Monthly Archives: April 2017

Exciting Visitors

Just a few more days and we get to see Jordan and Lyra. With Jordan’s busy schedule in Knoxville creating art and teaching classes, we thought she would never make it down to visit. But it’s finally going to happen. We are really looking forward to showing her and Lyra some beautiful scenery.

From Lyra's first visit to Stray Catz

From Lyra’s first visit to Stray Catz

Most of which is below the surface. Frolicking with sea lions, swimming with sharks, and eyeing the eels are all on the agenda. Lyra has a new mask and snorkel and has been practicing, so watch out underwater-world.

 

Always beautiful

Always beautiful

I’m about three posts behind our current location. Right now we’re sitting in old Mazatlan harbor getting ready to leave in the morning to cross back over to the Baja side of Mexico. From the weather reports it looks like we’ll get to sail some of the way. We pick Jordan and Lyra up in La Paz in 5 days.

Captaining the Captain

Captaining the Captain

Providing no complications, it takes 3 days to get there. (not hurrying) We spend a few days in La Paz, then we head back up to the islands north for some in the water fun. I sure hope it has warmed up since the last time we were there.

Places we’ve visited up to now include Isla Isabel, Banderas Bay and Socorro Islands. I expect to write something about all of them and maybe a few more, but for now I’ve got to prepare the boat for a passage.

Furler Repair

Many people who hear about the lifestyle of cruisers are convinced that it’s all fun and games. Every day is spent enjoying a cool breeze in the warm tropical sun, playing in or on the warm ocean. Every evening is spent sipping fancy umbrella adorned drinks while relaxed on deck watching the sun set on the horizon. It’s easy to believe that we have few worries or concerns. The biggest concern is planning our next beautiful anchorage. It’s easy to come to that conclusion, especially when that is what is most often penned about on blogs. We call it sharing, but it may be more like bragging. However, I would like to point out, there is a darker side not as often written about.

Cruisers do deal with many of the same problems anyone living on land deal with. How we deal with them is the big difference. We don’t like to write about it because we don’t want to re-live hardships any more than you want to read about them. Plus we know we get little sympathy. After all, we are living the life.

Full time cruisers know the true definition of cruising is “fixing your boat in exotic locations”

Here is one example of how we deal with them differently. I’ve mentioned our broken furler a few times, and I’ve put off working on it since before we parked Stray Catz back in 2015. That’s because it’s too big a job for me. I’ve spent hours searching online on how to fix it. Studying the Profurl website and the Wichard America site first just trying to figure out what model # I had. (No id or serial #’s on it) Pricing out a new one. ($5,400) Trying to order the parts to repair mine. ($500 and back ordered for 6 months) Searching other blogs, help sites, and YouTube to find someone who had done a similar repair. I found some resources online, but my greatest resource was our friend and fellow cruiser, Jack from the sailing vessel Sea Fern. His background and knowledge convinced me that I (we) could do the repair ourselves. The cruiser community is very helpful to each other. Often sharing parts tools and knowledge with each other in order to continue to the next port.

On a cool La Paz morning Jack and I with the added help of Bill from the sailing vessel Tigger, set about taking apart my forestay and removing the furler. The forestay is the cable from the top front of the mast to the forward center of the boat. It keeps the mast from falling backwards.

furler-repair4Many times I asked, “are you sure you’ve done this before?” And “the mast isn’t going to fall is it?” Many times their answer was “It’s no problem, and if it is a problem, at least it’s your boat” After about two hours the furler was removed and the forestay reattached. What a relief. That’s where the fun begins.

 

Inside the furler there are two sets of sealed bearings and a spacer. In my case all that was left was a spacer and bearing cases. Removing these from the inside of the mechanism became a two-day job. I ended up using a Dremel and cutting them out.

furler-repairBut I now had the parts in my hands that needed replacement. The following morning I set out to locate replacement bearings. I found through the local cruiser network a bearing shop located just a few miles away from the waterfront and off I walked. At the shop I was fortunate to be met with an English-speaking person for help. I bought the last two bearings they had that were the correct size and necessary seals and I was on my way. I did a few more errands and was lucky enough to find a bus headed back toward the marina where the dinghy was parked so I didn’t have to walk. Back at Stray Catz I pulled out the parts, and realized the seals were the wrong size. The next morning I was back in the dinghy headed for shore. Looking forward to another long walk to the bearing store. (not)

furler-repair4Once all the parts were located, I spent a whole day trying to put the furler mechanism back together. The lock rings were quite difficult. I needed Jack’s help just to put the bearings and lock rings in. These furlers are put together well. Once reassembled it was time to reinstall the furler on the head stay. The next morning Bill and Jack came over and we set to work. The big difference was now the wind was blowing about 15 knots. Not a good thing if your mast is not supported properly. Again I asked, and the answer still was “no problem, but if it is, it’s your boat.” You thought I was nervous during removal. Oh, and did I mention we are doing this over the water, so if a part or tool is dropped, bye-bye!

