Cruising ~ The Cat’s Meow Style ~ October, 2007
Life on the Sea and in La Paz
Hola from The Cat’s Meow, once again! We are glad to have you back!
Squeak, reading a favorite book
The Cat’s Meow enjoyed the Sea of Cortez for a while longer, heading from one anchorage to another, one island to another, when we returned to Puerto Escondido after our trip to the States. The weather had been unusually “cool” during most of this summer, but temperatures had heated up into the 100’s for plenty of time, as well. Since the temperatures, including the water temps, had not been as hot for as long as normal, the water was not quite as crystal clear as usual….but, this also prevented the little sting-y things called aguamalas (“bad water”) from appearing. There were very few chubascos this summer — a storm cell that passes usually from the land to the water, moving quickly, with thunder & lightening & sometimes rain, and often strong winds - and only one really bad one. We especially enjoyed seeing cruising friends, getting together for potlucks on TCM and other boats, kayaking & snorkeling & diving with friends, and swapping stories. Since June, both of us had spent almost every night sleeping up on the top deck, on cots, under the stars. Since there is NO light pollution in the anchorages, we see sooooo many stars, watch for “shooting stars” and satellites, marvel at the Milky Way, and watch the moon cross the sky. It is quite lovely.
As said in previous updates, one of our favorite anchorages is called San Juanico, a bay with at least 3 different places to anchor, many little “islets”, reefs that are great for snorkeling and diving, about 5 beaches, and it is just beautiful.
Islets in the San Juanico bay
There is ONE tree, near one beach, that has been designated the “cruiser shrine”. For many years, cruising folk have left mementos of the boats & people on them, at and on this tree. Hurricanes have removed or broken or damaged many of these mementos, but you can still see some items dated back to the 1980’s there! The Cat’s Meow did leave something at the shrine in 2002, but hurricane Marty (2003) removed it. When we returned to San Juanico for the last time this year, Robin had prepared a suitable item to leave from The Cat’s Meow: a small propeller. One blustery afternoon, we took the dinghy into the beach and Martin secured the propeller to the tree. We hope it stays there for a long while……
The “cruiser’s shrine” TCM’s memento
We were not ready to leave the Sea, but it was time to start the trip south, back to La Paz, as Martin had an appointment at the Long Beach VA mid-October to remove an ugly growth on his knee. As we left the anchorage, after waving goodbye to friends on Que Tal, Robin noticed smoke coming from the windlass motor!! No harm was done to anything else, but the motor for the windlass — the one that Martin had just installed in June — was toast. Literally. At least we knew that we could put the boat on our mooring in Puerto Escondido while we tried to find a fix for the windlass motor. We considered an overnight run from PE to La Paz, which we really didn’t want to do, but could. Then, as usual, while in the harbor at Pto. Escondido, Martin found a way to re-install the electric motor he had removed in June. Whew! Now we could use the anchor, not have to hurry to La Paz, and hopefully get the DC motor repaired while in La Paz.
Re-installing the electric windlass motor…
Elvin cleaning the bottom of TCM
After getting the bottom cleaned — something one needs to do every once in a while when keeping a boat in warm water — and getting more fuel from Singlar in Pto. Escondido, we headed for another beauty of an anchorage, Agua Verde. Quite a few boats were doing the same as TCM: heading toward La Paz for at least a short stay, so there were a number of friends at the anchorage. We played with the video feature on Martin’s digital camera. Martin took some footage of the anchorage, and one evening, in the shade of the hill, we had a “raft-up”, which is a pot-luck affair, in dinghies that are tied together. Finger food is passed around to the different dinghies, every one cools off in the shade, and has a good time with friends. We are attempting to attach two video clips here… we hope you can see and hear them. You may need to have ActiveX installed in order to view the videos, and some type of media player. Be sure your volume is turned on, as well. It takes a while to download the videos - you can minimize the video screen (if one comes up when you click on the link below) and continue to view the rest of the page while it is loading. That way when you return to view, the video hopefully will run smoothly. Enjoy!
We arrived in La Paz on October 14th, Martin had to fly to Long Beach on the 16th, so we had only a very short time to get the boat ready for him to be gone for a while. At the VA a few days later, the removal of the thing on his knee went well, as expected. Friend Dario drove Martin from Long Beach to San Diego, and to his boat, Ballena. The plan was for them to bring Ballena down to La Paz — a trip that would take from 5-7 days to get to Cabo San Lucas, where Martin would leave the boat, and Dario would get the boat up to La Paz singlehanded. Well…..the weather prevented them from leaving right away — the Santa Ana winds that caused so much damage to so much of Southern California also caused seas that would be very uncomfortable to be in. So, Dario & Martin drove Dario’s truck down to La Paz, stayed on TCM for 2 nights, and they took the bus back to the border and returned to Ballena, in San Diego. The drive down was fraught with high winds and blowing sand, making even driving uncomfortable.
Driving to La Paz from San Diego
Meanwhile, back at TCM, Robin had started a boat project: prepping and painting the hallway that is below and forward of the main salon — where the guest quarters, 2nd bathroom, and shop are located. It is always easier to do that sort of project when Martin is away from the boat and not needing to be in the engine room, shop, etc. But then, it was good to have Dario and Martin around for a few days, as it gave her muscles a rest. After the guys bussed back to the States, Robin worked away earnestly, trying to get the hallway painted before Martin returned.
