Tuesday, 27 March 2012

the b's are in town!

Barb and Bjarne getting their cruising groove on
Dark chocolate and Saltspring Island coffee are a great way to the Nyon crew’s hearts. Although, seeing the smiling faces of two friends from home was more than enough.

We happily welcomed Barb and Bjarne aboard Nyon – and no sooner were they aboard that they got into cruising mode. Both are experienced cruisers in their own right – having sailed to New Zealand and back to Canada on their trusty 30 foot sailboat, Freya. The transition was seamless as they began lugging water jugs to the boat, accompanying us halfway across town with heavy bags of provisions, and excitedly pointing at the wildlife in the anchorage.

Motoring to our first anchorage on Isla
Espiritu, there's a Bjarne on the bow!
Our first anchorage out of La Paz was Ensenada de la Raza in Puerto Bellena (Isla Espiritu). It was memorable. But not for what you may imagine. Let's put it this way, it was so bouncy with a strong coromuel blowing, that we all ended up awake in the middle of the night, laughing in the cockpit (in that exhausted but resigned way). Ah, the joys of cruising.

The next morning we decided to weigh anchor and head to Isla San Francisco for some agate hunting, ridge hiking and i-phone diving...

A peaceful evening, before the rock 'n rolling began

Monday, 26 March 2012

a la paz welcome

Where to next?
Familiar faces. Friendly, familiar faces everywhere. That was our first impression of La Paz. The moment we arrived at the dinghy dock with our laundry and a long list of errands in tow – we were overwhelmed by a very warm welcome. We’d never been in La Paz before, yet our arrival was like one big reunion. Over and over, we ran into sailors from home, sailors we traveled with on the Pacific side of the Baja or off mainland Mexico.

Everyone had stories, tips, and advice: Where to get your laundry done, where to top up on potable water, who makes the finest tacos and burgers in town. (After four conflicting opinions, I began to think that this last topic might best be left aside as one would leave politics, religion, and what type of anchor one should use, out of light-hearted conversations among sailors.) Then again, when it comes to food, there is one way to find out who you agree with…

On our way into La Paz, we sighted
SV Clover, our sister-ship!  How 
cool is that? Shane is now on his  way
 to the Marquesas on his Lapworth 36
Everyone seemed to agree about the best place to buy ice cream. I am not much of an ice cream person, unlike Rick who once tried to represent all the food groups with gelato while we sailed off the Italian coast. I have, however, developed a very strong liking for La Fuente’s paleta de coco (coconut popsicle).

First night in La Paz
One does not go hungry or thirsty in La Paz. We shared many meals and laughter with friends. We then would recover by working on boat jobs at anchor. Yes, boat jobs were our down time, you read that right.

In the whirlwind of reuniting with old friends, we were getting ourselves ready for yet another reunion: Our sailor friends Barb and Bjarne’s arrival from Victoria! 

Nothing like a bit of riff-raffing to liven things up!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

hello baja!

Sailing by moonlight
Mazatlan - Ensenada De Los Muertos
What a freighter looks like, passing
 in the night. Yeah, Exactly.

First sighting of a sea lion since we left Baja last November.
He was happily chilling out

Where we ended up.
A place known as the "Bay of the Dead" on the Baja

After a day of getting Nyon shipshape-ish
We played

While I was reading on our beach blanket,
I had a visitor. He was 4 feet away from me and
very calmly walked away after a while

Half of the SV Wondertime crew. Leah had a blast flying our kite
with her  dad (One of the reasons we stopped at the Bay of the
Dead, was to say goodbye to the Wondertimers who are now
on their way to the Marquesas

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

in hindsight

‎'Rely not on the teacher, but on the teaching. Rely not on the words of the teaching but on the spirit of the words. Rely not on theory but on experience.'
-Siddhartha Gautama 

I'm turning blond, and his hair
is getting very curly.
Mazatlan, Mexico

Take two people who get along rather well. Put them on a 36 foot boat. (Let’s say it’s an old wooden boat, just to make things more interesting.) Stuff it to the gills with provisions, spare parts, tools, charts, clothes, some art supplies, and odds and ends. (Let’s leave the waterline out of this discussion.)

