Sunday, December 26, 2010

Frigates

Heading to shore in very shallow, clear waters

This morning we went ashore at Bahia San Gabriel to see if we could walk across to the other side of the island to check out Bahia Bonanza. But unfortunately, the sign on the beach said Bonanza was 8.6 km away and would take 4 hours to walk one way. As we couldn't spend 8 hours total, we only walked for about an hour to see the sights and then returned.

One lone red flower, but don't think the bush is dead - it's very alive!

On our way back to the boat we dinghied past a man-made breakwater, remnants of a long defunct Japanese cultured pearl venture. The only inhabitants visible now were a colony of frigate birds carrying on their mating ritual. We saw the males inflating their red gular pouch to attract a mate. They didn't seem too bothered to have us so near taking pictures, must have had other things on their minds?

Why are the males the attractive ones??

We pulled anchor and fished our way to La Paz catching a small mackerel then losing a brilliant green and blue 15-lb dorado (Mahi Mahi) after he put up a gallant fight. As soon as we entered La Paz harbour (N24°09.383' W110°19.731') at 18:00, Keetya I (sailors from Victoria BC), hailed us with a "Welcome Back".  Later we went for an evening meal with them, exchanging stories and tall tales.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

San Gabriel

We raised the anchor at 10:30 and sailed in a 12-knot breeze for about half way to our destination, after which we had to turn on the  motor til we reached Bahia San Gabriel (N24°25.717' W110°21.417') at 16:00. This is considered to be a day-time only anchorage, but as there were no winds in the forecast, we felt it was safe to stay overnight.


We walked the mile-long white sand beach with no one else around. After supper, with a brandy nightcap, we sat in the cockpit, looking towards the lights of La Paz in the far distance, our next destination. We were dreading the thought of leaving these quiet island solitudes of white sand beaches, and warm night air with the bright stars above.

Mamma Mia! The Coromuel winds kicked up the seas at 02:00 and rocked us from bow to stern. It was a restless night given that it was a lee shore and the lines creaked and clinked for attention. But the anchor was securely set and all was well.

Note: The Coromuel winds are a unique phenomenon to this area and blow south to southwest, thereby causing us a bow to stern rocking motion.

Friday, December 24, 2010

We can see again!

The wind was really blowing today at Isla San Francisco so we decided it was a good time to catch up on mundane boat chores (i.e. cleaning the interior). We also cleaned all the port and dodger windows with Strata Glass Cleaner and then polished all the windows with Strata Glass Polish. What a difference! Visibility is like brand new so if you don't already have some, we suggest stocking up before you head offshore. (And it even worked on our scratched up sunglasses!)

Most of the sailors gathered on shore around 16:30 for a get-together which was very well organized by SV Narama. One poor boater had no anchor or method of tying his large Boston Whaler (a hard-hull dinghy) to shore. The tide was coming in, so unfortunately he had to run or swim after his dinghy 3 times as it was quietly slipping away...but fortunately, at least he noticed it escaping!

A hearty group of boaters enjoying the evening

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Isla San Francisco

Still in San Evaristo (Mexico), we went ashore to explore. We bought a few groceries at a small store and were surprised to all the satellite dishes for TV at so many of the humble casas.

The blue circle in the background is a satellite dish for TV

There were a few goats running around and also this adorable but shy baby goat in a pen...


We left San Evaristo at 11:00 and sailed with north winds to Isla San Francisco (N24°49.282' W110°34.198'), only about 2.5 hours away. We took the dinghy ashore and hiked for an hour up a very large hill for a great photo opportunity. (Note the "comma" shaped hook at the tip of Isla San Francisco below.)

That's us second from the right

After a much quicker descent, we visited the salt harvesting ponds and collected some for our galley.


When night falls, we become zombie sailors if we're not back on our boat. As you can see from the picture, we've been caught late on land and our legs are growing to frightful heights in the setting sun...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

San Evaristo

As we motored back to Agua Verde from Puerto Escondido yesterday, Jordan worked on our recently acquired Evinrude outboard. As the impeller was damaged, he ingeniously decided to turn it upside down after which it seemed to work okay, at least until we get to La Paz where we can buy a new impeller. We went ashore, hiked up a trail, and then talked to a couple on a Canadian boat with their visiting family where we watched an AWESOME moon rise with a bright, brilliant orange colour!

View from top of hill with Sea Turtle on far left

Early this morning, we left Agua Verde to head for San Evaristo. Gap winds were blowing, at times up to 18-knots and then at times down to nothing, but for the most part we sailed with the help of SW winds on our beam. (Last year when my parents were visiting us in Victoria, we took them out sailing and heeled the boat with winds on the beam. My Mom hated it so she definitely would not have liked to have been with us this time with the wind on our beam!)

After 8 hours, we set anchor at San Evaristo (N24°54.818' W110°42.177'), alongside SV Verdia, a Canadian boat we had met previously.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

North or south?

When motoring south to Agua Verde from Puerto Escondido on Sunday, the engine was revving up, an indication of a foul fuel filter. So on Monday, Jordan changed the 2 filters and bled the lines, which turned into a 3-hour job. We then departed from the beautiful, turquoise green waters of Agua Verde at 11:15 to...continue heading south??

