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S/V Nereida sails around the world

Tuesday - Thursday 25th-27th April 2017 Los Muertos

A very pleasant but productive couple of days at anchor here - Robert ('Tillicum’) gave me a lot of help looking at the generator problem - removed the seawater pump and looked at the impellor - it appeared fine but on more careful checking, it became clear that the central metal part was often turning without moving the impellor flanges with it - so the impellor was damaged and not working correctly… Replaced it with a new one - need to buy a spare now. Robert also fixed back in place a switch he had given me in B.C. last year that occasionally helps when starting the generator. That had been disconnected when the motor had been rebuilt in San Diego and, inexplicably, not replaced…. Similarly, he made a hole in the new lining of the lower generator casing and poked the oil drain pipe through so I could drain the motor oil, ready for oil changes - another small job that clearly should have been done, but infuriatingly had not, in San Diego. At last, the generator is working fine - but the cooling water pump circuit had to be primed to expel an airlock before that happened. At least, now, I know how to do that.

Rose helped us inflate the double kayak Jeff had lent me in San Diego and I paddled it to shore with Robert & Rose following behind watchfully in the dinghy - it felt very stable and I didn’t have too much problem paddling it, despite quite a strong wind blowing. We enjoyed a meal and some cold drinks on shore with a wonderful view over this large bay with its vivid turquoise blue water and long golden curving beach backed by low mountains.

Thursday morning, we hoisted the kayak onto the stern deck and tied it down and, by 10 a.m. I was heading out of the bay towards La Paz - 55 miles away. 'Tillicum' will be headed towards Sitka, Alaska, via Hawaii very soon, so the next time I'll see my friends will be when they reach Sidney, B.C.

The wind was very light initially so I was motoring in a calm sea - and later, although it increased, it also backed from NE to NW, soon becoming on the nose as we headed up the Canal Cerralvo, so was of no use for sailing. We passed by arid rugged landscape and long sandy beaches - this is the S end of the Sea of Cortez.

Sunday 23rd April 2017

Made landfall 1 p.m. in Bahia Frailes, at SE tip of Baja, after mostly motoring from Isla Isabela in light to non-existent winds - just two hours of sailing without the motor running in just over two days of passage..

Found deep water until very close to beach but finally anchored OK although closer in than I was happy with. Left track showing on plotter and woke up frequently overnight to check our position.

Late afternoon yesterday, dolphins had come by and one leaped really high out of the water close by - the second time, it looked me right in the eye as I applauded! Lovely!

Just before first light this morning, I came up to admire the crescent moon astern and a bright planet (Venus?) not far to its left - and got a nasty shock. I seemed to be seeing two steep-sided small islands not far astern, slightly off to starboard.. "Just not possible!" I thought, after a time - so what were they.? Ships? - but not showing lights. Navy? "We must have got quite close," I thought, puzzled . I was quite worried but then the light slowly increased - and I realised that these 'objects' were lumpy low clouds on the far horizon - what a relief!

On chatting to radio friends, I discovered that I'd acquired a new amateur radio callsign - to celebrate Canadian 125th Anniversary of 'unification' they've issued special callsigns - so my 'special' maritime callsign is now CG0JSJ, rather than the VE0JSJ I've been using up to now. Feels odd to be using a different one on the radio.

The weather has been very pleasantly sunny and warm here on the Baja.

During the late afternoon and evening, several groups of Mobelo rays (far smaller than the enormous Manta ray which is also occasionally seen hereabouts) were swimming in the bay. They gave a superb display - the small groups were slowly circling around, leaping simultaneously out of the water, bodies horizontal, falling 'splat' - mostly on their bellies - with a big splash. A spectacular display that kept me busy with my camera - not easy to catch them at the right moment!

Monday 24th April 2017

Another amazing sight as I was leaving Bahia Frailes this morning ! A pair of Orcas was seen vigorously circling close and 'herding' a small shoal of about two dozen Mobelo rays - I saw them again a short while after the Orcas had moved away so they seemed to have mostly, at least, survived the incident. Maybe the Orcas found they were not good eating? They do have a long tail with a sting, like their bigger relatives - maybe that saved them?

