Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ramblings about cruising

For 3 years Robert and I have been planning our trip to ??? My observations are
1. Most women HATE THIS
2. It is way harder than anyone can imagine
3. Get used to the boat breaking down, every day plan on some new problem !
4. A lot of relationships fail doing this.
5. Most people end up changing plans and course. Not a bad thing. It is ok to see the Sea of Cortez instead of sailing around the world. Don't be disappointed. It is ok.
6. You will meet the most wonderful people and make the best of friends.
7. I have a lot to learn.


Some random images from early in the trip

Steve and Michael and the famous "rocks" on the way into the Cabo showers and lots of Margaritas!!!!

Turtle Bay

The "Dolphin" in Cabo Harbor!

Bahia Santa Maria was one of our favorite stops on the way to Cabo!

The "crew" enjoying Margaritas on the Beach at Cabo San Lucas

Trip to Copper Canyon

Some of the fabulous views into the Canyon! "They" say this Canyon is longer and deeper then the Grand Canyon. One major difference is that the surrounding area here in Mexico reminds me of the Tahoe area whereas the Grand Canyon is more of desert environment. Great trainride up from Los Moches where we arrived from Baja Sur via the ferry, a six hour crossing of the Sea of Cortez.

The trip was over 5 days, we stayed at the Hotel Santa Anita in Los Mochis then took the train through the country side up to the Sierra Madre Mountains to Parque National Barranca de Cobre where the Canyon is.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

We have been in Marina Palmira for over a week enjoying the city of La Paz. The weather has been wonderful. It is winter here and the temperatures are in the 70's and sunny every day. Yesterday I bought a big bag of fresh shrimp from a gentleman here on the dock (today he was selling huge fresh scallops) took them back to the boat, boiled them up with some seasoning and we sat down and peeled and ate shrimp until I couldn't eat another bite! Tomorrow is the annual cruiser's Thanksgiving dinner here at the marina. They supply all the turkeys and everyone brings a dish. I made two pecan pies. Quite an undertaking with a little boat oven!
The cruiser's etiquette is to bring all your own utensils, plates, drinks to all parties, dinners and get togethers.
Our next plan is a trip to Copper Canyon. It is a canyon 5 times the size of the Grand Canyon. We take a 6 hour ferry ride to the mainland at Topolobombo, a cab to our hotel, get up the next morning to board the train that goes through the canyon (a 14 hour ride) over 80 tunnels and many bridges , 2 nights at a gorgeous hotel that is perched right on a cliff that hangs out over the canyon (each room has a balcony right over the canyon), a horseback ride along the canyon, a short train ride to Creel that is home to the Tamurara Indians, back on the train heading back we get off in El Fuente, a cute town with lots of architecture and one night in a hotel there then a ferry ride home at 11 pm with our own cabin and arrive home at 5 am. The Copper Canyon has been on my bucket list for a long time.
We rented a van and Robert and I and 2 other couples took a drive up to Toto Santos, ate a wonderful lunch at Hotel California and a fun trip to Walmart. It was a little unnerving when we were stopped by the police who said we were speeding. Maybe we were but everyone else was going faster than us! Luckily Paul, our driver speeks spanish and somehow he was able to talk his way out of a ticket.
It is quite dry here. Only 2 inches of rain a year. The landscape is desert with lots of cactus but it is very beautiful in it's own way. The city is very safe and has a high per capita income. Low crime. Many Americans never leave once they get here.
We have to take the boat to a boat yard and have it hauled out to put on a new transducer/depthfinder before we take off for the Island of Espirtu Santos to swim, snorkel, dive, fish and swim with the seals. There are gorgeous bays to anchor in, hiking, shelling and just plain relaxing and goofing off. My friend Kay is coming to visit for a couple of weeks. I hope other friends will come enjoy the boat with us.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Grey Dolphin...
our basic transportation!!

