Self Isolating

Monday , shop for bread and drinks
Tuesday, walk on malecon
Wednesday, walk to baseball court, run out of propane on tank 1 , buy bread
Thursday, walk through town.
Friday, day off.

Kathy asks for help on her laptop as she has started to compose her blog. She is running windows 8 on a Sony Vaio. This is hell. It’s been a long time since I had to deal with a Microsoft product, but within minutes I’m shouting at the screen because of its insane idea of how humans should work. I can honestly say that coming from an Apple perspective, this system is nuts. After trying to save her word file, its reporting errors, an investigation reveals it’s file formats that are not compatible, does Kathy fully understand this? All of the recent docs have been deleted, so why show them as available files? We have to reboot to get the wifi connection back, quite what the link between file saving and WiFi is I wonder. The circle spins, it says connecting, then the circle and text disappear. Does this mean we are connected? there’s no obvious way to tell, I hover over the icon and it gives me the option to connect, I click, it says you can’t connect, ‘would I like to run the troubleshooter’, No Thanks. Just pausing with my finger over the mousepad makes unrelated windows and new screens pop up with no obvious way to get rid of them. I close Word and can’t find anyway to restart it, I could go crazy if I had to use this for long. Now I’m thinking of the protests in Trafalgar square yesterday, they had placards blaming Bill Gates for the virus, and claiming he got the idea from a computer virus. I’m thinking bigger, I’m thinking the reason that the USA and the UK have their knickers in such a monumental twist is down to Bill Gates and Windows 8. If I went on twitter now I might well lash out at someone, it’s only because I’m back on my Macbook Air that I can calm down again. Rant over.

It’s a very hot day today, I have moved everything off the pushpit, mostly MOB (Man OverBoard) kit into the shade as it must be suffering from the UV.
We have been onboard now for 8 days since Kathy set foot into Manchester airport and the potentially dangerous covid world of international air travel. We have been self isolating on board, with me making the odd quick trip to the supermarket and a couple of walks in the evening all masked up and avoiding others. We plan to wait until 14 days have passed then we will head out and have a nice meal in one of the many restaurants now open.
I managed to find a use for my Pesos that were locked up in the online shopping site ‘Mercado Online’, I bought some H&S kit.

36.5c and 98% oxygen

It seems like the timing has worked out well as Liverpool is heading into serious lockdown along with the rest of the UK, with Brexit looming I’m quite happy to be watching how it pans out from a good distance.

Sunday 27th.
Another super hot day so we pop out to the Magote for a swim. It’s busy there and a local family are racing up and down the coast towing kids on some kind of board, I would say water skis, but I suspect they went out of fashion many years ago, along with my big floating windsurfer board.

Paul Collister.

Last week alone

Monday 14th September 2020
This week is about getting the boat ready for when Kathy arrives, so to avoid doing any cleaning I decide to head off to the chandlers and pickup supplies, I manage to purchase 40 metres of 5/8″ 3 strand nylon to use as warps to tie the boat up with. Later as the cleaning beckons, I spend time splicing large eyes into the rope which I have cut into 4 x 10m lengths. I need plenty of rope as if a hurricane does come this way, it’s all going to be about the rope. I replace all my braided ropes with the new lines and get my old ropes soaking in a slightly soapy bucket of warm fresh water. They can soak for a few days and hopefully will lose some of the salt that has made them quite rigid.

These colourful lines came with the boat and have done well, but I think their days are numbered.

It’s Kathy’s birthday today, and as a gentleman I wouldn’t dream of revealing her age, lets just say a lot of things are free for her now. We chat on the phone for a while, I had a present delivered to her by Amazon a few days ago, but the card and present I sent from La Paz hasn’t arrived yet. I sent it three months ago, and I think I now understand the look the postman gave me when I said I didn’t want the more expensive tracked service.
My government back home has just this minute passed a law (at least it passed first reading) that makes it legal to break the law. Whilst at the same time asking the public to snitch to the police on any neighbour that might be breaking the law by having more than 6 people in the garden. What strange times we live in.

