Sunday, December 28, 2014

December 27, 2014 - San Jose Del Cabo to Mazatlan

Plans change and certainly our minds.  We had so many people tell us to head across to the mainland and then a bit south for warmer waters and air temperatures during the winter months.  We had a great weather window for us just as we were planning to leave San Jose Del Cabo, so we decided to take this advice and over.  We plan to spend approximately two months on the mainland coast and then head back to Baja and the Sea of Cortez as conditions there warm up after the winter cool down.  Seas on the 28 hour trip were extremely smooth.  Our last four hours we did have winds that built to 15kt and from the north, hitting our port side since we were actually running almost due east.  The stabilizers overheated once again so we now know the first occurrence was not a fluke.  A few similarities in each occurrence are that winds are 15kt or above with wind waves hitting the port side as well as running constantly for 24 hours or more.  The raw water cooling pump stops pumping and appears to be air locked.  Sometime it can be restarted by simply turning power off and back on, other times we have to alter course to be running with the sea before this will get the pump going again.  We need to sort out this problem before we return to Baja, as it is a long crossing, and without stabilizers the ride can be quite uncomfortable.  This leg crossing the Sea of Cortez took us the farthest from shore we have been on our trip so far, since the distance across was approximately 180nm.  At one point the nearest landfall was 90 miles, and were truly out in the middle of the ocean!

We saw a variety of wildlife, and the seas were smooth enough for water skiing.  Steve and I had thought of stopping and jumping in at one point when the water hit 76 degrees, but saw little jellyfish and decided not to.  We had wished for more whales but sightings were only as we were approaching Mazatlan.

Two times during our trip I was able to talk to our friends on the SSB radio.  They have an informal "net" at 9:15AM and 9:00PM on a specific frequency in the 8000KHz range (good for shorter distances).  In previous attempts since Ensenada I have been unable to hear their conversations.  I have been tinkering with the ground plane/counterpoise on the HF radio and apparently it has made a difference.  On this trip to Mazatlan I chatted two different times with Gary on "Sea Rover II".  He was back near San Jose Del Cabo at 9:00PM and we were 1/2 of the way across to Mazatlan.  That's about 90 miles away.  The next morning we were almost to Mazatlan and he was anchored at Los Frailes with a couple of other boats in our group.  We were about 160 miles away and it was a good clear conversation.  I will keep fine tuning our HF/SSB radio which we are relying on for receiving wetherfax images and also to participate in the local cruisers nets where all sorts of information is passed along between the boater's up and down this side of Mexico.  There are also several daily weather broadcasts on SSB and it is really the only way to get decent weather forecasts here when you do not have an internet connection.  The VHF does not have enough range to be of any use once you leave a major port city.

I (Steve) worked on our watermaker for the first few hours of our trip.  It has not been able to run when underway unless the seas were absolutely still.  If there is the slightest wave action air bubbles will pass along the hull and get sucked into the sea water intake, causing the water pump to become air locked,  The real solution is to move the intake lower in the water, but that's impossible on our boat since the keel is occupied with water, waste, and fuel tanks.  The intake is already as low in the water as I could get it.  I've been experimenting with a home-made air water separator for the last several passages.  It will work for while and I can see little air bubbles being purged from the water.  But when a large enough volume of air enters the intake, it stops working.  After moving the pump down to the intake strainer, and re-positioning the air/water separator so most of it is below the waterline, I am happy to report that it is finally working, even in rough water.  It can ingest a large volume of air without air locking the pump.  We were able to run the watermaker for our entire passage, even when  the seas got a bit rough when we neared Mazatlan.  What a relief, as we are finding that most of the marinas here do not have potable water on their docks.   We were able to replenish most of the water we have used since Santa Maria cove.  We can't run the watermaker while in a marina because of the increased pollution levels in this environment.  It will foul the expensive membrane and render the watermaker useless until the membrane is replaced ($300-$400).  Being able to run the watermaker while underway (being powered by the engine's alternator) will ensure that we always have enough water onboard, We can also run it in an anchorage and the solar panels will power it.  I think this system is finally dialed-in which is critical for us if we are going to be exploring remote locations in Mexico.

We are at the El Cid Resort and Marina, where we are enjoying their swimming pools and other amenities.  A bus runs from the front of the resort into Mazatlan which we will be using while we are here.  Our friends Neil and Jessie on "The Red Thread" were here when we arrived yesterday.  After we checked in with the port captain we stopped by their boat to say hi, but they were not onboard.  We went over to one of the pools for the afternoon and when we returned The Red Thread was gone.  They were here in Mazatlan picking up Neil's Mother and then sailing to Isla Isabella (the Galapagos of Mexico), and then to Puerta Vallarta.  After that they are headed south and eventually sailing over to Australia where they are planning to live for at least a few years, so we won't be seeing them again.  We will be staying in touch via email however.

Kathy reading (read two books on this crossing)

Bird hitching a ride on our bow rail.  Smooth seas.

This bird had a tag on one leg.  He was with us for quite a while.

