¡Muy Importante!

YodersAfloat is moving! Please come and see us at our new location. Be sure to update your bookmarks. Once you get there, sign up yo receive notifications of updates via e-mail.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

11/27/2011 - When Bloggers Collide

It's always cool when you run into people whose blogs you've been enjoying over the years. It happened to us with Mark & Vickie on s/v Southern Cross while we were still in Oregon. We met Pat, Ali and Ouest on s/v Bumfuzzle when we passed through California on our way to Mexico. Once in Mexico we met Paul and Chris on s/v Jeorgia, Rich, Lori and the kids on s/v Third Day, although, in truth I've only met Rich, and the Conger clan on s/v Don Quixote. There are numerous other blogs we follow, or at least check into once in awhile, written by folks we've met along the way. Once you meet them, it's fun to check out their blogs, if they have one, to see where they've been and find out what becomes of them after they leave.

Our latest blogger collision happened this weekend. We've been following Livia's writing for some time now. Ever since they were up in BC thinking about sailing to warmer climes. Livia is the brains behind the Interview With A Cruiser and the Newly Salted projects. She's a smart and witty writer and we were hoping to meet up with her and Carol when they sailed s/v Estrellita 5.10b down to La Paz. Our chance came Sunday when they wandered by after shopping and we had a little cockpit gam.

Lest the line-up of dead soldiers leads you to believe that Livia & Carol were trying to fulfill some sort of Canadian stereotype, let me just say that at least half of those cans were Lulu's. ¡Ella es una borracha muy grande!

As Livia said in an e-mail follow-up, it's nice when you like the people as much in real life as you do in their blogs. And we do.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

11/24/2011 - Thinksgiving cruiser style

I know I can't fool you guys into believing that this was written on Thanksgiving. You're too darn smart for that. But I post-dated it anyway so that I can find it better when I go back and look for a Thanksgiving entry at a later date.

Anyway, since we had already done a Thanksgiving feed at Casa Buena the Thursday before Thanksgiving, we had pretty much planned to skip the holiday on its official day. We could have gone to the big Thanksgiving Dinner put on by Club Cruceros but we chose not to. We're not big fans of large dinner type gatherings. Reminds Lulu too much of "company" holiday parties and I generally don't care for the way that some of the people behave ("piggishly" comes to mind as a description) and the food, in my humble opinion, generally leaves a lot to be desired. Some, albeit very few, folks at these potluck things bring really good stuff and lots of it, others bring really good stuff that the first 6 people in line get to eat and then it's gone, some bring stuff that is okay but nothing special, some bring food that it wouldn't matter how much they brought - it'd still be too much, some stop at the store on their way to the party, and then there are the freeloaders who don't bring a damn thing. Do I sound like an old poop? Well, maybe I am but at least I now know enough to just stay away from the big feeds. Our friend Rich and his family on s/v Third Day attended the feed and had this to report. Sounds like we didn't miss anything.

While attending the swap meet the Sunday before T-Day, we were invited to Thanksgiving Dinner at a 3-boat raft-up out on El Magote by John the Rigger. He said they were planning dinner for about 20 people. It was still a potluck of sorts although certain people were assigned certain dishes and everyone was cautioned to bring enough to serve 20. This is a lot more our size and style. We weren't disappointed.

We had been told that dinner was at 3:00 but to come over anytime after noon. Not wanting to be way early like we usually are, we didn't even leave Siempre Sabado until a little after 1:00. Out across the sandbar we headed in the dink. The tide was so low that our prop actually hit bottom once while crossing the sandbar. Be mighty easy to run a boat aground out there. As we approached the raft-up, it was pretty clear from the dearth of dinghies that we were still too early. And, not really knowing anyone on these boats very well, we didn't want to be the first ones there and way too early to boot. So, we continued on and spent a little while visiting with Jay and Judy and Basil on s/v Wind Raven . Once the 2:00 hour was behind us we felt safe in returning to the raft-up. Sure enough, there were 3 or 4 dinghies trailing out behind by their painters. We tied up to s/v Talion and climbed aboard. I neglected to get a photo of the raft-up from the water and once aboard I couldn't hike out far enough to do it justice so this'll have to do:

This photo was taken from Talion's bow looking across Mariah in the center to Avatar on the other side. My understanding is that Mariah (John the Rigger's boat) and Avatar are the same boat, just built in different years. All three boats had center cockpits so it made for easy and comfy visiting.

Naturally, in the true spirit of every Thanksgiving that Lulu and I ever hosted, the appointed eating time came and went with nary a sight of the bird, or in this case, birds since there were two of them cooking. No matter, we were all having fun getting acquainted with each other. We didn't know most of the people there at first and the few we did know, we only sort of knew peripherally.

Eventually, though, it was time to carve the turkeys. Why two birds? Because boat ovens aren't that large. A 12 lb. turkey pretty much fills your average boat's oven. In the photo below you can see Lulu's huge pot of gravy on Talion's stove:

Scarfin' down the food:

That's Patsy, Talion's owner, sitting on the throne in the center of the photo. You can see 10 people gathered in this cockpit and everyone has plenty of elbow room. Reportedly, Patsy can seat 12 around her dining table below and she has enough dishes to feed at least 12 as well. A long way from Siempre Sabado's accommodations. As the evening wore on and the dessert cart went by a couple of times, people spread out to the other two boats to visit although most stayed aboard Talion. Coincidentally, that's where the food was.

Here's a shot of Mariah's cockpit. That's John the Rigger, Mariah's owner on the left and Jody, Avatar's co-owner on the right.

We had a great time with lots and lots of good food. I got so loaded up on turkey, dressing, mashed spuds, gravy, candied yams, green bean casserole, etc. that I never even bothered with dessert. Some might call that un-American, but I yam what I yam.

Eventually it got dark enough to make dinghying back an adventure and we set our course for home. We had two folks from Marina de La Paz to take home as they'd gotten a ride out on another dinghy. I tell you, with 4 full-size (okay, 2 full size plus Lulu and I) adults, that PotraBote was a tad overloaded. Made driving it a bit of an ordeal as we did have a little bit of wind-wave action happening. But we managed to deliver our supercargo back to their dock safely and then headed home.

A fine Thanksgiving.

