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March 24, 2004: I updated the web site and started putting the boat in order for today's cruise. At 1000 we went to the marina office to settle our bill and get the letter that we need to give to the Port Captain. Jesus said we could only use a credit card to pay our bill if we'd been here one month -- bad news! We didn't have enough cash with us. Jesus gave us the letter anyway and we promised to return with our money. Our next stop was the Port Captain's office. He gave us different paperwork that we had to take to the bank. We stopped at the yacht club for our last internet opportunity. Jim filed our taxes electronically using Turbo Tax (we're officially in the "poverty" category and Uncle Sam is going to pay us). He hit the "submit taxes" button and a pop-up box told us we had to check back in within 24-48 hours to complete the final processing. Well, this presented a dilemma because Punta de Mita doesn't have an internet cafe and we were in the middle of the check-out process and couldn't stop it. We decided that we'd go up to La Cruz instead and pray that our return only takes 24 hours. Then we went to the bank, where we had to wait about 30 min. before our number was called for the teller's window. Jim's been having difficulties with a bank card not working (since San Diego). The bank sent him a new card, promising it would work. It arrived on Monday and guess what? It didn't work. Grrr! Well, after our 2 min. transaction at the teller's window, we went back to the Port Captain to swap paperwork and then back to Jesus to give him money. We stopped by Sowelu and Matarua to say good-bye to them. They are both headed to the Marqueses within the next couple of days and we won't see them again. Then we returned to the boat for a quick lunch and away we go! Jim decided to tow Ruthie because we weren't going far and our davits are a pain. We secured Ruthie to our port side and started out of the channel. Just before the end of the breakwater, Ruthie's tow line broke and off she went, headed to the breakwater rocks (see photo of March 14 for view of breakwater). Some folks on jet skis yelled to us and Jim turned Mañana around. I grabbed a boat hook and while Jim was carefully manuevering Mañana, I snagged Ruthie's stern line and held on for dear life while Jim backed us away from the breakwater. He piloted us out the breakwater, with me still holding onto Ruthie's stern line and towing her backwards, something she doesn't do well. I yelled to Jim to slow down because I was losing my grip so we quickly traded places. The afternoon winds and waves were up and it was extremely rolly but somehow Jim managed to climb into Ruthie, attach a different tow line, climb back out and resecure her without falling overboard. Once we were finally underway I asked him if he had righted Ruthie's battery box (which the stern line had tipped over). Oops! He was so busy focusing on other things that he forgot. So we stopped again so he could climb into Ruthie and right the battery. I guess this was either Ruthie's way of getting back at me for having called her a pig in Chemela or she didn't want to leave Nuevo Vallarta! We arrived La Cruz to find several other trawlers at anchor and other boats we've met along the way. I decided to make Greek pizzas for dinner, since we now had canned chicken on board. I opened the can to find chicken chunks, that's true, but it was in a gravy with potatoes, corn, red peppers and green beans! Now this was going to be an interesting Greek pizza! Well, we've had stranger dinners so I emptied the can onto our pita bread, sprinkled a little cheese on top and baked it. We decided it wasn't bad, but I'm not sure exactly how I'll use the other 5 cans!
March 25, 2004: Schools of fish and a bunch of brown skates were all around the boat in the early morning. Propagation was horrible so we turned the morning net off and Jim climbed into the water to clean Ruthie's bottom. It's amazing how much growth accumulated in the two weeks we were in Nuevo Vallarta. We had lunch and then went ashore, praying that we could finish our taxes today. It took a bit to get the wireless connection figured out, but we were happy to see that the IRS had accepted our return. Supposedly our return will be in our savings accoung by early April. When our internet business was done, we went in search of a pay phone. Earthlink had fraudulantly signed us up for internet service and our VISA was being charged. So we called our VISA company and had them flag our account to reject any more charges from Earthlink and then we called Earthlink. They told us we signed up over the internet in early February. We told them we were sitting in a little anchorage with no civilization around us on that date. Hopefully this will be the end of our dealings with Earthlink. Oh, the joys of handling BS while out of the country with no phone or internet readily available! We passed a butcher shop on our way back to the beach and bought a kilo of top sirloin steak for under $6. This will give us 4 meals. We also picked up four more bollos (rolls). Jim made steak with onions, garlic and red wine sauce and we finished the leftover pasta salad. Readied the boat for an early morning departure.
March 26, 2004: The alarm went off at 0520 -- ugh! We haven't been up this early in a long time. We left La Cruz before 0600 and rounded Punta de Mita in rolly conditions. Once we rounded the point, we crossed into mountain time zone. The seas gradually settled down and conditions were such that we decided to continue on to San Blas instead of Chacala. Arrived Mantanchen Bay at 1430. At that time, we were beam to the waves and neither cat was happy. Jerry hid in the garage and DC changed his position on the settee and held on. There were only two other boats in the anchorage, which is a large one with a long sweeping beach and palm trees. Our guide book said to stay at least 1/2 mile offshore because of no see-ums. We had leftovers for dinner and Jim ran tonight's net. Propagation was good for a change. After dark, the no see-ums came out. Although we have screens, they were still getting into the boat. I seem to be more susceptible to them than Jim. I dug out my stash of Avon's Skin So Soft. I smell like a woodland fairy but it seems to be helping!
March 27, 2004: Another early morning departure. Jim really wanted to do an island tour of Isla Isabela so we came back here. Sea conditions were comfortable but we ran into a fog bank halfway across. We put a marker on a large target that was showing up on the radar. In the dense fog, we could see nothing. The fog eventually started to lift and we got the binoculars out to find the target...it turned out to be a large rock! As we got closer to Isla Isabela, we noticed several boats in the east anchorage and only one in the south anchorage, which was our destination. Once we got there, it was apparent that the south anchorage would be very rolly, so we squeezed ourselves into the east anchorage. There were a couple of dinghies over at the spires snorkeling when we arrived but by the time we got there, the people were gone, the snorkeling area was in the shade and the wind was picking up; I decided I didn't want to snorkel at that time. I suggested that we do the island tour but it would have been a very wet one mile dinghy ride over to the south anchorage...maybe mañana. We returned to the boat and spent the rest of the day relaxing. I made raviolis and sausage for dinner -- a definite treat!
|How Many Iguanas?
