“How does the wind know to always stay on our bow?”

Our Slog (Ships Log) with a Satelite View

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Bahia Concepcion

Posted on Wednesday Jun 8, 2005

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Well, we spent a couple of weeks moving up the sea from Loreto.  We met up with Loon III and Icarian in the roadstead anchorage at Loreto and explored the town together.  For cruisers, this means wandering every street looking for the freshest produce, cheapest internet connection, cheapest beer, and fuel (and for those of us without refrigeration, ice).  We did manage to visit the old Mission museum, which was kind of interesting but that was about all we had time for site-seeing.  When we couldn’t walk another step, we headed back to the boats, weighed anchor and headed to Isla Coronado for the night, just a few miles away.  Sherrell and I decided to stay an extra night at Coronado and watched the sting rays jumping all over like popcorn.  We then went on to La Ramada, just north of our intended destination of Caleta San Juanico to get out of the strong SE winds and swell.  We found Loon and Icarian hiding in there as well and they showed us a nice hike that went over to the bay.  Gazing out on the beautiful bay of San Juanico, we all decided that we should move there.  No to mention there was a strange Northerly swell that rolled us from side to side making it very unpleasant and the late night Katabatic winds blew like a banshee from the west all night long.

 

There seemed to be no good summer refuge in this area, as we tried to hide behind some rocky reefs and rocks from the SE winds in San Juanico, while we explored the beaches and snorkeled.  But despite the beauty, after 3 days of suffering the steep wind waves, we left the other boats and did a long haul (12 hours) to Bahia Concepcion—a much more protected area.

 

On the way up, we had north winds the entire way, while the other boats down in San Juanico still had strong SE.  So as luck would have it, our own personal headwinds forced us to motor-sail almost the entire way.  We did see a large school of dolphins who leapt 6+ feet out of the water in unison, many large manta rays doing perfect back flips, and Boobies (the avian type) trying to land on our boat for a free ride.

 

Anyway, we’re going to hang out in this area for a while, before heading further north.  If you’re able to read this, then through the miracle of technology and the generosity of someone here, we are connecting to you via a wireless link that is routed through a satellite connection once a day at 7-8 am.  There are no phones here, no power, but we’ve found ice, some provisions and lots of little protected islands to explore.

Hi from Loreto

Posted on Tuesday May 31, 2005

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We`re in Loreto for a few hours to reprovision and get some fuel. We were unable to bum a ride from Puerto Escondido to Loreto by land, so we went by boat. The anchorage is sketchy, so we have to shop then bolt.
Anyway, Sheila made it back to Seattle ok. Her bus from La Paz broke down in dramatic style, smoke and all. The driver managed to nurse it to a town where they could get some tools to work on it and get it running again. Fortunately, she had plenty of time for her flight, and eventualy made it back with about 4 billion sea shells, all intact.
The water here is getting clearer and the sea life is really amazing. I`ve been a snorkling fiend, but we can watch the fish from the boat just as easily. Manta Rays leap out of the water, dolphins feed in the bays, and large schools of fish move like clouds through the water. FANTASTIC!
So we plan to keep working north to Santa Rosalia then on to Bahia de Los Angeles. But we are going to hit as many anchorages as possible along the way. We are also planning on doing a hike where you have to ford a river and swim up some canyons! We probably won`t have email access until Rosalia in two weeks or so, so we hope everyone is doing well!

The Arroyo

Posted on Monday May 23, 2005

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Sheila, Sherrell and I all stood patiently on the side of a dusty highway
at 7 am waiting hopefully for a bus. Life is sometimes surreal. We told
the port captain that we needed to catch the bus to La Paz (in our broken
Spanish) and he called the bus office in Loreto where the station is to
request that the driver on such and such day look for us at this juntion
and pick us up. Often these things work better than you might expect.
But when you haul all your junk 2 miles out into the dusty unknown slowly
baking in the morning sun, you have to wonder if your Spanish skills were
really up to the task. Perhaps somewhere there was a taxi driver circling
around looking for us, or maybe they are trying to deliver a pizza to us.

I`m pretty sure the port captain told us to make sure we were there before
8am in case the bus was early. And I`m pretty sure we got the day and
place right. But an hour later we were getting hot and beginning to
wonder.

Just as we were discussing what time we should give up waiting, the big
fancy bus rolled up the hill, pulled over, and picked up Sheila and
Sherrell and off they went.

I had previously arranged to go hiking into the Arroyo (canyon) nearby
with another couple. They wanted to go eary, 6am. But they still hadn`t
shown. I figured they bailed, but halfway back to the waterfront they
appeared, and we got to hiking.

