Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy Holidays

A few days before Christmas we drove down to Costco in Cabo via Todos Santos, a lovely town on the Pacific side of Baja California.  We ate lunch at Hotel California in Todos Santos before our big shopping expedition at Costco.  Having looked at the map which shows a possible round trip by heading down the Pacific side and returning to La Paz on Hwy 1 on the Sea of Cortez side, we set off on Hwy 1 at 3:30, hoping to arrive in La Paz by 5:30.  The road is a mountain road (not clearly identified as such on the map) with slow trucks, motor bikers, and sharp curves.  We arrived at "home" ar 7:30!  The scenery was beautiful, however!

Christmas came and went.  We had a nice breakfast aboard Damiana with Sue and Alex of Maitairoa and Lynda and Bob of Tahoma.  We served Roy's Kringle with, OJ, scrambled eggs, fruit and coffee.  We also had fresh fruit from Maitairoa, included fresh strawberries!  A little later in the day, about 17 people from 9 boats showed up for a potluck that we organized here at our marina which is quite distant from town.  We served the turkey mentioned in an earlier posting along with cranberry sauce, potatoes and carrots.  Roy made turkey broth, currently frozen in cup portions in our freezer.

Since Christmas we've shopped even more in town, including gifts for Cambria's birthday on January 20.  After driving around for 30 minutes we finally located UPS.  They couldn't take the package until we had it cleared through Mexico customs.  So we went to customs and realized that we needed to have a shipping box (we thought UPS would have sold us one) so we went to a shipping box store, bought the box and went back to customs around 4 pm -- closed! Back to customs the next morning, then to UPS and finally got it shipped off.

Yesterday we went to the marina office to pay our last bill (planning to leave early Monday morning), made arrangements to park our car near their office and Lupita suggested that we have a cover for it.  So, off on another adventure trying to locate Auto Zone.  Roy had a recollection of seeing one in recent history, and thought it was on the way out of town on Hwy 1.  After driving for a few miles past the commercial area we realized it wasn't there -- so on the way back into town we stopped and asked someone.  He shook his head, knowing what we wanted but couldn't tell us in Spanish that we understood -- we just headed back into town.  Lo and behold, Auto Zone is right next door to UPS!  No wonder it's image was stuck in Roy's head!

We're so glad to have our car here so we can have all these fun adventures.  Tomorrow we leave, heading north toward Loreto where we'll pick up Len and Norma on January 16.  It's raining today, we expect mild (10-15 kt) north winds for the next several days, but we'll take it slow and easy.....

~~~ Marlene & Roy ~~_/) ~~

track our route:

another tracker - input KG6UHL and choose 30 days:




Friday, December 21, 2012

Progress

One of our last projects to do before leaving La Paz was installing a new membrane for our watermaker.  Roy often comments about he becomes a human pretzel while working on our boat, especially plumbing.  The watermaker is installed under the forward bunk.  While his head and hands are under the bunk, his torso is on the floor of that stateroom and his legs are inside the bathroom!

All but a few projects to complete before we take off.  Strong northerly winds would make departure at this time unwise anyway, so we work at a leisurely pace and find time to spend with friends and hanging out in La Paz.

We were happy to spend some time, albeit a very short time, with Rob and Linda of Cat'n About.  A few dinners out, some shopping expeditions and a few hands of Baja Rummy, and before we knew it, they were off on another month-long job to deliver a mega yacht.  One of our evenings out included Lynda and Bob ofTahoma at Los Tamarindos, highly recommended by Alex and Sue of Maitairoa when we dined with them at Rancho Viejo.


Neighbors from Santa Maria, Ken and Ruth and Ruth's sister, Kathy, were visiting La Paz this week from their vacation condo in Cabo. We had a fun time introducing them to fish tacos in a typical open air lunch spot in downtown La Paz.

Christmas is approaching, so the grocery stores are stocked with fresh veggies and turkeys.  Today we purchased a "natural turkey" 12 pounds for $15.16.  Food costs here are substantially lower than in California.  For instance, limes cost 2 cents each, 6 tomatoes for 36 cents, 12 oranges for $1.30, 5 bananas for 65 cents, cantaloupe sold by the pound costs $1 per pound.


We plan to drive down to Todo Santos tomorrow, have lunch, then continue on to the Costco near San Jose Del Cabo to stock up on several items that will be impossible to find once we're north of Santa Rosalia, about one month from now.

~~~ Marlene and Roy ~~_/) ~~

Monday, December 17, 2012

Flood!

After a nice evening out with friends, we returned home to Damiana early and for once, had showers and were in bed by 9:30 p.m.  This was good news since we'd had several late nights and were looking forward to a good night's sleep.

