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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Our Days in The Bay of LA


The anchorages at Isla Coronados are definitely in my list of top spots here in the North Sea. They are safe and secure anchorages. Bahia de las Rocas and the little spot tucked in behind Isla Mitla’n offer shelter from most winds which is paramount during the wild weather summers of the North Sea. The area is beautiful in its starkness and the fishing is great. Most nights we could hear the whales feeding and breathing in the channel just outside the cove and most days we fished and usually had enough for dinner in less than an hour.

Living off the land in the North Sea was simple and easy. In fact between the clams and the fishing the last time we bought meat or chicken was way back in April and our tiny freezer still held two chicken breasts and some carne asada. We feasted on steamed clams, stuffed clams and clams in red sauce, grilled fish, teriyaki fish, baked fish, fried fish, Yellow Tail sashimi and fish and chips. My favorites are the little Yellow Tails - nicknamed firecrackers because they put up such a good fight when you reel them in- with their wonderful fresh and mild flavor. They are delicious in tacos and make exceptional sashimi and ceviche.

A good many of our days spent there we were completely alone which is always nice but we also spent many evenings with friends new and old. As much as we love company there is something wonderful about having a beautiful anchorage all to ourselves. The quiet is all ours and there is no need to have soggy swimsuits hanging around. Plus in this kind of heat when you have the anchorage all to yourself you get the bonus of a nearly empty laundry bag which sure helps out on laundry bucket day.

After nearly two weeks at anchor we turned back to The Village at Bahia de los Angeles in time for the Net Controllers party. As the fleet gets smaller and smaller between March and June there is always a need for volunteer net controllers. So some quick mind came up with the idea for a Net Controllers Party. Only volunteers and their significant others may attend and since no one wants to miss out on a party it’s a win-win for everyone. I volunteered for Sunday night’s Southbound Net and it’s been a great way make new friends. There are three active Ham and marine single sideband Nets in Mexico: the Amigo, the Sonrisa and the Southbound Nets. They meet at different times every day and their primary purposes are to help people stay in contact, to pass on information, to give access to weather forecasts and to be an available avenue for priority emergency and medical traffic.

The controllers act as operators on what amounts to a big party line recognizing boats by their ships license call sign or their Ham radio call sign whichever the case and then facilitating the conversations. This way everyone who wants gets to check in and anything of importance gets out to those who might benefit.
Bill and I both passed our Ham license exams back in 2009 but there is a big difference between being a licensed Ham and actually being able to run your radio. The radios are more complicated to run than simple VHF, have a language all to their own that needs to learned and fall under specific FCC use rules and regulations. There is something about picking up a mike that leaves most people tongue tied, even me. Taking the net Control position has been a great way to become more proficient and was something I really wanted to be comfortable with before we leave to cross the Pacific in a few months.

I know I keep talking about how isolated we are here but it is such a culture shock. The world has become such a small place with the advent of the internet and the rise of cell phones. We have up till now found that we are rarely out of touch for more than a few days at a time even in Alaska, the wilds of BC and throughout most of Mexico. But Baja is different. When we left home we bought an “unlocked” Blackberry. The plan being that in each country we reach we will buy a new Sim card and then pay as we go for data and or phone service, that way anywhere there is cell coverage we simply “tether” our cell to our computer and walla’ internet. Between that and the Wi-Fi antennae on our boat we have had access virtually everywhere. Up till now. Here in Bahia de Los Angeles they have no cell coverage which leaves all of us sort of going through withdrawal. To add insults to injury there are a couple of places in town where you can get online but they are through “dial up” connections which are almost worse than no connection at all. The cruisers tend to hit the Village in droves quickly overwhelming their system till connectivity simply crashes. Worse yet is the fact that a brand new cell phone tower is already erected and complete it just isn't turned on yet!

Since all the cruisers use the internet for Face Book, Blogs and email suddenly many of us feel more removed than ever before from the stream of life. It certainly hit me when I got an email from home telling me my mom has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Though I am only about 1200 miles from Seattle it sure feels like a long way when you hear something like that. The feeling of frustration from lack of contact has been unfortunate and uncomfortable. With my inability to call or Skype I felt a long way from my family. The good news is that they caught it early and the cancer is highly treatable. The bad news is I can’t do a Google search for a cram course in breast cancer treatments and I’m not there as our family circles the wagons in support.

Most of us out here I think have already anticipated just this type of scenario. When you decide to leave family and friends for the traveling life in your 50’s and 60’s there are some inherent obstacles that come with the separation. It’s making a conscious decision to walk away from senior family members and young grandkids. Elderly parents get sick and need support or grandma especially begins to miss those cuddly little grandbabies and calls it quits. In fact those issues are the two most cited reasons that turn people back from this dream. My very first thought was to find a bus and get to an airport. Unfortunately today - Sept 1st through Oct 31st marks prime hurricane season making leaving the boat unattended a risky decision. We have to be here for the possibility of both running from and getting ready for a massive blow.

So, here I sit writing blog posts and stacking them up to post at a later date and feeling very thankful we have our Single Side Band radio with its Pactor modem so that at least we have email capabilities. A few years ago sending email from the middle of nowhere was unheard of now cruisers have several choices for staying connected and with them I know mom is in good hands and is surrounded by people who love and care for her. I can follow along and stay in touch and wait patiently for a winter visit. Right now it just feels like I am a long way from home.


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