Wednesday, November 26, 2014


November 17, 2014

Once again, I got up early to run.  This time, I ran nearly three miles before heading for the showers.  I stopped to check my email for responses regarding my apartment search, but hadn’t heard from anyone.  Just about the time I finished my morning coffee, my phone started to ring.  The owner of the apartment building got back to me.  He seemed to consider three and a half months long term enough and was eager to show me his available places.  We agreed to meet at 17:00.  

Don and I flipped the dinghy over and soaped it down in search of the leak in one of the pontoons.  We had assumed it would be the valve or one of the seams leaking, but they all seemed OK.  Finally, we soaped down the whole pontoon and, though I never did see any bubbles, I could hear the leak.  It turned out to be a tiny pinhole in the fabric.  We pulled out the patch kit and glued a patch over the hole.  Later, we visited the owners of Deborah Rae, who were getting ready to return to Southern California until January and wanted to give us some of the fish they had caught.  We received a nice filet of dorado and some wahoo steaks.

Back at the boat, I got a text from the owners of the other possible rental, wanting me to come over and see it ASAP.  The house was right in town, close to the bus stop.  When I rang the bell, I was surprised to learn that the owners were a couple I had met the previous year when they had been partners in the Gecko Rojo.  They had a big house with three upstairs rooms that they rented.  Their nightly rate was $40, but they agreed to a rate of 6000 pesos (about $462) a month for the 3.5 months of my stay.  The room was large and airy, had a private bath, and a small outdoor kitchen.  The rent included house privileges, utilities, and internet.  There was a large shady yard and a rooftop patio.  I liked them and liked the idea of living in a house where everyone I knew in La Cruz would be coming and going, but wanted to see the other apartments before making a commitment.  While Greg and Jen assured me that beds could be found if I had guests, I still liked the idea of having two bedrooms.

Exotic Point Condominiums
At 17:00, I picked Kathy up at the beach club and we climbed up the hill to look at the apartments.  The Exotic Point complex was at the top of a hill overlooking La Cruz.  Getting there involved climbing a few blocks up a steep cobblestoned street.  The owner’s son, with whom I had spoken, had told me that it was below the big white cross, but there were two big white crosses, so it took us a few minutes to determine where to go.  When we finally got there, we were greeted by the caretaker, Benito.  The first apartment that we looked at was at the bottom of a long flight of stairs and was so large that I mistook the kitchen and living area for a common area.  The ad in Craigslist had said the two bedrooms were something like 325 square feet, but they were closer to 325 square meters.  The first one we looked at was nice, but the second one he showed us was really spectacular.  It had two large bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms and a huge kitchen/living area.  The living area had lovely murals and was completely fronted by opening plate glass windows that offered a view of the entire Banderas Bay.  A built in circular banquette faced the windows.  At 8000 pesos per month (less than $600) it was a steal.  We also looked at the studios and one bedrooms, which were nice and somewhat cheaper, but nowhere near the value of the two bedrooms.  I decided to take the second two bedroom apartment.

View from My Apartment
The owner didn’t require a deposit, but wanted me to pay 50% of the season’s rental as a deposit and the rest upon move in.  I didn’t have that much on me and explained that I could only get about 7000 pesos per day out of the ATM.  I gave him the 2600 pesos that I had and promised to hoard as much cash as I could over the few days before I could move in.  We agreed that I would move in on Thursday.

Kathy and I were in a celebratory mood as we walked down the hill.  The owner of La Glorieta de Enrique (a restaurant) had invited me inside every time I passed last year and commenced doing so, again, when I returned.  This time we decided to stop in for at least a drink.  Enrique tempted us with the idea of coconut shrimp with mango salsa and we ordered what we thought would be an appetizer and turned out to be enough food to make dinner for both of us.  The prawns (too big to be called mere shrimp) were about five inches long and we got five of them.  They came served with rice, salad, and a baked potato.  I had a beer and Kathy ordered a margarita that, even with my assistance, she was unable to finish.  By the time we dragged ourselves back to the boat, cooking a full dinner was out of the question.  I made some guacamole and Don had chips and guac for dinner.  We all retired early.

November 18, 2014

Our mission for the day was to get a temporary import permit for Don’s boat.  We went into Puerto Vallarta to visit Banjercito, the naval bank that issues the permits and collects the fees.  Kathy decided to come along and visit her timeshare further down the coast to take care of some business there.  We took the bus into town.  Our stop came up rather unexpectedly, so we made a quick plan to meet at the entrance to Marina Vallarta at 17:00 unless Kathy texted us with a different plan and Don and I hopped off the bus.  We got off too soon, but didn’t walk nearly as far as Scott and I had, last year, before I realized we were in the wrong place.  We got on another bus and managed to disembark directly in front of our destination the second time.

Getting a temporary import permit (TIP) for your boat is the worst hassle about cruising in Mexico.  You are supposed to get it before you arrive and can supposedly do it online, but I don’t know anyone who has ever succeeded in doing so.  They keep changing the requirements and always seem to need some additional document.  The offices where they can be obtained are few and far between and there isn’t one in Cabo.  The previous year, Scott and I had obtained ours in Puerto Vallarta just the day before SAT (the Mexican IRS) agents stormed the marina and impounded all the boats without valid TIPs.

Banjercito in Puerto Vallarta

We arrived at Banjercito just after noon and soon learned that we would need a copy of the invoice for the dinghy or dinghy registration in order to get the TIP.  At first, we were stumped.  We had the packing list, but that was not acceptable.  Don’s new dinghy had never been registered in California, so we couldn’t go that route.  We had an order confirmation in an old email on Don’s tablet, but they wouldn’t take that, either.  They had to have an invoice, which Don had never received.  We retreated to the shopping mall across the street to get something to eat and think while enjoying the air conditioning.  While we ate tacos, I emailed Defender, where Don had purchased the dinghy, and they miraculously responded with a copy of the invoice before we finished lunch.  Fortunately, I knew where to find the internet café around the corner because we had had to go there to use the copy machine the previous year.  We printed out a copy of the invoice and headed back to Banjercito. 

It was about 14:00 when we got back.  The clerk was satisfied with our paperwork and set about entering all the information into her system.  The system kept crashing and it took her four or five tries to get to the stage of printing the actual TIP.  TIPs are holographic and printing them is a two-step process.  The clerk had no trouble with the first step which just involved feeding the form through a normal printer, but had terrible difficulty with the holographic printer.  She just couldn’t get it to work.  We waited for two hours while she called her IT department and grappled with the equipment.  The security guard locked the door and drew the curtains.  All of the other customers left and we were still there.  We were afraid we would have to come back another day, but about 16:15 she finally managed to get it to work.  We completed the process, Don paid the fee, and we just had enough time to take a bus down to Zaragoza Marine to do our shopping before meeting Kathy at 17:00.

