Posted by: Zen | May 25, 2013

TPEP: Chien (Obstruction)

  There are times, when you lose, you win…


  6th line hexagram #39Do not resist difficulties or advance against them. By retreating and observing, you learn an important lesson. Then moving forward becomes easy.

 

We had a later start than I planned on, but it was no big deal. I wanted to have all the battery run things charged up, especially my iPad since it was a big part of my navigation package. However the power strip plug was pulled out, so I waited until things were topped off. We had a visit from our new friends, who we had breakfast with, they are from Las Vegas. They offered to help with anything. However we were in good shape. Also in line was a visit over to my Homie’s from Philly’s boat for some last minute counsel. After that we got everything set to go. Our Las Vegas friends from the yacht, S/V intmasea, came back to see us off, they ended up riding with us over to the fuel dock and gave us a send off from there. We waved to a few others as we motored out of the harbor and we were off. 
 


 
Once out on the bay, the wind was decent I cut the engine after a while and sailed. The wind was not at the best angle but I made do and just tacked as needed to get out of the Bay. After a while of that I thought it was best to use the motor again to make some headway through the pass of the island and the mainland, which had extended rocks out into the water. The motor was engaged so I could make it through this area while it was still light enough to see. As it was we just made it before dark. 
 
Now at this point the wind, died! So I had the choice of continueing to motor and get further out or drift where we were. If we were making another land fall I could have keep motoring. However we were not. We had limited fuel to get us across the ICZ area known for doldrums ( light to no winds) and then once in close to the Marquesas into the harbor. I thought it was prudent to drift for the night and hope for the wind spirit to bless us in the morning again. 
 
For the rest of the night we sat and drifted about .5 knots. A few times I got paranoid and used the motor to move further way from the lee shore rockface, which seemed to be inching toward us. Another time to move away from some ship lights that were approaching. I did this for the  full night, letting LZ sleep. I was pleased that the dodger was helpful in blocking some of the chill of the night and also that it was warmer weather than our trip down from Alameda.
 
The next day after noting we had only moved slightly from our spot at the edge of the open sea and there was still no wind, again I engaged the motor at a low speed just to perhaps find some wind. This I did for about an hour, then a small bit of wind came up, we crept along at about 1-1.5 knts. Sometimes less, for most of the day. The day was overcast and not a pleasant day for sailing. I also noticed a noise a tapping coming from one of the backstays. Investing I found the main-sail battens had come loose from the flapping all night of the sail and were banging on the backstay. I corrected that. Then noticed that the sail being full up with no wind also cause the loose battens to rub against the topping lift this cause some chaffing (item 1). After some consideration I decided it was not a big enough issue to require turning back. I could use the extra halyard to support the main if I needed and there was not that much strain on the topping lift, none when the sail was up. I did decided to keep just one reef in the sail from that point on, just to make sure not more rubbing would occur. I was able to get decent speed with a fair wind even with the sail reefed, which is where I generally keep it. It was just because the wind was so light I had it out full. Also my jib had plenty of room to roll out to about 110-115 to help with some push. So onward we went. The chaffing I dismissed since it did not look to bad.
 
One of the things we checked when leaving was my handheld SSB receiver. My friend from Philly was going to give me weather updates as we sailed to help with the journey. He did a test as we where leaving the bay, however it did not work, I could hear him on the VHF but not on the SSB. He said he would try again that morning. Again another failure (item 2), in addition to that I could barely get his VHS signal. This was not good, but, it was not a big deal, as the plan was a last minute thing anyway. I was however able to clearly hear broadcasts from s/v Intamasea. This proved helpful. I was able to get some updates about wind, and where there was some that day and part of the next. The problem was, it was not around me, I would have to travel further out west to find it. I was about at 116 degrees, the wind started at 117 degrees. There was also heavy winds coming from the north the following day and for several days ( item 3), reported 25 and higher knots, which could give us a push. However we had to get there to that area. On the VHF there was reports of gale wind in the north also, which would be moving south. Not coming to our area but, the effects of that would be those 25 and higher winds. I had seen that before leaving and planned to be south of them and ride just on the eastern edge of the increasing wind.  In our current position there was only calm.
 
We crept along, and finally just drifted. I tried for the rest of the day to catch some wind and stay heading in the right direction. Once in a while some wind would come, as soon as sails were adjusted to ride it, it would change direction, this went on for the rest of the day (item 4).  
 
During one of the times the wind was playing with us two other things came up. LZ had wanted to use the salt water faucet 
I had checked it when I installed it but not since then. LZ had wanted to check it, but not in the marina, we never made the time to go out on the bay to check. So I thinking it was ok, and just opened the sea valve for use. I pumped it a few times, it worked. A short while later LZ says, the pump is leaking. Salt water leaking in the boat demands immediate attention. I checked, it was leaking, so I turned off the sea cock, again. Another system failure (item 5). Oh well, not a major draw back. We drifted on.
 
