Big Smiles All Around

Team Shindiwillogea:  Mike (Pangea), Me (Willow), Rob (Shindig), and Katie (Pangea)

Last Sunday, Team Shindiwillogea made their debut at the Third Annual Harker Board SUP-Fest here in La Paz. Conditions were perfect: slack tide, no wind, and uber-calm seas in the bay. There were about 125 competitors with abilities ranging from elite-pro (ringers) to those getting their first SUP lesson before the races. To say we all had fun is the biggest of understatements. There were those locals who made a point of learning the underdog’s name, and cheering that person on during the paddling. One elite team came up from Cabo. Harker Board has a number of skilled paddlers, one of whom, Sergio, is also head of athletics for the city of La Paz. Needless to say, he won just about everything.
The morning began with registration and race selection, and then we all stood around looking nervous, wondering who could give us some tips about technique, stroke, or cheating… Soon after, Sergio got up and welcomed us all, and gave the rules and objectives for the races. In Spanish. Now my spanglish is good, but I’ve never heard SUP racing rules in English, let alone Spanish, so we all looked dumbly at one another. Our order was selected, and Mike from the Passport 40 Pangea, was to paddle first. The rest of us loaded onto the bus that would drop us off at the various relay leg starting sites. I was to paddle second, then hand off the baton (paddle and board) to Rob from the Oyster 48 Shindig, who passed it all along to Katie, Mike’s wife from Pangea.

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Katie Makes It All Look Easy….

As the bus left the start area, we all were yelling and waving, laughing and just having a great dang time. Mike did a great first leg, finishing in the top third of the pack. I took over, almost fell, then got my sea legs and paddled hard. A particularly muscle bound guy in front of me soon fell, and I worked hard to avoid him, by millimeters… After about ten minutes, I passed things off to Rob, who had a great leg. Katie finished up, making everything look easy and simple. Hah! We had so much fun with the relay, we began smack talking each other into entering other races. We all raced the short course for non-race boards, and it was really, really a gas. We all had issues with keeping people from literally paddling on top of our board, and the laughter that came with that was gut-wrenching.

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Laughter Was the Order for the Day, Except When Paddling.  Then Gasping Took Over…

Tom and Jeanne from Eagle photographed everything, but I really don’t know how. I would’ve had a very hard time focusing while laughing my hindquarters off. All of the photos are courtesy of them, and they truly did a wonderful job. The best part was that Nancy, Rob’s wife from Shindig, came along to make sure we were all hydrated, where we were supposed to be, and properly cheered on.

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Nancy, Far Right, Was Essential With her Logistics and Strategies…
After, we all met over at Harkers for a big meal, ‘championship talk,’ and numerous laughs. Needless to say, a good time was had by all…

Three Quarter Time…

After the Storm Sunset...

Tonight’s After-the-Storm Sunset…

Hi Everyone!  I hope you all are enjoying a fine Indian Summer with hints of Autumn, depending on where you are.  Stay warm and comfy, and thanks for reading!

The title of this post means alot right now.  I’ve started a number of the chores on my list of repairs, upgrades and maintenance, and have actually finished few.  A bunch have been completed right up to the point that I found I needed that elusive knibbling pin, torsion fortenator or other essential piece of gear that either is on order, I can’t find, or I dropped in the drink.  I’ve stated it before: don’t EVER drop your knibbling pin overboard!!  In my case, it was that stinkin’ shackle for the headsail furler…

CSI, La Paz…

The caprail has been lovingly varnished and looks beautiful, except for one inexplicable blemish.  Can’t quite figure out what caused it.  The tiller is done, and all gear put back on for the windvane and autopilot.  I have replaced the termite-ravaged piece of my companionway turtle, and prepped it for varnish.  Just needs a quick roughing up with 220 grit, as does the existing varnish adjacent to it.  My head/shower sump pump gave up the ghost, and I replaced it with a new one, properly installed and anchored like I should’ve done last year…  I’ve re-built the manual bilge pump, except for the I-bolt on the main rubber flange that has frozen and corroded.  Why aluminum articulating parts that will live in seawater…  The replacement bolt is now a heavy duty plastic and should arrive in about 10 days.  Since that pump is out of service, I tried switching the new sump pump to bilge pump service with the original Y-valve, and of course, I heard a loud CRACK.  Heavy sigh.  I replaced that with a newer, should-be-better model, and then took apart the old one.  It had run out of lube (silicone grease), and I hadn’t thought to re-lube it.  It’s put back together, re-lubed, and waiting in the spares locker.