March 28, 2004: The sun is up earlier now that we're in mountain time zone, so we were both awake before 0600. I squeezed a couple of grapefruits -- that juice is so good!! A couple of boats left before dawn which allowed Gryphon (a 50' catamaran) and us to reanchor and give ourselves a bit more breathing room. There were schools of fish swimming around the boat so Jim donned his snorkeling gear. I couldn't resist and I, too, donned my gear. I'm not very brave when it comes to jumping off boats into the water, or snorkeling for that matter, so it took me several minutes to relax so I could enjoy the scenery. We were snorkeling away from the boat when suddenly both my arms felt like they were on fire. I exploded out of the water yelling to Jim that something had stung me. I almost walked on water trying to get back to the boat. Once on the boat, I hosed my arms down with fresh water while Jim grabbed one of his diving books to see if it had a remedy for jellyfish stings. The book suggested all sorts of possible treatments, but basically said that the venom would run its course. We tried rubbing my arms down with a stiff towel (to dislodge any possible stingers), vinegar and finally Lanacane, but nothing eased the burning sensation. Welts started forming on the inside of my arms, just above the elbows and I had a long red streak down the inside of my right arm, apparently from where I had made contact with it. Neither of us saw any evidence of jellyfish and no one in the anchorage had said anything about getting stung. By noon, the welts had mostly faded, but the burning sensation lasted on and off the rest of the day. Jim switched from snorkeling to diving and said he'd never seen so many different types of colorful fish. He was delighted. After lunch we took Ruthie over to the south anchorage and beached her in between the pangas. We asked one fisherman (Hugo) if she was okay there and he said yes and that he'd watch her (this is all being said in Spanglish). He also asked if we'd be interested in trading something for some sierra fish. Yes!! We settled on one t-shirt and a chocolate bar. We walked around a bit, marveling at the number of frigate bird nests in the trees. Our presence didn't seem to disturb any of the birds. In addition, iguanas roamed the island freely. We had to watch where we walked to ensure that we didn't step on any. Hugo and two friends followed us in their panga. They gave us one sierra and one bonito. I gave them two t-shirts and a large chocolate bar, plus Jim threw in 3 cold cervezas; Hugo took one look at the candy bar and indicated that he was keeping it for himself! Jim offered them water as well, which they accepted. They said they'd be back at 1600 with a water container. Shortly after 1600, they came back, this time offering us two red snappers, which we accepted. It hadn't been our intention to trade anything for the water, but it was appreciated. In addition, they said they'd return mañana with some langostas (lobsters), but we told them we'll be leaving at 0600 for Los Frailes. Jim cubed the bonito and we covered it with lime juice -- will make ceviche with it tomorrow. We vacuum bagged the snappers and half of the sierra for future dinners. Jim cooked the remaining sierra with garlic and butter -- yum! Listened to the net and Eric's CD; readied the boat for an early morning departure.
ho, and away we go
The wind is fair and the waves are low
The moon is full and the sailing's fine
We're hauling up the hook
It's passage time." Song by Eileen Quinn
|Speed Bump w/Hitchhiker
March 29-30, 2004: Up and out before 0600. The fish nets that were set yesterday afternoon had not been removed so we carefully made our way through them. A sailboat with the homeport of Ensenada was coming in and we yelled at them to "pare!" ("stop!"). Both boats had dictionaries and we did our best to convey the safest way into the anchorage. We hope they made it in okay. There are very few Mexican cruising boats and I commented to Jim how the locals need to learn English if they are going to cruise Mexican waters. The seas were crystal clear indigo blue, glassy smooth and there was virtually no wind. In mid-morning on the 29th, we played dodge-em with a loosely spaced pack (what do you call a bunch of turtles?) of olive ridley turtles. Sometimes I "threaded the needle" through them. A good majority of the turtles had a white tern hitchhiking on its back. We'd never seen so many turtles! When the turtles stopped, the flying fish and cartwheeling skates started and finally several different pods of dolphins visited us. There seemed to be two types of dolphins. One group was very athletic and were leaping whole bodied out of the water. They were also swimming backwards and tail slapping; they did not ride our bow wake. The other type were the bow riders although they, too, leapt out of the water. We noticed one particular dolphin had two white or pale gray foot-long sucker fish attached to it. The fish clung to the dolphin, even when the dolphin was jumping out of the water (it appeared to slip a bit, but never fell off). We had leftover ravioli and sausage for dinner and settled into our three-hour night watch schedule. Coffee and Jimmy Buffet got me through the 2100-2400 watch and hot chocolate and the Dixie Chicks and Faith Hill got me through the 0300-0600 watch. It was an extremely calm and smooth night, illuminated by Venus and a half moon. The next day was calm as well, but the gentle sea swell was gone, giving us flat seas all day. We didn't see one iota of wildlife until we got to within 10 miles of Los Frailes, where we came across four humpback whales. Jim got up pretty close to them and it was so spectacular to listen to them clear their blow holes. They sounded like a loud deep "whoosh"; it reminded me of waves hitting rocks on the shoreline. We got a good look at their backs and tails. They eventually dove deep so we continued on into the anchorage, arriving at 1600 -- exactly 34 hours after we departed Isla Isabela. Within minutes of shutting things down, Jim had a cold beer, I had a glass of wine and the boys had been given their treats. Shortly after dinner, we each took a couple of Tylenol PMs and were asleep by 2000.
in Islas Espiritu Santo and Partida
The image above is a screen print from our electronic navigation software. The green line is our actual track according to the GPS. (GPS, or Global Positioning System, is an electronic satellite-based navigation instrument.) Our GPS is typically accurate to less than 100 feet; frquently it is accurate to under 30 feet. Notice how often our track shows that we crossed parts of the island. Such are the joys of navigating in an area where the charts haven't been updated since the late 1890's. This area is relatively accurate, for an indication of how bad it can be, see where we "anchored" on Feb. 18th.
