Christmas 2010. I was joined in La Cruz by two of my sisters, Ginger and Marilyn, with spousal units Rick and Jeff.
Here's a picture of Christmas dinner.
We ate at Philo's, which is something of a Christmas tradition for cruisers in La Cruz..
Santa Claus passes out presents, donated by cruisers and the local ex-pat community. Children line up around the block.
My present was a Kindle. I had considered getting one a few years ago, but they were too expensive and I didn't see the value. The next generation has been out for a while, though, and the price has dropped.
After six months, I can honestly say that this thing is great. I really like being able to look up a word in the Oxford English Dictionary while reading.
I still have about 200 paper books on board, but will drop half of them off when I get to the library in Santa Rosalia.
Anyway, in January we cove hopped south, intending to get to Zihuatenejo.
We had a scary encounter with a pod of whales while crossing Banderas Bay at 4 a.m.. There was no moon, and nothing to see but 40 foot long phosporescent sausages within 20 feet of the boat.
We never made it to Zihuatenejo.
Santiago was just too nice.
Here's a shot of the Santiago anchorage.
There's about a one mile walk to the bus, and an easy ride from there into Santiago or Manzanillo.
We ended up hanging out there for about seven weeks, checking things out and hanging.
We went to soccer games, saw the circus when it came through town, and ate a lot of fish and tacos.
My main laptop finally failed in Santiago. I think that the morning dew came down the open companionway, condensed on the keyboard, and shorted it out. I feel confident that getting a new keyboard for a six year old computer in Mexico would cost more than the thing is worth. Naturally, my backup computer developed the 'white stripe of death' on the LCD display. I could still use it in an emergency, but for daily use it wasn't reliable, since often the white stripe indicates that the whole screen is about to go.
Manzanillo is a big enough town to have a Walmart, Office Depot, Office Max, and a few other computer stores. So after a week of shopping, I picked the best Dell I could find. It had to be a Dell because I already have Dell 12 volt adapters, and didn't want to have to try and solve *that* problem in Mexico.
Then I learned how to install Windows 7 in Spanish. To be honest, I finally went on-line and upgraded Windows to a version that supported multiple languages, and installed the English Language pack.
And, naturally, most of my old XP software won't run under Windows 7, so I converted to Open Office for Word and Excel, and Mozilla Thunderbird for Email.
Anyway, enough about computers.
We were in Santiago long enough to create a very stinky algae mess of the anchor rode. I reset the hook every week or two, just to inspect it. It was a time of big red tides, and visibility was about one foot. So, lots of algae.
Heading back north, we stopped for a night in Melaque, which is just outside Barra de Navidad.
There had been a number of dinghy and outboard thefts in Barra de Navidad. In some cases the thiefs took gear right off the boat. In fact, about thirty minutes after dropping anchor a half mile off shore, two guys swam all the way out to Stella Blue and dove on my anchor. One had a waterproof camera, and was swimming around taking pictures of all my equipment.
They swam away when I asked them what they were doing, but it was uncomfortable.
I rigged this little machete contraption up, using a clothespin. It would make a bunch of noise is all, not really hurt anyone. Heck, it fell on my hand twice while I was setting it up.
Oh yes. We also had the Tsunami Event of 2011. It created some confused currents along the coastline, but no big wave. The *real* highlight of that day was the whale.
We were anchored in 40 feet of water off a small town called Chamela. With 40 feet of water under the boat, the predicted 3 to 7 swell wave wasn't a real concern. However, to be prudent, I headed for deeper water about a half hour before the first wave was due to hit. Besides, it seemed like everyone else was in a panic, and there's always the possibility that they knew something I didn't.
About a mile off shore, a whale sounded directly under the boat. It was close enough that I was looking down into the blow hole as it took a breath, and most of it was miraculously between the keel and rudder. I'd guess it missed hitting the propeller by two feet. After taking a breath, it did the classic tail in the air move as it went back down, 20 feet away. If I'd been five feet in any direction it would have it hit me.
So I headed back to anchor, and rode out the rest of the tsunami event anchored in 40 feet of water.
Eventually we made it back to La Cruz, where the valve on one of the dinghy tubes broke.
Fortunately, I had a spare.
Fixing, fixing, always fixing something. That's cruising.
