10-10-2014 – Santa Rosalia, Baja California, Mexico

We’ve now been in Santa Rosalia for more than two weeks, and we’re antsy to be moving again.  We had expected to leave last weekend, but another hurricane (himicane?) Simon had other ideas.  Although initial forecasts sounded like it would stay small and away from the Baja peninsula, it grew rapidly into a category 5 storm and turned towards the central peninsula.  Before it came ashore, though, it passed through some colder waters and some wind shear which caused it to break up quickly.  Although it came ashore very close to us in Santa Rosalia, we ended up with nothing serious to worry about, a bit of strong wind and rain.  Now we’re ready to resume our journey south.

During our stay here, we spent a lot of time at work.  We set up our portable workbench on the back deck and pulled out the power tools.  One goal was to deploy as much of our “wood-pile” as we could.  The largest portion of this was given to Carlos, the carpenter we had hired to change out the old sliding door in the pilothouse for a hinged, arched door that was removed from the forward stateroom in 2010 when we reconfigured that area to add a chain locker.  This sturdy teak door was custom made for this boat, and we were loathe to throw it out.  Now it’s in a very visible place in the boat, and will do a much better job than its predecessor at keeping the weather out.  One major design feature is that we had Carlos build the frame in three separate pieces, an arch overhead and two removable posts on either side, so that we could widen the doorway to accomodate something like a washing machine.  It turns out that this design also made it much easier to carry the doorway out to the boat on our dinghy. 🙂  Unfortunately this job was more challenging for Carlos than we had expected.  He does a lot of furniture, but uses soft woods which are then painted.  The wood that we provided him is very hard and requires some different techniques, and since we love the wood grain, we don’t want to cover it over.  His blades needed sharpening more often than he was used to and he broke a number of bits when screwing things together without pre-drilling large enough holes.  Overall he did a fine job, but it took a lot more time than he expected and we had to consult with him more frequently than he is used to.  We will need to do a lot of the finish work, such as plugging the screw holes and fine-sanding the surfaces before oiling the wood.  He provided a nice set of hinges, but we need to find a latch set that we like – for now we mostly leave the door open for ventilation anyhow!

Carlos in the Shop

Installing the Doorframe

Our New Doorframe Arch

Carlos is a sweet man, 63 years old with 6 kids (2 of them still at home).  He’s a Jehovah’s Witness, which means that each day we worked with him had a component of “sharing” about the tenets of his faith. (Did you know that Adam lived to be 1000 years old, or that Jesus was a Jehovah’s Witness?)  He has been doing carpentry work for over 40 years, and enjoys mentoring “his boys” in the shop.  He spent a few years in his youth living in Michigan, so he has a good grasp of the English language, allowing us to have much more significant conversations with him than our rudimentary Spanish allows when we’re purchasing groceries, for example.  We enjoyed dropping in on him just about daily, to check on the progress of our various projects.  In the interest of full disclosure, though, I have to admit that there was a cute puppy chained outside the shop that we also liked to visit.  He belonged to one of the young men who work for Carlos, but there wasn’t much love lost there.  🙁  So we got a nice dose of puppy love whenever we came by and said hi.

After finishing the door project, we had four more smaller projects that we wanted Carlos to help with, but there were only a few days in which to do them.  Somehow he managed to get all the work done, and the boat is feeling much more “complete” than before!  He built a cabinet for the aft head, complete with back and side walls and a hinged door.  We assumed that he would build the door in his shop but build the frame in place, so we were surprised when he delivered a fully-assembled cabinet!  Fortunately we only had to remove one of the two doors along the way.  We screwed the cabinet in place and created a few trim pieces to make for a finished look.  The other projects that Carlos did for us were all cabinet doors, located in the galley, in the forward head and in the office, to enclose the sewing machines.  There’s a little bit of finish work to be done there as well, mostly to sand and oil the beautiful wood surfaces, but each room is already nicer.  While Carlos was working on the main door and the cabinet, we installed more flooring – on the floor, if you can imagine that!  The aft head got quite a facelift, between the new cabinet and the flooring, but wait, there’s more!  We also built a nice surface for a settee in there, which had been covered with the same carpet as the floor, and replaced a strip of LED lighting which had dimmed over time.  The room is now much brighter and much prettier with all the rich wood-tones on all of those surfaces.  Dan also replaced the old incandescent bulb in the forward head with several strips of LED lighting, so now you can actually see yourself when showering or looking in the mirror!  🙂

