Monday, July 19, 2021


Intermezzo is all put away and resting on the hard at Marina Puerto Escondido and I'm back in California. We're done sailing for a while.

We hauled out last Thursday afternoon. The TraveLift slip is a tight squeeze for Intermezzo, only a few inches on either side, but with some help from the marina guys, we backed into it without any problems. A diver pulled the slings under the boat abd Intermezzo was lifted out of the water. We blocked the boat perfectly and I spent the next couple of days putting things away and cleaning things up for long term storage.

It was really hot in the afternoons, so I would get up early to get my work done in the cooler morning hours, then head back to the hotel to cool off in my air conditioned room. By the time I left to fly home on Sunday afternoon, I had had enough of hot, humid, tropical climates. Arriving in San Francisco, the cool evening air was a very welcome change.

I always feel a bit melancholy when I leave Intermezzo behind. I gave the boat an affectionate pat as I walked away. I'm going to enjoy land life until November, when Intermezzo will be launched again to cruise the Pacific coast of Mexico and the Sea of Cortez this coming winter and spring.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

La Paz to Puerto Escondido With Johan

My friend Johan and I sailed Intermezzo from La Paz to Puerto Escondido over the past few days. We left La Paz on Sunday morning making overnight stops at Isla San Francisco and Punta San Tolemo along the way, arriving here yesterday evening.

I met Johan when I was in La Paz back in 2017-18.  He's a young 75 year old, a very capable sailor, knows his way around boats and has a great sense of humor. We enjoyed each other's company, good conversation and just being out on the beautiful Sea of Cortez for a few days.

The weather was great, light blue skies, some puffy white clouds, dark blue seas with gentle swells. It was hot during the day, but with a breeze blowing most of the time, it was comfortable in the shade of the hardtop.

I had removed the sails for transporting Intermezzo on the ship and didn't want to wrestle the heavy mainsail onto the boom, only to have to remove it again for hauling out in Puerto Escondido for hurricane season. Johan and I hoisted the jib in La Paz so we might get a little help from the wind.

We motored the 40 nautical miles (nm) to Isla San Francisco on Sunday, dropping anchor their around 4 pm. There were quite a few boats crowded into the southern end of the big crescent shaped anchorage, where we found some protection from the southerly swells. We took a swim to cool off, enjoyed cocktails followed by a nice dinner.

The next morning, we weighed anchor at a gentlman-ly 10:30 am and set sail for Los Gatos, another 36 nm north. The wind piped up enough in the afternoon for us to shut down the engines and let the jib pull us along at a nice 4-5 knots. The wind caused a southeasterly swell to build which was unfortunate, as the Los Gatos anchorage is exposed to the south and east. Rather than risk an uncomfortable rolly night there, we pushed on a few more miles to Punta San Tolemo where we anchored on the north side of the point. It was more comfortable than Los Gatos would have been, but the swell bent around the point and rocked us a bit when the boat swung beam to the seas. More swimming, more cocktails, another dinner.

The highlight of our trip was during the passage from Punta San Tolemo to Puerto Escondido yesterday. We spotted a giant pod of spinner dolphins hunting as a pack, roiling the water white with their jumps and splashes, some dolphins herding fish into a dense school while others ripped through the school, chomping away. We turned of the motor and drifted, the dolphins moving around us like whitewater on a river. I took a video and posted it to YouTube (click here to watch it).

I forgot how much I love the scenery in this part of the Sea of Cortez. The steep mountains along the coast are striated with colors shades of tans, browns, gold, reds, purples, maroons. The taller mountains further inland are in the background, hazy purple-blue, often with clouds brushing their tops. It feels really good to be back here.

Intermezzo is in a slip at Marina Puerto Escondido, near the town of Loreto, about a third of the way up the inside of the Baja peninsula. Construction of the marina had just started when I was last here in 2017. Now it's finished and it's one of the nicest marinas I have ever been in. Everything is well designed with quality materials, well executed and well maintained. I was so glad to say hello again to my friend Javier, the harbormaster. He is a really great guy, very friendly, very professional. The entire staff is customer-focused and clearly oriented to creating a premium image. 

Tomorrow we haul Intermezzo out of the water, again, to sit on land for a few months to wait out the hurricane season. I'll spend a couple days buttoning up the boat and then head back to California. I've been living on the boat for over a year now, with time on land only over the Christmas holidays and a brief break from waiting for the ship in Florida. 

Coastline of the Sea of Cortez, San Toleme anchorage

Johan at the helm of Intermezzo

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Intermezzo Is Back In La Paz

 Intermezzo has returned to La Paz, exactly two years and six months after we set sail on The Voyage on January 8, 2019. My long ordeal of waiting to load onto a ship is finally over. I am feeling a strong sense of relief and one of celebration, for having closed the loop, returning from where we started.

