillow that had been spilling its filling. After the sun began to burn, I went below and began cooking. I triple washed some fresh spinach grown in Ventura, CA and bought in San Jose del Cabo, BCS, Mexico. The majority of the produce found in Baja comes from the States, and I found myself buying mushrooms literally from across the street from where I used to live, the CA Mushroom Farm. Pretty interesting. Eggs are not refrigerated here as a rule, and stay fresh much longer. If they are never cooled down, then they don’t go ‘bad’ for a much longer period. Butter made in the US I haven’t found yet, but I have found Danish butter, and it’s good. The chicken here is amazing. The meat is a yellow color, probably something we’d throw away at home. The flesh is so sweet, flavored with marigolds, a huge portion of the bird’s feed. After rinsing the spinach, I made our family favorite, creamed spinach, and roasted a chicken breast. It’s an idealistic thing to cook in the tropics, but I’m sure I’ll become accustomed to it as I continue to acclimate. Needless to say, I’m stuffed, hot, and looking forward to the evening breeze and cold shower. I have not flipped the switch for hot water since I left Turtle Bay. I’m even entertaining the thought of giving the hot water heater away, but I won’t do that until after winter has come and gone. I’m still learning…

There’s always a fragrance here. In the early morning with the offshore breeze, the smell of desert sage is strong and pungent. It takes me awhile to identify it, then I breathe deeply. In the afternoons and evenings, there’s the smell of burning, and I recall that Mexico burns much of its waste. As the wind shifts, if you close your eyes and don’t pay attention to the temperature difference, you will always know what time of day it is…

Today is my birthday, and I’m 51!!!! I’m absolutely astounded that I’m where I am and doing what I’m doing. I did some fun things for myself, including giving myself a pedicure. This was a 100% organic and natural one, attained as I walked 3 miles in the rough sand. This naturally pumiced all of the rough skin down to smooth, cleaning away a few weeks worth of dirt road that had been ground into my skin. My cuticles are happy and smooth! This was followed by a manicure, given courtesy of rubbing out and waxing my cockpit using a wax rich in oils and emollients. For a boat wax, it sure smelled good. It’s 1715 now, I’m enjoying a gin and tonic, and writing to my friends and family. I remember in years’ past, I would ask Mom if I could give myself a new birthday, just like we used to our patients at Rescue 9. I have always hated this time of year, the shorter days, holidays and commitments, real and imagined. I wanted my birthday to be in June, summertime, with sunshine and longer days. As I walked along the beach today, I realized I finally had my summertime birthday! What a lucky girl I am!

I’m so absolutely thankful for all I have, including my family and friends. Having a boat like Willow to keep me safe, and my health to keep me strong are among the things I am thankful for today. Everyday, I am thankful for those who work for my benefit individually, and for mankind as a whole, including taking care of this place, wherever it is, we call ‘home.’ Even though it’s a day early, I wish you all Happy Thanksgiving, and hope we all remember and appreciate something to be thankful for, today, tomorrow, and always. Always remember I love you all. And I’m thankful for you all sharing in this thing I’m doing, and thankful for your encouragement and support.

