Monday, 28 November 2011

la cruz-ing it

On our way to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle - We had... Light winds (out came the colourful gennaker), strong winds (time to reef that sail... NOW), lightning (from afar, thank goodness). A touch of rain (refreshing), extreme heat and sunshine (buckets were sweated), and boisterous seas (oh yeah, we were rockin' and rollin'). And yet again, we arrived at night (jitters). We made better time than we expected (wow!)... 

We are settling in nicely after a 3-day passage, (phew). Our first day included wandering the town (in the middle of the day, silly, silly gringos); buying cold beers (okay, not so silly), and sharing them with friends on SV Wondertime, (getting smarter). A taco stand later (good find Sara and Michael!), and a row in the dark, (bonus points for Rick: He turned on the anchor light before we left). Time for sleep, (yawn). End of story. (For now.)

Thursday, 24 November 2011

honey, i've got a feeling we're not in magdalena bay anymore

We went from this....

Puerto Magdalena shore

The tiny pueblo, a fishing village where electricity is turned off at
10:30 p.m.

To this....

Swimming among cruise ships and jet skis, trying to not get run
over (Today's cruise ship is anchored, much closer... Yikes!)

Can't get rid of them loud and crazy jet skis, luckily they
disappear after dark

Well, this sure ain't your little pueblo

In the end, we adapted...

Post-swim or is it pre-swim?
We lost track

A dolphin's eye view

on the way to loco-land

When there still was wind...
We had planned to go straight to Banderas Bay, but the forecasted winds disappeared after the first 24 hours. We decided to brave Cabo San Lucas after all. Arriving at night, was a little unnerving, (no sailor I know likes to navigate an unknown anchorage in the dark.) But the large cruise ship in the bay was easy to avoid... Here are some photos of the passage.

Leaving Bahia Magdalena

When you've got an itch, you've gotta scratch
Rick hanging out with dolphins at the bow

Cooking underway

Another sunrise shot, can you blame me? 

Our nighttime approach to Cabo San Lucas

zen and the art of sail maintenance

Erratic winds, and a flogging sail hugging the spreaders. Unfortunately, a little too eagerly.

Perhaps I should have combed my
This happened before we got smart and finally added spreader boots to the spreaders.1 The sail maintenance kit had to come out. Luckily the sail itself did not tear, but the strip of fabric that acts as UV protection when the sail is furled did get a good size tear in it. I got a large needle, waxed sail twine, and the palm, (what Rick cheekily calls a manly-man’s thimble). After piling some cushions on the cabin top, I made myself comfortable and started sewing, while Rick tackled wiring and installing the antenna of our new Shortwave Radio receiver.

My Zen perch
When living on a sailboat, it is pretty much a guarantee that whatever task you undertake will demand a serious time commitment on your part. Laundry is a multi-hour hand-wringing affair, groceries can take all day, (rowing, walking, carrying, cleaning, stowing)… Hand-sewing a foot-long tear on a sail and other minor repairs, can take 3 hours. At least that’s how long it took me.

Not bad for a beginner
Yet, I enjoyed sewing tidy little herringbone stitches along the tear, occasionally pausing to stretch my back while glancing toward shore where ant-sized figures busied themselves. This particular chore was relaxing. Mindfulness while doing menial tasks can be pleasant. The conveniences of land are no longer a part of our daily reality. This means we do things by hand, often with simple tools. As clichéd as it sounds: A job well done is well worth the effort and the sense of accomplishment. (Okay, I might leave fixing the head out of that equation…)

1 In this case, they are rubber boots that cover the tips of the spreaders, (the cross bar on the mast). They can also be made of other materials, such as leather. These are useful in order to protect the sails from wearing and shafing on hard edges.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

warmish waters and freshish produce

Puerto Magdalena
We arrived in Magdalena Bay early Friday morning after a pleasant 3-day passage. The entrance was dotted with pangas; the local fishermen were already hard at work while we were dreaming of laying our heads on soft pillows. We dropped the hook next to the small pueblo (village) named Puerto Magdalena. We recognized a few of the boats anchored nearby. Not long after our arrival, SV Wondertime invited us and a few other boats to a beach celebration of their youngest daughter’s birthday. Fatigue would have to wait. It was time to go have fun! How could we resist walking down to Bahia Santa Maria for our first official dip in the ocean, including a good dose of sunshine and good company?

