Bahia Los Frailes, Mexico

Posted 29 November 2010

We left Cabo San Lucas at 7 am on Friday morning 26 November and had quite a tough sail with the wind on the nose to Bahia Los Frailes. The boat had a hard time punching trough the waves and at times the waves stop the boat to an almost standstill with a speed of about 0.5 knots. We decided to turn around and run downwind for about 3 miles and anchor at Point Gorda for lunch and to have a little rest.
After a hour or two we headed out again with the storm jib and the main with 2 reefs. This allowed us to punch trough the waves a little better and also gave us a bit more speed and comfort. We were doing from 3 to 5 knots with the occasional wave breaking over the dodger and soaking us. It was a long beat into the wind and we ended up tacking away from land for about 12 miles and then tack back to get to Bahia Los Frailes. The most wind speed we saw was 27 knots, but it was a constant 23 to 25 knots. We anchored at 2 am Saturday morning quite exhausted.

Bahia Los Frailes is a beautiful bay with a white sandy beach and mountains surrounding the bay. There were several boats anchored, but most of them left and only 3 sailboats remained anchored.
We got our 'Pasaporte de la Conservacion' from the ranger here. This cost us 260 pesos each and are valid for 1 year. Now we will not have to worry about paying the fees at each island or conservation area we visit.

Sunday morning we decided that it is a good day to hike up the mountain with our friends Will and Marilyn from 'Shaman 1' and with Marc from 'Wendaway'. Mark wife Wendy had done the hike before and she opted out for a day of relaxing on the boat.

We had so much fun hiking up the mountain, had to make several rest points as it always look easier than what it is. Mark has very good knowledge of the area and also of the plants. The landscape is mostly rocky and we saw lots of cactus plants and some wild flowers. The rangers had mark the trail so it was easy enough to follow. I have no idea how long it took us, but it felt like hours before we eventually reached the top. It was worth every drop of sweat and achy muscles, absolutely breathtaking. You could see the bay on the other side of the mountain and also the reefs in the water. We saw lots of vultures flying.

The downward trip was much easier and in no time we were back on the beach. After a long shower, we ended our lovely day with our friends on 'Wendaway' with a lovely potluck supper and desert.

Monday we went on a mission to walk to the little restuarant and bar. We had a great time, but unfortunately the cheff's vehicle broke down and we had to go without food.

They predict some strong northerly winds for the next couple of days, so we are going to do some walking, snorkeling, diving, photographic and ...

Ballena Point, Cabo San Lucas

Posted 23 November 2010

We moved the boat to Ballena Point to avoid paying for anchoring. Ballena Point is just out of the bay with more of a rocky shoreline. This works great for snorkelling, much more fish to see. The port authority (API) charge 130 pesos a day for anchoring and 30 pesos per day to leave your dinghy at the dingy dock. With us having to wait for the Solar Boost unit this adds up.

The ship’s compass was loosing the oil inside creating a huge bubble making it difficult to read. This morning we decided that it is time to fix this problem. This compass is as old as the boat (29 years) so not too bad. When we took the compass apart we noticed that the screws that hold the compass together and keep it sealed were corroded thus the oil leaking out. Easy enough to fix. Well we could not find any compass oil, nor any premium mineral oil that are recommended for this compass, so we had to use the next best thing until we can find the right oil. We bought the lightest oil we could find (pure Soya oil) and the job went very smoothly. The oil viscosity is thicker than the normal compass oil, but all that will happen is that the compass will react slower to direction change and we can live with that.

There are currently 3 Canadian boats here and we all went shopping yesterday. It was quite a sight and we could not take the bus back as we had far too much groceries. So we club together and got a minivan taxi to take us back. Now we only came with 2 dinghies (3 people per dinghy). Well after packing one dinghy with all the groceries with the driver and 1 passenger and the other dinghy with the rest of us and the rest of the groceries that could not fit, you can picture the sight. What a pity I did not have my camera with me.


Posted 20 November 2010

Good news the solar boost unit arrived in California USA and was fixed. They will send it back on Monday morning so hopefully we should have it before the end of the week.

In the mean time Dinis tried the hooka diving gear and it works great. He dived and spend quite some time exploring the area around the boat. He took a few pictures of the boat’s underwater profile and also of the anchor chain. The unit will come in handy to clean the bottom of the boat and also to change the zinks when needed.

The weather is great and in the mornings it is about 23 to 29 degrees Celsius in the boat and not much hotter during the day. There is usually a breeze blowing which keep the boat airy and liveable. Surprisingly we have not felt too hot as yet. Yesterday while I was hanging some laundry on the lifelines I noticed a stingray swimming back and forth under the boat. It visited for almost the whole day. Not sure if it seek the shadow of the boat. I took some pictures of the stingray swimming.

This morning we went snorkelling and my second time trying the camera under water. It is easier said than done as a person is moving constantly, but I did manage to capture a few pictures that turned out good. We snorkelled just off Lovers Beach where there are a few rocks and some coral. There was a lot of small fish.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Posted 14 November 2010

Luckily for us the weather gave us good wind for the first 20 hours. We had a great sail from Magdalena Bay to Cabo San Lucas. The wind blew a constant 12 to 17 knots. We had just the genoa up and was doing a good speed. We did a 139 nm in 24 hours which were good. We arrived on Wednesday afternoon 10 November in Cabo San Lucas. We anchored in the bay.

During the previous week we had noticed the Solar Boost acting strangely. At times it charged the batteries from the solar panels and at times the led light just blink rapidly. On Thursday it seems to be the final straw and was not charging the batteries at all. We contacted the manufacturer and they told us that we should send the unit back for repairs as it is still under warrantee.

