Monthly Archives: July 2013

Food, OLGs, and Mexican Phones

     While I was in Santa Rosalia, I treated myself and ate out 3 times, twice at the same restaurant.  The twice frequented restaurant was called Muelle’s, or the Dock’s, in downtown.  The first visit was with a group from Worth Waiting 4 and True Blue 5.  I ordered for  everyone because no one else had my fine command of the spanglish language.   Among other things, there was a ‘special’ pizza ordered, and I requested some sauteed scallops in a garlic sauce.  I definitely didn’t get scallops.  I think I got bat ray wing, a frequent scallop imposter.  It was good enough, and we were all served soup, some salad, and some beans.  The pizza had all sorts of goodies on it, including veggies, shrimp, and something else I just couldn’t put my finger on.  It was tasty and satisfying, and it was nice to let someone else cook in the heat.  I returned a few days later for a late lunch and ordered arrachera.  This is a flavorful, tender and marinated cut of either skirt or flank steak.  Done right, it is sooooo tasty.  I again was served soup, but today’s soup was different.  I didn’t have my OLGs (old lady glasses) with me and was disappointed with myself.  I like to see what the ingredients are so I can try (key word here is try) to re-create some of the dishes.   I was at the mercy of my tastebuds to tell me what the soup was made with.  Pleased with myself that I figured it out, I then laughed out loud because the main ingredient was hot dog!  The chief hot dog manufacturer down here is a company called FUD.  This isn’t pronounced ‘fudd’ with a short ‘u’, but ‘food,’ as we say at home.  I chuckled for quite awhile at my ‘sopa de perro caliente.’   Someone at a nearby table ordered the ‘special pizza’ and I was able to determine the unknown ingredient as hot dog!  It doesn’t end here.  I went to the local chinese restaurant with Bill and Julie from Voyager and had a ball.  First off, a beautiful chinese young lady comes to our table and in flawless spanish asks if we’d like a beverage.  It was so unexpected to hear perfect spanish come out of her mouth.  I giggled to myself at my ignorance and expectations.  We ordered one of the multi-plate specials that comes with soup, chow mein, rice, a couple of main dishes; you get the picture.  Well, the fried rice dish had slices of, wait for it, hot dog in it!  I couldn’t help myself and just laughed and laughed.  Bill and Julie couldn’t get what I was chuckling about, but apparently hot dogs are pretty big here in Mexico, and in China!  Why shouldn’t everyone enjoy re-constituted chicken feet and pig lips?  I just thought it was so much fun! 

After all the waiting, juggling and conniving to get my new phone down here, it’s just not working anywhere but La Paz.  So much for the All-Mexico plan.  I decided to stop in one of the TelCel stores in Santa Rosalia to check out the cheapest phone and plan that would allow me to call the States and check in with family and friends.  This one I was able to negotiate easily with my spanglish.  For twelve bucks US, I can get a small, no-frills phone with twenty-five dollars worth of air time that will let me phone home.  I can add more time to the phone just like I do with the wifi card online.  It was pretty nice to be able to call home, check in, get caught up, and let everyone know things were fine.  Mr. TelCel, Carlos Slim, has a great thing going for him.  Make the apparatus cheap, and you’ll get ’em on the minutes.  Smart guy.  Maybe this is why I hear he’s the richest guy in the world.  This way, just about everyone in Mexico can afford one of these phones, and pay for the time they will use, and can afford.  Not too shabby.

Have a great day, Everyone, stay cool, and enjoy your summer!  I miss you all!