March 31, 2004: Jim woke at 0600 to the ungentle motion of the boat. The wind was out of the south at 10 kts. He returned to bed but 15 minutes later he was up again. The wind was picking up and the two other boats in the anchorage were already getting under way. I was still very out of it -- a Tylenol PM-induced stupor, but I got up and we left the anchorage at 0640. By then the wind was up to 18 kts. We decided to head to Los Muertos, but by the time we arrived, that anchorage was unsuitable and we heard several boats talking about how rolly it was. So on to Plan B...we'll go around and anchor on the north side of the point. As we headed north, we met up with the wind's convergence zone and it was blowing out of the north. So much for Plan B. We really didn't have a Plan C but we were traveling loosely with Brut (another trawler - they were in Isla Isabela and made the crossing at the same time we did) so we asked them what their thoughts were. Len thought they would try a small cove on Isla Espiritu Santo; since we wanted to explore the area, we said we'd join them. We were running out of daylight when we pulled into Unnamed Cove #1 (Cove #1 in Cove Hopping Chartlet above). The anchorage conditions were terrible; we tried putting out the flopper stopper but we didn't have enough water under our keel to make it effective. We each took a couple more Tylenol PMs and prayed the winds would die down during the night.
April 1, 2004: We were awake most of the night. The wind never died down and we had waves on the beam all night long. DC and Jerry snuggled with us. We were up and out at first light, 0615, with Caleta Partida as our destination (Cove #2 in Cove Hopping Chartlet). Brut hailed us and said they were going to La Paz. We pounded for over an hour but were rewarded with a comfortable and beautiful anchorage. The water is a beautiful turquoise blue and there's a white sand beach on two sides. The cliffs are a brownish-red formed by volcanic rock and cactus are scattered here and there. We had breakfast and spent the morning reading and then took a nap after lunch. When we got up, the winds were at 18 kts. and the cove was getting bumpy. In addition, it was rapidly filling up with boats trying to find a good shelter. One of the boats was a DeFever (Lazy Days) and another was a boat we met last summer in Sidney, BC (Free Flight). We chatted briefly with both of them. The winds continued all night in the 15-20 kts. range, but we had a peaceful sleep.
||Cactus in Cove
||Waiting for the Tide
April 2, 2004: While I was hanging our laundry, Ron and Cheryl (Lazy Days) stopped by to introduce themselves. They were on their way to explore the area so we said we'd see them out there. We left Mañana at 1100, but neglected to check the tide table. The water got pretty skinny and Jim had to walk Ruthie in a couple of spots, but eventually we found deeper water and enjoyed looking at the rock formations and colors. On our way back we met up with Ron and Cheryl; we beached Ruthie and walked along the beach, collecting shells and marveling at the puffer fish and live shells. When we returned to Ruthie, it became apparent that the tide had been going out and we weren't going to be able to return to Mañana until the tide started to come in! We dragged Ruthie, one foot at a time, as the tide slowly came in. We filed that experience under "Lessons Learned!" At 1600 we went over to Lazy Days for happy hour and were enjoying their company when suddenly I looked at my watch and realized it was 1755 -- Jim was due to run the Blue Water Cruisers Net at 1800. So sorry to eat and run but...we got back to Mañana with 2 minutes to spare -- whew! Propagation was good and the net went well. We had a late dinner and climbed into bed early again.
|El Cardonel Cactus
||Backside of Island
||Low Tide Again!
April 3, 2004: Ron hailed us at 0645, waking us up. They were headed for El Cardonel, two coves up (Cove #3 in Cove Hopping Chartlet). We talked it over and decided to follow them. We arrived at 0845. Ron and Cheryl stopped by at 1000 to say they were going to hike the trail; we said we'd be along shortly. Again, we didn't check the tide tables and Jim ended up walking Ruthie to shore (so much for our lessons learned!). He decided to anchor her out a bit so we wouldn't have a repeat drag episode. I hopped out and the bottom was oozy mud -- yuck! We walked the trail, admiring the flora and little lizards and cactus. We eventually came to the other side of the island and then returned. Once again, the tide had gone out but this time we had a little water under Ruthie's keel so the dragging wasn't too difficult. The oozy mud was gross and there were crabs all over the place. Once we were in enough water, I hopped into the dinghy. Ron had been helping us and he got nipped by a crab. Jim had to walk Ruthie out a bit further before he could climb in. We stopped by a panga fisherman who was cleaning scallops and clams. We asked if he was selling the scallops and he said "si, muy caro" (yes, very expensive). He was charging 200 pesos per kilo, yup, too expensive for our wallet. The clams were huge (hatchet clams) and he wanted 5 pesos per clam. Not knowing if the clams were tender, we decided against it. We returned to Mañana, had lunch and then started cleaning her as we were hosting tonight's happy hour. Ron and Cheryl arrived at 1600. We were proud to show off the boat. They owned a wood boat for years so they appreciated all the work we've done. They left at 1900 and we spent the remainder of the evening relaxing. We were too full of appetizers to bother with dinner. We went out on deck around 2000. It was dark out but in the distance we could hear a whale clearing its blow hole. It was very eery to hear it but not see it.
|Cove from Halfway Point
||Who's That Couple?