The unloading went smoothly, although 12 minutes delayed. After waiting three months to load onto the ship, I can deal with that sort of delay!

My friend Johan served as crew to receive Intermezzo as the boat was lowered from the deck of the Chipolbrok Star. We met a panga a the end of Muelle (Dock) 4 at Marina Palmira, which coincidentally was once Intermezzo's home in La Paz. We boarded the boat just as the slings of the crane were being lifted away.  Intermezzo's decks are covered with spots of some powdery substance, I suspect the same as whatever the ship is carrying in its bulk cargo holds. I didn't have time to do a thorough inspection, but didn't see any obvious damage. It looks like Intermezzo made the journey unscathed, but a bit road weary.

When we started the port engine, no cooling water came out with the exhaust like it is supposed to. I poked around a bit but couldn't remedy the situation. I resigned myself to running both engines briefly only for maneuvering, relying on only the starboard engine to get us to the marina. Fortunately, when I revved up the port engine to back away from the ship, the raw water pump finally had enough suction to get things flowing and all was well.

We motored to Marina Cortez as the sun was setting. It felt so good to have Intermezzo back, so good to have the boat back in La Paz and the Sea of Cortez. We docked the boat, snugged up the docklines and fenders and then went to Johan's place to have a celebratory beer and shot of tequila. Johan's wife, Barbara, had taken pictures of the whole event from their rooftop terrace including the one for this post. I'm very grateful to both of them for their friendship and support.

Tomorrow I will wash down the boat and give it a good look over. Saturday we will provision for the passage to Puerto Escondido. Sunday we depart. Johan has volunteered as crew for the trip, so I'll have good, capable company for the three day trip.

When I finished The Voyage in New York in September 2019, I wrote, "It feels like a lot, sometimes too much. I can hardly distinguish individual memories of all that passed, it's more like kaleidoscope of experiences that are now a part of who I am, experiences that will influence who I will be." It felt like that again today, the feelings not as big this time, but of a similar nature.

It's not a wrap yet, but we're getting close. In just over a week, I'll be walking away from Intermezzo for a few months to live on land for a while. Life for me is shifting again.

Look closely and you can see Intermezzo being lifted off the deck of ship in this picture Barbara took from her rooftop

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

I'm Back In La Paz, Intermezzo Is On the Way

I arrived in La Paz, Baja California Sur (Mexico) on Saturday afternoon and have been enjoying getting reacquainted with this lovely small city as I wait for the ship transporting Intermezzo to arrive. The Chipolbrok Star is scheduled to arrive tomorrow night and unloading operations to begin the next morning.

La Paz is just as beautiful as I remember it, but Covid is a big concern. The case load is pretty high (two-week average daily cases >5 per 100,000), the hospitals are reportedly full, and vaccination rates are relatively low compared to the US. People are wearing face masks everywhere and practicing social distancing,  restrictions are in place for businesses and restaurants, the malecón (public seafront) is closed, and the streets seem more empty and quiet than I remember them. Nonetheless, life goes on and I am enjoying walking around the city, eating at my favorite restaurants and trying some new ones.

In a blog post during my first visit to La Paz, I wrote that "I really like this town...If I were thinking of a place to live in Mexico, La Paz would definitely be on my list." Well, this is my third visit and I'm planning on making this Intermezzo's home base for the foreseeable future.

I'm converting my blog posts for The Voyage from San Francisco to New York (2015-2019) into a book, mostly as a gift to my Mom, also for limited publication and distribution to family, friends and fans. Coincidentally, I started working on the chapter "La Paz and The Sea of Cortez" right when I arrived here. It feels a bit surreal to be reading my blog posts from late 2015 when Renee and I arrived in La Paz in November 2015, near the beginning of my first attempt at The Voyage and now to be back, almost six years and over 23,000 nautical miles of sailing later. So much has changed outside of me, inside me.

I'm so grateful to have this blog as a memoir of all that I experienced sailing Intermezzo. I think the book is going to be a good one, as it will arrange all the blog posts into chapters, each with a preface of highlights, retrospectives and adding a little about what was going on for me personally over all those years. Looking back, I think my sailing adventure and writing about it kept me on a steady course as my "land life" experienced a good deal of turmoil.

Once I unload Intermezzo off the ship, I'll fill up the diesel tanks and head to a marina for a couple of days to clean up the boat, provision and prepared for the three-day passage to Puerto Escondido. I plan on departing La Paz Sunday morning, making stops at Isla San Francisco and Bahia Los Gatos along the way and arriving in Puerto Escondido next Tuesday.

Once in Puerto Escondido, we'll haul out Intermezzo and prepare for long-term lay up on the hard for the hurricane season. If all goes as planned, I'll be flying out of Loreto next Sunday bringing an end to the long ordeal of getting Intermezzo back to the Sea of Cortez.