Sunday, 25 May 2014

Work and Play

Well ... really Larry and the workers in the Baja Naval yard here are doing all the work ... and I get to play!

In the class with new pink shoes
I joined the Gym on first arrival here two weeks ago. I thought I'd just be using the treadmill. However, the treadmill looked over at the Zumba class (see photo). This elicited an unusual response ... a response which has been rarely catered to ... I felt like dancing! Dancing was not a feature of the Mennonite culture with which I grew up. So it's been a LOT of fun to venture into this new area. It's a struggle to domesticate my two left feet and get them to co-ordinate with the arms to get something that approximates what the teacher is doing. Having a sense of rhythm and a desire to learn helps.

Soledad, myself, Miravel, Olivia, Sylvia and our teacher Annette
'Chola' - Soledad
Dolores at work with her dog 'Baby Stevens'
The other women in the class befriended me ... Soledad has driven me around, I was invited to the home of one, and out for desayuno (breakfast) with the 'gang'. I've seen many family photos and been given free rust remover (vital for a yacht with lots of stainless steel) by a woman who runs a chemicals factory with her husband and dog! Some women in the class (along with our teacher, Annette) form a dance troupe and sport outrageous costumes for the local Carnival. If I can get a photo you'll see it in the next Blog. They speak in rapid Spanish and I usually have a vague idea of what is going on  but not enough to actually write any of their life secrets here.

Yahaira Nava Moràn
I've been encouraged to take further Spanish lessons by Larry (who is quite fluent). No immersion course was available so I ended up at the Instituto Mendoza. Señor Mendoza suggested that his assistant, Señorita Yahaira take me on as a private student for 5 hours a week. She is an unusually beautiful young woman (aged 22) who has training as an interpreter for Spanish, French, German and English. It was her first attempt at teaching, but she is terrific at it and I fancy it to be an opportunity which we both cherish. At the moment I am making my way through the Preterito Simple  and the Preterito Imperfecto. I have  some hope that THIS time I will actually master them.

Metal repair on the bottom 
Spraying primer paint
After an entire week when it was too hot and windy to get any work done, the weather has turned into what the 'locals' consider to be 'typical' weather. It's no longer hot and dusty,  there are nice chill breezes at night and there's no rain so the work has been going smoothly. We haven't had to move off the boat as yet because the paint used as 'primer' dries quickly so is not vulnerable. The workers are pleasant, committed and hard-working ... hours are 6 days a week, leaving at 2pm on Saturdays. There is a good concern here with worker health and the Yard is kept very clean.

However, we are aching to get back on the water. We've discovered that you can actually get tired of eating out and we even miss doing dishes!

Monday, 12 May 2014

Haul-out in Ensenada

On arrival in Ensenada, the efficient marina manager made copies of our various customs and immigration documents and bound them into the exact form the various officials would want to see.  He dismissed our 'outbound clearance' document issued by US customs in San Diego advising us that it was now only required for vessels over 500 tonnes. Good that we did not know that!  We would have missed all our delightful experiences in San Diego.

After getting 'partially lost' walking the waterfront streets, we eventually found our way to the port captain's office. Mercifully, unlike in a few of the countries we have visited, immigration, customs, a government bank and the port captain were all in the same waiting room of the same building.  Little time was required to get back out of the building with stamped passports and all the other required pieces of paper.

As always in a new marina, little time had passed before we met some of the other sailors.
Many hands make light work

Sam's boat was in the next slip. Sam's wife fell in love with this fine boat of classic design which displays masses of 'brightwork' - beautifully varnished wood - both inside and out. Her busy life as a psychiatrist in the interior of the US leaves her little time for sailing on the Mexican coast so during his greater supply of time-off, Sam invites his friend Leo to help him sail.  Leo is an ex-plumber/handyman and talented cook; Sam develops high tech devices [which can't be named] for lettered government agencies with an aversion to publicity. [there's some poetic licence in how we tell this!].
Crossing the promenade

Robert, on a different boat, is also from the US.  He plans to sail to the South Pacific when his boat is ready.  He glides, sails, repairs electronics in aircraft and like many others we have met is very talented and thoroughly likable.  Of course we are here to have our boat painted so the fine paint job on Robert's boat, done by the folks here at Baja Naval boatyard, is quite reassuring.
Virgen del Carmen

Today, three days ahead of our reservation made many months ago, the boatyard staff appeared precisely at 8am and boarded our boat to help us over to the lift.  It was one of the most painless lifts we have ever experienced. There were a few more hands than needed  rather than a few less than ideal  (as is so often the case).  The fine waterside promenade which graces the shore in this small city was closed briefly as we crossed it into the yard under the watchful eyes of the statue of 'Nuestra Virgen del Carmen' who blesses all ships and sailors.

