Ambassadors for all we America was. Apologists for all America is.

Archive for January, 2014

Bahia San Gabriel … the closest bay on Espiritus Santos Island north of La Paz

We have worked for months getting ready to sail, but reached the day we were to leave without the necessary ‘Residencia Temporal’ cards documenting our Resident status in Mexico.

We were to travel with friends, Nancy and Sven on s/v Senta II, to Bandaras Bay on the mainland with a notion of staying for a bit in La Cruz before heading south along Mexico’s western shore.  We decided to not waste the time, so we went along with them to Bahia San Gabriel, which is the southernmost bay on Espiritus Santos Island.  The trip is about 20 nautical miles of coastal sailing.  Takes 3-4 hours if the wind is favorable.

It was a cloudy day with light winds so the boats moved, but slowly at times.  These are the days that distinguish boats that like to sail from boats that need to get there and boats that would rather motor given a good excuse like ‘light winds’.

Sven and Nancy, and Carolyn and I seem well-matched in this attitude, since both boats sailed most of the way there … using the engines mostly for anchoring.  We arrived perhaps 45 minutes behind them to find them setting their anchor in the hard sand bottom.Senta2anchor

This is how Spiritus looks from the bowsprit as we do the shake down for sailing again.  Very close to how she looked on the way south and in some ways very different from how she looks sitting in the marina.


On this short trip, we are checking the water flow to the engine after the water-maker modifications to its flow.  We are checking the function of the new wet-exhaust elbow that was installed two weeks ago.  We are also looking at the water-maker output and watching to see if it affects our energy management.  We had already converted many of the boat’s inside lights to florescent with lower usage to balance against the demands (4 amps an hour) of the water maker.  We replaced four 40 watt incandescent bulbs with four 5 watt florescent which produce identical light in color and intensity and in lumens.

We haven’t yet changed out the anchor light (old style) on top of the mast with a newer more efficient LED bulb which we purchased.  It should make a big enough difference to balance out the new energy demand from the water maker.  It is always about balance in small systems.

Absolutely mellow and beautiful anchoring in the small bay.  Glass-like water with light to nonexistent winds.  Oh, and we are there on a near-full moon so, even at night, it is still beautiful.

Did I mention the sunsets?


The first shot is the sunset from the deck of Spiritus; the second is the sunset at almost the same instant from the deck of Senta with Spiritus at anchor in the pic; the third image is Senta II at anchor taking the pics.  All these were coincidentally taken at the same time. ( We stole/borrowed the pic from Senta II’s deck from their blog … thank you Nancy and Sven).

SentaLeavesAll things, even great anchorages … become part of a bigger story and longer voyage.  Senta II makes her way out of the anchorage and off to the mainland via the  San Lorenzo channel, Bahia de Los Sueños (Bay of Dreams is the marketing term) or as everyone and all maps call it, Bahia de Los Muertos (Bay of the Dead).  They will probably overnight there and head south to Los Frailles to wait on the wind.

We, on the other hand, have to head back to La Paz and check on the status of our immigration documents (see other page under Mexico Immigration changes for how it has all turned out).

CarolynHelmLady Spiritus (Carolyn) got to sail the boat all the way back to La Paz.  A nice gentle reentry to sailing since she hasn’t sailed in about two years.  She sailed Spiritus into La Paz harbor under just a mizzen sail and a partially furled genoa  … no main and no stay sail.  Had about 10 knots of wind behind us the whole way …. beautiful end to a shakedown sail.  More to come next week when we head off in pursuit of Senta II.

We will find you, Nancy!  Oh yes–we will!


‘Branch water and Bourbon’ . . . making drinking water from the ocean.

Many of you who read this know that one of the philosophies of Spiritus, as a boat and means of travel, is to have as little effect on the local environment as possible.  So the boat is solar-powered for all electrical; uses a solar oven to reduce her need for LPG; has a solar shower we use for heating water; and, as much as possible, uses rechargeable batteries for portable devices.  These are drills, cameras, lights, radios, computers, GPS, clocks, flashlights, headlamps, even our mascot–a mechanical butterfly.

Even the large batteries of the boat are charged primarily by solar panels … that allow us to use the boat’s electrics and start her diesel when necessary.

As part of that, we acquired a water maker.   It is a used Katydyn Survivor E40 that makes about 1.4 gallons of water an hour thru a process of a mechanical piston forcing salt water thru a membrane that only lets the water part thru.

We can now make water anywhere there is ocean.  Yeah!  For most boats, the ocean is like a big desert made of water.  Because, you can’t drink it.  On this desert, Spiritus travels like a desert camel carrying his Bedouin rider from oasis to oasis or from well to well.  In the case of a cruising sailboat , that is from port to port, or from an anchorage with a river to another anchorage with a river.

The water maker changes this equation of navigating from water to water …. or more precisely from drinking water to drinking water.  If you look at our decks, we have water jugs in addition to two internal water tanks for drinking water.  Now we can fill our own tanks … or the tanks of others if there is an emergency.  It also allows us to move freely, without regard to a marina with water for drinking … so the anchor-out opportunities are now abundant.

So to steal a line from Lawrence of Arabia (the movie at least) if “The desert is an ocean in which no oar is dipped’ and on this ocean the Bedu go where they please,” then the ocean is a desert on which Spiritus travels as she pleases!

