LIFE ABOARD LODOS: “a day in the life”

While we have been reporting on our whereabouts, I thought it would be good to post a “day in the life” of the Lodos crew (aka Jodi & Kirby).

Generally, our day starts when the sun rises. It’s hard to stay in bed when the sun comes streaming through a porthole window or overhead hatch; you only have to turn over in our bed to look outside to see the bright blue sky mirrored in the turquoise waters that surround us everyday.

In several towns or marinas, they also have a cruiser’s net, which is usually broadcast on VHF channel 22 around 8am. It’s a helpful and hilarious summary of the goings on of the area and almost always includes: emergencies and urgent issues, weather, wind, tides, a peso report, advice, swaps & trades, local news, and the occasional joke. I found a great endodontist and a (free) aluminum pole for my chamois mop on such a broadcast. It’s a fascinating peak inside the cruiser lifestyle.

working

 

We have been trying to stay in/near places that have wifi or Telcel service, so that I can do some work part-time. Kirby has another project in the works as well, so he spends a few hours a week on this, too. I have a few perches where I like to work – out in the cockpit under the bimini where it’s shady, or inside at our salon table. In a marina, I may use a conference room in a marina or sit in a common space where the wifi signals are stronger.

 

Breakfast consists of cereal, fruit, smoothies in the Vitamix or oatmeal. There are always boat projects to complete, some more urgent than others, but it’s likely we’ll complete something everyday to ensure the boat is working properly.

We have been cooking on the boat a lot, and with the heat, we eat less and usually vegan/plant-based meals. Kirby has mastered the art of breadmaking in this Japanese machine (Zojirushi) that makes a small loaf perfect for two people over a few days. We need to ensure our boat batteries are charged up because it takes a lot of energy to run this thing – usually the solar and wind power can keep up, or we will make bread when we have the engine running or are making water. My favorite piece of kitchen equipment is my small Lodge cast iron pan, which we use almost everyday! This is honestly the best $15 I have ever spent.

For making water, we have a reverse osmosis water maker onboard that makes about 36 gallons of water/hour. So, we try to run this every few days to keep our tanks topped off.  Do you know how much water you use a day? We do! 🙂 I challenge you to track it for a few days and figure out how you could shave off a couple of gallons. It’s pretty interesting, and there is nothing like limited resources to make you acutely aware of how much you use, so you don’t run out!

Afternoons are usually spent cleaning, cooking, reading, working, writing, swimming or napping. If we are in a harbor or bay where we know people, we might also spend time having an afternoon cocktail or catching up on sailing news and weather. We have a bathtub and two showers on board the boat, but usually, we shower off the back of the boat, after a swim. One of my favorite things on the boat is our outdoor shower nozzle which gives us hot and cold water. Showering outside is a luxury that few people get to experience, but it’s oh so much better than showering inside – give it a try sometime!

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WindyTY screengrab

 

We check the weather multiple times a day. Actually, we are kind of obsessive about it as it changes frequently (well, not in terms of rain or sun but in terms of wind and direction). If we don’t have access to internet, we can download a quick weather file using our satellite phone (we have an Iridium Go) or our SSB Radio. I like to triangulate the sources by checking WindyTY, PredictWind, Windfinder and tide charts.

 

 

 

playinggames

As the evening rolls forward, we might play a game, shower, do some laundry or prep for dinner. If we are staying in a marina, we might go out or take a stroll after dinner. While on anchor, we almost always cook, and we can go for days without touching our feet on land, which gives us a bouncy, rolling feeling when we finally do step on land.

And, for years, Kirby has been after me to watch Game of Thrones, but I have resisted,…until now! We have all 7 seasons on a hard drive, and we’ve been watching in the evenings. We are just starting Season 5, and I’m finally hooked. Spoiler Alert: everyone dies! 

 

 

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….

SAILING NORTH: San Evaristo, Agua Verde & Puerto Escondido

San Evaristo (May 10-11)

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Trash drop off with a seashell holding donations (at the base of sign in the old tire)

Continuing north, we found several great spots to anchor and tuck in while the SW winds were blowing. We arrived in San Evaristo – a tiny fishing village – to spend a night in a protected cove. There was a restaurant, and although it said it was open, it was closed. We asked the locals about it, and they said (as they usually do), “maybe mañana?” They have an honor trash bin, which means you can drop your trash and recycling off while leaving a tip – money just sits out in the open, and no one takes it.