Around 10:30 p.m. we woke to the noise of our water pump running non-stop.  We'd heard this noise twice before (last year) -- it means big trouble -- the water supply pipe under the sink in the galley became disconnected.  We turned on the light in our bunk and the floor was flooded -- ankle deep!  What next?  Everything in the lockers near the floor in our stateroom, everything in the lockers near the floor in the guest stateroom and the kitchen cabinet under the sink were under water!  First: turn off the water pump circuit breaker.  Second, bail out water in the floor of our stateroom by tossing it into the motor compartment and having the bilge do its job.  Then, removing everything from the lockers (Roy handing them one at a time to Marlene who sorted them by degree of wetness), including a huge number of boat parts, shoes, and several bottles of wine.  Once empty, Roy sopped up remaining water in the lockers while Marlene removed everything from under the sink.

Once the water was removed, Roy got out plumbing supplies and fixed the problem.  Marlene started setting motor supplies, hardware, belts, o-rings, tools, filters, out to dry both on the salon table and on the seat in the cockpit and  hung pads and other cloths out to dry on the lines.

By midnight we had our flood under control.  Being creatures of habit we were awake by 6 (Marlene) and 7 (Roy) so went on our usual 2 mile walk before breakfast and spent the rest of the morning drying things still damp, putting away those we could, and as I write this Roy is using WD40 on saws and other metal tools.

Hopefully this time, the repair is the final one (we brought down a bunch of new plumbing supplies that were put into action last night).

Another "adventure" on Damiana!

~~~ Marlene and Roy ~~_/) ~~


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Rain!

Rain was predicted for today, even thundershowers.  During our morning walk to the lighthouse the sky was cloudy, the temperature a little cooler than yesterday, but we weren't convinced that we'd have a lot of rain.  Miguel, who has been polishing Damiana came by around 9 a.m. to continue his job, went to the tienda to get a bottle of water, got back to the boat and, oops, the first drop of rain.  He left, hoping to return tomorrow.  And here we are, 5 p.m. and it's still raining, no thundershowers yet, but a very dark cloud looms overhead.  What to do on a rainy day?  Read a book, peruse the internet (Roy) bake some brownies, set up bread dough for baking tomorrow.  That, plus listening to soft jazz -- a nice quiet day "at home" on Damiana.

~~~ Marlene and Roy ~~_/) ~~

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tis the Season

A bunch of cruisers have purchased gifts for children at Rancho San Antonio, the poorest area of La Paz.  The children wrote letters describing what they would like.  The little girl that wrote our letter asked for sturdy long pants.  Two days ago while out at Walmart with Rob and Linda we found wrapping paper, ribbon, and gift bag.  The one high end department store had Levis for 559 pesos (close to $50 U.S.).  We put a "nix" on those, especially since the letter specified "economical."  So yesterday, Rob and Linda and we went downtown to shop for pants.  We first went to Sears and found a very cute pair but they were priced at 319 pesons, still a lot, so we did an exhaustive search at many stores within a four block area but didn't find anything that was anywhere as sturdy or cute as the pair at Sears.  When we went back to Sears and had them rung up we were pleasantly surprised to learn that they were included in a 20% discount promotion, costing 255 pesos, a price similar to some of those that weren't quite as nice in the other stores.  Our gift bag includes a box of pencils, a flashlight and spare batteries. We were asked to include a  letter with our gift and have it written in Spanish.  Gabe, the manager at Costa Baja Marina, where Damiana is currently located, is helping with that!

Small world time:  During our search for pants, Roy's stomach alarm went off (signaling lunch time), so we went to a "food court" in downtown.  This is a roofed, but open air place that has about 8 or 10 different vendors with a few picnic tables near their counters.  Each vendor has a menu board.   Near the entrance was a table with a Mexican family plus two English speaking women eating lunch.  One of the women looked at the 4 of us and said, "this place is good, we ate here yesterday as well."  She moved closer to  her friend on their side of the table and the Mexican family scrunched together to accommodate us as well.  So we're sitting there, talking with the two women who mentioned they were from Nanaimo, B.C. and had driven down west coast, the Baja (we compared stories) and planned to take the Ferry across to Mazatlan the next day and then continue on to Manzanillo.  We asked them "what is the attraction in Manzanillo?" since that town is mostly an industrial port town, not a highly sought after tourist destination.  One of the woman said, "well, I have a house there."  Turns out that she knows MJ and Stan (previous cruisers -- Solmate) who we had reconnected with earlier this year.  MJ and Stan have set up permanent residence in Manzanillo and are engaged in a variety of local activities, most notably PATA, an animal welfare organization.  Stan provides weather reports for cruisers we well.  These two women claimed they met some of their friends with a boat and are quite sure they met Linda and John on Nakia as well!

~~~ Marlene and Roy ~~_/) ~~


Friday, December 7, 2012

A little bit of socializing...

Our friends, Rob and Linda on Cat'n About, arrived in La Paz yesterday.  Already with plans to meet with Bob and Lynda on Tahoma for dinner at a Chinese restaurant, the six of us enjoyed a reunion -- had been several years since all of us were together at the same time.  Dinner, then Paletas at Michoacan next door to the Bus Station on the Malecon, then a walk around town made for a perfect evening.  More galavanting tonight, but in the meantime, the usual chores.  Roy is rebuilding raw water pumps for our motors; Marlene continues setting up everything inside the salon and galley.

This morning's walk was cooler than usual -- a sign that colder weather is on its way.  Time for long pants and sweaters!
 
