Greetings from Baja

No pictures this time.  We are in an area without widely available internet.  After taking our dinghy to an even prettier cove down the way, and leaving it under the watchful eye of an honest appearing gentleman drinking a cerveza, we trekked through some weeds to Mexico Highway 1 and found “Bertha’s” who sold us wifi for $2 but unfortunately I can’t upload photos….maybe manna. 

Greetings from Baja and hopefully this is correct grammar; “Happy Semana Santo.” Seamore Pacific is anchored just off Playa El Burro in Bahia Concepcion. Darn, if it is not gorgeous. When I look to the left I see emerald water, birds, rocks, and mountains. When I look to the right I see a white sand beach connecting to a mountain range. Only bits of sand are visible due to the amount of tents and palm thatched huts, and I’m guessing that throughout the day people are knuckle bumping one another, saying, “Darn, if it is not gorgeous here.”

In case you might be wanting to book a flight and join us, hold off until I also tell you that in the afternoon, the bay becomes a washing machine, thanks to jet skis and jet boats. But, as the sun goes down and the toys run out of gas, the “jet-cees” head to shore, deaf, sunburned, and in want of a cerveza or two. The Captain and I on the other hand, are in need of a hammer to bash out ZWEEE-ZZSH-ZWEEEEEE that is stuck on replay in our ears. Francis the cat deals by downing shots of Captain Morgan and then passing out. Joking and drama aside, we are actually having fun taking it all in. It’s actually quite a riot of activity. It’s not what we were expecting, which is one reason we enjoy cruising Mexico. If we found things, just as we expected, would there be any reason to visit? Oh yes, did I mention Mexico Highway 1 wraps around the cove? So add to the mix, semi-trucks using air brakes as they come down the mountain. For every semi-truck, there must be a dozen or so colorful delivery trucks carrying Sabritas, Bimbo, Tecate, etc. Maybe it’s the sun, the noise, or simply because we have the time to observe life, but it’s become one of our crazy past-times….watching cute toy-model trucks come around the mountain.  Some actually play music through large speakers mounted on the roof.

Even with a whole lot of people and truck watching, we do manage to squeeze in a bit of the other stuff that folks back home would expect of cruisers anchored in the clear emerald waters of Baja.   Yesterday we took the dinghy up onto the beach to do some land exploring. It was the first time on land since we left San Carlos, three days before. We then cooled off by jumping off the boat into the beautiful, refreshing water.   Today, we are doing practice drills of climbing from the water into the dinghy.   Once we master that, we can graduate to snorkeling off Tecomate rock. Wouldn’t that be a kicker to take our inflatable to Tecomate rock, jump over and snorkel, then find we can’t get back in the boat? I picture two feuding swimmers towing a dinghy through Jet Ski central.

Part of the fun of being in Baja is the crossing over from San Carlos. In fact, we joked when we arrived and saw the place packed with people, that we could just turn around and make several back and forth crossings until we have our fill of solitude.   Leaving San Carlos at 11:40 a.m. we had the sea to our selves, not seeing another boat until the next morning. The winds were light but enough to keep the mainsail happy. The seas were calm, the sky cloudy, and our spirits high. Sailing at night gives me butterflies. I am usually so nervous in the day leading up to it that I just need to go and get the jitters worked out. This time was no different, except that the butterflies left instantly and I felt calm rather than anxious when the sun went down.   Except when the unexpected happens, the boat takes on a certain rhythm and purpose. Everyone’s focus (including Francis the cat) is safety. Whether it’s never straying from the habit of using a harness when on deck, staying hydrated and nourished, and getting some serious shut eye, it’s what Seamore Pacific demands of her crew. In turn, she takes us out and beyond the horizon to connect with nature and sharpen the senses. A tiny example of proof: Godiva Chocolate never tastes as good as it does when enjoyed while on night watch.

Happy Easter,

Seamore Pacific

Excerpts from ships log:

1140 Motored out of Bahia San Carlos after filing exit papers with Port Captain. Flat calm with a million gnats! At least they don’t bite.

1330 Gnats are gone. A little lumpy but not bad. Wind is 15knots just off the nose. Francis is asleep in his bunk. Just finished lunch of chicken salad and Sabritas

1430 Wind on the quarter beam. Raised the main. I’m rusty at pointing to wind….according to the captain.

1730 Just finished dinner (all three of us). I made burritos in foil, with chips and salsa. Downed a large Coke. Francis is back in his bunk after eating, drinking, and having a potty break. He is adjusting nicely.

1900 Watched the sun set and now it’s time to hit the hay. Captain Chameleon is at the helm. I make a bed on the port side of the cockpit. I like to sleep out in the open to prevent sea sickness and it also calms my nerves.

  1. I’m awake and take on night watch, first checking coarse heading, gauges, and sail. Now it’s Godiva time. Winds are 5-12 knots S-SW. Cloudy night….only see stars here and there.

