Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Our Summer of 2020

Greetings from sunny, hot Portland. First of all, a big thank you and virtual hug you to everyone who has contacted me about my back surgery! I truly appreciate the outreach. To say the least, it's been an interesting summer for all of us, in so many ways. 

Long story short. I didn't have the surgery. It wasn't an easy decision but since I wasn't in 'debilitating pain' at the time of my surgery, the neurosurgeon said he thought it was best to avoid surgery unless it was critical - and I reluctantly agreed that I should 'wait'. The second MRI later in June showed that my cyst on my spine had 'resorbed' from the size of an olive to that of a pea. So my subsequent phone meeting with the neurosurgeon at Kaiser P lead to a similar, short discussion. Don't cut if you can handle the pain and situation.

I haven't written about it since I continue to have mixed emotions. It's hard to express. My decision for now is to see how life progresses. I am doing physical therapy and tolerating many movements and exercises. Truly, I am supremely thankful that I am not in recovery mode. I am working, active and challenging my mobility. 

New sheep troughs with jasmine and greenery
We are enjoying our little bit of paradise on Hayden Island and both once again, working several jobs to make our way.  
Enjoying our new "living room"
Our summer shore view - when river was higher 
We love our storage shed!

Chilling at my friend's family cabin on Orcas Island

Great cloud action every day from the deck

We had a great getaway to the San Juan Islands in July, where Mike taught two 4-day advanced Bareboat Charter classes to a variety of students - who all had a wonderful time while earning their advanced sailing certifications. 

We drove together to Anacortes, WA, where I met up with one of my longest term friends (don't want to say oldest!), and Mike boarded the boat in anticipation of his first students' arrivals. 

My friend and I spent a magical 4 days exploring Orcas Island and chilling at her family's "cabin".  After much catching up, laughter, exploration, kayaking and eating, we parted company in Anacortes where I met up with Mike and our friends. We spent the following 4 days on board 'Flyer', a Jenneau 44 - a modern, sleek and very different sailing vessel than our Pura Vida. We motor sailed to Stuart Island then hiked, relaxed, tried to catch some elusive crab, and generally hung out. This respite was more relaxing for me than Mike since he had to unwind from class 1, then prepare for the next group of students. All told, we had a wonderful time. The weather cooperated and we had some wind.

Contemplation at sunset

Lavender abounds on Orcas

Vistas from Mt Constitution

Mt Baker in the distance

Dual wheel, sleek Jenneau - a bit more modern
than our 1976 Islander Freeport

We hope you are all safe and well, as thankfully, we are.
The girls at Mt Constitution

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Bittersweet time … and ready for surgery

Just saying good morning
I say, bittersweet, as we always enjoy our many experiences in Mexico*. As all good things, this amazing journey must come to an end and so this Thursday we are heading to Portland.
And saying goodbye to Punta Pulpito
Synchronized showoffs!

Thanks, Kay, for capturing us actually working,
the saltwater removal patrol at Guaymas
Graceful dinghy exit
at the dock
Team work always pays off. when washing the hull in a dirty bay (no one fell in)
In mid-May, we made our crossing from Punta Pulpito on the Baja to the mainland. Punta Pulpito is a pretty remote, chill anchorage with no beach access (we hadn’t been going ashore much anyway due to local restrictions). I kayaked around the point and we spend time with our new Dutch friends who kindly shared some of their freshly baked bread! A treat for us, since we rarely eat bread in Mexico.

We arrived safely, happily, a bit tired, after about 19 hours, to the beautiful and familiar Bahia San Carlos. The time zone changed during my night watch so I wondered – do I add or subtract that hour from my shift? I was on from 7 to midnight with a fantastic sunset followed by an incredible volume of stars and the spectacular milky way. This light show provided a nice glow of ambient light and enhanced my night watch experience. During Mike's watch, the waning moon provided some bold late-night illumination, a startling surprise when suddenly there’s an orange ball on the dark horizon.
The captain enjoying our last days in the Baja sun and fun

We arrived after sunrise into several hours of bigger waves banging across our beam than we’d had all night. Rock n roll! As we approached the bay, a mile abeam of our vessel, highly turbulent waters moved toward us in a long line. A quick glance with the binocs revealed a large pod of dolphins who were quickly abeam of our boat, swimming and jumping across our wake. What a joyous moment – and oh so hard to capture on film!

San Juanico, one of many beautiful anchorages on the Baja -
a great place to spend our quarantine for a few weeks
Anchored happily in San Juanico, the southern lobe
Once at anchor in the bay, we looked forward to walking around after a few days on board. We happily met up with several long-time friends, secured fresh foods and even dined out, socially distant and thankful for the great meals.