After several hours of motoring north in a flat calm, with a futile attempt to use the genoa at one point, we arrived in Los Muertos - a lovely, big, shallow, sandy bay with good holding and clear water but absolutely no hint of a telephone signal - so no calls or SMS possible from my Mexican mobile. My friends on 'Tillicum' had arrived from La Paz shortly before and we spent an enjoyable evening together catching up on news. Worrying on the N.Korea/USA front - I just hope that commonsense prevails and the situation dies down without a totally disastrous outcome.

Will stay here another day at least, before moving on towards La Paz. I'm looking forward to a nice swim - which will undoubtedly end up as a boat-cleaning operation, as usual! Nice to relax.

Saturday 22rd April 2017 Heading from Isabela to Los Frailes on the Baja peninsula - over halfway.

Still motoring in very little wind - none overnight and probably light for the rest of this trip.

Midday Suddenly spotted a green turtle passing by, heading the opposite way. Haven't seen one of those since I crossed the Tehuantepec in 2008 - exciting! I was just finishing a late breakfast after the usual disturbed night's sleep on passage, additionally broken just before midnight by the enormous cargo-vessel 'Prime Ace' passing very close ahead after I'd made brief VHF contact.

1 p.m. Apparent wind backed enough to unfurl the genoa to add it usefully to the mainsail - we're motor-sailing close-hauled at 4.6 knots with not too much engine power needed (1400 r.p.m.). Without the engine helping, we'd be drifting along at about half a knot in SSE wind of about 2 knots, sails flapping - I just tried it! Wind might increase over the afternoon - but it might also then veer enough to make sailing (rather than motoring) on this course impossible . I don't want to head more north, off our rhumb-line course, since that would add in to the journey time and I don't want a night-time landfall as a result of the increased distance. Cruising often involves using the motor to make safe daytime landfalls in unfamiliar places.

I've been spending more time figuring out how to get and display different weather downloads, learning how to use the onboard software. It is taking a lot of time but I'm slowly getting more useful knowledge of the Predictwind/XGate software I now have use of in addition to the excellent Winlink/Saildocs systems I've used so extensively in the past and which are so simple to use and display.

I've a small radio receiver for getting realtime photos from the weather satellites passing overhead. Would be great to get that working so I'm also trying to remind myself how to get that system going with its associated software & data requirements, using a simple dipole antenna I have onboard. I spent quite some time in La Cruz downloading the software and data I needed from the Internet.

7 p.m.

Having a computer problem after a re-start (software for writing/reading satphone emails not functioning now). that adds to iPad now broken and smartphone refusing to show downloaded satphone emails, although happy to send photos and comments. Life was so much simpler before all this high-tech stuff .!! Radio works fine, as usual!!!

Tried to send this update via satphone to website blog - failed, so will do so now via good, reliable HF radio and Winlink.! See www.svnereida.com for daily updates .

Sun just about to set over glassy-surfaced sea - not much wind around to sail by this afternoon. but a lively dolphin was clearly trying to set a high-jump record!

Up on deck now to enjoy the end-of-day spectacular.

Friday 21st April 2017 Up frequently overnight to check that we were OK. At sunrise, the fishermen were busy retrieving their pots - they called to me as they disentangled one of the lines from under 'Nereida' - a friendly, smiling trio. We chatted as they got their line free - no problema! Took photos of the sunrise and their boat as they were busy a little later... I'd had a good meal last night - steak and onions with Greek-style green beans (cooked with tomato and a touch of onion) and potatoes. Earlier, I'd finished up some delicious guacamole I'd made the day before - avocado, chopped tomato and onion. The only missing ingredient was cilantro but with a big squeeze of lime, it tasted fine. IRadio propagation last night was good - I talked to a boat on passage to the Marquesas and helped relay on the Pacific Seafarers Net - good to hear Glenn on Westwind Ii making good speed towards B.C. Had a chat with another radio ham from Rhode Island - amazingly clear to the NE of the USA! I'm enjoying the luxury of fresh berries with my morning cereal - normally I add dried fruit, so to have fresh is a real treat. I've cleared up in the galley and winds look light but favourable so I'll raise the main shortly and get underway towards Los Frailes -an anchorage on the Baja peninsula.

Well, I'm not feeling too comfortable here at anchor off Isla Isabela....

The passage here from Ensenada Matenchen, San Blas was notable only for consistent headwinds - light for the first few hours, with a calm sea, but then up to 12 knots on the nose. So that gave another day of motoring on a rhumb line course to make sure of arriving here in daylight.... no sailing at all was possible, given the need for good light for anchoring in an unfamiliar spot.