San Jose del Cabo November 18, 2012

I’m sitting in a lovely marina about 17 nm from Cabo San Lucas called Los Puertos Marina at San Jose del Cabo.  At the moment, the majority of the boats here are sportfishers, including the Full Circle, with only a few sailboats.  It’s quiet, visually stunning, and evolving into a ‘destination resort.’  Until then, it’s practicing charging alot for various things, but it’s definitely so much better than Cabo.  If you must go to Squid Roe, it’s a 20 minute cab ride.  The airport is about 10 minutes away, but the marina is not in the flight path.  It’s a warm walk to downtown San Jose, but that’s also a beautiful place.  The Mexican Target, aka Mega, is about a 40 minute walk.  After you’re loaded down with groceries, it’s definitely time for a cab ride back to the boat.
Today, Sunday, is quiet, and the heavy high clouds are cooling down the burn of the sun.  We’re definitely in the tropics here, and the heat and sun are forboding.  Didya ever think I would shy away from the sun??  I try my hardest to get the inside work done in the middle of the day, leaving the outside work for the mornings and evenings.  The past couple of days found me doing my engine work, including changing the oil, all filters, adding coolant, checking the tranny, and replacing a screw that was impinging on the reverse shifting mechanism.  I tied up a few hoses that were lying on various vibrating parts of the engine and were showing signs of chafe.  I repaired the hinges on some of the cabinets that were opening when the weather got rough. I re-located the outboard and bracket from the stern rail to the starboard aft rail, allowing the wind sensing vane for the Monitor windvane full swing.  All of the lines are once again run for the vane, and I look forward to tweaking that back into service.  I did some laundry on the dock, as there is no laundromat here yet.  With the heat, it’s not really a problem, as everything dries pretty quickly.  Since I only have a small bucket, the large items such as towels and linen will be sent out for ten bucks a load.  The only thing still stumping me is the wind generator.  I’ve put in a call to Florida, but the person I need to talk with is on an outside job and will get back to me during the week…
Right after I crossed the border, I pulled into Ensenada to check in to the country.  With a little guidance, it was no problem at all, and cost about a hundred bucks total.  I got my Temporary Import Permit, good for ten years, for the boat, allowing me to bring or ship replacement parts into the country without paying extra.  I checked into Customs and Agriculture, told them about the cats, and they could care less.  The man just waved his hand, saying ‘no bother.’  Well, Wednesday, the bother caught up to me.  An Agriculture Inspector, Francisco, came to the boat and wanted to know about food, fruits and vegetables.  I explained I had only Mexican produce and no meat or chicken, as I had already checked in at Ensenada and visited Cabo San Lucas markets.  He then noticed Makani and Kai, and asked about them.  I told him they had been permitted into the country at Ensenada, and I had the proper paperwork showing health and vaccinations.  Asking to see the paperwork, Francisco soon shook his head and clucked at me.  No, no, no, esta fecha es no bueno.  He told me the date written in the ‘date vaccinated’ box is not for the date they were vaccinated, but when they are due to be vaccinated again.  Huh?  Wouldn’t that be a ‘vaccination expires’ box, or something like that?  He went up to his truck and brought down two cages as he was going to take the cats.  Uh uh, no way.  After about twenty minutes of discussion, Francisco told me I was making trouble for him at the office.  I apologized, but told him he could not take my cats.  I would be happy to have my vet call whoever it was he would like him to speak to and explain.  I also had papers from the vet explaining the rabies vaccines were good for 3 years, but Francisco would have none of it.  Finally he left, saying he may be back…  Luckily he hasn’t returned, and I hope it was just an error in translation.  Friends recommended to me that when dealing with anyone official, DON’T speak any spanish, and just feign understanding what’s going on.  They finally get frustrated, and leave you alone.  That’s gonna be a hard one for me…
Today I plan on catching up with paperwork, correspondence and just daily chores.  Tomorrow I’ll rinse the boat off again, and re-check the location of stowed items.  Thursday, a few of us here on the dock are getting together to have some sort of Thanksgiving dinner, some of the dishes influenced locally, and some of our traditional fare.  It should be pretty fun.  Please know how thankful I am to be here doing what I’m doing.  I am the luckiest person on the planet!!
I hope everyone is happy, healthy, enjoying the fall weather, and not getting caught up in the commercialism of the holidays!  Just enjoy the people and sights, and give where and when you can.  I miss everyone, and send you all my absolute best.  Take care and don’t work too hard!Image
Interior of Mision San Nikolas, San Jose del CaboImage
Mision Bell Tower

Success! November 6, 2012

I know what you’re thinking.  Oh, it’s Wendy again, gloating about a glorious trip of a lifetime, sitting on the aft deck with an umbrella drink.  And it’s only ten in the morning!  Well, here’s the latest..

  I don’t think it’s wise for me to fish after dark.  There are too many things going on, and too many ways I could go swimming.  No swimming allowed!  I’ve always been fond of a silly old cedar plug to use as a lure, and have been made fun of many times while using it.  But, it always produced!  I have a short handline rig I put the cedar plug on and just forgot about.  This morning, after an idyllic sailing day yesterday, was blowing northeast a solid 20 with gusts to 25.  So, sail changes were the order for the day (without the umbrella drinks, by the way.).  First, I double reefed the mainsail.  Still too much.  So I dropped the main, and went under staysail only, and the boat really liked that.  The cats really liked that, too.  So I’m in the cabin, doing some charting, and the wind just shuts off.  Bang.  Okay.  All sail back up.  The seas were a little less confused now the NE wind chop was dying down, so I decided to get the rod out and let a new jig out.  As I was getting ready to tie that jig on, something caught my eye.  There was a beautiful yellow and green dorado on my handline!  This time I got pictures!  I brought her in and she was a bit dazed.  Makani came out to investigate right as the fish got a little active in the cockpit.  He turned tail and ran.  Now this was a fish I could handle.  After knocking it over the head with the winch handle, the fish died, showing all her glorious colors.  A little over 3′ long, this was some fresh food I was very thankful for.  I just wanna know who came up with the term, “cleaning fish?”  Clean has nothing to do with it.  My entire cockpit was covered with blood and scales, not to mention me, but I got two large sections cooling in the icebox.  Tonight will see me having some dorado with a little panko, lemon and sliced almonds.  Yippee!