~~~ Marlene and Roy ~~_/) ~~


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Jerry

Yesterday morning after breakfast and before starting in working on projects we walked first up to the marina office then back into the marina and around its perimeter to reach the lighthouse at the entrance.  A quick run into town to pick up yet a few more provisions, lunch, a few more projects, and then while taking a break in the afternoon we turned on the computer to pick up e-mail.

First email was from son, David:  Jerry, their most adorable young pup mysteriously died the night before!  This little dog stole the heart of anyone who knew him.  He was playful with everyone, always excited to greet his family members, even us.  We called and spoke with David, Linda, Amber and Cambria, all of them very broken up.  Jerry will live on in our hearts.  

This morning, in the cool of the morning, we omitted the walk to the marina office but did get out to the lighthouse: 1.7 mile roundtrip -- pretty good for a "before breakfast" walk.

Roy, unfortunately had to rebuild the other toilet today after discovering a minor leak.  Plumbing -- his least favorite job -- but hopefully it's DONE for this season!  Now on to more important jobs!

~~~ Marlene and Roy ~~_/) ~~


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Shopping in La Paz

Many people say that chances are you'll find everything you want here in La Paz.  So, I (Marlene) left at home the new set of toothbrushes that I use (Oral B vibrating).  I've been using them for a few years, have replaced them when the vibration stopped, which was about every month or two and buy them in bulk at Costco.  I had confidence that I'd find them here in La Paz -- and if not, then at Costco down at Cabo San Lucas.  After carefully scrutinizing all the toothbrushes at Chedraui (the first market we went to), we went to Mega (a bigger, better equipped super market) and found one!  Yea!  Well, I asked Roy to keep the package so I'd know what to buy next time we go to the store (mine was running out of steam and would soon stop altogether).  Curious guy that he is, he read the description in Spanish about it  having a replaceable battery.   He then noticed a separation in the base, unscrewed it, and, voila -- a AAA battery has been delivering the vibration in these toothbrushes all these years and could have been replaced -- chagrined I am.

This morning we went to the annual Subasta, a sale & auction to benefit the poorest of the poor in La Paz.  Mary from Marina de La Paz has been running this event for years and people from the community support the event along with cruisers and expats living here.  Our boat is so loaded down with more than enough of everything that we spent our time there visiting with friends.

Weather has been gorgeous -- we're pleased to report.  Nonetheless, the projects must get done, so we work on and on......

~~~ Marlene and Roy ~~_/) ~~


Friday, November 30, 2012

Roy hates plumbing!

Yesterday we aired out the boat and unpacked the car.  By late afternoon it was time to quit so we called Linda and Bob of Tahoma on the radio.  We had heard from Rob and Linda that they were back on their boat after a three year absence.  We got together with them for an early dinner and had a nice time catching up on all we've done for the past 5 years, since we hadn't seen each other since 2007.  We loved hearing about the beautiful home that they've built in Washington.  Before heading home we stopped at a grocery and picked up papaya, limes, oatmeal, and milk.

After we returned to Damiana we readied the boat for bedtime, hoping that we'd be able to sleep even though there was still a slight odor from the mildew retardant.  Uh-oh -- our toilet didn't flush -- a new problem!  Well, we're lucky that our catamaran has two toilets, so for the night time visits, we had to use the other one.

First thing this morning, Roy squeezed oranges (bought on the highway between Pto Escondido and La Paz), prepped papaya and cereal, and made coffee.  I cooked oatmeal so we had our first breakfast aboard -- it feels so good to be back in the swing of things!  Roy made fixing our toilet the priority and after grumbling and working all morning declared that it was back in working order.  I, in the meantime, got most of the rest of the galley back in shape: dishes and silverware washed, pots, baking pans and bowls put away to be rinsed before use.

