Monthly Archives: December 2013

La Paz to Banderas Bay

The Tres Marietas at the Entrance to Banderas Bay

Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Well, I’m off towards Banderas Bay. All is well, the weather is stellar, and I’m slowly sailing along under reefed main and full jib, with the monitor steering. It is such a joy to turn off the noisy engine. I’m moving slower, but a bit more purely, if that makes sense. I’ve got Isla Cerralvo about 8 nm off my starboard bow, and once I’m clear of that, it’s a nice, wide open Sea of Cortez/Pacific Ocean.

Mom, I finally made my bread pudding this morning, and enjoyed a bit of it for lunch. The cabin of Willow is neat and tidy and ready for the evening. If the breeze holds, it would be absolutely amazing for me to continue on without the engine. The wind generator is aiding in the power, as are the solar panels. If there’s a hitch, it’s that my tachometer and hour meter on my engine panel are out, but I think I know why. The wire harness for that runs along the bolts I had help adjusting yesterday when tightening up my alternator belt. Should be an easy fix.

At the rate I’m going, the computer shows 92 more hours until Punta Mita. That is absolutely fine with me, especially if these conditions hold. I’ll continue to update pretty much daily with Sailmail. I don’t know how I just changed the font, it just did it. Boat ghosts. Just know, if you don’t hear from me for a day or two, this system is dependent on weather, propagation and sun spots. So, DON”T WORRY!!! There’re a lot of other boats out here with me…

Sailing slowly but beautifully. Right now, my ETA is for sometime Sunday, but that may change. All is so stinkin’ perfect!

Thursday, December 19, 2013
This short little passage has been one of epic proportion for me and Willow. I have been so much more relaxed, content with my power situation. For the most part, the light breeze has been forward of the beam, and I’m going downhill to weather… Figures. BUT, the windvane has been driving her perfectly, I’m influenced now by the long, rolling ocean swell, and there is a nice lil’ breeze. When it’s above 4 knots, the wind generator starts putting some juice back in the bank, and it’s all finally dialing in and making sense. Last night, I sailed all night, be it slowly, and just listened to the water music along Willow’s hull. I used the engine this morning for an hour just before sunrise, as I needed to move for a freighter, and for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon when I was in the wind shadow of Isla Cerralvo. Other than that, I can’t tell you how much more of a sheer, delightful, absolute pleasure it is to sail without worry of power consumption. I don’t care how long it takes me to get there now. My use is so very moderate, and replacement so far pretty simple, that this is now a joy for me. The refer is working very well, and very little. Such a comfort. The Linklite monitor is truly helping me see my consumption vs production of energy. And my lil’ (oh, and there go whale breaths!) clamp on meter is a God send. The past year was pretty stressful for me, worrying and wondering about my batteries and their condition. I think I’ve finally got it de-bugged. (I know ‘stressful’ is relative to all in the normal world. I’m really not trying to be disrespectful…) It’s such a relief to have this sorted out. Additionally, it’s wonderful to have the windvane really dialed in. Set it, forget it. Just monitor your compass course. I feel as though a whole bank of light bulbs just went off…

Don’t worry about the length of time this trip is taking. The wind is light, and I’m enjoying every second of it. I’ll continue to keep you posted. That’s all for now.

Friday, December 20, 2013
All is well aboard Willow. I’m about 186 nm out of Punta Mita, sailing nicely along, still going to weather, at around 3.5 – 4 knots. The windvane is driving oh, so well, and I need to come up with a good name for it. It’s a handy, hard-working member of this crew; it deserves a name… It’s mostly cloudy out, pleasant temperature, and the sunrise through those clouds was amazing. I had no contacts, radio or radar, with anyone else out here last night, and that’s the way I like it.

I ran the engine for a couple of hours last night as the wind dropped but not the slop off the bow, and I wanted to keep a little headway going. The fishing fleet was out yesterday afternoon, but I was able to avoid them. Willow is again under sail, moving in rhythm with the ocean instead of against it when engine and autohelm move her.

It’s a slow trip, but as I said, I don’t mind since everything is going so well. I don’t think I’ve been over 4 knots for any appreciable amount of time. For non-sailors, that’s about 4 mph… Now, I really don’t want to speed up because that’ll put me arriving after dark. The anchorage at Punta Mita is easy, it’s just making it around the rocks and breakers of this world famous surf spot after dark that is hazardous. As things go now, I should arrive sometime Sunday afternoon, so I’ll try to keep things like this.

