"Egret" N4674 - Scott and Mary Flanders
Ed. note: On February 10, 2011, Scott and Mary Flanders, on board their Nordhavn 46, Egret, arrived in the Canary Islands. In doing so, Egret became the eighth Nordhavn to circumnavigate the globe. It had been four years, five months since the couple departed Gran Canaria, intent on seeing as much of the earth as possible, although not necessarily with an end goal to circle the globe. Voyage of Egret do cuments the Flanders’ entire trip, an endless adventure that has put them in touch with the most fabulous places and interesting people. Much route planning and forecasting was required in order to get to some of their ports of call. But the days of detailed planning are over…for now.“Egret” is now back in Fort Lauderdale, the place the couple called home for so many years, and, ironically, the starting point of their world wide cruising escapade that began with the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally in 2004. They currently travel hither and yon, sometimes by boat, sometimes not. Here, the latest update from the Flanders as they keep us continually apprised.
December 31, 2013
HAPPY NEW YEAR!! May 2014 bring you a few more miles, a few more adventures, and for those of you still working (gasp!!), a few more pesos.
Position: On anchor in Bubba, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia
Hello mis amigos, let’s talk* about our hosts, Bill and Arline, formerly from N62 Autumn Wind and now N46 Andare. *They don’t read this drivel so we can talk about them. B&A have been boaters forever. They started like many folks with a small sailboat, then graduated to larger sailboats and even raced in San Francisco Bay for a while. Then they had a series of powerboats and between the last two they completed a circumnavigation plus a zillion coastal miles. A circumnavigation today is a Big Deal, but during earlier times it was a bigger deal because the boats weren’t as good and the electronics were pretty elementary compared to today. In fact, even during Egret’s early years, electronics have come a long way. Electronic charting is much, much better, radars have ARPA and AIS makes a big safety difference as well. One very large safety item is accurate weather forecasting available today via the Iridium phone while at sea which includes professional weather forecasting, or internet while coastal weenie cruising. I promise we wouldn’t have done what we have done if we had to rely on a sextant, paper charts and a barometer for position and weather. I’m sure some oldie purists may differ but I guarantee you if Magellan or Cook had a choice they would use GPS without thought as well as Iridium based weather.
We were with B&A on a tourist trip to Morocco from Gibraltar after the NAR when they bought carpets from a large dealer. They were beautiful then and they still are. The carpets are in the dining room just a short distance where I’m sitting. Braun and Tina from N62 Grey Pearl and now N64 Ocean Pearl bought carpets at the same time.
Over a wall over a kitchen counter, B&A have masks collected from around the world during their circumnavigation. I suppose you could fly here and there and collect items but it isn’t the same. It’s a big deal to arrive at a destination after time at sea that’s everything you read about for years plus you get to see it first hand. It’s also hard to describe, but when you arrive on your own bottom there is quite a feeling of accomplishment that the fly-in folks don’t get. They just used plastic like any fly-in weenie; you Earned It. BIG difference.
So these days B&A spend time in their home among the vineyards of Dry Valley, California, and summers in Anacortes, Washington and aboard N46 Andare.
Mary and I have been taking day trips in Rubi exploring back roads to see what we can see. The relatively new crop of automobile electronics makes it so much easier than before. Today we go where we will then tell ‘Maggie’ (the Magellan GPS) to take us home and she does. So today we wandered around the different mountain valleys and ended up in Napa Valley. Of course the local agriculture is 99% devoted to vineyards. At a local restaurant we got the goods on wine production. Here’s the deal.
A single acre of Sonoma County grapes produces 5 tons of grapes or 10,000 lbs, producing 13.5 barrels of wine or 797 gallons of wine or 3985 bottles of wine or 15,940 glasses of wine. One barrel of wine contains 740 lbs of grapes, 24.6 cases of wine or 1,180 glasses of wine. One bottle contains 2.4 lbs of grapes, 4/5th quart of wine or 4 glasses of wine.
So now you know.
As you know, we believe there is good wine and good enough wine. I won’t go into that again but essentially you can drink good enough wine and save the difference toward Your Time and get there sooner if you are financially challenged like someone we know. Of course by including cumulative experiences in Egret’s water world we are virtual billionaires even though in U.S.Pesos we fall a bit short. So the choice is yours.