While crossing the sea, Kaiser Permanente left me a voice mail offering me a spine surgery appointment on June 2nd. We'd been out of internet/phone range but I'm still not sure why that Thursday message didn't show up until Saturday. First thing Monday, I called and secured the one appointment to get this surgery done! If they hadn’t kindly held that spot, I’d fall “to the bottom of the list”. Super thankful!

Enjoyed a wonderful walk and talk to the point
with Marion & Theo, "Double Dutch"
Life's been moving fast ever since. We’ve been working to prep the boat for haul out tomorrow at Marina Seca. Then we’re off to Phoenix where I’ll fly to Portland and Mike will drive our rig full of our stuff, hopefully to arrive before my surgery. He’ll be on the road on his birthday, so a quick note from you would greatly appreciated (by me, anyway …). We have some crazy times ahead in the next couple of weeks, and hopefully safe and healthy times as well.

* this rich kaleidoscope includes the people, culture, country, food, experiences and the exchange rate

Sigh ... I am trying to upload a photo I took today of a huge AC unit in the back of a small sedan in downtown Guaymas, unfortunately my bandwidth from Telcel says "no more data for you!" The big message is ... time to go, it's getting hot here and it's hurricane season.
Courtesy of Jacomina on Tara. Love these ospreys

Monday, May 4, 2020

Sailing north into the Sea and beyond

Pizza to go! at Puerto Escondido Marina
We have been safely and thoughtfully enjoying our time in anchorages along the Baja, as we head north toward Guaymas and our haul out sometime later this month. Life permitting, we plan to be in Portland in early June as Mike will begin teaching sailing lessons immediately upon our arrival.
Dolphin show - Candeleros

Everyone we encounter is very cautious and considerate, all wearing face masks, keeping appropriate distances and respecting people’s space. It’s a weird dance we all do, much less friendly and interactive yet we share a common concern for all our safety. As we are certainly all experiencing, a lot of communications happen non-verbally and it’s hard to know if a smile lurks behind the mask.

Dolphin cruising by
We have been blessed with good health during our time here, and I am most thankful to report that my leg pain has subsided substantially. I continue to be super careful with walking and maneuvering around. Several friends let us know that elective surgeries have begun in Oregon so you can imagine, I am on it. To follow up, I’ll call the scheduler today to chat about my position in the queue.

Pelican feeding frenzy - they get really crazy 
Pelican feeding frenzies were frequent in Candeleros Bay, south of Puerto Escondido where we stayed a few days enjoying a bit of internet and cell service on board after 20 days in Agua Verde where internet was spotty at best at the one tienda in the fishing village. We don’t usually stay in one place that long, but we had nowhere in particular to go, having been suggested by a few friends and family north of the border to stay put rather than risking the trip north when things were so crazy.
Lenticular cloud over Pura Vida - San Telmo

The large resort at Candeleros, which includes an oddly bright green golf course, is vacant except for the occasional worker. We’ve not been allowed to walk anywhere on the beach. A few days ago, a Navy boat came by with a message to “stay at home”. Photos and videos of each boat were recorded as they passed. We waved to confirm our understanding of the safety message in English, for our benefit, and Spanish.

We come north to the US with trepidation, although we hear things are opening up and life is once again, blooming, along with May flowers. Once we leave this anchorage, will be out of internet coverage as we head north into the sea. Next communications will be from the mainland side, if all goes well. 
Pelican on take off

Puerto Escondido bay and marina - nice place to hang out

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Toes in the sand: Agua Verde

We are happy to report that we are safe and sound in the beautiful northern lobe of the large, protected anchorage of Agua Verde.
Just me and the chickens - they are plenty noisy!
We have not gone to the village, only to the tienda for internet (1 hour, 30 pesos = $1.75), sitting at the chicken coop, under "la ramada" which is either roofed open air structure, deluxe chicken coop or a past-its-prime Ramada Inn. Not sure, as there isn't really enough bandwidth to look up the word. I just hope this blog will post, with downsized photos. And early in our stay here, we ordered a couple of delicious take out meals from Leonor's when she was open (now closed as so many places, since we heard AMLO declared a stay at home policy across Mexico).

Hoisting the Q flag
We are taking our time getting north to Guaymas for a variety of reasons, safety being paramount. We are in self quarantine, and Mike with his sense of humor, hoisted our Quarantine flag. Here he is doing his safety drill: quarantine and tequila as disinfectant.

