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Friday, December 24, 2004

Christmas in Mexico

December 24, 2004
Zihuatanejo, Guerrero Coast, Mexico (17o 38' N 101o 33' W)

"Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful
and as long as we've no place to go: Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow"

That's what the singers on the town stage are singing, if you can believe it. Of course they're singing in Spanish, but the tune is unmistakable and remarkably the 'let it snow' part is in English. Did I mention the low temperature today was 78 degrees? I'm not holding out much hope for snow...

We went to Pozole Thursday yesterday for lunch and had a great time. It was set up by Rick, of Rick's Bar, an American who runs a cruiser hangout in town. Linda and I and six other cruisers boarded a set of taxis which took us to the restaurant. Pozole is a traditional meal served on Thursday. We're not all that sure why it's served on that day, but the story is that pigs are traditionally slaughtered on Wednesday and in an effort to eat all the pork before Friday (meat not being allowed on Friday) soup was made on Thursday. Pozole is a light brothy soup with hominy and meat, either pork or chicken. The meal began with a plate of tapas (taquitos, small chili rellenos, chips, pork rinds, avocados and beans) and would have been very reasonably priced except for the tequila we began sipping. We all blame Roberto for starting it, but in the end we (Roberto, Joe and I) had consumed almost $60 USD in tequila. It was worth it though. This amount of drinking took the better part of the afternoon and as a result we were there long enough to see three excellent performances. The first was a solo singer who played the guitar, the second was two young men and two young women who did traditional dances on the tiny stage, and the third was a much larger guitar/percussion band who were still singing when we staggered out.

Unfortunately, we returned to the beach to find our dinghy less than fully inflated. The large repair patch from the panga propeller in Bahia Santa Maria must have gotten blown off by the increased pressure caused by the heat. Not the greatest Christmas present, but at least we're surrounded by friendly cruisers who will no doubt be very helpful in repairing it again.

Merry Christmas every one!

John and Linda

Sunday, December 19, 2004

More updates

December 19, 2004
Zihuatanejo, Guerrero Coast, Mexico (17o 38' N 101o 33' W)

We left Tenacatita bay on the 14th at 1000. It's 220 nm from Tenacatita to Zihuatanejo so we expected to take two nights. We planned on taking it slow, motoring at reduced RPM and sailing whenever the wind would drive us at 2.5 kt or more. The first day and night were mostly uneventful. We had a nice afternoon sail on the first day, close reaching in the sea breeze, and then motored most of the first night. Dawn on the second day revealed an overcast sky, part of the 'Pineapple Express' our weather man has been talking about for days. The sea breeze never really filled in until around 1300. Even at that it was pretty light but I decided to set the spinnaker anyway. There wasn't enough wind for the main, so I dropped it and we sailed quietly along with only the spinnaker to drive us. Linda was below sleeping and I was looking forward to my off watch so I could enjoy snoozing in the quiet calm too. I went off watch at 1500 and immediately laid down for a nap. Of course 10 minutes later the boat heeled over in a gust and I decided to take the spinnaker down. We dropped the spinnaker without incident, hoisted the main and rolled out the jib. The main had a reef in it from when we were motoring so I shook it out and we were sailing along at about 4 kts. That's when the real fun began. Looking ahead I could see a line of big black clouds which looked like they were dropping a lot of rain. I remarked to Linda that it looked like a squall, not that I really know what a squall looks like, but that's what I imagine they look like. Anyway within 10 minutes the wind went from 8 kts to 25 and it was time for more sail changes! Roll up the jib, reef the main, set the staysail and we were sailing at 6 kts on a close reach! The worst thing is we were on a lee shore, just 7 miles to leeward and the coast was waiting to swallow us whole. Fortunately we were able to make some distance off shore and sailed along happily enough, watching the waves grow and grow. Three hours later, the sun was going down, the waves were 6-7 feet and the boat was soaked. Thankfully the wind was starting to die down, however all it did was change direction on us. Right after the squall blew itself out we were saturated by the scent of wet earth in the air. This was pretty strange considering it had been blowing directly on-shore for the last 3 hours. Sure enough, within 30 minutes the wind was blowing directly offshore at 20-25, the bad part being that the waves still hadn't had a chance to die down from the squall so the new wind, blowing directly against the waves, made them even higher and steeper! Time to soak down the other side of the boat! We sailed almost all night and pulled into Zihuatanejo bay at around 10 am, just as planned, well almost.

We finally managed to leave the pack behind and arrived at Zihua by ourselves. That's not to say that there are no other boats here. There are 15 in the general area, but at least we didn't arrive within a few hours of them. Most of the boats from Tenacatita decided to spend Christmas and New Years at Barra de Navidad, an expensive ($1.50 USD per foot!) marina/resort so we may not be seeing them for awhile.

We spent our first day walking around town looking at things and found the two most important places - the tortillaria and the bakery (panaderia). Of course there are more than one of each, and in fact we don't really even need to go to the specific shop as we found out when we went to the greatest place in town - the public market! We spent our second day walking around this wonderful place with its close set stalls and narrow aisles. You can find whatever you need from pork to power tools, from cucumbers to Christmas lights, from freshly made cheese to freshly made shoes, all within a single building on one city block. We ate lunch at one of the 'Fondas' (small food stands in one section of the market) and then loaded our bag full of fresh provisions to take back to the boat.

If there's any down side to Zihuatanejo it's the anchorage. It's calm enough but, as usual, the city sewers empty into the bay and many of the cruisers said the anchorage is not safe to swim in. Oh well, a clean clear spot to anchor is only a mile or two away and with a gelato shop within 100 yds of where we park our dinghy I don't mind having to use a little outboard gas to go for a swim.

NAKIA Fun facts

We're in the Central time zone now.

Closest US city is probably Brownsville, Texas, 550 nm to the north east.

San Francisco is about 1700 nm from Zihuatanejo as the crow flies.

Since July 1, NAKIA has traveled almost 3600 nautical miles ranging from the high northern latitude of 51o N to our current tropical latitude of 17o N

Where we are here, in Zihuatanejo, we have about 11.5 hours of daylight per day (including twilight). In San Francisco there is about 10 hours of daylight per day. At our northern most point in Canada, there is about 8.5 hours of daylight per day.

You can buy the Mexican version of Crystal Light in flavors like Horchata, Tamarindo, Pineapple w/green tea, Pina Colada, Guava, Lime Mint, Watermelon, Mango, Grapefruit, Mandarin, Flor de Jamaica (haven't quite figured out what this one is yet, but it's red), and Orange Pineapple. We love the stuff so much that yesterday we stocked up with 52 packets!

As if to prove to you that they really are food, a popular brand of hot dogs here is "Fud" (the 'u' in Spanish is pronounced 'oo').

Saturday, December 18, 2004


December 18, 2004
Zihuatanejo, Guerrero Coast, Mexico (17o 38' N 101o 33' W)

Well it's been some time since I've updated the blog so I thought I'd write a few notes down to keep everyone informed of what's been going on. I guess the reason I haven't been writing is there's not much out of the ordinary happening, I guess I like to have something interesting to write about.

We spent 9 nights in this large bay on the Colima coast. There are a number of anchorages. Once again, we arrived 'in company' with several other boats. Same as before, we didn't announce our plans to leave Careyes but at soon as we were out of the anchorage we heard the other boats on the VHF talking about getting underway. I guess you could say we're trend-setters.

Our first big activity in Tenacatita was to take the Jungle River Trip. Several of the boats in the anchorage agreed to make the run together (perhaps thinking that ten dinghies would be less likely to get attacked by crocodiles). We got up early in the morning (1000) and headed in.

The Jungle River Trip is a 4 mile dinghy ride from the north east anchorage, inland through a mangrove swamp, to the outer anchorage in Tenacatita bay. It was pretty cool, kind of like cruising Georgiana Slough in the Delta, only shorter and much narrower. For about half a mile the water is completely over hung with mangrove trees and the channel is only 10-12 ft wide. At the end of the trip you can pull your dinghy up on the inside of the sand spit that separates the outer anchorage from the mangrove swamp. The 'town' of Tenacatita is on the sand spit and there are a number of palapa restaurants to relax at after worrying about the nasties in the swamp. We made the trip in company with about 7 dinghies which was fun. At one point we had three dinghies rafted together so only the center dinghy had to run its motor.

The next day we took a taxi to La Manzanilla, the closest town, to do some shopping. We got an unexpected treat, when we got out of the cab the driver said, "Don't miss the crocodiles!" We walked over to where he was pointing and there in the lagoon were about 15 crocs up to 15 ft! There was a chain link fence around the lagoon for protection, whether it was the crocs or us being protected is uncertain. We followed the road around the lagoon to the beach where we found a flaw in the protective barrier - the fence was laid flat, one of its posts having been toppled. There was a clear path all the way down to 'Crocodile Beach' although no one wanted to take me up on my offer of 20 pesos to the first person to touch a crock. I wonder why!

One of the other boats in the anchorage told us about a laundry service through the hotel. You drop your laundry off at a palapa on the beach and the hotel on-call doctor comes and picks it up (there aren't enough emergencies to keep him busy so he does laundry on the side). He takes it back to his home based facility and washes, dries, folds and packs in plastic all of your laundry for 10 pesos per kilo (40 cents per pound). He supplies the detergent, softener and big plastic bags. Linda wasn't 100% satisfied with the results, the clothes weren't quite dry and they used more softener then she normally does, but she's having a hard time justifying doing our own laundry. Our cost to do it ourselves is usually more then 60 cents per pound!

