These last few months with Ticket to Ride in Mexico have been pretty busy, but also productive and filled with family and friends. After leaving San Diego in December, we spent a couple of weeks moving down the western Baja Coast.
After clearing in at Ensenada, our first stop was Cedros Island which had a population of 1,350 in 2005 with the main industries of commercial fishing and salt production. Cedros is mountainous with the highest elevation reaching 3,953 feet. We chose to ride our bikes on the mostly flat parts of the island out to the airfield and salt loading facility. Traffic was sparse and the roads were very good.
Cedros Town is a rare stop for cruising boats and is not home to convenience stores or souvenir shops. Instead it is a working town with an authentic vibe, filled with people earning a living from the sea.
We made new friends along our route by inviting the boats anchored in Bahía Ascunsión to join us on TTR for a Christmas potluck dinner. We had a fun evening of good food and learning about our boat neighbors. Plus sharing Christmas dinner on TTR created the added benefit of making friends we see here and there as we travel in Mexico.
In addition to Cedros Island, we made four stops along the Baja Coast: Turtle Bay, Ascunsión, Santa Maria and Magdalena Bay. I have many great photos, but here is a sampling.
After making short hops along the coast we took a longer sail from Magdalena Bay to Muertos in the Sea of Cortez which was about 240nm.
All the way south and around the point where Cabo is, the sail was delightful. We saw plenty of whales breaking the surface, slapping fins and tails and even a few breaches!
However, once we rounded the corner of Cabo and headed north, whew, the seas became very different. Opposing current and wind made for steep waves and very choppy conditions. TTR handled it all like a champ but Frank and I were happy to reach Muertos and drop anchor out of the churned up waters.
From Muertos we directed our path to Coasta Baja Marina in La Paz. The time had arrived for us to fly to Mexico City and apply for our Long Stay Visas for French Polynesia. We completed this process two years earlier in the company of Randy and Shellie of s/v Moondance. This time we met up with friends Bruce and Alene of s/v Migration. We shared an apartment for the weekend as well as the cumbersome application process through the French Consulate in Mexico City.
Once back in La Paz, we spent a couple of weeks sailing in the Sea, dodging northerly blows and enjoying familiar anchorages. We celebrated Frank’s birthday while hiding behind Isla Coronado, which gave the birthday boy an opportunity to kiteboard. That was the first time Frank has kited in many, many months.
Next up was a visit from Jeff and Marcy. We had an awesome week together as we shared some favorite places close to La Paz and introduced these land dwellers to cruising life.
The weather cooperated perfectly! The day Jeff and Marcy arrived, the wind was light so we left the dock immediately and motored north to San Evaristo, about 55 nautical miles away. We explored the fishing village, walked to the salt fields and stopped at Abuela’s house to buy some fresh tortillas. In fact, Abuela made the tortillas while we waited on her porch.
We stopped at Isla San Francisco for a couple of nights where we hiked the ridge for another bird’s eye view of the anchorage.
Frank introduced Jeff and Marcy to scuba diving in the shallow waters of Isla San Francisco. It was an uneventful session since we stayed in the shallows and only introduced them to the basics. Diving is kind of a hassle when there is only sand to see and no exotic fish or interesting rock walls to explore.
Next we visited Ensenada Grande where paddleboarding and another hike were on the agenda. The water was still too cold to just hang out in it, but we managed to stay pretty busy doing other things.
Early one morning, the four of us took the dinghy to visit the sea lion colony on Los Islotes before the tour boats arrived. We hopped in the water and watched the sea lions play in the sea. Visibility wasn’t great but we enjoyed watching the young sea lions swim nearby to check us out. The pups are very curious and often come close to snorkelers.
Once back in the dinghy, we circled the island and several of pups followed us. They were like a group of teenagers daring each other, coming close to the dinghy, rising up from the water to look at us, then darting away as their bravery dissipated. Frank expertly slipped Day Tripper through the opening in the rocks for a mini Indiana Jones cave experience without any snakes, spiders or other creepy things.
A fairly strong westerly wind was expected so we chose to sail on the east side of Espiritu Santo and anchor in Bonanza at the southern side of the island in an attempt to find a calm anchorage. Marcy and Jeff ventured out in Day Tripper alone for a little sandy beach time while Frank and I chilled on the front deck of TTR.
The next day we sailed back to La Paz so our guests could enjoy a night and day in “the city” before heading back to Texas. We showed them some local flavor, like the Mercaldo where fresh fruit, veggies and meats can be bought. I’m pretty certain they were less than excited by the non-USDA health standards on display. So we headed back toward the Malecon for lunch in a slightly more touristy area.
Our week with Jeff and Marcy was great fun and we look forward to the next time they visit Ticket to Ride.
Next up was the delivery of our new North Sails mainsail. We have replaced all of the sails on TTR and are now flying a suite of five new North Sails: mainsail, genoa, self-tacker, reacher (TWA @70-130, medium weight sail) and what we call the Drifter; a design Frank, Gino Morrelli and Fuzz Foster worked out for downwind sailing for shorthanded cruisers. North is calling this sail the Code G, I think, and we already know of a couple of other boats that have ordered the sail. (TWA @ 90-170ish, light weight sail.)
