Cruising  ~ The Cat’s Meow Style ~  April, May, June 2010

Still cruisin’, after all these years……





This spring – April, May, and June – we continued to work on some of those projects we had started earlier in the winter. It is funny how one expects those projects to go, how we expect that they will just take “a little time”…… they always take longer than expected!!! Most, or maybe all, of April was taken up with putting fiberglass on the forward deck, and then the aft deck, in preparation for the new non-skid paint. Martin took on the job of doing the fiberglass, and he did a darn good job of it, too. However, in doing that job, he did NOT get to the biiig job of enclosing the top deck steering station. Hmmmm………  He also worked with Elvin, who is the owner/operator of the boatyard, PEMS in PE. They have started a chandlery of sorts, plus work space and tools to rent for boaters who need them within the boatyard. Purrrrty cool, eh?


One day in April, we were stepping into the dinghy at the dock when we saw this nice big power boat come into the harbor. “Wow, that is a nice one” we said….and then…. “Wait!! Could that be our old friends from San Pedro and the Hurricane Gulch Yacht Club? Art and Judy??!” And…it was. What a huge surprise for us! We had not seen Art and Judy, aboard their 68’ Hattaras by the name of CarolynRob, for years and years. Of course, we spent time together chewing the fat and eating well, sharing our life stories, and introducing them to this part of the Sea. Unfortunately, we were not able to get out to the islands with them, due to the state of our projects all over TCM, but we did get to see each other in the Sea - - and that is always special.


Most of our days and nights here are at least pleasant, and often very good. However, some days are awful. Sometimes things happen that just take the wind right out of your sails, make you cry, and wonder. We had one of those days, here in our little community, on April 24th. John Caruso passed away very suddenly and much too early.  John had been diagnosed with bronchial pneumonia on Wednesday of the week prior. Besides his sewing, architectural, and splicing skills, John Caruso will always be remembered as a man with a huge heart. He was always in the front line to offer assistance, a ride to town, a boat part to loan. John was a very intelligent, kind, thoughtful person. We already miss his smiling face and his homemade pesto pizza.


 John and Lisa Caruso, Loreto Fest, 2009


May in the Sea of Cortez is always a good time: for boating, for water sports, and for FUN. The Loreto Fest is held in early May and draws cruisers from all over the Mexican waters. This year approximately 120 boats participated in the Fest. There are tournament games like bocci ball, over-the-line baseball, horseshoes; seminars ranging from fishing and diving information to taking care of your pet in an isolated, hot environment; crafts and cards and kids activities; and FOOD. Lots of good food. Music every night. Friends getting together and catching up, sharing stories and lies, having fun. It really is a good time.  (Photos taken by several people.)



              By the Sea ~ theme for Loreto Fest 2010                                     Martin gave a seminar to interested folks                                                Kids activities were fun, too



                                          Chili cook-off                                                            The scene at the hot dog stand & the bar                                                    Bein’ silly, havin’ funnn


A slightly familiar sirena (English: mermaid) showed-up and had toooo much funnn, teasing the men, interrupting the juggling class, and generally making people laff. She also later won the costume contest!! 


                                                                                                                    La Sirena……… 


Martin organized and ran the horseshoes tourney, again, and made sure everyone had a good time. He instituted a new wrinkle to the games this year: a five-toss winner for each day. That raised some pesos for the cruiser emergency fund, which will provide supplies for emergencies, such as patching/towing/saving boats. Robin re-instituted the SPAM Art Contest. People get the craziest ideas for ways to use that “mystery meat” to make “art”, which is then judged, and prizes given. What funnnn!!! (Ditto about the photos)



                   That is a bed made of SPAM that Lola is on…..                                                       Music any time of day                                                              Fun all day long


While the Loreto Fest is a grand time to meet and have fun, the basis is in philanthropy. The pesos collected at a variety of activities such as the silent auction, hot dog & beer sales, the 50-50 nightly drawing, and many others are ear-marked for the local communities. Much of the funds go toward helping young students get to and stay in school, while other of the monies goes to local charities. The gringos have fun and help their Mexican hosts at the same time – a win/win situation.


Have you ever seen a whale shark? They are not sharks at all, but a baleen whale that often skims the surface of the water with its huge mouth wide open to scoop up all of those tiny little krill. It takes a LOT of those little krill to feed such a huge mammal! Whale sharks are docile, gentle creatures, who evidently do not mind the humans watching and even swimming with them… long as we don’t do something stooopid like grab onto that powerful tail…..  A young whale shark was calling Pto. Escondido home for a few months, swimming lazily back and forth across the port, and one early evening he came within a few feet of TCM. The lighting was not good for photos that evening, but if you look carefully, you can see the white spots on his head that are characteristic of these very large mammals. This guy was small-ish, only about 14’ or 15’ long. 


 Whale shark feeding next to TCM


After the Loreto Fest, The Cat’s Meow was actually able to disengage from the mooring lines and to enjoy some of the nearby anchorages with friends on the boats Winsome and Spirit Quest. We anchored on the east side of Isla Carmen and also in the hook of Isla Coronados. Kayaking, diving, and getting together on our boats was the order of the day. Great relaxation. At that time of the year, the water was still too cool for Robin to enjoy diving, but we did refresh ourselves in the shallows of Isla Coronados, and we always enjoy walking the beach and finding little treasures.



