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Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Lighted Boat Parade

Christmas Eve in Bahia San Carlos included a parade of lighted boats that went out of the bay and around the corner. We had a front-row seat and then went back into the warm boat to eat yummy food with our guests.


Feeding frenzy

The birds have cottoned to us on Sea Venture. They figured out it's not only the pangas that drop goodies off their stern, but also this big old boat. Here are three Heerman's Gulls fighting for a morsel Michael tossed into the air.

More gulls.
Look at those eyes. These guys are intent on catching that dried bread!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Lunch time!

We were sitting out in the cockpit, enjoying a leisurely lunch today when suddenly the motor boats/ fishing fleet decided to return en masse. Just before he dashed down to fetch his camera, Michael counted eleven boats entering the channel at the same time. The only other time we've seen such a group effort was in Santa Rosalia when all 150-plus pangas came blasting back into the harbor in one steady stream of loud motors as a chubasco (thunderstorm) approached.

This time, we figure these guys didn't have enough food or beverage on board. But all at once? We're just sorry we didn't have the camera on hand to record the start of the race.

Cockpit captain's chair and table

Some folks on were interested in the captain's chair we installed after our boisterous trip south, so we're including one picture here and a link to all the others at the right. The line attached to the seat front is for our PFD tether that keeps us on board in the cockpit in bouncy seas. We have jacklines running the length of the boat, because the last thing either of us wants is to try to fetch the other from the sea.

The table is mounted using a pedestal seat flange that we bought at West Marine. It is offset so that it can be turned to provide easier access to the lazarettes. The pedestal base block is made of laminated Douglas fir planks, which gives a solid base, and it is through-bolted to the deck. Makes for a much more secure ride than sitting on the cockpit cushions.

You can see pictures of Mama and us taking turns sitting in it on the link showing her summer trip to visit Sea Venture.

The table is just temporary, made out of an old tray table we had on hand. As soon as Michael finds the proper wood and has the time, he'll make a prettier one. But with lots of other projects taking precedence, this may be a while in coming.

No hurry, eh, mates?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bahia San Carlos

With a view like that and with weather that gives us warmish days and cool nights, with a bay that's clean enough that we can make RO water when the tide's incoming, with work aplenty to keep both of us busy, how can we leave?

A number of boats filling the anchorage have taken off toward the south. Frankly, after the sweltering summer months, we're glad of a reprieve. We'll miss family for Thanksgiving, but we've friends who have invited us to sup with them, so it will still be a day of blessing.

As we look around us, we can't help but consider our entire life so full of God's glory that we daily give thanks and praise. How can we help it?

The best thing would be if one of you would like to come share some of this with us.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sleepy Creek in flood

Sleepy Creek is behaving oddly. The tide has been higher than normal during most of September, but now all the docks are under water and we have a new pond behind the house! We haven't had much rain for more than a week, but we do have depth, finally.

This is the backyard pond extending from the end of the harbor. It is normally marshland.

Here is Furnifold, Mama's rowboat, with her bowline tied at least a foot above the normal dock level. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you'll see what I mean.
These show the dock in front of the old house, which is normally quite a bit above water, and the top of the steps leading down to the water on its other side.

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

A Link to San Carlos Clean-up

The following link will take you to Kiki Grossman's blog to see some great pictures of how well the folk there are doing in the post-Jimena clean-up. Michael has been hugely impressed.

Monday, September 07, 2009

The Hurricane in San Carlos

It's Senor J. Salas's fault. He stood in the Marina Seca office and said they needed rain. "Don't worry about the wind. It won't be much. But if we don't get rain, things will be bad around here."

They got rain. And things are very bad around there.

We weren't there for the downpour, but Michael drove back to San Carlos after seeing me off for a visit to son Joshua in San Antonio and then home to Sleepy Creek. Friday night he found the road out and had to sleep in the rental car. By Saturday morning, they'd fashioned a temporary detour that allowed him to get part way into town, then, finally, to the apartment we're renting until Sea Venture is in the water again.

There is still no showering/flushing water in San Carlos. The electricity finally came on yesterday, but it's sporadic. Not enough to run an air conditioner. Boats that were on moorings are now up on the beach. And Marina Seca is a mess.

