Nov 16, 2005 Letter

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Dear Family and Friends,

In early October we left Channel Islands Harbor for San Diego.  We stopped in Marina del Rey for about 10 days for some varnish work.  Ever since we got Aquila, I have been stressing out about some cloudy spots in my interior teak finish.  Everyone we consulted said that the spots were underneath the top layer of varnish, and that the entire interior would require sanding and re-finishing.  We were told that we would have to move off the boat because there would be dust everywhere, that it would cost thousands and thousands of dollars, that it would take weeks, and that it would not look like the same beautiful sprayed satin finish that I currently had.  Hylas decided that the best course of action was to fly out Maggie, an expert varnisher from Miami.  She completed the job in less than a week and we did not have to leave the boat.  She wet-sanded, which eliminated the dust problem, and she used a water-based varnish, which dried quickly.  It looks absolutely beautiful.  I am extremely happy with the result.

I got to spend a couple of days at Kimberly's house babysitting my grandkids so Kimberly and Lance could take a romantic getaway to Las Vegas.  We enjoyed seeing Janet and Allen (left) while we were in MDR and hope to see them again in Puerta Vallarta.  Then on our last day in MDR, we got a visit from Sal, Bertha and their children (and one more on the way we just learned!).  Kimberly, Lance and the kids came out, too.  We didn't go sailing, just hung out with everyone on the boat.

Then we sailed to Newport Beach and picked up a mooring in the harbor for several days.  Russ (in dinghy with blue shirt) came out to visit us.  We visited with Patricia and Joe, who will be sailing with us in Mexico later next month.  We spent the night at their house which overlooks the back bay of Newport Beach.  The back bay is a bird sanctuary.  What a fabulous, peaceful location.  Their home is wonderful.  We went out to dinner, had some drinks and got excited talking about our upcoming sailing adventure from La Paz to Puerta Vallarta for Thanksgiving.  It will be so much fun to have them sail with us.

We continued on to San Diego, but couldn't get a slip at the public dock.  We had to anchor in the harbor with a bunch of other Baja Ha-Ha boats.  A fellow in the boat next to us told us about a lecture on Mexico at the West Marine store that night, so we took our dinghy to the dock and walked to the West Marine store.  We didn't learn anything that we didn't already know about Mexico, but they had a free raffle just for being there and I won a nice fleece jacket and a pair of sailing gloves!  I couldn't believe it.  The next morning we were able to get in at the public dock for 10 days.  We immediately met other Baja Ha-Ha boaters and were invited over for dinner with Ken and Diane on Aquarella.  We met Phil and Nora from Shiraz there.  There will be 135 boats in the Baja Ha-Ha Race and they are all starting to arrive in San Diego now.  This place is buzzing with excitement.  I'm going crazy trying to finish my music video in time for Ray's retirement party.  I think he's going to like it.

Our friends from Ensenada, Pat and Carol from Carol Ann, took us out to dinner.  They keep Carol Ann here in San Diego at the Sheraton Marina and have arranged for us to get a slip there for our final 6 days.  Thanks so much, Pat and Carol!!  It was so good to see you!  We also had visits from Ray & family, Ivette, Eric, Cisco, Jeff, Sue, Kelly, Michael, Diane, Glen, Bill, Monica, and a special visit from Steve and Delsa.  Mike and I got a valuable SSB (single side band) lesson from Steve.

After moving over to the Sheraton Marina, we got Aquila safely tucked in, rented a car, and drove home to Moorpark for a 2-day visit with the kids.  Mike did a "ride along" with Sean and had a great time.  It was the very first time that he missed his old job.  He quickly recovered, though.  During our short visit, we soaked up as much love as we could from the kids and grandkids.  They got a new pet guinea pig.  We're going to miss them like mad.

October 30, 2005

Ray's Retirement Party was great!  Bill was very funny as the MC, the room was completely full, the presentations were hilarious, the speakers were good, and Ray love my music video!  It made him cry.  It made his family cry.  It was exactly what I wanted it to be!  I also enjoyed meeting some of the people I hadn't met before who read this website.  Hello to all of you!