Everything reinstalled properly and without incident. The roller furler works like new and I am one happy cruiser. This simple job under the right conditions should only take a day. It took six days plus hours of preparation and planning. At the end of the day, I’d rather fix my home in exotic locations, but I just wanted to share this with you so you know there is a not so fun side to cruising.

Of course, afterwards we all got together for umbrella adorned cocktails at sunset on the beach.

Espiritu Santo

These two islands about 20 miles north of La Paz are part of a Mexican National Park. The wildlife in and around the islands are unique and protected. We were a little disappointed, because a lot of the wildlife is undersea, and even though I went in the water, it was always to cold to enjoy it. Any in the water time was spent hunting dinner. The islands provide nice hikes and as you would expect, beautiful anchorages. In the two weeks we spent around the islands we visited five different anchorages. All of them unique, but this is still a very arid climate, so plenty of cactus and rocks on these volcanic islands.

Contrary to most of the island, this beach looks very tropical

Contrary to most of the island, this beach looks very tropical

The first anchorage, Playa Bonanza, has a beautiful white sand beach that goes on for miles. The beach was littered with shells and sea glass to find and enjoy while we were there.

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Beyond the beach there is a trail that will take you to the other side of the island and into our next anchorage, Bahia San Gabriel. We skipped the hike. Why hike when you can sail there?

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At Bahia San Gabriel there is an old abandoned oyster farm. Which in this case simply means a lagoon separated from the bay where they used to farm oysters.

san-g-frigate-rookery2Lots and lots of shells along the shore, but more exciting was the frigate rookery located on the breakwater to the lagoon. Hundreds of these large birds nesting in the trees and making quite a mess.

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dscf2480At Ensenada de la Raza we were tucked into the northernmost of three large bays. The bays are also tucked in behind a couple of small islands or islets. When we came to the first bay, it had boats in it. The second one had what looked like a tent resort set up on the beach, and the third one was just right. Sounds like “Goldilocks and the three bears” Anna and I planned on diving near one of the small islands, but it turned out to be a little rough and with the cold water we passed. Other than the diving option at this anchorage we didn’t see much to do. Anything on shore would require bushwhacking up over the hill. So after one night we moved on.

Diva loves the selfies

Caletta Partida is a cove that separates the two islands. It is different from the other bays because there is a small canal that at high tide you can dinghy through to the other side of the islands.

The western side of the island, where we were anchored, had sand beaches before reaching the mountainous terrain. The eastern side from what we could see, just dropped off into the sea. cp-western-cliff cp-tree-clinging-to-rock cp-gull-wathcing-us-go-by cp-eastern-cliffThe eastern side has much better fishing. Both sides had awesome rock formations and caves that reached deep into the water. Amazingly there was a big difference between the rocks on the northern island and those on the southern island. Even though they were separated but such a short distance. Maybe it has something to do with the timing of the eruptions?

Ensenada Grande, the northern most anchorage we visited is about a mile from famous Roca Islotes. Known for the sea lions that live and breed there. The sea lions are quite friendly toward divers and snorkelers and tend to interact with them. Or so it’s said. The weather still a little sour made getting up around the end of the island in the dinghy out of the question. Stray Catz yes, but in the unprotected anchorage, it wouldn’t be safe leaving her while Anna and I were in the water. So that adventure will come later.

There is a trail that goes to the top of the mountain and takes you cliff-side to the eastern shore. This is not a simple hike. It was necessary to crawl across more than one rock, but if you make the trip amazing views await you. Our friends from Sea Fern joined us on this adventure.

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Some of the sparse four legged wildlife spotted on the islands

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A natural stairway halfway up the mountain.

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That was the easy hike. It paled in difficulty to the one we did the next day. No crawling, we had to climb rocks to make this hike. We wanted to see the fossilized shells in the caves along the way.  The shells were disappointing, but the hike was fun. It also was a good way to end our time exploring these islands. The next day it was time to head back to civilization. It was time to stop putting off repairing the roller furler. Ugh!

e-grande-a-n-b-in-cave dscf25252 c-p-moonrisee-grande-fishermans-cross-with-boats-in-back