     As I’m scooting down the coast, I can occasionally hear some vhf broadcasts from home, and just heard of the gale warning for the end of this week for you all. That’s why I’m planning to head straight for Cabo and bypass Bahia Santa Maria.  I’ll throw Willow in a slip for a day or two, rinse scales and salt off the boat, and be ready to go!  Right now, Cabo’s 260 nm away.  I should easily make that by Thursday late.  This system is supposed to be here Saturday/Sunday/Monday. 

Image I hope everyone is doing well, and getting a chuckle outta my little tales (tails).

Fishin’! November 5, 2012

November 5, 2012

I left Turtle Bay this morning after stopping for some rest.  It was wonderful to drop the hook after two pretty lumpy nights.  I sorted out some issues, straightened a few things up, did some engine work, and re-fueled.  After giving Enrique, Jr. twice as many pesos for fuel than he quoted someone else in Turtle.  Rat bastad…Who cares?  I’m flying on down the coast in stellar conditions with the jib and reefed main up, and loving life.  After the last two nights from Ensenada, I’ve learned I’m a five knot kinda gal.  Pushing the boat harder than that makes the ride reeeeely uncomfortable.  Especially when it’s gonna be a long ride.  At least on this boat.  So we’ll see what this leg is like.  If tonight remains the same as it is now, I may shake out the reef in the morning.

     I’m about 200 nm from Bahia Santa Maria, and another 160 on top of that from Cabo.  As much as I love Bahia Santa Maria, there’s supposed to be a big wind system coming down the coast by the weekend.  If I keep going the way I am, I’ll make Cabo by Thursday evening easily, and if it’s still on the forecast, I’ll pick up a slip until it passes.  That’s the good thing about having a small boat!  I’m not competing with any Haha-ers for a slip!  They should be arriving that day, also.  I’ve talked with John and Cyn on the radio a few times, and they’re having a blast.  Note to self:  this trip would be SO MUCH BETTER with a colored sail.  Oh, well.  I’m learning patience…

     As I was approaching Turtle Bay, I noted a powerboat coming up on me from astern.  The entrance there can be tough, especially at night, so when the boat was 1 nm aft, I hailed it on 16.  They just said, “Wendy, go to 68.”  What the?  It was the Full Circle, owned by the guy who owns the repair barge in Avalon.  There were a coupla Harbor guys on board with ’em.  Pretty dang small world out here, huh?  Well, I needed that crew this morning.  After I left, I put out the rod Mark had brought down, with the ugliest black and purple feather jig I’d ever seen.  I headed off the coast for a couple miles and let the line out.  Sailing along, I soon found myself in the middle of about 8 sportfishers, real gold-platers, trolling along.  I decided to stay out of their way, and gybed away.  Not 5 minutes later, I hooked something.  And it was BIG!  It was leaping and jumping, twisting and turning, just like you see on ESPN!  Holy crap!  What am I gonna do with (to) that?!?  Lucky for it (me), it broke free about 15 minutes later, after spooling the reel, and me trying to reel it in.  It was very long, thin, and active.  I’m thinkin’ striped marlin.  So, I got back my empty line, no jig, and put another feather on.  This one was pink.  Within 5 minutes, I’d hooked a marlin!  Needless to say, the radio got a bit busy, and the waters surrounding Willow got a bit crowded.  Luck was with me again, and after about 5 minutes, it broke the line.  Can I just say that a lil’ yellowtail or somethin’ like that was all I was lookin’ for?  What the heck am I gonna do with a fish that’s bigger’n my cockpit?  Hit it over the head with my plastic boat hook?  Sheesh!  I have to admit, it WAS pretty exciting. 