Wonder how one of these guys would taste if we can't find a turkey sometime:

PS: a note about Mexican hospitality...

Just before we left for the raft-up, we decided to get some ice for the ice chests and an 8-pack of Pacifico to take with us. I headed to our favorite cervezeria, The Mini Super Amo-pola.

Turns out Mañuel doesn't carry bagged ice but he did have an ice chest up front that had a huge block of ice inside and he chipped me off a shopping bag full at no charge. Then, as I reached for my wallet to pay for my beer, I realized that I didn't have my wallet. I had taken it out when I went up to take a shower and forgot to put it back afterwards. Oops. I told Mañuel that had forgotten my money and started to take the beer back to the cold case. He would have none of it. Insisted that it was "No problema." and told me to take the beer and pay next time I was in the store. I'd like to think that a Mexican national, who couldn't speak more than a little English, at a 7-11 in the States, would be treated the same way I was treated here. That's what I'd like to think.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

11/24/2011 - Happy Thanksgiving

Last Thanksgiving, Lulu and I were about 25 miles west of the Pacific coast of Baja, out in the ocean, 4 days out of Ensenada. Our feast that day consisted of crackers, cheese and smoked marlin. Today will be better. We've been invited to dinghy out to a 3-boat raft-up to enjoy turkey, et al, with about 20 other cruisers. Should be a good time and an excellent example of a cruiser's Thanksgiving. I'll report back tomorrow.

In the meantime, maybe you can adapt the following recipe to your turkey leftovers, after you get tired of sandwiches. I picked up the basic concept of this recipe yesterday while standing in line waiting to buy a couple bagels from the Bagel Lady. The ingredients sounded intriguing so I had to try it out last night. Turned out to be really good. Of course, the best part is that I got to use a can of Campbell's Cream of Chile Poblano soup. Try finding that at your local Safeway in the States. However, you're all smart folks (else you wouldn't be here, right?), so I know you can improvise.

Bon Provecho and Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Pollo Poblano

4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 seeded chile poblano, finely diced
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-size pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons white wine
1 can Campbell's Cream of Chile Poblano soup (substitute Cream of Chicken or Cream of Mushroom if you can't find the Chile Poblano)
3 tablespoons (mas o menos) of half & half (or crema media)
2 cups (uncooked) white rice

Cook the rice by whatever is your chosen method (our method follows)

While the rice is cooking, combine the soy sauce, wine and corn starch.
Soak the chicken in the corn starch mixture making sure all pieces are coated. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat half of the olive oil.
Add the onions to the oil and cook until clear.
Add the garlic, the red pepper flakes, and the chile poblano and cook, stirring frequently, until chile pieces are limp.
Add the rest of the oil and let it heat.
Remove the chicken from the corn starch mixture with a slotted spoon and add to the vegetable mixture.
Cook, stirring now and then, until chicken is cooked through. About 5-8 mintes depending on how hot the oil is. I put a lid on between stirrings to speed things up a little.
When the chicken is cooked, add the can of soup. Stir in to mix.
Thin the mixture down to a good thick gravy consistency by adding the half and half as needed.
Heat through.
Serve over hot rice.

How we cook white rice:

Rinse rice and put into an appropriately-sized pan with a lid.
Add water until there is 1" of water above the surface of the rice.
Put on the heat, cover and bring to a boil.
When the water is boiling, remove the lid and reduce the heat so the rice is gently boiling.
When the water has been absorbed to the point that the rice looks like bubbling lava, reduce heat to a minimum and cover.
After 10 minutes, turn heat off. Leave rice on the hot burner and leave cover on.
After another 10-15 minutes*, the rice is done. Fluff and serve.

*If you start the rice before you start cooking the Pollo Poblano, you can just leave it sitting on the stove until everything else is done. It won't overcook since the water's all gone.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

11/22/2011 - Time to Catch Up

First off, if you're my age (60) or older, or maybe a little younger, I bet you know where you were on this date in 1963.

Okay, this entry may run a wee bit long. Don't know for sure as I haven't written it yet, not even in my head. I'll be making it up as I go along. But, knowing how wordy I can get when I preface a blog with "Not much to say, but...", you might want to start up another pot of coffee before you get started.

Although I posted some blogs from my trip down the west coast of Baja on s/v Chamisa, I'm going to start this blog back in Long Beach, CA anyway.

After my near-miss flight from La Paz to LA, I settled in to Chamisa. It was quite an eye-opener moving from 28' Siempre Sabado to 42' Chamisa. I mean, this boat has a hallway for criminysakes!

BTW, look at how well Chamisa is shoe-horned into her slip. With a little bit of help from friends at the marina on the dock as well as Keith's (to me, anyway) amazing skill at handling this full-keeled beast, we managed to get out of the slip without any of the other boats having to move and without hitting anyone or anything. I was truly impressed. I couldn't have gotten our 28 footer out of there so prettily. How he did it with a 42 footer is still beyond me.

Keith and I spent part of a day getting Chamisa ready for sea (deflating and stowing the dinghy, rigging the jacklines, etc.) and the rest of the time either getting me acquainted with Chamisa or provisioning. As I was using this trip as a way to get some supplies that I couldn't get in Mexico (or didn't want to pay premium prices for), we also spent a bit of time running around to West Marine, etc. The main item I would have liked to have gotten were a couple of new solar panels to add to my present array of two 80-watt panels. Unfortunately, I've been ruined by looking on E-Bay and other on-line sources so the few places we found that even carried panels seemed way over-priced. We were limited from running all over southern California looking for panels by the fact that we were borrowing cars to do our running around. Ultimately, no new panels, but no biggie. I should really try harder to get the most out of the panels I have before adding more panels. Like maybe finding a better spot to mount them so that neither one is shaded by the ever-present-in-the-summer awning over the cockpit. I did manage to get some hardware to rig my windvane, as well as some sorely-needed outboard motor parts. Also bought a bunch of coloring books, tablets, colored pencils, regular pencils and toothbrushes to give away to the kids in the various fishing villages we visit through the summer months. I bought a whole bunch of AA batteries to trade to the fishermen for fish and, hopefully, lobster next spring up in the islands.

