Monday, November 14, 2011

LaPaz at Last!

As our intrepid Baja-bound First Mate, witty blogger, life-time friend and great humorist Steve Yoder, commented on my previous post, I failed to realize that I left many of you hanging by a thread and wondering what happened to "Chamisa"!

I am delighted to tell you the guys reached LaPaz on Saturday morning at 10 AM (MT) without any problems - a solid two hours ahead of their ETA. Keith took a slip next to Yoders (please treat yourself by reading

After the usual repairs/reprovisioning/spares task, he will anchor out to save money as that is free. I attribute my delay in posting this happy and long-awaited arrival news (four years past the original planned date!) to my new relaxed "state of mind" here in Florida. Mom and my Auntie Maxine indulge me with Happy Hours and Hillbilly Rummy several days a week so what can I say? My hope is to get clearance from the Ortho doc on 11/28 to join Keith.

In the meantime, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Final Leg to LaPaz

Thankfully the guys left SJdC this morning and are halfway to LaPaz already. Experiencing fair weather and gentle seas so far. Cuurent will be challenging as they sail between the coast and the islands NE of LaPaz. Looks like a safe arrival tomorrow.

Also thankfully PT seems to be helping my shoulder. Let's hope the surgeon agrees at my next appointment at end of this month!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tuesday night in San Jose del Cabo

Tonight the guys are tucked away in a slip in this safe harbor to avoid heavy winds forecast for the next few days. They dumped the bad fuel there earlier today,then headed out again only to find progress was impossible. So being the wise and cautious sailors we know them to be, they turned back a second time and are looking forward to a few nights of solid uninterrupted sleep.

More when they head out toward LaPaz again in a few days.

A Small Backtrack Required

I felt a small qualm when creating the last post - now I know why!  Shortly after that, I got an email saying the guys are backtracking from Los Frailes to San Juan del Cabo due to some dirty fuel taken on in Ensenada.

Also, winds as they rounded the Cape evidently damaged something about the mainsail cars/line/track, too - I didn't quite understand that issue from the emails as it appeared some words were missing.  Neither problem is major but not something they wanted to continue progress and worry over.  Best to return to closest port with proper services to resolve the issues.  So, approximately 35 miles backward - a disappointment, but then what passage is ever completed without a challenge or two?

We all hope Lulu's welcome dinner will only be a day later.  The guys are fine - just frustrated with the cloudy, water-holding fuel.  At 3 am their local time (I think they are on MT), they were nearing SJdC.  More when they arrive and can send an email or maybe even call one of us ever-patient wives!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Amost There!

The good news is that the guys are nearly at the end of their passage, expecting to arrive in LaPaz sometime tomorrow. No wind worth discussing until they rounded the tip of the Baja peninsula and luckily no big swells or bad weather either. A few ships in the distance, humpback whales and dolphins for entertainment and finally the reassuring lights of Cabo San Lucas last night as they sailed closer in to land in preparation for the final leg.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Underway Again

Keith and Steve send us SPOT msgs routinely which display their current lat/long position on a map, so we know they are making steady progress. We also know they are having a good time because we get emails via the HF radio onboard. Thank goodness for technology!

Steve is a talented and dedicated writer, so if you would enjoy more details, please visit his blog:

Monday, October 31, 2011

Docked in Ensenada

Keith called as they were approaching the dock, but I was on the phone with Steve's mom so we didn't really talk. He will call again with details of their first leg straight through from Long Beach to Ensenada in 25 hours! He sounded extremely happy and the relief I feel is amazing.

Almost to Ensenada

Steve's wife, his mom and I are all anxiousLy waiting to hear from our men!! Last Spot indicated they are closer to Ensenada timewise than they had estimated. So more just as soon as one of us hears anything.

I calm myself by playing cards with my Mom and Aunt Maxine here in SW Florida, reading and doing my shoulder exercises. I also think of all the women before us who often had no word at all from their men for weeks or even years when they were off somewhere on their boats. God bless technology which has given us satellites and the amazing gadget called SPOT so we can know their lat/long positions while they are out of phone range.

Passing San Diego

Chamisa continues her steady progress southbound with a SPOT msg around midnight (Pacific Time) passing San Diego. If you are on our distribution for those, the time stamps are in GMT or Greenwich Mean Time near London, so you subtract for your time zone accordingly. Confusing, I know!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Passing Oceanside

Chamisa is sailing along ~ 7-8 knots/hour (roughly = to mph!)and was off the Southern Ca coast just south of Oceanside @ 5:50 pm PT. No phone call or email yet since they left the dock this morning but I assume all is well and they have probably devoured the rest of Steve's amazing green chile casserole by now.

