Thursday, September 8, 2016

Sea Rover survives Newton

Our hearts broke yesterday as news trickled in about the destruction in Guaymas and San Carlos from Hurricane Newton.  5 boats were sunk at the Fonatur docks where we have Sea Rover on the hard.  Many others sustained damage of some sort.  There are reports of any where from 20 to 200 boats toppled over at Marina Seca in San Carlos.  All of these boats are someone's home for at least part of the year and all of them have had endless hours of blood sweat and tears poured into them.

The towns of Guaymas and San Carlos both suffered major damage but in true Mexican fashion less than a day after loosing most of the electrical infrastructure reports are already in of power being restored.  What the people in these areas lack in material wealth, they certainly make up with their incredible sense of "getting it done"!  The locals who having nothing yet still lost everything yesterday, will never get any press about their plight.   Having said that, today will just be another day for them as they pick themselves up, brush themselves off and carry on as happy and friendly as ever.
Sea Rover some how came out unscathed, but we feel no joy as many of our friends will be dealing with the daunting task of repairing the dream.  We can't imagine the emotions we would be feeling if Sea Rover had fallen over or worst still sunk.  Our boat has kept us safe through many difficult situations that we put her in and I would be beside myself if harm had come without me there to do everything I could to keep her safe.  The road to recovery will be long for many this year.  All we can say is "just do it!".  Sure it will be hard, but by finding a way to pick yourselves up and keep your vision alive, the rewards will be all that much greater at the end when you are back in the water enjoying sun downers with great friends and not a care in the world.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Season Two Ends in Guaymas

Sea lion resting on our ladder
It is hard to believe that our second Cruising season has come to an end… While the weather made it a challenge at times, it was a good year and we learned a lot. 

We hosted five sets of guests and enjoyed our time with all of them.  Dennis and Rosario had the most challenging visit as they got to experience what we Cruisers now refer to as the “Never Ending Norther” (8 days of 20+ knot winds).  Regardless, we enjoyed a few days of Carnival and they got some experience sailing in 30+ knots of wind.  Nadine and Lynn started off their trip stuck in La Paz as the harbor was official closed due to the high winds, but managed to enjoy Carnival and a few “sporty” sails when we finally made it out to the islands.  Maureen and Neil spent the first (and, as it turned out, only!) tranquil week with us out in the islands.  Despite the lack of wind and no fish biting, we had a good time snorkeling, swimming and walking on the beaches.  A much needed break from the elements for us!  My parents experienced a bit of everything – wind, calms, quiet villages, remote anchorages.  And, of course, a lot of sailing! 
Libby, right after I 'broke' her - again
Our last guest Libby had to work the hardest to get to us (plane, cab, bus, cab to remove beach), but was rewarded with a week of reasonably calm weather.  Unfortunately she didn’t get to see any whale sharks, but we know that just means she’ll be back next year to try again!

As always, the highlights of this year revolve around people, both old friends and new.  We thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with Rob and Deb on s/v Avant; Dennis on s/v Ultegra; Jim and Tricia on s/v Falcon VII; Dale and Ken on s/v Adios; Cindy, John and Journey (and Nook) on s/v Namaste; Nate, Natalie and Sullie on s/v Astreae; Mark and Eden on m/v Halcyon I; Margie and Chuck on s/v Dream Catcher; Annette and Mike on s/v Rum Doxy; Bo and Libby on s/v Ptarmigan;  Jim and Amy on s/v Millie J; Bjarne and Barb on s/v Hoku Pa’a; Jim and Mary on r/v Missing Link; Doreen and Mike on s/v St. Leger; and many many others. 
Crews of Sea Rover, Greybeard and Kialoa enjoying the pool in Guaymas

As last year, we spent the most time with our best friends Scott and Tanya on s/v Kialoa and Bill on s/v Greybeard.  The year wouldn’t have been the same without them.

