Friday, November 26, 2010

Still in San Carlos

My mom has entered hospice care, so we left the boat on a mooring and returned stateside for a final visit. Thanks to friends in San Carlos who are watching the boat for us in our absence. Ric on Solera took this shot of Southern Cross sailing back from San Pedro to San Carlos in a freshening northerly. Note that the genoa is partially furled, and the deck is crowded with kayaks and dinghy (kayaks are deflated and stowed on longer passages). We only have a few shots of us under sail so we are very grateful to Ric for this one.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Roy Orbishark

Last night one of the cruisers put on a puppet show as a benefit to raise money for spaying and neutering local stray animals. Jim, from s/v Anne Marie, is the puppeteer. Other cruisers were enlisted to help with lights, sound system, bubble machine, and other props. It was a great show, and we can't wait to see it again. Here's the star of the show, "Roy Orbishark."

Special guest "Tina Tuna."

Special guest "Eelvis."

Special guest "Ray Charles."

The show was held at one of our favorite taco stands, J J's. That's J J in the middle.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cañon de Nacapule

We got bored hanging out in the anchorage today, although that sounds ridiculous when its so beautiful here. It looks a bit like Greece, don't you think? Southern Cross is the boat anchored to the right.

Anyway, we decided to take advantage of having the truck here, and drove to a nearby canyon that several locals had told us about. We had to negotiate 3 miles of bad road, and several herds of cattle, to reach Cañon de Nacapule. I'm not sure why there was a stack of adobe bricks next to the trailhead...

The temperature was only about 70, so the canyon's shade was not especially needed today. On a really hot day, this must be such a welcome refuge! Interpretive signage told us that the Yaqui and Mayo (not Maya) Indians had frequented this canyon for thousands of years.

The vegetation is an exotic mix of cactus, fig trees, mesquite, and palm trees.

The figs have an amazing way of sending their roots through seemingly solid rock.

There are seeps and springs throughout.

The canyon forks about half a mile from the trailhead. The left fork quickly brings you to a steep climb, negotiated by a rope ladder. Vicki didn't think it was worth the trouble and waited below.

I thought it was worth it, if only to take a picture of her from above.

The right fork was easier going, and had lots of wildflowers and verdant foliage. There were also some colorful butterflies, but they were too fast for my camera.

The palms are amazingly well adapted to seasonal flash flooding. The base of this tree has been scoured down to a toothpick, yet it still had a healthy fan of green leaves at the top.

A beautiful oasis in the desert, and a nice break from the boat!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Shakedown cruise to San Pedro

We followed our friends on Windward about 15 miles up the coast from San Carlos to this beautiful crescent-shaped cove. For two days we snorkeled, sea kayaked, collected murex shells left behind by fishermen, and hiked along the beautiful Sonora desert coastline.

This sea cave was over 100 yards deep, with a small beach at the back and ropes for tying up pangas. Looks like local fishermen camp here regularly.

The first norther of the season was predicted for later today, so we sailed back down to Algodones, a more protected cove just outside of San Carlos. The wind came up, as predicted, while we were on our way. We had an uncontrolled jibe while looking at the chart and trying to figure out our approach to the cove. Later, while we were dousing the mainsail, the traveler car blew off the track, probably due to the earlier jibe. This is a picture of Solera, a vintage Columbia 40, that sailed back to San Carlos at the same time as we did.

Now, at 4:30 PM, we're safely anchored behind Venados Island, watching a pack of kiteboarders ride the 25 kt winds back and forth between the beach and our boat. Replacement parts for the traveler have already been ordered from San Diego, thanks to Skype Internet phone.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Happy Anniversary

No, not our anniversary. But I'm getting ahead of the story. Today was a busy day, a difficult day, and a sad day.
A busy day, because we still have a lot of work to do before the boat is ready for cruising under sail. Today we had a marine surveyor look over all of the boat's systems and equipment so that we can try to get insurance for our bluewater crossing next spring. As usual, this survey adds more tasks that need to be done. Vicki needs the rest of the afternoon to run errands. We want to finish things up so we can move out of the slip and onto a mooring, saving about $30 a day.
A difficult day, because on top of the boat work I have a ton of papers to grade. I spent at least 8 hours on the computer today and this evening. My shoulders hurt.
A sad day, because of my mom's continuing illness. She's been in the hospital for almost 3 weeks now. We keep hoping for good news, but today we heard of more setbacks.
Finally, at the end of the day, something happened to make all our cares drop away. We went for a walk along the malecon, the walkway ringing the marina. Its cool in the evening, and the stars are out, so its always a nice way to finish the day. But on the way back, something special happened. We heard music, and it turned out to be a small, lively band playing cumbias under a small ramada overlooking the sportfishing dock. As we approached we could see a single couple dancing to the music. They beckoned us over and encouraged us to join them. They had the waiter bring us a couple of cognacs. The music is great - the band segues to Carlos Santana, Tito Puente, salsa, tejano. We're all dancing and laughing together. Timbales, guitar, bass, vocals all sound so nice under the stars. Anna is talking and flirting with the band while Ralph tells us about their lives in a small town 3 hours to the south. They're celebrating their first anniversary and a safe return home from a visit to the US. The band was playing in the restaurant where they had dinner, and they liked them so well they hired them to come and play music by the bay, just for them. After a few more songs its time to say goodnight to our new friends and head home.
This is the kind of magic that makes life wonderful. We head back to the boat refreshed and happy and ready for tomorrow.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


We put the boat back in the water today after completing the re-commissioning tasks outlined in the previous post. The engine started on the first compression stroke, and best of all, the boat still floats! There is a tiny leak above one of the new seacocks we installed, but not enough to worry about at this point; we're keeping the valve closed for now anyway. We still have a lot to do before we're ready to put to sea, and we'll likely be in San Carlos for another week or so. But its really nice here so we don't mind. We're seeing a lot of cruising friends from last season, and meeting new ones. On Saturday, we'll meet with two couples who have already sailed to the South Pacific; we'll be asking a million questions and buying some of their charts, in preparation for our own passage next spring (if all goes well).