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Sunday, May 29, 2011

5/29/2011 - Porthole screens

Since we're planning to spend our summer further north in the Sea of Cortez, we've been advised by many seasoned cruisers that we need adequate bug screens. Besides mosquitoes and bobos, we need to be able to keep bees and jejenes (no-see-ums) out of our living spaces. Lulu made a nice screen for our forward hatch and also included a screen in the wind scoop she made. She's currently working on the design for a screen for our companionway. We've been stymied, however, by trying to come up with a way to screen our round portholes.

We've tossed around a lot of ideas and even tried a couple. The simplest seemed to be to just use long cable ties to attach screen to the outside of the ports. Problem was, there's only a very small lip to attach to and it's hard to get the screens on, especially on the ports that have the PortVisors on them. And, the end product looked ugly as all get-out.

Some round ports are made for screens and have a little groove around the inside that a screen attached to a sort of wire snap-ring fits into. However, we don't have those grooves. I thought that the best remedy was to come up with something similar but flat, instead of round like a wire. Something that could be made smaller to fit into the opening and then would expand, holding the screen material in place. Sure, great idea, but what the heck can I use to do it?

I thought I'd hit on the perfect solution when we bought a mini-blind that we could cannibalize for the slats. Seemed like the slats would have just the right amount of spring to do the job. They didn't. The problem with them was that they were so thin that, when I tried to form one into a circle, it wouldn't stay circular but rather would bend into a misshapen triangle.

I toyed with the idea of having some sort of flat snap ring made out of metal, maybe stainless steel. Of course, I'd have to come up with a clear drawing of what I wanted but that shouldn't be too hard, should it? This looked like the most promising idea yet.

Then, one night it came to me. I got up and measured the inside diameter of the ports: 6" and 4". What if I got some 6" and 4" plastic pipe? The outside diameter of the pipe would be a little larger than 6" and 4" so. if I cut it, removed a little chunk and then pressed the ends together, it should fit inside the port and, when released, it's springiness should make it expand out to fit snugly. Yes?

Yesterday, I got 2 short pieces of 6" and 4" plastic sewer pipe and proceeded to saw rings 3/4"-1" in width.

Then, I cut through the edge of the ring but, instead of removing a chunk, I instead heated the pipe and bent the ends down, forming ears that could be pinched together to reduce the size of the ring for insertion or removal.

Lulu sanded the edges so they wouldn't snag the plastic screen.

Attached the screen using double-sided tape and then trimmed it to fit.

Squeezed the tabs together and tried her on for size:

Obviously the screen in these photos is not fine enough to keep jejenes out. But we didn't want to have super-fine screen in all the time as it severely restricts airflow. So, the plan is, when we reach no-see-um country, we'll simply lay a piece of the super-fine mesh screen over the existing screen and snap the ring back in place without taping the screen to the ring. That way it' still very removable.

Ahhh... One less thing to lie awake at night trying to figure out.

Cost of 2 pieces of pipe: 40 pesos (about $3.20)
Cost of screen: free at a boater's swap meet
Cost of tape: ?? we already had some on hand but will have to buy more.

And the beauty is, I still have enough pipe left to make at least another dozen frames for both sizes of portholes.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

2/24/2011 - Salsa Tatemala

This is a recipe for Salsa Tatemala as taught to us at last month's BayFest here in La Paz. The instructor was a young Mexican woman who either cooks at a local eatery or owns a local eatery, I wasn't quite clear on which. The word "tatemala" is not in my Spanish-English dictionary. One of the cruisers in attendance suggested that it translated as "fire-roasted". Could be. This is the basic salsa that you find served everywhere.

Salsa Tatemala

Basic ingredients are:
Chiles (poblano, California (Anaheim), serrano, jalapeño)
"Condiments" (mixture of salt, pepper, and garlic salt)

Roast the chiles. Blacken them all over.

Roast the tomatoes, too.
Peel the chiles and the tomatoes.

Remove the seeds from the large chiles (Poblanos, Californias, etc.)

About quantities: It's all very loose. In this batch I used 5 Poblanos and 5 tomatoes and about 1/4 of a white onion and 1 clove of garlic. Next time I'll probably use 3 Poblanos, 2 or 3 large serranos, 5 tomatoes, 1/4 onion and a clove of garlic.

Using a blender, food processor or, ideally, a molcajete (mortar & pestle made from volcanic rock), blend everything together. Taste. Add "condiments" to taste. If necessary (it probably won't be), add a little water.

That's it. Refrigerate and serve with totopos (tortilla chips). Lately, because there are so many teensy little broken pieces of chips too small to dip with at the bottom of the bag, we've taken to using tostada shells instead and just breaking them into dipping size as we eat them. Much less waste.

¡Buen provecho!

5/24/2011 - Find us

There are a couple of sites where you can track our progress, or lack thereof. Here are two that I know about:




They both get their info from the same source, namely, me. That would explain why they both show the same mistake. The dot that shows us in our most northerly position, out in the middle of the Sea is bogus. I must have been careless in my position reporting that day and, unfortunately I haven't yet found a way to erase bogus positions.

In another week or so we should be able to start updating our positions again as we plan to leave La Paz on June 2nd.

Monday, May 23, 2011

5/23/2011 - When life hands you limóns...

...make limonada.

Our friends Dave & Marj on s/v Kievit returned to the States to visit their daughter last week. Before they left, they gave us any of their fresh produce that they were afraid would spoil while they were gone. One of the things we got were a whole bag full of limóns. These are the little limes (or are they lemons?) that are usually served with a bottle of Corona. We already had a bunch on board and, having recently started to prefer our cerveza au naturál, we sort of wondered what we were going to do with all these little guys. And then it came to me: limonada. All the restaurants around here serve it. You can get it made with either agua naturál or agua minerál (carbonated). Seemed like an obvious use of this bounty. So, armed with a knife and our trusty little squeezer, I got to work.

I got enough juice out of Kievit's limónes to make about 2 liters of limonada. Once it was cold, I sampled it and I'm sold. It is SO good and SO refreshing. We've decided that we're going to be sure to take plenty of limónes with us when we head back north again just so we can make limonada.

But how, you might ask, will limónes keep over the long haul? Well, we learned a little trick that works really well. I'm told it works for any citrus fruit and I believe it. Wrap the individual fruits in aluminum foil.

In this photo, the green limónes are ones we bought today. The yellow ones were wrapped in foil for the past 4 weeks. They were green when the were first wrapped. However, the color change didn't hurt their juice yield or quality at all. I used our foil-wrapped stash as well as some new ones we bought today to make another pint of concentrated jugo de limón which is just waiting to be diluted and sweetened (a little).

Speaking of jugo de limón, you've never seen so many flavored mayonnaises as they carry in the stores down here. We were getting some mayo yesterday and I noticed that most of them, including Best Foods and Hellman's had a version with "jugo de limón". You could find plain mayo but you had to look hard for it. On the other hand, if you wanted mayo flavored with chipotles, habaneros, etc, no hay problema. I also noticed that Act II microwave popcorn came in more flavors than I'd ever seen it in back in the USA. Flavors like habanero, limón, jamaica, tamarind, etc. Crazy, huh?

Since we've been back in La Paz we've only eaten out twice. We had burgers with Kievet at Bufalito Grill and then Lulu and I had fish tacos at our favorite place up by the Modatela store yesterday. We've mostly been eating onboard. Yesterday we managed to find some sausages that WEREN'T made of turkey. Have I mentioned that all the freakin' hot dogs in the stores here are made of pavo (turkey)? You can have your choice of about eleventeen different brands and every one is de pavo. Drives a fan of Nathan's hot dogs absolutely CRAZY! But yesterday we found some sausages at the store that were actually made of pork. Of course, they were from the USA. Go figure. Anyway, dinner that night consisted of grilled sausages, marinated cucumbers (pepinos) and chiles, and fire-roasted peppers, saurkraut and dippin' mustard. Lulu declared the meal a wee bit too sour overall for her but I loved it.

Tonight's dinner was more normal: BBQ'd chicken and potato salad. I'm happy to find out that I can still BBQ chicken even on my little bitty boat BBQ. BTW: Mexican charcoal is charcoal, not charcoal briquettes. Chunks of wood that've been burned to charcoal (however they do that - in an oxygen-depleted environment I think).