But, the absolute most important things I bought to bring back to Mexico:

That's right. Nathan's hot dogs and Hormel chili. I know that I've raved on about how good the street hot dogs are here in La Paz but, frankly (pun intended), it's mostly because of the condiments they pile on top. Well, that and the bacon that's wrapped around each dog prior to grilling. The grocery stores are chock full of hot dogs in every size package a guy could hope to see and made by a whole bunch of different manufacturers. But they all have one thing in common. They're all made of pavo (turkey). Health-wise, that's probably a very good thing. But taste-wise? Fuggedaboudit. When I want a really good tube steak, I want a juicy, salty, extremely flavorful Nathan's all-beef frank. I'll also eat Hebrew National dogs but we really love our Nathan's. Now, in all fairness, we did see a couple of brands of all beef wieners at the new Mega Foods that just opened up in La Paz. Not Nathan's, but probably serviceable.

And chili? Well, believe it or not, chili con carne, in spite of the Spanish-sounding name, is not a Mexican food. You can find lots of canned beans in the stores. Even some called "chili beans" but you can't find canned chili. Can't we make our own? Certainly, but when I want a quickie bowl of chili, making our own from scratch is not the answer. And, unlike my preference for NATHAN'S hot dogs over other brands, I'll eat just about any brand of canned chili. I like them all. Like they say about sex and pizza, even bad canned chili is still pretty darn good. As far as the history of chili, I haven't bothered to investigate but, we used to make a Mexican dish called Chile Colorado, which the cookbook authors posited might be the original "chili". If you add beans to it, which is how I happen to like my chili, it does make a mighty tasty version of chili con carne. Doesn't taste like the canned stuff or even like your normal homemade chili, but it's still pretty darn good and you can taste how our modern chili may have evolved from this dish.

I've got to hand it to Keith, he's no slouch when it comes to provisioning for the trip. We spent an afternoon in Albertson's and Trader Joes and emerged from both places with bags and bags and bags of goodies. Of course, neither of us really knew what the other liked to eat so we were kind of finding out as we went along. I had pictured a trip sort of like Lulu and I had where we just didn't eat too many full meals, relying in stead on sandwiches and quick-to-prepare stuff. Of course, a lot of that probably had to do with the fact that Lulu didn't feel very good during our transit. So, we bought easy-to prepare stuff (pasta sauce in a jar, etc.), very easy-to-prepare stuff (Cup-O-Noodles), and regular basic ingredients like potatoes, eggs, vegetables, hamburger, hot dogs, etc. as well as some items for dressing up other dishes like canned olives and chiles.

To our credit, I suppose, we ate mostly full meals during the trip. Breakfast consisted of either spuds and eggs, eggs and sausage, oatmeal loaded with goodies, pancakes, breakfast burritos and, on one occasion, last night's leftover green chile casserole. Lunches were usually sandwiches and chips and Keith makes a mean sandwich. The first time he offered to make tuna sandwiches, he asked if I wanted one slice of bread or two. This was sort of a foreign concept to me as I thought sandwiches always had two slices of bread (except club sandwiches which have three), so I said "two". Well, it turns out that what Keith refers to as a one-slice sandwich, I grew up knowing as half a sandwich. And then, seeing how he loaded that sandwich down with tuna, the idea of a one-slice sandwich suddenly made sense. Anyway, like I said, for lunch we'd have a sandwich, some chips and maybe a dill pickle spear. For dinner we had biscuits and gravy, spaghetti, tallerini, hot dogs, burritos, the aforementioned green chili casserole, shepherd's pie, mashed potatoes with chunks of pot roast in gravy, etc. We ate really well. When we came on watch we had fruit (grapes, apples, mandarin oranges), several kinds of trail mix, cup-o-noodles, coffee, tea, etc. I think we managed to eat some of almost everything we bought for the trip except the enchilada sauce and we didn't hit even one of the dozen or so packs of ramen I grabbed at the store.

I'll spare you most of the details of the trip down the coast as I've already written about them in previous posts.

Here's a photo of Chamisa in her first Mexican port-of-call, Ensenada, where she is tied up to the (no kidding) "Mega Yacht Dock".

Way back when, I think Keith and Kay had originally planned to gunkhole their way down Baja's Pacific coast. But, as time grew shorter and winter grew closer, they decided to take the path Lulu and I took a year ago. That is, head out about 25 miles and make the whole jump in one big trip. I had told Keith earlier that one of the reasons we wanted to do it that way was to find out if you really did get into a groove after a few days at sea, and what the heck that groove really was all about. He was equally interested to find out.

I just now got to looking at some of my old blogs to see if I'd written anything about "the groove", but, if I did, it's hidden away somewhere. So here's my take after my second trip of at least 6 days at sea. So, what is "the groove"? More than likely it's different things to different people but for me what it was was the point where I stopped thinking in terms of "when are we getting there?". After three days or so of standing watches, you tend to come to the realization that it really doesn't matter when you're going to get somewhere because you know it's not going to be today. So screw it, just stand your watch, eat your meals, and sail along. The days tend to melt together and when you do finally get where you're going, it's hard to believe so many days have passed. On this trip I hit the groove on about the first day, probably because I'd done it before. Turning the corner at Cabo San Lucas almost came as a surprise. Oh, and it helps that the GPS won't give you an estimated arrival time when your trip is longer than 24 hours.

During the trip, we always wore our PFDs when on deck and, although we limited our trips outside the cockpit to the bare minimum, we always were strapped to the boat if we ever did have to venture out. Here's a photo of Keith rigging a preventer on to the staysail boom.

This is Keith on our first day out, trying to figure out the GPS using the somewhat-lacking Users' Manual. We knew how to use the basic features but wanted to try out some of the other stuff. Either Keith would read the instructions and I'd push buttons or vice-versa. Either way, we'd eventually reach a screen that just didn't match the manual as far as the options available. And yes, we were definitely using the right manual. Garmin just needs to do a wee bit more work on making their manuals match their GPS models.

Okay, I assume you've already read about the trip. If not, see the earlier November entries.

The marina at San Jose del Cabo (Puerto Los Cabos) was interesting. The walkway/roadway had a display that was dedicated to what wikipedia referred to as " a British-born Mexican artist, a surrealist painter and a novelist", Leonara Carrington. I'd never heard of her before. There are copies of her paintings along the walk:

Interspersed with sculptures of some of the characters in her paintings:

As well as occasional photos and biographical sketches:

Once back in La Paz, Lulu and I spent part of a day giving Keith a basic lay of the land before setting him loose on his own. He seems to have adapted quite well. He's already gotten his Telcel banda ancha card and found Allende Books and the ice cream shop. I think he'll do just fine.

