Mexico... Por Hoy?
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By Eileen Quinn
I'm counting up what I've got to show for all these years afloat
a dog eared passport, a weathered face, a tired old boat
a yarn or two that might be true and a couple of battle scars
days of sparkling waters, nights of falling stars.
I've got seashells, I've got souvenirs, I've got songs I've penned
I've got photographs, I've got memories, but mostly I've got friends
July 1, 2004: We waited with Encanto until their taxi came. It was tough to say good-bye to them but we promised to keep in touch via e-mail. Who knows? Perhaps we'll be able to see them in San Diego on their return trip. After they left we got busy with our last-minute items: Jim checked us out of La Paz and went to the internet cafe and I washed the boat. When he returned, we filled the water tank and said good-bye to some other friends. It was with mixed emotions that we said adios to La Paz. We both like the city and have tried to think up ways to stay and work here. Things we will miss: fresh delicious fruits and vegetables, "real" tomatoes, flour tortillas, panaderias, the people. Things we won't miss: the heat, the challenge of procuring boat parts. Dunamis (Dottie and Dick) left the marina 30 min. before us. Although Dottie is a net controller, we hadn't met them until last night. They are on their way to San Diego as well and we thought it might be a good idea to buddy boat. Their first stop was going to be Bahia Falsa in Pichilingue, about 10 miles from La Paz. Dick couldn't make their boat go any faster than 3.5 kts so we passed them. Dottie had told us their under-power speed is normally 5.5 kts (they are a sailboat) so we wondered what was wrong. We anchored in the cove and it was a lovely spot with the exception of the highway being nearby and the noise from the trucks and buses that used their jake brakes going up or down the hills. We did not have the evening winds that cool La Paz so the boat was quite warm. Additionally, I wasn't used to the boat being in motion so much and didn't sleep well. Guess it will take another day or so for me to get my sea legs under me!
July 2, 2004: We weighed anchor at 0715 with Los Muertos in mind. Dick waved and said they'd be 30 min. behind us. About 45 min. later Dottie hailed us saying they still couldn't get much speed out of their boat (their hull was covered with barnacles; Dick scraped 1/2 the boat once they anchored yesterday but the boat needed more.) They were returning to La Paz to have a diver clean their bottom and hopefully they'd be back underway before noon. We had a pleasant run through the San Lorenzo and Cerralvo Channels, escorted by several pods of common and bottlenosed dolphins. On several occasions we got to witness mom teaching her baby the fine art of bow wake riding. As we neared the south end of Isla Cerralvo, the wind switched directions so it was coming out of the south. We both knew that Los Muertos would not be a comfortable anchorage with a south wind; I suggested we pull into Bahia la Ventana but Jim wanted to continue south to check out the anchorage. The last time we came through here the wind changed directions at Bahia la Ventana. We arrived in Los Muertos 1.5 hours later and found the anchorage very rolly. Unfortunately there was no way of knowing if the swells would die down or if the wind would change direction later in the evening, so we decided to return to Bahia la Ventana, where we hoped we'd get a good night's sleep. We arrived at the anchorage at the same time as Trindade, a large motor yacht that was in Marina de La Paz with us. Dunamis checked into the evening net saying they were in Caleta Lobos.
The Illusive Dorado
July 3, 2004: Jim was up early talking to Don regarding the weather for the next 24-48 hours. He predicted south winds; we'd much prefer the south winds AFTER we round Cabo San Lucas, not before! We were underway at 0700, destined for Los Frailes, and immediately ran into the 15-20 kt. south winds Don had predicted. Jim set the trolling line as soon as we cleared the anchorage, ever hopeful! We heard Dunamis hail La Serena, another boat headed to San Diego. La Serena decided to spend another day in La Paz. As we were chatting with Dottie on the VHF, Jim caught a 12" bonito -- and tossed it back. A couple hours later, we had another FISH ON! I stayed on the flybridge (wo)manning the helm while Jim reeled it in. The fish jumped out of the water and Jim was able to see it was green. Dare we hope that maybe, finally, we'd caught a dorado? As he continued to fight it, I noticed there were two fish and I'd never seen anything like these fish. Yes, the fish gods had finally smiled down on us and blessed us with a 44" dorado. I had the better view advantage of just what Jim had on the line and asked him how he thought we were going to land it. He suggested the net but I knew there was no way this fish was going to fit in our net (it's fine for a 24" bonito). I grabbed the gaff for him and when he had the dorado alongside the boat, he gaffed it and hauled it on board. The interesting thing was that the second fish stayed close by its "friend" throughout the ordeal. I was actually feeling guilty at the thought of having it for dinner and suggested that maybe we could let it go so the "friend" wouldn't be lonely. Jim gave me a "What are you, nuts?" look. When he was done fileting the fish, we had about 8 lbs of dressed dorado. Yum! I hailed Dottie and asked if they liked dorado. "Love it" was the reply. I told her we'd put some aside for them when we caught up with each other in Cabo San Lucas. A short while later Dottie hailed us to say they were turning around because Dick wasn't comfortable with the boat nor the fact that they had no crew and Dottie hadn't been out of a wrist cast too long. They would head north to San Carlos and truck their boat back to southern Calif. We were disappointed but certainly understood their decision. We pulled into Bahia Pulmo on the north side of Los Frailes at 1530. The wind was blowing and the anchorage afforded little protection from the wind waves and swell, but we knew it was much better on this side than in Los Frailes.
