Wednesday/Hump Day

03/22/2012

Would you believe that we finally did the climb to the top of Cerro Creston, to the lighthouse. We climbed 515 Feet straight up to the top.   We saw beautiful views of the City of Mazatlan, the stretch of the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains and plenty of wild life.  We saw iguannas running rampid, birds of beautiful colors such as bright orange with black stripes across their wings and others that were aqua blue-green.  There were at least 4 different Friget birds riding the air currents.

The first quarter of the way, it was a dirt road which quickly turned to steps that zig zagged to the hill top. Steps of many shapes and sizes.  I think when they built them they told the general public when they’d be pouring the concrete because many of the steps have peoples names and initials written in them.  My favorite was a heart with initials in the middle and flames coming out of the top.

Michaels pace was quicker than my own and we stopped maybe 4 times for a look around and to slow down our hearts a little.  Our plan was to climb to the lighthouse then come back down and walk 6 blocks to the Tienda/Store for groceries. Needless to say we didn’t have the energy to do so.  We ended up going back to the boat and picking up Mike and then headed over to Bengi’s Restaurante for some of the best breaded shrimp we’d ever eaten.

We got back to the boat around 4pm.  Now it is 5:30 and Michael has layed down for the night. All in all, not a bad day for a Wednesday.

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Don’t Set Schedules

03/21/2012

We still haven’t learned yet.

Don’t set “Schedules” for yourself when you are “Cruising”. If you want to have an enjoyable trip, you don’t want to be heading out into the sea when the waves are big and coming at you every 3-5 seconds. It will be a rough ride and you will wish you would have waited before “rushing off”.

We look at buoyweather.com for a seven (7) day forecast. It gives us the wind direction in the morning and the sea conditions and then the same for the evening. In the past week we have relied on the forecast and have either taken a boat ride and realized there is no wind, or we rely on the forescast that it’s going to blow out of the north/hard for the next 3 days and we decide to “stay put”. As I am writing, this is one of the evenings we decided to “stay put”. It’s blowing like 20knots out there and it’s dark so it feels like its blowing harder.

It’s not like there is nothing to do while you wait for a weather window. We have issues, just like everyone else. Yesterday was Monday and I like to use Monday’s as an excuse to do nothing. I spent most of the day sitting on the deck reading a book and chatting with the tourists in kayaks as they paddeled by the boat.

The weather looked ominous on the horizon last Sunday. Then today the wind blew and the waves coming into the anchorage grew larger and larger. I didn’t sleep well due to the boat thrashing back and forth from side to side.

A wave so large came thru and almost crested at the bow of my boat. It shook the boat so much that Michael started talking about going into the Old Harbor to anchor for the night. He started the engine and started to head out when he noticed the transmission slipping. After he checked it out, he found it was low on oil and topped it off. It wasn’t until 45 minutes before sunset that he decided to try it again. So we pulled up the anchor, headed out of the anchorage and motored into the channel over to the Old Harbor.

The wind was howling by that point. Once we got the boat into the area, we realized there wasn’t much room in this anchorage. People started coming out of the boats and pointing and yelling over the wind “go over there, not here, don’t anchor here.” We motored passed and attempted to drop the anchor 3 different times and each time the anchor dragged on the bottom, just wouldn’t take a bight. The bottom was mud. With the wind blowing like it was, we couldn’t take a chance on dragging.

Michael turned around and headed back to the Stone Island Anchorage. As he exited the Harbor he announced on the VHF Channel 22 “All the Boaters in the Old Harbor Anchorage can go back to bed now. Halcyon has left the area and is headed back to the Stone Island Anchorage.” One lady with a soft voice responded ” Thank you.”. We had a good laugh.

We returned to our previous spot and dropped the anchor again. Our Bruce anchor likes to hold in the sand, so sand it is! The waves were calm now as the wind blew from the opposit direction flattening them out. I slept real good last night.

Tonight we had visitors over from another sailboat anchored here in the anchorage. It was a nice diversion to have a conversation with someone other than the crew on my boat. This couple was from Washington State. They told us a little about themselves and the places they had visited south of here. I would have loved to have asked them more questions about their trip, but the guys on this boat were trying to get in some “chat” time as well. So the competition was on.

For the last several days Michael has said how he’d like to take the walk up the mountain to the lighthouse. And each day he has something else to do first and then we never go. Today he says “We will go tomorrow.”

Buoyweather.com shows that the seas will be lying down on Thursday. We are talking about heading out then.