||View from the Top
April 4, 2004: We left El Cardonel before 0900 for our three mile cruise to Ensenada Grande (Cove #4 in Cove Hopping Chartlet). A sailboat was departing as we pulled in, leaving just Lazy Days and us in the beautiful cove. Ron hailed us asking if we were interested in hiking the ridge. One look at the ridge and the 45 degree slope to get to it and we opted out but said we'd be willing to hike the canyon. They offered to pick us up in their dinghy and we were happy to accept! This time, Jim did check the tide table and the tide was on its way out. We spent a long time walking the beach, looking at shells. Jim found three paper nautiluses that were in near perfect condition. The beach and the shallow water was littered with dead squid of all sizes and we wondered what caused it. (Author's Note: We did a bit of searching and discovered that squid die after spawning.) Neither of the previous coves had had this problem. This cove is very similar to the others with the red rock, white sand beach and clear turquoise water. We started up the trail. A signboard indicated that it was a difficult two-mile hike with a steep incline. A path sort of existed but mostly we were climbing over rocks. We came across lots of cactus, small lizards, lavendar, and even mint. Cheryl and I called it quits about halfway up as the trail was getting steeper and neither of us had hiking boots on. The guys decided to keep on going and were rewarded with a beautiful view of the cove on the other side of the island. Although they were 475' above sea level, Jim said they could see whales, manta rays, a large school of fish and panga fishermen. In the meantime, Cheryl and I made our way back to the dinghy and sat there chatting. We had just decided to return to the boat when I spotted the guys on the trail, so we waited around for them. We'd been talking about "what's for dinner" and we were both planning on a seafood pasta. We decided to combine forces as we had fresh crabmeat and clams and Cheryl had shrimp and scallops. We went to their boat at 1730 and Jim and Cheryl made a seafood pasta with a white sauce. It was delicious. We enjoyed their company and finally returned to our boat at 2030.
||A Friendly Face
||Mom & Baby Boobie
April 5, 2004: Woke up in the middle of the night with the wind blowing and the seas hitting us on our beam. Ugh...I didn't really want to sleep tonight. Thankfully the winds died down after a few hours and I wasn't too worse for wear! I did some laundry and then thought I'd start working on the memory quilt but realized I hadn't prewashed the fabric. Ron hailed us after lunch wanting to know if we would be interested in exploring the north end of Isla Partida; we said yes. We took separate dinghies and our first stop was to another beach inside Ensenada Grande. We collected shells and enjoyed the little cove, but this cove had lots of dead puffer fish. Neither of us can get over how clear the water is. Then we continued north to Los Islotes to see the sea lions. This is a good snorkel/dive spot and there were many people in the water plus several kayakers. The sea lions swam all around us and dove under our boat. One had a sore on its stomach and floated upside down, scratching its belly on the side of our dinghy! We heard what sounded like a lamb and discovered several baby sea lions on a rock. How cute! We then headed back south. We pulled into El Embudo cove, but there was a kayaking tour with lots of people on the beach, so we didn't stop. Instead, we continued past Ensenada Grande and checked out the beach at Unnamed Cove #11. We found many huge scallop and clam shells. Additionally, when we were skirting the perimeter of the cove, we looked up and saw mom and baby boobie in a hole in the cliff, about 12' above the water. We tried to get close, but mom started to get nervous so we backed off. When we finally returned to our boats, we decided it must be time for happy hour somewhere in the world. Ron and Cheryl came over and we shared stories and enjoyed each other's company. We swapped movies and after they left, we watched Nine Months with Hugh Grant.
April 6, 2004: We were up early this morning despite the fact that we went to bed later than normal. We headed south at 0830 and joined Lazy Days in Puerto Ballena on Isla Espiritu Santo (Cove #5 in Cove Hopping Chartlet). We anchored close to the beach but got innundated by small flies so we moved further out. The flies were still a nuisance. We discovered that daylight savings time began two days ago! That's the cruising life for you! I started working on the quilting but paper piecing is so foreign to me. Eventually I was "saved" by Jim and Lazy Days telling me it was time to explore the coves to our south. We poked into a couple of them, marvelling at all the sargeant majors and king angel fish (black with a thin vertical white stripe on the body and a yellow tail). We walked the beach and collected all sorts of beautiful shells. The tide was coming in and our dinghies were in deeper water so we decided it was time to go before we ended up swimming to our dinghies! Jim and I returned to Mañana for happy hour and dinner. The little black flies were driving us nuts so we closed the doors (it got HOT inside!), but we were able to kill the flies that were already on the boat and no more got inside. We had leftover chicken mole, Spanish rice and zucchini with onions and garlic for dinner. Coromel winds started around 2330 and continued throughout the night, forcing us to rock and roll and get little sleep.
April 7, 2004: The combination of the pesky flies (that like to fly into your eyes and ears) and the rolly anchorage were enough to make us change our minds about staying here another day. Lazy Days was headed north to yet another cove so we decided to join them. On our way north, we found deep water and dropped our anchor and 150' of chain, hoping to get the kinks out of it. We were beam-to the waves for 5 minutes, but the chain came up nice and straight. We arrived in Caleta Del Enmedio at 1115 (Cove #6 in Cove Hopping Chartlet). The cove is very tiny...room for 3 boats max. I stayed on board and napped while Jim, Ron and Cheryl explored the beach. The no-see-ums drove them off after a short while, but Jim did bring me a few pretty shells and a bag of sand. We joined Lazy Days at 1730 for a BBQ. We brought a steak, garlic mashed potatoes and some red wine. Cheryl made a green bean casserole. Jim and I really enjoy their company; they cruised 18 years ago and we've learned a few tips from them (like how to unkink the anchor chain). We debated about whether or not to rig the flopper stopper, but it was very calm so we decided not to. Once again, at 2300, the winds and seas started building and we were bouncing badly. Jim climbed out of bed and set the flopper stopper. It helped a bit but we both were awake on and off all night.
