Monday, November 30, 2015

Wind, wind, wind, and more wind

 The date on this gravesite was 1808, and it was in the middle of nowhere.

Our hike on a windy day.

The perpetual norther continues to blow.  Last night sleep count for either of us...ZERO, or close to it.  We are well protected here in Bahia Cardonal but with the boat sailing on the anchor with gusts up to 30 knots all night, it is very difficult to sleep.  Today has been another day of wind gusting into the low 30s.  Sunny this morning but this afternoon it is overcast.  We thought it was supposed to be warm in Mexico!  With the winds so blustery we just hang out below all day watching Breaking Bad, playing rummy cube or whatever. Today we did sneak in a nap which was very needed.  Later this morning we had 3 other boats pull in, the last two days we were the loan rangers.  

The wind is predicted to continue in the 20-30 knot range for another 3-4 days so here we sit.  Not exactly a day in paradise but I'm guessing someone reading this post might have a worse story than ours...just maybe.  Until next time.

SV Liahona
Bret and Marne

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Heavy winds from hurricane Sandra

 Nice hike to the top

 El Cardonal, a beautiful anchorage.

We were the lone boat in the anchorage

Last night was not one that provided for a good night's sleep.  The wind wasn't howling but it did stay in the 15-20 knot range and by sometime in the wee hours of the morning there was quite a refractive swell bouncing around in various directions through the anchorage.  By the time we got up around 6:30am 2 or 3 boats had already picked up anchor looking for more protection from the wind and swell.  We finally decided to move to another spot and moved around the corner to a small, one boat, anchorage but after setting the anchor in the narrow cove I knew that sleep would evade me again as I would be worried about a wind shift that could put us closer to the rock wall on the north side.

So we picked up the anchor and decided to make the short hop around the corner to El Cardonal.  It felt like we were on the Oregon coast.  The wind was howling in the mid to high 20s and it was raining sideways.  Wet and cold we went outside the cove into the larger swells and stronger winds but fortunately it is only about 3 miles so we weren't out there long.  El Cardonal is a very long cove with a shallow sand bottom and plenty of room to swing with any wind shifts.  So we dropped the anchor, let out about 150' of chain, secured the snubber and went below to warm up.  

All afternoon the wind was pretty boisterous blowing around 10-15 knots but with sudden gusts into the low 30s.  Because the anchorage is well protected the sea state was and is pretty mild with very small, white capping swells but not large enough to make it uncomfortable.  However, with the strong gusts blowing through it leans the boat over and straightens out the anchor chain and when it hits the end of the chain it turns and heads the other way.  We call it "sailing on the anchor".  Not really fun but there is really nothing we can do about it.

The good thing is that we are securely anchored and we don't have to deal with rolling swell so we have just locked ourselves down below watching movies and snacking on Marne's delicious no bake cookies all day.  High winds are expected over the next several days so it looks like we are going to be on lock down for a while.  Hurricane Sandra has all but died but the effects of her weather patterns are definitely being felt.

That is about it from what is supposed to be paradise for today.  It's time to sit down to Marne's Thanksgiving leftovers.  Last night she cooked up a doosy post Thanksgiving feast with chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing and green beans with ham (bacon was not in the fridge but the ham did just dandy).  Until next time.

The windblown SV Liahona
Bret and Marne

Friday, November 27, 2015

Hurricane Sandra Update

Good morning everyone.  Just wanted to give an update about Hurricane Sandra which is now due west of Puerto Vallarta, heading north.  We, with all of the other cruisers, are very well informed about the weather on a daily basis and have been watching the developments of this storm and it's anticipated direction.  It is expected to move through the southern crossing, which is from Cabo to PV, sometime tomorrow afternoon and make landfall on the Mexican coastline late tomorrow near Mazatlan. 

We are very safely anchored on the islands just north of La Paz and will stay put until the storm has dissapated.  We are seeing some long reaching affects from the storm as we had some mild gusts last night to about 20 knots, some rain and this morning we awoke to very dark gloomy skies reminding us of home.  Other than the inconvenience of being pinned down and not being able to make our crossing to mainland Mexico, all is well onboard and it looks like after hurricane Sandra is gone we will still have several more days of strong northerly winds which will keep us where we are.  The good news is that we have NO schedule so there is no rush to push through anything that might be even a little uncomfortable.

