Thursday, November 25, 2004

Journal Entry – November 25, 2004 – Thanksgiving

Author: Pam

We thought we might have pollo (chicken) tacos for Thanksgiving dinner, but alas there is turkey in Mexico. A cruiser’s Thanksgiving dinner was organized by a couple of the cruisers who are living in La Paz long term. The turkey, cranberry sauce and drinks were provided. Everyone was asked to bring a side dish and your own plate, silverware… By the time we signed up, the request was for veggie dishes. Those who know me, know this is not my favorite food group. We purchased numerous cans of green beans and I made up a bean salad. 150 people were signed up for the dinner and when we arrived and went to add our salad to the table it looked like there were 150 dishes (several with green beans). There was more than enough food, even for people like Scott who visited the line more than four times, I won’t say how many. It was a good thing I brought extra paper plates. Unfortunately, there was a misunderstanding about the temperature (Celsius vs. Fahrenheit) between the person hired to cook the stuffing and the organizers, it was not finished cooking until after most people had dessert. We shared the meal with Abe & Amy from Eleytheria, Rhea & Stan from Vagari and Marianne & Drew from Soy Libre. The dinner was held outside at a neighboring marina, it was a warm sunny day. Abe, Amy, Scott and I decided to walk back to our marina, under the pretence we were all full, but truth be told we all secretly wanted to walk by what was to become our favorite ice cream shop. It was open, Thanksgiving is not a holiday observed in Mexico. We all made room for a scoop or two (depending on who you were) and called that dinner, since there was no leftover turkey for sandwiches. It was a very nice day and certainly a perfect example of the cruising community we are becoming a part of.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Journal Entry – November 21, 2004 -La Paz 24°09’N 110°19’W

Author: Scott and Pam

Today feels like it was ten days long. The trip from Los Muertos kept us both up most of the night. We had great wind and traveled most of the way at over 6 knots, but the passage was a little tricky because you have to thread your way through the Lorenzo Channel a five mile wide channel that divides the mainland from Isle and then you make a 90 degree turn to port to enter the La Paz bay while staying clear of shoals on both sides of the boat. Sounds tricky but it turned out to be fairly simple in execution. Another boat (who will remain nameless) actually made the trip on autopilot while the crew watched DVDs in their V-berth with an occasional glance out of the hatch.

It was fun getting the chance to travel with buddy boats. If you recall, we were a little behind the pack during the Baja Ha-Ha and so we did not get the chance to travel in a pack and chat on the radio… We lead the way for most of the trip, but we were finally overtaken by Eleytheria and Amazing Grace as we entered the La Paz bay.

They say that there are two kinds of boats, those that run aground and those that lie about running aground. We considered being the second today, but we are true to our oath to be completely honest in our telling of this tale, and so the truth is we got stuck in the mud as we entered the final channel into downtown La Paz. Those of you who have navigated the channel in Sausalito can appreciate the approach to La Paz. There is a narrow channel that hugs the shore despite miles of open (and very shallow) water in the La Paz bay. As we were just about to enter the channel, squish, we were stuck in the mud. After sailing all night and with just a few final miles to go, we were bummed out. We knew that we were just finishing the tidal cycle and within a few hours the tide would flood enough to free us, but who wants to sit around for others to see. Just then Eleytheria called to see how we were doing, and we sheepishly reported our situation. This is a good example of how helpful the sailing community can be whether you want help or not. With just the slightest mention of being stuck, Amazing Grace overheard the conversation and started seeking assistance for us, and before you knew it there was all kinds of chatter on the local net channel. We wanted to sink the boat and crawl deep in the mud to hide. Fortunately, we were able to switch channels and fend off any further assistance until we could assess whether or not we would need help from the cavalry. Our friends on Eleytheria graciously offered to dinghy out to help us, or at least wait out the tide with us.

Everyone should get stuck harmlessly in the mud now and then, so you can practice all of those techniques for freeing your boat that you learn about when you take sailing lessons or read sailing manuals, today we tried most of these techniques. We actually freed ourselves three times with various techniques just to squish back into a new mud trap. We were finally released from our captivity with the help of a local panga with a monster outboard. The plan was to use a halyard to heel the boat while we drove forward and out of the mud. The plan worked brilliantly and we meekly slunk into La Paz.

Today is Sunday and the marinas were closed. We had to anchor in the “Virtual Marina” which was once a real marina until a hurricane decimated it a few years back. Now you can stay anchored at the Virtual Marina for about three dollars a day, and use their dinghy dock, showers, and other services but there are no slips to tie up to.