After a few days we moved over to the outer anchorage which I liked much better. There were no big hotels to blast disco music at night and all the palapa restaurants closed up at 7 pm so it was very quiet. It was here that we had out first experience getting water outside of a marina. We'd noticed several water delivery trucks drive through town and stop at the various palapas. One day we stopped one and inquired about the price. 13 pesos (about $1.15) buys you 5 gallons of purified water. There is a one time deposit on the bottles (they are water cooler style 5 gallon jugs) of 40 pesos, presumably we can turn the bottles in for a refund. We decided to get 5 jugs, for a total of 265 pesos, and loaded them into the dinghy. It was a little challenging rowing them out to the boat (we didn't have the outboard on because the landing was so close to where we anchored) but it was easy enough to put all 25 gallons on the boat and get them into the tank. The next day we repeated the experiment, however this time while we were waiting for our specific water truck to come by a 'local' told us he wasn't working that day. We decided not to wait any longer and bought our jugs from one of the palapas for a slightly inflated price of 15 pesos. Sure enough, as were loading our 'expensive' water into the dinghy we saw our water truck drive by out on the street. Sooner or later I'll learn who to trust when, I hope.

That's all for now, I'm writing more but want to get this posted before the end of the weekend.

Next up:
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride from Tenacatita to Zihuatanejo
How not to lose weight by shopping and eating at the public market
NAKIA fun facts, where the heck are we and how far have we been anyway?

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Bahia Chamela and Bahia Careyes

December 4, 2004
Bahia Careyes, Jalisco Coast (19o 24' N 105o 01' W)

We left Bahia Chamela this morning after spending 4 nights in what turned out to be a very nice little place. Bahia Chamela is a mini cruising ground with an anchorage near a town and a couple of islands out in the bay. We stopped at the islands on our way into the bay and liked it so much we dropped the anchor for two nights.

It was a little exposed to wind and sea but the fact that the water was clear with great snorkeling made up for any downside (I could easily see the anchor drop into clean sand through 20 feet of water). Another great feature was a small bay where hotels sometimes brings guests. The beach at the head of the bay is clean white sand and there's a large palapa built above the beach. We spent two wonderful afternoons there snorkeling and laying in the hammock we strung on the rafters of the palapa.

After we had our fill of solitude and quiet we moved over to the town anchorage. Most of the other boats were there and if easy access to beach restaurants and small mercados is your idea of a great anchorage, this place is for you. Of course there wasn't any good snorkeling within swimming distance, the pangas roared off of the beach at 0630 and the smell of burning garbage hung thick in the air every night. But it was nice enough.

Bahia Careyes, according to the guide book, is "one of those picturesque hideaways you dreamed about before you started cruising." There are three small beaches tucked back behind two islands. You anchor off a beach, outside of the hotel's swimming area, and the islands 'protect' the anchorage. Nice in theory, but it's pretty rolly. Also, the hotels at the head of each beach are very high end. An ice cream at the hotel deli was 66 pesos ($6 USD) and if you want a day pass to use the pool, it will cost you 660 pesos ($60 USD) per person. I think we'll pass.

It didn't get any better at the restaurant at the head of another beach, 70 pesos for a coke and a beer (plus tip). The third beach has a Club Med (Playa Blanca) which, thankfully, is closed. So I guess you could say it's very inexpensive. You don't get anything, but you don't have to pay anything either.

On the bright side we caught a 3 ft dorado (mahi-mahi) on the way over. Of course it's too big to fit in the fridge so we gave a lot of it away but it was definitely the biggest fish we've caught to date.

John and Linda

Later that same day...

Well the Club Med turned out to be very interesting indeed. We took the dinghy over and pulled up on the beach (the nicest beach of the three little coves) and wandered around the deserted grounds. Everything was complete, if in a state of disrepair. Rooms, bars, pools, restaurants and the gym all seemed ready to accommodate hordes of singles ready to meet each other. All that was lacking was a big "Se Vende" sign out front. We saw no one, not even the gardener who'd been busy knocking ripe coconuts off the trees and piling them up. I liberated two for drinking later. We did get to see some of the locals: four cotamundi (three babies and a mother) who descended from a coconut tree as we approached. We hung out on the pretty white sand beach and bathed outside the surf (wishing the entire time that the water was turned on so we could use the beach shower to rinse off with fresh water).

Tuesday, November 30, 2004


November 28, 2004
Ipala, Jalisco Coast (20o 14' N 105o 34' W)

The cruiser potluck at Philo's was pretty good. More than enough to eat and some great dishes (sweet potatoes with marshmallows almost as good as Kimmie makes!). But the turkey was a little over cooked. Too bad they didn't have Frank around to tell them when they were done.

Even though we enjoyed shopping in La Cruz (there are a lot of mini-supers in La Cruz) the dinghy landing was too disgusting to want to stay longer. The 'sewage treatment plant' empties into a stream that runs into the harbor where you land your dinghy. I'm not sure what kind of 'treatment' they put the sewage through but it's not very effective in my opinion.

As a result we moved back to Punta de Mita. Friday we took a walk on the beach and looked for a tortilleria in town (where tortillas are made fresh every day). In spite of only having five streets to search we were unable to locate it. For all we know Punta de Mita does not have an actual tortilleria, though were assured by a number of locals that the town was so equipped. I'm sure the problem was the people saying that there was a tortilleria were all men; the women we asked either didn't know or thought that there wasn't one. We could have gone with the more reliable opinion, the women's, and saved ourselves the trouble but we needed the exercise the search provided.

This morning we awoke at 0430 to make the trip from Punta de Mita to Ipala, a short hop of 45 miles. I'm sure you're wondering why we got up so early for what should be about an 8 hour trip. Well between Punta de Mita and Ipala lies the dreaded Cabo Corrientes (Cape Currents) and common wisdom is to round this formidable headland in the early morning or at night. We chose the former and went around in dead calm conditions at 1000. Even though it was calm there was quite a sea running because of the 1 kt foul current running against us. Cape Current strikes again.

The forecast (if you can call it that; we get our weather from an amateur prognosticator who's every other sentence is 'you have to take this with a grain of salt') called for NW wind 10-15 kt. Imagine our surprise when around 1200 an 18 kt SOUTHERLY wind starts to blow. If it wasn't bad enough that we had to beat into wind and sea, the anchorage we were going to is completely open to the south allowing the full force of the wind and chop to churn the little harbor into a washing machine! Shortly after the wind came up one of the boats who was out ahead of us and all ready anchored called to tell us that we might want to reconsider. We did. After arriving in the general vicinity of the anchorage we hove to on the off shore tack to wait. There was no way we could move to the next harbor. It was only 50 miles away and if we sailed directly there we'd arrive in the middle of the night. So we chose to wait offshore from Ipala for an hour to see if the wind might change to it's forecast direction. I made bread and Linda took a nap.

Sure enough, around 1500 the wind died and we went into the anchorage to see what we could see. There was still a stiff chop bouncing around but we could tell it would eventually die down. We set the anchor and jumped in to cool off.

It seems as though we're finally getting acclimated to Mexico. In addition to eating tortillas instead of bread, we also find the water a little chilly if it's temperature isn't above 82 degrees. In addition we find we need a blanket if the temperature in the cabin falls below 78 degrees. Brrr, that's cold!

Oh well, I guess that's enough of our hardship and despair. Tomorrow we're moving to Chamela where there are supposed to be many fun activities from snorkeling to beach combing. I hope the water's not too cold.

John and Linda

Punta de Mita

November 25, 2004
Punta de Mita, Banderas Bay, Mexico (20o 45' N 105o 32' W)

We've spent the last couple days at Punta de Mita getting in the 'swing' of things again. Reading on the boat, walking around town and taking a hike out to the far west point.

The walk around town didn't reveal anything special. Although we did walk past some new condos being built which, according to the billboard, start at $325,000 USD. That's pretty fancy for someplace 10 miles from the nearest gas station!

I've had an ear ache (from getting water in my ear while swimming) and have run out of ear drops. The drops I use are mostly rubbing alcohol, so I've been searching the local shops to find a small bottle which I can use to refill my ear drop bottle. Of course I don't know what the phrase for 'rubbing alcohol' is in Spanish, nor do I know the word for 'rubbing' (thank goodness the Spanish word for 'alcohol' is 'alcohol'!) so I've been describing what I need as 'alcohol por su piel' (alcohol for your skin). This had not been too successful. However last night we went into a different mini-super (really a convenience store) and after describing what I needed the shop keeper reached behind the counter and produced a small bottle labeled 'Alcohol (SIN DESNATURALIZAR)'. That's funny, I thought, SIN in Spanish means 'without'. The label seemed to suggest this is pure alcohol without the denaturing contents that make rubbing alcohol un-drinkable. I unscrewed the cap and took a whiff. Sure enough, moonshine! No wonder they had it behind the counter. I've yet to try it in my ear, but I'm sure the effect will be far more dramatic then that north of the border stuff. And no, I don't have any ideas of drinking it.

You may recall my writing about the 'fish fountain' we'd get in some anchorages (small fish jumping sound like a babbling fountain). It turns out Mexico has its own version. The difference is you have to wait for it. When we first arrived at Pt. de Mita we noticed a huge school of fish which would churn the surface of the water white on occasion, but the school always seemed to be near one boat in the anchorage. After a day or so we also noticed a few fish swimming around under NAKIA. They seemed to like the protection of the boat over them. They provided a small 'fish fountain' from time to time, but nothing very spectacular. The next day there were a few more fish, and the next day even more. Our fish fountain was getting pretty big. About the third day we caught up with the people from the boat which had the large school. They'd been anchored in the same spot for several weeks, no doubt collecting a large school of fish during their stay.

That's about all for this report. We're going to Thanksgiving dinner at a local cruiser's hang out this evening. Should be fun but we miss our friends who will be celebrating on Angel Island.

John and Linda

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Punta de Mita

November 25, 2004
Punta de Mita, Banderas Bay, Mexico (20o 45' N 105o 32' W)

We've spent the last couple days at Punta de Mita getting in the 'swing' of things again. Reading on the boat, walking around town and taking a hike out to the far west point.