The best part of all this?  My electronics epiphany!  With the help of Tom from Eagle and Rob from Shindig, I’ve finally seen the light, and it’s a pretty dang bright one!  I’ve been struggling to understand how and why with all of my charging equipment and really modest (so I thought) need, why were my batteries discharging so quickly and failing to take a full charge during recovery.  Tom loaned me a clamp-on AC/DC meter so I could check the amperage load coming in and going out on all my electrical appliances.   My two solar panels were giving me more than 10 amps in the afternoon, good sun, and not 100 degrees.  My wind generator was giving me 9 amps at 10-12 knots of breeze.  Nice!  Well, the wind don’t blow all the time, and the sun don’t shine all the time, but I was still pretty pleased.  As I moved the meter through my electronics, I finally got it on the refrigeration’s positive wire.  Switched the refer on, and the meter showed only 6 amps of a load.  Dang it, and I thought that would be my mystery.  Well, about 90 seconds later, the compressor cycled again to 14.5 amps, and held.  Wow.  That was my mystery, in black and white (or digital grey…).  I can’t wait for the new refer system that brags of a 3-4 amp start up and a 2 amp cycle.  It’ll be interesting to see if it lives up to the advertising, but anything (almost) is better than 14.5.  It’s no longer such a magical mystery to see where all of my juice has been going.  It feels good to know…  Needless to say, a clamp-on meter will soon be part of my permanent inventory…  I’ll be adding a freezer section to the existing icebox, so I should be able to actually freeze food intentionally, too.  As all of this unfolds, I’ll take some photos and update with some real time facts.  Should be a fun, though costly, experiment…

Take care, Everyone, and there’ll be more very soon!

And the Chores Begin (Did They Ever End?)…

Last week or so, I made the decision to head for Hawaii in the spring.  At the moment, I’ve compiled a list of things to finish before I leave.  The list, subject to constant revision, looks something like this: Haul out, new bottom paint.                Repair two large blisters.  Consider extending the rudder stock in order to tolerate the extra weight/torque of the current extension (may require dropping the rudder).  Clean, tune rig.  Try to fit a used spinnaker.  Replace electric bilge pump.  Rebuild the manual bilge pump.  Add saltwater pump to the galley. Repair termite damaged turtle.  Add switch to desulphator.                  Replace watermaker panel gauge.  Improve refer efficiency. Check portable generator.  Refinish tiller.  Refinish caprail.  Get HAM license.                                    Check Wx/Routing/Timing.

That’s about all I can think of for the moment.  I must admit, I ordered new refrigeration for the boat.  The current system, an Adler Barbour Cold Machine, worked flawlessly in So. Cal.  The ambient air temperature rarely got above eighty degrees.  It’s at least that when I wake up in the morning here.  The workload this older system and the heat puts on my batteries is phenomenal, with a constant cycling at 10-12 amps at the start of each cycle.  I did some homework here, and have decided on the Cool Blue Technautics system.  It uses a holding plate instead of an evaporator, and gives me a greater surface area to remove the heat in the icebox.  Tom Brown of La Paz Cruisers Supply is giving me a hand with a lot of advice on the unit and installation.  It should arrive in 2 weeks or so, so I’ll let you know how things go.

I’ve begun work on the teak companionway turtle that was ravaged by termites.  That warrants a pirately arrrrrrggh!  They were particularly hungry.  I gave the wood to someone who was taking it out to be precisely cut, as this section of board has a curve to it.  I got it back pretty quick, but the millworker didn’t take into account the bend, so it was too short.  Back to the drawing board on that one.  My caprail has 4 new coats of varnish on it, and the tiller 6, and I’m hoping the weather’s cool enough in the morning to get the final coats on both of those items.  If I’m successful there, I’ll be able to rebuild the manual bilge pump in the afternoon.  I just got my Yankee back from Snug Harbor Sails, and Doug and Meri did a great job of re-stitching the sacrificial Sunbrella cover back in place.  The only thing I’d recommend is not dropping the odd-shaped shackle overboard when reattaching the sail to the furler (Insert appropriate cuss words HERE).  For the moment, the tack is lashed to the furler until I can replace that dangfurnabit shackle…

My plan is to continue whittling away at the project list through December.  Then I may head back over to the mainland to Punta Mita/La Cruz for a bit.  I haven’t decided if I’ll haul in La Cruz or Mazatlan.  The big ticket items are the haul out, refer, and spinnaker.  I’m working on my creativity and bank account for those.  Everything else is just part of the ongoing maintenance to keep Willow safe and her crew happy. I hope you all are enjoying the beginning of Autumn!  Take care, and know I love and miss you all.

Predictions, Decisions, Transitions, and Doubts…

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Hi Everyone!

