Showing posts from 2015

New Year's Eve

I've never really been into New Years Eve celebrating other than ones in the past concerning winter camping out or going on a moonlit ski.  Anyway I'll be spending this one with my cousin Craig camped on highway 1 about 10 miles north of Santa Cruz.  It's great you can still just pull over and sleep on the side of the road in spots.  We will celebrate in a historic old times sake kind of way, although we likely won't be awake until midnight...or even 10 pm.?
I got a text and the boat I'm crewing on reached San Francisco this midmorning.  After sailing all night, once at the marina he crashed I suppose as he didn't text back with the marina address or answer my phone call.  We continued on with our day and Craig is now out surfing.  We will drive to the boat in the morning.  It sounds like we will head right out tomorrow afternoon due to the high nightly rate at San Francisco Marina and Yacht Club... just 2 miles in from the Golden Gate Bridge.  

It's been a month since arriving

It's now been one month since I arrived to the Oakland Airport. My cousin picked me up and I've been staying at his place ever since. I knew this time of year had the potential to keep small craft in port due to strong winds and large seas. Originally, I thought about renting a car and driving up to Eureka to meet the boat but once I got here I decided to just hang out with my cousin and wait for the sailboat to reach San Francisco. After 2 weeks stuck in Brookings Oregon and almost 2 weeks in Eureka he had made it to Fort Bragg on Sunday. He said he was hoping to reach San Francisco on Wednesday, which is tomorrow so it won't be long now. My cousin wants to go surfing again so we will be heading to the coast tomorrow and this time I'll be packed and ready to get onboard.
It might seem like a long time to be waiting for the boat?.. But it's been great reconnecting after nearly 40 years with my cousin and best childhood friend for a month.


My first Redwoods

After a couple of days on the coast, we drove over to Redwoods Regional Park up in the hills west of Oakland. Gregg, a friend of mine who was a kayak guide for a couple seasons in '98 & '99 had invited me via Facebook to a Shinrin Yoku Forest Therapy Walk. Gregg is currently a nurse and still guides occasional kayak trips. Most recently he was co-guide with a Prescott College group on a 2.5 month trip to the Sea of Cortez.

Gregg was working towards some credentials or certification for this type of Japanese forest therapy and is soon headed to Japan to further his pursuit. He is hoping to eventually convince certain doctors to prescribe this kind of therapy to patients suffering from an inadequate connection to the natural world. Anyway, it was interesting and great to see Gregg again. I'd last seen Gregg around 2003 when he stopped in Grand Marais on his way to Alaska where he worked as a nurse for a few years. At some point he moved to the Bay Area of Califor…

To the Coast

It's Christmas Eve that I'm writing this. I will be spending Christmas with my cousin Craig for the first time in perhaps 40 years ..?  The boat I'll be crewing on has reached Eureka after over 2 weeks of waiting in Brookings, Oregon for a break in the weather.  He's now been in Eureka over a week but it sounds like he may be able to make progress south this weekend.  It's possible he could reach San Francisco sometime next week.
Last Thursday through Saturday, Craig and I drove out to the coast to his favorite surfing place in Davenport, about 10 miles north of Santa Cruz.  We camped out 2 nights and it was nice to see that at least in Santa Cruz county you can still just pull over at numerous places along Highway 1 and sleep. My cousin slept in his truck topper.  I slept under the stars the first night and in a tiny tent during a rainy second night.   Craig got in a few surf sessions Thursday afternoon and Friday then we drove to Redwood Regional Park near O…

Catching up with my Cousin

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It's been one week now that I've been in California staying with my cousin Craig in the Central San Joaquin Valley.  He lives in Manteca so about a two hour drive to the coast or Yosemite National Park.  The sailboat I'm going to be crewing on is presently in Brookings, Oregon just north of the California border.  I was going to try getting up to Eureka, which would be the boats next stop but I've decided to wait until it reaches San Francisco.  Since I have a place to stay I figure I may as well let the boat catch up with where I am.  The boat is currently waiting for improved conditions and has been in Brookings since Monday the 30th.  I've not talked to the captain since then but he said it will be a while before he can head out again.  There is currently a gale warning for that area with 40 - 50 knot winds and seas to 27 feet.

