S/V Nereida sails around the world

March/April Update from Mexico

2nd May 2015 - Fiesta time in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle!
 

To San Sebastian (28th February - 2nd March)....

La Cruz de Huanacaxtle is a friendly place and the marina has many helpful cruisers so it's been a good place to get work done.   Some boats were being prepared to sail to Polynesia when the weather was right for that (not until well into April, as it turned out) but it was great to take a break from boatwork and take advantage of a brief trip to San Sebastian organised by Philo of Philo's Bar in company.

It was my first time inland in Mexico since a trip to the Mayan remains at Chichenitza from the east coast (the Yucatan) in 2004  and I was impressed by the mountainous terrain we passed over, with its impenetrable jungle in many places.  San Sebastian is a small village high up in the mountains of the Mexican Sierra Madre.with his own band and a lively Latin group - Luna Rumba.                     We stopped off at a Tequileria and had a good time tasting a variety of tequilas, liqueurs and mezcal.  Tequila is made from the roasted crowns of blue agave in the state of Jalisco and the mezcal is made from yellow agave - to my mind, even the best was not as good as the 'anejo' (aged) tequila.

San Sebastian has an amazing variety of fruit and vegetables with lots of citrus trees, many of which were used to give shade in an interesting coffee plantation.    The low-tech coffee production was very interesting to see!   In addition, there were the tropical fruits and vegetables one expects here, along with a  colourful collection of flowers.  Being so high up, it has no lack of water.
The pleasant church had a museum nearby with an organ from England among its few exhibits...

My friends, Stuart and Karen, and I were in an old house just outside the village which originally had a silver mine close by and we had a lovely walk into the village, which grew up here because of the silver mining around.
                               

The evening was spent as a group in the courtyard of an old hotel off the town square.  
     We had a barbecue and enjoyed plenty of good music, some by the light of a camp-fire... It was good to get dancing - something I've been missing!

 There was a working silversmith in the village with three men busily making silver jewellery, often using the many semi-precious stones found in the area.  The workmanship was good and the prices low.

Mid-March ... to London for Hanson Lecture ....

- to give the annual Cruising Association's Hanson Lecture in Limehouse Basin, just off the Thames in East London's docklands area.  That was a very enjoyable evening in company with a friendly group of fellow-sailors.

England was basking in warm air, with blue skies a lot of the time I was there, and spring flowers were out in force.  It was a lovely time to be driving around the countryside and a trip down to Devon, with its steep-sided twisting country lanes with banks full of wild primroses and occasional cowslips and violets, was a real pleasure.

Mid-April - To Visalia, in  California...

... for the annual International 'DX' (long-range radio) Convention, where I spoke about my circumnavigations and my use of radio to over 550 diners after the final Saturday evening Banquet.  I had met up with several 'hams' at the Convention who had contacted me via HF radio on my way around - always a pleasure to meet up with the person behind the voice!   It was also good to renew acquaintance with people I already knew and very interesting to look at the many exhibits and chat to the people  making the equipment.

I'd spotted that the venue was close to Yosemite, a National Park I had often heard talked about in glowing terms, so I made a big effort to get there.  It was sad to see so many road-side mature trees dead or dying on my way there - the result of the present drought in California.  I spent an exhilirating day, first driving to Glacier Point for an overview of Yosemite Valley 
m IMG 0272   m IMG 0295    Dramatic high peaks and waterfalls ...

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I eventually went hiking high up in the Valley itself to well beyond Mirror Pool - a big loop trail.  What an amazing area!

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A well worthwhile visit, despite the resulting long next day's drive down to Phoenix to catch a flight early the following morning to Mexico.  I came eye-to-eye with a coyote early in the morning and then with a small woodpecker I crept up on later that afternoon - it was making good use of one of the many dead but still standing trees in the forest above Mirror Pool.

24/25 April 2015 - To a Mariachi Festival...

No sooner had I landed in Mexico than I was leaving heavy luggage with friends and then taking the overnight bus to Queretaro where I was met by friend Kyle ....  The annual Mariachi Festival in his lovely village of Mineral de Pozos had been (unfortunately for me!) moved from May to late April.... but it sounded too enjoyable to miss. 

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His village is surrounded by many, often dangerously-unfenced, mineshafts and related buildings, mostly dating from the 1800s, with some earlier.

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A mine-owner's grand house close to the mine workings - reminded me of a Victorian 'folly'!  

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 Mining was mainly for silver but several other metals were also brought up.   We spent a fascinating few hours driving around and walking in the area - keeping an eye out for edges of open-cast mines and mineshafts hidden by undergrowth.  (A 5-yr-old boy was killed recently falling down one - they are amazingly deep and a rescue team had trouble getting his body out)

On my first morning, I was delighted to come across a young Mariachi group practising in a beautiful old house for the evening Show.m IMG 0378 1

It turned out they were all around 19-20 yrs old and had come in from Chula Vista.   They played impressively well, and were coached by Mark, originally from a farming village near Seattle!!   His father's work had taken him to Guadalajara (where Mariachi music was born) at 13 yrs old and he had fallen in love with Mariachi music and effectively dedicated his life to it.

The Mariachi groups all played extremely well and with typical lively enthusiasm but a cold wind, that we were certainly not  dressed for, got up during the evening to test our stamina.... We were better prepared the following night!   The parents of one of the young group, who were sitting in front of us, were bursting with pride at their son's performance... with good reason!

They were thrilled to hear I'd video-ed their son's group practising and I promised to let them have a copy of both that and the evening performance, although the evening recordings were nothing like as good as the daytime one.  I was interested to see that all the groups generally comprised half violinists, with 2-3 guitar players (the bass guitar was always prominent, with a resonant beat), often a small harp, 2-3 trumpet players and at least 1-3 very good solo singers, with the whole group often joining in the singing....   with occasional group movements to the beat, of course - typically Mexican!

A two-hour drive was followed by a tour around the lovely old city of San Miguel de Allende (the birth-place of Mexican Independence from Spain!):
  

A tasty Mexican meal prepared especially by Kyle's friend, was followed by the overnight bus-ride back to the coast.   The buses are so well used in Mexico that the long-distance ones are very comfortable with good facilities, so I had a reasonable sleep both ways, helped by an empty seat beside me each time.   The route looked very convoluted on the map as a consequence of the rugged mountains of the Sierra Madre inland, nudging right up to the coast.   The two-lane, often bumpy, road certainly had frequent steep drop-offs at its edge outside towns and villages - best not to look too often as we swung around the bends at speed!


Last week, I took a bus around Puerto Vallarta -  I'd not explored that town since 2005!  The main church, with its distinctive 'crown' atop it, was beautifully light and airy inside, with a quite different exterior to another older church on the edge of town:
                 
                 
       

Work goes on.....

As I write this on board 'Nereida', I can clearly hear the music from the town square of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle - in fiesta all week long with crackers going off every day at dawn and dusk to annouce the festivities and a man carying a bull's head on his shoulders adorned with fire crackers and Catherine wheels he let off at frequent intervals charging around the town square, making people scatter, during a pause in the events.

Yesterday, the 2015 Queen was crowned and the music and dancing afterwards lasted until around 4am...    I joined in the dancing for a bit and got to bed rather late, well before they finished.   A 'Mexicubana' band, it was very popular (half Cubans, half Mexicans) and it was amazing to see how some couples moved and turned energetically at speed together to what was basically a 'pasa doble' rythm.

The good news after today's work was getting my VHF working properly again (repaired unit was brought back from UK with me), after a slight problem with connecting it all up correctly.  I think I've finished (for now!) with the instrumentation side of things - generator control panel has also been replaced, satphone GPS input located, after a search, and connected to system - which is now working (although not being made use of just now) - and plotter has been put back into position after being removed for access.

My windsteering system now has all new bushings and bearings - all the plastic parts had got very worn and there was a lot of play in the system.  Many thanks to Robert of 'Tillicum' for a lot of help in dealing with that for me and also to Sarah Curry for prompt mailing of certain parts, with others being well fabricated locally.

Plan is to leave here late next week for Mazatlan before heading further north, so my next big job is to check over the sailing side of things - sheets, running rigging all need sorting out  and deck gear (blocks, winches etc) need to be cleaned and lubricated before I sail away.

I'll post this text shortly but the many photos I'd have liked to post with it might take a time - Internet here is, to put it politely, very slow and unreliable!  (Photos finally posted over a week later - a lot of effort with an equally unreliable Internet wifi connection in Isla Mazatlan marina)

Season's Greetings - from 'Nereida' afloat in San Carlos!!

20th December 2014 - 'Nereida' happily afloat... Happy New Year!

Seasons greetings Nereida lit up - showing new hard top

Sending you the warmest of Season's Greetings and wishing you all a very Happy and Healthy New Year 2015...  from 'Nereida' decorated with a string of coloured LEDs...

It's great to be afloat at last, even though it's in a marina, still with lots to do...   There's a problem here for deeper-draught boats and 8th December was the last possible date for 'Nereida' to be launched for quite a time.  So it was vital to be 'splashed' now, in order to be able to go sailing at all over the coming months.

Photos of the short road trip: leaving Marina Seca, onto the main road close by, down to the marina ramp - all being pushed 'backwards', ahead of the tractor driven by Jose-Maria...:

m2  3.Leaving Marina Seca 

4.Onto the main road by Marina Seca

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 m7 Afloat ..... at last!! m8

To celebrate, I invited yardworkers Jorge, Pepe and Edgar and their families to join me on board 'Nereida' the following Saturday afternoon with the idea of taking them all out for a sail after a good lunch. (They've never been out on a sailing vessel, despite all their years of working on boats in the yard...)  I had a lot of work to do, clearing things away and tidying up to make room for twelve people eating down below and in the cockpit! (Photos show chaos in the main cabin and in the cockpit when we were about to leave the yard - made worse by having had to retrieve lots of gear from a storage locker...  I'm busy now working through everything on board, hoping to reduce the excess and make space for visitors!)

mChaos in main cabin mCockpit chaos while on the hard

I had a nasty shock when hoisting the staysail and finding I'd managed to crease the luff in the track on the foil... It proved impossible to budge it up or down, so I folded/furled it up as best I could, leaving the halyard slack, and then got help from my willing neighbours to hoist the genoa in the hope of using it during the Saturday outing...  (A few days later, a cheerful local rigger, Carlos, came to help me - and pulled the staysail down with very little effort - a big relief!!)