We're getting a few boat chores done and we're really anxious to get out of here and back up into the under-populated islands and villages further north. But don't feel too sorry for us. We're still managing to eat good.

Friday, May 20, 2011

5/20/2011 - Cargo

I don't really like carrying stuff on deck. It cuts into the walking around room and is one more thing to fret about when things get rough. But, if you're going to cruise on a 28' boat, chances are some stuff will end up topsides. Things like extra diesel jerry jugs, extra anchors and associated rodes, the dingy, etc. Are big and can be lashed down pretty effectively. But what about the smaller stuff? The little one-gallon gas cans for the generator and dinghy, extra lines, extra fenders, kickboards, life jackets for the dinghy, etc, etc? On the trip down the coast all this stuff was lashed to the top of the sea hood (turtle) and alongside it as well, basically the area between the mast and the dodger. It was all lashed down with a spider's web of knots and actually made the trip quite nicely. But getting things in and out was always a puzzle. As soon as the load changed a bit, the knots had to be re-done in some new and creative way. There had to be a better solution.

One day while sitting outside trying to get my lily-white thighs closer to the color of the rest of my legs, it came to me: a cargo net! We used cargo nets made of nylon webbing a lot in the Navy for just this purpose. Well, we also used them as big bags to transfer loads from one ship to another but we probably won't be rigging any highlines for something like that. What I needed was a cargo net that I could drape over the deck cargo and then just have to lash one end down.

I had some nylon line I'd bought a few years ago for new halyards, sheets, etc. It's called Sta-Set X or something like that and is godawful strong. However, it's also godawful stiff and I hate it. But I'm not about to throw usable line away so I needed to find other uses for it. So far it had mostly just been taking up space in the lazarette. Oh, I did make two boarding ladders out of the stuff but I still had a lot of it, mostly in relatively short pieces. I figured that I could knot these together in such a way as to make a large-weave net about 3' wide by 6' long. This would be just right for covering the deck cargo.

I tied a cross piece to the boom gallows supports and tied a bunch of 21' long pieces, doubled, over this cross piece. Then, in good old macrame-er fashion, I started tying square knots. It was an unholy mess while I was doing it but, in the end it seemed to come out all right.

The port side is lashed to the handrail and the starboard side is held down by a trucker-style bungee cord. Most access is done via the starboard side although I can squeeze the lifejackets and kickboards in under the forward opening. The Sta-Set X doesn't hold knots very well which is why some of the square knots are somewhat misshapen. But, I'm going to shape them right and then lash them with some tarred marline so they behave. I also still have some whipping to do to the ends on the port side. I was going to do this before I put the net to use but, while trying it on for size, it worked so well that it's just been sitting there since. I'll get to these finishing touches but, like so many things, that's not likely to happen until mañana.

BTW: that white line at the top righthand side of the photo that looks like it's just standing straight out on its own? It's the bitter end of a piece of 3/16" cord that is holding the front corner of the cockpit shade to the shroud. The breeze is keeping it aloft like that.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

5/19/2011 - All caught up

OK. I've updated all the entries that I plan to with photos. So now everything is all out of order. Sorry about that. But, from here on out we should be back on track. Now, to figure out how want to handle this next time....

5/10/2011 - An Ordeal or an Adventure?

It was windy all morning at Timbabbiche and we'd about decided to just stay put for another day or two. But, at about 1300, the wind died down and we figured, what the heck, might as well make at least a few miles. So, we got everything ready and headed out about 1400. What wind there was was located close enough to our nose that we would have been close-hauled all the way. Maybe we should have gone ahead and sailed but then who knows where we might've been when things went to pot.

Our plan was to sail to Ensenada Las Ballenas, about 14 nautical miles away. But, the waves, wind and current must have been fighting us because we were only making about 3.5 knots over ground. At that rate we wouldn't arrive at Las Ballenas until 1830 or maybe later. So, we decided to just go to our original destination of Punta San Telmo, a mere 3.5 miles away.

We were tooling along, minding our own business when the engine suddenly got louder. Not a lot louder, but definitely louder. My first though was that the exhaust leak was back in a big way. Lulu hopped down below and opened the engine compartment and the smoke rolled out. Yeah, we had our exhaust leak back alright. No worries, though, we'll just continue on and deal with it when we're someplace that we can. Then she noticed that the bilge pump was running. Not continuously, but a lot. I climbed down and opened the engine room door to have a look. Oh yeah! The joint between the exhaust manifold and the mixing elbow had blown out and there was smoke and saltwater spewing everywhere. Well, crappage! Not much we could do about it then so we decided to just press on. As long as the bilge pump kept up, the worst that would happen was that we'd make a huge mess in the engine room. But we were almost there, so.....

The engine speed faltered a couple times and I started to worry a bit. Decided we were better off shutting the engine down and sailing in so we could start it up when we needed it for anchoring. Rolled out the jib and shut the engine off. This worked for a little while but, as we neared the anchorage, the wind died down and we had to start the engine back up. At first it balked like the battery was weak but on the next try it fired up after a lot more extensive cranking than normal.

We pulled in to Punta San Telmo and dropped the hook in 18' of water. Let out about 100' of chain, backed down on the anchor to set it and secured the engine. There was exhaust smoke coming out of every orifice on the boat. There was smoke coming out of the hawsehole to the anchor locker fer crimineesakes! First thing was to open every hatch and porthole and get this baby aired out. Next I climbed into the engine compartment to turn off the raw water valve which was a trick since the visibility and, more importantly, the "breathability" in there was about zero. But we managed to get it all done.

Punta San Telmo proved to be a bad choice as an anchorage. There were (and still are) swells coming in from the NW causing it to be very rolly.

We sat in the cockpit and theorized what might have happened and what needed to be done to fix it. Finally decided that theorizing was stupid. I needed to climb down inside and find out what happened. Blown gasket? Broken fitting? Loose clamp? No way to know without looking so we cleared things out of the way, loosened the clamps that hold the engine compartment cockpit access closed, and opened her up. The engine compartment was a greasy, sooty, wet mess. I climbed down and confirmed my worst suspicion: the lip on the opening of the mixing elbow had rotted off so the clamp no longer had anything to clamp to.

We had come up with a lot of ideas about what to do if the gasket was blown but not what to do about this. I climbed back down to remove the clamp and the broken-off lip. While I was doing that, every so often we'd get a wisp of smoke from under the heat exchanger. Lulu and I both told ourselves that it was just steam from water hitting some hot engine part. But it didn't look like steam. It looked like smoke. And the engine wasn't particularly hot anymore. Then, while I was messing around trying to find the cause of the "steam", I got a spark from under the heat exchanger. WTF? A little more briggling around and another spark or two. Obviously a wire was shorting to ground under there.

There was a wiring harness running under the heat exchanger so I started to disconnect the wires at one end. Then I decided that the wire needed to be replaced anyway so I just cut the wires. They're all color-coded so it would be easy to get the right ones reconnected. Now it became a job that had to be done right now. With the exhaust leak the engine could at least still run. With all the wires cut, no way. So, after a bunch of struggling, I managed to pull the piece of the wiring harness out. Holy crap! I can't believe the engine even started. On a section about 3" long, all the insulation had been melted. A whole bunch of bare copper wires were exposed. No telling what was shorted to what.

Fortunately I have wire and terminals on board so I replaced the burned section with fresh wires that I ran over, instead of under, the engine. Shouldn't get too hot hanging up in the air like that.

Now, what to do about the exhaust leak? I didn't know. I'll figure it out tomorrow. So, figuring we were finished for tonight, I got cleaned up. You should have seen the washcloth! While I was cleaning up, it suddenly hit me: J.B.Weld. Of course! I'd just JB Weld the broken off lip back onto the mixing elbow and hope for the best. Since you're supposed to let the stuff cure overnight before using it, I figured I'd better get it started tonight, which I did.

The rest of the evening was (is) pretty standard except for the heavy rolling. We talked to David on s/v Aztec who are anchored at Bahia Los Gatos, about a mile and a half south of us, and they said it was calm as could be. Fine! And us unable to move. Oh well.

