Sunday, 26 April 2015

Devastating earthquake in Nepal

Saturday April 25th, about noon Nepal time, an earthquake measuring 7.8  in the Lamjung region (between Pokhara & Kathmandu, near the start of the Annapurna Circuit) hit Nepal, with devastating results. This was a major shallow earthquake, with continuing aftershocks, affecting all of Nepal. The death toll is rising and certainly far more than the ~2500 deaths currently indicated. Buildings ancient and new in cities and villages have collapsed everywhere -- leaving untold numbers homeless and injured. In the mountains, avalanches have occurred, sweeping away villages (Dhunche, in the Langtang region) and climbing camps (avalanches at the Everest Base Camp have killed many locals and climbers).  Communications are difficult -- early reports are primarily from the Kathmandu Valley and the Khumbu (Everest) regions -- so it will take time to understand the true scope of the disaster. 

Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world (rated 19th poorest, with per capita annual income of about $750). To us, coming from such wealth in the west, life for so many Nepalese seems so difficult. Yet, we have always felt the Nepalese to be wonderful people who face adversity in their day-to-day lives with remarkable strength and spirit. (That's a major reason we keep returning to Nepal.)  Having been to Nepal 12 times (most recently, 2014), we have long been concerned for the people of Nepal. This earthquake will only make life so much more difficult for the Nepalese.

Nepal needs help. 

Please consider donating to a charity providing disaster relief to Nepal:

Canadian Red Cross:

Unicef Canada

Oxfam Canada

MSF/Doctors without Borders Canada

American Red Cross

Unicef USA

Oxfam USA

MSF/Doctors without Borders USA


British Red Cross

Unicef UK

Oxfam UK

MSF/Doctors without BordersUK

Other countries: search for the above in your country

Friday, 10 April 2015

What a drag...

As we noted in an earlier post, "everyone drags anchor sometime".

We have an excellent anchor (25 kg Rocna), all-chain rode, and we are conservative in anchoring by have significant scope usually 5-or-6-to-1. Until recently, we had not dragged with the Rocna.

(But we have dragged with other anchors -- especially CQRs -- in previous years.)

Given that anyone/everyone drags sometime, it is comforting to anchor with a lot of space between boats and/or the shore; at least, when possible.

As we mentioned in our preceding post, the other night we dragged 60 feet during coroumels in Caleta Partida. The winds were no more than 20 kn and the seas negligible, and we had at least 6-to-1 scope. So, it was a surprise -- no, a shock -- that we had dragged. (Later in the night, after we let out extra chain, a neibouring boat, over 200 feet away, shined its spotlight to alert us that we had dragged; david was awake and replied quickly; the other boat told us later that once he knew we were already awake and aware, he slept soundly.)

Anchor watch showing positions relative to anchor: initial, drag, drag+extra chain out
The Vespermarine Watchmate 850 Anchor Watch screen plots the boat position relative to the anchor position every several minutes. What is obvious from the screenshot is that were holding fine, then there was an approximately 20 degree shift in wind position, then a new set on points indicating a new positin 60 feet back and a different angle. Likely, the wind shift pulled the dug-in Rocna out and it took 60 feet to dig-in again. (The screenshot also shows when we let out extra chain.) We did not drag any further.

This dragging is unusual; normally the Rocna resets very quickly with a significant wind change. We will have to chalk this up as being a rare case, and be glad we had lots of space to drag. 

Everyone drags sometime.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

(Another) short cruise to the islands...

Sunrise at El Cardonal
 After a week settling into La Paz, we took off for a 5-7 day cruise to Bahia La Paz's islands. What was different this time was cruising with two other boats. Here in Mexico, we meet other boaters in the marina and in anchorages, but have rarely "buddy boated" with friends.

SVs Kylahi, Wylie and Pelagia took off for Playa Bonanza. We tried to sail but winds were too light. Of course, the winds did pick up while we were anchored, but these were mostly light/moderate southwesterly "coroumel" winds, which are fine at Playa Bonanza. (Each afternoon, thermal onshore -- northeasterly -- winds would pick up but they died before dark.)

Socializing on Pelagia
Two nights at Bonanza -- with socializing -- then we decided to move over to the other side, perhaps Caleta Partida, as the winds at Bonanza were getting a little boisterous.

It was Semana Santa/Easter, and Caleta Partida was pretty busy with many anchored boats, so we detoured to El Cardonal, which was empty. We stayed for 3 nights, two which were very quiet and calm, the third was a littly bumpy with a coroumel wind during the night. The "highlight" of El Cardonal on this trip was the hike across the island. We've done this easy walk twice before, with good times. This time, however, we had biting bugs to deal with -- swarms of no-seeums (jejenes) and mosquitos. Later, being driven crazy with itching and scratching, Michelle would count 153 bites on her body (the rest of us received 10 or fewer bites -- Michelle "took the bullet" for the rest of us). She was itchy for days.

El Cardonal: all that green in the desert = BUGS!

El Cardonal: Crossing the island, running away from bugs
Pelagia and Kylahi anchored in El Cardonal

Because the coroumels seemed to be picking up, we moved over to Calata Partida, which has slightly better wave protection. (The other two boats had returned to La Paz.) The anchorage was much less crowded. We anchored in the southern anchorage, with 175' chain in 25 feet of water, and at least 300 feet from the nearest boat. The coroumel really did pick up (20 knots) but there were no significant waves.  Nevertheless, there was a wind shift in the night that must have dislodged our anchor, and I woke up to find we had dragged 60 feet. Our first drag with the Rocna, that kept David up the rest of the on anchor watch.

With David tired and cranky the next morning, we decided to head back to the dock at Marina Palmira, go out for dinner at Bandidos, and have a good sleep.

Of course, the coroumel winds died off for the next several nights.