We headed into town after we took the unit out to send it for repairs. To our dismay, we had just missed the 3 o’clock cut-off for all packages to be send out for the week. Monday is a holiday, so the package will only be shipped on Tuesday morning 16 November and should arrive on Thursday in the USA. Hopefully we should get the unit back early the following week.

We were totally stressed out by this, as our plans were to stay here only a couple of days and then heading towards La Paz. Well what can a person do, we decided to just enjoy our extended stay. It is a beautiful area and are sunny with fantastic sandy beaches.

Saturday we added the little wheels to the dingy so that we can pull the dingy easier when going ashore. Our first try heading towards Lovers Beach ended up a bit embarrassing for me. I was not paying attention to the waves and was also standing in front of the dinghy instead of next to it when a big wave came in and pushed the dinghy over me. Well I got up totally wet and full of sand. I scared the hell out of Dinis. Luckily I was not hurt and this was towards the late afternoon with not too many witnesses. Needless to say I did learn my lesson and will be more careful next time.

It seems that this location is not playing along with Dinis calling CQ’s on the ham radio. We are moving to a different location a bit further outside the bay on Monday. Hopefully this will improve the ham conditions for him.

We would also like to say a very big ‘Thank You’ to all who send us an email and for all the best wishes we are receiving. It is great to hear news from everyone. We can only respond to your emails when at port that have internet. We do not have internet onboard while sailing. While sailing we only have the ham email, which we reserve for the weather and for emergencies only. I also use this email during passages to send our 24 hr position reports and to post text on our blog site when conditions are favourable.

Magdalena Bay, Baja California, Mexico

Posted 8 November 2010

We arrived in Magdalena Bay on Thursday 4 November in the afternoon. There was very little wind most of the way and we only managed to sail for about 5 hours. We saw lots of fishermen buoys for lobster all the way. This was quite stressful as they tied a line between 2 buoys, which can get stuck around the propeller. At night time this was even more of a pain as it is very difficult to see the buoys. We changed our course to deeper water to avoid the shoal areas where the lobster traps are.

Magdalena Bay is huge. We anchored off Point Belcher which is about 4 nm from the entrance to the bay. There is a small fishing community there. The tides are quite strong and it reminded us of going up the Frazer river back in Richmond. It is just picturesque. We stayed for 2 days at anchor and with the fishermen's help and technique we manage to catch 12 mackerel fish. Dinis and myself are not much of fishermen, but we getting the hang of it. The only problem is cleaning the fish. After scrubbing the boat for 2 days we are still finding scales. We promised ourselves that the next time we will go to the beach to clean the fish.

Saturday afternoon 6 November we made our way to San Carlos city, which is about 15 nm north-east in the bay. We needed diesel as again the weather forecast predicts no wind. We spend Sunday at anchor and visited the village to get some fresh provisioning. San Carlos is not geared up for sailing boats, more of a commercial boat facility. If we knew this we would have filled the diesel up in Turtle bay. We did manage to take the diesel containers to the dock by dinghy to filled it up on Monday morning. There was no way that we would be able to tide the boat to the docks, unless we tide next to a fishing boat.

With the diesel tanks full, we made our way back to Point Belcher on Monday afternoon. We will leave tomorrow morning (Tuesday 9 November) for Los Cabos (Cabo San Lucas), which is about 165 nm miles south. It should take us about 34 hours if we motoring, but all fingers crossed that we will have some wind.

We have not managed to get any internet since we left Ensenada. San Lucas is a much bigger city and we have to do quite a bit there. By now I have a bundle of washing that will keep me busy for a whole day and we need to make a major provisioning as well. I will also upload all the photos and videos from there.

Life aboard Vida Nova

Posted 1 November 2010

Life aboard has fallen into a rhythm now. While at anchor we wake up when the sun shines through our skylight (hatch), have a cup of coffee and breakfast cereal. There is usually something that needs fixing and/or cleaning. By mid morning we should have the chores done and can relax. The rest of the day is taken up by reading, planning the next route, getting the weather information, talking on the radio (Dinis), going ashore to get provisions and to explore.

While on passages, life falls into a watch system. We are still doing a 2 hours per watch at night and have a more flexible watch system during the day. I am still getting nervous when the wind pipes up and there are big seas. Dinis is learning to sail with less sail than what he really wants to sail with. I suppose these compromises will in the end work out as I am sure that I will get used to this eventually.

We had fixed our problem with the automatic tiller pilot by changing the position of the pin on the wind vane. We also replaced the plastic tip of the tiller pilot that fit over the pin with a stainless steel tip that was machined in San Diego. We had bought another tiller pilot as backup just in case we have trouble with the existing one.

The water maker is just great, we run it everyday for a couple of hours except when we are in harbour (usually the water inside harbours are not too clean and this will impact the filters). We try to keep the tanks as full as possible. Just knowing that I can have a shower when I want to and use as much water as I feel like is a great comfort.

As far as eating habits are concern, we find that during passages we eat less and more healthy as to keep seasickness at bay. At anchor we are a little less concern. We have find that food is not as cheap in Mexico as what we had anticipated and a big part of our budget is spend on food.

My hair is driving me nuts, I need a haircut. I had already took the scissors and cut my fringe (bangs), hopefully when we get to San Lucas I will find a hairdresser.

In Turtle bay we discovered that the Baja HaHa fleet had left on Saturday morning, so we missed our friends. The little village here is not big and there is not much of a grocery store, but we did find some fresh provisioning that will last us until Magdalena bay.

We are planning to leave tomorrow morning Tuesday 2 November for Magdalena Bay, which is 250 nm miles from Turtle Bay. Should take us 2 to 3 days to get there.