My Dear Friends and Family, 3 January, 2014
This year's letter will start out with an apology to anyone who thought I missed sending them a letter in 2013. You weren't skipped, I simply didn't send one out last year. I tried, but it wasn't in me. There are a about half a dozen scraped and deleted letters that were started. I'm not really sure why I didn't or why I couldn't come up with something to say, but to this day that answer eludes me. I will say this about 2012, very little happened. To summarize the year: We stayed put in Newport Beach, CA for most of the year. We took one extended trip east to visit family and friends. We had about a dozen little trips out to Palm Springs. The highlight of the year was meeting up with old friends, as it is every year, but 2012 was different. Those friends came from farther away and farther back in my history (about 25 years). With that said, we shall move on to 2013.
As the year began, Scott and I were preparing to finally make out way to Mexico. We had spent New Year's in Palm Springs and early the next day made our way home to Reisender. Because we were only gone one night, Linux and Pixel stayed aboard. Upon returning Linux was having trouble walking and we could see the pain in his little face. Two January was spent at the Vet's office and comforting the little guy. It was most likely a ruptured disk. Nothing serious, just a shot and a little time. Linux found out what a hot water bottle was and it quickly became his new best friend. It wasn't long before he was up and about again, but next Scott and I came down with a flu of some type. Now it was out turn to be down for 2 weeks or so. Once well, I got one last haircut (if ever in SoCal and in need let me know) we parked the car and took Reisender over to the anchorage in Newport Beach. She'd not been off a mooring in over a year and we didn't want to go far until that system had been re-tested. After that it was off to Avalon on Catalina Island. We simply can't say enough how much we love it out there. Unfortunately, on our way the alternator decided she'd had enough. What was to be a week turned into two as we waited for the new one to be shipped out to us. It shaped up to be quite a nice time. Around Valentine's day we were surrounded by a yacht club that comes over from the mainland. We became honorary members for the weekend and were treated like family, but after a rough start to the New Year we decided it was time to FINALLY make our way to Mexico.
We left Avalon late on a clear warm morning. In true Reisdender fashion, we were installing one item to make our lives a little easier up until a few minutes before leaving. Our auto-helm, or the Baron as we call him, was installed and ready for testing. We cleared the tip of the island and set the Baron to see what he could do. The winds were light, but we were gliding along with the Baron steering at about 3.5 knots. Ah sailing: never have so many spent so much to go so slow! We didn't care about our speed, we were simply enjoying being free of hand steering. We'd already hand steered about 1500 miles and weren't looking forward to doing another. Normally we are a dry boat underway (no booze), but with the Baron doing so well we decided a little toast was in order. There we sat on the bow of the boat in gentle seas and a light breeze with a glass of wine in hand making our way to Mexico. With Reisender pointed toward Ensenada, we sailed along peacefully for 8 hours until the wind finally decided she'd had enough and we cranked up the engine. Even in very light winds the Baron did his job and we rarely needed to take the helm as we motored through the night. There was a full moon as we glided past the Coronado Islands. By mid day we were coming into Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. Our first landfall in another country. I'd made arrangements with a marina and the staff seemed very friendly. Baja Naval would be our home for the next month. It was to late to check into Mexico when we were finished checking into our marina. We technically aren't supposed to leave the boat until we are cleared in, but this is just a technicality. We stretched out legs and checked out a little of the water front. The next day was the dreaded process of clearing customs, immigration, and the port captain. Rogelio at the marina did an excellent job prepping us and making sure we had the correct paper. We set off in search of office and 45 minutes later and less than $200 USD we were checked in and set free to explore. Lunch of deep fried fish tacos was the first stop. The best of my life and for the 4 weeks we were there the ladies at the stands across from the fish market would entertain us as they each claimed to have the best in Ensenada.
As the ambassador for Reisender I quickly made new friends in the marina. Thea from Canada was in the boatyard and really made us feel welcome. Between Thea, Myself, and our friend Karen we began organizing a weekly potluck. Those potlucks were so very interesting. We never knew where the conversations would go, usually about boats, but they were always entertaining. They ranged from 10 to 15 people with crews from all over: USA, Germany, Canada, England, South Africa, and Australia were all represented. In the marina was also a Japanese and a Brazilian. It is amazing how quickly boaters can become friends. Towards the end of the month of March everyone had started to drift away. We had one final cocktail with the local cruisers group, bought what we'd hope would be enough provisions fro 2 to 3 weeks, and set sail early on a Sunday morning.