The walk around town didn't reveal anything special. Although we did walk past some new condos being built which, according to the billboard, start at $325,000 USD. That's pretty fancy for someplace 10 miles from the nearest gas station!

I've had an ear ache (from getting water in my ear while swimming) and have run out of ear drops. The drops I use are mostly rubbing alcohol, so I've been searching the local shops to find a small bottle which I can use to refill my ear drop bottle. Of course I don't know what the phrase for 'rubbing alcohol' is in Spanish, nor do I know the word for 'rubbing' (thank goodness the Spanish word for 'alcohol' is 'alcohol'!) so I've been describing what I need as 'alcohol por su piel' (alcohol for your skin). This had not been too successful. However last night we went into a different mini-super (really a convenience store) and after describing what I needed the shop keeper reached behind the counter and produced a small bottle labeled 'Alcohol (SIN DESNATURALIZAR)'. That's funny, I thought, SIN in Spanish means 'without'. The label seemed to suggest this is pure alcohol without the denaturing contents that make rubbing alcohol un-drinkable. I unscrewed the cap and took a whiff. Sure enough, moonshine! No wonder they had it behind the counter. I've yet to try it in my ear, but I'm sure the effect will be far more dramatic then that north of the border stuff. And no, I don't have any ideas of drinking it.

You may recall my writing about the 'fish fountain' we'd get in some anchorages (small fish jumping sound like a babbling fountain). It turns out Mexico has its own version. The difference is you have to wait for it. When we first arrived at Pt. de Mita we noticed a huge school of fish which would churn the surface of the water white on occasion, but the school always seemed to be near one boat in the anchorage. After a day or so we also noticed a few fish swimming around under NAKIA. They seemed to like the protection of the boat over them. They provided a small 'fish fountain' from time to time, but nothing very spectacular. The next day there were a few more fish, and the next day even more. Our fish fountain was getting pretty big. About the third day we caught up with the people from the boat which had the large school. They'd been anchored in the same spot for several weeks, no doubt collecting a large school of fish during their stay.

That's about all for this report. We're going to Thanksgiving dinner at a local cruiser's hang out this evening. Should be fun but we miss our friends who will be celebrating on Angel Island.

John and Linda

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Cruising. Finally!

November 21, 2004
Punta de Mita, Banderas Bay (20o 45' N 105o 32' W)

We left Paradise Marina yesterday after 10 long days tied to the dock. Our destination was Punta de Mita, 12 nm to the west, but on the way there the wind came up on the nose so we altered course to the north and dropped anchor at La Cruz for the night. Total distance traveled: 9 nm. On shore a brass band blared away, it being revolution day, and we swam in the 80 degree water to clean off sunscreen and sweat.

This morning we hauled anchor and set sail in the warm land breeze to drop anchor in our original destination, Punta de Mita. Even though we're a short day sail away from Puerto Vallarta and the Paradise Village Marina, we feel like we're finally cruising in Mexico. Fun as it was riding the bus into PV, drinking cold beers at the Yacht Club, swimming in the resort pools, and shopping in the mall, it just didn't feel like anything we'd call cruising. After arriving here we put up the sun awning, had lunch, spent the afternoon reading in the cockpit, and went for a dinghy ride. Now that's cruising.

We plan on being here three nights and then moving back to La Cruz on Wednesday for Thanksgiving Dinner at Philo's, the local cruiser hangout. It's potluck and Linda wants 'real' mashed potatoes so the only thing we have to do between now and then is find some Idaho russets (or a reasonable substitute). Yep, that ought to take two days.

John and Linda

Friday, November 12, 2004

PV and Pictures

We're in Puerto Vallarta for the next week so there won't be many new posts to the blog. However the Yacht Club has wireless internet so I'm able to post a few pictures which have been backing up. Enjoy!

We'll be here 'til mid next week,


John with his Noddy friend.

Taking a swim mid-ocean on the way from Cabo to Puerto Vallarta.

Cabo at last! The crew of NAKIA at the beach party after finishing the Baja Ha-Ha.

Everybody into the POOL! The water in Bahia Santa Maria was finally warm enough to swim.

Here's John putting a patch on the dinghy after getting a huge hole from a panga propeller (the panga is tied up in the background). We're still smilling so it can't be that bad.

The party at Bahia Santa Maria. There's a band under the tent on the left and the building behind it serves lobster and fish dinner for $12 USD.

John showing off his big grin after drinking rum on Proflagate with the other skippers.

Linda at the top of the hill overlooking the Bahia Santa Maria anchorage. John missed this hike 'cause he was down drinking rum with the other skippers on Profligate.

The start of Leg 2, 100 or so spinnakers all heading south.

This is the 'Parking Lot' for the Turtle Bay beach party. Most boaters took pangas into shore, others used thier dinghies.

This is a picture of the beach party at Turtle Bay. There is a DJ and potluck tables under the tents on the left. A bar and taco stand is under the tent on the right.

Phil and Joann on the hills above Turtle Bay. The anchorage is in the background.

Here is Phill about to clean one of the two Yellow Tail we caught on the first leg.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Boobies and Noddies

November 10, 2004
La Cruz, (Puerto Vallarta 20o 44' N 105o 44' W)

We dropped anchor in the La Cruz anchorage of Banderas Bay at 10 PM last night after a three day passage from Cabo San Lucas. The trip was nothing special sailing wise( we motored 52 of the 60 hours it took us to get here) but we did have some interesting events in any case.

The weather was hot and humid, so much so that at noon on the second day we stopped for a mid ocean swim break. I set a fender off the stern on a long floating line and we took a dip in the 83 degree water. I can't say it was particularly cooling, but it was better then the humidity we'd been having until then. I thought I would be creeped out by the fact that I was swimming around a boat floating in 10000 (yes ten thousand) feet of water 150 miles from shore but in truth it wasn't that bad. It was like being at the top of a really tall building, it didn't really bother me until I looked down. The water was extremely clear and you could see the rays of the sun penetrating deep into the abyss.

Of course we dragged our fishing lines all the way from Cabo to PV and only caught one Dorado. Unfortunately we hooked it after sunset and it got off while we were in the process of bringing it aboard.

We did manage one other catch, a Blue Footed Boobie. It's clear to me now why these birds are called boobies because they really aren't very smart. One decided our fishing lure looked like lunch and managed to get the hook caught in its bill. I dragged it up to the boat and tried getting the hook out but the bird wasn't cooperating. In the end it took three of us( one holding the wings, one holding the head and me manipulating the hook) to free the boobie from it's mistake. The bird flew off after the operation with nothing more then a pierced lower lip to show for the ordeal. (I'm sure he'll be the envy of all the young birds).

About 50 miles out on our final day we had another visitor: a Brown Noddy. This is a small bird about the size and shape of a tern with brown feathers and a light grey cap. It was incredibly fearless and landed on the BBQ less then an arms length away. It looked so comfortable with us that I decided to see if it wouldn't mind sitting on my hand, so I put my hand slowly under it's breast and it hopped up on my hand like a trained parrot! It sat there and had it's picture taken, then I placed it back on the BBQ where I gave it a bath with a fine mist from our garden sprayer. It flew off after sighting land; I'm sure to go describe its experience to its buddies and to show off its extra clean plumage.

Getting into La Cruz was a little hairy. The chart for this area is pathetic (imagine having to anchor at Angel Island with a chart drawn on a cocktail napkin showing the entire SF bay). Thankfully a large Mexican fishing boat passed us and anchored in the general area we wanted so we could follow his lead. We were able to find water shallow enough to anchor in after only a little nail biting.

Today we move to Paridise Village Marina, only 6 nm away, for a week in Puerto Vallarta. James and Diane will be leaving NAKIA, and plan on taking a trip inland.

John, Linda, James and Diane

Monday, November 08, 2004

On our way again

November 8, 2004
At Sea, 80 nm SE of Cabo San Lucas

Well as it always happens as soon as we hit port I stop logging anything to the blog. Sorry about that but we're usually just too busy to even think about setting aside the time for writing.

The party at Bahia Santa Maria was just as advertised. Fish and lobster dinner for $12 and music provided by a band who usually plays in Cabo San Lucas. There was one big black mark on the day though. As I was leaving the beach to go back to the boat the current swung the bow of the inflatable into the propeller of a panga and put a 6 inch gash in the fabric. I was able to make it back to shore without sinking, but it meant we had to take the inflatable back to NAKIA on the deck of a panga since it could not be repaired. As I write this the gash has been stitched up and a patch has been applied. However it takes 7 days for the glue to set so we won't know for awhile if it will hold.

We departed Bahia Santa Maria on schedule and had a quick if a little boring trip to Cabo. One highlight was fishing. We had tried and tried to catch fish with no luck, so I decided to increase our chances by adding a few more hooks onto the line. During a sail change I noticed a fish on one of the lines so went back to pull it in. I got the hook about half way to the boat when a second fish took one of the other hooks. Then a few feet closer to the boat another fish took the final hook on that line, three fish on one line! Before we were able to release the two smallest fish a fourth took the lure on the other line, four fish on at once! All Dorado. We released all but the largest one and had it battered with corn flour and fried in butter for dinner.

We arrived in Cabo on Thursday afternoon and pulled into our slip in Marina Cabo San Lucas. Phil and Joann had reserved a room at their time share so we all piled into a cab and were soon siting at the pool bar in a luxury hotel. Quite a change from the trip down! We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening swimming in the pool, basking in the hot tub, watching a movie on the outdoor screen, taking showers and having a huge meal at the Italian buffet.

Friday we set about doing chores; Linda's was laundry and mine was checking into the country. Let's just say Linda got the better of that deal. It took me almost 6 hours, walking around town in the hot sun, to get NAKIA and her crew checked in. It was a little complicated by the fact that I wanted to check out at the same time as checking in which required me to 'take a number' at the immigration office twice ('taking a number' meant at least a 2 hour wait!). Finally around 4pm I finished the process and met up with Linda, Phil and Joann at the Ha-Ha beach party where I found a cold beer and hot food waiting for me. Nice crew huh?!