Tortas (sandwiches) from the small convenience market here in the marina for lunch -- they were excellent -- and then a ride into town to visit Telcel and regenerate our internet card so we can connect directly and faster than using the marina service.

Before signing off we must mention that dinner tonight was spectacular: Mediterranean salad for me, Greek salad for Roy, we shared a ceviche at our favorite restaurant here at Costa Baja Marina.  So good that we could eat it every night!

~~~ Marlene and Roy ~~_/) ~~

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Arrived in La Paz at 5:30 tonight

We left El Rosario yesterday morning, hoping to reach Loreto, not only did we get a late start but we spent an hour or more in Guerrero Negro having a nice lunch before continuing on.  We spent last night at El Morro Hotel high on a cliff just south of Santa Rosalia.  The scenery all day long, yesterday, was breathtakingly beautiful.  Cactus of all varieties, more than you'd ever see anywhere, boulders of all sizes, palo verde trees, and mostly gently winding roads through hills and valleys.  The steep valley just before Santa Rosalia is named Cuesta Inferno.  There doesn't seem to be an understandable translation, but we think it must be something like Hell's Valley or Canyon.  The road is steeply curved for maybe 4-5 miles, from the top of a mountain down to the shore.  And the view was breathtaking, all the way down.

Today we had a special treat.  Our close cruising friends, Rob and Linda on Cat'n About, are anchored at Puerto Escondido, just south of Loreto.  We stopped off to visit them -- it's been almost two years since we last saw each other -- and after an hour of non-stop talking had to say goodbye for now so we could drive to La Paz before nightfall.  They'll be back in La Paz in about a week, just enough time for us to get Damiana back together -- so we'll have lots of time to visit, play cards, and enjoy La Paz with them.

Dusk set in around 4:30, so we didn't make it into La Paz before nightfall, but we're so familiar with this area that we continued on, drove through town to Costa Baja, the marina (and resort) where we keep Damiana.  Roy got on board and opened the hatches, removed the mildew retardant bags that were still hanging, and without any further delay drove up to the hotel on premises where we are now.  We'll move onto the boat tomorrow.

For those who were worried about our driving down, we can assure you that we saw nothing worrisome.  We were waved through 3 or 4 military checkpoints by smiling Mexican soldiers, seemingly happy to have American visitors in spite of all the negative publicity.

We have finished off another bottle of Tempranillo with Manchego and Goat Cheese and crackers, so off to bed for a good night's sleep.

~~~ Marlene and Roy ~~_/) ~~


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cactus Motel and Mama Espinoza

We stopped at the Cactus Motel in El Rosario, stayed here during our driving days with Jellybean.  Same gorgeous room with artisanal tiled bathroom, king bed, total cost 390 pesos ($30 US).  Next door at Mama Espinoza's we had Lobster Burritos for an early dinner, delicious as always.  Breakfast this morning at Mama's, then back into the car heading for Loreto.

~~~ Marlene and Roy ~~_/) ~~

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Day Two - Shopping in Ensenada

Last evening we ate almost all the cheese we bought so today we decided to head over to the local Costco, hoping that they'd have Parmesan, which we forgot to bring, as well as some goodies for tonight's wine and cheese.  Found the Parmesan, some wonderful goat cheeses, a Manchego (sheep's cheese) and also added to our cracker supply.  The woman at the winery we talked with yesterday highly recommended Manchego as the perfect cheese to accompany Tempranillo.

We were disappointed that we didn't have a group here to party with so we could buy a roll of Proscuitto interleaved with Mozzarella.  OMG, they were selling them for somewhere around $8 US.  They were made in the U.S. and labeled "for export only."  But they were bigger than the two of us could eat and we didn't think it would fare well in our insulated lunch bag "cooler" that we have with us.  Although we hadn't planned to visit the Costco in Del Cabo we might have to go there after all!

The photo was taken at lunch today.



~~~ Marlene and Relaxed Roy ~~_/) ~~

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Day One - 1012-2013 Cruising Season

All went according to plan.  Thanksgiving at Roy's Mom's home in La Habra, a quick ride to San Diego on Friday to pick up our watermaker supplies, spent the night at the Holiday Inn in SD, then crossed the border into Baja California Norte this morning.  After traveling on the toll road, passing through three toll booths, we arrived in Ensenada around 11:30 a.m.  The most unusual sight along the way was the low, white fog that complete covered the water near the shore and crept 1/2 way up the cliffs along the way.