La Paz anchorage

Kathy in

tower along
the beach

Palapa at Bay

Beach chairs at
Bahia de Los Muertos.
Last stop before
we left for La Paz!
Hey, where's the

La Paz

A brief note about our trip from Bahia de Los Muertos (near the Cape) to Balandras Bay ( which is a trip thru the Canal Cerralvo). We had been waiting several days for a weather window to make this trip to La Paz. Being a bit impatient we decided to leave which wound up being a day too early. The "Norther" was still blowing...which in sailing terms means the wind was coming out of the direction we needed to sail. In addition the strong winds over the past few days had created large swells coming from the direction we needed to go. Ugh!! After turning the corner we were instantly into very strong wind and it was a struggle all day to make good progress. Since there was also a good current we were down to 3.9 knots at some times under power. I did manage to have the mizzen (reefed) as well as the new staysail up which helped a bit. A lot of the other boats decided to sail right up the middle of the channel but I opted to run close to the shore. This meant a longer trip mileage wise but we were able to mitigate the wind and waves a bit and were able to catch up on boats that had left several hours before us. Kathy was in the prone position almost the entire trip...seasick despite taking every medication known to man!! I was able to maange the boat myself which is a handful! Thanks to the new autopilot I was able to run around a take care of the sails, etc. We arrived at the anchorage about sundown which had been our goal. We were now a few hours from La Paz. After a restless, windy night in which the boat rocked excessively keeping me awake.

At one time I woke to check the anchor and discovered that the boat was a complete 180 from the place where we had dropped anchor. Odd that, which I should have realized might create a problem later...and sure enough Kathy woke me around 5:30 after hearing the anchor alarm go off!! We had dragged our anchor into deeper water and were drifting towards other boats. I immediately fired up the engine and moved away and decided to leave for La Paz. Unknowingly our neighbor had seen what had happened and thinking that we were still sleeping chased us out to sea in his Dinghy. He had mistakenly thought our nav light were still our anchoring light(seen from the back you can only see the white light, not the red and green.0 Fortunately he realized we were OK and returned to his boat, GRACE but not before there was a little concern about his whereabouts. Thanks Paul and Judy for your concern.

Since we were awake we decide to continue on to La Paz rather then re-anchor and arrived at the Marina around 8:30 AM. The photo is a view from our dock....not very exciting but will post more later.

Robert (Captain SV Blue Dolphin)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

SO here we are at the Bay of Dreams....aka Bay of the Dead(Bahia de los Muertos).....about 55 miles South of La Paz, another full day of travel. We have been waiting for a "Norther" which has failed to appear yet....would mean some substantial winds and waves going in the wrong direction. Unless it appears today we are heading to La Paz tomorrow! Trip has been peaceful for the most part excepting the night before last...high winds at the anchorage kept us all awake. Fortunately all was well and we were able to rest well last night.
Today we are just hanging out and planning a dinner at the local resort along with some "old buddy" friends...maybe a swim before. Robert

Bay of Dreams aka Bay of the Dead Nov 13

We are toughing it out here for a few days waiting for better weather to La Paz. Roughing it. Actually we are sitting here at a beautiful restaurant having breakfast burritos looking out over a beautiful bay with a beautiful white sand beach and turquoise clear water. There are about 20 boats in the bay, most from the haha. It is just a fishing camp mainly with a restaurant and a hotel. We took our dinghy over to the hotel last night, pulled it up on the beach and enjoyed the gorgeous facilities. They had an infinity pool Robert went swimming in, hammocks to lay in, a swim up bar. As we arrived in the Bay yesterday afternoon I heard "Kathy" really loud but couldn't figure where it was coming from but soon I heard from my good friend Eva on Babeeze on the VHF radio. They had sailed all the way from Mazatlan (190 nautical miles) to meet up with us!!! I met Eva a year ago in Ballena Isle, Alameda as they were preparing to leave on the 2008 Baja Ha Ha. about 8 couples are meeting tonight at the restaurant for dinner. There goes the cruising budget!
We had a great crew member come with us from Cabo. Charlie is his name and what a great guy. I wish he could stay forever with us. He taught me about fishing, cooked, cleaned, and jumped up to help whenever we needed it. He had to leave yesterday to make it back to Cabo for his flight out as the weather isn't cooperating for the final leg to La Paz. We miss you Charlie!
Now the big test comes as Robert and I are on our own-no crew. I have been struggling with the anchoring but I think I am getting it down. We motored most of the way from Cabo to here. Either too much wind or not enough. We had dolphins jumping and swimming in front of the boat on the way here from Los Freiles. No fish though. Steve caught a yellow fin tuna and 2 mahi mahi on the way to Cabo and we really enjoyed eating it. I have heard that the way to kill the fish is to pour cheap tequilla in their gills and they die instantly. I think I will try that instead of beating them about the head with a billy club. Lots of blood and fish guts flying.
Landing the dinghy on the beach with surf is still a challenge. Our first landing ended up with the boat sideways in the surf, Robert got it turned around and it filled half way with water from a wave! I really hate landings and takeoffs from the beach. It is alwasy fun getting into the dinghy from the boat with things rocking and rolling! Some interesting experiences:
forgetting to put the plug in the dinghy before we put it in the water.
trying to go snorkeling but having to get through waves to do it and getting thrown back on the beach several times before being successful--nice scrape on the leg
loosing the use of our solar panels for 3 days but luckily finding a loose wire and now we are back charging
running out of red wine--our crew drank 5 boxes! But we did have the best parties on our boat.
forgetting the fish in the cooler and running out of ice-smelly
staying up all night because the winds in the anchorage here picked up to over 20 knots and boats were dragging anchor.