As a side note, Hurricane Sandra is the first hurricane this late in the season for over 55 years.  El Nino, a global weather effect caused by warmer than normal water temperatures in the Pacific ocean, is definitely affecting this years weather patterns.  An El Nino effect happens every few years and if you want to know more specifics Google El Nino and you will find plenty of information.  Also, if you are curious about what is happening with any tropical storm/hurricane you can Google National Hurricane Center to see maps of current conditions, expected storm tracks, etc.  

That's it for the quick update. Happy Black Friday!  Do yourself and your pocketbook a favor and stay away from the malls and just enjoy the day!  Ciao for now.

SV Liahona
Bret and Marne

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving from beautiful Ensenada Grande, BCS!

The Group on Turkey Day

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone back home and around the world!  Although we are missing family we are surrounded by our cruising family here in Ensenada Grande on Isla Partida just 15 or so miles north of La Paz.  There are about 10 boats anchored here and most of us are gathering on the beach around 2:30pm for a Thanksgiving dinner, cruiser style.  We do have turkey, potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, stuffing, green beans with bacon, home made rolls, pumpkin bars, Kahlua brownies (our specialty) and who knows what else.  For tables we have the paddle boards sitting on top of buckets in the sand.  It should be a party.

 You like our fine dining table?

 Not bad for a Thanksgiving on the beach.

 Bret and Sheri from SV Cake

Dan from SV Dazzler providing some entertainment

This morning we held the first annual Ensenada Grande Turkey trot, attended by three of us.  The event was complete with numbered bibs and a special rock found along the way for the winner.  Actually it wasn't much of a race and not really a run.  It was more like a rock scramble to the top of the mountain at the head of the bay, probably about 1000 vertical feet above the anchorage.  It culminated on top of the hill where there is a cross placed there in memory of a family from Colorado who lost several members of their family to various accidents over the last few years and who visit here and climb the hill annually to remember them.  More on that possibly in another post.

 The 3 participants, hoping for more next year!

 On top at the memorial

The views from atop the hill looking down upon the boats in the anchorage were nothing short of amazing and worthy of any postcard you have ever seen.  As we gazed below at the Liahona and the other boats we were truly grateful for the life that we are blessed to live and the great people that we cross paths with and share various frames with of the film of our life that is being produced every day in this beautiful country.  We hope that wherever you are and whomever you are with you enjoy the simplicity and beauty of the moment.  Smile, enjoy and be present for every breath, they are all gifts.  We love you all and send our hugs and love from south of the border.

SV Liahona
Bret and Marne

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Whale Sharks!!!

Marne and The Beast

Before leaving La Paz we wanted to make a run at seeing some whale sharks that winter here in the Bay of La Paz.  The plan was to head over yesterday and find a spot to anchor somewhere in the vicinity of their stomping grounds.  The winds were supposed to be light so anchoring on an "open roadstead" (no protection off of a 10 mile long beach) seemed reasonable and worth the risk.  The winds were not as light as we had hoped but not terrible.  As we entered the bay late yesterday afternoon we spotted one whale shark from the boat as we passed by.  Then after we anchored as the sun began to set we saw several more feeding along the surface a 100' or so from the boat.  It was fairly choppy so we didn't put the dinghy in the water and instead decided to wait until morning.  

The wind never got below 10-15 knots all night so it was quite choppy and rolly and did not make for a comfortable night sleep.  However, as we awoke around 6:30am the winds were down to around 5 knots and the water was much smoother so we dropped the motor on the dink and headed out slowly looking for the largest fish in the ocean, the whale shark.  We motored around slowly for over an hour before we spotted the first one as it swam along the surface.  Marne jumped in the water and swam with it for several minutes and even hitched a free ride for a bit hanging onto it's dorsal fin.  Saying she was pumped would be a MAJOR understatement.  