Tired Propeller
High and Dry
We now sit high above the harbor waters. Our propeller has already been removed and sent away for refurbishing after 7000 hours of faithfully churning through the water.  The propeller and prop-shaft are the last two items to be put right after our drive train and vibration problems of last summer.

Tomorrow the dust, noise and smell of sanding and other painting preparation will start and so we will vacate our [usually] floating home in favor of a motel to avoid all the fuss.  Mary Anne has already settled into life here by joining a gym and is searching out Spanish lessons.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Fast trip to San Diego

San Diego city center
While in Monterey, Customs informed us that we'd need an outbound clearance from San Diego before clearing into Mexico. Luckily, the few days we spent in San Diego were not only interesting and lively, but we missed some bad weather offshore. We took public transport which meant we did a lot of walking. The weather was great - cool and overcast with streets of fragrant jasmine and purple flowering jacaranda trees. It was also great weather for seeing the San Diego Zoo.
Sleeping Panda
Mountain gorilla 

Bob - our Docent on the 'Star'
After securing our Clearance on Wednesday, we stopped by the downtown waterfront ... it's now home to a number of ships which make up an in-water Maritime Museum. Included are a cold-war Russian diesel submarine; the ship featured as the 'Surprise' in the movie Master and Commander and the 'Star of India'  - the oldest iron-hulled ship still sailing. The 'Star' took immigrants from England to New Zealand.
Larry on the 'Surprise'

We had a great pleasure and Surprise of our own when Larry discovered that his friend and climbing partner from the Himalaya - Barbara King - was living nearby. We had a great time with Barb ... she's still climbing mountains and looking great. Our photos turned out fuzzy. Alas - we didn't realize how they'd look until later when we put our specs on.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Amid the Channel Islands

Unlike further north where changeable weather was the norm as a series of low pressure systems pummeled the Washington and Oregon coasts, summer weather in California [it is already summer here!] is under the constant influence of a high pressure system over the Pacific to the west of the state. The pressure gradient between this high and a low over the hot interior leads to almost constant northwest winds. It is very easy to sail south off California and very trying to sail north!

Since leaving Monterey Bay, the winds have been steady from behind between 20 and 30 knots. This has been moving us along at an excellent speed but, with the wind from behind at strength, we pay a penalty in having a boisterous roll in the 3 meter [10 foot] seas. Even with the strength of the winds, their constancy is a benefit as we are required to make far less sail changes, in trim and area, than were needed further north.

While we sail under sunny skies, the sea temperature has still not risen above 13C [55F]. Thus while the days are pleasantly warm - out of the wind, anyway - nights are still quite chilly.

California's Channel Islands span a distance of 130 nautical miles nestled in a slight indentation in the coast stretching from Santa Barbara to San Diego. We will be sailing amongst these islands for the next day or so and are hoping that their influence will moderate the sea somewhat. The first island that we pass on our route toward San Diego is San Miguel. While this island's shore is now only 8 miles away, it takes a good deal of imagination to pick out the land through the California haze.

As we close with San Diego, we expect these strong winds to die away and our speed to suffer somewhat. This reduction in the breeze will not be greeted with disappointment though as the high seas will moderate as well. In all likelihood, arrival will be early on Monday, May 5.

At 03/05/2014 23:06 (utc) our position was 33°56.40'N 120°33.44'W

Friday, 2 May 2014

Carmel-Monterey ... Folks n' Fotos

We've had perfect weather, and were able to tour Monterey on our own ... we saw Carmel with Skip as our guide.
Skip & Nadine Dubrin

'dry' garden outside the Custom House
Dubrin's boat SV 'John B' - a Tayana 37

Kids make tortillas at Cooper House

Fulton House - site of California's 1st Constitution
In the Cooper House garden

Cyndi & Joe's Kadey-Krogen 42 'Amelia'

Joe & Cyndi Bommarito

Poet Robinson Jeffers 'Tor House'