Thursday, March 26, 2015

Whale tales (from others)

This is just a short post about some whale encounters that have occurred with our friends.  We've encountered quite a few whales ourselves in our travels, but never very close and never with very good pictures/videos.  But I found these stories and pictures so interesting that I decided to share them.

Big Blue Encounter

First, a friend of ours from Berkeley, Bill Roberts, had chartered a trimaran out of Puerto Escondido (about 100 miles north of us) a few weeks ago.  His son Brock captured this video of a blue whale diving just below their boat.  It's only a few seconds long, but amazing to watch.  We will be up in that area in just a few weeks, and we are hoping to not have such a close encounter!

Whale Rescue

Second, we have some good friends aboard a boat called Del Viento.  They are a family with two girls (ages 9 & 12, I believe).  We have followed their blog for a couple years, and finally we got to meet them here in La Paz this winter.  The are all really wonderful people, and they have a great blog -- especially for kid-boats, because Michael collects links to blogs of cruising families.  Tessa loves playing with Frances and Eleanor.
Tessa asking Frances to come play with her some more ... after
she had already played with her for at least twenty minutes!
Frances is a great sport and plays with Tessa much more than
we would expect!  Michael and Windy are in the background;
sorry Eleanor that I didn't get you in this picture!

Anyway, back to the whale tale...  about three years ago the Del Viento crew encountered a whale stranded by fishing nets.  Michael wrote an amazing pair of blog posts about the encounter.  This occurred close to Isla Isabel, which we visited back in January (the same time of the year they were there in this story).  You have to read the blog to learn how it all turned out!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

unplugging for a while.....

We are now in La Paz for a few days, before we head out back to the islands and the coast of the Sea of Cortez.  The luxury of this city means have easy internet access (for simple things as email etc) through our Telcel sim card, as well as a Mexican phone that works. Once we leave here, these 2 devices won't work until we are in the a bigger town again, which won't be the case for a few weeks. This is all by choice, as we like to explore the next 120 miles slowly with plenty of anchorages to choose from. So, we are relying on our SSB radio for weather forecasts, and simple email communications. We will be using morning amateur radio nets to check in with other cruisers (and there will be plenty other cruisers here), or relaying if there are any urgent needs.  The Sea of Cortez is gorgeous wilderness, and thus we shall live like that (today someone mentioned to us to watch out for rattlesnakes).

It's easy to getting used to pay someone for doing your laundry, and pick it up clean and folded the next day. All for the price that is less than going to a laundromat in the US. I guess we won't need much clothing the next few weeks......or we can finally start working magic with that dedicated laundry plunger I bought and an old fashioned wringer. Might be a fun family activity.

Ah food, well aside for hoping to catch some fish, stocking up now with big stores available in La Paz is a good idea. However in the heat, fresh food doesn't last that long, and our fridge is only so big. Getting creative with cans will be on the menu, as well as adjusted our culinary expectations.

Although our water maker takes it super sweet time to produce water (like 6 gallons per hour), I'm happy we have it, so we won't have to ration any water, or go faster to the next town. As a side note, we have been amazed that almost all marina's we have visited do not have potable water on their dock (Paradise Village and Marina La Paz are the exceptions). Cruisers buy large (5 gallons) bottles of water and have these delivered to their boat.  We have done that ourselves in areas where we feel the water is not clear enough to make our own water (like in the lagoon of Barra de Navidad, but also in La Cruz).

no problems making water when you can see your own anchor
in such clear and clean water

So a few more days of walking to stores in very pleasant La Paz, eating out, doing taxes while we have internet, and hanging out with other cruising families. And, enjoying the cool evenings and mornings!

bug screens for all our hatches is a must here, dengue fever was quite rampant
in La Paz last year, and bees are active in the Sea too
chick love near the Malecon

Thursday, March 19, 2015

birthday on the sea

"Put all these pawns on this line", Tod says. Tessa had asked "let's play chess", and she gets our chess board out. She puts the king, queen and bishops in line on the table, and says " papa, mama, petra, alice" (she clearly remembers you gals, and many of our friends in Berkeley, and at the most odd times names of friends come up). So fun, how the brain of an almost 3 yr old works. Well, most of the time, the fun part. The chess game lasts 5 minutes, (Tod was frustrated that she refused to follow the rules!), now we are back on playing with the balloons. It is Tod's birthday, and we do a mini celebration during our 220 nautical miles/40 hr passage from Mazatlan to Espiritu Santo Island near La Paz. 

