Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March 31, La Cruz

This is the last day for sis and the chubster, they leave tomorrow.  I wish I could have provided them with a better last two days of their trip but a broken windlass has kept us at anchor here in La Cruz.  Today was dedicated to jumping from one bus to another and walking great distances to and from bad Mexican directions in the heat and dirt of Mexico.  Honestly, it was a good experience and I enjoy getting my elbows dirty with the locals.  One of the mishaps today was buying 3 tiny little stainless screws that hold the endcap on the electrical motor side of the windlass then after much wandering to and fro I realized that there is a whole in the pocket of my boardshorts and I had donated those three screws to the streets of Bucerias.  Doh!  Back to the fasterner shop to get three more.

Before going to town I spent about an hour or so with a friendly Canadian chap that was an electrical engineer in his previous life who  helped me clean the commutator and reseat the brushes on the windlass.  I also had to buy some new 2/0 AWG cable to replace one of the cables to the windlass that had corroded through and was done!  After the fam leaves tomorrow I will begin the project of rewiring and installing the windlass.  Said project should take me about 4-5 hours and when I am done I hope that when I push the button...everything works and the anchor and chain come into the boat.  That's the plan!  I will let you know how it goes.

I think to celebrate a good trip, we will go get some pizza tonight then come back and watch another postcard sunset.  Ciao for now.

Bret, Aven, Karla
SV Liahona

Monday, March 30, 2015

March 30, La Cruz - Windlass problems continue...

Today was a reality check for myself and anyone else that has been mislead into thinking that cruising is all white sand beaches, palm trees, warm water and Mai Tais.  My windlass has continued to act up and not be the reliable piece of equipment that I need it to be.  So today it was time to dig in, remove, tear apart, replace and repair whatever is needed to make right.  Unfortunately it is about a 3 hour project just to remove the windlass from the spot it is nestled into up in the bow.  I won't go into all of the details but suffice it to say that it is time consuming, tedious, knuckle bleeding work.  So after removing the windlass then it is time to tear into it to try to find out what needs to be done.  That all being done by myself who doesn't have a clue.  I call it the poke and hope program.  I do have some books to refer to but I wish I were more knowledgeable than I am.  After most of the afternoon had expired I really hadn't gotten any closer to the goal.  I believe that I need to clean the brushes and commentator but after digging into it I quickly realize I'm in over my head.  So...tomorrow's project will be to seek out someone with more know how with regards to electric motors that can offer some advice.

My other issue is that the main furling system seems to be very tight and difficult to furl.  I may have a failing bearing at the base of the furler and/or problems with the main sail alignment in the furler.  Either way, I have to roll the main out, remove it from the mast and drop it to the deck then dismantle the furling system and inspect the parts.  While I am in there I will replace the old main furling line with new and put it all back together again.  I was hoping to start that tomorrow morning when there is no wind but my number one priority now is the windlass.  Without it, the anchor stays put on the bottom of the ocean outside of La Cruz harbor and I don't move.  Not a fantastic option.  Once I at least get that on track and moving in the right direction I will dig into the main sail.

While I was busy with projects on the boat Aven and Karla got adventurous and hopped a couple of buses up to Sayulita, a small surf town just north of here.  It is Semana Santa here in Mexico so any little resort beach like that is crazy busy and full.  They said it was a cool little town but WAY too many people.  That is the update for today my friends.  Hoping to report better news tomorrow.

Bret, Aven, Karla
SV Liahona

Sunday, March 29, 2015

March 29, La Cruz - Tallen goes home :(

Today was a good and a bad day.  The bad was dropping Tallen off at the airport in Puerto Vallarta for his flight home. :(  Honestly, I was pretty sad saying goodbye and seeing him go.  Other than that depressing note the rest of the day was pretty good.  Not totally amazing, not necessarily outstanding, but pretty good.  We woke up in Yelapa this morning, picked up anchor and headed across Banderas Bay toward Puerto Vallarta marina, about a 3 hour sail.  Actually we motored the entire time as the bay was like glass, not a breath of wind.  About an hour in we got a hook up on the rod and reel. At first it seemed like your normal pescado but it quickly became apparent that this fish was not your average Joe.  We idled the motor back and put the boat in neutral like we normally do when we have a hook up but that wasn't enough.  This thing was spooling the reel!  I have 1000 yards of 150 pound test line and when I noticed that we were below half of that I had Karla steer the boat in his direction and start chasing him down to see if we could gain some line on him.  No way!  We were doing 4-5 knots toward the fish and he was still spooling line like we had a wimpy little trout rod.  When he had spooled out well over 800 yards, that's about a 1/2 mile of line, we stepped up the pace trying to chase him down and finally we were at a stand still.  Not gaining but not losing line to him.  The kids took turns on the rod, but honestly, they couldn't hang on to it so I took over.  At about 20 minutes into the fight we had gained back maybe 50-100 yards of the 800+ yards of line out there when the line went slack.  Nothing!  CRAP!  We all wanted to see this beast.  When we reeled in the line we discovered that the leader had been chafed and severed.  He must have swallowed the entire lure and had the line coming out of his mouth and after so much time it finally chafed through.  We were so bummed.  It was by far the largest fish I have had on the line yet.  I'm guessing that it was a large Yellow Fin Tuna, maybe 100+ pounds.  So bummed to lose it.

After the lost fish we motored toward PV harbor, saw a couple of sea turtles along the way and eased on into the harbor.  Filled the boat with fuel, which was a total of about 8 gallons of diesel after a week of cruising, not bad, had lunch, put Tallen in a taxi headed to the airport, washed the boat with fresh water and headed out to anchor in La Cruz about 9 miles away.  Oh, we got a slip for 2 hours in PV while we had lunch and dropped off Tallen and the slip they put is in was crazy small.  We tip toed in very slowly with barely enough room to turn the boat into the slip and once we were in we had about 1' leeway on either side of the boat.  Sketchy!

On the way to La Cruz Karla and Aven were finally treated to a close whale siting as we had one breach about 50' off the starboard bow.  Pretty cool stuff.  What was crazy is that we were in like 25' of water and near PV which is the dirtiest part of the bay.  We are now safely anchored outside of La Cruz and hope to pull anchor tomorrow morning and head back out to Punta de Mita as Aven wants to try to get a little surfing in.  That's it for today kids.  Ciao for now.

Bret, Aven, Karla
SV Liahona

Saturday, March 28, 2015

March 28, Yelapa

So today I will keep it pretty short.  We stayed another day in Yelapa and just enjoyed the beauty and tranquility of this place.  You should Google it, get a little pictoral flavor of where we have been the last couple of days.  I took a load of laundry into town, the first of the month and a half on the boat. ha.  When you change between board shorts, one set drying on the rail, one set in use, and that is pretty much all you wear, the laundry pile just doesn't build up to fast.  That works for me. lol.

Tomorrow we head into PV to drop off Tallen at the airport as he heads home tomorrow. :(  Major frowny face!  The time with him went WAY to fast.  Karla and Aven are here until Wednesday.  Out with clout! Ciao for now. Later gator.

Bret, Tallen, Karla, Aven
SV Liahona

Friday, March 27, 2015

March 27, Yelapa

The anchorage in Yelapa

When I got up this morning I honestly thought that today was going to be just an average day with not much to write about but the cruising life has proven me wrong once again.  Arising early around 6:30am to make the 19 miles across Banderas Bay I was greeted with a boat grrrr.  While everyone slept I started the engine and walked forward to the bow to raise the anchor so we could be on our way. As I pushed the "in" button on the windlass all I heard was a click.  Dang, same problem as yesterday when we got to the anchorage except this time bringing the anchor up by hand was NOT on my "want to do" list.  I probably could pull it by hand but it would be a serious struggle and most likely would take 30 minutes to an hour of some serious effort.  So I went down below, got a cup of coffee, pulled out my Nigel Calder "boat fix it Bible" and researched what the problem could be.  Without getting into the whole ordeal, I did some electrical tests on the system and figured things out enough to get the anchor up "under power" and get on our way.  Needless to say, the windlass is not fixed and in the next day or two I will need to dig in and take care of of few things to make it a reliable system again.