July 4-5, 2004: Bug out! We'd both been lying in bed awake, unable to sleep because of the rolliness of the anchorage. At 0045 Jim asked if I wanted to head out; leaving now would put us in Cabo San Lucas, 50 miles south, in the daylight. By 0105 we were ready to weigh the anchor, except the anchor wouldn't budge. We were stuck on something and it didn't matter how we moved the boat; we weren't going anywhere. We had two choices: go back to bed and try again in the daylight or Jim could dive on it in the dark. He donned his scuba gear and it took him less than a minute to free the anchor -- it was caught on a rock ledge. We were underway at 0140 with the light of the full moon guiding us south. We immediately started three-hour helm watches. At 0800 Jim checked into the Amigo net indicating we were enroute to Cabo San Lucas. The net controller asked if we were headed around and we said it would depend on what Don predicted for the next 24 hours. At that point, the winds and seas were benign. Don came on and told us we had a window, so we changed our course and settled in for a long (another 172 miles) ride. We checked back into the net and said we were going around to Bahia Santa Maria. [The various nets play an important role when trying to find a boat that has been reported overdue. Don and the Coast Guard work together when trying to locate a missing boat. As Don gives the weather forecast for several nets, he can get the word out to a lot of people. The net controller is responsible for keeping track of the boats that check in and their current location or destination. We hate to hear it when Don reports that a boat has been reported as overdue/missing, but most of the boats are found relatively quickly. Unfortunately there is currently a report out for a young man with limited sailing experience who left Calif. in March and hasn't been heard from since. We all hope to hear he was tucked into a remote cove someplace.] As we were approaching Cabo San Lucas, I noticed something sticking out of the water close to the boat. It was a 6-8' marlin that was swimming along the surface. Thank heavens we didn't have a lure out! Jim also noticed lots of rays and a giant manta, about 8' across its wingspan. We were escorted several times by various pods of common and bottlenosed dolphins. At 1930 we went through a school (?) of small red "things." They looked like tiny cooked Maine lobsters, except the bodies were only about 1/2" - 1" long and their claws were easily the length of their body. They swam along the top of the water using their tails for propulsion. The temperature started dropping as the sun set and we both changed into long pants and put on long-sleeved shirts. Additionally, Jim put the quilt on the bed. This cooler weather is much nicer (it got down to 67 degrees). In the morning, Don predicted the winds were going to be picking up a little for the next 24 hours. We were both tired and the next anchorage was another 155 miles north. I wasn't sure I had the stamina to go another 22 hours, especially if the wind was going to start picking up. (I'm not a happy camper when I'm tired and sea conditions aren't pleasant.) Additionally, we've never been in the next northern anchorage and didn't know what kind of shelter it would afford us. In the end, we decided to stay in Bahia Santa Maria. According to Don, we might be here all week. We pulled into Bahia Santa Maria at 1030 and were all (the cats, too) in bed and asleep by 1130. After a two-hour nap, we had lunch and relaxed the remainder of the day. The high temperature was 75 degrees, a far cry from the 105 degrees of La Paz. The cats have plenty of excess energy that needs to be expelled!
