Sunday, May 24, 2015

May 24, Finishing prep for haul out. San Carlos, Mexico.

It was a calm and glassy morning when I awoke early to get a couple of workers at 7am on the docks to help with some of the exterior clean up of the boat.  Jimmy, originally from Africa, and Ismael, a local, came out early to wash, polish and wax the entire boat from the water line up including the all of the fiberglass and stainless.  Both very good men and hard workers, they have been going at it since early this morning and most likely will finish mid day tomorrow.  The boat looks so good.  I wish I had the drive to keep it like this all the time. haha.

While they did the polish and wax work I went about my chores organizing and decommisioning the boat.  A few items on the list today were diving the bottom to knock off any barnacles and clean away any moss growth.  Having new bottom paint is awesome as it only took me about a half hour in the water to do the entire job.  We also vacuumed the inside, cleaned the throw rugs and finished cleaning the heads. On the outside I was busy taking down the reacher including the blocks and sheets, removing any halyards, furling lines and other running gear that can be removed and storing it below to keep it away from the damaging effects of the sun over the summer months while it is on dry dock.  The main engine was checked over and raw water strainer cleaned.  Cushions were measured for future covers to be made while we are home over the summer as well as removal of electrical equipment in the cockpit like the radar, backup GPS, remote for the auto pilot and a few other things.  This is probably all a bore to most of you but I thought some of the cruiser wanna bees out there might be interested in at least a little detail of some of what is done to prepare for the summer on the dry.

Tallen got his third shot today and is definitely feeling a little better.  This afternoon he is off on the paddleboard with his backpack and shoes so he can go for a short run. Part of his Mammoth training. lol.  

Oh, a note on the dinner last night...we had 6 lobsters to consume between Tallen and I along with some steak and potatoes.  We couldn't finish all of the lobster so there is still one left in the fridge.  How much do you love having "too much lobster"?  I'm smiling and laughing right now because that is pretty freaking awesome and I'm definitely going to miss that over the next 4 months.  That will wrap it up for today I suppose.  Ciao for now.


Bret and Tallen
SV Liahona

Saturday, May 23, 2015

May 23, Haul out chores...

In Bahia San Carlos just taking care of the multitude of chores that have to be done before the boat gets put away.  This morning I was at the fuel dock bright and early top off the tanks and wash the boat with fresh water.  I spent about an hour and a half with the hose washing everything from the hull to the decks and all the way up to the top of the sails.  The sails can get a little tricky as you have the entire sail unfurled while you are tied to the dock and it can get a little dicey if the wind comes up.  This morning it was pretty calm so all went well.

Other chores included taking cushions to my upholstery guy for a few adjustments, getting polish and wax for the decks and stainless, getting a new bolt for the bottom of the main sheet block (one that broke about a month ago and I had it jury rigged until now), washing and hanging to dry all of the lines and sheets, putting away all of the fishing and snorkeling gear, washing all of the towels on board, going through groceries to find out what stays and what goes and probably a few other items that I forgot.  It was a fairly busy day and now we are settling in for a good dinner.  Tallen is making some fresh guacamole and then tonight we are going to finish up the 6 lobsters that we have in the fridge.  Put that with some steak and potatoes and it won't suck. ha.  

That's about it for today my friends. My time here is short and although it is going to be great to see family and friends I'm definitely going to be a little sad leaving her behind and on dry dock for the next 4 months.  Ciao for now.

Bret and Tallen
SV Liahona

Friday, May 22, 2015

May 22, Affordable health care...

Not much to report today other than some in town errands and Tallen's health situation.  First thing this morning I took Tallen to see a doctor. The back of his throat looked terrible this morning, red, swollen and with white-ish looking sores.  Not good. He was in a lot of pain this morning.  Anyway, we went first to a pharmacy to see if they could help or recommend something. The girl at the desk said that I could see the doctor just next door.  I asked how much that would be and she said that his consultation fee is 50 pesos, about $3.50.  Hmmm....ok, I can afford that. lol.  Next door we went and met with the doctor immediately.  Upon examination he said that Tallen has a VERY BAD infection and recommended a shot once a day for 3 days and then some other meds.  Bueno.  I took the prescription next door to the pharmacy to get the needed meds, including the syringes and stuff for that, then back next door to Doc Victor.  Tallen got to show his derrier to Vic and after dropping trowel he got stuck with a needle in the keister, which he didn't like very much. lol. After we were done I asked what I owed him.  His reply was "whatever you like".  And then my reply..."no, like what is the fee"?  "Whatever you feel is fair", came the reply again.  So 50 pesos it was.  Pretty affordable medical care I would say.  He said he is just there to help wherever he can especially with people that can't afford it.  He retired from regular practice a few years ago and just wants to help.  My kind of guy! So with shots, oral meds and the doctor's fee it all came to about $8 bucks. Hell ya!  haha.  As for Tallen, he is already much better this afternoon and says his throat is still sore but WAY better than this morning.



That is it for today.  A few chores and an experience with medical care south of the border style...the way it should be. ha.  Ciao for now.

Bret and Tallen
SV Liahona

Thursday, May 21, 2015

May 21, Crossing to San Carlos

I think this post is going to be a little short.  I got up this morning at 2:45am, anchor up at 3am and on the way to San Carlos.  My weather selection for crossing is definitely in need of some help.  This crossing wasn't horrendous but it was a windy romp across the Sea of Cortez in some very confused seas making the ride very uncomfortable.  It was a fast crossing with 15-20+ knots of wind the whole way.  All tallied up I think it cost me and Tallen about $6.00 in diesel for the entire trip as I only ran the motor a little in the dark, wee hours of the morning for about an hour and a half.  The rest of the crossing we averaged over 6 knots and that was with double reefed sails for most of the day.  After about 4 hours or so of sustained winds above 15 knots the seas tend to build and get pretty nasty, especially in the Sea of Cortez. Fortunately the seas were following us which was uncomfortable buy WAY better than beating into them.  About mid way we had a huge pod of dolphins surfing in our bow wave for over a half hour.  The seas were big enough that the dolphins would leave the bow wave, run off and catch a big swell or two, usually 2 or 4 abreast, then swim back over and hang out with us for a while.



The crossing wound up taking 12 hours exactly.  Very fast.  We arrived here in Bahia San Carlos at 3pm and we were happy to pull into the protection of the bay and anchor in smooth water.  We went into town to grab a bite to eat and now we are back at the boat and most likely going to crash early.  I'm totally beat.  Getting up early paired with untold sail changes to adjust for the varying winds and generally taking care of the boat on a rough passage definitely got to me.  I'm out!  

Bret and Tallen
SV Liahona

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

May 20, Isla San Marcos

Typical Baja Sunrise

Today has been a VERY easy going day with not a whole lot going on.  Tallen has had a very sore throat for several days now and it seems to be getting worse.  I have had him gargeling with salt water and taking throat lozengers as well as some Throat Cote hot tea but it doesn't seem to be making much difference.  I emailed Marne's mom Catherine, who is a nurse, and asked about antibiotics and so we have started him on some Cipro and I am hoping that it will start to make a difference soon.  I feel bad for him.

Around 10am he thought it would be good to get some fresh air so we took a dinghy ride around to the north side of the island.  I am not sure why but the water is very green and murky right now as well as a little chilly, around 65 degrees.  If the water held it's normal clarity the north end of this island would have absolutely amazing diving, both free diving and SCUBA.  SCUBA would be off the charts as the waters are littered with large vertical volcanic rock pinnacles that almost reach the surface and go down at least 40-60' with outcroppings and overhangs which would make it an underwater paradise.  As it is today, the visibility is less than 15' so we just drove on by wondering what amazing landscapes lie below the surface.  

On the way back we stopped at the ol' Honey Hole and took a spin through.  Upon entering the cave I saw my large moray eel friend wandering about near the entrance but he payed me no attention so I swam on by and went inside.  I saw several bugs, maybe 10 or 11, but they were all smaller ones so I let them be.  It looks like I must have harvested most of the larger ones over the last couple of days.  I am very curious to know the growth, birth and mortality rate of lobsters.  How long does it take for them to grow to a certain size?  Something I will have to Google when I get home.

