Monday, June 21, 2010

Broken this, broken that... Leaky this, creaky that...

Before I start... apologies for no pictures on this one. We're at an internet cafe and I'm not on my own computer... I'll add pictures when I can!!

Halfway up the Baja! 400 miles to go...!

This trip has been an incredible learning experience.

Eric finally coaxed me into buying an over-the-ounter prescription drug called "stugeron," which is recommended in sailing books to relive effects of seasickness. The drug is actually made for people with vertigo, but taken in 25 mg tablets, it works like a charm to dispel vomiting, fatigue and the other symptoms of seasickness. Thank goodness, because this trip would have been (literally) hell without it.

I have a new respect for fiberglass hulls, and the sturdyness of our boat. As we slammed into waves and were worked by the wind, we could hear the boat flexing and could feel our own bodies cringing at the feeling of being tossed over the edge of another wave... but Nanu has stood strong. I'm very glad that I have a good captain though.

Aside from the miserable sea conditions, the trip has been splendid! The outside coast of the Baja is a barren desert full of adventures and secrets that we've been enjoying on our stops.

When we stopped in Magdelina Bay, we had all kinds of adventures. There used to be an old whaling station ashore, so we went on a mission to find some whale bones. The station had actually been inhabited- by shark fishermen, and we got to talk to them, and see their catches of bull sharks, hammerheads and other mean-looking people eaters. I even pet a dead one! We found whale bones further down the beach, athough most of the bones had apparently been taken into one of the closer cities to be put on display at a museum. We almost lost the dinghy there... the tide came up and swept it away. Had the fishermen not come to the rescue, it could have been a not-so-great situation...!

In San Juanico we saw some AWESOME longboard surf places, although the water is so unbearably cold here that neither of us are exactly excited about jumping in... even with wetsuits. Eric found a gigantic old lobster carcass that must have belonged to a lobster well over 15 lbs.

In Asuncion, we went to town and finally got some much-needed provisions and were impressed at how well-groomed the town was. Grape vines hung out onto the sidewalks and locals watered their orange, lime, and other trees on their front yards. The sidewalks were clean and lined with everything from sunflowers to pink poppies to beautiful flowering catuses... we were very impressed.

Here in Turtle Bay the streets are gravel and sand. The little stores sell more american food than Mexican, and people race out to your boat to be the first person to sell you fuel, water and to take your garbage...

One of the biggest challenges of this trip so far is cooking underway. Things on the stove often end up on th floor, we find carrots in strange places sometimes, and the motivation to carry out a meal under such annoying circumstances turns into a dread. But does it ever make the meals in harbor wonderful!! ...I made cabbage rolls one night that were heavenly. My lasagna tonight tasted like it was straight from Italy.

There is certainly no slow in widlife, even though the water temperature is so different compared to the mainland. Sea lions that think they're dolphins jump up and spin ahile they take curious looks at the boat. Dolphins that must be more comfortable in colder water (we never saw them on the mainland) still play along the bow with their grey backs, white tummies and half-grey, half-white fins. Boobie birds still try to make crash-landings on the boat and the amount of fishing boats off of the coast here makes me think that there's plenty of good fishing... although Eric is apprehensive (understandably) to catch anything while we're underway.

So we are now officially 1/2 way up the Baja...

We've been having engine problems that have enabled me to learn a bunch about engines. Whether that's good or not... Not really sure. It started off that our hot water maker was not working (which sucks in the cold weather!). When Eric (with me hanging over his shoulder) did some further investigating, we found salt water in the aux. cooling tank. Which meant a hole in the heat exchanger. With the hole, it means that the water is rapidly replaced with more water (from the hole) and makes the overflow spew out extra (salty) water into the bilge. Yesterday when I grabbed our mainsail cover, I found it to be SOAKED, and after digging out everything in our rear quarterberth, we found everything sokaed. The aux. overflow was leaking back into the boat onto our sails and cloths, rather than into th bilge. Hmph. The boat looked like a garage sale after we laid everything out to dry... Now we've got the overflow piped in so it is directed into the bilge. We have to pump it out every half an hour or so now... there's ALOT of water that runs through that engine!!

