Home Page for Spirit Travels

Home Page for SPIRIT

Steve and Marsha's excellent adventure

This page chronicles the travels of the sturdy vessel SPIRIT as she, Cindy, Marsha, and Steve set out on their grand adventure.

Contact Infomation

  • Vessel Name: SPIRIT
  • Vessel Documentation Number: #683221
  • VHF Radio Call Sign: WBD 6329
  • Hamm License: KF6GKZ
  • Mail Forwarding Address: 909 Marina Village Parkway, #373, Alameda, CA 94501
  • Steve's personal email: stevesears@gmail.com
  • Marsha's personal email: marshasears@gmail.com
  • Web Page: http://bigadventure1.searspirit.com/index.html

    Our tale begins on October 1, 1996.... To start at the beginning, click here

    Update, July 31, 97

    My how things can change. 9 years ago, I organized a 3 couple sailboat charter from the Moorings based in Puerto Escondito, near Loreto Mexico. Tonight, at 3:30 AM, I'm sitting at the dining table in my RV, Harvy, in the parking lot of the old Moorings building, standing night watch over the parking lot. Moorings moved their base of operations here to La Paz 6 years ago. Though millions were spent on developing this port as a resort marina, politics got too thick and it is still a construction site, with no work being done and no projected completion date. It's still a great place for anchoring. It's a hurricane hole because of the hills and mountains that surround the port. Marcello, the night watchman of the grounds lives in the Moorings building with his 3 dogs. He sleeps between 2 - 5:00 AM. Because of a recent rash of car thefts and break-ins, the cruisers here have organized to take turns standing watch over the parking lot one night a week. Some of the cruisers that don't own vehicles are even pitching in because there are many boats anchored in the harbor with no one aboard, and the fear is the crime my spread from the parking lot to boats in the harbor.

    I'm back. I'm using my night watch egg timer to go out to the lot every 10, 20, and 15 minutes for a flashlight patrol. Harvy is plugged into Marcello's 110 volts so the air conditioner is running. Hey, don't throw me in dat briar patch, this seems like the hottest, most windless night so far this summer. Marsha's sleeping comfortably in the large 5-1/2' by 7-1/2 feet large double berth over the cab. Cindy is sacked out on the floor at my feet. I'm sure she'll get up and start barking if any trouble shows up. The current suspects of the criminal activity are a recently hired security guard at the Tripui trailer park, 3/4 of a mile up the road and two of his friends. He supposedly has a motorcycle. This information comes from Keith and Veronica of the vessel Shangrala IV. Keith is the manager of the non marina, he married a local Mexican woman. We assume she picked up the fact this person Tripui hired has a police record for auto theft from people in town. Loreto is a small town and everyone knows each other's business. The only part of the marina that has customers is the launch ramp, where many sport fishing boats get put in and taken out of the water. Services offered the cruising boats in the anchorage are free delicious mountain spring water, a free dinghy dock so you can get to shore, and for a 10 peso a week contribution, you can leave all your trash at the basura. Other services are a book exchange library and a mail drop at the marina office. There is a free parking lot, this is where the thefts are occurring, but for 20 pesos a week, you can park a vehicle in a small lot across the drive from Marcello's house. He put up a couple of halogen lights and his dogs bark at commotion. So far, there has been no trouble in this lot. Excuse me, I've got to go take a walk through the other lot.

    The coast is clear. Anyway, what's all this talk about Harvy the RV? You may recall my mentioning is the last page update that the next phase, phase 3, was trying to figure out how to beat the heat in the Sea of Cortez this summer. Believe me, it's gotten hot. The temperature stays in the mid to high 90's F, even at night. Sometimes a cooling breeze comes through for a while, much of the time it's calm. People with refrigeration are having trouble keeping their batteries charged. Where as last April, Spirit could go several days at a time without running the engine because of the energy from the solar panels and wind generator, now we have to run the engine 2 - 3 hours a day, and even that doesn't provide enough extra juice to have a reading light on at night, let alone watch a video on TV. We drink about 4 liters of lemonade aid per day, just to replenish the sweat. Very little of it gets flushed down the toilet. We've gotten in the habit of taking our showers with the sunshower after dark, naked on deck. We keep the sun shower protected from the sun all day, I've contemplated putting ice cubes in it. We've been drinking very little beer, it just doesn't do the trick. Cold cokes in the morning. Marsha's quit, but I still have a cup of hot coffee when I wake up, but sometimes it's insufferable. A couple of tonic drinks, gin, vodka, or rum, on ice with lime is thirst quenching and helps generate a better appetite before dinner. Today for lunch, I had half a cold cantaloupe. We've skipped many meals because of being too hot to be hungry. Folks, this is not the cruising season here. They say it gets even hotter in August and September, changing around mid October. I overheard in the trailer park restaurant earlier this evening that it was over 10 degrees hotter than last year. I'll be right back.