We don't get much news except from other boaters, a bit from the nice people who own the tienda,  on the morning net via SSB (single side band radio) when the signal is good, or from friends who write to us on our Garmin InReach account (160 character messages). News is thin and that's probably a good thing - from what we do hear...

There are a few other boats here, some coming and going north or south each day. The anchorage is protected from the winds that are blowing from all directions at this time of year. We are kayaking, meeting new friends and doing gentle hikes on the beach and surrounding hills (to protect my back / leg while we wait for the word that I can be scheduled for my spine surgery).
Leonor's restaurant, waiting for fish tacos  - yummm!

Full moon rise over the Sierra Gigante Mountains, Agua Verde
Social distancing at the tienda - 2 people allowed in the store

Small beach fire with a good wind break

Monday, March 30, 2020

Touching base!

The beach in La Paz
Loving our new paint job

First of all, thank you so much to our many friends who have reached out to inquire about our whereabouts and our silence these past 3 months. We are happy to report that we’re safe in La Paz and plan to work our way north to Guaymas via the Baja, starting March 31st.

A lot has transpired for us in recent months and especially this last month, as I am sure it has with everyone. I’ve been reticent to say anything about my own (frankly, our) situation because I figure my story is just one more tough situation. 

Our art gallery
An MRI I had in La Paz last month identified a cyst on my spine that I need to have surgery to resolve. It’s a long story, one that’s very much still in process. In light of the current medical situation in the US, my surgery is considered ‘elective’. In my book, that’s not really the case however I don’t get to vote. And so I wait until at least the summer for notification about scheduling. It’s frightening for me, and for us, let’s just say.

Like everywhere, things are changing very rapidly so we are keeping an eye on the changes in Mexico. There are few reported cases of corona virus here, and they’d like to keep it that way. There are plenty of closures everywhere, essential businesses and some restaurants open with well-spaced tables and all staff wearing masks. The ports across Mexico have been closed to tourist boats of all kinds and as of this moment, still open for private vessels like ours. We hope it remains this way at least for a while.

Out on the town during Carnaval - up until midnight!
Candy vendor - don't your teeth hurt just looking at this stuff?

Carnaval from the tram

Sunset from the tram 
We've been having a great time and enjoyed our time in La Paz. Great fun during Carnaval in February, great music, festivities and we did the aerial tram along the malecon to enjoy the sunset.

Absolutely no dog popping

We hope all of you are doing well and staying safe!

Saturday, December 21, 2019

From our slice of heaven to yours!

Our festive cockpit loaded with projects

Holiday shopping displays
On this winter equinox, the days are short even at the 27th parallel and we look forward to longer days ahead. The sun shines bright then it’s quite cool in the evenings, wind blowing through the dirt yard here in Guaymas. And for those who wonder, we are working toward our splash before the end of the year.

Painting and cleaning
Fun with hoses and clamps

Generator, without cover to fit through the engine room door 

We undertook an unplanned, but required, project of replacing the engine room insulation. The black dust residue from the failed insulation welcomed us as we peered into that important real estate on board, where the brains of the operation live (except for the brain of Captain Mike). Start to finish took more than three weeks. The filthy and lengthy removal process, cleaning, prep and installation of all new insulation, spraying and painting. Then Mike had to redo all the fixtures, fittings, hoses, cables and more so things actually work again.

3 guys installing in a small space,
sitting on top of our engine
Installation complete. Now starts the next phase of work.
Once completed, that paved the way for installation of our new Fischer Panda Generator. Hauling the awkward 350+ pound beast through a very precarious route was completed successfully by four of our work guys in the yard. Special shout out to Alejandro, Alejandro David, Aldo and Moises. Fist pumps and very cold beers were shared post-project, to everyone’s delight.

In between those big projects, we've been doing a ton of smaller scale updates.
Judy's first drill press project

New v-berth cushions rock!

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick!

The screw and bolt guy. Great local resource.

Christmas glitz on a boat? Nope, a
through hull waiting it's new home

We are thankful to be on board our own little slice of heaven, no matter where she is and where she takes us once we are floating. And from our happy home to yours, we send our best wishes for a Merry Christmas and blessed New Year!
Merry Christmas! 

Hillsides are very green after heavy rains late November

After a rain storm, car wash guy filling his buckets. Actually they totally
detailed our Ford Escape inside and out for $13.00 -with clean water

Ann's apple was too much excitement for this butterfly who fluttered
around her until she set it down. It was a big meal for that little guy.