Today I am going to work on sanding and varnishing the hatch cover I think, or maybe I will just read a book. I spend yesterday scrubbing and polishing the floors. Amazing how dirty a boat can get. We are looking forward to La Paz as we have a slip at a nice resort until Thanksgiving. Robert will have to go back to the US in Jan for doctor visits and I want to visit my kids in Texas. Our plans are "written in the sand at low tide" as Eva says. Anyone want to come visit?
I wasn't sure I would like this life but for now it is heaven. Love to all, Kathy

Monday, November 9, 2009

San Diego to Turtle Bay

We left San Diego Oct 26th. What a sight! Over 190 sailboats all leaving at the same time! As we left the bay and sailed into the ocean huge colorful spinnaker sails used in light air started flying. Usually most sails are white with maybe a few letters or small decoration but the spinnakers are all wild colors and designs. We put ours up but it didn't last long. It caught on a step and made a long tear tht is too big for me to repair and will have to go to a sailmaker in La Paz. After the first day the next two are a blur for me. I got very very sea sick. The winds picked up to 20 to 30 knots which was good for sailing but the seas became really wild with 10 to 12 foot swells and confused seas. (Meaning all shit broke loose and waves were coming from all directions and we were rocking and rolling big time) Lots of boats ended up making an unscheduled stop for the night in an anchorage to wait out the storm but we pressed on about 60 miles out to sea. Eventually we decided to come in closer to land looking for calmer seas but didn't find any and it set us back about 12 hours. Even though we deviated from the straight course to Turtle Bay, our first anchorage, we were among the first to arrive. On the second and third days I spent almost the whole time on the couch tucked in with a lee cloth sicker than a dog. I tried every sea sickness remedy known to man kind. Nothing worked. After the 3rd day the wind and seas calmed down and I have felt great!!! It took us two days to make it from Turtle Bay to our next stop Baja Santa Maria mostly motor sailing because of the light winds. I am finding there is usually too much wind or too little !!! Kathy

Friday, November 6, 2009

we are on our way!

I am sitting here trying . my best to remember what day it is! Ok, I looked at my computer calendar and it says it is Tuesday Nov 3. It is so nice not to have to think about what day or time it is. I put away my watch and haven't worn it since we left San Diego.

We are at anchor in a beautiful bay called Bahia Santa Maria. One side of the bay has some pretty impressive hills that are actually very green from all the rain the hurricaine recently brought. The other side of the bay has a long sandy beach with some small surf. It is our second stop since we left.

