Sunday, March 22, 2009

winds and la paz shots as we're leaving

Okay, so we're still here. Nothing seems to go according to plan when you're sailing. Jim is working hard at replacing the dinghy wheels and putting on the motor mount which is easier to do on a dock than on the deck of the boat while we're swinging on an anchor. An arts and crafts show is getting set up along the marina here and there's some really nice paintings, jewelry and crafts. We will definitely be leaving at some point today but I figure since I still have wifi I can post yet one more entry here.

The winds we’ve been experiencing in the marina are called coromuel winds. They begin in the evening and blow through the night. It happens because the low-lying land sw of La Paz is like an open window for the cool air blowing over from the Pacific Ocean and the warmer air in the Sea of Cortez sort of sucks the cool air in here. They generally happen in late spring and summer but can also happen other times of the year. It’s most pronounced when the wind is blowing north on the Pacific side of Baja (making it cooler there) and it’s hot on the Sea of Cortez or east side of Baja which is what we've been experiencing this past week. So that’s what we’re experiencing right now.

There are other weather terms I’m becoming familiar with. Chubasco is a violent but short-lived squall with thunder, lightning, rain and strong winds, usually in the summer. Elefante is when everything’s calm on Pacific and SofC and cool air from the Pacific rushes across the Baja into the warmth of SofC making an elephant trunk like cloud. I won’t mind experiencing these as long as we’re safely anchored someplace with a little protection.
pictures top to bottom, one of the fishing boats along the malecon, wyland mural. more on him later in another email. sand sculpture, not too many of those here. the exercise area with sit-up boards i've been using and normally there are lots of people there actually using the area. shot of the malecon, surprisingly w/o people.

The wind has been blowing a consistent 10-15 knots from the south and marina surge slaps the stern, all night long. It turned chilly yesterday afternoon and this morning, at 5am, it feels more like pre-spring California weather. Yesterday I walked back from downtown and lingered along the tideline so I could photograph the pelicans. I admit I'm obsessed with them, something about their contours and bigness. Anyway, we'll be leaving today, sailing over to Espiritu Santo as we begin to explore the Sea of Cortez. Until I get another wifi connection some time in mid-April I'll leave you with these images.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

chores and haircuts

it isn't all play around here. i was given the job of assemblying the springs under the mattress for air circulation. if you know me well you know i don't read directions and faced with this task was quite overwhelming. but two hours later success. teresa was kind enough to give me lessons in how to give jim a haircut and beard trim. hmmm, not sure how that will work out.

lucy goose and friends

one of the attractions here at the marina is lucy the goose. the story goes that she was a casuality from hurricane marty in 2003 and pretty badly injured. with plenty of loving care from the yatistas (i think) she's obviously fully recovered and now a much pampered icon and one-goose welcoming committee.
more birds spotted around here, egrets and ibis. i just bought a chart that's easy for identification.

eating and shopping and eating march 18

We said goodbye to our crew, Teresa, this morning as she heads off to Mexico City. Then we took a taxi into town to Allende Book Store to peruse her books in English. She has a nice assortment and some interesting little bits of artwork as well. Then another taxi took us to wal-mart for hard-to-find items like barber shears and ice packs. Many bags later we’re back at the boat for Jim’s siesta while I cleaned the veggies and tasted some of the new foods. The doble fibra pan tostado are thin slices of bread toasted crisp and really tasty, similar to Holland Rusks which I love. The tortillas tostadas are small corn tortillas crisped and also great. Still haven’t found cayenne pepper but did find ginger which got scrubbed and soaked for 10 minutes in the iodine microbe solution. In fact all the veggies got the treatment, even the onions, and are now drying in the sun. I plan on making salsa cruda and more smoky chipotle bean dip when it cools down, along with guacamole.

Dinner with Alex and Edith at Buffalo where Jim loaded up on his meat consumption. My salad was great, especially the homemade garlic bread.