So, here's the plan: Tomorrow we'll check out the JB Weld repair and add more epoxy if needed. If no extra epoxy is needed, we might motor back down to Los Gatos just to see how the repair is holding up. Then, if everything is looking good, we'll leave Thursday morning. We checked the map to see whether La Paz or Loreto was closer. Loreto, easily. So we're going to go up to Puerto Escondido as fast as we can, sailing as much as we can. We'll tie up to a mooring ball there and see if we can find a good welder or fabricator in Loreto. If not, we'll bus it back down to La Paz to get the part fixed. If all that fails, guess we can have a new mixing elbow shipped down from the States. But, knowing how proud Westerbeke is of their parts, I'd just as soon have the old part repaired or a new one made.

So there you have it. That was our day. Like I've said, it's not all fish tacos and cervezas. But, like Bob Bitchin from Lattitudes & Attitudes magazine says, "The difference between an ordeal and an adventure is attitude." A-Men, brother.

5/12/2011 - Yesterday

Can't really say we "woke up" yesterday morning as I don't think either one of us actually slept much. San Telmo is the worst excuse for an anchorage we have ever experienced! Now, as you know if you've been reading this blog, we have had some very uncomfortable nights at anchor. But, mostly we just grin and bear it. If the anchor's holding good, we just go on about our business. But San Telmo was a whole other beast. There were these big swells coming in from the NNW that would cause the boat to roll a lot. But then, after every 5th or 6th swell, there would come a couple of REALLY big swells that would shake us like we were inside a dice tumbler. Lulu was up time and again to secure something new that had come crashing down. We have 8 of those divided boxes that you keep small stuff in and every shake made those things rattle like crazy. We heard noises we've never heard before. And the worst part was that this continued even when there was no wind. And with no wind to keep us pointed into the waves, we just pitched up and down fore and aft, we ended up sideways to the swells so we rolled side-to-side sickeningly. It was a major chore just to hold one's position in bed.

So, we got up ready to move on. Lulu insisted on a little normalcy so we had coffee and breakfast (although all I ate were a couple of cookies), then I dove into the engine compartment to see how my JB Weld fix had held. Well, it hadn't held at all. Either the mating surfaces weren't clean enough or I got the mix slightly wrong or something because as soon as I started to tighten the clamp, the "welded on" piece just started separating from its base. I pulled it back off and found that I could just peel the JB Weld off and it was sort of plastic-y rather the hard and metal-like as it should be. Well there was no way we were spending another night anchored here so we needed an alternative plan.

Our first 2 alternatives were both basically the same except for location: Tie the dinghy alongside the mother ship and, with it's outboard running, use it to "tow" the boat to either the northernmost end of San Telmo which looked like it might be better than where we were, or south about 1.5 nm to Puerto Los Gatos which is supposed to be better protection. Then I can clean up the pieces with a Dremel tool and acetone and try again, being very careful with my mix this time.

The first step was to mount the outboard on the dinghy. I gassed it up while it was still hanging on our stern rail as I knew it would be too hard once it was on the REALLY bouncy dinghy (little did I know just how hard it would prove to be). We decided I should motor over to the north end of San Telmo to see if it was less rolly there. I did and it was. Still rather be at Los Gatos but 1.5 nm might be more than this little lash-up could take. Back at Siempre Sabado, I tied the rudder amidships and Lulu got in the dinghy and started the outboard. It seemed to be moving us so I started hauling in anchor chain. Once the anchor was secured, I manned the tiller while Lulu manned the throttle on the outboard. We tried to get over to the north anchorage but the swells exerted too much power to allow us to turn left. So we went with the flow and turned right until we were headed in the right direction. Trouble was, we couldn't keep going in the right direction so we had to turn around again. This was going to be a very slow way to reach our destination. After our second full circle, the outboard started to falter. And then it ran out of gas. (note: turns out it didn't run out of gas. I think it either sucked air in the gas line due to the bouncing, or it just quit running out of pure self-defense). I traded places with Lulu and tried to gas it up but there was absolutely NO WAY I was going to be able to do that. It was like we were on a trampoline but less predictable. If I tried to add gas to the dinghy either the gas can or I was going to end up in the drink. And it wasn't going to be me. So I climbed back aboard and we decided we'd have to sail out.

Unrolled the jib (path of least resistance) and started heading out of the bay. It was going well so I released the dinghy from alongside and tied it up in its towed position. Once that was done, we turned into the wind and raised the main. The wind was from the north so we could have turned south and gone into Puerto Los Gatos but I wasn't sure I could enter and leave that reef-strewn port safely under sail, especially since I knew there were at least 2 other boats anchored there, so we decided to just go for it and head north as planned.We were trucking along at a nice clip, close-hauled, headed for Puerto Escondido. Trouble was, with the wind coming from where it was (kinda NNE), we were actually headed east with maybe just a little bit of south as well. No problem, we'd make it up when we tacked. We were flying along at about 5 knots and really enjoying the ride. It was nice to be out of San Telmo and moving along again. But, finally it was time to tack. Put the helm over, release the jib sheet and start hauling in the other jib sheet. But, we couldn't get the bow through the wind and ended up "in irons". Had to fall off, gain some speed and try again. And again we failed. Not sure what the problem was. One problem is that the clew of the jib sheet gets caught on the staysail stay going across and slows that movement down but I think there was something else going on as well. Well, knowing that this was not the only way to shift headings, we chose to jibe instead of tack. (For you non-sailors: tacking is when you move the bow of the boat across the wind and jibing is when you do this with the stern. Por ejemplo: You're walking along with the wind hitting your left cheekbone. If you turn to the left so the wind crosses your nose and hits your right cheekbone, you've tacked. If, OTOH, you turn to the right and make an almost full circle until the wind is hitting your right cheekbone, you've jibed.). So, we pulled off a flawless jibe and started heading more or less WNW. By the time we were ready to tack again, we were just about back where we started at San Telmo. Didn't make much headway that time. So we tried to tack again and failed again. Another jibe and we were headed east again. This time we managed to keep the boat pointed just a little bit above east so that we were gaining something at least towards our goal of going north.

During all this, we got a couple of radio calls. Neil & Lisa on Gypsy motored past us and called to say that it looked like we were doing a dance out there. Neil had some suggestions for fixing our exhaust involving rescue tape and Coke cans. I had thought about the Coke cans (and even had a couple of beer cans already cut into flat pieces of aluminum) but I had been planning on trying to insert them inside the orifices somehow. Hadn't thought about Rescue tape until the middle of the night but I wasn't really sure that it could stand the heat. I'd rejected the idea when I thought about it because of the thinness of the aluminum cans (Mexican beer cans are made of super-thin aluminum, a step or two above foil) and because I didn't have hardly any lip (maybe 3/16") on the broken off end to attach anything to. Anyway, I told Neil I'd keep the idea in mind. David called from Aztec and I told him our plan to sail to Puerto Escondido. He said that there was a boat yard right there so we might not even have to go into Loreto to get the part fixed. He said that Carolyn suggested we might want to go to La Paz since we could get things fixed there for sure and that was the way the wind was blowing. I said that I figured we could make up the 40 mile difference between the two destinations even with the north winds and then, at least we wouldn't have lost any ground. He also said that if we could get to Agua Verde by nightfall and get anchored, he'd meet us there and tow us into Puerto Escondido if we like. I thanked him for the offer and said I'd let him know.

Meanwhile, we're sort of headed north-ish and are at least further north than last night's anchorage, but not by much. At this rate it was going to take a looooooooooooong time to get to Puerto Escondido. So we discussed the pros and cons and decided that the smartest move was just to turn tail and ride this north wind back to La Paz as Carolyn had suggested. So we turned around, poled out the jib, let the main out on the other side with a preventer, and headed south wing-and-wing. Radioed Gypsy to let them know but didn't get through. Radioed Aztec and they said it sounded like the best plan to them.

