Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas

Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas

Ensensada to Cabo San Lucas


who has the right of way

Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas

We arrived in Ensenada just at dark and set down anchor after another day of motoring-where is the wind????
In the morning we had a huge cruise ship beside us, luckily we had slept through it’s arrival as it would have been a little disconcerting to have awoken to see it bearing down on us in the dark when we were unsure of our bearings!’
Next morning we were off to customs—paid a Mexican fisherman $5 to watch our dingy, he assured us nothing would be stolen—would it have been otherwise?
Luckily all of the customs, immigration and port captain are all in the same building which is why we had been advised to clear here.
After having reported to each of the above, filled in numerous forms and had numerous photocopies of all necessary documents (there is an office next door for photocopies) and various charges later we were in. We had already purchased in San Diego the necessary fishing licenses, one for the boat, one for the dingy and one for each of us to be a total of $215 and had purchased a Mexican underwritten insurance at the cost of $149. All in all it costs about $500 to come into Mexico with our boat. Hopefully we will feel it is worth it!!
We lunched in town, an uninspiring border town and were reminded of the constant barrage of street vendors offering to sell their wares and an abundance of mariachi singers offering to serenade us which had been an annoyance on our previous Mexican visits, oh well we will have to learn not to be bothered as it is a fact of life here.
We then set off on the 2 day passage to Isle San Benitos. No wind again for the first day and then all of a sudden it showed up again and we had a great sail for the rest, finally we were a sailboat again.
We arrived at the small very desolate island group which has a small fishing village on it. Everything is very dry and barren with cactus growing all over the rocky island. We were visited by a couple of fishermen in their pangas who scoped us out returning later to trade 8 lobster tails. They asked for beer and candy which we gave them, by then there were seven of them. They had also asked for T shirts and ball caps we gave them a T shirt but we did not bring much extra in the way of clothes. When we think of the drawers full that Ken had thrown out when we left!! When I go back to Canada to visit Kristen’s baby I am going to go and collect up as many T shirts, ball caps and children’s school supplies as I can as these people have very little. Maybe a visit to Value Village and the dollar store is in my future.
The area is meant to be great for diving and snorkeling but was very windy and not hot so passed on both. Unfortunately it was too rough to land the dingy as it also has many curious sea lions and sea elephants and would have been great to explore a little.
The boat had been covered with squid when we arrived, we had not seen them but they must jump huge heights to get on the deck. Anyway that became calamari along with the lobster for dinner. We had already been treated to tuna sashimi on another catamaran which was anchored there too. Once again gourmet feasts are the norm.
As the wind was still blowing we decided to capitalize and left the following day for the 300 miles to Bahia Santa Magdalena, our next stop.
Ken’s biggest disappointment was to lose a swordfish which he had hooked, it somehow broke the line soon after. It would have made the outrageous fishing licenses worth while—oh well hopefully he will get another chance—he had caught some bonitos which gave us more sashimi—I think more wasabi will be bought back from Calgary too. He finally caught and landed a nice yellow fin tuna after we put a sign on the lure to warn all of the bonito’s to “keep off”!!
“Mag Bay is a huge harbour and we anchored at a small bay, which has a very small seasonal fishing camp, which consists of some small shacks with a few families who eke out an existence. This reminds us of the poverty of the hills in Laos where the people also had nothing and were able to survive hand to mouth finding what was available in a dry inhospitable landscape. It is finally warm enough to be able to swim off the boat and we are now wearing bathing suits all day, thank goodness.
