Archive for December, 2009

After Christmas, back in La Paz

Ports of Call | Posted by Admiral
Dec 30 2009

I only just now have posted the picture from the party at Larry’s mom’s home on the Saturday before Christmas.  My good friend, Elizabeth, took many more terrific pictures while we were in the Stockton-Modesto area:

tea party Brit-style tea with Elizabeth and her mum right there in Escalon, California at the Lavender Hollow Farm.

xmas eve3 At Elizabeth’s home for Christmas Eve.  Left to right – Larry, Mom, Muggs, Elizabeth, Mum with Brady in front.  Brady calls us Grammy and Poppa.

b poppa2 Poppa and Larry – being silly – our most highly developed skill!

xmas m b 1 Grammy and Brady playing Nascar Monopoly.  Brady always remembers exactly which of us owns which property without checking.  He also usually gets complete sets of property.  He was the only one who got to put any hotels (actually garages in this version) on his property.  And Grammy landed on it every time around, I think!  Brady won at the end.  We didn’t have enough time to play to bankruptcy, so we added up assets.

We took Brady to a winter fun park:

hayride2 Russell, Elizabeth and Poppa on a haywagon ride thru a lighted path.  It was VERRRRY COLD!!  BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!

zip1 Brady and Grammy both rode the zip line! 

zip2 And here’s the proof!!!  I think I will become a stuntwoman in my next life!

We returned to La Paz yesterday (Tuesday, the 29th), and we had a bit of fun along the way.  First, we had a layover in Los Angeles (whoever designed the layout of that airport should be shot) where another couple from this year’s HaHa befriended us (Larry was wearing the hat, as usual).  They are Sherry and Gordon of Serenity which is located in the same marina as us here in La Paz!  They are a very nice and friendly couple, and they didn’t know how they were going to get from the airport back to La Paz.  We told them we planned to find the bus station – we weren’t sure how – and take it back for a price of about $20 per person.  We knew that the last bus left at 5:30, our plane was scheduled to arrive at 4:00, so we were operating on the “hope” system – we hoped that the business at customs wouldn’t take very long so we would have a chance to figure out how to get to the bus station.

At the airport, we used a porter for our baggage (considerable as it included a foldable bicycle in a rather large box).  He handled all the luggage without breaking a sweat, and then got us on a shuttle van that took us all – us, the other couple, and two more people who just happened to need to get to La Paz and heard us talking about it – to the bus station.  We bought tickets, got on the bus, and we are all safely delivered to our new homes in La Paz.  Good thing, too, as all of the other folks seemed to be depending on us to be the leaders – scary thought!

We will not be venturing out for more sailing adventures until the weather (northerly winds) allows, probably sometime next week.  Until then, Happy New Year everyone.

Which reminds me – the cruisers are celebrating the new year with a potluck tomorrow night at 5:00 pm which is midnight Greenwich mean time.  That way we can all be in bed by cruiser’s midnight which is commonly accepted as 9:00 pm!

Christmas in Stockton

Ports of Call | Posted by Admiral
Dec 30 2009

We have returned home for Christmas.  I couldn’t tell you earlier this week because it was a surprise for Larry’s mom!  Her party is tonight, so here’s a picture:


Christmas Downtime

General | Posted by Gilligan
Dec 26 2009

Ooops. One of the fun things about having a volunteer-ran site is that our volunteers can make silly mistakes.  On our way out the door to Hughson for Christmas weekend, Gilligan shut down our computers. 

Unfortunately, in his haste, he shut down ALL of our computers, including the webserver that hosts this site (and a few others).  We didn’t notice until we got to Hughson, and couldn’t get back to Sacramento to turn the server back on until just now.  Sorry about that!

The site is now back up and running just fine, and we all hope that everyone had a wonderful, delicious, and love-filled Christmas. 

-The Management

A Christmas Carol

Ports of Call | Posted by Gilligan
Dec 24 2009

Hi All,

  Larry was kind enough to grace all of us with his spectacular voice, which is yours to listen to right here.  Click on the linke below, then again on the same link on the next page.

Depending on how your computer is set up, you might be asked to download the file before playing it, but it should work just fine.  We’re working on making this a lot less complicated, but wanted to get this wondeful song up here as quickly as possible. 

Take it away Larry! (with accompaniment by Muggs, of course)

Larry Christmas

Comments and Links

General | Posted by Gilligan
Dec 13 2009

Hi All,

   We’ve had some problems with spam links in the comments, so we’re going to have to switch to a slightly more restrictive way of allowing commenting on posts.  Previously, anybody could post a comment and their comment would immediately be visible. 