Servicing the outboard
We spent the last two weeks in Guaymas doing all the tasks required to prepare Sea Rover for a summer on the hard.  Such tasks included washing all the sails, removing the sails, washing all the running rigging, covering anything plastic with tin foil (all the lights, clutches etc), washing and removing the canvas, removing everything from the rails, washing and deflating all the fenders, washing the anchor and chain, covering all the winches, servicing the outboard engine, washing the dinghy, doing oil changes on the engine, transmission and watermaker pump, flushing the engine with fresh water, removing the impeller from the raw water pump on the engine, pickling the watermaker, oiling all the wood inside (a huge job!), cleaning the boat, vacuum sealing all bedding and clothes, storing all food, watering the batteries, to name a few.  Luckily we had the pool at the Fonatur Marina to revive us after working long hours in the sun and heat. 
De-contaminating after removing the leaking holding tank

In between preparing the boat we did find time for some extracurricular activities.  Scott, Tanya, Gary and I had an ‘evening of culture’ and attended the musical “El Mago de Oz”, the Wizard of Oz in Spanish.  It was indescribable.  While we didn’t expect a Broadway quality production, we weren’t prepared for what we actually got.  The sets didn’t include a yellow brick road, Kansas apparently has a lot of trees, and there were several wardrobe malfunctions.  Did I mention they broke into a disco dance number right in the middle of the play??!  Maybe it made sense in Spanish.  I only wish I’d brought the camera… 

Sea Rover moving to her summer home
We hauled out last Monday and so Sea Rover will be spending the summer at Marina Fonatur in Guaymas, with Kialoa and Greybeard for company. I returned to Canada on Thursday; Gary stayed behind to finish up a few jobs and to wait until the work we’ve just commissioned on the boat begins (stay tuned!).  He’ll be home next week, where he will no doubt start planning and plotting our next Cruising season.  

A happy summer to all.

Sailing/Motoring Stats for the Year:

Guaymas to La Paz (441 nm): 65% sailing, 35% motoring
 La Paz to Puerto Escondido (153nm):  70% sailing, 30% motoring
Visit with my parents (103nm):  60% sailing, 40% motoring
Puerto Escondido to Guaymas (213nm): 70% sailing, 30% motoring

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

More Sailing Adventures

We’ve spent the last month in the Loreto area and north exploring different bays, hanging out at a fancy beach resort, entertaining guests (my parents, and my friend Libby), and sailing, sailing, sailing. 

Prior to my parents arrival we spent almost a week in Puerto Ballandra, which is 9nm east of Loreto on Isla Carmen.  It is a lovely protected bay.  We enjoyed a few days of rest, then tired ourselves out with a big hike up into the hills to see if we could get some views of the other side of the island.  We made sure to wear bright colours to ensure we were visible to the hunters that frequent the island in search of big horn sheep (only in Mexico??). 

Anchorage at Puerto Ballandra

After re-charging our batteries, we headed south to Bahia Candeleros and the Villa del Mar resort.  We anchored out front and used the facilities until it was pointed out to us that the wrist bands we were given by the hotel staff only entitled us to eat in the restaurant, NOT use the pool etc.  Oops.  Regardless, we celebrated Scott’s birthday (s/v Kialoa) there with appis on the beach and dinner out in the restaurant.  A nice treat.

Off-roading in Caleta San Juanico
Mum and Dad: Married 50 Years!!

We picked my parents up in Puerto Escondido and started a 100nm circle tour for the next 10 days or so.  The adventure started with an easy upwind sail from Loreto to Isla Coronado, a lovely island north of Loreto.  After enjoying some time with friends, we actually had a downwind spinnaker run up to San Juanico, a rare event as San Juanico is 20 nm further north!  We spent a few days in San Juanico waiting out the latest “Norther”, then did a very long 60nm sail down south to Agua Verde.  Some of the crew didn’t fare well on this passage as the seas were big and sloppy.  A hell of a sail though! 

