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August 2004

photos at bottom of page (text that refers to a photo is followed by O)

The beginning of August we were still on our whirlwind trip to California.  We brought in the new month by spending the day at Pat and Sally Parker's new horse ranch in the Sierra foothills O.  They had barely moved in and graciously hosted us for the day.  It was wonderful to see them.  The kids had a great time hiking around and of course spending time with the horses O and in the pool.  We then drove back to Sacramento for another wonderful dinner with more of the Parker clan.  On the drive south we had a quick lunch with another old friend before heading back to Santa Barbara for some more business and quick visits.  We had a wonderful lunch at Nancy's aunt and uncle's home before heading back to Dana Point to try to pack up all of our purchases and supplies to pass off to another cruiser who was driving back down to where our boat was anchored.  What a great thing that was, he took all of the kids school supplies for the year and four large solar panels in his van.  This eased our burden immensely.  The next day was the beginning of Club Mac, the McConnell family reunion O.  Mike's sister Diana and her husband Rob hosted the opening evening's activities O.  What fun to have everyone gather from three states and two countries!   Tons of hugs and kisses and smiles O.  All the cousins had a blast hanging out, playing and catching up O.  A good time was had by all.  The next morning most of the clan gathered at the Brig for breakfast O, a McConnell family tradition, before heading to the beach for the day.  Boy did that California water feel cold to us.  It was a full day of relaxing and playing and more catching up.  As Club Mac wound down, the kid's Oma from Arizona flew in for a visit with the kids as Mike and Nancy prepared to take care of all of the last appointments and pack up boxes of supplies to take back down to Mexico.  We made it across the border without a hitch.  We were so grateful as we had been very worried about carrying everything across.  (You would not believe the amount of stuff we had, even with the lessening of our load from our friend that had driven several boxes down the week before.)  We spent several hours in the Tijuana bus terminal before boarding the 18+ hour bus to take us back to the boat.  The bus let us off on the side of the road about a mile down a small road from the boat, with a huge pile of stuff.  We got a ride back to the boat.  It took several hours to open the boat up and unload the living quarters of all of the stuff that we had stored below while we were gone.  What a chore.  Then we had all of the new stuff to unpack and find places to stow in every nook and cranny of the boat that we could find.  And all of this in very hot and muggy weather.  But even so, it was great to be back on the boat, our home.  Even though we were exhausted it was too hot to sleep.  It took several days to get back to our old routines, unpack and get the boat ready to continue our journey north farther into the Sea of Cortez.  We got the animals back, it was great to see them.  Hopper seemed a bit out of sorts, but we thought that he was just  mad at us for leaving him.  He also had tons of ticks, so both animals had baths right away.  As for cooking, it was just too hot, so we have been trying to use the BBQ more.  We had meatloaf and banana bread done on the BBQ, came out pretty good.  As soon as you turn the stove on down below (let alone the oven), it gets unbearably hot.  We now have six small fans on board, and whatever room we are in, we have them on.  It helps a lot, but sleeping is tough. We keep a spray bottle next to the bed and are continuously spraying down during the night.  We have jumped in the water a couple of times for some quick snorkels, but mostly working on the boat.  Fletcher did his first radio net in the morning.  This is how cruisers in an area stay in touch and find out what is going on and what any one might need.  He did a great job O.  We also began second and third grade for Dana and Fletcher O.  So school is in session.  This means about five hours a day of teaching for Nancy.  The next week, our friends on Encanto (another kid boat), pulled into Escondido.  It was great to see them and we all got ready to head north.  One last town run for supplies and a frustrating try for Mike to get the web site updated.  No luck!  This means that we will not be able to update the site until the fall at the earliest.  Oh well. 