Zaragoza Marina is a huge store and has a marvelous selection of boating parts and supplies, fishing gear, and water sport equipment.  Don needed some snaps to replace the cheesy ones we bought in Cabo that deformed when we installed them.  It took some digging on the part of the clerk, but he eventually found some nice stainless ones.  I picked up the gallon of teak oil that Scott had requested I buy for Fool’s Castle and some teak cleaner for good measure.  I had withdrawn 7,000 pesos from the ATM at Banjercito, but wanted to try to get some more.  While Don waited for Kathy, I tried a couple of different banks, but the network seemed to be down.  When I got back at 17:10, Kathy still hadn’t arrived.  The battery on my phone had died, so we didn’t know if Kathy had tried to text or not.  Someone had called me earlier in the day but, when I called the number, no one knew a Kathy Smith.  My voicemail was not set up, so I couldn’t access any messages she might have left.  We waited until 17:45 and then decided she must have gone home without us.  We took the bus back to La Cruz.

Kathy was not at the boat when we returned, but her phone was charging on the chart table.  I plugged in my phone and, after it charged for a few minutes, could see that someone had called again from the same number.  I compared the number to the listing of resorts and determined that the call had come from Kathy’s timeshare but, when I tried to call again, they still had no idea how to find her, since she wasn’t a guest there.  Apparently, there was a large 35th anniversary party going on.  Don and I hoped that Kathy had just decided to stay for the party and would try to call later.  We heated up some chili for dinner, since the fish I had planned to cook was frozen solid, and settled in for a quiet evening.  Kathy finally returned about 11:00, having stayed for the party and then taken the bus back.

November 19, 2014

Front View of Exotic Point Condos
I needed to get more cash, so I got up and set off to the Santander bank in Nuevo Vallarta.  Unfortunately, when I got there, I was still unable to withdraw money.  I had an appointment to meet with my new landlord at noon.  I had hoped to have more cash to give him, but went up there with the 7,000 pesos I had.  Jorge, the owner, was much more understanding than his son had led me to believe he would be.  

Figuring that maybe I could only withdraw cash once in a 24 hour period, I stopped in a little roadside restaurant for a bowl of meatball soup before walking up to the Oxxo (convenience store) on the edge of town to try the ATM there.  That ATM would only give me 2000 pesos at a time, so I didn’t want to waste what might be my only opportunity for such a small amount.  I got on a bus and went up to the Mega in Mezcales where there were a couple of banks.  None of them would give me money from my Bank of America account.  It dawned on me, while I was there, that I also had a Citibank account, but had left my Citibank ATM card at the boat with my US dollars and other stuff I never use in Mexico.  In desperation, I withdrew 7000 pesos using my credit card.  Then I hurried back to the boat to say goodbye to Kathy, who was flying out that afternoon.

It seemed like I barely had time to walk Kathy up to the bus stop and talk to my bank about unfreezing my ATM card before it was time to head up to the Gecko Rojo for Wednesday night Mexican train dominoes.  I knew about half of the players from last year, but things had gotten serious and they were now playing for money.  This left me in a pickle, since I had a severe shortage of cash.  After I lost the first round, Mike from PV Sailing had to lend me 10 pesos so I could stay in the game.  It was fun to see folks, but the game broke up early because Mike and Katrina had to get back to the marina for the pre-opening party at Frascati, an Italian restaurant that used to be on the circle at the entrance to town, but had just moved to the location upstairs at the marina.  I had some fish to cook at Don’s boat, so took the opportunity to duck out and return to the boat.  I made a salad and fried the last yam.  We barbecued the wahoo that our neighbors had given us.  We had thought about going out to hear some music after dinner, but neither of us was that motivated.  We stayed in and watched a bootleg copy of Interstellar that Don had picked up from the video vendor near the bus stop.  It was a terrible copy and it was often hard to tell what was going on.  It seemed like a good movie, despite being three hours long.  I barely managed to stay awake until the end.

November 20, 2014

Interior of My Apartment
With Kathy’s stuff out of the boat, it seemed very spacious in there.  I got up and started packing.  My next task was to return to the Santander bank to get more cash for my landlord.  This time, I remembered to take both ATM cards, so was able to get 14,000 pesos.  When I returned with the money, Don and I loaded all my belongings into a dock cart, wheeled them up to the parking lot and called a cab.  Don came along to help me move stuff.  After he left, I unpacked and put stuff away.  I walked down the hill to the local market and bought a few food items and some cleaning supplies.  I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning. The place looked tidy when I moved in, but was actually fairly dirty.  Soon it was time to return to the marina for movie night.

November 21, 2014

The sun really shone into my apartment in the morning.  The bedrooms were screened from all that brilliance, but it was rather shocking once I wandered out into the main living area.  I had volunteered to help John, a blind skipper, move his boat from Paradise Village to La Cruz and was due to meet by fellow volunteers at the marina at 9:30.  I walked down there and met the guys at the dock.  Then we walked up to the bus stop and took a bus to the Sam’s Club in Nuevo Vallarta where we were able to catch another bus to take us to Paradise Village.

John had a very nice Ericson 34 and it was a beautiful day, although there wasn’t enough wind to actually sail.  We motored across the bay to La Cruz and visited the fuel dock before delivering John to his slip.  It was amazing to see how well John was able to get around his boat and up and down docks without being able to see.  It scared the heck out of me when he hopped off the boat onto the dock when we arrived, but all went smoothly.  The whole process was completed before noon.  Since John’s slip was on the same dock as Comet, I stopped in to say hello to Don.  Then I decided to take advantage of my free afternoon to take another bus trip to the Mega for groceries and household items.

The Daunting Hill
I didn’t mean to purchase more than I could carry up the hill, but I started coming down with a cold while I was at the Mega and knew that I wouldn’t be up to carrying anything up the hill, anyway, so I bought most of what I needed and then took a cab back up the hill.  My place was nominally furnished, but lacked much in the way of dishes, cooking utensils or towels.  I bought some cheap items that I wouldn’t mind abandoning at the end of the season.  I was feeling pretty sick and had a terrible sore throat by the time I got home.  It was all I could do to put everything away.  I made a pot of hot Tang and retired to the couch.  I planned to sleep there all night, (The couch is much more comfortable than the bed.) but the neighbors were having a loud party that lasted literally all night and they finally drove me into the quieter bedroom about three in the morning.

November 22, 2014

Being sick and not having slept well the previous night, I slept late.  My throat was killing me.  Eventually, I got up and walked down the hill to the farmacia to get some aspirin and throat lozenges.  I picked up my laundry from Sonja on the way back.  Visiting with Sonja was always enjoyable.  She was usually eager to converse with me in Spanish and I got caught up on all the gossip from the marina.  Climbing back up the hill with my laundry took what little energy I had and I spent several hours napping and lounging on the couch.

I would have been content to stay right there on the couch, but there was a big party at PV Sailing at 16:00 and everybody was going to be there.  I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to meet people, so I hauled myself over there.  There were cheap beer and delicious fish tacos and a big crowd of sailors and marine purveyors.  I met a couple of my neighbors from Monte Calvario (the name of my street and the hill on which I live) and got filled in on the upcoming social calendar.  Don arrived fashionably late.  We stayed until the party started to wind down and then walked through the darkening town to the grocery store.  Don picked up a few groceries and I bought a broom and dustpan so that I could do battle with the alarming quantity of dead gnats accumulating on my apartment floor.  We parted there, agreeing to meet at the farmers’ market the following day.

