Saturday, December 19, 2009

Finally a post - From Banderas Bay December 19,2009

True to form, I am a little behind the eight ball with this post.  Time sure flies when you are doing nothing.  Anyway, lets catch up.....

We left Catalina on the 9th of October and spent almost a week in Newport doing boat work and staying out of the weather. It is a very protected anchorage, so we were able to get lots done. From there we went to Dana Point for another week. We had a blast there. The Wards out did themselves in the hospitality department – again. With their help we were able to provision for the trip down the coast and tie up all the getting out of the country loose ends. In between it all we took surfing lessons, the kids played, we got a little sail in, bought a couple more surfboards and in the end were ready to go.

The trip down from San Diego with the Baja HaHa had some exciting moments. We clocked a gust at 40kts on our 3rd sailing day - was wild and crazy. Josh was very seasick that day, but fine by the next day. So, we left San Diego 10/26 headed for Turtle Bay, should have taken about 2 days (so 2 nights on the water) the morning after we left, the weather forecast was not so great wind and swell wise, so the fleet (most of it) stopped at a place called San Quintin. Probably should have stayed one more day, cuz the next day was worse than the day before! But, the boat was fine and we just hung on for the ride. That day out of San Quintin a boat was surfing down a 15 footish wave and hit a whale, the whale hit them back, ripping out their rudder. The boat sank within 40 minutes. They deployed the life raft and were eventually picked up by the Coast Guard out of San Diego. The crew is fine, the boat is gone. Can’t imagine how the Captain felt as she watched the wind vane pass by her face.
We made it to Turtle Bay on Thursday late afternoon. Had a beach party on Friday, and left there Saturday by 1130. From there on it was great. We had one night of totally cool sailing the wind was 15kts or so all night under a big full moon. Pulled in to Bahia Santa Maria relatively early on Monday. Had another Beach party on Tuesday, left at the buttcrack of dawn on Wednesday and pulled into Cabo San Lucas Thursday mid afternoon. Cabo is beautiful to look at, but very touristy, expensive and definitely wild. Too many days there, and we would be checking into the Betty Ford Anchorage for rehab! Left Cabo the next Tuesday and made it to La Paz by Friday afternoon. No overnights, but 40 -50 mile days which are kind of long at a whooping 5- 6 kts. Met quite a few kid boats, some we knew from Alameda and some new. We felt like we were finally starting to unwind some.

Had lots of irritating mechanical issues from Turtle Bay to Cabo. The fitting on the engine block that holds the oil pressure gauge and a couple of other things broke off and spewed oil all over the engine compartment - that was the night before we left from Bahia Santa Maria for Cabo. Dennis was able to fix it, but in the process, we shorted out the voltage regulator, so the batteries weren't charging. Dennis hot wired the alternator so they would charge until we got to Cabo. Somewhere in there the fresh water pump on the generator died (Turtle Bay actually). We were able to find a replacement in Cabo, but after Dennis replaced the pump, the new one lasted about 20 minutes. He returned it, but they wouldn’t refund our money, so Dennis made them hook up the replacement to a battery -it did not work either, thankfully the last one on the shelf worked, and seems like it will continue to work. The engine (Izzy) had lots of overheating problems all the way down from San Francisco, seems Dennis may have fixed that -we ran it very hard 3 days in a row, on our way to La Paz, so we'll see. It is entirely possible that Izzy is just lulling us into a false sense of security....

To keep me on my toes, I have spent some quality time with Mexican government agencies. It took me about 5 hours to get checked into the country in Cabo San Lucas. A stop at the bank, 2.5 hours at immigration, a long walk to the Port Captain's office for another 2 hour wait. Such fun!! Had to get the Temporary Import Permit for the boat in La Paz. That only took 3 hours. Thankfully our friends from “MoonDance” have access to a vehicle and Carla taxied Tracie (Black Dragon) and I down to the place where that had to be done. The bus ride would have added at least 2 more hours to that process.

