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Sunday, July 31, 2005

Night Sky

One of the coolest things about Baja is the lack of light pollution because there are no cities around. At night the sky fills with stars and planets. The Milky Way glows in a bright band of stars and clusters that span from one edge of the sky to the other. Meteors streak across the star lit background in a high speed burn out. With a pair of binoculars, we can see moons around Jupiter, bright stars like Polaris, Arturis and nebulas and galaxies as if we were peeking through the Hubble Telescope. We can see so many stars that there are less black patches than bright white spots. Unfortunately we can’t adjust the expose time on our digital camera to capture the night sky, so you’ll just have to imagine it.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Is the heat off?

We’re learning that the intense heat we felt in Bahia Concepcion was about as hot as it ever gets. In fact, we haven’t felt anything near that hot for 4 weeks now. After we left Santa Rosalia the temperature has been cooler, about 85 to 90 and the water is a nice 78 or so. Other people who have spent the summer further north tell us that Bahia Concepcion is sort of a heat trap and that Bahia de Los Angeles stays cool by comparison.

The sea life has been incredible. There are lots of whales, Orcas, Pilots, Sperm, and Grays. Many different types of dolphins and tons and tons of fish, squid, and octopus roam these waters too. We’ve seen all types of sea birds from pelicans to these brown dove-like little sea birds which aren’t in our book.

There has been a nice breeze for the past 3 days keeping everything cool. This is the Sea of Cortez at its greatest! I feel sorry for all those boats who bailed out of Mexico for the summer, but that leaves more wilderness for us!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Bahia San Francisquito

Abandoning Punta Trinidad, we let the sails fly as we zipped further north. San Francisquito is a protected anchorage, which we were longing to find. We were running on 3 days of sleep deprivation and ready to rest. The wind was gusty, but always present. Sometimes it reached up into the 35’s but most of the time it was probably in the 20’s. Our average speed was 5.0 knots for the 45 miles, which took 9 hours. We really were screaming along with the autopilot doing most of the work.

Arriving in San Francisquito we found the wind was blowing like mad around the land, probably about 35 with stronger gusts. Inside the anchorage however was dead calm with a nice 15-20 knot breeze. Sherrell was deliriously happy. She went to bed at 8pm and didn’t wake up once until about 5 am, and she finally got up around 9am. I slept really well too relieved to be in a safe harbor protected from almost all directions from the wind and the waves.

The little anchorage is packed with boats, but two dinghies came out and met us to guide us into the anchorage to spots where there was enough depth to anchor. It’s closer than we would like to be anchored to other boats, but the wind is consistent and there’s no waves, so it should hold all of the boats away from each other.

I guess we’ll spend a couple of days here, resting and checking out the beach and the arroyos before moving on. We’re only about 55 miles from Bahia de Los Angeles and our hurricane hiding hole for the summer!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Further North - Punta Trinidad

We finally left Santa Rosalia. Actually we left twice. The first time we got about 10 miles away, under sail, when the wind died. Since we had a long leg to Punta Trinidad, we fired up the engine to keep the boat moving. When we swiched the engine to our new starting battery and turned the key all we heard was a CLICK and all the instruments went out. Not a good sign.

So we looked around for the problem, checked the meters, and found nothing. Ok, so try again. CLICK CLICK CLICK in rapid succession as the solenoid flipped on and off and the instruments went out again. Wow, maybe our new starting battery was crap, or the starter or solenoid was dieing. We were slowly drifting towards the rocky beach and with no wind, we quickly decided to try starting on our house bank. VROOM! It started like normal.

Well, we returned to Santa Rosalia to work out the problem, and it turned out to just be a loose battery cable. Stupid me, the bolt on the clamp had jammed, but the clamp wasn’t tight enough. Problem solved, so we left the following morning.

What a good sail! We were able to sail about 6 out of 10 hours in 4 to 6 foot swells. We rolled all over the place and everything that could come loose, did. But by the time we arrived at Punta Trinidad, we were ready for a break. But the swells kept rolling right into the open bay. We tried to tuck up behind the point some, which helped, but it was still rough. A boat that had left Santa Rosalia about an hour behind us, Crystal Wind was already anchored with Solemate who had arrived the day before.

A large commercial fishing boat with 5 pangas in tow, anchored a ways out by the point, with Solemate closer in by the beach but not behind the point which was reducing the swells and Crystal Wind who was way inside the point out of most of the waves. We were in between the two boats, somewhat protected by the point. The anchorage was rough with swells running 2 to 4 feet after the point broke them down some. Solemate was less protected than us, and we watched them roll like a crazed demon on fire all night. Crystal Wind left shortly after arriving, opting to arrive at the next bay in the early morning hours, rather than ride it out. The large fishing boat drug about a quarter of a mile towards a rocky shoal, before they finally pulled up their anchor and moved in closer to us out of the worst of the swells.

We couldn’t sleep. The Elephante winds blew in from the west for about 3 hours at about 30-35, then it switched to SE and blew at 35 or more, helping build up the swell. By morning, we were beat. We left the anchorage at 8am with a strong SE wind and 4-6 foot swells.