Once we were anchored we were anxious to check out La Paz, and we were starving. We got a dinghy ride from Abe and Amy and met John from Amazing Grace and Andrew and Drew from Soy Libre at the Dinghy Dock. Food! We were off on the hunt for food and we sure found it. With complete dumb luck we happened across Rancho Villejo a street café with wonderful smells drifting out onto the street. “Let’s try it” we all agreed.

As I sit here writing this entry, the turmoil of the day has been washed away by the eight scrumptious carne asada tacos that I consumed at Rancho Villejo. The food was excellent and the cervazas were tasty. Our group of six plus one child feasted for less than thirty American dollars.

Tomorrow will be a big day, our first land shower since San Diego. I can hardly wait!

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Journal Entry – November 20, 2004

Author: Scott and Pam

Whew, we are back on the boat after quite a wild dinghy ride back from the beach. The wind has shifted direction and is now blowing from the south. This anchorage is a great shelter from the north and west, but very exposed from the south and east, so the seas are picking up and our gentle anchorage is turning into a roller coaster.

Today we went for a morning swim and Pam was mercilessly attacked by jellyfish again. Pam is now determined to visit the lady who makes dive skin suites in La Paz. It is so strange to us that such beautiful water can be full of nasty creatures. After the swim we got ready to head over to the beach for some Frisbee and relaxation. We broke out our pink (Scott likes to think of it as salmon) cooler bag, threw in some drinks and we were off in the dingy to pickup John from Amazing Graze and head to the beach. We managed one of our first beach landings without a hitch and staked out our spot on the beach near a small tent city of beach campers. Soon we were joined by Abe and Amy from Eleytheria and Andy and Drew from Soy Libre. The guys started talking boat engines and Pam and Drew got busy in a game of Frisbee. When the guys got tired of engines they joined Pam in the Frisbee game. A few minutes into Frisbee and Pam squealed in Pain. Another fish attack, but this one came back from the grave. Apparently, a puffer fish had sacrificed his life so that he could leave is blown up carcass on the beach just to spear Pam’s foot when she returned to earth after a dazzling Frisbee leap. Pam was hobbled and had to hop over to the beach blanket.

Dinghy ambulance to the rescue! Scot jumped into the dinghy and grabbed the first aid kit and returned to the beach for emergency puffer triage. After cleaning the wounds and applying antibiotic cream, it still looked as if Pam had at least two spines left in her foot, this will require further observation to avoid an infection. On one hand we are glad that we came so well prepared for first aid emergencies and illness, but would be nice to have fewer needs for these supplies, at least our medical needs have been minor thus far.

We ate lunch at the Giggling Marlin and by the time we finished the weather had changed significantly. Our calm and peaceful anchorage had a wind shirt and waves with whitecaps were already rolling in from the south. We had to make two trips in the dinghy to return the Alethereans back to their boat and then return to the beach to get Pam and John. We had a bit of a scare because we ran out of fuel, but we had enough fuel in our gas can to complete the trip (just by the skin of our teeth).

Once back on Tournesol we decided to depart ASAP. We spent the next few hours preparing the boat while we rocked, rolled, pitched, yawed, bounced, and basically felt like we were inside of a pinball machine. We are now about ready to pull up the hook and head off to La Paz. Eleytheria, Soy Libre, and Amazing Grace will be right on our heels in about two hours, and Stargazer will be leaving some time in the middle of the night. It will be nice to have a little convoy as we pass through two channels to get to La Paz.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Journal Entry – November 19, 2004 – Bahia de los Breakdancing

Author: Scott and Pam

Hello from Bahia de los Muertos 23°59’.2N 109°49’.5W! We arrived yesterday as the sun was setting and had an easy anchoring in 20’ of pristine aquamarine water with a white sand beach off our port beam. Our trip from Los Frailes was a hard beat into the wind. The trip took eighteen hours to make only 48 nm. From the time we left our anchorage until we dropped the hook in Los Muertos the seas were sloppy and confused making for a turbulent long ride for us. One thing that stands out during the journey is our too close for comfort visit from a large ship. This wasn’t due to a careless lack of attention on our part. The ship closed in on us in the middle of the night. We took the appropriate actions to increase the distance between our vessels, however they seemed to just continue to bare down on us. When the ship came within a mile of our position Scott haled them on VHF and asked “Vessel on our starboard aft quarter do you see us on radar?” They came back with an immediate and clear “Yes we see you and we will continue to hold our course.” Although this was never a dangerous situation, it made us feel very vulnerable and gave us the feeling the ship was just trying to rattle our cage, and it worked. Another observation we have to share is just how bright a cruise ship is at night! You can see a cruise ship from over ten miles away and we are visually impaired. There sure are a lot of cruise ships in Mexican waters making nighttime passages. It makes you think a little about midnight buffets and champagne. Well, we had our gummy sharks to eat on watch.

