in the Sea
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June 26, 2008: Same old, same old here...finished last-minute projects while we waited for the mail, which arrived late in the afternoon. The temperature is over 100 daily now and I'm beginning to ask the same question I asked 4 years ago: "Just how few clothes can we get away with before we are thrown out of the marina?" Yesterday I visited our Encanto friends' website. Those of you who know Jim and I know that Encanto is the 60' sailboat we towed from Cabo San Lucas to LaPaz in December 2003. We became and have remained fast friends. The crew of Encanto is a unique family. When we met Gaby and Sami back in San Diego in Nov. 2003, they were young and very shy. These two young ladies are now in their teens and extremely confident in themselves. It's been a pleasure watching them develop into who they are. John and Judy, the parents, are super people. John and Jim look like they could be twin brothers. Judy is of Chinese ancestry, loves to cook and write. Her parents have welcomed us into their home on the two occasions that we flew to San Francisco to see the Encantoids, as I call them. Anyway, these guys are REAL cruisers. They've been out there for 5 years and are just now returning back into the "real world". John and 2 crew members are currently bringing the boat back from America Samoa. Judy and the girls flew home 2 months ago, rented an apartment, bought a car and returned to work while they wait for John's return. So back to their website (www.encanto.nl). Check it out if you have a moment. I was very moved by an entry made by John on 6/18/08 as he ponders returning to the rat race. I asked his permission to post just one paragraph of what he wrote. He so eloquently writes about the hazards of cruising that every cruiser out here regularly thinks about.
"Contrary to what some believe, this time spent has not been a vacation. It has been the most difficult, demanding thing I have ever done. And, the most rewarding. Meeting deadlines, managing teams and projects; yes, had their anxious moments. But not life threatening. Not the same sense of responsibility. Our planning, preparations, and skills have all minimized the risks to the point of having it feel there is no risk. But it's there, always, just under the surface. The first few nights of any passage are spent playing the "what if" game. What if this line, shroud or stay parted? How about the rudder, the steering? What was that noise? Never heard it before. Get up, look around. When I finally get around to thinking of the partly submerged container, I usually get up for a glass of water and a peek at the chart. That one has no solution, it's fate. Especially so at night. When moving around on deck, one is always aware which lines are fully loaded and what might happen if they parted. Steps are chosen carefully, tasks thought out in advance. I would hope Gene Kranz would be proud. The same is true at anchor. Is it set well? Sometimes it's too deep to dive on and check. What is the bottom like? Has the anchor snagged something and will it only hold until the wind picks up or shifts? What if the chain wraps around a coral head, the wind shifts and there is now 15 miles of fetch, 4' waves and the former haven of the coral reef once off our bow, is now a threatening demon, a boat length behind us? There are always solutions, but one needs to be paying attention, constantly. On one of our visits back to the States we spent an enjoyable night out with friends. Returning to their home in the wind and rain, I remarked, "Look; the house is just where we left it." They looked at me with uncomprehending eyes."June 25, 2008: I took the bus to Soriana's for another round of provisioning and once again, I was able to buy some, but not all, the items that remained on my list. Looks like I will have to make yet another trip to yet another store tomorrow morning. The stanchion was returned while I was out. Unfortunately the shop was not able to complete the job -- the old stainless tube had so many holes in it that the shop wasn't sure which holes were the correct ones. Guess it's best to err on the side of caution! The other reason they couldn't complete the job was because the tap broke. Yes, this is the same tap that Jim bought just 2 days ago. Looks like Jim will be making yet another trip to yet another store tomorrow morning, too! Projects for the day included Jim changing the transmission fluid and then going out in the afternoon to replace our supply and me washing the main salon floor on my hands and knees. It looked great for a couple of minutes; then the cats walked on it and loose cat fur went flying. We heard from the dinghy manufacturer today. They will replace our dinghy with a new one when we get to Seattle (where the company is located.) We are very pleased with this decision. A look on DHL's website indicates our mail is in Guadalajara; with luck, it should be here tomorrow or Friday.
June 24, 2008: Jose arrived before 0900 today and apologized for not making it yesterday. DC poked his head through the hawse pipe to watch as Jose cleaned the water line! Jose gave both zincs a thumbs up so we're good to go. I baked a batch of brownies, divided and froze them and then made a large batch of meatballs, which I also divided and froze. We are in good shape meal-wise for our trip north. Jim decided he should repair the crooked rail and made several attempts to remove the stainless tube from the stanchion, with no success. Eventually he resigned himself to removing the stanchion from the bulwarks and brought the whole assembly to the stainless steel shop. They will have the unit ready tomorrow. I'm glad that he replaced the broken stainless tubing -- I was very nervous whenever anyone dinghied to our boat and climbed aboard midship. Jim and I knew not to lean on it, but it was difficult asking others not to. We discovered that our mail did not leave Seattle yesterday as promised. We are currently scheduled to leave here Friday so hopefully this won't delay us. Lately I've been turning on the air conditioner in the aft cabin when it reaches 85 degrees and the cats LOVE it! You'd think Jim and I would be smart enough to go down below, too, but we stay in the main salon, sweat pouring off us. Go figure! We had burgers at Bandito's again -- good stuff!
June 23, 2008: The plate trick worked and the refrigerator was defrosted in no time flat! Hopefully that will help lessen our power usage. Jose (the boat bottom cleaner) was supposed to arrive before 0900 so I stayed on board and waited for him not to show while Jim ran a bunch of errands. Jim returned several hours later, looking totally wiped, but he had been successful with his missions. I headed off to the smaller CCC after lunch to continue provisioning. I should know better than to go there as I was only able to cross a few items off the list. But on the positive side of things, I did find bagels and liverwurst -- score big time!! When I returned, the thermometer on the boat read 96 degrees and it was in the shade! I shudder to think what the temperature really is. No, I take that back. It's too hot to make any unnecessary moves! Our dinner outing with Gael Force was canceled, forcing me to turn on the stove and heat the place up more while I fixed a tortellini salad for tonight's dinner. Jim finished installing the new stainless rail into the stanchion but now it's very apparent that the rail in the stanchion base next to it is crooked -- the rail looks like a drunkard's path! We will leave it as is for the time being because stainless is not cheap here and it is functional as is. And Jose never showed. Talvez mañana!
June 22, 2008: Jim continued working on the stanchion; unfortunately his tap broke so the project is on hold until he can find another one, most likely tomorrow. I did 3 more loads of laundry. With this heat (over 100 every day now), we can't wear anything more than once. We put a plate on the bed with the hope that it will remind us to turn the refrigerator breaker off so we can defrost the fridge tomorrow. Our brains are quickly turning to mush in this heat so with our luck, we won't wonder what the plate is doing in the aft cabin!
June 21, 2008: Dennis joined us for breakfast at The Olympia restaurant, which advertises itself as the cheapest breakfast in town. It wasn't as good as I remembered it, but for 35 pesos, you can't really complain! Jim and I went our separate ways afterwards, continuing with projects on "the list". We heard someone hailing Etherial Star on the VHF today. Don't know what happened to him, all he said was that he got towed in, but apparently they are now safe and sound in LaPaz. Jim mounted the stanchion base back to the bulwark -- step 1! He's happy to report that his back is feeling fine and all the pretty colors of the rainbow are gone, too! I made a black bean salad for dinner -- salads are definitely the way to go on these hot days!
June 20, 2008: And the chores go on, and on, and on...! I dug my sewing machine out and patched the bimini top. I hate working with a lot of material, but working with a lot of material that weighs a ton is a royal nuisance! I think I won the battle and my Bernina doesn't seem any worse for wear! The stanchion next to the boarding gate rotted and has been wiggly since Zihua. It has become a safety hazard. Jim tried to remove the stainless tube, but only the top part came out; the other half remained in the stanchion base. While he was trying to figure out how to remove it, the guys from the stainless shop arrived. After a few minutes of discussing the best way to repair the bimini, the bimini frame was removed. They also said they could weld one of the flopper stoppers. Jim then explained what had happened to the stanchion. That, too, could be fixed; the only thing Jim needed to do was to remove the stanchion base from the bulwark, which he did. They told us that all items whould be ready mañana but late in the afternoon, the showed up with everything! The bimini now fits snuggly and the flopper stopper will hopefully last us another few years. The rusted piece of stainless was removed from the stanchion base, and then they polished the stanchion to a nice shiny bronze. Shoot! This one looks so pretty and all the rest have greened with age! The guy on the boat on our port side hired a couple to wash his boat. The next thing we know, the workers are asking us if they can borrow OUR bucket and brush! Jim, being the softie that he is, loaned it to them; perhaps we should have asked them to wash our boat for free seeing as they were using our materials! And on a more sober note, Mermaid arrived LaPaz a couple of days ago and put a question to the fleet asking if anyone had seen a boat they had been traveling with. It's been two days now and Etherial Star still has not arrived. The two boats were traveling from Mazatlan to LaPaz and Etherial Star was 30 miles south of Altata when the two spoke last (that was where we ran into the fishing fleet in the middle of the night). So the Mazatlan, Altata and LaPaz port captains have been notified, as has the navy. This is yet another in a series of single-handed boats not showing up where they said they were headed. We certainly hope this story has a happy ending. Rounding out today, our dock neighbor on our starboard side (Dennis) is a single hander and is craving company. He's a really nice guy; he stopped by around 1700 with a bottle of Grey Goose and some tonic water, asking if we'd like to join him. Now I don't want to make it sound like we are a couple of lushes (although we are!), but we weren't about to turn down Grey Goose! So we sat on the flybridge under our newly-reinstalled bimini enjoying the cool breeze and chatting away. After 3 rounds we decided food would probably be a good addition to the evening, so we walked a couple blocks to Bandito's. They are well known for their hamburgers, which I had, but the guys each had a burrito that they raved about. It came to about US $10 pp. We ran across our friend Basil on the way back to the marina. Small world!