I'm kind of guessing here but I'm going to say it was probably about 10:00 AM when we started south. Things went really well for awhile but eventually we had to roll up the jib because we couldn't keep it full of wind so we continued on under mainsail alone. The autopilot even managed to steer w/o too much grief. The day proceeded lazily. Wasn't much wind in the afternoon, maybe 4.5 to 5 knots and we were moving along at 3.5 - 4 knots. We were hoping that when we entered the San Jose Channel we'd get the benefit of the funnel effect and the wind would accelerate. Our plan was to get to San Evaristo and spend the night.By late afternoon, the wind really started to drop until, just north of the San Jose Channel, it dropped off to pretty much nothing. By this time I had the jib back up as it seemed wrong to not have as much canvas as possible when the wind was so light. We were making 1-1.5 knots and the sails would fill and spill, fill and spill, fill and spill, ad nauseum. San Evaristo, or anywhere else for that matter, was not looking good for tonight. I started worrying about being in the channel in the dark with no way to drive the boat. There are some nasty-looking rocky cliffs on the west side of the north end of the channel that I didn't really want to meet in the daytime, much less the dark. They dropped off so steeply that I don't think even an anchor would save your butt. With all this in mind, I started re-running repair ideas in my head. After all, the engine runs, it just spews exhaust everywhere (EVERYWHERE!) and sprays seawater all over the engine compartment keeping the bilge pump busy and corroding everything it touches. Finally, I decided to try Neil's suggestion. I had to do something (oh, how I miss my italics when using Airmail) while we still had some light.

I had Lulu empty a couple of cans for me. I rolled up a corned beef hash can and managed to hose clamp it to the little nub of metal sticking out of the mixing elbow. Then, I wrapped the joint liberally with Rescue tape. The other end was quite a bit bigger than the nub and there was no way to stretch the hash can without dislodging it from the elbow. So, I wrapped it with a Mandarin orange can enough to insert it inside the exhaust manifold. Had to just attach it with Rescue tape since I didn't have a big enough hose clamp for the job (or at least I didn't know where it was if I did have one), which is why I inserted it inside rather than around the outside of the flange. Next I had to come up with a way to attach the two cans. The mandarin orange can would fit inside the hash can but there was a huge gap around them. I snipped the hash can about 3/4 of an inch long every 3/4 of an inch or so around its circumference. So now, one end looked like it had real wide fringe. Then I stuck this around the orange can and cinched it down with a hose clamp. The snips allowed the ends to overlap and make the can smaller. Once done, I wrapped everything liberally with Rescue tape. I used a whole roll of the stuff. I had no faith whatsoever that this lash-up would last past the engine warm-up time, much less for any serious motoring but I had to try.

Fired up the engine and watched the repair. No visible leaks. So far, so good. Let it run a bit and decided to go for it, albeit carefully. Rolled up the jib, brought the mainsail amidships and put the Westerbeke in gear. We decided to keep the revs down to 2000 RPMs. I don't know what effect higher RPMs would have had on the exhaust but it just seemed prudent to keep everything mellow. The closest anchorage was Mangle Solo on Isla San Jose and so, that's where we headed. I must have checked the gauges and exhaust flow every 5 minutes to be sure things were going OK.

As we approached Mangle Solo, we tried to reconcile what we were seeing with what the guidebook showed us. As we got nearer we could see that the north anchorage was basically no protection from anything other than an east wind. We started towards the southern anchorage which looked in the book to be a little better. However, we could see Punta San Evaristo from where we were and we knew that was a good protected anchorage. But should we risk it? Feel pretty stupid if we ended up halfway across and the repair blew up after being so close to an anchorage, albeit, not a great one. Lulu's suggestion was that we should open the engine compartment and take a look at the repair (I'd been scared to do this, afraid of what I might find) and, if it looked good, proceed to San Evaristo. Good idea. So we held our breath and opened up the hatch in the cockpit sole. The repair looked great. No sign of breakdown or leaks. Unbelievable! So we adjusted course for San Evaristo. Once I had the route in the GPS, it gave me the bad news that it's be another 2 hours before we reached SE at the speed we were going. But, unwilling to risk jeopardizing the repair by speeding up, we continued on. I continued to check gauges and occasionally open up the engine room hatch and take a look at the repair. Lulu continued to keep all her fingers and toes crossed.

It was dark well before we reached our destination. Fortunately we had at least some light as we had 1/2 moon. And, the GPS gave us our track based on previously used waypoints. But still, it was dark and it wasn't until we were practically abreast of the opening that we were able to see other anchor lights. Trouble is, we know that not everyone uses anchor lights. We had a brief moment of panic when it was discovered that Lulu's headset had a dead battery. Changing the battery requires digging out a jeweler's screwdriver. There was no way we were going to try to anchor in the dark with a bunch of other, possibly unlit boats around without the benefit of the headsets. So I turned around and did a few circles outside the entrance while Lulu installed a new battery. Once that was done, we headed in.

Lulu was at the helm and I was on the bow armed with my mega-bright spotlight. She was nervous because she basically couldn't see anything except some lights. Our one advantage was that we'd been here before so we had a lay of the land. But it sure looked different in the dark and there sure seemed to be a lot of boats anchored. But, we found a nice clear spot in 14' of water, dropped the hook, backed down on it to set it and shut the engine down. Once we had everything straightened up, we both realized how tired we were. And not just weary but muscle-tired. I think it was partly from how hard we had to work to maintain our positions in bed the night before, coupled with the stress of the day along with a liberal dose of hand-steering when the wind dropped too low for the autopilot to be able to do an efficient job. By now it was 10:15 PM. We had dinner (lobster salad) and I sent an e-mail to Gypsy to let them know our status. Then, even though we were getting sleepy, we decided to watch an episode of "Sons of Anarchy" and have a couple beers to truly wind down. Well, we made it through the show but only through one beer and then crashed. It was so still here that it was like being tied up at a marina. Slept like babies.

Since moderate north winds are predicted to continue for the next several days at least (no definite end in sight), we don't feel like we need to rush right back out. Today, we're going to straighten up the boat, check and beef up my repair job, stow the dink and outboard, do a little laundry, maybe buy some more beer, take showers and generally take it easy. Tomorrow we'll get up and get going. The winds are predicted to drop off in the late afternoon and evening so we'll have to see how far we can make it each day. Having the engine available will make things much easier.

Probably won't blog again today since I expect and hope today will be uninteresting. So don't look for anything until late tomorrow when I'll write about our trip from San Evaristo to who knows where.

OH! I almost forgot the a couple of way cool moments of the day. We were tooling along close-hauled when some dolphins came up to play a little bit. They didn't stay long but it was cool while they were there. Then, Lulu went below for something so I have no witnesses to this next item. I'm sailing along when, off to starboard I see (are you ready?) a freakin' shark jump completely out of the water. There was no chance this was anything but a shark. It was in perfect profile so the longer upper caudal fin, the distinctive dorsal fin and the pointed snout all cried "SHARK". He came completely out of the water and then back in. Never did it again. I didn't know sharks did that. The only jumping I'd ever seen was that obviously Photoshopped photo of the great white jumping up to catch the USCG rescue swimmer in the helicopter. No idea what made him jump unless the dolphins we saw were harassing him. I've heard they enjoy harassing sharks. It was so cool.Next cool moment was later in the afternoon. I went forward for something and Lulu was in the cockpit. I saw something go by the boat just under the surface. I looked closer and then all I could do was point and yell to Lulu, "Turtle! Turtle!" Fortunately she was able to get a look at it. Don't know what kind it was (Ridley? Leatherback? Who knows?) but it was a definitely a fairly large green sea turtle and right alongside the boat. Very cool.

5/8/2011 - Timbabiche, Day 1

I was sitting in the cockpit after breakfast this morning, finishing my second cup of coffee and reading H. Rider Haggard's "Child of Storm", when I noticed a panga approaching fairly fast. Since they buzz by us all the time, I didn't think much about it. But then I noticed that he was headed right for us and slowing down. Oh good. I hope this is one of the fishermen we hear about who come around selling langousta (spiny lobster).He approached the boat. We exchanged greetings. Then he backed the panga up and cut the motor. Didn't offer anything, just made small talk. Didn't look like there was much in his boat other than a mess of nets. Finally I asked him if he had any fish. he said he had just one and also three lobsters. Did I want a fish? I told him I was more interested in the lobsters. He directed me to get a bucket which I did. From out of a heavy net bag he pulled three nice looking spiny lobster, still alive and kicking.

We weighed the langousta and agreed on a price. Next he asked if I wanted the fish. I thought he said that they would be a gift but I'm not sure I heard right. Before I could answer he asked if I had any "baterias pequenas" for his light (these guys stay out all night sometimes). I asked how many he needed and he said "four". I said "for the fish?" and he said "Si, si." So I had Lulu pull out 8 AA batteries. I told him that 4 were for the fish and 4 were a gift (un regalo). He was very pleased. He handed me up a good-size fish that he called a "pargo prieto" which my fish book identifies as a Pacific Dog Snapper. However, it looked more like the picture of the Halfmoon, a type of perch. he assured me that it was really good eating.

