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Friday, December 30, 2011

12/29/2011 - Random Catch-up

OK, I know it's been a couple of days. Thought I'd better write something before Raoul starts hassling me again. So, here goes (in no particular order)...

We made a couple of trips to the supermercados to see if we could locate a few items. I needed some Polish sausage or kielbasa so I could make some gumbo. In La Paz I could find it at Chedraui but so far in Mazatlán both Mega and Soriana had struck out. Weird, too, since it's a Mexican brand and they carry other items of the brand. So, we set out to try the other Soriana as well as Ley and Wal-Mart. All of these require us to take the bus to new parts of town so it was something of an adventure. We struck out at the other Soriana on our first outing although we got enough stuff that our packs were chuck-a-block and we had no interest in schlepping them around to the other stores. With full packs, we hopped on the bus back to the marina. Well, the bus was almost as full as our packs. It was standing room only for most of the trip but still they stopped at every bus stop and more people piled on. Fortunately, by the time we reached the marina, the crowd had thinned down. I'm not sure how we would have gotten off earlier, stuck in the middle of the bus with a huge pack to manhandle through the crowd.

Yesterday we took the same bus but got off a wee bit earlier and hiked up to Wal-Mart where I was able to find my Polish sausage (SCORE!). Lulu has been on the prowl for bread flour, however, and has so far struck out. We crossed the thoroughfare and tried Ley's. The also had the sausage but again, no bread flour. At Soriana we had tried buying some bread flour (high gluten) directly from the in-store bakery. They thought we meant we wanted to buy some dough for pizza crust. They would have sold us that but they said they didn't have any bread flour. Well, although they do make bread down here, I guess making bread at home is not a common practice. Oh well, I did bring some down from the States in November but it will run out long before we return. So, the search goes on.

Yesterday, after we finished at Ley's, we got on a bus that we thought would take us back to the main drag along the malecón where we hoped to find a Similare farmacía (best prices). The bus took us downtown to Centro and then headed off towards the old harbor. Not quite what we expected. Suddenly, Lulu spots a Similare and we hopped off the bus. Great, we got a good price on a prescription but now we had no idea what bus to catch to take us home or where to catch the bus even if we did know which one. We studied what passes for a map and finally decided that all we had to do was hike a few blocks to the mercado and catch our regular bus. Partway there I noticed that what seemed like every bus from every different route went right by us on Avenida Juarez. So, rather than continue walking to the mercado we (I) decided to just stop on the corner and wait. And wait we did. I swear that EVERY bus except ours passed that corner. After 20 or 25 fruitless minutes decided to continue walking up to the mercado. As we neared it, sure enough, up ahead, we saw our bus. It really was one of the only ones that didn't come all the way up Juarez like the others. Once we got to the mercado we had to wait probably 20 minutes or so but our bus did eventually come by. Live and learn I guess (or I hope).

When we got back to the boat yesterday, I made some chicken and sausage gumbo.

It was just the thing for a chilly evening. And, I'm happy to say that we still have enough for dinner again tonight.

Speaking of chilly evenings, here's the latest weather report: It's been warmer during the daytime lately. Probably in the mid-70s. Might even reach 80 by Sunday. The evenings are a different matter, however. We routinely see lows in the high 40s or low 50s. However, that is definitely not a bad thing. Makes sleeping nice and cozy. Shorts and sandals during the day, comforters and quilts at night. What could be better?

On Wednesday we celebrated being at the marina for 1 week by going up to the palapa and watching the regular Wednesday night blues jam. Well, our 1 week anniversary wasn't really why we went. Actually it's because it's about the only night life that happens out here on La Isla so pretty much everyone here goes.

It's normally a pretty laid back place with a little jazz in the background, serving coffee and pastries, etc. But on Wednesday night it comes alive. Cruisers and hotel guests fill up all the tables. The kitchen cooks burgers and fries and BBQ ribs and buffalo wings and nachos. A liter of draft beer goes for $25 pesos (~$1.83 for a LITER!). The band is made up of cruisers and is pretty darn good.

The crowd is mostly a bunch of geezers but we still have our twirly girls and twirly girls in training.

The really nice thing about this little hoedown is that it starts about 5:00. Might even be 4:00 but I couldn't say for sure. So, by 8:00, it's all over. Everyone has had enough to drink and eat, listened to lots of music and, if the spirit moved, shook their booty plenty. The standard line is that 9:00 is the cruisers' midnight and that's not far off. For us, it means we can have a full night out and still get back to the boat with plenty of time to watch an episode each of Tales of the Gold Monkey and The Wire. And still get to bed well before 11:00. Life is good.

Today, we took the bus down to the mercado in Centro, the old part of town.

Our goal was to buy some fabric at one of the two fabric stores we'd spotted on an earlier foray. We realized that we were running very short on cloth napkins so Lulu wanted fabric to make some more. From the mercado we decided to walk along the malecón to Carlos and Lucia's where we planned to have Cuban sandwiches for lunch. That turned out to be quite a walk. We had covered 6.5 miles by the time we reached the restaurant. Sitting down and having a brew felt really good.

