Wednesday, November 21, 2012

San Carlos to Isla San Francisco

Chris and I have made it back to La Paz! We had a great 2 day sail from San Carlos to San Francisco island. Here are some highlights from the sail:

November 6, 2012 - DAY 1
Day 1 was fast, fun and wet. We were on a beam/broad reach and averaging 5 - 5.5 knots. My stomach felt a bit uneasy, but I was holding down my food. We had 2 bites on our lines, but didn't catch anything.

We were doing 3 hour shifts and Chris was on night watch. I was merrily dreaming away about all the food I would cook/eat when my stomach settled down when I awoke to water being dumped on my head. My first thoughts were, "where am? what's happening?"  Then "crash", another wave hit and my head was further soaked. I quickly realized where I was… a wet and rocking boat. Ooops, I guess I should have closed that hatch above the settee before going to bed.

Chris yelled down below if I was ok.

"Yes, just wet"

"Sorry, the wind picked up. I'm going on deck to reef the main"

I really didn't want another splash to the face, so I stumbled quickly off of the settee and fumbled around until all of the hatches were closed. In order to reef the main, Chris headed into the wind on a close reach, which intensified the waves pounding into Starship and the queasiness in my tummy. Just get into the cockpit and you'll feel better I kept telling myself. I finally found my glasses, foul weather gear and and life jacket and made it into the cockpit.

Besides that excitement, we both had good night watches. We saw numerous shooting stars and Chris even found a guest squid on deck. Can we eat these little guys?

November 7, 2012 - DAY 2
This passage is definitely what I needed to get back into the cruising spirit.

We've had a truly magical evening. The wind had died down, but we didn't want to turn on the engine, so we were just drifting along at 1-2 knots with the tide while enjoying the sunset. Then we both heard a big "splash". DOLPHINS!!! We excitedly went to the bow hoping for a show and we were not disappointed. We didn't think the dolphins would stay long because we were moving so slowly, but we were sure wrong. We've never had dolphins swim so slowly to stay with Starship and they seemed in an extra playful mood. They would routinely jump and twirl out out of the water like acrobats. I was so amused and excited that I'd cheer and clap for each stunt. It seemed like the more I cheered, the more they would leap out of the water or continuously splash their tails.  "Maybe these dolphins were released from Sea World", Chris exclaimed. We were too excited to run and grab the camera, but here's a picture taken of the sunset right before the dolphins came.

A few hours later on my night watch, I was treated to another spectacular show. I thought I heard breathing in the ocean, but I wasn't sure if I was just hearing things in the darkness and going crazy. Then I heard breathing again and the outline of a dolphin framed by bioluminescence. It was eerie and beautiful to see the dolphin's silhouettes glowing with yellow/green sparkles. They would leave a bright trail every time they zoomed by. I wondered if these were the same dolphins that visited us a few hours earlier. How truly fortunate we feel to experience these wonders of our world aboard Starship.

At Isla San Francisco, we were treated to the best water visibility (40 - 50 ft) that we've experienced. It made for some great snorkeling and playing around Starship.

We also went on a beautiful hike along the ridge of the island.

Thank you Earl and Louise for having us aboard Serenity and all of your generous gifts. Visits on your air conditioned and spacious motorboat were highly luxurious for Chris and me. We've already caught a fish with your lure! We're just hoping for a different species of fish next time!

La Paz

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Tribute to my Enthusiastic Parents

When we arrived in the boat yard Starship was in great shape, just dirty. We worked our butts off for a week putting her back together and installing new equipment.

We're most excited about our new Hydrovane wind vane. A wind vane is a self steering device the requires no electrical power. It steers based on a relative wind angle (perfect for steady trade wind sailing like the puddle jump). It can also be used as a emergency rudder if something happens to the main rudder.

Once Starship was back together, my parents came for a 10 day visit. Since we had cut the timing a little bit too close, my parents arrived to a boat with no food. Ooops. I felt pretty bad about this, but they seemed to be genuinely excited to go grocery shopping with us and get the full cruising experience.  "It'll be an adventure" my Mom said. My Mom helped me go down every aisle to find the cheapest and best products. My Dad was a supper grocery packer and carrier. We walked to the grocery store and took a bus back to the marina with all of our goods. It's amazing how much stuff 4 people can carry! I was glad that Twinkle was up to the task too.


