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!!

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 MaƱana…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.