Mother Nature and Boats

Peaceful Setting on the Sea of Cortez

Peaceful Setting on the Sea of Cortez

Hi Everyone!  I’m anchored at Isla Coronados among some very great people, beautiful scenery, and loving it.  I’ll be heading out in the morning for the roughly 40 nm trip to Agua Verde.  Life is good…

About a week ago, I left Santa Rosalia (fun food, SHORT haircut, boats with air conditioning) for Bahia Concepcion, 40-50 nm back down the coast.  I have always loved night passages, so I left around 0130.  As I left the harbor entrance, there were hundreds of softly glowing yellow lights, a signal the Pescadores were out, as were the squid.  I made my way slowly through the pangas.  Just as I was clearing the fishing area, I noted lightning from across the Sea toward San Carlos, about 80 nm away.  I made the statement, “You stay over there, and I’ll stay over here.  Deal?”  No deal!  For the next 25 nm, I skirted the front, watching as lightning went cloud to cloud, or more dramatically, cloud to water.  I didn’t hear much thunder, which was reassuring to me, as I foolishly thought that meant the lightning was farther away.  Both on radar and by eyesight, the front approached as close as two nm, but I couldn’t stop watching.  It was kinda like the looky-loos that must look at the bad accident.  The electrical show was fascinating, beautiful, awe-inspiring, and pretty darn scary.  There was no place to run to, as the clouds were heading in the direction from where I came, but engulfed the direction I was going.  I began pulling my electronics off their mountings and putting them in the oven, leaving my GPS plotter and radar for last, as they were the easiest to remove.  Why the oven?  Wives tale?  I’ve read for years that putting sensitive electronics into an insulated area may, could help prevent the massive electrical charge from scrambling the intricate workings.  And the fuses probably  won’t block a lightning strike.  So, I did it.

As the hours went by, the front kind of curved away from me as I tried to curve away from it.  This was tricky, as there were numerous rocks, islets and reefs along the way.  With the radar taken out of service, a keen watch was essential.  As dawn approached, I was about 6-8 nm out of the entrance to Bahia Concepcion.  I noted a sailboat coming in from an angle across the Sea, but they were moving nicely under full sail.  There was some radio traffic on the VHF, with a boat calling out to 2 other boats pretty consistently.  They were never answered.  Finally, the operator called out if anyone could hear him.  I responded on my handheld, and another boat answered from Bahia Santo Domingo, the cove right at the northeast point of Concepcion.  The caller wanted to know where this “Dominguez” was.  I told him it was right at the entrance to Concepcion.  After a little more conversation, I determined this boat was the one I had in sight about 1-2 nm off my port bow.  We talked some more, and he stated his depth gauge didn’t work.  Bummer.  Then he said he wasn’t sure about locations because he didn’t have any charts.  I thought, “What kind of a dunderhead goes into a bay that has tons of rocks and islands without a chart?”  And no depth?  He was just looking for trouble.  Then it hit me.  I asked him if his boat had been struck by lightning, and if that was the reason his electronics were down.  He confirmed my suspicions.  He stated after they were hit, they continued on sailing to the Baja side, trying to move away from the activity.  If they had turned around, they’d go right back into it.  As they continued to sail, they noted the boat getting a bit sluggish, so they pulled the floorboards and saw water had filled the bilges.  The engine starter was soaking, so they were reluctant to try to turn the engine over.  Their friends were already down at El Burro Cove, another 10 nm or so inside the bay.  I offered to lead them into Bahia Santo Domingo, allowing them to drop the hook, assess the damage better, and make some repairs.  They opted to try to find El Burro Cove and their friends.  I gave them some waypoints for outside the large cove and then on in to El Burro.  They gave some thanks, and continued sailing on.

A few minutes later, they called back on the radio and I could hear their engine purring nicely in the background.  They said they were having trouble shifting the engine into gear, and found water had gotten into the transmission. This wasn’t turning out to be a little lightning strike.  Later, I heard their friends and other cruisers helped them get things sorted out, irrigated their tranny with oil, got their electronics up and running, and they even got to enjoy the Fourth of July party at the cove.

The next morning, I was happy to hear them on the radio saying things were good and they were sailing along nicely.  Within the hour, they were back on the radio stating they had lost their headstay/roller furling due to the upper shackle being obliterated.  They tied some lines and spare halyards off and headed back over to San Carlos for some big, expensive work and a long call to their insurance company.