Here are some photographs that tell the story. Fortunately, Sea Venture was on a trailer and stands, but with rain that didn't stop for 36 hours and dropped 21 inches on land that couldn't handle it, the mudslides and mess were inevitable. Michael reports that the Marina Seca folk are working non-stop to get things back together. The gate and guard house washed away, but patrols are keeping those who don't belong at bay; they won't even allow Michael to drive in to pump out SV and to dry her innards. He slogs through the mud twice a day, trying to pump the bilges on a boat that sits bow down, trying to dry the mattress and keep mold from growing. The marina office flooded, drowning computers. Boats on trailers slipped and slid into each other, but they've just about gotten these straightened and back in place. They say that none were structurally damaged, which has to be good news for the owners. The marina folk are pumping water out of boats. It will be a long time before they get to Sea Venture's decks and rudder. Mud swallows feet and shoes for bootless folk roaming the area. And they say it may be weeks before running water is restored. Pray, please, that it doesn't rain any more so that all these boats can dry out.

If we'd been in the water, our generator would keep Sea Venture drained and cool. Bad timing. Really bad timing. I suppose the Marina Seca folk couldn't imagine this happening, but I wish they had. At least they kept SV on the trailer so she didn't slip away. Only her dinghies did. We don't yet know how much damage they sustained.

I will be on the East Coast longer than planned, obviously. But poor Michael is there, coping. Being the MAN.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Boarding Ladder

We had these constructed while in Mazatlan, but now a friend wants to see them, so I'm posing the pics here. It's a great ladder, especially the seat that opens when it is fully extended, allowing us old folk to climb out of the water easily. It's a great place to sit to cool off on a hot day or to take off fins and masks before getting on the boat. Our friends on Daydreamer had one without the seat, a smaller version which Michael used as the genesis for this project design.

The first picture shows me lowering the steps. They can be lowered with one extension, which works for boarding from the dinghy or dock. With two extensions down, they go about 18 inches into the water, and completely opened, have the seat that you can see in the following picture, taken in Aqua Verde when Michael was cleaning the hull. That blue tube floating in the water is his hookah breathing hose.

For additional pictures of the ladder, see link to the right.

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View of Guaymas and Friend

I love herons. This fellow landed on a neighboring boat and soon decided he didn't like the view, so he turned around where he could watch the bay instead of the boat's windows. (Pictures loaded backwards.)

Michael's been spending a lot of time aloft recently, trying to deal with the Raymarine masthead wind transducer, the second of these to go south. This one didn't like the 50+ knots of wind it encountered off Isla Ceralvo back in May. Poorly made, it broke off and was hanging by I'm not sure what. He glued the broken pieces together for use until the back-ordered replacement arrives. On one of his trips, he took this picture of the cathedral in Guaymas.

Friday, August 14, 2009


We motored over to the Singlar Marina in Guaymas yesterday in the early hours before the wind piped up. It's hard to maneuver this old girl into a slip with cross winds. We're now moored next to our friends' boat, Thea Renee, whose occupants are at the moment enjoying their backyard pool and air conditioned house in California. We decided to enter a marina because Jesus, from Marina Seca, warned that the Chubascos coming in to Bahia San Carlos can hit 80 knots of wind and Sea Venture sat at anchor in the direct path of storm surge. We'd had no other choice there as smaller boats were moored all over the anchorage. Marina San Carlos offered us a more expensive slip on at outside tie, also in the way of the surge. We opted to wait for haul-out in Guaymas, perhaps not as picturesque as San Carlos, but within bus distance of stores and walking distance of restaurants. Hopefully, we'll search out an ice cream store this evening.

This morning, Michael took the photos of an osprey atop a neighbor's mast.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Isla San Marcos to San Carlos

These are the caves at the northwestern end of Isla San Marcos on Los Arcos. We snorkeled in the lee of the rocks. Lovely. As if we had our own aquarium of brightly colored fish.

Now we're in San Carlos. As Michael says, we've circumnavigated the Sea of Cortez. We left San Carlos in July of 2004 and we returned two days ago after almost five years of being in California or other Mexican waters. It's changed. We were surprised by the number of new waterfront homes built just north of Bahia San Carlos. We couldn't get close enough to see them, but we did take pictures of the lovely homes surrounding Bahia San Carlos.

