Monday, December 29, 2008

Last note on Zehuatanejo

Last note on Zehuatanejo – Check the pictures of the live wild animals in Webshots.
We set out walking to find a large supermarket we were told about – a Costco type of store, which do seem to exist in most of the big towns we have been in. We like to walk, by doing so we see more of what it is like to live here in Mexico, plus it takes us away from being seen as the gringos who get off the massive cruise ships/marks to sell to.
So off we went with a vague idea where it was. We do ask for directions – i.e. quando es commercial/mexicana supermercado?, the question is easy - understanding the answer is not. After forty five minutes of walking in brain boiling heat and asking directions twice from very helpful locals we hadn’t got there yet. By this time we had refused about 10 invitations to ride buses from the boys who jump out of the bus in front of you to tell you where they are going, and about 20 invitations from cabs which only cost 20 pesos ($2). Oh no, we want the true Mexican experience (don’t see too many of them walking).
I started this last note on Zehuatanejo just to tell you what we saw on the way. We passed a site where a circus tent was being erected and were very surprised to see that they had real lions and tigers and camels and monkeys in cages. Plus some very tiny horses, one so small it stood under the trailer it was tied to, smarter that us out in the sun. I don’t think circuses in Canada and US are allowed to have those wild animal acts anymore – are they? Anyway we were surprised to see them. We liked Zehuatanejo very much; we felt welcome there, liked the anchorage, found it easy to take our dinghy ashore, and were very pleased to have the dinghy taken care of by a lovely Mexican called Nathanial, who referred to me as La Reigna (the Queen), as he helped Tony to pull the dinghy ashore, while I was allowed to sit tight until on dry sand. Luxury.
We stayed 4 days in Z – Town, as some people call it, leaving on December 19th heading for Huatulco. At this point we were talking about where we would want to be at Christmas – underway heading across the Tehuantepec? Or tucked into a marina in Huatulco with new friends Margarita and Ventura who were to be there with their friends Chris and Jerry on Misty Michael.
We opted for Huatulco which is where we have spent Christmas and will stay here until after Tony’s birthday on January 1st.

From Zehuatanejo to Huatulco
This trip was fairly uneventful, and did seem very long. We do 2 hour watches during the night, which we will consider changing to 3 hour watches, the 2 hours sleep doesn’t seem to work too well, but the 2 hours on watch does. We were motoring or motor sailing most of the way, and we did have a couple of days of perfect on the beam 10 – 15 kn winds where we could put up all of our sails including the stay sail and truck along on a fairly flat sea at 6 knot and more. Those times make up for the monotony of motoring.
Though – on the plus side of motoring, it seems we have far more dolphin company when we are motoring. In fact every night watch, every night we were surrounded by dolphins.
Imagine looking out in to dark water all around you, and imagine that under that water are hundreds of dophins with high powered flash lights strapped on their backs which come on and off intermittently, and then they light up their entire body as they charge the boat broadside and swim alongside the bow wave – not one dophin – lots of dolphins. That sure breaks up the monotony of motoring. They just seem to love to play with the boat – race with it.
During the day we also saw manta rays leaping and flipping out of the water, turtles mating – now that’s a clumsy affair, especially when the female notices the boat going by, and struggles like crazy to dive underwater. There are lots of turtles here in the water thanks to countries like Canada boycotting the use of turtle products.
This coastline around Huatulco is quite spectacular – in the background are the very tall Sierra Madre mountains, in front of those lower forested hills (deciduous trees and tall cacti) and in front of those at the water’s edge, high sand dunes which have broken away to form low cliffs. Then the cliffs are eroded away at intervals into deeply set-in bays with clean sandy beaches, coral forever and lovely clear water teaming with beautiful tropical fish.
When we came to a bay called Chachacual we pulled in – very carefully as the entrance is marked by pretty craggy rocks and reefs, further in was another little bay called Indio Bay – gorgeous. We stayed 2 nights because we liked it so much, occasionally small Mexican party boats came in, but they only added to mood, we were also joined by 3 other sailboats, who were all friends and had come there to celebrate Christmas.
We snorkeled, sunbathed and got lots of sleep.
We came into Chahue Marina, which is only a few years old, on the 23rd and were welcomed by our friends Margarita and Ventura, Chris and Jerry and Delphin and Fernando, who are docked next to us.
This is a very nice small marina with a few live-aboards; Doug and Suzie, who pulled in here 3 years ago for a couple of hours and never left. They are from Alaska, and Doug is now La Crucecita’s resident Santa – he’s got the right looks. Chuck and Diane who have lived here almost 2 years, and a couple of transient Canadian boats.
We spent Christmas Day evening at a fabulous dock party arranged by Doug and Suzie. They brought in a really good band who covered a lot of music we know, but the lead singer really excelled when she sang a couple of Mexican folk songs. We were all spell-bound. It was a great party, we all contributed to the meal and had tons to eat.
Now we’ve been here 4 days and we are almost locals. We’ll be here a few more and then head out to Costa Rica.
We’re intending to by-pass Nicaragua, El Salvadore and Guatemala, just as a time consideration. Its 9.45am and we’re heading off to town to do some shopping before the mid-day sun. Remember the song – Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun. Well this sun’s heat will turn Englishmen into mad dogs.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Las Hadas

Tenacatita – Here we met other cruisers – Ultima, a steel hull who are back from world cruising where they had become friends with Hans and Roos from The Wind Cries, a boat we met in Sausalito earlier this year. There were a couple of other seasoned cruisers aswell – a couple of men cruising on a power boat, Mike and Tom . Tom had a pretty gruff manner, but a lot of useful information to impart, whether you wanted to hear it or not. Plus a couple of other boats who had also cruised Mexico quite extensively.
When we tell people where we are going, we usually get odd looks and the question, why would you want to leave Mexico? I must admit that the question crosses my mind quite often too – and I suppose if we happen across a place that we love as much as the home we have in Canada and it happens to be in Mexico then maybe we’ll become one of the many gringos who stay. It hasn’t happened yet.
Tenacatita Bay has a lot to offer a cruiser who wants to stay a week or two – we had a couple of days so we narrowed it down to swimming off the boat and the ‘jungle river tour’. Actually it was quite exciting really. We had the small 2 hp Honda engine on the dinghy which meant we went slow. The write-up on the trip told us to estimate about 3 hours, so that we could stop and row sometimes so as not to disturb the wildlife. We did do this at the beginning of the ride. That was before we almost got mowed down by the 3 pangas giving ‘extreme river rides’ to hotel guests from somewhere. There really isn’t any room for passing in the river – unless one boat (guess which one?) gets squashed into the mangroves. The first 2 boat drivers were quite nice to us and gently passed us with apologies for our discomfort. The 3rd driver revved his motor as he passed us deliberately creating enough wave to swamp us. Well there’s always some ---hole isn’t there.
The mangrove swamp reportedly houses crocodiles – which thankfully we didn’t meet, millions of red crabs running up and down the roots of mangrove tree trunks and quite a few beautiful birds. I’m sure if you did this tour very early in the morning before the pangas start coming through you would see a lot more – well maybe next time.
At the end of the one and a half hour toodle up the river we arrived at Tenacatita beach – quite a bustling place, many palapa restaurants on the beach – quite a few people but certainly not crowded. We did go into one of the restaurants and had a pretty good lunch. We were told by other cruisers to try the fish role – Rollo de Mar. It’s a decent size fillet of fish wrapped around some pretty big shrimp, dipped in batter, deep fried and covered with a wonderful coarse almond sauce. I can’t wait to have that again, it was truly worth risking the river trip to get to.
This was the only time since we have been in Mexico this time that we were ‘bothered’ by beach vendors. We know everyone has to make a living, and we are sorry that they had nothing we wanted, but one does get a bit sick of saying no, gracias every couple of minutes – quite often to the same person who won’t leave your table while you are trying to relax on their beautiful beach.
Something we had never seen before was a cradle holding a very young sleeping baby in the tienda/store we went into. The cradle was a big wooden cage completely enclosing the baby in screening material. What a good idea to ensure the baby is not wakened by biting flies etc.
Speaking of biting flies – another first. At Tenacatita Anne and I both sustained many, many, many bites on the legs and arms – not mosquitos, but some small fly, which unfortunately we still have quite a few of in the boat – a week later.
So from Tenacatita we headed to Las Hadas, which is in Bahia Santiago, better known for the town called Manzanillo.
Las Hadas is a huge hotel/condominium complex built in the 60’s. The outside design looks so much like the Mediterranean, all white stucco walls which morph into towers, domes and spinarettes, integral staircases with bougainvillas everywhere.
We anchored in a very calm spot right outside the marina breakwater alongside 3 other boats – The Wind Cries from Holland, Paisan from Nanaimo and a couple of other boats we do not remember the names of. We met a chap called John who seems to have set up residence in the anchorage. John is very grateful to the locals who helped him when he was ill recently. So he encourages new yatistas arriving to frequent their businesses. The couple who are cruising on Paisan are Canadians who came from Uruguay originally, a lovely couple we hope to meet up with again in Huatulco, which is where we may be for Christmas.
The Las Hadas resort also owns the marina, and for 150 pesos we were able to use the hotel facilities, ie. Tie up our dinghy in the marina, use the pool, and hang out in the amazing lobby of the hotel. This lobby looked like a set from Casablanca, absolutely gorgeous furniture – very comfortable couches etc. But no Bo. (Bo Derek from 10)
The town of Manzanillo is quite similar to Mazatlan, or I’m sure many other towns in Mexico, with narrow cobble streets, crumbling stucco buildings with tiny shop fronts selling anything from leather goods to clothes pegs. We got to the municipal market a bit late but it was still pretty good – these are definitely the places to buy fresh produce though the meat counters are quite intimidating. As we got on the bus to come back to the anchorage some musicians also got on. They played a couple of pan pipe – bongo type songs for about 10 minutes, then one of them walked around the bus with his hand out and everyone gave him some money. Dick gave him something from us. They then immediately stopped playing and got off at the next stop.
About 15 minutes later a clown got on the bus – he was a really horrible clown and kept screeching propaganda against the Americanos. He was so annoying and his voice sounded like fingernails scraping down a blackboard. Thank God our stop came up and we were able to get off the bus. You sure do get your money’s worth on those suicide busses. Not only the thrill of a lifetime, but a bit of education too. All for 5 pesos.
So it was time for Anne and Dick to go home – we spent the afternoon around the pool like any other guest, swimming, sunbathing and drinking pina coladas, then we went to Dinner at an Italian restaurant in the Marina. It just opened a couple of days ago and has very few customers yet. The food was pretty good – great pizza. The best thing that restaurant has in their bread. They make great bread. I spoke to the owner and suggested that they sell the bread in the marina to the yatistas. There is very little good bread to be had in Mexico because its not in their normal diet. He thought it was a good idea and I bought a loaf from him. Actually it was half a loaf because they make very big loaves.
When we got back to the boat we had a little goodbye ceremony. In particular we promoted Dick from Swab to Mate and gave him a commemorative t-shirt, which had a pretty laid back bloke in deck chair at the beach and a bunch of Spanish we didn’t understand, but liked the picture. I wrote Mate underneath the picture. We gave Anne a little ankle bracelet so that she would look a little more like a cruiser (sort of hippyish), and then we all went to bed.
Tony took Anne and Dick to the hotel lobby at 6.45 next morning and they bussed back to Puerto Vallarta to catch their plane home. We were glad to be able to give them a little of the experience of cruising in Mexico as a preview of what they will be doing next year.
And they gave us their friendship and help along the way. I’m sorry that they have to go back to the cold, but also a little envious that they will be with their families during Christmas – and we won’t.
On our way to Zihuatanejo - at time of writing we have left Las Hadas and are sailing – yes I said sailing, we’ve got little wavelets – between 5 – 10 kn wind and we’re sailing at about 4 kn and the boat is pretty stable, enough for me to be below and typing. More later