0100 I crawl under the covers and it’s the Captain’s turn.   I am so tired.

0430 I’m back on watch and wake the Captain because I see a panga just off our starboard side. The panga is running without lights and I’m wondering what they are up to. I’m doubly trouble that I didn’t pick them up on radar.   Close enough to us that I hear voices, I make a plan that if they attempt to board I will surprise them with turning on high powered lights and spraying them with a fire extinguisher. Groggy from sleep, Captain Chameleon does all of the right things!   And determines it is not a panga silly girl, it’s the lights of Mulege bouncing off the clouds. I feel a bit silly and could use another piece of Godiva.

0500 Bahia Concepcion is only 5 miles away. Abiding by our rule to not enter unfamiliar bays at night , due to reefs, rocks, and shoaling (unless weather, crew, or boat assist is needed) we turn around and head back to sea until the sun comes up.

0630 Coming into Bahia Concepcion. Greeted by skipping stingrays, dolphins, seals, and birds.

0930 Dropped the anchor in Playa El Burro. Depth is 17 ft with sandy bottom.   Time for breakfast and a shower.

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Boat Life: Adventure or Ordeal?

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Sometimes a word or two accomplishes more than a lengthy explanation.

“You have to ask yourself, is this an adventure or an ordeal?” Grammatically a question but delivered as a directive, Donna aboard sailing vessel Magic Carpet, effectively and sufficiently responded to my explanation for Seamore Pacific leaving the marina, only to have to return two days later. An adventure or an ordeal, are litmus for perceiving and responding to life aboard Seamore Pacific. I’m a bit embarrassed to say that at one time I naïvely imagined that 6 months of cruising the Sea of Cortez would be an indolent sail from one sandy cove to the next, no fuss or muss, and my biggest decision of the day would be whether to wear the blue swimsuit….or the blue swimsuit. But cruisers with experience know this just isn’t so. If not careful, the dream to experience this beautiful part of the world could easily turn into a begrudging chore.

Although Donna gave me the words, it’s for me to define what an adventure is, and what counts as an ‘ordeal’.   Thus far the delays and set-backs have all come back signed, sealed, and stamped as “adventure.”   A hoop-hollering adventure that is starkly different from the simple scenes I had imagined.   Until Seamore Pacific can employ a fulltime recreation director and ship’s purser, umbrella drinks and the plight for even tan lines have to go. They are no longer on the A-list.   Bug screens…potable water…high tensile chain…those are the items that keep our adventure alive in the midst of sometimes feeling mentally fogged in.

Provisioned and raring to go, Seamore Pacific left San Carlos Marina last Monday.   The long list of maintenance and preparation was finally down to two items; small enough to fit on a post-it-note. As they say, “one is never fully ready to leave the dock.” There is always something to do on a boat. The temptation to get everything done before departing will more often than not, keep sailors from cutting the umbilical cord. Tip top boats rarely make it out of the harbor. Keeping this in mind, our plan was to leave the dock and spend a few days at anchor, work on our post-it note list, and let our legs and my nerves adjust to being away from land. If all went well, we would sail to the east coast of Baja.

In the United States, and especially living in a large city like Phoenix, when something breaks, it’s relatively easy to locate a fix. Internet, phone service, UPS, Fed-Ex, Postal Service, or hopping in the car and driving to the store are tools at hand. It’s not the same in Mexico. There is always an extra hoop to ….let’s just call it an adventure to experience when an items breaks. For instance, we have Wi-Fi at the Marina but it is so insanely slow that if we need to do some serious internet communication, we go and find it at either Captain’s Club, Hammerhead’s, or Barracuda Bob’s.   Thinking we would bypass all of that by getting the latest I-Pad and switch out the SIM card with one by Telcel actually just turns out to be a carrot on a stick. First, a drive to Guaymas to the BIG Telcel sign in the sky. Relieved to see only about 20 people in line ahead of us, we waited for our number to be called. The very nice gentleman found 1 SIM card still on the shelf, but first we needed to get in a line to pay for it. After paying, we circled back through and received our new SIM card. Asking a few more questions, we learned we also needed to purchase cellular time. So, back in line to pay for cell time followed by going to another place to have an account activated. Because our plans are to sail to remote places that lack big Telcel signs in the sky, we tried purchasing a cruising season of internet. No such adventure. We can only purchase 3 GB at a time, it expires after 30 days, and then we must return to Telcel in the sky if we want anymore. Not sure how we will swing this but I’m sure we will figure it out. We surely aren’t the first cruisers who scrounge around for internet time.

But just to show how amazing this whole adventure is, last Monday when we left the dock, we planned for it to be our little shakedown before the crossing. 6 miles up the coast, west-north winds picked up to 20 knots on the nose. Wanting to avoid a lumpy and slow ride to San Pedro, we ducked into Bahia Algadones and set our anchor. By that time it was blowing hard and my nerves were as tight as the strings on a violin.   Admittedly, it takes me a few days to relax and give into the overwhelming power and energy that is created when wind and water move a 9 ton boat like it’s a feather.   Anchor set, it was time to work on our post-it-note list….commission the water maker. Why just sit around being nervous if our chain and anchor are strong enough…my worries, not the Captain’s.

“Honey, do you think the chain will hold the boat and keep us from dragging onto the reef?”

“Yes dear.”

“But when I compare it to the chain other boats carry, ours seems a bit small.”

“No dear.  It is high tensile chain and the size our windlass system calls for.”