Well, enough about nautical nomads … back to the water maker.  Below is a pic of the new baby.


It draws water up through the boats salt water intake for the engine .. uses the boats salt water strainer .. and takes a very small amount for the water maker.  For every gallon of pure water we get … nine gallons are returned to the ocean as ‘brine’ meaning slightly saltier water on return.

DSC_0007The installation was not straightforward is all I will say.  It took me and a decent mechanic two full days to get it working … air bubbles in lines … leak at the flush valve … a need to put in the factory recommended spooler thingy replacement … that previous owner had not had to do … but it all was worth it after the first few ounces of drinkable water came out.  Then, we got the new calibrated electronic tester to confirm what our taste buds say is great water.

The water we have access to in the slips at Marina La Paz tests at about 280 parts per million and it, too, is made from sea water to reduce the demands that a cruising fleet would place on local water supplies in a desert city.  My first glass of pure water from Spiritus water maker tested at 177 parts per million. EPA water standards say up to 400-500 parts per million is probably ok.  We use about three gallons a day so it has to be run about two hours a day …not every day but pretty frequently to keep tanks topped off.  We have storage for nearly 100 gallons on the boat .. so she can go quite a while on the stored water.  That may change now that we make water .. there is already discussion of do we need the deck five-gallon water bottles anymore?  And we may retire one inside tank and make it boat water for cleaning and not drinking.

But, back to the water!  It tasted very special   … as in great … pure and not like anything I have tasted before … just water in all its life-sustaining glory.  It is like a little miracle next to the engine.

Now, what to do with that first shot glass of water …. hmmm!


Final Immigration process progress note added! 1/25/2014

See the information in the heading bar above for recent update on where we are in the process of staying in Mexico for a longer period of time. 1/10/2014 no progress with 6 days to go before a departure for the mainland.  No change in INM web info on our status.  No email from INM.  No phone contact by local office as promised.  Will return to local office Monday 1/13/2014.  That leaves three days to sort this.  Fingers are now uncrossed … finally approved 1/25/2014 see “Consumatum est” … posting under above heading.

New Year’s Resolution

How I spent New Year’s Eve.

Eat black Eyed Peas … Lady Spiritus even found a way to make them taste good.  You do this because it brings luck and wealth … or at least avoids financial tragedy.

Make a resolution.  Mine is … wait for it.

“I will ride a dragon!”  Go ahead, top that one.  I dare you!

If you have read the blog, especially the posting “Have you got game?”, then you will already know I am a player of Skyrim. Love the game.  I have hunted dragons, shouted them from the sky, fought them to a stand still, talked with them face to face in their own language.  One even gave me a ride to Savengard ( a version of Valhalla … sort of).

But like all Skyrim players, I want to fly a Dragoon.  Well that was my New Year’s Resolution.  Gamers who fly the Falcon F16, the Black Shark attack heli,  the Long Bow AH-64, the A10 Warthog, or the F15 Hornet … eat you hearts out!  Even the Sukoi SU-27 can’t match this for maneuverability.  Sure you can do the Cobra maneuver …. hahah but flare, turn, and burn is what Dragons are born to do.

First, about the Black Eyed Peas.  “I like Money!”  Thank you Sven and Nancy for that memorable movie quote.


We are preparing Spiritus to go to Sea again so I have been really busy with boat projects, maps, water maker installation, installation of a replacement SSB Radio, resurfacing the insides of the boats fresh water holding tanks.  We also just painted the bottom and redid all  the sea cocks.  And, we had a failure of the exhaust elbow that feeds the water muffler on our older Volvo MD 17D diesel engine.  It started leaking water into the engine compartment and diesel fumes and carbon monoxide into the cabin.  Lots of real work.  Need a non real goal.

Lady Spiritus always says I “lead a rich fantasy life.”  So be it!

It is New Year’s Eve fire works are going off all over La Paz and I am sitting here with a small shot of Grand Marnier and a game controller.  Now, about that resolution.

I will ride this Dragon.  Easy boy!


Put your feet here.  Grab a horn.  Pull  up.  Safety belt, we don’t need not stinking safety belt!  Ok, let me see, where is the ignition.  Hey, there are no computer ships to fail and no real controls,  I am one with this beast.  Up, up, and away!


Look Carolyn … er I mean … Lady Spiritus, I’m flying!  “While you are out, dear, can you pick up some milk to go with your fruit cake?”

I am getting the hang of this.  Bank left.  You pull on the left horn.  Bank right. You pull on the right horn.  But I remember the words of wiser people.  No one ever died flying.  It is the sudden stop when you hit the ground.  Or, flying or getting the beast into the air is the easy part.  Sitting her back down … now that is flying!

So, keep air speed up so you don’t stall, pull back on the horns,  watch the angle of attack .. full flaps (or in the case of a Dragon full flapping), extend the landing gear … watch the ground come up slowly …. slowly … nearly there ….


My Dragon is like “Have you ever landed before?”  “Hundreds of times” hoping he doesn’t see the small beads of sweat.  “If you count simulated landings!”

I swear I heard the Dragon whisper “We are all going to die … ”


Ok, maybe I did not pick the best place to land.  I am the small object flying thru the air below the Dragon’s neck.  But, hey, any landing you can walk away from is a ‘good’ landing.

Happy New Year from S/V Spiritus and her crew.