July 5-6, 2004: We listened to Don on the evening net and he forecasted calm seas for another 48 hours so we made the decision to head north at 2030. True, it meant cruising overnight, but we didn't feel like we could pass up the opportunity to gain some ground while it was still relatively calm. Our destination was Bahia San Juanico, a 14 hour cruise. The overnight cruise was uneventful. The highlight of the night was listening to a Mexican sing a song about bananas over the VHF radio. The next morning when we were about 15 miles out of Bahia San Juanico we once again listened to Don's forecast. He was still predicting relatively calm winds and seas. The next anchorage was another 10 hours away -- we took quick stock of our bodies and decided we each had enough oomph to continue on. We altered course and headed north to Abreojos. The afternoon winds kicked up a couple hours out of Abreojos so it was a bit bumpy. We arrived at 1910, tired but happy to finally be able to turn the engine off. I made dinner and we checked into the net at 1945. We each washed a Tylenol PM down with some red wine and climbed into bed at 2030.
A Surprise Visitor
July 7, 2004: We slept 12 hours -- we realized we hadn't had a full night's sleep since last Friday. Jim woke first and told me he wanted to get underway as there was no wind and the anchorage was calm. I have a hard time waking my body out of a Tylenol PM stupor and the last thing I wanted was to get underway again. However, I realized that Jim was right about moving north while the getting was good. We upped anchor at 0905; the good thing was today was a relatively short day of only 52 miles. The wind stayed at 10 kts. or below, giving us a very comfortable ride until we arrived Bahia Asuncion at 1625, when it picked up to 20 kts. I opened the side door so the cats could go out shortly after we got settled. The next thing I knew, DC was running down the side deck and Jerry was hot on his tail. I thought I'd seen a pelican fly overhead. We ran outside to see what was going on; the pelican was sitting on the aft deck and DC was about 2' away. Jerry took one look at the pelican, turned around and made a bee line back into the boat with his tail fluffed up. Jim tried to shoo the pelican off the aft deck but instead it flew into the dinghy. I grabbed the camera for a quick photo opportunity, but getting the pelican out of the dinghy was high on the priority list -- pelican poop is nasty stuff! A little while later a gringo voice hailed "the pleasure vessel in Bahia Asuncion" over the VHF. We answered the hail and talked to Shari, a Canadian ex-pat who has lived on the Baja for the past 15 years. She was very interesting to chat with and Jim and I were sorry that we weren't going to be able to spend more time to check out the village (perhaps next time.) Jim fixed dorado and rice for dinner, I did the dishes and then we climbed into bed. The alarm was set for 0400 -- ugh!
July 8, 2004: We were underway by 0425. The winds were still non-existent but the seas were confused, making me feel like we were being agitated in a washing machine. Jim talked to Don again; he told us the winds were still expected but were delayed about 12 hours, which was fine with us. We didn't want to think about what the seas would be like with 20-25 kt. winds. As we were approaching Turtle Bay, we wondered what the anchorage would be like, since it is technically "off season" for cruisers. We'd received a warm welcome when we were here in December. We entered Turtle Bay just after noon and immediately a panga was headed in our direction. I opened the side door, said hola to the two teenagers and told them we needed to anchor our boat. They backed off but continued to follow us. As we were still trying to decide where to anchor, another panga headed out to us. However, the second panga insisted on riding right in front of us, sometimes so close that we couldn't see where he was. I figured if he was that stupid, he deserved to get run over! Jim talked to him as we were anchoring - no tengo basura, no necessito diesel (I have no trash, I don't need diesel). With that, he was gone. Once we were finally anchored, I opened the door to speak to the teenagers. They were very polite and said they remembered us from December when we purchased diesel from Jorge. (We wondered if they would have remembered us if we'd been in a sailboat.) One of the boys was Carlos, Jorge's son, who had helped his dad deliver the fuel and accidentally discharged a fire extinguisher all over himself and our boat. At the time we all laughed, but it was apparent that Carlos was embarrassed! We told him we had no trash and needed no fuel but asked how much he'd charge for a ride into shore. His response was "no charge, just tip." Jim said we'd call him mañana, and also told him our boat name was Mañana, which the boys got a kick out of. A few minutes later a third panga pulled up beside us. We told him the same thing we'd told the other two. He, too, was polite and friendly and left. We are looking forward to spending the next few days hunkered down here while the wind blows. We want to explore the town a little more since other cruisers mentioned things of interest, plus we promised Carina that we'd say hi to some friends of theirs for them.
