Friday, November 17, 2006



Hola from Mazatlan on the Mexican mainland! We've been here two days now in a great berth at the Mazatlan Marina. What a wonderful time we've all had on this last part of our never-ending journey.

After our heady days of celebrating the completion of the Baja Ha-Ha, we put our son, Ryan, and sailmaster Tony on shuttles to the airport to catch flights back to the US, got our laundry done, re-fueled, and bought groceries for our planned 4-day hop over to Matzatlan. The boat seems so much larger and kinda empty without those guys onboard – not that they were noisy, we just miss their company.

So early Tuesday morning, we waved goodbye (middle finger salute) to tawdry, touristy, money-grubbing Cabo and headed round the point and up north into the Sea of Cortez. Winds were fair at first and we had a great spell of pure sailing. Then, just like that, it was suddenly dead calm. But only for about 5 minutes. As we turned on the “Perkins Jib” (engine), we were blasted by winds up to 20 knots coming straight at our bow! The seas grew to 6 to 8 foot swells that were breaking on their crests. Water blasted up over the bow as we rode straight on up the hills and then down the valleys between the swells. For the first time ever, we had to close ALL the deck hatches because water was coming into the galley and salon areas.

Sounds cold right? Nope – I was wearing a tank top and shorts. The water is over 82 degrees, the sun hot, and the wind was quite warm. It was actually pleasant to feel the splatter of the breaking waves and be blown by the wind. For the last hour or so of the trip, I sat up on the foredeck, lifejacket secured to the jacklines, and watched for a known dangerous rock (never saw it). It was heaven!!! I would have laughed out loud the whole time except I would be getting saltwater in my mouth. Again, Niki Wiki performed flawlessly. This is what she was built for 23 years ago – open sea cruising.

The coast of Baja California, Mexico was so much greener than we expected. We could see the rugged mountains as we sailed up the coast.

An hour before sunset, we motored into the serenity of the protected anchorage of Los Frailes. There were about 12 other Ha-Ha participants already anchored in the bay so we felt right at home. Dropped the anchor, made dinner, drank beer, and fell asleep with only the occasional, gentle swaying from a light breeze.
Because we had decided to leave Cabo one day early, we had a whole day to linger in Los Frailes. Jones and I took the dinghy ashore to explore the rocky, scrub brush covered area and found a seasonal fresh water pond. There was abundant wildlife – egrets, ducks, coots, butterflies, and lizards. As this is the end of the rainy season here in Baja, the vegetation was unexpectedly lush with many plants in bloom. We had to be careful and watch for cactus and snakes. Saw plenty of cactus and only one dead snake (but it was big!)

We swam at the beach a bit to cool off, then rode back to the boat, socializing with the other “yachtistas” along the way. For about half of each year, there is a seasonal fishing camp set up on the beach. The men fish from their pangas (about 40 boats here) for red snapper out in the Sea of Cortez.

Leg 2 of 3 of the Baja Ha-Ha -Turtle Bay to Bahia Santa Maria:
November 2 to November 4th, 2006
We were dragged, kicking & screaming, from Turtle Bay in the early morning. Okay, no real physical force, but we really didn't want to leave. The people were overwhelmingly friendly and the natural areas were beautiful. The town itself has been described as "coyote ugly", which I have to agree is pretty accurate. This is a very isolated fishing village that has seen better days when there was a commercial cannery (now closed) operating here.

There are no paved roads in the little town, and the nearest paved road is 143 miles away!!! Here's a pic of Jones & Brett on the main street.

Yet, we fell in love with it. I delivered a large bag of goodies for the school kids to the community center. We had heard that they would appreciate pencils, pens, paper, toys, etc. so I loaded up before I left the US - including some goodies from my friends - and lugged them up the hill. This is a picture of me outside of the Turtle Bay Community Center which was the nicest building in the whole town. Well, except for the small flower garden against one blue house - it really was a welcome bit of color.
We walked past a man painting his house LIME GREEN - he was so proud of the color!! Actually, in this town it really didn't seem out of place.

As we were anchored in the large harbor, the pangas (small open fishing boats) would come by the boat and take our garbage bags for $1 a bag. Also, these same folks would ferry us to town and back - for $2 per person. This is a great opportunity for the fishermen to get some extra cash while this large fleet of boats is in town because they can make a lot more money than fishing those days. So, most of the year these boats are used for fishing, then we get rides in them. Usually, there was a mysterious liquid sloshing in the bottom of the boats - sometimes with scum rolling around in it. Brett named this liquid "panga juice". I don't even want to imagine what sort of life/chemicals/dead sea critters/waste was in it. Just wash the feet at the first opportunity.

We also used our dinghy to get to town and soon discovered the thrill of "dinghy butt". That's when you get your shorts wet from the splash and have to walk around town with a damp rear end.

A panga approached our boat one evening and a young boy held up a baggie with giant shrimp in it. We ended up paying $7 for about 2+ pounds of the biggest, freshest shrimp I have ever had!! We just put them on the grill with the marinated chicken (pollo asada) I had pulled out of the freezer. That night we ate like kings: fresh corn tortillas we bought in town, cold beer thanks to the ice Jonesy located in town, the shrimp, chicken, and all the fixings. This is a photo of Ryan and the pollo asada fresh from the grill. Note that it was sweater weather in the evening - still a little chilly at night.

After a couple of nights, it was time to set sail again and get farther down the coast. Despite the "Dog Overboard" incident at the start of this lap of the race, it was a beautiful start. Yes, he was wearing his lifejacket and was rescued immediately. Next stop...Bahia Santa Maria.

On the Knitting Front
I finished weaving in the ends of my sister’s Victorian Shawl!! Yippeee!! I'll block it on the boat rigging tomorrow. I started another “Harry’s Golf Vest” as a pattern sample. So much knitting – and so much time to do it!!!! Yahooooo!!!

Okay. What's this? A ratty dishrag. I've been using this thing with the hole in it for about a month now. Why don't I just throw it away? I have at least a dozen of these (because I went on a dishrag knitting frenzy a couple of years ago) so I can well afford to toss this sad thing. Oh well, it went into the laundry yesterday and came back today (100 pesos = $10 bucks for ALL of our laundry washed and folded) all fresh and clean. Maybe next time I'll toss it.

Does anybody else hang on to their knitting like this?

I'm so glad you're safe and happy! We were talking about you yesterday at the Saturday clinic, hoping you were having a great time.

I've got to update my blog, but am pleased you've got an internet connection.
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