June 19, 2008: We caught a colectivo to Soriana's around 0900, before the heat kicked in. Teenaged stock boys watched and whispered to one another as Jim stacked 3 cases of Modelo cervesa into the cart. Jim told them it was to last 2 months; I told them there was a fiesta on el barco Mañana! By the time we were finished shopping, the grocery cart was overflowing and we still hadn't bought everything! One of the workers hailed a taxi for us and the driver was astonished at all the food we had purchased! We loaded everything into two dock carts and made our way down the dock. It took me about an hour to put stuff away. At noon I baked a chicken and rice casserole -- just what the cabin needed -- more heat! It was 96.4 in the shade. Once the casserole cooled, I portioned it out and froze the meals. After lunch Jim climbed into the engine room and changed the filters, engine zinc and oil. While he did that, I emptied and scrubbed the kitty litter box and then emptied and scrubbed the shower. It wasn't until after our chores were done that we felt like we could sit back and really enjoy a cold drink!
June 18, 2008: Happy 25th wedding anniverisary to us! Unfortunately we couldn't take the day off, even though it is a special day. Jim installed a larger strainer into the refrigeration system and attempted to stop the drip from the pump. I made up a batch of chick pea stew, which I portioned and froze. The temperature hit 102 degrees today -- we are both dripping gallons of sweat. At 1800 we taxied to the Tres Virgenes restaurant. It had come highly recommended and we looked forward to a nice evening out. I had angus beef ribs that were out of this world, Jim had New Zealand rack of lamb and we split a slice of tiramisu. The meal wasn't cheap, but it was delicious. As a special treat, I requested "Besame Mucho" from a We decided to walk back to the marina, as the sun had set and the evening temperature was perfect. The malecon was crowded with people enjoying the evening like we were.
June 17, 2008: We went our separate ways as we addressed items on "the list". The first item on my list was to get a haircut, which was a bit of a challenge because the shop I went to 4 years ago was out of business. But I eventually succeeded and am pleased with the results. And five loads of laundry later, the floor in the hanging locker can now be seen and I feel like I've got a grip on the domestic side of things! Jim made good progress with the items on his list. Someone from the stainless shop supposedly will stop by in a couple of days, our mail forwarding company has been notified and reservations were made for tomorrow night's dinner. Not addressed (yet) is grocery shopping. By mid-afternoon, it was 95 degrees and neither of us had any desire to walk over a mile to the grocery store. Ah, mañana!
June 16, 2008: We were up and about early, trying to decide whether to stay in Caleta Partida or get underway. The weather forecast is for south winds to increase over the next couple of days so there was incentive to get underway, even though we knew it was going to be another lumpy passage. Like yesterday, the winds and seas moderated as the morning progressed and by the time we got to LaPaz, there was no weather. Jim contacted Marina de LaPaz and was told they had an available slip. After checking in with the office we stopped at the Dock Cafe for lunch. Now we need to get ourselves psyched up to get our projects done! The afternoon winds arrived at dinner time, easing the heat of the day. By morning, we were sleeping under a blanket.
June 15, 2008: Okay, for the record...THIS SUCKS! We are both really tired of running from these south winds. The winds started around 2230, blowing 15-20 kts and didn't stop. This caused the sea swells to wrap around the point causing us to have a rolly night (although not as bad as Punta San Telmo). At 0830 we were underway, bound for Isla Partida. We caught the worst of the sea swells and waves as we rounded the northeast corner of the island. We pounded into 2-3' sea waves and the wind blew a steady 15 kts. On the positive side of the passage, dolphins joined us for a short time and rode our bow wake, bringing huge smiles to us. Thankfully the wind died and the seas eased the further south we got. We overheard a conversation on the VHF between two boats; it sounded like it was the same weather conditions on Isla Partida as what we had. We arrived Caleta Partida at 1300, hungry and tired of bashing. We debated continuing south, perhaps back to LaPaz while conditions were good, but decided to call it a day here. We are now officially in Corumuel territory. Corumuel winds are unique to the LaPaz area and are southerly winds that suddenly blow up (20-30 kts) some time after sunset and die when the sun comes up. Supposedly Caleta Partida offers protection from corumuels. One boat after another began arriving into the anchorage beginning in the late afternoon; by night fall, there were 8 of us. At 2230 the sportfisher next to us fired up its engines. We don't know whether he was dragging (although there was no wind) or whether he didn't like the boat's position once everyone swung, but 45 (!) minutes later, he was finally reanchored. He then proceeded to leave his generator running all night long. It's buttheads like him that give motor boats a bad name. We go out of our way to be "good" neighbors, trying to make up for all the "bad" ones that other cruisers may have encountered. Geesh!
June 14, 2008: We listened to Don, who predicted that the winds will be from the south for the next 5 or 6 days. We headed to the beach before the winds picked up. Four years ago we found a dozen paper nautilus shells here and I was hoping for a repeat. Unfortunately we saw no evidence of any paper nautilus shells -- perhaps it was a fluke 4 years ago. The beach is rocky and most of the shells we saw were broken, but we picked up several nice looking star fish and one shell that looked like a mushroom (for Babs). We returned to the boat and decided to motor over to the anchorage on the north end of Isla San Francisco, 3 miles away. Between Isla San Francisco and Isla San Jose is Isla Coyote. This island is more like an overgrown rock, 40 feet high and irregular shaped. What is interesting about Isla Coyote is that it is home to several local fishermen and their families. The homes look like what you'd expect to find in your neighborhood, complete with yards! Our guide book says that Isla Coyote has been inhabited by fishing families for centuries and the children are ferried across the San Jose Channel to school in San Evaristo. We dropped our anchor in 14' of clear turquoise water, hoping that we will be sheltered from the southeast winds and sea swell as we are currently without flopper stoppers. Once again, we lowered the dinghy and went ashore. Gulls flew over us, screaming at us as we walked the beach. We found a handful of shells worthy enough to bring back to the boat, although I haven't a clue what we'll do with them! I am counting down the days until we return to LaPaz (scheduled for 6/18). One month in the Sea with limited provisioning has left us with no beer, tonic water or juice and we have only one bottle of wine and one roll of toilet paper left! We've gone through 3 sets of sheets and 5 sets of pillow cases; the laundry is now sorted into 2 bags and has taken over the hanging locker! And speaking of bags, the trash compactor is nearly full and we have 2 grocery sacks full of empty bottles out on the aft deck. We've made a huge dent in our frozen foods, as well as the canned goods. We were able to buy tortillas, fresh fruits, vegetables, ham and cheese in both Loreto and Agua Verde.
June 13, 2008: We were beam-to the waves for most of the night and both cats insisted on being in bed with us. Ugh! At 0630 we climbed out of bed and put the coffee pot on, determined to get underway as soon as possible. Neither of us had slept well. Our second flopper stopper broke -- this is getting to sound like a broken record! Ten to 15 kt. winds greeted us as soon as we headed south. The only good thing was that the easterly component was gone so we were going directly into the wind waves with an up/down motion, which is much more comfortable than a side-to-side motion. We passed Rosalita; they had left an hour before us but given the seas and a foul current, they were making no southerly progress. They had turned around and were headed back to Punta San Telmo. Cruisers had told us how nice Bahia Rincon is. Charlie's Charts doesn't mention it and Jerry Cunningham makes mention of it, but doesn't recommend it as an anchorage. However, we trust our cruising family. I'm not sure why this anchorage is called "bahia" (bay) as it is big enough for only one boat. We dropped anchor in the middle of the cove and were immediately sheltered from the south winds, which was wonderful. We were also almost immediately greeted by bees, which was not wonderful. We tried to ignore them and even went so far as to put some water in a bucket and place the bucket on the bow pulpit, but the bees kept pestering us. So after a cup of coffee and some lunch, we upped anchor with the thought that we'd try La Amortajada on the south side of Isla San Jose. The wind was still blowing 15-20 kts. but the wind lessened and the seas eased the further south we got. La Amortajada is a strange anchorage in that the closer you get to shore, the deeper the water gets! You just have to trust that it will shoal before you wind up on the beach! We had a very calm and comfortable night.