We cruised around for a couple of hours and then went back to the boat to get some lunch and do a sail repair.  It seemed as if the morning hours the whale sharks were moving around a fair amount and it was hard to stay with them.  So we spent about 2 hours aboard sewing the foot of the reacher sail that was in desperate need of attention.  

Around 3pm we went back out and quickly came upon a couple of large ones.  These were feeding on the surface and were content to have us hang around and enjoy their lunchtime with them.  For over an hour Marne and I were the only ones in the ocean with these gentle giants just enjoying their beauty and majesty.  All told we probably hung out with 8 or 10 of them, not all together, for about 2 hours laying on their back, riding along hanging onto their dorsals and generally just being amazed by it all.  There were definitely some big boys out there with the bigger ones in the 30-35' range.

We have about 50 GoPro videos that are nothing short of amazing.  We will try to upload a few short clips when we get internet again and then make a full video somewhere down the line.  After the whale shark fest we pulled anchor and headed a few short miles to Bahia Falsa just north of La Paz where we will stay the night, without rocking, and then head north to Isla Espiritu Santo where we plan to spend Thanksgiving with some friends.  If our plans go as we hope we will try to swim with the sea lions on Isla Los Islotes on Thanksgiving morning.  We definitely have much to be thankful for!  Words cannot describe how grateful we are to be here in the Sea of Cortez experiencing so much of God's amazing creations.  Wish only wish we could share it with everyone!

And that is a close to another "off the charts" day here aboard the Liahona.  Ciao for now.

SV Liahona
Bret and Marne

Monday, November 23, 2015

Sampling the fare in La Paz.

We have been in La Paz for about a week now.  Partly due to repairs that needed to be done and partly due to the weather as we wait for a break in what has been nearly constant northers for the last several weeks.  El Nino has definitely affected the normal weather patterns that are expected here in southern Baja and along the Mexican coastline.  Since 1960, there have been two recorded hurricanes in the month of November and as of today we have two tropical storms looming below the Baja Peninsula.  Very strange.

On the tapas tour with SV Cake and SV Dazzler

So as we wait for a favorable weather window to cross over to mainland Mexico we find ourselves here in La Paz with time to burn.  La Paz is a very interesting town and has a lot of history and diversity to enjoy.  The last several days we have been taking time walking the back streets searching out various boat parts and along the way finding some excellent "hole in the wall" food places.  Yesterday we stopped first at a small place selling tacos al pastor...delicious...then on to JJs Ribs...also amazingly delicious...then to cap off the evening we stopped by La Fuente for our daily dose of delicious ice cream!  The girls in La Fuente know us personally now as we have been there every day for the last week!

Mexico, honoring my birthday. haha

The group at The Shack

This afternoon we plan to move out to the north side of the Magote and anchor off the beach where the whale sharks hang out.  Supposedly there are about 30+ whale sharks in the bay right now.  We will spend a night or two there then move north out to the islands and spend Thanksgiving with SV Cake, SV Dazzler and a few other boats.  If there is not a boat large enough to host the pot luck Thanksgiving meal we will do it on the beach.

Ciao for now.

SV Liahona
Bret and Marne

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Repairs in La Paz.

 Tearing apart the high pressure pump, only a part of the project. 
This picture does not show 1/10th of parts scattered along 3 benches.  I wish I had taken more pics.

For those of you that follow us via ham radio email we apologize for the lack of communications. Getting out via ham radio right here in La Paz is not possible because of all of the electronic noise due to the city.  The flip side is that we have internet, fresh fruits and vegetables, lots of boat friends surrounding and plenty of resources available to fix anything on the boat that might not be functioning as it should.

Enter various chores and a couple major issues that needed to be resolved before leaving including the house battery bank and the water maker.  Battery banks on boats are like lipstick on a call girl... it might be good and beautiful for a long time or it might be gone in an instant. Less than one year ago every battery on the boat was replaced with new, a total of 11 type 31 batteries costing about $2000. They should have been golden for 3-5 years depending on the use.  One year later the 8 house batteries were on their way out already and even though they were still somewhat useable  we elected to replace them while we were in a place that had easy access to them instead of losing them entirely in some remote location along the Mexican coastline.  The sound of that goes something like this...CHA CHING!