This afternoon found Tallen napping and me reading along with slowly putting things away and securing the boat for the possible passage tomorrow.  Winds are supposed to be 9-14 knots out of the southeast tomorrow and if that is true it should make for a good passage.  If the winds are too strong, which make for uncomfortable seas, or coming too much on the nose I will probably turn around and go another day.  The passage should not be long as it is only about 75 miles which should take between 12 to 16 hours depending on our speed.  I want to tackle as much of it as I can in daylight so the plan is to leave between 3-4am having only a few hours of darkness before spending the rest of the day getting across.  We are not sure if we are going to go directly to San Carlos or up to Bahia San Pedro for a day or two.  That decision will come once we see which way the winds are blowing.  Our haulout day is May 25 at 4pm so we have a few days to play with.

This afternoon while Tallen was napping I went up top to arrange a few things.  While I was up there I heard a very loud blow hole spew and looked out the the west to see a huge whale just 75 yards from the boat.  I rudely awoke Tallen, grabbed the GoPro and headed out in the dinghy.  There were actually two of them and they were casually making their way through the anchorage and going north.  At one point one surfaced no more than 15' beside the dinghy exposing his massiveness.  Easily 40' long but gracefully moving through the water.  I don't know what kind of whale it was but it was very dark, almost black and very big.  We saw them 3 or 4 more times then lost track of them as they traveled long distances between breaths.  As we were heading back to the boat we saw one of them surface again about a half mile out.  It was shaping up to be a very ordinary day until the unordinary happened. Which is more ordinary than not. That is the unordinary happening just when you think its only ordinary.  Are you confused?  I think I am. lol.  

Long story short, I am constantly left in awe at the raw beauty of the Sea of Cortez.  I am always grateful for the life here on the sea and even though my circumstances may be somewhat unique or outside of the norm, wonders abound wherever you are. Put your cell phone down, turn off the TV and get off the couch.  It is out there waiting for you to be part of it.  Get some.

Bret and Tallen
SV Liahona

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

May 19, Sweet Pea Cove, Isla San Marcos

Pretty laid back day here on Isla San Marcos.  Our friends on the FP 46' cat left this morning so it is just us and a French couple in a blue monohull. In case you were wondering, captain Frenchie does have and wear a Speedo. LOL.  This morning we took a trip over to our lobster cave and extracted a few more samples for the freezer. However, it was low tide and I was unable to get to a few spots because there wasn't enough water to allow access.  We did come home with 6 or 7 more though after a short 20 minutes.  On our way to the cave I spotted another fin and quickly identified it as another billfish.  Once we were on it we realized it indeed was a billfish but definitely different than the one we saw yesterday.  The fish we saw yesterday was a black marlin and this one was a striped marlin.  It was gorgeous and marked with flourecent blue vertical stripes and it was also quite a bit larger, this one being about 7' long.  We busted back to the boat to grab a rod and reel to maybe snag it but when we went back out to the area we couldn't find it.  After the cave we headed back home. By the time we got back to the boat it was noon so we decided that lobster burritos sounded pretty good for lunch.  


Tallen went for an afternoon run through the neighboring hills while I stayed behind and read a book.  Later in the afternoon we returned to the honey hole and this time Tallen decided he was up for going into the cave.  He thought it was cool but by the looks of him he did not seem very comfortable in there. haha.  The numbers are definitely thinning but I grabbed a few lobsters by hand and we headed back.  The water temperature today is definitely cooler.  I am not sure if it was the wind or tides that brought the cooler water to us.  Tonight I think lobster is on the menu again, haha, this time I think I will make a lobster spaghetti.  Tallen says it sounds good so we are going to go for it.  Anyway, that is a wrap on another good day in the Sea of Cortez.

Bret and Tallen
SV Liahona

Monday, May 18, 2015

May 18, Marlin, lobsters and rays...

Today could have been just another usual day out cruising.  But no!  Every time I think I am in for an ordinary day God surprises me with more close encounters with His amazing creations.  Today found us heading north to Isla San Marcos which is about 15 miles north of Punta Chivato.  It was flat calm today and we had to motor all but the last hour where we had a nice sail into an anchorage called Sweet Pea Cove.  On the way we were duly entertained by hundreds of small manta rays jumping all around us. The show went on for about an hour and we literally saw flying mantas in the hundreds.  Leaping out of the water, some flying straight others flipping wildly and then making a loud slap when they smacked back down on the surface of the water.  I got a few photos where I caught them in the air and a couple actually show 2 or 3 in the air at the same time.  



About a mile north of the anchorage is a rocky point called Punta de los Arcos (Arches Point) so Tallen and I decided to head up there in the dinghy to do some exploring and snorkeling.  We found a really cool low arch where we took the dinghy under and to the other side.  It was a tight fit but made for some pretty cool pictures.  We also snorkeled under and through a really cool archway with the light shining through from the other side making for some amazing underwater pics.  After that I found this little crevasse back in the rocks that was so small and tight that it got dark in there even though we were there in the middle of the day.  It intrigued me how far back into the rock the tight water cave went but we needed to go back to the boat to get my dive light in order to find out.

Back to the boat we went where we were greeted by a few hundred bees that had come aboard partaking of the fresh water.  After wrangling all the bees out of the boat we put up the screens to keep them on the outside.  We had some lunch, grabbed the dive lights and headed back out to Los Arcos to find the dark cave again.  As soon as we left the boat I saw a fin in the water attached to a long body.  I screamed to Tallen that there was a shark...right there!  As it turns out, it wasn't a shark.  On closer inspection it was a marlin.  Ya, a marlin, right there in the anchorage not 20' off the back of the boat. We had the GoPro with us so we stuck it in the water following this marlin as he slowly cruised around the anchorage.  I wish we had a way to catch it. Dang.  We did, however, get some awesome GoPro footage of the marlin swimming not 3' in front of us in the dinghy for about 5 minutes.  How cool is that?  That was a first for me seeing a marlin right there by the boat at anchor.


Murky vid of the marlin

And now for the part of the story you are probably most interested in...the lobsters! We went back to the area where the cave was and it took us a while to actually find it, it being a quite small crease in the volcanic rock shoreline on the northwest side of Isla Marcos.  However, we did eventually find it and I suited up with my snorkeling gear, dive light and spear ready to see what was in there.  I must admit, I was a little nervous as the first time I went just inside the mouth of the cave I saw a pretty large moray eel and after that it got too dark to even see.  Dark, narrow cave, maybe 2' of headroom above the water in the main channel of the cave and a large moray eel guarding the entrance...not really in my comfort zone.  haha.  However, it did get my adrenaline pumping and as most of you know, I'm kind of into adrenaline. lol.  As soon as I got far enough into the small opening to require my dive light to see I spotted 8-10 small lobsters in a little side crevasse.  They were smaller so I didn't take any but I was definitely excited about the possibilities.  All told the cave went back into the darkness about 75' or so with several other crevasses leading to other caverns on either side.  I saw lobsters everywhere I looked.  Not thousands, probably not even hundreds but certainly more than one hundred.  The Holy Grail of lobster caves!  The first time I exited the cave I came out with two really nice lobsters.  Tallen was stoked but still not stoked enough to actually go into the cave. lol.  I went back in and repeated the performace...several times.  Sometimes it took me longer than others because I was going deeper into the darkness.  Once you get about 20' or so in it was as dark as night and the only light was the small beam coming from my dive light.  The biggest bug I got was all the way at the back of the cave where I literally was in 10" of water, crawling on my belly and the lobster had crawled himself out of the water onto the dark rocks at the back of the cave.  When I was belly crawling back in there to get him I got poked several times from smaller lobster that my belly was dragging over.  No! I'm not making this stuff up!  Really, I promise.