April 8, 2004: We tried sleeping in but the winds and seas refused to die down. We thought we'd stay here another day but by 1100, we were still bouncing and the weather forecast was for the winds to continue out of the west (coming straight into the cove). We decided to bag it. We were destined for La Paz but Bahia Balandra looked inviting so we thought we'd give it a try. Once we were settled, Jim lowered Ruthie and we explored the south side of the bay. There were many good snorkel areas and one rock that Jim thought would offer good diving. He spent 40 min. diving on the rock while I kept an eye on Ruthie from a distance (lots of boats checked her out as they passed by but no one touched her). We put a movie on after dinner and listened to the net. The wind and waves were picking up as the sun was setting; as the previous week had shown us, there was no place to hide from the SW winds. Traveling to La Paz in the dark was not an option so Jim put the flopper stopper out and we hoped for the best.
April 9, 2004: We woke in the wee hours to a different rolling motion. Jim explored and discovered the pole for the flopper stopper was bent in half - GREAT! This was NOT what we needed! He pulled it in and lowered the flopper stopper off the rail but it wasn't very effective. It was still dark and sunrise wasn't for another 3 hours, so we went back to bed and tried to get some sleep. We pulled out of the anchorage at 0700, towing Ruthie. Jim felt it would be unsafe for him to try to get her onto the davits because the seas were so confused. I kept a close eye on her until we arrived at El Mogote at 0900. We were totally exhausted, but returning to La Paz gave us a warm, fuzzy feeling. We noticed that the El Mogote peninsula had many tents and lots of people on it. I guess the locals spend their long weekend holidays camping out there. Pangas went back and forth, closely passing the boats in the anchorage. Jim took a short nap in the late morning and after lunch, we went ashore, stopping to say hi to our friends on ManuWai and Wanderlust 5. We also did the officialdumb check in through Marina de La Paz. Neither of us can understand how they can take 10 min. to officially check us in for US$15, but if we do the leg work ourselves, it would take us several hours and cost us US$25! Go figure! The answer, of course, is "because this is Mexico." Today is Good Friday and a good majority of the stores were closed. We walked downtown and it looked like a ghost town. I was hoping the gal who did my hair in February would be open but "no joy". The fabric store and Radio Shack were closed as well. We stopped into the Peso Store and purchased several important items -- cheese puffs, tapioca pudding, pickles, etc. and then returned to the boat and relaxed. Jim was net controller and propagation was so-so. It's very frustrating trying to hear the boats checking in when all you can hear is a hissing or beeping noise (propagation). Anyway, he did a good job and we climbed into bed shortly thereafter.
April 10, 2004: We didn't wake up until after 0700. I can't tell you how good it felt to sleep through the night! We listened to the morning La Paz net and Jim made a delicious bacon and egg breakfast. Afterwards, we headed to shore with the errands list in hand. First stop was the hairdresser...no joy! She must be taking the weekend off. Then Jim dropped off the film he took while diving. We stopped into a couple fabric stores but patterns are hard to come by (Jim has asked me to make him a gauze shirt). Back to the store to get the film (one hour processing) and on to the grocery store. We had lunch in the cafeteria and then did our shopping. US$120 later and I had to ask myself, "didn't we stock up before we left Puerto Vallarta?" I'm embarassed to say that we bought a lot of liquor...happy hours are a BIG part of the cruising lifestyle and after a week with Ron and Cheryl, we were just about out of everything. We splurged and caught a taxi back to the marina, loaded up Ruthie and headed back out to the anchorage. On our way back, we had to slow down for dolphins in the anchorage! Of course I didn't have my camera with me, but we enjoyed watching them. A couple of them came right up to Ruthie, although they didn't surface. We wondered if they would try riding Ruthie's bow wake! Once back on board, we stowed all the food and collapsed. I have a feeling it's going to take us a couple of days to recoup from so many sleepless nights.
April 11, 2004: Happy Easter! We weren't aware of any parties or potlucks in the cruising community so we spent the day just relaxing on the boat. I made a pineapple cake, not that we needed it given all the goodies we bought on Friday! Ron and Cheryl came by in their dinghy. They had their son, daughter-in-law and 15 mo. old granddaughter on board. Ron appeared to be very comfortable playing the "happy grandpa" role! In late afternoon we started watching DVDs. Jim commented that we were eating dinner while watching TV -- I told him I hoped to spend the next two weeks doing just that!
April 12, 2004: We headed downtown in mid-morning -- Jim off to the internet cafe and I to the hairdresser. Got my hair cut (finally!) and then went to Ley grocery store for some items we couldn't get at CCC the other day. We met back at the marina and had lunch at the Dock Cafe. There's something going on with our web site and he wasn't able to update it again. Talk about frustrating! The wind was blowing 15-20 kts. when we returned to the boat so we had a wet ride back. Jim changed the watermaker filters and then we made water. He'll want to have full tanks before he heads into the yard. We are waiting to hear back from Cecil regarding the date/time for the boat work.
April 13, 2004: I spent the day cleaning the boat, doing laundry, and packing my bags. I've got a list a mile long of things that I need to pick up while back in the States, both from Jim and other cruisers. Jim picked up my bus ticket for tomorrow's trip to the aeropuerto while I was tending the washing machines. Jerry (ManuWai) sent along a "heads up" for me for the bus ride. Hopefully it won't be too much of an adventure!
