Carnaval, February 27 2014

What an event, many celebrations going on downtown, the Abasolo which is the main street along the water front is lined with tents in the downtown area. It leaves only a couple of lanes open to traffic during the day but many people walk in the street, making for careful driving. At 4 in the afternoon, the street gets closed to all but pedestrian traffic, and the party really starts in earnest. Beer tents everywhere, tents selling New Orleans style rum drinks loaded with rum & a little bit of juice, bars actually have this on tap, & put it in to go cups, more commonly known as Hurricanes.  All kinds of doodads being sold, leather goods, blankets, hats, you name it. Many games of chance & carnival rides for the kids, wall to wall bodies, people going all directions, plainly put, it is a huge week long party. Costumes & masks of all shapes & sizes, security is tight, but I notice many of the uniformed officers have no guns in their holsters, ah Mexico. On Sunday evening the parade starts at around 5 in the afternoon, parades of which I haven’t seen the likes of before, mostly made up of floats, led off by several motorcycle clubs all riding together in a group, then bands & the floats which are loaded with costumed people, dressed in all manner. The theme this year is on the universe, so many space costumes, the overall winner is the Avatar float. Everyone on the float is painted blue from head to toe, and it seemed there were at least 25-30 souls on board. Caesar & I watch from a table in the street in front of one of our favorite watering holes. Its very noisy at the start & he can’t  identify from where the noise comes from, the worst part for him was the sirens from police vehicles right in front of us, that he was unable to see. Wasn’t long before he was shaking in my lap, & he shook for the first 15 minutes before calming down, but he really didn’t enjoy it, that was the only time I took him to the parade. There were parades for the next 2 nights, reversing directions each night. On Tuesday nights parade I watched from the third story roof of a real estate office near the end of the parade. Just as the first float was arriving in front of us I pointed out to the others with me, there was a serious problem with the truck pulling the float with a band aboard, it had separated, was nearly five feet in front of the float when someone noticed the hitch broke or came undone, the only thing attaching them was the big power cord from the generator in back of the truck. Must have been more than just coming unhooked as it took 5-7 minutes to reattach, meantime the whole rest of the parade is backed up behind. Then the bands are warming up for playing from several different band stands into the wee hours of the morning, but I must leave, I am flying to Tijuana the next day.

I fly in to Tijuana then a cab to the border, walk across, catch the train to Chula Vista, call Enterprise where I have a car reserved. They pick me up at the train station & I head to Bullhead City. It’s already late so I stop in Palm Springs which is almost half way, & then get an early 5:30 start in the morning. Caesar has stayed on a friends boat in La Paz, he is very comfortable with them & spends a lot of time there.  A very quick week in Bullhead, get my divorce granted & finalized (nuff said) before reversing my ride back to San Diego, Tijuana and La Paz. I get to spend a night in Tijuana because of an early flight time, & stay right down town. I go out looking for a place to eat, finding a new little Italian restaurant. They have only been open a week, the owner comes over and introduces himself then gets his translator as he has only been here a short time from Italy & speaks no Spanish or English. I find out he has made a complete homemade lasagna for today’s special, which sounds great, but then explains they have no wine, of which I wanted a glass of. I was debating whether to find another place or not when he sends an employee in typical Mexican style to get a bottle of wine. Now of course I must order the Lasagna which was awesome. There was no red sauce, all white, and all ingredients were hand made in the restaurant, I was impressed, & the price was very low. Gotta love Mexico, off to La Paz in the morning.

Then its St. Patty’s dinner at La Costa restaurant, & staff there is relieved of cooking duty for the evening, as corned beef & cabbage is on the menu. Cruisers take over the kitchen & serve up fresh little potatoes, carrots, cabbage, corned beef, salad & fresh soda bread. Stuffed again, then dancing to the live band, I get out early as Caesar is guarding the boat tonight, & may want a shift change.

Then its off to Loreto for the Mexican HOG run for the weekend. I ride with the Californio motorcycle club again, & while there I am asked to join as a member. They are a fun group, all very friendly & many can communicate in English, most are business owners, but all professionals. After riding they sure can party, & we did in Loreto. There were clubs from Mexico City, Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas, Los Cabos & many other places, all wearing their colors & all very friendly, no evidence of weapons, no fights, just a fine time. There were a couple of bad stretches of road to get there, we all successfully made it through but when another club was heading through the detour, they had 7 bikes go down in the detour; bummer not a fun day for them.