We left Isla San Marcos at 3:45 AM, Sunday, with promises from the weather gurus of flat seas and 10-15 knots of breeze. Sweet Pea Cove was quiet in the early morning hours. We didn't want to bother with the mizzen cover in the dark, so we navigated by radar out and around. As soon as we cleared the north end of the island, the waves and wind hit us. Friends who left the day before had spoken to us on the Amigo Net and mentioned 6-8 foot seas at 10 second intervals, which would make them manageable. What we saw were 4-6 feet and 3-4 second intervals. Sloppy, choppy, and rolly...all the way across, mostly on the beam. We never could get that mizzen cover off; it would have been too dangerous in those seas, so we opened up the staysail and wasted more diesel. Thirteen hours later, we entered Bahia San Carlos, exhausted, but glad to be back.

The anchorage is crowded with boats on moorings and a few at anchor. Very few are occupied, which is why Michael kept watch last night when a chubasco came through with its high winds, driving rain, and thunder. He turned on the motor during the fiercest wind, keeping the boat pointed into it and watching for strays. That's the thing we worry about most in a anchorage. A boat that drags can run into us or uproot our anchor if it crosses our rode. With our 120 lb Spade and 250 feet of chain out, we weren't likely to drag unless some other force took over.

The fellows from Marina Seca came out yesterday. They'll fix our nonskid and do a few other chores needed on Sea Venture. Good men to stand by their work. But they can't start until the beginning of September, so we're moving tomorrow to Guaymas, to the Singlar Marina there. We like the Singlar/Fonatur marinas that line the Sea of Cortez. Each one is exactly alike: the same tower structure for offices, the same well built and maintained docks, the same pool/laundry/bath facilities. They always have a small tienda, and usually a nice restaurant on site. Our friends from Thea Renee have left their boat in Guaymas for the summer. It will be fun to see Erwin when he comes next week to check on the boat.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Iglesia Santa Barbara de Santa Rosalia

What a lovely service. A breeze wafted in the windows, but with the humidity approaching 100%, sweat drenched everything. Still, the music was enthusiastic, and the priest really got into his message. From what I could gather based on my limited Spanish/Italian, he spoke of not putting off a relationship with God. At one point, he discussed how short a time it really is between birth and death, and one fellow piped up with, "un ora!" An hour. The whole congregation laughed. The priest encouraged everyone to repent of the idle life of doing what feels good, and instead, to consider life eternal and a relationship with Jesus. A good word.

Note that the church was designed by Gustave Eiffel, of Parisian tower fame.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Santa Rosalia -- hot dogs and parties

We toured the town yesterday. Faye, Ken, and Michael scarfed down a few of the famous bacon-wrapped, coated-with-everything hot dogs at Chuyitas Hot Dog stand (open only after 6:30 PM, too late for me to pollute my insides with indigestibles), while I feasted instead on mango sorbet. At the church nearby, a family celebrated their daughter's quinceañera, or coming of age ceremony held on a girl's fifteenth birthday. According to Wikipedia, "The term Quinceaños refers to the birthday of the celebrant, and the term Quinceañera refers to the celebrant herself. Like many other coming-of-age ceremonies, the Quinceaños is associated with the Quinceañera 'becoming a lady.'" By the time we'd eaten, walked all over town, and returned by way of the church, the service was still going strong, with songs thanking God for the young lady and for all His blessings. We plan to attend there tomorrow, our first Mexican Catholic service.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Aqua Verde to Santa Rosalia

It's been a while since I last had enough bandwidth and/or time to post anything. The photos above show the lovely water at Aqua Verde again, where Michael is cleaning the hull. He used the hookah he's built, while I tackled the waterline using my snorkel.

We left Aqua Verde on July 1 and sailed north to Puerto Escondito, where we spent the next ten days on a mooring buoy, renting a car to drive into Loreto to restock the boat and get a liter of mango sorbet. Fireworks on the fourth at a small community of gringos just around the headland in a place called Juncalito were very well done. The restaurant at Escondito provided internet connection, but one had to buy something to use it, which didn't help the pocketbook. Following is a picture of a heron who had been keeping an eye on the water from this power boat's swimstep until we inched closer in our dinghy. In the July pictures linked to the right, you'll see him as he took flight.

On the tenth, we headed to Puerto Ballandra on Isla Carmen, a lovely island about 8 miles east of Loreto, which we visited on Saturday. Here's a picture of Sea Venture anchored off the town. Not a good spot for overnighting, as there's no protection, but it works well for a day trip. That's Isla Carmen in the background.