Today was another day out and about exploring northern California. This time we ended up heading north then west to near the coast. Tomorrow (Thur) we’ll take the Bubba Camper and Rubi and head to the coast for a saltwater fix and see what is whipping along the coast. Hopefully everyone will be busy with the holidays and won’t be on the road. So we’ll see.
More to follow.
Let’s go back to Mexico. I can’t leave it alone, so let’s talk about it a bit more. Mazatlan is the usual first stop after crossing the Sea of Cortez from La Paz or Cabo on the way south along the Mexican west coast. So we traveled with Sea Fox from Mazatlan to Puerto Vallarta. The distance is less than 150nm. There are a number of stops in addition to what Sea Fox took if they weren’t delivering Mary and I to an airport in 9 days. You could spend weeks doing the same trip and enjoy every day.
I wrote about Isla Isabela in matter of fact reporting, but as a cruiser its hard to describe just how special Isla Isabela really is if you are tuned to nature. You must realize that this small rock 35nm from the coast is one of very few islands around the Pacific that contains this rare group of nesting birds. Frigate Birds or Man O’ War birds have been scarce in our travels. Mature War Birds spend a year at sea then return to their birthplace to meet up with their mate. When fishing in the Florida Keys, spotting a War Bird was a big deal and we saw them only occasionally. And here on Isla Isabela we witnessed males performing a mating dance ritual that only a relative few folks have witnesses………ever. That’s what makes this particular photo so different. All boaters have seen birds following fishing boats returning to harbor. Usually they are sea gulls or in places on the U.S. East Coast, an occasional brown pelican like in this photo. However, the far majority of birds in this photograph of a fishing boat returning to Isla Isabela are frigate birds. Pretty cool and an extremely rare site anywhere but here.
Because we lived in the Northern Hemisphere and did occasionally get to see War Birds, can you imagine how special it was to see our first Albatrosses in the Southern Hemisphere? The first albatrosses were black browed albatrosses. There were lots of those along the Argentine coast and the lower Chilean coast. Then mid way up the Chilean Channels we got to see the Very Special Wandering Albatross. Do you have any idea how special that was to us? What that meant? What it took to get there and see them? One of my favorite photographs Ever was one of a pair of the last Wandering Albatrosses we saw until New Zealand. This pair on Tasmania’s west coast was working Egret’s wake then would soar out of sight and after a while would re-appear. This went on for most of the late afternoon and into sunset. We framed the birds against the setting sun. Wow, was that cool or what?
So, what we’re saying in a round about way, Mexico is pretty special if you take the time to take Your Time and see it properly. South of Puerto Vallarta is the Mexican Riviera. We didn’t get to see it but looking at the cruising guide there are tons of anchorages every few miles along the coast. Many are in secluded coves where you can hang out and veg to your heart’s content. Anyhow, its something you need to do.
Here are a couple more snaps from the trip. The first is a great blue heron that is usually very difficult to photograph because they are super skittish. The second is a jaguar that was caged at a crocodile farm. Mary got this shot as it stared straight into the giant camera lens. Anyhow, this is something you need to do. Or did I say that before? You get the picture.
OK, so back to California, we left Bill and Arline for a few days* and now we’re in the World’s Worst campground. Why, you ask? First of all, it’s the price of a motel room. Second it has PAY hot water for showers. Can you imagine PAYING $2 U.S.P. for 6 minutes of hot water when you already bled big time for a night’s stay? And of course, we didn’t have 16 quarters and the office was closed. And the campground has super slow, dead dog slow wifi and the limit is 30 minutes. So its no wonder it lost it’s KOA status. Of course camping is sorta like cruising except cruising has more intrepid people. If we don’t like a place, we’ll just move (up anchor) as we will tomorrow morning.
*Bill and Arline invited us back for Christmas so we’ll return before to help them get ready for their family’s’ (18) visit.