A few days our autopilot kicked out, which has left us manually steering the boat outside in the elements. It{s miserble work and both Eric and I have talked it over and are not down for doing 400 more miles without an autopilot to steer the boat while the engine is running.

We have decided to sail 200 miles NW out to sea to Isla Guadalupe (the furthest west in Mexico you can go) and then turn back east and do another 225 miles NW to (hopefully) San Diego. This will allow us to sail rather than motor straight into the wind. Well be able to use our windvane rather than our electronic autopilot. It adds on almost 75 miles onto the trip, but other wise, we would have to sail back down to Cabo to get aother autopilot. Bum business I tell yah.

I cant wait until I can sit on a toilet and not have to hold on for dear life so I don't fall off!!!

So we'll be here in Turtle Bay until we can find some water (no available water in town) and fuel up. Well have to provision and plan for about three weeks at sea. Isla Guadalupe has nothing on the island. The weather looks favorable, and with all the hurricane activity south of us, we're even hoping for some south wind.

The thermometer is reading 21*C right now, and I've got a teeshirt, hoodie sweater, wool socks and wooly jogging pants on. We're southern chickens now, and in addition to not being climatized to the chillier weather, the ocean wind freezes us to the bone. At night I wear full foul weather gear (heavy gortex waterproff/windproof bib pants and a jacket), wool socks, shoes a toque... in the afternoon if the sun is shining I'll still have my wool socks and bib pants... but maybe a tee-shirt on a good day!

So keep tuned into SPOT to see where we are. We'll give you a happy next blog (hopefully) with pictures from our trip to San Diego!!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

900 Miles Up the Baja...!

...More later...!

900 miles up the Baja...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Punta Mita to Cabo San Lucas

We've got a good weather window and are itching to leave...
You'll hear from us in three or four days.
Check out our SPOT to see where we are...
300 miles from Punta Mita to Cabo San Lucaaasss!!

P.S. We heard rumors that Lion's Paw and Caramelo will be joining us there!


Rach and Eric Oxo

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Freshwater Fun...!

Most recent thing we ate:
Eric: 0.9 peso bread from Mega with butter
Rachael: 0.9 peso bread from Mega with cream cheese

We're listening to:
8.122.00 HAM net weather. We're hoping for a weater window to head north.

What are we planning on doing today:
Getting our propane tanks filled. Apparently the marina will do it in La Cruz.

What's the first thing you'll eat when you get to an "American" grocery store:
Eric: Nothing really. But I do miss pesto sauce... and I wouldn't mind salami.
Rachael: Salami. And raspberries. And cheese.

What are you most looking forward to once we get to HMB?
Eric: Will not comment.
Rachael: Running along the boardwalk at HMB... a pretty jog!

What are you least looking forward to:
Eric: No comment. He doesn't play this game very well.
Rachael: Smog, traffic, people, rat racee... ugh.

Ask most people who grew up in inland USA or Canada and they'll tell you that there's nothing like the smell of a freshwater river or lake. Nothing like swimming in salt-free water and nothing like the thought of not getting eaten by salt-water man-eaters... well, maybe that's only me... but...

We left Punta Mita in the morning and headed south across Banderas Bay. The wind was just right to fly a spinnaker and before long, Nanu was being pulled along by our conventional spinnaker. Nanu sailed along never letting us go slower than 4 knots.

Quimixto was rolly. Nanu lolled from one side to another as wind swell hit her beam and sent her tipping to the other side. We put out a stern anchor (to point her into the waves) and then put the flopper stopper out and (most) of the rolling abated.

We rowed to shore early the next morning and followed the muchly eroded donkey trails up the slopes behind Quimixto.

We spent the entire day wading through crystal clear river water, dodging under trees, sliding between boulders, climbing up cactus-infested hills and swimming in all kinds of sand-bottom swimming holes.