Fish wise, we are doing -well - 2 skip jack out of San Diego (soso eating) and a 30lb yellowfin Tuna. Josh hooked a marlin the day we were coming into La Paz. He was so funny, all excited and adrenalin rushed. Thankfully the darn thing spit out the hook, god only knows how we would have gotten on the boat and subdued it without needing stitches!!!!! We hooked a MahiMahi later in the day, but let it go because it was too skinny. Since then we have caught Sierra (yum) and another Jack type fish.

We actually had a traditional US thanksgiving with friends from Alameda. "Moondance" had access to the home of other Alameda friends that are still in SF. They are usually at their La Paz casita by this time of the year, but let “MoonDance” open up the house for them so we could have our little "fiesta de paavo" (sp?). So it was very nice - Turkey and all the usual trimmings.

One of the funniest things we have experienced thus far is the Mexican equivilent of WWF or Lucha Libre.  Yes they take it very seriously.  I wish I had pictures to post.  It was so fake, yet so funny.  The fans just added to the hilariousness of it all. 

We finally decided to say goodbye to La Paz the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  It was sad to leave familiar faces and a place we were comfortable with.  Especially for Josh, as he was able to experience more personal freedom than he has ever had.  There were lots of kids in La Paz, and he was able to run around with them alot.  There is a club house at the marina for them to hang out at, they had a campout on the beach (the Magote), a game night, a bonfire on the magote and he is our designated dinghy driver.  But, it was time to move on to warmer places.....

To get to Mazatlan we left from Los Muertos.  It is about 190 miles, so that involves an overnight sail.  We spent a beautiful day on the beach and at the resort at Los Muertos before leaving at 3am for Mazatlan.  It was a good sail and we arrived in Mazatlan in the daylight as planned.  We spent 3 days at the El Cid Marina and resort.  Josh got his first taste of the Mercado.  Not sure he realized that food didn't come from the animal in packages.....

We left Mazatlan on a Sunday evening and overnighted to Isla Isabella (a wildlife refuge) -got there about 1100a. Sadly we couldn't find an anchorage that we felt comfortable with, so decided to press on to San Blas (note to self, if ever in the same situation again, leave early enough from Mazatlan to be able to bail and reach San Blas in the daylight!). Made it to Matenchen Bay (San Blas) after dark in the rain. The next day was beautiful and humid. We took the dinghy into San Blas, Josh met up with his friend Jamie (a girl) and Dennis and I went for provisions. Jamie came back to our boat for a sleep over and surfing. They all went surfing, and I stayed on the boat and rested- I had a cold, and didn't want to make it worse. We got up and surfed the next day too, before Jamie's family came and got her on their way to the next anchorage. Of course Josh was ready to pack up and leave that minute too..... Surfing was pretty good, small waves. Dennis and Josh are both standing up etc... but although I can catch the waves, I haven't been able to stand up.

The next morning we got up and went in for a Jungle tour. Was pretty cool. Saw lots of birds, a turtle, an iguana and a couple of crocodiles - big too. The half way point was a fresh water pool for swimming, just upstream from the last croc......... hmmm maybe not. Those crocs looked like they would have no problem with that little ol’fence installed to keep them out. Liability is just not that much of an issue here.  It is a pretty spot though, lush and green.
After another dinghy ride into San Blas for Jamie's laundry (another note to self - do not try to pay your 9 yr old sister to do your laundry......) we left for the next anchorage about 8 miles away - Chacala. It was a pretty anchorage, Jamie got her laundry and had a sleep over again with us. Sadly, the surf was so big, there was no beach landing in our future and no sign of a water taxi either. So, not wanting to spend a bouncy day on the boat......

