Last Island Trip and Renaming our Boat

Cloudy sailing day

Sailing out to the islands on a cloudy day was nice.

After squashing what we thought were all of our obstacles to getting out to the islands near La Paz for a more relaxing “vacation” part of our trip, we set sail on a cloudy day. It was a nice sail slightly upwind, so we planned to sail out on one tack and motor back into anchor, as we were feeling lazy and didn’t want to sail upwind the whole way.

Sailing to the islands

Sails up and heading out to Isla Espiritu Santo.

After motoring for maybe 30 minutes, our engine began overheating and spewing coolant. We immediately killed the engine and began sailing toward the nearest anchorage, unsure what the issue was. We sailed upwind in light winds all the way to anchor in Bahia San Gabriel. The engine had finally cooled enough for Tim to get in and take a look. It turned out to be an easy fix of installing a new alternator belt, allowing us to motor up to a safer anchorage with more wind protection just before one of the more beautiful sunsets.

Fixing the engine

Our alternator belt broke and our engine overheated on our way to the islands. Tim had to dive into the cockpit locker to fix it.

Island sunset near La Paz

We arrived to anchor just before sunset at Isla Espiritu Santo.

Anchoring at sunset

It was a stunning sunset as we anchored for the night.

The next day offered winds from the west/southwest, allowing for us to have a wonderful sail up to one of my favorite islands — Isla San Francisco. This is one of the more picturesque places we have visited in the Sea of Cortez. The same night, our friends on s/v Calypso, Rick and Jasna, arrived just before sunset. We had planned to meet them there, but weren’t sure if the would make it. We enjoyed swimming, kayaking, spear fishing (Tim, Rick and Jasna) and hiking at the island for six days. Rick and Jasna had to deliver some school supplies to the small fishing village just to the north, San Evaristo, and we were looking to get away from the tons of mosquitos at Isla San Francisco, so we followed them upwind.

Sailing in Mexico

Our nice sail up to Isla San Francisco.

sunny sail

We were keeping the sun off our backs as we sailed north.

Swimming the the Sea

The water was crazy clear and the perfect temp for swimming.

Picture perfect Island

Swimming, fishing, kayaking and hiking at Isla San Francisco.

Fish for Dinner

Tim shot three trigger fish for dinner with Calypso.

Hiking Isla San Francisco

Beautiful Isla San Francisco from the hike along the ridge line.

Hiking is fun

Me and Tim hiking with Jasna along the Isla San Francisco ridge line.

Jasna Tuta hiking

Jasna gazing off into the Sea of Cortez on our hike at Isla San Francisco.

Isla San Francisco

The view from the top – Isla San Francisco.

Jasna and Rick on Calypso are expert sailors, I would say. Jasna used to teach sailing in Italy, and Rick took a Yatchmaster course in Austrailia. Knowing we could learn a thing or two from these pros, we set out to follow them on our next sail upwind to San Evaristo. This proved a bit unsuccessful as we tried to tack our way to the little fishing village, we got frustrated and decided to turn the motor on (cheaters, I know). Much to our dismay, the alternator belt was slipping and our engine was struggling with overheating again. Tim rigged up a temporary solution by tying a line to the alternator and putting upward pressure on it so we could motor sail our way in. We stayed for a couple nights in San Evaristo, restocking our chocolate stash and a few other fresh foods that were running low.

With north winds predicted for the next several days, we all decided it was a good time to head back to La Paz. We were a bit nervous, considering our motor troubles, but left early for what we thought would be a nice downwind sail. Unfortunately, just as we pulled out of the anchorage, our engine was overheating again and the belt had broken once more. Frustrated, we opened our jib only and headed downwind, thinking we could repair it along the 6 hour trip. The sea was pretty rough and choppy, and without our main sail up, we were rocking and rolling the entire trip. This didn’t give Tim a chance to crawl around the engine compartment and sort out our issue.

The wind was getting pretty strong as we and Calypso — both with only headsails out — headed down to Isla Partida. As we finally approached our intended anchorage, we attempted turning into the wind with hopes of getting close enough to safely to drop anchor. This was a big mistake. The wind had picked up over 20 knots and we didn’t have any power without our main sail up. So we raised the main with the boat pointing downwind — a little dangerous maneuver because the chances for a accidental jibe are high. That is exactly what happened. We accidentally jibed hard, popping the boom right off the mast.

