Monday, March 28, 2011

La Cruz to La Paz and RIP Robyn

2300, Friday, 24 March 2011
We have been alongside at La Cruz for the past 6 days attending to a number of chores and getting ready to make our crossing across to the Baja. We have changed the engine oil, painted out the V-berth, equalized the batteries, watered up, replaced the fuse housings for the solar panels, re-marked the anchor chain and made a few other improvements but the WINLINK single side band/ham radio e-mail system still refuses to work, even after changing a broken cable. We have sent an e-mail to the experts in the hopes they can give us some advice.
We have seen several friends here including Ka’sala who will be departing here for BC via Hawaii, Matarua, also headed home via the clipper route offshore, the last leg of their round the world 11-year odyssey. This is the time of year that many of the boats headed for the Marquesas are departing. Several have left Bandaeras bay in the past few days and some of our friends have taken to challenge. Periclees, Distant Shores and Dream Away have been reporting in to the morning and evening nets. We have even heard from 2 BC boats that are transiting west from South America; Silas Crosby a single- hander from Vancouver and our friends Geoff and Linda on Curare, on their way to Easter Island. We have also learned that Naida has decided to call it quits and are preparing to ship the boat home by Dockwise in mid-May.
We have a few more items to complete before we leave La Cruz but we hope to be headed north tomorrow to meet up with Third day in San Blas before heading across to La Paz. All indications point to a respite from the strong northerlies early next week. We were hoping for southerlies and a nice sail across but, with the weather you have to take what you can get and if we have to power all the way, so be it. Looks like, we will have lots of company with many boats heading the same way.
Today we received some sad news. Robyn,our (ex) daughter-in-law succumbed to cancer this morning, less than a 18 months after she first detected it. She put up a brave fight but in the end, it was too aggressive. She leaves behind her daughter Jessica, 17 and Kyle 10.
0900, Sunday, 27 March. Anchored in the estuary, San Blas
We decided to do an overnight passage to San Blas and arrived an hour ago. We are hoping to see Rich and his family on Third Day. They have been the target of a smear campaign by Norm Goldie, the self-imposed head gringo of San Blas. Over the past few years he has succeeded in alienating many cruisers from this lovely town with his radio antics. We won’t have to deal with Norm this time. On our way in we heard Norm calling his home base saying he was on his way to Isla Isabella on a fishing trip.
We should be here only overnight and away tomorrow morning early to take advantage of the weather window for crossing the Sea towards La Paz. Don is predicting 10-15 kts. northerlies for the week, down from the normal 20-30 kts, typical of this time of year. It will not be a comfortable crossing but hopefully we will get there before the winds fill in again.