These two people decide to point their bow west, and then south. After a while, they have reduced their latitude by 20-odd degrees, removed extraneous clothes, and found themselves in a country where they barely speak the language. Add some waves, saltwater and a touch (or a lot) of stress here and there. Six months go by. Have they learned anything?

    Sailing in San Francisco Bay

We’d like to think we have learned a thing or two:

  • Things break
  • It doesn’t matter how many spares you have, the one spare you don’t have is the one you’ll need
  • It may appear one way, but it is not necessarily so
  • It didn’t matter how much we read and talked with people about cruising – we didn’t really get it until we began our own voyage (Although, reading is worth it for the inspiration and planning)
  • We miss odd things from home. I actually caught myself missing wearing warm winter clothes… (Rick thought I was crazy. So did I)
  • We’ve sailed our boat in three countries so far, and every night we get to go home and sleep in our own bed – we like that
  • It’s amazing what you can adapt to
  • There are times when we just want to hole up with a book and talk to no one. And that’s okay
  • Communication takes more effort: My partner sometimes looks at me funny when I’m practicing what I’m going to say in Spanish in a half-whisper, as we row to shore
  • A smile and a greeting, or a question can go a long way
  • Nature is everywhere. We absolutely cannot ignore it – we depend on it, and we are constantly amazed by it
  • We like cities too
  • It is fun but it can also be exhausting to meet new people. It happens a lot
  • It is mostly pretty easy to stay in contact with loved ones by Internet, until we go to more out-of-the-way places. Though it’s never quite as dependable as we’d like. And we learned that it was okay. (Our loved ones got used to it too.)
  • We spend a lot of time with each other, and occasionally, it’s too much
  • We have learned to trust each other with our lives – we are a team, and a damn good team at that
  • Things break (Oh sorry, did we already mention that?)

Laundry day in Bahia Tortuga
The days of the broken mast, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle

Getting to work, Ensenada Carrizal
Chacala sunset

This little guy has seen better days

Exploring nooks and crannies

Observing wildlife at anchor in Barra de Navidad
Loving it on the water
(Recognize the hippie hat Ali?)

Casa Etnika

Hanging out 

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

art is in the eye of the beholder

I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for.  - Georgia O'Keeffe

Art is a big part of my life. After all, I am an artist. I also am an appreciator. I like many art styles. I tend to be drawn in by interesting uses of colour and composition. I love anything by Matisse, Chagall, and Klimt, to contemporary artists such as Jylian Gustlin and Ken Flett. And yes, I like graffiti art too. Mazatlan seemed to exhibit more graffiti then we'd seen anywhere else in Mexico. We loved finding unexpected eyes looking at us as we came around a corner, or discovering an arched whale between two windows.Whether it's on a crumbling stone wall or on a framed canvas, I take the time to really absorb the art I'm looking at. To you it may not be art, but to me, graffiti is a dash of colour that brightens my world.

On our scenic route to the Port Captain's in Mazatlan
(The scenic route was not by choice, we tend to lose our focus...)

After our first day, we kinda liked the juxtaposition of the Beetle
and the apple elephant. (We once owned a '68 Beetle named Betsy)

My favourite

Rick's favourite

We pondered in front of  this one for a while

This is obviously not graffiti, but I took a lot of
pictures like it. It's visually interesting to me

A doodle with a lovely expression

Monday, 5 March 2012

a jewel in the rough

My favourite building in the old
It has a bit of a European feel. Cafes surround a plaza, the boisterous markets buzz with energy, artsy spots dot the area. We like Old Mazatlan. Truthfully, we mostly visited the Old Town. The modern bits did not interest us as much. Yes, it’s touristy – but the side streets are quieter and they are a feast for the eyes. (That's if you like crumbling colonial buildings, graffiti, and little hole in the wall spots among the tourist traps – For us, it was a nice change. Sometimes the vitality of a city is just what you need.

We never once felt unsafe there. We had a lively, multi-lingual conversation with China, (in French, Spanish and English), the coordinator at the Municipal Center for the Arts. This firecracker of a woman had a lot to say, about art and her city. She also expressed frustration at the media frenzy that is scaring tourists away. 

Taking a break in the Art
Museum courtyard
As an artist, I felt energized by Old Mazatlan. There was an Artwalk, and sure not all the art was “great” – but I did end up gabbing with artists – Gringo and Mexican, and realized how much I miss being a part of a community of artists. On the flip side, I was inspired to work on my own projects, and developed some ideas as we wandered the little side streets.