Today we woke up slowly, completed boat chores and made plans to go to the local market with Amy and Abe from Eleytheria, John from Amazing Grace, and Andy from Soy Libre. Scott swam ashore and met the group as they dinghied to shore. We set out along a long desert road in search of fresh vegetables and maybe something to cook on the barbecue. It turns out our original understanding that the market was about three miles away was just a little off the mark. The market was actually eleven kilometers or about seven miles from the anchorage. Like troopers we trudged in the heat without complaining. We passed some cows walking down the road and passed the time wondering who had put tires on the upper branches of giant cacti. As we entered the small group of buildings that was not large enough to call a village, the first thing we came upon was a sign advertising the Cock Fights on Sunday nights. We also noticed the many roosters we could hear all around us. We were sure in an interesting place, cock fights and tires on cacti, what next?

We found the “Super Mini Market”, and it wasn’t quite what we had in mind. There was a woman sitting on a bucket in the middle of the store watching a television and she never looked away or acknowledged us. The shelves were almost bare and our visions of fresh meat and vegetables were dashed. By now we were parched and they did have cold sodas and beer. We all found a few items and headed outside to consider our options for the return seven mile journey. As we were sitting on the stoop a white pickup drove by and Amy thought the occupants gave us a big stare. The truck made a u-turn and after Amy waved them down, they pulled up in front of the store. Abe negotiated a ride for us in Spanish and the six of us piled into the back of the truck with the cart and groceries. The trip back went much quicker, but the truck stopped at the end of the paved road and we figured we had reached the end of the line and we would have to walk the remaining distance along the dirt road. As we were preparing to climb out of the truck the four occupants told us not to worry, they would take us all the way back to the beach. We figured maybe they needed to use the bushes or something, but they turned up the truck’s stereo and started breakdancing in the road. Apparently they wanted us to see their dancing ability. They were doing handstands, spinning on their backs and knees, and putting on quite a performance. One guy was just standing off to the side and Amy asked why he was not dancing. He told Amy to join in, and before we knew it, she was out of the truck doing cartwheels (we got a great picture, see the scrapbook). Once we got over the shock, we all had a laugh at just how weird and perfect the whole situation was.

Once back at the beach we decided to eat at The Giggling Marlin the only restaurant around. Our group of cruisers grew to nine, including Drew who is four and the first “boat kid” we have met. What an incredible experience life must be for Drew who has never lived on land.

During dinner the subject of cockroaches on boats came up. Now you have to understand that Scott hates bugs. Well, apparently there are three kinds of boats; boats that have bugs, boats that say they don’t but really do, and boats that are trying to get rid of bugs. We have come to learn that bugs, roaches, and lice are endemic among many cultures and these pests usually find their way aboard visiting yachts. They and their eggs usually hitchhike with cardboard and packaging

Once back at the boat, Pam decided to treat herself to a “fancy foot bath”. Scott went along and we both now have peppermint feet. We are both realizing how special the little things in life can be and we are certain this is only the beginning.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Journal Entry - November 17, 2004 - Los Frailes (“Fry-layz”) 23° 22’N 109°25’W

Author: Scott

We took a few days off from journaling, and since our last entry we had a chance to see our first movie outside of the United States (Alfie) . The movie was in English but had Spanish subtitles. We also had a chance to relax and enjoy Cabo a little, eating at a few of Scott’s favorite restaurants. You can find the best homemade lasagna at La Dolce! We also had some time to work on the website and send email to friends.

On Monday evening we hoisted our anchor and left Cabo astern to head around the east cape into the Sea of Cortez. We ran our engine for a few hours to feed our batteries that are still not fully charged after the Turtle Bay situation. We decided on a two hours on and two hours off watch, with two watches each to get us through the night We have seemed to settle into a variation of two and three hour watches when we make passages. If we can hold to a three hour watch cycle, we find we stay well rested. We always time our watch schedule so we are both awake for landfalls. Unfortunately, our ambitious plan to arrive early in the morning was thwarted by winds in our face most of the night. We were only able to sail for about three hours and our maximum speed was 4.8 knots. After we made the turn north we had winds of twelve knots right on the nose, with no hope of sailing. At least our batteries got lots of juice, and our engine performed like a champ!

We are now anchored at Los Fralies in 22’ of very blue water. Los Fralies is 42 miles northeast of Cabo San Lucas. There is a massive 755’ rocky headland that makes up the northern wall of the south anchorage. As you approach, the edges of the shale slabs are what looked to early explorers like friars climbing at an angle (see scrapbook).