Crossing the Sea of Cortez can be a challenge, but we can't complain. The seas are flat, not much wind though, so our iron lady and autopilot do the work. We left Mazatlan around 4 PM, and we actually had both sails out for a bit. I finally got to see the repair Tod had done to the jib 2 months ago. That tells you how much we sail in mexico. Tod was rather disappointed when I told him the rolling motion down below wasn't so comfortable when we sailed compared to the motion when we run the engine. Yes, I admit, a bit strange coming from the mouth of a former US sailing instructor. Give me lots of wind and not much swell, and I love sailing... This passage started with thunder and lightening closer by than what we had expected. We put our back-up handheld GPS in the oven, just in case, got all our fire extinguishers close by and added finishing the lightening grounding to our #1 on the project list. In the end, all the drama was gone in 10 minutes, and we got to enjoy a great rainbow.

helm position, with sun shade sides Tod added to his bimini, super helpful!
We left La Cruz early Wednesday morning, after a fun get together on the boat of our friends s/v Let It Be the afternoon before. We decided to bash up non stop to Mazatlan, instead of stopping along the way during the 180 miles passage. It was the right decision as it was an easy overnite trip, and the nice pool of El Cid marina was a welcome reward for us all.
about 180 miles from La Cruz to Mazatlan El Cid

and then about 220 miles to Espiritu Santu

This is our last long passage of the season. We will put Bliss on the hard in a yard during hurricane season by the end of May, and will fly back to the US. For the next 2.5 months, we get to enjoy the beauty of the Sea of Cortez again. And enjoy we will! We arrived at 8 AM at Ensenada el Cordinal on Isla Espiritu Santo, and it's at places like this why we know traveling by boat can be amazing. Sure, we enjoyed the Pacific Coast of Mexico, but you can go there by any means of transport, and enjoy it the same (and hey, you don't even have to do unpleasant overnite trips). But places like the Sea of Cortez are made for exploring by boat, and a fair amount of remote places can only be reached by boat. Exploring this beauty above and below the water with the comfort of you home close by is for sure hard to beat. And doing that in company of friends is even better. Thanks to Sherilyn and George aboard s/v Believe, Tod and I even got to snorkel together, while Tessa played on their boat.

yikes, that ebb got us by surprise, our muscles got some exercise

Saturday, March 7, 2015

finding our groove

It took a while, but I finally feel we are finding our groove with this nomadic lifestyle. Like so many things, over time things do get easier. It also helps that we are now back in familiar waters, and visit places we have been before. Locals start to recognize us, and ask me where my bambina is when I'm by myself. Like many other cruisers, we are preparing to head back North, and visit the Sea of Cortez again.  We will follow the same path North as we did coming down the Pacific Coast of Mexico. And although overnite passages don't get easier with a toddler aboard, especially going upwind, we have done quite a few now, and know what to expect.

Boat projects, they always be there, but we are not looking at our list anymore. At least for now. No need to, as an unexpected project will always invites itself to the top of the list (think macerator pump, the pump that so nicely removes our waste from our holding tanks into the ocean). As you can imagine, a not so fun dirty project. With no place to buy extra long screws, Tod made them himself. Tod is working on another unexpected one now: the carburetor of our outboard. I had problems getting it started yesterday, while at the dinghy dock with Tessa in la Cruz. A nice young fellow started it for me, and just after he threw off the dock line, it died again. He must have heard the slight panic in my voice, as he just jumped into the water, pulled our dinghy back to the dock, and re started it. I could kiss his feet, so helpful and sweet! Tessa isn't so into divers, so started to cry during this ordeal, while I kept saying it's OK, he's helping us. I then just zoomed back into the anchorage, somewhat believing that if I kept the throttle up high enough it wouldn't die....Yes, we do have oars in the dinghy, but let's just say it would take a long time to get back into the anchorage.

The tiny pool in marina La Cruz was occupied with 4 cruising families this morning. We had 4 two yr olds, and one 4 yr old splashing in the pool. It was the first time for us to have this many families together with young kids. Most cruising kids we meet are older.

Lots of gorgeous swimming and snorkeling ahead of us in the clear water of the Sea. With
Tessa being comfortable swimming and floating, we are looking forward to do more water activities with her.  We hope to see my sister, hubbie and doggie Piper with their boat in the sea. Meet old friends and make new ones. See familiar places and explore new ones.

tessa is the only one wearing a helmet....and an auwie happened when running

the town square is where the action is for kids

we crave for something different than Mexican food, and this wood brick oven delivered

"mama, let me show you the white horse" 

the only traffic light in town

our favorite ice cream place

dinghy dock in marina La Cruz, ours in front with yellow painted outboard

La Cruz anchorage seen from Malecon