Tuesday, March 29, 2011

More photos!

You can actually see Brittnay's reflection! Talk about calm!

Launching the dinghy in heavy surf ;)

The moon...

Filling our water jerry cans in La Paz- best water we've had in Mexico.

He's so dreamy!

The most beautiful sunset!

Sunset in the Sea of Cortez

Sunset in La Paz

Yummy sushi!

That's all for now folks!

Life on Britannia

Just so that you can get a better idea of what a typical day looks like for us... I copied this from an email that I'd sent to a friend. I apologize if it's a bit crass, she's a real close friend and likes to hear about all the detailed human elements.

Starting at 00:00 hr (that's midnight right?) We're always in bed before midnight unless one of us is on watch. Usually I go pee at 2:30 or 3 am, go back to sleep for a few more hours, wake-up when the sun rises, check out our anchorage and then go back to bed- cuddle with Krister for a few hours, then around 8 we get up for the day. We make coffee, eat cereal or homemade granola bars (delicious recipe from the Bradford's). Then we do the previous night's dishes- with salt water and a sparse fresh water rinse. Some time during the cleaning up, I go #2 (he he he). We play music on one of the I-pods or the I-touch, we check our SSB radio e-mail and sat phone texts, and listen to the Ham radio nets. Basically these are old guys who used to sail, or would like to have sailed, but now are too old. They love their radios and want to help all of us that are out here living the dream, so we check in with them and they tell us the weather, and what ever else we need to know about. The day really gets going when we slather ourselves in SPF. If we are anchored we either 1. pack a lunch and go to shore 2. go out on deck, read and lay in the sun like lay cats or 3. Fix broken stuff and/or make new stuff (I sewed a fishing pole cover, patched a sail and a cockpit cushion, whipped the ends of ropes, and I'm in the process of making a small step for when the dinghy is on the side of the boat so I can get on and off more easily). On shore we usually hike up the surrounding hills/mountains or walk along the beach. I scout for treasures, like cool rocks or shells. I found a fishing lure once, but haven't used it yet. Then we come back to the boat. We always watch the sun set together- sometimes we have a cocktail. But I've been dehydrated lately, and drinking is expensive so we're off that for a while. Then we make dinner, usually some type of pasta or rice dish, and watch a movie on our MacBook. If I'm lucky Krister makes his famous hippie pop. Before the end of the movie I'm asleep and need to drag myself into the head to brush teeth and go to bed in the v-berth.

If we're not at anchor, but are sailing, the day and night run together a bit more. Krister is usually on watch from sun set until midnight. I make dinner and we watch the sun set and then I try to get some sleep. My watch is from 12am to 4 or 5:30ish. It depends on how tired I am and how close to land we are and a bunch of other things. While on watch, I read, stretch, try do use my muscles doing leg lifts, push-ups and sit-ups. That only works if it's not too rolly- and if I'm not too lazy. I sit and watch the stars and moon and the bioluminesence. Sometimes there are dolphins and whales to watch too. Every 15 minutes or so I get up and look around for boats, make sure we're still on course, and that the sails are trimmed properly. If I'm really tired I set an egg timer to go off every 15 min. I can actully fall asleep and dream in that much time! When my shift is over I wake Krister and get him a breakfast snack or hot tea or tang. Then I get to sleep from dawn until when I wake up- usually 10. Then Krister sleeps for a couple more hours and we're both awake around noon. We hang out and talk about our watches, life and things. When we think we're getting close to wherever we're going, we look through our charts and books (Charlie's Charts) and discuss where we think a good spot to anchor might be and what we want to do when we arrive. We check into the radio nets and our sat phone texts even if we're sailing. Then if we're out for a couple days, the process just keeps repeating until we make land fall.