No. We headed all the way back to Puerto Escondido.

Why?? While changing the filters, we received a call over the VHF from a man with a dinghy outboard for "swap or trade" (in Mexico, gringos are not supposed to sell items as this takes much-needed business away from the locals).

So we returned to Puerto Escondido to hopefully get a replacement motor for our dinghy, arriving at 15:15. It's unusual to have south winds at this time of year but this was in our favour as it meant we could sail instead of motoring. After meeting up with Mike of sailing vessel Joan D III, we discovered that the motor needed a couple of parts so we struck a deal for "as-is".

We watched the total lunar eclipse (when the earth is directly between the sun and moon) from our boat. Or should I say we kept peeking out at it as it took about 2 hours before the moon was covered. I thought the moon looked much more 3-D or rounder when it was in total shadow. It looked very pretty with a soft, hazy, orange glow behind it. Another total lunar eclipse will not occur again on the same day as the winter solstice in our lifetime. But of course there will be many other lunar eclipses.

This morning at 11:30 we left Puerto Escondido...once again...to head back to Aqua Verde...once again.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Agua Verde

We left Puerto Escondido, but a few minutes later, we had to turn around and go back. We had stayed 1 more night than what we had initially paid for so of course we returned to pay for the additional stay. At 14:15, we were on our way to Bahia Agua Verde.

The south wind was only 0 to 5 knots so we motored. During our passage, we went by the Mano de Dios (Hand of God) that marks the entrance to Hand of God Cove. The Hand of God is a rock cliff facing the ocean and the natural sculpture of the rock looks like a 21-metre-high hand (~N25°42.6' W111°12.85').

Looks just like a hand

We enjoyed a colourful sunset with the moon already visible...


...and shortly thereafter dropped the hook at 18:45 at Agua Verde (N25°31.333' W111°04.407') in the dark, something that we always try to avoid, but at least there was almost a full moon shining down and we had been in this same anchorage on our way up the Sea of Cortez in April so we were familiar with it.

We fell asleep to the sound of the waves gently lapping at the shore.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Puerto Escondido

We left behind beautiful Islas Coronados at 09:30. Motor-sailed most of the time, saw a lot of red tide, and at 14:15 on Thursday, December 16th we set anchor amongst all the mooring buoys at Puerto Escondido (N25°49.161' W111°18.761'), a nearly land-locked bay.

Puerto Escondido is about 185 km northwest of La Paz and 210 km south of San Carlos, so we are just over half way back to La Paz where we will do last-minute fix-ups and provisioning before crossing from the Baja back to Mainland Mexico to continue our journey south.

Early Friday morning, Jordan went fishing and caught 2 Sierras, 1 being the largest Sierra he has ever caught. What a great provider he is - enough to keep us eating for a week!

Senora, fish for you?

Checked in with the morning radio net at 08:15 and asked if anyone was driving to nearby Loreto. Dave with SV Moxie volunteered to take us so off we went. We walked down a funky street with merchants on both sides and arched trees overhead...


I checked out a classy hotel renovated in an old colonial building that Jordan had seen on a previous holiday. This picture was taken with me standing in the hotel looking up at the bottom of the swimming pool on the floor above me.


Then we had lunch at Mexico Lindo and went shopping at Conchita's Curios, a quirky store that reminded us of Chintz & Co. back in Victoria BC. Jordan bought me a beautiful sundress, necklace, and scarf at Conchita's which I wore later to the potluck at the Marina in Puerto Escondido.

Later in the evening, we had a fun visit with our friends hosted on board SV Nautilus, probably our last as we will be leaving them all behind tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Islas Coronados

As we were alone in the bay yesterday, I had a solar shower and then lazed in the sun in the cockpit - what a beautiful day it was. Jordan worked some more on the borrowed 2-HP outboard trying to get it to run and was finally successful at noon!

We left San Juanico at 13:30 under hot sunny skies with both of us wearing our bathing suits. The seas were exceptionally calm so we motored all the way to Islas Coronados (N26°06.695' W111°17.015'), a volcanic island.

We dropped anchor at 17:00 and from that moment we could see we were in a picture perfect setting. Our anchor was clearly visible through the emerald green water over 9 m below with rays cruising the sandy bottom and fish were already about the boat. This is a national marine park that nobody should miss if in the area. We took our dinghy ashore for the easiest landing to date...just stepped out right onto the white sandy beach. There, with the other cruisers, we had appys under park thatched roof cabanas then watched the sun set over our flotilla. What a way to end a perfect day!

Is it sugar or is is sand? (photo courtesy of SV Salish Sea)

Today we went for a lengthy hike to check out the island after the guys got back from fishing (Jordan caught his 1st Trigger fish which was very tasty!) We saw a wide variety of desert vegetation that changed from one type to another as you walked along. At one point the path ended and we found ourselves traipsing over rocks with no end in sight so we turned around and returned the way that we came.