As I started to explore more I found at least 4 or 5 other deep crevasses leading off in other directions...all with lobsters crawling around.  There were definitely many, many bugs that I had no chance of reaching as they were way back into very tight, dark places.  There was one really big one that was way back in a hole that I wanted badly. I could see him with my light but no way to reach him.  As I was shining my light on him, to my surprise, he started walking out of the hole right towards me.  Just before he was in range my grip on my sling slipped and it fired and hit a rock scaring the big guy back deeper into the hole.  Anyway, all told I hand selected 11 lobsters to grace our freezer and dinner table.  I know this sounds like it isn't real.  It still seems unreal to me.   It was SO COOL!  After about 45 minutes in the cave I had pretty much scattered lobster everywhere and I look forward to going back tomorrow when things have settled down a little.  YES...I am going back!  haha.  That is the most incredible mother load of lobsters ever and I will be putting more in my freezer tomorrow. Marne...I hope you like lobster because this will be our first stop next this fall! 

I think that is enough excitement for one day.  I had better get busy preparing this lobster feast.  Ciao for now.

Bret and Tallen
SV Liahona

May 18, Isla San Marcos, Lobsters and wildlife day...

Today could have been just another usual day out cruising.  But no!  Every time I think I am in for an ordinary day God surprises me with more close encounters with His amazing creations.  Today found us heading north to Isla San Marcos which is about 15 miles north of Punta Chivato.  It was flat calm today and we had to motor all but the last hour where we had a nice sail into an anchorage called Sweet Pea Cove.  On the way we were duly entertained by hundreds of small manta rays jumping all around us. The show went on for about an hour and we literally saw flying mantas in the hundreds.  Leaping out of the water, some flying straight others flipping wildly and then making a loud slap when they smacked back down on the surface of the water.  I got a few photos where I caught them in the air and a couple actually show 2 or 3 in the air at the same time.  

About a mile north of the anchorage is a rocky point called Punta de los Arcos (Arches Point) so Tallen and I decided to head up there in the dinghy to do some exploring and snorkeling.  We found a really cool low arch where we took the dinghy under and to the other side.  It was a tight fit but made for some pretty cool pictures.  We also snorkeled under and through a really cool archway with the light shining through from the other side making for some amazing underwater pics.  After that I found this little crevasse back in the rocks that was so small and tight that it got dark in there even though we were there in the middle of the day.  It intrigued me how far back into the rock the tight water cave went but we needed to go back to the boat to get my dive light in order to find out.

Back to the boat we went where we were greeted by a few hundred bees that had come aboard partaking of the fresh water.  After wrangling all the bees out of the boat we put up the screens to keep them on the outside.  We had some lunch, grabbed the dive lights and headed back out to Los Arcos to find the dark cave again.  As soon as we left the boat I saw a fin in the water attached to a long body.  I screamed to Tallen that there was a shark...right there!  As it turns out, it wasn't a shark.  On closer inspection it was a marlin.  Ya, a marlin, right there in the anchorage not 20' off the back of the boat. We had the GoPro with us so we stuck it in the water following this marlin as he slowly cruised around the anchorage.  I wish we had a way to catch it. Dang.  We did, however, get some awesome GoPro footage of the marlin swimming not 3' in front of us in the dinghy for about 5 minutes.  How cool is that?  That was a first for me seeing a marlin right there by the boat at anchor.

And now for the part of the story you are probably most interested in...the lobsters! We went back to the area where the cave was and it took us a while to actually find it, it being a quite small crease in the volcanic rock shoreline on the northwest side of Isla Marcos.  However, we did eventually find it and I suited up with my snorkeling gear, dive light and spear ready to see what was in there.  I must admit, I was a little nervous as the first time I went just inside the mouth of the cave I saw a pretty large moray eel and after that it got too dark to even see.  Dark, narrow cave, maybe 2' of headroom above the water in the main channel of the cave and a large moray eel guarding the entrance...not really in my comfort zone.  haha.  However, it did get my adrenaline pumping and as most of you know, I'm kind of into adrenaline. lol.  As soon as I got far enough into the small opening to require my dive light to see I spotted 8-10 small lobsters in a little side crevasse.  They were smaller so I didn't take any but I was definitely excited about the possibilities.  All told the cave went back into the darkness about 75' or so with several other crevasses leading to other caverns on either side.  I saw lobsters everywhere I looked.  Not thousands, probably not even hundreds but certainly more than one hundred.  The Holy Grail of lobster caves!  The first time I exited the cave I came out with two really nice lobsters.  Tallen was stoked but still not stoked enough to actually go into the cave. lol.  I went back in and repeated the performace...several times.  Sometimes it took me longer than others because I was going deeper into the darkness.  Once you get about 20' or so in it was as dark as night and the only light was the small beam coming from my dive light.  The biggest bug I got was all the way at the back of the cave where I literally was in 10" of water, crawling on my belly and the lobster had crawled himself out of the water onto the dark rocks at the back of the cave.  When I was belly crawling back in there to get him I got poked several times from smaller lobster that my belly was dragging over.  No! I'm not making this stuff up!  Really, I promise.

First time out of the cave with a couple very nice bugs.

As I started to explore more I found at least 4 or 5 other deep crevasses leading off in other directions...all with lobsters crawling around.  There were definitely many, many bugs that I had no chance of reaching as they were way back into very tight, dark places.  There was one really big one that was way back in a hole that I wanted badly. I could see him with my light but no way to reach him.  As I was shining my light on him, to my surprise, he started walking out of the hole right towards me.  Just before he was in range my grip on my sling slipped and it fired and hit a rock scaring the big guy back deeper into the hole.  Anyway, all told I hand selected 11 lobsters to grace our freezer and dinner table.  I know this sounds like it isn't real.  It still seems unreal to me.   It was SO COOL!  After about 45 minutes in the cave I had pretty much scattered lobster everywhere and I look forward to going back tomorrow when things have settled down a little.  YES...I am going back!  haha.  That is the most incredible mother load of lobsters ever and I will be putting more in my freezer tomorrow. Marne...I hope you like lobster because this will be our first stop next this fall! 

I think that is enough excitement for one day.  I had better get busy preparing this lobster feast.  Ciao for now.

Bret and Tallen
SV Liahona

Sunday, May 17, 2015

May 17, Punta Chivato

It's 10:35am.  Tallen and I pulled anchor around 8:30 this morning and are headed north toward Punta Chivato leaving the Bay of Conception in view off the stern.  Punta Chivato is a point of land reaching eastward into the Sea of Cortez just north of the town of Mulege.  From a distance, Chivato appears to be an island as the land that you can see near the point is a small hill but it is connected to mainland Baja via a very low lying stretch of land that is indistinguishable from the surface of the ocean from our distance about 10 miles to the south.  
Anchored off of Punta Chivato. Tallen relaxing on the foredeck.

The seas are perfectly flat with a slight breeze of 9 knots coming from the northeast. The engine was turned off about an hour ago and we are sailing along at about 5 knots with the the bright blue and white reacher and a full white mainsail.  The only disturbance on the surface of the ocean are the small ripples that tell of the slight breeze which you can easily see well before the wind is felt as it blows your hair on the way through.  Tallen is lying in the hammock that is stretched across the foredeck tied between the front of the mast and the furled genoa.  He is slowing rocking side to side as the boat heals slightly to the port when the soft puffs of wind fill the sails.  The only sound you can hear is the water as it pushes past the bow and flows aftward and behind the boat. Every now and again you can hear the clicking sound of the autopilot as it makes a slight course correction.  A perfect day. A perfect sail.  If you are aboard on a day like today and are still bothered with the stresses of life...you need therapy. This is my therapy giving me clarity about the beauty around me and the enjoyment of this amazing place.  This is my life and I love it.

This afternoon brought me and Tallen to shell beach, aptly named for it's thousands and thousands of shells.  Just up from the surf line there is a band of shells that is about 10-15' wide by maybe 3' deep by a half mile or more long.  No sand, just shells. After collecting a few we headed back to the boat to read and relax.  Actually I am typing this blog and Tallen  headed out on the paddleboard.  