Our first stop this morning was "Los Arcos", a few very small islands about 8 miles southwest of Puerto Vallarta famous for it's excellent snorkeling.  There is a pretty big swell in the bay right now and it made the conditions not exactly prime along with pangas full of tourists trying to experience the same place we were.  So it was a short stop and we then headed further west along the steep, rocky shoreline of the south side of Banderas Bay towards the town of Yelapa.  Yelapa is a remote town, no roads lead here and can only be accessed by burro trail or boat, and is inhabited by the indigenous Chacala indian tribe who have been here since around the 1400s.

As we arrived we went ashore to the beautiful sand beach inside of this tropical cove Tallen stepped up to go for a tandem parachute kite ride where they tow you up to about 1000' then the kite releases from the boat and glides over the bay, surrounding tropical forest and beaches to land back on the beach about 20 minutes later.  He said it was one of the coolest things he has ever done.  After Tallen's flight we all hiked up to the waterfalls above town, took a very refreshing fresh water swim and then finished the day off with a dinner on the beach under the palapa.  Ya, it was another postcard day. ha.

It is pretty rolly here in the anchorage but it is quiet, serene and beautiful.  Well worth a few rolls during the night.  As the day closes so do I.  Ciao for now.

Bret, Tallen, Karla, Aven
SV Liahona

Thursday, March 26, 2015

March 26, Punta de Mita

Well we are back in Punta de Mita after an amazingly peaceful sail down the coast from Guayabitos.  We came back into Banderas Bay so we could do some exploring and snorkeling on the south side of the bay over the next two days before Tallen gets on the plane to head back home on Sunday.  Following some extremely delicious french toast this morning, courtesy of Karla, we headed out in the dinghy to a small island off of Guayabitos for a little snorkeling.  It was a bit murky but the water was warm and it was fun to explore.  After coming back, we readied the Liahona, pulled anchor and pointed her south.

As soon as we were clear of the rocky point that protected the Bay of Jaltemba we put out sail, turned off the motor and listened to the water moving quickly past the hull as we whisked toward our destination.  It wasn't even a half hour out of port when the reel started zinging so we rolled in the genoa and turned into the wind in order to slow the boat down enough to attempt to reel in what might be lunch.  Tallen did the reeling and in about 15 minutes we saw the bright silver sided yellowtail, and a nice one at that.  With a quick pull of the gaff the fish was hooked for good and pulled up on the back deck where it was filleted and cleaned for a short trip to the BBQ. ha.  Tallen did the cooking honors and prepared a pretty darn tasty lunch and saving the other half of the fish for fish tacos tonight.

The sail was perfect.  6-10 knots of wind off the starboard beam had us cruising along at about 4-5 knots in a long ocean swell of about 4'.  Dolphins joined us for a bit and we were constantly entertained watching the beautiful coastline off to the port side only a couple miles away.  We didn't turn the motor on until we were in the anchorage and ready to drop the hook.  31 miles, about 6 hours and we probably didn't burn more than a quart of diesel.  Not bad.

Preparing the anchor we encountered a small problem as the windlass was not willing to do it duties. grrr.  So we found our spot and put out the anchor by hand and I figured that I could figure out what the problem was once we were settled.  After getting the anchor set I tried it again and she worked perfectly.  I am not 100% what was going on but I think that since we sailed all day the engine batteries were a little low and did not provide enough juice.  After the 15 minutes of motoring the cells were rejuvinated by the alternator and all was well.  So a good ending to another near perfect day.  The day will be capped off by fish tacos provided by Mr. Yellowtail that graced us with presence earlier today.

As a side note, the surf here in Punta de Mita is definitely bigger that it was before.  As we rounded the point there were huge swells cresting and breaking over the shallow waters of the point.  That's a rap folks!  Ciao for now!

Bret, Tallen, Aven, Karla
SV Liahona

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

March 25, Guayabitos

I'm not going to lie, just as Bahia Chacala is described as the "quintessential" anchorage on the Mexican Gold Coast, today as a whole was the quintessential day in the life of a cruiser. We woke up a little later this morning in Chacala to calm, aqua waters and waves crashing along the white sand beach.  Yesterday afternoon as we sat at a thatched palm restaurant enjoying a cold drink a man approached us with a large bucket filled with huge strawberries.  We obliged and bought a kilo.  This morning Karla made crepes filled with fresh strawberries that did not suck. ha.  Shortly after breakfast we pulled anchor and headed a short distance south to Bahia Jaltemba and the small coastal town of Guayabitos.  We had easy 8-10 knot breezes off of the starboard beam so we immediately killed the motor and threw out the main and reacher.  There was an easy long ocean swell with only but small ripples telling of the afternoon breeze.

Remembering something from the days of the original Liahona I asked the kids if they wanted to swing overboard on the leeward side of the boat in the bosun's chair.  It was a quick reply yes so I grabbed a spinnaker halyard that was not in use, tied a bowline to the d-ring in the chair and within a few doubtful moments in their minds if this was dangerous or not, Tallen was swinging free over the ocean at the end of the halyard coming from the top of the mast.  As he pushed off the stern of the boat he would swing outward and forward as the line held him fast and then being cushioned by the lee side of the reacher just as he thought he was going to slam into the side of the hull.  Just about the time the fun was starting with the bosun's swing a group of dolphins, probably the largest dolphins I have ever seen, decided to join us for a swim and surf in the wave coming off of the bow.  So there was Tallen, swinging over the water about 10-15' off the side of the boat and 4-6 dolphins swimming below him breaching with each breath.  Pretty freakin awesome!  The dolphins stayed with us for about 5-10 minutes then moved on.  After that Aven took her turn in the chair and by the smile on her face it appeared that she didn't hate it. ha.

We gracefully sailed into the quaint little bay, behind a small protective island and set the hook in white sand only 6' below the keel.  An afternoon of walking into town for some ice cream and a bit of exploration and then we were back on board resting enjoying the endings of the day.  Tonight we will enjoy the fruits of our labors late last night in Chacala where I was not able to convince either Aven or Tallen to get in the dark waters of the night to find some lobsters.  Even though it was only me, I was able to put 7 small lobsters in the fridge for a steak and lobster feast tonight.  THAT is what I call a quintessential day in the life of a cruiser!  And that will be just about enough truth for one day my friends. Ciao for now!

Bret, Tallen, Karla, Aven
SV Liahona

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

March 24, Chacala

We left behind the city lights, smooth rolling surf and countless masts as we headed away from the orange glow of the early morning sunrise in Banderas Bay around 6am.  Rounding the point at Punta de Mita and heading north along the coast toward Chacala we were hopeful to see some whales along the way.  We had a slight breeze but not enough to pure sail so we ran along with the main and the diesel motor at about 5.5 knots.  The seas were calm and the sun was bright but as the hours rolled on, still no whales.  Just a week before with Dave and Stephanie we had seen multiple whales every day.  Cruising along we always drag lines and today was no exception. Two lines on rod and reel and two handlines.  Although the day was incredibly peaceful the guests were doing a little complaining that they had yet to see a whale or catch a fish.  Something about false advertising. haha.

About an hour or two short of the anchorage a nice 10-12 knot breeze came up so we shut off the motor and enjoyed the power of the wind as we whisked along nicely toward Chacala. With about an hour left to go we spotted a whale spout then breech but it was off in the far distance and although we were hoping to see it again we never did.  Just as were approaching Chacala and getting ready to take down sail and about 5 minutes after Karla made a comment that she didn't know why I bothered to put fishing lines out because I never catch anything one of the reels started zinging.  Bam!  It ran for a long time and at one point I thought we may have just hooked a stray log or something.  After about 15 minutes we finally had a nice Yellowtail next to the boat while one of his buddies followed him in and swam along side the boat as well.  A quick gaff and we had about a 25 pound Yellowtail laying on the back deck.  I did my best to filet the fish and put the prime part of the meat in the freezer so we could attempt a bit of Sashimi later tonight.

