Tuesday, June 11, 2013

This Season Ends on a Low Note – May 23 - 30

There is a Yiddish proverb we’ve referenced before in this blog: “Man Plans; God laughs”.  We reference it again because we’re sure that God had a good chuckle on us as we ended our second sailing season.   We planned, checked the weather, provisioned and, fully anticipating success, set out to travel the 400-ish miles across the Gulf de California from La Cruz de Huanacaxtle to La Paz . . . .  . and we ended up in the Pacific coast city of Mazatlán. 
The Plan:

The weather reports (which we check obsessively when planning a passage) all agreed that we were more likely to encounter too little wind rather than too much.  Better to err on the side of a boring motor than a rollicking sail, we concluded as this was our first multi-night passage in a long time.  The one concern we have with motoring long distances is that Abracadabra (even with four six-gallon jerry jugs of extra fuel capacity - thanks again, Frank!) can carry fuel for only about 300-ish miles (see above re: this being a 400-ish mile trip . . . do the math).  So we decided we would travel to Isla Isabel (about 65 miles from La Cruz) and if we were able to sail most of that way, we would turn left to La Paz.  If not, we would divert to Mazatlán for fuel. 

Not The Best Sail Ever:
We motored out of Banderas Bay and at Punta Mita caught a nice breeze, which lasted for five hours.  It began to look positive for going directly to La Paz.  Unfortunately, around 20:00 the wind dropped and the sea flattened and . . . we motored .  The weather was overcast and the sea was flat and oily.  It wasn’t a “best evening on the water”.  We ate one of the four casseroles Molly had prepared for the crossing – a favorite baked tomato and beef penne dish.   And within the hour Molly was donating her dinner to the local fish population -- with a vengeance. 

As she held the bucket to the side rail, Bryce held onto her inflatable safety suspenders – not so much worried that she could fall overboard (the conditions were very calm) – but that she might fling herself overboard to end her misery.  Because Bryce had not had any problems with dinner we both assumed that, notwithstanding months of sailing without incident, the repetitive motion of the boat droning through the undulating water on a grey horizon-less day had brought on Molly’s first bout of sea sickness.  Conventional wisdom is that even seasoned sailors can suffer mal de mer when the conditions warrant. 
After she had no more penne casserole left to donate to the sea, Molly collapsed shivering and exhausted in the cockpit, afraid to go below (being below is the worst thing one can do for sea sickness).  Bryce wrapped her in a sleeping bag and he and Abracadabra motored on through the night.  Bryce kept watch not only over Abracadabra but over his patient – making sure she drank water and ate a few crackers. 

We were able to sail the next morning, and La Paz once again looked like a feasible destination.  Unfortunately, Molly was only able to stay awake for about half an hour at a time – and in between she dreamed of 7-up and soda crackers (her mother’s cure for all stomach ailments) which we did not have on board, and thinking in a fuzzy way about some articles she’d been reading in the New York Times about gut bacteria.  It’s never a good idea to read too much about that stuff.
Around mid-afternoon the wind came up and Bryce had to reef (make smaller) the sails.  Sailing began to be hard work, and Bryce realized that he hadn’t had enough sleep for this to be fun . . . at all.

So, we diverted to Mazatlán, as much for some rest as for fuel. 
Not The Best Arrival Ever:

As we arrived, at about 02:00, the moon was full and we had a good view of the entrance to the marina area.  Bryce had taken Abracadabra in and out of this marina eight times before.  So – conditions were as good as they could be for arriving in the middle of the night.  Or so we thought.
We expected the following seas pushing us towards the breakwater, and the dogleg turn into the marina.  What we had failed to factor in (did we explain that The Captain had been up for almost 48 hours?) was the strength of the ebbing tide.  So as Abracadabra surfed in on one very large wave, ready to take the S-curve of the entry, we hit a current that brought us up short.  Captain Bryce had just enough time to yell “Hold On!” as Abracadabra’s stern lifted again, and her bow dropped.  There was a very – veryloooong 15 second period where we thought that Abracadabra might get hit by a third breaking wave and pushed into the breakwater.  But it didn’t, and she didn’t and we tied up to the fuel dock at Marina El Cid slightly shaken, and stirred. 

The next challenge was the crazy strong current frequently found in the El Cid marina, but again, Abracadabra was a trooper.  Captain Bryce managed to back her off the fuel dock, swing her into the channel, and motor her into a slip without harm to her paint or that of our next door neighbor. 
And the next day – we were both sick.  This illness was a more traditional Mexican traveler thing.  ‘Nuff said about that.  We’re guessing it was a little bug our systems had been dealing with (see above re: New York Times TMI articles) until we became exhausted.  Whatever it was, we were both knocked flat for about three days.  The bright side was that Molly has not convinced herself she didn’t suffer from mal de mer but from some fluish thing.  Better to suffer from something akin to a lightning strike than from an environmentally based condition.

Decommissioning In Mazatlán: 
Once we were able to interact with our neighbors in good conscience we saw several crews we had met before, including those of Full and By and Calliope.  Unfortunately for us, the crews of Dolphin Tales and Tarry-A-Bit had “abandoned ship” and returned to Canada.  We began to enjoy life and the pool at El Cid Marina and began to ask ourselves just why it was that we were returning to La Paz anyway.