I hope this post finds you all happy, healthy and enjoying life as best as you can.  I think it’s the first day of Autumn, so enjoy!

I’m sitting here in La Paz, thinking about this morning’s weather forecast: rain, heavy at times, for a total of 1-2″ by tomorrow, clearing tomorrow afternoon.  I took my long walk this morning, getting it out of the way before the rain hit.  It’s now 1630, and there’s not a cloud in the sky.  Anywhere.  It’s pretty incredible, actually: warm, very light southwest breeze, and the promise of a bright moonrise once evening falls.  Just goes to show ya, pay attention to predictions, plan for their forecast, but always leave room for Plan B.  For me, today’s Plan B was making the decision for the next number of months.  I’m so fortunate to have the ability to try these things, acknowledging completely how many people can’t.

For me, the next few months involves getting Willow ready to cross half of the Pacific to Hawaii.  For some of you, I can imagine the eye-rolling why-wouldja-wanna-do-that; some of you could be pretty excited for me; and some of you probably want to have my head examined.  Well, that’s been done, at one point extensively and literally, and no one can really explain me, especially me.  I’ve sailed from Hawaii back to the continent, and now really want to sail the other way.  It’s where I first saw Willow, nee Miladi, and knew she was for me.  Additionally, I have been enamored by outrigger canoe paddling after spending years watching Dana Outrigger paddle the harbor where first Samgeo, then Zapatito, and finally Willow rested while I worked.  I watched those paddlers, wondering if I could ever do that, and being quite envious.  Once I got Willow to Avalon and was working there, a group of nine of us trained for the US Championships, a race from Newport Beach to Avalon.  Needless to say, my apetite was whetted for more, and I got that after arriving in Ventura.  I saw a poster up in the local Starbucks advertising Hokuloa Outrigger Canoe Club.  The particular time I saw that poster found me in a serious funk after mentor and very good friend John Callahan died unexpectedly, with my former recent boyfriend following three weeks later.  Joining that club changed my life.

The ‘ohana’ this club showed to me was phenomenal, and none of them knew me or my story from Adam.  Even more, we put together a pretty good old ladies’ team, and took trinkets home from just about every race we entered.  Whoo-ee, I’m hooked!  I fell in love with my team mates, the physicality of the sport, the connection with the ocean, the strength required, the rhythm of the stroke (or stoke?), and the necessity for us all to work together to move this heavy, ocean-going craft across the sea.  We all were doing it for fun, but the early Pacific Islanders knew outrigger canoes as we know our automobiles, baseball, and ipods.  I want to learn more, want to paddle where they paddled, sail where they paddled, and stay connected with the ocean.  The solution?  Sail to Hawaii!

I love Mexico!  The locals have such a gracious hospitality, giving to you whatever they can for nothing more than a smile.  I’ve slaughtered their language to their delight and laughter.  I’ve spent time in some of their large coastal cities like La Paz and Mazatlan, and sailed to some really quaint small working towns like Tembabeche, Agua Verde, San Evaristo and Santa Rosalia.  Everywhere I’ve gone, the scenery has been stark, amazing, beautiful and awe-inspiring.  And I have nothing less to say about their people.  I find the time has come to move along and explore new places for me, give my space to a new adventurer.

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I’m doing my homework with pilot charts and world routing books, learning the best times to make a trip like this.  The tricky part is coinciding the best routing weather to the greatest outrigger races in the islands, and then giving me the opportunity to sail back to the continental US in safe weather.  Where in the US, or even Canada I haven’t decided yet, relying on the best times for the appropriate destinations and weather to dictate my movements.

What the heck does all of this mean?  I wanna sail to Hawaii, paddle an outrigger race, and then come back knowing safe spots to keep a boat in Hawaii are scarce.  The best, absolutely best part?  I’m dedicating this passage and subsequent race to the organization known as “Oceans of Hope.”  In a nutshell, this non-profit asks participants to gather donations to support The Sarcoma Alliance, which helps people get second opinions for support in dealing with this uncommon killer.  I’ll have more details about this, and another webpage, as I move along in the realization of these goals.

Even more, I’m hoping we can get together a group of paddlers from my favorite ohana of Hokuloa to meet me at the race location so I can move another ocean-going craft in Hawaiian waters, this time with my favorite people with me.  As I suss all of this out, fellow paddlers, think about it.  Family members, think about a nice trip to the islands.  And those who can’t join me, consider helping me along by contributing to this cause, Oceans of Hope.  Committing to this organization helps me wipe away any doubts I have whenever I untie my docklines.  My boat, she’s a good and seaworthy one.  My skills, they’re sharp and competent.  My doubts, they’re always my worst enemy.  Help me along the way, won’t you?