Last week, since Cody and Scott were visiting us, we decided to get off the boat and live at Casa Buena for the week. This is one of the nicest little bed & breakfast compound we've ever seen. The rooms are very reasonable and there's a big central gathering spot with a full kitchen available to the guests. We rented the two adjoining Garden Rooms. Like a big dumb dog, I forgot to take any photos while we were there so these photos came from CB's website.

This is one of the Garden Rooms and, as a matter of fact, the one Lulu and I stayed in. Both pictures are of the same room.

Last Thursday, we decided to have Thanksgiving dinner for ourselves, the kids and a couple of other folks. We invited Keith, of course, as well as fellow Westsailor Lee Perry who was passing through town on his way from Guaymas to San Diego, and fellow CB guest Al Foster who's new-to-him boat is on the hard at the Abaroa yard that is connected to Marina del Palmar. We also invited some folks that were awfully nice to Lulu while I was gone, keeping her too busy to get lonely. There was Frank from s/v Island Seeker, Aimee (occasional crew on Island Seeker), Zak, Suzi, Ronin, and Maia who Lulu sort of met through our friends John & Vickie (m/v Doña Elena) who are Zak and Maia's aunt and uncle if I got the story right. Aimee is from Western Australia and Suzi (Zak's wife) is from Eastern Australia. Zak lived in Australia for 10 years. They entertained us by trying to teach us how to speak Australian. Did we get it? Yeh, neh. We were definitely not what you'd call fair dinkum Aussie speakers by the end of the evening.

Lulu cooked, with Cody' help, turkey, dressing, mashed spuds, gravy, candied yams, green beans, sweet potato pie and pecan pie, and peach crisp as well as a crudite tray. I contributed my green chile casserole. Everybody ate until we were hurtin'. Dinner was followed by some card games and football on the big screen TV which has replaced the little TV you can see in this picture.

Having the Casa Buena kitchen at our disposal was a real treat for people who are used to cooking on a boat.

Casa Buena is behind a wall which is all you see when you walk by on the street. But inside is a courtyard, the rooms, a small swimming pool, the central kitchen/meeting room, the owners' house, the small chapel the owners built to host non-denominational Sunday meetings, a pony named Niña, two yellow labs named Cracker and Luna, as well as a jet black cat named Spooky and a little kitten whose name I cannot remember.

The way we heard about Casa Buena was that our friends Mike & Nita (s/v Odessa) were staying there last fall while Odessa was having some work done on her in the yard. They invited us over for drinks and we fell in love with the place. In talking to other people who we met at CB, they all found out about it in just about the same way. So we're happy to have been able to introduce some more potential guests to this little gem of a place. Susu and Milton Sanders, the owners, could not be more gracious. Highly recommended.

The first day out on the town with Scott and Cody, we walked their tender little feet off. Showed those young whippersnappers what we old folks are made of.

Mostly we took the kids around La Paz to do a little shopping and try out some of our favorite eateries. But one day we slipped the dock lines and sailed up to Bahia Falsa for the day. We had just enough wind to make the sailing fun but not stressful. Of course, it wasn't taking us where we wanted to go but at least we got to sail for the pure joy of sailing for awhile. We dropped anchor in the crystal clear waters of Bahia Falsa and dinghied ashore. Scott immediately got into the spirit of the Baja:

Oh, I forgot to mention, the night the kids got here, it rained for the first time since we've been in Baja. Poured all late afternoon, evening and well into the night. They must have brought it with them from Oregon. The rest of their stay was beautiful. We put them on the plane and sent them home to snow this past Saturday. It was really fun to have them visit.

Now life is back to "normal". We had dinner with our friends Mark & Vickie on s/v Southern Cross the other night. We have "cocktails" on Island Seeker several evenings a week. Tonight we're having Frank, Mark & Vickie over for Lulu's pizza. Southern Cross just got hauled out here at the Abaroa yard and Frank's boat is just up the dock from Siempre Sabado. This morning on the VHF cruisers' net we heard s/v Estrellita 5.10b check in as new arrivals. We've ben anxious to hear that as we have been following Livia and Carol's blog for quite a while now. Although we've never actually met in person, we both feel like we know each other already through blogs and e-mails. We plan to meet in person this weekend.

So, what are we doing for Thanksgiving? We decided to skip the big 200+ people feed put on by Club Cruceros. We're just not that big on large crowds of people. We figured we'd already had Thanksgiving so we were prepared to do not much of anything. But, at the cruisers' swap meet Sunday, John the rigger invited us to dinghy over to a 3-boat raft-up out on the magote for Thanksgiving. There'll be about 20 people, some of whom we've met. Should be fun. All we're being asked to bring, besides drinks, is candied yams. But enough candied yams for 20 people. Piece of cake.

Speaking of food, check out this photo:

Four of those precious Nathan's hot dogs cooking away in a pan surrounded by fried spuds/onions/peppers. They're cooking together to save dishwashing time. Yum. It's good to be home.

PS: got a Simrad TP30 Tillerpilot (never used) at the swap meet Sunday to have as a back-up to our TP32. The plug-in is different but, since I only use two of the wires (12VDC + and -) anyway, that's just not a problem. Got if for around $185 (US) which is less than 1/3 of what I paid for my TP32 new.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

11/12/2011 - I'm HOME!

Just a quickie to let everyone know that we arrived safe and sound in
La Paz an hour or so ago. Got everything put away and I'm just about
to eat some of the leftovers from the meals Lulu's been taunting me
with via e-mail while I was gone (chicken divan and zucchini
souffle). Not that we ate bad, mind you, but still, it's better when
Lulu cooks it. So, I'll try to write something ore later but, be
aware that our daughter Cody and her husband Scott will be arriving
for a visit tomorrow so all my time may be taken up showing them la
vida buena en Mexico.

The trip from San Jose del Cabo to La Paz was uneventful. Weather was
fine to beautiful. No sailing winds but we expected that.

Hasta luego

Friday, November 11, 2011

We're outs SJ!