Following the call of the water
It was a long way to shore where the road to Santa Maria begins; the extensive row was avoided with a tow from SV Eagle’s Tom and Jeannie. It felt a little like cheating. (We got over it.) The walk from Mag Bay to Santa Maria was along a dusty road. Debris, some burnt some not, littered the sandy banks in haphazard piles. It seemed out of place. Eventually the garbage thinned, and we glimpsed the ocean past old lobster traps. Our 2-mile trek through the detritus was rewarded with the lovely panorama that is Bahia Santa Maria. Our first swim in the ocean was refreshing after a walk in the bright sunshine. At last, water warm enough to swim in: 23.7 degrees Celsius – Refreshing without being bone-jarring.

Oh yeah....
Happy sigh
We continued celebrating Holly’s birthday with a mahi-mahi dinner and cake aboard Wondertime. Good conversation, margaritas and cheap wine made for a fun, relaxing evening with the lovely Wondertimers. 

On our row home, I was having trouble directing Rick to our boat. The lights of the pueblo blended just so with our anchor light. That is, until the entire village just… went dark. Someone had flipped a switch. The generator was now off, no more electricity. Suddenly, it was very obvious where Nyon was. Our oars created a bio-luminescent show in the water around us as we headed toward sleep.

Leah taking the lead toward her little sister's birthday cake

Young fisherman
This modest village is much smaller than Turtle Bay. It is littered with fishing nets, old whale bones and rusted metal. The houses vary from crumbling buildings that are unevenly patched up to freshly painted plywood or cinder block abodes.  The one-room tienda (store) is in a tiny, non-descript white house; we would have walked right by it had someone not pointed the way. The store had just received a delivery. We picked up some fresh provisions… garlic, avocadoes, tomatoes, bananas… Our craving for fresh produce was to be satisfied at last! The señora who sold us our goods was giggling at our Spanish, adding that she spoke no English for it was a hard language to learn. I agreed, having had to learn it myself at the age of 12. English makes no sense at all. Now, if only I could make more sense in Spanish…

Home Sweet Home
The rest of our stay in Mag Bay was mellow. It involved boat chores, exploring, baking, reading and writing. We considered going straight to Banderas Bay, and even planned our passage for that. When the wind died near the bottom of the Baja Coast, (contrary to the predicted forecast), we chose to face the insanity that is Cabo to get some better provisioning, fuel and a swim or two before moving on.

Monday, 14 November 2011

bahia tortugas snapshots

As we row to shore, dolphins and pelicans are everywhere. We love the dolphins who swim by the boat regularly... We like the pelicans from a distance. They particularly like hanging out on the boat in the photo below; the stench as we row by is rather potent, inspiring us to row quickly past it!

Dolphins frolicking in the anchorage
Pelicans and cormorants chillin' out
The dusty main drag of Bahia Tortugas

Remember those tamales? Here is the chef! Magdalena is warm and effusive, plus, she makes the best tamales!

The lovely Magdalena with Rick
By Monday afternoon, many boats left the bay to go further south, we'll be following them early Wednesday morning, when the winds hopefully pick up. While ashore, Leianne and Dave organized a piñata party for some of the kids in the town... We pitched in, but headed off to get our provisioning done, and missed the piñata action. We hung out with a few boaters, as well as Hector, Kalel, and Rogelio - we were also joined by Pampa, (Rogelio's nephew), who made some yummy ceviches and even let me help!

Dueling cameras with Kristy from SV Liahona
The boys enjoying their piñata candy
Pampa and Kyra shucking choros for one of the ceviches.
Choro is what they call a mussel here
Rogelio looking very serious in this
picture, (he actually smiles a lot)
Pampa filleting a bonito for a
delicious ceviche! Raw fish, yum!
Kalel and Rick discussing Cabo

a little rain must fall

As we were getting ready to go ashore yesterday, we were greeted with this... Are we still in the desert-like Baja? I'm confused... The rainbow afterward was nice though. Today the sun is shining. Many boats are heading south. We're planning on following them tomorrow. Warmer waters await...

The lovely aftermath

The next day, the sun shines once again

Friday, 11 November 2011

i left my pride in turtle bay

And it’s okay.