I start cleaning up the boat, leaping into any distractions at the first opportunity. I’m not sure how, but I seem to have about 20 micro USB phone charger cables around, which is odd as I use the Apple connector.
In the evening I walk down the Malecon for some exercise and to see the Pre-Independence day celebrations. It’s lively tonight and there’s fireworks and a big formal do in the town square, which I just manage to miss.

Miercoles, Septiembre de 16th – Independence Day
Yes it’s independence day in Mexico.

“Mexico, once known as New Spain, was a colony harshly ruled by the kingdom of Spain for over 300 years. The native population was oppressed, farm land and personal wealth was confiscated and only Spaniards were allowed to hold political posts. Finally, a Catholic priest in the town of Delores named Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla had enough.
On September 16, 1810, he rang his church’s bell and delivered a speech now known as the Grito de Delores (Cry of Delores), demanding the end of Spanish rule. This started the brutal Mexican War of Independence, which lasted over a decade. On August 24, 1821, Spain withdrew and officially recognized Mexico as an independent country. Today, Father Costilla is known as the Father of Mexican Independence. Mexican Independence Day has been celebrated every year since that momentous day on September 16, 1810.”

So I celebrated by washing some clothes and tidying up. Later I walked down the Malecon with Arturo and practised some Spanish. he got jumpy when a very agitated couple passed us both frantically talking down the mobile phones. He overheard them talking about guns, and stopped and asked the next couple if something was going on. They told him there had just been a shootout in a bar nearby. We carried on to the main square which was busy with families and kids jumping in the coloured water jets that have just been installed.

Thursday 17th
More tidying up, the boats looking smart inside, but the varnish has just evaporated off the rub rails outside. So far all the flights are still on schedule.
In the evening Arturo buys me a birthday dinner at a local seafood restaurant, which is very tasty.

A bit tidier

Friday 18th
Up early and off to Mexico city, Kathy has left Manchester and started her journey. All these flights are going to require a lot of recycling to undo our carbon contribution. Besides the flights we are pretty good on the eco front, Kathy is vegan, I don’t eat meat, our only transport is bicycles and the boat, which I try to sail as much as possible. Also we generate most of our power from the solar panels.

About to board in a lovely sunny La Paz
La Paz, BCS from the air
The Government sponsored Marina in La Paz (fonatura), out of town, but very cheap
Flying over Los Frailes, I think (South up). Plumo reef is just visible for those in the know.
The chart plotter version of the actual. North up

It was a surprise to land at a cold and wet Mexico airport.

The hotel at Mexico is smart, but eerie with so few guests. Everyone at the airport and the hotel are very covid aware, masks everywhere along with gel and disinfectant foot mats. They ask me at the hotel check in desk if it’s my birthday, I had to think for a minute and confirm it is. They must have thought, poor old man, checking in to a hotel all alone on his birthday, which was fine as an hour later they sent up a complimentary birthday cake/dessert dish for me which the chef had prepared. Very nice, thank you NH Hotels T2 Mexico airport.

I get an early night and before I sleep I watch the news breaking of the Supreme court judge Ruth Ginsberg’s death. It’s a major story in the states, and I had been hoping she would survive a bit longer. She was a great lady from everything I have heard. Of course if the election race wasn’t already crazy, this throws another major spanner into the works. I have two english language tv stations on the hotel TV, this is a luxury for me, one is CNN (Anti Trump) and the other FOX news (Pro Trump) so flicking between the two I see the problem with the world so clearly, one channel stating it could be unlawful to delay the new appointment, and the other claiming the opposite. One saying the republicans are being incredibly hypocritical as they blocked the appointment under Obama, and the other saying it’s everyones duty to get this done quickly and there is no comparison with the past. At the same time back in the UK Boris has just announce the 2nd wave has arrived on our shores, as if the French or Belgians slipped it in overnight when nobody was looking. At the same time the top scientists on the subject are being ignored. What a crazy situation, whatever happened to reasoned logic and truth.