Next thing, I notice is a large tanker off a ways from us, and thought hmmmmmm, how come my new AIS radio did not warn me. I investigated, and reset everything. Including re-reading the manual. As it turns out I mis-read  things and a GPS hook up is not an option, it is needed. No wonder I, with our little floating cork was not getting any signals. I thought it was just there had been no boats in the area when I did the install and checks. Doh!! Yet another system down ( item 6). I figured, oh well, it was something I just got at the last-minute anyway and had not originally planned on having it, my ship plan is for a watch anyway, every 15 to 20 min a look around. Unlike Nishi-san who just sets his AIS and goes to sleep, I prefer a lookout, there are things out there that have no AIS! Like I have no radar….we drifted on as the wind played hide and seek.
 
That evening I tied the wheel in place as there was no forward movement to use the autopilot, which I thought was acting up anyway. The couple of times it was used, it cut off, while under power ( item 7). This was not a good thing. However since I had rigged up a tiller tending rope system, which was working. I figured I would keep going, only using the auto pilot for short times and using the tying system as much as possible, with sail adjustments…and so we drifted through the night.
 
I mentioned to LZ that if there was no wind tomorrow, we should consider going back and rethinking things. We could not afford the gas to keep moving around looking for wind and motoring to stay offshore enough to not end up on the rocks ( item 8), like a Margaritta…she was not pleased.
 
I slept some that night and put LZ on a watch. She bundled up and did a late shift. I was glad I installed the LED anchoring light, that along with the two solar lights made sitting in the dark of night not so bad. When it was my turn on watch I put cushions on the cockpit floor and sat there, napping on and off, getting up and down checking for objects we did not want to encounter.
 
Day 3
 
Early in the morning just at dawn I picked up some wind. We moved some. I moved the sails in and out trying to find a good position. Then I remembered Captain Mary adjusting the sail sliders when I noticed the jib shape seem not effective. Too much air was being bled off the top. I adjusted the slider and the ZenCat leaped forward. We went up to 4-5 knots. I was joyful. I had been thinking this is a good time to learn about the ZenCat more intimately what she liked and did not. This was a big plus. Now with some wind and a better trimmed sail we went onward. Even though it was yet another very overcast day, which made me feel uneasy, I felt I was sailing in sunshine, since we were now moving. 
 
 
I heard from my friend on s/v Intamasea about wind conditions, but he could not hear me reply. Anyway I sailed on to the wind location. As I crossed into the zone of 117 degrees w. the wind held steady, and the waves increased. This was good and this was bad. The wind was now on our nose and the waves increased and were sharp. I changed my angle of approach as not to just drop off the waves and bury the bow, which could have been a big problem. Since I was already concerned about being over weight and the bow being heavier than before. Therefore I took extra caution on my wave approach. We sailed on. The wave height increased and I increased my angle ( item 9). A few times  I bore off too much and had an unpleasant thought of being broadsided by a surprisingly large wave. The ZenCat rode it out with not problem. In the mean time lessons and thoughts from Kung Fu waved through my mind on dealing with power and flowing. I decided to change course and put the waves on my stern quarter. The ride smooth out remarkably. I thought, yeah, the lessons, teachings, wisdom are quite true. What else can I apply from learned lessons, training here?
 
I gave some thought to the approaching higher winds over the next hours and days. I thought about my sail plan. I considered heading more south than southwest and going with the flow of the energy. Further south was an anchorage I could take shelter and a rest in if needed. There were however several issues with this plan. 1. I could only go so far SouthEast before running out of room, the rocky shore was much stronger than me or the Zenamaran (item 10). 2. If I sailed to the South I would be abeam to the increasing sharp waves (item 11). 3. The anchorage was still 250 plus miles South of our position (item 12)…
 
The alternative, fight this for the next two days going windward and angling to the waves as much as possible, mostly on my own as LZ though having the heart to do it, did not have the strength or skill for long periods of this…or
Remember Ling Sisook’s, words in doing Tai Chi push hands “sometimes when you lose, you win”  and turn around and go back the 30 miles to the marina, do the added up repairs, adjustments, review the lessons learned and re-start another day. The Tao seemed to be saying in so many soundless words, this is not the time to go forward.
 
 
LZ would not be happy turning around, she saw it as losing face.
I thought it was the wise choice.
The i-Ching said: Chien.
 
I told the crew we were heading back to base. 
…………….
Seas calmed approaching the bay
Setting spring sun peeked through the clouds
We lost, yet we won.
Posted by: Zen | May 18, 2013

TPEP: uno pone y Dios dispone.

  Man plans and Heaven ordains

 

We were set to leave a couple of days ago. I went to the hotel to respond to nature and on the way back to the boat I received another call of nature. This one more of a spirit nature. It said , go into the internet office and use the computer. So I did. Figuring ok, it is faster, sure. I logged on a weather site and figured to do some long-range weather searching. While doing that I went to my usual site I visit, but got a different screen view from what I see on my iPad or laptop. I followed it anyway to seek what I wanted and came across a dark red spot, which means, high wind! I investigate further and found this was the beginning of a typhoon! It gave the coordinates and some other info. I did not think it was a problem but I figured to investigate more. I inquired of a friend what he thought and was told. If it was me I would not go! If it continues as it is, it will cross your path. 
 