We have a room at the Casa del Sol -- stayed here several years ago -- right in the heart of the tourist area in downtown Ensenada.  We walked up to the Santo Tomas Bodega and Cheese Shop, about 1.5 miles, bought a bottle of a varietal new to us: Tempranillo.  A very lovely bottle of wine deserves nice glasses, so we purchased 2 red wine glasses with the winery name on the base of the glass. We also bought some cheese, walked back to our room, and had our before dinner wine and cheese with crackers from our stash in the car.  After that small but delicious repast we walked along the malecon, lovely evening, fog gone, and eventually ended up at our favorite restaurant.  We ordered the most spectacular French Onion Soup (every bit as great as what we had in Montreal so many years ago) and our favorite: Caesar Salad.  We chose this restaurant because we had the Caesar Salad last year and could hardly wait to have it one more time!

There was one blip along the way.  When we crossed the border, we got the green light (meaning that we didn't have to stop at customs) but noticed that there was no sign for Immigration.  So we continued on our way to Ensenada, knowing that there is an Immigration office there.  The Immigration official issued our 180 day tourist card, but admonished us for not stopping at the border.  We told him we didn't see the sign, he said "yes, there isn't a sign, you just have to go in the line to declare customs and then they'll send you to Immigration."  We'll we didn't have anything to declare and told him we probably wouldn't ever have -- but no matter, he said, you still have to do it that way.  If we drive in again without a tourist card the fine is $220 per person.  Not only that, but they now expect visitors to turn in their tourist cards upon departure and have an office at the exit at the border.  Big changes!

We'll stay in Ensenada tomorrow and on Monday morning head down the highway, stopping at Valle Santo Tomas to visit the winery and pick up a case!

~~~ Marlene and Roy ~~_/) ~~


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Getting ready for Damiana

Hi everyone,

I'm revving up our blog since almost six months have passed since we put it in hibernation.  It's been almost a year since we've updated our website, and that remains suspended for now.  Upon our return home this year I saw a few docs for unremitting pain in my neck and left arm.  MRI revealed a mass pressing on  my spinal cord.  Urgent surgery was necessary -- unfortunately I was unable to attend Amber's high school graduation :-(  Several months of recovery and return of normal strength have passed with residual symptoms in my left arm  -- but "I'm getting better all the time."  All this to say that it has been difficult for me to spend much time on the computer, sorting and placing photos, let alone writing all the text to accompany them.

Now on to better news: Sailing!  The short story about last season is to say that we had a wonderful few months in La Cruz, another good month in the Manzanillo area, a brief return to Mazatlan.  Then we finally sailed over to Muertos, then La Paz, the Islands, Loreto, meeting old and new cruising buddies; we had a wonderful, albeit short, time before we parked Damiana at Costa Baja and returned home to California in late May.  We're working on our list, gathering supplies, and plan to drive down to La Paz right after Thanksgiving.  We were pretty good about keeping up the blog last season and hope to do so again this year -- so check it  out from time to time if you're interested in our journey up the east coast of Baja, crossing over to the northern tip of the west coast of the mainland, and then returning to La Paz via the islands.

~~~ Marlene and Roy ~~_/) ~~


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Costa Baja

That's the name of the marina where Damiana will rest, hopefully without mishap, during hurricane season.  We spent a few windy days and nights (20-27 kt winds) at a few anchorages before arriving here yesterday.  We have a full week's work to do to get everything "put away."  We fly out of La Paz next Saturday.  We'll suspend blog entries until we return.  However, while home in California we'll work on getting the website updated with photos.

