Wednesday, 11 February 2015




Pic courtesy of Gary S/v Sea Turtle

Pic courtesy of Gary S/v Sea Turtle

Pic courtesy of  Hendo

The sea of Cortez has a huge amount of marine life including one of my favourites, turtles. 

Sailing home after having been out at the Islands, we cruised past a green sea turtle that was sitting on the surface, wrapped in something.

We turned the boat around and as we scooted back past, I stood on the step, and leaned into the water trying to free her. At this point we realised she was badly caught in a plastic woven sack. She was breathing, but severely gasping for air.

We put the kayak in the water and I went on over to see how I could help. She had strands from the bag tangled around her neck and front flipper, binding them together. 

She looked sad. I was a tad nervous that she might try and eat me or that I would hurt her, but she was incredibly passive. Using some pliers I cut the strands from her flipper and then from around her neck. Instantly her breathing changed. I thought that she might take off straight away, but she was exhausted from the mornings battle. She let me pat her and we hung out until she got up enough speed to go on her own way.

Unlike any other turtle I have seen before she had a pink flower on her head. She was beautiful. When we found her she was so vulnerable and yet had an abundance of smaller sea life using her for food and protection. A little ecosystem of her own.

There was warm fuzzy's all round and from then on in the the town, I was known as Aimee Wildlife Warrior (I made the last bit up)

Friday, 26 December 2014


A name is an important part of a vessel and I was always under the impression that unless you wanted to anger the 'sea gods' and bestow bad luck upon it and yourself, you did not rename your boat. However, after some great research and the realisation that the  previous owners had renamed her Catalpa only a year and a half before she became mine, I figured I can do whatever I want. 

The morning of the hurricane the whole 'what should I name my boat' conversation came up (as it did quite often). At that particular time I must have been hungry because naming the boat tortilla seemed like a brilliant idea to me... Apparently not so brilliant - that only lasted moments.

By mid afternoon, once we had prepped the boat for the hurricane and done all we knew to do, I was laying down, reading a story about a ship that was stolen by pirates and re-named 'The Fancy'. I thought this was an incredible name for a boat and it quickly evolved into 'Fancy Pants'. 

I was beside myself. I had spent ages looking for names and finally I had found one that I loved that had a theme song and everything. Partial love for the name was also due to the fact that every time I would have to be hailed on the radio, or we would enter a port the hailer would have to say 'fancy pants, fancy pants, fancy pants! I had struck Gold!

That night the hurricane happened. 

Two days later, when we were prepping the boat to have it pulled off the mud, we were reflecting on the previous nights misadventures. Talking about how in hindsight we should have done this and in hindsight we should have done that. There were sentences starting over and over again with 'in hindsight'.

After about the 5th time Hendo and I looked at each with a look of astonishment and realisation... an epiphany. Some might say, even similar to that of Isaac Newton when the apple fell on his head and he discovered gravity. Instantly it had become apparent that as much as I loved the name Fancy Pants, the boat wanted... In fact needed to be called Hindsight.

Friday, 21 November 2014


Anchored in the bay

Anchor Tattoo's

Picture courtesy of - Doesn't fully capture the part where you have to smoke.

Now this is not technical... And all my sailor mates, be gentle with your criticism... But I feel learning to set an anchor properly was imperative for me.

Talking anchors in the sailing/boating community is like talking religion or politics. Everyone has their own opinion and discussions can get very heated. What type of anchor? how much rode to let out? chain or rope? What anchor for what bottom, etc. Endless contradictive advice came on how to anchor the best way.

Let's be honest, I didn't really care, as long as my boat wasn't  going to go for a wander during the night. 

My boat is already rigged with a CQR as the main anchor and a Bruce as a backup.
With some good guidance, Paul came over and checked out the ground tackle. He told us of some extra items that were needed. After a trip to the chandlery, Paul showed me how to very technically wire up the new swivels to the anchor and chain (which will never ever come loose) and he taught Hendo how to splice a rope into a snubber. 

