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Ship’s Blog

May 26, 2011-Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico #3

May 26th, 2011

Projects proceeding well- we have experienced several earthquakes - most recently May 25 (5.0). No damage, but it sure doesn’t feel good when you are aboard a boat, up in the air, on dry land.

Mexico continues to be full of surprises. Reading the newspaper and chatting with the locals to practice Spanish. Watching how the town handles several weeks of Protestas due to water rate increases (combined with reduced availability of water), watching lots of boats being hauled and prepared for summer-continuing to repair cracks in the deck-house-about 6 more port-lights to re-bed. It’s a long and tedious job, but we are happy to be getting it done. Weather is great-high 80’s to low 90’sF during the day, down to mid-60’sF at night-very comfortable for sleeping. The free Zumba exercise continues in the town square (three nights a week, hundreds of people of all ages, with loud, loud, loud rock music), and now they are setting up for Dia de Marinos (Navy Day) on June 1st.  The President of the Republic is planning to be here and they have set up some huge tents for expositions. Should be interesting!

This is also the season of weddings and graduations. Parties take place right here at this Marina and everyone sure likes to do the formal thing. Balloons and confetti and incredible outfits. Lots and lots of decorations. Even the littlest kids are often outfitted with tiny tuxedos or princess dresses.

Meanwhile, back at the boat, the work continues and we look forward to a break later in the summer. Continuing to try to beam some sunshine into Canada. Hope it’s working.

April 2011-Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico#2

April 20th, 2011

How quickly a month passes. Projects are well underway and proceeding more easily than expected. It’s still a tedious and difficult job, but Tony has developed a procedure that works well. Filling the deckhouse cracks with yellow cedar splines and it looks great. Taking a lot of care with the portholes, so there are many steps in the procedure. Hoping to have the entire aft cabin done by the end of the month.Lately there have been a number of wind events with gusting to 32 kt. At the same time, the temperature has hovered around the mid to high 80’s in the daytime and mid seventies at night. Although the yard was pretty quiet when we first arrived, the cruisers are starting to arrive as Hurricane season approaches. Some have already left for Canada and the States, and others are hauling and prepping their boats so they can leave them for several months.

The Fonatur Marinas are showing some stress, probably because they are still up for sale. The other day, the Travel Lift ran out of fuel and the Cruisers ended up donating some, in order to proceed with 2 planned haulouts that day. (And this, in a marina that has it’s own fuel dock! Looks like Administrative Challenges strike again!).

The other day, we were invited to join Taz, our original Native Guide here, and his lovely Mexicana friend, Esmerelda, for an evening of music in support of an Orphanage  Fund called “The Castaway Kids”. Several musical Gringo residents of San Carlos, as well as a couple of local Mexican bands. Great to take an evening to dine on the beach, real palm trees and the real moon as a stage backdrop, and get a taste of some local music. The event was organized by a couple who have a recording studio in San Carlos and who play soft country themselves. One Mexican band, called “The Twins”, features 2 sets of twins, with rhythm, lead  and bass guitars and percussion. They were joined by an accordian player who runs the local coffee empire . Later, a band called The Mariachis was represented by only 2 members, as the others had been involved in an auto accident in Guaymas on the way to the gig. In Mexico, if you have a traffic accident, everyone goes to the Police Station. If there is Insurance, the Insurance agent is called   the station, sorts out who is a fault and what is to be paid, and then hands over the cash there and then.If you have no insurance, you stay in jail till it all gets sorted out and you have paid what you owe. So Sonya and Martin held down the gig for the rest of the group. She confessed to being a little “nervosa” since these two don’t normally perform duets. However, he played some delicious fiddle,  she sang up a storm, and the rest of the Mexican musicians joined in. And we had a great time with Esmerelda, as she translated the Spanish songs for us and we translated the English songs for her. It gets to be even more fun when the meaning is more subtle. (”He’s dying of love” –no–he’s not dying because of love, he’s dying because she doesn’t return his love).

