Friday, 27 September 2013

Filling in the gaps in our spring timeline - March to May 2013 - Part 1 (La Cruz to La Paz)

{Note from Liz - Grab a cup of tea before you start reading this one ... we have a lot of catching up to do!}

One of the challenges (for me) of leaving on an adventure and starting to keep a blog all at the same time is that it takes time to develop the habit of doing, digesting, and writing as we go ... we have so far ended up with all-or-nothing posts (ie for a long time you get nothing, and then you get to read about what we have been up to all at once).  Friends who have known us for years will notice that this is not out of character for us! Thus, for the moment, we offer these long epistles which at least give you a sense of some of the challenges jumping in head-first at the bottom of a steep learning curve.  We are also starting to "just post" when we have a quick something to say, or photo to share, rather than waiting for a "perfect" moment to write a "perfect" post.  This is, perhaps, a life lesson that we all learn over time.

So.... I hope that your cuppa is ready.  Let's start catching up!

We finished the winter refit that had kept us in the La Cruz area in early March (this post talks about the jobs we did), and spent a week at anchor in Punta de Mita (6 miles and a world away from the Marina in La Cruz).  Our friends from Shindig, Heavy Metal, and Destiny were there as well, so Max had a great time trying his hand at the Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP for those in the know ...) surfing with Rob and Rigo.  Frankie and Johnathan got in on the act as well.  After months of refit, it was a welcome break to spend days in the water and evenings around a bonfire or a friend's cockpit.

Our sojourn at Punta de Mita was quickly followed by a couple of weeks at Paradise Village Marina, host of the 2013 Banderas Bay Regatta.  We didn't have a guaranteed slip in the marina for regatta week (in fact when we arrived, we were given strict orders to "be gone by Saturday"), but we had alongside work to do during the week before, and we figured that it couldn't hurt to be already there as others started changing their plans and the waiting list got shorter.  Also, it is closer to marine suppliers so Max could replace much of our "below the water line" tee fittings and hoses.  Our instinct and perseverance paid off ... the day before the regatta was due to start (after several days of hearing, "ok, you can stay today, but you need to leave tomorrow," from the marina office), we got the good news that not only could we stay in the marina for the regatta week, but that we didn't even have to move to a different slip!

One of the "tee" fittings that was replaced.

Fluenta at Paradise Village - Beside our friends in SV Cedar Spirit (we joked that we could their tender)
Back in January, our friends Merle (Kenta Anae),  Rigo (Heavy Metal) and Max had come up with the idea that it would be great for a group of 'kid boat' families to race as one crew in the regatta.  Rigo, with a 60-foot aluminum boat, was quickly elected as host, and the plan began to take shape.  Six kids, seven grownups, and four days of ideal sailing conditions  - we had a great time! The boat is optimized for shorthanded offshore racing and is used as a family home so getting everyone involved efficiently was a challenge.  Max was kept busy tactician.  As a non-worked-up crew (ie we had all sailed lots, but never together or on Rigo's boat) we had a lot to learn, and every day we did better.  We finished just out of the medals.  The highlight of the awards banquet for us was not so much the prizes (we didn't win any) was that all of the cruising kids worked together to build the most amazing complex of sand castles and statues.

Max was busy finally wiring in our new set of solar panels when a woman's voice was heard on Ch22 in distress.  Turns out it was SV Flying Dragon, a 1925 Chinese Junk and the home of another "kid boat".  Max and Merle went over to Paradise Village on a fast powerboat (which blew an engine on the way there ...) in order to pitch in as they could.  It was pretty chaotic and Max ended up being the voice on the radio coordinating things from Flying Dragon with Merle coordinating all the lines and stuff.  Frank and I came out later bringing our 400' line for our sea anchor and some other supplies.  By 0200 it was evident that we were not going to get Flying Dragon off the beach that tide cycle but the boat was left secure with two kedge anchors and a generator powering the bilge pumps.  The next day the team reconvened but with a lot of skilled and eager volunteers.  There are more complete recounting of the day in other blogs: The best one comes from the crew of Fantasia and the owners of Commodores Yachts. Another is from our friends on SV Cat2Fold who also took some amazing photos. By the end of the day Flying Dragon was saved and, just as importantly, no one was seriously hurt in the process.  We then spent the next two days tracking down the equipment that had been loaned to the recovery.  An amazing experience to see how the cruising community - and the local contractors volunteering time and professional mariners providing materiel (thanks Dauntless) - rallied together to help out one of their own.
(SV Cat2Fold Photo)
(SV Cat2Fold Photo)
(SV Cat2Fold Photo)

Max on the radio - He went through 3 batteries on the radio that day.  Note the STV TUNA shirt. (SV Destiny photo)

After the Regatta, it was back to La Cruz for a few days of provisioning, stowing, goodbyes and thank-yous, and then we headed off on our first long passage in months ... across the Sea of Cortez from La Cruz to La Paz, which is the jumping-off point for the Sea of Cortez.  This passage also gave Frankie the chance to cement his practical experience for the Sail Canada Intermediate Cruising course (congrats Frankie!).  Still being in her first trimester, Liz found that her sea legs were missing ...
Johnathan checking the CPA of a tanker on the AIS
Johnathan holding a compass course (and doing math in disguise)
Story time on passage

Kids keeping a visual watch as we get across to the Baja.
At anchor in La Paz
La Paz is a great town, especially for the cruiser in need of spare parts or a good meal out!  We (I) loved our winter in La Cruz (especially the friends we made), but it sure would have been nice to be able to find all our spares within walking distance of the Marina the way Max did in La Paz!  After a few days of sightseeing, boat chores, schoolwork, and anchoring in the nearby islands where we swam with sea lions (yes, really!) it was finally time to bid a fond farewell to Frankie.  He headed home for school interviews, a summer job, and the next stage of his life on the water.  We sure miss him!  Every few days, one or the other of the kids will say to me, "Mom, I miss Frankie!"
Out to Swim with the Sea Lions
The Family Car
Frank's Departure
While we were in La Paz, we ran into some of our friends from the Baja Ha Ha, not just kid boats, but mostly.  As a total change of pace, after months of working non-stop, we spent one day going from lunch to coffee to dinner to an evening walk on the Malecon (waterfront promenade) to ice cream - I don't think I have ever eaten so much in one day in my life!  What a lot of eating and catching up we did!  Our friends on Resilience are both marine biologists, so we were thrilled when they took all the children to the Serpentarium one afternoon.  We also had a chance to wish Aphrodite well, as they stored their boat and headed home to California.  It turned out that we weren't the only ones headed to the Sea of Cortez ... in fact, there were eventually five kid boats that were cruising together at any one time ... and that is a post of its own!