Archive for the ‘Ocean’ Category

Heading Down the Pacific Coast of Mexico


 After waiting 3 days for a weather window we left Chamela, our next stop was La Barra De Navidad. It was 137 nautical miles and it took us overnight to arrive in the afternoon.  La Barra De Navidad has a lagoon where boaters anchor and locals fish.  It was very shallow going in at low tide and we ran aground.  First Mate Mike was sent up forward to “watch” as we went forward.  But he was preoccupied checking out all the boats in the anchorage, scanning for familiar boats that might contain friends from La Paz.

  It wasn’t long before a small boat was headed our way.  In the boat was indeed friends we had met in La Paz from the boat Third Day. They had seen us come up the channel and had come to say hello and lend a hand.  We welcomed them aboard while Mike and Jason went up to the bow and caught up on past events. We adults went back in the wheelhouse out of the sun and passed around “cold ones” while waiting for the tide to rise.

This was probably one of Mikes favorite stops.  His friend Jason was taking surfing lessons the following day and invited Mike to come along.  Mike was able to hang out with J and surf with him a good part of the day. The two of them did great and got a real workout.  The seas were a bit rough and the waves were just right for practicing.

We anchored the boat in the lagoon there and the trip back and forth to shore was a long one.  Coming back  to the boat at night was the most exciting with the brightest phosphorus I had ever seen.  A flashlight wasn’t needed due to the light reflecting off of the transom and the outboard.  The sea life was ever so active jumping and darting in all directions. The outline of sea snakes would come to the surface and move their heads back and forth looking around, while everything was a bright flourescent green.  It was down right eerie.

Our friends from Third Day have a boat made by the same designer as ours, a William Garden.  It was nice to see the two boats anchored together.  We had a nice visit and just wished we had more time to play.


Planning Provisions



Buying provisions for an extended cruise can be over whelming. Planning meals, snacks, and drinks for as much as three months for three people and two dogs is only the beginning. Putting together a first aid kit should be at the top of my list. Nothing like a small plastic case that carries only band-aids and antiseptics but something more in the way of a doctors bag.  Keeping in mind that if a medical emergency should arise the nearest doctor may be several hundred miles away.

Then there is “The Pack” that needs to be topped off with the absolute bare necessities three people should need to survive should the boat sink and we are stuck at sea. ( I think we are going to need a larger bag.)  The hand-held water maker takes up all the space in our current back pack. As my good Canadian friend told me the other day that her survival bag stays on the bunk during the day and the galley settee at night. A bag that has to be easy to grab in a hurry.

Buying the provisions is just the beginning.  After they are on the boat they have to be repackaged to get rid of any extra garbage.  Dry goods are often put into freezer bags and plastic containers. The cardboard that foods are packaged in can carry insect eggs. Insects are something else not wanted on board while at sea. 

After the provisions are planned, bought, and repackaged, they have to be stored in the best possible space.  Damage control is a must.  Things have to stay dry and won’t crush or break open while underway. Dried beans or rice stuck in the bilge absorbing water and burning up the bilge pump would not be good.

Then an inventory list needs to be made including the location of everything.  A boat isn’t like a house where groceries go into the kitchen cabinets.  Boats have very limited storage space which might include under the bunks, under the floorboards in the bilge, or in the sail locker.  It’s important to know where these items are stashed.

Not only is my head swimming with details all the time, but I’m laying in bed a night wondering “what I have forgotten?”.  My mind wanders over to my husbands set of responsibilities starting with the mechanical end of things.  I’m thinking “do we have a spare alternator, hoses, gaskets, shaft packing, etc”.  See what I mean by over whelming? I have to relax and remember how much fun this trip is going to be.



It wasn’t until last week, the middle of October, that there was a noticeable change in the weather.  The evenings began to cool way down into the 60’s while during the day the highs have been  in the 80’s.  A new-found source of energy begins to emerge from each of the crew members.  We are starting our days with a rapid row out to the first set of markers in the channel outside the marina and back to the boat.  An exercise that is aiding in this fight against last winters storage of fat. 

 The rest of the day is spent working on the boat, marking off one item at a time from the list of “Things to Do Before Heading South”. 