Saturday was a little more relaxing. I spent the morning repairing the dinghy and Linda finished up the rest of the laundry. We did some shopping and had lunch then headed over to the Ha-Ha award ceremony. We were presented with third place in class. No big deal really, everyone gets third place unless you get first or second place. But we had a few laughs with the Ha-Ha folks one last time before our departure to PV.

We departed Cabo Sunday morning for PV in very humid, hot conditions. It wasn't long before every one was sweating and everything felt sticky. It's been a long motor boat trip so far with very little sailing but I'm hopeful we'll be able to sail a few hours this afternoon. NAKIA has two new crew for the trip from CSL to PV, Diane Stark from Sequoia Yacht Club and James Wilson who crewed with Tony Wiseman down the coast from SF to San Diego.

That's all for now,

John, Linda, Diane and James

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Bahia Santa Maria

November 2, 2004
Bahia Santa Maria, 24o 46' N 112o 14' W

We had an awesome sail from Turtle Bay to Bahia Santa Maria. We motored for 10 hours or so, though we probably could have motored less, and made it in at 0330 on November 1.

One of the highlights of this leg was catching two Dorado (Mahi-Mahi), one about 3 pounds and the other about 8. We fillet both and have been having fish ever since. The bad part is that I bought all kinds of meat for dinners and we haven't touched it! It's frozen so there's no chance of it going bad, but it's taking up so much space in the freezer we can't make ice for Rum and Cokes.

After our early morning arrival in Bahia Santa Maria we all took to bed for a much needed sleep and then got up to a beautiful warm day. The water temperature is around 71o F in the bay so after the morning net we all jumped in the water for a swim. Phil impressed us all by climbing out of the water on the bob-stay, not just once but four times!

After swimming we put the dinghy together and I went ashore to figure out how to go through the surf to the beach. It wasn't hard, being high tide, and once again our 15 HP Evenrude proved to be a champion. I went back to the boat where I found the rest of the crew busy doing as little as possible. I joined them for a while but there's too much to see here so Linda and I went ashore.

Bahia Santa Maria is not a town of any sort. It's more like a fish camp where the fishermen live in small huts near the beach. There's no civilization within 40 miles. However, when the Baja Ha-Ha comes in the place turns into a full on beach party town. There are a few huts on shore, one with a generator which powers a 6 piece rock band! There is a beer vendor and 4 or 5 women have a taco stand where they sell fish and/or lobster tacos (2 fish tacos, rice and beans for $5 USD).

Today is the big beach party and tomorrow we start leg 3 which finishes the rally in Cabo San Lucas.

John, Linda, Phil and Joann

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Much Better!

October 30, 2004
At Sea 26o 59' N 114o 22 W (50 nm SE of Turtle Bay)

We had a great time at the Turtle Bay beach party. The Baja Ha-Ha crew really puts a fun time together complete with DJ, volley ball and tug of war. The potluck food was excellent and there was also a vendor selling tacos which were very tasty. We stayed right until sunset and headed back to NAKIA to get some rest for the start of Leg 2 to Bahia Santa Maria.

This morning we got up around 0700 and checked in to the start and within an hour we were on our way under spinnaker and main. The wind was 10 kt out of the NE and the sky was bright and sunny. As the day wore on the wind shifted to the NW and increased to 20+ kts but it's not much of a problem. The weather is warm, the sea temperature is increasing (over 71o F now) and we're sailing downwind!

We expect to be in Bahia Santa Maria the day after tomorrow, perhaps in the early morning.

We continue to catch a lot of Bonito and Skipjack, but we're still waiting for our first yellow fin tuna which the rest of the fleet seem to have no trouble catching.

More later...

John, Linda, Phil and Joann

Mexico at last!

October 28, 2004
Turtle Bay, Mexico (28o 41' N 115o 42' W)

Thanks to everyone who wished for lighter winds! The front which was supposed to come through at 7 am Thursday morning ended up arriving at 10 pm Wednesday night. With it came a light westerly wind which allowed us to head directly to Bahia Tortuga. We got very little rain and not much wind for the rest of the trip into Turtle Bay (a lot of motoring, unfortunately). We arrived at 4 pm, set anchor and popped open a couple of cold Pacifico beers to toast our arrival.

We're here for two nights. Last night we went ashore in a panga so our tour guide (Phil) could show us the sights of the thriving metropolis of Turtle Bay. These included Central Park, a bleak concrete plaza with peeling paint, and the Vera Cruz, an over priced restaurant where all the cruisers hang out. We opted for a short celebration with Pacificos at the beach side shack for $1 each.

Today is the big beach party for all the Ha Ha boats and then tomorrow morning we're off again, destination Bahia Santa Maria.

John, Linda, Phil, and Joann

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Not what we bargained for

October 27, 2004
At Sea, N 28o 59' W 116o 03' (approx 110 nm NW of Turtle Bay)

According to the Baja Ha-Ha add copy most Ha-Ha miles have been light and all but one leg has been down wind. The leg we are on now is neither. We are beating into a 20 kt southerly after motoring all night into a 10 kt southerly. Not fun.

Should still be in turtle bay tomorrow, probably afternoon. Wind is supposed to increase, then die when a cold front arrives, then shift to the NW. We may be hove to but then.

We had a good day yesterday though. Caught a tuna and two yellow tail. Had the yellow tail for dinner last night, excellent!
No fishing today, too rough.

Everyone reading this should wish for lighter winds :-)

John, Linda, Phil and Joann

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

We're Off!

October 25, 2004
At Sea, N 32o 11' W 177o 12' (35 nm NW of Ensenada, Mexico)

We had a great time at the Baja Ha-Ha kick off party. Linda and I dressed in our old standby costumes, cave man and cave woman, while Phil dressed as a pirate and Joann as a little devil. Linda and I entered the 'scariest monster' group competition (mostly because the people assigning categories couldn't figure out where to put us) and I entered the 'most buff' competition by myself. Although I was never a threat to win, I did manage to get a consolation prize.

We left the party after all the prizes had been awarded and we'd had our fill of the atmosphere. We met up with Anita and Ron (http://libertycall2.blogspot.com) to return their car (thanks again for loaning it to us you guys!) and returned to the boat to get to bed early.

This morning, the day of our departure, dawned grey and drizzly. Not the best conditions for sailing to Mexico! We resigned ourselves to the situation though and set about taking care of last minute business. First I had to call my broker and sell some Cisco stock. Two weeks in San Diego and we were just about broke! Then we took NAKIA over to the San Diego Yacht Club and tied to the dinghy dock so we could walk over to Downwind Marine and wait for FedEx to deliver our absentee ballots. We only had to wait around for 45 minutes or so and hurriedly filled in the ballots and dropped them in the mail.

Then it was off to the starting line. Having been in such a hurry to get the ballots mailed we were surprised to make the starting area a little early. No problem however, the Baja Ha-Ha committee doesn't keep track if someone is over early. We did our best to stay behind the line until the appointed moment and had pretty good position when the gun went off.

Off like a herd of turtles, we sailed away from San Diego.

John, Linda, Phil, and Joann

First Day Out

October 26, 2004
At Sea, N 30o 41' W 116o 50' (40 nm west of Punta Camalu)

That's right, Punta Camalu. Frankly I'm not sure if that's even a town, but I have to put something down for where we are :-) This stretch of the Baja coast is very lightly populated.

We caught two large Bonito yesterday afternoon on our way through the Coronado Islands. These were much larger then the ones we kept from Santa Cruz Island and were very easy to clean thanks to our new fillet knife (thanks Sharon!).

We have sailed about half the time, the wind died shortly after sunset last night. Having all these boats around us has taken some getting used to. There are 142 boats that started the Ha-Ha and it seemed like we had 10-15 close around us most of the night last night. Once the sun rose this morning the ranks had spread out a little more and we don't feel so confined.

I put out the fishing lure early this morning and later Joann noticed that we had a fish. She pulled in a small Albacore, as she did one of the Bonito yesterday, and Phil cleaned it. Joann is turning out to be NAKIA's good luck charm; she's pulled in two of our three fish and we always seem to sail fastest during her watch.

We're heading a little further offshore in anticipation of a cold front coming through tomorrow night. Hopefully it won't amount to much as promised by the rally chairman Richard (also known as the Grand Poobah).

More tomorrow, we have at least two more days to go before our first stop at Turtle Bay.

John, Linda, Phil, and Joann

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Get Ready, Get Set ...

October 23, 2004
San Diego, CA (N 32o 42' W 117o 14')

After almost two weeks in San Diego we're getting ready to take off to Mexico with the Baja Ha-Ha. We've bought so many provisions that we can barely see the water line any more, loaded up on enough beer to float a battle ship, bought Mexican fishing licenses, a new spinnaker, got our tourist cards and, most importantly, picked up our great crew Phil and Joann.

Unfortunately, we didn't see much of San Diego that wasn't boating related. The world famous zoo, Sea World, Old Town, and the Gas Lamp district will have to wait until some other visit. I did have time to get a new shore side hobby though: driving around town looking for unsecured wireless networks to connect my lap top to so we can access the internet. Who needs an internet cafe?!

We went out for a short sail today with Phil, Joann, Alicia, and Doug. It was a little cool but we needed the chance to fly the new spinnaker and are very satisfied with it. The old spinnaker has already been successfully sold on eBay and is on its way to its new owner. Doug wanted to catch a tuna, so we towed the lure around for a while and managed to catch a Bonito which Doug took to a house warming party. I think we got the better half of the deal though since Doug had brought us grapes freshly picked from the fields of Delano, CA which were better than anything you could get from a grocery store.

Tomorrow is the big Baja Ha-Ha kick off party and Monday we take off to points south of the border. We can hardly wait!