Gio of ApexRigging, flew into La Paz to help us dial in our new main sail. Gio was on board for several days working with us to set up the mainsail. We sailed a few times to make sure the main and reef points were in order. Gio and Frank reviewed our rigging, lines, sheets and halyards to make sure everything on TTR is solid so that we are in great shape for our sail to French Polynesia.
In light of our upcoming departure for French Polynesia, Frank and I decided to take a quick trip back to the US to visit our kids; one in San Diego and one in North Carolina – nice of them to live so close together, right?
On our way back to La Paz, we met Frank’s mom, Jackie, at the DFW airport and she flew with us to TTR. We had a wonderful, relaxed visit with Jackie on board Ticket to Ride for a week. We are incredibly blessed that Jackie is willing to travel to our boat and spend time with us. She is an amazing woman and delights in the beauty of her surroundings. Jackie enjoys the 360 degree views on TTR where we are immersed in nature. She delights in the beauty that surrounds her and always finds something interesting or beautiful as we move from place to place or as we swing on anchor.
Once again we visited the sea lions, but this time we watched from on board TTR. The pups were accommodating and came up to the boat to take a close look at us. Jackie was delighted with their silly ways and we all enjoyed observing them in their own environment.
Jackie has returned to the States and now we are in full prep mode for our trip to French Polynesia. We have our long stay visas for French Polynesia in hand and it is finally time to prepare for this trip that has been SO LONG in coming.
Thanks so much for stopping by to wade through this really long post. We appreciate your time and hope you enjoyed a little glimpse into what has kept us busy lately. Stay well and stay positive! All the best from us to you.
We were up early and the morning marine layer made for a spooky departure as we left Gut Bay. The day held two surprises…
The first was that we actually sailed for three hours! We were leaving Baranof Island and crossing the Chatham Straight toward Tebenkof Bay and were able to put up our reacher sail in 9-12 knots of wind at a true wind angle of 135.
The second surprise was encountering pods of whales while we were traveling through the Chatham Straight! I tried to get photos of the tails so I could compare these whales to the ones from Hawaii because I wondered if we had traveled with some of these huge animals across the Pacific Ocean. Reminder: whale tails are unique, like fingerprints, and whales are identified by their tail markings.
Shelter Cove was our destination in Tebenkof Bay. This anchorage had many sea otters so we didn’t bother putting out the crab pots. The otter population is quite large in Alaska and fisherman/lobstermen think they are out of control. Since we don’t make our living chasing the same food the otters eat, we found them pretty cute, especially when they would float on their backs with one otter holding another.
Our next stop was a mere eight miles away at Gingerbread Bay. This anchorage was very large and the water absolutely flat. We took a dinghy tour of the anchorage and looked for a trail that was supposed to lead to the Afleck Canal, but we were unable to locate the trail. Frank and I think the hardest part of most hikes is finding the beginning of the trail since many places we visit are not well used. We had our first dinghy mishap in Gingerbread Bay…. the engine clipped a submerged rock that was impossible to see with the sun in our eyes. Bit of damage to the skeg but the engine still runs just fine, thankfully.
The next day was another quick hop of only 9 miles to Exploration Basin. Although we read the SW corner was a good anchorage, we found it a bit tight, poorly charted and exposed to the north. So we anchored slightly north of that area and found an excellent, sandy spot in 40’ of water.
Exploration Basin was a super fun place to play. We took turns SUPing, then decided a picnic lunch was in order since the day was exceptionally sunny and warm. We packed some goodies and landed on a nearby island that had an outcropping of land that was connected to the bigger island by a gravel beach. We gathered wood and set up a campfire on the rocks, then sat and enjoyed lunch of wraps, chips and carrots. Of course lunch was ended with s’mores over the fire.
We spent some time splayed out like lizards on the sun heated rocks, enjoying the unusually warm day. While compiling wood for the fire, we noticed wild blueberries so we all picked deeply colored, plump blueberries and bagged plenty to use for baking treats.
I could have stayed in Exploration Basin several days, but the weather was shaping up for a perfect rounding of Cape Decision, so we had to prepare to leave again the next morning.
The trip from Exploration Basin to Warren Cove was six hours of motoring to cover 43 miles on a sunny day that brought us to a well protected spot and our first sand beach in Alaska! We anchored in 50’ of water, then went to shore to explore.
What a treat to walk barefoot on Alaskan sand, getting a natural pedicure while observing the “rubble” on the beach. Unlike Hawaii, this beach wasn’t scattered with seashells, but with huge logs and smooth boulders. We crossed fresh water rivulets escaping into the bay with starfish resting on the sandy floor.
Perhaps we have read too many detective novels, but guess what we saw! For those who might be concerned….we did not find anything attached to this “finger.”
Our consensus was that Warren Cove warranted an extra night so we hung out and did a bit of fishing, SUPing and more beach walking. Standing on the transom steps of TTR, we managed to catch enough halibut to top up the freezer. We kept two halibut that weighed between 8-10 pounds.Yum!
We also took turns in the dinghy fishing some deeper areas. Frank and I dropped our hooks and immediately caught rockfish which were apparently plentiful and hungry because they bit the minute our lures went deep in the water. However, not all rockfish were legal, and we weren’t sure which we could keep, so we released the two we hooked.