The arroyo was a deep cut inside massive steep mounts called the Giants.
It was filled with carved rocks, trees, birds and a few pools of water.
As we climbed further up into the arroyo we had to climb through rock
caves and caverns that we could barely fit our bodies through. We kept
climbing until we reached an impass. It was hot and we didn`t feel like
exerting oursleves climbing the next set of cliff like boulders. So we
just took in the view.

Reddish rocks, green trees and lots of birds (humming birds, bright red
cardnals) were all over the place. Sometime when we find a place to hook
up the computer we`ll get them posted!

For now, though, Sherrell will be back tomorrow and Sheila will be at home
in Seattle. We plan to head further north and enjoy some island time!

Arrived Puerto Escondido

Posted on Saturday May 21, 2005

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Well we took Sheila on a whirlwind tour from La Paz to Puerto Escondido by
way of Isla Partida (2 days), San Evaristo (1 day), Agua Verde (3 days),
and then a hot springs and finally here. She is no longer a land lubber
and she has a new understanding of why we spend most of our days dealing
with logistical challenges.

We saw dolphins, tropical fish, coral, sea birds, goats, and lots and lots
of sun. Agua Verde was very beautiful, we enjoyed swimming, hiking and
watching the fish swim around our boat. The water was a clear aqua color
and the visibility was about 35 feet.

Sherrell is going to travel with Sheila by bus down to La Paz leaving me
by my lonesome for a couple of days. Naturally I have a list of crap that
needs to be fixed while she is gone.

We heard the first Hurricane of the season has already struck El Salvador.
This is the first E. Pacific Hurricane to move eastward in recorded
history. Normally this time of year they move out towards sea. It could
be an interesting year for hurricanes, so the further north we go, the
safer we'll be. If you look closely on a map, you might be able to spot
the biggest town near us, Loreto.

Two Photos

Posted on Friday May 6, 2005

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There's lots of sea life all around.  Just here in the anchorage we've seen dolphins jumping out of the water and chasing fish.  Dolphin & Pelican

 

Here's a photo from the anchorage in Isla Partida.  Check out the aqua-marine colored water.  The visibility north of La Paz reaches up to 120 feet in the summer.  It is currently about 40 feet near La Paz.  It's fun to watch all the animals just swimming around beneath the boat like our own personal aquarium.  Island Near La Paz

 

Hypothyroid

Posted on Wednesday May 4, 2005

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After going back and forth between our labs in Seattle and we finally were able to compare test results against the feline norm. As luck would have it, our $1000 procedure 3 years ago to treat her HYPERthyroid condition worked too well. Now she has a rare condition where her thyroid isn't working as well as it should. Apparently nothing severe happens to hypothyroid cats, she needs to undergo some treatment with medication. Due to her age of 14 years, the vet said it wasn't urgent, so maybe well wait until we are back to the mainland of Mexico

On the lighter side of things, our free inflatable is still an inflatable and our patches are holding. The weather is nice and hot and only a week to go before Sheila hits and we can get underway.

Sites n stuff

Posted on Saturday Apr 30, 2005

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We've seen belly dancing, been to the dentist and took the cat to the
vet. It's like we've moved here. I think this town has the same problem
as Mazatlan - it's hard to leave.

Fortunately, we saw an environmental presentation downtown the other
night about the schools of whale sharks that give birth in an area north
of here that was just amazing, so that's got us motivated to keep
moving. Apparently this is one of the few places in the world where
whale sharks give birth (they travel 5000+ miles) and the government
wants to build a massive resort and golf course right in the area where
they calf. Perfect, isn't it?

We finished patching our inflatable dinghy -- one that we pulled from
the trash and put about 19 patches on. Actually, it's not as bad as it
sounds, it cleaned up nicely and it's a big dinghy. It will be perfect
for snorkeling and carrying more than 2 people. It folds up pretty
small, and you can't beat free. We'll probably inflate it tomorrow and
see if we got the last of all the little leaks.

Oh, we also met another Mariah 31 owner who is ordering sails from our
sail maker in Port Townsend. She was encouraging the Mariah owner to
contact us (not knowing we where in Mexico) when he was looking out in
the bay and saw us anchored there. It's a small world when it comes to
boats.

La Paz

Posted on Tuesday Apr 26, 2005

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This is a nice town with 4 (four!) marine stores.  There’s a great vegetarian restaurant and the weather here is much dryer than on the mainland.  We got up to 94F the other day and didn’t even really notice it.  Pretty hot considering it’s only April!  We’ve been checking into places to provision and making preparations for Sherrell’s mom’s visit.  It’s amazing how much time all these things take to get setup. 