View from up top away from beach

It will be tough to leave this Caribbean-like island tomorrow, but time to move on.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

San Juanico

We departed Domingo Point of Mexico bright and early yesterday at 06:30 and motored around the Point heading south in very light winds and calm seas. We put the spinnaker up mid-morning until around noonish when the winds started to gust at 20 knots - much too strong for our spinnaker sail - so we switched to 2 smaller sails and sailed "wing-on-wing".

Flying our bright spinnaker under sunny skies

Jordan caught a 10-pound Black Skipjack but released it as unfortunately we do not think they taste very good - but it sure put up a fight!

We crossed our April 5th path as we came into San Juanico (N26°22.041' W111°25.918') and set anchor. Dinghied ashore to meet up with fellow sailors from Moonraker, Salish Sea, Southern Cross, and Whirlwind on the beach for a nightcap, storytelling, and a bonfire.

Today I went to shore with Diane and Megan to walk to the next beach. The guys joined us later, but as Jordan was heading in, he ran over some rocks in the shallow water with the outboard and stripped gears in the bottom end. As he was unable to fix it, we borrowed a small 2-HP outboard from Salish Sea and will either buy another outboard when we get to La Paz or see if the Mercury dealer there has any luck fixing ours - crossing fingers and toes!

We made a new tree hanging for the "Sailor's Tree" and strung it up (last year, we hung a temporary shell that we wrote our boat name on). This time, Jordan hammered our boat name, our names, and the date on our old stainless steel tea kettle which should last for a long time. The tree is covered in many different items such as shells, scrub brushes, shoes...anything you can think of...and also has many engraved/carved rocks, driftwood, etc. beneath it. One piece of wood is dated as far back as 1987!

The Sailor's Tree

Friday, December 10, 2010

Domingo Point

We haven't turned on the watermaker since pickling it when we left to crew to the South Pacific last April. So this morning Jordan turned it on only to discover several leaking hoses and clamp fittings after sitting unused in the heat for so long. He remedied the problem and we're back to making our own water now.

He then dove to scrape barnacles off the prop and grounding plate so we would have a little more speed moving through the water, and then at 13:30, we motored from Caleta Santispac (Mexico) for 2 hours in light NW winds to Domingo Point (N26°52.069' W111°50.807') to stage a departure for an all-day trip tomorrow to San Juanico. (Domingo Point is at the tip of the beautiful Bahia Concepción where we did not have enough time to explore more of the many bays.)

We got skunked trying to fish for dinner so we resorted to asking some fishermen in their beach shacks for some pescados (fish). But the only thing they had were some dogtype of pescado - not the best tasting - so we declined.

Fishermen's beach shacks

Thursday, December 09, 2010

A first for me

Today we did something that I have never done before in my life. We hitchhiked! Apparently this is something that most of the sailors here do to get to the nearby town of Mulegé. We only had to wait a few minutes when we were picked up by gringo Doug who drove us past his own destination so he could show us the Misión de Santa Rosalia de Mulegé that was completed way back in 1766 and is located by an oasis of beautiful palm trees.

Front view of the Mission of Santa Rosalia de Mulegé

After viewing the Mission, he dropped us off at the entrance to Mulegé and off we went to explore. We heard about a prison here that operated on an honour system (the prison is now a museum). The prisoners were let out during the day to work or spend time with their families but were expected to return back to the prison to spend the night, which they always did - no one ever took off. Amazing.

Former "honour" system prison at top of the hill

When it was time to return back to the boat, rather than pay the high taxi fare, we decided to once again hitchhike. The first mile was in the back of a pickup and the rest of the trip was with a Mexican businessman who gave us a ride all the way back to Santispac.

It was a very different day today and the night was exceptionally dark, no moon was visible. The stars were brilliant, like sparkling diamonds.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Bahia Concepción

Our next destination was Bahia Concepción, the largest sheltered bay (35 km) on the east coast of Baja California. With the wind at our back, this voyage brought to mind a passage I had just read from a book called "A Life on the Edge - Memoirs of Everest and Beyond" by Jim Whittaker which was given to us to read by our friend Stan of SV Impossible:
"...the sails up to harness every bit of energy the wind offers, you ghost along, surrounded by quiet, the ocean whispering along the waterline. In such conditions, you imagine yourself a great white bird and the sea a great blue sky."
I am sure many of you are familiar with Jim Whittaker as a mountain climber and the 1st American to climb Mount Everest, but did you also know Jim was a sailor? And that his sailboat Impossible now belongs to Stan in Victoria BC, a member of Bluewater Cruising Association.

After 4 hours, we set anchor at Caleta Santispac in Bahia Coyote (N26°45.817' W111°53.128'), a very pleasant sail that we will remember for a long time...

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Punta Chivato

We pulled anchor from Santa Rosalia at 10:00 - southward bound to nearby Punto Chivato which is about 23 nautical miles away. We were running with a moderate wind for 2 to 3 hours which turned into a very brisk wind with seas on the port rear quarter. While paralleling a reef approximately 25 m away, Jordan saw a large shark cruising the edge of the reef. He estimated the length from dorsal fin to tail to be about 3 m.

We rounded Punto Chivato (N27°03.928' W111°57.760') and anchored. However, the land is low lying so it didn't provide much dampening of the NW wind but at least there wasn't much room for the seas to build.

