Cabo San Lucas! Land’s End! We made it!

Our last sunset before we would reach Cabo San Lucas. Red Sky at night, sailors delight.

WE MADE IT!!  Okay, we are not exactly concluding our adventure in the rocky fortress of Cabo San Lucas (CSL) but it feels like a place to celebrate.  Except CSL is party central!  Every night on the waterfront is a celebration and this week is no different.  In fact, I think they held the annual Tuna Fishing Tournament in our honor!  (No, they really didn’t…)  I was so hoping to stand up there, photographed with our tuna, however, they might be envious of our forty pounds of prize tuna!  (They would scoff and brush us off the stand as the prize winning tuna was 338# !!).   There were various ways to win portions of the pot each day, however we tip our reel and line to North Star, taking home the ultimate win of $252,425! North Star not only took the top prize but is also noted to be the only two time winner of the tournament. I am still pleased with our tuna though.  See the previous post for that photo!

I would like to think that this serves as our “shakedown cruise” of learning to handle various conditions in this sailboat that we have lovingly called home for the past two years. As Captain Ron says in the movie “It’s time to light the fires and kick the tires.  If it’s going to happen, it will happen out there!”.  Yes, it certainly did “happen out there”!  While there is so much more to learn, we spent time with the sails as well as the “Iron Ginny”.  We did this in day time as well as night time.  We travelled in fog so thick it was hard to tell what time of day it was and in lightening so fierce, that it changed the night sky to daylight.  We did it on short sleep intervals and at times no sleep intervals.  Each day had its marvels and its challenges. I suspect there are a few people out there that did not think we would do it, and more that did not think I could do it.  There were times when I wondered if I could do it or even wanted to do it.  As the days became warmer and the landscape changed, even when the language changed, it felt easier. More comfortable.  Then there were the dolphins.  Sailing lore is that dolphins on your journey assure you of good luck.  It seemed that whether it was whales or dolphins, we were certain to be successful with good fortune as we were accompanied almost daily. Things did break along the way, not work the way we had hoped or intended.  It is similar to life – most of it is good, there just are some storms and sometimes stuff breaks.   You weather the storms and you fix what breaks.  The dolphins did not have anything to do with what broke, but they did remind us daily of what was good about the trip. We have met some great people along the way.  All in all, it has been an interesting two and a half months!  Sometimes it is hard to believe that we have been traveling that long while other times it seems like forever.  Why am I rattling on about this?  Through tired eyes, the last push, having dolphin at our bow in the evening prior – jumping six, eight, even ten feet into the air and entertaining us with flips and pirrouettic twists and causing us to squeal with delight just like the Jacques Cousteau footage, forging through the night, and in the sun’s rising, to see Land’s End over the bow of our very own boat!  We did it.  Two people. Us.  On a sailboat. 2200nm!  Almost the entire North Pacific coastline of the US and now the Baja of Mexico.  No, we are not the first to do this but it is our first time doing this.  This felt like a badge of honor.  In sailors tradition, a tattoo of a sparrow is done at 5,000nm to remind the sailor to find their way home.  It remains to be seen if I acquire that particular badge when the time comes.  Right now I am having a reality check.  I don’t know how many photos I took, as if I had never seen Land’s End, the arch formation, or Cabo San Lucas before.  I have been to Cabo before, though it has been couple decades prior to this visit and a very different type of visit as two single girls traveling on a land adventure.  This was seeing it through new eyes.  Tired eyes. Saged eyes.  Now over the bow of the our sailboat.  We rounded the point and aimed for the IGY Marina.  Anxiously, we looked forward to a slip for a night or two to relax and to cleaning a very salty boat!

WOW! View from our own boat. WE DID IT!
From inside the bay looking out to the Pacific Ocean.
IGY Marina