                                 Kayaking at Isla Coronados                                                                                                                       Serenity


May 24th is a date we always celebrate, as that was the date The Cat’s Meow came up and stayed up after sinking up to the top deck. That was after we put her on a big hard rock, near Agua Verde. This year, as usual, friends from the cruising community came aboard TCM to help us remember and give thanks to lots of good people and hard work. We are still here….still floating….and enjoying it!!!



                                                                    Friends enjoying The Cat’s Meow, six years after she was saved ~ still cruisin’ after all these years…..  



                                                                                                                    Watching the slide show of the sinking…and saving…of TCM


And then it was almost the month of June…… so quickly. Where does the time go??  It was time to load ourselves + the cats + all kinds of goodies into the Bounder and bound toward the States. We had places to go and people to see. The trip from Puerto Escondido to the US border is over 700 miles on a curvy, narrow road, and in the RV we take our time, stopping for two nights along the way. We were quite surprised to see how colorful the desert was at this time of the year, along the (one and only) “highway”. Gorgeous golden flowers carpeted the desert, between all of the different types of cactus. It was truly awesome. 




We realized that we were entering the US, and crossing the border during the Memorial Day weekend – a very busy travel weekend. We didn’t have any troubles – except losing our frozen chicken and some oranges (oranges???) at the US side of the border. First stop was San Jose where we met bro’ Ken and his wife Rhonda, and doggie Penelope. Our two motorhomes caravanned that Sunday and Monday up to the Cassini Ranch campground on the Russian River, where some other folks met us for a long-awaited abalone dive and feast!! It was during an abalone dive weekend a few miles farther north, many years ago, when we first met, so this was even more of a special get-together for both of us. The weather was brisk, the water was typically cold (+/- 55 degrees F), but the abalones could not run fast enough from the three divers: Ken, Martin, and good old friend Larry. 



                                                             The beautiful cove we found for diving                                     Can you spot the three divers in all of the white water?                                   



                                                                                                            Martin and his limit of abs for the day                                                                    


Friends we had not seen in many a year were there, like Alan & Jan. Larry and wife Alysse as well as Robin’s long-time friend Joanne all came all the way from Hawaii !!  It was rather cool, temperature-wise, so cooking and eating outside in the campground was “brisk”, but we all handled it just fine   J.  Another surprise for both of us was seeing cruisers John & Debbie of the sailing vessel Lovely Reta at this campground!! It seems they add to their cruising kitty by working the place during the summers - - small world thing, again……   



                                                Joanne and her mushrooms                                                                                                         Feasting


The main reason we planned this Stateside trip at all was to attend the high school graduation for Martin’s youngest grandchild, Brianna, who lives in Oregon with her mom, Robin. The temperatures continued to be chilly and the rain continued to fall, but the afternoon of the graduation was purrrty nice for the BBQ at their home. The matriarch of the Hardy clan, Mom (Laura) Hardy, was with us and did her share of taking care of those home-made rhubarb pies!! The graduation itself was just right for the small community of Riddle, OR, with all 36 of the graduating class present and about 300 of their closest friends to completely fill the high school gymnasium!! We enjoyed the entire affair, and we are glad we made the trek to see the family and all of the activity. Congratulations, Brianna!!!  Now….get out there and start paying into Social Security!!!  (Just kidding…… J )  



            Brianna and best friend doin’ the walk                                                                The big moment                                                      Proud mom and daughter ~ A job well done!


During our travels back through Oregon and California, we were pleeeeezed to see ALL of the rivers and the lakes filled to very near capacity for the first time in many years. The water was rushing in those rivers. Shasta Lake was the fullest we have seen it – perhaps ever! When rain comes down to the earth in cold country, it turns to snow, and Mount Shasta was covered with it!!!


After stopping in Sacramento to see cruising friends Merry and Dave of the SV Air Ops – and doing some nice shopping  J  - and seeing Ken & Rhonda again in San Jose, we were headed south to the border once again, spewing money at every turn. It seems that every year, we have a long, long list of things we just cannot live without back at the boat in Mexico. Some of those items are boat parts, of course, and some are just things we want or think we need to make life even better – things like dark chocolate and certain Asian foods.  We loaded down the Bounder, stayed at some Elk’s Lodge camping parking lots along the way, and saw a few more good friends as we scooted through SoCal.


Finally, we were out of the chilling cold, foggy, rainy western coast of the US, and back in some welcome HEAT. The second night we spent on the Baja side of the border, we found a nice campground in a palm tree grove on a river, at San Ignacio. Whheewwwww….we were able to take a few breaths and relax. It all felt good. It was a good trip, we enjoyed seeing everyone and doing everything….and we were glad to be back in the Baja.


                                                                         Back in the Baja….. 


Please, join us again, soon, for more of our adventures south (and who knows…maybe north…) of the border, Cruising ~ The Cat’s Meow Style…….