I really wanted to revisit a small anchorage called La Lancha. on the north side of the island that had wonderful snorkeling. Instead of clear skies, we woke to storm clouds. Michael checked the radar and saw several cells moving in our direction. These morphed into a full-scale chubasco, with slamming rain and forty-five knots of wind. He fired up the engine and motored into the waves just to keep the tension off the anchor rode. Not much fun. Afterward, we decided to return to the protection of Ballandra and spent a lovely week on the hook, playing dominoes with our friends Faye and Ken Husch from the trawler Genesis. I kayaked with Faye, and the four of us took the dinghies out to jig for bottom fish. I snagged a series of rocks and lost most of my bait. They pulled in several trigger fish. Oh, well.
Successful fishermen, Ken and Faye.

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Here, Faye and Ken teach us to play Mexican Train Dominoes. We've been having a great time in the cool of the boat, trying to beat them. Rarely have I seen folk who are as good with numbers. They put my poor brain to shame.

Following is a picture of the night fish that hovered near the boat in Ballandra. They did not make me want to swim after dark.

Both Genesis and Sea Venture needed a new supply of fresh veggies, which are in short supply except at the Sunday market in Loreto. This is a picture of the inside of a surprise find, a luxury hotel in the middle of town.

After overnighting in a beautiful anchorage off Isla Coronado, we motorsailed north to Caleta San Juanico, which Ken, whose boat always arrives first (two 120 Ford Lehman's to our one 90 hp, to which we added the big genoa for an hour of wind), said was much too exposed. The more secluded anchorage of La Ramada already had several boats in it and wouldn't hold us both. We ended up sending Genesis to La Ramada, while Michael and I tucked into the northeastern-most cove in San Juanico.

Michael surveyed the area in his dinghy with the portable depth sounder to determine if we'd hit bottom when the wind changed direction -- it ALWAYS changes direction -- and we circled our anchor with 125 feet of chain out. I jumped in the water and swam to the rocks for some glorious snorkeling. The water was clear, the fish abundant. M. returned to the boat to report that we had clear room all the way around...except in one little spot that would be close. Perhaps the wind wouldn't turn us that way.

The anchor alarm went off as the wind veered around in the wee hours. The moon was barely visible, but we watched the walls of rock loom off our stern. The depth sounder showed 10 feet under the keel, then, slowly, 9 feet, 8, 7, 6,5,4,until it settled out at 3.4 before slipping further into the circle and finding 6.5 again.

As beautiful as the anchorage was, it wasn't comfortable enough. As soon as Ken announced that La Ramada, around the headland, was emptying, we started the engine and drove to join them. La Ramada is one of my favorite spots, with some of the best snorkeling yet. M and I both swam to the rocks and snorkeled, watching the interaction of large and small fish, a largish black on snapping at Sergeant Majors to protect his territory. Great fun.

That is a picture of La Ramada as we sailed north, heading to Bahia Concepcion, an anchorage that left us sweating and very uncomfortable. We'd heard rumors of high temperatures; they weren't lying. While Michael recovered from heat or something fever-inducing, Faye, Ken, and I caught a ride into Mulege with an ex-pat gringo named Russ who owns Ana's Restaurant in Playa Santispac. Mulege is one of the sweetest little towns I've seen in Mexico. I wish we could visit again, but one can't sail there, and the river doesn't look like a pleasant dinghy ride.

We motored out of Concepcion and raised only the mizzen and staysail when we discovered the large whitecaps and hefty wind blowing off our stern quarter. It was a rocky ride around Isla San Marcos to meet Genesis at Sweet Pea Cove. What a place for sea life! I hope Michael took more than videos of the rays and whales. If so, I'll post them later. We spent only two days there before heading across to Santa Rosalia. We'll be here for a week, so more internet work later.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Anchoring in Bahia Aqua Verde

Here is how clear the water was in Aqua verde. That's the anchor buoy on top of the water and the anchor down 26.5 feet. Lovely snorkeling, lovely swimming.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

La Fuente: The BEST Ice Cream in the world


Mama, Michael, and I agree, the ice cream at La Fuente, on the Malecon in La Paz, has to be some of the best we've ever eaten, probably because it's made right on site. We took a quart of mango sorbet with us when we went to the islands for the second time, but we ate the last scoop two days before we returned to the city. We decided we had to have one last cone before driving Mama to Cabo and her flight home. Here she enjoys a scoop of banana and one of mango -- her favorite combination. Can you believe she ate the WHOLE thing? Not bad for 81 years. I just hope I'm as agile and excited about life when I'm her age. Go, Mama!
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