    All is serenaded. Our original plan, once we got unhooked from La Paz, was to keep heading north, following the clear water north as far as Bahia Las Angeles. There is not much there in the way of provisioning, but there is supposedly a market, a couple of restaurants, and a gas pump (no diesel) and all very close to the beach. There are reported to be 19 neat anchorages in the islands of the vicinity. Supposedly, water temperature stays cooler so you can just jump in to cool off. This is in contrast to Conception Bay, south of Mulege where the air is dead still and the water temperature gets the same as the air. I understand the time to be in the Mulege area is May, then keep going north in June. The Raines cruising guide states Bahia de Las Angeles as a good place for cruisers to summer over. Well, we got a late start leaving La Paz after race week because we were waiting for mail. It took 5 weeks to come from California, we finally left after 3 with hopes it would follow and catch up with us. Bob from Amazing Grace volunteered to stand watch for it and get it routed by himself or another cruiser bound for Puerto Escondito. But the temperatures were remaining cooler later this year. Reports were in June that the water north of San Juanico weren't clear yet. We ended up continuing to buddy boat with Laughing Buddha, mainly because Jim and Nancy are two of the nicest people we've ever met. Their plan is to take about 10 years to do a circumnavigation. Their goal is to winter on the mainland, leaving for the Marquises from Puerto Viarta around next March.

    I bet you didn't even just miss me. The coast is still clear and I've got one more walk in 15 minutes, then my shift is over and Marcello is back on. Someone volunteered to drive Buddha's Jeep from La Paz to Puerto Escondito so it would be there when they arrived. They planned to see the anchorages between La Paz and Loreto for a few weeks, go into Escondito for a few days to get mail and reprovision, go back out for a couple of weeks to explore more northerly anchorages, then go back to Escondito to get their boat ready to leave it for a few weeks. They were going to drive the Jeep to Southern California around July 15th, then fly to the east coast to visit relatives is several locations. Nancy's parents were planning a big family blowout party to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. They plan to come back at the end of August and continue on after bringing back a Jeep load of boat stuff you can't buy down here. This was in general the pace we wanted to explore the Sea, even though we were getting a late start. Bob and Deborah from Amazing Grace planned to catch up with us, as well as Fred and Judy on Wings. Fred and Judy left their boat in La Paz after race week to fly up to Seattle, Bob and Deborah took some time to fly up to Sacramento. It all seemed to fall in to place like a good plan should, so that's what we did. La Paz was getting hotter in May, but it was still very nice once you got away from there.

    June was bearable, we had heard people talk about last year staying until they couldn't stand it, leaving in mid June. This year, occasionally, there were hot nights that made it difficult to sleep, but the water temperature was perfect in the mid 80's on the surface and cooler a few feet down so swimming in the very clear waters of the anchorages was refreshing. Though people do find it pleasant in what's called Puerto Escondito's Waiting Room, no one swims for pleasure in the main harbor. It doesn't get a good flush, and it's a 50 foot muck bottom. So the period we were doing the reprovisioning while anchored in the main harbor was a little more uncomfortable. But there was a swimming pool at Tripui that was 10 pesos to use or free if you ate lunch there. That was nice a couple of afternoons. Our Feb. and March mail did catch up with us while we were there, delivered by Lock and Becky of Xephyr. They were quickly moving north with a plan to cross the Sea to have their boat stored in San Carlos for the summer and go touring in an RV they had stored in Tucson, AZ.