When we arrived our first order of business was to get wet. We had already changed into swim suits prior to arrival and as soon as the anchor was set, and the swim ladder was placed on deck, we were in the cool water. We should mention here that in addition to birds, Pam gets a little nervous when swimming in tropical waters (Jaws and stinging things…). No sooner had we taken a few strokes towards shore when Pam was stung by something. A few more strokes and Scott got stung too. It turns out the water here is swarming with these little jellyfish creatures, and to swim you must wear a wetsuit.

We quickly swam to shore and crawled up on the rocky beach inspecting our stings. Now what, we knew we had to swim back and we weren’t looking forward to it. We walked along the rocky sand among the local fishing pangas and the big birds waiting for fish treats. Sitting on a four wheel drive quad was a man staring to sea looking at the new sailboat arrivals. Pam asked him if he lived here. His name is Vern and he lives here in a trailer on a local’s ranch six months of the year. He is from Northern Canada. He told us the grocery truck comes three times a week, but sadly the beer truck no longer comes, the one hotel owner doesn’t like anyone and it has only rained twice in the last year or so. He has a 180 gallon water tank in the back of his truck and drives up to another ranch with a well to fetch water, but he did offhandedly mention the well only has four feet of water at this time and if it dries up the cattle will be in danger. Also, apparently the daughters of the ranch owner where he lives have never left Los Frailes and one of them at 42 has never had a boyfriend. Scott secretly thinks Vern has his eye on her. This was all from a ten minute conversation, it seems like even the most remote places have their share of gossip and drama.

After hightailing it back to Tournesol without further encounters with the stingy things and taking a bug shower we got a call on the VHF from Eleytheria asking if we wanted some fresh red snapper from the fisherman on shore. Considering our lack of fresh food on board, that was an adamant yes. The fish purchase turned into a pot luck plan on Eleytheria. We dined in yummy BBQ snapper, rice and bell pepper salad with Abe and Amy, Diane and Mark (AKA Isabelle and Ricardo) from Con Te Partiro and Pat and Jean from Chalet Mer. It was probably the first of many meals shared with the wonderful people sharing the cruising life.

Pam has now added another vehicle to her short list of motor vehicles she has driven, she is now up two. Scott gave her a dinghy driving lesson this afternoon. It won’t be long before she wants to be in the driver’s seat all of the time, since it can be the drier spot. It wasn’t Scott’s driest ride, but that may have been a little intentional.

As we sit here completing this journal entry we are preparing to go to the hotel on the beach (to meet the owner who doesn’t like anybody) and try the fabled strong and delicious margaritas. We will be setting sail for Bahia de los Muertos tomorrow at sunrise, 47 miles W of Los Frailes.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Journal Entry – Saturday November 13, 2004 – SSB Communication

Author: Scott and Pam

Not much to report today, but we thought we would mention how communication takes place between cruisers. We have two radios aboard Tournesol, we have a marine VHF radio and a single side band (SSB) radio. The VHF radio is used for general communication with a range of up to 30 miles. In the United States the VHF radio is used for communications with the Coast Guard, Vessel Traffic Services, most marinas, to hail other vessels, and to obtain weather reports. Internationally the VHF services many of the same functions, but cruisers also use the VHF to network within a local area, anchorage, or group of marinas. For example, here in Cabo, cruisers are using channel 22A (the Coast Guard channel in the US) for general communications and haling other vessels. In each new location there is generally an agreed upon VHF channel that is selected for a local network.

The SSB radio is a high frequency transceiver that has the capability to send messages across great distances, and is also used for sending email and receiving weather faxes. Group communication or “nets” are scheduled daily with boats throughout a geographic area (i.e. Amigo Net is broadcast throughout Mexico) and cruisers use these virtual meeting areas to keep informed about many aspects of cruising such as weather, customs, facilities, and locations of friends. The SSB radio also functions as a ham radio and can provide licensed users with many more features including patches to telephone communications, and an entirely separate group of frequencies to communicate worldwide.

We are just learning about all of the features our SSB radio offers. We are now monitoring Amigo Net and the Blue Water Net here in Mexico. We also use our SSB radio to send and receive Sail Mail, email that is transmitted over the radio and decoded on our laptop computer while we are at sea.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Journal Entry – Friday November 12, 2004 – TGIF

Author: Pam

TGIF is a concept that no longer has any real meaning to us, we barely mange to keep up with the date and day of the week. Today we did have one errand to accomplish because it is Friday and the rest of the world keeps to that workweek schedule. Since we intend to move on towards La Paz this weekend we needed to checkout with Immigration and the Port Capitain. We also needed to fuel up and take on water. We decided to divide and conquer, so Pam and Amy charmed their way through the bureaucracy while Scott and Abe fueled up Tournesol. Since we had the chance to get water, and the boat was bone dry, Pam had us fill the water tanks, jerry cans, sun shower, and bug shower (equaling 138 gallons of fresh water.