Old town is full of character and characters – Antonio, China, the sunburnt tourists, the theatre and music students… We are leaving a city we know we want to revisit. I call it the Nice of our Mexican journey. (I surprised myself falling in love with that French city as well...) You never know what you'll discover. It's what I love about travelling.

I'm a sucker for peeling paint, go figure
Mazatlan's cathedral: the adorned moorish structure
looms over the Plazuela Republica
The gazebo in the Plazuela Republica

The view, as we dragged our tired feet back to the anchorage

Saturday, 3 March 2012

a good passage

A happy Nyon
You never know what a passage will be like. 

How accurate will the marine forecast be? Is this a passage when you'll sleep soundly or will you toss and turn when you're off watch? Will you have a hard time keeping your eyes open 2 hours into your watch or will you be hyper-vigilant the whole 4 hours? Will you curse yourself for not preparing meals ahead of time as you're trying to chop an onion while beating on a starboard tack? (Think: The boat is heeled way over, and the onion desperately wants to roll off the cutting board along with everything else.) Will there be stars to steer by or will clouds blur the sky. Will you realize you forgot to download the latest podcasts from your favourite radio shows or will you bliss out on your favourite tunes... Yeah, passages: They can be good, bad, trying, frustrating, or simply lovely. You just never know.

Then there are those times when a passage is just right. Not perfect, but just right. The wind is blowing from a passable direction, while the seas are surprisingly flat. The sun is shining and a few wispy clouds adorn a strikingly blue sky. The crew is cheerful, taking turns between keeping watch while soaking it all in, and reading a good book. That was how our passage to Mazatlan began. Although we had to turn on the engine when the wind disappeared after dark, the mood was already set. We ate tasty quesadillas, chatted companionably, and eventually I went to bed. By that time, the seas were so flat I opted to sleep in the v-berth instead of the sea berth. A little distance from the loud diesel engine can make a world of difference.

At midnight, Rick woke me from a deep sleep. He looked excited, in the I-am-very-calm-but-I-can't-wait to-tell-you-this kind of excited: He held up two fingers and said: "Two words. Bio-luminescent. Dolphins." Well, I don't know about you, but that got me out of bed and into the cockpit in my t-shirt and panties in less than 20 seconds. 

Bio-luminescence is a pretty cool phenomenon, but this, this was magical. We watched ghost-like dolphins swimming in a shower of light while leaving comet-like trails behind them. There is no way to describe it. I tend to sound like a kid who ate a pound of sugar whenever dolphins come along to play in Nyon's bow wave, but I outdid myself this time. I was a blithering fool. It was just that beautiful.

Taking a break
I eventually settled down, and Rick went off watch. Dolphins came and went. And then there was wind again. As I was trying to figure out if I could set sail once more, I looked up at our Windex, (that's our wind direction indicator). It didn't look quite right... That's when I realized we had picked up a hitch-hiker. This was not the diminutive version of months ago, this was a magnificent frigatebird (these birds have been known to have as much as a 7-foot wing span). I thought, "Uh oh. Rick won't be happy." This would mean another trip up the mast to fix the WindexEventually, the bird left and sure enough...

Out-of-commission Windex

Nevertheless, we enjoyed a lovely morning under sail. Before we knew it, I was radioing Transito Maritimo (Mazatlan's Harbour Traffic) for permission to enter the harbour. 

Like I said, a passage can be anything. This time, it held a touch of magic, a hitch-hiker, and a nice dose of wind. Not bad, I say.

“Remember that happiness is a way of travel – not a destination. Roy M. Goodman 

Friday, 2 March 2012

isla isabel: a bird's eye-view

There were birds, birds, birds, everywhere! Yet unlike everyone else, we didn't run into blue footed boobies. Really. Perhaps it's because we spent a lot of time on one section of the island and were charmed by the brown boobies and the frigate birds there... What can I say, we often end up off track. But we loved what we saw, and we'll be back for more! 

The fishing camp

This  magnificent frigatebird chick seemed to be winking at us

Brown booby and her baby - she squawked loudly as us, but held
her ground

Look ma, I can... almost fly!

Birds, birds, birds, everywhere!

A poised seagull

This little guy is not like the others...

I felt like we were interrupting... Perhaps we were?


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