June 12, 2008: We left Agua Verde early, before the winds kicked up. They were still predicted to be out of the south, but not as strong as yesterday. We thought we'd go to Bahia Rincon, but the seas were so lumpy that we followed Rosalita into Punta San Telmo (aka Punta Prieta). It was very rolly but it was better than beating our brains out headed south! We kept positive thoughts that the seas would flatten out as the day went on. One of our flopper stoppers broke...again! Jim will be a flopper stopper repair expert by the time we get home! We currently have two Magmas on board and neither of them have been able to hold up to the life that being a cruiser puts on them. I guess my recommendation would be that Magmas are okay for occasional use but if you're going cruising, buy a flopper stopper with some meat to it. Magma's quality isn't worth their price. Late in the morning a panga stopped by the boat. The fisherman told us a sob story of his sick wife, hoping we'd bite and give him some cash. When we didn't produce our wallets, he offered to sell us some shell fish. He had a bag full of huge scallops, probably hatchet scallops. Jim confirmed they were scallops and not manta (some fishermen kill mantas and using a cookie cutter, cut the meat out of the wings and sell them as scallops. It is illegal and highly unethical.) The scallops were on ice and smelled fresh, so we bought a kilo. I divided, vacuum bagged and froze enough for two additional meals. Unfortunately the seas did not flatten out and, in fact, were so bad that we had to keep all the cabinets locked, stuffed pillows and towels into the liquor locker and had no appetite for scallops (thank goodness for Progresso soup). On the plus side of things, though, it was a perfect temperature all day. So there's another example of having this or that; not this and that!! Hipnautical came into the anchorage late in the afternoon. Jim welcomed them to our rolly anchorage and their reply was, "It's better than Los Gatos!"
June 11, 2008: Another hot and quiet day spent in Agua Verde, held prisoner here by south winds. We had a nice cloud cover for most of the morning and a comfortable breeze stayed with us on and off until dinner time...then it got still and hot! Five boats left the anchorage and four new ones came in. Most of the boats are headed north up into the Sea and out of the path of any hurricane that may make it this far north. There are still a few stragglers like us who are hanging around the southern Sea. Jim and I feel like we are just biding our time until it's time to leave here. Our goal is to be back in LaPaz by next Weds (6/18) so we can celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. There are still a few anchorages we haven't visited that we'd like to poke into, depending on which way the wind blows. We had a late dinner of tequila shrimp and then sat outside once the sun went down.
June 10, 2008: The heat appears to have cranked up a few degrees over the past several days and as such, neither of us have slept well. I thought we'd be leaving Agua Verde today, but Don forecasted south winds for the next couple of days, so here we'll sit. Guess there are worse places to be stuck! Friends on Aurora and Bardan left this morning. We will definitely miss our fun times with Jim and Sheilagh. We sat on the flybridge reading for most of the day. As the boat swung in the wind, we changed seats, trying to stay out of the sun as much as possible. At one point Jim looked overboard and saw an anchor. He was extremely curious about it, so he marked it with one of our fenders and then swam out to see if we might have just found ourselves a new anchor. It was OUR anchor! The wind was blowing us and we had ended up beam to our own anchor! We had several new boats join us in the anchorage -- some we know and some we've heard on the radio. One of the boats we don't know was "Utopia". She is easily over 200' long and multi decked. The tender made a couple trips to the beach; it brought one crew member ashore, where they set up a couple of umbrellas, 2 chairs, a table (including flowers!), serving tray, baskets of goodies, etc. The crew member sat under the shade of the umbrellas on the sand, not in the empty chairs! A few hours later we watched the tender bring 2 people to shore, where the crew member mixed and served them drinks. A 200' boat really seems like overkill for 2 people (plus unknown number of crew). I don't know who is on board but they must think very highly of themselves! Jim joked how he'd love to own a mega yacht and pull into some little anchorage...then he'd go around to all the cruisers and invite them to happy hour on board and blow their minds! (I think we've been cruising too long.)
Scenes from Agua Verde
June 9, 2008: I could see another mañana attitude coming over Jim after breakfast, so I suggested that we go snorkeling. We loaded the dinghy with our gear, drinking water, and towels and headed to the pyramid rock, in between the two bights. There were several fish, mostly sergent majors, but the water was murky. So we climbed back into the dinghy (no small feat) and continued over to the shore of the west bight. The snorkeling was much better there -- a better selection of fish and better water clarity. We saw parrot fish, trigger fish, wrasses, rays, puffer fish, sea urchins, starfish, moray eels and many more! It was terrific! We headed into town around 1600. Pigs and goats wandered freely around the village. We went directly to the grocery store; the store had moved into new space and we found most of what we were looking for. However, Agua Verde is a dry town, so there was no wine or beer. :( We'd heard from other cruisers that Agua Verde has a new jail. We located the police station and sure enough, there was one cell built on the back of the building. The ironic thing is the police station is next door to the school, and the cell actually faces the school! I don't think we're in Kansas any more, Toto! We returned to our boat, stopping by to say hi to Bardan, who had just pulled into the anchorage. We had to run the generator again today. Don't know why or how we've used so much electricity in the past 24 hours. We sat on deck after dinner, enjoying the coolness of the evening. Several puffer fish swam around the boat. They look like toy fish with wind up tails and happy little faces! We cooked the remainder of the cabrilla for dinner and I scraped the pans overboard. The cooked fish crumbs brought lots of different types of fish to the boat, all eager to gobble up the scraps.
June 8, 2008: We had lots of plans, but the mañana attitude took hold of us both! In the end, we spent a quiet day on the boat. We dinghied over to Aurora, who is anchored in the west bight, for dinner. With 3 chefs in the galley, the cabrilla couldn't help but be done perfectly! Sheilagh made one of her signature key lime pies for dessert -- mmm, mmm good!
The Goats of Agua Verde
June 7, 2008: Jim answered a call from cruisers who needed help with their Winlink software so he spent the majority of the morning working on that. I cleaned the boat and washed several pairs of shorts -- they were so stiff from salt water that they could almost stand up by themselves! We haven't been near a laundromat for over 3 weeks and the dirty laundry pile is building daily! Manta put a call out to the fleet offering anyone interested a filet of cabrilla that had been caught earlier in the day. Although I'm not a huge fish fan, I wasn't about to pass it up. Jim returned a while later with a gallon baggie easily containing a couple pounds of fish. We hailed Aurora and offered to bring the fish to tomorrow night's dinner; it will be delicious with butter, garlic and onion on it, wrapped in foil and cooked on the grill. The dinghy was in dire need of another acetone wash. I changed into my bathingsuit, climbed into the dinghy and went to work. Afterwards I tried cooling off on the flybridge with a refreshing gin & tonic, but the folks on the boat in front of us jumped into the water and it looked so inviting! I jumped in shortly after they did, followed by Jim. Al, our neighbor on Blue Moon, was next! We ended up having a long chat while treading water and keeping cool -- it felt WONDERFUL! The goats headed down the mountain on our side of the anchorage tonight. Of course we weren't here last night to know if they had done it then, too, but it was fun to watch the lead goat with the bell followed by the herd with babies bleating.
Curious Puffer Fish
June 6, 2008: I had one eye open when Jim said, "You've gotta see this!" We were in very shallow water and our flopper-stoppers were resting on the sandy bottom. As the boat drifted with the current, the flopper-stoppers dragged along the bottom, making a dozen puffer fish very curious as to what it was! Along with the puffer fish were several rays, a long skinny fish that looks like a twig that apparently thought the flopper-stopper line was its mother, and a larger fish that we couldn't identify. The water was crystal clear and it was so amazing to watch what was going on! Puffer fish are naturally curious and we could see several checking out the anchor chain as it sat coiled in the sand. We left the anchorage at 0850 and turned south, headed for Agua Verde, one of our favorite anchorages. We decided to anchor in the east bight along with 5 other boats, in water that gave Agua Verde its name (green water). Within minutes of setting our anchor, Aegean Odyssey rowed over and invited us to a potluck. Then as we were eating lunch, Aurora came over to say hi. The last time we saw them was in Barra de Navidad. The potluck was well attended and there was lots of delicious food. There were many conversations about the local anchorages and we were sorry to learn that boats in the San Evaristo anchorage were harassed by fishermen late one night, presumably for tequila. However, one cruiser said the panga had several men on board, didn't have its engine running and had pulled up beside the dinghy. Another boat, Jake, told me that they went into Altata a couple days after we left. They were repeatedly told to take their dinghy out of the water at night and said the name "Mañana" was mentioned. So it sounds like the people of Altata are doing all they can to warn the cruisers of the dangers, which I suppose is a good thing. Around 1900 a herd of goats made its nightly journey down the hill from town, across the beach where we were and up and over the mountain on the other side. One of the two babies pulling up the rear was extremely vocal in being left in the other's dust! We were told that tomorrow morning the goats will make the trek back to town. Agua Verde is famous for its goat cheese. I can't wait to go ashore to buy some! The potluck ended around 2000, giving us plenty of time to return to our boats in daylight.
