Saturday, January 24, 2009

Barb and Randy arrrive!

Here we are, downtown La Paz on an evening stroll! And yet another sunset from the boat at anchor in a cove, looking over the dinghy on the davit...

Hello - and, wow - January is flying by!

Bill's new plane (just kidding -it's a little harbor tour plane).
Linda's newest Palapa hat (thanks for the idea, Ana!).

Last week we had to bite the old bullet and shop for a new computer. The old one had old power, no storage and just was wearing out. We spent a day between 4-5 stores (Office Max, Home Depot, City Club, Soriano's and the Dorian's department store) checking options. We ended up with a machine with a lot of power but, it turns out, only spoke spanish. Not to worry, we are learning spanish......... seriously, we did spend a week with spanish and the keyboard is still spanish but we were able to change the key programs over....all is good and fast. The only problem is the wifi connection at the marina.

Prepping for on board guests is interesting! With very little spare space and the v-berth used for storage, finding a place for bags, boxes, art supplies, brief cases, etc is interesting. So the obvious storage place to move things prior guests on board is the master head cabin bathtub! Still unable to move everything out (heavier spare sails, food bins, bosun's chair and snorkel gear), we did leave a space for upcoming company to at least set their bags and change clothes - and stow their bedding during the day. And the guest head has a new faucet and is clean!

Barb and Randy Arrive!!

Here we are eating again, dinner at Buffalo BBQ!

1/18/2009 SUNDAY: We have had the pleasure of a great week with old friends, Well, not OLD friends, old FRIENDS! Barb and Randy arrived from Texas on January 18th for a few days of La Paz fun, sun and sailing. We borrowed car from Ana and Steve (thanks, guys!) and made a fun airport run. After check in at the hotel and a brief boat tour, we headed back to the city center and returned the car. We walked to Rancho Viejo for some wonderful arracharra, the BBQ beef we have grown to love so well. Walking further down the malecon after dinner, we caught a cab and returned to the marina and the hotel and headed to bed. A long day for all.

Here's Randy making a wish on a magic seashell, and walking the favorite mermaid statue!

1/19/2009 MONDAY: Happy Birthday, Lon! Yes I did remember!! We breakfasted at the Dinghy Dock on our dock, shuttled to town and walked a bit, finding thr Ibarra pottery factory and then ther grocery store (the cow store) for last-minute fresh provisions for the short sailing trip. Back to stow provisions and shower, we taxied to meet a group at La Fonda for some wonderful (and cheap) real Mexican food. Yum. I had the special enchiladas and Bill had his favorite garlic grilled fish...which tends to hang on for a few days. Once again, knew I should have ordered it, too! Then of course, we made the trek to the famous polka dot tree for ice cream. First time I had, I did get sick...but it's been 6 weeks, so decided to try the pistachio. Again, yum. None for Bill. Then a walk back down the malecon.

1/20/2009 TUESDAY: Ok, no more ice cream. Got sick again. Must be the butter fat? But after a rest, we dicided I was OK to go to sea. So we packed ourselves up, stowed the things that fall off shelves and gathered Barb and Randy and backed out of the slip to head north to somewhere. Passing Rocas Lobos ansd Bahia Balandra, we crossed the channel north of La Paz to the island of Espiritu Santo. Of course, not much wind and we had to motor the entire few days we were out. But did set the sails a few times just for "show". Many fish and birds crossed our path but no big sea monsters, or even dolphins, rays or whales. Just birds...many Friagtes, we finally figured out. (They looks like prehistoric pterydactyls' to me). We anchored in Bahia San Gabriel, a very nice bay on the southwest corner of ES. It was slightly roly throughout the night but we did fine. Bill BBQ'd checkin in foil for dinner and we ate in the cockpit. The only other boat at anchorage was a power boat and it appeared the lady of the ship was swimming aft, naked. Isn't that why we have binoculors? Too funny. I believe Randy and Barb tossed and turned a bit, sleeping in the salon - but made it through the first night out.
Feeling not so queezy, Randy takes a turn at the wheel while Barb watchs for whales or birds. Both enjoying the cockpit ride.