Kevin from Seattle, and Herman and Claudine from Bijou will crew with us to Cabo San Lucas.   On Sunday, we got dressed in our Halloween costumes and attended the Baja Ha-Ha kick-off party.  We leave tomorrow morning!

November 17, 2005

OK, I'm back at the computer after writing nothing down for almost 3 weeks!   I'll need to tell you about how we lost our fishing gear, dropped the spinnaker in the water going 8 knots when the halyard splice snapped, almost cut off Herman's toe, Mike's thumb, and Linda's ear, swamped the dinghy, had Montezuma's revenge, broke the coffee pot and ... wait a minute.  I'm making it sound like we didn't have fun!  We had a blast and I'll fill in as many stories as I can remember.  But just so you know, right now I would describe myself as bruised, scraped, chapped, fever blistered, calloused, and a few pounds lighter after Montezuma's revenge.  Then I would describe the condition of Aquila as salty, sandy, dirty, rusty, and musty.  In La Paz we will wash and clean everything.  I can't wait to get there tomorrow!  Let me tell you about how we got this far...

The Baja Ha-Ha Race started Monday, Oct. 31, at 11 a.m. from just outside the San Diego Harbor.  There were 135 boats in the race this year.  Everyone who had a spinnaker flew it across the start line, including Aquila.  It was very dramatic and exciting.  We headed further off shore to break away from the pack, and to get the stronger winds.  Our first stop was 280 miles away in Turtle Bay and it would take us a couple of days and nights to get there.  We flew our sails for as many hours as we could but had to motor part of the way due to light wind.  We all were as interested in spending time in Turtle Bay as we were in sailing, so we wanted to get there quickly.  We caught a yellow tail tuna on Mike's hand line the second day and had a delicious dinner underway that evening.  But Mike got cocky the next day and decided to use his drill to wind in the handline which is on a spool.  It broke and flew out of his hand so we lost the hand line, the lure, and the fish on the end of the line!  Way to go, Mike.

We got to Turtle Bay on Wednesday evening in the dark.  It is not fun to enter an unfamiliar bay and try to find a spot to anchor when you can't see anything.  There was no moon at all and it was pitch black out.  The bay looked entirely different in the morning.  We were anchored further out than we thought.  And the pier Mike thought we were going to run into didn't even exist.  Not sure what he saw.  Anyway, all is well and we enjoyed a couple of relaxing days here.  There is a little village here with dirt streets, little shanties, and nice people.  We took the dinghy in and decided to beach it, rather than attempt to climb up the steep, dangerous looking pier.  This gave us a chance to try out our new dinghy wheels that Mike installed in San Diego.  The wheels are installed at the rear of the dinghy and flip down when you make a beach landing.  This keeps your outboard prop out of the sand as you motor all the way up on land, and also makes it easier to pull the dinghy up on the beach.  On very soft sand it becomes more of a problem, as we found out later on this trip.  But today it worked great, and after being stopped by an "official" looking person who collected $2 from each person for the environmental protection of the area, giving us each a wristband to wear showing that we paid, we were on our way.  We wound our way through the dirt streets, up the hill to a little cantina and sat on the patio with a great view of the bay.  Drank beers and margaritas, ate lunch, and walked back down to the waterfront cantina for more margaritas, after visiting the local internet cafe to check email.  Calling it an "internet cafe" is a stretch.  There was no cafe involved.  It was a small building with fabricated walls, a tin roof, cement floor, a line of folding tables against a wall and cables strung up a wall with twist ties.  We noticed a birds nest in the corner.  But lo and behold, we were connected to the rest of the world via the internet.

