Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Back to Guaymas and home for the Summer.

2300, At sea on our way to Guaymas
We departed Punta Chivato just before sunset and we are on our way to Guaymas on our last night at sea for this season. It is with a tinge of sadness that I write these notes as it is another of those magical nights on the water.
The first crescent moon is just slipping under the horizon to the west and the stars are brighter than ever. The sea is absolutely flat and there is not even a breath of air to disturb it. Perfection would have been a 10-12 knot breeze so that we could sail across without the engine noise but this is second best and very enjoyable. For the past hour or so I have been watching forms eerily materializing in the water near the boat. Many streak directly to the side only to veer off at the last instant while other larger shapes parallel our course momentarily before angling off. I am seeing the phosphorescence excited by the passing of creatures, curious of the engine noise and the passing of Gosling as we make our way to the east. Normally the larger of the shapes turn out to be dolphins but they are not following the normal routine of going to the bow to ride the pressure wave. The really large ones are undoubtedly large manta rays feeding on the plankton and other food critters that rise to the surface layer once the sun is gone.
Over the past few days the mirror-like sea conditions have enabled us more sea-life than we have seen all trip. There have been rays flipping out of the water, sea-lions lying on their backs with all their fins sticking out of the water, numerous whales, including a brownish grey loner yesterday near Punta Pulpito. There have been dolphins and sea turtles and fishing has been good with a Cabrillo yesterday and a yellowtail jack today. After the high winds of last week this is an unexpected bonus.
We arrived at Isla Coronado in early afternoon to join 2 other boats. By late afternoon there were 20 boats and millions of bees. Someone had organised a Seawind catamaran rendezvous for that evening but they were a quiet bunch. We were 5 boats in our group with Tanque de Tiburon, Moshulu, Journey and Loomba Loomba. All but Tanque repaired ashore for sundowners. Bill was still trying to get his outboard going after his mishap in Pto Escondido. This was the last time this season we’d see many of our friends so it was a bittersweet event. We all bid our fond farewells and escaped the bees to return to our boats for a quiet night at anchor. On our way back we dropped in to say hi to Carl and Claire, on Paradox. They had drifted in while we were ashore and not being a Seawind they were excluded from the cat get together. We’ll see them in Guaymas before we go back. We also passed by TdT to bid Bill and Linda farewell as they were headed for San Carlos the following day.
We weighed anchor about 7 and headed north in a flat calm ocean. We didn’t really have a destination in mind until mid-day when we decided that Punta Pulpito would make an interesting stop. We’d never been there before and the imposing Obsidian headland has been beckoning us every time we have passed by over the past seasons. We spent the remainder of the day swimming and exploring the shoreline by dinghy and in fishing off the promontory. We were rewarded by a small Cabrillo (sea bass).
We set out early again this morning, again on flat calm waters and arrived at Punta Chivato by mid-afternoon. We had time to take Rosie for a walk along the beach and a tour of the shoreline and then we readied for our last crossing to Guaymas. We decided to leave before sunset to navigate through the shallow passage south of Pta Chivato in daylight so here we are, 10 hours to go before it is all over for another season.
2200, 11 May 2011, On the hard, Singlar marina, Guaymas
What a difference a few days make. We are now in the storage yard after 3 days alongside at the Singlar marina getting Gosling ready. Fran and I are just wasting time waiting for another hour before we make our way to the bus station. We are taking a break and heading to the Copper Canyon. Yes, it is really happening this time. Fran has been quite excited about it and has been studying every aspect of the trip, asking friends and reading notes from others about their experiences and reading everything she could get her hands on to find more info. All this time J-G has been taking down sails, reorganising lockers, removing and washing all the running rigging, organising what is going back to Canada and what is staying with the boat, tending to the batteries and all of the many preps necessary to put Gosling in long term storage, well till Oct/Nov anyway. OK, Fran did help out too on many of those tasks but her mind was on the trip.
We had a visit from Omar (mechanic extraordinaire) today and he will be coming back in November to make some adjustments to the engine and gearbox before our next odyssey. He thinks our injectors and valves may need adjustment to get rid of the soot problem on Gosling’s rump.
When we arrived we were met by Phil (Manasea) who is leaving early tomorrow morning for Sacramento. We were surprised to see Warren Peace (Steve and Linda) at the dock when we arrived. They were late departing and they remained in the northern part of the Sea for most of the season. They will be hauling out early next week at San Carlos. It was nice to be able to socialize with them for a few days. Later that day Chris and Ronnie aboard Ladybug pulled in. They are getting ready to haul out at Gabriel’s yard across the bay.
The haulout was non-eventful. We are in a good spot amongst a myriad of other boats. It will be a full yard this year. Singlar’s reputation is increasing among the cruising public and there are as many on the waiting list as there are reservations. We are in good Canadian company with Blue, Forbes and Cameron and Relax close by. Many other Canadian boats will be arriving in the next few weeks. Francisco the painter has 3 boats on the go, at present, so he is keeping busy. Rumours are that his girlfriend is expecting a baby any day.
Bill and Linda (Tanque de Tiburon) have taken Rosie home with them so we are free to go to the Copper Canyon without worrying about her welfare. Linda has sent a few e-mails to re-assure us.
We are off to the Copper Canyon later tonight, taking the late bus to Los Mochis to catch the morning train to the canyon. Many of our friends have asked for lots of detail so they can use the info in planning their trips. There will be lots of pictures and we will add a few to this episode when we get a chance.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fun at the Loretofest

Fran's Scorpion.

Bill (Tanker) and Linda (Nurse Shark) at Mision hotel

Finally, a real shower....

Interesting sign on Isla Coronado....

Did I mention Beer?