 

There’s a ton of gringos here, which strongly influences everything.  It’s like a mini San Diego.  For the first time we were able to find Kalamata Olives and Dr. Pepper!  There’s also a lot of damage from hurricane Marty in 2003.  From our anchorage, we can see no less than 3 masts still sticking up out of the water and the docks and yards are full of boats that are severely battered.  Lots of them have been gutted and abandoned.  A sad reminder that the hurricane season is approaching so we’ll have to head north soon to get out of the storm tracks.

Mazatlan to La Paz

Posted on Monday Apr 25, 2005

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A little background info first. We've tried to leave Mazatlan several
times and been forced back due to problems. This time, we were
determined to leave no matter what. What follows is our ridiculous
account of how we were blocked at every turn. In fact I'm still amazed
that after traveling 6000+ miles, mistakes are still easy to make.

Whoa, what a crossing it was. We left Marina Mazatlan at 11am to find
the dredge people blocking the entrance. We stopped at El Cid (a marina
by the entrance), but there was no way to make our next destination
before dark, if we had to wait until the usual time of 2:30pm for them to
finish. About 10 minutes after we called the El Cid harbor master to
check on the status, the dredge operators moved
the equipment to the side of the channel and called it done for the day.
So we went for it. There was no wind, and the seas were supposed to be
calm. As we were approaching the corner, we saw a large tumble of white
water pouring down the channel between breakwaters - hmmm, that didn't
seem quite right. Then as the entrance came into view, we saw the
second wave as it peeled towards the entrance. It broke on the outer
breakwater then continued to pipeline across the entrance. Sherrell
ducked down in the cockpit and I took over the helm. The large wave
refracted off the other side of the breakwater, making the entrance a
choppy white foaming mess. Since there is no way to turn around in this
narrow entrance, I floored it and prepared to try to get the bow into
the breakers. As we approached the end of the breakwater, a third wave
rose up peeling like the best right I've ever seen, and crashed mightily
across the entrance - Sherrell promptly let out a blood curdling scream
that I'm sure could be heard back in Marina Mazatlan. I floored it even
more, hoping to make it out between waves. Luckily, that was the last
of the set, and as we exited, we found the seas surprisingly calm.
Sherrell was sure that between the dredge and the breaking waves at the
entrance, it was a message. But after so many attempts to leave
Mazatlan, we weren't about to give up.

Maybe we should have. We motored all night into a bouncy headwind of
about 10-15 knots. We tried to hit Altata, a small uncharted harbor
about 100 miles north of Mazatlan, on the mainland. Not many people go
to Altata because it is not in any of the guide books, and like
everything in Mexico, it isn't charted. The town is a nice half-way
point up the coast, so it would make a great spot to rest for the night.
As we started approaching from about 4 miles out we saw the ideal surf
spot, long peeling break, PERFECT for surfing! Absolutely perfect! The
problem was, somewhere in there was the entrance. We were following
someone else's waypoints from 2002 that were our only guide through the
breakers and into the channel. We also had a hand drawn chart someone
had made, but none of this inspires confidence when you see monster
breaking waves. We followed the waypoints and it took us in the
direction of where a large 150' steel ship was milling around. Perhaps
they were surveying for dredging. Surely, the ship was in the channel.
We continued.

As we approached the ship, we saw breaking waves on each side of it, and
we wondered if there was any way to get by it. As we got about 800 feet
from the ship, it abruptly turned out towards the sea (and us), and
FLOORED its engines, spewing whitewater out the back with its massive
props. We were momentarily stunned, but then we felt our boat start to
rise quickly. We rose about 6 feet and watched the wave grow larger and
steeper as it continued past us towards the ship, which was now heading
full speed at us. The wave curled and broke right over the ship's bow
(about 18 feet above the water). Sherrell was screaming to turn around
which I promptly did with the ship hot on our tail. We climbed two
other waves before making back out into deeper water.

At that point I said, forget this. Let's cross the sea and head for
Isla Partida. We tried to contact a boat we knew was anchored inside of
Altata, but someone else answered who had left there the previous day.
We told him what happened and that the entrance looked impassable for a
slow boat. He gave us another entrance waypoint and assured us that it
would look scary, but would be quite fine. I didn't want to do it, but
after some discussion, a night at anchor sounded better than another
night crossing the sea, so we decided to give it a try. We approached
this waypoint, and we could see pangas fishing ahead of us, most likely
in the channel. As we got closer, we suddenly started to rise again.
This time though, I didn't hesitate, I swung the boat around on the top
of another 6 foot swell. Sherrell watched it after we turned around,
and it appeared not to break on the path where we were headed, although
it broke heavily to either side. However it was too close for us, and
too risky. The pangas could outrun a breaker, not us.