Punta Trinidad was a bust because of the SE waves. Had we arrived the day we planned, things would have been perfect, but the battery probably set us back a day and that made all the difference from good to evil.

Monday, July 25, 2005

We're off to Bahia de Los Angeles

The cat had her stitches removed and got a good bill of health so we’re leaving tomorrow!  We’ll be out of contact for several weeks at a time, and even then the only internet access will be via satellite (expensive!).  So don’t expect to hear from us very much!


We’re really looking forward to the remote anchorages with clean, clear water, lots of wildlife and long sandy beaches.  Santa Rosalia is a great little town, but after 1 month, it is definitely time to leave.


Have a great summer!!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Rain and the Cat

Early this morning the familiar sound of rain pattering on the deck woke us up. It’s been months since we’ve had rain. Up North it used to come every couple of weeks or so. Hearing it here, briefly transported us to another place and time as we dozed in bed.

However, what I though was cleaning the decks on the boat, was really just making small mud puddles. The rain wasn’t quite strong enough to really wash off the salt and the dust. Now all the dust has been pushed into muddy piles where we walk, nice. So much for a free boat wash.

On another note, Jezebel, is doing better. She still has her stitches in, but she’s healing quickly and her appetite is back. We’re really happy about that, because we have never seen her so skinny. She’s supposed to get her stitches out in a couple of days, and hopefully she’ll be ready to travel next week!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Cat is doing better!

Two days after her surgery she's doing a lot better. I'm sure she'll be causing trouble in no time.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Day in HELL -- Cat has Surgery

This day was our target day to be in Bahia de Los Angeles, but we are still in Santa Rosalia, about 130 miles south. Why spend 3 weeks in a noisy harbor where we can’t swim (too dirty) and each night we get about 100 high speed squid fishermen racing by 10 feet from the boat? Why? Cat vomit.

A few posts back we talked about getting blood tests for the cat because she hasn’t been 100% for a while. The results came back showing an elevated white blood cell count. Trying to follow the pathology of her chronic vomiting as a clue, Dr. Manual, the vet, guessed that she might have a form of Lymphosis. He also felt a small lump near her kidneys. He recommended exploratory surgery and a biopsy

After much thought, we decided to do it now while her health was still strong and she could recover from the procedure. However if she was riddled with tumors, then we decided to have her put to sleep instead of suffering more and dieing where we would be unable to get her help.

So at 8 am Jezebel went under the knife. At 10:30, almost an hour longer than the Dr. anticipated the surgery would take, he gave us the news. Jez had a large collection of hairballs in her intestines and colon: 10 big ones. He had to cut her intestines to remove them and from the size of the hair, we knew that they hade to be over 4 weeks old because we have been keeping her hair short for over a month to help keep her cool.

There was a funny discolored spot in her intestines, and he took a biopsy of that for analysis. But apparently she has been having these problems for some time. Now we are going to be extra careful with her!

We waited for the anesthesia to wear off, and waited and waited. After 6 hours, we finally saw some signs that she was trying to stir, so we decided to take her home and keep an eye on her. We had to roll her around every couple of hours to help with her blood circulation; unfortunately the most we could get out of her was a growl.

Worried about her getting over the dosage of drugs, we kept an eye on her in 2 hour shifts all night. Sherrell had a cat once, which was weak from an illness, suffer a stroke after an exploratory surgery and went into paralysis but later recovered. That memory fueled us to try to get Jez to snap out of it. Especially when the Dr. thought she would only be groggy one hour after the surgery! After 12 hours she finally started to try to move around. She was dazed, and staggering, like a zombie. It was tough watching her suffer.

After about 20 hours she finally seemed more normal, but she hadn’t slept and spent most of her time fighting against the stupor. A full 36 hours later she’s back! The grogginess is gone and she is starting to show some of her normal habits again. Manual, came down to the boat to check on her and give her an antibiotic injection (because her immune system is weak). He’s been great at helping us find Jez’s problem and very understanding.

Now she has to heal for about 9 more days before the stitches come out and we get the results of FIV and FEV tests on her blood. Hopefully the problem has just been with the hair blockages and she’ll continue being the happy cat we know for another 10 years.

So we’ll be in Santa Rosalia for another 10 days, much later than we planned. Keep your fingers crossed that no hurricanes head this way!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Some projects and cat litter

While we are here waiting for the test results on the cat, we built a new sunshade that attaches to the back of our Shade Tree.  It’s great!  Now the entire cockpit is out of the sun and we stay that much cooler.  We bought some screens to add to the sides of our covers, making the entire boat “sun proof”.  We haven’t been able to finish the project because we can’t find grommets anywhere.


We also can’t find any cat litter.  Anyone know a good recipe for a truly “natural cat litter”?   We’d like to hear it.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Las Cucarachas

I saw its beady eyes looking back at me. I made a quick grab for it. As I was reaching, I thought about the wisdom of trying to grab an insect that is almost as big as my head, but bravado pushed me forward. Unfortunately, survival motivated this monstrous bug more than my glib disregard for reality -- I found myself clutching thin air.