We left the next morning for Punta Mita - Is interesting our charts have us sailing on land...........Punta Mita is the northern point of Banderas Bay (home of Nuevo Vallarta and Puerto Vallarta). As we came up to round the point, we could see the surf breaking - way out from shore. It sure looked big -like Maverick big.  Gave me a severe case of heart burn. We ended up taking a very wide turn around the point before anchoring at Punta Mita. We all went surfing the next afternoon- thankfully it wasn't as bad as it looked, again I could catch them but not stand up. Josh was a crazy man - said he caught 12 waves - It is scary cool to see him up there doing his thing. Dennis and I went out the next morning hoping for smaller waves - which there were, but they were breaking closer to shore where the bottom is all rocks. I did finally manage to stand up though, so it was not an entire wash.   Because the surf was so big, we had to anchor the dinghy at the edge of the waves (maybe 100 yards from shore?). Since the wave action over the rocks was a little scary, Dennis and I  paddled our boards in to the Palapa (beach restaurant) for a late breakfast. The surf had been building as we were eating, so Dennis left to go rescue the dinghy while I paid. As I was paddling my board out to meet him, he came closer to meet me....I'm sure my expression would have been kodak moment worthy. A big wave was building up behind him, and looked like it was going to break on him. He turned the dinghy around  in time and gunned it as a just as the wave came up - He went almost vertical and said he caught air on the back side.......too close for comfort.

That afternoon we motored down to La Cruz - about 8 miles. Caught up with Jamie (Don Quixote) again and met some nice people living in the Marina. So, here we are. We'll be here in the bay through the New Year. Will probably move around some and explore. I am disappointed with the water quality, it is a huge bay, good anchoring, but I have a hard time wanting to get into it. Dennis was in scraping the junk off the bottom of the boat, and came out with little critters attached to him. Probably is related to the whole scraping thing, but eewww!!

The weather is actually pretty pleasant here, in general not as hot as I thought it was going to be, but the humidity is meeting my expectations. Actually had a cloudy day yesterday - was nice as I was working on a sewing project outside on deck. It was actually cold last night. So unlike Tracy which only has 2 kinds of weather (sunny and hot or cloudy and cool) they actually get a variety here.

We have seen a lot of wildlife - lots of dolphin and some whales.  Rumor has it that the bay here is home to many whales.  We went out today, but did not see any.  We took a 5 day cruise out to the Islands around La Paz and went snorkeling with some Sea Lions at a place called Los Isolotes.  It was very cool.  I just love it when a pod of dolphin swim with us - it is so cool, they seem humanish as they play in the bow wake.

Well, we are caught up,  I promise to try to be better, and will post pictures soon

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Acclimation and Adjusment

October 8, 2009 Avalon Harbor, Catalina Island.

Almost 2 months since Dennis retired, and the adjustment continues for all. The craziness involved in preparing to leave was probably about normal, but felt unending in the midst of it. Dennis got the windvane steering, the dinghy davits , motor lift and the watermaker installed. My work threw a most excellent party for us, we had a bbq at gate 11, moved out of storage, packed the Explorer with things for next summer and crammed more than we need on the boat AND we left when we said we were going to...

New friends and old waved goodbye from the dock. We will definitely miss you all. Thank you for your friendship, help and support. The Gate 11 folks are the poster children for the comraderie of cruisers.

Motoring down the estuary for the last time was bittersweet. Can't say that we drank the champagne as we went out the gate, but did get a picture or two. After that it was rockin' and rollin' all the way to Half Moon Bay. So much for the 5-10kt South winds - We took 15-20 on the nose the whole way, and finished off with a little rain. Took a layover day on Monday to dry out, meet up with our friends Kim and Randy from Wisconsin, and do a little boat maintenance. Nothing major, but seems something always could be done.

Tuesday it was back into the washing machine with a little fog to keep it interesting. Made Monterrey before dark (just). Went to dinner at our favorite pub at the wharf and went for provisions. Wednesday - more fog, more washing machine. Big Sur was out there I'm sure, but we never saw land until late in the day - pulled into San Simeon at dark. Thursday hooray! more fog- nicer ride or I am just getting used to it? Anchored in San Luis - actually dinghied in and walked around - bought beer and ice (staples). Up and at 'em early on Friday to go around Pt Conception. Made Coho Anchorage by 3:30ish. Up at 3AM to let out more change as the wind had clocked around 180 degrees. Saturday - more fog, but less rock and roll. Passing the oil derricks made me feel like we were reentering civilization (not necessarily in a good way). Made Santa Barbara by 1630. Roger was off to meet his family and Dennis and I showered and retired to the back deck to recouperate. Before going totally comatose, we decided we needed to go get Josh from Dana Point with a car and not the boat so that we wouldn't be backtracking. Sunday - guess what? more fog. Cleared quickly though and the drive along the coast was beautiful.