This boat was a 47′, newer model of a popular production line.  It had all the bells and whistles boat builders can put on.  For my own lessons, it doesn’t matter how many bells and whistles you have if they don’t work.  Often times, I feel the basics are more important than bells and whistles.  In my humble opinion, two of the most important basics are paper charts and a running log of your position.  My routine includes an almost hourly note of position in my log, and if I’m extra bored, I’ll plot those positions on the paper chart.  If I don’t plot them then, I can always go back later and plot them as needed for a fix, a new waypoint, or a way to navigate myself out of trouble.  Some people have said this is excessive, but it’s a routine that keeps my charting skills up, dead reckoning skills up, and looking at the chart often familiarizes me with any upcoming hazards I may need to be aware of.  This of course is if your charts are accurate.  Here in the Sea of Cortez, the charts plainly state they can be up to 2-3 nm off.  Pretty funny.

I’m happy to say I learned a lot from this leg.  Number one lesson is that I don’t like lightning very much, and plan to stay as far from it as possible, especially with this tall, metal stick thingie that lightning loves in the middle of my boat.  Number two is putting the electronics in the oven seems to be a popular preventative, even among the electrical gurus down here, so I’ll stick with it.  I just need a bigger oven!  Number three is to continue my routine of frequent log and position entries, and plotting of positions on the chart.  You never know…

After I make Agua Verde, there won’t be much internet until La Paz, that I’m aware of.  I know I’ve said this just about every post, but I do know there’s not much out there south of my location.  Take care, Everyone, stay cool, and do good things!  I love and miss you all…

Sailing With Monsters


Makani On Watch

There are two cats aboard Willow with me, my ‘monsters’ Makani and Kai.  Aside from having them on the boat for years, there’s no way I would’ve considered this trip without them accompanying me.  There were a few hoops to jump through in order to make this happen, but they were definitely worth it.  The predicaments they get themselves or me into are humorous, frustrating, time-consuming and fun.  I’m so glad they’re here…


Little Kai

Kai is my little girl cat, a small, pure-bred (inbred) Abyssinian who was in the process of being sent to the pound when I found her.  Her mother was a grand national champion, and the owner/breeder wanted another one and bred Kai’s mom to her own father.  I know.  She is the clumsiest cat on the planet, literally can’t run but bunny-hops, and has broken her leg twice and her other foot once.  I’ll find her staring off in her own dimension, looking intently at the fabric of the seat she’s on, not acknowledging any verbal or other stimuli.  Then I’ll give her a little pet, and she jumps, pupils dilated as she looks frantically around for what’s going on…  She didn’t make the cut with her breeder because her tail won’t stay straight; it hooks a couple of inches from the end.  Yup, put her down for that mistake.


Kai, Safe in her Hideout at Yosemite

She is my quiet little one who wants to sit in my lap and snooze after she gives my face her own specialized dermabrasion treatment with her 60 grit tongue.  Youch!  She is regularly harassed by Makani, the snot-nosed fat red boy cat who lives aboard with her.  Once in a blue moon, she gets her own back at him, and he looks quite surprised when she does.  When we’re sailing, Kai finds a nice secure hidey-hole to curl up in, squeezes her eyes shut, and stays that way until the leg is over.  Once or twice she’ll pop out, find me, give me a rough lick on the face and go back to her safe spot.  She’s a 12-year-old sweet, shy fraidy-cat who loves dogs…

Now the Bad Boy, Makani, is a big lug, weighing in now at around 17 lbs of pure muscle-y fat.  He’s quite the character, but I think this trip has bored him silly.  When we’re out sailing, he wants to be in my lap getting a few comforting pats on the back.  Of course the rougher the weather, the more he wants to be on my lap.  Unfortunately, that’s when I’m the busiest, so he gets closed in below deck.  He’s brought me numerous crabs, moths, flying fish and squid, letting me know he’s helping with provisioning.  Right now, he’s assumed his position on the ‘throne,’ my big cushion-y reclining seat I use on deck.  The bees are buzzing around him in search for water, and he just sits there with his eyes half closed.  He’s just above it all.  Once in a while, he gives one or two of the bees an obligatory swat, but generally he just ignores them.  Since I’m allergic to bees, I’m sitting down below, closed in and sweltering in the humid heat.


