Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Leaving San Blas

Posted by Suzi on Dec. 30:
Today we are leaving for a little town down the coast called Chacala where there is clear water, good snorkeling off of the point and more water time to be had. It has been wonderful being here and sharing the experience with Virginia and Richard; it has been a great way to look at the culture and feel the good vibes. The people in this town have been really friendly and helpful, and they seem to be very happy doing whatever needs to be done to keep life going. The mercado tells me they have plenty of good food and life seems very healthy. One more trip into town this morning to the bank and mercado. Mandy is being varnished by Richard and Virginia this week so they will have to catch up with us somewhere down the road; I'm sure that will happen.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Still in San Blas

From Dec. 28 e-mail:
Can't believe we have already been gone a month and we have been here in San Blas for over a week! It seems like we keep finding reasons to stay a few more days: outer villages and coffee plantations to see, waterfall hikes, birdwatching, exploring the town more thoroughly,and just going to the mercado. Walked into town from the marina early in the morning and found everyone setting up for the Saturday flea market. Found a scrumptious fruit cup loaded with fresh papaya, watermelon, orange, and jicama sprinkled with chili and lime. Yum! Booths with clothes, tools, toys, etc. lined the street, along with food to eat. Downtown there is an indoor mercado with fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, beans, and any other items you might want. It is bustling with business from 5AM to 2PM everyday. Eating takes place in the center of the mercado and the food is delicious. We had huevos and enjoyed the experience immensely. Colorful, lively, and a wonderful way to replenish our supplies for our next adventure.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas in San Blas

Left: Sidewinder in her holiday finery, David with his dorado.
Below: Excerpts from an e-mail from Suzi received on the morning of Dec. 25-

We are still in San Blas with the plan of leaving in a couple of days. We started Christmas Eve with Richard and Virginia, rowing into the little yacht harbor where we were given a slip to help us after having welding done at the fuel dock. We had a nice Çhristmas Eve dinner at Mike McDonald's restaurant and there was another large table full of cruisers who are also anchored in the estuary. We have been the only boat in the harbor, since they just opened on Tuesday. David's gift from them was a blow up crocodile so that he could slowly rid himself of his terrible fear of crocodiles. We will include pictures this afternoon when David comes into town with me. We swam in the tiny pool at the harbor facility and then took showers. We went down to the boat and made margueritas for starters, then walked into town. After dinner we made our way to the basilica and attended a very unorganized Catholic mass (just the beginning of it actually) complete with a stray dog walking ahead of the priest when he entered to begin the ceremony. The streets were packed with children and families partying, still trying to sell goodies for presents, selling food, and enjoying the little carnival in the town square. The entire town was going crazy and the night air was filled with different kinds of music. They love their music. As we walked back to the boat, we enjoyed strolling by the many parties full of excited children and festive families. The partying continued on into the wee hours of Christmas morning. It was a bit different than what I had expected (a somewhat more spiritual Christmas Carol experience ) but it was very fun feeling the festivities.

Christmas day was filled with David working to polish the welding work, me doing laundry at the facility (another funny story) and finally, a hike with Richard and Virginia up to the old Spanish fort and basilica where Longfellow wrote his famous poem of the San Blas Bells. It felt great to hike. We found a shortcut up through a hillside neighborhood on a jungly path straight up the hill and then took the road back down through other neighborhoods. We stopped for an afternoon beer and smoked fish snack. We made our way back to the boat where David was waiting. He took the afternoon off, and we cleaned up for Christmas dinner on Mandy. David and I motored over, boarded, and were met with Christmas music, good smells, and a tiny tree Virginia had decorated with shells and earrings. Wish I had a picture of it. Sidewinder, too, has Christmas LED lights which are very beautiful and I think we all did a great job of being in the spirit and the moment!

Excerpts from an e-mail received on the evening of Dec. 26:

David and I came into town this afternoon around 5 and are still hangin' like everyone else in the square. After siesta the town comes back to life. It's quite fun to watch the people and pick up on the energy here. There are lots of cruiser families here right now and they are also fun to talk to.