I had already reached my maximum stress load and freaked out about 10 minutes before we lost the boom. So, I stayed strangely calm, sailing the boat into the mouth of a different, calmer  anchorage where Tim was able to replace the alternator belt before we got too close to land. This allowed us to motor (hobble) the rest of the way to anchor. After a day like that, there was no way we could come on the VHF radio and hail with the name “Luckiest.” We decided at that moment we must rename our boat. We called Calypso, who had already anchored in our intended spot. They came down right away to help us lick our wounds.  We were happy to have their help, and we all stayed a couple of days to relax.

The second night we had our renaming ceremony (sailor’s tradition) for our boat, asking Neptune to take care of her under the new name — Lucí.

Motoring back to La Paz

It was a calm, wind-free day as we motored back to La Paz after reattaching the boom and repairing the engine a final time.

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Sailboats Belong in the Sea

As it turns out, we had to take care of a few more pressing items before getting in the water. Sailboats are funny like that, as soon as you think you have repaired everything, something else breaks.

After hooking up the new batteries, we noticed our started battery was overcharging. We quickly disconnected it and decided to have someone else look at our wiring and electrical system. Tim and I don’t trust ourselves with electrical problems and boat electrical systems.

Victor is a highly recommended Mexican marine electrician and was able to work on our boat the next day. He spent all day analyzing our system. It was too late for our starter battery, so he installed a new one and our battery switch, which will keep the starter battery separate from our house batteries. It’s often we learn important lessons about our boat when something breaks and we have to figure it out, or in this case hire someone to help us figure it out. We paid close attention to Victor’s work, so we would have a better understanding of how our boat should be wired.

Boat Electrician

Victor, the boat electrician, re-wiring our system.

 

Another issue we had to fix before launching was a broken sea cock — part of the plumbing that goes through the boat to the water. This is key to function properly. We replaced it, did a test start on the engine and declared ourselves ready to splash!

Sea Cock replacement

Tim working on replacing the head sea cock (plumbing).

We were very anxious to get into the water where the boat belongs. It was really a quick process, Tim took the helm and drove about one hour to the La Paz anchorage, while I took the car down into town where we could access it after moving the boat.

It went pretty smoothly until we needed to anchor. Our friend Jasna picked me up in her dinghy and dropped me on our boat to help Tim anchor. We hit a little snag here, as our chain did not want to come out of our Windless anchor wench. With a little more help from Rick and Jasna, we were finally able to drop anchor in La Paz.

Finished anti-fouling paint

We finished a new layer of anti-fouling paint on the boat bottom.

Boat back in the water

Capitan Tim manning the boat as she gets back in the water.

Sailboat splash into the water.

Luckiest back in the water. the Splash went smoothly and Tim motored down the La Paz Channel to anchor.

Life on the water is sooo superior to the boat yard. It’s cooler, less bugs, more beautiful sunsets.

La Paz Baja sunsets

Life on the water is so much better. The Baja sunsets are some of the best we have ever seen.

Sunrise in La Paz, Mexico

Sunrise this morning through our v-berth porthole aka “bedroom window.”

 

We still have a bit of work ahead of us before we head out for a couple of weeks at the islands. Tim discovered a leaky sea water impeller, so we are trying to repair this today. That, plus attaching the sails will be key before heading out. We have never reattached sails, and it has been 1.5 years since we removed them, so it could be interesting.  We think we can do most other items out at the islands.

Life in a Boat Yard

One week into round two of our Baja adventure, and we are happy it hasn’t been all work.

We left our Denver home and dog with my aunt and drove out Tuesday, Oct. 15, as planned. We got an early start – about 5:30 a.m. – so we could make it to Newport Beach by the end of the day. We crossed through the Eisenhower tunnel as the first snow rolled into the Denver area, making our mountain driving a bit icy, but beautiful as daylight broke.

Colorado roads

Driving through the Rocky Mountains on our way to La Paz, Mexico.