Just a quickie to let you all know we left San Jose del Cabo about 2 hours ago. Warm, sunny, calm and no wind to speak of. Much different than a couple days ago. If you're following us on Yotreps, I just updated our position. Only doing about 4.5 knots but that's about 3.5 knots better than we were doing when we turned back the other day. Hoping to get to La Paz sometime tomorrow afternoon or evening.


radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: http://www.sailmail.com

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

11/9/2011- San Jose del Cabo

11/9/2011 - Wednesday in San Jose del Cabo

(note: the following took me a long time to write and, since I'm writing it in Wordpad - still using my netbook - I don't seem to have a spell checker. And I just don't feel like going back and re-reading what I wrote. So, here it is, warts and all.):

Wow, looks like I've been remiss in keeping the blog up to date. For all you know, we're still out there in the Pacific, wending our way to La Paz. Here's what's really happened since my last post on Sunday.

Sunday night we rounded the tip of Baja California. There's a thing called the Cape Effect that tends to amplify winds and waves in the vicinity of a cape. And if the tip of Baja isn't a cape, nothing is. Sure enough, as we neared land and began rounding the cape, the winds and seas both kicked up to pretty gnarly levels. Well, not so much the wind, but the seas were pretty big. It was kind of funny because Keith was down in the cabin making a phone call to his wife Kay, taking advantage of the first cell signal we've had since leaving Ensenada. He must have been below for 10-15 minutes at least. When his call was over he stuck his head out, looked around, and said, "Wow! hen did it get like this?" as we bounced and swerved our way through the seas. Pretty good tribute both to his iron gut as well as to how used to the motion that we've gotten that he didn't even notice things were extra bouncy until he stuck his head out.

With no need or desire to stop in Cabo San Lucas, we continued on our way. Fully rounding the cape, we bid the Pacific Ocean "adios" and headed up into the Sea of Cortez. They wereredicting northers later in the week so we were glad to be able to hit it when we did on Monday morning. At that point it looked like we could concievably arrive in La Paz as early as mid-day Tuesday. Well, mid-day Tuesday was yesterday and, not only are we NOT in La Paz, but we're no longer in the Sea of Cortez either.

On our way up the Sea, we had the main out while motoring. Keith happened to look up and noticed that the line that connects the sail slugs that hold the main to the cars that ride in the flexible track (Chamisa has an in-boom furler system) had parted. He decided we needed to drop the main before we tore something up. I assume the spanking that the main got when we rounded the cape on Sunday night was the culprit. Anyway, since we were experiencing some north winds he decided that it would be best to try to get out of the wind to lower the sail. Los Frailes was fairly close at hand so we made our way there. Pulled in behind tghe big rock, out of the wind, lowered the main (which went much easier than Keith expected it would) and got back on our way. I'm sure the boats that were already anchored at Los Frailes were wondering what the heck we were up to.

Back out on the Sea and headed north. We weren't very far north of Los Frailes when the engine sound changed pitch. We both got that sinking feeling in the stomach as it changed pitch again. It would run right and then slow down and then come back up again for a few seconds and then slow down again. Keith said "that didn't sound good". and I had to agree. He went below to the engine room hoping to be able to see something obviously amiss. He returned a few minutes later and the engine was purring along as nice as you please. He said there was probably a cup or more of water in the fuel filter/water separator. He drained it off and then, 15 minutes later went down to check it again. He had to drain almost as much off the second time. He kept checking and it looked like we were going to have to check it every 10 minutes or so for as long as water kept showing up, which could be all night for all we knew. Watchkeeping was taking on a new dimension. However, when we went back below so he could show me what where and how he was drining the filter, we noticed that the fuel in the filter had a decidedly cloudy look to it. So, now we had a little bit of a predicament. Both 40 gallon tanks were empty and our only fuel was in the 80 gallon tank and apparently contaminated with water and god knows what else. What to do?

With the wind coming from the north, there was no way we were sailing to La Paz. Keith asked me whether there were any unfriendly lee shores between us and La Paz in case we lost the engine. I told him the route was full of unfriendly shores and very few hidey holes. He decided the thing to do was to shut the engine down and sail back to Cabo San Lucas for fresh fuel in the 40 gallon tanks. After looking through the cruising guides we realized we could fuel up at San Jose Del Cabo, some 15 miles closer than Cabo San Lucas. So, although we were a little wary of using the main in its current condition, we really had no choice, so we hoisted the main and unrolled the jib and headed back the way we came.

The north winds weren't really very strong so we made pretty slow progress. We were unable to continue using the jib as, not having a whisker pole, we were unable to keep it full of air. It would fill and collapse, fill and collapse, fill and collapse, etc. So we rolled up the jib and unrolled the boomed but much smaller staysail. Took us a very very very long time to pass Los Frailes. However, with the wind blowing no more than 5 knots, we were still able to make 2-3 knots which is not bad for big heavy Westsail.

We continued on. Decided to stand our normal watches although keith decided to spend his first off-watch dozing in the cockpit rather than sleeping down below. He must have been REALLY tired because what he was doing wasn't dozing, it was out and out sleeping. I had to wake him a couple times and each time required more than one attempt. We ghosted on through the night, making slow but steady progress. By the time I started my second watch at 0300, we could see the lights of San Jose del Cabo some 10 miles or so in the distance. About an hour or so into my watch, I was able to change course a little which put us on a little bit better point of sail. Then the wind started filling in and we steadily picked up speed. We were scooting along at 6 knots.

When we were within about 2 miles of the entrance to the marina and it was still dark, I decided we were close enough for now. I headed up into the wind to slow the boat down and then tried a couple of different approaches to heaving-to to see if we could just basically sit where we were. I was partially successful, keeping us from getting any closer or much further away. Keith came up about 0700 and we just continued drifting around until it was light enough to be able to confidently enter the marina. Once inside, we took on 96 gallons of diesel (the 40 gallon tanks are apparently actually 48 gallon tanks), disosed of the contaminated diesel from the day tank and headed back out. While we were there, we listened to some the Baja HaHa-ers on the VHF talking about staying in the marina another couple days until the promised norther blew itself out. We weren't too worried about taking a bashing, so out we went.

