Monday, April 30, 2012

Day 19

Today's Reading:

Distance traveled since yesterday:  120 miles
Distance to destination:  2,451 miles

Arlete sent a short message as follows:  Since Cabo, headwind for 4 days.  Now 2 days of very light wind.  Progress is slow.  All is well.
Dick created a makeshift partial “bow net” for the port side. There were a few additional lines criss-crossing the rest of the space which would hopefully be enough to catch the staysail when it was dropped.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Day 18

Today's reading:
Distance traveled since yesterday:  89
Distance to destination:  2,505
Winds very light, tying off the wheel not working. The on-watch person must sit at the helm and steer. Not good.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Day 17

Today's readings:
Distance traveled since yesterday:  112
Distance to destination:  2,585
A big improvement occurred today: Dick rigged a way to tie the wheel. Once the sails were balanced and the wheel tied, it was possible to be on watch, sit on a cockpit cushion and read while the boat steered itself. Every 15 minutes, you had take a good look at the horizon, searching for freighters that might be coming your way. Result: a noticeable reduction in physical exhaustion.
The sea state moderated somewhat, not as much rocking and rolling, not as much water getting into the boat. And then the wind died. But I thought we were in the trade winds.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Day 16

Today's reading:
Distance traveled since yesterday:  69 miles
Distance to destination:  2,692 miles
Off-watch sleeping took place on the settee. 
The boat continued to lurch, slam and bang. 3-hour watches depleted every ounce of energy. I felt I had to stare at the compass the entire time, a death grip on the wheel, actively steering to keep the boat on course while standing with feet apart to maintain balance. Off watch, I would fall immediately into a deep sleep. Water began leaking onto the salon floor and into two of the floor compartments where food was stored. It was a manageable problem with lots of towels on the floor which had to be wrung out a couple times a day.

Day 15 (4-26-2012)

Day 14 - no reading
The sheets on the drifter snapped apart and the sail went fluttering to port. We were able to roll it back onto the roller furler. The staysail was hoisted on the inner forestay. The seas were still rough, I was not doing well.
Day 15 - Readings:
Distance Traveled since last reading:  207 miles
Distance to Destination:  2,763 miles
The bow nets have torn away. The dinghy was now in jeopardy, so it had to be taken apart, folded up, and lashed to port bow.
The drifter had to come down so the genoa could be put onto the roller furler. In what I thought was a crazy heroic effort, Dick climbed out on the cross tube wearing three tethers to keep him ON the boat.
 Then we almost lost it in the ocean when the halyard came loose and unthreaded from the top of the mast.
 Dick quickly grabbed the loose end of the halyard and pulled his favorite sail onboard.  Whew!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Day 13

Today's reading:
Distance Traveled since Yesterday:  40 miles
Distance to Destination:  2,953 miles

This morning’s Sonrisa net weather forecast mentioned there has been “an abnormal number of days with light to no winds.” Yup, we’ve noticed.

The large number of fishing boats means Cabo San Lucas is nearby.

As we rounded the cape around 2 pm, the wind began to blow in earnest and we’d broken free of Mexico’s grasp. We were on our way. The GPS said 2549 nautical miles to Hilo Hawaii. By 5:30, we were beating at 9 knots into 20 knots of wind. The night would turn out to be horrible from my point of view: lots of sail changes or adjustments. I would have to wake up to take the helm so Dick make the changes. The boat was lurching about. This was not fun at all.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Day 12

Today's readings:

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Day 11

Today's readings:
So many sailboats we’ve seen in the Sea of Cortez don’t use their sails but rather motor from one place to another. Long ago, we decided not to rely on our engine, but rather take what the wind gave us and deal with it. But what patience this takes. It’s been 10 days, we’re still in Mexico moving along at a snail’s pace.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Day 10

Today's readings:
This cruiser came by and asked if we had any diesel we could sell him. His boat is being powered by an outboard on the dinghy lashed to the side.

Light or no wind. At night, puffs of heavy breathing from whales and the glow of Cabo San Lucas to the west-southwest.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Day 9

Day 8 had no movement, but it looks like they are on the move again.

Today's readings:
A light breeze began to blow in the afternoon. By 3:30, we were on our way again. Los Islotes, home to a colony of sea lions. (Cousin Glenn from Regina Saskatchewan swan here with the sea lions in January 2011.)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Day 7

No wind today.  And maybe none tomorrow.  Staying put until wind comes up again.
The Sonrisa net said “no wind” for the next couple of days, so we stayed put and completed more tasks.

Dick figured out how and why water was getting in the boat. It was the bilge-pump outflow hose. The ½-inch fitting is about 10 inches above the water line - no problem in relatively calm water. But in bigger seas, water comes in. The permanent fix is to install a one-way valve which we don’t have. Temporary solution: push a piece of sponge into the opening from the outside.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Day 6

Today's Readings:
Because some fishermen came by and told us there would be much more wind today, we decided to relocate further south. We motored for 4½ hours to Ensenada Grande on Isla Partida. Not a single problem with the outboard … go figure. Hundreds of dolphins in a feeding frenzy:
 Ensenada Grande is picturesque:

 To the left, a small National Geographic cruise ship. On the right, a mega-yacht.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Day 5

Arlete phoned me this morning, to tell me that they are anchored at Isla San Francisco, at the same position as yesterday.  They have had to change their destination to Hilo, Hawaii, instead of French Polynesia.  Hilo's position is N19.44, W155.04 if anyone is interested in plotting. They discovered that either their polynesian gps is faulty or the card is wrong, and they can't go there without charts.