We decided after a couple of days to head to Cabo San Lucas but as we were leaving the harbour met up with a catamaran we had met previously who advised that tropical storm Sergio was still hovering in southern Mexico and may come north and we should perhaps wait it out to see where it decides to go. Now in our new chilled out “tropical mode” we headed back to another bay in Mag Bay and were joined by a number of other boats who were also sitting out Sergio. Used the time to sew up some more sunshades for the sides of the boat which it is becoming clear will be necessary. More swimming and went ashore to the local town at this bay to report in to the Port Capitan who collected more copies of all boat documents and proceeded to file information on all of us there. His position seems to be a “make work” one as there are only a handful of cruisers there at any one time and no dock so the only fishermen there are the locals who have their pangas on floats they tie ashore. Anyway he proved to be a happy individual who arranged to bring us and a few of the other boats fuel from San Carlos, the major port in the bay on his panga at a reasonable price the next day before he headed off to San Carlos for the weekend to visit family, somehow it is not necessary to have a port captain on weekends!
Maria in the yellow house sold eggs and mucho pain (bread), our Spanish is starting to develop.
I joined a couple of cruisers who were taking a boat up to San Carlos to see if they could find anything “green” to buy to supplement our depleting fresh stuff. It was a small town with a few stores and restaurants. The locals here were much better dressed and obviously had jobs. The boys cruised their cars in circles around the streets as boys in all towns are want do in the weekends. The biggest issue was how to get from the dingy up onto the dock. We had anchored the big boat when it appeared that the rickety docks were full of rickety fish boats. We watched a panga and followed their example of floating to a ladder which scaled the 15 foot wall and had a rope hanging down which you could hang onto for dear life as you avoided both looking down and looking at the condition of the ladder as you climbed up it. This provided a greater challenge on the return trip as we tried to manipulate the flats of beer and bags of groceries back down which we managed to do without losing anything to the ocean, many things are lost to the ocean in this way of life. This lifestyle is not for the faint of heart and I have learned to launch myself onto a rocking dingy from the boat many times. I have found it is better to just throw your body in what you hope is the right direction without thinking about it, hesitating just prolongs the agony!!! In typical Mexican fashion the port captain of this town who is obviously more important than the one in the smaller village charged us US$10 for the privilege of anchoring in his harbour for the three hours, perhaps he will put a new ladder on the wall?? Somehow I think not!!!
Sergio appears to be going to stay in the south and there is apparently at least one more day of wind forecast so started heading the final 150 miles to Cabo with a nice spinnaker sail arriving in record time as we had a current with us and a following sea. For those of you not familiar with the speed at which one travels on these voyages, think leisurely biking along and now think 150 miles!!! Traveling day and night, watching out for the numerous local fishing boats, occasional cruise ships and tankers so as not to collide with any of the above. We do run our radar at night which is proving to be a comfort as these waters are busy.
Had a wonderful dolphin show on our way in to Cabo, they were auditioning for sea world I think and were leaping about 6 feet above the water doing back flips right in front of the boat. We applauded them enthusiastically so am sure they will do a repeat performance for others coming in.
Arrived in Cabo to find it has grown immensely since we were on our honeymoon almost 16 years ago. We have to anchor right along the beach and somehow have ended up right by the Beach Club!! I think we will move further in the morning.
I will catch a plane from there to visit the newest member of the family, Adelyn Elise, Kristen and Kyle’s baby finally arriving safely on the 15th November. Ken will stay in Cabo doing stuff on the boat for the 12 days I am gone without having to worry about my bothering him and suggesting we go and “do something”. I am sure he will miss me???