Meanwhile, we had a hard time resisting a little kid (about 7 years old-totally adorable) who came around to the tables selling jewelry—what a mover and shaker! Of course, he charmed everyone by choosing just the right piece of jewelry to go with the outfit each woman was wearing, placing the piece on her, and then glancing enquiringly at the man beside her, in hopes that he would pay. This kid is definitely going to go far. Especially since he never gave up, but came back again and again with yet another piece he thought would match.

An all around delightful evening, and maybe we will get to do this one again (it happens once a month). Until then, it’s back to work on those portholes.

Favorite Mexican phrase this week “Tan pronto como posible” (as soon as possible). Let’s hope that applies to the completion of the jobs.

March 2011-Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico

March 23rd, 2011

Schooner ‘Forbes and Cameron’ now has an excellent refrigeration unit fully functioning.  We can even make ice cubes and frozen desserts. The solar panels make more electricity than we need. FM3’s have been renewed, so we are legal in Mexico for another year.  Such a great group of cruisers and residents in Santa Rosalia, that it was sad to have to leave. After 5 months in San Felipe without using the guitars, we finally had some music time. Several wonderful singing and storytelling sessions in the ‘Palapa of Wisdom’, Santa Rosalia’s salty old gathering place.

Cast off around 1730 on March 12th. Arrived in Guaymas March 13th at 0830. No wind the first half of the trip, lumpy and on the nose the second half. By noon, we were hauled out and catching up with old friends in the area. Planning and plotting these last few huge projects.

What an amazing temperature change. In Santa Rosalia, we were still wearing polar fleece at night and not all that warm in the day — a range of 16-20C . Here in Guaymas, it was sudden summer, with temps up into the 30’s. Still a little cooler at night, and with a slight breeze, perfect working weather.

We are now beginning to wonder if the Canadian climate is following us. Yesterday the wind picked up and the temp dropped.  It’s 20 now, at 0730.

The projects involve removal of all port lights, repairs to deckhouses, hull and bulwarks, replacement of portlights and epoxy and paint jobs. Aquisition of materials takes a great deal of time and cunning. Yesterday the first portlight was removed. Today we hit the Segundas (2nd hand market) to scrounge for materials. Also a meeting with Luis, the fabulous welder of metals.

In addition to work, there have been some sightings of traditional buskers in the form of “fariseos”. More about this  tradition later. Perhaps this will be the motivator for re-learning how to put photos in this blog. The fariseos wear shells (much like Morris bells) on their legs, as they travel around dancing and drumming for money to support themselves during their voluntary poverty, usually for the duration of Lent. More about that, and some photos soon (maybe). In the meantime, you can see video of these guys if you google “fariseos+Guaymas”.

There is no time for the rest of the news right now, but maybe we’ll start to catch up in the next few months. Wishing everyone in Canada an early spring and warm and pleasant summer.

February 20, 2011-Santa Rosalia

February 20th, 2011

A delicious Valentine’s Day lunch (tamales from the blue van near the fishing fleet and marshmallow hearts on a stick from the Tecate store). One last dash into the not-nearby town for groceries and bakery goodies, one last wash down of the boat, (lots less to stow this time around) and a quiet departure under a full moon.

Departed San Felipe 1800 hr (6 pm) February 14th. An uneventful passage–no wind–but many many dolphins surfing along with us day and night. 36 hours to Santa Rosalia, averaging about 7.1 knots. Pulled into the harbour on the dot of noon on the 16th, as planned. (Actually 1300 (1 pm), since the time is different here). Greeted on the dock by Ron of Schooner ‘Gold Eagle’ and by Brad of ‘Aldonza’. Ron’s our old buddy from Ensenada and we try to meet up with ‘Gold Eagle’ whenever we can. When we hitchiked by boat from Santa Rosalia  last year, it was Brad who picked us up here and dropped us off in Guaymas with all our solar panels and chain. It’s great to see old friends and to be here at the ‘Palapa of Wisdom’ (Santa Rosalia Marina). This is a lovely little town and the funky old marina provides a welcome hangout for sailors passing through and some who never left.

There are two projects to complete in Santa Rosalia. One is the connection of the refrigeration. The other is renewal of our visas. Both projects are well underway. The weather is warm and sunny. Yesterday we had 80F, but that temperature is not yet consistent. 70F (20C) is more common. We expect to complete projects within the next couple of weeks  and then take off for Guaymas.