I felt like we were driving through winter into fall as we drove down the Rockies’ western slope. It was really a beautiful scene, and a pretty drive all the way from I-70 to I-15. We drove through mountain and canyons the whole way, periodically stopping to enjoy the view in Utah and Arizona.

Fall and winter mountains

We drove from winter into fall. You can see the snow at the higher altitude fade away.

Utah mountains

We so enjoyed the drive through so many types of mountains from Colorado to California.

Utah Canyon

This beautiful Canyon in Utah made us stop to admire it.

We had to drive through the Las Vegas strip, even though it was the middle of the day because I had never seen it. This put us at our day one destination about 8 p.m. to visit with our (pretty-much professional) sailing friends, David and Katie, who we met at Thanksgiving in La Paz almost 2 years ago.

They are always so welcoming when we crash coming or going from Baja. We delayed our morning start just a bit so we could meet their one-year-old daughter, Emily, putting us on our way about 7:30 a.m.

We crossed the border in Tijuana with no issues and booked it for our typical mid-way stopping point in Guerro Negro.

The mountains in Baja were more beautiful than we remembered because they were so green. the Baja had been getting a lot a rain and very wet season, actually washing out a lot of roads on the only highway that runs the length of the peninsula.

Luckily, in Mexico, they will happily divert traffic off-road.

Sunset in Guerro Negro

We arrived in Guerro Negro just at sunset.

Guerro Negro Hotel

This is the hotel we like to stay at in Guerro Negro. It is on the edge of town, always clean and the people are nice.

Broken Baja Road

The roads washed out just 2 days before we drove through here. Baja has had a very rainy season.

Green Baja Mountains

We really enjoyed how green the mountains were because of all the rain on the lower Baja.

We arrived in La Paz around 6 p.m. Our boat broker, La Paz Yachts was our first stop because we needed to get the key to our boat being stored at a local boat yard – Bercovich. Our second stop was Bercovich to check on the condition on the boat, and our third was dinner with our dear friend, Jasna, from the boat Calypso.

The boat was not in bad shape. She was a little dusty and in need of batteries and bottom paint, but mostly just how we left her. We got to work pretty much right away.

Day 1) Wash down outside and clean inside thoroughly. Remove old batteries, buy new batteries – about $450usd

Day 2) Install new batteries, unpack bags and ready v-berth for sleeping

Day 3) Power wash the boat bottom (we were able to borrow one from our boat neighbor, Pete, who came down from San Francisco to work on his boat too.)

Day 4) Had the boat bottom inspected by a local boat surveyor, Cecil – who did our boat inspection before we bought 2 years ago. He was a boat builder most of his life and will be 89 soon. We bought one gallon of ablative anti-fouling paint nearby for about $180 usd and supplies for painting. We got advice to just do a light sanding on the existing paint, power wash again and paint. So we did.

Day 5) Find cayenne pepper and put inside paint – old sailor trick to keep barnacles away. Had paint shaken again to mix all biocide and cayenne pepper inside. Now, we paint the bottom.

We are hoping to get into the water in a couple of days, in which case we would head straight to the islands to finish up the work on the boat. The boat yard has not been as bad as I thought it would be. I just had to accept that I would be dirty, sweaty and eaten by mosquitos every day. But there is unlimited fresh water and electricity, and we have the best spot in the yard with an ocean sunset view.

La Paz Sunset with boat

We enjoyed the sunset walking the ocean boardwalk in La Paz.

In the boat yard

Our boat “on the hard” in the boat yard.

Dirty boat bottom

Our boat bottom before any cleaning.

Clean the boat

Tim power washing our boat bottom.

Painting boat bottom

TIm painting the boat bottom. We went with a darker blue, and I really like it.

 

 

 

 

Grand Tetons

Variety is the spice of life, but sometimes you travel the same place twice.

My family loves Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Lake Lodge.  We visited there in 2007 and had our first encounters with elk, moose and bison, as well as drank in the lodge view daily with awe.  It is still just as majestic a view, even if we are much more familiar with wildlife now.  We had to visit one more time and really soak it all in.

Our trip was full of watching mountain sunsets, searching for wildlife, river rafting and hiking.

Dinner view

The view from dinner at the lodge.

Grand Teton Dusk

Dusk with the view of the Grand Teton Mountains from our lodge.

