Scott and The Golden Gate

Scott and The Golden Gate

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Happy New Year's and What we've done in 2013

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

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Land Lubbers... at least for now

Well, it's official, we have and apartment on land.... well at least for two months while we do some nasty work on Reisender. As most of you know Reisender is a continuing constructions zone. I don't mean install a new piece of equipment, I mean we are still putting in port-lights, head-liner, and trimming. I mean full on constuction. We've been living in her this way, with just a few small breaks, since 2008. The entire crew of Reisender has voted to move off while we make this final push, OK, I suggested and Scott seconded.... the cats are pretty much along for the ride, but honestly I don't think they mind having a place to run through. Losing us in a different room is actually pretty funny for us and has added a new show to the Cat Channel.

We'd spent several months with family and friends and it was finally time to return to our beloved Reisender and see what months in the desert up on land had done to her. Our border crossing was absolutely uneventful. We left Tuscon around 9 am on Sunday and crossed the border around 11:30. There was no one on the American side and we hit the green-light both times on the MX side. There was no waiting and we saw no one being inspected at either station. Damn, I wish I'd brought more wine back on this trip. We arrived in San Carlos around 4:30 and went straight to the same hotel we said on our way out in July. Early Monday, we went to the marina and checked on Reisender, settled our bill for the summer, and inquired about apartments. We knew we had some nasty work coming up and I wanted hot water and not to clear up after every project everyday. Nada. The boatyard owner made several calls coming up empty. We left rather disappointed. What to do, we'll in true Jerid and Scott fashion we started driving. Our preferred neighborhood is Miramar on the edge of Guaymas. It looks very clean and safe. I didn't think we'd find anything. The one apartment I found on line before leaving the US was unfurnished and running $400 USD a month without utilities. The second street we drove down, there it was. A for rent sign with furniture. No way it was in our budget! With out a phone, I suggested we go up to the door and inquire. The gate was open and it turned out so was the front door, a very good sign on the security of the neighborhood. Scott knocked and the owner of the home came out. A grinning 60ish Mexican with a big bushy mustache to be followed by his equally grinning and stylish wife. We introduced ourselves and ask about the apartment. He gave us the rate, it was actually right at the top of the budget! Ok, let's take a look. It was extremely clean and the furnishings were all fairly new. Score again! The kitchen, no oven, but it's only two months. Hot Water! Utilities Included! OK the budget was looking better. Covered and gated parking! Score again! A policeman lives across the street! Better and Better! We got to lunch to discuss it. On the way out of the neighborhood we see absolutely no other for rent signs. We were back in 45 minutes to accept the apartment. What paperwork did they need? NONE! It's Mexico my friends! We were only staying two months, why bother with a lease. They'd simply write us out a receipt for the two months. Not even a deposit. Cats no problemo! When could we move in, that afternoon if we wanted. I've never found a place so easily in my life. Tuesday morning we packed up from the hotel and came over to settle in. Turns out they allowed us access to their WiFi, another score! Making the budget even better. Then yesterday I was asking for directions to a Lavendaria (coin laundry service) and she says they are dirty and to use her washer. OK-Between the saving on Utilities, WiFi and Laundry we are totally ahead of the game.

So here we sit, waiting on the last of Octave to blow through to start our work on Reisender, but what do I care, I've got air, WiFi, a hot shower, and a fridge full of food! Ah, the simple comforts of land life.

Fair Winds My Friends,

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Armchair Admirals

For those of you who've never heard the expression, it refers to someone who has plenty of advice, but none of the experience in cruising or boating in general. We've come across any number of "Armchair Admirals" in the 9 years this idea of cruising has been formulating. We discovered that while many of our friends are genuine in their concerns for us, many other are simply jealous. I know that sounds harsh, but hey why wouldn't they be? I'm not an egotistical person, but I do live on a boat in Mexico, I've thrown caution to the wind, and I'm doing something out of the norm on my own terms. Not everyone has the ability to break out and do something adventurous. I know that without Scott I'd never be out here. It's always much easier to stay home and go to work and follow a routine than to redevelop oneself almost everyday.

So back to our "Armchair Admirals". It starts with our friends who know nothing about boating and warned us of our foolish idea to go cruising. We'd be dead, or pirates would get us, or how dangerous Mexico is, or insert any other excuse our friends used to keep us from taking off.  Then there are the boaters who never go anywhere. They give one hundred and one reasons why we can't go or why we aren't ready to go. I'd like to think it's simply they'd miss our company, but I know it's a little more complicated than that. Some of them will take off a year or two after us and it's simply easier to sit around and dream in company than watch friends take off on that adventure while one sits back and continues to dream and waits for the day when they will join in on the fun and action. There are also those who like to give advice about how we aren't ready, because they've been out there and they know what it takes. These guys are the worst. They do have the knowledge and the experience, but every experience is not the same. Times change and La Paz 17 years ago is not La Paz today. One set of friends told me not to rely on cruising guides for store locations because they change so quickly, so why rely on advice  from someone who hasn't been to a place in over a decade? Inside this group there is a sub-set who deep down inside would have to realize that more boats being "out there" cuts down on how special the experience was for them. Suddenly they aren't that special and it can be deflating to an ego. It actually couldn't be farther from the truth. Every journey is unique and special. For every person who takes it on only adds to the richness of this adventure. That's another boat full of interesting people that I hope to meet.