John, Linda, Phil, and Joann

This is Alicia, Phil's neice, out on a day sail (Joann in the background).

Here's Dennis Conner on his very nice boat. He's the one with the drink. Is that a Coors Light? (Rick would be proud!)

Here's Doug out on a day sail with us on San Diego bay. The new spinnaker is in the background.

Here is the police station at the police dock. They are flying the small craft advisory penant, and boy was is windy!

Here are a few pictures from recent adventures. This is the boat we sighted that I think was the Argus, any confirmation?

Friday, October 15, 2004

Celebrity Sighting!

We moved from the nice little anchorage at Glorietta Bay to our slip at the public dock yesterday. We'll be here until the start of the Baja Ha-Ha. It's such a relief to know that we won't have to ping pong around until the start. Obviously we're not the only ones with a plan. It's possible to stay 10 nights at the public dock. This morning at least 6 other Ha-Ha boats pulled in to the public dock area and there isn't an empty slip available. The start is 10 nights away.

As for the celebrity, we were in the dinghy near the San Diego Yacht Club and in front of us was a beautiful old sailboat, obviously restored. It was under sail and in the process of taking down the jib. They completed this maneuver and as we got closer I changed course to let them continue on their way to the SDYC dock. As they passed we were only about 15 feet apart and I looked in to the cockpit to see none other than Dennis Conner at the tiller! After we passed I asked Linda if she knew who that was and she said it looked like Dennis Conner with a big gut. (Well he is a little older and heavier then he was in his AC days...)

We're in our final preparations for the rally. I ordered a new spinnaker which is larger then the old one and am trying to sell the old one on Ebay. We need to get this boat to move! (They call it a rally, but we all know it's really a race.)

John and Linda

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Duck! Here comes another helocopter!

October 12, 2004
Glorietta Bay, San Diego (N 32o 40' W 117o 10')

We didn't have much time to enjoy the Dana Point Yacht Club Sunday, we were really only interested in a good night's sleep. We slept very well indeed, for the first time since arriving at Catalina several days before. So well did we sleep that we had no trouble getting up bright and early Monday morning with the intention of sailing the 24 nautical miles to Oceanside. The wind was light and out of the south, so we had to beat. This wasn't working out very well especially since we had the small jib up, but we did our best.

The trip was made more interesting by a Navy ship which had positioned itself directly south of us. At first it looked like they were conducting firing exercises, shooting at a towed target. This was hard to believe, so close to shore, but it was clear there was an object following behind the ship and every once in a while large amounts of spray would fly into the air accompanied by a noise that sounded like an airplane propeller. Finally, when we got closer we saw that the sound was coming from the 'target', which turned out to be a huge hover craft. The spray wasn't bullets hitting the sea but the hover craft hovering. At one point the craft passed astern of us and ran right up on the beach sending sand and dust every where. What a mess! Can you imagine what the deck of that thing looked like after being showered with salt spray for hours then dusted with beach sand?

Our sailing wasn't progressing very well during all this so we changed jibs to the 115%. This was only the second time we've done this on NAKIA underway (since getting roller furling) and it went much better this time.

Finally around 1600 we pulled into Oceanside. We were kind of worried about getting a spot at the yacht club since a transient slip in the marina would have cost us $40, so we were relieved to find the Yacht Club guest dock unoccupied. We went up and signed in and were immediately invited to Monday Night football at the club. Potluck sides and hot dogs sounded great to us so we accepted the invitation and hit the showers to wash off the sweat from all that sailing.

The Oceanside Yacht Club membership turned out to be some of the most friendly people we've met on our trip down the coast. They put out a great spread for the football game and really made us feel welcome. It would have been nice to spend a few nights and explore this little town (right next door to Camp Pendleton) but we had a reservation in an anchorage in San Diego and wanted to take full advantage of it so we departed Oceanside at first light for San Diego.

The closer we got to San Diego the busier the sea and sky became. It started off the coast of La Jolla where navy fighters would pass overhead coming and going from Miramar. Then as we rounded Point Loma it seemed like there was a constant buzz of helicopters taking off from North Island and flying offshore, circling back and then buzzing over us again. I told Linda I'm not sure I want to stay in San Diego for two weeks if it's going to be like this!

We checked in with the Harbor Police and made our way down the bay to Glorietta Bay to drop anchor. It's a nice snug spot, with quite a few boats, but well protected. We're within sight of the Coronado Hotel and look out the cockpit onto a golf course. We're not complaining.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Wild Night

October 10, 2004
Dana Point Yacht Club, Dana Point (N 33o 27' W 117o 42')

I think we pretty much got our fill of Catalina. I mentioned before about how rolly the anchorage was, previous nights were nothing compared to what we went through last night. If we didn't have the rocker stopper I'm sure we would have both been thrown right out of bed.

It wasn't all bad, we had a nice hike yesterday in the hills and went to the bar last night with Tom and Kate, a Canadian couple who are taking a year off to cruise the Pacific. There was a DJ and such a great mix of people that we ended up staying until almost midnight.

We woke early this morning (as if we really slept last night to begin with) to make the 40 mile trip over to Dana Point. We arrived at Dana Point this afternoon after a long motor boat trip. Not much happened on the way over except we saw several Risso's dolphins and I caught a few bonito on the way - but none of the yellow tail we heard fishermen talking about on the radio. One other highlight of the trip was seeing what I think was the Argus, a Sea Scout boat that a freind sailed when he was in Scouts. I have a picture which I'll post to the blog the next chance I get. They were returning from Avalon, bound for Long Beach (I think).

We were lucky enough to find a few feet of dock space to tie up to at the Dana Point Yacht Club. We'll be here a couple nights and then head down to San Diego to face the mooring situation down there.

John and Linda

Thursday, October 07, 2004


October 7, 2004
Isthmus Cove, Catalina Island (N 33o 26' W 118o 29')

We spent two nights at Little Scorpion after leaving Santa Barbara. We took one day and went ashore and hiked the bluffs over the east end of the island. The views were incredible and we had no problem with the 8 mile round trip this time. The terrain was easier and we seemed to be getting our lungs back.

One thing we're not getting used to is these rolly anchorages! Canada was so nice - we could walk around the boat without having to hold on. Now the boat is constantly in motion, it's almost like being under sail sometimes. We've set out the rocker stopper every night we've been at anchor and it sure helps, but even with it out the boat rolls and pitches quite a bit.

We made the long trip to Catalina from Santa Cruz yesterday. We motored all the way. We could have sailed the last few hours but as we left Santa Cruz a bird landed on deck (it must have been disoriented in the fog) and we couldn't set sail for fear of scaring it into flight. I tried to convince Linda that if it was really tired it would come back to NAKIA even after being frightened off, but she was not willing to take the chance. Oh well, it only cost us a few gallons of fuel to get the bird safely to Catalina. Hopefully we didn't introduce some non-native species that's going to have to be eradicated later.

I started out this morning by throwing a fishing lure around the anchorage. Mostly I was just bored, not trying to catch anything to keep. I hooked a small bonito, which didn't fight very much, and I let him go (I'm using barbless hooks now to make the 'letting go' easier). I cast out again and hooked something else which I was sure was a snag but when I got it up to the boat it turned out to be a little California Halibut! It was only a couple of pounds, but filleted into about 3/4 of a pound of meat, perfect for Linda and I. It's really fun to catch something good when the most you're hoping for is a little entertainment.

This afternoon we walked around the little town of Two Harbors to get some exercise. Or at least that's our excuse for getting ice cream sandwiches after the walk. We also took showers which for me turned out to be less then satisfying. $.50 for a three minute shower that was cold, then warm, then cold, then tepid, then warm. I would have rather had a hot shower and paid $1. (Linda reports her $.75 shower was plenty hot the whole time.)

We're going to stick around here for a few days since we don't have reservations in San Diego until the 12th. Not sure what we're going to do with all that time, but I'm sure we'll find something. At least there's ice cream close by.

John and Linda

Monday, October 04, 2004

Farewell to Sharon

October 2, 2004
Santa Barbara (N 34o 24' W 119o 41')

On Thursday we moved from Pelican Bay to Little Scorpion anchorage. Little Scorpion is on the east end of Santa Cruz Island and when we arrived there were two other boats in the anchorage. The guide book says to get as close to the two tall rocks at the north end as possible for shelter. There's definitely a trade off. The rocks are covered by roosting brown pelicans. Get too close to the rocks and the odor is quite strong. We got a great spot and only had to deal with the fumes until the wind came up a little.

We were invited to happy hour on Sol Mates and had a great time talking to Stan and MJ, along with Dennis and Cathy from Pinecone. MJ treated us to bread sticks which she made fresh herself, yummy!

I tried fishing off the point. I was going after sea bass again, under strict orders from the crew not to bring back any more bonito. No success. It's very frustrating to have caught those two near Fry's anchorage so easily/quickly and now I can't seem to find them again.

Friday morning we started out for Santa Barbara at 0900. We soon set sail out in the channel and were treated to the site of hundreds of Pacific White Sided Dolphin. Most of them seemed to be feeding so didn't come over and play in NAKIA's bow wave, but several did so Linda and Sharon had a great time cheering their antics from the bow sprit.

As we got closer to Santa Barbara a sea lion started to trail NAKIA. It would swim from one side of the boat to the other, coming as close as 10 feet away, jumping out of the water and then swimming right under the rudder. This went on for over half an hour. We all whooped and applauded his highest jumps and this seemed to get him going even more.

Santa Barbara Marina is very busy as we got the last guest slip in the marina. Many of the transients are doing the Ha-Ha. It's great to get to know a few people we'll be doing the rally with, though it makes it hard to get down the dock when you stop to chat with every tenth person. One couple in particular, Gene and Pat from Chalet Mer, were very kind and offered us a ride in their rental car to West Marine and the grocery store. This made running errands very quick and pain free not having to carry everything back to the boat on foot.