The usual scenario in the afternoons is for a N wind to pipe up strongly here, usually after a flat calm overnight and during the mornings, and I suspect my visitors were slightly worried about the possibility of the wind making 'rough' seas and causing seasickness - I later heard that Pepe had asked someone for pills, just in case!   I switched on the instruments in preparation for leaving the dock - and saw very little depth of water ... I'd totally forgotten about the shallow water in the marina and that LW was in the afternoon!  I checked with a knowledgeable neighbour - sure enough, the word was not to even think about leaving ...  I'd be sure to go aground in the marina entrance - either on the sand bar there or on an unmarked rock close by to its S....  (Friends Ben and Lucie, in 'Georgia'went aground on that same sand bar twice a week or so ago... despite their relatively shallow draught!!)   ... So my planned outing didn't happen - but we enjoyed the afternoon on board, despite that.

As is so often true, I've found people here to be really friendly and helpful...  Garth (originally from USA but with Mexican family across the Sea of Cortez in Mulege) has been very supportive - got my outboard properly serviced by Umberto, gave me some 'magic liquid' he guaranteed would unstick a well-stuck-down turning block on deck, sent rigger Carlos over to me to help with the jammed staysail, and also made sure mechanic Alejandro came to undo the seawater cooling pipe leading to the heat exchanger, where I knew I had bits of impellor stuck - ready to cause me a problem at some point, when running the engine...   I was amazed to see just how many broken bits of impellor flanges were there when Alejandro finally got to my engine yesterday (having been to the wrong marina at least twice over the week!) ... LOTS more than just the one impellor that had broken while battery-charging in the Southern Ocean last year...!:

 20141219 100040 20141219 100238 - gasket needs replacing Of course,the gasket needed changing but I have no spare - a tube of liquid gasket proved useful until I get another...  Alejandro reminded me I should have a spare injector or two, also...  And a small filter placed in the seawater pipe would be useful for easily extracting future impellor bits...

I've been working hard at improving my Spanish recently - of necessity, since many locals have little or no English.  It's satisfying to be able to communicate better with them.

With Christmas and the New Year so close, there's been a lot of movement in and out of the area & several friends on boats have left recently, but fortunately a few others will remain.  In particular, Ed and Charlene will be here - we're hoping to go out for a sail on 'Nereida' over Christmas Day - that would be great!  Ed spent quite a time with me today, looking over some problems on board with a view to helping me, which is greatly appreciated.  He'll be back tomorrow with tools.

The Internet here is awful - often impossible to make a good connection, so I tried to get my Bullet antenna working, to a wi-fi router...  Gustavo came by - and proved to be very helpful.  He got it working at one point, using a spare data cable I bought recently, but it's misbehaving again and needs more work.

My Christmas (and New Year) present to myself will be to get 'Nereida' better organised and sorted out!!  Despacio, despacio ...!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!  Feliz Navidad y Buen Ano Nuevo!!

More news from Marina Seca, San Carlos

27th November 2014 (US Thanksgiving)  

             20141123 180019   

Work continues in sunny but dusty San Carlos where the sliver of a new moon appeared in the lovely sunset sky over the distinctive two peaks last Sunday.

Some good work has been done over the last two weeks - the boat is looking much smarter (I even hosed the dust off the decks tonight) and I’m feeling a lot happier!   It’s great to have so many friendly, helpful people around – typical boating community here, with everyone helping one another…  (Particular thanks to Tony & Patsy of 'Forbes & Cameron'  and Brunton's in U.K. for getting a much-needed greasing nipple to me via San Diego for my Autoprop.  Also to Alain of ‘Blue Moon’,  and Ed of ‘Panacea’ - and the cheerful yard workers who have often been very helpful as well)

Five layers of a barrier coat were applied in quick succession to the underwater section Friday fortnight ago, after thorough sanding, and then a light sanding was followed by four coats of Coppercoat on the following Wednesday.   Then the low loader came along early on Monday to raise “Nereida” slightly so the blocks under her keel, as well as the supporting stands, could be moved for the process to be repeated in the uncoated places - including under the flat base of the keel (where a Black Widow spider was found on moving the wooden supports!).   

Having thoroughly primed the yard workers on the procedure beforehand - and making sure only the most experienced of them was involved - it all went beautifully smoothly, with two on each side (Jorge with Edgar and Pepe with Miguel) and Adriano mixing the batches with me helping.  Ed of 'Panacea' also gave a helping hand - he'll be applying Coppercoat to his boat and was interested to see how it all went.  It certainly created a lot of interest from nearby boat owners, other yard workers and staff of Marina Seca here in San Carlos, Mexico.  The thought of 10-12 years of no antifouling being needed raised a lot of comment!   (Photos below)

 In between that and finishing wind generator wiring, I’ve been busily painting the aft cabin bunk tops with a two-part epoxy sealant for protection, the main problem turning out to be the excessively long time taken for each coat to harden, meaning only one coat per day was possible.  I’d naively hoped to get the job completed over last weekend, since the days are still very warm, but it’s only just finishing.   With both sides of seven boards involved the job will have lasted 8 days - hopefully, they can be put back in place this weekend so the aft cabin can be organised and cleared up....

The newly completed wind generator installation has proved useful - in the usual afternoon thermally-induced winds, the rotor is whizzing around so the house batteries are regularly at a healthier voltage now.  (My 220-240V shore charger refuses to accept the high input voltage of 270V coming from the 2:1 transformer resulting from the mains power at 135V here.  I’m often having to borrow 110V equipment to do work via an extension lead in the yard.)

The new hard sprayhood over the companionway (known as a hard ‘dodger' in N.America) is looking good - the shape is identical to my old canvas awning, with Lexan windows.   The glazing sealant gave Jorge quite a problem - it’s silicone and cures to be very strong, but is difficult to apply all around and behind the windows, being runny but skinning over within 20 minutes, giving very little time to smooth it and remove the masking tape around while maintaining the positive pressure on the window for the week it needs to cure.  The stainless steel fixings - front-plates and backing-plates - have given me a lot of work in preparing to instal them, with difficult access to where each of the two backing-plates go.

A Thanksgiving ‘potluck’ Dinner was organised by ‘Shamaness’ here outside the yard last night - it included the traditional turkey and pumpkin pie and I was delighted to find some unexpected fresh-mashed potatoes - a change from tortillas!  Two good guitarists played later and we all relaxed after the day’s boatwork - all very enjoyable!

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We got going soon after 8:30am ......

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Miguel and Edgar get started :

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Jorge and Pepe relax in between coats:     

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Waiting for the third coat to dry...

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Edgar pays careful attention to the rudder area while Ed checks around the propellor and (rope) Stripper:

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Jorge and Pepe were delighted to have finished all four coats by midday - in time for lunch!

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Monday morning, after several days for drying out, the low-loader came to lift 'Nereida' slightly so the blocks beneath, and the side supports, could be moved to complete the coatings:

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The Autoprop has been thoroughly cleaned off to bare metal, ready for Propspeed coating to be applied - I had been waiting for the greaser nipple and the bearings were thoroughly greased once it came - an easy operation.

A Black Widow spider was found lurking on one of the blocks moved ...!

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More news from Marina Seca, San Carlos

27th November 2014 (US Thanksgiving)

Work continues in sunny but dusty San Carlos where the sliver of a new moon appeared in the lovely sunset sky over the distinctive two peaks last Sunday.

Some good work has been done over the last two weeks - the boat is looking much smarter (I even hosed the dust off the decks tonight) and I’m feeling a lot happier!   It’s great to have so many friendly, helpful people around – typical boating community here, with everyone helping one another…  (Particular thanks to Alain, of ‘Blue Moon’, and Ed, of ‘Panacea’ - and the cheerful yard workers have often been very helpful, also.)

Five layers of a barrier coat were applied in quick succession to the underwater section Friday fortnight ago, after thorough sanding, and then a light sanding was followed by four coats of Coppercoat on the following Wednesday.   Then the low loader came along early on Monday to raise “Nereida” slightly so the blocks under her keel, as well as the supporting stands, could be moved for the process to be repeated in the uncoated places - including under the flat base of the keel (where a Black Widow spider was found on moving the wooden supports!).   

Having thoroughly primed the yard workers on the procedure beforehand - and making sure only the most experienced of them was involved - it all went beautifully smoothly and certainly created a lot of interest from nearby boat owners, other yard workers and staff of Marina Seca here in San Carlos, Mexico.  (Photos below)

 In between that and finishing wind generator wiring, I’ve been busily painting the aft cabin bunk tops with a two-part epoxy sealant for protection, the main problem turning out to be the excessively long time taken for each coat to harden, meaning only one coat per day was possible.  I’d naively hoped to get the job completed over last weekend, since the days are still very warm, but it’s only just finishing.   With both sides of seven boards involved the job will have lasted 8 days - hopefully, they can be put back in place this weekend so the aft cabin can be organised and cleared up....

The newly completed wind generator installation has proved useful - in the usual afternoon thermally-induced winds, the rotor is whizzing around so the house batteries are regularly at a healthier voltage now.  (My 220-240V shore charger refuses to accept the high input voltage of 270V coming from the 2:1 transformer resulting from the mains power at 135V here.  I’m often having to borrow 110V equipment to do work via an extension lead.)

The new hard sprayhood over the companionway (known as a hard ‘dodger' in N.America) is looking good - the shape is identical to my old canvas awning, with Lexan windows.   The glazing sealant gave Jorge quite a problem - it’s silicone and cures to be very strong, but is difficult to apply all around and behind the windows, being runny but skinning over within 20 minutes, giving very little time to smooth it and remove the masking tape around.  The stainless steel fixings - front-plates and backing-plates - have given me a lot of work in preparing to instal them, with difficult access to where each of the two backing-plates go.

A Thanksgiving ‘potluck’ Dinner was organised by ‘Shamaness’ here outside the yard last night - it included the traditional turkey and pumpkin pie and I was delighted to find some unexpected fresh-mashed potatoes - a change from tortillas!  Two good guitarists played later and we all relaxed after the day’s boatwork - all very enjoyable!

More news from Marina Seca, San Carlos

27th November 2014 (US Thanksgiving)

Work continues in sunny but dusty San Carlos where the sliver of a new moon appeared in the lovely sunset sky over the distinctive two peaks last Sunday.

Some good work has been done over the last two weeks - the boat is looking much smarter (I even hosed the dust off the decks tonight) and I’m feeling a lot happier!   It’s great to have so many friendly, helpful people around – typical boating community here, with everyone helping one another…  (Particular thanks to Alain, of ‘Blue Moon’, and Ed, of ‘Panacea’ - and the cheerful yard workers have often been very helpful, also.)