But the last two weeks hasn’t been all about carpentry.  The aftermath of Odile has played strongly into our activities as well.  And Lungta has had another opportunity to save the day. 🙂  One of the boats that went aground here in the Santa Rosalia harbor was a 45′ power boat called Sun Hunter.  We had seen various bits of activity over several days.  One day as we walked past the wharf we noticed that the fire department was out there helping pump out the interior with some big pumps, but when we walked back everything was quiet again.  Another day there were two or three pangas  tugging on some lines tied to the stern of the boat, trying to pull it into deeper water.  Several people were running around on deck pointing and calling out suggestions and bits of information, but it looked like they weren’t making much progress.  Sun Hunter weighs 22 tons, so it’s a pretty substantial boat.  We dinghied over and offered to help out on the high tide of the next morning, and they enthusiastically accepted.  So we pulled out some really beefy lines (the same ones we’ve used previously to help out Libra and Flying Dragon).  The next morning, we backed the boat up in the direction of all the activity, letting out more and more of our anchor chain.  We tied our two lines end-to end, attached one end to a big cleat on our back deck, and handed the other out to a dinghy who ferried it over to the Sun Hunter.  We all stayed in radio communication while the pangas pulled the stern backwards and Lungta pulled the bow around to point towards the deeper water.  This plan came together beautifully, and within 20 minutes Sun Hunter was floating again in the middle of the harbor.  We retrieved our lines and pulled in our anchor chain, settling Lungta back into place (although the spot was somewhat different, since we’d stretched out that anchor chain in a different direction than before).  During this time, the winds were picking up, until the movement of the Sun Hunter was more from the wind than from the half-dozen small boats circling around.  The goal was to move her over to the new marina and tie her up there where the owner  Jim could begin the major job of cleanup and repair.  Although it felt like a bit of a three-ring circus, with several different plans/ideas active at any given point, it all came together nicely with a small community of line-handlers on the docks, dinghies (and a panga) acting as tugboats and “several born leaders” calling out orders.  Jim was very happy to be back aboard, and he took everyone out to a local Chinese restaurant to celebrate.

Moving Sun Hunter

Turning Sun Hunter

In the last posting, we mentioned a single-hander who was not quite so lucky during the hurricane.  She lost her boat, her home, when it went aground about 40 miles north of Santa Rosalia, but was picked up, along with all she could carry, including her cat, by another passing cruiser and brought to the marina.  The next day they were ready to have their boat back to themselves, and we welcomed Mary to join us for a couple of weeks while we traveled down to Loreto.  She has been curious to see how different our lives are on this big boat than hers was on the smaller one.  She’s used to being alone much of the time, so she has alternated between holing up in the forward stateroom reading with her cat snuggled up nearby and enjoying lots of conversation, which understandably tends to focus on immediate needs and short-term plans.  But we’ve also enjoyed hearing stories of her past, which included a single-handed trip around the world.  She even wrote a book about her travels, and has shared a copy of it with us.  We’ve been enjoying reading about her experiences and dreaming/planning some of our own!

There’s still a bit more wood on our deck, and several more projects nagging at us, but it’s time to move on with the next chapter of our lives.  We’ll move from the Santa Rosalia area towards Loreto, spending our last few weeks in the anchorages of the Sea of Cortez. 

P.S. Yesterday we took a short hop across the channel to Sweet Pea Cove, on Isla San Marcos.  We had a gentle sail over, and arrived with enough time to go for a nice snorkel adventure on the north of the island, where we had loved so much when we passed by earlier this season.  Here are a few photos from that adventure:

San Marcos Cave





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