Josh stayed with our friends the Wards while we brought the boat down. Tough life for him - surfing and beach time almost every day. Lucky boy got his daddy's coordination DNA - took to the long board like he was born to it. Met up with him and the Wards at the beach Sunday afternoon, and there he was catching waves like crazy. HHMMM - where to put a long board on the boat???... Great afternoon and evening with Kim, Jim, Jake and Jenna. We really appreciate their hospitality.

Looking towards Anacapa Island from Santa Cruz Island

Back at the boat a complete family unit again! Spent 4 days on Santa Cruz Island. Met up with Mark and Vicki - new friends on s/v Southern Cross out of Oregon. Was reminded that we really are a small community out here. They had sailed with the Foley's on s/v Albatross as they came down the coast. Back to the mainland - Channel Islands Harbor on Sunday. The guys went boogie boarding --BRRRR little too cool for me.

Next two days at Marina Del Rey. Josh got an eyeful at Venice Beach. Who says all learning comes from a book? Bought a surf board! Now finding a wave -that's been a different story. Left Marina del Rey on Thursday for Two Harbors on Catalina Island. Just in time for Buccaneer Days. Lots of pirate types hanging out at the dock. A little wild, but all in good fun. Caught up with the Foley's. Everyone was happy to see some familiar faces. The boys wore themselves out whenever they got together. Monday we headed to Catalina Harbor same location as Two Harbors, only on the south side of the Island. Kind of a windy anchorage, but at least not rocking and rolling like it had been on the other side. Decided to head to Avalon Tuesday morning. Have had some fun fishing, snorkeling and hiking here. Had our 9th anniversary on Tuesday. My choice for dining out, and I chose pizza. Not something I have tried making on the boat yet. Small oven and no pan. So, pizza was a nice treat.

That catches up our travels....Thoughts to follow

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dennis RETIRES!!!

August 13, 2009 was Dennis' last day at Sandia Labs. He is officially a retiree! They hosted a very nice retirement party, that Carol and Josh were able to attend. Lots of envious faces in the crowd, mixed with the usual "I can't believe you're just going to go!' Carol finishes on the 27th and departure from Gate 11 scheduled for September 13th.

The generator project came to completion with the reinstallation of the our bed on August 8th - definitely not a plug and play addition to the boat - Dennis never ceases to impress with his knowledge and perseverence. The new gel batteries are in the cockpit and comprise the next project. Install of the rigid boomvang, windvane steering, davits and motor lift complete the list of "we would like to do before we leave" outdoor projects; computer install, storing, organizing and relearning systems are ongoing projects.

As I look back over the last 2 months, it is hard to believe the extent of the changes in our lives. We closed the door for the last time on our house on June 30th. The next day our renter and her family began their moving in ordeal.... Gotta love moving during the hottest week of the summer. It is definitely weird and somehow freeing to be so unencumbered. Having "stuff" is a difficult habit to break. I have to confess that I shed a few tears as I sent my shoes/purses/clothes to the "goodwill/garage sale" pile. (Laugh if you will, but there are girls out there that understand!)

Thus began the semi homeless stage for Josh and me - another very disconcerting feeling- and Dennis single days as a liveaboard at Gate 11. Josh took a trip to Albuquerque to see the Carmony's over the 4th. He enjoyed his trip, especially the tour of Carlsbad Caverns. Dennis moved onto the boat and Josh and I moved in with the Lowell's. Josh finished up his swim season and moved to the boat August 1. Yeah !! We are 2/3 the way there!