I tried numerous times today, Friday, to send out some mail, but there was a front in the area, alot of cloud cover, and I don’t remember what that does to propagation, but I don’t think it’s good. But I must write about the day. And better yet, day’s end…

I was able to sail all day in varied conditions. Initially, the breeze was pretty light and on the nose, and there were the requisite pre-frontal clouds prettying up the sky. As the hours wore on, the seas and the breeze increased, of course, on the nose. The Monitor windvane was driving the boat very well. Of course, as time went on I got cocky and decided to put up the staysail, too. It was lovely. When conditions are right, Willow’s cutter rig rocks! It’s even better when conditions last, which they didn’t. Just as Willow was settling in, the breeze continued to build. I reefed the jib, and for a bit, things settled. Minutes later, I dropped the staysail, as there was just too much canvas up. Still, not good enough. Reefed the jib some more, and it helped, but I was still over powered. The mainsail has been reefed since I left La Paz, single reef, for my own convenience. Time to take in that second reef. That was the trick. Willow settled down, the vane was able to handle the load, and we drove through the line of squalls nicely under control.

Everything remains as is, and I rinsed the salt off me and prepared Willow for night. After making a log entry, I noticed the sky start to color something other than gray. On the western horizon, the hues were first orange, then golden, then a myriad of roses, purples, pinks, yellows and reds clashed in a way only you can imagine, and God can paint. Use your imagination, and you won’t be close. A single snapshot couldn’t do it justice…

I’ll send this off as soon as I can. All is well aboard. Conditions are calming, and I’m about 148 nm from Punta Mita. I should be there sometime Sunday. I’ll stay in touch.

Saturday, December 21, 2013
It’s early Saturday afternoon, and boy, what a difference 12 hours makes! It’s lovely out, warm, patchy clouds, no wind, and a confused but settling sea. Yesterday evening and all night, I was pretty busy. A southerly front moved through the area, bringing SE winds, rain, lightning and no rest! As I wrote earlier, I went through a myriad of sail changes, learning to speak ‘windvane.’ The boat’ll tell you what it wants, you just need to be able to listen, then act.

Well, the wind rose and rose on up to a steady 25 and frequent gusts to the low 30s. The winds were abeam at first as were the seas, and then they clocked aft later. After alot of work, what worked best for us was a tiny little jib out with the vane driving. Took a while playing to figure that out, but once I did, things settled down a bit. My next play was going to be heaving to, but I didn’t have to go there.

This morning, things broke and began calming down. Right now, I’m about 85 nm out of Punta Mita, and should get on the hook by 5PM tomorrow. Don’t worry, Mom, I’ll call.

The learning curve on this passage has been huge, and Willow has performed beautifully. I have a list of small adjustments and fixes here and there, but nothing big. Enjoy your weekend, and know I’m thinking so much about all of you! I’ll probably write once more tomorrow, and then it should be regular email again. I love you all and miss you!

Sunday, December 22, 2013
Woo-dang-hoo! I’ve got the punta of Punta Mita in sight, and better yet, a big, fat rain cell is just about ready to go overhead. It would be absolutely perfect to get a nice, fresh water bath right about now, for me and the boat. I had a great but lumpy night of sailing, and for now, am just ghosting along. Once I get near the point, I can head up a bit and sail a bit faster the last two or so miles until the anchorage. I’d put out a bit more sail, but that cell looks like there’s a bit of wind in it, and I’d just fight to get it back in. All is well, and it’s (ooooh,it’s pouring right now!) nice to be able to see where my finish line is. Because it’s been so lumpy, I haven’t seen as much sea life as I did last year, but the whales are out! I may have even hit one early this morning. I felt a solid, but soft, jarring as I was slowly making way. No damage that I’m aware of, to me, Willow, or the whale.

I’ll go on and sail the last 9.6 of my miles now. I love and miss you all, and thank you for following and supporting me on this little leg. Have a great beginning of Christmas week!

Updates, updates, updates!

First Update: Merry Christmas and a Most Blessed Holiday Season to You All!

Second Update: It’s pretty blowy out here on the hook. We’ve had a good solid week-plus of north winds, and the nexxus should be this afternoon when it climbs up in the 30 knot range. Every inch of anchor chain I have is out, and it’s not the wind so much as the wind-wave causing fetch that makes it questionable. I’m holding well, but some of my neighbors are wandering about. Hopefully, the owners return to their boats soon and fix things, or it will be a not fun night out here.