Today in La Paz is a world class Triathalon, first time here, CNN & ESPN filming, of course the main street is closed from 8 to 8, will be fun to watch, Caesar & I will head there shortly.

Must run & upload, no pics this time, tomorrow another sailboat race will be fun, hope all your weathers are improving, till next time, Richard & Caesar.



Three Harley’s and a Kawasaki or a girl and three guys

A few weeks ago I mentioned to the guy that puts our rides together about a new paved road I had read about in the local English paper (publisher from Brandon Manitoba 45 miles from where I grew up), the Baja Citizen. It was going off the Number 1 highway in the Baja, towards a ranch near the west coast on the Pacific Ocean, didn’t seem to end up anywhere but maybe a small town.  We decided to give it a try, & if no restaurants we could come back into El Centenario to eat.  That day we would have 2 guys riding Harley’s one gal riding her Harley and one guy riding a 2 cylinder Kawasaki. We are all retired seniors, the over the hill Hells Angels if you will. We set off on Valentines day around 11, I was leading because I had kind of an idea where the turnoff was, Robin was behind me, then the other 2. Traffic was the normal for Highway 1, wasn’t too long before we got to the turnoff, it would have been easy to miss, as the road just didn’t come to the highway, there was quite a drop off of gravel before the pavement, gotta love Mexico. Onto the road heading southwesterly, it was a good paved road, no shoulders  of course but I set a pace of about 60 mph, because of desert both sides and open range for livestock, i.e. burros, cows, goats or horses. Fortunately we saw none, & no traffic coming or going for a round trip of around 50 miles, wow a new road, no traffic, 2 sets of workers doing some work on the side of the road, they cheering us on, when we arrived at the little town of Conquista Agraria, the pavement just stopped and then it was dirt. We could see a little tienda down the road about 150 yards so we rode to it, there being a big shade tree across the street, which we parked under, to drink some cold beer before heading back into town to eat. The ride back was equally uneventful just gorgeous scenery, no traffic, and new pavement. We ate at a new little restaurant that one of our group had eaten at before, the food was awesome, I ordered a pork shank which came with all the sides so I was stuffed, was delicious, spicy but not overly so. I think the price was 100 pesos or about $7.50, and I had a ticket for the Valentines dinner later that evening at La Costa, where I had preordered a shrimp pasta dish, well I was stuffed again, lots of walking coming up.

Yesterday was the Valentines day sailboat race, there 12-15 boats entered in many different classes, wind was forecast to be light and you can see by the picture at the start line, there was hardly a ripple in the water. It took us awhile to cross the start line, but as we did the wind started to pick up. We have raced this before and taken 4 hours, but today we would finish in 2 hours and 20 minutes, the course is a little over 8 miles so not breakneck speeds, but we finished. We finished 3rd in our class, but we didn’t get to use the spinnaker due to some crew and boat issues, the others in our class were flying spinnakers on the downwind leg. Caesar worked so hard at it yesterday, that today it is afternoon, and he has slept all morning, not yet going out to potty, the poor guy is worn out, course there was a little 8 week old cocker spaniel to keep him entertained (bothered), he accepted her until he could find a place in the shade to rest and hide from her. There was also a little 5 year old girl that wanted to play with him, I had to leave his life jacket on as he did once threaten to get out on the foredeck to find a safe spot, and there isn’t as much room along the sides to run as there is on the trawler. He did manage some rest though so he really isn’t that hard done by.

Coming up the end of the month is Carnaval, I am really looking forward to that, I think it is 6 days starting on 27th of Feb. There are parades on the last 3 days, I guess security is very tight, the main street is closed, so it should be a big party. Right after that I leave to fly to Bullhead City for a week, so it will be a busy end and start of a new month. Caesar will stay here to keep things under control here, when he’s not resting. Everybody thinks I give him drugs, he is so laid back and well behaved. He did have a bout with both ticks and fleas this month which rather annoyed us both, but we survived it, glad we have a vet that he loves. Well I must get back to polishing stainless, ah boat maintenance, just doesn’t seem to end.