July 9, 2004: We took the opportunity to do nothing all day except read, relax and watch the bay's comings and goings. There is a US sailboat on the other side of the bay that we're curious about -- have seen no activity on it. Three young boys rowed by to say hi. The cooler weather feels so much nicer -- 80 during the day and 65 at night.
Views of Turtle Bay
July 10, 2004: We haven't been able to check into the nets because of poor propagation -- lots of static from thunderstorms in the Puerta Vallarta area. Don's forecast predicted strong winds for the next 48 hours. We put two dictionaries and a windshield wiper in a backpack and called Carlos for a ride to shore. Jim paid him 50 pesos for the round trip. We walked into town looking for an auto parts store. After asking a guy at the Pemex gas station, we wandered off looking for a yellow building and eventually found it off in the industrial side of town. They didn't have exactly what we need, but Jim will be able to make do. We asked the sales clerk for directions to Carlos & Mercedes palapa. Our friends on Carina had specifically asked us to seek them out and say hi. As we were walking down the road, a pickup truck stopped and motioned us into the bed of the truck, saying he'd take us to the restaurant. He dropped us off several minutes later -- it was a VERY bumpy and dusty ride (the streets are not paved and it hasn't rained in a while.) We introduced ourselves to Isabela and Mercedes and ordered lunch. A short while later, Carlos joined us. We talked to them for 2 1/2 hours, totally in Spanish (thank goodness we had the dictionaries.) Mercedes told us that the owner of the US sailboat in the anchorage used to sit on his boat drinking and smoking. She said he had stomach problems, returned to the States and died! We wondered what will happen to his boat? Carlos drove us downtown to a grocery store, where we picked up a few items. He then dropped us off at the panaderia. We thanked him and walked back to the pier. We'd told (the other) Carlos we'd meet him between 1400 - 1430. It was just 1430. We hailed him several times but he didn't answer. A young boy came up to us and said "Hey meester, taxi?" Jim told him we needed Carlos. The boy ran around the corner to a palapa and returned saying "Carlos no es aqui." Great! It was too far to swim and we were wondering what Plan B was going to be. We walked to the palapa and talked to a man about needing a water taxi. We told him we'd already paid Carlos. A few minutes later, Carlos's friend came out of a house and brought us back to our boat. We offered him money but he refused to take it (he was with Carlos in the morning for the ride into shore). Jim changed the gasket for the raw water pump and realized we were out of oil; he'd forgotten we'd given 5 gallons to The Cat's Meow and he'd never replaced it -- oops! We will have to get more oil before heading out of here.
Turtle Bay's Cemetery
July 11, 2004: Don's weather during the morning net indicated the winds should be dying down tomorrow but there's a good chance that "cyclonic activity" will develop and head towards Cabo San Lucas by Weds. or Thurs. Don told La Serena (who's currently in Cabo San Lucas) that they should get out of Cabo yesterday and not stop until they reach Turtle Bay. Personally, I'd just assume we get heading north ourselves. Jim lowered Ruthie -- after yesterday's fiasco with Carlos, we weren't going to play that game again. We tied her to the pier and headed out towards the cemetery, which was out beyond town. Almost every family plot had a "house" built on it; we looked into the window of a few of them and the interior contained pictures of the deceased, a rosary, religious artifacts and lots of silk flowers. Even the plots without a building contained bouquets of silk flowers. The cemetery was totally different than what we have in the States. There doesn't appear to be a lot of money in Turtle Bay as it's mainly a fishing community. However, one has to wonder how much a family will spend on a house for a deceased loved one. The "houses" for the dead in the cemetery were in much better condition than the houses for the living in town. From there we walked into town, hoping to find an auto parts store open on Sunday. We found one but he didn't have the oil we needed. Surprisingly, the Pemex gas station doesn't sell oil. We stopped into a tienda and bought some machaca and the ingredients for quacamole -- Jim's request. We returned to our boat in time for lunch and relaxed the remainder of the afternoon. At dinner time, I noticed a sailboat coming into the anchorage -- oh boy!! I recognized the boat (Tango) as one we anchored near back in February in Manzanillo. We hailed them to say hi and they remembered us as well (there really haven't been that many trawlers cruising.) Later in the evening we heard a boat named Senior Moment giving its lat/lon, to the Coast Guard. It sounded like they were having a rough ride but they anticipated arriving into Turtle Bay in the middle of the night.
