Monday, October 26, 2009
We are off now to cruise the islands and coves north of here and will probably be out of email contact until around Nov 10th. A number of people we met last season are up north of us and we hope to cross paths as they head south.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Mid-channel we were boarded by a squadron of wasps which bit us both – final score Chris 7 Wasps 2. We finally had a nice 4-5 knot wind from the north and put up our sail. Then a squall hit us just past the the San Lorenzo Channel making it difficult to take down the mainsail in 30+ knot winds and we had to beat our way with the engine running into El Merito Cove to put down our anchor. The bay was nice and peaceful, so Chris cooked us a delicious fritata followed by Ferrero Rocher for dessert. He had also hand-drawn a cute birthday card showing Ladybug being chased by Hurricane Rick!!
To backtrack, we left Mazatlan on Thursday afternoon to cruise in the Sea of Cortez, spend a little time snorkeling and swimming in Los Muertos, the islands near La Paz and in some of the gorgeous bays to it's north. We were beating into a west and then a northwest wind and the boat healed at 15-20 degrees for the next 2 days. I had lost my sea legs after 5 months on terra firma and lost my lunch on the first day and did not feel like eating on the second either.
The Southbound Net radio weather forecast by Don on Thursday night gave us cause for concern as a tropical depression lying off Acapulco was being upgraded to a hurricane named Rick and it was heading to the Baja. Rick grew up super fast, it's intensity up to Category 5 ( winds of 180 mph ) by Sunday morning, my birthday. We had lots of time to get to La Paz as Rick was not due to make landfall at Cabo San Lucas unti Tues night/Wed morning this week. But, was it wise to come to La Paz rather than keep going north?
After 4 days at sea, we were tired and decided to hunker down at one of the marinas after all, arriving this morning. We are expecting hurricane winds on Wednesday morning but people who have been at this marina for years have assured us that it is well protected by the breakwater and the docks are secure.
For the last 3 days, all we saw was a haze of clouds stretching hundreds of miles to the south, then the feathery cirrus clouds ( mares' tails ) passed over us 2 days ago followed by a lower layer of puffy cumulus clouds yesterday and the blackish thunderheads which brought the squall. They all portend a very bad weather system coming this way. We took off our roller furling sail and stowed it inside, tied the boat with as much line as we had, put out all the fenders and battened down the hatches.
However, much to our relief, Rick has weakened and turned east and all we should get here in La Paz is heavy rains and some gale force winds at the most.
Rick at his best - the most powerful hurricane recorded here in over a decade!
Thunder head approaching. We were struck by a sudden squall a few minutes later.
Calm seas of Los Muertos where we made landfall after a 54 hour crossing, beating much of the way.
Our little family at Singlar marina in Mazatlan - Eunice, Rani, Alma, and Myriam.
Old town Mazatlan
One of many lovely old crumbling buildings in Mazatlan. Many have no interior, with trees and plants sprouting from the 'floors'. American and Canadian buyers are renovating these older homes as retirement properties.
Acapulco on a smaller scale. The fellow below declined to dive but his younger and crazier partner did so a few minutes later. There is only about 6 feet of water below so they wait for a good swell and dive into the wave.
Lori and Ken, our cruising friends from last year in Magdalena Bay have settled in Mazatlan and bought a small but cozy home in the old town. They will live here, make music, and keep their boat to cruise the Sea of Cortez.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Here are a few videos from the copper canyon trip (see next blog entry for details).
Chepe train outside El Fuerte.
Canyons and rivers.
Deep in the canyons.
On a rancho near Cerocahui.
Huicochi Falls near Cerocahui
Gallegos view point above Urique Canyon
More Gallegos view point above Urique Canyon
Mission church in Cerocahui
Look off near Posada Barrancas
There are frequent views of rivers and this stunning stretch of water that I think is a lake or maybe just a widening of the river.
This is Cerocahui, a small agricultural town with a mission (ex-Jesuit) and school. It is located in a lovely valley, surrounded by mountains and rivers.
The town was full of wildlife - dogs, roosters, chickens, horses, and the occassional burro. At night, the dogs would start a chorus, sometimes keeping it up for an hour or so. Our rooster alarms would usually go off a couple of times in the night when a car's lights interrupted their sleep and start in in earnest well before dawn.