January 15, 2014

Today we are going to be confined to the boat for awhile, wind is blowing, lots of waves with whitecaps, we are rockin’ and rollin’. But the worst part is I made a beef stew last night then went to play darts so didn’t get to eat it, so thought it would be perfect for a hearty breakfast on the  water.  I tasted it but it needed something to kick it up a notch, so upon opening the fridge, I saw something red in the door, I think it was a pasta sauce I made some time ago, tasted it, seemed a little sweet, but should be good(course as you remember my fridge has had problems) can’t go wrong, guess again. I threw it in the stew, stirred it up & started to heat it, but my stomach was already acting up, I had tasted a good big teaspoon full, but then I tasted some more with the stew, and that did it. For the next hour or so I leaned over the head, pumping out and adding to, I tried several tums, had terrible stomach gas, a glass of water caused a violent reaction, when it started to calm, I was very weak and not going anywhere. I am starving now but a mouthful of water started it all over again. So will stay onboard for awhile and not eat, even though I am starving. Now better feed the stew to the fish, hopefully they can stomach it better than I can.

Yesterday I got on a project in earnest, I have been trying for sometime now to learn how to make a loop splice in a 3 strand line. And I did it, being a little dyslexic, which I never discovered until the last few years, it took me awhile. Two different instructors, three youtube videos, and two sailing books on “how to”, the last being Chapman’s Piloting, which made it all finally come together. I was excited, especially knowing the first project (I did a couple of practice runs) was to make loops in the end of the lines that fasten me to the mooring, which is kind of important. I accomplished the first one yesterday, and did a fine job, I slept well and it’s holding with all the wind and tide action, no longer a virgin. Finished the other one today, two fine loop splices.

And then the wind turned, and the tide went out. To explain, there can be several ups and downs in the tides every day. When the moon is full they tend to be higher, consequently there is a lot of current, sometimes in excess of 5 knots in or out, a lot like a big washing machine with the water back and forth, but today the tide was going out and a norther coming in blowing up white caps against the outgoing tide. Now it gets interesting, my boat has a fairly shallow keel but a lot of structure above water so the wind likes to blow it sideways with not enough keel to keep her straight in the current. Now we face northerly, and back up into the sand bar in the middle of the bay. At first I think we are dragging because it seems like an intermittent bounce, but quickly realize that being hooked to a 750 pound concrete block stuck in the bottom sand and fastened with 60’ of chain/rope that’s not possible. I then check the depth sounder, sure enough it registers zero water under the keel. We are about to settle onto the bottom, it’s not a real problem as we are sitting in soft sand and with a single engine there is a keel so we don’t sit on the propeller or shaft, but boats are supposed to sit on water not sand. And so we stay in place for the next couple of hours waiting for the tide to come back in. Now I must put together a couple of more thousand pesos or so to move the mooring about 40-50 feet so we won’t have this issue in the future, fortunately it has only happened once as tides must have big swings coupled with opposing high winds for this to happen.  Normally I swing with the tide in or out, the only sand bar issues then are taking the dinghy to shore at low tide. I know a cut through the bar and with engine on partial tilt we pass through, although even then I have run it aground twice.

The up side to this story though is we are really living in a big aquarium and with the tide flushing at least daily, the water is clear and we get to watch the fish below us swimming in schools under the boat. On calm sunny days, we see the bottom and can watch manta rays squirming around on the bottom, swimming and feeding. When the water warms, (a wuss I know)it’s only high 60’s now, I will go swimming off the boat and see even more sea life.

More dock parties happening, they just seem to break out, but always with good reason, this week it was friends leaving as they just got their permanent visas. They have been here longer that Caesar and I and occasionally he has had a sleep over on their boat. Caroline and Meri are both animal lovers and as a result Caesar loves them both. They will be leaving to head down the west coast of Mexico and further south towards Central America. I know they are glad to be going further on their adventure but we sure will miss Jim and his family, they were so friendly and helpful.

Time to publish, add some pictures and get on with more boat projects here, stay warm!

Christmas lumps

Well the video on you tube wanted to put in every video I had made, about 34 to be exact, and the quality of the one I wanted had been way downgraded, will just try again another time, have a Happy New Year.