Main Street - Turtle Bay
July 12, 2004: Don's forecast indicated that the "cyclonic activity" is now a full-fledged tropical storm. He didn't think we'd be affected by anything except perhaps some higher sea swells from the south, which would be fine with us. We decided to go into town in mid-morning. We stopped by to say hi to Tango and chatted briefly about the various anchorages that might make good resting spots between here and Ensenada. We then continued on our way. Our first stop was the grocery store that Carlos had driven us to -- we needed tomatoes but the few in that store were very green so we continued on. We stopped into another small market and bought the tomatoes before going to the auto parts store where we'd bought the wipers. The store had the oil, but only in a 5-gallon drum. We really wanted a couple one-gallon containers so that we could easily carry them back to the boat. The sales clerk remembered us and asked if we were going back to the beach. "Si," we said. He told us to wait a minute and he'd drive us -- muchas gracias señor! He dropped us off at the base of the pier. We loaded everything into Ruthie and returned to the boat. After dinner, Jim secured Ruthie to her davits and readied the boat for an early morning departure.
July 13, 2004: We got up early to listen to Don's forecast but decided to get underway before we actually talked to him. Senior Moment blew past us doing over 20 kts; Tango was 30 min. behind us. We had lumpy, confused seas with 4' swells from the west and 15 kt. winds from the north. We talked to Tango over the VHF a couple of times. I find it comforting to know someone else is out here with me. The seas got better as we went north and they were virtually flat by the time we were approaching Isla San Benito. The preferred anchorage is at the western-most island; there were many large kelp beds and we slowly picked our way as close to shore as we dared. Unfortunately there was a panga in the choicest anchoring spot and neither of us was comfortable with the thought of anchoring in deeper water where the kelp beds were. We turned around, careful not to catch any of the kelp around our propellor and moved over to the middle island. There were large kelp beds there as well, but we were able to pick our way into a good spot, hopefully far enough away from the kelp. A large elephant seal colony inhabits the middle island and to say it was noisy would be an understatement! We had seals swimming all around us, checking out the intruder. We got the binoculars out and scanned the beach. One section was covered with HUGE sea lions, lying on the sand sunning themselves and occasionally defending turf by going chest to chest. An area a bit further down housed the medium-sized seals and the babies/juveniles were the furthest away. Sea lions, big and small, continued to swim out and around us the remainder of the day. They are very entertaining to watch. A panga with three fishermen stopped by to say hi. We talked for a minute -- they were hoping we might have some Coca Cola on board -- lo siento, no. We are once again back in the Pacific time zone...haven't been in this time zone since last December.
July 14-15, 2004: Jim was up early -- the anchorage was quite rolly. We had planned to explore here today and leave tonight for Isla San Jeronimo but it was becoming very uncomfortable and Don had predicted flat calm seas. So we upped anchor at 0805 thinking maybe we'd go to Isla San Martin, but if it turned out that we'd be arriving there in the dark, we'd continue on to Bahia Colnett. For the most part, we've made it a point not to enter a new anchorage in the dark. The weather did exactly what Don predicted. Occasionally we had some pretty big swells, but with no wind, things were comfortable. Unfortunately we fought a very foul current (5.5 kts.) most of the way. We arrived at Bahia Colnett at 1105, 27 hours later. The anchorage was calm except for a southern swell from tropical storm Blas. Jim and I were talking about "home." He said he never understood why boats would push themselves on once they were north of Turtle Bay. However, we now understand; we feel like we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Normally the "Baja Bash" is truly a bash; we've been very lucky with our weather window. But you start looking at the chart and realize you're only 200 miles away and there's something in that magic number that just drives you to keep on going. We relaxed and napped during the afternoon and went to bed early. Jim set the alarm for 0400 :(
July 16, 2004: We were underway by 0430; I felt like I'd just climbed into bed and it was already time to get up. I did go back to bed for a couple of hours once we were safely out of the anchorage. The seas weren't as calm as the past couple of days; we still had the swell from the south, but it was going head to head with swells from the north, making it a rather lumpy trip. We talked to Tango -- they were about 10 miles behind us. We arrived in Ensenada at 1530. Although we still have to get to San Diego, I felt a monumental release of stress having made it this far. Jim hailed Juanito's for a mooring ball and was told a panga would be sent out to take our line. As we were waiting, some men starting whistling and waving to us, indicating that we should take a slip. Jim told them we didn't want a slip, we wanted a mooring ball. They told us they were all gone. We were a bit suspicious but I started to set fenders. Just then, we noticed the panga coming out to us. We almost fell for the trick -- it was Sergio's, Juanito's competition. We settled in on the mooring ball and relaxed as several small boats carrying passengers wearing orange life jackets cruised past us. I felt like we were sitting in the middle of a busy intersection! We kept seeing the same boats but with different people. The turnaround was pretty fast so it had to have been a very short harbor cruise, but I found it hard to believe that there were so many people standing in a line wanting a short boat ride. Well, this is Mexico and anything's possible! We climbed into bed early and listened to loud music with an even louder base booming until 0230.
