Monday, February 22, 2010
The vacation begins…but this still ain’t no holiday!
So we finally made the long journey down the coast of Baja to Cabo San Lucas. We were in time not only for the Captains flight to NYC (to earn some dough for the Misty funds setting up runways for J-Lo’s latest fashion trends), but we were also there in just enough time to have the Captains help taking out a fuel pump with some blown seals and reinstalling a freshly overhauled one. That Volvo Penta MD6A was now running better than ever, the skies were blue, the winds fair and the beaches white. What a time to have to say farewell to the Captain. With no choice, the misty eyed Misty Crew rowed the good Captain to shore and left her to walk the beach, luggage in hand, to find the airport shuttle. Suerte Capitaina! We’ll miss you, a few tears, and then the Misty Co-Capitanas step up. Mom’s gone!! So what did we do??? Fuel up and buy some cold beers.
We had 2 weeks to make it from Los Cabos around the East Cape to La Paz, 123 nautical miles. That motor was runnin’ real nice and Hornsby and I were sharing the co-captainship as well as you could hope for. We stopped along the way to La Paz at one of the most beautiful little coves along the Baja Coast, Los Frailes. Just North of Frailes about 3 NM is Cabo Pulmo Reef which is home to one of 3 living hard-coral reef systems in North America, and the only one in the Sea of Cortez. So of course, Hornsby and I jumped in for an epic snorkel around the cove to the point and back. We found, by day, our first Crown of Thorns Sea Stars (that change colors), crazy sea cucumbers, eels, urchins of all sizes shapes and colors and tropical fish of all kinds. By night, and this is where it gets good, we suited up with wetsuits gloves and flashlights and headed out on our first non-Catalina night snorkel. We weren’t really sure if we would see any lobster at all, and if we did see them if we would even know how to catch those quick little bastards. But 45 minutes later we had 5 good-for-the-eatin’ spiny lobsters. Turns out you just gotta’ grab them as quick as you can, and when they squeal just hold on tight and head straight for that bucket with a real tight lid.
This was the trip we had dreamt of and it only took us a broken propeller strut, broken salt water impeller, overhauled fuel system and about 1000 nautical miles to get here.
So you may be reading thinking all the trials were over and Hornsby and Sharkie were getting fat off fresh seafood and cold beers. Wrong, wrong, wrong. There were a few minor bumps and hiccups, not even worth mentioning, but what I will say is that this was when the famous quote was born…”I love being scared to death every day of my life!”.
All was swell enough for the first week, anchoring and sailing smooth as butter until we were in sight of La Paz. We had left anchorage at Bahia de los Muertos at 1:00 am, as the tides through the narrow Cerralvo Channel can be tricky with an opposing wind. But that meant we were coming into La Paz on an outgoing tide with the wind in our face. So with only 12 nm to go we crept along at anywhere between 0-2 nm an hour. Perfect, we should be in La Paz by the next day. To give you a better idea of our speed…It took us what seemed like hours to pass Isla Lobos, which is a rock outcropping 10 feet wide by 30 feet long. We sure do know that little island well. The tide mellowed out and 3 knots never felt so fast! We got into the Bay and finally after getting up at 1 am Lady Hornsby and I were looking for a nice marina, cheap and maybe close to town, (as Carnival was starting the next day). There she was, shining like a beacon in or guidebook. Close to town, the cheapest in the bay, Jacuzzi tub. Lets just for privacy sake call them “Salchichas” Marina (Sausage Marina). So they sent a pilot boat out to get us, which was a red flag because if we were already in town and the pilot boat would take 10 min to get to us, that would make the marina a ways from town. We waited the 10 min, doing laps around La Paz Bay. They finally arrived and let us know that the marina was actually 2 miles from town, but there were taxis. Ok, it was still cheap and there was still that Jacuzzi. So we followed them through the shallow bay…plotting our way on the GPS, just in case. And of course, about 5 min into the journey the depth sounder fell from 10 feet to 5, 4, 3, 2, 2, 2, and then that familiar tug on the bottom of the boat that says you have run aground. AAAAHHHHHH!!!! Every day a thousand freaking days in this country!! The guys in the panga seemed oblivious to the fact that we had hit the bottom but lucky for us we knew the drill to get the boat floatin’ again. (Knowing how to get your boat off the sandy bottom is not something you are proud to admit, but lets be honest, if you haven’t run aground yet, you haven’t spent enough time on your boat.) They promised us that they took boats with a much larger draft than ours through the channel and then explained that the channel was actually about 200 yards to the south. You can imagine the frustration as we had understood that the pilot boat is supposed to guide you through a tricky channel. So after a few minutes of explaining how the whole un-grounding process worked, their 80 horses pulled us out of the sand and onto the next sand bar. WOW! Really?? Ok, lets try that again. We were finally free of the sand, common sense told us to follow those old GPS points right back out the way we came. You can imagine their surprise when we informed them we were not following them any further and were going to find a different marina for the night. The next lucky spot was “Don Juans” (again for his privacy). We called him on the radio and although he was more expensive and without Jacuzzi we were willing to settle for just about anything now. We had docked and decompressed for about 30 seconds and good old “Don Juan” came down to the dock to greet us and let us know that someone else was coming into the very slip he had just promised to us. Ok…on the verge of a breakdown we turned on the tunes and had a dance party as we motored back out of the bay we had come to know so well for Marina Palmira 2 miles back. One thousand days were almost over.