My plan was to anchor in the small S. bay on the island. Knowing where exactly to avoid - a big rock near the middle of the bay! - was helpful, but the prevailing SW swell got into the bay and the waves were crashing onto rocks all around its edges.... Passing fishermen in a panga indicated to move further away from the rocks to the east - sure enough, they looked rather close and the swell rather large after I'd set the anchor in about 7-9 m depth... This felt decidedly dangerous...! I felt obliged to raise the anchor and move away from there, heart pounding. I managed it without mishap.

My choices were to leave the island completely and motor on in the light winds overnight, to start my next two-day passage to the Baja, or to try to anchor in the lee of the island in another anchorage to the S of two spectacular rocky stacks on the island's east side (photo posted at sunset - dramatic!). There was another boat anchored south of there already but in deeper water than I was looking for. To add to the scenario, the local fishermen were laying crabpots all around and, as I came close to where I hoped to anchor, they indicated I was about to motor over their boat's flimsy, thin anchor line... As I suddenly realised what they were trying to tell me, I hurriedly shifted into neutral and steered away, passing over the line safely - the worry was getting it caught in my prop - we would all have been very unhappy, if that had happened, but for different reasons...! (In fact, the Ropestripper rope-cutter on the propshaft just ahead of my prop is very efficient and would doubtless have cut their line with ease, before it could foul my prop.)

I felt much better about anchoring in the calmer, open water here and dropped the hook in 14m depth... only to find we were in much deeper water once I had spent some time making sure it was well set... The wind dies away completely overnight and there was 25m/80ft of chain down with at least 55m/180ft of rope attached - sounds a lot, but in stronger conditions, it would have been too little. The problem with rope is also that the boat tends to wander a lot more than on all chain.

I left my plotter on and zoomed right in so I could see our track as we moved around. All looked fine in the WSW wind. A few hours later, the wind had backed to SSE - and so we had moved NW of our first position - to be expected, I told myself. The good news was the depths there being more in line with the anchor rode I'd deployed and we were still not far from the point I'd originally been aiming for - known to be a safe anchoring spot.

11 p.m. We seem to have settled into moving around in a small area with about 15m/49ft depth with no hint of any dragging of the anchor, which is always the worry - the wind is now only 2 knots and likely to stay calm overnight, which is a comfort! I've set an anchor watch on the plotter but will still have to wake up at regular intervals overnight, to check we're safe.

We'll definitely move on in the morning!

4 p.m. Wed Finally, the wind kicked in soon after 2 p.m. Lovely to get rid of the sound of the motor and sail for a while. Not far to go - San Blas is in sight ahead.... About one hour more and we'll be at anchor... Sunset... Clear sky still... Wind died but kept sailing - even down to 2.5kt as we approached the anchorage. About to have a nice deck shower - plenty of hot water! Eventually anchored 3miles off from all land around.... but in under 12m/ 40ft depth! Hoping not to be bothered by no-seeums. A few fishing pangas in the bay now... One just laid a crab pot nearby - a black flag on a pole above, showing where it is - at least it's visible. Buenas noches!

A pleasant, gentle sail in good wind from the Punta de Mita anchorage to La Cruz marina Monday afternoon was followed by a refreshing shower and a cold beer...great!   I spent several days renewing acquaintances, getting some work done and generally relaxing - with a good sea-breeze cooling things down reliably every afternoon under a clear blue sky.

One day, I went to Bucerias in the local 'combi'/minibus .. I needed to find a reliable ATM for cash.... The cost was minimal - 10 pesos for a good length ride.  Before leaving, I dropped off some laundry and on my way way back down to the marina I paused to pick up some freshly-made ceviche from my favourite place for that - 'El Rey Bonbon'.

A couple of fairly urgent jobs were taken care of - the staysail was taken down for repair by Mike of PV Sailing - it needed the foot pennant to be shortened so I could tension the luff more and the slightly torn bolt-rope tape mended and reinforced.  Mike also found quite a few small areas on the sail that needed patching and/or reinforcing.

I marked the anchor rode, after the multiplait had been spliced onto the chain, to show every 5m length, with different colours used to mark every 10m. Now the added rope has given more length of scope, I will be able to anchor in up to 14m depth, rather than just the 4-5m I've been restricted to so far.