Saturday 19th
I’m up at 2am as flightradar24 says Kathy’s flight is nearly an hour early, and will land in 10 minutes. I’m confused as the map puts her over the gulf of Mexico which has to be 90 minutes away at least. Aeromexico has the flight delayed by 20 minutes on it’s arrivals page, so I go back to bed. At 3:30am I’m up again and sitting outside the arrivals area. Kathy appears after having her bags searched and we are finally reunited. It’s great to see her again.
We manage a couple of hours sleep back at the hotel and then it’s back to the terminal and a lot of flapping around while a paramedic interviews us for covid history and to take temperatures, I saw him using his oximeter on the passenger ahead of us. We had to fill out online questionnaires for the track and trace system. It all takes a little time, but nobody is arguing or complaining, it seems that a developing country like Mexico has a better grip on Covid than the UK, at least at the airport, it’s a different situation out in the public, especially in the city itself (CDMX). Kathy had to fill in paper forms at the UK on both her flights here and her round trip to Milan, but nobody collected the forms, so a bit pointless. Presumably the government know where everyone is, where they have been and who they have met anyway, and if not they could just ask Zuckerberg.

Waiting for the final flight to La Paz.

Back on the boat Kathy unpacks lots of goodies for me, from replacement credit cards, to USB dongles, a Raspberry PI hat, books and a decent supply of quality chocolate. She also brings me a present of a huge block of Parmesan cheese from Bobbie and Bruno in Milan, Thanks to you both, the European cheeses here are a little lacking.

Sunday 20th Sept
Kathy wakes me to point out that when she put the kettle on the mains power tripped, this happened when she first came out to the boat in Malaysia, causing some trouble in the marina as the whole pontoon lost its power and other boaters started shouting at each other, while we kept our heads down. The power supply is rated to allow the kettle/aircon/toaster to co-exist, but I think if the hot water heater is also on, then we could be pushing our 30A limit. Anyway, groggy eyed I crawled out of bed and onto the pontoon where I could see the cutout trips were intact and the power was good to the sockets, what was unmissable was the stink of electrical burning and the very charred and hot plug.

Inside the 30A shore power plug
A little overcooked I think.

I’m not really sure why this has happened, I thought everything is rated correctly, if the current was too high the breaker should have tripped, so I’m assuming the connection inside the plug or more likely the connection between the plug and socket pins was poor, anyway I cut the cable back and replaced the plug. Everything is back and running, and the plug isn’t getting hot as far as I can tell. Something to keep an eye on.
Back on board I cook poached eggs on ciabatta bread, something of a Sunday morning tradition we haven’t been able to do since Kathy left 8 months ago.
Kathy has a lazy day while she gets over her jetlag and I potter around doing odd jobs.

Paul Collister.

More heat

Monday 7th Sept -Friday 11th
Not a lot to report, My SDR radio arrived, it worked, I listened to the Harbourmaster, some AIS signals and the local FM Radio, not sure what to do with it now.
I spent some time cleaning up my WiFi and router setup, on this pontoon, the wired ethernet doesn’t work with WhatsApp video. Very strange as the pontoon WiFi does. Also my WiFi on the macbook is half the speed of that on my iPhone, 24mbs/50mbs.
I cycle the Malecon and tonight I walk half the length, I’m 20 minutes out when I realise I forgot my mask, but looking around I notice most people havent bothered so I push on, trying not to cough on anyone. 😉 I’m pleased but also a bit surprised just how many people are out, the bars are doing well and there are kids on go karts and many cyclists. The infection rate continues to rise, but the critical care beds at the hospital remain around 60% full. It could quickly get worse, but I’m beginning to think that social distancing outdoors with a mask is probably quite safe for most people. I’m hoping I will live long enough to be able to read the research on the virus that should emerge over the next 5-10 years once the data is really analysed. It should make for some interesting facts.
I’m not doing much at all right now, due to the crazy heat, saying that, we had a bit of cloud cover for a few mornings, and one almighty downpour on Tuesday.