Pulled Pork and Pickles

ImageLots of parties and food happening here. Generally someone finds an excuse every month or so for a dock or some other kind of party. This one was a dock party in marina Don Jose, where I just left, organized by Alex & Sue on Maitairoa, it was on the Sunday night before Christmas. I made, but actually cooked the pork in the slow cooker on their boat the night before, it cooked all night in the slow cooker, (I would have had to run the generator all night) and I know the neighbors would not have been happy. So in the morning I came ashore & added more onions & the sweet baby ray’s bbq sauce. It is scary simple, but really tasty, I have been asked a lot for the recipe. I cooked 4 pounds of pork and it was all gone before I got there. Then on Christmas eve there was a Club Cruceros pot luck, hors d’oeuvres only, so I made some home made garlic dills a few days ahead of time, several quarts but only took one quart to the event. Was to be enough for 10 people, thought for 10 that would be sufficient, glad I had an extra quart in the fridge, cuz they were gone too. Christmas eve I went to a Mexican families home for dinner at 10, it was very quiet and very nice, I didn’t cook, and the food was awesome, roast pork, mashed potatoes, gravy, plum sauce for the pork, and Mexican soup, and a little wine, I was stuffed. Caesar had a sleep over on a friends boat where he has ingrained himself, Jim, Meri, and Carolyne on Hotspur. Sometimes he gets a little spoiled. Christmas day I went to a friend’s house for fresh lobster salad and hot fresh nut and cranberry bread. Stuffed again, had to leave too early to get back on board, the wind was picking up, and we ended up with a wet ride back. When that happens Caesar lays down on the floor, and I cover him with a foul weather rain jacket, he stays under cover until we reach the boat, which takes around 20 minutes when it’s blowing. He hates wet, hates cold, is real happy to get out of the dinghy bouncing around and back on board to at least warm bouncing.

The mooring is ready, but because of weather conditions is still sitting in the water at the dock, he can’t float it until there is some calmer weather. I will try and attach a link to the wave conditions, Christmas eve, forgive me if it doesn’t work.

I was leaving the dinghy dock a few nights ago and someone from the other dock hollered, hey is that Caesar? Yes I said, “oh yeah remember we met you last year in Barra Navidad, they remember him, me as kind of his? But at the end of the day he knows where he wants to go home to. This is not the first time this has happened, as he is very social, with 2 or 4 legged people, he doesn’t discriminate.

Last week I went to get my Mexican health insurance, cost a little over 1800p for a year, and that covers prescriptions and some dental work. Now I need to go for a physical and get cholesterol drugs, blood pressure is a lot lower here.

Caesar is also feeling better now, he had an incident earlier this month where he had chewed a piece of gristle off a raw bone, and got it stuck in his lower intestine. I didn’t know what was wrong, but he was not feeling good and had been throwing up, I knew I had to get him to a vet, so I took him in. She took him in right away, and said he was in a lot of pain, said he was constipated but wasn’t sure that he didn’t have something caught in his stomach and we contemplated x-rays, but opted for pain medication and a stool softener. He felt better the next day, because of the pain meds, but still wasn’t right. The following day he passed the problem piece and quickly started feeling better. I took him back for his check up, she said he still had some pain and to watch him close, but by the next day he was fine. She made sure that I was to stay in touch with updates by email. Total cost including drugs, pain medication and doctor visits, etc., 302p, apx $23.

And today, boxing day was my Dad’s birthday, may he rest in peace. See you all next year.


ImageImageIt had to happen sooner or later, I looked to port and turned he jumped up on the starboard tube and just kept right on going into the drink. When I looked back he was gone, sure enough overboard, this time because we were in the dinghy he had his life jacket on so stayed afloat, didn’t go under water, but the down side was he had to be cold inside the life jacket until we got to the boat, about 15 minutes. Then because there is no hot water on the boat now as we are at anchor, he had to have a cold water shower, was a nice warm day though so after his shower he dried quickly. And no he still climbs on my lap in the dinghy but stays off the tubes, he is a fast learner.

This picture was taken after he saw someone else have a Pitaya daiquiri and he felt that he should have one too, at least a virgin one.