The boat was well fed with fuel and water, and Pam and Amy got checked out in record time, including Pam forging Scott’s signature five times in front of the Immigration officer (a smile goes a long way in Mexico).

Lunch was a real treat. Abe and Amy took us to a little Taqueria that looked like a family added on to their house and run the business in the front yard. Tacos are about one US dollar or 100 pesos. These tacos rank among the best that Scott has ever had in Mexico.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Journal Entry – Thursday November 11, 2004 – One month since departure

Author: Scott and Pam

The day started with tearing the back lazarette apart looking for the funnel to be used for filling the water tanks. Our water tanks are finally empty, so we put in the ten gallons of reserve that has been riding in jerry cans on the bow since San Diego. Tomorrow or the next day we will go in to the fuel dock and get water and fuel for our upcoming departure from Cabo. We went swimming for exercise, it was lovely. Our outboard motor was still acting up, so we got a tow into the Marina from a water taxi to have yet another engine looked at by the boat yard. The minor problemo is fixed and we now have two working engines! We have spent the day hanging with Abe and Amy at the Theory Café working on the Journal and trying to catch up with the backlog of e-mail. It has been a very relaxing day, except Pam has not been feeling well all day. It seems her stomach is getting a welcome to Mexico. We were supposed to have dinner with John from My Turn, but eating is not on Pam’s agenda today. Hopefully she will be ready to play tomorrow. Don’t worry about Scott, undoubtedly he will find lots to eat, including Burger King a little while ago.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Journal Entry – Wednesday November 10, 2004

Author: Pam

Today we finally got the boat to a boat yard and we were able to resolve the remaining issues with our electrical system. We had an extra regulator onboard (thanks to Malcolm Morgan our electrician in the Bay Area). The only thing we didn’t manage to complete today was to have our outboard looked at, so we will bring it in tomorrow.

The rest of the day was spent at the Internet café and running errands. Dinner was simple, soup on Tournesol. We seem to be going to sleep and waking up earlier each day.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Journal Entry – Tuesday November 9, 2004

Author: Scott

We woke up early to meet John for another session of diesel surgery. John brought along a magnetic metal probe and we commenced the search for the MIA engine parts. Today was a new day and with it came some real progress in the mechanical solutions department. John determined our engine assistants in Turtle Bay were not only unsuccessful in machining the missing part for our water pump, but they had actually installed it upside-down, so apparently our cooling system was never working at all since Turtle Bay. After countless trips back and forth between Tournesol and Western Grace with our extremely heavy battery and with the determination of a dog with a bone, John soon had warm water flowing from our boat and a functional cooling system, our wheel had been fixed, and all that stood in our way was the faulty regulator.

It is important to mention here just what kind of person John is. Throughout the distress of our engine problems John would say “Just don’t despair, this is the cruising life and this is all part of it. When you can help someone else out, lend a hand”. John also wanted to be captured in our journal as a person who believes deeply in god and wants others to know that when he turned his troubles over to the lord, his life greatly improved. Although our religious beliefs may differ, John is a great example of how you can glean so much from the wide diversity of those who are out cruising the world in their sailboats.

With our boat almost in tact we made plans to completely splurge in Cabo. We had leaned that Abe and Amy were fighting the temptations of Ruth Chris Steak House, and it was decided we should all sink our teeth into a big fat juicy steak. We are learning that cruising is a series of extremes. There is beauty, excitement, unforeseen calamities, and the complete bliss of eating a steak served with au gratin potatoes and asparagus with hollandaise sauce! We could not remember a meal that taste so good. We have sailed over a thousand miles, faced and overcome challenges, and as we sat there with new friends, dining on our delectable meal, the stresses from our trip melted into the satisfaction of accomplishment and the thrill of the adventure.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Journal Entry - Monday November 8, 2004