Michael has been working on re-wiring the boat ever since we got aboard.  It has been a real “rats nest”.  Not to mention the rigging issues.  Lucky for us this guy can figure almost anything out if it has to do with mechanics or electronics.  After re-wiring the start switch, he started up the engine.  It was the first time I had heard it run.  It was good to hear the Perkins start and run like a new engine.  It was one more thing on the list that was completed and put my mind at ease.

People are starting to filter into La Paz since the weather has been getting cooler up north.  Next week a fleet of boats will be arriving from the San Diego area in a flotilla called the Baja Ha Ha.  Many stories have emerged from this annual event.  One of which includes the history of our boat. 

 Numberous cruisers get together and pay a fee to be a part of this cruise south each year.  Last year was considered a rough journey south.  Apparently “the call” was made to run in rough weather.  Many boaters tucked into safe harbors while others were “shamed” into continuing on, others that weren’t real experienced boaters ran into rough seas and strong winds, taking some hard licks on their vessels along the way.  Our boat in particular had a family of five on board.  Once they got to their destination the decision was made to sell the boat of which they had only owned for maybe 3 or 4 months. 

 It is sad to hear of such stories.  Much time and energy is put into owning a boat, not to mention getting ready for a 1000 mile run.  As history dictates, many boats make it to Cabo San Lucas the southern tip of Baja or even around to La Paz only to be put on the market as soon as they arrive.  Now that the Baja Ha Ha 2010 is now underway, my wish for every cruiser is that they have fair winds and clam seas.

Sailing South for the Winter Part II


Part II

The following day, we  each took our turns at the wheel. But there was lots of free time on our hands.  I like to be doing something most of the time, so I would clean anything I could.  We  also took turns at cooking the meals.  Everyone else had either a gadget to mess with or a book to read.  I could never slow down enough in the past to read so I didn’t even bring a book.  Then the issue came up of Felicia.  She was only able to pull one of her shifts and was down sick the rest of the time.  When she felt a bit better she would come up on deck, with blanket and pillow, and lay down on one side of the cockpit which would force four of us to sit on one side.  At this point Michael decided that we would continue on all night all the way to Jacksonville, FL..  Michael and I took the 2 am to 6 am shift.  I took the first two hours and Michael took the next.  Everyone else had retreated to their cabins for the night, so I grabbed my pillow and blanket and layed down beside him.  There were lots of stars out that night.  It was so very dark.  The wind was on the port quarter and we were sailing at a good clip.  All you could hear was the sound of  splashing on the side of the boat as we made way thru the water. I was almost a sleep when out of the blue Michael yells “Oh my God, What is that?” I jumped up (out of my skin) looked in the direction he was looking, behind the boat, and there were two tubular shaped figures coming up very fast.  He thought they were torpedoes.  He explained later that we were passing Kings Island where the U.S. has a big submarine base.  We were also 20 miles off the coast which is where the subs like to come to the surface and he was watching for them.  With all this going through his mind in the middle of the black ocean, torpedoes seemed logical.   But as they got closer, we realized they were dolphin approaching the boat at a high rate of speed and the phosphorous  was lighting them up as they went along.  So they glowed.  It was wild looking. The excitement was enough to keep him awake until the end of the shift.  I knotted off until the sun was in my eyes and noticed the humidity had risen substantially.

As I sat up and looked around the sun was extremely bright, and the strong scent of salt was in the air.  Over to our port side was a huge ocean liner headed in the opposite direction. The difference in size between our boat, the Flying Dutchman, and the ocean liner was immense.  It took my breath away.  I thought “If he hit us, he’d never know it”.  We were approaching Jacksonville, Florida Inlet .  The ocean liner was one of many huge vessels moving up and down the inlet that morning.  As we approached Florida, our quiet stretches of sailing would be few and far between.  The term “snow birds” started to make sence to me.  Florida had a “hum” to it.  There were people, and every kind of boat you could imagine on the water.  This seemed to be the dividing line from cold weather to warm, each had a price.  Navigating on the Intercostal Waterway (ICW) was similar to I95 or I75 on a Sunday afternoon.  Up till now, Michael would be doing maintenance on the lines or the engine or studying the charts down below.  Now, he stayed close by and kept the charts up top.  With all of the commotion of life going on, he had to stay on his toes at all times.