On the road to Urique (a town in the bottom of the canyon).
We hiked the next day in the valley of the lions. The so called lions are a stunning ridge of red rock with a layer of white on top. The pinnacles do look like animals or birds from different angles. The village of Cerocahui is below.
A group of four Finnish exchange students also stayed in these cabanas and took a horse tour of the valley the next morning. We were allowed to tag along, but soon got frustrated with the horses' slow pace.
We bought a half dozen baskets made of fragant pine needles and pine wood from this woman. Most Raramuri are shy and turned away from us if they saw our camera. They rarely looked at us even when discussing prices for their wares.
Rani watches two young Raramuri weaving with pine needles.
We wandered around El Fuerte the next morning then took the bus to Los Mochis and the TAP bus to Mazatlan.
Monday, October 5, 2009
The 90+F temperature combined with 70% humidity was quite a shock to the system as we stepped outside the airport. Would I ever feel fresh and cool again? Streams of sweat coursed down my face and into my blouse as we waited for a collectivo taxi to gather some more passengers.
We arrived at the Marina Singlar to be greeted with hugs and kisses from the staff who were having a BBQ. It felt as if we had come home.
My luggage had not arrived with me and I figured that it was probably due to a close connection between my flights at L.A. Airport. I was worried that the expensive sheets, winch handle and other items for the boat may never make it despite the airline agent's reassurance that the bags would be delivered within a day or two.
Miraculously, we received both pieces the next evening with a note explaining that the lock on my duffel bag had been cut by the U.S. Transport Security people to examine suspicious looking objects. It was all Chris's fault, of course, as he had packed a conical zinc for our propeller and it looked suspiciously like a missile tip! Combined with the saw blades, safety harnesses and my ethnic name on the bag, I can understand why they thought I might be a terrorist - if only they had seen my photo and my 5 foot frame!
As for our Ladybug, after 5 months at the slip, it was in remarkably good shape, thanks to our friend Tony, who came over each month to air it out and check the engine etc.There were only a few telltale stains from water leakage on the galley counter beneath the main hatch, amazing considering the nightly showers in the summer.
On our first night we had a simple supper of huevos rancheros cooked on Ladybug II as we had to rely on a little shop near the marina for supplies. Chris filled our water tanks from the dock and I realised that we would be drinking tepid water for months to come - yuk!
The next morning, we took the air-conditioned bus to the Mega for our staple foods and fresh produce. The A/C cooled store was a welcome relief from the humidity and heat outside. In fact, when we entered the store, it felt as if we had stepped into a freezer. It was a challenge figuring out which veggies and fruit would survive in the not so cool lockers on board ( we do not use ice as the lockers are poorly insulated ). Since we do not have a working fridge either, we keep a few necessary items like cheese in the staff fridge at the marina.
It took several mornings to rig the boat again in readiness for cruising and Chris has now stripped and applied Cetol to both the cap and rub rails giving the boat a lovely varnished look. We were sapped of energy most afternoons due to the heat , so we sat close to the little fans inside the cabin and occupied ourselves by reading. In the evenings we generally take a short walk around the marinas for some badly needed exercise.
Our only excursions have been to a swimming pool at a nearby resort and a nice beach for a swim. The usual 20 minute walk to the beach probably took longer under the scorching sun but it was well worth it. I needed some encouragement to get beyond the breaking surf as it looked quite turbulent out there. On the walk back, I picked up a coconut from a bunch left by workmen trimming a palm tree outside a house and we asked a gardener to use his machete to cut it open for us. The coconut milk was sweet and delicious!
It's been great getting in touch with some of our old buddies out here, although most of them are up in the Sea of Cortez and we probably will not see them for a while. A great surprise was finding some long lost friends through Tony. We had lost contact wit musician friends Lori and Ken after spending a very special Christmas 2008 with them in Magdalena Bay and found them right here in Mazatlan.
This coming week we shall be heading to the amazing Copper Canyon which is 4 times larger than the Grand Canyon. We plan to take the El Chepe train to Creel from Los Mochis, stopping at some small villages en route to hike the fantastic trails to waterfalls and cave dwellings used by the Raramuri Indians.