He finally left and flew away.  I wonder where he is going?
It is 75 miles to the nearest land.

Some dolphins passing by.  

These little birds were about 75 miles from land, just floating out here until
we disturbed them.

Sunset looking west, about 12 hours into our trip

another sunset

spotlight off our bow

Underwater blue lights. Dolphins were amazing to watch in these
lights as they swam up to the bow to surf our bow wake,

a dolphin swimming with us

another dolphin off our bow

a walk at sunset in Mazatlan at the marina

Thursday, December 25, 2014

December 25, 2014 - San Jose Del Cabo

Feliz Navidad

We spent the last few days here in San Jose Del Cabo to celebrate the holidays.  What a beautiful marina and town.  It is growing and looks to be turning into a Cabo San Lucas.  Many resorts are already here, and many more large ones are under construction!  We are however, in the marina and separated by an estuary from the resorts and town so it is quiet here.  Our 3 hour transit from Cabo San Lucas had us motoring along the shoreline where we could see, first hand, the obvious hurricane damage.  Resorts completely shut down, with boarded up windows.  Beaches completely empty.

We have ridden our bikes into town twice now.  Cute town and town square.  We managed to go to two big stores, a Walmart and then a store called "Mega."  We have some fruit and vegetables again, and we are quite happy about that.  We will not be getting scurvy anytime soon.  The Mega store had many American shoppers, likely due to its close proximity to the oceanfront resorts.  One woman came up to me (Kathy) and asked if we live here.   Maybe we are just looking so nice and tan!  I stated no and told her that we are traveling through.  She asked if I was cooking Christmas dinner, which I thought was an odd question, that I answered with a maybe not as our boat is too hot to be cooking!  They invited us over for dinner today - and they have a pool.  They moved here from Dallas just less than a month ago and the kids have not really met anyone yet since school got out for Christmas break just as the kids got into it to attend.   The family of four has kids our ages and in the same order.  My family is not all that interested so I am trying to decline by texting her.  The husband is in insurance and I believe working with folks and hurricane damage although don't quote me on that.

The marina here is beautiful.  They are still recovering from the hurricane as most everyone here seems to be.  There are paths completely washed away.  We feel quite safe here as the security is patrolling the marina constantly.  We have met two nice American couples here in boats adjacent to us on this motoryacht dock we are on.  I should change the description motor yacht to sport-fisher dock!  One couple has a home here and their yacht at the dock and the other couple lives in San Diego and keeps their boat here.  In fact, most of the boats we are seeing are American.  There does not appear to be a large contingent of sport-fishing charter boats here.  Most of the boats are sleek 40'-50' sport-fishing boats.  Our dock was bustling with activity yesterday with multiple boats being washed by Mexicans.  They offered to do ours but we decided not to spend the $100 (we could have talked them down some).  Also, our next voyage will make it moot since our boat will be getting more diesel grey on the transom, and salt spray all over the rest. There is beautiful artwork throughout this marina, see below.  Most of the vessels here rode out the hurricane in their slips.  Yesterday some divers raised a boat that sank during the hurricane and we were told they do not know whose it is.  Not sure how that could be!  Life is a little different in Mexico, I guess.
A large bird at top of mast on our friend sv Namaste's vessel

The marina grounds are lined with interesting sculptures.

One of many, very intriging sculptures.

Artwork and the stern of Adagio in view behind (you can see solar panels)

Beautiful plants in San Jose Del Cabo

The Town square and a sand sculpture.  Christmas tree in the background.

Town square nativity

Town Square Christmas tree

Cindy is going to eat the iPhone!  She is ready for a.....

Hurricane damage.  This used to be an entrance to a marina dock.

Crossing the bridge from San Jose Del Cabo, Beautiful!

This Mega store had A LOT.  Look at the cereal selection!

The basin that the marina has a "tourist" Dolphin encounter pool where you can swim
with dolphins.  Here this morning they are feeding the dolphins.

These palm trees took a beating from the hurricane

Some of the old docks.  They are cement exterior and foam filled.
They are destroyed.

The days here have been MUY CALIENTE (hot) we can tell you.  Made it so we really did not want to cook big meals for the holidays.  For Christmas eve we hosted the sv Namaste and sv Kialoa folks here.  Steve actually turned on our air conditioning for a few minutes to cool down our salon before people arrived.  It was a nice evening of chatting and eating.  We certainly do not suffer out here, we had appetizers of chips, homemade salsa, stuffed mushrooms, cheese, crackers and pepperoni.  Dinner consisted of Marlin and homemade pizza.  See Marlin picture below that I took in Cabo.  We ate part of this exact fish as some of the crew helped them haul off coolers of the filleted fish so they were given a bag of it.  It was yummy and I believe most of us had never had marlin before.
240 pound marlin, we had a small piece of for Christmas Eve.
Cindy, Kevin, and Journey played a game of Line Up and I understand the newbee Journey won. Well, things got crazy last night when we broke out the Jelly Belly's.  Many dares of stuffing one into a black olive were requested and taken.  No one got sick so that was good.  Then of course everyone was trying those flavors that m ake us wonder why they were even created; buttered popcorn, yuck.  Kevin remarked after everyone left (and again today) that he really enjoyed the evening as there were a lot of jokes and ones he could understand, not like what is typical when adults get together.
Cindy taking on a challenge of a black olive stuffed with some jelly belly.
The kids separated out a bunch of jelly beans by color/flavor
Christmas morning the kids woke up at a decent time. I think it started around 6:30am.  Last year Kevin got up at 3:15am and got Cindy up as well so we were all up by 4am.  Christmas last year was on the boat, at the dock in Ganges Marina, Canada.  They were excited this morning to open their presents although disappointed that Santa did not bring them an Xbox One.   We had asked in the office if there were festivities in town for Christmas Eve and had a response of I don't think so from two employees. So when there was partying all night last night, Christmas Eve, with music, voices, laughter, singing, and a PA system, we wondered what we were missing.  I said all night, and I mean it was ALL NIGHT! We still heard it at 5am.  Can't say that Steve and I are completely rested today.
The morning and presents

