Nancy and Sam welcome you aboard Windfall, our 1977 Maple Leaf sailboat. Windfall is a center cockpit design, 42' length, 13.5' wide, and 40,000 lbs of cruising fun!

On August 7th, 2010 we set sail on our "No Itinerary" world cruise and enjoying the "Cruising Life" very much! It's a wonderful adventure!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Bahia Tenacatita

Ahoy from Tenacatita!
We really enjoyed our time here. We had a beautiful spot to drop anchor. Tenacatita is a small bay with a beautiful white sandy beach, and a small stream that winds it’s way through mangroves and to a large lagoon.

We had a very nice surprise as the anchor was set, two large dolphins rushed over and began scratching themselves on our anchor chain! I began to play with them pulling our chain up and down to “scratch” them as they rubbed against the chain. The dolphins LOVED this! Nancy suggested I jump in the water and swim with the dolphins, now I must say dolphins have a grin that “looks” like they’re smiling…but these could be some sort of “rogue Mexican dolphins” that lure unsuspecting sailors into the water to play and……..Hey, Nancy! Quit pushing me into the water!

We motored over to the boat anchored behind us and we met four new friends who live nearby. Tom and Louise sailed here for the weekend, and picked up their friends for the day and enjoy Tenacatita (it must say something good if the locals come here for the weekend). There’s a great palapa right beside the stream to enjoy a cold beer and really great food. We were invited to join them. Soon we were lowering the dinghy wheels (used for beach landings) and making a nice beach landing when….SPLASH! A surf wave came behind our dinghy and got three of us wet…Nancy and Louise were soaked, but in true cruiser style Louise said, “This is not the first time I’ve got wet doing beach landings!”

Tom and Louise advised of some changes we should know about before going upstream. Apparently, the famous Tenacatita palapas serving tasty fish rolls were no longer there. As of August, a very wealthy person claimed to “own” the property (and some government officials including police) used over 200 armed police to “remove” the people from the property, giving them literally 5 minutes to leave. The property is now patrolled by armed guards who will not allow you to beach your dinghy or step onto the land. We enjoyed our time spent with Tom and Louise who offered advice about living in Mexico and sailing to far off destinations - And Louise, if you’re reading this, again sorry about that beach landing!

The next morning we raised our 15 horse power Honda motor and crossed the shallow sandbar at the stream’s entrance, timing our crossing for high tide, and finally made our way across the sandbar and began our adventure.
Stealthily (at full throttle) we motored up the jungle stream. Birds, red crabs, and fish hid securely among the twisted mangrove roots held firmly deep in the water. We felt like we were exploring the Amazon as we slowly dinghied “Blondie” up the 3 mile mangrove stream. We entered the lagoon to find two dinghies from boats in the anchorage. We motored over and introduced ourselves to some great Aussie cruisers only to find one boat was Buena Vista, who at our last anchorage of Isla Isabelita, gave us instructions of where to anchor.

The beach is picture perfect with coconut and palm trees swaying with the warm light breeze and thatched palm leaf ,huts where we would have dined right on the beach. Just picture tiki-torches along the sandy beach, hammocks tied to coconut trees slowly swaying in the gentle warm breeze, the wonderful smells of tropic food being prepared, and an icy fruity rum drink in hand…..but this was not meant to be. We could see armed guards at the beach holding M-16 rifles and watching our every move….ok, time to for us to vamanos, amigos! What a true shame.
We did meet a local panga (boat) in the stream, loaded with tourists from the nearby resort, who said they just seen three “baby” alligators. I asked Nancy how much it would cost for her to swim the stream back to the boat….I got “the look” that said forget it, you don’t have enough money!

We decided to prepare boat for sea-ready and set our course for Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo. Everything was ready set except….our big diesel motor wouldn’t start! What the %^%$$%^&8! After doing some trouble-shooting I found we either have some bad connections at the starter (possible) or the starter solenoid switch is going out (possible)…but with a little luck, prayer, and a big hammer our motor fired up and we’re on our way. We’re expecting 0-8 knots of wind and very calm seas for this leg of the trip.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta

We enjoyed our couple nights spent Isla Isabelita, and now arrived at Puerto Vallarta and Bahia de Bandaras (Bay of flags) around 10 am and dropped anchor near Marina La Cruz. Nancy and I took a bus to Puerto Vallarta and enjoyed an afternoon walking around the city. If you’re into condo’s on the beach this is the place for you, but for Nancy and myself we were not really impressed with Puerto Vallarta. The bay’s water was not clear as we have become used to in Mexico, nor was the water nearly as warm (70°). But the white sandy beaches and colorful condos are very nice that line the waterfront. Many condo’s and time share buildings are unfinished as the American Dollar has become less spent here in recent times. We were offered up to 2000 pesos to sit in on a “90 minute” time share sales pitch….uhh, No gracias, Amigo! Aboard Windfall we have “beach front property” everywhere we go!