A couple of days passed, now it is Thanksgiving Day.  Thinking that it was a family holiday, there may not be as many boats on the water.  Our location is still the ICW and we were approaching Juno Beach, Fl.  The waterways characteristics started to change from here south.  It had the appearance of a suburban neighborhood.  Houses were lined along the waterway with canals that fed into it like fingers or streets that fed into a main road.  The smell of turkey dinners permeated the air.  We hadn’t planned for a turkey dinner that day and hot dogs were on the menu.  Needless to say I was salivating for homemade bread, baked turkey, dressing, green beans, cranberry salad and pecan pie.  I failed to mention earlier, spending time on the water had a way of keeping me hungry.  I spent lots of time thinking of “what would be good right now”.  Especially when I had no way of getting it.  This frame of mind drove Michael crazy.  He barked at me once “keep your thoughts to yourself”.  As the day wore on, the number of boats on the water increased.  The wake from the “fast boats” churned the water up and had the “fishbowl” effect.  It was very uncomfortable with the constant up and down motion of the boat.  If anyone was drinking anything, they had to keep it in their hand, otherwise it would be knocked over.

To date each of us were still taking our turn on the wheel, all except Falicia.  She had stayed in the parallel position most of the way .  She seemed mostly tired all the time.  It put Michael in an awkward position, due to the fact that “her spot” was intended to be a “paying position”.  And she had not payed her way nor was she able to work.  After discussing the sensitive topic with her husband Bruce, Michael realized they had no intention of paying and expected meals as well. As the boat approached Fort Lauderdale, it was determined that the boat needed some maintenance work.  We docked at a Marriot where Michael gave Bruce and Falicia the proverbial “boot”.   It was then that Michael announced the alternator wasn’t working and needed replaced. He was a good mechanic and needed someone to pick up the part while he worked on the boat.   I volunteered and headed down the docks, thru the Marriott and out to the street where there were several taxi cabs sitting waiting for business.   The first one that approached me was a tall young dirty blond guy.  He opened my door for me, ran around and got back in the car, turned and asked me where I was headed.  I told him the Napa and he started driving.  It was then that I noticed the naked Barbi Doll leg hanging from a chain on his rear view mirror.  All I could think of was “Oh God, If I get to where I’m going and back to the boat, it will be a wonder.”  He tried to drum up conversation, but I was a little “weirded”  out to talk.  Fort Lauderdale turned out to be an interesting/wide open town.  We passed several strip clubs along the way and the people were very interesting.  Thankfully, I got the part I needed and was back on the boat safely.  Michael fixed the problems and we were off and sailing again.

Sailing South for the Winter Part I


Flying Dutchman

It was the middle of November and we were already off to a late start for heading south.  The temperatures at night had dipped into the low 40’s.   A sure sign that colder weather was on its’ way.  People were applying for the position of crew, to sail to the west coast of Florida from the outer banks of  North Carolina.  This would be a situation where the crew member paid for their passage way in exchange for experience on the  45′ single masted, sloop rig sailboat.  A colorful selection of people were willing to go, but only a very few seemed reliable.  The Flying Dutchman was a comfortable boat with three staterooms , two heads, a large saloon and workable galley. This would be a trip of comfort mainly.  All that was required was someone to man the wheel on a regular schedule and we broke it down into shifts.  Three people were committed for the trip.  There was Bruce and Felicia, a mid-aged couple from New England, and a young solid, muscular lady named Linda from North Carolina, along with the Captain Michael and myself.  I was mainly a deck hand due to the limited amount of time I had spent on the water.

A time was arranged for everyone to meet on the Flying Dutchman at 6pm , the night before departure.  Each of us filtered on board, one by one, introducing ourselves to each other.  We were all feeling a bit apprehensive about the long journey ahead.  Bruce brought on board several expensive nautical “toys”/electronics and was overjoyed and eager to share them with the Captain.  Linda’s nervousness had surfaced by her quick, constant chatter and Michael was geared up and had already started telling stories of “I remember when and what to expect ahead”.  I began looking around for Bruce’s wife, Felicia, who was no where in site.  When I discovered a pause in conversation I jumped in to ask “Where is Felicia?”.  It was then that Bruce broke the news that she had been ill and would meet us later on the trip.  Michael wasn’t too happy to have just learned that he was one crew member short and was contemplating finding her replacement but decided against it.