So we turned out towards Isla Partida. The boat in the anchorage called
us later and asked how things were going. We told him a brief version
of the events and that we decided to hell with Altata. He quizzed us on
the details and then promptly told us what we did wrong, by not
identifying the inner entrance buoy and then heading straight for it at
030 M. Uh, huh, right, I thought. The next day when he left, we heard
over the radio that they got hit with a large wave, but managed to make
it out. The conditions for that entrance were just not safe. We heard
later from others that it could be a dangerous entrance with a southerly
swell, and you can guess the direction swell was coming when we tried to
enter it. Another day with different weather, it's probably fine.

That wasn't the end of our fun though. With no wind, we had to motor
through the night. At 10am the next morning, when we were about 20
miles from Isla Partida, we started to put up the main to catch the
slight breeze that started when the engine suddenly stopped. Fantastic!

So I got the main up (so we could keep moving at a blazing 1.3 knots)
and Sherrell took the helm as I started looking for the problem. It
appeared the filters were quite clogged, so I swapped them out for a
fresh one (both the primary and the secondary) then bled the air out of
the engine. It ran for about 5 minutes before dieing again. I went
below figuring I didn't get all the air out. That's when I discovered
we were actually out of fuel.

Impossible! I disconnected the fuel intake line, and blew into it, and
there was hardly any back pressure, and only a slight gurgle sound in
the tank. The impossible was suddenly a reality. We should have had
almost 20 gallons left in the tank (that's about another 200 miles of
range), but we were bone dry. Fortunately, we still had another 9
gallons in some spare cans on the deck.

Before messing with refilling the tank and bleeding the engine again, we
had to try to get the boat moving faster under sail. We put up the
spinnaker and crept along at 1.5 to 2.0 knots in the light air. I
filled the tank with our 9 gallons and bled the engine again.
Theoretically, it was enough fuel to get us into Isla Partida, easily,
and probably to La Paz.

So we sailed onwards for another 30 minutes, but there was no way to
make the anchorage before dark. Since the charts are off by several
miles in some places, we didn't dare try entering without daylight. So
we turned on the engine. It died again a few minutes later. I bled it
again. It died again. I bled the air for several minutes again, and we
tried it again and it kept running - for now.

We anxiously motored towards Isla Partida, a popular cruising
destination that I knew we could bum fuel off someone if we needed it.
We just had to get there. Luckily, the wind picked up and we were able
to sail again. So we sailed for a ways, until we rounded the tip of the
island, then we motored safely into the anchorage with 3 other boats.

It was a beautiful anchorage with crystal clear aquamarine colored
water. We were exhausted and grateful to have made it. Of course,
that's not the end of it.

Every night (all three of them) we were deprived of much needed sleep,
when the "Elefante" winds kicked up during the night. To make it worse,
the wind would continue to blow from the south making it difficult to
try to sail to La Paz the following morning. So we bought 5 gallons of
fuel off another boat to be prepared to motor south to La Paz. We felt
much safer with the extra fuel, because when the strong southerly wasn't
blowing, there was no wind. And as it turned out we had to motor the 29
miles down to La Paz.

We got our first solid night of sleep last night, and our spirits are
much better. As for the "Case of the Missing Fuel" we think we must
have used more than expected during the several times we tested our new
autopilot, and the time when we tried to leave Mazatlan for the first
time. That coupled with perhaps not getting the tank 100% full because
of a problem with the tank vent must have thrown off our fuel
calculations by almost 20 gallons.

On the plus side, we didn't put our boat up on the beach; we didn't have
to spend days trying to sail into an anchorage because we did eek out
enough fuel from out spare cans; and we eventually got to sleep. Oh,
and we had fun in Isla Partida, swimming and hiking. And as an added
bonus, the directional antenna I made in San Diego can pickup wireless
stations from somewhere on shore, so we have internet access from the
boat!

Now we have to get ready for Sherrell's Mom's visit, and plan our trip
north from here.

Best Wishes,
Eric & Sherrell

Hello

Posted on Sunday Apr 24, 2005

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Welcome to our blog.  This page can be updated through email, which means we can make changes easier.  One day we’ll have email access from the boat and be able to provide updates while at sea.