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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Home Sweet Home!

We’re back in home waters! We just finished checking into the country and are currently enjoying the hospitality of San Diego Yacht Club. It’s been a long and tiring trip up the coast, so a visit to the hot tub and pool is in order :)

Off to San Diego

Leaving Ensenada (at the crack of dawn! gasp!) to make San Diego in time to clear customs before they close.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

In Ensenada!

We finally made it to Ensenada after 54 hours of motoring from Turtle Bay! I can’t believe I used to complain about how far away the San Juans are from Seattle :) The weather was pretty mild, but we had a mean 1.5 to 3 knot current against us the whole time. This is our last Mexican stop before San Diego. We’ll be checking out of Mexico tomorrow at the Port Captain’s in Ensenada. Almost home!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Friday, May 14, 2010

Off to Ensenada!

We’re leaving Turtle bay and hoping to reach Ensenada in the next 2 or 3 days, depending on if we stop in San Carlos or not.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Weather bound in Turtle Bay

We’re safely anchored in Turtle Bay waiting for a large system to blow itself out on the coast. This morning we woke up to 25kts winds in the anchorage. I can only imagine how hard it’s blowing outside! It looks like it won’t calm down enough until Friday, so we’re getting comfy in our spot.

Yesterday it was a big day in Turtle Bay – the inauguration of their brand new baseball stadium. We joined the local sport enthusiasts in cheering for the home team, the Pescadores who were playing against Asuncion. Most fun baseball game I’ve even been to! We had super yummy hot dogs (with Bacon!) and beer and mingled with some of our newfound friends. Petter even got compliments on his Spanish!

Weather bound in Turtle Bay

We’re safely anchored in Turtle Bay waiting for a large system to blow itself out on the coast. This morning we woke up to 25kts winds in the anchorage. I can only imagine how hard it’s blowing outside! It looks like it won’t calm down enough until Friday, so we’re getting comfy in our spot.

Yesterday it was a big day in Turtle Bay – the inauguration of their brand new baseball stadium. We joined the local sport enthusiasts in cheering for the home team, the Pescadores who were playing against Asuncion. Most fun baseball game I’ve even been to! We had super yummy hot dogs (with Bacon!) and beer and mingled with some of our newfound friends. Petter even got compliments on his Spanish!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sweet, sweet Internets

It’s still amazing to me that during this whole trip exploring some of the most remote coastal areas of Mexico, from the desert of Baja California to the lush jungles of the Gold Coast, we’ve had internet during the most time on the boat as long as we were within site of land. This technological luxury comes compliments of Telcel, the biggest cell phone service provider in Mexico and most of Central America. One of the first things we did in Ensenada, our first Mexican stop 70 miles south of the border, was to buy two Telcel GSM chips and a prepaid data plan and pop them into our phones and wireless data cards. Bella Marina and all its seven computers are now always connected through a 3G enabled hotspot to the rest of the world. The price is definitely affordable, about $50US for a monthly plan.
Dealing with the various hoops and lack of customer service or protection for services here is not for the faint of heart, but it’s definitely worth the fight in order to get that sweet, sweet internet in the most remote anchorages. First, you have to do your negotiations at the Telcel office in Spanish. Very few people not employed by the tourist industry speak enough English to help. Then, there was the cryptic “National Registry” message we got every time we tried to use the phone in the beginning. Turns out that the government requires every phone number to be registered in a national database, but since we didn’t have Mexican social security numbers, our phones got rejected the first couple of times. It took 3 calls to customer service, one on Spanish and two in English to finally get past that. Then rules change all the time here, and nobody has to tell you they did, so one day Telcel decided to change the data plan agreement and start charging by the kilobyte after we had reached the maximum limit of data, as opposed to just downgrading the service to Edge as they had done before: $50 later, empty account, lesson learned. At least we didn’t have a lot of extra money in the account.
So why would anyone need internet when cruising in Paradise, one could ask? For one, this is how we stay connected to family and friends. It’s actually a really good feeling to know that you’re reachable or that you can reach out in case of emergencies. This blog post is coming to you compliments of the mighty Telcel tower in Turtle Bay, Caja California Sur, population 2500 fishermen. Oh yeah. I just Bing’ed that. How about the stress of always being connected? Well, it turns out that with no jobs to stress about, all email and communication is welcome. There is no information overload anymore, and we have adopted a remote attitude towards most news that come to us compliments of the online newspapers and news agencies. Probably because we are so remote. And then, there’s the practicalities of voyaging on a sailboat. We can easily download weather reports, GRIB files (these nifty files that display pressure systems, winds, precipitation up to 7 days out), and communicate with other cruisers that “have been there before” via newsgroups and blogposts. Sometimes we can even find Web pages with relevant information about the places we want to visit, although we have found that to be true exclusively of touristy or resorty-type areas.
From all the places we have been, we’ve had internet in most anchorages. We get 3G or 3.5G in bigger cities and towns, and Edge or even GPRS in remote anchorages or on passages. Turtle Bay, Mag Bay, Los Cabos, Los Muertos anchorage, La Paz, just outside Espiritu Santos, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, and the whole length of the Gold Coast, including Tenacatita and Barra. The only places we got nada were the anchorages at Los Frailes and Calleta Partida on Espiritu Santos.
Cell phone tower in the remote fishing town of Turtle Bay, Baja California Sur. Whoever said the infrastructure in Mexico is not developed has not met Mr. Telcel Phone Service:IMG_1959