1/21/2009 WEDNESDAY: This was mom and dad's anniversary date - they were married in 1945. Happy anniversay! After a healthy oatmeal breakfast, the four of us decided to make the south channel east to the other side of the island and made it to Bahia Bonanza in just a few nice hours. We did spot some jumping rays at a distance and some other boats out and about, sails, power and pangas out fishing.

As you can see, blue skies, no wind and the sails aren't up!

It was pretty windy when we tried to anchor and after two drops, we found a sweet spot and hooked in. Soon after we stopped, the wind died and we had a pleasant sunset, a nice evening.

Bill dropped the dinghy and we made a trip to shore, swearing at the motor all the way. That Tanaka has got to go! Need a Honda. Randy and Barb elected to man the boat while we went to shore. I found some delightful shells on the very long, white, sandy beach - extremely pretty! The water felt about 80 degrees on the shore...very pleasant to wade through.
The little dinghy ashore with Tanque de Tiburon anchored out.

I made us a spaghetti dinner, complete with wine. The galley being a mess after creating a dinner, I cleaned up soon after we ate and we headed to bed early. Oh, the plankton was phosphorescing again and we had a short showing of that - complete with Linda spitting into the water to enhance the effect. Hey, it works. The head flushing Bill tried wasn't near as effective! We had a quiet and calm night, few rolly's and good weather. Could even see the lights of La Paz over the north of the peninsula to the south of us.

1/22/2009 THURSDAY: Departing at about 10 AM for La Paz, we motored out of our great anchorage after a superb sunrise. I think Bill, Randy and Barb slept throguh it! AAHH, but I have pictures! Once again creating camp coffee in the perculator on the propane stove, we had scrambled eggs for breakfast and put things away for a day of motoring with sails. Retracing our steps back through the channel and south to La Paz, we arrived mid-afternoon into our slip. Bill calls the marina office for deck hands and low and behold, they did arrive today. It was sunny, with a few clouds and a nice day to be out. We showered and caught a taxi to our favorite place, Buffalo BBQ (see picture abouve) for ribs! Yum.

1/23/2009 FRIDAY: Meeting Barb and Randy at the Dinghy Dock restaurant patio for breakfast, Lucy the goose joined us. She actually approached the table and begs for food! But we cannot feed her at the table, pig that she is. Everyone seemed tired so returned to quarters for a mid-morning nap. Bill and I re-stocked the cooler with ice, drinks and beer and did some cleaning up. About 2 PM, we all headed to town, via taxi, to find La Costa (see picture of Barb, Randy and Linda) , the beach-side seafood restaurant. The favorite there was the whole-fried snapper...deep fried and succulent. After lunch, we walked to the Banditos Bar for a supposed beach party sponsored by the American's Club Cruceros. They were BBQ'ing burgers in their old-car grill. Not much Buffett or Beach Boys music, so we didn't stay long. Walking to town, we cruised the Malecon for a few blocks, had some more ice cream (I tried fresh peach gelato this time and did not get sick). Back to the cockpit for a nightcap and Barb and Randy headed to bed early.

Our boat neighbors, a locally-owned large power boat was hosting a big party and had music until after 10...but they came by and chatted with Bill a few minutes, too. Nice folks. The La Panga restaurant hosted a bash that lasted until 5 AM! We could here the beat most of the night - 5 docks away.

1/24/2009 SATURDAY: Fly day for Barb and Randy! We had a breakfast at La Panga, a walk north on the Malecon and saw them off at 12. Nice week - thanks guys!!!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

January! We're Baa-aack!

Wow, time flies when you're having rum! January is flying by and our guests, Barb and Randy arrive from Texas manana for a week. We are excited to finally have some company. Now we can be the experienced ones and show someone else around! (Or rather, they can get lost along with us!)