They are anchored because there were several small things they felt they needed to attend to on the boat before rounding the corner of Baja and heading across to Hawaii.  Dick is making whatever small repairs are needed, and they expect to be moving again either tomorrow or the next day.  She wouldn't tell me what the repairs are (I did ask) - she will blog their entire trip when they arrive at their destination.  They still expect the passage to take 14-16 days from the time they leave their current position.  (Phyllis)

I just read (on 24 May, in Hilo HI) what Phyl wrote above - what a big laugh that was to think it would only be 14-16 days!  And I didn't tell her (and you) about the repairs because I didn't want anyone to worry.

Dick spent the whole day working on the starboard steering - fixed!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Day 4

Today's Readings:

Total Distance Traveled Since Departure:
237 miles

A day for rest and repairs. Get this - with no additional tinkering, the outboard started and ran just fine! All the broken starboard steering stuff was disassembled, everything is ready for tomorrow’s repair.
On the beach was a rustic fisherman’s camp.

A larger and more popular anchorage is on the other side of this point. There were about 20 boats at anchor.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Day 3

First I need to apologize for anyone following this, and who tried to plot yesterdays coordinates.  Darren let me know thankfully that I had made a typo and put Dick and
Arlete in the Sahara!  Not!!  I corrected Day 2 readings and here are todays.  Thanks, Darren.  (Phyllis)

Todays readings:
Each morning at 6:30, we listened to the weather report on the Sonrisa net. Every day there was a prediction for good wind which never materialized. Today, I’m felt less seasick, thank goodness, but still didn’t feel like eating much. Our plan was to anchor at Isla San Francisco so Dick could fix the rudder steering. As Dick was readying the anchor bridle, lowering the outboard into position, and setting up the depth sounder, I was at the helm and entertained by a pod of whales.

 Finally Dick had to say, "Arlete, steer the boat."  Oh yeah, I forgot about that part.  Isla San Francisco up ahead, although we need to anchor on the other side.

The outboard was fired up and ran just fine … for about 10 minutes. Then it died and would NOT start. Dick repaired some corroded wires, but it still would not start. With the sun beginning to set and because if the wind angle we had to work with, we sailed to anchor in a tight little cove, just to the north of the main anchorage. Once anchored bow and stern, we fell into an exhausted sleep.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Day 2

Todays readings: 
25.433, -110.199
The wind died in the afternoon, the sails came down. That’s when Dick saw the rudders were positioned to oppose each other, sort of like this / \ - not good - the starboard rudder steering cable had broken. The autopilot didn’t sound good when activated and Dick said we might have to handsteer. What? This was a depressing turn of events for me. But for Dick, the most discouraging development was water getting into both hulls. Where was it coming from? How was this possible? This would preoccupy his mind until he figured it out.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Departure Day

I am posting for Arlete while she and Dick are sailing.  Yesterday, she gave me the long/lat for their current position in Guaymas.  She indicated by a phone call that they were leaving that position sometime between 6pm last night and 6 am this morning.  She will be sending me their position at approximately noon every day and I will post their current daily position. 
Yesterday their position was:   27.895833,-110.863333
Todays reading is:  27.1131,-110.4223. 
They are on their way!
Before dawn, about to leave El Mero, the panga docks:
All is well, but not for long.
The wind was brisk and we were tight-reaching with not much room for error. At one point the sails became back winded then flogged about wildly. Finally, the situation was corrected but why was the boat so hard to steer?  And I was so seasick. The only places that felt halfway good were laying down and sleeping or being at the helm. I was able to do my 3-hour watches, but other than that I slept. Dick doesn’t get seasick, at all, ever.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Departure delayed

This was supposed to be our departure day, our 9th wedding anniversary, but it was filled with … going back to Guaymas to retrieve the forgotten computer from Patsy & Tony’s van (Ron is at right);
filling the gasoline container (big thanks to Burt from Island Girl who not only carried the jerry can, but also drove me to and from the marina);
lunch with Roberto, Panchis, Pepito, Grace, and Ivan - the shrimp and octopus cóctel was delicious! (Thank you, Panchis);
final boat preparations;

and watching opening day for the collection of aguamalas (bad waters) also known as bolas de cañon (cannonballs) - a type of jelly fish. The pangas began coming in early in the morning so loaded down with the netted catch there was only about 6” of freeboard. While one steered, the other three stood in blue slimey seawater processing the aguamalas - pulling out the guts and short tentacles, throwing them into one part of the panga, tossing the main body into another area.