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Punta Ipala to Manzanillo

It took us about 5 hours to motor around from Yelapa to Punta Ipala - this being the start of many very craggy rocky premontories. We anchored in about 40 feet in rock and were quite dismayed to see that the water was literally filled with small jelly fish. There were actually 3 distinct species - a round clear jelly fish about 1 1/2" diameter which look pretty benign, then a long very thin stringy one with little dots all along it, these sting - I've met them before, and then a tiny little dot/prism thing which reflected all colors. Well we had been roasting all day on the boat and needed to cool off. I have a thin suit which I wear under my dive suit which I call a luge suit so I was pretty well covered, Dick borrowed one of Tony's suits and Tony went in shorts and t-shirt - we didn't swim for long.
This tiny little bay had a few large palapas on the shore with hundreds of empty chairs - in fact nobody around, but once they saw a boat in the bay - the only boat - they cranked the music up to entice us in. We didn't want to launch the dinghy here so we stayed put, intending to leave early next morning to get to Chemala.
Chemala is a bigger bay, lots of room to anchor, no rocks, no other boats - looked like it would be easy to go ashore through the small surf and swimmable. Being able to jump off the boat when we arrive at an anchorage is important - we get pretty hot on the way and we need to move around -swimming is a great way to do these things. We liked Chemala, even though we didn't do very well coming ashore; coordinating the wave series and getting 3 people out of the dinghy is a challenge. So I went right under, camera and all, but as you can see from webshots the camera is still working. We walked into 'town', a street which runs parallel to the shore, found a store owned by a very nice woman who spent the time to educate us on a few things in Spanish while her son picked miniature limes off their tree for us.
Another little store further down the road - mostly dirt track - had the diesel oil we needed and could not find in Walmart or the fuel station in Puerto Vallarta. We also sat under a palapa here and enjoyed a cold one while watching very little happen.
In this bay we were again surrounded by small fish - about 6 inches long - thousands of them hiding from the birds in the shelter of our boat. The water birds were diving very close to our boat. As the birds dived into the water we started to see much bigger fish - about 3 feet long swimming towards the birds. These fish looked like yellow fin tuna, but we think they are probably jack fish or something less desirable - otherwise why would the ever present pangas bother to go out of the bay to fish.
Chemala to Tenacatita - a bigger bay with some other boats in it. And a 'jungle' river cruise.
(more to come on that)
We are leaving Las Hadas now and I will post again - probably at Zihuatanejo, 200 miles south of here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Puerto Vallarta to Las Hadas, Manzanillo

And no Bo Derek. From the time we picked up Anne and Dick in Puerto Vallarta to the time we dropped anchor outside Las Hadas Hotel where the movie '10' was filmed we heard quite alot about Bo Derek from Tony, who was looking forward to seeing her run down the beach towards him beaded braids and her most natural assets akimbo - not to be. But more about that later.
We left PV on Tuesday 2nd December heading for Yelapa, a small, rolly and very quiet - while we were there - bay just before rounding Cabo Corrientes. We had hoped, having spent 2 very hot days in a marina cleaning the boat, that we would be able to swim at Yelapa, but the water was quite murky and very rolly - not very inviting. We were greeted by a panga at the bay opening and invited to use the only moorage buoy available for 200 pesos. We said that our anchor worked well enough thankyou - so he put the price down to 100 pesos, and we thought that would it would be worth paying that much not to put out the anchor.

Monday, December 1, 2008

A day in Puerto Vallarta

And quite a day it has been. We started out eating breakfast at a version of De Dutch Pancaoke House - fortunately they also did a pretty good Mexican style breakfast, found the Marina Office and also fortunately found out that the moorage fee was actually quite reasonable.

Then a trip into old Puerto Vallarta on one of those suicide busses. As we rattled along we were serenaded by a septegenarian guitar player who somehow managed to hold himself upright as we hurtled along at what appeared to be about 80mph. Tony made friends with a really gregarious little boy with a miniature motorbiclette that he wanted Tony to guess which hand it was hidden in - over and over and over.
We walked around one of the artisan markets and watched Mexican Indians doing incredible beadwork. Sometimes the beads are worked into necklaces and bracelets which we have all seen before, but others carve masks or animals shapes and then coat them in a very sticky substance then painstakingly stick tiny colored beads all over them.
We also visited a beautiful Cathedral which was kept up in perfect condition and was filled with hundreds of vases of flowers.
You know the saying that good news travels fast, but bad news travels alot faster. Beware visitors of Senor Frog - the one near the Cathedral. $100 pesos for a margarita. The going rate for a margarita anywhere so far has been maximum $40 pesos. When we complained to the server he said "I only work here". So in protest I will just bad mouth them for ripping us off.
Then back on the bus - this one actually quite sedate - to Walmart and more craziness.
We were all armed with our provisioning list but it still took what seemed like a couple of hours to get all that we needed. And now its done and stowed and we'll leave Puerto Vallarta tomorrow to head further south.
At time of writing Tony is initiating Dick and Anne to life aboard Moondancer, which basically means watching Captain Ron - the Simpsons will come later. Dick is swab and Anne is galley wench.

Mazatlan to Puerto Vallarta via Isla Isabela

November 30th – Left Mazatlan – went to Puerto Vallarta via Isla Isabela

The last thing we did in Mazatlan was to climb to the top of the hill which houses the second highest lighthouse in the world – that’s what the guide book said, and that’s how I felt when we got to the top. Of course my much younger and fitter husband politely waited for me a few times which gave him a little rest too. It was worth the climb, the view over the whole of Mazatlan was incredible, plus we marveled at the effort that had been put into building the path and stairs back in the early 1900’s aswell as the building at the top which looks like a bomb shelter but is in fact a place to buy much needed water at the summit.

Then on to Isla Isabela, 1 1/2miles long x 1/2mile wide - a bird sanctuary known to be the home of only 5 species of bird, in the thousands and iguanas. The guide books say that anchoring is risky because it’s a very rocky place, but it will be worth the effort once you go ashore.
It was – on both counts - the anchoring was tricky, out first drop put us so close to a submerged rock that we could have used it as a table at low tide. We were trying to make sense of the description of the rock – ‘identify the oily slick covering a submerged rock….’, when all of a sudden this large window appeared in the water just behind our boat. That’s exactly what it looked like – a window to the bottom of the water and the rock. We moved closer to the sharp rocky cave with crashing waves which looked so much more attractive than the table top rock. The wind did what it was supposed to after an hour or so and held us off both hazards all night and while we went ashore to see the Boobies.