Radting Trip

Julie and Lydia rafting on the Snake River.

Bald Eagles

There were tons of Bald Eagles we saw rafting along the Snake River.

Snake River Rafting

Rafting down the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park.

Rafting Group

Part of our group, Julie, Caleb, Lydia and Greg, rafting down the Snake River.

Snake River Rafting

Rafting on the Snake River.

Above the Snake River

After white water rafting, we climbed up to this view.

After Rafting

My sister and me after rafting. We were on the front of the raft, so we got soaked.

Yellowstone Pool

A beautiful steaming pool at Yellowstone National Park.

Grand Teton Sunset

Sunset view of the Grand Tetons from our lodge.

Mountain Sunset

Another view of the same sunset.

Lake Hike

Hiking near Jackson Lake with an amazing mountain view.

Ma and Lydia

Me and Lydia on a hike near Jackson Lake.

Niece and Nephew

My niece and nephew, Lydia and Caleb, enjoying the lily pad lake view.

Mountian

Mountain Majesty

Sitting on a Log

We stopped for a picnic, Caleb sat next to me.

Swan Lake

Picnic view of Swan Lake

Hiking

My mom and niece enjoying the hike.

Hiking Path

Beautiful hiking path.

Mountain Layers

The mountains changed on the drive home in Wyoming.

Happy Anniversary, I think

One of the questions I get most often about life on a boat is, “How can you stand each other that often in such a small space?” The answer is, we don’t.

We get fed up with one another and argue over stupid things. We even storm off and go outside to the cockpit. I think this behavior, although not preferred, is common among the first year of marriage as you both find your places in the relationship and your roles as husband and wife. I also think that our situation of spending nearly 24-hours a day together and overcoming new and constant challenges compounds this process a little bit. I like to think we are learning so much about each other that we are like a couple who has been married more than one year… maybe three. We have amazing days often, but I wanted to point out that we are still learning so much about sailing, living aboard and each other, that we often find ourselves stressed.

It is hard to believe one year has gone by since our wedding, but then I sit back and look at all the things that we have done and what has changed since then, and I am amazed. It makes me think that Tim and I can accomplish anything we set out to do. We will be able to take on the whole world, and fully intend to. Not necessarily in our boat, but certainly in some fashion.

Right now we have found ourselves in Marina de La Paz working on what we thought would be a few quick projects before we headed north into the sea. We have made good progress over the last few days polishing the stainless steel, replacing a faulty fuel injector, repairing our dinghy outboard motor and giving everything a good wash down. We also discovered a leak in our starboard fresh water tank and bought a new dinghy. Trade the good with the bad.

We don’t know how much longer this will keep us here in La Paz, so I am beginning to wonder if we will ever go north this year. Perhaps traveling north will have to wait until next season. This is so common among sailors here. Many people come to La Paz with intentions to only stay one or two months and soon they have spent a year here.

I am not really complaining about being in La Paz; it is comfortable and easy and beautiful, but it was not the intention to move to La Paz. The weather has warmed up quite a bit here in the past couple weeks to hit 90. It is nice to wear vacation clothes, but it does get hot working on the boat in the marina. I have tried to set a deadline for leaving La Paz – April 8 – my birthday and Easter this year. I have no idea if this will actually happen, but a girl can dream.

In the mean time we have been really enjoying our friends here while we can. Our friends from Texas came to visit – Torie and Andrew. We took them to the islands and showed them everything we could. We had one pretty bad rolling night, but otherwise it was very enjoyable. We have been soaking up our La Paz friends, too. Everyone has their plans and deadlines to leave, but we all still find ourselves here in sunny La Paz.

For our first anniversary Tim and I celebrated by having a delicious breakfast out in town where we discovered the best jam ever. It is papaya and pineapple and we bought a large amount to-go. We had an argument in the afternoon over something silly and made up in the evening. We took our dessert wine from Napa Valley that we have been saving for more than a year to the beach and had a glass while we looked at the stars. It was perfect – not story book perfect, but real life perfect.

Jasna selling goods at the swap meet in La Paz. The boaters organize a swap meet once a month.

Torie and Andrew checking out the view from the bow.