We’ve decided to delay leaving the marina until this Sunday so Jim’s arm can heal from a soft tissue injury. That gives me time to cook more sautéed red pepper for a galetta and try a few new recipes from the new cookbook I bought.
pictures are, my salad at buffalo, one of the many pictures i've taken of the palm trees that abound here, and captain seagull in his yacht along the malecon.

todos santos on march 19

We shared a rental car with Alex and Edith and drove to Todos Santos and El Triunfo for the day. Todos Santos has turned into quite an art town since I was there in the mid-80s. Hotel California is richly decorated with colors and artwork and I had an amazing nachos plate. The main street has plenty of curio shops, a few art galleries, clothing stores and an English book store—all this amid 200 year-old brick buildings from the sugar-mill era. Then we headed over to El Triunfo, a former silver and gold mining town that brought European settlers from France, Italy and Germany. The town is easy to spot by La Ramona, a tall chimney by architect Alexandre Gustave Eiffel. The main attraction in El Triunfo is the music museum, housing a collection of musical instruments but mostly pianos brought by the wealthy Europeans. The story goes that during the revolution to establish fairness between classes, many pianos were destroyed because they represented the upper/middle classes. One family actually sewed their Steinway in leather and buried it for three years in order to protect it, and now it’s in the museum. On the way home we stopped at our favorite gelato place. I ended the day doing four loads of laundry and packing away all the cold-weather clothes we no longer need. High was 90 degrees.
so the pictures, from what i think will show up as the top to bottom: recreated hut, palm trunk, quilt and fabric over old sewing machine, paper whales in the museum made by the kids, more palm husks, the music museum, a wall in one of the restaurants in todos santos, and an agave plant.

Monday, March 16, 2009

scrubbing and smoked pork chops

It must be 80 plus outside during the day but gets very chilly in the evenings. Last Friday and Saturday I walked into town and back which takes two hours. Even at 7:30 in the morning the malecon (wide sidewalk along the water) was busy with locals exercising. They have an area with sit-up boards and such right by the water. Saturday morning a guy had his scale out so you could weigh in. Probably a Weight Watchers meeting. Anyway, so much has changed since I was here in '95, especially the malecon. Sculptures and benches are in abundance and lots of new restaurants.

Back at the boat I’ve been keeping busy scrubbing and cleaning the boat. It's like cleaning a huge bathroom 24/7. Sunday I spent 2 hours assembling the remaining overhead cover in the cockpit. It was exhausting and time consuming but oh so much cooler with some privacy out there. Jim’s giving me knot tying lessons and I whipped my first line so it won’t unravel. I wonder how these will work themselves into my artwork when I get back to it.

We’ve spent quite a bit of time with long-time friends of Jim, Alex and Edith, who were kind enough to take us to the supermercado for our first shopping experience. It was overwhelming as we picked our way through the aisles trying to find things we needed and to decipher the packaging. I’m still looking for ginger and cayenne pepper. I’m going through Trader Joe withdrawal at this very moment. Alex showed Jim where to buy smoked pork chops and good sausages--I'm sure HIS highlight of the day.
pictures are of the sunshade and then my practice piece of line for the bowline and figure eight. the other one is of the whipped line. not very creative but more informative. sorry it's taken me so long to get this up but wifi here is unpredictable and during the day almost impossible to access.

Friday, March 13, 2009

how many days without a shower?

I apologized up front for this being such a long post but if I don't do it now I know I'll get preoccupied and forget. It covers leaving Ensenada through arriving in La Paz.

March 3, as we left Ensenada we had to avoid running over sleeping seals. I’ve never seen them do this at home but they’re oblivious to what’s going on around them.

Notes from my journal follow: Finally turned off the motor and started sailing doing 7-8 knots downwind. Cold at night. Watched the big dipper slide across the sky during my watches. We’re doing 1 hour on, 2 hours off between 6pm and 6am. It’s hard having to get dressed and go out into the cold from a sound sleep, I’m groggy and grouchy.

March 4, 1am watch a Princess Cruise ship came within 500 ft of us! It was huge. Close enough to see in the windows and get a wind draft off that moving mountain. Phosphorescence makes sparks in the stern wake and white lines etched into the black water, amazing to watch. Nighttime ritual for my watches at 7pm, 10pm, 1am, 4am--put on jog bra, t-shirt, fleece top, pants and sox, foulie bottoms, boots, jacket, 2 fleece hoods, harness and gloves. Then I go on deck. I reverse the order taking everything off after coming back in from my watch so I can sleep. Have developed an exercise routine to keep me warm and awake.