We were actually were leaving Puerto Vallarta Monday, the bay itself is 30 miles long, and as we reached 20 miles away a V-belt broke on our main engine. Luckily we carry spares, but noticed the seawater pump was dripping a little seawater into the bilge (not a good thing). Ok…back we go, so we turned around to get parts for repairs…which may take a couple days or have Denielle bring extras when we meet with her at Christmas.

As we were heading back we spotted a LOT of whales…some were only 75 yards from Windfall! Nancy spotted a fin only 2 feet from the side of Windfall! Gulp! We stopped to admire the beauty and size of the many huge Gray Whales in the bay. Nancy filmed one Gray Whale as it put on a spectacular water show that seemed just for us. Holding a camera steady on a sailboat in the open water is not an easy task with whales splashing and making waves around you! Ok…that may be stretching it a bit…but makes a good story!

We had the laundry done for us at the marina, it costs about $9.00 US for 3 loads washed, dried, and folded, and since we’re at anchor and not in the marina we’ll have to dinghy back to get the laundry when ready. (In La Paz they picked up and delivered to your boat slip for free).

The parts are on order and before long we’ll be on our way. Our next course is set for Bahia de Tenacatita about 120 miles south of Puerto Vallarta. It’s noted that in 1997 a McHale’s Navy movie was filmed here. We can also dinghy up a stream and through mangrove jungles into a large lagoon… it won’t be long before we’re in “alligator country” so we’ll have to be on the look-out…which means I just have to run faster than Nancy! A note to our Life Insurance Company - This should not conflict with our Insurance Policy - Article 2, Section 7, Paragraph 99 "Alligator wrestling is strictly prohibited...."

As a note about the foods we’ve enjoyed along our trip… We’ve found the best (and cheapest) foods are where the locals eat and the little beachside “palapas” and street stands who serve absolutely wonder foods for very reasonable prices. We have not gotten sick from “the water” and you’ll see bottled water is used for cooking, washing dishes, and ice. The ports and marinas have potable water available (metered for a fee). We make fresh water while we motor and/or sail and have used our faithful Katadyn Watermaker (7.5 gallons/hour) to keep our (2) 100 gallon watertanks full. We find hot showers are a wonderful thing after a long passage, and before going to bed at “cruisers midnight”…which is about 9 o’clock!

We are looking forward to our next destination of Bahia de Tenacatita… But till our parts come in, it looks like we’re here for a couple days, so now we have time to relax, and enjoy the warm Puerto Vallarta sunshine.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Isla Isabelita

Hello from Isla Isabelita!
We left Mazatlan at 4:30pm and arrived this morning at 7:00 am. One of the small anchorages was full with 3 sailboats firmly anchored. We were drifting and deciding what to do when one boat called us on the VHF…”Windfall…Windfall… this is Sequoia”. They gave directions of where the best spot is to drop the anchor and that they are leaving for another port.

It’s 8am and the water is a comfortable 74°, and it’s already 74° outside….NICE!!! We dropped anchor in 25 feet of crystal clear water I can see the anchor chain go to the sandy bottom and leading to the anchor. Nancy made a great breakfast burrito (eggs, bacon and potatoes). While she made breakfast I check in with the morning Ham radio net(s) to gave our location and receive weather forecasts. I also use the Ham Radio to send/receive emails, weather faxes, and various weather reports from Ham nets, NOAA, and the US Coast Guard. We don’t take chances when it comes to weather, plus Nancy doesn’t like rough sea conditions…and if the “Admiral” isn’t happy…nobody is happy!

Both National Geographic and Jacques Cousteau featured Isla Isabelita in television specials as a “Wonderland of unspoiled nature.” The island is uninhabited except for the island Bird Sanctuary and park ranger’s residence. We’ll go exploring and snorkeling after a short nap! The Island has a TON of birds including Frigates and Blue-footed boobies.

On our way back from exploring we noticed some of the same people who went on the Pacifico Brewery tour with us. We stopped just to say “hello” and ended up staying for dinner…with 12 aboard! Oh, and did I mention they had several live lobsters they traded with some local fishermen? Well…let me just say that fresh lobster on a charcoal grill is FANTASTIC! We donated fresh carrots, broccoli, and rum...Not that they needed anything more than the fresh veggies! One French crewmember made bacon wrapped dates, skewed with a toothpick, and grilled….Yummy! Plus, there were a couple guys snorkeling with spearguns…they brought red snapper and “pargo” - which I’m not familiar with, but tasted delicious! (Well…it didn’t look poisonous!)

