Halcyon Waits in Baja Til Hurricane Season is Over.

05/12/2011

The tropics are heating up and the storms are starting to brew. Not a good time to head south to Panama for Halcyon and her crew.

The choice has been made to sail around in the Sea of Cortez and get more familiar with the boat.

Advertisements

Sea Trials

04/19/2011

The day was getting so hot that we were dragging our bodies around as we went about our chores.  The high was predicted to be 95 degrees and I think it was close to it by 11AM.  The deck looked like a bomb hit it. Michael turned to me and said “Let’s clean this all up on the way out of here”.  Those were the best words I had heard all morning.  So he started up the motor and out we went, cleaning up the deck as we motored along. 

The water was Blueberry Blue and the hues changed lighter to white as the water got shallower.  We motored up to the same place as before, a couple of weeks ago. There were people in kayaks, waverunners, and fishing boats. The anchor was dropped in 20′ of water.  The GPS set to announce any dragging of the anchor.

Mike jumped into the inflatable dingy with a 4 stroke 10 hp motor on the back.  Off he flew to go check out the sights.  He was so fun to watch as he bounced off the waves from a nearby waverunner.

As my eyes scanned the water I  saw several schools of fish right on the surface of the water.  Each time a bird flew over it was as tho the bird had a magnetic pull as a soft swosh sound would occur and many of the little fish would pile up in the direction the bird was flying.

Later in the evening the guys were out on the deck, when a kayak with a father and son pulled up next to the boat.

The little boy yelled “HOLA!” As if he were saying “I said Hi!   He spoke some english and asked if he could come on board and have his picture taken.  Up comes Father and Son.  More voices came from behind the boat. Three more people climb on board. It was Mom and two daughters. The children looked to be between the ages of 9-12.  They all wanted their pictures taken on the boat.  So we took their pictures.

As the sun  set and the full moon crossed the mountain, it reflected into the sea.

Michael was  done for the day and goes to bed.  Little Mike says he’s wired and can’t go to sleep.  Says he doesn’t like being on the anchor.  I tell him he’ll have to get use to it because we’ll be anchored out much over the next 3 months. He explains that he should have gone to bed while we were still up so that he could feel that someone was on watch.  So I tell him that I would be up for a while.  He finally settles down and goes to sleep.

If I weren’t so sleepy I’d stay up for hours sitting in the companion way watching the stars and the bright lit up moon. There’s a gentle breeze blowing which carries the sound of the mariachi bands tuba player over from the nearby beach.  Someone must have gotten married today due to the  white tents set up and music being played all afternoon.

By the next morning the guys go over the routine check of the engine and find a leaky transmission seal and a few other issues that need to be addressed.

It is decided that we head back to the marina and address these matters.  Shouldn’t take more than a day or two and hopefully we will be out again for another sea trial.

Bitter Sweet

04/13/2011

A week has passed, almost two…but I thought I’d better update my blog.  Our family pet Wally passed away Sunday two weeks ago.  It was a very sad time for us.  We had the boat ready for a sea trial so we took the opportunity to motor out into the bay and bury Wally in close to 100′ of water.  The ride out was exciting.  The boat handled like a dream.  The day was clear and warm with virtually no wind and the water was crystal clear. Dolphins decided to escort us as we crossed the downtown area of La Paz.  They stayed directly under our bow wake and when I talked to them, they would surface and blow water at me.  It made me smile.

We left the dock around 3:30 pm and arrived at a deep place in the bay close to sunset.  As we looked around for a spot to say goodbye to our friend, we passed a seal playing around in the water.  I poured two shot glasses of Coconut Rum and one of Grape Juice as the three of us offered a toast to Wally.  He was wrapped in red canvas from the boat, weighed down with some heavy weight and slid into the bay.  We watched as his body sink below the depths out of sight. Not one of us could speak a word.

Michael slowly walked back to the wheelhouse, put the engine in gear and headed out to a nearby island where we would anchor for the night.  We pulled into a cove and dropped the anhcor in about 20′ of water.  We had a light dinner of salsas, bean drip and tortilla chips.  As the light faded away the wind began to blow and blow it did hard until 2:30 AM.  Michael set the alarm on the GPS, as we all took sights on land to get an idea where we were so if we dragged anchor we would know.  By the time we finished dinner the wind had picked up considerably and we were concerned that we had dragged, so the three of us went on topsides, Mike at the wheel, Michael on the anchor as I am handed a flashlight and the VHF Radio to give Mike orders as Michael attempts to reset the anchor.  The wind just howled in our ears.  Michael had to yell for me to hear him giving me directions as to where to shine the light all at the same time giving me directions to relay to Mike.  With all of the mix of emotions running around in my head, I notice I’m pointing the handheld radio at the anchor while talking in the flashlight. Not helpfull!

Michaels content at last that we are staying in the same spot and goes below to bed.  While Mike makes a place on the deck to sleep.  He wanted to keep one eye open in case we start to drag.  I bring him a pillow and warm blanket while our other dog snuggles up to him to keep warm.  Me…I felt I would be most useful if I just stayed up all night.  The sun warms up the land during the day and when the sunsets the cooler air covers the land as the warmer air rushes upward.  It felt like the wind blew over 30 knotts that night.

By 4:30AM, I went to sleep.  Guys got up by 7Am.  I joined them, fixed a big breakfast then we lowered the little boat over the side while Mike and Caelin, our black lab, took a ride to the beach for her morning walk.  Then we splashed my kayak over the side and off I went for a morning paddle.  It was absolutely beautiful.  The farther out I paddled the clearer the water got and I could see all kinds of large fish under me.  It made me feel like I was up high looking down, as my heart sank.  A sea plane passed overhead and then circled around the island as well as an ultralight float plane.