When finished, the pangas pulled up to the dock where refrigerated trucks were waiting.
Men with clipboards waited to record the name of the boat and number of crates unloaded.
Roberto said aguamalas are not part of Mexican cuisine but are shipped to Japan and China.
Officials from immigración showed up at the boat in the late afternoon to make sure we’d left, which we hadn’t. We explained our exhaustion and they gave us until tomorrow morning.
And then, to top it off, Dick discovered the GPS memory card for French Polynesia was defective. It showed NO details whatsoever - it would be impossible to navigate safely without. So we decided to sail for Hilo, Hawaii instead.

Happy Birthday Sophia

A few days ago, Sophia celebrated her third birthday at gymnastics place in Sacramento.  She was very excited to be able to celebrate her third birthday with friends and family.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

On the eve of departure

This is what we’ve been waiting for: sailing away. Since sailors are NEVER supposed to say or write that you are sailing “to” a place, we will be sailing “toward” Rikitea on the island of Mangareva in Iles Gambiers, French Polynesia. 
We’ve been watching the weather forecast for the Sea of Cortez. Tomorrow there will be a nice breeze from the NNW, perfect to push us southward.

This blog will not lie dormant. My cousin Phyllis will receive a daily GPS location by satellite phone and will post it to the blog along with distance traveled and miles to go. If you would like to know exactly where we are, you can enter our latitude and longitude coordinates at - just scroll down to the lower right part of the page.

Know that we are as prepared as possible. We are carrying 150 gallons of water (about 7 weeks worth), two full propane tanks, and so much food - certainly plenty of oatmeal.

How long will it take us? Last year, it took Dick Darren & Haruka 22 days on Cool Cat to get to the Marquesas.  Our navigation program calculates a 16-day passage for this month of the year, but we’ll see. Speed is not our goal, rather getting there safely and comfortably. In other words, don’t worry! Really, do not worry. If you don’t see a daily blog post, don’t panic, it doesn’t mean something horrible has happened. Like the sat phone fell overboard or a lightening strike zapped our electronics.  Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.  Stay tuned.   

Checking out of Mexico

MondayFirst stop: Port Captain to fill out the paperwork for a “zarpe” - the official leaving-the-country document. Everything went slowly but nicely until he asked for proof regarding our arrival at Marina Singlar and our final departure dates. He called the marina to explain and that we would come by to pick it up.

2nd stop: Marina Singlar. Ariana said she didn’t understand what the port captain wanted exactly, but she would write a letter which had to be signed by Ted the manager, but Ted hadn’t arrived in the office yet.

3rd stop: Immigration. We had our passports and tourist visas inspected. Dick got in trouble because his “very important” tourist visa was tattered around the edges (it had gone through the wash). Eventually we got our passports stamped, although we had to ask them to do this. The official wanted to know exactly what time we would be leaving. 4:00? if there’s wind. “OK, you should leave between 3 and 4:00. 3:30 would be best.”

4th stop: Sam’s Club to buy a package of D cell batteries. This is the only place in Guaymas to buy this size battery and we don‘t have a membership, but I found a very nice lady who bought them for me. And who did we run into? Ted the marina manager shopping with his family.

5th stop: Marina Singlar. We waited for Ted to arrive, then we waited for the letter.

6th stop: Port Captain. The office was closed for the day ... sigh.


1st stop:  Port captain.  Whew! the letter was fine.  Someone had brought a ripe watermelon into the office.  I got pieces right along with the rest of the office staff.

2nd stop:  the bank to pay the fee and get a receipt.

3rd stop:  Port captain.  Hurray!  Everything worked out just fine.  We have our zarpe!

The port captain was most gracious.  He came out of the office to say goodbye and asked when we might be returning to Guaymas.  Maybe in December, I told him.  Then he said, "OK, you buy me a shirt in French Polynesia and bring it with you in December.  I will pay you.  Extra-large."  This was the perfect antidote to the entire process.  I left with a smile.

Friday, April 6, 2012

At the panga docks this week

Fly-swatting happens frequently throughout the day. I think it's so funny how Dick sneaks up on a fly and then lunges from 6 feet away.  He thinks his successful "kills" have diminished as he's aged.
This crazy guy came speeding past several times one afternoon creating annoying wakes for the boats tied up to the dock.  Going the other way, he went a bit slower sometimes carrying people or camping supplies, and one time a pingpong table.
Smoke 'N' Blues hoisted a colorful set of flag, then the mainsail, and
sailed away from the dock.  A nifty move by JD, who did it alone.  And we thought he was a novice sailor. 
The next day, Jackie and Tony on Windstrutter arrived from Bahia Concepcion.
Ernesto came by one afternoon with a few nieces and friends.  These looks are meant to say, "See how cute we are.  You should adopt us and take us with you on your boat."  Uhhhh, no thanks.
Provisioning:  here lie 113 days of vacuum-sealed oatmeal.  Two people eating oatmeal 5 times/week equals 22.6 weeks.  Dick LOVES Mexican oats - more than his previous favorite, Canadian oats.  He actually wants me to buy more, but I put my foot down and said "No!"