Saturday we had breakfast at the original Sambo's (yes, that Sambo's - 1957!) and then took Sharon to the Amtrak station for her ride home. We were both sorry to see her go but are also expecting to see her turn up again on someone else's boat in San Diego and/or on the Ha-Ha.

We'll be back out to Santa Cruz island on Monday (more errands on Sunday) and then down to Catalina. We'll probably be in San Diego earlier than we had anticipated but with all the Ha-Ha boats going down, getting a slip is proving very difficult. Hopefully getting there early will help in that department.

John and Linda

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Here's the fish catcher and the fish cleaner with our two Bonito. They were ok in fish borritos but weren't that great grilled teriaki style (this Bonito, not the catcher/cleaner).

Here's the sea lion showing off for us!

This shows how close the sea lion was swimming to NAKIA (details in a later post).

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Bonita Bonito

September 29, 2004
Pelican Bay, Santa Cruz Island (N 34o 02' W 119o 42')

We woke this morning to a wonderful day. Doubly wonderful considering the night before was very uncomfortable due to a lot of rolling.

The fish fountain was going big time in the light of the new day. (Fish Fountain is the name we give to the sound that small fish make when they jump and splash around the boat, it sounds like a fountain.) Sharon and I figured the reason the small fish were jumping so much was because there were larger fish chasing them. I figured I'd find out for sure by putting a lure on and casting it out. Sure enough after about 10 casts I hooked into a fun little fighting fish. When I finally got it up to the boat I was surprised that the fighter was only a 12 inch bonito. We just had to keep it though, so I kept the fish on the line while Sharon got the net out of the lazarette. Unfortunately, before she could get the net under the fish it got off. But, encouraged by a little success, I continued fishing and soon had a larger one on. Sharon got this one netted and we began making plans on how to cook the little wonder. I kept casting and kept catching fish, letting them go until we had another nice one. Sharon cleaned them nicely (did I mention how wonderful it is not to have to catch AND clean fish) and I put the fillets into the fridge for dinner.

Then we took a short dinghy ride exploring the shore around the anchorage. There was one small sea cave that we went all the way into, the surge being low, ducking our heads to keep from banging them on the low ceiling. We also took the dinghy under a rock arch which was pretty cool.

After the exploration trip I was sent fishing again. I made the mistake of telling Sharon that a fisherman I spoke to yesterday mentioned fishing for halibut. Sharon insisted that I go catch a halibut for dinner. I set out in the dinghy and rigged a lure when I arrived where the fisherman had told me halibut might be caught. The thing was, I liked catching bonito. So instead of rigging a halibut lure I rigged the spoon that had caught bonito in the anchorage. I must have caught and released 10-15 fish in the course of an hour. When I finally decided to fish for halibut I found it far too boring, all fishing and no catching, so I returned to NAKIA empty handed.

For the second night in a row we had happy hour on NAKIA. We invited Charlie and Grania from Zester and Bill and Diana from Diana B. over and had a great time. After they left, we put the bonito on the BBQ and ate it with some green beans and couscous. We liked the flavor well enough but all agreed we'd rather have calico sea bass.

As the sun set the wind died and the rolling started. This time I decided to put out our 'rocker-stopper' to see if it would help and the consensus is that it helps a great deal. The motion of the boat is more 'jerky,' but we don't have the incessant rolling that we had last night. We may actually be able to sleep.

Tomorrow we're moving to the east end of the island, which has become a national park since the last time we were here, and are looking forward to a walk on the beach there.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Oh my feet!

September 28, 2004
Pelican Bay, Santa Cruz Island N 34o 02' W 119o 42')

We were about to pull up anchor from Fry's Harbor when Linda noticed the shifting lever wasn't working quite right. A quick glance in the engine compartment confirmed that the shifting lever on the transmission was not in the right position for Forward/Neutral/Reverse. I quickly dismantled the binnacle and found the problem, two loose screws on the shifter cable. A little locktite and we were soon back in business.

Fortunately, this little delay timed our arrival in Pelican Bay after several boats had departed. If we had been able to leave when we first wanted we would not have gotten as good a spot as we did.

We put the dinghy in the water, had lunch and decided to go for a hike before showers and dinner. We made our way to shore, getting splashed only a few times by waves breaking on the dinghy, and landed on a gravel beach around the corner from Pelican Bay.

That was at about 1430. We spent the next two and a half hours hiking on the rugged hills of Santa Cruz Island, following the trail out to Prisoner's Cove. It wasn't very hot, but it was quite dry, and we were all pretty dusty by the time we got back to the dinghy.

According to the sign at Prisoner's Cove it's an 8 mile round trip, way longer then we've hiked all summer, and much more than we were prepared to handle. Showers after the hike sure felt good and we all had second helpings of the huge pasta dish I made for dinner.

Tomorrow we plan on hanging out and reading. Maybe I'll do a project. But then again maybe I won't. I'd like to rest my feet.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Pigs and Caves

September 27, 2004
Fry's Harbor, Santa Cruz Island (34o 03' N 119o 45' W)

We spent three hours this morning exploring the Northwest shore of Santa Cruz Island by dinghy. There are no overnight anchorages on that end of the island so we had to make the run all the way from Fry's. Linda and Sharon went all out and put on full foul weather gear for the trip. I think they got wetter from the sweat than from the spray.

On the way out we stopped at Cueva Valdes anchorage and spotted a wild pig on the beach. We let the swell drift us in toward shore to get a closer look, and we felt like we were on some kind of Sunday evening nature show. I provided the whispered Marlin Perkins voice over, "These small animals search for food along the high tide line ..."

We made our way up to the Painted Cave and rowed in, letting the swell push us in slowly. The cave has two chambers, an outer one which is pretty high and an inner one which is separated from the outer chamber by a low arch. We sat at the entrance to the arch for 5-10 minutes, listening to the sound of the waves crashing in the inner chamber and watching the swell reduce the head room in the arch to 5 feet. In the end we decided it wasn't worth risking damaging the dinghy to explore the inner chamber so we just sat in the outer and listened to the thunder-like crashing of the waves inside.

On the way back from the Painted Cave we stopped at several blow holes on the shore. The largest is inside a sea cave and shoots spay and mist 20-30 feet out of the cave when a good swell hits it. It was loud too, we all thought it sounded like a dragon snoring inside the cave. We also stopped at a large rock arch and dared to take the dinghy under it in the swell. Not that big a deal really, but it sounds cool.

Back at the boat we had quesadillas for lunch and then I took the dinghy out to go fishing. Sharon said that if I caught anything she would clean it which made me want to catch something even more. It was pretty windy, which made bottom fishing hard, and I managed to lose my first lure after snagging it on the bottom. I tied on a different lure and cast it out a bit and soon had a good size calico sea bass in the boat. A few casts later and I pulled in a second larger fish. We're having fish tacos for dinner tonight!

Tomorrow we plan on moving to Pelican Bay where there are good hiking trails.

John, Linda and Sharon

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Pt. Conception Rodeo

September 26, 2004
Fry's Harbor (34o 03' N 119o 45' W)

We left Morro Bay yesterday afternoon after spending the morning running errands. Sharon found a garage sale but didn't feel like sleeping with the wine rack she found so decided not to buy it. I found the reported 'coldest toilet seat on the west coast' and decided that it looked very cold, but was not willing to test to find out.

The trip over the bar was uneventful and we were able to set sail after motoring a few miles out from Morro Bay.

I checked the weather reports from Pt. Arguello frequently. I'm not sure why I do this since it's not like we're going to turn around if I know it's blowing 30 kts, but at least it's nice to know what we're in for.

The area west of Pt. Sal had incredible wildlife. More shearwaters then I've ever seen in one place and a huge pod of Pacific White Sided Dolphins. Unfortunately, they were too busy chasing each other to come play in our bow wave. Even with the low overcast the evening was bright because of the nearly full moon, and the sailing was pleasant.

At about 2200 the wind started to come up as we were approaching Pt Arguello and the fog dropped right down to the water. By 2300 we were down to our 'storm' rig of staysail only, the main being doused without incident. We sailed on like this all the way around Pt. Conception, being careful to avoid the oil rigs and their associated buoys using the radar.

Of course after rounding Pt. Conception the fog cleared and the wind died making it necessary to raise the mainsail again. I had to turn the boat upwind a little to be able to do this and, because the wind was so light, the boat would only lie beam to the sea. The resulting rolling caused the rest of the crew to get out of bed and complain about being hit by objects flying around the cabin. Sharon said, "I didn't sign up for a Rodeo!"

The wind continued to die and after an hour or two we were motoring toward Santa Cruz Island. We arrived around 1000 and looked into Lady's Anchorage and decided against it (the swell being too high), and continued on to Fry's where we dropped bow and stern anchors as is the custom here.

After a two hour power nap we all felt a little better and made plans to take the dinghy out tomorrow morning and try to make it to the Painted Cave. It's a few miles along the island shore in the ocean swells but I think if we take it slow we'll make it.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Here's a picture of the sunset at Morro Bay. This is the most blue sky we've seen since we arrived. This afternoon at 1230 we'll be departing for Santa Cruz Island (Lady's Anchorage). This will get us around Pt. Conception around 0100 and to the island around 1100 tomorrow.

This is the baby humpback slapping it's tail on the water.

Here are some pics from our Morro Bay trip. This is a mother humpback whale spouting and baby waving a flipper

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Fog, Shooting Stars, and The Rock

September 23, 2004
Morro Bay (N 35o 21' W 120o 51')

We had a great night at sea last night, with one exception: Fog. The sun set shortly before we rounded Pt. Sur and it was clear from the layer of mist hanging over the water that we were in for an intense dew fall. Sure enough, as soon as the sun set the deck was soaked and water was dripping from the mainsail. The moon was bright though, so we made the best of motoring south.