The Chief Troublemaker…

Makani’s a paper-tearer, ripping covers off paperback books and obliterating cardboard egg cartons.  Oooh, and does he love styrofoam!  There’s a teething thing going on there, and I generally ignored it until I found him gnawing through the black, small gauge, high-pressure hose line that supplies the freshly made water from the watermaker to my water tank.  He’s worse than a rat!  He’s chewed through the mic cord of my old RAM VHF that was in the cockpit, the 12 volt charger cord, and of course, my tax paperwork.  No one would believe me when I said my cat ate it!  All of that aside, he loves when I’m getting the boat ready or coming back after a sail.  He climbs the boom and curls up in the folded sail. He kneads his claws on the freshly coiled lines.  He loves any open locker, anxious to explore what is hidden inside.  Often he surprises me in another area of the boat, having found that particular locker has a secret passageway to another locale.

A Place for Everything, and Everything in its Place--Makani

A Place for Everything, and Everything in its Place–Makani

The Bad Boy’s the social butterfly of the two.  On numerous occasions, while I’m visiting with other boaters on their vessel, Makani’ll slip his harness and come find me.  Last week, I was aboard the lovely Catalina 470, Voyager, down below enjoying an iced beverage and air conditioning(!).  Makani came aboard and oh, so subtly plastered his face against one of the ports until he was let in.  Loving the cool climate, he characteristically explored, came by for pets, rolled on his back and smiled his own smile.  After charming the boat owners, he didn’t want to leave.  Me neither…

Usually sometime late in the morning, if I’m still at the table working on the computer, I’ll have Makani on my lap and Kai curled up under my chin.  When it’s 95 degrees in the cabin, that gets a bit warm, but the company is lovely.  The look on both of their faces is pure comfort and peace.  No wonder they say having an animal lowers your blood pressure or helps fight off disease.  Looking at their faces at these times just instills peace and a feeling of wellness.  Yup, even with their antics, I’ll keep ’em aboard!  They’re the best crew…

Mision de Santa Barbara, Santa Rosalia, BCS

I’ve been here in Santa Rosalia for the past week, and I love it! There is not one tourist-anything to be found here! This is a small working town, the site of a recently retired (1989) copper mine that had been in service since the 1800s. There was all the bad and good that came with that, and the Mexicans finally had control of the mine at the time of closure. Originally owned and operated by the French, and with imported workers, Chinese, there were no safety standards, and the work was incredibly dangerous. Additionally, the workers brought their own indigenous diseases to the area, and the local Mexicans had a very hard time with that. There were many deaths, both local and work related, and the cemetery up on the hill is packed with old gravestones, some marked, some not. The history is incredible, and interesting.


The Dedication Plaque.  Enlarge it if you can.  Pretty Interesting…

Another interesting note, this mission was designed by Gustav Eiffel, of Eiffel Tower fame. I went inside and sat in the cool peace, and it was lovely. The adornments were simple and lovely, and the building is made of tin-metal. The decorations to the outside of the building, like wainscoting, among others, are metal also. Pretty neat. Jesus lies at rest, just after being taken down from the cross, under the main altar. I watched the Faithful come in to worship, and it was humbling. I asked God to watch over them, me, and all who go to sea. And all who fight fires…


Simple, Peaceful Worship…

The harbor here is not clean, romantic, picturesque, or anything like that. But it’s functional in a way that keeps the Pescadores working, and working hard. The ferry from San Carlos sneaks in right behind my slip every other morning, and I’ve not heard it arrive yet. I’ve done some good provisioning, some good cleaning, some EXCELLENT laundry, and a few minor, routine repairs. I’ve met some great people, and really, am having the time of my life, still. I’m so excited and happy to see what comes next…

I should be at Bahia Santo Domingo again for the Fourth, and will celebrate with the revelers at El Burro Cove from a distance. I should be able to see the fireworks! I hope you all have a great and safe Fourth, do good things, and take good care of each other. I’ll be leaving here at midnight to begin the slow sail back to La Paz.  I’ll be there by the first of August.  I’ll write more when I can! I love and miss you all!