All attempts to send this off in San Blas failed so we will cover the trip across the Southern Crossing in this one as well.
Wed, 30 March 2011, At Sea.
We are 2 days out of San Blas and if all goes well we should be arriving in La Paz tomorrow. It has been an uneventful 2 days, mostly under power due to lack of wind and , when it does come up, it is right on the nose. Our main and mizzen are up so we are ready if it does shift to our advantage.
We left the estuary at San Blas early Monday morning and bid farewell to Third Day who was intending on leaving the next day and following us across. The radio traffic indicates quite a few boats underway, most headed for Mazatlan before making the crossing and another lot making the crossing from Mazatlan.
Our first day was a choppy ride into a 12-15 kt breeze. We tried to sail but after a few hours we had to give it up because of the wind angle driving us well off our intended track. It was quite a wet ride with the occasional wave breaking over the bow but not an uncomfortable one. This window will only last a few days so the more we make towards our destination the less we will have to endure the northerly winds expected along the Baja shore in a few days. There they can be quite nasty at this time of year.
In the afternoon Fran listened to Norm broadcasting his normal tirade against Rich and his family. Fran had enough and responded to him in kind. With Third day leaving we wonder who will be his next target.
Yesterday was a completely different day. There was a nice smooth south-westerly swell and little or no wind until late afternoon when a few ripples could be seen. We came across a pod of large dolphins, much larger than those we see in the Sea of Cortez. They stayed with us for a few hours. With the stable deck and calm conditions Rosie actually came up on deck and almost barked herself hoarse as she ran up and down the deck defending us against those man-eating dolphins.... Good exercise for her. Rosie seems to be more comfortable on the boat this year, Although she hides behind J-G’s pillow most of the time she has been more active on deck this season. She is eating better and drinking and therefore does her business when it is relatively calm. She was trained to do her business on the bow and she is adamant that is where it has to be done. It is funny to see her crouching down and almost airborne when we go over a wave. She is still nervous of those big flappy white things (sails) but we are hopeful that she’ll overcome that phobia.
Later on that morning we broke the dorado spell when we landed a 23 lb dorado. It was quite a fight but seeing its beautiful colours and its mate circling we decided to release it. What would we do with all that fish anyway?? Maybe a smaller one will bite today. We found a nice plump flying fish on the deck this morning. That should make an irresistible bait. Note: We did hook a large Dorado the following day but it broke the line taking J-G’s “guaranteed to catch Dorado “ lure with it. It was a biggie to break the same line we caughtthe 23 lb on.
We continue to hear lots of boats reporting in on the VHF radio. This seems to be an ideal spot for VHF propagation. We have spoken to several friends in Mazatlan and others south of San Blas and many others north of us on their way to the Baja. Rose of Erin and Naida have arrived in Mazatlan and Full Quiver and Faith are close to departing. We also heard from Optical Illusion. Bill and Janet are getting the boat ready to store bit for the summer and head back home.
2300, 30 March, At Sea
We actually sailed today!! At 0730 this morning the wind backed and came up to 15 kts. We put up the genoa and sailed as close as we could to the wind and were making 6 kts at times, and in the general direction where we wanted to go. What a bonus!! We sighted land as the sun came up and we are now approaching the Ceralvo Channel that leads to the pass we must transit to make the approaches to La Paz. It is going to be a long night...
0900, 31 March 2011, Alongside Marina Palmira, La Paz
We have arrived and it is already sweltering. The breakwater around the marina is a good windbreak and we could use some of the breeze we had yesterday. As predicted, it was a long night but a pleasant one. The wind died just after sunset and it remained light the rest of the way. We are hearing about quite a few vessels that have had fuel issues on this crossing. Powering all the way means fuel consumption that many boaters do not expect. As it is we arrived with 7 gallons remaining in the tank of the 66 we left La Cruz with.
We’ll be here for the next week. Fran would like to see Todos Santos and there is a daily bus excursion that goes there, We’ll also try to get the stainless work finished here, or at least schedule it for next December when we expect to pass through again.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tsunamis and Space stations; we have them all.

Note strut, shaft and missing prop

Note rudder damage and bent strut, missing prop

J-G and a brace of Tecate (Beer company)Girls at the carnival last week

Time: 1705

Time: 1725

Finally, the first fish of the season.