We had some of it down, but he ran us through it all again. He told us to Angle the boat towards the wind until in the desired position, keeping in mind depth, swing area, etc. Once in position, Put the boat in neutral and drop the anchor with the desired length of chain at 4x depth. Once chain is out, put the boat into reverse until the anchor grabs. Then, put the vessel hard into reverse for as long as it takes to have a cigarette (none of us smoked, though we have since thought about taking it up just for this exercise) at that point the anchor should be fully set. Let out more chain at another 3x depth for good measure.

Other than hurricane night this proved to be incredibly successful.

Sunday, 16 November 2014


Dinghy and Power Boat towing in the distance
Tieing rope to the channel marker to winch over
Hendo checking for holes

Concerned face, getting towed
 We had been off the grid in our hotel sanctuary since we were picked up from the boat the day before, so we headed to the marina first thing, with the intentions of seeing what was happening with the boats, missing people, etc.

Club Cruceras along with the sailing community was in full form. Shelly the commodore rounded up people, dinghies, supplies and fuel. It became apparent that there were people still on their boats and sailors still missing. 

The priorities were to get the people still on boats supplies and to take advantage of the high tides by pulling boats off the Mogote. 

We were pretty keen to get out to my boat to see what
we were dealing with so we grabbed a lift with a dinghy heading past and got dropped off at it.

When we got there we saw possibly the most positive sight we could. The boat was now leaning on her starboard side - the opposite to when we had left her. This meant with high tide she had the possibility of being floated high enough that pulling her off wouldn't be too difficult.

Hendo checked the hull for holes (fortunately their were none) while I tried to pull the anchor that we had dropped. Unfortunately number 20 channel marker which was now about 30 metres behind had still not stopped mocking us. During the hurricane it had wrapped itself around the anchor rode which made recovering it a mission. 

We would have just cut the rope, but it was literally the longest piece that we had and thought we might need it to use as a bridal, or at least to assist in getting the boat of the mud. 

We were having so much trouble untangling it that we ended up tieing a rope to the top of the marker and winching it over. It still proved a mission but we got their in the end. The navy watched us battle with it, from their boat. 

We organised for M/v Oso Negro to come at high tide to pull us off. Green at sailing life, we had no idea how to coordinate a boat tow and stress was still running high from literally everyone involved. Lucky for us, Don from M/v Double Overheard came through with a massive rope and tied it for us to use as a bridal. He showed us where to attach it and made it all happen.

Apparently the theory behind floating a boat that has run aground, is to pull the mast down from the halyard with dinghys and so it rolls the boat over. Then using the massive power boat, the bridal is pulled from the bow. This will swing the boat around and off she goes. 

Sure enough this works a treat. Mind you it is actually pretty scary being on the boat while they pull your cruiser so that the rails dip under the water. For a moment, I was worried if the hurricane didn't de-mast or shipwreck it, this might.

But alas, as soon as she was in deep enough for the saltwater intake to be covered, we cranked the engine. As always she purred instantly. Everybody cheered (I don't know if they actually cheered, but in my mind they did).

We were the second boat to be pulled off the Mogote, the first being our good friend on S/v Rascal. 

We paid out a lot of cartons of beer for that day and the whole ordeal.

Monday, 10 November 2014


Storm clouds rolling in over La Paz

Lapaz has a hurricane season. It usually consists of hurricanes coming near but only close enough to get some above average winds, with the last one just over a week before Odile proving nothing more than some rain and strong winds.

We were sitting on deck drinking our mid-morning coffee, talking about how we were going to eat fish tacos for lunch, do a shop and then head out sailing the next day. Paul came by and asked us if we had checked the weather and told us a hurricane was coming. Luckily he had shown us how to properly set the anchor a couple of days before. He told us exactly what we needed to do to prepare.