November 23, 2014

Still not feeling too well, I slept and lounged in bed until 11:00.  I got up and decided to sweep the floor.  When I moved in, I was concerned about the lack of screens on the windows because I feared that mosquitoes would get in.  Mosquitoes weren’t a problem, but gnats were.  They weren’t bothersome while living, but died in droves, littering the white and light blue tiles and window ledges.  After two days, the place looked like it hadn’t been cleaned for a year.  I had to sweep the kitchen floor twice a day.  Three quarters of the way through the project, I realized that I had been supposed to meet Don at the farmers’ market.  I finished the floor, grabbed a quick breakfast, and headed out the door about 12:15.

My first stop was the smaller market in the plaza.  There had been a nut vendor there that I had frequented the previous year and I was happy to see him again because it is hard to find good almonds in Mexico.  I bought half a pound and he insisted on giving me a handful of candied pecans, which were delightful and way too tempting to ever buy any.  The woman selling tamales was there, too, and I bought several.  

The farmers’ market was still going when I got there, although not as busy as it had been the previous week when we got there earlier.  I bought a t-shirt for my friend, Cynthia, and strolled along, keeping an eye out for Don, until I came across a poster for my favorite band, Luna Rumba, at a stall selling coffee.  I had just started talking to the vendor, a gringo I recognized from last year, when Don came up behind me and startled me.  He distracted me, but not before I learned that Luna Rumba would be playing five concerts at Philo’s over the course of the season.  They must have been doing well because, instead of playing free shows every Wednesday night, they were now selling tickets for 100 pesos.  I was dismayed to discover that I would be in Chiapas during their first show and would have to wait until late January to see them (at least at Philo’s.)
Band Playing at the Farmers' Market

Don and I strolled out to the point and bought some cool juice.  There was a fun mambo band playing and we enjoyed the music, especially the horn section, in my case.  Don wanted to see the vendors in the park, so we stopped back by there on the way to Don’s boat.    I was starting to flag, but needed to pick up the jar of coffee I had left on the boat.  I collected the coffee and lounged in the cockpit until I collected enough energy to make it back up the hill.  Returning home, I camped on the couch and pretty much remained there until the following morning.

Monday, November 24, 2014


November 11, 2014

Cabo Marina
The weather was still unsettled on Tuesday, so we decided to remain one more day in Cabo.  I took advantage of the time to shop for a new pair of headphones.  While walking through the mall, I happened upon a toy store where I managed to purchase the last available set of Mexican Train dominoes.  I had been searching for them since the previous December, so was well satisfied, although the last thing I really needed was a five pound domino set to add to my already voluminous luggage.  Eventually, I found a pair of headphones at a farmacia.  Then I went to Starbucks and posted the first blog post I had made since starting my journey.  Unfortunately, I had forgotton my camera, so could only get as far as Bahia Santa Maria.

When I came back, we had an early dinner of tostadas and then Kathy stayed behind to sew while Don and I set off to walk to Walmart in the cool of the evening.  It grew dark as we walked and what started as an easy stroll along the sidewalk, eventually morphed into a hair-raising walk along the verge of a dark freeway.  We did eventually make it to the Walmart, however.  We stocked up on beverages and fresh produce and then took a cab back to the boat.  We retired early, planning to get up at first light to leave for La Cruz.

November 12, 2014

Wednesday morning, all the boats planning to head for Banderas Bay finally paraded out of the Cabo marina to start the nearly 300 mile passage.  We motored for the first few hours to charge the batteries and run the water maker, but switched to sail when the wind came up and sailed all day and into the evening.  Though we had expected wind on the nose, we were able to sail on a close reach.  The day was nearly perfect, with points of light sparkling off the wavelets like diamonds.  

Cabo in the Rear View Mirror
Thunderheads in the Distance
We made good time, rotating through our watches.  The sport fisher in the slip next to us in                                                                                                                                                             the Cabo marina (We were the only sail-boat in that section of the marina.) had given us a couple of dorado filets and I sautéed them in garlic for dinner and we ate them with cabbage and couscous.  While there were massive clouds all around us, the weather stayed fine all night, although the wind died and we had to start the engine about 9:00 pm.

November 13, 2014

Thursday was another day of perfect weather.  The wind was a bit light for sailing and mostly on the nose, anyway, but the seas had calmed and we motored along easily.  We all caught up on sleep when we weren’t on watch and Kathy did a bit more sewing.  We could hear the other Ha-Ha boats talking on the radio around us.  As evening approached, we dodged a few squalls.  I made chicken cutlets and mashed yams for dinner.  Kathy had some impressive lightning on her watch, but I slept through the whole thing.  When it got dark, we could see the lights on the Marias more than twenty miles in the distance.

Sunrise on the Way to La Cruz
November 14, 2014

I came on watch at 4:00 am as we neared Banderas Bay.  I slowed the motor a bit so as not to have to thread my way between Punta Mita and the Marietas in the dark.  The sun rose over the mountains behind Puerto Vallarta just as I had remembered it, eclipsing ever other sunrise on this journey.  Gradually, I made out the Marietas and headed for the center of the channel.  I woke Don so that he could witness our entrance to Banderas Bay.  Kathy came up at what would have been 8:00 if we hadn’t sailed into a new time zone, making it 9:00 local time.  I saw a whale blow three times and then breach and then we saw a pod of dolphins following us in.  The last vestiges of the tropical storm had passed and it was a gorgeous morning.  We entered Marina La Cruz at 10:15 in the morning and took a slip for a few days.

The Marietas
Entrance to Paradise
                   After washing the boat and ourselves, Don and I took a walk around the marina to the port captain’s office and checked in.  Kathy stayed behind to try to finish sewing the trim on the dodger.  When we returned, she was ready for a break, so we repaired to the nearest palapa bar for drinks and appetizers.  It truly felt like we had landed in paradise.

November 15, 2014

Don at the La Cruz Marina
We had stayed up quite late on our first night in La Cruz, so I rose late.  It was wonderful to be able to wander up to the office and use the lovely showers, revel in the air conditioning, and connect to the internet.  In the afternoon, Kathy repaired once again to the Eva Mandarina Beach Club, which was still under construction when I was in La Cruz last year, and Don and I went for a walk around La Cruz so I could show him what was there.  Unfortunately, my favorite restaurant was abandoned and Ya-Ya’s Café had burned down, but there were also a few new places that has sprung up in my absence.  The town seemed unexpectedly sleepy, but everyone was expecting a busy season because of the hurricane in Cabo and violence in Acapulco.
Bar at Eva Mandarina Beach Club
After it cooled off, Kathy sewed on the dodger until it got dark and then we all set off for town to seek out some street tacos.  It was still rather early, so we stopped into the Gecko Rojo for a couple of drinks first.  Several sidewalk eateries spring up after dark in La Cruz, dragging a barbecue and a few resin tables out onto the sidewalk and/or street and serving food al fresco.  We had carne asada and beef adobo tacos.  Dinner for three cost us 75 pesos (about $5.75) in stark contrast to the beach bar where one margarita cost 85 pesos, although the ambiance was wonderful.  We chatted with a local fisherman at the next table who wanted to make sure that we didn’t miss the Sunday farmers’ market the next morning.