Imagine Tony’s disappointment when the thousands of blue and yellow footed boobies turned out to be birds. We took our dinghy ashore and tied up next to a group of pangas belonging to fishermen who probably live in San Blas about 30 miles away, but stay in large corrugated tin sheds while fishing on Isla Isabela.
Even though we knew that the island was home to thousands of birds it was a bit of a surprise to walk around them at such close quarters. All species are large birds - especially the frigate birds and they nest in very small trees. So – as we walked around we were mostly head height to very large birds sitting in the trees on nests or just on the branches. They quite often seem to fall off these branches or the branches just break under the weight of the huge bird. The majority of birds that we saw were the Frigates who look like giant bats in flight. The blue footed booby colony was on the ground and seem to just nest on the edges of rocks. The babies are lovely white fluffy things with – of course – blue feet and funny little black faces. While we were snorkeling later in the day under an outcropping of rocks we saw a mother and baby just standing on the edge of the rock – just standing there all of the time waiting for the baby to grow up – and hoping it doesn’t fall off after all of that standing.
We walked into the island a little ways – actually just where the long grass had been cut into a path – not wanting to get bitten by anything dangerous. We came to a concrete building which had a couple of tents up inside the building. The concrete walls were about 18” thick and it looked like it had been built to withstand hurricanes – which hardly hever happen here. The building was another of those mysteries – nobody in it except a couple of hundred iguanas walking around as casual as you please – some parts of it falling apart – electrical wires pulled out and left bare, the tents which we think housed research students and one whole side of the building had undergone some renovations – offices with new sliding glass doors leading out onto – rough land with blue footed boobies nesting in the long grass. So we joined the iguanas for a casual look around, found nobody to ask questions of, and left.
Back through the birds, down to the fishermen who didn’t seem to be interested in us at all, so Tony gave the things we had brought to trade to the first fisherman we close enough to talk to, and back to the boat.
Pulling up the anchor was not as horrible as we thought it would be, we had to drive around a few rocks that we had surrounded with our chain, but as the anchor was not actually imbedded in anything it followed up the chain without too much trouble.And we were off to Puerto Vallarta to pick up Anne and Dick who had flown down to spend some time sailing with us away from the cold of Vancouver. It took them 5 hours to fly here and 3 months for us to sail here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Have a nice day!

Nancy took this picture while we were in the internet place yesterday. I said watch out they don't take you away! That would have been quite the picture of her yelling and kicking. Put it on the Blog!

More Mazatlan and Jack

Hi Guy's Tony here. Having a hard time keeping the cervesa's cold! Met up with an Hombre who sailed down from L.A. a few years ago. He had a bad time in a storm west of Cedros island and got knocked down in 50 plus knots of wind. His boat a catalina 34 got beat up pretty bad as did he. He pulled through and made it to Mazatlan and has been here ever since. He stay's on hid boat in the harbour and hangs out with the locals. A great guy all around. What a wealth of info and some very humorous story's. plus we have one thing in common, we both love pacifico ballenas, which are very large beers! Cheers Jack!

I am sitting in an internet/laundry/coffee shop waiting for a lady to do our laundry. What a great place this is. Nancy is back at the boat making up some screens to go over the hatches, since the no see-umms will arrive when we go farther south.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Nov. 18-24th Cabo to Los Frailes to Mazatlan

November 18th – 24th – Cabo to Los Frailes - Mazatlan

Cabo San Lucas – a great place to go if you’re into lots of energetic goings on. We anchored in the middle of the bay in front of a strip of resort hotels. So in one direction we looked at long sandy beaches with umbrellas, pyjama wearing Mexicans selling t-shirts to the people under the umbrellas. Tony was pleased to see them because he was wondering where all of the pyjama wearing Mexicans were.
Behind us was an incredible rock formation sculpted by the constant ocean surge. An incredible hole drilled right through one of the rocks through which resounded thousands of pounds of green water. I saw some young boys tempting the dreaded surge, then running back screaming as it threatened to smash them back into the rocks.
In between and all around us was the constant buzzing of jet skis, motor boats whizzing around at high speed, parasailors coming and going, water taxis playing chicken with the jet skis, and then on the second day add to that mix 4 huge world class cruise ships and all of their tenders coming and going in between. (No I didn’t like it there)
So, we left – heading for Cabo Los Frailes, which we heard from other cruisers and Charlies Charts was a simple 45 miles around the corner and offered a quiet anchorage with great snorkeling. We left early in the morning 05.45, expecting to reach Los Frailes in the late afternoon. ON THE SAME DAY.
We were having such a pleasant trip, motoring along at our usual 5 knots at 2000 revs until we were presented with the perfect sailing conditions – quite suddenly, but we were up for it. We set the sails with single reefed main and full genoa with about 15 – 20 knots of southeasterly and flat seas – we quickly reached 6.5 knots, reefed the main down again to 2 reefs and continued to fly along for about another half hour – and then – nada – gone. Oh well the motoring was fairly pleasant, so we just put everything away and continued to motor along to the ‘corner’ Punta Arroya de Villorama. As we approached we saw what must have been some kind of tide line – to be a little more specific, what we saw was a white wall. Well we’ve seen such things before and they usually mean a tide line because at this corner there’s likely to be something like that. Fifteen minutes later we are pounding into 6 – 8 foot waves coming around the corner from the north west. At this point we thought we were dealing with Punta stuff. These puntas (points, capes) often deal out nasty waves. Another hour of getting nowhere fast and we decided to turn around and try another day.
We had to go quite a long way back until we found a brand new marina, Marina at Puerto Los Cabos, which we found thanks to Angus and Rolande on Periclees. We met Angus and Rolande very briefly back in San Diego, and then again on the radio as we were heading for Punta Arroya de bloody Villorama. They also turned around and led us into the new marina. When its finished it will be absolutely beautiful and will cater to the sport fishers who leave their boats in Mexico and come in for the fishing seasons.
Up the ramp from the visitors dock to which we were tied (the only boat there) were a few houses in disrepair – (we see a lot of that disrepair here) and a few restaurants claiming to serve international menus to ----- nobody. I’m sure all of those owners are looking forward to the pending coupe when the rich gringos come in droves to the new marina.
Next day we headed for Punta Arroya again – determined this time to keep going. We did and the zig zag pattern we left on our chart plotter proves that we did about 25 miles of tacking to make 10 miles headway.
It was worth it. We really liked Los Frailes – very quiet though windy, very good snorkeling – lots of different types of fish that we usually only see in tropical aquariums; parrot fish, puffer fish, long transparent needle fish and many multi-colored beautifully shaped elegant fish.
A big turtle paid us a visit, our boat was constantly surrounded by fish – no matter what time of day or night. We would shine our big flashlight out onto the water at night and thousands of large fish eyes shone back at us.
We enjoyed a couple of evenings with new friends – Rolande and Angus hosted a lovely lobster dinner on Periclees. Bonnie and Jim from Murray Grey joined us and we were pleased to listen to the experience that Jim and Rolande and Angus were willing to pass on to us newbies. This is their second cruising venture.
The next night we had Rolande and Angus together with Pam and Tom from Kewao over for happy hour. All ex-cruisers say that what they loved so much about their cruising experience was the people that they met. I understand what they mean. Even though we meet these wonderful people for such short times, the times we have together are very good. We seem to see each other very clearly very quickly.
Jim and Bonnie took us for a one mile walk through a couple of fences and away from the beach to a bar – which to anyone who didn’t know would have thought it derelict. Jim was sure that all was well, went to the fridge and took out the beer and told us that the owner or his daughter would show up pretty soon. The place hadn’t seen a broom or mop or even a washer up for a long time, but we found a couple of plastic garden chairs and sat, drank our beer. Eventually the owner’s daughter arrived – a lovely young comely woman who offered us ceviche to go with our beer. Tony and I looked at each other skeptically wondering if we dared eat anything in this very dirty place. Oh what the hell - It was very good. It was a fairly hot homemade salsa with small chunks of lobster cut up into it raw. The salsa marinates the fish and kinda cooks it. It was delicious and as long as we could keep the flies from sharing it with us, it was very appetizing. Eventually of course the flies won, but we’d had enough by then.
We left Los Frailes at about 0100 on the 22nd heading over to Mazatlan. We like to time our departures so that we arrive at our destination in the daytime. Most of the time it works. We had a pretty unevently crossing with no wind most of the time. Unfortunately our autohelm quit working – in fact it fell apart on one of my watches and I managed to put it back together. It fell apart again on Tony’s next watch but this time it was busted proper. So we hand steered for about 80 miles. I hate hand steering on legs, especially at night. I find that I can’t look around as well as I can when the boat is self steering.
Most of the people we know coming over to Mazatlan come to the El Cid marina or the Mazatlan marina.
We decided to come a bit further along to the Mazatlan harbour and anchor out. This is our second night here. We’re anchored outside an old Club Nautico which was probably a pretty grand place back in the 60’s. This is on the edge of Old Town, Mazatlan. All along the waterfront is evidence of much better times. Its sad to see this. The focus of the visitors is now New Town – where the new marinas and hotels are, and as there is not enough money coming here it is all falling into disrepair.
Once again we are in a new community, the manager of Club Nautico is Miguel, he keeps a fridge stocked with beer, the water still runs in the showers and toilets – but that’s all you can say for them, he employs his daughter and son in law. There are a few resident live-aboards, Jack from Chicago who looks a lot like Hulk Hogan and lives very close to shore on a Catalina 34. Jack came into the anchorage 3 years ago from Los Angeles cruising and expecting to keep going. His dinghy was stolen one night, and though he recovered it, he did not get his outboard motor back. So without an outboard or the funds to replace it – he stayed. The batteries in his boat are now flat and he doesn’t think he can replace them so the boat’s not going anywhere. His natural friendliness and charm has brought him a new Mexican girlfriend and he now has no desire to leave anyway. He has excellent Spanish and gets on great with everyone.
Last night in the ‘club bar’ – a few plastic tables and chairs outside the fridge we met Miguel’s family, Larry and Lena from Alaska who are cruising south on Nomad with their dog Morgan, Jacque, a 60 something musician who comes here to play an engagement every year at this time at a hotel nearby. He lives in a mobile home parked across the road and keeps a 47’ boat on Saltspring Island. We also met an American who is currently traveling with a Cook and a Cabin Boy. The Cook is the 14 year old Cabin Boy’s mother and they are traveling south to Nicaragua where they are going back packing. I’m so impressed with the creative way people have of doing things.
So today we got on the local ‘suicide’ bus and headed into town. Jack told us there was a real market in town and an internet cafĂ©. Both of these things were exactly where Jack said they would be and the bus ride was very exciting. Sometimes it was a very good idea to close my eyes. I think that the bus had shape-shifting abilities.
The market was everything I hoped it would be. It was a city block Municipal Market similar to those I’ve seen in Europe and the Caribbean. It was packed full of every type of fruit and vegetable stall, meat and fish. Breads, cheeses, teas – everything. I loved it and now have a very impressive hanging hammock full of fruit and veggies.
We also found an internet store where we could plug in our own computer for a dollar an hour.
There is a beautiful cathedral in the center of town with a park like plaza in front of it. Mass was being said in the cathedral with a pretty healthy congregation in attendance at about noon on a Monday. The town is a buzzing, healthy wonderful place full of Mexicans going about their lives and not caring very much about the gringo.
Perhaps the market stalls selling souvenirs were a little pushy, but I’ve experienced far worse in resort towns. We were pretty heavily laden when we left the market so we took advantage of a cab which saw that we needed him. Quanta es - $40 pesos - $4 bucks. We jumped in and thanked our lucky stars. He did stop about half a block from Club Nautico – maybe that was all we got for $4. We laughed and waved goodbye and thanked him.
We’ve been warned by experienced cruisers to check all fresh fruits and veggies before bringing them aboard for unwanted visitors – la cucarachas/cockroaches. I really hope I checked them well enough. I didn’t want to wash everything because that speeds up the decomposition which doesn’t need much help in this heat.Oh, did I mention that its hot – God I must sweat out about 10 pounds of water every day – just as well beer’s cheap otherwise I’d look like beef jerky by now.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