“Is our windlass system big enough?”   And I don’t give up with questioning until we run through every system on the boat. It’s what helps me mentally keep this an adventure and hopeful avoid an ordeal.

So, back to the water maker….the boost pump just wouldn’t work. For a moment I started to get ticked off. Were we destined to always work, pouring time and money into the boat and not have a chance to sail? But, here is where adventure looks different now than it would have 10 years ago. The Captain “fired” up his Telcel Wi-Fi hotspot, took out his cellphone and called the water maker manufacturer. All the way to California! First he spoke to the designer and then the engineer/CEO.   The conclusion was that we needed a new boost pump. A new one would be shipped to the marina. Wow, how adventure some to be sitting on a boat, anchored in a beautiful bay in Mexico, and arrange for a part to be shipped. We have heard horror stories about how long it takes for parts to reach Mexico, partly because they go through customs and the delivery services are different here. But, this story ends very differently. A happy conclusion.  Using a tracking number we were entertained to see our new boost pump arrive and depart San Diego, to Ohio, to Guadalajara, to Hermosillo, and finally to Marina San Carlos. Only 4 days.   Yeah, returning to the marina was not in our plans, but it has added richness to our experience.   We attended Palm Sunday services; the water maker is working like a charm; the larder has been restocked; and we are ready to leave for Bahia Concepcion  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bah%C3%ADa_Concepci%C3%B3n,_Baja_California_Sur  .  We will study the wind forecast and if all looks good will leave later today, tomorrow, or the next.   Fingers crossed, Seamore Pacific and crew will enjoy a smooth 18 hour crossing.

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Day Off: the captain hired a rigger to climb the mast and fix a broken antenna. Yippy!

 

 

 

 

Fescue Grass & Sea Weed

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My parents have been married 50 years and fourteen days. I’m not sure what impresses me the most, longevity or change. I read somewhere that the average person in contemporary times deals with more change in a year, than their grandparents did in a lifetime. To imagine the depth of change that 50 years brings to one married couple is quite frankly an “uber” big deal. Impressed and intrigued, the Captain and I for sure didn’t want to miss out on my parent’s 50th Wedding Anniversary, so we battened down Seamore Pacific’s hatches and trekked to mid-America, also known as dairy cow capital of the fine US of A. Standing back and eying the experience, celebrating 50 years with the couple that raised me, brothers who endured me and everyone else who allows me to meander back and forth from pasture to sea, is nothing short of special. Metaphorically, going back to the Ozark’s feels like I’m glancing down at a scattering of cardboard jigsaw pieces, only to have my eyes lock in on one peculiar shape and know in an instant, where it fits. With just a bit of rotating, the edges align and the piece snaps in place.  A trip constructed for the purpose of celebrating my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary  inadvertently turned over a stone I have stepped on before….I just didn’t know it at the time.

How a country girl figures out when or how to live on a boat in a warm sunny place is not a puzzle, but rather a convergence of pieces which fit together quite naturally. A simple way to picture it is to imagine a girl crossing a pasture, climbing up and over a gate, then walking southeast down a rural road; eyes peeled for palm trees. She doesn’t stop until she feels soft sand rising between her toes and intense UV rays bouncing off her hair. She trades her fancy pretender sunglasses in for a quality pair of Costa Del Mars. They are beauties made for being on the water and will give her years of refractory-clarity and superior eye protection. In other words, “better to see you my dear.”

Whether I’m sitting at the beach, sailing on the boat, or being Captain Chameleon’s passenger seat driver as we make our way along I-44 to Missouri, I’m sure to have my Costa sunglasses on. Driving, not flying is our preferred method of travel to Missouri because we like to absorb the scenery along the way. Over the years we have settled into a routine of stopping at Blake’s in Gallup, New Mexico for a Green Chili Burger and Steak-N-Shake just outside of Oklahoma City for burgers, fries, and malt. But this trip was not destined to be routine. Passing through Gallup, we remembered it was Friday of Lent…no green chili burger this time. We would have to catch Blake’s on the way back. At least we still had Steak-N-Shake the next day. “Wonder if Steak-N-Shake has a green chili burger? A big juicy hamburger, fries, and chocolate shake is what I’m going to have.”   That changed several hundred miles down the road

Taking a break from reading, I glanced out the window to reconnect with reality. Like a magnet, my eyes locked onto the eyes of a calf.   Peering through a rectangle window of his temporary stall on a stockyard cattle truck,, as our car passed in the left hand lane,I was looking into his eyes and he was looking into mine.  Moving 75 miles an hour, time stopped. A piece of life’s jigsaw puzzle again lay before me. Deep down inside, I knew instantaneously where that piece of the puzzle belonged.

“What are you gonna have sweetie?” Asked the friendly blonde waitress.

“I’ll have a veggie sub,” I replied, purposefully not making eye contact with her or Captain Chameleon.

What the waitress didn’t say, Captain Chameleon did. “Who in their right mind comes to Steak-N-Shake and orders a vegetable sandwich?”