Author: Scott

We have now experienced the bureaucracy of the checking in process when you arrive in Mexico from a foreign port by boat. John and Joanne came by the boat at 0830 to head into town to take care of the paperwork and fees required. We set out in our dinghy only to have the motor die a few hundred feet from the boat. Oh no, not another engine issue. John towed us to the dinghy dock and we set off for the Port Capitain’s office. Upon arriving Scott filled out five copies of the crew list which was presented to the Port Capitain. We paid an entry fee based on the tonnage (Tournesol is 8 gross tons) of Tournesol and then we were off down the road to Immigration. After waiting three hours it was our turn. The first agent asked if we came by boat, if yes, you have to talk to him. Back in line. The other guy sent us back to the first guy where we filled out another crew list and tourist cards. Back in line again. He then asked us to bring him three copies of the crew list. Of course there is no way to make a copy at Immigration, so out the door and down the street we go to the have copies made. Back to Immigration and back in line again. As it was our turn another man approached the counter, shook hands with the agent and proceeded to pull our at least ten folders. He was a “paper man” that had been hired by people who didn’t want to run all over town and stand in line. Another side note, John and Joanne were completing the same process, hmmmm they didn’t need to submit three copies of their crew list. They had the other guy. Ah, we are not done yet. Now it is off to the bank to pay the fee for the tourist visa. There are so many people waiting in line at the bank, again for the third time we took a number and sat down in the rows of chairs and waited for our turn. The transaction seemed to go fine we converted some money and paid our fee, we thought. At closer inspection, Scott realized she had only given him the equivalent of $40.00 in pesos, instead of two hundred and ten and our visas were not stamped. It appeared we just made a deposit in the Banamex. The manager tried to convince us we needed to go back to Immigration, this took a bit of sorting out, but her boo boo was resolved. It is now 1300 and we are not done yet. Now it is off to API to pay the fee for anchoring for free, this one really doesn’t make sense, but you need this receipt when you check out. So, it will be back to the Port Capitain and Immigration when we are ready to leave Cabo to pay more fees. Most ports have a check in and out process, but apparently it varies as much as our experience versus John’s and Joanne’s. It is now 1400 and we all need a cerveza, so off we went for beer and tacos.

After our experience checking in to Cabo we returned to the boat and John agreed to come over to have a look at our engine. In the process of examining the water pump, two parts fell below the engine and seemed to disappear; we were also halted because the starter battery had died again. Enough for today, we decided to give it another go in the morning and John took our heavy starter battery back to Western Grace.

With nothing to do without lights and power, we decide to make the most out of our environment and take a dip in the warm Cabo water. The sounds of the three beachfront cantinas mixed with the night air and soothing water. We felt like we were in Mexico. Sleep came quickly in the warm climate.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Quick Note - Anchored in Cabo

We got to Cabo yesterday. We are now over 1,000 miles into our voyage. Tomorrow we will post most of our journal.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Journal Entry – Saturday November 6, 2004

Author: Pam

We were 30 miles from Cabo at 0800, after an awesome night of great wind and making excellent progress. We made our plan for the day and for arrival. We were hoping to arrive in time for the final Baja Ha Ha awards party to at least complete our attempt to participate. We cleaned up the cabin, continued to read Lionheart (we have one chapter left) and took a shower. The day was looking good until the wind died. It took us ten hours to sail those 30 miles. The engine was still overheating and we could only motor every three hours for an hour or less at a time, we had to work with our 1-3 knots of wind. We pulled in to the anchorage just as the sun was going down, we couldn’t believe it was about to get dark. We had turned the engine on for our approach, hoping it would make it. We slowly searched for where to anchor, Pam was on the bow on look out for anchor lights and other boats. Yikes, it got dark very quickly. We finally spotted an anchor light and headed in that direction, to quickly discover there were boats anchored without their anchor light turned on. Ok, the depth worked, time to drop the anchor before we run into an already anchored boat. Phew, we are finally here, Cabo San Lucas, 22°53N 110° 02W.

We had heard on the radio earlier the party was at 1800, which is exactly the time we arrived. So, now how are we going to get there? We tried to call for a water taxi, with no success on the two channels we knew might be monitored. Come to find out later they monitor channel 14. Pam was not comfortable going into an unknown marina after dark in our dinghy. When we thought we were out of options a call came over the VHF for Tournesol from Western Grace offering us a dinghy ride to shore. Our arrival in Cabo was graciously acknowledged when we arrived at the awards ceremony. We were the last to arrive, but we were thrilled to be here and looking forward to resources to get our engine issues resolved. We went to dinner with our friend Jan that evening at the Fish House and had a lovely relaxing evening on land.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Journal Entry – Friday, November 5, 2004

Author: Scott

We are 111 miles from Cabo and we are making reasonable way at an average of 3.5 knots. We are sailing downwind with a full main and partially furled jib. Wind speed is about 6 knots. We are both eager to just GET THERE (to Cabo).

Today started out a little different than normal, as Scott was finishing up his second watch of the prior night and the sun was just coming up, we had a visitor in the form of a small bird who was hitchhiking aboard Tournesol. We were about 25 miles off shore and it just amazes us how a little bird can find it’s way out into the big ocean with no place to land. Supposedly some birds can land on the water and never touch land, but I didn’t see any flippers on this guy, so he sure didn’t look like any kind of water bird to me. However, we did learn that our new friend has cold feet. While I was reading my Steven King novel after already video taping the bird in the cockpit, all of a sudden I heard a piercing scream come from the cabin, and I thought Pam had had a sailing nightmare, where maybe she envisioned the rig falling down or the boat sinking. But no, it was nothing like that, it seems our hitchhiker had made his way into the cabin while I was reading and landed on Pam’s bare shoulder while she was sleeping. The cold feet woke Pam and when she opened her eyes the bird flew up to the cabin hatch with wings fluttering. Now you need to understand while Pam has few fears and has faced all sorts of stresses on the boat, she does have a phobia of birds. This would be my equivalent of waking up in a bed covered with cockroaches. As Pam cowered under the covers and yelled for me to get it out of here, I was torn between video taping the event and trying to rescue Pam from the pint sized vulture. I was surprised at how bold the bird was, as it fluttered down on Pam again and strutted all over her blanket as she hid beneath, and yes all of this was captured live on video tape!

