30 November 2011

A taste of Mexico

Like most travelers,P1030240 (1280x960) Carol and I eat our way through the countries we visit. Nice food, street food, you name it, we’re fearless. If the locals are eating it, we’ll try it.

Here is a very simple taste of Mexico that I fell in love with, which most of you can recreate easily in your home.

  • Buy radishes and limes.
  • If the radishes are small, leave whole. If large, cut into thick rounds.
  • Squeeze some lime onto the radish.
  • Sprinkle some salt on it.
  • Devour.

Absolutely delicious. Totally different than just a raw radish.

29 November 2011

Margaritaville

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Now that we are in the land of warm water and sunshine, the liquid motivation is going down even more quickly!

A very warm (or frosty as it were) thank you to the clickers for the ad revenue which bought us a good supply of margarita fixings. Together with the huge amount of limes we purchased, we look forward to using these bottles to make some homemade margaritas.

We leave for the islands surrounding La Paz tomorrow and these will go well with the perfect beaches at the National park that includes Islas Espiritu Santo, Partida and San Francisco.

Thank you to Donna for the “Donnaritas” recipe and to Tucker aboard Convivia for the tequila recommendations.

28 November 2011

Los Frailes

At anchor - Los FrailesWhat didn’t we do in Los Frailes?

Within 5 minutes of dropping our anchor in the late afternoon we had the swim ladder down and were in the water.

That night we met and enjoyed the hospitality of Patrick and Dawn on Deep Playa. We hope to return the favor soon.

Sweaty hikers above Los Frailes
We hiked up 750’ to the top of the ridge to see our lovely boat floating in blue green water, from up high for the first time. By the way, contrary to the guidebook, the trail is fairly well established and marked. It can be difficult to find the start, but look closely where the trail is indicated in the guidebook for pink ribbon. I added a cairn at the start to help indicate the trailhead but I doubt it will last. Add your own cairn if you come.

We snorkeled. We attempted some kiteboarding (not enough wind). We chilled out.

The area around Los Frailes has (supposedly) the only hard coral in the Sea of Cortez.

Livia decides to catch some wee fish Don't eat the poison sac Hard Coral - Los Frailes

27 November 2011

Images from the Sea of Cortez

As per usual, hover over images for descriptions/locations:Los Frailes cactus in bloomLos Frailes cactusCarol the snorkel fish Another shot of Neptune's finger with surf Los Frailes - at anchor

26 November 2011

Cruising with a kayak

(We were hacked yesterday - apologies about the "swim caps" post.)

About once a month we get an email asking us where we bought our kayak and whether we like it. We have been avoiding reviewing it until we tried it out as a snorkel platform  because that is one of the top reasons we bought the kayak. We’re in warmer waters, snorkeling with the kayak so now we feel we can give it a better review.

We bought ours at West Marine and then later learned that it is actually an Advanced Elements kayak made for WM. You can get them on Amazon and we’ve seen them at water sports stores. Our overall review is: we would buy it again if it were lost or stolen. High praise!


Pros:
  • We love the fact that we can stow the kayak in our lazarette when we want to, not an option with a hard kayak.
  • The inflatable kayak is super stable. We can stand in it which makes getting in and out of the kayak from the boat easy (especially with our fender step).
  • We’ve used it in conditions (wind, waves) where we probably shouldn’t have, especially on Vancouver Island, and it performs surprisingly well for an inflatable. If you buy one, make sure to get the backbone. We found it makes a big difference in tracking.
  • It’s tough. We’ve put several holes in our dinghy and none in our kayak despite the fact that we use our kayak much more often than our dinghy and we drag it up and down rocky beaches.
  • The sides are soft and it is very easy for us to get back into the kayak from the water without scraping our skin. It is also soft on our boat—meaning that it doesn’t bang the gel coat in the water or when bringing it aboard.
  • We like the fact that you can move one seat to the middle position as well so you can paddle it as a single more easily.
  • It can carry a lot of cargo. We can strap stuff on the bow and stern, pack stuff in by our feet or paddle it as a single with jerry cans in it.
Cons:
  • Inflating and deflating is a pain in the arse.
  • The wind catches the puffy tubes and makes paddling in a straight line in windy conditions more difficult.
  • It does not track as well as a hard kayak and it takes more energy to paddle because it is less streamlined.
  • It’s wider (beamier) because of the tubes so we found we needed longer paddles than we expected.
  • I wish the seats were a bit sturdier/more supportive. Maybe newer models are?
  • The zippers get crusted with salt and are difficult to use. I’m not sure how the manufacturer could fix this.

