Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dogs, and Not Dogs

I heard it once said that dogs think that we humans are also dogs, but a very special kind of dog. I suppose this could be true for some people, but for people who hate dogs, do dogs still think they're really dogs? Or do they think "he's too damn mean to be a dog..." Maybe you have to qualify to be a dog.

A couple of years back I watched a documentary about Shaun Ellis, a man who raised a couple of wolf pups, then got involved in a wolf pack. He lived with wolves for almost two years, running around (sort of), with the pack, hunting and gnawing on bloody carcasses for food.

One part of the documentary that stuck with me was the way that wolves would greet each other by biting, and getting bitten on their muzzles. Shaun is no wuss... he got in there and bit and got bit and his face started to look like one of those bloody carcasses at the dinner table. Check this out... ahhhh Wolf Heaven.

I thought I would try that with Chica and Sophie. But instead of biting their muzzles, I would grip it with my hand (my face already looks worse than Shaun's) and shake it a little and growl. Surprisingly, Chico thought it was really cool and would push her muzzle deeper into my palm, wagging like crazy.

Sophie just wanted to know if I had any food... and walked away.
But I think Chica would just rather get scratched than anything, except to play ball.

This reminds me that when I was a toddler, my Uncle Brooks would grab my nose and give it a little shake when he came to visit.
Maybe I was already a dog then.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hot Tamale

This little map was on WeatherUnderground today and I wanted to share it. If you look along the Mexican mainland coast as it climbs into the Sea of Cortez, you see a little indent near the the top. That's where San Carlos and Guaymas are located. That's us.  It would seem that we're the hottest place in Mexico/Central America at the moment.

And we just got our electricity back after a blackout. Only a couple of hours... but still.

We responded by sending the Capt. down to the boat (SV BLISS is currently in a slip at Marina San Carlos for cleaning and unloading after our trip) and fetched some flashlights and the Honda generator and a jug of gasoline. When the power goes out here, the gas stations can't pump gas. Short story, we hooked up the generator to the fridge, a fan, and the 1st Mate's computer. Internet is like, important to us.
Our A/C in the condo is 220 volt and the Honda can't handle that.

Will the power stay stable? We don't know, but we can cool down the boat pretty fast with the A/C there and our generator, so in an extended blackout we could move aboard to survive. Nice knowing that.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Heading for the Barn

The Tetas of San Carlos.
Distinct and large enough to work as a landmark from 20 miles out...

Monday July 19
We've decided it's time to head for the barn. After a restful night at anchor in Agua Verde on the Baja peninsula, we caught an early westerly that brought us up to 6 knots for a couple of hours and launched us on our way to San Carlos.

The development of Puerto Escondido doesn't appeal to us, and we'd rather be getting home than spending money on what used to be free at the Hidden Port. Maybe next LoretoFest, we'll see.

Speaking of LoretoFest, we've been thinking about starting a cruiser music festival in San Carlos, maybe between October 15 and November 1st. In the past I've organized rock/music concerts to raise money for people who have needed medical care and it's been a lot of fun. The 1st Mate and I would need to work some things out because those dates coincide with our deadlines/publishing of our annual traveler's guide. Again, we'll see.

It's 94 degrees in the cabin this morning at 11… a hot one. The westerly has died and we're motoring (dieseling?) over a flat Cortez. Fortunately, the 120 amp alternator I found at the San Carlos sailors swap meet is working, and coupled with a 2000 watt dc to ac inverter and a countertop ice maker, we are enjoying fresh limonades as we go. The sea surface is getting that ruffled look it gets prior to the daily seabreeze, so there's hope that the wind will start up soon.

11pm update
Still no wind, but the seas are flat. Hot and humid.

Tuesday July 21
We arrived in San Carlos hot, tired and sleepy around 12 noon. The 1st Mate, Sophie and Chica were dropped off near the big Marinaterra Hotel restaurant dock to get a cab for me from the dinghy dock to the condo. We're heading in for showers and naps and air conditioning… then we'll start unloading the boat tomorrow when she's moved to a slip. So nice to be back, safe and sound.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Navigating Life...