I've read a lot of detective-type books over the years that were set in the southern US states. Naturally, the ones set in Florida occasionally mention Cuban sandwiches. Always on the prowl for good eats, I've always wanted to try one on for size. I had one in Salem (OR) once but it was just a ham and cheese sandwich on something like pancetta that was then squished flat. Tasted OK but was it authentic? I assumed not. Our sandwiches today were shredded chicken in a mild red sauce, ham, melted cheese, lettuce, onion, tomato, peppers and something that tasted a lot like chilli-pickle.

It was served on the same kind of bread they use for tortas. With fries on the side. It was very good. I didn't take a photo because, it didn't really look all that different from any other big sandwich you'd get at any decent restaurant. Tasted mighty good, though.

In order to make sure we had enough room to eat gumbo later tonight, we walked the rest of the way back to the marina, a total trip of around 8.7 miles. So, all of you who are familiar with Mazatlán, there it is: we walked from Centro to La Isla Marina at Marina Mazatlán. Not too shabby, eh?

Hasta luego.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

12/27/2011 - Caldo de Res

The last couple days have been stay-on-the-boat days. Coming across the Sea, we took on a LOT of water over the sides of the boat and through every possible leaking place whether known to us or not. And, since the bilge pump has a float switch that kept getting fouled by the oil absorbent pads, etc., we had it in the OFF position and just turned it on every now and again to pump out the accumulation. Needless to say, the bilge got kind of full a couple times. This resulted in our having a dirty bilge again in spite of the fact that Lulu just cleaned it a couple weeks ago. So, we've been working on getting it all cleaned up again.
In the process of cleaning the bilge, Lulu spotted a couple of fresh water leaks which I fixed today. We also rerouted the watermaker output line from the fresh water pump feed line to the tank vent line, thus eliminating a possible source of air in the suction line on the foot pump. Tomorrow I'll replace our float switch bilge pump with one that senses water level without using a float switch.

Yesterday, we made a major score. An announcement on the VHF said that a boat on the hard at the Singlar boat yard had a sailing rig for a PortaBote to give away for free. I beat feet over there and snagged it. Not many PortaBotes here in Mazatlán so I probably could have tarried a bit. Anyway, I schlepped the rig back to the boat. New, this thing costs something like $849.00 although it seems you can occasionally get one on Craig's List for $200.00. But this one was free and in great shape. Now I just have to figure out where I'm going to stash the parts.

But none of this has anything to do with Caldo de Res, does it?

Inspired by Tate and Dani's posting about gumbo, I decided to make either gumbo or caldo de res today. A trip to the grocery store nearest to the marina, Santa Fe, made the decision for me. They didn't have any kind of sausage, smoked or otherwise but they did have some beef. So, caldo de res it is. I'll get the gumbo ingredients at one of the bigger stores when we next take the bus to town.

Anyway, here's the recipe for Caldo de Res, an extremely rich Mexican-flavored beef stew.
BTW, I find that I originally posted this recipe back in January of this year. But, you now what? It's just that damn good.

Caldo de Res (Mexican Beef Stew) (pressure cooker recipe)

3 lbs beef cut into 1"cubes (you can use boneless chuck roast, top round, cross rib or any cheap cut of beef you happen to find)
3 cans beef broth or enough bouillon to make 4 cups.
1 can peeled diced tomatoes
1 can pinto beans or black beans
1/3 cup worcestershire sauce
1 package taco seasoning mix
1/2 onion, medium, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/2" lengths
1 teaspoon cayenne or red pepper flakes
1/4 cup cilantro
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup red wine
salt and pepper
sour cream
salsa or hot sauce
2 avocados

- Add 1/3 of the beef broth to the pressure cooker (use meat rack). Add beef cubes, 1/3 of the taco seasoning, 2 tablespoons of the worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper to taste.
- Bring to operating pressure and then cook at pressure for 30 minutes. Depressurize and remove meat rack. Add remaining beef broth and worcestershire sauce, tomatoes, wine, onion, garlic, celery, carrots, remaining taco seasoning, cayenne or red pepper flakes, and cilantro.
- Bring back up t pressure and cook 2-3 minutes. Depressurize. Return to stove with lid on but w/o the weight. Simmer over low heat. If steady stream of steam begins to escape, remove lid, stir, and lower heat. Replace lid and continue to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans and simmer an additional 10 minutes.
- Serve topped with sliced avocado, sour cream and salsa/hot sauce. Accompany with warm tortillas.

So good....

Sunday, December 25, 2011

12/25/2011 -Feliz Navidad

We had a really nice Christmas Eve dinner last night at Carlos & Lucia's Restaurant. We got there a little after 6:00. There were already a big group sitting at one long table and a couple of other couples sitting at other tables. We chose ours and ordered drinks. We ordered micheladas made with Clamato and salsa piquante. However, our waitress (and Carlos & Lucia's daughter) Jaquelín told us that they refer to them as Cubanos, since the family is Cuban and all. Whatever you call them, they were delicious.