Early the next morning, we took the dinghy ashore to scout out all the shells as here is said to be an extraordinary shelling beach. And so it is! Shells cover the beach, layers upon layers of them - was quite a sight to see!

Millions of shells along beach

There was this adorable Border Collie dog that just wanted to play. I am sure he was impatiently saying:
"Come on man, get up, throw the stick again, come on, let's go..."
(if you look closely, the stick is laying beside Jordan and every now and again, the dog would get up and move it a little closer). And yes, Jordan did continue throwing the stick until it was time for us to leave...


Ah, what a beautiful day.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Santa Rosalia

On Friday, we wanted to leave the Guaymas wharf, calibrate the auto pilot, and anchor in front of the wharf for the night before sailing to Santa Rosalia on the Baja side of the Sea of Cortez. But as we headed out to anchor, the tide was unusually low and when we cut our lines loose from the dock, Sea Turtle didn't budge. The boat probably said:
"No, you shouldn't be leaving on a Friday."
(FYI: Superstitions consider it bad luck for sailors to leave the dock on a Friday for a long voyage or a deep sea excursion.)

Then we coaxed her out when the tide gave us a few inches but she wasn't done being stubborn - 90 m off the wharf she sat on a mudbar. Again, we waited for the tide and when we drifted off, we found some depth and anchored for the night.

We used the next day for sea trials to set up and get familiar with the new auto pilot. But it wasn't going well all day (bleeding the hydraulic lines at sea, adjusting the instruments, etc.) and by mid afternoon without having sufficient progress on dialling it in, we decided to head back to Guaymas harbour before dark. However on the way in, tinkering with the auto pilot controls, Jordan seemed to get it working. So we turned around and headed out to sea around 17:30 for an 85 nautical mile overnight crossing.

The wind was just off our nose and after motoring a short time in light winds, Jordan decided to put the mainsail up to help. At that point, the wind was starting to get a little brisk so he put a double reef in the main which turned out to be a good move as the winds got pretty strong throughout the night. As we pulled into Santa Rosalia harbour at 09:00, the sea winds were neutralized by the usual morning offshore flow.

Santa Rosalia (N27°20.401' W112°15.925') is yet another cute little town. We stayed Sunday night, the first of two nights, at the Marina Santa Rosalia so the salt could be hosed off the boat decks and sails. This marina is located in a historic wooden building which sells beer and pop from its fridge on the "honour system". If you want one, you take one, and write your name down on the paper. When you check out, you settle up. The staff is very easy-going, friendly, and not worried about the usual rules.

Jordan behind "bars" of Marina Santa Rosalia

During our stay, we wandered the town and went to see what is known as "Eiffel's Church" as it was designed by the same man as the Eiffel Tower in Paris. This church was built of pre-fabricated metal for the 1889 Paris Exposition, complete with stained glass windows too! After being moved to Brussels, it was once again dismantled and then re-assembled in Santa Rosalia in 1895 by its new French owners.

Iglesia Santa Barbara (Eiffel Church)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

All major jobs done

We've been busy with a lot of boat jobs. I have the brightwork completed now and it should be good for a few more years again. I know that a lot of people just let the wood fade and go natural grey but we still prefer the honey gold finished appearance of freshly applied Cetol. A bit of work every few years is worth it for us...I think, so far anyways. Jordan finished it off by sikoflexing the brightwork and windows to make them waterproof once again.

Just like new

Jordan has installed and wired up the various components of our new W-H (Wil Hamm) Auto Pilot. This would have been a much easier job if it could have been done when Jordan totally re-wired the entire boat in 2009 as everything would have been accessible.

Contents had to be removed from several galley cupboards, from beneath the stateroom bed, and from beneath and behind the salon settee. And unfortunately panels had to be removed from the salon ceiling as that is where a lot of the wiring is hidden. Tools were spread all over everywhere!

All this so that wires could be run from the salon to the stateroom, galley, engine compartment, and up the binnacle in the cockpit, without being visible. Then of course everything had to be put back in place. With all that now done, Jordan just needs to calibrate the auto pilot.

While the ceiling panels were down, Jordan also bolted the granny bars to the deck. They had previously been only screwed down and were threatening to become loose. Nice, tight, and secure now. He also added a wooden bar to them to hang lines and such from which will be very handy.

Gale force winds have been blowing in the Sea of Cortez so we are waiting for a weather window before heading over to Santa Rosalia on the Baja side. Predictions are looking good for Thursday the 2nd of December, so hopefully we can get away from the docks by then! We've been here almost 2 months now - time sure flies by fast.