Is this starting to sound less like easy-living vacation and more like Real World Misty Moonlight? We stayed in La Paz for a few days to see what Carnival was really all about, to stock up on provisions and clean up the boat. After a few days in the harbor we were ready to get back out on the water and get back to this vacation stuff. We had heard that Balandra was one of the most beautiful beaches around La Paz and we were curious to check it out. We anchored in the early afternoon and relaxed on the boat for a while, enjoying this vacation we were on. After a while we decided to snorkel in to the beach and around the point and we saw some round rays, spotted rays, crazy nudibranchs, and some scorpion fish. What a day this had turned out to be. You are waiting for something to happen, aren’t you? The vacation was over as night fell and the swell from the north kicked in and hit us abeam and the boat started rocking and rolling. This was going to be a long night. Sleep was close to non-existent between getting up to check the anchor and attempting to sleep in the recovery position. (You know the one where you put someone on their side, so they don’t choke on their own vomit and put one knee up to stabilize them so they don’t roll over.) So Balandra wasn’t as nice of a place for us as it is for some folks traveling the Sea of Cortez and we pulled anchor as soon as the morning hit and were off to find someplace a bit mellower for the next few nights.
We headed out to Isla Espiritu Santos a few hours sail from Balandra and found a nice little cove to spend the next few days. The vacation was back and we spent the next day mostly at the beach reading, napping, snorkeling the cove and hanging by the bonfire at night. Things seemed almost too good to be true; cue the end of the vacation. To sum things up, as night fell things started to go a little wrong. I started to feel a little ill and those tacos from Carnival caught up with me and we’ll just say the shooting pains in my stomach, cold sweats, ringing ears and numbness in my face were only some of the symptoms of Montezuma’s revenge. Just as this was happening in the charmin of the Misty Moonlight, a Brown Booby made his roost for the night at the top of our mast. Lady Hornsby tried to shoo him away a little unsuccessfully by throwing avacado seeds at him and shooting him with the boats high-powered squirt gun. (Generally when shooting water straight up in the air the one who is going to get wet is not the Booby at the top of the mast, but the booby behind the barrel of the gun.) Lady Hornsby was finally successful shooing him off the mast with the main halyard, but not before he dumped the largest, fishiest pile of poop I have ever seen merely inches away from our open hatch. Tomorrows project: clean the boat.
Next day, vacation again. Montezuema had cleared his way out of my stomach and we had a nice relaxing vacation day until the sun went down. Here in the Sea of Cortez, they have these night time winds, the coromuels, which can come out of nowhere from the south and pick up pretty quickly. So right as I was settling in the v-berth for a good nights rest the winds started picking up. In no time the winds were up to 15 knots, the waves at 3 feet and building and it seemed LVII, our dinghy, tied to the stern was going to be swamped for sure. So Hornsby calls me out of bed and I crawled into LVII to get the British Seagull (our outboard) off the back of the boat and mounted onto Misty. Next, get the dinghy onto the boat in 15 knots of wind and lashed down, pay out 50 more feet of rode on our anchor line and attempt to sleep, again in recovery position between anchor watches and waves smashing the hull.
I laugh to myself at times like these and wonder who the crazed sailor is that ever said that sailing is 90% boredom. We’re not bored yet. Every stretch of this “vacation” brings new challenges and always new adventures and even at 3am in the recovery position rocking and rolling I can honestly say that there is nowhere in the world I would rather be than on this boat.
The next morning we had to pull anchor and head in to La Paz to pick up the Captain from the airport, its time for her to come home to the Misty Crew. We wouldn’t want her to miss any more of this wonderful “vacation”.