The routine of living aboard in a marina is starting to settle in. We have had boat projects, trips to get groceries, tour the hardware stores for "guy stuff" and had dinner with friends. Bill has waxed the boat and finished oiling the teak. I have cleaned in and out, then started all over again. I started helping teach a daily Yoga/stretching class this past week and attended several ladies luncheons, including the "Sisters Aquiring Sailing Skills". Bill had the dinghy motor worked on. Danny the sail-maker has been back and forth measuring and creating the new sail cover. We had the boat bottom cleaned by local divers who do that for a living - in wet suits! And then there's galley work and laundry, a chore in itself that I put off until there is three or four loads....

Last weekend, there was a big storm predicted, a "norther". Come Saturday, the wind did pick up and blew for 24 hours, gusting to 25 knots. The marina actually closed the port - no one can go in or out. We watched the boats (at high tide) out at anchor in the open bay rocking and rolling. It did not look fun - and glad to be in a slip, in a marina, safe and snug.

$$$$$ A Five Star Week for Boat Sheckle Spending! This week's big projects for Bill were plumbing - the galley faucet died and forward head handle had a major leak. Hence, the hardware store visits. He cursed and pushed, pulled and stood on his head getting first the old faucet off then a new one in place. It now looks very pretty, all new and shiny and clean! Thanks, Bill. The next boat purchase had to be the new lap top - again, we had to have a working machine and the old lap top is almost dead. Yesterday was comparison shopping between Office Depot, Office Max, the department store and City Club, similar to CostCo - where we did buy one. We still had antenna problems so the computer guy, Trevor, spent this afternoon with Bill.

Now that we are up and running again - and faster, we should be able to add a few more oics and details for the blog! The prior trip is just below.

North to the Coves

We had another short sail, of sorts, a few weeks ago.

On January 2, we headed north to explore several coves on the north shore of the La Paz penninsula (see map below) before the next "norther" blew through.
Departing at a reasonable hour, he cruised out of the marina about 9 AM. Because we had been sitting for almost a month, it took a bit longer to prep for sea. Getting the steering wheel back on is always a good thing (yes, we have started to back out, engine running and -oops! - the steering wheel was still attached to the side of the dodger....that's always embarrassing....) But also remembering to stow things that might go flying on a heel, like the booze bottles, shampoo in the shower and books. Oh, and pulling the life jackets out!

Heading north, it takes about 40 minutes to actually clear the harbor area, passing the Costa Baja marina and the Pemex plant, winding through the channel first north, then west then hook a right back north. Once out in the larger bay, we put the boat into the wind and Bill put the main sail and the jib up, hopeful to catch some wind. Not much wind! We did try and peaked at about 3 knots off and on, trying to tack and catch what little wind there was. So we enjoyed the ride, watched other boats, the Baja Ferry and the shore. Beautiful weather, sunny and a nice breeze. The day's motor sail was about seven hours total.

By the way, we have also determined we are able to predict the winds very well...IF we want to sail and put the sails up, guaranteed the wind will die out! And if we want to anchor in a bay and have a pleasant night, also guaranteed the wind will gust to 30 knots and rock us all night. Go figure.

So motoring with the sails up, we headed for Caleta Lobos for a drive through tour on our way to the night's destination at Balandra Bay. Out from the inlet called Caleta Lobos is a small rock formation called Roka Lobos. Lobos are what the Mexicans call the Sea Lions! Roka Lobos is supposedly full of Sea Lions and we could hear them barking but hard to see them, even with binoculors. We could not get very close due to the reef around their rock. We were able to pass between the rock and the inlet and noticed two boats anchored in the bay. Heading north for a few more miles, we passed shrimp boats and a protected area that was marked off - perhaps shrimp farms.