We had 700 nautical miles to go before Cabo San Lucas. Scott and I tend to go slow and didn't know where or how many times we'd stop over on our way down the coast. The first leg put 300 of those miles behind us as we motor-sailed for 3 days to make it to Turtle Bay on the outside of Baja. Our impression of Turtle Bay: We Hated It! Dirty, dusty, trash just thrown out the windows of houses. The local diesel dealer was constantly hounding us about getting diesel and then hinting at gifts and tips for him. It really wasn't our thing. We rested, finally refueled, and headed south. Abreojos was our next stop. Stuck there for 3 nights due to winds and we weren't able to get off the boat because of the waves, again we felt it was a bust. The winds were either to strong for us to sail, non-existent, or in the wrong direction. To say we were frustrated would be an understatement. We'd hoped to make Mag Bay, but with the sun getting ready to set, we ducked into Santa Maria Cove. Tucked in behind a low mountain we settled in for the night. Up early the next day we headed to Mag Bay and the tiny village (being very generous here) of Puerto Magdelina. Ashore we searched out the Port Captain to be told not to worry about checking in and he was in town anyway. We met the sheriff of the town and he helped us obtain fuel and fresh water. If we felt uncomfortable in Turtle we felt down right paranoid in Puerto Magdelina. There was only one 150 mile stretch to make Cabo. We pushed on and really made some good time sailing, until we came about the point the wind started from another direction. We back winded our jib-sail and that's when the 2 weeks down the coast started to really show on our nerves. We were being beaten with waves and it was extremely slow going as we entered the bay. Once at the fuel dock (just in time as it was closing) we straightened out our jib, got fuel, and I provisioned with rum and wine. Out in the bay we found an anchorage. It was over a $100 a night in the marinas. Newport Beach was only $75 a week for a mooring ball. That's when we were hailed by a small vessel not 300 yards from us. We have AIS (sending and receiving) which tells us what boats are around us. If the other boat has AIS we get all sorts of great info: length of boat, type of boat, speed of the boat, time to possible interception, it's all really helpful. This boat we'd seen leaving Ensenada, again she'd popped up down the coast, and at the entrance to Mag Bay. Each time we'd tried to hail them, but there was no answer. He she was finally hailing us. They'd had the same experience trying to reach us. We got to chatting and exchanged general info: hailing from, heading to, and most important crew compliment. It turns out that were very proud of the fact they had a cat on board, we trumped with having two on board. They again were proud of the fact they'd chosen some unusual name, but again we had a cat with the same name aboard (Pixel). Instantly we became friends. Both boats were heading to La Paz and we knew we'd meet up at some point. After exchanging emails we said good night and we went to bed tired. At sunrise we said our good byes as we watched them sail out of the bay, but we were behind them in less than 30 minutes. It was to be and easy day of only 20 miles up to San Jose Del Cabo and a more reasonable marina.
Now part of our frustration about the coast had to deal with an issue we had. It appears that our instal of the new alternator wasn't as clean as we'd have liked. The belt was a bit loose and we needed to tighten it. No biggie, anyone who knows Scott knows this is a cake walk for him. Belt tightened we left Ensenada, but we kept getting black soot. Each anchorage I spent half out my time cleaning. We needed a dock to finally figure out what was happening and try to do a deep clean. The marina was not cheap, but we were able to finally get the belt to the level it should be at and off we go again. ON A FRIDAY!!! I know better, now we aren't really superstitious, but Fridays are supposedly off limits for leaving on a boat. We've almost never had an easy time if we leave on a Friday and this day was no exception. Less than 10 minutes out the same issue. When we first discovered a problem it was the belt, but as what happens a lot with us, there was a second issue that had similar symptoms. Our muffler had developed at crack and we had exhaust leaking into Reisender. No Bueno! Scott did a quick fix and we stayed one more night and babied our boat all the way to La Paz. Three more beautiful anchorages and we were in La Paz safely at a dock 3 slips away from our new friends with the cat. All I wanted was a hot shower and a glass of wine!