The river was often lined by granite-sided "canyons," which were awfully fun to wander around in.

Every bend in the river turned up a beautiful new vista that made us want to go "just around one more" bend...

Soon enough, the sun was beginning to set and we were well aware that with abundant freshwater, the mosquitos and no-seeum's would be out in full force and we turned around and headed back down along the river bed.

We picked up anchor the same day and sailed the thirteen miles to La Cruz with the intention of staying for the least amount of time possible. The next morning we motored to the fuel dock, got 30 litres of diesel and filled our water tanks and rinsed Nanu's topside with freshwater and motored to Punta Mita...

We spent a few more days in Punta Mita. Surf reports showed swell coming in at 13 feet and we anxiously awaited it's arrival... but it didn't really come the way we thought.

After a few days of not so great surf, we sat down and decided that it was time to start talking really seriously about heading north. Both of us admitted that we "were ready," to leave the sunny shores of Mexico and begin the ominous journey back to the "normal" life.

We're now in La Cruz. We went to Mega yesterday and filled our shopping cart with provisions that we will be needing for the trip north. Hot chocolate, Earl Grey Tea, zucchinnis and tomatoes. Even gouda cheese! ...Amongst other things...

Today, as said before, we're going to fill our propane tanks...

Tomorrow we're going into town and playing some guitar with an old friend from town. He was excited to hear that I played and sang and was interested in trying out some duets... so we shall see how that goes!

Aside from propane, we're going to need tons of fuel to motor us the 900 miles from here to San Diego. We priced out two 150 litre paint jugs that are heavy duty that we're going to go and pick up. They'll be holding diesel in them from Cabo up to San Diego.

And then- we have to wait for a weather window. Right now a gale is blowing off of the Baja that would make it unwise for us to try even crossing the Sea of Cortez until it subsides.It sounds like the wind may die down by Saturday, but things may change in five days... we shall see!!

Anyhow, we'll keep you updated... either from La Cruz or Punta Mita...Cheers!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Trying to Reason With Hurricane Season...

Yesterday officially marked the beginning of hurricane season in the eastern Pacific ocean. That exciting day hid the sun behind clouds and sent a trickle of rain down onto the top of Nanu's deck. Not that the rain had anything to do with huricane season. Nor did the hundreds of jellyfish that floated into our favorite surf spot, or the cold water that couldn't have been more than 70*f.

In fact, according to the "facts," not to much is going to start happening around here for at least another month. I've been doing my research and here's what I've come up with...

If you want to read more, these are the sites I grabbed stats and images off of:


1951 not a single tropical storm or hurricane has passed within 250 miles of Baja.


In June the Eastern Pacific is starting to really warm up and the storm activity increases. By mid June hurricanes become a possibility in Baja, although still pretty remote. The last time a June hurricane hit Baja was in 1958. The early season storm packed winds of 85 mph as it passed within 25 miles of Cabo San Lucas, which wasn't much more than a few fishing huts at the time.

A map of the west coast of Mexico showing all the hurricanes in the month of June since 1948.


In July the water in the Sea of Cortez is warmer. But hurricanes in our hemisphere want to go to the west because of their rotation. The jet stream usually doesn't drop southward across Baja until late August. Historically speaking, July is a safe month too, as the storms move harmlessly out into the Pacific and dissipate. There has been one Category 2 hurricane brush past Magdalena Bay and make landfall north of San Ignacio back in July of 1954. Tropical storm Calvin hit East Cape in 1993 and another tropical storm Calvin hit Todos Santos in 1981.

A map of the west coast of Mexico showing all of the hurricanes in July since 1948.

SO... knock on wood that this will be like any other year!

But our trusty hurricane watch website has told us there's nothing to worry about...

Our trusty hurricanewarning site tells us we don't have to worry about hurricanes right now...

So- on to more exciting things!!

Rum for everyone! We finally left Punta Mita!