I couldn't leave without enjoying a lovely molcajete in the marina seafood restaurant .... with tortillas and a margarita... of course!

Saturday I enjoyed the town's Easter fair and celebrations in and around the town square - along with just about everyone else living in the La Cruz area.  Sunday I had expected to be on my way north, but decided to stay another day which meant I was able to amble through the La Cruz Sunday market with its vivid colours, a group playing music, dancing, enticing food of all kinds, pottery, leatherwork, jewellery, artwork....  An amazing collection of stalls - difficult not to buy something ...  I bought a sombrero!

Easter Monday I leave for points north - to La Paz, possibly via Mazatlan - winds permitting...

The strong conditions met with on passage from Chamela, up until rounding Cabo Corrientes, had calmed down well before passing the Tres Marietas, in Bahia Banderas, on the way to Punta de Mita.
Once anchored at Punta de Mita, it was peaceful and calm, with a nice cooling breeze during the day .... A lovely spot. Only sounds were those of terns, excitedly diving on fish.. Pelicans had taken over the bimini tops of two local pangas nearby.  (I later realised that, on one boat at least, they were not just on the bimini top - they'd taken over the whole boat!)   R&R ... reading 'Between the Waters'.  Steak and onions later on was really tasty and very much enjoyed…. 

GPS input went down towards the end of the passage, but it had been erratic during the trip as well....   Means no position, SOG or COG data are available and autopilot use is very restricted, with tracking to a waypoint unavailable.  Happily, when I re-booted the  instruments after anchoring, it came back up but is clearly unreliable now.   I need to check the sensor and connections ... Another job added to the list - but first item was catching up on sleep!

Enjoyable though it was there, the holding seemed not to be good - despite having carefully set the anchor on arrival, we were clearly dragging at times when the afternoon breeze got up - as clearly shown on by the plotter display which I had left on and in tracking mode (now the GPS was back up and running for the time being).  When your position has shifted by more than the length of chain deployed, you've clearly dragged - no question about it!

Left Tenacatita Bay in pitch darkness and a flat calm at 6.30 this morning - had to use my headlamp while raising the anchor.

A lovely sunrise at 8am, by which time we were passing the many offlying rocky outcrops north of Tencatita - several were very large and all were clearly excellent seabird nesting sites.

The charts have been showing depths of well under 20m where the depth sounder was giving 65-90 m .... typical of charts in this part of Mexico. When I had Internet, I should have downloaded Google Earth photos of this coastline to see the true picture and give a better idea of depths.

The wind was a gentle southwesterly over most of the day and has now died away completely with the onset of darkness.

The beach was busy with people, some playing soccer, and fishermen's pangas often came in and out during the afternoon. The waves crash onto the beach - I saw no-one going for a swim.

I'm pleased to report my windlass is now behaving beautifully - I just wish I had more chain available to give more choice of where to anchor. I need to splice on the long length of multiplait rope that is presently tied to the end of the chain but is of no use like that since the knot and shackle being used won't pass around the windlass. I'm hoping to do that in La Cruz when I get there early next week. In the meantime, I can only anchor safely in shallow water... very restricting unless, using a snubber to take the strain first, I take the chain end off the windlass and re-join the rope to it beyond the windlass, placing the rope around the windlass afterwards to let out more rode - complicated ... and needing the reverse procedure when raising the anchor! Not something to be done in a hurry! (My main anchor and 100m of chain are stowed away in Victoria!)

I'll post today's photos separately after this.

Dealt with boat speed impellor this afternoon. Took quite a time but at least now the wind info will be correct - or nearly so! The Propspeed I painted on the impellor itself worked well but I should have painted inside and outside the holder as well to prevent the growth there that clogged it up. Also replaced some damaged screws supporting one of the 'gate' stanchions - another good job finally done!

Gone sunset now ... Time for R&R and food.

Leave early tomorrow for Chamela... Wind is forecast to be light or maybe from S. It would be nice not to have to bash into wind and waves, for a change.

Tuesday 4th April

Anchored off the beach in Tenacatita - surprisingly few boats here for such a popular Bay. One came in a short while ago to make a total of four of us.
10÷14 kt of wind on the nose getting here so a motoring few hours. Fortunately only 15ml from Barra de Navidad so not too long taken.
Peaceful now .... Only sounds are of waves breaking onshore and birds calling as they go to roost.