After today’s bird incident I confessed about a week earlier we were visited by another bird while Pam was sleeping. I had decided not to tell Pam about the first visit, knowing it would upset her and create a whole new series of preventative measures to keep any future birds outside of our nest. Now we will probably institute a daily bird watch as we each take turns sleeping off watch.

Other events of the day include spaghettios and fruit cups for lunch, the weather is hot and sunny. We had to use our cabin fans for the first time today and the water continues to turn bluer by the hour.

Our engine seems to be behaving better and not throwing off any water. John from Western Grace thinks this is common for boats that head into warmer waters. We will still have things checked out in Cabo or La Paz.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Journal Entry – Thursday November 4, 2004

Author: Pam

There was virtually no wind from 0530 to 1730. We made very little progress and this was insult to injury as we just wanted to get to Cabo and have our engine looked at. As we continue to read Lionheart, Jessie was becalmed for four days, and so we decided that we could not be too disappointed in our slow progress, we also had a safe boat with a functional rig to get us to Cabo, so our sickly engine and lack of progress were just inconveniences.

We made our first dinner that was not completely from a can. We dined on spaghetti with red sauce and clams, and green beans. Well I guess most of it was from a can or jar, but it was a little more like a traditional dinner. We ate heartily and decided we should use more clams in the future.

At 2000 we talked to Western Grace on the SSB and finally found out Bush won the election. I guess we are destined to stay out of the country for at least four more years.

We both finished Clan of the Cave Bear today.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Journal Entry – Wednesday November 3, 2004

Author: Scott

Not much sleep, as the boat made mysterious new noises, and our paranoia grew that we would have a new problemo.

Today was not a good food preparation day at sea, but it was another good lesson at sea. First, we learned that our standard of eating things after being dropped had greatly changed from the common landlubbers three second rule to the if it isn’t covered in dirt then you can still eat it rule. Pam had a pan of uncooked biscuits slide off of the counter and flip upside down onto the floor, only one of the six biscuits was deemed fish food and thrown overboard. Scott had a similar experience at dinner when he flipped over the new pot with the fancy straining lid and dumped the entire pot full of macaroni into the sink. The macaroni went back into the pan, met the cheese sauce and still made for a great dinner.

We also made good use of calm seas and steady but mild wind. We set out to clean off the 1/8” layer of dirt from Turtle Bay. Absolutely everything was coated in a fine sandy brown dust that when mixed with moisture created a stubborn mud. Pam was indispensable with her vigorous and through compulsion to clean. She even cleaned every tool inside of the tool box. Scott on the other hand made great progress cleaning the boat with bucket after bucket full of salt water. This cleaned off the sand but added to the layer of salt on everything. Then Scott managed to feed the boat brush to Poseidon, though he adamantly alleges that the boat brush just jumped overboard on it’s own.

After cleaning we took our first shower in the cockpit while listening to Jimmy Buffet and watching the sunset. With nothing more than our toilet kits and what we came into the world with, we basked in warm water from our handy bug sprayer shower. We fabricated the shower from a three gallon bug sprayer, adapted with a kitchen sink sprayer hose.

Today also marked a first in our new cruising life, neither of us knew who had won the Presidential election in the United States. There was no word of the results on the Single Side Band radio (SSB) and we were completely cut off from the world. In contrast to our lack of information, we witnessed one of the most spectacular nighttime skies either of us had ever seen. It is not often that visually impaired people are awed by planets and starlight, but for us it was our front row seat at the movies version of astronomy.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Journal Entry – Tuesday November 2, 2004 – Turtle Trouble 4

Author: Pam

The wind at the anchorage continued to blow like crazy throughout the night and morning hitting wind speeds of 40 knots. Our anchor snubber worked well and we never slipped our anchor at all, but this did not stop Scott from getting up throughout the night to check on the anchor.