April 14, 2004: I finished packing and Jim took me to shore. We decided to walk to the bus station; thankfully he carried the big bag! I had been told that the bus does not go into the airport but I would be dropped off on the side of the highway just outside the airport. A bus employee told me "no problemo, mucho taxis". Okay.... I was well and truly deposited on the side of the highway 3.5 hours later and there wasn't a taxi in sight. A sign indicated the airport was 2 kilometers away (1 1/4 miles). I was dressed in long jeans and my heavy "Seattle" shoes and it felt like it was 500 degrees out. I picked up my purse, carry-on and suitcase and started walking, praying that a taxi would stop and pick me up. No taxis stopped, but a young man in an Alamo van actually turned around, stopped, hopped out and opened the van door. I put the bags in the back and hopped into his nice air-conditioned van. He said something to me which I didn't understand, but I said "Alaska Airlines" and off we went. He deposited me at the Alaska terminal and I gave him enough pesos to buy himself a beer. I went up to the counter and the airlines clerk asked to see my immigration papers. My what? He told me I was supposed to have checked out of La Paz. I'm sure I went pale as I was imagining another 3.5 hour bus trip back to La Paz and missing my flight, but he sent me to the airport immigration office. I apologized profusely to the officer; he was very nice and checked me out. Muchas Gracias!! So much for no adventure! A little while later I was on a plane bound for Seattle. Colleen met me at the Westin Hotel and helped me lug the bags to her apartment. Let the fun begin!
April 15 - 29, 2004: Jan's story: The two weeks flew by. Colleen took the first couple of days off and helped me shop for the items on my various lists. She celebrated her 25th birthday (happy birthday, baby girl!) and as planned so long ago, we each got a tattoo. Colleen got a Celtic knot in shades of blue (I thought her first tattoo should say "Mom") and I am sporting a green turtle on my ankle. I spent 4 days on Orcas Island visiting Peter, Babs and many family and quilting friends. My timing was such that I was able to attend quilt class one night and spent quality time with a friend picking out fabrics for my memory quilt at the local fabric store. Once back in Seattle, I had planned to devote one day to pick up all the packages that had been ordered but was not successful. It actually took me several days because I didn't have a car and relied on my feet and the bus. I spent the last few days visiting friends at Dunatos, Kenworth, Mallard Cove, Westfield Center and Sonya's and attended the Spring DeFever rendezvous which was in Seattle. I spent part of my last day along the waterfront just staring out at Puget Sound and the snow-covered Olympic Mountains, trying to burn the memory of them into my brain. All in all, I had a wonderful trip. I spent a lot of time thinking about the cruising life vs. the rat race. The conclusion I came to was that although I am enjoying the cruising we're doing, I think I'm ready to return to land. I miss Colleen, miss being able to talk to my sisters any time I want and miss having a little money in the bank. I really love the Northwest and hope to return to it some day.
|Dried River Bed
April 15 - 29, 2004: Jim's story: Jim had a list of boat maintenance projects to tend to while I was gone. One of the projects was to strip three decades of non-skid off the side decks. Jim realized that the heat gun used more energy than the generator could produce and after three days, he moved the boat into Marina de La Paz, where he could be plugged into shore power. He hired Carlos, a local, two days later. Carlos had worked on many boats and had a very good reputation. Carlos spent the next 10 days working on the boat part time (for 50 pesos an hour). On April 18, Jim joined a group of gringos on a tour given by a local to see Indian cliff paintings believed to be thousands of years old. Unfortunately the paintings had been defaced by spray-painted graffiti as well as portions of the painted rock that were chiseled away. Everyone on the tour was disheartened and the tour leader very embarrassed. The picture titled "Dried River Bed" is dry for about 360 days a year. On the other few days, it is overflowing from the torrential rains. The tour also included a delicious picnic lunch and a tour to the Los Muertos area. We have been to Los Muertos by boat, so Jim was excited to see it from land. Despite the disappointment of the cliff paintings, he felt the day was enjoyable and rewarding. We had an appointment to have Mañana hauled out of the water to have bottom work done on April 22. She was making water (leaking) and we believed she needed to be recorked (pronounced "recaulked" - loose cotton fibers are forced into the seams between the wood planks). In addition, we planned to have the bottom of the boat repainted. While the yard workers were working on the bottom, and Carlos was working on the decks, Jim was working on the flybridge installing some finish trim around the seats. Mañana was the center of attention for a couple of days!
On the Hard
April 30, 2004: Colleen asked me to wake her before I left. She is definitely NOT a morning person, so the thought of waking her at 0445 was not a good one! The shuttle arrived at 0500. Colleen and I hugged, promising "no tears" to each other, but ended up with a few. The flight out of Seattle was one of the most beautiful I've been on. The sky was very blue with no clouds; Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood were all clearly visible. More reinforcement on how much I love the Northwest. I changed planes in San Francisco and we actually landed in San Jose del Cabo 30 min. early. I wasn't sure what to expect with Immigration and Customs and the fact that I was carrying a mini marine chandlery wasn't helping my nerves any. We were given a Customs Declaration form on the plane. I checked the boxes indicating that I had nothing to declare. The small print on the back of the form was (1) very small and (2) very vague so I honestly didn't know whether or not I was suppose to declare the items. As we've learned, it's easier to beg forgiveness than to ask permission down here. I only had 500 pesos with me and was praying that I wouldn't be assessed duty on the incoming supplies. Immigration went very quickly and smoothly (I was the only passenger to be "returning" to Mexico so my paperwork was different) and my suitcase arrived quickly as well. I handed the Customs officer my paperwork; she noted all boxes were checked "no" and told me to press the button on a machine that would randomly decide if I should be searched. Thankfully I got a green light and I wasted no time in getting out of the area! Jim had arranged to borrow a van from Peter and Glenora (Wanderlust 5) to come pick me up. Glenora asked if he would drop her off at Costco while he was picking me up. Instead, they both went to Costco and showed up an hour after I had gotten through Customs. I definitely wasn't going to complain because the van was filled with all sorts of goodies for themselves and for other cruisers. Jim took the mountain road back. It's a terrific motorcycle road -- a two lane, twisty, windy road that runs along the side of the mountain. The drop off is severe in spots and there are no guard rails or street lights. For the most part, it is a 50 mph road. There were a few spots where we slowed because of a cow on the road. It took 3 hours but felt much faster because we were all chatting. We delivered Carina's supplies and were offered a drink in return. After a little while we left and went to a Japanese restaurant for dinner. We returned to the boat, which is still on the hard at the boat yard, at 2115. "On the hard" means the boat is out of the water and supported with large blocks and braces to keep her centered. A ladder is secured to the back of the boat so we can safely go up and down -- did I mention I don't like climbing ladders?