Five layers of a barrier coat were applied in quick succession to the underwater section Friday fortnight ago, after thorough sanding, and then a light sanding was followed by four coats of Coppercoat on the following Wednesday.   Then the low loader came along early on Monday to raise “Nereida” slightly so the blocks under her keel, as well as the supporting stands, could be moved for the process to be repeated in the uncoated places - including under the flat base of the keel (where a Black Widow spider was found on moving the wooden supports!).   

Having thoroughly primed the yard workers on the procedure beforehand - and making sure only the most experienced of them was involved - it all went beautifully smoothly and certainly created a lot of interest from nearby boat owners, other yard workers and staff of Marina Seca here in San Carlos, Mexico.  (Photos below)

 In between that and finishing wind generator wiring, I’ve been busily painting the aft cabin bunk tops with a two-part epoxy sealant for protection, the main problem turning out to be the excessively long time taken for each coat to harden, meaning only one coat per day was possible.  I’d naively hoped to get the job completed over last weekend, since the days are still very warm, but it’s only just finishing.   With both sides of seven boards involved the job will have lasted 8 days - hopefully, they can be put back in place this weekend so the aft cabin can be organised and cleared up....

The newly completed wind generator installation has proved useful - in the usual afternoon thermally-induced winds, the rotor is whizzing around so the house batteries are regularly at a healthier voltage now.  (My 220-240V shore charger refuses to accept the high input voltage of 270V coming from the 2:1 transformer resulting from the mains power at 135V here.  I’m often having to borrow 110V equipment to do work via an extension lead.)

The new hard sprayhood over the companionway (known as a hard ‘dodger' in N.America) is looking good - the shape is identical to my old canvas awning, with Lexan windows.   The glazing sealant gave Jorge quite a problem - it’s silicone and cures to be very strong, but is difficult to apply all around and behind the windows, being runny but skinning over within 20 minutes, giving very little time to smooth it and remove the masking tape around.  The stainless steel fixings - front-plates and backing-plates - have given me a lot of work in preparing to instal them, with difficult access to where each of the two backing-plates go.

A Thanksgiving ‘potluck’ Dinner was organised by ‘Shamaness’ here outside the yard last night - it included the traditional turkey and pumpkin pie and I was delighted to find some unexpected fresh-mashed potatoes - a change from tortillas!  Two good guitarists played later and we all relaxed after the day’s boatwork - all very enjoyable!

San Carlos Report - 5th Nov 2014

Back to San Carlos via Phoenix, to work on 'Nereida'

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                           AYC talk 14Oct2014                        IMG 4184

Spoke at Arizona Yacht Club meeting in Tempe, by Phoenix, on Tuesday 14th October, before heading on down to San Carlos.  A great audience at my talk . and a fun time the Sunday beforehand, sailing a Laser on Tempe Lake, in bright sunshine. Strong gusts capsized me twice - but water was fresh and warm, so swim was quite pleasant... Safety boat came to my rescue - I was just not heavy enough to get boat up again each time, despite all my efforts heaving on the end of the centre board!

Busy again now in Marina Seca, San Carlos - trying to get into 'Mex mode' to avoid stressing myself out over time taken to get nowhere...  But my bow thruster streamlining projecthas been nicely smoothed and finished off by Pepe and Adriano. (No - I didnt want one, but since its there, might as well prevent the loss of speed the tunnel must have caused).

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Had help installing replacement steering bearings and cables (with new greasers) and (replacement) new wind generator - wiring needs to be finished and hub plus blades to be put in place.

Also installed a Halyard Exhaust Alert in exhaust hose, with cockpit display - hoping never to have engine damaged by overheating in future.  Wiring of alarm and junction box needs completion but its not difficult - just needs me to find time to get to it.   (Photos show sensor inside hose and outer connection to junction box)

         riser sensor 4 2             20141026 090233         20141026 090212            

With aft cabin turned upside down for access to wiring, Ill complete work there before replacing newly-cleaned bunk tops and tidying up - means main cabin and forepeak are jammed up, making moving about difficult.   Hard awning/dodger is also needing some more careful thought - spent time making patternsfor steel plates and straps to attach it firmly.   Jorge has been mproving the inside finish in places with fresh gelcoat.

Found an empty (i.e. leaked!) bottle of epoxy hardener all over forepeak floor ... grrr!!  Have spent time cleaning up a big mess, chasing up replacement and organising travel to/from Tucson to pick it up quickly - this weekend, I hope, ready for applying Coppercoat next week.  Have scheduled launch for 24th Nov so need to get it done, along with Propspeed application to prop and propshaft, plus dealing with anything else below waterline.

Hot now in sun around midday, but has suddenly become very cool in the evenings and overnight - having to get out warmer bedding. (Debated getting out socks last night, uncovered feet felt so cold!)  No shore power input - not too surprisingly, charger is malfunctioning with high input voltage (132V, instead of 120V!) - yet another problem that was NOT on my list of expected boat work!  Having to rely on solar power to keep batteries charged - three wires needed new sections added to eliminate loss of output power due to corrosion.

Took last weekend off to relax and go sailing in Tucson S.C. Regatta here in San Carlos - lovely to get out on the water Friday - Sunday, with parties each evening.  Many thanks to Peter and Judy Burgard for inviting me to join them, with their son Alan, as their guest for the Regatta racing on Bandito, with its distinctive Halloween’ spinnaker in black & orange adding interest on the downwind legs!

Large moths are out in force in the evenings they seem to enjoy settling upside down on theinside of glasses to drink the beer! 

Friends Robert and Rose finally enjoy Tillicumbeing launched - after two years of hard work on a total refit - she looks beautiful - happy people!!   Im envious!

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Southampton Boat Show ... Hurricane Odile ... Bart's Bash

22nd September 2014

Sad news of three cruisers' deaths in La Paz anchorage after hurricane Odile devastated Cabo San Lucas and La Paz and much of S.Baja... 'Nereida' was safe in San Carlos, I heard - as were all boats there in Marina Seca and the marina. Pleased to see 'Polo' kept offshore, although some rain from it did reach Cabo.    But news is good now - Mexican govt did a good job evacuating tourists trapped by aftermath and supplies are getting through.  Road south down Baja peninsula seems to be OK now and fuel supply is good - so more supplies can get S and locals are working very hard to repair all the damage everywhere.  Internet and phones seem now to be working - but still plenty of re-building to do.  San Jose airport is opening in a week or so, it seems.

   2014-09-18 14.06.48 Old Southampton city wall remains, near Red Funnel Ferry terminal to Cowes.

Southampton Boat Show kept me busy - Fri/Sat opening days and then Thurs/Fri again. Was given a hand-held pole-mount for 'selfies' via mobile/cellphone and Bluetooth - takes good pics showing background as well. Got a useful 'Exhaust Alert' from Halyard stand - need it to warn me if engine starts overheating... Now that I'll be using motor at times, not just sailing, should mean avoiding loss of engine-power just when needed! Interviewed on Radio Solent's midday programme and did a 'Meet and Greet' on Boatshed's stand.

Made useful visits to other stands to get items for boat in Mexico - so many things to organise for 'Nereida', to be ready for work on her. The list is long and probably boring for most people!  It reads:  apply Coppercoat in place of anti-fouling paint; finish hard sprayhood/dodger and fix tracks to attach (new) bimini and (old) weather screen; replace wind generator; replace steering cables and bearings etc; replace most lines and sheets with new; replace genoa; replace turning block; fix Halyard 'Exhaust Alert’ in exhaust; replace anodes; clean topsides and deck; fit insulating divider in fridge; fit new blind/mosquito screen to forepeak hatch; replace VHF coax mast-connector and check transmit; replace Pactor modem and also Iridium satphone modem; replace small item on Hydrovane wind-steering; try to reduce RF interference using ‘chokes’ on wiring; sort out chaos, clean out lockers and generally tidy up below - a big job!!  (I’m sure there are more jobs I’ve forgotten!!)

Hopefully, we’ll finally be in a fit state to greet friends on board this winter and cruise the Sea of Cortez!  A lot of jobs I can see to myself, but others I’ll be getting help with before we ’splash’.  Once in the water, many jobs can be done at anchor, rather than in the marina - that’s the plan, anyway!

Supported the Bart's Bash on Sunday, at the Queen Mary Sailing Club where I used to windsurf a lot (http://www.queenmary.org.uk/).

Amazing turn-out, very pleasant sunshine, good wind and a lot of money raised. We have yet to hear the results from the other 'Bash' races all over the world today - a friend from Arizona Y.C. raced in one on Lake Pleasant, near Phoenix!

 

Greetings from beautiful British Columbia... photos!

15th August 2014 - in warm, sunny B.C.

Having written at length a few weeks ago - and then having lost the entire file while sorting through photos - I've not felt very motivated to re-write it...!!  But it's long overdue, so here goes...

8th July came... I was reminded that one year ago I'd just arrived back on land after 259 days at sea. Rick, VE7TK, had sent me a photo of the AIS screen on 6-7th July 2013 that so many were looking at as I struggled to get back to Victoria Harbour in fog and no wind, showing us drifting backwards and in circles overnight, as I tried to complete my circumnavigation under sail alone...

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Mexico news up to my leaving 'Nereida' in dry storage on 15th July (more photos below, including Sedona area)

The new hard top, replacing the canvas awning over the companionway, was virtually complete, with Jorge taking a long time and a lot of care to produce a good finish to it - it 'just' needs Lexan windows to be cut and stuck in place and a final fixing to the top of the steel windscreen when I return in October.

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Pitt was very helpful, as he has so often been, when time came for putting 'Nereida' to bed in the dry storage area  - covering her up carefully against the UV-rays of the hot sun during my absence.