November 16, 2014

Kathy at the Farmer's Market in La Cruz
Feeling that I had been entirely too lazy the day before, I got up before dawn to run in the cool darkness.  I ran the 2+ miles from one end of the marina to the other and back and then repaired to the office for a shower and to use the internet to compose a blog post.  Kathy also got up early to finish the sewing on the dodger before it got hot.  I worked on my blog until Don and Kathy were ready to go to the farmers’ market. 

The Sunday farmers’ market in La Cruz doesn’t offer much in the way of produce, but offers every other kind of food imaginable and lots of clothing and crafts vendors.  They had a good band playing classic rock and Latin hits.  The singer did a passable Paul McCartney imitation.  Kathy bought a variety of berries and a small picture made of colored straw.  She and Don shared a chorizo sandwich and I had a spinach and cheese empanada.  We all shared a yeasty roll dripping in sugary frosting and drank fresh juices.  I had a refreshing glass of kiwi, cucumber and lemon juice that really hit the spot.  We ate, drank and listened to the band for a while before heading off to catch a bus to Bucerias to find an ATM.

Beach Bar in Bucerias
We disembarked from the bus near the center of Bucerias and gave Don a quick tour of the plaza, market and beach before stomping off in search of the bank.  We actually had to walk almost all the way to Mezcales to find an ATM, but there were a few up that way.  It was hot, but interesting to see parts of Bucerias I had never explored before.  We got our pesos and then caught a bus back to La Cruz.  Of course we were hot after our exertions, so we stopped at the Gecko Rojo for a drink to cool down.

I spent part of the afternoon perusing various websites and sending emails to landlords, looking for a place to live.  There were a lot of B&Bs and luxury condos for rent in the $100+ per night range.  Long term rentals were much cheaper, but I wasn’t planning to stay the requisite 6 months or one year.  I wrote to the few options available.  I got negative responses from a few that were already rented, leaving me with just two possibilities to pursue.  One was as apartment building on the hill overlooking town that had a variety of places from studios at 5500 pesos ($425) per month to two bedrooms for 8000 pesos ($615.)  The other was a home that rented rooms and looked lovely, although the stated rate was $40/night.

Kathy and I strolled over to the beach club for banana daiquiris and passed a couple of pleasant hours hanging out there.  We were all hungry by the time we returned to the boat, so I whipped up some salad and quesadillas from leftover chicken cutlets and veggies and we had a light dinner.  I napped for a couple of hours after dinner.  (Kathy had taught the bartender at the beach club how to make daiquiris and he used a LOT of rum.)  I woke up just long enough to make a trip to the restroom and chat with Scott for a few minutes before retiring.  By the time I got back, Don and Kathy were already asleep.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


November 6, 2014

Punta Tosca
Everyone’s phones were charging on the chart table next to my head, so I was the only one awakened when the alarms went off at 06:00.  (From here on out, I will be using a 24 hour clock per a reader's request.)  The radio came to life shortly thereafter.  Boats barely had a chance to check in before the official start of 07:00.  We lifted our anchor by 06:45 and motored out of the bay with the rest of the fleet.  Winds were light, so nearly everyone ran their engines so as to make some progress.  We motored out of the bay and along the rocky spine of peaks between Mag Bay and the Pacific.  Almost no vegetation grew on the mountains, but the rocks varied in color from grey to white to red.  The landscape looked almost lunar except for the very blue water.  The fleet kept closer together on this leg than previously and we had boats around us all day.

Don and Kathy saw three whales just after noon, but they had sounded before I could get out of bed to see them.  The skies were finally clear of clouds and the weather was perfect.  I rested until early afternoon and then came up to enjoy the sunshine.  The wind increased and we killed the motor and sailed along, listening to music and enjoying the scenery.  We passed the mouth of Mag Bay and gradually made our way to Punta Tosca.  From there, the coast curved away to the east and we were out of sight of land.  I came back on watch at 16:00 and really enjoyed sailing until it was time to make dinner.  Dinner was stuffed acorn squash so, once they were assembled and popped in the oven, I was free to return to the helm until they were done.  The evening was so balmy that I stayed up for an hour or so after my watch was done just to enjoy the full moonlight.
Full Moon Rising

Richard had informed us of the results of the election and I found it truly depressing that the Republicans had taken control of both houses of congress.  I suppose it will now be the Democrats’ turn to block all proposed legislation, but I fear for the rights of women and am heartily glad that I am no longer of reproductive age.  A large part of me doesn’t want to return to the United States, but I have yet to find a stable place to move my assets. (Not that I don’t worry that the United States isn’t stable, any longer, either.)

November 7, 2014

Sunrise on the Way to Cabo
What little wind we had had died the previous night and we motored most of the way to Cabo San Lucas.  The weather was finally clear and warm.  Even on my 4 am watch, I didn’t need my jacket.  The sunrise was gorgeous.  I stayed up after my watch to drink a cup of coffee and then went below to read, but fell asleep and didn’t wake up until we were rounding the corner into Cabo San Lucas.  A giant cruise ship half filled the bay.  We thought about stopping for fuel, but decided that the fuel dock would be mobbed with arriving boats and instead headed for the anchorage.

Coming into Cabo San Lucas
The Arch at Cabo
Don's Diving Form
The anchorage in Cabo has a fabulous view of the arches and the sandy beach lined with hotels.  We anchored in about 25 feet of water so clear that we could see the bottom.  The only downside was that the anchorage was rather rolly.  We spent the afternoon lounging on the boat and then called a panga and headed in to shore just before dark.  We walked over to Squid Roe to have dinner before the Ha-Ha party started.  Squid Roe hadn’t suffered from Hurricane Odile, but the club next door had been heavily damaged and was still under construction.  Hurricane damage was visible everywhere.  Traffic lights hung at strange angles and construction workers were making repairs even on a Friday night. 

Party at Squid Roe
Ha-Ha participants kept trickling in until, by 8:00, Squid Roe was packed with dancing, drinking sailors.  It looked like a scene from “Seniors Gone Wild.”  The Ha-Ha class of 2014-2015 hadn’t been big partyers, but they made up for lost time.  It would have been a lot of fun to stay, but the deafening music finally drove us out.  Fortunately, we were able to find a water taxi to take us back to our boat.

