Tuesday, December 23, 2008
We have been having a heck of a time finding a spot on a plane, and making sure we could land at SeaTac, but it looks like we are set to go. We leave tomorrow on the 24th. I hear there is more snow expected tomorrow so keep us in your thoughts. Meanwhile I am digging out the few winter clothes we own. I think we are going to freeze.
Looking forward to seeing everyone,
Laura and Jack
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Tom flew home on Wednesday the 17th. Patrick should be arriving here on the 21st. We are soooo happy that Patrick will be home for Christmas. Despite the 80 degree weather and relentless sunshine (hee hee hee) we have tried to decorate for Christmas. We've strung lights, borrowed a tree and cut out paper snowflakes. It still doesn't seem like Christmas though. In all of the restaurants and grocery stores, Mexican voices are singing Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and other holiday classics. The first time I heard that tune, with Spanish words, I couldn't place it for a few minutes. I was walking through the Mexican Costco and just about lost it when I recognized it. You can run, but you can't hide from American commercialism.
Our friends Kim and Ken arrived unexpectedly back at Marina Palmira just a day after Patrick left. Kim had stepped on a stingray (you've got to shuffle those feet!) and wanted to be back to recuperate. Tom enjoyed them as much as we do. On his last night in town, Tom took Kim, Ken, Jack and I out for dinner. My nighttime vision is not very good and I panicked when I heard long nails scrabbling along the pavement. I looked down and saw a black furry little thing running towards me in the shadows. I screamed and grabbed Kim's hands. (If I could have jumped in to her arms I would have, but she is a lot taller than me!). Right about then the little dog's owner picked him up and walked away in a huff as I explained, "I thought it was a rat!" No new friends there.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
We decided that it was time to head to Mazatlan. We had made plans to buddy boat with Bill and Sue on Sunbaby for the crossing. They were not ready to leave just yet, so we decided to hang out in the islands for a little while as we waited for them. We went to Ballandra Bay on Sunday. We spent a rolly night at anchorage and woke at 2 a.m. to find out that the wind had completely changed direction and was gusting to 20 knots. That's not really a problem except our anchor bridle had slipped and we were 30 feet closer to a big rock cliff than we ever wanted to be! And we were in 6 feet of water, which is not necessarily a bad thing in a catamaran. Thankfully the anchor never budged and we rode out the night easily. The next day we snorkeled and beach combed for hours (poor Patrick stayed on the boat since he can't swim until his finger is healed.)
Later on Monday, we moved anchor to a more sheltered harbor and spent another night on the hook. Unfortunately, we are still working out kinks in our systems, and we had problems with our propane. That, added to the fact that a large wind storm system was moving in to the area on Tuesday, helped us decide to head back to Marina Palmira instead of heading over to Mazatlan. It was a good thing we did since shortly after making it back to Palmira, we learned that Patrick's mother was in the hospital. We decided that Patrick should go home to tie up some loose ends and see his mom. His flight left Thursday afternoon. He will be gone about five days.
On his last night in town, we all went out to dinner at The Bismarck. It's a funky little restaurant which pays tribute to the German battleship which was sunk in the early 1900's (why it pays tribute, I don't know) Patrick and I had first eaten at the Bismarck fifteen years ago when we were here for our honeymoon. It was a hoot to be there again. Nothing had changed, not even the menus. One whole wall is covered with an underwater scene of the boat sinking to its death.
So poor Tom is stuck with me, Jack and Rudy tied to the dock at Marina Palmira while we watch the mass exodus of boaters. Now that the storm is over, the weathermen are calling for at least one week of beautiful sunny weather and light winds - perfect weather for crossing. Tomorrow morning Sunbaby heads off with a couple other boats. It will be sad to see them go. I am so glad that Tom will be here to keep me and Jack company while Patrick is in the States.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
We have a great group of friends on the dock and our time here has been a lot of fun and very social (sometimes exhausting!) There are two other catamarans close to us and we have all become good friends. However, we all didn't come down here to sit at the dock and it looks like this weekend, our friends are departing. Bill and Sue are heading to Puerto Vallarta and Kim and Ken are heading north into the Sea. It is going to be very strange without them.
Our sail drive issue has become a problem. After hours of phone calls and emails, Patrick has determined that the only Yanmar dealer with the capability to pull our catamaran out of the water to fix the sail drive is in Mazatlan, which is across the Sea of Cortez and south. It is a 30 hour crossing. We were not planning to cross to the mainland for many, many months, but all plans are carved in jello when you are sailing. We were hoping to have a nice slow introduction to sailing life but now we have a pretty big crossing in front of us, first thing out of the gate. Fortunately for us, it flows right into the next item which is.....