So much for leaving, everything was put on hold and we went on hurricane watch. It grew over the next 24 hrs, and was given a name and it ‘s path would have intercepted our. 48 hrs or so, it started losing steam and was down graded over the name day and even more so . Now by the time it reached the interception point, Alvin as it is called would have been a tropical depression, still with high wave preceding it. Not deadly but an unpleasant ride. 
 
We are currently still in the marina, enjoying the comfort of a few more days. Resting, eating, swimming, jacuzzi, blogging and stuff. All the while checking, and re-plotting, or path and resetting our mental mind for the passage. Perhaps that is the most difficult. A Zen master friend said. Restarting after a long stillness is like the heaviest anchor on your back.
 
We were introduced to another mixed couple yesterday, by the harbor master. Because they also plan on attending the PPJ, however next year. He is American, and wants to leave the States badly. she is Chinese from Singapore and wants to go home. This is both of their first sailing trip. They will spend the year here , preparing. They invited us over to their boat whilst we are still here. However it is not as easy as that to just walk over to another dock. So unless we meet off the dock, we will not meet again, that I can see. The wife was quite pleased to meet LZ, another Asian who is out there.
 
 
The hotel has started breakfast lunch buffets during the week now instead of just ones on the weekend. Those are 20.00 ea. the weekday ones are about 20.00 for two people. With our marina discount it is quite reasonable. We had brunch there today, and were quite pleased with the variety and the service. Anyway, it was nice. We may have one more meal at the hotel maybe tomorrow, Saturday night since we plan on leaving Sunday. I will take a dip in the pool and sit in the hot tube, before a nice shower. 
 
 
 
 
Then an early morning practice and meditation/ prayer session on the beach before we take off…3rd time is the charm…Yosh!
Posted by: Zen | May 10, 2013

TPEP: the Continuum

  
In a few days time, the journey continues.  We are in a better space, mentally and physically, meaning ready(er) than before. However am I ready… hmmm do not know, sometimes. There are still things I am unsure of. Also things that are needed. Still there are things that are in place enough that it is possible. Including company if we can make the rendezvous. At least for part of the trip. Like what we had coming down the Cal coast. The weather is better, that is a plus, we have some miles of travel under our hull, that is a plus. Still I am a bit nervous, which is good. Nervous makes one alert. When facing the power of nature one needs to be alert, yet calm, and respectful.
 
 

 

 
It has been an interesting layover here, part of me wants it to continue, part wants to continue on to the goal, I want to be in Japan and settling in to the new life. Training, playing, working, etc. Ensenada feels safe, and comfortable, yet safe is an illusion, I need to face that by moving on to the next port. Our next challenge is traveling down the coast of Mexico. It will be a week of travel day and night, little sleep and more than a degree of un-comfortableness. Yet we have faced that already in small bits.   Hopefully reality will be less than the imagination and the Force with be with us. 
 
Inside great joy there is sadness. A Zen master said this to me once, he said his teacher said it to him. I may have said this before anyway,  The joy of this passages contains sadness. Kind of like eating of the fruit of the tree of knowladge. Faceing the truth of my expectations about those I call friends. If there is one thing this passage has brought about is the clearing of my sight concerning that. Even though I think have little expectations, I still have enough that they, my expectations, get to me. I guess it is the way of man to get lost in/on what we think is happening/suppose/want to be happening, than what is really happening.
 

 

 
Time is slipping away, some days I feel more ready than others, not so much in things to do, but mentally. The weather also comes into play. Cloudy, rainy, overcast. Not so ready, sunny, more ready. It is all natural.
 

 

It is now several days later than when I first started writing this post. We will now be traveling alone. A change of plans. I consulted with  a very experienced sailing friend and it was suggested that we make our path, plans based on our boat and crew and not on that of another, boat, crew, style of sailing. In Martial arts we would call that, having your opponent fight on your terms, not you fight on his/theirs. I am sure there is something in Sun Tzu Art of War about that.  It was also said that traveling down the Baja is more taxing than being on the open sea. It is the land masses that cause funky winds. With steady winds we can get into a routine and cover sea ground. 
 
One thing , well one of many things learned in Marital Arts is to listen to elders, the voice of experience. Even though I have some Bay experience with challenging conditions,  a captain lic, teaching certificates, I am still a beginner. In Zen keeping a beginner’s mind is the key to growth. In this case not just to growth , but the difference between a pleasant sail and a miserable one, life and death. There was a saying when I was a youth, “hard heads, make for soft behinds!”
 

 

 
For the most part as far as the boat, we are ready. The ZenCat has been cleaned inside and out ( Buddhist way of purifying, bringing good fortune,) auto steering system and backups are in place. We have emergency items, we have water 35-40 gals. Not as much as I would like, but with wise usage enough. We have a rain catching system if able, and a handheld watermaker that will keep us alive. 
 