Around the bend, we arrived into Balandra Bay - and ready to find a protected anchorage. Of course, the bay faces northwest and as soon as we entered the bay, the wind kicked up and made finding a spot and settling the anchor a little trickier. But we only made one circle to get it right. I drive and Bill drops the anchor. We are getting pretty good at it - don't miss too many! Before we shut the motor off, another larger sailing yacht entered the bay, anchored fairly near us, jumped in a towed dinghy and headed to shore. After off-loading a family, the dinghy came by our boat with a young french-accented crewman. He was whining about the guests on board "his" boat, trying to tell him, an experienced captain, how to anchor. We kind of wondered if he was just planning on leaving them ashore. Nah, we went back later and picked them up. Apparently, the guests were friends of the owner.

Balandra is a double-scooped bay with a very pretty beach and rock outcroppings. There is a rock formation there that the Mexican's call "La Fonga" as it is shaped like a mushroom. There is a replica of it in the a Paz town square. There were people on the beach, some swimming (in 77 degree water). Meanwhile, we were watching - and feeling - the wind pick up, the boat rocking and Bill thought the anchor was slipping. So we pulled up the anchor and moved. Pretty soon, the other boat also moved - all the way to the other side of the bay and tucked into a better-protected area near yet another sailboat. We settled in for a rocky-rolly dinner and watched the sunset. Once again, we decided to pull the anchor and move across the bay, too. But still not totally away from the wind and the "rolls", we had a rough night. Afraid the anchor would slip, we were both on edge, up and down, watching landmarks (rocky shore, lit marker and the other boats) . Come sunrise, we were tired and ready to move on. We saw a huge school of 2-3 foot rays jumpinmg near the reef marker. Too far away to get a decent picture but a pretty awesome sight!!! After coffee and oatmeal, we pulled the anchor, backed out away from a reef marker and headed to sea with plenty of wind!

Once out to sea again, Bill decided to set the sails. As soon as he did - voila! - no wind! What is up with that? We rock all night and when we want a little wind, none. Motoring for awhile with sails up (ok, they look cool up!), we continued north and around the tip of the peninsula to take a look at Tecolote Bay, an inhabited beach with restaurants, homes and palapas. Actually, it looks like a fun place to picnic! Making a loop back around, we turned back to head toward Caleta Lobos for another night's anchorage.

Approaching Caleta Lobos from the bay's center way point Bill had placed in the GPS, we headed straught into the bay and settled in a nice big cove all by ourselves. Only one other boat off into ther other side inlet was visible. What a pretty bay, protected from the north winds and calm. Several mangrove areas, shoals and beaches surround the bay. We arrived about 4 PM, so enjoyed just sitting and watching. Another Baja Ferry cruised by out in the Sea.

I did notice a lonesome and empty yet anchored and not moving dinghy or panga in the distance, between the mainland and a small out-cropping of rocks. It seemed odd all by itself. Soon, we noticed that someone was now in the little boat and rowing in our direction. Uh-oh. As he approached closer, I feared the older gentleman was naked. Nope, had trunks on. And a fish bucket. No motor. He pulled along side and introduced himself as Reno from the other anchored boat, Star. He had been spear fishing and offered us a fish! He single-hands his boat, a 35+ footer. We gladly accepted the Dog Snapper , Bill cleaned and boned it and we grilled it, adding it to our dinner fare. It was delish!

After dinner, we again saw Reno rowing toward our boat; he came to invite us for fresh, homemade ceviche he was "marinating" from his recent catch. So we set a time. Bill had taken our dinghy off the davit and placed the motor on. So come dusk and ready to chug over to Star, we climbed in the little Sharktank, along with some leftover rice and chicken to leave with Reno. And several cold beers as he had mentioned not having a refrigerator. Of course, the famous motor is still acting up and took many pulls to get it started, but we made it over for our treat. Climbing aboard Reno's boat was tricky, up over the transom. An older boat with no amenities per se, he seems a happy camper just going from bay to bay, fishing, reading and rock collecting. He mentioned he was heading to town in a few days so as to pick up his wife who was arriving back on the boat from the states. An interesting character, for sure.