Our power needs are met fully by a solar panel mounted above our bimini. Of course our needs are not the same as most cruisers. The sail usually blocks part of the solar panel while we're underway and our auto helm and navigation instruments use quite a bit of juice so we don't run the fridge while sailing. Living without refrigeration is not as impossible as one might think. Most of our food is prepared from dry goods like pasta, rice, beans, and flour. Things like fresh produce are carefully chosen to be long lasting; hard green avocados, apples, citrus fruits, cabbage, potatoes, onions and carrots. We also don't have a water maker- which would use more electricity than we could absorb from the sun in a day and would be another thing to worry about breaking. Not having an endless amount of fresh water means we must be aware of how we "spend" our water. We have two water tanks that hold 75 gallons, and two 6 gallon jerry cans which lasts us more than a month. We use saltwater for everything that we can- bathing, dishes, cleaning, flushing the head (toilet)- sometimes followed by a fresh water rinse. Even when cooking, 20% of the water used to boil pasta and rice can be salt water if we're in an area with clean, clear water. Personal hygiene is difficult to keep up with- and I could really use a mani/pedi! Good thing Krister and I are on friendly terms ;) Sometimes we just do the sponge bath thing with 2 cups of warm fresh water and a washcloth, if we're really lazy a wet wipe will do, other times we hang a solar shower full of salt water from the mast, when the water is warmer and we do more swimming and snorkeling, we just suds-up and jump in to rinse off. It's a bit like camping, but with the comforts that come from not having to carry everything on your back. I hope this gives you a better idea of what life is like on Britannia!

We'll be setting sail across the Pacific soon so we won't be able to post until we get to the Marquesas. I will try to get one more post written before we go but we've got a bit of work to do before we can leave Mexico- mostly filling up our fuel, water and provisioning. Guess it's time for me to get to work!

Best to you all!


Belated post

These are a couple things I'd written while unable to get on-line. They're a week or two old, but I hope you still find them interesting!

Becalmed and waiting, I feel like a "real sailor" for the first time - dependent upon the weather gods and unwilling to cheat by "raising the iron sail" a euphemism many use for motoring . We left La Paz with the intention of sailing to the mainland, but after the first 40 miles (accomplished in 24 maddeningly slow hours), we decided that it made more sense to pull into one of the last possible anchorages before we were committed to the crossing than it did to slat our way across the Sea of Cortez at less than 2 knots. So, here we are back in Ensenada de Los Muertos, contemplating our options. Floating in a sea of glossy water, the boat is as still as when it's in the slip- seemingly more so because swell is expected but absent. It's been three days now, or four? Hard to say with so little to mark the time. We check the weather forecast, read, lay in the sun, and make meals, clean up and sleep; a tedium mitigated by the comfort of warm weather and forced relaxation.

The plan had been to head 375Nm to San Blas, were there's a good anchorage and good surf (two qualities rarely attributable to a common place). We were going to spend a few weeks there and then make the final preparations for our Pacific crossing in Puerta Vallerta, still shooting for a departure date of roughly April 1. That plan is making less sense as I add up the days remaining between now and then - the winds are projected to pick up tomorrow afternoon which means that the earliest we'd be in San Blas is the 21st or so - that's just about enough time to provision, refill our tanks and finish up the last few projects I'd wanted to do in preparation for a month at sea.

I continue to be surprised at how rushed this all feels. Seeing the world properly by boat would take... a lifetime, I'm pretty sure.

And how much there is to see!

Last night, we heard what sounded like a poorly running diesel and went up on deck to investigate. The sound had no clear origin and seemed to be coming in all directions and when heard from above deck sounded like a thousand hands slapping water, but without the aqueous splash that should accompany that much disturbance of water. I still have no idea what it was, though I'm reasonably sure that it was a very large school of something. (turns out it was a school of rays) The setting was magical - seas flat and calm and grey in the moonlight such that any horizon line was indistinguishable. Strange sounds in a not so strange and not so far away place. It makes me hungry for stranger and more distant shores.

We've been thoroughly enjoying all the gifts sent along with Suzy- snacks, games and books. Thank you all for thinking of us!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

La Paz to San Blas

Lots of puffer fish in the water and on beaches
Sea turtle floating by us

Yellow tail fish

In the V-berth

Probably the most beautiful sunset yet!

I had written a long post while we were beclamed in the Sea of Cortez, but this computer at the internet place is giving me a had time about up loading it- so you´re stuck with the short version.
We left La Paz over 2 weeks ago and spent half of that time anchored off Ensenada de los muertos waiting for wind and the other half of that time bobbing in the Sea of Cortez. I think we set a record for longest and slowest passage aross the sea. It wasn´t so bad though- lots of sun, relaxing, reading and even our first sightings of sea turtles.
Here are a few photos to enjoy while you wait for our next post!