 

 

I am still waiting for our bottom cleaners to show up and I just need to hook up a second battery charger which I have, and need to wire in. It is mostly all mental prep now. I am feeling much less anxious now about the trip than I was a week ago. Going down the coast rushing, then back up the other side to meet the other boats, then going down part of the coast…again, did not really sit well with me. Even though now going alone, it feels better. Feeling better is important. Now it is just a matter of picking the right day for conditions to start, then trusting the Tao. There is an old church song I still recall from childhood. The main words are. “We have come this far by faith, leaning on the Lord…”
 

 

It is good now to spend some time relaxing. Currently I am on the deck writing and Skyping. Nice weather, fair winds, sunny, very pleasant here at the marina. 
 
 

 

We have also been taking advantage of the facilities, using the Jacuzzi, playing table tennis, billiards, great showers here. No salt in the water like at the other marina, so one feels clean afterwards. We had breakfast at the hotel, (discounted,) last Sunday. We may do lunch there over some point of this weekend, with our friends. I have yet to use the swimming pool , but I may over the weekend , for the Jacuzzi, love that. Like a Japanese bath!
 

 

I met another mixed couple ( Black n White) who sail a bit. I was surprised to hear that even here in Mexico they had some minor issues with “KKK” types. Here at this marina it is very Stateside-ish, retired good ole boys with big yachts reside here or dock here. Not the local Mexican feel of Baja Naval. No matter, they can live in stupid if they wish, just do not mess with us, I will not mess with them.  I have not run into any issues personally, but I keep to myself, unless approached. This couple has been here for I believe 10 yrs., they said so they have seen more. It is a big contrast to what LZ says about feeling totally at home and comfortable in Ensenada. That is Ensenada and local turf , where as here feels like San Diego and those Klan types always think they own where they live, forgetting they came, or their parents came from someplace else. 
 
Ok, that is it for the local news. The next post maybe from the Marquesas in the South Pacific…it should take us about 35 days…Yosh!
 

Our Facebook updates are here, telling when we left and perhaps the route: facebook.com/thepacificecopassage

 
This should be the weblink to track us:
Posted by: Zen | May 1, 2013

TPEP: Moving on up

 “Well we’re moving on up…to the east side…to a deluxe apartment in the sky…moving on up…” Remember that show, the Jefferesons.

Finally after almost three months, we left central Ensenada. It was interesting being there and a little sad to leave. The local flavor was nice, really a feeling of being in Mexico. The new marina is like going up town. It is attached to a hotel, two swimming pools, sauna, jacuzzi, pool room, gym, etc etc. I had the theme song from the Jefferson playing in my head as we approached the entrance. Really the whole trip over.
 

 

 
Our dodger finally got finished on the front and side, so now we have some protection , at least on three sides. This is helpful, even if it is no longer winter. However it is still cool. The canvas master did a good job considering what he had to work with, he took care in the construction. The materials are not the best but that is my fault in the purchase not his. Anyway it works. He finished the job the morning of the day we left.
 

 

 
I waited around until later afternoon, in hopes the wind would die down a bit so I could get out of the slip and harbor without to much struggle. The wind did ease a bit, but I took some time to set up and plan on our exit. Seeing how the wind would affect the boat and it handled. He was a bit unnerving moving again after being settled for so long without going out at all. Once out of the slip and harbor, it was an easy motor over to the new marina. I turned to the auto pilot to check its operation. It worked smoothly, as did the dodger. It was a pleasant day and a fairly short trip up the bay. It would have been nice to sail however it was all up wind and I wanted to get settled before the office closed and it got dark.
 

 

 
Friends were waiting for us when we arrived. That was kind of nice. Not like going into a strange place, alone. The only down side is our slip entrance is small, narrow. Lucky there is no boat next to us so I could make the turn in. I will check with the marina office tomorrow about getting moved to a wider fairway. Hopefully that can be done for the same price since we are only staying for part of the time we are paying for. That way we can get out easier to do some sea trials. Another small down side is the loooong walk to the bath facilities. 
 

 

 
Our other friend Shige-san arrived today, from San Diego. I came out to practice just as he was heading to the office to check in. Shortly after LZ got it together to come out, our other friends from S/V Destiny came out also heading for the office. We went up together.
 
 

 

 
After we all took care of  our individual business, I continued my walk about to locate a space for morning Tai Chi. I located a nice open space overlooking the marina, yet somewhat hidden in plain sight. Now I have three spots which will work well over the next two weeks.
 
 
 
 

 

 
The plan while we are here is to re-pack the boat, clean, get some practice time on the water in, rest, relax, lounge, prepare, meditate, train plan and get some advice. Once we leave here it will be spartan living for a while. And we will be out of touch for about 7-10 days. I am hopeful we can be in harmony with Nature and have the blessings of the Force on our travel. So far the Universe has smiled on us.
 
 
Posted by: Zen | April 28, 2013

TPEP: The good, bad and ugly

 
As time moves on with our extended visit to Ensenada, and draws to an end, the time awareness increases. Things still needed to be done, plans made, routes, times, supplies, etc, etc. 
 