We are anchored here with just one other boat named Loomba Loomba from Washington.  They plan to head across tomorrow to San Carlos and then pull out for the summer on the 26th of this month.  Tomorrow Tallen and I will go out to the small island about 3 miles offshore to check out the colony of sea lions there.  Several months ago Nathan and I went out there and tried to snorkel with them but they really were not that interested in us and kept their distance but Tallen wanted to see them.

Fishing report - Zip. Nothing to report. Ugh.

Boat repair report - While we were sailing today we had a small little gust and heard a pop from the reacher sheet.  It turns out that it pulled a screw loose on the turning block that is mounted to the deck that turns the sheet from the clutch up to the main wench on the port side.  So this afternoon I pulled it, filled the hole with wood splinters then sealed each hole with 3M 4200 and screwed it back down to the deck.  I kind of have my doubts whether it is going to hold up or not.  If not I will pull it again, fill the holes with Marine Tex, an epoxy compound, then redrill the holes and screw it back down.  We will see how she holds before I go into it that far.

That's it for today.  An absolutely perfect sail all the way here, a great exploration trip to shell beach, an easy boat fix (I hope) and in about an hour we will throw some Arrachera (marinated flank steak) on the barbie for dinner.  Ciao for now.

Bret and Tallen
SV Liahona

Saturday, May 16, 2015

May 16, Buenaventura

This morning Tallen and I decided to visit the in-laws down in Buenaventura, about a hour and a half sail further south into the Bay of Conception.  Nathan's dad Mark was there and it was good to see him.  His wife is up visiting family in Ensenada and Nathan is in San Diego so it is just him and the cook Berta and it sounds like he doesn't really like running the show there. haha.  Anyway, I had a bacon burger and Tallen had a delicious fish sandwich with pesto.  

The beach at Buenaventua

We were there with some friends off of a Morgan 45 called Miss Teak.  The wind started coming up out of the north so we decided we had better pull anchor and get back up to Santispac as the anchorage there is not very good and offers no protection except from the west.  Earlier when Tallen and I got to the beach in the dinghy I had Tallen help me pull the dinghy up the beach and turn it around so the bow was facing the water.  That way if the wind or swell picked up it wouldn't crash over the stern and into the dinghy.  Our friends Chip and Katie were not quite as prepared and when we got back to the dinghies there were 2' waves crashing over the back of their dinghy and it was completely full of water.  Yikes.  We grabbed a bucket and helped them bail the water out then headed on our way.
Heading north from Buenaventura

On the short trip back up to Santispac we had 5 or 6 very large dolphins come visit us along the way.  Two of them hung with us for about 10 minutes.  Tallen was filming them with the GoPro and they seemed very curious about the object that was just above the water turning their heads sideways for long periods of time so they could see what it was.  We got some great photos and videos of them before they headed off another direction.  

At 5pm we were invited over to Nauticat for some horderves (I know that must be spelled wrong) with a couple other boat and we enjoyed good company while we talked and watched more dolphins swimming around the boat.  It has been a bit windy today but all in all...a pretty good day and according to Tallen "day one was a success". haha.  Ciao for now.

Bret and Tallen
SV Liahona

Friday, May 15, 2015

May 15, Santispac

The Eagle has landed! (See what I did there? Tallen/eagle talon...I think you get it... haha) Ok, I realize that I am kind of a strange character sometimes. lol. After an hour and a half drive in the back of my Mexican friend's car we picked up the little man and drove back here to Playa Santispac.  So good to have him here!  Driving  from down Hwy 1 south to Loreto I was amazed at the vast, open spaces covered only in rocks, cactus and several other thorned plants.  Every so often we would pass a small ranchito where a family lives.  The house is made of scraps of plywood and tin, a fence with second hand wire wound around crooked sticks.  A broken car or two out front and an old pick up that is probably their only running vehicle.  A couple of starving, skinny dogs, a few chickens, may a cow or two.  Kids scampering around in the dirt.  Simple. Living hand to mouth is all they know.  For the most part, they are happy.  More miles goes by then another ranchito that is a slightly different version of the last one.  

As we follow down the delapidated highway toward Loreto I am astounded at the stark, desolate beauty of this country.  Rocky bluffs line the horizon with the noble looking saugaro cactus rising out of the dried desert land.  There is a raw beauty here. One that I can appreciate and be grateful for.  

As for now, I am struggling putting my thoughts together to write this blog because I am distracted having Tallen here. All smiles for the captain today.  Until tomorrow.  

Bret and Tallen
SV Liahona

Thursday, May 14, 2015

May 14, Santispac

Well I'm about to watch the sun go down on another day in the Sea of Cortez.  Pretty mellow day here allowing me to clean up a few things and do some reading while the strong southerly winds blow.  I was going to go into Mulege today with some Mexican friends on the beach that own Ana's Restaurant but I traded that ride in for a ride tomorrow into Loreto to pick up Tallen.  I'm smiling right now...  Sometimes that little chap can really aggravate me with his habit of procrastination, haha, but I am stoked that he is coming.  About a week ago I threw out an email to him encouraging him to make a quick trip down to see his pops.  However, at the time I was in Loreto and planning on heading north.  I told him to get back to me the next day at the latest. Well, I didn't hear from him until yesterday.  Assuming that he was writing to tell me the obvious; that he wouldn't be able to make it, I was shocked when he said he wanted to come.  The problem with his good news is that it came about a 3 day's sail north of Loreto.  lol

Well, we have worked out the details and my local friends are going to take me down to Loreto to pick him up.  Sometimes the things that seem impossible are the ones that we enjoy the most.  I guess it is a little premature to think that way but I am excited to have Tallen come down, spend some time aboard, help me cross and then put the boat away.  His help will be greatly appreciated.

The rabid bee story has been swirling around the radio nets here in the central sea and many are curious as to what exactly happened.  The other boat that was behind me by a couple hours is now anchored next to me here in Santispac and they had a very similar experience, being swarmed twice during the course of their afternoon sailing.  As it turns out we believe that they are actually a fly, not a bee.  Some sort of angry fly that swarms objects due to some sort of ferremone or something.  The wife got bit (not stung) several times as well and they were in a bit more of a predicament than myself because they have no autopilot and were left to contend with the nasty buggers while they piloted the boat.  Yikes, that is a nightmare straight out of a sci-fi movie.  After comparing stories we believe that they were attracted to what they thought was some sort of a hive as they both seemed to swarm first the round radar dome at the back of the boat then once gathered spread out and covered the area being particularly attracted to things that were dark in color.  Hmmm.  What you get to experience on the sea! 

Another day in the books here aboard the Liahona.  All that is left now is to make a simple meal and enjoy it while I watch the sun go down.  Not a bad task to end the day with.  Ciao for now.

Bret
SV Liahona

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

May 13, Santispac, Bahia de Concepcion

It was a long day today covering almost 60 miles from San Juanico to Santispac here in the Bay of Conception and during the day I got it all!  The highlights were strong winds (at times), fish and bees.  Today and tomorrow were predicted to have some nice southerly flavored winds which enticed me to make the long haul north to the Bay of Conception.  As soon as the anchor was secured on deck I put up full sail, turned off the motor and pointed her north.  The first two hours were a near perfect sail with about 12-15 knots on the beam.  The next 3 hours I saw winds from 10 knots all the way up to 27 knots with the majority in the 20+ knot range.  Being a single hander I sail conservative so during that period I had the main and the genoa double reefed. Not a lot of sail area but I was moving along between 7-8 knots.  Plenty fast. Fortunately the winds were coming from offshore just a few miles to my port side off to the west which kept the swell height to a minimum because there was not very much fetch (room for the waves to build).  So strong winds with a somewhat flat sea made for some fast sailing. 

