Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cedros Island and Turtle Bay

Cedros Island, Mexico
                   We anchored outside the harbour of the tiny fishing village of Cedros Island just before dusk, after 50 hours of motor/sailing. Cedros is known for its salt refining plant, exporting 'sal' to all parts of the globe. Being that Daragh's company, Mainroad is a major customer , we hired a taxi to take us over to see it. Our driver introduced us to the agent-manager Alam Flores, and although we had no business cards handy, his trusty 'Mainroad' ball cap did the trick! Our tour guide Alissa took us on a tour through mountains of salt, and we left with many 'muchos gracias' all round. The people seem to have much spirit. We envied their comraderie where folks smile and laugh alot, and the inevitable Marachi music fills the air. Buenos Noches, Cedros!

Bahia Tortuga (Turtle Bay)
                          An envigorating downwind sail brought us into scenic Turtle Bay. While the turtles have long departed, the town prevails. At first impression one sees only a desert-like landscape, comparable to the surface of the moon. Almost no greenery of any description, and dust-covered lanes. However, on closer inspection we met Pedro, and Enrique, resident unofficial tour guide, and gas dock attendant/restauranteur, who escorted us, for a 'propino`, of course, to the local Vera Cruz restaurant, where we ordered a simple meal of beans and tortillas. Then we set out to find, Ruben, the mobile fuel guy to pay him for his service. After trudging over a desolate terrain,we finally spotted his boat at a nearby beach. Rueben invited us into his lovely hand-built casa of post and beam and glass panelled walls looking out to sea. He introduced his delightful family and we shared cervezas, as we watched the Baja HaHa boats drift in. Back at the main beach we had our first experience with riding the breakers in our dinghy out of the bay. A real white-knuckle experience but one that we managed to survive in one piece. We crossed ourselves, took a deep breath and plunged into the outgoing surge! Safely tucked back into Chantey once more, it`s all in a day in the life of a cruiser!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sunny San Diego and Baja Bound

     The Baja Ha Ha Cruisers are starting to arrive in preparation for the 130 boat rally south to Cabo San Lucas on Oct.24th. Our plan is to slip out of the harbour ahead of the gang, and get to in La Paz at the end of the month. In the meantime we have met up with good friends (and newlyweds) Grayce, from back home in Victoria, and her husband Tripp, who graciously invited us to their home, with a stellar view of the entire San Diego Bay area, for a good old Canadian Thanksgiving dinner, and an American Columbus Day celebration and a sumptuous meal it was! Rib-eye steaks , yorkshires and mash. Daragh was in his element. We have also made the acquaintance of Karen the doggy groomer at Doggy Deluxe, where Georgie spent the day getting spiffed up for the Mexican dogs. She left us with a very handsome pooch and a bag of Persimmons from her tree, no extra charge.
     We have relocated next door at another spiffy yacht club, the SouthwesternYC, and Daragh is busy emptying his pockets at the mecca of marine stores in the area, a sailors paradise! Later we took a well-deserved respite from life at sea and spent a pampered evening with Daragh's aviator friend and partner in crime, Ivor, and his wife Deann, and devoted companions Maverick and Sophie, the family Retrievers, at Rancho Santa Fe, a pastoral setting nestled in the hills outside of San Diego. The socializing has been a pleasant diversion from preparing the boat for the trip south to Mexico. Grayce assisted me with provisioning  food and supplies, while Daragh spent the day at Shelter Island buying such essential gadgetry as 'Flopper Stoppers'.
        On Saturday, after an invigorating sail in the harbour with new arrivals Colin and Dora, the last of the Irish contingent surfaced, Joey, and we were whisked off to his lovely beach house at Oceanside for a final night of revelry before heading off. Our closing day in beautiful San Diego was spent scrubbing decks, cleaning the cabins, replacing the dinghy prop, and generally completing last minute preparations. We had a farewell burger and bevy in the SDYC chartroom with Kim and Tom, who had just arrived on 'Exit Strategy'. So great to see our pals from RVYC and the BCA Fleet back in Victoria, whom we had shared our dreams and plans with so many months before. Alas we could dally no longer, the sea was calling us back.
         October 19th, we set out once again on the next chapter of 'The Voyage of Chantey', hoping yet again for fair winds and following seas, as we crossed over the border into Mexico.
         Ensenada, our first port of entry, marked a day shrouded in red tape and bureaucracy. The day started with a nice bracing cold shower as the local plumbing left a lot to be desired, and of course, the language barrier is challenging at best. One can only apologize with 'no hablo Espanol, muchos gracias', so often, while absorbing the blank, bored stare of the sales clerk. Time to get out of our comfort zone!  We spent most of the day roving from one government department to the next , and paying the ubiquitous 'fees' at 'Immigracion' in an attempt to clear customs. Actually, most of the people have been very helpful and tolerant of us Gringos who ought to know a little more Spanish. We are on our extra-good behaviour since we have crossed the border , especially after observing the ominous presence of the Mexican military, notably, the adolescent boys in fatigues wielding semi-automatic machine guns! As the afternoon drew to a lazy close, we hoisted the mainsail and set course for a double-overnighter to Cedros Island, and then on toTurtle Bay, Baja. Til' Mañana........
Adios Amigos!