San Jose del Cabo is on the south side of the tip of Baja. As we rounded the tip and started heading roughly northeast, we started getting pounded. The winds weren't such a big deal but the seas were. Although not all that large, maybe 6' or so, they were really close together, like 4 seconds. This makes for a very bumpy ride. The first casualty was Otto, the autopilot. Otto simply did not sign on to steer in these conditions and chose to shut himself down. I took the helm and could see why Otto wasn't happy. It was really hard to keep on course, or even very close to on course. But we continued on. A little bit later we both happened to be watching our speed on the GPS and realized we were only averaing about 1 knot. We began to second-guess our "push on" decision. If we continued and conditions didn't improve (they were actually supposed to get worse, we would use up all of our fuel a long ways before reaching La Paz. And, we would have to hand-steer through it all. Now we may be ignorant but we're certainly no dummies. Even we could see that pressing on was a bad idea. So, we turned tail and ran back to SJdelC. Our speed shot up to 6 knots as soon as we turned around.

Once back in San Jose del Cabo, we managed to get one of the last 2 slips that was large enough for us. We had showers (THAT felt good), ate at the little restaurant up by the office and then hit the rack early. And I mean EARLY. Keith went to bed at about 6:00 PM and I followed suit a half hour later. We both slept almost 12 hours, getting up this morning around 6-ish.

So, that's where we are. We've signed up to be here tonight and tomorrow night as well since the northers are supposed to peter out on Friday. If so, we'll head out again and try to make a non-stop run to La Paz. arriving sometime Saturday afternoon, depending on when we get started and how fast we can go.

OK, hope this lengthy entry makes up for keeping you all in the dark since Sunday.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

11-6-2011 at sea

11/06/2011, Sunday morning around 1045 ship's time or 0945 local time (DST)

Bouncy night last night. The wind picked up enough for us to use it but the seas followed suit and picked up, too. Wearing foulies that are too big for me and trying to maneuver around the cockpit, I felt like an astronaut. And not one of the sleek new space shuttle astronauts. No, this was like a John Glenn era astronaut with the big puffy soace suits. When I could finally get in a spot to plop myself down on a cushion in the cockpit I was fine but invariably I would have to get up to do something and every movement was awkward. Hoping not to need them tonight.

But, that aside, we had a good night. Had a 4 inch flying fish land in the cockpit.

Whoops! Bloggus interuptus. As I was writing the stuff above I started getting queasy. Weird, since I just installed a new Scop patch this morning. I went topside but that didn't help very much. Eventually I removed the old patch and installed a new one. Lulu and I have had a couple of instances where we used a patch that must have been outdated or faulty because there was no protection from mal de mer noted. In my previous experience along this line, replacing the patch worked great. While I was removing the old "new" patch, I may have found the problem. Seems that I had done a poor job and it was mostly sticking to hair and not my skin. Anyway, a new patch and a nap and I'm all back to normal, such as it is.

We finally got to shut the engine off and sail today. We're doing a respectable 6 knot average with the main and jib. And, come to think of it, the main still has that first reef in it. The seas continued to be bouncy but the sails helped dampen some of it. Right now, we're about 45 miles from our next turn at Cabo Falso. This means we're actually 100 miles or so south of our destination, La Paz. If you bisected a line from Todos Santos to Cabo San Lucas, we'd be due west of the midpoint of that line, about 35 miles out to sea. If all goes well, we plan to round the tip of Baja sometime tonight, probably mid-night-ish, unless Keith's more exact calculations say otherwise.

Been a great trip so far. Would have been nice to have better sailing weather but we're happy anyway. Now, if the northers don't beat us up too bad going up the Sea, we'll be looking good. The GRIB files look like we should be OK if we can stay on our projected schedule.

Oh yeah, this morning, while we were bouncing along through the ocean, we were visited by a bunch of dolphins. They seemed dead set on entertaining us. Some did full-body vertical leaps in the air before flipping their tails skyward and diving back in. Others just surfed the bow wake and one, at least, did some backwards juming out of the water. That is, he came out and landed dorsal fin down. All quite cool.

That's about it for today so far. Hasta la pasta.

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: http://www.sailmail.com

Saturday, November 5, 2011

11-5-2011 - Cruising along

Well, we finally got some sailing winds yesterday afternoon and evening. Ran with the genoa, the main, and the iron jib for most of the afternoon. We were cooking along at 6 knots much of the time. Why the engine? Because the winds weren't THAT good and because we're in "let's get there" mode. We tried to listen to Don Anderson's weather report on the SSB radio but it was a pretty poor copy. We did hear him talk about 35 knot winds on the outside aaaaaalllll the way down to Mag Bay, so before we started our watch rotation we put a reef in the main and swapped the genoa for the staysail. Keith took the first watch (1900-2300) and reported a good 6 knot ride. On my watch (2300-0300) the winds continued and we just cooked along. Matter of fact we passed a cruise ship. It was all lit up like Disneyland. We approached it, were abeam of it, and then left it in our dust. Of course, there's a very good chance that they were stopped so they'd enter port on schedule. But I prefer to think we smoked 'em! Finally, in the wee hours of this morning, the winds dropped down but we still managed a respectable 5 knot average. Don Anderson's 35 knot winds never did materialize. Looking at the GRIB files, we should be getting better winds the next few days. Unfortunately, we won't be here to experience them as they seem to be filling in right behind us.

Last night, about midnight, we were at our furthest point from land, about 75 miles or so. Look at a map of Baja. You see that big spur thing sticking out onto the Pacific about halfway down? Yes? Okay, below that the shoreline makes a big scoop. When we were halfway across the scoop, we were 75-80 miles from land. Now that we've passed Bahia Magdalena (Mag Bay) we should be steadily getting closer to land as we near the tip of the peninsula at Cabo Falso.

Keith fixed chicken salad sandwiches for lunch yesterday. I heated up some heat & serve roast beef with gravy and we had that over instant mashed spuds for dinner. Then, this morning I made scrambled eggs w/diced ham and home-fries for breakfast. Keith, on a whim, made some brownies from scratch yesterday afternoon.

That's about it. We're still motor-sailing with the reefed main and staysail. The seas aren't too bad although they're far from smooth. But it's fairly warm outside (at least until the sun sets) and the sky is nice and blue today.

That's it for here for now. Hasta luego.