Happy summer, everyone!
  
~~~ Marlene and Roy ~~_/) ~~

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

In the islands - no internet -- lots of bees

A week has passed since we were able to post anything on the blog.  We are still in the islands, and it will be several more days before this is sent in to the server -- but while the thoughts are fresh, best to get them down.

We made one quick run to the grocery store in Loreto after leaving Marquer and headed over to the western anchorage on Islas Coronados.  Several boats were there and more on their way -- we expected a few nights of beach parties.  Our friends on Mystique were not among the anchored boats so we called them on the radio and discovered they were on the southern anchorage.  We were looking forward to continuing our game of Baja Rummy with them.  Since it was late in the day we decided to stay anchored and agreed that in the morning we would talk about moving -- we or them.  I put a chicken dinner up in the pressure cooker and when the steam was released our boat was swarmed by hundreds of thirsty bees.  After being held hostage inside  for over two hours Roy exited a front hatch, walked back to the cockpit lockers and got a mosquito coil that emits smoke and a citronella candle with flame, both that usually deter bees.  It was dark before the last one finally left.  When we went to bed we agreed that since the bees know our boat they could very well return in the morning, especially if there was dew on the decks.  Sure enough, we awakened to bees hovering.  Roy went out, weighed anchor; I got breakfast ready, and we scooted over to the southern anchorage.  No bees!

We had a relaxing morning, and then after lunch Pattie and Terry from Mystique came over to visit and play cards.  We had a very enjoyable afternoon into evening, talking, playing cards, eating treats.  We hugged hasta luego since we both were leaving in the morning, heading in opposite directions.

The next day we motored over to Bahia Candeleros on glassy seas with no wind.  We stayed only one night but plan to return next season.  There's a lovely resort there and the owners warmly greet cruisers.  Cruisers have access to the swimming pool, bar, restaurant, paying only for what they eat and drink.  The guests love talking with the cruisers, as do the owners and workers, so it's a very happy place.

Alas, we are heading back toward La Paz to put the boat away for six months, so we again left in the morning, heading south.  We spent two nights in Bahia Agua Verde, having one day to do a load of laundry and visit with Barb and Gary from Hurrah.  We introduced them to our "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day," so I think Amazon  has yet another order coming their way from Mexico cruisers.

I (Marlene) am writing this as Roy drives Damiana to Bahia Los Gatos, again on glassy seas with no wind.  Los Gatos is the anchorage with beautiful red, white and beige sandstone that we fell in love with on our way north several weeks ago.  Today is Monday; this will be sent on its way when we are back in internet range.

Marlene and Roy
May 14, 2012
Sea of Cortez

Monday, May 7, 2012

Loreto Fest

Loreto Fest is an annual gathering of cruisers at Puerto Escondido on the eastern shore of Baja California. The themes are music and games.  The last one we attended was in 2006; this one was somewhat different.

The first big change is that there's a new marina in PE with spacious grounds to house all the activities.  Add ons to the marina are a small swimming pool, a pretty good restaurant and a well equipped mini market that carries frozen meats, fresh veggies, ice cream and even freshly caught chocolates (clams, not candy).  A few other changes in the festival itself:  first, the music on most nights was performed by bands imported from around Baja rather than by groups of cruisers that had banded together,  practiced their routines, and put on successful performances.  Sunday night, the last night of the gathering, was "open mike" for cruisers to perform.  By then, many boats had already departed.  Second, they eliminated Baja Rummy and instead had a few tables of Baja Canasta (reputedly originated in Minnesota) and a few tables of bridge.  We didn't compete in either.  Bocce Ball and Across the Line were played with several boats competing.  Unfortunately,  my sprained foot kept us out of that action.  There were several informative seminars, as was the case in earlier festivals, and it seems that all were well attended.   A swap meet was held in the parking lot of the new marina.  Almost all the vendors were land based and brought stuff in trucks, lots of it having nothing to do with boats.

The big plus for us was the opportunity to re-connect with old friends and meet new ones.  We discovered yet more people, still here in Mexico, that were on the '04 HaHa with us, and the biggest surprise was to meet up with couples we knew on the Caribbean side.  One of them, on the boat Rock and Roll,  said kiddingly  that they just followed along our way.

We are currently anchored in Marquer at the south end of Isla Carmen along with Mystique and a small trawler.   

~~~ Marlene and Roy ~~_/) ~~

skype: sfwoman
boat e-mail: KG6UHL@winlink.org



Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Isla Coronado

After a brief stop at the Loreto "roadstead" (that means we anchored right off the shore since there isn't a little bay) to do some grocery shopping, we sailed over to one of our favorite anchorages, Isla Coronado.  It's only six miles from Loreto but you'd never know it.  It's quiet, except for the birds and an occasional breeze.  The nights are starry, not a land light anywhere within sight.  We arrived Sunday afternoon, read a little, watched a movie in the evening -- hey, we really are on vacation!

But all too soon we were stunned back into stress mode when the watermaker started making a loud clunking noise on Monday.  Roy said it could be one of two pumps; we have a replacement for one of them, but not the other.  After pulling apart the storage area over the watermaker locker he unhooked the raw water pump, the one for which we have a replacement, and brought it up into the salon.  Not able to see a source of the problem, and fearing that our season was coming to an abrupt end,  he unwrapped the new one anyway and installed it.  Bingo!  That was the noisy pump -- yea!  We're still on vacation, for a few more weeks anyway!

Last night we joined a bunch of people on the beach for happy hour at 6 p.m.  When asked how long we've been cruising the Sea, we told them about being on Jellybean for a few years, then left in 2007, went to Florida to buy Damiana and finally returned to Mexico this  year.  Hearing that, two couples came over: the folks on Stella Blue said "we were on the '04 Ha Ha too!"  They introduced themselves as Lori and Wally and said they were on "Wild Rose on the '04 HaHa."  When I mentioned that Roy and our friend and crew, George, also a physician, went up to their boat at Cedros to take care of their crew that had fallen ill, it was "old home week." The other couple are Gordon and Vlasta who we met in Barra de Navidad in '06.