The answers were three: our little car was stored there; we had a very good relationship with Buceos Bajia – our boat handlers from last season; and we knew a lot about the marine goods and services available in La Paz.  Once we figured out how to fly to La Paz to pick up the car, we learned from several cruisers about their good experience with the Mazatlán boat management company – Tony’s Boat Management – and found out that Marina Mazatlán had a 24-cents a foot summer rate (that’s about $10 a day for Abracadabra) we decided that perhaps the laughing guy wanted Abracadabra to stay in Mazatlán.  Of course we won’t know whether this is just some other cosmic joke until the end of the 2013 hurricane season!
We moved on shore and proceeded to decommission.  As we explained last year, this is a process of: scrubbing everything (really – everything – the bilge, the sails, the stove, the inside of cabinets – everything); taking all un-canned food products off the boat; taking all items that would become projectiles in a hurricane off of the deck (the barbeque grill, the fuel jugs, the dinghy’s outboard, the life-sling, the bimini, etc.); and replacing all halyards with sacrificial line (to be sacrificed to the heat of the summer sun god). 

You Make Space In the Bow
You Wash All The Canvas
Cover All the Portholes With Sun Shades
And You Throw Out All Critter Attracters . . .

It's a hot, tiring, chaotic and – only once it’s finished – rewarding process.  Imagine a once a year process of considering whether every item you own is worth cleaning and storing, and whether every piece of paper kept is important enough to warrant the attraction to bugs that it represents.  It’s a great incentive to live life lighter (and still we’re hauling five suitcases north!). 

Finally it was done, and Abracadabra was put into the care of Tony and Hector.  We will see her in the fall.
In the Care of Tony and Hector

Season Statistics:  We’ll soon post about our road trip up the Baja.  But for now, here are our statistics for this season (we’ve included our statistics from the end of last season for comparison):

Days Aboard:

2012/13:  November 9, 2012 – May 30, 2013 = 203
2011/12: October 7, 2011 – May 7, 2012 = 213 (this actually includes a couple of “decommissioning” days at a bed and breakfast in La Paz – days not included in the 2012/13 stats)

Nautical Miles Traveled: 

2012/13:  1730
2011/2012:  2639 (that trip down California and Pacific Baja our first season was one long strait shot!)

Guest Crew:

2012/13:  Jim Thompson (hmmm – either everyone but Jim trusts us to take care of ourselves, or the novelty of sailing with us is wearing off - ?)
2011/12:  Frank Chan and Irene DeBrujin-Chan; Rick Nelson and Corinne Hackbarth; Jodi Rafkin; Bob Romano; and Jim Thompson

# Nautical Miles Traveled With Crew: 

2012/13:  225 (1505 w/out)
2011/12:  1424 w/ crew (1215 w/out)

Nights Underway: 

2012/13: 12 (2 with crew)
2011/12: 19 (10 with crew)

Nights at Anchor or on a Mooring Ball: 

2012/13:  72
2011/12:  39

Favorite Anchorage: 

2012/13:  Paraíso or Ensenada Carrizal
2011/12:  Chacala

Least Favorite Anchorage/Mooring:

2012/13:  El Mezteño (which was fabulous until the winds shifted . . . )
2011/12:  Pichilinque or Yalapa -- it's a tie (though we would love to return to Yalapa WITHOUT staying on a mooring ball!)

Marina Stays: 

2012/13:  119 nights (or 59%) – including two weeks visiting family in El Norte and three weeks at our time-share (we didn’t count commissioning or decommissioning time as travel time for this year’s statistics); we’re clearly getting more comfortable with anchoring out, and the decommissioning time was shorter this year
2011/12: 155 nights (or 73%) – including two-ish weeks for repairs; two-plus-ish weeks to decommission; two weeks for a road trip and assorted days to recover from colds, etc.

Motor Hours / Miles Motored (calculated assuming 4.5 miles per engine hour to take into account time running the motor to dock, set the anchor, make water, etc.): 

2012/13:  143 hours or 643.5 miles (only 37% of our trip – we’re clearly getting better at calculating when we can sail!)
2011/12:  255.2 hours or 1148 miles (43.5% of the trip)

Road Trips: 

2012/13:  Tijuana to La Paz and return (will post soon on our drive north) and a day trip from Ixtapa – though stay tuned for stories of our “summer vacation” during which we plan to travel inland Mexico
2011/12:  Guanajuato -- read the blog post about that trip and make sure you visit there if you have a chance!

Crew Injuries: 

2012/13:  nothing we can remember (and we tend to dwell on these things, as many of you know) – so we’ll count this an injury-free season! 
2011/12:  2 jammed/broken/and/or wrenched toes (1 Jodi, 1 Molly); 1 toe tip removal (Bryce - just the tiniest bit, but he's now finally installed a bungee cord to hold up the anchor locker hatch!); 1 broken foot (only the tiny little bones on top - but quite spectacular bruising - Molly); 1 set of blackened fingernails (Bryce - but he won't open that hatch the same way again); 1 wrenched shoulder (Bryce - but he's getting much better at controlling the dinghy). 

# Blog Posts: 

2012/13: 21 to date
2011/12:  26

Most Interesting Blog Page Views:   Last season we had a reader in Latvia who appears to have tired of us.  This year we’re getting quite a few page hits from Russia, Germany, Poland and France.  We’ve also picked up an annoying spam “commenter” – we guess that’s the “price of fame”.    

And Next: 

We will post about our trip north soon.  At the moment we are enjoying life in The Land of the Free and look forward to our summer visits with friends and family. 

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