I spent the next hour relearning how to clean and filet a fish. Didn't do too bad, considering. Stuck the filets in the reefer for tomorrow because tonight we're feasting on langousta.

After all that we took a dinghy ride to the beach. It was quite a ways but the water was very calm so we rowed. I rowed over and Lulu rowed back. We hiked about 1/2 mile to see the remains of Casa Grande.

There is a tiny little village built around it, including a new-looking school. No stores or anything, just houses and the school.

When we got back to the dinghy, we spent a little time swimming to cool off before rowing back out to the boat.

We both took cockpit showers and then I started trying to make a cargo net out of some line that's been getting in my way for a long time and Lulu read her book. As evening approached, I fired up some charcoal and Lulu made her famous vegetable noodles to go with the lobster. I grilled all three tails and we had them with melted butter and fresh-squeezed lime juice. Yeah, this is what we've been waiting for. A fine way to spend mother's day.

Happy Mothers' Day to all you mothers out there.

PS: This is the first anchorage either of us can ever remember in which NOBODY new came in during the day. El Tiburon left early this morning so it was just us, Sea Change, and Tequila Mockingbird all day.

5/6/2011 - Last Day in San Evaristo (probably)

Last night, I decided to spotlight the fish off the side of the boat again. Didn't see any of the anemone-looking things but saw a buttload of fish. The first time I turned the spotlight on, it was almost scary. There were literally thousands of fish (okay, maybe only hundreds) hanging around the boat. The light scared them away immediately but they came back in 10-15 minutes. I tried getting a shot with the flash but it didn't come out. So I tried taking one at the moment the spotlight came on and I managed to get one that sort of shows how many fish I'm talking about.

(okay, it's not a great picture....)

This morning it was very quiet and calm here in San Evaristo. I fired up the watermaker about 7:00 AM and ran it for 4 hours (about 24 gallons). Didn't do the battery bank any favors since I didn't give them a chance to recover from last night before I started draining them again. Oh well, we'll probably be motoring to our next stop tomorrow so the engine-driven alternator can help the solar panels out.

While Lulu was doing some laundry, I rowed over to the palapa to see about getting some more beer for the road. I explained (en espanol, naturalamente) that we were leaving tomorrow and wanted to buy some more beer. I told her that I assumed she needed to keep some beer on hand for the people who live here but asked if she could sell me 6 8-packs (2 cases). She said it wouldn't be a problem. I also asked if there was a place I could dispose of my garbage. She directed me to the "dump" which is just a flat area where, when there's enough stuff, someone puts a match to it and burns it all up.

After I got back to the boat Lulu and I loaded up a little more garbage and some snacks and water and shoes/socks in a backpack and headed back ashore. Once our feet were dry, we donned the shoes and socks and walked back to the dump. From there we followed the dirt road behind some houses, in front of others, past the primary school, and up over the hill to the salt drying beds on the other side. It's a little oasis over there with actual shade trees. Looks like there are maybe 3 or 4 households.

And lots of donkeys.

On our way back to the dinghy we stopped at the tienda for a few supplies (salsa, tostada shells, avocadoes, snd eggs). Then we thought we'd stop at the palapa for a cold ballena of cerveza. Unfortunately, she didn't have any cold cerveza. Crappage! Not exactly sure what the power situation is here. The little desalination plant has a generator that runs when they're making water. Haven't really heard any other generators, although I might not hear small ones, and haven't seen any solar panels except at the school. However, I do see electric lights ashore at night. Not many, but some.

Lulu decided to make beans and rice for dinner tonight. While she was doing that she realized we'd forgotten to get a couple items at the tienda. So I rowed back over. Of course, I forgot my shoes. The only down side of that was that the sand was HOT. My feet are getting tougher, though.

Tomorrow the plan is to head out late morning for Mangle Solo on Isla San Jose. The big attraction is the Cardon cactus forest. That and it's only 7 nautical miles away.

5/18/2011 - Updating postings with pictures

Don't get confused. We're still in La Paz. But I'm updating previous posts by adding photos now that we're back in LP. Just editing them in Blogspot is way too clunky so I'm re-doing them in Blogger which treats them as a whole new post. So, you'll start seeing recent posts that'll seem somewhat familiar but this time with pictures. As I go along, I'll delete the originals to keep the confusion somewhat at bay, I hope.

Life goes on in La Paz. Not much to write about so it's good that I have this little project to keep y'all getting "new" stuff.

5/4/2011 - San Evaristo

All ready to crawl into bed last night. Brushed my teeth and got my sleeping shorts on. I had been nodding off reading for the last half hour. I was so looking forward to dropping off to the land of nod. But wait! What's this? The freakin' bed is wet! WTF! Apparently our bouncy ride over yesterday had allowed the seawater to find any chinks in our armor and apparently there were some. Still not sure whether the water came under the caprails and through the hull/deck joint, around failed bedding compound on the stanchions, through the cracked hawsepipes, or maybe down through one or more of the missing deck bungs. Or maybe all of the above. All of these places need attention and we know it. Now I guess we'll actually have to start working on them. Anyway, back to bedtime. Lulu, trooper that she is, stripped off all the wet bedding and re-made the bed with dry stuff. Once I got sleepy again, I slept like a baby but Lulu, who can worry the crap out of any problem, got almost no sleep as she lay awake wondering where the leak was coming from and what we were going to do about it.

This morning, she pulled all the bedding, mattresses, etc. and sent them topside to air out and dry out. This was after she got up and went out to clean all the salt and dirt off the boat so she'd have places to hang stuff to dry. I did, however, reward her with grits and eggs for breakfast. Then, we decided we needed a trip to "town". I pulled the outboard off the dinghy as I am starting to prefer rowing when the conditions are right. We radioed Doug and Jody that we were heading in and shoved off. Our mission was to go to the tienda to see what they had and hopefully get some beer. We also needed to off-load a bunch of aluminum cans and hopefully find somewhere to dump our garbage.

Doug and Jody joined us and we walked up to the tienda which, if you didn't know that's what it was, you'd assume was just another house. They were amazingly well-stocked. Much more than we expected. Lots of canned stuff as well as two different kinds of coffee beans, some produce, and eggs. We bought some orange juice, a cabbage, some salsa, some tostada shells, and a pepper. Although they had eggs, you needed something to carry them in and I'd neglected to pack our egg cartons, so we'd need to go back later. What they didn't have was beer. We walked down the beach to a little palapa that had a Modelo sign out front. Some kayakers told us that they sold beer there. When I walked up, la madre was sitting at a table with her kids doing some sort of project. I asked her (en espanol) if she sold beer "to go" (para llevar). She said she did and went down to the other palapa and dug me out an 8-pack from the ice chest. Then I asked if she served food. She said not right now since she had no fish. But, maybe later, around 6 or 7:00, if she got some fish she'd be cooking and serving food. We decided that we'd give it a try later.

Back to the boat. After doing a couple things, Lulu decided she needed another excursion so she took her pack and headed back ashore to get another pepper (we mislaid the first one somewhere), a couple dozen eggs and another couple of 8-packs of cerveza. Meanwhile I stayed aboard and ran the laundry through the wringer and then hung it all up to dry. When Lulu got back, she made some cookies for Doug, pizza dough for tonight (in case our palapa lady didn't get any fish), and a batch of coleslaw (mostly for me).

Had a pleasant rest of the day and then rowed over the El Gitano to join Doug and Jody for a couple of sundowners and some snacks. Somewhere along the line we dropped the idea of the palapa and, looking through the binoculars I don't see anything happening there anyway. Now that we're back at the boat Lulu is making pizza (salami, mushroom and black olive) and we're getting ready to hunker in for the night. Tomorrow we'll start doing something about the leaks. I also need to do some work on the tiller (it's wobbly and the autopilot pin keeps wanting to come out). But we'll also have some fun. We're thinking about a hike over to the salt flats on the other side of the point. Maybe tomorrow night our palapa lady will have gotten some fish and we can eat out. The weather has been superb. Almost no wind and the night is very still and calm. Maybe tonight Lulu will be able to sleep.And we still need to find out where we can dump our garbage.