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The weather was impossibly hot - too hot to get anything useful done by way of boatwork - but the 'chubascos' came early in July, as I'd been told they would - strong gusts of N wind accompanied by heavy rain and sheet lightning - but usually for just a few hours, around midnight.  The nice end-result was the nearby Sonoran desert greening up and cacti starting to flower beautifully - big flowers on small plants & small flowers on straggly ones
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The word was of a mountain lion being seen in the nearby hills ... and deer, for sure.   1st, 4th and 14th of July were all celebrated.... but it was always a relief to make for the cool of an air-conditioned bar and/or restaurant most evenings after an essential cooling shower.     Many people had their boats brought in to the Marina Seca, to leave them in the dry storage area while they made their way north to cooler climes -  often to their air-conditioned home in Phoenix or Tucson or San Diego, but also many Canadians, looking forward to a summer in B.C. or Alberta, some driving up, occasionally trailing their (small) boat up with them.
I was busy with my  own glass fibre project (a first for me!) - forming an area of carefully-shaped fibre glass over shaped foam, the idea being to reduce the braking effect of the disturbed water-flow of the bow-thruster tunnel quite close to the bow.
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My journey to Gibsons, near Vancouver in British Columbia, from San Carlos was a bit convoluted but ended up not as bad as I feared...   A car ride to the Guaymas 'Tufesa' bus station  in the evening, to catch the overnight bus to Phoenix... a two hour wait at a crowded Mexican check point (for drugs?) well before the US border... an unexpectedly good crossing of the border with friendly officials helping to speed up the formalities  (2am might have been part of the reason!) ... Bus passing by Phoenix airport two hours late, as my plane was due to be boarded (or so I thought, from clock display on the bus) ... hurried taxi to airport from bus station... "But it's only 9 o'clock" says the woman at the Information desk ... Phew!!  Just in time to check in ... so a very happy person unexpectedly caught her flight!!  Three hours or so to Vancouver, passing snowcapped volcanic Mt St Helens on the way:
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and a delightful 'float plane' trip over the Georgia Strait, from the Fraser River to Sechelt, just up from Gibson on the 'Sunshine Coast':
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I've been stayingwith good friends Tom and Maggie since then, in their house high up, overlooking the waters of Howe Sound and the B.C. Ferries from Horseshoe Bay, Vancouver, passing to and from the nearby Langdale terminal.                                                                                                                                  m IMG 4481
I've been blessed with great weather since arriving, although two days of rain early on were accompanied from 6pm to 1.30am one night by a power cut - a tall tree had fallen onto power lines ...  I drove in to Gibsons, a commercial fishing centre, for some lovely mussels in garlic - I had no power to cook or for lighting!   Tom and Maggie were off cruising around Georgia Strait for three weeks while I 'house sat' and explored the well-forested area around (in between working hard at my computer on organising the data from my travels, ready for writing)...  "Keep an eye out for the (black) bears around!" was the warning as I walked in the nearby forest or near the many blackberry bushes, fruit ripening nicely in the hot sunshine. 
There was a carnival atmosphere during the Gibsons 'Sea Cavalcade' over one weekend ... The Grand Parade was fun, with kids of all sizes scrambling for sweets thrown out from passing floats and dressed up groups of 'paraders' and the firework display was just great.
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I met up with friends, gave a well-attended Presentation on my sailing to the Gibsons Y.C. and Power Squadron at short notice, kept the garden plants watered ... and several deer came by daily to reap the crop!  Neighbour Hana took me recently on several enjoyable hikes up steep, forested Soames Hill for a great view over Howe Sound towards Gibsons and Keats Island and over to Gambier and Bowen Islands.
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One day I decided a plant beside the steps down into the garden badly needed a good water - big mistake!  I was well and truly stung - hot, painful stings on my head, body, arms and legs - by small, black, angry wasps - several times over each time -  hurt all that night, with long-lasting effects.  I couldn't understand what was happening to begin with, it being almost dark at that time... but with lots of loud yells of "Ouch!", I very soon dropped the hose, turned tail and ran for the safety of the house!! 
Another day, I decided to explore down near the shoreline beyond the ferry terminal - it amazes me how houses here are frequently built on a very steep rocky shoreline...  Long, steep sets of wooden steps are constructed to reach houses down a near-vertical slope.  I drove along a road which looked interesting.   The asphalt gave way to gravel and it became very narrow, with a steep drop down on one side...finally ending in a small 'turn-around' area above a few rooftops of houses by the beach below in a small cove.  
The usual enormously high trees of B.C. were all around, but no people, it being early afternoon.  On turning the car around to drive back, I managed somehow to get stuck on a slight sloping path meeting the main path...  No budging, whatever I tried to do....   On investigating, not only was the side of the car now sitting on the hard stony slope, but one of the front wheels had spun a bit, spitting out earth and stones, so we'd been lowered onto a smooth boulder just behind the wheel.     
What to do??   As I pondered on my situation, I spotted a long-handled, pointed shovel leaning against a nearby tree - great!  Spent a good two hours shovelling a lot of stony soil away from around and under both the car and boulder - how else could I hope to move either?    Triumphantly, I finally levered the boulder out of the way and was able to move the car - just as local resident Scott came home from work in time to guide me in manoeuvring the car successfully around in the very confined space.  Photo shows the result of my digging - a second boulder had to be dug out, along with stones and lots of gravelly earth, in order to move the first boulder - & the car!
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I stayed to chat with Scott and a couple holidaying in his house on the shore...  He'd spent six years re-building the house and looked forward to a daily swim after work in the lovely cove below.  Turned out that the shovel was only there because he'd been working on 'improving' the bit of road leading to the steps down to his house - so I was lucky!  I was amused to see bits of bright orange tape and thin yellow posts with red reflectors on their top marking the edge of the steep drop-away on the shore side of the road - no other protection!
I've seen a shoulder specialist in Vancouver who was encouraging - seemed to think that there was a very good chance my shoulder is mending OK but it will be more clear after I see him following a CT scan next week.  From Vancouver, I'll travel on to Saltspring Island to stay with a friend in Long Harbour for 2-3weeks, when I'll also hope to meet up with friends in the Sidney/Victoria area.  I'm trying to get writing on my 'story' - but the data-organizing has taken quite a time!  It feels odd not to have 'Nereida' nearby and to travel around on - I hope she's OK down in the heat of Mexico. ..............................................................................................................................................
Sedona Red Mountains, 'Montezuma's Castle' (misnamed - several hundred years before him!) and Tuzigoot in May:
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Making the hard top in Marina Seca San Carlos during June/July involved several stages & the framework they put up while making the mould made getting down below very difficult!
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Time to return to "Nereida" via Phoenix - work to be done in San Carlos!

On Friday 30th May, I'll be flying from London to Phoenix, en route to San Carlos in Mexico where neither of the two big jobs I'd been promised would be done for me in my absence have even been started.   It's really disappointing that the 'Mexico' lack of reliability and time-keeping has now extended to a yard which until last year had an excellent reputation for good, reliable work..
It's possible that one job has now been started (some simple sanding of the keel!) as a result of an email to the yard last week in which I presumed both jobs were  either complete or nearly so!   As a result, I'm taking back with me a random orbital sander, and organizing delivery of, sandpaper discs and mohair rollers,etc, to use in the imminent Coppercoat application - not difficult to appply properly but surface has to be prepared and coating applied in a precise way.   I'll not be using the yard for that - they've shown themselves to be incapable of following careful instructions  ....    Very disappointing...
I've been so busy while back in London.   The main reason for my return was, of course, my fractured collarbone which I heard should have had surgery early on - but the outcome of my hospital visit, four weeks after my accident, was a decision not to operate since the feeling was that the bones were now aligned parallel, although slightly overlapping, and seemed to be healing OK, whereas to operate at this late stage could not guarantee a better outcome.  The pain has subsided a lot and I'll need to exercise carefully to get back good shoulder function over the coming weeks ...
I'm looking forward to being back on board, even though on the hard ... There's so much work waiting to be done but it won't happen unless I'm there to do it or organize it!
More  news in a week or so...  London has been very rainy for the last week - it'll be nice to get back to sunshine and blue skies...

Quick trip back to London

Thursday 15th May 2014

Well, I'm unexpectedly in London (Ealing) after a fast trip from Mexico ..   Thanks to John (of 'Night Song') for a long but interesting ride from San Carlos all the way north to Phoenix, crossing border at Nogales.   Stayed overnight on Tuesday at a friend's house and we went for a long walk early next morning in Paradise Valley - mid-May is a perfect time of year to see the magnificent Saguaro cactus in flower everywhere and many other cacti and other desert plants were also in flower.

After a daytime flight to Chicago on Wednesday, I flew on overnight to LHR.   Airline staff in Phoenix and Chicago were all really helpful and understanding over my luggage and carrying difficulties.   Was also unexpectedly upgraded to very comfortable Club class seat on the busy overnight flight (but hold luggage got left behind in Chicago ... it's expected to arrive a day late, on Friday...!)

Reason for my sudden re-location was being told by surgeon friend in Florida that X-rays of collarbone fracture did not look good, it shouln't be left alone to heal, as I'd been led to believe by Mexican doctor, and it needed urgent surgical intervention if my left shoulder was to function well in the future  (I'm also left-handed).   My GP agreed, on seeing the same X-rays, that it needed looking at by a shoulder specialist - so I've an appt in London on Monday ....   In the meantime, I'm catching up on sleep and will make good use of my time here.

In my absence, the yard should be finishing sanding/preparing the boat everywhere below the waterline, ready for Coppercoat and Propspeed applicatons on my return, and making the GRP hard top / dodger to replace the present canvas sprayhood.   I hope not to be in UK for too long - I've far too much work waiting to be done on "Nereida" in Mexico!!Last Sunday, I had a lovely 15 ml trip out on the water  -  on 'Georgia', being taken around from San Carlos to Guaymas Marina Seca. I helmed a little and relaxed a lot!!

 m_Relaxed motor-sail on way to Guaymasm_Rounding headland SW of Guaymas Bay

Lovely sunny day and a vivid blue Sea of Cortez, some S swell, some wind... but motor-sailed most of the way...   Just avoided an unseen rock on final approach to dock... and then caught two buses to return to 'Nereida' in San Carlos soon after sunset - total cost of 17.50 pesos (~90p/$1.35)for over one hour's journey.

            m_Newly-sand-blasted - Marina Seca San Carlos          m_View into Marina Seca, S

The hard at Marina Seca (San Carlos) is dusty and hot during the day now, although nice and cool overnight....  Great view over nearby arid landscape to mountains close by.
Photo below shows the view from the Marin Seca entrance gates towards the 'twin peaks' of San Carlos - known in Spanish as the 'goat's teats'!   Very distinctive shape and highly useful for coming towards San Carlos Bay and harbour from seaward.

m_View from Marina Seca entrance to distinctive 'twin peaks' ofsan Carlos

20th April 2014 - Happy Easter!!

I'm on my way back to 'Nereida' after a one-week diversion to New England for an enjoyable time meeting up with 'ham' radio friends made during my circumnavigations.