Visit Home

Hi Everyone, and Happy Labor Day weekend.  Used to be, this was the last weekend of summer before all of us kids went back to school.  Now kids are in school for 2-3 weeks by now!  Whew! At least their first holiday weekend comes quick!  I hope you all are enjoying this day, thinking of what the weekend means, and staying cool.  I think it’s hot everywhere…

I flew from La Paz to Tijuana on Volaris Airlines the first week of August, and it was a good experience.  At TJ, I caught a shuttle to the border, walked across after checking back in to the US, and walked to where another shuttle would pick us all up.  Since the driver decided to go to Otay Mesa instead of San Ysidro on account of the waiting lines, the shuttle on the US side wasn’t there.  It showed up after about an hour, an hour I had the pleasure with which to meet my fellow shuttle-mates and hear their stories.  It was alot of fun, and an adventure.  Oh yeah, the monsters got to come, too.  Now THAT part was an adventure.

It was 111 degrees at La Paz airport the day I left.  With the cats in the carriers, I wanted to stay with them as long as possible, trying to shorten the amount of time they sat in the baggage area or on the tarmac in that heat.  Being the good passenger that I am, of course I arrived 2 hours early, and boy, am I glad I did.  I checked in at the counter, and this entailed Security going through any baggage that will be checked.  That meant the monsters’ carriers.  So, the monsters came out of the carriers and leashed, just sat on the table while Security inspected the carriers. After paying their fees ($10 less than my seat, each), I went through another screening.  This one is where I get radiated to my eyeballs.  Of course, the monsters had to come out of their carriers for this, too.  They did without issue, and pretty much impressed all who were watching.  The rest of my baggage was carry-on, and now had to be inspected.  Computer, carefully packed, iPad, carefully packed, camera, carefully packed, all had to come out, as did that suspicious looking chart plotter.  No problem.  The cats were sitting calmly as I took everything out of the bag, trying not to spill my underwear and bras on the table.  Wait, I had to take my belt off, too, as I was wearing my blue jeans because they took up too much space to pack.  I slowly walked through the ‘radiator’ and of course, all the bells and whistles went off. The cats, too.  As I was scanned by the giggling female attendant, the cats sat, bored.  I was motioned forward to explain that suspicious GPS, and said it was going home for repair.  They nodded, and let me pass.  As I was trying to herd the cats back into their carriers, a supervisor arrived and said in no uncertain spanish terms that the cats could not be there. As my jeans fell down, I apologized, explaining I just went where the ticket agents directed.  He again told me to leave.  Then he softened up a bit after seeing how calmly the cats were staring at him.  My jeans continued to almost my knees, as I was afraid to move until he said I could.  Flashing all the Security team my burgundy chones, I got the cats caged and gathered up the rest of my stuff. Since I would have to do this all over again, I asked if my computer and other stuff could wait with them.  The staff, now giggling as hard as the female attendant, agreed to watch my stuff.

Escorted back to the main terminal, I put my belt back on so as not to offend anyone or cause a laughing fit.  I grabbed a wall, slid down and sat on the oh, so cool marble floor.  Soon after, the monsters begged to be let out, so I opened their carrier doors.  Makani immediately did the sprawl, extending every inch of himself on the cool floor, a look of happiness on his face.  Kai was a bit more nervous and just wanted to sit in my lap.  For the most part, dogs and cats serve a purpose in Mexico.  Dogs often guard a house or yard while cats are varmint catchers, and the skinniest creatures I’ve seen.  So to see the vieja loca gringa with not one, but two of these things, one pretty dang fat, who were going on an airplane, was an entertainment to the locals. Makani and Kai had their pictures taken, coats petted and ears pulled by Mexicans old and young, large and small. The fat red boy cat of course was in his element, but Kai could’ve done without it all.  Everyone had a smile and a kind word for the monsters.

Twenty minutes before boarding, I went through Security again, and the cats and I sailed through.  I turned them over to the baggage attendants and waited to board.  The flight was pleasant and uneventful, and I was excited to be nearer to home as we landed.  At the baggage carousel, all of my flight mates cheered when they saw the carriers come on up the track, around the corner, and made their way to me.  It was a fun time.

Mom picked me up at San Diego airport and we stopped and picked up some pizza to eat on the drive home.  Lucky for us, the cats weren’t hungry, but I was!  Mom and I talked about everything we could squeeze into the two hours time before we got home.  I drove the monsters on up to my sister’s and brother in law’s home in Laguna.  After a quick greeting, we all crashed.