Upon arriving in Chacala, it did not disappoint.  Because I can't say it better myself I quote from the cruiser's guide..."Chacala is the quintessential anchorage most people dream about when setting sail for the warm, tropical anchorages of Pacific Mexico. It's clear blue waters lapping at a white sand beach, surrounded by lush vegetation and coconut palms makes Chacala an easy favorite on most boater's lists".  Pretty accurate description.  We sat under a thatched palm roof and enjoyed some chips, salsa, guacamole and cold sodas before going off exploring remote beaches nearby in the dinghy.

Its a good day in paradise and the crew was pleased with what mother nature served up today.  Until tomorrow my land lubber friends.

Bret, Tallen, Karla and Aven
SV Liahona

Monday, March 23, 2015

March 23, Punta de Mita

Captain Aven

The fam arrived yesterday afternoon here in Puerto Vallarta. We stayed the night at anchor outside of La Cruz and then pulled up this morning and headed a short 9 miles northwest to Punta de Mita.  We were hoping to get a little paddleboard surfing in but there really wasn't much of a swell so we settled in to a little beach hut restaurant for some cold drinks, chips and salsa.  After lunch we took the dinghy and paddleboard up the beach a ways where I attempted to surf a little.  I did manage to catch a couple of waves but it was extremely shallow over a rock bottom so we didn't hang out there long and headed back to the boat where Tallen and Aven did a little  bosun's chair swinging from the spinnaker halyard.

After a bit we got kinda board so we decided to put together a little adventure and dinghy out the 5+ miles to Las Tres Marietas Islands.  It got a little rough out in the middle but after 20 minutes we arrived at the island and found "Hidden Beach".  Hidden Beach is an arch in the volcanic rock about 30' wide and about 4' tall above the sea level.  As you pass through it there is a very small, white sand beach tucked up against the volcanic rock.  Sitting on the beach you are in a small crater, surrounded by 20' rock walls on all sides and a narrow view out the arch leading to the sea outside.  Not completely sure it was worth 20 minutes each way in the dinghy in a choppy sea...but it was pretty cool.  We didn't really think things through completely and ran a little low on fuel on the way back arriving back at the boat with about a quart or so left.  Ha...all part of the adventure.

Tallen walking through the arch at Hidden Beach

We will stay here tonight then get up early to head north toward Guayabitos tomorrow.  It has been a pretty easy, peaceful day with the temperature around 85 and we will soon be treated to the nightly show of the sun making it's last appearances for the day as it disappears into the orange glow on the western horizon of the Pacific Ocean.  Ciao for now!

Bret, Tallen, Karla, Aven
SV Liahona

Sunday, March 22, 2015

March 22, La Cruz

Welcome aboard Tallen, Karla and Aven!  Whoot Whoot!  Pretty stoked to have at least part of the fam down to visit.  They flew in at 4pm today and we will probably head northward a little tomorrow.  Today has been a pretty easy going day with not much happening or not much to report.  The weather is super nice.  Today it is 85 degrees with blue skies and a nice breeze.  Here in Banderas Bay the water is a comfortable 77 degrees.  This afternoon I took care of a few things here on board and also got around to installing retractable wheels on the dink which will make beach landings SOOO much easier.  After the project was completed I took 'er ashore and gave it a tester, easily dragging the dinghy out of the water and up the hard packed sand by myself.  So I'm pleased with the results.

Not much else to report so I will sign off for now and hit ya'll up tomorrow.

Cap'n Bret
SV Liahona

Saturday, March 21, 2015

March 21, La Cruz

Sorry I missed yesterday's email.  Dave, Stephanie and I moved the 9 short miles down from Punta de Mita on the far northeastern shore of Banderas Bay here to La Cruz late this morning.  Puerto Vallarta is about another 9 miles to the east from here in the same bay.  The water is not the clear blue that we find in other places that are far away from big cities but it is pretty warm and there is a lot of whale activity in the bay right now as the humpbacks and other species have now calved and are getting ready to make the trip north toward Alaska.

It was AWESOME having Dave and Stephanie aboard and I was sad to see them packing their stuff this morning to get ready to fly back home this afternoon.  I think Dave's brain is more full of foreign material than back in the day when he was studying for the bar! lol.  Actually, when he arrived a week ago he was completely lost with all of the new terms, methods and nuances of sailing and today when he left, he left with a pretty clear picture of the game and spoke sailing pretty fluently. ha.  Thanks for the company guys and I look forward to the next visit!

I'm back to the singlehander business but it won't last long as I pick up Tallen, Karla and Aven tomorrow afternoon.  Can you say PUMPED?!!!  So stoked to see T3 and the Lyle girls.  We are definitely going to have some white sand, palm trees, Mexican fun!  Just sitting here on the anchor outside of Marina La Cruz there isn't too many exciting events to report so... 'til next time mis amigos!

NOTE...just a reminder because some of you are forgetting the protocol here...if and when you respond to this email or email me, PLEASE  delete the original email from me to you so that the only text being sent is your email to me.  This will keep the file size down and greatly speed up the process.  Thanks.

SV Liahona

Thursday, March 19, 2015

March 19, Bahia de Jaltemba

Today's sail to Bahia de Jaltemba was not a sail at all. haha  It was dead flat calm for the entire 5 hours.  However, we did see several whales, two of which were pretty close, maybe 200 yards away.  Fishing was awesome except for the fact that we didn't put anything on the deck. grr.  We had several hit, two of which cost us lures on the handlines that were snapped clean.

Jaltemba is a very cool little beach town tucked away at the base of the tropical mountains here on the Mexican Riviera. There are 3 or 4 distinct coves covered in white sand with colorful buildings lining the shore.  Taking the dinghy ashore we explored the town, had lunch and enjoyed strolling through the quaint little shops just a couple of streets off of the beach.  Actually we went into about 47 more shops than I would have if I were by myself but it was all good. Yes, Stephanie likes to shop the trinket tiendas. lol

The anchorage itself is a bit open to the swell so it is a bit rolly but not too bad.  Tomorrow morning we will head south to Punta de Mita which is the northern point of Banderas Bay which is home to Puerto Vallarta.  I get to see my sis, Aven and Tallen in just a few days so I'm pretty excited about that.

Speaking of sis, today is her birthday and I just wanted her to know how much I love and appreciate her.  Growing up my opinion might not been as favorable as it is at this stage in my life...lol...but age and time has shown me what an amazing person she is.  I love you Karla and I hope your birthday has been good and I hope you realize how many people love you and count on you amazingly loyal friendship.  Feliz Cumple!

Out for now.  Hasta manana.

Bret, Dave and Stephanie
SV Liahona

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

March 18, Matanchen Bay, San Blas

We left paradise, Isla Isabela, this morning at first light around 5:30am and headed southeast toward Matanchen Bay about 42 miles away.  We had excellent winds on the beam, smooth seas and it was an all around beautiful sail.  We did motor a fair amount today because we wanted to get to Matanchen Bay with enough time to play.  ----Break--- fishing report...we caught one yellow tail that we put into the freezer for sashimi, brought in some sort of a jack and had several other hits with one of those breaking a line and taking a prize lure.  About an hour out of San Blas we began seeing whales, not sure what variety.  We chased down a few and got somewhat close, maybe 50 yards or so but most were shy and when we headed their way they dove down out of site.

Upon arrival in Matanchen Bay, home of the longest wave break in the world, we launched the dinghy and went ashore to see if we could rent a couple of boards.  It was really weird, the place was like a ghost town with only a few palapa restaurants open for business.  I am not sure if we are out of season or what but we were unsuccessful in finding any boards so we elected to try to paddle into the small waves with the stand up paddleboard to catch a ride.  We were pretty successful at that and we played in the waves for a few hours with Stephanie showing her mad skills on a board riding off on the first wave that came her way.  The rides are pretty long here so we towed each other back with the dinghy which was almost as much fun as riding the waves.  haha.