However, there’s good news. After setting up the Bubba Camper we took Rubi on an off-road 4WD drive trail into the coastal hills above the coast. The highlight came near the end of an open trail thru the redwoods when we stumbled upon a giant boy elk and his sweetie just hanging out. After shooting a telephoto from Rubi, I got out to get closer and fill the frame with major elk. Then of course, MS had to tell me “it’s rutting season”……..blah – blah - while I was trying to be cool and move in slowly for The Shot*. So that wasn’t particularly timely with her blabbing out LOUD, but the best shot came later as we drove slowly past and She Got The Shot which was perhaps her ^%$##%** angle all along. After all, the boy elk was on her side.So anyhow, we got the shot and that’s all that matters and besides when we got back she fixed me a rum y coke (that’sSpanish for a rum and coke) and cheese and triscuits so it’s OK. Later we got a few obligatory sunset, west coast Pacific Ocean shots, with and without seagulls. And now we’re back in the Bubba Camper with the heat on and all is well. So life is good and if you haven’t noticed, we’re Living Life Large as we can even though we’re not aboard in the frozen wastelands of Iceland. So anyhow, I hope when its Your time you Live Large and don’t succumb to the 99.99% boring usual of most dirties. You get the picture.
While I’m waiting on dinner let’s talk a minute about photography and boats. They’re sorta related. Mary and I have spent a ton to get where we are in photography equipment. It was a many–year process of learning and better equipment thru technology. So at the present time we have invested in professional photography equipment* that we should have done years ago, but we didn’t know. We found boats are actually simpler. In our case back in 2001, we bought what would do it all, just in case we decided to be more than coastal weenie cruisers. Boat technology isn’t like high tech photography technology. Long-term manufactures have fine-tuned their boats over the years to the point where the only significant upgrades come thru technology and new models, not bottom design. After all, efficient full displacement designs have been around since the 1800’s. Except they were sail design which was about the same then as it is now, that is, until sail folks figured out that if they flattened out the bottoms and lighten the build, they would sail faster. In our trawler water-world, semi displacement or flat bottoms mean pound city at sea and weight is your friend. So in both cases, we now have pro equipment, not recreational compromise equipment.
*Incidentally, professional lenses (fast or heavy glass) are more important than the latest camera body. Lenses last forever and camera bodies change quickly. However today camera technological advances are minimal in areas that matter so if given a choice where to spend your money, spend it on good glass first.
OK, so dinner’s ready so we’re outta here for now.
The past two days were spent on The Avenue of Giants (Redwoods). Wow is all we can say. There is a 30 something mile stretch of road winding thru redwood forests. Because it is so close to the holidays there is very little traffic. So we just putz along and stop here and there to snap a few.
Redwoods are the tallest trees in the world. However, they aren’t the largest. If you remember last year, we had a photograph of General Sherman, the world’s largest tree (by weight and volume) but not the tallest. Anyhow, redwoods are huge, particularly when you get up close. They are also difficult to photograph to give a sense of size. This root base of a moderate size redwood lying on the ground gives you a sense of size. Here’s MS standing inside, all 5’ 3” of her. So later in the day today we tried someartsy shots in very low light to try and capture the beauty of the redwoods. Here’s a different shot to give you an idea of what the redwood forests are all about.
We leave in the morning to return to Bill and Arline’s for Christmas. When we arrive we’ll retrieve the &^$#@#* card reader we left behind so perhaps this VofE will get posted before Christmas.
So anyhow, Happy Holidays from Mary and I. May 2014 be Your Year.
OK, so we didn’t make it sending VofE in time for Christmas and besides, I was lazy. So we spent Christmas Day at Bill and Arline’s with their family. There were 18 plus we wayward boat folks. Of course we ate too much and then we had a ‘sampler plate’ of deserts that put us over the top so we were officially over served.
Mary and I left B&A’s the day after Christmas for Anacortes (Washington) top catch the ferry to Vancouver Island and a second ferry to Salt Spring Island (just off the coast of Vancouver Island) to spend New Years with Roger, Joan and Paige from former N55 New Paige II. We first met RJ&P in Tahiti and here and there along they way including back in the Balearic Islands (Spain) and recently in Reykjavik, Iceland when they flew in for a visit on the way home from dropping Paige off in Germany for a semester of school.