We slept well, slight rocking putting us to sleep. Not up early, we had a liesurely breakfast and pulled up anchor about 10 AM and headed back to the marina...about a 6 hour trip, wind dependant. Once again, some wind as we went into the sea and as soon as the sails were up, none to speak of. We tried tacking to catch a little wind and almost ran in front of a larger power boat. I guess we need to check the rearview mirror more often? Seriously, he was a long way off but was a surprise. We enjoyed the slow ride back, the weather and the views. Lots of boats heading north, perhaps to the islands or across the "pond" to Mazatlan, the most common migration for cruisers after the holidays in La Paz.

So back to the slip, the marina grind and more chores!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Note to all! We are adding pictures as we can, many throughout the Blog as they relate to a prior date. So scroll through the Blog for new pics!

Christmas Dinner at Tres Virgens

Happy New Year!

Here's a few "past"pics for catch-up:

New friends, Doug and Carla, Steve and Ana
at the Marina de La Paz Christmas potluck....
Or is it the Rockets?

Our arrival to Marina Palmira, La Paz, December 5, 2008

Eating out yet again, somewhere....

Heading out again tomorrow.............SAILS UP!!!

Prospero Nuevo Ano de La Paz!

New Year's eve in La Paz is a very big deal! We walked to town earlier in the day, in search of a marine store and lunch. Many restaurants were prepping for the late night parties. Many cars scurrying about, shops and schools were closing early. We did find a nice lunch on the patio at El Patron and watched the water taxis ferry people to the Mogote, a peninsula across from La Paz. The bay area is also an achorage for many sailboats. Several boat folks came ashore via dinghy as we ate - bringing trash bags, laundry or taking provisions and water back out to their boats. An interesting life we lead! I think I like the slip and to be able to walk off the doc, but it costs for services - water, electric and trash. Those at anchor are usually sitting 'free" in most places.
As it was getting late and we needed to get back to prep for the evening festivities, we caught a very nice taxi/van and got back to the dock in five minutes for $5. I can now ask the driver to take us into the first entrance to our marina and save a few steps - "La primera entrada, por favor, cerca de los Condos y el Dinghy Dock Restaurante....".

For the party, hosted by Ana and Steve, we were to bring an appetizer, drinks and a White Elephant Gift to exchange. Who has white elephants on a boat? Most of the 20 guests were boaters with the same challenge. I created a Christmas Decor basket - and packet up some items I can replace next year!! And a few DVD's we had seen. I had also been marinating some fresh pineapple and cherries in some home-brew tequila - bacanero? - pretty strong concoction but taasty. A fun evening, some played games, some beer, good food and lots of boat talk. All evening and expanding at midnight was local fireworks, gun shots and shouting all over the city. Their home is fairly central and we could watch fireworks all around us. We stayed over due to the activity and difficulty getting a taxi at that late hour. Got to sleep in a bed on dry land - whee! We slept in a little this morning, had coffee on their patio and stopped for a great breakfast before coming back to the boat.

Our first cockpit "docktails" was also with Ana and Steve a few days ago. Bill decided to try our drill/blender. We had it all set-up and pre-tested to do a mango margarita. I filled it up and screwed the bottom on, handed it up the hatch to Bill who plugged in the drill and turned it on. The dang thing exploded! The bottom was not on tight. Bill was covered in Mango mess, as was the cockpit. Luckily, it missed Ana and Steve! After we finished our appetizers, we went up to the Dinghy Dock restaurant for some wonderful Xochitl soup, $4 for a large bowl of chicken, rice ands spices.

The weather is here - still! After last weekends cool "blow" and "sway" as we danced in the slip, it warmed up this week but still cooler in the evening. Very pleasant. Today was very overcast but never felt like it would rain. This afternoon, we sat and read for a bit on our deck chairs up on the forward deck, overlooking the dock. It's like sitting on the front porch. Bill also set the GPS way points in prep for our trip. With newly-treated wood, the dinghy motor running better (thanks, Bill) and the bottom cleaned, we are ready to head out again for a few days.

We hope to head up north tomorrow for the weekend...about 15 miles way is Bahia Balandra, with a few anchorages and nice beaches. So next Blog report should hopefull have a 'sail" report...