This place is famous for biting insects so after our play in the waves we picked up anchor and moved far out into the bay away from shore to try to save ourselves.  So far so good.  The landscape here is completely different than what I have been seeing for the last several weeks.  The beaches are covered with palm trees and the mountains behind the beaches are covered with dense green vegetation.  Yes, we are officially tropical!

So all is well in the Mexico neighborhood aboard SV Liahona which is now practically captained by Dave as he continues to pick up quickly on the sailing game and enjoying the new freedoms of living life on the water with the wind powering you to wherever it is that you would like to go.  However, he was driving the dinghy amongst the surf here in the bay and definitely needs a little more behind the tiller time before he can be trusted with your loved ones. LOL.  Oh, water temp here...77 degrees.  No complaints.  Hasta manana my friends!

Bret, Dave and Stephanie
SV Liahona

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

March 17, Isla Isabel - The Galapagos of Mexico!

Welcome to Isla Isabel!  We arrived today around 10am and are so happy to be here.  When we left Cabo 2 days ago we started out with nice but brisk sailing for about 8 hours or so.  Then as night fell we found ourselves in sustained winds of 18-25 knots coming from directly where we were heading.  Grrr...who sent the wind Gods my itinerary and whoever it was next time please tell them to blow from BEHIND the boat!  Dang, it was a rough spell for about 20 hours.  After 10 hours or so the seas had time to build substantially and we found ourselves beating into 10-12' seas.  Not dangerous but ZERO fun!  Honestly, I felt crappy and had a splitting headache.  I have Dave and Stephanie aboard and they did amazing!  Stephanie felt kind of like I did but Dave was begging for more.  He is DA MAN!  Nobody officially got sick and donated any meals to the fish but it was extremely uncomfortable.  The wind finally abated around 6pm yesterday and the seas followed suit within 3-4 hours.  Last night we had near zero wind and calm seas and were delighted!

Arriving here at Isabel, it was all worth it.  A 48 hour passage that lead us to what is called "The Galapagos of Mexico".  Home of the Blue Footed Boobie, thousands of nesting Frigate birds and tens of thousands of Iguanas.  Our hike across one end of the island did not disappoint as we saw countless newly hatched, not out of the nest yet, Frigates, many Blue Footed Boobies sitting on eggs and so many large and small iguanas that we couldn't count them all.  The island is all volcanic rock with 200' cliffs going down to the water on most sides with a couple of small sandy beaches thrown in.  This is all wrapped up on an island of about 100 acres approximately 42 miles off the coast of mainland Mexico just southwest of Mazatlan.

The anchorage itself is pretty sketchy, strewn with rocks, some just below the surface and in pretty tight confines.  The bottom in the main anchorage is completely rock, large and small, and they say that this anchorage has swallowed more anchors than any other anchorage on the Mexican coastline.  I wasn't comfortable in the main anchorage so we pulled up anchor, very carefully and with much skill I might add, moved around the corner and threw our anchor down on a patch of sand just south of two large, volcanic rock pillars about 200 yards off of the main island.  The snorkeling is amazing with an abundance of fish in near perfectly clear waters and thousands of sea birds filling the skies above.  Oh, and for the water temperature report...drumroll please...here in the anchorage it is 77.7 degrees.  Pretty comfortable.

Dave and Stephanie are thoroughly enjoying the trip and Dave is a sailing sponge, soaking up all the info and picking up on things quickly.  Stephanie, however, did not get the memo that white people should really try that new invention called suncreen and after a day basking on the deck her whole body looks like Rudolph's nose.  Ouch, that is going to hurt.  They were a huge asset on the crossing and I was so happy they were with me to help.  We will sit here tonight then most likely move on to San Blas tomorrow which sits on the Mexican coastline about 42 miles to the southeast from here as we head south toward Puerto Vallarta over the next several days.  San Blas is home to the longest wave break in the world and we are hoping that the swell is right when we arrive.  San Blas is also famous for mosquitos and no-see-ums (nasty little biting critters that are about the size of the grain of sand that you can barely see and will leave you scratching for 2 weeks!).  We are hoping to anchor far enough off shore to avoid  that particular wildlife. ha.

Hope all is well on Terra Firma and we will update tomorrow.

Bret, Dave and Stephanie
SV Liahona

Monday, March 16, 2015

March 16, Passage south from San Jose del Cabo

This will be short because its rough and I've got a gnarly headache.  We are about 18 hours out from our destination.  All is well, everything on the boat is great too.  However, it has been rough.  18-25 knot winds and 10-12' seas until about 2 hours ago and it now seems to be settling down.  Weathermen suck! haha  Anyway, we will all be happy to arrive and drop the anchor.  Nobody has gotten sick, just feeling crappy.  Love to everyone. Til tomorrow.

Bret Mitchell
SV Liahona

Sunday, March 15, 2015

March 15, Passage to PV, day 1

This email is going to be pretty short because we are under way and I'm not a big fan of looking at a computer screen down below in the cabin in these rolly seas.  Dave, Stephanie and I left Cabo around 9:30 this morning for our passage to Isla Isabela which is a small island off of the Mexican coastline just north or Puerto Vallarta.  Early this afternoon we were surrounded by thunderstorms but were sailing in a reasonable 15-20 knot breeze but with super choppy seas.  Later in the afternoon it calmed down a bit and the ocean has calmed as well and we are currently motor-sailing at 6 knots towards our destination.  It should take us about 48 hours to make the 220 mile passage so we are expecting to arrive sometime early Tuesday morning.

Today we were treated to a very prolonged whale show that lasted about 45 minutes.  We were not super close but could easily see them jumping out of the water and the huge splash from their re-entry even though they were probably a mile away.

It is a bout 7:20pm, winds are about 5 knots and the seas are pretty calm.  I am hoping that it stays this way throughout the night.  Will update you tomorrow.  Ciao for now.

Bret, Dave and Steph
SV Liahona

Friday, March 13, 2015

March 13, San Jose del Cabo

The eagle has landed!  I arrived this afternoon in San Jose del Cabo at about 3pm today, a short 19 miles north of Cabo San Lucas on the east cape of the Baja peninsula.  I left Bahia Frailes this morning around 8:15am and had a great sail heading south in about 10 knots of wind.  Unfortunately the wind changed from it's normal northerly flow to coming from the south today.  So I had to tack a bit because my destination was directly upwind.  All good though as I only had about 28 miles to cover which I did in about 7 hours.

The theme lately...whales!  Lots and lots of whales.  Yesterday in anchorage I saw several whales 1-3 miles off in the distance pretty much all day long.  I didn't have any whales talking to me last night but today's passage made up for that.  During the sail I probably saw 15-20 whales through the course of the day.  I'm pretty sure all or most were humpbacks and most sightings were somewhat distant, maybe 1/2 to 1 mile away or so.  Many of them jumping almost completely out of the water and then many sitings of them just breaching seeing their massive head come out of the water to blow air and salt water then the curling of their backs and finally their massive tails vertically up out of the water to then either be slapped back down on the water or silently disappear without even as much as a splash like an olympic diver.  The highlight of the day was a pod of 5 or 6 humpbacks, all mature adults that were about the size of my boat, that were directly in front of the bow a mere 20 yards away!  Words can't even describe how magnificent these animals are.  The are huge...and graceful.  The 5 or 6 stayed within 20-30 yards of my bow or beam for about 5 minutes before heading off in another direction.  I was actually afraid I might hit one as I was under full sail and a quick diversion move to miss one was not possible.  I was able to capture some amazing GoPro footage of them while they were close.

I was also visited by a couple of large dolphins that played in the wake of the bow for about 10 minutes and have some pretty cool footage of them, in and out of the water, taken with my GoPro that was on an extension pole which put the camera within 2-3 feet of them while they were under the bow.  Pretty cool.  Yes, today was another day for the memory bank.  One to remember.

I am happy to be here in Cabo and have internet access.  I immediately Facetimed Tanner, Karla and Aven and it was SO good to talk to them.  I tried to call Tallen but the little man is tough to get a hold of. haha.  Well, another great day in the books and I'm stoked to have company aboard tomorrow.  Ciao for now.