Then I rounded a point and headed more northwest and the wind completely died. Sails come in, motor goes on then 15 minutes later I had 20 knots again.  Motor goes off, sails go up and Bret is getting his exercise in for the day.  The wind changed directions several times and pretty much was a roulette wheel but with lots of sail adjustments it kept me going.  Around 2pm the wind died to about 6 knots so I had to motor sail for a bit which allowed me to also put out all of my lines.  Two handlines and two rods with reels.  Very shortly thereafter the wind picking back up to 20 knots and wouldn't you know it, I had a double hook up.  One on the handline and one on a rod and reel.  I was busy!  Roll the genoa in, reef the main and turn up into the wind to slow the boat down.  Then get the other two lines in so they didn't get tangled with the fish then work on the fish. Whew.  First I pulled in the handline, it was a Bonita so I tossed him back in the big blue. Then the rod and reel.  By now it had spooled out a LOT of line.  After about 20 minutes of reeling another Bonita revealed himself. Dang. Oh well, at least there was some action.

About a half hour after the fish were given another chance at life a swarm of bees decided to come aboard.  Yes, a swarm.  They were not very big, about the size of a fly but they were definitely bees.  Within 5 minutes there were hundreds, maybe thousands all over the back of the boat and in the cockpit.  The captains seat that I sit on behind the helm was completely covered.  I could barely see any of the blue material, the whole seat looked black.  They were not really aggressive but a few of them found their way into my shorts and I definitely got stung, or bit or whatever they do to something that pisses them off.  I got out a broom and started swatting them away or killing them with the broom but it was like the old movie "The Birds", there was way too many of them.  I'm sure I looked ridiculous swinging the broom around my head, swatting myself when one landed on me and running around the boat trying to protect myself.  My aggressiveness with the broom yielded a broken broom handle, ya, I was going crazy on those muthers. Thank goodness for autopilot because there was no way to be in the cockpit.  After about 45 minutes they just kind of all went away leaving behind just a few stragglers for me to kill.  Crazy.  I was glad to be rid of them. However, about an hour later another swarm came aboard.  The same kind of bees.  I went forward on the deck and hung out for a half hour and they slowly went away.  Oh but wait, we're not done...a third swarm came. Really?  How is this possible?  I got stung several times with the last group so I went down below with all of the hatch screens up and waited them out.  It took about 40 minutes before they decided to leave me alone and probably molest some other poor sailor.  All told I think I got stung about 15 or 20 times over the course of the 3 swarms, and yes, I have the welts to prove it. I have never had that happen before and I am hoping I won't get that opportunity again anytime in the near future.
  
The aggressive bee/fly mutants.
 

It is nice to be here in Santispac.  Kind of feels like home.  Went onshore to Ana's Restaurant and said hello to my friends Edelma and Carlos. They were happy to see me and they are going to give me a ride into Mulege tomorrow so I can pick up a few needed items.  Tarren, they asked about you and Nathan and I told them you were working up in Oregon trying to get enough money together to come back down.  It was a long day today full of many sail changes, fish stories and crazy bees.  Definitely a day to remember.  Ciao for now.  Bee free! (haha, see what I did there) lol. 

Bret 
SV Liahona

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

May 12, San Janico... In the rain

Not a typical day in Baja California.  It's raining and has been for most of the afternoon.  It is actually kind of nice just taking care of a few inside boat chores, making fresh orange juice and watching movies.  My big chore today was to empty the galley cabinets, clean them out and reorganize.  Along the way, I took care of a constant problem.  In the cabinets I have some of that rubbery non stick material laid down so dishes, pots, pans, spices and whatever else resides there doesn't move around while under way.  However, they were just laid in there and so they tend to get pushed around, wadded up and generally messing with my chronic OCD. lol.  Gluing the non skid mats down so they stay in place was my primary purpose, the cleaning and organization were just bi-products of the principal objective.  

The rain is quite unusual here in the desert but very welcomed.  I will never turn down a free, fresh water boat rinse.  Around 1pm today I just sat out in the cockpit and enjoyed the beauty of the rain.  There is a slight 5-10 knot breeze out of the southwest and the temperature is a comfortable 75 degrees.

Amazingly enough, my finger is not very sore today.  I thought for sure it would be extremely tender for a few days.  However, I think I may have damaged some nerves at the tip of the finger because most of my fingertip is basically numb and even though I probably overdosed the little guy I'm pretty sure that Xylocaine doesn't last for 2 days. haha

The guy on the cat that I blew past and talked to mid sail about 3 days ago going into Isla Coronados with Gregg is here in San Juanico and invited me over for some snacks around 5pm. I am hoping the rain will stop so my paddle over to his boat is reasonably dry.  Not much else to report so I will wrap it up.  Ciao for now.

Bret
SV Liahona

Monday, May 11, 2015

May 11, Hooked!

After a 7 hour sail covering about 40 miles I am securely anchored in San Juanico, one of my favorite anchorages.  There are about 10 other boats here including my heroes and friends Ralph and Helen onboard Moon Drifter.  Ralph is 83 and Helen is 70 and they are out here cruising enjoying their golden years.  Ralph is the man!  The trip today was pretty benign with light winds and small but lumpy seas.  I motor sailed the whole day as I had several miles to cover and there was never enough wind to carry me over 4 knots so I added some diesel power to the main and reacher to make the needed headway.  The water has warmed up a little and now is about 74 degrees. The fishing hasn't improved.  I drug 5 lines all day and did not even entice a looker.  I may fish out of the dinghy tomorrow to see if I can get a grouper as there are a lot here.

The real story for today's post actually took place last night.  I had a guy named Jared come over because he wanted to get some contact names for workers in San Carlos. While he was here the subject of fishing came up and so I showed him my worthless lures as of late. haha.  I didn't notice where he put the lure when he was done looking. I just really didn't pay attention.  He left around 8pm and I kicked back to watch a movie.  Around 10pm I decided to go topside to turn off my solar lights.  Before I even got to the first one, I have two out, I found where Jared left the lure.  lol. It all happened so fast.  My finger snagged the treble hook on the Rapala lure and when I felt the prick I instinctively jerked away.  As it turned out, that particular instinct at that particular moment was not exactly beneficial for my own personal welfare.  After the initial sting and burn I looked down to find the treble hook buried into my middle finger on my right hand.  Just two days before I noticed that the old hooks were getting a little rusted and dull so I had replaced them with some new, fresh and extremely sharp hooks.  Excellent timing.
 Injecting the special sauce

Finally got the shank cut

The hook entered just in front of the crease under the last knuckle and almost exited in the middle of my fingertip.  I say almost exited because it didn't actually come out the other side but you could see the skin pushed up and white where the tip of the hook was trying to come out from under the skin.  In order to appreciate it further you need to understand a couple of things.  Firstly, this is a deep sea lure.  It is not a trout lure. It's big. The diameter of each hook is about the same as a pencil lead and about and inch from the bottom of the curve to the pointed end just past the sizeable barb which was securely buried about half way into the flesh of my finger.  Secondly, this particular lure is connected to a hand line that is wound around a cleat on the boat to secure it while not in use.

So my problem now is I have a large barbed hook in my finger and I am stuck where I am because the lure is tied to the boat.  Any movement of the 8" long lure sends a shooting pain through my hand while I am standing half on the back deck and half in the cockpit where I got hooked trying to figure out how I am going to even get to a light to see the extent of the damage.  After about 10 minutes of very careful and ginger maneuvering I managed to get to where the line was attached to the cleat.  Giving myself enough line to carefully walk down through the companionway into the salon I turned on a light and realized I had a situation on my hands. No pun intended. My grab bag tool kit is under the stairs so I grabbed a pair of dykes to try to cut the shank of the hook off in order to be free of the lure then I would figure out how to remove the hook. After a couple of attempts I realized that the sharp pain that came along with grabbing a hold of the hook with the dykes and moving the hook inside of my finger was not going to make this very easy.  I tried several times and finally gave up.  I need Xylocaine!  Thanks to Marne's mom I have a great medical kit with a few viles and some syringes.  