Interestingly, if you pull a rock fish from deep in the water, their bladder inflates and they are unable to release the air and descend again. Unaided, they will die on the surface. However, the fishing store in Sitka prepared us for this possibility. We had a special weighted hook that we quickly attached to the rockfish. Once the hook was attached, we dropped the fish and hook back into the water and the hook pulled the bloated fish to the bottom where he can expel the air. Once we could tell the weight had pulled the fish deep into the water, we reeled in the hook which is designed to flip and release the fish.
Happily, this method worked and we didn’t see a dead rockfish surface! But, that was the end of our fishing in those deep waters. There was no point in fishing and traumatizing the fish when we didn’t know which ones we could keep.
Warren Cove also delivered a fabulous whale experience! While out in the dinghy, we saw a whale near the shallow shoreline, so we went a little closer and were able to watch this whale feeding! It was very interesting to see the whale move in a circle, then a tighter circle. Next he sort of swept upward with his flipper, then up came his open mouth for a quick ton or two of food! It was truly fascinating to watch.
Our departure from Warren Cove was marked by a thick fog which remained during our 32 mile trip to La Bouchere Bay. Alaskan waters are frequently sprinkled with huge logs that must be avoided so we never traveled in the dark and someone was always on watch while we traveled. During this foggy trip, we had to pay close attention to the water as the floating debris could come up quickly and we didn’t want to damage Ticket to Ride.
We were happy to drop anchor in La Bouchere and relinquish our log watch. The guide book mentioned a hike along a rarely traveled road that is a graveyard of abandoned cars. Although usually walking on a road dotted with rusting cars isn’t high on our list of enticing activities, we were all very ready to get off the boat and unwind by taking a casual walk.
True to the description, there were many abandoned cars. We spent our time deciding which of the vehicles we would choose to restore…. does one of them call to you?
The following day we motored 40 miles to St John Harbour which was simply a place to stage our passage through the Wrangle Narrows which required us to time the currents to pass safely. We saw an interesting truck transport which looked like a homemade barge being guided across the water by two service boats.
Our final stop with Shellie and Randy was Petersburg where we arrived the following day, August 2nd. After two weeks of our own cooking, we chose to eat lunch out at Enge’s Deli which Shellie and Randy remembered from their visit to St. Petersburg. The food was great, so we understand why they remembered Enge’s Deli. Frank and I agree that the cinnamon rolls we bought one morning from Enge’s are the best we have ever eaten!
Shellie is definitely great at research and when all of us talked about how fun it would be to take a float plane tour of a glacier, Shellie kicked it into gear the moment we found cell service. Her first few calls netted nothing, but then Shellie received a return call while we were chowing down at Enge’s…. she had landed us a tour for that afternoon at 2 pm!
BIG KUDDOS to Shellie for setting up this tour. Our pilot, Scott, took us up in his 1953 DeHavailland Beaver for a one hour tour. The cost was $200 per person and worth the expense! Scott was an excellent pilot and he also is a hunting guide, so he could tell us a bit about the area we flew over.
Seeing the glaciers from above was nothing short of spectacular. At times the glacier looked like a giant Baked Alaskan dessert after it had been flamed. (I’m probably the only person who thinks that.) The undulating surface punctuated with spires and holes was stunning to see.
I could almost feel the movement of the water before it froze around this rock and although the environment is fierce, there is something compelling about it that made me wish I could walk on the glacier.
Flying over the glacier allowed a much better perspective of how much area these ice masses currently encompass. With all of the atmospheric changes occurring and glaciers melting more rapidly now, we are very glad we were able to see them.
For the record, taking off and landing from the float plane was as cool as we anticipated. I would love to take another float plane tour. And how amazing is it that the plane and engine were built in 1953? That is even older than we are!
This was our final day with Shellie and Randy as they had flights out the next morning. We ate dinner at a local pizza joint and talked about the glacier tour and the two weeks we had spent traveling together. It was really hard to believe that our trip together was ending when we could still remember the night we were sitting on s/v Moondance and Randy with Shellie in Hawaii and they first mentioned visiting us in Alaska!
One thing is for certain; we packed a LOT into these two weeks and we were really happy that we had this time to spend with Moondance!
Polar Plunge Report:
Hawk Inlet: 57°
Pavlov Harbor: 54°
Pavlov Harbor: 54°
Takatz Bay: 51°
Gut Bay: 56°
Shelter Cove: 57°
Gingerbread Bay: 56°
Exploration Basin: 57°
Warren Cove: 57° and 60°
La Bouchere Bay 51°
Thank you for spending time reading our blog. Alaska was filled with so much beauty and constant movement that it is hard to whittle down the number of pictures and information in each journal. Looking through pictures, Alaska is even prettier than I sometimes remember. But the feeling of utter serenity I felt when walking through ancient forests: that memory I can recall clearly. If you would like to hear from us more often, please check our Facebook page or Instagram.
Our last Alaskan journal ended on the afternoon that Randy and Shellie of s/v Moondance arrived and Erik and Amelia moved onto s/v Kaléwa with Katie and Kevin. We had a big crab boil dinner on TTR with Katie, Kevin, Shellie, Randy, Erik and Amelia and generally enjoyed catching up and sharing time before we would wave goodbye in the morning.
Our plan was to make a short hop just to get away from the dock and back on the hook where Shellie, Randy, Frank and I would plan our route. Shellie and Randy had cruised in Alaska two years prior on their own boat and it was fun to compare experiences and plan to visit places they had seen and some they had not.