Today Roy repaired a zipper on our windshield; the anchorage emptied out since almost everyone is going to Loreto Fest at Puerto Escondido -- it starts tomorrow.  We'll head over there either tomorrow or Friday;  going to Loreto Fest will give us a chance to meet old and new friends.

~~~ Marlene and Roy ~~_/) ~~

skype: sfwoman
boat e-mail: KG6UHL@winlink.org



Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sea of Cortez, April 29, 2012

We stopped for one night along the western shore of Isla San Jose before heading further north.  What a gorgeous sight as we approached Puerto Los Gatos.  This bay is surrounded by craggy red rock hills and piles of large slabs of sandstone.  The sunset on our first night there was the most beautiful we've ever seen: bands of red, purple, blue -- the photo doesn't reveal the richness of the colors lighting up the sky, but at least we tried!  Needing provisions we reluctantly left Los Gatos yesterday, heading further north toward Loreto which has several stores.    Along the way we caught our first fish of our season!  It is a Mexican tunny.  Roy cleaned, filleted and grilled it in time for our dinner.  It has dark meat, not red like jack kreval, but is edible.  The plan is to cook the rest of the fish tonight and use it in salads and sandwiches.

Knowing we had one more stop to make before reaching Loreto, we headed for Candeleros Chico, a beautiful one-boat anchorage; this anchorage is no more than 1/8 of a mile wide.  As we were heading for the anchorage, another boat, a small trawler, had the same idea and reached it first.  We saw them look around, probably looking for where to drop their anchor, but  we wanted to get a  waypoint on our chart for another time that we might have first dibs.  As we entered the anchorage, the trawler motored out!  How lucky can we be -- first a fish and then a night in Candeleros Chico!  We spent the last two evenings watching a two part series lent to us from cruising friends: Death in Holy Orders by P.D. James, an amusing mystery.  During last night's viewing, a great burst of wind turned our boat around 180 degrees, and for the next several hours we had wind about 10 kts, gusting to 16 at times -- just the right atomosphere for watching a mystery!

We awoke this morning to see the sunrise in a window to the sea and also gorgeous reflectons on the mountains on the other side of our boat.

~~~ Marlene and Roy ~~_/) ~~

In the Sea of Cortez, finally!

It's about a week since our last entry -- I guess that means we've been pretty busy. We spent a few days in La Paz, shopping, eating out at one of our favorite restaurants, and visiting with friends. Last Friday we left the marina and sailed to Puerto Balandra, just north of La Paz. Several boats were already anchored when we pulled in, but by dusk all but ours and one other had departed. During the night another Coromuel wind blew at around 20 kts all night long, making for a restless night of sleep. Maybe those other boaters had advance notice of those typically unpredictable winds! In the morning we sailed almost all the way up to Ensenada Grande on Isla Partida. Four boats were anchored ahead of us, but by nightfall another four arrived. Yet another night of Coromuel winds with everyone waking up to see their boats heading 180 degrees from where they anchored.

Seeking to move further north to be out of the direct line of these nightly winds, we sailed up to the northern anchorage on Isla San Francisco on Sunday. Several boats were already anchored and many cruisers were sharing information about all the wildlife: one baby osprey (and its parents) nested in the rocks just above the anchorage, snorkeling and diving spots with angel fish and others. On Monday, we took a walk on the beach for a short while. Monday was very hot; we had all our shade covers up cooling down the boat from the 90 degree heat.

Tuesday the weather was much cooler. Nonetheless we had a remarkable treat: a sea turtle swam around Damiana for about an hour. Here's one of the shots. Our short video is spectacular; we'll try to upload the video on our web page during the summer update.

Then on Tuesday night we hosted a "pizza party," pretty much the same way that Bruce and Alene hosted one on Migration back in 2006! Cruisers from Spirit Quest, Jacaranda and Ponderosa came over to Damiana with an assortment of toppings. We provided the yeast dough (same recipe, Bruce andAlene!), the sauce and a few toppings. Then all the women made a pizza, all different. A side dish of sauteed zucchini and onions plus "no bake" cheesecake cupcakes rounded off the meal. You can tell when cruisers are having a good time -- the party wasn't over until 10 p.m., an hour past "cruiser bedtime," typically 9 p.m.