Guaymas Singlar Marina

Monday, November 22, 2010

Local area attractions

We visited the Guaymas Pearl Farm (Perlas del Mar de Cortez) which included a fascinating lecture and tour of the farm. Their pearls are NOT processed by bleaching, burning, polishing, or lacquering as is the custom with most cultured pearls. These oysters produce a pearl which is not available anywhere else in the world that glows "red" (light pink to blood red) under a black light, making this a unique feature with this indigenous pearl oyster. www.perlas.com.mx

Different sizes of nets that oysters are placed in during their 4-year growth

On Thursday, I listened to a biologist talking about the diversity of flora, fauna, fish, and sea turtles of Mexican waters in the Sea of Cortez, where even sperm whales have been spotted and photographed. Mexico has 5 of the 7 species of sea turtles. It was quite an absorbing subject. Upwelling (the raising of benthic nutrients to the surface waters) occurs in Mexico where the flow of water brings currents of differing temperatures together, and increases the productivity of the ecosystem. Mexico is very concerned about preserving this productivity. We are looking forward to receiving a link that the biologist will be emailing to us showing their tracking of tagged sea turtles.

Every Wednesday and Sunday there are flea markets held. The Wednesday market is located near downtown Guaymas. On Sunday, it is located in Empalme, a small town about a 20-minute bus ride away. This market is a lot larger than the one held on Wednesdays.

Both markets have everything that you could possibly think of, including produce and meats, and many items are very reasonably priced. A bowling ball was even spotted! We bought several items of clothing, including a new expensive shirt for only 35 pesos. I lucked out finally finding a skirt that I had been looking for, along with 2 pairs of capris and a pair of shorts for 10 pesos each (about $1.00 ea). Ahoy, bargains galore.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Finished Grizzly

Sea Turtle is all painted at last! We put the Grizzly Grip anti-skid on yesterday with their special texturized rollers and a must-have metal paint tray (the paint "accelerator" will melt right through plastic). Can't buy metal trays in Mexico so we just used a metal cake pan! We chose the Almond colour which is an "aliphatic" paint and has a UV protection built right into it. Some of the other colours are "aromatic" and need to have the UV protection added. The aliphatics are made for outdoor use and should not fade or yellow as the aromatics do. (www.grizzlygrip.com)

We couldn't start until 3:00 as you cannot apply in direct sunlight. The 1st coat took 75 minutes and was dry to the touch by 5:00. So then we started the 2nd coat which has to be applied within 1 to 3 hours. This was a little difficult as you cannot walk on the 1st coat, which covers most of the boat deck. This meant standing on the toe rail (yikes!) or stepping over from 1 point to another that was not actual "boat deck" (ie. hatches, etc.)

And to make it more difficult, the blue tape needed to start being removed after about 15 minutes of starting to paint the 2nd coat. So as Jordan was painting, I was gingerly removing the tape without wrecking the paint job or getting paint from the tape onto other areas of the boat, but of course getting lots of paint on my fingers - which does not come off completely. Jordan removed the tape from the stern as that took a lot of athletic monkeying around! We did not finish until 21:00 - good thing we have bright deck lights! We applied the paint fairly quickly but removing the tape was a much slower procedure.

Foredeck with anti-slip Grizzly Grip applied

Close-up of rubberized texture (won't hurt your feet when you walk on it)

During application of the Grizzly Grip, Jordan accidentally stepped onto the wet paint a few times and I stepped into the wet cockpit once. And now that it is all applied, we cannot walk on it for 72 hours until it is fully cured. But at least if we accidentally step onto it, the paint won't be wet and we can just quickly step off it before doing any damage.

Was it worth 3 weeks of prep and athletic paint application? You bet! We think it improves Sea Turtle's appearance 100% and, as yet to be proven by us, it should last for many, many years.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

And the paint goes on

We walk to town a lot and have noticed something different in Guaymas (Mexico). At some street corners, the lights for ALL vehicles will turn red while at the same time, the lights for ALL pedestrians will turn to the "walk" signal. This means that pedestrians can walk straight across the street, as normal, or they can walk diagonally from 1 corner to the opposite, as no vehicles are allowed to move! This is pretty cool - I think Victoria BC should give this a try!

We have been going to the marina swimming pool to cool down after working in the hot sun. It probably looks like Jordan is floating on top of water, but he is actually sitting in a couple of inches of water on a "shelf" area right next to the dropoff. So very refreshing, even if the pool is only 3 feet deep!

Jordan sitting next to pool dropoff

Our friends, SV Salish Sea, arrived on October 29th with our 4 new batteries! Jordan spent the day removing the old batteries, installing the new ones, and making new hold-downs for them as they are a different size than the old ones. These are 200+ amp hour 6V golf cart batteries rather than 12V. A much better storage of power.

We organized a potluck and had a great turnout with 35 people. We met 3 different couples who are serious circumnavigators. The Marina is starting to get a lot busier as more and more boaters are arriving to get their boats back into the water. We were almost the only ones around back at the beginning of October when it was excessively hot and humid!

After all the prepping, the 1st coat of Interlux Hatteras Off-White polyurethane paint finally went on the aft deck November 2nd. Followed by painting the 1st coat of the fore deck, sanding of 1st coat on fore and aft decks, and then applying all of the 2nd coat. Here is the finished product before applying special paint to the anti-skid areas.

So shiny!

Before applying the anti-skid, the decks had to be masked off with tape - check out those perfectly rounded corners!

Perfectly rounded corners and circles taped off, ready for anti-skid paint

Tomorrow will be the application of the anti-skid paint which is a marine "truck bed-liner" paint called Grizzly Grip.