We had heard from some local fishermen that the salmon were really hitting at Point Retreat, not far from Auke Bay, so although the guys were skeptical about a fisherman sharing good fishing locations, we chose to steer TTR past that point on our way to No Name Cove at Hawk Inlet.
Much to our delight, we were very successful with our salmon fishing at Point Retreat. Within 30 minutes we caught three king salmon! However, we released all three because we weren’t licensed to harvest Kings. The Alaskan fishing permit requires you to buy a special license to catch king salmon. We hadn’t bought those so we released the fish – we aren’t into illegal fishing and we surely don’t want bad karma from cheating the system!
After a better than expected night at No Name Cove, we upped anchor and headed into the Chatham Strait but we encountered the worst motoring conditions we had seen since arriving in Alaska. We had SE winds with opposing currents that created chop and waves and generally miserable conditions.
We all agreed to cut the day short rather than endure the conditions and Shellie and Randy found a good spot named Pavlov Harbor to drop anchor. This unexpected stop turned out to be a great anchorage and a wonderful surprise!
There was a river with a rocky drop-off with a salmon ladder on one side. Of course we took Day Tripper to the river to explore the water fall and hike a state park trail that started near the river. We brought bear spray on the walk and happily didn’t encounter any bears. You can see the beauty of the area the trail wound through by looking at the photos.
Since we arrived early, we also had time to do a little fishing from Day Tripper and once again we were very successful; this time with silver salmon! The one we kept was a good size and provided four meals for four people!
Seeing as how lucky our harvesting had been, we decided to put out the crab pots near where some commercial pots were dropped.
The weather dictated another night in Pavlov but we were all happy to stay and enjoy the unexpected beauty…. we saw a brown bear and her cubs two or three times. The picture shows them near the stream we hiked the first day.
Frank and Randy went to shore to find firewood as we wanted to try smoking some of the salmon and when they were returning to the dinghy they spotted the momma bear and cubs by the waterfall. From the dinghy, they guys actually watched the momma bear grab a salmon at the base of the waterfall, then run into the woods with her cubs following…… I guess everyone was having salmon for dinner!
Shellie made salmon chowder for all of us for dinner. Yum. How lucky are we to have guests who help with the planning and cook too?!
Our next destination was Takatz Bay which is another gorgeous anchorage. We anchored in about 50’ of water and from our anchor spot could see two separate waterfalls tumbling from high on the hillside. While on TTR, the sound of the rushing waterfalls provided delightful background music during dinner and while we slept!
In the back part of Takatz, there is a tidal flat that is too shallow to dinghy through at low tide, but during high tide it is deep enough to dinghy across the tidal flats. With Randy at the throttle, we puttered right up to the river that cascades energetically through large boulders and into the bay. We were so close to the rushing water that the spray misted into our faces and the sound of the water was very loud. Another demonstration of mother nature’s power and beauty.
While exploring Takatz Bay, we spotted some raspberries and Frank tried to pick a few from the bow of the dinghy.
In Takatz, we saw a cruise company called “The Un-Cruise” which has smaller ships and had people out in kayaks or on shore hiking with a guide. I think the idea of a smaller cruise like this one that can go into more unique anchorages is more appealing than larger cruise lines.
We all would have liked to stay longer in Takatz but Gut Bay was quietly calling to us.
We had the anchor up by 5 am. As we left Takatz Bay, the early morning, low lying clouds created a completely different look in the bay and created interesting photos. Our usual early morning departures in Alaska are made easier by the changed appearance of our locations in the morning light.
Despite the less than fetching name, Gut Bay was another pretty stop. The entry to Gut Bay was easier than we anticipated, however when we plotted the recommended anchor locations on our chart, they both showed us dropping anchor on land – a good reason one cannot rely solely on electronics!
We took Day Tripper out to explore a nearby river and found a raised platform that appeared ready to use as a base for pitching a tent. We tied up there and set out to try and ford a trail to a secondary basin of water which was only accessible on foot. We carefully picked our spots through the various streams and truly tested how waterproof our boots were. Shellie lost that test as her boots definitely had water ingress. Plus I think her’s were the shortest so she had to be very careful when choosing her path!
Even with bear spray in hand, we were less than comfortable as we moved across the water. This looked like prime bear territory. Frank forded ahead and was soon across the water and working his way into some dense, head-high brush. After three scat sightings in a very short time, even Frank agreed it was time to turn back.
The areal shot makes the trek through the stream and to the other water look very short, but we just didn’t think it was wise to try our luck. Mostly I was concerned about accidentally coming between a bear and her cubs.
We ended up backtracking and exploring the woods we had passed before fording the streams. We felt more comfortable here because we could see further and saw fewer bear calling cards.
Although we weren’t successful in reaching the other pool of water, once again Alaska offered up gifts from the depth. We landed three more Dungeness crabs and two silver salmon. We released the salmon and kept the two qualifying crabs. Yum.
Once again we were up early and the morning marine layer made for a spooky departure as we left Gut Bay. This day held two surprises for us…
Thank you for spending time reading our blog. Alaska was filled with so much beauty and constant movement that it is hard to whittle down the number of pictures and information in each journal. Next week I’ll finish the time we spent exploring with s/v Moondance. If you would like to hear from us more often, please check our Facebook page or Instagram.
I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and I never thought about hurricanes. Tornadoes, yes. Hurricanes? I hardly even knew what they were.