May 1, 2004: Happy May Day! I slept in, exhausted from yesterday's travel. Once awake, I got to begin experiencing life as a CLOD (Cruiser Living On Dirt). Jim's been doing this for over a week and has the routine down, but it is new to me. To begin with, I was introduced to the other CLODs around us, as well as the two yard dogs, Inca and Bobo. Inca is a Rottweiler and Bobo is a malnourished Mastiff; both dogs are very gentle. The yard workers told one boat owner that dog food had been purchased for the dogs, but there's been no indication that it's being given to them. Mañana, both inside and out, was covered in a fine dust. When living in a working yard, there's no escaping the dust. I spent a little time walking around the interior with my Swiffer, but decided it was useless. Additionally, we can't let any water go down the drain because it drains overboard onto people who might be under or around the boat. That means no washing up in the head (bathroom). We run the kitchen faucet into our dish basin and empty the basin in the evening after the workers leave. The basin tends to fill up with water during the day, which makes doing the dishes a real chore. Jim's been carrying a teapot full of hot water down the ladder along with the basin and has been washing the dishes in an outside sink. We spent a good portion of the morning unpacking and stowing the Costco goodies while the yard workers put the first coat of bottom paint on. After lunch, we headed into town for a few grocery items. We noticed a Mexican Navy WW2 era amphibious vessel (A.R.M. Manzanillo) tied up at the municipal pier and went to take a look. A local told us we could go aboard if we wanted so we walked past the security gates and a sailor motioned us aboard. He proceeded to give a mini tour to 7 of us -- he showed us the bridge and electronics room and then we walked out along the bow, where we got to look down the hatches at the crews' quarters and cargo decks, and were allowed to admire the 20 mm deck guns and their ammunition. We were amazed at how much of his talk we understood, but were thankful that one of the people on the tour spoke English and helped us with a couple of our questions. After the tour we walked up town and ran our errands. We picked up a bag of dog food with the hope of fattening Bobo up. On our way to the colectivo, we came across a vendor selling something we'd never seen before. It looked like a small Roma tomato but green to yellow in color. He let us sample a ciruela. The skin was sour but the inner fruit pulp was sweet. We thought it tasted like an oversized grape and bought 5 pesos worth; they came with a small bag of chili powder. We looked ciruela up in the dictionary and it means "plum". Jim made chorizo with onions, rice and refried beans for dinner. It was good to be back with all three of my boys.
No Escaping the Heat!
May 2, 2004: It was 95 degrees outside and 87 inside by 1100 -- just too hot to want to do anything but flake. So we spent the day reading and did a little socializing. When I left La Paz three weeks ago, it was only in the 70s. Although it definitely feels like summer is here, we're told this is Spring and it will continue to get hotter. Now there's a lovely thought! A cool breeze came through briefly around dinner time and again around 2030. We're doing our best to open and close the doors and hatches to catch the breeze and block out the sun. Living on the hard is definitely not one of the highlights of cruising! A lot of the people we talked to said they were scheduled to either be launched or hauled on Monday. We've also been told we'll be splashed (put back in the water) tomorrow. This should be interesting. Perhaps they think gringos are tired of hearing "mañana" so they're now telling everyone "Monday."
May 3, 2004: We were awakened by the movement of the boat. The yard workers were moving the braces so they could put another coat of paint on the bottom. I decided to make use of the shore water and electricity and washed and ironed all my new fabric. Jim borrowed Wanderlust 5's van and ran a bunch of errands. Bets were being taken among those on the hard as to whether any of us would be splashed. We went to bed still on terra firma.
In the Slings
May 4, 2004: Alejandro (the yard owner) said that everyone who should be in the water would be in the water by the end of the day. Right... The yard's travel lift was put in action and a few boats were shuffled into different spots. The zincs and flopper stopper pole that was promised to be delivered at 0800 arrived after lunch. Once the zincs were installed, we continued our vigil waiting to see if we'd spend another night on the hard. Around 1530 Alejandro held a staff meeting and didn't sound like he was a happy camper. Shortly thereafter, the travel lift was moved to the large sportsfisher and very gingerly moved it away from the launch channel. Once the sportsfisher was braced, the travel lift moved Magic Places into the water -- hooray! We were next! Jim and I scurried around the boat, quickly disconnecting the electricity and securing a few items. While we were doing that, the ladder was removed so we couldn't get off the boat. This was a first for both of us -- in the States, no one is aboard the boat (for safety/liability reasons) while it's being moved. The travel lift manuevered around Mañana and the workers put two slings under her. The slings were tightened and away we went. Mañana creaked and groaned; it was an unsettling sound. I kept praying that the slings wouldn't slip. It took about 15 minutes to move us around in the yard and lower us into the water. Four yard workers held onto our lines and we stayed in the travel lift slings until we were sure that we weren't making more water than our bilge pumps could handle (on a wood boat, when you're out of the water, the wood planks of the hull dry out and the seams open up slightly, allowing water to leak in when first launched. The seams swell up and the leaking stops generally within 24 hours.) In our case, only a little water weeped in. We pulled into a slip at Marina de La Paz and had many hands on the dock help us with our lines. After a short happy hour on Wanderlust 5, we returned for a steak and cold tortellini salad for dinner. Ah, it's good to be afloat!