While in La Cruz marina, I equalized the batteries and let each bank sit without load for 24 hours, then tested the specific gravity of each cell.
Darn, none of the cells are in the 'Good' range. None of them are bad, but these batteries are getting old.
I think I can get another summer out of them, though, and maybe next winter.
Then, back to La Paz, to get ready for the summer.
The trip back was uneventful.
It was really nice to get out into Blue Water again, after a winter of coastal algae so thick that snorkelling was out of the question, and water so dirty that I never jumped overboard to bathe.
Here's the bottom half of the route back.
We went to San Blas first, and started the crossing from there.
Breezes dictated the course, and for a while I thought we were going to tack back and forth the whole way, making it a long trip.
But things settled down after a day.
And then it was calm.
The new computer is great, because of the high resolution wide screen display.
My fugawi navigation software interfaces with Google Earth. I can have the charts on one side, and the actual satellite picture on the other.
I don't have to be on the internet for this to work. Instead, all the routes and anchorages are cached on the hard drive, and Google Earth will use the cache if there's no internet connection.
It's a lot more comfortable to pull into an anchorage at night when you can watch the boat's position against the satellite image. The charts of Mexico are inaccurate and worthless for precision navigation.
So a rather tiring winter season ended at Marina Palmira in La Paz. I had quite a project list.
To the left is the partially sanded teak bulkhead in the head. It needed to be refinished, as it was starting to show water damage from all the showers over the last couple of years.
I lubricated the windlass, changed all the fluids in the engine, and rebuilt/rewired the macerator pump for the head (again.) That last job is pretty nasty. It had long hair wrapped around the chopper blades. I think I'll make a new rule about long hair on board.
Another project: Rig up a new suite of fishing lures for the summer.
I really should get into the fishing lure business.
And then, May 17, the boat was fully provisioned for the summer and it was time to go.
I was down below, and hear a "Bump...CRACK" and rushed up to find a 40 foot sport fisher bouncing off my stanchions. I think I set a record for the number of times you can use the word "F___" in a sentence. It turns out the owner had hired some locals to move the boat into the marina. They were working on the stern line tie up, and just let the bow go until they were ready to deal with it. They actually thought it was funny that we hit. They stopped laughing, though, when the owner showed up and we started discussing payment for repairs. Suddenly the story changed to "We didn't hit him. It was already like that. etc." It's a good thing I was on board, or I would have just come back to a damaged boat with no witnesses and the burden of proof on me.
All's well that ends well. Only one gate stanchion was bent, and the owner of the boat paid for the repair and an two days in the marina. Sergio Galindo, in La Paz, arrived at the boat shortly after I'd pulled the stanchion and base off. He took the part back to his shop and bent it back like new, while I rebedded the base on deck so that it wouldn't leak.
Wow. Six months on one blog page. Now the blog thing is only a month out of date.
Right now I'm anchored off the west side of Isla Coronados,
north of Puerto Escondido.
The water is 85 degrees and visibility has cleared up to between 25 and 40 feet.
Summer is coming, and it's getting to be over 100 degrees during the afternoons. Oh boy.
The water temperature is great, but also a concern. If the
water is this warm this early in the season,
it'll be pretty hot by August and September, and that's what sucks the hurricanes north.
I'm sailing without insurance now. The price went up, the
coverage amount dropped, and there just wasn't any value left in the policy.
Everything I do was an exception to coverage. It turns out that a lot of long
are sailing without insurance for this same reason.
While it's a concern, it also provides freedom. I can pick my own hurricane holes.
Okay, I'm sorry, it's been six months since I put up a blog page. -_Time flies when... __Whatever.
I've noticed that many cruiser bloggers fade away after a
year or two. There are many reasons for that.
Frankly, I think a lot of folks spend a couple of years cruising, and then go home.
I just let it go, and then the size of the task became daunting, and I didn't have much to say anyway.
But let me recap the last six months, all on one page, and get back on track.
Highlights of the winter cruising season:
1) Twice came within 20 feet or less of hitting a whale
2) Spent nearly two months anchored off Santiago and didn't want to leave.
3) Both primary and backup computers failed and I learned how to upgrade from XP to W7 in Spanish.
At the moment, June 1 2011, I'm anchored off Isla Monserrate
in the Sea of Cortez,
but I'll try and remember the last six months.