The ZenCat’s canvas is almost finished. It was supposed to be finished today ( Sat), and as I write I have been waiting for the canvas master show up. I have been waiting for 1.5hrs. He was here yesterday and did some work and just needed to do some touch up sewing he said. Sigh. Oh well. Maybe there was a problem and he could not call…things happen.  There is still Monday. I told him we would still be here Monday morning…so we will see. I am looking forward to having that done.
 

   

Nishi-san our friend from Japan we met in Alameda last year, finally made it down to Ensenada. He only stayed for a short while. We showed him around, went out to eat, we introduced him to some of our friends and acquaintances and then he took off. He helped me a bit with some items and gave me advice on anchoring. He has an amazing amount of knowledge. We went to visit a couple of marinas. At one of them was the guy who wanted to follow along with Nishi-san to French Poly. By fate we ran into him right away! I introduced him to Nishi-san. Without even a polite greeting, no hello, nice to meet you, how was your sail, nothing, right away he asked to go with him to the Marquesas. His only thought, I need this from you! How rude! Not the way to make a good impression dealing with Japanese. No manners! He did not make a good impression with Nishi-san and pissed me off with the pushy, all about me attitude and lack of manners. Nishi-san left that evening after we had dinner, so Mr Pushy did not have a chance to force himself on him. It did make it clear, this is not a person I need to have contact with or try to be friends. This is perhaps why the Tao arranged such a quick meeting and the timing, to open my eyes. 
 
If things go as planned it should take us about 25 days to reach the first island once we leave the mainland. Since we plan to go down the coast instead of direct from here, we will not need to take as much water. I was looking at about 45 days if we went direct. 25 -30 days is more manageable as far as food and water supplies. Water needs will be about a gal per day. Also it gives us a chance to re-adjust to sailing and doing over-nighters before making the big jump.
 
I will be doing sea trials and systems check over the next upcoming week. Re-organizing the way things are stored onboard, for the next leg. I have made some good changes since coming here three months ago, now it is just refining them and us. Things are never complete on a boat, just like living there is always some sail adjustment, trim to do, modification to make.
 
People on the way:
 

 

 
A new friend of our says cruising is about the people you met along the way. Since we started we have made a couple of new people we could call friends. There have been a lot of nice people we have encountered. Still only a few that are the hanging out with kind. My Homie from Philly and his girl friend are one. He has been very very helpful. We have a good time eating and hanging out with them. We met Captain Ron, the only “brotha” I have encountered since being out here. 
Nice guy. Owns an Islander 36, so we are former I-36 club mates, as well as working at one time for the same sailing school. We had only met very briefly before this at the Blue Pelican. So he counts as someone meeting while “out there” and not a pre-sail friend, like the Wind Charmer crew, and Nishi-san and company. There have been some nice people encountered at some of the stops, they are indeed, the ships passing in the night classification. It will be interesting to see who is out there once we are in the islands.
 
And that is it for the local news. The good, bad and ugly.
Posted by: Zen | April 22, 2013

TPEP: This-n-that, Dat-n-Dis

 
On the way down the coast we did not belong to an offical brick house yacht club. We are members of BAMA, The Bay Area Multihull Assoc. While we are a recognized assoc with membership in a major Yacht Club association, we do not have the name Yacht Club in the name.  As far as reciprocals this was only an issue at one place. Marina Del Rey Yacht ( nose in the air) Club. They would not let us in because of that. On our trip back to the Land of the Free, blah blah, evil Monsanto, one of my mails to pick up was my official membership package from Mieco Beach Yacht Club. 
We are now official Yacht Club Memebers, La Di Da blah blah. 
 
 
 

 

Another piece of waited for mail was a new Eco flag from Japan. I was told this is the last and only one left in stock. A gift to me. I guess some do care that we are trying to making a statement with our presence, even if small.
 
 
 
 
We are kickn’t today after a busy day of here n there running yesterday. LZ wanted to finish up her reports for the Japan Mag. So today, I get to rest mostly, no driving Miss Daisy. So for now, it is some blogging, Latin Jazz on the internet, some reading, then a little boat stuff, maybe slip some musical instrument connection in there somewhere, later this PM

 

Mexico kind of grows on you. A few days ago we went to a Local Art show in a small local museum. Not really my kind of Art, but interesting, fot my camera. It was interesting to feel the vibes of Artsy people again. Reminds me of how much I miss doing ceramics and the sharing of other student’s Chi in class/studio. Also going to misc open studios around the Bay. Visual Arts engery is different from, musical Art Energy. Both are good, but for shore ( a lil sailing/water related visual verbal pun) different. Kind of like “Leo” fire Chi is different from “Aries” fire Chi, but they mix easily and often, being the same nature.
Anyway I digress. There are some interesting and gifted artist here in Mexico.
 
 
 
I came across these sculptures on my bike ride back from visiting a  canvas guy to do some work on the ZenCat. Finally now since I have the material, I can have the side and front finshed on the dodger. I am hopeful it will be finished before we need to leave. 
 
