Sunday, January 30, 2011
Friday, January 28, 2011
Monday, January 24, 2011
The exciting part for us is that we're tied up right next to Wendaway, the boat that's owned by my brother, Mark, and his wife, Wendy. It was truly an unforgettable moment when we saw their beautiful boat slide down the fairway towards where we were waiting to grab their dock lines. It's not just the family ties that makes our relationship so close - they're both remarkable people with whom we have so many shared interests. Spending time with them is one of our most valued activities.
Something happens to time when we're in a marina. Not only does it go faster but it changes. Sure, there's the physical difference of being in the Central time zone - two hours earlier than Pacific time - and that takes some getting used to in of itself. When we're at home, we usually wake up about 10 minutes after sunrise. Here, 10 minutes after sunrise is almost 8am meaning we've lost a major part of the day already. Granted, the sun doesn't set until almost 7pm but typically cocktails start at 5pm regardless of how late it was when you woke up.
There are other, more subtle changes to time as well, though. Being in close proximity to others who have so many shared, similar experiences to your own, there is a unique bond that exists. This enables you to stroll down the dock and begin a conversation with almost anyone, even complete strangers. Friendships often develop this way and before you know it, you might be making plans with someone for some local expedition even though you had only met minutes before. The minutes evaporate quickly and become history as the Marina Vacuum consumes your time.
This is not to say that we nothing to show for it, though it is precious little. We did get to see a spectacular production of the Ballet Folklorico that was produced by Amalia Hernandez at the Teatro Vallarta, a beautiful venue. It was truly an exquisite production by professional dancers doing mostly traditional dances, however, there were several that were unique in style and portrayal of Mexican life. In particular, there was one dance of women with rifles, their usually smiling faces stern and their marching across the stage forceful - profound, moving and beautiful all at the same time.
We've made new friends and learned new games. We're fixing things on the boat and Corie is getting some surfing in. We might eat and drink too much but at least Ruthie and Corie have been diligent with their yoga. I spend too much time on the computer, trying to find parts and figure out how to get them into Mexico. On rare occasions, I update the blog. If I can find the time.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
One of the smaller buildings is the home to the Vallarta Yacht Club. Sitting right on the estuary, it has no slips of it's own but does have dining room, bar, large outdoor patio, swimming pool and a huge hot tub. They are the sponsors of the Pacific Puddle Jump and this afternoon they hosted the first seminar in a series. The speaker today was Eugenie Russell, a young woman who is employed by J World Sailing, which offers classes and charters up and down the west coast of the US and Mexico. Eugenie is a licensed captain and has extensive experience all over the world sailing. Her claim to fame is that she was the skipper of a boat that sank 2 years ago that had four students aboard. They were sailing aboard a J120, a 40-foot sloop-rigged boat that's primarily designed for racing. Eugenie and her 4 students were taking part in the Baja HaHa, a sailboat rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas when, about 200 miles south of San Diego, they hit a whale and their boat sank.
Even though Eugenie is not a professional speaker, her story of the events that took place were riveting. The US Coast Guard largely credits her with saving the lives of the 4 students (one was a 60-year old grandmother). She credits the successful rescue to the fact that they were well prepared for an emergency and remained calm throughout the accident and rescue. She is a small woman but the consummate professional, even so, there were times when I felt that the recollection of the events made her emotional, though she never openly displayed any such reaction.
Essentially, her advice is to be as well equipped as is practical but to test all equipment thoroughly before going off shore. She also said that unless something is physically attached to you (via carabiner), you'll most likely lose it. The two most essential pieces of equipment she said were the EPIRB and the liferaft, although in her story, the handheld VHF radio played a big part as well.
Her talk left many of the 60 or so people shaking their heads but I doubt anyone will change their plans because of what they heard. It was a freak accident and those can happen anytime, anywhere, to anyone, on the high seas or elsewhere. Frankly, I felt confident after her talk because it supports the efforts that I've made to prepare Rutea. We will make a few changes but we could easily leave tomorrow and know that we'd be well prepared for most serious situations.
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Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Saturday, January 8, 2011
A common scenario is you've just gotten in your bunk, looking forward to a good night's sleep. Then, you hear it: brrrrrrrrrrr - tock. Your eyes open and you listen for the sound again. Sure enough, as Rutea rolls back the other way: brrrrrrrrrrr - tock. It's not a loud or even unpleasant sound but now you can't focus on anything else. What the hell could that be? My mind goes through a check list of things stowed: spare parts, canned goods, rigging equipment, tools . . . brrrrrrrrrrr - tock. I concentrate on it. Actually, it sounds like a golf ball rolling across a piece of wood and then hitting a bulkhead. Except, that neither Ruthie nor I have ever picked up a golf club and I know there are no golf balls aboard. brrrrrrrrrrr - tock. I could get up and try to find the source of the annoyance but quite likely one of two things would happen: The sound would stop as soon as I left my bunk or I'd have to tear the boat apart and never would find the golf ball sound-alike.