From 2011 on, I'd frequently chatted to Rick (WA1RKT), in New Hampshire, and on my last way around, from February 2013 onward, I made contact with John (W1QS), Brad (W1RQ), 'Woody' (WW1WW) and Alan (K1ALL), so it was great to meet them face to face!

Rick and Janet took me for a drive around Lake Winnipesaukee (largest lake in their home state of New Hampshire), passing through typical, lovely, wooded New England countryside, with mainly wood-clad homes everywhere.  Unlike England, from where I'd just flown into New York, trees weren't quite showing any new leaves yet and, over my second night with them, the temperature plummeted and overnight snow glistened the next morning.  Photos show Rick's snowy patio, with some of his several aerials, and his 'radio shack' from where he often chatted to me when in the S.Atlantic and S.Pacific Oceans
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On Tuesday, we had a highly sociable dinner date.  (Photo shows (L-R): Brad, Alan, Rick and Woody.)

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On Wednesday I was taken to Freeport (where I found some useful small items for 'Nereida' at L.L.Bean!) to meet with John and be driven on to his old farmhouse in Maine, where he & Marcia keep several lovely horses - a lot of work!

We had a fascinating, but all-too-short, visit to the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath where the ultra-modern lines of the newest U.S.Navy frigate(?), being finished in the Naval Yard close by the Museum, were noted as being very 'weird-looking' and totally 'un-boat-like'!  I heard it was designed to be like the Stealth fighter - almost invisible to radar.

We also had a very interesting tour around the Lyman Morse yard in Thomaston with its very comprehensive facilities.    Stanley Paris's 'Kiwi Spirit' and her construction and equipment details gave us plenty to discuss with our knowledgeable host, Drew Lyman (son of Cabot).

The snow lay around in New England all that week, with temperatures well down.  All too soon, I was on my way back to a very mild New York, with its very helpful bus drivers, from where I flew on to Hermosillo (Mexico) via Phoenix, where I was to be greeted by friends Bill & Michaela, who were to drive me down to San Carlos.

I'd had a busy few weeks back in England, trying to catch up with friends, family and paperwork, in between organising items to bring back for 'Nereida' and attending two Dinners.    One was at the Royal Thames Yacht Club in Knightsbridge, a short walk from a famous store (!), where I was presented with the Royal Cruising Club's 'Seamanship Medal'
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and the other was on board the historic vessel HQS Wellington, (home of the "Honourable Company of Master Mariners") by the Thames Embankment, where I received the Ocean Cruising Club's 'Barton Cup'.   (I also heard that I had been recognised by Guinness World Records as being the oldest woman to sail solo, nonstop, unaided around the world!)

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Postscript

I regret to say that due to an unfortunate accident early on Monday, on my way to see 'Nereida' in dry storage here in San Carlos, I broke my collar-bone.   So I'll be rather restricted in my work efforts for a few weeks, although the yard will be doing some good jobs for me in the meantime - mainly preparing the boat underwater surface ready for applying Coppercoat, applying Propspeed and making a hard top (dodger) over the companionway to replace the present canvas awning.  Fortunately, of the many jobs waiting for me, several are small ones, so I should be able to get those done, once I'm feeling a bit better.   The police and ambulance service here in San Carlos were highly efficient and I was soon being X-rayed & seen by a good doctor.   I'm now being well looked after by kind Bill & Michaela.

More New York photos ... and news from Devon, England!

25th March 2014

A typical Devon cream tea - with thick clotted cream, raisin scones and fruity strawberry jam!
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A few more photos from my stay in New York at the impressive New York Y.C., where I received the C.C.A.'s Blue Water Medal on 7th March.  Photos (by CCA's Dan Nerney) give a good view of the famous N.Y.Y.C Model Room, its walls covered with half-models of boats dating from around 1840 onward, as well as scale models of the pairs of America's Cup yachts from its beginning to recently.
      2014 CCA Annual  175   2014 CCA Blue Water Medalist
          2014 CCA Annual  300     2014 CCA Annual  308
Here's a link to my CBS interview on 5th March in New York
The next day was beautifully sunny and I enjoyed Central Park, where the snow was rapidly melting....
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followed by a visit to the New York Metropolitan Art Museum to see, among many other interesting items, a performance by some North American Indian dancers and some beautiful bronzes of cowboys and indians in action (photos: Carol Ross):
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The week after my flight to London, I drove down to Devon.   I spent several days with friends, one evening giving a presentation to Salcombe Y.C. and one day enjoying a lovely walk through the countryside in Spring sunshine.    Devon is full of tiny narrow lanes, winding around the hilly countryside between deep banks, and the wild violets and primroses were all fully out, along with occasional cowslips and lots of daffodils. It's full of old buildings and sturdy stone walls & gate-posts, many about five hundred years old:
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The walk was to Slapton Ley and started from Stokenham.  It was in an area taken over by US troops in WWII to practise for the Normandy landings - but 749 were killed in a major disaster when German boats caught them one night, virtually unprotected as the troop-carriers were offshore practising.  It took Kevin Small, a local, many years to uncover the truth - along with recovering one of the many Sherman tanks that still lie on the seabed.  It's still not known where the US soldiers' & sailors' bodies were buried - in a field, I was told, somewhere near to Slapton Sands which they used because that coast is similar to the Normandy beaches used for the landings.  All the local families had been evacuated from their homes in the entire area of our walk to make way for the troops - a major upheaval for them, in already difficult times.

View W over Slapton Ley, looking over to Start Point in the distance and the beach (Slapton Sands) on the left.  The tank is beside Slapton  Ley.
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From Ensenada to Turtle Bay-Cabo San Lucas-Sea of Cortez -Austin - New York for the Blue Water Medal

February - March 2014

The highlight was flying to the impressive New York Y.C.
in Manhattan, to receive the Cruising Club of America's
prestigious Blue Water Medal on 7th March:  
                                                                                                    I stopped off on the way in Austin, Texas, to visit with Brad, NA5BD,
                                                                                                    and his wife Susan, who were lovely, kind hosts, and also Tom,
                                                                                                   N5TW, who had been so extremely helpful to me on my way around.
                                                                                                     To my delight &surprise, Tom proudly presented me with a signed
                                                                                                    "Official Recognition' of my solo nonstop sail, signed by the                          
                                                                                                    Governor of Texas!
                                                                           

 On my way down the Baja coast from Ensenada, I had stopped in Turtle Bay to meet up with cruiser friends Randy and Joy, on board 'Spirit of Hanalei' ... and Joy went to a big effort to make sure I celebrated St Valentine's Day with them in style:
    We spent an enjoyable two evenings together, along with several other cruisers in the Bay, before I left to sail (or rather motor, most of the way!) S to Cabo San Lucas - where, for a few hours, I had a great, although 'lively', sail around the Cape in the increased wind offshore.   The Baja coastline on the way south was very arid but often quite spectacular, with lots of hills and mountains, whereas the approach to Cabo was low and sandy, with the dramatic rocky outcrops for which it's justly famous, being unmistakeable, even from well out to sea.
                    

I had arranged to stop briefly in San Jose del Cabo, around from Cabo San Lucas, to meet up with another 'ham' friend I'd never seen, despite frequent radio contacts over several years.. Mike, KC0YHM, met up for a lovely evening meal after I discovered he was on my route while chatting on the radio earlier - but, WOW! - San Jose is SO expensive....They wanted to charge me $50 just for stopping on the fuel dock for a short time, let alone going for a meal ...
                     
 It took a lot of persuasion (and a look at my website) not to be charged... and they made quite sure I didn't stop overnight...  So off I sailed  in the lingering rosy dusk, towards La Paz - a good day's sail away, where cruiser friends were at anchor...  It was good to meet up with my good friend Steve on 'Westerly' and also with Robert on 'Del Viento', whose two young daughters are thoroughly enjoying the cruising life.  It got quite 'interesting' coming through the rather narrow, very long channel at night, bordered by very shoal water, towards the marina de La Paz where I stopped well after midnight - luckily spotting the fuel dock which was long and empty - all other slips seemed to be taken...   I had a very good, undisturbed sleep until late morning, followed by a lovely hot shower - one advantage of motoring!  Several people came by to greet me and I spent a very pleasant day at the marina and fuelled up before leaving again overnight - San Carlos was still a good distance away and there was no wind - flat calm, in fact (better that than the possible strong 'Northers' which could have been on our nose up the Sea of Cortez).

As I finally got close to Guaymas and San Carlos, I was met by several boats who came out to greet me - how nice is that?!  Friend Bill on 'Contigo' had put out the word that I was coming in ....   It was early still so, despite very little wind, I turned off the motor and sailed gently for a few hours - it was very pleasant not to be rushing for a change!

'Contigo' and 'Kharmaseas' keeping us company towards San Carlos:
                     

I was pleasantly surprised by the lovely rock formations and rugged scenery... so that's why I've heard so often that the Sea of Cortez is beautiful?
                       
 I entered San Carlos Bay and was soon tied to a dock...  It's a friendly, safe place and it's nice and warm!   Pitt, from 'Kharmaseas' came over and insisted on being really helpful, stowing sails and cleaning the dusty deck....  I was due to haul out, ready for being absent for several weeks, so his help was much appreciated - as were all the friendly people around.

My flight to Austin from Hermosillo was made far easier at the start with a lift all the way to the airport - many thanks to Chuck of 'Laila' ...   A flight change at Phoenix was enjoyable - I met up with Sid, K7SID, and his wife for a chat - we'd 'met' several times on a morning radio Net, on 7.155 MHz, when I often spoke to Gil, N2GG, and others - all very friendly!

Tom & Brad met me at Austin airport - it was great to meet Tom finally, after having been in touch for most of my RTW sail - he'd been so often very helpful, both with my emailing from deep in the S.Pacific and S. Atlantic, around the Horn, and also helping with 'voice' emailing over the radio when my computers had failed me in the final two months.   Brad is a friend of Tom and also a sailor - he'd organised two evening Presentations for me: at Austin Y.C. and the Radio Club - both were very successful and friendly events.
     
 Austin Y.C....
               

                           

On Saturday, I got to see around Tom's impressive array - FOUR towers, with all the  ancillary wiring and equipment - I certainly benefitted from it and can't thank him enough for all his friendly time and effort - and expertise!
                               