It's a fairly small restaurant. Very cozy. They even had a guy singing. He had a great voice and had the volume just right so that it was not intrusive on one's conversation.

Early on, Carlos and Martin (at least we think that's his name) brought the pig out to show it off. Vegetarians beware. You might want to skip this next photo. Carnivores, you might want to click on it to blow it up.

It's not a very good photo but it does show that they lay the pig out very flat and cut the skin in strips before cooking. This allows the juices from the skin to douse all the meat equally and also ensures that all the meat is about the same distance from the fire and therefore cooks nice and evenly. The foil is to keep the ears from burning.

The first course was a cream of vegetable soup. It was very, very good and, on this chilly night, it's warmth was well-received. Pardon the photo. I have trouble remembering to snap a photo before I dig in.

We had our choice of roast pork or roast turkey or a bit of each. We, of course, opted for a bit of each. We also had a choice of applesauce or candied yams and we both opted for the yams. This next photo was again taken after we'd already dug in. I tried to get Lulu to put some of her food on my plate just to, you know, sort of fill it out for the photo. I swore I'd return t right after I took the picture but for some reason she didn't seem to want to do that. Go figure.

Starting in the 12:00 position and moving clockwise:

Candied yams: These were not exactly mashed but were definitely chopped up fine after cooking. Then they were mixed with brown sugar and butter (I think). They were really good.
Roast pork: The meat was exceptionally tender and juicy. I made myself take small bites so it wouldn't be gone too fast.
Roast turkey: Again, very tender and juicy. There was a mix of white and dark meat and much of it was shredded like pulled pork and just as tender and succulent.
Rice and beans: Jaquelín had a special name for this Cuban version but I don't remember what it was.
Dressing: This was a really good dressing that was heavy on the bread cubes and celery. It turns out it was Lucia's recipe and she was very proud of it. It tasted great.
Steamed vegetables: Carrots and zucchini. The dish was very tasty in that there was liberal use of garlic. Yum!
Cranberry sauce: Just your standard canned sauce. Still good, though. It's the cranberry sauce we all grew up on.
Fried(?) Plantain: Okay, I'll admit, I don't really care if I ever eat another plantain. A bit too dry and winter-squashy bland for my taste, but I mixed mine with a little cranberry sauce and it tasted just fine.

Once the main course was over, we had a choice of a pumpkin cake that was made off-site or their own homemade flan. We chose the flan. There's not that much to say about flan. It was custardy and sweet and delicious.

The staff is primarily made up of family. Carlos and Lucia are the mom and dad, Jaquelín is their daughter and Roberto, their son, tended bar. Not sure how Martin fits in but he seems to fit in just fine so I suspect he's family as well. Sorry about this blurry photo. Sometimes digital cameras are just not to be trusted.

Left to right: a guest, Carlos, Jaquelín, Roberto, Lucia, Martin. And, although I didn't get their names, here's a shot of two of the behind the scenes heroes:

There was one more lady back in the kitchen but they were too busy to be able to get together and pose for a shot.

All in all, we had a really great time. The family made us feel so welcome and they were so appreciative that we chose their restaurant as the place to have our holiday meal. We will definitely be going back. For one thing, these folks are Cuban and they serve a Cuban sandwich. I've read about Cuban sandwiches for years in various books and now is my chance to have a genuine authentic version.

Today we slept in late, had a leisurely breakfast, Skyped the kids and our parents, and then went on about a 5 mile walk to check out some grocery stores. A fine Christmas as far as we're concerned. Hope yours was too.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


Those of you who receive this blog via e-mail, the Christmas Eve one
had the photos out of order. Please dump the e-mail copy you got and
get the latest, greatest at:



12/24/2011 - Christmas Eve & the day before

First, let me give you a little feel for what the marina we're in looks like. This isn't the marina itself, but the hotel grounds that are associated with the marina:

Yesterday, we finally left the marina and headed out for a walk. The marinas are way the hell and gone on the north end of town but we decided to see what, if anything, we could walk to. The trip didn't start out too promising as we walked by the fronts of hotels and a golf course. But, eventually, we started getting down toward the beach where there were still a lot of hotels but there were also restaurants and stores. Mostly it looked like lots of this:

We had walked about 3.8 miles when we decided to turn back. For those familiar with this end of Mazatlán, we walked almost to MacDonald's. We decided that we really deserved a bite to eat on the return trip and we'd noticed a couple of places advertising $10 peso tacos and 2 for 1 cervezas so we picked on of them to stop at.

