Living in Turkey During Hurricane Season

We’ve taken a break from blogging since we aren’t on Lodos right now, but we have received a lot of questions about where we are, what we are doing and when we’ll be back on the boat, or in the states, so I decided to take each question as a separate blog post – watch this space!

We sailed to San Carlos, Mexico in early/mid June and spent a couple of weeks getting the boat ready to be taken out of the water. We left Lodos in a ship yard there, “on the hard” (out of the water) because we needed to finish some work on the boat that we never got around to before leaving San Diego. We also had to redo work that was done improperly in San Diego – hopefully the last of the projects that all have had to be redone in the past 6 months+.

It’s hurricane season in Mexico. It officially starts in June and ends in November, but truly, the most dangerous time is August-September (when the water warms above 80+ degrees), so we knew we wanted to be out of there this season. We took the time to do some traveling this summer and see friends. We went to our cousin’s wedding in Dallas (beautiful!), and we stopped to see friends in London, Oxford, Paris and Amsterdam.

4 years ago, we bought a house in Turkey. It’s a tiny house (1 bed + 1 bath with a loft), in an “off the grid” community, in a remote new village on the Aegean Sea along the Datça peninsula. It has all the challenges of new (cheap) construction, plus layer in remote access, very little internet, spotty electricity (100% solar), and very rocky soil that we are trying to completely transform (sometimes through sheer will & grit alone).

All that said, the houses and community aren’t the reason we bought a place here. It’s the landscape and beauty that surrounds us. We are butted against mountains to the East that look something like Halfdome in Yosemite or Lake Tahoe in California and to the West, the shimmering blue of the Aegean – with the Greek Island of Kos facing directly in front of us. We are ~1 hour from the nearest city (However, there is a small village 20+ minutes from us.), and probably the only thing that keeps this place from major development is the winding, dirt-pitted road you must take through the olive and almond trees planted into the mountainsides. The food is amazing, and the cost of living is cheap – cheaper everyday as the Lira continues to fall…

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View from the beach – aka: “the office”

It’s the kind of place people want to go to write a book, paint, read, and escape.

The flora isn’t diverse, but it is lush. We are frequented by goats who local shepherds still graze and let roam freely. We have seen owls and wild boar, bats, grouse and deer. The night is pitch black, the stars bright, and the beach is pebbly (not sand), which I much prefer. It’s safe and quiet, and all of the neighbors know each other – we look after one another, share tea and treats and stories – the way it should be in a community.

Our languid days are filled with equal parts work (professional work: Jodi is consulting & Kirby is starting a new business), work on the house and yard as well as swimming, hiking, reading, cooking and sleeping. There is nothing to buy, nothing to schedule and not much to do.

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Sunsets from the back porch

Living in a developing country has its drawbacks of course, and we find it quite manic some days, but its lesson is to be open to what may come, be open to changing your plans, and realize that you have very little control over the outcomes of many things here – it’s a country and place that forces the zen out of you.

 

Leaving Lodos…& Mexico

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Lodos in Santa Rosalia Marina

As we get ready to leave Mexico and leave Lodos for the summer and hurricane season, it’s a bittersweet feeling. We are excited about the next months of adventures that await, but I know we’ll miss our daily life on the water.  In fact, we already do. It’s been great to leave from San Carlos, as it’s not a place we particularly like, so we aren’t sad to leave.

We once thought we’d spend one season in the Sea of Cortez and keep heading head south, but now, I’m really happy that we’ll be here for another year! I haven’t gotten enough of its beauty and rich rich wildlife.

I will especially miss:

  • Being at anchor reading, thinking and relaxing.
  • Seeing dolphins, whales, turtles and mobula rays almost daily.
  • Guacamole and churros.
  • The routine of living and working on the boat.
  • Sleeping 8 hours at a stretch – maybe for the first time in my life.
  • Playing games and splashing around in the clear blue sea.
  • The Mexican people & their generous, kind hospitality.

This ~5 months has raced by. We’ve learned so much, had so much fun, didn’t sink the boat, and we didn’t die. So, yeah, I guess it was a successful season. 😉

This week, we’re off to Dallas to celebrate a wedding, then onto London, Paris, Amsterdam and Turkey – adventures abound! Join us somewhere or consider joining us on Lodos when we get her back into the water in Mexico!