My fishmonger

Saturday 12th
I head off to the town centre early as I heard the organic market had restarted in a new location, sadly I’m going to have to wait another few weeks before I can restock on Organic Pesto sauce as there was no sign of the market anywhere, sometime I wonder if the news on facebook isn’t always 100% right.
There’s some kind of a parade going on and the military have a band outside the Museum of Art.

The band, all with submachine guns on their backs.
This is a practice, they are made to repeat it many times in blistering heat.

Later that day I have a nice Raspado sitting at a cafe on the Malecon, this is made from Mango and shaved ice, it might even be healthy?


I spend Sunday trying to get my head around the various pronouns and conjugations in Spanish, it doesn’t help that I was rubbish at English Language at school and barely know the difference between an adverb and an adjective, let alone understand direct and indirect object pronouns. I’m still avoiding the subjunctive like the plague. Arturo was going to call over for a swim and then dinner but he got some work as a tour guide taking a stag party from Mexico City out to Isla Islote, and showing the guys how to snorkel with the sea lion colony.
No hurricanes this week, so I’m expecting some action in the next fortnight.
I’m flying to Mexico on Friday to collect Kathy, assuming all the flights are as planned. Hopefully she will start writing some more literate and entertaining blogs for you soon.

Paul Collister.

North of Loreto

I thought I was light of a few days on the post before last, I just found them in the draft bin. A bit late but just for the record….

Tuesday 18th August 2020
Around 11 we slip our mooring, and head down to the fuel dock. We had very strong winds in the night and I checked on the mooring line and the backup around 2AM to find that somehow our line to the strop had wrapped around the main buoy and had slipped down onto the barnacle encrusted chain. So with the line being taut due to the 25+ knot winds it was only a matter of time before it parted. I’m glad I had a backup line attached and I was able to attach a third line to the strop before releasing the trapped line altogether. I was a bit worried I might do something stupid and end up losing our mooring. We were just a few boat lengths upwind from Warren on his boat, but it all worked out and it was good to see the strop take the weight again. My problem was down to too much slack in the lines to the strop, in future I will make sure the strop is at the height of the mooring buoy so it can’t wrap around it.
Fueled up and with both water tanks refilled we head north for the small uninhabited island/nature reserve at Isla Coronados, just 15 miles north of Loreto. We get both sails up and have a pleasant trip. It’s a popular spot being so close and we were pleased that there was only one power boat moored there, albeit a huge Bill Gates type of vessel. We anchor in about 5 metres of water over a sandy bottom with excellent holding.
It’s baking hot so we are quick to jump in the water, which is a perfect temperature compared with Escondido. Arturo dives down to 3 metres and reports back that it’s wonderfully cool down there and I must try it. For the next hour we fool around taking turns to haul ourselves down the anchor chain decompressing on the way and trying not to breathe. I get about 3-4 metres down and I’m very pleased my ears are equalising, Arturo manages to bring some sand/shingle up from the bottom, at this point we thought we were in 5 metres of water but when we finally get back on board find we are in 8 metres. Arturo is made up to know he free dived down to 8 metres. I’m hoping to get him looking for Oyster pearls soon 😉 .
After dinner in the cockpit we sit watching the zillions of fish that are swimming around the boat making quite a racket.
We are sleeping in the cockpit and a lovely breeze builds and builds, the lightning starts and the winds finally peak around 35 knots after 2 AM. I’m normally a bit on edge in these circumstances, but the anchor is set well, we have great land cover from the wind unless it does an 180 degree turn, and the waves are very small. Also the mega yacht is a mile or more from us at the other end of the bay.