Carlos & Lucia's turned out to be a great stop. We started with 3 tacos each (carne asada, pollo, pescado). Those went down so good that we decided to have a few more. Lulu had 2 pescado and 1 marlin and I had 2 marlin and 1 pescado. Hey, at $10 pesos each, we could afford to be pigs. And, truth be told, you don't really get all that much meat on a $10 peso taco on the tourist strip. But they were tasty. Carlos was a really affable guy. Came out and talked to us about the fish they use, etc. His daughter was equally friendly and they both spoke excellent English. While we were chillin', I noticed a sign

for a Christmas Eve dinner. They were serving your choice of turkey, piglet or both along with all the sides and homemade flan for dessert for $200 pesos ($14.65 US) each. That's not a huge steal but it's not bad. Having no other plans, we decided to partake. So we made reservations for 6:00-ish tonight. I'll let you know tomorrow how it was. BTW, we logged just under 8 miles walking yesterday.

Today, Christmas Eve, we decided to ride the bus down to the old section of town and just have ourselves a preliminary look. I suspect we'll spend a lot of time down there during our stay in Mazatlán.

We disembarked at the central market. Like the mercados in La Paz, this is a large roofed area containing booths selling produce, meats, cheeses, souvenirs, clothes, jewelry, etc. But this mercado is much larger than the two in La Paz.There are 2 different buses at work here. The "green" bus is air-conditioned and a little "nicer" and costs $9.50 pesos per person per trip (about 70¢). The other bus is not air-conditioned, is smaller, and is a bit more ragged but, at $6.50 (49¢), who's complaining? As luck would have it, the first bus to stop was a green bus. We climbed aboard and headed downtown.

This shot doesn't really do justice to how crowded it really was. You could spend hours in there just gawking at stuff if the crowds didn't bother you. Upstairs is the "food court" and, although we didn't try any of the offerings today, we will be back. Probably many times.

When we'd finally had enough of the market for now, we decided to just wander around town for awhile. The scenery was great.

Unfortunately, my camera's battery went dead before I was finished seeing stuff to take pictures of. Oh well, like I said, I suspect we'll spend a lot of time wandering around down in Viejo Mazatlán.

Now we're just cooling our jets while we wait to head back down to the hotel district for Christmas Eve dinner with Carlos and Lucia and who knows who all else?

Hope y'all have a very Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

12/22/2011 - Chillin' in the gringo end of town

Normally, we prefer to anchor out rather than tie up to the dock in a marina. It's cheaper and much more private. Plus, we're reasonably adept at anchoring so there's little stress, unlike when docking in a crowded marina. However, once in awhile, for one reason or another, you just have to bite the bullet and take the slip. We got so salt-encrusted on our way over from La Paz that the boat really needed a fresh water bath. We were sorely in need of showers ourselves.

We called our friend Mike (s/v Tortue) to see if there were any slips open where he was at, La Isla Mazatlán Marina. Turns out that by the next day there would probably be an opening and, sure enough, there was.

So, Tuesday night was our last night with this kind of sunset:

By 1100 Wednesday morning, we got confirmation that slip was available so we upped anchor and headed out. We rounded La Isla Crestón which guards the port side (going in) of the canal to the old harbor.

The lighthouse on top is El Faro, reported to be the second highest manned lighthouse in the world at 477'. There's a trail to the top and I guess you know we'll be hiking it.

Continuing on, we could have passed between these two rocks, Hermano del Norte and Hermano del Sur. There's maybe 1/4 mile between them which should be more than ample.

But I'm very cautious when it comes to tearing out the bottom of my boat so, even though the charts showed no obstructions, I opted to swing around them. Added maybe 15 minutes to the trip which, it turned out, mattered not one whit. Besides, they look a lot closer together from this angle:

Scenery like this stretched all along the way from the anchorage to the marina.

And, what the heck is that thing between those two Moorish-looking structures?

Must be M for Mazatlán.

Only one scary thing happened during the trip. There had been a tour boat sort of paralleling us along the beach for awhile. All of a sudden, he changes course and is headed directly for us. I'm watching, thinking, "this ain't right", but his relative bearing is not changing which means a collision is pretty much guaranteed. According to my reading of the rules of the road, he had the right-of-way since we were both motoring and he was approaching my starboard (green light) side. I slowed down but it didn't seem to matter. He was still headed right for us. I had nowhere to go to starboard as it got really shallow fast in that direction. I can't believe this. He's still headed right for us. I pulled out the air horn and let out a long loud blast, scaring the crap out of Lulu in the process. No matter, still he came but at least now I KNEW he knew we were there. And then, he turns to pass across our stern. The tourists waved and took pictures. I guess that's all he wanted but it would have been nice to maybe give me a heads-up on the radio before scaring the crap out of me. Then again, maybe that was part of the plan, too. Anyway, I was so shook I didn't even get a photo.

When we were almost ready to enter the channel that leads to the marinas, we got a call on the VHF from Patrick on s/v Deep Playa. He'd left the anchorage before us and I asked him to let me know if anything came up that we needed to know. He called to report that the dredge was working in the channel and it would be at least an hour before we'd be able to enter. We both chose to drop anchor in the lee of Isla Pájaros and wait. Another boat, s/v Serenity, chose to just mill around under power slowly while waiting.