My leash wasn't long enough to go to the forward cabin to get the supplies so I had to sacrifice the handline and cut myself loose.  However, I still had the lure attached to me and walking forward and digging into the cupboard where the supplies are I cradled the lure softly and carefully like a baby bird so it moved as little as possible. Movement, any movement, equals pain...pain level 9!  Call me wimpy, I don't care.  It hurt.  I found the needed supplies and then brought them back to the galley where there was more light.  Ok, I thought, I'm good to go.  Hmm, but wait.  Have you ever tried to bury a needle into yourself and then squeeze out the stinging burning solution into your flesh?  Ok, I realize this is miles away from life or death but I seriously wondered if I was going to get this done by myself and instead leave it in overnight and then take the 30 minute trip into Loreto the next morning to see a doctor.  After about 20 minutes of very wimpy attempts to push the needle deep enough into my finger to get the drugs where I needed them I finally gave a final push and drove the needle in.  It didn't go in very far but far enough to squirt a little special sauce in there, wait for a couple minutes, push it in further, more special sauce, and so on until the full length of the needle was buried in my flesh.  I'm not exactly sure how many CCs I put in but I used about a half of a vile. I don't know if that is a lot but I was pretty sure more was not going to hurt me and it felt...well.. it didn't feel at all anymore. lol.  Awesome!  

Now back to the dykes.  I squeezed as hard as I could but couldn't cut through the thick shank of the hook.  Damn! I need another tool.  Bigger dykes.  I finally got the shank cut and then I was finally free of the bothersome lure.  However, I still had one of it's hooks in my finger with about 1/4" of the shank sticking out where I cut it off.  My problem now was to push the pointed end of the hook through my skin in order to get a hold of it and pull it out the only way it was going to come out.  It turns out that my frickin skin is pretty tough and it was pretty darn difficult getting the pointy end to push through.  With vice grips on the shank end and another pair of plyers slightly open pushing down on the area where the point was trying to come trough I finally got it to pierce the skin and give me enough to grab a hold of with the vice grips.  I have determined that hooks would be a lot easier to remove if they were straight instead of curved.  I had to pull so hard on the vice grips that I actually thought the hook might be buried into my bone.  Fortunately I had enough Xylocaine in there to amputate a leg so there was zero pain just the mental anguish of knowing how hard I was pulling trying to get this damn thing out.  A big pull and a twist and the rounded hook and barb came oozing out of the end of my finger.  Mission complete!  Holy Toledo Batman!  That was not an easy self surgery. lol.  

Some clean up with hydrogen peroxide and betadyne, a clean bandage and I was back in business but not without a lot of sweaty palms and wimpy screeches. ha.  Oh, I was also a little worried about infection so I started a 5 day dose of antibiotics. As I left Escondido this morning I realized that today, and probably for the next several days, I was truly a single hander. lol.  Clint, Kari and Katie...I wish you nurses were on board, it would have made the situation much, much easier.  Catherine, thank you so much for the special sauce.  Without it I'm sure I would still have a lure attached to my hand.  Oh, and of course I do have proper documentation as I took several pics along the way.  I'll try to post those up when I get back.  This has been a long one but I wanted to give you the full picture.  btw, I'm sure that you read this much faster than I typed it as I am left to type Mexican style...two fingers, the pointer on each hand.  Ciao for now my hookless friends.

Bret
SV Liahona

Sunday, May 10, 2015

May 10, Puerto Escondido

Just want to say happy Mother's Day to all of the mothers I know and am close to, especially my own mom, my sister, Marne, her mom and also to Maureen, the mother of our children.  I hope it doesn't make anyone uncomfortable, my mentioning Maureen, but I have nothing but good to say about the kind of mom she has been for our kids.  She is kind, caring, loving and nurturing.  Thank you Maureen for everything you have given and will give of yourself for them. (She is not on the list that receives these emails but I hope someone who does will pass on my appreciation to her) 

Today is a sit and do projects day as I wait for more favorable weather here in the protected waters of Puerto Escondido just a few miles down the road from Loreto BCS.  Items checked off the list today include rinsing and stowing the Flopper Stopper, changing out the reacher furling line (part of my ongoing project of replacing all of the running rigging with new, I'm almost there) installing the new adapter and hose for the rail mounted BBQ (no more expensive throw away bottles), remove the old outboard rail mount and install the new one that I made with Ron Drake when I was there at Christmas, re-rig the solar shower lines, and last but not least, redo and retighten circuit breaker wiring for the compass at the binnacle and also the stereo (finally solved the problem of the intermittent power supply to the stereo that made it sound like it was skipping).  Bit by bit, little by little, the Liahona gets revised and revamped to better and more comfortably serve and protect Marne and I as we make it our home on the water.  

Today I have been thinking of my pal Gregg as he is hopefully putting a LONG bus ride back home in his rear view mirror.  Gregg, be sure to send me a note as soon as you are safely back home.  Last night I went up on deck and marveled at what I saw. The heavens above are so expansive, so beautiful, so endless that it leaves my mind calm yet pensive all at the same time.  Few get to truly experience what it is like to look up into the sky on a dark night and take into your mind's eye the seemingly endless numbers of stars that exist beyond our touch.  Unless you live or have visited a place 100 miles or more from a town or population center where light pollution is almost nonexistent, you and I have different perspectives of "the heavens above". Here there are so many stars and they are so bright and clear that it makes it difficult to even find or pick out the major constellations like the Big Dipper or Orion's Belt. They simply get buried among the billions of other stars that most don't even get to see.  Sometimes I lie on the foredeck staring upward watching the masthead light dance among the backdrop of stars.  It's mesmerizing. 

I have said it many times before and I will say it again...I am truly grateful for my existence here in this amazing place on this amazing planet in this amazing universe. Being honest I won't pretend to understand all of the workings of this infinitely intertwined puzzle of mankind, God and our universe but I am grateful for it.  I try to be present for the little details of that puzzle that are presented to me daily and in turn be thankful for them and use each of those experiences to better myself.  I know that good things abound wherever you are but I do feel incredibly lucky to be experiencing them here aboard the Liahona.  That is probably enough introspection for one day my friends.  Take some time and try it sometime, it's good for the soul.  Ciao for now.

Bret
SV Liahona

Saturday, May 9, 2015

May 9, Puerto Escondido

First things first.  Today is my mom's 76th birthday.  I literally can't say enough good things about the kind of mom and the kind of person she is.  Anyone that knows her knows that she is a saint.  My dad is an amazing person as well but since his accident over 30 years ago my mom has taken care of him and stuck by his side, even when things were not easy...which was most of the time.  To Karla and I she is the best mom we could ever ask for.  Caring, loving, kind, nurturing and ALWAYS supportive of us no matter where we were, what we doing or who we were with.  She didn't care about our poor choices, bad habits or whatever, she just loved us and still does.  She is truly a saint and I am so grateful to have her be my mom.  If there is anything good about me, it is directly attributed to her.  You can attribute the bad stuff to my dad. haha.  Just kidding dad. I love you too.  Best parents ever and I'm eternally grateful.  Happy birthday mom and happy mother's day tomorrow too.

Now to life aboard.  Today I had to drop Gregg off in Loreto so he could could catch his short, 30 hour bus ride home. Yikes, glad it is him and not me. lol.  It was so awesome having Gregg aboard, truly one of the best friends in my life and someone I can always laugh with and tell anything to, no matter how long ago the last visit was. Last night we stayed up until 2am just talking, telling old stories and laughing.  Good times.  However, dropping him off did not go exactly as planned.  The plan was to make the short 6 mile sail from Isla Coronados to Loreto, anchor off the beach, go ashore, have lunch, hang out some and then get him on the bus going the right direction...north.  After dropping him off I was going to sail back out to Coronados to anchor and wait for good winds to get me up to San Juanico and the Bay of Conception, my stepping off point to cross back over the to the mainland and put the boat away at the end of this month.  However, by the time we got to Loreto at around 10am the wind was blowing 20+ knots out of the north and there was 3-4' chop with whitecaps everywhere.  Not exactly ideal conditions to anchor and leave the boat let alone try to launch the dinghy and put on the 135lb motor.  Loreto is a "roadstead", just open beach off of town with zero protection except from the west where the beach is.  