Catching up with my cousin has been wonderful.  We…

Crewing on a different sailboat

As it turned out my last post November 8th about meeting a boat in Long Beach California fell through.  I'd not yet booked my flight yet as I was waiting to hear when I should arrive based on the results of a haul out and boat inspection.  I took this to be an inspection of a boat already owned to make sure all was shipshape for the beginning of his planned sail around planet earth.  I found out after I contacted him for an update that the deal fell through.. Turns out he was yet to own the boat and was lining up crew before he even owned it?  Hmmmm?  

Anyway after sending out a few more inquiries I heard back from 2 different boats also heading south down the west coast.  One was planning to depart San Diego December 1st and sail to La Paz and hang out in the Sea of Cortez for the winter.  The other was further north in Astoria on the Columbia River bound for Panama by spring.  The first boat was a 41 year old captain and his dog on a 40 foot boat.  He stopped replying after our …

Smoke Rings


My 4th winter of volunteer crewing

Usually I wait to post until I'm 100% certain if there is such a thing...based on the fact I've not yet purchased my one way airfare to Long Beach California, where the boat is.  The previous 3 winters, on 3 different sailboats, I've been sailing in the western Caribbean.  Two of those 3 times the planned destination was the eastern Caribbean but boat engine problems caused a change of plans.  The second winter I was helping sail from Florida to Rio Dulce Guatemala but ended up jumping ship in Punta Allen Mexico.  I learned last winter that boat never made it to Rio Dulce and ran aground and sank trying to negotiate the channel through the reef into Xcalak Mexico.  Last year due to engine problems the captain decided Rio Dulce would be a better place for major engine repairs or replacement than the eastern Caribbean.  We ran into the boat I'd met last winter at a marina in Isla Mujeres and got the story.   After picking up replacement crew for me..sounded like someone…

Porpoises following Asperida

In the morning of the 5th day on the passage a large pod of porpoises came and swam along with Asperida about a half hour.  I was 4 am to 8 am shift and Walter briefly panicked when he didn't see me in the cockpit.  We were sailing along at a pretty slow speed on auto pilot.

It's always fun when a pod of porpoises come swim along with the boat while sailing. This was the most I've ever seen perhaps almost 50 but it's just an estimate.

Looking back

This was taken after clearing into Guatemala in Livingston just before heading out to the boat.  I thought it was a nice photo of Asperida.

Guatemala City

I've really only been within walking distance of the Hostel I chose to stay at.  Anyway it's a big city with plenty of familiar franchise presence.  The hostel recommended a couple places with good and inexpensive food.  I only tried the one but it's only a breakfast and lunch place and on my first day I arrived 10 minutes after 3 and they stop serving lunch at 3.  I walked further to a big fancy modern mall and mistakenly chose to eat at a restaurant called Skillets.  It was a total of Q 104 which is about $13.65.  A typical lunch or dinner price back home.  The next day I had lunch at the recommended place and it was Q 25 or $3.35 US.  After that good inexpensive lunch I decided to walk over to the grocery store to get a few things for later rather than going out somewhere.  I stopped at that same mall and was going to get a coffee but since just a cup of coffee small was over half the cost of my lunch I changed my was a Starbucks.  The mall had many familiar b…

The bus ride

The cruising guide books on Asperida covering Rio Dilce were from 2009 and another from 2013.  Even the more recent guide made reference to taking the chicken bus from Fronteras (Rio Dulce) to Guatemala City concerning a flight to where ever.  Well I'm not sure if they still had chicken buses for the route to 'The City' from Rio Dulce back in 2013 but the don't anymore.  Old repainted school buses from the U.S. are still used on various rural routes possibly even with the occasional customer bringing a chicken?  I suppose the success of tourism has the 2 main bus lines in the country using big comfy air conditioned Mercedes or other buses.  I took Litegua and the almost 6 hour bus ride only cost $10 U.S.  You start out heading up over the bridge spanning where the Rio Dulce becomes Lago Izabel.  Then you travel around 40 to 80 kph with occasion short stops.  Just short of half way there is a longer break at a hotel, cafeteria with restrooms.  About an hour past that st…


You hear about how bad the bugs are and that you need to have insect screening on your boat.  During the 12 or so days I was here I don't think I counted more than a dozen mosquitoes?  Maybe it's not the worst bug time of year?  Maybe if your accustom to minnesota mosquitoes they just aren't real thick in comparison?  Anyway it's 5 am now and I had a nice last night and a mosquito around 4 am.  Now I'll rest another hour before getting up.