At this point we made it to Anacortes (Wa) to catch the ferry. Of course it was nightmare city driving thru the Tacoma-Seattle area in one of the busiest times of year. But we did the deal and now we are in a &^$@#@%* campground with NO shore power because all they have is a crow’s foot electrical plug for larger units. The campground itself is a high end deal among the redwoods but its like a maize and I’m tired of driving for over 12 hours in that mess and I’m NOT going to try and find my way back to the office with the Very Important guy at the desk to try and borrow an adapter. So we’re on propane heat and actually its no big deal because it’s just like being independent on anchor. We have to rely on ourselves instead of the BFYC (big fat yellow cord). And that’s why we have on-board heat, solar, dual batteries, LED lights, efficient refrigeration and so on. Sorta like Egret.
It would be like arriving late at an upscale marina just at closing and your shore power cord doesn’t match the dock receptacle. So you pay Big Time to essentially drop anchor tied to a dock.
Anyhow, we’ll get up super early and hit the bricks to arrive at the ferry terminal early. Hopefully we’ll be one of the first off when we dock and we can catch the earliest ferry to Salt Spring Island.
More to follow.
OK, so we caught the ferry to Vancouver Island, cleared Customs and then caught a second ferry Salt Spring Island. The first ferry stopped at Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands. There was a N47 on anchor, another N55 at the main marina dock and a N62 at a private dock. So that was cool. When we got ashore on SSI, I was putzing with the GPS (Magellan) and Mary said “we don’t need Maggie (GPS), it’s a small island and it will be easy to find their house.” Yea, right. SSI is a big island with a maize of narrow streets, some paved – some not, and about a zillion houses stuck in the woods. In any case, Maggie did the deal, and we found the house in the woods and all was well. It’s been a social whirl since. Here is one British Columbia resident we met early on. We’ll have more on the British Columbia adventure in the next VofE.
Egret is for sale. http://youtu.be/AAR5wK-sWRs
December 18, 2013
Position: On Anchor: Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, California
Hola mis amigos, so let’s go back to Isla Isabela and talk about the small island with the most prolific bird life of anywhere in our travels (we can’t say in Egret’s travels because we aren’t aboard Egret). Isla Isabela is a Mexican national park and wildlife sanctuary that has been studied for years by students from the Guadalajara UNAM Institute of Ecology.
N55 Sea Fox (Dennis and Julie Fox) arrived in the dark but there was a reasonable amount of light from the moon and the U shaped anchorage was in silhouette, except for the rocks of course. So after a couple false starts we fired down the giant anchor on top of a pile of rocks in 40’ and dumped 300’ of chain. We did not back the anchor in. There was a trade wind type sea breeze to keep the boat’s head to the anchor and there was little chance of dragging the anchor and all that chain thru volcanic rocks. The problem would be anchor retrieval. As a precaution we attached a safety line to the crown of the anchor and attached it to a small fender that floated over the anchor.
We went ashore the next morning and landed the dinghy on a small sand beach below a row of fisherman’s shacks with a couple pangas anchored in front and a stern line to shore. There were frigate birds* everywhere flying over the island and covered most of the low trees. It was mating season and the males were continually puffing out their red neck sacks to impress the ladies. Mary and I wandered thru the trees and were lucky enough to see two males performing an impressive mating ritual where they spread their wings, and danced – for the lack of a better description – throwing their head every which way with their neck pouch filled to bursting with air. We wandered from tree to tree checking out the birds. One thing that was interesting was the dynamics of the group of birds in the trees. Both the male and female tend the nest. When a parent arrives back at the nest there is major excitement as the two birds nuzzle beaks like they hadn’t seen each other for weeks. If a non-parent tries to land, all the sharp beaks turn skyward. If the non-parent manages to land, then it also turns it beak up to ward off other birds. So I suppose, once they are in, they are in.
Frigate birds have a wingspan of 7.5’ but only weigh 3 lbs. Once the eggs are hatched, within 4 ½ months they must be able to beat feet, or wings if you will, to escape hurricane season. They stay under their parent’s protection for 2 years when they return to the same island to find a mate. According to the cruising guide, frigate birds only nest in a few scattered areas around the South Pacific. We saw frigate birds nesting in Suwarrow Atoll in the South Pacific but it was nothing like this. It was perhaps 5% of the total birds on Isla Isabela. We’re fortunate to have seen two nesting sites.