After the Austin Amateur Radio Club meeting:              I used Brad's rig to take part in a local evening VHF Net one day:

                                               

Sunday - back to Austin Y.C. for a big social event - what should have been their opening race of the season on the lake - 40ft lower in level than it should be... They've had to move the docks several times for boats to be able to be in deep enough water!!  I took the opportunity to mention how helpful Tom had been to me. (His rig is set up for instant emergency radio coverage in the region and has also just helped with the communications of a  Medical Mission to Honduras - they go annually to help the people there)  I also tried to draw attention to the SeaBC and its efforts in trying to encourage boaters of all kinds to collect information and statistics on sea bird distribution - something we cruisers are in a particularly good position to do...

                      

To Hutt's on Monday, for a special meal   ......                           ........     and a buffalo attracts my attention!

                      

I enjoyed a visit to the Museum of Texas, the 'Lone Star' state, getting a good idea of its history, .... lots of excellent exhibits:
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and then it was time, sadly, to bid my farewells and fly on to New York ....

.....where I met with Scott Rapaport who interviewed me about my Blue Water Medal award for CBS News (here he is editing the interview - I'm standing in the CBS  Newsroom where a lot of the news items are prepared.
         

Friend Rich, N2EYK, gave me a 'grand tour' of the CBS studios - the engineering side is all being constantly upgraded and they do a lot of their own development work - something I hadn't realised.   And everything is totally backed up so that should one item fail, another immediately is already on line, ready to take over seamlessly.  He showed me the four dedicated NFL studios - American football is pretty important to viewers!!

     

Friday 7th March was a great evening, preceded by another CCA dinner on Thursday - both very friendly events, culminating in my receiving the Blue Water Medal - see picture above, taken the next morning.

The facade of the New York Y.C. is imposing:                                and contrasts with this lovely spire, topping a modern building seen from W44th St:
                          DSC_4468                                                                                DSC_4470

I had the one day of sunshine and above-freezing temperatures on Saturday, to enjoy a lovely walk and lunch with friends in Central Park (i loved the 'Alice in Wonderland' bronze group the kids were all clambering over!) and a visit to the Metropolitan Museum.    We caught some American Indian dancing, just by a lucky chance, before heading off for a nice Italian meal.  Later, I ambled around Times Square and Broadway, very close to the New York Y.C. where I was staying, and popped into O'Donoghue's Irish Bar for some Guinness and lively Irish music before a late return to pack, ready for a flight to Heathrow early Sunday morning. (More photos in my next report)

                                             

I'm now in London, catching up on paperwork and writing - trying to beat sailing magazine deadlines - and hoping to see family and friends in between ....busy!   On 3rd April, I'll be receiving the Royal Cruising Club's Seamanship Medal and on 12th April I'm to receive the Ocean Cruising Club's Barton Cup - both major awards.... but both will be very friendly events, I'm sure.
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Photos from last year - leaving San Francisco in bright sunshine in November, to head under the Golden Gate Bridge towards Santa Cruz -
                              
where the pelicans, sealions and assorted seabirds were going mad, feeding on a vast shoal of tiny fish in and around the harbour entrance - aerators had been brought in to the harbour waters to try to avoid the fish dying from lack of oxygen, they were so numerous.

                           

                                                                                           

.........then we headed on S, past the typically dry, hilly California coast...

                                         

eventually past Pt. Arguello and Pt. Conception, towards San Diego.   There, several 'ham' friends came to visit 'Nereida' & a few of us went on to visit the carrier USS Midway - in particular, its  radio room.   The tour was arranged by Mark, AF6TC, with the help of Hal, KI2HAL, who kindly guided us around, ending with the enormous flight deck with its many planes and helicopters on display:

 Hal gave us a tour of all the radio equipment, a lot of it of historical interest and I had a chance to make a brief transmission using the Midway radio - the ship's Special Event call sign was NI6IW when it operated from the USS Midway Museum Radio Room on Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day December 7....
                                           
The switching was impressive - Susan, Mark and I couldn't get over how just many switches there were here!! Eric, WA7LNH, was pretty impressed as well!             
                                                           

Arrival in San Carlos, from Ensenada via San Jose del Cabo and La Paz

23rd February 2014   A long-overdue report...

Arrival back in Ensenada from UK, via San Diego, was late in January - and Navico's local Mexican experts immediately came to help sort out my VHF radio problems - very much appreciated!   Ensenada was warm in daytime but got very cold at night but Cruiseport marina was  notable for its warm, friendly community .   Leaving was delayed - an electrical fire on board was luckily averted when the starboard navlight was found to have shorted and burnt out, with wiring overheating as a result - a certain fire hazard if left.   More rewiring problems were dealt with and we finally got away, with lots of newly-made friends to say a regretful "Goodbye" to, on Wed 12th February - with Joey and Pete coming out in a dinghy to video my departure.

I decided to pause in Bahia de Tortugas where Randy and Joy were anchored and rafted up to 'Spirit of Hanalei'.   We had a great Valentine's party with two nearby boats and another enjoyable get-together the next evening with a new arrival - most of us knew each other from San Diego and/or Ensenada - typical of cruising!  The dusty village was explored - mostly subsisting on fishing and visiting cruisers, with only a few tourists visiting by land.  I needed to find the local Telcel shop - its large towers were easily visible inland from the fuel dock, where  a dinghy landing was made among large numbers of seabirds and their 'guano'...

The wind was often too light to sail, so the motor was turned on for most of the passage south, but occasionally the wind would get up nicely and I had a particularly good downwind sail one night, heading on S down past the thoroughly arid, desert scenery of the Baja California peninsula - with its often dramatic peaks and eroded sand-coloured hillsides.  I kept a look out for whales - but only saw dolphins, always a pleasure when they keep the boat company, leaping around.  Randy and Joy later went to San Ignacio Whale Reserve, not far S of Turtle Bay, and recounted being surrounded by large numbers of greys - an amazing experience, they said.

It's never good to be sailing to a deadline as I was, needing to reach San Carlos fairly quickly, to catch a flight out to New York via Austin, Texas, soon.  I passed Bahia Magdalena where I'd had the amazing experience in 2004 of leaving my overnight anchorage at sunrise, to be surrounded by  whales near and far - even diving under the boat as I passed close to them unavoidably.  This time I passed the entrance overnight and didn't stop, making instead for Cabo San Lucas - whose increased winds gave a vigorous, lively, thoroughly enjoyable sail , albeit in rough waters until rounding into its lee, where the wind slowly dropped away almost completely.   A local 'panga' with two tourists, clearly on a 'whale-watching' outing, came speeding up to me to ask if I'd seen any whales.  I was keeping well offshore but saw a cluster of pangas at one point closer inshore - a whale there, possibly?

Cabo San Lucas is renowned for its sport fishing but is very expensive so I didn't stop, instead making for San Jose del Cabo a short distance further N, on the inside of the Baja peninsula, where I was hoping to meet up with a 'ham ' radio contact I'd spoken to at times since 2007 from the S. Atlantic.  With difficulty, I persuaded the Marina office there NOT to charge me for stopping 2-3 hours while Mike, KC0YHM, and I went for a pleasant meal and chat in the old town.  $50 for a stop of even just10 minutes seemed rather excessive to my mind!

So I took off at 10pm, without my hoped-for short sleep beforehand, to sail on up the coast towards La Paz - actually a total motoring exercise in 2-4kt of wind... There was beautiful sunset on each of the two hot days it took to get there and lovely starry nights.  Again, I was only stopping in the hope of meeting up with cruiser friends - and managed two of three...   Robert of 'Del Viento', whose family I'd first met in Victoria, B.C., came by the fuel dock next morning in Marina de La Paz, where I had been fortunate to find a lovely long, empty space on arrival there in the dark the previous night.

I'd hoped to raft up to another friend's boat that evening, in peaceful Bahia Balandra, a short distance from La Paz town with its long entrance channel bordered by extensive shoals.  But the wind and sea had got up that afternoon and the small bay was open to the swell, so it was too rolly safely to raft up, as I'd hoped to.   I then found I had a problem removing the bowsprit and releasing the anchor-pin, although I later persevered with that, and finally succeeded in freeing the anchor ready for possible use in case I couldn't find an empty dock to tie to.   Steve, of 'Westerly', who I knew from my 2006 Single-Handed Transpac Race from San Francisco to Kauai, has cruised Mexico regularly since then but is hoping to explore more of the Sea of Cortez, as I do, once repairs and other works on "Nereida' are completed - in June, hopefully.  It was good to catch up over a meal before I left late in the afternoon to head N towards San Carlos,  with several islands passed on the way meaning only short naps were possible so as to keep a frequent watch.    Another windless passage, with hot sun in the daytime - but better than bashing into a 'Norther' which could have been a distinct possibility.

In La Paz it was nice to meet up with a lot of friendly cruisers and I had a lovely arrival in San Carlos where a small group of boats, headed by Bill and Micheila on  came out to welcome me in - it still feels rather odd when people I've never met before come up to shake my hand and greet me!   Having made good time, it was very good to cut the motor and sail very gently towards the dramatic rocky headlands on either side of the entrance to San Carlos Bay where the marina lies tucked away - it's quite a well-known hurricane hole.

I made a lot of radio contacts each morning and evening while on passage - often with people I've now met face to face!   I'll be hauling the boat soon, here in San Carlos, before heading to Austin for presentations to the Yacht Club on Friday and the Radio Club on Saturday.  I'm looking forward to visiting Austin - it's well-known for its music and Brad, NA5BD, and Tom, N5TW, (who helped me a lot with radio communications while I was circumnavigating) will be hosting me.  The following Tuesday, I fly into New York to stay at the N.Y.Y.C., ready for the Cruising Club of America's Awards Dinner on Friday 7th March - when I'll be receiving their 'Blue Water Medal'.

From New York, I'll be flying to London, to take part in an ITV Show - that should be fun!  And in April I'll be receiving the OCC's Barton Cup..... and at some point I'll be receiving the Royal Cruising Club's 'Seamanship Medal' So there's lots happening just now .... and lots of people being met up with...

Work on 'Nereida' that I'd expected to have finished by now is being put 'on hold' until my return.   Typically, friends Robert and Rose, whose boat 'Tillicum' has been totally stripped and refurbished here over the last year , are still busy - each project seems to turns into another unexpected one and they're running several months beyond their expected finish date.

(Photos to be posted soon....)