If I dropped the anchor it would be very difficult for me to even get off the anchor to leave being a single hander.  It's not an easy task by yourself in heavy winds.  So we revised the plan.  I saw a fisherman in his panga (an open fiberglass boat about 15' long) near the breakwater entry so I grabbed my airhorn, gave it a blow and then waved him out to the boat.  Gregg quickly packed the rest of his stuff while the fisherman waited in the windy, choppy conditions.  Getting the panga close enough to the Liahona to make the drop was a trick and, quite frankly, the fisherman sucked at driving his own boat.  The first time he approached he came in way too hot and rammed the side of the boat then with the swells bouncing hit the bottom of the dinghy hanging in my davits.  I thought he might break the davits off.  On that approach I took the opportunity to toss Gregg's backpack into the panga before it left it's marks on the side of the boat and drifted away.  A couple more tries and he finally got close enough for Gregg to jump off the side rail into the panga.  Whoa, that was sketchy.  A wave goodbye and Gregg was off to fend for himself in town and hopefully get on the right bus heading north.  I am sure he will be fine but I felt bad just kicking him over the side into the panga.

After the Gregg disembarking situation I then needed to get out of there to someplace that had a measure of wind and wave protection.  Coronados would be good protection from the north winds and waves but it was due north, exactly where the wind and waves were coming from which meant beating into it for about 2 hours taking a pounding.  Not very enticing.  So I pointed the Liahona downwind toward Escondido about 15 miles to the south.  The winds were blowing between 18-25 knots and the seas were building so running south, even though it is the wrong direction, seemed like the most reasonable thing to do.  I only put out a double reefed genny, no mainsail and was doing over 6 knots, rolling and surfing to the safety of Escondido Bay.  I got here around 2pm and the flat calm water in the protection of the bay was much appreciated and I am currently tied back up to buoy number 112.  Gotta love that!  

After a trip to the marina office to check in, instant message Marne and family, I am back aboard and enjoying the rest.  I will wait here in Escondido until more favorable winds prevail to carry me farther north where I need to be in about 3 weeks.  Ciao for now.

Bret (now back to singlehander status)
SV Liahona

Friday, May 8, 2015

May 8, Isla Coronados

The sands of Isla Coronados
 
Gregg and I awoke this morning in this picturesque anchorage with about a dozen other boats but by 10am all but 4 have left for other anchorages.  Today is Gregg's last day so we wanted to just relax and enjoy what is here.  This afternoon we went for a hike on the island.  Isla Coronado is an old volcano and there is a trail from the beach that leads about a mile and a half up to the summit.  So after pulling the dinghy up safely above the high water mark on the fine grained, white sand, we headed out.  We had not determined to necessarily go all the way up, we just wanted to get up on the ridgeline to enjoy the views.  We walked for about 45 minutes or so until we were high up on a ridge, took some pics and started back down.  Looking down into the anchorage it was truly like looking at a postcard from the Caribbean or something. Dark shades of red and black cinder dotting the hillside that cascaded down into aqua blue waters that are accentuated by the white sand bottom only a few feet below.  Out near the deeper, darker water, just past an almost drawn in color line beyond the white sand, sat the Liahona along with 3 other boats, quietly swaying on their anchor rodes.

When I was walking up the steep, rocky trail with Gregg I thought of two people, Marne and John.  Marne because I know that she will want to run/hike up to the top when we are back down here this fall and John because it would be an epic trail run that he would love.  A classic Bret trail run, steep, rocky and gnarly; maybe without the cross country, off trail part of the normal Bret trail run.  lol.  You wander off trail here and something prickly is most assuredly going to get your attention.  As I thought about running the trail with John I quickly remembered that I wouldn't make it 1/4 mile up that steep hillside before I would be sounding like I was having an asthma attack. lol.  I am definitely not in shape for that but I am looking forward to some trail runs when I get home.

Current negatives here in the cruising life...the water temperature is a crazy low 67 degrees.  It isn't Rogue River cold but it is not as inviting as it was a few weeks ago.  It is a weird year here in the Sea of Cortez.  By now the sea is supposed to be warming not cooling.  The other negative, which is somewhat tied to the cold water, is the fishing.  Nothing!  I am hoping that changes as I move north.  

Toilet report - After rebuilding that whole system a couple of days ago I still had a slow backflow problem with sea water leaking back into the bowl.  The fix is a new "joker valve" which I had put in with the fix.  How could it not work being brand new?  I don't have the answer to that but this morning I put another new joker valve in and viola...the head is now functioning as intended again.  Whew!  Head problems are no fun.

That is another day aboard.

Bret and Gregg
SV Liahona

Thursday, May 7, 2015

May 7, Isla Corodados

This morning we took a short cruise into Loreto about 10 miles away.  In Loreto we went to the bus station to check on schedules for Gregg then off to the plaza for a pretty tasty pizza and all you can eat tacos.  A quick trip to Ley (the grocery store) then the walk back to the docks.  Loreto is not really a place to anchor overnight as there is no protection.  Cruisers call that a "roadstead anchorage".  After putting the dinghy away we pulled anchor, tossed out a reefed main and genoa and we were off to Isla Coronados which lies a short 8 miles to the north of town.  On the sail we spotted a catamaran that was running full sail and to my surprise we easily caught him, pulled aside mid-sail, said hello then sailed off in front of him.  I have no idea what kind of catamaran it was but it definitely was not very fast as I was sailing faster with a reefed main and genny and he was under full sail.  That was my probably my highlight of the day. lol.

The cathedral in Loreto
 

We sailed all the way into the anchorage here at Isla Coronados just enjoying the day quiet and peaceful.  There are about 12 other boats anchored here and we have already met a few of them.  Gotta love that cruising community.  Everybody is here under the same basic pretense...take life easy and enjoy the beauty along the way. Most likely we will hang out here tomorrow and do some exploring.  Coronados is an old volcano and the shores are either white sand or black or red cinder.  The bay where we are anchored is very well protected in all directions except from the west and nearing the beach it looks like a postcard.  Shallow, clear waters covering soft white sand.  It's not a bad place to be. Not at all.
Talking with friends Diane and Bill from SV True Love

Bret and Gregg
SV Liahona

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

May 6, Bahia Marquer, Isla Carmen

Yes, we are still here.  Issues kept us in the anchorage today. More on that in a bit. This morning I was happy to awake and feel normal again.  Dang, that was a bummer of a day and a half there.  I was especially happy about feeling better because today was my day to be the net controller for the Sonrisa Net on the ham radio.  Things went well with the net and then I decided to dig into what I had hoped to be a quick fix project that turned into a whole day ordeal.  I started on it at 8:30 this morning and just finished with it about 15 minutes ago.  It is currently 5:45pm.

Yesterday after either the captain or crew (we won't mention which and in reality it doesn't really matter) did their morning duties in the aft head it appeared that there might be some blockage.  The pump handle was extremely hard to push in one direction and impossible in the other.  Ok I thought, a little blockage.  One of the easiest remedies for a crappy little blockage (pun intended) is to let it set in the head overnight and usually it will break down enough to push it through the next day.  That brings us to this morning.  After the net I was anxious to pump that blockage out of the boat and go about my day.  Nothing doing.  No change from yesterday. Not moving. Chit! (yes, pun intended again).  Ok, so the easy way out was to grab a piece of wire and push it through the through hull in the side of the boat, past the valve and hopefully loosen the blockage.  Pump again and we are good to go.  This does require a swim as the through hull comes out below the water line of the boat.  No big deal. However, it nets us nothing.  Ok, onto a little more aggressive route to the same approach, a drain snake.  Back in the water, insert the snake, Gregg winds the snake from up on the deck, try pump out the blockage and hopefully move on to the rest of our day.  However, again, no go. 