MEXICO - Dox Exxis, Tequila and jumping off the boat

November 12th Blog – Ensenada – Bahia Santa Maria

San Diego, will always be remembered as the place we walked the furthest to get everything we needed, and the place where Johnny left us after living with us in our little pod for 2 months. We also became part of the little community on the Police Dock - which is basically the Municipal Docks which only cost $5/day for 5 days and then $20/day for a further 5 days – then you have to move on.
I have noticed that it doesn’t take long to feel that we belong in these small communities in a very short time. A few boats we knew from the BCA Fleet group were there, including Len and Joan on Warana – Len very generously fixed our battery charger for us, which we would have had to ship somewhere to get a bridge rectifier installed – instead we found the little bugger(the rectifier, not Len) in Radio Shack and Len installed it.
We also found a perfect trade for the 45 lb. Bruce anchor that Tony found while diving in Emerald Bay, Catalina. Our neighbours Peter and Denice on Sapphire had a Danforth which fit perfectly onto our stern rail to be used as a stern anchor, and our Bruce fit perfectly only his bow roller.
We had a little dock party on November 5th which enabled us to meet more of the people who are traveling down the coast. A couple of boats with young families aboard from Washington and Oregon, and other US boats who had already experienced cruising Mexico and wanted to repeat the experience.
Tony was able to help Ernie from Morgana, a boat from Campbell River, with his SSB radio weather fax system and internet. So this is how this community functions, having fun with each other and helping each other out with information.
It is interesting to note also how much mis-information circulates through this community, i.e. paper work needed to exit the US, and the paper work needed to enter Mexico, what you can and can’t bring into Mexico.

The info in the back of Charlie’s Charts on cruising Mexico seemed to be right on, and the marina we stayed at in Ensenada, the Baha Naval, also made sure that our paperwork was in order before running the immigration gauntlet. It wasn’t that bad, some people use agents to help them – the agents speak English and will help you if needed. It did take us about 3-4 hours to get it all done which was a little tiresome as we had only managed a couple of hours sleep on the way from San Diego to Ensenada, another one of those rolly trips that leave your equilibrium disturbed for a day or so after landing.
At the end of the ‘gauntlet’ run we were required to show all of the accumulated papers from the various departments finally to the Customs Officer, who showed us what appeared to be child size traffic lights with a big button at the bottom. ‘You push this – red, we search your boat and green , finito’. We were so nervous about pushing the button that when it turned green we both jumped up in the air whooping for joy.
Then we went in search of a fishing license.
That was a lot easier and so well worth it. We caught our first fish yesterday – a bonito tuna – very yummy and enough for 4 meals. Not bad for $94, maybe we’ll catch some more fish before out of Mexico.

We like Ensenada, though it has its touristic side its still very much a Mexican town that is not totally reliant on the ‘gringo’ – I hate that word – for their living, so one is not constantly harangued by people who need your money – what money?
We went to a really great bar called Housongs,with an old friend we met in Blaine a couple of years ago - Trevor from McCoushla (sorry Trevor) took us around town on our first evening there, - called Housongs. We were almost the only gringos present, the drinks were good and we were basically left alone. On the table next to ours were a middle age Mexican couple – a very proud man having his shoes cleaned while sitting at the table and a woman who was obviously besotted by him draped all over him. I asked them if I could take a picture – I know, very touristy – but it was a huge contribution to the mood in that bar. There was a mariachi band of about 6 men playing around a table of 3 local men and they were all singing to each other just because they liked to. When I applauded I was cautioned not to because it might make me seem even more like a tourist mark – ‘well its rude not to show appreciation for such a great performance isn’t it’.
The Baha Naval has one of the biggest, cleanest haulout facilities I’ve ever seen, the management team, Rogelio and Arturo were great, spoke very good English and genuinely liked their interactions with their c lients.
7th November From Ensenada we were heading for Turtle Bay, landed our first fish as mentioned above, no wind, motoring in calm seas, feeling very happy with the conditions and the speed we were making – a current helping us along, running the motor at about 2000 revs at a 6 – 7 knots. (Now I’m looking at the log because I can’t remember that far back). Generally from this day until the evening of the 9th we went from no wind – to nice sail with a single reef and the happy comment that Moondance is dancing to double reefed genoa only running on a broad reach at about 6 – 7 knots, sometimes more hurtling down a wave to wishing to a helluvalot less of this wind.
Its not so much the wind, we would love to have 25 knots, gusting to 35 without the huge waves that build up with it which never seem to come from one direction. That night I did most of my watch from the cabin, poking my head up to look around to make sure that no other stupid bastards were out there waiting to bump into us, and then darting back like a gofer before getting run over by a truck.
We didn’t come in a Turtle Bay; to do so would have meant taking big seas abeam and we knew we could still keep going. This part of our trip is just about getting as many miles in as possible.
So late afternoon on the 10th we pulled into Baha San Hipolito, which was actually quite a wide open bay and until we got right into it we were still running down the waves and thought it wouldn’t be a good anchorage. But the further in we went the land breeze coming down off space like plateaus took over from the swells and the wind waves which were quite small took over. We were the only transient boat in the bay – a few large fishing boats were anchored way over on the other side and a couple of small pangas were anchored close to the shore.
San Hipolito is a small fishing camp/village, not much more than a few shacks and container type units. The cloud cleared a little at sunset, which we were grateful to see after a couple of days of squally wind filled clouds. We ate crackers and nuts for dinner and went to bed at about 1900 hrs.
After being a sea for a few days doing our 2 – 3 hour night watches we really value our full nights sleep and Hipolito was not exception. A whole night’s sleep has become such a luxury, a tonic that makes us feel so great the next day.
This day started with a visit from a panga with 2 very good men – didn’t get their names, but we really liked them. They spoke way better English than our pathetic Espanol. They had fish and langosta (lobster) to trade, and we were definitely in the market for lobster. They belonged to a fishing cooperative, much like our local farming in Langley. They have buyers for their catch which is mostly sardines and langosta.
They asked how many lobsters we wanted – and when I said 2 – they were incredulous. ‘Only 2????’ – ‘we have no freezer ,ok 4’ ‘It makes no difference to us, have more’.
What you want?’ – Do you ave beer or wine?’ – ‘No sorry, not enough’ – ‘We have childrens, do you have bandaids?’ I knew we had lots of bandaids somewhere but didn’t think I’d be able to find them within the next half hour or so. We settled on a couple of baseball hats and a can of carnation milk. Our first trade, we hoped we had not upped the trading price for others who follow, and we hoped that these nice, hardworking men got what they wanted. They were very happy for us to take their picture.
That day – the 11th November kept getting better – our trip since Sidney recoring 2209 miles, 10 – 15 knot wind all day without the almost constant huge swells, sailing at 5ish knots with lovely clear skies and the anticipation of langosta for dinner.
Just after dinner we were sitting in the cockpit with the side flaps in the dodger – I usually put them in at night preparing for the usually stronger winds and protection from the occasional splashes - when whack, whack, whack and big splash on the leeward side of the boat. Tony starts looking into the rigging thinking a shroud had pinged loose and was flying around the boat . Flying was the right word, as we rolled over a swell a shoal or is it flock of flying fish decided to take off from that wave and unfortunately for them were stopped dead by us. Some of them went right over and splashed into the water on the other side of us, but 5 of them were all flapping about on both sides of the deck. These fish were all about 9 – 12’ long and were desperately trying to fly off the deck. Their wings are beautiful and they also seem to have little floppy fins further down their body which look a lot like undeveloped legs. Tony saved most of them – he went out onto the deck and picked them up carefully, as you would a bird, and put them back in the water. What a mystery of evolution they are.
Another big wind night with big seas - which though I hate because they frighten me, do realize that we need in order to get the speed we need.
After another night of almost no sleep the wind died down enough for us to need to motor. When we started the motor we noticed that our alternator was not only not charging at its usual 14 volts, it actually seemed to be pulling charge from our batteries. So in the aftermath rolling seas Tony put our spare alternator on, and so far so good.
At time of writing we are anchored at Bahia Santa Maria with a few other boats, two of which we met in San Diego. We had another of those fortifying sleeps and woke up this morning full of energy. We swam this morning, and while doing so cleaned the grass which has miraculously managed to grow while we are moving on the portside of the boat, since Catalina Island when we last cleaned it. Tony replaced the zinc which fell off one windy night, we showered and sunbathed.
Days like these count for at least 5 of those nights when I’m scared to look at the following seas and sick of my dirty hair and general feeling like crap.
We are looking forward to so many more of them.
Just arrived in Cabo San Lucas – don’t know anything about it yet, except it has the most incredible rock formation at the entrance to the harbour.I’ll post more on Cabo when I have some info.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Johnny leaves us - Boo Hoo