We took a much needed break in Agua Verde and celebrated my parents 50th wedding anniversary, and then Easter.  The normally quiet and remote village had been transformed into a mini metropolis as several hundred Mexican families descended on the beach for their yearly week-long Easter camping extravaganza.  They seemed to thoroughly enjoy socializing and playing in the water, and we enjoyed watching them try to get their fully loaded vehicles back up the very rough road at the end of the weekend.  Never say never in Mexico… 

Mission in San Javier near Loreto
Another day of sailing took us back to the resort at Bahia Candeleros, where we celebrated Gary’s birthday.  After a sleepless night due to strong westerly winds on a lee shore (and a 2am rescue of the dinghy from the boat next to ours), we sailed back to Puerto Escondido and dropped the hook.  As my parents had had enough sailing adventures for one trip, we spent their last day touring the countryside in our rental car.  

Large pod of Saddleback dolphins hunting
After dropping my parents off in Loreto, we pushed a weather window and sailed north up to the protected waters of Bahia Concepcion.  We covered only 80 nm run in 25 hours in what Gary describes as his second worst sail on record.  We beat into 10-12 knot NW and NE winds and BIG seas, hour after hour, after hour.  As each nautical mile gained going upwind was precious, Gary ended up having to sail almost the entire way, tacking once or twice every hour.  We were lucky if we made 3-4 nm forward progress every tack out and back.  One tack was tolerable in terms of boat motion (the tack we spent the least amount of time on), but the other was brutal.  We bounced so much and took so many waves over the front deck that it knocked our anchor loose.  Sleeping was impossible.  Eating was impossible.  Peeing was a major event.  After spending 4 hours within 10nm of Punta Concepcion (where we would be able to turn down into the bay and be in comfortable seas), we broke down and turned on the engine.  Gary said he would have turned it on earlier (a first!) except we’d started having that engine cooling issue again that plagued us last year and the beginning of this season.  Apparently our “fix” didn’t entirely do the trick.  As the issue only happens after we’ve been sailing upwind in rough seas, we figured there wasn’t a hope in hell it would work.  While Gary can get the engine going when the issue occurs, there was no way he could do it in the seas we were facing.  After a lot of praying, wishing and hoping, we turned the engine on.  The gods must have decided to give us a break as she started fine and ran without issue.  Phew.  Otherwise we’d probably still be out there tacking back and forth… 

Enjoying a camp fire with the RV'ers
We then spent the next two weeks recuperating in Bahia Concepcion.  We hung out with our friends on s/v Kialoa and Greybeard, and met some new friends as well (Libby and Bo on s/v Ptarmigan, Annette and Mike on s/v Rum Doxy, Amy and Jim on s/v Millie J etc).  We also met a wonderful couple in an RV on the beach, Mary and Jim from Sacramento.  They were incredibly kind to us all.  They drove us into Mulege for supplies, made us dinner, and hosted several beach parties.  Thanks Mary and Jim for your friendship and hospitality. 

My friend Libby from the Bay Area came to visit while we were in Concepcion.  We chose not to do any sailing while she was on board, but did move the boat to another anchorage in search of the elusive whale sharks.  We saw them up until the day she arrived, and then no more.  I guess the season is almost over for them as well.  Despite a lack of sea life (the snorkeling proved disappointing as well), we had a nice, relaxing visit.  We only tried to break her once (this seems to be a tradition when we get together for a trip).  Luckily she proved resilient once again.  Libby, I hope the knee fully recovers soon!

Juan Valdez on a hike
Based on a forecast of strong northwesterly winds starting at midnight, we’d expected to end the season off with a “sporty” sail across the Sea from the Baja side over to Guaymas on the mainland side. All my angst proved to be for naught though, as we ended up motoring most of the way across in calm, but lumpy seas (sadly the seas always seem to increase ahead of the wind…).  While the Captain wasn’t all that enthused about the trip, we made it without incident.  We are now enjoying Guaymas and are getting ready to put Sea Rover II on the hard for a much needed rest.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Sailing Uphill

Isla San Francisco
Gary's mission any time the boat moves is that we MUST sail at least 60% of the time.  He is quite obsessive about this.  As you can imagine, he didn’t appreciate the calm weather we had during Neil and Maureen’s visit at the end of February as much as I did.  

So, when we left La Paz for our trip up to Loreto two weeks ago I knew we were in for an uphill ride – literally.