Friday, May 7, 2010

Turtle Bay – more than half way!

We’re currently anchored in Turtle Bay after two days of travel from Mag Bay/Santa Maria Cove. The weather window stayed opened a couple of more days, so we decided to sail on after a brief stop. 450 nautical miles done, 350 to go! We are now past latitude 27 degrees North, which is officially outside the hurricane zone with almost one month to spare until the season starts. This also means much cooler water. Cool green water with seals frolicking in kelp have replaced the warm bright blues of the southern latitudes.

Turtle Bay is a very protected bay where we can wait at anchor for the next round of light NW winds and get some well deserved rest. It looks like we’ll be here for at least 4 or 5 days. It’s also a popular fueling and rest stop for boats bound both southbound (lucky ones!) and northbound. The coast of Baja so far has been spectacular. Miles and miles of jugged desert mountains shooting skywards from the sea alternate with miles of wind and surf swept white sand beaches.

The rest of the trip will be split in 4 or 5 day segments all the way to Ensenada, where we will check out of the country and get the boat zarpe (Mexican exit papers) in preparation of entering San Diego.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Changes in Latitudes, Changes in… Socks?

Here we are in Santa Maria Bay, a nice small protected harbor just north of Magdalena Bay and two degrees North of Cabo and our attire just went from swimming suits to sweaters and socks. Last night was Fo-ggy and wet, although not visibly raining, with the main dripping water on our heads when we furled it. Cold water! I am not used to this anymore Toto! Our only consolation is that soon it will be summer in California, and hopefully the heat will return :) I already miss the tropical silky warm air of the nights on mainland Mexico…

Passing Magdalena Bay

We’re passing Magdalena Bay, a huge protected harbor about 160 nm NW of Cabo San Lucas. We’ve decided to press on to Santa Maria Bay just 20 miles North of here. It’s supposed to have better protection from the prevailing NW winds. Waiting for a good weather window paid off as we did very little, if none bashing on this first leg of the Baja Bash. We passed Cabo Falso early morning and we were out of its convergence zone by mid-morning for a comfortable ride up the coast of Baja.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Passing Cabo San Lucas

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Off to Magdalena Bay

The NW winds have died down today and we have a 3 day weather window to make some progress up the Baja coast. We’re off to Magdalena Bay this morning!

Sunrise over the marina at Los Cabos:

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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Back in Baja

We arrived on the Baja side of the Sea of Cortez yesterday after a bouncy ride from Mazatlan. We anchored in Los Frailes, our first Mexican anchorage after our trip down Baja in November. We had almost forgotten how beautiful and striking the desert is set against the blues and teals of the anchorages up here. While the mainland anchorages are majestic with the tall, lush Sierras covered in jungle always in the background, the Baja ones have a special lunar beauty about them. The light has a special quality here. The water was warm once again since summer is quickly approaching. We swam and dove on the boat and enjoyed the pristine clear blue waters.

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Today we moved to Puerto Los Cabos, one of the new marinas in San Jose del Cabo. This was we’ll be closer to Cabo Falso, the first major  headland we have to round. We’ve been watching the weather really carefully and it looks like we’ll have favorable conditions in a couple of days.

Sunset over Puerto Los Cabos:

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Saturday, May 1, 2010

SMS from 881632511323@msg.iridium.com

We're back in Los Frailes on the Baja side anchored safely. Los Cabos tommorow.