Last sunset in Rio Dulce at Monkey Bay Marina.

This is actually a few nights back when the moon was full.  The boat is just a random boat anchored in Monkey Bay.  It's a steel hulled gaff rigged schooner with a lot of corrosion.

Another Pizza

Last evening we decided to go try a pizza at the nearby Catamaran Hotel and Marina.  It was better than the pizza at Sundog Cafe I think but still lacked ... It was a medium size pepperoni pizza and I doubt there was even one piece of pepperoni per slice of pizza.. Plenty of goey mozzarella cheese though...too much really.  The Catamaran restaurant was deserted so at first we decided to go check out another little restaurant up a creek in the next bay.  That one was devoid of customers as well so we returned to Catamaran.  We sat at the bar as there were other people though we spoke to no one besides the server.  The owner or manager was right next to me.  I asked about wifi and was surprised that at that Hotel/Marina you have to buy time on it?  Or perhaps actual Marina and hotel guests are giving it free?  Anyway he said I don't recommend it as it's not that great.... I think he didn't want to bother though I doubt he would have felt with selling it.  The bar had a big s…


Just 3 more nights for me.  Then 3 in the City.. It's the 5 days of a reunion visit of a best friend in high school and his wife I'm really looking forward to.  Then I fly to Duluth on March 18, spend one night home then go visit my dear old mom for her 94th Birthday!  It was another rainy day.. Not all,day but off and on with one particularly long and heavy rain in the late morning.  I was over in the big hang out area and stranded there for a couple hours?  The generator was running which is the main reason I. Decided on the alternative hang out.  Mostly the shared mobile hotspot with a 250 MB limit per 24 hours is adequate as long as you don't stream videos etc... And the manager says not for Skype video calls or FaceTime but a Russian guy here is using his 250 MB exclusively on FaceTime I'm guessing as he has a Mac laptop.  During these times loading of websites or even getting emails is slow to non successful.  I'm looking forward to better WiFi at Quetzalroo …

Monkey Bay Marina

It was a calm night and morning so after breakfast we hauled up the anchor and docked stern in using the dinghy to haul a line in for other cruisers on the dock to pull us in.  It's nice to have access to bathrooms and showers and garbage etc.. This marina actually composts and recycles.. The 2 drawbacks to me are the Internet is a shared cellular data plan with a 250 MB daily limit per device.  That's why Walter wanted to get his own plan.  The other is isolation as Tijax was within walkable distance to town.. Here there is no road or even's probably swampy?  It's called Monkey Bay due to the howler monkeys which we heard last night and early this morning...along with the barking dogs at the private places across the small bay.  Also no restaurant which maybe ends up saving you money but I kind of like having one at the marina or to at least be able to walk to one.  Tijax was $40 less per month also.  Right now we are running the generator rather than shore p…

Flooding and anchor drag

Yesterday March 2nd we had the most rain during the night and into the morning.  One of the first things I,saw as I was opening the companionway during a lull in the rain was our closest neighbor waving frantically as we had dragged anchor during the night and were quite clost to his boat.  We hauled up the anchor and moved out somewhat and dropped it again.  We were there quite a while drying things out as the rain finally seemed to have stopped.  There was quite a breeze too.  At one point we went to shore as Walter wanted to see about the cost of a cellular data plan as part of deciding between Tijax Marina or Monkey Bay Marina.  We dinghyed to Bruno's and quickly checked email.,  then some guy yelled who ever has the red dinghy immune saw come from the big black better get out to your boat as you've dragged anchor and your against someone else's boat.  We went out and untangled the mess.. It was the boat of a nice British couple who we've talked too sev…