1130, Thursday, 10 march 2011, Anchored in Tenecatita Bay
We are just back from a shopping excursion by dinghy to La Manzanilla, about 5 miles down the coast from the anchorage. We left at 0830 to take advantage of the calm conditions that prevail in the morning, hoping to return before the onshore wind developed. On our way we were treated with a spectacular show of a large whale and its calf frolicking a few hundred yards away. It appeared that mom was teaching junior how to flipper slap the water. We suspect it might be the same pair we observed in Manzanillo bay last month. We made it back by 1030, just as the wind started to blow. It was a wet ride back but we now have fresh groceries and the supplies that we were short of. Now we should be able to stay here another few days but we will have to watch our water consumption carefully.
We are in company with about 15 other boats. The bay has seen a lot of traffic over the past few days with boats entering and leaving on a regular basis. A few of us have taken advantage to the fabulous beach and palapa restaurants almost every day. Rosie has benefitted with long walks and lots of exercise while we have participated in beach games. Narjana has a set of bocce balls and we have a couple of pitching wedges and golf balls. We just invent a game and go from there. After an hour or so we repair to the palapas for beer and guacamole. Fran and other cruisers have brought table games (cards, dominoes, etc) to keep the more sedate amongst us busy.
We have met some wonderful cruisers; Doug and Lanita (Ka’Sala, Comox), Tom and Louise (Narjana), Damien and Erin (Rose of Erin), Ann and Hugh (Serendipity, Port Ludlow), Groovy, and others. We were surprised to see Sweetie (Tony Morelli) arrive yesterday afternoon. Tony owned Moresails and made our sail covers last spring. Tanque De Tiburon also arrived yesterday. It was nice to see them after such a long break and we are looking forward to some quality time with them. They brought with them a number of items we had ordered, a special transformer for the TV, fins for the outboard, a dinghy seat, fuse holders for the solar panel system, a water pump repair kit and a cord for our pactor modem which should fix the problem we have been having with it since we left Guaymas.
The divers were not able to recover Full Quiver’s anchor so Steve and Pam decided to bypass Tenecatita and head directly for La Cruz. Luffin It, the vessel that was struck by a whale has also made it into La Cruz but had to be towed in for the last 30 miles after losing their prop. As soon as they arrived they hauled out for repairs. The photo was taken by Bill and Linda (T de T). Besides the damage visible in the photos above there was a 2 inch shift in one of the aft bulkheads. Sounds like major surgery...The weather and sea conditions continue to be odd. Days are warm but nights are still cool and very humid. We wake up to puddles of dew on deck. The winds have again played havoc on the boats in Barra. There were reports of 30 knot winds and more vessels needing to be rescued. One boat dragged into Windward Bound causing some paint damage. It also fouled their anchor cable and was quite a mess to untangle. Here we have not seen those winds but they have been up to 15 in the afternoons. The swells have been more of a concern here. Although we are tucked in behind a headland and are protected from the direct onslaught of the swell it does get rolly at times. Beach landings and departures are a challenge. Several boats have been swamped and those sitting at the palapas have seen some spectacular dumpings. Although our landings have been text-book we have had a few very wet departures. Rosie has had that wet dog look on a few occasions now. There is also the presence of red tide every few days which ruins any yearning for swimming off the boat.
2300, Saturday, 12 mar 2011, Tenacatita Bay
What a difference a few days make!! Yesterday on the morning net we learned about the earthquake in Japan and another in Chile. We had ears glued to the radio for the next few hours to gather as much info on possible tsunami conditions for our location. We soon found out that the initial wave-front would arrive here by 1325. As we did last year for the Chilean earthquake we headed out of the bay for deep water. Winds were light and from the south so it was not a hardship to sail away from the coast for a few hours listening to the reports of conditions further north. The ham nets were very active and we learned about the wave in Tofino, Crescent City and other locations along the California coast.
After the time for the wave-front came and passed we headed back to the anchorage fully conscious of the 7-10 hour advisory period where subsequent waves could arrive. It was reported that the second wave caused more concern and damage on the California coast.
We arrived back by 1530 and anchored in our spot in about 14 ft of water. By 1700 we noticed a significant surge in the water along the shore. Our depth sounder began to indicate a rapid decrease of depth below our keel ending up at 1.2 ft. Needless to say we immediately weighed anchor and moved to a deeper anchorage location. Between 1730 and 1930 we observed surges of 10 feet that uncovered normally submerged rocks along the shore only to wash back in and completely submerge parts of the beach well above the high water line. (see the photos above. Note the times). The boats also heaved that their anchor cables but, thankfully, the anchors held fast. This morning there was much debris that had been washed down the river from the mangrove swamp floating around us. We didn’t see any critters but in Ixtapa , our friend Kirk (Freedom Kirkland) reported that there was lots of reptiles in the tide line outside that river.
Other nearby locations reported more hazardous occurrences. In Banderas Bay the water rushing in and out of the marinas was so great that the port captain closed the port and threatened to fine any violators $5000. This was the second day of Banderas Bay Race Week. Racing was cancelled for the day but many of the boats that left port as we did were participating in the races and had removed their anchor gear to reduce weight. They were caught with their pants down when the port was closed and had to beg other boats for spare anchors and rodes for the night. The marina at La Cruz was also closed after a dock broke loose.
In Barra de Navidad the channel entrance marker buoys were pulled under by the strong currents. Here too the port was closed. The main water line which spans the channel and is normally anchored to the bottom was dislodged and floated to the surface cutting all access to the lagoon, thus forcing another 20-30 boats to find alternative anchorages and those that chose to remain in the lagoon to be locked in until it the pipe was re-anchored. One boat that had remained in the lagoon broke her anchor cable and was washed ashore. It was refloated, undamaged today. The pipe is expected to be re-anchored by tomorrow. At dusk we saw some strange animals along the shore. Some think they were monkeys while others think they were a lemur type of animal with long brown bushy tails.
Over the past year Mexico has erected some high tech tsunami warning towers in each of the coastal towns and we expected to hear the warning sirens. We have since learned that the system is not yet activated. What a great opportunity to prove the system had they been ready! Nevertheless it was reported by some land based cruisers that the public information system went was quite efficient and many inhabitants of low-lying areas evacuated to higher ground.
Today was quite the quiet aftermath. We spent the morning on boat projects. We spent part of the afternoon under the beach palapas with Bill and Linda (T de T) and a few other boaters watching the 3-4 ft tidal surges from shore. Later on we had the weekly dinghy raft-up, postponed from yesterday. It was very well attended with 12 boats participating. Food choices are always a surprise at these events but no-one goes away hungry. Fran made sushi from some fish we bought from a fisherman passing by this morning.
Tonight we were treated with a spectacular sighting of the space station flying by directly overhead. Tomorrow we expect to head over to Cuastecomate. We have changed our schedule yet again. Cruising plans are normally written on the sand at low water. We are now going back to Barra for fuel (the fuel dock repairs are almost completed) for a few days and over the 17th to see the St Patrick’s Day festivities. We have been told that it is an event that is not to be missed and this may be our last chance to see it. Weather conditions permitting we should then be on our way north to La Cruz by next weekend.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Manzanillo to Tenecatita

