Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Los Lobos again

We left La Paz and headed back to Los Lobos for two nights thinking we would spend time at the nearby islands for another week before heading south to the mainland; however, once we were anchored in Los Lobos we found the water to be very chilly...not great for snorkeling, bathing, swimming, etc., so we decided to set off to Bahia de los Muertos and make the crossing sooner than later, looking for warmer water.  But before all that Doug and I hiked the hilly ridge around the anchorage to see the next bay, while the kids played in the root beds of the mangroves surrounding the bay.  Henry paddled on the surfboard next to our dinghy as we returned to the boat.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas in La Paz, Baja Sur

Arrived into La Paz on December 20.  This is a rather large (for southern Baja) city filled with lots of Americans who either live or vacation here. There are plenty of Americano-type restaurants too, although we try not to frequent those. 

Hot fresh-water land showers and laundry were first on the list of treats.  Walked the malecon and enjoyed the Christmas lights and decorations. Ate at a favorite restaurant, Rancho Viejo, which has the best and least expensive arrachera (marinated beef) around!  Throughout the days leading up to Christmas we decorated our boat with lights and drawings by Chandler, made Christmas cookies, spent time strolling through town, and once Christmas arrived we even had our own version of a Christmas tree ..a put a few gifts around.

Streets of La Paz...a bit chaotic!

Street vendors just before Christmas...

Chandler baking Christmas cookies

                                               Before and....

...after opening packages.

A Christmas day pot-luck dinner was a wonderful way to share the holiday spirit and meet new and old friends.  The kids got to take a swing at the pinata. Henry hit the side of a cement building.  Thinking he had hit "pay dirt", he continued whacking away at it until the crowd screamed loud enough to get him to STOP!  The bat he was using broke and the crowd when into hysterics. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010


 Like all sailors we’ve experienced nights at “roll-y anchorages”.  This happens when the boat is hit broadside by oncoming waves.  One would think the rocking effect would lull one to sleep but it doesn’t. Instead, it makes for an uncomfortable and typically, a sleepless night. 

Doug, always trying to make this experience more comfortable for the kids and me, talked with other cruisers to find out how to make a “flopper-stopper” which could conceivably make those roll-y nights less roll-y.

As directed I rushed to the closest mercado to buy four cutting boards. Doug strung them together and attached his dive weight belt to one of the boards thereby creating the pull necessary to sink the boards.  After that he hung the device from an extended whisper pole (like a small boom) and swung the pole off the starboard side of the boat.  Technically what happens is, the cutting boards collapse (see third photo below) and are submerged sideways down into the water as the boat rolls to the starboard side and then as the boat begins its roll to the port the cutting boards are forced upward, flattening out (second photo below) and creating drag through the water thereby slowing down and minimizing the rolling effect.  We’ve definitely seen some improvement and have had better nights sleep ever since.

Thanks Skipper!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Random good stuff aboard HanaCrew

A child humming while putting on p.j.'s.

Ann's Thai Chicken for dinner

Ann's fresh baked chocolate chip cookies and granola

Holiday pumpkin bread; hot banana bread

Nightly reading a book to the kids after dinner.

HW playing a flute in the evening

C at the bow pulpit singing to the sunset

For Dad, a well whipped end of a three strand line

For Mom, clean sheets after 2+ weeks of no laundry

Monday, December 20, 2010

When the cradle rocks…at 1:38 AM

On December 19th we anchored at Los Lobos, located on the Baja peninsula near the city of La Paz.  La Paz is a four hour drive south from Loreto but we took 16 days to sail there, visiting the many beautiful islands in between.  Considering Los Lobos’ proximity to civilization we hoped to get an internet connection for the first time since December 4th and we did!  It was like re-entering earth’s atmosphere after two weeks in space.  Although we still had battery power to consider usurping we plugged in the computer and quickly checked emails, sending a few messages to family and friends and ensuring nothing critical needed our attention before we arrived into a marina the following day where we would connect to their power source and internet service. 