Time to move to the head and attack the problem from inside the boat.  After tracing the plumbing from the toilet to the through hull where it leaves the boat there were a few possibilities.  A) The pump assembly itself, B) the connection from the pump assembly to the hose, C) the 3-way valve to send it overboard or into the holding tank, D)the hose from there to the through hull, or E) the through hull valve itself.  In my head I thought it was most likely 3-way valve between the head, the through hull and the holding tank.  Karma would dictate that it was the 3-way valve because it is the most difficult to get to buried in the bottom of the cabinet below the floorboards below the sink AND being in the lowest spot it would naturally drain any and all effluent once we disconnected any of the 3 hoses.  Ding, ding, ding!  Karma is the winner!  As I disconnect each hose it drains it's rosie fresh effluent water straight from the toilet onto the floor, which is where I happen to be sitting.  So fun!  As I was on the floor of the head imitating a contortionist and grunting, cussing under my breath etc, Gregg was next to the navigation table handing me tools, clean paper towels and spraying Febreeze to mitigate the gag reflex for both of us.

We are now about 4 hours into the project and the 3-way valve is removed along with the accompanying hoses, hose clamps, etc.  The orifices through valve and the hoses is supposed to be 1 1/2".  What we are looking at is about 3/4" in most of the hoses and a hole about the size of a fat pencil in most of the valves or elbows. Hmmm...definitely a problem.  The toilets are flushed with salt water which over time begin a calcification process that given enough time can completely close off the flow. We were almost there.  Most of the calcification was about 1/4 thick or better and it is a very hard substance made up of salt and, well you know, chit water.  Let's just call it some nasty, very hard, crusty stuff.  Gregg and I spent about 2 hours chiseling the "crusty stuff" out of the valves, elbows, hoses and wherever else it resided.  All the while being careful not to break anything because that means no toilet.  

Reassembly took about an hour and a half and then the test...turn on the valves, flush and check.  Check, check and check.  Mission accomplished!  Putting everything away and cleaning up takes another half hour and we sit down for a rest.  It is about 4:30pm. I go back into the head and notice there is a small leak.  Grrr.  So I take off the bottom valve to the head again, more really fresh smelling water again. Remove, clean, replace.  Try again.  Nope.  Still leaking.  Think some more, try again.  After readjusting some hose clamps, mopping up again and a thorough bleaching to clean everything, the Liahona has a working head again.  All day of back tweaking work mixed in with what seems like a frolick in your backyard septic tank and viola...the deed is done.  Not exactly another day in paradise as Gregg might have pictured but there is a silver lining...at least we were in paradise.  Although wading in chit probably is not any better here than it is there.  
 On task fixing the aft head

Through hulls for the head plumming.

That, however, is another day aboard the SV Liahona.  Ciao for now.

Bret and Gregg
SV Liahona

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

May 5, Bahia Marquer, Isla Carmen

Ok, it's May 5th, my 53rd birthday.  Ya, not a good day.  Last night I must have eaten something bad because half way through dinner I suddenly felt bad and had Gregg take me back to the boat.  I maybe slept an hour all night.  Today I have been in my bunk all day only leaving a couple times to go to the bathroom and now to write this post.  I feel a little better but still not good.  I just want to feel like myself again.  That is all I can write for now as my head is aching and I find myself staring at the computer screen not knowing what to say and realizing that I am just staring at the screen. Gotta go. Hope to feel better tomorrow.

Bret and Gregg
SV Liahona

Thank you to everyone who wished me a happy birthday.

Tanner, Tarren and Tallen - I love you guys so much.  Miss you tons.

Monday, May 4, 2015

May 4, Bahia Marquer, Isla Carmen

We got up at a little before 6am this morning to make an assault on the lobsters that would be roaming about finishing up their evening feeding.  Cold air, cold water but all worth it. Right?  WRONG!  Gregg, myself and two from the sailboat Makai were along for the lobster dive.  I offered to get in and check it out and then when it was confirmed that it was easy pickins we would all get in and put away enough lobster to last a year. haha.  Well, I was in the water for about 40 minutes and saw exactly nothing!  It was a cold 40 minutes and I am a little stumped as to why we didn't see anything.  I...I didn't see anything. lol.  Anyway we got skunked on the lobster so we came back, made some coffee and watched a movie at 7 am in the morning.  Doesn't everyone watch a movie at 7am?  We pulled out of Danzante with a slight breeze and quickly turned off the motor to enjoy a peaceful sail for the short 6 miles or so we had to go.  The sail didn't last very long before it was dead calm and glassy so we motored the rest of the way in.

This afternoon found us diving off of the point with Makai looking for whatever we could find to add to the dinner menu.  Gregg was instructed on scallop harvesting by Jackie on Makai and the three of them got some scallops that we will put along side marinated steak  then followed by some birthday cake and Kahlua brownies for Eric's birthday today.  btw, the snorkeling was super awesome although the water is about 72 degrees which is a little bit chilly.

I just finished squeezing several fresh oranges for orange juice and put the brownies in the oven for tonight's meal with Makai.  The day has been peaceful and we are looking forward to spending time with our friends this evening.  Not much else to report. Ciao for now.

Bret and Gregg
SV Liahona

Sunday, May 3, 2015

May 3, Isla Danzante

Gregg and I are anchored here in one of Marne's favorite anchorages, Isla Danzante (the dancer).  It as a short 45 minutes or so from Puerto Escondido to the lower anchorage where we dropped the hook in about 20' of water in a narrow cove shaped into the volcanic rock with a white sand beach at it's head.  The water is about 74 degrees and we can easily look overboard to see the chain and anchor lying on the bottom below us.  

Gregg is still a little lagged from his sleepless 30 hour bus ride down here so he is currently taking a little "power nap" in the aft cabin.  The nap was a suggestion from me after he fell asleep several times during a lunchtime conversation out in the cockpit.  He had his sunglasses on and as I talked away, as I usually do, haha, and finally proposed a question to him there was no answer.  After this happened several times I figured it was time for my little buddy to take a little nappy-poo.  lol.  

Earlier today we took a dinghy ride up to the north end of the anchorage to say hi to a friend on another boat and also to go for a hike up the hillside where we were rewarded with a beautiful view of this part of the Sea of Cortez with at least 4 to 5 other islands in our view out in the distance.  Later we did a little did a little "bug" recon to scout out an area for some night diving to put a few lobsters on the table in the next night or two.  Tarren, Nathan and I have dove here at night before and we were rewarded with some bounty so I am hoping for more of the same tonight or early tomorrow morning.  We haven't decided yet if we will go out around 10pm tonight or early tomorrow morning just as light is breaking around 6am.  

Gregg is already starting to unwind a little and is not grabbing for his phone to check texts or messages 23 times an hour after being disappointed on every occasion he did so and me reminding him there is nothing new on his phone because there is no service here.  On several occasions when a question comes up in conversation he grabs his phone, swipes it on and starts heading toward Google for the answer when I laugh and ask him what the hell he is doing.  "There's nothing there pal, no service, no internet".  We both laugh and I am hoping that by tomorrow he will get the message and stuff it into the bottom of a closet where it belongs until he crosses back over the border.  haha.

This may sound a little strange but it makes me very happy to have him here and see him actually decompressing.  Seeing him smile and realize he doesn't have a care in the world for the next several days except to be present and enjoy the quiet, stunning beauty, free of any encumbrances of work, cell phones, traffic, bills or any of the hundreds of other daily distractions that you all battle in "the real world".  

Dinner tonight will be aboard The Makai, a 43' Leopard Cat with a family of 5.  Three kids ages 14, 12 and 10.  Super nice people from southern California who have lived aboard for almost 2 years now starting in the Caribbean and now here in Mexico. Their journey, this chapter anyway, will end sometime this summer when they take their boat to San Diego, put it away and go back to work so they can do it again sometime in the future, hopefully sooner than later.

No boat repairs, no fish (but hopefully lobster tonight), no worries.  Ciao for now.

Bret and Gregg
SV Liahona