While we were stopped, we had a parasailor fly over a couple of times. On this one, we could hear one of the passengers yelling, "MMMMMMOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMM!" Must have been having the time of her life.

Finally we got the word on the VHF that the channel would be open for a few minutes, long enough for the waiting boats to get in. We hoisted the anchor and headed in behind Deep Playa and Serenity. The rest is just details. The channel is narrow and narrower still when half of it is taken up by a dredge. Our slip was sort of hard to find but, with some marina employees giving us directions from the dock, we managed to find it. And, even better, we got docked without much, if any stress.

Wednesday night turns out to be Jam night at the little palapa at the top of the stairs. After showers, we headed over to listen to some blues, drink a few brews and eat some wings.

So, here's why we're in a marina:
1.) wash the boat and ourselves
2.) have a good safe place to leave the boat while we explore Mazatlán and possibly the surrounding area.

The plan is to spend 2 months in the marina, exploring the area, and then to move to the old harbor anchorage and spend a month or so exploring Old Mazatlán. By then it'll be getting nigh on to time to head back to La Paz.

Oh, and the thing about the "gringo end of town". Mazatlán is divided into 3 zones: Viejo (Old) Mazatlán, Zona Dorada (Golden Zone), and Nueva (New) Mazatlán. The Zona Dorada is where the marinas are located and caters to tourists, although obviously not all tourists are gringos. The anchorage, where we'll spend our third month, is located in Viejo Mazatlán.

Today we washed the boat and the engine room and started getting a beginning lay of the land.

Oh yeah, I must mention that no one commented on my reference to "palapas went screaming by" in my blog entry a day or so ago. Lulu caught it. Obviously I meant "pangas went sceaming by".

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

12/20/2011 - Our new BFF

I just have to tell you how happy we are with our new best friend. That would be our Cape Horn Varuna windvane. We bought this thing a long time ago when the Westsail Owners' Association managed to get a great rate on a group buy. Then, it sat in the box for close to a year before we were in a position to actually install it. I mounted the unit when we were in the yard in Newport back in 2009. The very few times I attempted to use it, I had problems. The steering oar is set up to break away if it hits an obstruction. Normally, when not in use, the oar rides upright out of the water as it's been on Siempre Sabado almost since day one. The problem was that when I'd try to lower the oar while we were tooling along at 4 or 5 knots, I'd always lose control and it would just drop down into the water. Well, going from a dead stop to hitting the water at 4-5 knots is apparently a lot like hitting an obstruction. The paddle would come loose and trail behind the boat by its safety line. The unit is mounted so low and is out away from the stern far enough that putting it back on while underway was way too difficult. I'd just fish it back on board and tie it to the upright mounting tube. When we'd get somewhere and stop, I'd reattach it only to have the same thing happen again the next time. Got to use it for a very short time once just out of Ensenada but I didn't know what I was doing and I had shortened the control lines too much. And then, the paddle came off.

Determined to get some use out of this expensive piece of equipment, I tightened the shock cords set-up that holds the oar to the mechanism. Then I re-read the installation instructions, bought some new line and re-rigged it correctly. This time out, I was determined to use it.

Our first full day underway between La Paz and Mazatlán, I got my chance to try it out. The weather was pretty calm with winds of about 5-7 knots and gently rolling seas. I slowed the boat down and then carefully lowered the oar into the water with a boat hook. Oops. First try was a bust since I had lowered it the wrong direction, causing the control lines to wrap around the horizontal tube. I carefully raised the oar again and lowered it on the correct side. So far, so good. I then aimed the vane so that it was dead into the wind, hooked the control lines to the tiller and disengaged the autopilot. Hey! It's actually steering the boat! It was yawing either side of the rhumb line a little more than I cared for so I tightened up the line that restricts the yaw a bit. Doesn't track quite as straight as the autopilot but it tracks pretty darn straight and doesn't use any electricity doing it.

That night and the next day, we found out just what a great piece of machinery it is. The seas were in a nasty mood. Not the kind of conditions that my Simrad TP-32 autopilot had signed up to work under. I've seen it before in these conditions: it gets really hard to keep on course and the pilot is always one step behind and finally just gives an alarm and essentially throws in the towel. Then it's hand-steering for us. Not so with the windvane. It just kept on steering no matter what was thrown at it. Light winds: no sweat; moderate wind: nothing to it; flat seas: easy-peasy; rough seas: so what? We didn't get to test it in heavy winds and really big seas (thank goodness) but I have no worries that it'll handle them just fine.

I didn't really appreciate what a tough job it had until I relieved it of duty as we approached our anchorage. I took over the helm and found that it was really hard to keep the boat on course. It took a lot of force to work that tiller against the prevailing conditions. The windvane had been making it look easy. Now I really wish I'd have gotten it together enough to have it to rely on when we were coming down the US coast. That first night out of Newport, when we had to hand-steer, would have been SO much easier.