Suzi then goes on to describe a jungle cruise; I am still waiting for the photos that were to accompany this e-mail. - K.
The boat ride started early in the morning at 7:30 and we were the first boat to leave the dock. We glided through the inky mangroves and began spotting birds right away: a forest pelican, Pico de Bole, an Angringa, king fishers, a Calandia Nest, Blue Herons, egrets, a Tiger Heron. The falcon (or Hawk) was a snail eater called a Tego Colo. As we moved through the terrain, the vegetation went from mangroves to grasses, along pastureland, and then wound into the jungles along pastureland. We saw three crocodiles in the wild, along with turtles and beautiful blooming red bromeliads in the exotic trees and spider lilies lining the shore. Our boat stopped at a small parque where they raised crocodiles. It was amazing to see crocs really close. Richard was quite amused by David's fear of crocs, and we laughed a lot at croc jokes. We stopped at a beautiful freshwater spring as well and enjoyed our magical morning immensely. As we wound our way home, we saw many boats and were thankful for the tranquility of the early morning ride. We spotted a baby crocodile who seemed to be smiling as we ended our adventure in the wild.

We hitched a ride into town for an e-mail session and caught a taxi back out to Matanchen Bay in time to have a magnificent plateful of fish, shrimp, and octopus made with garlic and yummy sweet hot sauce served with fresh tortillas, rice, guacamole and chips along with cold crisp Pacificos. We were all stuffed by the time we hopped into the dinghy to motor back to our boats for sunset. The pictures of us at the restaurant say so little of how special the on-the-beach restaurants are on the bay. Fun times!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

San Blas

I received this e-mail from Suzi this afternoon. -K.
We're safe and sound in San Blas!!!! It took us two full days to do the crossing with some great wind and some crazy seas. As we left Cabo Wednesday afternoon, the winds were light and the sunset was just beginning. We were excited to get away from the craziness of Cabo and head out to sanity but were also a little tense knowing the winds were going to come up on Friday with the possibility of 20 to 30 knots in the afternoon. We were anxious to make good time and possibly get there before the shit hit the fan. We motor sailed and it felt great. David dragged a line behind hoping for his first fish, and I went below to start dinner. Suddenly David yelled, "Suzi, slow the boat down!!!! Hand me the gaff!" The beautiful golden, blue, green spotted Dorado was soon gaffed after fighting for his life. What a beautiful fish he was, and of course, I felt immediately sad. Oh well! We have been feasting on the yummy morsels since then, finishing with a wonderful evening with Richard, Virginia, Tony, and Cindy on Sidewinder last night in Mantanchen Bay.

As we continued our crossing, we shut off the engine and sailed most of the night although the wind was rather light. Early in the morning, after jibing twice trying to fill the sails, I turned on the engine and we began motorsailing once again. During my next watch, while motoring with our trusty autohelm doing the work, I was visited by ten dolphins who put on a 35 minute show as they rode the wake at the bow. I crouched down to get as close to them as possible and they just continued to vie for their rightly place closest to the rush of the bow, waiting in line for their chance to propel through the water at lightning speeds (or so it seemed) I felt very fortunate to have them stay so long and have so much fun while showing me their incredible talents! At the same time, a beautiful hitchhiker bird who had been with us for hours was on the bow pulpit wondering what all the fuss was.

We motorsailed for hours on Thursday and finally were able to turn off the engine, once again, basking in the peace and quiet of the waves and gentle wind. With hopeful anticipation of building afternoon winds, we proceeded to reef the main and settled in to have fresh Dorado for an early dinner. Rice, cabbage salad, and white wine helped us celebrate David´s catch and just as we began to eat the delicious meal in the cockpit, wind began to grow. We finished dinner, cleaned up, and off we sailed halfway to our destination. As the sun set (another gorgeous one) winds grew. I slept for a while and David watched. By the time my watch began, winds were gusting up to 12 knots. With the course we needed to steer, we were right on the edge of comfort, sometimes coming up too high but mostly Sidewinder slid well at 6 knots. The black night was well lit with stars galore but it was difficult to get a sense of where the waves were coming from. the next couple of hours were gusting up to 15 and it felt like we were in 25knots of wind in a washing machine. Waves were coming from every angle; in fact, before my watch, we got hit by a wave which came into our bunk with ease, waking me up with a splash. As I ended my watch at midnight I was really hoping the winds would die to about 12 knots even though we were flying more than 7 knots. Luckily the seas calmed down and the wind settled down and the rest of the time on our way to San Blas was wonderful. We sailed a lot and loved the idea that we were the only ones out there with no land in sight for hours and hours. Blue water is intense, as well as the feeling of being at one with the elements, or at least trying to be!

