A Very Green Fall

This fall as we transitioned from Restless and the Alaska adventure to Carmanah and continued cruising in Mexico, a whole lot of boat projects were tackled. The biggest, grinding down and refinishing the aluminum toe rail, we’d been putting off for several years. Doing jobs like that in the heat of San Carlos is not fun. We ended up spending 10 days in the boat yard—- often starting at 4:00 am to beat the heat. But it’s done and we’ve almost forgotten the whole affair. Once we were in the water, I fitted new 1” hand rails in place of the old lifelines. Pretty nice. However, our Tecnautics refrigeration system failed when we tried to start it (spent a ton on replacing the compressor last winter) so we opted to buy a whole new pre-charged (plug-n-play) system which we drove back up to Arizona to pick up. It installed easily and we were finally off to the Baja Nov. 10. After an easy, all sail, crossing we were surprised to find a very green desert on the other side. The Baja has been getting tremendous rain this fall. We got there in time to experience two tropical storm type events ourselves. Mostly involving a whole lot of rain, several inches at a time. Kind of cool because in 4 years cruising this area, we have experienced almost zero rain and very few clouds. We had a nice Thanksgiving in La Paz anchored off the town, turkey dinner with friends at the Dockside restaurant. Pretty cool and windy though. By December we were itching to cross to the mainland for some warmer weather. The trip from the Baja to Banderas Bay usually involves at least two nights at sea but this crossing we stopped at the beautiful Islas Marias (just 1 night). The chain of 4 islands is 60 miles off the coast. We’ve always been required to skirt them by a minimum of 12 miles because the largest island has been the site of a federal prison since 1905. The prison was closed last February. Things are in limbo as government agencies work out the logistics of transitioning from prison to a National Park. We’re hoping they move quickly because except where the prison was, the islands are pristine. The reefs are covered with a wide variety of marine life and the blue footed boobies dominate the shoreline. It would be a shame to see the reefs “harvested” the way so many others have been. We’ll keep our fingers crossed. We’re currently in La Cruz getting ready to head south around Cabo Corrientes to the Barra Navidad area for Christmas

Alaska, the 2nd half

The second half of our Alaska cruise involved some surprisingly warm weather. Between Juneau and Sitka, we found our selves searching for shorts and flip flops as temps rose to the mid-80s. Forest fire smoke sometimes tainted the otherwise crystal-clear sky. In the more remote anchorages, horse flies (solar powered?) swarmed the boat and drove Lucy to hiding in the inner recesses. Luckily as we neared Sitka, they became scarce and we had very pleasant conditions to explore the area. Sitka was actually one of our favorite towns. Our friend Jolynn joined us in Sitka and cruised to Petersburg where my parents and sister Linda came aboard for the leg back to Ketchikan via the LeConte Glacier and Anan Creek bear observatory. We were able to take a more leisurely cruise down through British Columbia after cruising up and around the Misty Fjords National Monument with Tom & Luann on Liberty and Michael on Candor. We’re back on Bainbridge now getting things ready to drive down to San Carlos Mexico in October to rescue Carmanah from the sweltering boat storage yard. The summer cruise totaled just over 2,700 miles at 6.5 knots average. The trawler was a great way to do the trip because we could be warm and dry while having great view of the amazing scenery when it was sunny or raining hard. Even on 80-mile days, we never felt tired or burned out from traveling. We were definitely a little rushed though and would love to do the trip again, slower– possibly leaving the boat up there for the winter. Maybe make two seasons out of it

The World of Perpetual Ice

Just a quick post as we leave Juneau and the internet behind–heading toward Sitka on the outer coast today. It’s hard to believe that we left Bainbridge Island only a month ago. So much has happened over so many miles. Recently we explored the fjords south of Juneau. The head of Tracy Arm with the Sawyer Glacier was especially spectacular. Getting there was absolutely beautiful but a little nerve racking as we dodged icebergs and “bergy bits”. Hitting even a little chunk of floating ice could have been very bad for Restless. Approaching the glaciers, we were the only boat around, it was pretty eerie— the south glacier was calving frequently which produced surprisingly big waves. They say that when a really big section breaks off you can get up to a 25’ wave. Yikes.  We got nothing like that but it was still pretty cool to just drift and wait for pieces to drop into the ocean. Our GPS actually showed us to be 2 miles inland from the edge of the glacier even though we were right in front of it. Evidently it has receded that far since our charts were originally surveyed. Wow, that seems like a lot of recession in a relatively short time. Same was true in Endicott Arm just south of Tracy. We actually overnighted there in a little side arm call Ford’s Terror. With a name like that we just had to go in and see what scared Ford so much. It’s the tidal rapids at a narrow/shallow spot in the arm that makes passage impossible at all times except high slack water (exactly). We made it through unscathed and were rewarded by the most spectacular anchorage we’ve have ever been in. Anchored all alone surrounded by vertical snow-capped peaks and water falls that drop forever it felt almost unreal. Very hard to leave. Lots more to see though. Juneau actually turned out to be a great stop as well. Nice little town of 30,000 with mountains that go straight up from downtown. Mexico cruising friends John and Nicki live here in the summer and offered to show us around and lend us their car to run errands. A big thanks & yes to that offer for sure. We hate to be leaving so soon, it’s been a blast here but off to Sitka we go. Picking up Jolynn there and then cruising to Petersburg to drop her and pick up mom & dad & sister Linda. Lots to look forward to.

