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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.


Anonymous said...

Good blog. Really enjoyed it. Thanks, Love, Mom

Beverly said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Stephen and Lulu. Love the blog, love the pictures, love you.