25 November 2011

Snorkeling in Cabo San Lucas

Hover over images for descriptions:

The pangas feed the fish to amuse tourists Carol dives down the side of the rock Our kayak anchor is down and lunch and beers are up Another ad for the WM kayak - can we get sponsored? Neptune's finger and Neptune is apparently pissed off Livia checks out the rocks for climbing potential

24 November 2011

JABS

I’m not certain whether Zero to Cruising coined the phrase “JABS” but I heard it first from them. It is an acronym for “Just Another Beautiful Sunset” and it refers to the fact that the sunset, and the sunrise on most passages, is a daily part of cruisers’ lives. How often did I sit and watch either when I was in my home?

Also, one of our videos of a simultaneous moonrise and sunset while departing Catalina wasn't working earlier but I've now fixed it on the original post if you want an action shot.

Just a few of our beautiful sunrises in Mexico so far:

Approaching Bahia Santa MariaApproaching Bahia Santa Maria
Leaving Cabo San Lucas
Bahia Santa Maria

23 November 2011

Cabo San Lucas

Anchored in Cabo with party boats We loved it.

Yes, it is a rolly anchorage (although Los Frailes was rollier for us). Yes, it is a madhouse of pangas, jet skis and parasailing. But Cabo is one of those truly beautiful locations that attracted people because of its beauty and over the course of years of tourism became a megacheesy town. If you have been to Phi Phi in Thailand, Cabo felt similar to us. Phi Phi is also stunningly beautiful and a full on frat party at the same time.

Anchor in crystal clear water

P1030133 (960x1280) The water was crystal clear. The beaches on the point were lovely. The snorkeling was fun. There was a local brewery (thank you Nicole!) where we had icy cold pints.

Why am I showing you this slightly blurry picture (left)? Cabo was the first time that we could see our anchor chain and anchor all of the way on the floor of the ocean 25 feet below us. Carol dove down and cleaned our prop because, for the first time, he could see it clearly AND the water was warm.

We stayed 3 nights. The port authority (API) wants money for anchoring (200 pesos we were told) and will occasionally come around the anchorage asking for it (not mentioned in the guidebook – perhaps new).

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22 November 2011

Bahia Santa Maria

P1030092 (960x1280)On the way to Bahia Santa Maria three milestone events happened: we caught our first dorado/mahi mahi, Carol had food poisoning and our friends hit a whale. And at Bahia Santa Maria our third milestone: flipping over a dinghy with its outboard engine on while surfing into shore.

The first is a milestone for obvious reasons. Dorado = Flaky white fish, perfect for grilling or making ceviche.

The second was a milestone because we had to deal with the fact that one of us was ill on passage. We were just starting our second night of a two night passage when Carol went down hard. I had to find a way to stand watch from 22:30 until we anchored at 08:30.

After handfuls of dark chocolate espresso beans (thanks Mom and Dad!), I enjoyed a hard earned glorious sunrise at the entrance to Bahia Santa Maria. P1030104 (1280x960)The experience has me thinking about how to handle such events in the future, or what to do if we both were sick. I’m glad that I had rested well the first 24 hours and also that we had some mild stimulants (caffeine) and symptom alleviation meds aboard. I’m also glad that Carol was able to helm while I dropped anchor. I’ve done that singlehanded before but not while sleep deprived.

We’ll let Bella Star tell the whale tale.

Bahia Santa Maria was beautiful but we were pinned down by our recovery (Carol from illness and me from lack of sleep) and also by strong winds for the first 48 hours. The following morning we had Aaron and Nicole aboard for post-whale-mashing crepes and made plans for a day on the long sand beach at the North end of the bay. Unfortunately, instead of pictures of us cavorting in the sand, I have pictures of us working on outboard engines because while making our landing attempt, we turtled. No one was hurt and we quickly hauled all of our kit to the beach, except part of a pair of sunglasses which remained AWOL.