The uphill journey began immediately.  No sooner had we pulled up the hook when the winds filled in for a nice close hauled sail up to Isla Espiritu Santo.  We had planned on stopping for the night and enjoying a few days in the islands, but calm seas (and no wind) were forecast for the next couple of days.  However, a light westerly wind was forecast for the night and so we changed gears and made plans for a slow overnight sail to Isla San Francisco 25nm away.  It was actually a lovely sail.  While I got some sleep, Gary deployed the spinnaker and enjoyed the incredible bioluminescence and the million stars in the moonless sky.  It was so calm and glassy you could hear whales breaking the surface miles away and dolphins circling just out of sight.   We glided into the anchorage at 3am and anchored amongst 18 other boats.  Mission accomplished on leg one.

Exploring the mangroves
After enjoying a few days snorkeling and hiking on Isla San Francisco with our friends on Kialoa and Greybeard, we headed north on leg two of our voyage north.  We motored in flat calm seas (and no wind) to the next anchorage and enjoyed exploring the nearby mangrove lagoon for a couple of hours.  Surprisingly, a SOUTH wind started up in the early afternoon.  Instead of staying for the night as planned, we pulled up the hook and had a glorious downwind sail through San Jose channel.  Mission accomplished again on leg two.

Red rocks at dawn, Punta San Telmo
Leg three began the same way as leg two – motoring in no wind.  This lasted for about an hour before the wind picked up to 4 knots.  Then we had to sail.  While Kialoa and Greybeard decided sailing in 4 knots was retarded, we sailed slowly (and I mean slowly…) north for the next 4 hours.  We (ie, Gary) finally gave up when it was so calm I agreed to jump off the boat in the middle of the sea to go for a swim.  Mission only sort of accomplished for leg three as we managed to sail 10 out of  the 22nm. 

Leg four got an unexpected start when we got up to watch the sunrise and realized there was a bit of wind.  While still in our pajamas we hoisted the anchor and set sail.  The wind didn’t last long, but it did get us half way to our destination 9nm away.
Photos on the beach at dawn
Early start
Leg five was supposed to be a complete motor as there was absolutely no wind forecast.  Of course it turned out to be our craziest sail of the trip.  We had planned on an early start but Gary didn’t want to leave as there was no wind.  After twiddling our thumbs for an hour, we motored out of the bay in calm conditions.  Then we turned the corner and were pleasantly surprised to find it blowing about 12 knots.  We sailed close hauled for half an hour or so before Gary decided he needed to put sunscreen on.  As he was doing that, I went downstairs to ensure all the port holes had been closed (which was incredibly lucky as it turns out we had missed one).  
As I was down in the cabin it seemed like we were starting to heel over more than expected.  The next thing I knew I’m crawling up the floor trying to stuff our entire alcohol supply back into the liquor cabinet.  I yelled up the companionway to Gary to “do something”.  He stared down at me while waving his hands in the air and mouthed something at me that was lost in the now howling wind.  I scrambled up into the cockpit and realized the wind had increased from 12 to 25 knots in the 2 minutes I’d been downstairs!!  I shot Gary the “why the F@#% haven’t you started to reef the boat” look , when he held his hands up again and calmly told me he couldn’t touch anything as his hands were too slippery from all the sunscreen!  After 10 minutes of chaos we got the boat under control again (double reefed main, triple reefed genoa) and turned around to head back to the anchorage we’d just passed.  The conditions started to moderate as we got closer to land, so we turned the boat around again and decided to try heading north to our original destination.  We ended up sailing the whole way in pretty much every condition.  Mission definitely accomplished for leg five.

Leg six turned out to be more of the same after sitting out a three day blow.  We left the anchorage expecting to motor 10 nm north up to the next bay.  Piece of cake.   Conditions were fine when we left the bay but quickly deteriorated to 4-5 foot seas spaced as close as I’ve ever seen them. 