Crossing The Sea of Cortez

03/17/2012

March 13th, Tuesday, 2012

Today marks one week ago that we pulled up anchor in La Paz and headed out of the bay. We stopped for the night at the nearest anchorage to finish up a few jobs. The following morning we put Mike up the mast to run the SSB Antenna, pulled up the anchor and headed out into the bay once again. The day was beautiful. The wind and the water were calm as we rounded the point passing Ballandra Beach and familiar places we visited during our stay in La Paz. The water was a dark turquoise blue. The shallow areas of light blue lined the beaches. The huge brown mountains and their jagged edges were easier to look at in full view from the water. It was hard to believe that after 21 months we were actually leaving.

About five miles out into the Sea of Cortez we spotted well over 100 fins in the water.  Michael asked me to grab his camera and go out to the bow of the boat and start filming. Caelin, our dog, was starting to growl and run back and forth. She knew something was going on. As I approached the bow rail it was like a dream. Dolphin were everywhere, jumping out of the water and darting quickly from side to side of the boat. They were bumping into each other and competing to keep up with the boat, squeaking and squealing as they do. It was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. I took it as an omen that the trip ahead was going to be good one.

Being that there are three of us on board, it was decided that we would take turns at the wheel so that no one got “overworked”. Michaels shifts were 4-8 AM & PM, Mikes were 8-12 AM & PM, and mine were 12-4 AM & PM. ( I must say the toughest time was from 2-4 AM.) I chose that shift because I rarely sleep the whole night and sometimes take advantage of everyone being asleep to enjoy some quiet time.

As it got dark Michael requested that we all clip into our jacklines so that no one slipped over board during their shift. What a horror that would be. Around 9PM, Mikes shift, I went up into the wheel house to check and see if he needed anything. He Said he was fine but was getting sleepy so I fixed him some extra chocolaty hot chocolate and brought him my MP3 player that had the Car Talk show on audio books. The combination seemed to give him what he needed to complete his shift.

My shift was uneventful. The moon was full and the sky was filled with stars. There was some light cloud cover that reflected the moon, making it easy to see for a long ways. My eyes shifted from the compass to the GPS, to our track across the water. I was trying to keep within “feet” of our chartered course. (For a lack of better things to do.) I listened to a few Garrison Kealers , Lake Woebegone. Laughed out loud at times and then wondered if I’d woken Michael who was sleeping in the cabin right below the hatch that was next to the wheel. He had instructed me “ If you see a boat or the depth go 100’ or below, wake me.”

I tried not to think about the depth because my knees would grow week when I thought about us being in 2-4 thousand feet of water. I just got use to focusing on my job. As I grew sleepy I turned on my tunes. Michael said he peeked out the hatch at one point and saw me dancing and jumping up and down. He knew I was trying to stay awake.

The following morning when Mike was back on watch he rang the bell for us to come up on deck. He said he turned his head to look behind the boat because he heard a noise only to find a whale exhaling directly behind the boat. He said it was a least 40’ long and close enough to throw something at it. We missed it.  As I think of it now, I cringe to think had the whale  surfaced any closer to the boat we could have taken on some damage. Sheesh!

The rest of the day went on without an event. The seas had gotten large swells and keeping on course had gotten to be more of a challenge. I was tired of fighting the wheel. Michael relieved me for an hour as well as Mike. I was frustrated with myself and felt “whiney”. Later that afternoon Michael ran down the wiring for the autopilot. He hooked it up and it did the work for us.

Around 11pm Mike was looking forward to his shift ending. He was tired and ready to crash. The buoy light at Mazatlan on the mainland had started to come into view, giving us more steam to continue on. When he heard an exhaust sound that was different. He woke Michael to look at the engine, who pulled up the floor boards in the salon to find water and oil floating all around the engine. The engine was shut off as he evaluated the situation. The seas were on our beam (side) making it hard to stand in one place. As a wave would hit the boat, the boat would roll from side to side. Making it a bit uncomfortable. Being as resourceful as Michael is, he was able to put a “band aid” on the situation and sail us into Mazatlan.

The wind was light and the boat didn’t move more than 1-2 knots an hour. It took us 9 hours to go 20 miles. Mike was so tired he was falling asleep on his feet, so Michael send him to his bunk. Michael and I weren’t much better, but we pushed on. The sun began to rise which made it a little easier to function. Several hours had passed before Michael asked me to wake Mike. They started the engine to take the boat into the channel at Mazatlan.