Friday afternoon we arrived in San Blas, motoring for a few hours to replenish the batteries and then sailing the last hour. The gale force winds never appeared, luckily, and we were very excited to enter the majestic bay which welcomed us to the tropics with calm waters, warm gently light wind, warm water, and sweet smelling land. Yippee! Yesterday the slavedriver captain David had us washing and primping Sidewinder from head to foot. By 1 pm we were exhausted and decided to explore the land. We took the dinghy in and met Mandy`s crew in la playa, ate some fresh coconut with hot sauce and lime juice, drank beer and walked down the road lined with little restaurants for miles. Late in the afternoon we felt the no-see-ums and walked briskly back to dinghy quickly back to the boat with our coconut husks ready to burn to steer them away. It was quite successful, and we got ready to have our friends come over for our last Dorado feast. David needed to celebrate his catch one more time. He invited a couple over from the little homemade sailboat not too far away and the 6 of us enjoyed life together one more time, eating, drinking, and enjoying. Today has been a San Blas day, and we find this a delightful town with a great central plaza and little restaurants, shops, carts, market goods galore. We'll bring the camera tomorrow and add some pictures to help everyone share in our experience. David's first thought today was that it was about time to begin enjoying what is cruising was all about. I think we now get to slow down a bit more and enjoy this everyday vacation. Yippee.

Phew! That was a lot to write and I feel like I should have written it beforehand and attached it like I did before. Just didn't have the time to do it before right now. We are sitting in an internet cafe off of the main plaza after just having lunch. Life is good. Please send my love to everyone. I miss my girlfriends the most.
Love you, Suz

Monday, December 15, 2008


This morning I received a phone call from Suzi, who sounded ecstatic. We discussed the manic-depressive nature of their trip: from tears and frustration when things go wrong to complete satisfaction and tranquility when things go as they should. Fortunately, the latter surpasses the former. Suzi also managed to e-mail her own version of the trip thus far along with the above photos. Some of this may be redundant, but it's all in her words rather than mine (except the brackets). - K.

Hello to all of you who might wonder where in the world did we go? We had no idea how difficult it was going to be to communicate, since for some reason our sailmail is not connecting. So while we are here in Bahia Santa Maria, I decided to begin our blog update in hopes of finding a place to get on-line in Cabo, a few days away from here. So far our trip has been challenging, exciting, intense, relaxing when sailing in 10 knots of breeze, especially at night, and fun when we are not having to troubleshoot and fix whatever seems to be going wrong. Soooo this is truly an adventure; we never know when the wind will pick up or die out or which sails are best for the conditions and destination we have in mind, and we have discovered that both of us have an incredible amount to learn!

The weather has been a bit different each day; some days have been sunny and calm, some cloudy and extremely windy. Sidewinder definitely loves to sail, especially if the wind is between 10-15 knots with the waves pushing us. Reaching is what she does best, especially since we are not quite sure how to best sail downwind with our sails. We left Mission Bay and arrived in Bahia de Tortuga three days later for our first run. It is there that we met a local landowner who ran a water fuel/taxi service and whose wife fed us our first authentic huevos rancheros on the beach. [See above photo.]We enjoyed speaking as much Spanish as we could and he was very patient, helping us with many words. We walked into town and found an internet cafe, along with some wonderful people on a boat named Mandy.

After being in Turtle Bay for several days, we left for Bahia Santa Maria, another several day trip. When the wind died in the middle of the night, we decided to turn East and head for Abreojos. I really wanted to see some whales, and David didn't feel like motoring all the way to Mag Bay. We thoroughly enjoyed two days in a peaceful bay near the waves we have heard about, thinking of even staying one more day to really check out the surf. Met a great guy who knows Killer Dana Gary [Wright] and has had a house there since the 1070's. In the middle of the night the wind began to howl, and by dawn the bow roller had twisted and bent. David was bummed to say the least, and we decided to get out of there as soon as possible. It was pretty crazy trying to take the engine off of Worm (our wonderful new dinghy) and then to try to bring up the anchor. David was able to pull off both tasks with great tenacity and we flew, down the coast, back on course to Bahia Santa Maria, just north of Mag Bay. Soon the lovely wind died, and we motor sailed for hours. Battery issues have forced us to use our engine more than we would like, but these issues all get resolved.

