If you would like to subscribe to my RSS feed, you can click here

S/V Nereida sails around the world

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...

                       m AISScreenShot6-7July2013    

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.

                                          m IMG 4458

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.

      m DSC 0019        m DSC 0020

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
  m IMG 4462 13July Sonoran desert starts to green up after heavy rains   mIMG 4446
      m IMG 4448   m DSC 0012
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.
                                           m DSC 0022
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:
                                         m DSC 0023
and a delightful 'float plane' trip over the Georgia Strait, from the Fraser River to Sechelt, just up from Gibson on the 'Sunshine Coast':
 m DSC 0025 m DSC 0033    m_DSC_0036.jpg m DSC 0043 m DSC 0046 m DSC 0050
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.
                                           m IMG 4490
                           m IMG 4492
                            m IMG 4503 
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.
                         m DSC00768 2  
                         m DSC00778
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!
                                m DSC 0059
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:
m IMG 2831 
m IMG 2832 
m IMG 2842 
mIMG 0031  mIMG 0039  
   mIMG 2911  m IMG 2912
                    m IMG 2920  
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!
m IMG 4420 m IMG 4423
 m IMG 4430   m IMG 4421
   m IMG 4432  m IMG 4440
m IMG 4442  m IMG 4443
m IMG 4445 m IMG 4454
m IMG 4455 m IMG 4458

Hot work on the hard...

24th June 2014 - from Marina Seca, San Carlos, Mexico

I've been busy since my return but it's baking hot here (35C/95F in shade) from 8 a.m. onward - I've been getting up early, to start work while it's cooler - often around 5:30 am!! By midday, it's difficult to do anything much - above or below deck... (and painting, epoxy work & varnishing is impossible!). It gets very tiring trying to get work done in the heat of day and I'm drinking loads of water and fruit juices. Some people have installed air-conditioning - lucky! There's a good fan above my main bunk which makes for a reasonable sleep overnight and I eventually managed to rig some sunshade, making a big difference on deck. Work is going very slowly, with collar bone problem not having helped (even now, it often still aches) and even the Mexicans slow down in the heat, not surprisingly. It's so hot that the laptop starts overheating & misbehaving during daytime. We're in a desert here!

A couple of weeks ago, the steering wheel was removed to expose the totally rusted/useless/ 'exploded' bearings - had three very knowledgeable and experienced guys helping, with great difficulty, to remove the steering components and take everything apart - bad corrosion helped by mix of aluminium and steel in a poorly-designed system with little or no anti-seizing grease used originally - no wonder steering had been difficult - amazing that I was able to steer at all! A local good metal worker in the town of Guaymas nearby had to deal with some damage unavoidably caused to some items during removal of the steering system shaft and bearings and I also had to find the local bearng specialist to replace one bearing I didn't have a spare for...

The keel is looking good after a lot of effort by yard workers Sergio and Edgar who have stripped off all the old anti-fouling, faired the lead keel and its join to the GRP stub and then coated everywhere with epoxy. I sanded some parts myself - including the propellor and shaft, ready for Propspeed to be applied later. The plan was immediately to apply the Coppercoat in the early morning, around sunrise.... but the heat, even so early, has put that plan on hold until October. In the meantime, the epoxy is reacting to the intense sunlight, so I'll have to cover it up during the 3-4 months in dry storage.

I managed to sunburn my back while dealing with the starboard forward lower shroud that had broken loose on my way down the South Pacific towards Cape Horn in December 2012. All I had to do was undo a connector, loosen the rigging , replace the shroud protector, tension the shroud correctly and secure a few split pins - but I managed to replace the protector upside down - so had to undo and re-do a lot of work - all took a time in the burning midday sun with no shade over me - not good!

The yard workers are presently making a hard top in place of my canvas sprayhood... Glass fibre is about to be applied, after a long time preparing the 'mould' - mostly in wood, with Formica covering, resulting in my having to perform a 'limbo dance' in order to access the companionway steps to get down below...

The good news is several cruiser friends here being helpful and the Mexicans generally being cheerful and friendly - although timing is not their forte!  There are many other jobs still waiting...   many as a result of my recent ocean voyaging...  Rough seas are tough on a boat!

I gave a well-attended Presentation on my solo sailing recently in 'Tequilas' with a rigged-upcloth for screen and Pitt and Ron supplying essential equipment and generally being very helpful - it was good to enjoy the air conditioning!

Later last week, I decided to take a break from being constantly in the dusty, hot workyard and went over to walk around the marina area after my shower - and enjoyed some live music... 'Los Tres Amigos' grew to 'Los Seis Amigos' when two more guitarists and a harmonica-player joined the group! I later had a lovely walk back in the light of the full moon.... San Carlos feels very safe. The evenings after sunset are definitely the best time - a lovely cold shower and a walk in the night air are very welcome.

While waiting for a ride down from Phoenix/Tucson area back to San Carlos, I heard that old boat-friends Karen and Bryan were not far away - so had an unexpected, very enjoyable trip to Clarkdale, with visits to the fabulous red rocky outcrops of Sedona, old Cottonwood, the old Native settlements of the (mis-named) Montezuma Castle and Tuzigoot and a fascinating high lake (equally mis-named Montezuma's Well!) caused by upwelling of underground water - a resource for locals from time immemorial...

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

On Tuesday, we had a highly sociable dinner date.  (Photo shows (L-R): Brad, Alan, Rick and Woody.)


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'
        IMG_4362       IMG_4372

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!)



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!

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....
          DSC_4474      DSC_4486      DSC_4495
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):
          DSC_4512      DSC_4574      DSC_4615

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:
IMG_4314    IMG_4316    IMG_4327

        IMG_4322            IMG_4323


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.
              IMG_4336           IMG_4345
                  IMG_4344        IMG_4344a Exercise_Tiger_28Apr1944

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).