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

they are following us

Everywhere we go the fighter jets seem to be

pics from Catalina to Encinada

Santa Catalina Island to Encinada, Mexico

We are finally crossing into Mexico.
Sadly while in Dan Diego I had news of my father’s death. He had been very ill with cancer throughout his body and dementia which had got very bad very quickly. All of the family had been hoping he would not live long as his life had become really painful and confusing for him, nevertheless when it finally happened it was very upsetting, being so far away made it very difficult. At least we had had a good visit in January and I had known then that I would not see him again as it was obvious that he was very ill. Kristen Kyle and baby are going to visit my mother in Jan and Feb so we will fly over in April or May to give her something else to look forward to.
The happier family event of consequence, the birth of Kristen and Kyle’s baby has not happened yet. It is due tomorrow but appears to be in no hurry. I am flying back to see the new grandbaby on the 22nd of November from Cabo San Lucas so I hope I will not be dealing with a hormonal 91/2 month pregnant daughter.
Our trip in Southern California has been enjoyable, it is certainly easy to see why everyone flocks here, the climate and lifestyle are easy(if you are amongst the lucky rich).
We met Jenny, my high school friend in Santa Catalina Island and had a great visit with her. Catalina Island is a desert like island with every bay filled with mooring buoys as it is the closest place for LA cruisers to visit. The town of Avalon is a cutesy touristy village; we arrived for the jazz festival so enjoyed the great music sitting in the sun overlooking the bay—not too hard to take. The restaurants are great and as is the case in all of this area Mexican flavour prevails. We enjoyed the people watching as everything is very “Californian” with great looking young people and lots of botox and hairdos on those who wish to remain young looking. Note the Elvis lookalike in the pics.
Everything here is larger than life and although we have loved it the opulence on the coast is a little overwhelming—a starter home was listed for $800,000. I think the younger people and Mexicans who tend to all of the rich live inland further and I am sure their life is quite different. I think George W’s idea to keep the illegal Mexicans out would sorely decrease the standard of living enjoyed by the rich.
We sailed to Newport Beach with Jenny who had a car and took us to Trader Joes which is the local supermarket with amazing prices. Two buck chuck is their trademark wine at $1.99 a bottle. Although it is not great it makes good Sangria which has become a staple on our boat. There are many other cheap wines available and Rosemont Shiraz which I remember paying $16 a bottle was on for $5.99 and 10% discount if you are buying 6 bottles of wine. We now feel anything over $7 is to be saved for a special occasion.
We spent the next few days biking along Newport Beach, another trendy coastal city. Lots of palm trees and bougainvillea and the lovely gardens are indeed beautiful.
Then down to Dana Point for a night and on to San Diego where we were to meet up with Judy from Calgary and see her very large new boat (55ft Tayana). It was great to see her again and we had time to catch up on everything Calgary. We toured Old Town in San Diego with her enjoying all of the colourful pre Halloween Mexican traditions there.
The rest of our time in San Diego was spent touring the city, went on the aircraft carrier Midway which was in commission from 1945 to 2002. It has been made into a museum and it was amazing to see the size of it and the evolution of aircraft flown from her from the second word war to Vietnam to Desert Storm. It was absolutely huge having a crew of 5000 at any one time. We also rented a car for a day and did the “Costco, Trader Joes thing” stocking up with our favorite foodstuffs, wine, batteries, printer ink and an external antenna to pick up wi fi on our laptop. Got more spare boat parts so feel that perhaps the last of the big money spending days are over and we are stocked for a while and can spend less time shopping. We were fortunate to meet a retired doctor, who with his wife very generously took us on a sight seeing tour of the city. Drove up to La Hoja which is amongst the most expensive areas in the US—I think everywhere we went seemed to qualify!!
San Diego was another “cruising groupy port”. The police docks are available for 10 nights at $10 a night for the first 5 nights and $20 for the rest including water and power hookup so everyone ties up at the dock to do their last minute provisioning. It is a chance to meet up again with those boats we had been traveling on and off with since Canada, whom we will probably meet up with again on our Mexico voyage. The disconcerting thing sailing in this area is that it is a huge naval port and the VHF radio is constantly being used by “warship one to warship 90” and they are requesting that all other boats keep out of their way. We certainly did our best, somehow “naval vessel one” is less threatening than “warship one” as a call sign but I assume that is the point.
We leave for Mexico having enjoyed our US sector but are ready to go back to reality. It makes you appreciate the Canadian values and I have to admit that if only there were a few palm trees and bougainvillea on the Gulf Islands they would surpass in scenic beauty anywhere else we have sailed. The fallacy that everywhere else has great winds for sailing has been proven to be untrue and the bane of all of us down here is that perhaps we should be traveling on a trawler!!!
We are enjoying the lifestyle and have decided to take one more year in the America’s. Len and Shirley have agreed to one more year in Saltspring so we will go slower on this sector and travel to Costa Rica, Panama and Ecuador and will leave the boat in Ecuador and travel in Peru, hopefully to see Machu Pichu and other parts of South America before heading across to the South Pacific March 2008