Anyway, here's to our newest bestest friend.

note: In the photo, the control lines are still way too long. I wasn't about to cut them until I knew for sure how long to leave them. I did cut them and whip the ends during the trip over, however.

12/20/2011 - Taking it easy in Mazatlán

Man, was it nice to sleep through the night last night! I think we hit the rack about 10 PM. I slept until 6:30 this morning and Lulu made it to about 8:45. Completely missed the morning net. I could have listened but I was so engrossed in catching up on blogs that the 8:00 hour came and went without me even realizing it.

We are currently anchored at the Isla de Piedra anchorage. There's a beach to the north of us that is apparently primarily a tourist area. Lots of palapas screaming by pulling those big floating bananas with a bunch of screaming riders. A sightseeing helicopter just flew over. Lots of Sea-doos, too. But, we like it anyway. It's sunny and warm-ish although no warmer than La Paz was during the day.

We haven't even assembled the dinghy yet and probably won't unless we're here longer than we expect to be. Right now we're just enjoying sitting still and taking it easy. Our friend Mike from s/v Tortue is keeping an eye out for an open slip for us at Marina Mazatlán. One may come up tomorrow if the boat that's in it gets their new canvas in time to take off as scheduled. But, this being Mexico, that's pretty unlikely so we may be here a few more days. Fine with us. We have plenty of food and beer aboard, the composter is (well, was) empty and the watermaker runs just fine although we did fill our water tank before leaving the marina in La Paz. We have a good internet connection, the batteries are topped off, the solar panels are pumping out watts and we have generator gas on board just in case. What else could we need at the moment?

12/20/2011 - Position Reports

Check out: ShipTrak

This is the original link I gave you and corresponds with my HAM license. The other link I mentioned the other day ties to my Ship Station License. Apparently, when I was on Keith's boat and set his SSB up for Sailmail I used the WDE8358 number, probably because he only had a ship station license so wasn't allowed to use HAM frequencies. I set the program on my computer up using my HAM license since my first attempts at HF e-mail were via Winlink, which is on a HAM frequency.

You an also find us on YotReps.

Anyway, note that one of my reports put us out in the Pacific. Apparently, when typing in 109 degrees, it matters if you screw up and actually type 119 degrees. Picky, picky.

Monday, December 19, 2011

12/19/2011 - We made it!

We arrived in Mazatlán at 1600. We're not actually IN Mazatlán, rather, we're anchored in the Storm Island Anchorage behind Isla Cardones. It's still Mazatlán, just not inside Mazatlán harbor.

Here are the dry statistics:

Total nautical miles: 253
Total hours underway: 54
Average speed: 4.68 knots
Engine hours: 49.8
Hours spent sailing: 4.2
Hours spent motorsailing: 27.5

Current position: N23°10.93' W106°24.35'

Now for the ugly details:

As I've already written, yesterday started out just fine. Got my new best friend, the Cape Horn windvane working, and even got some pure sailing in for awhile. However, about mid-afternoon, the wind started to pick up a bit. I thought about reefing the main but felt it was still a little premature. I KNOW that you're supposed to reef as soon as you think about it! I KNOW THAT!!! But I didn't and I doubt that I'm the only one guilty of that. Anyway, the wind built a little more and I finally decided to rouse Lulu so we could put a reef in it.

For those not familiar with the terminology, "reefing" is cutting down on the size of the sail so that there's less of it for the wind to act on. It's not incredibly difficult but it does require a number of steps to be followed. The first step, and the most troubling to me is: turn the boat dead into the wind. You reef when the wind gets too strong for the amount of sail you're flying. So, turning into the wind at this point is going to make the apparent wind across the deck really scream. Plus, turning into the wind usually also means turning into the seas. So, now you have the wind screaming at you head on, plus your crashing into head seas with the bow alternately rising way up in the air and then crashing back down into the water. And someone (me) has to be at the front of the mast for the procedure. Add to all this mess, you have to lower the main partway, tie in a reef, and then raise it back up. All while Lulu is trying desperately to keep the boat pointed into the wind. The same wind and seas that try to make the boat turn one way or the other away from the wind. Meanwhile, having neglected to roll up the jib before we tried this, it's flogging itself to death behind me as I face the front of the mast. And then, it gets caught in all the wires and gets backwinded which allows the wind to push us off the "dead into the wind" position. Aye-yi-yi. Meanwhile the wind is screaming through your ears, the boat is alternately climbing to the heavens and then plunging into the abyss, and your mouth is as dry as dust.

Didn't take too long for me to throw in the towel and holler, "Let's just take the damn thing down!" Took even less time for Lulu to agree. So, down came the main. We rolled up the jib, set the engine rpms to 2000 and turned back the way we were going. The downside, besides having to admit defeat, is that we now don't have a steadying sail set. As it turns out, I'm not sure it would have mattered, but still.