We are now in Bahia Santa Maria, a beautiful, big bay with a lagoon at the NW corner where there is also a fish camp. We ventured into the tricky wavy entrance to the lagoon the first afternoon and then explored with new friends, Richard and Virginia from the boat Mandy yesterday afternoon. The waves and channels are a bit challenging with four people in our dinghy, especially going out through the waves, but our wonderful skipper, Sobo, pulled it off. Wish I had some pictures to send of the huge beach with huge sand dollars galore, but I didn't think to bring my camera. We had such fun with Virginia and Richard, who have great stories; we are planning to take off with them for the next small port in Bahia Magdelena. We will then blast down to Cabo to check in. The wind was really strong today, and David and I worked from dawn to dusk cleaning Sidewinder and fixing problems! Our bilge was full of diesel two days ago, and David found the leak, luckily. He spent a long time in the V-berth mending the problem using saws, hoses, screwdrivers, hoseclamps, etc. He's amazing. Good thing he's on this boat! With luck, I will be able to copy this, take it with me to an internet cafe after downloading some pictures and successfully add to this blog. David is asleep after waking at 4 a.m. and working nonstop until 6 p.m. Hard to believe this is supposed to be a relaxing way to retire. Hopefully it will happen.
Bye for now, Suzi

Next Entry by Suzi
Santa Maria to Magdalena Blog
Put the chain back into its home, took the engine off of Worm, raised the anchor and slowly sailed with the engine running out of the Bay of Santa Maria, racing Mandy. Richard and Virginia sailed the BCC off the hook and took off at a dashing 1.5 knots. After an hour or so, we both decided sailing was impossible, so we began to head over to Bahia Magdalena motorsailing (more motor than sailing). Had the great fortune of seeing a gray whale very close to the boat and a very big one at that. It was very exciting, and I was hoping she would follow us; Capt. David was very happy she didn't. 

As we rounded the corner for Mag Bay, we were hit by gusts of wind and were able to sail with the engine averaging 6 knots up to Puerto Magdalena. It was a beautiful, fun afternoon. Richard caught a huge 24 lb. tuna (almost as big as his boat!) and brought over steaks of fresh fish to barbeque. With some rice, a cabbage salad (using our last tomato and last slice of avocado) and some wonderful wine given to us by our friends on the dock back home, we had a lovely evening on Sidewinder. We finished off the dinner with TJ's frozen truffle bon bons. How decadent!!! 

Today, Dec. 11, we met with the Port Captain, who wore a Balboa Island t-shirt, hoping to check into Mexico, as we had heard that he would do it for us. We found out that we still have to formally check in at Cabo, and this was his way of making his own money. Oh well . . . life is very poor in Puerto Magdalena; they were hit by a hurricane not too long ago and are even more devastated now. La Tienda has very little in the way of provisions: got some tortillas to have with leftover fish and rice and that's all. The full moon is magical on the water this evening, and we are leisurely hanging out, finally. We head for Cabo tomorrow. The spinnaker is patched and ready to rock and roll with just enough wind to send us flying smoothly. 
Bye for now, Suzi (and David)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Here are some excerpts from my first sailmail, received Friday morning, Dec. 12. Parts are a bit confusing, but it is enough to assure any worriers in the audience (you know who you are) that Sidewinder's crew is safe and sound!  -Kris

"Had a beautiful day at the beach in Abreojos yesterday just down from where Gary has his house. The waves were amazing Thursday and yesterday but a bit scary to try to do without anyone else out. We brought the dinghy in to the beach. David put wheels on him; I read, walked, meditated and just relaxed. Fun! The afternoon breezes diminished, and it was a peaceful early evening. Then easterly winds kicked in big time, and over the course of the night bent the hell out of the bow roller for the anchor. David was bummed at himself for not preparing for that much wind. We took the engine off of Worm in much wind (a crazy endeavor) and finally got the anchor up this morning. Now we have no wind, so we are motoring, hoping the NWesterlies will kick in this afternoon for a wonderful sail. I apologize for sounding kind of exhausted in my last e-mail; there have been marvelous moments of incredible peaceful, kickass sailing that have left me breathless, and I am enjoying being free on this beautiful blue energetic ocean. We are getting our sealegs and feeling more comfortable. Obviously we are taking our time and enjoying just that."

To that message Suzi added, "David is looking forward to finding waves in Bahia Santa Maria and staying for about a week. We were unable to make a sailmail connection, so you never got this. Now we are in Bahia Santa Maria and have been for two days . . .  The wind has been pretty heavy and the landing pretty sketchy. We take off tomorrow for Puerto Magdelana for one last stop before Cabo. Let's hope this gets to you. Bye for now."