Back in my fishing days in the Florida Keys, when we spotted a frigate bird circling – we called them Man O War Birds or War Birds or Blackbirds – we headed for it. War Birds are the best fishermen in the ocean and when one is circling high overhead you can bet they are over predator fish and waiting for the fish to push the bait to the surface. Of course predator fish were our prize.
There were also colonies of blue footed boobies higher up the hill and were laying their eggs on the ground. There are no predators. Around the shore were brown pelicans but we didn’t see any nesting in the trees or mangroves. Along the shore as well as inland were green and brown iguanas. All of the birds except for the pelicans were quite tame and you could approach them slowly within a few feet.
We left Isla Isabela at mid-day in order to make the run to San Blas (Mexico – not Panama) and arrive in daylight. Along the way we picked up a hitchhiker trying to balance on the stainless bow rail. The young tern had a hard time of it and was slippin n’ slidin off the rail. Then it would leave for a bit then return for another go. We anchored the first night in a bay south of town and moved in the morning into the marina.
The next day we took a taxi to Rio Tovara where a dozen or so pangas were lined up to take touristas up a narrow, twisting ride under a mangrove canopy into the ‘jungle’ so see the wildlife. It was an interesting trip and we saw quite a few birds we are familiar with like this anhinga, plus a number we have never seen before. The most interesting was a boat bill heron that is usually gone this time of year but we did get to see one. There were salt water crocodiles here and there as well. We’ve never seen so many crocs in the wild but none were super large. Along with the crocs were groups of turtles sunning themselves on logs. Dennis asked the tour operator to have a guide that spoke English so we got Pedro who did a great job. Pedro used to be a commercial fisherman, near shore fishing out of a panga but now runs his panga for tourists. He explained the birdlife in detail and it was interesting. We bought Pedro lunch and heard about his personal life (married – 5 kids – one just signed with a professional Mexican baseball team, etc). So it was a good day and Mary and I were happy blazing away with the cameras.
The weather is hot, but not crazy hot, during the day and cool at night. There has been a sea breeze every day. If there is enough breeze like tonight, the no see-um’s aren’t out. However, last night it was still as we got chowed on big time while we were up in the flybridge watching the sun go down and the fishing pangas heading home. Of course we had a touch of ron (rum) to celebrate the sunset.
Speaking of sunsets, we took a 2015 N Calendar cover photo of Sea Fox last night but you’ll have to wait until next year to see if it is chosen for the calendar. It’s pretty special and not only includes Sea Fox but a couple lovebirds as well.
OK, so we left at 0 Dark 30 for Puerto Vallerta. There was almost no wind and a slight swell from the stbd quarter. It was as good as it gets at sea. Sea Fox had a little motion that made it just right and not flat calm. So we put out a couple worms to see what snapped and before long the stbd rod went ballistic and it wasn’t a girl fish. In fact, it was a marlin that was headed to the Galapagos at a high rate of speed. So Dennis did double duty running the boat from the cockpit station and tending the rod. After a while when Dennis was puffing a bit, I felt my duty to tell him that he had a girl reel, not a two speed boy reel. I’m not sure he appreciated that but I enjoyed it at the time. In time the fish came to the transom and as fortune would have it, while I was trying to coax its head up to remove the hook, the line broke just above the hook and we got the lure back and Mr Marlin swam away probably tying to figure out what just &%$@@^# happened. Julie got video on her I Phone and Mary got a few snaps but it was tense for a bit and the angle wasn’t good but this is as good as she got. It was a black marlin, most likely around 200lbs and I’m sure it was Dennis’s first. It was the first black marlin I had seen in the wild so that was cool.
So after that excitement we were chugging toward PV, Mary was on watch and whales began jumping in the distance. Dennis took over and Mary and I ran outside to try and get a shot. Well, the first two whales cooperated and Mary got the shot. It was pretty incredible. So we were thrilled. Then a small group appeared close by and did Mary get even better shots or what? She nailed them on motor drive and we’ll just show one image but there is a series of 9 images as the whale came twisting out of the water until it fell backwards to the surface in a giant explosion of water. Is she awesome or what?