I understood his confusion. It has become a way of life to eat our way across Mexico and America on carne asada and hamburgers. Despite being vegetarian for a couple of years when we first married, ordering a carrot, cucumber, and tomato sandwich at a Steak-N-Shake in mid-America/Cow Country USA was puzzling to the Captain….and irritating to our waitress. “Are you not feeling well? Did you not see their list of $4 hamburger meals?”

“That cattle truck that we passed, well, there was a calf in the truck and our eyes met.”

One of the many things I love about the captain is that he lets me be me. His response to being vegetarian is, “Nope. I can’t live on vegetables alone.” But on the other hand, he knows that locked up deep inside, I’m meant to not eat cows, chickens, or pigs. He has heard my stories of growing up on a hobby farm.

When I was in the second grade my family moved to the country and started what I fondly refer to as a hobby farm. We had a calf. Some chickens. Two guineas that later turned into 80. A pig named Peter Piper. And, a pair of ducks and geese, gifts that I received on my birthday. One autumn day, our little calf wasn’t feeling too well and winter was at hand. Because the barn was cold and drafty, my parents thought it wise to keep our little buddy warm and safe in the basement. By the time spring came along, he had grown into quite a big fellow. Surprisingly, he didn’t much want to leave his digs in the basement but it was getting harder and harder (sillier and sillier) to take him outside each day to graze, clean up his bed, and then lead him back down the steps. In other words….it was a stray puzzle piece….one that didn’t fit with the rest of the set.

Back for my parent’s anniversary and going over pictures with my mom and dad, I came across the picture of me bottle feeding that little calf. I don’t know where the lines blurred where I could bottle feed a little creature, unknowingly fattening him up for the meat market. But in all honesty, it’s has been an arduous journey contempating a vegetarian lifestyle. For one reason and another I struggle. I go through phases of foregoing meat, only to reluctantly return to it. Just as I don’t rely on a measuring tape and right angle ruler to discern which piece belongs where in the jigsaw puzzle, this is a personal journey where I need not have all the answers in order to set out to cross the pasture.  Perhaps putting on my Costa Del Mars will help me gain some clarity.

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Bottle feeding Francis

Bottle feeding Francis

 

Jigsaw pieces:

  • When I told Captain Chameleon about keeping a calf in our basement, he responded with; “Honey, I wouldn’t repeat that story. It’s not normal to keep a cow in the basement.”
  • I buy into whole food ideology now. But the first time I heard someone talk about the cons of drinking orange juice over pealing and eating the entire orange, I thought to myself, “Honey I wouldn’t repeat that. It’s not normal to speak against Florida orange juice.”
  • The Captain isn’t into a vegetarian lifestyle.  However, he supports me and proved it by driving us all over town to find a pressure cooker to take back to Seamore Pacific. Brown Rice, dried beans, millet, and sweet potatoes will taste really good with salsa and guacamole.
  • Just before leaving on our trip to Missouri, I stumbled on an old favorite in a used book store; Laurel’s Kitchen. Eighteen years ago in Florida I was completely naive to a vegetarian lifestyle.  With the recommendation of a nice lady at the Natural Foods store in Marathon, Florida I purchased a copy of Laurel’s Kitchen and poured over it. Binder barely holding together, one copy is in my kitchen in Phoenix and now I have a copy on Seamore Pacific.
  • I worked with a nurse in Key West, who never in her life tasted meat. She and her husband had sailed from Europe, lived simply, and started a family on their boat. She was a joy to be around. I often wonder where she is today.
  • After a lot of thinking and not thinking, I decided to approach my vegetarian conviction like I’ve done with other endeavors in the past…don’t over think it and don’t postpone starting the journey while waiting for the “right” answer to appear. It’s in the actions, the failures, and the movement of living that I’ll arrive at a “right” answer.
  • I’m so fortunate. Boat neighbors in San Carlos are lending their experience and knowledge with keeping and using sourdough starter, making yogurt, and sprouting alfalfa seeds for greens.
  • Stay tuned for stories on how Seamore Pacific bridges Carne Asada and hamburgers with bulgur wheat and seaweed. Better yet, please share your own stories or words of wisdom of figuring out one of life’s convictions.  Jackie Blue, by Ozark Mountain Daredevils came to mind as I wrote this post.  Enjoy.

 

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Goose at Fellow’s Lake. Springfield, Missouri

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A drive in Webster County, Missouri

deer peaking through the woods

Fellow’s Lake. Springfield, Missouri

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Kansas scape

Kansas scape

Sea glass chasing the sun

Sea glass chasing the sun

Wasting Away in Marinaville

DSC05200“Nothing lasts forever,” I mouthed to myself, noticing the soles of my pink flip-flops definitely wearing thin.  Most gals would have ditched the faded beauties a long time ago. But, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I behold them to be simply beautiful…and functional. Neon pink and cheap ($2.50), I wear them to scruff around the marina. San Diego or Mexico, easy on and easy off, they are hands down the prettiest one’s I’ve yet to see worn into a marina shower. So, when I blew out my flip-flop (right one), on my way back home (A-Dock at Marina San Carlos) I couldn’t help but smile, borrow Jimmy Buffet’s song, and turn it into a title. Yep- hanging out in a Mexico marina has that effect on me….random bouts of creative energy spinning non-consequential moments into titles for Seamore Nautical Spirits.