Underway again, at last!

Good news! Keith and our good friend Steve have left Long Beach on the trip downhill to LaPaz. More when I hear from them via our new SailMail account.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A change in THE plan...

Remember a few posts back when I explained about the wisdom of writing cruising plans in the sand? Well, I am in Florida at my Mom's to figure out what is wrong with my shoulder (again!), and how to get it fixed. Meanwhile, Keith and a good friend and proven Baja sailor, Steve, will soon be sailing our beloved "Chamisa" down south to LaPaz, Mexico. I will have more news to share as Keith shares their adventures. Check back early next week when we will have a plan for my shoulder and a progress report from Keith on departure preparations. In the meantime, you should know I was only in Florida a few hours when Keith went online to find a "stripper"! He swears it is a boat part and mumbled something about a gypsy and chain. What do you think?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Chamisa's Topsides

Some of you reading this are long-time boaters so you may want to skip this post, but for those of you who are land-lubbers (I prefer the term “land-lovers”, but whatever!), this post is for you.  We thought you would appreciate some pictures of the outside of Chamisa, along with some explanations of what you see.  This will help you follow future posts and next time, we'll have photos of the inside for you.

Yuck - kelp under bowsprit.
To start, here are three side views of Chamisa at anchor this summer (2011) at Catalina Island, just west of Cherry Cove.  The first photo includes the big rock formation called Lion's Head at the west edge of Cherry Cove - a major landmark and so-named because looking dead on with your back to the north, you can see a lion's face.  Really amazing!  Hikers appear atop Lion's Head frequently, while snorkelers/divers show up below along with swimmers and kayakers - certainly an entertaining spot along the coast.
Sails furled for the moment!
Name/hailing port barely visible.

This photo shows the round white radar dome mounted on the backstay above the stern.  The orange blob is the float on the MOB pole (Man Overboard) - tossed into the sea the minute anyone should fall in.  We'd also hit the GPS's MOB button in the cockpit immediately to mark the spot, but better yet, we work constantly to prevent an MOB!

At left is the view from the bowsprit – the forward platform at the front of our boat.  The bowsprit extends Chamisa’s length and provides a point of attachment for the foremost sail called the jib. Moving the jib forward means we have a larger sail and more “push” through the wind (i.e., power).  The jib is behind Keith as he took this photo, so it isn't visible but it looks the same as the sail you do see furled around itself in the foreground – the staysail.  The white pole leading from the foot of the staysail toward the stern is the stay boom, or track, that holds the bottom edge of the staysail when it is unfurled.

The mainsail is furled up in the large white tube, called the boom (hard to see here, I know), which leads aft from the mast (the tall pole in the center) to the stern (back of the boat). That's it - three sails for now - maybe someday a large lightweight nylon sail for light winds in the tropics, called a drifter.

 This photo shows the mast with its crossbars – or spreaders – which keep all the rigging (cables that support the mast) a safe distance away from the mast.  Notice there are two spreader lights used to light the decks at night, if needed, and yes – those are steps going up the mast.

The steps are used, along with a climbing harness, to go aloft and make repairs, replace burned out light bulbs and take care of routine maintenance tasks.  Keith, our daughter and son-in-law, and multiple professional riggers have been up/down those steps many times, but not me – and that is something I pray won’t ever be needed either - I'm not a great one for heights!

This is our view forward from the cockpit.  You are looking through the isinglass, or windows, and standing under the bimini, made of white canvas.  The bimini and the windows shelter us from the wind, rain and sun to minimize skin damage as well as provide comfort. Just below the center window (which unzips and rolls up for breezes in hot weather), that rumpled roll of blue canvas marks the companionway, or opening, to the interior. 

And, this is our view aft from the cockpit.  You can see the blocks and lines in the foreground used to control the boom as it moves from side to side when we are underway.  The white square on the left rail is called a lifesling and is used along with the horseshoe on the right rail to retrieve someone if they fall overboard - something we work to prevent through use of safety harnesses clipped to the boat, crew briefings and constant safety-on-deck reminders.

Finally, the cockpit - party room/sun porch/outside dining/reading room - the fun spot on our boat!  Also, where we steer, watch the compass and spend as many waking hours as possible. On the back rail, under blue canvas are the BBQ grill, the outboard motor for the dinghy (our taxi to shore), and four fenders we deploy along the hull to keep from rubbing docks and banging into other boats.

So, we hope this gives you a basic idea of what the outside of Chamisa looks like.  Please ask any questions using the "comments" feature...we would enjoy hearing from you.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Getting Started - 2009!