Onward to Puerto Vallarta for our next stop…..

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mazatlan Mexico

Ola! from Mazatlan, Mexico!

We left La Paz at 10 am on a beautiful warm sunny morning. Butch and Susan helped untie our dock lines and gave us a fresh baked loaf of bread to enjoy on the trip. Nancy and Susan hugged good-bye. With salty tears in Nancy and Susan’s eyes, we pulled slowly from the slip, gave our last farewells, and waved good-bye to our friends.

So we could arrive at Mazatlan during the early daylight hours, we slowly motored the last 11 hours of the 45 total hours. Our trip should have taken about 39 hours, but we don’t like to arrive to an unfamiliar harbor in the dark. We dropped anchor and were surprised to find we anchored right in front of Ron and Heather, our Canadian “Baja Ha Ha” friends whom we met at Cabo san Lucas. They came right over and gave us the “scoop” of things in town, bus schedules, the Pulmonias (more on these later), and places we just had to see.

After a quick VHF radio check-in with a the Mazatlan Puerto Capitan, long awaited showers, and a nice long nap, Nancy and I tied our dinghy “Blondie” to the dinghy dock to begin our “Mazatlan Adventure”. We were offered a ride to the old town Mazatlan from a local sports fisherman, he owns a charter sports fishing boat and also lives in Washington. He dropped us off in front of a beach front hotel right on the “malecon” (boardwalk), where the famous once stayed…John Wayne, Robert Mitchem, Kirk Douglas, etc…

The sun was setting into the blue Pacific water as we walked along the beautiful “malecon.” I marveled at how we shared the same sunset scene as the “The Duke” had at this very place. The picture perfect beach looks like a movie setting that would have made another “great” Elvis beach movie….ok, so I like the old Elvis movies! Sheesh! But I wouldn’t have been surprised to see Bill Bixby taunting Elvis to a surfing challenge.

We walked the red brick streets and went inside a most beautiful church built in the late 1800’s. We went inside and watched a wedding in progress and admired the truly beautiful craftsmanship of the church. Later, we sipped wine at a very romantic outdoor café at Plaza Machada as a street musician played a saxophone right by our table. It seemed we were in an old European town with its outdoor cafés, brick streets, and beautiful old buildings and intricate ironworks. We ate at a local café and later treated ourselves to delicious carrot cake and creamy coffee.

Our trip back was in a Pulmonia, a vehicle that can only be described as a cross between a Volkswagen and a golf cart called...Pulmonia means “Phenomena” named to the breezy open-air vehicle and which could cause…well… phenomena! Ha Our driver started at 70 peso… we offered 20 and we settled on 50 peso (less than $5)for the ride back. Here’s a bit of advice if you ever ride in a Pulmonia….HOLD ON!! Ha Maybe for the full 70 pesos he would have USED those stop signs!….”What stop signs?”

Monday we toured the Pacifico Brewery with our friends Ron & Heather and several other cruisers who, like us, were there for the free beer! We were amazed all the hops they use for brewing are imported from Yakima, Washington, and that they bottle over 165,000 cases of beer each day…just for Mexico! Their various other breweries make 11 different brands of beers (including Corona) for Mexico, and for exporting.

Our next Port-of-Call is - about 85 miles south and 25 miles offshore. This should be interesting to find as the island is a “few miles off its charted position,” it’s good thing our “Charlie’s Charts” cruising book gives the actual GPS coordinates! Both National Geographic and Jacque Cousteau featured Isla Isabelita in television specials as a “Wonderland of unspoiled nature.” The island is uninhabited except for a island Bird Sanctuary and park ranger’s residence.

After visiting Isla Isabelita, we’ll set a course for Puerto Vallarta. Nancy and I are already discussing whether to go through the Panama Canal and cruise South America and the Caribbean, or to continue down to Peru and Ecuador then to the South Pacific Islands….We may have to flip a peso to decide. But, till then, we still have the rest of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama to explore…which will take a very long time...and we’re in no hurry.