Then on to the water maker.  Our Little Wonder water maker is now 12 years old, has about 2500 hours on it and besides some basic maintenance like oil and filter changes, it has just done it's job. The manufacturer suggests a rebuild around 1500 hours so I suppose there is no reason to complain if the unit has given up almost twice that much time of service.  With the help of a Little Wonder rep that lives here in La Paz we set about the task.  

Beginning to reassemble

After the unit was removed from the boat it took an entire day to tear it completely down and replace every seal, o-ring and other parts that showed wear.  Internally and externally there was not one bolt, seal or part that did not get removed, inspected and/or replaced.  With that many hours on the machine there were several problem areas that were addressed.  

Besides the obvious benefit of having a water maker that is now "like new" with many hours of service to give I received an education and know the intricate workings of this important piece of equipment.  It is back in the boat and working perfectly!  Our PPM (parts per million) that indicates water quality has gone from 780ppm to 365ppm!  Better than bottled water from the store!   This project made a slightly different sound.  It went more like CHA CHING CHA CHING CHA CHING.  
Rebuilt and re-installed on the boat.

Definitely not planned expenses but expecting the unexpected is something you must get used to living aboard.  

We had hoped to leave La Paz by now to head across to the other side but aside from projects, weather is keeping us here.  We have an El Nino year and it is definitely affecting our weather. Strong northers continue to blow through and we even have some tropical storms/hurricanes that have most cruisers sitting tight to see how they will develop, which is very unusual this late in the season.  We will most likely head out to the islands just north of La Paz for Thanksgiving and spend it there with friends on a couple other boats and wait for our opportunity to cross over to Mazatlan.

That's it for now, hope all is well on terra firma.  Ciao for now!

SV Liahona
Bret and Marne

Friday, November 13, 2015

Boisterous romp down to Espiritu Santo

We just rolled in (pun intended) from a very lively sail from Isla San Francisco 23 miles south to Isla Espiritu Santo.  We had a quite a group that moved south today as everyone has been holed up waiting out this last norther.  Today it was supposed to ease up quite a bit and then tomorrow settle.  After being out there we realized that the norther was not quite done yet. We had 6 or 7 boats all out there together.  You know what they say when there is more than one sailboat on the same part of the sea?  It's a race!  Luckily it was a fairly short sail because it was ROUGH!  18-30 knots of wind and confused seas with the big ones running in the 7-9' range.  Hang on the to the handrails Harold!  The wind was dead behind us which makes for difficult steerage and is definitely our slowest point of sail.  

So we elected to not run wing on wing and instead long jibed downwind on a deep broad reach.  We had to cover more distance than the other boats which were traveling on a rhumb line direct to the anchorage but we travel faster a little off the wind.  So out we went in what appeared the wrong direction sailing a few miles out of the way and away from the pack.  At about half way we jibed and then headed to our destination.  With the wind gusting in the high 20s we reefed both the jib and the mainsail but were sailing at a good clip, averaging about 7.5 knots.  On several occasions we saw over 8 knots and a few times 8.5 surfing down the faces of the waves.  

As we got closer to the entrance to the anchorage we were clearly ahead of all but one boat, Serena.  She was a fast one and pulled in a good distance ahead of us then the Liahona followed by the others a fair amount behind us.  It was a super fun sail, although a little stressful for me as it was a bit wild.  Marne had a smile from ear to ear and loved every second of it!

For now we are anchored in Caleta Cardonal in a beautiful inlet with shallow, white sand waters to our east at the head of the bay.  Cardonal is about 26 miles north of La Paz and we plan to head that direction in the next day or two.  All is well on board and we miss you all!  Until next time.