Ensenada and London

London, 9th January 2014

  London Boat Show Jan2014 - JS + Princess Anne (Click here for video)                                 Ben Ainslie Boat Show 8Jan2014  

Arrived in rainy, windy London on New Year's Eve and it's been nice to catch up with family and friends since then, as well as being able to visit the London Boat Show this week.   I've been privileged to meet with Princess Anne, Ben Ainslie (see photo above). Mike Golding, Geoff Holt, ...  and have had help with boat-related queries/items from several people - thanks to Andy of Andark Diving, Pauline of Henri Lloyd, Stuart and Karen of Commodore Sailing, Amber of Aquafax (Lewmar), among others.   The UK Boat Shows are always good places to discuss and get boat problems positively resolved!

Very many grateful thanks are due to Keith (in Newcastle) of British Airways - for kindly coming back to me with a change of flight, saving an expensive day-long bus trip down (and back up) the entire Baja peninsula to catch a flight to London from Cabo SL (San Diego is so much closer to Ensenada) - becoming a direct flight between San Diego and LHR, rather than having to change at LAX.

And more grateful thanks for the helpfulness and honesty of the ABC bus company of Ensenada/Tijuana and also heartfelt thanks to boaters Spike, Victor, George etc, in Cruiseport marina (Ensenada) who spent quite some time retrieving my missing suitcase & computer bag (thought I'd never see either again!) - the result of a difficult Mexico/USA border-crossing and misunderstanding on my part after catching a bus to Tijuana from Ensenada ..... "All's well that ends well!!"  The only problem is not having either my suitcase or my computer with me in the UK now (they're both back on 'Nereida') - so I've been unable to respond to a lot of emails I'd hoped to deal with while here.

I had a warm welcome from many cruisers in Ensenada on my arrival there from San Diego in December and Enrique and Jonathan in the Cruiseport marina office have been really helpful, both with my initial clearing in to Mexico and since then.   Having never been on a motor-bike before, it was an enjoyable experience to be driven as a pillion-passenger from Ensenada to Del Mar, just north of San Diego, for a short but enjoyable visit to a welcoming Polish family for their 'Wigilia' celebration on Christmas Eve.

The 'Yachtsman of the Year' award today went to Bob Shepton  for his recent trips through the NW passage with crew - often disadvantaged young people ... I'd been shortlisted along with Mike Golding.
Bob Shepton & Jeanne Socrates 2
The Trinity House venue across from the Tower of London was full of interesting history of the pilots, lighthouses, lightships and lights all around the UK (and at Europa Point, Gibraltar!) for which they are responsible and the Luncheon was an enjoyable event.   While there, I was pleasantly surprised to be told by the Commodore of the Royal Cruising Club of an unexpected award - their prestigious 'Seamanship Medal' - that they wanted to award me in March - but in view of my being in NY at that time, hopefully it can be presented later this year when I'm back in the UK - maybe September.   It was also announced at the O.C.C. Dinner (on Friday 10th Jan) that I'm to be awarded the Barton Cup in April - another high honour!

I've been rather put out to think that I'll be missing the 'Golden Oldies' awards event in February at Simpson's in the Strand, with Terry Wogan hosting what sounds like a fun-filled evening of laughs - they wanted to give me the 'There's Still Snap Left in the Celery' award !!!

I'm looking forward to my return to San Diego and on to Mexico with several useful boat items, ready for sailing around to San Carlos, in the Sea of Cortez, where I'll be busy sorting the boat out over the following few weeks (apart from my visit to New York at the beginning of March).

About ready to leave San Diego for Ensenada, Mexico

Difficult to believe I've been in San Diego for  so long.  I've been busy with boat 'projects' but have also enjoyed meeting and chatting to people, as well as giving three Presentations -  at the CCA's November Dinner at Newport Harbor Y.C., at South Western Y.C. where I am now for a few days until I leave for Mexico and also at San Diego Y.C. where I delayed leaving in order to be able to give a Presentation on 11th December and where I was berthed until Sunday afternoon.  As I was moving over to my new berth at SWYC around sunset, many brightly-lit boats, some with enormous inflatable Santa Claus's on board, were leaving for the Port of San Diego's Annual Parade of Lights.   I've had a warm welcome from several Club members here at SWYC - known as the 'friendly Y.C.' - and that's certainly been my impression!

On the Friday that Eric, WA7LNH, flew down from Seattle (bringing a blast of Arctic air with him), Mark, AF6TC, organized a visit to the 'Midway' and its radio room in particular, where our guide, Hal (KI2HAL, ex-radio-room operator), told us all about it.  Midway is an impressively large aircraft carrier, with a big variety of planes on show on its topmost deck, completed just in time to miss action in WWII!   We all had breakfast together, along with Mark's wife Susan (KJ6DIT) and a couple more 'hams' who came that had never met face-to-face with any of us before, but with whom I'd made contact on my way around earlier this year - Bruce (W6HTC) and Ron (N6XT).

Saturday 30th November saw a trip to Tijuana to visit the Baja Radio Club - a warm welcome from its members who greeted me and showed me over the clubhouse and 'shack' after a lovely typical brunch.   An enjoyable day but it took four hours to get back over the border!!

Last Thursday, early, I had a phonecall from UK - could I be present on 9th January in London?  - I've been shortlisted for the 'Yachtsman of the Year Award', along with Mike Golding and Bob Shepton...   Unbelievable news....  Especially taken with the 'Blue Water Medal' I'm being flown into New York to receive next March.

Tonight, I'm preparing to 'sail' (probably motoring!) to Ensenada - just 60miles away, so 10-12 hrs.   Paid a last visit (on my fold-up bike along the lovely foreshore footpath) to friendly Downwind Marine to buy items I've been needing - furling lines and new genoa & staysail sheets along with a few other things...  Sea of Cortez Guide included.   Cleared Customs yesterday, just N of the cruise ship terminal - a delightful experience - one of the nicest ever US Customs officials - thank you, Jeremy!!

From Pt Arguello to San Diego

Wednesday 27th November - Happy Thanksgiving (on Thursday) to my US friends!

San Diego has been mainly sunny during the daytime, getting very warm at times, in the midday sun,but the temperature plummets as the sun sets and it's been nice to have  been able to warm the boat up quickly with my heater.

Eventually had a lovely sail, after motoring away from Santa Cruz on 11th November, with wind having increased on 12th Nov, as we neared Point Arguello and then the nearby Point Conception - getting quite strong rounding Arguello.   But it swung and soon died once we were in the lee of Conception around sunset, with the bright lights of the several oil rigs in the Santa Barbara Channel directly in our path as we stayed just outside the shipping lanes on our way to Marina del Rey, with the Channel Islands in clear view not far away to the west.

The entrance to Marina del Rey (which is an area S of Santa Monica and Hollywood, full of marinas) is protected by a large breakwater which was lined with lots of pelicans and smelled strongly of decaying fish and kelp as we entered.    I stopped at California Y.C., just before 4pm PST on 13th Nov, for one night before moving over to the friendly Del Rey Y.C. where I was able to speak (at very short notice!) about my sailing to a meeting of the Association of Santa Monica Bay Yacht Clubs after they'd finished their evening's business.
 My computer was completely playing up next day, and the wi-fi was not very good, so I spent a very frustrating time, achieving very little, but in a relaxing, comfortable, spacious lounge area, with plenty of fresh coffee available. I was made to feel very welcome by Jo Goodman (who, when I gave him my boat card as we chatted, replied with a card simply stating: 'GOD' - telephone 'unlisted'!), who later introduced me to Bruce Kessler - well-known for his racing. film-making and more recently his sailing and power-boating.   Hollywood's closeness was apparent , with most people I met seeming to be connected in some way.
It was great to catch up with my Japanese classical guitarist friend Goh Kurasawa, who I first met in Zihuatanejo at their Guitarfest in 2005, and the next evening with a 'ham'/cruiser friend I'd not seen for a long time - Scott, N6ABC used to be the CalYC Winlink sysop before he got away cruising in 'Beach House'.
On my final morning at Del Rey Y.C., before motoring in yet another flat calm  to Newport Beach, I was welcomed by Jo, Bruce and friends to their usual Saturday morning joint breakfast - fresh coffee accompanied a gift to me of a large beigle smothered in cream cheese and smoked salmon - totally decadent but delicious!!

Newport Beach was all that I had feared it might be -basically a 'concrete jungle' beside lots of quite shallow water, with a near-desert, slightly hilly landscape backing it, albeit relieved by some lovely flowering succulents in a few places -not my favourite place so far, and not helped by an inexplicably unfriendly reception by the General Manager of Balboa Y.C, (where I'd previously offered to talk about my sailing) - in stark contrast to several of  his staff and members I met up with, who were very friendly and pleasant.    (I should explain that I had understood that they granted the 3 nights of free berthing often given by Clubs to visiting boats. especially if foreign, and so I'd hoped it might be possible for the single night I was unexpectedly informed of to be extended to a second night - a request which was turned down in a quite unnecessarily rude manner, along with the comment that lots of people had done what I'd done..!)
 Fortunately, I'd been able to meet up not only with some new boat friends but was delighted to meet with Tom, WA6TLL, brought by daughter Judy to visit on Saturday evening.  At nearly 90 yrs of age, he's still very active on the Pacific Seafarers Net and often helps cruisers with phone 'patches', via ham radio, to their families.    Sunday brought more 'ham' visitors - John, N6MJC, turned up unexpectedly, as I finished breakfast, having heard I'd come into Newport Beach, and then Gil, N2GG, with his family, also came along and took me off to spend a pleasant day with them, including a trip to look at his 'mobile shack' where we picked a few nearly-ripe grapefruit - this is California!

Early on Monday 12th November, ... off again, motoring in almost no useful wind - to the small Oceanside Y.C. - very helpful and happy to see us and the other boat that came in later.    It felt far more pleasant than Newport Beach, with greenery around and a pair of fish eagles spotted high up as I walked around the marina.   I could have stayed on but had a date in San Diego on Tuesday where I was expected at the San Diego Y.C.'s Cruise Fleet Dinner - arrived at just in time after yet another day of little wind, having needed to fuel up before finding my berth.   It was good to see friend Ed (first met in Dec 2004) and wife Percia and was warmly greeted by several other Club members at the Dinner.

Since then, I've met more friends here in San Diego- in particular, it was really good to meet up with Robert, WA6AMK, and Mark, AF6TC, having talked to them so much on HF all the way back, since 16th February, when S of the Indian Ocean, on the way from Africa to Australia.   Robert has been particularly helpful since our first meeting, taking me around in his car to get things done and sometimes diverting a bit to show me some of the sights around.