Well you see there have been a few changes, I needed to move off the dock was just costing too much money. As with anything there are some downsides as well as upsides. Down, is cold water, no electricity, except to charge batteries and then it entails running the generator, hauling water by jug, (I have a water maker but not so good in the harbor), it can be rough due to wind and wave action which is happening now (we won’t leave the boat today), and of course everything you need to eat or drink, or repair things with has to be hauled by dinghy out to the anchorage. On the upside though, it is cheap, a small fee to the harbormaster, 300p for the dinghy dock, 340p for vehicle parking, it is quiet & private, fewer interruptions when you are trying to get a project done. It can also be scary, a derelict boat dragged anchor in front of me the other night and someone saw it, warned me and came to help, so we managed to re-anchor it with a different anchor and move it to another location. Glad I have a big outboard on my dinghy for that.

I had bought an existing mooring from a person in the anchorage that is leaving, so I paid a diver to go & inspect it to see if it was ok and would handle my boat, all could be worked out and then a few days before I was to occupy I found out he had sold it to someone else for more money. What a flake there are some people here that are not exactly trust worthy, I’ll be glad to see him leave the anchorage. I had already given my notice at the marina, spent money on the diver, so then I needed to scramble for a replacement, someone knew a diver that builds moorings & would do one for me, and also had one I could use until mine is done. So now I am on his mooring while he builds mine, which takes about 3 weeks as the concrete needs to cure before going in the water. I have been scrambling to find rope, chain, and hardware to attach everything from the mooring to the boat. Total cost will be around $1000, which will almost pay for itself in 2 months, and I am on his mooring at no cost until mine is finished, hopefully sometime next week.

On Thursday night this week, I got the opportunity to see the Los Angeles philharmonic choir in concert at the theatre here. It holds over 1000 people and was sold out, there are no bad seats. We were in the balcony center so it was awesome, a lot of Christmas music in English. Much of the Christmas music that is played here is in English, even in all the stores, although there is some Spanish too it is really nice. They have also done a lot of decorating here both commercially and residentially, Christmas is a huge celebration here, and  has now started, will carry into early January. I have been invited to a Mexican family home for Christmas eve, dinner is served around 10 pm, many don’t eat until after church, at midnight. I think I will be the only gringo there so must really work on my Spanish between now and then.

Well I just put in a picture of the anchorage from where I am at now, which is close to downtown, in front of Laura’s restaurant and Marina Cortez, however the picture was supposed to go here, you can see where it ended up, I hate this program.

I am now also operating without a battery for my computer so it is a pita if you know what I mean. Now I must run my inverter and keep the computer plugged in to use it, but on this old machine it isn’t worth buying a new battery for.

Must run, somebody else is dragging anchor, but I think it is the other side of the anchorage I need to keep a watch out, and maybe see if I can assist. Have a Merry Christmas if I don’t talk to you sooner.


Maintenance and Motorcycle Rides

October 2013

Starting to get settled back in, darts on Tuesday & Friday nites at 7:30 at Cio MolinaLa Paz 012, Wednesday dancing is about to start at La Costa restaurant. Band starts at 6:30 finishes at 9:30 to let people get home to bed! Cio Molina is a block towards downtown across the street. It is an Italian restaurant & bar with dancing Friday and Saturday nights going from about 10-2 or 3 am, & is very crowded. We have been quite disappointed many nights with their service & pricing so may change our darts to La Costa. La Costa is a Mexican restaurant on the beach the other direction a block. It is across the street from Bandito’s which is a popular Mexican hamburger restaurant open in the evenings. La Costa hosts a lot of events for the cruisers but is also very popular with the locals as well. Caesar is allowed in and they are always glad to see him, he is generally on his best behavior, there is no fence or wall between the restaurant & the water so you can walk across the beach & get your toes wet.

The first weekend in October there is a ride to El Triunfo. This is a little town in the mountains south of La Paz that is more like what we would know as a ghost town in the rest of North America. It used to be a gold mining town, and at one time had 10,000 residents, the biggest town in the Baja. It was also the richest, many people had pianos imported and music teaching was a big thing to the wealthy, today they have a piano museum them which I still want to visit. It is rumored that during the revolution many of the people buried their pianos rather than let them be damaged or stolen. Today the town is also famous for a pizza restaurant and bakery started by an American that has a wood fired oven and bakes fresh bread daily that is delicious, some with nuts & cranberries, and then also roasts a turkey for sandwiches on the nut and cranberry bread with cranberries in the sandwich and a side salad. Very large delicious lunch, I still haven’t had the pizza, always end up with the turkey sandwich.