Spring 2019 — From Desert to Rainforest

Winter 2018-19

Carmanah had her “Extreme Make Over” beginning in 2005— to coin the name of a popular TV show of the day. We went through and replaced or upgraded just about everything back then. Unfortunately, stuff doesn’t last forever, especially in the tropics. The replacement of worn or broken items has cut into our winter cruise a little bit this year. So far, the inverter/charger, the refrigeration, and the auto pilot all gave up. The aluminum toe rail is badly in need of replacing or refinishing as well. The good news is we haven’t let repairs slow us down too much. We made it down as far as Zihuantanejo and are now heading back up the Baja setting up for a slightly early haul-out—late April. We want to be back in Washington by the beginning of May to prepare the m/v Restless for a run to Alaska. In Mexico this year, we’ve focused on staying longer in favorite places like Tenacatita where we can swim from the boat, play beach bocce every day, dive the central rock, paddle board to the little town of La Manzanilla and hang out with a rotating contingent of our cruising friends. We’re still looking forward to visits from my sister Lisa in about a week as well as Greg & Jen just before our haul-out.

Despite a few challenges, a great season so far.

 

 

 

 

Fall – Boat Repairs Aplenty But Plenty of Fun Too

 

It was pretty much pitch black when we finally pulled into Bahia Frailes.  Our vow to motor as little as possible mostly adhered to today as we sailed down the Baja Coast from Bahia de Los Muertos with our biggest headsail, “Old Whitie”.  Arriving after dark is the toll you sometimes pay for sailing more and motoring less.  Lucy however was very concerned about her shore leave status once we got the anchor down.  None of us could see the shore but we could hear the surf.  Frailes is just close enough to the southern tip of the Baja peninsula to get swells wrapping around from the open Pacific.  I launched the paddle board and she jumped right on with her doggie life jacket and glow stick so we figured she was game to give it a go.  It didn’t take much paddling before a wave grabbed us and we were flying toward the beach.  Ahh, the thrill of riding a wave in total darkness.  We might have actually made ashore relatively unscathed had Lucy not decided to bail on the whole program– jumped overboard –I guess she figured that it was safer in the cauldron of churning white water than riding on the board with me.  Actually, her reasoning probably isn’t far off the mark.  Anyway, I was able to reach over and grab the handle on her doggie lifejacket and drag dog and paddleboard ashore.  Lucy was really happy.  It’s a sweet stretch of sandy beach there and she had a great romp but when it was time to head back out to the boat, Lucy was quite unwilling to get onboard the paddle board.  Finally, she sprinted down the beach and leaped on the board just as we had a good lull in the wave pattern.  It was the right call on her part, we made it back out through the invisible breakers with out mishap.  Hot showers for us both and a good night’s sleep before our departure the next morning for San Blas on the mainland coast.  More great sailing with up to 18 knots of wind on the beam.  We made it in 42 hours, arriving at dawn after the 2nd night at sea.  Not bad.

After tying up at the marina, we discovered that our refrigeration had crapped out.  Not our first equipment challenge of the season.  In October, up north in San Carlos, as we were recommissioning the boat for the season, we discovered a crapped-out battery charger/inverter.  Luckily, we still had use of our van and were able to drive back to the US to pick up a new one we had shipped to Arizona.  Not so lucky with the refrigeration repair since we’re much further from the border.  We heard that shipping to Mexico is unpredictable, unreliable and very expensive.  The expensive part proved to be quite true but we were able to ship parts down in about 4 days.  First the parts we didn’t need (bad advice from factory tech).  Then the right part after the local refrigeration guy in La Cruz checked it out.  Hopefully he’ll reinstall the unit tomorrow and we’ll be able to head on down the coast.  Barra de Navidad for Christmas is looking like a good possibility.  Mechanical issues aside, we’ve had a great fall sailing down the Baja.  We’ve been able to hit most of our favorite anchorages and cross paths with many of our sailing friends.  It really is a tight knit community of cruisers here even though everyone is often spread over many hundreds of miles of coast.  But we just keep crossing paths with various boats and enjoying the time together.

Merry Christmas.

 

A Restless Summer

We had a great spring cruising the Baja before hauling Carmanah out of the water for the summer (in Guaymas).  After driving back to Bainbridge we dove into several boat projects on Restless.  Although we went further north, the summer cruise focused mainly on Desolation Sound as the weather was unusually warm this season.  We swam most days and actually caught salmon to complement the plentiful clams and oysters.  Currently we’re working our way back to Guaymas to get Carmanah ready for launching and another cruise.