 
Over all Ensenada is a comfortable place, If not for heading for Japan I could stay here. Make a few adjustments and setup a comfortable life. LZ and I have spoken if life changes to a different path once we are done with our family giri in Japan, Ensenada could be a place to consider returning to live. Yet, every place (mostly) is nice when you are visiting, and we will be older then…anyway something to keep on the back of the mind, considerign Japan is having issues, with earthquakes, radiation, air pollution from China, bomb threats from Korea…jheez!
 
 
 
Some of the last thing on the agenda for Ensenada was a visit to wine country. LZ had to do several write ups for her Japan Mag contract. We visited several, some on pare with Northern Ca, others very small and family run. Although there are many small family wineries in NorCal as well. So other than the location of some of them were as in being back in NorCal.
 
 
 
Some of the managers, help, were very helpful. One even let us in after he had closed and gave us a private wine tasting . 
 
 
 
 
 
There were several that needed to have appointment made, we did, and were the only ones on the small tour. Another there were two gents from Cal also with us on the Pleasant Tour. 
 
 
 
The wines for the most part were blends of wines, not just a pure grape. At least for the Red. There was one winery that gave us a taste from two diferent wines. Both had the same blend and aging. But tasted different. One group of grapes were grow at low level. The other group was grown in the mountians. Surprising how different the taste. 
 

The wineries were pleasant, but the highlight for me, since I was driving and did not sample much wine, was the Pizza place. We…I had to drive via some very old, dirt roads, up in the mtn foots hills. 

 
 
 
Then on to what looked like someone’s huge yard, then up the hill to the house. It was packed with people, still some chairs open but there were a lot of folks. 
 
 
 
 
Even still more came as we had our off the hook good pizza. Not just good… For Mexico… Just Good for anywhere!
 
As far as the trip , the next step is getting closer. Getting the canvas done will be a relief, even though it is not critcal to have. I will make sometimes life more comfortable. That is a plus for a journey of this size for us. As we are new to this, a mental lift from small comforts is a biggie for mental mind set. For me mind training now takes on a larger, even a more traditional perspective.
 
 
 The longer Meditations, the daily Tai Chi/Chi Gong/Hsing Yi, help to train, calm and focus the mind. I have been getting some Kyudo time in af’er the other practices are done. Not really a lot. Just a few shots with a Gomuyumi doing full Tai Hai.
 
 
 This is also a good mind balance. Focused, relaxed, calm, starp, clear, of mind, yet no mind. This is needed for “Zen” Sailing. I know that just Sailing is not enough for the undertaking at hand, with this distance, and facing the powers of Nature and the Ocean. We maybe blessed with a boring passage, still there are the times of illusions of aloneness, of trials with people unlike the same mind as one’s self or travel companions. As the Buddhist thought goes, it is all in the mind, how we perceive it, is how it is, at least for us.  This were the cross training shows itself, Kung Fu training balanced with Chan. Staying calm, clear, focused, mindful, yet mindless, under combat. In Kyudo, since there is no one to fight the final outcome is not shown by death or amount of pain by another it is shown in the arrow. Did it hit, how did it fly, how did it strike and where.  No, life or death grips here. But still a battle, a struggle, that is overcome, not just with technical skill, but  attunement. In a sense Sailing brings it back full circle to combat in Kung Fu, life-n-death. Sail well, you live, sail badly, you die or get hurt.   
Posted by: Zen | April 19, 2013

TPEP: a run for the border

 

There was a one time a TV commercial from a Taco fast food place, “run for the border” was their slogan, making a late night or whenever run, for their Mexican fast food. One could fill up their fuel/food level. Kind of like what needed to do, which meant a “run” for the Mexican Border as well. Weds morning at o-dark thirty LZ and I walked over to the car rental to  pickup our vehicle for a trip back state side. Once we got the car pickup sorted out, since the guy there was not on top of things and the rental place was basically closed being it was 5:30 am, he just worked for the hotel night as a night clerk, with filling in on the car stuff when
someone dropped off or picked up.
We stopped by and pickup our my homie and his woman since they wanted a ride with us to pickup their car in San Diego. It was a nice ride along the beach route, Hwy 1 from Ensenada to Tijuana. 
 
 
It was a toll road. The restrooms were amazing, clean , new, with armed guards at each station.
One felt safe in a weird sort of way. There were three tolls of $2.55 ea before we reached the border. It was about 1.5 ride to reach the border. Then everything slowed to a crawl getting up to the border crossing and across. The lines were long, and moved slow. There were many many many locals the selling stuff and services from car to car, some with portable stands of food, fruit and phone, mp3 player charger cords, in between the cars slowly rolling along. Some of the folks were pretty nice, we joked with a few. What they really need is a toilet concession stand, some kind of roll along porta potti, that would make someone some money money money.
 
Once finally across the border and back in the Land of the Free, random road checks and Monsanto, things went pretty smooth. We did our major shopping, going from one place to another gather stuff we needed. Stop at the post office for mailing, the bank, over friend’s houses. Stock up on some wine, snacks, vits, a few misc parts. 
 