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: http://www.sailmail.com

Friday, November 4, 2011

11-4-2011, A little more substance

I had the morning watch (0300-0700) today and, when it got light enough to see, happened to glance down at the cockpit sole. There was something gross on the teak grate. Only the front and back pieces were intact as they were down in the holes formed by the grate. The middle portion had obviously been stepped by one of us or maybe both of us and was now just this slimy mashed substance. Looked like it might have been a small squid at one time. I cleaned it up and tossed it over the side. Later on, I was sitting on the starboard side and happened to look at the side deck. There were at least 6 small squid lying dead on deck. Flying squid? Who knew? Later, when Keith was forward raising the main, he said he threw at least 10 of them over the side.

The seas today have been pretty rolly. Pretty much like our trip down was. TGFS (Thank goodness for scopolamine). We've had the main up all along to steady the roll but, if it's working I'd hate to see what it would be like without. Last night on my 1900-2300 watch, the wind started piping up a bit. Too dark and too late to consider sailing. However I was watching the main and watching the winds build and thought that reefing the main might be something we should do. You know what they say, "The time to put in a reef is when you first think of it". I hated to wake Keith up but that's how it had to be. He was grateful that I had. We rolled up to the equivalent of the first reef which calmed the ride down a bit. By the time we were done it was nearly time for Keith to come on watch. I had NO trouble dropping off to sleep.

Today, we're getting a little bit of a breeze. Certainly not enough to sail in if we want to reach La Paz by the 13th, but hopefully enough to help the engine out. The engine was heating up again and by the time we had the RPMs down enough so the temperature would drop, we weren't going very fast. Once the temp was down, Keith started experimenting with raising the RPMs a little at a time. So far so good. However, we also decided to unreef the main and unfurl the jib as the wind is putting us on a reach. We've picked up maybe a knot. Won't know for sure until we do the cipherin' a little later. Hard to rely on the GPS speed calculation because it swings all over the place (sort of like the GPS antenna is doing).

Keith made chicken salad sandwiches for lunch along with a couple apple wedges on the side. Just finished chowing down.

The seas right now are grey as can be and so is the sky. Pretty warm, though (the air, not the seas).

Tried to listen to the Southbound net last night but I didn't get the SSB tuned in time and I have my doubts whether or not we'd be able to hear him anyway. We listened for the Chubasco net this morning and the Baja California Net a little later but didn't get anything readable from either one. We'll try Southbound again tonight at 6:00 PM. Tomorrow morning we'll try for Amigo and Sonrisa nets.

This boat is really nice and has lots of storage, room to move around, etc. But the thing that I like the absolute most is that I can sit at the settee writing e-mails and still be able to look out the window and see something besides the inside of the bulwark. Chamisa's radar is kind of fun but I'm not convinced that we need radar yet. Especially since we already have AIS. In short, nice as Chamisa is, I am not lusting after a larger boat.

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: http://www.sailmail.com

11-4-2011 Day 3 or is it 4?

Things are still going smoothly out here off the coast of Baja California Sur. Pretty sure that we're either halfway done or very close to it. The autopilot continues to work great until it suddenly decides it doesn't want to anymore (parents of young kids will recognize the syndrome). So, we just give it a time-out for 10-15 minutes and so far it has always decided to behave properly when we release it from time-out.

The engine has heated up a bit occasionally. So far we've been able to restore it to it's proper operating temperature by slowing down a bit. Since we don't have a tachometer right now, we have to guess at engine speed. We think the bungee that's supposed to hold the throttle lever in place is causing it to increase our speed at such a slow rate that we don't register the change in pitch.

Last night and so far today have been quite rolly-swelly. Makes us feel like a couple of lumbering idiots as we try to gracefully move around, only to be sent one way or the other by the force of the swells on the boat. Last night was the first night that we've had winds that might have been strong enough for sailing. But, it was too dark to start rigging sails then and, besides, it died off after awhile.

Not really much to report. Very little wildlife spotted since my last report. Can't see land as we're too far away and, besides, it's very hazy over there. We stand our watch rotation, eat lots of food, get some reading in, record our position, speed, course, etc. every hour, send out a SPOT signal every 4 hours, check and send e-mail and position reports and that's about it.

At about noon today we will have completed 3 days.

Hasta later.

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: http://www.sailmail.com

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

11/2/2011 - Day 1 & 2, Ensenada to La Paz

Wednesday, November 2nd @ 1:50 PM

We're currently about 30 miles off the Pacific coast of Baja enroute from Ensenada to La Paz aboard Chamisa, a Westsail 42 owned by our friends Keith and Kay. As I have probably already written, Kay injured her shoulder recently. This was putting a crimp in their plans to sail Chamisa south from Long Beach California to La Paz, Mexico. So I volunteered to crew for them. And that's why I'm currently 30 miles off the Baja coast instead of in La Paz drinking a cold brew and trying not to let the heat bother me.

We left Long Beach at 10:30 AM on Sunday. Almost exactly 24 hours later we entered the port of Ensenada where we got cleared in to the country, had a restaurant meal and then spent the night. We left Ensenada on Monday at about 11:00 AM. Well, it was later than that after we got fueled up but let's say we left around 12:30 PM.

So far, the trip has been pleasantly uneventful. We did have to put up pwith a lot of fog during the night on the trip from Long Beach to Ensenada. Fortunately we've had no fog since. We've had basically NO sailing wind so far (what else is new?). The GRIB files I downloaded earlier today show the wind filling in later this week. However, by the time they do we'll be well south of where the wind's going to be blowing. Fortunately, Chamisa's engine is running fine. About the only issue we've had has been with the autopilot. For some inexplicable reason, it decides to follow its own path every so often. So far the fix has been pretty easy: shut the power to it down at the breaker, let it rest for 15 minutes to a half hour and then start it back up. It's worked every time so far. Oh yesh, and we lost the tachometer on the engine control panel so now we're just running by the sound of the engine and the speed we expect to attain at 2000 RPMs.

Yesterday, after leaving Ensenada, we were sitting in the cockpit hoping to see a whale. And then we did. A mother and calf not too far off our starboard beam surfced long enough to take a breath. They swam just a little ways away and then sounded, giving us a beautiful two-fluke show. Unfortunately, no cameras were handy. We saw a bunch of whales after that, I'd guess maybe 2 dozen in all. I got to see one jump out of the water. Looked just like the logo from that insurance company (can't recall the name). Because of their acrobatics, I'm pretty sure these were humpbacks. Oh, and there was also the little hump on their backs that gave me a clue. They seem to be headed north.