July 17, 2004: We were up at 0700 to find not one, but two cruise ships in port. We had just been talking about whether the cruise lines came to Mexico in the summer -- now we know! (These boats do the LA-San Diego-Ensenada-LA run.) We've learned not to go into town when a cruise ship's in port because the prices go up. We were looking forward to exploring Ensenada without cruise ships in port in order to see what the town is really like (a cruise ship was here last Dec., too). Oh well, we've also learned that the "real Mexico" is two or three blocks away from the waterfront. We took Ruthie to the dock and walked around the area. Juan had told us where we'd find shoe stores and recommended a couple of restaurants, all far from the waterfront. Jim bought himself a much-needed pair of sneakers and I got a haircut, figuring it would be cheaper in Mexico than San Diego. From there we had lunch at a nice, but expensive, restaurant. Jim had a "mar y tierra" (surf & turf) dish and I had shrimp in a very spicey sauce. I wouldn't have been able to eat it 7 months ago; as it was, I took one bite of food and two gulps of water and my nose was running like a sieve! After lunch we walked a couple of blocks to a church and went inside. I don't have much of a religious streak in me but I've thoroughly enjoyed the old churches -- they are so large and beautiful inside. We gradually walked back to the boat, past the fish and taco stands. This part of the malecon was crowded with locals -- families with children. One booth sold a bucket of fish for $1 with the idea that you feed the pelicans and seagulls. The pelicans were running around the malecon begging for fish, quite humerous unless you were a child wearing sandals and had a pelican mistake your toes as fish! When we returned to the boat, I took stock of the foods we still had on board that would not be allowed into the States -- chicken, chorizo, beef, eggs, fruits and vegetables. We had been hoping that Tom and Judy, the prior owners of our boat, would be in Ensenada and help us eat the food, but they had returned to LA for a few weeks. I made brownies and meatloaf, trying to use up some of the eggs. There's also the issue of us having too much booze on board. For some reason, getting rid of that's not a problem!
July 18, 2004: We had eggs for breakfast and I hard boiled the last two. Good! Eggs are gone! We spent the morning goofing off. Jim cooked a smoked chicken breast for sandwiches; another item to be crossed off the "Forbidden" foods list. After lunch we hopped in Ruthie and decided to see just what's in the harbor that has so many tour boats zooming around us. We poked around for 45 minutes. We discovered a marina that appeared to be connected with a local hotel. It sounded like your moorage included all hotel amenities (a shower and laundromat would be REALLY nice). We also checked out the SS Catalina, an old boat from Calif. that had been used as a floating restaurant before it went out of business and started sinking. Ensenada's Port Authority has told Calif. to get the boat out of there before it's broken up for scrap. When we were here in December there was a write-up about a group that wanted to raise money to rescue and preserve the boat. Well, in my unprofessional opinion, the group is at least 10 years too late to save it. The SS Catalina is already mostly sunk. In December, Ensenada had given the group 30 days to move the boat...7 months later and it's still here. Ah, yes, mañana! After our harbor tour we headed to shore. We walked in the opposite direction from where we were yesterday and came across a park having some sort of festival, complete with live music. We walked around a bit, but decided the area was too zoo-y for us, so we mosied our way back to Ruthie and returned to the boat at 1700. I made spaghetti with chorizo bits in the sauce for dinner and then we cooked up the chicken w/chorizo that I'd bought in La Paz. With luck, US Customs won't have a problem with cooked foods on board.