Half way between San Diego and LA we went through an US Border patrol block, where we were questioned on who , where, etc. LZ was shocked, that nowhere near the border we are stopped and questioned like that. I thought we were in America she says, can they do that? Yes I said, and no, they can stop us but, we did not have to answer, but it is faster and easier to do so. They may not have even questioned us, but we are driving a car with Mexican plates…
 
One of the things about cruising, it is not all about some exotic place and smooth sailing, but about restocking, what to buy, where to store, what is the cost, do we have enough money (at least for us). 
This is our second of such a large stock up. The last, oddly enough was in the same area we just left. Seal Beach/Long Beach. It was nice that I already knew where the stores we needed where located. This time it was more stuff and a longer haul back to the boat. We will still need a few small things before heading off to the French Poly, those can be dealt within Mexico.   
 
Anyway we made all of our planned stops except one. A trip to a Japanese Market. There was just not enough time. That is the one thing we had to blow off doing. Our last stop was at a Kyudo friend’s house to drop off some cuban cigars from Mexico as a gift, along with some Hibiscus flowers for tea.
 
Then it was back on the road for Mexico. It was a thankfully quiet four-hour drive, in the early darkness of the waxing hours of Thursday. Back to Ensenada. LZ was shocked to find how easy it was to cross the border going into Mexico. We just got wave through and were on our way. We arrived back at the Zenamaran around 2:00 am. After the unload of two dock carts full of stuff, returned the rental, putting a few things away. I finally crashed into bed about 5:00 am., knackered, as my bud, Maria the Brit would say. It was a worthwhile trip. However it did feel a bit strange being back in the States, then turning around and heading back to Mexico and our home on the ZenCat.
Posted by: Zen | April 14, 2013

TPEP: Time …

TPEP:
Time waits for no one
Silent Sakura petals softly fall under foot
Still we float and wait.
 
It is April, spring is here, and some days it really feels like that. Other days not so much. Foggy, chilly in the morning. The Sakura has already covered the ground in Japan.The winds have picked up here , but that maybe due to the wierd weather north of us, in the
Land of the Free, random road checks and Monsanto foods. 
 
 
With the coming of spring, the pace is needed to increase for our next leg to French Poly, the big jump. I was hopeful our friends would be traveling across the Puddle with us. However, that is not going to happen. He is willing, but she has family separation concerns. There is another couple who are going pretty much the same route as us, with the same timing and travel speed, even all the way to Asia, however, they do not want to travel with us. Not that they have come out and said that, but…under circumstances, sometime non-words speak louder, than words. Yet, they do want me to introduce them to a friend of ours from Japan who is going part of the way so they can tag along with him, which was clearly stated. Maybe it is just me but sounds pretty insulting, that with figuring out I only hear from them when they are in need, says how this relationship stands. I have a Captians lic, with many years of teaching sailing under my belt on the SF bay, which is known for not being a light weight sailing grounds. They have a year of self taught sailing. Maybe it is just my ego. However LZ says she got those seperation feelings before me, and did not say anything because I was, she thought, close to them. So yeah, it is not just me tripping.
 
One may wonder why we do not sail with our friend from Japan who the couple want to meet, we could. Although, he has his own plans, direction, and timing and we do not want to slow him down. As loaded as we are and sailing with caution we will not be making speedy head way. So do not want to be a burden or have him feel responsible. There will come a time when we will make a point of connecting, instead of the maybe we will see you out there attitude. There is more to this than what I am stating, but yeah, it is bugging me. I have not got my Zen release/non-attachment mind around this yet. Anyway…
 
We will be making a short trip back to the Land of the Free this up coming week. We need supplies, a mail pickup, and some misc mailing out of some items. Also it is good to get LZ’s Passport re-stamped for the States, since we are not planning a Hawaii stop now. With the items from the States we will pick up and some other items ordered from the good folks at Blue Pelican Marine, it will be like another mini Christmas around here.
 
 
I have the autopilot thing figured out now, I believe. My solar system is not up the task of fully keeping up with the power consumption, so, I will need to run my Honda generator every couple of days seems like to keep the batteries topped up. At least that what is seems like from here. On the other hand, I have been told when we are in an area of better Sun the panels will work better. Still I can foresee some hand steering involved in this. Treating Musashi, as a shift taker, not as hand-solo.
 
 
The plan is to leave end of April or mid-May at the latest. Of course there is the saying “Man plans, Heaven ordains” My other friend, and Homie from Philly, who is sea wise, does not see the seas as calming yet. He says it seems like a late winter still for the most part. The weather patterns are off he says. He has been a weather watcher for awhile having had a run at being a delivery Captain. He thinks it will be a late hurricane season starts as the waters are still cold. That with heavy winds and high seas still building off shore, it is better to hold off for a while in a small ship such as we and him have. I am all for caution of travel. Better late to arrive than never.
 
 
 
Posted by: Zen | April 5, 2013

TPEP: Japansenada

 

Part 1

LZ had seen a Japanese restaurant that served Tacos. She wanted to try it since she is doing research for articles she is doing for a Japanese Magazine on Ensenada. I had also seen this place and told her the chef looked Asian. The frist time we went there they were just opening and were not ready with food yet. We blew that trip off and went someplace else. Thinking, hmmm must be more Mexican than Japanese,  say they open at 1:00 Japanese would be Open AT 1:00, instead of not opening, but telling people to come back or wait 30 min. So we went to a nice Mexican Place and had very tasty Smoked Marlin Burritos.
 