January 31, 2011-San Felipe

February 5th, 2011

Believe it or not, still in San Felipe. A one month project has stretched out. Details later. The average temperature right now is 20C. It’s almost always sunny. The wind blows up every few days - up around 20-30 kt out of the north.

San Felipe is still a difficult place to live on a boat. But, as always, the Mexican people are wonderful. Every day they delight us with their kindness, smiles, patience, way of looking at the world. And their willingness to listen, teach, learn, laugh, touch, sing, eat, empathize, improvise, play, and make just about any gathering of 2 or more people a fiesta. Come to think of it, we have heard  a lone fisherman singing his heart out as he brings his panga into the harbour. It only takes one for a fiesta here!

This weekend we actually started to put furniture back on the boat, having taken it apart to trouble-shoot the electrical system. At this moment, the computer is running, and may soon be behaving itself and performing all its necessary functions.

We’d like to say we will be heading for Guaymas via Santa Rosalia in the next week, but we don’t dare. Big winds expected in the next few days.

To see the weather report we listen to every day on the HAM radio, Google: SONRISANET+HAM. This is a great web-site and we listen to this net every morning.  It covers the Sea of Cortez in detail and surrounding areas more generally.

Once we get out of this project and on to the next, we’ll try to find time to fill in a few more details of the last few passages and our stay in San Felipe.

And we’ll try to remember to post just before we leave here. Stay tuned and stay warm!

PS Feb 5: The predicted winds hit about 40 kts here (some harbours had 57) for about 2 days-a few lines popped, fenders departed, the navy boat next to us was full of water at 2 am-a freezing Canadian wind brought temperatures down as low as 4C-luckily, it’s back to Mexico weather now, sunny 17.7C and all is well.

December 4, 2010 in San Felipe

December 4th, 2010

In San Felipe and continuing work on the boat. Weather has cooled off considerably and the Northern wind blows with a fury every few days. Enjoying proximity to the fishing fleet and the many soldiers and sailors who work from this dock. Just finishing off the last of many projects before heading for Guaymas via San Felipe. More detailed up-date to come.

September 18th, 2010 San Felipe

September 18th, 2010

Here we are in San Felipe, in the Sea of Cortez. Since leaving Guaymas in August, we have stopped in Santa Rosalia, Bahia Los Angeles (roadstead anchorage and La Mona), Refugio, Bahia Willard, and now San Felipe, the northernmost cruiser port in the Sea (on the east coast of the Baja Penninsula). Every stop has been a unique experience. As predicted, the weather has been very hot and humid–with the cabin up around 100F many days, and the humidity up to 80% at times. The sea temperature was 87.5F when we left Willard.

We are both well and happy and very, very brown! We’ve seen our first whale sharks (unbelievable!) and learned to live on a gallon of water a day. Met some amazing characters, learned a lot about the history of Baja, and soaked up a lot of moonlight and starlight.

After more than a month at anchor, we have taken a slip at the Marina here.We will use this opportunity to complete some much needed work on the boat–especially deckhouse repairs and completion of the chain anchoring system. Hopefully, we will also find time to update this blog in more detail.

Just this minute found out that today is the opening of Shrimp Season here–that explains the crowds along the beach—there are many food stands selling deliciously prepared shrimp. Guess it must be dinnertime.

More soon.

August 2010: First stop Santa Rosalia

August 13th, 2010

The first short leg of the Sea of Cortez trip proved uneventful. 13 kt on the nose and an all-night motor. No moon, lots of stars, and no other boats until we approached the Santa Rosalia fishing fleet just about dawn.

We are now re-visiting Santa Rosalia, picking up some refrigeration parts, connecting with friends old and new, and installing several 12 volt fans. Weather remains hot and humid with lightning in the distance some nights.