 

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J & K at Playa Algodones in the Sea of Cortez

 

Santa Rosalia: A French town in a Mexican Village

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IMG_2819 2Santa Rosalia was copper mining city for many years, and today, it’s also a jumping off point to cross the Sea of Cortez. With the shortest distance between two points (74nm), we will leave this town Thursday for San Carlos, on the mainland of Mexico – ending our Baja sailing season for 2018 and getting ready for hurricane season. The copper mining has left its mark with trains and mining equipment which was used to bring timber here from the Pacific NW – nearly all of the town and houses here are made from wood, which is highly unusual for the Baja.

 

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Leaving north for Santa Rosalia

 

This is our first marina since La Paz, over 3 weeks ago. We love being “on the hook” (at anchor), but it’s nice to pop into a marina every now and then to have a proper shower, do laundry, have endless supplies of electricity and explore a town.

 

 

There is a large French influence here, and it’s reflected in the architecture, the church and the bakery. The church was designed and built by Gustave Eiffel (yes, that Eiffel) for the Paris world fair in the late 1800s, then disassembled and shipped across the ocean to land here in this little town. It’s hard to see in the pictures, but it’s 100% steel and the internal ceiling looks like a boat with its trusses and support structures.

The bakery has delicious breads and baguettes – Mexican sweet bread cooked in 100+ year old wood ovens in a French style. Outstanding and delicious. (I had a churro here that was divine, too).

 

The bird life in the marina is outstanding – herons, pelicans, osprey, cormorants, terns and egrets are everywhere. I saw my first yellow-crowned night heron here – a lovely little heron with amber eyes and plumey feathers.

Next stop: San Carlos/Nuevo Guaymas 

Puerto Ballandra, Caleta San Juanico, Bahia Concepcion & Mulege

Sailing further north, we made a few stops and enjoyed seeing friends we have made along the way.

Puerto Ballandra is just 9 miles east from Loreto, so it’s an easy stop closest to a “big” town. We stopped here and found a great protected anchorage on Isla Carmen known for the repopulation of Big Horn Sheep (which we didn’t see, unfortunately). It’s part of the protected marine parks around Loreto, so the wildlife is abundant, and there is room in this anchorage for more than 10 boats. When the tide is low, the water table changes pretty dramatically (more than 4 feet); we were anchored in about 20 feet of water, and we woke up one morning to find ourselves in about 9 feet (the draft of our boat is 7!). We heard that there is wifi here from Loreto, but our booster didn’t pick it up. While there were no bees here, the mosquitoes here were fierce! This was the first and only place so far where we have seen mosquitoes (other than a few here or there in town). We were thinking of staying here longer, but we just couldn’t deal with these guys, so we left.

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Broad reach headed north

 

On our way to Caleta San Juanico, we had one of our best sails since being down here; a broad reach with ~15 knot winds, and we were doing about 6 knots in a comfortable heel. Quiet and peaceful. San Juanico is a wide bay that was supposed to be well protected from north winds, but our anchorage here was a bit rough and rolly. We held very well, but we decided to keep moving north (also, no wifi or cell signals). The bonus was no bees and no mosquitoes!

 

 

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The turquoise waters of Playa Santispac

The long 45 miles from San Juanico to Conception Bay takes all day, but it was a pleasant trip, mostly motor sailing as the wind was coming directly at us for most of the day. Getting into the bay is tricky as it’s very shallow on both sides of the bay; even 1/2 mile from the shore, we were still in only 10 feet of water, surrounding by submerged rocks and islands; it’s not a place you want to enter at night. The navigation markers on land are good but not plentiful, and being able to see the color of the water was one of the few ways we could tell if we were safely traveling or not. The charts were very inaccurate on the water depth. Places that were supposed to be 30 feet and deeper were less than 10 feet. We found a lovely little bay to tuck into called Santispac Beach with wifi at a couple of restaurants but no cell service.

Bahia Concepcion (or Conception Bay) is a long narrow bay that is supposed to be home to whale sharks, although we didn’t see any, we heard that they had just left a couple of weeks prior – next year, we definitely want to come back during this season! The anchorage and water here is exceptional and clean. We swam each day, snorkeled and enjoyed the lovely northwest wind that kept us cool and comfortable; with water temps in the low 80s, there was no shock when diving into the water. We were here during a very quiet period near the end of the season, but we have heard that during the busy season, the beaches are loaded with RVs and campers. With the proximity of Highway 1 just next to the bay, you do get some big rig noise pollution when they brake, coming down the hills, so although beautiful, it’s not the quietest of anchorages. No pesky mosquitoes or bees here, but we did encounter some nasty sand fleas which chewed up our ankles and shins one night at a local beach restaurant – best to stay on the boat!

