Journey's Blog

Friday, June 19, 2015


MAY 22, 2014

Bahia Concepcion is a 25 mile long bay running north to south positioned on the eastern side of Baja on the Sea of Cortez. This bay offers beautiful protected anchorages, snorkeling, a few small restaurants and tiendas (small markets) making this a great cruising stopover. We buddy boated with sv Windsong, a sailboat we met in Puerto Escondido who has a teen on board. We anchored off Posada Concepcion just south west of Santispac. Surrounded by small uninhabited islands and rocky reefs, this area had great wind and wave protection, amenities cruisers seek. We spent a great week here exploring by dinghy the different islands in search of great snorkeling. Although the visibility was slightly murky due to the bottom being stirred up by wind/wave action, we were easily pleased and excited to just explore the reefs. We would land our dinghy on a small beach and gear up. We saw loads of Sargent Majors, trigger fish, puffer fish, and even an octopus. I was able to do some paddle boarding a few days before the afternoon winds would creep in. 
We found ourselves wanting to stay but the time was approaching for us to make our way across the Sea once again. We listened daily to the Ham net, Sonrisa for weather updates given by Geary. For those of you unfamiliar with what that all means I will give a brief tutorial. We have a single side band (SSB) which is a device that allows us long range communication via the ionisphere when the appropriate propagation is set-understand? In order to speak on the Ham nets, one must have a General license from the FCC which required taking 2 tests and lots of studying of information that is still Greek to me. A net is basically a scheduled time for people to checkin in-giving their location and conditions as well as receive forecast information. So, Sonrisa net is a popular net for checkins around the Baja and Geary is a gentleman that lives in El Burro Cove in Bahia Concepcion who generously dedicates his time to develop weather forecasts for cruisers. This is and can be a lifeline to many of us cruising when we have no other way to receive weather so that we can make informed decisions about where to go and when to go. There are other nets, weather gurus, and alternatives for weather as well but Geary does a nice job summarizing it all. Lesson over.
After getting our weather window (window is another word for opportunity in cruiser lingo), we left the comfort of our anchorage to make the 90 nm crossing towards San Carlos on the mainland side. We calculated (here comes the math) D=RT or 90nm=5knots/x, x=18 hours. Of course we calculate a few different scenarios by plugging in 5.5 or 6 knots which in turn shortens the time. We typically average 5.5 knots. 
We left at 0300 under a moonless sky and scattered clouds which means very little light in which to navigate by when leaving an anchorage strewn with reefs and small islands. The route was circuitous and difficult even though I was able to use our previous route that brought us into the anchorage. Nightime, like fog can be very disorientating. Journey was on the bow with a very strong light looking for dangerous obstacles that we might not see on radar, John was assisting with communication and navigation and I was at the helm steering and navigating. John has the most difficult job as he usually has to deal with me as I squeal in high pitches when I get disoriented at the helm. He holds his cool, calms me down by giving me instructions and for that I am grateful that he treats me with respect. It is a team effort and I know that when challenges come quickly that my family can hold it together.
After a slow start (it took us 2 hours to travel 9nm)  we reached the head of Bahia Concepcion, ready to set our course north east and an hour until sunrise would start-things were looking good! Not so much. 
As soon as Namaste stuck her nose out, the wind shifted to the NE at 10 to 12 knots-going to weather is not ideal as our speed dropped to 3 to 4 knots and the seas began to get sloppy-this makes for a long passage even longer and uncomfortable. We slogged along for several hours watching our arrival time on the chart plotter as midnight-something that unnerves us as entering a port at night is not optimal. After several hours the wind finally shifted to the northwest at 14+knots with building seas. The seas quickly became stacked first at 4 feet then a steady 6-8 feet with occasional 10 footers off our beam. Stacked is when the one wave comes right after another versus a longer swell period which allows time in between for the boat to settle. With stacked seas, moving around is not only uncomfortable but can be dangerous due to flying objects and difficulty holding on. We had the boat prepared for sea which is a routine we have that includes placing all objects that are not physically attached to the boat to be placed in a safe area. We had a few small items that found their way to the cabin floor and the only casualty of the trip was John’s favorite coffee mug. Hmmm. Father’s Day is approaching and we will be near Defenders where I bought him this one many years ago.

Pulling into San Carlos as the sun was setting felt great. The anchorage is well protected, we were exhausted, we anchored around many boats we have met over the past few months that are preparing to haul out too. So here we are, the end of our freshman year as cruisers is coming to end, bittersweet. We are excited for the next several months to be off the boat-my next blog will give the details of our plans…so stay tuned.
                                            BROKEN MUG FROM OUR CROSSING
                              POUNDING INTO THE WAVES (this was not when it was so bad)
                                                       SUNRISE IN BAHIA CONCEPCION

Cultural Sensitivity

May 9, 2015

We have been in Mexico for almost 6 months and have had the opportunity to gain insight into the plight of language barriers and cultural sensitivity. Since I took 5 years of French, I was not nominated as the main interpreter of our group. John had High School Spanish (over 30 years ago) therefore he was nominated by default. Upon our stay in La Paz, we decided we would take Spanish lessons so we had a National, Sergio, come to the boat 3x week for 2 hours each session. Our brains were so fatigued after the sessions. John’s Spanish improved and was able to pull his prior knowledge that had been dormant in the recesses of his brain back to the forefront. Journey and I got a good a spring board and could understand more than we could converse. 
As we travelled throughout Mexico we have had to buy groceries, ask for directions, ask for bus/transportation information, and general conversational needs. Whilst John has been able to be our main communicator, we have all tried to use the limited mastery of the language that we have to improve our skills. 
Simple tasks such as ordering a meal at a restaurant can be done in English, but we have felt that we are in a Spanish speaking country therefore we should at least try and use our skills. We have found the people of Mexico to be extremely patient with us. Many will try and use their English and we have to ask them to stop so we can learn Spanish. Once they know we are interested in learning the opportunity then lends itself to a “free” lesson. We have had these in shops, markets, and restaurants.  We have had several opportunities to help some improve their English while they help us with our Spanish-all done with smiles and laughter as we make strange sounds from our mouths that are supposed to formulate words that seem to sing off the lips of our teachers.
I think about the immigrants who come to the United States. Are they greeted with kindness when they are trying to assimilate? I could not say for certain that they would be. My maternal grandfather immigrated from the Ukraine as a young boy with his parents to New York-none of them spoke English. My grandfather learned on the streets of New York and in school but his parents struggled. I have gained greater sensitivity to the plight of those who are not only struggling to learn the language of their new home, but trying to complete the work of navigating around their community, shopping, and adhering to government rules/paperwork that is not in one’s native language. 

We will continue our slow progress towards learning Spanish and I am completely thankful to the people of Mexico that we have met that have encouraged and taught us. It is not only the “gift” of language that I am receiving but the “gift” of sensitivity towards those barriers that may hinder someone’s ability to communicate.