November 8, 2014

We wanted to get our grocery shopping done before the beach party started at noon.  The swells in the anchorage were quite large, making the transfer from the boat to the panga challenging.  Fortunately, it wasn’t a long walk from the dinghy dock to the grocery store.  The store had only a limited amount of fresh meat and produce.  Chicken was the only available meat and we were only able to obtain a couple of tomatoes and some bananas.  They did have a large selection of junk food, which made Kathy happy.  She was able to stock up on Cheetos, cinnamon rolls and sodas. 

After shopping, we headed back to the boat.  Getting back on was even more challenging with several bags of groceries.  At one point, the nose of the panga slammed down onto our deck and left behind a big chunk of fiberglass.  We had to be quick to avoid getting body parts trapped between the boats.
Cabo Anchorage
It took us half an hour or so to stow our purchases and get ready to go to the beach party.  Don decided to stay with the boat.  By the time Kathy and I were ready to go, we couldn’t find a water taxi anywhere.  After at least a half an hour of fruitless waving at every passing panga, the driver of a glass bottomed boat took pity on us and picked us up.  His other passengers were entertained as we leaped down onto the deck of the furiously heaving panga and then tumbled out onto the beach in front of the restaurant where the party was being held.  The Ha-Ha usually holds their Cabo beach parties at the Baja Cantina on the beach but, because we had been delayed by the weather, they couldn’t accommodate us because they had a wedding reception happening.  The party was moved next door to the Mango Deck, which turned out to be very loud.  They were running a competing program of entertainment that Richard said made one want to swear off sex and drinking for at least a month.  We couldn’t hear what prizes were being awarded, but had a good time talking with crew from a couple of other boats and eating a tasty lunch.  We stayed until it started to get dark and then grabbed a water taxi back to the boat before we got stranded again, once again making a death-defying leap from the bucking panga to Comet’s deck.

The boat rocked and rolled all night.  None of us slept well but, fortunately, none of us got sick, either.  I gave up on sleeping and read from two to four in the morning and Don was up, also.

November 9, 2014

Comet in Cabo Marina
We got up, ready to take off for Puerto Vallarta and get out of that rocking anchorage.  Before we were even completely awake, Richard came on the radio to tell everyone that a tropical storm was headed straight for Puerto Vallarta and that we shouldn’t leave for at least two days.  This was disappointing, although I was secretly glad to have another couple of days in Cabo because I wanted to see Carlos, our crew member from the previous year, who lived in town.  We had had it with being stuck in the boat, rolling constantly and having to pay $5 each way every time we wanted to go to shore.  We decided to try to move into the marina.  We called the marina office, but they said they were closed on Sunday and couldn’t help us.  We knew boats were leaving, so decided to head in, buy fuel, and try to talk to security about finding a slip.  The security guard said we could come in if we could find someone willing to let us raft to them.  Kathy tried hard to find us a spot, without success.  Someone told us that the office had decided to open because of all the Ha-Ha boats trying to check in and out, so Kathy called again and was told to call back at noon.  Since it was only 11 am, we decided to putt around the harbor for a bit.  When we reached the end of the marina where the office was located, they saw us coming and sent a boat out to direct us to a slip.  We tied up at 11:20 and our escort even hauled away our accumulated garbage.  We were very happy.

Hurricane Damage in Cabo
Kathy was tired and wanted to catch up on sleep, but Don and I headed out to locate the Telcel store so that I could get a Mexican cellphone and he could get a SIM card for his tablet.  After walking for several blocks, we finally located the main Telcel branch for Cabo San Lucas.  Cabo was eerily devoid of tourists and the neighborhood seemed deserted on a Sunday afternoon, but the Telcel store was crowded.  We waited in line for over an hour, but I finally managed to purchase a basic cellphone for about $25.  For another 200 pesos, I got 200 minutes.  I could also call the U.S. for 2 pesos (about 15 cents) per minute.  Don got a SIM card for about $6 and then got 3 gigabytes of data for 399 pesos.  We left, feeling very satisfied with ourselves, and repaired to a local taqueria where we each got two tacos and a couple of draft beers for a whopping total of $14, which is about what one lunch entrée cost at the Mango Deck.  It really pays to walk a couple of blocks inland to find a restaurant if you want to save money.

George, the Resident Sea Lion
Kathy was still sleeping when we returned to the boat.  I read and Don played with his tablet until Kathy woke up and we went up to the Baja Cantina for dinner.  We hoped to meet other Ha-Ha participants there, but it was late for dinner and very quiet.  We did have a lovely dinner.  The evening was balmy and perfect for a stroll around the marina.  The vendors along the marina walkway had been hit hard by the hurricane and few were operating.  There was almost no one out.  I remembered the previous year when the area was thronged with tourists.  Large sections of dock had been destroyed.  Some of the Ha-Ha boats were moored to pilings without docks and had to use their dinghies to get to shore.  We were very content to be safely inside a still marina, even if our dock was inhabited by a large sea lion named George, who often waddled around the dock and barked at passers by.

November 10, 2014

Having decided to remain in Cabo for another couple of days, we could no longer avoid checking in there.  Don and I got up and, after stopping at the marina office to get the weather forecast (a firm “wait and see”), we headed off to Immigration.  The crews of several other boats were there before us and we all chatted amiably while we filled out forms and went back and forth with the officials until everyone’s paperwork was in order.  Fortunately, we had plenty of copies of everything we needed and the Immigration office was kind enough to supply us with a crew list form and then to make a couple of copies so that we would have three copies for the Port Captain.

Port Captain's Office Was a Bit Worse for Wear
Scott and I had had a devil of a time locating the Port Captain’s office the previous year, but Don and I managed to walk straight there from Immigration.  The Port Captain’s office was a bit worse for wear after the hurricane and most of the houses along the way looked pretty down at heels.  Fences and gates leaned at crazy angles and vegetation looked ragged.  We filled out our forms and then had to make a four block detour to a bank to pay our port tax before returning to the Port Captain’s office to complete our check-in process.  We also checked out at the same time.  The Port Captain was not issuing zarpes (exit documents.)  For the duration of the Ha-Ha, he just had a log book where we entered our boat information and check-out date.  We managed to complete the entire process in about three hours.

Kathy Working on the Dodger
Our next mission for the day was to complete the dodger that we had been working on since before we left Marina del Rey.  We took it off the frame.  Don produced a hot knife and Kathy held the seams taut while I melted the edge of the fabric to prevent them from raveling.  There were several layers of fabric in many seams and none of them seemed to be the same length, so we had to go over each seam multiple times.  It took us a couple of hours to complete the task and we melted the duct tape holding the battered hot knife together before we were done.  Next, we dragged Don away from his tablet and installed the remaining snaps on the dodger.  We finished just before Carlos arrived to meet us for dinner.

We all piled into Carlos’ SUV dubbed “the Zombie” because it had been killed several times (was struck by lightning), but kept coming back to life.  He drove us to a local taco joint where we had delicious tacos with all the fixings.  Carlos and I got a chance to catch up on all that we had done in the past year and he regaled us all with stories of the hurricane and its aftermath.  Carlos, who normally works in tourism, was temporarily working in construction, helping to rebuild homes after the hurricane.  It was great to see him again and he promised to visit me again in La Cruz, as he was headed there to visit his other Ha-Ha friends later in the season.