It’s only 13 miles from a small town called, Mulege. You can’t really safely anchor in Mulege as it’s open to the sea and there is a river that winds up 2+ miles into town, so one day, we got up early and were going to hitchhike into town along Mexico Highway 1. We landed the dingy on the beach* and started walking to the highway, when a woman stopped us and asked us if we were headed into town. She was there to pick up someone who hadn’t shown up, so we were the fortunate recipients of a ride! She had errands to run, so we met her back in the main plaza several hours later where she gave us a ride back to the beach and our boat. Wonderful!

As it turns out, she was in Mexico (living) writing a biography on her late husband, Tap Tapley, who we learned was quite a character. They were married over 30 years, and she was a treasure and delight to talk to – after doing a little research, we understand her husband was the real deal – founded Outward Bound and lived quite a rich life. His wife, Anita, was pretty modest about it all – we hope to keep in touch with her! Characters abound in Mexico – you never know who you will meet by just saying “yes” to whatever comes your way.

Mulege is a lovely town (with 4G Telcel service!). Anita dropped us off at the top of the hill where the mission was built and has survived several hundred years of hurricanes and storms. The caretaker there opened the bell tower for us, and we climbed to the roof along narrow and steep stairs where we were afforded lovely views of the valley below. After visiting the mission, we had breakfast at a beautiful old hotel in town once inhabited by beloved Mexican poet, Alán Gorosave. The interesting thing about Mulege is how lush the landscape is; it’s an oasis in the desert, mainly due to the river running through the middle, with migrating birds and forests of date palms, coconut palms, mango and avocado trees.

As we left the bay in glassy conditions, a small pod of dolphins escorted us back out into the Sea  🙂

Next stop: Punto Chivato & Santa Rosalia

*We’ve never had any problems or heard of problems of theft here (other than in Cabo San Lucas), but we always take our key and lock the engine on the dinghy, so if someone were to be tempted, they would have to procure some very large boltcutters to get the lock off the engine to make the dinghy usable. 

DOLPHINS! at Honeymoon Cove

Less than 5 miles from Puerto Escondido, on Isla Danzante (Dancer Island), is a sweet little anchorage called Honeymoon Cove. It has three small bights for just a handful of boats. We got lucky and were the only ones around for a couple of days.

The cove is quiet and well protected from all winds except from the south, but it’s a fairly deep anchorage, so you have to watch your depth and swing – giving plenty of room for the beachy shoals on one side and the sharp rock cliffs on the other.

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Relaxing in Honeymoon Cove

The wildlife was incredible here – all hours of the day and night – the mobula rays were jumping, flying fish were flying, and our last day, we had a large pod of dolphins enter the cove and swim around and around our boat for more than 3 hours. It was one of the most beautiful things to witness: they created circles and bait balls to catch their prey, slapped their tails to stun the fish they were chasing, showed the babies how to do it, and then jumped for joy after they had their fill, occasionally swimming so close to the boat that all we had to do was walk laps on the deck for our front row seat. I came close to grabbing my snorkel and mask to jump in with them, but I had some trepidation for several reasons:

  1. I didn’t want to disturb their feeding frenzy
  2. Okay, the water is still pretty cold, and I’m now a super cold wimp
  3. They had babies with them, and I wasn’t sure how they would view my presence
  4. I was quite enjoying watching them from the comfort and dryness of the boat
  5. And, maybe I chickened out – not knowing what they would do with a human in the water in the middle of their bait ball – no regrets, though!

We had friends from the Catamaran Sea Rose join us for the show – they were anchored south a ways and took their dinghy in when they saw the huge pod approaching like an underwater army marching north!*

One night, we heard a ton of splashing and went out with our flashlight to see the mobula rays swimming under our boat, jumping out of the water, and wrestling their prey. Three of them (about 3-4 feet wide) came so close to the boat that they splashed us on the deck!

The only wildlife we didn’t like here were BEES. They weren’t aggressive, though, and they were mostly honeybees in search of fresh water. They literally swarmed our boat in the morning when the dew gathered on our lines and decks in the shade, and they swarmed us in the evening before the sun went down. We had to go to our “happy place”, shut up the boat (after the first night about 100 bees were trapped inside!), and play cribbage!

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Playing Cribbage in Honeymoon Cove

*We met Brian and Sue in Agua Verde; they have been sailing around the world since 2000, and in talking to them, we realized that I actually met them when I was in the Panama Canal aboard the Sea Shepherd, and they are also friends with one of my Sea Shepherd crewmates, Henri! What a strange, small world this is….