Laundry drying

Britannia at anchor

Dave and Marg visiting from Kevit

Dinner on the boat

Relaxing in our on deck hammock with a good book

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cabo to La Paz

Where did we leave off? It's always best to start at the beginning, but where do you start when time has lost all meaning or if you can't remember...

We want to send out a big thanks to our friend Elisabeth for all her generosity! We had a great time in San Jose del Cabo. Her hotel, The Grand Mayan, was the most impressively designed hotel I've ever visited. Stepping out of the bright heat of the day into a black Mayan temple that was the lobby/entrance was awe inspiring. Turns out that the statues are fertility gods.

Grand Mayan Fertility God Statue

Sunset San Jose del Cabo (photo by Elisabeth)

The shower was wonderful, everything I thought it could be. (And I really needed it) We stopped for beers, then a long walk on the beach, followed by the best Mexican meal we've had so far. Maybe it had something to do with all the margaritas? Or that it was the first meal I didn't have to wash the dished after...
The walk around the marina in the dark was an adventure, not to mention the unlit dinghy ride back to the boat. But the jam session and hanging out was great. Man what a perfect night! Unfortunately the winds picked up early the next morning so we had to go; missing brunch, pool time, and meeting Liz's brother.

We arrived and anchored in Los Frailes just after dark. (When are we going to break that habit?!) In the morning we went ashore and met a few other cruises- the first we'd seen in our age group- and with boats smaller than ours. Following their advice, we hiked up the near bluff and caught some fantastic views- including this one of Britannia.

With all the beauty surrounding us it's probably hard to believe that real life and routine continue. But there's always meals to cook, things to clean, fix and organize- plus weather to check. We usually check in with the ham radio nets in the morning, getting weather info, and then check our windlink radio email, and the sat phone text messages. Hearing from friends and family- especially the silly ones- always makes us smile.

Krister on the radio

It took us a few days and a couple anchorages to make it to La Paz. For cruisers reading this, we stopped at Ensenada de los muertos. It's an easy anchorage to get into-even has some facilities. Our timing was off yet again and we arrived in the La Paz bay just after dark- and to make it worse there was no moon to help us. Thank God for the radar! It saved our asses- again. Because our charts did not have enough detail we didn't expect the large rock jutting out of the water as we were coming into Ballenrda Bay- where we intended to anchor. After an abrupt U-turn we changed our plans, inspected the more detailed charts for surrounding bays with easier anchorages. In the morning we awoke to a strong north wind that kept us at anchor through the afternoon. Just as well, I needed the time to clean the boat and prepare it for Suzy's arrival.

Our time in La Paz has been full of new friends and adventures. Our first day here we were lucky to met Nancy and Greg on Festima Lente. They showed us the ropes and got us orientated. The chores that would've take hours, if not days, was cut in half- giving us time to relax. By the time Suzy arrived we had filled the boat with water, food, and clean laundry. Nothing left to do but have fun!

Amanda reading the Kindle (thanks girls!)
Walking about La Paz
On the boardwalk

Drinks and cards! She wouldn't cheat- would she?
Looks fun- but burrr it was chilly

Espiritu Santu

Caleta Partida

Awesome cave we climbed up into- ah shade!

Look at those tough kids hauling the dinghy through the squishy seaweed

Along the Malcon in La Paz

These were the strongest margaritas I've ever drank. Thanks Kevin!

Brunch and coffee- delicious!

Practicing the art of henna tattooing

We spent some time on the beach tanning, reading and napping; had a great hike on the Island of Espiritu Santu; strolled around La Paz- people watching and enjoying the Carnaval festivities.

The week went by pretty fast- as all vacations do. We were sad to see her leave- not knowing when we'd see her again or get another visit from friends or family. Good thing there are so many great people in La Paz and that we have each other!

Today we paid our bond exemption fees and filled out the rest of our Puddle Jump paper work, making our decision final: we will be leaving Mexico in 3 to 4 weeks and heading out to French Polynesia! Sorry Tucker- Krister was pretty close to talking me into another year. But I know we'll see you guys again- and we'll have lots of stories to share then.


We've been in La Paz for a while now, (the spot tracker is not broken) but have stayed busy visiting "the fleet" and taking day trips with my sister Suzy while she was here. We've got lots of great photos- waiting to post them until the internet connection is faster. I'll write then too... Soon okay!
Always another beautiful sunset waiting at the end of each day.