Back at the boat, a downpour sent us scrambling to determine the source of the leaks that sent water dripping onto the head of my bunk.  When we removed the dodger, we had left screw holes in the fiberglass that allowed water in between the deck and the head liner, which then ran along until it dripped out through holes in the headliner where a traveler had once been installed.  We eventually solved the problem by covering the holes with a tarp.  I went to bed feeling quite satisfied that we had made good use of our extra time in Cabo.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


October 22, 2014

Heading to Marina Del Rey with all my sailing gear plus enough clothes and essential food items to last until February made flying out of the question.  I took the Coast Starlight down the coast with my two big duffel bags, bedroll and daypack.  I felt like I was running away from home.  Scott dropped me off at the station in Martinez and the train left about 7:30 am.  Having spent the ten days or so prior to departure madly trying to complete projects around the house, it was nice to spend a leisurely day reading on the train.  We made good time, at first, and it looked like we were going to be early.  Then we sat on a siding in central California for an hour, waiting for the northbound train to pass, so I didn’t arrive in Van Nuys until nearly 9:15 pm.
Comet Was A Bit Disorganized When I Arrived

Tom Frillman, ground crew extraordinaire, met me at the train.  We had a quick deli sandwich (the same meal I ate when I arrived in LA from Columbia two months before) and then headed down to the marina.  Despite Don’s having taken everything off the boat to clean the previous weekend, belongings, boat parts, and tools were strewn everywhere.  We could hardly walk inside or outside the boat.  We worked on the boat for a couple of hours and I finally hit the hay around one in the morning.

October 23, 2014

I had come down a day early to do the provisioning, but decided to leave that for the afternoon because the last thing we needed was more stuff in the boat.  I spent the morning cleaning and stowing Don’s old dinghy and unwrapping and inflating the new, hard bottomed dinghy he had purchased for the trip.  All of Don’s friends stopped by to help.  When afternoon came, we had cleared a small amount of space in the boat and I took Don’s car to go shopping for non-perishable items and enough fresh food to get us to San Diego.  Comet has only a small refrigerator, so we planned to put our meat in a cooler with dry ice.  We wanted to wait as long as possible before buying the meat.  By the time I got back, Tom and Kathy had arrived and Andrea was in and out helping with the shopping for non-food items.  The worrying problem was that Don had installed a new fuel tank and the fuel wasn’t getting to the engine.  Don and Tom worked on it all afternoon and evening before finally discovering that the “Y” valve to select between the new and old tanks had been installed in the wrong orientation.  We were all very relieved when the engine roared to life and ran healthily.

Kathy had been hard at work constructing a dodger for Comet, but was having trouble getting her sewing machine to punch through several layers of heavy fabric.  One of Don’s neighbors was kind enough to set up his Sailrite sewing machine on the dock and she worked on the dodger until two in the morning.  Trish stopped by to lend her support later in the evening.  I passed out around one, having slept only four or five hours the previous two nights.

October 24, 2014

We had originally planned to leave for San Diego on Friday morning.  Later we amended that time to noon.  Noon came and went and we still weren’t ready to go.  Don had pulled the stitches out of a wound on his arm while contorting himself to work on the engine and needed to make a trip to the doctor before we departed.  Kathy stayed at home, diligently working on the dodger, but John, Nancy, Andrea, Emily and Shoshana were buzzing about, running items to storage, and shopping for last minute requirements.  When it became clear that we weren’t going to make it to the fuel dock before it closed, John and I made a couple of runs to fill jerry cans with diesel so that we would have enough fuel to make it to San Diego.
Don and the Ground Crew in Marina del Rey
It took a village to get Don underway.  Everyone on the dock had followed the preparations for several days.  Don’s friends made it quite clear that I needed to take care of “their Don.”  Kathy was still sewing and hadn’t had a chance to pack.  We decided to pick her up at her boat in King Harbor on our way south.  We finally pulled away from the dock at 8:00 pm to the sound of all the neighbors blowing air horns and waving.

We received a warm welcome from Kathy’s neighbors when we arrived in King Harbor.  Kathy still hadn’t packed.  We tied up across the stern of her boat and she passed all her belongs over the bow in paper grocery bags, before finally hopping aboard herself.  More horns and barking sea lions saw us away from King Harbor.  By 11:00 pm, we were on our way. 

We kept three hour watches on our way to San Diego.  I tried, unsuccessfully, to sleep until I came on watch at 2:00 am.  My watch was uneventful, but I found it difficult to stay awake despite music and books on tape.  I thought Jules Verne’s Off on a Comet was an appropriate book to listen to during this voyage, but it began to lull me to sleep after an hour and a half.  I switched to some lively music and just managed to keep my eyes open until Kathy came on at 5:00 am.  I slept soundly from five until ten.

Don Currie on the Way to San Diego
 October 25, 2014
San Diego Bay
Despite having left late, we made six or seven knots most of the way and arrived in San Diego Bay by two in the afternoon.  We stopped at the fuel dock to fill our tanks and were safely in our slip in the Cabrillo Isle Marina by three o’clock.  We still had plenty of boat projects to do.  Kathy worked on the dodger and I gave the boat a scrub.  We all worked diligently until it got dark and then we went out for a nice dinner.

October 26, 2014

Kathy’s boss lived on his boat in the Cabrillo Isle Marina and he was kind enough to lend us his car for the early morning.  We picked the car up at 7:00 and I went grocery shopping for meat and perishables while Don and Kathy made a quick trip to Home Depot for lumber and fittings to attach boards to the stanchions so that we would have a rack to hold jerry cans.  We were back in the marina by 8:45.  Don had to go to the skipper’s meeting.  Kathy and I stayed behind.  She worked on the dodger and I spliced new polypropolene line to our man overboard pole and horseshoe buoy.  We worked until 1:00 pm and then took a taxi over to West Marine to meet Don for the Ha-Ha kickoff party.

Giants Fans at the Ha-Ha Kickoff Party
This year’s kickoff party seemed a bit subdued to me.  There were some clever costumes, but most people seemed in a hurry to get back to their boats.  We stayed long enough to eat, drink a couple of beers and buy a few siphon hoses and t-shirts and then did our shopping at West Marine and called a cab. 

We still had lots to do on the boat.  I installed new hailing port lettering on the transom and removed the Calfornia registration numbers from the bow of the boat, since Don had gotten the boat documented and it was important to have the numbers on the paperwork match the numbers on the boat before we entered Mexico.  Don worked on installing the boards.  Kathy worked on the dodger.  Once again, we worked until it got too dark to see and then I made a quick dinner and we actually relaxed for a few hours before hitting the rack.