Before long, the air could no longer hold the moisture in it and the fog descended on us. Strange that it was at this time that the shooting stars came out, at least that's what Sharon called them. In reality they were dolphins swimming around the boat. The phosphorescence illuminating their bodies streamed off in long trails making them look like large green shooting stars. Except these shooting stars breath at the surface of the ocean periodically. They stayed around the boat for almost an hour!

All too soon the dolphins left us with nothing but a small patch of sea to watch, the rest being covered by fog, our only visibility into the world being the radar screen. This condition persisted all night and all the next day, all the way to Morro Bay, where we made our approach to the entrance by radar, GPS and ear (we slowed periodically to listen for the whistle on the entrance buoy). Thankfully the fog lifted a little after finding the entrance buoy so we able to see a few more buoys inside the channel. We didn't see the famous Morro Rock until we were right underneath it though.

After rafting up at the Morro Bay Yacht Club dock, we went into town to see what kind of trouble we could get into. We found the saltwater taffy shop and proceeded to buy way too much candy. Not the kind of terrorizing sailors of old are known for, but we're happy with it. We plan on eating an early dinner and a lot of candy and going to bed early.

John, Linda and Sharon

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Thar she blows

September 22, 2004
At Sea N 36o 36' W 122o (15 nm west of Monterey)

We had a great day today, starting with getting under way from Half Moon Bay at 0630. The wind was light from the east so there was no fog and, even though it was a bit colder than we're used to, we were happy to be underway again. Strange how we can spend a summer in Canada and not get cold until we get to San Francisco. I guess Mark Twain was right.

Our course took us around Pt. Pescadero and then south towards Pt. Sur taking us well offshore from Monterey Bay. This turned out to be great for whale watching. The first sighting, of gray whales, was in the late morning. They were nice to look at but since they weren't doing anything interesting we continued without altering course. Then, just before noon, Sharon yelled out "I just saw a BIG fish jump!" Linda and I both turned to see a humpback whale breach clear out of the water (well, it was BIG, even if it wasn't a fish). This we had to see more of, so we altered course to get a closer look. At a range of about a mile we set sail and turned off the engine so we wouldn't disturb their fun. We slowly sailed to within a quarter of a mile; all the while one whale rolled over and over, slapping its huge flippers and its tail on the water. As we got close it was apparent that it was a young whale doing all the frolicking. The other, larger whale was no doubt its mother. We kept a safe distance and spent at least half an hour watching them until the mother whale told the youngster to get moving and they slowly swam away.

Around 1300 the wind was strong enough to keep us moving at over 4 knots so we set the main with the jib and drifter together on the head stay. This configuration worked very well until the wind dropped below 5 knots and we started the motor again. At least we were able to record sightings of more grey whales, Risso's dolphins and Mola Mola before having to motor again.

We should be arriving in Morro Bay tomorrow afternoon, ahead of schedule thanks to all the light winds.

John, Linda and Sharon

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Southbound again

September 21, 2004
Half Moon Bay, CA (N 37o 29' W 122o 18')

We departed Redwood City this morning after a hectic week of projects and parties. Our good friend, Sharon, is making the trip to Santa Barbara with us. We were supposed to have an additional crew from Redwood City to Half Moon Bay, but she chose to watch the boat leave her on the dock rather then risk seeing a leatherback sea turtle and several whales with us. (Yes Darla, we saw whales!) We sailed a short time, the wind being light most of the day, and at one point diverted a few miles to investigate an airplane which was circling repeatedly. At first we thought they were looking at whales, then we fantasized that they were spotting tuna for a fishing boat in the area. When we arrived under the circling plane we still couldn't figure out what all the hubbub was about until finally Sharon noticed a small head poking out of the water a half mile away. It was a leatherback sea turtle.

Our time in Redwood City was made far more convenient thanks to Patrick Lawrence who was nice enough to loan us a car! Without it we wouldn't have been able to complete half of what we accomplished while in town. Thanks Patrick!

The project list included sealing the chain plates (which leaked during our Pt. Arena boat wash), fixing the whisker pole (which broke on the trip down the coast), and replacing all the hoses on the toilet. All this along with the normal chores of doing six loads of laundry and shopping. The toilet project turned out to be the most exciting. All of the hoses involved are made out of flexible plastic hose which has a stiff plastic rib embedded in it. The hose is easy to cut to length, easy that is except for the stiff plastic rib. The tool I chose for cutting the hose was a brand new razor knife. Knowing my history with knives I was sure to remind myself that the knife is very sharp and dangerous every time I used it. As a matter of fact, I was doing this very thing while I made the last of six cuts to complete the project. Unfortunately I must not have been listening because as the knife jumped through the stiff plastic rib it passed through the knuckle of my left index finger leaving a rather large cut. After a few preliminary phone calls to clinics in the area (we no longer have our Kaiser health insurance) we jumped in the car (with Linda driving and John applying direct pressure) to find someplace to stitch up the wound.

Our first try was a clinic in Palo Alto. One look at the bloody gauze pad and the woman behind the desk said they don't do that kind of sewing at the P.A. clinic. She suggested we go to Valley Medical Center in San Jose "because it's cheap." So we drove off down the road and after three hours in the waiting room I was stitched up good as new. The only problem being that I had to convince the doctor to put in five stitches. He was going to stop at three.

Finally we got down to the wire on Monday. We had returned Patrick's car and were putting away all the last minute items we had purchased when Linda noticed that her fanny pack was nowhere to be found. She had left it in Patrick's car. A quick call to Patrick and we arranged to have him drop it off before our departure. Patrick saves the day again!

Anyway, we're on our way toward Mexico. Linda and Sharon are sharing the watch duties and I'm on 24 hour standby. Tomorrow we're going to Morro Bay, which will involve being out overnight. We expect to be in late Thursday afternoon.

John, Linda and Sharon

Monday, September 20, 2004

Canada pictures now on the web

Pictures from Canada are now on the web, see here:


More posts to follow soon, including the story of John's trip to the emergency room and our hectict last minute preparations.

Monday, September 13, 2004

In Redwood City

We're in Redwood City for a few days. We have a lot of projects to complete before heading to Southern California so the Blog is going to be inactive during that time.

Soon I'll have some pictures to post from Canada. If you have anything you want to see specifically let me know and I'll see if I can post it.


Thursday, September 09, 2004

Safe and Sound

September 9, 2004
Drakes Bay (N 38o 00' W 122o 58')

Well we made it. Last night was enough to get us to hasten to Drakes Bay, motoring the afternoon to get here. According to Linda, all the wildlife we saw north of Point Reyes made the night of howling wind and crashing waves worth it. Me, I'm not so sure seeing Mola-Mola (aka sunfish), whales, dolphins, and puffins is enough to erase the memory of last night but it was pretty cool anyway.

We found a new boat maintenance service performed by Mother Nature: The Point Arena Drive Through Boat Wash. Simply take your boat through the area about 15 nm west of Point Arena during a strong northerly blow and your boat will emerge spotless (except for the salt) complete with rinse and blow dry. We had at least three large waves break on top of NAKIA (on both sides and into the cockpit).

It's too bad the worst of the weather occurred at the end of the voyage, had it been the other way around we may have a different opinion of ocean sailing. As it is we wonder about our suitability to crossing oceans. Hopefully this winter in Mexico will help us get a better feeling for our ultimate desires.

On the other hand we can highly recommend the off-shore route for transiting the Washington/Oregon/California coast. We only saw one ship and two or three fishing boats during the entire trip. Compared to our trip in 1997 this was a very relaxing voyage, weather aside.

In any case we're at anchor tonight which is our preferred mode of operation. The best part is that you can set a drink glass down on the table without it spilling when the boat rolls.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Welcome to California!

September 7, 2004
1430 PDT
At Sea N 41o 43' W 125o 57' (75 nm West of Crescent City, CA)

The weather was lumpy last night. Didn't get much sleep, but thankfully today was a little better.

Crossed the boarder into California, so nice to be within the bounds of our home state.

Still planning on a Friday arrival, with the possibility of spending Thursday night in Drakes Bay.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Rollin' rollin' rollin'

September 6, 2004
1830 PDT
At Sea N 43o 30' W 125o 55' (70 miles west of Coos Bay)

It's said that into every life some rain must fall, for the sailor that should be 'into every voyage some heavy wind must blow'. We've been sailing in 18-20 knots of north wind all night and all day with 6-8 foot seas. NAKIA rolls quite a bit under these conditions, but we're taking it as we can. At least the miles are really rolling by too.

We seem to have gotten into a rhythm sleep wise, at least we're not both exhausted. We're looking forward to pulling into San Francisco Thursday night.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Sunday Update

September 5, 2004
1900 PDT
At Sea, 80 miles west of Tillamook, OR (N 45o 41' W 125o 58')

We had a good day today, mostly sunny w/ highs in the 70s. The water is very warm, 65 degrees, and VERY blue. It's like we're sailing in a painting.

I put the fishing line out this morning and in about 40 minutes got more then I bargained for. The line I was using has three lures tied one after another. Two of the lures had fish. I forgot that Albacore swim in schools. It took me quite a while to reel them in.

Not much else to report, sleep is hard to come by for me but Linda doesn't seem to have any problems.

Good Beginnings

September 4, 2004
At Sea (N 47o 20' W 125o 33')

Neah Bay was a bee hive of activity on Friday afternoon. The week end before Labor Day seems to be when everybody leaves Canada to go home. Most of the boats we bound for the Columbia River (Astoria or Portland) though a few were going further. We took the opportunity of a nearby store and stocked up on a few provisions and took nice long showers in the shore side facilities. It may be a week before we take another shower.

We departed Neah Bay at 0600, 30 minutes before sunrise, and motored out past Cape Flattery. The wind soon came up out of the South West, and while that's not the direction we would have preferred the strength was perfect so we set the 115% (probably the first time this sail has been used!) and began beating into the low swell.