So here we are in San Diego - actually we've been here 3 days - and after 2 months of Johnny's more or less constant companionship he's headed back home to resume his life. What a pleasure its been to have him with us. There's not many people could have successfully shared this tiny living space with us. Perhaps its his love of the Simpsons, Arthur and basic toilet humour which made that possible. We miss him already.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bob's missing picture

Hi Everyone, This is Tony. I had a visit from and old friend Bob Chrustie who lives in L.A. It was a pleasure to see him again after so long. He drove 70 miles through L.A. traffic to come to Newport Beach, What a trooper. Nancy took a great picture of us both on the boat, but unfortunately when we were trying to download it to this site it was scooped up by some spyware porn site and disappeared into cyber space. So if anyone comes across a picture of me and Bob on such a site, don't be alarmed. Stay tuned, it's off to SanDiego next

Avalon, you can see Moondancer in center

Friday, October 24, 2008

Avalon to Newport - 21st October
Catalina Island definitely rates BIG with us – from Emerald Bay which helped us forget all of the cold wet miserable nights we spent getting there, Isthmus Bay, a tiny beach resort with outside bar/restaurant on the beach through the isthmus to Two Harbours where I discovered ripe prickly pears growing wild everywhere (got a few spikes in my lips and tongue as the price for peeling and eating on the spot).
Then on to Avalon.
What an incredible resort town it is – glad we were not there during the summer season when, so we are told, it is impossible to move around and lineups are everywhere for everything. Avalon, which was developed in the 20’s as an offshore playground for the rich and famous (only 25 miles from Los Angeles) is full of contradictions. On each of the two closest hills which overlook the town are 2 mansions, one very traditional American style and the other more of a sprawling Spanish villa. The first is still known as Wrigley Mansion (chewing gum) and the other is T.K. Wrigley Mansion (perhaps a son of chewing gum magnate). Wrigley Mansion is now a very exclusive hotel and the other – I don’t know, maybe Wrigley descendants live there.
My theory is that Avalon was built by Sicilians initially, before the Spanish/Mexican influence kicked in – I can imagine that many of the rich (Maf--) living in Los Angeles in the roaring 20’s brought their families over from Sicily and housed them on this beautiful Island. Of course I could be completely wrong, but see the photos and make up your own mind. Another unique feature of Avalon is the golf carts. Very few people are allowed to have actual cars on the island, but golf carts abound.
From the harbour the homes we could see were all multi-million dollar palaces – even the condominiums. The town itself definitely has that typical slightly seedy resort town feel – probably the rich people don’t actually shop where they live. We did not find it particularly expensive; the $33 to hang on a moorage buoy was actually less than Isthmus Bay and because it was off-season they offered us 2 days paid for and 5 days free.
We took them up on the offer and stayed a couple more days, played a round of mini-golf right in the middle of town on a 40 year old course, which was a lot more fun than I expected, hiked up both hills, resisted the $35, 2 hour bus tour which promised we might see buffalo (Oh – only $30.50 for me as I now qualify as a senior). I was hoping to see roving buffalo – but no luck – perhaps next time. We made new friends in Avalon – Steve and Kathy on Lilly; we originally met them in Monterey where they were docked next to us. They were also in Isthmus Cove where we joined them for happy hour.
And then Avalon – by that time they were definitely our longest standing friendship and we had a lovely dinner together and got to know each other. As they are also heading for the Caribbean we look forward to meeting them again somewhere along the way.We had a very pleasant crossing from Avalon to Newport, we are moored ($5 per night) within a cluster of moorage buoys (there are hundreds more) about 50 yards from the back gardens of beautiful homes which surround Newport Harbour.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Catalina Island - alias Shangrilah

Friday – October 17th
And this is all beginning to make sense. The last couple of days have been incredible.
We arrived just after a spectacular sunrise yesterday in Emerald Bay on Catalina Island, so named because – yes the water is emerald and incredibly clear. The bay has about 50 mooring buoys, which we did actually attempt to tie to, but when we came up close noticed that all of the rings to tie to seemed to have been removed – we thought probably because this is the off-season. Fairly close to each buoy are rods sticking out of the water – we didn’t understand what these were for either so we came back out a little way and anchored beside Bird Rock –also aptly named. It took us about an hour to get out the diving equipment – tanks in aft lazarette, weight belts in bilge and dive bags in forward cabin under all of the ‘rubble’ that Johnny has to sleep beside.
Johnny couldn’t wait for us to gear up so he jumped in right away and announced it fantastic but a little cold. So we put on our full gear; Tony had to remind me of how some of these things go together, and as usual I huffed and puffed, complained like hell about the general discomfort, while Tony gets on with helping me and gearing up himself.
And then – it all became clear, as soon as we descended down the anchor line and I got myself together, Tony pointed behind me – it was like those magic pictures that are made up of millions of tiny repetitive shapes that you stare at with squinted eyes for a while and then the image jumps out at you. We were swimming in a wonderland about 30 – 40 feet deep with a visibility of about 60 feet – among long ribbon shaped shoals of sardines, beautifully colored fish I do not know the names of, got up close to a leopard shark – a spotted dogfish – swam through kelp forests. The experience was totally worth taking my padi course in February in Sidney and sailing approximately 1500 miles south for. I was so happy while I was underwater I could have cried. The rest of the day we spent snorkeling together, lying in the sun and complementing ourselves on our good fortune.

On Tuesday 14th we left Port San Luis at 1500 hrs – even though we have found that the waves are quite a bit bigger in the afternoon, we were also intent on arriving at Point Conception (in my mind another Cape Mendecino) sometime in the middle of the night when it is supposedly least horrible. As we were heading for Catalina Island we would not be coming in close to the point and as it was we had a pretty uneventful night – sometimes a rollicking sail in manageable seas and sometimes motoring.
The sky was totally clear with a full moon. This is our 3rd full moon since leaving Canada, but the first unobstructed moon. (On the night we sailed from Monterey to Port San Luis I saw the moon set at about 0600 hrs, an incredible orange ball sinking into the west – photos didn’t work I’m afraid - then an hour later a spectacular sunrise in the east. I love the dawn watch)
Wednesday we were motoring all day – the highlight of which was when we were visited by a pod of Pacific White Side dolphins. There were hundreds of them around us and they were coming in smaller groups to bow ride our bow wave. They stayed with us about an hour and because of individual markings we could recognize them when they came back for another turn. They seem to have a lot of scars on their backs – probably caused by doing exactly this. Johnny got up in the pulpit and took lots of video – see webshots. Later in the afternoon we spotted what our resident marine biologist thinks are ‘false killer whales’. They are grey and white, have tall sickle shaped dorsal fins and are a bit smaller than killer whales.
That evening we decided to have a barbeque as we weren’t in a particular hurry – we didn’t want to arrive at Catalina in the dark, so we cut the engine, Johnny went for a swim, Tony fired up the barby and we had a lovely meal in our own little world and life felt really good.
The night passed without a watch contributed by me, so I’ll just quote the log:
Tony – 2300 – beautiful slick ride, moon and stars shining, cirrus cloud whisping, crew sleeping. Johnny 0100 – Tony is a poet and he didn’t know it. Mine will be simpler – ditto. Tony again 0500 – getting closer to Catalina – very mild and humid, still motoring.I know that we have a long way to go and then to keep going - but being in Emerald Bay at Catalina feels like we’ve arrived at the beginning.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Finally out of Monterey and at Port San Luis

Not too much to report this blog - just that as I have access to the internet, thought I'd let everyone know where we are.
We left Monterey Sunday early and sailed through the day and night, arriving in Port San Luis Monday morning - yesterday. Again we had the big seas and strong winds for awhile - they are good of course in that we make good progress, but definitely not comfortable sailing. Suppose I'm just going to have to get used to this, must just be characteristic of the Pacific.
Once again I had cause to be very grateful for Johnny's cool head and strength, as he kept the boat's head up when we were overwhelmed by a big offshore gust.
The Santa Ana winds have been happening on this part of the coast for the past couple of days - the Coast Guard, who do an excellent job put out general warnings of weather conditions.
They lifted the warnings as of 5.00pm yesterday, so we'll leave today and head out past Point Conception. We are told by local people that once around the point the weather conditions become much less 'wild' and more tropical, like a great big lake apparently.
Coming into San Luis we saw an amazing amount of wildlife - whales playing in the water at Sunrise - Dolphins playing around our boat in the anchorage and sea lions group fishing trips.
San Luis Port is a lovely little town which was completely rebuilt about 30 years ago.
We have a few more photos to add. Perhaps the next post will be from Catalina Island.
We are all well, tanned, sometimes tired and mostly excited about what we are doing.
We miss our friends at home.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Almost native Montereyans