October 27, 2014

Kathy and Don with Comet in San Diego
Don and I got up early, but we had more trouble rousing Kathy.  They wanted to get the dodger installed before we left and Don had to finish putting up the boards.  I did a few things and then helped Kathy install hardware on the dodger.  The fleet started to parade at 9:30, the marina emptied out, but we were still working.  The rally officially started at 11:00, but we were still tied up in the slip, working on the dodger.  Finally, we determined that we didn’t have enough snaps to finish installing the dodger, so we put it on with what we had and finally left the slip at 12;30.  By 12:40, we had filled our jerry cans with diesel and were on our way.  We crossed the official start line at 1:20 pm.

Trying out the Asymetrical Spinnaker
We could hear other boats complaining about lack of wind over the radio, but we rocked along under sail at 4.5 to 5 knots, flying an asymetrical spinnaker.  It had been warm in the marina, but was cool on the water.  I went below to relax before my 4:00 watch.  I was delighted to discover that Don and Kathy considered cooking part of my watch time, so I would have the 4 to 8 watches, which are my favorites.  We had roast turkey breast with mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, and cranberry sauce for our first dinner underway.  The evening was warm, so I was comfortable until my watch ended.  I was tired and hoped to be able to sleep when I went below, but we had had to turn the engine on and the noise and general activity made it difficult to sleep soundly as I was occupying the quarter berth and my head was right next to the engine and electrical panel.

Kathy and Don Dousing the Spinnaker
October 28, 2014

I came on watch at 4:00 am and had a tough time keeping my eyes open.  Once again, my audio book worked more towards putting me to sleep than keeping me awake, so I switched to music so that I could occupy myself by singing along.  Although the CPT autopilot did a fine job of steering, I stood to keep myself from nodding.  The morning was cloudy, so the sunrise was unremarkable.  While there were no colors in evidence, the water did turn silvery like a sea of mercury just before the sun cleared the horizon.  I could see rain falling over the land, but we avoided the clouds.

The day passed uneventfully.  We saw a couple of large pods of dolphins.  There wasn’t much wind, so we motored most of the day except for several hours in the afternoon when we took a break from the noise and sailed so that we could enjoy the stereo.  I made tacos for dinner and we turned the motor back on.  Once again, the evening was fine.  I went to sleep after dinner and slept until 12:30 when they turned the motor off and rolled out the jib.  We managed to sail for the rest of the night, although we had to head far out to sea to do so.  I slept fitfully the rest of the night, as the wind was inconsistent and the sails banged around as Don tried to edge us closer to our desired course.

October 29, 2014

I came on watch at 4:00 am, again, and the morning was pretty much a repeat of the previous day except that we were sailing.  I elected to continue on the same course, although we were still sailing out to sea, because it was so much easier for Don and Kathy to sleep without the engine running.  At daybreak, I could see three boats, although two soon gybed and sailed over the horizon towards shore.  When Kathy got up, we gybed as well. We tried to check in via the radio, but were so far away that no one could hear us.   An hour or so later, the wind dropped and we reluctantly started the engine again, which allowed us to return to our desired course.  Comet has an especially noisy engine (or lack of sound deadening material.)  It is almost impossible to hear anything else when it is running.
The Coast of Baja California

The wind came up in the afternoon and we were able to shut the motor off just after 3:00.  We sailed all afternoon.  I made pork chops and baked yams for dinner.  It was a beautiful evening and, though the wind dropped somewhat, we sailed until we crossed the finish line for the first leg off Isla Natividad at 20:18.  I stayed up long enough to have a glass of wine after my watch ended and then went below to sleep.  The wind continued to die and they started the engine at some point during Kathy’s watch.

October 30, 2014

Don called all hand on deck at 12:30 because we had come upon a vessel drifting with a stalled engine.  The vessel, Cavale, was a Cheoy Lee 44.  They were drifting towards land and requested a tow.  We rigged a towing bridle and took them in tow, but no sooner had we overcome their inertia than we ran out of fuel in our main tank.  We switched to the second tank, but there was air in the lines and we couldn’t start our engine, either.  We were tethered together and both drifting towards shore.  Don worked to bleed the air out of the lines while I tried to keep from crashing into Cavale.  It was pitch dark and I had no steerage, so it was very disorienting and difficult to tell if we were nearing the shore.  It was a tense hour and we were all (on both vessels) relieved when our engine roared into life.  Comet is a stout little vessel and, once we finally got Cavale moving, we towed them handily through the entrance to Turtle Bay, following my waypoints from the previous year.  The last thing I wanted to do was to tow a vessel through a crowded anchorage in the pitch dark, so we cut them loose fairly close to the entrance and they immediately dropped anchor.  We continued somewhat further inside and dropped the hook amidst the outer row of boats at about 4:00 am.

Sunset in Turtle Bay
We all slept soundly until about 11:00 am, once again missing our check in.  We were moving a bit slow, but eventually made it ashore to the Vera Cruz Restaurant where the fleet was meeting for a festive meal.  We hoisted a couple of beers and ate a nice meal before trooping off across town to the baseball diamond.  Turtle Bay is a dusty former fishing village with mostly dirt streets and one Pemex station, but they are crazy for baseball and have a spiffy baseball stadium with an astro turf field.  A game was underway where everyone seemed to be on the same team and no one struck out (they were using tennis balls).  Many local boys played along with us.  Kathy, who is a former softball player, wanted to hit.  I acted as a designated runner and managed to make it home, although I don’t think anyone was keeping score.  Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.

When interest in the game started to wane, we wandered back down the hill and stopped for a drink at Maria’s on the beach.  We headed back to the boat when the sun started to sink low and passed a peaceful evening aboard.

October 31, 2014

Dinghies on the Beach at Turtle Bay
We got up in time to check into the net at 9:00 am.  I started cooking right away so as to be prepared for the beach party at 12:30.  I made kalua pork and bacon slaw and then made an omelette out of leftovers for breakfast.  We had some trouble keeping the oven lit for some reason.  Due to trouble keeping the oven hot, the food wasn’t ready until 1:30.  Kathy and I left on a panga shortly thereafter, but Don stayed behind to wait for the fuel panga.

Beach Party at Turtle Bay
The beach party was held in the eastern part of Turtle Bay where there is a long, sandy beach and fantastic scenery of different color banded mountains and mesas.  A tangle of dinghies rested on the beach and the locals had set up a tent for food and beer and ice cream concessions.  A mob of people milled on the shore.  It took us nearly two hours to work our way through the food line.  I ran into my friend, Jim Mauldin, from the Single Sailors Association in Alameda and met his shipmates, one of whom turned out to be an acquaintance of mine from La Cruz.  The sailing world can be very small.

The party proceeded.  After the food, the kids threw water balloons at Richard, the Grand Poobah, who was unfortunately standing behind where Kathy and I were sitting.  We got pretty soggy before we determined what was happening.  There was a tug of war between men and women and a volleyball game.  Don never appeared.  We returned to the boat as shadows started to lengthen.  We found the fuel panga tied alongside and had to leap up onto the deck without the aid of the boarding ladder.  Once all of our tanks were topped up, the fuel panga left us and we passed a quiet evening watching the movie Gravity and drinking a bottle of cabernet.

