Saturday, December 13, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Disaster Averted

Don's Log: We almost lost the mast at about 8am on Sunday morning the 7th of December. We were about a half mile offshore, motoring between 4-5 knots into a moderate north wind and high seas . We started early, pulling up the anchor at around 4am. We were making relatively good time, but headed straight into a North wind, so we did not have any sail up, a fact that saved us we came to see a few hours later. The sunrise was spectacular and Roger observed, "Red sky in the morning-sailors take warning, red sky at night-sailors delight". The weather seemed favorable at that particular moment so we thought nothing more of "take warning". Life was grand as this was Roger's 65th birthday and we both were appreciative that we were the luckiest two guys in the world, living a dream. I was at the helm, and It got to be around 8 am. I heard a strange sound and then looked up at the mast and saw a mass of cabling and heavy metal plates falling from the sky to come landing with a heavy and sickening thud onto the deck. The 54 foot aluminum mast, which before seemed so solid, was now the picture of fluidity. The lower shrouds (strong steel cables that attach at mid mast to the deck of the boat) , all four of them, had released. There was absolutely nothing good about this situation, except that the mast was seemingly defying the laws of physics and NOT crumpling over or worse. Roger took an instant to figure out what had happened and I gladly surrendered the wheel as I went below to get the inflatable life raft, our wallets and the ditch bag. We watched, white knuckled as the mast would do a hula dance every time we attempted to take the ship closer into the shore, putting her more parallel to the waves induced lateral movement and the mast looked to be goner each time we tried to get closer to shore. Up ahead there was a an anchorage listed on the chart called Punta Pulpito, which translates as the Point Pulpit. As Roger and i watched the mast do it;s thing and imagined and discussed everything that was racing through our minds in this highly adrenalized moment, I joked that if we made it this this anchorage intact the "Pulpit would be a Godsend!". Roger smiled slightly. I can't describe the sense of relief and gratitude experienced as we reached the calm waters of this point. Needless to say it was a very happy birthday present for Roger. He get to keep his boat and we got to make the repair and continue on this most amazing of adventure.

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Friday, December 5, 2008

The Best Part of the Trip so Far!

Roger on Isla San Jose, with the Jolly Roger in his palm, and the peninsula off in the distance.

Don's Log: We arrived in Puerto Escondido a few days ago and have been busy exploring the option of leaving the boat here for the long term. It took us about a week from La Paz to make it here and it's been the best part of the trip in many ways. The mountains on the Baja Peninsula are truly spectacular and awe inspiring. The islands are equally beautiful and are distanced in such a way that you can go for  4-8 hours and then drop anchor at another bit of paradise, ah the bliss of island hopping.  Often you do NOT see any other boats or signs of human activity for long periods but you can see the magnificent peninsula and the islands as you sail. It's as if you have all this vastness to yourself. At points you see another sailboat in the distance and if you pass each other close enough you give a big wave, acknowledging the fact that your both really happy to be here and grateful that such a paradise still exists. Everywhere there are sea birds; egrets, herons, pelicans, frigates and many more. Not only are the skies alive with life, but under the water the diversity of sea life is astounding. 

This place is not the best kept secret in the world as many boaters and others have been coming here in larger and larger numbers since the 60's. However, thanks to the fact that the Baja is part of Mexico and not the United States, it was not been developed to a large extent. This has changed dramatically in the last 10 years as places like Cabo San Lucas and the surrounding area have come to look like Miami Beach. Large scale development is also happening in La Paz but it still maintains much of it's charm. North up the road here from Escondido is a planned community called Loreto Bay. I believe the units are selling for around half a million. It's touted as an "Eco-Village", cars have to park outside of the area where the homes are, with only electric golf carts, bikes and pedestrians allowed. A brilliant idea that I fully support. Yet this is clearly a gated community in that only the very affluent can live here. 

Yes there is trouble in paradise. I'm reading a book right now by Paul Theroux called "Hotel Honolulu". Rain, a 23 year old beauty  has come on a short vacation to stay with her Uncle Buddy in Hawaii. Buddy can't put her up, so he asks Lionberg one of his wealthy and much older friends to do so. At Lionberg's estate a conversation ensues. "Buddy's from the rich side of the family," Rain says. "His side's got everything." Lionberg responds; "Lucky them." "They've got problems, too," Rains says. "Like I say, they've got everything." 

After the 1994 Peso Crisis  in Mexico things got really bad for the poorest and even the relatively small middle class was decimated. Since this time Mexico city has become very unsafe. The stratification of wealth is very pronounced and those with money have largely retreated to living in gated communities or with other measures to provide for their security. 

Enjoying the incredible beauty of the area from La Paz to Puerto Escondido in relative solitude has been a joy. Roger and I have been talking about our own affluence and ability to take two months to make this trip. We both agree that it comes down to pursuing your dreams. Only you know what your dreams are. Only you can make your dreams come true. This dream of cruising the world on a sailboat is now coming true for Roger and I'm mighty grateful to be part of it. IMHO, it seems the more people make their dreams come true, the less there will be people living in fear.

In Escondido we explored the possibility of leaving the boat here for the long term. Various factors, the most important being cost, are indicating that we are probably going to stick with the original plan and put the boat into storage at Guaymas. Our plan is to head up north, exploring some more islands and coastline for a few more days and then make the run over to Guaymas. In Guaymas we will get the boat sorted out and put her into storage. At least that's the plan for now. 

Captains Log
Don and I have had a marvelous time, and we both must return to the Bay Area, and continue with our normal life, friends ,family and EBNOM, not mention work and making money to continue the trip next year.
see you all soon.
Love from the deck of the Jolly Roger
the Captain.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Paradise on the Baja Peninsula

Roger and Don celebrating their triumphant arrival at Aqua Verde.
Note the sailboats off in the distance to the left of Roger's head.

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