We settled for a day, cleaned the boat again, and I went in search of a grocery store. I love the grocery stores in La Paz. They have everything that the American stores have. La Paz has an amazing anchorage field, but we thought better of it because our engine would be not be running while we fixed the muffler. I'm glad we stayed at the Marina. Some of our best friends were made there. Our first guest came from Portland just a few days after our arrival. The three of us explored the city and drank some lovely margaritas and got to know our dock-mates. After she left, we began to quickly get into a routine. Four mornings a week I took Spanish lessons, Scott worked on the boat, and in the afternoon we ran errands. Our evenings were filled with our new friends. We quickly fell in with two other boats: Goldenheart and True Blue V. Goldenheart is out of Canada and True Blue V is on her way back to Australia. Where one of us was found there could usually be found 2 others. I can't really go into our time with them as there is so much to say about these dear people who have won a place in our hearts. After month our time at the marina was up, the muffler repaired, and we were ready to anchor out and put the finishing touches on our water-maker. We left the wharf and headed about 100 yards from the entrance of the marina to an anchorage. It was early June and getting very hot in La Paz. It was time to start making some serious miles north for the on coming hurricane season. The marina and La Paz started to empty out quickly with boats heading in different directions. Finally after sawing good bye, Reisender was heading up into the Sea Of Cortez proper. The final destination for Reisender would be Guaymas, Sonora, MX. It's on the mainland side and just on the edge of the hurricane belt. Guaymas also happens to be only 250 miles from La Paz as the crow flies, we took the long way! During our few weeks in the Sea we anchored in crystal clear water, bought fresh boat cheese, went two weeks without internet, sailed through a desert, saw one of the largest pods of dolphins I've ever seen, bought fresh lobster from a local, were swarmed by bees, enjoyed a super-moon party on a beach with new friends, went snorkeling, and best of all sailed Reisender over 120 miles without the engine proving she is truly a sailboat.
By the time we'd reached San Carlos, a town north of Guaymas, we were done. Exhausted is an understatement. The heat was reaching almost a hundred degrees every day and we'd accomplished so much in 6 months. With me and the boat safely tucked away in a marina Scott took off on an adventure of his own (the Mexican bus system) to retrieve our car. Wheels after 5 and half months and that those wheels came with air-conditioning was wonderful. I'm not one to complain about the heat, but it was oppressive even to me. Reisender was then moved to the staging area for haul-out. Early on Monday the 8th of July, for the first time in years, Reisender was put up on stands in a yard and started making the preparations for leaving her for the summer.
On the 10th of July we crossed back into the US, stopped off at Trader Joe's, and found our hotel for the night which quickly turned into two nights. The next day we slept, ate Subway and watched TV. On the 12th we were heading east at 75 mph. More distance was covered in 36 hours than in the 6 months prior on the boat, but we were within a couple hours of Scott's mother's house, where we stayed for 7 weeks. It was quiet, cool, and filled with family. I even got to indulge my love of gardening (thanks Kathy and Lauren). After regrouping, we settled into some serious visiting with family and hosted a small reunion with all the siblings. We were tickled so many could come and I know his mother really enjoyed herself. Next up was my parents house. Two weeks slipped by so quickly and then off to Atlanta for a visit with my favorite Auntie and my best friend. Several late nights and wonderful were pleasantly spent, until it was time to start making our way, slowly, back towards Reisender. A dear friend in CA has a condo in Palm Springs and said we could use it for a few days. After a week and a half and getting all those little things we can't find in MX we were on our way back to Gauymas. It was now early October and still hovering around 90 degrees. We didn't care, it was lovely to be back. The decision was made not to move directly back onto the boat. We had a lot of work to do on her. Through the grapevine we'd heard the manager of the yard can sometimes help to find an apartment. He had no luck when we were searching. Scott and I simply drove around and on the second street we turned down... there it was. Our little apartment (Casita) it's actually a small house. It was perfect for our needs. While working on the boat, we simply could just drop everything and head home at the end of the day, rather than the hour clean up that is never really clean. Hot showers awaited us at the end of every project. A month slipped away when our friends from Goldenheart showed up. Their boat was 3 down from us all summer on the hard. The dinners together immediately began and it was as if we'd not been separated by months. We surprised them with and American Thanksgiving and they hosted us for Christmas.
There is also another very special side to our being in the Casita: our landlords. They are wonderful people who have taken us in. They've invited us into their lives, letting us join for Christmas as well. It was rather quickly how they became friends. We practice our Spanish with them and they seem to enjoy our company as well. Being here with them is wonderful, most boaters don't get to see this side of living in a country. Being stuck in a marina away from the locals, other than the odd meeting on with a store clerk, tends to limit what is really learned about an area. Living in this neighborhood has really brought a specialness to our time here that couldn't be duplicated.
With all this very long story said, we are safe and happy. Reisender is beginning to be more of a boat every passing day. We are meeting new and incredible people at every turn. We don't know where 2014 will take us, but we know it will be an adventure and we know we will take the good with the bad. I have no deep insights to this year, but I am lucky for each of you and for the very special way I get to spend my time spinning around on this ball we call Earth.
Fair Winds and a Wonderful 2014!
Jerid, Scott, Linux, Pixel and Reisender