The true story is that the Captain and I aren’t actually wasting away in some gosh-awful marina, drinking ourselves silly with blender concoctions, and getting tattoos while dreaming of sailing away. Give us 6 months and that might become the case, but for now, marina life has a different sort of purpose. It’s being in Marina San Carlos that I’m learning the ropes of seasonal sailing. Silly mwa  assumed that once we returned to the boat, after being gone for 10 months, that two days max is all it would take to wash off the pelican poo and tinker with a few simple boat projects; we would be sailing, sailing, sailing in nothing flat. Interestingly enough, that is not how the “grown-ups” do it. San Carlos is a cruiser’s haven.  Boaters come into San Carlos, leave for a few months/years, return, get back on their boat, and either cruise the Sea of Cortez or head south to the Pacific. This happens season after season, and year after year. What I’m learning is that most of us cruisers aren’t racers, that tinker projects always turn into major refit projects, and if the boat never, ever leaves the marina that’s more than OK. Because living on a boat, in Mexico, at a marina, getting to know other boaters creates random bouts of creative energy. And yippee for me, there are random opportunities when a 2 minute dance party interrupts my job of maintaining the teak; that’s when crew from one of the huge yachts cranks a stereo, sending hip-hip dance tunes out for my enjoyment (no one else seems to appreciate the loud music). Sometimes, it is so loud it cracks my toenail polish.

What has Seamore Pacific been up to besides wearing out flip-flops and dancing through boat chores? Well, there have been potlucks and dock parties to enjoy, hiking, and trail running.  Also, she has a brand new water efficient shower/faucet (one full day of work) and a new energy efficient-6 gallon hot water heater (3 full days of work). Both jobs required serious crouching and twisting in tiny spaces.   I can now identify what projects other boaters are involved in by watching how they walk down the dock. Hunched over and leaning to one side, face contorted is not a good sign. Grease under the nails? That means engine work. Sun kissed shoulders? That means sanding, varnish, and stainless steel polishing. Mumbling with eyes rolling? That means the wife insists on having a cat on board. Head nodding up and down, side to side, and cross ways? That definitely means an attack of creative energy is about to happen.

In reflection, I’d say what I’m gaining from our experiences this year is an ability to turn plain moments into moments of gratitude. Through daily chores I’m using my hands in ways not common to them. The clutter and chaos that ensues with most projects has been a healthy challenge to my practice of turning all the cans in the fridge so that each one faces identically.  Days where the wind whips through the bay, squashing any hope of going out for a day sail; days where finding the exact sized wrench, means, dismantling a quarter of the sole to access where tools are stored; and days, when snail mail is faster than the Wi-Fi at the marina would have irritated the heck out of me last year. But this year is different…probably because I only have to look out my hatch to see others modeling what it means to live in the moment as a sailor. Like my flip-flops, wasting away in marina-ville has an expiration date…I want to enjoy this moment.

So, excuse me, while I go round up another pair of flip-flops…a shaker of salt…and some dance tunes.

Bahia San Carlos

Bahia San Carlos

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DSC05250DSC05239Bird on Panga

Sunday drive to Miramar

Sunday drive to Miramar

Good place for a stop light?

Good place for a stop light?

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Sunday's Dinner

Sunday’s Dinner

The wood pile used to cook Sunday's dinner.

The wood pile used to cook Sunday’s dinner.

Peek a Boo!

Peek a Boo!

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Chaos and progress go hand in hand sometimes.

Chaos and progress go hand in hand sometimes.

A-Dock at Marina San Carlos

A-Dock at Marina San Carlos

Seamore Pacific with the 2 blue sail covers

Seamore Pacific with the 2 blue sail covers

Tienda on the way to the beach club

We like this Tienda, we pass it on our walk to the beach club

Marinaterra Beach Club

Marinaterra Beach Club

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Marina dockage includes access to the beach club.

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View from Marinaterra Playa

View from Marinaterra Beach Club

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…a little bit of dancing makes working on teak a whole lot more fun.

The End

The End

PS.  Seamore Nautical Spirits is looking forward to celebrating parent’s 50th Wedding Anniversary in the coming weeks. 

Life is Good: When the Sky Isn’t Falling

Multi-Tasking.  The very nice lady behind the counter at Super T, washes and dries her laundry while at work.

Multi-Tasking. The very nice lady behind the counter at Super T, washes and dries her laundry while at work.

