Easy Run...

Hi Everyone!
I’m heading out of La Paz on the way to Los Frailes.
It’s about 1730 Monday evening and I’m noisily motoring along in no wind and rolly, leftover seas. All is well, and the sun is beginning to lose it’s heat. It was pretty strong today, but it’s nice to be out on the water.

I got into town on the 0900 shuttle and walked to the vet to get some cat food. Got back to the boat by 1000, and began the finishing touches for getting under way. Luis the diver was working on the dock, so I asked him if he would change my zinc for me, and it was no problem. He also got those pesky barnacles off the prop. See what happens when you sit for too long??? I was just about to drop my docklines when I plugged in the autopilot and asked the ram to move in and out for me. No go. Crap. I had been in the ‘garage’ Saturday servicing the batteries, and the wire could have easily been tugged out when I was stowing everything back into the garage. So now I had to un-stow things again to get at that wire. Inconvenient, yes. Impossible? No. I called Mike and Katie of Pangaea fame, as they had just left before me, and we planned to sail out of the bay together. I told them I’d be delayed a few minutes.

Tom from Eagle must’ve heard my call, and he came on down. Good thing too, as every time I went into the garage to retrieve the wire and then thread it through the hole to the cockpit, it would disappear again by the time I hauled myself out of the garage. So Tom was able to grab the wire, and he re-wired it for me while I stowed all of the garage stuff again. Twenty minutes later, I was under way, none worse for wear.

Pangaea Reaching Along...

Pangaea Reaching Along…

Pangaea and Willow sailed on out of the bay, took pictures of each other’s boat under way, and then we said our final good byes on the air. They were heading north into the Sea of Cortez for a month or two, and I was heading south to Frailes, and then Cabo. They are wonderful people, as are Tom and Jeanne from Eagle. I will miss my outstanding friends!

Katie and Mike Aboard Pangaea

Katie and Mike Aboard Pangaea

I should make Frailes by noon tomorrow, drop the hook, clean the bottom, spend the night, and then head for Cabo on Wednesday. If all goes well, I may even be underway for California on Thursday, Friday at the latest. I still haven’t decided on my route, i.e. offshore vs just bashing up the coast. Preliminary weather shows it blowier on the coast, so heading offshore for a tack or two, or six, may be the ticket. We’ll just have to see.

I’m going to try to get this sent out before the evening radio nets. Have a good evening everyone, and I’ll write again tomorrow! Mom, Keep healing up! Everyone else, including Mom, know I love you and will see you soon.

Sunset Over Muertos

Sunset Over Muertos

The Next Day

The small, short swells from astern keep rolling on by, pushing Willow steadily along like a choo choo train. There’s little if any wind today, and the sun is bright.  As I approach Los Frailes, the fishing boats increase in size and number.  I don’t know if there’s a bite going on or if this is just normal routine.  All in all, it’s lovely out.  I should be anchored by noon.  My plan is to clean the bottom, clean MY bottom, and get some rest. The evening and night time hours were a bit rolly last night, and didn’t allow for much rest. I’ll catch up tonight, then head out early in the morning for Cabo San Lucas.

In August when I came home, I brought my GPS/plotter for repairs. It got a software update at the factory, but I hadn’t yet re-programmed it to receive AIS signals. That’s done this morning, as is a request to sailmail for some GRIB files (wind prediction) for the area I’ll be sailing in. So, after coffee was on board, I feel I accomplished some of those little niggling tasks that are easily over-looked.

Willow’s moving along just fine, and I look forward to the different geography as I head back up the coast. tomorrow, I’ll start fishing again. It was nice to have a blood-free cockpit for two days, at least. The very fresh protein will be welcomed by all…

I hope you all are having a great Tuesday, and I may write again tonight. I wanted to get my wx requests sent out, and this greeting to you all, too. Take care, keep doing good things, and keep healing, if that applies…

Waiting to Exhale…

A Happy Mom at the Airport...

A Happy Mom at the Airport…

Hi Everyone!