Now we live on a boat and hurricanes are a determining factor in where we want to be at different times of the year and thus have a major influence on our lives. In 2020, we had planned to avoid the hurricane season by sailing to French Polynesia in March. The plan was to stay for a while in the Marquesas Islands where hurricanes are virtually unheard of.
But like every other person in the world, our 2020 plans have changed and we are spending this hurricane season in Hawaii.
Pretty views in Hanalei Bay, Kauai
Fortunately, Hawaii rarely suffers from hurricanes, but recently Hurricane Douglas developed and decided to head toward these beautiful islands.
Randy and Shellie pulling Frank on the foil board.
We were happily anchored in Hanalei Bay, Kauai when Douglas began swishing about in the Pacific and heading this direction. Between swims, foiling practice and visits with other boaters, we began exploring our hurricane options.
Most of the local boaters were taking the hurricane threat fairly lightly but since Frank and I experienced running away from Puerto Rico when Hurricane Maria hit, and we saw friends who remained suffer severe damage, we tend to err on the side of caution.
That little green dot represents TTR in Hanalei Bay.
Folks who have permanent marina slips for their boats already know they are going to ride out any storm in the marina and thus go through some lengthy steps to prepare:
- remove sails and canvas
- remove any loose objects
- tie down anything that remains on deck
- tie, cross tie and reinforce all of the lines that keep the boat in the dock
Since we do not have a permanent marina home, our options vary depending on our location. Here in Hawaii, we had contacted a couple of marinas and they either did not have room for us or only had an end tie available. The issue with an end tie is that we can only secure TTR from one side so we have no way to secure her in the middle of a slip to prevent her from banging against the peer when winds push her in all directions. That was not a good option as we had visions of Ticket to Ride surging and smashing against the dock.
When we were in the Caribbean, it was possible to find mangrove holes where one could anchor and secure the boat and the roots and trunks of the mangroves absorbed much of the storm, thus offering a viable hiding place during a storm.
We are not aware of such places in Hawaii.
Much like when we were in Puerto Rico and sailed away from Hurricane Maria, we believed our best option was also to sail away and avoid the storm altogether. The difference this time was that we didn’t have a destination to sail to; instead we were just sailing out of harms way and would be bobbing about until it was safe to return to land.
There were a few other boats anchored in Hanalei Bay who had the same plan, so several of us left the Bay on Saturday, 48 hours ahead of when the storm was expected to reach Kauai.
When deciding where to run from Douglas, we originally considered sailing north because forecasts showed a chance of the hurricane passing Kauai on its’ south side. But as the storm tracks were updated, it became more likely that Douglas was going to pass over Hanalei Bay or on the northerly side.
After much discussion between us and with other sailors, we decided a better plan was to sail south, thus keeping the Hawaiian Islands between TTR and Hurricane Douglas. The plan was to sail our way south on the western side of the islands while Douglas stormed north on the eastern side of the islands.
TTR sailing w R1 in the main and the self-tacking jib.
Fortunately this plan worked well and TTR encountered very little of Hurricane Douglas’ effects. The highest true wind speeds we encountered was 31 knots and the highest seas we saw were probably 8-10 feet.
We saw no rain and the seas were reasonable.
Frank did an amazing job of reviewing the weather reports, analyzing the wind predictions and guiding us toward the lighter wind spots. In fact, after the storm passed us on Sunday, we saw a long stretch of very flat seas and only 6 knots of wind!
When we sailed out of Hanalei Bay, we had the genoa and self-tacking jib up as foresails. We did find we used the self-taker most often and we had one reef in the main at all times.
All told, we were only out sailing about 48 hours. We left Hanalei around 9 am Saturday and we dropped anchor off of Maui at 8 am Monday.
Things I learned:
- TTR is a sturdy, well designed and well fabricated sailboat. She can handle much more than I can. (Ok, I already knew that.)
- I love how quiet the rigging is on this HH55!
- Frank has a higher tolerance for speed and bumpiness than I do.
- Self-tackers are especially nice when short handing in rough seas.
If I were to change anything about how we handled this sail, I would have put a second reef in the main after we were behind Oahu and had a little distance between where we started and where the eye was predicted to hit Kauai. While a second reef wasn’t necessary and we were completely safe, I would have been more comfortable since we didn’t exactly know how windy it might become; especially at night when I am alone on watch.
I would like to express our appreciation to the many friends who reached out to wish us well and who followed our track as we were avoiding the storm. I appreciated the prayers and the messages we received. It is comforting to know others are looking out for us when we are out of communication and guessing our best course.
Kuddos and big thanks to Frank for handling the lions share of the decision making. He is very good at analyzing the weather and I am often only able to listen as he tells me what is happening so I don’t get sea sick. I’m fortunate that he is so capable and that he doesn’t get sea sick!
This is a very simplified version of the decisions that must go into how to handle an upcoming hurricane. There are so many facets and it takes hours of weather watching and option assessment to come to a conclusion. Each boater must consider the capabilities of his own boat. How prepared is the boat and can it be moved right now? What does your insurance mandate? Have you filed a hurricane plan with your insurance company that must be followed or can it be changed? How much time is available to get into a safe zone before the weather affects sea conditions? How healthy and how capable is the crew? What “outs” are available if the plan isn’t working? Are communication systems up and functioning on the boat? Do you have people in place to communicate in case your weather information fails? Who knows where you are and can keep up with your location in case a problem arises? How much fuel, food and water are on board? These are a few of the factors that must be considered.