Ensenada Blanca at Sunset
June 5, 2008: I eventually fell asleep with Jerry purring on my pillow...the best white noise machine there is! The wind was still blowing in the 20s when the sun came up. We listened to two contradicting weather forecasts and wondered which one we should believe! When the winds turned out of the north, we figured we would go with Gary's forecast! After a short visit on Emily B in the morning, we upped anchor with the idea of anchoring in Juncalito, on the north side of Puerto Escondido. Unfortunately this idea had first come about when we were hoping/thinking that the winds would be out of the south. Needless to say, the anchorage had rollers and white caps running through it and we quickly decided to go to Plan B, although we didn't have a Plan B! Honeymoon Cove on Isla Danzante was a consideration, but with the rollers coming from the north, neither of us was particularly anxious to make a lumpy crossing only to discover that it wouldn't be a suitable anchorage. Our next thought was to run to Puerto Escondido, although neither of us was happy with the idea of having to pay 35 cents a foot to tie to a mooring ball. On the plus side of things, though, we'd be able to put some fuel in our tanks and with luck, we might find someplace to anchor for free. The "waiting room" area of the anchorage was full; most boats were on mooring balls with a few anchored along the outside perimeter. We continued into the fuel dock where we hailed the office for fuel. We were told to come in, which we did. The wind assisted Jim in putting the boat against the dock. Jim returned from the office a few minutes later, shaking his head in disgust. They were out of fuel -- maybe they'd have some tomorrow! Why did they tell us to come in when they knew they had no fuel?! Oh yeah! We're in Mexico where they'll tell you a lie rather than disappoint you with a negative answer. So now we had to figure out how to get Mañana off the dock. Jim hatched a plan and we asked a couple of young guys to push. Jim pulled us away from the dock just like he knew what he was doing, but I doubt we would have been able to pull it off without the help of 3 strong backs! We returned to the waiting room, taking in the space between boats. Neither of us was comfortable with the coziness of the area. In the end, we opted to return from whence we came, although for a change of scenery, we put the hook down at the other end of the anchorage. We had originally thought we'd hang around this area through Sunday so we could visit the Loreto market with Maitairoa. But after last night's wind storm (which we heard was extremely localized) and the fact that we will no longer be in Emily B's company, we've decided to head south. I think we're still a couple weeks out of LaPaz, but at least we'll be heading in the right direction! I decided to take a sleeping pill because I had a serious case of the grumps caused by last night's lack of sleep (if you asked Jim, he'd say I had a serious case of something else). On the back of the box under WARNING! was "this product may cause drowsiness"! Duh! This must be one of those warnings designed to save us from ourselves. Never mind the word "may" -- this product had better cause drowsiness!
June 4, 2008: We actually had to pull the sheet up on us last night as the temperature cooled to 80 degrees. It felt like heaven! We spent the day doing boat chores; there's no getting around them! The wind picked up and came from every direction. We kept wondering if we should relocate within the anchorage, but felt we were in a good spot when/if the winds came from the south. I had offered to host happy hour today but by 1730, the wind was blowing in the low-to-mid 20s and Emily B did not feel comfortable launching their dinghy. So we loaded up our bags and went to Emily B. We spent another fun evening socializing, but we cut it short because the wind was picking up into the low 30s. We had a very wet ride back to Mañana and then struggled to put the dinghy on the davits and take the bimini down! The winds continued in the 30s all night, with a peak gust of 39 kts. As I've said before, I do NOT like high winds at night! Jim tried mightily to alleve my fears, and although I acknowledged everything he said, I was still very anxious. I tried ear plugs, but could still hear the wind howling. When he asked if there was anything he could do to make me feel better, my response was "Get me outta here!" We've had more wind in the past 2 weeks than we've had in the last 6 months. Ah! the joy of cruising in the Sea!
June 3, 2008: So much for the morning being calm! Winds started up around 0100 and we had gusts in the mid-20s. Normally the middle of the night is when it's the coolest, but with the winds came the heat and the thermometer went up into the low 90s -- it felt like we were standing in front of a blast furnace. Maitairoa indicated that their weather instrument recorded only 10% humidity! The fan at the foot of our bed didn't touch the heat and we spent a very sweaty and uncomfortable night. Needless to say, there would be no snorkeling this morning as the water was choppy from the winds that continued to blow. Emily B left for Loreto to pick up friends at first light. We hailed them after listening to the morning weather report to see if they wanted to go to Plan B, which they had already done! We left Perico South at noon. Jim noticed that the lines on the boat are totally dry (normal 30% humidity and last night's 10% most likely are the reason for this!) and are stiff as a board. The lines will need to be soaked in fresh water to make them pliable. We took our time and poked along the east side of Isla Carmen, popping into Punta Colorado (not to be confused with the dozen other * Colorados). It looks like a nice anchorage, but not with 20 kt. winds blowing over and down the mountain side. We had Candeleros Chico all to ourselves, but not knowing what the weather was going to do (predicted to switch to south tonight or tomorrow), we didn't feel it would be a good place to be. Emily B checked out the west end of Ensenada Blanca and deemed it rolly but acceptable, so we joined them. We had a great evening catching up with friends, Bill & Judy. The wind died down, the rolls stopped and it was a beautiful evening.
Mañana at Sunset
(picture by Maitairoa)
June 2, 2008: Despite our good intentions to explore the beach and/or snorkel in the quiet morning hours before the wind kicks up, we ended up spending the morning on the boat. I was in the last 50 pages of Mortal Fear by Greg Iles (a great read) and the generator needed running. We took advantage of having power, plugged my power-hungry computer in to charge and Jim worked on the website, adding another chapter to Jan's Journal. We've had several bees buzz us so the fly swatter is living on the table. I hope this doesn't mean that we're about to be run out of the anchorage. There are a bunch of anchorages in this area but some are only suitable in north winds, others in south winds. Several are uninhabitable because of either bees or dying squid. In the end, then, there are precious few places where we can actually go. We did make it out for a dinghy tour after lunch and found a couple areas where the snorkeling looked like it would be very good, but we opted to do that in the morning when things are calm.
Perico South, Isla Carmen
June 1, 2008: It was a VERY hot night! At one point the wind began to blow and Jim got up for an anchor check. The wind was from the west and it was a very hot wind. We might possibly be able to remove the flybridge cushions and sleep on the aft deck, but it was dewey out. Still, we need our sleep. I'm really torn between taking a sleeping pill to put me to sleep vs fighting the heat. Ugh! And some people think we are in paradise! I'd give my eye teeth for air conditioning right now! It's hard to believe it's June 1, but it's been summer to us since last November! Emily B invited us for banana pancakes. We supplied bacon and orange juice. I realized that we had several bottles of "bubbly" that friends had given us, so we brought that, too! What better way to start a Sunday than with mimosas! We returned to Mañana around noon time, too full to even think about lunch! Clouds moved in and a nice light wind picked up. Jim and I sat on the flybridge reading in the relatively cool afternoon. At 1700 we dinghied to Maitairoa bearing a bottle of wine and blue cheese quesadillas. Emily B and Native Dancer (Gail and Doug) were right behind us. We spent a wonderful evening making new friends and eating wonderful food -- per the norm, there was no shortage of booze! Alex (Maitairoa) is a net controller who we have talked to a hundred times. It was nice to finally put a face to the voice! By 2100 Jim was in sufficient pain that we headed back to our boat so he could lay down. I'll feel better when Jim feels better, but if his spine is bruised, it may take months.
On the Way to Perico South
(photo by Emily B)
May 31, 2008: After listening to the morning weather, we followed Emily B out of the anchorage. It was pretty rolly as we got out of the shelter of the island, but thankfully the wind hadn't picked up. Several pods of dolphins passed us and we saw rays jumping and turtles swimming. We dropped our anchor in Perico South on the east side of Isla Carmen 3.5 hours later. This isn't a large anchorage, but it's quite pretty with a combination of colorful rock formations and cactus. With Emily B and Mañana, there are now 5 of us at anchor. It looks like there are ample places to explore and perhaps snorkel. Isla Coronado was a decent anchorage, but I equated it to pulling off the side of the highway when you wanted to rest vs actually getting off the highway and exploring a small country town. After lunch we dinghied to Emily B so that Dean could take a look at Jim's back. Both Dean and Jennifer are holistic doctors; their diagnosis is extreme ligament bruising with possible bruising to the bone. Jennifer felt pretty certain that Jim would live, which is very good news in my book! They gave him some medicine and will check him again tomorrow afternoon. We are very grateful for their willingness to help Jim. The cold snap from earlier in the week is gone and it is hot (93) once again...the water looks very inviting! We had leftovers for dinner. I sure do appreciate not having to slave over a hot stove when it's hot out -- heck! I don't even like slaving over a hot stove when it's cold out! :)
May 30, 2008: Jim wanted to head out today, but I requested that we stay here another day, since this anchorage isn't bad (except when the wind changes direction and it smells). I did a couple small loads of laundry, taking advantage of no bees, and Jim gave me a hair cut. His back is still very sore so I think he was just as happy to stay put. We ran the generator and made water...basically had a quiet day.