    After leaving Escondito the first time, we spent a few days at Isla Danzante, a day at Isla Coronado, 3 days is San Juanico cove, then a few more days in the Maquir anchorage on Isla Carman. We had a great time in Honeymoon Cove on Danzante, I'll discuss that separately. It was getting warmer, and it continued to do so on our way up to San Juanico Cove. On the second night of our stay there, Marsha and I were being hot in the cockpit after dinner, and started discussing other options for the rest of the summer. We had heard several people that have been down here a few years talk about how they preferred the Escondito area for the summer because it is actually cooler than further north. We could continue with our plan to travel the 300 + miles to LA Bay, but we will still be hot. This made us contemplate leaving the boat in Escondito for a few weeks and flying to the states to visit our friends in the San Francisco Bay area and take care of some personal business. There are several people in Escondito that you can pay to watch your boat. The Port Captain doesn't allow boats to be left unattended. For about $80 US per month, you can have someone sign the official paperwork to be responsible, and check your anchor and other systems weekly.

    The problem with flying is Cindy. She's never flown and we were worried about the hassle. We came up with one alternative that sounded pretty cool, buy an older used RV and sell it when we were done. Then we could take Cindy anywhere and not have to pay for motels or sponge big time off our friends. We decided to sleep on the discussion and continue it later. Though I actually got some pretty good sleep that night, Marsha's brain woke up at midnight and she started making a list of the features she would require if we did get an RV. The next day we talked about it a lot more. There were many positive aspects to it, and few negatives. The only negative I could think of was this would mean we would be leaving Fred and Judy of Wings on their own, but they had already decided to cross the Sea to San Carlos and I knew we wouldn't be joining so it meant only for a short while. Hopefully we'll see them again this fall. We would have our own wheels for provisioning and could take it to the mainland by ferry when we crossed the Sea this winter, then find a place to leave the boat for next summer and go touring inland or whatever. We made the decision that we would not be hopping off from the mainland next spring and moved that decision to the following year. We already had enough stuff to furnish an RV because of redundancy on Spirit. In fact, we would actually be able to gain back the use of our V-berth. We felt we could afford something in the cost range of $5 to $10K, and be able to sell it when we were done. When visiting friends, we would just need to borrow an AC outlet and their driveway which sounded less imposing. We could take some stuff we weren't going to use on Spirit back up to storage, get some things out, then buy the boat stuff we will need for the next haul out in Jan. or so, bottom paint, new instruments, etc. The thought of the idea became very exciting. A different way to beat the heat.

    That afternoon, while enjoying Cervezas on Amazing Grace with Bob and Deborah and Jim from Buddha, we discussed the idea we were rapidly approaching a decision on. Nobody threw any curve balls at us. In fact, Jim went so far as to offer me a ride up to the states when they went if there was nothing available in Loreto or Escondito. It was unlikely there would be, but I would have to get my act together quickly as they would be leaving in about 10 days. We found a couple of rough ones to look at in the $4K range and decided there must be more better stuff to chose from in Southern California so I agreed to Jim's offer to share fuel costs and the driving to Long Beach, CA. It would mean leaving Marsha and Cindy alone for a while, but she was all for it. She even made me an itemized checklist to use, and printed a dozen copies.

    Update continued on August 9, 1997

    Jim, Nancy and I left Puerto Escondito at 12:30 on the afternoon of July 15th in their Jeep. The trip up the Baja peninsula was not as bad as I had imagined. There is only one lane each way on Highway 1, and the highway budget did not allow for much extra shoulder, but except for one stretch of pot holes about 15 miles long, the road condition was good. Faster cars have to pass slower cars when the coast is clear. There are green van's you see at least once a day that patrol the highway and help vehicles in distress. PEMEX stations are plentiful, you pass 2 or 3 before needing to gas up. You do have to be careful of animal's straying into the road. We saw a couple of dead horses. There are also cows, goats, and coyotes to watch our for. You don't drive at night! You have to pick your time right for the leg between Santa Rosalia and Guerrero Negro so you are not driving into the sun. The first day's drive gave me an opportunity to see the anchorages of Bahia Conception, Mulege, and the marina in Santa Rosalia, for future reference. We spent the night in a motel in Guerrero Negro, then made it to Long Beach, CA in a long 12 hour next day. I think Jim and Nancy were happy to have me along to share the gas cost and driving. I didn't drive off the shoulder. They were enthusiastically sharing the thoughts about my mission to find the right RV, one Marsha would be happy with. We did have a good lunch during the long day, almejas ahumadas (smoked large pismo clams) at Cocteles Fito, a small roadside lunch stand in San Quintin recommended by Jo Cummings' Baja Handbook.