At this time, it is very important that we recognize and thank Tommy Henshaw for his incredible help during Hurricane Douglas. Tommy is the young man with whom we became friends in Kaneohe Bay. I think he is our living guardian angel. Tommy was in communication with us several times a day during our Hurricane Douglas sail. Tommy watched our tracks, looked at weather and sent us the latest information based on images we are unable to get while at sea. He sent us messages just to let us knowhe was keeping an eye out for us. Tommy has shared local knowledge and offered information and advice that has been invaluable! Many thanks, Tommy!!
As always, thank you for visiting our blog. We would love to hear your thoughts using the comments below. If you want to hear from us more often, please look for us on FB or Instagram (hh55ttr).
Exploring Oahu is not easy without a car, so after we finished our two week inter-island quarantine, we rented an auto and set out to explore several parts of this island. We are having some sail work done and will remain in Kaneohe until that is completed, so Kaneohe is our base of exploration for now.
View from the original road between the leeward and windward sides of Oahu ~ and a stop on the Shaka Tour.
Laura Morrelli told us about a self guided tour app called “Shaka Guide Oahu” which we downloaded and used to explore a bit of the island. In addition, we have driven the shores and checked out a few locations that might be nice to anchor in for a few nights once our sails are back on board.
One morning we set out for Ka’ena Point Reserve. Shellie and Randy of s/v Moondance told us it was a great walk and that they saw some baby albatrosses there, so we decided to drive over and check it out. (Albatrosses are at the end of this post.)
Looking back toward our starting point at that white sand beach in the distance.
We chose to walk from the state park on the south side of Ka’ena Point, but due to COVID-19, the parking lot was closed which added an extra mile each way to our walk. The eight mile round trip hike was flat and hugged the coast line so there was plenty to see as we strolled along.
At one point Frank and I were startled to hear a growl coming from the rocks and we looked sharply thinking there was a monk seal nearby. But actually the noise was from a blow hole we nicknamed “Old Growler.”
Old Growler spraying mist.
Old Growler actually turned out to be two blow holes and Frank was almost sprayed while taking the second video.
Old Growler spitting at Frank
Ka’ena Point Reserve was established in 1983 to protect the natural dune ecosystem. This is one of the last unspoiled dune ecosystems in the main Hawaiian Islands and allows visitors to see what natural dune habitats found in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands look like. In 2011, a large fence, enclosing 49 acres, was installed to prevent vehicular traffic and to keep predators like mongooses, rats, cats and dogs, out of the area. Within the Reserve are monk seals, Laysan Albatrosses and other birds and plants unique to Hawaii.
Monk seals are the only marine mammal that reside only within US Territorial waters and the majority of these endangered seals live in the remote northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
Image from Hawaiian Ocean Project
We were lucky enough to see two monk seals; one at the beach at the start of our walk and the other on the rocks at the point. Both were sleeping in the sun and the only movement I saw was a very occasional flipper flick. Visitors are required to keep a distance of 150 feet so I couldn’t get a decent photo.
We also saw some unique plants:
The aptly name Starfish Cactus in bloom.
“Sedeveria” or “Green Rose” grew with abandon throughout the Reserve.
Our friends from the 2016 Sail to the Sun Rally know that Frank and I love to stumble upon bubbly pools and when we do, we climb or trek energetically just to submerge ourselves in those waters.
There were several bubbly pool candidates as we walked to the Reserve and on our way back we just had to stop at the one we deemed “the best!”
Perfectly clear water inviting us to cool off.
We had to scramble down some rocks to get to this little pool, but the volcanic rock was rough and not slippery which was helpful. We lounged in the water, which was the perfect temperature, and Frank took pictures of plants and fish under the water.
Four little fishies in this picture.
Pretty quickly the waves grew as the tide came up, and this pool could clearly become rough and dangerous. We had to abandon our bubbly pool when the waves began crashing over the rocks, but it sure was fun and refreshing.
You can see the wave hitting the rocks behind us!
After our hike, we drove to Ko Olina Marina where our friends Dan and Susan of s/v Kini Pōpō and Shellie and Randy of s/v Moondance were meeting us to share dinner and celebrate our 36th wedding anniversary. Of course we stopped for a couple of bottles of bubbly to mark the occasion. It was really great to celebrate our anniversary with an excellent walk and time with special friends! Thank you Moondance for hosting and Kini Pōpō for staying awake after your overnight sail from Maui!
AND NOW, on to the Albatross…..
“At length did cross an Albatross,
Thorough the fog it came;
As if it had been a Christian soul,
We hailed it in God’s name.
It ate the food it ne’er had eat,
And round and round it flew.
The ice did split with a thunder-fit;
The helmsman steered us through!”
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1798)
Who remembers reading this poem in high school? The Rime is about an old mariner who relates his experiences to a man he happens to stop while walking along a road. I remembered little about this poem except that the sailor had to hang an albatross around his neck.
The albatross was considered an omen of good luck to sailors because it usually indicated the wind was coming up and the sails would soon be filled again. Plus birds were thought to be able to move between the spiritual world and the earthly realm so they were considered supernatural and natural. We could discuss this poem for hours, but it is through the Rime that the albatross became a more complex symbol because Coleridge related the bird to christianity and redemption.
Photo courtesy of All About Birds.