SV Liahona

Thursday, March 12, 2015

March 12, Bahia Los Frailes

I have to start today's report off with an event that took place last night while I was sleeping.  Sleep came easy to me last night as yesterday's sail was quite long and there is plenty to do for one person to handle all of the necessary sail changes and trims, so I was sufficiently tired.  After watching a movie I went to bed around 8:30 pm and I was out.  In the middle of the night I was abruptly awaken by very unique, loud sounds.  I immediately recognized the sounds as I had the same experience happen about two weeks ago when I was anchored in Agua Verde.  It was the sound of whales.  Whales communicating with each other.  The sounds were easily heard and quite loud as they resonated through the hull of the boat.  Some were high pitched singing type sounds, like what you would hear on a National Geographic special about whales on the TV or internet.  Some of the sounds were low, grunting noises, almost guttural.  It was amazing and the sounds were so clear and loud that I thought they must have been within feet of the boat.  I grabbed a flashlight and ran up on deck, scanning the water nearby so I could see them.  I looked and looked, but nothing.  I went back down below to hear again the continued communication that was going on between at least two, if not several of them.  I listened for about five minutes or so then went up on deck again to see if I could hear them from the top side.  Nothing.  Going down below my hull continued to provide a clear path for their noises.  I was up for quite a while just listening to them, trying to imagine what they were saying to each other.  After about 45 minutes or so the sounds started fading and then within another 5 minutes I was left just listening to the lapping of the water on the sides of the hull.  Wow!  How amazing is that?  I was then and continue to be grateful for experiences like that.  To be that close to something so amazing.  I have no idea how close or far they were but it seemed as if they were only feet away, a few yards at most.  Although it could have been miles, who knows.

Just so you don't think that I'm totally out of my mind or have crazy dreams I watched several whales today just at the edge of the bay, maybe 1/2 mile away.  One was a large humpback with a calf.  Both the larger one and the calf jumped carelessly out of the water several times.  A couple other whales were a little farther away but I could easily see them breach and blow huge plumes of air mixed with salt water like steam bellowing out of a train in an old western movie.  Pretty cool stuff.

Down on the southern cape, or southern tip of the Baja peninsula, it definitely has more of a Pacific Ocean feel as apposed to the Sea of Cortez.  Long ocean swells roll through and you can hear them crashing on the beach.  The surf isn't big here but it would definitely be a challenge getting the dinghy ashore, especially by myself.  Later this afternoon after I did a few chores around the boat I took the paddle board over to where the sand and rocks meet on the northeast side of the bay.  The swell was breaking over the rocks and it looked like it might be rideable. It was a nice little left break and after getting the hang of catching a wave on a paddle board I caught a couple small waves and enjoyed the ride.  However, it was quite shallow and the bottom was all rocks and coral and after taking a little digger and scuffing along one of the rocks I decided that the paddle surfing might best be left for a more forgiving bottom...like sand. lol.

Tonight, if it stays calm, I am going to paddle over by where I attempted to paddle surf and see if there are any creepy crawlies out.  Hopefully I can find some so Dave and Stephanie can be properly introduced to boat life with a fresh lobster dinner.  You never know. Tomorrow I will set sail to San Jose del Cabo, a short 28 miles or about 5 or 6 hours away.  I met a couple here in Frailes on a Bavaria 42 that are heading that way tomorrow as well so we will probably buddy boat.  Adios from Bahia Frailes. Until next time...

SV Liahona

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

March 11, Bahia Los Frailes

After a long 9 hour sail I am safely anchored in Bahia Los Frailles.  Today was about a 48 mile run from Muertos to Frailles and I must say that it was probably the best sail I have ever had.  I pulled anchor at 6am and pointed the Liahona southbound.  The winds were light so I ran the motor with the Reacher out front grabbing the light air.  Within about an hour the wind picked up to between 4-6 knots from dead off the stern.  I figured I could use that and I had the whole day so I shut down the diesel burner and went with the main and the reacher, my light wind headsail.  Due to several reefs that lay about 2 miles offshore I broad reached away from the coastline for an hour or two then turned to my heading and went dead downwind wing on wing with the main on one side and the reacher on the other.  Sailing like that requires that you pay attention so that you keep the wind nearly directly behind you.  However, with only 4-6 knots of apparent wind the Liahona was sluffing along at about 3-4 knots which is dang respectable.  At one point around 11 or so it got so light that my speeds were just below 3 knots and I considered cranking up the motor but decided to stick it out.  Around 11:30 I was rewarded with a brisk 8-12 knots from the stern and the wind had me going about 6.5 knots.  Sweet!

Just about the same time I saw a huge spout from a whale off in the distance maybe a mile or so away.  Over the next half hour I watched as the whale breached several times, spouted many more and also was completely out of the water twice, landing with an enormous splash like someone had thrown a bus into the water.  I think it was a humpback but from that distance I can't be sure.  About an hour later I saw a strange fin just off the side of the boat.  It was a marlin.  I was pumped and hoping he was hungry as I had my lines out.  He wasn't interested but about a half hour later I saw another Marlin only 20' off the side of the boat that then swam back toward my lures but he wasn't fooled either.  Dang!  Pretty awesome though to see those amazing fish so close even though I wasn't able get any action on the lures today.

For a good part of the day I sailed with another boat that I tried to hail on the radio but had no luck.  He left Muertos after I did and in the calmer winds of the morning when I was pure sailing he was motorsailing and caught me.  Upon catching up he put out a genoa to compliment his main and at that point must have turned off the motor.  He was a single hander as well and we were quite close to each other for a few minutes before my girl decided she had enough and we gradually pulled away.  He pulled into the anchorage about an hour behind me.  Nice guy named Scott from San Diego.

There are a bunch of campers on the beach here at Frailles, the highway must be reasonably close.  That is about it for today but it was indeed a great day pure sailing for over 8 hours today.  I now sit about 28 miles north of San Jose del Cabo where I need to be to pick up Dave and Stephanie on the 14th.  Super pumped to have some friends aboard for a while.  L8R...'til tomorrow.

SV Liahona

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

March 10, Ensenada de los Muertos

Another day is closing on the Sea of Cortez.  A pretty relaxing day here in Muertos with the temperature around 85 today and the winds out of the northwest at about 15 knots.  I woke up this morning to loud slapping noises on the water.  As I poked my head out of the companionway I found the source of the loud slaps.  Several rays were jumping 3-5 feet out of the water, summersalting in the air and slapping down with a loud thwack.  There were probably 7 or 8 of them within a 100 yards of the boat.  The show went on for about 10 minutes before they either got tired or had completed whatever it was that they were trying to accomplish.  I have heard that rays do that to rid themselves of parasites that they didn't want giving a free ride to.  Whatever the case, I enjoyed the show, which by the way, is not uncommon, something I see pretty much every day.

Around 11am I went for a run out some dirt road leading to who knows where.  I simply followed it for about 20 minutes or so and then turned around and ran on back home.  On the way back a couple of fishermen towing their panga passed by and looked at me with that look of bewilderment like "what in the heck are you doing out here"? lol  I went back to the boat, had some lunch then decided to go in to the beach restaurant to have a look at the menu to see if they could entice me for dinner.  I decided not. As  I was getting back in the dinghy on the beach a panga with two fisherman pulled up with their catch from the morning.  9 sharks, ranging from about 4' to about 9'.  3 Hammerheads, 4 Blues and 2 Makos.  Wow, not exactly what you want to see right before you head out to do a little snorkeling...alone!  lol.  Well, I went out anyway, of course, and had a really nice snorkel off the reef to the north of the anchorage.  It was beautiful.  The water was super clear and there was a ton of fish.  I was also doing a little prospecting for the possibility of bugs later tonight.  Although the dive was really nice I wasn't super impressed by the possibility of lobster there.  Or was it the sharks lingering in the back of my mind on a night dive alone?  lol.  Either way, I think I will pass tonight.  I will get the dinghy all put away ready for an early departure tomorrow morning around 6am headed for Bahia Frailles which lies about 46 miles to the south.