The temperature has definitely cooled down here lately. Instead of in the 30's, it's now in the 20's and cool in the evenings. I think it's time to head south where it's warmer...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Update

On October 13th, Sea Turtle was finally put back into the water where she belongs, and of course, water came into the bilge (maybe we should have waited until the 14th!) But this is normal after being on the hard for so long, just had to wait a few days till the stuffing box expanded so water wouldn't leak in. Got everything put away and at last she is now back to normal.

When we first got back to Sea Turtle when she was on the hard, Jordan noticed a black widow spider, with a full egg sack, crawling across the hull. He very quickly got rid of it, but I won't say how! Then as we were working on the boat and it was still so very hot out, we left the windows open at night so the boat would cool off a bit as we went back to the motel. But one morning, we discovered a mass of bees that had decided to make the inside of Sea Turtle their new home. Jordan was able to scare them all off, but after that, all windows were closed at night until we moved aboard!

As there was little wind, we motored to Guaymas Singlar Marina from San Carlos on October 17th, a short 3 to 4 hour trip. We were expecting a smooth ride so I did not take any Stugeron to prevent seasickness. So of course, we found ourselves riding large waves, and as I had not been on a boat for several months, I started to feel nauseous. Wouldn't you know it - after sailing all the way from Victoria to San Carlos over the last year and never actually being sick - NOW it happens! Guess I'd better take my Stugeron from now on till I'm used to being on the water again.

Jordan has been working his butt off getting the decks all ready to paint. He wants no help (including mine!) even though it's a much bigger job than expected, but he wants to make sure it's done right so it lasts for years to come.

The job consists of scraping off all the non-skid, sanding and grinding, filling all the cracks with epoxy or putty, sanding again, applying primer, sanding again, and then finally painting. Expect to be ready to start painting in about 10 days, which I can help with. In the meantime, I've been sanding and prepping all the "brightwork" - getting the teak ready for a few coats of Cetol.

Areas filled with putty and then sanded

Areas painted with gray coloured primer

We had some company from Canada, our buds Bruce and Jeannie and their daughter Natalie. They are in San Carlos for about 3 weeks as their boat, SV Jabula, is on the hard there. Went for a delicious bite and ice cold drink at Pancho Villas, within walking distance of Guaymas Singlar Marina. Very popular place for gringos.

We've used all of the stored water in our tanks and can't make any till we head out to sea again. The marina sent down the guys that sell the 5-gallon jugs so we decided to fill up as it was so cheap - 11 pesos for each 5-gallon jug which is about $1.00 Canadian each! We'll just use the purchased water for drinking and cooking and the local hose water for cleaning, dishes, etc.

While filling, we discovered that Sea Turtle has a larger water capacity than we thought. We were under the impression that she holds 100 gallons but we ended up purchasing a total of 29 jugs = 145 gallons! We have enough water now until we head out to sea where we can start making our own with our watermaker.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bad news, and good

Our motorcycle trip to visit Copper Canyon was over and we arrived at San Carlos and Sea Turtle on Sunday, October 3rd - feeling so good to be "home" once again. Aaron and Dee left Monday to go back to work - I know, someone has to do it! It's very very hot and very very humid here. Now we know why Mexicans take a siesta. After about a week, the heat and humidity lifted making it much more bearable.

We finally got the opportunity to do an inside thorough check on Sea Turtle. Bad news. And good news. When we climbed up the ladder, we noticed that the door hatch was open about 4 inches. How could that be?? We would have never left her open! But when we entered, everything seemed okay. Nothing was missing (security is super at Marina Seca San Carlos) and nothing was damaged or wet, etc. from weather. After a few hours of work, Jordan decided to check out the bilge and discovered a few inches of water. But from where? And why don't we have any battery power and the solar boost is not working?

After much contemplation and checking out everything, we decided that somehow the latch must not have caught on the hatch door when we left Sea Turtle in such a hurry several months ago. Over time, the tarp wore through and rain must have leaked into the bilge (fortunately, no water damage was done to any surface areas). As the bilge was filling with rainwater, the bilge pump came on (the thru hull for such was shut) and ran continuously, draining the batteries. Once the drained batteries were re-charged, the solar boost came on. Yeah! Jordan has ordered new batteries as the old batteries cannot hold a charge anymore.

As Jordan was pumping out the bilge, he discovered that the water was soapy. Now what? Apparently, the excessive summer heat had caused a liquid Tide container to burst a hole and drain into the bilge along with the rainwater.

Bilge with soapy rainwater

So - no bugs, no cockroaches, no rats, no mice, no hurricanes, no major problems. All in all, Sea Turtle fared pretty well during the sweltering summer.

I think Sea Turtle needs a facelift!

Quick summary of some of the jobs completed so far:  soapy water pumped out of the bilge, batteries recharged, diesel leak fixed, stuck fishing line removed from prop shaft, dodger re-attached, things put back into their respective places, grocery inventory completed for re-provisioning, lower hull scraped and sanded, upper hull polished, toe rail scraped - getting ready for Cetol (a type of "varnish")...