The famous logo and product line, “Life is Good” is one of my favorites. The captain and I have several Life is Good T-shirts, depicting sailing, kayaking, and exercise. For the last two weeks, life has been good for Seamore Pacific. But in our quest for carefree adventure we have encountered serious physical work, termites, ladders, cold, and no bathrooms. Behind the simple, ultraistic drawing on a Life is Good t-shirt, I’ve learned that camping has its bugs, kayaking brings on blisters, running causes chafing, and living on a boat requires….denial, delusion, and repeating the motto, “life is good” a thousand times; even when it’s not easy or convenient.  Dinner 2 SNS Two weeks ago, after 10 months of working and urban dwelling, the Captain, Francis, and I returned to our boat. Sitting in the Sonora, Mexico work yard of Marina Seca, she greeted us with open arms. Skillful staff had moved her from secured storage to the work yard to await our arrival. Excitement was in the air, as owners just like us filed in to claim their fiberglass and wooden family members. I heard sighs of relief, grinding, sanding, and storytelling.   Except for the constant grit and grime, I find boatyards fascinating. People from all walks of life and professions are breaking sweat by day and dreaming by night.     DSC05036Having Francis with us, we thought it best to stay in either a posada or casita for the 2 days it would take to launch Seamore Pacific. Life is good though. On day 4 we were still nowhere close to splashing. Nature has the final say in sailing and nature had determined that the tide wouldn’t be high enough to launch until the following Thursday. The little posada we were staying at was free of grit and grime but to make it comfy we needed to personalize it with blankets, towels, and rugs. And then there was the issue of termites in the headboard having midnight munchies. The captain was wigged out by the noise they made. I was wigged out by the tunnels they had created. We are from Florida, so we are used to termite damage but for some reason or another, this experience was just not in our “life is good” repertoire.   Patio for SNS Bedroom casita 4 We waited 10 months to be on the boat- why let jack stands; climbing a ladder; no onboard bathroom; and boatyard grime stand in the way. Cheerfully we cleaned the thin layer of dust from inside Seamore Pacific’s sole and hauled our stuff up the ladder to make our boat back into the home she is. Perched 10 feet in the air, in the Tetakawi mountains, we grinned just as silly as a stick figure character from a Life is Good t-shirt. Staying aboard a boat while in the work yard takes patience, tolerance, and a strong bladder but for us it was worth the trade-off of being in our own space. Francis readily agreed. Our boat yard days quickly took on a rhythm of physically exhausting work during the day, a tepid marina shower at 5 pm, and then a nighttime walk to a local restaurant.   Chicken enchiladas, papas locos, cheeseburgers in paradise, and margaritas made up for all of our inconveniences. Sooner or later, the topic of food always comes up within the rich conversations shared by sailors. However, despite our good life in the boat yard, launch day did arrive. Except for a below-the-waterline leak, and strong winds, launch day was just like any other ordinary day. The time to switch gears had arrived. I was trading in land for water. What an adrenaline rush, to hear the captain announce, “We have a leak.” It got my attention in the same manner as a rattle snake did, when I crossed paths with him at midnight on the Pemberton Trail in McDowell Mountain a few years ago. Another example of when life is good, I tabled my emotions and searched diligently for a positive outcome; helping Captain Chameleon narrow the water leak to a hose fitting. Captain Chameleon shut off the thru-hull valve taking it down to a tiny trickle of ocean water to seep in, but subsequently a non-functioning toilet. Not perfect by any means but we continued on. In cruising, I’m learning that life can only feel good when I stay calm, stay with the mission, and keep my expectations and fears from sky rocketing. In short, it’s been a physically exhausting week. We have sanded and painted the hull, started sanding and varnishing the teak, fixed all water leaks, and formulated a plan for replacing the hot water heater, head (bathroom) shower faucet, and a few sail lines. Aside from that, we have enjoyed well thought out meals, deliberately prepared over conversation and easy laughs, (spaghetti, pizza, and barbacoa over rice). When the sun goes down I transition to sleep by cozying up with a good book, under a fleece throw. I go through every boat sound I’m hearing…is it a leak? Are our dock lines secured? Is the sky falling? Once I’ve checked all possible catastrophes off the list, I give Francis a good night kiss, switch off the cabin lights, and say to the captain, “Isn’t Life Good?” For which he reassuringly responds, “Yes” Good night, S/V Seamore Pacific

Work yard at Marina Seca

Work yard at Marina Seca

The tarps took a beating.

The tarps took a beating.

Barren & Dark

Barren & Dark

Cobweb

Cobweb

Boat critters

Boat critters

Boat-sweet home after a day of tender loving care.

Boat-sweet home after a day of tender loving care.

Cozy bed SNS cozy kitty SNS

Morning Coffee

Morning Coffee

Francis' Galley

Francis’ Galley

Sunrise.  Launch Day!

Sunrise. Launch Day!

Moving Crew

Moving Crew

These guys are amazing...skillful, friendly, efficient.

These guys are amazing…skillful, friendly, efficient.

Moving Day 2 SNS

Marina San Carlos...here we come.

Marina San Carlos…here we come.

It's always exciting to see a boat go in the water...even when not my own boat.

It’s always exciting to see a boat go in the water.  Marina friends saw Seamore Pacific on the launch ramp and stayed around to see her splash.

#x%#!!!!!  We have a below the water line!  "Grab some masking tape Ethel!"

#x%#!!!!! We have a below the water line! “Grab some masking tape Ethel!”

Life is Good...leak stopped and boat is still afloat.  Lots of cleaning and canvas work to put up.

Life is Good…leak stopped and boat is still afloat. Lots of cleaning and canvas work to put up.