This is a screen shot of a nautical chart of our current location and part of our route back home. The GPS we use with our computer is a GlobalSat BT-328, on the left, below. It uses Bluetooth wireless to connect to our MacBook Pro  laptop and establishes our position within about 20 feet. It costs less than $50 on the internet and has worked flawlessly for us for years.

When you use it with Google Earth, you get something like this, which puts us in our temporary slip at Marina de la Paz. 

Google Earth requires an internet connection, of course, and that's rare when underway, so navigation charts are used. Also, they tell you about things like water depth, so you don't run aground (like oil tankers) and they're much more compact so you you can keep all the world's waterways on a laptop, available wherever you are (mostly). If you don't have a chart, then you're really exploring.

So, where's the challenge, you say? Well, if somebody sinks their boat in a waterway, and the wreck isn't on your chart, then there's a good chance you'll run into it and share its fate. There's also logs, whales, and partially sunken (but floating just below the surface) shipping containers that have fallen off ships. It's estimated that there's tens of thousands of those out there. And there's weather.

Actually, the list of potential hazards runs so long, there's not room or time here to list them all, but that's also true of any human undertaking.

I had a good friend who was killed in his race car, on the race track. He died doing what he loved, so where's the sadness in that?

I suppose he could have sat in his rocking chair, safe and sound, until his doctor gave him the bad news. Many people do. It's not wrong, but to me, sad. 

For me, the real joy of this trip is sharing it with the 1st Mate (who has lots of ideas on how to have fun) and the two mongrels we brought along. Joy, unshared, loses its lustre.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Arriving in Baja

Painting with the camera.

For me, doing subtle compositions is easier with photography than a canvas. Faster, too.

It seems that I can express powerful images better with a paint brush, but fine grain monochromatic stuff is better left alone there. Maybe I don't have the patience for it, more likely though, is I want my paintings to say more not less, and to say it louder. It's very easy to overdo a painting. With the camera, you get what you get.

These photos were taken as we arrived on the Baja side after 48 hours at sea. We left Mazatlan on Wednesday morning and decided to sail north of La Paz to the islands there (Isla Partida and Isla Espiritu Santos) for their beautiful turquoise waters and quiet restful anchorages. Unfortunately, we were assailed by a local weather phenomenon called "corumels." Sudden high gusting winds, disturbing our sleep. I was worried that the anchor might might slip… but it held just fine. The morning dawned with a 22 to 25 knot southerly and one of our boat fenders had gone missing. Right now we're plowing through a steep choppy sea toward the La Paz boat channel, still another 17 miles away. Slow progress against this southerly.

The 1st Mate has lost her appetite and says she is comforting the dogs up in the V-berth. The dogs, however, say different.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cruiser's plans are written in sand...


And some will add, "at low tide" but that doesn't rhyme worth a damn, and if art isn't important, what is? We originally had planned to leave this morning, but when I checked the weather, something had popped up. Actually, two things (so far).
Hurricane Alex moved over northeastern Mexico and started pulling air from the Pacific Ocean. The spillover across the Baja peninsula was creating high winds and seas off the coast and up into the Sea of Cortez. Stuff that would overpower our autopilot and force me to hand steer for 36 hours through dangerous seas. Postpone the trip. Maybe to Tuesday.

Last night, the 1st Mate made chicken mole on rice and I washed the dishes... and I discovered that the light over the galley sink wasn't working. It was a leakage of electrons, I learned today, inside the wiring in the engine room, which adjoins the galley. Armed with a light, I entered the engine room and while there, found that the fuel line from the deck fill to the tank had a problem.

Evidently, the hose clamp had loosened, allowing diesel to seep around the fitting on the tank, attacking the exposed insides of the hose where it rested against the tank. The material of the hose had turned into a black, greasy, sticky substance that can only be removed by petroleum distillates or (lucky for me) automotive hand cleaner. Also lucky for me, the gunk hadn't entered the tank, which would have clogged up the diesel engine in a hurry. Loosening two other hose clamps enabled me to pull out the hose for the 1st Mate's camera.

We'll locate a replacement hose somewhere and look for the next show stopper. But since we can't do anything about the weather, we'll try to take it easy and enjoy the "time off."