I don't know how long this lifestyle with exist for us, but I'm glad I did it and I'm glad that I've got a partner standing next to me who does it with me. I'm also glad that whenever an "Admiral" gave us advice we simply smiled to each other and kept on going. There's a million reasons not to be out here, but they don't come anywhere near the reasons to be here for us.

Fair Winds My Friends!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Cruising in the "slow lane"

I'd apologize for the delay in posting, but to tell the truth I've just not felt like it. I'm not sure why, but I don't really think there has been much to post. It wasn't quite idyllic, but it wasn't the horrible experience we've had in the past either. We left La Paz during the beginning of the worst of the heat taking our time north to Loreto. The idea was to make our way up to Santa Rosalia and across to Guaymas for the summer, but as always with us, plans changed. There were several beautiful anchorages on our way and at least one great new friend. Then there was a super moon party held on a desolate beach with other boaters we'd just met. That's the way with cruising. A different anchorage and different people every few days. We did have a little excitement with what we are calling "The Great Bee Swarm of 2013" I was the only victim receiving 5 stings and several bruises, but we won the war! Never has lobster tasted so good as after the swarm, but that's another story. After making it as far as Loreto, we made the decision to dump our plans to go further north and start making our way to Guaymas. It was a difference of a couple of weeks and we were ready to get off the boat. We hadn't been away from her in over 6 months and a break was much needed. The voyage was 26 hours and 120 miles across the sea, but what a great voyage we had. The sails went up 2 hours into the trip and didn't come down until almost and hour from the harbor. It's the longest we'd sailed and the furthest. To say we are proud of ourselves is an understatement. This trip has proven Reisender as a sailboat and given her crew more confidence. It was also nice to sail all night and only put on a sweat shirt and not full foul weather gear. Scott was a bit hardier than I and made it across in a T and Shorts only! Once in San Carlos we decided to put the boat to bed and head up and out of the worst of the heat. What a busy few weeks we had, but Reisender is up on stands and safely tucked away for the summer.

Yes, we seem to sail at a snails pace. The funny thing is on our trip east we made about the same distance in 2 days in our car as we did in 24 months on Reisender. We've been told that if we do decide to make a circumnavigation we would be somewhere in our 90's  when we finish. I have to laugh, because it's oh so true! We have noticed that things are so much faster up here in the States. The crowds and the noise are new to us. I was overwhelmed in Tuscon by the traffic and Scott had to drive through almost any city we came to if it wasn't 2 in the morning. The other part that is throwing us off is when asked where we are visiting from. How does one say "Mexico" and not sound uppity? Well, that's about all for now. I'll try to do better and post more info about the voyage up from La Paz to Gauymas and our haul-out.

Fair Winds My Friends

Friday, June 21, 2013

Whose a Cruiser?

Now that we are away from La Paz (although only 12 miles) we've been taking time to rest and think about things. Our life has been such a rush these last few months. Rush to get the boat ready, rush to make it to Mexico, rush to do the outside of Baja, rush to get into the Sea of Cortez, rush to La Paz, and then in La Paz it was a rush to fix the things that broke on the way here or a rush to finish things that will make our lives easier while in the Sea of Cortez (of course that was in between being social with the wonderful people we'd met there). Since coming to Balandra Cove, we've started talking to each other about different things. Things other than the water-maker, the muffler, or some other boat part, but our biggest conversation has been about when we feel we became cruisers. Sounds weird, but it happened so gently for us I'm not sure, as a matter of fact I know, neither of us can really put our thumb on a time and place. Was is when we left Portland, or Astoria, or Oregon, or when we entered Mexico, or when we started spending more time at anchorage than in a marina? We just can't say. Each was an accomplishment in it's own, but what makes a cruiser a cruiser? Is it when we start to experience a different culture from the one we know? If that's it then I became a cruiser (albeit with out a boat) back in 2005, when I left my home in South Carolina and moved out West, but that doesn't really feel right. Was it when we started moving our home? We could say we started cruising in 2006 when we brought our little boat to Mexico by trailer, but again that doesn't feel right either. It was our home, but it just doesn't feel right to us to say that was the beginning. Maybe it was when we left our home port, but we never really thought of Portland as home. We lived there a number of years, but it was never a home that tugs at the heart strings, so again I'm not sure that feels right to say either. The closest we can come to that definition is when we left California. We spent 18 months there and both of us love CA, but we were already on the move with our home and we'd traveled almost 1500 miles in her by that point. So it doesn't exactly feel right saying that's the point we became cruisers either. As you can see, it happened gradually and at many different points for us. We both agree we are officially cruisers (we've put close to 2500 miles under our keel), we are in a different country far from home, and we are experiencing new and exciting things all the time. To say we are soaking up the customs, food, and scenery is a little obvious. We are trying to embrace Mexico and I think she is embracing us as well. Well we are cruisers, even if we can't say “when” it happened.

Fair Winds My Friends!