The wind didn't turn out to be the worst part. No, the worst part was the sea state. First the swells were only 2-3 feet but they were quite close together and hitting us on the port quarter, making for a very bumpy ride. As the night wore on the seas built to at least 5-6 feet and still too close together. How bumpy and uncomfortable was it? Glad you asked. Imagine you're trying to get dressed and 3 or 4 huge bullies keep shoving you around. You never know which one's going to shove next so you can't really brace for it. And they're merciless. Just because you happen to have your foul weather pants about halfway up and you need both hands to complete the task doesn't mean they'll stop shoving until you're done. No, they just keep shoving you. And it doesn't stop once you're dressed. No, they shove you relentlessly ALL THE FREAKIN' TIME!!! The only thing you can do is plop yourself down on a cushion (they'll shove you mid-plop) and hang on. This at least gives the shoves a little less traction. But the shoves still keep coming. Everything you do is a major chore. And, to top it off, trying to do stuff during the shoving promotes nausea. Are you beginning to see why I said that this part of the trip was no fun?

Lulu, trooper that she is, still managed to heat up food and coffee water, and make sandwiches and generally keep us fed. Mostly she kept me fed as she usually didn't feel good enough to eat anything. And, even though she felt like crap, she still stood all her watches.

And speaking of watches, during last night' watches, one of the bullies' friends joined them and, whenever you least expected it, would throw a bucket of salt water at you.

Yeah, we didn't enjoy the ride starting from about 3 PM yesterday until we stopped at 4 PM today. Oh, this morning when the sun was shining down and the windvane was doing such a good job and I got the staysail flying to steady the boat and add a little speed, then it was almost enjoyable, IF THESE FREAKIN' BULLIES WOULD JUST QUIT IT!!!

So there you have it. May have been our worst passage ever, except for our first day out of Newport, OR. Might have been worse ones, but if there were, we've blocked them. But, we made it. We're in Mazatlán and ready to get started exploring new territory. We may move to a marina for a little while as everything needs to be washed down.

Okay, enough of my whining.

12/19/2011 - This isn't that much fun!

This is just a quickie to send a position report and to let y'all know we're fine. The seas have been miserable since yesterday afternoon. It was a long, wet night. Details later. It's 10:30 local time and we're about 25 miles from Mazatlan. Current ETA is about 4:30 this afternoon. More when we get there.

Hasta luego.

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

12/18/2011 - Day 2 begins1

It's just a little after 10 AM. We've been on this trip for 24 hours. We've covered approximately 111 miles in that time. Up until about 45 minutes ago, it's been a motor-sailing trip. But we finally got some winds that were blowing enough to move us along at a decent speed. We're on a broad reach with winds of 5-7 knots on our port quarter and averaging a little under 4 knots of boat speed. Probably could do better if I knew how to sail. Ahhhh, details.

Big victory today. I finally got the Cape Horn windvane steering system up and running. Just in time, too, since the conditions are the kind that the autopilot doesn't like very much (wind and swells on the quarter that cause the boat to corkscrew). The windvane is doing a great job. Yaws a bit more than I'm used to with the autopilot, but, overall, we're on course. It does way better than I do when I'm hand-steering.

Swells are 1-2 feet out of the north-northwest and coming about every 5-6 seconds.

After I relieved Lulu on watch at about 0730, she fixed me breakfast and then hit the rack. Between the Stugeron, the rocking motion of the boat and the fact that the only sound is the hissing of the seas gong by the hull, she's hopefully sleeping pretty good.

We're out here in the middle of it now. No land in sight anywhere. We saw a couple of contacts on the AIS screen during the night but no one came near enough to actually see. Well, there was one passenger ferry that passed us but that was pretty early on. A cargo ship crossed in front of us a little while ago but even he was over 7 miles away. Pretty empty out here.

OK, time to upload this and send a position report as well. 132 nautical miles to go.


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12/17/2011 - On our way

We got underway from the marina precisely at 10 AM. It's now 7:45 PM. No wind all day but the seas are nice and flat so it seems a fair trade-off. So far we've averaged about 4.5 knots with the mainsail hoisted and the engine running. We've passed Cerralvo Island so there should be no more course changes until we arrive at Mazatlán. Not much to do on watch except read, fill in the log every hour and look around occasionally. We're doing 3-hour watches and I'm taking the first one: 2000-2300. Lulu's been trying Stugeron for seasick prevention. It seems to be keeping any queasiness at bay but she's been sleeping all day because that's one of the side effects. She gets slammed by side effects and I seem to just skate by unscathed. Go figure.

Anyway, we're on our way. I'll post this later but I wanted to write something now since I want to include a position report anyway.


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Friday, December 16, 2011

12/16/2011 - Itchin' to go

After looking at several weather sites this morning, I decided that tomorrow is the day to leave La Paz. It's supposed to start out quite calm tomorrow and that's fine as I don't mind motoring out of the bay if that's what I have to do to get a calm trip through the San Lorenzo Channel. By tomorrow evening the winds should pick up some and then continue to build through Sunday and Monday. But that's okay as that's what will push us down to Mazatlán. And, by starting out when it's calm, we should avoid most of the big seas as they won't have had any time to build up yet. By the time the winds and seas hit their projected peak (Monday night), we should either be there or be damn close.