SV Liahona
Bret and Marne

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Hiding from the wind at Isla San Francisco

So this is day two hiding from the winds and waves here in the protection of Isla San Francisco.  I have sat out a few northers in various locations along the Baja coastline but I don't remember any this strong.  A normal norther is usually 15-25 knots of wind and lasts 1-3 days.  This norther has brought 25-35 knot winds and is now approaching it's third day.  For a little nautical knowledge, 35 knots if officially categorized as a gale. So we have had gale force winds for two plus days now.  Here in the bay we haven't seen more than 25 knots and the water is basically calm except for the little bit of refractive swell that wraps around the rocky point forming the northwest side of the anchorage.  We are happy with our decision to leave San Evaristo when we did as we have gotten reports from our friends who stayed behind that they had up to 40 knots in the bay.  

Even with the wind, Isla San Francisco is gorgeous!  A huge half moon bay maybe 3/4 of a mile long with white sand beaches and huge, red rock cliffs towering up on all sides.  The bay itself is somewhat shallow and is all sand which casts a clear, aqua tint to the water making it look like you are in swimming pool with a bright blue bottom.

Today we hiked up the cliffs to the south of the bay and got some amazing pictures of the boat anchored some 500' below us.  Marne has been a wee bit bored so yesterday she baked some delicious zucchini, carrot bread and today she is currently baking some chocolate, oatmeal bars.  I know...right?  Living in paradise with a gorgeous but sometimes bored cook who fills her time with preparing all sorts of deliciousness!  

Hanging out with friends high above the anchorage.

The norther should start abating tomorrow but we will wait yet another day to move farther south so the seas can calm a bit.  Hopefully Saturday we will move down to Isla Espiritu Santo and then on to La Paz on Sunday before the next gale force norther is expected to blow through on Tuesday.  In La Paz we have a few things to do...check into Mexican permanent or semi-permanent residency, get a fishing rod repaired as well as the speargun, hopefully find an inexpensive option for internet on the boat, and finally, find an electrical expert to source our battery and solar issues.  Everything is working but something doesn't seem right with the amount of input from the large solar array we have and also the batteries seem to be losing voltage quicker than they should throughout the day.  Hopefully we can get that sorted out.

Most likely we will spend Thanksgiving in La Paz.

Out with clout!

SV Liahona
Bret and Marne

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Marlin Sashimi in Isla San Francisco

We spent a very relaxing day in San Evaristo with friends today.  The morning started with a 3.5-4 miles run up through the hills.  As we ran up and over the hills that flank the bay to the southwest we looked down at the Liahona and the other 4 boats anchored there with us and thought "who gets this view on a morning run"?  It was beautiful and helps a little with the pain of running, especially in the 85 degrees even early in the morning.

 Sunrise in San Evaristo

Sunset in Isla San Francisco

There is another norther on the way and it was supposed to hit this afternoon so we planned to wait until it started to blow to make the short 9 miles south to Isla San Francisco under brisk winds behind us accompanied by mostly flat seas.  The norther is supposed to blow 20-30 knots for the next two and a half days.  By tomorrow the sea will be pretty lumpy with white caps and building as the days go on.  The wind shifted from a soft east wind to a brisk north wind around 3pm so we quickly readied the Liahona, pulled anchor and headed out.  The sail was perfect!  Fairly calm seas with 13-20 knots of wind off the stern.  It didn't take long to reach our destination as we were moving along swiftly at about 7 knots or so.  

We pulled into a very calm, protected bay and anchored along the northwest shore.  The water clarity for the last week or so has been insanely clear every where we have been.  More clear than I can remember anytime in the last 2 years.  After anchoring we enjoyed a gorgeous sunset with the Gigantas Mountains as a perfect backdrop then prepared our gourmet meal, striped marlin sashimi.  Complete with rice rolls, wasabi, soy sauce, lime and some poblano peppers.  Delicious.  

Ciao for now.