Today our friend Tom Flake arrives for a two week visit. We are all very excited to see him and Bill and Sue have planned a get-together tonight which will welcome him to boating life. He may never leave. So when we found out Tom was coming, we decided to Shanghai Tom and make him cross to Mazatlan with us so we have an extra hand on deck. It's good to have another adult to help take watches.
Patrick is recovering from his injury, but the medication is really affecting him. He has been sleeping about 16-18 hours per day. Needless to say, he has not been getting any projects done, to prepare the boat for cruising. We are hoping he is feeling well enough to Captain us across the Sea sometime early next week, weather permitting.
So all in all, things are great. How else could they be when we are living in Paradise? But life can never be completely trouble free, even here. We'll let you know more later.
Friday, November 28, 2008
This was the time when it became very apparent that we soon need to buy a Spanish translator, or at least a translation book! Our first cab took us to a doorway that said "Entrada." It didn't look like a hospital, but that's where we thought we told him to take us. We were met at the door by three men who wouldn't even let us enter. They told us to go to the military hospital. Unfortunately the cab had already left. So we hailed another. The first place he took us DEFINITELY did not look like a hospital. The second place he took us had a gate, with an armed (machine gun) guard in camos. After a little more confusion and an escort to the correct door, we found the place where we needed to be. As far as emergency rooms go, it was the best we had ever been in. There was only one other patient, and Patrick was in and out in before the Novocaine in his finger took effect and it only cost $75.00. He had SEVEN stitches, more than he has ever had. Now we are home again and planning a quiet evening watching movies. Hopefully it turns out like we plan.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Later that day we met an amazing Australian family who are tandem bicycling from CA to the tip of Chile! They are a couple and their two sons, ages 10 and 12. They plan to take about 3 years in the endeavor and they are doing it on a shoestring budget. So we ended up inviting them to the pool for a swim and then later that night we had about 14 people (kids and adults) over to the boat for an impromptu party. Jack had a great time with a posse of kids tearing up the marina on his scooter and bike and playing hide and seek in the dark. When we were telling our tale to the people on our boat, one of the woman who sails in a mono-hull said, "Well, we only have one engine, and we sail around." Well that put the matter in perspective. We checked with a couple diesel mechanics in the marina and they said the same thing. They would use both engines for maneuvering in the marina, and just cruise on one engine at sea. Just monitor it closely and change the oil a lot if we don't get it fixed right away. With that, we decided to leave first thing in the morning on Saturday, but on a shorter trip. We were anxious to get out on our own.
We chose to anchor at Ballandra Bay which is about 2 hours away. It was beautiful. The Sea of Cortez is full of life and even motoring along (no wind to sail in) we saw many schools of fish breaking the water's surface. The bay was large and surrounded by rock cliffs and with lots of shallow sandy areas. We set up the anchor and started the fun. The snorkeling was fantastic. The water was warm, clear and full of beautiful tropical fish. Jack had his spear ready but never saw a fish worth eating. He is very excited to hunt for fish. We swam, kayaked, fished, snorkeled and beach combed all day long and the next day too. On this trip, Rudy stayed on the boat. He is very chicken of changes and was afraid to come down the steps and jump on the dinghy, but in time he will learn. On Sunday, we stayed until noon and then pulled anchor to return to Marina Palmira, where we dock our boat.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Today we are heading off to a island group that is about three to four hours away. It is a marine preserve. We will only be out of the marina for a couple days. We have a reservation for the Thanksgiving dinner for 200 that the cruiser's group is throwing on Thursday, so we will be back for that.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Our day is simple. Every morning I get up, make coffee. Then I take Rudy out for a brushing. It looks like Christmas in July with mounds of white hair floating away on the water. By 8:00 am, the VHF is on channel 22 so we can listen to the cruisers net. This is a radio broadcast where all the cruisers in this marina exchange info, announce arrivals or departures, ask for assistance locating services, make announcements about charity work we can participate in, etc. It takes about an hour. The rest of the morning is filled with little chores, walks, fishing, maybe a little grocery shopping and homeschooling. By lunch, it is hot (89 ish usually) and so we head off to the pool or sometimes take Rudy to the nearby beach for a swim, or sometimes both! Evening rolls around and the choice is dinner at the restaurant or dinner in. Sometimes there is a little cocktail party at someone's boat, but mostly we have a quiet night at our boat. It's a tough life. The people around us are a hoot and we are really enjoying ourselves.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