Time to get the outboard in the water with the dinghyImage, now that the other engine is serviced and Caesar and I both want a ride, so in they go. As we are about to head out I realize I have my wallet in my back pocket, but check and its ok, I have a Velcro sticker on it. Out we go for a little ride, the new prop works good, we head out to Seamentress, visit for a few minutes, head back, stop at Jim & Linda’s boat & home. I realize I am going to need to change the water pump impeller as it is only putting out a weak stream of water. Another new project to add, that evening we were going somewhere so after I changed my shorts I looked for my wallet, quickly realizing I last had it in the boat, must be in the dinghy. Nope, sorry, it’s gone! And because I finally got organized a few weeks ago and instead of cash loosely kept in one pocket, credit cards and drivers license and Id in another, now it was all nicely together in a wallet, in one back pocket. About 7000 pesos, ($550 apx), and all the rest of it gone, which was my slip rent money, etc. I offered a reward of 3000 pesos, some divers went looking but nada. At least it wasn’t Caesar or I that went overboard, so time will get us through the loss, along with multi phone calls and emails to reproduce everything & get it to Mexico.

On the weekend we ride to a little town to the northwest which is San Juan de la Costa. It is a little town that has one restaurant, a good road to it, on the Sea of Cortez & a mine for something used in fertilizer I believe, but not Potash. It is shipped by water to? The little restaurant caters lunches for the miners, they just sign for it. The day we were there the special was Chinese food, 60 pesos including lemonade, & desert. The food was excellent & the service was great, a nice out of the way non touristy place. Then it’s time to get light up for the dartboard, we’ve made the decision and have moved our dart game to La Costa, lower drink prices better service and they are happy to have us, even bringing complementary hors douvres for us, what a nice change.

Now it’s time to get the outboard out of the water, change oils, charge the battery and replace the impeller. I get it up on the aft deck of Toloache and start taking it apart. I also hook up the battery to the motorcycle charger to see if it won’t come up, the engine wouldn’t crank with it so I had to pull start. I need to find a filter, get oils, and change fluids which I do first while the engine is warm. Then the next day I start to drop the lower end to get at the impeller, this is all new to me & I don’t have the shop manual for this engine so I must be careful & observant. There is a little roller pin that holds the shift rod together that of course doesn’t want to come out, so with a hammer & a little borrowed tool I get it out, but I can see it’s bent now. I get the lower end off and sure enough the impeller has a few broken blades so no wonder it was only pumping marginally well, now to find one of the same size. I start with the closest marine store across the street & continue on, I walk to several with no joy, (there is no Tohatsu dealer here) eventually I come to Lopez Marine, and they say no but will look, seconds later he says I think I have one. We look and it even had the Tohatsu part number, $18 dollars, what a bargain, now I just need to find a pin to replace the damaged one. After much searching, I have no luck with that so end up using a 3/32 cotter pin, which I am told will do the job. When lifting the engine out I had the lift webbing slip & broke off the fuel line connection in the front of the engine so must find that also. I mount the engine back on the boat, hook up the battery, pump the fuel line bulb, which leaks of course, but hit the started & it starts! However at speed it quits as it’s getting starved of fuel because of the broken connection. I must get the new part from Tohatsu, or find a used one. I check at Lopez, they don’t have but are ordering parts that day, so have them order me that part as well, should be here within 10 days. In the meantime before mounting the engine I have pulled the boat out on the dock & cleaned the bottom. Now we hurry up and wait.

This week I start helping with coffee at the club on Thursday mornings so I need to get there about 8:30 to have that ready for 9:30, it takes awhile to brew 100 cups. We will start taking turns to be the early bird there to get it started.

Today Caesar had a bath & got his hair trimmed on his face & a little off his ears, he was dragging them in the water when getting a drink. I still need to trim his toenails, which he would just as soon pass on but needs it done anyhow, probably tomorrow.

Must run see if I can publish again, with the 2 pictures, they are back in, & will bring you all up to date with the next one which will come out soon! Until them, stay safe