Cindy trying on my cooling eye mask.

Kevin got the cooling eye mask off, no pictures of him he said!

Now they are just playing and lounging around
Christmas afternoon was spent at the beach, meeting with friends, swimming and relaxing.
sv Namaste dinghy including Scott from sv Kialoa

A quiet beach club here; Steve, Tanya (sv Kialoa), John and Cindy (sv Namaste)
Kids are swimming!

John from sv Namaste with Nanuq, the lucky dog.  We thought Zappa was spoiled!

Kevin, Cindy, and Journey working on a castle creation....................
We are leaving tomorrow morning, and we are headed across the Sea of Cortez 180 miles to mainland Mexico.  We have talked to a bunch of cruisers with experience down here, as well as local boaters, and the almost universal advice is to cross the Sea of Cortez and go to the mainland for a few of the winter months.  The Sea of Cortez cools off dramatically this time of year, and the mainland is noticeably warmer, both air and water.  If we don't cross over now, we may never do it.   We have a great forecast for the 28 hours transit, with ocean swell less than 2', and winds less than 5 knots for the next 2 days.  It couldn't be a better forecast for a power boat!  So, off we go to a destination we hadn't originally planned for this portion of our trip.  But, we have never formulated an official itinerary because we knew that when we arrived down here, local knowledge/advice would help direct our next moves.  In keeping with the flexible, spontaneous, and adventurous spirit of this journey, we are setting off tomorrow morning for Mazatlan where we will find warmer air and waters than we would get if we stayed in the Sea.  We will return to the Sea of Cortez in a few months, when things begin to warm up again.  

Merry Christmas Everyone!  We are missing home but still enjoying this adventure.  To our families and our friends back home, we miss you all and wish you good tidings!

We need to go say goodnight and farewell to friends just a dock away.  We have met so many nice people and families that make it that much more difficult to say goodbye.  We all have hopes of following one another and meeting again soon..............................................

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

December 22, 2014 - Cabo San Lucas Part II

All we can say about Cabo is WOW!  A nice stop but very busy there.  Jet ski’s, panga’s, and boat tours galore all running in front or behind us all day long.  The music went it seemed throughout the entire night!  Multiple resorts had big parties going on.  Two and a half days was enough for us there. 

We were able to meet up with our cruiser friends several times during the few days in Cabo.  We met for dinner/drinks/snacks a couple times.  One afternoon we congregated out at Lover’s beach for snorkeling and conversation.  Getting out from Lover’s beach, we were the one dinghy that almost flipped in the waves but were able to quickly save it and get out past the breaking waves.  It was extremely crowded out there.  We then took the dinghy by the arch that makes Cabo recognizable to people from pictures.   

Cabo has certainly grown and changed since we were here last many years ago.  The marina has been built up with stores and shopping and there are many more resorts along the beach.  We walked around town a bit but also in an effort to find a Super Mercado.  We should have walked up to Walmart as we could not find any selection of fruit and veggies in the little markets.  I am going through vegetable withdrawals here!  Next stop is San Jose Del Cabo for Christmas.  Since we will be on a dock, we will probably bicycle over to town with backpacks and bags and stock up on groceries. 
Dragging one of the dinghies ashore at Lover's beach

Cindy and Journey (sv Namaste) out snorkeling

Fun on the rocks at Lover's beach

Lover's Beach.  Cindy and Kevin on rocks

Eating out with sv Namaste and sv The Red Thread

Feliz Navidad

Cindy catches fish with just a net

Cindy and Kevin at the arch

At the town square

Town square Christmas Tree

An example of all the action behind us

Cindy and Kevin snorkeling off the boat
A ray swimming around our boat enjoying plankton or such with the blue lights
Sea lions get the leftover bait, interesting!

Cruise ship anchored nearby, out our starboard salon window
Making sugar cookies for Christmas

A woman at the restaurant making salsa to your liking!

Cindy and Kevin along a mexican street

Shops galore - everything "almost free" as they say

Still seeing hurricane damage although the marina was mostly repaired

Feliz Navidad!