This is Mexico 🙂

The small tienda (store) had a few things, and we bought delicious pears that were just delivered from the US – a real treat!

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Flying north at 7+ knots with new friends aboard Linda Marie & Wishlist

Agua Verde (May 11-13)

We sailed north to Agua Verde on a strong S wind which pushed us into a beautiful cove where we spent a couple of nights. The green water against a backdrop of mountains and white sand beaches is quintessential Baja and quite hard to describe the peacefulness.

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Agua Verde – looking out over the Northern Anchorage

We met quite a few other cruisers there and had an impromptu BBQ/bonfire on the beach. The next morning, we took a 5 mile hike up into the sea cliffs to see cave paintings/petroglyphs with incredible sea views, an ancient cemetery and a secret little oasis with fresh water and palms – it reminded me of one of our favorite hikes  just outside of Palm Springs.

In Agua Verde, they have a small restaurant run by a start-up all female co-op funded by the Mexican government where women and young girls learn how to cook, run a business and serve customers. It was a great little spot, and we were happy to give them our business. When we ordered something that they didn’t have on the menu (e.g. beer or soda), they just popped over to the store nearby to buy it for us.

There is a small tienda here that sells a large selection of fresh fruits and veg as well as local goat cheese – all of the goats live free in the mountains and you can hear the tinkle of their bells or their sweet bleating as they climb up and down the hills in search of their next meal.

Puerto Escondido (May 13-17)

I had work to do Monday morning, so we were seeking a spot with wifi. We heard that it could be found at an anchorage in Los Candeleros with a large resort nearby, but we didn’t want to risk it, so we went into Puerto Escondido, a hurricane hole just south of Loreto (confirmed later with friends that wifi signal is in fact strong there!).

On our way there, we had one of the most rewarding wildlife days since we have been sailing. There wasn’t much wind, so we were motor sailing, and we happened through a huge pod of bottlenose dolphins – hundreds of them swimming and jumping from west to east, so we turned the boat around and paralleled their path so as not to bother them but in the hopes that they would join our boat (which of course they did). Dolphins seem to love interacting with people. They enjoy swimming in the bow or wake of the boat, but our observations are that they stay with you longer if they can see you – I always jump to the bow of the boat and wave to them, talk to them, and they are always on the side of the boat that we are on – when we move, they move. They are simply the loveliest creatures alive, and with a brain larger than ours, and language more complex, I’m almost certain that they are more intelligent than humans. <PLEASE DON’T PAY TO SWIM WITH THEM & DON’T VISIT A DOLPHINARIUM>

The dolphins swam with us for about 30-45 minutes, swooping in and out, jumping and spraying us with water from their blowholes as they surfaced next to us. They are such adroit swimmers that when we sped up and turned, they sensed our movement before we made it, and with a flick of their tails were quickly out of the path of the boat. Immediately after we turned away from the dolphin pod, a baby humpback whale surfaced, slapping his tail on the surface of the water.

Then, 10 minutes later, we were greeted by a large manta ray feeding at the surface, gliding in and around the boat as we slowed, which then caused us to see 3 pilot whales just off the starboard side of our bow. It was an incredibly rewarding day and reminded me of all we have to be grateful for on this planet and how much responsibility we have to protect it!

Puerto Escondido is tucked into a hard to see harbor, protected on nearly 4 sides of mountains and low lying land – if you needed to escape from a storm or hurricane, this is just about the best place to do so. There is an office with wifi and meeting room, a restaurant, a small market, and an honor laundry where you pay the office for how many loads you do. They have a small chandlery and haul out as well as a small tour office for diving.

The bay is a field of mooring balls – easy to pick up and tie off. For those of you who have never done it before, you simply pick up the line in the water with a boat hook, tie off one end of your dock line to a cleat on the bow of the boat and then string the dock line through the loop on the mooring ball and go around the bow to create a V (or bridle)

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Looking east through one of the two “windows” in Puerto Escondido, tied to a mooring ball

and then tie off the other end on the other side of the boat on a cleat. We doubled tied ours with two docklines just in case. We asked the office when they had been last inspected, and they assured us that they were safely attached and secured.

 

We like being on mooring balls – it’s easier and more restful than being at anchor and yet you are still free and clear of other boats and people to have a quiet experience. There are supposed to be 117 mooring balls (1-40 for boats under 40’, 41-112 for boats over 40’, and higher numbers for really large boats), but we didn’t see that many – we tied up at #106.