Time seems to be flying by with lots still to do... but I'm looking forward to chatting to the Junior sailors on Friday when they get back off the water and I'm giving a Presentation here at the San Diego Y.C. on 11th December.   It was ' Wednesday coffee and doughnuts' at Downwind Marine this morning - a chance to meet up with others headed down to Mexico around the same time and chew over mutual problems.   I went into the nearby loft to check on my sails - two genoas and the mainsail in for 'tweaking' - and yesterday I discovered the outboard engine needed a new cover gasket.... That's in addition to the engine needing a look at, along with the dinghy...

Moving on..

Thursday 7th November 2013

Up well before dawn to leave San Francisco - rather regretfully, since it has been a very pleasant stay with so many friendly SFYC members and staff. Many thanks to John Sanford for encouraging me to visit the club as his guest, although the club finally took over that role, thanks to their Deputy Port Captain's intervention. I look forward to re-visiting sometime.

The Spectra watermaker is now totally reconditioned, thanks to Bill & Darren, and I'm looking forward to using it in remote areas at anchor. I've had strict instructions to flush it through (easily done...) with fresh water after each use, to protect the membrane etc., but it's now 'pickled' since I don't need it while hopping down the coast to Mexico. I also had the genset looked at by Anders - he found the small diesel pump was slightly cracked and leaking - so I pulled out my spare to replace it immediately. The other good news was being offered a gift of two hardly-used genoas by Andy Fromm to replace my torn, worn-out one - we were chatting over a meal one evening and he said he had 26 sails in his garage which his wife, understandably, felt he should get rid of... He's a keen racer and just doesn't use the original cruising nor the older racing sails he'd accumulated. The hoist length was a perfect fit...

I've been busy organizing the aft cabin contents, all of which had to be removed for the watermaker service, and I hung two doors - which had been stowed in Port Townsend with Rob Parish for the last three years! I finished hanging them around 11.30pm last Saturday - just in time to enjoy the last of the Commodore's Ball dancing and music - after a suitable change of clothing! Tim helped me stow other bulky items in the forepeak yesterday - that's still waiting to be dealt with properly, but at least I'm now able to sleep in the aft cabin - first time for three years!

Had a lovely, sunny day on the water, motor-sailing initially in calm seas, south to Santa Cruz, with pelicans lined up on the breakwater as I left Belvedere Cove in the pre-dawn light and the occasional seal and sealion spotted in the water close to the Golden Gate as dawn broke over San Francisco and Alcatraz .

By early afternoon, after some solid motoring with light fog lurking just off the coast all morning and plenty of birdlife seen in the good-sized swell, the wind suddenly picked up as we were rounding Pt Ano Nuevo - to around 23kt! So we had a great sail for 2-3hours, until close to Sta. Cruz at sunset, when the wind died again... I managed to get in safely in the dark, through the shallows surrounding the harbour entrance at Low Water (!), with Brian Beers helping from on shore. (He brought me several delicious fresh items from his bakery)

I'd given a very well-attended, enjoyable presentation at the Tiburon Y.C. Friday week ago - in a lovely clubhouse, with excellent organization of the evening by Alice (ex-Commodore), helped by club members - Thanks for all your help and support during my stay, Alice!

It's been great to be able to catch up with old friends in the Bay area and also to make new ones during this stay.

Yesterday (Wednesday), I was guest of Zia Ahari (Rear Commodore, SF) at a CCA lunch meeting at Marin YC withTom Wylie, well-known boat-builder, as speaker - very interesting, despite a projector breakdown! Zia made the announcement that I was being awarded the CCA's 2013 'Blue Water Medal' - to be presented in NewYork next March - quite an honour! - and I'm looking forward to visiting NewYork for the Awards Dinner at the New York Y.C. - itself an interesting venue.

Wednesday of last week, I was visited by some radio hams - we'd spoken several times on HF radio during my RTW sail, but now we were able to meet up over lunch...Rusty, W6OAT has generously volunteered to be my 'QSL Manager' for all the many radio contacts made on my way around, confirming the contacts I've made, and Jim, K9YC, has been designing and organizing my QSL card - he lives high up above Santa Cruz, in the mountains, among big redwood trees which provide a superb support for his several high aerials!

SFYC - cold, foggy mornings..., warm, sunny afternoons...

Thursday 24th October 2013 - Belvedere Cove, San Francisco Bay
I've been made very welcome here at the San Francisco Y.C. - the oldest yacht club W of the Mississipi, I'm told. The current well-protected, sunny premises here in Belvedere Cove date from 1934, the Club having relocated from its former facility in Sausalito. The Yacht Club was founded in 1869 in China Basin in San Francisco.
Making landfall last Friday after a fast (6-day) offshore sail down from Cape Flattery, and being well settled in before the weekend, proved to be excellent timing - Friday evenings seem to be always very well-attended at the club, so I met a lot of members .   I was told all about the Leukemia Cup Regatta (the big sailing event of the year) due to take place on Sunday, with major fund-raising Auctions and Dinner (a mere $1,000 per ticket!) on Saturday  evening, and was encouraged to join Bob, Torill and Soren who were due to go over on the Committee Boat the next morning to Sausalito, to fuel up ready for the Regatta on Sunday.
The invitation turned out to be ideal for allowing us to get to the keel-laying ceremony (where I met up with friends Rob & LaDonna) in Sausalito on Saturday afternoon  for the brigantine 'Matthew Turner', It will become the San Francisco Bay area's Tall Ship and is set to be a major educational vehicle, enabling local youngsters (and 'oldsters'!) to take part in its construction and, in two years' time, its sailing programme.

                                          2013-10-19-ladonna-keel-laying-sausalito (photo: LaDonna Buback)

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The after-dinner speakers at the Leukemia Cup Dinner were Gary Jobson and Ben Ainslie - both great, experienced sailors, in their different ways!    I was thrilled to get the chance to meet up with 'Sir Ben'  and shake hands with him after being allowed to slip in to watch the two of them discussing the events of the America's Cup racing that Ben had been so involved in as tactician onboard 'Oracle', with Gary commentating so well for NBC.   (What an amazing turn-around... and what great videos of fast, aggressive racing - I finally got to see them on Youtube to appreciate how well covered and presented the racing had been!)   Ben brought his sailing jacket to the Dinner and it was auctioned off for $15,000 ....
The next day saw fairly light winds but enough for a total of 80 boats to enjoy the racing, with the start delayed slightly to let the morning fog disperse safely from the race course....     I was invited out to watch but already had a prior engagement at a CCA (Cruising Club of America) lunch which had been arranged by my kind host here, John Sanford.  The lunch meeting was thoroughly enjoyable and gave me the chance to meet several local CCA members (all experienced cruisers) and answer questions.   The rest of the day was spent in lovely sunshine, meeting and chatting with people, enjoying the music, barbecue and lively atmosphere.
I seem to be needing to see to a real mix of things ... Had a long telephone interview on Tuesday with a journalist for the RYA Magazine, preparing for a story in the Winter issue; I'm trying to sort out dealing with the damaged genoa (likely to need replacing); still trying to catch up with a lot of past emails (and trying to keep on top of present ones); slowly trying to get the boat better organised down below and seeing to different items on deck (there's chafe on several lines - replacements needed but there's nowhere really close by to do that); trying to complete an item on the use of Jordan series drogues for 'Yachting World'.

I also need to get to the watermaker under the aft bunk, after Zia Ahari (Rear-Commodore of SF CCA) organised meeting up with Bill Edinger who kindly offered to see to it.  The Spectra is a great 12V watermaker (I've the Cape Horn, with two pumps) and I've always found it to be reliable, but I've not treated it very well recently, so although it's still making water when it's run, it's almost certainly in need of servicing - but first I need to get access to it... the aft cabin is totally cluttered up with gear that has been stored off the boat for 2-3 years and is awaiting my attention...

I got side-tracked Wednesday - met up with a small group of women headed by Cissy, about to go out for a short sail in the Bay.  They persuaded me to join them on 'Q' - Glenn's lovely traditional-looking boat which he only uses for day-sailing/racing - but what fun!   We went over to Sausalito to look at several lovely old boats from the water (some had come over from the East coast just to be here for the America's Cup) and then finally found some wind and had a great sail until it was time to come in - we got going at over 8 kt a few times and I enjoyed taking the tiller for a bit.... great to have a self-tacking jib!
I'm finding it quite difficult to focus on work and repairs with so many friendly people around ...    it's so much easier just to socialize and/or relax!
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Some photos of autumn foliage - some lovely-coloured trees near the Royal Victoria Y.C.in October :
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Leaving Juan de Fuca Strait in a flat calm - sunset over Cape Flattery:
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and the view over to the north, towards the SW of Vancouver Island - near the Strait entrance:

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Friday 18th October -Day 7 - landfall at Belvedere , close by Tiburon, at the San Francisco Y.C.

Friday 18th October 2013

I'm writing this from a sunny, warm  Belvedere Cove, on the Tiburon Peninsula, in San Francisco Bay, where I'm tied up at the San Francisco Y.C. with a pretty, steep, tree-covered waterfront area in view.

m_IMG_4102 View of Tiburon from sunny SFYC dock in Belvedere Cove
After strong wind picking up overnight, making me reef right down in order to slow down from 7-8 kt and avoid possible entry with a strong ebb current, the wind suddenly died away totally on getting closer to the entrance channel to the Golden Gate and there was thick fog.... Motor on! Useful to have the radar, as well as AIS, on display to help avoid the big ships around, as well as several fast, small fishing boats heading out to sea which only showed up on radar or when within several boat lengths away.

I kept well off to one side of the main shipping lanes leading toward the GG Bridge - which was almost completely hidden from view until we reached the Bay area itself.
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We passed close to fogbound, rocky-but-steep-to Points Bonita and Diablo.  Then the fog cleared as we rounded the Golden Gate CG station and Point Cavallo.
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It was bright and sunny to the N of the bridge & on the E side of the Bay, but Alcatraz, SF city and everywhere to the S were still hidden in the thick fog bank, with little of the bridge showing except the N end leading to Sausalito and the top of the N and central piers.

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Got a little sleep overnight before we got close to the main ship channel so I'll get to bed early tonight - in the meantime, enjoying a nice long shower! Had a good long chat over coffee with John Sanford and his friend Bob, who both met me & took my lines on entry. I've already had to discard a layer or two - it's definitely a lot warmer here than in the Pacific NW and at sea on passage.

I'll be busy catching up with urgent boatwork & emails (still lots!), in between relaxing and seeing some friends here. I'm looking forward to making use of my fold-up bike and getting some exercise during my time here.