     Right now, it’s 1515, the air temp is 75 outside, in the wind, and the breeze is WNW about 12 knots.  Broad reaching along with following seas; can you imagine anything better?  It’s lovely out here.  The sea life is a-jumpin’, and I’ve been followed by dolphin, porpoise, and whales the entire time.  Here, little yellowtail, here little yellowtail!  Wouldn’t sashimi be the bomb right now?

Sea Day November 2, 2012

It’s Friday morning, around 0950, and I’m about 111 nautical miles (nm) from Cedros Island.  My position is N30 05/W115 57.  I’ve gone about 120 nm in the last 24 hours, and that’s rippin’, for me.  I know, I know, you can walk that fast.  It’s about 5 miles an hour.  But you wouldn’t be hangin’ on with each step, having someone throw water in your face, grinding squid ink into your deck at night, OR having as much fun as I am!  My next waypoint is Isla San Benito, then Cedros Island.

I’m about 8 nm off the coast, have great visibility, and the coastline is stark and beautiful. I haven’t noted any other vessel traffic out here at all, by sight, AIS or radar.  I’m on my own, and loving it!  I’ve been thinking about some of the other offshore passages I’ve made over the years, and how some of them were the most unpleasant experiences.  So many people think I’m crazy for doing this singlehanded, but I’m not on a hell ship.  I’ve sailed that boat before, and never again.  There has to be respect for your crew, regardless of the position of your other crewmates.  Makani, Kai and I get along just fine.  Now if I can just get them to stand watch…

Things I have learned so far:

The best place to catch a nap is on the salon floor, with my ‘throne’ reclined fully.

I thought I was alone on this boat, but whenever I open a locker, someone throws things at me.  Got hit in the head by cinnamon earlier…

When scooping coffee out of the can, place the can inside the sink first, unless you enjoy cleaning coffee grounds out of every nook and cranny in the cabin…

Diesel jugs leak, no matter how tight you screw on the lid.

Makani must sit in my lap whenever I begin to chart, log, or write on the computer.  I’m writing this one handed now since he’s sitting on the other.  He already changed the font when he stepped all over the keyboard.

Old cat food stinks.

I’m the luckiest person on the planet right now!

I need to go plot my position now.  I hope everyone is having a great Friday!

Mexico! October 31, 2012

Whooohooo!  I’m in Mexico!  Okay, I just crossed the border, on Willow, but I’m in Mexico!!!!

Monday evening, I got everything as stowed as I could.  This boat’s bustin’ at the seams, full of crap I swore I wouldn’t get.  But, there I am.  Anyhow, I went down for a nap at 2000, trying to doze until midnight.  I got up, and was out of my slip at 0100. Navigating by radar at 0.25nm range, paper charts and GPS plotter, I moved VERY SLOWLY through San Diego Bay.  Visibility was down to less than 100 yards.  At 0330, I was out of the bay, away from buoys and the range, and heading toward my first waypoint off Coronado del Sur.  I just crossed that waypoint off my list, and am now headed 40 nm down the coast to Punta San Miguel.  I hope to pull in to Ensenada by 1400.  Give or take.  I don’t know if that’s too late in the day to try and check in.  I’d like to get that out of the way.  I’d also like to get a Telcel/Banda Ancha gizmo for internet access there.  That may have to wait until Wednesday morning.  If all goes well, I may head out Wednesday afternoon;  if not, it’ll be Thursday morning.  I’m hoping the fog clears by then.

Navigating by radar only tests your skills a little, especially in a crowded bay, at night, with other boats moving around (read: right on my ass), and with you not knowing if others are paying attention to their navigating.  You can see no lights on land, and the lit buoys go by seen less than 25 yards away.  I guess, imagine driving your car with a towel over your head, using only the GPS deeliebob that is in most newer cars these days.  You get no outside reference points.  You just gotta keep your heart in your chest, use your whistle/horn every 2 minutes, keep a close eye on your radar, your speed down, and your fingers crossed!  Luck was with me, I took my time, and am now heading toward Ensenada.

Willow’s in good shape, though low in the water.  As I get more dialed in, I hope to purge some more stuff.  I did get an inflatable SUP, and look forward to putting it to good use down in Bahia Santa Maria.  The Baja Haha took off Monday morning with 150 boats.  I can hear them clearly on VHF.  It’ll be fun to talk with my friends, John, Cyn, and Dave aboard the Alcyone.  They’re playing in the Haha, and it’ll be good to see where they’re at.  I spoke with them yesterday afternoon and they were sailing pleasantly downwind under spinnaker.  Good on ’em.