    As soon as we hit Long Beach, we made a bee line to a restaurant that specializes in barbecue baby back pork ribs. Other food thoughts coming to mind, after months of going without, were Macdonald's anything and some good prime rib. After dinner, Jim and Nancy dropped me off at a near by Best Western loaded with the Sunday paper and a bunch of RV trader rags. They said there was plenty of room on their friend's boats, Lance and Jo on Milagro or Dan and Margie on Valhalla for me to stay free, but I need an office. I needed a place where I cold send and receive faxes, make calls, receive messages, get mail, etc. The Best Western was new, only two years old and conveniently located at the intersection of Long Beach Blvd. and Pacific Coast Highway. What a trip being in the states after all these months, the diversity.

    I started in on the want ads and flyers Sunday night. By Wednesday afternoon, I owned a Class C, 1978 Dodge / Tioga. It seemed like everything there was to look at in my price range were 78 Dodges. I can't explain why and it felt circular remembering my first job out of college back in 1978 when I joined Chrysler as an engineer at their headquarters in Highland Park, MI. That place was a mess back then, before Lee Iacocca took over, but at least the truck's still had a good reputation. I was afraid of renting a car, since I looked scraggly, not having had a hair cut in 10 months and didn't have answers to questions like who's your employer and what's your phone number but decided to tell the truth and see what happened. I'm retired and cruising my yacht in Mexico. I hitched a ride up to buy an RV with air conditioning to beat the summer heat. I need wheels to go shopping. The first attendant at Enterprise had to pass the task to another who called out the manager, who was just buying a Newport 30 sailboat. As I explained my story, the entire office stood by to listen while the manager started yamming about sailing. In the end, they all wanted to change places with me and happily rented me a car.

    After driving for hours each day learning the Los Angeles freeway system, and sketching out many Benjamin Franklin Pro/Con scales I narrowed my decision to two units. One was for sale by a private owner in the same marina as Buddha and company, the other was on a used RV dealer's lot. I decided on the privately owned own, tough decision but it felt homier. While I was in the process of closing on it, which involved me paying for a survey, the salesman from the dealer kept calling my hotel trying to find out what would make me decided on the one he had for sale. Because I had decided on the other one, his main leverage was price, but it did have features the one I was buying didn't. Moments after the survey uncovered the roof was full of dry rot and would not support an air conditioner, which was my main checklist item, I called the salesman of the other unit back and caved under his pressure. The asking price was $8,999, I bought it for $6,250 cash. Though I initially liked the layout of the other unit better, after visiting Dan and Margie's RV in the marina parking lot the night before, I began to see reasons why the dealer unit's layout would serve us better. It had a couch across from the dinette table where as the other unit had twin bunks in the aft end with the galley across from the dinette. When guests came to visit, you didn't all have to sit at the dinette. My new RV has 6 new steel belted radial tires, a Coleman roof air conditioner, a side awning, a built in generator, a hardly used 4 burner stove/oven, a double stainless sink, a shower stall separate from the head, a propane/electric fridge/freezer, newly recovered seat cushions for the couch and settee, and a sturdy ladder leading up to the luggage rack on top. The radio is old, but we have a new one in storage, the plan was to upgrade. With just over 71K miles, everything was pretty clean, I thought it must have spent much of the time in someone's garage. I was happy and felt Marsha would be pleased.

    So after a Wednesday night dinner aboard Milagro, then dropping Jim and Nancy off at the airport, Thursday morning I drove back out to Corona in my rental car to pick up the RV and head for San Diego. It was a lot of stress to accomplish so much in so little time, especially after the cruisers pace I had been on but I knew what had to be done. I didn't believe we would make it through the hot season, let alone have fun and that's what this is supposed to be about. So now I have the keys. 9 months without driving my Mazda RX7 and I've spent the last 5 days spending hours a day driving a jeep, then a Neon or whatever, now I have to start the engine to a bus and plan another 1000 + miles. The first three blocks to the gas station were especially rough, but then I figured out how to release the emergency brake...