Welcome to Cabo San Lucas!  Our diesel price dropped back to a more normal $3.50/gallon, but did not include the use of the fuel dock fee (which was slightly less as we were staying in the marina). The marina slip fee was $81/night!  What?!?! Okay, well we need to make the most of our time in the slip as this will not work with our “sailing kitty”.  We were given J11.  J dock, slip 11.  A sixty foot long and thirty foot wide, single slip that gave us so much room that we looked like a small boat swimming in the enormous slip.  Our boat is forty feet in length and around twelve and a half feet beam (width).  We were docked in the middle of four sport fishing boats that were in the neighborhood of a million dollars each.  Hmmm….. okay, we looked a little out of place. (I’m smirking now).  At almost 10:30am it was already hot here.  Hot temperature but also made even hotter as there is no wind or air movement.  Because we are blocked from any potential wind by the sport fishing boats size, even if the wind were to come in the right direction to hit out open hatches, we would still be sweltering.  Sailboats do best when on anchor, they turn into the direction of the wind and allow the hatches to catch the wind to flow freely throughout the length of the boat.  With use of a few strategically placed fans, the boat can be quite comfortable.   Here on the windless dock, I gaze toward the sport fishing boats with their pneumatic closing doors and running air-conditioning with no one inside.  Using the hose on the dock, we start the fresh water rinse and bath of the exterior of the boat.  Salt water crystals begin to dissolve as we spray every possible inch of her.  Then the stainless gets polished of all the tell tale signs of rust beginning from the continual dousing of salty sea water.  It is disheartening to have had everything polished and sparkling less than a week ago only to find it looks like it has never been touched.  It is like laundry.  Never done.  Speaking of laundry, the marina has washer and dryer availability!  Nothing says home comfort like fresh clean sheets.  We really don’t have as much laundry as you might think, especially given that our last coin operated laundry was, wait now, when was it?  I am going to have to think hard about this one as I can’t honestly remember.  San Diego? Well, while I continue to research this, just know that we don’t have to worry about impressing the neighbors, we just have to make sure we don’t smell more than the fish do.  We typically wear the same pair of shorts and shirt for several days unless it is able to stand on its own accord.  Now that the water has warmed up substantially, and we are “cruisers”, when at anchor we do the whole saltwater bath (yes, jump in, jump out, lather up, jump back in) followed with a nice fresh water rinse in the cockpit.  Some people do it with their swimsuits on and others do it the way we are born – without a stitch on.  We have a fresh water hook up/shower in the cockpit of the boat.  As fresh water is a precious commodity, even though we have the capacity to make it, we have learned to use it mindfully.  Raw water with our water maker takes sea water and de-salinates it thereby making it potable and fresh.  For washing, you don’t really have to have fresh water.  Saltwater will do just fine except that your typical bath soap and shampoo may not lather into clouds of suds and bubbles like we are use to.  Whenever possible, the use of  a biodegradable product is always recommended.  Some soaps are even designed for use in saltwater, and will even lather up to almost land life expectations.  Finish off with a fresh water rinse and hang dry.  Voila!  When we are docked at a marina, we will use their shower facilities.  So, within two to three hours, we had the boat all rinsed, boat soap, rinsed again for all the spots and salt crystals to be eradicated.  The stainless was polished all around again, before a Mexican gentleman came by with some general inquiries regarding our boat. His English was very broken as was our Spanish.  Then he offered his and his crew service of cleaning the boats including the stainless.  Umm…okay.  How much?  $45. Seriously.  I understood that loud and clear, without any broken language barrier.  We just spent a few hours, sweating profusely, dancing around each other, in each other’s way, pulling hose, pushing a soap brush, cleaning and polishing stainless.  I would have happily paid that!  Even John would have opened the wallet for that.  Oh well, there is always next time, right?

Pool side at the Grand Solmar- Thank you Dan and Jamie!
Nope, Sunsets never get old. Especially across and infinity pool!

Social media is a double edge sword.  On one hand, it allows you to keep in touch with family and friends on a regular basis , especially with a lifestyle such as ours.   My hat is tipped to those who keep blogs, videos, maintain various and every outlet of social media as it is challenging to find the time to put together classy as well as fun or informative information.  On the other, social media can be a time stealing mechanism that we slowly become lured into its capture of our time.   Through Facebook, a message came from a previous neighbor/friend who had moved to California.  She was with her family and happened to be vacationing in Cabo San Lucas.  We missed meeting up with them in California, but what are the chances now that they would be here?  Now less than half a mile away!  We are both only going to be here one more night and they are in a the Grand Solmar, one of the premiere resorts in CSL.   Once all of our chores were done, we set off to find a chandlery in order to find some line (or rope).  Then we would be off in their direction for some serious pool time.  What a treat!

Ahhh, the chandlery,  I hope John takes this in the spirit that it is intended…to be seriously funny.  The Spanish word for clothes is “Ropa”.  One of the items we needed at the chandlery was line.  Or by another name, rope.  Rope is actually “cuerda” in Spanish.  John is not bilingual and went with the word that made the most sense to him.  “Donde es Ropa?”   followed with “Can I see your Ropa?”  Imagine John in the Mexican chandlery, asking to see the salesperson’s “clothes”!  Fortunately many Spanish speakers in Cabo understand the English words to their trade and the salesman was able to show John the “rope” (or line once it is on the boat).  Cabo is as one Mexican explained to me, an extension of North America and there is little Mexican culture left to be found in CSL.  “When the popular places include a Starbucks, a hot dog stand, and a McDonalds”, it doesn’t seem so culturally different.  Cabo is a mecca for sport fishing.  Incredible resorts line the waterfronts, each bigger, bolder and more beautiful than the previous one.