It’s 0517 right now, and my position is N32 26.504/ W117 11.483.  I hope you all are well and not working too hard.  Please take care.  If you would like to write me back, please do not hit the “reply” button.  Just start a new email with in the “To” box.  When you hit the reply button, you not only send your reply, you send me my letter also, and this clogs up the radio waves.  Then I get nasty notes from the sailmail police.  Thanks!

October 8, 2012 Departure

I’m down to eight days (right now, I’m at anchor in Prisoner’s Harbor, Santa Cruz Island) and am so dang excited I can barely stand it.  Just to cut the docklines and move along is a huge accomplishment.  Willow is ready, I’m more than ready, and the things I’ve done to her have all worked well, so far.  Some of the improvements are:

New Yanmar 3 cylinder engine                Haulout and bottom job

New navigation instruments                  GPS, AIS, all talking to the vhf

Upgraded canvas covers for the sun          160 watts of solar power

New wind generator                          Upgraded wiring of electrical systems

Replaced membrane in watermaker             New in-mast wiring (UGH!)

New anchor light-LED                        All nav lights LED

2 new anchors and rode                      150′ new chain

New varnish on brightwork                   Re-weld stanchions on starboard side

Properly install old SSB radio              Install Pactor modem for Sailmail

Cuss alot                                   Cuss even more

Rubout and wax topsides                     Install boomvang

New sheaves and blocks for reefing          Clean and tune rig

Repair shipstrike clock                     Change oil and all filters on the engine

Fall into the engine compartment            Get engine spares and watermaker spares

Clean out all lockers and purge crap        Do that at least 3 times

Get proper licenses for radios              Get, install and register EPIRB

Learn how to use SSB and sailmail           Install latches on all opening cupboards

Clean out and sell car                      Clean out and donate crap in storage locker

Clean out dockbox                           Renew passport

All interior lights LED                     Replace evaporator plate in refer

New ship’s compass                          Find storage for 200 lightly used nav charts

Provision                                   Don’t sink the boat

Cuss some more, for good measure            Say “See Ya!” to friends and family-the hardest part~!

It’s been a busy six months, and I can’t help but thank my family and friends for their support, patience and encouragement.  The very rough itinerary is leave Ventura on the 30th, or 1st of October, and sail to Santa Cruz Island.  This is to rest and just decompress, getting the silliness of city life out of my system.  The cats need to be in Avalon on the 16th to see the world’s greatest vet, and get their health certificate.  I’m gonna go to the world’s best chiropractor for a last adjustment, then say farewell to friends on the island.  After that, I’ll be off for Dana Point to visit with family and eat great sushi.  After a few days there, it’s time to head for San Diego for a free week in a slip, and to get as much paperwork and licenses for Mexico as possible.  Near the first of November, I’ll head to Ensenada for a day or two, and check in.  There’s a huge, 200 boat rally heading from San Diego to Cabo that I’m trying to avoid.  I have no desire to be exhausted in the middle of 200 boats.  That’s just looking for trouble.  My rough plan out of Ensenada is to spend 3-4 days getting to Bahia Santa Maria, a beautiful bay on the Pacific side of Magdalena Bay.  I’ll rest there for a few days, let the rally pass me by, and then sail another 1-2 days to Cabo San Lucas.  There, I’ll meet up with friends who participated in the rally, and we’ll head up to La Paz.  There’ll be a few stops on the way in some beautiful little coves, and then we’ll be in La Paz.  My plan is to base most of my winter sailing out of there, returning to provision as needed.

If anyone wants to visit, please feel free.  You can email me at sailmail, and we can hook up on a location and date.  You can stay on the boat, or not, whatever your pleasure.  After Thanksgiving, I hear the Sea of Cortez mimics our weather here in SoCal.  There are some high pressure, warm and beautiful days, but if a ‘screaming blue norther’ hits, it’ll be chilly. The nights are very similar to ours.  But if you want to see different places, i.e. Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan or Punta Mita, just lemme know.  It’ll take me a few days to get there, but the weather’s warmer, and they’re on the mainland, not the cape.

This trip has been about 25 years in the making, and I’m finally doing it!  Thank you so much for all your love and support!