SV Liahona

Sunday, November 8, 2015

FISH ON!!! Striped Marlin

The first billfish has been caught and boarded on the Liahona!  We left Agua Verde at first light this morning to make the 44 miles down to the little fishing town of Evaristo along the Baja coast just north of La Paz by about 5 hours.  We have had 3 days of strong north winds, a norther, and it has left the seas a bit lumpy.  We sailed early in the day for the first 4 or 5 hours then the wind began to die down around 11am.  So we left a headsail up and cranked up the diesel burner to get enough speed to get into Evaristo before dark.  Just after lunch I went down below to get a snack and Marne started yelling that we had a fish on.  Then she yelled "it's a big one, and it's jumping"!  I came running up top to see a billfish dancing on it's tail about 80 yards behind the boat.

We scrambled to get the reacher in, shutdown the motor and get in the other lines so we could battle our fish.  He was jumping like crazy and dancing across the water shaking his head violently trying to rid himself of the hook.  He was spooling line like crazy!  By the time the boat lost most of her speed and the fish had tired some, he was probably 300-400 yards behind the boat and we could barely see him.  He hit on the lighter pole with the smaller reel so I was worried about losing him.  As I barked out instructions, Marne handled the boat like a master and positioned us perfectly so we had the fish off the port beam, although a LONG ways out there.  After about 40 minutes or so we had him beside the boat and then started trying to figure out how to handle him.  After some pro videography, Marne grabbed the rod and muscled him up next to the side of the boat so I could get the gaff into him.  

BAM!  A perfect gaff and he was ours!  We hauled him on deck, threw a tail rope on him, cut his gills and cleated him off the stern.  We are so pumped right now!  It is a blue striped marlin about 7' long and maybe 60-70 lbs.  After all of the excitement we called in to Evaristo, talked with the little restaurant on the beach and they are going to cook him up for whomever wants to join the party.  I can't say how perfectly everything went and how much of a BOSS Marne is!  She did everything perfectly.  Catching and landing a billfish on a sailboat does not happen very often.  If we would have been sailing at 4 knots, he wouldn't even have been interested. Or if we were sailing faster we would never have been able to get sail down in time to actually reel him in.  He would have completely spooled the reel.  

As you all know, I could go on for pages and pages but suffice it to say that we are super excited and looking forward to a great dinner on the beach tonight with friends and anyone else that wants to join.  On a closing note, the last billfish caught on a Liahona was in 1980 aboard my dad's original Liahona.  This one's for you pops!

Until next time...gone fishin'!

SV Liahona 
Bret and Marne

Friday, November 6, 2015

Cave paintings in Agua Verde

This morning we got up and headed off with 4 others from sailboats here in Agua Verde to find the "cave paintings" about 4 kilometers up the beach from here.  After getting directions from some locals we finally accepted the offer from a family on a small ranchito along the way to take their 12 year old son Enrique as our guide.  It is a good thing we did because it was a two hour hike criss crossing trails along the coast to the base of the hill where the cave paintings were.  It was worth the hike.  Two large caves about 30' deep and the same across, situated about 200' up the rocky hillside were the keepers of this, supposedly, ancient art.  Painted on the side of the cliff, between the two caves are about a dozen or so red hand prints.  Above the hand prints there are several others that appear to be a hand print that was drug downward along the wall leaving long, red streaks and at the bottom the where the streaks stopped, a hand print.  The prints are somewhat small, looking to be the size of maybe a 12-16 year old child.  Supposedly they are hundreds of years old.  Looking at them, one would not necessarily doubt that.  However, who knows, maybe they are the marks of some Mexican kids that got into their dad's red house paint and wandered up into the hills and decorated their "club house".  Kind of doubtful since it is in the middle of no where but it leaves me wondering. So any curious ones out there maybe you could Google "cave paintings Agua Verde BCS" and see what you find out.  I would love to know what the "pros" say about the origin and age of these paintings.  If you find any info, please email back and share.  We have some awesome pictures that we hope to post later.

A view from inside the cave

After the morning exploration we took the dinghy around to the beach in front of the village to get some groceries and allow Marne to see some baby goats that we were told about.  The little store, which is basically a little metal shed in someone's back yard, just received fresh goods yesterday.  We bought a few items including several beautiful bunches of bananas that we promptly peeled, thirded and put into our solar food dryer on the back deck.  A quick stop to see the 4 day old goats, ok, they were pretty cute, and then we were off.  However, not without some excitement.  With the strong winds blowing there was quite a wind chop swell surging on the beach.  It was a bit tricky but we managed without incident.