Starting immediately, the new system is going to hold all comments in a “queue” until the comment is approved.  Comments by somebody who has already had a comment approved will show up immediately, but new people will have to wait until one of the administrators approves their first comment. 

So, Elizabeth, Joel, and everyone else who has already posted and been approved should see no difference, and everybody else might have to wait a little bit before their comments show up.  We’re sorry for the inconvenience, but we need to do this to cut down on the spam and bad links.

Best wishes to our interepid adventurers,


Cheated death again!

Ports of Call | Posted by Admiral
Dec 10 2009

Well.  We set out Monday and headed toward the beautiful little cove called Puerta Balandra about 7 miles north of La Paz.  We arrived about mid-afternoon in a cove of exquisite beauty and flat calm.  As we arrived, a catamaran was leaving from his anchoring spot in the north end of the cove close to the beach and a well-known landmark there called Mushroom Rock.  Our friend Rod of Proximity, who was already there, hailed us on the radio to say that he had just paid this guy 200 pesos to leave so we could have the best spot in the anchorage!  LOL.  Well, we anchored closer to the north end than Proximity, but not as far north as the cat had been.  We wanted more depth. We anchored in about 15’ of water in a sandy bottom.  We put out 75’ of chain.

There was not enough daylight left to go snorkeling.  Rod and Elisabeth of Proximity had been there already for a while.  Elisabeth was in the water, but she said it was getting a little too cold already.  So we launched the dinghy and rode over to their boat for a little chat.

We returned to our boat and made dinner – a treat of fresh fried potato slices, asparagus, and very small hamburgers (from leftovers.)  Cookies and milk for dessert – Heaven!  By now it was dark (after 6:00 pm).  Larry wanted to play some backgammon, so we got the traveling backgammon set out and read the rules.  We understood about 80% of them, so we proceeded to play. 

Our backgammon play was actually kind of silly and fun.  We had finished three games (I think) when we heard a sound outside that sounded as though someone was moving the dinghy around.  We had left the dinghy inflated, with the engine attached, but we had put the halyard on the bridle and raised it about two feet out of the water.  The sound didn’t make a lot of sense, so we went up to look.  We saw nothing unusual, so we went back down.

I proceeded to wash the dishes.  We heard the sound again a short time later, and Larry went up again.  He still saw nothing, but now he stayed up there.  By the time I finished the dishes, you could hear the wind in the rigging.  It had been coming up very slowly, and we had been (stupidly) unaware of it.  Sometime soon after the start of the wind and waves, we put the halyard on the dinghy and raised it up onto the deck.  We took the engine off and hung it on its mount at the starboard aftdeck railing.  We replaced the halyard on the dinghy and tied it off securely.  Smartest thing we did all night.

Now Larry turned on his gps so he could watch and study our anchor tracks.  Until this time, he had been certain we were not dragging, but it was becoming impossible to be sure.  We had the additional challenge of nearly complete darkness.  There was no moon, only the ambient light of La Paz over some low hills. 

We had both noticed that a boat that had started the evening north of us had moved and re-anchored west of us.  Since the cove opened to the west, this put him between us and a direct exit path out of the anchorage.  His lights were initially confusing (he eventually corrected them).  He had two sets of colored lights – the deck level running lights and the masthead tricolor.  Only one set of these lights may be on at a time.  He had his anchor light on AND his steaming light.  (The steaming light indicates that he is underway and using his motor.)  And he had his spreader lights on.  These would have been OK IF he was at anchor and trying to work on his deck.  We used our spreader lights to good effect before the night was out, but they went off as soon as we started making headway.

Anyway, the cove was not oversized and we were all at a minimum distance from each other.  It took about fifteen more minutes of increasing winds, now big, rolly waves, and finally the tracks on the gps before Larry decided we were, in fact, dragging.  This was a tricky determination to make in the dark.  We decided to haul up and reset the anchor.  We had walkie talkies we had used in the earlier part of the trip, but they stopped working around Turtle Bay (and, yes, we changed the batteries – more than once).  So we decided to use our pair of hand-held VHF radios.  We put them on a conversation frequency, channel 68, tested them, and they worked well.  At this point, the bow of the boat was starting to spring up and down, not as violently as it would, but it was getting our attention.  (This is called hobby horsing.)  This is in addition to the back-and-forth rolling which was considerable.  The waves and wind were coming from the southwest.  The waves came in directly through the cove opening, plus they were deflecting off the south point and rolling in on top of the other waves.  It was fast becoming a mess.