Well, let’s hoist the anchor and set our course for Isla Isabelita, it looks like another Windfall Adventure is on its way!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

La Paz

Welcome aboard Amigos!
We are currently at Marina Palmira in sunny …let me say that again…SUNNY La Paz, Mexico. It’s time to give Windfall a good scrubbing and remove all the salt crust forming on everything. It’s amazing just how much salt accumulates everything during a passage.
We checked by radio with the “La Paz Puerto Capitana.” It was very easy… name of boat, what marina or anchorage, and how many people aboard…it took less than 3 minutes. The marina copies your boat documentation, passports, etc… it was very easy with the helpful and friendly marina staff. Free shuttle to town 3 times daily, walk, or a taxi is $5 each way (town is about 2 miles from this marina).
Yesterday Nancy and I hired a taxi to shop for much needed groceries and marine parts. Our driver was Jesus…no not “Jesus” – his name is pronounced “Hay-zuse” who spoke little English, but we easily managed to get everywhere needed. We stopped at Ace Hardware, Home Depot, and Walmart for groceries. I must say the stores here are VERY clean, the meats, fish, and produce look wonderful – we even bought apples from Washington State that look better here than in the Portland stores! We bought fresh baked bread for an evening candlelight dinner served in the cockpit; it was so good with fresh roasted garlic butter it melted in our mouths…Yum!
Nancy hired a friendly lady to do laundry; she comes to the boat each morning. If we did the laundry, the marina washer/driers cost $1.50 US dollars each and would have cost us $15 total. The woman charged $18 dollars for all 5 loads washed, dried, and folded neatly - including pick up and delivery to the boat….all in about 3 hours!
Thanksgiving is in a couple days, Ben (our crew) will be returning back to Portland and to that good old Oregon weather. I give Ben the Portland weather reports every chance I can!
We have plans of spending Thanksgiving shared with friends here in the marina….and of course with “too much food” as always. We’ll be looking in Mom’s recipe book for something special to serve…sounds like another trip to Walmart! Ha
Sunday Nov 28th – Thanksgiving was great. Ben caught a plane for Portland (emailed to say it is COLD!). Sad to see Ben leave, but he may show up later in our adventure. Currently, we are spending a few more days here in La Paz, a couple days of high winds (30 knots +) are expected and make choppy seas. So we decided it best to spend a few more days enjoying La Paz. We talked with a local who said it has not rained in TWO YEARS in La Paz! (The average rainfall is 1 inch!)
Nancy and I have been riding our folding bicycles, touring the town of La Paz, and enjoying cold beer at a local cantina we favor. Nancy shopped a couple fabric stores and was amazed with the great prices…the most expensive fabric was only $11 per Meter, and most in the $2.50 range. She is looking for Sunbrella fabric to make a new sail cover for our main sail….I’m glad they didn’t have it so I didn’t have to pack that heavy load on my bike! Whew! That was a close one! Ha
December 1st – Our Anniversary! Tomorrow we begin our trip for Mazatlan, we decided to forego the 120 mile trip (further north) to Loreto, it would take too much time as we are to meet Denielle and Jeff her new (soon to be) husband in Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa on December 23rd (I had to look those up how to spell!). These cities are about 20 miles north of Acapulco…which is also on our list.
Butch and Susan’s son, Joe, is flying back home to Portland today. We’ve had a great time with Joe, it’s sad to see him leaving. Tonight, Nancy and I are enjoying a nice candle light dinner aboard Windfall. Later we’ll have cocktails with several friends aboard and enjoy our last evening in La Paz before leaving tomorrow morning. Our plan is to stop 40 miles south at Muertos (again), spend the night, and then set our course for Mazatlan – about a 27 hour sail. “Navigator Nancy” figures we have over 880 miles…correction…830 miles to sail, so it looks like we’re back to the “cruising mode” here aboard Windfall.
We’ve enjoyed the wonderful hospitality and friendly people of La Paz.