I was instructed to stay by the engine and report if any oil started to leak out or if the “band aid” came apart. I sat for an hour or so and watched the engine, trying to stay awake. My head kept falling over and short dreams kept running in and out of my mind. Once we realized the engine would be ok, I told Michael I was going to crash for 30 minutes. I layed down only to get up an hour later as we were navigating thru the anchorage. Michael instructed Mike where to drop the anchor. He backed down on it to be sure it would hold and turned off the engine and we all went to bed. We slept all day Thursday and all night, only to get up to eat. Well…me anyway. 🙂

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Happy New Year

12/31/2011

May this new year be a start of putting away old fears and moving forward with new dreams. There is no time like the present.

Last Few Days of the Year

12/23/2011

 

Halcyon
Wednesday -Dec. 21, 2011
It’s the time of year where people get stressed and anxious, especially those who don’t have much in the world.  I think the holiday season is only a reminder. People say to be extra vigilant and watch your wallets.

We were approached today by a man .  He asked me for “Mike” as I walked passed him at the Cruisers Club morning coffee. He told me that he did work on my boat during the past summer and demanded that he get paid for it.  Said we owed him $5,000 pesos ($373).  Our boat was left in the care of a man
that had done much work for us over the previous year.  We were surprised to hear that he might have hired someone to work on our boat and not pay him, or tell us about it.  We told the man, Rafael, that we would have to talk with our man first.  He seemed ok with that.

Everything is coming together for us to depart from this place soon and the news that we might have to pay this individual this amount of money would keep us here another month. We weren’t very happy about the situation.

Thursday – December 22, 2011
Weather report states that a Nor-Easter is about to blow hard Friday thru Sunday.  Our engine was taken apart to get to the thermostat.  Sitting on the anchor out in the anchorage makes it an uneasy feeling not being able to start the motor should we need to during the blow. 

Our mechanic friend came out to the boat today to button the engine back up until our part arrives.  We tell him about our encounter with Rafael. 

Our mechanics reaction went from puzzled to surprised, to upset to really upset.  He began begging me to not pay this man.  “Por favor Ms. Shannon, Por favor Ms. Shannon, Por favor Ms. Shannon.”.

 He was standing in the wheel house where Michael was working doing some carpentry.  He backed up and sat right on top of the boxes of screws and fasteners.  His eyes filled with tears as he shook his head back and forth in disbelief.  He reminded us of a time in this past year
when some of the “locals” were jealous that he had work.  He said people were trying to cause problems for him.  He is a hard worker and is willing to go beyond the “call of duty” to get things accomplished. His belief is “If you don’t want to pay me for the work I’ve done, then don’t pay me.” Unfortunately, a occassional boater has stiffed him. 

Since we are the foreigners here, our espanol is very limited.  Our mechanic speaks very good english but sometimes things get lost in translation.  We assured him that we wouldn’t do anything without speaking to him first and that we were amigos (friends).

  Before he left the boat he said he was going to pay Rafael a visit and ask him ” what side do you want the blow on?”.    Our mechanic is an x-boxer, don’t think I would want to make him mad.

By the way, today I was determined to try out the pressure cooker pot I bought a year ago. Was anxious about using it since they had a reputation for exploding.  But since we’ve been on the boat I have read how cooking with these pots saves fuel, less cooking time. 

 So I had a cold beer, followed the directions and cooked beans for chili.  It went really well. The more I use this pressure cooker, the more at ease I will be. 

Friday 12-23-11

3AM I am awake.  The wind has clocked around and is gusting hard out of the north.  My son walks into our cabin and asks for the Excedrin.  He went to bed with a migraine that didn’t go away as he expected.  I do a few rounds of hot and cold compresses to help him relax.  It’s 5 am now.
I think he got back to sleep.

 The seas are rocking and rolling as the brass lamp above the galley table swings back and forth. Thought that would bother me but I hardly notice it any more.  The sound of the anchor chain rubbing on the anchor base vibrates the boat each time it comes in contact.  The water hitting
the side of the boat is relaxing but the motion of the boat twisting from side to side makes me unsteady when I’m getting around the boat.  Better get use to that too.  We are in it for at least 3 days this time. Not sure we will be able to go ashore to celebrate the holiday with friends. It’s a “wait and see”.

Holiday Season

12/21/2011

 

Groups of boats arrived in La Paz over Thanks Giving everyone hurried to their destinations.  They filled up the anchorages and dropped their anchors almost on top of other boaters anchors.  The weather got cooler and the boats eventually left to head south for warmer climates.  The quiet takes over.