    My plan was to make it to San Diego, getting over a 100 miles out of the way, then meet up with Bob from Amazing Grace who planned to fly up from La Paz to help drive it down. The original plan for him to come help so he could buy a bunch of boat stuff to bring back was great when they were anchored next to us in Escondito. But at the last minute they started having problems with their generator and suddenly hoisted anchor and made way back to La Paz for repairs. He still wanted to join me, but now I would have to drive him back to La Paz, another 200+ miles past Escondito as part of the deal. I thought it would be much better not to have to make the drive down Highway 1 alone, so I still agreed, but it was and uglier deal. After taking a suggestion from our friend Craig Levin, formerly of the vessel Decoy, I arranged for Bob to meet me in the parking lot of the San Diego Yacht Club. I still had 7 days left on my membership card to Sierra Point Yacht Club and decided to take advantage of the reciprocal privileges. When I arrived, I grabbed a phone book and headed for the bar to look up RV parks for a place to spend the night. As I was quaffing a pint of something amber, looking at the pages, I noticed Dennis Connor sitting three stools down from me with another face I recognized from racing fame articles in Latitude 38. I still remembered his bad form with the (was it Aussies or New Zealanders) from years ago and decided against sucking up to get his side of the story. I suppose after the mega millions of bucks spent and the months of stress mounting an America's Cup challenge, there may be room for a patriot to make some remark about the horse you rode in on. I can't say I've never made an ass of myself after drinking too much alcohol. His voice was higher pitched than I would have imagined for someone with that chunky frame.

    I ended up spending the night in a parking lot on Shelter Island overlooking the channel that goes out to the ocean. I was driving by and noticed several other RV's with a 24 hour parking limit sign and said what the heck. Turn off the key and you're home. Since Bob wasn't due to arrive until the afternoon, I ate breakfast at Macdonalds, then spent the rest of the morning hanging out in the parking lot of Home Depot. After my first trip in, I went back to the RV, drank a coke and started measuring different stuff, then went back into the store. I had the feeling like when you are involved with a project and have to make several trips to the hardware or marine supply store over the weekend, except my project was sitting in the parking lot so I didn't have to go anywhere. That was kind of cool.

    I spent the afternoon waiting for Bob in the SDYC parking lot while sorting through my March - June mail I'd finally received at the hotel. It had already made it's way to La Paz and back to California after it couldn't find out how to get to Loreto through DHL. It turned out there were calls I had to make and fax's I had to receive, so spending the time there was a good thing, though SDYC charges $3.00 per page to receive a fax. I learned my 25th year class reunion was taking place the next day and wondered if I would have time to call to give them my web page info. About 20 minutes after I had finished dealing with the urgent stuff, I was sipping a cold beer from the fridge while scanning the July Latitude 38 I had picked up from Downwind Marine, Bob arrived and knocked on the door. He had a good plane ride up to Tijuana and after walking across the boarder, caught the trolley to Old Town in San Diego, then a cab to the yacht club. He had ideas about visiting friends but I reminded him Marsha was sitting on the boat alone in the anchorage in Escondito, so we got down to the business of shopping for boat parts.

    After several marine supply stores, a prime rib dinner, and one last stop at Target where I picked up a few cheesy cassette tapes, we pulled into a hotel on Harbor Island. I preferred to stay in the RV while Bob checked into a room. I'd catch the shower in the morning. While futzing around surveying my new toy, I tried to play one of the cassettes I'd bought only to learn the tape deck was an 8-track, because the tape kind of just fell into the slot. After breakfast and a few more morning stops, we were underway towards the boarder by early afternoon, and made our way to San Quintin. After the last 1/2 hour at under 5 mph down a washboard dirt road, we found the RV park and got settled for the night. We made good time the next day with only one glitch, a 45 minute delay because a semi had overturned spilling someone's worldly possessions into a ditch. After deciding they weren't going to be able to right it, the wrecker crew and attending policeman decided to quit and let traffic pass. We spent the evening at an RV park in San Ignacio, an Oasis laden with date palm trees. After a good chicken dinner in town, we spent the last bit of night watching the full moon rise through the palms sitting at the tables in the park with a 3some of surfers in a camper, drinking brandy and smoking cigars. The next day brought us back to Escondito to introduce what we now call Harvy to Marsha. I decided not to try naming the RV until I saw what kind of ride I had down Baja. It was a good ride, and Marsha was happy to see us and quite pleased with the new dimension this would add to our lives.

    It took longer than I had imagined to get Harvy loaded and prepare Spirit to spend the rest of the hurricane season at anchor, but on the 7th of August we finally drove away from Puerto Escondido headed north. The next update to this page will describe our journey to San Francisco and what shape we found things when we arrived back in Puerto Escondito.

    Previous Updates

    October 17, 1996

    October 27, 1996

    October 31, 1996

    November 3, 1996

    November 13, 1996

    November 28, 1997

    January, 1997

    February, 1997

    Spring, 1997

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