I was afraid to tell Sherrell about it. We’ve sent many days on shore spotting this large cat like bugs sneaking around in the shadows. Smugly we congratulated ourselves on how careful we were with food items, not bring boxes on board and inspecting the produce for hitchhikers. We were also anchored out away from the docks, where surely they climbed dock lines in droves.

But reality is not my friend. I told Sherrell about my near miss with the dog-sized bug. “What?! You’re kidding me? Where? How big? I can’t be as big as a lion!” Nonetheless, I had seen it and there could be more, if not now, then perhaps a fresh brood is on the way.

So we dug into some books and found a recipe for a homemade potion that is harmless to people but unpleasant for horse-like cockroaches. Now we just have to watch and wait. There’s nothing worse than a boat full of bugs! It’s too crowded already!

Friday, July 08, 2005

Santa Rosalia

We’ve been here for almost two weeks and we’ve learned a lot about this little town. It is an old French copper mining town. They traded with a plant back in the 1800’s in Tacoma. In return, Tacoma shipped lumber back on the empty barges. Most of the old buildings here are built from that lumber that came from the Seattle area. Strange, isn’t it?

In addition to the remnants of the old mine and smelter, which shut down about 10 years ago, there is a large squid fishing fleet here. Each evening about 200 pengas stream out of the harbor to “jig” for squid. They lower these hooks down into the water about 1000 feet, and snag a 20 to 30 pound squid. Other squid start attacking the hurt squid and rise up to the surface en masse. The fishermen can’t pull them into the boats fast enough. Each night they haul about 100 to 150 tons of squid to the processors where they are shipped to Korea and Japan. With that much biomass extracted from the sea, there are sure to be several other species thrown out of balance.

Apparently in the 1970’s the sharks used to be so thick that you couldn’t catch a fish. The sharks would take the bait before a fish would ever see it. Sharks back then mainly ate the squid, which is currently exploding. Most of the sharks were killed off because of “finning”. For several years, Mexico accepted money from Japan to allow them to harvest their seas. The Japanese came over with massive processors and as it has been described by many, vacuumed the sea. They’ve since been forced to look elsewhere as Mexico realized its mistake, but the damage to many species has already been done. And before we point fingers at Japan, we should remember that our harvesting of beef has done tremendous damage to North, Central, and South America – too many people everywhere.

Anyway, these squid fisher guys usually go out at night, because it is much cooler (not because of the light) and often many of them are busy scoring crack on the Quay, near where we are anchored. It makes for interesting entertainment. Just a few days ago they had a massive bust by some plain clothes cops. You could see these guys getting arrested, and other pengas were coming up to the wall to still buy some. The guys under arrest were quietly trying to wave them off, but not many of them caught the clue.

So this town also has a church that was designed by the world famous Eiffel architect, the same guy who designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The church looks really out of place here. Sort of a like something that has been propped up into place at a time when the town was booming with dreams of bigger things, like a giant mall in a similar façade. Fortunately, just the church was done with the “Eiffel Touch” and Rosalia remains mostly wooden buildings from an era long gone.

As a cultural connection with the bygone French, you can still buy Baguettes here. We’ve found lots of good food, a VEGETARIAN restaurant, a place for Sherrell to buy some fins, and material for more sun shades.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Cat Vomit

Bet you didn’t see that subject coming, did you? Well it is what has been holding us up here: Cat Vomit. It happens about every two days or so and we get a nice treat from the cat. This has been happening for about 4 months. If you remember, we took her to a vet in La Paz because of this problem and they did a blood test and declared her, “Hypothyroid”.

Well, we talked to our vet in Seattle and did some research and found that hypothyroid is very rare in cats, especially in cats that have been treated for Hyperthyroidism (note the use of Hypo – too little and Hyper – too much). Apparently there is still quite a debate about proper thyroid levels and our old Vet said, don’t try to treat it without more testing, because the results didn’t make sense. She did have the same symptoms with hyperthyroidism, meaning vomiting, but she also had a few other subtle symptoms that she doesn’t have now.

So as part of trying to find out why the cat has been sick so often and has no other symptoms of anything, we decided that the heat and her shedding has been bothering her. Thus the lovely photo of our cat getting a hair cut. Well, that didn’t help. She still gets sick and doesn’t really have any significant hairballs.

As a last ditch effort, we found a vet here in Santa Rosalia who has been looking at her. We tried a combo injection of anti-nausea, laxative and anti-acid and she perked right up. All the sudden she seemed to feel better. So we backed off to just the anti-acid for the last two days and she seems to be doing well. Tomorrow we take her in to do another full blood work up. Our best guess right now is she probably has IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and perhaps some kind of addition to her diet might help. We’ll keep our fingers crossed on the blood results. If all goes well, we’ll have a healthy kitty and be back underway soon.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

SSB Nets

If you have the means, you can contact us on the following marine SSB nets:


Amigo Net, 1400 UTC, 8122 Khz

Southbound Net, 0045 UTC, 6516 Khz (sometimes 6224 KHz in the winter)

Some more updates to the site

We’ve revamped the FAQ, added a couple more photos to the gallery (don’t miss “Floaty Time” and added another book to Our Book List. Go nuts.