Torie and Me doing a little sunbathing in Caleta Partida.

One of the best sunsets yet.

Out with Rick and Jasna.

We had an anniversary breakfast where we discover the best jam ever.

Tim opening our wine with the help of his trusty headlamp.

Delicious wine on the beach

Happy Anniversary ; )

Me polishing all the stainless steel.

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

We headed out to the islands for holiday celebrations on Dec. 22 just before a strong northerly blew through the La Paz area. We knew we wanted to spend our holidays at the islands and would not be able to get out there during the north winds, so we cut out early and had a lovely time. We stayed on the boat for two entire days until the winds subsided on Christmas day.

We decorated our tiny tree with glitter covered sea shells, made a Christmas feast and opened presents before a stroll along the white sand beach of Bahia San Gabriel. We did miss our families a lot, but luckily still had phone reception to give them a call.

We spent the last 10 days exploring the anchorages that we had not seen yet and found some new favorites. We tucked into Candleros Bay and found some incredible hiking up the center ridge-line and down into the valley. We stayed there for a few days and watched tourist camps come in and out. We moved up to Ensenada Grande – on the north side of Isla Partida. This is a busy anchorage with tourists, divers and fishermen. This is where Tim shot his very first fish with his spear gun. He hunted it along the rocks nearby and brought it home for dinner. It, unfortunately, was very boney and tough to fillet, but we tried.

One night we were catching up on Season 2 of Friends and heard a loud splash outside. Tim went to investigate and found sea lions feeding all around our boat! It was so neat because as they swam around, they stirred up the bioluminescent plankton and created glowing streams of water and splashes all around. We grabbed our bright spotlight, and when we saw a grouping of glowing movement we flashed the light in their direction. All the sea lions would look at us surprised and scatter. It was great fun, and we all played this little game for about an hour.

We scooted up to the very northern rocks that have a colony of sea lions called Los Islotes. This is a huge tourist hot spot, so pongas (little power boats) full of divers and snorkelers were surrounding the island. The water there is about 65-feet deep and very rocky bottom, so we opted not to anchor and just do a loop to take a look at the activity. We anchored in a very large anchorage called Cordonal. This spot was cool because it nearly cuts the northern island in half, so you can take a very easy stroll to the east side of the island, which we did. We were confronted with the vastness of the Sea of Cortez on that side. It made me wonder if we will ever be ready to cross it.

From this anchorage we heard our friends from Matilda on the radio, but we couldn’t see them. Turns out, they were in the same place – Cordoncito – that we had waited out the last northerly with them. This is a little cove just next door to where we were, so we moved over there to join Hayden and his friends aboard, Megan, Andy and Emily. Another boat and close friends of Hayden, Pyxis with James and Eva, was there. We three boats decided to stay here and have a little party to kick off the new year. It was perfect. Everyone brought over food including the fish Hayden had shot earlier that day, and I helped fillet. We had dinner and drinks and shot off expired flares at midnight!

We also drove around to the anchorage next door and had amazing views of the glowing bioluminescence. It is unlike anything I have seen before. Our dinghies had glowing, sparkling tails as we whizzed around in the dark. Just amazing.

We returned to La Paz yesterday with sails up all the way to tend to boat maintenance and await the arrival of Tim’s parents. We are so excited to share our discoveries with them!

Heading out to the islands.

We made shells into ornaments, and I wanted to cover them all in glitter.

Ta da! Our tree covered in homemade shell ornaments.

Tim is carving our Christmas ham. We had green bean casserole, cheddar potatoes, ham and a chocolate cake for dessert.

Christmas day walking on the beach. Yes, Tim's hair is getting long.

Hiking the ridge in Candleros bay.

Working our way through the rocky valley in Candleros.

We found these amazing red rock caves.

There is a well in Candleros that travelers can use for showers.

The view from our hike in Ensenada Grande.

Tim's first spear catch. It doesn't look like much, but he could feed us.

Me filleting Hayden's fish for New Year's Eve dinner.

New Year's party on the Luckiest.

One of the best sunsets yet.

The Islands

To get ourselves out of our little funk of thinking “What did we do?” we headed out to the nearby islands to regroup and do what we came to do. We wanted to remind ourselves why we were here instead of getting trapped in the daily grind in La Paz.

