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. 🙂

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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!

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.

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.


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