Rachael trying to ride a left wave. I have only recenty become competent at standing up regularly...

With the predictions of the surf swell dying off in Punta Mita, Eric and I decided that it would be fun for a change of scenery... we were laughing about being "locals" at the place where we surf and were itching to check out something new...

About a week ago we scrubbed Nanu's bottom (which is in dire need of a paint job) and grabbed some last minute provisions in town.

Nanu, Tao and Caramela left pUnta Mita before the wind picked up. The sun was just rising over the land as we went around the point and headed north.

The sailing was phenomenol! A straight reach all the way to Chacala (30 miles) without any need for a tack. We chatted on the radio with Tao and Caramela and had a lovely sail with our main and 120 drifter keeping us going between three and five knots...

S/V Caramela managed to anchor in the prime spot for some phenomenol sunset pictures at Chacala.

Chacala was wonderful! We stern-anchored (when we have two anchors out- one on the bow and one on the stern to keep us facing into the swell) and were amazed at the clarity and temperature of the water. It was so warm!

The little bay was surrounded by fruit orchards. Orange trees, pineapples, bananas and every other kind of fruit you could ask for waited to be picked for the local markets in the area.

Chris, Kristina, Ryan and Eric on a mission to go to Las Varras... Chacala in the background...

We surfed our hearts out on a left break that Chris and Eric knew about and explored around town. Although the waves were small, it was a fun break that kept us all entertained for several days!

Eric enjoyed Chacala's left wave. Although the swell was small, it still provided us with hours of entertainment!

Ryan managed to get an infection in his eyes and Christina had insisted that they go and see a doctor. Chris (Tao) and Eric and I went along and we hopped in a taxi that took us 12 miles inland to the bustling town of Las Varras. While Ryan and Christina visited the doctor, Chris, Eric and I explored the town.

The main drag in Las Varras. The small tiendas and stores were well-stocked and everyone was friendly...!

Trying to find an internet cafe, we found the local library that was (in my opinion) not very full of books. And very well-hidden in what looked like an apartment building. Had there not been a massive sign, we might not have known...

La biblioteca de Las Varras. The library was hidden away in an apartment building and had maybe a thousand books.

The poor juice-maker lady had to fill my painstaking order of three fresh-squeezed orange juices. Do you know how many oranges it takes to hand-squeeze three large (750ml) cups of orange juice!?

Eric and Chris taking a break in the Las Varras zacala. The community church is in the background.

Meeting back up with Caramela we ended up at a neat little taco stand owned by a fellow with a smart- butted comment for everything you said... the tacos were great!

Kristina and Ryan choosing only the best mangoes from the fruit stand...

We managed to get the taxi driver to drop us off at a HUGE fruit stand on the side of the road and we spent 20 minutes marvelling at pineapples, mangoes, bananas, yacas and CANDY! We walked away with a kilo of mangoes and enough fruit-based candy to make anyone (other than a sugar-holic) a tooth ache... success!!

Although it looks like tons of variety, there was mostly only watermelon, mangoes, pineapples, coconuts, bananas and yakas...

With the promise of 8ft surf, we left Chacala and headed another 30 miles north to a bay just south of San Blas caled Matenchen Bay.

There was no surf.

Rachael, Eric, Kristina and Chris waiting for waves on a very flat day at Chacala...

But lots of bugs (we're still itchy!)

Please. Don't poo here. A sign that we giggled over in Chacala.

We spent a day at Matenchen hunting down "potential" surf spots. Chris crammed into the Fatty Knees and the three of us went on nearly a three hour sail around the bay to see the breaks. The sail was nice, but we didn't turn up anything interesting...

Chris came over for dinner that night and we enjoyed an evening of beers and stories before bedtime.

The next morning, Eric made the executive decision that we were going back south to catch the last of the swell at Punta Mita.

We bid a final farewell to Tao and Caramela before pulling anchor and headed south again in the name of surf.

The sail was another wonderful reach with only one tack and an average speed of around 5.5 knots. Awesome. We arrived in Punta Mita right before the sun set and dropped anchor before hitting the hay.