We ordered our usual burgundy red bottom paint. When Jordan went to pick it up, he was told that our colour was not available and black paint would be in the next day. When Jordan went to pick it up, the burgundy red had arrived instead!! So today, we applied 2 coats of bottom paint and tomorrow morning at 09:00, Sea Turtle returns to the water!

Looking much better!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Basaseachi

It was time to head back up the Copper Canyon towards Creel once again, where we had read about Cascada Cusarare - a waterfall that we wanted to see. The trip heading up from Batopilas seemed easier than heading down to the town. The 30 m waterfall (N27°37.18' W107°34.26') was very close to Creel and was quite spectacular after a short hike in. It seemed to have an always-present rainbow in front of it...

30 m Cascada Cusarare

Next, onto Basaseachi Chihuahua (N27°01.329' W107°44.230') where the highest full-time waterfall in Mexico is located. The locals describe Basaseachi as a "work town". In our opinion, this town is definitely not a tourist destination and you don't want to stay overnight here as the hotels leave a lot to be desire. But the next morning, we checked out our reason for coming here - the extraordinary waterfall which seemed to make it all worthwhile...

246 m Cascada de Basaseachi

As we left the high plateaus, we had a fun, winding, descending paved road pretty much all the way back to Obregón where a nice hotel and refreshing swimming pool was awaiting us once again to briefly escape from the sweltering heat and humidity.

We experienced extreme differences in altitudes on this trip with Creel at 2,338 m and Batopilas at only 495 m, and where temperatures would range from over 35°C to a mild 15°C. And as mentioned previously, extreme differences in road surfaces were travelled ranging from dreadfully poor to excellent. Definitely 1 of our top 10 trips!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

To the bottom of Copper Canyon

Jordan and I and his son Aaron and gal Dee left Creel on a paved road, which unfortunately soon ended, heading for Batopilas (140 km south of Creel) at the bottom of the immense Copper Canyon (Mexico). This historic hidden town was once the site of the world's richest silver mine.

Just outside of Creel on our motorcycles, we went looking for caves that we had been told about. When we arrived in the area, the locals pointed so we headed in that direction. We were on terrible, very narrow roads and at one point had to ride down the middle of a river as the path/road was too narrow to ride on. Aaron and Dee eventually crossed over the river but couldn't make it up the other side and ended up wet and muddy! At this point, we gave up looking for the caves and continued on to Batopilas.

The route was rugged with switchback roads through a maze of pine-clad mountains. We experienced a wide variety of road types and passed the occasional construction crew with 12-year old boys working! Heading downhill made it difficult to control steering on such poor roads, much of the time travelling along sheer cliffs.

Switchback road to Batopilas

Check out on Google Earth the most severe switchback road that we ever travelled on at N27°07.507' W107°34.064'!

We dumped our motorcycle in the ditch and then the bike fell over again with the handlebars pointing down into the ditch. Real hard to get back up by ourselves as Aaron and Dee were riding a bit ahead of us, but I am sure my huge muscles must have been a big help to Jordan!

After a 4-hour trip, we finally arrived at Batopilas (N27°01.329' W107°44.230') and talked to another motorcyclist - the first we had seen on our trip! He was from Ireland and on a 17-month journey travelling all of North and South America. He said that when it comes to "gnarly" roads, he's been on many, even the Road of Death in Bolivia, but none of them compared to this last stretch.

We stayed 2 nights at Juanita's Hotel for an extra day of rest from riding. The heat during the day was unbearable and almost all shops were closed till around 17:00. A small breeze started to blow then, making it a bit more comfortable.

Batopilas, the town that time forgot, was connected to the rest of the world by road only 10 years ago. Prior to this, the town and mine was accessed and supplied on the backs of donkeys and mules. We really enjoyed the locals here and this unusual town. Add it to your list of places to see...if you dare!

Colourful buildings in town square

More photos of Batopilas in Photo Gallery (click on Copper Canyon Trip in the Photo Gallery).

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Train to Creel?

Getting closer to our destination of Copper Canyon Mexico...we made small repairs to the bikes in the morning and left Chinipas around 10:30 to head for Temoris (N27°16.284' W108°16.329'). When we arrived, we watched the on-going rodeo as we ate lunch. We had been told that we could catch the train to Creel from here; we were all feeling the need for a break.

But of course upon arriving in Temoris, we were then told that we could travel as passengers on one train but the motorcycles would have to travel as freight on another train. As we were not willing to send the bikes without supervision, apprehensively we decided to continue by bike to Creel. Well the roads started to improve and part way there, we finally came upon a PAVED road!!! Who would have ever thought that we would be this happy to finally see a paved road...

A big kiss for smooth pavement!

Soon we came to Divisadero in Chihuahua (N27°32.042' W107°49.223'), a train stop on the rim of Copper Canyon and a short distance from Creel. Here, the indigenous Raramuri dress in brightly coloured apparel selling their exquisite hand-woven baskets set up around the area. Divisadero has one of the best panoramic views of the Canyon at an elevation of 2,230 m above sea level with a view of over 100 miles.

Copper Canyon is composed of 20 canyons that in total are 4 times larger than the Grand Canyon, and in some areas, deeper. We found out later that within a week a new tram is to open that takes visitors to the bottom of Copper Canyon.