4/30/2011 - Hiking on Isla San Francisco

The coromuels did finally blow last night but not until quite late. And, even then, they didn't blow as hard as they had the night before at Ensenada Grande, 20 miles closer to La Paz. And, although we did get some rolliness at anchor, it was pretty darn mild. Certainly nothing to keep us from staying here for another day or two. Or, as it turns out, three. Seems that the on-again-off-again norther is on again. Supposed to hit the southern Sea tomorrow and blow through Monday and then lay down altogether on Tuesday. Well, this is as good a place as any to ride a norther out. Even if the wind comes right over the low-lying land north of us, the seas have absolutely no time to build. So, here we'll sit.

Today we dinghied ashore to hike around on the island a bit.

There's a very cool looking trail that leads up from the beach to the top of the hills overlooking the bay. We decided to forego the hassle of the outboard and just row ashore. Lulu rowed over and I rowed back. The trail takes off from the beach and, when you get to the base of the hill, looks like it goes straight up a long ways. Turned out to be a matter or perspective. There's nothing to base scale on so the hill looks like it's much higher than it actually is. However, the ridgeline trail, which really did run right along the hogsback ridge, was pretty dramatic. Once side dropped down to a beautiful turquoise bay while the other side dropped straight down over gnarly rocky cliffs to the Sea of Cortez.

We hiked as much as the terrain would allow, taking in rocky precipices, salt flats and gravelly beaches.

Finally it was time to return to the boat. Lulu swam back and I rowed. Then we each had cockpit showers.There are only 4 boats at anchor right now (4:00 PM), all sailboats. Lulu just finished making me another batch of coleslaw as well as a pasta salad with salmon for dinner tonight.BTW, since I started waiting until 10:00 PM or so to post these blogs as well as send/retrieve e-mail, I found out 2 things. One, when I transmit on the 8 MHz band, the signal doesn't turn my GPS on like it did on the 10 MHz band. And, two, transmitting on the 8 MHz band at that time of night has given me much faster transfer rates than before. I've actually seen rates as high as 3200 bits/second! Caramba!

Addendum: Late this afternoon, I caught our first Siempre Sabado fish. It was a Green Jack (I think), about 14" long or so. There were a bunch of fish hanging around the boat so I decided to wet a line. First I tried my little ultralight spinning rod. Various lures didn't wotk so I tried corn (no good), noodles (couldn't get them to stay on the hook), and then some leftover cooked skipjack from a couple nights ago on another boat. Bingo! Grabbed that meat and started running and then snapped that 4 lb test line like it was, well, 4 lb. test. I switched to our only actual large rod and reel, the one we got from Gary on s/v Megalodon. The bait hadn't been in the water more than 15 second when BLAM! it was hit and the fish was off and running. Gave a pretty good fight but wasn't really a sporting match against that rod and reel. We boated him and cleaned him and cut him up for bait. I now have a container of salted Jack in the fridge to use to catch others tomorrow. Judging from the way they hit the pieces we threw over after cleaning, we shouldn't have too much trouble. One of our fishing books lists the "edibility" of green jack as "fair". Well, we're new enough to this whole fishing thing that I suspect it'll taste really good to us.

It's 10:00 PM and the norther has been blowing for a couple hours. No one around to drag on us and no one around for us to drag on. And, we're not moving according to the GPS, so dragging isn't really an issue. No build-up of seas yet and I don't really expect much since there's not that much room between us and the shore for anything to build up very much.

4/26/2011 - Still at Ensenada Grande

(note: this is being written on Wednesday morning but it's mostly about yesterday)

The coromuel winds that we usually start to get about 10:00 PM or so were nowhere to be seen by the time we went to bed. We were wondering if, maybe, they weren't going to hit for some reason. My understanding of how they work is that the heavy cooler air from the Pacific is drawn across a low spot on the Baja peninsula near La Paz by the space left as the warm air in the Sea rises. The effects are supposed to diminish the further from La Paz one gets but they're known to blow as far north as San Evaristo at the northern end of Bahia de La Paz. All this to say, "I wonder where the coromuels are?"

Guess what? About 0200 they finally kicked in. They blew pretty hard through the wee hours of the morning. But then, instead of laying down about 8 or 9 o'clock, they continued to blow. I had great intentions to install the new filter module on our fresh water supply but this wind was definitely going to postpone that. The project requires me to empty both cupboards under the sink and have at least one of the floorboards open. That means that Lulu is pretty much banished from the cabin for what could be most of the day. Not only did I not want to be doing plumbing with my head stuck in a cupboard when the boat was tossing around, but I also couldn't put Lulu outside in the cool wind all day. She volunteered to spend the day in the V-berth but I know that would get old quickly. So, instead, we decided to just kick back. We needed to run the watermaker so we at least did that, but mostly we sat and read all morning.This was the first time I'd run the watermaker without either being connected to shore power or having the Honda generator running. But, one of the reasons we paid the big bucks for a Spectra watermaker is because of its energy-efficiency. As far as I know, it's the only one that can make 1 gallon of finish water using only 1 amp of power. So, since it's a 6 gph unit, we should be able to make 6 gallons per hour on only 6 amps. I planned to run it for 3 hours for a total usage of 18 amps. That seemed well within our battery bank's capabilities so it was time to give it a try. We actually had to run it about 3/4 of an hour longer because we had to flush the pickling agent out before we started making water and had to make an extra 3 gallons to flush it with afterwards. I'm happy to say that, while the unit was running, we were still gaining on the batteries via the solar cells. That is, we were making more juice than we were using. YES! The only time we went negative for a few minutes was whenever the fridge kicked on.

While I was making water, I noticed one of the huge heads of cabbage that we'd bought and suggested to Lulu that we should make some of it into cole slaw. And not just any cole slaw, Corky's Cole Slaw (google it). She decided to jump up and start right then and, as long as she was up, might as well make a loaf of bread, too. Yeah, man, that's my wife.

By the time we were both done with our projects, the wind had finally laid down and it was starting to get hot. Lulu decided she needed a swim and I needed to row the dinghy around a bit. I stopped by s/v Dream Catcher (Berkeley, CA) and talked with Jeffery awhile. He pointed out that he'd seen a bunch of turtles swimming around and was surprised that we hadn't seen any yet. Of course, as soon as he pointed them out I started to see them but they were never close enough to get a really good look at.

After our excursions, we were hanging around the cockpit when Candy from m/v Katie B (Huntington Beach, CA) kayaked over and chatted a bit. Then she invited us over for sundowners. We gladly accepted. After the Katie B crew had a chance to get cleaned up from their afternoon swims and kayaking, we rowed the short distance over. They insisted that we not bring any beer or anything to drink as they were headed back to La Paz and had tons of stuff left from their trip. The one thing they didn't have were totopos (tortilla chips) which we were able to supply to go with the tuna ceviche they made from the fish they'd caught that morning.We had a great time visiting and ultimately were invited for dinner. Same deal: they had all this tuna that, if it didn't get eaten was going to go to waste. We couldn't have that! So we rowed back over to our boat to grab the cole slaw as our contribution. Excellent eats: mesquite-grilled tuna, beans and rice, cole slaw, tortillas, etc. Eventually the wind started to pipe up and it seemed like a good time to go home. We had a great time shooting the breeze with our neighbors. Oh, and a bonus: while we were chatting, we were discussing the pros and cons of life on a small boat. I mentioned that one of the downsides of having such a small boat was packing our garbage. We had a bag of garbage that had to live in our cockpit until we got somewhere with a dumpster. Well, they said, "Bring it over, we're headed back to La Paz and have plenty of room." How cool is that?

4/23/2011 - Still Anchored Bahia San Gabriel

Sure enough, we had a very rockin' and rollin' night. Well, just rockin' actually as the wind kept us perfectly perpendicular to the waves so there was no rollin' involved. Lulu says that the first night at Bahia Falsa was worse but I think we're just getting our sea legs back and getting used to it. I'm looking forward to anchoring where we just sit still all night, though. The anchor held us in place like were welded to the bottom but there were still things that kept getting me up during the night. We've got the dinghy raised and hanging alongside on the jib halyard. Then it's tied for and aft with the painter and a stern line. For some reason, the stern line kept loosening up and I had to invent newer and more interesting knots to tie it down with. Ultimately I hit on something that seemed to work. Hopefully it'll pay off tonight.