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

This blog is by Kris, who received e-mails from Suzi and David on Dec. 1 & 2. (They are having issues with posting blogs and asked me to give them a hand until they get the hang of it.)  

The two intrepid sailors are currently resting up in Turtle Bay below Guerrero Negro after a rigorous sail from Mission Bay. Suzi commented, "I had forgotten from long ago about the first few days out. Being out at sea, especially not able to go downwind effectively (like we did in Hawaii) is very intense. The stomach tightens up and I forget to breathe correctly sometimes, which makes me feel a bit queazy when down below trying to get warm soup or something easy ready to eat. Watches at night are exhausting, and after two days David and I tried to make our night watches 3 hours instead of 4 hours. Sleep deprivation sets in, and all your body wants to do is sleep. The first night we frayed the reefing line in the main, and David, bless his amazing skills, was able to tie a new knot in the reefing line. Other lines in the headsail got pretty beat up from radical flopping when waves would hit us and drive us downwind and then back up. As you can tell, being out at sea is really intense and it was sooooo wonderful coming into the Bay of the Turtle. Phew!!!!" 

David's birthday was Nov. 29, but since he was in survival mode then (they also ripped their asymmetrical spinnaker), he didn't get around to celebrating it until Dec. 1 in Turtle Bay. David did say, however, "All in all, it was a great sail down, and we still love each other in spite of it all."

Tomorrow (Wed., Dec. 3) they will take off for Bahia Santa Maria, which I haven't yet located on my Baja map. I think it's another two day sail. Prior to closing her e-mail, Suzi added, "As we head out to sea, I focus on wonderful warm wind whisking us down the coast to our next stop. I now understand why many people who cruise tend to find niches where they feel comfortable to rest for a while. It is hard out there!!!!!! Yahoo! On the other side of those thoughts, the intense color blue surrounds us and carries us wherever we are going. Dolphins escorted us out to sea off of San Diego and met us as we got close to Bahia de Tortuga. The stars are incredible . . . they are everywhere across the clear sky."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Unplugged from land....

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

It’s been a while since our last blog posting because we’ve been VERY busy provisioning and performing last minute boat projects. But Sidewinder finally pulled off the Oceanside Dock Tuesday morning after a full week of grocery shopping and storing, packing and repacking the V-berth, installing the jack lines, testing out our new “worm” (the inflatable dinghy), more investing in West Marine, and using every tool stored on this boat! We were even surprised with a visit from Casey who flew in from Portland to see us off! And while we didn’t make it too far due to rain and low wind projections, we did drop anchor in Mission Bay, San Diego. At least we’ve left land and ditched the shore line power cord! Sidewinder is truly our new home, and our adventure starts here…..

We will leave within the next 48 hours heading south. That’s about as far as our “plans” go right now…. We are hoping to hit Puerta Vallarta around Christmas time. But as they say, we are really going where the wind blows us!

We will try and keep you updated here, but be patient…..our internet access may be limited. And we will be busy being present in our new journey. Sunshine & wind. Reading. Fishing. Cooking. Being. Breathing. Loving you all from afar…..

Dave & Suzie

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The learning curve begins !!!

I'm about to post my first photo so please bare with me.
Well that worked with Casey's help so maybe next time I can do it myself.
This is a shot of Sidewinder being pulled to have her bottom done and the hull patinted from the boot stripe up to the cap rail. It all came out great and she is back in the water waiting to head south for some fun.

Larry, Catfish, Jon L, Barb, Suzi and I at the top of Squaw Valley this winter. Last shot of snow before the tropics !!!
It may be a while before we see the white stuff again unless it's in the Southern Hemisphere.

Friday, May 23, 2008

We begin!

We are not sailing yet, but we truly have begun our new adventure. We are getting the house ready for our new tenant, wonderful friends who are leasing our home for the next three years so that we can be secure and free to sail away knowing full well that all is well in Laguna Beach. How very fortunate are we! Thank you Jo Jo and Fergie! We move onto Sidewinder in July and from there we will sail local waters and be sure that we can match Sidewinder's sailing expectations. We leave for warm water and winds in October and will take you all with us. Thank you, Casey, for this beautiful blog! You are the best! How exciting and inspiring to be able to continually communicate with all of you. The most difficult part of leaving is saying farewell to all of you, but how cool is it to stay in touch more than ever.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

1st Entry

My son got this going for us. We'll thank him in our own way.