OK, so we got to PV, Dennis backed Sea Fox in easily using the stern station, bumping in and out of gear and using the thrusters. Actually, we were just north of PV in a new marina. There are still quite a few local fishing pangas that fish near-shore and offshore for bottom fish like snapper and offshore for dolphin (dorado or mahi-mahi depending on location). In Mexico most folks call them dorado – golden in Spanish. So we took a taxi ride into PV for lunch and a shopping tour. So that was fun. Just north of PV is a Wallymart, Costco, Sams Club, Mega (giant supermarket deal like Wallymart or Target), ACE Hardware and a Home Depot. So much for small local tiendas.
One good thing about the marina is having a couple good restaurants within a short walk and better yet, a great fishermans’ fish market with dorado, a flounder type fish, snapper, mackerel, shrimp and lobster. So we feasted on fresh fish one night, more fresh fish and shrimp another and managed to choke down 5 lobster tails for lunch the day we left. Oh, the cruising life is sooo difficult with all these choices.
Speaking of the cruising life, there were a number of N’s around, a few different manufactures’ powerboats as well as tons of sailboats. Its no wonder Mexico is so popular with the west coast boaters. The ride south is all downhill with stops along the way. Prices for most everything in Mexico is super cheap including fuel. The exception is for foreign imports. Dockage is very reasonable, almost free compared to many East Coast marinas, and the marinas we saw had modern floating docks with first class service. Its no wonder a number of boats hit Mexico with bigger plans but stay for years.
So after 9 days enjoying Dennis and Julie’s hospitality we got on a jet plane and flew back to San Francisco, took a shuttle north and picked up Rubi at Santa Rosa airport that Bill had dropped off that day. It was a great trip.
So now we’re back in wine country enjoying warm weather compared to our time away. As luck would have it, it got record super cold while we were south.
I imagine that’s all the boating we’ll do for a while but we never know. We got pictures of Egret with a coat of snow from Maik back in Isafjordur (Iceland). There have been a few days of weather below freezing but Maik has been checking the boat every couple days and even stayed aboard during the coldest night to make sure all was well. The two heaters* have not missed a beat since we left. So that is good.
*We have a small oil heater in front of the engine room across from the watermaker. The second heater is a fan heater in the guest (forward) stateroom blowing into the master. The heat percolates up into the rest of the boat. A minor form of heat is from the isolation transformer. We propped the seat up in the pilothouse to allow more heat to escape than from the vent.
We’ll fire this VofE into space as you and we get ready for the holidays. We believe the greatest gift you can give each other is the freedom to join The Life in 2014. Of course this is a gift that keeps on giving.
Egret is for sale: http://youtu.be/AAR5wK-sWRs
December 11, 2013
Position: 21 32.61N 105 17.6W San Blas, Mexico
Hello mis amigos, a lot has been happening so let’s talk about it. After we picked up Bubba we headed southwest for southern California and specifically, to Dana Point, California, home of PAE or what we know as the Nordhavn Folks. We have never been to Dana Point, ground zero for world cruising powerboats and it was pretty cool. So we yupped it up for a bit with the gang and talked about boats of course, picked up a few goodies from the Nordhavn Store, and Mary even got a new RED Nordhavn hat so when she is my model for photography, you’ll get to see it. And then there were the way cool jackets, and so on.
After the visit we got to set up the Bubba Truck and camper and Rubi under the roof at the office entranceway. They even brought in a crane to lift the roof so we could raise our pop top and drive under. Well, OK, perhaps we centered the Bubba Camper under the roof and we popped the top. Then they even imported an Egret to make us feel at home. Well, OK again, perhaps the Egret was there to dine on PAE’s goldfish.