May 5, 2004: Feliz Cinco de Mayo! After breakfast we gave the boat a much-needed washdown. She was filthy. We also filled a bucket with fresh water and put a couple of our lines in it to soak. Our lines are stiff as a board from the salt water. Glenora stopped by and asked if we'd like to take advantage of their van and do some provisioning. Her plan was to go out during siesta when the stores would be relatively quiet and we could spend a couple hours in an air-conditioned store. That sounded like an excellent idea! Unfortunately the boat was stifling hot when we returned and we had to deal with stowing all the food we'd bought - definitely not a fun chore. As you probably could guess, today is a holiday and the banks and some of the smaller stores were closed. We didn't see any huge banners across the front of restaurants advertising Cinco de Mayo Happy Hour specials like we would have back in the States.
May 6, 2004: Jim worked on the flopper-stopper pole after breakfast and I walked to the grocery store for some items we couldn't find yesterday. The heat was in full swing during my walk back (over a mile) to the boat. The laundry was the next chore on my list. I sat in the shade and enjoyed a soda at the Dock Cafe while the clothes were in the dryer. When I returned to the boat, Jim told me he was having problems putting the parts for the flopper-stopper pole together and we might have to stay the weekend. So, around 1400 we went to the office and paid for a couple more days and then walked to the boat yard to retrieve Ruthie. The short ride back to the marina felt good. Later in the afternoon, Jim removed an old deck fill from the starboard side deck. Luckily for him, it was in the shade. Philip and Leslie (Carina) joined us for dinner. I made baked potatoes with all the toppings, bacon and vegetables and we had some freshly-sliced papaya for desert. The heat continues to be unbearable. If we were in Seattle, we'd expect this "heat wave" to break soon. I've never been a fan of 95 degrees, but was able to deal with it because I spent the day in an air-conditioned office and our house was surrounded by trees (except for the floating home). My temper is starting to run short and I could really use a good night's sleep.
May 7, 2004: Today was boat project day. Jim did more sanding, epoxying and fiberglassing the starboard side deck, installed the new mast head light and worked on the flopper-stopper pole and its new rigging. I sanded the varnish on the flybridge rails. It was the coolest it's been since I returned -- 87 degrees outside with a nice breeze. We walked to the head of the dock at lunchtime and bought four chicken burritos from Imelda for 28 pesos. She doesn't speak English, or if she does, she hasn't told anyone. Jim's getting very good at understanding her but I had to keep telling her "mas despacio" (more slowly). She would smile and talk slowly for the first three words and then she would start talking like a firing machine gun. I made us a couple of gin and tonics at 1700. Jim was still working outside when Bill from Bydand stopped by and invited us to his boat for happy hour. We brought our drinks and a bowl of pistachios with us. Bill made quesadillas and offered tortillas. After a tour of their 39' Kady Krogen, we sat and chatted until it was time for Jim to do the Blue Water Cruisers Net at 1930. We are surrounded by sailboats here at the marina and the masts cause major interference with our ability to hear boats on the SSB.
May 8, 2004: Jim installed the new friction plates for the windlass that I brought down from Seattle and I varnished the wood on the flybridge. It was right on the borderline of it being too hot to varnish. Yesterday Jim and I talked about coordinating a pot luck on the dock so he went boat to boat inviting the cruisers who were around for a potluck tonight at 1700. I had some errands to run downtown and he decided to come along as he needed some new drill bits. Our first stop was to the "chicken lady." I thought she was in the Bravo public market, but realized differently after we'd walked there. We asked someone where the other public market was and then headed off. We bought 10 chicken legs; the owner cut them at the joint and then skinned them for us. When all was said and done, we had 10 drumsticks and 10 thighs -- 3 1/2 kilos (that's over 7 lbs) of chicken for 105 pesos, or about US$10. We stopped in the local comida economica for lunch. Jim had chicken mole and I had quesadillas, plus we each had a soda. The owner spoke a little English and wanted to practice it on us. As always, we wanted to continue practicing our Spanish. We were trying to learn the verb "to give" but were having little success because the owner didn't speak enough English to understand what we were asking. A moment later, the owner introduced us to a man who teaches English at the local elementary school. He joined us and explained many things to us, including the very irregular verb "to give" and gave us his mama's recipe for machaca, dried shredded beef. We've seen it in the stores but never knew what it was or what to do with it. He was very interested in our cruising lifestyle and we hope to get together when we return to La Paz before we leave for the States. We bought 1/2 kilo of machaca before leaving the public market. We then walked to the Ace Hardware store and to the Ley grocery store (just had to buy more sardines in chili sauce). There was no breeze and it was stifling hot, so we caught a colectivo back to the Malecon. Unfortunately I had to turn the oven on to cook all the chicken. We had about a dozen people attend and there were lots of goodies to sample, so we'd say it was a success. Peter brought his cat, Marty, over to meet DC. Marty wasn't so sure of it but DC was very curious, even going nose to nose without making a sound. Peter then brought Marty a little closer to the boat. All was fine until Marty put his front paws on our boat and at that point, DC hissed at him. But it was very interesting watching the interaction between the two. DC continued to troll for pets by sitting on the bow pulpit. He's such a ham!
May 9, 2004: Happy Mother's Day! We teamed together to sand and varnish the flybridge, hoping to get it done before the heat cranked up. It's looking better with each coat of varnish. After lunch we walked downtown to an internet cafe. There was no space at Don Jose's so we went to another cafe. They had one space, which was in use by someone using the electricity, but not the internet. In my best Spanglish, I asked if we could trade spaces. The person was more than willing. Using the internet in Mexico can be a real challenge and it took us 3 1/2 hours to do all our business. Jim treated me to dinner at the Ciao Molina restaurant. They were having music to celebrate Mother's Day. We left the restaurant early because I wasn't feeling great. I climbed into bed at 2000. I don't think I drank enough liquids today.
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