Josh began sailing lessons at Encinal Yacht Club on the 3rd, and is quite the independent one - getting himself to and from on his scooter Monday thru Thursday. Carol continues to live with Sue and her family - there are not words to begin to describe how much I appreciate all they have and continue to do for us. I have the "garden room" for myself and my stuff - some of which will be stored, some still in use, and some undetermined. Josh has dabbled in his home schooling work, we'll have to get serious about it pretty soon- his school skills are getting rusty. Which brings us back to Dennis being a retired person and Carol counting days.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mad Dash

June 18, 2009. Well, the race is full on. Have to be out of the house by the 1st of July! Garage sale Saturday, painting to finish, carpet being installed next Friday! Don't think I have enough boxes. Josh still has one more week of school and a month of swim team. But, on the bright side only 72 days left until we're done with the whole work thing - maybe less for Dennis. The refrigerator/Galley project is complete. It was four tourturous months for Dennis.

The canvas we ordered for our Christmas present is in place and Carol finally finished the new sail cover in May. The current project is installation of the generator. It is going under our berth, so will be interesting sleeping arrangements until it is done. The "todo" list is still pretty long, so we may join the ranks of those doing boat maintenance in exotic places sooner rather than later.

We did manage a long weekend out on the boat between projects. Pulled Josh and Francois (our Belgian exchange strudent) out of school and spent the weekend at Angel Island - Always a favorite for us. Took the ferry to Tiburon and lounged on the beach afterwards.

Francois graduated May 30,and returned to Belgium June 10th. He is pictured with his two best friends. It is quiet without him.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Countdown to Casting off

(left, new cold plate for freezer)

January 31,2009- It's starting to "spring up" here in California (daffodils will be blooming soon)and Dennis is working furiously on the refridgeration system on Evergreen. It is hard to believe we are in the final months of this phase of our lives. Trying to prepare for this lifestyle
change and maintain a land based life is not for the faint of heart. As we took down the 2008 Christmas decorations and separated into "keep", "take" and "give/toss" it really came to me how much we are downsizing and how far we have to go. So much needs to be done at each of our "homes", that if we're not careful neither will be habitable.

Evergreen is in Alameda at Marina Village Gate 11. What a wonderful neighborhood !!- I know more of my neighbors and vice versa after less than a year than I do in tracy in over 8. From words of encouragement to cookies or tools it is the best community we could have wished for.

(This picture taken from the peak at Angel Island)
We continue to field all the usual questions from our land based friends - Are you crazy? What about Josh? What about school? What about friends? What about pirates? How will you communicate? How long? How far? When will you come back? What is your plan?..........

Yes, we probably are a little crazy, but only because we are willing to take the chance of leaving the familiar. Josh is very adaptable, makes friends easily and most importantly is very bright. One does ones best to miss pirates in all walks (sails) of life - safety requires planning and we are good at that. Single side band (Ham radio) is reliable and can send email. We will set up a site for all to follow (the Morrison equivalent of "Where in the world is Carmen San Diego). We are going south and will stay until we are done - Sounds like a good plan to me.

We spent the summer redoing the teak on the outside of the boat. And, like all boat projects it escalated into reseating chainplates and removing then replacing the sailtrack (among other things). Sadly I was not present when Dennis and his friend removed 200 or so bolts from the sailtrack in 90 degree weather so I have no pictures for posterity. (who says it is cold on the coast??) The whole project finally finished up in October, it looks really good. I have some trim to finish up this spring, but hopefully it will not generate any add on projects.

The list of projects is still quite long as is the wish list. But we will never be bored or have a lack things to do. Everything we do is colored in terms of the boat - will it fit, does it fulfill more than one need or task? The latest example is Josh's Christmas present of a PS3 game. It does Josh's games, and is a blueray player. Our favorite store is Svendson's Marine in Alameda seconded by Pagano's hardware (has virtually everything).
My next project -having now crossed "start a blog" off my list is to set up a picture site at flickr.

More to come.......