Most floats gave candy. This one handed out glasses of beer!! Only in Mexico!

The "not so real" Queens

The Real Queen

22:00, 24 Feb 2011. Anchored in the lagoon, Barra de Navidad
The festivities have begun, the queen will be crowned Saturday and the weekend should be a blast. Mardi Gras in Mexico is celebrated in style. We won’t see as good a parade as we saw in Manzanillo last year but I am sure that the small town spirit of Barra will not be outdone. For some reason Barra celebrates the event a week early.
We have been in Barra since Monday. Our friends Marg and Bruce arrived the previous Thursday by bus from Rincon de Guayabidos. We had an eventful program planned for them. We toured Manzanillo, sailed to Santiago for a day, another day to Cuasecomate and finally back to the lagoon in Barra de Navidad for a day of seeing old haunts. They had a 2-week stay here a few years ago. They left from here Tuesday morning and, from the feedback, appear to have enjoyed the diversion from their condo/apt in Rincon.
We arrived to a very crowded lagoon. We counted 61 boats yesterday morning but there is still a lot of room for more. Many of our friends are here and others are headed this way in the next few days. We had cocktails with Cheyenne yesterday and Koala Kai this evening. Full Quiver arrived today and tomorrow we will have lunch with 5 other Blue Water cruising boats. Unfortunately Sea Turtle 4 left yesterday, on their way south to Central America and beyond. The lagoon is much warmer now than it was a few weeks ago. When the breeze dies it gets stifling. Our first night back with Marg and Bruce we saw what makes it so worthwhile to do what we are doing. The full moon was rising and the water was like a mirror. The sailboats up-moon from us, were outlined in the moons reflection on the water and the sound of the crashing surf on the other side of the peninsula was the only sound. My only regret was not being able to record it in any way.
On the domestic side, there are lots to do. The ever present need to replenish water tanks can be a pain. We will have to look into a decent sized watermaker for next season to relieve us of the need to replenish from ashore using jerry cans. We also have to refuel here but the fuel dock is still out of commission. This entails more trips by dinghy ashore to fill jerry cans with diesel from the local gas station. The bright side of this is that the fuel will be cleaner and 13% cheaper than at the dock at Las Hadas. We have just heard from friends that didn’t filter their fuel from there and lost both engine and generator from clogged fuel filters enroute to La Cruz. The bright-work also needed sprucing up so J-G spent the better part of 2 days polishing all of the stainless using a product called Flitz. It is quite expensive but a small amount goes a long way and it does an excellent job. Just to be on the safe side he finished the job with a sealer wax. Hopefully this will last the season.
J-G is still doing the SSB net on Monday evenings. For the past 2 weeks he has also done Wednesdays for another operator who is away. He also volunteers for the local nets when no-one comes up. Fran is beginning to feel like the subject of a song by Eilean Quinn, “SSB Widow”. Eilean sings about cruising subjects and some can really hit home.
21:30, Sunday, 27 February, 2011
Happy birthday to our son Chris!!!
It has been quite a day! It started with a boat going aground on its way into the lagoon. Why anyone attempts to enter without the waypoints is beyond logic! It took a number of dinghies and a panga to get him off the bar. Later we got a NW wind blowing 20-22 kts until past sunset; the forecast was for the light offshore winds we have experienced over the past few weeks. Boats were dragging all over the anchorage and several of us, who had decided to stay on our boats, played the Barra Rodeo circuit rescuing boats and dinghies for a good part of the afternoon. It is an excellent way of meeting people....
The wind conditions caused us to miss the Mardi Gras events ashore and the special Oscar reception held at the Grand Bay Hotel/Resort. So far the events in town have been fun. We have made a point to attend the shows in the town square where comedians (Spanish, so lost on us gringos), singers and dancers have performed. Mexicans like their music and announcers LOUD, so after the first show we have been bringing ear plugs with us. Hopefully we won’t miss tomorrow’s crowning of the “Gay” princess tonight and the parade on Tuesday.