Bimini up

Bimini up

Seamore Pacific...Phoenix, Arizona

Seamore Pacific…Phoenix, Arizona

Wild Horse.  Life is Good

Wild Horse. Life is Good

Wild Guy.  Life is Good

Wild Guy. Life is Good

Seamore Pacific Trivia:

  1. How many steps to the marina bathroom?   Answer: 624 steps round trip. When it’s blowing 30 knots or in the dead of night it feels like 1248 steps.
  2. How many days did it take to make Seamore Pacific free of “below the water line” leaks? Answer: 4 days. I’m happy to say that water never reached the bilge pumps and we now have a working toilet. Life is really good when the boat floats.
  3. Who sells the best bacon in San Carolos, Mexico? Answer: Santa Rosa’s market. They smoke all of their meat on premise. However, we can’t just stop with the bacon, we also cart home pint size tubs of guacamole, spinach, garlic, cheese, barbacoa, refried beans, and tortillas. Plus, Santa Rosa is on the way to Ruth & Rudy’s Bakery….their chocolate éclairs up the ante on what is good for the soul.
  4. Besides being sea worthy, what makes for good living on a boat? Answer: hot water, ice cubes, a warm bed with soft sheets, absorbent (and pretty) towels, strong dock lines/anchor rode, a cozy settee, ample lighting, a well provisioned galley, and a boat kitty.
When life needs more color

Life needs more color

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Sunrise over Marina San Carlos

Sunrise over Marina San Carlos

Syncing Ship

cropped-cropped-dsc0466611.jpgThursday, January 1st was supposed to be the day we sailed away. That was the plan. Rock solid and pretty, the plan was to glide out of work by New Year’s Eve, wake up early Thursday and toss our gear into a freshly washed and waxed car, then drive south across the border, scooting into San Carlos by happy hour. The formal itinerary called for Seamore Pacific’s mainsail to be unfurling just as Captain Chameleon and I raise a cerveza and sing, “Its 5 O’clock Somewhere.” Bon Voyage couldn’t have been any more perfect than if Jimmy Buffet and Martha Steward had planned and packaged it. Reality check- the ability to execute travel plans is lost on the two of us. Captain Chameleon’s motto is, “I don’t know where I’m going and I don’t know when I’ll get there.”

Captain Chameleon knows where he is going. He just isn’t into planning out every infinite detail. A guy of chameleon complexity, he also isn’t one for taking chances and he is far from being reckless. Tell him to be somewhere at 5 and he will make sure to be there at 4:45. The Captain’s reply to my question of, “what day are we heading to the boat?” turned out to be a valuable exercise in determining the value of time. The wise Captain knew that I needed to settle into non-occupation mode and he needed to get used to having Martha Steward organize his day. And so, the syncing of Seamore Pacific began…

The first sign that Seamore Pacific was syncing was when I awoke on January 2nd without an alarm clock. I love mornings when they start off with my own internal clock saying it’s time to wake up. Yesterday my internal alarm went off at 3:45 a.m. and so I made a pot of coffee and welcomed the day (SOS….sign of syncing). I couldn’t help but smile at a flashback from nursing school when I would stand in the shower at 4 am and cry because I hated mornings. And then there was the other flashback, when Captain Chameleon would either start his day at 3:45 am or end it at 3:45 am.

What was innate for Captain Chameleon on January 1st and later became obvious to me, is the need to be in-sync with boat living. In other words, we needn’t get crazy and knock each other down following a specific plan for re-entry into live aboard cruising. Besides syncing mobile devices, setting up an inReach handheld satellite device, stowing new batteries, ordering auto-pilot spare parts and grease for the propeller shaft, there is the ambient features to incorporate.  Sailing is very physical. But living aboard a sailboat, in another country deduces to physical locomotion.   In our experience, when we are not sailing we are walking; to the Mercado for groceries, the hardware store for gadgets, and every street taco vendor within a 50 mile radius. We love walking.

So, on January 5th we downsized from 2 cars to 1 (SOS…a sign of syncing). Why keep a “his” and “her” car to drive a mile to the market when we can peddle our bikes? In Phoenix, we have become accustomed to the easiness of hopping in the car to drive a half-mile. Part of our love for Seamore Pacific is the walking that we do, so why not do more walking and bike riding when we aren’t on the boat? Now a one car…2 bike…4 Saucony…and 8 flip-flop family…we hoofed it the other night to a local pizzeria ­­­­to celebrate. Syncing or not, I really do like this, Don’t-Know-Where-I’m-Going sailing fellow.bikes in garage

With nine days of syncing we are in good shape and on our way to the boat. We left Phoenix one afternoon and crossed over into Mexico at dusk.   Professional and helpful, the Mexican officials inspected our car, gave Francis the A-O-K, and handed us our travel visas. We are good for 6 months.   What about Ruby? Well, part of what came out of syncing was a last-minute request by Grandma to keep Ruby. Everyone loves Ruby and her adorable face. The question took me by surprise. What would we do without Ruby on board? But, the Captain was selfless and correct to identify that sailing was never Ruby’s gig….it is ours and not hers. When we took Ruby over to Grandma’s house, I swear Ruby was humming to the tune of, “its 5 o’clock somewhere.”

Taking into account our GPS location and relaxed state of mind, we believe it will be 4, 5, 6 or 8 more days before we actually arrive in San Carlos and climb aboard Seamore Pacific. Like the Captain says, “If we knew where we were going, then we would know what time we’ll get there.”

SOS, GPS, and LOL.