Last night, while we watched an episode of Heroes and an episode of Glee and then sleeping, we were doing the laundry. That's right, we were multi-tasking. Before sitting down for our evening's entertainment, Lulu put our dirty clothes in a 5-gallon bucket along with 3 gallons of fresh water and a half a cup of ammonia. This is a formula that cruisers Greg & Jill Delesynski swear by. They say that you don't even need to rinse the clothes. We'll see. Anyway, we put the lid on the bucket and set it on the aft deck and then let the coromuel-inspired wave action act as our agitator. This morning, we pulled the clothes out of the dirty water and ran them through the wringer that the staff at Silver Crest School got Lulu as a going away present. Then they got hung up on the lifelines to dry in the Mexican sun. Well, they all came out clean and fresh-smelling. Who knew? Thanks, Greg & Jill.

After laundry, we launched the dinghy and went ashore for a little hike. As close as we thought we were to the beach, we are a LONG way out. Further than I want to row, at least until my blisters heal. By the time we were still 100 yards or so from the beach, it was already too shallow for the outboard. So, we got out and pulled the dinghy in while we walked alongside. This would be no problem whatsoever except for one little thing. My outboard, although it runs like a fine watch, leaks gas whenever it's tipped from the perfectly vertical position. Unless I wanted to drag the prop through the sandy bottom, I HAD to tip it a little. I finally settled on tipping it as little as possible and then holding a rag to catch any leakage. Once ashore I needed a different plan. Ultimately we ended up standing the motor on end on its skeg and then using various pieces of line to hold it upright in that position. Amazingly, it worked but this is an issue which has suddenly moved to the top of the to-do list.

There is supposed to be a trail that goes from the beach at Bahia San Gabriel, across the island to Playa Bonanza on the other side. Hiking this trail was our mission. Once we got ashore and learned to watch where we step lest we get stuck with another puffer fish spine (no longer venemous, thankfully), we put on shoes and socks for the first time in months. The sandy, scrubby trail was just no place for sandals.

The sign at the head of the trail said that it was 5.3 miles long and took about 4 hours. We had no intention of being gone 8 hours but figured we could do better than 5.3 miles in 4 hours anyway, so off we went. Well, the "trail" petered out pretty quickly but it wasn't too hard to figure out where to go: just stay between the hills and head towards the dip.

The area we were walking on was obviously underwater some time in the past. The ground was littered with old seashells and pieces of coral. LOTS of seashells and pieces of coral. In one place, the ground was completely covered with old clam shells. Must have been millions of them at least.

Later, the predominantly clam shells became predominantly oyster shells. Clearly, this bay extended a lot further inland than it does now. Other than the shells, there were a lot of scrubby-looking plants and a few cactuses. Some of the cacti were even sporting blooms.

After about 45 minutes of walking, we both started to get worried about the dinghy. It was just sitting there on the beach with the outboard tied upright inside it. There weren't too many people around to bother it but, if we lost it, it would be a very long swim, especially for me, back to the boat. We decided to head back without seeing Playa Bonanza.

The colors as we approached the beach were spectacular. We're not sure if we'll ever get used to the beautiful white-turquoise-aqua-blue color transition that happens between the sandy beach and the deep water. It is so pretty. I always figured that there were various filters photographers used to get the effect, but it's real.

Lulu, nut-case that she is, decided to swim all then way back to the boat. Made me nervous as hell and I hung around in the dinghy until she was safely aboard, but she made it all the way. What a gal!

Back at the boat, we decided we both needed showers really badly. We screened off the cockpit, hoisted the solar shower, stripped down and got clean. The water in the solar shower was almost too hot. Any warmer would have been uncomfortable. The shower felt so good and it really feels good to be clean again. And wearing clean clothes, no less.

Planning on another wild and wooly night tonight and then tomorrow, we'll head a little further north. Maybe Caleta Partida, a "bay" that separates Isla Espirtu Santo from Isla Partida or, if it looks crowded, we might go up a couple more miles to Ensenada Grande on Isla Partida. BTW, "caleta" and "ensenada" both mean "cove or inlet" while "bahia" obviously means "bay".

Monday, May 16, 2011

5/16/2011 - Just a quick note

We are finally back in internet land. Now we have to plow through a
couple hundred e-mails. If you've sent us something and we haven't
gotten back to you yet, that's why. We'll get to you and will also
update the blog with some photos soon.

In the meantime, I ordered the mixing elbow for the engine which cost
about half of what I was afraid it would cost. Also ordered a nw
autopilot whic cost about what I expected but we're getting a more
robust unit than our old one. The best news is that our friends Dave
and Marj are going back to the States tomorrow to visit their daughter
until the end of the month. The told us to have the stuff shipped to
her and they'd bring it back down in their luggage. Thus saves us a
ton of money and untold hassle. Hats off to them! So, we'll be in La
Paz until the end of the month and then, hopefully, be back on our way
up the Sea.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

5/14/2011 - Learning all the time

Every day is a new learning experience when you're doing something as foreign to your former life as cruising the Sea of Cortez in a sailboat is to our former lives. Like today for instance. Who knew that RF (radio frequency) energy emanating from our HF radio antenna (a simple piece of wire) could not only interfere with the function of the autopilot but could actually fry components inside?

We left our anchorage at Ensenada Grande bright and early, about 7:30. Got out into the open water and started motoring (did I mention the minimal wind we had was from the south?) to La Paz. After an hour or so I asked Lulu to come up topside and stand watch while I went below to take care of sending and receiving e-mail via the SSB radio. Now I already knew that the radio would do things like make the bilge pump light come on when transmitting. It also will turn the GPS on. Through trial and error I found out that this happens primarily (if not exclusively) when I'm transmitting in the 10 MHz band and usually only if I transmit at full power. Consequently, unless I'm trying to transmit a voice message, I keep the power setting in the middle. The only band I could get decent propagation on today was the 10 MHz band, but the power was not on High so I figured everything was jake. Just as I started to send my e-mails out, I thought, "Hmmm... wonder if this will effect the autopilot?" A few seconds later, I sensed the sun shifting positions. I went topsides and Lulu had disengaged the autopilot and was hand-steering to get us back on course (so we wouldn't run into Isla Ballena). Got things set, put the autopilot back in control and it did it again. Disengaged the AP and Lulu hand steered until I finished my radio stuff and could suss things out. Well, the upshot is that the AP doesn't work anymore. And, you can smell burnt electrical stuff inside it. Who knew? Tomorrow I'm going to take it apart, see if I can identify the fried component, exchange it with the same component from our parts unit and hope we get a working AP out of the deal. Either way, we'll probably be buying a new autopilot. They're just too important to not have (at least) one.

So, other than having to hand-steer and motor the whole way, it was a pleasant trip. Very hot. We arrived in La Paz and were anchored by 2:30 PM. It's sort of surreal being back here as we got accustomed to the "smaller" island life very quickly. We already miss it and won't be here any longer than necessary. But, that being said, we do have a list of things to do while we're here. And it'll take a little while to get the engine parts anyway. Hopefully there's an autopilot in stock here somewhere as special orders seem to take about 3 weeks.

Tomorrow, being Sunday, we won't be able to get much done. So we'll dinghy in to Marina de La Paz to take real showers, dump our garbage, and fill the water jugs. Other than that, we'll probably loaf after our grueling trip. Yeah, I know, your heart bleeds.

BTW, my banda ancha card ran out so we won't have real internet until Monday.

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Friday, May 13, 2011

5/13/2011 - If I knew then what I know now...

Hindsight is great, isn't it? You just can't let it get you down. For instance, If I knew that all the weather predictions of N and NW winds of 10-15 knots were going to be flat wrong, AND if I knew that the makeshift repair to the exhaust system was going to work so well, we probably would not have chosen to backtrack 78 miles to La Paz. Nope. If I'd known I could run the engine all day and the repair would show not one sign of leakage and I knew that what little wind we would have today would end up coming from the south, we probably would have returned to Timbabiche day before yesterday, made the repair, and then as soon as the north winds dropped (today) would have motored or sailed to Agua Verde and then on to Puerto Escondido, a mere 38 miles from where we decided to turn back.

Oh well, no matter. The important thing is that the repair is holding up way better than anticipated. We motored all day today at 2200 RPMs and there were no signs of leaks or any other signs of failure. That Rescue tape is some amazing stuff.