The following morning I was awaken by the sound of the engine running and people moving around on deck. As I made way up top,  I was just in time to see Michael on the wheel and Bruce tossing the lines from the pilings on deck.  Our journey had begun. The first day we made it as far as Beuford, North Carolina.  It was a salty looking water town with many boats that looked like they had been at anchor for a long time.  We dropped the hook as well, had dinner and off to bed.  The next morning was much like the first.  The men were up early and ready to roll.  The day before we had traveled down the Pamlico Sound. Today we would go out thru the channel to the Atlantic Ocean and go on the outside all the way to Charleston, SC.  The weather had been great so far and this day was no exception.  The temperature was in the 60’s and the sun felt good.  It was one of those feelings again where you could sit on the front of the deck, smell the salt air and watch the world go by.  Sailing was better than any dope you could buy and the feeling of freedom made me want to lay down and take a nap, I’ve said that before.   I must admit, that life on land conditioned my mind to go fast.  Everything was go, go, go.  This trip had of way of forcing me to slow down.  It was tough to do at first, but I adapted quickly.  When we arrived at our destination for that evening, it was  at a marina where the people were very hospitable.   When the sun went down it was cold and your winter coat was in order.  There was a deck hand to greet us that took  our lines, tied up the boat and then proceeded to tell us what was in the area.  Bruce had arranged for Falicia to meet us there.  When she arrived we all decided to go to a nice seafood restaurant and have dinner.  The restaurant had a delivery service where they would come to you and pick you up and then bring you back.  The moment we got into the car and began ridding, I had a feeling of dizziness and felt like we were speeding excessively down the road.  I leaned over to Michael and said “Geez, how fast are we going?”.  Michael laughed and said “Not even 40 mph”.  Motoring and sailing all day we never exceeded 8 mph, talk about slowing your mind down,  and that was two days of sailing that got me to that point.  Our dinner was enjoyable and getting off of the boat for a short while was a nice diversion.

The Choice to Cruise


shannon on wheel Sometimes you can tell when there is change in the air.  Life had been more than demanding in the previous years and I had taken about all I was able to take.  It was July, hot and my birthday.  I was working painting houses in a small  sea side town. I had stopped at the local sandwich shop to fuel up.  ” My heart isn’t in to working today”, I told my friend.  It was then that the screen door scratched open and in walked this fella who had a golden tan, white blond hair, mustache and a beard.  It was obvious he was “a local”  by the cheery greeting he gave to everyone as he walked in.  I overheard Richard, the sandwich shop owner, ask him if he had any charters today and he bellowed out “Just two this morning”, then he turned to walk out, looked over at my friend and I and asked us if we’d like to go sailing.  My heart just sank due to my unproductive frame of mind and the fact I had never been sailing before. Ok,  I thought he looked good in those sailors shorts.  We just laughed and said “No, got to go to work”.  Then he replied “When you want to go sailing, just let me know.  I’m usually docked over at the end of the pier”.

My friend and I usually started our mornings with a cold beer,  just to get in the right frame of mind.  We’d have another with lunch and then a few more after work. We lived on an island close to the beach and tried to live like we were on vacation.  It was almost impossible tho.   I was working three, sometimes four jobs just to keep “afloat”.  One of my other jobs was cleaning rental houses. I was taken in by the looks of the boats in the area and loved going out on the water.  I thought if I could get a job working on a boat that it wouldn’t seem so much like work.  So I put the word out that I cleaned boats. Shortly after, I was introduced to the blonde haired, tanned fella, who was looking for someone to clean his boat after a charter.  He hired me to clean the 45′ Sloop Rig, Lancer, on Sundays. The first Sunday I cleaned, the following Sundays, we ended up going sailing.  He felt bad that we ended up playing when I needed to be working and offered to pay me anyway. Of course I refused because somehow in my mind, paying me to play, might be construed into something else and morally I wanted to maintain a respectable relationship.  Needless to say, three months later he was heading south, to the warmer climate, to do more charters and once again he asked me to come sailing, except this time it was for the next six months.  Once again my heart sank because I had fallen in love with sailing and I had responsibilities that I “had” to maintain.  After much thought, at the last minute I decided to go along.  He gave me one sea-bag and told me that everything I brought had to fit in that bag.   Somehow I couldn’t fit everything into one bag and talked him into letting me use his also.  So this is the beginning of our cruising adventures.

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