July 19, 2004: We donned our "port captain" clothes and headed to shore. Our first stop was to Immigration. Unfortunately Grumpy Gus (as we referred to him) was still in charge. He is, without a doubt, the nastiest official we've come across since we entered Mexico. He wanted to know why we had so many copies of our crew list. We weren't sure how many we'd need so Jim printed off 8 copies. Grumpy could just as easily have said "you have too many copies here" rather than "why do you have so many copies". Then he looked at our FM-3 Visas. We knew we might have a problem because when we were in Puerto Escondido we'd been told that we were supposed to have established residency in Mexico. Alvin had offered to go to the Loreto Port Captain with us to see if we could straighten things out, but we declined and said we'd take our chances. Anyway, Grumpy looked at our Visa and asked where we lived. We said San Diego, which obviously wasn't what he wanted to hear and then he ranted about how he had told us back in Dec. that we needed to establish residency within 30 days. We weren't about to tell him that he never told us that. Jim told him we were living in La Paz, afraid if we tried to establish residency in Ensenada, we'd be fined on the spot. Grumpy advised us that there is a per diem fine for not establishing residency. Oh great! Well, we'll head to the Embassy when we get to San Diego and see if we can't resolve this issue. From Immigration, we went to the Capitan del Puerto, then to the cashier to get an invoice that we brought to the banco. The wait wasn't too long. They were on #116 and we were #147. Thankfully there were empty chairs in which to sit and the bank was air-conditioned. We took the opportunity to change our excess pesos back into US $ (the buy exchange rate was 11.24 pesos per US dollar.) Then back to the cashier with the bank receipt, and to the Capitan del Puerto for our stamped exit papers and finally back to Immigration. Thankfully Grumpy must have been at lunch and we finished our paperwork with someone much more pleasant. So we were free to leave the country. Before returning to the dinghy, we stopped at a chandlery for a few bilge blankets and then had a coffee and cookie at a cafe. Jim also decided he wanted to buy some smoked tuna at the fish market. We had steak, zucchini and mashed potatoes for dinner. With luck, all the "forbidden" foods have been eaten. Jim set the alarm for 0500 before we climbed into bed. We read for a little while before turning the lights out. Then we heard this little "buzzzzzzzz" in our ears. We turned on the light looking for the mosquito. I'd kill one and we'd think we were set, turn off the light, only to hear another "buzzzz", turn the light back on, look for the little devil, kill another one, turn off the light...well, you get the picture. Finally at midnight we said "screw it" and turned off the light. I'm not really sure how we heard the "buzzzz" over the "BOOM boom ba BOOM" of the music at the park. Needless to say, we did not have a good night's sleep.
July 20, 2004: Zero dark thirty came way too soon. We cleared Ensenada harbor at 0530 and realized that our speed/distance log wasn't working. Jim tried to clean it but to no avail. Today's trip was the rolliest we'd had in a long time as the sea swells were coming at our forward beam and we had 15 kt. winds all day. On the good side of things, though, the weather was clear and we were able to see Tijuana, which had been socked in by fog the day we headed south. The VHF was non-stop verbal traffic from the Los Angeles and San Diego Coast Guard and the Navy war ships. As we approached the San Diego channel, several military helicopters flew over us. We kept expecting to be hailed by one of them. Motor and sail boats were all around us as we entered the channel and there was a sail boat race going on not too far off the US Customs dock. Talk about visual and sensory overload! AAAHHHHH!!! We hadn't had this much stimulation in months! We managed not to run over any little kids in the sail boats as we came up to the dock. Jim went ashore to inform the office that "we're back!" The Customs officers were away from the office for a while and Jim was instructed to return to and not get off the boat until they arrived. The officers arrived 45 minutes later. They were very professional and courteous; they took information off our passports, took a copy of our Mexican exit paperwork and did a very brief inspection of the boat. Their only question was had we had any boat work done in Mexico. We told them we'd had some bottom work done in La Paz; they checked off the "no" box. They never asked us about what foods we had on board and they never asked to see the cats' health inspection papers that we'd spent over $100 to get last November. We moved the boat into a slip at the police dock, very tired but glad to finally be in a slip. Unfortunately, and this was a huge unfortunately for us, the city decided that the police dock restrooms and showers needed to be remodeled and closed them YESTERDAY for 2 weeks. :( That's all we'd been dreaming of for the past several days -- a hot shower and clean sheets on the bed (we haven't had a shower since we left La Paz on July 1.) I phoned Colleen and cousin Tim from the phone booth at the top of the dock -- it was too late for me to talk to the east coast. After that, we opened a bottle of wine to celebrate the conclusion of Mañana's Great Adventure and had dinner. After watching a movie, we each popped a Tylenol PM and turned off the lights. No mosquitos, or if there were, we didn't hear them!
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