May 17, 2005

Getting Ready for Dockwise

Tomorrow (Wednesday, May 18th) at 7:00 AM we leave Marina Palmira to head up to Pichilingue to load Raptor Dance on Dockwise Express 12.

Dockwise asked that we be alongside by 8:00 AM for instructions. Loading begins at 9:00 AM and is scheduled to be completed by 1:00 PM. 28 boats will be loaded tomorrow and we're in the middle of the pack on the starboard side of the ship. Since POSH means Port Out, Starboard Home, Raptor Dance will be treated right!

Driving into the Dockwise ship has been compared to going into a very crowded shipping lock. This should be very interesting and we're planning to take lots of stills and video.

Our friend John Semon from Semonship will be joining us as an additional line handler and the extra help is greatly appreciated.

The Dockwise schedule has us back to Marina Palmira in the early afternoon. We'll then check into the hotel for some pool time before our Thursday AM flight.

Gosh, we've got a lot done in the last few days:

  • We stowed everything below for the trip,
  • Emptied and defrosted the fridge (it will be off for the 9 day passage),
  • Took down and stowed the Bimini, lashed down the Genoa and Staysail roller furlers (they can stay up, but for safety we lashed them down so they can't unroll),
  • Inflated and made ready our extra 5 fenders,
  • Removed the Monitor wind vane from the stern and lashed it on deck. The wind vane adds an extra foot of length to the boat. Dockwise really packs them in and we would be over our measured length if we left it on,
  • Packed up a lot of clothes we never wore to take home
  • Backed up all the computers onto my 200 GB portable USB hard drive
    to have backup at home.

We also had many friends over to help us empty the fridge and finish the last of the wine and other drinks. One of the items Mary perfected was her Tamarind Marguerite recipe. Ever since we had them in Guadalajara, Mary's been perfecting her recipe ever since.

The key ingredient is tamarind pulp. Here in Mexico, you can find 1 liter bottles of the thick liquid "Pulpa de Tamarindo" in the grocery stores. It's a drink concentrate that normally makes 20 Liters. You may be able to find something similar locally where you are.

Mary's Tamarind Marguerites:

2 parts Tequila
2 parts Pulpa de Tamarindo
1 part Triple Sec
1 part Jarabe (pre-mixed simple syrup)
Lots of ice
Blend until smooth

We're both very sad to leave Mexico, it's been a wonderful season down here. Just so very short! But we're excited to start on the next adventure in the Pacific Northwest.

That's all for now from Raptor Dance!

Warmest Regards,
Bill Finkelstein and Mary Mack

May 12, 2005

La Paz

Hello Everyone!

Here we are back in La Paz getting ready to load up on May 18th.

When we got back into the Marina at Noon on Monday we took a cab into town to get our plane tickets on Aero California from La Paz to LAX. Aero California flies DC-9s, but still uses paper tickets, so we had to go to one of their ticket offices instead of doing everything on the web. The rest of our travel plans were done online.

Our itinerary:

May 18th - Load on Dockwise. We need to be alongside the Dockwise vessel in La Paz's commercial port in Pichilingue - about 30 minutes from Marina Palmira - at 7am. After we load, Dockwise will take us back by panga to the marina. We'll then stay the night in the nice, Hotel Marina This is the hotel at the top of our dock with the pool we've been using during our stay.

May 19th - Fly Aero California 142 from La Paz to LAX - leave 820 AM, Arrive 1030 AM. We'll then rent a car and visit with the family in Northridge. That night we'll be staying in the Sheraton Pasadena Hotel (using our large pile of Starwood points).

May 20th - Fly South West 2338 from Hollywood Burbank to Oakland - leave 1110 AM, arrive 1220 PM. We'll rent a car and drive back to the our "Vacation Home" in Sonoma.

May 26th - Fly UA 8636 from SFO to Vancouver - leave 240 PM, arrive 450 PM. We'll be staying at the Westin Bayshore.

May 27th - Meet the Dockwise vessel and unload.

We hope to visit with some of you all along the way.

We will then be in the Coal Harbour Marina in Vancouver for about a week while we get organized.

We're then planning to cross to Sydney on Vancouver Island to get hauled for our Bi-Annual Valiant warranty survey and some maintenance.

After all that's done, we planning to start with Victoria and the Gulf Islands.

Here in La Paz, we've got chores to wrap up before loading.

Monday, we made our travel plans.

Tuesday we had the boat washed, got rid of our email backlog and went shopping in town for some groceries to last us until we load.

Yesterday, we washed and scrubbed the dingy and put it back in the lazerette (it's been in the water or on deck for the last three months) and removed and stowed the servo blade from the Monitor wind vane. It's amazing how things have grown to not fit anymore! Then we visited with friends.

Today, Mary is doing canvas work and I'm working on the computer.