We have had our wheel recovered with leather. Weston is a craftsman who has been doing this for years. He did a few last year for other boaters so we were glad that he was still here this season. He finished it today and it is beautiful.
2230, Monday, 28 Feb
Best laid plans... We had another very windy day. This time the wind blew steadily in the mid 20s and we saw one gust at 26.4 kts. Boats behaved this time and no rescues were required. We stayed aboard again and had another “movie night” with microwave popcorn done in a pot on the stove. Whatever the conditions are tomorrow we will not miss the parade.
1800, Thursday, 3 Mar
Another quiet morning in the lagoon at Barra. Boats are arriving and others are leaving to go north and south. The wind conditions are always best for moving offshore between Manzanillo and Cabo Corrientes in the morning hours before the daily diurnal wind sets in. Normally that means 10-15 knot northerly winds, either on the nose for those sailing north, or directly on the stern for those proceeding south. We are hoping to get a southerly flow by the weekend and will take advantage of that to get up to Tenecatita with Full Quiver.
The Carnival is over. The parade was a lot of fun with floats depicting a variety of subjects having nothing to do with Lent. The general theme seems to be a Rio type of event on a much smaller budget and scale. The most outlandish floats belonged to the transvestite community which has a strong following in this area. Later on they were front and centre at a stage show in the town square. They are very good entertainers, lip synching to a number of Mexican divas.
We did our last shop in Barra, checked out with the Port Captain and had a last swim at the pool at the Sands Hotel, the cruisers’ hangout. It has been another hot day with light winds and the pool was a refreshing stop after walking down to the market. We met the folks from Kenta Anae, another Canadian boat that we had met a few years ago in La Cruz. They are a young couple with 2 boys, 6 and 8.
20:00, 4 March. At anchor in Tenecatita Bay
We arrived in this, another of our favourite anchorages, just in time to participate in the Friday evening raft-up where the cruisers get together at a designated spot in the anchorage and tie up together, pass appies, drink whatever and share stories. All of this is under the direction of the “mayor” the boater that has been here the longest. We were in that position last year for a similar event.
We left Barra mid-morning just after the local radio net that J-G was running. Full Quiver as supposed to accompany us but as they pulled up their anchor a swivel snapped. Last we heard they were staying another night in the hope of getting divers to locate the anchor tomorrow morning.
We had a very nice motorsail all the way in very light southerly winds stopping at Cuastacomate for lunch and trying in vain to catch a fish at the reef at the entrance to the bay. We are still fishless this year. How long will the blight last?? Just as we were entering the bay our bilge pump went off. We were quick to identify a fresh water leak and shut off the pump. We later found a disconnected hose under the sink. This is the third time we have had this problem so we are able to respond quickly and not lose much of our precious fresh water supply.
At the raft-up we heard of a sailboat called Luffin It that was struck by a whale just off Tenecatita yesterday. Apparently it damaged their rudder, sail-drive strut and the stuffing in the stuffing box to shift and water to leak in. They also had trouble with some jammed doors afterwards. A number of boats responded to their call and assisted them back into the anchorage, stopped the leak and she was able to proceed to La Cruz in the company of another vessel today. Fortunately conditions are ideal for a transit up the coast and around Cabo Corrientes over the next few days. This same boat ran aground coming into Barra a few days ago....
We plan on staying here for a week or more before heading to La Cruz. This is a good location to clean the bottom and do a few other chores. We are also thinking about going over to the Blue Bay resort to check out the restaurant. We have been told by friends that you can arrange to get a full course meal with drinks for $25 US. If Pam and Steve (Full Quiver) make it tomorrow we’ll take advantage of the deal to celebrate Pam’s birthday there.