It was a peaceful morning...
Oh yeah. We had an audience. We had surf. A mistimed launch. A panicked leap out of the dinghy, (that would be yours truly). It was a big wave okay! And oh, look! A dinghy full of water, a runaway oar and Rick also scrambling away from the water... Why? He had forgotten to put his I-phone in its waterproof bag and realized it in the middle of the drama. Here I was, hanging onto the dinghy, the very heavy dinghy at this point and watching an oar float away. While Rick eventually retrieved the oar, Mark from the Three Hour Tour catamaran, came to the rescue... (Nope, we didn't have our bailer in the dinghy, uhm... Oops?) He had one. Bonus points for Mark! Demerit points for Nyon! There was cheering from the patio nearby, where a large group of sailors was gathered. Moments before, we'd been hanging out with them, our pride intact. I took a bow. What else can you do in times like this? We laughed at ourselves, drenched and semi-embarrassed. Mostly we just left our pride on shore, and somehow, that was liberating. 

So in case you were wondering, Bahia Tortugas is a very social anchorage. We have met interesting voyagers since we have arrived. Everyone has a story. Some discovered sailing recently, others grew up on the water. Some had to pinch pennies to make the dream a reality, others, not so much. Some are young, some are older. But we all sail with the same wind and share similar triumphs and tribulations when we're out there. I love the stories.

Rogelio's outdoor bar, with the pier
in the background
The locals are friendly too. Rogelio, who runs a little beach bar-shower-internet-hang-out is friendly in a quietly laid-back way. We discuss language, our backgrounds, my shy amigo, (that'd be Rick). There's Kalel who's English puts my Spanish to shame, and Miguel the t-shirt collector and coffee drinker. Walking down the dusty streets of Bahia Tortugas, you nod, greet passers-by with a Buenas Tardes or Hola and a smile.

Rogelio's on Friday afternoon: A mish-mash of cultures, landlubbers and sailors. A bottle of beer at Rogelio's is 15 pesos, (that would be $1.13 Cdn)...  A dangerously cheap price, especially on a warmish afternoon where you're busy just hanging out... The tamale lady came by - I call her that for lack of knowing her actual name, she was busy handing out the most amazing tamales for a tiny fee of 10 pesos a piece. She told me that these tamales were a special family recipe. Let's just say, she was popular. (I have since found out her name is Magdalena, she's a lovely woman and tamale-maker extraordinaire!)

And then there was our fabulous (or catastrophic) exit. Either way, it was a memorable face plant, figuratively speaking. Wonder what the rest of the weekend will bring? Less surf? Maybe we'll pay Gordo and tie our dinghy up at the fuel dock. Or we can get back on the horse as they say, and brave that surf once more...

Thursday, 10 November 2011

on kelp, whales and big hair

Bahia Tortugas, how I love thee. I'm just so very happy to be off the dock and anchored near this dusty little town. 

Monday was the big exodus from Ensenada. The weather window was good, and many boats were chomping at the bit. The line-ups were long at the migración and Capitan de Puerto offices - we were all trying to check out at the same time. 

Once we rounded the point, we sailed most of the way, only motoring for 3 hours. Rick might have toughed it out, but I put my foot down. I'm all for slowing down, but 1.2 knots in rolly seas was more than my sanity could handle. Luckily, Rick was more than willing to save what was left of it, (it was a win-win situation)! Soon we were able to set sail again. 

We were accompanied by dolphins late in the evening, and whales swam with us one afternoon. They were within 1 to 2 boat lengths, it was pretty exciting. Rick's hair became wilder as the trip went on, we figure it suits him. Go big or go home! So far he's only caught kelp with his trolling line. But we have hope. He dreams of catching mahi-mahi further south. We are practicing with kelp. At least it doesn't put up a fight. 

It was a good passage. The moon lit our nights and the sunsets and sunrises added colour to our days. Time to do some boat chores, get our flip flops dusty in the town and drink cervezas on the beach. Oh wait, we already did that with SV Wondertime! It's a good start.

After we rounded Cabo Punta Banda, we hoisted our sails
and began our 3-day passage in the sunshine

Look ma, Rick caught a... piece of kelp! (Still working
on catching our first fish!)

The hair gets wilder and wilder by day 3

One of the whales that swam with Nyon

Yep, still wearing foulies at night. T-shirts and rolled up jeans
during the day though. Last night on passage, and feeling
the fatigue.

The sunrise greeted us upon our arrival in Bahia Tortugas

Sunday, 6 November 2011

life afloat, ensenada-style

First, the skies became grey, the temperature dipped... Then the squalls started. Not quite what we expected from Mexico! Oh well, we're taking it in stride and pretending we are not blowing our budget by spending extra nights at a dock. (Anchoring out is not an option anymore.) We are patiently waiting for Monday's weather window that will send us south. In the meantime...