We bunkered up, stripped the decks of anything that could get loose, lashed lanyards, checked anchors and made sure we had a plan in place. 
By mid-afternoon we were bored and pretty sure it was an empty threat, we went for a swim at the mogote with Autumn, decided on a new name for the boat and cruised around very nonchalant. 
At about 9 o'clock the winds started howling and rain set in. At this point the eye wasn't due to pass over cabo til 1am so it had started early and was kicking up a fuss.
We were doing ok, we had a CQR anchor out with 250 feet of chain and we had just put a new swivel on in preparation. We also had a Bruce anchor as backup and a dan forth on rode that we could run as a back anchor if necessary... We had this. 

It was pretty early when the windlass broke and we lost our whole anchor and chain. The wind was so strong that we immediately started drifting at 6 knots. We had seen other boats that had gotten loose go past at similar speeds. Hendo was on top of the fact that we needed to get the engine going so we could steer around the powerboat we were drifting towards and start fighting against the wind and current so that we could try and reset a new anchor with one of our backups. 

Almost instantly we lost our dinghy. That didn't really surprise us because we had been watching it do back flips for at least half an hour before. But was still a sad moment, we were all quite attached.. except the dinghy obviously.

The weather was so rugged that falling off the boat was a huge possibility so being on deck required a lot of care. Hendo steered around the power boat and then was heading up his port side to back where we has been. He said he would head to the front and drop the anchor while I took the helm. I was sure to make him put a life jacket on.
I didn't last long at the helm, the swell was too strong and I couldn't fight it enough so we started to run aground. Luckily for us we hit the muddy bottom of the Mogote.
I have never been so stressed or felt so uneasy. We instantly tipped to one side and set in to get bashed and beaten by the wind and swell. Wet and cold we sat not knowing what to expect.
We ran through different scenarios about what we would do in different situations and decided that the absolute last resort was jumping off the boat. It couldn't sink now at least, because we were already on the bottom. At worst we could sit on the deck and hold on for dear life.
By 1 am the eye hit cabo, we had the radio for constant updates. Everyone was going through the same thing. Dragging, running aground and even taking on water. The desperation of the voices on the radio as people's boats broke free was spine chilling. Everyone could listen, but no one could help because we were all struggling to fight our own battle. 
At about midnight Hendo told me to get low and hold on to something tight. I didn't really know what was coming, but a small sailboat hit us. Luckily for us my boat is old and solid, so could take some brunt.
We started to bounce along the Mogote so dropped an anchor off the front to keep us from moving too far. We didn't want to drift any further into the Mogote, but we also didn't particularly want to drift back out to sea. At least we were safe-ish on the mud.
Must have been no longer than another hour later that another small sailboat decided to come and cosy up with us. Next coming from behind a huge steel power boat was coming directly for us. Luckily he ran aground before he could contact us. He bounced around right aft of us for a while so all we could see when we looked through the companionway was a big ass boat right at our tail. 
About another hour later we gained a big red channel marker. This was probably the meanest to the boat of them all. This marker started at the bow and worked it's way aft, beating the hull continuously for about an hour, destroying rails, life lines, my gas bottle connection and leaving beautiful red scratches on my white bottom.

We were told that Odile wasn't going to become level with la Paz til approx 5 am. It felt like time couldn't go any slower. We were counting down the time til daybreak and I kept saying  how I just didn't want to be doing this anymore. 

It wasn't til daybreak hit and the winds died down that we could really assess the damage. Missing dinghy and kayak, broken wind vein, broken rails, missing and broken rigging, lost anchor, water logged electrics and that's not to mention the hull that still needs to be hauled for proper inspection.
The scariest thing is we got off lightly. On going outside in daylight we discovered that approx 27 boats had run aground - most in worse situations than us. We could see that several had sunk and after the morning radio update it became apparent that there were boats missing with the owners that were on board, whereabouts unknown. Our friend Autumn had run aground into the mogote and got blown off her boat so spent the night in the mangroves.
When I wrote the bulk of this, I was still on the boat reflecting. We were waiting on the 'rescue team' to come and grab us. We were safe so low priority.

Al on M/v Tuna Tamer came out at about midday and collected us. If we had to wait for the Mexican navy, we would have been there for days  

**Vid and Pic courtesy of Hendo... Along with a heap of others over the blog I have not given him credits for.