I did get some company later this afternoon as another sailboat just anchored beside me about a half an hour ago.  They are flying a Canadian flag so maybe later I will stop by and say hi.

Ciao for now,
Capn Bret
SV Liahona

Monday, March 9, 2015

March 9, Ensenada de los Muertos

A 7 1/2 hour romping downwind sail in about 15-20 knots of wind with following seas has landed me in Ensenada de los Muertos at around 3:30pm today.  It was a pretty frollicky day busting downwind to Muertos and got a little uncomfortable after after 1 pm or so as the following seas had built up as a result of the constantly brisk NW winds.  The seas were not huge, maybe 4', but when they are right behind you it makes for a rolly ride.  At about 2 pm or so I saw a sailboat hugging close along the shore going north beating into the seas and the winds.  I tried to hail them on the radio but heard nothing.  That was pretty late in the day and they still had probably 30 miles or more to go to get to LaPaz or Playa Bonanza. They definitely won't be getting in before dark. I was glad I was not them. ha.

My trip today covered about 43 miles and took me through the Ceralvo Channel, notorious for it's strong currents and winds that funnel between the 4.5 mile gap that lies between mainland Baja and Isla Ceralvo.  I was lucky that mother nature and I were both traveling down the same road together.  Ensenada de los Muertos (Bay of the Dead) is a small little place tucked in behind a nice, rocky point with excellent protection from wind and waves from the north to northwest.  I'm  not sure if there is a little town here or not but there are definitely some houses along the east and west ends of this mile long bay.  I am anchored over excellent holding sand in about 25' of water.  Water, by the way, that is now showing a nice 72 degrees.  Things are warming up my friends.

And speaking of warming up, let's move on to the fishing report.  Yes, there has been a change in the fishing report starting today! ha.  At about 1pm I hooked into a small, maybe 5 lb., Bonita on one of the handlines.  Bonita are super red meat and pretty nasty so he got to live to swim another day.  However, my next victim was a medium sized, maybe 4', male Dorado.  Hell ya!  He was caught on the rod and reel and I owe a big thanks to my numnber 1 son Tanner because I caught this tasty meal on the cedar plug that Tanner gave me for Christmas.  Thank you T-Man1!  Gonna be some fresh eats tonight!  My third victim turned out to not be a victim at all. Rather he actually turned the tables on me and I became the victim.  I don't know what it was but it was something pretty big.  It was on the other handline and I say it was big because when it hit it straight opened up the stainless steel split ring that holds the lure on the leader.  Adios $20 Rapala!  Would have liked to at least put some eyes on that one.


So that is it for today.  I am happy to be here in Muertos, even though I'm the only boat anchored here.  From here I have another 45ish mile hop to Frailles on the east cape then another 30 mile hop to get to San Jose del Cabo.  I don't need to be into Cabo until Saturday so I may sit here a day or two depending on what the weather looks like later in the week.  Ciao for now!

SV Liahona

Sunday, March 8, 2015

March 8, Playa Bonanza

Beautiful Playa Bonanza, Isla Espiritu Santo

Still here at Playa Bonanza just doing chores that need to be handled, relaxing and biding my time before I head south towards Cabo on Tuesday.  Pretty chill day today, literally and figuratively speaking.  I woke up to overcast skies which have kept the temperatures down in the low 70s all day.  I believe it is supposed to clear up later in the afternoon tomorrow.  Today I started my project of cataloging the boat.  You are probably scratching your heads thinking "cataloging what"?  There are a myriad of cabinets, cubby holes, compartments and lockers on a boat. No space is wasted.  Living aboard you have nearly everything that you have at home, just in smaller quantities and sizes. Tools, lubricants, glues, sealants, cleaning supplies, food stores, electronics, manuals for all the equipment, toys, games, diving and fishing gear, clothing, dishes, pots, pans, flatware, knife sets, sail inventory, sail repair kits...and the list goes on.  Some items are stored in obvious places, many things are not.  They are stored where they fit the best or where it suits that item best.  Like fresh fruits and vegetables are stored under the setee (couch and dining room bench) down low in the boat, below the water line and against the hull where it is the most cool so they will last longer.  Needless to say, sometimes finding that item that you are looking for can turn out to be a real treasure hunt and sometimes your are successful and sometimes not.  So I came up with a number/lettering system for every cabinet, cubby hole, closet and possible storage spot on the boat.  Every item, whether it be a jar of salt, a specific tool or a snap shackle gets logged into my iPad with it's corresponding cabinet or locker number.  Starting from the bow and moving aft all the port storage areas are numbered with odd numbers and all the starboard side areas are even numbers.  Then they are also assigned a letter based on the elevation of the cabinet. A for head height (top shelf), B for anything around chest height, C for storage around the waist area (behind seats or beds) and D for anything on the floor level at your feet. When you need to find something you simply search for it on the iPad app and it will give you the corresponding numbered space where it can be found. Viola!  It is a major undertaking and most likely will not be completed for at least several weeks and then it constant updating when things are moved to a different location.  However, it is well worth the effort when you need that special little gadget or morsel of food.

Clam chowder report.  So I added the sauteed clams to my cheddar potato soup last night.  I wish I could report that it was amazing. haha  It wasn't awful but I obviously don't know how to prepare clams properly.  First mistake was that I obviously did not let the clams sit long enough in the bucket for them to spit out all the sand because my chowder was definitely a bit grindy/crunchy.  Secondly, when I sauteed the clams in the skillet before adding them to the soup I added some salt and pepper.  Umm...note to self...no need for added salt with clams.  The soup was ok but definitely too salty (that is saying a lot coming from me! haha), pretty gritty and the clams were like rubber.  So chalk that one up to the "thumbs down" category.  Oh well, it was fun trying.  I was thinking that my dear, sweet Marne, having lived in Coos Bay for several years, can probably help me out in the clam preparation department.

Today there are two groups of campers on the beach so I took a paddle over to say hi.  One group of 18, several of which are small children, are from Montana and the other small group of 4 are from north of Seattle. All very nice people and it was nice to chat with gringos for a spell.

For the last note of the day, it's also a "thubms down" moment, I am having to run my generator today because I watched a movie last night and spent a fair amount of time on the computer and being that it is overcast today my solar panels are not going to be able to get me back to 100% so I'm wasting some fossil fuels getting my battery bank up to speed.  That is it for today my friends.  Hasta manana.

SV Liahona

Saturday, March 7, 2015

March 7, Playa Bonanza

Still here at Playa Bonanza.  It is beautiful, quiet and I'm the only boat here.  Plus there is still more to do here that I haven't gotten to yet. The first item of business today was to check a couple more things off of the to-do list.  So today I continued with upgrading my running rigging.  I replaced the boom vang line and the two main preventer lines with new 3/8" Novabraid XLE.  However, I had to do yet another double braid splice.  My braiding skills are improving because this one only took me about 45 minutes and it came out super bueno.  The blister on my forefinger can attest that it isn't easy to get the line all smooth and "milked out" once the braid is complete.

After the line projects were done I decided to go for a trail run which again turned into more of a rock scramble/crawl up the side of the mountain.  Both Alberto and El Pelon said there were mountain goats in there are and they see them quite often.  So on this morning's run I had a mission to scour the rocky hillsides until I spotted a group of them.  After scrambling to the top of the first knoll, which was maybe 500' above sea level I stopped on top to catch my breath and also to scan the surrounding hillsides.  I couldn't see them but I heard them off in the far distance so I ran across the ridgeline in the direction that I heard their bellowing.  It wasn't long before I spotted one standing on top of a large boulder on the ridgeline in front of me.  I counted a total of 11 in the group.  As I ran in their direction they scampered up the ridge and around the corner.  I was pretty tired by then but was enthralled with these goats. lol.  We played a little hide and seek in the rock strewn hills for about 45 minutes or so before I decided that I was definitely tiring of the game much quicker than they were.  It was also clearly apparent that they were much quicker and definitely more sure footed navigating over and through the large granite boulders that made up this picturesque hillside above Playa Bonanza so I watched as they gracefully bounded off over the next ridge.  The last I saw of them was two smaller ones that were on a large boulder and leaped probably 15' down an onto another boulder and then they were gone.  Amazing animals.