Adios for now!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Isla Partida

Ahoy! From Isla Partida (a small island 20 miles north of La Paz)
We decided to sail north to Isla Partida, before La Paz, to snorkel and sight-see. As we sailed the beautiful 12 miles from Puerto Balandra to Isla la Partida we caught two brightly colored Dorado (30” and 36”), then later we hooked “something BIG” that spooled out our big reel filled with 80lb line and it broke off our favorite plug. Dang! It’s another “fish story” for the books. But, the sailing was outstanding and we enjoyed our 7 knots of smooth blue water cruising.
We have not been disappointed with our decision. Isla Partida is a beautiful little desert island with white sandy beaches and clear warm turquoise waters to anchor.
We dinghied around the island to find some sea caves, and we drove the dinghy inside one cave then turned around (very cool). We continued our dinghy adventure to the top of the island, to a large rock sticking out of the sea called Los Islotes. We were amazed to find many boats near the rock that rises 80 feet, reaching 800 foot long, and “accented” with white guano highlights (bird doo!). Quickly we understood why the tourist boats were here…..diving and snorkeling with sea lions! It didn’t take long for the crew of Windfall (Ben, Nancy, and I) to don our masks and fins and take the plunge into the warm water. It is like looking into an aquarium filled with colorful tropic fish, suddenly…SWISH! Right past us went a playful sea lion!
Male sea lions can grow up to 8 feet long and weigh 800 pounds, while the females grow up to 6 feet long and 200 pounds. Ok…so we were a “bit scared” at first, but you quickly find these playful animals are having as much fun as us. It’s a little un-nerving as a 800 pound sea lion swims inches past and wants to “play.” N-n-n-nice Sea lion! G-g-g-good boy!
There is an opening (cave) through the rock can swim through. The sea lions LOVE to swim right along with you, passing over, under, and beside as you slowly kick your fins. We swam to the far end to find another and much smaller “swim through.” As Nancy was floating in the water, a sea lion swam from behind, laid it’s head on her shoulder, and gave her a “full-finned” wrap-around hug! Ben said Nancy’s eyes looked huge inside her mask as the sea lion slowly swam away. I think Nancy has a new underwater friend with a passion for blonds!
We watched as a small sea lion pup played with a stick, dropping it into the water again and again, and then fetching it back to the surface. I sure wanted to toss that stick to watch him retrieve it.
As we enjoyed this so much, we’re going back to Los Islotes, and this time I’m taking our underwater camera and a beach ball…sticks are hard to come by aboard a boat. (Nancy is shaking her head as I read this to her).
So, with a hug from a friendly sea lion, or two, our cruising adventure continues aboard Windfall. Adios for now! We’re grabbing our snorkels and heading back to Los Islotes…Now where can I find a good stick….

Monday, November 15, 2010

We can now say “We’ve sailed the Horn of Mexico” and we find ourselves in Bahia Los Frailes… 104 nautical miles south of La Paz on the beautiful Sea of Cortez. Los Frailes bay is surrounded by very high rocky mountains covered with a green brushy vegetation, small sandy beaches, and clear warm turquoise water. We enjoy our quiet Mexican evenings gazing upon the many stars not seen near city lights.
Each night hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of 10 to 12 inch fish come to feed on smaller fish attracted by Windfall’s lights. Their eyes glow an eerie orange as we cast our bright spotlight in the darkness upon the clear water surrounding Windfall…believe me, it’s an awesome sight! Nobody has yet dared to jump into the water at night …not even with a “double-dog dare” as these “orange-eyed-man-killers” appear hungry! Well…that’s our story anyway! And we dare you to come and try!
This morning Windfall is anchored in 30 feet of warm 78 degree, blue, and very clear water of which I can easily see the sandy bottom. This is our third day at anchor along with our friends Butch, Susan, and their 19 year old son Joe on Valparaiso that is anchored 75 feet off our starboard side.
Yesterday, we snorkeled nearby Pulmo Reef, the only coral reef on the Pacific side of Mexico. With dinghies fully loaded, the white-legged crews of Valparaiso and Windfall motored along the rocky shoreline toward Pulmo Reef. As we approached the reef, the park ranger come along-side to tell us the rules…No anchoring on the reef, No touching the reef (it kills the coral), and it’s a 50 Peso ($5.00) daily fee for a wristband to use the park….But, he was out of wristbands…so today is FREE! “Gracious A-mee-go”, I said as we headed for the beach (I’m still working on my Spanish)! Ha Ha
We anxiously pulled our dinghies ashore and soon we were all in the water pointing out the many varieties of colorful coral fish…including one small moray eel! The water felt marvelous and we were not disappointed with our snorkeling adventure (as seen by the sun-baked smiles on our wet salty faces). We all agreed THIS is what we came to Mexico for!
Ben (our “crew”), Nancy, and I returned to Windfall exhausted after a day of exploring, swimming, and soaking up that warm Mexican sunshine. Nancy prepared a great lunch made with our fresh caught Bluefin tuna. Lunch was followed by a long “siesta” that lasted well into the late afternoon.
We’ve heard rumors of the best coconut shrimp and strongest margaritas are in the neareby village. So today this is our quest. …This is the voyage of the S/V Windfall…To seek out new life and new civilizations...To boldly go where no man has gone before… unless there’s rumors of coconut shrimp and margaritas!
We have a funny situation…we don’t really know what time it is! We were on pacific time, then USA daylight savings (and Mexico’s daylight savings falls on a different day), now we are in the Mountain time zone… in Mexico… and unknown if it’s daylight savings time or not… fact we have to quiz each other to see what DAY it is! Seriously! Hey, it’s Mexico …the land of Mañana…so why worry about the time… And right now, Nancy has breakfast ready…is it 8am, 9am, or 10am…..who really cares…it’s time for breakfast.
A nice 20 minute walk from our beached dinghy found the local restaurant made of a simple open air palm-thatched roof structure and small open kitchen. Our cook, Christa, took special care of us and also helped our Spanish. We watched anxiously as she prepared our dinners of lobster, breaded scallops, shrimp (in a sauce that was finger licking good!), and wonderful mashed potatoes made with milk, a dash of chicken bouillon, slice of butter, and her secret spice …fresh nutmeg (she allowed me to watch as she prepared each item). We can honestly say this was the very best meal we have had in years. Our delicious dinner by candle light was $13 US dollars, Pacifico beer was $2, and fresh Lim’onade (limeade) is a delicious house specialty made with fresh squeezed limes mixed with mint leaves picked right off the bush just 10 feet from our table. As we prepared to leave, the owner, Albina, offered to give us a lift back to the dinghy…to avoid snakes resting on the warm road at night. We declined (at first) then he added…and to also watch out for tarantulas and scorpions on the road! Christa pointed to a small scorpion resting on the floor…. Ok…“three gringos” would appreciate that a ride now! Gracias Amigo!! Nancy rode up front, while Ben and I jumped in the back of Albina’s flatbed truck with our flashlights anxiously scanning the road for “critters of the night” (none were seen).
Christa was out of coconut for the coconut shrimp and graciously invited us back…Hmmmm , Christa’s Margaritas and Coconut Shrimp…Hey Nancy, put those hotdogs away, we’re going out for dinner tonight!
Sadly, our friends aboard Valparaiso have decided to leave their boat in La Paz, and return home to Portland and back to the “real life”. It’s not uncommon to have cruisers anxious to “live the dream,” only to find the “dream” is not shared by both partners. I am very lucky to have as great a partner as Nancy.
Cruising partners must share the same dreams and desires if they wish to make those dreams become a reality and enjoy the adventures…Which does include the icy margaritas toasted during warm tropical red sunsets, but it also includes such things as repairing a broken backed up toilet…and I can ‘t think of anything worse…Oh what fun! And, what an Adventure!!
Here aboard Windfall, for Nancy and I, the rewards are well worth continuing and living our dreams while enjoying the many challenges life brings. We can’t think of having a better life than right here, right now. Yea, I love cruising…..Hey Nancy! Where’s those rubber gloves, I’ve got an “adventure” waiting to be repaired!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Baja Mexico