A few days later we were ready to go to Algodones, an anchorage that's known to have a beautiful white sand beach and good wind for kitesurfing. For whatever reason, Chris was determined to sail out of the San Carlos anchorage. We were going so slowly that we weren't even sure if we were going backwards or forwards at times. I pleaded with Chris to turn the engine on and not waste my parent's time. Not being able to control my frustration or Chris, I  went down below to read so that I wouldn't tear Chris' head off. My parents stayed in the cockpit with Chris. "We're up to 0.3 knots Chris," my Dad would proclaim. "Great!", Chris would reply. This sort of conversation kept going on back and forth with the speed very slowly but very steadily increasing.  What felt like an hour later we were out of the channel and sailing at a decent speed. Here's a picture of the enthusiastic light wind crew:

After a vigorous upwind bash to Algodones we were all excited by the anchorage. There was a beautiful beach, a stunning mountain backdrop, good wind, flat water and a cool beach bar/restaurant.

We spent the next 5 days kitesurfing, beach walking, hiking, snorkeling, skurfing and eating great meals. Kitesurfing at Algodones was different from what we are used to, since you could only go a couple hundred meters before having to turn around (compared to miles at some spots). As a result everyone got a lot of practice doing transitions (changing directions). 

We also went to bed really early each night. 

Before Chris and I were even out of bed one morning, my parents came zooming back with a fish they had caught. They just wanted to make sure that it was edible and get fish cleaning instructions. The sierra mackerel made for delicious fish tacos.

I feel like the luckiest girl to have parents that are so excited and enthusiastic about our life on board Starship. Dad, I love how interested you are in all things boat related. You have great questions, useful ideas and are such helpful crew. Mom, thanks for always inspiring me in the galley and bringing/making so many treats on board. You make me feel like I'm doing a great job even if I can never get all of the sand out of Starship or keep her as organized as I would like. You guys are the best and I love you!

Here are a few more pictures:

San Carlos

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Legal Aliens

We've been back in Mexico for almost 3 weeks now and it's been a whirlwind!

We managed to bring in over 250lbs worth of equipment/gear on the bus with us from Phoenix to Guaymas. Katrina and Brian, thank you again so much for receiving dozens of packages for us. I have no idea how we would have done it without you. Also a random thanks to the guy who weighed our luggage but didn't charge us extra.

We arrived at the Mexican border at 2 am. I was awoken to a Mexican official coming on to the bus, speaking quickly and then leaving. Chris and I looked at each confused. We didn't understand a word. Everybody else got off the bus…so we figured we'd follow. At Mexican customs you line up with all your luggage and press a button. RED = luggage search; GREEN = go through. I was sweating buckets and hoping with all my might the we'd get the green light. Chris and I both got the green light and were so relieved :) Our luggage had made it in successfully.

We figured that the next stop would be immigration. The bus started to drive but a few minutes later we saw Mexican convenience stores and shops. Hmmm….were we in Mexico already? At the next stop Chris confirmed with the bus driver that we were indeed in Mexico and had somehow skipped immigration. How is it possible that you can get into a foreign country without even showing any form of ID? It was so weird. Apparently you have to request to go to immigration. What? Who would ever request to go to immigration? How were we going to get our tourist visas? Our only options were to take a taxi back to border with our ridiculous luggage at 2:30 am and somehow catch another bus into Mexico or continue on our way and figure it out in Guaymas. We decided to continue on our way. The figuring it out in Guaymas part did not go so well.

We spoke to a lot of people in Guaymas and and got a lot of opinions: 
….you don't "really" need a tourist visa in Mexico as long as you keep a low profile
….just go the police and tell them you lost your visa to get a new one
….just go the airport and they'll issue you one (but they could also fine you…)
….if the navy stops you without a tourist visa, they'll fine you and impound your boat
…go back to the border and get a tourist visa

We did a lot of thinking, but all options besides going back to the border just seemed too sketchy for us. I was pretty annoyed that we'd be making the trip again because of the cost and just the principle of it,  but that was really the only option we felt comfortable with. Sooo…. 18 hours and $150 later we have our tourist visas and are legal aliens of Mexico! Yipee!

Moral of the story: If you are taking a bus into Mexico, remember to request a stop at immigration to get your tourist visa.

San Carlos