I think a lot of sailors discount sailing up wind. In the right conditions, I prefer it to sailing downwind. The wind pressing on the sails keeps the boat more stable and it is much more comfortable then rolling downwind. This was one of those days. We sailed all morning in this fine breeze and only had to motor for a couple of hours in the afternoon.

Even though there's been a ban on all fishing activities by the rest of the crew, I managed to sneak the drag line over the side for a few hours. As luck would have it there are a few Coho still off shore and I hooked one, bringing in and vacuum bagging it whole. We'll have it when we arrive in San Francisco. While cleaning this fish I just let the lures drag about 5 feet behind the boat, I figured they'd be 'safe' there. However, we almost caught another fish right there! Both myself and the aforementioned crew saw a fish strike at the lure. This prompted the afore mentioned crew to remove the lure from the water entirely, lest we actually hook another animal.

People often ask how we manage when we're at sea for an extended time. Of course, someone has to be awake and looking for obstacles at all times. To accomplish this we trade off, every four hours. We're trying a new schedule this time, here's how it goes:

1400-1600 ('1st Dog watch')
1600-1800 ('2nd Dog watch')

The two 'Dog watches' (don't ask me why they're called that, I used to know but not any more) make it so you don't have to stand the dreaded 2200-0200 watch every night.

When one is 'on watch' they have a timepiece, appropriately named 'The Watch', which is set up with an alarm that goes off every 10 minutes. When the alarm sounds it is the responsibility of the person on watch to look at the sea around the boat and make sure there's no ships or other boats that might run us down. Every hour, the person on watch writes our position in the log. That's about all there is, except for sail handling and writing blog reports. If you're off watch there's really only one activity: Sleep. Or at least try to sleep. It's pretty hard to get up at two in the morning for a watch if you haven't had at least a little rest. Oh, there's one other thing you have to do when you're on watch and that is be vewy vewy quite. You don't want to wake up the off watch!

Well that's all for now, it's 0100 and I have an hour left to go before I get to take a nap. I hope I can make it.


Thursday, September 02, 2004

Superstitious, who me?

September 2, 2004
Pillar Point, Washington (N 48o 12' W 124o 05')

We had a wonderful sail from Port Angeles to Pillar Point today. We got out a little later then we had hoped because the fuel dock didn't open until 8 am. No big deal, we set sail right out of the harbor and proceeded to sail upwind (with the tide) about 28 nm. It's really amazing how much better NAKIA sails with her new Max-Prop and new UK head sails. I suppose we could have made it all the way to Neah Bay (and so returned to the scene of our crime) but that would have involved motoring and we were having such a fine day we decided to stop and complete the trip tomorrow. The only problem with the day was the temperature. The sun was bright, there were very few clouds, but it didn't get much over 60 degrees all day long. Both Linda and I had to resort to our winter sailing clothes to keep warm.

Pillar Point, unlike any other anchorage we've been in in the Northwest, is not that great. Pillar Point is on the south shore of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and juts out into the main flow of the wind only a quarter of a mile or so. It offers very little protection, but has a clean sand bottom that really took hold of the anchor. The current runs around the point and half the time the wind is against the tide. This makes it very bouncy, at least until the wind dies. If you've anchored in McNear's Beach on a windy day you know what it's like. It says a lot about the remaining upwind 22 nm to Neah Bay that we'd want to stop here at all.

Of course stopping here means we simply must stop at Neah Bay. Linda suggested that we continue out the Strait and on our way to San Francisco instead of stopping. She, unlike me, failed to check the calendar and note the day of the week that September 3 falls on. Friday. Any sailor knows that starting a voyage on a Friday is bad luck. Not that I'm superstitious mind you, its just that I don't like to take any chances. Especially with my luck. So our plan now is to begin our passage to San Francisco on SATURDAY, September 4.

Bureaucratic Purgatory

August 31, 2004
Neah Bay, Washington USA (N 48o 22' W 124o 36')

We left the Pinkerton Islands and made the short trip to Bamfield, a little town on the south side of Barkley Sound where we would make our way to Neah Bay and the USA. Bamfield is something of a 'split town', one side is serviced by a dirt road that goes into the interior of Vancouver Island, the other side has no roads. The two sides are separated by a narrow strip of water. We tied up to the public dock on the roadless side and took care of our few remaining Canadian dollars by going to the general store and stocking up for the trip to San Francisco.

We departed Bamfield for Neah Bay at oh-dark-thirty, well before sunrise, and headed out onto the mostly calm Pacific Ocean. It was a motor trip all the way and we arrived at around 4pm. I gathered up our passports and boat registration and headed up the dock to call US Customs to check in. A sign on shore gave me the 800 number and in a few moments I was talking to a young man who's first question was 'When was the last time you checked into the US?' I had to think for a minute, it had been a long time, and I wasn't really sure what the last time I checked in has to do with this time. Finally I arrived at the answer, September 1997, when we finished our last trip to Canada in San Francisco. 'Oh,' he says, 'You have to go to Port Angeles.' Now I wasn't really sure how far away Port Angeles was, but I knew I was in Neah Bay, a Customs Port of Entry, and I didn't want to have to go anywhere else to check in. We discussed this, and finally arrived at the reason for going to Port Angeles. Due to Sept. 11, Customs required a physical inspection of any small boat entering the US unless you had been inspected within the last 12 months. More discussion ensued, including a call to the Port Angeles Customs office, and everyone's answer was the same: You have to go to Port Angeles.

You could say I was a little miffed, but I finally resigned myself to the change of plan and went back to the boat to deliver the bad news to Linda. Then I checked and found that Port Angeles is 50 nm from Neah Bay, all the way down the Strait of Juan de Fuca! A 100 nm detour? No way! Back to the phones I went, and more discussion ensued. An alternative was struck, we could go to Grays Harbor, 100nm down the coast. This seemed better to us, at least it was in the right direction. However, an examination of our charts showed that don't have a detailed harbor chart for Grays Harbor. We had no choice, we had to go to Port Angeles.

September 1, 2004
Port Angeles (N 48o 07' W 123o 27')

The trip from Neah Bay was uneventful. The westerlies that the Strait of Juan de Fuca is famous for didn't materialize until we were within 5 miles of Port Angeles, so we didn't do any sailing. We found a convenient spot at the guest dock around 6:30 pm and once again I went ashore to call Customs. This time the man said someone would be right down to inspect us. Now here's the thing. When an officer of the Federal government says he's sending someone to 'inspect' your boat, you get a little nervous. What are they going to do, look through every nook and cranny searching for contraband? Will we be forced to stand on the dock at gun point lest we interfere with them finding our stash of illegal fruit?

In the end, it was quick and painless. The two officers were more interested in the layout and craftsmanship of NAKIA then they were our Canadian purchased meat and produce. Why we couldn't take care of that over the phone is beyond me. Done it was however, 'Welcome to the United States.' We celebrated by mailing our quarterly estimated tax payment for 2004 to the Internal Revenue Service.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Pinkerton Islands

August 29, 2004
Pinkerton Islands (N 48o 57' W 125 17')

We made the short trip from Pipestem Inlet to the Pinkerton Islands yesterday morning before the rain started. I immediately put my fishing gear together to make the short trip from the anchorage to one of the hottest fishing areas in Barkley Sound, Swale Rock. We passed this area on our trip from Effingham Bay to Pipestem Inlet and there were about 25 boats fishing there. When I arrived it was clear people still get the weekends off because there were no less then 50 small fishing boats trolling their baits. I put myself to work with the plan of catching at least one fish. How hard could it be, I reasoned, given that boats on all sides were pulling in fish after fish.

Of course they were using natural bait, anchovies, and I had to use my selection of hoochies and spoons. But I was confident that I would eventually find something to fool a fish into biting. That or I would pass by a very stupid fish and he would bite my piece of plastic out of foolishness. Well almost two hours later I was still changing baits without a single bite. I had watched some boats near me pull in three or four fish and I was getting depressed.

About that time I passed by a boat where one of the fishermen was holding his rod, bent to touching the water because of the large fish he was fighting. He looked over at me (must have seen the look of envy on my face) and waved me over. I trolled over to his boat and he asked if I wanted the fish. Well I thought about it. I really wanted to catch a fish, it's fun after all, but the whole idea was simply to get something to put into the freezer for the trip to San Francisco. What the hell, I thought, and said 'yes.' I pulled up my gear and got ready to receive the fish.

Now I figured this was a smallish fish. One that was smaller than others he had caught and he was waiting for a larger one to take home. Not so. When his companion netted the thing it was clear it was a BIG fish! After subduing it with a mallet he said it was probably about 25 pounds. That's more then I bargained for, but I wasn't about to go back on my acceptance of his offer.

It took me over two hours to clean, steak, fillet and vacuum pack that fish. We had to remove everything from the freezer just to fit it all in (we're now on an 'Atkins' diet, we have to eat all the thawed meat!) and worst of all I'm forbidden from fishing again. Oh well, at least we have salmon for the trip home.

The rest of our time here at the Pinkerton Islands has been anticlimactic. It's been raining persistently so we haven't been able to get out and about much, although we did spend an hour exploring during a break in the weather this afternoon. Instead we've been spending today getting ready for the ocean trip to San Francisco, stowing things we won't need and lashing down items that will remain on deck. It looks like the weather will be good on Wednesday, at least the seas will be down, and we can start our trip then.

Tomorrow we're going to Bamfield, a little coastal town, to mail a book back to it's owner (Darrel, who we met in Port Hardy, loaned us his copy of Watmough) and get a few provisions. On Tuesday we plan to go to Neah Bay and check back into the USA and get fuel. Our time in Canada is drawing to a close, we feel like we had to rush through it almost as much as we did in 1997. Maybe we'll wise up for the next trip and go directly to Columbia Cove and simply spend 2 months there. :-)

John and Linda