Now that we are back in the vicinity of La Paz, work has begun on prepping Joy for her next leg of the adventure, crossing the Pacific. It’s hard to believe that less than ten months ago we were leaving Panama for Alaska via Hawaii, sailing over 8,000 miles in about 9 weeks to Sitka. Since then we have added at least another 3,000 miles making our way down through SE Alaska, British Columbia, West coast US and Baja Mexico. What an adventurous year it’s been for us Joysters and now ‘here we go again’!
We had a wonderful sail down to La Paz from Bahia Concepcion, this time we took full advantage of the northerly winds to actually sail pretty much all the way. We stopped at a few anchorages on the way back that we missed on our way north, our favourites being Honeymoon Cove on Isla Danzante a couple of miles from Escondido, and a beautiful bay on the mainland Baja called Agua Verde where we bought some goats cheese from the local dairy. At last, some cheese with flavour.
Isla Partida, the small island just north of Espiritu Santo, was our last port of call before heading back to La Paz harbour. We stayed a couple of days in a large bay called El Cardonal (which is the name for the tall cactus found here), and has a beautiful walk across a valley to the other side of the island on a well-marked, easy-peasy, kind-on-the-knees trail. We were rather taken with this bay, especially as we passed an osprey sitting on her nest on the cliff face as we entered, although the wind did accelerate through the valley and blast us from one way to the other pretty regularly but it was a small price to pay.
Then on night 3 our overnight forecast of a shift in wind from the NE to a 10 knot north-wester turned into a 20+ knot south-west wind, entering directly into the bay pushing along with it a lumpy sea with 20 miles of fetch. Jez can pretty much sleep through anything, I gave up trying at 3am and went on anchor watch until 6am when things finally started to calm down and I dropped off to sleep. With more of the same now showing in the forecast we decided it was time to get back to La Paz and knuckle down to some serious preparations.
Whilst waiting for some parts to arrive from the UK we have been busy adjusting our spray hood fixings to stop water getting in. The spray hood (or dodger) was attached to the coachroof by three sections of track at two different levels. Inevitably, especially when heeled over, water runs in through the gaps in the track and we often have towels at the ready in rough weather as that salt water always attempts to get down the companionway and then runs over the electronics, not a good combination! So Jez has built up the lower section of the coachroof in teak using his rather handy carpentry skills so that it’s all one level and then we have fitted a one-piece track across the front. I have been busy with the sewing machine adapting the spray hood and fitting a new bolt-rope. We sure are softy sailors who like our comforts, getting wet especially with sea water isn’t very pleasant and on a long passage getting things dry when covered in salt is not easy, so we are hoping this will improve things further.
Meanwhile our experience with importing parts into Mexico using DHL has been a little stressful, causing me to discover an unexpected taste for tequila. DHL refused at first to process them as a temporary import (as we will be leaving Mexico with said items) and slapped us with an 11,500 peso bill (£450) for customs fees and duty and a persistent reminder that if we didn’t pay by 15th March our package would ‘go into abandonment’, charming! We had made sure the package had all the correct paperwork for a temporary import before it left the UK, including stamped customs documents we obtained in La Paz for each item but still DHL refused to recognise them. I managed to find a copy of the Mexican law on allowing temporary imports for boats such as ourselves, helpfully translated into English under each section, on Marina de La Paz’s website, and I emailed this to DHL and the customs broker. After 23 emails in over two weeks and just as many frustrating phone calls I finally got some action, I guess slow action is better than none. We got a reduced bill without the duty, but still stupidly expensive at 5,000 pesos – to put this into perspective, here in Mexico that’s 465 cans of beer, or 43 litres of tequila! Daylight robbery.
But now that’s all water under a very dodgy bridge, we took delivery yesterday and have already started fitting things. We have opted for a B&G wireless wind transducer because it was actually the cable inside the mast that had failed on our old Raymarine system. This cable is secured inside conduit in the mast and will not budge, so we can’t replace it without unstepping the mast and that’s an expensive option! So our solution is to fit a wireless transducer instead, which relays the data via bluetooth to a base fitted at deck level which is in turn connected to our network. After a bit of trouble getting the two to pair, we discovered with the help of my trusty friend ‘Señor Google’ that B&G have provided the wrong sequence in their set-up instructions! So that resolved our problem and hey presto, we now have apparent wind speed and angle on our displays once more. Our other part is to replace our Echopilot forward looking depth sonar which won’t be quite so straight forward as there are cables to run, control boxes to mount and we discovered this morning that the video-out cable supplied with it has a different connector to our video-in on the Raymarine display! Don’t you just love these companies!
So now we need to start the hunt in La Paz for an adapter which I am sure will involve many miles of fruitless walking, something we seem well practised in. We feel quite at home walking in Mexico and have never felt unsafe walking the streets, although we had a rather strange incident with a little old lady one day as we walked the pavement past her house in downtown La Paz. I had seen her looking at us as we approached, and when she broke out in Spanish, which sadly we couldn’t understand, I apologised with ‘lo siento, hablo un poco de Espanol’. With that she proceeded to mimic a karate kick on Jez and pretended to hit him with her stick! We walked away laughing but quite bewildered as she ranted ‘mi casa, mi casa’ and went inside her gate. Was she inviting us in or warning us off? Who knows, there’s nowt so queer as folk!
We hope to be ready to leave Mexico for the Marquesas by the end of March, and the clock is ticking…..But we have still found time to entertain a few unexpected callers at ‘nuestra casa’.