May 29, 2008: After listening to the weather report, we upped anchor and went to Loreto so we could provision. Armed with our map and Doug's information, we were able to get our chores done in record time. We stopped at the Cafe Ole for an early lunch before returning to Mañana. I would have liked to play tourist a bit but we were both ladened with HEAVY back packs and canvas bags. The shopping expedition was successful! Food is more expensive in Loreto so we bought only what we absolutely needed. The wind was just starting to pick up when we return to the boat. Originally we thought we'd return to the north side of the sand spit on Isla Coronado, but Spirit Quest reported that there were hundreds of dead squid washed up on the beach and it smelled really rank. The next thought was either back to San Juanico or to the east side of Isla Carmen, but that would have been a 4 hour trip and neither of us felt like cruising today. So we returned to the south side of the island. The smell varied, depending on which way the wind was blowing from, but luckily we have incense aboard. Jim's back is really sore; the back pack hit against his bruises several times, despite his efforts to keep it from doing so. Emily B also made the trip into Loreto. When they returned to the anchorage, Dean told us that the lifting bridle for his dinghy had been stolen. Jim checked our spares locker and discovered that he'd kept the lifting bridle from our old dinghy. Amazingly, it was the exact size that Dean needed! What are the odds?! Jennifer and Dean joined us for happy hour before heading back to Emily B.
May 28, 2008: Jammin' stopped by with an extra bottle of rice vinegar and Winsome came by with their jerry jugs for more water. Finally, some time after 1000 we decided it was time to bid one another farewell, and we got underway for the south anchorage of Isla Coronado. The wind was in the mid-20s when we arrived; white caps and generous-sized wind waves were in the anchorage. We nosed our bow into the wind and dropped our anchor next to Emily B. We heard Imagine on the VHF so I hailed them and we chatted for a few minutes. Unfortunately we won't be able to meet up this time around, but at least we'll be able to keep in touch in the future. Jim's back and arm are starting to feel better. He had a heat pack on it yesterday and after that, it's been feeling better, which is a good thing! We were invited to dinner on Emily B, but we had to wait until the seas in the anchorage calmed down before we launched the dinghy. After dinner, Doug (Spirit Quest) stopped by, so we had our own mini DeFever rendezvous going on! Doug gave us lots of good information regarding where to find the stores we'd be looking for, although Jim and I think we remember the town.
The Cruisers' Shrine, San Juanico
May 27, 2008: We weren't 100% sure that we wanted to go with the beer can for the cruisers' shrine, so we put our heads together, tossed about some ideas and came up with Plan D. It didn't take long to implement and by 1230 we were ready to head to shore. Jammin' had stopped by earlier in the morning; Dave thought it only fitting that the 6 of us put our shrines on the tree at the same time, given that we survived the storm together. What Jim and I decided on was a quilted sign board. We printed onto fabric and then I sewed borders and did a little quilting. We hung it on one of the inside branches so that the sun doesn't disintegrate the fabric too soon. From there we walked the beach, picking up shells. I was looking for a specific flat scallop shell, which I think will make a pretty necklace. As we will all be going in different directions tomorrow, Jim invited everyone over to Mañana for a farewell potluck dinner. Jammin' brought a bean salad, Winsome made pad thai and we provided tuna. Nari sushi started the meal off and brownies, chocolate cake and 1/2 bottle of rum rounded the evening off. We had a great time and no one left until 2300!
May 26, 2008: Happy Memorial Day! We heard from Emily B on this morning's net. DeFever friends from Seattle will be arriving Loreto next Monday for a week with Emily B; we were invited to join them in an anchorage someplace for a day or two before we start south back to LaPaz. It was a beautiful day -- cool breeze but warm sun. I polished the stainless rails on the flybridge. It's really a pain in the neck as the salty air causes a rust build-up almost daily. I gave them a good polish so hopefully it will last a week. I'll work on the davits tomorrow (the polishing needs to be done before the sun gets too hot). Jim spent a frustrating day trying to get his Canadian charts to load onto the computer. His back is extremely tender so we hung around the boat. We still haven't seen or heard from Imagine. I keep thinking we should see them rounding the point any minute but so far, no joy. We joked that we would stay here until we ran out of food...well, we're running out of lunch fixings: tortillas and rolls, tostadas, tomatoes, red onion and avocado. We seem to be okay with breakfasts and dinners. The other thing we did was try to decide what to leave at the cruisers' shrine (the only living tree in San Juanico). As of right now, a beer can is our top choice -- what else relays a mañana attitude than a can of beer?!
Scenes from "Paradise"
May 25, 2008: It was downright COLD last night! When Jim got up to do an anchor check early this morning, it was 63 degrees! This is a far cry from what the temperature normally is, but I'm not complaining (too loudly). I'd much rather it be cool than hot, although it does dampen the desire to go snorkeling. I finished my wall hanging and am very pleased with the finished piece. It's extremely whimsical! Jammin' stopped by and invited us to walk the beach with them and Winsome. I think everyone has a touch of cabin fever and we were all anxious to get off the boats. We walked the beach, picking up shells and we came across hundreds of what we called beach roaches -- ugly critters! Helen and I stayed on the beach while everyone else decided to climb up one of the trails that goes along the hills. Neither of us had proper shoes for the trail conditions. We watched as the group climbed one hill after the next, climbing higher and higher. On the way back down, Jim slipped, cutting his arm and landing on his back. By the time we returned to the boat, he had a huge knot on his lower back. I administered an ice pack to him as soon as I saw how bad it was; will have to keep an eye on it. We are about 25 miles from Loreto should he need medical treatment. At 1730 we dinghied over to Oasis for happy hour; we had so much fun chatting that it was nearly 2200 before we got back to our boat!
Where's the Catnip?
May 24, 2008: The weatherman says the that storm is gone and normal weather (winds from the north) should return, although it will be on the cool side for the next several days. With that thought, we moved over to the north side of the anchorage; Winsome and Jammin' followed. We had a "Duh!" moment when we realized that my camera takes videos! Why we haven't realized this before is beyond me, but last night, Jammin' showed us a video taken with his little camera and that got us to thinking. Dang! I could have had terrific shots of the pilot whales next to us! Oh well! Lesson learned and from now on, I'll have it with me when we're underway. I took advantage of having to stay on board the boat while we made power and water and dug my sewing machine out. I wanted to finish the new wall hanging that I started back in Tenacatita. While I was doing that, Jim was busy playing with movie software on his Mac computer and had put a mini production together with the video I had shot. He did a great job, but I'm not sure I'll be able to talk him into putting it on the net! Winsome and Jammin' stopped by in the afternoon. Winsome's watermaker died and we'd offered them water. Jim and the guys hung out in the galley talking guy talk while Jaye and I were in the aft cabin talking quilting! By the end of the day, my wall hanging was finished except for hand stitching the binding. You could tell the storm was over -- we had 4 more boats join us in the anchorage.
May 23, 2008: It was an extremely quiet night -- thank heavens! We woke to a heavily overcast sky and the weatherman said that it is 20 degres cooler than it was on Tuesday. We should be enjoying the cooler weather, but we have become wimps and think 70 is cold! The weather forecast indicates that the storm isn't finished with us yet; the wind is expected to change direction and swing out of the SE. We have been well protected from the SW winds, but there's no place in the anchorage to hide from SE winds. We talked to Imagine on the morning net and it sounds like they may come to San Juanico in the next few days. We bought Mañana from them back in 2000. After our 1000 coffee, Jim put the dinghy in the water with the idea that we would explore the beaches. But first we visited Jaye and Irwin on Winsome. While we were chatting, Jammin' joined us and we planned our survival potluck for 1700. By the time we left Winsome, the wind had changed direction out of the SE and there was a surf break on the beach. We decided to forego beach combing until the storm subsides (supposedly tomorrow). It was rolly all afternoon; I'm sure the flopper stoppers were doing something, but it didn't really feel like it! At 1715 we donned our foul weather gear, swung by Winsome to pick up Jaye and Irwin and headed off to Jammin'. It was a VERY wet ride but we looked on the bright side and knew the return trip would be down wind! But we had a terrific evening with lots of delicious food: blue cheese quesadillas, cheese and crackers, vegetable lasagna, Chinese salad, tomato & cuke salad and deluxe brownies for dessert. We looked at Winsome and Mañana and were glad we were on Jammin' as she seemed to be rolling the least of the 3 boats. In the time we were visiting, the wind switched direction back to the SW so our return trip ended up being another wet one as we were, once again, travelling into the wind waves! Wind during the day was predominantly in the high teens with gusts in the mid-20s.