We don't plan an early morning departure. As long as we're past the northern tip of Cerralvo Island before dark, I'll be happy. Not planning any stops, just a straight push to Mazatlán. If we average 4 knots and leave at 10 AM, we'll arrive at 10 PM on Monday. Rather not do that, as we don't like getting places, especially new places, in the dark. If we average 4.5 knots, we'd arrive at 4 PM Monday. Much better. If we luck out and average 5 knots, we'd make it by 10 AM on Monday. Amazing how much difference 1/2 knot can make. If we really drag tail and only average 3.5 knots, we'd arrive at 7 AM on Tuesday, which is still better than 10 PM the night before. So, wish us luck and a fast passage (4.5 to 5 knots, por favor).

Okay, the next dispatch will probably via SSB radio and Sailmail. I'll update our position along the way. If you want to follow our progress check out ShipTrak.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

12/15/2011 - Bottom cleaning

We're still getting ready to head to Mazatlán. Yesterday we pulled the dinghy out of the water so we could clean her up and stow her. You'd never know that Lulu did a major bottom cleaning on the dinghy less than 2 months ago.

The barnacle build-up was epic.

We scraped and scraped and then Lulu attacked what was left with a scrubber. Finally, the bottom was as clean as it was going to get and the dink was folded up for the first time in 8 months.

Now she's all stowed away and ready for the trip across the Sea.

In spite of some pretty darn good anti-fouling bottom paint, Siempre Sabado was also experiencing a pretty good growth of barnacles and sea slime. This time, however, we opted for the easy way out. We called Clark from Paradise Found Dive Services and let him do the dirty work. I tried to do a link to his Facebook page but, as is usually the case when I attempt anything Facebook, I failed. But, if you know how to handle Facebook, he said that he's at Facebook/Clark Waters or, you can email him at paradisefoundservices@gmail.com. Anyway, he spent an hour or better scraping and scrubbing.

He also checked the prop zinc and the Frigoboat keel cooler zincs and declared them all OK. He said that, except for the waterline where the bottom paint has come off, the rest of the bottom paint looks good to go for another year or so. Maybe longer if we'd clean it more often. Since the bottom was so crusty, he had to charge me extra but still it was $38 (US) well spent.

And speaking of cleaning, I would NOT want the job of cleaning this panga:

Anyway, little by little we're getting ready to go. Lulu did a shopping trip today for some odds and ends. We'll make a couple more beer runs and then top off the water tank on either Saturday or Sunday and then head out to anchor and wait for our window.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

12/14/2011 - Christmastime in La Paz

Just looking around, it's pretty hard to believe that Christmas is only 11 days away. I took a walk around town yesterday to get a few photos of what Christmas looks like down here. There are a few minor decorations in some of the store windows and you see an occasional Christmas tree.

We saw some trees for sale at City Club that were from very near our old stomping grounds. Weird to look at a tag on a tree in La Paz and see it's from Sublimity, Oregon. Anyway, Christmas just doesn't seem to be as big a deal here as in the States. Of course, part of why it might seem that way is that we don't have a TV so we don't know if they experience the same bombardment of Christmas commercials here as we did up north.

Now, I don't want to give the impression that Christmas down here is a completely un-commercialized affair. It definitely isn't.

This Coca-Cola tree is a backdrop for an upcoming concert on the malecón which is apparently sponsored by Coke. But that's not the half of it. Starting last week sometime, the vendor booths moved in downtown.

For a good 2-3 weeks, part of the streets downtown are blocked off from vehicle traffic and are lined with plywood and blue tarp booths selling what can only be described as pure junk. Cheap toys and clothes and lots of them. Oh, a few of the booths are just extensions of the stores behind them and they're selling whatever they sell in the store and a few are selling handicrafts. But mostly they're selling Barbie dolls and cheap guitars and stretch pants made to look like really tight jeans. On the plus side, there are more food vendors downtown during this time than there usually are. You can even get corn dogs (be still my heart).

There were some ladies selling fund-raising stuff on the zócalo:

And there was a band:

As you can see, the band is made up of people of all ages so I'm not sure whether it's a club, a class, or what. Can you guess what song they're playing in this photo? Look at their fingering closely. Got it? If you said "Obla-Dee-Obla-Dah", you're right! Good job.

So what are our plans for Christmas? We don't have any and it feels great. If nothing else comes up, we'll probably go out for dinner somewhere. After all, we should be in Mazatlán by then and we'll have a whole new city of eateries to explore.

BTW, you may have noticed that I've made a point of including the written accent in Mazatlán in recent blogs. That's to reinforce to me (and to you too) that it's NOT pronounced MAH-zot-lon but rather mah-zot-LON. I've been pronouncing it wrong for so long that I'm having a tough time adjusting and I need these constant reminders.