10th October and we're still in Monterey. Again waiting out weather - along with a few other boats all doing the same thing. We've spent some time with friends we met in Moss Landing, Scott and Michelle - Scott is the Food and Beverage Manager of the Portola Hotel and has built a very successful brew pub called Peter B's. Great beer and wine and a really great concept where regulars have a type of membership in the pub, buy their beer for $3.oo/pint. Great way to create regular clientele. We've met American sailors who have sailed to Mexico in the past and like it enough to be doing it again.
Yesterday we took a local bus to Carmel, looked at some fabulous art and even though we are not likely customers were well received in a couple of galeries. We walked down to the beach where the breaking waves that we could see all the way out to the horizon made us very happy to be on the beach and not on the horizon. Johnny, the golfer ran up the beach as far as Pebble Beach golf course to take pictures of one of his 'meccas'.
Then the highlight of the day for me was the Carmel Mission, founded in the 1700's by a monk from Mallorca, Father Junipera Serra - some of the Mission is original, but in the 30's major restoration took place, and now it is a Catholic Parish church and a Catholic school. The atmosphere in the church and the grounds was very peaceful, and as always happens to me in such places I am reminded of my catholic upbringing. I am sure that Tony and Johnny also found being there a moving experience. Mostly I am glad that it is not just a museum, but a viable community.
We are all looking forward to getting going on our next leg, which we expect to be Morro Bay. The time is getting closer to Johnny's flight home on the 30th October, so we definitely want to be in San Diego by then having seen a little more of Southern California before winding up there, perhaps Catalina.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

October 7th - we're in Monterey

This is our third day in Monterey - and we already know our way around. We've not been able to get internet at the marina and have found it a little difficult to find cafes with open nets.
This is one of them.
Our trip from Moss Landing to Monterey was a brisk sail - about 4 hours, big swells on the beam again - I think we'll just have to get used to them, and look forward to the less big ones.
We anchored out the first night - the anchorage if you can call it that is pretty wide open, very rolly - we did not include flopper stoppers in our inventory of things we need - but we might make them before we spend all of our cruising budget on marinas.
We came into Monterey Harbour marina for the next night and last night. Our plan from here is to make a couple of longer harbour hops - the next being 75 miles to Morro Bay, then 100 or so to Catalina Island, then San Diego. We're keen now to get down to better weather and are told by sailors who have gone before us that conditions generally improve past Point Conception.
Monterey Bay is a beautiful town - the architecture is starting to look very Spanish, a lovely waterfront and beach and the Aquarium is worth every penny of the $25 to go in.
We spent a few hours there yesterday and took loads of pictures. I'll put them in Webshots.
We did actually attempt to leave here early evening - intending to start the next leg overnight so that we would arrive mid-dayish the next day. Naaat!!!! Our weather information for the next few days is not good, but it was supposed to be not too bad last night and today. After crashing though 8 foot seas and wind on the nose for an hour - we changed our minds and came back.
We'll be tourists for a couple of days - maybe go see Carmel by bus tomorrow, enjoy the farmers market this evening.
We've met 2 other boats from our Van Isle Fleet group who are in the marina also - Dolphin Tales with Lin and Debbie and Kalagan with Rick and Dawn. Its really neat to see them and exchange our stories for the trip down. We seem to be of the general opinion that none of us would like to repeat that exercise.
Hope to get moving on Friday - maybe sooner if weather conditions change.
See webshots for pics.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Elkhorn Slough - Moss Landing

Finally - we've found a coffee shop where we can plug in our computers.
We came into Moss Landing 1st October having enjoyed a great sail from Santa Cruz.
Moss Landing is recognizable by 2 huge chimneys - 528 feet high, which are part of a steam powered electrical generation plant - the 2nd largest facility of its kind in the world. So even though visibly its definitely incongruous to its surroundings, its actually not hurting the wildlife at all.
Speaking of wildlife, Elkhorn Slough which surrounds the yacht club at which we are moored is a beautiful ecological reserve, and there are 2 marine research ships working out of Moss Landing.
We took the dinghy into the slough yesterday and saw many beautiful creatures. The birdlife is getting much more interesting and we wish we had a book to help us identify the different species of birds we are seeing. I think we saw egrets yesterday, a beautiful slender heron like bird - smaller and pure white. Also some medium sized beige colored birds with very long pick like beaks - very similar to kiwis.
Our favourite creatures are the Sea Otters - quite different from the River Otters we are used to shooing off our boats on White Rock Pier.
These otters are not interested in boats - have no fear of them - and roll around from their fronts onto their backs eating, breaking shells with stones, preen themselves with their hands, and are generally so gorgeous you want to pick them up. In the early evening they pair up and roll around playing/fighting each other. There are so many of them near our mooring.
I'll put some pictures on next time I get to the internet - didn't download them from the camera yet.
We've checked weather and have decided to leave tomorrow - to get into Monterey for the next couple of days - there's a weather system moving in until Monday that doesn't look too good.
We'll go to Elkhorn Yacht Club's social evening tonight and glean as much information as we can from the locals about places to go in Monterey.
The people we have met here are very helpful - in fact everywhere we have been this has been the case.

Santa Cruz to Elkhorn Slough near Monterey

Photos will follow - its been difficult to get on internet the last week.

October 1st 2008 – Santa Cruz – Monterey Bay

Its 07:44, the sun came up about 1/2hr ago in Santa Cruz - we’re anchored off the shore in 23 feet rolling about in the swells and listening to the California Sea Lion symphony - well I am, Tony and Johnny are still asleep. We have no internet and as I did not save my last few blogsite entries I don’t know where I left off.

Lets start at Half Moon Bay which we did actually see for a couple of hours before the fog socked in and then we didn’t see much from the boat. We launched the dinghy and went ashore and found that its quite a ‘funky fishing’ little town – small; a couple of hotels – lots of bars advertising live music and dancing, which we didn’t feel like doing at 11:00 hrs. The HMBYC – half moon bay yacht club has quite a presence behind the breakwater with Saturday afternoon racing and Sunday all day racing. We went for a long walk with Johnny trying to find access to the long beaches we had seen on our way into the harbour. On the way we found a little farm stall and bought quite a lot of heavy vegetables – so we stopped helping Johnny and headed back – he went on with skim board on back looking for the perfect ‘skimming waves’.
There is a huge pelican colony on the breakwater here – definitely worthy of a few photographs – and though they are smelly we really like pelicans
Its actually a little hard to see them camouflaged against the rocks.

We only stayed in Half Moon Bay one and a half days – leaving early Monday morning. The thought ‘heading south’ is always accompanied in my mind by images of sailing in warm breezed wearing very little clothing – kicking back in our deck chairs – on our deck with margaritas – or in Tony’s case ‘a cold one’, dropping anchor in crystal clear torquois seas, diving off the boat at intervals just to cool down, and occasionally visiting shores just to see where we are.
Definitely doesn’t include fog.
We motored most of the day Monday intending to reach Santa Cruz around 16:00. The fog lifted late morning and we were making good time at about 6 knots, the breeze turned into a good stiff breeze and we sailed wing on wing for the last couple of hours into Santa Cruz. Our plans to anchor overnight were thwarted as the wind piped up a bit too much, so we went into Santa Cruz harbour, where we rafted up for the night.
Yesterday was a beautiful, hot sunny day and we spent it anchored beside the pier looking onto a long sandy beach with a huge permanent fair ground with roller coasters, ferris wheels and lots of other machines to help you empty your pockets and your stomachs.
Tony and Johnny went ashore in the dinghy. The pier has a few small docks where a dinghy can be pulled up – that’s how they got to shore. Johnny went skim boarding and Tony went sight seeing, and arranged to pick Johnny up later.
The pick up didn’t go very well. The rollers coming onto the shore unfortunately were not as regular as Tony’s timing and he was tossed upside down onto the shore underneath the dinghy and dragged back into the surf. Johnny was close by and helped up-right the dinghy, retrieve most of the contents and help Tony back into it, so that he could limp back to the boat, sculling with one paddle. The outboard engine was of course defunct but he was not hurt, and miraculously our camera, which he was wearing around his neck as he toppled over also survived.
The rest of the afternoon was spent drying everything out, washing the outboard with fresh water and changing the oil. It runs fine now.We plan to leave here today and head into Moss Landing. We have heard about the wildlife reserve in Elkhorn Slough, and look forward to seeing that in the sunshine.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

In San Francisco almost a week

When we left Neah Bay and headed out in the big blue Tony said - "We'll be in San Francisco by Wednesday " - he meant next Wednesday. 3 Wednesdays later we arrived in San Francisco and tomorrow we will have been away 1 month.

We came through the Golden Gate bridge at high tide as recommended and it was uneventful, but very exciting to be bringing our own boat into San Francisco. As we were going under the bridge we phoned Georgia (my daughter who lives in San Francisco) and announced our arrival very loudly in unison.

We found Sausalito Yacht Club just exactly where it was supposed to be and pulled up to their transient dock to fill up with water. We stayed on one of their moorage buoys for the next 5 days and enjoyed their facilities - showers, bar and restaurant. The ferry terminal was right next to the yacht club, so we had easy access to downtown SF but we also had a very rolly moorage.
I think I'm beginning to understand the meaning of the 'pace of the cruising life'. I think that it means that you just don't get anything done. In fairness to us - it was hard to get any work done because the boat was pitching about alot.
We did explore Sausalito a bit - a couple of miles walking to the laundromat - and a couple of miles walking to the Bay Model - which is an amazing feat of engineering. It was built and is maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers - started in 1959. The project covers about 2 acres of land and is housed - as are many businesses in that part of Sausalito - on a site where Marinship built 93 tankers during the war. (33 days to produce one 10,000 ton tanker). They employed 75,000 people to build these ships - many of whom had never even seen a ship before.
The Bay Model project was commissioned by a government with foresight - they knew that California would have water problems in the future, and needed to know how to make the most of the Sacramento delta, weather systems, and tides. This model is used to educate the visitors - many of whom are school children on field trips - to understand the need for water conservation and respect for all natural resources.
We were impressed.
We spent a day with Georgia and Wyatt downtown. Mostly we walked about in Chinatown - one of the biggest Chinatowns in the world where we ate a good meal and took lots of pictures just like all of the other tourists.
Alameda is our current location - we sailed over from Sausalito yesterday in the the daily 25 kn winds - they come up at noon and continue until about 6.00pm. We're on the guest dock at Encinal Yacht Club - they have a pool, showers, a great view - no rolling around - all for $15 per day, 84degrees today. We'll be here a couple of days before moving downtown to Pier 39 and then back out into the big water to commence our trip south.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Moored in Sausalito - San Francisco Bay

Eureka is a very nice town/city. It has an old town section which is very picturesque, mostly 'Victorian', 'Edwardian' hotels, business buildings, houses dating back to the late 1800's. Its amazing to walk around the town and think that in its heyday men were still riding the ranges shooting each other - and now it all looks so sedate and very beautiful. There is already the feel of California in the type of shops and the way the young people look. Its hard to describe that look - kinda rasta/hippy/yuppy, dunno - it's alot like San Francisco.