We keep a large inventory of small terry cloth towels (we call them deck towels as we mostly use them for keeping the stainless polished, the gel coat free from water spots and the windshield clean enough to see through), however, they can also be handy for cushioning things so they don't rattle. Or roll. Or go brrrrrrrrrr - tock in the night.
We're just about to put to sea, this time leaving a very nice anchorage just south of Mazatlan for the anchorage just south of San Blas called Matachen Bay. Last night the mystery sound was coming from the spare alternator that is stowed on the shelf in my hanging locker. Only took a couple of minutes to find.
At 1/8/2011 5:31 PM (utc) Rutea's position was 23°10.96'N 106°24.56'W
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Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Sunday, January 2, 2011
This is my 5th voyage down the outside of "The Baja". Every single one of them has been different! Relatively speaking, this cruise down was a 'piece of cake'! Glossy seas gave the opportunity to see lots of birds, whales and dolphins. Minimal swell provided the advantage of being able to anchor in more open roadsteds and explore places we had not yet seen.
Yet, the one thing every thing every trip down the Baja holds in common is Transition- yes, with a capital T! I guess it could also be Initiation to the cruising life.... with a capital I!
First there is the obvious transition of life from a house to life on a boat. From a home that never moves to one in constant motion! There is the scaling down of spacial requirements. Being that there are three of us on this trip, we each have about 16 linear feet of space per person or maybe 28 square feet per person to call our own! the first thing to learn is to take up less space when you stretch, spread out your project or get emotional!
Of course there is also remembering how to use the boat itself! How to connect on the radios (a very important emergency tool), how to program the GPS, operate the radar, make water, check the engine oil and gauges, start the genset (generator) to charge the batteries, raise and lower the windlass to set the anchor- you get the picture! Everything (for me) just requires a little more muscle- climbing up and down the ladder in the companion-way, pulling in the sails, steering in rolly seas.....
As one sails south down the "outside" it is like sailing in the desert! We leave the beautiful oasis of irrigated so-cal and enter a landscape of stark beauty- treeless mountains, windswept beaches and eroded cliffs and plateaus covered only by scrub brush and occasional cactus. Life on land is not obvious as it takes cover during the day from the scorching sun, mostly to emerge in the evening and night under a bone chilling marine layer. I know that it is there... I see the coyote tracks....
Reading the water becomes critical. Change in water color indicates change in depth. Ripples show where there is wind, churning may show a fish boil, a plume of spray in the air: a pod of whales or a blow hole in the rocks. A dark spot on the surface of the water may be a shark sunning itself. As important as are our eyes, our other senses begin to be more importantly counted on- the smell a village occurs before it is seen, listening for the differences in the wind- the sound of wind howling in the rigging tells its velocity-, feeling the difference in sea motion indicates if you are on or off course.
This Transition time is important in the life of a cruiser. It's like a gestation period where you leave life as you know it and are born into a realm where mother nature rules supreme and you jockey position with the wind and the waves..... Every day is different and every day is new! On this passage down the Baja I remember I am on my own for entertainment, fullfillment, a lift in spirits or courage for what the next weather system or anchorage may bring.
So after 850 miles (at 6 knots per hour) I pretty much have my sea legs! I've remembered what I have signed up for! I am again Initiated! I have completed a rite of passage and have earned my Right to Passage!
Even though it's been cold (by southern Baja California standards - morning temperatures in the mid 50s) we've enjoyed our stay. Corie got some surfing in, we celebrated New Year's Eve with new friends and it marked a significant milestone in our trip. Perhaps the biggest news we received while here is that our daughter, Caity, has gotten engaged to her long-time boyfriend, Danny. Their wedding won't be for a while but we're very happy for both of them. I've got so many marriage lectures to share with them!
From here, we're planning on going just around the corner to Bahia de los Frailes, a small anchorage that's well protected from the 20-knot northwest winds that are forecast. We'll spend the night there and then head for Mazatlan, which, according to our chartplotter, is exactly 163 miles to the east. Hopefully, it will be warmer there. The people we met on Freya, a 53' Irwin ketch, are going to 'buddy boat' with us. On board is a family with a 22 year old young woman, her 18 year old brother, their father and a friend of the family. We have a lot in common and we're enjoying each others company. Corie has finally met someone her age instead of all these old people we keep running in to.
We're hopeful that 2011 will be a good year for all with peace, good health, happiness, fun adventures and much wealth, however you define it. Please drop us a note sometime as it's a high part of our day to hear from you. So long for now.