Mobula ray mid-air
Unfortunately the wind was all over the place.  First there is no wind, then there is 18 knots of wind.  So we reefed.  Then we un-reefed.  Then we reefed.  All the while bashing into waves that are pretty much continually swamping the deck.  Then we heard friends of ours calling on the radio.  We could barely make out what they were saying over their screaming and the wind noise, but we learned they’d just left the bay we were going to and had encountered wind gusts of up to 40 knots!  Even though we were only 6nm from our destination, we turned around and sailed 25nm around the island to the next anchorage.  We sailed 100% of this one, 90% of which was upwind.  As I made the call to turn around, Gary says this one was on me.  Mission accomplished times 20 for leg six.


We arrived in our present location last Thursday and haven’t felt the need to move.  The anchorage is lovely.  As we can see the lights of Loreto from where we are sitting,  we are getting TelCel coverage here and somewhat spotty internet (but it is internet).  I’ve been able to do work, and we’ve got a few boat projects completed.  We did a big hike this morning and have been enjoying the birds, fish, and life.  We’ll have to leave this paradise soon though as we are scheduled to pick up my parents on Saturday.  Hopefully we’ll have nothing but fair winds and calm seas while they are on board. 

Morning light, Punta San Telmo

Dolphins on the move

On top of the world

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Three Sets of Visitors, Three Very Different Experiences, Two Different Opinions

Denis and Rosario - they survived!
The great thing about spending your second year Cruising the same area is that your friends finally know where to find you and come for a visit.  Since I returned from working in Vancouver for the month of January, we have hosted three different sets of friends on board.  Our first guests were fellow Bluewater Cruising Association members Rosario and Denis.  They recently upgraded from a 27 foot Catalina to a 42 foot ketch and were hoping this trip would give them some insight into what it is like to “live the dream”, which they are planning to do in a few years.  They may have got more than they bargained for…

Karina says:

Choppy seas in the La Paz channel
You may remember from previous blog posts that the weather this year has been a challenge.  Unfortunately the first two weeks of February were no exception.  After a few days of relative calm in the anchorage, we left La Paz on a strong westerly and sailed all the way up to the top end of Isla Partida 33 nm away.  After Rosario had a quick swim with the sea lions at Isla Islotes, we anchored in the north cove of Ensenada Grande at the very top end of the island.  We enjoyed about an hour of relative calm weather, then the “Norther” started.  It then proceeded to blow 25-35 knots continuously for the next 8 days!!  The local Sea of Cortez weather guru “Weather Geary” said he had never seen such sustained high winds around the La Paz/Islands area except during a hurricane.  Crazy.  After hunkering down in VERY gusty Ensenada Grande for 3 nights, we finally ventured out for a downwind sail 20 nm south to Bahia Falsa, just outside La Paz channel.  Despite feeling a bit anxious prior to pulling up anchor, both Rosario and Denis took the helm and sailed in winds of up to 32 knots.  They were both surprised at how comfortable and easy it was to sail downwind in those kinds of winds and big seas.  They did great! 
The next day we entered La Paz despite the port being closed - we’d never seen the channel so rough.  Luckily our good old Rocna anchored us to the sea floor despite the contrary strong wind and currents.

The next day we did a crew change.  Despite the raging Norther creating huge seas in the anchorage, Gary managed to get Denis, Rosario and their luggage over to the marina, and deliver our second guests, Lynne and Nadine’s gear back to the boat safely (ie, dry).  Unfortunately we can’t say the same for Nadine and Lynne themselves.  I can’t remember ever being so wet on a dingy ride…

Nadine and Lynne
Lynne and Nadine are friends from the Vikings Sailing Club down at Jericho.  They both love to sail and were probably a bit disappointed that the harbor was closed for the first 2 days of their visit so we couldn’t leave.  Luckily, Carnival was on in town and so there were other things to do and see. 
Only in Mexico - a "my little pony" float during Carnival
The weather finally calmed down enough for us to leave the harbor and have a boisterous upwind sail (the exact kind I hate) all the way back up to Ensenada Grande.  After some debate about which anchorage to pull into, we chose the south bay.  Unfortunately the winds didn’t abate and so we had a bouncy night due to the wrap around swell entering the bay.  Undeterred, Lynne, Nadine and Gary did a hike to the other side of the island the next morning, before pulling up anchor and trying to sail up to Isla Islotes for a swim with the sea lions.  We left they bay under power doing 5.5 knots, and were quickly reduced to doing 2 knots into the biggest, steepest seas I have ever seen!  After 3 minutes of literally pounding into these beasts and absolutely soaking the deck, I decided we’d had enough and turned the boat around.  No sea lions for us!  Instead, we had a pleasant downwind sail down to a bay half way down the island where we anchored for a swim and sundowners.  We then had a nice evening sail down to Bahia San Gabriel and anchored under calm conditions (for once) as the sun set.  In the morning we dingy’d over to the frigate bird colony and checked out all the new hatchlings.  Very cool.  We then had a calm motor, followed by a great downwind sail back to La Paz.