At 4pm today the 7 boats here in Agua Verde are getting together for a pot luck.  We were going to do it on the beach but with all the wind the Machado's (the pro surfer Rob Machado's parents) offered the spacious aft deck of their catamaran to hold the festivities.  Marne prepared a 5 layer bean dip and chips complete with home made sour cream that she learned how to make from half and half and vinegar from her "Galley" cookbook.  Yes, she is learning to cook with substitutes, minimal ingredients and minimal cookware.  

The only other noteworthy event today was when I thought I saw a sea lion swimming along side the boat.  It didn't take long before I realized it was a dog!  Keep in mind that we are anchored about 100 yards off shore and the water is a bit stirred up with all of the wind.  I jumped in the dinghy and came to his rescue putting him in the dink and giving him a lift to shore.  I have no idea what he was thinking or where he thought he was going.  About 30 minutes after dropping him on the beach he swam by the boat again but proceeded over to the shore.  Strangest thing I have seen in a while.

Ciao for now.

SV Liahona
Bret and Marne

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Holeing up in Agua Verde

Dinner with Jose on the beach in Agua Verde

Last night in Danzante, aka the Blue Lagoon, was a bit sketchy as the anchorage is very tight with barely enough room for one boat and swing room on the anchor in varying winds is extremely minimal.  Last night we had wind from every point on the compass...several times each!  It ranged from 2 knots to 18 knots and as we swung around like a pinwheel I was seriously concerned that during  the course of one of those swings we might be a little more intimate with the volcanic rock shoreline than I was comfortable with.  As a result I stayed up in the cockpit checking wind direction and depth for several hours.  Once things settled a bit around 2am I went back to bed and did not enjoy the rest of my restless night.  

Today we rode light north winds southbound to Bahia Agua Verde where we are nestled in with 6 other boats.  Most likely we will be here for several days as we are supposed to get a multi day norther blow with winds to 30 knots.  We will see if that materializes.  On the way down we had a bit of excitement as we had a quadruple hook up!  Both hand lines and both rods were spooling.  Back in the day we would most likely reel in 4 yellow fin tuna.  Not these days.  All four were skipjacks.  Not good.  There are probably some feral Mexican cats that would turn their nose up at the site of skipjack in their bowl. was exciting and fun anyway.

Aqua Verde is as beautiful as usual.  We went to the beach and invited Jose to dinner tomorrow night.  Jose is an 80 year old dude that has been living in his beach shack for over 25 years and he was excited about the invite.  We then took a stroll around the anchorage on the paddleboard to meet our neighbors.  All super nice...of course.  Newsflash for the Lyle gang...the boat anchored right next to us are Rob Machado's parents!  What?!  Pretty cool.  For those not in the know Rob Machado is a world renowned pro surfer, right up there with Kelly Slater.  

Anyway, another day in the books aboard SV Liahona.  Ciao for now.

SV Liahona 
Bret and Marne

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Marne's new world.... SCUBA

Not Scuba here but a great cave nonetheless.

Yes, there is another world that exists beyond the boundaries of the air that we breathe, the underwater world.  Today Marne discovered that realm.  After graduating from the Bret Mitchell school of diving (an intense 5-15 minute course that only a few have completed... Craig Lyle and Ken Earl are some of the early graduates) we strap a tank on your back and head down.  At this point Catherine is probably seriously worried about the safety of her daughter but no worries mom...we've got this handled.  And it is not as crazy as it may sound.  She started in 4' of water and figured things out before heading down to a conservative 15-20' for her first official dive.  She loved it and can't wait to do more!