We got a bit of a late start heading out of the bay, but we were determined to go. We motored out of the long channel that leads into La Paz Bay and we hoisted the sails. We sailed for about one hour in very light winds before we realized we wouldn’t make it to the anchorage before dark if we didn’t motor. We started the “iron sail” and did some motor sailing with our head sail out for a little extra speed all the way into Bahia San Gabriel. This was kind of wide open to one side with a big white sand beach and an old pearl fishery I was exited to see. When we arrived it was perfectly still and we anchored just in time to see the sun set. We watched the starts over calm water before we tucked in very early.

What do you know, but the wind shifts from the north to the southwest blasting us into a lee shore all night long. A lee shore is when your boat is being blown to land instead of sea… not good. The anchorage was wide open to these “nighttime corumels,” as they call them, and wind and waves had us up all night long. I slept in the dinette so I could see better and get away from some of the movement. We were making sure we didn’t drag anchor all night. I actually had a dream that we did drag and we ended up right on top of a friend’s boat holding off the damage with my feet. Then I woke up and found we had drug and it looked like we were in Puerto Escondido and once again I was holding the boat off a wall of  mud and muck with my hands and feet. Then I woke up again and found we were exactly in the same spot we had anchored. Yup, I had a dream within a dream – Inception style.

Anyway, by the time the sun came up we were so ready to get out of there, we didn’t explore at all and high tailed it toward Caleta Partida, a well protected anchorage just north of the island we were on. I forgot to mention that our refrigerator stopped working while we were anchored, and we were pretty bummed. Turns out it was just a fuse, and we had it onboard. We finally fixed something! We thought it would be nice, since the waves calmed down on our way, to stop at a small cove just before we reached Partida. We wanted to have lunch and walk around a bit before we anchored for the night. We had a lovely and relaxing afternoon and really started to feel better about being out there. We met a couple who were kayaking around the islands and camping on the beach – wow, they are adventurous.

So we decided to head over to Partida and have plenty of time to anchor before dark. We got into positions – Tim at the helm and me ready to push the anchor windlass button that brings up the 44 lb. anchor and 100+ feet of chain – and nothing. Nothing happened. It is broken. We fumble around for a little bit trying to find the problem or a reasonable solution. We switch places and Tim has to muscle it all up.

We make it to Partida ready for a calm few nights. It was rather crowded so we had to anchor a couple of times to feel like we were in a good spot. This would normally not be a big deal, but with a broken windlass it made for an exhausting evening for Tim. We were happy to be settled for a while.

We finally got to have an enjoyable and relaxing time out at the islands. We explored around the outskirts in our dinghy and ran into some friends. We joined them for snorkeling and spear fishing and were happy to be doing what we thought we would be doing every day. Hayden speared a decent size fish and he and Irene came over to eat it. That’s what it is all about. We also got to hike to the top of the ridge, find the nearby sea caves and sleep soundly. Caleta Partida was good to us.

We knew a Northerly was about to blow through the area real hard, so we did a little exploring to find a nice calm spot (and to check out the nearby blue footed booby colony). We ended up tucking into a really small cove called Cordoncito next to our new friends on Matilda. The winds were very strong and we had some sleepless nights, but generally it was not too bad. We still got to explore, hike and snorkel in the daytime, so we were happy. I even got a day alone doing yoga on the beach – pure bliss. Tim, Hayden and Irene did some spear fishing, and Hayden shot something every day. One day gave us a little fish to practice gutting and cooking it. The funny part is that he was still alive and we had no idea how to kill him. Tim tried beating it, and nothing. It was kinda sad, but he ended up gutting and filleting it, and we had fish tacos.

We spend our last night there having delicious fish tacos on Matilda prepared perfectly by Hayden and Irene. As the weather subsided we headed back into La Paz to get some work done.

On the way out there.

Lunch stop and hike

Hiking El Mesteño

Spear fishing the reef in Caleta Partida.

Top of the ridge at Caleta Partida. Our boat is in the middle.

 

They are heading out to spear some fish

 

So how do you eat this thing?

 

See our boats in El Cordoncito

 

Back to the dinghy