Wednesday 19th
Hurricane Genevieve is advancing towards the Baja Peninsula and will pass Cabo San Lucas today. There is a warning of flooding in the Cabo area, but it looks like it’s just going to brush the peninsula and miss us. La Paz will see some strong winds, but up here we won’t feel much. The chart below, courtesy of NOAA, shows the probability of high winds where we are as being low.

However the hurricane is spinning off lots of cloud cover our way which reduces the temperature a lot. We dinghy over to a small cove and beach at the north end of the bay and enjoy a great snorkel over a large reef. Most of the coral here looks to be dead, but a few healthy bits show up. I don’t know if the coral died a natural death, or if warming seas or some other man made action is the problem. Arturo drives the dinghy to the main beach and we notice many rocks just below the surface some distance from the shore and later a big RIB from the newly arrived mega yacht screams across the water and hits one of the rocks. I was watching it in amazement wondering if the helmsman knew the area really well or was a complete plonker. As his passengers all shrieked following two big bangs, I was expecting at least a broken prop, but no, he slowed down for a second, then got back up to full speed on a plane and continued towards the cove. My estimation of the helmsman was now firmly in the plonker category.
Back on board we dd a bit of Spanish practice, focussing on how to handle restaurants. A big red trimaran sailboat arrived, and I taught Arturo the finer points of making Pasta & Pesto, pointing out it was always going to be pretty rubbish if the Pasta wasn’t fresh and the pesto recently homemade, not to mention the perils of using a cheap Padano cheese instead of an authentic Parmesan. Still he liked it and it was filling. He ate tostadas with it which made me wonder if he might have missed some of my finer points.

La Paz

Monday 31st August.
Shopping and tidying up take most of the day up. I order a few bits on Amazon for Kathy to bring out with her and I order a SDR (Software defined Radio) for the PI computer to be delivered to the marina.

In theory this will add AIS, Weather Satellites, coastguard traffic and pretty much anything that happens in the VHF frequencies, to the ship’s computer arsenal.

But mostly it gives me something techie to play with for a while. These devices seem amazing, with an upconverter I will be able to receive HF fax broadcasts as well, so possibly I can leave it running 24/7 and have a rolling last few days of weather charts handy. There are plenty of areas around here where MF/HF (shortwave) radio is the only way to have any form of communication, unless you pay for an expensive SatPhone contract.
I take advantage of having an empty quarter berth, to stick my head through the engine access hatch in there. This is where I access the sea water filter and seacock for the engine cooling feed. Given the crazy growth on the hull outside , I’m expecting a very clogged filter, but it turns out to be remarkably clean, presumably because it’s made of brass or bronze?

I clean it up, but have to make a new sealing gasket for the top. Then I run up the engine and check everything still works. Omelette for dinner while I enjoy the new view from the cockpit.

I get the laundry done, now I can access my bed again. I have less success ordering some printer cartridges for my trusty cannon all in one pixma machine. It seems my printer and ink is only available in Malaysia, it’s a very different model name and number in Malaysia, Mexico and England. I’m sensing a scam, the three models all look the same as do their cartridges, so I take a gamble and decide I will try the Mexican ink for a different model printer, that looks identical and I find a good deal on ‘Mercado Libra’, a Mexican version of Amazon/eBay. I order it and hand over my credit card details, they take my money then ask for my Mexican Citizen number, which of course I don’t have. I can’t complete this form and there is no way out. I crash out and find I can’t cancel the order because I haven’t completed it. What a pain. I reorder using another cash method, where I get a code and at the local mini-supermarket I can pay cash with the code. That goes well, besides the unexpected £2 commision they add, checking back on my order process I find it went through and the order was placed only for the vendor to immediately cancel my order. Now I have no way for them to return my money. My experience with Mexican Web based IT systems so far has been a little disappointing.