After the run I came back to the camp on the beach where I left my paddleboard and El Pelon asked if I had any ice.  I told him I had a bag left in the freezer and we negotiated a trade for some fresh vegetables that he had plenty of in exchange for the ice that would keep some of the meats cold that he had in his ice box.  For lunch I added some thick, ruby red sliced tomatoes to my daily sandwich and enjoyed every bite!

The last item on the checklist today was to check into the Chocolata clams situation.  After a brief description of their whereabouts from El Pelon I paddled into the area he pointed out equipped with my mask, snorkel and a bucket.  It wasn't long before I was digging up some giant clams from the silty white sand bottom in about 15' of water.  Most of the clams were large white pismo type clams but there were definitely some brown Chocolatas in there as well. So currently they are in a bucket of water on the back deck, I am waiting for them to spit out the sand before I clean them.  Then I will saute them in garlic and add them to my potato cheese soup that I have leftover from the other night. Sounds pretty tasty.  I hope it turns out as good as it sounds.

Fresh clams

Well it is only 3pm here but I feel like I have had a full day.  I'm going to do some reading in my Harmony on the High Seas book, clean the clams when they are ready and then start on some fresh clam soup dinner.  Hope all is well up north.  Until tomorrow my landlocked friends!  Ciao for now.

SV Liahona

Friday, March 6, 2015

March 6, Playa Bonanza

The winds in the lower portion of the Sea of Cortez have finally somewhat abated.  Today was a really nice day with the winds out of the north from 5-10 knots.  It is a little bit stronger now but probably around 10-12 knots.  Earlier this morning my pal Alberto, the Baja Adventures camp dude, left and was traded out with Victor, or as his friends call him...Pelon (melon head). lol  After getting a few things done this morning I decided that today's exercise was a paddle around the bay so I started out with going over to the beach and introducing myself to Melon Head.  A younger guy, kind of chubby and no hair, but he seems like a nice guy.  He said they won't have clients in until Sunday so he is basically just watching over the camp.  Tough job. ha.  After visiting with Victor I paddled out to the end of the point...into the wind. ugh.  It took me about 35 minutes to paddle the 1 mile into the wind and then I turned around and cruised downwind and the same mile took me just over 15 minutes.  The paddle was super cool as I was paddling over crystal clear, aqua blue water and was able to see the reef, coral, sand and various fishes as I passed over them.  That view beats a gym any day!

After lunch I set about to start replacing some of my running rigging.  The running rigging are all of the lines/ropes that control the sails which includes hoisting, trimming or furling.  All told it took me about 3 hours to replace the main sheet and the main outhaul lines.  I know it doesn't sound like much but the outhaul line passes through the inside of the boom so I had to sew the end of the new line to the end of the old in order to pull it through and be sure that it didn't separate somewhere in the middle of the boom.  It is not something you want to take a chance on by just taping them together.  The main sheet didn't require me to sew the ends together as it doesn't pass through any unreachable voids like the boom.  However, I did have to put an eye splice in the end of it where it attaches to the boom and that is a serious project for a beginner like myself.  Eye splicing double braid line is seriously complicated and to do the one splice took me about an hour and 15 minutes.  Whoever figures this stuff out for the first time anyway?  If you saw what was entailed, you would be impressed.

Now it is about 5pm or so and I'm getting ready to put another meal on the table.  I think tonight I will finish off that last lobster from Los Gatos along with some fried spuds and poblano peppers in garlic.  Before Alberto left he paddled over in his kayak and was telling me that there are Chocolatas (large brown clams) right under the boat.  I didn't get around to it today but I think tomorrow I will take a dive and see if I can grab a few.  I have some leftover cheese, potato soup that would greatly be enhanced if I threw in some fresh clams.  Sounds good anyway.  Will let you know tomorrow about the Chocolata situation.

That's about it for today.  I will be grilling that lobster watching the sun go down on another day in the Sea of Cortez.  Ciao for now.

SV Liahona

Thursday, March 5, 2015

March 5, Playa Bonanza, Isla Espiritu Santo

I am the lone boat just off of the nearly 2 mile long white sand beach of Playa Bonanza on the southeastern end of Isla Espiritu Santo.  The winds were blowing steady at about 20+ knots all night long and have continued through today.  As I look through the binoculars out to the open water to the east I can easily see the "white buffaloes" (white caps in a rough sea) romping southward before the strong north winds.  It is a bit rolly here in the anchorage but the shore and mountains to the north and west of me along with the shallow, good holding sand bottom keeps me comfortably safe.

Around noon today I threw the paddle board in the water and paddled the short 1/4 mile or so to shore with my trail shoes and camera in my backpack hoping to do a little trail run to the other side of the island.  The Baja cruising guide talks of a trail that leads from this beach over to the west side of the island to Bahia San Gabriel, about 2 miles each way.  As I approached the beach I spotted a man sitting under a small tree/bush and after landing I walked over to him and we began to chat.  He is a guide here on the island for a company called Baja Adventures and stays on the island for 10 days taking care of clients who come and go.  After the 10 days he goes home to LaPaz for 3-4 days to be with his family and then comes back here to care for the client who come to kayak, sailboard, hike, dive and do whatever else it is that they do here.  After a brief visit I wiped the sand off of my feet, put on my Cascadia trail shoes and jaunted off to the other side of the island.  Baja is definitely a desert environment and I enjoyed the beauty of red rock cliffs, large cactus and various thorny shrubs that lined the not so well marked trail.  My paddle back to the boat into 20+ knots of wind was a bit challenging but topped off the day's workout nicely.

Before lunch I treated myself to a sun warmed, fresh water shower on deck.  Since then I have just been bouncing between leisurely reading and various small projects.  While I read I ran the watermaker for about an hour and topped off the tanks while the new array of solar panels did it's job of running the equipment and keeping the batteries full.

According to the weather reports this norther should start to settle down over the next two days.  I will be 3 to 4 days of day sailing to get down to San Jose del Cabo where I pick up Dave and Stephanie on the 14th.  I have been considering going in to LaPaz for a couple of days as it is only about 4 hours away but not really sure if I will or not.  I'm not really a big fan of the city life and other than grabbing a few more fresh fruits and vegetables, there is really nothing there I need.

Question for all...I have been considering having my sister post these updates on the blog...what do you think?  A waste of time or a good idea?  Unfortunately there are no pictures to go with all of this writing, there is just no way of uploading pics unless I have internet, which obviously I don't.  Well, I guess that will do for the report from my windy hide-a-way here in Playa Bonanza.

SV Liahona

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

March 4, Isla Espiritu Santo

Looks like we are going to have a little wind event here for the next couple of days so I am going to move around to the other side of the island for better protection.  It was pretty rolly here on the NW side of the island.  I went in to say hello to my kayaker neighbors last night and took them a fresh batch of Kahlua brownies which was a BIG hit. lol.  Super nice people, all from Canada down here for 7 days kayaking around the Loreto and LaPaz area.  At about 8pm I headed back to the boat and we had a huge swell pushing in here.  It was big enough that at just the right time I stepped directly from the dinghy to the back deck without the ladder. For those that have not been onboard, that's normally about a 4' hop that requires 3-4 steps up the ladder.  Getting the dinghy up on the davits with that swell was a major chore during which I thought one of the davits might actually break. Wow, not fun.

Today I have sunny skies and a light wind so I think I will move down to Bahia Bonanza on Isla Espiritu Santo which is on the SE side of the island and should be a good protection from the 15-20 knot NW winds that are expected on Thusday and Friday.  And last but not least...the lobster report.  I was all set and ready to go out and find some treasure last night but with 15 knot winds and a big swell coming into the anchorage, I bailed.  Way to rough.  Bummer.  Now I will never know if my previous scouting report was on track or out in left field. lol.