Another Crazy DC Photo!
May 22, 2008: The wind died around 0130 for several hours, allowing us to get some much-needed sleep. Unfortunately it came back with a vengence around 0500 and we recorded a gust of 47 kts (55 mph)! The wind was blowing so hard that it was blowing the tops off the waves sideways. How lucky for us to be fortunate enough to see this phenomenon in an anchorage (I'm being slightly sarcastic)! Again, we listened to both Don and Gary's forecasts in the morning and they agree that the storm will stay with us throughout tomorrow. We talked via VHF with our anchorage neighbors, Winsome and Jammin'. Everyone agreed to stay put today; we know the holding is good and physically we are comfortable (there is no fetch). It just sounds like hell! The wind died down in mid morning, giving us an opportunity to give the boat a once over for anything that did or could come loose or rattle; Jim performed some maintenance on the anchor bridle. It stayed calm throughout the day -- we laugh that we consider 20 kts. "calm"! We wondered if it was the calm before the storm! The barometer climbed a little, but fell again in the afternoon. We passed the time reading and playing Farkel and cribbage. I took a nap trying to make up for lost sleep last night. I really dislike wind but if it has to blow, I'd prefer it to blow during the daylight hours rather than at night. I'm not a huge fan of the dark! We listened to Don on the evening net and he is still predicting high winds for the next 36 hours, but supposedly they should start dying down to the 15-30 kt. range. For now, Mañana is keeping us safe and snug as a bug in a rug. We suspect the anchor is probably buried halfway to China and we have a "we survived the storm" potluck to look forward to with Winsome and Jammin' once this bloody wind finally quits!
May 21, 2008: The winds started around 2300 and I thought I heard voices so I got out of bed to see a small boat headed our way, backwards. This was someone who came in yesterday and mentally didn't appear to have all cylinders functioning. The guy started his engine when he got abeam of us, but by then we were both a bit nervous of what he was doing, so we sat up on the flybridge for a while watching him. We took the opportunity to put the dinghy on the davits -- paranoia on my part. We listened to the wind howl all night long; mostly it blew in the low-to-mid 20s, but we had a couple gusts around 30 kts. Our thought was the storm had arrived early. At 0700 we dragged ourselves out of bed and folded the bimini. I was very tired of hearing it beat itself to a premature death all night long. We listened to the weather on both the Sonrisa and Amigo nets and both weathermen indicated that the storm hadn't arrived yet, but they were both predicting it to be a doozy. The difficult thing with anchorages in the Sea is that the weather is extremely localized. "Winsome" checked in from San Juanico, which is just on the other side of the point from where we were, saying they hadn't had more than 15 kts. during the night and Puerto Escondido, south of us, reported no wind. So we made an executive decision to relocate ourselves to San Juanico. We hope we made the right decision of where in the anchorage we decided to drop our anchor -- it's really a crap shoot trying to decide if we'll have better wind protection here vs. there, or will the sea swells be worse, etc. And if we made the wrong decision, hopefully all we'll get for it will be a sleepless night. We napped in the afternoon, figuring we'd best get sleep in while we could. There was virtually no wind all day, but the barometer fell 5 millibars, so we knew the storm wasn't too far away. Another listen to Don confirmed the forecast still stood for localized winds 25-40 kts., but they are now scheduled to last through Friday. Yuk! The winds picked up around 1930, going literally from 0 to the low 20's. It was not a fun night. We were up several times as the wind blew steadily in the low-to-mid 30s, and we had one gust of 42 kts. The cats were spooked by the noise and insisted on sleeping with us. Ah! The family that sleeps together stays together! :)
Sea Life Under La Ramada
Left: sergeant majors and one juvenile male wrasse
Right: juvenile giant damselfish
May 20, 2008: We listened to a different net this morning; high winds are still forecasted beginning tomorrow afternoon. We didn't have to worry about "weather" when we were on the mainland; every day was predictably sunny with light offshore winds in the morning and usually a bit stronger onshore winds in the afternoon. We both tackled boat projects early, before the heat cranked up. I polished the stainless rails and davits and Jim climbed into the engine room to start the fuel transfer process. We had another fish boil, this time beside our boat. I don't know what the difference was, but this boil had the pelicans and gulls extremely interested and there wasn't a boobie in site. Pelicans enter the water in what looks like a controlled crash and they make a huge splash. There is nothing graceful about a pelican! After lunch we changed into our swimsuits and went to shore, where we introduced ourselves to our anchorage neighbors, Bella Nile, who were getting ready to do some snorkeling. We walked the beach but the only thing in abundance was dead birds. We returned to Mañana; Jim dug out our snorkeling gear while I was trying to find our lycra suits. Several minutes later we were back at the beach with me trying to remember how to snorkel (I'm not a water person). The lycra suits fit a little more snug than they did 4 years ago but worked just fine. The water was cool (74) but refreshing. We spent 15-20 minutes snorkeling in the anchorage and then relocated ourselves on the outside. Unfortunately the sea swells and wind waves were up and it would have been a bit more challenging for me, so I stayed in the dinghy while Jim explored. I was so tempted to put my mask on and stick my head overboard -- there were so many more beautiful fish than were inside the anchorage. Jim returned to the dinghy 10 min. later, raving at what he'd seen, so weather and seas permitting, we may try it again tomorrow morning, before the winds kick up. We tested the bee situation by washing everything off with fresh water and leaving it all out to dry on the aft deck; not one bee visited us! Dinner was yummy tortellini in a meat sauce.
May 19, 2008: We would have preferred to stay at anchor in Isla Coronado enjoying our morning coffee until mid morning but another cruiser decided to start his very noisy dive compressor at 0800. So much for anchor etiquette! So we headed out, destined for San Juanico, 20 miles away. The south wind picked up as we were approaching the anchorage. We hailed one of the boats in the anchorage and asked how comfortable the anchorage was, given the wind direction, and what the bee situation was. Good news and bad...the good news was there were no bees; the bad news was the anchorage was becoming uncomfortable. Jim and I went to Plan B, which was to check out La Ramada, a tiny anchorage around the point from San Juanico. We anchored in shallow water, leaving room for any other sailboat that might choose to come this way. This is another pretty anchorage; actually, the majority of anchorages up in the Sea are lovely. Susan and Paul (Eleanoa) rowed over to say hi; Susan is a net controller and it's always fun to talk in person rather than on the radio! The wind whipped 15-20 kts across the hills and down through the gaps, howling at times. Given the conditions, we opted to stay on board and do our exploring when the winds die down. We listened to Don, the weatherman, who is forecasting southwest winds up to 25 kts beginning Weds. inside the Sea, so it sounds like we may stay put here until the end of the week, as we are sheltered nicely from the sea waves caused by south winds. In the evening we watched dozens of boobies have a feeding frenzy on a large fish boil just outside the anchorage. Boobies enter the water in what looks like a free fall. There were so many boobies feeding that at times it appeared that the boobies were dropping out of the sky and occasionally dropped on top of one another! Mother Nature is amazing!
May 18, 2008: Jim was awake several times during the night. On one of the times he asked me if I could hear the slapping noise. I couldn't, so I climbed out of bed and stood beside the screen door. What I think we were hearing was a whale or whales slapping the water; then we'd hear the exhale sound. It sounded like it was in the anchorage with us, but the bay was illuminated by the nearly-full moon and we didn't see any splashing. Sound on water carries and distance is deceptive. It could have been several miles away, but to me, it sounded way too close and spooked me! After a nice breakfast, we left Ensenada Blanca, not sure where we were going. Someone on the local morning net indicated that Bahia Maquar on Isla Carmen was still having a bee problem, so we crossed that destination off the list (that was where we got swarmed in May '04). Instead we headed to Puerto Ballandra on the northern end Isla Carmen. Maybe we should have anticipated that if there were bees in Maquar, there'd be bees in Ballandra, but the guide books spoke so highly of Ballandra that we were curious. Ballandra has a tiny opening but a wide bowl-shaped anchorage rimmed with beach and turquoise water. It's really lovely inside; however, within 30 min, several wasps and bees were in and around the boat and I was totally freaked. Needless to say, we upped anchor immediately, continuing north to Isla Coronado. This, too, is a lovely anchorage with a pure white sand beach, so bright that it almost hurts the eyes. Unfortunately there were bees here too, but at least there weren't any of the ugly wasps. Jim sat up on the flybridge reading and killed about 30 bees; I stayed inside with the door shut! On the good side, though, there are no bobos! As I've said before, you can have this or that; not this and that! Spirit Quest, DeFever friends, pulled into the anchorage in the late afternoon. At 1900, once the bees had gone, we went over to their boat and chatted for a couple of hours. Doug commented that the bees are early this year and each week seems to be bringing more and more bees to anchorages -- great! :-(
May 17, 2008: We had a leisurely morning; it felt good not to have to climb out of bed early. After lunch we dinghied to shore and walked around. I was hoping to find some nice shells, but they were not to be found here. What we did discover is that the buildings are part of an eco resort. I think that means you pay lots of money for someplace with no water or electricity. This beach is part of the Mexican national parks and as such, camping is allowed in designated areas, but pets aren't. We saw few people on the beach. The water is incredibly clear but we didn't see any colorful fish, only a few box fish in the shade of the boat. A couple wasps came into the boat; they were history with one smack of the fly swatter. Unfortunately this anchorage seems to be in bobo territory, although there isn't a horrible infestation. But bobos have an outer layer that is made of steel, so a good smack only stuns them and then they fly away, only to return to bug you later on. They don't bite -- they are more of a nuisance in that they like to buzz your eyes, ears and nose.
