Friday, January 28, 2011

Return to Guyamas, Sonora, Mexico

We finally left a cold and rainy Vancouver on January 16th for the warmth of Sonora, Mexico.

Weathered figure head found in Guaymas boatyard.

Our Sunday morning Delta flight to Phoenix had been cancelled but they re-booked us on a direct flight with US Airways. We arrived earlier than expected and the extra time allowed us to pick up our pre-ordered Raytheon depth sounder/knot meter and bottom paint from West Marine.

At the hotel desk, our Alpenglow replacement bulbs were waiting for us, thanks to Debi. We are truly thankful of the great service we received from this company. We had ordered the wrong sized bulbs while in Duncan. When we emailed the company, they offered to express ship the new bulbs to Phoenix, since we were about to leave the island.

Our sojourn in Phoenix was not all fun. Ironically, Chris came down with a nasty stomach bug on our first day there ( we never seem to have this problem in Mexico! ). Whether it was the under-cooked over-easy egg he ate at a local fast food place or contact with a contagious niece a few days earlier, we shall never know, but he was indisposed for the next couple of days. I drove around to buy a few provisions (mainly almonds, ziploc bags, toiletries) and Imodium for Chris!

On Tuesday, he was feeling well enough for a 2 hour drive to Sedona, an artsy little town known for it's healing hot spots near various vortices. We went there to hike in the Coconino National Forest, although Chris could have used some healing!Our first hike was a 4.5 mile loop starting at Cibola Pass via Jordan's Trail, Soldiers Pass and up to Brins Mesa, a perfect 3 hour trek with stunning views. The first portion was an easy walk through a cool forest of junipers and pine with some snow patches in shadowed areas. We passed a large sink hole, The Devil's Kitchen. As we climbed up, the views opened to vistas of the valley and the town of Sedona. On each side of the trail were manzanita bushes, yuccas and prickly pear cacti. We had a picnic lunch at the top of the grassy mesa, looking down into Mormon Canyon and towards our car parked at Thompson Creek.
Can you see the face in the rock?

View at our lunch spot

Since there were still a few hours of daylight left, we drove to a second trail at Doe Mountain. Along the narrow trail winding up the mountain we met a French couple who were also keen sailors and travelers, so we had a good chat before continuing to the plateau at the summit. The sunset views from the plateau were amazing, the red rocks ablaze all around the valley.

Looking east from the top of Doe Mountain near sunset.

On Wednesday, we took the light rail to Tempe, the Arizona Sate University town and walked along the restaurant lined streets, on the campus and beside a man-made lake for a pleasant afternoon.

Our TBC bus departed at 10pm, so we spent a few hours just catching up on emails at the hotel. We had an assortment of 7 bags, including an astonishingly heavy tote bag crammed with stuff that is hard to find in Mexico as well as two cans of copper bottom paint concealed in grocery bags. Unfortunately, we had to change buses at Nogales, the Mexican border town, hoofing our mountain of luggage through customs and onto the second bus. Customs was easy – we traipsed past the traffic light with our luggage and got the green light. I actually had to insist on stopping at immigration to get a 6 month visa while all the Mexicans waited patiently in the bus. The proceeding eight hour ride was a bit bumpy as the second bus was not exactly new, but we managed to sleep some hours.

Ladybug's dust coated deck.

When we treached Guaymas, it was exciting to finally board Ladybug. The thick layer of red dust on her decks was no surprise. Chris wasted no time in hosing her off while I inspected the interior. We had left all the bedding, settees and cushions covered in sheets but there was very little dust and grit. No cucarachas anywhere! All our provisions seemed to have survived the summer, other than the soya, left in a not very airtight jar ( crawling with teeny little insectos !). Our constantly running computer fan and good ventilation had been very effective.

Boatyard waterfront.

Fishing boat awaiting repair. There is a large commercial boatyard next door to our little cruiser's yard.

The boatyard was as busy as ever, ranging from the long-term guys re-building old wooden boats they probably wished they had never bought in the first place, sailors using their boats as condos in a warm place and people like us wanting to leave in a few weeks. We met Francisco and Juan, the friendly Mexican workers who had helped us with our hauling out last year. I also bumped into Barry, off S/V Nutshell, and he offered me a ride to pick up some groceries at Soriana in Guaymas. That meant we could eat something other than sandwiches and restaurant fare.

Chris removes the leaking stainless steel water tank.

Chris watches while Henrick welds a patch on the tank.

We had to adjust to climbing up and down a 12 foot ladder to enter or exit our home. The washroom/shower building is next to our boat, and the state of the facilities would never meet the standards back home. It's BYOTP&S ( bring your own toilet paper and soap )!

Life up a ladder.

Lady's washroom and public library.

Since our arrival, we have been busy making repairs to make the boat ready for our departure this weekend. Chris has installed the new depth sounder and zincs, rigged the sails, re-stuffed the stuffing box, checked the transmission oil and painted the bottom. We also took out our stainless steel water tank, which was leaking from one of the welds and, with the help of a Swedish sailor named Henrick, had it rewelded, patched and re-installed.

What have I done? Not a heck of a lot as most of the work involves special skills or muscle, sadly lacking. I have made several excursions with Kathy and Hal of S/V Airborne into town to shop for provisions and cooked a few curry dinners, including butter chicken which lasted 3 days! The temperature in the cabin usually starts off around 59F in the morning and goes up to around 70F in the afternoon. It is a lot warmer in the sun outside, of course.

Eric and a local crane operator pulling out a mast for repainting and re-rigging.

Internet reception is good on our boat and I actually attended a webinar on Schizophrenia and Psychoses organised by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain while sitting on our boat deck yesterday!

We love our evening strolls along a road that goes past the marina seca towards the naval base as there are lovely sea views towards Guaymas and the other side of the harbour is a wall of craggy mountains.

It's good to be back!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Back to Mexico

Well it has been a long time since we updated this blog and my apologies for this. Rani had some issues with tendonitis that has prevented her from using the computer much and I have just been busy doing non-sailing related things.

Recorder concert at local school

This fall, I played recorder in a local quartet, worked at the university in Victoria as a research assistant, and taught a 3rd year computer science course. I had been warned by several friends that the teaching would be time consuming and boy were they right! When you teach a class for the first time you need to budget for at least 15-20 hours per week to prepare lectures and mark assignments. Some weeks it took closer to 30 hours! We also finished most of the inside renovations on our house and even managed to get married. A 'brief' selection of pictures from before, during, and after the wedding can be found here.

We also did quite a bit of hiking with the Cowichan Outdoors Group and this trip to Mexico will be in stark contrast to our recent recreation.

We fly out of Vancouver for Phoenix in a few days and will then take the bus down to Guaymas where Ladybug awaits us. The plans are modest this season and we will sail south through the islands in the Sea of Cortez to La Paz, across to Puerto Vallarta, possibly stopping at ports north of there en route, then return to Guaymas via La Paz and the islands in May. We are both really looking forward to some sunny warm weather - today we had a foot of snow and the power was out for 7 hours+!