Last night before going to bed Marne and I were sitting up in the cockpit looking at the stars and talking, taking in the amazing beauty and apparent closeness of the stars that seem so fewer and so much farther away if you are observing them from somewhere that has much more light pollution than here in remote Baja California.  As we were talking Marne said "shooting star" as she saw a star streaking across the sky.  I didn't jump up because I knew that in 1-2 seconds it would be all over with.  WRONG!  On my side of the bimini covering directly above our heads I saw the streaker burning across the sky.  It was unbelievable. It covered about 2/3 of the sky above us, burning bright white and lasting an astonishing 7 seconds or so.  Marne asked if it was some kind of flare or something from some other boat out there because it was so bright and so long that it didn't even look real.  It definitely wasn't a flare.   Evidently it was a "fireball", a super hot burning and bright meteor that comes into the earth's atmosphere at a very low angle which gives us a very long look at it's burn.  Supposedly there are more tonight and then more on Nov. 5th with the best viewing after midnight to the wee hours of the morning.  It was by far the most amazing shooting star I have ever seen.

For the second night in a row we went out for a night dive to find some lobster and for the second night in a row we were skunked!  I did see 3 last night.  One too small, one I couldn't get to and one that I shot but lost.  Grrr.  I am a little frustrated as this time last year, in this exact spot, Nathan and I had a lobster fest!  I wish I understood better the comings and goings of these tasty little creatures because they have me perplexed.

Where we are anchored here in the southern bight of Isla Danzante, Marne and I have given it a new name...the blue lagoon.  It is so beautiful here.  It is a tight, small little cove, just big enough for one boat that is surrounded by steep volcanic sides and everything in between is fine, white sand.  This morning we hiked up the rocks and took pictures of the Liahona sitting over the white sand in crystal clear, aqua water.  I wish I could send pictures.  Anyway, we are so grateful to be here and we have decided that it, so far, is definitely on our top 3 list of anchorages.  Until next time.

SV Liahona
Bret and Marne

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Loreto for some provisions

Delicious home made pizza last night...Marne is the bomb!

After the net this morning we made a quick decision to head SW the 6 miles to Loreto in order to grab a few provisions.  Loreto has no protection so it is not a place to stay overnight.  Most just anchor there in the early morning, go into town to get their supplies then head out before the afternoon winds kick up.  Our trip was no different.  The walk to the Ley (large grocery store chain here in Mexico) is about a half mile or so through the quaint little fishing town of Loreto.  Once at the store it is tempting to fill the basket but thinking about the hike back to the the dinghy carrying all of those groceries keeps your shopping in check.

All told we spent about $45 on some fresh veggies and other things that we had on our list.  Most groceries are fairly inexpensive unless they are imported brands from the states.  Stuff like avocados are ridiculously cheap at about 75 cents for a kilo, that is 2.2 lbs.!  We also picked up two big bunches of bananas that we peeled, split and put on the food dryer as soon as we got to the boat.

Upon departure we had two options, head north back to Isla Coronados or south to Puerto Escondido and Isla Danzante.  If winds were right we were going to head back to Coronados.  However, the wind disagreed so we threw out a headsail and pointed south in 15 knots of wind behind us that brought us to Isla Danzante about 2 hours later.  Danzante lies just a couple miles due east of Puerto Escondido and is definitely on our favorites list.  There was one boat in the anchorage when we got here but it pulled anchor and left just as we were coming in so we have the place to ourselves.  Heaven!  

A quick snorkel around the beautiful rocks and reefs and then back to to the boat where I had to fix the hawes pipe that leads the chain from the windlass to the chain locker below.  The sealant had broke loose and needed to be redone.  Not a big deal and a half hour later the daily chores were done and Marne and I are now just relaxing here in the cabin enjoying this beautiful place.  On the menu tonight are the last two lobsters that we got from Isla San Marcos along with a few other fixins.  Danzante has provided some excellent lobster diving in the past and we are hoping to refill the coffers over the next night or two. Hopefully the wind calms down enough for me to want to want to actually get into the water in the darkness of the night and see what might be crawling around on the ocean floor.  We will have to see how that plays out.

Another day, another dose of pure gratitude for the life we are able to live.  Wherever this post finds you, look around, there is plenty to be grateful for wherever you are.  Recognize, smile, enjoy.  Get some.

SV Liahona
Bret and Marne