February found me traveling home for my visa visit, seeing friends and family, and celebrating some family birthdays.  My sister, Missy had a big one, but I won’t tell you how old she is.  Let’s just say she’s younger than me, (isn’t everyone) and I’m 52…  My mom and I celebrated her 80th a couple of weeks early, and we wined and dined to our hearts’ content.  I worked on renewing my master’s license, doing taxes, and checking in with my doctor.  All was good with the world, and the IRS decided to begin refunding me some of the way-too-much money they took the previous year.  Oh!  And the best thing was replacing my stolen SUP with a nice, new ULI 12’6″.  Thank you, IRS!!  I couldn’t wait to paddle her!

Once back in La Paz, Willow was good, as were my monsters.  Until I noticed Makani gimping on one of his back legs.  See my last post.  THAT was a fun few days, but it was good to finally have him back to his normal butthead-ness.  At the same time, a wonderful friend to everyone in La Paz, John, had a horrific injury to his left leg.  He was performing a valiant and much-needed rescue of a boater who had been tossed out of a large and powerful RIB with a 60hp engine.  As the boater was grabbing for whatever he could to prevent his unscheduled exit, he unfortunately grabbed the throttle lever, flooring the engine, which perfunctorily ejected him from the RIB.  The RIB then proceeded to travel at high speed and tight circles since the boater hadn’t secured the kill switch to his wrist.  John was able to rescue the man from the water using his small inflatable and small engine, and was filmed trying to leave the area.  But the now unattended RIB, in Christine-like fashion, seemed to literally chase the smaller dinghy down, again and again, colliding with it, running over it, and throwing John and the rescued boater into the water.  This happened numerous times.  During two of those collisions, the rapidly revolving prop made contact with John’s left foot and leg, inflicting terrible damage.  A local panguero was finally able to rescue John and take him to the beach.  An ambulance was called and John went pretty much straight to surgery.  He was able to call Jeanne Walker from Eagle, who accompanied him to the hospital.  An hour or so later, amputation was recommended, as the facility, the best in the region, was unable to effect the repairs necessary.  John opted to try to get to the US and to try and save his leg.  After much work, many phone calls, and the expertise of numerous medical professionals, John ultimately chose to amputate.  He had gotten a nasty infection, and the rebuilding of his foot and lower leg would entail dozens of surgeries and years of therapy.  Tom, Jeanne’s husband, held down the La Paz fort while Jeanne held the indians at bay up in San Diego.  After John was discharged from the hospital, Marilyn and Kim from TechsMex and Cross Marine, respectively, organized an outstanding evening that included a raffle, ‘garage sale,’ and a silent  and not-so-silent auction.  A good time was had by all, and some good fundage was raised on John’s behalf.  Heal up there well, John!

At the end of February, as previously mentioned, was my mom’s 80th birthday.  My sister Missy and her husband Andrew sponsored a family gathering up in a cabin at Lake Arrowhead.  Being a lovely and basic cabin, with no tv, my family had a great time enjoying each others company by playing games, talking, taking long walks, and having a restful weekend.  Mom LOVED it, and what a concept.  None of the modern contraptions to distract one from the simple joys in life: each other.

I had given Mom some plane tickets to visit La Paz once again for her birthday, and we were discussing possible dates over the phone a few days later.  A couple of hours later, she called me and said she had a question, but I had to promise not to do anything about the question.  I knew we were in trouble.  Mom asked me for the signs and symptoms of a fractured hip.  What the…?  She explained she had tripped on a blanket and fallen hard, but was able to crawl to the living room and haul herself up onto the couch where her phone was.  Eventually she went to the ER with Missy and my brother, Mark, following.  There she learned she had fractured her pelvis, and was in renal failure.  Holy cats!

After her discharge from the hospital, she was transferred to a rehab facility to get her back on her feet.  I flew home to help out there since Missy and Mark needed to work, and it was really good to have someone being a squeaky wheel, though a nice one.  After a few hiccups, Mom was discharged, and is now staying with Mark and his wife, Melanie, for a few weeks.  Once I’m back in the hood with Willow, we’ll get Mom back to her own home, with a few improvements thrown in.