November 1, 2014

Turtle Bay Sunset
I got up at 6:30 to boil water for coffee and be ready for the check in at 7:00 am.  At 7:00, Richard came on the radio to tell us that the combination of tropical storm Vance in the south and a strong high pressure system to the northeast was creating high winds and large seas along our course to Bahia Santa Maria.  Due to possible hazardous conditions, the fleet would remain in Turtle Bay until we could ascertain more about the path of the storm.

We spent the day on the boat, installing dodger hardware and finishing the hand sewing.  Don got one of the dinghy wheels installed.  The rest of the fleet amused themselves with paddle board races, domino games, beer drinking, and poker.  I made Tuscan chicken cutlets and roasted curried cauliflower for dinner and we lounged over cocktails for a couple of hours after dinner and then retired early.

November 2, 2014

We began the day with a long radio discussion about whether or not to continue south.  It looked like Vance was going to develop into a hurricane and then rapidly diminish.  The hurricane wasn’t expected to come anywhere near us, but there were strong northern winds forecast.  The issue was whether to go right away and possibly sail in high winds or wait for lighter winds, but have to sail in hurricane swells.  The fleet was split about 50/50.  Richard was adamant that any boats continuing on would not be a part of the Ha-Ha.  The fleet heading south renamed themselves the Bravehearts.  The Bravehearts (about 40 boats) mostly consisted of large, newer boats.  We were tempted to go, but knew that they would soon leave us behind and we would find ourselves alone, so we elected to remain with the fleet.

Boats at Anchor in Turtle Bay
Kathy and I spent the first half of the day working on the dodger, hoping to be able to go ashore for dominos at 2:00.  Don and I got the dinghy launched and motor mounted, but the fuel hose then developed a leak.  Kathy didn’t feel very well and went to sleep.  I took a short nap, Don fixed the hose, and he and I went ashore about 4:00.  We were anchored quite far out and it was a long, wet ride to shore.  We survived our first dinghy landing with the help of the boys on the beach who charged us a dollar to watch the dinghy and help us land and launch.  Someone else was eager to relieve us of our bag of trash and two bucks.  We had a beer at the Playa Deposito and then strolled up the dusty street to the San Martin market where we found a reasonably good selection of produce and I was able to buy a jar of decaf instant coffee.  The sun was getting low by the time we got back to the beach, so we hopped in the dinghy, got launched by the beach boys, somehow managed to avoid hitting the rocks with our motor, and zipped back to the boat.  The wind was at our backs, so it was a much drier ride home.

The avocados didn’t survive the dinghy ride, so I made guacamole and then started preparing spaghetti squash with a red meat sauce.  I took a chance on preparing the squash in a pressure cooker and was delighted to find that the squash was done by the time I had finished making the sauce.  We cracked a bottle of red wine and enjoyed our dinner.  After dinner, we listened to James Taylor music for an hour or so until everyone started nodding.

November 3, 2014

Richard came on the radio at 9:00 am with the news that we would be leaving at 10:30.  We had our hands full getting the dinghy aboard and everything stowed so as to be able to weigh anchor and leave with the fleet.  Everyone was glad to be underway, at last.  The high pressure systems to the north were sending wind blasting south towards the low of Hurricane Vance.  Winds were 15 to 20 knots and the seas five to six feet and rather confused.  We put a reef in the main, but still charged along at something like seven knots.  The wind and seas increased as the day progressed.  We had wanted to stay close to land where the wind and seas were  less pronounced, but were unable to do so because we would have been taking the seas on the beam.
The Fleet Charging Towards Bahia Santa Maria

By dinner time, things were quite lively below.  Piles of belongings covered the cabin sole.  Fortunately, Don had a pressure cooker.  I managed to make pot roast with sweet potatoes and carrots while the boat slewed up and over the quartering waves.  Things started to get wet.  We had to close the hatches and the occasional wave would even splash me in my quarter berth.  My quarter berth extended forward to become the bench for the chart table.  This had its advantages and disadvantages.  I could talk on the radio and check the instruments without leaving my bunk, but it also meant that I could receive a face full of water or the odd flying tea kettle from the galley across from me.  We dubbed the passage, “The Night of the Flying Tea Kettle.”

November 4, 2014

By the time it got light, winds were 20 knots sustained, with gusts up to 27 knots.  We were rocketing along.  Fortunately, the wind direction changed slightly and we were able to correct our course and head in the desired direction.  We continued to sail all day.  The wind dropped somewhat in the afternoon and we were able to fly the headsail and even go wing on wing for a couple of hours.  We spied our first sea turtle.  Once again, the wind built as evening fell.  We rolled in the headsail.  The pressure cooker saved the day, again, as I used it to prepare corned beef, carrots and potatoes.  When dinner was over, we were only a few hours away from the finish line, speeding along under reefed main alone, happily enduring 18 to 20 knots of wind in the absence of the previous night’s nasty seas.  We crossed the finish line for leg 2 just short of 11:00 pm.

November 5, 2014

I leapt out of bed about 1:00 am when the motor fired up, certain that we were about to enter Bahia Santa Maria.  Actually, we were still about 8 miles out.  I stayed up until we got there.  The moon was nearly full and it was quite beautiful, although rather chilly.  We saw some bright lights at the mouth of Bahia Santa Maria.  At first, I thought it was anchor lights, but eventually the anchor lights resolved behind the lights at the entrance.  My next thought was that it was fish pens, but it turned out that there was a fleet of 21 fishing boats, lights ablaze, working the left side of the entrance to the bay.  The anchor lights of more than 100 boats looked like a city in the distance.  Don and Kathy kept referring to the “city lights” and I had to keep reminding them that the only “city” in Bahia Santa Maria was the Ha-Ha fleet itself.
Moon Over Bahia Santa Maria

We finally dropped anchor in the northwest corner of the bay about 3:00 am.  After anchoring, we sat in the cockpit, shared a bottle of red wine, and watched the moon set behind the rocky peaks as boats trickled in behind us.  We went to sleep just before 5:00 am and slept until Richard woke us up to check in about 9:00.  

We spent a leisurely morning.  Miraculously, Victor and his family still managed to produce our beach party, band and all, even though we were two days late in arriving.  We went ashore by panga and had a nice meal of shrimp or grouper and lots of cold beer.  The Ha-Ha class of 2014-2015 was not made up of party animals.  There was very little dancing, but lots of surfing on the beach below the bluff.  Kathy went back to the boat early to work on the dodger and Don and I took a walk down the beach.  The sand spit between Bahia Santa Maria and Mag Bay is covered in dunes and mangroves.  It would have been fun to spend a few days exploring, but we had to cut our visit short due to our extended stay in Turtle Bay.  Don and I also left the party fairly early.  We returned to the boat, but spent the rest of the afternoon lounging in the cockpit, listening to the band and enjoying the warm sunshine and beautiful view.  Bahia Santa Maria was brown and dry this year, but still starkly gorgeous and isolated.  It was the cook’s night off, so we munched on leftovers and went to bed early, knowing that we would be getting an early start the next day.
The Ha-Ha Fleet in Bahia Santa Maria