Our crew consists of 5 friends that are helping us sail to Cabo San Lucas. Lori, I met many years ago through relatives. She is such great help, a good cook and always smiling. Bob is Lori's partner and he has been working non stop on our boat before and during our trip. A perfectionist. He makes me feel safer as he is always looking out for things that could cause potential problems. Steve is our boat mechanic from our days in Alameda, Ca. How lucky we are to have our own boat mechanic onboard. He wins the prize (whatever that is) for fixing the head (toilet in boat speak) which consisted of having to deal with a lot of nasty stuff. He must have a stomach of steel for he was doing this in a small confined space with the smell of diesel, the smell of hot rubber (some belts were hot and putting off a bad odor) and with the boat rocking and rolling. I can't thank him enough. Michael is a great friend we met when we first bought our boat and had it in San Leandro. He is strong and always ready to jump up and help with any dangerous situation. He is patient with me, a real newbie to all of this with so much to learn. He is teaching me how to fish. We haven't caught anything yet but some boats have reported some good fishing. I need to call them on the radio and find out their secret to sucess. Terry is the newest of our boat crew. She is a member of the single sailing society that Michael belongs to. The boat she was to crew on had some serious problem and had to drop out. She has done some interesting things one of which is car racing. She is also a great writer and has written some beautiful poetry on the trip which she says I can include in our journal.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Adventure Begins

I should really say "the adventure continues" as the past 3 years has been the biggest adventure/undertaking of my life !!
3 years ago Robert and I purchased this huge, old sailboat. On kind of a whim, I should add, as I had only been on a sailboat once before on one of our first dates. I met Robert through and I remember saying something to the effect "I want to meet someone adventurous, buy a sailboat and sail around the world" really meaning I just wanted to meet someone different that might want to try new and fun things and live life to the fullest.
So after only a couple of emails he excitedly wrote back "Sure we can buy a boat and do that. I will start looking". Yikes! We waited to buy the boat 3 1/2 years into the relationship and for the past 3 years we have put most of our time and money into outfitting The Blue Dolphin sailing vessel for long distance travel over the high seas.
I have never worked so hard! From the very first night on the boat it has been a grueling, expensive learning experience. I knew NOTHING and now the more I know the more I realize I don't know! We have replaced just about every mechanical, electrical, and plumbing part on the boat and the few left will probably need it soon.
If we had had a decent survey ( like an inspection when you buy a house) I am sure we would never had purchased this boat. But we have perservered on when I think most would have given up.
One of the best things about living on the boat you plan to take cruising is that you really learn to know your boat. I wake up in the middle of the night hearing small noises and you NEVER ignore a strange noise on a sailboat. Stopped up toilets, broken plumbing, water up to the engine in the bilge, leaks, worms eating the boat, dry rot, electrical problems- the list is endless. I quit saving all the repair receipts. I don't want to even know how much we have put into this boat-it might make me ill.
So why do I keep doing this. Shouldn't I be living in comfort and style by now after working so hard all my life? Instead I opt to live in a small, dinky space with no storage, a minature refrigerator, stove and an apartment size washing machine that will hold about 2 towels, a bed that is impossible to make as one side is against the bulkhead (fancy word for side of the boat) and I need a step to get up into it. I tell people it is like living in a motor home on the water only the marine envirnment is very harsh (like the time all our clothes had mold on them that were hanging in the closet). Now all my clothes fit in 4 drawers. Robert only gets 2 drawers.
Well, with all this complaining you probably think I should hate this lifestyle but I LOVE IT. I have met some wonderful cruising couples that have become close friends. I think this is the best part and I hear this all the time from other cruisers. I love living on the water. I feel more at home here than I have ever felt anywhere else in my life.
We decided a couple of years ago that we would take off cruising someday and with the recession hitting so hard, Robert out of a job, Me being off almost 2 years with 2 rotator cuff surgeries we said now is "someday". We leave Oct 26th from San Diego with the Baja ha ha boat rally. Over 190 sailboat all traveling together to Cabo San Lucus. Most go further south or sail the Sea of Cortez until the hot summer months or head to the South Pacific. We plan on leaving Cabo San Lucus shortly after arrival and sail to La Paz Mexico for Thanksgiving, then to ??????????
We don't really have any plans. We just want to go with the flow. See how we like it. I will try to keep this blog up so our friends and family can keep track of us. I hope we get lots of visitors along the way :) Wish us luck :) Here we go!!!!!!!!!!