What does this mean?  I’m heading up the coast of Mexico and California to Ventura, where I’ll be keeping Willow for the rest of the year.  I’ll be down in San Juan Capistrano to help Mom get all dialed in, and then it’ll be Ventura, preparing Willow for next year’s sail to Hawaii.  Standby for future posts about the bash!

 

Chief Navigator and Trouble-Maker

I would have to say the past month has been filled with some not-as-welcomed excitement. When I left La Cruz for the Baja, I had Willow all ready to go. The monsters were aboard, there was a light breeze, and I was itching to make some miles. As I turned my back to release one of the docklines, you guessed it, Makani hopped back ashore for some exploration. I moved Willow out of the marina and past the anchorage, and happily hoisted sail. Willow was moving nicely, and the vane was steering her flawlessly. Settling in for the 3-4 day crossing, I checked and double-checked my lines, safety measures and navigation. I noted Kai was acting strange, chasing me down wherever I was, meowing at me, and ultimately nipping my leg. In the past, she has been a huge rat fink, tattling on Makani whenever he was off the boat, puking, or doing something he shouldn’t be doing. I know, that’s normally most of the time… Anyhow, I started calling for the monster and looking in all of his hidey-holes. I couldn’t find him. I got on the radio and called Bernard of Simple Pleasures, who was two slips down from me while I was in the marina. Sure enough, he reported Makani lying in the shade of what would’ve been my dockbox, if Willow was still in the marina. So I reversed everything I had already done and headed back to the slip. Makani was NOT happy that I had left him behind. Truthfully, me neither. I gathered up my wayward feline and headed out once again. We had a great but bumpy ride back to Ensenada de Los Muertos, and then ultimately La Paz, and Marina Palmira.

After a few days in the slip, I noted the Fat Boy to be limping on an intermittent basis and missing about 50% of his jumps. Wanting to make sure he wasn’t having an acute problem, I took him to the vet, who recommended an xray. Unfortunately she didn’t have xray capabilities, so she referred me to another clinic. Once there, the fun began… Makani was very tolerant until the vet began sedating him with one shot after another. Soon, he was out. Fortunately, the vet let me in the back to assist in holding Makani in the correct position for the rayos equis. After the first film, I asked the vet if he had a feline equivalent of an ambu bag and some oxygen, as Fat Boy was no longer breathing. He had a good heart rate, but he was just forgetting to breathe. The doctor said no, he had no such gear, no ET either, and just had oxygeno. Yikes. With me holding the O2 tubing in his mouth, the vet did a modified chest compression to fill and evacuate Makani’s lungs. For 45 minutes. All I could think about was the poor monsters brain… It took another hour for him to respond to pain, and at that point, they told me to take him home. This poor guy was so trashed…

After a night of hallucinating, bumping into things, peeing on himself and puking, I took him back to the first vet the next morning. She did not like what she was seeing. She took some blood, and then gave Makani some IV and subQ fluids to help flush some of the drugs out. I took him home, and by now he was walking crooked and seemed to have some problems with his vision. He wouldn’t drink or eat, but I was more worried about the drinking. Finally, at about 2000 hours, he was back to being a butthead. It was as if someone flipped a switch. I was so relieved to have my troublemaker back, and it really seemed like Kai was, too. He’s spent the last two days lounging in the sun and shade, enjoying the easy life. Little does he know he’s about to be put on a pretty strict diet and exercise plan. Yup, Makani’s gonna be taking some early morning and late evening strolls in an effort to get rid of about 4 pounds. I know that doesn’t sound like alot, but that’s almost 25% of his body weight. He’s been a bit too bored lately, with nothing else to do but eat. Come to think of it, me too!

Have a great March, Everyone!

Sunday, January 19, 2014
After a long, bumpy weather beat from La Cruz to Ensenada de los Muertos, I stayed at ‘Muertos’ for 3-4 days. Originally when I arrived, there was one other boat in the bay. As time passed, there were new arrivals daily. When Willow arrived Sunday afternoon, I sent off a sailmail to family that all was good, and relished in a wonderful meal and an adult beverage. After, it was time for some sleep. Monday was also a day for rest, after I noted my senses glazing over at the slightest stimulation. Just took it easy. The monsters curled up, snoozed, and ate. Come to think of it, nothing different there…

Hangin' out, doing what we do best...