 

Seamore Pacific is Syncing….

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getting to stay home

Francis is packed

Syncing the In Reach

Syncing the Delorme

Waiting for Health Certificate

Waiting for Health Certificate

 

 

~ Afternoon walk ~

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coastal

sleeping

pellican sos

 

The Color of Gravity

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In the cruising world, boat chores are sometimes referred to as either pink or blue.  Pink being those chores pertaining to galley duty, bright work, bilge cleaning, and canvas repairs.  Blue jobs typically include engine work, climbing the mast, and going bottom side to scrub the hull.  For as much as the nomenclature of categorizing boat duties sounds sexist, life on a boat is anything but.  It’s always about getting the job done, sometimes requiring a  “suck it up cupcake” attitude.

The color of work on our boat is Mauve.  Captain Chameleon cleans the bilge and I go up the mast.  We both tend to the bottom side.  Not so much on Seamore Pacific, but when we lived on a trawler in the Florida Keys, our once a month fun-day was to take her out Sister’s Creek, drop anchor, and spend an hour scrubbing every inch of her hull.  To give my arms and neck a rest from the awkward position of scrubbing, I’d take a 5 minute snorkel break, out and away from the boat.  Break time was sure to reveal some kind of marine life; tarpon, starfish, parrot fish, and sometimes harmless species of small sharks.  Most of the congregating fish were probably curious about the dime-size barnacles released with each successful swipe of the scrub brush; some would drift away with the underwater current, while others sank to the bottom of the ocean floor.  Back to boat chores…I loathe mauve.

Mauve reminds me of a time in my life when fabric came in every shade of mauve and was paired with cream colored lace, to make blouses with puffed up sleeves and shoulder pads. Gag.  If that isn’t horrid enough, what about having wallpaper with ducks and geese wearing yellow bow ties?  Not to be critical of mauve, lace, ducks, and geese, but the whole Country Gal style just wasn’t me.  But, I didn’t know that at the time.  Literally everywhere I turned, something or somebody was shrouded in the stuff and so I assumed it was who I was.  As destiny would have it(a.k.a. as coming to my decorating and fashion senses),  I became aware of another world and other colors.  Imagining all the possibilities and options that lay before me, was…well, there really are no words to describe how wonderfully liberating the feeling was.  Pre-move to Florida and pre-Captain Chameleon, I view those precious days as when my color wheel started moving, taking me in the right direction.  I didn’t know where I was going, but I was fully content to finally be underway and waving good-bye to Mauve; and all her foo-foo cronies.  Content to experience new color, but a novice at creating them.  With paralyzed excitement, my white knuckles had to find the mojo to open up and let go…White.  Green.  Yellow.  Red.  Orange.  And BLUE.

“Ready?”  He shouted.

“Yes. Wait, NO!  Ok. Yes.”  I shouted back in staccato fashion.

In the time it took for my heart to beat one more time, I let go of the strut supporting the wing and went into free fall.  The color of gravity was blue. Beautiful BLUE.

 

That was my one and only static-line skydive.  Something about an unforeseen change in wind direction and speed caused me to have what they categorize as a “miss landing.”   Enjoying the blue of the sky and to be alive, I was puzzled by the tiny specks of people waving their arms and jumping up and down on the ground.  Coming in fast but still very high, I sailed past them and way, way past the drop zone they were jumping up and down on.  My travels that day took me past a highway, past a grove of trees, and past a farmer’s fence and pond; eventually I plowed his field using only my outstretched legs that were locked tight at both knees.   Blue skies became brown dirt, which thankfully turned into black and red.  Two gentlemen driving down the highway in a red corvette, seeing jumpers, decided to pull over and enjoy the pretty parachutes.  The first 2 chutes fell out of sight just as they had expected.  What about that one?!  Geez-o-Pete it’s coming our way.  Oops, there she goes.  Hope she misses the power lines…

Having just found a new appreciation for brown, I sat there stunned, staring at Farmer Brown’s dirt. Hearing shouts, I looked up to see two men dressed in black running towards me.  Asking me if I was ok, checking for broken bones, and muffling profanities, they helped me unharness from my chute and gather it into a puffy cloud of silk….it could have been the color of mauve for all I know.  To far to walk, one stayed behind, while the other gave me a lift in the red corvette, back to the deadbeat skydiving school.

 

~OTV63TI001F_2

Packing Chutes

Packing Chutes

Final drill before going up.

Final drill before going up.

 

It was my skydiving debut that has earned me the chore of going up the mast on Seamore Pacific.  Technically a blue job by boater standards, but one that I’m best suited for, over Captain Chameleon.  It’s not often I have to go up the mast and it’s never because something really great just happened.   At the top of the mast is a job that requires tools, ingenuity, safety-mindedness, and scheming.  Scheming on how I’m going to get Captain Chameleon to put on a pink apron and clean up the galley.

Soon enough I’ll be rummaging the lazarette for my bosun chair.  Seamore Pacific, by all accounts, came through Hurricane Odile unharmed but she has a non-functioning antennae at the top of her mast that needs to come down.  Otherwise, the antennae serves as a roost for birds, giving the fate of gravity a whole new meaning and color.

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