The city keeps on going and going. As we wander away from the tourist turf into Ensenada proper, there is a palpable  change in the energy, yet it is familiar somehow. It reminds me of my travels in Ecuador' larger cities. The sidewalks are a bit of an obstacle course, there are the ever-present taco stands, and those stands selling cheap merchandise. You find your way through small and large clusters of friends or buyers,  alleyways between colourful buildings are also crammed with cars, dogs, more people... I love it.

My buddy Dylan and I
One of the aspects of the bohemian life I relish, is how quickly you can connect with people. Remember when you were 5 years old? You would see another kid your age on the playground and ask them to be your friend. And just like that, you had a new friend. As a traveler, you get to experience these kinds of instant connections all over again. Heidi came by our boat looking for someone else in our marina. We fell into an easy conversation. Heidi is an Australian sailor. She and her husband and little boy have  been in Ensenada for a few months. Their boat is undergoing a major refit.The next day she came by with Dylan to invite us to a celebration at his Montessori School.We first invited her and Dylan aboard for a cup of tea. A while later, we were sidestepping puddles as we made our way to her car and the outskirts of Ensenada. Immersed in a Mexican world of tamales and skull face-painted children, we soaked in the lively atmosphere. We met other expats as well as Mexicans seeking an alternative education for their children. We were transplanted into a different world and we liked it. We saw Heidi, and her husband Kent and little Dylan the next day. They introduced us to Bohemia Obscura - our new favourite dark Mexican beer! Thanks guys!

We are meeting more sailors since we've arrived here. Many of them are American, with a few Canadians sprinkled in among them. It is true what they say, the cruising community is indeed very friendly. We've come across quite a few boats from the northeastern Pacific. Among them, we've met the crews of  SV Wondertime, SV Eagle, and SV Shannon. Super friendly folks that we hope to get to know better as we run into them along the way. 

Rick has begun uttering a few Spanish words out loud. Me, I'm still stumbling along. I have always liked to jump right  into a new language, whether I know it a little or not at all. Barely a week later, my brain will go into complete overload. For example, since yesterday, my Spanish has been getting worse! When I first arrived in Mexico, I was happy with how much I remembered. Now, I forget easy words. (This has happened to me on past trips abroad.) I know I just have to wait it out. In two weeks or so, I'll settle in, find my words again. And then, it'll keep getting better, (I hope). This is yet another exercise in patience. 

Alfonso's has great breakfasts. The server, was very amused at my Spanish. I learned from him that while you are eating something delicious, you can say: "Es muy bueno...". You have to wait until you are done to say "Me gustó". A woman at the Montessori school told me later that you have to be sure to emphasize  gustó, so it doesn't sound like you are extolling how much you like yourself  when you are trying to comment on the food! So many subtleties...
Evidence of Chaos: When Kyra wants to clean,
organize, and stow and Rick is making up the
berth with clean sheets.
This morning, we headed to Alfonso's once again, this time, with a large contingent of boaters heading out tomorrow. This southbound group set up a net for the SSB radio.We don't have an SSB radio, but SV Eagle offered to relay for us on the VHF. We'll be listening in on our receiver.

There's another cold front coming in Friday, we may have to skip over some of the anchorages we'd hoped to get to before Bahia de Tortugas. That bay is well protected compared to the open and lumpy anchorages north of there. We are staying open to the possibility of anchoring at least one night at Isla Cedros or nearby, before arriving in Turtle Bay. Again, we'll just have to go with the flow... And the winds. Until then, we're trying to organize the boat (again, still), and getting boat chores done.

The operative words are: Stowing, fixing, losing, cursing, finding, breaking, fixing, hugging.

A big shout out to Rogelio - Baja Naval dockmaster extraordinaire! Always ready for a laugh, unfailingly helpful and patient. We are glad to have crossed paths with him. (Even if he teased me mercilessly... Rick may add, especially because!) Muchas Gracias Rogelio!

A net is an on-the-air gathering of radio operators, (sailors in this case). Most nets convene on a regular schedule and specific frequency. They are often organized among sailors traveling in a particular area, to touch base, relay messages, discuss weather, and for emergencies. It makes me wish we had an SSB radio...


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