While at PAE we picked up a couple Nordhavn calendars. Were they cool or what? Of course we’re prejudiced; Egret is the January cover model. So let’s talk about that photo. We came across this incredible iceberg off the coast of Labrador; a once in a lifetime chance. We launched the dinghy in the calm, and Mary and Dickiedoo ran the boat. It was overcast but every now and again the sun would peek thru for just a moment. So I was in the dinghy and Mary and Dick ran back and forth for half an hour waiting for the sun to illuminate the ice towers. In time it did and I called on the hand held VHF to hurry up, they did, and we got the shot. The photograph is just as it came out of the camera except for a tiny bit of cropping to make the ice and Egret appear larger. The low ice shelf actually extended a bit to the right of the photo. (Nikon D600, 70-200mm f2.8 lens, F8, 1/800 sec, ISO 100....in case you are interested.). The two ice towers were part of a single berg. The breaking wave between the towers broke on the ice shelf. The right tower is easily over 300’ high which means the ice keel is over 2,700 feet deep!!! Is that wild or what?
So the boats we know personally are: March – N46 Starlet off the Amalfi coast of Italy; we met Starlet in Newport Harbor, Rhode Island in 2012. April is N52, Dirona we have had several e-mail contacts over the past couple years but not met in person and N55 Salty Dawg off Istanbul, Turkey we met at Milt and Judy’s (N47 Bluewater) old digs, Bluewater Books and Charts in 2012. June model was N62 Autumn Wind who we spent 3 weeks aboard helping former owners Bill and Arline bring to Ft Lauderdale from Virginia before the NAR. July’s model is N64 Ocean Pearl approaching Crookhaven, Ireland with Braun and Tina aboard. We met Braun and Tina the first year cruising in the Bahamas and later were on the NAR together to the Med and have been friends since seeing each other a number of times over the years. August is N120 Aurora, who we haven’t seen in person but we met the owners at the Ft Lauderdale Boat Show in 2011. Anyhow, you should contact PAE to get your calendar so you can see what we’re talking about and dream about getting your precious or precious to be in the coming calendars.
So the next day we went 4 wheeling with PAE friends up to Joshua Tree National Park via an unpaved trail that in the 30’s was a road to support digging an 18’ diameter tunnel thru the mountains to supply water to the Los Angeles Basin. We bounced along* and ultimately made it to a paved road and back we went. There were a few birdcritters along the way that Mary caught as they were lifting off. The first was a giant hawk of some kind and the second was a crow or raven deal.
Not knowing where you are going is sorta like cruising. When cruising in different areas you don’t really know what to expect. You have an idea, but that’s about it. You never really know what is around the next corner. That’s what so great about cruising. It’s not the boring, predictable usual. It keeps you sharp and the brain cells busy. Even after a jillion times of unknown, it’s still pretty cool. However, even the unknown become predictable if you will. I will tell you now, if you can’t accept a bit of change, you will never be a cruiser. But I think deep inside in everyone’s heart, they think better of themselves and I promise you can do it too.
*Bounced along. Actually the lead car chattered and bounced, and we moved around a little in Rubi. As you can see from the photograph, the lead car is a highly modified Suzuki Samurai. The modifications were as well done as can be done but in the end it is still a very lightweight car with a basic suspension. This is not to belittle the Suzuki and make a case for a purpose built car but it is sorta like boats. You can put wings on a pig but you can’t make it fly. A boat designed to be at sea for extended periods safely and comfortably isn’t the same as a girl boat with fuel bladders and whatever trying to do wasn’t it wasn’t designed to do. A coastal cruiser or even a super nice and well-built coastal cruiser is just that. A great example was a 55’ XX, a well built and admired coastal cruiser that crossed the Atlantic with 3 hired captains plus the owner and a cockpit full of fuel drums we met in Menorca, the northernmost Balearic Island (off the Mediterranean coast of Spain). He was terrified at times on the trip and thought he was going to DIE. So he got to Menorca and he immediately leased a yearly berth at crazy hyper pricing in the years since and hasn’t left the dock except to cruise locally within a few miles in slick calm weather. It isn’t the boat’s fault; it is the owner’s fault trying to do what the boat wasn’t really designed for. The worse examples are the pretender boats with wild claims that try the same thing. It is extremely rare they don’t make it even though comes at a steep price. Still, I think it is silly to take a chance.