Hangin’ out, doing what we do best…

Tuesday, I was up and eager to get through my to do list. I fueled up the tank from my deck-stored jerry jugs. I transferred the fresh water from the deck-stored jerry jugs to the water tank. I noted my propane tanks to be empty (big bummer), and one of the gauges for the regulator stuck on “Full.” Made some water with the excellent power my wind generator and solar panels were putting out, cleaned the salt from my dodger windows and the solar panels, and cleaned up the cabin. Willow did so well on this little passage, the least I could do was give her some tender lovin’ care. I changed out all the watermaker filters, did some sailmail correspondence, and was getting ready for some routine engine maintenance when I was rescued by my new neighbors, Erik and Eulalie from the Passport 40, Elizabeth Jean. They were heading in to shore to see about the neat looking palapa restaurant on the beach. With that invite, I cleaned myself up a little, put my remaining pesos in a little peso bolsa (bag/purse), and took a ride in with them in their dink. Out of the Seattle area, they were fun to meet and learn a little about.

As we approached shore, we all were wondering how deep the crystal clear water was, and when to kill the outboard and lift it up to protect the prop and shaft. I volunteered to walk the dink into the beach from where we were at. I mean, it’s the least I could do, right? So I put my feet over the side and jumped down, looking for the bottom with my feet. I failed to find the bottom until I was in chest-deep water, laughing to myself. As Erik said, we needed a sticker that said “Depths are deeper than they appear…” This is why they call it a water sport! So, as we all were giggling, I dragged the dink on up to toward the beach. Eulalie asked me if I had anything in my sweatshirt pocket, maybe something orange? Crap! My lil’ peso bolsa! I turned around to retrieve it, but it had already drifted/sunk. We scouted the area a bit, but couldn’t find it. Erik and Eulalie offered to buy me lunch, and I’d reciprocate the following day. So, we met up with Jon and Terri from the Island Packet 37 Privilege, and had a great lunch.

The next day, Wednesday, I went at my engine maintenance with gusto. It was time for a little cleaning, a little oil and filter change, a little fuel filter change (both of them), top off the coolant, and just observe the engine running. I can’t say I anticipate this work with glee, but once I’m doing it, I really enjoy it, as it lets me learn more about my engine each and every time I lift the ‘hood.’ After my work was done and I’d stowed everything back in the garage, Elizabeth Jean called and asked about lunch. Oh, good! I get to repay the niceness that was shown me yesterday, and I’ll extend that to Jon and Terri, too! So, I grabbed my credit card and ID, put it in a FLOATING dry bag this time, and waited for Jon to come on out and give me a lift ashore. At the restaurant, very sneakily (new word) I gave the waiter mi tarjeta and told him the pesos from mi amigos were no bueno. No problema! Again, we had a wonderful meal and I really enjoyed talking with everyone. I asked our waiter, Ramon, for la cuenta (the check), and a few minutes later he arrived at the table looking a bit sheepish. He said the system was down and they couldn’t accept credit cards right now. Holy cats, I’m embarrassed! Once again, my evil plot to get someone to buy me lunch worked!!! Two days in a row!!  All four of them were scrambling for every peso and centavo to cover the bill, while I asked Ramon if it was okay if I did the dishes.

While we were all at the table visiting, Erik and Eulalie were taking notes of some must-do’s in La Paz. You know, Koi Sushi, first and foremost, where some chandleries are, important things like that. I think added to their notes was “Watch out for singlehanders who like to help, but then drop their money in the water, and then offer to pay but the credit cards won’t work…” We all got a big laugh out of it, and I think tomorrow night I’ll be treating them all at Koi Sushi…

Later note: We did in fact wander over to Koi, and the chefs distinguished themselves once again! A great meal and a lot of fun was had by all. And, I got to show them I’m not a total deadbeat…

Happy Dang New Year!!!!!