SV Liahona

March 4, Playa Bonanza, Isla Espiritu Santo

Well land lubbers here goes today's report. I said goodbye to my kayak friends and left Ensenada Grande this morning around 9am.  Wind was good blowing from the NW at about 9 knots.  Within 10 minutes of pulling anchor I turned the key off to the engine and I was under way with the main and the reacher doing about 5-6 knots.  But as luck would have it the wind died to about 4 knots and sometimes less.  I decided that I was in no hurry and had plenty of time to make the 21 miles south to the bottom end and southeast part of Isla Espiritu Santo so I just let 'er sail.  It was S L O W, sometimes only doing a knot or a little more.  There was another boat in front of me sailing as well and within no time Liahona had tracked her down and I was chatting with the older couple from 50' off of their port beam about 4 miles off shore.  The old guy captain was originally from Medford.  Sing along with me here..."It's a small world after all...". Crazy.  Anyway, after a short visit I sailed onward out in front of them and they soon turned more SW going to LaPaz this afternoon.

There is a reef off the end of Isla ES called San Lorenzo reef and there is a channel in between it an mainland Baja that was about 3 miles out of the way so after careful inspection of the charts I decided to cut in between the San Lorenzo reef and the bottom of Isla ES.  Luckily I was crawling along at about 2 knots and over sand because it got a little sketchy as I was only in about 15' of water under full sail.  Eeek.  Little sketch but I figured it was all sand, it was low tide and I was going a crawling pace so if somehow the charts were wrong and I rubbed the bottom I could wait a couple of hours and get outta there. haha.  Anyway, it turned out fine and all it cost me was was a few more grey hairs. lol.

Playa Bonanza is a 2 mile long, slight crescent shaped bay with all white sand.  Ya, it doesn't suck here either.  haha.  Oh...and the big news for the day...wait for it...wait for it...the water temp has officially risen above 70 degrees!  Nice!  I talked with a cruiser on the ham radio this morning that is in Puerto Vallarta and he said the water temp there is 80.  That sounds pretty delicious!

Today's fishing report...same!  Nada! Zip. Zilch. Zero.  WTH?  Good thing I have food aboard. haha.  Anyway, this email is pretty long so I better say adios.

SV Liahona

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

March 3, Isla San Francisco

Well kids...I am safely anchored here at Isla San Francisco about a 5 hour sail north of La Paz.  The last half of the day turned out quite nice with a gentle 8-10 knot breeze.  With the reacher and the main out and the motor quiet I was cruising along at about 4-5 knots all the way into the anchorage.  I got skunked again on the fishing scene but I'll keep trying.  Just on today's 7-8 hour run the water temp went from around 65ish to 69ish...it's feeling better. ha  I wish I could send a pic of this anchorage, it is beautiful.  When I arrived I dropped the paddle board in the water for a little daily exercise and paddled all the way around this crescent shaped bay that is lined with white sand beaches and famous for its puka shells.  Paddling along I could see the fish swimming along the sand below me through the aqua waters.  Ok, ya...I'm not hating it here. lol

Once I got the anchor down I had an important task to sort out...the LP gas situation.  It was actually easier than I thought.  After a little testing it indeed was the solenoid so I pulled it out of the loop all together and plumbed the stove direct to the tank via the high pressure valve.  All good, it works perfectly.  I do need to get another solenoid because it is like a safety valve, if there is a leak, it shuts off the flow.  For now I just have to make sure and shut off the valve at the tank just to be safe...even though I checked all of the joints and there are no leaks.

Ok, don't be hatin' but to celebrate such a nice place I busted out one of the two lobsters I snagged back at Los Gatos.  On the barbie, basted in garlic butter with a side of garlic spuds and poblano peppers.  It didn't suck!  haha.  I'm definitely not alone here, there are 11 other boats in the bay with me.  The bay is huge though and there is plenty of room.  Actually, this place could hold 4-5 times as many boats easily so its not like we are stacked on top of one another.  Just others out doin' the same thing...trying to enjoy the beauty here in the Sea of Cortez on a very relaxed basis.

Well, that concludes a pretty darn good day.  Hope all is well back on the homefront.  Definitely missing Marne and my family!

SV Liahona

March 3, Ensenada Grande, Isla Espiritu Santo

Today was a short hop from Isla San Francisco south to Ensenada Grande on Isla Espiritu Santo.  A short 21 miles which took me just about 4 hours. When I woke up this morning it was raining again and rained for about the first 3 hours of my sail today. What's up with that?  ha. And calling it a sail is definitely a stretch.  It was dead calm so I motored until about the last hour then I threw out the Reacher in about 8 knots of wind and motor sailed on into the anchorage.  Fishing report...skunked again!  I must have not gotten the memo that all the fish life in the Sea of Cortez are on an indefinite fast!  Seriously though...how long can you troll lines before you at least come across that really stupid or really hungry fish?
Ensenada Grande, Isla Partida

The anchorage is...I know you have heard this before...amazingly beautiful.  There are several little inlet coves surrounded by striated, sandstone cliffs with a small patch of white sand at the end.  I wish I could send a pic or two.  I went for a trail run, more like a rock climb/scramble, up to the top to the hill/mountain and looking down on the anchorage with the turquoise waters over the white sand bottom was crazy beautiful.  Then I took the dinghy out for a spin and an exploratory dive to see if I could locate an area that might have a few "bugs" (lobsters) down in the crevasses that I might exploit tonight. lol.  I definitely found a few prospective sites and I will check it out after dark.  I will let you know in tomorrow's email if I was successful or if the lobsters are on the same plan as the fish.

When I came back to the boat, btw, I'm anchored here all by myself, there was a gaggle of kayakers paddling into the cove.  Guess I won't be alone tonight. haha.  I hope they are all tired from paddling all day and they don't stay up all night partying. There are about a dozen of them.  I think that wraps up the report for today.  I am eating lentil soup and have a batch of Kahlua browines in the oven...I thought I would take some over to my new cove-mates the kayakers.  I am not sure if I am going to move on tomorrow or stay put a day or so.  We are supposed to get a norther blow through over the next couple days.  I will see how that goes and how strong it is.

Oh, btw, if there is anyone that doesn't really want to get this email, almost daily, then let me know and I will take you off the list.

SV Liahona

Monday, March 2, 2015

March 2, Los Gatos

The sandstone cliffs of Los Gatos

I woke up last night to very strange sound in the Sea of Cortez...rain.  That just doesn't happen very often but the Liahona sure liked the fresh water bath. It was completely overcast this morning in Los Gatos anchorage and when I arose this morning around 6:30am the sunrise was off the charts! Amazing.  I listened to the nets on the ham radio this morning, got the weather and checked in.

Today's passage of about 40 miles to Isla San Francisco looks to be pretty quiet.  I pulled anchor around 8:30 and pointed her south in a light breeze coming from the SW.  I enjoyed a nice, light wind sail this morning and then around 10am the wind totally died and I decided to burn some fossil fuels.
I am currently about 28 miles north of my destination motoring along at about 6.2 knots on a perfectly flat sea.  It's pretty peaceful but I wish I wasn't listening to the motor. lol  In the cooler waters that we have now, about 65 degrees, the fishing is pretty dead.  I have been dragging lines now for about 5 days and haven't had a single hit.  Bummer.  Hoping that will pick up as I move south into warmer waters.  I did grab a couple lobster yesterday late afternoon  and I'm looking forward to that little feast tonight.

Last night while I was cooking on the stove it decided to shut off.  Hmm. Wasn't sure what to make of that.  After scratching my head for quite some time I finally relegated myself to finishing the cooking on the BBQ attached to the rail on the back deck.  Later in the evening I pulled out my Nigel Calder book to see if I could determine the problem and I'm pretty sure the solenoid that opens and shuts the gas off from the tanks has gone bad.  When I get to Isla SF this afternoon I think I can bypass the solenoid for now and get some gas to the stove then look for a new solenoid either in LaPaz or Cabo.

That's it for now.  Hope all is well in the land of the land lubbers. ha.  Ciao for now.

Capn' Bret
SV Liahona