Not too much left to do before we load, mainly stow things, finish up what's in the fridge and freezer (it will be off during the voyage), pickle the water maker, stow the Bimini (the sun cover over the cockpit) and prep the boat for having the power and water off for 10 days. I'll also put safety lines around our roller furling sails to prevent them from accidentally unrolling if the furling line parts during the voyage (we'll leave them up).

Friday night, we're going into town to a night club - La Cabaña - reported to have a clientele of folks in our age group. We'll report back later on this one.

That's the news from Raptor Dance!

Warmest Regards,
Bill and Mary

May 8, 2005

Back to Partida

Hello Everyone!

With the sounds of Earth, Wind and Fire's 1976 track "Get Away" playing on the boat stereo from Sirius satellite radio's Totally 70's channel... We're on our way back to Partida from Bahia Agua Verde. We've got the "meat line" out attached to the electric winch. That is our heavy hand line. We have the fishing rod out with lighter line trailing further behind also. Just looking for dinner!

Well, we still didn't find any Lobster. We did however visit the tiny tienda in the village and buy some local goat cheese. It's "squeaky" cheese (i.e. it squeaks when you bite into it) not the crumbly fresh goat cheese we get up in Sonoma. Very tasty though!

The village was real interesting. We had a long conversation in Spanish with the local goat herd (Mary led the conversation, her Spanish is much better than mine). He has a herd of over 110 goats and some cows and pigs with a free range all over the area. I got a picture of "Mary and the kids", that I'll post on the web site later. He also talked about the medicinal herbs in the area for all kinds of ailments. He must guide other gringos to collect them in the mountains. A very nice guy, he walked us across the village to the tienda, pointing out the goat cheese maker's house, etc.

The tienda was pretty tiny and the selection was slim (that's shorthand for no potato chips!, bread, beer, etc.). Two houses over, a lady has a sign up that says "tortillas for sale". If you want to buy some, she makes them to order while you have a nice sit in the shade at the side of her house. It takes about 5 minutes, but gosh are they great tasting!

Another two houses down the dirt road is the "Aqua Verde Restaurant", a single table in the shade in front of the families house. We stopped their with 6 other cruisers for a snack and a beer (Corona is the ONLY thing that have to drink) and we had some quesadillas (pretty skimpy ones, with just a little cheese). Not exactly Zagat's quality cuisine :-{

Last night we got together with some of the other cruisers for a pot luck and bon fire on the beach... It was a great beach party! Everyone brought better food than we've had at any Mexico cruisers pot luck so far. Doug from Kanaloa brought over his big amplifier and IPod. Another cruiser brought a small genset, so we had music until 11 with dancing on the beach! The most fun we've ever had at a pot luck!

About an hour out we came across a pod of hundreds of dolphins. As we were all headed in the same direction, they cavorted around the boat for about half an hour. I think Mary got some great footage on the video cam.

We should get into Partida around 7pm to anchor for the night.

That's the news from Raptor Dance.

Warmest Regards,
Bill and Mary

May 7, 2005

Bahia Agua Verde

Hello Everyone.

Fantastic! We actually were able to SAIL from Puerto El Gato the 20 NMs up here to Bahia Agua Verde! We had a light 6 to 9 knots of wind from the North East for a pleasant close reach up the coast. Great scenery along the coast with a totally lovely experience. It's why we have a sailboat instead of a powerboat.

We left Gato and came up to Agua Verde as the little wind we had in the afternoons (12 Kts. max.) was blowing straight into the bay, making it uncomfortably rolly.

We'll stay here until Sunday when we need to start heading down to La Paz for our Dockwise voyage up to Vancouver. The season in Mexico has been just too short ;-{

Bahia Agua Verde is a large bay with 3 lobes. The east and west lobes are very small with only room for a few boats. The central lobe is much larger with room for dozens of boats. Each has features of interest.

Here in the west lobe there's great snorkeling.

There's a small village in the central lobe with a small tienda (store) and a very small, occasionally opened restaurant (actually a table in front of a home). The village has large flocks of goats and is noted for it's goat cheese. We'll report later on how it compares to ours from home if we can locate some.

The West lobe is the smallest, but is the most protected. We're not expecting any significant weather for the next few days, so we're fine where we are.

Unfortunately, when we were in Puerto El Gato, Manuel, the Fish and Lobster guy never came by, so we'll be checking out the fisherman here at the village to see if we can score some langosta (lobsters).

Agua Verde and Puerto El Gato are the kinds of places that you see in the brochures about cruising. Both have striking (but different) scenery, pleasant water (though a bit cold this early in the season, only around 74 F), lot's of fish, great snorkeling, etc. But, the sky's have been crystal clear so the sunsets are not very dramatic - but everything else is nearly perfect.

That's the news from Raptor Dance.

Warmest Regards,
Bill and Mary

May 4, 2005

We're here in El Gato!