Pilot Whale and Dinner!
May 16, 2008: Today was the type of day that makes you forget about the snotty passages. And to be honest, I wish every passage could be like today's! I swear I wouldn't get tired of calm passages! We left Los Gatos around 0745 -- there was no wind, the sea was flat and the sun was warm. Jim put not one, but two, trolling lines out. He was bound and determined to catch something other than bonito or sea weed! We had dolphin after dolphin pass us by, leaping high into the air. Again, not the type of dolphins that swam in our bow wake but fun to watch. A while later we noticed splashing on the water. A look through the binoculars showed the splashing to be caused by 4 large manta rays. We slowed the boat and watched them frolic no further than 50' away from us. We've seen other types of rays but this was our first time spotting manta rays. As we continued north, we watched as yet another pod of dolphins approached us, but this pod, we joked, was the geriatric group because they were going so slow. As they got closer to us, we realized that their heads were bulbous shaped, they were larger, their dorsal fin was different, as was their tail fin. Jim ran below and grabbed our "cheat sheet". What we were seeing was a herd of pilot whales! Luckily we had the camera on the flybridge with us. Jim started shooting pictures and we put the boat into neutral. When we did that, several of the whales headed directly towards us and swam with us, not more than 20' away. This was seriously WAY KEWL!! There were about 12 whales in the herd, and they averaged 12-15' long -- not overly intimidating when they were coming our way! The whales swam off when we put the boat back into gear. As we were approaching Aqua Verde, Jim noticed lots of birds flying and diving into the water ahead of us. We changed course and slowed the boat, then made a large circle, hoping to attract something for dinner (we'd been saying that a nice bbq'd pepper tuna steak would go nicely with last night's left over black bean salad). Just as we were straightening out of the circle, one of the reels went off -- FISH ON!! We scrambled around on deck, Jim fighting with whatever was on the other end of his line and me pulling the other line out of the water. I'm not sure how long it took, but he eventually landed a 40" (from mouth to V in tail) yellow tail tuna -- woo hoo! I vacuum bagged and froze over 7 lbs of tuna steaks, keeping one out for tonight's dinner. We arrived Ensenada Blanca at 1300 and realized that the last time we were here was 5/16/04, exactly 4 years ago to the day! Talk about coincidental! The bahia doesn't look much different than how we remember it from 2004; there are some small cottages on a bluff overlooking the bay and a thatched hut that may be a palapa. We have decided to stay here for a day or two, which will give us a chance to explore the beach.
Los Gatos and the Baja Coastline
May 15, 2008: DC woke us up at 0545. As there was no wind and all appeared calm, we climbed out of bed, had breakfast and got underway shortly after first light. The gorgeous sunrise made climbing out of bed early worth it! The sky ahead of us ranged from pale violet at sea level to pale blue as it meshed with the sky higher up, but as we turned our heads and looked towards the east, the pale violet gradually changed to mauves and pinks as a florescent orange sun rose above Isla Partida. Absolutely beautiful! We arrived San Evaristo a few hours later. Wind and sea conditions were still ideal, so we decided to make hay while the sun shines...or perhaps it's more like make nautical miles while the wind isn't blowing! We set a new course for Puerto Los Gatos, an additional 30 miles away. Jim put out a trolling line and caught 2 bonitos and a lot of sea weed, none of which we considered "keepers"! We passed lots of dinner-plate sized jelly fish, and many dolphins passed by us, leaping high into the air. Unfortunately they weren't the species that ride the bow wake, but they were still impressive and broke up the boredom of the trip (a boring passage is a good passage). We arrived Los Gatos around 1400. Three or four tents were set up on the beach on the north side of the anchorage; two pangas were at anchor. When we were here 4 years ago, a fisherman would stop by the boats and take orders for langostas (lobsters). Lobster would definitely taste yummy right about now...A couple of wasps buzzed in and around the boat so I put a screen on the open port door hoping that this would dissuade them from entering. The anchorage is a little rolly but is a pretty spot. This part of the Sea reminds us of the Grand Canyon; the beiges and pinks in the colors of the rocks gives this desert a stark and dramatic beauty. Occasionally there's a brush stroke of green or sage. The white sand beach begs us to come explore but for now we are on a mission to beat feet north as quickly as possible. Hopefully the weather will be conducive for us to spend enough time here on our way south to do some beach combing and snorkeling on the reef that splits the anchorage.
Not Your Average Cruiser
May 14, 2008: Jim was up several times during the night doing anchor watch. We have to acclimate our ears to the sound that the anchor makes when it drags across the bottom of this anchorage -- it sounds like thunder rumbling in the distance. When we got up in the morning, the water was clear enough for us to make out the bottom, and we were in 28' of water! We said goodbye to Karma and headed north out of the anchorage towards San Evaristo. The sea was back to its norm and we were bashing north into 15 kt. winds. After one hour, we looked at each other and asked why we were punishing ourselves?! A friend once told us, "There's a reason they call it 'pleasure boating'!" We aren't on any schedule and there was no reason to beat ourselves, the cats or the boat up. So we turned around and headed for Ensenada Grande, a large anchorage near the northern tip of Isla Partida. As we neared the entrance, we couldn't help but see, as Jim calls it, "someone's little putt-putt". This is not your average cruiser! Attessa is 230' long and comes complete with helicopter. Her tender (dinghy) is longer than Mañana! Now I admit that I'd like a little more space, but Attessa is overkill! Still, I'd love to see her interior and Jim would love to see her engine room! The wind continued to blow all afternoon, but we were comfortable. Other cruisers sought shelter from the winds in the anchorage as the day progressed, but no one put dinghies in the water. Jim and I sat up on the flybridge reading and admiring the incredibly clear and turquoise water. Thankfully we haven't encountered bees or bobos (yet).
May 13, 2008: Jim filled the gas jug so we'll have plenty of dinghy fuel and I hosed the boat off; the water truck apparently arrived some time last evening. It's amazing how dirty the boat was -- brown water poured off it. Yuk! We checked out of LaPaz, but made a reservation with the marina to return around June 25. We left the marina on schedule (for a change) with the thought that we would anchor in Estero Balandra, but the seas were flat calm (something must be wrong!) so we continued on to Caleta Partida, a good-sized cubby hole on Isla Partida, about 30 miles from LaPaz. Jim scanned the anchorage as we were entering and got excited when the binoculars fell on a large trawler named Karma. We came down the outside of the Baja in November with Richard and Krista. We parted ways when at Magdalena Bay; they headed north up into the Sea and we headed south to Zihuatanejo. Our anchor hadn't been set more than 10 min. before Jim had the dinghy in the water and we were on our way over to say hi to them. They hadn't initially planned on stopping here, either, so it must have been fate working that brought us both to the same anchorage. We visited for a couple of hours before returning to Mañana. We had a store-bought roasted chicken for dinner, watched a movie and then called it a night.
May 12, 2008: The day started off deliciously! We dinghied over to Tahoma, who are anchored in the virtual marina (Hurricane Marty destroyed the marina in 2003 and the docks have never been rebuilt; however, the marina office is still open, they have a dinghy dock, and still own the water rights.). Knowing Jim's cravings for pancakes, Linda invited us over for her famous sourdough blueberry pancakes. Mmmm, mmmm, good!! She served turkey bacon, juice and coffee, definitely rating a "10" from us! After breakfast we dinghied to the beach, where Jim pumped more air into the dinghy using the pump we borrowed from Adios. Bob had offered to shuttle Jim and Ray around on a parts run, but shortly after 1300, we received a hail from Tahoma saying their van had broken down and they had no tools with them. So Jim headed off with a crescent wrench in hand. The guys ended up going in various directions on foot. While Jim was out I did one more load of laundry. By mid-afternoon, it was 98 degrees outside -- way too hot for performing any work outside. I figured I'd hose the boat off in the evening when it started cooling down, but the marina office notified everyone that the marina's water tanks had run out of water and it wasn't known when the water truck would arrive. We aren't in Kansas anymore, Toto! There went any and all thoughts of showers, etc. We had dinner at Rancho Viajo, one of our favorite restaurants. There will be no dinners out while we are in the Sea as more than 90% of the anchorages are uninhabited (and those with stores/restaurants don't have adequate anchorage).