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Kirby changing engine & generator oil while in PE

Loreto

If you want to visit Loreto, this is the best place to stay and leave your boat, as Loreto doesn’t have protected anchorage or a marina. And, if you want to get into Loreto, the best thing to do is arrange a car rental. The car rental will drop off your car at the marina office (Alamo) and pick up the car when you are done. We had a Volkswagen with A/C for $40/day including taxes and fees. If you get a taxi to take you to town and back, it will cost almost double that rate. With a car, you can load up on supplies and run any errands. We did some sightseeing but also ran some errands.

The mission and plaza are the highlights here, as is the Malecon. You only need a couple of hours to see the town, and it’s lovely with everything you’ll need to provision from an Autozone to grocery stores. You can reload/recharge your SIM cards in several markets (including Big markets) as there isn’t an OXXO in town.  There is also a farmer’s market on Sunday mornings in the plaza, and the BEST bread in town can be found at Pan Que Pan – delicious and light with a staff that is friendly and speaks English. You can also enjoy their fresh juices named after Superheros.

THIS PLACE IS LOUSY WITH TURTLES

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Sunset from Lodos

We were looking for a place to anchor and hide out on our way north with protection from the Coromuels (SW wind, similar to Lodos in Turkey), and we stopped at a national park called Isla Partida, which is just north of Espirito Santo, another national park. As we approached, there were leaping Mobula rays all around us and as we got closer into the island, we noticed so many turtles. I joked to Kirby that this place seemed to be just “lousy with them”! 🙂

After anchoring here for a couple of days, it turns out that we were right.

Isla Partida and Caleta Partida (our anchorage) is a sunken crater created from an ancient volcano. It’s a beautiful lagoon with a sand spit that you can dingy across in high tide, with numerous sea caves.

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The turtles are magical here. Dozens of them circled and swam near our boat each day – the sound they make when they surface is similar to an old man coming up for air after being below water for a long time. We watched a research group out of La Paz operate here, too; they have a camp on the beach with surface nets that they would drop and then check multiple times a day. We watched them haul out turtles, take them to camp, measure and tag them before releasing them. Each time they would see one in the net, a cheer would go up.  To me, it’s proof that when you protect a place, nature can rebound immensely!

There are a couple of fish camps here, too. There is a little old man on his fishing boat (panga) that makes his rounds each day asking for stuff from the boaters. Yesterday, he asked us for triple A batteries and today, a gallon of water. Paying the karma forward, we happily give these fisherman something and hope it helps them look kindly upon the people that use the waters that they claim as home.

Next post(s): San Evaristo, Agua Verde (30-50 miles north) & Puerto Escondido.

Communications Abroad Part 2

In Part 1, we shared the telephone side of our communications.  There are a few more interesting tidbits I would like to share.

Satellite communication – We have an IridiumGo device which enables our phones to make calls directly to people. Wonderful for one on one communication. We can also use the IridiumGO for weather updates as they have a connection option within Predict Wind.

Single Side Band (SSB) –  SSB is a great option for communications.  Many people think it is old school, but it makes for a great backup in case you cant get to the internet or don’t want to spend the money on satellite communication.

It enables you to do one to many communications like listening to ‘the nets’ for updates on weather, routing, etc. The Icom M802 was just recently brought back to the market after a hiatus brought on by some silly FCC rulings.  This radio is the top of the line and I highly recommend it.

I successfully send and receive email on it as well.  You can install a Pactor modem (they have a bunch of varieties) and connect to the listening stations.  You will need a sailmail account too.  Just turn on the shadow mail functionality to link all your other accounts.  This method is a bit slow, but works around the world and costs nothing other than the equipment, install and annual sailmail dues.

Internet….oh boy this one is fun.  We have a great little device called the WiriePro.  This little bad boy is fantastic.  Here is what it does:

  • Local WiFi access point – just like a WiFi access point in your house.  This enables all our devices to be connected to each other and offers a unified WiFi connection.
  • Remote xG connections – this allows me to connect the WiriePro directly to the local cell network for internet access.  Get the upgraded xG antenna as it will give you the range you need when at anchor and the towers are a ways away.
  • Remote WiFi – I can connect to a shore based WiFi system, assuming I have the credentials, up to about 3 miles away.
  • GPS Locator – The WiriePro has a GPS on it and automatically sends our location to Spotwalla so our web site can report our location.

Would love to get feedback on what others are using!  Just reply in the comments.  I am also happy to answer any questions – just drop me a line!