1700, 30 April 2011, buoy 39, Puerto Escondido
We are at the Loreto Fest. What a hoot!! It began yesterday and will last thru Sunday with a variety of events tailored to cruisers. That includes everything from seminars on fishing topics to HF radio usage, lots of beer, silly events like dinghy racing, where the driver is blindfolded, craft making, lots of beer, chilli contest, board games, cards, raffles and the ever popular swap meet and did I mention beer? We are into day 2 already and it has been a blast so far.
We arrived on Wednesday afternoon after a nice motor-sail from Bahia Colorado with a short stop off of Loreto to replenish the larder. We were getting quite low on supplies so we took advantage of the proximity of the good stores in Loreto on the way by. We anchored off the town and took the dinghy in to the municipal docks just as a cruise ship was making its approach into the bay. We arrived back with our load of supplies as the Oosterdam was disgorging its passengers.
The buoy field at Puerto Escondido was filling up fast when we arrived but Bill and Linda (Tanque de Tiburon) were there to help us tie up to our buoy. By the end of the afternoon many of our friends from locations far removed from here had arrived. Steve and Pam (Full Quiver), Chris and Sandy (Faith), Gail and Jerry (Moshulu), Barb and Terry (Sunnyside) and many others. We were sorry to have missed Steve and Linda (Warren Peace) who are remaining in the Northern part of the sea for another week or so before heading to their haul-out rendezvous at San Carlos.
On Thursday we were treated with an unexpected bonus, a night out in an exclusive Mission hotel in Loreto. Bill and Linda had the winning bid on a 2-night stay at last year’s Loreto Fest and they offered us one of the nights. On top of that it was Bill’s birthday so we got to celebrate with them. The hotel is only 3 years old and very nice. It was such a treat to sleep in a comfortable King size bed and have a long shower with as much hot water as we wanted. Ohhh the little things in life....
We got back to Escondido too late for the swap meet but quickly got involved with some of the preparations and a few of the early events.
In a previous blog we wrote about our problems with bugs but nothing can compare to the one we found onboard last night. Having gotten back early from shore we decided to watch a movie in the salon. About halfway through Fran screamed that something had just bitten her. After an exhaustive search that turned up nothing and after treating the very painful bite site we resumed watching the movie but a short time later she screamed again that something was crawling up her arm. This time we saw something moving so J-G gathered up the seat cover trapping a critter. A careful peek revealed a small scorpion which we immediately bottled up in a jar. Knowing what had stung her we made a b-line to Bill and Linda’s boat hoping that Nurse Shark, Linda (retired Army nurse), would know how to treat it. A good cleaning, ice, anti-histamines and a couple of Tylenols later we were back aboard relieved that this was not a life/death event. By morning Fran was better but her finger was still numb. (Note: 72 hours later, all is well..) A fellow cruiser, Jim on Pochteca, a biologist ID'd the critter as a Centuroides Sculptuatasor bark scorpion, one of the more venemous species. Surprisingly quite a few of our friends recounted similar scorpion experiences. We make a good pair: J-G and his cone shell bite 3 years ago and now Fran with a scorpion sting... Oh, yes, we could also mention Rosie with a large tick that Steve found on her while they were dog sitting when we were at the hotel the other night. That’s 3!!
In a totally unrelated event our propane control module fried itself unexpectedly last night too. J-G was able to make it work partially so that we are able to get the propane flowing but that will have to be replaced for next season.
1500, 2 May 2011, still at buoy 39
It is blowing like hell and has been for the past 2 days. Yesterday they had to cancel some the Loreto Fest afternoon events because of the high winds. We had gone in early to participate in the breakfast and the wind was already beginning to pick up. The weather forecast was for gale force winds and by the early afternoon there were several of the anchored boats that had dragged and most of those at buoys headed back to their boats, worried that the moorings might fail. For several boats that precaution was borne out. Among those that broke free were Loomba Loomba and Tanque de Tiburon, both at about 6 AM this morning. The wind blew all night hitting velocities in the low 40’s. On the way back to the boat yesterday J-G managed to make it back by himself without mishap but Bill (TdT) flipped his and had to be rescued. The winds also played havoc on dinghies ties up astern of their boats. A few actually got airborne on their tethers and flipped over causing a great deal of work getting the outboards cleaned and running again.
With the wind howling and the boat wind-vaning wildly it was a near sleepless night but, even though we stayed aboard all day it was a busy one. Fran spent the time quilting while J-G made some repairs. The main task was to get the propane flowing again. It appears that the solenoid had become defective and was drawing too much current. We had a spare on board but it took most of the day to replace it. Getting to the components was the hard part. We will now have to use the propane very carefully as there is no longer an alarm or auto shut-off feature.
The last Loreto Fest event we attended was the silent auction results. We were successful in about half of our bids and managed to scoop 3 golf prizes at 3 magnificent golf courses along the mainland for next season. They include Punta Mita, near Puerto Vallarta, a course in Ixtapa and another in Huatulco.
The weather is supposed to improve by tomorrow but most of us have decided not to leave until Wednesday and most of our group of friends are heading north. Our late departure means less time exploring. We will have only a few more days to enjoy this side of the Sea this season as we are aiming to be back in Guaymas by the 7th. Bill and Linda have graciously agreed to take Rosie home with them to Sierra Vista while we put Gosling to bed. This will also give us the opportunity to visit the Copper Canyon, a trip we have been looking forward to since we first arrived in Mexico.
1000, 3 May, Still at the bouy.
It is still blowing about 15-18 kts but the gusts are not as frequent. We will be going into the marina to get some internet time this morning and hopefully publish this blog. We plan on leaving tomorrow morning after fuelling and make it to Coronado for tomorrow night. We plan on making the crossing by the weekend and will probably accompany Tanque across.