May 10-11, 2008: Happy Mother's Day to all moms in Mexico (5/10) and the US (5/11). We continued boat projects; I did a couple loads of laundry while Jim brought the new motor down to the boat. By mid-afternoon, he had the motor running and took the dinghy out for a short ride. The motor will have to go through the break-in process all over again. On Sunday we joined Adios and Tahoma for a Mother's Day breakfast. After breakfast, Bob graciously offered to drive us to CCC so we could provision. When we couldn't find everything we were looking for at CCC, he drove us to Soriano's. We are obviously eating well, based on the amount of food we brought on board! Boat projects continued through the afternoon. Jim installed a new water cooling pump and thru-hull fitting; it's our hope that the new pump will help keep the refrigerator cooler so that the batteries don't run down as quickly. Time will tell! At 1700 we joined Adios and Tahoma again for dinner at La Panga restaurant. This restaurant is known for its Caesar salads. The waiter brought a large bowl out to our table and made the salad there. It was quite a show and the salad was delicious. We decided to stay in the marina one more day. Milking the unlimited electricity for all its worth, we watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding before going to bed.
May 9, 2008: Jim cemented the new lift patches in place and we hope that the cement cures properly. Directions say not to do it near the water, not to do it in the heat or humidity and not to put any tension on them for several days. Having the dinghy on the boat was about as far from the water as we could get and we did it in the morning when it was only in the 70s. Normally it's very dry here, but LaPaz is experiencing a "pineapple express" weather system, so it's humid. Time will tell, I guess! I washed the main salon curtains and quilt -- what a difference water and soap makes! The curtains will need to be replaced when we return; the sun is disintegrating the muslin lining. I made them back in 2002 and paid $15 for the material, so they owe me nothing. I dug my sewing machine out and made 4 catnip mice for our cruising friends' cats. Jerry was in 7th heaven with the smell of catnip in the boat! Once the mice were made, I began work on my applique wall hanging. I've never done applique before so this is learning under fire, but I think it's coming out pretty good, and I think I have enough batting on board to quilt the thing, assuming I can finish the applique while we're in the marina. At 1600 we joined a small group at the Ciao Molina restaurant and played Mexican Train dominos. We hadn't played that in 4 years and I won! Every anchorage has its own rules so we learned the LaPaz way of playing...lots of fun! Altata's port captain's report has been received and our new outboard actually arrived on time (I think that's a first!). Jim's been in touch with the insurance company and the claim is going forward. Jim had previously volunteered to run tonight's Southbound net but at 1800, a large steel Mexican trawler pulled into the slip across from us. Fiesta shut her engines down, but kept the generator running. So Jim popped over and asked if they'd be shutting things down soon...the answer was no! Not only would they not be shutting things down "soon", but they would not be shutting things down all night long. This answer did not make us happy and Jim was unable to do the net because of all the electrical interference. I suspect a bunch of us will be filing complaints with the marina office in the morning.
May 8, 2008: Same old, same old happening here so I thought I'd give you a little something to chew on.
A Quote from Sterling Hayden's Book, Wanderer: "To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea... "cruising" it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.
"I've always wanted to sail to the South Seas, but I can't afford it." What these men can't afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of "security." And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine - and before we know it our lives are gone.
What does a man need - really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in - and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That's all - in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade.
The years thunder by. The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.
Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?
- Sterling Hayden (Wanderer, 1973)"
May 7, 2008: We went out to breakfast with Tahoma; they had discovered a little restaurant that served a lot of food for very little money. If we were planning to stay longer, it would be a definite repeat. We changed into our grubby clothes, scratched our heads and tried to figure the best way to get the dinghy up onto the aft trunk cabin. Just as we were getting ready to bring the dinghy onto the dock, Dean stopped by, so that saved my back! Once Jim and Dean got it onto the dock in front of the boat, Bernard from Simple Pleasures next to us joined the party and helped them carry the dinghy onto the finger next to us. Then Jim was able to raise the dinghy onto the trunk cabin using the mast boom. After that, Jim and I donned rubber gloves and went to town scrubbing the dinghy with straight acetone -- nasty stuff! It was looking much better after the first pass, but was still sticky in spots. We took a breather in mid-afternoon and assisted Dean in his project of hauling 300' of new anchor chain from the driveway, down the dock to his boat. Again, Bernard chipped in. Dean loaded 100' of chain in 3 different dock carts and the guys looked like the chain gang pushing the dock carts one behind the other as they walked down the dock! We had drinks on board Emily B and got to meet their new, 4-legged crew member. Luna the kitten is possibly 4 weeks old. She's the tiniest thing I've ever seen and she has the biggest eyes and ears! In Mexico, cats only have 7 lives and Dean thinks she's already used a couple of those in her short life! We had dinner at Ciao Molino, an Italian restaurant across the street from the marina. Weds. is jam night and the restaurant has a spaghetti and meatball special. Tonight the food was a lot better than the music!
May 6, 2008: Another cold (60 degrees) night, but on the positive side, it makes for good sleeping! Emily B checked in on the morning LaPaz net. We had noticed their boat in a nearby slip when we came in yesterday. We had a very productive day. Jim contacted the insurance company and put a claim in for both the dinghy and outboard. They will require a police report. While he was on Skype doing that, I was busy selling our 2-person inflatable kayak. In mid-morning we went our separate ways. Jim confirmed that our new outboard motor should arrive here in 5 days (famous last words), visited a translator (Yolanda) who contacted Altata's Port Captain and made a report for us. The girl in the Port Captain's office remembered us and said that she will fax the report to Yolanda tomorrow. Then he spent 3 hours at Telcel's office trying to get them to give us our credits. His comment about Telcel is "Telcel is Telcel." I headed up town to the mercado publico to buy veggies for tonight's dinner with Tahoma and Adios, bought a new sleeveless white top to replace the one that was ruined in Mazatlan and found tapioca and chocolate pudding -- score! We had a great dinner and evening with friends. I made beef and chicken fajitas and chilaquiles, and they supplied spanish rice, refried beans, pico de gallo and guacamole. Yum! Ray and Jaynie left early but Bob and Linda stayed on and taught us a dice game called "Farkel". We all had many laughs and somehow I managed to become the queen of farkeling. Sounds rather obscene; what's the saying? What happens in Mexico stays in Mexico!
May 5, 2008: Again, what a difference a day makes! The temperature dropped over 30 degrees in a 12 hour period and the wind was blowing a sustained 20 kts. when we woke up. I'd left all the doors and windows open when we'd gone to bed because it was so hot; Jim couldn't climb out of bed fast enough to shut everything down! It was COLD (63 degrees outside) and the anchorage was lumpy. Jim contacted Marina de LaPaz and was told they had one slip available. So we upped anchor and headed into LaPaz. By noon the temperature was back in the 90s and the wind had died. On our way to the marina office we ran into our friends on Bardan and other Ensenada friends on Gael Force (I walked Ensenada with the ladies from both boats). Shortly after we returned to our boat, Tahoma stopped by via dinghy. So our social network is in place! ;-) If you check our FM-3 visa, you'll see that LaPaz is officially listed as our home. And it does feel good to be back on familiar turf. But we have boat work to do and will start the projects mañana. For now, we are going to kick back, enjoy unlimited electricity, turn on our air conditioner and get more rest. And perhaps I'll pull out my iron and sewing machine and get a little quilting in. I could definitely use a little quilting therapy about now!
May 4, 2008: We had planned to anchor in Caleta Lobos but Adios came on the net and told us that the anchorage name had temporarily been changed to Caleta Bobos! So we continued our course and anchored with Adios in Bahia Falsa, which is a small anchorage just outside Pichilingue, the port where the ferries and freighters load and unload. Bardan heard us talking on the radio and hailed us. They hadn't expected to hear from us for another week or so. After a long nap, we had lunch and then washed the salt off the windows and rails before putting the screens up. The Baja is a completely different world from what we left just 24 hours ago -- quite literally as different as day and night! We are now dealing with a dry heat in the mid 90s and the bobos are currently climbing all over the interior windows. Gone is the lush green scenery, but the water is a beautiful turquoise and very clear. We'll hang out here, perhaps visit with Ray and Jaynie (Adios) and catch up on our lost sleep. These overnighters are definitely not for cissies! We watched a couple episodes of I Love Lucy before hitting the sack.
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