We developed an itch to sail after retirement while living in Seattle and volunteering at the Center for Wooden Boats on Lake Union in the late 90s.  While surrounded by "liveaboards" (something new to us), we quickly realized that one doesn't buy a boat at retirement and just sail away!  One must have the boat for a number of years and learn not only to sail it, but also how to maintain it, because "out there", one is definitely required to fix things that break - there are no boatyards or boat repair gurus in the middle of any ocean.

Fortunately, we had an amazing broker who patiently quizzed us on our sailing plans, and then helped us find our beloved
Westsail 42, which we named "Chamisa". She* was formerly named "Dido", for Dieter and Doris Pieper, the previous owners.  We felt that her name was too personal for us to use, and so we chose to honor our love of Albuquerque by giving her the name of a desert plant - chamisa (aka "rabbitbush"), and our love of Seattle by giving her that as the "hailing port".  Thus, if you run across an older, graceful Westsail somewhere out there on the earth's waters with "Chamisa" and "Seattle" emblazoned on both sides of her canoe stern, we should be aboard so please stop by and say hello!

Westsails were built in the 70s in Costa Mesa, just down the coast highway from where we lived in Long Beach, so after a few years heading north up the coast, "Chamisa" finally returned to her roots here in Southern California where she is most happy and so are we - warmer!!  She is a heavy displacement, full-keel boat - the type made to carry you anywhere on any ocean you choose (as long as the weather is warm!).  During our years living aboard in Long Beach, we learned how to sail, dock, anchor, live aboard, repair everything even when hidden behind the "walls" (aka "bulkheads"), dispense of the last of our worldly goods - no more storage unit, no more cars, no more suits or heels/hose - shall I go on?  No, you get the idea, I'm sure.

Finally, in the fall of 2008, we managed to retire on our respective birthdays in September and November at the ripe old ages of 61.  We didn't make the Baja that year because our son was married on New Year's Eve. But in June 2009, we did manage to cut our ties to land, and head south* to Catalina. 

We lazed away that summer practicing our anchoring technique, and managed to do a circumnavigation of the island, so I guess we were not complete lollygaggers.  In August, we fired up to attend some first aid classes for cruisers over in Newport Beach, and then started our long slog uphill to San Francisco to serve as a test of our skills and the additions Keith had made to the boat.

Arriving at the end of September, we joined the Aeolian Yacht Club on the southwest tip of Alameda (the island in the SF Bay which parallels Oakland) so we would be in walking distance of our daughter's house.  She was married in 2006 on the beach in Cancun, so I think we could say that the whole Baja/Mexico idea is all their fault, right? it turned out, we didn't make the Baja that winter, nor the next one either!  I had the worst year of my life, medically-speaking, with three shoulder surgeries in 2010.  It's not worth your time to read the how/why of it all - just suffice it to say everyone was extremely supportive, most of all my nurse/cook/laundry-man/driver/cheerleader/pill-giver and ever-dedicated spouse Keith.

At long last, on Memorial Weekend 2011, Keith sailed out under the Golden Gate with wonderful crew aboard so I wouldn't risk another shoulder injury.  He sailed in two legs - first to Monterey with our daughter and her husband, then on to Santa Barbara with a father/son team from the Aeolian Yacht Club. I relieved that second crew in Santa Barbara in mid-June, and together Keith and I at last made our way downhill to Long Beach for a reunion with our old marina-mates.  They generously loaned us cars so we could re-provision make some minor repairs (as always!) and do the usual medical appointments.  Then, happily we headed over here in late June to spend the summer once again at Catalina.

We are still here through "Cruisers' Weekend" in the middle of October.  Then we will do that provision/spares/repair/doctors thing again in Long Beach before making our way to San Diego.  Once there in November, we will meet up with friends who plan to buddy-boat with us down to La Paz.  Hmm...or will it be Mazatlan?  Who knows which will be warmer by then?  That's the best thing (and sometimes the worst thing) about cruising - we have read that cruisers should always "write our plans in the sand" because sometimes (most times, in fact), those plans seem to change.  The reasons include weather (the real boss), repairs needed, friends popping up unexpectedly (by land or by sea), or just plain changing our minds with a "let's go here" instead of "there".

Next time, I'll share more about our trip up/down the coast to/from San Francisco, and more about Catalina, along with some photos to show you what we've been seeing. We hope you enjoy reading about our dream almost as much as we do living it.  Please leave your comments or questions and I promise to reply in the next post (or when we have internet service!).

*You may not know that ships are always referred to as "feminine" - I have forgotten why!
*You also may not know that the ocean is actually south, not west, of Long Beach - check it out - weird!