Before we go on to today’s adventure, let’s digress to the PAE folks for just a minute. You would think that any business that does tens of millions of U.S.Pesos a year would have principals that sit in an important office, be dressed as a business person in a penguin suit and so on. This isn’t the case. The president came out of his office the other day (casual Friday) in a plaid bubba shirt and jeans. Another principal was dressed similarly but at least had on boat shoes. These guys are just plain folks who worked hard over the years from very humble beginning as workers on the dock to today. It is so refreshing to do as we did when we ordered Egret, business on little more than a handshake and a deposit. It is a pleasure for Mary and I to call them friends.
So we left southern California and headed kinda north toward my cousin’s house in Reno, Nevada for Thanksgiving. It’s Monday and we’re stopped in a deserted campground along a river. It is a state of California campground but we’re the only ones here. So it’s sorta like being on anchor out in the wilds somewhere. Mary kept anchor watch until dark looking for critters to show up but none did. Tomorrow we’ll pop into Yosemite National Park for a day then off to Reno for T Day.
More to follow.
Yosemite was closed so we kept heading toward Reno. We spent Thanksgiving and a few more days at my cousin’s home then headed to California just north of San Francisco to visit Bill and Arline, formerly from N62 Autumn Wind, and now from N46 Andare. So we got to B&A’s, yupped it up for hours and eventually checked e-mail and guess what? Dennis and Julie from N55 Sea Fox (D&J are NAR alumnus) invited us to join them from Mazatlan, Mexico to Puerto Vallarta, Mx on a 9 day trip stopping here and there.
OK, so we went.
A couple days later we left Bubba and the Jeep at B&A’s and got on a jet plane to Mazatlan. The taxi dropped us off at the marina and it was pretty easy to spot Sea Fox, sorta spot Sea Fox, because there were 3 N55’s lined up in a row. Mona Kai, Insignia and Sea Fox. And so it began.
We got to meet Neil and Elaine on Insignia at dinner aboard SF and listen to their dreams. D&J have tons of miles but they have never been in this area so they are taking this cruise easy, sorta like an exploratory expedition to see the lay of the land here in Mexico. Ultimately they will leave SF somewhere in Mexico and return home to the Pacific North West for the summer. From Mazatlan south for a bit are many world cruisers’ favorite areas.
During a tour yesterday of old town we visited a local market and Mary snapped this photo of Christmas pinata’s hung overhead. Pinata’s are colorful designs that get filled with small presents and broken open with a blindfolded family member with a stick. We’ve never whacked a piñata ourselves, but we have seen it on TV and it looks like a lot of fun. The meat market in the covered markat’ was a bit different. You could buy anything from pigs feet or a pig’s head to a cow’s jaw complete with teeth. Also in town we saw quite a number of Americans and Canadians who call Mazatlan their winter home.
Let’s talk about the cruising community for just a bit. Using this trip as an example; other than visiting family we stopped at Bill and Ellen’s in New Orleans (NAR alumnus), Bill and Arline’s in California (NAR alumnus), and today we are with Dennis and Julie (NAR alumnus). Later on this winter trip we are meeting with Don and Sharry we first met in the Mediterranean, Roger and Joan we first met in Tahiti, and later in the spring we will meet with Steve and Linda who are fellow long distance cruisers with a common interest in photography. In every case, these couples had as diverse vocations as they can be but because of the common bond of boats and boating, we feel welcome in every household or boat. So that’s pretty cool. You get the picture.
Sea Fox left this morning at daybreak for the 90nm run to Isla Isabela. We began the trip with around 15-18 knots from astern and now it has diminished to around 10 knots or so. SF is riding downsea comfortably with just a bit of gentle up and down motion. We put out a couple worms to see if any fishes will snap. Wouldn’t it be a shame if we had to eat fresh mahi-mahi or wahoo for dinner? Mary is on watch and it’s time for nap chores. So that’s it for a bit.
OK, so we got to Isla Isabela after dark and dropped the hook in a pile of rocks, 40’ down. We did take the safety precaution suggested by the cruising guide and attached a line and float to the crown of the anchor to haul the anchor up backward if it got hung up in the rocks.
There is to much to short cut Isla Isabela so we’ll wind up this VofE here and fire it into space tomorrow using marina wifi here in San Blas (Mexico)
Egret is for sale. http://youtu.be/AAR5wK-sWRs
Ed. Note - The glossary of Egretism terms will be posted on the Captain's Log home page for easy reference.