Third Update: 98% of the work I set out to complete has been completed! Bottom work, done. Refrigeration, done. Manual bilge pump re-build, done. Battery ongoing maintenance, done (and doing…). Engine maintenance, done. Rigging maintenance, done. Left to do: saltwater in the galley. I have the equipment and supplies to do this, but I’m trying to decide which thru-hull to T off of. The easiest would be the raw water intake for the engine, but I learned that could cause warranty issues, and possibly affect cooling water for the engine. So, I’m trying to suss that one out. The other project left is to get a downwind sail, and the rigging upgrades to go with it. I can get the sail, but if I don’t have a halyard to raise it with, it won’t do me much good. So, that’s the last of the costly items.  The sail/halyard would be a nice-to-have and not a need-to-have before Hawaii. Willow’s in good shape, floating nicely on her new, straight lines, and hanging through the blow.

Fourth Update: The sunrises and sunsets out here have been epic of late. I think there should be a meteor shower coming through the area soon, so that’ll be fun to see.

Fifth Update: Temporarily movin’ on! Looks like Tuesday or Wednesday I’m heading across the Sea to the Mexican mainland for a few weeks. I truly loved the time I spent down in Punta de Mita and La Cruz earlier this year, so I’m heading back. I plan on bypassing Mazatlan this time and just make a straight shot on down to Banderas Bay. It’s about 335 nm as the crow flies, and it’ll be good to make a nice, couple-three day passage. It’ll be really good to get some water moving under Willow’s keel.

Update No. 6: There was a lot of excitement here in the anchorage yesterday. When I was in Marina Palmira, there was a decrepit, 100′ wooden sailboat, theoretically built as a traditional Turkish gullet. It had already ‘fallen over’ at the dock due to it constantly taking on water. When the powers-that-be righted her, they did it in a very creative way and drastically bent one of her masts. Imagine a too-tall mast going under a bridge sideways, and that’s what her rig looked like. She was being pumped out twice a day for over an hour, using 3 high capacity pumps, and in less than 12 hours, she was lying very low and bow down again. Late in the morning yesterday, the unknown powers-that-be decided to tow her to one of the yards adjacent to the anchorage. Winds were out of the north in the high teens, and the outgoing tide was running at 180 degrees to the wind. A dive charter boat, about 50′, was loosely tied to the gullet amidships, and was towing her down the channel. There were a few pangas attending the parade, and they were pushing the bow or stern around at the direction of the dive boat. They made one pass to go through the very crowded anchorage to the end tie of Marina Palmar, changed their mind, and backed out. Then they decided to do it again, but this time with more power. They crossed over a mooring pennant, in the process picking up a 32′ unattended sailboat. They dragged her, and the mooring about 50-75 yards. Trying to figure a way out of that mess, the tow boat decided to untie the tow, leaving the sinking 100′ gullet in the command of a panga(!). As they untied from the gullet, the dive boat gave some power to her starboard engine, kicking the gullet into the port quarter and stern of another sailboat, a 36′ ketch. When this occurred, the ketch’s self-steering vane crumbled and a large solar panel bent in half and shattered. At this point, Gravel off S/V True Companion came on by Willow, and we went off to see if we could help. We would up taking the 32′ sailboat off the side of the gullet and directed another panga to pull us all away. They tried, but we were still secured to the now sunken mooring that had been dragged all over. After releasing that line, the panga pulled us away, and we dropped the anchor in a better, safer location. This boat was being watched by someone whose boat was in drydock, and they soon came out with a key to the cabin. This allowed us to open the seacock for the engine raw water. Soon, we weighed the anchor and motored to an even better, safer-er spot and dropped the hook and ALOT of chain. This boat’s now off my port beam, and I can monitor her position easily. What a mess. Some of the good things were Erik from Arial IV had the whole thing on video. There were some statements made from other powers-that-be that weren’t quite correct, and after viewing the video, they quickly piped down. No one was hurt, no boats were sunk, but what a mess. It’s a shame they didn’t wait for Tuesday when the breeze is supposed to be absent or in the single digits.

I’ll post again once I arrive down south.  Until then, have a most blessed season, take good care of each other, and know I love and miss all of you.  Merry Christmas!!

Highs and Low...

It’s been a couple of weeks of really amazing highs, and a few days of a ridiculous low. Boggles my mind that I get sucked into the low part so deeply. You’d think I would have learned by now. The low is the most recent, and I’ll just get that out of the way, so I can better enjoy the highs.