We enjoyed dinner and settled in for the evening when the coromuel struck.  We knew about these nasty night-time winds, caused by cool air from the Pacific side flowing across the low land of the Baja toward the warmer waters of the Sea of Cortez creating strong winds and rocky seas.  These relentless winds typically strike around 9 PM and fly for 3 or more hours.  We anticipated them to a degree but what we hadn’t planned for was the severity of the tide that night.  A full moon overhead gave us a clue to check our depth sounder before we slipped under the bed covers.  When anchoring that day we pulled far into the cove since there wasn’t much room left by other boaters and the tide was quickly abating underneath our 5’9” draft.  The boat was pitching fairly wildly, bow to stern, so at 10:30 PM, as we got into bed, we put a plan together to move the boat if we thought we’d be in danger of bottoming out at low tide, which we thought was to be around 1 AM.  We weren’t sure how low the tide would go.  Trust me, no one wants to move their boat in the middle of the night.  That just wasn’t a thought that set me at ease for a restful sleep.  As Doug laid his head on the pillow he said, “I’ll get up around midnight to check the depth again and we’ll decide what to do then.”  He drifted off to sleep peacefully…a true captain in his element.  The children, too, were sound asleep.  On the other hand, for the next two hours I laid there, wide-eyed, wondering if/when that keel might “hit” the muddy bottom.  The pitching of the boat seemed to intensify, which fed my concern of bottoming out more and more.  Prayer was in full swing at this point!

Sure enough, at 12:30 AM, Doug arose and checked the depth.  It read 1.5 feet (under keel).  He came back into the V-berth and said, “Let’s go online and check the tide”…something neither of us had thought to do earlier since being away from the internet for so long broke our reliance on it. It just wasn’t top of mind.  It hadn’t even occurred to us that we could simply dial into the online tide charts and get all the info we needed.  The tidal website told us that maximum low was at 1:38 AM, so if we could ride it out for the next hour we’d be OK.  We monitored the lowering water level and sighed a huge sigh of relief when the designated time passed without incident.  So what do you do after watching the depth sounder for an hour, holding your breath?  Doug suggested we watch a movie.  We found Road Warrior with Mel Gibson in our itunes movie download library and clicked in; a weirdly appropriate flick for an odd and slightly frightening night. 

After all that, sleep came very easily at 3:30 AM!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Isla Partida

Home schooling took place enroute to Isla Partida.  Reading during a sail has become easier as we've adjusted to the movement of the boat.  As we dropped the hook the setting sun brought a calm and relaxing tone to everyone after a good day of sailing.  We decided to stay two nights, giving us time to go ashore to play and stretch our legs a bit more. 

Henry checked out the tide pools while Chandler enjoyed one of her books in the shade.  Doug did some calisthenics with Chandler...exercise onboard is minimal so a couple of good stretches and deep knee bends were in order.

Doug and I hiked the trail through the cactus desert while the kids continued to enjoy some free time on the beach and rocky coastline.

Afterwards a game of football, using Doug's water bootie as the football, was just the ticket to round off the afternoon.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Isla San Francisco

Most all of the anchorages in Baja offer clear turquoise water to swim in.  This beautiful anchorage was true to form, plus it gave us good reasons to get off the boat and hike the mountainous terrain, play in the sand, explore the salt ponds and surrounding plant life, and of course, check out the beach creatures.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Good Company

We anchored in Bahia San Marte for a day or so and heard friends (on Eyoni) we met last summer on the radio during the morning "net" (daily VHF communication among boaters).  Connecting with these friends on Eyoni was a thrill for all of us.  Nancy, Ethan, and their 5-year-old daughter, Zada, have been cruising for two years and know how to do it well.  We always enjoy our time with them.  Here are just some of the reasons why...

Zada and Chandler play princesses and hide & seek at the same time.  When they were hiding in Eyoni's dinghy and found out by Henry Wyatt he disconnected the dinghy line and afloat went the princesses!