Amazing architecture at the hotel behind the marina here in Barra de Navidad. 
It has been good to meet up again with Ben &Lucie - stuck here until they sort out Georgia's transmission problems - and also to meet Sally and Stan on 'Illusion', as they paused here for a few days on their way south to Chiapas.
Useful two days were spent servicing my windlass - now working beautifully - rewarded myself with a lovely swim in the pool here once finished.
Wasted a lot of time Sunday trying to get Internet access working in the hotel -gets very frustrating when so much time lost and little progress made.
Plan to move on to Tenacatita in a day or so.
More boat jobs and buying of fresh food today.

More reading.... Decided to get through two Ruth Rendell paperbacks - three detective novels in all...  Not bad ...but I'll be pleased to get the books off Nereida... Been on board and around the world more than twice since Guernsey, June 2009! 
Enjoyed my ceviche last night - don't know what fish it was but they're very common here.
Another very pleasant day except for a Mexican phone problem... Can't make calls using Mexican SIM card. Being told 'outgoing calls barred'..... checked in Settings. .. They should NOT be... Grrr!!! Stymied. .. No phone calls & no Internet - all paid for but presently unavailable... Frustrating!

Saturday 25th March 2017

Another lovely, warm, mainly relaxed, day.

Being anchored off the beach with no dinghy means there's no way of getting ashore unless I blow up the inflatable double kayak friend Geoff lent me in San Diego - which I'm feeling too lazy to do - maybe tomorrow!!

There are four boats anchored close by but, surprisingly, not one has come by to say 'Hallo'. Very unusual - maybe they're new to cruising?

The sky has been mainly clear blue overhead, although some cumulus cloud built up for a short time over the backdrop of mountains.

Lovely white tropic birds, with bright red bill and long white tail streamers, have been diving for fish, as have graceful white terns, all day - one came very close this afternoon, diving on the large shoal of silver fish under and around 'Nereida'. Large black, fork-tailed frigate birds regularly harass the smaller birds in the hope that they will drop their catch and give the predators an easy meal.

Being Saturday, the beach has been busy and the boats anchored out here have been regularly used as 'marks' for the fast-driven skiboats to round to and from the beach. The long sandy beach is lined with small houses and 'palapas' (outdoor restaurants shaded by a roof of palm fronds on a flimsy, open-sided framework). The land behind rises to high rugged mountains and is mainly jungle-covered or barren.

The view out to sea is of the wide entrance with rocky hillsides and occasional large vessels heading in or out of the major port of Manzanillo well off in the distance.

It's a well-protected bay so very little swell has reached here. Happily, with the sun getting very hot by midday, a refreshing land-breeze comes up and stays up until just before sunset.

I decided to finish the job I'd started yesterday - so I'm feeling very satisfied with the end-result - a lovely clean inside to the white hard top with no rust or dirt marks anywhere! Tomorrow, I'll get to the generator, to remove the seawater pump so I can check that *!!**#^ impellor..yet again...!

With good sun and wind power, and solar lighting used when it's dark, only the fridge and HF radio are using much battery power, so the lack of generator is not of major importance just now.

Just had an omelette - many of the eggs are still good, despite over a fortnight in December when they weren't turned daily - amazing!

The sun is sinking over the distant hill - nearly 7pm. (Photo being posted separately)

Everything calms down by evening - all to be heard then is the sound of the waves breaking gently on the sandy shore not far away.. and overhead, so many bright stars in a clear sky. Think I'll stay here a few more days!

Crossed the main Bay around noon to reach Ensenada Carrizal -a lovely protected small bay with rocky sides and small beach at its far end.  Excellent snorkelling and sea caves to explore. Unfortunately too deep for my ground tackle, so on to Bahia de Santiago, with its long sandy beach, to anchor in 6m.  Several large dolphins came close, with distinctive blotched backs and light undersides.
While underway here, I was pleased to have managed some overdue cleaning of rusting screw heads under the hard top - looks so much better when it's all clean again.
Went to get out my swimsuit from the basin I'd left it in after hull cleaning off Isla Grande. ... Yuck...! Full of tiny creatures....
Peaceful sunset and evening, after lots of noisy Mexican beach fun reaching out to the boat.

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