We were told that we must see a particular Victorian house - "the most photographed Victorian in the world" - quite the statement, which of course we were cynical about. Because we forgot our map, we were instantly lost but were helped by a friendly barber who knew exactly which building we meant by the description "the most........". He gave us directions and we took off - just a few blocks away - and when we turned the corner there it was at the end of the road - incredible - almost worth dropping into Eureka, driving over a crashing bar in the dark - in fog about 4 boatlengths visibility, navigating up a couple of miles of channel drenched in more thick fog - just to see it - there it is - it was a private house originally, but is now a private mens' club.

We met a few cruisers in Eureka, including BJ and Jim from Watea - Blue Water people we met at the August rendezvous. The local liveaboard people told us that they had never seen so many cruisers who were passing through as this year - because many of us were coming in for shelter as opposed to keeping on going.

We were docked on the last dock at the end of the marina and had a lovely view of the delta in the morning when we woke up. So many water birds. We love pelicans - of course every time we see pelicans Tony says 'bluddy pelicans' with an Australian accent. Finding Nemo.

We spent 2 nights in Eureka, recouped our strength, did laundry, drank beer in a local Irish Pub, met a couple called Dave and Debbie from Wavesweeper - an American couple on their way to wherever. Dave is an ex NOAA employee and he offered lots of good information about sailing down the coast - having done that most of his working career.

We left Eureka with high hopes that this leg would be the best yet - NOT - straight out into 4 - 6' swells with wind waves a couple of feet more - and yes - you guessed it - on the nose. We suffered this for an hour or so heading west - couldn't turn south too soon or we would run into land - didn't want to turn north as it seemed pointless being out there. I suggested we go back in and try again tomorrow, but was made to see the sense of going a bit further.

We left at 0900 hrs, expecting at approx 5 knots to reach Cape Mendocina in about 5 hours.

We rounded Cape Mendocino at about 0100 hrs the next morning. It was not a rough rounding - but the swells were inhibiting our progress all the way from Eureka . We motor sailed our way along, doing short tacks, using the main to steady us and thus ensuring some forward movement.

The rest of our trip we motored - not enough wind to sail. Each morning we were visited by little birds - yellow finches - sparrows - a chubby little brown bird a bit smaller than a Thrush.

Our best bird encounter was a humming bird which came into the cockpit at about 1900 hrs Monday evening. It was so sweet - it thought that our fire extinguisher was a feeder and tried very hard to extract pollen from it - we even taped a little container of sugar water to it, but it didn't understand. We rushed for cameras and just as I was about to get a shot it landed on my camera and stared into my face - then it landed on my head before flying away.
We dropped anchor in Drakes Bay - about 4 - 5 hours before San Francisco. At our current rate of progress we not have reached the Golden Gate Bridge at a good time - ie. slack flood.
Drakes Bay in a huge bay capable of taking 1000 boats in a sheltered anchorage. It reeked of dairy farm - which took some getting used to - but it was beautiful and absolutely packed with wildlife. All the entertainment we needed - we watched pelicans and se lions competing for the same fish - so dramatic. Very small porpoised were swimming around us for an hour or so, and a small shark like fish - dog-fish perhaps leapt from the water about 4 feet. So many different sea birds - and all to ourselves - not another soul in the whole bay.
We left at 0700 hrs and motored to San Francisco. Thank God - no fog - no sun either but it has just come out. We tied up to Sausalito Yacht Club's private dock - filled up with water - had showers, met a Dutch couple who have just arrived also - having sailed down ahead of us from Victoria in 5 days - but then they've sailed about 50,000 miles in the last 3 years and were not daunted by the 45 knot winds which had us scurrying for cover.
See pictures on webshots - lots of em.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Mr. Chubbs makes a friend

Zoom in on this picture and you'll see this lovely little canary like finch. He spent some time with us today on our trip from Crescent City to Eureka. Unfortunately we lost him, but he was a delightful little visitor.
We left Crescent City this morning at 6.00am in - guess what - thick fog, why not, its been here every other bloody morning. So heading out of the harbour with almost no visibility we ran aground - fortunately the tide was on the rise, so we were only delayed a short while, and Tony gunned the engine a few times and we were lifted off.
About an hour out of the harbour heading south we say grey whales. That was a beautiful sight. Two of them came very close to us and stayed awhile then one of them flipped his fluke as they headed away. Unfortunately I did not take a picture - that's the sort of situation where you make a decision to either watch and take it all in or rush to get the camera and take the chance of losing the whole experience.
Fog - we hate fog, yesterday the fog did not lift at all over Crescent City and today we motored all of the way down to Eureka in it. We also came into Eureka this evening after sundown in thick fog. The buoyage system was good and with Tony on C-map, Johnny on eyes (young good eyes), and me on helm we were shot up the channel at 6 knots and found our way into a lovely marina. A gentleman on the dock helped us moor the boat in a spot which had just been vacated by a fishing boat who passed us in the channel on the way in. He almost blinded us with the huge lights they use for fishing full on as he came down the channel.
We plan to stay in Eureka tomorrow - the weather forecasts are a bit iffy - and we (I) am nervous about approaching Cape Mendecino in iffy conditions. It'll give us a chance to get some laundry done and visit this town, which we hear is neat.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Finally reached California - no not San Fran

Coos Bay is a nice little place - but not for a week. We don't really believe that this coastline is ever anything but wild. We left Coos Bay at 08.15 Monday 8th. During our 6 days there we met a few other boats who were sailing down the coast, all of us were concerned about the weather conditions and were pursuing various sources. Its amazing how many weather sites there are on line. So - we made our decision to leave - as did 2 other boats. A couple of hours into this leg and about 10 miles off the coast and Coos Bay was looking way more attractive, but we plodded on with building wind and seas.
The first vindictive sideways wave I took full in the face was the beginning of the very difficult night that followed.
We finally reefed down to our third reef - which UK Sails had just put in for us before we left Sidney, and flew down the biggest waves I've ever seen. We clocked over 12 knots surfing down one behemoth. After rounding Cape Blanco and its very impressive rocky shore in huge breaking seas we made a decision to go into Brookings which is about 100 miles south of Coos Bay. It would take us a few more hours to get there, but I was really scared. Tony was for keepin on until Crescent City and if conditions improved just keep going.
We had some radio communication with 2 other boats who were out - Julia Max, an American boat from Portland with George, Sue and Bill on board - they'd left a few hours ahead of us.
They were looking to go in as they heard the weather was building to 45 kn. Morgana, a Canadian boat from Campbell River with Ernie, Lionel and Mark on board went out a bit further than us. They radiod us in the evening to see how we were doing and said they were going into Brookings anticipating 0100 arrival on Tuesday morning. We probably weren't likely to arrive until about 0300 hrs.
It became disappointingly obvious by 0100 hours that getting into Brookings wasn't a good idea - to do so would have meant motoring in sideways to 12-15' waves. Another 30 odd miles would take us to Crescent City. We arrived here at 12.00 today - Tuesday 9th.
We jibed 6 times on that leg, many of those in the night in seas that it was best not to look at, all of us totally sleep deprived.
Anything that was not in a cupboard or bungied down was on the cabin floor, the water coming over the decks found its way in, not to mention the stuff that just came in through the companionway.
So here we are in Crescent City Harbour. We've slept most of the day and are now watching a Fish Called Wanda.
This trip to San Francisco sure is taking a long time.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Still in Charleston,Coos Bay - September 5th

Last Wednesday when we left Neah Bay and headed out Tony said, OK next Wednesday we'll be in San Francisco. Well that next Wednesday has gone by and we are still in Coos Bay - Charleston actually, its a nice little fishing town about 350 miles north of San Francisco. We've been here 4 days now awaiting a change in weather.
We have company - 3 other boats are here from BC, a Cal 29 from Victoria, a bit custom built boat from Nanaimo and another Bluewater Cruising power boat from Vancouver. Also a boat we met last year up in Squirrel Cove from Portland, a beautiful 45' Peterson.
These people subscribe to a service called which shows wave heights and wind pretty much all of the world. They've decided to leave tomorrow morning expecting about 25knots and 10-15' waves up to about 10 miles offshore - beyong that it is far worse.
We're debating leaving also, as it doesn't look like its going to get much better in the near future. Charleston is a charming little place - but can't see being here much longer.
Johnny has dragged Tony off to one of the many huge sandy beaches to go skim boarding.
Hope they don't break anything.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Blog Entry – August 23rd 2008
Exodus finally from Sidney – it was lovely to spend time with our friends and family saying goodbye – it took quite a long time – about a month in all, but now its done and we left today at 12.00noon 23rd August – Tony, Johnny and I – we motored all the way from Sidney to Friday Harbour.
Expecting that we would have to give up - and probably throw away some of our fresh - food I cooked most of the way over – we had potatoes and bacon for lunch - and then remembering that perhaps we’d have to give up our fruit we ate oranges, peaches and I made apple sauce from the apples.
We arrived at 16.00 hrs., tied up to the customs dock and called on the cell phone. They asked that we call on a different phone which is on the dock with a camera attached. We had been warned ahead of time that it would be too bad if we got this particularly difficult customs agent, a very large imposing man. Well we must commend Customs Agent Moltar; a very large imposing man who made our entrance into the U.S. so pleasant, plus we got to keep all of our food.
He issued us with a Cruising License – didn’t check over the boat – made pleasant conversation and shook our hands.
The crew – Tony and I, Nancy and my son, Johnny – last minute picture on Sidney North Saanich reciprocal dock.