Four days before Christmas.  No television commercials and no pressures.  The Sanctuary bells ring in succession during the day and night.  The sound drifts across the water to where we are anchored and is only a faint but sweet sound.  Peace.  A delight full time.  Being able to spend time as chosen and not as dictated is a real blessing.  If these days were my last, they were so well spent.

 

Back in Action

11/23/2011

We have been back in the water for six days now.  It was such a wonderful relief to put the boat back in the water.  It was like getting her out of jail.  Our dog had spent a week living out of her dog crate like a real dog.  It was impossible to bring her on board while the boat was on the hard, out of the water. Once it was splashed she ran down the dock with her tail wagging.  She wasn’t the only happy one.  Now you might ask me “just what are we looking at here?”.  We motored the boat out to the bay and dropped the anchor in a less populated area.  As the anchor was being dropped, Michael marked the spot where it went down.  Below is a picture of our GPS that has the feature of  where the wind has taken us.  It’s amazing the anchor and chain isn’t in one big knot under the boat.  We have had strong winds out of the south that clocked around out of the north and we are still holding strong. The diagram below looks like we have had sharp rough turns, but it has been a gentle glide and rocking motion the entire time. Life is good. 🙂

Traveling

10/30/2011

We have one week left before flying west to LA and then south to La Paz, Mx.  We got our new studio set up in the states to do our art work and are ready to get on the boat and bring it back to the states.  By the looks of the weather up north Mexico will be the ideal place to be spending some time this winter.  We are excited and anxious to take the boat thru the Panama Canal and then north to the U.S.

Are We There Yet?

08/14/2011

Seems like we spend most of our time wishing our lives away.

By the end of May we could hardly stand the heat in La Paz.  The days were starting to reach 100-101 and the window liners had been put back in the ports to keep the temperature down inside the boat.  Couldn’t wait for the sun to start setting just so we could sit out on the deck and attempt to catch a cool breeze.  By the first week in June we were planning on storing the boat for hurricane season and heading back to the states.

We had been in Mexico for 11 months and had no idea what we were missing. Television in the U.S. is mentally degrading not only the commercials but the programs as well.  The people are more self absorbed and less willing to speak in passing.   We discovered that we had been acclimated to La Paz.  Life in Mexico had taught us to slow down……. and focus on keeping it simple.

We have been back in the states for two months now and  are looking forward to returning to Mexico and our home on the boat. As soon as hurricane season is over and things start to cool off  we will be returning back to La Paz to pick up where we left off.  Are we there yet?

At Anchor

05/23/2011

We’ve been sitting on the anchor now for about 3 weeks. It has been great. When ever we need something from the store we take the dingy to shore. The ride is about 10 minutes depending on who’s driving. It’s it little Mike it’s a 3 minute trip and if it’s Michael (Dad) it’s about 10 minutes. Fast trips to shore with Mike have been fun and painful. He pulled the dingy up to the boat last week and touched the trottle just as I had started to reach for the rubrail of the sailboat. The dingy lunged forward and I slipped off the seat and onto the floor at Mikes feet in a flash, landing on my backside. Mike got to laughing so hard that the words “I’m so sorry Mom” were almost unrecognizable. It was funny.

For the past two weeks Michael has been working on the watermaker to try to get the system to produce water under 600 ppm (parts per million) It was producing water for awhile under 400 ppm. Then the system picked up some oil or debris and it hasn’t worked right since. He thought since we were anchored in an area where there is a consistant tide and current that debri such as oil would’nt be an issue, but it was. So Mike has been hauling water jugs to the boat for washing up and drinking.

 The nearby marina sells showers at 15 pesos each, which has been nice. There is a sign in the showers that asks people to keep their hot water showers down to 5 minutes. It states that some people in La Paz only get water 3 times a week and it’s at night. After reading that I stopped feeling sorry for myself and very thankful for that 5 minute shower. Due to the watermaker issue, we haven’t been out sailing. Hopefully today Michael will remedy the problem and we can be “up and running” again.

 Our refrigerator and freezer quit working last week. I had to throw out several pounds of ground beef and chicken. We are now using blocks of ice that we buy from shore to keep our drinks and foods cold. Luckily I can start the generator to vacuum out the water once the ice melts. The freezer needs a drain plug so that we can drain it into the bilge.

 Other than the on going rewiring of the electrical system, everything else is working fine. It wasn’t until the other day when I was working on our budget did I realize that for the month of May we have been almost totally self sufficient. If we didn’t need water and ice from shore, we would be totally self sufficient. That is a nice thought!


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