I add a little extra functionality to the Solar Reporting system back in Latvia that I maintain, it takes three hours and I quite enjoy the work. Later I spend far too long on TikTok, mostly watching 30 second clips on carpentry or rebar bending in India, I hate their algorithm, but it has me hooked regardless.

I do some database cleanups for work, a bit of shopping, then a lot of Spanish. I’m just about to set off to the supermarket when I get three txt’s from the airline I’m using to meet Kathy and bring her back from Mexico, they say to get in touch as the flight has changed. I was hoping this wouldn’t happen, but it’s a pain. Putting this to one side I set off on my bike, I’m halfway to the supermarket when I realise I didn’t bring a bag, then as I reach the supermarket I notice I didn’t bring my wallet either. I think this flight thing has annoyed me more than I realised. Skipping the supermarket I carry on down to the beach, it’s a lovely evening and a nice walk along the beach, lots of people are out and I come across a class of keep fitters dancing around and generally looking a bit silly.

Later I work out Plan B is as good if not better than Plan A, and there’s also a Plan C that doesn’t cost too much so I’m not too bothered about the flights.

There’s nothing like an hour on a bad voip line to customer support in a remote country to get the day started. The airline tell me they don’t do refunds for Mexican flights, I argue and get passed to a supervisor, I stay on hold for 15 minutes then I’m cut off. Somewhere there’s a bit of code, Let T2 = 15*60, if !T2–, KerChing. I will call back tomorrow, they can’t offer me flights that work, so it’s either an unlikely refund, or credits against a future flight. Perhaps we can visit somewhere on the mainland for our Christmas shopping, or maybe fly to Tijuana for a William Burroughs style adventure weekend, perhaps not!.
Over at Aeromexico I get flights that were around the same time as the canceled Volaris flights, I also change the hotel as everything is now at T2, which makes life simpler, and safer. Spanish lessons are early as I’m off to brave the shops with Arturo at lunchtime.
Despite feeling tired we march through the heat to a bookshop and I buy some Mexican magazines, one is a bit like the economist and the other a more topical gossip rag. They will join the pile of Spanish reading material I am yet to get to. I try a famous and popular Mexican drink, Horchata. It’s an Agua Fresca.
“If you have never heard of agua frescas before, it literally translates to “fresh waters” and they are thirst-quenching, light non-alcoholic beverages made mostly with water sweetened with a little sugar and flavored with anything from fruit, to nuts, to flowers, to rice.” Thanks to for the details. It’s lovely, and possibly vegan.
On our way back we stop and discuss the architecture of the newly restored bandstand, It looks fine from a distance but close up we notice it’s a mishmash of Roman, Greek, Mexican,French and Fascist styles of architecture. I arrived quite liking it, but left rather disappointed.
We take in the only Vegan restaurant in town, I say restaurant, they only sell Tacos and Vegan cakes, but Arturo is keen to try a vegan beef taco, and he loves it. He’s also impressed with all the ‘right on’ posters proclaiming the evils of animal farming that adorn the walls. I’m more impressed with the lovely slim young lady who is running the show and serving us, but you just know in this kind of setup, she will have an ultra cool boyfriend, a guy who has saved sharks, whales and other animals from peril, worked on the Sea Shepherd, looks like a young Brad Pitt and is entirely charming in every way. He probably plays guitar and piano as well. Still the platano (banana) smoothie tastes great, and the Tacos are nice enough. I expect we will visit here a lot when Kathy arrives, for the food of course.

Not a lot to report, I dinghy over to the magote for a swim, Arturo comes along and later we practise my Spanish over dinner in the cockpit and I help him with some of the weirder english pronunciations. I’m a bit worried the USAians & Canadians will struggle with his strange english versions, I don’t notice it much, but I’m told it’s very obvious with phrases like “I’ve got to” pronounced “I’ve Gorra” over here.
I have just ordered the Pi Sense Hat so I can record temp/humidity/barometric pressure etc and log it into the database. This should be fun.

Paul Collister