Leg 2 of the race started out with a great day of spinnaker sailing.  We were flying along at 8 to 9 knots when suddenly the entire spinnaker came crashing down into the water!  It took the entire crew to get it back on deck.  Herman helped Mike sort it all out and determined that the halyard had snapped at the splice.   The guys rigged the secondary halyard the next day so that we could continue to fly the spinnaker.  Great, great sailing.  I LOVE this downwind stuff!  We continued trolling with our fishing line on the fishing pole that we have on the boat.  We kept getting bites, but we couldn't keep them on the line because we have the wrong type of pole.  We lost at least 10-12 big ones.  When we arrived at Bahia Santa Maria, Mike went to the top of the mast (63 feet high!) in his repelling harness to fix the halyard.  He was having trouble getting the halyard line back up through the pulley inside the mast and "the boys" were turning blue.  So he came down.  After Mike made another unsuccessful trip up the mast, Herman went up and got the job done.  (In all fairness to Mike, Herman used a heavier line to pull it through.)  Kevin decided he needed to go up, too, just to see what it's like.  Santa Maria is a large beautiful bay with a mangrove swamp which we took a dinghy ride through.  There is a small fishing community that lives here 6 months out of the year.  Kevin, Linda and Claudine hiked to the top of the hill.  It was very steep, slippery with little rocks and there were no trails.  It felt good to reach the summit and the view was spectacular.  Later we all took the dinghy to shore.  That was a challenge as we had to scoot through the channel in between the waves crashing.  Bahia Santa Maria was a very pretty and peaceful place.  I felt like everything was in slow motion while we were there.

Leg 3, the home stretch, was the shortest.  Only 180 miles to Cabo San Lucas.  We arrived on Thursday, Nov. 10 at noon.  What a difference it was from Santa Maria!  Cabo is a zoo!  It's like being at Disneyland.  Very, very touristy.  Big power boats everywhere.  All the resorters zipping around on jet skis and the water taxis blasting through the harbor delivering people to and fro.  Add 130 Baja Ha-Ha sailboats to the mix and you've got mayhem.  Cabo San Lucas is not known for being overly welcoming to sailboats.  This is a fishing-oriented city, and the big power boats are king.  Just to be nice, the marina let about 50 of the sailboats crowd into a few slips at exhorbitant prices.  One dock had 9 boats tied side to side at the end.  We opted to anchor out in the harbor (which was free).  It was not a calm anchorage with the jet skis and water taxis.  But at least we weren't paying for this abuse.

We checked out the local bar scene at Squid Roe and the Giggling Marlin.  It was pretty wild.  Dancing on the tables kind of stuff.  Entertaining.  After spending the next day trying to get our paperwork done at Immigration and the Port Captains office, we were ready to relax at the beach bar with the Margaritas.  Linda and Kevin apparently had at least one too many and don't remember much about how we got back to the boat.  Rumor has it that Linda was falling down in the sand and laughing a lot, and Kevin seems to have had a sudden desire to go swimming, au natural.

Saturday, Nov 12 we took the dinghy to the beach to meet Mark and Darlene, who came in for the weekend, for lunch.  We all went back to the boat to hang out after lunch, but the bouncing of the boat didn't set well with Darlene.  The plan is for Darlene to spend next Tuesday evening on the boat with us, but today's exposure might have just changed the plans.  Today is the day that our entire crew left the boat and checked into local hotels.  Our crew presented us with a beautiful new very nice fishing rod, so now we have no excuse not to catch lots of fish!  We were very moved by their generosity.  And so grateful to have such a nice rod.  We all met later for the Baja Ha-Ha Awards ceremony.  Darlene and Mark attended the ceremony with us and enjoyed the humor of the Grand Poobah.  We took 3rd place in our division.  If you are familiar with the Baja Ha-Ha you already know that no one takes less than 3rd place in this "race".  We hadn't even turned in our time sheet!

Sunday we just did a little shopping in town, hung out on the boat, ate lunch on the beach, then met up for dinner at the dock.  Alexis and Gil joined our group for dinner.  I used to work with Alexis and it was fun to see her again.  Too bad it was such a lousy restaurant that we chose.  Bad Mexican food.  No bars tonight, we all turned in after dinner.  Going fishing tomorrow.