The flight was great. The shock of the heat at San Jose del Cabo nearly melted me on the spot. In the airport imagine my surprise when I see Rudy's crate, with him in it, riding on the baggage carousel with the other baggage. Someone helped me heft the crate off the carousel, and then I could let Rudy out. He was a little rambunctious after about 7 hours in the crate. But that worked out well. He helped pull me along, while I dragged the crate with three of our big bags stacked on top of it. Getting through customs was a bit of a circus, but it only took about 45 minutes. Rudy kept on trying to jump on the customs agent and airport officials, which wasn't helping. I kept looking for Patrick to come and help me. He wasn't anywhere. I was starting to get a little upset that he had forgotten that we were coming in! Everyone else off the plane had walked out the front doors of the airport and it was only me, Jack, Rudy and about 30 Mexican airport officials left in the airport. They were all looking at me and talking to each other in Spanish , which can really make a girl cranky when she's being dragged by a dog who has sat in poop while simultaneously trying to drag along 100 lbs of luggage and a giant crate (Jack was also carrying luggage. Thank God he was there to help!) Then Jack said, "I can see his shoes outside the door." Most of the glass door was blocked out by a large poster. I was so relieved. It turns out they wouldn't let Patrick enter the airport. He had to wait outside, anxiously watching the people file out.
But the fun wasn't over. Remember how we had to fly in to San Jose del Cabo, but our boat's in La Paz? We now had a three hour drive on a windy mountain road at night in a small rental car with black Velvet interior. Have you seen Rudy? The interior was white with dog hair by the end. But we made it. I was pretty zonked, as was Rudy and Jack. Rudy was so stressed about his adventure that he tried to fit as much of his 75 lb body as he could in my lap the whole way. Since then we haven't been doing much. I feel like I just tried to beat Micheal Phelps in the butterfly. I'll get my energy back soon. I am already feeling a lot better today. This place is amazing. Our marina is a resort. More about that tomorrow!
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
And now for the fishing report. Patrick says they have caught numerous dorado and tuna. One dorado measured 52"! As anyone who knows Patrick knows, he's having a great time. The water temperature is 85 degrees. The nighttime air temp is in the 80's. They continue to have following seas and fair winds and so they are having a great trip.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
At midnight on the second day at sea, my watch was ending when a pod of dolphins visited our boat. The water was full of phosphorescence and the dolphins were outlined in glowing green, and their path behind them stayed illuminated for a few moments. About 20 of them began playing in the wake of our twin bows. I crawled out onto the nets that stretch in between the boat's pontoons and laid down. I was suspended just a feet or two directly above the dolphins while they played. All I could do was laugh since they were having soo much fun and were so joyful. One of them turned on his side and looked at me. When he jumped out of the water, he chittered at me, just like I was laughing at him. I could have touched them if I tried, but I didn't want to bother them. They played for about 15 minutes and then disappeared back into the ocean. I hope never to forget that moment.
Arriving in San Diego on October 29th, I departed the boat to return to Washington to our son Jack and Rudy (our dog). Patrick continues on in the boat with Ralph, Arlene, and a former co-worker of Patrick's who took my place. Currently they are off the coast of the Baja Peninsula, wearing shorts and T's and catching tuna. They hope to be arriving in Cabo on November 5th. Once they get to La Paz, Jack, Rudy and I will be flying down to join them, hopefully around the 10th or 11th of November. And then, I can relax.
I've been promising for some time to get a blog together, and finally, here it is. It has been one crazy journey just to get to this point and now the fun begins! A quick recap for those who are joining the fun late - We decided in March, 2008 that our life could suit us a little better if we made some simple changes. April 29th, the "For Sale" sign was posted in front of our home. By July 22nd, the house was sold and in the possession of the new owner. In August we purchased our new boat "Just a Minute" in California. I began homeschooling Jack in September (we love it!). Patrick worked his last day at his job of 19 years on October 1st. We left for CA on October 7th to begin outfitting the boat for our cruising adventure. Our plan is simple. We are just going to float around the Sea of Cortez and hang out together. We hope to be doing this for at least a couple years. If we get bored with the Sea, we will move through the Panama Canal. Or not. We really don't know. But when we do, we'll tell you about it. It's been one hectic six months, but soon it will all come together.
Fair Winds and Following Seas,