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.