Ahoy! We enjoyed a great time in San Diego and some of the fun “tourist” activities as well…The San Diego Zoo (Very Good!), toured the USS Midway aircraft carrier (now a museum). Denielle, Nancy’s daughter, came from Reno to visit and brought along her new boyfriend…who just happened to have served aboard the USS Midway, we got our very own private tour guide to show the ins and outs of a working aircraft carrier. Later in the week Nancy and I went to Tijuana for a afternoon. We found a Tequila Festival happening in the downtown area where Nancy and I really enjoyed sampling the many (and I DO mean MANY) free tequilas! How could we pass this up! I had a short time to study for the General HAM license and passed first try (Whew!), now we can send and receive emails anywhere in the world aboard Windfall.

We set out on the 17th Annual “Baja Ha Ha” on October 25th from a cold and dreary San Diego Bay…along with 195 other sailboats, and set our course for Bahia Tortugas (Turtle Bay) about 410 nautical miles down the Baja coast. We had all types of sea conditions...including some very “confused seas” with 10’ to 12’ waves that tossed Windfall around a bit, but we endured well and gained much faith in our trusty sailboat.

We arrived at Bahia Toutugas where there is a small town that is absolutely crazy about baseball, soon it was the Locals vs “The Ha Ha’s” at their new “stadium”. “Slugger Nancy” stepped to the plate and knocked one out for a base hit, and later got a run! Yeah Nancy! We later partied on the beach with music and fun for all…and about 500 fellow cruisers. One afternoon we went on a dinghy “adventure” with Ben (our new crew member), and our friend Ralph who is crewing for our friends Butch and Susan aboard Valparaiso. Ralph was in search of large whale vertebrae to take home. The four of us piled into our dinghy, “Blondie”, and motored far across the bay on a quest for the treasure. Sadly, as we slowly motored to the beach, our faces dropped with disbelief….litter covered the beautiful beach, plastic bottles, jugs, all types of plastic litter as far as we could see. As “they” say…this is Mexico and recycling has not yet reached us. We left with a new pride in that Windfall does practice recycling…and every bit counts…as we have seen.

Soon it was time to set sail for Bahia Santa Maria 223 nautical miles further south. We tossed our lines into the beautiful blue and warm water….soon….Zzzzzzzzzzzz ! Ben (pictured) was battling with a nice 12 pound tuna….which I must say we also practice safe “Filet and Release” methods aboard Windfall. Soon Ben and I were enjoying “fresh sushi” on the stern; Ben said it was still wiggling in his mouth (Now THAT’S fresh)! Nancy did an excellent job of preparing the tuna for dinner and the crew of Windfall enjoyed it very much. Kudos to Nancy!