Last night was pretty boring. We had a few boats to watch for awhile but through most of the night it was just us. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. A boring passage is a safe passage.

Well, I'm going to send this out on Sailmail later this evening so you'll get this blog through the miracles of HF radios and the internet. What a wonderful world.

PS: if you were following Siempre Sabado's movement on Yotreps (back when we moved occasionally), you can follow Chamisa's progress on Yotrps by clicking the link to Siempre Sabado. We're using my account until Keith's Sailmail account is activated.

PPS: I'm unable to receive blog comments until we're back in internet land so don'y think I'm just snubbing you.


radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: http://www.sailmail.com

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Day 1: Long Beach to Ensenada

The trip from Long Beach was uneventful. Could have done it in my dinghy, although it might have taken a wee bit longer. After fueling up, we left my former USN home port at about 10:30 AM. Seas were almost flat if not totally flat. It was sunny and warm. Well, not warm like I've gotten used to but warm enough. We motored along at 5-6 knots with the main flying for stability, although we didn't really need it.

Chamisa has a SPOT personal satellite locator onboard so we sent a signal as soon as we cleared the harbor so that Lulu, Keith's wife, Kay, and my mom among others could track where we were. We plan to send at least two SPOT messages daily during the trip.

Keith made ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch.

The autopilot, which had been giving Keith trouble before, seems to be working fine (no leaking fluid), with one minor problem: every 8 hours or so, it decides to follow its own path. The fix has been easy: turn it off and back on again. The first time it happened was just as we were leaving Long Beach. Next time it was just before I came on watch at 11:00 PM. Then it happened again a few minutes before we got in position to enter Ensenada harbor. We always caught it within a minute of it "glitching". If this is the worst thing that happens, we'll be doing just fine.

Later in the afternoon, we got a little more wind. It was enough to justify a headsail in addition to the main. Wasn't enough to just sail but, with the added push of the sails we could slow the engine down (saving fuel) and still maintain 6 knots. However. later in the afternoon we rolled the staysail back up as we lost what little wind we had and didn't really want to get caught having to take it down if it started blowing hard during the night.

For dinner we ate the last of the green chile casserole I made the day before. Got some serious mileage out of that: 2 dinners and a breakfast. We started a 4-on, 4-off watch schedule at 7:00 PM with Keith taking the first watch. The deal is, when you're on watch, you wake your relief up 30 minutes before his watch. This gives the off-watch guy a chance to wake up, maybe make some coffee or something, grab a few snacks to stuff into his pockets and still make it on deck in time to take the watch.

Can't speak for Keith's watch but mine was totally uneventful. Well, it was way foggy the whole time and that was a strain. However, Chamisa has radar so that helped some. It was also pretty chilly. Had long johns, sweatshirt and foul weather gear on. I mean, it wasn't COLD but it certainly wasn't warm. Four hours doesn't seem very long but when Keith came on watch at 3:00 AM, my rack looked mighty inviting.

The next morning (Oct. 31), Keith came to wake me for my watch but, since it was 6:30 and he had no intention of going back to bed, he said I could sleep longer if I wanted, which I did, although only maybe another half hour or so. We were scheduled to arrive in Ensenada about 11:00 AM at the rate we'd been going.

The sun started warming things up and helped to burn the fog off and we were able to shed a few layers of clothes. By the time we had dropped the main and were getting into position to enter the harbor, it was sunny and mostly clear. And fairly warm. We decided to go to Cruiseport Village Marina, having gotten glowing reports about it from fellow cruisers. Finding the entrance was a little tricky but we did it. Tied up temporarily to what is called the "Megayacht Dock" and went up to get a slip assignment.

The office was technically closed but there was a guy working there (probably an IT guy - they always have to work during the rest of the office's lunch hour) who told us that the people we needed to see would be back at 12:30 PM. Oh, that reminds me: did I mention that we arrived at the mouth of Ensenada harbor at 10:30 AM? Almost exactly 24 hours after we left Long Beach. The trip was about 140 miles so we averaged 6 knots. Not bad. We had calculated, for planning purposes, to arrive in the late afternoon averaging 5 knots.

But I digress. Back to the marina office:

Jonathan, the young and very competent manager, finally returned at about 1:30 or so. he had been taking some other cruisers through the clearing in procedures with immigration, port captain and customs. When he finished with them he turned his attention to us. We told him that, since the Port Captain closes at 2:30 we'd probably wait and check in tomorrow. He said, "No, let's go do it today. I think we can probably make it." Wow, what an optimist. He got busy with the paperwork and then we jumped in his car and headed down to the offices. It was now after 2:00. The beauty of having a local who knows the ropes with you is that he also knows the language and the people behind the counter. he got stuff done that there was no way we could have gotten done in the same amount of time. What a treat.

By 4:00 or so, we were all checked in, including getting fishing licenses, and were on our way back to the boat (Jonathan had to leave to clear up some minor crisis at the marina) and in search of food. We ate at a seafood place that Lulu and I ate at a year ago when we were here. Good food.

Finally back at the boat we had showers, did a little internetting and hit the rack about 9:00.

Today, having gotten our paperwork done yesterday, we plan to head out whenever the fog lifts. If it's like yesterday, that'll happen somewhere around 10:00AM or so and we should have a window of a few hours before it closes back in again. First stop will be the fuel dock at Coral Marina and then out to sea we go.

I'll try to keep these blogs updated on a daily basis using the HF radio but no promises. Many things can go wrong with communication that have absolutely NOTHING to do with boat or crew safety so don't fret if I don't check in for awhile. The weather predictions right now look like it's going to be a calm, motoring trip the whole way to Cabo.

Meanwhile, back on Siempre Sabado, Lulu reports that she's using her time well. She's cleaned the entire outside (from the decks up) and has now cleaned every nook and cranny inside as well as oiling every stick of interior wood except the overhead, which is varnished. Now she's looking forward to getting some sewing projects done. No barnacles growing on that girl. And NO, you can't have her and she doesn't hire out so don't ask.

Until next time...