It is officially Hurricane season. This year, so far, there has been little tropical storm activity here. However, in September of last year,  a Hurricane did a lot of damage to boats and homes and to the town in general. The same over in the Guaymas/San Carlos area. So, while there is nothing alarming in the weather picture, it is really time to get north, and we will be heading out again on Saturday, August 14th. (Not that we’re totally superstitious about the previous day, but then again…why tempt fate?

The next anchorage will likely be San Francisquito, known by locals as “The place Saint Francis quit!” Here is what one cruiser guide tells us:

“Bahia San Francisquito is unique and wonderful, offering a real essence of the heart of Baja. The lonley howls of coyotes roaming nearby hillsides, and the distant blows of whales feeding on the nutrient rich sea mark the late night hours here. Long-legged jackrabbits and skittering lizards seek shelter among the thorny desert scrub. Vibrant cactus flowers and cooing doves add a softness to the otherwise harsh desert surroundings. At San Francisquito, the desert and sea combine, making a perfect stop for the nature lover, the hiker, and the fisherman.”;; (Sea of Cortez: A Cruiser’s Guidebook, Shawn Breeding and Heather Bansmer). 

San Francisquito is only 77 miles north of Santa Rosalia, so likely to be another all-nighter. After that, the anchorages are many. Having never been here before, we don’t know which ones we’ll visit. But here are a few of the likely stops:

*Bahia San Francisquito
Isla San Pedro Martir
Isla San Lorenzo
Isla Partida
*Bahia Los Angeles
Puerto Peñasco
Puerto Refugio
Bahia Willard/Bahia San Luis Gonzaga
San Felipe
Bahia Kino
and many other little anchorages in El Mar de Cortez

*pretty certain

We look forward to the challenge of cruising in the hot Mexican summer, with little, if any, access to ice, stores, and communication. In November 2010, it will be safe to return to Guaymas, where we can get back online and up-date this blog. (We’ll do it before then, if there is a way). Hasta luego.

July/August 2010: Guaymas, Mexico

August 12th, 2010

Back in the water July 15th, with projects successfully completed. New bowsprit, deck houses painted and non-skidded, solar panels mounted, life-ring installation reconfigured, new lifelines installed, anchor chain and system set up, bottom and waterline cleaned and painted, and a million other projects. No time for details. We spent a month at the dock at Marina Singlar, Guaymas, with the opportunity to complete a couple more projects from the long-term wish list (weather and the marina are permitting)–including another awning, bug screens and nets, and then the final provisioning and re-stowing. The weather there, as predicted, was hot and humid, into the 100’sF in the daytime and down only to the 90’s at night.

Up until the last night, we used the boat AC we purchased second-hand to help us survive the relentless heat while working. The AC proved a good investment and we plan to store it away here in Guaymas for the next haul-out.

Continuing to delight in the Mexican people. Continuing to appreciate the desert geography, the bird life (not the insect life– although, we did have to learn the Spanish word for “ant” as they came marching aboard on the “yellow brick road” (our hose and electrical cord)). Apparently this is a sign of impending rain, and we did get a sprinkle at midnight one night, along with wind and lightning. The weather remained unsettled for a few days and then we experienced a flash storm–very heavy rain, thunder and lightning for several hours…big dash to put away projects. We finally departed Guaymas on the 8th of August. Happy and healthy and ready for the next adventure.

May 2010, Guaymas Mexico

May 9th, 2010

Here we are in Guaymas, and we have finally started to experience some warm weather. Predictions for 40-45C next week. We just returned from a trip to San Diego, where we picked up some boat equipment. This involved a 14 hour bus trip to Tijuana, a week in San Diego staying with our friend, Marcus, on his boat in Coronado, a whirlwind drive with another friend back to Ensenada. A few days there, then another 14 hour drive south to Santa Rosalia (car crammed full of 5 adults, one grandchild, tons of boat gear including amongst other things, 300 ft. of chain, 2 solar panels, bottom paint and a ladder). Spent the week in Santa Rosalia attending Ron and Susy’s wonderful Mexican wedding onboard the Schooner ‘Gold Eagle’ and then hitch-hiked on a Hans Christian  back to Guaymas and unloaded everything. Now it’s fast forward work on the boat for the next 2 months as we must splash in by July 7th. More details later. Happy May to everyone.