Haven't seen the Cat yet ;-}

Hello everyone!

What a lovely place! When we arrived, just before 2 PM, we were the only boat here. A small but picturesque bay with no development, buildings, fishing shacks, trash... Nada! Just lovely scenery, lot's of fish, great geology (fantastic rock formations, etc.), sandy beach, colorful, great snorkeling (haven't been in yet, but we can see the bottom from the surface).

We scouted out lunch for tomorrow... We just need to dive down and pick it up (maybe chase it a little).

Around 4 PM, three other boats arrived and anchored. We know them all and they're nice folks, but it's not as magical as it was before.

All is well here in Puerto El Gato (where's the cat?).

We also heard from another boat that we're in an article in the May issue of Latitude 38. We haven't seen it yet - if one of our friends who gets the publication could tell us what it's about - that would be great!

Before finishing this email, we heard from Last Resort (anchored about 100 yards off our starboard side) that an enormous pod of hundreds! of Dolphins was transiting south, just outside the bay. We grabbed both sets of binoculars and ran up to watch. Lot's of leaping and cavorting... A much finer rush hour than I used to deal with.

Warmest Regards,
Bill and Mary

El Gato Bound

Hello Everyone -

In our last episode, Raptor Dance was snugly anchored in the middle cove of Ensenada Grande. Sunday night, May 1st, the first Coromuel wind woke us up at about 2 AM. There was no danger, but the swells were very uncomfortable, so we didn't sleep much the rest of the night.

Coromuel winds are specific to the La Paz area and blow as far north as Isla San Francisco. These come up in the La Paz area as early as sunset and work their way North. The problem is that these winds come from the southwest and blow directly into most of the anchorages on Isla Espiritu Santo and Partida. We were blocked from the wind in Ensenada Grande's middle anchorage, but the waves (short, steep chop actually) refracted around the point and into our anchorage.

So we left later that morning after the morning radio net. We had a nice motor up to Isla San Francisco, but as it was also exposed to the Coromuels, we continued on to the anchorage just south of Punta Evaristo off the tiny village of San Evaristo, only a few miles further up the Baja.

The Isla San Francisco bay is gorgeous! Big white sand beach, clear water (only 75 Degrees F though) and great rock formations. The anchorage itself is formed by a hook shaped landmass at the southern end of the island. Looks quite inviting. Except for the risk of Coromuels...

San Evaristo has only a few families and one Tienda (store), no Palapas (Restaurants). It's primarily a fishing village with salt pans a few hundred yards over the ridge to the North. We stopped in the Tienda and bought a ripe avocado and a bag of potato chips. We also bought a large pargo (around 4 lbs.) from the local fisherman for 30 pesos ($2.70 US). Mary filleted it and we had it for lunch, lightly sautéed in butter, Yum!

Ah the joys of cruising. Yesterday morning, I fired up the water maker and noticed a bit of oil in the bilge. Hmmm, where did that come from. It had the purple color of synthetic oil. Now what uses that... More brain wheels turning. Oh oh! The only equipment that uses that is the high pressure pump on the water maker. Feeling under the HP pump, OIL! I quickly shut the water maker down. Looks like we'll need to get the pump serviced, I don't want to tackle this
one myself. Fortunately, there are factory trained service folks up in the Seattle/Vancouver area, where we'll be by early June. In the meantime, I'll top the pump up with oil and monitor the leak. If it gets really bad, I'll flush the water maker and keep it offline until we can get her fixed. We have more than enough water to last us until our planned return to La Paz early next week.

Geeky details: Our water maker is a Village Marine MPW 400, running on 115VAC (meaning we need to run the gen set to make water). It can produce about 16 gph (gallons per hour), which is about all we use in a day - so 1 or 2 hours per day is all we need to run it (hey, we take long showers, wash wet suits, do hand wash, and the dishes - all with fresh water). We probably have 170 Gal. of our 215 Gal. capacity left.

Also, I got to get rid of this genetic? conditioned? habit of waking up at 2 AM worrying about stuff. The Water Maker was the latest episode of my life time effort to get rid of this non-productive behaviour. Now that we're retired, it happens a LOT less often, but it's still annoying. Mary is very understanding ;-}

We stayed in Evaristo until this morning, Wednesday, Mar 3rd, catching up on sleep, hiking and chatting with the other cruisers and a couple of kayakers from the Canadian Yukon, who are padding their way south from Loreto to near La Paz.

Now we're off on a short motor (still not enough wind to sail only 6 knots, right on the nose) of about 4 hours up to Puerto El Gato. In spite of the "Puerto" in the name, it's just a small bay with no port, or anything else for that matter, except some fisherman. One is reported to sell huge langosta (lobsters) for very little money. We'll report what we find.

That's the news from Raptor Dance!

Warmest Regards,
Bill and Mary