Neil and Maureen - The marriage test-SUP'ing to shore
The weather then finally started to settle down into the more typical winter pattern.  This was just in time for our third set of guests, Maureen and Neil.  I worked with Maureen at STEMCELL for 10 years before I left on my leave-of-absence and she retired.  We just got back from an idyllic 7 day trip in the islands, where we actually had to motor about 75% of the way (which was a good thing as we needed to run the water maker). 

The first calm seas of the entire season
We were finally able to put the paddleboard in the water, swim, snorkel, hike and relax on deck without being blown out of the cockpit.  We saw turtles, boobies, black hares, whales, dolphins, and Maureen and Neil even saw a coyote.  This was definitely more like it.
Idyllic Isla San Francisco

Unfortunately all good things must come to an end though.  We arrived back into La Paz last night just in time for the winds to crank up again.  It is currently blowing a hoolie out here in the anchorage and the waves are as big as we’ve ever seen them. We both got absolutely drenched upon returning to the boat from a diesel jerry can run. Luckily things are supposed to calm down again later today, in time for us to complete a long list of boat jobs before we head north next week up to the Loreto area to meet our next sets of visitors.         

Gary says:

You may remember from our previous posts that this winter has had some spectacular sailing.
Denis and Rosario experienced the best of the season although a certain someone was less than enthused.   When Lynne and Nadine joined us we got more of the same as soon as the wussy port captain decided conditions were boring enough to let us go out. 
Black hare
I mean really, where has the concept of personal responsibility gone when you can’t even do what you want in Mexico!  Anyway we did get a great upwind sail to the top of Partida and despite my protests stopped for the night.  We then had a few days of nothing memorable (except good friends on board) and were then joined by our last guests Maureen and Neil.  Despite being joined by another set of great friends I have blocked most of this trip from my memory….   Booooooring! 
Completing some sewing projects

I mean what sailing adventure can possibly be fun when it involves sewing.  To add to that the Gary curse continues still.  Neil has done many things including spending time as a commercial fisherman…  You’d think if anyone could break the curse it would be him.  Well, think again.  Despite hearing calls of joy on the radio about fish catching galore, none were to be had by us.  I even left the boat one night in the hopes the curse was proximity related.  Not to be.

The "Gary Curse" continues...
Last night we had another norther kick up and the winds are fantastic again.  Hopefully we will still have some of the sailing season left by next week when we try to head north up to Loreto.  Transferring jerry can after jerry can of diesel sucks…

Some pics taken with our new camera this season:

Pelicans on the bow
Gary on the cliff edge: Isla San Francisco
Frigate bird hatchling

Male frigate bird
Another pelican on the bow

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year

Well, yet another year has passed and for those who are wondering, yes we are still on the boat and all is well.
We haven't posted much over the past few weeks because of the lack of internet. We will be arriving in La Paz (a major Mexican metropolis) tomorrow where Sea Rover will be based for the next couple of months. Karina and I are both looking forward to the New Year and all the fun it will bring.
Happy New Year to everyone!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Merry Christmas to All!

As this will be the last time we'll have decent internet before Christmas we just wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Our Mexican Christmas tree
Even though we wont be able to phone or skype with anyone over the holidays be assured that we are thinking and missing all the friends and family that we will be without over the holidays.  We'll be back in internet range by the New Year.  Until then Feliz Navidad!