Wednesday has us slowly sailing again, heading north on the west side of Isla San Jose. Our big treat today was watching two whales passing us in the opposite direction, making way so quickly that we didn't have time to grab the camera. What a beautiful sight!

~~~ Marlene and Roy ~~_/) ~~

While at the islands we have no internet service. This message was written on Wednesday, April 25.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Adios Muertos, Hola La Paz

Today the weather was gorgeous, calm and warm.  We had spent several days at Muertos, enjoyed the scenery, visited with Mary and Jack on Oriana, did some cleaning, and essentially, waited for weather to calm down so we would have an easy passage to La Paz.  We motored :( all the way because of no wind and what little there was, was on the nose.  Nonetheless we opted to come into Costa Baja Marina to check it out.  We haven't been here in five years and were curious as to whether or not we'd consider leaving Damiana here instead of in Mazatlan for the summer.  Well, first of all, the scenery on the way here was eye candy.  We love the desert/water combination.  The folks at the marina office gave us a warm "welcome back," and we just plain feel good being here.  Of course, we intend to stay only as long as we need to do some shopping and then be on our way to the islands.  We've rented a car for tomorrow.  The marina office arranged it: someone will bring it to the parking lot here, come to our dock, we show them a driver's license, and when we return we just have to call the office and let them know that we're back.  Rent for the day, including insurance, is $50 -- sure beats having to take a taxi into town, going through the exhaustive paperwork, etc.  So tomorrow we'll have a chance to visit some of our favorite shopping spots and stop for a paleta.

~~~ Marlene and Roy ~~_/) ~~

skype: sfwoman
boat e-mail: KG6UHL@winlink.org



Sunday, April 15, 2012

Farewell, Don, we will miss you.

We learned last night that Don Anderson, weather guru to thousands of sailors for many years, passed away sometime during the last week. He provided comprehensive weather reports every day over single side band radio with incredible enthusiasm. We met Don in Summer 2006, spent several hours talking with him in his home about how in the world he could provide so much information to sailors not only in Mexico, but throughout the Pacific and beyond. He replied, "well, I get up at 3 a.m. and start downloading information from several sources (his website has an exhaustive list that he consulted), then I synthesize it, looking for consistencies AND inconsistencies, and then I review historical trends in places that might be heading into troublesome weather. This takes me about 3 hours, and then I start in broadcasting!" Don never wavered in his dedication to sailors. He will be missed by all of us.

~~~ Marlene and Roy ~~_/) ~~

blog: http://svdamiana.blogspot.com
website: www.svdamiana.com
skype: sfwoman
boat e-mail: KG6UHL@winlink.org

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Changing weather: changing plans

After a few more nice days in Mazatlan, socializing while letting the sprained foot rest, and noting a good weather window to cross the Sea of Cortez to the Baja, we departed Mazatlan on Monday, April 9.  We expected a 48 hour crossing, so leaving at 10 a.m. got us off to a good start.  Weather was mild for the first several hours, so mild that we didn't even raise sail.  With no wind, sails just flop around, making noise and also putting undue stress on the sails and rigging.  Late afternoon and early evening we jostled around a bit in slightly choppy waters, but nothing to complain about.  We raised the jib when we had about 7 kts of wind from the east.  Since we were heading NW, it gave us a little extra help.  On Tuesday we faced headwinds, but the water was so glassy that we had no complaints other than we had to use motors rather than both sails (jib was still up).  Tuesday evening was so calm that both us on watch charted "oily or flat seas" giving us peaceful three hour sleep shifts.  Around 10 p.m. wind picked up to 9 kts, alas on the nose, but seas were still "flat."  When we checked into the evening net we advised boats at the anchorage we were headed toward that our ETA was 4 to 5 a.m. and to please be sure to have their lights on.  Someone replied, "we have 20 kt winds here - so be careful!"

At 11 p.m. wind was now up to only 10 kts, but the sea was angry!  Short pounding swell turned Damiana into a bucking bronco!  This continued until around 2 a.m. Wednesday when the wind started increasing, first to 14, then 17 kts, still with pounding swell.   At most we were making 1-2 kts (per hour), never making it to the anchorage by 4 a.m.   At 4 a.m. we slowed the boat down by using only one motor, trying to give us a smoother ride.  By 5 a.m. we had 25 kts of wind on the nose, bare poles (we took down the jib), 4-6 foot waves.   We put up with this for another hour but by then knew it would be late afternoon at best before we could reach our destination.

So, we turned the boat downwind to Meurtos, a comfortable anchorage south of La Paz and by noon we were happily at anchor with several other boats also seeking refuge from the Corumel winds that were kicking up such a storm.  Funny thing about Corumels, they are unpredictable -- but they do occur in the southern part of the Baja peninsula and we always need to be prepared - and know where to go if you can't get where you want to go!

Even today, we saw 20 kts of wind here in the anchorage.  Hopefully we'll be able to get up to La Paz over the weekend.

~~~ Marlene and Roy ~~_/) ~~

skype: sfwoman
boat e-mail: KG6UHL@winlink.org