Larry went forward – he always does the deck work, I handle the helm – and, I later learned, he had to deal with the snubber chain popping off PLUS the chain itself hopped its track, so to speak – it came right off the bow roller.  The boat was pitching forward violently, and we were getting green water (the phrase used to describe more than white water spray) on the foredeck.  Larry told me on the radio, “We are going to leave the anchorage. ”  I had become momentarily disoriented because of the violent vertical motion combined with the side-to-side motion.  I realized that we were headed straight for Proximity, ready to T-bone them.  Larry said, “Hard Right.  NOW.”  I did that, and we did clear Proximity without colliding, but we were very close – probably less than a boat length.  Later, Larry told me the only thing I did wrong was to not give it more throttle.  The boat needs a little push, so to speak, to respond to the rudder at low speeds.

Larry came back to the helm when he had stabilized the situation at the anchor.  He got us safely out of the anchorage without endangering any other boats, and we both breathed a big sigh of relief.  I made the amazing (LOL) observation that our slip at the marina was probably empty, and they would probably be happy to see us slip back in in the middle of the night to retake it, so that is what we did.  We returned to La Paz using that afternoon’s gps waypoints. 

The waves were still fairly rocky-rolly as we headed back.  We were getting them square on the beam now.  Our forward vision was severely constrained by the dinghy.  We needed to get the hull pontoons deflated.  That meant a trip on deck on a boat that could still roll fairly violently.  BUT, the dinghy was directly in front of the dodger, so I didn’t have far to go.  First thing I had to do was to clean the salt spray off the dodger – Windex and a rag quickly found.  Then, I had to figure out how to secure myself to the boat.  In our trip preparation, we had neglected to set out the jacklines.  I am actually embarrassed to admit this, but there it is.  We didn’t plan for the worst, and it became a serious problem.  BUT, I did know where the lanyards were – right there in the cockpit where they did me the most good.  I tied myself directly to the dodger frame with one lanyard and then to a handrail with the second lanyard.  Problem solved.  I hoisted myself up on the cabin top so I could reach over and into the dinghy to open the air valves (a feat that I am unable to achieve at the dock!).  As I opened each side’s valve, the hull immediately deflated – Wow!  Worked like a champ.  Now we could see forward.

Next challenge was to find the channel buoys for La Paz Channel at night.  We eventually found two pairs which were impossible to distinguish (which was closer, which was farther) until we were within about 50’ of the near pair.  No harm done – we kept our path inside the path defined by both sets.  As we proceeded down the channel, at one point Larry said to me, “Honey, is that a boat in front of us”  There was a shadow about 60’ away with a dim light on it (maybe) – hard to be sure.  Then I realized it was the red buoy we were supposed to be leaving to our starboard!  We were headed right for it, so  now it was my turn to say to Larry, “Hard left!  NOW.”  We passed the buoy, leaving less than 30’ clear between us.  Way too close for comfort.

We found the marina easily enough and made our way to our old slip (actually one over, but a who’s counting).  A security guard saw us coming and ran down the dock to help us.  We got all tied up and, voila!  We were safe!  There was no sign of wind or waves inside the marina, by the way.  Flat as a pond on a hot, still, summer day.

We stayed two nights, including Monday, at the marina and have now moved out into the anchorage of La Paz.  We have several bits of business to take care of, and this event took more out of us than we probably want to admit – at least emotionally.  We have decided that for the immediate future, we don’t know when and where we will go next.  There is a wonderful community of cruisers (and lots of other ex-pats) right here in La Paz.  If we wanted to, we wouldn’t have to leave here at all.  But that is not what we want to do. 

Last night, we had fun with a couple we knew from Alameda Yacht Club – Jean and Roger Wise.  We went to a nice restaurant with great Mexican food, and then to a different place with a jamming band of about 8 ex-pats.  The band was pretty good – the review on the singers was mixed.  If we go back there, we will give you further reports.

Until our next report, this is Muggs and Larry of sailing vessel Peregrine, signing off.

Getting out of La Paz 24d9.6’N 110d19.3’W

Ports of Call | Posted by Admiral
Dec 06 2009
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I recently read a web post by another cruiser who referred to being sucked into the vortex of La Paz and having to work hard to break out.  It is very true!  We came for 7 days and will finally leave tomorrow, Monday, Dec. 7, on day 12. 

Larry fixed the starter problem (mostly) by fixing a loose connection on the solenoid valve of the starter.  It starts much more reliably now – not quite 100% but a great improvement.