About the boat I crewed on last winter

I heard mention on VHF the name of a boat I'd met in Isla Murejes while volunteer crewing in the boat I eventually jumped ship from in Punta Allen.  Aparently that captain had a friend he contacted come to help crew for the remainder of the way to Rio Dulce.  Those who followed last winters blog know it was not agoodmatch myself and that captain but I was toughing it out as I really wanted to see Rio Dulce.  It came to ahead just past Punta Allen and I jumped ship.  Well I'd emailed that captain about how the rest of his voyage went but never got a reply.  Sadly he and his friend crew who replaced me ran aground on the reef near the channel into Xcalak to clear out of Mexico.  The 2 of them had to jump off the boat and swim to shore.  Then they were fined $200,000 US for damaging the reef.  Once in prison while trying to arrange legal council the police offered to let them escape if they paid $4,000.  They could only scrounge up $2,000 which was excepted and they fled Mexico f…

Rio Dulce Gorge

I've booked my flights home for 3/13.  I'm flying out of Guatemala City on Friday the 13th.  So I've less than 2 weeks here in the Rio Dulce Marina area.  In fact I'll likely take the bus to Guatemala City 2 days early but certainly one.  It depends on what I find as far as hostels near the airport and if I want the extra day in the big city?  I guess it also gives me an extra margin of time for any bus breakdowns.  It's a 6 hour bus ride.  But this is about the Gorge of the Rio Dulce.  It's impressive especially the first half or so of the 7.5 mile "gorge".  The cruising guide book talks of seeing parrots and hearing howler monkeys but on the drizzly day we went through it was only pelicans, cormorants and egrets.  For those who ever saw any of the old Johnny Wiesmiller Tarzan movies I guess they were filmed here or at least some filming was done in the Rio Dulce gorge.  It makes me want to find some of those old films and watch them again.  I think …

Anchored near Fronteras

We had a nice restful sleep and were underway at 8:45 am to the Marina area of Rio Dulce. It was a 4 hour cruise and while we had hoped for good lighting for photos of the 7.5 mile gorge section it was cloudy then began to drizzle. It still made for interesting photos I think. The steep 300 foot jungle covered limestone gorge is impressive. As we approached the El Golfete section it rained very hard. By the time we reached where we decided to anchor the rain had stopped and some remaining clouds keep it cooler.

Entering the gorge of Rio Dulce

Taken from the Cafe we are having a Pizza. Asperida is lined up with the white boat on the left so hidden somehow?

Also from the Sundog Cafe

Posted with BlogPress on iPhone
Location:Highway 5,Livingston,Guatemala

Grand Cayman to Rio Dulce

As it turned out we should have cleared out and left on Friday the 20th.  By Saturday morning it was rocking and rolling even though the wind was supposed to be NE.  We went to town with the wind about 12 knots but by the time we got back it was gusting to 22 knots and the waves were too big to deal with the dinghy but we managed.  Although not without damage to the ladder brackets.  It went smoothly to undo our mooring line and we were underway, first raising the missen then letting out a partial genoa.  It took a while but we managed to get the sails balanced for auto pilot.  Early on we were doing 6 knots and it said we would arrive in 3 days and 8 hours but now we are getting about 5 knots.  It's really rough but we are going in the right direction and it's more comfortable than it was on the mooring.  It's about 12:30 am and we left the mooring about 12 hours ago.  I'm on the 12 to 4 am shift and we switch for tomorrow.  It's February 22nd and my 61st birthday…

Cold front comes through

GYesterday, Wednesday, it was the start of our second full day of south winds and good sized breakers on the reef.  Before my trip to shore on Tuesday I watched all morning to see how they were breaking and where I'd want to approach the gap in the reef.  It's right where the cruise ship passenger shuttle boats dock on a single concrete pier.  A red buoy marks the right side but it's well inside the reef so it doesn't really mark the gap on the outside.  The waves were intimidating on my approach so I used caution and stayed well out until I saw the gap straight in line with the pier and went in successfully with waves on either side breaking on the reef as I rode in on a wave that didn't break due to the deeper water.  The waves yesterday when Walter went ashore might have been even bigger than Tuesday but mostly it was that they came even more from the south not SSE like Tuesday.  He set out and I was surprised he was on a direct line toward the gap rather than s…