We left Friday Harbour 25th to face the Juan de Fuca Strait – already receiving weather warnings on VHF. But I’ve never really known the Strait to be anything but ‘orrible (a word we will use often for the next few days), so we progressed slowly and very bumpily. One of the things I’ve always expected of the Juan de Fuca Strait is that the conditions usually ease at night – not this night – well actually they did eventually ease at about 0100 hrs or perhaps its just that the waves always seem better in the dark, so we kept going through the night to Neah Bay – which of course we arrived at in thick fog and calm. While Tony slept Johnny and I crept along in the fog debating whether to keep going out (which was one of our plans – tentative). There were many fishing boats out, lots of sea birds and this was where we saw our first Pelicans. Definitely in foreign waters. So why are there no Pelicans further up the coast? – funny eh!

We went into Neah Bay the morning of 26th under radar and GPS and stayed overnight.
We spent this day hunkered down, caught rain in our rain catcher and checked weather fax. We all wanted very much to be on our way. Speaking for myself, I was very nervous about heading out into the Pacific Ocean with my head full of all of the stories of people getting ‘clobbered’ by bad weather on the way down – so I just wanted to get going before I lost my nerve.
Weather faxes showed us that the wind was blowing South Westerly (on the nose of course) BUT if we headed offshore about 130 miles or so there we would find the perfect North Westerly blowing at about 15knots. That seemed like a good thing to go for. So we started motoring west out past Cape Flattery. What a spectacular, magestic, foreboding – stay away from those incredible rocks – which of course means that our pictures do not do it justice – Cape Flattery. We were hoping that according to our reading of our faxes we would be able to head South Westerly and as the wind veered around to North – which it would be doing forthwith – it would carry us down on those lovely even rolling rollers which all of the good stories prepared us for.

From 1600 hrs 27th to our first tack at 1800 hrs 28th we went from N48 21’ W124 41’ to N48 13’ W126 13’. Not what we’d hoped for, and these are some of the comments in our log. (We used the Sailing Log Bluewater Weather 07) sheets and as each of us came off our watch we logged our position, heading, conditions, barometric pressure, engine hours and made whatever comments we wished – profanities included. “saw a puffin, very bumpy ride – started sailing, Yay!, 2 large ships, glowing cool sea - @#?ing Bull#@ - Horrible Rain – Foggy 1 – 2 mile viz, full sail close reach (albatross) – Shark!!, less albatross, less bull#@?!, motored.

At 1800 hrs we tacked back in towards land and started moving South East, heading 120o
(got no degree symbol, so ‘o’ means degrees). We are starting to settle into our watch system. Thanks to Sean Peck for the watch he suggested from his Hawaii trip. This worked pretty well for 3 of us and we all got to see the different times of day and night; 3 four hour watches during the day 0800 – 1200, 1200 – 1600, 1600 – 2000, one 3 hour watch 2000 – 2300, then 3 two hour watches, 2300 – 0100, 0100 – 0300, 0300 – 0500, another 3 hour watch 0500 – 0800, and then it all starts again.
This seems like an appropriate time to introduce our other crew member, without whom again speaking for myself I would not have been able to manage any of this ……………
Mr. Chubbs – named for his obvious endowment, which seems to point so perfectly into the wind – so far no matter what the strength, and does a way better job that any of us could possibly do. He stands so proudly without any fear or trepidation and just eggs the wind on.
We all love Mr. Chubbs.
For the next 24 hours we sailed mostly South about 50 miles off the coast – fairly uneventful – sometimes fog, rain – fairly typical swells which we are all getting used to – me needing a regular dosage of Stugeron ( I take ½ pill per dose as I do not want to fall asleep), we’ve even had a smooth night where we all admired the bio luminescence in the water – we’re still doing our best with SSW winds running about 10 knots. Barometer has dropped a little and the wind is starting to pick up. By 1600 hours 29th, we are seeing 25 knots gusting to 30 NW,(what we’d been wishing for all along except not 30) and are now running with a double reef main only – big wind and big seas – Oh My God is what I was saying most of the time in my mind, and every now and again screeching out loud, when the hind quarter of the boat including our ‘very well strapped on’ extra fuel tanks disappeared under the water. Thank God I can remember what our hull looks like under the water – because sometimes I actually started to wonder what it would take for this wind and these bloody huge waves to push us over.
Just holding our bodies upright, standing or seated was becoming a challenge – we had a regular joke going as to how pumped up our oblique muscles were getting.
Being the consummate mother and wife I was constantly thinking I should cook something to keep up the crew’s morale – so the joke extended as to how we would be fat people with huge obliques. It was a credit to all of us that we were still able to joke.
We were regularly reaching 6 ½ - 7 knots with just this double reef main, and actually clocked 9.3 knots surfing down waves. Johnny said that standing up on the aft cabin roof before the mizzen mast holding on the back edge of the dodger was like surfing on a 15 ton surfboard. YIKES.

I’m writing these notes after the fact, using the log to prompt memory – and still do remember that night – which is just as well because the only person who made any log entries from 2000hrs 29th – 0800hrs 30th was Johnny – I guess that’s why it was a good idea to have someone young on the boat – after each of our watches Tony and I just staggered into bed – or whatever space was able to hold us still enough to sleep in.

Why is it that a squall has the whole sky in which to do its nasty business, but no – they just always seem to be just above us – either slightly behind sucking the waves up and making them more menacing – or in a line ahead of us beckoning us along into the waves its already sucked up into a fervour.

Though the barometer is rising gradually – which I hold out as hope that its getting better we are regularly seeing 15 – 20 knots which should be good – and would be except for the size of the waves and the irregularity of their direction. It seems that the overall weather system creating the size of the waves coming with the wind was interfered with by the smaller local squalls which were happening all over the place and whipping up the waves in different directions. Our sea state descriptions are becoming quite descriptive – choppy swells, mailto:f@%23!ing large swells, confusing and annoying, breaking, horrible, big mothers, YUK, PLEASE STOP IT. But we are really trucking now, for us 120 miles in 24 hours is very good.

Its 31st August, and the weather fax has been showing stationary gales hanging around Cape Mendecino for the last week. We are all exhausted - sleeping has been very difficult for all of us and we’ve decided not to keep going to San Francisco, but to pull in. The gales are moving north and we don’t want to be out here having to cope with more bad weather in our weakened state, so we decide to head in. We were thinking Crescent City but that would mean another 24 hours out. We check out Coos Bay Oregon and decide to head in.

A good decision made, our spirits lifted. We’ve reconciled ourselves to continuing to run with the double reef main – its keeping us moving at about 5 knots in the right direction.
We were visited by a huge pod of dolphins – maybe 50, charging at us, flipping 360 spins up in the air and slapping their tails on the surface. We couldn’t believe it. They stayed with us for about 15 minutes, and it was like being visited by playful angels. That day we saw albatross, a huge shoal of tuna, dolphins and birds – a marine biology extravaganza.

Having decided to go into Coos Bay, we started to hear on VHF the local Coast Guard giving Bar Reports – no its not a critique on the bars in town – but the condition of the bars heading into the various ports. The Coast Guard is extremely helpful – will even escort a boat across the bar if the skipper needs help. We figured the best way to cross the bar into Coos Bay would be at slack tide turning to flood, so we timed our approach, set our sails to slow us down. We put up our newly acquired Stay Sail which kept us moving at about 3 knots throughout the night and inched our way into Coos Bay. We wanted to arrive there at 0900 hours – now Sept 01. Mostly this night was crisp, cool and bright with an incredible firmament of stars, the clearest night so far. Still corkscrewing along in very large waves.

On approach to Coos Bay Tony called the Coast Guard and they told us the condition of the bar was good to cross, told us where we would be able to moor once inside. We tried to call the Harbour Master, who was not there because it was a public holiday. But an American boat leaving the harbour heard our call and responded, giving us all of the information we could possibly need.

Here we now sit in Charleston Marina which is just inside the estuary. We are paying $18 per night to be here including power, we are surrounded by fishing boats and liveaboads who are all interested in us, extremely helpful. The town of Coos Bay is about 13 miles away – we could take Moondancer up the river, but it will only make the leaving a little more difficult. We’ve been offered a lift to town on 3 different occasions by the people around us on the dock. Also the information from other sailors and fishermen around us who know the coast is valuable.
Today we repaired our genoa, which came apart on all of the radial seams along the leach and ripped along the foot. We scrubbed off all of the winter grime, did some laundry, found downtown Charleston, and a posh bar where we had posh drinks.
We like Charleston, and we’re very impressed with our dealings with the authorities and the local people. Authorities – as we had already been issued a Cruising License in Friday Harbour we just had to call in to Homeland Security for Coos Bay, just to let them know we are here. They welcomed us and gave us a few phone numbers for future destinations.