In the morning, the clouds and a chilly breeze greeted us and as we headed out to the surf spot, we knew it was going to be a weird day. Indeed it was. A jellyfish infestation and cold, cold water drove us out and we spent the rest of the afternoon in Punta Mita picking up some fresh produce.

Once again here we are in Punta Mita, although now we are beginning to seriously think about heading north.

With the winds of change coming soon, Eric has been making more of an effort to listen to the weather and we're slowly getting the last bit of our kicks in Banderas bay in before we begin the bash north.

We still plan on going to Quimixto one more time for a hike up a waterfall and haven't quite gotten enough surf in, but soon enough we'll be one of the boats that we regularly see northbound.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Can't help but smile...

So I can't help but smile as we sit in Punta Mita anchorage sipping red wine and recalling the last two weeks of adventures...

Right now the sun has just set after casting the western horizon in shades of pink and yellow before slipping below the tree line. Now the anchorage is dark but the distant crash of waves is audible from all areas of the boat... the surf is the biggest it's been in a long time, and the air, full of the noise of moving water and sticky salt air is getting us excited for our surf session tomorrow morning...

But much more has happened other than surfing these days. It's been a wonderful blur of dinners with friends, sailing adventures and cultural celebrations that take place nowhere else, except wonderful Mexico.

We've been having some wonderful times with people that are our age- S/V Pisces made an unexpected stop in Punta Mita after doing the LONGEST trip between La Cruz and Punta Mita (it took them threes days and something like 750 miles) and we had a wonderful potluck dinner on their boat with S/V Tao, S/V Estrella and S/V Carmella.

Another night, Chris (Tao) got a year older and we all grouped up on Estrella's boat and had a wonderful evening of pineapple upsidedown cake (without the maraschino cherries) and drinks.

Adam (Estrella), Chris, Eric and I are the surf bums and spend alot of time out at the "Bahia"...

Punta Mita is quickly becoming our favorite anchorage in Banderas Bay. Put the awesome surfing aside, it's a beautiful, calm anchorage set beside a bustling but still largely traditional Mexican town- but surfing is certainly its big draw.

Eric and I have spent very few days in town considering how long we've been here, but it's been fun notheless.

After I ran out of my last pair of underwear we were forced into town to do a load of laundry which was an accumulation of at least a month and a half of our dirty clothes and linens. 45 lbs of laundry was handed back to us, clean, folded and smelling squeaky clean from the local lavanderia for 273 pesos...

Our favorite few tiendas are well-stocked and we occassionally make a trip into town to stock up on veggies and meat...

It was only a few days ago however when we looked at our empty fruit hammock and our empty fridge and our empty water tanks that we decided that we had to pull anchor in Punta Mita and head to La Cruz t re-stock at WaMart and fill up our fuel and water tanks at the marina.

Tao and Estrella and Nanu all pulled anchor together and we had a great time playing Pirates of the Caribean with each other as we tested the downwind capabilities of our boats. The wind was blowing a steady 14 knots off of our stern and we sailed wing-on-wing until we had to round the point. Taking a less direct route to get to La Cruz, we left Estrella and Tao and ended up in the middle of Banderas Bay when the wind suddenly picked up to 20 knots...

We haven't been doing much sailing in the past while, so it seemed like EVERYTHING became mobile and while Eric reefed our sails, I ran around frantically below deck securing fans, water jugs and other things that had found a new home on the floor.

La Cruz was fun...

We went to WalMart the day after we arrived and stocked up on all of the things that we haven't been able to find at the local tiendas, and found things at the store that we haven't seen since leaving California... like Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate! We also found our much sought after "California" red box wine... 1L for 36 pesos. Yup, we're high rolling around here! But we did not find things like yeast, basil, crisco, kidney beans... and the list goes on and on...