From Puerto Escondito, we buddy boated with our friends on Encanto.  We headed north along the eastern shore of Baja and stayed in several great anchorages O.  We were sort of in a hurry to get as far north as possible since hurricane season was in full swing.  We did not dally anywhere for too long, although it would have been nice to spend more time exploring different areas.  We spent one night in Santa Rosalia, a cute little French colonial town.  Very different from the rest of Baja.  We looked around and did some more provisioning.  This is the last big shopping stop until we come back south!  We left Santa Rosalia in the afternoon.  When you are planning the legs of your trip, you need to figure out when you will be arriving somewhere.  You do not want to arrive near sunset or after dark as you need to see into the water and you need the sun to be high in the sky for this.  So, when planning departure times, you back it up from when you want to arrive somewhere to see when you need to leave.  The trip from Santa Rosalia was going to be an overnighter to the next stop.  We headed out, did some school, had dinner and were hunkering down for the night.  The kids were asleep and Nancy was just going down with Mike on watch, when Mike called down to Nancy to get up top NOW!   There was no time to put clothes on or anything else reasonable.  There was a Chubasco approaching incredibly fast. which is a thunder cell that packs a lot of wind, lightning and rain and all of this causes big waves to suddenly raise up from all different directions. This was Nancy's first time in some big weather. The winds went from 12 knots to 45+ knots in a matter of seconds and stayed for around 3 hours. Everything went well on Desiderata and she handled very well, although it was quite the mess down below O. The Chubasco hit at 10:45 pm so neither of us got any sleep except for the kids who slept through it all. From the time that Mike saw the storm coming our way, to the time it hit hard was just a matter of minutes.  Mike was just able to get the sails down, while Nancy steered and began throwing everything below that was on deck.  Poor Hopper was down below and all of these projectiles were descending into his domain.  He did not know what to do.  Once it hit, the winds were instantly in the 40-55 knot range.  The waves built quickly and it was a wild ride.  Waves were breaking and blowing sideways through the cockpit.  Believe it or not, Nancy was even cold!  She was soaking wet and never did have time to put many clothes on, so she was in the cockpit with a towel wrapped around her for about five hours.  That was what was unusual about this Chubasco, it was so strong for so long.  There was another one on the horizon just a couple of hours later when things were starting to calm down (this was about 5 hours into the whole episode). Boy did that put fear into us as we were not mentally or physically ready to face another one of those so soon after the last.   We turned away from the storm, hove to, woke Fletcher to keep watch while Mike and Nancy lay down on the cockpit cushions for an hour.  It was exciting for Fletcher to steer in a storm, mostly he was just keeping the nose of the boat into the wind.    We rode it out until it passed, and we barely felt any wind from that one. Yea! Our buddy boat had both of their sails shredded.  Other than that, there are a few cuts and scrapes and on Encanto, some technicolor bruises too. So all in all it was a good experience to know how to handle some rough conditions when they hit and next time we will be even more mentally equipped to handle it. We actually handled everything very well and in assessing the situation, there were not any lessons learned that we would change for next time. The most amazing thing was how fast and furiously it came upon us. The only time that Nancy actually cried was the next day when we listened to the radio and heard a "health and welfare" call put out for Desiderata. That really hit home and brought to light how intense the situation was. The call was put out by another boat that knew our intended destination and knew that we were out in the sea when the Chubasco hit.  One boat  was lost on an island south of us. The people were fine, but the boat was totaled. Another boat was damaged but survived.  Yikes, I am glad that we were where we were and not where they were! Although at the time we were in it, we were thinking that we would rather be just about anywhere else than where we were! 

We spent the next couple of nice days licking our wounds in San Francisquito, a beautiful anchorage, but no town. The kids had two other kid boats to play with on the beach once school was done. There is a deep water channel right off of where we are, so the water is actually cool here. It is quite refreshing after being in 95 degree weather with water temps of 90. We went snorkeling to look for food and Mike got a good size Barred Pargo. Nancy got stung by something and had all sorts of lovely blisters up and down her arms and hands.  Not a pretty sight.  Believe it or not the water was so cold that she did not even realize until much later that she had been stung.  A day was spent on Encanto working on repairing at least one of their sails so we could continue on.  There is no town or place to get anything done except for the resources of what we or other boats around have on board.  It is kind of like living in a frontier zone.  You must be very resourceful and rely on your nearest neighbors.  There is a great sense of community and if anyone is ever in trouble, all the cruisers that are in the area rush in to help. We have been having lots of potluck dinners on Encanto, they are a 60 foot steel boat with lots of room for dinner parties and they love to have people over. The only problem is that it is hard to reciprocate since we do not have the room that they have and they have a cat allergy issue and we have a cat. We do have fun over there though, the kids just play and play in all of that space.



Please click to enlarge!

  Visiting Patrick and Sally Parker on their new horse ranch

  Dana and Fletcher love horses 

  Fletcher getting some horse time

  The new ranch also has a pool and hot tub!  Mike and Nancy get some one on one time

  Club Mac begins!

  One of the Club Mac activity stands attended by Dana and Kaylee

  More cousins, Carly and Kaylee

  There were lots of activities, like face painting

  The final result, a beautiful dream catcher and model

l  Another version of the face painting art.  Artist- Brady McConnell, Model- Fletcher McConnell

  Diana and Nancy catching up

  Aunt Diana and Uncle Rob in action

  The Welcome Club Mac Dinner at Aunt Diana's and Uncle Rob's

  Brunch at the Brig

  Fletcher doing his first radio net

  Campfire and s'mores with Encanto

  School time at San Juanico, dress code is casual

  The cabin after frantically throwing everything below during the Chubasco


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