I’m thankful that all 4 of us are good sports and team players. Otherwise, the experience could have moved from “epic” to “extraordinarily painful” quickly. As it was, we got the dinghy relaunched with the guys in it so they could row to our boat and get a dry outboard and come rescue the remainder of the crew (clearly a blue job, eh?). They came back in, staying outside of the surf line, and Nicole and I swam out to the dinghy.

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Dinghy maintenance was paired with cervezasand the planned but uneaten picnic aboard Estrellita . Both engines were purring (or at least running as well as before) by the time the afternoon was over. Good job guys!

21 November 2011

Bahia Tortugas

P1030081 (1280x960) Turtle Bay has no turtles. Did it ever? No idea. Seems likely.

We arrived with a few goals: have our 500 day party with Bella Star, grab some fresh produce, drink some cold cervezas, eat some tacos, and fill two jerry cans with diesel. With the exception of good tacos (apparently most eateries that were open for the Baja Haha closed shortly afterward), mission accomplished.

When I say “Honey, will you take out the trash and fill up the car?”, this is what happens:

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P1030087 (960x1280) Getting a tow after a trip into town from Bella Star (left).

There was a tackle/bait shop so we bought some lures, several of which we promptly lost to (we think) marlin on our way out of town. We did catch our first dorado just South of Bahia Tortugas (photos to follow). Delicious ceviche material.

We met some of the cruisers, met some of the locals, and generally just relaxed and did small errands. It felt like we were cruising again instead of in transit. It’s a sleepy little town with not much going on which was just right for us. It was warm. The sun was shining.

18 November 2011

Cedros Island

VIDEO FRIDAY

Slowly raising anchor at sunrise while the dolphins play around our boat.

17 November 2011

The Critter Report

Lobster
Visitor Visitor
 Pelican

16 November 2011

Sand dollars move

Did you know this already? Am I the only ignoramus in the crowd? These photos are from San Quintin which had this gorgeous gold fleck in the sand below the high tide line.

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15 November 2011

We are not on the unlimited plan

Our utilities aboard are not only heavily monitored, they are finite. We have 66 gallons of water. We can replenish our tanks with our watermaker. That takes electricity. Electricity comes from our battery bank, which is replenished with solar panels primarily but also from our engine and from a portable gas generator. When we bring food aboard, for the most part, we carry it on our backs*. We have wifi sporadically and good wifi less often.

When we see unlimited sources of either electricity or water, or when someone offers to drive us to a store, we are hyperaware of the usefulness of that resource. So aware, that we have systems and plans for what we will do when we have access to an unlimited supply. Unlimited water and electricity primarily occur when we pull into a dock although sometimes we have unlimited water while fueling which means a mad dash on my part to use it in every way possible while Carol is fueling.

Water binge: We hose down the boat, wash the floor, rinse the sinks thoroughly in a way we don't when we are being water conscious. We pull out piles of gear like salty foul weather gear, lifejackets, ropes, docklines, throw them in our cockpit well and start hosing them down. We fill up every water bottle we own, our tea kettle, our 2L nalgene bottles, and sometimes extra collapsible jugs. We hose down our sails, our anchoring gear, our cockpit seat cushions. If we have water for a few days or know we are about to take on water, we take extra long showers (which feel luxurious to us) in which I might even use rinse out conditioner (rather than leave-in).

Electricity binge: We plug everything in that runs on batteries and charge them fully. This means 3 laptops, one ereader, one gaming device, two camera batteries, and our spotlight. We enjoy movie night with our laptop plugged in – maybe even a double feature. We vacuum every nook and cranny of the boatwith our wee AC vacuum . We may even go crazy and turn our fridge on high.

Groceries: If we are being driven to the grocery, we load the cart with everything we need and/or love having aboard but is too heavy to carry much of in backpacks: juice, sparkling water, motor oil, coolant, canned goods, booze, sacks of rice and flour. If we are on foot, we have a rule that we don't pass a grocery on the way home without bringing a few bags with us. If we remember to do this, bag by bag, we stay relatively topped up without having to do any epic groceries on foot.

Wifi: In addition to the normal internet banking errands, the social media errands, and the photos, videos and posts for this blog, we keep a list of things we want to do the next time we have internet. This list includes “things we want to wiki” – crazy, huh? This list is in…our book of lists. Seriously, we have a book of lists.