As I paddled around the rocky cliff, white sandy beaches came into view. Wow what a day.  When I returned to the boat I noticed the tide was going out, we were in 7′ of water.  Our draft is 6′.  Michael seemed content to stay there but on went the motor, then up he pulled the anchor and out to the bay once again.  We headed back across La Paz and over to the marina where we have been staying.  It took 1 to 2 hours to get back.

Once we were back in our slip at the marina we felt exhausted, mostly from the sadness in our hearts from losing our friend.  It was a bitter sweet time.

Planning Provisions

02/14/2011

 

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.

Quick to Adapt

02/12/2011

Last year when we told our 16-year-old we were selling our home and moving on to a boat I thought he was going to come unglued.  His past with sailboats, while in Boy Scouts, was a negative experience and we weren’t real sure how he was going to adapt.  Well today he just piloted a 40′ boat out of the bay into the channel to the marina where we are docked.  The owner left the helm to him and he took it all the way into the slip while Michael and I watched and held our breath.  He did a fantastic job and acted like he had been on boats all of his life.  Since we have been here he has befriended many other boater teens and they have taught him how to sail, at the expense of their own sailing dingies.  But Mike is a fast learner and actually loves sailing.  Now that we are close to our 3,000 nautical mile cruise we are relieved that this will be something that he will enjoy.

Wind Advisory

02/04/2011

Each morning at 8Am the VHF Radio on channel 22 comes to life. They call it “The Cruisers Net”. It starts off with “is there any emergency traffic?”. Then the tides are reported and on to the weather. Last Friday during the weather report it was said that there would be a high pressure over the area by the following Wednesday which would bring on high winds and choppy seas. Surprisingly the winds began as reported, to the day. 

It began Wednesday morning before noon. All the desert dirt began to be picked up and swirled around  coating everything with a nice thin layer. While driving down the roads you could look ahead and see a virtual dust storm right before your eyes. Out in the bay there were white caps every where and on the horizon there was a long line of white foam from east to west. Boats on the anchor were bobbing up and down. Some looked as tho they were riding the waves smoothly while others jumped back and forth from beam to beam. Reports were coming up on the VHF Radio, people calling for help due to their anchors coming lose as the tide ran fast with the wind on its side. Dingies were breaking loose and off on their own. One boater had somehow fallen out of his dingie and was holding on the side of his boat desperately yelling for help from another boater at anchor as he drifted by. A zip lock bag was reported adrift carrying his cell phone, wallet, credit cards and pesos.  As each report came over the radio I was reminded how happy I was to be tied up at the dock.

Now it is 10:30 at night and the wind is still howling 30 maybe for 40 knots. This boat that I’ve been on for 6 months is demonstrating how well it moans and groans as the wind peaks and wines. I’ve already been outside to place a fender on the dingie so it will stop bumping the side of the boat and tieing off little things that are going “clickadity clack” and keeping me awake.

 I love to hear the sound of the wind, it reminds me of the days we lived on a boat on the Outer Banks of North Carolina in the winter. The wind there had character as it does here tonight. We will keep the radio on channel 22 to listen if anyone gets in trouble and needs help with their boats. Hopefully we will get a good nights sleep.

Sorry Few Pictures

02/04/2011

Very sorry to report that pictures will be intermitted for a while.  The wifi connection is sporadic leaving me in mid sentence while writing emails to friends and family, and blog posts.    As it improves so will my posts.

 Thanks for hanging in with me.

Winding Up or Down

01/27/2011

Winding Up or Winding Down is the question. After arriving in La Paz 5 months and 15 days later the question still hangs in the air “When are you heading back to the states?”.

During our 5 month stay we have met so many interesting people and each one has a unique story to share as to how and why they are here. We have met people from all over the world, some are young and some are not so young. Some got caught up in the lifestyle and never went anywhere else. Many leave and come back.

 The sunsets on the water and wildlife are like no other place in the world. It is said that there is no other place that has so much diversity in sea life. But the land is all desert/dirt and cactus. Since we have arrived, we have not witnessed one full day of rain, clouds maybe. With the climate being so dry, I can’t tell if I’m getting older faster with each new wrinkle in my skin or if my body is just thirsty formoisture.Probably a little of both.

The boat needed more attention than we expected. Issues are being addressed as we are “seeing a light at the end of the tunnel”.  We have needed the help of services in the community and have bonded with many of the locals.  It would be a huge asset if we could speak the language. This stay can be considered a crash course in Spanish. I feel like a child straining to learn and understand. Ignorance has taken a place within me and it’s not a good feeling. I will have much more respect for those who are in a strange land and can not speak the language. Those that are helping us with our repairs have gone out of their way to make our stay more pleasant, many have invited us into their homes during the holidays. When we depart from here a piece of my heart will be left behind.

As it looks this week, we are marking off items on the “To do list”, and we are studying the weather and tide patterns more. The feeling is like standing on the beach watching the sets of waves come in while waiting for the perfect time to jump in. I’d like to think we are winding up to jump in.

Fresh Fish

12/17/2010

One of the greatest perks living on a boat is the people.  We had a friend come down the dock to visit us today who had just returned from fishing in Cabo San Lucas.  He told us about the variety of fish he caught and gave us a nice 3′ Dorado.  I had been putting off going to the grocery store when this fish arrived.  It was great.  We ate fresh fish for almost a week. Now that’s the good life.

Finally

10/24/2010

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.


%d bloggers like this: