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December 18, 2006

Photo Albums for San Diego to Cabo and Cabo to La Paz

I completly forgot to upload all the pictures from San Diego to Cabo when I was in Cabo San Lucas. Actually I didn't have a decent internet connection then and forgot all about it by the time I got to Mazatlan. But now I've just posted two new albums with pictures from San Diego to Cabo with Trevor and Kurt and from Cabo to La Paz via Mazatlan, San Blas and Punta de Mita.

San Diego to Cabo:

Cabo to La Paz:

December 13, 2006

Punta De Mita to La Paz

I took off Monday the 4th from Banderas Bay for La Paz. I came down with a cold in Punta de Mita and had spent a couple of days resting waiting for weather. Don's weather report that morning called for brisk winds out of the southeast which would be very unusual and very favorable for my passage north. Unfortunately I only got a southerly for the first few hours but it was great. It had been blowing 40 knots up in the Sea of Cortez the day before and there were these big 8 – 10 foot waves rolling like a freight train out of the north. While the wind was out of the south, the period on the waves was quite high and I was having a surreal sail on a broad reach sailing up and over these long waves with no wind swell whatsoever. Then the wind came out of the north, but it was still light and I spent the rest of the day beating with full sails. The next day my autopilot broke. Now I only use the autopilot when I'm motoring and use the monitor when I'm sailing, but the next day also found light and variable winds. So I spent the next two days trying to make my way up to Mazatlan alternately motoring and beating into light winds all the while bashing through 6 – 8 foot head seas. So not only did I have to hand steer, but the boat was smashing itself to pieces in the bargain. When I finally did get into Mazatlan after being awake for 40 hours, I dropped the hook and slept for 15.

I spent two days in Mazatlan and after catching up on my sleep, I fixed the belt on the autopilot which had slipped off the drive gear and I met Bob off of SV Harmony who had just finished a 4 year circumnavigation and was helping to deliver a boat from PV to La Paz. Unfortunately the boat that he was delivering had even more problems than mine did when I left Washington....ripped sails, “cascading” leaks, frozen transmission, broken shrouds and a bunch of other problems. Bob and I spent most of the day drinking beers, talking about the South Pacific and SE Asia and there be no reason to do a circumnavigation. Bob seems to think that Thailand is as far west as you want to go, which seems like a pretty reasonable thing to me, missing the pirate waters of the middle east, the expense and crowd of the Med and the Carribean and missing the wear and tear of going around South Africa. After dinner a great Mexican Beatles cover band was playing in the gazebo in the square in front of the Performing Art Center so we watched them until midnight and then turned in.

Here's my autopilot. The belt had come off the drive gear. Putting this thing back together properly without any diagrams in the manual was a chore:

The next day I was going to leave Mazatlan, but first I needed to get some diesel. It's 250 miles from Mazatlan to La Paz and it's all upwind so I figured that I'd be doing a lot of motoring. The only problem is that the “cruisers” fuel dock is blocked by a dredge most of the day and I would have to wait until mid afternoon to fuel up. Instead I decided that I would try fueling up at the commercial dock. Now this was an experience. I don't think that they get many small boats. The dock was guarded by two M-16 toting sailors from the Mexican Navy who were nice enough to take my dock lines as I came in. The dock was lined with old tractor tires hung high enough that Bodhran's hull almost slid completely under them. On the bright side, the tires were useful for climbing the 4 feet from Bodhran's deck up to the dock. The guards didn't speak any english, but seemed very impressed that I was single handing and when I asked them for diesel they vaguely pointed up the road. It seems that the dock is well guarded, but isn't actually manned for anyone who wants fuel. So I made my way up the road until I found that fuel dock office. Then it was a matter of convincing the guy that it was worth his while to get up and come down to give me some fuel. I was only getting 200 liters of diesel and I'm sure that they're used to getting orders for 20,000 liters or more. Once I did get the guy down to the dock, he spent quite a bit of time finding a small enough nozzle for his hose that would fit my fuel fill. Then it was a matter of trying to pump slow enough to not overwhelm my tank vent. Finally I got my 200 liters and paid the man up the road. On my way back I picked up a couple of cold cokes for my gun toting dock hands who appreciated the drinks and wanted to trade me for magazines. These guys spend all day baking in the hot sun with no shade and nothing to do but look at the pictures in a two year old copy of “People” and a 3 year old copy of “Us Weekly”. I'm not sure that my magazines were any better, but the fashionable members of the Mexican Navy in Mazatlan are now learning the finer points of small boat restoration from the last two issues of “Good Old Boat.”

Here's the fuel dock at Mazatlan:

Once I had my fuel I took off and started motoring NW for La Paz. After a couple of hours the wind filled out of the NNW and I spent the next 2 days closed hauled on a starboard tack withing 10 degrees of laying the passage I was shooting for south of Isla Cerralvo. The wind stayed steady between 10 and 15 knots and the seas ranged from 2 – 6 feet as I chewed through 208 windward miles in 2 days. I was ecstatic, that's about as good a performance you could wish for out of my heavily laden old boat with it's tired old sails. I reached Isla Cerralvo on the morning of the third day and lost my wind all together. So I motoring the rest of the way into La Paz, dropped the hook and once again slept for over 12 hours. I've been in La Paz for a couple of days now, but my cold from Punta De Mita hasn't cleared up yet and so I haven't been into town until now. I've spent the last two days getting lots of sleep and watching the first 3 seasons of “Entourage” that Todd burned for me before I left. So now I'm ashore and it's time to start exploring La Paz.

December 2, 2006

San Blas to Punta de Mita

Here's Bodhran anchored up the estuary in San Blas:

San Blas is a nice little resort town without big resorts and still very Mexican. I was meeting up with Alexis the first day in town, but while I was sitting out at anchor, Sergio and his sisters came swimming up to the dinghy and asked if they could hold on to it and take a break. We got to talking and eventually he invited me to eat the shrimp that his mom was cleaning up on the dock. How could I refuse? So instead of trying to find Alexis I spent most of the first day in San Blas hanging out on the fuel dock, chatting and drinking cerveza with Sergio, his father Ernesto and the rest of the family and eating ceviche shrimp. Basically they cleaned all the shrimp, squeezed in a bunch of lime and picante sauce and then stirred it all up. The lime juice cooks the shrimp and then you spread a bunch of the little fellas on a tostada and eat it with your hands. It was a great experience and so nice to hang out with some locals and not be a tourist for a while.

This is Sergio and his family at the Pemex dock in San Blas

The next morning I was able to track down Alexis' hotel and met her friend Rena who was traveling with her. We hung out for a while and then it was down to the beach. It had rained the night before and this was my first cloudy day in Mexico. As it turned out, it was warmer in the water than out of it so we spent most of our time swimming and trying a little to body surf with little luck. The next day Alexis and Rena moved their stuff out of the hotel and onto Bodhran and then we took a panga up the estuary to see some crocodiles. We only saw one big croc, but it was a great trip cruising through the mangrove swamps in the late afternoon with birds everywhere and the occasional little crocodile.

Rena and Alexis in our panga for the estuary tour:

This is the one good size croc we saw on the tour:

The only problem with San Blas is the bugs. It gets really buggy every night when the sun goes down and after 3 nights of broiling in a sealed up boat it was time to get out of there. We weighed anchor at sunrise and set off for Punta De Mita 50 miles to the South. Once again the sun was out and it was a beautiful Mexican day, but there was no wind so we motored the first ¾ of the way until a little northwesterly filled in and we were able to sail around the point at sunset and into the anchorage with Willow, Tara and Ocean Lady already there waiting for us.

Here's one Greg took of us coming into Punta de Mita:

Punta de Mita is the northern point of Bandares Bay with surfing on the outside and a decent anchorage on the inside. All the other boats have been down here since Thanksgiving waiting in vain for some good waves. The water is beautifully clear and it the morning I dove on my anchor and found that it snagged a huge rock with one of it's flukes and wouldn't hold in contrary winds, so up came the anchor and we motored around until we found a good sandy spot to drop it again. It's such a novelty to be able to see 20 feet down in the water and pick a good spot for the anchor. Of course I dove on the anchor again and had Rena back the boat down so that I could see what happened underwater when the anchor starts getting some pressure on it.

It was about this time that we heard that Bellingham had 18 inches of snow. Brrrrrr! John sent me pictures of my dad's boat with huge icicles hanging out of the scuppers and mounds of snow everywhere. This is my 5th winter on a boat and I actually miss sitting below in a warm cabin when the weather is raging outside, but I'm so acclimatized to 90 degree weather by now that I'm not sure how I'm going to handle the 70 degree weather when I head up into the Sea of Cortez next week.

The only problem in paradise is that my toilet broke and I haven't been able to fix it yet. We took the bus into Peurto Vallerta yesterday. Alexis and Rena took off for Tepic and I went off looking for Zaragozas marine store. Unfortunately it was inauguration day and everything was closed so I'm went back into PV today and was able to get a new pump assembly. So I'll try and get the head working again this evening. Tara and Willow both took off this morning and are heading for Centeral America. So I'll probably be taking off on my trip north to La Paz tomorrow or the day after.