*I’ve never understood the question “how do you get exercise on a boat?”. I row, paddle, winch, crack, haul, lift and (soon) swim. I may not get as much of certain kinds of exercise as I like, but I am certainly not lacking for exercise generally. Now, whether we eat too well on board is another story…

13 November 2011

Before and After: Fishing for dinner

Yellowtail (wee)Ceviche tacos

Pacific Bonito (wee) BBQd Bonito with fresh sprouts and rice

Shovelnose Guitarfish - released

((Released!))

12 November 2011

Boarded by the Mexican Navy

While at Bahia Tortugas, one day all of the cruising boats anchored in the bay were boarded by the local Navy. One boat tried to sail out and were headed off by a fast moving boat and ordered to wait for the inspection.

Mexican Navy boarding party

The officers were courteous and efficient when they came onto our boat. They boarded the boat without any damage to our vessel (always a concern when someone comes alongside). They asked to see our documentation, clearance, and fishing licenses, examined our radio, looked inside our storage areas and then left.

11 November 2011

Breaching whales

VIDEO FRIDAY If you are very patient with my amateur videography, and wait until I realize I have zoom on my camera, you can share the experience of watching humpbacks breaching with us - between San Quintin and Cedros Island:

09 November 2011

Not in the Baja Haha

One of the most frequently asked questions we received in California* is “Are you doing the Baja Haha?”. For the non-boaters, this is a group of boats that leaves San Diego and loosely travels together to 3 set anchorages in a relatively fast pace to get to Cabo San Lucas (the 3rd and last anchorage). We have friends who are part of this rally and can think of lots of good reasons to go.

We give a lot of polite answers but our main reasons for not going are that we like to sail and consequently we like to pick our weather so that we can sail** AND we didn’t want to move so fast down the coast only hitting 3 stops. As it turns out, we’ve been booking down the coast. Not as fast as the Haha but faster than intended because we wanted warmth all day, sunshine, and warmer waters.

Despite not attending, it was very fun to sail overnight from San Quintin to Cedros Island in the company of the Haha boats. Why? Because we are shameless eavesdroppers. We keep our radio on scan when we are surrounded by boats which means that whenever someone starts chatting our radio stops on that channel and we can listen in. The old telephone “party line” is a part of life in modern cruising because of the use of VHF and HF radios.

We arrived in Turtle Bay the day the Haha left this anchorage and would like to dispel the myth that they use up all of the provisions. The stores here have plenty of food. There is fuel. There is beer. I will say that we have found out that the prices, particularly of beer, but also of panga (boat taxi) rides go down when the Haha’ers leave. But, unfortunately, so do some of the small food stands that open just for their business.

*Incidentally, the most common question we get from Canadian cruisers is whether we are BCA (Bluewater Cruising Association) members. We are not although we’ve attended some of their talks.
**Carol and I have been percolating a post on setting ourselves up for sailing. To be written.

08 November 2011

Non-liquid motivation

With Amazon affiliate money, and money from kindle books (which I set up but never intended to advertise - whomever found them is a good spy!), we bought books for...drumroll...the South Pacific.

Are we going? Well, for planning reasons our normal approach of "we'll decide later" was becoming difficult. We decided to prepare as if we are jumping this March/April 2012 and if we change our minds, we change our minds.

At Downwind Marine in San Diego we bought the brand spanking new version of Charlie's Charts for French Polynesia. Using Totem's most excellent review of S Pacific guides, via Amazon, we added Sailingbird's Guide to the Kingdom of Tonga and  Exploring the Marquesas Islands.

Again, thank you to those who use our amazon affiliates to buy things, either by bookmarking the link or using the box on our website. Free guidebooks for cruisers!!

07 November 2011

Making our Q-flag

BOATWORK WHILE UNDERWAY MONDAY!

The reason we had to make our own Q-flag is we forgot to buy one. For the non-boaters, this yellow flag is what you fly before you have cleared into a country. It is Q for quarantine—as in, don’t approach us because we haven’t officially been admitted.

IMG_5970 (1280x853) As we were leaving Tofino I ran into a dollar store looking for something yellow to make the flag and found a yellow fabric shopping bag for $1. With some plastic tent grommets we had aboard, I made a Q-flag which we flew for the first time at anchor in Ensenada.

Et voila:

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