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Yet another amazing sunset at Punta de Mita, Christmas Evening…

Once I arrived here in Banderas Bay, I stayed out in the anchorage at Punta de Mita for about a week.  It was truly lovely and pretty deserted.  There were only four other boats out with me, and I think we all were enjoying the solitude.  Christmas Day for me at least, was phenomenal.  Woke up to patchy clouds, calm seas, but the point was just going off for surfers.  I paddled the SUP (standup paddle board) over to the break and just watched for a couple of hours.  I was watching surfers to my right, and humpbacks to my left.  Could it get any better?  Yup.  When I got back to Willow, I just fell into the water and put my legs up on the board and floated.  And heard the most wondrous whale songs.  My grin was beginning to hurt my face.  Since there were only four of us out here, I made two batches of ooey-gooey brownies and delivered them by SUP in the afternoon to the other boats.  It was a fun surprise for them, and really fun for me to meet the other sailors.  Christmas night, it rained.  And lightning-ed (if that’s a word), and boy, did it lightning!  For over an hour, there was almost a flash/per second, and it was a bit intimidating.  All my good electronic stuff went into the oven, but all for naught.  I recently learned if there’s a window on your oven, the electrical protection is lost.  Sigh…

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Even in the rain, Banderas Bay is beautiful…

A few days later, needing clean laundry and a good battery charge, I went on in to Marina La Cruz.  Tackling the laundry first, I hung the heaviest stuff out to dry.  You know, the towels, cloth bath mats I use to keep the salt outside the cabin, sweatshirts, stuff like that.  Kinda like washing your car, it was the signal for more rain.  About four and a half more days of rain!  I was bringing the dock’s aesthetics down!  Finally, a day or two after New Years, the sun came out and my very well-rinsed clothing dried.  I took the bus into Bucerias for some food shopping, and came back out to the anchorage at Punta Mita.  It’s really very nice out here, and since the holiday season is over and the tourists are returning to school and work, the panga traffic is quieting down.

I love it out here, the peace, the vistas, the other sailors.  Rob and Kai from the beautiful Ingrid ketch, Velella Velella, came by today to chat, and what a great couple!  Rob’s quite an accomplished sailor, doing alot of guided tours, tallship work, and wooden boat work.  Additionally, he’s been involved in an America’s Cup campaign or two, and is generally a pretty neat guy.  Kai is from Alaska, and is such a beautiful and fun girl to talk with.  They’re working on trying to find a way to stay out and about, but are also struggling with making the decision to hang things up for a little while so they can strongly support the lifestyle and boat.  I really wish them well, and am so happy they have been able to do what they’re doing to this point.

Saturday morning, I paddled my board into the beach and stowed it while I took the bus to downtown Puerto Vallarta to get my internet gizmo repaired.  The hour and a half ride, each way, was amazing.  I hadn’t been downtown since about 2001-2 when I came for a boat delivery or two.  And after all of the rain, the greenery was even more so.  Additionally, it was great to be able to get back online…  Saturday evening, I put the SUP away on deck and went to bed.  Something woke me up early Sunday morning, so I went out to do an anchor check.  This was when I discovered my SUP gone.  Oh, I was so sad and disappointed.  I could go on and on about it, and pretty much did all day Sunday.  Today, Monday, I put the message out on the VHF net, and if it turns up, it turns up.  If not, hopefully, someone else really needed it much more than I.  I’ll miss it as a great source of balance, exercise, and I successfully used it as my dinghy since I came down here.  Depending on how my next visa visit goes, I’ll try to chase a used one down and bring it back with me.  As well as a cable and lock for the thing…  I thought with it being on deck, I was in good shape.  Live and learn, and I’m moving on…

I’m sending Everyone my best wishes for a wonderful, peaceful, safe, healthful and adventurous 2014!  Go get ’em!  Much love…

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!!!

So Much…

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Today’s been a joyful day, a full day, a weather day, and a laundry day.  Really, a great day!

I got up this morning to cool and clouds.  Well, relatively cool for Mexico, the low 60’s.  I listened to the morning radio net, but I’d already decided to do what I love to do: prepare Thanksgiving dinner!  I had almost all of the fixin’s, including a full pavo (turkey).  Allowing that to come to room temperature, I began boiling potatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrots.  I smushed them all together in my version of mashed potatoes and put them aside.  I made a rue and added a whole ton of beautifully fresh spinach and let that cook.  I rinsed the turkey, seasoned it inside and out, finishing with my secret ingredient: herbs de Provence.  In the oven the pavo went.  All I had left to make was the stuffing, and it could wait.  There was a concert going on nearby.