Monday, we went fishing to try out the new rod.  We couldn't sail because there was no wind.  Just swells.  We trolled and trolled, but couldn't catch anything.  Kevin wasn't feeling well, and Darlene was ready for the fun to end.  So we went back to anchor and swim.  Then Mike almost sliced off his thumb trying to attach the wind sock over the hatch.  He was more worried about Linda getting upset about the blood on the comforter, than he was about losing his thumb.  We taped him up and went to have lunch at Mango's on the beach.  Now Linda was starting to feel queasy and Kevin was getting worse.  Darlene (pictured), however, was feeling great and sang on stage (You're the One That I Want from the movie Grease) for a free bucket of beer.  We were all pretty impressed with her talents!   After saying our goodbyes to everyone, Mike and Linda went back to the dinghy to return to the boat.  But the dinghy was swamped in the waves and floating away.  With some local help, we got most of the water dumped out of the dinghy which was difficult because the waves kept crashing on us and refilling the boat with water.  We were hoping that the engine wasn't ruined.  We got the boat turned around and Linda had to jump in the dinghy before we got too deep.  In the half-deflated state of the dinghy, she slid in and hit her ear on the side of the gas can, splitting her ear open.  Good grief, more blood.  We finally got back to the boat in a dinghy half filled with water and sand and got Linda's ear bandaged.  Then the full force of Montezuma's revenge fell upon Linda.  For the next 24 hours, she was down for the count.  Our medical kit included Cipro and Immodium AD and that did the trick.  Our medical kit got a workout today.

Tuesday, while Linda was recovering, Mike met the crew for breakfast and to say our goodbyes.  They are flying home today and we will continue on alone to La Paz tomorrow.

Wednesday, we weighed anchor and headed out to La Paz.  Heading into 20-25 knot winds and very choppy seas with 10 foot swells.  We tried to sail for hours going this way and that way, reefing the sails to make it manageable.  Going upwind in these conditions had us heeling with our rail in the water.  One wave came over and washed our spinnaker bag over the rail into the water.  So the sail bag was now hanging off the side of the boat.  Full of water and heavy!  In these turbulent conditions, we had to go out on deck and try to muscle it back on deck.  We attached a halyard to the side and Linda cranked the winch while Mike muscled it over the rail.  Man, that could have been an expensive loss.  We figured a way to lash it on deck, and turned on the motor to help us make progress toward our destination.  We only covered 20 miles in 7 hours!  Early in the day we put out the fishing line, but then thought about what we'd do if we caught something, and decided to bring it back in.  It's just too rough out.  We arrived at Los Frailles anchorage at 9 pm for some much needed rest.  Thank goodness for the full moon.  It is not fun to come into an unfamiliar bay in the dark.

Thursday, Nov 17, got underway again at about 8 a.m.  Still choppy with 20-25 knot winds on the nose.  We tried sailing again and tacked for hours without making the progress we needed.  It's a good thing I have everything secured down below because this boat is on its side and bouncing.  Any little thing that I missed becomes a missile.  The wind waves are huge and slapping us hard.  Aquila is so salty and sandy and dirty.  And I'm so tired.  Can't wait to get to La Paz, wash the boat, do the laundry and then rest.  Got to Bahia de los Muertos (Bay of the Dead) in the dark.  Slowly navigated to a spot we liked and dropped the anchor.  Will get up early to get on the way again.  Too bad we don't have time to stay for awhile.  It looks like this is a very pretty spot (in moonlight).

Friday, Nov. 18.  Set the alarm for 4 am to get an early start.  The sea has calmed down.  The wind is still strong but the water is flat and that makes it easy.  But with the wind on the nose, we still had to motor.  Just wanted to get to La Paz.  Arrived at 2 p.m.  What a great place!  Love this place.  Beautiful.  Beautiful.  We're in a nice resort marina with all the amenities we want (including free internet so I can update the website!).  Had a hot shower and a steak dinner.  Will clean everything tomorrow.  Then Patricia and Joe arrive on Sunday to sail with us to Puerta Vallarta for Thanksgiving.

Will try to update sooner next time!  Missing everyone at home.  Love you all.  Don't forget to check out the photo albums for the month.  I wish I could have inserted more of the pictures throughout this letter, but it was getting just too long.  So see all the stuff I've talked about in our photo albums for Nov 2005.

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