March 6, Turtle Bay. Sitting at the stern with hot tea and “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle”. I can watch and listen to the day unfolding. We arrived yesterday about 2pm. Jim and Teresa took the panga ashore while I stayed onboard listening to church bells and the rise and fall of conversation floating over from the fishermen. The wind periodically comes racing over the hills about 15 knots swinging us around on the hook (anchor). Only 4 other sailboats anchored here. The town looks small and pinched together into barren earth that changes colors with the sun. Dogs bark, pangas scoot across the bay and occasionally a car appears on a hidden road. I see no people or movement other than a white Ford van. Peaceful and languid. Now it’s noon and I’m swinging in the hammock on the foredeck watching pelicans make big lazy circles in the sky. Eventually one nose-dives into the water. I can’t imagine anything more relaxing than laying here in the hammock watching the pelicans. Maybe that’s what’s so special about this place. Without all the hoopla it gives you the space to just be. The wind pushes the hammock in a slow rhythmic rocking that’s both calming and comforting like being in a fresh air womb. Later a seagull sits in the water near me when I come up brushing my teeth. They’re smart and know to come around when we do things with our mouths.

March 7 we left Turtle Bay before 11am in a strong wind and sailed at a consistent 9 knots all day. It got warm enough to take my coat off! We sailed through a flock of pelicans feeding. Pretty cool. Saw several blow spouts from whales but none breeched. My memory of Turtle Bay is the cementerio Teresa and I visited. The graves were beautiful in their rawness and use of materials.

March 8, my 1am watch got off to a bad start with a loud boom over the v-berth where I sleep. The boom vang line broke and it took most of my watch to help Jim fix it then we had to make course corrections. I was wired after that so it was hard to sleep.

March 10, I’m laying in the v-berth (forepeak) just after 5:30pm. We’re headed toward Cabo after having left Magdalena Bay earlier in the day. The bay was huge, as big as the San Francisco Bay without the islands and bridges. We’d spent the better part of yesterday motoring to the far side by the pier but no pangas and we were too tired to inflate the dinghy. So we anchored in heavy wind and current for a night of rocking and rolling. After we left Mag Bay we sailed through several pods of dolphins. The last pod was huge, too many to count, and they stayed for almost an hour jumping in front of the boat and riding the waves.

March 11 started by seeing the last bit of sunrise. Later I had my first whale sighting, 4 whales coming up out of the water and flopping back down. Incredible experience. Then I got to see the sunset AND the full moon rise and climb into the sky. A big orange globe with darkish areas. What a day.

March 12 I'm thrilled to report we arrived in La Paz a couple hours ago. First and most essential was a shower. Hadn't had one since we left Ensenada. It's almost 6:30 here and the sun is about to set. Temperature is cooling a bit on deck and down below it's still warm. We plan on being here in the Palmira marina for a week. We all need some extended sleep as it wrecks havoc on the body I'll tell you. Now I'm having to adjust to land sickness, again. When I'm on land my equilibrium is still adjusting for the rocking of the boat.

Monday, March 2, 2009

zarpe in ensenada march 2 09

It was an easy motorsail down to Ensenada and we arrived just after sunrise. We all quickly changed into summer clothes since it feels so hot here. It’s a beautiful marina with friendly and efficient people to help us check in. Then we went into town to do the Paperwork Cha Cha dance of visiting the Port Captain, Migracion and Aduana all in the same building going back and forth between various windows. All three of us had to go since they insist on seeing you in person with your original passport. Now we have our international Zarpe (all the check-in paperwork including visas). We walked back and I made a nice salad and discovered the Moroccan stew works great with Jim’s canned chicken so he won't feel so meat deprived. Not much else to report since I read all afternoon while he napped. Teresa has been out walking the town.

Images are: we have our morning ritual of drinks at the helm, crisp shadows on the dock master's office and cactus. Too tired to write more but I love the ease of wifi at the dock. Spoiled am I.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

leaving san diego march 1

And now it’s Sunday morning just after 6:30am and I’m going back and forth between the Laundromat and Starbucks. Last night we had dinner with about a dozen members of the Southwest Yacht Club where we’re docked just now. What a nice group of people so willing to share their experiences of travel, including cruising in Mexico. We’ve enjoyed San Diego so much. It’s a real boat town. Oh and I almost forgot to mention the ducks. The yacht club ducks are friendly greeters whenever I walk up the ramp to the parking lot. They come running as I do my best Buster Duck imitation for conversation.

What I learned - Talking with the guy at the fuel dock the other day I asked him about some of the mega yachts we see berthed nearby. He pointed to one that takes on 10,000 gallons of diesel, another that takes on 15,000. and last week a yacht came in and got 50,000 gallons!! Yes that’s FIFTY THOUSAND. The fuel dock storage tanks only hold 15,000 so they had to arrange for fuel trucks to keep coming in. at $2 a gallon that’s a huge investment.

Errands are done, boat is loaded down with food and we’re ready to leave this afternoon in time to arrive in Ensenada Monday morning for check-in. More to come once we’re in Mexico.