Walking down to Pangaea, I could already hear the sweet sounds of guitar as Mike and John from Time Piece plucked some strings.  It was fun to visit, extend Thanksgiving wishes, and laugh with Katie and their visiting friend, Al.  Soon Scott from Scot Free arrived with his guitar, and really showed us all how to play.  The whole get together was really a lesson for Mike from Scott, but we all were lucky to reap the rewards.  At times, Katie joined in the fray and sang for us.  There was alot of music coming from this boat, and I see a music related ‘Safety Meeting’ on dock 3 in the near future.  (Why Safety Meeting?  The marina rules forbid dock parties, so we all just have alot of Safety Meetings.  Needless to say, Marina Palmira is one of the safest marinas in the country!)

There was a large get together of gringos this afternoon here at the marina.  They all gathered to have a turkey dinner, but it just seemed too big for me.  Nothing wrong with the beautiful gathering, but I’m finding in my old age (hah!) I’m shying away from the big group things.  I found as I was cooking my celebratory meal, I was thinking of all the good times the aromas and recipes were bringing back to me.  I thought while making the stuffing of driving my dad batty while I tried to ‘sample’ the fixin’s and tell him how it was coming along.  Year after year, I had to ‘supervise’ the stuffing preparation.  I remembered Mom and Grandmother preparing the spinach, with the gravy right after, both leaning over the stove to make sure the recipes were perfect!  I remember arguing with my brothers and sister over who got a drumstick.  I remember the time the turkey went flying to the floor, but the 5 second rule was in effect, and ‘no one knew’…  I remember always having Grandmother over, along with the Dobbins and their extended family.  As I grew older, I was fortunate to be able to share Thanksgiving with my second family, the LAFD.  True family days, everyone’s family gathered at the fire station to help prepare a meal worthy of Kings.  Unfortunately, often time as not, we didn’t really get to sit down with everyone, as Thanksgiving was one of the busiest days of the year, as I remember.  The holiday was celebrated as a true family gathering, and I smiled as I thought back to those days.  Good food was had by all, good drink, and great visits.  Today, I’m so very thankful I’m around to remember those days.  I’m so thankful to have had those occasions, and I’m so very thankful to all who work and give for us all to be able to enjoy our freedom, and our families.  I’m humbled by you all…

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Reflections...

It’s been a year since I made my way down to Cabo San Lucas, and what a year it’s been! I hope everyone is enjoying the Autumn weather with earlier sunrises and sunsets, cooler weather, and anticipation for the family and friends gathering together in the very near future…

As for an update on my To-Do List: I built and installed the partition to create a true freezer section in my icebox. It went according to plan, and I thank the many friends who gave me valuable input. I just need the new refrigerator unit to arrive. I’ve completely repaired the leading edge of my companionway turtle, and finished it off with some beautiful varnish. I created a new, updated vessel float plan that will be distributed properly soon. My insurance has been renewed, and I checked and serviced my portable generator. I jury-rigged a shackle for my roller furler until I can get the correct one in place. I properly installed a switch on my desulphator unit. When it cycles on, it interferes fiercely with my SSB radio. Now I can switch it off when I need to transmit or receive on that radio. The fluids and filters on my engine were changed and refreshed, and I checked the usual locations for chafe. My tank has been filled with fresh diesel, and I’m waiting to fill my jerry cans with the same. I cleaned out my lockers of clothes, food, and utensils to send off to the Women’s and Children’s Shelter. I’m looking forward today to getting the ‘under construction’ grime and tools cleaned, stowed, and put away. It’ll be lovely to get Willow tidy and sea-ready again.  I purchased one of the two gallons of bottom paint I’ll need for Willow’s haul out.  The second gallon I’ll get after the first of December, with the haul out taking place on the second.  It’ll feel so good to get finished with that.

