Monthly Archives: January 2014

The three holes on the boat deck and what to do (and not do) with them

Most sail boats, such as Elizabeth Jean, have at least three holes on the boat deck.  They are usually clearly labeled: diesel, water, and waste.  Notwithstanding these labels it is fairly easy to misuse them.  Since we departed Seattle, in fact, we are aware of the following mishaps: putting water in the waste tank, putting water in the diesel tank and putting diesel in the waste tank.   The first of these mistakes will flush your holding tank into what ever water body you are in.  Not a great idea.  The second will mess up your diesel and your engine if you don’t empty the tank in a safe disposal tank and start again.  Be careful not to wipe out the tank with something that leaves fibers as this can also be bad for the engine.  Regarding the third mistake–it may be stating the obvious, but human waste and diesel are not a good combination.  Having witnessed the consequences of these three misuses of the three boat holes we try to read our tank caps very carefully, especially when tired or in a distracting situation.

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The Friars, the Dead, and the Dreams

No, this isn’t a reunion concert of 60’s bands.  These are anchorages that we used between Puerto los Cabos and La Paz.  Los Frailes (the Friar) is about 45 miles north of Los Cabos.  We left Los Cabos before sunrise, along with Puna and Privilege, and arrived in late afternoon.  Another day and another 40+ miles north brought us to Ensenada de Los Muertos (the Cove of the Dead).  Entrepreneurs developing a resort in the cove have tried to rebrand the area as the Bahia de Suenos (Bay of Dreams).  During our two day stop in Los Muertos, we hiked the beach, dined at 1535 (a beach-side restaurant named for the year Hernando Cortez reportedly anchored in the cove), and checked out the resort.  We made new friends–Wendy and her two cats on Willow.  A third day of travel with very calm sees brought us to LaPaz, where we’ve been for the last three days at Marina Palmira.  We are heading out to explore some of the local bays this afternoon.  Stay tuned for pictures and news of LaPaz in a couple of days.

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Waiting out El Norte in Puerto Los Cabos

A common weather pattern during winter in the Sea of Cortez is the strong northerly winds that funnel directly down the Sea of Cortez.  Called northerlies, or El Norte, these winds gust into the high 20’s and kick up five foot swells at rapid intervals.  For our trip to to La Paz, this is a prescription for a sea bash (not of the good kind) or staying in the harbor.  Over the last five days we have tried both approaches–a number of times.   Twice we ventured out and made it six and nine miles north respectively before the drama of burying our bow a couple of times encouraged us to turn around and run with the wind and waves (actually quite delightful) back to port.  These sails were not total busts as we learned more about Elizabeth Jean’s handling and had some remarkably close encounters with whales as we each navigated the white caps.  During our in-port time we took the bus to San Jose del Cabo, swam and sunned on the local beach, and had a wonderful pot luck dinner with other cruisers.

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Under pressure (it’s a good thing)

To conserve propane we have begun learning to cook with a pressure cooker.  We experimented with a flank steak recipe when our friends Colleen and John Quinn took a day sail with us.  John later sent this link to a New York Times article.

The article is a good introduction to the joys of pressure cooking and has a step-by-step video with a good black bean recipe.


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Pictures from our Cabo San Lucas Anchorage

We arrived at Cabo in the dark and saw only one boat in the anchorage.  By the time the sun came up the anchorage was full of yachts. paddle boarders, and other recreationists

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We decided to share our anchorage with this modest craft.

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The drinking started early at this beach front bar.  We resisted the instructions to “Toma, toma, toma.”

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Cabo’s famous pillars

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For those who like pictures with their stories

Here are photos of some of the highlights from our recent posts about Ensenada, Bahia Tortugas and Bahia Santa Maria.

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In Ensenada, honey for sale.  If you look closely you can see bees trying to get into some of the jars to get their honey back.

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Ensenada, fish tacos and garlic prawns near the fish market with John Bousha, our crew to Ensenada.

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The scene from our anchorage in Bahia Tortugas (Turtle Bay).

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Bahia Tortugas is a fishing village.  When the humans leave their boats, the real fishers take over.

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The Turtle Bay church dominates the waterfront.

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Bahia Santa Maria lobsters received in trade with fishermen for 8 AA batteries

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Precautionary Measures

Going to sea involves taking on a variety of risks.  As Matt Rutherford (who solo circumnavigated the Americas in a 27 Albin Vega) put it, when you go to sea “you are entering Risk’s house.”  The key is to plan for and to be prepared for various risks.  As the earlier blog on weather illustrated, selecting weather windows to avoid heavy weather is one way of reducing risks.  Here are some other precautionary measures found on Elizabeth Jean.

We selected a six person life raft from DBC.  The raft is used extensively by the Alaska fishing fleet and the Seattle distributor was very knowledgeable and generous with his time.  The raft can be serviced throughout the world.

life raft
We attached our EPIRB in an accessible location at the stern of the ship.


We replaced our sails and all standing rigging.  We also added a storm tri-sail and cutter stay sail for heavy weather sailing.

For extra measure we also carry an assortment of less scientific safety devices.  Clockwise from the top: a St. Christopher’s medallion (the Patron Saint of Travelers), Genesh (the Hindu God who removes obstacles), a good luck penny and two Hamsas ( ancient symbols in the Hebrew and Island faiths that keep away bad luck).

precautionary charms

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San Jose Del Cabo

Monday January 13 we departed Cabo San Lucas for La Paz.  Whales bid us farewell and as we approached Cabo de Cabeza de Balena (Whale’s Head Cape) we were greeted by a school of flying manta rays.  Very cool to watch.  Strong head winds encouraged us to come into Puerto Los Cabos 19 miles north of Cabo San Lucas.  We’ve been at the marina for the day.  We took the bus in to town and shopped at the local market.  We’ve met several other cruisers also heading north to La Paz.  We will probably head up tomorrow or the next day if the winds are down a bit.

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The Whale Totem

Elizabeth Jean albatross

Albatross here to provide more animal totem knowledge.  Elizabeth Jean has encountered many whales along its journey thus far.  The following explanation of the whales’ meaning comes from

If Whale has come swimming into your life;

Examine your own use of creativity and apply your own creative intuition to formulas as this is what imbues them with power and magic. Creativity for the sake of creativity is not what the Whale teaches. It awakens great depth of creative inspiration, but you must add your own color and light to your outer life to make it wonderful. The sound of the Whale teaches us how to create with song. You are being asked to embrace the unknown.

It may also be that your current circumstances are born from an emotional womb. In other words, your reality is intrinsically connected to your thought and your emotional choices. Some emotions we bury beneath the fathoms of our consciousness. The whale can help you understand on a deeper level the actions that have caused unrest in your daily life.

If Whale is your Animal Totem;

You have a deeper awareness of the world around you and a connection to the cosmic consciousness. You recognize that what you see is not necessarily the reality of what actually is. You are easily able to bridge these differences and integrate all things into the truth of what actually is. Whale people are very nurturing and have very strong ties to their community at large. Often they are the movers and shakers passionately standing up for what is right locally. Whale people love to get lost in their own creativity but often have to find a balance with this world and the real world.

Alternatively, the whale has come to facilitate emotional clarity, and help us navigate through the often ambiguous and confusing seas of emotion.


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A Southbound Haiku

Night watches chill bones.

Orion guides us southbound.

Morning sun brings warmth.

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