Anyway! Ka’ena Point Reserve is one of the few places where Laysan Albatrosses nest and we wanted to see these mythical birds. We saw many fledglings who still had their downy feathers and were not quite ready to fly away. In the distance we saw one grown bird feeding a fledgling. Parents feed their young a thick, concentrated oil extracted from their prey and regurgitate it into the mouth of the fledgling.
Still a lot of downy feathers on this fledgling.
Surprisingly, the birds were sitting in open areas on the sand, not well hidden and very vulnerable. As gusts of wind came through we watched a few fledglings stand and spread their winds, seemly to get a feeling for just how those wings were supposed to work. One or two took tiny hops with wings spread wide, but they quickly dropped back to a laying position as if a tad bit frightened by the test hop.
Seeing how the albatross was historically important for sailors, I thought I would share a few fun facts about them.
- The Great Albatross has the largest wingspan of any living bird. The wings can span to over 11 feet!
- Albatrosses live long lives. The oldest known is a female, Laysan Albatross named “Wisdom” who is at least 66 years old!
- Albatrosses can fly up to 600 miles without flapping their wings!
- These birds can dance! Take a look at the first 15 seconds of this YouTube video and witness the Laysan Albatrosses courting through dance.
- Albatross take up to two years in the courting process and then they mate for life.
- Depending on the species, Albatrosses fledglings take between 3 and 10 months to fly and once they take off, they “leave land behind for 5 to 10 years until they reach sexual maturity.”
- Parents feed the fledglings until they fly and are so tired at the end that they often wait another two years before reproducing again.
- There are 22 species in the Albatross family.
- Albatrosses eat mostly squid and schooling fish.
- Although considered a good omen by sailors, in literature, the albatross is often used metaphorically to represent a psychological curse or burden.
Photo courtesy of US Fish and Wildlife.
This picture was taken at Midway Atoll, HI. You have to admit that the Laysan Albatross in this pic has really pretty markings.
So there you have it, a few fun facts about Albatrosses. Now I need to go dig out The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and see if I enjoy reading it now for pleasure more than I did as homework in high school.
Anybody want to join me?
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So we arrived in Mexico City on Monday and we have been running full tilt since – in a very good way. We had planned this trip with Shellie and Randy of s/v Moondance who are also applying for a long stay visa (LSV) to French Polynesia. Shellie and Mary Grace have spent a lot of time together or via e-mail reviewing and preparing the paperwork for the LSV, and the four of us had appointments at the French Consulate on Wednesday morning.
Working together, Frank arranged for a private driver (thank you, Eduardo, for helping us!!) and Shellie and Randy arranged for a perfect VRBO.
Our first day was spent preparing the final pieces of our paperwork, getting the appropriate visa photos and checking against each other’s check lists one last time.
Oh the paperwork, the paperwork!
Wednesday we arrived at the consulate and had the first four appointments. We were all thrilled that we had every document required and now we only have to wait four weeks to (hopefully) receive our LSV.
Once the paperwork was submitted, we spent the remainder of our time in Mexico City celebrating and exploring some of the historical highlights. Tonight, Saturday, we are suffering from information overload so we are chilling at the VRBO and taking advantage of the excellent wifi.
Here is just a glimpse of what we toured. By the way I read somewhere Mexico City has more museums than any other city in the world.
Right after a celebratory lunch we headed to Castillo De Chapultepec, which translates into “the hill of the grasshoppers.” This castle was a summer home for Viceroy Bernardo de Gálvez, who, for our Texas friends, also was instrumental in developing the port of Galveston. We hired a guide who inundated us with this and other information including how the castle became a military school which was once over thrown by the US Marines. For the “one minute” history of the castle, see this link.
Stairway entrance from the outside courtyard.
One of about eight stain glass windows of Greek goddesses.
A balcony view of the Promenade of the Empress, now Promenade of Reform.
Upstairs garden with and observatory building in the middle.
After visiting such high falutin digs , we had sundown celebration drinks at Sofitel, a brand new French hotel on the Promenade of Reform and right next door to the American Embassy.
Cheers to finished paperwork and exploring Mexico City.
Looking down the Promenade of Reform toward the castle.
Thursday was a BIG day. We started at the Teotihuacan Pyramids which are about an hour from our VRBO, then we had lunch in a darling town next to the pyramids and we finished the day with a visit to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadeloupe.
At the pyramids, we again hired a guide and Joel was simply excellent! Plus his English was easier to understand than our guide at the castle.
A model of the Teotihuacan City uncovered so far. (Museum of Anthropology)
Honestly, the pyramids were amazing and extremely interesting. For instance, Joel said that if you cut a bag of sand and let it fall, the slope of the hill it forms will be 45 degrees.
Frank climbing up that 45% slope.
The pyramids were built at a 45 degree angle and the theory is that in the event of an earthquake, relatively little damage would occur. (Architects might disagree.)
View from the Temple of the Moon down the avenue of the dead; Sun Temple to the left.
Another interesting point, the steps, seats and walls of the colosseum were built with a 37.5 degree slant to make perfect acoustics! Joel would whistle facing one direction and the sound would carry counterclockwise all the way around the arena.
The huge colosseum with a sacrificial alter in the center.
Joel told us that a game was played on this colosseum field and the winner of the game was immediately sacrificed to the gods. This meant his heart was cut out and the heart and his blood were offered to the gods. YUCK
Perspective: one part of the colosseum and the alter wall to the left.