Yesterday, while we were at San Evaristo, the north winds blew nicely all day long. We were looking forward to more of the same today. Maybe we should have left yesterday but we were busy all day getting the boat shipshape, getting a few things from the tienda and restocking the cerveza supply.

We went to bed early last night and got up today ready to go. Left the anchorage about 0900 after breakfast. As soon as we were clear of the bay we hoisted the sails. It looked like there might be a little bit of north wind but it ended up not being enough to even begin to fill the sails. And then it dropped to nothing. So, we motored on. By mid-afternoon we were obviously getting some wind. Unfortunately it was on the nose. I tried adjusting course to see if maybe we could beat into it but we ended up 90 degrees to the rhumb line so we bagged that idea. Continued motoring.

San Evaristo was packed with boats yesterday. There were 14 in all and half of those were in the little north anchorage that seems really about big enough for maybe, MAYBE 5 boats at the most. When we passed Isla San Francisco, I counted 10 boats anchored. So we didn't have much hope for Ensenada Grande. Imagine our surprise when we got here. There was one sailboat and one power boat in the north lobe, none in the middle, and only one, a Moorings charter power catamaran, in the south lobe where we were going. We could anchor pretty much anywhere we wanted. Shortly after we anchored the power cat left but another power charter boat came in, loaded with toys (jet-skis, etc.). And, of course, they parked right ahead of us. Oh well, good chance they're not planning to spend the night anyway. BTW, arrived Ensenada Grande at 1600.

The anchorage is starting to fill up. Another charter (sail) catamaran just came in and another power boat is anchoring behind us even as I type.

So, tomorrow we'll get to La Paz (27 nm, same as today's run) in the afternoon. The up-side of going all the way to La Paz is that we can get some stuff taken care of. Yes, we could probably have gotten it done in Puerto Escondido, too, but shut up. Anyway, look for some photos soon. I think I'm just going to edit the existing blogs by inserting the appropriate photos. I'll let you know when it's been done. Then just go back and re-download all the blogs since 4/20/2011. But not yet. I'll let you know.

The current thinking is to order a new mixing elbow (unless it's more than normally stupid-expensive) and not remove the old one until the new one is here. Right now, we can motor. Once the elbow is off, we're dead in the water. So we'll install the new one when we get it and then head back up north. We'll get the old one fixed, if possible, in Puerto Escondido or maybe Guaymas later in the summer or early in the fall. Of course, once we have a new elbow, we shouldn't ever need a spare, right?

So, Doug and Jody, Neil & Lisa, David & Carolyn, Jay and Judy: Need anything from La Paz while we're there? Let us know.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

too tired

I'm bushed. I'll blog all about today tomorrow. See you then.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

5/10/2011 - Yesterday

Okay, it's Tuesday morning and my first cuppa joe is almost ready. Time to fill you in on what we did yesterday since I was too tired to do it last night after we got back from visiting Lisa & Neil on s/v Gypsy.

It was fairly windy all day so we never really felt inspired to row ashore. Probably just as well as we had things on board that needed our attention. When I was checking something in the engine room the other day, I noticed the Racor filters were all covered with some kind of soot. Then I noticed that a whole bunch of stuff was covered with this same soot. At first it freaked me out a bit because it looked like the kind of smoky soot that is left after there's been a fire. Had we had a self-extinguishing fire in the engine room that I wasn't aware of? Scary thought. On further investigation I saw that what had actually caused the soot was an exhaust leak where the exhaust manifold meets the mixing elbow. There's a clamp there so I loosened the clamp to make sure nothing was broken (didn't appear to be) and then tightened it back up so that there was no wobble. Hopefully, that did it. Then I got started scrubbing off all the soot, or at least the easy-to-reach soot.

While I was cleaning off the Racor filter holders it dawned on me that I couldn't remember changing filter elements since I'd installed the new system 400+ engine hours ago. So, first I turned the valves so the spare filter was put into service (that's part of the upgrade I did on the system: switchable primary filters in parallel). Then I pulled the old filter out of what was now the standby filter and replaced it. Piece of cake.

Also housed in the engine compartment is the big bag that Lulu made so I could stow water filters, spare line, etc. I had to remove the bag to be able to do my fuel filter work so, before I put it back in, I kind of straightened it up. Then it occurred to me that it might be a good idea to take one of the 5 micron water filters out of the bag and change the filter on the watermaker. This filter is for straining sea water before it reaches the Clark pump and, since we had made water in some pretty krill-rich waters lately, it was likely funky. That and it had never been changed before.

This is a pretty easy procedure. The filter housing is under the galley sink and very accessible. I unscrewed the housing and managed to get the unit up into the sink without spilling much. WOW! What a stench! That filter was nasty. All those little krill creatures must have died on it because it flat STUNK! Sealed the old filter in a plastic bag before putting it in the trash so it wouldn't stink up the boat. Also cleaned the sea water strainer (wire mesh screen) that's upstream of the whole unit. It stunk too and was all black but it cleaned up nice. Guess I should pay a little closer attention to these things.

Before all of these adventures, Manuel came up in his panga. Since we still had fish to eat we didn't really want anything today. He hung around and we chatted a little. He wondered if we could spare any cerveza, tequila, rum, anything since there was nowhere to buy any in Timbabiche. I explained that we had a ways to go before we could buy any more so we kind of wanted to hang on to what we had. He understood. He asked us for our garbage so he could dispose of it for us. We didn't have but half a bag since we'd just dumped in San Evaristo but we were glad to get rid of the half bag. I asked if he wanted aluminum cans and he said "yes, for his daughters". He has 6 daughters, all school age and apparently they collect cans for recycling. He didn't have any fish but he had 2 lobsters, one was pretty big and the other was much smaller. I asked Lulu if we wanted more lobster and she said "sure". So I relayed the message to Manuel. He asked me for a bucket, filled it partway with seawater, added the lobsters and handed it back saying it was a gift for my wife. I told him that was very nice and had Lulu fix him up with a 6-pack of beer. He then asked if I could spare another 100 pesos for gas and such which I was glad to do. He left happy as far as I could tell. These guys have a tough life.

This time, I decided to split the whole lobster lengthwise instead of just harvesting the tail. One of our books shows that as a way to go so I figured I ought to try it out. What the book didn't tell me was whether or not I was supposed to carry out this procedure on the lobster while it was still alive and, if not, how I was supposed to kill it. Since it wasn't addressed, I figured that the splitting and killing both happened with the same knife stroke. Seemed sort of cruel but I guess no worse than chopping the head off a chicken. I started with the smaller guy. I laid it on it's back on a cutting board in the cockpit and then laid our big French knife along his length and then leaned over and put my weight behind it. Its shell was hard but the knife went through just fine. Cleaned the guts out, pulled the legs and antennae off and proceeded to the big guy.

This was a little bit tougher. I got partway through and couldn't go any further. Lulu fetched me the rubber mallet and I pounded the knife the rest of the way through. Lulu refrigerated everything and I cooked it up later on the BBQ. She pulled the cooked meat out and refrigerated it for use in a salad or something later. There wasn't really that much extra meat in the body so next time I think I'll just harvest the tails again.

We spent the afternoon loafing. About mid-afternoon we saw a boat that looked like it might be coming in here. The other two boats that were sharing the anchorage with us had left in the morning so we were all the only boat here most of the day. After awhile it was obvious that this new boat was definitely coming into Timbabiche. As it got closer I was able to identify it as s/v Gypsy with our friends Lisa and Neil who we hadn't seen since January. Once they got settled, they invited us over for dinner.

We had a great time catching up with our friends. When it was time to row back to Siempre Sabado, the wind had come up (and not in our favor of course) and there were some waves. Remember, we rowed over which meant we had to row back. Siempre Sabado looked like it was about 50 miles away. But rowing wasn't too bad and we made it but it wasn't all that much fun. Anyhoo, that's why I was too tired to write last night.

We're planning on leaving for Ensenada Las Ballenas later today but right now it's blowing too hard, or at least it's blowing harder than we care to deal with, so we'll just have to wait and see.

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Monday, May 9, 2011

5/9/2011 - Just a short note

Just a quickie tonight to let you all know we're still safe and sound anchored at Timbabiche. Our friends Neil & Lisa on s/v Gypsy showed up this afternoon and we spent the evening on their boat having dinner and visiting. We're thinking about leaving tomorrow for Ensenada Las Ballenas. I'll write more later. Maybe tomorrow morning.

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