Monday morning, bright and early, I left my slip in Marina Palmira and made my way to the boatyard at the other end of Bahia de la Paz. Arriving a bit early, I found their ‘waiting to be hauled out’ slip occupied, so I made some doughnuts through the adjacent anchorage until the travel lift was ready for me. Hauled, blocked and pressure washed by 0900, I got online to check my daily mail and do my online chores. As I checked my bank balance, I noted my pension check to be missing in action. I phoned the pension department, and the nice man said they didn’t send the check since they couldn’t verify that I was still alive. Assuring the nice man I was in fact, still alive and not speaking from the grave, I asked where in the heck was my paycheck. The nice man said that since the mail they had sent erroneously to my old address was returned to them, they assumed I was dead. Not going into all of the ridiculous details, it took four more days to return my money to me. This occurred at a precisely difficult moment, as I was to send off three checks that morning, and lay down a deposit at the boatyard. Not having anything close to the balance necessary, I was able to contact the creditors and explain, and the boatyard was great enough to waive the deposit. This morning, I was able to pay everyone, not be late for any of the bills, and give the boatyard a good faith early partial payment. So, relieved and no longer frustrated, I can tell all the other fun stories!…

The third week in November, I got an amazing surprise. My mom (MY mother!) hitched a two day car ride with a couple she’d never met, and traveled down for a visit. Marilyn and Will from S/V Shaman One, were able to procure a beautiful Schipperke puppy from the same breeder my sister in law, Melanie, was using, and it was their opportunity to bring the pup down. So, Mom rode along for the fun. Lucky to be traveling in an Expedition with all the perks, it was a long but comfy two day drive. Will and Marilyn took good care of Mom, making sure she was comfortable, looked out for, and acclimatizing well. Arriving two days later and late in the evening, we all visited for a little, and Mom and I went out for a quick meal. I got her settled in the hotel at the marina, and told her I’d see her in the morning.

The next morning, we must have walked for a good 3-4 miles, taking in the malecon and various shops and sights. After a lunch of arrachera tacos, we slowly walked back to the marina. Of course, Sushi Koi was to be enjoyed in the evening, and we had such a good time splanglishing with the chef and groaning in delight at his creations. Mom wanted to walk back to the boat, so we took our time and made it home. One of the things I noted was at no time did Mom seem uncomfortable or afraid. That’s La Paz. And actually, the majority of this country.

Saturday, we took Willow out for a long harbor putz, wandering the bahia from Costa Baja all the way up to the Singlar Marina. Looking at all of the anchored boats at the Magote, Mom imagined herself living aboard in this beautiful community. Changing our venue to beef for dinner, we went to Palermo’s. I watched in amazement as Mom ate an entire, softball sized filet mignon, with a salad, to boot. I was very impressed to see her appetite, as she just hasn’t found much to satisfy her tastebuds at home. Sunday morning, we took a cab downtown to church, and although Mom didn’t understand a word of the Mass, she was able to follow along based on almost eighty years of strong faith. After, we walked through town to the bagel place, and again, I watched as Mom devoured a very healthy, but big breakfast. I was so pleased! We visited, enjoyed watching the very strong family culture of Mexico, and wandered a bit more through the streets. Mom was entranced by the generosity of the locals, old and young, who would go out of their way to help her up a step, hold a door open, or just offer a “buenos dias” to her. I suggested she take some of her new words and phrases home with her and practice with her neighbors in her park.

We picked up the rental car I’d be driving her to Cabo in and drove out to Tecolote Beach. There was a bit of a blustery wind, as the breeze funnels there between Isla Espiritu Santo and the point that makes up Tecolote. The ocean was lovely, and Mom wanted to feel the water. It was a perfect temp for her, cool, refreshing, but not cold, and we beachcombed up and down the shoreline. Again, when it came time to navigate a few steep stairs, a local quickly recognized her difficulty and offered his hand and warm smile. Mom was so gracious in her thanks, and commented numerous times how lovely the people were here.

Dinner that night. Hmmmm. There was no other place to go but right back to Koi Sushi for some more delightful and creative dishes. She didn’t want the evening to end. We had an early morning ahead of us, so we were in bed by 2200.

The next morning, Katie from Pangaea, Mom and I made the drive down to Cabo San Lucas, with a breakfast stop in Todos Santos. A quaint tourist town, we had a great meal at the Hotel California, rumored to be the one and the same topic of the Eagles famous song. After, we walked a few blocks up to a beautiful curio shop where Katie purchased a few baubles, and Mom got a few Christmas presents. Resuming our drive to Cabo, we made the airport in good time, and dropped Mom off as far as we could go. The airlines took good care of her, and my brother met her at the airport in San Diego. She gushed for days of her trip, and is looking forward to returning to La Paz for another visit in February. I was so happy she was able to put aside some long-standing fears and just enjoy this time, the sights, the people, and herself! Brava, Mom!!!