Joel quipped that in Mexico they say the reason they don’t win Olympic games is that all their best athletes were sacrificed. Macabre humor.
Walls of the homes where the upper class lived.
We saw remnants of some of the noble’s homes which had running water, baths and toilets, plus aqueducts, collecting pools, all kinds of interesting conveniences.
Inside were some beautiful colors and pictographs.
The Temple of the Sun behind us…. yes we did climb to the top.
The view from the Sun Temple required some time.
Another view from the Sun Temple looking toward the Colosseum.
So this is absolutely just a tiny bit of information about the pyramids which were supposedly built beginning in 100BCE and at its zenith had a population of 125,000. You can follow this Wikipedia link for a quick overview.
Tostadas, tacos and enchiladas – yum!
Walking the temples created an appetite so we went to a nearby town for some local food and we hit the jackpot! We sat at a local market and had delicious fare surrounded by locals eating and doing their shopping.
Colorful and clean, we walked the streets and poked about.
After all that pagan imagery, I was happy to stop at the Basilica de Guadeloupe. On this site, Our Lady of Guadeloupe appeared to a poor Aztec farmer, Juan Diego, who had converted to Catholicism a few years earlier. Long story short, on December 9, 1531 Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego and asked him to build an alter on the hill of Tepeyac. Juan Diego asked permission of the local Bishop who refused until Juan Diego received a miracle. A few days later, Our Lady again appeared to Juan Diego and told him to climb the hill and pick the flowers.
This was December and the hill usually sported cactus and little else. But Juan Diego found a bounty of beautiful red flowers he had never seen before. He gathered the flowers in his tilma (Aztec robe of sorts) and returned to Our Lady who arranged the flowers in Juan Diego’s tilma.
Juan Diego immediately went to the Bishop and dropped the flowers from his tilma at the feet of the Bishop. When the flowers fell out, an image of Our Lady Of Guadeloupe was imprinted on the tilma.
Juan Diego’s tilma: I was stunned by the beauty of this image.
Since 1531, the tilma has been on display and we saw it in person. Honestly, I was stunned by the detail and vibrance of Our Lady! A miracle indeed!!
And by the way, the Bishop recognized those red flowers as Castilian roses which were not grown in Mexico.
On December 26, 1531 an alter was dedicated to Our Lady of Guadeloupe.
One of the older churches erected on Tepeyac hill.
The interior of the oldest church.
Unfortunately I can’t find the reference but one article I read stated that after Our Lady’s appearance to Juan Diego, 9 million people converted to Catholicism!
Currently there are four churches on Tepeyac hill and I didn’t understand enough Spanish to determine which was built when but this appears to be the oldest, though it cannot be the original alter.
A statue depicting Juan Diego’s delivery of the roses and the image.
Sooo, that was our long and very gratifying third day in Mexico City.
Today we spent most of the morning at the Anthropological Museum which was recommended by no less than five different people.
The museum was beautifully done and filled with spectacular artifacts. However, my brain was overwhelmed from the prior days and the fact that all the information was in Spanish and I had to use a translator for every piece. In the end I just looked for things that caught my eye. Here are a few highlights:
A picture from our visit to the pyramid colosseum and…
A restored version at the Anthropology Museum showing how they looked long ago,
Perhaps the most fascinating city to me was the one built on muddy edges of Lake Texcono where the people built “chinampas” which are little artificial rectangular islands. The chinampas were made by planting aheujotes trees that were resistant to dampness at the corners. Then the edges were marked by logs and the plot created was filled with alternating layers of water lilies and mud which provided a fertile base for corn and other crops the Indians farmed.
A depiction of the city built on Lake Texcoco.
This city had canals connecting the chinampas making this a waterway city similar to Venice, Italy. Today the lake no longer exists and Mexico City has grown up all around it.
Most of us have seen the beautiful embroidery and bead work of some traditional Mexican clothing and the Anthropology Museum had displays of old looms and the clothing created.
Such detail and bright color.
This work is all tiny beads individually sewn in place!
I read a few surprising things about the Aztec culture. The upper class would adorn themselves with jewels and precious metals but if a lower class person was found wearing them, the crime was punishable by death! I guess jewelry isn’t always a girl’s best friend!
I thought COSTCO on Saturdays was bad, but 30K?!
Also, I thought this display of an Aztec market was interesting especially since I could see it closely and see the variety of wares on display. But what really surprised me was that the information stated that as many as 30,000 people would visit this market daily!
After a few hours of brain saturation at this museum, we walked back to the Polanco area which is filled with high end shops and sidewalk cafes.
Ahh, the view from a sidewalk cafe!
Today’s lunch was upscale, fat-filled and very tasty!
So we have another half day tomorrow before we fly back to Ticket to Ride. It has been a whirlwind trip and we are ready to get home. But we will miss Randy and Shellie. I cannot imagine two people easier or more fun to travel with and explore this fascinating, extremely large and diverse city!
If you have made it this far into this blog post, you are a champ! This really only covers a portion of our time in Mexico City. Hopefully I can share snippets on the Facebook or Instagram so you can see the lighter side of our trip.
Thanks for digging in and sharing this land adventure. We will let you know if/when we receive our long stay visa for French Polynesia. In the mean time, let us know if you have any comments. All the best from TTR.