A morning hike up an arroyo with Ethan, Nancy, and Zada resulted in playing hide and seek among the scruffy plants and rocks.  Doug and Ethan were the best hiders. You can see Doug giving us his bird call and Chandler imitating him...which was the only way Chandler was able to find him. 

  We saw what we think was a white-hornets nest along the way...

Ethan is a member of the Neptune Club and delights us with freshly caught fish each time we join them for a pot-luck dinner. Doug heads out with Ethan on his spear fishing dives and is always amazed at how long Ethan can hold his breath underwater to spear the best fish the Sea has to offer.  One night Eyoni invited us and another couple from a neighboring boat for yet another fun and delicious pot-luck dinner.  A large dog fish was the fish of choice that night...yes dog fish and it was delicious.  As the afternoon unfolded two sail-rigged kayakers from Oregon were seen cruising by the cove we were anchored in and they too joined our happy band of dinner mates.  The sea kayakers had been sailing from Bahia de Los Angelos in the northern Seas for about a month and had another two weeks to go before they arrived in La Paz - 450 miles total.  We enjoyed a wonderful evening sharing experiences and tales of amazing adventures.
The fish was a feast for all, others brought cabbage salad, boat-baked bread, and brownies.  The stories were huge:

1.  60 mph winds and lightening storm at sea while sailing solo across the Sea
2.  Dozens of feet down preying on white bass and instead spear gunning a great white shark in the mouth in it's surprise attack. Gun not retrieved.
 3.  Big kill deep down; way too much blood apparent on spear retreval at surface; a large great white grazes the divers shoulder and cruises gently past for 30 feet. Diver and crew on dive boat are all eyes.  At an impossible turn and return speed, shark launches toward diver.  He has time only to lift the spear gun barrel.  It hits the gapping sharks nose. Diver is jettisoned 10 feet back and halfway out of water. Diver rescued with bruised shoulder and a trump card tale.
4. Night diving where seals snuggle up for a couple unexpected rubs and night diving is closed for the evening.
5.  Story of a decisive day to overcome past fear of open-water swimming...  Nancy resolved to plunge in right after finishing a couple more pages of a book, when a wake next to the boat catches her eye.  She walks around the railing and follows a "beautiful" 9'great white.  First thought, "Get Ethan", who was spear fishing out in the water. She gets into the dinghy and pulls the lever to tilt down the motor and it lands on top of the shark.  It darts, the dinghy zigs, Nancy holds on.  But the prop is caught in seaweed.  With eyes closed (didn't want to see the shark as it came upon her) she reaches under and untangles prop. Ethan is retrieved, day of ocean swimming reconciliation yet to be scheduled.

Cruiser gatherings seldom bore.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Stir-crazy activity list

Sometimes being onboard for days on end drives one a little stir-crazy.  A few activites to shake off those blues follow...

Net fish off the stern at night and checking out the phosphorecsents that appear when you spit or throw food in the water (no photo)

Galley bowling with empty plastic bottles

Table top wrestling (the dining room table collapses into a bed and becomes a wrestling ring)

Lights out tag in the 6-foot pie shaped V-berth (obviously, no photo)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Calm winds, dorado and taking the plunge

There's not as much true sailing out here as Doug would like, but he's a patient man, so when even the slightest wind hits he's all for hoisting the light-wind (Genoa) sail and catching whatever breeze we can. With Ann behind the wheel and Doug, Henry, and Chandler on deck, Doug taught the kids how to raise the sail.

Hooking on the sail to be raised

Pulling in the line to adjust the sail


 Later that day Henry caught a beautiful dorado and we had dinner for the next few nights!  It looked like something had already started to prey on the fish before Henry got to it as there was a chunk bitten out of his tail.

After all that work it was time for Chandler and Doug to jump in the water, hold onto a line and drag behind the boat while sailing.