May the road rise with you
And the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And the rain fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

Monday, October 10, 2011

And Miles to Go Before We Sleep...

Oceanside Yacht Club,CA
The charming David, our OYC host, welcomed us at the dock for the Baja Ha Ha Rendezvous, a group of cruisers all heading south to meet up with another 168 boats who plan to shoot around the Baja together October 24th. There we met other HaHa'ers, Gilly and John on Destiny and several Vancouver and Seattle cruisers. Oceanside is a very small but active sailing club that certainly lives up to its reputation as the friendliest yacht club on the Pacific coast. The weekend opened with a tasty pancake breaky, and man-overboard presentation, with happy hour and Mexican dinner later in the chartroom, thanks to Les, Judy, Lee and the OYC crew. On Sunday we joined in a race around the buoys and flew the spinnaker, with myself, Cathryn, as Skipper and Daragh as crew. Yes! Chantey got the OYC trophy for fifth place! Which really isn't that great considering there were only five boats in our category. We also received a beautiful framed photo of Chantey, compliments of Judy the club photographer. Sadly, the party ended and we were off Monday morning for Mission Bay.
San Diego Bay
Well we made it! The first leg of the journey is over, and with 1500 miles behind us we slipped into Mission Bay, San Diego and dropped the hook in the pristine bay beside John and Gilly on Destiny from San Francisco. They shared many interesting cruising stories with us about life in Puerto Vallarta, their new home. We awoke to the unfamiliar sound of rain on the deck, as we haven't seen rain since we left Victoria, and beat a hasty retreat out of the bay, winding our way through a sea of crab pots and kelp beds around Pt. Loma to San Diego Bay. The sky opened up and poured buckets as we hunkered down for a wet night. Next morning sun filtered in through the portholes and we recalled the San Diego of our former visit, all drenched in sunshine. So here we are in sunny San Diego where we will relax and chill out, and prepare for the long trip down the Baja.
One of the Irish lads, and good friend, Ivor has called by, and has taken us out for a delicious dinner at 'Island Prime', with a panoramic view of the magnificent SD skyline at night, a real luxury after boat life. Ivor invited us to stay with himself and Deann at Rancho Santa Fe for an evening and delectable steak BBQ on the deck.

Just sit right back
And you'll hear a tale
A tale of a fateful trip,
That started from this tropic port,
Aboard this tiny ship.
The mate was a mighty sailin' gal,
The Skipper brave and sure,
And one Westie set sail that day,
For a one year tour,
A one year tour...
'Gilligan's Island'