Also, she started an exercise program, something she had not done for a number of years. A combination of not working so hard on boat projects for a number of months + almost a month in the States, eating and drinking her way through Arizona and SoCal, had added to the waistline. As it was still purrrty warm during the daytime (temps in the lo-to-mid 90’s), she actually got up early — unheard of for Robin — and got her exercise (power) walk or her weight exercises completed by 8 a.m.!! Walking along the newly extended malecon (esplanade along the water’s edge) was a nice way to get up and ready to work her muscles again, sanding and sanding and sanding….. Something that Robin has noticed is this: when we came to La Paz, and to Mexico, seven years ago, one sometimes would see a North American running or power walking, or otherwise exercising along the malecon or streets of the cities. It was unusual to see hardly any Mexican people doing this. Now, the malecon is busy every morning and every evening with local people getting exercise — running, walking, bicycling. This is one of the many changes we have seen in the communities of Mexico. A good change toward better health.
While Robin was exercising and working her way through the days and weeks, Martin and Dario were bringing Ballena “down the outside” of the Baja. The weather was not too awful, and it was not real nice. They had constant winds from the south, which made for “following seas”, some high, close swells, and lots of “wallowing” by Ballena. It just never stopped. Also, Ballena was in the middle of the annual Baja Ha Ha — this year a group of 160+ boats, over 200 people, making their way down to Cabo San Lucas, as well. Dario had hoped to beat the Ha Ha fleet out of San Diego, but didn’t make it. They shared some of the same anchorages a few nights, but Ballena eventually did pull ahead of the Ha Ha group about ¾ of the way down the peninsula.
Dario bringing Ballena back to Mexico The Baja Ha Ha fleet underway
Martin “jumped ship” at CSL and took a bus up to La Paz. Robin was very glad to have the captain back on board, and Martin was glad to be out of the rocking boat. One of the nice things about the trip on Ballena with Dario (besides the great food!), was that Martin was able to do a long trial with his new SparePilot software…hopefully soon to be available as a spare auto pilot for boaters of all kinds!
Things happen while the captain is away from the ship. Always. One of the more exciting things this time was the boat fire in the marina. Boat fires are awful. They are awful to see, awful to read about, and we are sure it is horrid to experience. When there is a boat on fire in a marina, it is often a very bad thing — other boats and docks catch fire, there can be a conflagration very quickly. So, when Robin noticed a very large boat with smoke coming out of the top deck, she knew it was going to be a very exciting morning. The Mi Baru’, a power vessel of at least 85’, was on fire and fire extinguishers had not been able to subdue the flames. The boat was moved away from the dock, where there were lots of boats very close to her, to another smaller dock along the breakwater that was separated from the main docks. However, there was one sailboat on that particular dock: Sunbreak, with a mother, two kids, a cat, a dog, and a turtle aboard, no working motor and the captain was away. As people in the marina realized what was happening, some went to the aid of Sunbreak and moved that boat to safety. The flames on Mi Baru’ broke through the top deck and smoke could also be seen coming from a vent in the lowest part of the boat — probably near the engine room. The Cat’s Meow was only about 150’ from Mi Baru’. The heat on our aft deck was pretty intense. Parts of the burning boat were falling into the water, on fire. The flames kept getting bigger and hotter. Smoke was thick. Thank the gods that the current and the slight breeze were going away from TCM — and there was no strong wind, again very fortunate!
Robin watched, along with most people in the marina, as fire trucks appeared on the breakwater, next to the dock where Mi Baru’ was tied. Firefighters put a tanker-full of water on the fire, and it was looking better, until they ran out of water. Another 2 or 3 water tankers arrived, plus the fireboat, and eventually lots of water was poured on Mi Baru’. The firefighters were on the burning boat, trying their best to knock the fire down. They really did a good job with the equipment they had. Jo, of Milagro, noticed that the firemen were using face masks of the type we use when we are sanding — not the regulation equipment expected in the States.
Finally, after about two hours of fighting the flames and smoke, two pangas had lines attached to the stern of Mi Baru’ and towed her out of the marina. Again, this was a tricky and dangerous activity, especially in a marina. Robin, and everyone else in the marina, sighed with relief when the boat was finally towed away. Mi Baru’ burned for the night and most of the next day. After the hulk was moved to the outside of the marina breakwater, a salvage crew worked for an entire week, removing the remains from the water. What an experience — one that Robin hopes not ever to see again.
Besides working her butt off (well…not quite..) while Martin was on Ballena, Robin was also running the bilge pumps quite often. It seems that a persistent little leak, or another one, was allowing water into the boat. Not a good thing, but it was just a small leak, easily managed with the bilge pumps. A few days before Martin’s return, Robin called on a friend — Kevin, the captain of Sunbreak, who had returned — to assist in finding and stopping the leak(s), with some Splashzone — wonderful stuff. Robin was relieved when the bilge pumps did not need to go on any longer. Finally, Martin returned to The Cat’s Meow, and to the tales of all the excitement he had missed, and to tell Robin of the exciting trip on Ballena.
That should do it for October of 2007, but there is always more to come…. like our impending haul-out, and more. Please check us out soon, and see how we are doing, ....Cruising ~ The Cat’s Meow Style.
G’night from Toes