Bahia Santa Maria is a very small fishing village tucked inside a beautiful and well protected bay. After two days and nights of sailing, we arrived with a beautiful blue sky sunrise and we looked forward to a well deserved rest. Within minutes of setting anchor, our VHF radio blasted out ”Attention Baja Fleet…we have a MAYDAY…A boat is on the beach and in dire need of help … We’re requesting help immediately”! We quickly packed with tools and necessary items, lowered our dinghy into the water, and with blurry sleep deprived eyes we were on our way. About 60 cruisers showed up to help a lone cruiser, not with our "Ha Ha" fleet, who fell asleep and drifted ashore with his beautiful sailboat…four years his home and dream tossed ashore in minutes. The decision was made to cut everything and salvage all we could before the high tide...which was coming in at that moment. Soon tools were flying about the stranded sailboat, items were being packed high on tp the beach, and onlookers shook their heads with a quick shot of reality that THIS could be their boat washed ashore and THIS could be them standing in shock as others cut away their dream. No time for fancy unbolting and such. Time was not on our side, and the tide was literally at our feet as we worked diligently to save what could be. One particular winch was stubborn and would unbolt from the boat….till I used a battery powered Saws-All saw and cut it off! We salvaged what we could, yet, they were holding out to see if a high tide in 5 days would help to free the stripped boat deeply lodged into the wet sand…many shook their heads as they walked away…”It’s a Damn shame…poor guy”. We felt lucky to be safely anchored in the bay.

Currently, Nancy and I are at Cabo San Lucas (Yeah!), sitting at a beach-side cafe in WARM 85 degree sunny weather...Oh, and the's clear, blue, and 78 degrees! Sure do miss that cold rainy Columbia River....Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha. We "Skyped" Nancy's Dad in Florida while we sat at the cafe' table (very cool!). Today we did all our "check-ins" to clear customs into Mexico, later this afternoon we have a beach party with the Ha Ha Fleet. - FYI for our cruiser friends - The Mexican authorities (and locals) have been gracious and very helpful, the process took only a few hours and was actually fun as we walked Cabo in search of the Port Captain, Immigration, and API (Federal Port Authorities - because Cabo is a Federal Port you MUST pay a daily tax even to anchor in the harbor (about $10 US - which is better than the $140/day the marina charges!) Our Spanish is actually getting "Muy better"!

We must say that we have NEVER seen so many stars as while we sail, it's really incredible to look up and see stars ALL around and down to the horizon's something to see. We've caught several tuna, one BIG (something) broke our 40 pound line....of course. One tuna tournament here in Cabo is happening, and so far the biggest tuna is 180 pounds!

Monday we sail to La Paz, then Loretto ( Sea of Cortez) which we "hear" has several islands to snorkel and dive...and do nothing but enjoy that warm Mexican sunshine.....Ahhh...the Mexican life suits us well.

We LOVE our watermaker (Thank you Kim at Columbia Marine Exchange!), we ran it continuously for 20 hours on the way to Cabo. We've filled other boats watertanks and have enjoyed MANY showers! (requested by crew!)

We have a beach party to attend, wish you all were here to enjoy with us! ....I guess I'll have a Margarita!

More sailing "Adventures" to come!

Currently, it’s 84 degrees, water temperature is 71 degrees, and our course set for Cab San Lucas…109 nautical miles ahead. We landed two very nice Bluefin Tuna and only kept one 12 pounder as we have “plenty of tuna” according to Chef Nancy. Ben and I are holding out for a sailfish or marlin.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Catalina Island

Our journey started at San Francisco’s Aquatic Park with raising the anchor in total darkness at 6:30am, then maneuvering Windfall around several swimmers in the water. About 20 swimmers were in the water, some swimmers thankfully had little blinking lights on their swim caps, while others had no lights and were very difficult for us to see as we were trying to aim Windfall out the narrow opening to the bay. Twice we were lined up in the darkness to the narrow channel leading to the bay…twice we were blocked by swimmers crossing our escape. Nancy held the spotlight on swimmers, letting them know we seen them and telling me which way to turn to avoid the unlighted swimmers. With the fog totally encompassing the Golden Gate Bridge (normal for us by now) we sailed under the massive structure for the last time.

Hey Nancy! Wake up! Twenty five miles offshore of Half Moon Bay we spotted Humpback Whales! WOW! These were huge and only a hundred feet from Windfall in the open water as they slowly swam, spouted, and dove into the cold 2000 foot deep water.