We continued on to Creel (N27°45.037' W107°38.034') where we were encouraged by different hotel owners to stay at each of their hotels - the town seemed to be presently hurting for business. There was an English speaking tour guide in town who provided us with a lot of info. After good food and a restful sleep, we left with clean laundry and smiling faces.

Indigenous Raramuri in Creel

Monday, September 27, 2010

Where is Chinipas?

I digress. When planning the Copper Canyon motorcycle trip, Jordan would go on Google Earth and get excited about the serpentine roads he saw indicating adventurous mountainous travel - be careful what you wish for!

From Álamos, we headed back to Los Tanques where we were instructed to go to Milpillas and then to Chinipas. Upon arriving at Milpillas (N27°12.500' W108°36.030'), we were then instructed that we had to return to Los Tanques and go a different direction to Chinicas (not Milpillas) and then to Chinipas.

We came upon a donkey on the side of the road where we had stopped for a brief rest. He seemed to be a bit friendly, not like on our previous motorcycle trip where you could not get close to the donkeys. So being Jordan, he decided to see if he could sit on him, and...


...success, the donkey did not seem to mind at all!

On the way, it started to rain which of course made the roads slippery. We came to another water crossing and had to swerve to avoid a large deep pothole. The bike slipped once again and Jordan's foot went into deep water, soaking it completely.

Jordan wringing out his slopping wet sock

We followed a truck part way but needed a break for snacks as we had not eaten since early morning (carry snacks - restaurants are in short supply!) We seemed to be doing okay but couldn't find Chinipas. We decided to turn around and then found the "sign" - Chinipas was carved into a rock on the side of the road! "Road" is an overstatement. These roads were narrow, axle busting, extremely steep at times, and switchbacked with sheer drop-offs. Hey, but the scenery was starting to get spectacular.

Through the heavy rain and clouds, we spotted Chinipas (N27°23.313' W108°31.599') in the valley far below - but first we had to cross a deep fast-moving river. Where was the bridge? Two young lads were playing in the river and pointed that a bridge was "up and around, just follow the road". Oh no! Each slick muddy road (Aaron and Dee dumped a couple of times!) had numerous turn-offs. After several attempts, Jordan finally found the bridge.

Several boys on a quad led us to a motel just at dusk. We were beat and slopping wet and the bikes caked in mud. After cleaning up and drying off, we hit the restaurant where we were finally able to have a meal instead of just snacks. There had been no restaurants between Álamos and Chinipas along the route that we took.

So far, 5 motorcycle spills for us, 4 for Aaron and Dee - these mountain roads are a real mishmash of surface types.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Adventurous day

Today was a very adventurous day as Jordan and I and his son Aaron and gal Dee continued towards the Copper Canyon in Mexico. We left the bustling metropolis of Obregón Mexico heading inland on a somewhat direct but less travelled route to the Copper Canyon (rural would be an understatement).

That day we hit roads that were hard-packed dirt, sandy, loose gravel, muddy, white-knuckle, and even a section of hand-laid cobblestones which was very beautiful but hard to control motorcycles on. I experienced my first ever spill. We came upon a concrete river crossing (one of many that we would cross) that was overflowing with a few inches of fast-moving river water. As we proceeded across, the slick algae surface caused the bike tires to slip out from under it. Before we knew it, we were sliding through the water.

Getting up after slipping - all wet - but saved the camera!

Very minor spill but we were both wet and Jordan pulled a muscle. A few hours later, Aaron and Dee slipped on a duplicate crossing and were then wet too!

The map indicated we were heading towards Quiriego and San Bernardo, also in Sonora. Needless to say, there was a great shortage of signs and the road was several hours longer than indicated. We appeared to be lost but the guys always figured it out with somewhat different directions from different locals in small villages. When we finally found San Bernardo (N27°24.078' W108°50.441'), we purchased some snacks as we had not come across any restaurants.

Buying gasoline was always difficult to find - once we were simply instructed to go to Rafael's house (no signs of course) where the motorcycles were filled from small plastic jugs along with great conversation. The next time, the gas pump was hidden inside a small white building!

Buying gas at Rafael's house

Throughout the day, we travelled through exceptionally lush green valleys where butterflies were everywhere and several mountain areas were covered with golden flowers.

The heat was stifling so we stopped for a breather in the shade at Tanques La Higuera (Los Tanques) (N27°12.409' W108°53.370') where Aaron discovered that his pelican bag rack (luggage rack) was falling off from all the shaking on rough roads and needed to be re-welded. The shop was closed and we had to roust the owner from his Sunday dinner to get the job done. While the guys were getting the welding done, Dee and I were entertained by the jovial locals who were enjoying a beer where we sat outside by a store.

Kindly man welding Aaron's motorcycle rack at Los Tanques

As it was getting close to sundown, it was suggested that we backtrack 26 km to Alamos (N27°01.397' W108°56.229'), where hotels were available. We didn't cover much distance but we ended up in this town that was not on our route but was a real joy to find. A very quaint, old colonial-type of town with fabulous architecture and a busy town square.

Alamos - a great find