Following the advice of several cruisers, we found ourseleves at the Puerto Vallarta airport renewing our visas for another 180 days. It was a very, very verrrrry simple process. Very Mexican. Probably very under-the-table. But we have papers. And it only cost us 265 pesos per person. I think that immigration officer is going to be eating really well for awhile...!

The La Cruz festivals were going on while we were anchored in town, and Eric and I enjoyed a fun evening in the zacala watching an often jaw-dropping display of haphazard fireworks that seemed to go everywhere... except the sky.

A man with a papier-mache donkey strapped to his back ran through the crowd while fireworks errupted every which-way into the crowds as people struggled to get out of the way of the crazy donkey-man...

At midnight, a 150ft tall "Tower of Doom" (the most suitable name I could think of...) was lit, and fireworks lit up the ground and sky as wheels turned and fires burned and... whoa... it went really well with a tequila.

This morning we packed up and pulled anchor just in time for the regular 25-knot wind from the west to start up. We followed Tao into the Marina and docked at the fuel dock, filled up on gasolina and water before shoving off (it was difficult in the wind!) and heading back north towards Punta Mita.

It was a lovely sail! We tacked up the coast with at first only a reefed jib (the wind was shrieking around us at 23 knots). WIthin the hour, the wind died down and we were under a full main and a 120 jib heading north...

Now we're here (again) in Punta Mita, waiting for the sun to rise so we can hop in the water and catch some waves.

We have two mouldy bananas that I have to make into bread for tomorrow's snack...

Our thoughts are that we may head up to Chacalla in a little bit so we can get a change of scenery before making more plans on where we'll be going from here...

Until then, take care...!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Does she even know how...?

We woke up at 4:00am and Eric started some water boiling for coffee. The propane stove took the edge off of the chilly morning and we busied ourselves with pulling anchor... and bringing Nanu up to a real dock.

"Do you think she even knows how to dock anymore?" I muttered under my breath as Eric tied on our fenders and gripped onto his coffee mug.

The sun hasn't risen yet and La Cruz's anchorage is a mirror, reflecting the lights from far-off Bucerias along the hull of Nanu as she slips through the entrance of the marina.

It's been a little more than 180 days since our happy home has bumped up against docks...

Eric maneuvered Nanu professionally into one of the fuel dock slips and as soon as Nanu was secured to the cleats, we began our pre-planned attack on the fresh-water supply at the taps.

I was 6:45 when we hopped onto the pavement, armed with water hoses, jerry jugs and scrub brushes. Eric was going to wash the boat in the 15 minutes before the fuel dock opened, and I was going to fill up all of our jerry jugs (20 gallons) and our inboard tanks (40 gallons and 18 gallons).

A security guard met us before we could attach the hose.

Plannn B: ... Rinse the boat. Fill the water tanks. Buy the fuel.

So under the security guard's wary eye, Eric hosed down Nanu's salty decks and then I filled up our tanks.

And then we paid for 5 gallons of diesel fuel and left...

Mission: Successful. Nanu was full of water, rinsed off, and ready for another surf session in Punta Mita.

Our "sail" from La Cruz to Punta Mita was... very, very simple.
There was no wind, so Nanu's engine puttered away in the calm waters the entire 9 miles to Punta Mita. It was only perhaps 1 mile away from the anchorage when the wind began to pipe up... a little too late...

So began our usual regimen of wake up, surf, go home, eat, surf again and sleep...

And then I was having this really stellar day. I was catching waves, riding them... and then I fell.
And then I could barely walk...

SO then it was Eric waking up early, making plans with Tao and Estrella to go surfing, and I was left on Nanu to rest my back.

I never want to get old. I hobbled around Nanu taking Aspirin, reading novel after novel, and puttering around on our tempermental internet connection.

Eric, Chris and Adam would come back to the boat gleaming after a great surf session, or complaining about how windy it was, or how many pangas (and surfers) there were... they've been having a ball!

SO the days go by...

No plans on leaving Punta Mita yet...

But we'll keep you updated when we do...

And I will take some pictures one of these days...