I spent three weeks settling my recreational use tax issue for the boat in Ventura, got some items for friends in Mexico, got some items for Willow in Mexico, visited with friends, checked in at the doc’s, change-coached a couple of outrigger races (FUN!), SUP’d once or twice, flew with Andrew to SLO (WAY FUN!), and got to spend some quality time with family and close friends. None of that sounds too expensive, but right now I’m broke, so September will be a slim month for me.  My trip back to La Paz was pretty uneventful, except for when the drug-sniffing canine found two items in the baggage area he was very interested in.  Can anyone guess which two items???

Enjoy the weekend, Everyone, and there’ll be more posts soon. Take good care!

Ramblings, Repairs and Rain…

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Sunrise Leaving Isla Carmen Area

Now back in La Paz, I’m doing some repairs that are usual and customary after spending a couple of months out and about, bobbing and weaving through the briny blue.  About a week prior to pulling into the harbor, I noted my marine head (toilet) being especially odiferous, and set out to find the cause.  Well, I found it alright, and it’s not a fixable part.  The large metal and plastic fitting that connects to the back of the bowl sending water into the head so it can flush had corroded and broken off the bowl.  Trying to anticipate as many gear failures as I could, I brought down a head re-build kit for this specific model.  Of course, this fitting is not included in that kit, so I resorted to the “bucket and chuck it” method of relieving myself.  This was a common, tried and true system used often while racing, so it wasn’t a big adjustment.

The day after arriving in La Paz found me heading out early to the marine parts store.  They had a couple of electric heads that flush with a motor and/or macerator, but I didn’t want that additional power draw.  They could order my specific head, but they wouldn’t guarantee an arrival date.  Additionally, there is an import fee, quite large, for wood and ceramic products here.  They recommended another store to me, so I set out on my walk.  There, I found a cheap version of my head in a “compact model,” so I took what I found and taxied back to the marina.  I installed it in about an hour, and boy, was it nice to get rid of the sewer smell and be back to a nice, fresh smelling head.  Yay, me!  My ibuprofen intake will increase though, as it’s a shorter, lower-to-the-ground toilet and due to its base, makes one sit kinda sideways on it, wrenching the back a bit.  Ahh, the pleasures of owning a small boat…

FRBC (Fat Red Boy Cat) Sitting Atop the Dodger

FRBC (Fat Red Boy Cat) Sitting Atop the Dodger

My next chore was to take down my dodger, which is my handmade canvas and plastic “windshield.”  The Fat Red Boy Cat always loved to jump up on it and chase my finger underneath the fabric, or jump down to it after he raced along the boom and hid in the mainsail.  With the advancing age of the canvas and the lack of svelte-ness of the Bad Boy, the inevitable occurred and the dodger tore along one of the seams.  Jeanne from “Eagle” has a good sewing machine and builds canvas products here in the marina, so I threw that repair her way.   It came back a few days ago, and should see me through at least another years’ service.  Yay, Jeanne!

I’ve been spending a couple of hours each day cleaning and polishing all of the stainless fittings around the boat, as well as rubbing out and waxing the gelcoat.  I don’t think I’ll have the opportunity to get to the varnish, but it’s in good shape, so it’ll probably wait until I get back from my ‘visa visit’ to the States.  Also awaiting my return is to better insulate my icebox, and provide better airflow and venting for the refrigeration condenser, as that is just sucking the life out of my batteries here.  If anyone’s considering traveling down here, my ongoing dilemma has been the refer and batteries.  Get what you think is adequate at home, and double it for when you come down.  If you think it’s working well at home, know it won’t here, so look into better ventilation (active evacuation for the hot air) for the condenser, better insulation for the box, and extra power to run it all.  It’s pretty amazing the punch the summer sun packs…

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Will Today Bring a Break From the Heat?

Today, Sunday, will find me taking advantage of the cloudy and hopefully rainy day, for however long it lasts, to work belowdecks on engine maintenance, battery maintenance and house cleaning.  I have no need to go into town for anything until Tuesday at noon, so it’s good to do some of the necessary but mundane tasks.  I must admit, I find a great sense of accomplishment when I do this work, knowing I’m ultimately responsible for the operability, safety and overall success of my little home…

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Early Packing…

During this visa-visit, the Monsters will be coming with me as there’s no way I could leave them aboard for a few weeks in this heat, being visited for ten minutes a day or so.  It’ll be an adventure for sure, but I’ve got their carriers, they’ve been to the Vet for their health certificates, and I’ve got a ride to the airport.  Hopefully, they travel well and safe, and it’s not too traumatic for them (or me).

I hope everyone is healthy, happy, and enjoying the summer.  Take care of each other and do good things!  I miss you all…

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

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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!