With all of this work, is there any time for fun? Abso-dang-lutely! Aside from continuously meeting outstanding and wonderful people, I’ve been able to mix and mingle just a little with the local folks.  Jeanne from Eagle has so successfully immersed herself in the local scene; I try to follow along with her when I can… 

Eeerk!  Stop the presses!  I was going to try to write a poignant post about how happy I am to be here (which I am), how perfect life is (which it is), when I was interrupted by a friend who is having some mechanical issues with his boat.  I offered to take him to a special bolt tienda to get special bolts for his motor mounts.  Since this special bolt place is on the outskirts of town, I decided to fill my propane bottles at the CaliGas plant that is also on the outskirts of town.  A wonderful couple, the owners of a 34′ sailboat, asked me to ‘watch’ and drive their car for them while they came on down the Pacific coast on another sailboat.  What a gift!  Since so many others have been so kind to me and offered me rides to various stores, warehouses, etc…, I have passed that on to some here who don’t have access to an automobile.  It’s been a wonderful opportunity to spend some nice time with some nice folks, and lend a little hand. 

So, John and I head out to find his special bolts, which we really found close by, but since we had propane bottles in the car, we decided to head out anyway to get the propane.  We both were enjoying the ride when the Policia Municipal came right on up behind me and pulled us over.  Okay.  No problem.  Hands on the wheel, sunglasses off, window down, a Buenos Tardes and a smile.  The officer asked me for my license and told me I had two problemas.  Primero was that I had no ‘sinta.’  I looked at him, since John and I both had our seatbelts on from the second we got in the car.  Then he told me I was speeding.  He looked at my license, and told me I could take a ticket and go to the Estacion de Policia after 8PM tonight to pay, or I could just give him a hundred bucks right now.  I told him that primero, I was not gonna pay him a hundred bucks right now, and that I wanted to know how he knew I was speeding?  He answered that I had passed a number of cars, so that shows I was speeding.  How could I pass all those cars when I was in the slow lane?  He kept repeating the hundred dollar request, and I kept telling him no way.  I also told him that I was a bombera y paramedica in Estados Unidos, and I understand the seriousness of speeding and wearing a ‘sinta.’  Oooo, I was getting frustrated.  He told me all would be okay if I just gave him one hundred dollars.  I asked his name, and he was reluctant to tell me.  I knew I had the upper hand then.  I told him I didn’t have one hundred dollars, had no American money for that fact, and that I wanted a ticket.  I don’t mind going to the police station and paying there.  Well, this he didn’t want to occur.  So he downgraded my two serious problems into one not so bad, and that would cost me only fifty dollars.  US.  Again, I told them I didn’t have any dolares.  I was making him ask for pesos, and he completely thought I was lying.  I wasn’t lying, and was willing to go to the police station to pay my fee, but now he was refusing to write me a ticket.  I told him I’d give him 300 pesos, about 25 bucks, and he and his compadre could go to lunch.  He took it and walked away.  Oooooo, I was so mad…

How and why did this happen?  I can’t prove a thing, but when I’m riding in someone else’s vehicle, I always watch what the numerous different police officers/agencies are looking at as we drive by.  The sequence always goes from the license plates, to the vehicle, to who’s driving.  The car I’ve been lucky to drive is a nice Lexus SUV with CA plates.  That did me in.  My officer Armando de Seccion Ocho didn’t think I spoke a lick of spanglish and was just a rich, white gringa in a nice, foreign plated car.  I know what sinturanda (seatbelt) is, what speeding is, and what a C note is.  I think what helped me get this knocked down was that I was speaking as much spanish as I could manage, I remained polite and respectful, insisted he wasn’t gonna get that amount, and mentioned my prior public safety stuff.  He finally gave me his name when I shook his hand after giving him the lowered rate.  He was not going to write a ticket, but I wasn’t being released until he got some of my money.  I hope he and his partner got a good lunch. 

So, instead of the nice post I had planned, you all get to read of my first real frustration of this all too common occurrence down here.  After I simmer down a little, I’ll write another ‘rainbows and butterflies’ post.  Take care everyone, and Happy Dang First Year to me!!!