We waited for some weather, then got involved in the bilge again.  This time, there was a LOT of water in there – all fresh!  Larry found the leak below the galley sink and fixed it fairly easily.  Then it took a day of pumping the bilge water into buckets, traipsing them up and out to our dock cart, and then over to the bilge water disposal station.  Then, the worrisome thing was that they would not actually accept most of our bilge water because it was not oily enough!  They made us pour it in the gutter – yikes!!  We put about four buckets’ worth into their disposal barrel, the rest into the street. 

Once we cleaned out the bilge, Larry investigated the bilge pump which had been working incorrectly.   He thought he needed to replace the sensing switch.   We had brought one with us so he put it in the circuit.  Nothing was changed.  Then he tried replacing the pump (also brought with us) – nothing changed.  So we went to the largest chandlery in La Paz and found replacement panel switches.  Replacing this didn’t help, so he finally considered that there was a problem with the wiring.  He ran all new wiring (through the short hall between the aft stateroom where the pump was located and the panel which is in the engine room), and voila!!!  It worked!  Yayy!  So then he disconnected and reconnected all the wiring through the bulkhead and the engine room bilge.  He had to have me hold him back from slipping into the bilge while he made some of the connections.  I was helping!

Since this is the most exciting, or at least important, stuff we did the last two weeks, it’s too bad I didn’t take any pictures while he was working.  Oh well, we did take a few pictures.  We took a tour in a small van to a town called El Triunfo which has an approx. 200 year old mining history.  We were joined by four other cruisers, and our guide spoke good English.  He was a very well-educated man and taught us a lot about culture, geography, history, birds, and cactus.  It was actually a pretty interesting day.  The highlight was an unexpected tour of a cactus sanctuary.

Muertos La Paz 047

Muertos La Paz 042 For reasons that I forget, this tower and some other structures in Baja California were designed by Gustav Eiffel – yes, that Eiffel.  I guess a man’s gotta make a living.

Muertos La Paz 053 The English cemetery.  There were separate cemeteries for each ethnic group that worked in these mines during the 1800’s.Muertos La Paz 052 Larry with Jose, the guide, in the background.

Muertos La Paz 056 Jose explained the biology of these large cacti to us and then showed us in the local homes and businesses where the woody interior structure was used to good effect as a building material!

Muertos La Paz 058 New cactus “sprouts” (my word) on a branch of a mesquite tree.

Muertos La Paz 059 A woodpecker in the cactus!  The green exterior plant tissue dries away over the years, and the wooden interior becomes the base of the largest plants.

One of our friends who went on this trip invited me to walk up a nearby (to the marina) hill to the top this morning (Sunday).  I took my camera, and we saw a lot of nice examples of the same cacti we had seen in the sanctuary plus others and some different aspects:

Muertos La Paz 065Can you see how the “bark” of this bush is flaking off like paper.  (Can’t get the computer to type a question mark all of a sudden – excuse that.)

Muertos La Paz 076  Elisabeth took this picture of me with the cactus.  I didn’t see it until I got lower on the hill.  We were going down at this point, and the footing was a little tricky – I was looking down at my feet and missing the sights.

Muertos La Paz 067 Small puffy  little cacti with beautiful red flowers.  The scale here is that the blossoms are about an inch long, the small cactus barrels about 4-6” tall.

Muertos La Paz 073The branch sticking out from Elisabeth’s feet at about a 20 degree angle is pretty much pointing at our boat in the marina below.  This picture is looking at La Paz Bay with La Paz in the distance on the left.  The picture looks southwest.

Muertos La Paz 077 A little cactus in a crevice.

This afternoon, we rode our dinghy to downtown and watched this very fine, large sailboat arrive at our marina as we returned:

Muertos La Paz 081 Notice the very unusual rig – the aft mast is the main mast with a boom.  The forward mast has a sail rigged to unfurl from the top of the mast – you can see the corner of it sticking out of the back of the mast.  Each mast has two forestays.  In case you’re asking, we don’t know what this rig is called.

We take taxis for most of our trips to town.  They’re cheap, and most of the drivers pride themselves on knowing some English.  They also seem to enjoy helping me with my Spanish, so that is improving.  The bank ATM machines work fine, the large grocery store is more like a grocery/department store, and we can find whatever we need without too much trouble.  Chandleries are a different matter – there are some here with a few items in them but nothing like the great selection of types and sizes at home.

That’s all for now.  We will go to a small bay called Balandra tomorrow.  We will try out our new snorkel suits and give you some underwater pictures (we hope).