We have many dolphins approach Windfall during the day and night. We call out to them and clap our hands in welcomed appreciation as they jump, splash, and playfully put on a show for Nancy and I. The dolphins are so playful, many times we spot 20-30 in a group racing toward Windfall, leaping from the water like it’s a race to be the first to jump Windfall’s wakes left behind.

The water was a bit rough with 5-7’ waves coming directly at us from behind, but Windfall seemed to like the waves as we motorsailed at a brisk 7 knots, and gave us a smooth ride. In fact, Nancy read a book on her new Kindle, which she loves, about the tragic Donner Party...I just hope she’s not copying recipes! Gulp!

I thought for sure Nancy would feel seasick reading and cooking as we sailed, but with the faithful “patch” stuck behind her ear she felt very well the whole trip…including during rough water….I’m very proud of her.

Saturday, at 5:30am, as we were nearing the islands, a Warning to Mariners came blasting on the radio! Warning! Mariners should take to port immediately! A HUGE large electrical storm with lightening shooting to the water, 40 knot winds, and high waves has been reported from Catalina Island and heading Northwest at 20 miles per hour….right for us! Son of a Bit…. HEY NANCY! Wake up! We quickly altered our course 90 degrees away from the storm, and prepared Windfall for heavy seas. Fortunately, the Weather Gods were with us and we missed the storm completely…and had very smooth water to sail. But now, we are behind our schedule to arrive at Catalina Harbor during the daylight hours, and entering an unfamiliar harbor, at night, and with a bit of fog is NOT on our list of fun things to do. Again, the Weather Gods gave us a small break and lifted the fog just 3 miles from the welcomed entrance.

After 62 hours leaving San Francisco, we slowly entered Catalina Harbor seeking just one available buoy for Windfall to tie up to. With spotlight in hand, Nancy slowly searched the darkness for a buoy…and searched… and searched, when finally one lonely and empty buoy was spotted. These buoys have a 4’ tall pole on top with an attached rope connected to two heavy concrete weights secured to the bottom. You tie one end of the rope to the front of your boat, and then lead it to the back where you pull tight and tie it again. This secures your boat front and back and keeps the boat from swinging with the tides and waves...and from bumping into your close neighbor’s million dollar yacht! Whew!

It’s now Sunday, 8 a.m., as I’m sitting in the cockpit, sipping hot coffee, and typing this on the computer. The friendly Harbor Master boat came along side and answered questions of where we pay for the buoy, stores, fuel, etc…Oh, and by the way…Did we know this is Buccaneers Weekend and there was over 3000 “crazy buccaneers” in the little town for the weekend! Uhhhh noooo…no, we didn’t know this. Luckily for us, it’s now Sunday and many “Buccaneers” and boats are leaving the harbor to return to their homeports of Long Beach located on the mainland 30 miles across the water.

Today, we will relax, do some housekeeping, and go to the Harbor Master to pay moorage. Tonight, a nice barbecued dinner with glasses of wine are in store for the “tired crew” of Windfall.

Nancy phoned our friends, Butch and Susan, who are in San Diego and awaiting for us to arrive. We will be sailing the Baja Ha Ha along with Butch and Susan’s boat Valparaiso and 195 other boats signed up for the cruise Ocotber 24th , to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico! Susan told about their adventure today to the Miramar (Top Gun) Airshow… they took a bus, then had to walk a mile to the entrance gate…then another 4 miles to see the airshow! With complete fatigue and sunburned faces they returned with the endless 5 mile walk back to the bus, then returned to their boat where they fell onto the couch in sunburnt exhaustion. Now, I’m not a doctor, but I would strongly prescribe several “coldies” to help relieve the patient’s endless sufferings…of course, these “prescribed coldies” would come from their coolers and not ours!

Well, it’s now the crack of 10:30 and time to muster-up the crew from her well deserved rest and prepare for the day’s chores…tough duty in this beautiful sunny 75° California weather…yeah…we sure do miss that cold, wet, and endless Oregon rain…Ha Ha Ha Ha!
We are in Two Harbors-very laid back and like a Hawaiian village. We spotted a buffalo on the hillside as we were packing up to leave. As we were raising the dinghy motor to secure it to the boat....well, lets just say "someone..who remain nameless (Sam)" forgot to tie the dinghy to the boat! There it went..slowly floating away....we looked at each other (with Nancy giving me "the look") Son of a B! Next thing I know "Super Nancy" is jumping into the 63 degree water to retrieve the runaway dinghy! NO WAY!...Yes! She swam back with dinghy in tow! With a storm coming in we needed to leave soon, so at 6pm we set a course for San Diego....Hey Nancy…toss me another coldie!