John our new friend from Western Grace showed up in his speedy dinghy to finish repairs to our steering system. We continued to learn that most problems can be fixed with some imagination and a lot of persistence. It is strange to think that just over a month ago we were busy at work, attending meetings, and today we were curled up in the engine room, covered in grease, fixing problems that most people would solve with the help of a local mechanic. We have much to lean about self sufficiency in the cruising life, but we have the right spirit and some great examples to learn from. Before John had left the boat he repaired the compass light (that was never wired), completely fixed our steering problem, and made preliminary assessments of our overheating problem. If we had left the prior day, when all we wanted to do was leave, we never would have met John and leaned these valuable morsels of information and lessons in the cruising life, and we would have left with a poorly functioning wheel.

Once John was clear of the boat we set out to attempt our fourth departure. We would now sail 400 miles straight to Cabo and skip the second Baja Ha-Ha stop at Bahia Santa Maria.

The wind had not calmed down, we had a sailboat anchored directly over our anchor, the dock was looming, off of our port side and we had rocks aft of the boat, and the dust was still flying and coating everything. We certainly didn’t have ideal conditions for leaving. We managed to escape the anchorage, not without receiving a VHF call from Western Grace warning us of the rocks on our starboard side. We corrected course to allow for a wide margin, and motored out of the bay. Nothing could have felt better than unfurling our jib in 25 knots of wind and streaking off at 7 knots. See you later Tuttle Bay! We never did see any turtles.

Once at sea Scott went below to assess the engine and found the hose to the radiator had come loose, after searching high and low for a hose clamp, the hose was repaired. We had no idea if our engine would continue to function to Cabo, but at least we were sailing. After running our engine for about an hour we were able to use our auto pilot that we decided to name Trooper, for the grueling work it had performed while our steering was not functioning properly. Trooper was greatly relieved!

Another notable event was the discovery of the part under the engine that we suspected was lost by Missael and Armando. This part cost us a whole extra day in Turtle Bay, but had they not lost it, we would never have met John and our steering would still be broken. Strange how things work out!

Who won the election???

As we continued to sail throughout the day, we could only run our engine for about an hour at a time, so as to prevent any overheating. This created a delicate balance of engine use, and battery life. We could only generate limited power before we would need to use the engine again to create more power. If we miscalculated we could run down our starting battery and again be without an engine.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Journal Entry - Monday November 1, 2004

Author: Scott and Pam

We awoke determined to leave Turtle Bay. We would have a fully charged battery from Reel Attitude and a backup charger possibly charging at Rosario’s house. We jumped in the reinflated dinghy and rowed to shore. Rosario met us on the beach and handed over our charger. Upon inspection the charger was not charged and Rosario’s outlet was faulty. Rosario told us that he found an electrical mechanic and he would be here in un momento. Although our mind was made up to leave, we decided to have breakfast at Maria’s and see who turned up. It was our first taste of eggs and bacon in quite some time, and although they had no orange juice and only had sprite or beer to drink, we were well fed. At the conclusion of breakfast Rosario introduced us to Carlos. Carlos was a seemingly knowledgeable and laid back guy and he spoke some English. What have we got to loose, lets give it a try.

We started rowing out to Tournesol to meet Rosario and Carlos and were fighting the wind, when along came a guy in a dingy to tow us over to Tournesol. “Hello” said our new acquaintance in a heavy Dutch accent, “I just dropped off your battery on your boat”. John dropped us off and we set out to work on the electrical charging problem. After three hours of work and after being fed the leftovers of our blueberry muffins Carlos had determined the problem, our regulator was not working. Of course we had to remove, clean and reinstall our alternator before we came to this conclusion. Meanwhile, John showed up in his dinghy again, and introduced himself as the owner of Western Grace a 55’ charter sail boat that he operated with his wife Joanne. John came on board and discussed our charging problem and wanted to investigate our steering issue, moments later he was up to his elbows removing parts of our wheel steering with complete confidence. Carlos finished up with the electric problem by jury-rigging a switch to bypass our regulator and charge our batteries. Carlos was off leaving John to work with us on our steering problem. “Oh this is not good” said John, “I am sure we can fix it”. As John worked we leaned he had owned his boat for three years and charted it out to people who wanted to cruise Mexico, Central America, and the North West. John was patient as he worked and spent time teaching us what he leaned while repairing the wheel. In an hour and half he had repaired what Anderson’s boat yard could not even diagnose and had saved us hundreds of dollars while making Tournesol much safer. We made an invaluable new friend that we were sure would teach us much more about the cruising life.

We now had a functional electric system, a repaired fuel impeller, and a wheel that worked like new, we could leave Turtle Bay! However, while all of this work was being completed the wind had kicked up to 40 knots and a dust storm hit Turtle Bay. We could not leave today. We waited out the storm as Tournesol turned brown in the dust and laughed at the irony of the whole situation. Our spirits were up and not even the dust storm could break our mood.

Dinner was raviolis that we ate holed up in our cabin to escape the dust.