Later we decided to give the place another try since we were craving Japanese food. The other two places in town did not seem appealing. We went to the little corner shop again this time they were open. We sat inside at the counter and checked out the menu. We thought and said in Japanese, looks a little high-priced, ne! We stayed and ordered. The woman who took our order spoke Spanish and some English.
 
 
After we placed our order we chatted a bit to ourselves and with the woman, as it turns out she is the wife of the owner, who is the cook and is Japanese…from Osaka! We were shocked, even more so when the woman spoke in Japanese. She is Mexican and he is Japanese , they both spoke Spanish and Japanese! He had been in the states for a number of years, before moving to Ensenada. We were a little embarrassed later when recalling we said the place was on the expensive side. Not a lot but more than the local stands and shops. Which the owner himself said it was, because blah blah blah. 
 
 
Anyway, the food was Oishi! They were both very nice and we chatted a bit. The Sensei gave LZ a huge size special sushi.
He also gave us a free sample of something we had never had. Tempura cooked pumpkin flowers. OMG! oishii. They melted in your mouth after the right amount of crunchy!  
We paid our reasonable bill, for what we had, which included samples, plus free green tea and large-sized Sushi for LZ and left a small tip. We left feeling satisfied and wanting to go back, me I could go once a week. He was making some interesting things for other people I wanted to try.
 

Part 2

 
A couple of weeks later there was held a Japanese festival in town. As it turns out, Ensenada has a lot of Japanese descendants here and a history with Japan. This was however the first festival. We went to the square outside of our marina were these things are usually held. There were a few sushi stands set up, some misc local craft (not japanese) , some wine booths and a few other things. For the most part sushi. I tried a couple of freebies, it was ok. Most of the sushi was the Americanize version, lots of sauces and stuff. One I had never seen before. We figured that was a Mexican invention. 
 
 
 
A couple of acquaintances went to the festival with me, both are from Taiwan. One, the wife wore a Yukata, many people wanted to take pictures with her. I thought that was humorous as did she. I said she should charge she could have made some fast cash.
 
I made a short stay at the festival, as did LZ she went off with a friend to have a drink and work on her articles. I went back to the boat for misc stuff. I did happen to go out later to find some food and came across a local Kung Fu school lining up to do a demo. I was somewhat surprised to see them at a Japanese festival and doing Lion Dance. So here was a Japanese festival, in Mexico with Chinese Kung Fu school doing a lion Dance. Interesting, I watched for a while then left.
 

 

Part 3

 
Today we went back to the corner Japanese stand. The owners remembered us of course. This time we ordered something different.  It was outstanding as before! I also ordered the pumpkin flowers , hmmmmm good. His tempura skills are excellent! The right amount of crispness and not too oily! As before he gave us a sample of something. Crunchy rice with spicy tuna and avocado, with a small piece of lime!   Sugoi good! Once again we left with happy tummies and the desire to come back! 
 
 
 
 
 
LZ wanted to top off the afternoon with a drink. I would have loved a plum chuhai. But that was not going to happen, she wanted a margarita. We went to the Mexican shop we had the Marlin Burritos and had a couple of Mango Margaritas. They were the perfect ending, low price, just strong enough, just sweet enough!
 
 
It was a good afternoon,/ evening for only about 20.00 ea. It will be awhile before we can do that again, but it was nice for a change. Since we generally live off about 5.00 a day this was a good treat! We will be leaving Ensenada soon and away from any Oishii foods for quite a while. At least 30 days whilst we cross the Ocean to Tahiti. Yup, plans are in the making to head to French Poly!
Prayers and donations gladly accepted _/|\_
 
 
 
 
 
Posted by: Zen | April 5, 2013

TPEP: The Tao of Now

  The Tao of Now.
 
Spring is here. I see it in the plants when I am out doing my morning practice. Flowers spring forth accenting the limited amount of greenry here south of the boarder. Greenery is one of the things i miss being here over northern Cal. That and having a higher income, my classes, and my classmates. On the other hand it is nice to wake up and just go practice and not hual my bum off to work. Ahh no parts in life are without some sacrifice ne. To have some things, you give up others. Well at least for us everyday people.
 
 
Anyway, it is Spring. In my world it means, prep time is shorten. Soon it will be time to face a change and a challenge. It will be up to the Tao on the size and intensity of it. Scary to get lost in thoughts of it. That is part of the Spiritual journey of this passage. Facing the real power of this earth, nature and it’s face’s of Feng Shui. ( wind and water).  Another part is trusting the Tao to provide our needs in the face of finaical limitaions. Another scary thought to be easily lost in. It takes not only faith but some degree of  desipline to stay in the moment, mindful, grateful for what is here and not lost in desire and fear of what is not.
 
 
Things with the boat are coming together, little things are being taken care of, some are comforts, some are nesessities, all need to be done. 

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