Having completed our quest and returning empty handed, we walked to the other side of town and up the steep hill to the Grand Solmar fortress.  It is hot. It is dusty. We could have taken a taxi but walking is normal for cruisers.  We texted our friends that we were on our way!  Passing store fronts, we hear the calls of “come in, good price for you today, but it has the volume of passing by someone and saying good day.  There is no harassment. Farmacias and restaurants line the waterfront. Multiple stores selling the same items are on the street behind that.  As most of the stores sell the same items, it becomes almost a bidding war between them.  Some stores are large enough and probably have rent that doesn’t allow them to negotiate.  There is nothing there I can’t live without.  Again, living on a boat changes how you live.  Once I had a house where  I had material things that reminded me of those trips every time I dusted them, now I have little room and if things do set out, have to be affixed while sailing or at least able to safely take a tumble when at anchor.  It was also those items that when it came time to downsize, was difficult to let go but was almost freeing after I had done so.  On a boat, it has to have a use or it will need to be given careful thought if it makes it on there.  That being said, I will have a few items that will remind me of those I love and feel comfortable in my tiny floating home.  One small item, however,  did find its way to its new home on the boat and sits near me as I write.  It makes me happy to gaze upon it.  On the hot dusty walk with the promise of a pool and umbrella drinks at the end, I noted how the sidewalks are clean.  Almost too clean.  Then I see an elderly Mexican gentleman and gentlewoman covered entirely with clothing.  Only their faces and hands are visible. She is sweeping the sidewalk which is barren of anything, she appears to be brushing air.  A large black plastic trash bag lays limp near her broom.  Above her are bushes that overhang the eight foot stone privacy fence marking a resorts property.  Only a few of those errant leaves may have scattered to the sidewalk where she has captured them.  The gentleman is working the gutter with his broom.  Little whisks here and there, again there is nothing but an occasional wafting of dust but nothing more.  We arrived at the top of the cobbled road to fin a beautiful new building just days from opening.  The open vestibule with its polished stone floor and ceiling fans turning for no one yet, seems large and museum like.  The grounds have been manicured and are awaiting approval from guests to be assured that they are arriving at a quality resort.  We move on to the next resort, the Grand Solmar.  Grand is an understatement. Our friend Jamie meets us in the lobby and guides through pool after pool.  These are only a few among the many.  We meet up with Dan and the Jamie’s parents and siblings.  We have heard so many wonderful things about her family and they were very welcoming of us.  Ahh, the pool.  The infinity pool with the million dollar view of the beach, the waves, and yes the soon to be setting sun over the Pacific Ocean.  Pool drinks around and we await the green flash!  We enjoyed several hours with Jamie, Dan, and her family and cannot begin to thank them enough for allowing us to crash their party and give us respite from our work and the heat of the dock.  A perfect way to celebrate- a Welcome Party with endless drinks all around!  As the night wore on, Jamie and her family went off to dinner and we were claimed by some new people in the hot tub.  By eight o’clock, our bodies cried out in fatigue, begging for sleep.

It’s crazy that as soon as the sun goes down, we are ready for bed.  It is almost as if our internal clocks are shut down.  Likewise, when it becomes light, it is difficult to remain asleep.  Trusty me, I will try.  We have afforded ourselves the extravagance of the dock but we need to move out to anchor.  The heat, if for no other reason.  We won’t move far, just to the bay.  Our friends on SV Lorien are coming in behind us by a day or so and will take a slip for a few days while they rinse and recover. We found an initial spot with great 360 degree views  and should be protected.  There was a strange object in the water that we finally snorkeled over after we set anchor.  It appeared to be some sort of post set for pangas or other type boats to moor up.  We upped anchor and relocated a little further away as that would not be a good thing to swing around to.

Life is good on the hook.  The boat swings into any breeze for airflow, and the water is sparkling clear to jump in.  It is only around 16 feet deep where we are at.  The bottom is sand.  SV Lorien is on their way in and we will meet up in a bit.

The next couple days were filled with exploring the beaches by dingy, looking for more great tacos, and story telling.  We had so much to catch up on.  I found a delightful alebrije from Oaxaca!  Of course, it was something the boat needed….. now if I could only convince John that it has a purpose. I have been fortunate to have spent some time in Mexico prior to this experience, and there are certain things that always bring wonderful memories and smiles.  Alelbrijes do that.  These typically wood carved whimsically painted mythical creatures explode with color so vibrant and deep.  A perfect alebrije octopus!  Why, it could not be more perfect for the boat!  Not large in size but giant in color, it would be perfect!  Let the bargaining begin.  I had searched many of the stores on the back streets as well, and this was the only octopus to be found.  It would be the one.  It made sense.  The charming salesman and I would go back and forth, and ended with him speaking to his boss for the final say.  In the end, I had my octopus and he had a sale.


A great way to celebrate our “Shakedown” cruise!

CSL is an interesting place.  As one Mexican stated, there is no Mexican culture left when the popular eateries are McDonald’s and Starbucks (yes, both just off of the marinas but on a Main Street). There is a lot of money passing through CSL, sort of a Mexican Las Vegas.  It is busy, busy, busy.  There has been some US media of recent cartel shootings but we were not near any of it and would not anticipate having any issues related to it.  After a couple of days, the traffic, the amount of people gives us the readiness to continue on.  Nice to visit but…. we have many more places to see on this journey!  Next up will be some more remote beaches!


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